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Thursday, September 27, 2012

What feels right can be so wrong

My friends Dave and Samantha have just had their first baby. Do you remember what that was like- that first few months where you really had no parenting experience to fall back on, where everything was new?

"How's Sam going?" I asked when I saw Dave recently. Sam had looked pretty confident when I last saw her, but maybe things were less serene behind the scenes; her family is far away, so she's been a bit short of support.

Animals have incredible parenting
instincts. Can we rely on instinct
in our parenting too?
"I reckon she's going really well," replied Dave. "She does a lot of reading on the net trying to work out the best way to do things, but it's all pretty contradictory. You've got all these experts, and none of them agree with each other. I told her to forget all that and just go with her instincts."

Dave had a point. There's just SO much information out there that it's very hard for a new mum looking for advice to make sense of it all. How can you tell what's an informed point of view, versus  the ramblings of some self-appointed guru with an opinion and an agenda? It's easy to conclude that you can only go with what feels right to you.

I wish it was that simple. But the complex truth is that in some cases, what feels right to you isn't necessarily the best thing for your children.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Standing in the shoes of a preschool bully

I've had another request for help from a reader, and I'd like to share my thoughts with you all. It's a pretty common problem, and it's an important one to nip in the bud. Most of us who've worked in childcare have had to deal with a preschooler who is demonstrating unacceptably antisocial behaviour while in care- behaviour that we would identify as bullying in an older child.

It's terribly frustrating. It can make us very angry on behalf of the children who are being hurt or frightened. But I want to put you into the shoes of the preschooler who acts like a bully, because understanding is the only way you will fix this problem. Maybe that child can't empathise with his peers- but somehow, you will have to find a way to empathise with that child and to offer him love and compassion if you want to find a solution. You have to work with him, not against him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sharing our true selves: from baby talk to difficult events

Maybe you saw this great post by Abundant Life Children, about the small behavioural changes we can make in ourselves to improve our relationships with children. At the end, Emily invited readers to add their own tips for making small but effective changes to improve our journey together.

My baby got my true self from the start.
My career made me happy, and I never
hid that from him.

My tip was that we should share our true selves with our children. I encouraged her readers to share their thoughts and feelings with their children honestly. And I thought I might elaborate on that a little, because there's a reason I feel so strongly about it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

About teaching two Rs, and moving a donkey

Exploring the shape of 4. I didn't say
a single word. This is self-directed
Pushing down the curriculum is a hot topic in Early Childhood circles at the moment. Developmentally speaking, it's quite clear that young children learn through self-directed play- and that hounding them to sit down and learn their alphabet and their numbers is actually counter-productive. (Don't mention worksheets. PLEASE, don't mention them. And if you mention homework for preschoolers, I may have to block you.)

Honestly, the way some education authorities are behaving, it's like they've decided that children's academic progress is some sort of donkey that they have to get moving against its will. They push the donkey driver in the back, and the donkey driver looks scared and whips the donkey, and the donkey looks around stubbornly as if to say "I'll go when I'm ready" and stays right where it is, and the donkey driver gets blamed. Pushing a donkey is idiotic and ineffective, and so is pushing down the curriculum so the teachers have to try to force all little children to learn their letters and numbers whether or not they're ready.

But that doesn't mean that we can't expose our children to literacy and numeracy in the early years. In fact, even in EC facilities where play-based learning is at the fore of programming, teachers are required to provide literacy and numeracy experiences.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to be an 'expert' problem-solver: 3 tips

Some of you may have read this recent post by An Honest Mom, in which she very kindly refers to me as an 'expert' after I gave her some advice about her child's problems at daycare.

Well, you know, that got me thinking, because 'expert' is a word that I would usually associate with having lots of degrees in a certain field of learning, a very high profile amongst one's colleagues and possibly a bit of media coverage... hmm, this doesn't sound like me! I mean, it's not like I've got a Masters in Early Childhood or write a regular column for Rattler Magazine or anything. 

Sure, I've spent a lot of time with children. So have a lot of other people, and some of them would give advice that makes your skin crawl. So it's not just about my experience.

And that made me think that if I can develop some expertise without impressive pieces of paper and world-wide kudos, maybe it's not beyond you to become an 'expert' in dealing with your child's problems. I started to break down what it is that's made me a source of expertise. Maybe if you follow in my footsteps, you can empower yourself as a problem-solver.