When I was first dealing with my Lyme disease during the fall and winter of 2016, I was doing lots of research, both online, in books, and in person. With so many issues popping up daily, there was never enough information to help me find the right solution.
By spring, I had starting feeling better, after having several months of a new diet and numerous appointments with medical and holistic practitioners. I was ready to try something else to help me heal even more, and I had the opportunity to learn about essential oils at a workshop at a local organic nursery. I also spoke with a few representatives who sold them for various companies. While this newfound knowledge was very informative and helpful, my own experience with Lyme taught me that my body had become extremely sensitive to foods and compounds. I wasn’t really looking to sign up for programs and pay money for products I may or may not use or may be a source of more pain and complications for me.
In end, I decided that the best route for me to take would be to find a good book to help me learn which oils to use for what purposes. And that is when I discovered Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991.
As a ‘rookie’ in the essential oil world, I loved this book. Not only was it easy to use, it was also very comprehensive in its approach of how to use the oils for what purposes. There were recipes for any type of use: cooking, cleaning, or germ fighting. In the back, there was a listing of reputable oil companies to purchase from, which for me, was great information. With my own immune system so compromised at the time, and so many companies were jumping on the EO bandwagon, this was very helpful information for me. Interestingly enough, she does list the two major essential oil companies, Young Living, and doTerra, in her first book. But due to my own knowledge of the bad blood between the two businesses, I personally boycotted those two and purchased other recommended oils at local stores in my area.
The 25th anniversary edition has recently been published, (2016) and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from the publisher. And much like the first volume, this one also is a great edition to anyone’s library.
Ms. Worwood’s does a deeper exploration of the history of essential oils in this volume; and for me, this is a great asset to the book. My epiphany about the health value in using essential oils came when reading this section. Our ‘advanced’ technological and medical age has overshadowed the fact that these oils have been used for thousands of years by various cultures across the globe. My own health issues combined with this knowledge about essential oils really indicated to me that the medical community needs to takes notice of ways to help people heal from aliments without the use of synthetic or manmade compounds. Imagine if more doctors used more natural ways to healing the body! They may be out of a business, but we’d be a healthier community, for sure!
The 25th edition has great reference charts for oils as well—a dilution chart, conversion charts, a quick reference chart about oils, and also more detailed profiles on essential oils which grace the pages of this book from beginning to end.
What I love about the new book is that there is notably more information for all types of ailments at any age, from birth all the way to what she gently describes as the ‘maturing’ years. I have family members dealing with stress, fatigue and other more serious health issues. Ms. Wormwood details explicitly how oils can be used in any number of situations. While she does specifically state that this book is not intended to heal or substitute for medical advice, I do find that as a Lyme disease warrior, there is something in here for everyone. Whether you are interested in more ‘green cleaning’, ways to use essential oils in cooking, or just want to learn something new about a very old and everlasting health practice, this is an informative and easy to reference book to have on hand.
As someone who is now at the point in my learning to start to experiment more with essential oils to improve my health further, I am happy that this book is gracing my coffee table. ( I reference it quite often—it hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet!)
My husband recently purchased an espresso maker, which prompted the need to clean out a kitchen cabinet so he could have his espresso cups easily available. This led to the discovery of many, many coffee mugs that sit in our cabinet and are never used, some of which I received as teacher gifts.
With the holidays approaching, many parents like to give teacher gifts, but I know as a parent, it gets tiresome each year trying to think of new ideas outside of the mug or candle. Here are 5 ideas that may spark your gift giving nature in a different direction this year.
Read To Grow
When I had my daughter ten years ago, this organization had volunteers come around to all the new moms with a book to keep to encourage literacy. Two years ago, one of my Kinder scholar’s parents made a donation to Read To Grow in my name. It was such a thoughtful gift, and one that stood out from all the mugs of candy that I’ve received over the years.
Check in your area to see if your local hospital has an organization like Read to Grow. Or, follow the link below and make a donation anyway! It is sure to bring a smile to your child’s teacher’s face.
Along the lines of Read to Grow, we all know someone, whether it is an adult or child, fighting a health battle. Instead of purchasing a gift that may not be meaningful, use that money towards a donation to a particular charity. Again, it is a thoughtful gift that will have lasting benefits.
If donations aren’t your thing, here are a few more tangible gift ideas that your child’s teacher will love.
Monogrammed Note Paper and Fancy Pen
Teachers write A LOT of notes! I loved it when I received paper and note cards with my name on it one year. Vistaprint allows you to customize to include the school address and phone number as well.
Gift Cards to Bookstores, Craft Stores, or Office Supply Stores
Many teachers supplement their classroom supplies with books, glue sticks, and colored pencils that they purchase out-of-pocket. Even just a few $5.00 gift cards add up and teachers definitely appreciate not having to dig into their own wallets to restock classroom supplies after the holidays.
