Sunday, November 22, 2015

Master Parenting Part 7: Living Your Dreams and Goals

If you like me a few years ago you
watched the Lifetime biopic of American Idol's Fantasia Barrino. You saw as I did her telling her brother, " if I do not follow my dreams, Zion won't follow hers. And I am not having that." This is so on target I cheered. You see, there has been a school of thought which says once you have a child you  put your dreams and goals behind you. Balderdash! You are your children's role model living your dreams is key to ensuring they do the same. Which Ms. Barrino clearly understood.

In the last segment of this series I spoke on Authenticity which is the alignment of beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions. It is impossible to follow an authentic life without following your dreams. However, what it means to follow your dreams may mean lots of preparation for your following; while you put a priority on family life. I could say following your dreams while sacrificing your children is in no way effective parenting. Building a foundation on which you can launch your dreams while being there for your family is building not only them but you.

Creating a Plan

Some dreams can be achieved easily. I dreamt of seeing the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy live. I took my mother and sister to see The Nutcracker. Done. Yet, not all dreams are so easily accomplished. I have the dream of becoming a world class, highly sought after, and acclaimed Parent Expert. Still working on it! Yet, I have a plan and am working on it regularly. What is your dream?

Here are some ways to get started.

  1. Write down your dream at first it may be a sentence. My dream is...
  2. Find people who have succeeded in your chosen goal and read their writings, watch their videos, follow who they follow on social media in the field.
  3. Begin to explore what makes you the same and different in thoughts and execution.
  4. Get a coach in your field and preferably in your city.
  5. Start building the structure for your dreams.
  6. Create a list of steps.
  7.  Set benchmarks for yourself in time and what the finished task will look like.
Talk about your Plan to Family 
  1. Be Carful! Share your plan with those you can trust to love and support your dreams. Do not putt it out to be trampled.
  2. Discuss in terms will not if.
  3. If it can be drawn or writing out put it up where you see it constantly.
  4. Celebrate each benchmark as it is completed share them with your family before and during.
Dreaming with your children

Many parents have dreams for their children. But, the key to helping your kids living authentically and with their own set of goals is in parents helping children discover their own dreams, mentors, coaches, and set of benchmarks. Be supportive and guide them if they get stuck or lost. But, let them lead. After all, it is their dream. You have your own dreams to bring to pass. Be sure to follow the above steps above as you support your children!

Believe in Parenting

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Parental Engagement on the ECE Level

Research shows children who have parents who are actively engaged in their educational lives, do better. This is especially true when talking about early childhood education. Yet many parents have no idea of how to get involved.  As a parent development specialist and a persom well versed in Early childhood , I think there are 3 ways parents with a young child should be involved with their child's education. 1) Be willing to learn about and understand the difference in the way young children and older children learn. 2) Ask about ways you can help and support children's learning at home and do them. 3) Make time to volunteer in the center in the ways they need you to be involved.

~Be willing to learn about the difference in how younger and older children learn
Young children learn by actively observing and then acting out  what they see. Young children from age six months to five years watch, listen, and learn. Children are natural observers. However, children really begin to learn as they act out their observations. We in early childhood call this acting out play. Many parents not understanding the difference between acting out observations and play for enjoyment tend to  see dearly beloved sister who education as "just playing".  The truth is your child is learning through acting out a variety of situations they have observd over their young years. Early educators use observations, knowledge of child development, and open ended questions to help children link their observations with the skills they need to prepare for life and school.
Older children who can think, talk, read, and interact with others use those skills to learn and play becomes a chance to unwind. Play no longer is the primary tool for learning. Older children have developed other skills they use for learning.

~ Ask about ways you can support your child's learning at home and do them
Early childhood learning involves discovery, pre--skills, and learing from the world. Teachers use the classroom setting to help children learn and grow. Parents can also do activities with their young chilren which can promote discovery, curiosity, and observation. Making cookies, jello, and cakes can help children to observe changes which are made by adding cold or heat.  Asking open ended questions can help children make the observations. Example: when we put the jello in the refridgerator we could pour it like water now we can't. Why do you think that happened? Your child's teacher will have more suggstions for you. Remember  when you do them with your childen you are supporting their growth and development.

~Make time to volunteer at your child's center in the way they need you to be involved.

Every child care center needs volunteers for things to run smoothly. Sometimes they need someone to help kids into jackets to go outside. Or they may need you to help serve lunch or snack. Sometimes you could be asked to help to decide on a committee which effectts the whole center. For instance, you may sit on a playground committee deciding to resurface the ground. Please give your full atrention no matter the task and  you will not only be appreciated. You will become a part on the centers' commiunity. This is ultimately your goal.
Parents are a vital part of whole efucation proces Using these three suggstions as your starting point will help you to begin engaging in your child's educational growth.

