Sunday, September 20, 2015

Common Sense is the New Wisdom

Youth Library Cards 

Hop on down to the local library
with toddler in tow
Scoot on over to the librarian
with toddler on toe
Order a library card in toddler's name
Then dance and hoot 
until you get the boot!


early learning
Papa, please put my library card on our refrigerator with a really good magnet

It came as rather a surprise when I read an article in The University of Washington's Columns magazine about "The New Mindset, Turning Research Into Better Living." The first example of UW's "innovation imperative" was a nursing professor who "discovered" that premature babies gained weight and developed faster if they were rocked and could hear the sound of a heartbeat.

I thought, "What? Really? Doesn't everyone know that?"

The next line was even more surprising to me. . . "The findings, which ran counter to the convention of protecting preemies from everything, including sound and motion, revolutionized neonatal care. . . it showed that nurturing and contact are vital for these tiny beings to develop and thrive."

I thought, "Wow! I guess what I consider simple logic isn't that apparent to some others."

library, baby, toddler,
. . . and you can go anywhere, too!

The next day I read an article from the local newspaper. Its title was. . .

"Librarys Offer Literacy Tools For Children: This is National Library Card Sign-Up Month"

I thought, "Hmmm. . .  the fact that libraries have literacy tools for children seems way too obvious. . . wait. . . maybe common sense is the new wisdom!"

So, the article went on to encourage parents to get into the habit of going to the library with this one kick-start-action step.

Action Step: Library Cards For Young Children

Parents and guardians may sign up their children for their very own youth library card beginning at birth!

These are some of my personal suggestions:
  • Create a schedule going to the library every two weeks, say on Tuesdays, to begin while the baby is not able to walk. 
  • As soon as your toddler is running, wildly inquisitive, let them help to choose the books. 
  • Choose five and let your child choose five for a total of ten books to take home. This helps to keep track of the number of books you need to find when they dissapear under the sofa etc. 
  • As soon as the child is dexterous enough, let them slide the book's barcode under the scanner themselves, or bring them up to the desk with their own library card in hand. 

early literacy skills,

  • 'Check out' their look of concentration, pride, responsibility, and determination.  
  • Do not help them to save time. 
  • Take a breath mint and just sit back and observe your child in action. 
  • Naturally, if the need becomes clear, the child may ask for help at some point. 
  • But only if they ask.
  • Try to fend off other well-intentioned adults from helping your child. 
Just do it!

Libraries offer many resources to help parents and caregivers get children off to a strong start at home with proven early literacy practices. Early literacy is a component of early learning.

Early learning is everything a child experiences and learns in the first years of life, from birth to age five, even before they actualy are able to read for themselves!

With a bit of common sense and much bookish mirth, 

Papa Green Bean

At many libraries, youth library cards do not have late fees!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review: Hands Free Life

After reading Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford, I began to understand myself better. Her poetic, philosophical, spiritual, and above all, inspirational writing reminds me of Kahil Gibran's masterpiece, The Prophet. But Stafford is also a contemporary Maria Montessori. Perhaps, a beautiful blend of the two.

Overcoming distraction, inspirational
Compassion is contagious!

The shining heroines of the book, in my opinion, are Stafford's two young daughters. They are the inspiration for Stafford's transformation from harried to loving, from distracted to attentive, from micromanaging mom and adult to trustful parent and global citizen.

Stafford now understands that life 'must be felt through the open hands and heart of an awakened soul'.

Here is a quote of Montessori from her Education for a New World - "We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit"

In one of Stafford's many tear moving stories she allows her girls to bake in the kitchen by themselves for the first time. Afterwards, as she enters the mess, she observes - "My children's faces held the unmistakable glow of ungoverned triumph."

Early childhood education and development
Empathy creates a ripple effect

Here is a taste of the revolutionary goodness inside Hands Free Life:
  • The most meaningful life experiences don't happen in the "when," they happen in the "now."
  • Let regret be someone else's companion.
  • Perhaps the greatest opportunity to connect to what really matters lies in the silent spaces of our day.
  • Let us surrender the failures and pains of our past so that our love is not separated and weakened but instead united and strengthened.
  • Garner the strength, the patience, the resolve to do one thing: Listen. Unconditional attention is just as important as unconditional love.
  • By rejecting societal measures of success, we open countless opportunities to grasp what really matters in a way that feels right in our heart and soul.
  • Maybe second chances are not given to us but are something we offer ourselves by using new words and new actions.
  • Living life fully is not in the first-place finish, the shiny blue ribbons, or the flawless form; it's in the joy you feel in your heart because you were brave enough to try.
  • My children will always know I will give them truth, even when the truth can be difficult or uncomfortable to say or hear.
  • As children often show us, our most precious gift is the one given from the heart with a loving smile - no wrapping paper required.
  • Let us create boundaries that build up, not tear down. Let us be role models, not bad examples. Let us leave legacies, not scars on our sisters and brothers.
  • With heightened awareness... taking a few minutes to savor everyday wonders makes the heart fuller, the inner doubts quieter, and the human connections stronger. And that is when the ordinary becomes extraordinary for yourself and those who share your life.
  • Small, daily gestures of love hold the power to transform our relationships, but also the world.
  • The one who notices and responds with empathy can create a ripple effect. Because compassion spreads . . . compassion is contagious.
  • Happiness beats perfection. Every. Single. Time. 

