Summer 2020 Online Class: Register Now

Understanding Children: Creating and Enhancing Learning Environments

Join a community of online learners. We all benefit from community and connection. 2020 has made remote learning and home learning a necessity. We’re currently registering for the online course Understanding Children, which starts June 29, 2020. Every quarter we have a different focus, and this summer we’ll be examining creating remote learning environments and enhancing home learning opportunities. 

The class is 5 credits and consists of weekly readings/videos, online class discussions, and occasional shorts essays. It’s appropriate for parents, teachers, early childhood professionals, caregivers and others with children in their lives-infant through young adult.

Topics will include:

  • How children learn in different settings (home/remote)
  • Adapting learning environments during COVID-19 (for parents and teachers)
  • Activity/play-based learning and
  • Strategies for avoidance, power struggles and fatigue

The course number is FAM 184 and the link to register is https://mynorth.seattlecolleges.edu/

Summer 2020 Understanding Children flyer

Broadview Cooperative Preschool Teacher Position

Preschool Teacher Opening at Broadview Co-op Preschool 

Broadview Co-op Preschool seeks a nurturing, motivated, and creative teacher to join our cooperative preschool community to lead our 3 to 5 year age class.   

Application deadline:  May 26, 2020. 

Position available to start September 2, 2020. 

Schedule:

  • The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. 
  • Additional hours include setup, breakdown, monthly evening meetings
  • Nine work months per year
  • Follows Seattle Public School calendar for holidays.

Desired Skills/Qualifications:

  • Prior experience teaching preschool, experience in co-op is preferred 
  • Degree in Early Childhood Education, Bachelor degree preferred 
  • Compassionate, community-oriented teacher 
  • Comfortable working with children and parents in a cooperative classroom setting 
  • Ability to build rapport with children in a positive and patient manner.
  • Promotes positive social skills, emotional growth, and anti-bias curriculum strong commitment and intentions to develop and promote positive communication and relationships with families and fellow teachers. 
  • Has a strong commitment to promoting positive communication and relationships with families and fellow teachers

We offer: 

  • A competitive salary that covers attendance at parent, board, and other school meetings  
  • A large open classroom with a wonderful inventory of supplies and equipment 
  • Small class ratio 1:5 (with working parents in classroom) 
  • Opportunities for professional development 
  • A great location in Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood, just off Greenwood Ave. N.

Position Specifics: 

The teacher works closely with children and their parents in the classroom.  The teacher provides appropriate lessons and activities in an environment for children to grow emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically.  

The teacher provides parents with direction and serves as a model for working with young children. Broadview Co-op Preschool is affiliated with North Seattle College (NSC). NSC provides a Parent Education Instructor for the class and parenting information to co-op parents.  

Duties include: 

  • Plan and implement a developmentally-appropriate curriculum that includes a variety of first-hand experiences to enhance and encourage child development, all in a predictable but flexible schedule that allows for a balance of active and quiet play.  
  • Share and communicate curriculum with parents on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis via email, in person, and in newsletter/blog.  Orient parents to the role of assistant teacher.  Supervise parents in the daily operation of the classroom. 
  • Collaborate with other Broadview Preschool Teacher to create a curriculum that enables children to build skills and experiences from year to year as they move through Broadview’s 3- or 4-year program. 
  • Collaborate with the Broadview All School Board (ASB) to promote a healthy, highly functioning, thriving community and co-op that enhances the lives of all participants.  
  • Manage materials and resources for the children’s activities and make recommendations to the board for purchasing equipment and supplies for the school. 
  • Work and consult with the North Seattle College (NSC) Parent Education Instructor to operate a high-quality, child-centered program. 
  • Serve as a team member, along with the Instructor and child’s parent, to develop individual goals for the child. 
  • Lead beginning-of-year school visits to orient each child and parent. 
  • Attend monthly board and parent meetings (which usually occur in the evenings). 
  • Participate in school events (usually 4-5 each year). 
  • Attend to light administrative duties, including writing teacher evaluations for children applying to other schools. 
  • Develop a yearly professional development plan to share with the Parent Education instructor and the All School Board.  Attend workshops, classes, and/or observe in other programs to increase teaching skills. 
  • Oversees compliance with the Health and Safety Guidelines as indicated in the Risk Management Manual. 
  • Submit to ADA requirements, including being able to lift and carry 35-60 lbs. 
  • CPR & First Aid Certified or receive NSC Certification via the college’s CPR/First Aid class. 
  • Pass Washington State background check. 

How to apply: 

To apply, please email the following to our Hiring Committee at broadviewteacherhire@gmail.com

  • Cover letter 
  • Resume 
  • The names and phone numbers of three professional references 

For more information: 

For more information about Broadview Co-op Preschool school, please visit us online at https://broadviewcooppreschool.com/ and at our preschool’s blog at https://www.facebook.com/broadviewcooppreschool/

Parent Impostor Syndrome

Parent Impostor Syndrome

By Tania Hino

I\’m doing just fine!     You suck!     They are better     Stop!

Give up…     You\’re not patient     Nobody likes you

You are a fake!     I don\’t know….     Idiot! 

I am messing up my kids???

Do you ever feel like you do not know what you’re doing with your kids? Do you feel like you do not have enough patience? Do you feel like you are not as good as the other parents? Do you feel like you are supposed to enjoy being a parent all the time but you are not? Do you feel like you are an impostor when you are serving on the board? Do you ever worry that you are not the best co-op parent or that you do not know how to be a co-op parent? Have you had any of these feelings?

These feelings are more common than you think and you are not alone. All parents feel that way about their parenting at one time or another. It’s even harder now than ever before with Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, parenting books and social media in general. You are only seeing what’s being portrayed on the outside and this gives you the sense that you are the only one who is suffering. It is impossible to be a Perfect Parent. Perfect Parentsdo not exist. These feelings are natural. It’s called Impostor Syndrome and we all have this syndrome one time or another.