School Supply Basket
Teachers LOVE school supplies! Create a basket with pencils, erasers, colored pencils, markers, post it notes, seasonal stickers, glue sticks, and other items that you think your teacher could use in the classroom. Even hand soap and tissues in the basket are much-needed and appreciated items that your kids use daily in the classroom. Better yet: get in touch with the Room Parent to coordinate a basket like this with one donation from each student! Every one can afford one small item and your teacher will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind this bountiful, useful gift.
I went back to work the August after an unexpected medical leave in January 2016.
It’s been good to be back, even with the challenges of a larger group of students with varying levels of specific needs.
One of the things I love about teaching Kindergarten is that I can literally shape how a child views anything–even the most mundane task–just by my reaction or how I present it to them. Work they need to do becomes “a project” or “a puzzle”. Assessments or small group work becomes “working with Mrs. T” time –-and everyone LOVES one on one time with the teacher! Even a little post-it lunch box note from Mom turns into a gloriouslove note. The kids BEAM when I gush, “OH LOOK!!!! Mommy wrote you a LOVE NOTE!!” We read it together and the child toddles off with a smile on his or her face, so happy they got a love note from home.
Sometimes, the children bring in pictures for me—beautiful Kindergarten drawings of us together, sometimes with a drawing of my faithful puppet Red Word Fred intermingled with the hearts and shapes and colors. This year, I’ve had a few of my scholars say, “I made you a love note,” handing their treasure over to me when we collect the mail at the start of the day. I gush and preen over each note, thanking the child and putting it up on my bulletin board behind my table. My bulletin board is already filled with these notes, and I decided it was time to give back the love to my students.
This past Friday, I sent each of them home with a love note from me. Since we do mail in the morning, I had to remind them they couldn’t open it up now, or on the bus, or at the YMCA program after school. They had to wait until they got home to share it with their families.
Their reactions were priceless as they were handed folded notes. Some said thank you, some sat there in awe, looking at their name and heart drawn on the front, reminding me of Charlie Bucket when he found the Golden Ticket, and others were literally just beaming with joy and smiles. I had enclosed both a note and a dot-to-dot page. I’m not sure what will transpire as far as an extra little goodie inside each week—I haven’t planned that far ahead– but my goal is to give them each a love note every Friday morning to read at home.
I hope the love gets passed around this year between home and school!
I officially went back to work on Thursday, August 25, 2016.
It was my first day of school since leaving on January 15, 2016.
And it was great.
It was like I never even left, outside of all the hugs and well wishes and “So glad to see your smiling face!” greetings. Even sweeter was a post it note from my new principal that he left in my classroom the night before, saying how welcoming everything looked and how happy he’s glad I’m able to return.
Prior to our “official” start date, I participated in the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics. Usually, it can be a five-day or longer event . This year, due to scheduling issues, it was a 3 day affair with multiple-tiered activities.
I engaged in all sorts of games that had been previously set up by the individuals in my room, both adults and children, while I was out on sick leave. And let me tell you, they did a wonderful job of challenging me! I tried my best to complete each game to the best of my ability. Some of them were more challenging than others, but all in all, I think I represented my Kindergarten colleagues quite well!
“What’s In The Cabinet?” was great fun as I discovered all sorts of materials and paperwork out-of-place. Some cabinets I just opened and then quickly shut, while others I cleaned and organized without much fanfare. This multi-tiered event didn’t put me in the running for the gold or even bronze medal, but my efforts were rewarded with several empty cabinets. I still have several that need to be tackled, but that is for another day.
“Container Crash” was not an event I wanted to participate in due to the time constraints I was under, but it was necessary to complete. For about an hour, I sorted through the 16 years worth of containers that I have–baskets, boxes, and lids of all sorts of sizes and colors. Some matched, while others remained lonely. I managed to give away a few of them to some of my co-workers, but I still have a huge store of containers stacked in boxes over the cubbies. If you need any containers or lids, either matching ones or replacement parts, let me know. I’ll give them to you for FREE! (That is certainly worth a silver medal, right?)
“Book Jam I” was a difficult event. My trade books were not in any particular order, and I was unable to properly organize them to my satisfaction in the allotted time. I did ok with the “Book Jam II“, sorting Reading Workshop books into the correct bins and finding my personal collection of board books that I like to use to start out the year with. But the BEST part of “Book Jam II” was when I masterfully placed my outward-facing bookshelves so I actually have TWO book corners this year for my little Kindergarten scholars! I think that event was purposefully scheduled to try to trick me into getting rid of Kindergarten furniture. I get a double gold medal for that one!
“Where Are The Spacemen?” is still alluding me. During writing, we use these adorable spacemen clothespins created by Really Good Stuff for teaching about putting spaces between words. I can’t find any of them! They may have gone into Mr. Pail at the end of the year, or they may still be playing “What’s In The Cabinet?” Another level to this game is “Where Is The Smartboard Pen?” I had two pens, and one is missing. Clearly, no medal for me for this event.
