Cookies, candy, potato chips, and soda are tempting go-to snacks for a kid in a hurry for something to eat, but they’re not the sort of foods that will power a growing body through a day of happy moods, active play, and smart thinking. They’re the sort of foods that contribute to the crash-and-burn attitude that’s all too common when poor nutrition collides with an afternoon slump.
I recommend keeping a few easy, grab-it-yourself snacks around. Washed, organic apples, clementines, bananas, and kiwis in the fruitbowl. Nuts in a jar on the counter. Carrot sticks or celery, washed and ready, in the fridge. Hummus, bean dip, pesto, or other nutritious spread in the fridge.
As a writer, I work from home. I can’t always get up to feed a hungry snacker. I’d much rather shout, “veggies and dip are in the fridge!” from my office upstairs than A) leave my desk mid-paragraph to cook, B) leave my kids hungry, or C) have them rustle up some jelly beans or caramel corn. By skipping the unhealthy foods entirely in the grocery store aisle, we avoid turning to them when hunger strikes.
Bubbie just “vroom-vroomed” through the room, followed by an excited Cubbie. “Watchout, monster trucks coming through!” Our latest favorite library book is Monster Trucks by Matt Doeden and we read it over and over. Do you know what makes a truck a monster?! Check out the book from the library to find out!
We’re also enthralled by Bulldozers and Dump Trucks and Backhoes by Linda Williams; also in Spanish Excavadoras
and Maquinas niveladoras! We can hardly wait to get into the action in our own backyard sandbox and dirt pit.
You may want to look at the list of all the cool books in this book series: Pebble Plus
This is the last of eight articles where I’ll share what I learned about parenting at Disneyland. With my first seven blog entries on this topic, I shared how Disneyland taught me these important parenting skills:
Be PRESENT with your kids.
Keep your PROMISES made to your children.
Honor your child’s PASSIONS.
Be careful to not overschedule your child and be willing to PRUNE your child’s activities when necessary.
Model being POLITE even when people mess up.
PLAN for PLAY
In this blog entry I will share a final parenting insight I received on my recent trip to the happiest place on earth. During this last trip to Disneyland, I was able to observe many parent-child interactions. I realized from these observations, that most of what anyone really needs to know about how to be effective as a parent can be learned at Disneyland. Watching families standing in lines, shopping in souvenir stores, eating meals in restaurants, watching parades and shows, trading Disney collector pins (a hobby my son has), riding on various attractions, posing for photos, and deciding which direction to go proved to be very insightful!
Okay, I admit it – I am a Disney maniac. Since 1995, I have visited Disneyland and Disney World at least 15 times. (Thankfully more than half of these trips were paid for by Disney as I was fortunate enough to be a Disney Teacher and to do some consulting work with Disney.) This last time we visited, I realized that every time I have visited a Disney park, there have been attractions that are temporarily closed for maintenance or areas where they are building something new. There has never been a time that I have been at a Disney park and had every attraction open. This is evidence of a company that is able to PICTURE THE FUTURE. If Disney was focused on only the immediate future, they would probably keep every ride open especially during peak seasons but they are constantly thinking about the future and making decisions that long-term make sense but short-term may cause some disgruntled guests and hassles.
The time I spent at Disneyland helped remind me how important it is as a parent to PICTURE THE FUTURE. Just as Disney focuses on long term improvements, we as parents need to be willing to make some decisions that in the short term cause us or our kids some discomfort but in the long term are beneficial to our kids. So when our kids are toddlers and we give into a crying fit, that may feel great that the crying stopped…but at what cost? We can’t lose touch with the long term impacts of our daily decisions. Letting our kids experience failures and challenges can be hard for us as parents but Parenting with Love and Logic reminds us that it makes sense for us to let our kids learn when the price is affordable.
As a young girl, I had dreamed of getting a Baby Crissy doll. Finally I got one for my 10th birthday. Two of my best friends also had a Baby Crissy doll. One day, I had one of these friends over to my house to play. When she arrived with her doll, I noticed that her doll had a scratch on her face. I thought that was sad, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. We had lots of fun playing that day and when it was time for her to leave; she went to take my Baby Crissy doll home with her. I pointed out that she had taken the wrong doll on accident, but she insisted that she had the right doll. I pointed to the scratch on the face of one of the dolls and explained that was how I knew this was her doll. She said that her doll didn’t have a scratch on the face. I was shocked and hurt because I was coming to the realization that this was not a mistake on her part, but an act of deception and theft. My mom came into the room to remind us that we needed to get in the car so she could drive my friend home and I explained the problem to her – okay, I admit it – I tattled on my friend. My mom did not rescue me. She did not take my side or take my friend’s side. She simply let us figure it out – she gave a deadline of when she needed us in the car and stepped out. My friend insisted on taking the doll with the blemish free face that day and I sadly relented. On the way home, my mom dished out plenty of empathy – but she definitely let me own this problem. She probably could have stepped in and solved the problem with my friend or she could have even spoken with my friend’s mom but she knew that I would learn some lessons from this situation. She never lectured me on what lessons I should learn, she just trusted that would happen. Did I learn? Yes, I did. One of the things I learned was to put my name on things that are important to me. If I had put my name on Baby Crissy’s foot, I never would have had this problem.
