Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Data, Not Destiny



It's Just Data, Not Destiny


Here is my summary of Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen—Chapter 2: How Poverty Affects Behavior and Academic Performance.




Introduction

  • There is no shortage of theories explaining behavior differences among children. The prevailing theory among psychologists and child development specialists is that behavior stems from a combination of genes and environment. 
  • Genes begin the process: behavioral geneticists commonly claim that DNA accounts for 30–50 percent of our behaviors, an estimate that leaves 50–70 percent explained by environment.
  • This tidy division of influencing factors may be somewhat misleading, however. First, the effects of the nine months a child spends in utero are far from negligible. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Natural World Of Winnie-the-Pooh


Nowhere, Just Out Playing


A serendipitous meeting of two thoughtful literary texts occured this week for me. Such was the case when I attended a book reading at Village Books, our wonderful local independent bookstore. Then, days after, I listened to an eloquent poetry reading by my lovely friend, Linda Conroy. They both touched my inner child.



The author at Village Books was Kathryn Aalto and I listened with some interest as she spoke about her New York Times bestseller hardcover, The Natural World Of Winnie-the Pooh. Aalto has master’s degrees in garden history and creative nonfiction with a particular interest in literary landscapes. Much of the book is devoted to the flora and fauna of Ashdown forest and the Hundred Acre Wood—the pristine natural setting of the most popular children’s book in history. I was about to escape out the back of the presentation when Ms. Aalto said, “In closing, I’d like to read a bit from my introduction.” What she recited spellbound me…

Since Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner were published in 1926 and 1928, they have taken on greater meaning. We value the books for simple expressions of empathy, friendship, and kindness. The stories are classics as they express enduring values and open our hearts and minds to help us live well. But as I read about Milne and walked around England with my children, I saw how they tell another story: the degree to which the nature of childhood has changed in the ninety years since Milne wrote the stories. There is less freedom to let children roam and explore their natural and urban environments. There are more digital distractions for our children that keep them indoors and immobile, and heightened parental fears that do so as well.
At a time when there is so much talk about nature-deficit disorder, rising childhood obesity levels, reduced school recess, and overprotected childhoods, these stories and illustrations remind us of the joy in letting our children explore the natural world and the importance of imaginative play away from the eyes of parents. The real and imagined places of the Hundred Acre Woods are tender touchstones for the precious time of childhood. Milne’s books remind us that aimless wandering and doing Nothing is actually a very big Something for little ones.”

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Free Range Learning (entire review)



Free Range Learning

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

Introduction

Laura Grace Weldon’s Free Range Learning combines insightful wisdom, tender compassion, and vibrant understanding in helping the reader see the potential in meaningful, real-life learning—growing up in a respectful, engaged, and joyful family. Her handbook transforms boundaries—or does away with them altogether. She is a kindred spirit.

I would like to share my favorite bits of Free Range Learning—with mostly direct quotes. Apologies for the many salient points that I leave out within the 275 pages of this inspirational ‘go-to’ reference book.



The Wisdom of Laura Grace Weldon 

(tasty morsels of her unique thinking)

Education as Life, for Life

ü  The child’s wondrous progress from helpless newborn to a remarkably sophisticated five-year old happens without explicit teaching. In fact, most of a child’s learning is so continual that it goes unnoticed.
Ø  Toddlers experiment like enthralled scientists. They rapidly develop a grasp of everyday physics.
Ø  They master nuances of social interaction long before they can speak in sentences.
Ø  Their comprehension expands much more quickly than their growing vocabulary. Often, children seem to ignore what they aren’t ready to learn, only to return to the same skill or concept later with ease.
Ø  What they do is intrinsically tied to why they do it, making the learning process purposeful. They are confidently in charge of their own instruction.
Ø  They require little fanfare for their achievements, as mastery gives them more than enough satisfaction.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Free Range Learning (3 of 3)



Free Range Learning

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

Introduction

No one, after reading Free Range Learning with an open mind, can justifiably argue in defense of formal K–12 schooling. However, it would be a disservice to Laura Grace Weldon’s considerable grasp of the human spirit to simply recommend her book for parents of home schoolers. Everyone should put this handbook in their bookcase after marking it up half as much as I have!

