solstice celebrated, garlic planted!

Kia Ora lovelies,
How wonderful to have tipped over into shortening nights and lengthening days.  It still may be flipping freezing, but I’m grateful for the reminder that all is impermanent.

First link of the day: “Your Undivided Attention” … it’s an excellent new podcast from the Center for Humane Tech.  It has me all a-flutter thinking about design solutions to support us mere humans in undoing the manipulation of our poor li’l vulnerable minds as we attempt to take control of our device use.

Which we’d better get serious about: lifetime users are changing their skeletons.  Horn-like growths on our spines?  Yeah, all this tech is not a benign habit. Especially for kids.  Oh, and  here’s what the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute reckon … Meanwhile, closer to (my!) home, I was privileged to see a powerful talk about digital addiction by a wise professor at the UC Child Wellbeing Symposium a couple of weeks back.  Koia kei a koe!

Just quietly, I’d  have liked other speakers to have considered the concepts of this essay … now, I’m a fool for some neuroscience, but let’s never forget that we are more than our brains… we are also sensory beings, feeling creatures: with bodies and bellies and reciprocal relationships.

ANYWAY … More locals doing important work can be found HERE, at the website of the Sensible Screen Use group… they are all about shaking up the new normal that exists in so many classrooms in NZ.  I wonder if they’ve read Screen Schooled?  Other useful thoughts about shaking up the norm in classrooms can be found here, in this write up of the work of a neurologist turned classroom teacher.  

Here is a lil’ something about the myth of the perfect mother (something I’ve written about elsewhere …) and this is from Rick Hansen (LOVE!), it’s about taking care of dads.

This is an interesting finding about the link between adverse childhood experiences and the onset of puberty, and I end with a glorious bit of counsel about having conversations about positive parenting, it’s from the most excellent Canadian Paediatric Society.  Merci!

a little light reading

Photo on 28-05-19 at 1.08 PMKia Ora e hoa ma,

This picture shows me holding a few of the books I’m kinda simultaneously reading.  How’s the attentional bandwith, you may ask?  Yeah, well you oughta see my piles of papers … and the electronic files all over my desktop (the ones awaiting printing!).  Does your brain ever feel itchy with the awareness of it all?  At least I have the blessed luxury of this website as a place to clean up the jumble of my tabs!  Let’s do that now, eh?

First, a comprehensive report from our cousins across the Tasman, about the first 1000 days and the opportunities for investment, support.  Brought to my attention by the good peeps at ARACY: the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.  Kia Ora!

Next, a few links about early childhood education.  This is a report emphasising the importance of ECE from a financial perspective, here are a few goodies from the awesome Evolutionary Parenting website (ECE as allocare … when it’s done well, I say “hell, yeah!”), and here is a piece about play based learning in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Now … this is a small but important piece about the problems with using food as a play material in ECE settings.  I’ve had this debate – I distinctly remember a training in San Diego, CA, in about 1999, where I explained that kiwi early childhood teachers hadn’t been using food in play since I could remember.  And friends, I trained in the early 90′s, not yesterday.  BUT… full disclosure: I have never been able to reconcile my effortless acceptance of removing rice/pasta etc from collage areas AND my deep, abiding love of play dough.  I am a work in progress.   Speaking of food: random link here from Harvard Medical School: new findings in praise of broccoli.  Yum!

Now, some links about play … here is an article from the New York Times about the adventure playgrounds that seem to be coming back into vogue (right on!) … reminds me of the one I long to visit in Tokyo, featured in the book Savage Park (which I devoured).  Whilst on the topic of adventurous play, the NY Times article references some research done here in NZ, and you can read about it HERE.

Oh, while we are thinking about international research … this piece from the awesome Conversation website is about talking to babies all over the world, and included the shocking stat that 95% of the world’s developmental science research is done on only 5% of the world’s populations.  Holy ding dong!

