- Make sure your child has quality time for his own creative play. Over-scheduling of outside activities doesn’t provide an opportunity for your child to organize his own playtime with friends and family.
- Use the time driving in the car to ask questions, tell family stories, talk about the places your child knows, people he sees, games he likes to play, songs he likes to sing and ideas that interest him.
- Give your child an opportunity to play with other children in a noncompetitive setting to facilitate good social skills. Make sure he understands the rules of give and take, manners, sharing and social and physical boundaries. If he is shy or withdrawn, let him watch and/or develop a friendship with one child from a group. Choose a playmate that is confident and caring.
- Then reintroduce him to the same play group with the friend that he has made. Children at this age need playmates.
- Research has concluded that a child’s emotional intelligence is very important. All the brain power in the world won’t guarantee success if a child lacks the emotional skills and maturation to put it to use.
The act of giving and receiving communication isn’t simple.
Many different but related processes are happening in
your child’s brain and body when he communicates.
First of all, a child must be physically able to communicate.
This means that her physical development must be
within normal limits in these areas: hearing, vision, lung
function, brain function, muscle strength and the nervous
system’s ability to carry messages between the brain and the
Then, all of the parts of the body that do the actual
speaking must be developing and working the right way, including
the lips, tongue, teeth, mouth, nose, throat, palate
and vocal chords. All these components work together to
build the foundation for communication, and that takes a lot
Let’s look at four key building blocks of human communication:
reception, association, expression and memory.
Reception is the ability to understand the meaning
of information that is received by hearing (auditory),
seeing (visual), touching (tactile), tasting (gustatory)
and smelling (olfactory).
Association is the ability to take the information received
and relate it to other things. Associations are
made as the brain processes hearing and speech information
(auditory-vocal association) and through
sight and movement (visual-motor association).
Expression is the ability to express needs, desires
and ideas through speech (verbal expression) and
physically through body movements and gestures
Memory, of course, is the ability to remember what
has been heard (auditory memory) and seen (visual
Parents walk a fine line when it comes to their child’s play
and social interaction. They want their child to learn how to
handle life and all of its challenges, but they also want to
protect their child and prevent confrontation. There is no set
formula for success. You have to decide when to step in as
the authoritarian (the person in charge) and when to sit back
and let your child learn from his behavior and social interactions.
Research has concluded that the “secret to happiness” is
to have good relationships with other people. Getting along
well with others is learned by bonding with family, friends,
teachers, neighbors and members of the community.
Quality time is more than simply taking care of your
child’s physical needs; it is time spent playing and interacting
with him in ways that help him develop.
Children imitate their parents, caregivers, siblings and
media moguls. They most want to be like you. If you
scream, they will scream. If you tune out, they will tune
out. If you take an interest in learning, they will also
take an interest in learning.
It’s delightful to talk and listen to your child throughout
the day. It is so easy to be distracted by our electronic
world, but the first years of your child’s life will determine
his future success. The amount of words that a
child hears is directly related to how well he can read
and write when he goes to school.
Encouragement and praise is also a predictor of how
well your child will perform in school. Research has
shown that a child’s IQ (intelligent quotient) can be increased
if he lives with caregivers who talk and read
with him, hug him and give him individual attention.
Be sure to spend time telling family stories, listening
and asking questions, teaching nursery rhymes, singing
songs and reading to your child. Take him to the library,
the park and other interesting places. Play and
laugh together, and most of all, show you care with
hugs and attention.
Take care of your needs so you are able to give quality
time to your child. Be resourceful, and find people in
your community that can share the responsibility of
childcare so that you can have some time to yourself.
This may mean asking family members, neighbors,
quality child care workers, church members, social organizations
and other moms and dads for help. Meeting
other moms and dads can give you an opportunity to
ask questions, exchange child care and have a support
system in place. The Internet is a great source of information
about social gatherings and outside resources.
A child needs the ability to concentrate, delay gratification
and work within the defined social framework of
our society. You provide these opportunities.
Each child is unique, and your child will progress in his
own way. We can observe certain skills and abilities a child
has, but we can’t measure everything that is happening in a
child’s brain. That means there’s always more going on with
your child than meets the eye.
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Matthews, NC 28105
Printed in the United States of America
You are your child’s first and best teacher. Your
child’s communication skills will develop according
to how you interact with and stimulate her.
Have fun, make faces and use simple humor to increase
your child’s social interaction and to decrease
stress in her learning environment.
The quality of the time that you spend with your
child will set the tone for her social and emotional
interactions and intellectual growth, as well as her
Patience is essential as you encourage your preschooler
to think, speak, move and thrive. Each
child is unique and makes progress at her own rate
and in her own way.
You can’t force communication or social interaction,
but you can facilitate it. Your child will lead you as
you pay attention to what she’s interested in and
how she plays.
Kathryn Thorson Gruhn’s My Baby Compass series brings to life the
importance of parental involvement in a child’s development. With
so many children being stimulated and motivated by today’s technological
world the checklist and guide lines of the My Baby Compass
series allows parents to easily stay abreast of their child’s
progress. It comes back to the old saying “You get out what you
put in.” This is never more true than with children. These books are
a step by step guide for parents to make strong additions towards
the education of their children. A child strong in language skills will
always be heard.
— Deirdre J. Roza, Daybreak Learning LLC.
Kathryn Thorson Gruhn’s My Baby Compass is a well-referenced,
well-rounded, accessible, and readable book from which any parent
or educator of children in this age bracket can learn a great deal. I
was especially appreciative of the segments dealing with communication
issues. True fluency (and later, eloquence) in speech and
writing in the latter stages of child development depend so heavily
upon the pre-rhetorical development of children ages 4 – 7, a fact
this author understands well. Ms. Gruhn’s empathic, disciplined
approach to communication-related issues is a particular pleasure
to read (Chapter Six’s Music and Rhymes for Fun and Learning
would seem worthy of the book’s purchase alone!).
