Let Kids be Kids

In the newspaper today was an article about the new Early Learning Centers in our district. In these centers, kids as young as 3 will be taught literacy and “classroom skills” (eg: how to stand in line, go to centers, etc.). The centers only go up to 2nd grade, and all the work is more intense. The reason? Too many children are deemed to be unable to read at grade level by 3rd grade, and so the powers that be are trying to find ways to avoid that happening.

Some thoughts: it seems that every year I hear about school systems seeing that some kids are falling behind and saying that the solution must be do things earlier and with more intensity. Usually there are also then articles from those who are experts in childhood development saying this is the wrong approach and that children learn by play, which needs to be encouraged. Somehow the school districts never seem to pay attention to that.

How many adults could sit quietly, keeping completely focused, for an entire school day? Not many, I’d wager. But these students are expected to do so. In the article, there was a description of a 1st grade classroom. A group of students was sitting at the teacher’s desk to have discussion time with her, and it mentioned that one girl was instead standing and jumping/dancing around while answering questions. Now, my daughter is in 1st grade, and does the same thing. It’s perfectly normal for a child that age.

In the article, though, it was mentioned that most teachers wouldn’t allow that, and don’t understand that children learn in different ways, but that this particular teacher knew the girl was engaged in the lesson and so was okay with it. How sad is it if our teachers don’t know that this age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate? I remember when I was teaching 3rd grade. I had a student who just truly needed to be standing and moving around to do his work. I made an agreement with him where he could do that, provided he was within reach of his desk. Suddenly, his behavior problems weren’t a problem, because he was able to do his work. When I praised him and recommended him for an accelerated program, though, I was met with skepticism.

My own children wouldn’t do well in a program where they had to sit quietly for hours on end. K needs to walk around to think about his ideas. C needs to bounce around. Often they try to sit on my birthing ball to do their work. And really, I don’t want them to just sit still all day. Don’t we hear every day about the obesity problem and that children (and adults) aren’t active enough? Why would I then want to make them develop the habit to be sedentary during most of their waking hours?

So really, I just want kids to be allowed to be kids. It’s how they learn best. Maybe we should change our methods to match their reality and development, instead of expecting them to just be quiet and sit still to make our lives easier.

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2017 Classics Reading Challenge

I’ve decided to join a reading challenge for this year. My brother said he was doing the Classics reading challenge, and since I want to catch up on some classics (or reread some good ones), I decided to join him in this. Now I just have to decide which books I’ll read! Here are the categories:

  1.  A 19th Century Classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.

    2.  A 20th Century Classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

    3.  A classic by a woman author.

    4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

    5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category.

    6.  A romance classic. I’m pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

    7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads.

    8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two CitiesThree Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

    9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It can be an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name in the title. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc.

    10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

    11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

    12. A Russian Classic2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author.

No Complaining

I don’t know quite how it began. I complained a little about this, maybe even in jest, then about that, then I was looking out for the negative things, just so I could complain about them. I found I wasn’t as positive as I’d once been, and kept complaining about more and more. Until one day I realized I was just becoming more and more negative, and that that isn’t who I want to be.

See, complaining really does change one’s outlook. If I’m always looking for things to complain about, then I’m missing all the good. The problem is that complaining and looking for the bad becomes an ingrained habit. So how does one replace a bad habit with a good one? I’ve personally decided that every time I complain, or am tempted to do, I should instead find two things to praise and be thankful for. Of course, I can’t just do it on my own, so I also ask for God’s grace to be able to do this. I trust that, with His help, this, and any other obstacles in my spiritual life, can be overcome. Here’s to no more complaining.

The Illusion of Choice

Pre Roe v Wade – a woman is in a difficult situation. Deadbeat partner, not enough money, abuse, or just alone, and pregnant. Her choices? Continue the pregnancy, or find someone willing to perform an illegal, and dangerous, abortion. The underlying problems remain, and she still has little to no support, with or without the abortion.

Post Roe v Wade – a woman is in a difficult situation. Deadbeat partner, not enough money, abuse, or just alone, and pregnant. Her choices? Continue the pregnancy, or go to a provider for a legal abortion, most of which are safer for her (though never completely safe). The underlying problems, however, remain, and she is likely to still have little to no support, with or without the abortion.