Now, from Psychology Today … it’s about letting toddlers help.  While we are talking about toddlers, I humbly share a piece I wrote a few years back for my pals at OHbaby! mag.  I adore toddlers and will defend them, always.

Hey … I talked about the Evolutionary Parenting website back there?  Here is a link so you can listen to her founder, Tracy Cassels, interviewed by Australian breastfeeding advocate, Pinky McKay.  I seriously rate Pinky, I just wish she didn’t encourage mums to include their phones and tv remotes in their breastfeeding support package, alongside their water bottles and (awesomely named) boobie bikkies. What’s my beef?  I insist that we must all Beware the still face of parental phone use! 

For now, I am going to hurl a slew of tech related links at you, then do some non-computer stuff my damn self!  My shoulders insist!  

Right ho, so this is a piece I wrote for the fine folk at Tots to Teens, here is a piece from the Guardian about how people’s lives have changed since they got phones for their kids (the good, the bad …) and here are a bunch of links to reports from the 5rights peeps in the UK.  I was wowed by their “Disrupted Childhood” report, about persuasive tech.  And now (irony!) I want to stay online and read all the others!

THIS is a good read, from Forbes, about the push toward ‘personalized learning’ (ie, tech in classrooms) and here is something about tech in the home from a dad’s point of view, from the San Francisco Chronicle . While we’re thinking of dads, here are some interesting findings about paternity leave in Spain.

What else?  A cry for more time being barefoot, some interesting findings from Australia about elitism, sexism, and the size of your school’s sport’s fields, and just because it’s been ages since I linked to the Talaris Institute and they’re awesome … check out these language links.  Speaking of language(!!), with thanks to the Distinguished Professor who shared this blog (Discussion is the Food of Chiefs), enjoy.

Getting harder to type now, cos my fingers are crossed … why?  Because I’m sincerely hoping the Wellbeing Budget will bear awesome fruit.  Now gird your loins as you read this li’l something from the Spinoff about the problems with Plunket’s founder.  Now, I adore Plunket as a supporter of families in NZ, but I don’t think it hurts to acknowledge that historical figures are flawed, and for contemporary biographies to describe more than one side of a person.

I don’t wish to end this post on such a downer note, so instead, here is an inspiring snack (I’m obsessed with that stuff!), an item I covet shamelessly, and finally …  a lovely guided meditation.

Blessed be the geeks!

screen free week aftermath

Kia Ora lovelies,

I would have begun this post sharing the tales of joy that emerged from our week offscreen & offline (ie, LIVING LIFE!) but instead I must grouse about having spent the entire morning troubleshooting the problems with my referencing software.  Little Girl only has a half day of school today (therefore I can only count on a half day of productivity today!) and I have done NONE of the work I intended doing.  And she’ll be here in less than an hour!

SO FRUSTRATED.  But trying hard not to stress out.  Breathing in, out, in out.

The disconcerting bit is how the problem appears to be resolved, but I am not confident that any of my fixes worked the magic.  It seemed to inexplicably right itself, just as I commenced crying/yelling!

I cannot help but think that the screens are retaliating to my joyful rejection of them during Screen Free Week?  No, not possible!  Does AI exist in word processing/referencing software?  Surely not!  And if so, did the sight of my sobbing form elicit some kind of compassionate reaction?  I don’t know what to think!!

Anyway, friends, let’s share some links.

Here is a little something about how too many structured events can limit kids’ executive functioning.  Let ‘em play!

This is a link to join a free online summit about mindfulness & compassion at work, and this is another online conference, about parenting a spirited/high needs child, and featuring the magnificent Dan Siegel.  Things we love about tech … right there.

The Center for Humane Tech has released some important info, this week, about the shared definition of “human downgrading“.  Love.  Not a moment too soon, my friends, as there are definitely downsides to our love affair with devices, and the hardware designers don’t seem to really want to support our paths to healing.  SHAME on you, Apple!

At least there’s Moment.  

