Another year is getting ready to close. It must be true that the older you get, the faster the years go by. This past one is almost a blur. (I suppose that could also be due to the sleep deprivation that accompanied this year’s “adventures”.)
2015 has been a wild, crazy, and wonderful for me and my family. I so appreciate you being a part of my year and allowing Not Just Cute to be a part of yours.
Here’s a review of some of the highlights for Not Just Cute this year, and some exciting news about what’s to come in 2016.
In no particular order, here are the top five posts from 2015:
Allowing Children to Bloom in Season
“But imagine forcing every bud open on the exact same date because of a somewhat arbitrary decision that all flowers should bloom exactly then. We’re left with more harm than help. It’s the defeated child equivalent of a withered, wrinkly, forced bloom. We interrupted them in their season of growth, and stopped them from doing what they were meant to do, when they were meant to do it. Anxiety, comparison, and competition encouraged us to force open the bloom rather than nourish the roots and stems, building the critical, foundational skills when they were needed.”
Sometimes the Best Parenting Advice is the Simplest
“We’ll mess up as parents, they’ll mess up as kids. Making mistakes is part of the process for both sides of this equation. The object of parenting isn’t to avoid the occurrence of all conflict, but to handle it in healthy ways. If we make it clear to our kids that we love them, not just when life is easy, but also when it’s a challenge. If we show that love in every way that we know how– whether they acknowledge that love to us or not– that love will make a world of difference in the long run.”
A Love Letter for Early Childhood Teachers: You Are So Valuable
“There is plenty of academic evidence that the work of a good teacher is not just cute, and not just marginally skilled, but very influential and extremely critical. And I love geeking out on the research. But I don’t actually need it when I tell teachers they matter. Because I see it right in front of my own eyes.”
Noticing the Seeds: A Mantra for Parents Who Feel They Haven’t Accomplished Anything Today
“It’s not a tally of daily harvests that matters, but the accumulation of seeds planted day in and day out. In fact, much like the early childhood philosophy of art, in the day-to-day work of parenting it’s most often the process that matters more than the product. Not just what we got done, but how we did it. It’s not a ledger of the number of diapers changed, meals made, soccer players shuttled, whys answered, or fights intervened,but it’s an accounting of how we do what we do, and what we teach as we do it.”
Parenting with an Audience and Dealing with Guilt (Psst: We’re all a little insecure.)
“I’ve never met a parent who feels like he or she has too much time or too much energy. It’s a shame to waste either trying please people whose opinions really don’t matter. Rather than a stadium full of spectators in your imaginary audience, make room for a select few at a conference table. A place for constructive discussion, not detached voyeurism. This doesn’t mean we only listen to people who will say what we want to hear, but we also have to recognize we simply don’t have the bandwidth to entertain every parenting opinion in the universe. There just aren’t enough seats at this table. Valuable advice comes from people with whom we have a relationship of trust and who share from a place of empathy and support, rather than judgement and shame. Those are the only people we can afford to save seats for.”
Most Popular Speaking/Trainings
This year I have had the tremendous privilege again of working with some truly amazing and inspiring people at early childhood conferences and trainings. These experiences were certainly highlights in my year.
My most popular presentations this year included:
Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Why We Don’t Push Kids Down the Stairs
This presentation focuses on societal trends pushing curriculum and expectations further and further down to our youngest children. Rooted in the belief that these changes have been made with the best of intentions, but not the best information, this presentation works to lay out the facts of how children are meant to learn and why respecting the process of development is always appropriate.
In it, I talk about the importance of recognizing childhood as valid and valuable, laying an appropriate and solid foundation for early learning, and avoiding the too-much-too-soon approach to childhood. This is a call to action presentation, helping others to use facts to fight fear, and stand up for children and childhood.
This is my favorite keynote to give– I’m just so passionate about it. And I can tell from the response I get from audiences that there are many others who are just as passionate about it and anxious to have this message articulated and shared.
Not Just Cute: Powerful Play
There is no shortage of good ideas in this Pinterest-driven world, but what we may lack is purpose. In this day long workshop, teachers learn how (and why!) to teach with intention by learning the Recognize-Emphasize-Maximize method. We talk about why playing and learning are not mutually exclusive and how we can teach children the way they were meant to learn. Teachers leave with the information they need to create and support an intentional, playful learning environment, and also how to articulate the purpose and value of each type of play going on in their room to parents and administrators.
I love watching the lights come on as teachers work through this information and these activities and discuss their perspectives. This training is so exciting to be a part of!
I’ve made space in my calendar for one traveling engagement per month for 2016. Several of those spots are already taken. If you are interested in having me speak at an upcoming event or provide a training for your group, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
News for 2016!
2016 promises to hold plenty of new adventures and new “best of” lists to compile. But one highlight is already a sure thing.
Our Read Along book for 2016 will be Rae Pica’s What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children’s Lives (affiliate link). Having read Rae’s article with a similar title a few years back, I knew this book would be fantastic, and it doesn’t disappoint!
Referring to that article and the subsequent writing of this book, Rae wrote:
“In April 2013, I wrote a piece for Huffington Post called “What If Everybody Understood Child Development?” because I was fed up with the many ridiculous actions taken against children in the name of education or safety. What if all administrators, policymakers, educators, and parents really understood children — how they develop and what can be expected of them at certain stages? Surely children’s lives would be so much better! Surely their education would be greatly improved…..The need for a basic understanding of children and developmentally appropriate practice has never been greater.”
(Anyone else feel the urge to stand up and shout “amen”?)
This is a wonderful, concise book addressing the challenges facing childhood today. From too-much-too-soon, to preserving the arts and recess, this book uses short, direct essays to focus on the hot issues of today. It’s perfect for busy readers who still want something of substance, and would be fabulous fodder for discussions at regular staff trainings.
I’ll post the reading schedule on Friday and will start covering the chapters later in January, so pick up your copy from this Amazon affiliate link and jump in.
What made it to your highlight reel for 2015? What does 2016 hold in store for you?
Top photo by Carlos Andrés Reyes.
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