Saturday, June 29, 2013

From An Unapologetic Working Mom


My family

I am a working mom.  I have worked steadily since I was 16 years old.  When my boys were born, I worked part time around my husband’s schedule.  I returned to full time work when my youngest son was in 1st grade.  I am unapologetic and do not feel guilty.  Society tells me that I should feel guilty.   Goodness knows that there are enough articles and morning shows about working mom guilt.  I think it is time that those of us who don’t feel guilty are heard.  I want a TV segment entitled, “Proud Working Moms Who Raised Good Children.”

I grew up with a stay-at -home mom.  I believe that my mother was very happy being home.  My mother was where she felt she needed to be and that fulfillment made her a good mother.  Much to her credit, she knew that being home might not be the choice made by her daughters who were growing up in a different era.  My parents wanted us to be happy and to have options.  I knew that there was an expectation that I would go to college.  My parents gave me two great gifts – that college education and their example of striving to be great parents.

Great parents come in many forms but, I believe, are all rooted in the same psychological place.   Great parents work to be complete and fulfilled humans in their own right.    Both working moms and stay-at-home moms have the same potential to feel fulfilled in their worlds.  No one is less than anyone else and there is no right answer.  Whether we work because we need to contribute to the household income or because we simply enjoy having a career, working moms are doing what they need to do.  There is no reason to apologize for that.

I know myself well enough to know that I need a life outside my family.  It makes me happy.  I am a better wife and mother when I am authentically me and I know that I am someone who is fulfilled from being in the working world.  I need to have an identity separate and apart from my family.  My boys are 16 & 20 years old.  At this point in our lives, I actually have two careers.  I am a school director and I write, lecture & facilitate workshops about parenting & education.  My husband and children are excited that my career is going so well and in so many different directions.  Over the years – especially when we are on vacation – I have teased my family about changing course and staying home.  My boys have always emphatically said, “NO!”  They tell me that I would be bored.  They say, “That’s not you, Mom.”  They know me well.  They are two well-adjusted, self-aware young men who would tell you that they haven’t suffered from growing up in a household with two busy, working parents.  It’s time for people to stop trying to justify their own choices, fears or lack of understanding by pointing at ours and passing judgment.  Maybe that TV segment should be called, “I Don’t Care How You Structure Your Family and You Shouldn’t Care About Mine.”

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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © 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.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Verbal Skills Are Just One Type of Intelligence



While waiting in line for the cashier, a 3 year old was talking excitedly to his mother.  Another person in line said, “Oh my, he is so smart!”  Yes, he is verbally intelligent.  He can express his wants, needs and observations with words.  Adults are drawn to children who can communicate well.  I believe we are drawn to them because it makes us feel better.  The child has exhibited an ability that is part of our grown up world.  The verbal children can tell us what we need to know.  They can tell us what they see, what they hear, what hurts, what happened. 

As someone who has worked with young children for many years, I am intrigued by those who build amazing structures with wooden blocks or have an eye for copying what they see onto paper with paint or crayons.  I am enthralled when a child can pick up an instrument and play instinctively with the beat of the music.  I wonder why some children navigate the social sphere with such natural ease while others struggle to make friends.  There are many types of intelligence.  Some children happen to be more gifted at the one we prize most in this society – verbal skills.  Those children are not necessarily more intelligent or more able to process information than the others.    In fact, when we identify verbally advanced children as the most intelligent, we are doing every child a disservice.  Adults tend to act as if verbal intelligence always equates to overall brilliance and, therefore, those children don’t need as much of our assistance with other tasks.  There is also a tendency to label the children who are less verbal as being generally less intelligent.  No one benefits from either of these assumptions.

Developmental Psychologist Howard Gardner is known for his theory of multiple intelligences.  In his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983), Gardner said that humans have multiple and differing ways of learning and processing information.  He said that there are multiple types of intelligence that work independently.  He has identified eight types of intelligence:  verbal/linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.  While his theory has been debated, it cannot be denied that we are all better at some of these skill sets than others.   I have always been verbally intelligent while mathematical skills take more time for me to learn.  Likewise, I know people who can calculate with ease while writing is more of a challenge.  

Young children enter preschool classrooms with a plethora of abilities and levels of development.  When we watch, we can see that a child who has not yet mastered verbal skills may be an excellent builder and is, therefore, exhibiting logical-mathematical and spatial intelligence.  Children who are not as skilled at interpersonal interactions may be instinctively musical or athletic.  We need to value each type of intelligence and not make sweeping generalizations.  It is important to identify each child’s strengths and challenges so we can foster growth for everyone.  Every child’s abilities should be prized and we need to teach in a way that captures every learner.  A foundation of self-worth is built upon pride in one’s abilities and the confidence to know that each of us is capable of learning.  When we acknowledge each child for his/her individual intelligence and encourage the work it takes to tackle a more difficult task, we truly prepare our children for the world.  When they feel confident and capable, it doesn’t matter which form of intelligence they exhibit most.  They will find a path that will lead them to success.

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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © 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.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

The Magic of Fatherhood



Fathers are larger than life.  When children are lucky, Dad is a magical figure.  He is a protector and has a way of fixing things.  When we are young we literally ride on his shoulders and we figuratively continue to do so throughout our lives.  Our father’s interests peek our curiosity and our interests become their hobbies.   In the year 2013 when so many families include two working parents, I am glad to hear when mothers commiserate about their husbands being the fun ones in the eyes of their children.  Every child deserves that fun parent and that hero.

