Showing posts from 2016

One Word Resolution

It's time to create a list of resolutions for the new year of 2017. Wooo-hooo! If you are like me, you have made the same old resolutions every year for probably your whole adult life. They include: exercise more, eat less junk food, lose weight, and be happier. Am I right? About five years ago, I started reading books written by Gretchen Rubin. She has emerged as one of the most thought provoking and influential writers on habits and happiness. She has written, among other things, The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before.   I recommend them all, as they are good reads and not overly "preachy" like some "self-help" books. Last year as I was reading her blog, she was talking about making resolutions. Now hold onto your hat because she didn't have a list of resolutions, she had one word !  I was like whaaat? Now that was something I could buy into. How easy is that to only have a one-word resolution for the whole year? As it turns

A Routine Thing

Bumpy and I recently returned from a trip to New Jersey to visit with our daughters, son-in-law, and granddaughter. We had an early Christmas visit, complete with baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, playing games, exchanging gifts and even snow! Bumpy, Anna, and Nana While we had a wonderful time, it was also nice to return home and resume the normal routines associated with everyday life! As I thought about how getting back into my routine was comforting, I also thought about how during this very busy time of the year, it is sometimes difficult for grown ups to keep the family routines going and it can be an especially confusing and tiring time for little ones. An article by Oliver Burkeman written for the guardian, contained information about daily routines of some of history's most creative minds.  For example, Benjamin Franklin spent his mornings naked, Georgia O'Keeffe and Ernest Hemingway were both extremely early risers, and Tchaikovsky believed he h

Retirement, Simple Living and Me: Things That Are Making Me Jolly

Tis' the season to be jolly! Here are a few things that are making me jolly this week. Baking cookies: Making them for family and friends! The newest member of our "pack":  Ringo Starr came to live with us on Thanksgiving week-end! This simple holiday centerpiece: These simple decorations: "Mousemas Tree" A tiny collection of Santas This photo from a Christmas past: And this Nativity set to remind me just exactly what Christmas is all about! What's making you jolly this holiday season? That's it for now.. Check back later!

All I Want for Christmas Are Open-Ended Materials: Said No Child Ever

Ah, the smell of Christmas trees, the warmth of hot chocolate, and commercial after commercial for more and more battery operated toys is upon us!  It's the season for "I want, I want, I want" to echo throughout homes and classrooms. It's also time to make those ubiquitous paper Christmas stockings using glitter and cotton balls, but that's already been discussed in another blog post, as you may recall. I wonder how many parents of young children and teachers of young children are hearing, "You know, I think I would just like to use my imagination more and get a big stack of open-ended materials to play with this Christmas. Forget the Zoomer Chimp, the Nerf N Strike Drone Blaster, the Dance and Move Bow Wow, and the PlayStation  to name a few and just get me some good old wooden blocks and a set of markers." In this post, I want to "enlighten" parents and teachers about open-ended materials and play, so let's begin with a definition of

Retirement, Simple Living, and Me-- Warning: There Are Squirrels Involved

Anna and Nana (me) doing a little "leaf crunching." ( 20009) This fall season has been extremely weird as well as unsettling . By weird, I'm talking about the weather and by unsettling, I think you know what I mean. Even though the temperature has not been "fall" like, the leaves are turning and falling in great numbers.  The pups and I have enjoyed many morning walks that involve one of my favorite activities "leaf crunching" and one of  their favorite activities, "squirrel stalking." Regarding the unsettling part, probably the biggest concern is the fear of the unknown. What will happen to the economy? What will happen to the environment? What will happen with funding for quality early childhood education programs? Who will win Dancing With the Stars?  Okay, not so much that one, but you can tell I've been a little anxious and frankly, a little scared lately. I had a friend whose granddaughter was having trouble learning to

Jean Piaget Meets Pete the Cat

One of my favorite early education theorists has always been Jean Piaget. I have written about him in a previous post to talk about his views on the importance of play in children's development. Today, I would like to address his theories on emotional self regulation in young children. Let's start with a definition of emotional self regulation: it is the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed.   Wikipedia In other words, it is helping children develop the tools they need to respond to situations in their life in an appropriate way.  This might include times of sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, disappointment as well as excitement. Babies learn to soothe their upsets by being soothed by parents or care givers. Toddlers and preschoolers can learn to self regulate by be

"They" Say She Should Be Reading!

Word on the street is that children in kindergarten (age 5) should be reading. In fact, some people think that they should actually go to kindergarten reading. If you are a parent or grandparent of a preschool age child you may have been told this by a well-meaning teacher or other parent. If you have been told this, my first piece of advice is do not panic!   In order for children to learn to read there are some basic building blocks that must be in place. The building blocks necessary include: vocabulary, storytelling, and phonological awareness. I will talk about these in more detail in just a bit, but first I would like to share a story about two little girls who learned to read in two very different ways. Little Girl 1 was very verbal from a very young age. She developed a very large vocabulary, loved to listen to books and retell stories and learned the names of letters and the sounds that they made as well. Her well-meaning mother thought that she could speed up the proc

Some Things I Find "Unusually" Interesting

Before you begin reading this post, please take time to review the tag line. It states, the ramblings of a retired early childhood educator, beginning blogger, and lover of hound dogs. Please pay particular attention to the word "ramblings." This post will probably be all over the place with unrelated thoughts. Just have some things I am thinking about today. The first thing I have found "unusually" interesting since I have retired is my ability to actually walk for longer periods of time (more than 5  minutes)  and for longer distances (more than from my desk to the kitchen). In the past I would periodically go through "phases" when I would take early morning walks before work or walk on a treadmill at the gym after work all in the name of exercise. However, I have to admit that I rarely, if ever, actually enjoyed those times. I have to give credit for this new found ability to my wonder pups, Quincy and Gracie. The day I actually became aware that we

