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All of these concepts require practice and repetition if your child is going to become skilled users of these social relational tools. They are not born with them. Parents can use these key developmental targets to build unshakable bridges in their children's toddler and elementary years that hold firm throughout teen years and adulthood. The back and forth a mom builds rolling a ball with her toddler can transition to great conversations during backyard catch in pre-teen years and wisdom discussions in adulthood. Strong relational consistency in the home overflows to relationships outside the home. When a child becomes a "pro-turn-taker" with mom or dad, they go out into the world to be a turn-taking friend. Success increases when parents can understand the "why" behind the "what we are doing". Below are the "whys" behind the PLA activities as well as a few long term visions (LTV) to help understand exactly where these foundations can lead. They can be focused on at any age and practiced throughout life but some are more foundational than others so they are labeled: 'foundational, mid-level, Later-developing". Work on foundational ones earlier and as your child shows that skill move through middle to later-developing ones. 

(Some but not all of these will be targeted in each PLAtime)

Attention Span:

-the time your child will remain interested in an activity or stimulus.

Foundational - 2 minutes Later developing - 20 minutes

LTV:  your elementary child can attend to an assignment to complete it

Anticipation: Mid-level

-eagerly waiting with excitement and patience

Bonding: Foundational

-"knowing" someone;  really studying the intricate details of another person and increasing depth and amount of remembrance of those details

Breath Support and Direction: Foundational

-strength and endurance of lungs and mouth to breathe in support of verbal language and eating

Cause and Effect/Consequences: Foundational

-understanding that one thing or occurrence can spark a reaction i.e. "if I push, the block falls down"

LTV: actions have consequences. We want to help kids learn that their choices have power to create positive effects or draining effects on their lives. Learning early and repetitively can decrease the hard lessons later.

Chain Reaction: Mid-level

-one consequence initiates another consequence which creates another consequence in a sequential order

Consideration: Mid-level to Later

-realization that other people exist and they have wants, needs, thoughts, and opinions that may differ from mine  

LTV: your child asks for your perspective, thinks of another person's likes/dislikes

Delayed Gratification/Patience: Mid-level

-understanding the power of waiting for something to develop until it is fully ready to be utilized/experienced; whether a skill, a maturity level, a reward, or something for which one has saved  

Foundational -can delay 2 minutes to wait for most quantity Mid Level- can wait 1-5 hours Later can wait weeks/months/years

LTV: your child saves money to buy something that equals the cost of two or more allowances 

Detail Distinction: Foundational to Mid-level 

-deciphering parts or characteristics of something

LTV: your child can see the differences between shapes, letters, & numbers/ they make wise choices in activities, purchases, relationships, etc.

Description: Mid level 

-verbally telling details about objects, people, or places

LTV:  they can describe where they are for you to pick them up 

Emotional Vocabulary: Mid-level

-words used to communicate a feeling or emotional state.  Kids learn all sorts of vocabulary words-most of the first ones are of items or actions they can see or feel. Emotions are harder to grasp.  These words especially need to be understood by both parent and child with common definitions.

LTV: your child can name and  assess their own feelings and the strength of the emotion and choose other healthy activities that both decrease the draining or irritating emotions and increase the calming and uplifting emotions.

Energy release: Foundational 

-taking in new information and stimuli can increases brain activity which increase energy in the body; familiarity can bring calming. Children are constantly taking in new information which means they build up energy and often need to just release it, especially before a nap or being required to sit still somewhere.

Eye Contact: Foundational 

-calmness while looking into someone else's eyes during conversation, eventually gaining the ability to discern what they are looking at and/or how they feel

LTV: your child looks someone in the eye to shake their hand, your child connects with audience during a presentation at school, your child discerns that someone is not safe because they are saying kind words but their eyes do not support that

Fine Motor Skills: Mid-Level

-use of fingers to make small movements; these will usually also be strengtheners for writing 

Giving/Following Directions: Foundational - 1-step command Mid-level 2-step commands Later-developing: 3-5 step commands

-ability to both give and follow gesture and voice commands

LTV: your child stops immediately in a dangerous situation because they hear your "Freeze!"; they do what they are asked to do the first time the request has been given

Hand-Eye coordination:Foundational  

-being able to coordinate eye and hand movements simultaneously to grasp or catch or make contact with something or someone

Imagination: Mid-level 

-the ability to envision things not part of reality

Joint Attention: Foundational  

-when two or more people simultaneously give attention to a stimulus.

