Is It Too Late to Play?

I just finished listening to a podcast with the guest speaker, Adele Diamond. She’s a neuroscientist and has studied child development and talked about a subject I struggle with, The Science of Attention. There’s a lot of talk in the last 20 plus years about revamping our school system. The problem is that we think we know what it should look like, but the ideal education image changes with every generation. For a time we looked to Korea as a guide. Then more of a free-for-all was ideal. Is it rote memorization or phonetic writing? With children it could look one way and be a great school for 20% of the kids, but not the remaining 80%. No child is like another. There are also those dear adaptable kids that flourish in many environments. This just screws up all the statistics.

So what makes a good education? Right now there’s a lot of talk about how we’ve removed all the fluff and it’s the fluff that is as needed as much as the rest. Music, noncompetitive play, art, philosophy and life skills. Good play which can be sports, music, and pretend increases children’s ability to pay attention. It cultivates executive decision making.

Is it too late to play?

Adele Diamond spoke of a normal thing called mirror writing. I remember my kids doing that when they were learning to write.

“And Elena Bodrova has a very simple way, and after an afternoon or an evening, the mirror writing is gone. What she says is, when you go home tonight, and you do your math homework, every time you’re supposed to write a 6, put down your pencil and pick up a red pencil. That’s all she says. That’s the whole instruction.”

Is it too late to play?

Is it possible to increase your adult organization skills by continuing to play? So let’s experiment with some of the things mentioned. This week when you’re defaulting into a bad habit, do it differently. Try standing on one foot. Or using  a red pencil. Take your laptop or tablet to write into the kitchen. Stand instead of sit. Eat your ice cream with a fork. Run without music and watching the mileage. And don’t forget to play, because I don’t think it’s too late.

Here are some educational links meant for teaching but go ahead and take a look:

 

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There is No Savior Coming

There is no savior coming. The world didn’t end and the planet is still spinning. We waited. We went to our rooftops and waited. Patiently. We looked up and knew our salvation would come. Our justice. Our time of redemption. Our toils and hard days are over. Finally there was a reward for our long labor. Surely, it wasn’t in vain.

Ha! Nothing happened. But what does that mean? No Santa coming down the chimney? No Peter Rabbit? What about Jesus? Or the Saints? Surely someone is coming. They do know we are looking for them, right?

Why has there been no savior? Where is our hero? Better yet, have you looked at ourselves lately? We are acting like children. We are acting like teenagers whose parents are out-of-town. We have the house to ourselves and we’ve wrecked it.

I was thinking about this in the light of Santa and childhood stories and it dawned on me. What if no saviors are coming because they want us to grow up? It’s entirely possible that if there are gods watching over us, they are using tough love. When the fridge is empty, we might have to go to the store ourselves. We might have to wash a dish or mow our own lawn. Jiminy Cricket! Has it come to that?

Yikes! God can’t be that cruel could he? This is all speculation on my part. I don’t have a divine link or anything mystical like that. I do know child development. When a child is on the floor throwing a tantrum, the most effective method is to walk away. We want, as parents, to grab the child and stop the noise, but that’s not the best way for a child to learn. People learn experimentally. Or, in the words of science, empirically. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Empirical

A plague, on which is represented St.George re...

We learn by trying. We learn by failing. We learn not to stick our hands on the hot stove because we have done it. Ouch. Hot. Parents that protect their children from failure aren’t really helping them at all. They are crippling them. Children allowed to explore and grow can make better decisions. They aren’t innocent but they are wise. There is a sense of fullness to their energy.

If I were a god, if I were in charge, I would wait. I would not jump in to rescue us. We have not come to the fullness of our learning. We need to experience our own strength. This is not to show us how inept we are or how much we need a big strong god. This is how you grow a strong person. You let them make choices. You let them try.

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Limitations, Boundaries, and those cute Picket Fences

mskittyshoulderSometimes when I’m in the bathroom my cat will sit on the floor and stare at me. It’s annoying. You may ask why I don’t lock her out. I feel guilty. She is home alone all day so I feel I shouldn’t limit my time with her. So I resent her stare.

Games we play

This is the game we play and you may recognize it. She stares and I feel guilty. I pet her and allow her to rub around my legs, until. There’s only so much I can take with all that attention. We both mean well.

The funny thing about it is, when I am with her overextended vacations, she still meows when she doesn’t see me in the room with her. If I step outside to take out the trash or go run an errand, it’s no different. She still wants the same amount of attention as she did when I’m only home for a few hours. So in my great reasoning, I don’t think it’s because she misses me.
I read somewhere that a cat’s memory is only a few minutes. She doesn’t know how long I’ve been gone.

This guilt I feel is just empty guilt. I am projecting how I would feel in her shoes (paws).  So why am I feeling so miserable? What do I really want? I like it when we snuggle up on the couch together. I like it when she greets me in the morning. Even when I come home. The time when I’m in the bathroom and she’s staring at me is my fault. I let it happen. If I really want to be alone at that time I need to close the door. A simple thing really.

picket fence
picket fence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How often do we do this? We yell at people unnecessarily instead of metaphorically and physically closing the door. Have you ever told someone “Yes, I’ll do that for you,” when really you feel like vomiting at the thought of doing it? We go along with things when we have other plans. We say yes to their idea even when we disagree. It’s not necessary. We think we’re being kind. All we’re really doing is building up a reason to hate someone who we would normally love. That’s what resentment does. It builds a wall of hate. Get enough resentment built up and what happens? We yell. We scream. We blame. We walk away in anger. Is this what we want? Is it inevitable?

Kids need boundaries

http://www.examiner.com/article/why-children-need-boundaries
In the study with a group of children on a playground, the children without a fence around them did not play close to the edge but clustered towards the center. The children that were in a fenced area used the entire playground to play. So it would seem that if you place boundaries in your life and those around you, you are actually giving yourself freedom. Ironic isn’t it? I know in my life, I feel freer creatively, if no one is around to disturb me and there are no other pending appointments. When I know my creative time is short I feel pressure, which goes against every creative bone in my body.

Right here and now

I have the right to close my bathroom door so that I’m not stared at by my cat. I have the right to not answer my phone if I’m needing to work. I feel so much freer knowing that I can put a fence around my time and declare that this is my time. I can put up a fence and stick my flag in the ground. This is my time! Right here and now. Kings do it, presidents do it, astronauts do it in the name of their country, and so can you. If it helps, you can make yourself a flag and put it in the middle of your room or outside your closed door. Name your kingdom. Just remember, you are the enforcer. Even if your best friend calls or your mother, you have to let them know that you will have to call them later.

If this has not been a part of your life before, people may not honor your boundary. But if you continually tell them, eventually they will learn to respect your fence. With cats, children, spouses, or parents, it’s no different. They learn what we teach them. If we teach them that it’s okay to call us names and hurt our feelings (by allowing it), then that is what we will get. Some people in your life will need retraining. But that’s okay. Think of it as an experiment. Who is the easiest to teach? How long did it take? How did they react in comparison to a different person? Be firm, but not rude. repeat the same line 30 or 40 times if necessary. “I can’t talk now. I’ll call you at 5:00.”  Don’t explain. Don’t vary. I’ve used this technique several times and it’s like magic, but you have to state it firmly and without emotion.

What works for you? Leave a comment.