I feel like I hit the jackpot at the library last time we visited. Chasing a 3-year-old around the stacks doesn’t leave me much time to be really choosy about the books I pick for her. I usually grab what looks interesting from the displays the librarians set out. They did a grand job this last time! So I thought I’d share the gems I (they) found. Read the rest of this entry
An old crone with no eyes takes in a princess who later goes on a search for said eyes and brings them back only to find the crone dead so she keeps them in a jar to watch over her. Some parents abandon their children in the woods to let them be devoured or starve to death. Evil Queens plot and talking animals give quests. And scariest of all (to me) a house on chicken legs houses a child eating witch.
Why do we read such things to our children? I’ll tell you why! They are simply magical. I grew up reading fairy tales (boy do I remember the ones about Baba Yaga!) and enjoyed them. I have read them to my children. But I don’t think I recognized their power until recently. Deciding to send my daughter to a Waldorf inspired school has brought them more to my attention. In a Waldorf school fairy tales have a large part to play and I’ve wondered why. Why just fairy tales and not other stories?
Think back. Waaaaay back. Back when there was no paper or at least when the common person didn’t have paper. Storytelling was entertainment, but also more than that. All around the world, people would gather around a fire, inside or out, winter or summer, and tell stories. Stories about their beginnings, stories about their experiences, stories about their dreams. Alot of these stories had commonalities. A Hero/Heroine, some struggle, magical qualities, a reformation. Why did people tell stories? Just for entertainment?
Sharifa Oppenhiemer says in her book Heaven on Earth “Through the use of story, we can give our children powerful tools necessary to make sense of their lives. Stories offer our children examples of solutions for the difficulties they will encounter as they grow and develop. They also image for our children various qualities of character that will aid them in these difficulties. these images can lay a foundation of strength for a lifetime.” Not only are fairy tales enjoyable (which they certainly are!) but through them our children can learn and experience a wealth of things in a safe place.
In the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne he tells a story of a mother and her 6 year old daughter who came in to see him because of a hard situation they were in. The mother had a very ill brother who lived a ways away and she had been going to visit him often for 5 days at a time. The daughter was terribly angry with her mother, not only for leaving but for being sad. The mother said she had told her daughter the truth about her uncle, she didn’t want to make up some story about her being gone. He replied “Yes, she deserves both the truth and stories. But she needs more stories now, to help her with the truth.” He then suggested that she tell stories about someone in a scary situation who finds a way out. Though a little miffed at the prescription of “fairy tales” the mother tried it and said the stories soothed her daughter and they made this hard time easier for her.
I have been worried at times that some of the stories might be too scary for my daughter. Of course you will want to wait on some stories and tell kinder ones to your 3-4year olds, ones mostly about the world in which we live. Having said this, you may be surprised by your children’s reactions. My 6 year old loves the scary ones, and has never had nightmares about them. S. Oppenheimer says “Fairy Tales characteristically state a problem in clear, unmistakable terms. The plot is laid out simply, and the characters are drawn in bold, unambiguous strokes-the evil queen is, truly, evil incarnate, the youngest son has a pure and golden heart. At this point, the child needs to see the various ‘qualities’ of the human soul laid out in understandable terms, personifies in the different figures in the tale. We see opposite qualities laid side by side: one sister is virtuous and industrious, the other lazy and cunning.”
I love reading fairy tales with my kids and making some up with them too! Truly, there is nothing so entertaining (and educational!) as a well told story. I end with a quote from Albert Einstein.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Parenting. What do you think of when you read the word? For me, it depends on the day. Or even the minute. One thing, however, I always seem to feel is a great responsibility. Sometimes it still blows my mind to think that these 3 small people have been placed in MY care. The knowledge that I (and my hubby of course :)) are the people these kids look to for a model on which to base their life is motivating, to say the least. So I have done alot of research. ALOT of research. There are times when I am reading a book and getting all these great ideas and then I look up out of the book at my kids and think, ” I should probably BE parenting, not just reading about it!” All of this research has led to alot of different ideas and I’ve had to wade my way through with alot of prayer to find out what is right for us. What I have found is what I wanted to talk about today, although it is for sure still a work in progress. Fine tuning is happening always, and some things work for some kids and ages and not for others. I’ve read before that you should pick one strategy and go with it and not change so as not to confuse your kids. I agree to some extent, but I also think if what you are doing has negative effects on your children, or you, or is not working- go ahead a try something else! Attachment parenting has been what feels right to me. For those who would like to know more I present…..
