Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chores = Independence=Personal Responsibility

I am able to observe many parenting styles during my day as the director of our little school.  I love to see how parents interact with their children.  I am a firm believer that there is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL style of parenting.  What works beautifully for my family, might be a nightmare for someone else's.  But what I do believe and preach often is three qualities that we MUST instill in our children:
1) Respect for Authority
2) Self Control
3) Personal Responsibility

I've touched on the first two in previous posts, but I've been thinking a lot about #3 lately.  I think that may be one of the problems our society is facing.  Lots of folks will not take responsibility for their own actions.  Perhaps they were never taught at home as children.  We've been seeing the case of the "Affluenza Teen" on the news.  That's simply a case of never learning personal responsibility.

So what can we as parents do to teach personal responsibility?  One word...CHORES!  It's pretty simple really!  I found this image online, of an example of chores broken down by age.
Even kiddos as young as 2 years old (and even younger) can do simple chores.  Here at school, the teachers don't clean up their centers.  The students are responsible for picking up the toys from the floor/table and put them in the correct container, etc.  We are trying to instill the sense of personal responsibility in them now.  

One thing that has helped my daughter was a list.  We had and still have a list of the things she must do everyday when she gets home from school...unpack her lunch box, homework, make sure her room and bathroom is straightened, bring her hamper to the laundry room, etc etc.  Her list has grown over the years!  Her grandparents often pick on us about child labor!  But we are praying that these chores now will lead to a lifetime of her being a responsible adult with a strong work ethic.  I think it will also teach gratefulness and a sense of pride.  Think about how you feel after you complete a project at home or work.  You are able to look on it and feel proud about a job well done!  

As always..these are just some of my thoughts.  I want my AFDS kiddos to grow up to be strong, confident, good citizens, responsible and respectful!  And I know you do too!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Car Buying or Parenting?

Purchasing a car is definitely not one of my favorite things to do!  I do not like the back and forth, the haggling, the negotiating, the "whining" etc.   In car buying, both parties are expected to haggle until an agreement is met.  In child-rearing that is NOT what we want to engage in.  

The scenario:
Mom:  Susie, can you please pick up your toys in the living room?
Susie:  After this show is over
Mom: Well Susie, we have company coming over in 30 minutes and I need you to be a sweet girl and pick up all your toys, so our house will look nice for our friends.
Susie:  Whahahha! I'm watching TV.  This is the best part.
Mom:  Ok, when the commercial comes on, I need you to pick up the toys.  Please do this for Mommy and be a sweet girl.  If you pick up your toys during the next commercial, then I'll will let you have a cookie.
Commercial comes on...Susie is still watching TV.
Mom: Ok Susie the commercial is on...clean up your toys please.  Remember we are going to get a cookie if you clean up the toys and be a good girl.  
Susie:  *sighs* picks up one toy
Mom:  Good job Susie...pick up the rest
Susie: *whines* no, mommy please I'm playing with them.  *starts making more mess*
Mom: Oh Susie, do you need mommy to help you?  *Mom starts cleaning up*
Susie hops back on couch and continues to watch TV as mom cleans up
Mom: Susie, you aren't helping mommy.  You won't get a cookie if you don't help Mommy.  
Susie: *crying* I don't want to help you.  I want to watch TV and play with my toys...*Crying*
Mom: No cookie then! 
Susie: picks up last toy (after mom picked up the rest)
Mom:  Good job Susie, thank you for helping, Let me get you a cookie for being a good girl.

Susie is an expert negotiator and Mom just bought the biggest lemon on the lot!  And believe me, this happens multiple times a day in different scenarios.  But Susie always wins.  What could have Mom done to make this situation end differently?  

It could and should have gone like this.

Mom: Susie, it's time to clean up your toys.  
Susie: After this show is over.
Mom: No, its time now (turn off TV).  And turn back on Susie - end of argument
Susie will probably throw a big fit and whine and cry, until she realizes Mom is not changing her mind and there's nothing to watch on TV.  

We as parents have somehow decided we aren't the boss anymore.  We are taking orders from our kids!!  I read a blog once about this concept.  3 simple words to quit nagging!  We are the parents and we would never allow another adult to run over us....we must stand up and be the boss!  No negotiations, period.  

*Give a direct command
*If they whine, give a direct statement (ask and answered or similar)
*Walk away
*Do NOT negotiate! - you aren't buying a car! 

