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


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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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Education and Diet: Getting Ready For School

As school starts back we are all thinking about what we can do to support kids and their learning. Education is about learning; learning is about being able to put information into your brain that you can later access and use. So, it makes sense to ensure brain health. Two of the most important things about brain health are hydration and diet. Hydration because our brain is made up of mostly water and it take water for our brains to properly work and access things like memory and problem-solving. Diet because the foods we eat either has nutrients and minerals which feed our bodies or not and the food simply keeps us from being hungry. 


Back in the day people were told it is best to drink eight eight ounce glasses of water a day. This worked mainly because the average woman in the US weighed 120 pounds. So, on averaged it worked. Now, that Americans come in all shapes and sizes the recommendation has changed.

  • Drink half your body weight in ounces each day.
  • Drink this in water and add other drinks too.

 Though there is a school of thought which says you can get your ounces from other sources such as juices, sports drinks, or vitamin water. It is my opinion you should drink these above your water intake. The exception for me is coconut water. Though there is no clear scientific evidence that coconut water is good for hydration. However, I personally saw how my mother's drinking of coconut water effected her hydration while on chemotherapy. Without it she was in and out of the hospital with low hydration getting intravenous fluid. Drinking coconut water she was at home and well hydrated. 


Did you know it is possible to eat everyday and still be starving depending on what you eat.

Most processed food (boxed, bagged, microwaveable) has been processed to remove the nutrients. Food scientist have worked to create synthetic nutrients to replace those lost from the food. However, it is not really known how well the body processes these pseudo-nutrients. Therefore, no one is really sure that these products are good for our bodies. Whole locally grown food is still the best way to eat. I recommend your local farmers market, it is where you can not only know where your food came from but also you can talk to the people who grew it.  

My two favorite grocery stores:

  • Aldi's
  • Trader Joe's
These two chains are owned by the same family. I will say they are not extremely fancy nor do they carry a lot. But, what they do carry is generally healthy, organic foods which are healthier to eat. When I realized Aldi's carried juice boxes which were 100% juice with no sugar added. I was excited. They also sell organic bananas. However, they only sell produce in season, you will not find some things you are looking for. Which means you will have to shop other places for somethings. I can also say these stores are very economical. I can usually buy almost 1/3-2/3 more groceries at these stores verses a larger chain.

If you want to buy whole foods which are better for you I suggest you check them out. 

As I did some quick internet research I found several foods which support brain health. They included:

  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rosemary
  • Blueberries
  • Avocados
  • Egg Yolks
  • Turmeric
I found this great article by Dr. Axe called 15 Foods to Boost Focus and Memory The article not only tells you what the foods are, but why they boos brain health and then give a recipe for each food. This school year  you can help your children and yourself by boosting the mount of these foods in your diet. Try giving your children avocado toast with boiled eggs on top for breakfast. Or smoked salmon on cucumber slices with salt, pepper, and lemon juice as a dressing. Get creative! Eating these foods should help.

So, this school year help your children boost their focus and memory keep them hydrated and well fed. This is the foundation  of getting and keeping your kids doing well in school.

Believe in Parenting

Monday, July 30, 2018

Play the Textbook of Early Childhood

As a professional trainer  of other early educators one of my duties has been to train others on the importance of three things. 

  1. The Classroom Environment
  2. Observation--Techniques and Recording 
  3. Play
Of these three things the most difficult for educators and parents to accept as valuable is the play. It is because we see plat as entertainment something to do to amuse ourselves in order to pass the time. Whether it is words with friends, candy crush, cards, or board games we see play as an extra curricular activity. Yet in Early Childhood Education(ECE)  nothing could be further from the truth.

The classroom environment is in fact the textbooks of the ECE classroom. Play is a child's study and observation, the metric of measurement of what is being learned. Learning in early childhood is a series of observation, processing, asking questions in a series of ever growing cycles. Play is a child's way of practicing, processing, and understanding the things they are learning about the world. Here is an example.

When I was a graduate student I observed in the three year old room. During center time (a time when children are divided into smaller groups and play either alone or with others depending on the activity.). I was observing Abby. Abby opted to go into the housekeeping area. When she got there Jimmy was at the stove pretending to make bacon and eggs. She dressed in heels, a dress, a boa, a big floppy hat, and sunglasses. She told Jimmy I am going out and will see you later. She went to the snack area and ate, went to talk with the teacher, sat down and drew a picture, then went over to watch a couple of children playing in the block area. She then approached the housekeeping area with a very loudly said, "Honey, I'm home." After more than 20 years I still love this story. It shows exactly what I am talking about. Abby showed her understanding of her Mom leaving the house and coming home. She probably still wondered where her Mom went when she left the house. But, she  took the things she understood about her Mom getting ready and leaving the house, along with coming home. She created her own aspect of running errands and then using the statement her Mom used when she returned home as she entered the  center again. I later told her Mom the story and she laughed saying that is exactly how she does it, at home , she never leaves the house without her heels because being 4'7" meant she needed the extra height to navigate easier in the world.

In this time of play Abby took the time to explore what it meant to leave the house and run errands.  She took what she had observed her Mom doing and acted it out in order to understand more about the world around her. Her teacher asked her an open ended question to help her dig a little deeper into her explorations. "Does your Mom ever bring things home when she runs errands?" Anna thought for a moment and said, "groceries". But, the look on her face suggested she had more thinking to do. The early childhood classroom is set up to help children to continue the process of thought.

One of the things I find most interesting in this process is listening to children as they play especially as they play alone. Because they often think out loud. Their biology has not yet progressed to the point that thought is internal, they literally think out loud. Teachers move around the room listening to children's "thought-speak" and ask ope-ended questions to get kids to think more and deeper about their observations. This is why play is so important for young children. It is not just about entertainment for them. It is about using an environment they can manipulate and control to work through their observations of the world around them. Allowing them to build the foundation upon which all of their other learning is based upon. Learning about themselves, what they are able to do. Learning about what Dad does when he cooks. What Mom does when she runs errands. What Grandpa does out in the shed with his tools. How to walk a line, jump, throw, make friends, put their coats on by themselves and the many other things a child needs to know how to do in order to develop into a fully functioning person. So, the next time you hear a parent say I love the center, but all they do is play all day. Please understand and share your knowledge that it is exactly what young children need!

Believe in Parenting

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

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!