Introducing…The Griffins of Castle Cary

Introducing…one of the characters from my soon-to-be-published children’s book.

I have AMAZING news!

All my life I’ve wanted to write fiction, especially fiction for children. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to write books. My desire to become an author was strong by age four.

Now I’m thrilled to announce that my first children’s novel will be published by Simon & Schuster: The Griffins of Castle Cary.

So excited! The book is being described as a charming, slightly spooky adventure story for elementary readers ages 8-12. You’ll meet the Griffin siblings, a couple of ghosts with big feelings, and a ginormous, drooly Newfoundland dog. My new editor says it’s got “Penderwick-y appeal and Neil Gaiman themes,” so if you like books with wholesome, family charm, like the Penderwicks or a touch of magic mixed in with real life, this might be the book for you and your family.

I like to think that preschoolers who started out with It’s OK Not to Share in their lives will be ready for The Griffins of Castle Cary when it comes out. Only one year to wait – publication is March 2019. In the meantime, we’ll be busy with revisions, copyedits and creating a cool cover. Maybe with a Newfoundland on the front?

Can’t wait to show you the finished book!

Meanwhile, here’s what some early readers had to say. These are all quotes from kids. As part of the book writing process, I had children read the draft manuscript.

Elizabeth, age 8: Keep going! Keep going! I was so excited. I wanted my mom to read more chapters before bed. There were so many mysteries.

Emerson, age 11: I’ve never read anything like this. I love all the action!

Tess, age 11: If there was a sequel, I would read it in a flash! It was really gripping. And just the right amount of scary. I finished it in two days and it was hard to put down when I had to go to bed.

Alex, age 9: It was awesome! Part mystery, part ghost story. I never wanted to stop reading it.

Thrilled to be a children’s book author as well as a renegade. Looking forward to sharing more book adventures with you.

How cute is that Newfoundland dog? Will your kids or grandkids be the right age to enjoy this adventure next year?

Posted in Agents and publishing, What I'm Reading, Parenting with Renegade Rules, Good Reads, Books for Kids | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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What’s on your Walls? 3 Charts that have Got to Go

Focus on children’s real needs, not adult classroom habits.

When I walk into an early childhood classroom, I look for promising signs of play, like giant cardboard boxes, dress-ups clothes, and a bit of mess. What I often see are the Big Three: Behavior Charts, Calendars and Weather Charts. That’s a sign of trouble.

These three charts have got to go.

Young children have so much learning to do. These three charts take up time and get in the way of meaningful social/emotional and cognitive development. Calendars, weather charts and behavior charts may be popular classroom habits, but popular doesn’t make them right.

Let’s take a look at each one:

The Calendar

Teaching calendar time steals time. Time kids could be doing other things that are more developmentally appropriate. Experts who study human notions of time say calendar study has no meaning for children younger than first grade, and that holds true for many kids even at ages 7, 8 or beyond (see more in It’s OK to Go Up the Slide). Their brains simply aren’t ready. If you’re hoping to introduce counting or other math and sequencing ideas, do it through songs (Five little monkeys) and play itself. Take the giant calendar off the wall.

The Weather Chart

Weather is only relevant to children when they are outside in it. So recycle that weather chart with its clouds and suns, and GO OUTSIDE. Kids will notice it’s raining if they get wet. They might also notice some worms and puddles. Kids don’t sit around chatting about the weather the way adults do – unless there’s something cool to talk about, like a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Invest in a sturdy raincoat yourself, and don’t bother about days that are drizzly. After all, a real rainbow is much more exciting than a picture of a rainbow.

Behavior Charts

These charts are creeping into classrooms at an astounding pace. From green-yellow-red stoplight charts, to rainbow colors, sad cloud faces, and more, these public behavior charts are on many preschool and elementary classroom walls. Way too many.

Children typically have a clip marked with their name, and the clip gets moved from the “good” category down, and possibly further down, during the course of the day. Offenses like wiggling, talking, being bored and being a young child get lumped in with legitimate behavior conflicts like hurting someone.

Understanding good social behavior – and DOING it – takes time to learn. The process isn’t straightforward like a clip going down the chart. Human relationships and dealing with big feelings and conflicts is a messy, organic process. Kids can do it, but they need real-world practice and our guidance to learn emotional competence and conflict mediation skills. These skills are huge; they are the essence of any early childhood learning. Behavior charts use shaming, compliance without understanding, and threats (taking recess away). They do not teach skills. They do not change behavior overall. They do not teach children the real-life, essential skills they need to be successful. And too often, the reason kids are poking, talking and restless is that the adult-directed lesson is not a good match. Better go outside and play.

