Director

Hello Parkside Families!

Can you believe the month of September has quickly come and gone already?  The month of September at Parkside is a very busy month for us: we are working on creating new routines with a new group of children, getting to know all of the new personalities in a classroom, and also finding out what works in a room and reflecting on changes that need to be made.  We are looking forward to continuing this journey into October!

Fall Classroom parent meetings:  We are beginning to plan classroom parent meetings in the upcoming weeks.  Next week we are planning to meet with the Olympic classroom.  The purpose of these meetings is for you to hear about the schedule, the goals we have for children in each classroom to accomplish, as well as are our expectations.  We will also talk about how you can help support these goals and expectations.

Olympic Treworgy Field Trip:  Thank you to Heater Corbett, Ryan Cowan, Karen Amoah, Jessica LaBree, Ashley Wyman, and Kasey Plummer who helped to chaperone our trip to Treworgy’s Apple Orchard.  We had a great time, and learned a lot about different types of apples as well as pumpkins.  You can see the pictures from this awesome trip in our blog!

Parent/Teacher Advisory Meeting:  Thank you to all of the parents who attended our first meeting on Thursday evening.  We discussed several topics such as how we are implementing new strategies of mindfulness in our classrooms.  We also spoke about ideas, events, and activities which parents thought would be fun to have this year, some of these ideas are having a paint (without the sip) party and creating another family directory.  Please remember our next parent/teacher advisory meeting is scheduled for October 27th at 5:30; we hope to see you there!

Parkside Family Pumpkin Patch: 

Beginning Monday, October 3rd Parkside is happy to receive DECORATED (not carved) pumpkins for our Family Pumpkin Patch!  Each family who wants to participate should bring in their decorated pumpkin in the next week or two to add to our pumpkin patch.

Imagine, each morning when you bring your child s/he will see the pumpkin that s/he created as it greets everyone!  This project will help children develop a sense of community here at Parkside, and will serve as a nice holiday decoration for our center.

We’ll set up hay bales and corn stalks to the right of the entry over the weekend, so bring your decorated (not carved) pumpkins as soon as you and your family have the ability to make them.  Thank you for participating in our Parkside Family Pumpkin Patch Project!!  As always, stop by or contact the office with any questions.

Fire Prevention week: October 10-14th:  We are planning to have members of the Bangor Fire Department visit us that week with one of their fire trucks.  We will also talk throughout the week about fire safety; look for more resources and helpful tips in next week’s blog for things to do at home with your child[ren]!

Monday, October 10th: Columbus Day: Parkside is OPEN!

Monday, October 31st: Halloween!!  At Parkside we enjoy celebrating this day by showing off our costumes in a center parade as well as having fun activities and snacks throughout the day.  Parents, please make sure your child does not wear a mask with their costume, as it can scare the other children in the center and they kids aren’t able to see well!  We will have the parade in the morning, so parents please BRING your child dressed in their costume and after the parade we will put your child’s costume in their cubby.

As Early Childhood Educators, we are constantly reading articles to help improve our skills within this profession, but also articles that will help parents.  One article which Jen M-R passed onto me was on how parents are “ruining” their kids.  Now, as a parent myself I read this article carefully and thought the problem which the Dean states is “helicopter parenting.”  I believe as parents, we all want our child to be independent and stick up for themselves without relying on us, but as the Dean points out in this article that is not what is realistically happening with children.  This article is not to accuse or for us to preach to anyone of “ruining” their kid, rather we hope to provide some discussion around this topic.  I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did!   You can find this article at: http://www.dailycrackle.com/helicopter-parenting/

This week, I sat in an auditorium with a couple hundred other parents at my daughter’s high school to hear what author and former freshman dean of Stanford University, Julie Lythcott-Haims, had to say about an epidemic of “over parenting” and the ways that this trend is influencing an entire generation of kids.  Lythcott-Haims has experienced the problem first hand as a college administrator and has written the book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, to document her experience and help parents reprioritize and refocus.

I found this presentation to be incredibly insightful and I’m excited to share what I learned (it can really be boiled down to two main things which are mentioned at the end).   But before I dive into the recap, a little background…

As Julie served as the Dean of Freshman at Stanford, she and her colleagues were astounded as the academic caliber seemed to increase dramatically from one freshman class to the next.  “Every batch of freshman is more accomplished than the last” She explained. ” Somehow their median GPA is a little higher, their SAT score is a little higher,  they’ve done more AP’s than ever… they’ve got stories and novels and… Who are these people?” But she also found that their academic success is not the only thing that distinguishes them from previous generations.