Due to the extensive material I wanted to include, this post has been divided into three separate posts. This is part three of three. One final post including all three parts will follow tomorrow. Part one of three was posted two days ago, with part two of three posted yesterday.

A future inventor in action

Ethics, Spirituality and A Greater Good

ü  When adults insist on compliance in their children—true understanding is usurped—encouraging moral immaturity.

ü  Many adults continue to assert that children do best raised with more punitive, heavy-handed methods. That is shortsighted. The real underpinning of civilization is cooperation.

ü  We can be mindful of where we put our parenting energy.
Ø  It’s easy to notice children squabbling for five minutes and ignore two hours of peace.
Ø  What we consistently notice is amplified.  What we recognize persists.
Ø  If we habitually notice the worst in a person, even though we are trying to bring about improvement, we unwittingly reinforce these negative behaviors.
Ø  For a child whose self-image is forming, this principle is even more important.
Ø  Noticing when a child has done something right helps to strengthen not only that behavior, but also the motivation behind that behavior.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Free Range Learning (2 of 3)


Free Range Learning

How Homeschooling Changes Everything


Introduction

Although Free Range Learning was written as a handbook for parents contemplating or already taking the home schooling initiative, any parent, teacher, or professional in the field of education would do well to read this gem. It could change your entire way of living, let alone thinking, as this book asks first and foremost for a more benevolent and serene world. I’m in.

Due to the extensive material I wanted to include, I will split this post into three separate posts. This
is part two of three. Part three will follow tomorrow, with a fourth post containing all three parts in one. Part one of three was posted yesterday.

Slow down, and smell the curiosity...

Trust, Empathy and Cooperation

ü  Demonstrating our trust in our children sends them a potent message.

ü  This is a continuum that begins at birth. When a parent is consistently responsive to a baby’s cries, the infant forms a sense of security.

ü  Infants have a biological need to be held, carried and cared for tenderly.
Ø  Deprivation of physical comfort in the formative years is a root cause of violence.
Ø  Infants and toddlers often spend many hours a day in car seats, carriers and other restraint devices.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Free Range Learning (1 of 3)



Free Range Learning 

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

Introduction

Thanks, Laura!
Laura Grace Weldon’s Free Range Learning combines insightful wisdom, tender compassion, and vibrant understanding in helping the reader see the potential in meaningful, real-life learning. What it means to grow up and parent in a respectful, engaged, and joyful family. Her handbook transforms boundaries—or does away with them altogether. She is a kindred spirit.

I would like to share my favorite bits of Free Range Learning—with mostly direct quotes. Apologies for the many salient points that I leave out within the 275 pages of this inspirational ‘go-to’ reference
book.

Due to the extensive material I wanted to include, I will split this post into three separate posts. This is part one of three. Parts two and three will follow on consecutive days, with a fourth post containing all three parts in one. 


The Wisdom of Laura Grace Weldon (tasty morsels of her unique thinking)

Education as Life, for Life

ü  The child’s wondrous progress from helpless newborn to a remarkably sophisticated five-year old happens without explicit teaching. In fact, most of a child’s learning is so continual that it goes unnoticed.
Ø  Toddlers experiment like enthralled scientists. They rapidly develop a grasp of everyday physics.
Ø  They master nuances of social interaction long before they can speak in sentences.
Ø  Their comprehension expands much more quickly than their growing vocabulary. Often, children seem to ignore what they aren’t ready to learn, only to return to the same skill or concept later with ease.
Ø  What they do is intrinsically tied to why they do it, making the learning process purposeful. They are confidently in charge of their own instruction.
Ø  They require little fanfare for their achievements, as mastery gives them more than enough satisfaction.

