Amazing articles on just about every subject...


Child Care - Needs Of Life From Four To Six

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



When we understand the physical basis of life from four to six the physical needs are very evident. An environment should be provided at home, school and Sunday-school favoring the health and growth of this sensitive body. It is the duty of the parents to see that conditions are not only right at home but elsewhere for their children. Any unsanitary spot in the community, any contagious disease unquarantined is a menace to every child. The ventilation of the home should be good; windows and doors should be left open when the weather permits and the air of the house should be flushed out frequently enough in cold weather to keep a sweet, clean odor. A fireplace helps in the ventilating scheme as well as in providing a center for the home. When windows and doors are open care should be taken to prevent drafts or to keep the children out of them. There should be steady heat, which, if possible, should be kept at about 65 degrees. (Fresh air, let it be remembered, is easier to heat than stale air and air properly moist than too dry.) The room or rooms where the children play should be adequately lighted so as to avoid eyestrain. There should be plenty of sunlight; in fact the nursery or children's playroom should be the "sunshiny" room of the house. The walls should be tinted in a soft tan or gray green with cream or white ceiling. The woodwork should be very simple and painted or finished in such a way that it can be washed. The floor should be hardwood or linoleum, and rugs and hangings should be light and of such material that they may be frequently cleaned. The room should be harmonious and pretty with childlike pictures on the walls and with some bright color in flowers or furnishings.

There should be a wholesome, balanced diet, with an abundance of milk and cereals, with fresh vegetables and cooked fruits in season, and with eggs and occasional meat juice or gravies. Confections, rich desserts and fried foods should be carefully avoided if this child is to have a good digestion now or later. Meals should be served at regular intervals and the child should have nothing except water or a little fruit juice between meals. Children's parties with their unwholesome sweets and overstimulation in entertainment are an abomination. The clothing of the child should be loose and comfortable. He should not have the undue exposure of socks in the winter or the overheating from too heavy clothing at any time of year. He should have a bath and a hard rub with a coarse towel at least once a day, and his underwear should be kept clean and fresh. Loose, clean clothing and frequent baths not only conduce to health but prevent the inception of masturbation, which may begin in an irritation from an unclean condition or from the pressure of clothing. The outside clothing should be simple but attractive as pretty things to wear if sensibly bestowed contribute much to the happiness, hence to the health of the child. They need not make him vain or self-conscious. "See my new shoes," "My mama made me this dress," "I have a ribbon on my hat," are frequent remarks at this age. The fastenings on the child's clothing should be few and such as he can manipulate that he may grow in independence and the development of skill in caring for himself.

Because the child is so susceptible to contagions still and is attending kindergarten and Sunday-school where there are many other children of his age, medical inspection in these places should be insisted upon and careful quarantine should be observed. Because so many contagions begin with coughs and colds, children suffering from these ills should be kept at home and away from other children. Every parent should not only fully co-operate in such regulations but should ask school authorities for them if they are not provided. The plasticity of the child's body demands that care be taken as to posture. The child should have his own little chair and table. The Mosher chair is very good because of the saddle seat and the broad piece for support of the child's back. Every child likes a little rocking chair also. He should take pride in sitting properly, well back in his chair with feet on the floor. A special seat in the toilet for the children and a low wash bowl with faucets that they can manipulate are greatly to be desired.

The endurance of this child is slight ; therefore exercise in the way of plays and games should not call for prolonged effort or heavy exertion. Any grown-up may easily, if he does not watch the child for signs of fatigue, carry the activity beyond the child's strength. On the other hand, the child should be permitted plenty of motor activity and should not be expected to "sit still" except for short intervals. Miss Palmer, in Play Life in the First Eight Years, gives several excellent suggestions for sense and movement plays in these years. Such apparatus as the slide, the swing, the balance board, the parallel bars, and the spring board may be placed in the yard, the playground or the basement if light and dry, and will afford unending pleasure and exercise. These pieces of apparatus are especially desirable because the fundamental muscles develop first in speed and accuracy and such play will call upon these muscles chiefly. The lifting and carrying of objects such as chairs, the large blocks (Hennessey or Patty Hill especially) and toys; the handling of tools such as chalk, scissors, hammer ; the manipulating of clay, sand, paper and wood, and the use of the voice in speaking and singing,—are all activities giving a natural physical development which ought to be encouraged. Because of the child's high fatigability twelve hours of sleep are advocated, with rest periods during the day if the child will not take naps. What was said in the chapters on infancy concerning crowded shops, trains and visits to the homes of relatives and friends applies to these years also. Let such excursions be taken in decidedly homeopathic doses.

