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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The secrets of being a great teacher: how to allow creativity without losing control

Once upon a time, not so many years ago really, when we thought of education we envisaged an authoritarian figure- perhaps in a robe and oddly-shaped hat- holding a stick of chalk and standing in front of a large group of seated (and preferably silent) children. The children would listen, then regurgitate the required information when called upon.
A caricature from Vanity Fair

There are some in our society who would like that model of education to remain fixed in stone. Some of them are teachers, some are parents, some are politicians and administrators.

If you're at the coalface, you know that education doesn't look like that any more, and nor should it if we want the human race to achieve to its potential. Gradually the realisation is filtering through that mass conformity doesn't produce brilliance, that the best education is not a twelve- or sixteen-year conveyor belt operated by authoritarian adults who force-feed the children from text books as they pass.

It's taken a long time to get to this point. History is littered with schoolroom failures like Thomas Edison and Isaac Singer, who achieved greatness only once they got out from under the thumb. (Go on, YOU try imagining life without the light bulb or the sewing machine.) And as technology explodes into new realms, creativity and individuality should be valued in the classroom as never before.

Teaching styles have to change to accommodate this realisation of truth.

I'm in an unusual position amongst my colleagues. I've had the experience of teaching all age groups- from birth to the end of high school. I've also coached adults. And so I can say to you, it doesn't matter how old the student is- nor does it matter that educational models are finally on the move. The essential truths of great teaching remain the same. There is a way to maintain control in a classroom without sacrificing individuality and creativity.

As a music teacher, I had to find these things out. My students had to be creative to do well in their course- and in setting them free, I stumbled upon these maxims which have served me well for over 30 years.

Here they are.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to Not Insult a Child- guest post by Sarah MacLaughlin

(Sarah MacLaughlin is the award-winning author of What Not To Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, which I reviewed last week. Take it away, Sarah!)

We don’t mean to insult children. Sometimes we just forget how smart they are. I always aim to talk to your children like they are regular people. Wait, right, they are regular people! If you use your normal adult vocabulary (barring any overly intellectual, technical, or mature terms) kids get great exposure to our language and will always be learning new words. If you think that something you said went over their head, you can explain or just ask, “Do you know what that means? Did you want me to tell you?” That’s respectful, not insulting. Some more suggestions for keeping your communication with young ones considerate and kind:

Allow kids to keep their dignity intact. When a child has a big emotional outburst or falls apart and “loses it” in some way, they may make a small effort to retain their dignity. If you don’t know that, you could perceive this act as rebellious or defiant. They may say something like, “I didn’t like that,” or “You hurt my feelings.” My son will often make a request in a tone that not exactly my favorite—“I need some juice.”—I refrain from commenting on his tone or asking for a “please.” This is the perfect time to let it be and move on.

Don’t be condescending. When children surprise us with their unruly behavior, we should take stock. Not necessarily of them, but of ourselves. Much undesired behavior is developmentally appropriate, meaning that it sure is annoying, but it’s to be expected. Stop yourself from saying things like, “This is so unlike you,” even if it is.

Set aside sarcasm, euphemisms, and rhetorical questions. These usually go right over young kids’ heads. Explaining them can keep you on your toes: “You’re right, I didn’t sound grateful when I told that man, ‘Thanks a lot.’ He wasn’t helpful and I was being sarcastic, saying the opposite of what I meant. I didn’t really mean ‘Thank you.’” The amazing thing is that kids eventually do absorb many of the hidden meanings in our confusing language.

Don’t refer to yourself in the third person. Saying Mommy instead of I or me is an odd habit we easily fall into, one that can be confusing for a child. Use proper pronouns even if your child doesn’t. They will actually learn more quickly this way.

Skip the baby talk. It’s our natural tendency to talk to young children in language that mirrors their own. The occasional “I’ll kiss your ouchie” or, “It’s time for night-night,” is fine, but in general try to use proper words and a normal tone. “Does my wittle baby need a baba?” doesn’t help a toddler learn the English language.

Don’t lie. Even I am guilty of telling kids that the toys store is closed when it isn’t, but as far as the big stuff goes, we do this to protect children, mostly from information we think they shouldn’t know or can’t handle. When important facts are hidden, children sense it and tend to imagine terrible things—usually worse than the actual situation. Adding to the harm, a child might worry that the reason for not telling her is that she is the cause of the trouble. Remember that young children are naturally self-centered.

