Big Kids on the Playground

I typically write about the early childhood realm.  That’s where my professional expertise is.  But as my own kids grow, I’m beginning to make some interesting observations about the span of childhood.

While my youngest two boys are still in the early childhood years, my oldest two are solidly in the school age years.  (My oldest, in fact, seems intent on flirting with becoming a “tween”, which is puzzling to me, since I recall birthing him just yesterday.)

I’m starting to notice some of the perspectives and attitudes about “big kids” from a new vantage point. Just yesterday, my husband and I were talking about observations we’ve made as we’ve watched interactions in public playspaces.  Not always, but sometimes, there seems to be almost an air of irritation when the big kids show up.

kids at play Continue reading



Filed under Child Development & DAP, Uncategorized

Weekend Reads 3.20.15

budsWelcome Spring!


(Some of the most popular posts from my Facebook feed this week!)

Try Kindness First {Steady Mom}

“Think back to a time when you were feeling your most fragile and vulnerable–has harshness ever helped you smooth over inner rough places?”

The Vital Importance of a Strong Foundation {Not Just Cute}

One from my own archives: It’s not “just” play, and it’s not “just” art, and it’s not “just” story time. This is the Continue reading


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March Madness and What Time Outs Should REALLY Look Like

Ah, March Madness!  It’s a fun extended family tradition in our house, connecting siblings and cousins across generations and across the US as we share our best guesses (and a lot of random selections) in our personal brackets.  All for bragging rights, and maybe some free ice cream.

We got our boys in on the action this year, with our ten year-old checking out the ranking system (coupled with some of his personal team loyalties), our eight year-old comparing team colors, our five year-old showing we may need to brush up on our Geographic awareness as he selected “Virgeorgia” as one of his teams, and our two year-old showing a clear penchant for the underdog, selecting a #10 team to take it all home.  (I guess that’s what happens when you fill out the bracket with a series of “this or that” questions.)

Filling out the brackets as a family made for some questionable life lessons, such as my husband’s comment that, “You don’t have to make a good choice, you just have to make a choice.”  But one of the lessons March Madness always brings to my mind is the importance of a good coach and what time outs should really look like.

Trust me.  It really does have something to do with child development.  (Incidentally, this basketball analogy may be the post most frequently referred from wives to husbands.  Go figure.) Continue reading


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Filed under Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

The Boy Who Spoke to The Earth — Dreamling Books

There is something about a good picture book that really gets me really excited.  It makes me want to tell everyone about it immediately.   (OK, honestly it makes me want to purchase it immediately, then it makes me want to tell everyone about it.) That’s what happened when I laid eyes on the first book presented by Dreamling Books, The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth.

Maybe it was the gorgeous pictures — amazing illustrations by Disney Interactive artist David McClellan, mimicking the stunning photography style of the author, adventure photographer Chris Burkard.

Maybe it was the message: to slow down, enjoy the journey, and breathe in the beauty all around you.

Whichever it was that hit first, it was the combination that reminded me of so many moments when I’ve suddenly realized that the grandeur of nature has enveloped me.  You know, that moment where something stirs inside of you? Continue reading



Filed under Building Readers, Get Outside, Learning through Play and Experience, Uncategorized

Weekend Reads 3.6.15

Typewriter(I’m still giddy about this vintage typewriter I scored at Goodwill last week!)


(Some of the most popular posts from my Facebook feed this week!)

Elementary School Dumps Homework and Tells Kids to Play Instead {DNAinfo}

‘In response to DNAinfo’s inquiries, Hsu released a statement defending the new homework policy — insisting that the playtime, conversations with relatives and unstructured reading was key to education.

“We are excited that we are redefining the landscape of homework — but we are certainly not eliminating homework,” Hsu said.

“We are creating opportunities for students and their families to engage in activities that research has proven to benefit academic and social-emotional success in the elementary grades. We look forward to seeing the positive impact our newly-designed homework options will have on our students and their families.”’

Responses that Work with Children {Carrots are Orange} Continue reading


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Sometimes the Best Parenting Advice is the Simplest

Simple Advice

I’ve spent a lot of time reading, writing, and teaching about positive parenting.  It’s not all selfless professionalism, of course.  I’m a mom to four awesome boys.  Four awesome boys who make my heart explode with happiness.  And four awesome boys who sometimes make my head explode with craziness.

No one gets out of parenthood challenge-free.  And so, I — and many other parents I know — spend a lot of time reading up on the latest advice and all the oldest tricks in the book.  Anything to help us feel like we just might be getting the hang of this parenting gig.

I’ve read (and written) pages upon pages of well laid out and even complicated theories on development and parenting.  I’ve picked up tool upon tool from hours of studying and training.  I value every opportunity for learning and growth — even the ones that come in the form of challenges.

And yet, I find that some of the very best tools for parenting are some of the simplest.  I don’t regret hours of hitting the books, attending conferences, or sitting in university classes, but intertwined with that learning shines the simplicity of truths I’ve learned from a variety of sources: professors and experts, yes, but also friends, family, and life itself.

Here are a few of the top pieces of parenting advice that just happen to be some of the simplest. Continue reading



Filed under Positive Guidance and Social Skills

Positive Guidance Tools: Redirection

Challenging child behavior comes from a variety of causes (you can read more about how to get to the root of those causes here).  Because the causes are so varied, we have to have a variety of tools at the ready to help us respond appropriately.  Just as Bob Vila carries more than just a hammer in his tool belt for addressing the variety of challenges presented in a home, parents and teachers need more than one tool for responding to behavior.

when all you have is a hammer

In my ecourse, Parenting with Positive Guidance, I teach 10+ tools for building positive discipline — the type of discipline that encourages both positive behavior and healthy relationships.  Here is an introduction to one of my favorite tools: Redirection. Continue reading



Filed under Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

On My Bookshelf

In the interest of full disclosure, this post really should be called “On My iPhone”.  I go through most of my books by listening on Audible .*  I pay a monthly membership to have someone read to me while I drive, cook, clean, run, or fold laundry because I find I have a lot more of that time available than I have sitting down and reading quietly time.  As a bonus, I find I’m much more eager to cook, clean, fold laundry, etc. if I am deep into a book!  So it’s a win-win.  I don’t fall asleep (which often happens when I sit down to read–I blame motherhood) and my household tasks get taken care of with less grumbling from me!  Also on the topic of full disclosure, all links with an asterisk indicate an affiliate link.


You’ve probably noticed that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time writing in December and January.  I did, however, spend a lot of time reading.  Or at least, I spent a lot of time cleaning and moving (*again*), which for me, equals a lot of time listening to books!  Here are a few of my favorite recent reads.

The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism* by Kristine Barnett

This book was fascinating!  And while this memoir centers around the author’s son and their family’s journey with autism, Barnett points out very clearly that this book and her philosophy of finding and feeding a child’s spark is not unique to children with autism.  It’s a message for all children and all parents:  Find the spark.  Celebrate it.  Feed it.  And don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail.  This book was really inspiring to me both as a parent and an educator. Continue reading



Filed under Quick Thought / Hot Topic