Tag Archives: renegade parenting

Debunking ‘Choice’ in Children’s Behavior

Choice gets a bad name in early childhood. Adults scold kids about the “choices” they make on a daily basis: “That was not a good choice” (when she hits her brother). Or perhaps we interrogate: “Was that a good choice … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Debunking ‘Choice’ in Children’s Behavior

  1. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this. After working in a handful of daycare centers when I was in college, I am horrified and often repulsed to see how that time has snuck its way into my parenting. I tend to default back to those years and I hate it. This is one of those phrases that I have heard, that I have USED, but it has always bugged me, though I couldn’t put my finger on why.

    I love the phrase “neutral and helpful.” So much more effective.

  2. Keith says:

    “It’s ok to go up the slide.” What a great title for a book!

    Thanks for the helpful article, it was very enlightening. I’ll keep it in mind with my little ones (8 and 6, both going on 41).

It’s Time to Go UP the Slide

The book is here! I’m on the radio today celebrating the release of It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, and everywhere I go – from Denver to Vancouver to Boston – I’m hearing people share the stress points in … Continue reading

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12 Responses to It’s Time to Go UP the Slide

  1. Deidra says:

    congrats!

  2. Roberta Horne says:

    Congratulations Heather! I look forward to reading it!

  3. Congratulations on your new book release, Heather. I see you’ll be in Madison next month at UWWI. Hope to see you there to say hi and get an autographed copy.

    Chris

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Chris, Yes I’ll be there. Will be good to see you and looking forward to signing a copy for you.

  4. On the topic questions you posed, the biggest stress I see is overscheduling of children by their parents. I think downtime has gotten pushed aside because everyone wants their kid to be the best and brightest at whatever the establishment tells them we need. Today it’s STEM, ten years ago it was computer anything, tomorrow it may be stand up comedy for all I know. Give kids “dead time” to just sit, think, daydream, imagine, ponder, ask questions, and I think they have a much better chance of deciding for themselves what path their lives should take.

    Chris

  5. Warmest congratulations!

  6. Crystal says:

    Please know that I am only trying to understand the logic in no homework when I ask: ” Are your beliefs of over scheduling after school the same for children with learning difficulties? Those that are playing catch up in school and who’s neuro’s suggest non typical practice of social skills and discrete trail ABA?” What is your take on that? For our family I think we have fined tuned knowing limits of my son and that he benefits more from being led outside his comfort zones. That for us is a little social and academic work Afterschool but mostly goal oriented fun. He benefits both scheduled time after school and free time. Most often free time is a new science project that he has come up with:). With the other subjects he looks to be led until he is confident or NEEDS to be led to build confidence. Again, this is all scheduled until he is indepedant. What are your thoughts?

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Such an astute question. I think the idea behind homework and no homework is this: the family needs to be in charge of what’s best for the child during after school hours. Depending on family philosophy and needs of each child, after school time can be many different things. You said it well yourself “I think we have fine tuned knowing the limits of my son.” Keep finding that balance.

      As families with special needs children know, there are not only more challenges, there are also more appointments that eat up a child’s day. It’s an enormous balancing act to give kids the playtime and emotional release they need. Homework to me is an assignment dictated by the school to be done on family time. Home goals are everything you do to support your child, your whole child. Thanks for writing, Crystal.

  7. ray wills says:

    Read your interview article in THE NEWS today your title for the new book is excellent Its so good to see that you understand the importance of free play in a childs life.I have recently moved here from England UK where i was very involved in play provision for many decades establishing adventure playgrounds and managing town wide play programmes. I admin a facebook page on play and also write non fiction and poetry.I wish you every success with the new book .Im looking for publisher for mine which is a history of organised play provision over the years largely based on my own experiences.Take good care ,Ray Wills

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Welcome, Ray! I wish you every success in helping to establish adventure playgrounds here in the US. Your experience will be invaluable. Also best of luck on finding the right publisher for your history of play book. Redleaf Press often publishes good play books. Perhaps they would be a good fit?

