Thursday, August 30, 2012

School is Back in Session

Where does the summer go?  The carefree days of summer have left us and many of us are beginning to settle into a fall schedule. If you have or care for younger ones, you may be working to get a scheduled routine back on track.

There is no doubt that transitions can be difficult for all ages; however, the behavior of our young ones can be particularly challenging with even the smallest changes. As your family continues to transition back into the school year, keep the following tips in mind from Hand in Hand: Nurturing the Parent-Child Connection:

Children benefit from information. When you need to change an activity, it's important to talk with your child about it. Presenting the information and allowing time for the information sink in will help prevent some of the power struggles that develop around transitions.

Children flourish with a tone of optimism. A tone that carries friendliness, optimism and understanding makes it more likely that a transition will go well. Having a tone of optimism can help children feel close enough to a parent or caregiver to cooperate with a necessary transition.

Sometimes your child needs to protest. The untold story about transitions is that children sometimes need to protest. Getting upset helps children address and release unhappy feelings.

Although summer fades and the transitions are inevitable, remember to savor the adventure that continues with new fall activities and schedules. DuPage Children's Museum offers many opportunities to grow and learn in our Creativity Classes. More information is available at:

This blog post is also published in the August 2012 edition of Positively Naperville, a printed guide of community events, volunteer opportunities and local lore. The publication is distributed to 35,000 homeowners by the first of every month.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Continue to Follow the Lead: Encouraging Thinking Skills with Preschoolers and School-Age Children through the Arts

When older preschoolers use their imagination with peers, they are learning to hone observation skills as they take their cues from another perspective. Older preschoolers may enjoy creating simple performances with puppets and props. In addition, their growing interests in exploring clay and other art materials can contribute to developing decision making and problem solving skills. Practice of thinking skills can increase a child’s competency!

By the time a child enters elementary school, she may be looking at the artwork or a performance by others and developing an opinion—another higher level of thinking. Caregivers can provide a space where children can hang artwork so others can look at and respond to it. The role of opinions can be modeled by responding to creative works in your home and community. Ask, “What do you like or dislike about a painting or sculpture?” “What do you think the artist was thinking about when he made it?”

Children can be encouraged to apply analytical thinking skills through verbal communications. These discussions can provide an opportunity for children to talk about their likes and dislikes in works of art, theater productions, stories, songs and poetry. They can share a judgment and, at the same time, take on the perspective of what another person may have been thinking. By this age, children may even enjoy collecting music or poetry to share with others.

No matter the age, creativity and thinking skills can go hand-in-hand. During your next visit to DCM, attend a drop-in session in our Art Studio and see how! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Follow the Lead: Developing Thinking Skills in Infants and Preschoolers

As children develop, providing a stimulating environment can help to encourage creative and critical thinking skills.  Purposefully placing age-appropriate materials within reach and engaging children in playful interaction can allow the child to take the lead while learning from the guidance of a caregivers.

Infants are nurtured through sights, sounds and gentle touches. They learn to respond to the sounds of the human voice and noises in their environment. A gently stimulating environment and an attentive caregiver can offer babies a chance to discover that they can create change by what they see, hear or touch. Place rattles of varying sounds and textures in a baby's reach and she will explore them in various ways - shaking them, tasting them or dropping them and then exploring them again. In life, creating change leads to innovative solutions!

Crawlers and walkers become more deliberate and purposeful in responding to people and objects. Sing a familiar song or nursery rhyme over and over again. Then sing it again, only this time stop before you get to the last word or phrase. The child may finish that last word or phrase. Learning to anticipate what happens next contributes to making good decisions.
Young preschoolers create a story of their own.
Young preschoolers are beginning to form mental pictures as they make sense of the sights and sounds of their world. Recreate some of their favorite storybooks by acting them out together. This helps build memory, a necessary component in school or work. At this age they may enjoy attending a performance or storytelling event.

DCM staff, Rachel Davis, and visitors post a story.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pardon the Disruption…DCM Preschool Summer Camp Goes for the Gold!

Last week this blog left you with a message about information to come that would include creativity, critical thinking and development. This information is being postponed to bring you exciting news about events that took place in our Preschool Summer Camp last week.

Preschool Summer Camp always brings fun and surprises. This year is no exception. With the Olympics in full swing, many children arrived at camp with a desire to discuss Olympic events. The Preschool Summer Camp staff, led by coordinator Sue Kessler, took advantage of this opportunity and incorporated math learning with Olympic events in our Playing with Math Camp. Please see the enclosed video to capture a glimpse of DCM’s Olympic events.

This blog will return to regular programming next week.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creativity Builds Thinking Skills

What is the child in this picture thinking? The photo might suggest that he is brainstorming the best placement of his scissors for the size of ribbon he needs for his collage resting on the table. Perhaps the ribbon is too thick or not thick enough. In that case, he'll have to search the table for alternate supplies. Maybe his caregiver will make a suggestion and together they will collaborate on the best solution. Brainstorming, searching for alternatives and collaborating are some of the critical thinking skills we need in life to succeed.

Creativity is a confluence of traits, capacities and skills. While some of us may not consider ourselves to be creative in the same way as artists and musicians, the characteristics of creativity touch on the decisions we make on a daily basis.

Children can discover more about themselves and their capabilities as they experiment with different art mediums such as paint, scissors or chalk. At DCM we often combine art experiences with the concepts of mathematics and science.  Our Creativity Classes integrate art, math and science concepts that can help to foster the development of critical thinking and creativity. Click here for more information about our Creativity Classes.

Stay tuned for more information to come on creativity, critical thinking and development.