MENTAL NEEDS

The child needs an abundance of fruitful contacts with things that he can test with the senses, and not with one sense only but with as many as may be used. Montessori has given an excellent suggestion to educators when she has developed an apparatus upon which he may exercise the sense of touch at every turn. When the child has seen the apple on the tree, heard it fall to the ground, felt it with his hands, smelt it and tasted it he has a much more perfect image of that apple afterwards than had he only seen it growing on the tree. Through sensory and motor experience in these years the child is building up clear, definite imagery which will make possible later constructive thinking. The child should be given the opportunity to test his sense control with others, and for this purpose many simple games may be devised, with sight emphasized, as when a bright-colored object is placed in plain view while the children close their eyes and then opening they see who can spy first; or with hearing, as when one child closes his eyes and guesses who says good-morning to him ; or with touch, as when the child puts his hand behind his back and tells the name of the object placed in it ; or with smell and taste, as when a flower or fruit is guessed with eyes closed by the use of the nose or tongue. Little plays may be encouraged where the child tests his control of movement by trying to balance, by different ways of moving, such as walking, running, skipping or hopping; and by the use of his hands also in manipulating and making things. Not only are such activities responsible for supplying clear, definite imagery but for furnishing the memory with certain knowledge of materials and objects of every sort. This knowledge may be fixed and clarified by means of questions which will cause the child after an excursion, for instance, to tell where he has been and what he has seen ; such expression may be given in words, in dramatic play or through the crayon or some other material.

His attention and interest should be stimulated through the use of suitable materials and activities in line with the spontaneous interests already suggested, so that the child will develop a habit of alert attention. For instance, a mother once said that her child never had seen until he went to kindergarten anything of interest on their walks. He was always fussing to go to the store for candy or to be carried. After a few weeks in kindergarten, where his spontaneous interest in nature was aroused, he was eagerly attentive every minute of the walk while he spied bird, flower, bee, pretty little stone, gay leaf in endless succession. If the right pictures are chosen for him, at the sight of a picture he will be roused to attend, so that he can be led easily from the outer form of the picture to the story message which it has for him. If the child finds that father, mother, teacher do not attract his attention without something of value for him he will respond with eagerness to the slightest invitation.

Abundant opportunity should be accorded the child to satisfy curiosity and gain information by investigation of sense material. Sometimes the gratification of curiosity involves what seems to us to be destruction, as when the child throws a bottle and it breaks, when in his efforts to penetrate a thicket he tears his clothes, or when he takes his toy to pieces to find out what makes the wheels go round. When the results of his investigations are thus unfortunate, we should understand even while we try to guard him against irreparable mistakes in the future. I remember well an occasion in my own child-hood when my father gave me a cigar to carry outdoors to my uncle. I wanted to know what was inside of the cigar; I thought that it must be white inside because of the white ash which lay on the tip as it was smoked. I therefore unrolled leaf after leaf, and was at the end of my quest when my father spied me and punished me severely. My chief grief was not the physical pain but the fact that my motive was misunderstood. Father had jumped to the conclusion that I had wilfully destroyed that cigar. There are many occasions when the child could carry on his investigations successfully with a little help from us and with no danger to himself or to material. I remember the boy of five who was painting a play house when the paint grew very thick; the teacher used turpentine to thin it. The child, observing, said, "Why not pour in some water ?" and was about to try the experiment. It would have taken only a few minutes to put some of the paint in another receptacle and to permit the boy to try thinning it with water. He would have learned a valuable lesson; whereas he very doubtingly accepted the teacher's, "No, that wouldn't do."

