Saturday, May 21, 2016

As I Walked Along The Elementary School Bus Route…

It was beautiful spring weather yesterday and I found myself walking along the same route as the elementary school bus. It had the same bus driver from eight years ago when my youngest son rode that bus for the last time.  It was taking the same route.  The only thing that had changed was the children.  Different children came bounding off the bus just like my two boys did years ago.  They ran to a different set of adults than when my boys were younger.  They were slightly disheveled in that “we were outside at recess today” way. They exited the bus talking to each other and then the adults who listened about their day.

I remember being those people with the young children.  I was once that mom listening to the tales of the elementary school day.  My children were once that small and young and slightly disheveled.  I can still see them that way.  In my mind’s eye, they are those boys even as I stand in the same room with them now – both taller than me, both with razor stubble and both so adult.  One of my boys has graduated from college, gotten a job and moved to his own apartment two bridges and several highways from here.  The other is a college student who lives among his peers and paves the path for his future independence.  It’s been a while since they were on that bus with that bus driver at that bus stop.

As I watched the parents retrieve their children and walk with them toward home, I found myself wishing for them.  I wished that they become as grateful as I am to have held a new life in my arms in the seconds after birth and to have held that same child as I left him at college. I wished that they smile someday when they remember the sleepless nights and the child who only wanted to be in their parents’ bed at night.  I wished that they even remember the fevers, coughs and mysterious rashes as priceless and irreplaceable affirmation of the parent/child bond.

I hope that they get to feel like I do – that the greatest privilege of my life has been helping my two boys to become the strong, ambitious, independent young men who now tower over me.  I pray that these parents get to feel the sweet success of having raised loving and productive members of society.

I find that as my boys get older, my opportunities increase.  I have always worked and I have been so lucky to have a supportive husband who supports my crafting of a career.  I have never been the stay-at-home type.  It’s simply not me.  I am happier and better because I have a life outside of and apart from my family.  I think it is not a coincidence that as my boys have become gradually more and more independent, I have gradually had more speaking, writing and consulting opportunities.  I travel often.  I spend time with typical children, special needs children and at-risk children.  I get to work with the most amazing organizations and people.  I am busy editing a soon to be published book.  I stand in auditoriums and listen to people introduce me and I think, “How crazy is this life?  I can’t believe that list, that bio is about me!”  Just as it has become my boys’ time to fly, it has become mine, too.  I pray that these adults at the elementary school bus stop know that when their children leave and the time on the bus has ended, parents’ lives can blossom.  As my mother often says, “It is as it should be” and so the elementary school bus simply makes me smile.

________________________________________________________________________
Limited time discounted launch – “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Education Professionals.  One new 1 hr. professional development session each month, discussion forums and the opportunity for discounted consulting calls. Go to Helping Preschools Achieve and look for the affordable, monthly payment bundle.  Courses also available individually but the bundle is the most cost effective way to learn.

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Preparing Preschoolers for Next Year: 4 Ways to Make Change Less Scary

The end of the preschool year provides us with another teaching opportunity.  They say that change is scary and I cannot help but wonder if some of our fears come from the ways in which we were (or weren’t) transitioned in the early childhood years.  The students in our preschools become so comfortable with their environment.  They get used to seeing the same teachers and classmates.  They depend upon us for not only new learning but for the most basic types of help with self-care.  Then, in what must seem like a sudden jolt, their schedules change and their people change. 

I have seen some adults talk about the impending changes so much that they scare children who weren’t initially worried.  I have also seen adults act as if nothing is happening.  There has to be a balance – a way to prepare our students without terrifying them.  Here is some food for thought:                        
  • Consider the words you use.  I avoid the word “end” when I talk about the upcoming changes.  It isn’t an ending in the way they relate to the word.  A story is over and we say, “The End” and then it is completely over.  Book closed.  Done.  When we are speaking of school, however, it is far from over.  It is merely shifting.  I think it is much more accurate and positive to say, “When you go to your new” school or class or teacher.  The notion of going is simply a fact and it gets to be shiny and new.  While “The End” may be associated with the closing of a book, “new” is associated with exciting new toys or cool new sneakers.  It has an entirely different connotation.
  • Remember that the young children do not have a sense of time so talking about “next year” is fairly meaningless.  Over the course of my career, I have had many children ask when they go to their new class or school.  I tell them in terms that are tangible.  If I want to indicate fall, I tell them that first there is summer and beaches/pools and fun in the warm weather.  Then, their new class starts.  If a change will occur during the summer, I will say that they will enjoy the warm summer in their new class. 
  • Talk about change in the superhero terms they love.  During the very last days of our time together, I tell students that they will have so much fun with their new class and teacher.  I also tell them that they are so brave and they will learn so much.  I ask them to show me brave.  They may try to make a muscle with their arms. They pose in superhero poses.  These physical motions make them feel powerful.  They live in a world of magic and pretend.  We can use that mindset to teach them that they are, in fact, the superheroes because they will go forth with courage.
  • Don’t spend endless weeks talking about what will happen.  That is how we create a world full of people with anticipatory anxiety.  Adults tend to think that the more time we use to prepare children, the better.  Actually, the more time we spend talking about it, the more time there is for fear and worry.  The children will know that the school year is coming to an end.  Parents are talking about summer plans and next year.  Preschools may be preparing for end of the year trips or celebrations.  I have found that young children rarely ask, “What’s next?” while surrounded by all of that prep.  They have very little frame of reference and they probably assume that their most important adults will remain the same.  We can let them continue to feel secure until a week or so before they leave.  Remember – they don’t measure the passage of time like an adult.  If you talk about moving onto new things for a couple of days, that’s enough.
Hopefully, during your school year, the students have experienced enough change – minor changes to routine, change in classmates, change in teacher on a sick day, change in focus of activities – that they have learned that change can be safe and good. Slowly but surely with positive guidance, we can teach our students that change is merely that – change – not necessarily good or bad but just different… and different can be okay. 