She explained that, overall, this generation seems to lack the executive function necessary to make it on their own.  Many students don’t make eye contact, don’t interact with teachers, and when they’re lost or needed help, they text their mom before advocating for themselves.    Julie believes that this is directly correlated with another new development: The behavior of parents. Never in Stanford’s history have so many freshman parents called in to discuss things like:  their student’s roommate situations, teacher complications, opportunities for their student to perform research at the college, and even to discuss their child’s grades.  Now remember, this isn’t 3rd grade, or 8th grade, or even senior year of high school that she’s talking about.  This is COLLEGE and it’s STANFORD UNIVERSITY for crying out loud.  Could there possibly be a correlation between these over-parenters and their kids who seem to be floundering in the basic skills of life? Julie is certain of it.

The Problem:

The problem, Lythcott-Haims asserts, is  “helicopter parenting.”  It’s defined by a parent’s will to “engineer” a particular outcome in their child.  Julie likens it to the process of sculpting a bonsai tree. If you manicure it the right way (make it take certain classes, ace the right tests, and master the most-impressive pastimes) it will become exactly what colleges want to see. I think that most well-intending parents are guilty of a little helicopter parenting from time to time.  As I listened to her various examples and quite hysterical true stories that represent this parenting style, I found myself running through my own habits, trying to determine whether I fall into this category.

She mentioned some of her peers that won’t let their 12-year-old attend an age-appropriate movie with a group of friends (without an adult).  She talked about the parent that finishes their kid’s school assignment because it might not be worthy of an A on its own.  Or the parent who insists that their child FIND THEIR PASSION and then… “Take it off the shelf and show it to the college people.”  She talked about the concierge parents who insist on making little Trevor’s life as comfortable as possible so that he can excel in those areas that really matter… the stuff that shows up on the transcript.  But something is continually overlooked by these helicopter moms and dads.  It’s not just the grades that matter.  It’s not just the extra-curriculars.  What studies indicate time and time again is that executive function comes from something more.  We’ve got to take a step back from this “checklist” approach to parenting and start looking at the “raising” of our kids with the big picture in mind.

The Consequences: 

This push toward a sort of superhuman teen is imposing big consequences.  Lythcott-Haims presented recents studies which indicate that college students are more depressed, anxious, and hopeless than ever before.  She explained that self awareness and confidence are developed through a mastery of basic problem-solving skills. Skills that are found in the everyday tasks of life: keeping your room clean, making yourself breakfast, remembering your own deadlines, and learning to self-advocate when things go wrong. When we take away our child’s opportunity to solve problems, we also eliminate that process of growth.  When we allow our kids to act for themselves (drawing up boundaries and giving guidance and love along the way) they will develop the confidence and compassion that they need to be successful adults.  This won’t necessarily translate to straight A’s for every child, but, HERE’S THE CLINCHER,  straight A’s aren’t the recipe for success.

The Good News

Countless studies indicate that SUCCESS is not contrived by the caliber of your school, your grades, or even your IQ.  Success occurs as a culmination of emotional, problem-solving, and intellectual skills that are largely learned during childhood.  The other good news…

In the United States, it is not necessary to attend a”ranked” school to be successful or obtain a great job.  Studies suggest that being in a smaller school can actually be more beneficial because there’s a higher likelihood of mentorship between student and teacher.  Being the “big fish” in a little pond is a better scenario than being overwhelmed in a “top school.”  As Julie put it, “We must believe that they can get a great education at any number of universities.”

What We Can Do

To conclude the lecture, Julie gave the audience the ultimate take away.  These are the two best things that each of us can do for our kids to help them become successful adults:

1 – Give them chores.

2 – Teach them to love.

Really. It’s that simple.  And if you’re like me, your intuition has known it all along.  But here’s a little more research to back it up:

The longitudinal “Harvard Grant Study”  (one of the longest studies of humans ever conducted) found that success in life comes from having done chores as a kid.  The earlier the kid started, the better.  When our kids are too busy to do chores, we eliminate the biggest factor for success.  The Harvard Grant study also found that happiness in life equals LOVE.  Not passion, LOVE.  Love of people and love of human experience.  If there’s anything that we can do for our kids, it’s to teach them compassion, work ethic, and the love that can be found at home.

Have a great weekend,

Jen V.

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