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Showing posts from August, 2015

Forgive Me If I Stare

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Tomorrow, my baby goes to college.  It's so hard to believe.  
When my older son went to college, it was a milestone. My family started a new chapter of children spending most of the year elsewhere.  It felt like part of a piece of my life puzzle was missing but we reveled in his successes.  He is now a college graduate with a full time job and a grown up life.  We launched one.
Now, it's my younger son's turn to do what we have spent 18 years teaching him to do - be independent and find his life.  There's something different about sending him to college.  He has pointed out a few times that this time, my husband and I are really empty nesters.  Though his older brother is living here, he is an adult who is barely here and planning his final move out.  I will come home from work and no one will need anything from me.  There will be such quiet.
My mother likes to say that it is as it should be and for that, we have to be so grateful.  I know she is right.  When he was …

Trust is Built in the Quiet Moments

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Trust is taught and built when you least expect it.  It isn’t in the large, loud, dramatic moments.  It happens in the quiet, everyday-ness of life.  It is taught through demonstration and not by lectures, never by punishment. 
Show your children trust by keeping their private lives private.  Ask their permission before posting on social media and don’t post if they don’t give their permission.  Don’t talk about their every misstep with all of your friends and relatives.  It is ironic that adults wouldn’t want their loved ones to call the neighbors every time they made a mistake, but we do that to children.  If you wouldn’t want your children to tell their peers when you misbehave, don’t do it to them.
When your children as a question, tell them the truth.  They won’t ask until they are ready to hear the answer.  They will ask about the tooth fairy, Santa and other childhood stories when they want to know.  If you have built a good relationship, they may ask you about sexuality, dri…

36,526 Words and Counting: A Lesson in Understanding When Children Feel Overwhelmed

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Last April, I was speaking in New York City when I received an email from an editor of a New York publishing house asking if I ever considered writing a book based on my talks.  I had played with the idea but never imagined that I would be approached.  I imagined trying to get someone to buy it or self-publishing, both of which felt too daunting so I hadn’t written a manuscript yet.  I was not about to let this golden opportunity pass so I entered the process of working with the editor to write a book proposal for her board.  Much to my amazement, they approved and offered me a contract.  Thus began my lesson in what it must feel like to be one of our overwhelmed students.
After discussions with my editor, I learned that a typical length for non-fiction books is 50,000-70,000 words.  My book is a guide for educators about appropriate expectations for preschoolers.  I had no clue how many words were in my head about that but who am I to argue with typical?  I had my outline from the a…

When You Look At Your Children, What Do You See?

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It’s a busy, hectic world.  Everyone is running here and there as they try to keep up with the demands of work, marriage, parenting and other responsibilities.  We run home, make dinner and ensure homework gets done between dance or sports or other lessons and appointments.  Everyone is in the same frenzy – adults with their responsibilities and our children with theirs.  It is easy to forget to take a moment to stop and really look at our children. 
Take a moment and look at your children.  What do you see?
Look at your children.  They are being the best them they can be.  They may be struggling.  They make mistakes.  They are the best they can be at this moment.
Look at your children.  They seek your attention because it is part of what they need from you.  They need clothes, food, shoes and your undivided attention.  They need you to smile at them so they know you see them amid the busy-ness.  They need to feel the connection to the most important people in their world.
Look at y…

Acceptance: A Course Outline for Your PreK thru 12th Graders (and Adults – It’s Never Too Late)

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I wish that school curriculum included the topic of acceptance.  Each year, children would have to learn literacy skills, math, science, physical education, social studies, art, music and acceptance.  The curriculum would spiral – be taught every year by starting with what they know and adding to their knowledge.  Very young children are egocentric so it could start with them as they learn self-acceptance and then spiral out each year to include more of the world.  Realistically, schools are not going to jump on the idea so parents need to consider how acceptance can be part of at-home learning.  Here is a suggested outline for teaching your children about acceptance:
PreK thru 2nd Grade – Self-Acceptance Students would learn that each one of them is capable by being allowed to experiment without critique or criticism.  They would be praised for their efforts and not constantly corrected.  They would be told that they should be so proud of who they are and what they do.
3rd Grade thru …

Understanding Teaching as a Skill Set: Written by a School Director, Teacher, Parent and Perpetual Student

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The ability to teach well is a skill set.  Not everyone with knowledge of a topic can teach it.  As a certified teacher who jumped through what felt like the flaming hoops of course work, field work, a national teacher’s exam and still happily continues to get my continuing education hours every year, I am offended by the notion that anyone can do what I do.  I have spent years studying, learning, reflecting and observing to hone my craft.
Teaching is a year-long, more-than-a-full-time-job job.  We spend all year and many hours outside of our workplaces planning and preparing.  More than that, more than the hours that you can count on a clock, is the gravity of our work and how it stays always in the forefront of our minds.  Teachers worry about your children.  We think long and hard about how to help students learn more, find their voice, succeed both academically and socially. Teaching is not a job that can be left at work.  We have the humbling task of shaping every child’s experi…

It’s All An Act: Teaching Children That Social Media Isn’t An Accurate Depiction of Anyone

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Today’s children are growing up in a world where social media is at the center.  Adults, teens and even younger children are watching everyone else.  Pictures are posted of happy families at the beach or at the mountains on vacation.  Scroll through your apps and a majority of people look so happy.  Many make social media declarations about how lucky they are and how life has been good to them. 
The everydayness of life is missing from social media.  Every life is multi-dimensional.  Children need to know that social media is all an act.  It doesn’t depict the whole truth.  They are not less than anyone else because they are not always smiling.  Their lives are not worse than everyone smiling at them on social media.
Our society has always over valued happiness above other emotions.  All emotions come and go.  Every emotion is part of the human experience.  We should enjoy happiness when we have it, of course.  We need to understand that it is a feeling just like sadness and fear a…

“My Kids Aren’t Listening!” Changing Your Approach Can Change Everything

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It is so frustrating to talk and talk and the toys are still on the floor, the shoes are still in the living room and the bedroom could probably be declared a disaster area.  There are times when every parent wonders if we are speaking at a pitch only dogs can hear.  When repeating ourselves seems useless, we try more often and louder.  At some point, we have to admit that we have become background noise.  It’s true.  No one is listening anymore.  The only thing left to do is to consider our approach.  What can you do differently? Try conversing instead of barking.  At a time when your child is most receptive – for some it is in the morning and for others just before bed – have a calm discussion.   Sit at eye level with your child and smile.  Explain that you need to figure out together when tasks can be completed.Be empathetic.  We need to let our children know that we understand that cleaning up so we can find the floor isn’t the most fun activity in the world.  Share that you didn’…