Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is the Tooth Fairy Real, Daddy?



Two 5 year old children were playing on the playground.  One said, “The tooth fairy came to my house and gave my brother money.”
“My mommy says the tooth fairy isn’t real,” said the other.
“My daddy said the tooth fairy is real and he knows everything.”

It is a familiar scene to those of us who work with young children.   Toddlers and preschoolers find it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality.  They accept that Santa, the tooth fairy and mystical creatures like unicorns are real.  They have vivid imaginations and it is fun for us to watch the wonder on their faces when life is full of magic.  My family is Jewish so we do not celebrate Christmas.  I remember my youngest sister telling a friend that Santa flies over our house and doesn’t come in because we have Chanukah, not Christmas.  It wasn’t that she didn’t believe Santa could exist.  He simply didn’t come to us.  Children easily accept fantasies even when they come from stories that don’t apply to them.

Then, one day, children begin to question.  Sometimes another child will challenge their beliefs.  Other times, they realize that the stories they have been told are just improbable.  Eventually every parent will face the day when their children ask, “Is this real?”  As an educator, I always tell children who ask about personal beliefs that they need to talk to their parents about it.  I would never contradict what a parent tells their child about belief.  I always hope that the parents carefully consider the question before answering.  When a child says, “Is this real?” adults need to acknowledge that…

Your children are seeking truth and will only do that when they have developed the capacity to begin to distinguish between real and not real.  Parents want to keep fairy tales going because we remember childhood as full of imagination & magic and we want life to be fun for our children.  Your child, however, has not asked you to make sure the tooth fairy is real.  Your child has asked you for the truth.  Your child can now understand that things can be real or not.  A child who does not understand that there is a difference between reality and fantasy will not question it.  Usually, we see the ability and desire to distinguish fact from fiction develop between the ages of 4-8 years old.  Like all else, each child develops this insight at his/her own rate.

While a child may be disappointed to hear the truth, finding out that their parents have lied to a direct question is far more hurtful.   Our young children need to know that they are right to trust us.  Trust and respect are earned.  That holds true for both adults and children.  When I was a young girl, I watched a TV show during which the host would wish a happy birthday to children by name.  Each year on my birthday, my mother and I would watch the show and, as if by magic, the host would say, “Cindy is having a special day today.”  It was so exciting!  I was about 7 years old and could read when I saw my mother writing a note to the show about my younger sister’s birthday.  I asked my mother why she was doing that.  She said, “This is how they know when your birthday is – I write to them.”  I was crushed.  I remember it distinctly so many years later.  I couldn’t believe my mother sat with me and pretended it was all magic. I was upset that she never told me.  Much to her credit, my mother waited for the direct question and answered it honestly.  I realize that by telling me the truth when I asked and not hiding it, my mother did what she has always done.  My mother has never lied to me.  To this day, I can always count on her for the absolute truth.  I wanted the same trust with my own children and have never lied to them either.  I did, however…

Know that we can give fantasies their right place in the world of imagination.  The fantastical stories of childhood do not have to disappear.  Children asking about Santa Claus can be told the story of the real St. Nicholas.  You can explain to them that Santa is about the joy of giving and make tagging gifts from Santa a game.  It is fun to get and give anonymous gifts.  Children who ask about creatures like unicorns can be told that they don’t really exist but are fun to imagine and have as part of stories about make-believe places and times.  You can sit with your children and imagine other creatures as you make up stories about them.  Imagination and pretend – they don’t stop and now the things they thought were real can be part of their play.  We need to make sure that as our children move these beliefs into the realm of imaginary play that they know…

Other parents may not appreciate your children sharing the truth with theirs.  Children should know that not all of their friends, siblings, cousins or classmates are ready to know the truth.  Explain that other children will ask their parents when they are ready and there is no need to share the news.  It is acceptable for them to begin to learn that some conversations are for public consumption and others should remain private.

Having written all this, I will admit that if my 16 and 20 year old still had baby teeth, I would sneak in at night to put money under their pillows.  I treasure the memories of being their tooth fairy – even the memories of forgetting and trying to sneak the money under the pillow in the morning.  I am proud of who they have become while I miss those little boys full of imagination.  I am grateful that the truth didn’t stifle their creativity and I wonder if those fantasies of childhood just become their ability to have spiritual beliefs.
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - 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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Monday, July 22, 2013

Gather Your Children - There is Good News on TV!