Many people tend to speak to a group—of children or adults—with the lowest common denominator in mind. I say it's better to speak to the highest common denominator. If you have created an environment of safety and respect, one where there truly are no stupid questions, this will not be a problem.

I'd love to hear what you think!

Special Giveaway!
Please comment on this post about ways you keep your communication considerate and kind to your children, so that you can enter to win an ebook copy of What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away one copy at each blog stop and will announce it on the comments of this post tomorrow. Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you in case you're the winner!

Other stops during this Blog Tour are listed on Sarah's blog here:

Also, be sure to enter at Sarah's site for the Grand Prize Giveaway: a Kindle Touch. Winner will be announced at the end of the tour after July 15th. Go here to enter:

About The Author
Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families for over twenty years. With a background in early childhood education, she has previously been both a preschool teacher and nanny. Currently, Sarah works as a licensed social worker with foster families at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine. 

She also teaches parenting classes and consults with families. In addition, Sarah serves on the board of Birth Roots, a perinatal resource center, and writes the "Parenting Toolbox" column for a local parenting newspaper, Parent & Family.

As reflected in her book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, Sarah considers it her life's work to promote happy, well-adjusted people by increasing awareness of how children are spoken to today.

In a busy modern life, while Sarah juggles her son, her job, her husband, her family, and time for herself, she's also aiming for: mindful parenting, meaningful work, joyful marriage, connected family, and radical self-care. She is mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice about What Not to Say. More information about Sarah and her work can be found at her site:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Good news about risky play: where the magic happens

Do you remember this post about my risky play research assignment last year?

By the time I'd finished that assignment, I was shaking my head in amazement. My amazement was not caused by the children, who took to my risky play scenarios like the proverbial ducks to water-

and then ALL settled down quietly inside to table activities  (unheard of on that particular day of the week with that particular, very energetic demographic!).

No, my sad amazement was the result of my realisation that my biggest problem was going to be changing staff attitudes to risky play. Honestly, it's so easy to get ourselves stuck in a box called 'our comfort zone', and that's particularly true of risk versus safety. It's ever so much easier on our anxieties to be over-cautious. As Tim Gill points out, we live in a risk-averse society. Early childhood professionals are as subject to societal pressures as the next person.

But the truth of working with children is well-illustrated by this picture doing the rounds of Facebook:

If we want magic to happen, developmentally speaking, we have to allow children to be independent- to assess and take risks within our controlled environment, to fail sometimes, to try again. We have to be prepared to apply the odd bandaid and ice pack. We have to dry the odd tear.

You don't change attitudes in a risk-averse society with one day of research activities, no matter how successful your work has been. There was no 'aha moment' that day for the staff. What I saw back then was entrenched risk-avoidance, and a failure to even notice the positive change in the atmosphere created by a strenuous morning of risky play. Comfort zones tend to have solid brick walls around them, with nary a window in sight.

It was, um, depressing.

So when I returned to that centre recently, some six months after completing my research, I suppose you could say I was feeling a bit hopeless. But guess what? I have some good news.

I offered to set up the yard, and I found that the slide, which had been packed away at the back of the shed as 'too dangerous' before my assignment, was in easy reach and had clearly been used. Hallelujah!

I set it up, and when the children came out they slid down,  climbed up the slide, slid on their stomachs, came down sideways, jumped from the top onto the soft fall and performed all sorts of other crazy 'tricks'- without any adult ever saying 'stop'.

There were no collisions. Nobody got hurt. Nobody pushed. Everyone had a ball.

I got out the balance beams, and set them upon the higher setting- unheard of six months ago- with a thin mattress invitingly placed alongside.

"Can we jump off?" asked one child, eyes sparkling.

"Of course!"

And they did- all of them- some leaping without hesitation, some being more cautious, some so confident they did tricks. One girl had perfected a 270 degree turn in the air by 11am.

Nobody said "stop". Nobody got hurt. Nobody pushed. Everyone had a ball.

Then one little live-wire boy decided he wanted the planks turned into slippery dips too. I watched him try to pick up the heavy wooden planks by himself to rearrange them. I said nothing.

He looked over to me, struggling, and I said "Do you want some help?" He nodded, grinning, and directed me to where he wanted the plank to go.

"Is that safe there, or too wobbly?" I asked.

He tested.

He rejected.

We adjusted.

