The Playful Brain Development of Children’s Humor Paul Mc. Ghee, Ph. D The Laughter Remedy, Wilmington, DE Virginia Head Start Association, April 11, 2018
Goal of this Workshop w Better understanding of the nature of young children’s humor • What is humor? • When do infants first experience humor? • How do you determine that? • Is the earliest humor based on something the infant does? Or something parents do? • How does children’s humor change as they get older? • What causes these changes?
Goal of this Workshop w Learn • How you can use humor to support young children’s learning. • Especially using books • How humor contributes to children’s social, emotional & intellectual development. [See handout at conference website. ] • What you can do to nurture the development of young children’s S. H. [See handout at conf website. ]
The Key to Understanding Children’s Humor w It’s just another form of play - play with ideas
Play is our Biological Heritage (So humor also our Biol. Heritage!)
A Key (generally overlooked) Distinction Exploratory vs. Playful Play What is the Difference? w Think about 2 - to 4 -year-olds you’ve seen playing. Does this distinction make sense to you? • What differences have you noticed in their • Behavior? • Frame of mind—mentally & emotionally?
Exploratory Play Serious frame of mind interest & curiosity focused attention w A fundamental driving force behind learning & cognitive development w
Playful frame of mind often laughter, even when no humor w What function does it serve? Why do we do it? w
Child’s point of view - just having FUN, but w Learning also occurs during playful play even thought the focus is having fun w
Early Childhood Educators have Long Recognized the Importance of Play for Learning
Results of Animal Play Research w Animals that play more “larger brains with more complex neurological structures” • The same is sure to occur with children
Learning through 3 Different kinds of Play w Exploratory play (most common ECE approach) • Serious frame of mind; high curiosity/interest • Focused attention w Playful play (including pretend) – indirect learning • Playful FM; focus on having fun • May silly or incongruous things in pretend w Humor • Playful FM; focus on silliness, wrongness or absurdity • Supports new learning by holding attn. & interest • Consolidates past learning - by drawing attn to “wrongness” w All 3 are important HIGH “ENGAGEMENT” & positive emotion
An Important Message to Pass on to Parents: Play IS Important w All 3 types of play important for parents to engage in these with young children • Exploratory • Playful physical & pretend play • Humor
Playful vs. Exploratory Play In the following Slides, Which do you see?
Well, sometimes it’s hard to tell
No Doubt Here!
Koko Plays with her Mind
Playful Play More Common in Higher Species What Function does it Serve for Animals? w Learning • Skills essential for survival as an adult • Just as important in human children • Knowledge about the world, social skills & more • Pretend play often switches back & forth between playful & exploratory play (e. g. , exploring social roles, relationships) w Humor just a more advanced form of play with ideas
What is Humor? When do Infants First Experience Humor? What have you seen that = earliest humor? Partner Exercise
Partner Exercise w Think of one example of what you’ve seen a child say/do that is • Typical of the sense of humor shown by the age level you most often work with
What is a Sense of Humor? w Humor is intellectual play, play with ideas. It is the experience of deriving pleasure from playfully • Creating / appreciating distortions of the world as the child understands it • Expressing / reacting to taboo or emotionally sensitive ideas or actions
Children’s Humor: Basic Concepts w Children love to create in their own minds a world they know is at odds with reality • This is biologically built in – reflects a general predisposition to play with new capacities • They do this in different ways as they get older • The changes reflect new intellectual skills that have recently developed
Two Basic Kinds of Humor (in young children, as well as adults) w Incongruity, absurdity, nonsense, etc. • Distortions of the world as child understands it • Biologically built in to enjoy this w “Tendentious” (term coined by Freud) • “Pee pee. ” “Ka ka. ” “Poop. ” very funny
Young Children’s “F” Word
Stages of Humor Development w Stage 0: Laughter without humor w Stage 1: Laughing at the attachment figure w Stage 2: Treating an object a different obj. w Stage 3: Misnaming objects or actions
Stages of Humor Development Overview Stage 4: Playing with word sounds (not meanings) & distortion of features of objects, people or animals (late toddler - 5 or 6 yrs) w Pre-riddle stage w • Transition stage w Stage 5: Riddles & jokes • Discuss now briefly
