Children are individuals, with different interests and strengths and develop at different rates, therefore it is not helpful to compare children, especially siblings. Keeping this in mind, taking the time to observe and understand your child, you can help to support them accordingly. You can always record (write down) your observations such as interests, strengths, likes or dislikes or where they seem to be struggling, and then refer back at a later time.
I also keep in mind some tips I got from the book ‘Simplicity Parenting’ by Kim John Payne to Simplify which I have found to be rather helpful;
- Environment– to lessen overwhelm including sensory overload- at home I try to keep clutter and toys to a minimum creating a sense of peace and calm. Keeping toys in rotation helps.
- Rhythm– Increasing predictability by introducing rhythmic moments for connection and calm.
- Scheduling– Reducing schedule overload- brings moments for Being into all the Doing.
- Unplugging– Reducing the influence of adult concerns, media and consumerism on children and families to increase resilience, social and emotional intelligence.
Some non-toy ideas for around 4 years of age:
- Movement- go bush walking or hiking, explore forests, nature reserves, parks or just play outdoors and get lots of fresh air and sunshine.
- Gardening -look after an already established garden- weeding and watering, plant something new or re-pot some plants, learn how to compost, observe the changes in seasons. As the seasons change we have several garden visitors- bees, wasps, butterflies and spiders for example. It’s really interesting to observe when they visit, how long they visit for and what they are doing in the garden. We have seen spiders and wasps build webs and nests and bees collecting pollen and nectar.
- In the kitchen– cooking or baking. My children and I often spend time recipe developing, creating new foods to try and new recipes to make.
- Learn a new skill– maybe swimming, riding a bike or learning to use a scooter, throw a frisbee, kick, throw and catch a ball, hit a ball with a tennis racket for example, maybe learn a new language or instrument or join a team sport or other activity.
- Read, listen to and tell stories– read books together, make up stories, listen to audio books, act out/roll play
Toy and material ideas:
- Sewing– basic sewing or knitting
- Construction- blocks (magnetic and non magnetic), Lego (large or small), train sets, marble run, car tracks, puzzles for example.
- Card games and collaborative games such as memory match, charades, UNO or Jenga for example.
- Art supplies– my four year old wants to do whatever his sister is doing most of the time, so he is wanting to focus less on craft and more on learning drawing and painting skills. He will often work with playdough and sometimes clay. I think offering offering some kind of drawing, painting and molding supplies work well at this age.
- Books- non-fiction, fiction including poetry, possibly readers.
Developmentally I have noticed changes in the following areas so far;
- Movement (Gross motor)- increase in energy and stamina and refinement of skills such as more control of movement/s as well as better balance.
- Movement (fine motor)- more control of fine motor movements- from eating and dressing to drawing, painting and writing.
- Language development (including reading and writing- we have noticed changes at school and at home in skills and knowledge including speech and communication.
- Social and Emotional milestones/maturity- (grace and courtesy, exploring feelings, collaboration with others including problem solving, playing and learning at the same time)
- Care of Self- more independent/self-motivated in caring for themselves.
- Love of repetition and love of order.
Previous Blog Posts for the 3-6 years age group to support Independence including Practical Life ideas:
- 3-6 years – Some suggested jobs children can help with around the home
- 3-6 years- What your young child can do at home
- Some ways to simplify at home with children