I long for real choice. I long for the time when a woman is in a difficult situation and instead of society saying, “we won’t help with your abuse, or mental health, or financial woes, or find a support team for you, but we’ll end your pregnancy for you,” we say, “hey, we’re here for you. You need help getting out? We can do that. You need help paying the rent or buying food? We can do that. You need a community to help you? We’re here!” I’m not naive – I know this isn’t going to magically take care of all problems, nor will it be easy. But until then, I don’t see real choices, just different ways women and families aren’t supported.

Update: I shouldn’t say that I don’t see any real choices, as Catholic Charities does provide that help. More is needed, though, and many women are not aware of this support. I also feel we need more federal support (for example, paid maternity leave).

2nd update: I know I’m just discouraged of late because I keep hearing how women need abortion because of these bad situations. I hate that it’s seen as a need. I know just having support isn’t always enough. I pray for all in these situations, and for the babies.

Vote Trump or the Baby Gets It

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I just saw this meme, and I can’t tell you how offensive I find it to be. Offensive? Yes, offensive.

So, why is it offensive? First, because it’s trying to guilt people into voting Trump by implying it’s the only way to save babies. Never mind that Trump is hardly convincing on being pro-life, that the Senate may very well not be Republican any longer (and therefore his Court appointments might not go through as he says), or that his other policies are the very antithesis of being pro-life. No, you have to vote Trump or else you’re a heartless person who wants babies to die.

I strongly feel that the pro-life movement is becoming a laughingstock by saddling itself with Trump. Certainly my friends and acquaintances who are not in the pro-life movement and are looking at it now are baffled and find it to have lost credibility. How can we champion life while also defending someone who has made inexcusable statements about so many and who refuses to condemn the violence his statements have spawned?

Look, I’m not saying “vote Clinton! Who cares about babies?!” I am saying that neither of them is pro-life, and you shouldn’t be guilted into voting for one based on that false premise. Inform your conscience and vote, but remember that it is also an option to vote 3rd party or abstain from voting for president if you wish. You don’t have to vote the lesser of 2 evils, and no one can make you go against your (informed) conscience when it comes to voting.

Being Pro-Life for the Poor

Some thoughts I’ve had on what it means to be pro-life for those who are not financially well-off:

Republicans tend to be in favor of banning abortion (good), but not so keen on helping families through public assistance, which means the reasons some get abortions are being ignored. For example, my state (with a Republican government) did not expand Medicaid, so if you make more than 33% of the FPL, but under 100%, then you cannot get Medicaid. They will pay for “family planning services,” so they’ll help make sure you don’t get pregnant, but won’t provide actual medical care (unless you do get pregnant). I keep reading about how the infant mortality rate in the state is too high, and how that could be lowered if women would get pre-conception medical care, but no one seems to understand that women aren’t just forgoing medical care for the fun of it, but because they can’t afford it.

Democrats, on the other hand, tend to be good about providing government programs for the poor (good), but also push for abortion and Clinton even wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment would allow Medicaid to pay for abortions, which seems to me would make those who are poorer feel more pressured to abort.

We need to recognise the struggles of those who are poorer. We need to provide support for them, so they don’t feel like their only choice is abortion. Being pro-life can’t start and end with banning abortion, but needs to encompass more than that.

Seeing Parenting Through the Eyes of God

My threenager got angry with me and screamed “I don’t even love you! I’m never going to love you! You aren’t mine anymore!” Words that hurt more than he knows, even though I know he doesn’t actually mean those words (thank God). I know he’s just angry because he had to wait for something he wanted.

As I quietly responded with, “I love you. I will always love you,” I thought of all the times I effectively tell God I don’t love Him. When I don’t feel like spending time with Him, when I get angry and scream in my head. I know, in those moments, He is quietly telling me, “I love you. I will always love you.” I may not want to hear it at those times, just like my child doesn’t want to hear me say it to him when he’s angry, but I know He says it. I know He holds me, like I hold my son at those times, even while he flails and screams louder.

Knowing that makes my heart hurt more. I know how much my heart hurts to hear my son say such things to me – how much more must God’s heart hurt, with so many of us telling Him we don’t love Him at times? And so, when my son says that to me, I try to think of God, and to hold Jesus and lean on Him, just being with Him and consoling Him in that way.

That makes it sound like I have it all figured out, but I don’t. But I’m learning – learning about how His heart must break for us, even as He continually reaches out to hold us while we fight. I never knew how much being a parent would teach me about love and pain and God. While I hate being screamed at like that, I can also thank God for the opportunity to learn this kind of love, to thank God for my (minuscule) sharing in the cross.