Let’s define impostor syndrome: Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one\’s accomplishments. Clance and Imes defined impostor phenomenon as an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness (fraud).

Over the years, I personally doubted myself many times while raising my children. Even to this day, it crosses my mind periodically. I’ve wondered – Am I messing up my children? Should I be reading more parenting books? Self-talk doubts go on and on…

Many times I will question myself, am I a good parent? I will also compare myself to others and this will trigger more doubts about my parenting. To make matters worse, I started working part-time. The feeling of impostor syndrome multiplied on both ends of my two jobs (as a mother and a paid employee). I had several doubts as to – am I good enough to do both of my jobs? Maybe my kids and life partner need me more at home.

These are natural feelings and everyone at one point or another feels like an impostor in regards to being a parent, at one’s job or while working on a project etc. This feeling is totally normal and affects everyone. However, women and people of color or disadvantaged communities tend to have more of the impostor syndrome feelings in more areas of their lives. For example, a single mom working two jobs to make ends meet may feel much worse than a well off married couple.

Here is how I deal with my impostor syndrome:

BE REAL ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS – it is okay to feel like you do not belong or you are not enough. Accepting your own feelings is the first step.

FIND YOUR STRENGTHS make a list of what you are good at (i.e. at your work/particular project etc.)

FIND YOUR CHALLENGES this is a hard one, but be kind to yourself. Make a list of what areas you’d like to improve in regards to your parenting, projects/work etc.

IDENTIFY RESOURCES in the areas where you need improvement.

LEARN HOW TO DO IT read books, articles, watch Ted Talks, etc.

WHO CAN GIVE YOU SUPPORT Find a support group, a non-judgmental parent or a person who listens to you when you are feeling vulnerable and vice versa.

TALK TO YOUR SELF LIKE YOU WOULD TALK TO OTHERS be kind to yourself and think about what kind of advice you would give to your friend if they were feeling vulnerable. Give yourself that advice.

PRACTICE THE TOOLS LEARNED practice the tools you have learned with patience and kindness. Make sure you are consistent with the tools for at least 4 weeks to see results. 

In reality, we all feel like we do not know enough when it comes to raising our kids – which is true, and that’s good enough. Just be kind to yourself and be ready to feel vulnerable. Acknowledging your impostor syndrome and accepting that you are not perfect will not only help you, it will teach your kids that it’s okay to be imperfect.

Tania Hino is a Parent Educator and MSW, LICSW.

REFERENCES:

Clance, Pauline Rose. (1985) The Impostor Phenomenon: Overcoming the Fear That Haunts Your Success. Peachtree Pub Ltd

Articulating our Family Values

Articulating Our Family Values

By Annie Garrett, M.Ed.

How do you create a positive culture?

What is the reason for your existence?

What purpose do you serve?

For me, questions like these conjure up memories of workplace retreats, trust falls, and “yay team” sorts of motivational talks. They are the types of guiding questions that formal groups- nonprofits, corporations, etc- may turn to as they seek to establish a shared vision. Interestingly, they are also the types of questions that an increasing number of families are asking themselves as they seek to jointly define their values and their expectations. In The Montessori Toddler, a 2019 national bestseller, author Simone Davies encourages families to formulate “ground rules” or “a list of family values framed on the living room wall” (Davies 2019 p. 121). She shares the following example:

  • We are kind to each other
  • We sit at the table to eat
  • We contribute to the household
  • We engage in rough play by mutual consent

As the parent of a toddler and a parent educator to toddler families, I do a lot of thinking about how families set limits. This is important and necessary and taxing, at least in the short term. Perhaps it is this thinking that makes Davies’ suggestion to think about limits in the context of values so appealing to me. Refreshing, even. How do we get clear on our limits? Davies states that parents she meets in Montessori workshops typically “…don’t have any ground rules at all. This means we are mostly just winging it- making it up on the spot. This can be difficult to keep track of, for us and definitely for our toddler. Imagine if they changed the rules for traffic lights and some days the red light meant “stop” and on other days it meant “go”. No wonder toddlers get mixed messages when we change our minds” (Davies 2019 pp 121-122)  

As I reflected on limits, I also began to ask a deeper question: What ends do these limits ultimately serve, anyways? Could we go beyond ground rules to create a more enduring manifesto, of sorts? I thought back to various family mottoes I’d come across over the years. I recalled that one of the families I most admire uses a three-part maxim: “We are caring, compassionate, and competent”.  Simple and seemingly effective. The family has stayed exceptionally close-knit and purposeful while raising a total of 5 healthy, happy children and grandchildren over the past four decades. I also recalled the more poetic saying taught to children and parents in the Unitarian Universalist community with which I’ve long been affiliated: “We are Unitarian Universalists with minds that think, hearts that love, and hands that are willing to serve.” With hand motions to accompany, children learn this phrase young and I’ve seen many live into it over time. 

Feeling inspired, I proposed the idea of creating an original manifesto to my partner. He chuckled as he claimed he was not surprised that I, a program manager by training, would try to attach a mission statement to our family.  But he agreed to take a stab at it, and so the family manifesto began. As the daughter of a scientist, I can admittedly be guilty of relying so heavily on research that I overlook that little inner voice: intuition. As I began to study family manifestos, I noticed that most writing on this subject fell into two camps, with families inspired either by corporate culture or by creed/religion. Under the corporate umbrella, I found step-by-step instructions with brainstorming activities, worksheets, and full how-to books, with businessman Stephen R. Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families lead amongst them. On the religions end of the spectrum, I found that inspiration is taken from God and religious text may be quoted. The deeper I got into my research, the more I realized that neither the corporate nor the creed-based approach spoke to me. The opposite, in fact. My husband and I both work in public service and lean more toward humanist than theist. I realized that it was actually the non-hierarchical, secular condition of our family that drew me to the concept of the family manifesto. In the relative absence of structure, a family is at risk of feeling more like a collection of individuals than a unit. And when our motivations and needs as individuals are in conflict- as they so often are when we are parenting young children- frustration and loneliness can result. I would argue that today, a family is largely an enterprise of the soul. In a post-agrarian society, few of us need children for survival. And in an increasingly secular society, less of us are having children for religious purposes. And so if it is love and joy that motivates us to form families, then you might say it is soul that unites us. Alas, I realized that <gasp>, I might have to buck the research and rely on intuition after all as I form a family manifesto.  And so, these questions emerged:

How can our family cultivate love and respect for one another?

