Categorized as: Preschool

How to Diminish Darwinian Pecking Orders by Modeling Social Inclusion for Kids

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Do you remember being a little kid in your early years of school, sitting on the floor in a circle with your legs crossed? Maybe your teacher was reading a story or maybe you were singing a song and shaking maracas and tambourines. Sometimes a child would arrive late — late to school in the morning, or perhaps just returning from the nurse’s office or the bathroom. For some reason that child was not there when the circle formed, and as that child approaches — let’s call her Katie — the teacher says something.

“Ok everyone, scooch back a bit to make room in the circle for Katie.” Read more…

The Story of Ferdinand: Talking With Kids About the First Children’s Book on Gender Nonconformity

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The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was published in 1936, just before the Spanish Civil War. Because it was widely viewed as pacifist propaganda, it was banned in many countries. Despite its rough start, it became popular around the world, has been translated into over sixty languages, and won several awards. This book has been beloved by three generations in my family — my father, myself and my brothers, and my daughter. I related strongly to Ferdinand as a child and still do. He is more than just a symbol of peace to me; he is also an outsider, bullied for his gentle ways. Read more…

Redshirting in the Age of Academic Kindergarten

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Every September, the incoming group of kindergarteners becomes ever so slightly older.  When I had my daughter almost twenty years ago, I remember a friend of mine exclaiming, “Oh, you’re so lucky, she’s birthday-blessed!” The term referred to her fall birth date, and the fact that she would automatically be one of the oldest students in her class. But in this high-octane world of parenting, we are seeing an increasing wave of academic “redshirt” decisions, especially for “Summer Birthday Boys,” in an effort to give them an academic, social, and athletic advantage by orchestrating their position among oldest and biggest in their grade. Read more… 

Listen to my radio interview on this topic here.

Biting Among Toddlers and Preschoolers

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The memory is still fresh: I take my daughter to her pediatrician for her 18-month-old checkup and he asks me, “Any hitting, kicking or biting?”  Just like that!  I thought, this man is a genius! A mind reader! How did he know I was about to bring that up?? What followed was a discussion about how toddlers her age, up through preschoolers, frequently talk not through words, but through physicality. If another child grabs your child’s toy, he or she is just as likely to reach out and hit, slap, bite, kick or scratch as to say, “Excuse me? I was using that. May I please have it back?” Read more…

Encouraging the Artist in Every Child

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Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” A quick glance around an African-American friend’s home recently showed me that he and many of his relatives have, delightfully, not grown up. At least, not in the way that concerned Picasso. Read more…

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