More blog posts

Chuck the Calendars

How to Find a True Play-based Preschool

Behavior Charts = Poor Adult Behavior

Books

It’s OK Not to Share  and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s on your walls? What would happen if you took these charts down? What would your ideal early childhood classroom look like?

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to What’s on your Walls? 3 Charts that have Got to Go

  1. Each post is a lesson in common sense to we parents and teachers. Interesting stuff. I’d never guess a weather chart is meaningless (or irrelevant) to a younger child. Makes sense though.

    Chris

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The Art of Moral Support: You don’t need a Helicopter

Moral support, combined with confidence in our kids, is more powerful than a helicopter.

Surely, you’re not one of those overly-supportive helicopter parents. Are you? For all of us, it bears examining from time to time.

What could your child be doing on her own, that you are doing for her?

This includes simple, physical tasks (pouring milk, packing lunch, cleaning the floor) to more complex social tasks (making phone calls (not texts), speaking up about a problem, trying something new).

The New York Times published an in-depth article this week about American teens and the sharp spike in social anxiety, fear of social discomfort and failure. It doesn’t start with teens. How we guide children starts now.

My mother was a master of moral support. Moral support sounds simple and easy, but it can be tough on both sides. It means having the confidence and strength to stand there and say to your child: “I can be with you, but I won’t do it for you.”

“I can be with you, but I won’t do it for you.”

Those words have echoed in my mind my entire life. I can remember my mother saying them when I was 4 years old and having trouble cutting with scissors. When I was 5 and had a conflict with another child. At age 7 when I wanted a book at the library and needed to ask the librarian for help. I heard them as a young teen when I was nervous about making phone calls. The implicit message was: It’s hard, but you can do it. I’ll be here for you.

Being there. Simply presenting yourself as a warm, supportive body who stands beside your child does wonders. It’s more powerful than you think.

“I can go with you, but you need to say the words yourself.”

The social challenges are probably the most tough. Practice on little conflicts that come up. When a child doesn’t like something, practice giving moral support to teach your child to advocate for herself and speak up. It will be uncomfortable. And it won’t be easy (until your child gets enough practice), but it’s necessary. “Did you like what she did? No, then tell her. Say “stop splashing my face.” I will go with you, but you need to say the words yourself.”

Moral support is an art. It’s a balance. Sometimes it means having a keen eye, and understanding what your child is actually capable of doing, then staying firm and placing your confidence in them. It can mean turning away.

Last year I took my youngest out in the neighborhood fundraising. I stood behind, but he was expected to do the talking. Despite practicing and being eager to do it, he sometimes got tongue-tied when a neighbor opened the door, saying nothing. “You need to do the talking,” I reminded him. “I’m right here.” Some days we had to turn away, but in a few days he’d be back, ready to try again.

Each child may need a different approach, but they all could use a strong, powerful adult beside them offering moral support during tough times. You’ve heard the phrase “Face your dragons.” The emphasis should be on your. We can’t face a child’s dragons for her, but we can stand beside her, strong and tall, giving the child the moral support she needs to face her own dragons.

Did you grow up this way? Do you think your child needs more experience and practice dealing with discomfort in her life? How good are you at standing by? When do adults intervene most?

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to The Art of Moral Support: You don’t need a Helicopter

  1. No helicopters when I was growing up! I learned how to fry an egg when I was about 6 (tall enough to see inside the frying pan). Had regular chores that were expected to be done correctly (or we’d go back and do them correctly under Mom’s supervision). Did my own fundraising in Little League–parents at home NOT selling for me. Allowed to ride our bikes to friends’ houses a mile or so away as soon as we understood how to cross busy streets. Typical middle-class 1960s upbringing.

    *Sigh* In that respect, those WERE the days. 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You know, I think it might be eye-opening for audiences of parents to hear simple stories from “the old days.” How much independence and responsibility kids can really take on. We could call it “Stories to Spread Confidence.”

Behavior Charts = Poor Adult Behavior

Red light - you're out. When it comes to behavior charts, adult behavior needs to change.

Red light – you’re out. When it comes to behavior charts, adult behavior needs to change.

I’m not a fan of behavior charts. You’ve probably seen them – red, yellow and green stoplight-like charts ubiquitous in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Kids get put in the red category if they’re “bad.” The chart is posted in a visible place where everyone can see.