Soon all the planks had been turned into slides, in a way I never would have thought of myself! Other children noticed the rearrangement, and started to develop plans of their own. Next thing, the mattress had been moved to the end of the slide and some children were flying down and finishing off with a somersault.

On the other side of the playground, a somewhat withdrawn child started trying to climb the latticed walls of the sandpit (on the inside, I might say, where he would only fall on sand). I didn't stop him. Neither did anyone else.

He got right to the top and touched the ceiling; he investigated every 'bug' he could find, and brought some interesting 'treasures' down to show the other children.

A smaller child tried to climb up, and failed.

"Can you help me?" he asked me.

"No," I said. "If you can't get up there, you aren't quite ready to be up there."

He accepted this happily enough.

The screams that day were only ever of delight. I didn't need a single bandaid, and I didn't write a single accident report. When the children went inside, again they settled down to table activities peacefully- even that little live-wire boy!

Is that wonderful, or is that wonderful?

Yes, there had been a slight change in the staffing- and I don't for a moment underestimate the impact of that. Changes of attitude require fresh outlooks and strong leadership. It wasn't all about what I did that day six months ago- not at all! But I think I may have broken the ice, and then a new permanent staff member with an open mind had applied gentle heat.

What I saw from the children confirmed everything I've learnt through my reading about risky play. There was a noticeable range of behaviour on the play equipment, depending on the individual child's confidence in their own skills. In other words, the children only took risks they were comfortable with. In the absence of an adult voice crowing "Be careful!" at 30 second intervals, they took responsibility themselves for being careful while challenging themselves appropriately for their own developmental stage.

Isn't that what we want? Doesn't that make our lives easier?

Even more interesting than that was the impact that having some agency had on these children. My little live-wire, for example, had started the day by punching, biting and kicking me- a sort of welcome by fire (I think perhaps he was so pleased to see me that he couldn't find any appropriate way to express it). A little firm holding of hands and gentle talk had helped him to pull back a little, but what that child needed was to express himself physically.

He needed to run fast without being thwarted- and he did. He needed to peg a ball towards me and challenge me to catch it- and he did. He needed to fly down that slide backwards and jump off the top and burn off his big feelings.

He needed challenge and risk, and he got it.

What would have happened if he'd had some adult shouting "Slow down, you'll hurt yourself," or "Throw the ball at that target," or otherwise trying to contain his energy to a risk-free box? You join the dots. Where would that energy have gone?

And what about the agency in designing his own play space? Our interaction over the placement of the beams particularly delighted him; he flew up and down the structures he'd designed, and then- wonder of wonders- invited others to join him (wow, without punching them?!), grinning broadly the whole time. He shared; he took turns.

That was a very desirable social outcome from what started as a physical activity and then became a technological activity.

And my other, socially withdrawn young friend suddenly wanted to share his findings, suddenly shared with me and with his peers his interest in bugs, suddenly could do something the others couldn't do and stood tall.

The physical became the scientific; the scientific became the social.

Don't underestimate the power of risky play. It can often be that place 'where magic happens'.

A great little e-book about talking to your kids

What Not to Say
by Sarah MacLaughlin

reviewed by Aunt Annie

A few weeks ago I was asked if I was willing to review this e-book on my blog. Well you know me- I love to write about childcare, and any excuse will do!- so I popped over to Sarah MacLaughlin's blog at to test the water and see if her views were compatible with mine before agreeing.

Given that Sarah's philosophy is so similar to my own, I had fairly high expectations of 'What Not to Say', and I haven't been disappointed. For example, the quote that opens the book encapsulates exactly why I started my own blog:

Let’s raise children who don’t have to recover from their childhoods.
     -Pam Leo

As I've said many a time, the secret to a healthy relationship with our children often lies not in what 'method' we use, but in how much we're prepared to work on ourselves. It's way too easy to pass on the collateral damage that's been done to us as we grew up, without even realising we're doing it. And that is really what Sarah MacLaughlin's eBook is all about. No blame, no shame, but many words of wisdom to contemplate.

If we take the time to think about it, some of the things we say to our children are insensitive at best, and counterproductive at worst- not because we're actually trying to make things worse, of course, but because we're tired and stressed, we're surrounded by 'advice' which makes us doubt our judgment, and we've been programmed by our own personal histories to recycle mantras which are, um, less than useful. MacLaughlin's aim in this book is to help parents and early childhood educators to identify and replace some of the more useless knee-jerk responses that spring to our lips when children challenge us.