At the start of “Kindergarten Kitchen Nightmare“, pocket books were filled with toy food, little scratch pads had one scribble on a page, dishes were mixed in with clothing, and the babies had bed head and were all naked. I had to get everything back in its correct, loving place. By the time I was done, the table was set with a tablecloth and napkins I made over the summer, the babies were all clothed and in bed with little handmade blankets, and the food and dishes were put away in the correct spots. Another gold medal for me! Sorry, no picture proof of this, but I can honestly say, the kitchen looked wonderful by the time I was done!
“Sharpen The 1,000 Pencils” was another non-medal event, sadly. My TWO electric pencil sharpeners are busted, so I’ll be purchasing one over the weekend. Guess I’ll be participating in that one on Monday morning!
And “What Did I Order?” is a game also still in progress. I purchased glue sticks prior to the start of the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics while back to school shopping. Lo and behold on Friday, I received two boxes of glue sticks that I guess I ordered since my name was on them! Ah well…better extra glue than no glue!
“Class List Confusion” is always a challenging event for even the most seasoned teacher. A new student was added to my class list and I wasn’t aware of this change when the children visited on Thursday, the 25th. I had to make her crayon cup with her instead of it already set for her at her seat. But on Friday, I made sure to make the labels for seat and cubby, so she will be all set for the first day of school the following week.
“Paperwork Paparazzi” started out as a challenge, but ended up being a silver medal event for me. Another side-event of “What’s in the Cabinet?”, I found student work and assessments from last year in two separate locations that needed to be sorted, organized, and distributed to the first grade teachers. I also located behavior charts for students, parent information, and other miscellaneous paperwork that just didn’t find its way into Mr. Pail at the end of the school year last year. About an hour and half later, all the pertinent paperwork was correctly organized and given to the proper people.
“Bulletin Board Brilliance” was a gold medal winner for me, for sure! Not only was the bulletin board I made adorable, it is highly effective in terms of student work placement. I made little cupcakes from bulletin boarders and tissue paper. The flame above lists my scholars’ birthdays. Underneath each one, there is a clothes pin hanging by a tack. Putting up and taking down student work is a snap! An added bonus: I’ll be putting their photos underneath by the 2nd week of school, so everyone who visits will quickly know which happy little cupcake belongs to which scholar.
The best game, though was “Toss It!” I KNOW I won the gold medal on this game! I had THE biggest pile of boxes, trash, a rug, broken containers, and other unusable items stacked up in three towers of trash. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of my award-winning dump pile! (You can see a bit of the pile creeping out of the hallway in this photo.)
All in all, I think I fared pretty well in this year’s Olympics.
Have you ever tried to wash and wax your kitchen floor in 90-degree heat? Most logically-thinking people would say, “Of course not! The floor will never dry!” Most people wait for cooler temperatures to wash and wax floors, since high temperatures directly impact how easily and quickly the task can be done.
And yet, that’s what our faithful custodians in my school must do every summer. The teachers pack up as much of their classroom materials as possible in June, storing things in cabinets, closets and cubbies. The custodians then remove all the furniture and any supplies and materials that didn’t fit in the classroom storage areas to the hallway. The floors are then washed and waxed, then the room is reassembled according to a map left by the teacher. Once all the rooms are done in the wing, then the hallways are done. It’s an exhausting, heat-infused, time consuming job. One wing in our building has at minimum 10 rooms. Multiply that by 4 wings…it’s a lot of work.
This year, we had both summer school and a preschool program running in our building, which impacted when the custodians could do their yearly summer routine. Since our summer school and pre-k programs weren’t completed until August 12th, it left only two and a half weeks for the custodians to get their work done, as our new earlier start date this year is August 29th. The classrooms in the wing that was slated for summer school were washed and waxed prior to summer school starting, but that still left the hallway to be done as well many classrooms left untouched until the Pre-k program let out.
When I went in on the one day in August that the school was open to start working in my classroom, (Yes, teachers DO work in their classrooms over the summer to get ready for their new scholars!) the three custodians were busy all over the building. One was waxing the upper floor in my hallway, and the other two were in another section of the building, unloading classrooms and beginning to wash and wax those floors. It’s a thankless job made more stressful by the fact that school is set to open in two weeks.
This madness got me thinking of a few solutions to make their job a little more bearable in 90-degree temperatures with no air conditioning and possibly make the summer cleaning schedule a little more productive.
Start school after Labor Day if summer school and other programs must run through mid-August in school buildings. The extra few weeks will give the custodians ample time to do their work without having the pressure of school starting at the end of August.
Hold summer school in a different town building, like a Recreation Department or Community Center, freeing up the school buildings for custodians to use the months of June through August to work and get the schools ready for another school year.
Set up a schedule for all custodians to rotate through all the schools over the summer, helping to move all the furniture and clean the classrooms and hallways in each building, so there are more people to assist at each school and get the buildings ready sooner. A team of three custodians in each wing for a week could get more done than merely 3 per building. Many hands make light work, right?
I intend to send an email to our Superintendent about this issue once school starts. My hope is that those who make the school calendar for next year take into account the hard work of the custodians over the summer months, especially those who have to work around summer school and other educational programs. Without them and their efforts, we wouldn’t have the sparkling windows, doors, and floors that greet the children and staff every year.