ü  Experiential learning, along with the guidance of parents and other elders, is precisely the education known throughout the majority of human history. Schooling is the experiment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Introducing 'Ping Parenting'


The Equator of Life


"The middle region of our being is the temperate zone. 

We may climb into the thin and cold realm of pure geometry and lifeless science, 
or sink into that of sensation. 

Between these extremes is the equator of life, of thought, of spirit, of poetry, 
— a narrow belt."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ping Parenting

An ideal situation for a newborn growing up over the first five years of life—before formalized schooling—would be to have adults who were not 'Helicopter' parents, who were not authoritarian parents, who were not neglectful parents. There is a sweet spot in-between for the ideal parent, and therefore, the ideal environment for children.



The sweet spot on a baseball bat is about a third of the way down from the end or tip of the bat. This is where the ball upon contact will 'ping' off the bat and soar back in jubilation!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thoughts From A Four Month Old



A Day In the Life of a Baby

Night Time: Family Sleep


Throughout the night my mommy and daddy toss and turn sending ripples over the bed. I rise and fall to their movements—kind of like inside mama those nine months—a roller coaster of good times! I’m only four months old, so I can’t sit-up or even rollover just yet, but I do try. I tell you, it is so nice to be able to feel my parents' loving warmth as I go in and out of dreamland throughout the night. My mama is always there to feed me her milk when I feel like a snack.

How does that thumb taste?

Morning Time

When my parents get up out of bed for the day, I like to just lie there, like a lazy lout, watching their movements and listening to their conversation. I can’t understand a word but it’s fascinating to watch their lips, facial expressions and hand movements. With the help of body movments and the tone of their voices, I feel like I understand somehow. When papa leans over to nestle his face into my belly, I can’t help but squeal in delight. But sometimes I get a bit zealous and grab his hair
I'm on my elbows! 
which causes him to say, “Hey, Anna, don’t pull daddy’s hair, please. He hasn’t got much left as it is.” I smile and begrudgingly let go, with prodding from dad’s finger. We play a lot of grab and let go games since I can’t do much else—except kick!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Neurons That Fire Together—Wire Together

Developing Young Minds: From Conception To Kindergarten

Preface

Dr. Rebecca Shore’s landmark book, Developing Young Minds: From Conception to Kindergarten, introduces an essential paradigm shift in perspective that is needed on educating children. 

Introduction: The Scientist In The Crib  

Everything we do with and say to babies alters their brain biologically and neurologically—ultimately changing their lives. Cognitive stimulation is occurring naturally around babies because, literally, everything is new to them. In educational terms, the baby is born a student ready to learn. Their very existence is focused around learning to adapt to their new world. This is an enormous responsibility, not just for parents but also for society as a whole.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Baby Brains Love Bach—Later Mozart

Music Matters: The Bach Effect*


Music helps electrical activity in newborn children’s brains to resonate—laying the neural pathways that create a better foundation for learning a variety of cerebral skills. The relationship between music and brain development is significant at many levels. Dr. Rebecca Shore's Developing Young Minds: From Conception to Kindergarten devotes almost one third of her book to this theme. 

Bonding at its best!

Dancing to music with your baby before they begin to crawl is a natural inclination for parents, and they couldn’t be more right. By being exposed to a variety of pitch, tempo and rhythm, the baby will absorb variations in cadence—layers of complexity in pattern recognition—through the 
adult’s body movements in conjunction to what they hear. As the baby sways, swings, rocks, and turns to music, spatial-temporal perception development is enhanced—as is joy and laughter. 

Parenting
Hey, Mr. Bach—could you play this in D major?

The Universal Language: Music

Music is often referred to as the universal language. In fact, most likely, musical expression preceded speech. Regardless of what language we speak or culture we were raised in, music can make us feel elated, depressed, calm, and can reduce us to tears.