1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Mostly this one deals with educating yourself on all aspects of pregnancy and birth. They urge, and I agree with them, that you should follow your instincts and ask questions about everything. For me this meant striving to have as few “interventions” as possible; following natural childbirth as close as I could. One thing I didn’t do but would consider next time is having a doula as well as my midwife there.
2. Feed with Love and Respect
Breastfeeding on demand, gentle weaning, and introducing solids slowly. The picture for this section on their web page shows mothers feeding toddlers and babies at the same time. While I have never done that (i weaned my kids at 14, 15, & 16 months) I fully support people who do! I also believe in taking your cues from your baby about when to wean and doing so gently over many months.
3. Respond with Sensitivity
Crying is a way for babies to tell us what they need. I believe in responding to that crying and not ignoring it. I love what API says on their website:
Needs and the Benefits of Responding with Sensitivity
- Babies’ brains are immature and significantly underdeveloped at birth, and they are unable to soothe themselves
- Through the consistent, repeated responsiveness of a compassionate adult, children learn to soothe themselves
- Understand your child’s natural inner rhythms, and try to schedule around them
- It is perfectly normal for babies to want constant physical contact
- High levels of stress, such as during prolonged crying, cause a baby to experience an unbalanced chemical state in the brain and can place him at risk for physical and emotional problems later in life
- Symptoms of burnout or inability to cope with baby’s needs are signals that extra support and/or professional help are necessary
Responding to Tantrums and Strong Emotions
- Tantrums represent real emotions and as such should be taken seriously
- Some emotions are too powerful for a young child’s underdeveloped brain to manage in a more socially acceptable manner
- A parent’s role in tantrums is to comfort the child, not to get angry or punish her
4. Use Nurturing Touch
Slings slings and more slings. Also massage and lots of hugs and cuddles. And being aware of how much time your baby spends in swings, jumpers, strollers, etc. so you can make sure it’s not too much.
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
“Babies have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too cold or too hot. They need the reassurance of a loving parent to feel secure during the night.” says API. I feel rather strongly about this, but didn’t find it worked to get up every time baby woke up. So, we made things work. We co-slept with our first and bed-shared with our other two, and it’s been great. I wouldn’t do it any other way. If you are worried about SIDS or rolling over on your child please read here
6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
This means working your schedule around baby’s schedule (when they are hungry, sleepy, etc.). It makes sense to me to watch and notice what babies internal schedule is and then try to work my schedule to mesh with that. I am the adult in the relationship so I feel like I should be the one who is accommodating. Plus, who am I to tell someone when they are hungry or not? Would I like someone to do that to me? This also means try not to have too many caregivers and have only short separations when possible. I have decided to be a SAHM and rarely leave my kids for more than 3 hours. When my oldest was 18 mo. I left for girls camp for a week and when I came back she was really distant and angry with me. I would not do that again.
7. Practice Positive Discipline
This one is the hardest, especially as your children get older. I think most of society uses punishment and control to get behaviors they want, but I firmly believe (backed up by lots of research I’ve studied) that it doesn’t work. And when it does, it is only short term and the unintended effects of that approach are negative and far reaching. Here is what API says. “Positive discipline is an overarching philosophy that helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Positive discipline is rooted in a secure, trusting, connected relationship between parent and child. Discipline that is empathetic, loving and respectful strengthens that the connection between parent and child, while harsh or overly punitive discipline weakens the connection. Remember that the ultimate goal of discipline is to help children develop self-control and self-discipline.” More on this at a later post.