Here is another Montessori quote from her The Secret of Childhood - "The study of the child... may have an infinitely wider influence, extending to all human questions. In the mind of the child we may find the key to progress... "

Gibran, Montessori, and Stafford all share a delicious quality; a special sensitivity that enables one to feel the essence of life, and to be able to express those sentiments on the written page.

Rachel Macy Stafford is correct - compassion is contagious. Let's spread it around by sharing her new book with friends and foe alike. I began this blog because I wanted to help parents, perhaps, become a bit more sensitive in their relations with their children. Stafford is a brilliant example of one who has done it.

With love, Papa Green Bean

Here are links to Rachel Macy Stafford's books, with a special offer below:

With any pre-order of HANDS FREE LIFE comes a free e-book download of Stafford's New York Times bestseller, HANDS FREE MAMA. The offer is good until September 7th. Here is the link with all the details ==>

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lighthearted Fathering

Playfulness with Purpose 

The approach I took with my daughter, Anna, when she was a baby, toddler, infant, K12, college... has always been playful with purpose. I consider myself a happy person so it was natural for me to transfer this to everything I did with my daughter from the first zurburt on her baby belly 28 years ago, to the rhyming silliness I shout during a rousing game of Bannagrams today.

Anna and her pops

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Magic of "I Don't Know"

Using "I DON'T KNOW" As A Parenting Tool

Recently I read and responded to one of Teacher Tom's thoughtful blog posts on his Facebook page. It was entitled, I Don't Know.  Tom personally answered, and we ended up having a good exchange. A week later, Teacher Tom's blog post "More About I Don't Know"  kindly mentioned me and our discussion.

Shhhh... and don't forget them

Let's look at some reasons why 'I don't know' is so effective

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

All Are Significant

Elevating Community

Everyone in any given community is important. That might be a neighborhood community, a work community, a school community.  Recognizing custodians in the community has been in the news lately. This post celebrates the often overlooked role of custodians, including the fact that they have private lives with family. In fact, I have a custodian in my immediate family to honor. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finding Awe In Children

The Fear in Awe

When we become parents for the first time we experince awe in all its glory. The reverence of something greater than ourselves. The admiration of a living miracle. Also, the fear about everything connected to becoming a parent... fear that we won't know how to handle the baby, fear that we aren't

Papa Green Bean,
Papa Green Bean instilling the awe of fear into his dad!

ready for the responsibility that comes with taking a helpless human being into our home, fear that we have given up our freedom, fear that our lives have changed forever and not sure whether it is for the better, fear that the baby won't love us. There can be fear in awe.

 n., v. awed, aw•ing. 
an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, or wonder produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, etc.

The Community in Awe 

I recently read an inspiring New York Times article, Why Do We Experience Awe? It explained:

 "Awe is the ultimate “collective” emotion, for it motivates people to do things that enhance the greater good. Through many activities that give us goose bumps — collective rituals, celebration, music and dance, religious gatherings and worship — awe might help shift our  focus from our narrow self-interest to the interests of the group to which we belong. 

We found that awe helps bind us to others, motivating us to act in collaborative ways that enable strong groups and cohesive communities."  

This is an extremely powerful force when it does indeed do this!


The Humanity in Awe

When a professor picked up a student's fussing child in the middle of his lecture and continued teaching without missing a beat, the  picture went viral. He was declared a Feminist hero - Professor holds students child. His own explaination of the overwhelmingly

Awe of humanity
The awe of integrity - Go Grandpa Prof!

positive reaction was, “I think the photo went viral in a world with so much inhumanity — ISIS, corruption, Ferguson, and so on — and people are looking for symbols of decency, humanity, caring, integrity,” People were awe-struck by his sensitivity to a baby and mother, she being a part of his community, a student in his class at his University. It was also a show of positive fathering and grandfatherly love.


The Wisdom in Awe

Awe is a feeling that we cherish. Much of our life can become drudgery in day-to-day chores. The True Measure of Wisdom by Emerson can help change our perspective... 