Stage 0: Laughter without Humor (Birth - 5 months) w How do you decide when humor begins? • Onset of smiling? Laughter? • 3 - to 5 -mo-old infants laugh at unusual beh’s/sounds by parents (who usually laugh when they do them (Mireault, et al. , 2014) • They appear to be using parent laughter as a cue to laugh • Some Youtube videos Can see the baby gradually responding to parent’s own laughter • Physical (non-humor) causes of infant laughter • Bouncing on knee, “raspberries” • Is this laughter the same as laughing at incongruity? • Gen. rule: Anything that’s physiologically arousing in a safe/familiar env. may laughter (60 -yr-old woman 1 st time on roller coaster) • So if humor involves playful distortion of things already learned, this probably not humor
Baby Micah Laughter on You. Tube What common themes do you see in most of these examples? Non-stop laughter at tearing paper (8 mo. ) w Dad bouncing laundry basked down on floor (9 mo) w Dad makes an inhaling “Uhhh” sound & throws a plastic package that makes a loud “splat” sound on table (18 mo) w Dad blowing rubber block out of his mouth (18 mo) w
Role of Parent Laughter w Clowning & “absurd” actions & noises by parents most common approach to getting their babies to laugh (because it’s most effective) • Key: Parents of 3 - to 6 -month-old infants gen. laugh when they (parents) initiate odd beh’s/noises Mireault, et al. (2012). • So parents’ own laughter may play an important role in stimulating infant laughter & communicating to babies the kind of things that are to be laughed at
Stage 1: Laughter at the Attachment Figure -12/15 mo. ) w Earliest humor reacted to, not created Mo/Fa emotionally imp. & well-learned • • Peek-a-boo? (esp. if done in animated way) Mo. sucking baby’s bottle Mo. waddling like a penguin Any unusual behavior of attachment person (e. g. , putting bowl on your head; Loizou, 2005) • Key difference: Will now laugh more often in absence of parent laughter (5
Zachary Examples • Half a banana sticking out of my mouth - 5 m • Dad barking (but not mooing or meowing) - 5 • Dad holding rubber duck in front of face while quacking – 5 m • Dad looking at Z with Diaper under nose - 7 m • Q: If an infant’s parents had been doing these things from birth would there be any humor or laughter?
Basic (non-humor) Research A Key Transition Occurs between 8 & 12 months (Baumgartner, H. A. & Oakes, L. M. (2011). Infants’ Developing Sensitivity to Object Function: Attention to Features and Feature Correlations. J. of Cognition & Development, 12(3): 275– 298. w 8 months • w 12 months • w “Infants learned individual features but were not sensitive to the relations between those features. ” (e. g. , an object known to be RED and ROUND, but not both) “Infants were sensitive to the relation among the features. ” (e. g. , is LONG and YELLOW) So by the end of the first year, infants are learning that • A given action goes with objects with certain features, but not others • E. g. , people walk like “this” (demonstrate), but not like a penguin • Certain features go with some objects, but not others • E. g. , People make talking sounds, but not barking sounds. • Violating these learned associations may humor
Stage 2: Treating an Object as a Different Object (12/15 mo - 3/5 yrs) w Earliest humor that is created by child • • Bowl, diaper, washcloth as hat Stick as brush or toothbrush Shoe as telephone Any unusual/incongruous action with an object The child’s frame of mind determines whether it’s humor or not w Research: when 19 - to 24 -mo-olds reproduced a funny beh of a parent, they look at the parent longer-apparently wanting the behavior to be noticed w KEY POINT: • Are they checking to see if the parent laughs? (Hoicka & Gattis, 2008)
w Remember: Sometimes its just pretend play, and nothing is funny
Stage 2 Zachary Examples (These examples involve language; but the key using objects in wrong way) Mother brushing Z’s teeth. Z asks, “Brush nose? Brush ear? ” & laughs – 22 m. w “Look, shoes on. ” w Put them on hands – 24 m. w “Give tape diaper. ” Didn’t want diaper changed; saw videotape on floor 26 m
Stage 3: Misnaming Objects or Actions (2 - 3/4 yrs) As language mastery continues, the joy of doing things “wrong” extended to language w Supporting evidence: Starts at 2, but does not become common in most ch until 3 yrs w (Hoicka & Akhtar (2012). • “Show me your nose” game (as early as end of 2 nd year) • Calling a cat a dog, a shoe a sock, etc. w Opposites: a special case of misnaming
Stage 3 Zachary Examples “Where’s your nose? ” knee – 22 m. w “Here kitty, kitty” to stuffed dog – 26 m. w To tune of “Head, shoulders …”, substitutes wrong word for “toes. ” (Light, toast, mommy, etc. ) w “A, B, C, D, E, F, ___ w (Substitutes any name – 26. )
Stage 4: Distortion of Features of objects, people, animals (3 -5 yrs) [Very common in children’s books. ] w Supporting evidence: Starts at 2, but does not become common in most ch until 3 yrs (same as Stage 3 humor) Hoicka & Akhtar (2012). w Adding features that don’t belong (can also take away features) • Sesame Street Dog’s head on man’s body • Dog “Oink” or “miaow, ” etc. • This is now much funnier than just calling a dog a pig.
