Earth Day everyday?

Earth day blog

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

But how do we make sure that they are getting out into nature and having the experiences that we had?

There has been a lot of recent conversation around Free Range Kids lately. Part of the Free Rangeness is giving kids the freedoms to explore and step more into nature.

It seems that with the growth of technology many kids are not experiencing the outdoor adventures that we did as kids because they are inside on the computer or watching tv.

So how do we get them off the couch and outside?

PARENT!

We are the ones to set the limits. We also set the examples. Want to get your kids to go out and climb trees? Explore with them when they are young and as they grow they will return to the outdoors you have taught them to love and appreciate.

For a few years I worried about how much one of my kids was getting outside. Sure, he played outdoor sports but after that seemed to come home and lie around.  I made sure that he was outside doing something each day. There were many days he was not happy with me as I turned down his requests to play video games. However, now that he is more independent and can drive he and his friends love to go out and explore state parks.

He still loves to climb and explore.

Our kids are products of our parenting and the world around us. If we show them how wonderful the outdoors can be we are giving them a gift that will last a lifetime.

Unwinding the Cord

DOGI have such clear memories of stretching the cord on the family telephone and trying to go as far as it would take me to get some privacy while talking to friends when I was growing up.

Is there an equivalent of this today?

How about the teen who goes in their room, closes the door and texts their friends.

Most of the conversations I’m sure are very similar to the ones I had as a teen.

However, that’s where the similarities end.

Here are some reasons why:

1. Sarcasm and other emotions are not recognized by the words in a text. Emoticons can’t convey everything.

2. With the depersonalization of texting it is much more likely that teens would share highly personal information (many times too personal) than if they had to speak on the phone.

3. Teens are not learning the art of conversation by texting. They choose to text instead of talk. However, the real world will catch up and those conversational skills will be needed for the rest of their lives.

The important point to remember is that successful relationships need to build intimacy, moving through texting and other less-direct forms of communication to more direct connections. Many of us use technology to distance ourselves from each other, so that the more connectivity we have, the less connected we actually are. It’s a double edge sword. Challenge your teen to pick up the phone and call a friend. Give Grandma a call and ask her how her bridge game was.

The sooner teens develop active communication skills with their peers, family and community the more likely they are to flourish in the social world around them. It’s not that they need to drop texting but build a balance to have their technology and use it wisely.

As parents we need to be there to guide them and to model those skills for them.

Though the phones are now cordless the message is still the same.

Communication is essential.

How You Play the Game

Basketball

Last night, my husband and I breathed a sigh of relief as the final buzzer of the last game of the season ended. In our opinion it had been a long season of watching our son’s team beaten by 20-30 points each game.

As we watched the boys gather together for their post game talk another picture emerged. A sister of one of the boys walked over holding a poster she had made with the team name and each of the boys’ names. They looked so proud.

It was obvious that my competitive ideals did not match up with that of the tight group of boys in the hall. They were all smiles. They felt proud of what they had accomplished and how they played the game. We walked out of the school listening to the boys tell each other “Good Game” with smiles on their faces.

Before bed I was talking with my son. He told me how his team was the best team he had ever played on. This caught me by surprise and I asked him to explain why. He told me that “there are no stars. Everyone is equal and treats each other that way.”  I had to stop and think of how proud I am of this 14 yr old who values relationships over winning the game.

Each year the basketball association asks for parent volunteers. Often, the parents who step up are doing this, not because they have knowledge or love for the game, but because they want to do what’s best for the kids. The coach that we had watched from the sideline and we wondered what he was doing may not have taught my son the technical side of the game but was sending a much bigger message. Sportsmanship, self-confidence and the value of friendship.

The lesson on and off the court (for both players and fans): It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.

Who’s Watching Minecraft?

Who's Watching

My kids are basically techie kids. They are all at different levels and each really love their technology.  Nine years ago my oldest asked my to help him purchase a beta game from the Netherlands called Minecraft.  I hadn’t heard of it but after some research it looked like something to invest $15 in. It reminded me of the very basic computer games that I played in school when we got our first computers. It was no Oregon Trail but I thought we’d give it a try.

From that day on Minecraft became the go to game. It was like the favorite pair of footie pajamas passed down from sibling to sibling. When one felt they were getting too old to play a younger sibling would take over.

