As an early childhood educator and a mum, I want to make sure (as we all do) that my son has plenty of movement opportunities, especially things that help develop his left-right brain integration which is so important (crucial?) for academic readiness and formal schooling preparation.
And the most effective way to do this is through fun and games.
Recently, I had the fortune to spend some time alongside an Occupational Therapist who was assisting a small group of five-year-old children with writing their names. I watched as she played a ‘stop-go’ (green light, red light) game with the children to help them draw the shapes of each letter in their name. I loved the idea of the ‘green light, red light’ and thought this could easily be adapted into a car-racing game focusing on drawing a lemniscape (figure 8 race car track)- a wonderful tool for practising crossing the midline. (I often bring this shape into fun movement games and transition activities too, leading children to step or walk this shape through.)
Taking inspiration from the letter writing task, I drew a lemniscape shape (race car track) on a large piece of paper. At a spot on one side of the loop, I drew a green dot, followed by a red dot slightly to the right of the green one, like so.
I showed Ned the piece of paper and told him a story about how the race cars needed his help to drive around the track. I showed him where to put his pencil (positioned at the green dot, the ‘go’ flag) and the direction his car (pencil) needed to travel. Then I counted down to the start of the race for him. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and the flag says go!
As you can see, he took the pencil and began to follow the race track in a clockwise direction, just as I hoped.
When he returned back to the start, I reminded him that a car race always goes for at least 5 loops around the track, and so he continued on, all the while humming the noise of a car zooming and revving on race day.
Sometimes, his car pencil got a bit lost! But he always managed to get his car back on track and back to the finish line.
Ned loved this game, and he asked me to repeat this on at least five other pieces of paper before he became bored of it. There was no pressure, no right or wrong way- just an opportunity to practice drawing around a shape, all as part of a game.
This is the best kind of learning I think. Fun, but purposeful. And definitely hands on. I think this is the key for education worldwide. If we can make all learning into a game that is fun for children, they’ll never want to stop learning ever again!