What type of job do you have? Can you just leave your office at the end of the year, or do you have to pack up and set up each work year?
Ok, kids. Technology has made things easier to some degree in our lives, but not necessarily any smarter. Let’s go over a few things to keep in mind when you are granting ‘all access to you all the time’ on your Smartphone and social media accounts. And let’s see how you can be smarter for your kids and you at your child’s school for the next school year.
REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST
Oftentimes, Facebook pages light up with parent complaints about not feeling ‘welcome’ anymore at their child’s school when it comes to attending school functions. Translation: they are upset that they have to sign up to attend school events and just can’t “show up” to “help out” anymore.
When frustration takes over at these seemingly unfriendly school rules, we as parents need to remember that schools are first and foremost, places of learning for students.
Sadly, we live in a much more socially dangerous time, where adults and children have access to guns and other weapons. They cause unthinkable carnage at schools and other public places. Innocent people are killed, families are destroyed, and schools are left trying to make sense of it all while still continuing on valiantly to educate students in the pressing age of data driven instruction and assessment.
Many schools now have systems and procedures in place to account for people in and out of the building as a result of the violence that occurs daily across our country. Principals request all dismissal information to be sent in paper format and parents to call if a child is absent. Schools have set arrival and dismissal times and procedures for all students, whether they are driven in, walk, or ride the bus. And schools have much tighter security during the day, where doors are locked and teachers use swipe keys to enter and exit.
These are safety measures for your children and the adults in the building. The rules that are in place are not made to make you feel unwelcome. They are put in place to keep everyone safe.
So don’t become upset when your child’s school asks for parents to sign to attend a school function. It’s much smarter to realize that your child is in a building with hundreds of other children who also deserve to be just as safe as your child. And you would want those parents to follow the safety rules for the sake of your child’s safety, too.
ANNOUNCE YOUR VISIT
Imagine this: You’ve got a big presentation to that you are working on for your job. You went in early to get a head start on the day. Then there’s a knock at your door and your boss is standing there. She needs to you work on some other task right away, even though she knows that you are in the middle of your presentation work. Not the best time, right?
You may think you are doing something loving for your child by a surprise visit to the school by dropping off the forgotten homework or instrument. These seemingly innocent little unannounced visits interrupt the secretary trying to manage the school, the teacher trying to work with students, and your child trying to learn.
A smarter way: pack and check the bag the night before with your child. And don’t worry. One day without the violin or the homework isn’t going to put an end to your child’s school career. Use the forgotten item as a way to remember to plan ahead instead of an excuse to just pop in at school.
PARK IT, PLEASE
Parking can also be an issue at schools. As a teacher, I’ve almost been hit by parents countless times zooming in or out of a school parking lot. Imagine how you would feel if your child were hit by a parent. Or what if, in your haste, you hit another child? Parking procedures are in place to keep everyone safe, including your child, as well as the other students in the school.
There are universal parking rules, like marked handicapped spaces, that need to be adhered to whenever you public places, including schools. And then there are signs at schools that indicate where you can and cannot park because of bus drop offs and fire regulations. At my school, the whole front lot is for parents, and teachers need to park on the side and in the back lots. We work there, and we as teachers need to follow the parking rules just like the parents. Disregarding the signs or rules because you are the PTA President or because you are ‘just running in’ to the school puts others at risk and also shows that you feel you are above any rules. It also sends a message to your child that if my adult doesn’t follow the rules, I don’t need to, either. Everyone: parents, children and teachers, who are part of a school community, needs to follow the parking and safety rules for the benefit of all.
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
I love my phone. And I know we all have become so attached to all the aspects of a Smartphone: texting, taking pictures, tweeting, and instant access to online information-all.the.time. It’s a great device for quick communication, but with it comes responsibility of how much and when to use it.
When attending a function at your child’s school, please turn off your phone- especially on field trips, when you are in charge of students. No one likes to hear it ring, and if you really have to check it for messages, or text someone, or look on Facebook, then you’re not paying attention to the kids, and shouldn’t you be? And don’t post those photos that you took of your child performing with other kids. You know the ones…the ones you took while you were blocking the view of the parents behind you who were trying to watch their child.
Save the photo ops until you meet up with your child afterwards. You’ll be able to enjoy the performance from start to finish and get better close-ups later on.
WHICH OF THESE TWO IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER?
I had the opportunity to attend two spring school performances this past year. One was my daughter’s chorus and band concert and the other was my niece’s school play. I won’t pinpoint which event was which, but let’s see if you can spot the difference between the two events. At one event, all the audience members, parents and children, were seated quietly and respectfully, listening and clapping as appropriate. At the other, younger children were wandering all over the auditorium with their friends before and during the actual performance, switching seats and just generally being not good audience members like they are taught in school. A pair of parents sitting directly in front of me could hear their children making noise in balcony seats overhead and instead of retrieving their children and sitting with them, the adults just watched them from afar, gesturing to their kids to be quiet.
