Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

Today was a good day. Today my son played a cooperative game with others. This seems like no big deal, right? The thing is that he is 46 months old and he has never attempted to make a friend or play with others outside of the family.

Sure, he has  many opportunities each week, and sometimes each day, for cooperative play. Yes, I encourage him to make choices on his own, but he chooses to keep his distance from children even if he has met them or played near them before. He prefers to have a large personal space "bubble" around himself. He often becomes agitated, screams, squeals, or runs away from other people if they cross that imaginary line he has created which signifies the edge of his personal space. If a child climbs up the play structure stairs at a park, he waits. If another child comes near the stairs, he waits. He does not want to be on the stairs with another person outside of his comfort zone or family. If someone looks his way or seems interested in chatting, he has an adverse reaction that is often noisy and troublesome to those of us who are present. (Purchasing ear plugs has crossed my mind to be honest.)

Today was different. Today he kept his distance, spoke to himself, played on his own, and spoke to me off and on for several hours. He also felt comfortable enough to speak to an adult (who is not a family member) for a moment, then he ran off to be by himself again. (This is also a fairly new behavior.)

Then something changed. All of a sudden I noticed he was not hiding from others, walking to a space with no people, or screaming. He was playing! Another mom and I looked at each other and were both a bit shocked. This has not happened before.  I am so happy for him. All of the time spent discussing and practicing social skills as he was interested, has helped.

Keep in mind that this could be a positive pattern or that he may choose to go back to screaming, running, and other behaviors that do not really address the issue inn a positive manner. Sometimes once is all we get for a while when he progresses. No worries, I will take it. There is nothing wrong with honoring at a child's pace. He will "get it" eventually as he is able to handle social situations using coping skills he has learned.

(Please excuse any typos as it is after midnight, but I felt the need to write down this exciting experience.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Book Review : How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too! by Gerald Newmark

I agreed to read and give an honest review of How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too!, which was written by Gerald Newmark, in exchange for a copy of the book. I read the text with an open mind, but also thought about it from the perspective of a teacher as well as the perspective of a parent.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Newmark made sense, gave examples, and showed how to proceed beyond the basic ideas in the book. There are work book style pages toward the end of the text which help parents and families to individualize the way in which their home affects emotional health.

The only concern I noted was that the author does give a bit more power to the adults than I would consider appropriate. There are a few places where I noticed the author suggesting the parent pulls rank or that there is a family rule. The suggestion seems to address parental wants, for example clothing choices, rather than a mutual want that parent and child agree upon. I would urge caution when parents are pushing their preferences on children for any reason. I will say that the author does focus most of the book on mutual decisions that work for all people involved.

That being said, the book rises well above the texts I had to read and implement while employed as an elementary school teacher. It also considers the rights and emotional health of a child rather than only the wants of an adult who is "in charge". This book would be useful to all families, not just those who use little or no punishment. This book can serve as a guide to help teachers to create a positive environment with the help of students and parents.

It is my opinion that  How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too! is useful and respectful to both children and adults. This book gives as much or as little support as a family or classroom needs. It is easy to create a positive, gentle, caring, and respectful environment with the help of this text.

 You can learn more about Gerald Newmark's work by visiting The Children's Project .

How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too! by Gerald Newmark can be purchased through this link.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Time4Learning Review

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Check back for more info in the coming weeks! 


The coursework at the web site Time4Learning was clear and informative for each lesson and each topic we used. My children were split on their opinions. One of them loved the videos while the other wanted to see more hands on activities that she could do independent of the computer. Both children liked the games to an extent, but the games were often too difficult or too easy. We would have to play around a bit longer to figure out exactly which games/levels were appropriate for their learning styles and academic levels. All in all, I think this site would be useful to many students on a full time basis, for partial academic courses, or to fill in some areas that needed remediation.

* We tried Time4Learning on a trial basis at no charge and this is our family’s honest review of the website.