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!

We should all strive to be "Ping Parents"—allowing our children to soar into the world with gleefulness!

Being a Ping parent starts with an understanding of basic early childhood philosophical principles. For example, conversation should be a part of a baby's life from before birth. In utero, a fetus can hear words and music as it begins to develop. There are major advantages to the child who is in an environment of verbal and musical enrichment.

Five Simple, Powerful, and Fun Practices 

The excellent organization out of Seattle, Thrive By Five, lists the following five activities on our local library website. What I find especially appealing are the nuanced details that increase creative and fun ways to support early learning. This keeps the adult, as well as the children, interested and happy.

  • Playing: Encourage free play inside and out as much as possible. It's okay to play with your child, but if there are other children, it's good to become a silent observer (or napper) too.

  • Talking: Conversations at an adult level are tremendous learning blocks for children to pick up on grammer through context. When children join into the conversation, be sure to give them plenty of time to finish their thoughts, even when you might want to complete their sentence for them.

  • Singing: Songs are a natural and fun way for children to learn language. The music also helps to tune rhythmic development and physical coordination (dance!). I like to ad lib or make up my own lyrics sometimes to model creative play outside the expected.

  • Writing: A blank page with crayons or pencils for the young child to scribble on sets the stage for writing and artistic play in future years. I do not like pre-drawn outlines for the child to 'color-in.' Blank paper or a chalkboard is the way to go. Also, there is no need to lie, and say how great their doodles are. It's best to just give a mild nod or smile of acknowledgement in their efforts. Eliminate the "Good job" auto response too many adults use with no real thought. 

  • Reading: Reading in utero to your baby is valuable, along with singing and listening to music, naturally. Reading offers a wonderful opportunity to bond with the little people in your life while instilling the love for books and learning. I enjoy using funny voices for each character in the story. It adds a sense of mirth, which I'm all about!

Fun and Fancy

One key to being a true Ping Parent is to keep the sense of humor and creativity alive and well within the daily living. For example, my daughter and I turned everyday happenings into silly alliteration games. With a zest for the moment, we explored the woods and creeks of the Chattanooga river that runs through Atlanta. We would give names to our special locations of imagination, adventure, and solitude—all with a twinkle in our eyes.  There was "Carrot Monster Cave", "Tintin Cove", "Witches Wood", "Rusty City". We discovered the sweet spot—the ping of living—the equator of life.

Pings to you and yours,

Papa Green Bean