Categories
Reading Mathematics

Spatial ability can influence verbal ability

As a child, I loved LEGOs and spent hours upon hours building with them. We got Fleur Megablocks early and she aspired to build towers taller than her. I tried getting her in Duplos (toddler LEGOs), only to find her interested in the Minifig(ure)s. For the past 6 months she has really been interested in Magna-Tiles to build zoos for toy animals and houses for her Minifigs.

Coincidentally, she has also had a verbal explosion about the same time.

And I’ve run across a study looking at bleed over affects spatial ability into the verbal domain. These are older students, getting new lessons on spatial ability who then showed skill gains in verbal reasoning backed by changes in the brain through longitudinal fMRI scans.

The more students improved on spatial scanning and mental rotation, abilities that are specifically theorized to support mental modeling, the more they improved on verbal reasoning, and improvement on spatial scanning mediated the association of the spatial curriculum to improved verbal reasoning.

Robert A. Cortes et al. Transfer from spatial education to verbal reasoning and prediction of transfer from learning-related neural change. Science Advances, 8, 32. 2022. https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/sciadv.abo3555

This might be something akin to findings that students who struggle with reading find word problems more difficult, so improving reading also improves math ability. The mental modeling aspect is truly fascinating.

The SAT wants verbal and math to be separate things, but we keep finding that they are subtly linked.

Categories
play

Disney-fication: Annotation of life through song

For years now, Fleur has loved certain Disney movies. One common characteristic is this breaking out into song.

The song serves a purpose: explanation of the situation to carry the story. The protagonists have a need and express it through song.

The other day, Fleur started singing. Not one of the songs from a movie. Something made up about what she was doing.

So better than the movie.

Categories
learning Lil Miss Independent

Scaffold parenting

Fatherly has a good post on scaffold parenting. I am by trade a fixer, so hanging back and letting something else do it takes all of my patience. At work, I am in a new role, so I have my replacements doing the work and advising when they need help. Basically, using my parenting at the office.

Scaffolding is a process where an adult helps a child manage a task that they couldn’t otherwise manage on their own. It requires situational wisdom about when to provide children with temporary support, when to allow them to make mistakes by doing things on their own, and helping them through the reflection process when things don’t work out how they would like.

What Is Scaffold Parenting, and Should I Do It?
Only if you’re willing to grow alongside your child.
Fatherly.com April 22, 2022

Fleur craved physical independence, so I had to learn to let her do things. Right now she is also into social development. She loves her dolls, gave each a personality, and workshops her friendships. The challenge will be school and whether she approaches it like Ada or me. Hopefully Ada.

Categories
Daycare Games

Game: Teacher

Setup: The dolls are the students. I am the current teacher. Fleur is the parent or school administrator.

Action: I am to perform the things Fleur’s teacher does: read, talk about things, supervise naptime, etc.

The real tricks are the interruptions. Fleur as parent drops off the kid. Fleur as the school administrator takes the kid potty, to the gym. My personal favorite: she relieved me to go get lunch at naptime.

Categories
Parenting science

Future meteorologist

Fleur saw the clouds in the sky and declared to me it would rain. I thought she was right.

The taking information of the clouds. The pattern matching for the types of clouds seen against rain vs not rain clouds. When did it rain vs not? Making a hypothesis. And having the confidence to declare it.

She just needs to start recording her hypothesis, data, and results. She will need to learn to write first. And that is in process.

Categories
play

Pretend mental gymnastics

Playing pretend is so convoluted.

Working in information technology, I deal with contingency and complexity. Nested if conditionals and then outcomes.

In preschool play, things are far more fluid. The world building is intricately complex and mysterious. I ask a lot of questions meriting, “are you not paying attention,” responses. There seems to borrow from real life, fandoms, and random tangents.

For instance, the current game:

  • Fleur is Elsa. I am Anna. From Frozen.
  • Olaf and Sven are dead because a dinosaur stepped on them.
  • Various dolls are our kids. (A girl, a cow, a rabbit, and a lamb.)
  • We flew on a plane to Costa Rica. This came from asking if her teacher told her about her trip there.

From the outside, IT probably looks this arbitrary and eclectic. But, I promise we know what we are doing.

Categories
learning

Deep conversations

I love this preschooler age.

Galahad works for a package delivery company. I drop him off at work most mornings while taking Fleur to daycare. I encourage her to help him get to work by moving faster. So, naturally, she views this drop-off as her taking him to work. And, she points out every truck with their logo.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Today, we had a conversation about supply chain logistics. She was asking about a semi-trailer headed leaving town from the local warehouse. So I explained Galahad works for the depot taking things to people’s houses. The semis we see at the depot brought there the things he takes. Others take things from the airport to the warehouse.