The kids have gotten older and over the past months there’s a growing trend that I have noticed. The kids aren’t at the computer playing the game anymore. They are gathered around their devices watching Minecraft videos on YouTube.

As a parent there are major differences that I see in this transition between game play and watching game play. Kids tend to have their favorite YouTubers. Some of these people are intentionally creating family friendly content and others are teens/young adults just having fun and playing the game. I try to listen when my kids are watching the videos and live streams. There are times when I have heard language that I don’t approve of and have the kids switch to a different YouTuber.  I encourage parents to monitor their child’s YouTube usage.

Here’s a blog that describes some of the Minecraft YouTubers that are recommended for children.  http://learningworksforkids.com/2015/03/minecraft-videos-watch/

I love listening to the kids all laugh along with their YouTubers. They seem to have formed a community around Minecraft. They have their own language and cultural norms. They know when their favorite YouTuber’s birthday is and where they live.

It’s such a different generation of kids that are tuned into technology in a way I never expected.

I have a lot to learn.

The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up – by Rachel Macy Stafford

Such great perspective on slowing down and enjoying your children.

Kindness Blog

The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up - by Rachel Macy Stafford When you’re living a distracted life, every minute must be accounted for. You feel like you must be checking something off the list, staring at a screen, or rushing off to the next destination. And no matter how many ways you divide your time and attention, no matter how many duties you try and multi-task, there’s never enough time in a day to ever catch up.

That was my life for two frantic years. My thoughts and actions were controlled by electronic notifications, ring tones, and jam-packed agendas. And although every fiber of my inner drill sergeant wanted to be on time to every activity on my overcommitted schedule, I wasn’t.

You see, six years ago I was blessed with a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the roses type of child.

When I needed to be out the door, she was taking her sweet time picking out a purse and a glittery crown.

View original post 1,246 more words

Just Average

Just Average

When I was in high school I remember a lot of kids who were “A” honor roll students. I also remember many who got B’s. But a large majority of the kids were pretty average and got a lot of C’s.

These kids weren’t in danger of failing out.

They were the majority of the kids in the school.

They were your average high school student – “C” students.

Fast forward to now. When a student is getting C’s people start to worry about them.

“Surely they can do better.”

But maybe not.

When I was a senior in high school in 1991 I took Algebra 2. Now, there are 8th graders taking these classes. The 8th graders in 1991 were content working on their pre-algebra. Pre-algebra has now shifted to elementary schools. Those same 8th graders are now taking Pre-ACT tests. That was not even on my radar at that age.

So what has changed?

I’d like to think that kids now are much smarter than I was. However, I don’t think that’s the case.

Should a “C” student feel shamed when they are doing their best work. Students are like babies. Some are more advanced and do things earlier while others make their way along slower.

Will we go back to how it was? I doubt it. I just hope that as kids are encouraged to succeed at a younger and younger age that there are people out there who remember that not everyone can be that “A” student and even “C” students can end up doing fabulous things and being successful people.

As parents it our jobs to advocate for our kids when they can’t and teach them to advocate for themselves. Regardless of their achievement level they all need someone in their corner.

 

Rolling on down the road (or not)

minivan_02_1500

I never thought that I would be the parent of a teen driver. Not that I didn’t expect my kids to get older, but I really hadn’t thought that far in advance. It seems that yesterday they were in grade school.

After passing the drivers test many parents have a set of keys ready to give their new driver.

I had the keys.

I had a lanyard like the kids at the high school hang their keys on.

I gave them to him.

I feel like a new parent. Where’s the manual for parenting a teenage driver?

Fast forward almost one month and he slides on the ice and hits a tree.

Airbags deploy on the rusty minivan. The van is totaled but all I can think is how bad it could have been. This privilege that he was given could have killed him. He was ok; Not hurt at all.

So now it feels like there’s second chance to get it right.  Start slow with a bit of fear (on both of our parts).  More practice.

Remind him that he is 16 and he doesn’t know it all. Remind myself that even though I am an adult that I also have so much more to learn.

The manual has yet to be written.

 

 

The Power of the Meal

round-kitchen-table-west-elm1

Dinner. At my house it may not taste good but it’s important that you are there.

Dinner at my house growing up consisted of our family and Pat Sajak. We tried to solve the puzzles each day on the 6″ tv that was in our kitchen.

