Yard Duty and Campus Supervisors Serve on Campus’ Front Lines

This week I had the privilege of training yard duty for Modesto City Schools for two days and one day for campus supervisors. In honor of their dedication to students and the start of another school year, I’m re-posting this blog. Thanks for your investment in our community’s children.

The men and women whose job title is, “Yard Duty” or “Campus Supervisor,” don’t get near the recognition they deserve. Yard duty are on the “front lines” of our elementary schools while campus supervisors are on the “front lines” of junior and senior high schools.

If you want to know what’s happening at your local school site, they know. They know because they spend time with students while they’re not in classes. This includes time before school, passing periods, recesses, lunches, and after school. They are amongst different groups of students most of the day.

Changes. During the summer 2015, Modesto City Schools changed work hours and the number of yard duty at many sites. I have the privilege of working with many of the employees in these roles at 16 school sites. Yard duty and campus supervisors have a huge sphere of influence. It’s the reason so many restorative practices training hours are invested in them.

Why do they do this kind of work? A large number of them wanted to work, but also wanted to be around their own children. At last week’s training, one site had four of six yard duty who began working when their children started elementary school. Their children are now attending junior and senior high schools, but they’re still there. Why? They enjoy working with students and making a difference in their lives.

At Work. I wish you could see yard duty and campus supervisors interact with our young people. Last December, my husband had that opportunity. Our granddaughter, Khloe, was having tubes in her ears so our grandson, Parker, stayed with us. Papa took him to school in the morning. He asks, “Parker, where do I drop you off?”

“Just drive by the front and I get out,” he explains. Papa drives his car through the parking lot. A yard duty approaches the car and opens Parker’s door.

“Hi Parker. How are you? Where’s Khloe today?” she asks.

Nurturing School Climate. My husband was so impressed that she knew each of our grandchildren and called them by name. I was too. But I shouldn’t have been. Greeting each student by name is recommended as part of a positive and nurturing school climate – helping each student feel welcome and cared for at school.

Next time you see a yard duty or campus supervisor, I’m sure they’d appreciate a few kind words. After all, they have a significant impact on our students every day.

 

Image source: TK3401_and_TK3501D [commons.wikimedia.org]

Choices: Fast Food or Leftovers?

While reading the latest magazine and waiting for an x-ray at the busy clinic, an eight-year-old girl

hamburger-1198649-swith dark eyes and a curly brown ponytail catches my attention. Anything is more interesting than a magazine a few years old that no one has bothered to steal yet. The girl whispers a secret in her friend’s ear; they both giggle.

Anticipating an afternoon playing together, the mother casually inquires, “What do you want for lunch?”

Their faces beam as they simultaneously declare, “McDonald’s!”

Of course they want McDonald’s. What kid doesn’t?

“Well, we’re going to have leftovers from last night,” the mother casually comments.

The girls’ smiles fade.

No Intention. Leftovers, I ponder. Who wants leftovers when you think you’re going to get McDonald’s? My joy observing the girls dwindles. Another parent giving children a choice while she never intends to let them choose. It won’t be the last time I witness this dilemma.

In my last blog, At What Age? the key question was, how are you intentionally allowing your child to make increasingly more choices and God honoring decisions as he or she launches into adulthood? Today we’ll explore giving children choices, benefits of choices, and building basic decision making skills.

Making Choices. Learning to make choices actually begins in toddlerhood. Parents and caregivers can offer simple, either-or choices to children. “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the green shirt?” “Would you like yogurt or applesauce for snack?” Even toddlers can point to what they want. “Choices offered to young children must be legitimate and meaningful to them and acceptable to adults,” explains Dr. Sue Grossman in Early Childhood News. 1

Follow Through. Don’t give a choice if you don’t intend to follow through. The mother in the waiting room could have stated, “We have leftover casserole and macaroni salad for lunch today. Would you girls like to eat lunch outside on a picnic blanket or in the kitchen after our appointment?”

