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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Social/Emotional Development: The Foundation for School Success



     Early Childhood Education  is based on children learning about themselves and what they can do. The main focus of this form of education is the development of social emotional development.When people hear the term social/emotional development they instinctively think about how a child gets along with others. However, that is leaps ahead in the process. First children must be able to focus on themselves. The one thing most people fail to understand about the main purpose of early education. That purpose is all about the in many ways  a child is learning about themselves what they can do. This is the crux of social emotional development.

One thing to keep in mind as we talk about children three and younger is the fact hat they are focused on learning about themselves and what they can do in the field of early education this is called egocentric. Do not mistake this for selfishness. Children this age are not developmentally able to separate themselves from what is in their hands. Asking a young child to share a toy is the same as asking them to take of their hand and give it away. They just are not ready for that sharing is a developmental stage most appropriate for children three and older.

What children learn about themselves from Birth to Age 3:

  •         Recognizing independent person
  •         Recognize they have emotions  
  •         Label those emotions
  •         Listen to and follow one direction
  •        Learn to express them appropriately
  •         Recognize their own things
  •      Develop the ability to put those things where they belong   
  •         Hear, listen to and follow two  directions
  

In addition, children learn to sit and pay attention from 2 minutes at 18 months to around 10-12 minutes at age three.Once children have mastered these skills they move on to being able to interact with others. These skills look similar but, are different in that children associate what they have learned about themselves and begin to apply it to others. They make the mistake of thinking others are just like them and it take a while before they learn others have their own way of doing things.

Learning to interact with others age 3-5:
   

  • Recognize others have feelings
  • Begin to learn to share
  •  Learn to negotiate in cooperative play
  • Learn to share feelings in a verbal manner
  • Listen to and follow three step directions
  • Start bargaining to make friends
  • Show signs of frustration in the give and take of bargaining
  • Listen and follow three or more directions when given
  • Become responsible to put things away where they belong
  • Sit and listen for up to 20 minutes by age 5
  • Learn how to listen to another's feeling and share theirs
  • Share freely




    Only after children begin to master these abilities are they ready for elementary school. These are the building blocks for Kindergarten. Many parents think that knowing alphabet, numbers,colors and site words are the things children need to begin school and that is true to a certain point. However,  the above skills are more necessary for a successful elementary school experience. Which is why you see now the move to include so many aspects of emotional education in the school setting. Children who did not get these skills in early childhood in early childhood disrupt classroom learning and negatively affect the classroom experience for the other children. Thus, teachers are constantly working to get kids to develop self-control in these areas and not able to teach the grade level subject matter.

     As an early childhood expert, I often find it frustrating to see the push for reading, writing, and more kindergarten skills younger and younger and the push for social emotional growth in elementary grades. This is exactly backward. Kids need the social emotional development before they enter school this is the foundation for learning. Therefore, I highly suggest you look for an early childhood program focused on social/emotional development it will give your children the foundation they need for educational success.


Believe in Parenting

Monday, November 26, 2018

Confessions of an Educational Advocate




When I graduated with my MA my favorite job was working in a program as an educational advocate for children who were wards of the state of Missouri. Once trained by the state. I oversaw the education of 40 children for a period of three years. Half of the children were early childhood age and were enrolled in our on-site program, a local Easter Seals program, and an early intervention program run by the local school district. The other 20 were school age and attended the local public school, a magnet school, or were transferred out to the district they came from to maintain some level of consistency. As the children’s advocate I spent many days in the schools.   I want to share with you what I did that I feel made me successful as an educational advocate.

First, I contacted school personnel before school started. This included each child’s teacher for the year and all of the other professional staff including: Principal, School Secretary, the Ancillary teachers PE, Art, Music and Title I, Nurse, School Social Worker, the Psychologist, Librarian, School Chef, and the head Janitor. I gave each of them a business card and told them the best way to reach me was via telephone; on the back of each card were the names of the children.

Secondly, I kept in touch with the teacher regularly. For me as an advocate that was weekly. However for the average parent bi-monthly should suffice.  I also let teachers know if something was happening that could cause mental, emotional, or physical distress to the child in their class. These things could include that the child was worried about something, the house pet was sick at the Vet, or a visit with their family went badly or did not happen. This gives teachers a heads up that something is wrong and helps them to meet needs they otherwise may  not have anticipated.