Stage 4: Distortion of Features of objects, people, animals (3 -5 yrs) w Changing shape, size, location, color, length of familiar things • Man with square head or eyes in wrong place • Exaggerated features (long skinny neck, big ears, enormous feet (clowns) • Very large man with tiny hat, or vice versa
Stage 4: Distortion of Features of objects, people, animals (3 -5 yrs) Incongruous or impossible behavior w (e. g. , Far Side cartoons) • Cow on roller skates, or sitting in a tree whistling like a bird. • Adult in baby stroller • Parents in baby crib w w Latest evidence: toddlers start to find these things funny as early as age 2
Stage 4: Distortion of Features of objects, people, animals (3 -5 yrs) w Kids sometimes get confused • “Dad, pigs can’t really fly can they? ” – 3 yrs • Q: What would the reaction be if you used trick photography to show pigs really flying?
One Example of how Humor Supports your Educational Efforts (Also applies to preschoolers, as well as toddlers) w Humor very common in books for ch. as young as 2 years (Hoicka, et al. 2008) • Obtained a list of library-recom mended books for 2 -yr-olds • 20 bks randomly selected & coded for whether contained different kinds of “wrong” info about physical & social world – Humor, pretend, mistakes, lying & metaphor • Humor most common form of wrongness • 13 included some form of wrongness • 11 of these 13 included humor
Books for Toddlers w The humor in these books usually based on things inconsistent with what child has already learned • So publishers (& librarians) aware toddlers get pleasure our of doing things wrong, backwards, etc.
How do Parents go about Reading Funny books to Toddlers? A Key Finding of the Study w They said things like • “That can’t happen can it” • “Isn’t that silly? ” • Pig flying: “Isn’t that silly? ” • People eating grass: “That’s silly. . . People don’t eat grass. ”
How do Parents go about Reading Funny books to Toddlers? w So reading funny books to toddlers changes the way parents talk to them • Causes them to • Use more abstract words • Engage children in thinking about what’s possible & NOT possible w This important because children whose parents use more abstract statements when reading to them • Develop greater abstract thinking abilities later on
You can help Parents Cultivate the Habit of Reading Humorous Books to their toddlers & preschoolers
Reminder w Funny books for toddlers & preschoolers • Sometimes target “new learning, ” but they • Often reinforce what the child has already learned by drawing attention to the silliness/absurdity of the way the book distorts that prior learning
Can even use Humor for Early Toddlers A lot of “board” books for early toddlers use humor Items of clothing > initially put on wrong are now right, BUT. . .