Simple Choices. In preschool, children can begin choosing from more than two options. My four-year-old grandson loves grocery shopping with Grams. Besides organizing the shelves, he proudly selects juice from a number of varieties or yogurt flavors. “Limiting the quantity of choices is actually helping your child be successful in the decision-making process,” notes Dr. Alexandra Delis-Abrams, author of Children, Choices, and Consequences. 2

Avoiding “NO.” In an effort to increase children’s choices, sometimes parents give children more choices than they’re developmentally ready for or are beyond their cognitive abilities. For example, “Do you want to go to bed now?” will most assuredly be answered, “No.” Where do you want to go on vacation may be answered, “Disneyland!” while you’re planning on a camping budget.

Contribute to Choices. Children do not get to make every choice, however, within many parent-made decisions, children can still contribute to choices. “Next week we’re going on a family campout. Do you want to go fishing, boating, hiking or swimming on Saturday?” “Do you want me to read you a story or would you like to read for ten minutes on your own before the lights go out?” Our daughters became so accustomed to making choices, that sometimes our response was, “This is not, Let’s Make a Deal. This is a parent decision.”

Choosing Activities. As children enter elementary school, helping them determine outcomes of choices becomes imperative. “I want to play soccer this year,” our six-year-old daughter shares. “It looks like fun.” But what does she really know about being on a soccer team? “Too many times a child is given the power to make the decision without the information first,” notes the founder of ABC Feelings. 2

Engaging Questions. Does my daughter understand that she must practice three times a week? Does she recognize that a coach will be teaching her how to play? What does she comprehend about teamwork, winning, and losing? Have we explained that if she chooses to play she’s expected to complete the twelve-week season? Although this may sound overwhelming for children, this discussion develops reasoning skills and accepting personal responsibility for choices which will serve them well for a lifetime.

Problem Solving. Helping school-age children determine possibilities before adolescence is invaluable and builds strong problem-solving foundations. Asking situational questions like, “What would you do if a stranger asked you to help him find his kitty?” to “What do you think about the decision Joey made on TV last night?” require critical thinking skills. Setting up situational scenarios and asking thought-provoking questions play a critical role in adolescence when the stakes are higher and the costs are greater.

“You are capable.” Allowing children to make choices helps them developmentally in several ways. Children build autonomy, a fancy word for independence. Adults make so many decisions for children, that when children get to choose they possess a sense of control. They feel validated when parents and other adults send the message, “You are capable. What you say is important and matters.” Training in problem solving empowers children for future decision-making. Children are more committed when they’ve made the choice for themselves.

Fond Memories. Our daughter chose soccer year after year. She even played a few winter sessions in the mud and rain, her favorite way to play. When my husband and I see children in soccer uniforms on fall Saturday mornings, it brings back fond memories…. watching her valiantly defending the goal, her excitement when she wins, and forming strong friendships. Then we remember the year she chose not to play soccer. And that’s another story.

Sources:

1. Dr. Sue Grossman, Ph.D. Offering Children Choices: Encouraging Autonomy and Learning While Minimizing Conflict, Early Childhood News. www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychldhood/article_print.aspx. Accessed June 20, 2012.

2. Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D. Children, Choices, and Consequences. www.abcfeelings.com Accessed June 20, 2012.


At What Age?

 
At what age will you allow your children to DECIDE…
  • the condition of their bedroom?
  • the clothes they wear?
  • their hairstyle?
  • what television shows they view?
  • the music they listen to?
  • the movies they see?
  • the friends they choose?
  • pack their clothes for a trip?
  • how often they use their phone & texting?
  • what they do on their computer, IPod & other electronics?
  • when they do their homework?
  • the classes they take at school?
  • whether to attend church with you?
  • how they spend their money?
  • who they date & when?
  • where to work?
  • where they will live?
  • what career they’ll choose?
                 

