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Toddlers are Learning: Even with the Dog’s Water Bowl and the TV Remote

Your child has an innate curiosity to explore and learn. Toddlers face a conundrum, stay next to Mommy or Daddy where it is safe or move away, crawling or walking to see something new. Usually the toddler chooses to move away, using those muscles and the new activity of crawling or walking so that she can understand the world around her.

Here in the US, we encourage our children to be independent. The act of crawling and walking is celebrated not only because of the new skill, but because with it we know comes more learning. As parents we might not always recognize the learning part, but it is there.

Learning the ABC’s


Alphabet books come in delightful sizes and themes. You can buy the ABCs in cardboard and paperback books. But what is better and free is finding the alphabet in everyday print. Children tend to first learn capital letters. Capital letters are often more important and seen more in everyday life.

Look for and talk about letters you find outside. Let’s take the ‘STOP’ sign at the end of the block. Ask your child what she thinks it says. Then touch the print and say, “This says Stop”. “S …T..O…P”.   Look for some other print and do the same thing.

Children + 0 food= Hunger

We read in the media that the number of children being hungry and living in poverty is growing. How can we, as a nation, stand to see/know that children are hungry? What is wrong with us as a society that we read the headlines and seem immune to the plight of so many children and families? We have become so used to people suffering and we elect to do nothing.

Leaving Your Child at a New Childcare Center

I was shopping yesterday, and met a young woman who was obviously worrying and upset. She had left her baby for the first time at a childcare center. Her child is nine months old, and she said, “I am sure he is okay. He went right into the caregiver’s arms”. Between her emotional response and her worried look, I am not sure she fully believed it. The hours were slowly going by at work.

Becoming a Grandparent……..

If you are going to become a grandparent, know that a wonderful new role awaits you. People would tell me about their grandchildren and go on and on. Not that I minded their details of grandchildren’s experiences or showing new pictures. I knew something special was happening to them.

But nothing prepared my husband and myself for the birth of our first and second granddaughters. Your life does change—for the better! The birth releases in you an unconditional love. You experience joy for baby, for your child and his/her spouse, and yourself—a triple dose of happiness!

What We Expect from Grandchildren

Our recent visit with our granddaughters was filled with joy and wonderment as to how they can know so much about the world at the young ages of 2.5 and 7 years old. Our older granddaughter, Elizabeth got her hair cut and asked her mother if there were enough hair cuttings to give to a girl who does not have any hair. Obviously, there have been conversations with her parents about a child having chemotherapy, being bald, and sometimes using wigs. Memories of past interactions and an amazing amount of empathy combine to give Elizabeth a sense of wanting to help another child with serious health issues. We never expected her to think of sharing her hair, so few people/adults would think of this act of kindness.
Our sense of what we expect from our two year old, Paige seemed out of kilter as well. Paige has that toddler run and amazement of everything. She seems happy with life itself, and has the energy of only a two year old can have. I was reminded how literal two year olds are. Her Granddad was swinging her and said, “Reach up and touch the sky!” Paige carefully let go first with one hand and then the other—saying, “I can’t touch it Granddad!!” Granddad’s statement had both poetic and aesthetic elements; ones that a two year old cannot understand in her literal world.
Then, we were delighted to be Skyping with Paige and her Mama. Mama asked, “Paige, give Nana and Granddad a Kiss”. Dismayed, Paige said, “But I can’t touch them”. We looked at each other and responded to her we could blow kisses. This action seemed to satisfy her.
How many times do we say things that we believe toddlers understand? Our higher level expectations may be with the toddler being confused. Or quite the opposite, our expectations are for more baby like behavior. I am sure you have heard people talking childish/baby talk to a toddler. It sounds really out of place, doesn’t it?
All of this gave us pause, Paige is just 2.5. So many times she acts older. Her language changes from very precise enunciation to a hurried, garbled string of sounds, which sometimes even her sister cannot understand. Perhaps we expect too much at times.
Grandparenting is much like parenting. You are always learning more about your grandchildren’s abilities and past experiences that combine to make amazing interactions!