Consider the following:

Because I said so.
Don’t even think about it.
Good job!
And my own particular un-favourite, often overused with gifted children,
Show Grandpa how you can count to ten.

Do any of those sound familiar? Do you still say those things, and maybe even hang on to your right to say them like grim death, justifying them as 'normal' things to say to a child? This book will join the dots for you between statements like that and unresponsive or undesirable behaviour from your child.

Along the way, MacLaughlin refers to many of the behaviour management strategies that I have found very effective, such as reframing, narration and acknowledging emotions. She also addresses the importance of clear, age-appropriate communication, and shares my dislike of patronising children through baby talk and the sugar-coating of difficult truths.

All in all, it's a book full of what I call 'uncommon common sense'. At first glance it may appear to be just about the right words to say, but in fact it's more than that; it's a spot-on parenting communication manual for those who'd like their child NOT to need therapy as an adult.

As an added bonus, many challenging situations have been linked by the author to matching children's books. These can be used to encourage open discussion with children about their more difficult behaviours. That just makes me want to clap my hands in glee- it's exactly how I'd approach behaviour problems within an early childhood classroom. Stories are a wonderful way of allowing children to dissect and discover new ways of coping with their emotions.

Yes, there were a few moments in the book where I paused and thought, “Well, that's not exactly how I'd do it,” or “I'd have to watch my tone of voice when I said that.” But I agree with almost everything Sarah MacLaughlin says, and I'd definitely mention this e-book as a resource for anyone who wants to understand the relationship between what comes out of our mouths and how a child responds.

Highly recommended. You can buy it right here: 
-for a very reasonable $US12.

(PS: No, I wasn't paid for this review- my opinion is not for sale!)

Special Giveaway!
Please comment on this post about using or not using your words with your child, so that you can enter to win an ebook copy of What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away one copy at each blog stop and will announce it on the comments of this post tomorrow. (Other stops during this Blog Tour are listed on Sarah's blog here: Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you in case you're the winner!

Also, be sure to enter at Sarah's site ( for the Grand Prize Giveaway: a Kindle Touch. Winner will be announced at the end of the tour after July 15th.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Surviving your gifted child's schooling, part 2: Don't let the spark go out!

I've told you a little bit about my gifted son's first years of school, which admittedly was a bit of a horror story from my point of view. Today I thought I'd talk about some happier experiences, so you'll know what to look for in your gifted child's teachers.

And I also wanted to remind you that gifted children are, in some ways, as diverse as any other group of children- even when they're related to one another. There are few firm rules about achieving a happy schooling for your gifted child. The 'best thing to do' will be dependent on your child's personality and level of giftedness.

My own early school experiences couldn't have been more different from those of my brother and my son. Mind you, that was partly because my poor brother had paved the way for me; after four years of dealing with him, the teachers were better prepared for Another One Of Those Children Who Can Read. He'd had a shocking time. My mother used to say that his whole personality was changed by his first years of school, and he'd gone from an outspoken, affectionate, happy four-year-old (who was prone to doing things like explaining how a steam engine worked to a railway carriage full of passengers, or writing and illustrating sentences like "The anaconda dislocates its jaw to consume large animals, hence the fascinating gape", and bursting into tears because he couldn't grasp the meaning of the writing on the top of an adult magazine that said "registered for transmission by post as a periodical") to a withdrawn and somewhat depressed six-year-old.

You don't want that.

That's what can happen when a teacher treats an extremely capable child like a liar and a problem, simply because he demonstrates an uncomfortable truth or two (like, that he can already read and write- oops, there goes the year's lesson plans). My only hard and fast rule is that so much is dependent on the teachers available to your child.

I was much luckier than both my brother and my son; I had a seamless transition to school. Bless you, Miss Bryant! Now, there was a wonderful teacher of the gifted, despite having absolutely no training for any such thing.

She was prepared to be flexible, and she was smart about it too. When she discovered that I could already read, instead of going "Dang it, I have to prepare a whole extra syllabus for this nuisance child!" she saw it as an opportunity. I was encouraged to bring my favourite books from home and spend some time each day reading aloud to the class, while Miss Bryant did some preparation at her desk with one eye on the cheeky kids in the back row.

Brilliant! Somehow she'd detected my ability to entertain as well as just read. I loved it. The class loved it.

