Posts Tagged With: brain development

inner Momma voice

I’ve written before about inner speech. I even took the time to kind of explain it for those of you that don’t really know much about brain development.
Inner speech is pretty much the most important thing any of us have. But, the importance comes down to the type of inner speech one has.
If you read the linked posts, you know I have critical inner speech. I had a mother who loved me but that didn’t always come across in the way she spoke to me. And those moments when I hear her in my brain, I am immediately a little girl again. Only I’ve spent a good bit of time actively learning new ways to use my inner voice. It’s a minefield up in that brain of mine…which probably isn’t good considering the pinball thoughts that tend to roll and crash around in there…but, with concentrated effort, I’m learning to hear kinder, much less critical thoughts.

Thing 2 was in crisis mode on Saturday. We texted a great deal and had a long conversation.
She sent this text after we talked.

My joy knew no bounds! Here inner speech was positive. It was kind. It was self-loving. And she knew it came from me!
In that moment I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I had not ruined her!!
What a relief!

Now that’s not to say that when her inner speech is about chilling and breathing she doesn’t also hear things like, “Jesus Christ, Magdeline!” in a frustrated voice. I mean, I know I’m critical. I don’t honestly think I stood a chance not being…consider my own inner speech.
And while I’m sure my second daughter has some critical or even negative inner speech, it truly warms my heart that she has soothing and positive inner speech. That she can hear her Momma’s voice in her head and it’s kind and loving. That she can choose to use those words to take the best possible care of herself.

I’m going to call this a win for Thing 2.
You know, I also think I’m going to call this a parenting win!

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Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

sense of urgency: true or false

I woke early this morning with a sense of urgency.
I find this peculiar for two reasons. The first being that I didn’t even get in bed until after midnight, then to be that ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’ before 6:00? #needmybeautysleepyo
The second is that I have a simple day planned. Quick and easy errands, and meeting with a couple of lula consultants to swap out inventory. #lifeofleisuremuch
This is not earth shattering stuff, people. So why this acute sense of urgency?

Actually, I’m not sure that’s the right question…for once in my life I may not need to ask why. #stopthepresses
I have a sneaking suspicion the question should be more along the lines of: Is this a true sense of urgency?
Not why is there urgency, but is the urgency real or is it false?
A false sense of urgency (must find thesaurus) is nothing more than excuse to spin your wheels. I have no patience for that. I spent enough of my life spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. #aintnobodygottimeforthat
Of course, this doesn’t feel false. And I’m really examining it. Like, with tweezers and a microscope examining it. And here’s what I’ve come up with.
It is a true sense of urgency. But it has little to do what I may or may not need to accomplish in the world today. In (my) reality, it has everything to do with who I am and want to become.

It took me forty years to realize that I was smarter and more capable than I’d ever been given credit for. And that every choice I made, good, bad, indifferent, got me to that place within myself. The best part was that I actually liked the me I was.
At the time, forty years was my entire life. I had been kept down by the naysayers and never really knew it. I didn’t believe in myself because I’d been taught negative inner speech and spent a lifetime listening to it.
When I discovered I was brave and strong and capable I was finally able to tune out the naysayers. #damntheman
I was creating my own new and positive inner speech. #imatotalbamf

Of course, life actually gets in the way of this knowing and it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to hear that old negative inner speech as I go through the motions of daily life.
I flounder. I get lost. But that spark of knowledge is always there. I simply must remember to look for it. I found a glimpse of it recently! I even wrote about it, here.
Knowing my truest self has been a curious journey. I’ve been run off the road a few times, I stopped for food and fuel and chose not to get back on the road. I drove the party bus, not caring about the journey, just having fun. But I am a destination girl, the journey makes me weary. Luckily, I’ve met my truest self and spent sacred time traveling with her. Makes the journey less tedious.

This sense of urgency inside me is to remind me to keep tightly the knowledge of who I am and what it means. The sense of urgency is to guide me on my journey. To keep me on the right path. To help me create new positive inner speech, because if I do that enough, my brain will seek these new patterns and no longer fall into the old negative ones.
This sense of urgency is the fire in my belly stoking itself. To keep me from becoming complacent. To help me not let life get in the way of knowing.