A Light Shines in Missouri

The Missouri State Legislature has finally approved a three year pilot program to rate the quality of childcare centers.  This action has direct benefit for families and young children; parents will now have some guidance as they select childcare centers. A rating system will define quality such as what follows in this blog.

The ‘look’ of the center should be just one of multiple factors in making a decision to use a center.  Yes, it should be clean, have lots of toys, and be safe.  But centers can be too clean.  Young children are active learners.  Frequently throughout the day, the rooms are messy as children create with paint or play in the house area.

Capturing Those Precious Moments with your Baby–Even in the Grocery

Precious moments with babies are fleeting.  As an early childhood specialist and a Nana of two young granddaughters, I wanted to shout at the young woman struggling with the 5 month old baby at the grocery store, “ Take a deep breath, slow down.  Don’t miss experiencing this with your child”.

I know it is a lot of work taking a baby to the grocery. There are many logistics. First, arranging to go between the window of finishing a nap and being fed.  Then the preparations: changing into a fresh diaper.  Taking; the baby front carrier pack, a bottle, small toy, a change of clothes, fresh diapers and wipes, plastic bags and the grocery list.

I have concerns about letting our 7 year old ‘cut the apron strings’ Do you?

Jon is seven now, he wants to walk with Charley (a friend who also is seven) to the park six blocks away.  Is this a reasonable request?  Jon knows his address, the ‘stranger danger’ rules, and Charley is fairly mature.  So why does it take me so long to make up my mind?  I used to walk to the pool when I was in the primary grades, and it was about the same distance from home.  Much to his disappointment, my response is that I will walk with them and read a book on a bench in the park.

Are you a Parenting ‘Coward’, Helicopter or Snowplow Parent, or a Tiger Mom/Dad?


As parents we feel totally responsible for our children: their health, safety, growth, and development.  Michael Christie wrote an editorial piece “All Parents are Cowards” for the New York Times where he related his fears and panic in keeping his children safe.  Christie debates when to ‘let go’ and when to let children take on more responsibility and perhaps fail or get hurt.  When does this feeling of panic reach an extreme (you might then be a coward) and when is it a reasonable feeling for us?  You might think sure, when Jon has a temperature of 103 degrees, I panic.  But do you panic when your child is invited to a friend’s house for a playdate?  Do your feelings limit what your child can do and experience?

Supporting Children’s Independence vs Being Overprotective

Our children’s safety, health, and security are always a concern.  There reaches a point in their lives that we have to let them become more independent. You will find yourself answering these questions:

  1. When is it safe to let Jon stay home alone?
  2. When can he walk or ride his bike to school alone?
  3. When can he take care of his younger sister?

These questions and many others are part of us letting go and of our children assuming more independence.  There are no easy answers and, of course, each child and situation is different.

Is Your Child Experiencing Anxiety in Adjusting to School?

Try reading some of these books together.

Kindergarten Toni Buzzeo. (2010). Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten. NY: Puffin Books.PenguinGroup. Katie Davis. (2008). Kindergarten Rocks. NY: Voyager Books. Harcourt Inc. Anna Jane Hays. (2007). Kindergarten Countdown. NY: Dragonfly Books. Joseph Slate. (1996). Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. NY: Puffin Books. Penguin Group. D.J. Steinberg. (2012). Kindergarten, Here I Come! NY: Grosset & Dunlap. Penguin Group. Natasha Wing. (2001). The Night Before Kindergarten. NY: Grosset & Dunlap.Penguin Group.

Sleep: What Does Your Child Need?

The media has just published information about high school students being nocturnal and schools responding to this developmental characteristic by starting the school day later.  But what about other ages?

“Loveys and Security Blankets” Should Young Children Still Use Them?