“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.” 

An attitude to live in the present can bring greater contentment.  Simply obtaining a mindset that finds solace in fear of the unknown, of our parenting skills and of how our child will turn out is a step towards living the true richness of life as it is meant to be lived. 

Living in the awe of the moment, Papa Green Bean
Papa Green Bean
Papa Green Bean with his daughter, Anna, (I still have that shirt).

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Real Neat Blog Award

This Award is Recognition for Trying to Make a Difference 

Dad, Father, Fatherhood, Education,
Papa Green Bean nominated

I would like to thank The Peaceful Papa for his nomination of Papa Green Bean for the Real Neat Blog Award. The Peaceful Papa's Facebook page is full of positive tips on raising children. In fact, his wife just delivered a little baby girl less than a week ago. He is blogging in real neat daddy time!

The Real Neat Blog Award apparently began on December 3rd, 2014 created by Dear Kitty. Some blog, an anonymous blog with the subtitle, "On animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women's issues, arts, and much more". 

Instructions (if you care to)
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

Here are the questions asked of me and my answers:

1. What is the one thing you would like for your child/children to take from their childhood?
It's difficult to name 'one thing', but it comes down to freedom to choose. Anna was always given choices and the right to make her own decisions. She gained great independence and self-confidence by learning from her explorations, which included risk-taking and mistakes. Her imagination and curiousity was free and it has served her well. 
2. If there was a play list for your life what would be the number one song?
Chimes of Freedom by Bob Dylan 

3. Why did you start blogging?
I started Papa Green Bean because I had 25 years of accumulated notes and observations that were itching to be shared with first time parents. To be an early childhood education and development advocate comes from a deep founded love of children and their spirit.
4. If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?
For always looking at the bright side of life (with full credit to Monty Python)
5. What is your favorite movie?
Life is Beautiful  starring Roberto Benigni (1997). My daughter declared it her favorite after we watched it in Italian with English subtitles. Perfect combination of comedy, drama and romance.
6. Name one thing that makes you smile.
Our two cats playing together.
Nature, single parenting
Papa Green Bean and Anna

7. What has been your biggest challenge as a parent?
Well, my daughter is 28 years old. Her mother and I divorced when she was 2.3 (we are  
both happily remarried). My biggest challenge was staying positive inside (and in her eyes) during those tough years. 

I would like to ask the same questions to my nominees (feel free to alter at your discretion)

The bloggers I nominate (all are exceptionally insightful and sensitive) are: 


Live, love, laugh and learn, Papa Green Bean

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Free to LEARN

The Human Nature of Education

Note: This post is my take on the book, Free to LEARN by Peter Gray. He is a research professor in the Department of Psychology at Boston College,  a brilliant individual and loving father. 

The cover of the book has a subtitle which is a good summary:  

"Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life"

trustful, playful
Playfulness forever!
Peter Gray makes the case that playfulness serves educational purposes that enhance creativity. Gray states, "While curiosity motivates children to seek new knowledge and understanding, playfulness motivates them to practice new skills and use those skills creatively."

Gray spends much time showing the coerciveness of the K-12 school system, and how it stifles a child's innate drive to learn. The biggest take-away, from my perspective, was the tremendous advantages a child is given when raised by adults who understand the concept of 'trustful parenting.'

Gray - "The trustful parenting style allows the self-educative instincts to blossom. Trustful parents trust their children to play and explore on their own, to make decisions, to take risks, and to learn from their mistakes."

'Respectful parenting' would work, too. I, Papa Green Bean, have always been a huge advocate of valuing the young child as an equal.  Respect and trust work in tandem. I believe that the only way for a child to feel free is if they can trust their elders. And when children grow up in an environment of trust and respect, they become confident, happy human beings, and life-time learners.

 Children who are trusted and respected will be more able to find their own voice and think critically about their world around them. As Gray explains, "To think critically, people must feel motivated and free to voice their own ideas and raise their own questions... critical thinking is founded in creativity, and creativity always requires a degree of playfulness. The critical thinker plays with ideas - tries them out, turns them upside down to see what happens, explores their consequences". 

playful, trustful
Playful Papa Green Bean and Anna (1986)
 I believe that all parents truly desire that their children grow up to be 'successful' in the most humane sense. 

"... when children are free to follow their interests, they take diverse and unpredicted paths. They develop passionate interests, work diligently to become experts in the realm that fascinates them, and then find ways to use those skills, knowledge, and passions to make a living." 

However, many parenting styles create anxiety in their children which hinders much of the potential to be successful. Gray points out, "A fundamental psychological principle is that anxiety inhibits learning. Learning occurs best in a playful state of mind, and anxiety inhibits playfulness." 

