Thursday, December 26, 2013

"The Bully Too Close to Home"

Beautiful snow floating softly outside, a second cup of coffee on Boxing Day, came across this blog post from Hands Free MAMA: The Bully Too Close to Home. It is beautifully written, please take the time to take a look~ Who among us wouldn't want to be able to say this about our child(ren)? "I was captivated by the utter joy on her[/his] face."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

We Use Our Hands for Helping not Hurting

I-Care-Cat, the kindergarteners and first graders recently learned our second I-Care-Cat rule and talked about how to use our hand for helping and not hurting.  We read the book Andy and the Lions.  In the story Andy uses his hands to help the lion remove a thorn, to stop a crowd from hurting the lion, and to take his book back to the library.

Another good book on this topic is Hands Are Not for Hitting

I-Care Cat  hopes the students found a good place to hang their helping hands and caring hearts!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Good Friends Listen to Each Other

We just finished our first round of I-Care-Cat lessons with our Kindergarteners and First Graders.  We talked about listening to each other with our "ears" (big, big ears), "eyes"(looking at the speaker), "month" (not interrupting), and whole bodies (neat feet and quiet hands when on the rug in the library).  We read the book "The Listening Walk" by Paul Showers, closed our eyes and listened to all the interesting sounds around us.  The most memorable comment....

Me: "So....what part of our bodies do we use to listen to each other?"
Student: [with much enthusiasm] "With our hearts!"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sharing Resources from One of Our Own - Food Allergies

This is a blog recommended by one of our parents with information about food allergies.  Feel free to  check it out~
Blog @

Disclaimer: I have not read every thing on it, nor am I promoting it necessarily...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

But Mom! I Had Such Great Memories from This Park!

After a delicious mother-daughter breakfast, we strolled through the Beaver Brook Park en route to our parked car.  A little boy was demonstrating his prowess jumping from boulder to boulder.  With every conquest, he turned and called to his parent, perhaps in search of praise or recognition.  After several failed attempts, he ran back to his grown up and attempted to explain the greatest of his feat.  We both paused to watch the boy gesture enthusiastically, whispering about how adorable he was.  Then it occurred to us that the grown up was not taking note of the child, but continued attending to the smart phone at hand.  My teenage daughter tugged at me and whispered "Mom, this is so sad!  I have such great memories from this park!  His [parent] is missing it ALL!"

Yes, I was a parent before the days of smart phones and cell phones (gasp!).  We played with the children at the park, in the house, in the car.  We pushed the swings from the back and sang about swinging to the moon.  We pushed the swings from the front and talked about bagels, puppies, and Dragon Tales.

As our children grow, we will not be able to control them.  We will want to be able to influence them.  That influence will only come if we know them and they feel known by us.  Let's put the cell phone on vibrate and put it in the back pocket.  Let's give them our full attention.  No text, no post, no email is quite as precious as those moments at the park.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Growing Future Generations

Last night, I had the privilege of participating in a forum for pre-teen and teen parents.  It was a wonderful group of thoughtful folks talking about how to raise decent human beings.  This is important work because, as I often joke about, these are the folks who will provide my geriatric care, run my town, and govern my country in the days to come.  Coincidentally, sent out this "quiz' yesterday.  Admittedly, some of it made me cringe and some made me chuckle.  It is worth a look and a little discussion.

Quiz: Make Sure You're Not Raising a Brat -

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kindness - Round 1

The other day, I heard a student telling another student to "go away" when she tried to join in on a conversation.  I was shocked!  I probably shouldn't be, because kids actually say things like that all the time.  Yet I hope I will always be shocked in reactions to actions such as these.

"Don't be nice, be kind!" - one of my favorite sayings.  

There is nothing wrong with being polite and "nice"; but being kind is from the heart, a place of empathy and goodness.  When we are older, I hope the men and women in charge of our lives, our towns, and our country are kind people.

Towards that goal, Ms. Steim, Mr. Connors, and I began our Guidance lessons with the 4th and 5th graders this past week.  We watched Shel Silverstein narrate The Giving Tree and responded to a few reflection questions via Google Form.  This is the resulting Woodle from the prompt:  "Please share three words that describe the tree in The Giving Tree."

Wordle: The Giving Tree

Please join us on our quest of kindness~

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Setting Up for Success

Opening school is an exciting endeavor; with it the hopes and dreams of a new year and an opportunity to improve upon the year prior. For our family, this is a year of big transitions: one off to college and one onto high school. Thus my heart was especially full on Thursday as I drew chalk lines on which our new Kindergartners would line up. Reflecting on the past 13 years of being a parent in a public school...

That "stated mandated Kindergarten Screening" - well, I missed it with my first born, even though I was already in training to become a school counselor. We were off in Acton at a children's museum. I still feel a little guilty about it, but she ended up with a wonderful teacher.

On the topic of teachers, I learned to never listen to others' opinions about teachers through the grapevine. Instead I was to trust that my children will learn to learn from all kinds of teachers. When they enter the world of work, they will need to work for all kinds of supervisors. Therefore, I was to help them figure out how to be successful with all types of matches.