Thirdly. I helped supervise homework time. As an educator I realize that a child’s time in school is not so much about learning as it is about instruction. Learning actually takes place as children take the instruction and put it into practice on their own which is the purpose of homework. I set up with my fellow co-workers a set homework time that stayed consistent. They and I would move around the room and help children to process what the teacher had instructed them on in class. We did this by asking open ended  questions such as:” What are the steps the teacher talked about in class today?”. This helped children to tie what they did in school back to what they were doing then.

Lastly, I attended Parent-Teacher Conferences. I approached these conferences as a chance for the teacher and I to get on the same page when it came to the children’s expectations.  I knew what homework had be hardest for them so I sought information on how to help them to process better. I came with a list of five questions I wanted answered about that particular child’s classroom performance, peer interactions, and overall school well-being. Then I took notes regarding our discussion and used these notes to inform my co-workers of the school progress of each child. We then worked as a team to help each child with their areas of challenge and weakness. This helped both homework and school progress improve.

Educational advocacy is all about being supportive of both your child and the teacher. Teachers are your team members. It is their job to instruct the children. As parents and caregivers it is our job to ensure children are learning what the teachers are laying out for them. It is also our job to ensure the educators are doing a good job making sure their instruction is meeting the needs of the children. Parents need to work hard not to take sides between children and teachers but, instead find a way to mediate.

I loved my time as an educational advocate and I hope these steps help you to feel confident as you advocate for your children. Please let me know what you think of this article and the steps that are outlined here.

Belie e in Parenting

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Focusing November 22 on Thanksgiving, Joy, and Fun







Here in Atlanta every Sunday Morning on our most popular talk radio station WSB 750 there is a show called the Monica Matthews show. She talks about faith, life. and politics. This week her show was about envy and this being the real reason for the climate in today's American climate. I think she has a valid point.
So, I wanted to write a post to encourage everyone to put down strife, contention, arguments, and any other thing which could get in the way of making this November 22 a true focus on Thanksgiving. A thanksgiving which is full of love, peace, and joy for your family.


Focus the Family on  Being Thankful

One way to do this is to have everyone who comes into the house write on a piece of paper one thing they are grateful for since the last Thanksgiving and put them into a basket. Later in the evening pull out the basket and play a game to see who can guess which person wrote this thanks. Entourage that person to then share the story behind the comment. Or you could choose to do this throughout the day it will help keep everyone focused on gratitude. 

Another suggestion is to ask people to come in and as they say hi also share a gratitude moment from the last month they can share. This will organically get people to think about what they are thankful for which has happened recently.

Finally, as a take home gift this year have journals for folks to take home so they can start a gratitude journal. The Dollar Store sells journals, you can also use composition book these are sold in most places where school supplies are sold.

Family and Football

As Americans most of us recognize that Thanksgiving is synonymous with the gridiron. So, there are several ways to make football a fun part of your day; beyond watching the games. When people come into the house have clothespins which signify the colors of the game most important to you and your guests, one color for each team. Then. do a crossing game when one person from the red team catches a person from the blue team crossing arms, legs, ankles etc that team loses a pin. By the end of the game the team which has the most pins, wins gets a fun prize. (You can go to a local restaurant and get cpupons for lunches.)

Create a mascot and team matching game. Choose 10 football teams and put their names on a page on one side and mix up the mascots on the other and give a prize to the person who get the most matches correct.

Have a betting pool using a favorite hard candy. When people come in they each get five pieces of candy. Before the game starts people have to write on a card which team will win and by how many points then put their candy in the bowl one piece per each bet. After the game the person who is cloest to the actual score takes home the candy.

Food and Conversation

It is fun to do place cards around the table to get folks to mingle with others they may not usually sit with and talk. One way to make this easier is to include a conversation starter on each place card. So, here is a list to get you started.

The best book I read this year..
The best movie I saw...
The funniest commercial...
Tue most moving thing I observed...
What gave me the most joy...
The most interesting person I met...
Tue most surprising result...
My most treasured memory for this year...
The thing I am most looking forward to the holiday season...
Three things I want to accomplish in 2019...

I hope this list gets you thinking about conversations to have around the table to keep everyone focused on happy uplifting and joyful things to think about and be grateful for this year. The key to having a joyful and peace filled holiday is found in Phillip ans 4:8-9.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

I wish you a great day on November 22 filled with love, joy, peace and thanksgiving!