Retirement, Simple Living, Family, and Me

I spent last Saturday attending the wedding of my brother's youngest daughter. The bride and groom are blending two families, with all girls , five altogether. Everything about the day was perfect! Katie and Adam It was also a chance to visit with my siblings and nieces and nephews. My sister's daughter is expecting a baby boy in January. Much excitement surrounds this occasion as it will be my sister's first grandchild. There was discussion on selecting the baby's name but let's face it, that is ultimately up to the parents. The other name selection up for discussion was what the grandparents want to be called. This actually generated more input and suggestions from others than the name for the baby! The Fam It seems like in today's times, monikers such as Grandmother, Granddad, Grandfather, Granny, and Grandpa have given way to more "hip" names like G-pa, Gigi, Nana, Bumpy,and Poppy.  All this family together time and talk about weddi

Max and Ruby and Yoko, Oh My!

One of my favorite authors is Rosemary Wells. She is an American writer and illustrator well known for her Max and Ruby series.  This series follows the everyday adventures of bunny siblings, curious 3 year old Max and bossy 7 year old Ruby. She also has several other series including, stories about Yoko, a Japanese kitten who faces many obstacles in her quest to fit in and Sophie, a 2 year old mouse.. With Sophie, Rosemary Wells captures a quintessential part of childhood--the terrible twos. Ms. Wells has stated that she uses animals as characters because it allows her to " address sophisticated , controversial topics in ways children can understand and adults can accept." The book YOKO tackles racism. It is about a young Japanese kitten who is ostracized when she brings sushi in her school lunch. She gains acceptance by hosting a school luncheon where everyone brings food native to their family. Everyone agrees that trying other foods has its advantages and learns

If I Could Have A "Do Over"

Not too long ago I had someone ask me, "if you were going back to the classroom this year, what would you take with you?"  In other words, what would I do differently? Or would I do anything differently? At first I answered, "I would be more intentional in my teaching." As the Early Years Learning Framework puts it, "intentional teaching involves educators being deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and action. Intentional teaching is the opposite of teaching by rote or continuing with tradition simply because things have.." During my visits in classrooms, I was somewhat surprised to see what is considered "old school" teaching still happening. For example, young children being kept in large groups doing the same activity, being asked to sit still for long periods of time, and being reminded time after time that they are "getting ready" for kindergarten and they need to act like it. When I spoke with teachers ab

Outdoor Play Space Versus A Playground

Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid! Okay, so this might be a bit on the dramatic side. However, parents of young children , if you are choosing a childcare facility for your child based on the playground and this is what you see upon arrival at the center, just turn around and drive away!! More than likely, this is similar to what you will see. But, what if you saw this instead?  We know that young children need vigorous physical play daily and that this play should take place outdoors for at least one hour. Unstructured outdoor play allows for a "no pressure" situation. According to Angela J. Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and author, " When engaging in active free play, children can play with others or not, make up their own rules or follow someone else's, be rough and tumble or quiet and contemplative." In an article published in Early Childhood News Magazine, authors Randy White and Vicki Stoecklin write,

Five Fast Facts About Outdoor Play

  There is much talk among experts today about the need for children to spend more time outdoors engaged in physical activity. When I was little, I spent most of my time outdoors. After school hours I hit the door, changed clothes, and I was outside until dark. On weekends, from dawn until dusk you could find me riding my bike, making a covered wagon, marking off corrals for my horses, and chasing after my older brother and his friends. There were two city parks within walking distance as well. Many summertime hours were spent in the pool at one and using the climbing equipment and the ginormous slide at the other one. The best part, however, was the open field across the street. It covered about 6 city blocks, had small berms, trees, and tall grass. Lots of games of chase and hide and seek took place there as well as fort building and time spent just sitting and thinking. It seems that it was just a "normal" thing to do, back in the day.  I have created a "fi

Advice for Raising a Wee Bairn

On our recent trip to Scotland, our driver and guide for our tour to the Highlands, Ewan, spoke often of his family. He and his wife live in Edinburgh and have one child, a little girl, who is two years old. He expressed concerns about her future in terms of where they live and where she receives her schooling.   Isle of Seil, Scotland At one of our stops in a small fishing village, I crossed the road to get a closer look at a primary school building .As I stood admiring the simplicity of the school building and the playground, Ewan crossed the road and came to stand beside me.  He expressed his wish that his "wee one" could go to school in a small highland village such as this one and learn to appreciate and feel that she is a part of her culture. I didn't offer any "sage" advice at that time but I began to think about what would be the top three things to tell a dad who wants his daughter to grow up strong and happy.  I came up with the follo

Retirement, World Travel, and Me.

Our Scotland trip continued as we joined a group on a guided tour. The company, based in Edinburgh, uses 16 passenger buses so the group is small and the guides are native Scots who are well versed in the history of the country.  I'm just going to go ahead and give a shout out to Rabbies Tours. If you are ever in Scotland, Ireland, England, or France I recommend looking them up and seeing what they have to offer! Our driver, Ewan, greeted us wearing a smile and a kilt! He was a native Highlander and was really friendly and funny from the get go. We had people from Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and Germany on our bus. He urged us to quickly become acquainted with each other as we would be spending the next 5 days together and the bus wasn't going to get any bigger. He was a super tour guide as he used sound effects and carefully selected music to enhance the stories he told us as we traveled into the Highlands. He also had a bathroom rating scale for each stop. Now