Also, speaking of healing, I LOVE this approach from British doctors, prescribing real life stuff that’s good for the soul (I know I love my dance class and need it like medicine!).  Thanks, Smithsonian Mag, for sharing.  Unrelated goodness: using humour to share an important message about world overpopulation … endangered species condoms.

Here is an important article from “the conversation” about the loss of personalised school cleaning services, and the losses for children.  I’ve witnessed this outsourcing and I say “Boo!” (as in: thumbs down, not trying to be scary!)

To close: I humbly share something I wrote a while back, and may I urge you anew to eat your greens.

Happy Screen Free Week, y’all

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 1.03.54 PM Here are Little Girl and I promoting Screen Free Week 2019 in our local paper.  The Week’s begun here in NZ, so I’ll make this snappy and save the multitude of awesome new links till next time!  Enjoy your week offline, I know I will.  Arohanui x x

alrighty, then … back to work

This geek has had a crazy end to summer & beginning of Autumn.  A series of blessed distractions and beautiful messes.  International family … travellers enriching my life (and borrowing my office space …) so I’ve been busy with tour guiding, housekeeping, translating.

In so doing, I’ve had the great privilege of visiting corners of our lovely island that I had never seen before … like Fiordland, and Lee’s Valley … and many other spots I know and love, like Castle Hill (which is sooooo much busier these days!).

So the joy has been forthcoming, and the gratitude for the miraculous accident of being kiwi born.  Hard on the heels of all that joy, however, sits anxiety (“I need to hit my desk!”) and her cousin, guilt (“I should be doing some reading/note taking!”).

For now, I will clear off the tabs on my computer (OH! the things I long to share!) and I’ll ease back into the river … I’ve got 8 weeks to pull together a major bit of work, and then another 8 to pull together a couple more biggies.  I’ll aim to avoid the riverbanks of Chaos and Rigidity, and strive to float down the middle, in the Wellbeing flow, where all is Integrated.

I’ll remind myself that I am capable, and that I do actually enjoy this sorta shizz.  I’ll also remind my ol’ lady self (just had another birthday, watch me go!) that I AM THE BOSS OF ME … if this work gets the better of me, I have options!  I’m not in prison!  And if, periodically,  it feels like I am … I will remind it’s a prison of my own making!

And I’ll be grateful to share some links with some geeks … first up, I LOVE THIS.  It’s from a site called Ethical Research Involving Children, and it highlights a small but massively powerful change in seeking permission … check out this quote:

What is the change? Here is a typical statement in parental consent forms for children of all ages:

“As parent or legal guardian, I authorize (child’s name) to become a participant in the research study described in this form.”

Of course many variations of this wording exist, but the bottom line is that parents are asked to consent for their child to participate in research.

Try and use this instead:

“As parent or legal guardian, I give permission to the research team to approach my child (name of the child) and ask if he/she wishes to participate in your project.”

Right on!  A parent provides consent for a researcher to INVITE a child to participate.  That is an important distinction.

What else?  Here is an amazing article from the deep thinkers at Renegade Inc., this is about education and it is worth a read.  More on education, now …  Did I share this yet?  It’s an episode of the On Being podcast, in which neuroscientist Richard Davidson talks about the need to include kindness and practical love in classroom curricula.  Speaking of classrooms, watch out that the youngest kids aren’t disproportionately being labeled as pathologically flawed just cos they’re young (so said research from the University College London),  here’s something new to worry about (Wifi and cancer … oh dear) and here is a piece from the New York Times about the digital divide and how it’s not what we expected: these days, affluent parents are keeping kids off screens.  Meanwhile, this article, also from NY Times, takes the idea further … Human Contact is Now a Luxury Good).

What’s that?  We social mammals need social connection?  Ya don’t say!!

A wee bit more tech stuff, this is about how difficult it can be to think straight with the many interruptions of a phone (BTW how do I make my laptop stop telling me when my phone receives an imessage?  I don’t want to know!!) and here the good folk at the School of Life tell us how to live more wisely around our tech.  Listen, if those of us who are fully grown are struggling with all this, we owe it to the small people to help them stay offline, and sane.  As it is, the internet knows you better than your spouse does (so said Scientific American!), instagram makes you miserable, and we are all fighting the tide of Persuasive Design!!