There’s so much wrong about behavior charts, I don’t know where to start, but most of it comes down to this: adults need to change their behavior.

You’re being bad =Vague  Moving a child’s name from the green/ good side to the yellow and red side of the chart usually doesn’t give the child any information except: “I’m in trouble.” Many times kids don’t know what they did that was wrong or disturbing. Much better to be specific. State what the child was doing and what needs to stop or change. Set a limit. No need to have red and green stop lights to do that.

Targets  You know who they are. Usually the same ones day after day. Kids who are restless, need to move their bodies, poke their neighbors or talk. These are often the most active kids. Often boys. Often ones with the least experience with impulse control and social learning. Behavior charts don’t change that dynamic, they just put the same kids in red day after day while other kids sail through as green and good.

I’m a bad kid   Kids who are repeatedly labeled as having bad behavior tend to internalize and think: “I’m a bad kid. The teacher doesn’t like me. School isn’t for me.” This is a rotten way to start 12-13 years of learning. Learning comes alive with joy, curiosity, encouragement, self-confidence and ability to make mistakes and still be accepted.

Incorrect adult expectations   Often, what’s wrong is not so much the wriggling child who pokes her neighbor, but the fact that the kids have been sitting too long, perhaps with an un-engaging curriculum. The antidote to that is a different instructional style. If kids are truly engaged, behavior is much more likely to be positive and focused. Try more hands-on learning and more recess.

Respecting needs  What’s misbehavior? All too often, what adults call misbehavior is simply unmet needs. Young kids have a need to move their bodies. Are we providing that? Is there time and space and acceptance for active children?

Skill learning   Behavior charts are a technique to control, but what is the learning goal? Do they teach anything? The only way kids can truly change behavior is by gaining skills (social/ emotional learning; conflict management skills) and gaining maturity. These both take time and practice.

Public shaming  Shaming shuts kids down. It doesn’t solve problems. It doesn’t respect kids. Some kids, often including first-borns, only children, boys, and many others based on personality, are especially shame-phobic. They hate making mistakes and hate public shaming. Shaming kids often backfires.

Loss of recess  Depending on the system, getting to red often means something even more terrible: loss of recess. Kids need recess protected for the sake of their own learning and mental health. Read more about recess.

Sometimes I think about how well we adults would do if someone erected a giant behavior chart for us during the day. Scream at the kids getting out the door in the morning (move from green to yellow); get grumpy at someone at the gas station (move from yellow to red); procrastinate and not get something done (we’re already lower than red, now we have to skip our coffee break). By 10am, we might be hopelessly irredeemable.

I’m glad there’s no Giant Behavior Chart in the Sky hovering over our adult lives. There shouldn’t be for children either. Kids have less experience coping with their bodies and feelings than we do. They need useful guidance learning how to express themselves appropriately – and that goes beyond red-yellow-green.

Have any behavior chart stories? What’s worked for you getting beyond behavior charts?

Interested? Read more in Heather Shumaker’s books on renegade parenting.UpTheSlide final cover

It's OK small cover

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

12 Responses to Behavior Charts = Poor Adult Behavior

  1. Bette says:

    Alfie Cohn’s book Unconditional Parenting says it all for me with rewards and punishments. It doesn’t work if you want to make anything but temporary compliance.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes, indeed. Another reason not to use behavior charts. They don’t work! Temporary compliance is exactly right. Thank you, Bette!

  2. Hi Heather,
    you’ve confirmed what I have suspected for years. I am a former teacher and mother of six beautiful, healthy children. I never liked using behaviour charts in my classroom but was told I had to manage the class ‘somehow’ (by a university lecturer). When my fourth child started school this year he was constantly placed on the ‘sad cloud’ on his classroom’s behaviour chart. I do not hold ill towards the teacher, she was, I assume, only teaching how she’d been taught, just as I had. However, my son was starting to dread going to school for fear that he would be moved from the ‘rainbow’ to the ‘sad cloud’. Talk about how to damage a child’s self-worth as he saw his name on the cloud day after day after day. He is a typically active 5 year old boy with, as I affectionately say, more energy than brains! I hope you understand what I mean by that. Thankyou for not being afraid to speak out on what you also have observed. Susan

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Rainbows and sad clouds…superheroes and losers…they come in many forms. Your insights as both a teacher and parent are insightful. And, yes, I know exactly what you mean by a 5-year-old with more energy than brains! He’s not the only one in this world.