Years later, I had my first roommate at college. I discreetly put my name on everything. After one school year of living together, I knew it might be hard for us to remember who brought what into our room and I didn’t want another Baby Crissy situation with my stereo, TV or anything else I shared with her. When my roomie and I went our separate ways, we had no conflicts yet the girls who lived next to us had a big squabble about a few items in their room that each was claiming that she brought from home. I don’t know who was right and I’m not sure if the person who was wrong was mistaken or just being deceitful. But what I did know was that I was thankful that my mom had helped me learn this lesson as a 10-year-old. I know that the price tag I had on my lesson was much less than the price tag my dorm neighbors had.
This life lesson continues to have impact on my life. In 2009, I co-founded Bridgeway Christian Academy with a teacher friend of mine. We each brought many educational materials into our school. We were careful to come up with a color coding system where we put labels on games, puzzles, books and other learning tools. We still continue to use this system today and it’s very helpful. I know the strain that the Baby Crissy incident put on my relationship with my childhood friend and I knew that I didn’t want to jeopardize something like that happening with my colleague and friend. I truly believe that I have my mom to thank for this important life lesson and I bet she didn’t even know how big of an impact she was having when she made that decision to just let me solve that problem. At the time, I would have loved to have had my mom rescue me and get my doll back. That would have felt great at that moment but I am extremely grateful that my mom was able to think about the long term and not just the short term when she walked in on this squabble.
So I challenge you to think about how you are PICTURING THE FUTURE as a parent. As you make your daily parenting decisions, are you considering the long term impact of these decisions? Are you thinking about the life lessons your child could learn from various problems and challenges? Are you careful to not lecture or rescue? Our recent trip to the “happiest place on earth” helped remind me of this very important parenting principle.
Here is a fun project for the little ones.
Give them a stencil and a ruler for drawing a circle and straight lines. Once children get the idea of assembling geometric shapes to make a character, they can go wild on paper. Read a few comic books watch a couple of animated movies.
Get them interested in movement and action while they are drawing characters. Help them learn the way a leg lifts up when the character walks, how the arm moves in the opposite direction and how the head tilts back when the body shifts.
While they are sketching, find out which characters they like the most, look up who the artist was. Find out what else they may have created. For example; Bob Clampet is the illustrator who created the character Tweety. He worked for Warner Brothers in the Loony Tunes department where he also created Porky Pig. What else can you find out about Tweety?
See if they can draw comics from a strip in the newspaper, notice how only a few movements placed with words can carry the story forward. Did you know that Blondie has been around since 1933? The curious part about Blondie is that this strip is really more about Dagwood than Blondie. Now mark out a grid with three or four panels.
Work on a few captions together. Create some bubbles to put them in.
When you finish your project together what have you learned? Developing a sense of humor is a delicate adventure, one that adults and kids can both enjoy.
Paleo diets, gluten free recipes, and low-starch alternative foods are big in the news lately, but is there any evidence to support the theory that perhaps grains DON’T belong at the expansive bottom of the food pyramid?
According to a Harvard-based research team (and good old intuition), it’s not GRAIN that is harming us: it’s the refined products that most of us consume every day (here’s a great article on the subject). The wheat flour that we’re used to eating in our bread, cakes, and pasta is a far cry from the bran-clad, germ-cradling grain our ancestors selected for. It’s hardly more than glue, really: white flour is a dusty, dry product with a great shelf life, virtually no fiber, and starkly reduced levels of vitamins and minerals. It’s excellent at pasting paper flyers to telephone poles, but not particularly good for our insides. Even worse, much of the flour used in commercial bakeries is bleached! I save bleach for my grossest sanitation chores (soaking the compost bucket a few times a year). I don’t want it in my children’s bodies.
In my family, we struck a compromise. We really don’t care for the flavor and texture of whole flour of the common “hard red” wheat variety, which is usually used for bread making but can be very coarse. We do, however, LOVE whole wheat pastry flour. It’s 100% wheat, but it’s milled from a softer strain called Soft White. It’s fine, fluffy, and very useable in the kitchen, even for someone used to baking with white flour. (I recommend adding slightly more moisture than your recipe calls for if you’re adapting from white flour baking.)
If you can start choosing whole-grain alternatives, use whole wheat flour or a combination of wheat and white, and mix up your grain sources with alternative choices like brown rice, spelt, amaranth, and buckwheat, you’ll soon find your palate adapting. Your family’s health is at stake, and you have nothing to lose but a lot of sticky, indigestible gunk.
