Monday, May 25, 2015

Parents Teach Values

Recently, I posted Pope Francis's view on parents teaching values to children. It has been a while since I wrote on this topic so here are my thoughts.

Teaching values is one of the most important aspects of parenting. What is really important to consider first is the fact most adults have been living by values so long it is ingrained. Therefore, adults often need to step back and think about what their values actually are. In essence values are defined as those attributes of character which stand on their own. In other words character traits with their own definition like: honesty, integrity, perseverance, and respect. One of my favorite challenges is asking adults to name ten values they live by in their lives. Most people can name between five and seven then can get stumped. This is because we generally hold and live those our parents lived out for us. Does this mean they are unimportant? Of course not, but it does mean if we want our children to live out those we have trouble remembering we have to work harder to live them.

There are many ways we teach children our values. Values are usually caught, through children observing and living the way their parents do. However, values can also be taught through family time. Reading and discussing books which uphold important values is a good way to reinforce them. Especially for those of you who have tweens/teens. I love the Chronicles of Narnia by C..S. Lewis, for this kind of exercise. The children in the books come across all kinds of issues that shape their values. This seven book series can take your whole family through tales of adventure which will help take you and your children through an ever deeper enrichment of your values.

Teachable moments are also a way to reinforce values. Throughout your interactions with your family, friends, play dates, and other people and life happenings are times when you will come across times when talking about values. Including what happened and how it impacts what you believe and how we react and respond. One such example is the riots in Baltimore. This was a good time for parents to sit down and reinforce the value of nonviolence and respect for others. I challenge you to look for situations where you can reinforce your values.

Decision-making is a great way to teach values. Adults do not always explain why we make the choices we make. However, this can be the very best time to help children understand the true importance of values and personal responsibility. Talk with your children about appropriate dilemmas
 you are facing discuss what you are thinking about and why. Once you have resolved the issue go back and talk about how you resolved the issue and why you chose the option you did. Sharing these things in your life gives children real life examples and let's them know in a tangible way that problems and issues can be shared with those who love and support us. It is important to be supportive and use active listening when they come to share. Link to active listening article.

Overall, teaching values is about being a role model who shares thoughts,. Parents foster values teaching by living, talking about, listening to, and participating in everyday living with their children.
Giving advice, support, and empowering children to learn to make decisions on their own is an important part of the process. You can do it!

Believe in Parenting

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Timothy Paul Jones  blog post speaks to Family Ministries on how to help parents to re-engage in their own children's lives. He is speaking directly to the Spiritual lives of the children.  However, I also see this in regards to everyday life. Children speak to parents like peers, following only if the want to. As Mr. Jones points out "it is time to engage" yet many parents have no idea how to engage.

Why do they not know how? Because they are not being taught. Mr. Jones is talking about discipleship I am talking about parenting period. Parents when given the tools they need can not onpy engage but can be effective.

Timothy gibes Family Ministries some tips on helping parents. Here are mine fot parents directly.

How to Engage

1. Begin by actively listening  pay attention to words, body language, and the emotional connection beneath the words. Then be a mirror and repeat back what you have heard. Wait until you have heard everything and then respond after a pause to consider what you have heard.

2. Be open, honest, kind, and calm when you express your thoughts and feelings. Believe or not your children need and want your approval. They especially want itvwhen they are acting like they do not care.

3. Be present. By this I am talking about more than being physically there. I'm taking about being mentality, emotionally, and spiritually active in whatever is happening. Be a conscious participant.

4. Show your love in words, actons, and touch. Your children should never wonder how you feel about them. Tell them your proud when you feel it. Open your heart and your atms, be affectionate. Laughter is required. Joy is too.

Just engage. Just really be there. Believe in Parenting. Believe in yourself.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pope Francis on Family Education

Wednesday Pope Francis spoke to families emphasizing the role parents have in educating and supporting their children as they are maturing into adulthood. Here is the first sentence of the article.

At May 20 audience, he stressed that educatitIong and raising children in the human values that form the “backbone” of a healthy society is a responsibility that each family has.

