Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Lies They Tell #1

You are going to hear all kinds of lies throughout your parenting journey. The people telling you these lies are not liars per se. They are usually well intentioned human beings who genuinely have the best interest of your child in mind, but they lie just the same. They sometimes don't even realize they are lying. They are simply passing along lies that they were told or heard at a conference or in-service. Among the most blatant and common lie is:

"If your child has not mastered reading by the time he is (insert random age here) he will be behind his peers and will probably never catch up!"

Don't you believe this for one minute! You are a good parent and deep down in your heart you know better. You know that children develop at different rates. That they have different interests and different skills at any age. If you child is not reading by age 5, 6 or 9, but you are reading to them, exposing them to books, exposing them to language, your child will read at some point barring any severe retardation and even then I would be hesitant to say that the child will never read. Blind children, deaf children, children with down syndrome learn to read, why wouldn't your child? Helen Keller learn to read. Frederick Douglass was born a slave and he, like many slaves, learned to read. My father's cousin was illiterate until the age of 10, he went on to become one of the top orthopedic surgeons in his country. My own father arrived in the United States at the age of 39, with a sixth grade education. He learned to read, write and speak English. These are just a few examples, but history is rife with many more. So if your child can't read at six, don't fret and don't, not for one minute, believe that your child will never catch up, of course he will.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Quality vs Quantity

What exactly is quality time? Twenty years ago when I started out in child care "quality time" were the buzz words in the industry. We told parents that as long as they spent "quality time" with their kids, everything would be okay. Better to spend a half hour completely focused then all day taking care of other things while your child tagged along virtually ignored. I bought it! I actually believed it was true. I don't believe it anymore. Let me explain.

Quality time is certainly very important especially if you are a working parent. This much is true. However quantity is also very important. Even when we are not completely focused on our children, they are learning from us and this can be a very good thing. Parents understand the importance of getting things like the dishes or laundry done and let's be honest, sitting for hours on the floor with your toddler can get very boring. No need to feel guilty if you are not entirely engaged 100% of the time. As we go about our day, our children are learning and emulating us. If you are doing dishes, give your little ones the Tupperware in a bin and let them wipe them down. Water is completely optional. If you are baking, give you child a small piece of dough and let them knead along with you. You need not be "engaged," you don't even need to talk, just being together teaches your child about life. He learns to entertain himself, he learns what it takes to run a home. He learns that mom or dad have responsibilities beyond them. (although, honestly that last one doesn't really kick in until he is way, way older.)

Yes, you should spend time focused on your child, give them your attention, your smiles, hugs and kisses. You should sit with them at meal times and teach them that there is reverence in nourishment. These things are all important. Quantity of time is important for your child to learn what his family values. He will learn what is important, what needs to get done. Years ago my then 5 year old followed me into the bathroom and as I got down on my knees to scrub the tub he said, "You actually have to clean the bath tub?" It made me laugh, but that is how they learn, but watching us and modeling what we do. So today when people tell me that they spend a lot of "quality" time with their kids, I congratulate them. I remind however that quantity is also important.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Teaching Math

If I had a nickel for every time I said, "I hate math!" I'd be a very rich woman indeed. In fact I finally, FINALLY got over my fear of math when I was shopping with my husband and we came across a %off sign. Something we wanted to buy was $69.99 and it was 25% off that price. My husband said, "So it's...(and he paused to figure it out)" I said it's about $53.00. He looked rather surprised and asked how I had figured it out so fast. So a said, "I rounded up to 70 and then did half, which is 35 and then half again which is 17, 70 minus 17 is 53." He laughed, "No, I know how, but how did you do it so fast?" I shrugged, because honestly I didn't know. I was struck because I always thought I was awful at math and percentages is math and I just realized that I was good at percentages! Slowly I started to realized that I was good at math and that in fact I didn't hate it. Math was rather fun.