Some folks may not agree with this....believe me, I've read tons of books on the subject of parenting, behavior modification, etc etc.  But I believe wholeheartedly that we must teach our children two things:

Self Control and Respect for Authority!

Let me know if you've seen a similar scenario play out?  Would you have handled it differently?  


Monday, September 28, 2015

Teacher Treasure Trunk

Over the summer I attended the Texas School Ready conference in Houston.  While there, I took a class entitled "101 Ways to Motivate Your Staff".  Kristy Thornton was the instructor.  She had some awesome ideas.  The main thing I took from the class was the Teacher Treasure Trunk.  When I returned home from the conference, I contacted my wonderful school board and shared this idea.  I also asked the church that AFDS is a part of for donations.  We've collected and purchased a LOT of goodies for my staff to buy!

Buy?  How do they afford to buy anything?'s not real money!  They earn BONUS BUCKS.

They are able to earn these bucks for doing a variety of things:
Perfect Attendance
Great Customer Service
Completing Training
Going beyond job duties
Participating in extra events
Etc Etc Etc

They then can take these bucks and purchase the things in the treasure trunk.  There's everything from candy to a paid day off!  The prices also range from $1-$80!  It's a fun way to keep them motivated!  Some spend their money as soon as they earn it...some are saving up for a paid day off.  Some are saving for gift cards (Walmart, Outback, Massage, Starbucks, etc)  We've got some great prizes!  And they deserve this and much more.  Pre-K teachers work so hard, yet get paid so little.  This is the least I can do for them.

This is a photo of all the goodies they can choose from:

I am also planning other fun things to do together.  On our first staff meeting of the year, we had mini facials by a local Mary Kay lady.  Some other ideas that we are doing include:
Girls Night In - Craft Night
Lunch on the Boss (we've done this several times)
Lunch on the Board (also always a hit)
Staff Christmas Party (Ugly Sweater and Scavenger hunt - fun years)
etc etc

I hope this makes AFDS a fun place to work.  Happy Staff = Happy Kids = Happy Parents = Happy Director = and on and on it goes!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Environmental Print

My pre-schoolers can read!  But before you think I am bragging....all pre-schoolers can read!  They can read Environmental Print...which is just a fancy way of saying, all of the print that surrounds us.  It comes in the forms of signs and logos.  You find it everywhere around us.  I  think they know the Golden Arches stands for McDonalds, from the womb!  We recently did an activity in our four year old classes that involved Environmental Print.  We gave each 4 y/o a sheet of construction paper with the following instructions:

Our class is making an Environmental Print book.  Environmental Print is the print we see all around us (signs, logos, labels, etc). Please assist your child and allow him/her to cut out pictures of things that start with the first letter of his/her name.  These may be found in magazines, newspapers or photos.  

The parents did a great job of helping their child find items starting with their letter. We are now binding each page to make a class book.  This activity promotes:
  • Letter Recognition
  • Family Bonding Time
  • Early Literacy
  • FUN!
These were a few examples:

You will be shocked to see how many words your kiddo can already "read".  Make a game of it...have them read all the signs they know on the way to school.  This is a great intro to literacy!  



Monday, August 31, 2015

Parenting with a Purpose

As a pre-school director, I'm not often in contact with law enforcement officers.  On occasion we've needed their assistance and we've had some come and do presentation for our students.  But the majority of the time, my world of glue and crayons and glitter do not collide or intermingle with theirs.  But in my personal life, I'm very connected.  I am the wife of a police officer.  As I watched and read the news this weekend, my heart was heavy. For the entirety of my 16 year marriage there has always been a nagging worry in the back of my mind for my husband's safety.  I do not and cannot dwell on that worry because it can be consuming.  But this weekend it has been brought to the fore front of my mind.   The stories of the policeman killed chilled me to the core.   Are there bad cops...absolutely.  Are there bad pre-school directors...absolutely.  But I hope I am not judged for their actions.  It seems that police officers have become targets because of the actions of others.

What needs to be done to make things better in our country?  As an educator and a parent I say the following, we must teach our children two things:

1) Self control
2) Respect for authority.

Respect for the authority of man and of God.  If we respect God, the other falls into place.  Self control is a hard thing to learn, but once we master that we have no issues with respecting authority.

How do we teach children self control?  This article has some great tips and games to play  Try them out at home!  We do lots of practicing in the classrooms too.