Is your child making the transition to preschool or Kindergarten?  Should she take that dirty, scraggly blanket, stuffed animal?  Is it embarrassing to you?  Here is the ‘scoop’.

All of us need to be accepting of all security objects. And that ‘all’ includes moms, dads, siblings, extended family members and teachers!   As a director of a lab school and private childcare center, and as a teacher, I have seen a wide assortment of ‘loveys’: stuffed animals—horses, bears, Big Bird, comb, mother’s bracelet, dad’s key chain, dolls, books, blankets, sweaters, etc.. The most important thing about a security object is the the availability of the lovey and the adult’s acceptance.

Doing what is best for our youngest children–Electronic & Technological Toys

We are continuously bombarded with ads of electronic toys that promise children’s learning. Electronic toy manufacturers are making rather miraculous claims in helping infants, toddlers and preschoolers learn mathematic/reading concepts and skills.
Even parents of our youngest children, infants and toddlers, are promised young children’s learning of A,B, C’s, sight and color words, numbers, and the relationship of cause and effect. One electronic toy for children six months through three years has 75 songs, colors, sight words, and letters. And we have seen a dramatic increase in infant toys that promise stimulation and learning. Advertised is a panel that hangs over the crib and uses colorful patterns, sounds, and lights to help the infant calm herself to sleep, yet there is no way for the infant to avoid the stimulus. There are now ‘baby laptops’ and ‘baby smart phones’. I saw an ad for an electronic panel in an infant’s bouncing seat, with the computer program lasting for ten minutes.
You can ask yourself “should I buy this toy?” or perhaps you are in the situation of “how can these toys be more meaningful?”
These same questions plague the use of electronics with preschool children. What we see is that children are drawn to electronic technical products, be it smart phones, I-pads, or a myriad of toys that have electronic components. Children seem to need little instruction in usage and they seem to enjoy them.
Research I conducted in 2010 in a laboratory childcare center, indicated families were using technical products with children of younger and younger ages. Families reported children experiencing a ‘gravitational pull’ to the products, and easy usage.
We all have seen or used smart phones or I-pads with children while we are waiting for a doctor’s appointment or for food in a restaurant. Some families use technology to the extreme. One afternoon in a restaurant I saw two parents and two children (one preschooler and one primary age), each using smart products and not talking to each other, as they waited for their food.
On the national scene, the American Academy of Pediatrics has again recommended no screen time (including DVDs, television, and computers) for children infant through two year olds, and one hour per day for preschool children. Since this is the second time the Association has had this recommendation, we have to assume that the stance, regardless of the plethora of media for children, the position will not be changing.
Young children are active, manipulative learners. They like to interact with parents, and others when doing an activity. Technology usage may be a more passive, quiet type of learning.
Infants and toddlers are sensory, concrete learners. They manipulate, feel, hear, and yes ‘taste’ toys and materials (have you ever seen an older infant or younger toddler, chewing on a book?). Piaget called this the sensory-motor stage.
Even though electronic toys and technological products are so prevalent, there are other ways, and more interesting ones for children learning these same and additional skills. How does a mechanical toned voice singing compare to a person singing the same song, using more expression—lower and raising the tone and volume throughout, or pausing for the child to join in singing? Electronic songs cannot and do not respond to children. Your children love your singing, even if you do not think you have a good singing voice.
Counting or letter recognition without connecting it to something concrete and meaningful is simply rote call and response. But counting plates or napkins for the dinner table, takes on more meaning. Think about all of those counting nursery rhymes that are predictable, sing-song, and have been used for generations. Children learn number sequence, a sense of number at the same time phonemic awareness, or distinguishing sounds which is necessary for reading.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center has issued joint recommendations so that there are some computer guidelines for usage. We do need experiences not only for children to enjoy, but ones in which they can pace their own learning. In other words, technology and software needs to be developmentally appropriate to your child.
Some of you still may be asking yourselves, “So what is the harm? She loves it”. I believe the use of electronics can only be effective when you are interacting with your child. You should be taking time to talk about the actions/responses, sing along, or doing the experience with your child. Electronic toy usage should be only one of a myriad of activities and experiences for your infant, toddler or preschooler.
There should be lots of reading stories or information books, music making, playing and dance. Saying/singing nursery rhymes like “Hickory Dickory Doc”, “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Our grandparents may have not realized it, but they were preparing us for reading. Now we have research that shows such phonemic awareness in nursery rhymes is a predictor of success in learning to read. Who knew our grandparents were so smart?