Believe in Parenting

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Last Summer Horray!



Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of  Summer. It is after this weekend most of us get back into the routine of going back to school and saying good bye to long hot days off to kick back and relax. So, I encourage you to make one last great memory for the Summer of 2018.

This would be a great time to:

  •  invite a few friends over for a barbecue in the back yard. 
  • Take the kids to see a ballgame.
  •  Find a local small town that has a great festival. 
  • take a trip to a local park and hang out. 
  •  Have a PJ weekend. Where your whole family decides to stay in. Play games, do some scrap booking of fun family days this Summer, watch movies and just be together for the weekend.


We are entering into the most busy quarter of the year. We kick into homework, scouts, school activities, the big project at work, long hours of doing research on papers, and so many other responsibilities. Use this weekend to spend with friends, family and those you love most and build a life long memory. Take this time to give you kids your undivided attention and play with your spouse. I will tell you a secret kids swill scream yuck when you kiss each other, but it gives them a sense of security few other things will. Knowing our parents are in love and happy together gives kids a sense of peace and everything is right in their world like nothing else can. So, Dad bend Mom over your arm and lay one on her this weekend no one will ever forget; especially her!

Labor Day is meant to celebrate the American worker. Be sure to talk to your children about your work and the men and women who work hard the soldiers, police, fire personnel builders, postal workers, coal miners, roofers, and all those folks who work long hours to serve us with hard physical labor.

Also, talk with them about service and what it means to give of yourselves. This would also be a great weekend to do some volunteering. Find a shelter for people or animals and do some helping. Go to a local hospital and give out flowers, clean up a local park, or start thinking about how you will give over Thanksgiving or Christmas and begin to make a plan. Whatever, you choose make it meaningful for you and your family.

I hope you have a super Labor Day Weekend and make some lifetime momories!

Believe in Parenting

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Parents, I am Sharing-My Journey to Becoming an Entrepreneur!



Are you considering becoming a parent? Do you want to be able to work and stay home with your baby? Or do you want a business that has a child care facility for yo and those who work with and for  you? Me too. I am sharing my journey with you come along and let me help you think through the process of creating the life you want for you and your family.

I have always had an entrepreneur's mindset. I want to make an impact on the wold that is uniquely my own. One of the great influences on my thinking is the show Shark Tank. I watched the show not to just see what new inventions were out there but to see what and how the sharks thought. I have learned a lot over the years and understand how investor think about investing. I also noticed that most people pitching rarely have a new invention they simply have a better or different take on an already existing idea. The combination got me to thinking about what I love and am good at, and how I could use that to create my own either new or better take on an item or idea. Just getting into that mindset made me think differently. I was more alert as to what I was seeing and how it impacted people.

My first love is early childhood. I have been working with young children since the age of 13. I am especially fond of children three and younger. I worked in children's ministry for over 30 years and loved every minute of it. I was devastated when the Holy Spirit moved me on from working directly with children. When the children's pastor at our church as me how I could leave, we had a long talk about where God was taking me. Actually, it was not until after I became visually impaired and was forced to stop working with young children that I finally obeyed and started Parents, Teachers, and Advocates very soon after that conversation. A nonprofit which athis blog is based on. However, that Shark Tank idea stayed active in my mind.



So, as I began to look around and see what items where needed I naturally looked in the direction of infants and children. At first I was chomping at t he bit to come up with an idea. My friend, business coach, and mentor Jim Medlin who knows me well suggested I relax and let things just flow. Jim told me great ideas so not come in the form of stress, but in relative calm and clear level thinking. Ir rook me a while but I finally took his advice. It was about six weeks later hanging out with a girlfriend at a local restaurant when I say a mom with a new baby. I knew the baby was less than a month old because the child's cry was still the sound of a new born. Their voice had not yet gained the depth of a child used to human language. She fed him and was trying to burp him. He was squirmy, unhappy, and just being plain ornery. In the course of trying to burp him, he flayed his arms, kicked his little legs and was throwing a fit. The burp pad hit the floor twice. I felt compassion for this new mom. The baby finally burped just as the pad slipped into mom's lap and the shirt she had on was stained. Hre friend took the infant while mom went to the restroom.