When I started teaching my own kids, I never allowed them to say that they hated math or the math was hard. When ever they expressed frustration with math, I would tell them that they just needed to be more familiar with whatever it was that we were working on. Now when they come to something challenging they actually dive in and try to see it in as many different ways as they can until they feel comfortable.

So how do we teach very young kids math? I don't think we should, at least not in a traditional work sheet type of way. For young kids I love rocks. You can get a nice bag of big rocks at Dollar Tree. They love sorting the rocks. I let them become familiar with whatever manipulative (parents and teachers love that word...hehe) we are working with. So I'll set out the rocks and let them touch them, stack them, count them, play with them in anyway they choose for at least two days. Then I bring out the egg carton. Each space labeled with numbers 1 through 12. I ask them to filled each space with the "amount" of rocks that the number indicates. Language in math is important. I use the word "amount" not the word "number." A number is after all abstract. Amount is tangible. Much laughing ensues after about filling the fifth slot. "The rocks are too big!" "They don't fit." I love this next step where the kids problem solve. Very few have no concept of what to do. (It usually comes after a while or with a little prodding) Most kids will say they need smaller rocks or a bigger container.

The best way to teach math is to let children count, add, subtract, divide and multiply with their hands, through touching, sorting, filling, cutting, emptying and grouping. This makes math very real. As they get older they won't be intimidated by long division because they been doing just that!

I prefer to let children do all of the above with rocks, twigs, dolls, dishes, hot wheels etc. The more they are allowed to relate math to their surroundings the easier it will be for them to identify how math is used everyday. Baking and cooking are also excellent tools to teach math, as are knitting or crocheting. Keep it simple, keep it real.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are You Ready?

Tell me your story. How did you become a parent? Did things go as planned? Are you comfortable in your role as a parent? Are you overwhelmed? Do you think you could feel better, have more fun, enjoy your children and your life, but don't quite know where to start?

Are you ready? Are you ready to make 2012 the year where you start living your life with purpose and joy? Are you ready to be the parent you know you can be? Are you ready to face the challenges with vigor and anticipation?

I'm offering five (5) one on one coaching sessions at no cost to the first five (5) parents who contact me. The coaching will take place the month of February with one session a week. Each session will be catered to the individual family situation. Each week will focus on a specific topic. By the end of the five sessions you will be able to notice a wonderful difference in the atmosphere in your home, in your attitude towards your children, and you will notice a difference in your children's attitudes.

Week 1 -- Identify the parent you want to be.

  • Work to set manageable goals for you, your home and your children.

Week 2 -- Declutter your environment.

  • We will work to declutter your physical environment and your also to declutter your mind of ideas or goals that are no longer working for you.

Week 3 -- Start your Action Plan

  • Implement the goals and expectations from you first week. Learn how to bring your kids on board without a struggle.

Week 4 -- Review, Adjust and Thrive

  • Look at what's working, what needs to be changed or challenged. Continue to grow into your role as a parent.

Week 5 -- Plan for Change

  • Your child will not be a toddler or adolescent forever. Plan and guide yourself into the adult relationship you'll have with your child someday. (This is my favorite and most exciting class)

The coaching will be one on one. NO ONE else will be listening in on our conversation so it's completely confidential. It can take place in person, if you are local or via a teleconference if you are from out of town. These sessions are limited to only five parents so don't delay in scheduling yours today. Go to the Contact Me page on this blog to get started. I'm so excited! I hope your ready!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The New Year has begun to slowly unfold before us. We are thrilled to be providing children a place to learn, to explore and to enjoy their many varied talents. As we plan for 2012, we want to include parents into the mix. We never stop learning, exploring or enjoying. It's not child's play, it's life. This year we will be launching classes for adults. You'll be learning to be a role model (or perhaps recognizing that you already are), you'll be learning to parent and/or mentor consciously and with purpose.

Stay tuned for more information soon. In the meantime, we wish you much love and prosperity in 2012.