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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Mom And The Teacher Hats

Lessons Learned…

Mom And Teacher, Hats Easily Mixed-Up Occasionally

Visiting with some parents at a Head Start event, we shared thoughts on high priority activities, behavioral habits, and experiences which would serve to benefit their little ones greatly in preparation for school.  Simple things. Inexpensive things.  Things, however, that required a faithful, never-ending investment of time.  Children represent great hope and great promise, and each parent in our conversation clearly carried that twinkling spark of hope in his or her eyes.  We long for our children to succeed and to watch their dreams come true.  Somehow, somewhere along the way, however, life seems to get in the way and our very best intentions get hopelessly tangled in the mire that is the lock step of daily living. Distractions lead to compromises of time and trade deliberate learning and growing  efforts for auto-pilot screen-babysitters. Two jobs. Three jobs. No jobs. Life is very hard. Raising children is very hard. That conversation at Head Start has continued to reverberate in my mind over many years. As a teacher, what do I see? As a mom, what do I do? With both hats on, and with a very humble heart here are five simple thoughts on high priority activities, behavioral habits, and beneficial experiences for little ones:
1.       Read to little ones. Read. Read. Read.  Any books. All books. Go to the library. Get books in their hands. Abe Lincoln had one book as a child. He read it over and over and over again. Traveling through the pages of hundreds of books together, my boys and I were able to travel in our imaginations to places we would never be able to afford to actually visit.  Free field trips. Free vacations.  Never too tired to read. Never too tired to be read to.
2.       Eat healthy food. A bag of potatoes, for instance, is less expensive than a bag of potato chips and so much better for growing children.  Simple fresh food is typically less expensive than the processed snack-types and is completely, absolutely better for you. Eat healthy.
3.       Drink plenty of water. Water supports the brain, and the body needs so much more water than we think.
4.       Play. Forget about the fancy, expensive toys, and use what you have to foster creativity and imagination development.  Children need far less entertainment where they passively observe, and far more mind-engaging, problem-solving creative play with paper, crayons, rocks, sticks, water, and imagination. Play inside, play outside, get lots of fresh air, gross motor with lots of flailing and running, and fine motor demanding concentration; just must play. 
5.       Enough sleep is unbelievably critical. Do not ever underestimate the necessity of sleep for little ones. Sleep allows the brain and body time to rest and recharge.  A well-rested mind is exceedingly more able to concentrate, focus, and engage in learning.