Talking with Children About Potentially Sensitive Topics: Birth, Sex, Death, and Santa

Our study looks at conversations between parents/caregivers and their children about potentially sensitive topics including birth, sex, death, and fantastical beings (i.e. Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny). Our paper covers information on what children know, Parent conversations, and cultural differences between all these topics. Our methods Are broken up into two parts: a parent survey and an informative website. The survey was distributed locally and included questions about parents’ beliefs towards how much their children knew about these topics and their attitudes about having the conversations. The website was created to be a tool for parents and combines the key findings of our literature review with our own survey-based research.

Boys’ and Girls’ Early Science-Related Experiences and Opportunities

The Effects of Breastfeeding and the Importance of Teen Education

Fostering Children’s Interest in Science Learning Through the Use of a Hands-On Gardening Activity

In this project, we reviewed existing understandings of how children and families engage in informal science learning during visits to museums and gardens. We then developed and implemented a learning workshop designed to increase children’s science learning and interest by engaging them in activities related to gardening and plant growth. Our workshop was titled “Little Farmers” and was a one-day event that took place at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. The main goal was to facilitate parent-child interactions in an informal science learning setting. In order to do this, we developed several activities that included: seed planting, reading, coloring book, games, photo opportunity, and prompting signage. The visitors on the day of the workshop consisted of about 20 families with young children, ranging from 2 to 10 years of age. The most popular and engaging activity was the seed planting station, where parents and children worked together to plant the seeds and discuss the process of growth. We designed the workshop to be guided by the parent or the child in order to facilitate their interactions. However, lack of facilitation at each station led to low participation in several activities, including our games. Due to the low interest in our games, we chose to do a follow-up activity with a local Girl Scout troop to see if the games were effective. There was a positive response, which revealed that an older audience and increased facilitation was crucial to interest in the games, which led to learning. Overall, our workshop was a success at providing a space for parent-child interactions to engage in informal science learning.

The Use of Play in Speech and Occupational Therapy

Sensory Processing Disorder and speech impairment affect millions of children in the United States. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects a child’s development leading to difficulties with “detecting, modulating, interpreting, and/or organizing sensory stimuli” (Miller, Nielsen & Schoen, 2012, p.804). Furthermore, these children may find it difficult to self-regulate their behavior. Speech impairment is typically described as speech sound disorders (SSD), which involves a child having difficulties with communicating or correctly producing their native language (Brumbaugh, Smit, Nippold & Marinellie, 2013). Brumbaugh et al. (2013) also found that these children were likely to develop a poor self-image which provides even more incentive to find effective therapies. Furthermore, children with SPD and SSD are likely to have other behavioral disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Carr, Agnihotri, & Keightley, 2010; Cheung & Siu, 2009).

Occupational therapy is often used to treat SPD and speech therapy for SSD. Occupational therapists may employ treatments such as sensory integration approach or Sensory Integrative Treatment Protocol, which has been found to have promising results increasing sensory integration in children (Case-Smith & Bryan, 1999; Paul et al. 2003). Speech therapists use play therapy as it has been proven effective in helping children improve their speech as well as helping children with autism (who tend to be seen in speech therapy) learn to interact with other children (Danger & Landreth, 2005). The interactive activities used in play therapy have been shown to improve multiple behavioral disorders, including SPD. This was the motivation behind creating an interactive game for children to play while in therapy sessions. Although there have been proven tasks and activities that help children improve upon their developmental delays from their behavioral disorder, there has been little research on a formal game that can be used in therapy.

After researching and brainstorming, the interactive game developed in this project became known as Hands Up, Speak Up! The inspiration for the game was Cranium, an entertaining, but interactive board game. Melissa Quinn, teacher in a specialty classroom, and Nancy Koppl, speech therapist, were used as consultants for the game and allowed the children in their classrooms at C.L. Smith elementary school be used in the pilot of the game. Ms. Koppl recommended the use of the 80% rule as a main goal of the game, as this rule encourages learning and builds a child’s confidence. The 80% rule states that children should complete the task correctly 80% of the time; if the child is under then the task should be made easier, if the child is over then task should be made more difficult. The target audience for the interactive game was elementary school students in speech or occupational therapy with multiple behavioral disorders (SPD, SSD, ASD, etc).