I find it’s very rarely about what you accomplish out in the world.
I find it’s almost always about who you are and are becoming every day.
Be the truest you.
Not the “best possible you”. That’s holding yourself to external standards. #ohhellno
Be the truest you. Only you know what that means.

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. ~ Golda Meir #word

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I am the strangest, weirdest, most complicated woman I’ve ever been.

Do any of us really know our self?
I’m talking about our true self. The one that inner speech, and socialization, and life choices..relationships, jobs, residency…work so hard to alter.

I’ve been reminded of my true self lately. Mostly though conversations with people I met because of this blog, and my precious sister in law, but also my obsessive journaling.
I find it curious how you sometimes can’t see yourself until you observe your reflection in another or written on a page.

I have so much negative inner speech in my brain. I don’t feel the need to place blame for how it got there, I just need to remember to ignore it more frequently than I do.
Allow me to quickly explain to you about inner speech:
Imagine adults going ‘round with great big highlighters and highlighting things a child might experience. Whatever gets highlighted, is reinforced. The problem with highlighting a child’s behavior, is that adults tend to judge a child’s behavior. This judgement (or highlighting) creates their inner speech. The thing is, adults are particularly good at highlighting “bad” behavior. However well meant these intentions to highlight are, if all that’s being pointed out is what’s wrong with the child’s behavior the child can only focus on what’s “wrong” or “bad” about who she is.
Consider this, brains are pattern seeking. So if all that’s ever been highlighted in a child’s brain is negative that’s where the focus is.
So, I am working every day to see through new eyes, to encourage my brain to pick up on new patterns. To highlight that which is helpful and kind and loving.

In my past if I’d been told: “Your mind jumps all over, like a jack-in-the-box on speed. You say some odd, perplexing, annoying, infuriating things.” I would have heard these as “bad” things, negative traits. My inner speech conditioned me to that. But I’m realizing these are actually compliments. I’m challenging the people with whom I communicate. Go me!
In my past if I’d been told: “You said deep things that resonated with me. I should have taken notes. You are doing a good job of taking care of yourself. It’s something many cannot do.” I would shrugged it off. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the sincerity of these words. I honestly don’t think I’m doing such an excellent job of taking care of myself…but I get better at it every day.

I’m seeing myself as the strangest, weirdest, most complicated woman I have ever been. In the best possible way! I am seeing myself as the most loving, caring, nurturing woman I have ever been. I see this because I’m paying attention to my reflection.
We all need help to see who we are. We can’t see it for ourselves.
It’s like trying on clothes alone. You’re in the fitting room and you’re wearing the most adorable (whatever) you’ve ever seen and the moment you put it on you’re looking at your flaws. Oh, my belly is pudgey there. This is too tight across the bust. My bottom looks too flat. Your body language reflects this, you’re not standing up straight, you’re not smiling. But what if you tried that same (whatever) on with a friend in the fitting room with you, their view of you helps guide you to what is lovely and wonderful about the (whatever) you’ve tried on. You’ll see that your posture is different, you’re smiling, you’re seeing what’s really in front of you instead of what you expect to see.

When you can see yourself the way you’re reflected through the eyes or words or point of view of someone who cares about you, you are seeing the truest you. Sure everyone has an agenda, but in that moment you don’t see your own inner speech reflected back at you, you don’t see that person’s agenda, you see the bright and shining you that they see.
One cannot be loved for absolutely no reason.
Nobody will honestly love the worst in someone else. You are loved because that person sees the best in you.

So the lesson here is to begin to see yourself as the ones who love and care about you see you. When you begin to see yourself in this light, you will begin to realize how much you are. How much you have to offer the world. If you begin to see yourself in this light, you will become an even better/healthier/more luminous version of you. Eventually you won’t need to see yourself through the eyes of others, you’ll become accustomed to seeing that you through your own eyes.

But keep those loved ones handy, sometimes we all need a little positive encouragement.
Just like Katharine Hepburn, we all need Jimmy Stewart to occasionally remind us that: “There’s a magnificence in you, Tracy. A magnificence that comes out of your eyes, in the way you talk, the way you stand there and the way you walk. You are lit from within, Tracy. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth fires and holocausts. You are the golden girl, Tracy. Full of life, warmth and delight.”

