Monday, March 7, 2011

Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond, A Rich Resource Review

Okay, so I broke the promise I made in my A Rich Review: Baby Sing & Sign post by not posting two more reviews on the 5th and then one every week after that. Forgive me. A host of appointments, illnesses, injuries and simply “life” waylaid my focus on reading and writing reviews for 52 Books in 52 Weeks, one book at a time as well as with posting anything at all!

So, before moving on with today’s review let me revise my promise: I am going to try to catch up on January, February and the beginning of March's reading and, then, read just one book at a time, posting about these once a week if life allows.  That means, in all actuality, I will most likely post reviews only about once a month or so.  Gotta go with the flow of life...

Okay, apologies made and – now – on with the review:

MegaSkills© for Babies, Toddlers, and Beyond: Building Your Child's Happiness and Success for Life 
* * * * 1/2 
(Read  my initial Rich Resource Review post to read more about my rating criteria.)

Some time ago, an upbeat, creative and talented mom from a homeschooling group I am a part of – and one who is a queen of finding free and low-cost quality materials – suggested I check out Megaskills: Building Our Children's Character and Achievement for School and Life by Dorothy Rich, EdD. I promptly reserved it at our library, browsed it and liked it.  Upon returning it, I put its name on a "get back to in a few years" list because it was aimed at chidlren four and up and mine were but toddlers at the time.

More recently, I discovered a companion edition to the book, Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond. Hoorah! Aimed at parents and educators of children ages four through six years old, this volume is ideal for my family right now.  It is a resource that is going to make my scattered efforts to center in on particular life skills and habits much more focused. It gets:

Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond is very easy to read and digest, even with a baby on your breast, a three year old singing songs and a five year old building a construction. Trust me, I know. I read it this way!

Beginning chapters are formatted in short, easy to read sections with large subtitles and a host of bulleted lists.   They deal with such topics as:
  • what Megaskills are
  • why Megaskills are important
  • how to get started with teaching Megaskills
Later chapters are well-organized with menus and clear, concise recipes for age-appropriate Megaskills activities.

There is also is a handy chapter on Tech Skills for young children and one on Measures to use to assess your child and yourself.

Finally, there are five Appendixes, including my favorite, Appendix C, which lists a number of popular early childhood books to go along with each Megaskill. This will help guide me in picking out titles for my kiddoes’ verocious appetite for picure books!

Okay, so I guess the aforementioned book list is not enough to earn Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond a full star for relevance. But the fact that it focuses activities on the following core skills certainly does:

  • Confidence - feeling able to do things
  • Motivation- wanting to do thing s
  • Effort - being willing to work hard
  • Responsibility - doing what’s right
  • Initiative -moving into action
  • Perseverance -completing what you start
  • Caring -showing concern for others
  • Teamwork -working with others
  • Common Sense -using good judgment
  • Problem Solving -putting what you know and what you can do into action
  • Focus -concentrating with a goal in mind
  • Respect -showing good behavior, courtesy, and appreciation
          (list from page 3 of book)

In fact, the book offers approximately 150 easy to understand and implement activities for building these skills across the continuum of early childhood development from age one through six.

Granted some of the suggested activities are common sense ones, such as:

“RESPECT: When Accidents Happen
Helping children know what to do
• Developmental Theme: Promote Good Daily Habits
When your preschooler spills milk on the floor, explain that you understand that accidents do happen. 
When she drops something she is carrying and it accidentally breaks, try not to get angry. Instead, ask your child to get a sponge or dishcloth and wipe up the spills or get a broom and dustpan and sweep the floor.
When there is a consistent response to accidents in your home, your child grows up knowing that she is responsible”
(from page 138 of the book)

That said, many suggested activities new or fun twists on “old” concepts, such as:

“PERSEVERANCE: Spaghetti Letters
Helping your child name and create the letters of the alphabet
• Developmental Theme: Create and Imagine
Cook and drain one cup of spaghetti that has been broken into two to three inchpieces. Place spaghetti in a bowl with cool water to keep it from sticking together.
Have a cookie sheet or other flat surface ready.
Make a list of alphabet letters on a piece of paper: Aa, Bb, Cc, etc. 
Name analphabet letter and have your child point to the letter that you name. 
Using a pieceof spaghetti, ask your child to form the letter you named.
Give help if needed. The spaghetti is wiggly so letters will not be perfect. 
Seehow many letters you can each make in ten minutes.”
(from page 126 of the book)

Such ideas ensure that there are plenty of "do now"s in the book, earning it a star!

Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond is extremely practical! It breaks big-picture ideas (the Megaskills) into simple, yet meaningful activities to build them. Also, it offers parents and educators easy ways to assess how their children are doing with each skill, how they, as parents, are doing with promoting Megaskills on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

I love the simple inventories/forms the book provides in Chapter 12 for evaluating and intend to copy them for some Assessment binders I am making for my children.  Very practical!

Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond will definitely be helpful for my family for the next five years or so since our youngest is less than a year old.  It would also help any family or educator working with young children on a consistent basis.

That said, in fairness to all reading this, I am only giving Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond a half star for longevity.  Why?  Well, depending on the age of the children you works with,  the book may not be personally useful for the long term. (However, it is a good enough resource that even if your children “aged out” of the activites the book includes, it would make a great pass-along or library donation!)

A * for VALUE
I have already borrowed Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond  from the library more than once and am putting it on my “purchase” list, since it is one that I would like to have handy as a reference for the next – oh – four to six years. For, even though some of the ideas in the book are common sense ones and many are not earth-shattering, I love that so many ideas are collected in one place and organized in an easy-access-way.  For this reason alone, the book can help me maintain focus not only on what my children are learning, but also on who they are becoming – successful, compassionate individuals with a wide range of skills that act as the foundation for character and achievement.

Megaskills for Toddlers, Babies and Beyond is a keeper in my opinion!

For more information on Megaskills, check out the Megaskills Online Education Center.

Also, check out the links at 52 Books in 52 Weeks, where this post is being shared.

1 comment:

Shonda said...

I'll have to check out that book!


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