The home should supply plenty of material with which the child may portray, construct and model, such as crayon, paints and paint brush, paper and blocks, clay or plasticene and sand. Some one has said, "Hand and brain develop together." Certain it is that the child who ex-presses his images and ideas with materials defines and clarifies them as fully as we do when we actualize the pattern for a dress by making the garment, or explain sense-perception in a written statement. There is still a great deal of manipulating on the child's part when he handles material but gradually during this period he works out of this stage until his activity becomes purposeful. It possesses content or meaning; it is not merely acquisition of power or skill in the manipulation of material. Such expression gives the child much joy, as when the little boy had made a house with blocks and running to his mother said, "Come and see my house, mother ; I am so proud of myself !"

Because the child has such an interest in imitating he should be supplied with suitable characters and types of activity to imitate. He understands better that which he copies whether it be single acts of father, mother or the grocer or whether it be a whole process or plot which he carries through. By doing the thing himself he not only clarifies his impression, but he sharpens his observation. He goes back and watches again to get other details. He experiences in his imitative play an emotional quality with the activity;—the feeling of protection as he is father to the doll, the feeling of pride in workmanship as he is the carpenter, the feeling of importance and responsibility as he guards the street, an embryo policeman. The danger to the child on the street who plays burglar or ruffian is evident.

The child's interest in communicating should be encouraged by talking with him about his experiences, by answering his questions, by supplying new words not only through conversation about objects and materials but by simple stories and verses. He should have other children of his own age as well as adults with whom to converse. Simple language should be used, and only a few words in story or verse that are not familiar should be supplied at one time. The parent or teacher should be careful to euunciate distinctly and slowly and to pronounce carefully both in story and song. A child will often stop you when he is very eager to understand and you proceed too fast with "What?", and sometimes he will say when you ask him to sing with you, "But you go too fast." Stories and songs as well as conversations can gradually be lengthened while more qualifying adjectives and adverbs are used. Sentences should be short even where conjunctions are used. One or two stanzas in the song are sufficient and not more than four lines to the stanza as a rule. The child may be encouraged to contribute more when he tells an experience, by questions which "draw him out," and his original songs and stories should be welcomed.

The fact that the child is beginning to ask rational questions but is at the same time credulous in accepting answers makes it imperative that he receive reasonable replies. Superstition and indifference both have their beginnings here. I remember when at this tender age I was told that if my ear burned some one was talking about me, and I can recall yet the queer feeling of suspicion that came over me the next time my ear burned. I began at once to try to locate the guilty party. On the other hand, the right information is accepted just as trustingly and becomes power. The story is told of Fran-cis, a kindergarten child, who saw another boy try to step on an unoffending bug. Francis pushed the boy out of the way just in time to save the bug. "Don't you do that," he said. "Don't you know that is one of God's living creatures ?"

Since the child's mental grasp is limited, stories, songs, verses, games should have simple plot, few characters, swift action. The time-honored favorite of Goldylocks and the Three Bears has all of these qualifications, and the same is true of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Pictures should present few objects or characters as Can't You Talk, by Holmes, with its figure of the child looking into the face of the big dog, or Feeding Her Birds, by Millet, the mother feeding her three little tots out of the same bowl as they sit on the doorstep. Intricate handwork should be avoided, such as the old sewing cards and weaving mats. Instead the child should have simple problems set for him as he handles materials. If he lacks ideas, mother may say, "Can you build a barn for Dumpy, the pony, this morning ?" or "I'd like to see a picture of that bird which you were telling me about." If the child has an idea and needs material, it is the place of the mother or teacher to supply it. The children in a certain kindergarten wanted to make valentines, and they made some crude ones with the only paper at hand. What was their joy the next morning to find on the table red paper, white mats and little colored pictures ! They set to work and never stopped until there were valentines for everybody.

