What’s Really Important?!

It has been brought to my attention lately about what constitutes a quality program.  Substance vs. Fluff.  Perception vs. Reality.  As a parent of a child who is looking for a good program in which to put your child, the question is “How do I recognize a quality program?  Because really, you can tell if it’s a bad program easily but it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between good and really good.

In our parent meetings, we tell the parents that having a lot of “stuff” coming home everyday does not mean that the program is meeting that quality marker.  Have you ever been inundated with busy work?  Is it always good?  Just because your child cranks out a bunch of papers or artwork and brings them home doesn’t mean that what was done in the classroom was beneficial to your child.  Just because you can hang their beautiful artwork on the wall or are sent a picture of your child holding a paper flower doesn’t mean that something worth while was happening in the classroom.

When our accreditation agencies and the Early Learning Coalitions come around to check on how our school is doing, over 80% of what they are looking for is interaction with the children.  Teacher/child interaction.

So, here are some things that I believe make a program one of quality.  I welcome you to come and check out our school and see how we measure up.

1.How does the staff greet you?

2.How much communication is going on between teacher and child and child to child.

3.How much exploring of their environment is allowed.

4. When you walk in the child’s classroom do you get a positive feeling about what is happening?

5.Are the teachers friendly with one another?.

6. As the children explore different mediums, (ie. paint, play doh, exploration table) is the child always directed by a teacher or allowed to explore on their own?

7. Do teachers and staff reach out to the parents through different forms of communication?

8. What are the ratios in the classroom?

9. Does the teacher show you that they love your child?

10. Is the administration transparent or are you left to wondering what’s going on?

And most of all…

9. Does the love of Jesus shine through the staff and spill over to the families?

Come by our center and check us out!  I’d love to give you a tour and show you around.


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Boundaries For Kids – Week 3

Wow, this boundaries class is really good.  I would highly recommend to parents to buy the book, Boundaries For Kids.  It is such a great tool to have in your parenting arsenal.  We’ve all said it before…we wished that children came with a “How to” manual.  Oh, but wait, there are many of those on the bookshelves at the store.  They just don’t come at the hospital when you take the baby home.  I know you are busy parents but the things in this book may save you a lot of pain and heartache when put into practice.  Now, on to what I’ve learned this week.

Motives drive our behaviors.  We ultimately want our children to WANT to do the right things for the right reason, not because we will punish them if they don’t.  Doing something to avoid punishment is a good motivator for a lot of things but having the moral character within is a better reason for most things in life.

Standing over our children and nagging them may win the battle but will lose the war.  Kids will only stay in line while you are watching.  External restraint must become a part of their character.  Behavior that is externally driven is the mark of a child, not a young adult.

Tactics like guilt or loss of relationship will end up hurting more than helping a situation.

How do you help your children develop good motivation?  First your child needs to be rooted and grounded in love.  Love first, set limits second.  Children can only grow when that connection is strong.  Be empathetic, Give support and provide balance.  This is what love means.

There are 4 stages of Motive Development

1 Fear of consequences – There are always consequences.  Lack of allowing your child to experience the consequences of their actions will keep them in the child stage when we really want them to mature and grow.  Stick with your boundaries, be fair but consistent and empathize with your child’s emotional reactions.  When a child expresses that he is only doing something to avoid punishment, praise him/her and then help them to the next step.

2. An Immature Conscience – The next step is a child beginning to internalize his experiences with his/her relationships and this begins to develop their conscience.  Your child is learning to be motivated to love and be good by internal forces, not just a swat on the behind.  Stay consistent, love them and be attentive to changes in their behavior.  If you are showing love, empathy and being supportive and balanced in your discipline, then a child will accept your boundaries and they will become theirs.

3. Values and Ethics – At some point, your child will begin to ask many value-laden questions.  Be prepared and ready to explain what you believe about how people should conduct themselves in the world.  Practice explaining the “why” in terms they will understand.  As your child begins to work out his/her own ethics, keep bringing them back to reality principles like, “That goes against what you and we believe”.

4. Mature Love, Mature Guilt – Our ultimate goal is getting a child to move from the ethical questions of right and wrong to the highest motive:  LOVE.  Never over-criticize or withdraw love from your child.  Children who are internalizing boundaries need to move beyond “this is wrong” to “This hurts others or God”.  Your role is to help them freely choose who and how to love and to freely love.

There are 3 motives for Good Behavior – Don’t undervalue any of the these motives.

1. Pain of consequences for irresponsibility

2. The “rights and wrongs” of behavior

3. What pain his/her actions may cause his friends and God.

Happy Parenting!!    – Mrs. T.

Boundaries For Kids – Week Two

Here’s the second in the installment of what I learned from my class.

There are 5 obstacles to effective Boundaries:

1. – Depending on the child.  As parents, we have to be careful of “needing” our children to fulfill our unmet needs.  This can cause a lot of problems for the child as they grow.  It can also lead to manipulation by the child, as they learn to get what they want by withholding their ability to meet the parents needs.  Parents need to find ways to have their needs met that don’t include their children if they want to grow healthy children.