It is so wonderful to put on the TV and see good news.  The birth of the new Prince of Cambridge will have little impact on our everyday lives but it certainly can help to offset the barrage of bad news that usually floods television coverage.   Gather your children and show them that good does happen in the world and the media can actually report it.

I look forward to seeing the children who attend our Early Learning Center Summer Camp tomorrow.  I wonder how many of them will know about the birth.  This birth is the stuff their Disney movies are made of come to life.  The next week will be full of English tradition and ceremony as we await the announcement of the baby’s name. 

There is so much young children can learn from this event.  Here are just a few of the lessons this good news can bring:

Princes and princesses are real.  We are the keepers of truth for children.  They cannot always distinguish reality from fantasy, real from impossible. It is this inability to distinguish reality and fantasy that affords parents years of fun with Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and unicorns.  It is hard when we watch our children discover that the tooth fairy isn’t real.   Today, we get to show them that princes are really born in some parts of our large world.  There are kings and queens and princes and princesses.  Unicorns don’t exist but royalty is real!

Tradition should be respected and carried on.  Upcoming days will be filled with royal traditions.  From the formality of the birth announcement, to the town crier and the ceremonies ahead, we have the opportunity to witness the continuation of tradition in a way that is very relatable to our children.  We can discuss with them the beauty of carrying on tradition in this circumstance and in our lives.  The scenes ahead will open a door to discuss the carrying on of tradition in the world and in our families.  It is a great conversation starter about the things our families have done for years during holidays and other gatherings.

Families from all over the world are both different and the same as our families.  The royal family, so far away from those of us in the USA, has many of the same family members as our young children.  They live in a palace and we do not.  They may speak somewhat differently than we do.  They live very far away but the new prince has grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Every year in preschool, we talk about families.  This is a perfect time to reinforce that people can be different but, in so many ways, we are the same. 

News can be good.  After a year of hurricanes, increased violence and other frightening events, it is so refreshing to bring children into the room to watch the news rather than protect them from it.  Every birth is full of joy and hope for the future.  How nice to be able to gather our families – young and old – to celebrate and speculate about the future. 

I hope that during the upcoming days, parents take the opportunity to call their children into the room to see the ceremonies and learn of the baby’s name. I think tomorrow will be a perfect day to read books about princes and princesses as we ask our preschool campers if they heard the news.  A happy thing has happened – a prince and princess in a land across the ocean have a new baby prince!
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - 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.

 edu_listed_dirA Community of Mothers

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Remembering Trayvon Martin and Young People Who Changed Our World


Trayvon Martin

As I watch the peaceful demonstration in San Francisco on this evening of the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, I wonder if Trayvon Martin’s death can inspire change in our world.  Self-defense or not, it doesn’t change the fact that a young man died because someone else had a gun.  Gun control is a hot topic, especially after the school shootings, movie theater deaths and other violent acts of this year.   As time passes, will Trayvon Martin be remembered as the young boy whose death forced us to examine the violence in our society, profiling, race relations and more?  I remember other children who changed our world…

Adam Walsh
I remember Adam Walsh.  The disappearance and subsequent death of Adam Walsh changed our world.  We became acutely aware that strangers can be dangerous. I was a young girl and I remember my parents being more concerned about my whereabouts.   Violent crime took center stage as Adam’s father John Walsh became an advocate for victims of violent crimes.  Thanks to the Walsh’s determination that their son not die in vain, many cases were solved and we all became more aware.
                                 
Ryan White
I remember Ryan White.  The illness and bravery of Ryan White changed our world.  HIV and AIDS were considered a gay man’s disease before Ryan White and his family fought for his right to go to school.  We learned that HIV/AIDS was a disease that attacked young and old, gay and straight.  Thanks to Ryan White and his mother, HIV/AIDS began to receive the publicity and funds that would eventually save so many people.

Alexandra Scott
I remember Alexandra Scott.  While suffering from the pediatric cancer neuroblastoma, she decided to open a lemonade stand to raise money for children with cancer.  Alex shined a bright light on the young people who fight for their lives every day.  Alex’s idea grew into Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and not only provided publicity and funding but gave us a reminder that the young can change the world.  Alex gave a voice to children with cancer and to young people who want to help others.  She did so much before she died at only 8 years old.  Thanks to Alex Scott, over $ 60 million dollars has been raised to find a cure for cancer.