This child should be guarded from unpleasant emotions whenever possible. The suggestions made for the infant also apply to him. Fear, jealousy, anger are to be avoided when this can be done in fairness to others. One cannot approve of the teacher, however, who to avoid a scene permitted a certain four-year-old to demolish the building and seize the materials of first one child and then another. The four-year-old was nervous and became violently angry when opposed, but he could remain in that kindergarten in justice to the other children, provided only he could learn the property rights of his neighbors. The teacher was making it harder for the child each time that she permitted him to molest others, and she was causing the others to feel antagonism toward that child and general unhappiness. This is the age when many imaginary fears are engendered about goblins, dragons, witches, and the bogey man. The child who is disobedient is threatened by the police, the doctor or any other plausible terror. The story is told of a child who had been thus frightened by tales of what the doctor would do to him and who died in convulsions when the real doctor was called for him in illness. Those who deal with the child at this imaginative age must be particularly careful not to terrify him by accounts of wild beasts, dangers of storm or battle or with ogres and demons in any form. Let his life be lived in an atmosphere of love, trust and happy activity as far as possible, so that he may radiate the joy, the affection, the contentment natural to him.

MORAL-RELIGIOUS NEEDS

The need for rich sensory motor experience in the development of clear imagery has already been mentioned, but it should be emphasized at this point again. Not only is the bible and all religious literature full of imagery, especially nature imagery, so that the child needs such sensory motor experience as a basis for understanding the stories adapted to his present needs as well as the literature which he will read later, but he also must have the development of the imagination which makes possible the creation of an unseen world and the communion with a Father whom he cannot touch with his hands or see with his eyes. Several adults in a class were asked to tell what images they had had of God as children : several had conceived him as an old man with a flowing beard but very strong; one had thought of bright eyes and an extended arm; another had always thought of a statue of Moses which she had seen; while still another had visioned lovely color something like her idea of fairies.

The stories, verses, songs and music which the child en-joys at this age are full of repetition, of rhythm. The parent and teacher should select material which is strong in rhythmic quality and should encourage the child to respond by repeating verse or story and by keeping time to music with bodily movement. The indirect effect of rhythm is to give a feeling of harmony and contentment, while the rhythmic experience is an introduction to all music and expression through it. When we consider the influence of music in inspiring and giving utterance to the nobler emotions, we cannot begin too early in awakening an appreciation for the best music.

The wonder of the child over the miracles of nature and the marvels of man's works should not be hastily brushed aside or subjected to ridicule and scientific analysis. Nature study during this period should be appreciative rather than analytical. Draw his attention to the loveliness of has an idea and needs material, it is the place of the mother or teacher to supply it. The children in a certain kindergarten wanted to make valentines, and they made some crude ones with the only paper at hand. What was their joy the next morning to find on the table red paper, white mats and little colored pictures ! They set to work and never stopped until there were valentines for everybody.

This child should be guarded from unpleasant emotions whenever possible. The suggestions made for the infant also apply to him. Fear, jealousy, anger are to be avoided when this can be done in fairness to others. One cannot approve of the teacher, however, who to avoid a scene permitted a certain four-year-old to demolish the building and seize the materials of first one child and then another. The four-year-old was nervous and became violently angry when opposed, but he could remain in that kindergarten in justice to the other children, provided only he could learn the property rights of his neighbors. The teacher was making it harder for the child each time that she permitted him to molest others, and she was causing the others to feel antagonism toward that child and general unhappiness. This is the age when many imaginary fears are engendered about goblins, dragons, witches, and the bogey man. The child who is disobedient is threatened by the police, the doctor or any other plausible terror. The story is told of a child who had been thus frightened by tales of what the doctor would do to him and who died in convulsions when the real doctor was called for him in illness. Those who deal with the child at this imaginative age must be particularly careful not to terrify him by accounts of wild beasts, dangers of storm or battle or with ogres and demons in any form. Let his life be lived in an atmosphere of love, trust and happy activity as far as possible, so that he may radiate the joy, the affection, the contentment natural to him.

The need for rich sensory motor experience in the development of clear imagery has already been mentioned, but it should be emphasized at this point again. Not only is the bible and all religious literature full of imagery, especially nature imagery, so that the child needs such sensory motor experience as a basis for understanding the stories adapted to his present needs as well as the literature which he will read later, but he also must have the development of the imagination which makes possible the creation of an unseen world and the communion with a Father whom he cannot touch with his hands or see with his eyes. Several adults in a class were asked to tell what images they had had of God as children : several had conceived him as an old man with a flowing beard but very strong; one had thought of bright eyes and an extended arm; another had always thought of a statue of Moses which she had seen; while still another had visioned lovely color something like her idea of fairies.