In my last blog, Dependence to Independence, the analogy of your children being 100% dependent on you at birth and becoming 100% independent from you as they launch into young adulthood, is the foundation to these questions. Is your nine-year-old making 50% of his/her daily decisions? Is your 12 1/2 year-old making 75% of his/her decisions? Of course, this isn’t an exact formula, but the key question is, How are you intentionally allowing your child to make increasingly more choices? I realize this concept is frightening, but it is even more frightening to launch a young person into today’s secular world not possessing the life-skills, responsibility, and decision making abilities to make God honoring choices throughout adulthood. It’s your privilege & responsibility to decide how you will train up your sons and daughters in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

Dependence to Independence

Your blotchy, wrinkled newborn baby lays in your arms. Quickly forgotten is the pain of childbirth and angry threats, “I’m never having sex again.”
 
“He’s got your eyes,” coos daddy.
 
“We’ll be the best parents ever,” mommy tiredly suggests.
 
Your newborn or adopted child is a gift from God. And this gift is 100% dependent on you – the parent. The newborn needs you for everything: feeding, diapering, burping, rocking, holding, more feeding, more diapering. You capture all the “firsts” in pictures. As junior takes his first steps away from you, he is gaining independence.  You cry on her first day of kindergarten, certain that she will always be your little girl.
 
That is, until the day hormones kick in and your child retorts, “You can’t make me.” Your son begins middle school. Your daughter wants a strapless dress for 8th grade graduation. You comfort yourself that you still have four more years of high school. But the years continue to fly by even faster, and your young adult daughter or son stands at the threshold of adulthood crossing the graduation stage with diploma in hand.
 
With tear filled eyes and pride swelling in your heart, you wonder, “Did I prepare him? Does she know how much I love her? Will he remember the importance of God in his life? Will she become successful?”
 
The answer to those questions actually began before birth.
  • What was your purpose and goals as parents?
  • What plans did you make to help your son launch into adulthood?
  • What skills would your daughter need to live independently?
 
Remember that 100% dependent newborn? Imagine that at age eighteen, your child is leaving the nest for college or vocational training, is serving our country, or becomes employed and is beginning to live on his/her own. Consider that 18-year-old 100% “independent.” Some young people will leave their homes earlier, while others leave later. However, for this example, if we use age 18, that means that at age nine, your child is 50% on his way to independence. At age 13 1/2, your teenager is 75% independent from you. Sound scary?
 
It is, unless you plan ahead and intentionally prepare your son or daughter to enter adulthood. Our intentional parenting purpose was, “To raise our children to live independently, become a contributing member of society, and love & serve the Lord.” Every parenting decision made was aimed toward that goal.
 
Whether your child is young or already a teenager, it is not too late to determine your parenting goal or philosophy. What’s your parenting purpose?   

Bickering kids? Try People Smart Activities

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

Are your kids arguing with one another? Are they grouchy and hard to get along with? Try one of the eight Multiple Intelligences: People Smart. In this blog, you’ll find characteristics of people smart and activities to do with your kids to foster People Smart.

People Smart Characteristics

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Verbal, non-verbal communication
  • Understands others’ feelings; empathizes
  • Works /plays cooperatively in a group
  • Understands feelings from facial expressions, gestures & voice

Activities to Develop People Smart

First time 2 year-old Kylie plays Hungry, Hungry Hippo with cousins Parker 6, and Khloe 4.

First time 2 year-old Kylie plays Hungry, Hungry Hippo with cousins Parker 6, and Khloe 4

  • Play old-fashioned board games
  • Make up words & play body language charades (whisper word for pre-readers)
  • Read Bible stories that feature character traits. For example, Daniel in the lion’s den and courage. Focus on ways the family can demonstrate the selected trait this week. At the end of the day, ask how each person used the trait.
  • Serve God by helping others. Ask your kids for ideas or give them choices, such as: make a card of encouragement & mail/deliver it; visit an elderly person; bake cookies for a busy neighbor; serve the homeless; bring a meal to a widow or invite a widow for a meal; mow the lawn for someone who’s sick or an elderly neighbor
  • “What would you do if . . . ?” Create age-appropriate stories where school-age kids face a dilemma. Ask, “What would you do if . . . ?” Great discussion starters. (School-Age)

What can you do this week? Please share what you tried.

