Thursday, September 27, 2012

Parenting Tip - Be a Positive Ostinato

Last year I wrote a post about musical ostinati (Oct 22, 2011).  An ostinato is a repeated pattern.  Ostinati is the plural. An ostinato adds life and interest and rhythm to a piece of music.

At school my students play ostinati a lot on percussion or barred instruments to accompany folk songs and chants.  But they never remember what an ostinato is. Last year I finally figured out a way to teach them what an ostinato is by having them sing a silly song about it.  And it worked.  They all remember the definition, now, and sing it anytime I say the word ostinato.

It occurred to me that as parents we use ostinati a lot. We repeat ourselves over and over throughout the day:
"Hang up your clothes, hang up your clothes, hang up your clothes."
"Do your homework, Do your homework, Do your homework."
"Stop fighting,  Stop fighting, Stop fighting."

But what if we were a positive ostinato?
"Thanks for obeying so quickly, Thanks for obeying so quickly, Thanks for obeying so quickly."
"You did a nice job on that, You did a nice job on that, You did a nice job on that."
 "I love you, I love you, I love you."

Saying the same thing over and over again--being an ostinato--is a good thing.  If you're positive.  So go ahead and repeat yourself.  Repeat yourself.  Repeat yourself.  You're adding to the music in your home with an upbeat positive rhythm.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Parenting Tip - Don't Overlook the Flecks of Gold

I like the message in this story.  It made me think about other flecks of gold we sometimes overlook.  Like our children.  Are we so busy living and looking to the future, that we don't notice the gold right in our own home.

Here are some other flecks of gold we might overlook:
Flecks of gold of happiness at the cute thing your 3 year old son just said.
Flecks of gold of gratitude for having enough food to eat and a home to live in.
Flecks of gold of patriotism for living in a democratic country.

The flecks of gold gradually added up to great wealth, one small fleck at a time.  What other things add up by small measures?
Teaching our children day after day to do their chores.
Teaching our children day after day to do their homework.
Helping our children day after day practice a musical instrument.
Eating healthy food day after day.
Exercising or walking a little bit more day after day.

Flecks of gold.
Small deeds.
Patience to wait for the wealth.
 Enjoying the day to day collecting.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Parenting Tip - September is International Literacy Month

September is International Literacy month!  What a great reminder about the importance of reading.


With school in full swing, children are studying and learning and reading.  But don't forget about reading as a family.  You can give your children fond memories and the gift of knowledge and success just by reading aloud.

This site has a list of 100 best books for children listed by age groups.

Jim Trelease, the advocate for reading aloud to children, has a great website with lots of information for parents.

This site offers a list of all the Newberry Award Books from 1922 to present.

Here is a list of all the Caldecott Winners 1938 to present.

The International Children's Digital Library is a digital library of outstanding children's books from around the world.

 May your children be able to say....."richer than I you can never be --I had a Mother who read to me.

Thanks for "reading"!



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Parenting Tip - When your Child is Bored

My son told me about my granddaughter's first week of kindergarten.  When asked how she liked it, she told her Dad it was boring.  But later in the evening, she and her brother were talking about school and talking about the rodeo clown who had come to the school assembly.  Then my grandson mentioned that Maya, his kindergarten sister, had been chosen to go up on the stage to help the clown.  My son asked Maya, "I thought you said school was boring?"  She replied, "Well, not that part."

Kids! They're funny sometimes.

Now I want you to understand that my grandchildren are PERFECT, but in other children, I see a rising trend where children seem to think they have to be entertained constantly.  If they're not watching TV, then they're playing a video or computer game or going to soccer practice or dance or gymnastics.

My sister, who taught school for 40 years, always told her students if they complained of being bored, "only uncreative, uninteresting people are bored."

So what do we, as parents do, if our children complain of being bored at school or at home?  Teach them it's their responsibility to do something about their boredom.  Teach them that they should not rely on someone else to entertain them, but that they now have an opportunity to find something to learn or to invent or to do.

