Friday, November 22, 2019

Soulful Teaching, Soulful Parenting

My favorite spot at Capital Camps, down by the creek.
On Wednesday and Thursday I spent time with my DMV Jewish preschool director colleagues at Capital Camps in Pennsylvania. We learned with Dasee Berkowitz from Ayeka, a group that aims to make Jewish learning less about content and text and more about making personal connections and finding meaning in everyday experiences.

The founder of Ayeka, Aryeh Ben David, says, "We are all about the future . . .  Our vision and mission are to make this world reflect the image of Gd, to rebuild the Garden of Eden.  We are not just about doing, and we are not just about being; we are about becoming.  Soulful Education invites each of us to continually take small steps in that direction, to become our better and even better selves."

I invite you to take a moment to explore Dasee's blog and to read about one of Ayeka's programs, Becoming a Soulful Parent.

The past two days were incredibly rewarding and invigorating. I look forward to sharing more of what I experienced in the months ahead.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Socially Awkward Person's Guide to Playing with Children


Image result for parents playing with children

The title of this piece is a little misleading. It should be the "Any Adult Person's Guide to Playing with Children." 

As a preschool director, I'm sort of a play professional, but even I sometimes struggle with playing with children. I'm comfortable doing it, I enjoy doing it, and I think I'm generally good at it. But, especially when my own child was very young, I sometimes found it challenging to play for extended periods of time. At some point, I would think I should be doing something else, something "more important."

At a workshop on Conscious Discipline this Monday, the presenter reminded us of the benefit of dedicated play time with our children. She quoted a statistic that I can't remember, but the gist was that if you spend even 10 minutes playing with your child, you build a connection with them that pays dividends.

She told a story about how hard it used to be once she and her two children got home from school every day and how frazzled she was trying to get dinner on the table. But once she made it a priority to play with her children first, as soon as they got home from school, prepping dinner actually took less time, and the evening was more enjoyable for everyone. 

So, slow down. Play. Remember that play is the important thing you have to do. And if you have forgotten how to play, read this article.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids and Start Raising Kind Ones


Image result for kindness quotes

I came across this article just last week. I was hooked as soon as I read the first paragraph:

"As anyone who has been called out for hypocrisy by a small child knows, kids are exquisitely attuned to gaps between what grown-ups say and what grown-ups do. If you survey American parents about what they want for their kids, more than 90 percent say one of their top priorities is that their children be caring. This makes sense: Kindness and concern for others are held as moral virtues in nearly every society and every major religion. But when you ask children what their parents want for them, 81 percent say their parents value achievement and happiness over caring."

Wow. We all say we want our children to be happy, caring, good people, but deep down, do we really just want them to be successful? Are we even conscious of this fact? Have our kids realized something about us that we haven't realized about ourselves?

The authors of this piece, Adam Grant and Allison Sweet Grant, go on to explain why kindness is essential in our society, how we all benefit from kindness, and how to explicitly reinforce kindness in our children.

When our kids come home from school, we always ask, What did you learn today? What if instead we asked, Were you kind to someone today?

The Grants convinced me to give it a try.

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Key to Raising Brilliant Kids? Play a Game


Image result for children play

Do you want your child to grow up to be a happy, healthy, caring, social person; a creative, collaborative innovator; a thinker; a good citizen? According to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, the best (if not only) way to nurture these qualities in your child is to play because everything "goes through the social. Everything we learn starts with collaboration and relationships. When you think of it, we aren't born ready to hop out of the womb and into the world. We have a lot of learning to do, and the learning is social."

In this interview, Hirsh-Pasek explains the "6 Cs" children need to be successful learners: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. We nurture these qualities through play.

Lest you think the "6 Cs" are just another educational gimmick, as Hirsh-Pasek describes them, they're really just a distillation all we've learned about child development and high-quality early childhood education over the past decades. Part of our learning has evolved from the mistakes we've made. For instance, we've pushed the curriculum down and disregarded everything we know about children's brains and children's bodies in order to meet inappropriate, unreachable expectations.

Hirsh-Pasek's message is simple. Push back. Play.

Thank You for a FANTASTIC Year

Our school year started on September 3. And then it started all over again on March 13. This has been a year none of us will ever forg...