The stories, verses, songs and music which the child en-joys at this age are full of repetition, of rhythm. The parent and teacher should select material which is strong in rhythmic quality and should encourage the child to respond by repeating verse or story and by keeping time to music with bodily movement. The indirect effect of rhythm is to give a feeling of harmony and contentment, while the rhythmic experience is an introduction to all music and expression through it. When we consider the influence of music in inspiring and giving utterance to the nobler emotions, we cannot begin too early in awakening an appreciation for the best music.

The wonder of the child over the miracles of nature and the marvels of man's works should not be hastily brushed aside or subjected to ridicule and scientific analysis. Nature study during this period should be appreciative rather than analytical. Draw his attention to the loveliness of the flowers, to the twinkle of the stars, to the silver path of the moon upon the water, to the vivid color of the sun-set sky, to the blue eggs in the bird's nest, to the emergence of the moth from the cocoon. Let the greatness and goodness of God steal over you as you wonder with the little lad. When he asks who made the flowers, you will be ready with your answer, and when he has watched flowers a little longer, you may ask him a question if he does not come to you with another, "How did God make the flowers ?" Parents and teachers should be absolutely truthful in answering the child's queries about the causes of natural phenomena and about the relationship of God, Jesus and people. The reply should be honest and it should satisfy; but the explanation should not be beyond a child's power to comprehend.

One night when Mildred had cuddled down in her little bed and the lights were out, she startled me with this question, "Where is heaven ?" I knew that she wanted to know the exact location of the place and so I said, "I might tell you, dear, where I think that it is, but you see I haven't been there yet and so I do not know just where it is." She was silent for a few minutes and then she asked again, "Well, how do you get there ?" She wanted to know the physical means of transportation ; did you go by train, boat or automobile, or was a step ladder employed. Once more I answered as before, "I could tell you how I imagine that you get there but I haven't been yet, so I do not really know." In a little while she re-marked, "Since you've never been I don't suppose that you could tell me what it is like." I agreed that I could not. Presently she said softly but with absolute conviction, "I bet you it's nice !" Small Willard was looking at the moon which was a crescent. "Who broke the moon ?" he inquired. His auntie who was busy replied, "I'll tell you about it by and by." In a few minutes he spoke again. "I'll tell you how it is," he said, "God just took out a piece of that moon, but he's going to put it back in a little while." A child asked his father after he had listened to the story of God creating everything, this question, "Say, father, who made God ?" His father said, "No one made God, son. He always was." The child puzzled a moment and then he said slowly, "I don't think I can understand that." "Neither do I understand it, son," said the father frankly. "There are some things that puzzle the wisest men." These illustrations are typical of the penetrating questions which a child asks, and of the spirit in which they should be answered. A child will often find his own answer if yours fails and he respects you the more for a confession of limitation in knowledge. In replying to him we should always re-member, however, that he thinks in terms of the concrete, of the tangible, and that our words if understood must have a strong foothold in that realm.

