I have been blogging about two years now. I started because I wanted to share my passion for using picture books to help young children build self-esteem. I also wanted to spread the word about my book, “Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking”, and make it available to parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and others who work with kids.
It’s been an exciting journey…and a satisfying one. I’ve connected with the most fantastic people all over the world. I’ll even be meeting one of them in person next May in Singapore when I participate at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content. I’ve also exchanged books with many authors and have enjoyed reading and reviewing their works.
Today I am thrilled to be spotlighting “It’s OK NOT to Share…and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids”, written by Heather Shumaker.
Heather is a journalist…so she knows how to write. Heather researched dozens of child psychologists, educators and other experts and she is a mom herself…so she knows what she is talking about.
This book provides a no-nonsense commonsense approach to parents…a definite breath of fresh air. As you read this book, you will begin to feel the stress of parenting melt away…and the joy returning!
In Section I, she talks about “Reviving Free Play”…do you know that many preschools and kindergartens are curtailing play time so there is more opportunity for sitting the kids down with dittos and computers to learn to read and write? But taking away free play has the opposite effect and the long-term results show that young children would benefit more from playing with blocks.
The other day, I did a post on the top ten toys for young kids. Heather encourages parents and teachers to ‘Welcome Free Play’ with this list:
1. Make literacy joyful: read with them, sing with them, do finger-plays, let kids fall in love with words now…and reading will follow after.
2. Go outside: walk in the woods or the neighborhood, play with balls, sand and water.
3. Choose open-ended toys that promote imagination: blocks, play-dough, non-branded stuffed animals and dolls, cardboard boxes, dress-up clothes, bells. (Our lists for this are almost identical!)
4. Offer space: kids need room to play…move or remove furniture if necessary.
5. Cut structured activities: kick a ball around with your child, make up your own games…when I visited my grandson, we took a big ball and walked over to the tennis court (which has a high fence all around it and a gate that locks…no worries about balls rolling into traffic) and played kick the ball and run after it for an hour. When we needed to take a break from running, we walked around the inner perimeter of the court and observed bugs, leaves and puddles…taking time to jump in some of those, just for fun!
6. Look for a play-based preschool: look for schools where at least ¾ of the time is devoted to free play and play-time in at least one to two hour blocks of time.
7. Slow down: both you and your child will be happier and less stressed.
In Section II, Heather explains that “It’s OK Not to Share.” If you have younger siblings, I’m sure you will remember having to give up a toy to a brother or sister because they clamored for it and your mom told you, “Give it to your sister…she’s just a baby.” Does that encourage love between siblings? NO! Does it help the younger one learn to respect others? NO! Does it teach patience? NO!
In Section V, the author spotlights “Creativity, Persistence and Empty Praise”. At workshops and school programs, one of the things I share with parents is that they can encourage their children by allowing them to create art as they see it, not as the parent thinks it should look. As Heather says, “Art doesn’t have to be pretty.” According to Heather, “Showering kids with praise is NOT the same as building healthy self-confidence.” Acknowledging what the child has done, instead of saying things like “Good job or very pretty or that’s nice”, is much better for their inner self-worth. With so much focus on bullying and how we need to stop it in schools and playgrounds, we must pay attention to this advice…helping children develop a positive self-image and true self-esteem is crucial!
Each of the eight sections of the book is CHOCKFUL of real-life scenarios involving kids and adults. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in some of the examples…I know I did. However, the author does not make us feel badly…she provides simple tips, techniques and examples that will help us engage in meaningful interaction with our children, creating balance and harmony for the entire family.
You can find copies of this book for sale on Amazon (what an amazing holiday gift for any parent or teacher), or go to the author’s website where you can find many other purchasing options and learn how to connect with her. The book was a joy to read and I will be passing my copy along to my daughter who has a four-year old son…I know she will love it.
Don’t forget that Wednesday is the Halloweensie Contest on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog…I’ll be posting my Halloween Picture Book story…in 100 words or less…I’ll include the link to the page where you will be able to read all of the other entries. There are so many amazingly talented writers and illustrators out there…it will be great fun!