April 13, 2015

7 Fun Ways to Turn Nature Exploration into Summer Education

Summer means mud! 
The beauty of summer—the part I get excited about—are the endless possibilities for exploring, socializing, and (dare I say?) relaxation. When I'm not working, we have the freedom to spend time as a family, taking on new experiences and enjoying old favorites. Just like the structured activities I described in my last post, free time offers ample opportunity for summer learning.
My boys especially love exploring nature—our backyard, parks, trails through the woods. I am grateful for this because, as nature expert Richard Louv explains, “A growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature—in positive ways.” And according to studies out of the University of Michigan, outdoor play has been shown to build better brain function and improve academic performance. 

For the most part we let the boys' curiosity guide us, but we’ve also found some easy, no-fuss ways to turn our exploration of nature into opportunities for learning. 

April 12, 2015

5 Ways to Create Summer Structure

5 Ways To Create Summer Structure for Your Family
Kids need time to relax and just "be," in the summer

My oldest wanders into our home office, his latest piece of art in hand. “This is great, bud! I love the detail on the alligator.” He lingers, rambling on about alligators versus crocodiles and his plan to visit the Everglades someday.

“Hey, love, Mommy’s working right now. You need to find something to do.” Where is my husband? This is my workday. … Isn’t he entertaining this kid? I hear the lawnmower rumble past the house. Oh.

“Why don’t you sit on the floor here and draw?” It seems like a good idea, but Oh.my.gosh how noisy can drawing be?! When I’m trying to concentrate: VERY. 

March 31, 2015

The Delicate Balance of Preparing & Protecting {Parenting Biracial Kids}

"When they built the Eiffel Tower, did they build a white one and a brown one?"

I am squatting in front of my five-year-old, my eyes on his black and red sneakers as I tie the laces - something he hasn't quite gotten the hang of yet. "What do you mean?" I ask him.

"Well, was that when Abraham Lincoln was president? Because Martin Luther King Junior wasn't born yet. So did they build a white tower and a brown one?"

I'm in awe of the questions that Bee asks, his obvious effort to wrap his head around what skin color and American history and civil rights all means. Beneath these questions I know he is also figuring out what it means for him and for us, as a family.

March 27, 2015

Raising Smart Kids To Be Humble

As parents, it is natural to want our kids to be "smart." I admit that when my son's first-grade teacher told me she wanted him to be tested for the gifted program, I couldn't hold back a dopey grin. It strikes me as sort of odd, to be so proud of something that is really not my doing. It isn't as though I hand-selected his genes or take his spelling tests for him! But in a culture that values intelligence and achievement, it does feel good to know my kid has it covered.

But when Zip's teacher told me how kind he is to his classmates, how much they like him and how well he gets along with others, and that he doesn't flaunt his intelligence even though his peers recognize it - well, that is when I started crying. (Yes, braggy mom moment to kick off a post about humility - I do see the irony here!)

When push comes to shove, having a child who is well-liked and gets along with his peers is a thousand times more important to me than having a kid in the gifted program. I want my child to be happy, and research has shown over and over again that IQ isn't correlated with happiness - relationships are. 

March 13, 2015

Thoughts on #OUSAE & Teaching Kids About Race

I'm sharing my thoughts on the recent University of Oklahoma SAE scandal and what it means for parents over on BonBon Break. Below is an excerpt from the post, but head on over to BonBon to read it in full

Monday evening I sat around a table with a group of women, and we talked about race. We talked about the ways racism shows up – the big ways and the little ways – and we acknowledged how difficult and uncomfortable it can be to talk about when no one has ever shown us how.  When the conversation turned to the recent incident at The University of Oklahoma, the women around the table shared their shock and outrage. And, of course, the question we all had was: Why?
Why would a bus full of white college students sing – gleefully – about hanging Black people from trees and never letting n**** into their fraternity?
These Big Incidents keep happening, shining a spotlight on racism in America. One after another, fast and furious, they keep coming, urging us not to look away. Outrage is warranted. Understanding why these awful situations happen is important. Talking about how to prevent them is important.
But here is the thing (excuse me while I hop up on my soapbox here): Racism exists on a continuum.  It is not enough to tell our kids "don't use the n-word." We MUST go deeper than that...

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