This is the seventh of eight articles where I’ll share what I learned about parenting at Disneyland. With my first six blog entries on this topic, I shared how Disneyland taught me these important parenting skills: be PROACTIVE, be PRESENT with your kids, keep your PROMISES made to your children, honor your child’s PASSIONS while being careful to not overschedule your child and be willing to PRUNE your child’s activities when necessary, and model being POLITE even when people mess up. In this blog entry I will share a seventh parenting insight I received on my recent trip to the happiest place on earth.
During a recent trip to Disneyland, I was able to observe many parent-child interactions. I realized from these observations, that most of what anyone really needs to know about how to be effective as a parent can be learned at Disneyland. Watching families standing in lines, shopping in souvenir stores, eating meals in restaurants, watching parades and shows, trading Disney collector pins (a hobby my son has), riding on various attractions, posing for photos, and deciding which direction to go proved to be very insightful!
The time I spent at Disneyland helped remind me how important it is to PLAN FOR PLAY. One of my son’s favorite attractions at Disneyland is Tom Sawyer’s Island and I think I know why. The Disney Imagineers created a rustic island where visitors get to start their adventure by crossing the “Rivers of America” on a wooden raft. Once on the island, guests get to wander forest trails, explore secret hideouts, investigate mysterious caves that contain treasure maps and riches, climb up to a tree house, bounce across rope bridges, and climb the various hills and rocks.
My friend, former colleague and mentor, Dr. Michael Henniger[*] from Western Washington University (whose studies have focused on childhood play) states that when all four of these characteristics are present, then the activity is clearly play:
The activity is active. The movement can involve large and/or small muscles.
The activity is child selected. The child is choosing to participate, although it can be adult initiated.
The child is motivated to play because of the pleasure of the activity. The focus is on the process, rather than the product. There is freedom to explore and experiment without fear of failure.
The activity requires a suspension of reality. Realities of the world are set aside while encouraging creativity and spontaneity.
Everything at Disneyland’s Tom Sawyer’s Island is geared toward all 4 of these characteristics of play. I have a feeling that this is not by chance. It seems obvious that the Disney Imagineers considered all of these aspects of play when designing this special place. This made me think about life outside of Disneyland as well. Just as the imagineers were very intentional with providing this play experience for Disneyland guests, parents can be very intentional with creating playful experiences for their children.
Unfortunately, Dr. Henniger points out that there are still a lot of adults that fail to understand the importance of play. There is a common perception that play is a fun but frivolous activity. But Dr. Henniger and all other experts in the field of early childhood education will attest that every aspect of a child’s development is enhanced through play:
- Through multisensory experiences, children develop concepts that help them understand the world.
- Through exploration and experiments, children learn about problem solving.
- As children pretend, they arbitrarily assign meaning to objects they are using in their play. This is helping them to master symbolism. Later, children will be using symbols with reading, writing and math so when they turn that plate into a steering wheel or that chair into a boat, they are learning to master symbolism.
- Every aspect of language can be better understood through play. Play provides many opportunities for children to learn about the structure and meaning of words.
- As they play, children learn about the social world in which they live.
- While playing with others, children can learn how to see things from another person’s perspective.
- Play allows children to learn and practice the principles that underline all social exchanges (eg. listening, taking turns, following rules).
- Play can develop gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
- As children mature, they will use their muscles in more complex ways with visual perception.
- In their play, children can master emotional issues such as anxiety and frustration.
- With play, there are numerous opportunities for children to feel good about themselves which can positively influence their self-concept.
As a parent, I have and continue to intentionally provide opportunities for play:
- From the time my son was an infant, I always had a variety of toys with me. I did not assume that the doctor’s office, friend’s home or relative’s house would have something developmentally appropriate for my son to play with. I carried along small but appealing toys that were open ended – something that could occupy his interest for a while.
- Whenever we traveled somewhere, I would think about which toys related well to that location. For example, a set of plastic nesting cups would be great for digging in the sand at great grandma’s beach house and a second hand Tonka truck was great for driving around in the dirt when we went camping.
- Now my son is 10-years-old and he has taken on the responsibility for packing fun play things. We just returned from a camping trip where he loaded his bike and helmet, his Disney pin collection, and 4 games that were fun to play at the picnic table.
- I looked for things that were not necessarily “toys” that could provide play experiences. For example, a drawer of Tupperware lids provided literally hours of play for my son when he was a toddler.
- As I chose childcare providers, I made sure that they demonstrated a strong understanding of the value of play.
- As I chose educational settings for my son, I made sure that academics were balanced with play.
- I made sure that I valued the process more than the product as my son played with toys. I knew that the exploration was more important than the end goal – so I might think there is a better way to make a play-dough snake – but I had fun watching how my son would experiment with his play-dough creation techniques.
