Monday, May 16, 2011


Play is powerful. I posted about play in January (here and here), but it just keeps coming back. And this week's NYT article's tales of Junior Kumon, "Fast Tracking to Kindergarten," is disturbing. Who on earth thinks 3 year-olds need to go to a tutoring center to fill in worksheets?

I am stunned by the power of play in my home. At 3, Claudia has elaborate scenes with her bunnies and her baby dolls and dress up. She was just at the beach today (well, really making a beach scene on the big chair). She has smeared hand sanitizer all over the carpet with a hand towel playing Annie. She can recognize her name on her birthday cake. She "reads" books to herself: familiar ones and new ones, sings and tells stories- especially ones with big, bad wolves. She plays with cups of water in the sink, matches socks, and counts the stairs when she climbs. I just don't see what Kumon could offer her. She is already so busy.

And Fran hurried home from soccer today to continue working on his hockey scene: Playmobil men vs. superheroes. He has repurposed several sets of toys and boxes to create this play scene. It is very involved and he is quite busy with it. He came home all upset that fish (instead of pizza) was for dinner- then went to play and bounced back so well. His sustained play may look like a mess, but it's highly organized and purposeful.

Play is so important. And rigor is important. But the play has to come first. Kids need solid skills from play: exploration, discovery, inquiry, elaboration, stamina, self-direction, and the ability to engage with their own minds to meet the demands of rigorous (and, of course, process-based) programs with joy and enthusiasm.

Alphabet Bingo at home?  Sounds fine. (Games, glorious games!)  Making cards or a book for Grandma?  Sounds great. Cooking? Folding laundry? Riding bikes? Gardening? Good, good, good, good.  Hours spent on worksheets and homework- at age 3? I don't think so. Perhaps some fact or handwriting practice in elementary school- but minutes, not hours, so there is still down time for play.

The work of play for preschoolers is simply too valuable to be replaced with rote learning.

Rants you may have missed this year: The Harry Potter Manifesto, posts about the Millage, and of course The Baby Flashcard Manifestodetailing my confusion and abhorrence with the "Your Baby Can Read" (quotes are intended to mock the program in addition to indicate the title) Videos and Flashcards Program and its subsequent lack of authentic activities and organic learning. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Screens and ADHD- the chicken or the egg?

I think most people know where I stand on screens.

We do not yet have a video game system.  We have computers and some screen gadgets. We have a TV. (We watch it and we admit we watch it.) During the week, we are pretty busy with school and playing and dinner and baths and stories.  Days are full and screens are dark for the kids.

But really, there are so many screens: phones, computers, TVs in stores and restaurants, video games, computer games...It's pervasive. There's even a TV at our teeny neighborhood Kroger.

Today there were some musings about screens and ADHD in the NY Times. It's a chicken and the egg thing: Is increased screen time a cause or a consequence of ADHD?  Or both? Do people with ADHD get more gratification from screens than those without? Although there aren't definitive answers, more and more continues to be learned about brain functioning.

Regardless, it's a good reminder to pull screens from children's rooms, manage content on screens (violence, frenetic activity, etc), and to balance screen time with real-life experiences.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Prayer for My Daughter

Many have read Tina Fey's "A Prayer for My Daughter" from her new book Bossypants.

Just this afternoon, I have written a little prayer for my daughter.

First, Lord: Thank you for her loveliness 
and her well controlled bathroom skills 
and her love of her little pink potty.  

We have been diaper free for over a year
and it is lovely to no longer experience 
the diaper-poop-tushie smoosh anymore.

But please, can you help her be ready
to try her #2s on the big toilet
instead of her little pink potty
because it's still a little gross.


* Disclaimer:  This is not intended in any way to belittle God, religion, the faithful, power of prayer, or the purposes they play in people's lives. But these words have been going through my mind.  And they are truly from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Voting: Yes! Pedicure: No!

There is a scene in "You've Got Mail" that really hits home. The Meg Ryan character is breaking up with her boyfriend (played by Greg Kinnear), and she admits to him that she didn't vote for Ruth Messinger in the mayoral election because she went for a manicure and forgot to vote. When I was watching this movie, this creeped me out because the exact same thing happened to me. When we lived in NYC,  I also forgot to vote for Ruth Messinger- but I was getting a mani-pedi.  (This movie was also filmed at the school where I worked!)

Well, today, I plan to vote YES in the Washtenaw County Special Education Millage Renewal. I haven't made it to vote yet: I took Colby to Mott, mishandled some work e-mails, volunteered at Fran's school, and stopped by 826 Michigan and the post office. I still need to vote.

But right now, it's happening again. I feel an uncontrollable desire to sneak in for a pedicure before I pick up Claudia from preschool. I do not have time to do this; it's voting day. But my toes could use a professional coat of polish. This home-pedi business isn't working so well. Hmmm... maybe I should see if they can squeeze me in before I go get Claudia. Wait, what was it I was supposed to do again?

VOTE!  Vote yes! No pedicures today- only voting!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ultimate Birthday Card

Francis loves his Grandma. 
And he loves her birthday.

So he sent her fancy green placemats. 
She loves fancy green placemats.

And he sent her fancy lemon cookies. 
She loves fancy lemon cookies.

He also made her a fancy card with her name on it. 
She loves her name: Roseanne. 
Not Rose Ann. 
Not Rosana. 
Not Rose Anne. 

She told him that she loved her card.

Grandma Roseand looking quite fetching and blowing out her candle.
And green is her favorite color...

"Happy Bithday, Roseand!"  We can't wait to see you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What's your Name?

I forgot to post this.

When I asked Claudia where her name was on her "fancy pink cake with pink flowers," she pointed right to C-l-a-u-d-i-a.  She said, "that's my letter," to the "C".

What a big girl.

Birthday Girl!