My friend and I looked at each other and smiled we took a moment to pray for that new mom and her struggles. Later, I ran into her leaving and I told her to hang in thee it got easier as time went on. She smiled and thank me. Later, that evening as I was laying in bed thinking about my day. I thought of that mom and her dropping the pad. I thought there has to be a better idea for a burping pad one that would not so easily slip or fall.

It was then I realized this was my 'Shark Tank' idea. I created a prototype using fabric and ironing tape. Because I did not have a swing machine. That was 2008. I was not yet ready to take it into production. It sat in my closet for 9 years. Then last December, I was talking to a friend about being an entrepreneur and wanting to take my product to market. We began the process. First, we went through the patenting process. Then onto having several made to share the idea. Next, we found a person to make our professional pattern and sample. Who also got us in touch with a manufacturer. We are now sourcing out materials to send to them so they can be made and sold.

I am sharing this story because I want you to know the people on  the show are just like you and me. They saw a problem and came up with a way to fix it. As a parent that is simply part of your job description. If you want to change the world it has to be in an area that interests you. You can not just randomly pick something out of thin air. It takes a lot of time, patience, and money to bring something from and iea to a product to sell. It takes even more effort to get people to think it is a good idea and prop their hard earned money down to buy one. So, as I continue down this road to discover what it really means to be an entrepreneur, I want to share the journey with you. I call parenting the toughest job you will ever love and hate. If you can do that, you can do anything!
Check out our new website-The And Baby Company

Believe in Parenting!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kids Lunches Beyond Sandwiches!


Sunday afternoon I was hanging out with a former client who has become like family. She and I had lunch and went shopping for school supplies and baby items. She3 asked me a question and I had to think a while in order to answer. Her question was what kind of lunches can I fed the kids besides sandwiches all the time. I answered her before we left with tortilla roll ups, but considering we had just left Tin Drum I felt a little silly because a cold noodle salad came to mind when I got home. Then I saw a fun commercial on food network about making fun animals from rice cakes or sandwich bread.

Sending your kids to school with lunches they will actually eat and not scip or trade is a challenge or every Mom. So, let's start by incorporating your children's favorite foods in every lunch. Now, I hope you have fed your kids such a variety of foods that they have faves from every food group so the meals can be well balanced. Here are a few ideas.

Sandwich-free Lunches
  • Hummus, raw veggies, cheese cubes, and apple wedges
  • Greek yogurt dip (use your favorite yogurt and add lots of herbs for ranch, blue cheese crumbles, parmesan, or some grated onion and cucumber, add some spices salt and pepper,yum), with a variety of dippers veggies, crackers, pretzels, and a fruit cup
  • Quinoa salad with walnuts, cranberries, sunflower seeds, with a poppy seed dressing, with raw veggies and dip
  • Sliced cucumbers with dressing,lunch meat, cheese slices, pickles, olives crinkle carrots and a banana
  • Broccoli salad with chunks of chicken, crushed dried ramen noodles, sunflower seeds, raisins, minced onion, walnuts, grape tomatoes and a sweet dressing
  • 2 small cups of peanut butter with dippers baby carrots, celery sticks,pretzels, apple slices
  • Chicken salad made with almonds and grapes, with crackers, and raw broccoli add a dip
  • Rice cakes spread with almond butter and honey, a veggie salad of spinach, apples,and slivered almonds with a dressing on the side

Drinks

Hydration is an important part of keeping the brain functioning well in support of learning so choose drinks which will support hydration.My friend chose Honest juice boxes for her boys, which I think is a great choice. Consider coconut water which comes in a variety of flavors including pineapple, peach mango, and chocolate. Bottled water with a flavor enhancer. If you own a soda steam fizzy water in a bottle with fruit floating in it. Milk is always a good choice cow, almond, or goat.  Also, making your kids a frozen fruit smoothie which will thaw out by lunch time will give them a fun drink.

The best thing you can do for planning lunches is to get  your kids involved. If taking them to the store is too much. Sit at home in front of the computer and shop online. Get the kids to pick some things they would like. Then on Saturday get into he kitchen together and make lunches and freeze them for the week. This gives kids a chance to pick it out, make it, and each evening decude what they want to put in the fridge for the next day. Pop in a cooler pack and send them off to school with lunch choices they have made themselves.