How ‘Tuned In’ is Your Child to Your Emotions?

Let’s face it: we all have bad days.  Sometime things get piled up or four or five things go wrong.  We may or may not verbalize our feelings, frustrations or in general our emotions.  But we live with children who are keen observers.  They also have bonded with us and are sensitive to our feelings.

So it this wrong or is it part of living in a family?  I do believe we live in a family and experience life as it happens.  The toilet clogs, the washer breaks, one of our little ones runs a temperature all night, the dog throws up, and on and on. 

Books for Infants and Toddlers

Black and White Illustrations—Excellent for newborns and Young Infants

Hoban, Tana. (1993). White on Black.  NY: Harper Collins.  

Hoban, Tana. (2007). Black and White.  NY:  Harper Collins.  (accordion fold out)


Pictures of Babies and Animals

Priddy Roger.  (2001).  Happy Baby Words.  NY:  St. Marin’s Press.

Priddy Roger.  (2001).  Happy Baby Colors.  NY:  St. Marin’s Press.

No Author.  (2006).   Colors.  NY:  Scholastic.

No Author.  (2004).  Animal Colors. Essex, Eng.:  Eagle Global Logistics.  (small size)

No Author.  (2004).  Animal Patterns. Essex, Eng.:  Eagle Global Logistics.

No Author.  (2004).  Animal Sounds. Essex, Eng.:  Eagle Global Logistics.

Books for Preschoolers

Books for Preschoolers

Dorros, Arthur.  (1991).  Abuela.  NY:  Trumpet Books.

Fitzgerald Howard, Elizabeth.  (1991).  Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later).  NY: 


Fox, Mem.  (2012).  Tell Me About Your Day Today.  NY:  Beach Lane Books, Simon &


Fox, Mem.  (1988).  Koala Lou.  NY:  Voyager Books, Harcourt.

Freeman, Don.  (1968).  Corduroy.  NY:  Puffin Books,  Penguin Putnman.

Hofffman, Mary.  (1991).  Amazing Grace.  NY:  Scholastic.

Hoban, Russell.  (1964).  Bread and Jam for Francis.  NY:  Scholastic.

Keats, Ezra Jack.  (1967).  Peter’s Chair.  NY:  Harper Collins.  New baby in the family

Helping Your Child Start a Child Care Center


In my years as a teacher and then a Director of child care centers, I have found these ‘Tips’ have helped families (parents and children) starting in a new center.

  1. Visit the center without your child; get to know your child’s teacher, her expectations, and the experiences your child will be having.
  2. With your child visit the center as many times as possible for your schedule.  During these visits, reassure your child you will stay while she plays.
  3. Prepare extra clothes (several sets for younger children), bag, stuffed animal, and blanket to bring to the center.

Ideas for Having a New Babysitter or Nanny

In my years as a teacher and then a Director of child care centers and laboratory schools, I have found these ‘Tips’ have helped families (parents and children) starting a new care situations.  Also, the ‘Tips’ apply to situations where you have employed new Baby Sitter or Nanny.

  1. Visit with the Baby Sitter or Nanny; get to know her, her expectations, and experiences your child will be having.  Let her know your expectations, limits or guidance you give your child, and what experiences you expect your child to have.

