Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

What are we planting?

Sunday, April 18th, 2010
Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, and then names the streets after them.
-Bill Vaughn

As we prepare to celebrate our 40th Earth Day, a question comes to mind.

What are we planting?

I don’t mean in terms of plants or vegetables, but patterns as in – you reap what you sow.

So….what are we sowing?

Our children will go to school this Thursday, April 22nd wearing green as they learn about saving the planet.  But do they get to enjoy the planet they are trying to save?

The push on society is to no child left behind, but perhaps we need to think in terms of no child left inside.

With the spring season here, think outdoors:

  • Bike ride
  • Blow bubbles
  • Camp out
  • Catch fireflies
  • Clean your car
  • Draw with chalk
  • Fly kites
  • Go fishing
  • Jump rope
  • Make mud pies
  • Plan a block party
  • Plant a garden
  • Play ball, bocci, tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, tug of war, red light – green light, dodge ball, capture the flag, flashlight tag, mini-golf, volleyball, (you get the idea)
  • Take a walk after dinner
  • Visit a construction site

    Read this to your children and ask them what ideas they can come up with.

  • Experience the joy of parenting

    Saturday, November 28th, 2009

    “When we are centered in joy, we attain our wisdom.” – Marianne Williamson

    As we celebrate the birthdays of our first born, we are also celebrating our anniversary as parents. As you think back, what do you remember?

    If I had to sum up my feelings to one word, that word would be joy.

    I find myself nostalgically thinking of all the things we did and I can’t help but smile. Not that we were perfect parents, or our lives were perfect, but it was real, and we really enjoyed bringing up our children – every step of the way, even when they were teenagers. We didn’t rush through the stages, anxiously waiting to get to the next one, but really lived in that moment.

    Joy is something that is easily spread around, which means that if parents are enjoying the ride, so are their children. I thought it would be interesting to put together a list of your favorite moments of parenting; this would make a wonderful book!

    Care to contribute your favorite moments of parenting?

    Let me begin…

    1. Each year on their little boy’s birthday, a picture is taken in his dad’s button down shirt. Same shirt, every year. They will continue to do that to see how he grows into it.
    2. Celebrate every holiday, and include decorations, food and discussion about why that holiday is being celebrated. Presidents Day then isn’t about a sale, but your children will remember the log cabin you built from pretzel logs, as you discuss why Lincoln is still remembered.
    3. Cutting down the Christmas tree each year has all the makings of the next National Lampoon Griswold’s movie, but you wouldn’t trade it for the world.
    4. You attended every Thanksgiving Day football game at the local high school regardless of the weather, and went back home and prepared a Thanksgiving feast together as a family.

    P.S. If you aren’t yet a parent, but remember things your parents did that you really enjoyed; that counts too!

    Love to hear from you!

    Tina Nocera, Founder
    Parental Wisdom®

    In Technology Wii Trust

    Sunday, November 1st, 2009

    wii

    Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts be counted.

    -Albert Einstein

    It’s that time of year again; your mailbox is chock full of glossy catalogs while the Sunday newspaper is brimming with adverting circulars. We’re thinking ahead to holiday gifts for our children and technology gifts do have such great appeal.

    Before you go out and buy the newest gadgets, you might want to think about the recent findings released by Nielsen. Kids ages 2 to 5 watch on average 32 hours of television a week, while 6 to 11 year olds watch more than 28 hours. The analysis based on the fourth quarter of 2008, measured children’s consumption of live and recorded TV, and game console use.

    I’ve heard parents praise the educational value of children’s programming and fun of game consoles, but are they being truthful about their feelings? Would parents rather have children play pretend Wii sports or the real ones? Which choice would provide fresh air, real movement and learning to play with others so they are better prepared for the real world? Would parents prefer to outsource their child learning colors, letters and numbers to Sesame Street or use that time better to build relationships with children?

    Perhaps we fall back to the TV and technology because we believe it is safe; after all it’s indoors and under our watch. But our fears and time constraints that cause us to make the easier choice may be the wrong answer in the long term. Less is more unless, we’re talking about time.

    Don’t be pressured to buy things for your child that you don’t agree with or can’t really afford. See the question and answer posed by a parent to Parental Wisdom’s advisors.

    We live in a very affluent community yet we are not that wealthy at all. My daughter often seems frustrated that her friends are able to do some things and buy some things that we cannot afford. Although I understand her frustration, how can I make her understand our situation and keep her grounded? She is 8 years old.
    See question and answers

    You can also visit the website for Parental Wisdom advisor, Dr. Stevanne Auerbach, aka Dr. Toy to find out about the best toys for 2009.

    A new book by Parental Wisdom advisor, Mary Strom Larson, is also helpful.

