Saturday, 26 March 2016

Wait a minute, Mr. Postman!

Back in August 2015, I wrote this message to the Department of Education and Skills in Ireland, which is responsible for all the State-run schools in this country.  I was hoping that they would address my concerns about the overuse of information technology in schools today, particularly at primary school level.  I have yet to receive a response - imagine that!  Must have gotten lost in the post.




I would like to address this message to whomever is currently manager of the Digital Schools of Distinction award programme. 

I am a father of 3, and my eldest child will be entering national school in September. 

I am very concerned about the Digital Schools of Distinction programme.  It puts pressure on schools to increase the amount of time young children spend in front of screens and to include more computers and interactive whiteboards in day-to-day instruction. 

As you are no doubt aware, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing have all published statements recommending that school-aged children be exposed to no more than 2 hours per day.of so-called screen time (link to these documents here https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx, here http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/physical-activity-guidelines#ref49 and here http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/bf5f3e0045d0b6eda24fae9f9859b7b1/OPALscreenfactsheet-sss-20110217.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=bf5f3e0045d0b6eda24fae9f9859b7b1, respectively). 

Clearly, the DSoD award programme is resulting in small children often exceeding their recommended daily screen time limit without regard for their health and safety, as research has yet to conclusively determine the long-term effects of over-exposure to technology on brain development and vision.  What we do know for sure is that too much interaction with tv's, computers, apps, tablets, smartphones and the like are associated with greater risk for obesity, anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, attention and cognitive problems,  and antisocial behaviour to name just a few. 

It appears as though this government is engaged in a blatant conflict of interest in which the profit margins of corporate sponsors HP and Microsoft are being relentlessly pursued to the detriment of our truly greatest resource for the future, our children.  I wonder what are your thoughts on this and what, if any, safeguards are being put in place to protect students from the multitude of pitfalls inherent in the use of IT in schools.

I, along with many other concerned parents in our community, eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely yours,
The MindFull Child Studio



Thursday, 30 April 2015

Follow us on Twitter!

We're delighted to announce that you can now follow us on Twitter!

@MindFullChild 

We are searching the internet to bring you informative articles, inspirational quotes, thought-provoking videos and more that can help us all to get into - and stay in - our MindFull parenting zone.

We believe that children are not empty vessels who need us to fill them up with knowledge and skills.  Rather, our sons and daughters come to us equipped with all they need to learn and flourish, whatever they may face or aspire to in this world.  Their minds and spirits are already full.  They are whole.  Our role as parents is to create a safe, loving context in which they can explore freely and where positivity and empowering thoughts and words are the norm.  We need to protect their right to direct their own learning and provide an abundance of opportunities for unstructured play.  The links on our Twitter page will help to support our efforts and provide the scientific and theoretical foundations for our philosophies, reassuring us that ours is a sound, evidence-based approach.

We look forward to meeting you there!

 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Concentration, Not Conformity

It is commonly assumed that young children have very short attention spans and must be taught concentration, also known as the mental faculty of Will.  As parents, we become increasingly concerned about our child's ability to sustain focus on an activity as s/he approaches school age.  An internet search for "help children concentrate" will yield numerous websites with all manner of attention-grabbing and often worrying headlines, such as:

Is your child really ready for school?

Advice abounds regarding how to encourage children to sit still at a table and complete an inane assignment and how to break the news that sometimes we must all do things that we don't enjoy.  These types of exercises, while they may or may not transform a lively child into a quiet, docile student, take a very narrow view of concentration and do not address the real nature of the human will.

Concentration is not the ability to complete dull tasks which are unappealing and irrelevant to the unique nature of the child in question.  Rather, it is the ability to focus all of one's mental energy with precision in a deliberate way for however long it takes to complete the experience.  A small child will engage in sustained, self-directed play for its own sake until s/he is finished, while an older child may strive to achieve specific ends of his/her choosing.  The child's own interest is its cornerstone.  It is a function of the conscious mind, and this application to task is easily transferable from one context to another and from childhood to adulthood.  It supports creativity and independence rather than mere conformity to social or environmental norms, and it is vital for young children from birth to age 7 to have plenty of freedom to develop this faculty.  Giving them the time and space to explore their world as preschoolers will serve them well throughout the lifespan.

The following article, based on the theories of Maria Montessori, has brilliant ideas and links for parents who are seeking guidance about how best to nurture their preschool-aged child's will in an age-appropriate way:

/http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/06/04/montessori-monday-help-your-child-develop-concentration/

We also love this video of a little boy who is thoroughly absorbed in and entertained by a few simple items that may be found in any kitchen.  If this isn't concentration, I don't know what is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEfQgC3yL-w

Just as we saw earlier when we looked in-depth at the faculty of Reason, a child exercising will and an adult exercising will can be radically different things.  Children are living in a primarily physical world dominated by sensation and movement, while adults engage moreso with the abstract world of thoughts and the intellect.  Our job as caregivers is to meet children where they are and provide an environment that promotes developmentally-appropriate stimulation and opportunities.

Happy playing!




Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Parenting Resources We Love . . . And Love to Share

Please find below a list of resources that we have used and consult regularly as we progress through our parenting journey.  We find them useful with regard to general parenting issues as well as strategies that are useful for developing the six mental faculties.  Hopefully, you will also find some gems among them that speak to you personally.  We will continue to add more to this list over time, so do check back for updates!



You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

The Baby Book by Sears and Sears

Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities - From the Very Start by Magda Gerber


Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner, Ph.D.

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim

Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think - and What We Can Do About It by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.

The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori

Secrets of Childhood by Maria Montessori

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown

The Power of Positive Talk: Words to Help Every Child Succeed by Douglas Bloch, M.A. with Jon Merritt, M.S.

Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Artist’s Way for Parents by Julia Cameron

YogaKids – Educating the Whole Child through Yoga by Marsha Wenig

Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

Rays of the Dawn by Dr. Thurman Fleet

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Young At Art by Susan Striker

Infant Massage by Vimala McClure

Sign With Your Baby: How to Communicate with Infants Before They Can Speak by Joseph Garcia

Everyday Blessings: Mindfulness for Parents by Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn



Children's Books

Each Breath a Smile by Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Thuc Nghiem

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

All I See is Part of Me by Chara M. Curtis

I Think, I Am! by Louise Hay

The Anti-Colouring Book Series by Susan Striker

Relax Kids: Aladdin's Magic Carpet by Marneta Viegas 

The Pig of Happiness by Edward Monkton



Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Favourite Resource for MindFull Parents



We would like to introduce our readers to another one of our favourite resources, JUNO magazine (www.junomagazine.com).

JUNO is a natural parenting magazine that inspires and supports families through its range of features, columns and artwork.  Established in 2003, it is published four times a year, in March, June, September and December.  The editorial is broad, covering all aspects of family life for all ages.  JUNO is loved by many readers for its articles that share personal experiences and reflections, and for the beautiful and striking images and illustrations from a range of artists.

JUNO offers fresh perspectives in this fast-paced technological world, creating a non-judgmental community for those who are keen to follow "a natural approach to family life."  There are columns on home education, empowered birth, teens and nutrition; interviews, craft and recipe ideas and a mix of features that can help readers make informed choices as they journey through the challenges of parenting.