Can you tell which event was the more difficult of the two to enjoy? In both instances, the children and teachers had worked all year to perfect their skills, and yet only one audience really showed the proper respect for all their hard work. And sadly, it was the parents who were the ones who weren’t holding their children accountable for their concert behavior, not the teachers.
TEACHER TROUBLE? TALK IN PERSON
I really enjoy social media. I have gotten in touch with friends that I haven’t been in contact with in years, and family and friends who are out of state can keep in touch with my family and me. I use it as a way to have fun, and I try to be very cognizant and careful about what I post.
Once August hits and teacher assignments are determined, I often see posts from parents asking about whose kid has or had this teacher and whether the teacher was kind, nice, mean, etc. If you like or dislike a particular teacher, that is certainly is your right. But guess what? It also can remain your private business! It gives me a pit in my stomach, wondering what is being said about me. I am a teacher myself, and I know I work very hard to do the best job I can do for my students. I also know that I am human and have made errors in my career. I would just rather hear about it in person rather than read about it on social media.
Think of it this way: Would you like your kid to post on a social media site how mean, nice, or strict you are at home? Probably not. How about your boss posting on your work performance for everyone to formulate an opinion, regardless of whether or not all the facts are presented? Again, probably a negative.
Conversations about placement should be held in person with the teacher, not with your friends on Facebook.
That’s it for today. So, how do you measure up when it comes to social media and school relationships? Do you pass with flying colors or do you need to brush up on a few skills?
That’s why we go to school.
Track how often you check and use your phone for messages, texting, and checking your social media accounts for three days. Compare that to the amount of time you spend with your children and spouse.
I wrote this letter back in 2014, and with a new school year approaching, I felt the urge to post it here on my blog. To all parents: we teachers support your children’s learning every day, even in the face of mandates that seem out of reach. And to all teachers: I salute you in the job that you do every day, in the face of seen and unseen hardships.
I wish every one a safe, fun, and positive school year!
March 8, 2014
Governor Dannel Malloy
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford CT 06106
Dear Governor Malloy:
I could never be a true leader. True leaders have a very difficult job—balancing the needs of the masses while holding onto your own ideals and values. Listening to every side to make informed decisions that will propel people forward to greatness. Anticipating problems before they occur, so that final decisions don’t cause larger problems. And all the while addressing current issues with the understanding that future ones will undoubtedly occur and shift any number of outcomes.
I say I could never be a true leader, but in a sense, I guess I am. I am a teacher. I have been a Kindergarten teacher for 15 years now; over the years, I have learned the value of listening to the other side while using what I know as a teacher to bring out the best in my students and families. I try to engage my four, five, and six year old students as best I can, taking into account their needs and experiences while implementing state and national mandates that come from non-educators, which now tell me what I must do to be a “highly effective” teacher. I follow these mandates, while sometimes negating my own personal beliefs, values, and expertise on child development, because I enjoy these children. Sadly, if I want to keep my job, I must follow these mandates even when I can see daily in my classroom that they clearly do not represent the best learning for how a four, five or six year old mind works, feels, or explores their world.
No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now Common Core, all ideally look wonderful on paper, but when you are a classroom teacher and must implement them, these mandates do not take into account a student’s educational background, a school system’s economic difficulties, family dynamics, or past and future developmental milestones, which all clearly impact how and when a student learns best. I feel these initiatives at heart, may seem very logical, but in practice, are very foolhardy and do not adequately allow teachers to do their jobs using the years of expertise, knowledge, and maturity that they so readily and want to use on daily basis, but are hindered by laws like Common Core.
I would venture to guess that a child born in 1947 is not that biologically different than one that was born in 1970, or even 2014. Every infant, toddler, preschooler and Kindergartener still needs to pass through specific social, emotional, and physical developmental milestones in order for him/her to be able to access academics in a meaningful and appropriate way. When we try to speed up this natural process by teaching abstract topics like sight words or metacognitive skills, the end goal of engaged, inquisitive students doesn’t justify the means, and we are only asking for more frustrated teachers, students, and parents. I feel like these initiatives are akin to giving a 13-year-old child a set of car keys and saying, “Go drive on I-95 and then switch to I-91 in Hartford”. Any rational parent would never do such a thing, realizing that the outcome will be deadly. The child has certainly may have had a good deal experience in a car, but experience as a passenger is very different than experience behind the wheel, when coupled with maturity and solid age-appropriate teaching.
But my words are probably not what you want to hear. Let me share what one of my Kindergarteners wrote to illustrate my point. We use a Writer’s Workshop model, which teaches the fundamentals of writing—spaces, punctuation, capitalization, and formats of writing, within a child’s developmental level. Appropriate trade book texts are used as models for the students, and they truly enjoy writing because of the format and model of instruction.
Our past unit was about “How To” writing. I modeled “How To Be A Kindergartener”—use listening ears, use kind words, do your best, and clean up.
One of my students also decided to write on the same topic, but his slant was very different:
Step 1: Work! Work! Work! Work
Step 2. Learn! Learn! Learn! And Learn!