  3. Shauna Kay says:

    I’m in Australia, however, my son experienced similar methods of control in his first year of school eg: a sad face and a happy face. The sad face was red and children’s names were placed under it for all to see. My son didn’t often appear under the “angry face” (that’s what he called it) however he often came home upset for the friends that did. He had an intuitive sense of right and wrong and he knew that this whole punitive system was very wrong. Other than offering him support I didn’t weigh in with my opinions as I didn’t want to create more anguish or add to the angst. I can tell you now, however, it made me furious! Shaming has absolutely nothing to do with learning and I could see the effect it had on the children. We homeschool now, part of a vibrant community full of kids that are excited to learn, fuelled by their passions with no shaming! It took a few years to recover fully from that truly horrible first year…Surely any educator worth their salt could work out that such methods are wrong? Anyway, thank you for your piece I appreciated it.

  4. Isabel says:

    I wish I could find something like this post, or even better, research to support this viewpoint, but in French! I am aching to share it with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher. She has a Masters degree, so I know she would appreciate evidence to support this position, but my daughter’s school is French.
    And I want to add that my daughter never gets the bad scores, but i still can’t stand these charts. There is so much wrong with them! Even for a “good” student! At her school there is a neutral green and then colours above that for “good day” and “magnifique!”. Except, as the teacher explained to me when I asked about it, a student will rarely get either of those. they would have to perform some special act of kindness. for example, my daughter got a “good day” for doing what I assume was a particularly good job of tidying up. But it’s still demotivating! My daughter gets bummed about always getting the neutral colour, and she can’t really understand what she needs to do better.
    It’s so frustrating for me.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You may be in luck – my book “It’s OK Not to Share” is being translated into French. It covers many similar topics, but not behavior charts specifically. There will be a little lag time until the French edition is available, but look for it!

      Thanks also for sharing your daughter’s experience being stuck on the “neutral” color. These charts really take away the human relationship side of relationships.

  5. Kelly L Overend says:

    As you know, these are big in Michigan with PBIS. Have you talked with school districts or are you available to do so in our area? thanks!

  6. Carolee says:

    My son is having a hard time sitting still and staying focused in grade 1. His teacher has wanted to use a daily chart, where he gets 10 stickers (5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon). It’s sent home each day. If he can get all 10 stickers, I’m supposed to give him a small reward at home. After three weeks of this, I can see that it isn’t helping and I actually think it’s damaging. If he has a good day, we are all happy. But on days where he only got two stickers, the teacher will comment “I’ll call you”. Before the call, I ask my son what happened today, and he gets furious and angry. I can tell by his mood when I pick him up whether he has 10 stickers or not. He tells me that he has been ridiculed in class for having fewer points on another behavior chart. There was one day that he was crying and saying that nobody liked him (on a day when he got fewer stickers). He was sent to the pricipal’s office for throwing markers. (He is 6 years old). With the principal, he filled out a form for how he would move forward, and his plan to move on was “be good”. It was at this point that I let the school know that asking him to “be good” is the same as telling him that he was bad, and I asked his teacher to reconsider behavior charts. I’m not sure where to go from here or how to help him learn to behave in class. After doing research that led me to this article, I’m even more worried about the damage that these charts are causing.

    Behavior charts are damaging for the parent/child home relationship. It has caused many sad and stressful evenings where I have a grumpy child, and where the parent wonders why it seems that everyone doesn’t like their child.

    • Shauna Kay says:

      Oh gosh, I say with all kindness in my heart, PLEASE get him out of there if you can, before they do more damage to your gorgeous little 6-year-old. What you describe is heartbreaking and against everything, we know about natural child development. They are shutting down his natural responses, curiosity and killing any flicker of a love of learning. What in the world is the USA doing? It is absolutely crazy! How can any educator think inflicting a punitive system like that is OK? How are your teachers trained? It is insanity!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      “When something is bothering you, it’s time to make a change,” is my motto. You’re doing that – researching and realizing something is wrong. If this school / teacher is not the right fit for your family, make a change. It’s unlikely that the teacher will change fast enough. Kids need to feel safe before they are ready to learn. Your child deserves to learn in a place that nurtures him.

      Or as my fellow author Laurie Buchanan says, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” Good luck with your next step!

Summers of Learning

Kids are constantly finding new identities. Breaks help kids find the new "me."

Kids are constantly finding new identities. Breaks help kids find the new “me.”

It’s fall, and kids have a summer-full of learning inside them. What’s more important than the “summer slide” of school skills is the fact that these are NEW people heading back to school. Summer gives a chance to restart.

