How to make preschoolers independent learners

There is considerable scope of developing independent learning abilities in children from three to five years of age. Teachers and parents can both encourage the growth of self-directed learning in kids.

By Pankaj Kumar Singh

Independent learning is a practice through which kids can develop an inquisitive mind. This is an effortless exercise that parents and teachers can encourage kids to get involved in from a young age. It’s imperative for kids to develop independent learning skills in preschool to increase brain stimulation. Motivating kids to become independent learners has proven to be impactful and enhances the growth and development of the child.

There are several useful techniques developing and increasing self-learning in kids.

Here are some tips for teachers and mentors:

Co-operative Working

Preschools must be fully equipped with training and activity facilities, where children are encouraged to participate in team exercises. There must be a range of innovative techniques to involve children in collaborative activities that requires them to articulate their own understanding.

Self-explanations

It’s an instructional practice where the children are told a story or narrated an activity and they are then supposed to give detailed explanations of the narration with a reasoning of their own.

Reciprocal Teaching

It’s a kind of structured procedure, which involves teachers teaching a particular task to children, who are then asked to teach the activity to their peers.

Self-assessment

This covers a range of instructional ideas involving children’s evaluation and analysis of their   learning. Like, kids deciding the level of difficulty they would like to undertake for a particular task, and selecting their best work for reflective tasks.

Teachers should give an opportunity to kids to make their own decisions. Sometimes, when an adult becomes involved in an activity, the children are more inclined to deny the task; it could be lack of confidence or just to question the authority. However, if the children work in a group, they are less likely to question their abilities, and often mimic other children. Kids learn better and faster by watching one another which is a huge benefit for them as well as their parents.

According to a study, there is a considerable scope of developing independent learning abilities in children from three to five years of age. Apart from teachers, parents are also equally responsible for the growth of self-directed learning in their kids.

Here are some tips for parents:

Encourage effort over success

Studies have shown that children who are praised for their efforts after completing a task are more likely to put extra effort into future difficult situations. Parents must praise success of their kids because not doing so can lead to a chance of failure in the future. Children who are commended for their work are encouraged to continue putting forth effort into new and increasingly difficult challenges.

Connect play time to learning experiences

Nurture a child’s interest by connecting what they enjoy playing with a learning exercise. If a child likes building, help them expand on their interest by introducing them to building blocks. If a child likes sculpting with clay, help them explore structures that animals sculpt in nature.

Create Opportunities for Exploration

Creating opportunities for kids to learn can be an easy method to develop self-directed learning. For example, leaving a paper and coloured pencils within easy reach for children to use when inspiration strikes.

Allow for Free Play

It’s important that children learn while playing. So, parents should allow time for uninterrupted, unstructured play, where children can fully use and explore their imagination and creativity.

Kids are capable of managing a number of things on their own. Parents/teachers should give them time and have patience to see the development and not take over the task before they ask for help. Kids love to get involved in meaningful work. They just need someone to be available for them; through these play-and-learn techniques, children can become independent learners.

(The writer is Managing Director, Jalsa Ventures Private Limited, Cambridge Montessori Pre-School.)

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Breakfast, the most important meal for children

Research has found that children who appear for class tests after skipping breakfast tend to make more errors, don’t respond as fast and have a slower memory recall.

By Priyam Naik

Time and again, it has been reinforced that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast gives the body the refueling it needs for the day ahead after going without food for eight to ten hours during the night. The primary fuel for the brain is glucose and it is dependent upon a constant supply in the blood stream. On waking up in the morning, in effect, you’ve had an overnight fast, and thus, eating breakfast boosts the levels of glucose in the blood circulation. This especially holds true for children. Without breakfast, our bodies cease to get the jumpstart they require to operate at their fullest potential throughout the day.

A hungry child is low on energy

At school, a hungry child can often lose concentration in class, have no energy for playtime and when famished, snack on unhealthy foods, such as chips or biscuits. A wholesome and healthy breakfast every day is thus, the best way to prevent the same. It also helps with inculcating good and long-term eating habits in all infants. Children who eat a sumptuous breakfast are more likely to meet vitamin and mineral requirements than those who skip breakfast. They also tend to consume more vitamin C, calcium, folic acid, and fibre. When you skip breakfast, you are missing out on your morning dose of essential nutrients. Children who eat breakfast regularly, thus, have more energy, exhibit less aggressive behaviour, and display a better attitude towards school.

