In most of my life roles, I can feel overwhelmed by the information on how to be or do them better, how we can achieve that ideal balance where all parties (kids, friends, coworkers, and family members) feel heard, valued, and bolstered as individuals and also “team” members.
If you’re a parent and…
…your toddler is obsessed with trains. Your kindergartener will eat nothing but macaroni. Your preteen wants to read a popular title that’s a little too scary. Tips for connecting with kids at various stages through books. Need advice? Email your situation to meredith[at]clifonline.org with “If you’re a parent and…” in the subject line.
Tips on teaching kids empathy and kindness pop up everywhere. Recently, my daughter, our dog, and I participated in the Committee on Temporary Shelter’s (COTS) fundraising walk, a perfect opportunity to find out more about how “fundraising” connects with kindness and empathy in an eight-year-old mind.
Recently, I saw a Facebook post on habits of productive people. I have a love-hate relationship with those lists, but this time I paused, because some of the highlighted habits were reinforced for my daughter at her second-grade student-led conference.
Recently, my daughter has started to carry an additional backpack to school – one of those square, drawstring, logo-laden bags that one can often acquire at an event. When asked what she carries in it, she replied, “My book club books!” Here is how the discussion went:
Me: “What does it mean to have book club?”
Her: “Me and Elle read and talk about books.” (Said with some disdain.)
Me: “When do you do book club?”
Her: “At recess.”
Me: “You take the library books outside?”
Her: “Only when it is nice out, we haven’t had book club in a while.”
Luckily for her, she has found special friends who share her love of reading.
I volunteer in the school library every Friday afternoon. A few weeks ago, my scheduled time overlapped with a special program called “I Can Hour.” Because the school librarian did the bulk of the event’s organization, I was pressed into service.
In December, I took my seven-year-old daughter to her second Tae Kwon Do tournament. She got hooked through a school PE class, and because she was six when she started, I initially had to participate with her. I quickly realized this was not for me, but gladly supported her as she continued and appreciated the short lesson.
I admit that I am one of those adults who enjoys reading middle level and young adult books. I think of it as prep work for recommending books to my second grader or CLiF program attendees.
Three of my recent favorite books with teenager main characters have been One Came Home by Amy Timberlake, Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, and The True Blue Scouts of the SugarMan Swamp by Kathi Appelt*.
Like countless other children, my son recently saw the acclaimed new Disney Pixar movie, Inside Out. And like countless other parents, I quietly wept through just about the entire movie. Among the many striking moments, characters, and messages in the film was one specific creature who got me thinking – Bing Bong, the since-forgotten imaginary friend to the movie’s protagonist.
My seven-year-old daughter recently attended a two-hour day camp with a River Wildlife theme for a week. Wildlife on The River – the St. Lawrence River – includes fish, osprey, frogs, otters, and herons (the five themes for five camp days).
I came home from my term abroad with rolls and rolls of undeveloped film. The excitement of seeing the real photos months later inspired me to document my adventures in scrapbooks. I very rarely looked at the books again…until my daughter’s increasing reading habit prompted the albums’ resurgence (for better or worse).