The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 25, 2014

Early Childhood Showcase: Play an active role in social development

EARLY CHILDHOOD SHWOCASE

Play an active role in social development

This week's showcase on the social development of young children is courtesy of the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota:

A child’s growth and healthy development can be tracked in relationship to several universal benchmarks in child development. One benchmark area where parents and caregivers play a key role in helping their child develop essential life skills relates to social development — how children interact and navigate within the social sphere of daily life.

Adults can encourage the development of social skills by engaging with their child in any and all opportunities to practice two-way communication.

Listen to and converse with your child at a level that is appropriate for their age. Give them your full attention and the message that you find what they are saying to be interesting. Recognize your child’s efforts and encourage them to try out new experiences. Let them know you are there to support them and provide assistance as needed. Role model situations when a child may be having difficulty such as asking a friend to play, sharing a toy, or taking turns in a game.

To build new skills and gain new competencies, children need to stretch their wings and sometimes take a step or two beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone. It is through play, along with the support of a positive relationship with the adult caregivers in their life, that a child is able to develop essential social skills that will serve them throughout a lifetime.

Upcoming events in February

■ Feb. 1: Poetry art, 10 a.m.-noon;

■ Feb. 8: Super Science with Toppers Pizza, 10-11 a.m.;

■ Feb. 9: Rescue animals and story time with Mending Spirits Animal Rescue, 3-4 p.m.;

■ Feb. 15: Heart art, 10 a.m.-noon;

■ Feb. 22: Super Science with Gustavus Chemistry Club, 10 a.m.-noon.

■ Also, special toddler programming is planned every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The Children’s Museum is located at 121 E. Cherry St., Mankato. Winter hours are: Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Also, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m

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