Weekday Wisdom

Turn knowledge into wisdom. This was the encouragement given to me early in the week and so here I am pondering what do I want to share? What do I have to share? As my mind races with little writing projects I’m working on, there’s a nudge as the evening goes on to just sit down and write about what’s on my mind in this moment.

Ironically, I’ve been brewing some ideas about weekly topics I can offer as I grow my writing presence and alas, I’ve landed here with “Weekday Wisdom.” I can’t say that each week it will be a certain niche, (parenting, teaching, mindfulness, yoga), but what I can offer is that it will be short, little tidbits of wisdom that might be helpful to others. It will also be wisdom that’s been passed down to me through my elders, other humans I’m connected with, and my life experiences. I hope the stories I share inspire you and bring us closer together as humans.

Weekday Wisdom: Learn with your kids.

This week my daughter’s class is focused on their Social Studies unit. She came to me yesterday and said, “Social Studies is hard.” Do we make it harder for kids to learn than it has to be? I don’t know about you but I loathed the history textbooks as a student. I never could relate, and I couldn’t memorize all those dates to save my life. Truth be told, I had to repeat American History in summer school all because I couldn’t memorize all the state capitals. I still don’t have them memorized! But I can Google that *&%$. That is, if I really need to know it. Which I haven’t come across anything in my life yet that has required me to recite all the state capitals. What I am fascinated with in history is people and their stories. Isn’t that what social studies is? Studying societies, studying the social parts of our society?

Tonight, as our daughter told us about a mischievous, little leprechaun who opened all the cabinets in her teacher’s kitchen on St. Patrick’s Day, I followed her lead with the questions: Who was St. Patrick? How did he become a Saint? What’s he known for? What’s a saint? Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Did you know that your grandpa’s family is from Ireland?

This is when I started to think, ‘Gosh, I don’t even know the answers to all of these questions!’ As a kid, we always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day! My dad made his family’s famous corned beef and cabbage, he belonged to an organization called the Shamrock Club, that usually had a big, fancy dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, and my sister and I would argue over who got to wear that BIG plastic button that said, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”.

So this evening when my girl asked me to play Barbies (again), I excitedly obliged and offered the storyline, “what if our Barbies are researchers?” My girl lit up and exclaimed, “Yeah, they could research St. Patrick’s Day!” We got down on the floor and found a new way to connect with the phone, each other, and our heritage.

I was Ken, she was the teenage Barbie. We used the kids’ safe search engine, www.kiddle.co, and “searched up” (as my daughter says) Saint Patrick’s Day Facts. I read them aloud to her in my best Ken voice! From there we proceeded to take a short, 5 minute video “field trip” if you will, to Ireland. For now, it will suffice until we can safely get on a plane to Ireland.

It wasn’t a fancy, pre-planned lesson. It was me and my girl. And the Barbies of course! Now, my daughter is interested in learning more about another culture. Her history. Our family. I learned more about this holiday than I ever learned in school.

So, for all of you parents who have felt lost and confused this school year, here’s my wisdom for you… you’re doing great! You’re learning with your kids and you’re connecting with them. It’s okay if you don’t know everything.

Until next week, keep playing and learning!


And if you’re in the mood to listen to some Irish music, check these out.

I do recall my paternal grandfather loved this one.
This one is upbeat and might inspire you to do a jig.

Rethinking our “Bucket Lists”

On the last day of school my girl came home with a beach bucket complete with bubbles, a sand toy, and a “Summer Bucket List” attached. I’ve seen friends posting on social media about their “Bucket List”, (Season is irrelevant).

As we have started to check off a few things I started thinking maybe we need to rethink how we approach these things. What if we took more of a reflective approach instead of a “check off”?

This first week out of school my girl and I took a trip to Florida to see my mother in law. I didn’t make any big plans, I figured the pool and beach with Grandma were exciting enough! However, we brought the ” Summer Bucket List” with us. At the end of each day I asked E these questions:

What did we get to do today?

Is it on that list? If not, let’s write it on the back. (Gator in Grandma’s backyard wasn’t on the list!)

What was your favorite part of today?

What are you grateful for today?

I’m not the first parent to do this, in fact I’m grateful for those with experience before me who have shared. I just know that we tend to get overwhelmed when we see this long list of things we feel we need to check off. As a recovering perfectionist, the more reflective approach creates more gratitude and less overwhelm.

While I do create a short list of things to accomplish each day, in the bigger picture, I like to use this perspective of “What did I get to do today?”

Remember, perspective is everything!

Would You Rather?

As you know my word for 2018 is time. Since the start of the new year I’ve spent a lot of time away from my computer, away from social media, and away from things that might fill my brain with too much to think about! (I already do too much thinking on my own, LOL!)  Also, I’ve taken on a new job, so keeping the harmony and balance I worked hard to achieve during my sabbatical is how I’ve focused my time. I’m so grateful for that time, and I’m also grateful for the new opportunity with this job.

Would you rather your child(ren) have teachers who love him/her, or teachers who push your child(ren) academically?

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This is a lofty question that I have been thinking about A LOT as my child has entered the public school system this year. It’s a question I’ve been asked as a parent (more than once), it’s also a question I’ve always asked as an educator, trying to look at parental perspectives. It’s also a question that doesn’t have a cut and dry answer. As parents and educators, growing the same human beings, I think we all want what is best for the children. However that doesn’t look the same for every child at the same time. (And our own fears and insecurities get in the way #truth)

Recently, a friend and I were talking about this question and my immediate answer was, “Right now, when my child is 4 years old, I would rather have a teacher who loves my child and teaches her kindness, compassion, and empathy. All of the academics will come. To me, it’s more important to teach a  young child these social emotional lessons, so that when academics get harder, more challenging, they can cope.” I continued to add that when my child is older, I do want teachers who can push her and challenge her in a healthy way.

When I left our conversation, I continued to think about this question. ( I know, I think waaaay too much!) I even thought about how my answer has changed. I want to trust my child’s teachers to know when she is ready to be challenged, and to love her enough to do so. I think hope I’ve communicated this with her teachers. I’m trying.

I had this conversation with another parent and naturally, her response was that she wanted both, teachers who love and challenge her children. Then I had this epiphany!

What if as parents and teachers we give children both love and challenges, but we might go through ebbs and flows. Let me explain. Let’s say your child has a teacher who is really strict, or really stressed and can’t find the space to love on your child at school. However this teacher has really high expectations because he/she knows that students can rise to the occasion. Maybe that’s the year or the grade where as a parent, you are the lover. Your role is to show your child love, compassion, empathy for the challenges of school, but you don’t have to be the slave driver at home when it comes to school work. Then let’s say that another year or grade level your child has a teacher who is loving, yet might not have all of the instructional expectations to challenge and push your child. This is the year that at home, your role is to push, challenge, and find ways to enrich the daily education. And that doesn’t mean that you, the parent, have to be the teacher, you might reach out to other resources such as friends, tutors or learning centers who can help!

Growing humans is REALLY tough work. If anyone tells you differently, they’re in denial! As parents we need to take a step back and reflect on what does my child need from me right now. As teachers we need to slow down and reflect on what do my students need from me right now. With love and healthy challenges, and TIME our children will succeed at this thing called life.

*Leave a comment to keep this conversation going, I’m curious what you think.