The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Children Today: Let Them PLAY!

IMG_4301We were traveling in South Africa a few weeks ago. Our ship docked for a six-day port stay, and we were lucky enough to see the highlights: a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain, a hop-on/hop-off tour bus that drove us around the city, a drive to Boulder Beach to see the penguins swimming in the ocean, and a climb up to the lighthouse at Cape Point to watch the swirling waters where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Plus, we visited the aquarium, played at some parks, ate plenty of delicious food, and found a western-style grocery store to restock our snack cupboard.

A few days into our adventures, my oldest turned to me and said, (more…)

We Are All Outsiders: Play is Our Way IN

We were in Japan last week, and I was reminded of the exhilaration of immersing myself in a brand new culture.  We quite literally did not know how to do the most basic things: board the escalators, eat the amazing food, or flush the toilets.  Relying on cues from the local Japanese was the only window we had into cultural expectations.

·         The line of pedestrians standing along the left side of the escalator signaled that we were to keep a lane open on the right for those commuters rushing to catch their train.

·         The full shoe cubbies by the doorway to the restaurant clued us to take our own shoes off before entering.

·         I had to guess on the toilets.* (more…)

Just In Time For Black Friday: A List Of What NOT To Buy For Your Young Ones

IMG_5478If you are a parent, you know what it’s like to be inundated with consumerist messages: Buy this nifty gadget, and your child will love it/grow up to be a genius/stay entertained for hours.

If you are a teacher, you know the feeling of flipping through the tantalizing glossy pages of teacher-supply catalogs: The secrets to classroom behavior management/language learning devices/unparalleled support for children with special needs/”your students will be reading by the time they are mobile”!

If you work with young children in any capacity, you know that while attending conferences, shopping for groceries, checking email, or listening to the radio, marketers work tirelessly to convince us all that more is better, and products are the key to lifelong success and happiness.

I’m not buying it. (Pun intended.)

In protest to the bazillions of messages you will all get over the next weeks (more…)

Who’s Driving Your Car?

Process-oriented art a la Cadence

Metaphorically speaking.

I was at a park, sitting a few feet away from my very capable 1-year-old who was climbing up and down the stairs and skillfully maneuvering the slide.  The mother of a young toddler followed her daughter through the structure close to Desmond.   She spotted him, and looked concerned, thinking (I assume), “Where is this boy’s parent?  Should I intervene?”  She was alarmed – unaware of Desmond, his context, his mad climbing skills.  From my place, however, she was hovering – crowding her daughter’s exploration, and giving her daughter a false sense of competency.  Our eyes met almost immediately, and she asked, “Is he yours?”

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How Do You Get Kids To Clean Up?

My sweet one-year-old

I found an e-card floating around on Facebook a few weeks ago that said, “Cleaning with kids in the house is like eating Oreos while brushing your teeth.”  I laughed.  Our little Desmond just turned one, and my husband and I oh-so-affectionately refer to him as the “One-Man-Tornado.”  [Do understand that I have the utmost respect for all of the critical brain development happening in his “one-man-tornado-ness” and I mean no disrespect to his process with this moniker.  Okay, carry on.]  He is in a dumping phase – wiring up some important neural connections by unloading basket after basket of blocks, balls, animals, metal baby food lids, and so on.  I am passionate about keeping materials accessible to children to foster their learning, but such a design permits Desmond to undo a tidy space in a matter of nano-seconds.

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