Thursday, February 11, 2016

This mom's actions made me so sad!

I was in Target today and as a preschool teacher, and empty nest mother of four, I tend to notice children.  Today as I was walking through an aisle, there was an adorable little girl who was joyfully asking her mother to come and see the "big robot!" that she had spied in another aisle.  I am guessing she was about three years old.  She was so excited about sharing what she saw with her mother, and her mother's reaction?  Well let's just say it made me so sad...

Her mother was engrossed in reading some tag on a novelty candle.  Even though the little girl asked repeatedly, the mother did not look at her, answer her, engage with her in anyway.  She was completely and 100% ignoring her child.  This was not a split second observation.  I continued to walk through the store and even from across the store I could still here the child sweetly pleading with the mom to come and see this incredibly exciting robot.

Could you imagine if, as a preschool teacher I did that to my students?  Could you imagine if I treated a friend that way?  What gives the parent the right to tune out the words of their child?  What gives a parent the right to disrespect this little life that they created by completely, 100% ignoring her?  Is the mom bored of being a mom?  Is the mom tired of her darling little girl?  

I understand parenting can be taxing.  I get that it can be exhausting and boring and repetitive.  But if you don't see your children as a blessing to your life.  If you can't give them your best self.  If you don't have the energy to think about someone else, and sacrifice for that someone else, and be devoted and caring and loving towards that someone else...don't become a parent.

Parenting requires maturity.  Parenting requires sacrifice.  Parenting is not easy.  Don't become a parent if you aren't committed to being a good one.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gun Violence and Children--What is a parent to do?

As a preschool teacher, and as a mother, I find myself worried about the violence in our society. Often, I feel a sense of powerlessness when I hear about shootings that are happening with alarming frequency in my city/state/country.  I wonder why we are such a gun crazed society that willingly accepts the licensing of our drivers, but radically fights the licensing of our gun owners, requiring gun safety instruction and mental health background checks, and regulating gun sales.  Isn't owning a gun just as much of a responsibility as driving a car?  But I am not a politician.  I am not a powerful lobbyist.  I am not a well connected political insider.  I am just a mom, and a preschool teacher.  So I have decided that there is something I can do.

I can choose to not allow any type of violence in my home or classroom.  I can choose to teach my children and students that violence is never the right answer.  I can choose to not spank my children-- because spanking is using violent means to control another person's behavior.  I can stop my students from playing pretend games of shooting and throwing bombs, and rather encourage them to create things with blocks, paint pictures with their little hands, put on dress up clothes and pretend they are a mommy or firefighter or chef in the kitchen.  I can speak with other parents about the movies we show to our children, and the toys we buy for them.  Hopefully, I can make a difference by asking parents to examine their own homes and toy cabinets along with their attitudes about guns and violence.

Are you glorifying violence in your home?  Or are you teaching your little ones to think and create and dream and believe in a brighter future.  If our generation cannot figure these problems out, maybe our only hope is in our children.  So please raise them to believe that education and creativity and love for one another always trumps violence.  No matter what the toy companies want you to believe.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

3 Parenting Lessons from a Preschool Teacher

My favorite week of the school year was this week!  It is the week after Winter break, and my preschoolers are so happy to be back in school.  It always is such a joy to welcome them back to the fun and security of our classroom.  But why are young children so thrilled to be back in the classroom?  It seems counterintuitive to think they would actually prefer a classroom to time at home to play with their own toys, and have the attention of their own parents and siblings. The reasons are clear to me after many years of teaching...and they are the secrets that parents can benefit from.  If parents take the time to understand these lessons, they can offer their children a happier childhood. Sounds like a pretty big promise, but from years of experience, I can guarantee these lessons are timeless and effective:

LESSON 1:  ROUTINES:  Children thrive on routines.  They understand them.  They feel confident when they understand things.  They feel secure and happy when they know what to expect.

PARENTING ACTION:  Give your child the benefit of following a routine at home.  A daily schedule offers your young child the same benefits that we see at preschool.  Children like to know what their day will look like, what they will be doing, who will be caring for them, where they will be going.  Often times, we parents drag little ones around from here to their and don't realize that they might want or need to know what the day will bring.

LESSON 2:  COMMUNICATION:  Children benefit from spoken language.  Everyday in our classroom, we spend our time talking and listening to our preschoolers.  We ask them questions and encourage them to verbally share their ideas.  We wait for them to "use their words" rather than respond to a pointed finger.  We play games and have "show and tell" where they have to speak in front of their peers.  We celebrate them finding their voices--each at their own pace.  We offer them a safe environment for taking verbal chances.  No one will ignore or laugh at them when they speak. We are eager to communicate with them.