Additional Resources

Exploring God’s World: Nature Smart

DSC_0243

Kylie (2 1/2) brushing goat at Oakland Zoo, March 2015

It’s already the middle of summer. Your kids have seen all the summer hit movies. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV and electronics and spend some time outdoors.

Being outdoors is a great way to develop another one of the multiple intelligences: nature smart. This is my favorite intelligence. In this blog, you’ll find many activities to do with your children and grandchildren.

Nature Smart Characteristics

    • Strong connection to outdoors 1
    • Exhibits outdoor imaginative play using environment (dirt, sand, plants) 2
    • Likes to spend time outdoors observing plants/animals, collecting nature items, catching insects, butterflies 1
    • Collects nature items & sorts them 3

Activities to Develop Nature Smart

  • Turn off TV/electronics & go outside; 3 the natural world becomes part of play 4
  • Take walks and hikes
  • Explore nature items (shells, pinecones, branches, seeds, feathers, tree stumps, rocks, dirt)
  • Point out intricacies of God’s creations
  • Grow something or take care of small animal; learn about life cycle/seasons 3
  • Choose nature friendly day trips & vacations 3
  • Visit pet stores, aquariums, zoos & museums
  • Make a family nature journal that everyone contributes to 4
  • Nature journal ideas: record facts, identify plants/animals, draw, collect nature items & glue in journal 4
  • “Vacationing with the Bears” – Pitch a tent & camp in your backyard
  • In the backyard – identify local plants; animals; insects; count birds; build a bird feeder, look for dead items 1
  • Take a nature walk and collect seasonal items
  • Then create nature art: make collage, pine cone animals, leaf-people, feather poster 4
  • Use photos & books about animals and the natural world to explain topics that are interesting 5

Resources:

Book of Stuff to Do. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/

Parent Guide. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/

 

Sources:

  1. Multiple Intelligences: Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style. Sue Douglass Fliess on March 5, 2009. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Multiple_Intelligences/ Accessed April 4, 2016.
  2. Multiple Intelligencers Summary Wheel. Kathleen Rowlands. January 8, 2005. www.csun.edu/~rowlands/content/Academic_/Resource/Diversity. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  3. 6 Activities To Strengthen Children’s Nature-Smarts. January 5, 2013 by Maureen (Mo) Weinhardt, MS. http://growingwithyourchild.com/6-activities-to-strengthen-childrens-nature-smarts/ Accessed April 1, 2016.
  4. Smart Parenting: Using the Multiple Intelligences at Home. December 23, 203 by Julie Lemming. decodedparenting.com/smart-parenting-usingmultiple-intelligences… Accessed April 1, 2016.
  5. How Is Your Child Smart? www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/thinking-skills. Accessed 4/1/2016.
  6. Multiple Intelligences in Early Childhood. University of South Florida, Education Department http://www.coedu.usf.edu/~morris/multi_ec.html Accessed 2/11/2003.

 

 

Ideas for, “There’s nothing to do.” (Summer Edition)

sunflower-1442107_43185038-GreeberSummer’s beginning. It won’t be long until your kids’ whine, “There’s nothing to do.”

But don’t sweat it; here are ten summer fun activities that will keep your children occupied.

  1. Pitch a tent in the backyard and camp with Smokey the Bear.
  2. Plant seeds and grow healthy vegetables to harvest and cook. We just planted sunflowers for the birds to eat this fall.
  3. Take old bread to the park and feed the birds.
  4. Sprinklers are a forgotten play activity with so many yards watered automatically. With water shortages, turn off automatic sprinklers. Parents can easily adapt water volume for small children or bigger kids.
  5. Nature scavenger hunt. Identify items for children to find. They can draw what they find, mark it off a list, or take photos of each item.
  6. Remember sidewalk chalk. Lets children express their creativity and washes off easily.
  7. Dig in the dirt with shoes off. Shovels, water, containers, and trucks provide lots of fun. Hose down children when done! This is one of my grandson’s favorite activities. I keep a dirt area in the yard just for mud play.
  8. Tricycle/Bicycle Derby. Decorate bikes. Bike races by age groups. When we did this in our neighborhood, a boy in a
  9. Pets on Parade. Gather the pets, dress them up, and have a parade on your sidewalk. (Cats and dogs on leashes.)
  10. Don’t forget Flag Day on June 14th. Buy flags from a dollar store. Children create instruments such as drums, shakers, and tambourines. Then form a parade on your neighborhood sidewalks.