Lunch Box Notes

One thing I love is lunch box notes it is a great way to connect with your kids in a small way. One current commercial shows a mom writing her notes on the top of a fruit bowl. That's a cute idea. Also, you could do fun things like emojis, pictures, thank you notes, the choices are endless and your kids will like the surprise. By the way your spouse would too.

Need more ideas? Check out these blog posts.

10 Sandwich Free Lunch Ideas

37 Lunch Ideas from Celebrity Chefs

I hope this helps you get your kids to eat their lunch each day and gets them out of the not eating or swapping mode!

Believe in Parenting

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Maternity Leave--Let's Get Practical



Congratulations you are about to have a baby! It's exciting scary and a whole lot of daunting. You are about to start the journey of being a parent so let's get a little practical about what you can do and what you need during those first few weeks and months of parenthood. Here are a few suggestions that I believe should make this time a lot easier for you.


  1. You are both going to be exhausted and cooking is not something you're going to be looking forward to. Plan your meals for the first few weeks. If you have friends and family around it's good to let them know that you could use some help with food items let them know your allergies and your dietary restrictions. However you can't count on them to provide all of your meals. Costco and Trader Joe's are both places that have high quality pre-prepared meals that you can throw either in the oven or microwave to eat and keep you fed. The meals generally are tasty and healthy. If you have a service like Plated or Blue Apron you may want to set up some extra boxes for during that time so all you have to do is prepare the food. Most grocery stores now have delivery services. So, take advantage of shopping online and having your groceries delivered.
  2. Consider hiring a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula is a mother's helper who can help you figure out a sleep schedule, a feeding schedule, they can support you with breastfeeding if you're having issues can help you. They are extra support for your family while you adjust; especially during that first 12 weeks after you have the baby.(If you are not sure what a doula is checkout our Pre-Birth to Age 3 page for our interview with doulas).  If you haven't already considered it talk with someone about placenta encapsulation. It works for some people and not for others but generally it helps you to maintain your hormone levels as you get healed from having the baby. I have heard reports from some who say it doesn't help at all to others saying it gives you a sense of euphoria and joy during this time. It's definitely worth looking into.
  3. Pre-plan for guest visits. If you know that your moms ared coming, sister, brothers,and cousins are coming during this time. Pre-plan so that everything is ready have all your towels and sheets clean, get extra toothpaste, soap, and deodorant.  Be ready so that you can relax and know that they are taken care of and can enjoy being there to celebrate the new baby and helping you with other things which that will need to be done.
  4. Plan to sleep a lot especially mom now that you've had the baby you are going to be exhausted. When the baby is sleeping you should be sleeping too. Two things will help with this really well first make sure you are hydrated and staying hydrated. Second eat well! Eat a balanced rich-nutrient diet. If you are breastfeeding this an even more important; because the baby is getting all of their nutrients from you. Whatever nutrients you are not eating the milk will take from your system. Lots of mom end up with a calcium deficiency in their bones because of not eating enough green leafy vegetables and other items that are rich in calcium.
  5. Relax, relax, relax there's an old saying Rome was not built in a day. It means things take time so it is better to chill and let things take the time that they will need. If you are a new parent you're not going to be brillant at it right away. We are all different things that will exasperated frustrate you may not exasperate or frustrate someone else. Give yourself a break being a parent does not mean being superhuman it means being able to take a step back and look at what's going on and taking the time to make things better.
  6. Keep your camera or your phone close. They'll be times that you look across the room at your sweet baby and he think I need a picture of that. Keeping it clothes will help you NAB those moments.
  7. Pay close attention to one another. This time should be one of the most special times for you as a couple, bringing your new baby into the world together. It is very easy to allow yourself to get sidetracked and pay more attention to your newborn than you do to one another. Avoid this tendency. You made a vow to put your spouse ahead of all others like it or not this includes that precious bundle of joy that's about to enter your life. Make a plan to have at least two date nights during that 12 week time frame. You are still a couple first and your relationship is only the foundation of your family. Making and keeping that relationship a priority is what is going to keep your family together for the Long Haul don't forget that!

I know that you're excited. I know that you're scared. Just remember that being a good parent is all about living it one day at a time. You are not going to ruin your child by making a single mistake. It is the love, care, and attention that you give to them day by day, week by week, month by month, and year after year that creates a relationship for a lifetime.

Believe in Parenting
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