At my monthly guesting in Anthony Pangilinan’s Magbago Tayo, last Saturday, I invited Teacher Tanya Velasco of GuruFirm and author of the blog Chronicles of a Teacher Mom. She specializes in Infants and Toddlers and is also a Family Life and Child Development Specialist. We discussed how to plan a child’s environment (space and time) at home, based on how we do it in the classroom.
First the Physical Environment or SPACE. When mapping your child’s space, whether it be in his room, in the car, etc.. categorize the space by the following :
1. Map the space in specific and functional areas. We decentralize our classroom into different learning areas: a rest area, play area, activity area, reading area, etc. You can demarcate each space with furniture like a shelf or table, a mat with a distinct color or with a picture on what that area is.
Mapping your child’s space in areas will develop skills like: sorting, visual-spacing, and categorizing. He will also learn how to clean up independently because he knows where everything should go after using them.
2. Separate the quiet from the active space. Downtime is important in your child’s schedule so he needs a quiet place for activities like resting or reading. Current studies show that even adults are encouraged not to bring in work in the bedroom to improve sleep. In the classroom, the rest area is far from the manipulatives or block area. The rest area can double as the reading area, though, because they are both quiet activities.
During the show last Saturday, one listener asked what if they live in a studio? You can still do it. Teacher Tanya had a great suggestion that an area can double as a play area by rolling out a mat to cue your child that it’s play time. Then when he needs to sleep already, the mat can be rolled back and tucked away for the same area to be the sleeping area.
Now let’s plan the temporal environment or your child’s TIME.
1. Plan the day into different routines. Like the physical space, you can map your child’s day into areas or routines. Sleeping, eating, playing, etc! When we plan our students’ class schedule , we have:
- Free Play – a time when your child can explore anything he’s interested in. This is an important part of his schedule so you can observe what his favorite activities are. Do you want to totally eliminate the sentence “I’m bored!” from his vocabulary? Well, having free play strengthens his creativity in entertaining himself which sadly have been replaced by gadgets these days.
- Circle Time – It’s a time for the members of the family to converse or bond! During circle time in the classroom, the teacher calls the students over to huddle and discuss what will happen in class. At home, you should carve time where you have intimate talks with your kids, regardless of age and preferably sans gadgets!
- Activity Time – There are a lot of extra-curricular and curricular activities available for your child.. There’s sports, music, reading, writing, cooking, etc! Unfortunately, we tend to overschedule our child’s day but filling it with activities that your child may not be interested in. Observe his interests and talk to him on the activities that you will put on the schedule. If your child is too young, choose 1-2 activities from different domains like sports and cooking, art and ballet, etc. Try to see if she won’t be too tired for the classes and choose a time when she’s most awake like in the mornings. For older kids, zone in on their interests because the activities available for them can be pricey. If he’s enrolling in guitar class, purchase an inexpensive guitar first because he may switch instruments or drop his interest altogether.
- Play Time – the most underrated block of time is play time. This is different from Rest Time because if you haven’t seen a child play, it is not restful!
2. Make use of Transitions. When moving from one routine to another, use transitions or prep them to move to the next routine. Teacher Tanya’s toddler Ellie knows when it’s time to pack away her toys and move to her rest time, because Teacher Tanya counts to 10 or sings a song that prompts Ellie. Young children find comfort in knowing what will happen next. The only reason a crying students stops crying from separation anxiety in school is because the routines and transitions are done consistently.
It’s interesting that while discussing this topic, we were able to also give tips to the parents as well! Planning your own SPACE and TIME as parents or teachers, is not so different from the points we talked about.
For more of Teacher Tina’s Parenting Tips, tune in to Magbago Tayo every Saturday at 8 am, Channel 59 and 92.3FM Radyo Singko.