THAT got her attention. Her teacher showed the class pictures of a trip, which connected her to the planes often flying over our house. The signs for the airport are commented upon every time she sees them. Ada took her to the airport a couple weeks ago to see the planes. Connecting the truck to the airport was ah-MAZE-ing.

When I recall things, I go through a series of how it is connected to other things. This scaffolding of information is the basis of how I explain things. And how I am building up understanding in my prodigy.

Categories
memory Parenting

Study: Type of play affects learning

I remember when we were looking for toys for the 9 month age. We were good already with passive toys. So, we were more interested in in good active toys. Somehow, I had forgotten one of the basic concepts in psychology: the best way to study for a test is to replicate the conditions of the environment where the exam will be taken.

The best way to recall the test information is to create a study environment closely resembling the testing situation. The difference between an A and a B could be sitting in a desk in a quiet room over laying on a couch with Metallica pumping through headphones.

This study essentially confirms similar in infants. They cycle through calm attentiveness, wakeful activity, and crying. Recall is better if the state matches the state at encoding.

We cycle through these states, so I need to ensure multiple encoding opportunities to get maximum coverage. Don’t just wait for or try to achieve calm attentiveness for a learning opportunity. (I do talk about physics of the activity while Fleur is in physical play. Just need to mix it up a bit.)

Sabine Seehagen, Silvia Schneider, Katharina Sommer, Laura La Rocca, Carolin Konrad. (2020) State‐Dependent Memory in Infants. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.13444

Categories
play

Pillars to enhance play

From the Good News Network, “Science-Backed Tips for Maximizing Play Time With Kids“. Thankfully, I do try to incorporate all of these when playing with Fleur.

Photo by Mr. Beanbum on Pexels.com

Pillar One: Active

Stay “active” as you play and interact with your child, for example, by incorporating literary and STEM elements into your speech and interactions.

Zosh said this could mean counting the apples out loud as you put them in your basket at the grocery store or asking your child what letter each block starts with as you build a tower. She also said asking lots of questions — such as “What would happen if we mixed these blue and yellow paints together?” or “What might happen if we stack the red square block on top of the yellow triangle block?” — can be helpful, as well.

Pillar Two: Engaged

“Try to limit distractions as much as possible, including background television and your own smartphone use,” Hassinger-Das said. “These types of distractions are sometimes unavoidable, but they do have the potential to take away from these high-quality times with your child. Focusing and staying engaged during play can help you make the most of these interactions.”

Pillar Three: Meaningful

Try building on topics the child is already interested in during play. If they like dinosaurs, you could suggest a make-believe scenario where you dig for dinosaur fossils at the playground. Or, you can integrate information about dinosaurs like counting how many bones they have and what they ate.

“If you are reading a book set in a different state, get out a globe or a map app and explore where the state is and how the weather there is different from where you live,” Zosh said. “Helping children build connections helps them weave together a rich world of understanding.”

Pillar Four: Socially interactive

The researchers advised letting your child lead in play time while you offer support along the way. For example, let your child decide what to build with blocks while asking questions like, “What would happen if you placed that block in a different direction?” or “How many more blocks do you think it would take to build a tower as tall as you?”

Pillar Five: Iterative

Children are naturally scientific thinkers — they like to experiment, see what happens, and try again and again until something works. The researchers advised giving your children opportunities to guess what will happen, conduct “experiments,” make up new words to favorite songs, and make mistakes. Every mistake leads to learning.

Pillar Six: Joyful

Finally, making playtime joyful can be done in many ways, including incorporating elements of surprise.

“Playing with shadows and asking which one is bigger or how you can make your shadow grow or shrink is one way to foster surprise and joy,” Hassinger-Das said. “Similarly, think about what helps your child connect with whatever brings them joy, from construction with a cardboard box to playing vet with their stuffed animals.”

Categories
Daycare

Shy

Something I have seen with kids Fleur’s age is shyness around strangers. This morning I sort of exploited that. Her new classmate experienced a lot of anxiety about the dropoff at daycare.

He was in tears, so I asked him what is my name. (We had a conversation about how we had the same one a couple weeks prior.) This went on for five minutes of encouraging him to answer, but the shyness kept him from doing so.

He stopped crying. He looked to mom for reassurance that I am okay. And was able to go on without any further fuss.