Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Albany Democrat-Herald, Albany, Ore., Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, Ore.
Simple game can boost learning BY MIKE MCINALLY
A “head-shouldersknees-and-toes” test that has helped to gauge levels of self-regulation in toddlers appears to be just as effective with children overseas as it is with U.S. children, according to research that includes work done by an associate professor at Oregon State University. And the news gets better for parents: Another study suggests that games such as the “heads-and-shoulders” task can help to boost the levels of self-regulation in children. Megan McClelland, an associate professor of human development and family science at OSU, and her colleagues have spent years probing the importance of self-regulation in children and seeing whether the “heads-and-shoulders” game can offer insights into that. Self-regulation, roughly defined, is the ability of children to control their behavior and impulses. In the “heads-andshoulders” task, children are asked to perform the opposite action to an oral command. For example, if they get the command to touch their toes, the proper response is to touch their heads. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the old “Simon Says” game — and McClelland said it gets pretty complex over the five minutes needed to perform the test. “It gets pretty confusing, actually,” she said, and children often respond initially by saying things like “This is a tricky game” or “Are you
TIPS FOR PARENTS
Repeating the ‘head-and-shoulders’ game helps improveself-regulation in young children, says OSU’s Megan McClelland, left. trying to trick me?” think before they act. The game essentially See SELF-REGULATION on 15 forces children to stop and
How can parents help to build self-regulation skills in their children? Megan McClelland of Oregon State University offers these tips: • Be sure to set clear limits — and “be really consistent with those limits,” McClelland said. • Be warm and responsive to your toddlers. • Look for opportunities to let your children take the lead at solving problems or working out issues — a process McClelland called “autonomy support.” “Resist the temptation to jump in and solve a problem,” she said. “Back off and let them solve the problem.”
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