So far it’s been a great school year at Shoreline Cooperative Preschool. We’ve gone on lots of field trips, celebrated many holidays, and have had fun learning in our classrooms. The time has gone by fast!
February is over (finally) and that means that spring is heading our way. Even though it will inevitably seem like just more rain and grey skies, the plants know the difference and we’ll start to see growth and greenery all around us. This is a great time to introduce/reinforce the concept of seasons as well as seeds and gardens. The month of March is typically when gardeners begin to prepare for their plantings by germinating seeds indoors, to be transplanted outside when the weather allows. A lot of us don’t have yards that are adequate for a garden, or the time/energy for a full scale garden. Don’t let this stop you! It’s easy to plant a few herb seeds in a small pot and keep this indoors for the entire growing season. It’s best to place whatever indoor pots you have in a south facing window, as these are the windows that receive the most light. After the seeds are planted, all you have to do is keep the soil moist until they sprout. Then it can be a daily activity with your child/children to check the little plant and see if it needs water. Kids love to watch things grow and be a part of the process! It’s even funner when you can pluck a few leaves of basil or what have you to eat with dinner. It makes the connection between living plants and our food that is often missing in city life.
For those of you feeling ambitious this year, this is the best article I found on building raised garden beds: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/lawn-garden/4308264#slide-1
One of these 4×8 foot beds can harvest up to 80 lbs of tomatoes! Again, you want to find a place in your yard that has good exposure to the south.
Another topic I wanted to write about is the awesome quality of guest speakers we have had so far at our monthly parent meetings. Last month, February, we had Jody McVittie come and speak to us about positive discipline. She works with Sound Discipline (http://www.sounddiscipline.org), and had many great pieces of advice to share. A few things I took away from the talk were:
- Instead of direct praise, try and give your child the words he/she needs to describe their own feelings. For example, instead of saying “I’m so proud of you for _____” I now ask my son after he does something I’m proud of if he feels proud for ______. So far he has responded well and will even run around the house declaring how proud of himself he is. It’s great to see his independence with his feelings!
- Jody taught us the analogy of being like a tree regarding the pushing and pulling that our children will always do. It’s good to remember that we have solid roots that keep us grounded and those are our morals and philosophies. However trees bend in the wind but they do not (usually) fall over. So instead of being rigid against the demands our children make, we can give a little but still stand firm. We can acknowledge in a loving way what they are wanting and also deny them that in a loving way. That love we show while standing firm is the slight give of the tree. It helps to take a deep breath when the stress levels rise (ie: a tantrum is ensuing).
- There’s nothing wrong with our children being upset. It’s bound to happen, and it seems like we’re obsessed with preventing it in the name of “happiness.” However it’s important to let them feel the full spectrum of emotions so that they can develop good coping mechanisms before they reach adolescence, when we desperately need them to have good coping skills. Also, it’s okay for our children to see us upset and/or cry or be emotional. That is a human quality. What’s important is the way we deal with these emotions in front of them. Modeling is how they learn.
- We all make mistakes, parents and children alike. We will continue to make mistakes. It’s important that we remember for ourselves and teach our children as well that even though we make mistakes, that does not mean we are mistakes. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back, it’s hard work being a parent.
These are just a few of the things that I found to be especially valuable. I’m sure that others attending took equally valuable things away from the talk. We have been blessed by a number of excellent guest speakers that are an invaluable resource in this ongoing process of learning to parent. I for one am extremely grateful to have been present for these presentations. Feel free (and please do) leave comments regarding your experiences with these speakers!
Happy almost Spring!
-Padraic Markle, Liam’s papa in Discoverers