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That seems an oxymoron, putting Mr. Rogers (as in children’s television) and re-mix (as in recombination of music tracks to create something new) together. Mr. Rogers wasn’t a singer, a rapper, or even part of a band. Granted, my kids’ favorite bedtime music was a tape of some of the songs from his show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He was simply many, many a child’s (and adult’s) favorite television neighbor.

I love re-mixes. I love the creativity that is so stunningly demonstrated when one is well done. And this one by PBS Digital is now way at the top of my list. It’s only 3 minutes long and it will make you smile *all* day long. So take a listen to Gardens of the Mind, the Mr. Rogers Re-Mix, and remember all the good Fred Rogers stood for and all he’s left us to carry on with for the sake of children.

Smile!

Babette

I’m back! 🙂 And over the next few weeks, I’ll fill you in on some of the changes in my life and work. To kick things off, though, I want to share a most memorable story for this Memorial Day–and kick off a new series of articles. Developmental Milestones will share stories and examples from the “real world” of how children grow. It will put some concrete flesh on the theoretical bones of developmentalists like Piaget, Erikson, Elkind, and others.

Let’s start off with a photo. It’s not mine to embed so click here to take a look. Yes, that’s a five year old boy, patting the President of the United States head. Yes, he asked to pat it, to touch the President’s hair. Why? To see if it was like his own.

What’s going on here developmentally? During ages 1-3, children begin to develop a sense of being separate from the people around them. During ages 3-6, they begin to develop an identity. They aren’t just a separate entity, a different “thing” from you or me; they are a separate being with a unique identity. Of course, a 3 year old doesn’t verbalize or even think about this but all the things that make us human are driving him or her to explore identity.

What makes me “me” and not you? (And yes, if this sounds familiar, you are right. This exploration gets re-visited in adolescence; some actually call the teenage years “the second adolescence.” :-)) At this age the exploration is on very basic levels–Am I a boy or a girl? How do I know that? Am I strong, smart, shorter, taller, brown like you or white like her? Can I be a knight, a princess, a fire fighter, a doctor, a chef, a mother, a father?

Do you see where this is leading? Can I be President?

“Who am I?” Jacob is asking. Am I like him? His skin color is like mine; is his hair like mine?  Can I have fuzzy hair and be President? Can I be black with fuzzy hair and be President?

What do children see? Who do we allow them to see?

Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing didactic here. We don’t have to “teach” or knock them over the head with a two by four about prejudice or gender issues. But we do have to be aware of how much they are learning. It is important that all children see that a black person can be President or that a woman can be a doctor or that a dad can change diapers. It is important that they see their faces in books (including on the covers) and movies and computer games.

No matter what strides we make as a society in overcoming prejudice and racism, we will always have to remember that children ages 3-5 will be exploring identity. We need to give them opportunities to explore all the possibilities.

Questions? Comments? Just click below the headline. Want to read more? Click here for “Obama and the Snowy Day.”

Have fun!

Babette

All children’s books do not have to address a “growing up” issue. Some books are teetotally just for fun, for imagination, for the story, for the pictures. Children’s books “exist” for a million reasons.

Yet I am a complete pushover for books that capture a child’s view of themselves and the world. Why Do You Cry? by Kate Klise is my latest fave in this category. (Red Is Best by Stinson is another; I’ve been having a blast reading it at storytimes the last few weeks.)

Little Rabbit is turning five and planning the guest list for his birthday. Since when he turns five, he is going to be too old to cry, he doesn’t want anyone else coming to his party who cries. Of course, he finds out everyone cries, no matter their age, even his mother.

The premise is very much a child’s way of measuring “growing up.” And it’s a true discovery each time he talks with someone and finds out that they still cry. Life is still new; Little Rabbit is still learning. (And here’s a bonus: Notice how his mother helps him.)

The list of reasons people cry is well done and covers a nice gamut of reasons without being cloying, melodramatic, trivial, or overdone and scary. Each reason is stated as just a fact–which each is.

Adults often forget that emotions are high on the agenda of “things to learn” in a child’s life. We come “pre-programmed” to experience feelings but not to know what they are, what to call them, how to live with them, how they are a part of us and our relationships with others and the world. Why Do You Cry? gracefully helps little ones in its own little way with that part of “growing up.”

It’s all life!

Babette

We had Toddler Time today and several outstanding moments happened!

First, I had two dads with their little ones join us today. I love it when dads come–and before dads leave, they find out why it’s so wonderful when they can come.

