Exploring God’s World: Nature Smart

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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.

Teens & Money: To Work or Not to Work?

online-jobs-concept-1417325-mDr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Maybe you’ve asked yourself, should my teenager get a job? If and when your teenager gets a job is a controversial decision.

Many parents don’t want their young person to work and focus only on school. Others expect their teens to work and contribute to the family’s income. This has become more of a reality for many families due to the economy.

Benefits of Working

A young person working has many benefits. First, they become more financially responsible when it comes to spending “their” money. They can purchase things that are beyond the family budget, such as a car or a stereo system. Second, they can save for long-term expenses, such as college or a down payment on a car. Third, they learn how to set priorities, and manage both their money and time more effectively.

Number of Hours

A longitudinal study showed that the number of hours 10th grade and 12th grade high school students work is correlated to their grade point averages. “The determining factors seem to be the number of hours worked during a week. Students who work less than 13 hours a week in the 10th grade and less than 11 hours a week in the 12th grade perform better than students who do not work but once students exceed the number of hours per week there is a significant drop in their GPA’s compared to non-working students.” 1

Work Experience

Teens also gain valuable work experience especially if they can find work related to their interests. Many colleges ask applicants to list work experience or volunteering related to the school they’re applying to. For example, if your child wants to become a veterinarian, help them locate work with animals. If they’re headed towards a medical career, find work in a doctor’s office or hospital.

Hidden Costs

There’s a hidden cost of your son or daughter not liking their future career upon graduation. It is cost effective to insure your kids like the field they are studying. I can’t tell you how many teachers I know who earned a teaching credential, only to find out within five years of employment, they don’t really like kids. What if they found that out in advance by working in your city’s recreation department or in a children’s Sunday School class? Getting a job after a college degree and finding out they don’t like this work is extremely expensive not only financially, but in time and energy as well.

After Graduation

A final benefit of teens working is that they gain work experiences that will assist them upon college graduation. Since there’s so much competition for jobs amongst college graduates, related work experience and volunteering adds to their potential employability. Yes, there are a few disadvantages of teens working, but what they gain towards becoming a responsible adult far outweighs the cons.

Source:

  1. Quirk, Kimberly J., Timothy Z. Keith, and Jeffery T. Quirk. “Employment During High School and Student Achievement: Longitudinal Analysis of National Data.” Journal of Educational Research, 95 (2001).

Teens & Money: Who Pays for College?

accounting-calculator-and-planner-90371-m-www.whitespark.ca_College expenses are rising every year and both students and parents alike wonder how they’ll afford a college education. If you have the finances to pay for your child’s entire college expenses, please reconsider.

When Parents Pay

As a college professor I’ve witnessed the results of parents paying for their kid’s entire expenses. These students are less responsible for their education because they have no vested interest. I hear students flippantly comment, “So what if lost my textbook. Too bad I failed that class. I can just take it again. My parents will pay for…”.

Your Student’s Share

Consider allowing your student to pay for certain expenses, such as their clothing, entertainment, car payments and insurance, textbooks, course materials, or even several of these categories. It will pay off in dividends. They will become more conscientious students which ultimately results in less overall expenses. When students are vested in their education, they’re more likely to attain their goals in a timely manner.

College and Car Insurance

If your son or daughter is attending college so their car insurance is covered under your policy, within six weeks, most of them won’t be attending classes. When I meet students each semester I share, “Your parents’ car insurance won’t motivate you to arrive twice a week for an 8:00 A.M. class. You must have your own personal reasons for obtaining a college education or you’ll drop out.”

College Drop Outs

Unfortunately many young people drop out of college. A new study by Harvard University reports that, “Only 56 percent of the students who enter America’s colleges and universities graduate within six years, while only 29 percent of students who enter two-year programs complete their degrees within three years, the study found.”1

Expectations

Raising financially responsible young people is possible, but requires advanced planning. In order to train your son or daughter, you need to know what your financial expectations are for your family. Then together with your young person, you can create a financial plan that works for everyone.

Source:

1. Study: Nearly Half Of America’s College Students Drop Out Before Receiving A Degree, Travis Waldron on Mar 28, 2012, thinkprogress.org/education/2012/03. Accessed 6/10/2013.

Yard Duty and Campus Supervisors Serve on Campus’ Front Lines

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]

Disturbed. Very Disturbed.

The recent school shootings came closer to home today. Too close. While I was helping in my grandchild’s second grade class, three boys started talking to me. One said, “A six-year-old boy was killed at school.”

I asked, “How do you feel about that?”

They all replied, “Scared.”

I’m disturbed.

For years, I’ve repeatedly listened to parents’ and relatives’ share stories about their children being bullied. Often the bullying has gone on for years. They report that the bullies who began bullying their children in elementary school continued bullying into junior high and even into high school.

I’m disturbed.

A high school employee shared about a recent incident on campus with a student who’s being bullied. The bully said, “Go ahead and cut yourself. No one cares about you anyways.”

I’m disturbed.

Then the adult added, “Some teachers won’t let students out of class to talk to someone about a bullying incident because ‘it’s just part of life.’”

I’m disturbed.

The only thing in common I keep hearing over many years seems to be the lack of school response. I can’t tell you how many times a parent or relative has told me about an incident(s) and said, “Nothing was done.”

I’m disturbed.

Last week when I was I Jacksonville, Florida for Youth for Christ’s Mid-Winter Conference, I shared my concerns with a mother who lives in Denver, Colorado. “I’m afraid it’s’ going to take a horrible shooting for the schools in the Modesto area to wake up.”

“It won’t make any difference. We have shootings almost every week,” she said.

I’m beyond disturbed. I’m shocked.

The CBS headline on February 14 was updated February 15th to read, “17 school shootings in 45 days — Florida massacre is one of many tragedies in 2018.”

Editor’s Note: “A previous version of this story, using data provided by Everytown for Gun Safety, said there were 18 school shootings in 2018. Everytown has since revised that number down to 17 after the Washington Post published an article disputing the group’s figures.”

I’m disturbed.

I’m not going to get into how many incidents were suicides, how many were accidents, how many resulted in no injuries, nor am I going to get into gun control. To be honest, I don’t really know what to do. But I do know how I feel.

I’m afraid for my three grandchildren.

I’m afraid for the three second grade boys.

I’m afraid for children in my community.

I’m afraid for America’s children.

Donald Trump said, “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

And yet children, teachers and grandmas helping in classrooms feel unsafe.

I’m disturbed. I’m very disturbed.

For more disturbing information, visit https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/14/florida-school-shooting-brings-yearly-tally-to-18-in-2018.html to learn more and view graphs of school shooting incidents since 2013.

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Image source: whitehouse.gov