Partly through questions, partly through listening to your prayers from his baby days, and partly through the conversations and stories, this child gradually gains the idea of God as a loving father and of Jesus as a friend of little children. He makes the transition through the imagination from the father whom he sees and touches, from the friends whom he knows, to the invisible and greater Father and to Jesus as a personal friend. By the same process of feeling whereby he extends affection to his parents for the many benefits which they confer upon him he comes to bestow love upon God if God is presented to him as the one who gives him his pet kitten, the red rose, his bread and milk, and the new rocking horse. The time when little children first pray varies according to the temperament of the child and the kind of training which he has had, but there must be no forcing of an expression of prayer or a confession of faith until the child spontaneously gives it. The mother or father praying with the child at the bed-time hour must be ready to weave into the petition a request for the help that this little child has needed or a thanksgiving for the joys of his day. In this way long before he prays alone the child will learn the true meaning of prayer as a real communion with God the Heavenly Father. Prayers of thanksgiving should be especially emphasized because the expression of appreciation will always bring a glow of happiness and because it is well early to begin a habit of gratitude. In asking for things the child needs to be guarded against disappointment by understanding that God cannot always give that for which we ask because it may not be best. Fortunate the child whose father and mother do not always grant his requests; he will the more readily understand how love expresses itself sometimes through withholding. He will of course ask for the childish treasures that he longs to possess,—a toy auto-mobile, chocolate ice-cream, or a paint box ; and he will thank God for just such boons since at this age these things are the goods of life. There should always be ample time for the prayer and a reverent attitude on the part of child and mother. The bowing of the head, the folding of the hands and the closing of the eyes tend by the outer form to induce the worshipful mood, while a few gentle words in a bushed voice will as a rule secure the desired response. The prayer should always be short, two or three sentences at the most. If the child repeats after you or continues his own prayer after yours is finished, wait patiently until he has finished. If prayer becomes a natural and beautiful experience there will not be the possibility later of a dislike of the prayer time which the two small boys evidenced who asked their father as they were starting on a camping trip, "Say, Dad, do we have to brush our teeth and say our prayers ?"

During these years when dramatic imitation is a striking characteristic, the mother or teacher should provide experiences from the life about the child and stories with the right moral issue. After the child has watched the mother and father bird build the nest, care for the eggs and feed the baby birds, he may some day dramatize that story with one or more other members of the family to assist him. He will experience all the tenderness of a real father or mother as he tends the baby birds. Such a story on the other hand as that of Scrapefoot and The Three Bears, where the meddlesome old fox is thrown out of the window of their house by the bears, gives the child as he plays it a feeling of distaste for prying into other people's things. Thus he catches the spirit of good behavior and often experiences the moods of morality before he can understand the truth of the story as an abstraction.

There is a beginning of social cooperation at this period both in the family group and in the child's play group with other children. Moreover, the child takes note of turns so that he is capable of appreciating fair play. He is also very conscious of the behavior of other children; he is quite critical not only of little brother but even of father and mother and expects them all to conform to his idea of what is proper. In a certain kindergarten one morning the children had spent several minutes in showing how they could be polite. Later in the morning they were playing butterflies. When they flew back at the end of the song Louise had a pansy in her mouth. The teacher questioned the children, "Do the butterflies pick the flowers ?" One child said, "No, they just pick the honey." "Then, Louise," said the teacher, "you must put the flower back in the vase." But Louise made no movement to obey. Once more the teacher asked her to put the flower back but the child stood firm. There was not any look, however, of defiance or stubbornness in her face. After a moment of silence, the teacher said sternly,

"Louise, if you cannot put the flower back I shall have to help you." Whereupon Louise took the pansy from her mouth and said, "I'm waiting for you to say `please.' " The parent or teacher should seize this interest of the child in behavior, this recognition of a standard, and develop with the children such simple moral standards for the control of the group as they can all understand. Dauph, when he first came to Sunday-school, struck the other children viciously whenever they came near him. When he had caused two or three children to weep by his unseemly conduct, the teacher called all the children to her and they talked about what had happened ; they decided that it was unkind to strike people and that it made every-body unhappy; they further decided that any one who hurt other people must go away from the group. One offense with the penalty attached was enough to impress the standard upon Dauph, and he soon became a peaceable member of the group.

The child at this age is growing more conscious of his own individuality. He is very proud to show the things that he can do. He should be given some opportunity to be independent. That independence begins with learning to feed himself, put on and take off his clothes, button his shoes, find his way about the house and yard. It in-creases when he can walk to kindergarten or to Sunday-school alone or when occasionally he can get something from the store for mother. He should be put upon his own resources not all the time but for a while every day that he may grow in self-direction. Parents who do everything for the children at this or any other age are making them peevish, helpless and often inactive. While children between four and six lack the judgment to be left unsupervised, they should be as little conscious of supervision as it is possible to make them. If certain moral standards for the group are evolved and rules based upon these standards are developed, then the child must obey; but even here he should not be forced when it is possible to give him a choice with the consequent experience of pleasure or pain. Robert was out in the garden one day when he was four years of age. He was pulling up the flowers by the roots and leaving them to wither in the hot sun. His mother explained carefully to him that this could not be done if the garden were to grow and to give pleasure to the family and friends. Robert continued surreptitiously to pull the flowers. "Robert," said mother, "you can either stop pulling the flowers or you can go into the house." She gave the lad a few minutes in which to decide. He regretfully turned his back on the flower bed and went to play in the swing. That ended the controversy.

