Learning from Mistakes

 

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Learning from Mistakes

There is a fine line between pro­tec­tion and con­trol. As a new mom, I had this over­whelm­ing desire to shield my baby from pain, sad­ness and any­thing else that was less than won­der­ful. Babies require 100% pro­tec­tion, how­ever babies grow and our expec­ta­tions need to grow accord­ingly. As new par­ents, my hus­band and I catered to our child’s whims and wishes a lit­tle too much because we didn’t like to see him sad. Before we knew it, we were entrenched in bad habits that led to giv­ing in to their demands, help­ing too much and mak­ing excuses for bad behav­ior. We par­ented too much from our hearts.

A nat­ural con­se­quence occurs nat­u­rally. Touching a hot stove will pro­vide an imme­di­ate con­se­quence. That is guar­an­teed. Of course we don’t want to let our chil­dren get hurt phys­i­cally.  However, there are many sit­u­a­tions or choices chil­dren make that result in sad feel­ings rather than phys­i­cal injury. In those sit­u­a­tions, it may be wise to allow nat­ural con­se­quences to unfold

I can’t imag­ine a par­ent not show­er­ing their child with love and praise. There are many times that par­ents will con­sciously choose to pro­tect their child the con­se­quences of their mis­takes. When you are faced with a choice between pro­tect­ing your child and let­ting them expe­ri­ence the nat­ural con­se­quence, it is help­ful to think about what is in your child’s best inter­est in the long run. What would be gained from step­ping back as com­pared to shield­ing them? You want your child to feel loved uncon­di­tion­ally, but you have to be care­ful to clearly com­mu­ni­cate your expec­ta­tions for respon­si­ble behav­ior. A child that feels they are free to make mis­takes and get away with­out con­se­quence may not work hard for good grades, may not learn to be finan­cial respon­si­ble, and may also engage in activ­i­ties that are dan­ger­ous.

Allowing nat­ural con­se­quences to occur in every­day life can be far from auto­matic. It may actu­ally be more nat­ural for a par­ent to pro­tect their child rather than see them suf­fer. It is my phi­los­o­phy that there are many times par­ents should allow mis­takes in life to teach impor­tant lessons.  As a par­ent, you get to make those deci­sions as the sit­u­a­tions arise. While eval­u­at­ing your options, I encour­age you to con­sider long term rather than short term goals.

 

 

http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2012/03/mistakes-are-wonderful-opportunities-to.html

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If Only I Knew: Parents and Children Benefit From Parent Education

Reach your full parenting potential so your children can reach theirs.

 

If Only I Knew:Parents and Children Benefit From Parent Education

 

No one is per­fect but oh…………..how I wish I had known about the array of tools that could have helped me be a bet­ter par­ent. I didn’t know. I was con­fi­dent. I was edu­cated. Parenting would be nat­ural for me.

I don’t take on all the blame. Family sup­port, par­ent edu­ca­tion, par­ent­ing are all almost taboo in the United States and per­haps around the world. Looking back all I can say is, if only I knew that I did not know. If only.

 

But I did not know that there were sim­ple solu­tions and I strug­gled, like so many of us. Parents who strug­gle; it’s a big club with par­tic­i­pants that cross all bound­aries. We are young and old, edu­cated and high school drop outs, rich and poor, opti­mists and pes­simists, all reli­gions are included and gen­der is not a fac­tor.

 

Here is a list of the strug­gles my fam­ily endured. Struggles could have been avoided. If only I knew that I did not know. 

1–      Emotional chal­lenges on mar­riage due to hav­ing and rais­ing a child

2–      Insecurity was fos­tered from lack of parental unity

3–      Confidence was decreased from start­ing kinder­garten before five years old.

4–      Excessive wor­ry­ing due to lack of sep­a­ra­tion from my child and myself

5–      Reckless behav­ior as a result of enabling

6-      Nagging rather than com­mu­ni­cat­ing effec­tively

These strug­gles caused harm to our entire fam­ily and most impor­tantly, to the chil­dren. Thank good­ness there was enough good stuff that allowed my chil­dren to grow up rel­a­tively happy and healthy. They are not per­fect. Neither am I. But what if? If I only knew. 

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ERB or Not To ERB

 

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The New York Times sent shock waves through the world of NYC preschool par­ents when it informed us of the end to the dreaded ERB test. The test was now not rec­om­mended by a panel of experts due to the vast amount of “prep­ping” going on and the unhealthy use of ERB scores as a way for par­ents to show­case their child’s bril­liance. 

My first reac­tion, as a tutor who, yes I admit it, helps to pre­pare chil­dren for the ERB was great. I hate the notion of test­ing and the ridicu­lous hoops par­ents and chil­dren must jump through just to get into a school that will be a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence. But then real­ity set in. How will schools make deci­sions about who is accepted and who is not? Obviously schools can­not accept every­one so how will the new sys­tem work? I have asked sev­eral of the direc­tors at the schools who have decided to see how life with­out the ERB will unfold and it appears that much of the change will be in for­mat rather than con­tent. By this they mean that they will observe chil­dren at play, they will have infor­mal ses­sions with them and yes, an assess­ment will be made. Scoring will be vague, at least at first, and par­ents will be informed as to how well they did in sub­jec­tive terms. You can be assured that most, if not all, skills pre­vi­ously assessed will still be con­sid­ered.

