First Light Early Education Program

A Community of Healthy Families

Creating a Family Mission Statement

In today’s hectic, complicated world, many families find themselves without a “road map” for helping their kids avoid getting lost.

Might it be wise to sit down as a family and create a type of family mission statement… a set of core values that serves as a road map for behavior?

One parent described her approach:

We talked as a family about what types of values we feel proud to live by. Then we posted them on our refrigerator.

Our family believes in…family_1

–          Treating others the way we want to be treated

–          Honesty

–          Politeness

–          Doing our best even when something is hard or boring

–          Being healthy and safe

Our three year old needed a lot of help with these, but the older kids caught on quickly. We made sure to admit that we, as parents, would be held accountable for living by these values too!

This is a great tool for teaching self-discipline and problem-solving. Now we just say to our kids, “Feel free to do what you would like as long as it fits our family’s values.”

Does your family have a mission statement? If so, share it with us below! If not, I challenge you to sit down with your family this week and begin the process.

This post was adapted from Love and Logic Insider’s Edition with Dr. Charles Fay.

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Nurturing Your Child’s Gift

Child with Toys

Our children all have special areas of gifts and talents in which they can excel. The child who appears to be average takes on a whole new look once parents and caregivers see his or her gifts. This understanding opens a new set of possibilities for each child. Imagine how exciting it would be for your child to find areas in which he or she excels, and imagine how much joy there is in parenting when the purpose is to nurture and to encourage those special traits that your child possesses.

This week, I challenge you to see the gifts your child has and find ways to develop and nurture those gifts.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • To encourage leadership, play a few rounds of Follow-the-Leader
  • To encourage creativity, find a spot in the house where you “need” some artwork. Have your child come up with an idea to decorate the area.
  • To encourage humor, make one day each month “silly meal day.” Serve dishes that are different and unusual.
  • To encourage kindness, find ways to help those who are shut-in, have special needs, or are in need of some small favor.

What are some other ways you can nurture your child’s gift?

Source: Wyoming Parent Education Network, www.wpen.net

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Pile on the Fall Fun!

I’ve recently come across a calendar produced by Wyoming Quality Counts!, an organization that helps Wyoming parents and child care providers identify and create quality learning experiences for children. They provide a variety of materials to help children develop communication; a sense of self and relationships; curious minds; and strong and healthy bodies. To visit their website, click here.

Parents giving children piggyback rides

The WY Quality Counts! calendar offers a year’s worth of ideas to keep interactions between you and your kids fresh, engaging and positive for everyone. Each month’s activities incorporate a varied menu of developmental skills including cognitive and general knowledge, physical development and motor skills, social and emotional skills, and language and communication.

One of my favorite sections is the “Things to do with your kids now” which lists quick, anytime activities that you can do with your child multiple times each month. For example:

  •  Make a hat out of newspaper
  • Give yourself a pirate name
  • Dress up like a superhero and act out your power
  • Make up a secret family handshake
  • Pretend to be an animal and see if anyone can guess what you are
  • Make up a cheer or fight song
  • Create your own touchdown “boogie”
  • Watch your infant imitate the silly faces
  • Clap to the rhythm of music on the radio
  • Learn to count to 10 in a different language
  • Make a fort
  • Talk to your infant about everything you see while pushing them in a stroller around the block

What are some of your favorite family activities? 

Would you like one of these calendars? Please see Jessica Riley, FRC or go to www.wyqualitycounts.org to order your free copy!

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In Praise of Praising Less

Have you ever wondered why First Light uses encouragement instead of praise?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably used statements like “Good job,” “Way to go,” and “Nice work,” for years. Before I started at First Light, I praised liberally because I believed it was an effective way to help children feel good about themselves and their work. I thought I was helping build self-esteem and positive image.

However, research and experience show encouragement instead of praise will help to bolster children’s self-esteem and self-image.

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Many well-intentioned teachers and parents have used praise to improve children’s self-esteem and self-image, but the outcome can be just the opposite.  Alfie Kohn (1999), noted author of Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, explains the potential damage to children when adults use praise. Children learn to depend on adults for figuring out what is right or wrong, instead of developing this ability themselves.

Rather than rely on their intrinsic motivation to learn, learning or “performing” is done in order to please others. Children lost the interest and ability to work and learn on their own.

By contrast, children who can evaluate their own performance with encouraging feedback from interested adults remain involved. Moreover, they are self-correcting, that is, they can ask questions of themselves and work to solve problems on their own. Learning is inherently satisfying.

Furthermore, “praise” implies judgment. Children know that if you can judge them favorably, you can also judge them unfavorably. Exploring or trying something new might result in “failure” from the adult’s perspective, so children stick with what is safe and has earned them praise before.

How do we move from praise to encouragement?

Our next post will talk about some specific strategies for incorporating more encouragement and less praise.

Leave a comment »

In Praise of Praising Less

Have you ever wondered why First Light uses encouragement instead of praise?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably used statements like “Good job,” “Way to go,” and “Nice work,” for years. Before I started at First Light, I praised liberally because I believed it was an effective way to help children feel good about themselves and their work. I thought I was helping build self-esteem and positive image.

However, research and experience show encouragement instead of praise will help to bolster children’s self-esteem and self-image.

asdfasdfas

Many well-intentioned teachers and parents have used praise to improve children’s self-esteem and self-image, but the outcome can be just the opposite.  Alfie Kohn (1999), noted author of Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, explains the potential damage to children when adults use praise. Children learn to depend on adults for figuring out what is right or wrong, instead of developing this ability themselves.

Rather than rely on their intrinsic motivation to learn, learning or “performing” is done in order to please others. Children lost the interest and ability to work and learn on their own.

By contrast, children who can evaluate their own performance with encouraging feedback from interested adults remain involved. Moreover, they are self-correcting, that is, they can ask questions of themselves and work to solve problems on their own. Learning is inherently satisfying.

Furthermore, “praise” implies judgment. Children know that if you can judge them favorably, you can also judge them unfavorably. Exploring or trying something new might result in “failure” from the adult’s perspective, so children stick with what is safe and has earned them praise before.

How do we move from praise to encouragement?

Our next post will talk about some specific strategies for incorporating more encouragement and less praise.

Leave a comment »

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