I know in my heart we have teach our kiddos NOW to be good and productive citizens.  We all want the best for our kids and want them to succeed.  We have to start young.  Has your parenting been focused on teaching self control and respect for authority.  We need to be mindful to include those two things in everything we teach and everything we do.  We ourselves must have these two qualities in order to model them to our children.

Just some things to ponder as I begin my morning.

PS...thank a police officer today!  It means a lot to me, I know!

Monday, September 29, 2014

All In a Day's Work

This morning, on the way to school I had my phone on vibrate.  I didn't hear the buzz of two texts and one phone call, but when I stopped at a red light, I grabbed my phone (bad habit...I know) and saw the alerts.  Uh-oh I knew immediately there was a problem at AFDS!  Yep, a power outage was the culprit.  So I called from two blocks away and told them I was almost there.  That's not normally how my morning starts, but its part of my crazy job and I have learned to deal with crazy things that happen.  Remaining calm in stressful situations is key in this job and actually in life in general.  Things I've learned to do to help remain cool and collected:

1) Breathe - Over the summer I went to a pre-k conference and sat in on a workshop about Conscious Discipline and the research that Dr. Becky Bailey has done.  Just a small snippet is about breathing and she teaches some interesting kid-friendly techniques.  I've always tried to take the time to step back and take a breath.  It really does help.

2) Be Directive - During those crazy days, you have to realize you can't do it all.  You have to direct others to help.  Delegate and be direct about it.  Example..."I need you to call his mom and tell her to come get him because he is throwing up"  "I need you to get the cat litter from the janitor's closet".  "I need you to look up the website for the electric company"  Etc Etc Etc

3) Never raise your voice - Screaming only magnifies the chaos.  You have to keep your voice low and calm.  It works!

4) Laugh - After the craziness is over, you just have to laugh.  Last week I had a administrator's meeting and I hired one of my former teachers to come in and fill in for me.  After the meeting was over she sent me a text and said, "A few minor issues...but everyone is alive lol"  I had no idea what those "few minor issues" were!  I later found out that they were a horrible pulsating bloody nose, explosive diarrhea, a biter, and a major fit was thrown which left a teacher almost in tears.  All in a days work!  After learning this, I stopped at Sonic and bought a Dr Pepper for the crying teacher and made my way back to the school.  By the time I got there, it was nap and all was calm and they were laughing!  Looking back it was comical that all those things happened within a two hour meeting.   Laughter is truly the best medicine.

5) Pray...Pray....Pray

Whether you are a director, a teacher, or a will have days like this.  Keep your cool.  This too shall pass.

Our tag line around here is ...There's Never a Dull Moment in Pre-K!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ten Things I've Learned, in Ten Years

I wrote this article last year, but recently came across it again and wanted to share.  My sweet baby will be 11 tomorrow.      Traci, AFDS Director

Ten Things I’ve Learned, In Ten Years
By:  Traci Turner

The summer of 2003 was the hottest we’ve ever had on record.  I’m sure of it! That was the one and only Texas summer that I was pregnant.  It’s been 10 years and I still remember that miserable heat.  Looking back it seems like yesterday, but so much has happened since then.  I’ve been reflecting lately on the things I’ve learned and discovered since I became a mama. 