As an ele­men­tary school teacher for over thirty years I can tell you most earnestly that screen­ing chil­dren prior to kinder­garten is impor­tant. Some chil­dren require spe­cial instruc­tion out­side of a main­stream class­room. It’s won­der­ful to have a nice blend of chil­dren with dif­fer­ent tal­ents and var­i­ous back­grounds.

I am totally in favor of some kind of screen­ing for every school. Eliminating the ERB’s is a step in the right direc­tion. Competition in NYC and par­ents using their chil­dren as tro­phies is another mat­ter com­pletely.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/education/on-entrance-test-whose-days-appear-numbered-a-95-just-wasnt-good-enough.html?_r=0

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Perfection

 

 

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I am writ­ing this blog entry as I am liv­ing it. Most, really all, of my blogs speak from a place of expe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence. I have prac­ticed what I preach and know my insights and strate­gies can be very help­ful and effec­tive.

Today I am inspired to dis­cuss an issue that has long eluded me and it’s time to deal with it.

Perfection.

Ahhhh, I even love the sound of it. A per­fect evening, per­fect weather, a per­fect career, and of course per­fect chil­dren.

How crazy is it that I would strive for per­fec­tion in my chil­dren? How crazy is it that fam­i­lies live in an envi­ron­ment where chil­dren are com­pared and judged. Is my child pop­u­lar, are they smart, are they ath­letic and how beau­ti­ful are they?

Clearly no per­son, young or small can be per­fect. Perfect doesn’t even exist. But striv­ing for that goal, or want­ing that life, dimin­ishes the life we have.

At the Emmy award this year some­one and I can­not remem­ber who, thanked their mom for not wor­ry­ing about him. Imagine what that means.  Think about why we worry about our chil­dren. Do we want them to be dif­fer­ent? Does our worry impact them in a neg­a­tive way? Does it detract from their con­fi­dence level because clearly mom or dad may be con­cerned?
 

My goal these past years is to have patience and con­fi­dence. Set aside worry and live in the moment. It is huge for me as I tend to worry, and often need­lessly. But giv­ing up the idea of per­fec­tion and accept­ing what­ever it is I have, that would bring me peace of mind and that would be much bet­ter than per­fec­tion.

 

 

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Gifted and Talented In New York City

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I met Alex as he was prepar­ing for the bat­tery of tests NYC stu­dents must often take to get into the gifted and tal­ented classes or Hunter Elementary School.He was such an engag­ing stu­dent and we enjoyed our time together.

I once asked him if he was inter­ested in writ­ing a book and showed him my first stu­dent authored book: “Chess Is My Game”. He imme­di­ately took to the idea and is now proud to present it to you. He took spe­cial plea­sure in dress­ing up and choos­ing loca­tions for the shot. I think chil­dren will delight in the illus­tra­tions and will relate to their inno­cence. 

I would love it if you checked it out and bought it for your grand­chil­dren, chil­dren, or stu­dents. It can be a huge moti­va­tor for any­one who is learn­ing to write and even author their own book. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/My-Stuffies-Alex-Agrawal/dp/1490473629/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371822054&sr=1–1&keywords=my+stuffies

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Karate Is My Sport, a book by and for young readers

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As a par­ent edu­ca­tor and a tutor for early read­ers, I am pleased to announce the  sec­ond book authored by my youngest stu­dent. 

Once a child has a solid foun­da­tion of let­ter sounds they can begin to use inven­tive spelling to rep­re­sent words. Photographs or their own illus­tra­tions add the fin­ish­ing touch. 

As a sea­soned and now retired kinder­garten teacher, I am able to pub­lish a book that has con­trolled vocab­u­lary, repet­i­tive and pre­dic­tive text with pic­tures to pro­vide a solid clue to the unknown word. The result is a book that the author is very proud of, as well as a book that can be an inst­pi­ra­tion to young read­ers and writ­ers in gen­eral.

http://www.amazon.com/Karate-Is-Sport-Johji-Nakada/dp/1490378642/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1371399829&sr=8–3&keywords=karate+is+my+sport

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Kindergarten in New York City

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Kindergarten and Play

 

Last week, in yoga, the teacher inno­cently instructs us to be play­ful with our pose. Pretend that you are in kinder­garten she relates. I fume. Kindergarten has very lit­tle to do with play these days…..though I wish it did.  And why do peo­ple still think it does? There are schools that still value a less struc­tured and aca­d­e­mic cur­ricu­lum but those are few and far between. Many preschools, as well as par­ents, encour­age learn­ing basic skills such as the alpha­bet and num­ber recog­ni­tion as a way to give their child a leg up. The value of pre­tend play, exer­cis­ing fine and gross motor skills (small and large mus­cles,) and build­ing a child’s capac­ity for com­plex learn­ing tasks are sig­nif­i­cantly diin­ished. Instead, kinder­garten cur­ricu­lum goes straight to hard core aca­d­e­mics with limit­ted time for a five year old to be emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally free. Easels are gone…too messy. Fingerpainting is out. Clay is rarely used and soon crayons will be sub­sti­tuted for iPads. Worksheets are fre­quently used.

