Holidays, Cultural Sensitivity, and a Chance to Fall on My Face

They say you should do something that scares you every now and then.  Something outside of your comfort zone.

I was so there this past week.

I was invited to be on a discussion panel for Rae Pica’s BAM! Radio show, Studentcentricity.  I was surprised and flattered to be invited, but radio is a new medium for me.

It scared me a little.

Then I found out the topic: Cultural Sensitivity During the Holidays.  A topic that is so important, but also a potential minefield of controversy.  Since I tend to prefer the sweet spot between extreme opinions on most issues, that essentially means I have plenty of opportunities to offend everyone equally.  Throw in the fact that I could very easily misspeak in my effort to be concise for this fast-moving format, and I was sweating bullets. Continue reading


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Filed under Celebrate!, Child Development & DAP, Uncategorized

Flexibility and Consistency: Why I’m OK with “Sometimes”


As I sat filling out the teacher information sheet for the specialist, I struggled for precise words to describe what the challenge was.  His parents were looking for help, and I was suppose to offer a teacher’s perspective, but how could I put it all on two tiny lines?  And then the word I was looking for popped into my mind.  He struggled with flexibility.  His mind was often rigid, and when experience didn’t match up with expectation, he melted down and could not be moved from his position.

I’m sure there are many ways this strong personality will help him in his future.  While this rigidity may be a challenge at times, it also helps when pursuing goals and overcoming obstacles.  I’ve seen some of the same qualities in one of my own boys.  I’ve even seen it in myself.

But my rigid thinking threatened my life. Continue reading



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First Friday Q&A: How do I teach my child to read?

I’ve had many people ask me how to teach children to read.  Whether it’s a parent who doubts knowing enough to help her child through the process, or a teacher who worries that he’s pushing past the bounds of developmentally appropriate practice, there are many who wonder exactly how to get the job done well.

First Friday 11

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Filed under Building Readers, Uncategorized

Parenting with an Audience and Dealing with Guilt (Psst: We’re all a little insecure.)


I remember that Sunday almost 8 years ago.  My family was settled in on a bench for a church service, a fantastic feat in and of itself, considering our 2 very young, very lively boys around ages 2 and 3 1/2 (details during those years are a bit hazy for obvious reasons).  In that phase Sunday church service was often a futile exercise in just keeping our boys in the ballpark of socially appropriate.  (OK, honestly we usually aim for the same goal these days.)  Just a few notches below a toddler-sized mosh pit. We were never the perfect row of quiet angels, and that was OK, but this Sunday was different, and I was stressed out about it.

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Filed under Child Development & DAP, Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

6 Tips for Using Photography to Document Childhood at School or at Home

Hello, friends!

I want you to meet someone who truly inspires me.  Beryl Young is a fantastic photographer and an amazing person.  She asked how she might be able to help out readers of Not Just Cute, and I suggested that both parents and teachers have a desire to use photography to document — both for memory-keeping and for communication — but are often overwhelmed by the process. 

Beryl is a master at taking (and teaching about taking) high-quality photos that capture experiences with as much authenticity as beauty, and her teaching style is both simple and relatable. 

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Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, Uncategorized

Spinach and Easter Grass: Revisiting a First Friday Q&A


In last month’s First Friday Q&A, I talked about why quality preschool is so valuable, with the caveat that hanging a shingle that says PRESCHOOL and congregating with children, is not enough to qualify for the benefits early education has shown in established studies.

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Filed under Child Development & DAP, Learning through Play and Experience, Uncategorized

Hands Free, Heart Full


I sat in the shallow end of the pool, shadowing my toddler as I watched my older boys take their turns on the water slide.  We would need to go home soon, so I was calling to each one as they surfaced from their plunge and giving them a 5 minute warning.

One boy, one reminder.  (I could tell a man nearby was watching the exchange.)

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Filed under Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

Allowing Children to Bloom in Season


My grandmother had a very green thumb.  As my grandfather toiled away at getting alfalfa fields to grow and cows to give milk in a high desert climate, she turned their front yard into an explosion of color and scent.  There were bright California poppies, delicate bleeding heart bushes, a huge swath of daisies, roses that were fuller and brighter than anything at the store, fascinating four o’clocks, little purple pansies (which she loved to sing about), and my favorites: the lilac and snowball bushes.

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Filed under Building Readers, Child Development & DAP, Uncategorized