And if there is ever a moment when you can’t see yourself in this light, always always remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

I am a Goddess. I am a warrior queen. I am a fairy princess. I am a plain old regular girl. Aren’t I the best!?!
Does this mean I know my true self?
Nope. But I’m learning every single day.
And really what more can I ask for?

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

shouting from my soapbox

I saw an article this morning on Scary Mommy: Our Kids Don’t Need F@*#ing Pedal Desks, They Need Recess.
A Kentucky kindergarten teacher got a $12,000.00 grant to install ‘pedal desks’ in her classroom for (wait for it…) “when kindergartners get tired of sitting still.”

I BEG YOUR PARDON!?! (or: WHAT THE EVER-LOVING F**K!?!)
Kindergartners are five and six years old! Five and six! Is there ever a time when they DO sit still? They need to move their bodies! Their brain development relies on that!! How can they be expected to learn anything ‘strapped’ to a desk?
Is this simply another example of the misunderstanding about recess? Recess is about social interactions and imaginative play in addition to movement and exercise. Some of the most important social-emotional development happens when children play together freely.
Recess is a time for unstructured play. Children learn to respect and appreciate each other’s feelings by cooperating and taking turns. They understand that there is a natural give and take to play. If play is designed by one child and doesn’t evolve in a way the all the children like, two things can happen. They’ll either walk away which forces the change in play or they will discuss the changes they’d like to see. More often than not, the entire group will work together to create play that pleases everyone. These children practice negotiation and cooperation without even realizing it.
I’ve focused on social and emotional development and completely ignored the benefits of play to gross and fine motor development. But that seems more obvious to me.

Children need to move their bodies fairly regularly! I’m forty four years old and need to move mine often!
A classroom can and should be a place where you can move about and have different kinds of learning centers.
I know it’s hard to “meet each child where s/he is” but it’s easy to create a safe and authentic learning environment where students and teachers can move their bodies to help the teaching and learning process.

I started kindergarten in our country’s bicentennial year. I realize things have changed since then.
I remember my kindergarten class had a housekeeping area, a “writing center”, dress-ups, blocks and interlocking bricks for math. Sometimes we sat in chairs at big tables and other times we sat in a circle “Indian style” on carpet squares. We got read to and we honed our social skills through play. I could already read and write when I started kindergarten, but that’s just me. I remember loving being at school. It was fun and I actually realized I was learning. I was in half-day kindergarten and there was time for learning, snack, AND recess!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 had individual desks and chairs in their kindergarten classes. But they were grouped into fours in the center of the room to make room for the play based learning centers. Interestingly they were similar to the ones I talked about in my kindergarten classroom. There was a math center with big and little blocks and clocks to play with. I loved that! Little and big hands to move around the numbers. There was a writing center with crayons and markers and colored pencils. (Any scribbling is the beginning of writing.) There was a little kitchen and a mirror and babies.
Thing 1 was in kindergarten twenty three years after I was and there was still learning through play in kindergarten classrooms. Her teacher told me: I need them to walk into my classroom and be able to recognize their name and write it in some way that I can read it, even if it’s not right. I need them to be able to recognize number up to twenty. I need them to know their colors. The rest is up to me and the first grade teachers.
Thing 1 could do all those things, even though she wrote her nine letter name in a mix of capital and lower case letters. She was already reading a little. She was the only white girl in a class of nineteen kids. I was thrilled that she was going to experience that much diversity!
(There were 33 countries represented in our elementary school of 500 students.)

From the pedal desk article:

“Our kids need recess, not pedal desks so they can move while they work like little bots. Seriously, is this real life? Why are kindergartners even sitting in one place long enough to need pedal desks? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves.”

I believe in asking that question. But the people answering it are not educators. They don’t know what’s best for children. Here’s a thought: what if we have educators creating curriculum and education policy? Politicians designing this country’s curriculum can’t see past test scores. Gotta keep up with the Chinese and all that rot.
But in Peter Gray’s article, Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less, he writes:

“Educators in East Asian nations have increasingly been acknowledging the massive failure of their educational systems. According to the scholar and author Yong Zhao, who is an expert on schools in China, a common Chinese term used to refer to the products of their schools is gaofen dineng, which essentially means good at tests but bad at everything else. Because students spend nearly all of their time studying, they have little opportunity to be creative, discover or pursue their own passions, or develop physical and social skills. Moreover, as revealed by a recent large-scale survey conducted by British and Chinese researchers, Chinese schoolchildren suffer from extraordinarily high levels of anxiety, depression and psychosomatic stress disorders, which appear to be linked to academic pressures and lack of play.”

