Monthly Archives: April 2011

Frolicking

Frolicking – to play or romp about in a happy, carefree way.

It’s springtime. The sun feels warm, the breezes sweet and I strongly recall the distinct sensation of when I was young and  how much fun it was to run so fast, skip so high and feel free as a bird in the wide outdoors.

At the Family Resources’ Bunny Hop and Egg Roll on Saturday, it was a joy to watch many of the children doing  just that.  My co-worker and I remarked to each other that perhaps this is all the children needed – a place to gather and to run – no need for planned activities, even such fun ones as the egg roll and hunt.

For the hill beckoned to them and belonged to them as they rolled pell mell down, as they chased each other shouting excitedly, and ran for the pure joy of running.

There’s a big national campaign on now to get our kids moving.  It’s hard to believe that we are at this point when we need to be reminded and that our children need a curriculum to be reminded of this natural desire to be active.  So it made my heart glad to see children who, all on their own, still remembered how to run and roll and invent their own active games.

Later that evening we were strolling along the river’s edge at Riverside Park and came upon a young family with three young children.  Dad was setting up the picnic supper while Mom kept a cautious but happy eye on the children,who were absolutely frolicking on the grassy bank.

We stopped and commented to this young couple what a good idea.  The dad agreed it was better to forego the crowded restaurants where everyone’s patience is tested, forget another inside evening watching videos and to be outdoors where the children can run and play and use their outdoor voices.

There’s something very relaxing, refreshing and restorative when we are out playing and watching our children doing what should come very naturally to them – moving.

So let’s find the time for frolicking.

Enjoy the moment.

It’s spring in motion!

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earth lady

 

Earth Day always reminds me of a very special friend – Lucy, the Library Lady.  This year was particularly poignant after attending her retirement party from the library last week. 

 Lucy and I have been good friends way before either one of us began our present jobs – she at the public library and I at Family Resources.We were young (ish) moms together, raising boys, sharing concerns and laughter, sorting out new ideas and examining old ones, supporting each other.

And even way back then, Lucy modeled a “green life”.  She intentionally believed in reducing waste, recycling, re-using and she walked the talk.

Everyone who knows Lucy, as a puppeteer and storyteller, learned from her resourcefulness.  Most of Lucy’s puppets were made by her from recycled and re-used materials.  Her story times and puppets reflect this ingenious use of creativity and simplicity to capture the imagination and sensibilities of her young audience. 

For years, Lucy has developed and staged Earth Day presentations at schools and libraries carrying her strong message of keeping our environment beautiful and clean. Fortunately, she will continue to share her gifts with us.  She has retired from the Library but not from entertaining and raising the awareness of both young and old through her wit and wisdom.

As parents, we can make sure our children are “feeling” the environment around them.  When children experience real adventures in nature, when they have walked in the rain, splashed in rain puddles, made mud pies, chased after fireflies, walked under the full moon, waded in a rocky stream, searched for 4-leaf-clovers, laid in the grass and looked up at the clouds – then they can understand in their “being” why they should protect earth’s gifts.

Gardening on a small scale with children can be a very positive venture. Planting a garden in a wading pool is perfect for letting your child be the gardener.

Gardens in wagons, (convenient to roll into the sun and for watering) old shoes, coffee cans, baskets, be creative.  Pumpkins are my favorite. Start seedlings now in your house in egg cartons.  Children will love to help with this.  Once the baby plant sprouts and grows two sets of leaves, it is officially a seedling and can be transplanted into your outdoor garden.

Gardening with children emphasizes the necessities to live – water, sunlight, air, soil.   Appreciation and stewardship  will be instilled and memories cherished. 

So during this Earth Week 2011, I say thank you to Lucy for her inspiration, her valuable contribution, her friendship to me,  to the children and parents of the La Crosse area, and especially to our beautiful earth.

Lucy, earth lady, stay green.

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on a mission

Family Resources is a place for all who care for children.  Our programs educate, strengthen, and support parents and caregivers by creating a greater understanding of the impact they have on the lives of children in their care.  Through increased education and parental growth, children will have a positive, supportive and loving start in life. Family Resources Mission Statement.