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
Yea! You stuck with it till the last one! Balance is always something I am thinking about. Especially balancing technology and real life. Recently I have started taking a few moments for myself after the kids go to bed, and I’ve really been enjoying that. My husband is also a big help with this part, taking the kids when I need some alone time or a girl’s night out.
So that’s it. Or at least some of what I believe about parenting. Hopefully you found something to think about, it was great for me to remind myself of these things!
This gallery contains 17 photos.
Every year shortly after Christmas, the bug hits. You know what bug I’m talking about. The “where in the world am going to put these new presents!?” bug. Pretty much every year I have to go through and re-organize all our stuff to make room. This year, though, I took it a little farther. I have been […]
I am a winter person. I LOVE sitting in a warm house snuggled up in a blanket reading a book with hot chocolate watching the snow fall. I love the beauty of snow. I would SO much rather be cold that hot. You can always put more clothes on, but there is only so much you can take off! I love to cross country ski, build snow-men, and go sledding. I love that feeling when you step outside and breath in through your nose and you can feel the inside of your nostrils freezing up. Well, ok, I don’t really love that. But overall, I have always enjoyed winter. Plus my birthday is in winter, and so is Christmas and Valentines day-both really great holidays. However, some things are just not the same after you have kids.
One thing in particular has struck me this winter that really really really makes me wish it was spring-or even worse- summer! WINTER COATS. And shoes, and socks and hats and gloves and scarfs. Trying to leave the house with three kids properly dressed for the cold is, well…indescribable. Then, once we have gone through the marathon of getting shoes, socks, coats, hats, and gloves on they play in the snow for 2 minutes and then have to use the bathroom or are just cold and want to come in. If we are going to the library or some such place, we have to take all the layers off, and then I get to carry them around! While also carrying the baby, library books and occasionally my 3 year old as well. GOOD GRIEF!! If only it were summer! The kids can run outside in just their diapers for all I care! (I suppose there is sunscreen to worry about- but I don’t ever have to take it off and carry it!) No shoes, or if they need shoes sandals are so kid friendly I might not even have to help get them on!
That, my friends is why I am dreaming of 90 degree weather. When it does come, though, I know I will miss the winter-coats and all.
Tissue Paper ‘Stained Glass’ Hearts
So easy, my 3-year-old could help!
You will need:
- Clear, repositionable Con-Tact paper (I got mine years ago at Bed, Bath and Beyond.)
- Tissue paper in shades of red, pink, and purple torn into small pieces
- Blue painters tape
- Hole punch
- Yarn, ribbon, etc. Read the rest of this entry
THE LUNCH TRAY
One of man’s greatest inventions?
Maybe not, but let me tell you why I love mine. I found them at the thrift store 6 months ago for 3 dollars a piece. There were 3 of them. They are old school, from the 50s I think, and still in great condition. I looked up Prolon Ware online and it looks like they still make lots of dishes although I doubt they still make lunch trays with styrofoam being the choice of many schools.
A typical lunch before these wonderful things consisted of a p.b. & j. sandwich with an apple if they (my 3 kids) were lucky. We snacked on other things pretty much all day so lunch wasn’t a big deal. However, after I got these trays, the kids wanted every space filled, so lunch became a meal again! And a really healthy one, too. I would end up making a p.b. & j. of course, but then fill up the other spaces with carrots and dip, fruit, a drink, applesauce, cottage cheese, and even go-gurt or string cheese where the utensils go. And because they were eating such a filling lunch, we only have one snack between meals now!
That’s why I love my lunch trays!
p.s. the meal in the picture is actually a dinner. NO WAY do I put that much effort into our lunches!
I made these easy to make wands to use while teaching music in the nursery class at church. They are fun to wave and watch flutter through the air which entices kids (and adults) to move to music. Make a few, put on some fun music, and DANCE! Read the rest of this entry
Kinder-garten means “Children garden” in German. As we continue this metaphor, let us relate the children to plants. Last year when we planted our garden, we prepared the soil, planted the seeds, watered them and breathlessly waited for our seeds to sprout. Some plants came up earlier than others, and some looked rather small and weak compared to thier “brothers” when they first came up. Soon, though, they all grew and flourished in the sunlight (until they got eaten by raccoons, but we won’t go there).
