Friday, December 13, 2019

It's All About Relationships

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Yesterday I attended a workshop entitled The Research Has Changed but the Children Haven't: Developing a Better Understanding of the Toddler Years. The presenter is passionate about developmentally appropriate practice and ensuring that our youngest children receive the nurturing care they deserve. She talked about a values-based education that's based on important things like helping children become more adventurous, caring, confident, cheerful, respectful, determined, persistent, open-minded, and creative. She talked about children needing to be independent as well as interdependent and dependent. She stressed that our guiding principle should always be "it's all about relationships."

Click here to learn more about Zero to Three, an organization working to educate parents and politicians about what the research really says about what young children really need.

I also attended Strategies for Maximizing Family Engagement. We learned the difference between outreach (it's more about the organization and what it needs, i.e. recruitment) and engagement (it's about what the people need, i.e. relationships). Her next slide declared, "It's all about relationships," clearly a theme for the day!

The presenter works for PJ Library, a phenomenal program that provides free books to families raising Jewish children. If you haven't already signed up to receive these books, you should!

Friday, December 6, 2019

My Friend, Fred

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For those of us lucky enough to be born at just the right time, we had the privilege of growing up with Mister Rogers.

I can still remember every nuance of his program, every quirk of his. The shoes, the fish, the trolley.

I remember wearing a light blue coat dress and white patent shoes and boarding a real trolley with my grandfather in Pittsburgh to see Mister Rogers speak. Our seats were very high up, and he looked so small sitting in a straight backed chair on an otherwise empty stage.

I remember the joy, again in Pittsburgh, again with my grandfather, as I flipped through the channels with my three-year-old son and landed on WQED. In a second my whole childhood came rushing back to me. I was excited, but also trepidatious.  I was about to introduce my oldest friend to my only son. Would he understand why Fred Rogers was so special to me?

Last year we saw a Mister Rogers documentary; this year brings us a Hollywood movie. So many think pieces have been written about Fred lately. I stumbled on these two recently. I hope you get as much out of them as I did.

When we were saying goodbye, I thanked him for all he had taught me.
“I think that it is very important to learn that you get that largely because of who you are,” he said. “I could be saying the same words and giving the same thoughts to somebody else who could be thinking something very different.”
I remember protesting. I was just trying to say thank you.
“It’s so very hard, receiving,” he said. “When you give something, you’re in much greater control. But when you receive something, you’re so vulnerable.
“I think the greatest gift you can ever give is an honest receiving of what a person has to offer.”
He was impossible to thank.

Within a half-hour of my bingefest, our youngest two children, then ages 5 and 7, came to ask me to help them with some homework. They sat down on the bed beside me and peered at the television as I looked over their worksheets.

In the episode I was watching, Mister Rogers had gone to a restaurant in Pittsburgh to show his young viewers how restaurants work.
“Mommy,” asked my young daughter. “Who is that nice man?”
“It’s Mommy’s friend, Fred,” I explained.

Outdoor Magic

Early childhood educators have long known the   benefits of outdoor play . To name but a few, outdoor play improves physical and mental heal...