Play!

 

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In many people’s minds play is very separate from learning. However, research has shown over and over that play is one way of learning. This is a way that children are able to use their senses and make sense of the world around them. They learn essential social and emotional skills by playing with others, talking to themselves and exploring the world around them. However learning through play doesn’t end with infant and toddlers.

 When learning is enjoyable it encourages creativity and imagination. So what does play really mean? For play to be an effective teacher it needs to be an activity that is freely chosen, not forced upon them. If a parent or teachers chooses the activity and expects a certain outcome this is work, not play. Work is fine for works sake, but children can see through our motives if we try to present work as play.
So if our child spends hours upon hours playing Legos, does this mean their time has been wasted? Not at all. I remember reading The Right Side of Normal, and how one of her children was so intrigued with Legos, that he would spend all of his time immersed in this activity. It helped his learning in so many ways, and influenced who he became as an adult. Legos are amazing tools for creating future engineers. Lil’ Z is my Lego man, he can find his flow within his piles of Legos. He gets so creative and has learned so much about physics, fractions, problem solving and working in three dimensions.
Children need unstructured time for play on a daily basis. Play helps in developing the brain and lays down our fundamental pathways for continued learning. It’s sad to me to see the recent trend in public schools to continue to cut back recess time and in some cases, eliminating it all together. Play enhances learning, and does not take away from it. The best schools in the world, such as those in Norway and Japan, play a high value on the role of play and learning.
Learning through play is valuable for adults as well. It helps with relaxation, emotional well being, creativity and so much more. Keeping a playful attitude can help build strong relationships, relieve stress and make life more enjoyable. As our family has experienced a lot of grief, play can also help to heal and build strong family relationships. I love the attitude encouraged in the Playful Parenting books. Even modern businesses especially those in the technology fields are recognizing the importance of play in the work environment. It helps increase productivity and keeps attitudes positive and increase job satisfaction. So for the love of learning, go play!
How do you include play in your daily life?

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Grief (and learning)

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Our family has experienced great loss throughout the years. First I lost my beautiful baby girl, Bella. Then 5 years later I have lost my first husband, Ian, suddenly. My current husband, Poose, had a similar loss with his wife. So all four of our children have experienced the loss of a parent, and two have also experienced the loss of a sibling. Our family has know heartbreak from all angles.

Grief isn’t something you can deal with for a specific amount of time, then be done with it. It keeps rearing it’s head over the years again and again. Memory, concentration and learning are all affected by grief, this is especially the case with children. Children need patience and an emotionally safe space while dealing with all of these intense emotions. Grief disrupts your mind and your thinking abilities, and this isn’t necessarily for just a short period of time. Complicated grief can show up years later and affect memory for good.
Children and adults can feel spread to thin with every little task seeming insurmountable. So a burdening school schedule can simply be too much for them to handle. While providing routine can be comforting to children experiencing grief, rigidity and busy schedules are overwhelming. Allowing children to follow their curiosities when they resurface, allowing them to take the lead as to what they want to learn can ease the burden of their grief, and provide that emotional support they need at such a hard time.
Processing grief and working through the anger, the denial, and depression of it all is a learning experience in itself. Providing the walls of support for the child to be able to build a life again is important. They may not be thrilled about their new life, but with time and space they an learn to be happy again and adjust to their new reality. Surrounding them in a loving, supportive environment at home with those that love them most, can help them to deal with the complicated emotional road they are taking.
In my experience in dealing with grieving children, keeping them with a simple, not over complicated schedule helps them to deal with the grieving process in a healthy manner. Spending times outdoors and not in the confines of the classroom can do much for our emotional well being. They are learning, it maybe not be out of a textbook, but they are learning how to cope with life and the sorrow that comes with it.
What has been your experience in dealing with grief?

Without Dad-One Year Later

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.