The question of doing right involves three steps,—knowing the right, wishing to do the right, and possessing the self-control to do it. Parents and teachers fail with some one of the three steps when the child does not obey. He learns what right is through ex-ample, through clear explanation, through definite direction and not infrequently through the lesson of punishment. How many times little children fail to obey be-cause they do not understand what they are expected to do. "John, keep out of the mud !" shouts a testy father. John, thinking to carry out his parent's behest, carefully avoids the mud puddles but walks in the road. His irate father overtakes him and drags him out of the road with the remark, "Didn't I tell you to stay on the sidewalk !" Many a child who will not learn in any other way has to suffer punishment. A little girl insisted on coming down the slide backwards. Her teacher warned her that she might get hurt. Sure enough she came down once too often and not seeing an obstruction in the path received a serious bump.

Children who understand, often do not wish to do the right thing. Here again example is very potent. The family has oatmeal for breakfast; Harry insists that he doesn't wish any; mother eats her dish with relish; father remarks that he can do a good day's work on such oatmeal as that ; big brother Roy passes his bowl for a second serving. The next morning Harry tries oat-meal without a murmur. To attach joy to the doing of anything if the activity itself does not afford pleasure, is an excellent way of bringing the child to desire its repetition. The approval of mother, father, teacher or other children is very dear to the heart of this child. There is no more effective means of encouraging goodness than appreciation.

The child must be physically able and mentally developed to the point where he can obey the specific command given him. George wanted very much to skip with the other children, but as yet he could not get the coordination. "When I try to skip, mother," he said, "one leg won't work." Julian was kept in at noon by his kindergarten teacher because he could not draw anything suggestive of spring. With the drawing lesson couched in such terms it was no wonder that Julian did not comprehend,—besides his imagery for spring may have been lacking. The child who is stubborn and will not act, is often helped by the element of choice, by the device of so much time for completing his task and by a warning given a few minutes before he is expected to undertake some new activity. Often if the child can be diverted from the cause of contention for a little while until his "stubborn set" is broken, he will very happily respond when called upon later. The child who is dealt with rationally and impersonally will as a rule soon outgrow his stubbornness.

In the early years of the child's life is the time for the building up of habits that will persist and that will form later the substrata of character. In forming any habit it is necessary to secure frequent repetition with as few exceptions as possible, and it is equally desirable to attach satisfaction in some way to the correct response. Miss Harrison tells the story of the small boy whose mother sent him from the table one night to wash his hands. "James," she said, "why do you always come to the table with dirty hands when I always send you to wash them ?" "Once you didn't, mother," was the boy's quick rejoinder. He had been counting on that possibility every night when he took the chance. Emphasis should be placed during these years on habits of neatness, cleanliness, kindness, prompt cheerful obedience, cooperation with others in the social group, fair play in childish games, order and responsibility in the care of possessions. The standard should not be one for adult attainment, however, but should be well within the range of a little child's accomplishment.

