Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween again. We do the usual trick-or-treating around here and my son is still young enough to dress up and go out.

How will you be spending your Halloween? Hope you have a safe one!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

We have been looking at research about kids from the book Nurture Shock. This will be my last entry from the book, and today I want to talk about relationships between kids.

*The more educational media the children in one study watched, the more relationally aggressive they were. Preschoolers don't always "get" the message of the shows, so they just pick up the behaviors displayed. Often these shows spend more time setting up the problem than they do on the solution, so the behaviors seen are the problematic ones.

*In one study, 96% of children's programming included verbal insults and put-downs - on the average of 7.7 insults per 30-minute program.

*The behaviors modeled on these shows then come out when children relate to one another at home or at school.

I don't know about you, but I though the more educational shows were "safe," but apparently not. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Truth Will Set You Free

I'm still looking at some of the research cited in Nurture Shock - a great book about research on best practices with kids, whether they are in your house or your classroom. Today I want to look at some of the research about lying - the experiments included in this chapter were really interesting.

*When kids are old enough to really understand the difference between a lie and the truth, they are also old enough to be more skilled at lying. And if it works, they stick with it.

*The story of George Washington and his father's response to George's admission of cutting down the cherry tree is more effective as a deterrent for lying than The Boy Who Cried Wolf - whether George is part of the story or not (if it is told with a non-famous person). Children know lying will get them punished. The idea that they might not get punished, and that the parent will be happier with the truth makes a difference in their behavior.

*Kids lie because they want to make the adult happy. They think the lie is telling the parent what he/she wants to hear and that would be a good thing. What matters most to kids is getting back to good-standing with the parent/authority figure.

Do your kids lie? Mine does. And I know I did when I was his age. I always got the boy-who-cried-wolf treatment when I got caught. Do you think George would work better for your kids?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sleep - I never get enough

Riley Armstrong "Sleep" - video here.

When I think about sleep, I think about that song. "Sleep - I never get enough. Always waking up tired..." Sleep is one of the topics covered in the book Nurture Shock. Here are some of the things mentioned in the chapter on sleep.

*Kids today get an hour less sleep than kids did 30 years ago.

*Teens do better at school with later start times, and they feel better emotionally. Some of what we consider typical adolescent angst and behavior could actually be more about sleep deprivation! {I really appreciated the statement in the book that the reasons school systems start high schools when they do has less to do with optimal educational environments for students and usually more to do with bus schedules and other external factors}

*When kids sleep, their brains are doing hard work for development and shifting learned information from the day into more efficient storage regions.

* In one study, kids who got one hour less sleep consistently over a few days showed a gap in IQ larger than that between the average 4th grader and the average 6th grader.

*Obesity odds increase with a decrease in amount of sleep.

[Check out the book Nurture Shock to get more details on each of these statements]

What do you think? How much sleep do your kids get? Is it enough? Would you advocate for later start times for high schoolers?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Praise - Too Much of a Good Thing?

This week on my book review blog, I am reviewing a new book called Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. You can see their website here.

This book looks at research about children and what it says about "best practice" for our kids. And some of it might surprise you! So, for the next few posts I thought I would highlight a few pieces of information from the book and ask you what you think. Today, we will talk about praise.

*Parents can over-praise, leaving kids either feeling like that can never measure up to parental expectations or feeling like the praise is empty and fake. Praise should be genuine and specific.

*Telling kids, "You're smart" can actually leave kids feeling fearful of trying something new or difficult. They think, "If I'm smart, this should be easy." Instead, praise hard work, perseverance, and process.

*The brain is a muscle. It grows new neurons when it works on something hard. When kids know this, they can see the value in trying new or hard things and "exercising" their brains.

I have to work hard on praising specific things and not using "smart." What about you? What do you think about praise? Can it be too much of a good thing? or a bad thing?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Calvinist or Arminian? Which are you?