That wasn't the end of it, either. In hindsight, I realise that Miss Bryant constructed whole lessons designed to stimulate me without disadvantaging the rest of the class. I remember her reading us a lot of simple poetry, and explaining how a poem worked- a great lesson in recognising speech rhythms and individual sounds within words for the pre-readers, but a marvellous piece of creative bait for me. Looking back, I remembered for many years a lesson where she even asked us all to try to write a poem- but as a teacher, I know now that my memory was deceiving me; I was the only one in that class who could read and write already, so she must somehow have delivered that stimulus just to me. Perhaps the others were asked to draw a picture in response to another poem.

I do remember her sending me around to another classroom- the deputy principal's, I believe- to show off my work afterwards, my poem having been neatly written out over my own illustration. I remember feeling acknowledged for my skill, but without feeling like a performing seal; I was allowed to show off my work on my own terms, without anyone standing over me clapping their hands.

Here's the poem I wrote, aged 5- sadly the drawing that went with it is long gone.

It was obviously an excellent poetry course that she delivered to a 5-yr-old, to get a result like that.

That's what you want for your child. You want a teacher who thinks outside the square, and who is clever enough to learn what will stimulate and teach your child without disadvantaging anyone else in the room. Your child will let you know if they have a teacher like that, because they'll want to go to school.

Of course, I was a biddable child- as I said at the start, there are as many types of gifted kid as there are fish in the sea, and some of them would be far less cooperative than I was. But that doesn't change the sort of teacher you need to find for your gifted child. The teacher doesn't have to be a genius, but they have to be good at recognising a gift in a child and extending it. They have to be willing.

I had reason to be grateful for that good start; my schooling was not all beer and skittles. Thinking that they were doing the right thing by me, the Powers That Be then decided to advance me straight to 2nd Grade, given that I could already read and write. These were the days of universal streaming, on the basis of perceived cleverness as observed through school exams; it was before the days of political correctness, and the classes were clearly labelled A, B and C. Unfortunately, fearing that the leap to 2A was somehow too much for me, they lost their nerve and put me in the B class- with a second-rate teacher, who resented me for being different, and peers who hated me for STILL being way smarter than them despite being a whole year younger.

We shall draw a veil over that year, I think. The memories of bullying, misery and general educational neglect really don't need revisiting.

To compound the problem, they then chickened out of continuing to advance me because I was "too young" (which probably means they'd noticed I was unhappy and drawn the wrong conclusion about why). So I repeated 2nd Grade, this time in the A class.


Please don't let your child be messed around like this. Chronological age is a terrible guide to what's best for a gifted child. What you need is an unbiased assessment of your child's social and physical maturity, as well as their intellect. If you start messing around with your child's schooling based only on the result of some IQ test, you are doing them a grave disservice. For some children, taking them out of their peer group and advancing them is the worst thing you could do- for others, it's the best.

You also need to involve that child in decisions about their future. They will tell you quick smart whether they want to be advanced or not. They may ask what teacher they'll have, and that is an excellent basis for a decision, regardless of whatever political blah blah you get fed by the school (who will likely be playing a numbers game on class size as well as covering their backs about the relative quality of their teachers). Children know those teachers and how they behave in the playground. They know who they'll get on with and who they won't. Please listen. Please be their advocate when you talk to the school about their future.

I sometimes try to imagine how my life might have been different if I'd been put straight into 2A, with a brilliantly insightful teacher (thank you, Mrs Williams!) who challenged me like Miss Bryant did (I believe I wrote a whole book of stories in 2A, in between acing the spelling tests and the arithmetic). She would have eased me into the new peer group, then moved me straight up to primary school. And in this way, I have a suspicion that I may have developed a bit less attitude and a bit less arrogance- two characteristics which are socially troubling for me to this day.

It is Not Good for a child to realise they're intellectually putting it over kids a year older than them, effortlessly. It wasn't good for me, and I was a Good Girl. I shudder to think how it might have affected a gifted child with a much more assertive personality, like my son.

Consider that for a moment. Gifted children are naturally challenging, naturally forceful in pushing for their rights, naturally expert manipulators. A year cheekily resting on their laurels and/or feeling miserable and unchallenged is about the worst thing you can do for their social development, so there'd better be a damn good reason for not advancing them- such as intense shyness, or strong supportive relationships within their current peer group that you don't want to lose, or a really excellent teacher in their current grade who can give them the support and extension they need.