Children need to see men reading and they need to have men read to them. This communicates to children, especially boys, that reading is a “guy thing.” Modeling and especially gender modeling is critical in from age 4ish-6ish.  That’s when boys and girls are trying to sort out what a woman is, what a man is, how do I tell them apart, and how do I look and act like the one I am.

This starts out as not much more than the same process they went through to learn the differences between dogs and cats. They set up in their minds, “Dogs have four legs, are furry, and bark.” Then one day they see a cat, call it a cat, and then hear it meow! Their dog category now has to change; they have to develop a cat category as well.

This is why you’ll hear kids claim that “all women are mommies and all men are daddies” or “all girls wear dresses, tractors can only be driven by men,–and only mommies and teachers read books.”

The solution? Actions speak louder than words. We have to show them. They need to find what works for them at this age for “being a girl” or “being a boy.” For some girls, that means wearing only pink, for some boys only wearing overalls. That’s what they need to be who they are at this age.

But at the same time, they need chances to see the big wide, wonderful world–and all the marvelous ways men and women live in it, quite comfortably. Like daddies playing at Toddler Time. 🙂

Second, afterwards I looked up from a desk to see a 20 month old girl, reading! She had climbed up into a big person chair near the front desk, reached to the top of a small display shelf, and taken down a paperback of Sisters Grimm (older juvi novel). There she sat, pacifier in mouth, tiny pigtails on top of her head, turning page after page, quite contentedly.

That girl’s parents ROCK! She knows what books are about!

This stuff works, guys! Read on!

Babette

Oh mercy, it’s amazing how much worry comes with being a parent–even before the baby is born! Is my child developing “on time” is one of the biggest. On the one hand, we see other babies who are doing things “sooner” than our child. On the other hand, ours is doing things “sooner” than someone else’s. There’s such a range for normal development; it’s not easy to sort out when there is or isn’t a problem.

When there is a problem, noticing it and diagnosing it early is always better. While early intervention is no “miracle cure,” it, combined with the incredible flexibility of the human brain in the early years, can make an incredible difference.

So what about speech delays? Dr. Perri Klass gives helpful perspective and guidelines here on when to be concerned and seek help.

I’d like to highlight two points that he raises as well.

First, is the importance of speech in the home and with the child. Language is a social event. It cannot be learned without “live people” to speak with. For babies and toddlers, that “speaking with” includes all the times that we as adults respond to their coo’s, babbles, and one word utterances. When those interactions do not take place, language cannot develop. And just to be clear about this, TV and computers cannot do this job. A child may hear them but machines do not interact. A child cannot learn language from a TV or computer;  in fact research shows that TV and computers delay speech development in young children. Talking with your child is essential throughout the birth to age six years.

Second, the importance of talking and reading in other than English speaking and/or bilingual homes is mentioned–but one important point is missing. As Klass eludes to, the language interactions can be in any language as long as the interactions are plentiful. And children can easily learn more than one language at a time (for instance, Spanish at home and English at day care). These children will initially have what appears to be a language delay. It isn’t–not in the sense of a delay that’s a problem. Children learning two languages at once will develop their expressive (spoken) language a bit later than peers learning only one language. When they start speaking, though, they will have both languages “down.” This is normal development and not a problem.

Keep talking!

Babette

It’s been a week since the news: Kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a DAY using some kind of media device.  That’s 47% of their waking hours IF they only sleep 8 hours a day (and the majority of children and teens need more sleep than that). No matter what you think the effects of that usage are, that is a lot of hours!

I like the New York Time’s report on it (click here) which includes a link to the report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, but it’s been reported in multiple news outlets which you can easily find. So instead of rehashing it, I’d like to give you some of my thoughts on it (and this may become a multi-post topic for a couple weeks).

First, a bit about our family and media. We’ve always had a limit on “screen time” with our boys. All screens combined (tv, computer, video games, handheld, whatever) were limited at first to none, then one hour a day, then to two.  We have no tv’s or computers in any bedrooms (including parents’). We have one tv, no cable, and until the last couple months when I started teaching online, we had only one computer. That “family” computer, though, we’ve had since 1995, heavily used by all of us over the years. We have “only” two cell phones in the household, the third is at college with the oldest; all three are prepaids and we use them quite minimally with texting not even set up on them.

We’ve tried over the years to accept the usefulness of developing technologies without ignoring them or trying to block them out entirely. We try to keep the focus on “tech as tool,” nothing more and nothing less. It is as Dr. Rich stated in the NYT article, they are present “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”

But bottom line, as parents, we still are the gatekeepers for health and safety for our children’s air, water, food–and media/tech use.

