Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Love Letter to My Boys



Dear Michael & Scott,

I have loved you since before you were born.  My love for you is boundless.  It feels like warm sunshine when you are happy.  It hurts deep in my heart when you are sad.  I wish I could give you everything and save you from every mistake, from every hurt and from broken hearts.  I want to keep you close and safe.  But, alas, I love you too much to be that safety net or that helicopter parent. 

I love you so much that I will not always catch you before you fall.  I will let you stumble and make your mistakes.  I will let you see the cause and effect of your actions so you become more careful in the future.  I will let you get hurt so you learn to deal with pain.  Life can be painful and it takes practice.

I love you so much that I will not buy you everything you desire.  You need to know what it is to want, to wait and to dream.  Some things need to be just past your reach so you can learn to set your own goals and know that you have the power to make things happen for yourself.  You can plan and earn and achieve.

I love you so much that I will not hover.  As you’ve gotten older, I’ve purposely let go and moved away more and more each year.  I am that mom who does not know when your assignments are due.  You need to be responsible for you.  When you are not, society will react and you will learn that meeting your responsibilities is easier than not.

I love you so much that I will force you to go to Religious School, services and temple events.  You need to know who you are and that there is a community in which you can always find like-minded people who will celebrate joys with you and reach out to you when you are sad.  You need to feel comfortable in a religious community because life is hard and sometimes all you will have is faith.

I love you so much that I will let go of my dreams for you and let you have your own.  You will not lead the life I pictured when you were born because fairy tales aren’t real.  You will, in so many ways, be more amazing than I could have imagined and I will step aside as you build the life that makes you happy.

I love you unconditionally and always will.  I pray that you feel that love even when we are miles apart.

Always yours,
Mom


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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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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dare to Have a Dream for Our Children



Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shared his dream of freedom and equality.  It was a moving and bold speech that provided a defining moment as African American people fought for their civil rights.  Today, Barack Obama – the first African American President of the United States -  stood on those same steps to pay tribute to Dr. King.  We may still have a way to go but thanks to visionaries like Dr. King, we have progressed. 
Be a visionary with me and dream for our children.   They are growing up in a world that makes me concerned for the adults they will be. 

  • I have a dream that children will play in front yards again and watch ants crawl in the grass.
  • I have a dream that those children will be safe enough to ride bikes through their neighborhood and come home when the street lights come on.
  • I have a dream that children will play on swings and try to get over the metal bar while staring at the clouds.
  • I have a dream that someone will realize that standardized testing proves nothing except that humans have the capacity to memorize and so they will be abolished.
  • I have a dream that the lockdown and evacuation drills become unnecessary and our children feel safe in their schools.
  • I have a dream that young people will be able to just be who they are and not fear telling people that they are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered.
  • I have a dream that technology will do what we thought it would – save us time and not use so much of it that we have no time to watch the birds fly, the leaves blow and the waves hit the shore.
  • I have a dream that community becomes a priority once again so that people walk away from their computers and value time talking in the same room.
  • I have a dream that we teach our children that doing good in this world is more important than winning the dance competition or sporting event.

Dare to dream …                                  

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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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"When It's Time to Change..." Wisdom from The Brady Bunch



As a young child, I couldn’t get enough of The Brady Bunch.  From that half hour per week, I learned about blended families, sibling rivalry, middle child syndrome, respecting people we hire in our homes and the importance of family.  I learned that 6 children can share one bathroom and, much to my delight, the eldest child is in fact entitled to the room in the attic.  There was, however, one lesson from one episode that was so beyond my level of maturity that it took years for me to fully grasp it.  That episode contains the lesson that I wish we could bottle and give to our children.  

Picture it – the family has an opportunity to record a song and Peter’s voice starts to change.  He has no control over this symptom of puberty but he certainly can’t sing on a record like that.  Greg wants to exclude him but their parents convince them to change the song rather than leave Peter out.  And so they sing those iconic words written by Raymond Bloodworth, Billy Meshel and Chris Welch:

When it's time to change, then it’s time to change
Don't fight the tide, come along for the ride, don't you see
When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
who you are into what you're gonna be.

Change is hard.  It is hard to systematically let go of your children and adapt to their increasing independence as you take the journey from that first day of kindergarten to the first day of moving to a college dorm.  It is hard to work for a new boss, change jobs, move, change marital status and watch friends & family come and go.  Change is hard basically for two reasons – we have fear and a skewed sense of identity.  The unknown is scary but, more importantly, how we define ourselves is more wrapped up in what we do rather than who we are.  I am a wife, working mom, daughter, sister and aunt.  I am a Reform Jew and Director of Schools at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, NJ.  I am a blogger, writer, speaker and workshop facilitator.  To change any of those labels means changing my description of myself.  It means redefining me.  It seems like a daunting task but I haven’t always been those things.  I wasn’t always a wife, working mom or even a Reform Jew.  I grew up in the Conservative movement and made the conscious decision as an adult to raise my family in the Reform movement.  If I started out one way but now am another, why is it so hard to continue to change?  It is hard when we define ourselves the wrong way.  I do all the things listed but people have also described me as intelligent, insightful, optimistic, strong willed, compassionate and driven.  Those are the basic characteristics that will more likely stay with me as life changes in ways that are and are not beyond my control.  Change is hard but while one thing changes, I take my intelligence and strong personality with me.  You just apply who you are differently when you “rearrange who you are into what you're gonna be.”

