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Monday, June 25, 2018

Three Things New Parents need to ask when Looking for Childcare

As a new Mom and Dad it is always going to be difficult to leave your child with someone you do not know. Choosing child care is the most important thing you will do for your child. In choosing child care you want to be sure to choose a place which fits your life, your family, and your belief system. As a 30+ year veteran of early education I know this choice is often undertaken through asking friends and family their opinions. Yet, I know there is so much more.

I have been working on a book for parents for a while now and I have three things I consider most important in the search for quality childcare. They are:

  • The knowledge and commitment of the Director in Early Education
  • The training of the staff in developmentally appropriate practices, the curriculum, the ages and stages questionnaire and its use in the classroom
  • How the center serves both child and parent 

While there are many other factors parents will want to look for and check out which I cover in my book. As a professional these are the three things I consider most important to the well-being of children and families.Here is a quick breakdown of each.

  1. Ask the director about his/her training in ECE. The director is the leader of the center and determines how well the staff knows and understands the unique needs of children under the age of five. I believe the director needs a minimum of an AA in early childhood development. preferably a BA in early childhood education.  (Please note there id a difference in development and education. Education includes both development and the best way to educate children this age).
  2. A-Ask about staff training in Developmentally Appropriate Practice or DAP. DAP is the use of children's age and ability level to ensure the classroom environment, toys, and activities will encourage development and growth and limit frustration and overwhelm. DAP is the foundation of proper early childhood education. A center using worksheets or focusing on elementary skills is not one which is supportive of age appropriate skill for young children. 2B-There are scientifically-based ear;y childhood curriculum each which focuses on differing points of DAP for the classroom. These curricula are specific and have certain mindsets teachers need to develop in order to maintain it correctly. Montessori, Bank Street, Rousseau, and Active Learning are a few names of them. The important thing is that teachers are trained to use the curriculum appropriately. 2C The Ages and Stages Questionnaire is the only tool in Early Childhood which can give a complete picture of where a child is on the developmental scale and can give parents and teachers a slid look at where a child is amd place them into the correct environment. 
  3. Ask about parent involvement in the center. As a parent you are the customer of the services this center is providing. You should be made to feel welcome during the times you can be at the center. Is there a place for you in the center? Is there a parent coaching/support group for issues you come across in your child rearing? Does the director and the teachers seem glad to see you and encourage you to participate by reading a book to the children or sitting down at snack time? This is a place your child will spend a lot of time with and they will develop strong relationships with the people here. Be sure you and your child are welcome and you feel comfortable there. It should feel like a home away from home.
I am planning for my book to be released on Amazon later this year. I will let you know when it is available for pre-order. In the meantime I hope this helps.

Believe in Parenting

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Moms and Dads-Date Night your Family's Foundation

As a parent coach one of the things I strongly recommend is marriage care. This is where the adult relationship takes priority over the love and care of children. I stress this because the marriage is the foundation of the family. If the marriage falls apart then so does the family. Thus, making your relationship as a couple the priority ensures the foundation stays strong.

Your kids will may naje yucky noises and roll their eyes at your PDA. However, I can assure you inside they are smiling and happy to know Mom and Dad are strongly committed to one another. This is why date night is so important. Putting time aside each week to connect with one another as adults is important. Date night in my book has three rules.

  1. Do something you both enjoy. Sometimes that means you will do what you love and your spouse only likes and vice versa.
  2. Leave your discussion about the family and parenting to another time. Focus the conversation on what is changing in you, what you are learning new and how it is affecting you. Communicate as adults about who you are. Share how your dreams are changing. Share new thoughts and ideas you have had in the last week. Tell your spouse who you are and grow together as a couple on purpose.
  3. Learn your spouse's love language and use it. This site is a great resource to learn more about the 5 Love Languages. Be playful and romantic with one another. This is the time to remind each other why you got together. Do things you enjoyed when you first dated. Treat your spouse like you are trying to win their heart all over again. Make it your mission to make them fall more in love with you every week!

Date night is about staying connected as a couple. Last Christmas I met a couple I blogged about meeting them in my post Excellence, the Tiger Lady, and a Lovely Couple. These two left t heir six month old with her parents and took a vacation with his just after Christmas. They took date night to a new level. One I celebrate in this post.

Making sure your family's foundation is strong and secure is the best and most loving thing you can do for your children. Need some ideas this article in Redbook can help!  

Believe in Parenting!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Parents it's TIME to Fight Back Against Zero Tolerance!

A local county school district in Atlanta, the Henry County School District did something so unthinkable I cannot even begin to understand their logic. They expelled a 10-year-old for bringing poppers to school. 