The role of breakfast in an improved performance at school has been discussed and debated for decades. Research has found that children who appear for class tests after skipping breakfast tend to make more errors, don’t respond as fast and have a slower memory recall. Studies also suggest that the functioning of the brain is sensitive to short-term variations in nutrient availability. A small fast may impose greater stress on young children, as opposed to adults. Breakfast also plays an important role in cognitive functions and establishing an eating pattern comprising small regular meals, which is the key to effectively maintaining one’s weight.

Along with timing, what one eats is also important. Choose breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fibre and protein, and low in added sugar. Serve a balanced breakfast to young ones that includes some carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Carbohydrates make for a good and immediate source of energy for the body,while energy from proteins tends to kick in after the carbs are used up. Fibre helps provide a feeling of fullness and therefore, discourages overeating.

Useful ideas for a healthy breakfast:

Vegetable upma, vegetable poha, vermicelli upma (made with whole wheat vermicelli), and idli / dosa with sambhar and chutney.

Bhakri / Thepla / Chapatis with vegetables.

Porridges like ragi, rawa, oats made with milk. These are easy to make, are less time consuming, and light too.

Multigrain bread with cheese / butter are other convenient options with either an egg preparation, or a vegetable omlette with whole wheat bread.

Cereals served with low fat milk are also healthy breakfast options with some fruits and nuts on the side.

With breakfast, it is healthier to have a good energy drink, besides water such as low fat milk or fruit juice low in sugar, which can also be replaced with fruits. One of the reasons for childhood obesity is also attritbuted to the skipping of meals. If a child misses breakfast, he tends to eat more during his next meal and all of it may not necessarily be healthy.

In spite of all the compelling information on the benefits of breakfast, why does one out of eight school children start the day without eating breakfast? Some are not encouraged to do so by their parents, while some commonly argue about the lack of time, absence of hunger and distaste for breakfast foods. No matter what the barrier may be, parents can and should find a way to overcome them. They must set a good example for their children by consuming a sumptuous breakfast themselves. Children tend to imitate the behaviour of adults, so if they don’t see their parents eating well, they are likely to deprive themselves of the required nutrition.

To sum up, The Academy of Nutrition has found that children who eat a healthy, and well-balanced breakfast have several advantages.

Benefits of the breakfast habit for kids:

Meet the daily nutrient requirements.

Concentrate better.

Have better problem solving skills.

Have better hand – eye coordination.

Stay alert.

Be more creative.

Have a better attendance at school.

Be more physically active.

It can seem challenging to manage breakfast with one’s hectic schedule, but setting the alarm 15 minutes prior for the child can aid in the parent and childliving a long and healthy life.

(The writer is Officer Dietetics, Saifee Hospital.)

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Honey may protect children who swallow button batteries

(HealthDay)—Ingesting honey after swallowing a button battery may reduce injuries and improve outcomes in children, according to research published recently in Laryngoscope.

Rachel R. Anfang, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues sought to identify novel mitigation strategies for the morbidity and mortality associated with caustic esophageal injury in infants and children resulting from the ingestion of button batteries. Apple juice, orange juice, Gatorade, POWERADE, pure honey, pure maple syrup, and Carafate were tested on cadaveric porcine esophagus, with the most promising in vitro options tested against a saline control in live piglets.

The researchers found that honey and Carafate demonstrated to a significant degree the most protective effects in vitro and in vivo. Both substances neutralized the tissue pH increase, creating more localized and superficial injuries. In vivo there was a decrease in both full-thickness injury and outward extension of injury in the deep muscle beyond surface ulcer margins (P < 0.05).

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The Top 10 US Road Trip Destinations For Families

The Top 10 US Road Trip Destinations For Families

Families looking to create lasting memories and take on new adventures together should consider planning a road trip in the States. Whether it’s driving to a new destination just a few hours from home or going on a week-long getaway on the other side of the country, road trips can be affordable and fun for every member of the family. But the best part? You feel free to make your own schedule as you go, and you always wind up having a bit of old-school fun in the form of car games like I Spy and 20 Questions. From underrated small towns to iconic US cities, here are our top 10 road trip destinations for families. See you on the road!












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Items to Keep Your Kids Healthy During the Back-to-School Germfest

Back-to-school is, among many things, a complete and utter germfest. So many tiny hands that don’t always get washed. Countless drippy little noses. And of course, the coughing, sneezing and wiping. Gross. Sure, you can remind your kids to wash, remind them to sneeze into their elbows, but let’s be honest; you’re not there at school with them, and they can barely remember what they had for breakfast, let alone remember to cover their mouths every time they cough. But if the thought of those germs entering your home makes you start buying stock in bleach, hold your horses. 

