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Sunday
Nov272016

On Toilet "Training"

Years ago I advised parents to do toilet training in a very condensed, adult-led and often-too-early manner.

In recent years I have been known to have changed...

I had watched many children struggle with toiletting, and had heard from countless parents and other providers that they've seen the same. I have since come to be more concerned that adults be very careful not to push toiletting before a child is ready. This is important!

I remember Bev Bos saying, (every time I heard her speak...because toiletting seems to be a preoccupation of adults) "A child can control two things. What goes in (their body) and what comes out." This is a reality of the preschool years. We make choices for our children in so many (sometimes too many) areas. Choosing when a child is to begin using the toilet and pressuring to force it to happen is simply not a good idea. 

My advice to parents in the last several years, as their child approaches the age of moving out of diapers is, "Wait. Simply wait until he is ready."

Today a piece entitled Why One Expert Argues Potty-Training Deadlines Are Harmful For Kids was being shared all over the internet. In this piece Steve Hodges, MD explains very clearly why toilet-training prior to readiness should be avoided.

Within the article, Dr Hodges provides a list of steps he recommends that preschools take in supporting young children with use of the toilet...a list that I really believe could be found helpful for parents, grandparents, and other care providers alike.

(note: the article includes a link to this ever-handy "How's Your Poop?" chart...silly but handy)

As I've been sharing this new-to-me-in-the-last-few-years idea about toilet "training" with families, I am enjoying the good fortune of watching children whose parents truly wait for their child's readiness in toiletting experience the pride of thier self-directed-toiletting child. It's so refreshing to have young children experience success on the toilet by their own choice! (I know...kinda silly...but true!)

As to how this works, very simply...when a child feels confident and at peace with the idea of using the toilet...and when a child feels safe and at peace in the care of adults supporting him...the task of toiletting is very simple for the child when he determines he is ready!

So...if you're a parent, grandparent, childcare provider, etc with questions/concerns about issues surrounding the toilet, I suggest starting with reading the above article and from there further perusing Dr Hodges' website and resources available...and wait...just wait and trust your child's lead!

Saturday
Nov122016

Santa's Watching... (and don't get me started on that little elf that sits on the shelf!)

MAYBE this could pass as a silly joke among adults,

(seen this morning on Facebook)

but it is inappropriate as a tool for use with children. 

Why must adults feel compelled to creatively find ways to bully children into compliance?! Yes...I said bully...because it is using one's power to induce choices made out of fear. That is bullying.

I worry about the adults who would use such tactics in their positions of guiding children. Honestly...what on earth are they so afraid will happen if they do not keep children's behavior under their adult control? Truly...what will happen if the children don't walk in a quiet, straight line?! A quiet, straight line?!?!?! What the hell is that??? My friends, colleagues and I NEVER walk in a quiet straight line!!! That would be weird.

I suggest we work on spending substantially less energy on creatively manipulating our children into submissive compliance in mundane tasks and spend substantially more energy on learning who each child is...creatively assessing how PRECISELY to meet each one's individual needs!

Also, how seriously creepy is it to be telling a child "around my neck I wear a little camera through which a strange man you do not know (aka a stranger) is watching everything you do and will use what he sees to decide the worth of your behaviors." SERIOUSLY...the strange man watching idea is horrible enough! And then this strange man is the one to determine how "good" you are?! AND THEN to think that I your teacher (one of the adults you are supposed to most be able to trust in this world) am acting as an assistant/tool to this strange man?! THAT IS SO CREEPY!

For those who'd like to hear more about this (and other) creepy little traditions our culture's adults practice in order to force young children into compliance, listen to my dear friends Dan Hodgins and Amy Ahola in their podcast Shakin' Bones on "Santa's Watching".

Wednesday
Nov092016

Politics and young children

Yesterday our nation experienced an election that rocked its people. It shook things up. By the end of the evening, some were pleased with the results and others found themselves speechless and devastated.

This morning I shared this piece. I heard today that some were surprised or a little put off by the piece, so I think it's important that I ellaborate on why I believe the piece is important to read and consider. The following post is a deeper explination of why we must know "What Do We Tell the Children?"!

I witness in my life parents of young children intending to remain informed and speak up for the choices they feel best. I also see those same parents untintentionally passing the weight of the politics on to their children. This concerns me for those children.

The piece I shared this morning (linked above) is entitled, "What Do We Tell The Children?" While I believe young children should NOT be burdened with the stress that is politics, the reality is that our children HAVE been burdened. They do not understand. They are trying to figure this all out. They are afraid. So YES...we must know WHAT to tell the children. We must know how to model and speak love so that when our children come up against fear and hatred (be it their own or that of others), they are able to find peace and act in love and peace. 

Let me give you a little insight that comes directly from our own program, which is filled with children of loving, intelligent, peace-wishing adults (meaning they aren't hate-filled, fear-mongering, horrible people).

Yesterday in our program several children were very clearly aware that election day was a BIG deal. We heard all about it. We know who many of our preschool parents voted for (remember...children tell all...we've often even heard about what underwear preschool parents wear and some mothers' bra-wearing choices).

We heard that _______ is mean.

We heard that _______ is rude.

We heard that _______ called ________ a liar.

