Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parenting Tip #36 School teacher's tips

My sister has never married. She is a school teacher and has taught 3rd or 6th grade for over 40 years. I asked her for some parenting tips because even though she is not a parent to a biological child, she has been a parent to hundreds of children over the years.
These are her comments:
1. Respect your children. For eternity we will be contemporaries (she said this because of our belief that there will be life after death, and we will be with our families there)
2.Don’t make the older child always give in to the younger child just because he’s younger. Be fair-- if the true facts are known. The younger child is less likely to even remember the confrontation, while the older child will and start to resent the younger one.
3.Be sure your kids know you are honored and thrilled the Lord trusted you to be their parents.
4.Power struggles are a lose/lose situation. The adult should be the one smart enough to avoid or disengage. (use distraction and other techniques)
5.Don’t pit child against child (“Why can’t you get good grades like your brother?”) Every child has strengths. Talk about those frequently and publically!
6.Pass on second-hand compliments promptly. It’s a great feeling to get positive recognition from people outside your own home.
7.Stay single. That way there’s no evidence you’re a bad parent! (said with tongue in cheek)

Music Tip #36 Inspired Music

I just listened to a great talk by Michael Ballam, a professor of music at Utah State University on the power of music.
He stated how the truly great composers were inspired from God and attributed their inspiration for composing to come from God.

"I immediately feel vibrations that thrill my whole being. These are the Spirit illuminating the soul power within, and in this exalted state, I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods: Then I feel capable of drawing inspiration from above, as Beethoven did ... Straitway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies and orchestration. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods.

The powers from which all truly great composers like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven drew their inspiration is the same power that enabled Jesus to work his miracles.
It is the power that created our earth and the whole universe."

~Johannes Brahms
from "Talks with Great Composers" by Arthur M. Abell, published by Philosophical Library

Isn’t it interesting that the music of Beethoven, Brahms and Bach, while composed hundreds of years ago, is still played and listened to today while the music of hundreds of “popular” artists has long ago been forgotten.

I teach the Suzuki piano method and have taught it for over 20 years. The Suzuki piano repertoire never changes. It consists of classical pieces composed by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. I have taught the same pieces to hundreds of students for years and years. And I love teaching these pieces—I never tire of hearing these same melodies.

But when I teach the “reading” aspect of piano, I use different method books, those that you and I were taught from. I can only teach those pieces for 4-5 years until I am so sick of them I have to stop. Then I look for another method book and teach it for a few years until I’m sick of those songs.
Yet with the classics, I could teach them forever and find more and more interest in them.
Why? They were inspired from God and have God’s hand on them. They speak to my soul and my soul recognizes something eternal in them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Music Tip #35 Music/hula hoops/pool noodles

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”Albert Einstein
I love to watch children use their imagination. They can create so much with so little. But it's up to us, as parents, to help and encourage their creativity. Here are some ideas to get you started. Lay a hula hoop on the floor and tell your child it's a boat, then begin singing "Row, row, row your boat". Next excitedly point behind him and yell, "there's a shark, better row faster!" and sing the song at a fast tempo. But beware, you can spend an hour on this activity--singing and pointing out sharks and whales and singing--over and over again.

When you've had your fill--but your child hasn't--just put on some fast music and have him row to it. Or tell him it's a lily pad now and he's the frog. Spread out several hula hoops that he can jump to. No hula hoops? Use pillows, dish cloths, yarn spread in a circle. Remember--imagination!

What about foam pool noodles. I love these for imagination purposes. They can become horses, swords (oh well, at least they're soft)or used for obstacle courses. Add music and let the music dictate what the noodles become.

How about scarves, dish cloths, pillow cases and music. Of course there's your basic pots and pans band. Wax paper over a comb becomes a kazoo. Ribbon tied onto a plastic spoon or shower curtain ring becomes a wonderful streamer to dance with to music. Foam cutouts like butterflies that have been decorated and have a stick taped to the back become music wands to dance with. And my favorite. A flashlight, music and a darkened room. Life just can't get any better!

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" Albert Einstein

Parenting Tip #35 Tips for Shopping with Children

Grocery shopping with kids-- Shudder. Scream.
Yes, we all know that “shopping” and “kids” should not be in the same sentence. But since most of the time they are, here are some tips I’ve gathered from parents like you.

Prepare before you go to the store. Bring stuff for bored kids, hungry kids, potty training kids, thirsty kids. Then you can anticipate and prevent drama in the dairy section.

Do not go into a store without a shopping list and do not buy anything not on the list. Not only do you save money this way but it reduces the amount of time it takes to drag your family through the store.

Here’s a tip for parents with skinny kids. My kids have all been skinny enough to wiggle out of the seat belt on the shopping cart and manage to stand up on the seat. I decided I needed something better so I went and bought a kid walking harness and a metal C-ring clip. I kept them in our van. The total cost was under $7. Whenever we went shopping I would put the harness on my child and then hook the clip (instead of the leash) onto the back of the harness and then clip it to the back of the cart seat on the metal bar. This allowed my daughter to be comfortable, but she couldn’t get out of the harness or stand up in the cart.

I keep Maya (age 3) entertained at the store by letting her cross off the things on our list and by putting the things we need in the shopping cart.

