The Stages of Play and Friendship

How to teach emotional intelligence

How does socialization work in homeschooling? Children play differently according to their brain development. They move from single play (babies play with toys by themselves) to parallel play (toddlers play side by side but don’t interact other than to grab a toy) to associative play (preschoolers begin to “play together”) to cooperative play (young children that really play together in free play or organized play) which is elementary school years. Children ages 4-12 have friends based on who is around them and shares the same interests. I remember my child telling me about his friend at age 6 but couldn’t remember his name or where he lived. As children move into the teen years, their friends are deliberately chosen based on shared interests but also shared values, beliefs and attitudes.

All children need is one good friend and siblings count, although they can have scads of them if they want. Most homeschooled children are still very much close to family and siblings because family comes first, but also see many outside the family friends because homeschoolers do not stay at home! They “community school.” Friends come from lessons, outings, group projects, co-ops, musical and art community groups, Girl Guides, church, neighborhood, etc. Friends are not just the same cohort as classmates. So homeschooling socialization is more diverse than an age-sorted classroom. Friends are from all cultures, races, genders, family shapes, and ages.

Friends also change depending on life cycles. My daughters friends in early childhood are not the friends she had in high school and not the same friends she had in university. There are new friends for every new life stage. We were looking at photo albums the other day and she doesn’t remember any of her childhood friends before age 12. Same with my other 4 kids.

Socialization doesn’t have to be a worry in homeschooling. Friends are everywhere!

DSC00312

Ways To Learn Math Without A Workbook

Ways to Learn Math Without a Workbook

By Judy Arnall, BA

math cake

The birthday cheesecake looked smaller than a half.  Although the store sold the cheesecake in halfs and wholes, my children and I opened the box and immediately knew something was wrong. But, we had to figure out the calculation on paper with pi, to demonstrate to the store that an error was made.

 

As a humanities major, I used to be afraid of math, but no longer. Although my math proficiency ends at grade 8, I still wanted to homeschool my 5 children through high school and into STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) career paths if they so desired. With great interest, I watched how their understanding of math changed with age.

 

Children ages 0-12 learn math through visualization and thinking. We call it “mental math” where they figure out solutions to their everyday problems in their head using various strategies. You see this with babies using a shape sorter, or a toddler sharing cookies, or a preschooler grouping colored Lego, or a school-ager playing Battleship.

 

As unschoolers, we didn’t use any math curriculum. The children experienced mental math through games, toys and play. They started learning “paper math” at age 13 (grade 8) when they took their first formal math course, taught by a teacher, in preparation for their desire to enter STEM careers. They didn’t need to memorize the multiplication tables as they had already been using those mental tools since birth.

 

At puberty, the children’s brain development allowed them to understand abstract concepts such as a “variable.”  They had the brain computing power to work through 8 grades of math in one year, by applying learned paper math solutions to mental math problems. They learned the names of each math tool (fractions, decimals, variable, addition) as well as when and how to apply each tool to everyday problem-solving.

 

If you have a child in school, math homework doesn’t have to involve a textbook or workbook. Here are some handy ways children can learn math outside a classroom:

 

Adding and subtracting – Play board games such as monopoly, etc. Selling items and making change at a garage sale or lemonade stand. Paying for items in stores and noticing what change is given back.

 

Multiplying and dividing – Cooking, baking, sewing, workshop projects, and art projects. Sharing food and items among friends.

 

Greatest Common Multiples – Skip counting jumps on the trampoline.

 

Fractions – Baking and cooking from recipes. Dividing up food with siblings.

Deciding how much quantity of food to buy per person for hosting dinners.

 

Decimals – Shopping. Splitting restaurant cheques.

 

Percents – Calculating tips, taxes and sale prices while shopping.

 

Estimation – Shopping. Tracking travel miles.

 

Perimeter – Measuring for baseboards, or framing pictures.

 

Area – Measuring for carpet, paint or floor coverings. Sewing.

 

Volume – Measuring parcels for the post office.

 

Circumference – Measuring if half the ordered cheesecake really is half a cheesecake.

 

Least Common Factors – Lego pieces are named 2×2’s or 2×8’s so figuring out how many pieces are needed to build a model.

 

Integers – Monitoring temperature changes.  Counting money. Counting zero pairs with red (negative integers) and green (positive peices) Lego blocks.

 

Algebra – Computer games such as Graal, Minecraft, Zelda, etc. Shopping for packaged food items for a certain number of people. Figuring out problems.

