Tag Archives: children

Promoting Cultural Development and Understanding in Children

Celebrate Our World – Country: Ethiopia

Promoting Cultural Development and Understanding in Children

Written by: Rachele Gentry

Children are curious. Why? What? How? The questions sometimes seem never-ending. Curiosity is vital, but what about the curious questions that provoke an awkward encounter? “Mom, why does that girl look that way?” Teaching and talking about diversity early on can provide children with answers to these questions, without the awkward encounters. 

What is Culture and Race?
Culture refers to the unique characteristics of a specific group: language, religion, food, social norms, music and arts. While culture generally stems from ethnicity, where one’s family originates, race is associated with biology, or one’s physical characteristics.  

Cultural Awareness of Others
Around six months of age, babies show preference for people of the same race. Although biases may begin at an early age, research shows that when children, as young as pre-school, learn about and interact with people of diverse cultures, rates of implicit racial biases decrease. There are several ways to promote racial harmony and decrease implicit racial biases for young children. The most important thing is to be positive and do not shame your child for asking tough questions. Children are never too young to talk about race. 

Modeling
• Children learn a vast majority through watching others, especially their parents
• Model an accepting attitude towards all people
• Have conversations about why people look, dress or speak differently in a positive manner

Promote Interracial Friendships
• Be aware of who your child’s friends are and ensure that they can spend time with all their friends, regardless of race

Extracurricular Activities
• Not all schools are diverse. A wonderful way to expose your child to diversity is to enroll them in sports, drama or other clubs that allow children from different neighborhoods to interact. 

Attend Cultural Events 
• Communities often have several cultural events throughout the year that are open to, and typically free, to everyone. 
Seattle Center has a diverse range of cultural event including festivals celebrating cultures such as: Brazilian, Arab, Tibetan and Hawaiian.

Expose Children to Diverse Characters
• Representation is important! Read books with racially and ethnically diverse characters
• Ensure that the books are culturally responsive and positive; the characters should be doing everyday things!

Imagine Children’s Museum Celebrate Our World
Imagine’s Art Studio celebrates a different country or culture the first Saturday of every month. Visit  https://www.imaginecm.org/programs-camps-events/celebrate-our-world/to learn more. 

“It is time for parents to teach young people that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

Sensory Processing

Sensory Processing: What is it and how can we Support it?

Written by: Rachele Gentry

Bright lights, loud conversations, kids crying … public spaces can be overwhelming for everyone, especially those with sensory processing sensitives. 

What is sensory processing?
Sensory processing is how our nervous system understands and organizes the details in the environment around us. For some people, their nervous system responds differently to certain stimuli, and may create an over- or under-sensitive response to everyday events in their environment. Common situations might include having an intense response to a loud noise, feeling agitated by the way clothing touches the skin and having adverse reactions to textures of specific foods. 

Many people attribute difficulty in loud and overwhelming environments as a symptom of Autism. While most individuals with Autism do experience sensory processing difficulties, processing differences and difficulties can affect anyone. 

Coping Strategies for Those with Sensory Processing Difficulties
Create a chill out zone; a quiet and organized space for a child to go to when things are too overwhelming. This space may include: 
  ◦ Low lighting
  ◦ Favorite books
  ◦ Noise cancelling headphones
  ◦ Weighted blanket

Allow your child to wear noise cancelling headphones in public 
  ◦ Reduces sound input significantly 
  ◦ Decreases overstimulation of one major sense 

Eliminate the use of fluorescent lights
  ◦ You may not even notice, but these bright lights produce a low-tone buzzing noise, which can be overstimulating 
  ◦ The intensity of the lights can be overwhelming

Allow people to make their own choices
  ◦ 
Some people may need or prefer a specific diet to reduce adverse reactions
  ◦ It may be beneficial for someone to have the option to move freely through public spaces, rather than the rigid structures seen in public settings (classrooms, movie theaters, restaurants)

Community Resources
Imagine Museum’s Imagine the Possibilities: Sensory Time
• On the 3rd Sunday of every month, Imagine Children’s Museum provides sensory time for those who need it.
• This is a FREE event for children ages 1-12 (parents, siblings, and grandparents can join too!)
• The museum is only open during this time for these children and their families, making it less crowded and quieter.
• Noise canceling headphones, sunglasses, and sensory balls are available.