Make Day Trip Packing Easier with Preschoolers

Yeah, it’s summer. It’s time for day trips, weekend getaways, and vacations. Sounds like fun! Or does it? The thought of packing up an entire family for a day seems like too much effort. But what if you could teach your pre-school child to pack his or her own backpack or travel bag? It’s easier than you think.

Day Trips. Begin by teaching your three-to-five year old preschooler to pack for day trips, like a trip to the lake or beach. Here are four tips for helping your preschooler pack.

Tip #1: Show and Tell. If your child has never been to the beach (or wherever you’re going), find picture books at your local library. Tell your child what you’ll be doing. For example, “We’re going to the beach. You’ll get to play in the sand and go in the water. It’s going to be so much fun! What clothes and toys do you need to pack for the beach?”

Tip #2: Prompts and Questions. Help your child know what to bring by asking questions. For example, “What three things would you like to bring so you can play in the sand?” It is ideal if your preschooler has her own backpack or travel bag to use for packing.

Tip #3: Let the Fun Begin. Pack with your preschooler the day before so it will be less stressful. When it’s time to pack the car, ask your preschooler to get his bag and carry it to the car.

Sunny Days. When we moved to Southern California (think sunny days) our daughters were four and six. Almost daily after school, the three of us traipsed to the sun drenched lake. Both girls carried their own plastic pink or purple tote for their beach towel and any other items they wanted, such as sand toys. They were entirely responsible for packing their bags and toting them to and from the car and lake.

Tip #4: Remember Your Purpose. When I share about training preschoolers to pack, a Mom typically questions, “But what if your daughter forgot her towel?” (Or other important item needed).

Not all parents are comfortable with my answer. My answer is based on the big picture, not the immediate. “If she forgot her towel, she was wet for a few minutes. Or maybe her sister shared her towel.”

The purpose is to train your children when they are young. Our girls quickly learned, just as your preschoolers will learn. They are responsible for their items, not Mommy or Daddy. Before you know it, your preschooler will be able to pack for a day trip with limited or no help from you. Now enjoy your day trip with your preschooler.

 

Image Sources: boy-141754_child sea ocean [pixabay.com] and Bags on Platamona Beach 3838879957 [flickr.com]

 

 

Gliding Effortlessly

The great egret glides effortlessly before her feet touch Lake Camanche’s shore. As I kayak fifty feet out along the shoreline I wonder, what would it be like to glide effortlessly through life. The egret makes it look so easy.

I lay my paddle across my kayak, lean back and ponder more about nature and life. Waves from a distant motor boat rock my kayak gently. The temperature is a perfect 84 degrees with a slight wind. The flock of Canada Geese honk to notify me that they don’t want my kayak too nearby.

After a few minutes I realize I’m gliding effortlessly. Ah yes, this is what it feels like. What other times in my life have I glided effortlessly and not realized it?

I’ve only kayaked five or six times but I absolutely treasure the tranquility of nature. Many of my effortless moments are with nature and God. When I kayak I’m more observant because I’m without my DSL camera. It’s not waterproof, so my senses capture the sights and sounds.

Snowy egret takes flight

Another day while paddling down the Stanislaus River a fawn leaps four times across the narrow stream just twenty feet in front of my kayak. The fawn quickly hides behind the bushes but I can still see her white spots. Those kayaking behind me call out, “Is there another one?”

A baby most likely has a mother somewhere near. And there she is. Leaping across the water in only two steps she reaches her fawn. Time stands still. It is an effortless moment.

During the early years of my brain impairment I had periods of time when I couldn’t move nor speak. As I felt a “spell” come on, I laid on the couch. My world grew dark and unchanging except for background sounds and voices. Much of my day was spent this way since these “fading spells” could happen four to five times a day for 30 minutes to two hours at a time.

