Tuesday, August 20, 2013

fostering learning independence

While I still haven't made any decisions on introducing a second language to Braeden, we have started working on the phonetical sounds of letters.  Braeden knows all of his letters thanks to Dr. Seuss, and I have grown really bored with hearing what letter is what all day long.  Does it make me a bad parent, to say I got bored with my child? I'm digressing.  Anyway, I was bored so I started telling him the sounds of the letters.   He'd bring me a fridge magnet letter, tell me which one it was and if it was big or little.  I would then tell him the sound, which he would repeat.  Then he'd run off to get a new letter.  This left a pile of letters in my lap, and a pile of knowledge in his brain!
He also is very into coloring, and telling me what letter he has scribbled.  Some times they look just like a letter, and sometimes it takes a little imagination to see what he's seeing.  I started thinking about getting him some sort of letter tracing 'thing' so he could self-learn letter writing.  I'm very into kids doing things themselves.  Feeding, dressing, bathroom. You name it, I'm all for them doing it themselves. 
On an unrelated shopping trip I was waiting for a friend in the Target entrance, and wandered over to $1 bins.  I totally scored! I got several different letter tracing items, and phonics cards! He hasn't retained any of the sounds yet, or done more than scribble over the tracing letters but it will come.  I pull those out occasionally when he's having trouble self-occupying while I cook or clean. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Culture Shock

Last week we packed up our Honda Insight and headed to visit my husband's family out on Cape Cod.  Whenever we leave our little corner of Western Massachusetts I feel like I experience parenting culture shock.  We go out among strangers, and see every type of parenting that has been given a monicker; helicopters, tigers, traditionalists, etc. 
The difference in parenting styles seems to smack me in the face, whereas at home we are very lucky to live in an area where, like us, many parents practice some version of gentle parenting.   I feel like in our area 'normal' encompasses one or more of the attachment parenting ideals; bed-sharing or co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, gentle discipline etc. In other parts of our state and the country I've witnessed the parental norm reflecting the parenting styles of the mid-20th century rather than what I feel is the current attachment parenting trend. 
This trend isn't something new, instead it is something old.  Instead of mirroring the last couple generations of parenting styles people are looking further back for guidance.  Back before there were TVs and computers to amuse even the youngest of babies, and extended families would work together to bring up the newest additions.  I think the most important aspect of attachment parenting is to guide children with your actions, not your words.  However, words can be extremely powerful as well. 
Two separate incidents from our recent vacation have been on my mind.  We headed out to the beach on our second day and as we were nearing the steps up to the beach from the parking lot we were pushing our stroller down (yep, even some times AP parents use strollers) we overheard a mother saying over and over again that she was so surprised that her daughter was 'good'.  This sweet little girl looked to be about a year old, and was cute as could be toddling around the beach in her swimsuit.  Her mama was so engrossed in her conversation that I don't believe she noticed her daughter was hanging on her every word.  While she was exploring the sand around her, she would pause and listen whenever her mama spoke.  I wonder at what age will she question why her mother was surprised that she was inherently good.  What happens when she starts to push boundaries, and question authority as all children do?  Will she stop being considered good, or is her goodness contingent on her continuing to go with her parents flow, and not exert her own will? 
The second experience was on our last day.   It was far from sunny, occasionally spitting rain, but warm so we headed to the park with the boys.  I watched as one mama arrived with her little girl who was about 18 months, scolded her for hanging back and then pushed her forward with the demand to 'go play'.  As a parent of a 2 year old who still takes quite a bit of time in new situations to adjust, I was sad that the little girl didn't have the support she needed to get comfortable on her own terms.  I find that Braeden warms up to new situations quicker if he isn't forced into joining them, and is allowed to hang back with the support of either myself or his daddy until he has fully observed everything and everyone.  Then watch out, because he turns into a ball of energy with a need to socialize. 
The mama of that little girl sat down with some friends at the table nearest our stroller, where Kelan was napping.  I spent my time going between checking on him in the stroller and talking with Peter as he watched Braeden run, jump, and climb everything he could.  At one point a boy, close to Braeden's age accidentally bumped his head.  Braeden called for me and started crying.  I could tell from his cry he was more startled and scared, then hurt.  I was hugging him, and we were talking about what happened when the boy's daddy, from the near by table, carried him over and demanded that he apologize NOW.  That poor little soul was mortified.  His face was bright red, I could tell he was embarrassed at the way he was being held, that he was being presented to strangers and commanded to speak, not to mention he had accidentally bumped someone and made them cry.  That last one is enough to embarrass most people.   Tears started to well up in his eyes too, and Braeden was now calm but uncomfortable with the strange man's tone towards his own child.  I told the little boy that we understood it was an accident, and that we weren't upset or mad at him.  I also said we could tell he felt badly for scaring Braeden, so he didn't need to use his words to apologize. 
Shortly thereafter both boys were back to playing and I was nursing Kelan.  The boy's mama seemed to be trying to interact with me by commenting on how hungry Kelan was.  When she started explaining to her younger boy about the baby I brought him over to show.  The mama said 'we love babies, but then they grow up into this, nodding down at her toddler, and then they're trouble'.  I couldn't stand that negativity directed at what seemed to be a sweet little guy.  I responded with 'I just love toddlers, they're so fun!' and walked over towards my boys.  I spent the rest of the time avoiding eye contact with them. 
Words are powerful tools, and our children's minds are like sponges.  I'm finding out just how trying these little people can be, and we're only in the beginning of it all.  However, I feel that as frustrating as these days can be, its really important to not put labels on children.  They are good, no matter if they follow your rules implicitly or question every thing.  Children are not troublesome.  They are adventurous.  They are curious.  They are full of awe and wonder at this world, and if we can just spend five minutes each day looking at things through their eyes our busy adult world would mesh so much better with their world of wonderment. 