The child loves spontaneously those who give him pleasure and he likes to care for and help others. Parents and teachers should provide him with simple services that he can render. He can go on short errands for father, he can carry the silver for mother, he can wheel the baby's carriage, he can take carrots to the bunny and seed to the bird, he can dust the little chairs in kindergarten. A habit of helpfulness can very easily begin at this time, especially if those whom the child assists do not forget to express their gratitude for his aid. If we wait until later to encourage such helpfulness the child may never again so spontaneously offer his service. We may en-courage sympathy and suggest gifts for those whom the child does not see by telling him of their need, by showing him pictures and by stories. His gifts will usually be material ones since these are his most precious possessions and he judges others by himself. When Ruth Ann was asked at Sunday-school what she would like to send another little girl in the hot city, she said at once, "A pink dress like mine and pink silk stockings like mine !" No thought of the inappropriateness of this gift entered her head. The child should not be forced to give, but we should wait until his loving interest is aroused to suggest the giving project. A little child should never be expected to give all that he has to another but rather to share. If he has a cookie he can give little brother half ; if sister has a new dollie she can let the other members of the family hold it for awhile; if Marion has a picture book some other child can look at the pictures with her. The importance of such service as a child can render especially to flowers and pets which are weaker than he, cannot be over-emphasized in laying the foundations of Christian character. Parents ought to see that the child has the opportunity every day to help somebody or something.

The child during all of these years continues most responsive to atmosphere and example. We have already suggested his ability to acquire knowledge through the spoken words. It is therefore the responsibility of those who live with him to create such an atmosphere, to set such an example and to impart such knowledge that this child will spontaneously develop attitudes of friendliness toward the teacher and other children, of interest in and helpfulness toward the home and school, of kindness to-ward living things, of reverence for God. Joseph had attended Sunday-school only two times when one morning during the week this incident occurred at home. Joseph's father could not fasten his collar button, became very angry and took the name of the Lord in vain. Joseph, who was supposedly asleep, roused up in bed and spoke reprovingly. "Daddy," he said, "you wouldn't speak of God like that if you came to our Sunday-school."

SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL STUDY

1. In what ways may children be aided in normal development by playing with dolls? Dr. Hall, in Aspects of Child Life, reports an investigation showing that 98% of girls and 82% of boys under six years of age enjoyed playing with dolls.

2. A five-year-old boy was ridiculed by some friends for playing with a doll. "Aren't there as many fathers in the world as mothers?" was his quick reply. Analyze this situation.

3. To what instinct may be traced a child's incessant demand to be allowed to "make something"? Shall this be encouraged?

4. O'Shea, in his Dynamic Factors in Education (page 24), asks, "Can you develop self-control in children by commanding them simply to keep still ?" Suggest the possible physical as well as moral harm to a child in such a command.

5. Discuss the value of the modern kindergarten in which motor activity is given opportunity for free expression under sufficient supervision.

6. What may a child with proper playthings gain in unsupervised play that he could not gain if an adult were constantly directing his activities?

7. "Mother, may I bring my sled from the storeroom?" asked Jack one rainy summer day. "Certainly," the mother answered. The small boy spent his afternoon happily driving Eskimo dogs, stopping occasionally to feed them or to kill a polar bear. "Mother, may I please play with my sled?" asked John. "Your sled ! At this time of year ! Of course not," said the mother. Which mother had the deeper under-standing of childhood's need? Why?

8. Why are children fortunate whose parents consider their questions of such importance that The World Book, or a Book of Knowledge, are consulted frequently as questions be-come increasingly difficult ?

9. A recent magazine article bore this title, "Do we let our children do their own thinking?" What was the probable content of the article? Why? How would the question be answered by most parents?

10. Discuss the subjects of obedience and discipline in the light of our understanding of child nature at this time. The following references will prove helpful: (1) Fisher, Mothers and Children, 31-51; 97-170; (2) Harrison, When Children Err; (3) Chenery, As the Twig Is Bent; (4) Mumford, The Dawn of Character, 112-149; (5) Sully, Studies of Childhood, 228-298.

NOTE.—For information concerning the materials recommended in this chapter, such as the blocks, paper, chairs, consult the nearest kindergarten supply house. Milton Bradley Company, Springfield, Massachusetts, is the general center for this country.

REFERENCES

CABOT, Seven Ages of Childhood, 65-89.

FORBUSH, Guide Book to Childhood, 82-86; 90-97. HALL, Aspects of Child Life, 157-203.

JOHNSON, Education by Plays and Games, 68-70; 86-93. LEE, Play in Education, 166-318.

PALMER , Play Life in the First Eight Years, 5-84.



Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com