It’s not easy. We’ve just been through a painful period with our youngest over video games (which I will write more about later). I frankly get tired of evaluating, evaluating, evaluating my usage and my child’s usage on what feels like almost a daily basis. Many days, I just wish it would all go away.

But then, here I sit, using it to do two of the things I love best–blogging (a form of outreach and teaching, I hope) and teaching an online course. And I love it. 🙂

So what’s a parent to do? Here’s some  ideas that work for us:

  • Remember you are the parent. And media is not an essential for a healthy life. It truly isn’t. Confront some true suffering in life and you’ll get in touch with this very quickly. It’s a tool. It is useful. It is not life. Help your children learn to find the balance because they will have to do it on their own one day.
  • Keep your perspective. The article suggested that listening to music while surfing was an increase over what the study found. I’m not sure I agree. All my life (but especially when I was a teen), I listened to music while studying, while talking with friends, even while eating. I also spent an embarrassing number of hours on the phone with my friends. Is my son’s time IM’ing really that much different? On the other hand, if he begins to continually flip through songs without listening all the way through, if he never spends any face to face time with friends, those media uses are probably crossing the line into the potential problem area. And I help him correct those before they become habits. But otherwise, perspective tells me he’s actually being a pretty normal teen and just using a different modality than I did.
  • Set limits. And talk with other parents about these so “sneaking around” and being the big, bad “meanie” are less likely to happen. When media starts taking the place of doing other good things, there’s a problem. And with support from your child’s friends’ families, you’ll all be able to monitor those limits easier. (I guarantee you, they have the same concerns.) When the kids can’t do the easiest thing and get plugged in, they’ll find other things to do–and discover they can enjoy themselves and life without the electronics.

What are your concerns? What works for you?

More later!

Babette

So what do you do if you’re a tween or teen and your friends are driving you nuts at best with texting you–or at worst you’re being harrassed or even abused?

That’s Not Cool certainly can’t solve the problem but it’s got some great resources to kids for figuring out where and how to draw the digital line. There’s everything from sock puppet videos, call out cards (as long as kids “get” the sarcasm), and forums for talking out the problems of living in an electronic world. And for the worst case scenarios, there’s even live chat, national hotline numbers, and lists of abusive behaviors.

I haven’t personally had a chance to “test drive” the site with some kids, but it looked good enough to me to pass on to you. Let me know what “your” kids think!

Babette

As we barrel past Halloween in the next few days, many thoughts will turn to the holidays–and getting gift buying out of the way! Dr. David Elkind puppyaddresses several issues concerning gifts to kids in this blog post.

I am not a cynical or skeptical person, but I do believe that when dealing with businesses, we have to always be on the alert. Businesses are in the business of making money. They are not in the business of keeping our or our children’s best interests in mind.

Toys are for fun. Toys are for pretending. Toys are for being active. Toys are for relaxing. And when those things are in place, toys are then for learning and growing.

Anything more or less is junk. Or pure unadulterated “make a buck off a kid” marketing. Businesses really cannot have it both ways, saying that a “toy” promotes responsibility and caring–and then making it impossible for a child to be responsible and caring. (I say impossible because a child with the toy but without the money, ie, most children, cannot play. This has always been my main problem with Pokemon as well.)

Imagine being a child and still learning about the world. What message does this “toy” send? If I don’t have money, I can’t be caring? I can take care of things for a while, but when it becomes inconvenient then it’s ok to let things die? Or playtime, leisure time, down time can only happen if I have money?

Webkinz is not selling a toy here. They are selling a product to make a buck, pure and simple.

Where’s their responsibility? Maybe they played too long, didn’t pony up, and are now inured to what real life caring and responsibility are like.

Shop wisely this season,

Babette

hopscotchIs there a connection between reading and playing? The jury may still be out on a firm conclusion but the articles linked below are very persuasive that there may be a connection.

And why not play games? What have we or our children to lose? Over the last couple decades, schools have taught and tested our children at younger and younger ages–yet scores have continued to decline.

Earlier is not better. Dr. David Elkind wrote in the 80’s about research showing that if we taught children too soon (in other words, taught them things that were not age appropriate) that they did not truly learn those things, they became stressed out, and by third grade they hated school.

So here’s to games and letting kids be kids!

School Recess Improves Behavior

Oakland Group Seeks More Play in School Day (summary and audio)

The 3 R’s? A Fourth is Crucial Too: Recess (based on a study from the journal Pediatrics)

And tell me what you think!