2. – Over-identifying with the child.  A parent’s painful feelings are not always the child’s painful feelings.  When a child falls, it might be more traumatizing to the parent than to the child.  A child who doesn’t make the basketball team might not need a parent to talk with the coach.  Failing a test doesn’t mean the parent should intervene and get the teacher to ease up on the child.  Allow the child to determine the level of their need.  If we over-identify with the child, we may not be allowing a child to pick him or herself up after a defeat to move forward.  We may end up creating an adult who can’t handle their own problems.

3. – Thinking love and separateness are enemies.  As parents, we are going to disagree with our children.  It’s a given.  We are not going to like everything they like.  And we are going to have to confront them from time to time about their actions.  Doing this does not mean we don’t love them.  Love is always there no matter the circumstances.  We want to help create children who grow up to be adults who can stand their ground regardless of whether or not the world around them thinks they are wrong.  We want children who can think for themselves not because the parent is right beside them.

4. – Ignoring and zapping – You know how when we bottle up our feelings inside and then after a time we just can’t hold them in and we blow?  This is not a good way to deal with a child.  It ends up being worse than the situation demanded.  Dealing with the issue with your child right then is much better than pushing it back and back and then blowing up.  If we can get a handle on this, we will be raising children who can problem solve.

5. – Being worn down. This is a tough one.  How do we keep ourselves from being worn down, tired, stressed, beaten.  Well, if you figure this out, please let me know.  But somehow we have to find out what works for us because having kids and being worn down don’t go so well together.  Are there certain routines you can put in place that can give you some downtime so that you can be refreshed before dealing with the kids.  Even 15 minutes of resting your eyelids could help you deal with a tantrum.  Or giving the kids a 30 minute playground time before heading home from school might just give you and them the added de-stressor they need before dinner and homework.  Learning to do this and teaching your children to do this will help them as they become adults as they put these practices into their lives.

Happy parenting!  – Mrs. T.

Boundaries For Kids – Week One

Last week I took my first class in Boundaries For Kids and here are a few things that I learned.

We are the ones who help our children to develop character.  We want our children to be loving…responsible…free…initiating…respectful of reality…growing…oriented to truth…oriented to transcendence (to serve God rather than yourself).  And, you ask, how do we do all that?  Well, the answer is by giving our children good boundaries.  Saying No as well as Yes.  Allowing them to wait to gratify their desires.  Helping them to own their feelings, attitudes and behaviors.  Kids are blank slates.  Who is filling in those blanks?

You have 3 specific areas of influence:  1 – What you say – the boundaries that you try to teach your children   2.  What you do – the boundaries that your children see lived out every day in the home.   3. Allowing experience to lead to internalization – not always rescuing them from the consequences of their actions.

The 3 roles of a Parent

Guardian – providing a safe environement.   Manager – Making sure things get done.   Source – You are the source for all good things for a child.

There was so much more we learned and not enough time or space to write it all down.  Our second session is tonight.  There’s still time if you want to come to the class.  Wednesday nights at 6pm.  There’s still lots to learn.  Join us!

Keep working on those parenting skills.

My Faith Journey!

I realized that I have not yet told about my faith journey on my blog.  So here goes…

“Feelings, nothing more than feelings.”   Do you remember that old song?  Well, before I asked Christ into my life I was always trying to “feel” my way to faith.  I was a pretty good kid.  My dad was a preacher.  I was a typical kid, I had friends, loved to watch TV and play games.  I went to a church every Sunday and Youth group every Sunday night and we went to camp meetings in the summer at my grandparents house.  And whenever the Pastor gave an invitation to come forward to accept Christ into your life I went because I knew I wasn’t good enough to have Christ die for my sins.  I’d kneel down, cry my eyes out and feel an incredible high…for a few days or weeks afterwards.  But then I’d go back to doing the same old things, being selfish, prideful, going through the religious motions.  Then around the age of 13, I went to a Holy Spirit retreat.  There was this singing group that came to our church called The Good News Circle and they were awesome.  They invited our Youth group to this Holy Spirit retreat.  While I was there I heard these amazing people sing and tell their stories and I began to realize that it wasn’t about what I was feeling but about what Jesus did on the cross for me, that He took my place on that cross.  I also found out that it wasn’t about me and my great track record of church attendance or being a part of Youth group or going to camp meetings and singing in the choir.  It was all about a God who loved me.  And I learned that God would never leave me or forsake me even when the “high” wore off.  I realized that faith wasn’t about feelings but about knowing Jesus.  I John 5:13 – I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

And now I am confident that Christ lives within me and loves me and everyday I am more eager to do His will and not what I feel is right.  I try to let Christ lead because I’ve learned to put my trust in Him and not my feelings.  I don’t always do it right.  I’m still growing and at times I fail but I KNOW now, not FEEL that God will help me through just like He said he would in His word.  I struggled a lot in high school about all of the things Christian kids struggle with, peer pressure, loving myself, finding out who I was in Christ but things were different because I had begun to realize Who I needed to look to when I was struggling.  I feel like my life has been a gradual climb to trust in God.  These days I go to God a lot faster than I’ve done before when problems arise.  It doesn’t take me long to lay out the problem at the feet of Jesus.  That still doesn’t mean I don’t take the problems back or always make the right choices.  Sometimes I forget to listen to God’s still small voice because I get busy and crowd God out of my life.  But my relationship to Christ is so close now that it’s not long before I turn to Him and rest in His love.  Jesus is everything to me.  So that song “Feelings”?  is just a song now and not the way I live.  Because I know that I know that I know that my Redeemer lives.

