Monday, 28 May 2012

Fun or not fun??!!

Welcome sunshine! This week we have thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine and being able to be outdoors everyday. Jacob is such an outdoors kid. He is in his element exploring, investigating, climbing, running, splashing...... being a child!  The Charlotte Mason Method promotes as much time outdoors exploring nature as possible, so this week we have been exploiting that :-)

Our local park is Eastrop Park (Eastrop Park). It has a play area, boating lake, stream, open space, nature trail and children's paddling pool- plenty for fun! We have spent most of the week there just hanging out! Jacob loves the stream. he paddles, splashes and explores. He brings me every item he finds for close scrutiny. We discuss his findings- mini-beast, pond weed/stone and litter! It's been a fab way of learning about rivers and streams. Our local Home-Ed group meet there weekly. This week I listened as two other children explained to Jacob about currents and how it effected the stream. Amazing! He remembered every detail because he was so enthused by his peers. Brilliant!


Playing by the stream


 Can you see us Mummy?!

All of the fun from this week leads me too think over and review last weeks post- Loving our kids on purpose. If you missed that post you can go back and read it, but I will give you a summary below.

Our goal as parents is to teach our children about and how to have healthy relationships and at the heart of these relationships is love. Love requires choices. So our children must be skilled in making choices and realising consequences of those choices.
I believe in order to achieve this we must follow a 3 step rule.

1- Take care of and manage ourselves as adults.
2-Set and enforce healthy limits by giving choices and consequences. 
3- Help our children understand how their choices affect your relationship with them.

Big steps huh?! 

Over the next couple of posts I will discuss each step, starting today with step one- taking care of and managing ourselves.
A really simple way to sum this up is the 'airplane analogy'. When the air stewards run through the safety demo they always remind you to 'place your own mask before helping children or others'. Unless your breathing your no use to anyone! 'We can only offer to others what we have ourselves'- Danny Silk.

As parents (and humans!) we need to take the time to look at our own behaviour, what it communicates and our actions towards others. Communicating to your child you have no 'limits', in terms of what is acceptable behaviour,  shows no self-respect leading them to loose respect in you.

A really great (I think!) method for helping younger children understand respect and self control is the 'Fun or not fun' technique.

Fun or not fun technique-  by Love and Logic
Teaching your child from an early age that there are two people in a relationship will help them develop the skills needed for making wise choices. A relationship has two sets of needs. Now, as parents we want to be fun to be around. Children need to know the same- they need to be fun to be around! When they are having tantrums, are rude, fight with siblings etc it's not fun! Follow the flow below and you should be able to demonstrate being 'fun' to your child.
 (Parent to say)

Imagine your child in full flow of a screaming fit! 'YYEEEAAAKKK' (think squawking seagull!)

'Whoa! hey no fun. fun or room? 

YYYEEAAKKKK!

You decide or I decide (giving a choice)

YYEEEAKKKK!

No problem!(choices have consequences) take child to time out space or bedroom. When you get to the room, inform your child- ]
You can come out of the room when you are fun. You then leave the room. Likely that, if it's a small child, they haven't stayed put! So..

Fun or room?

YYYYEEAAAKK!

No problem- take them back to time out space or bedroom. It's likely that your child will have taken themselves back, because they are born to be free and will be thinking ' that's right, I took myself here, you did not put me in time out!'
They may now stay in time out. If not the process repeats!

After their time out is up (usually a minute per year of age e.g age 4= 4 mins) you go to retrieve them and say-
Fun??? WITH A SMILE
The child may not be ready and may choose 'room' again, but it's likely they will return your smile. 'There's a smile, there you go! That is fun to be with!

This is a lesson in self-control. We all need to know how to control our emotions in order to make sharing an environment harmonious! Small steps such as these will help your child hugely in the future. Kids are quick to learn, and are clever! Your actions speak louder than any words, yet your actions do the talking and teach them what you say you mean- and follow it through!  Saying what we mean, meaning what we say and doing what we say we will do demonstrates we are trustworthy. Show your children they can trust you! That is your challenge for this week........................

                                       Jacob and Pap Pap's sand castle creation! A work of art!