Babette

It’s hhheeeerrreee! What you’ve been waiting for! All the gory details on

catrow-spot-1

summer reading! Read on! 🙂

Looking  for fun, games, and creative ways to fill those summer hours? Then come “Be Creative @ your library” with the Sum

mer Reading Club at Southern Peaks Public Library in Alamosa from June 1 through July 31.   The program is open to all young people, from birth through young teens, with visiting guests, prize drawings, storytime for toddlers, Mornings on the Lawn, and new this year—Games in the Park.

Why games this year? “Last summer we had a program when we all learned old dances—and then we got up and danced! Kids and adults alike had a great time. It got me to thinking about how little children get to play together any more,” says Babette Reeves, Children and Youth Librarian. “Since then, several studies have come out over the past year showing that in schools where games have been recently re-introduced to recess, the kids are doing better in their learning and social skills. Finally, games help us relax and loosen up and that helps us be more creative. We’re really sensing a lot of excitement around these game days and hope folks will come out and have a good time together.” All game days will be on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. in Cole Park behind the library.

On other Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. the library will continue its tradition of “Mornings on the Lawn” under the tents near the train with special guests and activities. The Penny Project and Sidewalk Poetry are just two of the programs offered. A special presentation by the Now or Never Theatre from Boulder, Colorado, will also be part of this summer’s creative line-up. Toddler Time for children from birth through age 3 will happen on Thursday mornings at 10:15 a.m. Complete schedules are available in the newspaper each week, from the library at 589-6592, or on the web sites, www.alamosalibrary.org or here at The Passionate Librarian, https://babetter.wordpress.com . All programs are free of charge.

New this year is the opportunity to register your children online at http://alamosalibrary.org under the Summer Reading link on the left. “We realize how busy parents are and hope online registration will make life a little easier while still encouraging parents and children to read during the summer,” says Reeves. “Registration is optional, there’s no deadline, and it can be completed from any computer anywhere at any time. Registration will help us with planning, and with a good response to it this year, we may be able to move reading logs online next year.”

Reading logs can be picked up at the library beginning May 25; children can begin recording their time as of June 1 and continue through July 31. Reading logs are time-based with opportunities to log “bonus reading” time as well.  Studies show that children who read just fifteen minutes each day during the summer retain skills needed for school in the fall.  And all reading counts!  Children may read books, magazines (yes, you can check these out, too!), cookbooks, game books, comic books, hobby books, newspapers, menus, signs, even web sites!  A child may be read to, may read on his or her own, or may read to another person in order to earn their time.  The Summer Reading program hopes to encourage children and their families to be creative and enjoy the downtime of summer with books and with each other!

Come have fun!

Babette

red-carIn toddlers, often short on the heels of that suddenly popular word “NO!” comes the word “MINE!” I’ll talk about “no” in another post, but what’s going with the word “mine?”

Why is it so hard for little ones to share? Why does cajoling seldom work? Why do we find ourselves prying toys from our guys little fingers in order to teach sharing?

Several reasons–and to understand, you have to think like a child. First, it’s a new skill. No one is born knowing about sharing or when, how, or why to do it. It must be taught and it must be learned–this is neeeew stuff.

Second, it’s hard to do. At the age when we usually start teaching sharing, a child has just become fairly mobile and can get to things that belong to someone else. But more importantly, they are developing a sense of being separate from those around them. They are developing a sense of being their own little person.

And what can help you feel separate more than having your own stuff? “It’s mine” means it’s not yours. This item in my hand makes me different from you; I have this, you don’t. I’m me, you aren’t me and I’m not you.

So this “MINE” business is important to a child’s growing. But does that mean we don’t teach sharing? Certainly not but there are a few tricks to make it easier.

One, don’t start too early. One year olds are not going to learn to share. Two year olds can maybe begin a little (but not all the time). It’s ok to tell another child, “She’s playing with that now; you can play with it later” and hand them another toy.

By three, kids should be getting more into the hang of sharing. But remember, they are still in the early stages of learning it.

And when you encourage and/or insist on it, add these words:

“You can share with Johnny. The car will still be yours.”

Often you’ll see the light go on.  “Oooohhhh, I get it. It’s mine so even if it leaves my hands, it’s still mine.”

Isn’t it cool? What a concept! 🙂

I truly believe the smallest things can matter so much.

There’s many things you can take away from this video, Validation. That’s part of what makes it good. (Glad to see it won an award for Best Narrative Short in the Cleveland International Film Festival!)

It’s also part of what makes for a good story. Remember that when selecting books. And when you finish reading one like this, nothing more needs to be said. 🙂

(At 16 minutes, this is a little longer than the typical YouTube. Sit back and enjoy!)

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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
snail mail
73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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