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It’s been a little over a year since the death of my husband. I look back and at times it feels like it was yesterday he was here with us, wrestling the children, wrapping his arms around me in a big hug after work. Then, on the other hand, this seems like the longest year in history. Each morning being harder to start without him, I have to give myself a pep talk before swinging my feet out of the bed. After Bella died, people would comment on how strong I was. I didn’t have much of a choice to tell you the truth. It’s the same with Ian’s death, I’m stronger than I never wanted to be. I have two children that need my constant attention and care, so it’s quite necessary to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m so thankful for them in my life. Though I feel they are not getting 100% of their mom, I’m doing my best. At times, my best might not seem like much, but it’s all I’ve got. My kids see me cry and we talk about their sister and their dad a lot, I don’t want those memories lost. A few things I’ve learned about myself over this last year. I really LOVED being married, being a wife. I’m afraid I took it for granted for the 15 years we were together. I had a really incredible husband, and I’m not sure I always expressed to him how amazing he was as a husband and father. Often if I complained about something in my life, he would say how much we had to be grateful for. He really kept me balanced and appreciative. I try to remember that and often hear his voice telling me to be grateful and happy for having my two healthy children with me. I hate the word widow. Widow conjures up images of bent over ladies in tiny villages wearing scarves around their heads and wearing black every day. I remember in Portugal asking why all of the little old ladies would be dressed in black. I learned after their husband dies, many of them stay in mourning for the rest of their lives and show this by wearing black every day. That’s not me. I don’t consider myself a little old lady in any respect, I just need a different word, just not widow. I do not take pride in being a single mom. In fact, I hate it. I do not like being the only parent. It is so INCREDIBLY HARD! No offense to all of the hard-working single moms out there that are rocking it. That’s just not me. I loved having the support of my husband for homeschooling, for everyday decisions and for talking to at the end of a rough day. I have not found my single-mom groove yet. Though I like the double-parent title better, I still don’t take pride in the fact that I’m doing it alone. I feel like I was a much better mom when I had a supportive husband around. My whole support system is gone so I feel like I’m dangling off the ledge at this single parent gig. I am living in chaos most of the time. You would think a year would be ample time to have got things organized after the death of your husband.Oh no, this is not correct. I am shocked at how disorganized and chaotic things still are in our lives. The tedious amounts of paperwork and the overwhelming amount of things that I’ve had to ignore just to focus on my priorities is ridiculous! Because of losing our daughter several years ago, I thought I was on top of things as far as paperwork goes. No, no,no. I beg each of you that is reading this to take the time to talk with your spouse and make some lists and get things organized now before it is too late. I recommend the site.  She has simple checklists and forms that will be sanity savers when/if something traumatic happens to your family. And for goodness sake, please have a place where you can find passwords for important accounts, etc in case one of you dies. I now have it a priority to get myself organized for my children’s sake. On a positive note, this year the kids and I have had a lot of quality time together. We’ve taken adventures together camping, visiting family and friends, and going to conventions. It’s made us pretty tight knit. So even if I am having a bad day and I lose it, I am able to talk to the kids about it and tell them what I’m feeling and apologize. I have learned to do things I never thought I would need to do, like start campfires and clean fish tanks ( I still call my brother to help with the mouse traps 😉 ). Little by little I see us making progress as a family, moving on to our new life ahead of us.I do feel excited about our new adventures that lie ahead so that makes me happy. I hope to be able to move on with a positive attitude though that may not be my first inclination. Sharing with my children that despite all of the awful things that has happened in our life, we can still choose to be happy. We have hope, and it’s a true blessing. I hope to introduce them to new adventures and continue to travel with them to new and exciting places. This year we hope to get their passports in order and be able to travel out of the country. I am excited about our new learning possibilities and all that is out there waiting for us… as long as I can keep swinging my feet out of the bed.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica a
    t ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she’s ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter’s transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She’s sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you’re interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.
  • Celebrating Change — Change feeds Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep‘s soul. And all the work that seemed like monotonous nothingness finally pays off in a clear way.