— Dr. Susan Whalen, Author and Administrator
This little manual is the new classic for teachers and parents to
know, without a doubt, what they can do with their children to ensure
that listening, thinking, speaking and reading skills develop
right on time and in the right order! The clear format and direct
language take the guess work out of identifying developmental
milestones and then lists playful activities that will appeal to both
children and adults. Kathy’s book is a treasure trove of first-class
resources that anyone can access in an instant. I can’t wait to
share this classic with colleagues, parents, and family!
— Pat Bodenstab, First Grade Teacher
The Components of the My Baby Compass Program include
Checklists identify milestones, which are
skills, behaviors and physical developments that
commonly occur in certain age ranges. The milestones are
linked with symbols for these areas:
Activities are fun, quick ways to stimulate the
development of these skills and behaviors during
your normal day-to-day routine.
Reference Manual includes:
Chapter 1, “What You May Not Know about Your
Preschool Child,” provides useful knowledge to
help your child grow and learn.
Chapter 2, “The Communication and Learning Process,”
holds information about how your child
communicates and develops academic success.
Chapter 3, “Tracking Your Child’s Progress: The
My Baby Compass Checklists,” allows you to make
notes about your child’s progress. This chapter is
where you will check off your child’s milestones as
he meets them. You can take the completed
checklists to your child’s wellness visits.
Chapter 4, “My Child Did Not Meet a Milestone.
Now What?” tells you what to do if your child has
not exhibited all the skills, behaviors and physical
developments that are listed on the My Baby
Chapter 5, “Age-Appropriate Playtime Activities,”
offers a full range of activities that will maximize
creative learning and social interaction.
Chapter 6, “Music and Rhymes for Fun and Learning,”
is a resource for nursery rhymes, songs and
music both you and your child will enjoy.
Lastly, at the end of this book, you’ll find appendices
with helpful resources and information for
giving your child a great start in academics.
My Baby Compass may look like a book, but it is actually
a child development program that is easy to understand,
compact and practical. Parents and educators have limited
time and resources. The My Baby Compass program contains
most everything you need to be sure your child is on track in
his developmental milestones and that you are providing everything
he needs to thrive. Make sure you skim through the
entire book. This will make you aware of the layout, content
and the additional resources before you jump in and start
using the program. If further help is needed to understand
the process of early intervention and how to get help, this
too is included. The individual booklets that contain color-coded
checklists and developmental growth-enhancing activities
for each age range can be easily removed to travel with
a parent and to share with school and health care providers.
About the My Baby Compass Symbols
The symbols on this compass represent the six areas that
are assessed on the My Baby Compass Checklists. These
symbols link the milestones on the Checklists to these areas:
Talks) is the Expressive Language area, which
involves the development of the use of words,
sentences and conversation through speaking,
gesturing, signing or writing. It also includes the
use of the articulators (mouth, lips, teeth,
tongue, palate and jaw) for eating and swallowing.
Hearing (Four/Five/Six-Year-Old Hears) is
the Receptive Language area, which is the development
of the ability to comprehend information
and understand spoken language and/or sign
Old Understands) is the area of intellect, which
is the development of perception, memory, concepts,
thinking and problem solving.
Physical (Four/Five/Six-Year-Old Moves) is
the Physical/Motor area, which is the development
of the skills needed to move and to perform various
physical tasks, as well as the development of
balance, coordination, laterality (being aware of
the left and right sides of the body) and spatial
orientation (being aware of the position of one’s
body in relation to space, people and objects).
Vision is the ability to see objects, interpret physical
forms and track moving objects with one’s
eyes. (There are no separate “Four/Five/Six-
Year-Old Sees” Checklists or Activities. You will,
however, have the opportunity to monitor your
child’s vision status on Checklists throughout the
Feels) is the area of feelings and relationships,
which is the development of understanding and
managing emotions and interactions with others.
If, at the end of an age period, your child is not meeting
one or more milestones on a Checklist, the My Baby Compass
symbols also point you toward help in these developmental areas.
You’ll find more information in Chapter 4, “My Child Did
Not Meet a Milestone. Now What?”
Additional information and resources are available in Appendix
II, “About Screenings and Support.”
If you care about what your children learn, they will care.
The community provides learning opportunities and support,
but ultimately, what you put into the process will determine
your child’s success. I have written the My Baby Compass
series to inform parents and caregivers how children learn
and develop. Knowing if a child is on target for his developmental
milestones will give a person peace of mind. Education
continues through out our lifetime. It is never too late to
develop a passion for learning something new. Our brains
produce neurons well into our 80’s as long as the information
creates a challenging experience.
The world is rapidly changing. Our children need to be
creative, exquisite problem solvers and strong communicators.
We have created an environment of high technology,
which has increased the availability of information. However,
we need to continue to unplug and enjoy nature and social
interaction face-to-face. Happiness is dependent on personal
contact and helping others. Our children will need skills that
can’t be replaced by technology, competitive low-paid laborers
and automation. This will require children to have a higher
level of thinking, reasoning and artistic entrepreneurship.
We are stewards of this planet and we are responsible for
our children’s future. They are dependent on the choices we
make. The character of a nation is determined by how well
its children and elderly are treated and respected.
I hope this program is helpful to you. I wish I had had it
when my girls were young. At least I will have the My Baby
Compass series for my grandchildren. Remember, children
have many teachers and friends but the most important resource
is you. Education takes place in the home.
At My Baby Compass, we would like to wish you a happy and learning-filled 2017. I hope you come back to My Baby Compass many times for new and exciting ideas for raising your child to be the best person they can be.