Inside this issue:
By Chris David, Latona Co-Op Teacher
Judgment: "Be a good girl and give me the paint." or "That is not a nice thing to do." I have used similar judgment words in the past when referring to a child or an action of a child. I try to avoid using judgment words now because I remember how it felt, hearing them as a child. And through my education, I know there is a better way to communicate to children.
I remember my father calling me: stupid, dummy, deaf, idiot and more. My father's words left me feeling embarrassed and unloved as a child: I can now more accurately describe that I felt humiliated. His unthinking words made an impression on me that lasted.
Words have power and make an impact on children and how they think about themselves, especially judgmental words when used by parents or teachers.
Even positive words can make a questionable impact on a young child's mind. For example: "Be a good girl and get me the paint." What are the alternatives for this child? If she does not get the paint, is she bad? Is she good when she is doing what everyone else wants? Will people still like her? Positive words can teach a negative lesson.
As a new teacher I tried to teach a positive self-image to children. I said: good listening, good eyes, good work, and many other good things. Any behavior or activity I wanted to encourage, received the "good" label. I didn't realize how silly I sounded until children started using my words; good eyes, good girl, and good walking. But then I started to hear the children say: bad girl, bad running and bad boy. Had I taught these little children that it is okay to judge each other?
Every word used with children teaches them something. I have a huge impact on children and I better do it right. I went back to school to complete my degree in Early Childhood Education. I had much to learn.
One of the first lessons I learned as a student was to observe children, write down their behaviors objectively, without judgment. A professor pointed out any judgments are opinions, and not facts. After much practice I can describe a child's behavior without judgment even when the behavior is clearly against the class rules.
Taking judgment out of words, my expectations became clearer. I could control my emotions. I remember two children fighting over one truck. I described what I saw: "Erin was playing with the truck. Joel came over and grabbed the truck. Erin yelled and hit Joel. This is the problem: you both want to play with the same toy." Now the children can work on the problem, they can learn a different way to behave.
These children are not being naughty, in fact, the children are just exhibiting behaviors that are normal for their age and development. Often adults call children "bad" for displaying this typical egocentric behavior. It takes a long time for children to move beyond being egocentric; if adults respond with judgment "bad" each time, what will children learn?
It is a challenge to avoid using judgment words, good,
bad, nice, and naughty. I have heard these words used all my life.
Now I describe what the children are doing, point out the problems, wonder
out loud, "How could you solve this problem?" Children become involved
in solving their own problems and before you know it the problem is resolved.
Adults come up to me and ask, "How did you do that?" ?
Just for fun
by Tom Moye, Co-op Parent
The wet, wintry Holiday Season is upon us. Indoor
activities are more appealing than another soggy adventure in the great outdoors. Seattle Center with the Children's Museum is a perennial favorite.
The Museum offers attractions for kids of any age, as well as hands-on crafts. The craft room, known as the Imagination Station, runs on a schedule and can have limited space, so check the times when you go in.
Seattle Center is becoming a quintessential Seattle experience. The huge winter wonderland model train display is fascinating. Children are entranced by the miniature towns, complete with skaters and sleigh rides.
The Center House stage hosts holiday entertainment of all sorts. Young artists perform throughout the day on weekends. Find a place to sit, grab a bite from any of the many restaurants, and enjoy the shows.
Seattle Center can be crowded, but the crowds are slightly thinner and parking a bit better if you go early. The Children's Museum is best enjoyed as soon as its doors are opened in the morning.
We’ve just seen Thanksgiving, and your mind is already on the December holidays. Are you panicking at the thought of all the responsibilities awaiting you in the weeks to come? What would make the holiday season most enjoyable to you?
Throughout the year we think warmly of the December holiday season. It is a time for family and parents to strive to make the holidays enjoyable for their children. Usually, the demands on us are significant during this time of year. All of this can become stressful for parents.
In order to reduce the stress of the holiday season, parents must often make choices. Modern day parents have very busy lives. Managing parenting and work responsibilities can leave little time to prepare an old fashioned Christmas or a traditional Chanukah, let alone, celebrate Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or New Year’s Eve.