In the Summer 2009 issue of Leadership Journal, an article referenced "New Calvinism." I have heard of "emergent" and "reformed" groups, though I couldn't really tell you much about either, but I hadn't heard of New Calvinism. It actually was a part of an article in Time Magazine back in the spring about ten ideas changing the world. You can read it here. (And there are plenty of blog posts out there responding to the article if you want to search those out and get some different perspectives.)

Anyway, I can never remember which is Calvinist and which is Arminian, so I did a search and found lots of websites that spell out the differences - and several that will tell you which one is "right." I got curious - what do YOU think? Do you align yourself with the Calvinists or the Arminians? Do you think it matters?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Should the Church try new and different things to reach a new generation?

One of my favorite magazines is Leadership Journal. I talked a little bit here about what I like about it. There were several things in the Summer 2009 issue that caught my attention and I thought I would blog about them.

This particular issue looked at "iGens," the twenty-somethings. This is not my generation. I am part of Gen-X. I can remember days before VCRs and microwaves, cable TV and Atari. I remember my Algebra 2 teacher in 9th grade talking to us about computers and floppy discs that were about 5 inches across, and actually "floppy." The iGens have grown up in a completely different culture - they don't know life without personal computers, cell phones, MP3 players, etc.

Question 1: Should the Church try new and different things to reach the "iGens?" or should the Church stay on message and trust that the truth of Christ will impact this new generation as it has the ones that have come before?

[Hey - There is an interesting article here about what has been happening with Gen X ministries in the last few years to help with the discussion.]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Reading Report

I started a new book this weekend called Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read by Diane Frankenstein. I stumbled across it at the library and I can't wait to dig into it.

As I was reading through the introduction, the author referenced the 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report from Scholastic. You can find it here. She highlighted a few bits of data (on page 4 of her book) that I want to report here.

*Kids reading drops off after 8 years.
*Parents can have a direct impact on getting kids to read
*When kids start reading independently, parents need to become more, not less, involved.
*Kids say that one of the main reasons why they do not read more is because they cannot find books that they like to read.

This last point is exactly why I started my book review blog in the first place. I love reading children's books and then passing those titles and recommendations on to kids and their parents in the hopes that the kids will connect with some great stories and characters.

So, let's try to get some discussion going today - how do you/would you encourage your kids to read? Do you like to read yourself? If not, why not?

If you check out the Report, tell me what you think of it. Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cathy Z scrapbooking resources

I am a huge fan of scrapbooker and graphic designer, Cathy Zielske. I have talked about her here and on my book review blog about some of her design books. They are among my favorite resources for scrapbooking.

On her blog a couple weeks ago, Cathy highlighted Quick and Creative Quizzes, an e-book designed by Ella Publishing.
Cathy then designed a printable resource to go with it with quizzes and sketches.

There were two things about this that caught my eye. The first is that the "schemes" or templates are PDFs. I have not invested in digital software for scrapbooking, but I can manage PDFs. The other thing is the price - $4! The price of the e-book from Ella is only $6.

I already have a magazine of quizzes and questions, so I'm not looking for that kind of material. But they are a great starting point for a scrapbook page if you haven't tried them before (and the $6 price is great. I am pretty sure I paid more for my magazine.). But I do like the idea of these PDF pages I can print. If you are a scrapbooker, looking for new inspiration, check out these resources.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Strongest Life, final

Let's wrap up our look at some bits from Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham.

I wasn't really surprised to hear that multitasking isn't good for us - that it drops our IQ. I know that feeling of divided attention where a lot of things are getting done, but few if any are done well. I was surprised, though, that Mr. Buckingham thinks our quest for "balance" is off target. In his opinion, we should skew our lives toward our strengths, our strong moments. If we build more of those into our lives, we will have the energy we need for the things that aren't our strongest but have to be done anyway, and the things that don't have to be done will fall off our to do lists in time because we are doing the things that strengthen us most. This ties in nicely with the discussion about Sabbath and about learning to say no to some things so you can say yes to the things that matter most.