The longer the spell lasted the further away I drifted from this world. When the spell was particularly long and dark, I often felt like I was momentarily going to see Jesus face to face. My life felt effortless. I could do nothing but breathe and listen.

I used these moments to talk to God. With limited capacity, my prayers were almost child-like. “Thank you for my life. I love you, God. Take care of Rick. Bless my family. Help them when I’m gone. See you soon.” Effortless.

Until my reality returns. I’m still here. God hasn’t taken me home.

In 2012, God led me to Stanford Hospital’s Neurology & Epilepsy Department. Hospitalized for two weeks, the medical team reaches a diagnosis. After eight weeks in a day-patient program in Concord, I begin a weekly treatment program at Stanford in January 2013. For two years, family, friends, and acquaintances who became friends drive me back and forth to the Bay Area.

I learn to manage many symptoms so they don’t take over my life. Thankfully, my fading spells are gone. I don’t spend hours in darkness unable to move and speak.

But day-to-day life is anything but effortless. Although many symptoms are gone, my brain impairment still lingers. There is no cure. I remain on disability, unable to work. But this time allows me freedom to enjoy nature more often. When I focus on the Lord and what He has right in front of me, I glide effortlessly.

I’m re-posting this on June 23, 2018. Today I went kayaking at Lodi Lake. Not ten minutes into my adventure and a snowy egret takes flight and lands 10 feet away. Again, I glide effortlessly.

Teens & Money: Designer Jeans, Coupons and Budgets

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D.sale-1430736-s

“Why do we always have to use a coupon to buy clothes?” laments my eleven-year-old daughter. “I want them today.”

“You know we have a clothing budget. We can get more for our money if we wait until the item is on sale and we have a coupon,” I try explaining once again.

“Everyone else’s mom just buys their designer jeans even if they’re not on sale,” she retorts trying for the mother guilt button.

The Budget

But this conversation changed significantly one year later when our seventh grader was given her very own clothing budget. “Mom, do you have any coupons? I need some jeans,” I proudly heard. She was allotted a monthly amount but could use up to three months of budget money at a time if necessary. Since our daughters were in year-round school, budget money for three months seemed reasonable.

Planning

No, we didn’t just give our adolescents money and let them have a free for all. We talked about special events coming up, seasonal items like coats and swimsuits, what still fits from last season, do they need new undergarments, what about shoes, ways they can update their wardrobe inexpensively, and yes, how buying items on sale and using coupons saves money.

Care of Clothes

Because they knew the cost of every item purchased, they took great care of their clothes when they began doing their own laundry at age thirteen (Laundry or Writing?).

Special Events

As they entered high school and needed dresses for special events such as the winter formal and the prom, we paid for half the dress cost up to a certain amount. Young men will need additional budget money for winter formal sports coats and renting tuxedoes for the prom.

Designer Clothes

When they wanted additional clothing or designer clothing items that cost more, they used gift money or worked for extra money. Other families we know paid up to a certain amount for clothing items, such as a pair of jean or athletic shoes, and the young person paid the difference.

How Much Money?

I’m purposely not sharing how much money we gave our daughters for two reasons. First, they are young adults and inflation has occurred since they were teenagers. Second, each family has an income; some may have a larger budget for clothing, while other families will have smaller budgets.

You may think you can’t afford to give your adolescents a clothing budget, but if you honestly track how much you spend on their clothes, shoes, undergarments, etc. it adds up quickly. The point isn’t so much about how much you allot for their budget, but teaching them the principles of money management.

Resist the Urge to Rescue

When you transition the budget responsibility to your young adults, please resist the temptation to rescue them when they spend all their clothing money and need something. They will not learn to plan ahead and use their money wisely if you rescue them.

Keep in mind that they will eventually learn to live with the consequences if you allow them opportunities to learn. And in no time, they’ll start asking, “Do you have any coupons?” and you will know you’ve done your job.

What Works for You?

How are you teaching your adolescents about money? How do you handle their clothing purchases? What lessons have your adolescents learned about money management?

Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/.sale-1430736-s. Accessed 4/17/2014.