PARENTING ACTION:  The more conversations you have with them, the better--and conversations include listening to them speak back to you.  Research has clearly shown that children who converse with their parents beginning at an early age have higher vocabularies and over time perform better in school.  You are establishing important patterns for your children when you take the time to converse with them.

LESSON 3:  PLAYTIME:  Children need play.  It is their "work".  They learn from it.  They need time to imagine and create and experiment.  This week we had our sand table open and they flocked to it like bees to a garden.  They couldn't stay away.  Next week it might be blocks or the train table or legos.  In any case, they relish playtime.  They want to interact, and create, and enjoy time playing with others.  We have NO ELECTRONICS in our classroom--and they don't ever ask for anything related to online gaming.  They need real experiences...not screen time.

PARENTING ACTION:  Allow time for your children to play.  Dragging them from one activity to the next until they are exhausted is not enriching their lives as much as simple playtime.  They need time to play.  They need playdates with other children or cousins or neighborhood friends.  They need time to pretend and create and relax and imagine and dream.  They do not need more apps on your smart phone.  Value real experiences and steer away from virtual playthings.  Children need real interactions and real experiences.  There will be plenty of time for online experiences later.

Being a preschool teacher is such a joy.  I am so blessed to be able to share moments of happiness and learning with these precious little ones.  I hope that through my observations, you will be inspired to give your little one more of what he/she truly needs.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

How to raise children in a violent world? Here are 19 ways...

There was a shooting in San Bernadino, and Newtown, and Columbine, and Paris and Chicago and on and on and on.  The list is long.  And disturbing.  What are we to do?  How do we raise our children in this violent and frightening world?  The answers are simple.

Meet hatred with love.

Teach peace to our children.

Be hope for the hopeless.

Spread kindness.

Love and care for your family.

Embrace goodness.

Turn your back on Violence and violent messages and guard your children from them.

Count your blessings.

Be generous to others.


When you need it, ask others for help.

Get to know your neighbors.

Do something for someone else.

Create art that inspires peace.

Invest/Spend your money in socially responsible companies that don't see weapons or promote violence.

Reach out to your government leaders to enact common sense gun and weapon laws.

Pray and develop your spiritual life

Resolve to live a life of love, rather than be scared into a life of media promoted paranoia.

Be a solution by being a good human being.

We all can do something.  We all have our gifts and talents to share with the world.  Don't lose hope. Carry on and make it your mission to fight violence and chaos with LOVE and action--in whatever form you have it in you to offer up to our struggling world.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Buying Stuff for your kids won't guarantee Happiness!

Things won't make you happy.  Relationships and experiences are far more valuable.

Our society gives the message that things make us happy.  This falsehood is shoved upon us repeatedly from the day we are born.  We are programmed from a very young age to want more and better and bigger and more expensive.  We are assaulted with advertising and our media outlets barrage us with messages about when and where to shop.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem to get as many mentions on social media as legitimate, calendar based holidays.  And we, parents, get caught up in the current.  Our children make us targets for their wish lists--and we oblige as best we can.  The tragedy in all of this--is that it is based on a basic lie.  Things don't make us happy--at least not in the big picture of it all.  They make us happy in the little picture, immediate gratification picture, fleeting picture.  The picture that fades out when something bigger and better comes along. Giving our children "stuff" makes us feel good in the moment.  Giving our children stuff allows us bask in the temporary glow of their excitement and appreciation.  But that glow is only temporary...and so may be their appreciation--especially if you have never taken the time to teach them gratitude.

This is a cautionary tale.  Some of the most miserable young adults I know, have been given everything they ever wanted.  And the result is either they are hopelessly shallow and narcissistic, or they are never satisfied and directionless.  Or a combination of both.  Being a parent does not mean that you sign a contract to give your child every material thing that they desire.  In fact, being a good parent means withholding things and allowing your child to learn what it feels like to wait and work for something.  If you serve everything up without any struggle, you are robbing your children of feeling the accomplishment when they earn something on their own.  Being a good parent means saying no sometimes.  It is hard to do.  I know.  But it is crucial!

In this holiday season of excess.  Take a moment to think about what is really important to you and your family.  Don't allow yourself to become the mindless, zombie shopper that is hell bent on making each and every one of the items on Santa's list magically appear under the tree.  Reflect on what knowledge would be a gift to your child and his/her successful future and put a plan in place to teach these valuable life lessons.  Thoughtful and intelligent parenting is the best gift you could ever give your child.

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