How can our family live joyfully together?

How can our family work together to leave the world a little better than we found it?  

These simple questions are our starting point. We will hang something on the wall but the one thing we know for sure is this: for us, it will be written in pencil. For now, it will also have crayon doodles around it. Our daughter is growing and developing right alongside us, after all. 

What do you think—would your family benefit from articulating its values? What questions motivate you? Would you write it in pen or pencil? Maybe in song, or maybe on Twitter in size 11 Times New Roman font? Whatever form your family values may take, written or unwritten, may you enduringly find a way to live your values together. 



Annie Garrett is a Parent Educator with Cooperative Preschools and Manager of the Early Childhood Education Program at North Seattle College.

REFERENCES

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families: Building a Beautiful Family Culture in a Turbulent World. New York: Golden Books, 1997.

Davies, Simone. The Montessori Toddler: A Parent\’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being. New York: Workman Publishing, 2019.

Samantha Power. The Education of an Idealist. New York: Dey Street Books, 2019.

Protecting Routine During the Holiday Season

child plays with trains

Protecting Routine during the Holiday Season

By Kristin Church, Parent Educator

This time of year can be a lot of fun and very exciting for young children. It can also be challenging for parents as we try to strike a balance between holiday activities and bedtimes and routines.

Here a few different philosophies to help this busy season go more smoothly. Perhaps one will resonate with you or you might think of another option:

  • You don’t generally worry about routine anyhow. The holiday season is no exception. Acknowledge that this is a family value and own it. All values come with risks and rewards.
  • Choose to compromise routine for a few events. The memories for your children and friends and family are worth it. Acknowledge that this option will likely have over-tired kids (and adults). Some middle ground ideas are having one night of a “splurge” from routine followed by one or two days of rest and a greatly reduced schedule. All compromises come with risks and rewards.
  • Don’t yield the routine at all. It is important for his year to get kid(s) and adult(s) into bed. Know that this option means you or your partner (or both) may miss out of some family or company bonding. Acknowledge that this is a family value and it comes with pros and cons. All values come with risks and rewards.
  • Choose to compromise the routine consistently because this season too, shall pass. Acknowledge you may have to rework some routines you had set up. The pros outweigh the cons.

I can think of plenty of situations as both a parent, and parent educator where I might have chosen any of these options or maybe even one not listed. It’s my belief that there is not a deep rulebook for parenting (kindness, play, car seats, and infants sleeping on their back are high on my list).

The Holiday Season of 2019 will be exactly what it is: one holiday season, for one year. I hope you feel empowered to choose whatever road makes the most sense for your family, at this time.

Building a More Thankful Family

holding hands

Building a More Thankful Family

By Katie Gruver, Co-Founder & Parent Educator at Positive Parenting Seattle

Along with crunchy autumn leaves, pumpkin spice everything and holiday trips to overeat while spending time with family and friends, this time of year gets many of us thinking about gratitude. And while the banal hashtag #blessed might have us rolling our eyes as we scroll Instagram, the research keeps rolling in that creating a habit of mindfully expressing gratitude not only brings about measurably greater happiness, but also consistently better health outcomes.

Those seem like things we can all get behind.

That being said… somewhere, especially in our dealings with children, the spirit of thankfulness and deep appreciation gets muddled. We nag at our kids to “Say thank you!” before they’ve had the chance to open up in a recent gift. We worry that their inability to make it through the grocery store without begging for the toy they “really really NEED!” means they’re unappreciative or greedy. We share a sigh as we realize that now WE are the ones telling our children stories about how bad we had it as kids (“Back in our day, we didn’t have Netflix. We had to actually get up and change the channel by HAND, AND we had to sit through commercials!”) in the hopes that they’ll express some gratitude for the improved life we’re giving them.

It’s easy to get stuck in the fear and not see the opportunity.

What we know about gratitude (and its benefits) is that it is not a single act, but rather a practice… a routine if you will. And we know that modeling and practicing new skills and routines are at the heart of almost every parent-child (or teacher-child) relationship.  

Trade “Good job” for “Thank you”:

Many schools and homes are stuck in a pattern of congratulating children over small tasks or expected behaviors, when what we really mean is “Thank you.” Save the “good jobs” for when they’ve done something truly exemplary, and swap it out for something much more meaningful: “Thank you”. Giving thanks to your child and appreciating their hard work and effort helps them feel seen and loved. “Good job” merely praises an activity and can fall a little flat (was it really good or merely what you had asked them to do), and leave our kids just seeking more and more verbal gold stars for behavior.

Instead of “Good job climbing into your car seat” try: “Thank you. That was so helpful to have you climb in!”

Instead of “Good job getting dressed this morning” try: “Thank you for getting dressed all by yourself today. I can see that you’re really growing up. ”

Instead of “Good job cleaning up your puzzle” try: “Thanks for cleaning up. That’s such a big help for our family. Now we have space for something new!” 

Modeling Gratitude in Daily Errands:

Thank the check out clerk. Thank the barista. Thank the person at the post office. You should do this anyway, but definitely do it when your child is with you… and you can also encourage your child to also say (or sign) “thank you” as part of your habit of interacting with others who have given you a service.

You can wonder outloud to your child: “Wow, I wonder how many coffees our barista has made today? I sure am thankful they were able to make my coffee and your steamed milk. And did you notice how quick they were? We barely had to wait!” This type of active in-the-moment gratitude for the daily grind of life helps our kids not only pay attention and notice others who are helping them, but establish a family value and routine around the giving of thanks AND the paying attention to the “little things” of life. It’s easy to be on your phone or

Surprise them (and others) with gratitude notes

Even if they’re not reading yet, leaving them a note on their pillow or in their lunch box of love and appreciation is such a gracious touch. Letting them feel what that appreciation feels like in themselves will help them know how to give it back to others.