Thanks to www,loveandlogic.com and Danny Silk- Loving our kids on purpose.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Loving our kids on purpose...........

                                           
                                                       Image courtesy of 'Loving our kids on Purpose' by Danny Silk




Today's blog is veering off from Home -Ed on a tangent! But it is a parenting issue! I have attempted to share with you my thoughts and interpretations of a book I have been reading.....

This week I have embarked upon reading a book recommended to me by my play therapist and charity organiser friend Helen. Helen runs www.lullabyafrica.org - check it out!

'Loving our kids on Purpose' by Danny Silk shares a Christian outlook on parenting, which I understand isn't for everyone. However, I think it raises some really relevant points to today's parenting approaches and the possible mistakes parents can make. Those points I will be sharing with you in this blog entry! We will be looking at behaviour, love, your bottom line as a parent, intimidation and choices. Are you ready? Then lets begin!

Children are discovering the world around them, the world they live in and need to establish their place in. Often they have many questions, need reassurance, explanations or need rules, boundaries and expectations. It is from this view point that I believe parents are children's point of guidance and stability. They provide answers and boundaries/expectations.  However, in today's society, it seems,  some parents adopt the approach of becoming their child's 'best friend'. Which is a totally different role altogether. Often parents with this approach fear their children, seem scared of parenting them in case their child dislikes them or 'rejects' them. But as Danny  Silk points out 'love drives out fear' (taken from 1John 4:18).

The Bottom Line.......

What is the most important issue for you as a parent when interacting with your children? I'd like you to scribble your answer down on a piece of paper right now............

Danny has worked with many parents whilst running 'parenting workshops' . He meets parents describing many kinds of 'undesired behaviour'. His first question to them (after letting them unload their 'woes') is 'What is your connection with your child? Describe the heart to heart connection between the two of you'. 
Powerful words!! How many of us can reel off a list in the blink of an eye of behaviour our children display that 'annoys, aggravates, stresses us out, pushes our buttons, frustrates us'??!!! Go on admit its easy to come up with! But how quickly can your explain the heart to heart connection between you and your child? Sure after a few minutes of thinking it through we can come up with an answer, but it is in no way as instant as our 'list'. Danny believes our viewpoint as a parent needs to shift. Our most important issue for us as parents when interacting with our children should be love. Love is our bottom line. How many of us wrote that on the paper?

Obey me......
For many parents obedience is their main goal. Most of us want well behaved children right? So getting them to obey will make them behave. Well Danny would beg to differ (although he isn't flat out saying allow them to disobey you!). He states ' ... the goal of obedience and compliance is an inferior goal. Although obedience is an important part of our relationship with our children, it is not the most important quality.' He goes on to say ' Love and relationship are the bottom line..' Below is an example he uses in his book which I think illustrates the point really clearly. It certainly gave me something to think about!

'Your sixth grader comes to you with his report card, which reveals he is failing. How do you think you would respond to such scenario? For most parents, their immediate attention is on the child's lack of compliance with his school environment and/or their parental expectations. They work to set their child on a path back to a good student position by communicating their disappointment (and often their anger) and giving instructions on how to behave better. There is nothing wrong with this approach in general. But it perpetuates a problem because it never really addresses the 'heart' issues that led to the mistakes in the first place.'


How often have you shouted at your child's behaviour/lack of compliance without thinking about the reason it may have occurred. I too am guilty of this! Sometimes in our own frustration or lack of control we may even resort to spanking. This is a whole other topic which could be a blog entry in itself, but I would like to touch on it here in the context of intimidation.

Intimidation.......
Parenting can be described as a tool kit we draw upon for raising our kids. For some parents the only tool they posses is intimidation. They try to convey to their kids that they are in control of their (children's) lives using this tool. Many parents believe that when their children present failure, rebellion, disrespect etc they must gain control by intimidating their children into changing their minds. This intimidation is linked with anger and anger can lead to violence, and so the cycle perpetuates. Intimidate,  violence and anger to gain control over people- children learn quickly!

 This is a visual analogy that Danny uses in his book to clearly represent intimidation. Children quickly want to become the 'big truck'.
Rather than intimidate, Danny writes that we should be giving our children choices and teaching them about freedom. I'm beginning to agree!

'Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it' Proverbs 22:6

Choices and freedom.........
As a parent giving children choices can be difficult. It requires forward thinking and an understanding that you have to follow through on what they choose. Quite rightly, children can feel cheated if they make a choice in a situation and then that choice is disallowed. For example, if you say 'stop fighting over that book and share, or else the book will be taken away from you' and they choose to continue fighting then you say 'I've had enough of your fighting- go to bed'. Your child/ren will feel wronged. The choice was stop fighting and share, or continue fighting and the book is removed, not be sent to bed! Some children make this choice (of 'punishment') because they are unable to resolve conflict on their own. They prefer the choice you give them.
Children need to be taught what freedom and choice feels like, looks like and how to prosper in it. They need the confidence and skills to make their own decisions, whilst allowing them to mess up in a safe and loving environment. Allowing choices teaches children that they are in control of their actions, but actions have consequences. And it is these consequences that children must be made aware of in order to make a choice.

I go back to one of my first statements about parents being the person to provide stability. If you choose not to allow choices or do not follow through on a child's choice in order to show consequences then you are not providing stability.

I will leave you with one last word from Danny Silk- 'To fear our children's poor choices is to teach them to be afraid of freedom'.........................................




                                                         


More information can be found about Danny Silk and his parenting workshops at www.lovingonpurpose.com

Monday, 14 May 2012

Twaddle?!?..........

'Mothers seldom talk down to their children; they are too intimate with the little people, and have, therefore, too much respect for them: but professional teachers, whether the writers of books or the givers of lessons are too apt to present a single grain of pure knowledge in a whole gallon of talk, imposing upon the child the labour of discerning the grain and of extracting it from the worthless flood.'
(Vol 1, Part V Lessons As Instruments Of Education, p.175)- Charlotte Mason





'Twaddle is what parents and educators today might call “dumbed down” literature. It is serving your children intellectual happy meals, rather than healthy, substantive mind- and soul-building foods. Charlotte Mason advocated avoiding twaddle and feasting children’s hearts and minds on the best literary works available.' taken from simplycharlottemason.com

As you can see I have been doing a fair bit of reading about Charlotte Mason and her techniques! The notion of 'twaddle' was of particular interest to me. As a teacher of young children I was often frustrated with the range of books chosen by curriculum schemes and schools as appropriate for children. I never understood the need to read such pointless 'non-story' stories!
My other 'pet hate' is adults talking down, talking 'babyish' or silly voice to children. I never get why parents feel the need to call a dog- a doggy. Or a cow- moo cow!! 'Look at the baa lambs!!' Oh it really grates on me! While my son was young everything was given is correct name, no silly baby voices were used! Admittedly this was because it annoyed me, but now I am glad I have a problem with it! As Charlotte Mason says in her quote above '....too much respect for them...' As a mother we must respect our children and treat them as the individual, albeit developing, human being that they are, not an alien to our planet!!!!

But what about the awkward times when grandparents, friends and other family members use such 'twaddle'?? I have found simply being a role model for how you expect your child to be treated is most effective. For example- Aunt Sue- 'Look at those cute little baa lambs, see the baa lambs Johnny?' (parent cringes, tongue bitten, deep breath then...) Parent-  'see the LAMBS Johnny, what cute lambs, can you say lambs/count the lambs etc.' At least you feel, as a parent, your staying true to your beliefs/methods and maybe the 'twaddle user' (if around you enough!) will cotton on! My son soon cottoned on and would correct an adult who used 'baby language' when speaking with him!

twaddle talk This is a short clip that explains twaddle and reading. Take a look!

CM explained- Just found this clip! I think it is a really good explanation of CM methods. What do you think?

I'd love to read your comments or thoughts on twaddle and Charlotte Mason so please leave me a comment below.

Finally, some pics of Cornwall, Football, Coco and outdoor fun!

Despite the rain and wind we hit the beach!

 Boat ride looking for seals


About to explore a tin mine.....

 Woodland wander....

 Coco!!!


 Playmates! They are inseparable!