What is the prevalent parenting style near you?  In what ways do you wish the parents in your community would alter their child-rearing ways?

*DISCLAIMER*  This post in no way means I think I am the perfect parent.  I am constantly wishing I could take back how I did something, and educating myself in different ways to be a more peaceful, gentle, child-friendly parent and adult. 

Monday, July 22, 2013


I had lots of interests when I was younger.  History, drama, movies, books, animals, and languages.  We lived far into the country, nearly 30 minutes from our town.  This meant I spent most of my time away from my peers.

I didn't really mind, because I enjoyed doing my own thing.  I'd ride my horse, read whatever books I found interesting or my parents recommended, and do a little self-taught language learning.  I really enjoying sharing these passions with my son(s).  Braeden is now 2, and seems to be a bookworm.  He will spend hours 'reading' to himself or asking us to read his entire library.  He knows all his letters by sight, and likes to show them to little brother, Kelan, and tell him how to pronounce them.

Last year's Halloween Costume.  A book worm, reading a book.

When he was just a couple months old I started to slowly introduce sign language to him.  It took quite awhile for him to catch on, but once it 'clicked' with him he loved signing.  He was considered a late talker, but had many signs to get his point across.  Once he took the step into verbalizing his words we started slacking in the signing department.  Since his brother's birth he has started signing again.  Most likely due to the fact that we haven't been able to always give him our undivided attention.  He seems to be accentuating the important words with signs.  Also, in the 'too cute' department he has been trying to teach 6 week old Kelan how to sign.
We used the book 'The Joy of Signing' by Lottie Riekehof.  It isn't a typical baby signing book, but more of a dictionary of common signs.  The first chapter explains different aspects of signs, and how to string sentences together.  I'm going to be using this book again to expand on his signs.

In addition to the signing, I'd like to introduce a foreign language to him.  Studies have shown that the best time to introduce another language is before age 5.  I've studied French, Spanish, German, and Japanese.  The majority of my studies were in Japanese.  I took both courses offered at my high school, did some independent study of it the summer after I graduated, and was accepted to the UW's Japanese program.  Unfortunately my anxiety and self doubt got the best of me and I opted out of it.
I also studied German in high school, and have done a little independent study of it.  It might be easy to pick up German because of the similarity of the alphabet, many of the letter pronunciations, and sentence structure.
I'm debating between introducing him to a language that I already have a background in, like Japanese or German and Spanish. While I don't have much background in speaking Spanish, it seems to be a good option, due to the number of people in our country that speak it as a first language but for the most part I'd have to learn along side him.
For now we'll continue ASL while I weigh the pros and cons of each language.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Long time gone

It's been ages since I've written anything for either of my blogs.  Life and internet access issues got in the way.  I'd really like to be better, so I formulated a plan.  I'm going to head to the local coffee shop to use their internet and get some much needed alone time.  I'll have my posts written ahead of time, and will upload photos and schedule publish dates while drinking coffee.  Lets see if I can find the time to stick with my plan.