Make a practice of thank you notes

After birthdays or other celebrations where gifts were given, encourage your little ones to draw a picture or dictate you a note about why they liked it and to say thank you. Thank you letters don’t have to be restricted to gifts though. Many children are naturally generous hearted, and you can encourage this by every time they’re speaking fondly of a cousin, neighbor, teacher or friend… you can invite them to make a picture or send a thank you note of love and appreciation to those they care about. This practice of snail-mailing our gratitude and love is NOT a completely lost art and is certainly one that leaves most children feeling very proud of themselves and even more apt to notice all the little kindnesses done for them.

Incorporate gratitude or “appreciations” into meal times

Many families do “rose and a thorn” or something similar at family meal times where they talk about one nice thing and one not-so-nice thing that happened to them that day. You could add to this routine by taking a page out of a traditional family meeting practice and start doing family appreciations. How it works is this: Every family members says an appreciation (something they’re grateful for or that they love) about EVERY other family member and themselves. This takes some practice, and for very young kids, they may just sign or say “thank you” or “I love you”. But starting a practice of actively appreciating your family members AND yourselves is a wonderful thing to teach.

For example, at a recent family dinner, some of my family’s appreciations sounded like: “Mom, I appreciate about you that you made this dinner, and you helped me find my red headband.” “I appreciate about myself that I am working hard to learn minus-ing.” “I appreciate about you (child) that you invited me to play with you and we had that very fun wrestling match.” Other fun ways to incorporate gratitude could be:

  • Making a paper chain of things you appreciate with one item written on each paper link (daily/weekly etc.)
  • Start a gratitude jar. Family members can add things to it as they wish, or you can take time every day/week to add to it together.
  • At bedtime, as you’re tucking the kids in, talk about what you’re grateful for, or listing 3 things that make you feel thankful
  • Use “Surprise Sticky Notes” – I think of this like guerilla gratitude. Give family members (or classmates) a post it and have them write (or write for them) something they appreciate about someone else. Then they post it somewhere that person will find it later!

So, the next time you’re thinking that your child isn’t really “getting” what it means to be thankful or that you’re worried that they’re spoiled with all the bounty that comes from living in the modern world…take a moment to check in to see if there might be some more opportunities not only for you to genuinely appreciate them but to also build some family routines around gratitude that make EVERYONE feel more seen, heard and loved.

For more reading, check out this article by Sarina Natkin: “Gifts and Gratitude – Helping Kids Appreciate the Holiday Season

Spring into Fall!

children play

Spring into Fall!

Starting school (even co-op) can be a big challenge for many children. Here are some tips to get your year off to a more peaceful year:

  • Arrive to school with plenty of time to get things dropped off, children signed in, etc. Don’t come before the Teacher recommends, but coming in once the day has begun can be really upsetting to many children. Think about your child’s temperament – many might do best to be one of the first children there as it gives them time to settle in and get ready for their work…play! It is also really important to your teacher that you arrive on time if you are a working parent for that day. 
  • Be prompt about pick-ups. Looking up from closing circle and not seeing mom or dad (or whoever is picking up) can be frightening for children. If you come too early though, we might put you to work. 🙂
  • Think high-protein breakfasts. If you have an early riser, make like a hobbit and maybe do a second breakfast in the car or during the walk in. These guys are working hard and they get hungry, fast. 
  • If getting out the door on time is challenging, set things out the night before. Have a consistent place for school items. If getting dressing is the time suck, have them sleep in their school clothes for the next day at night. 
  • While not always the case, many of your kids will be very overwhelmed with what is going on at the start of school. Try to keep evenings and weekends low-key and predictable until it seems like everyone has adjusted some (parents too!). 
  • Consider a family “tradition” of some sort of forum to debrief about everyone’s day (highs and lows at dinner, best part of the day at bedtime (this is not the best time for all kids), sharing something surprising, drawing, two truths and a lie).
  • Finally, go easy on yourself and your child. Even our most intentional and thoughtful plans or ideas for the fall may or may not be what our children needed. Our role as parents and caregivers to provide loving consistency to our children; a soft place to meltdown or fall apart as our children adjust to their new normal for this school year. Fall is a hard time for many but we all know as parents that these challenges too, will pass.

April PAC Newsletter

Our April PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Education Instructor Rebecca Hoyt.

Tuning into the Senses for Emotional Regulation

Author: Rebecca Hoyt

Think of the many ways in which emotional and physical experiences are intertwined. There is the thrill of cresting a hill of a roller coaster and the heady mix of terror and exhilaration as you race down. Some people are rewarded with feelings of joy after intense physical exertion. Hunger can make the mellowest of people irritable and grouchy. A sharp pain may make you lash out with anger before you realize the physical sensation of pain. This powerful connection between our physical and emotional selves allows us to use one in order to activate or soothe the other.

Using sensory activities can help improve general well-being throughout the day, especially during times of emotional dysregulation. This is certainly true for children who need playful, non-threatening sensory experiences to enhance their ease and comfort in the world. A tight bear hug can help a child enter a situation in which he normally feels anxious. Jumping on a trampoline not only releases energy, but can fill a child with a sensation of centeredness that continues after the jumping stops. Spinning in circles can help a child activate his parasympathetic nervous system or brake pedal when he’s feeling overwhelmed.

Occupational Therapists often talk about a “sensory diet,” taking in the necessary sensory experiences to feel at ease within our bodies so we can better handle both the internal and external demands we encounter throughout the day. Tuning into your child’s sensory needs is another powerful tool you can use to make for more enjoyable moments with your child.

There are three ways to think about incorporating sensory experiences into your child’s day to support his feeling of equanimity throughout the day.