Suggestion to Pass on to Parents Early Literacy“Crates” (Boxes) Available in MY County Library System w Available to all parents (and ECE teachers) • Contain 20 books with same theme • I checked out one called “Hats • These were in the box • Tell parents about these • Lots of choices of theme • Quick and easy - pre-packed & ready to sign out
Early Literacy“Crates” (Boxes) Available in MY County Library System w 30 crates/themes in English - 7 in Spanish • Available to any county resident • Ask librarian for help on themes & availability • If none available at your local county library, can choose one & put it on HOLD as you would for an individual book
Early Literacy“Crates” (Boxes) Available in MY County Library System w Laminated pages explain to parents • What early literacy is - “what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read or write” • Specific brief info on letter knowledge, phonological awareness, print awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills and print motivation (interest in books) • Humor > important role in building early literacy
Early Literacy Library Resources available in Virginia http: //www. lva. virginia. gov/lib-edu/ldnd/early-literacy/ Discusses opportunities for helping parents (& you) use the VA library system to support early literacy (pre-reading) skills in children w Shows parents that w • “The first years are critical times & children entering school with pre-reading skills have the advantage. ” • “Early Literacy is defined as everything a child learns and knows about reading and writing before he or she reads and writes. ” • “It is NOT the teaching of reading. It is laying a strong foundation so that when children are taught to read, they are ready. ”
Early Literacy Library Resources available in Virginia http: //www. lva. virginia. gov/lib-edu/ldnd/early-literacy/ VA State library system DOES Early Lit program (serves parents, caregivers, teachers) w They also have a “crate” system w • Eletha Davis coordinates it - 757 -259 -7749 • Ready-to-go crates have themes; will also put together a crate with theme you suggest. Available to preschool teachers/Head Start staff only. Parents can’t sign these out. • Book mobile goes to different Head Start locations once/month. Contact Eletha to get schedule. – You can help children sign out books (they’ll have their own card). You give the books to parents with encouragement to read to children. – Eletha can help you create a one-sheet page to hand out to parents, showing the importance of “pre-reading” skills
Educating Parents about the Nature of--and Importance of-Pre-Reading Early Literacy Skills w Go to the Library of Virginia website • Click on “Early Literacy Poster” • Then click on “Decoding the Poster” • Then click on “full early literacy article” – This give you the full 5 -p article on “Early Literacy Begins with You” – Prepare a one-page handout & give to parents, highlighting the key benefits
Educating Parents about the Nature of--and Importance of-Pre-Reading Early Literacy Skills [Taken from the article] w “What is Early Literacy? • Early literacy is what children know about communication, language, verbal and non-verbal, reading and writing before they can actually read & write. It encompasses all of a child’s experiences with conversation, stories, oral and written, books, and print. • Early literacy is NOT the teaching of reading. It is laying a strong foundation so that when children are taught to read, they are ready. ”
Educating Parents about the Nature of--and Importance of-Pre-Reading Early Literacy Skills [Covered in the article] What is Early Literacy? Why does early literacy matter? w Getting Ready for Reading—Early Literacy Overview w • Oral language —listening, speaking, communication skills • Phonological Awareness —the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words • Print Awareness/Conventions of Print —the knowledge that print has meaning, environmental print, how to handle a book, direction of text, title/author/illustrator. • Letter Knowledge —knowing that the same letter can look different, that letters have names and represent sounds • Vocabulary —knowing the meanings of words • Background Knowledge —prior knowledge, what a child knows when entering school
An A-Z book for learning the alphabet—but with a funny twist. w Moose wants to be in the book and keeps jumping in the picture early—for the wrong letter. w • It first happens with the letter D
Moose keeps trying to jump on the page for different letters. w He keeps peeking around the corner of each letter page until “L” w • He’s excited because he knows he’s next.
w On the right side of the “N” page, Zebra says “I’m sorry. We decided to go with the mouse this time. ” • Moose explodes with anger on the next few pages, and crosses out every animal or object name, putting “Moose” in it’s place. • He then gets sadder & sadder as they get closer to Z, saying “It’s too late. All that’s left is Z. ”
w On the last page, Zebra finds a way to get Moose into the book. • So Moose is happy again, they’re walking away arm-in-arm on the back cover. &
So Why might this Book be More Effective than a Non-Humorous “A is for. . . Book? w The humor in the pictures leads pre-readers to seek out the book to look at on their own - because it’s FUN to read. • It’s very engaging & holds the child’s attention & interest • This repetition + focused attention + the joy and laughter that go with reading it optimize LEARNING and RETENTION • Also an important lesson about friendship - as well as letters & words
w Focus of the book = Learning about BAD & GOOD manners when eating a meal • Humor used as a tool for learning good table manners by first demonstrating bad meal behavior & then modeling good meal behavior • Sets a foundation for learning to manage one’s own eating beh w First uses visual humor to demonstrate everything a child should NOT do at meal time - including:
w Throwing your spaghetti
w Burping & belching
w “Does he spit out his broccoli partially chewed? ”
w Other pages include: • • Fussing in your chair Blowing bubbles in your milk Sticking food up your nose Squeezing food between your toes.