Step 3: Write! Write! Write! And Write!
Step 4: Don’t make silly faces.
I have enclosed a color copy for your review, and on the surface, this is a fabulous piece. He included all the facets of a how to piece, his illustrations were perfectly aligned with his text, and he used the conventions of writing that have been vigorously taught: capital letters, spaces, sight words, and punctuation marks. And yet, its underlying message is also very sad. The fun has been taken out of Kindergarten—highlighted by all four lines of his text. And step four says it all: no silliness for five year olds is allowed in school.
Kindergarten used to be just that: a garden for young children to grow and blossom. In the past, children learned how to socialize, solve problems, and respect both teachers and peers. Now, we are so focused on teaching academics, –racing to the top at the cost of the students’ emotional and social growth– that these natural developmental stages are being pushed further and further away from core curriculum. And the trickle up effect of all of this is that EVERY GRADE is not an appropriate grade level. Students from Kindergarten up to 12th grade are now expected to work well out of their grade level just to be “on grade level”.
In the future, I am sure we will see many more elementary children, teens and adults with social problems, anxiety, and increased stress levels because we as a educational society are not adequately addressing their needs at the right time in their education. Instead, we are force-feeding academics at the expense of their social and emotional well-being.
Please keep this student in mind the next time you meet to discuss education reform. He is one of many who are feeling the negative effects of the current legislation, but thankfully he will only be a Kindergarten student once in his lifetime.
I worked for kids. I was a vibrant Kindergarten teacher for 16 years. I loved creating my own puppets and lessons, and I had a loyal following every year! My students and colleagues loved a puppet that I created out of a wooden fork from the dollar store. I used him daily to teach sight words, and on Fridays, I’d invite the whole Kindergarten and special education classes to my classroom for a “show”. It was funny and silly and sometimes off the cuff, but none-the-less, it was a great way for my little scholars to learn abstract words like ‘here’ and ‘will’. They loved these lessons, and I would try to improve on my lessons each week with various props, songs, and little stickers to give to the children. Even the adults would get into the act. One of the paraprofessionals gave me different seasonal-themed bow ties to put on my puppet friend, which I still have and use each year. My principal wanted to create a theme song for him. And I loved every minute of it.
Now, I work for Lyme. I took a leave of absence from my teaching job this past January, becoming my own Lyme doctor, working towards better health. I read books and articles written about Lyme by doctors, researchers, and victims. I search blogs and websites, trying to find any new information that can assist me. I cross-check any healing therapy that seems to be too easy or too good to be true with a friend who has been a Lyme warrior for many, many years. I create my own recipes because my system is so fragile and can’t digest even the smallest amount of carbohydrates without feeling like I’ve gotten stung by bees. I limit going out to eat since I don’t have access to the foods I can eat or the 40 oz. or more of liquid I need to drink. I record and track my food, water and supplement intake each day, as well as check my blood sugar to ward off diabetes. I listen to advice from all sorts of people who are either suffering themselves or know of Lyme victims and have information to share.
I have numerous appointments with my primary doctor, naturopaths, and up until recently, my dietician. I am always on the look out for other avenues to help me, obscure or ‘out there’ as they may be. Lyme is a smart body terrorist, so I need to be smarter to beat it. It morphs and changes and knows when you are on antibiotics, hiding in your joints and muscles, waiting for you to show your weakness so it can attack with pain, fatigue, and loss of concentration and focus. It causes multiple levels of damage to your body and brain. Everyone’s chemistry is different, so everyone’s reaction to Lyme also differs. I have to work to be sure that I keep my stamina up and reactions under control while fighting Lyme every day.
I write about my experiences as a therapy but also as a way to help others. I ‘post’ and ‘follow’ on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. I seek out ways to help the Lyme community by sharing my own experiences to educate and inform those who are misinformed, misdiagnosed, or both.
Working for Lyme has led me down very different paths to wellness. My most recent experience has informed me about Ellie Lobel and Bee Venom therapy (BVT), which is pretty ironic, considering that is how I describe how I feel when anyone asks what my inflammation feels like! She was a scientist before being bit by a tick when she was 27. A chronic Lyme sufferer for 15 years, she was in complete organ failure and was on the road to her death. She had moved out to California, and had unexpectedly been stung repeatedly by a swarm of bees, which turned her whole immune system around. You can read more about her story here:
She now travels around the country, educating people on using bee venom from live bees to combat Lyme disease.
This seems like a ‘too good to be true’ type of solution, and yet, if it worked for Ellie after 15 years of living with the ravages of Lyme disease, could it work for me? And what would my results be after having only been dealing with Lyme for almost a year versus her 15 years? Would my results be quicker, or would I have an adverse reaction to the venom?