  • Daily Sensory Experiences:​ things like physical play, jumping, play-doh, water play, dancing can all be sprinkled throughout your day to maintain equilibrium.
  • Planned Breaks:​ is there a time of day or particular events that are often difficult for your child? Think about transition times, coming home from school, anxiety before the babysitter comes. Sometimes providing deeply satisfying sensory experiences can help positively vent those feelings that accumulate during the day. Providing kids with sanctioned sensory sessions reduces the emotional load they may be holding onto.
  • Meltdown Sensory Support:​ when your child is flooded with big emotions, using sensory input can help your child more quickly regulate his emotions.

When introducing sensory activities into your routine, you must pay attention to your children for signs of distress or discomfort and stop immediately.

Types of Sensory Input and Activity Ideas

Proprioception​ ​is the sense of the relative position of parts of the body in relation to other parts of the body. It includes ​the sense of effort, the sense of force, and the sense of heaviness with which we grade our movements. Proprioception uses receptors located in the skin, muscles and joints to build the internal sense of our bodies or the knowledge that our body belongs to us and not someone else.

Proprioceptive Input​ is the best source of sensory input to help with sensory modulation & emotion regulation. It helps with the release of serotonin, which contributes to the regulation of many central nervous system processes – mood, sleep, anxiety, appetite, aggression, and memory. It also helps release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates our pleasure and reward systems. Kids who bite, pinch, head-bang, chew on clothing, give tight hugs may be seeking proprioceptive or deep pressure input to increase serotonin levels to a calming level. Proprioceptive input can be provided through resistance activities, weight bearing activities, moving heavy items, or more passive experiences like deep pressure.

Proprioceptive Activities:

  • Burrito: Roll your child snugly in a blanket and use gentle pressure to add “cheese,” “salsa,” etc.
  • Sandwich: Have your child lie on a cushion and place another on top. Press with gentle pressure.
  • Steamroller: Have your child lie on his stomach and roll an exercise ball or foam roller on your child’s trunk, legs, and arms.
  • Jump: Have your child jump on a mini-tramp or a mattress or the couch.
  • Partner Row: Two people sit criss cross facing each other. Reach out and hold hands in front of your bodies and begin to alternately push and pull so your upper bodies rock forward and backward with each motion, like you’re rowing a boat.
  • Applying deep pressure to shoulders/arms
  • Tight bear hugs
  • Crawl on hands and knees or belly
  • “Crashing” into large cushion
  • Warm bath with gentle scrubbing washcloth
  • Playful wrestling
  • Swimming

The​ Vestibular System ​is the master controller of our movement, balance and spatial orientation. It can be thought of as our ability, desire, or avoidance to move through space.

Vestibular Input​ can provide powerful and long lasting centering sensations as it ​coordinates movements of the eyes, head and body. This can affect our balance, muscle tone, visual-spatial perception, auditory-language perception and emotional security. Kids who seek movement, spin, can’t sit still, hang upside down on couches and chairs may be seeking vestibular input. A child who dislikes swinging, holds on tight when going up stairs, dislikes being hung upside down may be trying to avoid vestibular input. Often, children who are in a state of high arousal prefer predictable, rhythmic, slow movement/touch. Fast, unpredictable, and arrhythmic inputs can be useful for “activating” kids in low states of energy.

Vestibular Activities:

  • Swing: Encourage her to swing on playground swings, trying various types of swings and movements, such as front to back and side to side.
  • Spin: Spin using a Sit n’ Spin or office chair. Hold your child’s arm and spin in a circle as he lifts off the ground, or play airplane by holding one of his arms and the leg on the same side of his body as you spin in place.
  • Get upside down: Position your child on the couch or chair so her feet are above her head to hang upside down.
  • Rock and Roll: Sit crisscross with your child on your lap and start by rolling backward onto your back. Then, using your legs and abs, roll back up to sitting again. Repeat this motion, rolling forward and backward like a boat on the waves. Have kids try it independently: sitting with knees bent (feet on the floor in front of them), they can roll down onto their backs and then up to sitting.
  • Standing Sway: Stand facing your child holding both hands out in front (stand about a foot apart). Slowly extend your arms, the child keeping his body straight and leaning backward and then pull the child gently back toward you. Repeat this rowing motion.
  • Bouncing on a yoga ball
  • Rocking in a rocking chair
  • Going down a slide
  • Somersaults
  • Magic carpet (drag the child around the floor on a blanket-depending on child’s needs use different planes of movement, side to side, spin)
  • Hammock (can use a large blanket held on each end by an adult. Swing the child in side to side or from front to back)

The ​Tactile System ​refers to ​how we interpret the information we get from the receptors on our skin. It is the first of our senses to develop as an infant.

Tactile Input:​ ​There is a relationship between touch and the emotional centers in the brain. The right kind of touch has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. It can also stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding. Children who are sensitive to tactile input may avoid getting their hands or face messy, including activities like finger painting and playing in the sand. Seams in socks, scratchy labels in clothing, and certain materials may be difficult to tolerate. Other children may have the opposite experience, seeking out more tactile input to give their bodies what they need. These children love to touch and be touched. They crave hugs, sit very closely to another person, and seek out different textures and touch experiences. They may seem more settled when they can fiddle with objects – rubbing them, turning them over and over, squeezing them.

Tactile Activities:

  • Deep touch is calming, while light touch can feel alerting
  • Water play
  • Sand play
  • Shaving cream play
  • Play Doh/Slime
  • Finger painting
  • Sensory bins
  • Brushing hair
  • Water beads
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Back rubs
  • Access to blankets of different textures
  • Squishy balls to fidget with

For More Information:

The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Kranowitz The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Health.Harvard.edu
Theinspiredtreehouse.com

 

Rebecca Hoyt
Parent Education Instructor
North Seattle College

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March PAC Newsletter

Our March PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Education Instructor Mary Ann Abbott.