w Last half of book models “proper” behavior • • Saying “Please” & “Thank you” Trying at least one bite of everything Not dropping food on floor Not being noisy
w Basic idea • First uses humor to engage the child’s interest & attention • Exaggerates the wrong behavior to make it funny – This makes it easy to see that this is not the right way to eat • Then contrasts the exaggerated wrong behavior with the proper way to behave at meal time
Other books in the “How do Dinosaurs. . . ” series use same humorous approach to support new learning
w Sometimes can use humor to • Help children learn that doing something that seems totally SILLY at first (makes no sense at all) • Turns out to be exactly the right thing to do when you get more information about the situation
Pig knew all along that they would need these boots and umbrellas, as well as the veggies in the soup because he knew what his friends would do.
Sometimes the Humorous Books are Mainly for Fun & Laughter
Humor Books for Toddlers Is there a Learning Objective here? w Last page: Walking home on sidewalk with lot of people • Mom says “Bark George!” • George says “Hello” [Last page for adults? ] (18 -36 months)
& Sometimes they have a Specific Learning Objective
Excellent Resource for find Humor books on a Specific Learning Topic w Large index of subjects/topics • Has list of “humorous stories, ” but this will not help you find books that support learning a specific subject area • Search books on specific topic • Read the books yourself; select for – Humor – Appropriate age level • Ask child librarian for help finding humorous books on the topic • Build (in the summer - or whenever you have time) your own list of humor books that relate to you learning objectives
Mrs. Mc. Nosh Hangs up her Wash w Starts out normally • Gradually more & more bizarre things w The child finds it funny because s/he KNOWS these are not things you wash & hang up to dry
Some Books are Read to Toddlers & Preschoolers, but Parts of the Book are for an Older Child’s Sense of Humor
Click, Clack, Moo. Cows that Type w More abstract story line than Mrs. Mc. Nosh • Some humor will be missed by preschoolers w Incongruities • Simple: Expressions, animals that type • Complex: Going on strike, bargaining for blankets, duck (mediating the dispute) realizing she can also make demands with typewriter
Sometimes the Pictures are Funny, but the Words beyond the Child’s Level w How much of this language will the child follow?
Curious George w thinking/acting like a person • Smoking pipe, eating with spoon/fork, dialing phone, sleeping in regular bed [pretend] • Visuals (e. g. , oversize hat) w Slapstick behavior • Adults falling over each other trying to catch him, deal with the havoc he creates [This accounts for most of the humor in Curious George. ]
Curious George w Does things he knows he should not do (Kind-hearted & good intentions, but gets into mischief chaos) • Freud: The same behavior funnier when it violates known taboos (breaking the rules) • Kids identify with George; they’d love to do some of the things George does
Why Introduce Humor into your Educational Practices? w Powerful tool for re-capturing attention in children whose mind prone to wandering • 46% of K teachers say more than half their students lack the self-regulation skills necessary to learn effectively (Rep. of Nat. Center for Early Dev & Learning) • Inability sustain attention key concern • This attn-getting function of H bigger issue for preschoolers than toddlers (esp when toddler learning env’s set up for active exploration)
Why Introduce Humor into your Educational Practices? w Humor supports “engagement” • This term increasingly used in recent years to refer to the process of • Initially getting & then • Sustaining attention & interest in learning materials provided by a teacher
Why Introduce Humor into your Educational Practices? w Sustains a positive learning environment • Learning always enhanced in pos. env. • Humor boost in positive emotion • Keeps spirit of joy & fun associated with learning • Activates dopamine-based reward centers in brain
Why Introduce Humor into your Educational Practices? w Reminder: Your own daily emotional state an important part of sustaining positive learning env. • Children’s laughter at the humor you provide helps you stay positive in midst of challenging behavior of children • Also, remember look for humor in the unexpected funny things ch say or do
Why it’s Important that YOU keep your Sense of Humor w Research shows • ECE emotionally challenging (but also very rewarding) • Emotionally overwhelmed teachers less effective
Why it’s Important that YOU keep your Sense of Humor Head Start teachers increased depression in recent years (2013 study) w Children taught by teachers who emotionally distressed or depressed w • Perform more poorly on academic assessments • Struggle with social skills like cooperation (different 2013 study)
Toddlers ARE able to Distinguish between w Joking and serious intent • Parents & other ch facial & other cues that communicate when joking or pretending (Hoicka & Akhtar 2011, Hoicka & Gattis 2008, Hoicka & Martin 2016) • They use these cues + what they already know to decide joking or pretending or trust for accuracy • They know can’t rely on pretend for “accurate” information (Koenig 2012)
The Funny Literacy Project www. humormonth. com Click on “Funny Literacy” Geared toward Ages 3+ Using humor to help kids enjoy reading w Goal: “To provide incentives for kids to love reading by having them complete activities based on reading humorous books; to encourage kids to embrace their own sense of humor and laughter; to promote positive expressions of humor. ” w
Stage 4: Gender Reversal (New Form of Stage 3 Humor) (3 -5 yrs) w Reflects struggle with gender identity • • What does it mean to be a boy/girl? “Tommy is a girl, Tommy is a girl. ” Calling mom “dad, ” Bobby “Mary, ” etc. Not as common as it used to be.