However you spend your summer, kids are soaking up new experiences. They’re not the same as who they were last spring. The break is big enough to create a real break.

Breaks. We all need breaks. To reinvent. Refresh. Remember who we are, and discover who we are. Not who we were last year or last month, but who we are now.

Think about this proverb: “If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” For children, where the mind wanders is called “Play.”

Regular schedules accomplish certain goals, but breaks are where our minds wander, where we encounter real life (good or bad) and where we are free from being judged by last year’s standards. For an adult, a break gives us the chance to remember or refocus our priorities. For kids, a break is a time to discover identity and make new leaps as it changes.

Without breaks, we just carry on. Carry on in our habits. Carry on with our judgments about a child’s abilities or behavior. Carry on without thinking. A child who’s been labeled as a troublemaker just continues that “I’m no good” mindset if there’s no break. A child who’s exploring new thoughts and friends can get stuck without a break.

A break can be an open door.

Breaks are essential for restarting life. And there are all kinds of breaks besides holidays from school routines and teachers. Our kids need breaks from us as parents, from the grip of regular friendships, and from constant sibling contact. Any of these can stifle kids without a few healthy breaks.

So if you’re the one who always puts your child to bed, trust your partner or a sitter to do it. Or see what happens when you separate siblings for a bit. Even a short break can help everyone realize we’ve been stuck in a rut.

It’s hard to see incremental changes when we live with kids day to day. “Look how they’ve grown!” aunts and uncles remark after a gap of time in seeing the kids. We also need to be saying: “Look how they’ve grown inside.”

Have you seen a child change into being “a new person” after a break or summer vacation? What types of summer learning do you see children do? Do you find it easy to see the present child, not the past one (from three months ago)?

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Summers of Learning

  1. Love my breaks. I suspect a child does even more.

  2. Anne Donn says:

    Thank you for once again for pointing the way to the truth of a growing heart and spirit. It’s so easy to get lost in expectations.

Win a copy of It’s OK Not to Share!

Win a copy of this book. Or choose another. Four books to choose from if you enter and add a review.

Win a copy of this book. Or choose another! Four books to choose from if you enter with a review.

It’s time to celebrate kids and summer – summer reading that is. Some of you may already be back to school, but there’s still time to dig into good books. And win books!

For the finale to the Book-Lover’s Summer Giveaway, I’m offering four fascinating parenting books. If you’re the first name I draw, you get first pick of the titles. The second winner gets to pick from the remaining titles, and so on.

To enter, show your love for books. Here’s how:

1) Show your love for books by posting a book review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. You can review any book – It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, Saving Arcadia, or any book you like that’s ever been published. Honest reviews only – that’s what readers want.

2) Leave a comment on this blog or my Facebook page, Heather Shumaker Writer saying which book you chose to review. That’s it!  You’re entered to win. (Winners drawn with a random number generator; U.S. mailing addresses only).

Winners will be drawn on September 5th.

The books are…

It's OK small coverIt’s OK Not to Share  by Heather Shumaker  This is my first book, the one that started it all. If you have young children with big feelings, active bodies and strong opinions who love to play, this book is for you. Or for a friend or family member if you already have one. Maybe yours is dog-eared and you need a fresh copy? Write a review (“It’s OK to Go Up the Slide” needs more reader reviews).

 

 

 

left aloneNo Child Left Alone by Abby Schachter  Do you love Free-Range Kids? This timely book shows us just how far American government interferes with raising independent kids. If you’re wondering if your child will be picked up by the police for walking home from the park alone, read this book.

 

 

 

 

not sayWhat NOT to Say by Sarah MacLaughlin  Be a big boy. I’m going to leave without you. That didn’t hurt. There’s nothing to be afraid of. What’s the magic word? Do you want a spanking? This little book unpacks all the common phrases parents say in our culture, and exactly what’s wrong with them.

 

 

 

cultureDiscovering the Culture of Childhood by Emily Plank  This gem from Emily Plank gets us to think about children on a new level. Not as unformed, imperfect adults, but as fully formed children. You may discover ideas you’ve never thought of before.

 

 

 

 

Intrigued?  Ready to enter? Just add a review by Sept. 5 and get ready to add new ideas to your life with a new book.

What titles are you eager to share with others? Read any good books lately?

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Take a Technology Break

Can the Grand Canyon compete with the social media habit? It's trying.

Can the Grand Canyon compete with the social media habit? It’s trying.