Is Your Child Starting Kindergarten? Here is how you can help.

When I was a Kindergarten teacher and then administrator/supervisor of early childhood programs, I found that children and families who are beginning Kindergarten need some support as the transition to school begins. Perhaps your child or you participated in an orientation during in the spring, to your child that was too long ago to remember and to lessen fears. Here are some ‘Tips’ that you may find helpful.
1.Tour the school with your child prior to the school year beginning. Try to learn the name of your child’s teacher and write an introductory letter from both you and your child. Ask the principal or secretary to mail it to her; the school probably has a policy of not releasing her address.
2.Go to the school and ask the principal or secretary for a quick tour. Learn as much as you can about the routines such as where the restrooms are (often a child’s concern), where and how lunch is handled, where the buses arrive and pick up at the school, etc…
3.Have a couple of fun hours for you and your child shopping for school supplies
4.Lay out clothes the night before school starts, have extra time on the morning school starts—do not be rushed. Know that your child may not sleep well or want to eat that morning.
5.If your child cannot express herself in English, recognize that a parent should stay with the child the first one or two days. The parent who stays does not have to understand or speak English. The parent’s presence is a reassurance that everything is okay and the parent can help the child understand transitions and routines.
6. Give your child a personal item of yours, such things as a bracelet, purse, key chain serve as a concrete reminder that you will see her at the end of the day. Let the teacher know that you have given your child this item and it is okay for her to have it.
7.Always, always say “Goodbye” to your child. Remember, your child is sensitive to your feelings. If you are stressed, or emotional, ‘put on a reassuring face’.
8.If your child is crying while getting on the bus, or when you take her into the classroom, chances are that she is playing in the next five minutes. Rather than you being upset and feeling guilty all day, call the school and ask the secretary to check on how and what your child is doing.
9. Know that when go to pick her up or see her at the end of the day, she may begin crying when she sees you. I think this behavior is an emotional release from the day, even though she has had a lot of fun.
10.You may reach a point where talking about the next day, just does not seem to do much good. I believe you simply state, “You have a job and that is to go to Kindergarten. I have a job and that is to go to work (or whatever you have to do during the day). I am sure you will have a fun day.” Talking over and over about it is fairly useless—it is difficult to convince a child going through a transition of separation that everything is going to be okay.
11.After a full week, expect the next Monday will be a more stressful start. You will see this lessen on Mondays after a few weeks.
12.When your child is not present, contact the Kindergarten teacher and ask how she is doing. Keep the communication lines open between you and the teacher.
13.This last tip is for you. Try not to feel guilty. A good school experience leads to a child’s optimal development and offers positive activities and relationships.

I-Pads and Potty Training: Have We Taken the Digital World Too Far?

Potty training and technology meet as CTA Digital has designed an I-Pad Potty. The potty chair has a stand for the I-Pad. And when your child advances to an adult-sized toilet there is an I-Pad stand.

My question is: are we taking the use of electronics too far? The American Pediatric Association has recommended no screen time for children less than two years old and limited time as a preschooler. So, you have to ask yourself is the technology that important and will it be used in the right way (I assume without parent interaction) to be included in the process of learning to use the toilet? I would suggest the answer is “no”—and the availability of the I-Pad is another way to keep the child occupied while on the potty. I see I-Pads used consistently to keep a toddler quiet in restaurants as the family waits to be seated and served.

When Does an Infant Become a Toddler?

When do I start calling a child a toddler? Professional groups and book publishers identify the toddler age in varying ways. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) uses these classifications: young infants (0 to 9 months), mobile infants (8 to 18 months), and toddlers (16 to 36 months) (

Child development books may refer to toddlers as beginning at 18 to 24 months (Santrock, 2009, Child Development) and other specialists offer the range as 12 to 36 months, (Raikes & Pope Edwards, 2009, Extending the Dance in Infant and Toddler Caregiving) or 16 to 36 months (Copple, 2012, Growing Minds). So, since there is no consensus on the age, we might consider a child a toddler by development.