(oooh, in unrelated news … I heard a great quote by Maria Popova about hope, cynicism and critical thinking … don’t you just love Brain Pickings?  Check it all out, my friends!)

Home stretch now … This article from the Guardian implores American moms (but they might mean us non-American mums, too?) to stop feeling guilty and start getting mad … and it’s true … there is plenty to be mad about!  I”m mad that so much misinformation about child development persists and I’m mad that so many people still casually disrespect children and it even makes me a bit mad that our opportunities in life are still heavily dependent upon where you are born.  (Me: born in NZ in the 1970′s = BLESSED!! )

How to avoid stagnating in that mad place?  Well, I look for things that crack me up, I look for ways to feel peaceful and move joyfully.  I take action, I donate money (when I can) and I look after my gut!  

Next time, my friends, we gotta get serious about planning for Screen Free Week, which starts at the end of this month.  Till then, take care.

Arohanui, x xx

many links to … enjoy?

As is oft the case, my geeky brothers & sisters, a great many of the things I’m about to share with you might not exactly be *enjoyable*.  But mate, they are important nonetheless.

So while the clock’s tickin’ and time’s a-wasting, I’ll just commence the link dump, shall I?

First, a really useful piece about being trauma informed  in the classroom, and while we’re in the classroom, here is a lovely li’l something about the role of self-compassion in academic performance.  Important, because look how harrowing grad school can be.

A few more screen-y links: here is something about the risks of choosing electronic socialisation over the kanohi ki te kanohi, face to face type, and the Guardian reminds parents not to let children take screens into bedrooms.

Here are a couple of research articles to seek out: this one carves a line between screen time and developmental screening scores, (which is problematic: check out THIS  from the Independent pointing to how much more time the littles are spending on screens than they did even 15 or so years ago) … and this work points out how screen use during daily routines is contributing to social-emotional delays.  As a counter, you might LEAN IN to the routines, thusly.  

Reasons to resist, continued!  In this interview,  Chamath Palihapitiya (a former Facebook exec) says:

 ”I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. You are being programmed”

 

Other stuff now … HERE you will find an article about the ways that early development (specifically behaviour) points to earning power in adulthood, this is a piece from Psychology Today about the spotlight effect (how I love a research project that involves Barry Manilow!) and here is some goodness from Rick Hansen about taking in the good.

Speaking of good, check out this project that keeps people bicycling at all ages, here are five ways to nurture compassion in kids, and this is a slew of treats for the simplifier in your life.  This is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen – haiku meet the Supreme Court of the US… and a final bit of inspiring reading is to be found here, and it is about self-definition.  Yeah!

have yourself a geeky little Christmas

mama body issue coverKia Ora koutou, hello everybody!It has been a challenge to get to the computer, but I did it … even if just for a moment!  To the left is a quote I’m rather proud of – I have an article in the most recent issue of OHbaby! mag, about mother’s bodies and the need to care for ourselves.

My usual annual ban on wintery Christmas songs (White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, etc) is temporarily abated – it almost feels like winter, because the conditions in my kiwi summertime are so spazzy (hail, rain, chilly temperatures).  So what the heck, right?  I could try being, as my Big Girl would say, “all chill”.  Not my natural state!

Quick link dump for my friends, then I’m off to help Little Girl clean her bedroom – how could a person add gifts to chaos in good conscience?

Speaking of gifts, may we begin with this from the LA Times, it’s the advice of pediatricians this Christmas.  Just say NO to electronic toys!

Other useful gift ideas: I have made another donation to RAICES, which is an organisation in Texas that gives legal representation to children who have been separated from their parents at the border.  Seeking asylum is not a crime!   If you can watch that video without crying you’re exempt from donation, I guess (but you may find coal in your stocking on Tuesday).

