Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Color at the Tulip Festival!

We had a fabulous time at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn today. Enjoy the spring colors!











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Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Answer the Screen Time Challenge (Especially with Challenged Kids)



"Screen Time" is a BFD in our house. Episodic wars are fought over it throughout the day, every day. Limiting young children's exposure to technology is difficult in most households, but when you have a child who requires a whole lot of assistance to do much else, it's nearly impossible.

During our medical trip to New York, for example, all screen time limits were off… and Malachi happily played on his iPad and watched TV for hours and hours. There was no point at which he was tired of it. No point at which, when it was time to turn it off, did he not have a complete meltdown.

And I know that lots of people are out there telling you how terrible screen time is for young children. Even after updating its recommendations last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics still says children under 2 should have no screen time at all and after that less than two hours per day.

I don't think screen time is evil. Screens are now everywhere in our homes, in our classrooms and in our social lives. Heck, I'm glued to my phone all day long. I even believe that at some point, children without touch-screen literacy will be the ones singled out for intervention. 

That said, I do think that limiting screen time: 

  • forces me to be creative in how my children spend their time; 
  • limits their exposure to violent, sexual, aggressive, amoral, age-inappropriate and frightening imagery/language;
  • allows me to be aware of what they are watching and reinforce the positive lessons in their real world lives; 
  • gives my kids a chance to interact with and learn about the physical world.

Still. It's really difficult. I felt like I was spending my entire day keeping the kids away from screens just so that when Dad came home, he could hand them the iPad and relax. Didn't quite seem fair. 

So I found this post last fall on One Perfect Day and made a Screen Time chart like hers: 90 minutes per day with 10 minute "tickets" that the kids can spend pretty much as they wish. Except: no more than 30 minutes at a time, at least two hours of break in between and no "rollover" minutes to the next day. (However, no rules for people gracious enough to babysit and when kiddos are sick.)



It wasn't working so well. My kids never really embraced the "saving up tickets" idea. They are the type who will use up ALL of the screen time they possibly can and then whine intermittently throughout the intervening time. It was getting to the point that they were arguing to have 90 minutes at a stretch because they still had tickets even though it had NEVER worked like that. Also, sometimes there were special occasions or interminably long days where I needed some extra time but it's not like I could fight with them all day on sticking to the chart and then give up at the end of the day. 

So, here's my new solution:




This is a 8.5 x 11 laminated sheet with 4x2-inch laminated 30-minute "tickets" for morning, afternoon, evening and "extra" screen time. Each ticket is affixed with sticky-back Velcro. The space where the ticket goes on the chart lists the requirements needed for screen time. For example, in the morning, they need to eat breakfast and get dressed first. The "extra" ticket can be given or taken away with good or bad behavior.

The kids helped me make it by picking out the color of their tickets and feeding the pages through the laminator. They were SUPER excited about this process!

So far today it's been working well and the kids seem less upset and confused about when they can play Angry Birds. Wish us luck!



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Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Makes a Little Girl?




The yellow field flowers were out in bloom so we spent a moment picking some. Then the boys asked (demanded) to put them in their hair. I pulled out some bobby pins from mine and skewered them to the sides of their heads.
JJ just ran off; mission accomplished. But Malachi said excitedly: "Now I'm a little girl!" I laughed and said: "Yep, now you're a little girl."
Malachi thought for a long while and then said: "To be a baby boy, you do nothin'."
I laughed for a long time then but didn't know what else to say. Just 3 years old and already learning that little boys can just be little boys but little girls require something extra.

Feel free to share this post using the tiny icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feedliked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! 

Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Great Book for Understanding Kids' Sensory Triggers

Someone recently gave me a copy of Understanding Your Child's Sensory Signals: A Practical Daily Use Handbook for Parents and Teachers. I love it!

This book is chockfull of practical strategies and helps explain why your child is "Afraid of the Car Wash" or "Sucks Stomach in as Far as Possible, Then Puffs it Out," or "Dislikes Wearing Shoes and/or Socks."

It's not a long, laborious read. You look at the Table of Contents, find something your kid does and then flip to the page to read a couple paragraphs about why he does it and how to help. Easy!

This was designed for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, but having been in a preschool classroom for much of the last year, I can guarantee that this would be useful to any parent. All babies and young kids have difficulty dealing with our modern world because it is so weird and frightening!

I love the table of contents, too, because reading through it, I get a sense of how wide the range of sensory triggers are. It's nice to feel like I'm not the only parent in the world dealing with them!

Angie Voss' explanations are kind and positive. You can tell she really thinks about where the child is coming from and gives them the benefit of the doubt that they are not just "acting out" but might have a legitimate reason for certain behaviors.

Check out a copy from your library or buy it on amazon by clicking on this picture!








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Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 



Monday, April 14, 2014

How Video Games Could Teach My Kid to Walk

Dear Video Game Developers,

Wanna do something really cool and meaningful? Develop a game system that teaches my kid how to walk.

I'm not kidding.

I can clearly see in my mind a long roll-out pad for the Wii. You place the child on it and he gets certain rewards for each teeny, tiny new milestone. Study child development and see how certain leg movements are the building blocks for crawling and standing. You could have whole levels devoted to pelvic movements. The sky's the limit.

See, when typical babies are hanging out all day, they are constantly experimenting with different movements and stumble across the rewards and penalties for such movements. No baby has ever thought: "I'm going to learn how to walk." They just play around with their body until it does what it was designed to do.

The problem I'm finding as my son approaches his fourth birthday is that motivating him to roll over and crawl is immensely difficult. He is no longer a baby who is easily rewarded with something shiny — he needs a much bigger stimulus.

There is not a lot he won't do for the iPad though. He has learned a lot about sitting and hand-eye coordination by playing it — not because he is "working on" those skills, but because it is what's needed to reach his goal in the game. This is precisely what babies do when they take those first steps. They are not thinking: "I'm going to put one foot in front of the other." They are thinking: "I want to be closer to mama." Walking is simply a means of achieving their primary goal.

I know that "child development" and "video games" tend to be at odds in our culture, but I think that's precisely because they have a remarkable ability to tap into neuroplasticity. This can be bad if you are using video games to imprint violence and objectification of women, but you could also use them to quickly and effectively teach useful skills.

Take for example this woman. She is a video game developer who suffered severe depression after a concussion and the only way she found to get out of it was to create a video-game-based reward system for taking the small real-world steps to improve her life.





I know from friends with kids who have cerebral palsy but can ambulate that games on the Wii have dramatically improved these children's coordination and balance. But so far there is nothing like that for kids who are still on the floor.

We still try with Malachi's walker. We play a dance game on the X-box 360 Kinect, but he isn't really affecting what's going on and the walker imposes bizarre rules of gravity. One of Malachi's absolute favorite outings used to be going to the dance pad at a nearby mall. Look how fast he goes in his walker to get to it!




Malachi running to the dance pad! from Shasta Kearns Moore on Vimeo.


Unfortunately that was several months ago and the dance pad is now decommissioned. It was a very sad day indeed for Malachi when we found that out. 

But he remains strongly motivated by video games. His new favorite meal is Super Mario-shapes chicken noodle soup, but he rarely ate pasta before that. 

I can't imagine my kid is the only one. So, please, video game developers. If you wanna do something amazing, develop a game that helps motivate older children with developmental disabilities — several million individuals worldwide — to practice the same developmental steps that typical babies go through. I know at least one little boy who would really get into it. 

Jessie Kirk Photography



Feel free to share this post using the tiny icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feedliked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! 

Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 


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