As a former teacher and parent coach,  it is clear to me that rather than teaching our children how to become good decision-makers and learn from their mistakes the education establishment today is all about punishment. Zero Tolerance in schools has hindered our educators from disciplining of children and teaching them right from wrong. Read the article.

A recent blog post I wrote about how Dennis Prager spoke about schools and the problems that we're having because they're teaching emotional intelligence instead of basic moral principles. This is a prime example. I am so tired of the educational establishment punishing children for doing kid stuff!

Our children are now no longer in schools to learn  logic, math, reading, writing,  and critical thinking. Instead they are indoctrination centers that are police states which book no kind of rule infringement even if that means punishing a child for being a child. This is precisely why so many conservatives want to see the end of the US Department of Education because this has become completely and totally ridiculous. (I am doing my very best not to rant.)

Teaching children how to make good decision means that when they make bad decisions we have to help them examine their reasoning, help them think through why this might not have been a good idea, give them some ideas about how they can handle the situation next time, and then give them a reasonable yet effective consequence equal to the infraction. In this case expulsion is gnot reasonable.

This child civil rights have been infringed upon. I wonder how many people are going to recognize it.

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” ... The Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause is the most important and controversial part of the Eighth Amendment. --National Constitution Center

There are times when I wish I had gone ahead and studied educational law like I started to back in the 1990's. This is one of those times. 
This young kid could go to Harvard based on the amount of money he could get from suing the school district for infringing on his Civil Rights. This mom is fighting back and I'm glad to hear it. I hope in addition to taking it up with the school board she also sues them for infringing on her child's right together a just consequence, this is the only way we have to fight back.

It is time parents started stepping up and saying no to the education establishment and how they are victimizing our children by using this ridiculous Zero Tolerance policy. It is time we worked with the school districts to begin to start teaching moral development in our classrooms. Rather than emotional intelligence. And excuse my French "it is damn sure time that the educational establishment took a step back and began to realize just how utterly ridiculous they are being when they are punishing our children for being kids.

To put it bluntly I am sick and tired of this zero-tolerance, police state atmosphere our children are living in. Schools have set themselves up to  be safe zones. Yet ,our kids are not allowed to be kids in the building. How are they even fixing themselves to call schools safe zones when kids are not even allowed to make mistakes?

I'm calling on parents to get really involved with your local school district. If they have adopted a zero-tolerance policy then I would like to see you talk to your local school board members, about abolishing this policy. Parents can start by writing letters, organize informational rallies, get citizens who are very passionate to speak to the school board in meetings, and generally do whatever it is you need to do including running for the school board yourself. Get your school district to reverse the Zero Tolerance stance and instead go back to Common Sense discipline which is focused on moral development and logical appropriate consequences. Your kids are depending on you to step up until the educational establishment and say; "No you can't treat our kids this way."

Believe in Parenting!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Parents are you Ready for the Summer?

I remember my Summers as a child. I loved to go out and run my neighborhood hours on my bike hanging withe my friends and lots of picnics at parks, in our backyard, swimming lessons, Girl Scout camping trips and lots of ice cream. LOL Times have so changed! Now, kids rarely have friends in the neighborhood. We would never allow them to leave the house at nine, come home for lunch and be off until dinner. So, what is a parent to do and how do we help kids have a fun summer and still be kids?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Summer Camps for interests. You kids have a variety of interests choose camps which will spark their imaginations and curiosity. You can choose weekly,  two weeks or monthly camps. There are a variety of camps:STEM, Music, Writing, Acting, Singing, Artist pick the ones where your child has the most interes. Even get them involved in choosing wht they want to do.
  2. Overnight Camping--I suggest this as both a camp children go away for a few days and as a family. Camping is a great way to spend some time away from home and get back to nature/ If you are not the "camping type" try glamping and rent an RV for a weekend or week-long trip. You have all he convenience of a hotel (no room service) so you get to sleep in a bed. But, you are still at a camp grounds where you can enjoy all the outdoor activities.
  3. Read a novel as a family-Take a trip to the bookstore or sit in your living room and check out some children's novels (Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Huckleberry Finn, Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys, Charlotte's Web) then read a chapter a night as a family.
  4.  Scavenger Hunts-this one takes some planning and coordination. This would be a great weekend activity. Pick a series of activities to do and write a clue for each. Then take to the clues to a each place. One should start at home of course. Let the children read the clue and guess. Then go this is so great if you live in a walkable neighborhood. But, getting in the car is okay also. I suggest you have a meal or a ice cream for the last clue so you can talk about your days adventure.
  5. Scrapbook as a family. Use your pictures from all you your trips and adventures to create a Summer of 2018 scrapbook. Each family member could create two or three pages for the book and it will become a great family heirloom to remember and tell the stories for years to come.
  6. Plan and cook meals together. Make this meal an event. Plan the meal together go shopping for the ingredients, Cook together. Turn your backyard into a cool place to eat and take you dinner al fresco.
  7. Find a local trail and go walking or bike riding as a family. Take a picnic.
  8. Do a staycation and find out about your town. Check into a local hotel and do the tourist thing in your own town. Do you have places seen on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives? What are the local tourist events you have never seen?
  9. Take your kids to a concert of your favorite band when you were a kid. Then take them to a concert o their favorite artist today.
  10. Take several evenings and play some board games. Make it a junk food night and just have fun.
  11. Spend a lot of time at or in the pool! 