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that most gardeners do not force the plants to come up early or crack open the seeds to see what is inside. It does, sadly seem like this is what is happening to our children in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. I don’t blame the teachers, of course! I used to be one myself. I think the problem has arisen from some really bad legislation (NCLB!) and in thinking that if we can somehow get an early start on teaching our children, that perhaps we can improve our ranking worldwide (US is ranked #15 in reading literacy).
What is being taught in Kindergarten now is what used to be taught in 1st grade 10 or so years ago. My first taste of this was during my student teaching. I was amazed at the amount of phonics the kids were learning! They knew the offical names of all the markings and were sounding out words and it was only Februrary! Well, not all of them were, the lowest reading group was FAR behind. I remember being impressed, but also sad that this was not the fun kindergarten I remember. There were no snacks, no rest time, and playtime looked much more structured. Then I got a job teaching kindergarten and found out we were supposed to spend a huge chunk of our time in class on reading instruction. SOOO much time that there wasn’t much time for anything else.
I had learned in College that play is the way young children learn. That their brains are what Piaget calls “pre-opperational”. This means that abstract things (like the printed word) are hard for them to grasp. The “opperational” stage comes into play at around 7. This doesn’t mean 5 year olds CAN’T be taught to read, even babies can be taught to read; but it is more of a stimulus-response thing. As Jane M. Healy says in her book Your Child’s Growing Mind “The human brain can be trained to do almost anything if the task is simplified enough and one is willing to devote the necessary time and energy. Reading becomes a low-level skill, and there is a danger it will remain at the level where it was learned and practiced.”
That is not the only danger of pushing reading on our children too early. There are so many students in school who have been frusterated in thier attempts to read. Made to try before they were develpmentally ready, reading become a huge mountain to scale, instead of an exciting journey. I relate it to potty training. If you try to push it too soon (and I know, because I have) it is so difficult and stressful for the child to not be able to do it when they are trying so hard. They get frusterated and resistant about the whole thing. However, if you back off and watch for when they seem to be interested or ready, it can happen really quickly and they have a wonderful sense of accomplishment!
So, what am I saying in all this? I think that we need to let our children play. Let them enjoy life and explore and build their sense of wonder and enjoyment of learning about the world around them. Let us focus on other things to get our children ready for school rather than sitting down with them and quizzing them on ABC’s and sight words. “Many bright, even gifted, children do not read early. Please give them lots of language and listening experinces and let them enjoy stories without an underlying aura of expectation that they cannot fulfill.” says Jane M. Healy. “The time you spend reading to your child is the best predictor of later reading success.”
My answer to the problem of the public schools being forced into a “reading and math frenzy” is to send my kids to a Waldorf school where reading is not taught until 2nd grade and the arts and sciences and history flourish. I wish I had a solution for the schools, but I don’t know what it will take to change the course.
So. Now you know what I think. What do you think?
I like making as many Christmas presents as I can. In a previous post I mentioned my reasons why, basically that they are more personalized and I feel like I am giving more of myself in the gift. They feel like love made tangible. Here are the ones I have made thus far.
First- for my 3 year old niece I made these 2 skirts and shirt with a hair clippie from 2 t-shirts. The sites where I got the tutorials are listed below the picture. The shirt embellishments I came up with on my own using the leftover fabric from one of the skirts. The hair clippie is clipped on the waist of the green skirt and you can get the tutorial of how to make the rosette here.
This is the first quilt I have made, and I just looked at the pattern here and tried to feel my way through it. It turned out OK, but the binding is pretty bad. The doll is one my mom made me when I was a kid that I just had to glue back together and refill with beads. This one goes to my daughter.
I got the pattern for these gingerbread dolls from the book Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer. So fun and not hard to make at all. These are also for my 5 year old daughter
Presents yet to make: For my 3 year old son, a felt crown and kings cape, and for my 1 year old daughter, some felt fruit.