As you watch your child go to kindergarten or leave for college, your role changes but you are still you. You can find other ways to use your talents.  We can teach our children that life changes but so much of the positive in them can stay or even become more of an asset.  Instead of having our children identify themselves as what they do, we should dig deeper and help them to see the good in who they are.  When children identify themselves as caring, smart, thoughtful, funny, athletic…. perhaps changing what they do can be less traumatic.   Yes, they may play soccer or dance or be the smartest person in the class but all of that will change.  Eventually, they will grow, have families, careers and even encounter people who are more intelligent.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they could transition easier by knowing that change doesn’t mean that they lose the best parts of themselves?  Change means taking your best self and “rearranging.”                      
      

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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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Do Our Children Learn or Understand?



Learning and understanding are two different actions.  We can learn facts without understanding them.  I remember spending a year of high school chemistry learning without really understanding.  I learned vocabulary and memorized facts.  I did well enough to easily pass my class.  I didn’t understand what was going on and have retained none of the information.  I did not enjoy my class and I still cringe when I think about it.  In my freshman year of college, I took a required class about Shakespeare at 8:00 am in the morning.  I was fully prepared to repeat the chemistry experience by memorizing what I had to know in order to get through it.  I had the most amazing professor.  At 8:00 am in front of a class of barely awake freshman, he reenacted every role and used us as actors to recreate the world of Shakespearean plays.  We understood the unfamiliar prose and old English.  We knew what was happening.  We became a part of the story as it came alive.  As a teacher of both children and adults, I have always strived to do what that professor did for us.  I strive to take complicated topics and bring them to life so my students will feel a part of the learning.  I want them to not only learn but to understand.  I am fortunate to work in a private school setting where student centered investigation and projects can be the basis for building knowledge. 
In today’s test score oriented society, I wonder if there is any consideration given to the difference between learning and understanding.  Memorizing endless facts and completing practice standardized tests do not teach understanding.  Creating, employing our senses and having experiences take the facts on paper and bring them to life in a way that stimulates our brains.  The early childhood education concept that children need to be engaged in their learning applies to learners of all ages.  There is no expiration date on the fact that we understand best what we do.  We learn from trying and erring.  We need to give learners of all ages the opportunity to understand by doing.  We cannot, of course, singlehandedly change an educational system’s current methodology – though we can hope that the pendulum swings back to favor what all educational theory tells us.  We can hope that eventually people acknowledge that many current methodologies don’t foster deeper thinking.  In the meantime, it is incumbent upon all of us to foster our children’s natural curiosity and knowledge about their world.  Parents need to be deliberate when choosing how to expand their children’s world. When deciding what to do with family time, consider the following:

  • Make history come alive by visiting historic sites.  I love when I see young children on tours of presidential homes or historic battlefields or other national historic sites.  Their parents are literally bringing their text books to life.  I remember how excited my children were when they learned something in history and could say, “I’ve been there.”
  • Take your children to a park to see what makes them curious.  Nature is one of life’s best teachers.  Do you remember lying in the grass watching insects crawl?  Do you remember watching the clouds move?  Observing nature and the cause & effect of experimenting with nature teaches so much.  Some of those insects in the grass can carry more than twice their weight.  The clouds are formed as part of the water cycle.  Watch your children to see what they are watching and grasp their curiosity by experimenting with them.
  • Play games together.  That’s right – bring back family game night.  Children learn so many social skills while they are having fun.  They learn to take turns, negotiate, strategize, cooperate, converse, win, lose…the list is endless.  Playing is about far more than collecting the largest pile of cards or ending with the most play money.
  • Go to museums.  Children today are fortunate to be able to start their museum trips with child-friendly, hands on locations.  Visiting museums shouldn’t end when the hands-on exhibits become too juvenile.  Around the same time your children outgrow the touch-me museum, they will be entering a new, higher level of learning.  They will be able to look, read and apply prior knowledge to incorporate what they will see at adult museum exhibits.
  • And if all else fails… you can turn off the mindless TV shows and turn on educational channels.  Remember before cable TV?  We had a choice of only 6 channels and public broadcasting.   We were lucky.  Less choice meant more quality.  Though watching television cannot replace interactive, 3 dimensional learning, we can choose to have our children watch shows that have depth.

Above all else, don’t assume that you have the same interests as your children.  What we find boring might be fascinating to them.  What we avoid might trigger their curiosity.  I find it hard to be bored when my children are fascinated.  Parents have an amazing opportunity to see the world twice – once on our own and once through the eyes of our children.  Perhaps their curiosity about things we don’t understand will help to deepen our learning too.
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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