This summer we camped out west and visited National Parks. The Grand Canyon was – Wow. But then I turned my head and encountered a different type of wow – the sight of people not looking at the view. No, not focusing on the view of the Grand Canyon at all, although they stood five feet from it. They were hunched in a private world scrolling through Facebook.

Let me add, these weren’t kids. Or even teenagers. These were adults. Middle-aged, older-aged. One daughter even called her dad out on it.  “Really, Dad? Even here?  Can’t you give it a break?”

When we think of technology and kids, we need to focus first on ourselves. Examine how we use and model technology and whether (or not) we are creating a healthy balance in life. The kids are watching. Some are modeling their sense of etiquette and normal behavior after us. Most are longing for more real-world contact, yes, even with their parents.

Need some technology balance? Go to my book It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, which includes parenting in the digital age. Chapters focus on both kid and adult use of technology.

playfulparent coverOr inject some more playful parenting into your life. The next book for the Book-Lover’s Summer Giveaway is Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting. If you don’t know Larry’s work, he’s a compassionate and wise voice who understands both emotions and wrestling.

If you’d like to win the book, write a quick book review. Here’s how:

1) Show your love for books by posting a book review (1-2 sentences) on Amazon and or/Goodreads. You can review any book – It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, Saving Arcadia, or any book you like that’s ever been published. Honest reviews only – that’s what readers want.

2) Leave a comment on this blog or my Facebook page, Heather Shumaker Writer saying which book you chose to review and where you reviewed it. That’s it!  You’re entered to win. (Winners drawn with a random number generator; U.S. mailing addresses only).

Winner will be drawn July 18.

Enjoy the Book-Lover’s Summer Giveaway! Hope everyone had a happy 4th of July. Our local parade was terrific – except for that one woman who was marching in the parade while scrolling on her phone…

What about you? What zany places have you seen over-the-top technology use? Where would you like to banish it?  Share your tech stories or your book review comments.

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Good Reads | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Take a Technology Break

  1. Anne says:

    Left a review on amazon for It’s Okay to Go Up the Slide. Waiting for it to be reviewed. 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Guess what? You’re the book winner! Send an email to heather at heathershumaker.com to share your mailing address.

Summer’s Great Book Giveaway

Get ready to win and review books! Book-Lover's Summer Giveaway.

Get ready to win and review books! Book-Lover’s Summer Giveaway.

Summer is here! It starts today for my kids. Time to forget adult schedules, follow dreams and be themselves. And for all of us grown-ups, time for some great summer reading.

This summer I’m doing a Book-Lover’s Summer Giveaway. Throughout the summer (when I’m not out camping away from all things technology), I’ll be giving away thought-provoking parenting books.

If the title interests you, show your love for books and leave a comment. Here’s how:

1) Show your love for books by posting a book review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. You can review any book – It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, Saving Arcadia, or any book you like that’s ever been published. Honest reviews only – that’s what readers want.

2) Leave a comment on this blog or my Facebook page, Heather Shumaker Writer saying which book you chose to review. That’s it!  You’re entered to win. (Winners drawn with a random number generator; U.S. mailing addresses only).

First winner will be drawn on July 4th.

First book is The Idle Parent. It seems a great book to start out the summer. This is an anti-helicopter, anti-entertain-the-kids book which could get you off on the right foot for summer. A sampling of chapter titles: The Myth of Toys, End all Activities, Down with School, Let us Sleep, Say “Yes.”

Here’s a quote from the opening that sets the tone:

“How to begin to educate a child. First rule, leave him alone. Second rule, leave him alone. Third rule, leave him alone.” – D.H. Lawrence, “Education of the People,” 1918

So get ready for a summer of fun reading, exploring new parenting ideas, and letting the kids alone. Remember, they’ve got their own ideas to pursue.

July 4: Congratulations to the winner of this book giveway. Watch for new ones coming this summer!

Are you ready for some summer reading? Don’t worry, you can always win the book now, then curl up in a cozy fall or winter armchair.

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Good Reads | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

6 Responses to Summer’s Great Book Giveaway

  1. Cheryl Rodriguez says:

    I would love to receive these books. I am this close to homeschooling because of the homework issue. I really want to instill a curiosity in my child that I see is not there in a public school setting.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Great! To enter, just post a quick 1-2 sentence book review. Then share what title you reviewed. Thanks!

  2. Justin says:

    I reviewed “It’s OK to Go Up the Slide”. Great book and common sense things that I should have known.

  3. Theresa B says:

    Finally finished “It’s ok to go up the slide”—-my personal take-away and review: challenge the rules of our K-8 program of running on the tan bark. Like in the book, if it’s not hurting person or property, why is it a rule?