Every time I got a call from the school, I was sure one of them was en route to children's hospital! None of those calls compared to the one I had to make because a girl was physically hurting one of my daughters - the kind of hurt that leaves a mark on her skin. I learned to never call angry, to never send an email angry, to never show up at school emotional. I have drafted plenty of emotional emails, but am always glad twenty-four hours later that I did not send them. I would have been embarrassed. Besides, it was important to remember that the someone on the receiving end of my emails and phone calls is also a person.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,”
(Plato, or Philo of Alexandra, or the 1898 Christmas edition of The British Weekly"

Here's off to a year of kindness and growth to all~

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Every Kid Needs a Champion - Rita Pierson

Perfect video to help teachers keep on keeping on during this homestretch!
Some of my favorite parts:

  • 1:00 the value and importance of human connections
  • 2:20 evoking Stephen Covey
  • 2:55 on apologizing to kids and their response
  • 3:30 we are chosen to be together for the year
  • 3:38 "I was some body when I came, I will be a better somebody when I leave (this class)"
  • 4:30 on grading: a +2 instead of a -18

and the rest - about the legacy of relationships . . . "we are born to make a difference."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Resources for Traumatic Events

In light of recent events in our city and our town, here are a couple of helpful resources:

Saturday, April 13, 2013


People ask what I do all day.  Well, apart from thinking together with parents, teachers, and children, I spend time playing with kids.  We play cards during lunch groups, we play singing games during guidance lessons, we dig in the mini tupperware sandbox while contemplating the complexities of friendships.  Much of the work we do together is done through playing together.  Sometimes it's role-playing to gain understanding of social dynamics or practice how to assert oneself.  Sometimes it's learning cooperation over competition in a group game.  Something about talking at kids - it's not being very effective.

As we approach April vacation, I hope we all take the time to play together - a lot; play-dates at the park, Apples-to-Apples after dinner as a family, a l-o-n-g game of monopoly through the week.  

From Taking Play Seriously by Robin Marantz Henig (Published February 17th, 2008):

"Scientists who study play, in animals and humans alike, are developing a consensus view that play is something more than a way for restless kids to work off steam; more than a way for chubby kids to burn off calories; more than a frivolous luxury. Play, in their view, is a central part of neurological growth and development — one important way that children build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and cognitively flexible brains."

So - what are we waiting for?  Let's go play!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

In a few short months, our oldest will be at college. The memories of those ordinary days sustain me now as I prepare for the imminent separation. So if your child asks you to play this morning, please ignore the phone and the to-do list, get on the ground and enter his/her world for a while. Those are the moments I cherish as I wait for the thud upstairs to signal that the teenagers are up~

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Design Thinking

I love the LED lamp design challenge at Nueva School in Hillsborough, California described in What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School? | MindShift. I have wondered about asking students to observe and identify social problems in school and help craft solutions for them. We need better problem identifiers and solvers to run this world when we are old!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coding is Learning How to Think

We don't teach programming at our elementary school yet. I hope we do someday. Being able to break down thought processes and manipulate the pieces is crucial for problem solving, project managing, etc. I remember my daughter learning a little HTML because she wanted to design something on NeoPets; that hobby developed her thinking and enhanced her confidence. Wouldn't it be great if we could expose our children to a little computational thinking? Any good April vacation or summer camps out there?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Love, Love, Love's recommendations for books about love. Books About Love – Childrens Books - Velveteen Rabbit is a favorite for our family. So is this one even though it did not make the list. This book does a good job of honoring the boy for who he is and showing the narrator's unconditional love. If we wish to be able to influence our children, to guide them through life, unconditional love is the link that will enable us to do just that.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Tulips on the Fence

It's a rare occasion - being home in the middle of the day, having a reflective moment.  The flu may have its perks after all!  Looking at the "new" fence, which has been about 4/15 finished for 3 years brought on a chuckle.  For a number of very good reasons, projects don't always get completed quickly at our home.  For 98% of the time, we don't fight about it because we both know that we both do things that drive the other one batty.  (But I get to pick which ones gets blog about.)  Being able to laugh at these things have proved better for the family, once we get over being concerned about what other people think.  After all, other people do not get to enjoy the haven that is our home, to which each of us gladly return at the conclusion of our day in the outside world.

It did get me thinking though about advise for our daughters.  Perhaps they should do projects with their significant others before making any permanent decisions, you know,  just to see if they work well  together. Projects seem to be what people do so much of nowadays.  We could administer the Myers-Briggs or the Compass Protocol to assess the match in their personalities or work approaches.  Or they could each marry her best friend and figure it out from there.  After all, if we knew too much about each other, or if we knew too much of what was to come, perhaps very few would take the leap.

As we approach Valentine's Day, let's celebrate the leaps of faith (or hope) many have taken.  Let's also remember that a marriage is about two people finding their way through projects, sometimes parenting, and almost always painful times.  As a wise woman (a lovely Mrs. Tapia) once told me, when the children are launched, only the two of us will remain.  Let's always be building our marriages with that in mind.

Finding a Therapist

Parents and guardians sometimes asks about finding "good" clinicians for their children.  In the February 4th, 2013 Boston Globe Article "Finding the best therapist can be confusing", Patricia Wen explains the reality of looking for the right counselor.  In summary - it is advisable to always start with the primary care physician, to rule out any medical issues which may be related to the concerns.  Determining what the family's insurance will pay for is also important.  Sometimes, it takes calling a few names down the list before a family will find someone who has an opening for a new client.  But perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle is whether the child and his/her family connect with the clinician.  I often explain to families that just because one counselor is very effective with a particular child, it does not guarantee that (s)he is a good match for theirs.

The companion section - "Caregivers: Who they are and what they do" is super informative.  Please take the time to read both!  Thank you Ms. Wen!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Apps

Courtesy of Beth Lloyd, our Occupational Therapist at the Hosmer School:

Hands on equations (the fun way to learn algebra)

Learn Spanish For kids

Touch World (Geography)

Solar system for kids

Working on opposites? Try this for the younger kiddos:  You And Me: We're  Opposites

And this for the older crowd: The Opposites

Do your students still need more math facts practice?  These two apps are free today:

Math Plus Minus  (Customizeable!  Make sure you go to settings to choose your language and how large the numbers are) 

Taps Times Tables (you can choose your language)

She also gave the excellent advise - that we can download the app, try it out, delete it from our devices, and they will still be available in our account.  They are usually only free for a day.