 As Gray states in the prologue of his book, "Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning... they learn to walk, run, jump, and climb. They learn to understand and speak the language of the culture into which they are born, and with that they learn to assert their will, argue, amuse, annoy, befriend, and ask questions.... nature does not turn off this enormous desire and capacity to learn..."

As parents and educators all we have to do is to not turn our children off of their innate desire to learn, but simply foster it.

Peter Gray has written a classic.

Cheers, Papa Green Bean

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Poe, A Tree"

Children absolutely love sounds that flow, float, sizzle and slide off the tongue. It helps to make words attractive. Beauty is in poetry. (The four poems inside the pictures are Mr. Shel Silverstein creations, true inpiration for Papa Green Bean.)

An excellent way to creating your first poem with your child is to make it an acrostic poem. This is when the first letter of each line spells out a word. As this link Poetry for Kids states, the first word can be the child's name or a friends name, like papa.

Poetry does not have to rhyme
Prose can be beautiful lines.
All you need is paper, pencil, and time.

The lovely and talented Amy Heath writes a blog Unraveling Y . She is currently in her second year of writing one acrostic poem a day. Now here is a really cool aspect of her fun poetry challenge. She willingly accepts readers words for future poems. Amy adds her own title but always gives full credit to the word's originator. It would be a lovely exercise to explain to your child that their word will be made into an acrostic poem and published! Just click on the link above. I gave Amy the word,  foible, defined as -

Foible: a minor weakness or eccentricity in someone's character. 
"they have to tolerate each other's little foibles".

Here is Amy's terrific poem:


Flaws and quirks we may
Observe as endearing traits 
In loved ones; they might
Bend quite far 
Like a fencing foil, but we 
Embrace them as they are.

For children a little older, Haiku poems are a good challenge. The Haiku style of poetry, in America, is considered three lines with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second , and 5 in the third. I wrote a Haiku here and also made it in acrostic form, with the word toy.

Tantilizing play.
Over, under, everywhere.
Yearning, learning, joy.

"Babbling baby's beautiful banter bubbles n' brushes beyond" 

For more ideas, The Book Chook's Susan Stephenson has an outstanding list of poetry activities for children of all ages on her POETRY WITH KIDS page.

Happy imaginating and creating, Papa Green Bean

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Build Trust - Be Honest

Children Deserve Our Truth

Teacher Tom's Demanding Truth post is a powerful testament to building a relationship with your child based on honesty. Children want sincerity. They want a mom and dad who they can trust.

It doesn't mean they require you to be right about everything. It does mean they don't want you to pretend to know when you don't, or even more importantly for young children, to pretend to not know when you do. 

(NOTE: Papa Green Bean is a child development advocate, but the points here are also relevant for building and maintaining a bond with your partner and friends.)

I know, I know, I know, I know!!!!

The Power of "I Don't Know"

When your child knows you are honest and trusts you implicitly, life is much easier. You can be real with yourself and keep it simple and pure.

Ahhhh, breathe in deeply through your nose, hold... hold, and release through your mouth, the complexities of white lies and deceptions held within yourself and with your child. 

When I was a very young dad, I read about the intrinsic benefits of being completely 'straight-up' with your children. How this no-bars integrity would release any pent-up hesitations in parent-child communication. And if it was to be completely square, it would involve a lot of, "I don't know, but why don't we try to find out the answer" responses to your child.

When admitting a lack of knowledge on a subject, it makes you a real person. It is being humble. Let's face it, children don't know too much about anything, but luckily, they are born with an open mind full of curiosity. All children have a deep desire to explore the unknown, both literally and figuratively. They are born to make miscalculations as they learn through experimentation. As a parent, admitting you made an mistake can be a powerful testiment to your forthrightness serving as a realistic role model for your children to aspire to with confidence.

Saying 'I don't know" was one of my best lines as a dad!

Oh, Smoochie, I love you.

Raising Children Up

If a child grows up in an atmosphere of 'truth', the art of communicative conversation rises to higher and higher levels. By the way, this includes discipline. For example, you tell your child that you would like them to put away their books and wash their hands before dinner. Then if they sit down with clean hands but books still strewn over the floor, you politely remind them to pick up the books and return them to their book shelf. There is no reason to threaten them with 'no dinner' if they don't. It becomes simply a matter of living together in a respectful and lovingly mindful environment.


Following through on your word is, perhaps, the best method of instilling a spirit of healthy zest for life in your children.  Consistent sincerity becomes contagious and creates a foundation for trust. When your children believe in you, they will love you forever.

There is so much I know I don't know... but I'd like to.

Breathe in deeply and release, Papa Green Bean

Mom, are your toes cold? Yes, dear.