Process vs. Product – why is it important?

The staff at Aloma recently revisited the topic of Process vs. Product.  If you’re not familiar with what this means, let me just say that when you’re talking about Preschoolers it usually means that the artwork or thing that you are producing either looks like a child made it or it looks like a teacher made it.  That’s it in a nutshell.  If you are talking about penguins and they actually look like a representation of a penguin then you can probably be sure that it was fashioned and manipulated by an adult.  But if the thing sort of, maybe, kind of looks like a penguin, maybe…then it is probably made by a child.

You may ask why is this important and why are we talking about this?  It is VERY important and it is something that all parents should be aware of so they can continue to implement it throughout a child’s life.

Let me ask you how you learned to use a computer?  Or an IPad or your Smart phone?  Did someone show you how?  Did you follow instructions?  Or did you fool around with it and figure things out as you went along.  Probably a combination of both, right?  We learn by doing.  Even if someone showed you how to do something you probably had to do it a couple of times to remember it and to get it right.  You had to practice to remember it and sink it into your mind so that you wouldn’t forget it.

Well, that’s exactly what process means in this context.  Allowing the children to figure things out, choose their art mediums for themselves and come up with their interpretation of what a “penguin” looks like.  Now, of course, some things you may have to give them a little instruction and help with in order for them to succeed but for the most part, it’s “hands off, adults”.

Why, you might ask?   Because ultimately you are trying to raise  your child so that they can stand up for themselves and what they believe in.  So, they can express themselves confidently when others challenge their interpretations.  So that when they walk into an interview with a prospective new boss they will be able to present themselves in a way in which that boss will look at the candidate and see how they could be an asset to their company.

So, next time your child looks up at you, whether it is doing an art project in Preschool, working on homework in elementary or tackling an essay for mid-hi or high school, and asks “Is this okay, mom/dad?”  Respond by saying, “What do you think?”

Let’s all work together to raise the next generation of movers and shakers!



Surprise, Surprise!

Does anyone remember Gomer Pyle?  He always said that phrase, Surprise, Surprise!  Usually it wasn’t accompanied by a very good surprise, unfortunately.

Recently I had something happen here at the school and it was a great surprise.  It was such a surprise to me that I was in awe of how it happened.  I was also a little disappointed in myself because I wasn’t able to see the answer come about the way it did.  As a Christian, I couldn’t imagine that God would bring about the answer in that way.  And then as I acknowledged that I was limiting the power of God, I was even more disappointed in myself.  How dare I limit God.  His power is so unimaginable.  In the Bible it says that He wants us to know how deep, how wide, how long and how high his love is for us and that His power is vast, beyond our comprehension.  I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself since the Bible says it is beyond our human understanding.  But still in my humanness I should be able to know that there are no boundaries to what God can do.

Well, the reason I decided to write this in my blog this time was because I was thinking about my last article, Secret to Success, and I feel that this sort of equates to raising successful children.  Are you confused?  Stay with me as I make the connection.

God is our heavenly Father and he loves His children with a vast love, as I indicated above.  As a parent, the same is true.  We love our children with an incredible love that sometimes knows no bounds, right?  We would do anything we could for our children within our power.  And yet I see parents who put limits on what their child can do.  They sometimes talk right in front of them as if they aren’t even there, thinking the child isn’t listening, as they tell someone about their failures or lack of skills, motivation or capability.  Without realizing it, the parent is limiting the child by not believing that they can overcome the obstacles in their path and excel beyond what the parent can imagine.  Just like we limit God because we can’t imagine what He can do, parents sometimes limit their children because they can’t imagine that their child could excel beyond the parent’s limited knowledge.  Or sometimes we as parents limit our children because we never could get beyond that next step.  But a child has such wonderful capabilities of doing and being who God created them to be if we only step back, give encouragement and guidance and let them go.  Just like us looking at God and not comprehending that He is more than capable of exceeding our expectations, we sometimes look at  our children and we can’t comprehend that they are more than capable of exceeding our expectations.

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So, another secret to success is to allow our children to be the person God created them to be and not the person that we “see” them to be.  So, as the song says, “Let it go”.  Let go of what you think should happen and stand back and watch what God can do in the life of your child.  By the way, this works in your grown up life too.

Keep honing those parenting skills and see what God can do!