Friday, February 28, 2020

Technology: It's All About Relationships

Back in December I wrote that "it's all about relationships." It's a theme I'm hearing over and over, no matter the context. It seems that even technology is also all about relationships.

Image result for technology familiesWith a headline that read, "The Amish use tech differently than you think. We should emulate them," I knew I had to read the article.

"When a church member asks to use a new technology, the families discuss the idea and vote to accept or reject. The conversation centers on how a device will strengthen or weaken relationships within the community and within families. . . a family wanted to run propane gas pipes for lights to every room of their home instead of running them only to the kitchen and living room. (The Amish choose not to tap the electrical grid.) Church members discussed how the change would affect the family. If the family members could separate into bedrooms to read at night, instead of gathering in the living room, would their ties fray? Of course they would . . . I thought of a woman at my children’s school who said the disintegration of her family began the day her husband bought a TV for every kid’s bedroom. That was a while back. Today, millions of parents are unwittingly putting TVs in their children’s bedrooms, in the form of smartphones and laptops. And uneasiness about weakening family ties is widespread."

When do we introduce technology to our children? How do we regulate their use of technology? These aren't questions with easy answers. But maybe if we reframed the questions and thought about the impact of technology on our relationships, the answers wouldn't be so hard after all.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Yes, a Spoon Really Is a Pre-Writing Tool

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Today, four teachers and I attended a workshop on teaching language and literacy in an emergent environment. We definitely do not start teaching writing skills by putting a pencil in a child's hand. Pre-writing activities start long before then. In fact, all fine and gross motor activities are pre-writing activities.

Writing involves motor control, spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, and muscle strength, and big muscles must develop before small muscles. We develop big and small muscles by playing with blocks, painting, beading, weaving, molding clay, tearing, cutting, playing with Legos, cooking, and gardening. (Click here for more ideas.)

So . . . spoons? Yes. Tools are extensions of our arms and hands, and as such, holding a spoon or a fork is an introduction to holding a pencil. When you pack your child's lunch with foods they must eat with a spoon or fork, know that you're helping them on the path to literacy.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Preschooler's Pockets

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A friend sent me this story last week. A photographer has documented what's in her preschooler's pocket at the end of every day, those "tiny magical objects" that are so important to him right now.

The photos reminded me of that saying: "The days are long but the years are short." It's exhausting being the parent of a young child, and it's easy to overlook what can and should be magical moments because they can be so fleeting and we are always so busy.

Looking at the photos, I was also reminded of all the delightfully odd pieces of "trash" I used to find in my son's pockets, or failed to find. Hearing the (surprisingly large) rocks tumble around in the dryer was not amusing then but it is now. 

I think the photographer's message is to savor the small moments now, because they will form the foundation of our memories later.

Check out Melissa Kaseman's photos here.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Picky Eaters 101

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For snack on Monday, in honor of Tu B'Shevat, we'll serve the children the Seven Species, or seven special foods native to Israel that are mentioned in the Bible: wheat (pretzels), barley (as long as the store has what I need!), olives, pomegranates, figs, dates, and grapes (raisins). Eaten primarily on Shavuot, they're also sometimes eaten on Tu B'Shevat and Sukkot.

Are all the children going to enjoy all these foods? No. Is that ok? Absolutely. If some children try these foods but don't like them, at least they'll have had the experience of trying something new. If they don't want to try the foods at all, they'll have lunch 90 minutes later and all will be well. And if some children try these new foods and do like them, all the better.

I know from personal experience how worried, frustrated, and angry we can get when our children don't eat what we think they need to eat to be healthy and strong. At some point the anger turns to resignation. And then to anxiety. And then to the worst parent feeling of all: guilt.

There are no easy answers when it comes to how to feed a picky eater. When you're sure your child is starving to death because they've only eaten granola bars for a week, hearing a well-meaning friend say, "Don't worry. She'll eat when she's hungry," doesn't really help.

Having said that, here are some good, common-sense strategies from the Mayo Clinic about teaching your child good and healthy food habits. One promise I can make: it will get better. It always does.

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