The idea of guiding a large group of children can send some adults into a cold-sweat panic. What they may have envisioned as an idyllic reading of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” or a thoughtful conversation about the life cycle of the butterfly begins to look more like a full-scale mutiny as serene children on the rug bounce around like popcorn kernels and contribute thoughts to the group discussion that range from what they did on Wednesday (“or maybe that one other day that wasn’t yesterday but wasn’t a long, long time ago…..”), to the dead frog discovered in their driveway, and on to an impromptu performance of a funny commercial they saw this morning.
I’m not the biggest Lord of the Rings fan. I’ll be honest right there. It’s dark and stressful, and that’s just not my idea of a great time.
“I left a baby gift for you on your doorstep. It’s the perfect thing for a mom with four boys.”
My friend mentioned this to me casually as we both worked in our neighbor’s kitchen, preparing refreshments for a wedding.
The “impulsive three-year old” section of my brain wanted to drop what I was doing and immediately run next door to tear open this gift. What could possibly be the perfect baby gift for a mom who had just had her fourth boy? It was even more intriguing to me because this friend is an amazing mom herself. She has seven children, and while I’m sure she has stories that would contradict my accounting, every one of them always seems so well-behaved, so kind, so creative, so smart, and so sweet. She certainly knows a thing or two about motherhood, and so I hoped that this gift was some secret of the trade. A talisman from my Jedi master.
The “responsible adult” section of my brain won out, and I helped out with food for a few more hours before making my way home to find a small wrapped box on my doorstep. I slid my fingers through the tape and pulled out the box.
And started laughing immediately.
Here’s a look at what I found inside:
That binky. I laughed because it was hilarious, but I also laughed at myself for thinking the gift would be so serious. [Read more…]
As I wrapped up the Read Along of Rae Pica’s book, What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children’s Lives (affiliate link), I intended to do a typical Q&A follow up with Rae.
Q&A sessions can feel a little like an out of body experience.
The mystery of the disappearing recess, is not an uncommon topic of discussion in elementary education. The majority of adults remember a morning recess, a lunch recess, and an afternoon recess. I think most Americans would hazard a guess and say that there is probably less time devoted to recess today than in years gone by.
Maybe you’ve noticed the latest trend in the running commentary on parenting. “Parents today are too soft. They’re raising spoiled kids who’ve never heard the word “NO”. Parents need to show their kids who’s in control here.”
While I’m sure you could find plenty of examples to validate each perspective, I tend to wince a bit whenever I hear these tendencies to frame parenting in the extremes. Take in enough of these stories and it would seem that as a parent, you have two choices. You can either be a spineless push-over or a heavy-handed dictator. But the truth of the matter is that we know from research that the majority of kids thrive in that sweet spot in between. [Read more…]
Everyone will agree that we want to keep children safe. Despite all the other things that might divide us, we all want to protect our children. The trick is in agreeing on HOW we should protect children.
In 2005, Dr. Walter Gilliam, a researcher from Yale University, released a study examining the expulsion rates of preschoolers. That’s right — expulsion. As in kicked out. Dr. Gilliam found that in his large, nationally representative sample of prekindergarten programs, preschoolers were being expelled at THREE TIMES the rate of students in grades K-12.
Are preschoolers really three times as difficult as their older counterparts?
I don’t think so.
There are many factors that contribute to this elevated rate of expulsions. Gilliam outlined several in a presentation he made at an NAEYC conference in 2009. All deserve our consideration as we create quality early childhood programs, but two in particular catch my attention. [Read more…]
When I first read Rae Pica’s piece, What if Everybody Understood Child Development?, as it was shared in the Huffington Post a few years ago, I wanted to hold up a printed copy and shout from my rooftop: “THIS! THIS is what needs to change!”
And now, there is a printed copy. Along with 28 similar essays. And so, here I am on my social media rooftop, sharing it with all of you.