Strong Attachment Relationships Have Large Benefits

Attachment develops throughout the infant and toddler years between children and primarily parents, but also grandparents, siblings, caregivers and others. This invisible bond develops as you touch and cuddle the newborn, and then progresses from comforting physical closeness to the baby’s emotional reliance. Attachment relationships are essential to providing the security needed for the child to later take risks in exploration as well as in motor development—crawling and then walking. For the child, security is her knowing that someone cares for her and will take care of her—she will be safe. These concepts are conveyed through our day-to-day interactions.
Secure attachment relationships influence their emotional and social development.

Supportng Young Children’s Reading Skills

 Children learn to write by writing and they learn to read by reading.  What is often ignored is the activity needs to be enjoyable, meaningful and interesting to your child.  What topic is a favorite of your child –dinosaurs, trains, dogs, horses, mysteries?  Then, you need to find books within that topic and are readable by your child.  Your child’s teacher or the children’s librarian at the public library should be able to help you with the books’ reading level.  Or you might try a range of books in that topic and determine which seems easiest for your child to read.

Is a Gender-Neutral Environment for Our Girls the Answer?

To discuss if a gender-neutral environment is attainable and would such an environment be supportive of a child’s development, we have to look at what we know about gender research and our society.  Historically, fairy tales and nursery rhymes were orally passed down through generations and used to teach children how to behave; concurrently they seem to be stereotyping in the role of women and girls.  Women were viewed as damsels in distress who were saved by handsome princes.  Womens’ roles were cooks, homemakers, and mothers.  Men were courageous, hunters, and received an education.  The printing of the fairy tales and then the making of early movies reinforced these stereotypes.  Disney made “Snow White” in 1938 and that began the stereotyping role for girls through today’s ‘princess’ focus.

Growing up in a ‘Princess’ World

Growing Up in a Princess World

If you are shopping for a girl, you will find your purchasing options are overwhelmingly princess related.  Peggy Ornstein (2011) writes that there are over 26,000 related princess items, making Disney revenue of $4 billion.  If the item does not have a princess on it, the colors may be pink or lavender. We have to ask ourselves are manufacturers providing what the adult consumers and girls want or are they telling us what to buy? 

My Child is Obese and is Being Bullied: What Can I Do?

Ask an educator about obesity and bullying and you are sure to get a response.  Recently, one of my doctoral students found that not one of 14 fourth and fifth grade children identified as gifted could sustain five minutes of aerobic exercise.  We all can agree our children spend too much time sitting whether doing homework, watching television, or using an I-Pad. 

Children can be relentless in their hurtful comments to a child who is overweight, such as “Your fat!”   I believe teachers do their best when they hear such statements, but the recipient may respond aggressively, or become withdrawn.   How we adults respond in these situations is critical. 

Toddlers and Sleeping: How to Have a Peaceful Bedtime

Children go through very normal fears and anxieties of sleeping, the dark, monsters, and nightmares.  And bedtime can become stressful for the entire family.

The ‘key’ to a peaceful bedtime with toddlers and preschoolers is a very predictable series of events.  For example,  a parent should tell her child that it is almost time to get ready for bed,  then offer a calm activity to do together such as working a puzzle.  It is critical to create and follow a bedtime routine:  these activities might be taking a bath, eating a light snack with milk, brushing teeth, toileting, and reading a book of the child’s choice.  Toddlers and preschoolers respond well to a routine and feel more comfortable knowing what is going to happen next.

Helping Toddlers Learn About Reading and the Alphabet

A love for reading begins with the parent matching the books to the child’s interests and level of development. Just as the child’s reactions to books changes—so should the selection of the books and the adult’s story reading behaviors.

The first experiences begin with the parent reading to the unborn child–the soothing tones and inflections do stimulate the baby.