    Have a great week!
    Tina Nocera, Founder
    Parental Wisdom

    There’s Always Room for Jello

    Friday, July 31st, 2009

    hopscotch
    Do you realize there is a food to eat even when we’re stuffed? That slogan became part of a culture ingrained with so much, that even in excess we want more.

    The summer provides an opportunity to illustrate that less equals more. With school out and a naturally slower pace, let’s take advantage of that.

    Less scheduled activities = more time
    Less homework = more teachable moments
    Less structure = more playfulness
    Less indoors = more nature
    Less planning = more spontaneity
    Less stuff = more substance

    In an age of cellphones, texting, email and videogames, the past looks like fun. Here are some ideas before the summer totally escapes us, to have simply wonderful fun with your children. The best ideas may very well come from memories of your own childhood.

    Build a fort
    Catch lightning bugs
    Fly a kite
    Hangman
    Hopscotch
    Hula hoops
    Jump rope
    Make (but don’t eat) mudpies
    Marco Polo
    Monkey in the middle
    Planting vegetables, fruits, flowers, anything…
    Play a pickup game of baseball, basketball, soccer
    Play Capture the Flag
    Red light, green light
    Ride bikes
    Simon says
    Sleep under the stars
    Stop and go dancing
    Tug-of-War

    [polldaddy poll=1833036]

    What ideas can you add? Comment below

    For more ideas visit Games Kids Play

    Play is the way a child learns what no one can teach him. – Lawrence K. Frank

    It’s Just Background Noise

    Saturday, July 19th, 2008

    A new study proves what we may have suspected all along; just having the TV on distracts kids. You knew that already just as you noticed your own level of concentration increases when the TV is off.

    A recent study reported in the journal Child Development suggested that parents who leave the television on all day are stunting the development of their infants. It goes on to say that even when babies appeared to pay no attention to adult programs, they spent less time focused on toys compared with when the program was turned off.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two should watch no television and older children should be limited to no more than two hours a day.

    ”Parents should limit their young children’s exposure to background television,” said Marie Evans Schmidt, who carried out the research at the University of Massachusetts. She said TV was a potentially ”chronic environmental risk factor” affecting most children.

    Many studies have indicated that excessive TV in the early years of life can stunt language skills and contribute to behavioral problems.

    The message is loud and clear. Expand the same limits to all forms of media and you will have a child with time to think, dream and play.

    Dumbing Down America – Part II

    Sunday, June 8th, 2008


    You might read this wondering when part 1 happened, so let me fill you in.

    Part 1 happened around 1900, when we moved to the Industrial Age. Prior to that, people were farmers and craftsman, completely responsible for production of their own products, meeting with their patrons and getting unfiltered feedback. This gave them complete control and pride in their work.

    Then came the factories where the wealthy few decided that it was far more important that people knew only a tiny portion of work in assembly lines as a way to expedite production. They basically wanted us to be robotic – almost dumb so things could be done exactly as they wanted. In order for that to happen, the employee was born, and in the wake of the employee, the manager would soon to follow – just to make sure the employee was performing as expected.

    Jump to over 100 years later and we are desperately trying to give people incentives to care about their work. It’s simple: show them the bigger picture and have them understand how their work affects the people they work with before and after the widget hits them on the production line. Ooops! I’m too late for this, we no longer do any manufacturing in the U.S.

    So why am I writing about this in a so called parenting blog? Simply because the next wave of dumbing down America is upon us. It’s called product licensing and it’s robbing our kids of any creativity they have. Look at their clothes, shoes, books, anything! Try to find a plain t-shirt, sneakers, coloring books, backpacks, or note pads. Try to get the attention of an adolescent (in fairness, that is tough anytime) but the electronic gadgets rob us of any possibility of having a discussion with them, let alone for them to have anytime to think or dream.

    The next wave of dumbing down America will rob our children of the next generation of creative thinkers. That is unless we have the courage not to succumb to the pressure of the next kids show.

    Think about it.

    Jury Duty Compared to Working Little League Concession Stand

    Monday, May 19th, 2008

    Of all the wonderful memories I have of my children growing up, one of the worst was the rotation of working the concession stand at little league.

    In order of preference I would put jury duty and root canal surgery ahead of that task.

    A 7-year-old Massachusetts boy was benched during his Little League baseball game because his mother failed to show up to work the league’s concession stand, and the mother isn’t happy about it.

    Jodi Hooper of Freetown said she was unable to fulfill her obligation at the concession stand because she couldn’t get time off from work, according to MyFOXBoston.

    Dave Brouillette, head of the Freetown Youth Athletic Association, told MyFOXBoston that the concession revenues are necessary to fund the league’s programs and that he has to enforce the rules, which require parents show up for their assigned concession stand shifts or risk suspensions for their children.