When young children have differing ideas about what is true, they KNOW with absolute certainty that their belief is RIGHT...why? "Because mom saw on TV!"

We had a four year old girl telling other children that "bad things will happen if ______ becomes president." When asked by a teacher what bad things she expected would happen her response was, "I don't know." She carried fear clearly passed on to her by someone in her life, but not even a simple understanding of why.

One little boy was absolutely consumed with the election yesterday, trying everything he could to understand the whole ordeal. He asked every adult he could make contact with who they voted for. His stress over the issue meant that he needed to converse with everyone to try to figure out how this whole election thing works. 

Do you understand how stressfull... how absolutely scary this all is to a young child?! This is why it is critical that we do our best to be aware of the potential stress our children may carry.

Our children are surrounded by people with strong opinions, and often those opinions have very strong fears attached. The people sharing these fears could be: 

Peers...

Siblings...

Friends...

Extended family...

Parents...

Even very young children are taking on this stress/fear/anxiety.

When you converse with your friends about your political concerns...

when you read articles and watch debates that worry you...

when you commiserate with your friends and family over your fears of the ramifications of political decisions...

Your child is hearing it all!

I've heard the argument "I don't discuss politics with my child." Be careful...your child is perceptive. You are being watched and listened to even when you don't realize that you are. 

In a piece about "Teaching the 2016 Election" put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center, we learned weeks ago that

Every four years, teachers in the United States use the presidential election to impart valuable lessons to students about the electoral process, democracy, government and the responsibilities of citizenship.

But, for students and teachers alike, this year’s primary season is starkly different from any in recent memory. The results of an online survey conducted by Teaching Tolerancesuggest that the campaign is having a profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms.

It’s producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.

Other students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.

Educators are perplexed and conflicted about what to do. They report being stymied by the need to remain nonpartisan but disturbed by the anxiety in their classrooms and the lessons that children may be absorbing from this campaign.

See here for full article.

So yes...our children need to hear our voices. They need to see us act on love. They need to hear our words of peace. They need to know that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we love them, support them, and will do all it takes to keep them safe.

NO...don't wake your young child up and have a sit-down heart-to-heart about politics, but DO be very aware of your child's potential fears and needs surrounding the issue. While you may or may not have started the fear yourself it also may or may not be there. Listen and watch so as to know whether fear or stress is there. 

Please stop unintentionally passing political stress on to your young children. And if your child is already found to be in a place of awareness that likely causes fear, please provide healthy conversation for them as in the article at the top of this post that started this entire conversation!

Above all, model love for all. Model peace in your daily interactions with all people. Model hope and a passion for caring for others.

Please please be sure to pass on to your child the message of love and safety that they need to hear from the adults they trust the most!

Finally, I leave with you the message that was left to all of our preschool parents at the front door as they entered our school today...

 

Friday
Apr102015

To our parents...

I just want to take a moment to make a public statement that BLOOM PARENTS ROCK!

We had a parent meeting last night, which I THOROUGHLY enjoyed, and it struck me...

I am SOOO GRATEFUL for the parents of the preschool children in our program!

Parenting is a challenge in itself, but these parents...

They have proven, in selecting our program, that their children come first...not succombing to societal, peer, or academic pressure!

They take their children to the grocery store covered in colored marker because the face painting was important that day!

They invest their time in learning about how their children grow...taking one evening a month (sometimes more) to process early childhood learning topics with a group of like-minded parents and facilitators.

They invest greater than average time in bathing their children because they understand that getting "messy" is a part of the process for their children!

And quite possibly what makes the biggest impression on me is...

They TRUST us with the care of some of their favorite people in the universe!

THANK YOU BLOOM PARENTS!

Friday
Apr102015

Experiencing ticket rolls

When I go shopping, I look at things differently than perhaps many people do.

For instance, for several years I've eyed the ticket rolls at various stores thinking to myself "oh my goodness...I would have LOVED playing with those as a child. I should buy them for the preschoolers." Somehow though I've talked myself out of that purchase at least one hundred times by saying back to myself, "how on earth do you expect 16 children to use a couple rolls of tickets?! They will just unwrap them and be done." I somehow told myself that the value in the ticket rolls wasn't great enough to justify the purchase.

Well I finally stopped listening to myself and went ahead and bought some ticket rolls.

Here is what happened...

 

It's hard to tell what he is doing exactly, but look at this...

 I had no idea they would think to find such a tiny little space to use as a ticket sales distribution slot!

And what must one use in a preschool to purchase tickets?

Flowers seemed to work as payment!

All of the ticket rolls were in use, and this girl wanted a roll of her own so...

 She found a way to make one herself.

These tickets enjoyed a life in the hands of these children for many days. Some were even sent home with friends in little ticket envelopes with ticket cards made by little hands. 

The uses for these tickets were uncountable...from a sensory experience piling up strand after strand of tickets and jumping or sitting on it to carefully placing tickets one by one in a hole-in-the-lid yogurt container to fill the entire thing!

The learning here was TREMENDOUS. So very many opporutnities to practice fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, creativity, and SO MUCH MORE!

I'm so so glad that I finally followed that instinct of "I would have loved this as a child" and allowed these children such wonderful opportunity of experience!