 In addition, to these suggestion I encourage you limit your child's screen time to no more than the amount of time it takes to watch two movies each day (2-4 hours); this includes computer, phone, video games and TV watching. Brain development studies are showing that screen time hampers brain development and keeps kids wasting rather than spending time. Encourage kids to journal, draw, talk to friends face to face, play games,  take walks and simply engage with the world beyond the screen. Get them involved in some local classes for kids where they can learn more skills and develop a hobby. Kids like adults waste time on the screen because there is nothing else to do. Fix that problem and kids will find other activities far more engaging and interesting.

I hope these suggestions will help you and your kids have a Summer 2018 to remember!

Believe in Parenting

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Parents: School Shootings and the Myth of Quality Time

During the first hour of his May 21, 2018 radio show Denis Prager; the creator of the popular video blog series PragerU talked about the root cause of the school shootings in the US. He basically said it is the lack of Character Education in the school system. I think he is right. We have replaced character education with emotional intelligence education. Even worse we have told parents it is ocak to spend less time with their children as long as the the time spent is constructive and relationship building. However, this is not true. Character is not built quickly it is built over a long period of time whre children and parents spend lots of time together talking about what character is and how it is build.

What is interesting about this is that as I am reading Simon Sinek's book Leaders Eat Last it is also all about character or rather the lack of it in Corporate America. Where the guys at the top are looking out for themselves rather than looking out for their employees. The same could be said at today's FBI, the leaders are looking out for their won interests instead of the rank and file officers serving by putting their lives daily. Thus, there is a real crisis of character in our society today. What I know is that character is not built in a day. It is built from the age of 2 and it requires lots of lessons and understanding in what moral development is and how it is formed.

There is a theorist by the name of  Lawrence Kohlberg who crafted the theory of Moral Development. Many have said his theory is erroneous. However, I am going to share it with you and let you decide.
According to his theory; moral maturity is reached when a person can see, recognize, and choose to take action on behalf of another person who is vulnerable to the plight of someone less fortunate than themselves.

He groups them as follows:

The six stages of moral development are grouped into three levels of morality: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional morality.

As shown in the graphic above each of these stages are divided into two stages each. Starting from the bottom are the typical moral development of a two year old to the top which according to the theory should be reach around the age of 13. However, we know that in today's culture this maturity is often not reach until a person reaches college-level if then. According to the final level of the theory communication is the key to understanding. Yet, with the twittersphere and texting communication is lacking in the lives of our child with their friends and even with us.

Several years ago I noticed a Mom sitting in Chili's waiting for their food to arrive. Both mom and daughter were on their devices. I found this sad here was an opportunity for this mother and daughter to connect and communicate an yet their devices had their attention instead. The problem has become more pervasive. So, I want to challenge all parents who are reading this article. Get back to family dinners at least three times a week where you connect as a family and talk. Make it mandatory for everyone to be at the table device free. Find out about each others day, talk about past and upcoming events. Talk about movies you all are interested. Afterwards play one board game start with a short one like Sorry or Uno and work yup to Monopoly and Clue. Spend time talking, sharing, listening, and most of all paying attention to body language and facial expressions. Quantity of time spent with your children talking about expectations and hearing theirs can build a strong bond but most of all it can build a strong character. This is what is needed in our schools. A child who can see another who is lonely or being rejected can reach out and help a child who is not. Sitting at a lunch table and defending a child who is picked on and offering support to that child can prevent the hopelessness and anger which leads to school violence. It is not the guns we need to be worried about it is the character of the children who attend school with our own.

Believe in Parenting!

Friday, April 20, 2018

DeKalb County Bus Driver Should be Fired for Putting Children in Mortal Danger!

As a parent coach, early childhood educator, and a former school teacher I am completely appalled and discouraged by the way the bus drivers where the Fekalb County Georgia left children in the cold on a cool morning when they didn't show up for them. I chose not to write this blog until this evening because I wanted to find out how they handled the issue on Friday before I put my two cents on the net.