According to Ellie, you need to start a detox process prior to starting actual stinging, which outlines on her Facebook page. Additionally, you need to have an EPI pen and Benadryl available at each stinging session, just in case. Her method is very controlled and specific, which is in an effort to both kill the Lyme as well as limit the herxing reaction that will come afterwards as the venom works its way into your system. If you are unsure how you will react to the bee stings, you do a test sting first. After the initial test sting, you add one more, and then you increase the stinging by two’s, slowly adding two additional bee stings over time, so you are up to ten stings in one sitting. OUCH! Depending on your herx, you may stay at only two stings for several weeks. You only add more stings as you feel you are ready. And you continue to use your detox protocol in addition to the stinging routine. Since this is a controlled method for killing bacteria, you sting 3x a week, which allows you the weekend to also detox and recoup. Stinging is also very specific on your body: one inch on each side of your spinal column, spaced out up and down, to allow the venom to travel through the nerves to your extremities.
Many people across the country and the globe have experienced success with BVT for centuries, and for a variety of illnesses. And yet, I am torn with trying this method, because I know that with every plus, there is a minus. On the one wing, if I can contract an illness by an insect, why can’t I utilize another insect’s natural body chemistry to combat it? Makes sense, right? But then I on the other wing: what if BVT doesn’t work for me? I want to know about any anomalies in BVT and Lyme disease before I get involved with the whole process. With my luck, I’d be the one person who doesn’t take well to BVT and have an adverse reaction that won’t let me live to tell about it.
I am still working for Lyme, and I have found that my work with my diet and whole food supplements have started to change my immune system. I have more energy, my brain fog is slowly lifting, and my nails are no longer thin and brittle. Perhaps a little more work with the bee venom will set my immune system completely straight. Or perhaps it’ll set me back another six months! I still want to research it a bit more before I buzz into the BVT hive.
Have you utilized BVT to treat a chronic illness? What have you experienced?
When I was first so sick in the winter months from Lyme, I couldn’t read for more than ten minutes at a time.
It was devastating to me.
I’m a teacher, and I love books. Even before I became a teacher, I loved books. I couldn’t go into a bookstore without walking out with at least one book either for myself or for my classroom. When I received my first Kindle, it was like manna from heaven. Access to so many books without having the weight of lugging them around was just too good to be true. I get the NY Times book review in my email, and it is just crushing to me how many good books are out there, just waiting for me to read. It’s like brain candy is being thrust at me with an enticing coy finger, because truly, there’s never enough time to even BEGIN to read even 1/10th of the books on the list each week! Just thinkingabout all those books is making me salivate…
And yet, this winter, my brain was literally reduced to mush just as quickly and easily as turning a page.
Over time, with a lot of help from various people and a lot of dedication to eat right and take numerous whole food supplements, I am starting to see little glimmers that my brain is starting to work again. It must be all that kale and green tea I’ve been eating and drinking!
Around March or April, I noticed a slight shift in my reading stamina, and I could read for up to about a half an hour before I began to lose focus. It was a slight increase, but that was a sign of progress to me that my brain was starting to heal.
I went to the library with my daughter about 3 weeks ago, and took out a bunch of books. Even with my Kindle, there is something to be said for holding a real book in your hands. So I am a multi-format reader reading “the real deal” and the electronic book format.
In spite of the fact that I already had a few books started at home: Above All Things, by Tanis Rideout and The Last Runaway, by Tracey Chevalier, I still came home with more books. And both of those books had to take the back burner once I picked up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Ana’s Journey by Jenna Bush. I also selected a drawing book and two other ‘how to’ art books.
I finished All the Light We Cannot See over the July 4th weekend. Finishing it before the month due date was as a huge task to personally celebrate, seeing that the book was about 700 pages. Better yet, I could actually recall what I had read previously, which was yet another wonderful milestone to recognize. If you’ve read the book, you know that it is not written in a linear fashion, which makes it an even more complex and enjoyable read. And if you haven’t readit yet, I highly recommend it as your next book to read! I’ve started a Pulitizer Prize winning list on my Goodreads account as a result of this book. Why not read the best of the best, right?
Ana’s Journey I read in a day. It wasn’t a complicated read, so that short time frame didn’t really surprise me.
My brain is on fire, (key in Alicia Keyes here….) so I went back to the library yesterday, and I’ve read two more books in a span of two days.
I read Murder in Connecticut, by Micheal Benson, about the Petit murders in Cheshire, Connecticut. And today I started and finished reading Blood Brother, by Anne Bird, a long-lost sister of Scott Peterson. She recounts how she reconnected with her biological mother and Scott about two years before pregnant Laci went missing and was later found dead in San Francisco Bay. Again, not complicated reads, but still pretty cool to me that I read two books in two days, considering that only a mere six months ago, I couldn’t read for more than ten minutes!!
It seems like my brain is now on overdrive, wanting to make up for lost time not being able to read for so many months.
Next up: Left For Dead by Pete Nelson, about the USS Indianapolis and a young student who wanted to clear the ship captain’s name. This is yet another book purchase that I actually acquired from the library’s used book sale.
I told you I can’t leave a book store, or a library apparently, without purchasing a book!
As a Kindergarten teacher, my job and my students’ interests really made me aware of gender roles, biases, and stereotypes that children are blatantly and inadvertently exposed to from the minute they are born. I had boy scholars who liked pink and dressing up in a Dorothy/ Wizard of Oz dress in the house corner. And girl scholars who liked building with blocks and zooming cars in the car center.