- I knew that actual hands-on experiences provided more genuine playful experiences than digital games. Rather than thinking about limiting “screen time”, I just aimed to provide a lot more hands-on play events. So rather than playing a digital game where he stacks items as high as he can – it was so much more beneficial for him to play this game with actual blocks.
So I challenge you to think about how you are planning a wide variety of opportunities for your child to play. It’s easy to think that your child can turn anything into a play opportunity – and sometimes this works out okay. But when you plan a variety of play experiences that your child can choose from, then your child will have even more learning opportunities, you can be assured they are safe, and a side benefit is a happier kid! Our recent trip to the “happiest place on earth” helped remind me of this very important parenting principle.
[*]Henniger, M. L. (2012). Teaching Young Children: An Introduction. Pearson: New Jersey
Along with the flowers, book talks at county middle and high schools are sprouting up all over the place! This season’s top rated titles chosen by our Teen cubs include:
Revived by Cat Patrick. Brought back from the dead five times by a top-secret government super-drug called Revive, Daisy discovers a conspiracy that threatens to undermine the entire program and everything she’s ever know about herself.
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons. When her mother is arrested and jailed for disobeying Article 5 of the Moral Statues by Chase, the one person Ember thought she could trust, Ember decides to break her mother free from prison, becoming a fugitive in a land where she realizes there are few whom she can depend upon to help her.
For the first time congress has noticed the STEAM journal. STEAM is the acronym that adds art to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). There is hope that art will some day be recognized by government to be the imaginative source of learning that it is and once again become a larger part of our education system.
Presenting at the inaugural STEAM caucus in Washington D. C. were the Rhode Island School of Design, the New York Hall of Science, Adobe Software, U. S. Patent and Trade Office, and the National Endowment for the Arts
Sesame Street promotes STEAM with a focus on the incorporation of math and science concepts through “Elmo the Musical” using math concepts like geometric shapes, enumeration, relations and other problem solving techniques to teach learning through music.
An IBM 2010 Global CEO Study found that the ability to embody creative leadership is among the most sought-after attributes in modern business.
A Michigan State University study in 2011 concluded that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 25 times as likely as the average scientist to sing, dance, or act; 17 times as likely to be artists; 12 times more likely to write poetry and literature; and eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft.
Read a story to your child and ask them to draw what the story looks like. Help your child write a song about the story. Now make up a dance or movement that describes what has happened in the story, all of these learning devices are art based.
These are the tools that embed learning. And as my mother told me so long ago… A child who draws is never bored.
Last week I overheard someone talking who was upset because a same-sex couple was being allowed to adopt a child. Over the years I have met several lesbian couples who have been foster and adoptive parents. In spite of all the social and economic disparities that they face, they are exceptional in their love and commitment and skill.
Personally, I prefer to consider a person’s ability to be caring and loving and responsible as a foster or adoptive parent rather than their sexual orientation. The research tends to support this as well. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics*, “Extensive data available from more than 30 years of research reveal that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma.”
The AAP report* also states that, “Current estimates suggest that almost 2 million children younger than 18 years are being raised by at least 1 gay or lesbian parent in the United States.” That is good news for the over 8,000 children in Washington State needing foster care. Those who choose to love these children as their own are an example of citizenship and compassion that is exemplary regardless of who they chose to love and marry.
If your child was suddenly found alone with no one to care for them, would you be OK with a gay or lesbian couple adopting them?
Check out this report in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. * http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/e1374.full
Keep checking in! Byron
A press release from WWU:
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University will host its fourth “It’s Your Arboretum” day from noon to 3 p.m. on May 18 at the Outdoor Learning Center, located on the Huntoon Trail in the western part of the Sehome Arboretum adjoining Western’s campus.
The event is free and open to the pubic.
“Our hope is that a greater awareness of Arboretum stewardship will help foster a more active community involvement in caring for this unique resource,” said David Engebretson, Western professor of Geology.
Engebretson said Western students Rowdy Malmo (General Studies, Lake Tapps), Samantha Merrick (Environmental Studies, Seattle) and Dylan Borden-Deal (Geology, Seattle) have done extensive volunteer work in the Arboretum, in preparation for the event.
Activities will include geologic, native plant and bird song identification tours at the request of attendees. A short history of the Arboretum and points of interest will be presented at 1 p.m. Other activities such as face painting and leaf prints will be on-going throughout the event.
“It’s Your Arboretum” day is sponsored by the Sehome Hill Arboretum Board of Governors and organized by students in Western’s Geology Department. Access to Sehome Arboretum and free parking is available on the upper and lower Arboretum parking lots on arboretum drive and in designated parking lots on Western’s campus.
For more information, contact Engebretson at (360) 650-3595 or David.Engebretson@wwu.edu.