If I’m going to Walmart or Target, I let my daughter take a few minutes to play with the toys. Of course we always say that we are only going to look and not buy. However, if you think your child is going to have a total melt down and tantrum, then avoid the toys!

I usually shop with my preschooler when the older kids are in school. It seems that the more kids you have together, the more trouble you have.

During the wintertime I hang my coat over the basket of the shopping cart. My daughter likes to pretend that she is an animal living in a cave or that the covered basket is her fort. This works out great if you are only getting a few things or if the whole family is coming along and you push two carts.

Share any shopping tips you've discovered with us!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Parenting Tip #34 TTT(Tried and Tested Tips)

At my ASU Baby Signing class on Saturday I heard a few of the mothers telling each other ideas they've been using that have worked with their toddlers. They said I could share them on my blog. I loved the idea of getting "tried and tested" tips (TTT)so I asked my extended family members to give me tips that have worked well for them. I received SO MANY great ideas, that I can't post them all in one week. So I will post just a few of them this week and each week or so I will post more of them.

Soren's mom said she plays music while giving her young son his bath. HER KIND OF MUSIC. That way bathtime doesn't seem so long and boring!

Troy's mom said she has Troy say "bye, bye" when leaving the park, a friend's house, etc. This makes the transition easier and Troy is willing to leave.

Laney's mom said she learned to sign the alphabet when she was in fourth grade from her teacher. He had the class finger spell their spelling words in sign language each week and it really helped her learn how to spell her words.

Mark learned an important word when he was a teacher. HALT. It stands for hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Usually children fit into one of those categories when they have undesirable behavior (adults too). When your child is acting up, HALT. See if he needs to eat, rest, change activities or needs to express his emotions.

Katie said be consistent. Whatever you are doing with your kids, be consistent. Don't do idle threats because you are teaching them not to trust you. If they can't trust what you say, they won't be able to trust when you tell them you love them, either.

Faith said you can't have a constantly clean house AND be constantly nice and happy with your children. One of them has to suffer a little. Which one? (Depends on who's coming over...)And....say no to other people so you can say yes to your kids.

Music Tip #34 Pentatonic Scales

My sister sent me this link and said she had never heard of the pentatonic scale.
I emailed her back:I use the pentatonic scale at school all the time. Penta means 5 notes. You can use 5 white notes, too. A "C" pentatonic scale has no "frys or burgers" in it (CDE GA). The G pentatonic scale has no "corn flakes" (GAB DE) and the F pentatonic scale has no "bacon and eggs" (FGA CD). The students actually take those bars off the xylophone or metallophone and visually you see groups of 2 notes together and 3 notes together.

All notes in the pentatonic scale sound good together, so it's a great scale to have children play and improvise on. They think it sounds like Chinese music, oops, did that sound racist? Perhaps I should say Asian.

Bobby McFerrin does this cool thing with the pentatonic scale at the World Science Festival 2009.

So if you want to have fun some day, sit down to the piano or keyboard with your child and improvise on the black keys. Let your child play you a "song", then you play one back. Create funny titles for your songs and even make up words. Use snappy rhythms and yes, even play "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater" (everyone knows that one on the black keys, don't they?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Parenting Tip #33 Are Their Eyes Shining?

Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Symphony gives an inspiring talk on TED . He relates an “aha moment” he had when he realized that as a conductor, he doesn’t make a sound. He said his job was to “awaken possibility in other people.” Then he asked the question,“ How can you find out if you’re doing that? You look in their eyes. If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it.”

As parents, we are the “conductors” of our family symphony with our children being the orchestra members. It is our job to awaken possibility in them. We can do that by providing them with opportunities to create, explore and discover. Does that mean we enroll them in every enrichment class and lesson we can find? NO! It means we provide them with books, paper, crayons, glue, and ideas. We take them to the library, park, museums and concerts. We investigate, ask questions, and discover answers with them. We ask them for their ideas on solving problems.

And how do we know if we’re doing our job well? We look into their eyes to see if they are shining. If they’re shining, we know “we’re doing it”.
Look at this site for more ideas:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Music Tip #33 Wow, Music Works!

“Now I’m going to run along and skip along the way.”
“Wait for me, I’m coming too, I also want to play.”

Those are the opening lines to a song that comes from the music, “Children’s March, Over the Hills and Far Away” by Percy Grainger. I taught it to a preschool music class and the children enjoyed using their pointer fingers on each hand to represent the two children in the song as they “ran and skipped along the way”. The moms and I sang the words as the children wiggled and skipped their fingers in the air.

A few weeks later, one of the moms told me she had been trying to get her 3 year old daughter and newborn son in the car but wasn’t having much success. Finally the mom walked towards the car with the baby and started singing “Now I’m going to run along and skip along the way”. Immediately her daughter came running and sang “wait for me, I’m coming too, I also want to play.” The mom and daughter sang the whole song in the car as they drove, the mom being utterly astonished because she didn’t know her daughter had even remembered the song. The mom quickly taught her husband the words and melody so he, too, could use this newly discovered method of getting their stubborn daughter in the car!

Yeah, for the power and influence music has! We need to use music to our advantage. It can calm, distract, engage, encourage, excite, relax, and revitalize us. Use fast music while your family cleans the house. Sing Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” during bath time. Use soothing music while homework is being done. And of course sing lullabies and favorite songs during the bedtime ritual.

[words/movements to song in Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move by Lynn Kleiner


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