A Gift That Keeps on Giving

Being responsible for a job or chore can be a win-win for parent and child. Offering a job or project as an opportunity rather than giving it as an unending assignment is what keeps it growing in the future.

For your child, learning to be responsible for something requires learning how and when to say “yes,” and if it is not a personal choice, then it is not an opportunity to be personally responsible. The process of agreeing to be responsible for a particular job or project, whether invited to or not, is the second part of the learning process.

For a parent, this means 1) giving your child the option to decline your request, as in an invitation, and 2) being sure the agreement has clear conditions, including a beginning and an ending time. When the ending time is not obvious, put a time or clear condition on it.

Finally, let your child know (don’t assume) it is safe to ask you for support and advice.  If you child wants to quit, be understanding. What has changed?  Does he or she feel appreciated?  Acknowledge that sometimes we adults agree to do something and discover that it doesn't work for us. Trust yourself to look from your child's point of view, and choose whether allowing your child to quit (without a harsh relational emotional penalty), or be understanding but firm about keeping the commitment.  If you are not sure what would be best, cancel the agreement.  If your child is ready for it and it is set up well, your child will not be reluctant to take it on again or to take on more.  Allowing an occasional withdrawal of a promise is a good exercise in learning to be responsible for others' expectations. This maximizes the learning as well as the likelihood that your child will accept more responsibility later.

[There is a little known axiom of human behavior that is well-known in physics: force causes resistance. Sometimes force is necessary, by the way, but even then it causes resistance. You choose whether it is worth it, and then share those thoughts - including that being or feeling made to do something frequently can make you not want to do it.]



What to say ... that is ...

... how to promote acceptance of diversity of sexuality, gender identity for very young children without talking about it. It is very infrequent that I pass on any blogs or articles on parenting, but occasionally, as I expand my personal network in the arena of parenting, I do, so here is a good one ...

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Measuring Learning, Part 3

Now let’s look at language learning. Learning a language for a young child is, it seems to me, the most difficult and demanding learning project any human being ever accomplishes. Even learning to read is a no brainer compared to learning to understand language and speak it.  

The first obstacle is to get what language actually is

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Teaching Our Values?

Our values, the ones that we intentionally attempt to teach our children, may well be learned in ways we don’t notice. I'm not thinking so much of of things like "be nice," "be good", "clean up", etc., but what are we saying and doing about what we (automatically and generally) tend to focus on. You know ... what I like or don't like, what I want or don't want ... and how we use these to get others to do what we want

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How Do We Know What We Know?

This post is in response to my deep concern about the nature of our politics, our values, and our learning (and lack of it in some important areas). I feel I am taking a risk in writing this (I'm afraid right now as I type), but this something that people who know me best both appreciate and feel frustrated or judged by - though there is no personal judgement from my end. And it definitely relates to parenting - relating to our children in an honest and supportive ways.

We have grown up and been educated in a culture that appears to us to value what we know, what we have "learned," and to disregard or hide what we don't know

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I Never Met a Child Who Couldn't Already Read

What is reading? Here is a story from my kindergarten class:

On the first day of the year, my assistant and I sat on the floor with our 16 students, most of whom had attended our pre-k program. We introduced ourselves to whatever degree was comfortable, and everyone relaxed. When I introduced myself, I included telling my class why I do what I do (and it isn't exactly teaching as we know it from our school experience, so I avoid the term teach and teacher. See post on Why Stop Teaching?). I said I am come here to this class because I really enjoy having fun, learning, and being with other people who are learning new things and like to play. And I wouldn't do it if that weren't happening. Then I said that we would be learning about a lot of things, and that what they were interested in was even more important than what I was interested (though one of the things that I was interested in is what they were interested in). Then I had the following conversation and demonstration (which, by the way, is what teaching means - show and tell, only!).

I started with: "One of the things we are going to learn about is reading

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