 

Many edu­ca­tors believe that this push to teach kinder­gart­ners in this way is inap­pro­pri­ate and inef­fec­tive. Children who are allowed to explore and exper­i­ment are more likely to be moti­vated to learn. Critical think­ing, which is at the heart of the new com­mon core cur­ricu­lum, is increased and chil­dren develop their social emo­tional skills in a sup­port­ive set­ting.

 

Parents who strive to give their chil­dren the best edu­ca­tion may look for the most rig­or­ous set­ting. In my opin­ion, a school that pro­vides great stim­u­la­tion for a child’s nat­ural curios­ity and then sup­ports them with a flex­i­ble envi­ron­ment in which to explore will be most effec­tive.

 

New York City pro­vides many options in both the pub­lic and pri­vate arena. Tests such as the ERB for pri­vate schools are impor­tant to some schools but not oth­ers. The G&T pro­gram may be an option but is often unac­cept­able. Hunter Elementary School is a great school but your child must per­form excep­tion­ally on the Stanford Binet Exam which is an IQ test. There are many gen­eral pub­lic schools that are won­der­ful options if you live within the school’s bound­aries. 

As you explore kinder­garten for your child’s next aca­d­e­mic step be aware of the trap­ping of the so called “top ten schools.”There is more to look at than a school’s rank­ing. Observe well and seek the advice of edu­ca­tors you respect. 

 

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2007/05/kindergartens_not_just_play_an.html

http://childparenting.about.com/od/schoollearning/a/kindergarteners_today_are_playing_less.htm

 

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Kindergarten Tip: While Waiting, Stimulate Language Skills

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I tutor chil­dren who are prepar­ing to take an entrance exam for kinder­garten. If a child is going to pri­vate school they usu­ally must take a test called the ERB. The ERB is heav­ily focused in lan­guage and even if a child is bril­liant, they will not score high if they do not express them­selves well. One activ­ity that chil­dren, who do not like to talk, find most repug­nant is list­ing prop­er­ties of items.

For exam­ple: Tell me every­thing you know about a dog, milk, the zoo?

A child may feel sti­fled and not be able to express them­selves even when they are com­pletely capa­ble. It is a skill that would be enhanced from daily prac­tice.

So when you are out and about, ask your child to tell you every­thing they know about any­thing. Use a visual that is in their envi­ron­ment. It could be a pic­ture on a bill­board or the real thing. Once they are com­fort­able with this activ­ity see if you can get them to eval­u­ate what attribute is impor­tant, spe­cial or unique and what isn’t. Saying a dog walks is fairly triv­ial com­pared to the attribute of bark­ing, it’s a pet, it has fur. Switch up the roles and take turns. Your child will love being the “teacher” and may get more insight from that van­tage point then when they were giv­ing the answers. 

Have a list of all the things you can do that is fun and edu­ca­tional and use it when you are wait­ing in line, in tran­sit etc.

Of all the skills tested on the ERB, lan­guage is one that takes the most time to ele­vate. Enjoy your time together and use it well,

 

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NYC Parents of Kindergartners: Ask Why

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ATTENTION all NYC Parents of Kindergartners:

Whether a kinder­garten entrance exam is in your child’s future or not, enhanced rea­son­ing skills are crit­i­cal for suc­cess in school and life. Reasoning skills hap­pen to be the #1 skill that pro­fes­sion­als look at when eval­u­at­ing a child’s intel­li­gence.

One aspect of rea­son­ing skills is called metacog­ni­tion which  refers to one’s abil­ity to explain their think­ing. When a child is in school and answers a ques­tion the teacher might, and should often, ask why they thought that. When chil­dren are not accus­tomed to being ques­tioned they typ­i­cally inter­pret that response as a sign their answer was wrong. A child will often shut down and feel embar­rassed  When a child is able to explain their think­ing it not only rein­forces their rea­son­ing skills but also allows adults the oppor­tu­nity to clar­ify any con­fu­sion or even deepen the child’s under­stand­ing. 

So when you and your future kinder­gat­ner are chat­ting, try ask­ing them why they think the things they do. It’s always inter­est­ing to hear.Often times chil­dren will say, I don’t know or my brain told me. This is absolutely nor­mal but don’t give up. Sometimes they will sur­prise you. Keep ask­ing why and help them along by giv­ing pos­si­ble rea­sons. Your child will become used to this kind of ques­tion­ing and will be ready to take on that entrance exam as well as be a more crit­i­cal thinker and stu­dent.

Future kinder­gart­ners in NYC and across the coun­try:  this is your future. Prepared to talk a lot about why you think the way you do. 

to learn more about metacog­ni­tion:

http://education.purduecal.edu/Vockell/EdPsyBook/Edpsy7/edpsy7_meta.htm

Enjoy the con­ver­sa­tion .…

 

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