Promote Healthy Development
Published in: Adoption Today, August/September
2005 - Volume 8, Number 1, p. 30-31.
Boris Gindis, Ph.D.,
The most important task in the first weeks and months
of adoption is to strengthen attachment with your internationally
adopted child. Playing and taking care of the child's basic needs
(feeding, bathing, etc.) will constitute your major occupation at
this time. Without being intrusive, try to have as much physical
contact with the child as possible using shared activities.
1. Giant walk: The child
stands on your feet, facing you, walk them around the room. Your
rule: eye contact makes you go, lack of eye contact makes you stop.
2. Thumb/arm wrestling:
Hold each other's forearms, and sit facing and touching each other
with the knees. Pretend you are applying great efforts to hold your
3. Eye blinking contest: Stare
at each other and see who can go the longest without blinking or
laughing. Winner gives the looser a hug or tickle.
4. Tunnels: Parent kneels
on the floor forming a tunnel. Child crawls through the tunnel as
fast as he/she can before the tunnel collapses. Note: for the first
few times let the child get completely through, then have it gently
collapse onto the child.
5. Pillow ride: have child sit on a big
floor pillow and you drag him/her around the room. Your rule: you
only move when given eye contact.
One of the most important parental tasks is
helping your internationally adopted child to master the English
language. The acquisition of a new language by the IA children is
more akin to a natural way of the first language development: they
acquire their new language in the process of daily events and as
a byproduct of meaningful communication. There are ways to make
language learning at home a more intense, cognitively enriching,
and purposeful activity while keeping it game-like fun pursuit.
The following developmental activities
are taken from "SmartStart Program: Helping Your Internationally
Adopted Child Develop a Foundation for Learning" available
1. "Tell me which one"
objects in front of you and your child. Take turns telling each
other which one to pick. You have to use words that describe the
object. For example: "Give me the one that is blue" or
"Give me the one that is tall." Another version of this
is to use edible items that your child can eat after providing the
correct name and description, for example, the blue M&M or the
long, thin pretzel. Be sure to make this fun so that it doesn't
come across as a punitive way of having a snack!
2. "Look, feel, smell"
child to say as many things as possible about a common object. Remind
your child to use all the senses: How does it look? How does it
feel? How does it smell? How does it taste? For example, a cup:
"This is a cup. It is hard. It is shiny. It is blue. It can
break. It is short. It has a handle. It is smooth". Repeat
this some more times and encourage your child to think of even more
things. If your child has difficulty thinking of ideas, provide
gestured cues by, for example, pointing to your eyes for 'look,'
pointing to your nose for 'smell.'
3. "Pattern movement"
It is played
with hands, with each person thinking up a new pattern and asking
the other person to copy it. For example, clap, clap; pat, pat (knees);
touch (nose), clap, clap; etc. You can do this with the whole family,
with one person starting a pattern. The pattern sequence should
be repeated until everyone gets it.
4. "Make a collection"
a walk, decide to "collect" something. For example, during
the fall, decide on a specific kind of leaf collection (for example,
it must have two colors and be a whole leaf). Analyze other things
in the category to decide if it "fits" the collection.
Talk with your child about the characteristics that make the new
object fit or not fit in the collection.
5. "What is missing"
objects and call your child's attention to the missing part and
its functional relationship to the whole (toy car without a wheel,
shirt without buttons). Cut out pictures of objects, cut them into
two pieces, and mount them on index cards, being certain that one
picture is identifiable as "missing" from the other picture:
a tree cut into trunk and branches. Have the child to draw in the
missing part (hand on a clock, sleeve on a shirt, tail on a dog)
6. "Guess what"
Take turns describing
something for others to guess. The guess must be based on the description.
This builds vocabulary skills, reinforces expressive language development,
and reviews attributes.
This game is to
decide all the different ways something can be measured. Pick something
in your house to measure, for instance, a piece of furniture. Give
an example, such as "See this table? I can measure it with
my hands. Let's see how many hands long it is! Now, I think I'll
measure it with this pencil. Let's see how many pencils it is!"
Then ask your child to pick something to use for measuring, and,
once done, to think of another way to measure the same thing. Once
you have measured the object at least two different ways, you can
ask questions such as: is the table more hands or pencils? You can
also expand on this activity with ideas such as: go find something
that is two pencils long.