There are various methods for teaching a child how to do household tasks and motivating her to be involved in the daily work of maintaining the family home. One that's worked well for me is this: Show the child how to solve a problem she created, and then extend her new skill into routine maintenance. … Continue reading How to Get Preschoolers to Help with Housework
In this particular household of Earthlings, we all have about the same color of skin, and if we wanted to wear makeup we'd get the second-lightest shade in most brands: We are not the palest people on the planet, but we're fairly fair. That said, we're not especially prone to sunburn, so we don't wear … Continue reading Sunscreens that Save Your Skin Without Hurting the Earth
Once upon a time, there was a stuffed bear. It was a very soft bear, with shaggy white fur and a pink nose. It held a pink plush heart with a stiff taffeta ruffle around the edges, and on the heart was embroidered, Hug Me. The bear could never let go of that heart, for … Continue reading How Repurposing Brings Abundance
I recently read two novels translated into English, a book written in English that attempts to translate "boy world" into ideas parents can understand, and an English mystery with some parallels to the Swedish mystery I'd just read. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami, translated from Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum A young man finds … Continue reading Wild Sheep, Wingmen, and Dueling Detectives [book reviews]
Next week, I'll be starting a new job! That's great news in general, but it means I only have two days left to savor my daily bus ride with my four-year-old Lydia, bringing her home from preschool. My new job's location makes it too difficult and time-consuming for me to get to Lydia's school by … Continue reading Two Books for Me, Two for My Four-Year-Old
After I wrote about a stranger's astonishment that my four-year-old daughter understands what I read to her, and the book involved happened to be On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, my mom sent me a link to an article about the recent controversy over whether Wilder's books are appropriate for today's … Continue reading Cultural Sensitivity and Laura Ingalls Wilder
Well, it's happened with the second child: That moment when a total stranger interrupts my reading aloud to voice the opinion that the child is too young to understand what I'm reading. Here's how I described this phenomenon when my first child was 4 years old: I must say, I got far less flak from … Continue reading Our kids understand books because we read them books!
Lydia and I were riding in the back seat of our car, along the highway at the beginning of our family's Memorial Day vacation. Lydia was looking out the window at the passing cars and suddenly turned to me. LYDIA: Mama, do you know about a tater-totter? That's a car but with two wheels in … Continue reading Tater-Totter: A 4-year-old’s Traffic Safety Invention
Tonight I attended a meeting at my son's school (grades K-8) about the decision to hire a full-time security guard and get a metal detector. I meant to do some research before the meeting on the extent to which schools with metal detectors have experienced shooting rampages, compared to schools without. I ended up not … Continue reading Do metal detectors prevent school shootings?
Both of my children have gone through a sequence of behavior toward food that's familiar to a lot of parents: They started out eagerly sampling the foods their parents eat and liking almost everything! Then, around the third birthday, they became much more particular and soon established a short list of acceptable foods, just a … Continue reading My 3-year-old’s 3 Favorite Foods
I love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and have treasured the experience of sharing them with my children. Little House on the Prairie was the first chapter book that interested Nicholas enough for me to read it to him. His sister Lydia's first chapter book was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of … Continue reading Little House on the Prairie: Too racist for children?
On the way home from preschool on Monday, after we got off the bus in our neighborhood, Lydia stopped to examine a pine tree in the tiny yard of an apartment building. I took this opportunity to get some photos of her looking cute in her winter gear (she'd insisted on wearing two hooded cardigans … Continue reading The Urban Nature Experience All Children Deserve
It's Dr. Seuss's birthday! This is the day to enjoy reading a Dr. Seuss book, no matter how old you are. Stop by your local library and look for one you haven't read before! That's how we found Scrambled Eggs Super! (reviewed here). If you've never read I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew … Continue reading Easy Costume for Dr. Seuss Day
My son Nicholas turned 13. It happened more than a month ago, and I wouldn't have any more to say about it than any other birthday if it weren't for other people's reactions. Nearly every time somebody asks how old he is now and I tell them, they have something to say about it (beyond … Continue reading Oh, no, a teenager!!!
I've been rereading books lately (including The Geography of Nowhere, reviewed here) and reading magazines, but here are two books I read with my kids in the past month. The Giver by Lois Lowry My seventh-grade son Nicholas read this book in school and then, coincidentally, was given a copy by his sixth-grade cousin who'd … Continue reading The Giver and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [book reviews]
We’ve raised our kids to be mostly vegetarian. We have fish once every week or two, but we never cook any other meat at home. We sometimes eat meat in restaurants or in other people’s homes. So it’s really more accurate to say we eat a low-meat diet than to say we’re vegetarian. It’s more … Continue reading I let my vegetarian kid cook a steak.
A few years ago, some people from Alumni Relations invited me out to lunch so they could ask for my perspective (about 20 years after graduation) on what my Carnegie Mellon education has meant to me. I was flattered, and it was such an interesting question to consider that I've thought about it many times … Continue reading What I Really Learned in College
Are you the parent struggling to leave your child's school each day as he clings to your legs, screaming and crying? Is every morning a struggle to get yourself ready for work and your kid ready for childcare, while she delays in every way imaginable until you're shrieking in frustration, and then she looks at … Continue reading Coping with a Clingy Child
My three-year-old Lydia and I recently enjoyed a picture book from our local library, Jacob's New Dress by Sarah & Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case. Jacob is a preschool boy who enjoys wearing dresses from the costume box but is criticized by his classmate Christopher. His mom is kind about his hurt feelings, but when … Continue reading Every school needs a Jacob!
I'm nervous posting this because of the freakout when Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old ride public transit alone. I don't want to be the next "America's Worst Mom"! But I think it's important to talk about how to approach children's independence safely and gradually so that they learn the skills they'll need as adults. Nicholas is … Continue reading Why My 12-year-old Is Riding Public Transit Alone