Believe in Parenting

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Service

Many parents look for teachable moments. I want to say up front the holidays are great time to teach your  values to your  kids. This time of year is a great time to talk about what it means to be thankful, grateful, and to serve others. Teaching these values enables us adults to remember the holidays and life in general is not just about consumerism. It is about opening up our hearts and recognizing just how blessed we are and to give thanks for it. It's a time to let that thankfulness seep into our hearts long enough to become gratefulness. Then allowing that feeling to blossom into the need to share those blessings with others. This is in essence the steps of moral development. Which is one of the foundations for emotional intelligence.

Helping children learn thanksgivings and gratitude is not as difficult as you might think. It can be as simple as taking them with you as you serve the community. Whether it is the local food bank, children's hospital, animal shelter, or homeless shelter does not matter. When you take them talk about what is happening and why. Let them see how what you are doing is making life better for those in need. Give them time to experience the everything, give them space to absorb what is happening around them. When they start asking questions and they will answer honestly. Share your deepest feelings about thankfulness, gratitude, and serving others. The ideal time to start doing this is around the age of five. The truth is we overlook the fact that this is a part of early childhood development.

According to Lawrence Kohlberg ideally moral development should be set around age 13 . However, here in the West we no longer purposely teach these skills. Children actually begin to show signs of empathy around two years of age yet it is often not nurtured. Ever see or have a young child give their  favorite toy to another child or you who is upset. That's the beginning of empathy. They see someone upset and are seeking to comfort them by giving to that person what gives them comfort. Recognize those moments when you see them and celebrate them. Be specific about what you saw.

"Jamie, I am so proud of you. You shared your Pooh bear with Jenny when she was upset. Good job! Give me five!"

This statement and ones like it give your children not only the joy a good job statement, but knowledge in how to repeat the behavior. Recognizing when your child is showing signs of thankfulness, gratitude, and service and pointing it out is a great use of  teachable moments.

This year during the holidays I suggest you do the following:
  1. Take your children to help pack Thanksgiving boxes for the needy.
  2. Have them help you shop and drop off toys for Toys for Tots.
  3. If they are older ask them to help you pick volunteer projects for the family.
  4. Get them to start a gratitude journal.
  5. Get them to tell you one thing they are grateful for each day.
  6. Tell them one thing you are grateful for each day.
  7. Catch them in thankful/grateful behavior and make a specific statement about what you saw.
  8. Have them write thank you notes for Christmas gifts.
Remember you are their example. Say please and thank you. Demonstrate thankfulness as much as possible. Encourage them to give you compliments too. Give them a chance to catch you. This holiday season I hope you use this time to plant, nurture, and tend to our children's development of thankfulness, gratitude, and serving.

Believe in Parenting 

Friday, November 13, 2015

It is nice when others appreciate your work!

I love what I do! Coaching Parents has been a passion of mine for almost 30 years. Several months ago an agency on Linked In the Center for Parenting Education put out a post requesting articles for their website. They asked for articles already published.  I submitted my favorite article. Effective versus Ineffective  Parenting.

It goes live today. Here is the link.

Believe in Parenting!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: Fire Up your Parental Engine!

Shelia Lyon Halls 19 page book is straightforward, direct and candid in the advice she gives to parents of teenagers. Her 8 Transitional Parenting Practices, guide adults into thinking about interactions with their teens. This is a book which many Christian parents will appreciate. However, people of all faiths will also gain insight from her direct communication.

I recommend this book for parents of eight to twelve year old children. Parents can use the ideas to prepare their mindset for the teen years. In addition parents of teens can use these ideas to help them to reposition themselves. Here is a link to the book.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5 Ideas ECE and Elementary Teachers Can Use to Support Parent Engagement at Home

Creating a Parent  Engagement Plan for Teachers

One thing I think teachers can do is to encourage family support for education  at home. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Choose 2 books a month which support  what you are teaching and encourage  parents and children  to read them and discuss  them at home. Allow children extra credit for reporting family impressions in class.
  2. Create take home boxes of family projects which can be taken home and done.
  3. Create homework  projects  where children  need parental support  to complete.  Include detailed instructions  for parents.
  4. Invite parents into your classroom. Make suggestions  for how they can help. Send home family activity  pages which support  class learning.
  5. Make several suggestions of family outings where children can see and engage in enriching activities.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Work/Life Balance an Age Old Concept

Work/Life Balance seems like a new concept. Yet according to an article  written  five years  ago in the Examiner It has been a concept talked about since the beginning of the Industrial  Age in the mid 1800's. We Americans have been struggling with this issue for over 150 years. Work/Life Balance is defined as the balance which should exist between our lives in the work place with our personal and family  life.

As a parent educator I speak with many parents about this issue here are some of my tboughts.