 

Variables – Figuring out symbols  that stand in for concepts.

 

Place value – Sorting and grouping toys and items. Measuring liquids, distances, and weight using the metric system that is based on 10.  Counting money in games such as Monopoly. Writing out cheques. Cooking.

 

Coordinates and Ordered Pairs – Play the Battleship game.

 

Rounding – Figuring out how much allowance one has to pay for things.  Estimating price total when grocery shopping.

 

Angles properties – Making a sundial. Studying astronomy. Visiting historical sites where people made ancient contraptions to measure time and seasons. Calculating how far from the wall, the ladder must be for safety measures.

 

Degrees – Formatting photos that are upside down and sideways. Learning about astronomy to understand degrees related to a sphere. Questioning why the Xbox is a 360! Playing Hide and Seek game.

 

Temperature – Bake and cook.  Monitoring the weather.

 

Time – Figuring out the clocks at hospitals and airports help children learn the 24 hour clock.

 

Roman numerals – Read “Asterix and Obelisk” books. Visit monuments.

 

Reading graphs, pie charts, and figures – Reading newsspapers and magazines such as The Economist, Time, and MacLeans which include many charts and graphs. Discuss how the information is presented and if it is correct.

 

Even and Odd numbers – Reading maps and house numbers on a street. Dividing groups based on birthdays.

 

Properties of geometric solids – Playing with blocks and nets.

 

Slides, turns, rolls and flips – Formatting photos on the computer.  Playing with blocks.

 

Symmetry – Playing with mirrors, objects and prisms.

 

Perfect squares and Exponents – Examine a multiplication table and visually see the patterns. Making paper squares for cutting snowflakes and other paper projects. Seeing how squares fit into other squares.

 

Executive Function Skills – Playing video games, or chess helps children develop taking turns, planning the next move, toning working memory by holding multiple instructions in their heads, filtering distractions, and develop emotion self-control when they lose.

 

Math is fun! Cultivate a child’s learning math tools through experience and the mental concepts will stick when they finally learn it on paper.  Sometimes, pi is better than cake!

math2

X^2 + 4X + 3

 

Excerpted from the bestselling book, Unschooling to University, by Judy Arnall.   Judy is the author of the print bestseller, Discipline Without Distress, and Parenting With Patience. Visit Judy’s  blog at http://www.unschoolingtouniversity.com

Letting Go of Tweens

 

Kaori’s eight year-old daughter, Rin, answered the door one day and found her little grade three friend asking her to go play at the park down the block. The little friend was alone. Kaori replied that they would love to go to the park and will meet her there in 15 minutes. The friend had a puzzled look on her face when she realized that not just Rin was coming, but the mom too. Kaori wondered whether she was too protective or she should let her daughter skip off to the park alone with her friend. How do we balance our parental need to protect and keep our children safe from harm, but trust our children to grow in independence and make decisions for themselves?

It seems that children are always ready for the next step of independence long before we are. They ask us to take the bus alone for the first time, or walk to the mall, or go the park alone with a friend. From the moment they are born, they move away from us (literally) in small baby steps, until they are 18 and move to a university on the other side of the country. We wonder, did we cover everything?  Did we teach them all they need to know about safety, health, and good home and money management? Parenting is one continual job of letting go and letting children learn. But when is the right time? Do we do it all at once or in baby steps?

Society is making it harder for parents to let go. Even if parents are comfortable allowing their child independence, because they know their child best, society casts judgement on them. News outlets, other parents, and strangers foist their child-rearing opinions on the rest of us, and call the child protection agencies or at the very least, make snarky comments on social media about our “bad parenting.” The world is statistically safer for children today, yet, our society is more paranoid than ever. There are not many children at the park today without a cellphone as their lifeline to parents, instead of being allowed the opportunity to problem-solve their issues from bullying to stranger danger, without a parent’s advice.

The problem is that children need us to let go. Privacy laws are putting a deadline on parenting. When our children reach the age of 18, the world expects them to handle all of their medical, educational, financial, and logistical aspects of their life, all by themselves. Parents are no longer consulted and are often considered the major force that institutions must shield children’s information from. Thus, children must be prepared for an adult life of personal assertiveness and advocacy, long before 18. So when does this happen?