If you go here, you can take the Strong Life Test for free and find out what your leading and supporting roles are. You will need a copy of the book to find out what they mean and how to apply them. I came out with a Lead Role of Motivator and Supporting Role of Creator. When I first read those words, I was not convinced - not when other choices were Teacher or Caretaker or Advisor. But when I read the descriptions, I was more convinced. I have been writing a lot lately about my passions and philosophy of life and some of those things were reflected in these terms and their descriptions. Now I am spending time looking at specific activities in my life that are "strong moments" and figuring out how to have more of them.

Hope you have enjoyed thinking about finding your strongest life! Let me know what you find out if you try the test!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Strongest Life, part 2

Okay, let's jump in a little farther with Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham.

This is how he defines a "strong woman."

*A strong woman feels successful - effective and capable.
*A strong woman instinctively looks forward to tomorrow with positive anticipation. She has a gut-level sense of being on the right track and enjoying the ride, bumps and all.
*A strong woman feels she is still learning and growing, no matter her age. She operates in the "flow," meaning a sense of focus, ability to concentrate, getting lost in a task and losing the sense of time. [This reminds me of how my son is with drums. He plays at least once or twice a day and loses himself in what he is doing. With the piano, there is NO flow - only fidgeting, and stalling.]
*A strong woman feels that her needs are fulfilled.
[from chapter 4, Signs of Life]

So, do these describe you? Every day or just some days? Can you think of things you do during the course of the week that would fit this idea of "flow?"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Strongest Life, part 1

Yesterday I reviewed a book at another blog called Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham. It was a great book for women about determining your strengths and strongest moments and playing to those. There is a LOT of good information in the book, so I thought I would highlight three parts this week here.

Today, I want to set the stage with some of the research reported in the book.
*Women are less happy today relative to where they were 40 years ago (and relative to men)
*Women begin their lives more satisfied than men and then gradually become less satisfied in every aspect of their lives.
*Each extra hour of free time doubles a man's feelings of relaxation, but does nothing for a woman's.
*Your IQ drops 10 points when you try to do two tasks at the same time.

So, what do you think about those things. Do they surprise you? They sure surprised me! Why do you think these things might be true?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Profound Husband

I often find myself wondering how much is too much when it comes to activities for my son. This fall he has school, piano and soccer, plus two long afternoons at school for activities (one is mine, so he goes to aftercare and the other is one we do together). I realized how busy we are right now when I thought about trying to schedule an afternoon doctor or dentist appointment! There are few days we could fit that in with our other commitments, at least for the next few weeks until soccer ends. Evenings for young children are very short. He starts preparing for bed between 7:15 and 7:30, so when you squeeze in homework, piano practice, and dinner, some days there isn't much time for play - especially if there is a soccer practice or some other unusual activity. But the activities we have chosen are in the schedule for a reason. And we stand by those reasons.

One day as my husband was relaying this all to a friend as they talked about scouting, my husband said something profound that I wrote down so I wouldn't forget it:

"It is much easier to add programming for a bored child than it is to break commitments."

That is so true! And our son is NOT bored. But once we start something, it is painful to break the commitment. We thought about changing from piano to drums this year, in mid year, and those conversations with his piano teacher were painful. She came up with enough things to excite him to stick with it until May, but practicing is still a chore. It isn't something he looks forward to or is eager to do. [Drums on the other hand are often the first things he runs to when he is finally "free" to do whatever he wants!]

We are still learning to find the right amount of activity and rest. My husband's declaration will help us keep perspective.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

For the love of a dad

My son's school had an event a couple weeks ago where they invited the dads to drop the kids off in the morning and come in for a donut. My husband couldn't go, so I took our son and asked a friend to meet us there. My son and our guest had a great time together and I was dismissed fairly early on to visit with other parents and the teachers and then go home.

For awhile, I just stood in the middle of the gym and watched. The energy in the room was different than on a usual morning. I saw kids hanging on dads, laying across dads so they wouldn't leave, dads meeting and visiting with one another. I saw dads wedged into bleacher seats with their children pressed up close to them, surrounded by backpacks and chattering children, staying until the last possible moment.

It was beautiful. Precious. Inspiring.