Having no teacher willing to take on your child as an accelerated student sends a different message. If this is the case, or if your child feels seriously unhappy about all the possible teachers within the next grade, it's time to change schools.

Just sayin'.

You don't necessarily need a brilliant teacher every single year- that would be a lucky child indeed- but you do need a chain of teachers who are willing to acknowledge your child's gifts and work with them. It's the attitude that matters, not the syllabus. Did you hear me? The attitude.

Not the syllabus. Teachers don't always need to push whole years of syllabus down from the higher grades to satisfy a gifted student; for the precociously gifted child this may be needed in their area/s of interest, but the vast majority of gifted children are not hanging out to go to college tomorrow, and they don't need to be put in a parental pressure cooker either. Certainly in the early years, a gifted child will usually appreciate the opportunity to self-direct and learn through their precocious play.

Teachers can expand lessons sideways and allow gifted children to indulge in their particular enthusiasms, as Miss Bryant and Mrs Williams did with me. An enthusiastic, self-motivated child will learn, if they're allowed to teach themselves and are given the right tools.

That isn't wasting time. A gifted child will take off like a jet plane when they find something that stimulates them, and you won't be able to stem the flow of questions.

Whatever you do, don't allow that spark in your child to be quenched for someone else's convenience. Keep those lines of communication open, both with your child and with their teachers. If something seems wrong, if your child is frustrated and upset or withdrawing, investigate and act upon your findings. If the teacher is frustrated and upset, he or she needs some help plumbing the depths of your child's personality, or may need to do some personal research on gifted education. You can help them by leading them to articles like this, or to the many wonderful articles by Miraca Gross and at the Hoagies site online.

It's a huge responsibility you have there, parenting a gifted child and guiding them through their schooling. Our society needs the gifted children to flourish, so that they can be our leaders and inventors and teachers of the next generation. Are you ready to be an advocate?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Surviving your gifted child's schooling, part 1

I don't think I've pulled many punches to date in my posts about gifted children. I don't think I've ever led you to believe it's going to be easy raising that child. Well, news flash: this is the hardest bit, right here.
My young man in the early school years.
He must have had a good day- the smile
is very unusual!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fathers' Day Blog Hop, courtesy of Father Bear

Fathers' Day is coming in the Northern Hemisphere, hard on the heels of Mothers' Day down here in the South. Deborah from Teach Preschool has organised another blog hop so we can share ideas for Fathers' Day books and activities, so I've been putting some thought into choosing a story which features a strong father figure.
There are many printed versions of
this old favourite!
Well, to be honest it didn't take much thought really! I have never met a child who didn't like the story of The Three Bears. It's one of my 'magic tricks' when the day just isn't going well- sit the kids down, preferably on comfy cushions, and start telling them about a certain naughty little girl and the trouble she got into in the forest. And I always, always make Father Bear a large, loud, growly old softie- the epitome of loving fatherhood.

Here's the way I tell the tale. (Mind you, it's never the same twice!) I have a picture book of The Three Bears which I use to illustrate the story, but I never actually read from it- I tell the tale my own way. I'll pop in some activity and discussion ideas along the way, with some specific Fathers' Day ideas at the end.

I wouldn't use all these ideas in one storytelling session, of course- I'd only use the ones that were relevant to the current programme and to the children's recent interests.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Preparing your preschooler for the teenage years

I suppose you're going to tell me that's a ridiculous title for a blog post. "You have to let little kids be little kids," you'll cry! (And I'll agree, and tell you to keep reading.)

Or maybe you're here anticipating that I'll be talking about pushing down the curriculum, to give your child a head-start academically. (You'll be disappointed- but please keep reading, because you'll learn something that you need to know.)

It does seem far-fetched, and possibly irrelevant, to think about your preschooler (and by preschooler, I mean any child who hasn't got to school age yet) in terms of the teenager he or she will become. I want you to put that feeling aside for a minute, and put this in its place:


risk to my
What you are doing right now, in bringing up your young child to the best of your ability, is like making a wine. You're choosing your 'grapes' to plant. It won't matter how carefully you nurture the vines, how skilfully you crush the fruit, how long you age the finished product, if you plant poor quality grapes to start with. What you are doing right now is creating a certain type of teenager in the future, through your parenting choices now.

Scary, huh? There's a lot of responsibility involved. It's daunting.

So let's have a look at some of the characteristics of teenagers that can be the most challenging, and how to 'plant the right grape vines' to avoid the worst of it.