    We went to the beach today so I could get some time to talk to my husband un-interrupted….the kids spent an hour collecting seaweed and throwing it into a pile—in front of where we were sitting. Each drop of the seaweed resulted in a big fat grin from my son and daughter…swelling with pride for their hunter and gatherer project they made up!

Embracing Rejection

We want kids to all be friends. But life is more complex than that.

We want kids to all be friends. But life is more complex than that.

Allowing kids to reject each other can build inclusiveness. What?! No, this isn’t George Orwell’s 1984, where every truth is backwards. It’s simply another renegade rule that takes some getting used to.

When I explain why respectful rejection is good for kids, I often get strong adult reactions. We’re terrified. We don’t want kids to be mean and reject each other. We want to teach them kindness. Most of all, we want them all to be friends. Those are noble goals, but just like sharing, when we try to force friendship, things backfire. Real-life kindness and tolerance need a different set of social skills.

Respectful rejection actually helps kids gain the skills and confidence they need to bring more people in. It’s a tool for tolerance, not intolerance.

When children are allowed to choose their playmates and say no to others (see chapters like “You Can’t Play = A-OK” in my book It’s OK Not to Share), they develop the skills and experience to be welcoming friends. It doesn’t come all at once. Feeling comfortable with others and knowing how to set limits in social situations is all part of it. Forays into friendship can take courage.

Why Children Reject

Developmental  – For young children, it’s true three can be a crowd. Very young children are still emerging from parallel play. Maybe it’s true they can’t handle one more person in their game. It’s too overwhelming. This is a developmental reason.

Protecting a Friendship – This reason is often overlooked by well-meaning adults. Kids who say ‘no’ to another child may be trying to concentrate on a friendship. They’re fully involved with an existing friend in play. It’s rather like when you’re having coffee with a friend and your husband/ wife/ partner shows up. It’s not that you don’t like him, but it changes the dynamic. Hopefully we’re adult enough to handle this situation, and no one goes away with hard feelings. That should be our goal with the kids, too. “Looks like you’re busy playing with Ruby right now.” We can guide kids to be respectful when they reject and help all children develop resilience and coping skills. It’s not that kids don’t like the other person, it’s just that they want to be with another friend right now. No big deal. If we don’t make it a big deal, we can help kids cope with temporary disappointment.

Fear-based Rejection – This is a big one. Kids say ‘no’ if they’re worried about another child. Maybe she hits. Maybe he’s bossy. Maybe a week ago she scribbled on a favorite painting. There are all sorts of legitimate and fanciful fears that motivate kids to protect themselves and say ‘no.’ It’s safer. If we’re not focused on the adult-imposed doctrine of “we don’t say you can’t play,” then we can help guide kids to saying ‘yes’ more often. Ask simple questions or make statements. “What will happen if Olivia joins your game?” “I wonder what you’re worried about.” “What will Tayson do that you don’t like?” Being direct like this helps uncover the fears. Then it’s a simple matter of helping kids set limits to feel safe. “Olivia, Chris is worried that you’ll knock her tower down. Are you going to knock it down? Oh, Olivia says she won’t touch your tower. Can she play with you if she doesn’t hit your tower?” Find the fear. Set a limit. Watch a friendship grow.

Children who feel safe – to enjoy a special friendship on their own, or to set a limit on another child – are MORE likely to be welcoming and inclusive. That’s because their rights are respected. The right to pursue a friendship without interruption, the right to speak up, the right to express fear and set peer-to-peer boundaries.  It’s about feeling safe and gaining courage through experience.

When we feel safe and confident ourselves, we’re more likely to be welcoming to others.

If you try respectful rejection with kids – rather than forced friendships – you’ll see kids who:

  • Get on well with others
  • Know how to make friends
  • Know how to be a good friend
  • Are kind to people around them
  • Know how to set personal boundaries
  • Are willing to give other people a chance
  • Are open and welcoming to new types of people

The ultimate goal of respectful rejection is inclusiveness. Just as the ultimate goal of “it’s OK not to share” is generosity. We all need practice and understanding to get there.

It's OK small coverCurious to read more on the dicey subject of rejection? Get a copy of It’s OK Not to Share.

What’s your take on this misunderstood subject? Are you willing to try respectful rejection? Do you remember forced friendship situations from your own childhood?