Reading should occur everyday in the baby’s life. Tana Hoban has some wonderful books that are visually stimulating to the newborn—in black and white, with accordian pages that can be placed standing next to the baby (black and white contrasts are the most recognizable,  stimulating illustrations to babies).

Making Barbie Dolls Reflective of Our Lives: Bald Barbie

Children use toys to help them dramatize what they see and are learning in the world. Dramatizing helps children understand what is happening around them. It enables them to sort through their feelings, express knowledge and in the right setting provide an opportunity for a ‘keyed’ in adult to correct misconceptions.

Often we see girls and boys dramatizing everyday activities such as cooking, going to the grocery, taking care of babies. Also, we observe children acting as a parent disciplining a doll. For an observer such as a parent or teacher, it is humorous to hear our ‘own’ words being used.

Living with Toddlers

One of the first things to remember is that toddlers do not like change. Moms know that just trying to get a toddler to stop playing with a toy and go do something else can be a struggle. Toddlers are egocentric, so what they want and what they are doing are thinking and doing is “the only way to look” at the situation. With this caveat in mind, transitional warnings are greatly important. Even then, Moms know that crying and unhappy toddlers may still happen when a change occurs.

What Happened on the Way to Kindergarten?

Children decide very little for themselves. Of course there is the “which cookie do you want?” or “what do you want to wear today?” The real, important things such as “what preschool or child care center do you want to attend? or, “which program meets your needs and provides the best for you?” are questions and decisions for adults. Sometimes, families make greatly deliberated decisions about where their children will spend eight or more hours a day, five days a week. Parents can readily find information about the quality of the program, consult professional organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) accredited list of centers (6380 accredited centers). Also, families observe centers’ classrooms and get to know the teachers, curricula and discipline policies.

Stickers, Candy, and Prizes: Should We Be Using Rewards in the Classroom?

The first grade teacher gives Jon a sticker for getting his math assignment completed. Susan receives a token for being quiet during ‘Morning Meeting’ and if she earns enough tokens this week she can pick a prize from the teacher’s ‘Treasure Chest’. If these external rewards work, why not use them? Or in other words, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

In the short term, it seems like Jon and Susan improve their behavior, but what happens in the long-term? Will they expect a token every time or for everything? What if, in their perception they have been ‘good’ and the teacher did not reward them? What about their relationships with their peers, do peers eventually resent Jon and Susan?

Will Superman Come? Waiting for a Good Education

           We are used to waiting:  at service centers, in the grocery, at drive-up windows.   But, our patience can run quite thin at times, particularly when whatever activity we are engaged in, takes longer that we anticipated or are accustomed.  Our tolerance and patience can, of course, quickly ‘go to zero’ when the product and/or we finally receive turns out to be not what we ordered, or worse has an imperfection that renders it non-functional with the only option being to return it or accept it, as is. 

Children Living in Poverty: It Is Our Problem Too!!!!!

           Poverty rates for families are climbing.  On September 17th, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Missouri’s poverty rate grew 3.5 times faster than the national average since the 2000 census.  From these statistics, we can see that we have had families in crisis longer than the current recession.  The Post Dispatch further reported that 15.5% of Missouri population lives in ‘official’ poverty.  While I am confident there are an abundance of ‘spin doctors’ who can ‘paint’ these numbers with magic colors to make them look not quite as bleak, in my view poverty is poverty!

Giving Children a Real First Amendment ‘Voice’ in Services and Education


The recent, well publicized non-event, originating from what was portrayed as a small (in membership) church in Gainesville, Florida was variously examined in media echo chambers as a First Amendment (freedom of expression) activity.  As distasteful as this non-event turned out to be, it prompted me to reflect on the rights granted to adult citizens in the U.S. compared to the rights of children citizens, but not in a freedom of expression context, rather as a matter of ‘redress of grievances’ which is an often overlooked element found in the last three words of the Amendment.