Go Up the Slide with Early Bird Gifts

Author update: Early bird gifts extended to March 13, 2016. A box arrived on my doorstep from Penguin Random House this week. I thought it was THE BOOK. Instead it was a batch of lovely postcards from the publisher, but … Continue reading

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4 Responses to Go Up the Slide with Early Bird Gifts

  1. Deidra says:

    Congrats!

  2. Anne Donn says:

    Congratulations on your new book. So happy to hear that it’s release is getting close. I love the title. What a great way of seeing the world, as you go up the slide. All is well here.

  3. Saundra Fischer says:

    I am so excited about your new book! Your work has probably influenced me more as a parent and educator than any other author. Meeting you was a highlight last year. Thank you for all that you do!

Of Karate Kids and Soccer Moms

Karate. Ballet. Soccer. Swimming. Hockey. Art lessons. Music lessons. Theater class. Children’s choir.  The number of enrichment classes out there for children is mind-blowing. Chances are, if you have kids, you’ve signed your child up for one of these fun-filled … Continue reading

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Fantastic Fiction: Encouraging Young Writers

As our family moves through public school, I’ve heard six years’ worth of teachers explain why kids don’t write fiction in their class. “Frankly, kids aren’t very good at fiction. They only write about explosions, aliens and robots,” one teacher … Continue reading

Posted in Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Fantastic Fiction: Encouraging Young Writers

  1. deidra says:

    Yes fiction writing is alive and well in our school. My son’s stories are so creative. He is becoming a great story teller. Is his spelling, grammar, and punctuation perfect? Absolutely not. There stories sometimes don’t flow very well, but most importantly they are really creative, funny and strange.

  2. ann says:

    I think the problem is teaching to the tests. It is crazy high stakes in public schools that have not found a creative way around to actually teach kids. For those schools that find ways to actually teach, they often find ways to develop the creativity in kids. Creativity in one area helps in other areas. The problem is when you feel like you only have time to teach the facts, the basics, the test, then you can look at creativity as a luxury instead of a necessity. I sure hope this will change soon.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for your comments, Ann. You’re right, it must seem like a luxury, and you’re so right how creativity flows from one area to the next.

  3. I’m so happy you wrote this one. My best childhood moments were being alone, making up wild stories about witches and queens, and yes, even princes and princesses, but the witches, oh I had such good and terrible witches. And in these fantasies, I was allowed to die and resurrect on a regular basis. It is truly the basis for an active imagination.

  4. Jan Waters says:

    What are they doing to creativity???? They are dumbing down kids’ education! Who are these people who don’t value the creative spirit? Preschoolers write wonderful stories and an adult can write it down. We are not educating scholars we are educating technicians. Jan

  5. Anna says:

    That teacher’s reasoning is so crazy. I presume she has also cancelled math, since some kids aren’t that good at it? And art – after all, 6-year-olds’ drawings are hardly known for artistic merit. In my first years of piano lessons, my playing really sucked – clearly my parents should have quit giving me music lessons. In fact, isn’t it the very nature of any skill that needs to be taught and/or practiced, that the student is bad at the beginning?

  6. Katrin says:

    My son’s teacher has them write journal pages twice a week. They all have a blank top for a picture and then lines to write something. Some start with prompters such as “I wish”, “My Mom”, “I wonder”.
    He writes the most hilarious 1-4 sentence stories in his first grade spelling with really simple but extremely expressive pictures.
    I wish there was more writing and encouraging to write, but it seems like I should be happy about what his teacher already does.

Flash Card Babies

This morning I watched a mother hold her six-month-old baby. They were watching a screen together and the mother was singing along a counting song. “Twenty-two, twenty-three…” There was nothing truly wrong with the scene except expectations. The baby was … Continue reading

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9 Responses to Flash Card Babies

  1. So much common sense wisdom in such a simple message. Thank, Heather.

  2. Erika Cedillo says:

    Absolutely loved this post Heather, thank you! I know parents that have been doing flashcards with their kids since very early in their life, for me it didn’t feel good. Now your post has put it so clear. It is about time, but give time for every stage of development and allow them to play and let them get the concepts at a more appropriate time. Take time, don’t rush time, loved this!
    And I specially liked when you talk about parents dreading their kids fall behind, once again this is another issue that is about the parents and not the kids. I’ve worked, and keep working, on keeping my own expectations at bay and just allow my daughters to unfold their beautiful and brilliant characters at their own time.
    Thanks again!!