I would like to add the name Trayvon Martin to this list and the list of other children who made us think, reflect and enact change.  No child should die before their time.  No young person should die in vain.  When the dust settles, I pray that we come together to determine the lessons to be learned and that we start on a new path to ensure that our children are safer.
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - 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.

 edu_listed_dirA Community of Mothers

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dear Cindy.... A Place for Your Questions and Discussions

Do you have questions about parenting or education? My website has a new forum for your questions, input and discussions. Check it out and share it with your friends! http://www.helpingkidsachieve.com/#!social-forum/c16oc 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Encourage Children’s Personality Instincts, Don’t Destroy Them



Every preschool has them – The Class Boss, The Talker, The Climber, The Sensitive Child – and each of them have instinctive personality traits that will serve them well.  Teachers and parents can either encourage their talents or squash them.  I am always intrigued by the natural inclination of young children and saddened when I see people trying to put them into a mold that serves no other purpose than to make adult lives easier. 

I often tell people that I was The Talker.   Actually, I think I was more of The Communicator.   I have a natural impulse to communicate in whatever way I am able.  When I was young, I was often reprimanded in school for speaking too much.  When I got a little older, I passed notes in class.  I eventually learned when I should share my thoughts and when I should wait.  As a teacher, I gently remind The Talker when it is another person’s turn to speak.  I always make sure, though, that The Talker’s thoughts are eventually shared.  I will admit, even at my age,  that the urge to whisper in movie theaters or religious services and text while attending seminars still can be irresistible.  I also have an overwhelming urge to find the teachers who were so exasperated with me and let them know that today I get paid to communicate.  I write, lecture and give speeches.  I teach adults and children.  Sharing my thoughts and knowledge are my livelihood.

I admire The Climber.  The Climber has a physical coordination that I lack.  The Climber is fearless.  Years ago, I was teaching a group of 3 year olds and one girl was a particularly quick and talented climber.  She could scale a chair, table and toy cabinet before I could even give a verbal reminder that we need to stay on the floor to be safe.  I asked her parents if she climbed at home and they said, “Yes.  We can’t figure out what to do so we moved much of our furniture to the basement and garage.”  They were relieved when she was old enough to understand that climbing on everything might not be the best policy in every situation.  Much to their credit, they gave her plenty of climbing time in playgrounds.  They also enrolled her in gymnastics.  I wonder if anyone has ever asked world class gymnasts if they were preschool climbers.

The Class Boss has a confidence and bold personality that it takes other people years to develop.  The Class Boss organizes the other children, sets the rules and can get everyone to follow along.  They are natural leaders.  The Class Boss is one of the best reasons to have a multi-age environment in educational settings.  When the leader is shown how to mentor, their instincts can be nurtured.  I have taught many a Class Boss and am amused when I learn that they grow to be student club or council leaders.

My heart goes out to The Sensitive Child.  The Sensitive Child reacts emotionally to most situations.  Transitions, social interactions and other challenges can easily cause frustration and tears.  But oh, can those children laugh when something is funny and hug so tightly when someone needs it!  The Sensitive Child develops empathy easily when guided well.  They watch other children react emotionally and can relate when we take a moment to discuss feelings.  Emotions and feelings should be discussed often and not as an incidental moment in an otherwise busy day.  When children have words to describe their emotions and understand the physicality of their feelings, they become better able to control them.  It is one thing to have self-control but another to discourage children from feeling what they feel.  We need to see The Sensitive Child as impassioned by the world.  Imagine if we fostered them to play empathetic roles or to champion causes instead of wondering why they aren’t tougher.

Part of being an intentional teacher or an intentional parent is thinking about how we act and react to children.  We need to think about how we can guide them and help channel their natural instincts.  While I wonder if The Climber becomes The Gymnast, I also wonder if the squelching of those natural tendencies deprives the world of amazing talent.  Think about the children in your care.  The leader, the extrovert, the introvert, the one who observes before jumping in – they are all filled with greatness.
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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.

 edu_listed_dirA Community of Mothers