It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention.  One summer our family went on a day trip to visit my husband's aunt and uncle at their cabin. In the afternoon all the adults took a nap except for me.  I was completely bored and didn't know how to fill the next few hours.  Suddenly I decided to get the camera and take pictures of my children and their cousin illustrating the ABC's in nature.  For the next 2 hours we were engrossed in finding things that started with the letters of the alphabet and then posing for a picture (like laying in the hammock for the letter H, etc).  It was so fun.

Later, I took all the alphabet photos and made an illustrated alphabet book.  Throughout the years, my children and I have enjoyed looking at the book.  And each time, I am reminded that it was a blessing I was bored, or the book would never have been made.

Don't feel guilty if your child is bored.  Give him strategies to help him cope if he is bored at school such as writing a poem about what he learning, creating math picture problems, writing a story, or simply drawing and coloring a picture.  Don't think you have to provide constant entertainment or activity at home.  Jot some ideas down on pieces of paper, put them in a jar and let your child choose one of the slips of paper.  Be prepared and collect art supplies or other creative open ended activities to have your child engage in.

Or you can always do what I would do.  Give your child a chore to do if he complained of being bored.  That would certainly get the wheels turning in the brain.

Or you could say to your child what my husband would sometimes say, "go sit on your thumb and let your feet hang over." 

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Parenting Tip - Think Backwards

Arrgghhh, are you always running late to everything and seem to be saying, "HURRY UP!" way to often?   You've read the tips, the ideas, but nothing seems to work for you, right?  That just seems to be the way of life when you have kids.

But does it have to be that way?  NO--- anyway it doesn't have to always be that way.

The best method for me to get anywhere on time is to COUNT BACKWARDS.  What time do I want to arrive at my destination?  Let's say I need to be somewhere at 8:00 am.  Next I decide how long it will take to drive there--15 minutes.  When I had kids to get out the door with me, I always forgot about the next step--how long will it actually take to collect belongings, and get into the car Sometimes that's the killer step we forget, because it seems like it takes 5-10 minutes to get from the bedroom/bathroom/kitchen to get shoes on, to books, etc to out the door and into the car.  Oh rats, then it takes several minutes to get kids buckled in the car too.  Be sure and add that time in your estimation. 

So it looks like I better leave 20 minutes early (15 min drive + 5 min packing up) to get somewhere at 8:00.  But then I forget about finding a parking place, or walking to where I'm going to.  I just figure if my car is pulling into the parking lot at 8:00 I'm on time. But everyone else is already inside and ready to begin.  Yikes, I better figure in another 5 minutes for that.

So if I have to be somewhere at 8:00, now I have to leave 25 minutes early (15 drive + 5 packing up + 5 parking)!  

Here's another way of THINKING BACKWARDS.  You picture yourself arriving someplace with your children, and you're calmly walking from the car to your destination.  You picture yourself calmly waiting at all the red lights you seemed to hit this morning.  You picture yourself changing the baby's unexpected diaper change with only a little bit of hurry and tension.  You picture yourself getting yourself and kids dressed and fixing hair in a somewhat unrushed manner.  You picture yourself the night before deciding what to fix for breakfast and what clothes to wear.  You also picture yourself mentally tallying up what needs to be done to be on time the next morning.

I like thinking backwards.  It helps me organize myself and helps me work toward goals.  It helps me be able to take time to "smell the roses".  It helps me feel calm.  It helps me simplify and enjoy life.

Here's a fun article written by a chronically late mom and how she finally changed her ways.

Here's an idea of where you can keep all the backpacks, etc that your children need as they head out the door to the car.

One last idea:  This time THINK FORWARD.  Think about your children and what you are teaching them.  Do you want grown up children who are smart, sincere, have integrity and self-assurance?  Do you want children that are aware of other people's needs and service oriented?  Then they have a mother who is organized, who has self control over her own self, and has taught her children well.

They have YOU!

Become that kind of mother and start teaching your children by teaching them how to be on time.  Be on time to events, on time with their homework, on time to their jobs.  A simple thing that will reap great rewards! 

Thanks for reading,



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