  3. Kirsten says:

    To my nearly 4-year-old, “yesterday” is any day that was in the past. Certainly makes things confusing for us when she’s talking about something that occurred almost a year ago, but she’s formulating how time works. She knows Tuesday is recycle truck day, but I have no idea if she understands the frequency of that occurrence, and that’s okay. She’ll get there and I’m so grateful to have advocates like you.

  4. Anna says:

    I remember reading something somewhere (maybe an REI site?) pointing out that before you try to “teach” your baby something, you need to ask yourself what he would have been learning in that time that you’ve now displaced, and which was more important.

    If the kid is 6 months old, there’s not even any kind of doubt: what nature was teaching him during those minutes was far more important than the numbers or letters you decided to drill: e.g., sensory integration, correlation of cause-and-effect, the fundamentals of universal grammar, recognition of key phonemes in his native language. . .

    Anybody who thinks counting or memorizing the number series is more important than these things is simply a moron, and shouldn’t be trying to direct anybody’s education.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Lovely point. I often think in terms of “opportunity cost.” What are you giving up to make time for what you are doing?

  5. fionasamummy says:

    I used to sing numbers to baby B when I was so exhausted I couldnt think of any songs. Great article though.

Going Up the Slide

It’s here! So excited, wanted to share with you this beautiful cover for my new book It’s OK to Go Up the Slide. We still have to wait for the book – coming in spring – but thought you’d like … Continue reading

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10 Responses to Going Up the Slide

  1. Emily Plank says:

    So excited for you! How fun to see a cover!! 🙂 Our field needs more of your wisdom, so I am really glad you have a second book to offer!!

  2. Bj Richards says:

    I can hardly wait! I gave your first book to all my families!!

    I recommend it to everyone!! Everywhere I go I refer people to your book. I have been doing child care for 39 years and your book is my all time favorite!!!

    Thank you
    Bj Richards

  3. Mary Haley says:

    I, too, have given the book to family and enjoy renegade discussions! Looking forward to the new book!

    Cover Idea: How about adding additional kids waiting to climb UP the slide!

  4. Cynthia Zapel says:

    You are amazing, Heather !! Congrats on your second innovative book. I wish I had such a book when I was raising my children. I also like the book cover-how appropriate.
    Thank You, Cynthia Zapel

  5. Warmest congrats. The cover is perfect and I am so thrilled with the title–yes, it’s just right for that next step in the child-rearing. Let them play.

  6. Congratulations and good luck with the new book. Looking forward to reading it and passing it on to those who need it much more than I do.

    Chris

  7. Heather Shumaker says:

    Thank you! So glad you like the cover. Can’t wait to share the real book with you soon.

  8. Katrin says:

    I cannot wait to read it! I’ve already hooked some families to “It’s ok not to share”, and I do already know that I’m going to get a copy for them and me.
    I love your ideas and your down to earth approach to parenting.

Playing with Fire: Why Risk is Good for Kids

I’m back after a lovely, non-computer time this summer. We spent a lot of our time playing and traveling, including camping and playing with fire. OK, I don’t have tots anymore. My youngest is seven, and that’s a wonderful age … Continue reading

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8 Responses to Playing with Fire: Why Risk is Good for Kids

  1. Jan Waters says:

    Heather, again you are right on. I remember letting my grandkids light a whole box of matches while I watched and then blow out the candle. We have campfires a lot in my backyard and I let the kids play and poke. One granddaughter said she was doing experiments. Risk taking is so important to educating. Its fun to read your wriing what I’ve always believed. Jan

  2. Lydia says:

    I totally agree! I have so many happy memories from my own childhood, of fire building.
    I love the sound of your new book too, my daughter is a slide climber upper! ?

  3. Fire building is a terrific way to teach safety and risk. I started making campfires under the watchful, expert eye of my mother the first year we went family camping. I was 10. A child needs to feel the intense heat from a small fire, feel the burn when he touches a seeming harmless point of a stick that’s been poking in red-hot coals, and see how fast a small fire can flare up when the damp wood has finally dried enough to really blaze away.