The main point of his article is parents have taken a back seat to educators and "experts" in caring for their own children. He strongly recommends parents put themselves back into the driver's seat. As a parent educator you may be curious as to response. I say amen and hallelujah! Our children are often at the mercy of adults who while they care for children in general. Can not possibly create strong, heartfelt, deeply emotional relationships with each child in their care. Children are born into families so these relationships can be built, which allows for growth in a loving and supportive environment.

In our western society we have gotten to the point where many believe children need to be protected from parents. While in some cases this is true; more often it is not. As a child and parent advocate I think it is necessary to put preventions in child abuse and neglect in place. 

Parent education would be a great requirement. I disagree with some colleagues who would like to see it as a high school rerequirement. It's already an option there. However, I think it could be a good college freshmen or trade school requirement. What we have to recognize is what's happening now is not working. We are trying to have school teachers raise children. 

This is the real reason our schools are having issues. There is only so much time in the school day. Instead of teachers educating the children in reading, writing, and math. They are teaching self-regulation, personal responsibility, and following directions. These are the things Parents and Early Childhood Education should be teaching. 

Instead many experts say parents especially Dads are extra. The state is better prepared to teach children. The sentiment seems to be   parents need to care for the physical needs and let schools and other state agencies teach children about life. Not a good idea or even realistic. Pope Francis recognizes this and his statements yesterday are a breath of fresh air for this parent educator.

Believe in Parenting

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creating Childcare Policies and Practices for Transportation

May 12th here in Georgia a childcare provider was charged  with leaving a  two year old child in a van for over five hours and trying to cover it up.   Story link  This has happened here in Georgia too many times in the last ten years! I want to share a policy change for all centers which transport children. I believe this happens because  centers have not established policies and procedures  regarding transportation here are my recommendations.

The driver should have a checklist with the names of every child who rides in the centers' van. There should be a separate sheet for each trip. This sheet should have three areas to check. The first is boarded the van, second, got off the van, the third, in class. Then they should be required to double check the van and sign off on the sheet and then an administrator should sign off on the sheet These sheets should be on file in the office. See sample below. The link will have the sample to come up and you can edit it for your center.

    ABC 123 Childcare Transportation Report

Child’s Name Boarded Van Departed Van Child in Class

I have doubled checked the van and all children have departed.

Driver signature _____________________________

I am signing off that the driver has followed the center’s transportation policy.

Administrator’s Signatures _____________________________________

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mothers Loving Yourself is the Foundation of Great Parenting

The first and second commandments are about loving. We are to love God, and our neigneighbors, however we often miss a few key words in this command, "As yourself". The Lord commands us to love ourselves. Parents tend to overlook this key factor especially Mom's have this tendancy.

What does it mean to love yourself?

Loving you begins with understanding who you are as a person. What is your personality type? What things are most important to you and why? How do you learn? What are the values you hold as important? Understanding these things about yourself helps to settle our minds. Creating a sense of self which guides our lives and our parenting.

Loving yourself is also, recognizing when you need a time to just be to resettle yourself. This is a skill we often neglect to teach our children. We call this"me time" it comes in many forms. Mothers can think I do not have time, but like most things in life we have to make the time. I suggest a family relaxation time. Pick a time where everyone in the house must pick a quiet, comfortable place to settle. During this time maybe a half hour everyone needs to engage in quiet activities. I further suggest no video games, internet activities, or other electronic interactions as these activities ramp up the brain and tend to leave people more instead of less relaxed.

Eating right, drinking the proper amount of water, getting enough rest are also important parts of giving yourself love. We can get into routines which place us off balance and in a place where we sacrifice ourselves in order to take care of our families. This is a mistake. Balance is the key to keeping our busy hectic lives from becoming mentally, emotionally, and personally overwhelming. Making sure we put into place strategies which allow us to make sure we are meeting our own physical needs is an important part of giving ourselves love.

Time to worship is the very foundation of self love. The most important aspect of our lives is maintaining the first commandment. Loving God means spending time with Him. Prayer, worship, meditation on Biblical concepts, and just sitting and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach, counsel, and guide you are all parts of loving God. I love the story of how Smith Wiggleworth's mom would lift her outer skirt over her head and her children would know to get quiet and not disturb her cause "she was praying".  When we exercise these disciplines in front of our children and we model loving both God and ourselves for them we give them the tools they need to love themselves.