________________________________________________________________________
Limited time discounted launch – “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Education Professionals.  One new 1 hr. professional development session each month, discussion forums and the opportunity for discounted consulting calls. Go to Helping Preschools Achieve and look for the affordable, monthly payment bundle.  Courses also available individually but the bundle is the most cost effective way to learn.  I hope you will learn with me online!

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

All Behavior is Communication: What Are The Children Trying to Tell Us?

All behavior is communication.  Behavior is about the children and the impact of the world on them. It is about their perceptions, frustrations, joys, confidence and lack thereof.  When we spend time with the same children day after day, we can tell when something is amiss in their lives.  That is as true of toddlers through high schoolers.  It is even true of adults in our lives.  Aren’t there times when you just know that one of your peers is troubled?  How many times have you asked, “Are you okay?” of another adult because you can simply tell that something is wrong.  That adult may choose not to tell you if something is wrong.  Children simply cannot.  They don’t have the words, confidence or insight about themselves yet. 

During my years working in early childhood education and now as a consultant who visits many schools, I have heard many truths from children.  I have had children tell me, “My mommy and daddy were yelling,” “My sister has a sickness” and “My grandma died.”  What they do not yet have the capacity to say is, “…and that makes me feel..”  They just feel it and they react.

The impetus for changes in behavior doesn’t need to be dramatic.  Think about the events that impact your mood. If you get up in the morning, are disappointed to find that the bagel you pictured eating isn’t in the kitchen and then you can’t find your keys, your day is already not off to a great start.  There have been many days when by 9:00 am, I’ve already thought to myself, “Today isn’t going to be fantastic.”  Likewise, there are glorious days when you just wake up feeling good, step out into beautiful weather and feel that all will be well.  Children are the same.  They can wake up and have small events impact their mood.  Their problems are important to them.  Maybe their parents couldn’t find the shoes they wanted to wear or they didn’t like what was offered for breakfast.  They aren’t going to walk into a classroom or up to a parent and say, “Watch out.  I’m in a lousy mood already.”  They are simply going to be that.

When a child is hitting, pushing or kicking people, the child is upset.  We need to remind the child that hurting people isn’t kind and isn’t allowed but we need to also understand that the child is trying to say something for which there aren’t words yet.  There may be vocabulary but there isn’t the ability to use the vocabulary words for that level of self-expression.  There isn’t the ability to introspective about impulses and urges.  There is raw emotion that needs an outlet.

The same is true of tween and teens.  I have worked with tweens & teens and have seen the ranges of sullen, angry or disruptive behavior.  They are trying to tell us something, too.  Often as children approach the teen years and travel through them, they are feeling insecure, self-conscious and keenly aware of the reaction of the world to them.  Tweens and teens with very critical adults in their lives become angry and act upon that with their peers, parents or teachers.  Those who feel “less than” their peers try to mask insecurities a variety of ways that can work for or against them.  They often use humor to mask insecurity but they don’t understand the boundaries for humor so they overstep the lines of appropriateness.  They do need to learn where the boundaries are in their lives.  While disruptive and disrespectful behavior needs to be addressed with appropriate consequences, they also need adults to try to help them identify the root of their behavior.  We are so fortunate to live in a time when many of our children have a “village” of adults and they can be encouraged to confide in one or two.  We are also lucky to live in an era that is increasingly accepting of the need for mental health professionals.  Many young people have mentioned to me that they have a therapist – that mention is a triumph for our society.  The young people are not worried about a stigma and their important adults were willing to seek the help that was needed.

No one’s behavior – not any child or adult – is about anyone other than themselves.  When they behave inappropriately, they are in some way struggling.  Though we cannot always get to the root of the problem, we can remember that our own behavior communicates too and sometimes we all need a little empathy and compassion.
________________________________________________________________________
Coming soon – “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Education Professionals.  Click HERE to reserve your discount for the upcoming launch.

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.