Monthly Archives: January 2012

Hands on

“The brain discovers what the fingers explore.”  – Matti Bergtrom

I love this quote – so accurate to the way in which children investigate, comprehend and assimilate the world they live in.

That’s why I’m so excited about the upcoming Block Extravaganza at The Parenting Place.  My mind has been very busy these days – “percolating” as I like to refer to it – about the preparations for this fun event.

I treasure the moments when I watch a child figuring things out – when she or he has forgotten about who’s watching or the need for someone to be watching and instead is working – in such a personally satisfying way. Then also there’s the  times when several children are building together – each one excited about their joint effort – learning to listen to each other, to problem solve, to share.

This is what can happen when children have the time and resources to build with blocks – to replicate their experiences, to rehearse new ones, to sort, build, imagine, connect and understand.

In today’s world where academic pressures are high on both children and parents to achieve, it is often these very fundamentals and simplicity that is overlooked, yet is actually the missing link, and the core on which to build.  Block construction play offers children (and adults) some of the highest play and learning value of any toy on the market.

Elizabeth S. Hirsch, editor of The Block Book wrote “The pleasure of blocks stems primarily from the esthetic experience. It involves the whole person – muscles and senses, intellect and emotion, individual growth and social interactions”.

Our Block Extravaganza will offer families this opportunity to enjoy this hands-on learning.  Block building stations will fill the room and, of course, in the true spirit of The Parenting Place’s fun nights – treats and a craft to extend the experience.  When you arrive, you’ll fill out your “building permits” and then the night is yours.

Parents come prepared to be on the floor with your children to play, notice and appreciate the hum of busy children working, hands-on.

“The brain discovers what the fingers explore.”


The Block Extravaganza is scheduled for Thursday evening February 16th from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.  Pre-registration is required.  Call now to make sure you reserve a spot.  For more info or to register, contact Fran at 784-8125.

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You’re it

A mom, with a 4-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, was telling me recently how she was dreading spending the weekend at her sister’s house.   Her sister has three children under seven.  Whenever they all get together, the children’s favorite thing to do is run around, chase and play rough and tumble.

“It makes me a nervous wreck” this parent shared with me.  “I’m so afraid someone will get hurt.  And besides, it seems as if I am condoning real fighting and aggression.”

Almost all children love to chase and wrestle.  You can pretty much count on getting children running, laughing and shrieking by announcing “You can’t catch me” – a challenge too good to resist.  However I can understand this mom’s concern and hesitation in allowing this kind of play.

But there is a definite difference between rough and tumble play and fighting and aggression.  When children are enjoying chasing, tugging, wrestling, they are laughing, shrieking, giggling.  They are having fun, they are freely participating, they are going back for more.  When children are being aggressive, they frown, hit, push and grab; there are tears, fear and signs of dominance.

Children benefit from being allowed to let loose in this playful way.  They grow  socially, emotionally and  physically.  While rough housing with a parent or another child, children learn to sense and interpret the give and take of social situations. They acquire skills in noticing and detecting signals from others.  They learn to read and understand other people’s body language, telling them when enough is enough.

Parents have wondered whether it’s okay for them to play rough and tumble with their children.  Actually this type of active, physical play often fulfills a vital need for touch – especially as children grow out of the baby/toddler stage.

Simple rules, however, should be commonly shared and enforced with children.

Kicking, choking is not allowed.

Use open hands for tagging, avoid contact with heads .

Be more aware of the youngest children playing.

Make sure the area where they are playing is safe for running and tumbling – outside, preferably.

Always have an adult nearby when children are playing, keeping an eye on things, ready to redirect and interpret if necessary.

Playing along with the children is an even better way to model appropriate responses and care.

So, now – be ready – the next time someone shouts “You’re it!”  to have some fun – playing together or  just appreciating the natural exuberance of children at play.

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Big ears

One afternoon I was talking with a parent who stopped by The Parenting Place with a mutual friend I had not seen in some time.  As we visited and talked, 5-year-old Laura was sprawled on the rug a few feet away, thoughtfully putting together a puzzle.

Laura’s mom is an animated, fast talker and in the midst of a somewhat convoluted story, she stopped herself and said, “or did I say that already?” to which little Miss Laura, considered not to be part of the conversation in any way, piped up and said, without so much as a turn of her head, “yes”.

What a perfect example of children’s big ears.

I remember so many occasions when my husband and I would be talking quietly together in the living room while our young son was upstairs in bed.  Always taking us by surprise,  a voice would suddenly float down from on high- an eight-year-old adding his personal input to the topic at hand.

Big ears.

Recently a mom was telling me about her young son who sat lost in concentration building his legoes.  A sad movie was on quietly in the background that she was not paying much attention to and believed her son was not either. Suddenly he got up and said he needed to go to the bathroom.  When he came back, he resumed his legoes briefly before bursting into tears and announcing his chest hurt.

It was as his mom comforted him that she realized his chest hurt him because he was so full of emotion for the girl in the movie – so affected by what he had heard.

Wow – big ears.

So … just a reminder – our children have “big ears” and they are paying attention and definitely listening to what’s going on around them.

What is your child hearing?

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look for the rainbows

The winter solstice is the shortest, darkest day of the year.  This year on that day, a co-worker gave me a special gift to “light my year” – a glass crystal pendant that had previously been a part of an antique chandelier.  When hung in my dining room window, it spreads the sunlight into all the colors of the rainbow.

My husband and I have been enjoying finding where the rainbows appear.  Yesterday we found three of them at the same time.  Just walking through the room, you would miss them, as they’re small.  But stopping for a moment – to notice – is a joyful discovery.

I realized, in some small way, having this sparkling pendent really could light my year.  If every day I would pause and appreciate “finding the rainbow” in whatever form it takes in my daily life.

I heard from a parent recently who was searching for more in her life besides just being a mom.  With three busy children, under three, she felt she had lost her self.  I thought of her today and wondered if recognizing some of the moments in her day – some of the rainbows – would help her to appreciate the significance of her role as a mother.

Children under three are not convenient.  I remember that line written from a mom who was responding to a parenting forum I was reading, and I like it.  Because how true is that!

Webster defines convenient as easy to do, use or get to; causing little trouble or work.

So no, following Webster’s definition, children under three are definitely not convenient.  But there are plenty of little  rainbows dancing around if we stop to look for them – from sticky, chubby  hands to tear-stained eyes from an “ouchy”, out-stretched arms to their most important person, giggles, funny remarks, wobbly first steps, a hug around the neck, a snuggle in your lap, trust in their faces.

I hope as parents you will stop in your busy day, notice your rainbows, and marvel.  Children grow up faster than you think – and then many things will be convenient.

Celebrate the inconveniences now.  Look for the rainbows.

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Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.


Did you sing Auld Lang Syne this year – or at least hear it played somewhere?  Did you watch and hear it sung at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  Being a very sentimental sort, Auld Lang Syne is one of those melodies and words that always brings tears to my eyes.

Auld Lang Syne is a very old Scottish song from the 17oo’s.  A good translation of the words “auld lang syne” is “times gone by”.  So when we sing this song, we’re really reflecting and remembering not only the people in our lives today but those times and people in our past.

I meet and get to know  so many parents and children over the years. When I hear and sing this song at the beginning of another new year, I believe much of the emotion I’m filled with is remembering so many of these families, that I hold in my heart,  from auld lang syne.

I wish all of you a very warm, happy and healthy New Year 2012 with thanks and much appreciation for sharing this part of my life which is the Parent Pulse blog.

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