  1. You need time to yourself. We all need time to ourselves to regroup and relax our bodies and minds. If you have to put this time on your calendar. Make this a priority, your  life  has no balance  unless you give to yourself first. This is not selfish you are setting  an example for your children in balancing life and work. 
  2. You need time alone with your spouse. Many parents especially  Mom's make the of failing to keep the relationship between  Mom and Dad on the prior list. Let's be honest without the marriage  the family is broken. Our marriage  is  the foundation  of  the  family  protect  and build on? it.
  3. Each child needs some of your undivided time each day. I believe  each child needs at least 15-45 minutes a day of undivided attention from each adult who lives in the house. This is an important part of relationship  building. Children  need time to talk, listen, and ask questions,  without being interrupted. Adults should be solely  focused  on the child during these times. 
  4. Find work you are passionate  about. One of the most important  aspects of finding work/life balance is enjoying  your  job. Going to a job you dislike is draining and can get deprssing. This makes achieving balance much harder. When you love what you do, the joy of doing it makes you a happier  person. The more content you are the easier it is to maintain balance.
  5. If you must take work home make a plan to  work smarter not harder. Working from home after work  can be a non-negotiable  in some fields. The key to balance here is building it into your routine. For instance, if you need to bring work home. Maybe your routine  is Saturday  mornings while the kids watch cartoons you work until noon. Then if you need more time Sunday between 1:30 and 4:30 pm. While the family naps, watches a movie, etc you work. Allowing for Sunday mornings  and  evenings to be reserved  for  family  time. 
  6. Work on focusing on the now. Be present in the moment you are in fully. Most of us have  a hard time living in the moment.  Yet, this is ultimately  the crux of work /life  balance. Being where you are and being fully committed  to  what you are doing in that moment is what this balancing act is all about.
If you think the above six items are much easier  said than done, then perhaps you can understand why we have been stringing with this for 150 years. Humans often struggle  with  the  issue. Try putting the above habits in place and perhaps  consider making these 6 practices your New Year's Resolution  for 2016. Remember  as a parent it is not just about doing this to have more time with your children. It is about being a living example  for them to follow.

Believe  in Parenting

Just after I wrote this piece. I discovered and #womenwhowork. This site has excellent resources to help women with work/life balance!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Master Parenting Part 6: Authenticity

On October 17, 2015 I was honored to be the Inspire Me Today Luminary my topic was on authentic living. Here is the link, if you read it please leave a comment. Parenting requires authentic living because children can spot quite easily who is not being real. Authenticity is all about aligning your beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions. Living life based solely on what you believe. This is not to say you can not change your mind about what you think and believe. It does mean it is one of the things you talk about doing.

Teaching authentic living requires three things:

  1. Talking about what you believe and think
  2. Explaining to your children about why you think and believe what you do
  3. Living authentically yourself
If you read my blog on patents teaching value this is vey similar.(Here is the link.) Authenticity is a lifelong pursuit. It is challenging because in our world there is more and more pressure towards thinking as the group thinks. Authenticity require we believe and think on an individual level. There is no one who can live authentically on group think!

Master Parenting requires both parents to not only live authentically, but to respect their partners authenticity as well. Whether you are married to your co-parent or not respecting them is an important part of  your team effort to bring up a child who can live in an authentic life. Listening to your children and responding openly and honestly to their thoughts will help them to know what they think and why. 

Here is the hard part given all the same factors your child may come to a different conclusion. It is important you not take this as a rejection of you. Rather seek to understand their reasoning. It may be they have thought of something you missed. However, many times children mistakenly relate two things which do not relate. You need to understand their thought process in order to correct mistaken thinking. If in the end their thinking is sound and you just disagree, encouraging them to live authentically requires you too be accepting, encouraging, and loving though you disagree. This is one of the most difficult parts of parenting because it requires us to back off and let our children be their own person and not our carbon copies. We are raising children to become authentically living adults. This requires us to teach authenticity when they are children.

Believe in Parenting

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November is Education Parent Involvement Month

20 years ago I was an Educational Advocate, I wrote a blog piece in 2013 called the Confessions of an Educational Advocate. Where I gave some tips for parents on becoming advocates. My book Parental Advocacy: Getting you Children through School with Excellence is almost ready for publication. The most important thing for parents to remember is the school you choose is only there to help. Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure your child is well educated. The school is part of your team not the other way around. Here are a few tips for schools and parents.

  • Create spaces for parents in the school. 
  • Parent liaisons should be supportive and not critical of parents and their parenting.
  • Parents need to be welcomed into their children 's classroom period.
  • All school personnel need to respect parents and their role as the only consistent adult in the child's life.
  • Teachers should know each parents preferred method of communication.
  • Great school performance for children require getting into bed by nine pm for children eleven and younger, 10 pm through middle school.
  • Children need protein at breakfast to keep their brains active until lunch.
  • Know your child's teacher preferred method of communication and check in monthly.
  • Attend parent teacher conferences with your own thoughts and questions prepared. Take notes.
  • Create a homework routine at home.
  • Know your child's Multiple Intelligence (here is some info)
  • Plan on your calendar school events and make attending a priority.
  • Talk to your kids on a regular basis about how important education is to you. Be present in school, on field trips when possible, and join in on as many activities for parents at school as possible. This all lets your children see you value their education.
Believe in Parenting