What’s sad is teachers have no real choice. This woman was trying to make the school day better for FIVE and SIX year olds(!!) while accomplishing the unrealistic and inappropriate goal the government set for when these children leave her classroom.
There is something inherently wrong with this country’s education system. How many lives will be negatively impacted before something changes?
Childhood was snatched away from children. They’re forced to learn and do things at ages when their brains aren’t actually developed to do them. This skips natural and necessary building processes in the brain! And they can’t go play!
My heart breaks.
And my hackles go up!

Categories: education, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Just you wait, Henry Higgins. Just you wait.

I haven’t written anything in a while. I just haven’t been feeling well…or feeling like writing. It’s not an excuse…it just is.
Monday starts my last two weeks in my classroom. While I’m sad to say goodbye to my babies, I’ve never been happier to leave a job in my life. And that’s saying something. I used to run the nursing department of a home health care company. Every day on the way to work I would fantasize about being in an accident. Not enough to be hurt, enough to not make it to work.
It’s not the kids, I adore them. Even the ones I don’t actually like. It’s the way the administrators (None of which have any early childhood experience.) never bother to ask the most important question.
What’s best for children?

I ask that question every single day. And I do my damnedest to answer it.

It disgusts me that they are treated like chattel with dollar signs on their chests. Is that what’s best for children?
If parents knew how decisions regarding their children’s care and education were being arbitrarily decided would that be acceptable?
But some parents don’t care. Their careers, their lives are more important to them and they’re content to believe the hype as long as someone looks after their children all day long.

No one gives a damn about emergent curriculum. Or learning through play. Or brain development.
Is that what’s best for children?

I’ve never been truly satisfied at this school. I’ve had moments of great joy. But I’ve always known it fit me ill.
It’s made me question my passion for early childhood education. It’s made me question my love for young children. I’ve been wrestling with “hanging up my spurs” for quite some time. It fascinates me that something beyond my control made the decision for me. Is the stress from this job really creating the sickness in my brain?

Perhaps I’m just a whiny crybaby? Perhaps I’m just lazy? Perhaps I simply don’t want to have to go to work everyday?
I’ve asked myself these questions. With the exception of the first one, the answer is no. (The answer to the first question is: occasionally.)

It’s occurring to me as I write this that as bad as that other job was, this one goes against my personal beliefs. That just might be why it feels so much worse. I care so passionately about young children and their beginning education that I absolutely cannot participate in the degradation of the most important time in a person’s life.
From zero to five years is when everything we need for our entire lives starts being built.

I was discussing with a couple we know, the brain situation and leaving my job under medical advice. The husband (Who is an engineer.) said something to the effect of: But all jobs are stressful. The wife (Who is a teacher at an elementary school.) replied something to the effect of: Teaching is so stressful. It’s not like other jobs. You can turn your brain off occasionally while you’re working. But we never can.
I agreed and said: I am almost constantly engaged with my kids. My brain works even harder than my body does. When a child comes to me with a question or is excited about an accomplishment, I have to be ready to go! I have to give that child my undivided attention while being completely aware of the others.

Most people have no real understanding of what early childhood educators do. It’s not quantifiable but it lays the foundation for every single moment of learning.

I’m going to step down off my soapbox.
I’m going to enjoy the last two weeks with my babies before they move into the “junior kindergarten program”.
I’m going to walk away with my head held high.

It occurs to me in this moment that I haven’t been writing because I was filled with all this poison. It was making me fell unwell. It was making me cranky.
Well, I’ve just spewed the poison it onto this page and I actually feel a great deal better.