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Embracing Rejection

  1. Jan Waters says:

    Heather, You’ve learned SYC philosophy well and it is all developmentally sound. I love the way you can explain things. Jan Waters

  2. Funny, even as an adult I’m sooo hesitant to set boundaries when I’m deep in conversation with someone and another friend comes along. Maybe we all need practice at this.

  3. Erika says:

    Great topic! I really appreciate the example of questions to ask our kids if they don’t want to play with someone. It’s about being curious, open to their answers, to honor their choices and guide them to make it in a kind way. I tell my girls, it’s ok if you want to play by yourself, just say it respectfully. THanks for this post!!

  4. Zanzanil says:

    I used to see my daughter behaving badly with one particular child. I sat her down and explained that it’s ok to dislike some one. But there always a better way to say no. And it did work big time between them and eventually they did get along just fine.

  5. MIhaela says:

    Hello! Great material! Thank you for the precious information.
    I would like to ask you how can we help the rejected one? The case is: a pre-teen girl (11 years old) with Spina Bifida – she has a light locomotion issue (she is walking a little bit strange and she wares a special brace at her down part of the leg – she cannot run very fast and avoids to get involved in games with a ball or where she risks to be pushed, because her medical condition), who is willing to play more “calm” games with her peers when outdoors and she very often gets rejected. Many times she gets the answer: “we can play later with you a game in which you can participate”, but they forget her afterwards. She also gets this tough “no”. She is a bold child, who communicates easily with both children and adults. Thank you!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Occasional rejection is one thing, and chronic rejection is another. With kids who are frequently rejected it often helps to have adult help, even if it’s talking about it and learning a few phrases “OK, my turn” or “When’s later? When you get to 10 points?” Later is too vague and it can help to quantify it. There’s a chapter on chronic rejection is my book “It’s OK Not to Share.” If she’s bold and tough and can communicate easily she can figure out many of these things herself, but it can help to ease the way.

Renegade Stories: “I Stopped Stopping Play”

Beth made renegade changes at Bethie's Place with amazing results.

Beth made renegade changes at Bethie’s Place with amazing results.

I’d like you to meet Beth Wolff. She’s a play advocate from North Dakota who runs a daycare called Bethie’s Place. What’s marvelous are the CHANGES she made to her program after reading It’s OK Not to Share.

If  you like renegade ideas, but are nervous about trying them in real life, read on. Beth shares how she implemented renegade rules into daily life and made the transition to a child-marvelous program. Listen here to podcast interviews with Beth Wolff.

“I first read It’s OK Not to Share on a 17-hour road trip to Utah,” Beth told me. “I read the book twice on the way there and twice on the way back.”

When she returned she didn’t waste time. She sent out an email to the daycare parents saying:  “I’ve just read the most amazing book. Life is going to be different. You’re going to have to be with me on this. Trust me.”

And trust her they did.

It's OK small cover

Beth had been doing daycare since 1980 and acted as a mentor to parents. She’d stopped doing thematic learning and calendars with her kids long ago. But although she strongly believed in play, she found she’d forgotten the nature of true play. Over time she’d gradually become more rigid. She’d fallen into the habit of saying ‘no’ to play ideas and built her program around rules, partly, she says, because cookie-cutter training sessions kept pushing her in that direction. One rule led to another.

How did she make the transition from a rule-maker to a renegade? “I stopped saying ‘no.’ I stopped stopping their play.” That was it. She didn’t warn the kids or announce the change, she just stopped banning ideas and started following the lead of the kids.

What were the results?  “The kids came out of cover with their play,” Beth said. “I’m a much happier person. I laugh more. Life with Beth Wolff is a lot more enjoyable.” The changes in the children were particularly striking, especially their huge gains in social and emotional learning. Here’s what she observed:

  • Kids are empathetic at earlier ages
  • Kids are willing to take turns
  • Kids can wait
  • Kids trust each other
  • Kids know where the ice pack is
  • Friendships begin at younger ages
  • They don’t need so many toys

If you’re wondering how to make the switch, take Beth’s advice. Trust the kids. Trust your gut. Trust their play. Making the change to embracing renegades rules is easier than you think.

Ready to be inspired? Listen to interviews with Beth on the Renegade Rules podcast.

What about you? Have you had success adopting ideas  from IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE or IT’S OK TO GO UP THE SLIDE in your family or program?

Speaking up is hard to do, but that's called courage.

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Renegade Stories: “I Stopped Stopping Play”

  1. I love seeing the real-life applications of your theories, Heather. Great story.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks – real life stories are what it’s all about. And inspiration for more!