    My not so foolish risky behavior is taking solo wilderness canoe trips in my late 50s (and hope to do so well into my 60s). But I’m experienced, cautious, and never bite off more of a trip than I can chew. The main risks are Mother Nature nailing me with a bolt of lightning or a strong wind blowing a tree down onto my tent while I sleep. Capsizing in the middle of a large lake during high winds is a good example of mindless, intentionally foolish behavior. I’ll arrive home a day late if necessary rather than risk paddling across a whitecap filled lake by myself.

    Glad you brought up the topic of teaching kids to take risks. It’s an important topic too often ignored in the age of helicopter parenting when parents seek to eliminate all risks for their children.

    Chris

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Happy canoeing, Chris! And so glad your early campfire burning days have continued to serve you well. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anna says:

    I agree! My son is only three, so as yet I’ve only let him throw twigs on the campfire, but more soon, hopefully. I do, however, let him cook his own oatmeal on our gas stove in the morning. He does great and he’s very cautious. I read a very helpful suggestion a while ago that when teaching a child to use the stove, you should have them actually use their hand to feel different distances from the flame to figure out what’s safe and what isn’t, and I found it to be great advice.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Great tip about stoves! Sounds as if you and your son will have many fine adventures ahead. Thanks for sharing your story.

Rewards versus Celebrations

Rewards are all around our children. Stars. Sticker charts. Prizes. Many of us automatically reward good behavior or new accomplishments with food. Even if you don’t dole out frequent rewards in your family, chances are your child is being loaded … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Rewards versus Celebrations

  1. Marisol says:

    Thanks for share this information. I have three childs and the prizes were foods or candies. It is bad this.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Try to remember the reward that comes inside the child. Then share your joy with the child’s inner joy. That’s what counts!

How to Grow a Grown-Up

“Bold, clear and lifesaving. Vicki Hoefle is in the business of helping parents grow great grown-ups.” That’s the cover quote on Vicki’s new book The Straight Talk on Parenting: A No-Nonsense Approach to How to Grow a Grown-Up. 2015 is … Continue reading

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10 Responses to How to Grow a Grown-Up

  1. Amy Sue says:

    My biggest parenting struggle is with our 8 & 10 year olds. They argue about screen time limits, and are constantly bickering with each other. It’s exhausting!

  2. Jenifer says:

    This sounds great! My girls are now 2 and nearly 5. They crave independence, and I try to give it to them, but would love to learn more about how to give them the skills they need!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Jenifer – Congrats! You’re the winner of the book. Enjoy the wonderful journey ahead of giving more independence to your children. Best wishes, Heather

  3. Irene says:

    I would love to parent my son without yelling or bribing him!

  4. Swen says:

    Our greatest struggle is with our 4 year old daughter, being very strong-headed, testing our limits and her owns every day and all the time. When we as parents are sleep deprived from our younger one, it gets exhausting.

  5. Linda says:

    Sounds excellent!! We have 2.5 yr old triplets. Feels like we’re in the throws of it all right now and we’ve only just begun!

  6. Cari Noga says:

    I have a 9 y.o. son with special needs and a 6 year old typical daughter. Exhausted trying to be fair to both. Also worried my special needs son is not ever going to be able to leave home. I definitely need help growing 2 grownups.

  7. Alyson S says:

    I would love to win this book! I struggle so much with losing my patience

  8. Dawn Sparks says:

    I have a 5 and 3 year old. Our current biggest problem is helping them deal with anger and disappointment in appopriate ways. It’s pointing out my issues in dealing with my own big emotions!

  9. Jose says:

    their children were well rueodnd with doing homework and other things, that’s great for you; however, did your child honestly get the family time he/she craved?? Also, she said she didn’t agree with homework for children 11 and under. Therefore, from the 7th grade & up your child would have homework & this should be good enough because there is more to learn and less time per class to learn it but should they really have between 2 & 3 hours worth of homework?? Ok I’m finished, but kudos and I’m glad you take a stand every year for your children.21