Am I crazy?
Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face?
Are personal beliefs and principles so sacred that to go against them makes one ill?
Don’t we skew our principles a teeny bit just to make it through each day?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy…

I am going to take time in September and October to heal my brain. (I’m extremely stubborn so I plan to do that through the sheer force of my will.) I’ll take that time to finish wedding planning. I’ll spend a good deal of that time with my own precious Thing 2.
And when YBW and I come home from our honeymoon, I’ll find a new job. One that suits me and that I suit.

I’m reminded a little bit of Eliza Doolittle: Just you wait ‘enry ‘iggins. Just you wait.
My brain is Professor Higgins. Life is Professor Higgins. And just like Eliza Doolittle, I plan to show my brain and the world what’s up!

Categories: education, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

storytelling part three (classroom fun)

Thursday was about educating parents a little bit.
Sometimes I worry that they don’t understand why I don’t seem concerned that some of these kids can’t write their own names. Some of these kids can barely recognize their own names.
Guess what. That is OK!
Know why? It’s developmentally appropriate.
I don’t rush reading and writing.
I have a child in my class who can write her name but doesn’t know any of the letters in her name. Please tell me how that is remotely acceptable?
So I stick to my philosophy. Kids learn best through play, through authentic experience. They learn when their brains are developmentally ready to learn. And three and four year old brains (for the most part) are not designed to read and write.
Some of my kids can do both. Some of them can do neither. This is me explaining to parents why either one is going to be just fine.

(email title)
Do you know what we know?

We wrote a story today and guess what!?! There was no bloodshed! Nobody got eaten! No death! No destruction! No mayhem!
And guess what else? It kind of made Miss Robynbird a little bit sad. She realized she kind of likes it when we create a great story and then destroy it. And here’s why…

She doesn’t think we know this, she’s not sure you know this, but we are learning SO much when we write our own stories. (bloodshed and all)

We’re learning parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
(We mostly use the first four, but we’re big fans of conjunctions too.)
We’re learning basic parts of a sentence: subject, action, and sometimes an object. (Isn’t it great when the action is bloodshed?)
We’re touching on things like adverbs and adjectives, we’re exploring the ideas of conjunctions and prepositions.
We’re doing these things because we know every story has to have “subject” and often times we choose something familiar like a princess or a witch. A pronoun is when we say ‘she’ or ‘her’ or ‘they’ instead of ‘the witch’ or ‘the princess’.
Then we will talk about what that subject is doing which is the action.
Oftentimes there is an object, like a dragon, or shark. These can be subjects too, but we don’t really use them that way.
We use the words ‘then’ and ‘and’ a LOT and those are totally conjunctions. That means they hook the parts of sentences or stories together.
Sometimes then is a preposition too.
We’re not yet super awesome at verb tense, or pronoun perfection. We sometimes don’t quite get it exactly right, but we’re working on it, and we’re having SO much fun!

We’re not being told this is what we’re learning, but when we start a story with a queen and then half way through start saying princess, Miss Robynbird and Miss J remind us that there isn’t a princess in our story. This keeps us on track with our subject.
We sometimes forget where the story is taking place, too. We start out in the woods and then try to say that a shark comes. But we remind each other there isn’t any water in the woods for a shark to be.
This is real literacy!
It doesn’t look like elementary school grammar.
It isn’t us deconstructing sentences.
But it really is us learning.
We weren’t sure if you honestly knew that. We weren’t sure if Miss J and Miss Robynbird understood that we realized that.
We just wanted you to know that we know what’s up.
Now that we explained that cool stuff to you, wanna hear our story?

VS:
Once upon a time, a princess comed and a prince comed and a witch comed and and dragon too! And they loved bread so they ateV bread together.
EY:
The prince, and princess, and witch ride on the dragon to Wegmans to get more bread, chocolate chip bread. And they got grapes, and sushi, and broccoli, and tomatoes, then they went back home and ate all that.
DA:
They went to the baseball game and played with all the kids. Then the witch was flying her broom around. And they went to Target on their way home.
RC:
The witch put the princess in jail and they played basketball and after that, some tennis.
ZB:
Then the princess didn’t go to jail, but…what happened was, a big big monster came and the princess trapped the monster. And then the witch, prince, dragon and princess played some more.
SL:
They locked the monster, but he had a key. So, he got out of the trap and he made they breakfast and left. Then he went to Target and said goodbye to Target and go home.

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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