Pre-Riddle Stage (5 - 6/7 years) (Transitional period) Most char’s of Stage 4 still present, but new interest in riddles. w Q: How many of you have seen children as young as 5 asking riddle questions? Age 4? w Q: How do these riddles differ from the riddles shared by 7 -year-olds? w
Pre-Riddle Stage (5 - 6/7 years) (Transitional period) w KEY: They don’t understand the riddles & jokes they tell. • Q: Why do you think they get interested in riddles before they even understand them? • Knock-Knock. Who’s there? Piece of bread! Want another piece of bread? • Knock-knock. Who’s there? Nobody’s home (laughs).
Pre-Riddle Stage (5 - 6/7 years) (Transitional period) 5 -yr-olds view riddles as a puzzling Q followed by an arbitrary (or silly!) answer w Understand the basic Q & A structure, but don’t see the underlying double meaning w • What did the cat say to the mouse? I’m gonna eat you up! • “Tendentious” humor: K-K. Who’s there? Pee who? Pee-pee in your pants! (ha ha ha)
Pre-Riddle Stage (5 - 6/7 years) (Transitional period) Children can trick you into thinking they “get” riddles. Here’s a way for you to test the child’s understanding yourself. w Research: Why did the man tip-toe past the med. cab? w • He broke a glass & didn’t want to cut his foot • He didn’t want to wake up the sleeping pills
Stage 5: Riddles & Jokes (double meanings) (6/7 - 10/11 years) w KEY: Concrete operational thinking -Piaget • Exciting discovery: same word 2 meanings (You can use this to trick people. ) • Remember: Earlier levels of humor continue; they gradually become less frequent
Stage 5: Riddles & Jokes (double meanings) (6/7 - 10/11 years) w What’s grey, has 4 legs & a trunk? • A mouse on vacation w Why can’t you starve in the desert? • Because of the sand which is there. K-K. Who’s there? Lettuce who? Let us out. . . It’s cold in here. w Order! Order in the court! (More difficult) w • “I’ll have a hamburger & fries, Your Honor. ”
How to Build Children’s Skills at Playing with Double Meanings (from Stumble Bees & Pelephones) w How are gum and a sneeze alike? • They both involve a(n) ____. • 1 st clue: What do you do with gum? • 2 nd clue: Spell what you do when you sneeze. • 3 rd clue: Choo-choo train.
How to Build Children’s Skills at Playing with Double Meanings (from Stumble Bees & Pelephones) w How do skunks say grace before meals? • Let us ______. • 1 st clue: What do many families do just before they eat? • 2 nd clue: Another word for a fine mist. • 3 rd clue: Some people use this fine mist from a can to paint things.