Were we connecting as a family?  My first thought is no, however, we were all interacting with the same program towards the same cause of solving the puzzle.

Fast forward 30 years and there isn’t a tv on during dinnertime in my kitchen.  We have always played word games with the kids at the table. Something as simple as “Things that start with the letter B”. Even my youngest child could participate.

While the words may be nonsensical, the laughter that ensues carries us through. The laughter and time spent at that round table connect us.

As the kids have gotten older the games at the table have changed. We may not eat together each night but we still make sure that we are all there three to four nights a week. Ipods and phones are not allowed at the table either. Their friends can wait 30 minutes.  Having teens makes me realize that I don’t have them there for very much longer and I want to make sure I take advantage of every opportunity I have to be with them.

They won’t remember what they ate but hopefully they will remember time spent at the small round table in our kitchen.

Why sometimes its best to go slow

10828052_10205381881170703_1859839902805044498_o

I was so excited to present my family with a gift… a kitten.  They were so excited to have the new little puffball enter our lives. Well, almost all of them.

But what about when one family member doesn’t agree with how the others in the family live. Yes, we already have a cat and a dog – I can see where this does seem like excess to you. You live very minimally and do not put much value into material items. You see the holiday season how many outside the U.S. see our holiday season. A season of excess.

As a fellow minimalist, I can see how having more than one of something seem like too much.

Is a kitten a material thing? I guess that’s the question. You have always been the kid with so much caring and love for your family.  I’ve been so proud that you are an individual and don’t feel the need to follow the crowd. You see things very differently than others your age and many times have an older, wiser perspective.

So, we will introduce you to the new little kitty slowly and I know that the caring and sensitive person you are will end up loving that little ball of fur more than you do your computer games.

 

Letting go or Holding on

Please welcome our guest blogger Linda Rodgers. Linda is the Coordinator of the Parent Involvement Program of the Anoka-Hennepin School District located in Anoka, MN.

Today I went to the Anoka-Ramsey bookstore and picked up books for a class I’m taking.  It’s fun to see other students across a wide variety of backgrounds and ages.    I had ordered the books online so just had to pick them up.  Many other students were going through the fall ritual of scanning dozens of little signs indicating the placement of books for each class.  That process is pretty much the same as it was years ago, so I got a kick out of it.  I did notice something different, and that was a number students were accompanied by parents.  One student was explaining to a clerk how his mother had ordered an extra book and he wasn’t sure why.  “Why is his mother ordering his books?”  I wondered.

I thought about how over the last five years my husband has seen an enormous difference in the preparation of college students he supervises for summer jobs.  Some of these students have parents who work in the company and they located the job for the student, interact with them during the day and run interference for them when the student is late or misses work.  These students are adept at texting but unable to perform basic work expectations, nor do they seem to understand that there are basic work expectations.  Ten and twenty years ago he did not see this behavior.  Students generally had to compete for the job, were glad for the job and understood they needed to apply themselves as best they could.

I thought of the excitement I had going off to college by myself and negotiating new territory and processes.  I thought of a number of jobs I held and important life lessons they taught me.  I confess that I was fired from one position and that taught me lessons I never could have learned otherwise.  My future employers all benefited, too.

Life is flooded with messages about what kids should be and have, and what parents should be and do.  But these messages often confuse instead of clarify.  Many of the messages are grounded in trying to sell something.  If you dig a little you will discover what is being sold– many are hype designed to grab people’s attention to sell a product, magazine or paper or hold attention to a screen.  We seem to be short on messages that are grounded in wisdom, experience or research, and unless we’re in crisis we don’t gravitate toward those kinds of messages.  They’re not as compelling as those that promise silver bullets or an easy way, or promote a life that resembles a celebrity life.

Here is an example of a message for parents of college students that was crafted with all this in mind, a message that seeks to promote growth of college students and enlists parents’ help in a straightforward way.  Emily Lammers, 2013 U of M graduate, writes, “Before you become involved with your student’s issue, however, remember that growth and maturity comes from dealing with decisions, and a big part of college is making choices—even wrong ones—as well as from taking responsibility for both the good and the bad consequences of their decisions.”

http://www1.umn.edu/parent/news-events/articles/fall-2012/parental-involvement-vs-parental-interference/index.html