Parentalauthority

Fig.1 Excerpted with Permission from Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery

If you look at the P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training) model of control and influence, created by Dr. Thomas Gordon, you will see that by the age of 9, children are halfway to adulthood. Age 12 is the two-thirds mark. By age 12, children are beginning to grow their abstract thinking skills and that is the time parents should start grooming their children to think about consequences, and allow the child decision-making and independence, offering coaching and guiding if the child consents. Of course, in order to do this, parents need children to listen to their influence. Children will listen to parents during the teen years, if a solidly respectful relationship has been built. That means no punishment (not even “consequences” or withholding electronics), lots of active listening and many, many practices of parent-child problem-solving. Punishing children does not build parental influence. At age 12, the child is in the last one-third of parenting and it’s time to start treating them as the grown-ups they are becoming.

Will the children make mistakes during those last six years?  Yes!  However, mistakes during these years are great fodder for learning and 99% of those mistakes do not have lifelong consequences, unlike mistakes made in the adult years. Children still have parents close by to help problem-solve and be the supportive pillow for children to fall into after a mistake.

And when children go off to university across the country at 18, they will have the confidence, experience and skills to figure out for themselves the logistics of living a safe, healthy and rewarding life. They will be practiced in facing problems and figuring them out. Even though parents are not controlling their children’s lives, they will enjoy the huge influence they will have on their adult children. I love the times my sons’ emails, texts or phones to ask my advice. That is the power of influence!

The key is trust.  Kaori ‘s parents trusted her to be okay when she moved to North America from Japan at age 18. She wants to give her daughter the same gift of trust. Kaori still went to the park with her daughter, but considered that between age 8 and 12, she would let her go on her own. She knew her child best and would decide when that magic number would be.

 

The Last Day of Parenting (After 29 Busy Years)

Today, is the last day that I’m on active parenting duty.  It began on a sunny, hot, cloudless day on June 29, 1991 when my first son came into our lives. The other book-end, my baby, my youngest of 5 children, turns 18 tomorrow, the first day of his adulthood.  We often count the firsts in parenting – first smile, first step, first time they sleep through the night, but we often don’t celebrate the lasts – the last time we co-slept, the last time we cuddled up to read a bedtime story – the last time he held my hand while out walking – because we don’t know when they are. We have to cherish those moments as they come because they are so sweet and fleeting. Today, I celebrate a job, a passion, a career and a calling – parenthood – as well done. It was hands down the best experience of my life, and so worth the gray hair, empty bank account and wrecked furniture! I have 5 beautiful, caring adult children who I am so proud of and are my best friends. My heart is bursting with pride and happiness at the wonderful people you have become and your individual gifts and qualities. You will go forward and make this world a better place than it was before you came. Happy Birthday my dearest youngest child and welcome to adulthood! And happy Last Day of Parenting to me and my loving partner in this most wonderful adventure!

_DSC0164BEST

Clever Comebacks for Bullying

Clever Comebacks for Bullying Behaviour

 

by Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE, DTM

As we are heading into back to school from Spring break season, children may encounter bullying situations. Often, children are at a loss of what words to use. Here is a quick guide of come-backs. Use them to write some more and you can practice with your child.

Think “self-talk”

“This kid has a real problem and I’m not going to let it be my problem.”
“I’m a good kid and I am not letting her win.”

Instead of being defensive, agree. It takes the wind out of the bully’s sails

“Yup! I’m the freckle queen!’
“Too many to count.”
“Yep, my glasses are geeky and they rock!”

Point out the obvious

“Why do you want to pick on a shrimp when that won’t prove anything about your strength?”
“I must be really important for you to give me this much attention!”
“Do you have anything better to do?”
“Guess it’s time to pick on me again. No one else smaller around?”
“Yep, if you can’t push yourself up, you want to pull me down, eh?”

Sometimes short and simple can deflate the emotional power of bully’s comments

“Brilliant”
“That’s creative.”
“You’re right.”
“Get a life”
“Whatever”

Try the direct approach

“That’s just mean.” And walk away
“That’s just lame.” And walk away
“Get a grip.” And walk away

Self-deprecating humour is a trick that stand-up comics (the victim) use against hecklers (the bully) and win over the audience members (the bystanders). It shows that you don’t take things seriously. This really deflates the bully’s power of control, because control has transferred to the victim.

“Big feet, big understanding!”

The bully says, “Are you ugly or just plain stupid?”
You can say:

• “Actually, both!”
• “Stupid is as stupid does”
• “Yep. So what?”
• “Yep, I’m so ugly that when I was born, they put tinted windows in my incubator!”