1.  Make a Plan – But accept that Plan B might possibly happen.  I’m a planner!  I admit that.  Ask my mom, my staff, and my family.  I make ridiculous plans, I over think situations.  But, I fortunately have learned to accept that things don’t always go according to plan.  I certainly didn’t plan to be in labor for 92, yes you read that correctly, 92 hours.  Nor, did I plan for my beautiful infant to be whisked away to the NICU before I even got the chance to hold her.  There have been multiple things that didn’t go according to my grand scheme, but here we are 10 years later, healthy and happy.  I let it go.  Everything is alright.
2.       I learned Lesson 2 very quickly, although I’ve had to re-teach myself this one.  When my daughter was born, she aspirated fluid.  After day 7 of being in the NICU she was finally released to come home with orders not to get her out for 4 weeks.  I stuck to those instructions and she has been relatively healthy since.  The times she has been sick since, I’ve tried my hardest to keep her home as long as I could, to let her heal completely.  I have learned that if I rush her back, she relapses.  This is a hard lesson, sometimes we have to get back to work or are just tired of being cooped up, but take it from a mama that’s been there…It’s easier to stay in one or two more days than to try to get another week off from work, when she is running fever and has strep again for the second time in a month. 
3.       Saying “NO” seems like it should be engrained in us as a parent.  Our kids certainly think it is.  But as the mama of an only child, I realized how easy it was to say YES.  I would be tempted to buy her a small toy or candy at every store we went to.   I realized how foolish that was.  She certainly didn’t need that toy or candy.  She wasn’t a fit thrower and rarely asked for things.  Why did I feel the need to purchase things?   Not sure the psychiatry behind it, but for whatever reason that’s what I was doing.  I learned to not only tell her NO, but to tell myself NO.  That sure comes in handy now that she does ask.  I am a big believer in making her work for money.  This system has taught her the value of a dollar and I hope I am creating a strong work ethic in her. 
4.       Along those same lines, I realized that I AM THE MAMA!  I am in charge.  Not her!  What I say goes no arguments.  I often hear parents make comments like, “My son won’t let me take his temperature, so I don’t know if he has fever”.  I’m often baffled by these statements.  I want to scream…”YOU ARE THE MAMA…HE IS THREE!!”  I learned this lesson very early on and I’m so glad I did.  We are all tested as parents.  We have to be consistent and show them that we are in charge and we are the boss.  Period.  This has to start early…in the very early toddler stage.  The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to parent. 
5.       I discovered something when my daughter was probably pre-school age, which I wasn’t aware, existed to the extent that it does.  Mommy Wars.  I didn’t realize how ugly and hateful some mamas are when they are comparing their kids and their parenting styles to others.  I soon learned to stay as far away from this as possible.  I discovered that the majority of this went on behind computer screens.  This consistently happens on parenting blogs, message boards, social media sites, etc.  I think people make comments behind the protection of the screen, they would NEVER say aloud to another person.  This is one reason I am not a fan of social media.  I am joyfully disconnected in that sense.  But, unfortunately I’ve heard rude comments in ‘real’ life, as well.  I have learned to respect other people’s choices.  Whether it be of how/where they educate their children, if they breast or bottle feed, immunize or not, cloth or disposable diapers, at what age they potty trained their child, etc, etc, etc.   It’s absolutely none of my business.  Each family has to make their own decisions as to what they think is right for that child.  Be respectful!  We all have one goal…raise our children to be healthy, productive citizens! 
6.       I just said that each family has to make their own decisions…but as you know it takes two to make a family and those two don’t always agree on how to parent.  This can be a major riff between couples.  I learned to let it go when it came to my husband.  For the most part we agree on things.  His style is a little different than mine, but I realized that our daughter was benefiting greatly by receiving both styles.  She was getting to bond with her daddy, even if he didn’t fix the bottle exactly like I did.  Now they have developed a beautiful relationship.  I’m glad I didn’t nit-pick everything he did.  I also have made a concerted effort to never say anything negative about him or his parenting style in front of our daughter….or anyone else for that matter. 
7.       Speaking of daddy...I learned to make time for him.  We made it a point to get grandma to babysit so we could go on a date.  Of course, we just talked about our baby the whole time, but we were together and still keeping up our relationship.  We have always said, after she is grown and out of the house, we didn’t want to look at each other as if we were strangers.  We learned to let her go to her grandparent’s house to spend the night and take small weekend trips together.  Our relationship is worth it. 
8.       Because I learned to get away with my dear husband, I realized I wasn’t needed 24/7.  My mom and my mother in law were able to take care of my baby without my constant supervision!  I learned to relax and not be a ‘helicopter mom’.  Over the years I’ve even gotten better at this.  This year for her science project, I didn’t help at ALL with any of the design aspects or the construction.   She was so proud of that project and it’s ok that the paper was crooked and not perfectly level…she still made a 100!  The need to hover sneaks up on me at different times.  I have to remind myself to step back and let her breathe. 
9.       This lesson was taught to me before I became a mama.  It was taught to me by my own parents, and by their parents.  I know that I am responsible for my daughter’s spiritual well being for now.  Once she reaches the age where she can make decisions on her own, I will no longer be responsible.  But in this moment, it’s my duty to see that she is in church, Bible class, and that she is growing in God’s word.  This is a very personal subject and perhaps one that many of you reading this might disagree.  But it’s #1 in my book.  I am watering that seed I planted 10 years ago and when she is grown and out of the house, I pray that I can watch it grow.
10.   The last lesson I learned sums them all up.  You only get one chance to be a mama to that baby.  You may have multiple children, but you only get one chance with each one.  Make it count!