The “Perks” and “Downsides” of Parenting

Author: Mary Ann Abbott

Let’s face it!  Parenting is one of the most demanding jobs in the world. It can be an exhausting and emotionally draining responsibility. It’s easy to be so frustrated, mad, and discouraged that you wonder why you gave the nod to parenthood in the first place.

Then, the reverse is also true. It can be the most wonderful experience, one of those “other world” moments! You wonder how life could be any better as you cuddle with that “angelic being” who can do no wrong –and around whom your whole world revolves.

Let’s also face the fact that parenting never stops. It’s unrelenting. It’s a 24/7 responsibility.  And, when the job begins, you are in for the long haul – at least 18 years or more. Probably more! Empty nest parents say parenting never ceases – one just learns to parent differently, and very, very carefully! And, sometimes, grown children return and stay and stay and stay.

Finding the best way(s) to parent can also be a challenge!  There’s the advice from well meaning grandparents and “in-laws!”  How about the concerns of “auntie” who’s an expert in child development? Or the clerk in the grocery store who commented, “Doesn’t he ever run down?”  When these well-intentioned “hints” mix with the parent’s own conscientious nature, it can produce a brittle, uptight, and insecure parent who’s still wondering how to do it right.

We hear guidelines from the Positive Parenting experts, the Love and Logic folks, and even the Parent Educator at Pre-School! And, one more check from the multi-sourced internet. Lots of information out there!


So, how does a conscientious parent find “truth” about how to parent? 

A few tips may help:

  1. Relax and enjoy your child. Being a parent is about creating a relationship with your child.   The connection you have with your child is unique. Celebrate together! Focus on what draws you to each other.
  2. Take care of yourself. What is it that will bring energy and balance to you? It’s okay to pamper yourself now and again. Summer is coming!
  3. Select a few family values which are really important to you and let them guide you in day-to-day situations. Yes, you may do some homework on parenting ideas, but keep a simple focus, even when those “hints” come your way.
  4. Give yourself some credit: parenting is a big responsibility! When you make   mistakes, there’s always tomorrow.  Children are very forgiving and resilient.  It’s the relationship that’s important. Children will respond to the genuine love, even an apology, of a parent.
  5. Believe in yourself.  You know your child. You may learn new things, but trust yourself in your quest to be a loving, responsive parent.

Parenting is a complicated experience. Being honest with yourself about your family is a simple beginning for a lifetime.

Remember these words: Parenting is one of the most demanding jobs in the world, but it can also be one of the most satisfying of life’s experiences! Enjoy the ride, bumps and all!

Mary Ann Abbott
Parent Education Instructor
North Seattle College

 

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February PAC Newsletter

Our February PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Education Instructor Kristin Church.

Helping Out Around the House

Author: Kristin Church

Our family is a bit of a madhouse: three awesome kids-all in sports, three jobs for the adults, two cats and a giant garden. I’ll admit, I was not great about encouraging (and expecting) my kids to help around the house until my youngest was born. It just became necessary at some point and I’m really glad we took the plunge to get all of our kids started on helping out around the house.

Whether you are just beginning  this journey of teaching personal responsibility to your children or you are looking for some fresh ideas, here are some tips to increase the “help” in helping around the house.

  • Everyone does their share. Each person in our family can help in their own way. This applies to kids 18 months and up.
  • Dividing a task into smaller steps and listing it out in a fun chant or with hand symbols for each step.
  • Think of some things that won’t matter either way if your kids do it well. For instance, washing down cabinets with spray bottles of water might need to be finished by a parent, but any initial scrubbing by your littlest ones is better than nothing. Or folding towels-letting children try that won’t increase your workload and you might find that towel folding is right in someone’s wheelhouse.
  • A set time when everyone does chores each week. Parents work alongside kids to take care of the house we all live in.
  • Choices: as kids have more chores and tasks they can do, they can choose the ones they enjoy.
  • Let your older children self-assess how well they complete a certain task. Provide your own feedback in a positive way.
  • Visual progress charts created by kids or filling up a mason jar with puff balls to reach a family reward (dance party, special park, hot chocolate at home)
  • Remind them of the benefit: more family time, spending money, a special task together
  • Experiment with completion techniques: try 5-10 minutes on a particular area each day or choose a larger chunk of cleaning but do it three times a week.

Finally, know that getting children to help out around the house takes more work at first but it quickly pays off. Be willing to scrap a plan that’s not working and try a new technique. Most of all, celebrate your children and the responsibility that they show by helping out at home.

Kristin Church
Parent Education Instructor
North Seattle College

 

For more, see our Newsletter Archive.

January PAC Newsletter

Our January PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Education Instructor Rebecca Hoyt.

Raising an Action Verb: Allowing Your Children to Be

Author: Rebecca Hoyt MSW

Winter often means books for my family, books for reading, books for listening to, books with lots of lush visuals to pour over, books to transport us to as many past and future and warm and sunny places as we can possibly travel on a gray Seattle day. One such book we delved into recently is Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell. In this story, we journey to Zimbabwe where we ride horseback across the African plains, climb mango trees, and, after a plunge, dry ourselves off in the hot African sun with a vivacious girl named Wilhemina, or Will.

Will leads a life chock full of happy adventures with her best friend, Simon, and pet monkey,Kezia. Her father knows his “Wildcat” well enough to simply give her a tight hug and some provisions when he senses a plan is afoot. When her father dies of Malaria, grown-ups who think they know best find Will to be lacking in what they consider to be the more civilized ways of the world. To more closely fit into their ideals, Will is plucked from everything and everyone she holds dear and is sent to boarding school in London.

At school, our heroine, who is most comfortable in mud boots and sunshine -filled fields,is stuffed into a stiff and scratchy uniform and taught by sullen teachers. Her new schoolmates disdain Will’s differences from them and pick at everything that make her unique, starting with her name. When they call her Wilhelmina, she explains that she never goes that name, but rather Will.

“Will, like the boys name?” They ask.
“Yes, Will. Like the verb, ja?” Will responds.