The game consists of five sections: Act Up, Build Up, Speak Up, Hands Up, and Community, which are all aimed to benefit children in speech or occupational therapy. During the pilot of the game, which consisted of four rounds, one of the creators played the game with the children while the other observed. The 12 children ranged from first to fourth grade and were all apart of Ms. Quinn’s specialty classroom. Modifications made to the game after the pilot were the addition of a game master (a therapist or trained adult who could provide help during the game and scaffold the tasks to fit the child’s needs) and beginning the game with a Community game for increased engagement. After these modifications were made, a second pilot was conducted and demonstrated these changes to be helpful in increasing interest and engagement. In the future, it would be noteworthy research to assess if Hands Up, Speak Up! holds statistical value in improving children’s fine motor skills, gross motor skills, articulation, or expressive vocabulary.

Enhancing Motor Skills of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Potential of an Interactive Metronome Approach

SLiC: Family Science Backpacks for Preschoolers

In this senior project, I reviewed existing literature regarding science instruction in preschool classrooms, young children’s capabilities and interest in learning science, what science is happening at home, as well as preschool teachers’ feelings toward teaching science. I explored the possibility of bridging the gap between the school and home environment by using a prepared informal learning tool that students could take home and complete with their family.

During the years children are in preschool, they are forming their understandings of the world around them (French, 2004; Nayfield, Brenneman & Gelman, 2011; Eshach & Fried, 2005). In developing these understandings, their natural curiosity prepares them for the beginning ideas of science (Eshach & Fried, 2005; Cowie, Otrel-Cass, 2011). Research is beginning to show that children can not only understand scientific concepts, but they also enjoy learning about them (Eshach & Fried, 2005; Cowie & Otrel-Cass, 2011; Nayfield, Brenneman, & Gelman, 2011; Siry, Ziegler, & Max, 2011). Researchers further argue that preschool-aged children should be exposed to science early because this will help in understanding scientific concepts later on (Eshach & Fried, 2005).

In my senior project, I created science backpacks that could be used to bridge learning between the science curricula offered at school and the science learning opportunities that can be fostered by parents at home. My project consisted of two phases: development and pilot testing. I developed three Science Literacy Connection (SLiC) backpacks that consisted of science-themed children’s literature, science activity instructions, as well as the materials for the activities. Observations completed at the Montessori Children’s School determined the three themes chosen for the backpacks, which include Cloud Types, Food Chains, and Acids and Bases.

After completing all of the backpacks (Name that Cloud, What’s on the Menu?, and pH fun for everyone), one was chosen to go through further testing. The “Name that Cloud” SLiC backpack went through a series of observation-based pilot-testing done at The Cal Poly Preschool Learning Lab, before being sent home with a preschooler from the Montessori Children’s School.

Field-tests completed on the “Name that Cloud” SLiC backpack suggested that children and adults positively engaged in science-related activities while exploring the backpack contents. As a result, I felt that the “Name that Cloud” SliC backpack achieved what it was designed to do, which was to increase preschool children’s exposure to science as well as encourage parent-child interactions.

The materials provided in each of the backpacks model an appropriate interactive approach to fostering children’s learning in science.

Exploring Children’s Conceptual Development: An Examination of How Children Learn Astronomy From Reported Access to Related Materials, Experiences, and Conversations to Initial Understandings

Motivations and Relationship Quality of Friends with Benefits Relationships Among Emerging Adults

This study was conducted to understand more about college-aged students’ motivations for Friends with Benefits (FWB) relationships, and the quality of those relationships. These casual relationships are gaining acceptance among college populations, but we understand little about gender differences in engaging in them. An online survey was created and participants were recruited from various groups and classes on campus. From this pool of students, 233 undergraduate students completed the survey. Measures included five motivation categories: sex, wanted FWB, relationship avoidance, friendship, and relationship simplicity (Hughes, Morrison, and Asada, 2005), in addition to six relationship quality aspects: satisfaction, commitment, intimacy, trust, passion, and love (Fletcher, Simpson, and Thomas, 2000). Findings suggested that Cal Poly men and women have similar motivations for engaging in these relationships. However, men reported being more satisfied and feeling more trust in these relationships than women.

An Examination of Summer Bridge Programs for First-Generation College Students

During the last fifty years, nearly half of all students who entered a two- or four-year university withdrew without obtaining a degree. Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnic minority students, and students who were the first in their…

Perceptions of the Voluntarily Childless: The Negative Stigma of an Unconventional Ideal

This study examined the potential implications of religious affiliation on perceptions of voluntarily childless couples. Undergraduate students were given a vignette about an adult couple that either had children or that was childless, and were sub…

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