I supplemented that donation with the purchase of ITMFA gear for those I love.  These small acts of resistance make it easier for me to spread kindness and joy, which I will continue to try doing, because the positive vibrations will have genuine impact!

May your festive season be full of family and love and mess and tasty treats.  May you play board games, go for slow waddles around the block, and have the opportunity for a nap … but please exercise caution if your nap strategy involves plying children with screens.  It is probably oK just that once, but unconscious screen use is a poor long-term solution, especially if the kidlets are super young.  And don’t trust the buggers  telling you it’s all chill!  Even schools have been seduced.   Exercise caution, friends.  Use critical thinking.  Even some cynicism might be useful here.

But before we slide into Grinch-y cynics all the time, here are some lush treats to close.  This is Fred Rogers’ Emmy acceptance speech from 1997 (LOVE HIM), here is a link to the Greater Good Science Center  at UC Berkley, and this is a TED talk from Ilona Stengel about the role of emotion in science (big emotions here: I’m still tearing up from rewatching the Mr Rogers bit!).

Enjoy this rare and magnificent treat: Terry Crews channels Bob Ross for a restful gift, and I cannot get enough of the Inspirobot …

Speaking of awesome advocates and wise folk no longer with us, I await the film about the late, great Celia Lashlie with bated breath and I send extra greetings to her whānau at this poignant time of the year.

Finally: if you are involved in early education in New Zealand in any capacity, please take some time this summer to have a jolly good look at the info about the ECE strategic plan, and make your voice heard!  

Arohanui, y’all x x x x

 

it’s fledgling season

E reads Earlybirdwhen I’m at my sink or at my desk I have views to different bits of lawn.  I can hear (I always hear them first cos they are LOUD) and see fledgling birds following their mothers around, and yelling for food.

It’s all I can do to not run out and give the fledglings a lecture.  They could find a sweeter tone when they call out, surely.  And then I’ll turn to the mother starling and insist she set some clear limits and encourage fledgling to develop the set of skills that will enable him to fend for himself, some day.

So I’ve been thinking about big ol’ fledglings, almost the same size as the parent but so clearly in need of their parents protection.  And then LO! and behold I went to a delicious and delightful book launch last night, for a lovely book called EARLYBIRD, by Julie Burgess-Manning with illustrations by Jenny Cooper. You can order your copy HERE.

Anyway, it is a beautiful picture book for children and families about a Pukeko family whose new egg hatches too soon, the care that egg must receive and the ways that the li’l Pukeko can (and does) flourish.  It will be such a gift for families to support understanding and hope during a really tricky time of life.  More and more babies are born prematurely, so lots of families could use a bit of extra support and let’s just say access to such support is patchy.  This book will help.   All hail, Champion Centre!

Other things that have been happening include a busy week of presenting and a final date for university work, and I foolishly had an expectation of kicking back thereafter.  Instead it’s catching up on appointments, tending to spring time garden, commitments with the kids, family stuff.  Which is all a blessing, to be sure, but sometimes I long to switch lives with my 11 year old nephew.  Muck around with a ball, eat, make fart jokes, do the occasional chore, eat, read, and sleep.  Oh, and hang out with your mates.

Sounds AMAZING.  That pretty much sounds like my dream holiday.  Throw in a lounger, some yoga, and cocktail hour, and I am on vay-cay!

But I’m the Auntie, not the nephew, so I’d better make the most of it.

Nerding out is one way I do that, so please do join me in a quick link dump before I go make dins for my peeps.

Alright: first up … I saw another awesome webinar from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, this one features Nancy Carlsson Paige and her content is so good … well, all of them have been good.  Check out the archives HERE.   Annnnnnnnd, that webinar also served as an announcement for the release of this piece of goodness, it’s Dr Carlsson Paige’s Parent’s Guide to Young Children in the Digital Age: it is both free and wonderful.