Family Resources’ name will soon change but not our mission which was written twenty years ago.  Has it been altered here and there, a phrase added, a word changed, updated?  Yes, but the original essence is still firm and a means to guide what we do at Family Resources.

The same benefits can ring true in any family no matter what the make-up. Usually, whether formally stated or not, every family has their own way of doing things, believing in things, valuing things.

What makes a family mission statement so significant is to be able to put these priorities and intentions into words that can be read and re-read, internalized, questioned, and sometimes revised to reflect the changes as your family grows and evolves.

When today’s whirlwind of options and choices, both positive and negative,  face your consideration as a family, your family mission statement is a way to guide your decisions.

A family mission statement offers children the basis behind the decisions that are made in their family along with a definite sense of assurance. It helps them appreciate the validity of their family’s principles and purpose and to understand and be an active participant in building them.

I talked to a mom yesterday who has been to a few  workshops on creating family mission statements and thought seriously about creating a mission statement but hadn’t acted upon it yet.  I know this family definitely lives a very purposeful family life and now that the children are growing older and maturing, this parent is increasingly interested in creating a family mission statement with them in a more formal and participatory way.

Sharing a family mission statement is a tool that will assist you throughout your relationship, as a couple first and throughout the challenging stages of parenthood.

It will embody what it is that makes your family work while building pride and respect in all family members.

The parent I spoke about above is signed up to attend this opportunity below.  I definitely recommend it!

If you are interested in attending a workshop about creating a family mission statement for your family, Family Resources is offering Create Your Family Values and Mission Statement on Thursday, April 14th, from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.  Presenter Stacy Shapiro will help you explore what is important to you and your family and learn key strategies to help you create your own Family Values and Mission Statement.

Registration is required. Call Family Resources, 608-784-8125 to register.  Limited childcare is available.

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Puzzling

A parent stopped by Family Resources last week and donated many puzzles to us.  I love puzzles and recall many peaceful hours spent through the years putting puzzles together when our children were young.

There’s something so satisfying in finding  just the right piece one is looking for and pushing it firmly into place.  I was always agreeable when the suggestion “Let’s do puzzles” was made.  It is such a compatible activity for a grown-up and child to do, sharing a quiet energy, concentration and determination in completing this joint project together.

Now in Family Resources playroom, I am often amused watching an older child pull out a puzzle he’s done many times before, put it together in breakneck speed, then return it to its rightful place with an”I’ve still got it!” look of confidence on his face.

Later on in the week, a parent and I were discussing learning and the subject of worksheets came up.  This mom was a bit surprised that her preschool child balked at doing them, even though she shows interest in reading and is a very curious learner.

I encouraged this mom to take a good look at what concepts the workbook pages were teaching.  So often it is a repetition of a skill a child already knows well or one she automatically accomplishes through her active learning style,  in her everyday world – matching, sorting, recognizing differences, making connections

And, perhaps it is just not the missing ” puzzle piece” this young child is seeking right now.

 For when I consider the way independent learning happens for a child, it is very much like completing a puzzle – the joy in finding the missing piece, the motivation to search for it and the satisfied feeling when an accomplishment is realized.

Think of the learning that occurs for a child from birth to five years old.  How much of it is formally taught?  Yet every fragment is a significant piece of the learning puzzle your child is assimilating.

I enjoy hearing stories about children and one of my co-workers shares delightful and insightful ones about her grandsons.  This time she was telling me her oldest grandson was not that enthused about reading at first.  He did what he had to do in first grade but his passion was in math and the enjoyment of numbers. 

Until suddenly, an explosion – he was reading everything in sight, spelling and writing words constantly, just for fun, just for himself!

 That’s what you call an aha moment for a young learner. 

 That’s when the missing piece has firmly been added to the puzzle. 

 That’s when a child owns his learning.

So as parents we need to trust this forward motion of our children without fretting or undue pressure.  If we are reading aloud to our children, encouraging their interests, answering their questions, offering experiences, supporting creativity, providing independent time for them to play, choose  and integrate their activities, then relax. 

Watch for and enjoy those aha bursts of learning as they develop and grow naturally along your child’s own sometimes puzzling, yet always  unique, path to knowledge.

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