Encouraging passionate learners … even when it’s not your thing

The following post is by contributor Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute.

I have vivid childhood memories of trekking down to the pond near our home and catching as many tadpoles in my bucket as my scrawny arms could carry.  I was fascinated by the process of metamorphosis and would check on them every day in the shed where I kept them, marveling over each limb as it appeared.

Once the tadpoles had fully transformed into tiny toads, my sibling and I would line them up in our driveway and race them down the lane as they made their way out in to the wild world of pastures, fields, and ditch banks that surrounded our rural home.

I was passionate about toads.

And my mother hated them.  But I never knew. [Read more...]

Tips for Creating a Child-Centered Space

 The following is by contributor Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute.

With spring creeping in, I often get the urge to start reorganizing and redecorating.  With Tsh”s Project Simplify on top of that, there are many of us who are or soon will be swooping in to reclaim and renovate our kids” spaces.

But as we do so, I often wonder, are we approaching the project with the image of a magazine spread in mind or with our children in mind?  Here are a few things to consider when preparing a child-centered space. [Read more...]

Simple Activities for Excited Kids

As Christmas gets closer, the rising level of excitement becomes almost palpable in our house. That means I need to plan a few activities to give all that energy somewhere to go! I certainly don’t want to spend more time finding supplies or preparing the activity than my children will spend engaged in it. Here are a few ideas for keeping anxious hands busy using simple supplies you may already have in stock.

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Teaching The Art of Sharing

The following post is by contributor Amanda Morgan from  Not Just Cute and originally appeared in November of 2010.

All kids love sharing….as long as that means you have something to share with them! But when it comes time for these little ones to part with some valued treasure of their own, they quickly set aside their passion for equal divisions.  Here are a few reasons why sharing can be such a struggle, and some simple steps that we as parents can take to ease the way.

Children are Not Developmentally Designed to Share

Three things to remember from a developmental standpoint:

1. Young children are naturally ego-centric.

They see the whole world through the lens of their own wants and desires.  Giving something up because it makes someone else happy requires a very big mental leap.  This means that we have to gently teach them over and over to recognize and value the feelings of others.

2. Young children are  naturally seeking power.

It’s a motivating source that allows them to learn and become more proficient and independent.  If sharing is presented to them as a loss of power (“You must give something up“) rather than as an opportunity to be powerful (“You can choose what or when to share”/”You can help someone be very happy“), they will naturally resist.  Help children recognize the power in sharing.

3. Social skills are learned.

As is the case with social skills in general, children don’t naturally develop the ability to share.  Just as they don’t wake up one day knowing how to write their own name, they won’t suddenly be able to navigate the social art of sharing on their third birthday.  Be aware that sharing requires practice, which always includes mistakes along with the successes.

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Family Stories that Bind

The following is by contributor Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute.

Iremember the first time I really became personally interested in the stories of my ancestors.  I was a newly minted teenager when a family friend pointed out how much I resembled my great grandmother.  She was referring to a picture I had seen on a shelf my whole life.  I had noticed her, and probably even been interested from time to time, but it wasn’t until after that comment that I suddenly became interested in her as a part of myself.  From that moment on I didn’t just look at her picture, I looked for myself there. Her long, dark hair, the shape of her lips, the outline of her face.  It was suddenly not about features, but about connections.

My great -grandmother died when my grandpa was just a toddler, so my family didn’t have much in the way of memories to rely on, but what we did have were her stories.  These were handed down verbally through the family, and also recorded in a journal that she kept.  And just as with her picture, I began to look for myself in her stories as well.
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