I found this blog that I wrote four years ago. Nothing’s changed, but I still enjoy riding my bike.
1. I’d rather have a practical kick stand than have to lay my bike down just anywhere.
2. I’m not competitive; I ride for fun.
3. I can’t drink water out of a sports bottle without falling off my bike.
4. I use paper and pencil to track my miles, times, and speeds.
5. Check order when I fall off my bike: No broken nails! Am I hurt? Oh yeah, is the bike okay?
6. I’d rather eat a real chocolate candy bar than GU energy gel. (See photo)
7. I ask, “Do I need to ride faster?”
P.S. Maybe there’s hope for me. I laid my bike down to take a photo. Just had to get a shot of a wading bird!
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]
with 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.
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.
- 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).
- 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?
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
- 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.
- Blog: Common Questions Parents Ask about Childhood Friendships (2 parts)
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
Book of Stuff to Do. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/
Parent Guide. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/
- 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.
- Multiple Intelligencers Summary Wheel. Kathleen Rowlands. January 8, 2005. www.csun.edu/~rowlands/content/Academic_/Resource/Diversity. Accessed April 4, 2016.
- 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.
- Smart Parenting: Using the Multiple Intelligences at Home. December 23, 203 by Julie Lemming. decodedparenting.com/smart-parenting-using–multiple-intelligences… Accessed April 1, 2016.
- How Is Your Child Smart? www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/thinking-skills. Accessed 4/1/2016.
- Multiple Intelligences in Early Childhood. University of South Florida, Education Department http://www.coedu.usf.edu/~morris/multi_ec.html Accessed 2/11/2003.
But don’t sweat it; here are ten summer fun activities that will keep your children occupied.
- Pitch a tent in the backyard and camp with Smokey the Bear.
- Plant seeds and grow healthy vegetables to harvest and cook. We just planted sunflowers for the birds to eat this fall.
- Take old bread to the park and feed the birds.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remember sidewalk chalk. Lets children express their creativity and washes off easily.
- 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.
- Tricycle/Bicycle Derby. Decorate bikes. Bike races by age groups. When we did this in our neighborhood, a boy in a
- Pets on Parade. Gather the pets, dress them up, and have a parade on your sidewalk. (Cats and dogs on leashes.)
- 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.
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]