We all fall victim to the pink/blue stereotype at one point or another in our lives. When we hear of an expectant mother, we get all giddy and bubbly, rushing out to buy pink clothes for girls, blue ones for boys. We decorate our kids’ rooms in sex-delineated colors or other gender conforming details like flowers or race cars or Disney princesses. It’s a big marketing scheme by Babies R Us and every other American family friendly company, because babies are naturally cuddly and lovely. Why wouldn’t we want all pastels and police cars to subliminally point out the ‘correct’ way to be a girtl or a boy, while our children are sleeping, living, and growing up in that bedroom? But the question I pose is: why do we?
When I became pregnant, I purposely found out we were having a girl for several reasons. One, I really wanted to know right away. Two, we had a large extended family on both sides, and I just thought it would be easier for people to know what sex to buy for when making purchases. And three: it made it easier to decorate her bedroom. Which, by the way, we painted YELLOW… and did a farm theme. Not very girly, I know.
I am not a fancy Crate and Barrel “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” type of Mom. I’m more like a “pink and blue is for everyone” type of Mom. I’m the mom who tried early on to expose my daughter to all kinds of great things for both “boys” and “girls”. I didn’t want my daughter to be pegged as a “girl”, but rather as a person who accepts and enjoys all things, regardless if our society labels things for “boys” or “girls”. As far as I can see, it’s working. And I’m proud of that fact.
I sang Carole King and patriotic songs to my daughter as a baby. Her first book that she ever really loved on her own before she was even a year old was a Blues Clues book. She still loves the color blue to this day. We read books and sand songs every day. Stories like Big Blue Truck, Goodnight Moon, Peter Rabbit, and George and Martha were commonplace and enjoyed multiple times. As she got older, she loved the Greek Myths, and more recently, she enjoys Nancy Drew, Heidi Hecklebeck, and Judy Moody, and this summer, we are reading Harry Potter together.
As a toddler, she played with dinosaurs (given to us by her aunt who raised two boys) and blocks as well as baby dolls and all of their accessories. She still has a bazillion stuffed animals that she sleeps with at night, including her Layla and her taggy blanket , which she received in the early months of her life.
When she was in preschool, a co-worker of mine was getting rid of an old McDonald’s play stand, complete with an apron, a pretend headset, and food. She LOVED to dress up and take our orders, writing things down and fixing the trays of food. She played that game for years, and especially when family members came over! It was a joy to see her take control and transform into Diana or Melissa. Her best friend at the time was a boy, and yet, she still enjoyed painting at the easel and dressing up in the house corner at school, which we typically think as “girl” activities. And her favorite television show at the time? Caillou, the one about the whiney bald boy who had to learn life lessons like sharing and being kind to friends. Yep. We sat through hours of that annoying show.
My husband would teach her “boy” things, like soccer and football. When she turned 8, we got her a basketball hoop that we put together after 4 hours of frustration. Her favorite outfits continue to be yoga pants and sneakers with a little sweat jacket for the winter and lined sport shorts and tank tops for the summer. She does like to get dolled up and have her nails done for special occasions or holidays, but she often sides with comfort instead of “looking pretty” for every day activities. I try to encourage wearing leggings and a cute skirt to school, or make requests to do her hair, longing for the days when she was younger and I could put her in cute little dresses and a hair clip, making her curls cascade on either side of her face. She refuses to be prettied up by me, adamant that a quick pony tail with not all the hair neatly combed in place is just fine. She is independent and confident in herself that she doesn’t need to showcase herself as ‘pretty’ every day to be happy. A clear defiant message both to me and the media, who finger point the way for women and girls to dress and make them selves up to look like Barbie dolls and not be comfortable in their own skin.
Her best friends are now girls, but even within the circle of her friends, she’s exposed to both ‘”boy” and “girl” themes. She takes dance and piano, but she also decided to play the saxophone at school this year, and she is the only girl in her grade level to do so. While many of her friends and even cousins were exposed to Star Wars years ago, she now LOVES it, and we are in the middle of planning an intergalactic 10th birthday party for her. It took a long time for my husband to convince her to watch it, since her favorite shows were and continue to be My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, which are definitely geared towards a more feminine audience. To me, Star Wars seems like such a “boy” story, and yet, it has such universal themes for everyone. My own viewpoint about this classic story just shows how my own stereotypes have shaped my thinking, even though I try not to be stereotypical in what I expose my daughter to. And I am glad that both my husband and I are giving her the best of both sexes in her development.
When we paint the stark canvas of “boy” and “girl” in front of our children to study and model from, they develop a very static mindset that closes them off to avenues of learning and enjoyment. One of her cousins was asking me the other day about birthday gift ideas my daughter. I told her Barbie furniture for the doll house she created out of a bookshelf in her room and Pokémon cards. “Wow! Such a variety!” she texted.
Yes, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How do you teach your children to be a part of both sexes?