David Worthington, Ph.D. in his article, Family Rituals, observes that busy lives often lead to fewer family rituals. He defines family rituals as “consistent ways that we demonstrate caring for one another.” Family rituals, whether over the holidays or everyday, include predictability, structure and boundaries which leads to a sense of stability and self-confidence for all family members. This is especially important for preschoolers who thrive on routine and ritual.
Keeping in mind the importance of establishing family rituals
for our preschoolers, on the following page we listed five basic things
for a holiday that children really want and need.
? Maintain an evenly-paced holiday season
? Establish strong family traditions
? Prioritize your holiday family gatherings and holiday events
? Have realistic expectations about gifts
? Structure relaxed and loving times with the family
Let go of your expectations that things will be perfect or magical. Your family will appreciate and remember a more relaxed you.
In addition, here are some fun, no cost, activities that
can supplement your planned holiday activities:
We have added a few tips for parents to survive the demands of the holidays:
- Nurture yourself; structure a non-stressful period into your day,
even if it is for 15 minutes
- Eat well
- Prepare ahead of time; freeze foods; shop ahead
- Let your child help you
Above all, keep in mind that you are creating loving and
joyous holiday experiences and rituals.
To conclude, we included this beautiful poem that is a reminder of the true meaning of the holidays:
WHAT SHALL WE GIVE THE CHILDREN?
Yes, for the magic of toyland
Is part of the holiday lore
To gladden the heart of childhood
But I shall give something more.
I shall give them more patience,
A more sympathetic ear,
A little more time for laughter,
Or tenderly dry a tear.
I shall take time to teach them
The joy of doing some task
I’ll try to find time to answer
More of the questions they ask:
Time to read books together,
And take long walks in the sun;
Time for a bedtime story
After the day is done.
I shall give these to my children,
Weaving a closer tie,
Knitting our lives together
With the gifts that money can’t buy.
Have a wonderful holiday!
The Perils of Toddler Travel
by Susan Steckler, Co-op parent
One week before our trip to Germany and Italy, my husband and I sat down for a serious talk. “It will be a disaster,” he predicted. Acknowledging the differences in our natures, he then said, “I know, you think we’ll have a fun time and will come back with Liam wearing lederhosen and speaking German.” We’ve traveled a bit with family, but I was looking forward to our first trip with just the three of us. Our trip was both fun and challenging at times.
Flying with Liam was one of our biggest concerns, however, our direct Seattle to London flight, went surprisingly well. Our two-year-old son Liam slept most of the way. The folks at British Airways clearly took the attitude of “keep the kids happy.” Liam’s meal had five desserts. I think they were hoping to induce a sugar coma. Liam also liked to explore the airplane, so he asked to go to the potty frequently. We are in the early stages of potty training and took this as a good sign. Unfortunately, the interest in the potty dropped as quickly as the plane did.
Our first few nights in Berlin did not go smoothly. Liam would go to sleep easily, but at 3 a.m. he would be up and bouncing on his bed declaring, “It’s playtime!” By the third night, I told Liam that if he didn’t sleep we were going to catch a flight home in the morning. Luckily, he wanted to stay. The next night, and all successive nights, he slept through. Although, coming back home, we’re struggling with jet lag again, with Liam waking up at 2 a.m. and asking why it’s dark outside.
We spent a week in Berlin and had five great days in Bavaria before heading to our final destination, Venice, Italy, where we stayed with friends of ours who were renting a villa for the month. Liam was very excited to see our friends Carrie and Robert, and in particular, Andrew, his four-year-old buddy. Best of all, we took turns with one couple going out to a nice long dinner while the other couple watched the boys and put them to bed.
Liam watched the local kids and true to Venetian custom he decided he needed to take a turn peeing into the canal. Once again, this was more interest in peeing in a different way, than actual potty training progress. We haven’t heard the end of “peeing in the yucky water,” I’m afraid.
Traveling internationally was a good experience.
Liam was exposed to other languages and had the opportunity to see new
places. My husband and I developed better strategies for eating out
with Liam and gained perspective on what was critical to pack. And,
oh yeah, next time we’re taking a babysitter. ?