Mom’s Day Lunch

You know the school year is nearing the end when our class hosts our annual Mom’s lunch.  Our school has an open door policy and friends and family can visit and spend time in the classroom any time they like but our special Mom’s lunch is the one they look forward to the most.

For about two week before the big day, the class is busy preparing special items for their Mom’s.  The highlight of the goodies comes in the form of a Mom’s portrait, a Mom’s dolls and keepsake box.

You can tell the children are interested and engaged in these projects because of the on topic chatter and the attention to detail in their Mom’s portaits.  The Mom’s dolls were also amazing.  The dolls are actually quite complicated and use multi-step directions from cutting out the doll form, to adding clothing, drawing appropriate facial features, gluing down hair and adding a monogramed necklace.  Each one is an original piece of art.  The last project entails making a keepsake box to hold special treasures.

Our school is lucky enough to have involved parents and each child had a Mom take the time from their day to come to class.  The children were out of control with excitment but eventually we made our way to the tables were everyone enjoyed eating together.

Our children are so lucky to have parents that care about them and you can feel the love.  It was a great day!

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Whose dream is it anyway?

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Yesterday I received a text from one of my very dear friends and she wanted to know if I had a picture of our two daughters when they took ballet together when they were around 5 years old.  When she asked my first response was, “I doubt it” since I did not record a lot of childhood memories as the iPhone wasn’t invented yet and my camera abilities were zero to none.  But, I told her I’d look.

I pulled out my version of a photo album.  It is basically a 3 ring binder that houses a big loose pile of pictures in between two covers.  There I sat looking through some of the old good times our family had together.  There were a few pictures of a much younger me, my husband and our beloved Border Collie, Jake, along with a pretty good progression of the early years of my children.

After more rummaging, I saw a glimpse of pink.  I pulled the picture from the pile and lo and behold, there it was.  A dark photo of my daughter and her friend in pink leotards. It was nostalgic, for sure.

After one session of ballet, my daughter was completely over it.  It wasn’t in her nature to be pink and frilly and she did not want to do anything that even remotely resembled being lithe and graceful. Eventually, she exchanged her tutu for a soccer ball.

Not in the cards for this girl!

Not in the cards for this girl!

In the early years, it is important to expose children to many different types of activities and I can confidently say I’m an expert in this area.  Within the past 5 years, my son participated in football, skateboarding, basketball, soccer, wakeboarding, and 2 more visits to soccer and basketball and in that process, he opted to break 8 bones.  Not an ideal situation, but those experiences are now a part of his make-up and he loves to tell his war stories.

My point is, let children explore all avenues of extracurricular activities.  See what they like and what they excel in.  During my days on the soccer field there was persistent chatter from parents bragging about how fabulous a player their child was and how they will only play for a Div. 1 school.  That is all fine and dandy if that is what your child wants not you.

A good rule of thumb is to check-in with reality and your child once in a while to re-evaluate whose dream it is to become the next prima ballerina or World Cup soccer star.

Children have the gift of time to test their likes and dislikes in extracurricular activities.  Why not let them be the star of their own show.

Social Training Wheels

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I’m obsessed with the book, The Pressured Child, by Michael Thompson, Ph.D.  If I wouldn’t be cited with plagiarism, I’d just scan the entire book and post it.  There is that much useful information.  The book gears itself more toward the beginning elementary through high school parent/student but it is very easy to see useful information for all stages.  As an educator, this is an invaluable resource.

I believe the crux of this book is about coping and social development.  Most of us already know that socialization begins at birth and it becomes more complex as we move forward in life.

Preschool is the training wheels for getting on the big boy/girl bike.  It is in this environment that children learn how to navigate in the simplest of social settings.  Learning the ABC’s of social interaction dominates the day for young children and the hardest thing for parents to understand is that children think differently than we do.  When children congregate in school, talking, touching, and reassuring one another, they are practicing their social skills with as much intensity as an orchestra practices a complex piece of music.  Social development amounts to a kind of symphony of its own and if you want to play with the orchestra, you’ve got to know how to read the music. (Thompson, 2004. pg. 59)

As parents, I know, at times, it is hard to see your child going through a rough patch on the social front and that is when you most want to spring into protective mode.  Please try to take the opportunity and use it as a teaching tool – instill confidence in your child that they are “cool” just the way they are and if being rejected by one child remember that there are other children in the classroom who would be lucky and want to have him/her as a friend.

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a renowned developmental psychologist and one of the co-founders of Head Start. He developed a bioecological model that provides the whole picture of the developing child. You can read more about his theory here. Another great theorist was Eric Erickson and if interested in learning about his 8 Stages of Human Development you can learn more about it here. I believe that both psychologists provide easy to understand theory’s on why people behave in certain ways and how they socially develop through life.

My children are almost grown and I see how complex the relationships are in the social jungle of high school.  Teaching children early coping social strategies will help benefit their overall ability to become bright, empathetic and great kids later on.

xox

 

 

 

Have you filled a Bucket Today?

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The first day of school and then again about once a month thereafter, I introduce the book, Have you filled a Bucket Today – a Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by author Carol McCloud.  This book was given to me several years ago by a parent that used it at home with her own children and thought it would make a great addition to the classroom.  Actually, I believe she bought a copy of the book for every class so the children begin learning about being Bucket Fillers or Bucket Dippers from an early age.

If you are not already familiar with the story, it shows how everyone in the world carries an invisible bucket and by being nice and doing small kindnesses for someone they “fill up their bucket” with good feelings.  However, if you are unkind or hurtful to someone, you become a Bucket Dipper and take away the good feeling that person is carrying around with them.  It’s a simple concept that is easy for children and adults to carry out and understand.

After reading the story, we usually brainstorm ideas on being Bucket Fillers.

bucket filler suggestions

As children grasp the idea of being Bucket Fillers, I  introduce the Bucket Filler Note.

bucket filler note

Throughout the day and without prompting, a child can come up and tell me something they did  that helped a classmate.  I write it on a Bucket Filler note and hold it until the end of the week where we read all the notes out loud.  This is actually one of the best parts of this idea because there is a lot of clapping, congratulating and whooping as I read each child’s note.  Finally, the notes find a place taped to the classroom door.

We’ve used this system since August and the door is half way full of Bucket filler notes.  I forgot to take a photo but will post one once I can get a decent inside shot with my iPhone.

Another great book I use is The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper and illustrated by Gabi Swiatowska.  The illustrations in this book are so soft and soothing that the children love to read it over and over.

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