Will. Like the verb.

And this, this is where my heart and mind as a parent lit up. Who among us isn’t raising a Will?

Who isn’t privileged and challenged to be sharing their home with a sheer force of Will, a living breathing action verb? And how often do we try to stuff our Will’s into the stuffy uniform of being a Won’t or a May I or something other than who they truly are. I’ll tell you about a time I tried to recently.

My boys were raucously wrestling on the couch, a tangle of arms and legs as they played a game they called “Mad Bull.” And they were being loud. So darn loud. And big. So much movement. It was driving me crazy. I asked them to be quiet and they were. For 30 seconds. I told them to go outside but they promised to be quiet if they could stay inside. I had another 30 seconds before they revved up. Just as I was about to give them one more command, I caught myself. Wait. Who was having the problem here? They were ruddy with laughter, they were being inventive, they were playing together, all things I encourage them to do! They were being Wildcats (Or Mad Bulls) and I was trying to throw a wet blanket on the whole thing because it hurt my ears. I reminded them of our house rules around wrestling and I took my delicate ears upstairs. We were all much happier when I didn’t get in the way of who they needed to be in that particular moment.

The more I’ve thought about my children being action verbs, the more I’ve realized how many things I do to get in the way of their expression. Some are seemingly small like telling my combustion engine of a child he needs to wear pants when he’s more comfortable in shorts, and others are more regrettable like discouraging my child with learning differences from counting on his fingers only later to read an article proving me wrong. I need to stop pushing them to “grow out” of things that are hard for me and foster my boys as they “grow into” themselves. Because you know what? Our heroine, Will, didn’t effortlessly ease into a new itchy blazer. She ran away. To the zoo. And she spent the night with the baboons, the only creatures she could find who let her be who she truly knows herself to be. She is her irrepressible self, as are all of our children.

I don’t want my boys running off to be with other Mad Bulls because they only feel understood by them. I want them to feel secure enough in themselves and our relationship to show themselves to me as Mad Bulls when that is who they need to be. I also want them to be a vulnerable 10 year old who’s feeling confused by changing social dynamics at school or a proud 6 year old who scored a soccer goal after much hesitation to join in the action. When I am present for each part of who they are, I get to delight in all of who they are.

This is not easy, especially when aspects of our children’s temperament are different from our own. Or when they have unique needs that challenge our preconceptions of who we thought they would be. Or when their interests are somewhat repellent to us (slugs). Or when their tenacity demands that we dig deeper into ourselves than we have ever dug before.

In order to meet our children exactly where they are, we must also be willing to meet ourselves in the same place. We must embrace our honest selves. We must also accept the difference between who we really are and who we think we should be. When we allow for our own shortcomings, we are better able to accept them in our children. It is in this space that we achieve radical acceptance – I can accept myself and my children exactly as we are today AND I can strive for change.

When I am true to myself, I am the gentle leader who accepts them as Mad Bulls with the necessary change of acknowledging my sensitivities to noise. I can also be the gentle leader who helps them to see that there is a time and a place to be Mad Bulls and encourage change in them when the library is not one of them.

As Carl Rogers said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” I am learning that the paradox is also true for my family. When I accept my children just as they are, they can then feel safe to change as well.

Rebecca Hoyt
Parent Education Instructor
North Seattle College

 

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December PAC Newsletter

Our December PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Educator Emily Bradley.

“It Takes a Village”

Author: Emily Bradley

What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured. -Kurt Vonnegut

It takes a village to raise a child.  The phrase echoes in our ears, perhaps to be forgotten in the darkest moments when parenting can be overwhelming and can make us feel that we are on the journey alone.  But at this time of year where we turn to joyful celebration with family and friends, it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves, that the village we create for our little ones, and for those of us reading this piece, may very well include Co-op. 

The cooperative preschool model is meant to explore the very essence of the village, creating a community of parents as teachers and teachers as role models in learning and parenting alike.  Co-op’s parent educational elements help build skills to cultivate the small, wild people that live in our homes.  But co-op’s other mission is to build the village.  This is the reason why parents are in charge and everyone has a role to keep the complex system working.  We all take a turn, play a role, bring a snack, act as a guide, facilitate play, mitigate conflict and get messy!  Each classroom provides a place for parents and children to come together and learn from each other; their classroom teacher and parent educator help guide the way.

The co-op village helps our families come together and explore, learn, look inward and also reach out.  North Seattle College and the Co-op Parent Advisory Counsel (PAC) has branched out its endeavors in the last 4 years to include the building of these villages in the family homeless shelters and low income communities around our great city.  Parent educators are going into these communities every week to bring parent education activities, individual consultations and community building efforts to those who have the least access to these wonderful villages and the most need to fight the “island feeling” of parenting on one’s own.  This pilot program began with the efforts of our beloved former coordinator, Cesily Crowser.  Our work now extends into the Sacred Heart Residential Shelter, Mary’s Place Shelters all over the city, and Brettler Place, a low income housing community right here in North Seattle.  The children whose parents attend these classes, go to many of the schools that our own children attend.  The skills we help build and the village of support that we help create will be another tool for the parents to help these children work on the same social, creative, and problem solving skills that our little ones in co-op are learning.

Each week at Mary’s Place we sing songs, model play, problem solve with kids.  In our Parenting Circle class we discuss the same issues we do at co op- helping kids with tantrums, helping parents with self care, etc.  Each week we hear in the news about the epidemic of homelessness in our city.  These are not just folks on the sides of highways, these are working families living in shelters who have fallen on hard times.  All families need a village.  One of our goals with parent education is to help families reach out and connect with each other, and model that positive communication for their children.

This effort is supported entirely by grants and fundraising.  We are always looking for ways to raise funds to keep these classes going and support these communities.