Hey: I learned about this event “Roaring on Aotearoa” .. TOO LATE!  I have not read this book  or heard of this movement but it looks like my cup of tea, 100%.  Fingers crossed Santa could get that book for me.  Did any of y’all get to go?  Was it awesome?  I did manage to get tickets for this, though … turns out I’m a sucker for slapstick British comedy.  Blame my upbringing – big brothers = the Young Ones, etc.

Meanwhile, I thought this local bit about young leaders was both depressing and inspiring, and MATE our young people could use some back up, too … I ain’t lying about the need for caution around the tech and education for folks about the ways we’re being manipulated … in the meantime, we could all use the tech to look up loveliness like this recipe for simpler holidays from New Dream, then jot our favourite ideas onto a bit of paper and power down.   Just for a couple of hours.  GO ON.

 

 

geeky links, pretty links

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

Many links to share, today, and school bus soon to arrive.  So let’s GO …

First up, Scientific American wonders if it is possible to quantify awe.  Well, is it?  If so, you might give this site “a lazy girl goes green” a passing grade for awesomeness.

This is an abstract to a piece of research dealing with the fine line between advertising and content in apps designed for children, and here you will find a write up of that research by the Washington Post.

This is a toolkit for educator and student privacy from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network (specifically their “Badass Teacher” subset) and speaking of teachers, this is a piece about how many of them are observing poor fine motor skills  in school starters.  Perhaps they ought to become craftivists? 

Here is a piece about early childhood education here in NZ, written by a visiting ECE teacher from the US, and (poor segue, but hey!) speaking of early, this is an article about the toll that early exposure to cortisol takes on our thinking abilities, and here is one of my fave dudes Dr Bruce Perry talking about such things on the telly.  Speaking of trauma, this is an article about the ways that such things interfere with formal learning.

You have GOT to read these two articles about the tech execs in Silicon Valley who are now becoming parents themselves … guess what decisions they make for their own kids?  (“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones”).  And read the second article from the NY times HERE.

A couple of nerdy links for the students among us (whoop!  whoop!) this one is about statistical procedures  and p-values (still learnin’) and this is a glorious method for organising notes, from the awesome (quantifiably so!) Thesis Whisperer website.

This is a link to the work of an artist named Ulla-Stina Wikander which I think is just bloody gorgeous, here is a pretty website about house plants, and this is an item I covet.

work and play

oh, self discipline.  I love how you’re getting me to stay at my desk and burn through my work, but it saddens me how this leaves us less time for joyful exercise!  And when we are getting our workout groove on, the desk work feels utterly protracted!  What to do?

Questions for the ages.

Here are some links for my pals …first … a link sourced from today’s webinar by the Children’s Screen Time Action Network (thanks, friends!) … please read this from the Atlantic … an article about distracted parenting.  This is what my research is about, and it is reeeeeeeally real.   We watched a short version of this documentary, and I defo want more.  The session also reminded me of this excellent article by Richard Freed, which we’ve linked to before but WHAT THE HECK, here it is again.   Digital detox, you say?  Here is a how-to.

Now, here is a link to the site of a group called Defending the Early Years (sheesh, someone’s got to …) and OH here is another article from the Atlantic, this one about whether we should trust Alexa  (which I think of as beginner AI … so the answer to the trust question is: of course not!).  Even so-called safe education based platforms wind up exposing inappropriate stuff  to kids

If you are not already subscribed to the excellent Evolutionary Parenting newsletter, check out some of their juicy goodness here and this is a chirpy little article about sexism in childcare (what comes first?  The undervaluing of children, the mostly female workforce, or the low wages and status?)

If you’ve the strength, read this article from Scientific American, it’s about downplaying competition and upholding growth mindsets in education, and finally, here is an article I wrote a few years back for OHbaby!  It’s humbling, because I have taken on more extra-curriculars than I had on my plate even then, so I reckon I am super un-fun-mum most of the times these days.  Join me in a deep sigh, will ya?