How to Build Children’s Skills at Playing with Double Meanings (from Stumble Bees & Pelephones) w Why did Mr. Timmons wear a seat belt while eating his dinner? • Because he was on a ______ diet. • 1 st clue: With this diet, you try to lose weight fast. • 2 nd clue: What happens when you’re riding a bicycle and you lost control? • 3 rd clue: It rhymes with “smash. ”
Why Do Kids Love Riddles So Much? w Joy in exercising a newly-developed skill • Play & humor activate known pleasure/reward centers in the brain. w Premium placed on knowing the “right answer” in school • Parents & teachers always right answer • Allows child to turn tables & be the one who has knowledge & make adults look stupid
Discovery of the Joke Facade w Child learns can disguise a hostile remark by putting it in context of a joke • “I was only kidding. ” • “What’s the matter, can’t you take a joke? ”
How Humor Benefits Children’s Development (especially from the preschool years onward) Included in Handout
Sustains Joy & Happiness
Sustains Joy & Happiness w Can use humor to joy & happiness in the classroom (remember, positive emotion the key to building resilience) • This generally not an issue at pre-K • Still strong built-in sense of joy & aliveness • But many kids lose this when elem. school w Reward/pleasure centers in the brain • Humor activates these centers
Strengthens Bond with You
Strengthens Bond with You (as well as with parents & other children) w This positive emotional connection important for learning [Remember: Positive emotion RESILIENCE. ] • Even more important as pressures to achieve younger kids w Kids who don’t speak the same language quickly connect socially through play • Same thing happens with shared humor w Shared humor important in families with two working parents assures regular quality time (& shared positive emotion)
Builds Social Skills
Builds Social Skills Practicing important interpersonal skills when sharing humor & laughter w These skills will later be used to w • Gain attention & make friends • Manage conflicts • Persuade others to adopt their point of view w Popularity: Kids generally like others who make them laugh. • Research: Kids who initiate humor more often chosen as playmates
Provides a Tool for Managing Anger & Anxiety
Provides a Tool for Managing Anger & Anxiety w Kids can’t do this on their own yet, but you can use humor to pull them out of upsets • • w Distraction Incompatible emotions Zachary (21 mo): Angry pants on head Helps kids to (eventually) learn to use humor to manage upsets on their own Key component of emotional intelligence • Ability to manage your emotional state
Builds Self Esteem
Builds Self-Esteem w The positive reaction kids get from both peers & adults good feeling about self Easier to feel good about yourself when • Other kids like you • Share a lot of fun with others w Research: Both kids & adults who rated by peers as humorous higher self-esteem
Stimulates Creativity w Helps child see meaningful link between apparently unrelated things (the key to creativity) • High school students: humor training program increased scores on a general creativity test w Creativity now a highly desired quality in the workplace (because of rapid pace of change)
Supports Development of Reading Skills
Supports Development of Reading Skills Most kids love reading; don’t need extra incentive w For kids who difficulty reading or don’t enjoy it, humor sustains the motivation to seek out books (e. g. , kids with dyslexia) w • Between the Lions, Word Girl, etc. • Stumble Bees when at riddle stage
Promotes Learning & Intellectual Development
Supports Learning & Intellectual Development w Connection between play & learning--long estab’d • After 2 nd year, play > increasingly mental + physical • Humor can have a physical component, but most humor is strictly mental w Teacher uses humor to sustain attn/interest • Teacher of the Year Awards (mention often made of teacher having “good sense of humor”)
How Can You Nurture a Child’s Sense of Humor?
Nurturing the Development of Children’s Sense of Humor w Respect each child’s unique humor style • But not hostile or ridiculing humor (older ch. ) Support play behavior w Reinforce child’s attempts at humor w Model positive humor yourself w • Laugh at yourself Explain the harm in destructive humor w Provide humor at child’s cognitive level w
Building Humor into Your Center (Included in Handout)
How to Build More Humor into Your Classroom/Childcare Center w w w Be sure you feel comfortable using humor Build opport’s for humor/fun into your day Cultivate a joking style of int. with child Acquire a good understanding of basic dev. changes in children’s humor Create a humor corner—a place where humor is always encouraged
How to Build More Humor into Your Classroom/Childcare Center Ideas for the Humor Corner w Stock it with books with funny pictures • Use these as a starting point for getting kids to draw their own silly/funny pictures Read funny books: kids act out funny parts w Make up a funny story w • Adult starts & kids continue by adding funny things that happen next
How to Build More Humor into Your Classroom/Childcare Center Ideas for the Humor Corner Play “Mad Libs” (5 and older) w Make up silly rhymes w Animal pretend conversation between two animals w Meet with a colleague and come up with your own ideas for your humor corner w