As you celebrate the holidays this year and you socialize with your respective co-ops, if you’d like to consider supporting a family in one of these parent education classes that we’re working with, you’re gift would be most welcome.  Sometimes co-ops choose to make donations at the holidays, do fundraisers for a charitable cause, or reach out as individual families to support community efforts.  If this is the case, or if you value the village of your preschool co-op and are looking for a way help other communities reap the benefits of parent education, I ask you to consider making a donation, so that a family may participate in one of these classes and begin to be part of their own village during some of their darkest times.

The cost of one parent to attend one of our one credit classes at the shelters is $52 .  The cost of supporting a class of students for the year is $1040.  If you or your co-op would like to support the fledgling parent education efforts at these shelters for homeless families, we welcome your donations.  You may make checks payable to PAC and specify that your check is to be placed in the Shelter Parent Education Fund. 

The winter is so cold already, and we can end up hibernating quite easily, but our continued participation in co-op can keep us connected to other families and help our little ones explore, create and learn how to work together to build their own village, even in these dark winter months.

Please enjoy your own village this holiday season!  May the spirit of community help extend the breadth of the magic for your little ones and families alike. 

I know there is strength in the differences between us, and I know there is comfort where we overlap. -Ani Defranco

Emily Bradley

Parent Education Instructor

North Seattle College

 

For more, see our Newsletter Archive.

November PAC Newsletter

Our November PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Educator Erin Bernau.

Kids and Media: Formulating a Family Plan

Author: Erin Bernau

Like many of you, I find myself in almost daily negotiations with my kids about screen time. How much is allowed? Of what quality? What are exceptions to our general rules? Oh, and, can we get an Xbox?

Positive Discipline has a lovely saying that I often refer back to during my conversations with my own children about media: We often allow our kids too much freedom until we can’t stand our kids and then we rebound by imposing too many limits until we can’t stand ourselves as parents. I like to imagine love and limits as two guideposts and our job as parents is to try and walk down the middle of the two, because this is when both parents and children are being respected. But, of course, this is hard to do! My hope in this article is to give some information about how families can approach media usage with clear values and fair expectations.

In my work with parents, I find that many of us struggle with a lot of guilt and anxiety about media usage. We live in a time when types of media and media content are exploding at an exponential rate. There are many more demands on our time and many more choices than we experienced when we were children. Our kids are media and technology savvy, often much more so than we are! We have to make judgment calls in an environment that is changing and developing almost as quickly as our own children are. We are afraid of making a mistake, of either offering too little media or too much. I know few parents who feel that they have found the sweet spot in terms of their own or their kids’ technology usage.

Even science offers us few concrete answers. This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it will be convening to revisit the guidelines for media usage that it introduced in 2011. These guidelines stated that children under the age of 2 should have no screen time and that kids older than 2 should be limited to two hours of screen time a day. The thought is that the media landscape has changed quickly in the past four years and that the medical establishment is struggling to catch up. But, is this a recommendation based on what is best for kids, or simply a response to the real world in which parents need to take a shower or make a phone call and see a thirty minute period of screen time for even a very young child as the best option available to occupy their child’s time?

What is clear is that there is much we don’t know about media and how it is affecting our brains, and those of our children. Young children’s brains are thought to be at a more vulnerable developmental stage than those of older children. But, the fact is that our children are some of the first to experience a world with interactive phones and tablets, a world where we can watch what we want when we want to, a world wherein screens have infiltrated public and private spaces to a degree never seen before. We are the test cases and the good and the bad from this new world will be a focus of much interest in decades to come.

And yet, media is far from all bad, of course! Our children get to develop their ideas about people, places, and culture, drawing from the vast resources of the Internet. They can learn new skills, interact socially with peers, and learn valuable lessons about the world at large. Kids also are able to use media as we adults do, just to decompress after a long day, a way to rest our brains when we feel overtaxed or tired. The way I talk about it with my kids is to draw a pie chart filled with sections for all the activities that make up day for them: school, family time, eating, playing sports, reading, reflective time, etc. Media is one piece of this pie, but when it gets too big it can overshadow the other value parts that make up our lives. The goal is to live a balanced life with activities that make us feel good and help to build up our sense of selves. In this way, I try not to demonize screen time, but to show it as one part of a fulfilling life.

Kids do need guidance about how to use this time and parents need to be aware of what their kids are consuming in this vast media universe. I often recommend the fabulous website, Common Sense Media, for just this purpose. On this website, you can search for specific books, video games, tv shows, and movies. Each is given a age ranking and then guidelines about whether it includes positive messages, positive role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism, and drinking/drugs/smoking. Many of the descriptions also include discussion questions so that you can talk to your kids about the messages they are receiving. This teaches kids to be intelligent media consumers. These discussions can also give parents and kids real opportunities to explore values together.

Speaking of values, this is another parenting arena where we must figure out our own values. It is our child’s job to try and push against limits, and so we must know where we stand and why we made this decision in order to withstand the pressure that kids will inevitably place on us. Many families have a set amount of time for media every day, but may make exceptions for a family movie night or watching a sporting event together. While I do recommend having straightforward limits on media usage, it is also okay to have special occasions where those limits are consciously altered.

Finally, your kids are looking at what you do with your own usage of media. Do you live the values that you expect them to live? Is this a case of do what I say and not what I do? Parents absolutely get to use technology in front of their kids, but it might be helpful to mindfully put away your phone for solid chunks of time. I often recommend that parents try to avoid constantly checking their phones, but instead decide to be on their phone for a certain amount of time.

You can be completely transparent to your kids about this separation. “Right now, Mom is checking her email and returning some messages. I will be on the phone for around fifteen minutes, and then I will be available for playing again.” With this kind of language, you are making clear boundaries around your time which you need in order to get work done and engage in the outside world, while also being respectful that you are able to spend better quality time with your kids when you are not distracted. Right now, you are teaching your children valuable lessons about love and limits as you use technology mindfully and thoughtfully.

 

Sources:

Common Sense Media

Pediatricians Rethink Screen Time Policy for Children,Wall Street Journal

9 Tips That Helped Me Beat My iPhone Addiction, Huffington Post

 

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