We know parents don’t have time for their kids to be sick. We get it. But don’t start going hog wild with the harsh cleaning chemicals; you know that shit is toxic, right? 

Just for you, we’ve gathered up the best items to keep your kids healthy during the war on the immune system known as back-to-school. So take a breath, put down the industrial-strength hand sanitizer, and relax, because we’ve got you covered. 

No really, put it down. We’ll wait.

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Crane Train Humidifier


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Crane Train Humidifier

2
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Color-Changing Soap


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Color-Changing Soap

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Cleanwell Botanical Hand Sanitizer Spray


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Cleanwell Botanical Hand Sanitizer Spray

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Olly Kids Mighty Immunity Gummies


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Olly Kids Mighty Immunity Gummies

5
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Sneeve


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Sneeve

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Pura Water Bottle


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Pura Water Bottle

7
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Toddler Antimicrobial Pillow & Pillowcase


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Toddler Antimicrobial Pillow & Pillowcase

8
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Honest Wipes


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Honest Wipes

9
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Puffs Plus Lotion To Go Packs


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Puffs Plus Lotion To Go Packs

10
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Emergen-C Kidz


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Emergen-C Kidz

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Honest Bubble Bath in Lavender Scent


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Honest Bubble Bath in Lavender Scent

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BonnBonn Antimicrobial Blankie


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BonnBonn Antimicrobial Blankie

13
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Sanitizing Wipes for Your Cell Phone


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Sanitizing Wipes for Your Cell Phone

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Healthy Hero Essential Oils for Kids


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Healthy Hero Essential Oils for Kids

15
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Smarty Pants Kids Gummy Vitamins


15/15
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Smarty Pants Kids Gummy Vitamins

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Eye examination can help detect abuse in children

(HealthDay)—Eye examination is helpful for detecting abnormalities that could indicate abuse in children, according to a clinical report published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Cindy W. Christian, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues address the importance of eye examination in the evaluation of child abuse.

The researchers note that child abuse can cause injury to any part of the eye, with retinal hemorrhages (RHs) the most common manifestations in infants and young child with abusive head trauma (AHT). RHs are also found in other conditions, and distinguishing the number, type, location, and pattern of RHs is important in assessing a differential diagnosis. In cases of physical abuse or AHT, eye trauma can be seen and may prompt referral for ophthalmologic assessment. In the differential diagnosis of pediatric eye trauma, physicians have a responsibility to consider abuse. A thorough examination by an ophthalmologist is required after identification and documentation of inflicted ocular trauma; the examination should include indirect ophthalmoscopy, most optimally through a dilated pupil, especially for assessment of possible RHs.

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Study finds Tdap vaccination for pregnant women does not increase risk of autism

A Kaiser Permanente study of more than 80,000 children born over a 4-year period showed that the prenatal Tdap vaccination (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) was not associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children. The study was published today in Pediatrics.

“Infants are at the highest risk of hospitalization and death among any population subgroup after contracting a pertussis infection, a highly contagious respiratory disease also known as the whooping cough,” said Tracy A. Becerra-Culqui, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research fellow with Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research & Evaluation and lead author of the study. “With waning immunity against pertussis in the United States, it has become very important for pregnant women to be immunized against pertussis. It is an immunity they pass on to their unborn baby.”

“Pregnant women can be reassured by this study that there is no indication of an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children after being exposed prenatally to the Tdap vaccine,” Becerra-Culqui added.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides guidance on the use of vaccines for the United States, recommends pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine to prevent pertussis infection, but some women still hesitate.

Kaiser Permanente researchers were able to comprehensively study the hypothesized link between Tdap and autism because of the organization’s large and diverse patient population. In Southern California, Kaiser Permanente provides health care in 15 hospitals and about 220 medical offices to approximately 4.4 million members who are broadly representative of the area’s population. Recommended vaccinations are free to all members.

This retrospective cohort study looked at the autism diagnosis for children born at Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2014.

The study included 81,993 children and found that:

  • Prenatal Tdap vaccination coverage ranged from 26 percent for the 2012 birth cohort to 79 percent for the 2014 birth cohort.
  • The autism spectrum disorder incidence rate in children was 1.5 percent in the maternal Tdap vaccinated group and 1.8 percent in the maternal unvaccinated group, comparable to autism rates in the United States (1.7 percent).
  • Analyses of the data extracted from electronic health records showed that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with increased autism spectrum disorder risk in children.
  • Results were consistent across study birth years and among first-born children.