From observing our fathers, or anyone so central in our lives, we learn about power and how to navigate the complications of life.  Children, particularly young ones, watch their father’s every move.   Children learn to be steadfast, loyal, hardworking  & family centered from fathers who demonstrate those traits and values.  They can also learn to be respectful, fair, forgiving and empathetic from their fathers.  Every so often, we all need to consider if we are intentionally parenting.  We need to think about the specific lessons we want our children to learn and if we are doing all we can to teach them.  Gender stereotypes can, even in 2013, make fathers leery of showing too much emotion or admitting when they are not entirely in control of a situation.  I have two sons.  I want them to know it is acceptable to feel whatever emotions they feel and to sometimes need to regroup & start again.  They cannot only learn that from one person in a household that includes two role models.  They have to see that my husband is sometimes sad, sometimes scared or sometimes unsure.  It is a common human experience to have a variety of emotions and express them.  That experience belongs to both genders – to men and women, to Mom and Dad.  When they watch their father cope with what comes along, they learn that their emotions have validity and they can cope too.  Children will be more emotionally healthy when both parents are genuine about what they feel.

The job of parents – both mothers and fathers – is to foster the growth of independent and capable adults.  I don’t believe for one moment that it is easier for fathers to watch their children grow up and separate from us.  It is essential that fathers take the time to consider their unique place in their children’s lives and how that role can be a basis for teaching the life lessons that our children need to learn before venturing off on their own.  From my father, I learned to ride a bike, swim, try to right what is wrong, do for others, work hard and laugh at the absurdities of life.   What did you learn from yours?  On this Father’s Day, take a moment to consider gifts of knowledge can you give to your children.

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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © 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.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

What is the Most Important Activity in Your Young Child’s Day?


My nephew and Covey

Young children need time and opportunity to figure out the world.  They do that through exploring their curiosity.  From the time they are born, they are learning about their world through their five senses.  Newborns react to your touch and their eyes look to see another face.  They grow a little and learn that they can reach out to grab something and bring it to them.  That first lesson in cause and effect lays the groundwork for all the learning to come.   By the time they are preschoolers and for many years after, they strive to create, build and become a part of what must seem like a huge world around them filled with bigger people, big emotions and so many rules.  They wonder what it feels like to be superheroes, moms, dads, dinosaurs, dogs and cats.  They figure out the world and how it functions by pretending.  The most important activity in your young child’s day is dramatic play.
                       
My nephew, like many other 3 year old children, has a favorite blanket.  He named it.  After all, everything else around him has a name.  The blanket’s name is Covey.   Covey talks.  My nephew uses a squeaky voice to express Covey’s thoughts and wishes.  Covey converses with all of us, including my nephew.  Anyone who has been around young children knows that using alternative voices to make toys come to life isn’t so unusual.  I remember being a young girl and “speaking for” my dolls.  The most fascinating thing about my nephew’s talking Covey is that they have conversations and don’t always agree.   They have different favorite colors.  They don’t always agree on which TV show to watch.  My nephew might want to play with one toy while Covey prefers another.  My 20 year old son thinks that their divergent opinions are hilarious.  He loves to watch a good debate between my nephew and his Covey.  I love to watch it, too.  It confirms everything I know to be true about the importance of letting children have time to pretend.

My nephew is experimenting with every facet of his world every time he picks up Covey.  He is reinforcing what he knows about friendship, sharing and caring when he insists that we use a seat belt to keep Covey safe in the car.  He reaches outside his young, egocentric self when he comforts Covey and hugs him.  He demonstrates knowledge of respectful disagreement, discussion and negotiation when they try to decide which TV show to watch.   He can argue safely and experiment with how it feels to win and to lose. My nephew even pretends to diaper and feed Covey just like his mother does with his infant sister.  He is playing the role of a parent who is responsible for someone else.  He is Covey’s caregiver, protector, friend and family. 

Every time a child pretends to be mommy or daddy, that child is gaining insight into how it feels to be big, patient and responsible.  Children always pretend to be their pets.  They ask us to pet them so they can find out why the dog likes that so much.  They try to be superheroes to feel powerful.  They pretend to be everything and everywhere that they have ever seen either in person or via TV and movies.  They are not merely having fun imagining.  They are adding to their ability to have empathy as they fill roles to see what “fits.”

Dramatic play isn’t limited to children.  We never stop imagining.  Adults don’t as readily put on costumes or play with dollhouses but we certainly play out scenes in our imaginations.  We anticipate the reactions of others to good and bad news.  We prepare what we will say in different circumstances and imagine how every scenario will end.  We rehearse in our heads.  We have internalized the most important tool for growth and development – dramatic play.

In an era when our children have calendars that rival any adult schedule, we need to remember to save time to let them imagine and role play.  When they do, watch them.  Watch to see what lessons they are trying to grasp.  When you observe carefully and don’t interject, you will see that the increasing understanding of their world is palpable.  You can practically feel them becoming strong and empathetic.  By giving them the gift of time to pretend, you will lay a foundation from which they will find themselves and their place in the world.
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Read this blog for more articles and learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © 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.

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