For almost twenty-five years, I taught kindergarten and preschool. I believe that I learned as much or more than all the students that I had the privilege of interacting with each day. Learning to be more present and authentic brought me the personal satisfaction. Developing more patience and willingness to try new things enhanced my life beyond the classroom.
I learned that I didn’t have to know everything and admitting mistakes was refreshing. Young children are refreshingly honest in their observations as well as being forgiving and accepting without too much judgement. Asking questions and really listening to what kids have to say is a wonderful way of empowering them to feel secure and to be curious about life and the world around them.
More than thirty years ago, Robert Fulghum published a simple credo that went on to become a New York Times bestseller. As an author he has written several other books, but this credo is still crucial and relevant wisdom for us all—that the most basic aspects of life offer the most important opportunities.
I share it with you here and hope that you can find wisdom to guide your daily choices in your family, workplace, community and beyond.
All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten—Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand box at nursery school.
These are the things I learned. Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw some and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why but we are like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seeds in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
And then remember that book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK! Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology, and politics and the sane living.
Think of what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
A young preschooler was trying to get his mother’s attention as she scrolled through social media sites on her phone. After trying repeatedly to get her attention, the young boy finally put his hands on either side of her face. Moving her face towards him, he said, “Mommy, I need you to listen to me with your whole face.”
This mother was participating in an experiment organized by ABC News. In May of 2019, the network spent six months traveling the country and talking to families, teachers, doctors and even tech insiders to put together a two-hour special about how screen time is affecting us and what we can do about it. The project was headed up and hosted by Diane Sawyer.
You can watch several short reports about what Ms. Sawyer discovered. I would like to first mention a shocking fact that I learned from this report by asking you a question? Do you know how many times a day you look at your phone? If you're like the average American, you unlock your phone around 80 times a day which adds up to about 49 days out of the year! If you think, “That can’t be right, that’s impossible,” at the end of this article you will find resources to help you monitor the screen time usage of yourself and your family.
During the six-month experiment, ABC News ran screen time experiments to see how young children reacted when their parent was distracted by his or her phone. Even though the parents were instructed to ignore the young child for only two minutes, most children got upset, cried or withdrew after less than 30 seconds. Watch a sample here. www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7_2K9E2m-w
In another video report, a brave family invited ABC News to come into their home and monitor their device usage for 30 weekend hours. The family was stunned to learn how much time they had spent on their phones and other devices. The good news is that they walked away from the experience with some steps to help make better choices as a family: 1) have a family meeting to discuss what they learned, 2) plan a family outdoor adventure and 3) embrace technology as a way to connect with each other through the day. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqeOWatgN9w&list=PLQOa26lW-uI-pNs2w7ie09BET5LY_xDOF
If this issue is a challenge that your family faces or you want to be more aware for the future, there are tools available to help you monitor your own screen time as well as that of your family members. Remember, it is important as a parent that we lead by example. Check out these websites or find other options online. Getting buy in from your kids is key and might include some kind of family discussion or even a challenge to find out what your family’s devise usage really looks like!
11 apps that help you monitor/reduce your screen time:
Apps to help parents:
Today, our children need our attention and presence more than ever. Making time to connect is a challenge for most families in our rapidly changing world. Navigating phones and other media devises are just one of many issues parents face today.
It is important to remember that despite all the technological advances we have seen in the past 20 years, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children. Building relationships with our kids takes time, investment, patience and presence.
A young executive was running late for an important meeting as he drove down a neighborhood street near his office. He had a lot on his mind, and he was going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. Remembering that it was summer vacation, he did keep an eye out for kids darting out between parked cars.
Thinking that he saw something up ahead, he slowed down, but no one appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door. Slamming on the breaks, he backed up to the spot where the brick had been thrown.
Angrily, he jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid who was standing there and shouted, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"
The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister...please! I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do. I threw the brick because no one else would stop!"
With tears running down his face, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."
Sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."
Moved beyond words, the man tried to swallow the rapidly rising lump in his throat. He lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a crisp linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts on the boy’s leg.
"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger.
Too shaken up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. He walked slowly back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message, "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!"
Sometimes we need to be reminded to take notice of the precious moments with our children and others we love before they pass us by. Those we love need to be given our presence, not just presents. On this Valentine’s Day, think of how you can express your love with your presence.
In 2008, the New York Giants were not supposed to win the Super Bowl. The undefeated New England Patriots were considered the favorite. But the wild-card Giants took home the trophy.
What happened to tip the scales in their favor? Some analysts feel the Giants were able to synergize their determination and talents to beat the odds.
Given our current culture, some believe that the families face odds like the Giants. Instant access to media, alcohol and drugs, parents stretched by balancing work and home and other hurdles make raising children particularly difficult. How can parents lead their families to the same kind of success? Here are five practical ideas to help parents overcome the odds and develop a synergized family.
1. Increase family interaction
Communication is essential for family success because it enables family members to share thoughts and opinions, make decisions, solve problems and develop interpersonal relationships. And the best way to heighten communication is to increase family interaction. Cutting back on individual activities in favor of family time, eating meals together as a family, having a family night and scheduling regular family vacations are some of the best ways to increase interaction. the-power-of-weekly-family-time.html
2. Establish a common goal
Unity in any group is usually based on the desire for a shared purpose. Whether it is called a goal, objective, purpose or vision, parents can increase family synergy and unity by frequently discussing what it is they want their family to achieve in life. Making a family goal poster is a great way to get everyone involved. Get a stack of old magazines and begin cutting. Make more than one poster—fun things to do together as a family, ways to show we love each other, what we want to do on our next vacation, etc.
3. Recognize interdependence
Family members are affected and influenced by the actions of each other. A successful, cohesive family teaches every member to be responsible for doing his or her part. And that failure for doing one’s part can adversely impact the rest of the family.
One of the best ways to help family members recognize interdependence is to teach cooperation and teamwork by playing together. Jeff Spiers, a father of four from Englewood, Colo., expresses it this way: “My boys learn it on their baseball teams. When a throw is bad from short to first, the first baseman offers encouragement. In this way, the boys help coach each other and learn their reliance on each other.” family-synergy-being-in-tune.html
4. Work together
Physical and mental efforts required to work together to accomplish something can be one of the more rewarding ways to synergize a family. Our family was heavily into scouts—my husband was the scoutmaster and all three sons became eagle scouts. Our whole family participated in the annual canned food drives and support each son as he planned and carried out his eagle project. The sense of accomplishment we felt as a family through these service projects was incredibly rewarding.
5. Demonstrate love and compassion
Unity and synergy in the family rely heavily on individual members feeling as though they are understood and loved despite their personal flaws. Use kind words, caring tones and a gentle touch. Look for opportunities to praise one another, even when behavior is not exemplary. And, if children are whiny and complaining, take time to actively listen to them and restate back their reasons for feeling frustrated. Acting with love, patience and compassion toward each other builds the long-lasting positive atmosphere required for successful family life.
For more ideas on family synergy and how to create it, check out these blogs.