One of the best lessons they can learn this school year is how to say “no” to their peers, or even adults that don’t always have their best interests in mind. Here are some quick come-backs that parents can role-play with their kids in order to say “no” to actions they don’t want to do.

10 Ways kids can say ‘No!’ to peers wanting to bully

Ask questions – “What if such and such happens?”
Give it a name – “That’s bullying! No way.”
Refer to the parent – “Nope. My Mom won’t let me.”
Get an ally – “No, Jason and I are going to Switchbox instead.”
Suggest an alternative – “Why don’t we play Xbox at my house?”
State consequences – “I want a career in law enforcement and don’t need bullying on my record.”
Stall – “Hmmmmm…maybe later.”
Offer an excuse – “I have to go and meet someone.”
Say “No” another way – “I can’t.” “I don’t feel like it today.” No explanation needed.
Make a joke – “Yeah, wouldn’t that look great on YouTube!”
If all else fails – ignore, act busy, or just walk away.

More Video Help for Bullying:

Screen Time Research – Who to Believe?

cropped-familytoddler.jpg

http://

Many parents worry about screen time, especially after reading the latest study that involves children their children’s ages. However, how does one sort through the myths from the facts? It is becoming increasingly difficult.

Screen time addiction was not listed in the DSM-V (the main diagnosis manual for the medical community) because the health community can’t determine what amount of screen time or type of screen time constitutes addiction or harm. The evidence is not yet conclusive and until we have long term good meta-analysis evidence, no one can state how much is harmful. Opinions are all over the place because they are based on random studies, many of which are poorly done. What is a parent to do?  Until we have good evidence, moderation is the best practice.

What we do know, is that children in stable families, with low ACE scores (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are less likely to be susceptible to any the 10 addictions, including screen time, no matter how much screen time they have.  Families should aim for a balance of screen and real-time interaction with the priority on face-to-face relationships. For more information, this website is based on the research of 49 neuroscientists across North America.

The Brain Core Story Training

Here is a graphic I presented in one of my parenting groups recently. Addiction is at greater propensity when children experience toxic stress during childhood.  Toxic stress stems from the 10 ACES listed in orange. Research can’t provide good evidence yet which genes are activated by toxic stress, especially those children with addictions that run in the family. Screen time is deemed to be closest to the characteristics in a gambling addiction, but it still has unique qualities.

Best practices for parents?  Build close relationships with your children. Avoid toxic stress in the family.  Enjoy screen time in moderation.

tech science

How To Get Kids To Do Chores and At What Age?

Parenting expert, Judy Arnall, discusses the democratic, non-punitive way to get kids (and partners!) to help around the house!

What Chores When?

2-3 years old (done with adult)

Empty small wastebaskets

Put on pj’s

Pick up trash in yard

Wash face

Brush teeth

Comb hair

Help set table

Clear table

Help load dishwasher

Help put laundry in dryer or on drying rack

Pick up toys

Put dirty clothes in hamper

 

4-5 years old (done with adult)

Get dressed

Make Bed with Duvet

Pick up room

Dust their room

Hang wet laundry on clothes rack

Clean TV screen

Help in the yard

Get ready for bed (brush teeth, put on pj’s, etc)

Lay out clothes for next day

 

6-7 year olds (done with adult)

Brush teeth (with adult)

Set breakfast table

Help with dishes

Change sheets (help from mom)

Feed dog or cat

Vacuum room

Take out trash

Dust room

Sweep porch

Clean inside of car

Help with dinner

Sweep porches and walks

Help with dinner clean up

Dust baseboards

Fold laundry

Carry in groceries

Empty backpack lunch containers by the sink

Make sure backpack and school papers are by the door and ready to go

 

8-9 years old

Start ironing easy items

Clean sliding door glass

Clean fingerprints from doors

Dust other rooms

Wash car

 

10 years old and up

They can do all that the other ages do plus:

Change their sheets by themselves

Clean the bathroom

Clean up kitchen

Help with cooking meals and baking

Scrub floors

Water plants

Straighten bookcases

Wipe down washer and dryer

Sew and mend

Put away groceries

 

12 years old and up

Clean entire bathroom

Clean kitchen alone

Vacuum entire house

Do grocery shopping

Sew and mend

Repair jobs

Clean range

Help with heavy spring cleaning

Paint

Straighten closets and drawers

Get groceries

13 Years and Up

Everything an adult can do, a teenager can do!

Let them at it!