    Brouillette told the station that he wasn’t able to see his own son play because he had to cover the concession stand shift for Hooper, according to MyFOXBoston.

    As usual, we’re focusing on the wrong things. Instead let’s consider:

    1. We have too many adults involved in children’s sports which is taking away from the real objective; to have children learn a sport, have fun and team building skills without adult interference.

    2. If parents sign up their child, they are there to see them play, not watch fries turn a lovely golden brown.

    3. Why is the concession stand needed anyway? Don’t we have an obesity problem in this country as it is?

    Adults, get out of the way and let kids play.

    Another Reason Families Love Steven Spielberg

    Monday, May 12th, 2008

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPTJ4v6KPrg]

    Tell me a fact and I’ll learn,
    Tell me a truth and I’ll believe,
    But tell me story and it will live in my heart forever.

    -Indian Proverb

    One of the many happy memories I have of my children when they were little, was my son Michael walking around town with a Fedora as shopkeepers would call out, “Hi Indy.” My son loved the Indiana Jones movies so much, that at four-years of age, he wanted to be an archaeologist-adventurer.

    A good story teller gets you to believe. As a family, together we enjoyed every movie Steven Spielberg made because you were told a great story and felt a part of that story.

    Last night, with children now young adults, we went to the movies and saw the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie with a fully grown Indiana Jones – and we can’t wait to once again enjoy it together.

    Tina Nocera, Founder
    Parental Wisdom

    Happy Earth Day Microsoft!

    Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

    Where do I begin? I just sent out an email to Parental Wisdom members (below) which talks about how we’re stopping our children from enjoying the most wonderful lessons on earth in a rush to excel. I came across a piece by the senior product manager at Microsoft that I have to share:

    You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

    Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

    “Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

    Boy, is this person ever wrong. Children are becoming frustrated and angry, even at young ages because we are not allowing them to be children – children are meant to play, especially outdoors.

    Have you ever tried to toilet train a child too early? It doesn’t work. When children are ready, toilet training is easy. The same is true of education, computers and sports. Let children play freely, and when the time comes for studies and computers and organized sports, they will come ready to learn.

    Here is the email sent yesterday to Parental Wisdom members.

    We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
    -Ancient Proverb

    Global climate change, pollution and how large a carbon footprint you leave behind may seem like many issues parents face – overwhelming.

    The answer is actually quite simple and lies in the ancient proverb that states we borrow the earth from our children.

    Unfortunately, we take our children from the very thing they gravitate to, the wonders of nature. We put them in schools too early, in front of computers too early, in organized sports programs too early, all because being inside and educated means they will be safe, smart and ready for a cutthroat world.

    According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, the birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots – quite literally. Children ages 3 to 6 walk into a forest outside Frankfurt Germany to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant ‘sofa’ made of tree stumps and twigs.

    Fredrick Frobel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten actually called it a “children’s garden.” He suggested that children of this age learn far more by playing in nature than they do immersed in letters and numbers.

    Let’s move from ‘No Child Left Behind’ to ‘No Child Left Inside’ and stop our 5-year-olds from what some educators call ‘early academic fatigue.’ If you can’t change the education system, at least you could give your children the gift of spending time with nature. Take a walk with your child and see what he sees, it’s amazing what a young child can teach you.

    Perhaps if we made this a habit, there wouldn’t be a need to set aside April 22nd to remember the Earth; everyday would be Earth Day.

    Mud pies anyone?

    There’s a reason for everything

    Sunday, February 17th, 2008

    kid-sick.png

    An outbreak of the flu is hardly good news, but there is a reason for everything. We find that we can clear our schedules, slow down and cuddle up. Why do we need to wait for the flu or a snowstorm to do something that makes so much sense?

    Our generation of parents is so involved in our children’s lives that we have taken on the role of ‘Julie the Cruise Director.’

    Let’s take a look at where that has gotten us:

    • When they are very little, we register for mommy & me gym classes. Reality check, you can do that at home for no cost at all. Mommy, are you the one that needs the play date here?
    • When they are toddlers, we’re registering them for soccer and pee-wee tee ball camps. Reality check again, this costs money and more importantly children actually get less time to play than if the parents played with their kids at the park or in the backyard. Also, the kids aren’t learning how to form their own teams.
    • In grade school, we add music and tutoring to the sports schedule which leaves no time for play or family. The mini-van is well stocked with food and beverages as we have no time for dinner. And, by the way, no time for conversation since the mini-van has DVD’s playing in the head rests.
    • We check our calendars to find free time for play dates that we’ve selected.
    • High school comes around and by this time the kids are burned out by the politics of sports so they’ve stopped playing. Since they never started a game on their own, they don’t know how. Technology has taken the place of making real friends, again something they’ve never had to do.

    Back to today’s lesson. Parents – do less and you’ll do more.