So, now that I know they did not go back to work on Friday I am going to share with you my thoughts. I think it was severely irresponsible, selfish, and very dangerous for the bus drivers to just simply not show up. We have not yet heard the stories of what happened to children who ended up waiting for however long before they were either picked up by their parents or went back home. What really concerns me is that they can just leave high schoolers and middle schoolers out on their own but elementary school children as young as 5 years old. Apparently this was something that with decided to be done and they could have chosen to say we're not showing up for work tomorrow. They could have released it to the media WSB in particular so that parents would be warned that their children would be stranded out in the cold on a public street, or at home alone. In my opinion every bus driver who did not show up for work that day should lose their job. Not because they went on strike it is completely their right to go on strike. But, because and this day in age when children are followed to school by predators,  are abducted while waiting for the school bus. And while parents trust that their children will be picked up in a timely manner to ensure their safety these bus drivers broke contract not with the school district but with the parents  and the children. These people can no longer be trusted to put the safety of our children first.

I seriously doubt that they will fire all four hundred of these people because they're skills are unique and driving a school bus full of children is not a job many people can step into.

 However if I was a parent of a DeKalb County child who was left out in danger while the bus drivers went on strike, I would be demanding some serious repercussions for these bus drivers. Not only would I insist that the school district did not give them raises I would insist that the school district fine the bus drivers 5% of their pay until they paid back the county the amount of tax dollars lost by them not showing up for work. Then make  automatic that all four hundred of those drivers not be rehired for the 2018-2019 school year.

Atlanta is one of the cities that fight off sex trafficking of children every day these drivers by not showing up for work and not picking the kids up put them in the kind of danger that is completly unacceptable for any person who has responsibility of caring for and respecting our children. They could have come up with a way to do this where the children would have remained safe but instead they wanted the shock value of children being left out in the cold. I'm very angry and I don't even live in DeKalb County know how these parents feel but I would be extremely angry at what these bus drivers did to the children who live in my city.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

FIRE Safety for the Family

Just last week a father here in Atlanta had to throw his two young children from a second story window to protect them from the fire raging through their apartment building. Thank goodness neither of them was seriously hurt.  However, with just a little planning we here at PT&A hope that you can avoid ever having to make such a choice. Fire safety at home is all about planning and practice.  There are some important things you need to think about in preparing for a fire.

1.    Do your children know what to do?

Many fire fighters have found children under beds, in closets, and a myriad of other places in a house fire.  Just because your child goes to school and participates in fire drills, does not necessarily mean they will understand what to do at home.  You need to prepare your children for what to do if fire strikes at home.

2.    Are you prepared for a fire?

So, many times we think we are prepared for an emergency here is a small list of questions for you to consider to see if you are ready for a fire.  Where is the fire extinguisher in your house? Do you know how to use it? When was the last time you took it to the Fire Station to have it checked? Are your fire alarms working? Do you check the batteries every six months(Daylight Savings time is a good time to check)? Do you have a Carbon Monoxide detector? Is there a working battery in it in case the electricity goes out? What substances do you use to put out a kitchen fire/grease fire?  Where are your important papers kept? When at home where do you keep your purse, cell phone and keys? Do you have an emergency fire kit?  If your home is damaged by fire and you can not stay there where will you go? Do you have an emergency financial plan if you need to board your pets or stay at a hotel?
If you could not answer any of these questions then you are not ready for a fire       to strike.

3.    Do you have an escape route planned?
In order to have an escape route you need to be aware of where all of the doors and windows are in your house and which one is most likely your best escape if you cannot exit via the front door.  This is especially important if you live on the second floor.  Do you own a collapsible ladder to use to escape from the second floor?

4.    What do you need for an emergency kit?

Here is a list of things you should have ready in a bag that is near your escape exit in case of fire: A jump drive with copies of your important papers (include a driver’s license, insurance papers, birth certificates, social security cards, include copies of anything important which may be on your home computer.  Medicines that you or your children need to take to ensure your health. You can ask your doctor or pediatrician for samples to keep in your emergency kit. Also you should include an extra set of keys, a check book, an emergency credit/prepaid debit card, and a list of emergency numbers. You will need clothing at least three set for each person including underwear and socks and travel size toiletrtes for each family member (diapers and wet wipes if there is an infant or small child), at least one blanket, one bottle of water for each person, and non-perishable snacks. Include a small first aid kit. I suggest this fire safety kit be kept in a sturdy duffle type bag with a variety of compartments that will allow for toilettes to leak or break if the bag needs to be thrown. I also suggest a baby sling or body attachment carrier is included especially in the case of a second floor escape plan.  Place this kit These five steps will hopefully prepare you and your family in case the unthinkable happens. We hear at PT&A hope it never does, but it is better to be  prepared than to ever have to face the choice of throwing your child from a second story window to save their fife.  Be safe!!