“The link between vaccination and development of autism has been refuted by many rigorous scientific investigations. Unfortunately, the misconceptions still generate concerns,” said the paper’s senior author, Hung Fu Tseng, Ph.D., of the Department of Research & Evaluation.

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Surya Grahan or Solar Eclipse 2018: Myths and legends

Cultures across the world believe in various myths and legends about the solar eclipse.

Surya Grahan or Solar Eclipse 2018: A partial solar eclipse will be taking place tomorrow, August 11, 2018, during the early hours of the day. The partial solar eclipse will last for three hours and will be visible from regions across the Northern Hemisphere. It will reportedly be seen over the North Pole and parts of Siberia.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the Sun is partially or fully obscured by the Moon, leading to partial or total solar eclipse respectively. The phenomenon occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are nearly aligned in a straight line during the new Moon phase.

Stories surrounding the solar eclipse have fascinated one and all for ages. We take you through some of the legends and myths about the phenomenon.

Legends about the solar eclipse

As per Hindu mythology, a demon named Rahu and his detached body known as Ketu catch up with the Sun and Moon from time to time and swallow them. The demon started chasing the Sun and Moon after Lord Vishnu cut off his head before the elixir, meant for the gods, could slide past his throat. During the time of samudra manthan, when the elixir of immortality was being churned out of the ocean, Rahu disguised himself and sat between the Sun and the Moon to drink it. The Sun and the Moon were the ones who complained to Vishnu about the disguise. The incident, however, doesn’t last long as Rahu has no hands to grab these celestial gods.

People in Vietnam believe that a solar eclipse is caused by a giant frog devouring the sun.

In ancient times, Greeks believed that a solar eclipse was a sign of angry gods and that it heralded disaster and destruction.

The Batammaliba people from northeast Togo, in Africa, believe that the Sun and Moon fight during an eclipse.

Myths and superstitions about the solar eclipse

Remember, we’re strictly talking myths here!

The solar eclipse is considered to be inauspicious since the Sun is overshadowed, making it an omen for all things evil.

A lot of people engage in religious activities like praying and chanting to protect themselves from evil forces.

Some people also take a bath to purify themselves and change into fresh clothes. Taking a dip in river Ganga or sprinkling its water is believed to wash away the effect of evil forces.

Cooking is strictly prohibited during a solar ecplise, due to a lack of the Sun’s rays thereby leading to more bacteria and germs in the food. Leftovers, on the other hand, need to be finished before the period of solar eclipse. So, a lot of believers avoid cooking and eating.

The solar eclipse is also believed to be harmful for pregnant women. They are considered to be more susceptible to evil forces. In some parts of India, they are reportedly not allowed to sit with their legs crossed.

People avoid sleeping, sexual intercourse, urination and defecation during a solar eclipse. It is believed that people who sleep during a solar eclipse can contract illnesses. Urinating ends in poverty and bad luck, defecation can lead to the birth of worms while people indulging in intercourse can be reborn as pigs.

In some cultures, it is also believed that one cannot look at a solar eclipse. A person looking at the Sun during a solar eclipse is believed to go out of balance with the universe, leading to problems later in life.

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How to Establish Great Homework Habits This School Year

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Whether you just tolerate it or downright loathe it, homework is an unavoidable part of life for most school-age kids. Which means it’s an unavoidable part of family life too because chances are your kid needs a little help to establish good homework habits in the first place. That’s where you come in, oh, wise parent.

Here are some expert tips to help you and your kid get into a successful — and achievable — homework routine this school year. 

More: The Only Back-to-School Clothes Checklist You Need This Year

Make a schedule that suits your kid

"Schedule after-school time to set your child up for success," Dr. Pam Roggeman, academic dean in the College of Education at University of Phoenix and former teacher, tells SheKnows. If your child needs some downtime after school, make sure you incorporate that into the schedule. It might go something like: snack, play, homework. On the other hand, your child might only have a finite amount of motivation, in which case a better schedule could be: homework while snacking, play, family time. "The key is to stick to your schedule," says Roggeman. "When your child knows that you will stick to your schedule and playtime will take place at some point, you can alleviate the battles." 

Follow your gut

Nobody knows your child better than you do, so when it comes to homework, use that insider knowledge, advises Roggeman. You might want to believe your kid when they look at you with wide eyes and claim, "I don’t have any homework," but you’ll know whether they’re actually saying, "I want to be doing anything other than homework right now." Don’t let it slide just because you don’t have the energy to fight about it. 

