Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving upon us, we are reminded of the importance of 'giving thanks' for all of the blessings in our lives. So many of us have experienced tragedy, hard times, economic struggles, etc so it can feel difficult to give thanks at times. And then we try to teach our children to 'be thankful' but what does that mean? I think it is more a way of life rather than something we do in November, but giving thanks at any time is a good thing!

Some activities that I like to do with my kids, and what I have done in my classroom, is to teach them what is 'giving thanks.' A cute idea is to do a Thankful wreath. Cut a hole in the center of a paper plate & make leaves out of construction paper. The children can write or draw what they are thankful for and glue it to the Thankful Wreath. Some families engage in prayer. This is a great way to regularly engage in being thankful. Even if you do not subscribe to traditional prayer or religion, you can have discussions with your children about what they can be thankful for (a warm home, a loving family, food, pets, friends).

Focusing on the positive and giving thanks on a regular basis helps us to focus on what is really important and distract us from the everyday, 'small stuff' that they speak of. Sometimes that 'small stuff' doesn't seem so small, until we are faced with a real tragedy. Hopefully you will not be faced with such a tragedy. But I find that even trying to be thankful during my most stressful times helps me to focus on what is really important in life.

So with Thanksgiving upon us, I hope we will all stop to reflect upon what is good in our lives and what we have to be thankful for. If possible, spread this throughout the year. I promise this will enrich your lives. Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for my family, my warm home, food on my table, the ability to work, the ability to connect with others, and for all my supportive readers and friends!

For more ideas, please check out my friend's page. This has been such an inspiration to me and many others.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Homeschooling FAIL!!!

So as you may or may not know, we joined 2 groups, or co-ops, when we decided to homeschool. The first is run almost like a school & the moms share teaching different academic areas. It's very cool. So as part of that, I was given Native Americans to teach the littles (ages 4-7).

Now 2 other moms have gone before me with topics such as Iceland & Mexico. They had powerpoint presentations, had the kids make books comparing Norway to Iceland, awesome authentic foods to try....As an early childhood teacher, I figure I had this in the bag right?!  NOT!

I don't know what happened, if I choked or what, but I felt like my lesson was an EPIC FAIL. I knew less than the other moms (and some of the kids) & I was the teacher that day! The 'lessons' I had planned either tanked or the kids flew through them. This was a lesson in humility for sure!

In my defense, Native Americans is an extremely broad topic with insane amounts of information. It is also a topic most Americans are pretty knowledgeable about, unlike Iceland or Mexico. However, I think the main problem is that I approached this EXACTLY like an early childhood teacher. I framed my lessons in the way a classroom teacher would have. However, these are homeschooled kids and this is not a classroom!

There were glimmers of hope. The kids enjoyed carving pumpkins & drawing pictures using petroglyphs - but did I use the word 'Petroglyphs'??? NO! Would you use that word in a typical kindergarten classroom? Probably not. But herein lies the problem...this is NOT a typical kindergarten classroom!

So I hang my head in shame & beat myself up over a crappy lesson. All in all, it was fine, the kids seemed interested & had some fun. I walk away a bit embarrassed & with a bruised ego. But with that comes a lesson for me. 15 years of teaching experience in early childhood doesn't make me an expert. Actually I don't even feel qualified at the moment. Clearly I have a lot to learn & room to grow. Years ago a failure such as this would've crushed me. Now I kinda laugh (KINDA) at myself & say 'Better Luck Next Time.'

And there will be a next time. Next week to be exact, when I conclude the lesson on Native Americans. I have a lot of creative ideas & cool activities floating around in my head. Hopefully they will be as cool & informative as I imagine them to be. If not, so be it. I'll live to tell another tale.....

I guess the moral of the story is, no matter how much experience you have, or how well educated you are, there will come a time that you fail. How will that moment define you? Will it be destructive or constructive? Will it cause utter devastation or will it cause the creative juices to flow? Will it be the end for you or just the beginning? For me, it's just the beginning.............................of a whole new chapter! GAME ON!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Being Thankful...

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and living in an area affected by the storm, I am reminded of how fragile life is. Looking at pictures of my hometown, the towns of my friends and family, and seeing the devastation is unreal. I am blessed to say that everyone I know and love is safe. Property is replaceable, people are not.

However, out of the rubble rises the human spirit. I am in awe of the strength of people and how we all come together in times of need. I have watched many friends go straight to the devastation to help others, neighbors taking in neighbors, local businesses organizing donations to take to those who lost everything...

I am particularly in awe of how social media played (and continues to play) a huge part in the organization of people, donations and information. In a few short hours, groups were formed, trucks were being loaded, people were headed to where they were needed. Everyone is looking for a way to help the unfortunate, the displaced. Social media helped stop the NYC Marathon! We live in a time, that with all the flaws of social media, it can be such a powerful tool for greatness. 

I love this sense of community, working together, taking care of each other and wish it would last. I know it won't and eventually we will all get back to our normal lives and start focusing on other things. I guess a time of crisis makes us focus on the basics, on what is really important. My wish is that we all keep that in mind when the smaller, less significant things in life become overbearing. So go hug your kids, call that old friend, make a donation. The mess can wait. The laundry can wait. The bills can wait. In a blink, it could be gone. Cherish the time you have and the people you love.

For those who have lost their homes, belongings, pets and loved ones. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Rest assured your neighbors to the north are working hard to get the things you need down to you. Stay strong. I hope this finds you warm, fed and safe. Much love.