LTV: you share multiple fun experiences as you and your child look at the same thing

Joint Target: Mid-level

-two or more people aiming at the same target or goal

LTV: you and your child are working together to achieve the same end result

Leadership:  Mid level 

-considering the follower's perspective and modeling the way for them to complete something you already understand

LTV: your child guiding a sibling, your child leading a small group, your child showing someone a better way 

List Usage: Mid level 

-reminder tool of what needs attention and what has been completed

LTV: your child follows a list to get all needed items for school 

Listening: Foundational

-hearing and looking and processing audible information

Working Memory: Mid level 

-remembering what is seen or heard

LTV: your child develops study habits, your child remembers all the steps in your directions

Memory Associations: Later developing similar to memory but with more emotional involvement.  

-attaching a significant memory of an experience to a common object. (a day with a favorite person to a gum flavor, song, or kitchen utensil)

LTV: you and your kids will have ways to feel close to you even when miles or time separate 

Motor Planning: Foundational-clean one toy Mid-level Clean bucket of toys Later-developing: Clean one whole room

-the brain tells muscles when to move and how (often subconsciously)

LTV: child begins to step forward before throwing because they have watched your model or you have told them to do so

Matching: Foundational

-finding the corresponding item whether it is symbols, numbers, colors, letters, etc.

Narrative: Later-developing 

-Practice putting together a story line

LTV: your child can tell you what happened when they were injured, they can recount the events of their school day in an understandable format,  this helps with reading

Oral Motor Skills: Foundational

-movement and strength to move the mouth for sounds and eating

Patience: Mid-level to Later -developing 

-Waiting without frustration

LTV: being able to stay calm until it the scheduled time for something

Perspective: Later- developing 

-considering one's own point-of-view and another person's point-of-view

LTV: your child can see when they have limited information/ they can imagine themselves in someone's elses circumstance

Planning: Later developing

-cognitively determining a series of actions in advance and then going about their completion

LTV: your child tackles a project or cleans their room without assistance (** NOTE: the executive function required to clean an entire room without a checklist or other cue does not fully develop until later teen years) shorter term vision is socks before shoes, brush teeth before bed, pack lunch, etc.

Prediction: Mid-level- in story with pics to later-developing

-the ability to use experience to guess what will happen if a certain stimulus is introduced or action implemented

LTV: your child sees that danger is ahead physically or in life and making a decision to alter the outcome

Print Identification: Mid-level 

-seeing and recognizing numbers, letters, words, symbols etc.

Problem Solving: Foundational: top on or off Tupperware, Mid level: shape sorters up to more complex puzzles Later: Works through an idea of how to organize a schedule

-when given an obstacle or situation, deconstructing the portions in one's mind to form optional solutions and work through a process to overcome or complete the situation

LTV: your child breaks something but is able to find the best way to fix it/ your child is finds themselves in conflict with a friend but works to find a compromise or ask forgiveness so they do not lose the relationship

Role play: Foundational to Mid-level 

-pretending to take on a characteristic or role

LTV: your child can prepare or practice doing something before actually doing it (i.e. calling and ordering pizza, calling 911 in an emergency, safety  measures to exit a burning building calmly)

Same/Different: Foundational

-comparing/ contrasting aspects of two or more things that are alike and different

Sequencing:  Later 

-understanding what must come first, in the middle, and last in a series

LTV: your child puts on their shoes after socks, makes a sandwich, useful in homework and chores, reading

Self-Awareness: Later 

-being able to study one's own being, thoughts, actions and motives

LTV: your child can describe themselves and their feelings, thoughts

Self-restraint/ regulation: Foundational: In Freeze Dance game can hold body still until music starts again Mid Level holding back voice or movement to give another person a turn or to be quiet in a situation, Later not reacting when provoked Much Later: can choose an activity to cheer themselves up if sad or go release energy if restless

-monitoring and choosing things for self

LTV: your child walks away from argument to cool down, waits their turn, does not just react immediately to some perceived offense, 

Sensory: Foundational information

-input that involves the senses of see, taste, touch, feel, hear

Shared goal/ target: similar to joint target

-two or more people working toward same task

Shared experience: similar to joint attention

-two or more people experiencing the same stimulus with individual perspective

Symbolic Play /Pretend Play: Mid level

-the use of one item in place of another. This leads to greater problem solving.  i.e. a block for a cell phone, a pan for a toy car ramp

LTV: you child can improvise with what they have to complete a task, they don't become paralyzed by circumstances

Teamwork: Foundational one partner Mid level family or smaller group Later entire team 

-figuring out your own role on a team, completing your responsibility with humility, trusting other members to complete their own role but encouraging them if needed, taking credit together 

LTV: your child shows great sportsmanship, builds up and encourages, does not boast

Time Concepts: Mid Level to Later

-for transitions, for task completion, for compensation, for delayed gratification

Turn Taking: Foundational

-back and forth reciprocity seen in conversation (talking then listening); playing games (you go then I go)

LTV: fundamental for conversation, taking turns with chores or responsibilities 

Trust: Foundational 

-believing someone is not deceiving you, will come back, wants to be with you, wants what is best for you