In the end we must love ourselves before we can effectively love others. Mom's do a better job loving and serving family if she first makes sure her needs are met. This Mother's Day let your family love and pamper you. Enjoy the day, but remember taking care of yourself is as much about loving your family and giving them your best as it is about loving yourself.

Happy Mother's Day

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Helping Children and Families Make the Shift to Summer

So, many times children are very excited about Summer Vacation. Kids are really looking forward to camp or visiting Grandparents. However, it is inevitable children and families wii at some point come to loose ends. As part of winding down the school year I suggest you do an Are you ready for the Summer book.

Get students to look for ten to twelve activities the would like to talk to there families about diung together this summer. Here are some suggestions.

1. Pick two or three children's novels to read and discuss as a family.

2. Using the local attractions for the city pick four free events to attend.

3. Choose one out state park or historical site to go explore on a Saturday.

4. Find one cool thing in their neighborhood and find out everythingvthey can about it and share findings with family and friends.

5. Write a series of stories about a character you make up based on your favourite animal.

7. Look around and see if you can create an item to solve a problem someone is having.

These are just a few thoughts. Please share any you have below in the comments. I hope you and your children have fun with this idea!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Parenting, Preschools, and Emotional Intelligence

Parenting education causes me to deal with a variety of issues. One issue I have been dealing with lately is a Mom who believes children should be taught to read as early as possible. It is her belief academics is most important in children learning. To say the least we had a very robust conversation neither of us changed one another's mind, however, I believe strong points were made on both sides. It got me to thinking about what we Americans think of as success. Let me say our conversation sparked my thoughts and in no way reflects what I believe about this lady or her parenting. This is not a judgement but a reflection of what this conversation led me to think about.

We Americans think success is reflected more in academic and professional success than in people who have emotional and personal development. Success is seen in what we do, own, or can acquire. Rather than what we believe, how we treat others or the value we bring to the lives of others. At this time we can see clearly the results of this kind of thinking. The riots in Baltimore is a great example. Many think the destruction is justified because of the latent anger. Since, when is anger a justification for destroying someone else's life. The belief they just destroyed buildings. Yet, those buildings housed businesses. The owners may not be able to rebuild, which means anyone working there is either temporarily or permeanantly out of a job. This justification is based on excusing a lack of moral development.

In Early Childhood Education (ECE) the focus is not on academics. It is based on developing the whole child but, most especially social/emotional development. Why? Because if children are not at home with their parents it is the job of the teacher to give the children what they will need to succeed in the classroom in Elementary School but also the foundation of living. So, many who mistake the lack of academics in preschool are missing the real purpose of early childhood entirely.

The main purpose of Early Education is to help children build a foundation on which to build the same kind of foundation they would have if they were home with their mothers. In early childhood, they learn to roll over, walk, talk, recognize themselves as both an individual and part of a group. How to recognize others exist and how to engage with them, how to gradually improve attention span, to figure out, what happens when someone leaves and comes back, how to think, explore the world , and  myriad of other things. There is a reason these things are important to learn these things in young childhood.  Honestly, it is because this is the time children are young, eager to please adults  and are the most malleable. If children are at home with their  parents it is possible with strong parental oversight for children to master these things quickly. But, the truth is these thing are generally learned gradually during the first five years. Pushing children into academics is what I believe is ultimately the problem with most young children their foundations are wonky.

Their attention spans are not really developed as appears they have learned to be quiet but tune out.  Although, they learn their letters, colors, and numbers they are bullies. Even as they excellent in many areas they can be lonely, sad, and disconnected because they never really learned how to make a true friend. These are the purposes of ECE.

What happened in Baltimore and all over the country when we look at elementary school issues is a decided lack of foundational development. In a class of twenty it only takes one or two children with a wonky foundation to throw off the classroom learning. If however, a whole class of children have a well-balanced foundation learning becomes more fun because every child is truly engaged.

I would like every parent to consider the purpose of Early Childhood Education and ensuring their child gets a solid foundation and is ready to learn on the Elemantary level.