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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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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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playing games
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At the age of eighteen months, my daughter would watch Baby Einstein videos, an educational TV show especially tailored for the little ones. She loved it. Now my three-year-old princess surfs through her favourite applications on the iPad and really enjoys tapping on her older brother’s DS console. Is it serious, doctor? Am I a bad mother? “Of course not!” says a friend, an early childhood educator. Any exposure to electronic games, whether online computer games, video games on a console, or games on a digital tablet, is harmful if excessive, according to the experts. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that children aged two and under not be exposed to screens. Between the ages of two and six, children should not spend more than two hours a day in front of any type of screen. However, electronic games do offer some advantages, according to Thierry Plante, a media education expert at the Habilo Médias national centre. “Online games present the same educational advantages as other games in general”, he says. He cites, for example, language games, puzzles, and other math games with which children “learn how to solve problems and gain self-confidence”. The older the child gets, the stronger 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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Child
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Whether you have a large space or a corner in an apartment, setting up a playroom gives your kids a place to call their own—and a way to keep toys from taking over the house. Larger room offer more opportunity for different play centres (a kitchen area, a craft area), but even in a small space you can think along the same creative lines. Start with decorating—think about what colours and themes your kids like. Whether one wall or four, you could paint with bright tones, chalkboard paint or magnetic paint. You could decorate with wall stickers to create a dinosaur or underwater scene. You could also keep the wall a low-key colour to blend with the rest of the house but put up the kids’ favourite art to make that “nook” their own. Think about storage—not only will it keep your house tidy, but it will make finding things easier for the whole family. An old suitcase can hold dress-up clothes, tin cans can be covered with construction paper or felt to make pencil and marker holders. Get a few colourful boxes from a storage store and allocate them for different items like dolls, cars, stuffed animals. Label each(…)

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