Use positive reinforcement

Children need positive reinforcement the same way adults do, writer and former therapist Emily Mendez tells SheKnows. Tie in a positive reinforcement to completion of homework assignments. Mendez suggests a fun activity, video game or TV time at the end of homework time. "Schedule the positive reinforcement for as soon after completion of homework as possible," she says.

More: 6 Reasons After-School Activities Are Worth the Effort

Ask for help

I know I’m not the only parent who regularly has to google the answer to my 10-year-old’s algebra homework. "Most parents do not use calculus, algebra and geometry on a daily basis," says Roggeman. "It’s hard to admit, but our kids learn some pretty sophisticated concepts that may have left our brains." If you know someone — a neighbor, relative or college student who’s strong in any of these areas or any other area you need help with, ask! Also, many teachers are happy to tutor kids for extra money. It’s money well spent if it helps your kid get ahead in school. Your community might have a "homework hotline" through the local library. "Help your kid utilize these resources," says Mendez. "This will teach problem-solving skills, which is critical for developing good study and work habits."

Keep perspective

"Homework should enrich, not deflate, your child’s self-efficacy," says Roggeman. She has another favorite saying to remind yourself of the next time you’re facing a homework battle: "There are lots of things to cry about in this world, but homework isn’t one of them." If your child puts a lot of effort into their homework, be prepared to leave it at that — even if you think there’s room for improvement. "No teacher wants a homework assignment to stress out and frustrate your child," says Roggeman. "Use a point of frustration as a sign to move on." And when it’s age-appropriate to do so, teach your child to reach out to their teacher if they need their input. "Sitting in the driver’s seat for learning and getting help is a skill our kids will need for the rest of their lives," says Roggeman. 

Create a homework space

If your child has a designated homework space — whether that’s a desk, a corner of a room or even an entire room — they’re more likely to get their head down and do the work. Of course, you have to make sure the space is always available for homework (fighting for space at the kitchen table isn’t conducive to a positive homework experience) and has all the equipment your child needs. As they get older, they can be responsible for this themselves. Encourage your child to keep their school bag in this space, provide a comfortable, supportive chair and have a constant supply of sharpened pencils, paper and erasers. 

Homework is a drag for most of us, but resistance is futile. (I’ve learned from experience that the more I complain about the amount of homework my kids get, the less enthusiastic they are about actually getting it done — which is a major lose-lose situation.) 

Try to be excited about learning and your kid will share that excitement, says Roggeman. "Our kids need to know that we want to share in the interests, accomplishments and journeys they experience during their school career."

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Kelly Clarkson's 'Very Ballsy' Toddler Says She Wants to Kiss This Much Older Celeb

We all remember our first celebrity crush, right? Well, perhaps I was a late bloomer, because I didn’t seriously daydream about a celeb until I was in seventh grade. (The crush in question was Freddie Prinze Jr. of She’s All That fame for those of you following at home.)

At a mere 4 years old, however, Kelly Clarkson’s daughter, River Rose, already has her eye on a certain celebrity (who is just a little too old for her): Coldplay singer Chris Martin. 

River recently declared her love for Martin, and Clarkson was kind enough to catch the exchange on camera and share it with her Twitter followers (mommmm!). 

"I like him, and he’s beautiful," River explained to her mom in the video, adding, "I like his song, and I want to kiss him." Kids. They say the darndest (and cutest) things.

Although Clarkson laughingly explained to River that no, she cannot kiss Martin, she did prompt River to sing a few lines from Coldplay’s hit song "Yellow" — and the 4-year-old totally rose to the occasion. 

In my humble opinion, River’s pronunciation of "yellow" as "lello" is the highlight of this entire story. I’m not telling Martin what to do or anything, but mixing things up and replacing "yellow" with "lello" during his next performance seems like an excellent idea to me. 

More: Kelly Clarkson’s Daughter Was Bullied, & Mom’s Not Having It

"So my daughter wants to marry Chris Martin and is obsessed with his song Yellow," Clarkson captioned the post. "She wants to marry the boy in the video, which I have informed her he is not a boy anymore and has kids older than her but she will have none of it, she is determined. #RiverRose #Yellow #Lello." 

We wish Clarkson the best as she attempts to explain to River Rose why a relationship with Martin wouldn’t work out. "She does not heed advice very well," the Clarkson told People magazine in April. "She’s just very ballsy, which is awesome." 

Although River’s Martin dream may not be destined to work out, we do love to see a little girl who knows what she wants — and a mother who encourages her daughter to be ballsy. 

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