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discovering colours
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Everything is pink: the house, the teddy bear, the tee-shirt, the car, the bedspread. Even if she knows colours, my three-year-old daughter has fun with the concept. With the hint of a smile and sparkles in her eyes, she swears that everything around her is pink. Perhaps it’s her way of checking the evolution of her learning – or just a way of teasing her mother. Discovering colours is an important learning process for preschool children. It usually takes place between the ages of two and six. “Knowing colours is a prerequisite for entering preschool,” says Francine Ferland, occupational therapist and Professor Emeritus at Université de Montréal. A school-age child’s knowledge will be refined by listing the shades: pale blue, dark grey, etc.”. Around the age of four, a child is generally able to name the usual colours. The little ones will integrate the notion of colours through games. Children need concreteness; they need to handle objects. Coloured blocks, sticks or pencils, and buttons (starting from the age of three) are recommended. A child’s curiosity may also be stimulated through games that don’t require any material. “For example, we show the child an item of a certain colour in the(…)

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count
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He counts the steps, the number of holes in his piece of cheese, the quantity of books on the bookshelf in the living room, the red tee-shirts in his clothing drawer. My six-year-old son is obsessed with numbers. He loves to count. A statistician-to-be? Maybe. But it is more likely that Pumpkin is going through a phase. Learning how to count is a skill all children try to acquire at some point in their development. “Before entering kindergarten, a child possesses basic mathematical knowledge”, explains Francine Ferland, occupational therapist and author of thirteen pieces on child development. Beyond knowing how to recite a series of numbers, a child learns how to count objects little by little. Around the age of two, children learn notions like “only one” and “several”, and then “a little” and “a lot”. Usually, around the age of three or four, they can count mechanically to ten. “They will be able to count between three and six items”, Ms. Ferland says. Around the age of five, children are able to count to 30 and can quantify up to ten objects displayed before them. Parents may use games to help their children learn how to count. Asking questions(…)

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playing
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“Come play with me!” If you are the parent of a young child, this sounds quite familiar to you. Sometimes we give our little ones positive answers; some other times, we refuse for all sorts of reasons like fatigue, stress, household chores, or… lack of interest. All the experts say it: playing with our children is essential. “Everything, from changing the diaper to learning a new word, is much easier through games”, says Julie Philippon, blogger and mother of Camille, 8, and Félix, 6. Catherine Goldschmidt, a mother of three, adds: “Playing is a daily break. It allows children to take some kind of control. The roles are reversed.” According to Gilles Cantin, a professor at the Faculty of Education at Université du Québec à Montréal, playing strengthens the bond between an adult and a child. It is a communication driver. “It is an open door for sharing”, he says. “Playing allows building a relationship and learning to know each other.” Parents demonstrate to children that they hold an important place by giving them time and attention. Children gradually gain self-confidence and develop bonds with their father and/or mother. Some parents feel more comfortable than others when it comes to(…)

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games
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My six-year-old son is so proud. Without any help, he built a “house” in the living room: he used chairs, a blanket, and clothes pegs. My three-year-old daughter was very excited and filled it with a bunch of furry toys, plastic plates, and pillows. They say they live on the beach where they fish. A trivial game that is a pretty good representation of what is going on in my home and in yours… Yet, when we pay more attention to this anecdote, we realize that my children were actually learning how to organize and coordinate themselves, create a scenario, and set rules and roles while letting their imagination run wild. Not that trivial, actually! “Children learn everything through games”, said Gilles Cantin, Didactic Professor at Université du Québec à Montréal. “They learn about their motor, cognitive and affective skills. The latter is the basis for the rest”, asserts Francine Ferland, occupational therapist and Professor Emeritus at the School of Medicine of Université de Montréal. “Thanks to satisfying interactions with the parents, children develop their self confidence and trust in others.” When playing games, children learn how to structure their thoughts; they develop their curiosity and become aware of the(…)

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choosing games
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He was staring at me, eyes wide open. My six-year-old son was disappointed. The gift he received was not what the one he had hoped for. I explained to him the concept of a “gift”, something given to “make someone happy” and for which we say “thank you”. But during the following days, I had to accept the obvious: this new game was of no interest to my son. Actually, everything about that game was the opposite of what he liked! How to choose the right game or the right toy for your child? “Through observation, simply”, says Gilles Cantin, an Education professor at Université du Québec à Montréal. The child’s personality, age, needs, and tastes will help the parents choose the perfect game. A ball is a good choice for a two-year-old boy who likes to move and who’s learning to improve his coordination. A DIY box is recommended for an inventive four-year-old girl. And a board game will make a quiet six-year-old boy very happy. “You have to watch your children’s development and give them games that will spark their interest”, says Catherine Goldschmidt, a mother of three and a journalist specialized in games and toys. Limiting oneself(…)

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