All of us want our kids to do what we say - to follow our directions. And we want them to be patient with with events or items that are not in the "now." However, kids need a basic knowledge and understanding of "direction" words before they can follow commands. And they need to know "time" words if you want them to go to bed at 8:00pm vs. 12:00am. Temporal concepts include words relating to time and typically, the sequence of time.
Let's explore what we tell..ahem...I mean "ask" or "pleasantly encourage"...our kids on a day-to-day basis and the target words they need to know. The list of simple commands and expressions of time we provide our kids every day might surprise you!
"Clean your room before dinner."
"We are leaving in 10 minutes."
"Stay away from the street."
"Please stand by your sister."
"You can watch the movie later."
"We get to visit Grandma in two weeks."
"Please come here, now."
Just for fun - here is a list of temporal words we use in our day-to-day interactions with kids and each other:
Whew! Kids need to know a whole lot - to be the outstanding "direction followers" and "time managers" we'd love them to be.
So, here is what you can do to encourage development of temporal concepts:
1. Model, model, model: When you're cooking dinner and your 2 -yr old is watching you cut veggies, share with them what you're doing. - "First, we put lettuce in the bowl. After the lettuce we need carrots and after the carrots we'll put celery in the bowl....finally, we put croutons on top."
2. Use visuals, calendars, pictures of time: Early language learners (preschoolers) are just learning to tell time and understand the concepts of months/years and how long (e.g., in 3 days) something might be. You can use a calendar to count down days and/or months. You can find fun pictures of what day and night might look like and put them on a calendar day - to count the nights or morning before an event might occur.
3. Use Books: As you read to your child, point to the picture and ask questions that relate to these concepts. - "Do you think the rabbit will find his magical carrot in the morning?" OR "What is the last step in building this model airplane?"
4. Download and use these fun free activities for your early-grade kids to strengthen their ability to follow temporal directions:
As always, enjoy these teaching moments with your kids. Your efforts are giving them their best start!