Sensory Friendly Films
The theater chain AMC provides a Sensory Family Films program the second and fourth Saturday of every month.
• Enjoy hit new movies such as Aladdin and The Secret Life of Pets 2 at a lower volume and in a less dark environment.
• Attendees are invited to get up, dance and walk around the theater during the showing.

When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander den Heijer

Shaping Preschoolers’ Geometry Skills

Shaping Preschoolers’ Geometry Skills

Written by: Clarissa Alfes

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has become a hot topic among early educators and families in more recent years. Many adults are wondering how to support children’s learning and excitement for STEM. Research suggests that engaging with geometry and spatial activities is a good starting point!

What is early geometry
Early geometry, also called ‘spatial sense,’ is an understanding of space and shape. Spatial sense includes knowing spatial objects such as shapes and lines, their relationships and positions in the spatial world (e.g., “next to,” “shorter,” “corner,” “left”) and transforming the objects in space (e.g., manipulating blocks or rotating shapes in your mind.) Spatial abilities are foundational for STEM and inquiry-based learning and are one of the key areas of early math development that families can work on at home.

Play with Toys
Playing with certain toys builds young children’s early math skills. Toys such as puzzles, blocks and shape tangrams provide an opportunity for children to explore and learn through play. This play has been linked to stronger geometry and spatial skills in young children. Toys for play-based spatial learning are:
1. Puzzles. Talk with your child about the edges and curves on the puzzle pieces and about the shapes of the pieces as you work toward completing the picture. 
2. Blocks, Legos & Lincoln Logs. Ask your child to build structures using descriptions such as a “tall tower” and to recreate structures based on blueprints or models you build.
3. Tangrams. Support children to get creative in fitting shapes together and forming images. Challenge them to see how many different scenes and shapes they can create with the same tangrams.
4. Magna-Tiles. Have your child match designs that you construct and create patterns in the tiles. Support them in building 2D and 3D shapes while you label shapes, sizes and provide directions such as “on top of.”
5. Many others!
Bonus: try giving your child a problem to solve or creating a story that goes along with the spatial play. Evidence shows that adding storytelling to block-play makes the play more effective for early spatial learning (and language skills too!)

Spatial talk in everyday activities
Early geometry skills can be shaped through spatial “math talk,” when adults narrate during play and everyday interactions. Caregivers can name shapes they see in objects, use location words and gestures such as “below” or “left” and describe features of objects such as “curvy” or “short” during play and everyday activities. Activities to try with your child include:
1. Going on a shape hunt in the car, house or grocery store.Name shapes, sizes and features of objects you see in the environment (e.g., stop sign, cereal box) and ask your child to do the same.
2. Drawing, origami and painting during art time. Follow step-by-step directions of animal origami to create 3D forms together and spend arts and crafts time drawing shapes, lines and grids while narrating how they relate to each other. 
3. Playing maze games and Tetris. Have your child race to solve games in the quickest way possible then see if they can solve the visual-spatial games in other ways too. Encourage your child to explain how they solved the problems and to use their own ‘spatial math talk.’
4. Following and drawing maps. Read maps with your child to complete a scavenger hunt, talking about directions while you walk between locations. Suggest drawing maps to familiar places from memory, including discussing landmarks and distances.

Museum Store
Imagine’s Museum Store is stocked with educational games and toys, many of which help develop math skills. The Museum Store is open during regular Museum hours and Museum members receive 10% off of purchases. You can stop in and shop without paying Museum admission. Our friendly staff are always happy to help you find the perfect gift.