Wednesday Wisdom | Childlike Play

by Queenie on December 29, 2010

“The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to important fields for society. Such a school demands from the teacher that he be a kind of artist in his province.” ~Albert Einstein

Image of QueenieOn a typical morning during the week I usually try to have my kids take a morning snack and play break at about 10:30 am. I’ll admit there are days when I don’t get them out on time but its not my fault, partially its because we are tying up last minute loose ends from the math lesson or the read aloud chapter is getting so juicy we just cant put the book down. Even with all of this learning goodness- something happens in my classroom. Its sort of like watching a scene from I Robot-because the inner sense and need for play arises simultaneously and  in unison they all say Ms. Queenie “it’s play time, its play time.” They run outside and get busy playing. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see because for all kids play is a serious endeavor. Roles, rules and limits are developed sometimes they change mid game and are often forfeited to start a new game. Whatever the case kids are particular about building, playing and having time to move about together as one. The collective ideas that children come up with during play are beyond comprehension, honestly, everytime I watch children play I notice the human capacity to bring good to humanity.

So what does this have to do with a group of parents in Compton California?

Well, about sixty percent of the parents of students at McKinley Elementary School have joined forces,  just like my kids do when its time to play. These parents got smart, they were tired of sending their kids to a failing school and that’s when they, like many kids learned the rules of the game. What game you might ask? The game of schooling. They learned of the parent-trigger law, “which stipulates that a district must make radical changes at a school that has failed to meet progress benchmarks for four years when at least 51 percent of parents sign a petition for reform,” as noted by the Huffington  Post.  As a group you can demand one of four options of the school board: Charter conversion, Turnaround, Transformation or Bargaining power. Whatever way you feel about it, I think its pretty powerful anytime parents get together, learn the rules of the game and start pLaying attention to what’s happening in their child’s classroom and school.

We can learn alot from kids when they play: Team work, collective bargaining power, vested interest, rules & regulations, creative ideas, etc.

In the end Parents, Teachers & Administrators must work together for the common good of the kids! Each party plays a significant role in the development of a child. Just like kids who love to play, my question to you as a parent is are you playing attention to what’s happening in your child’s school?

Wondering what else we can learn from play? Visit our product page and order our E-Book, Inventive Play to get some more insights on the hidden benefits of play.

How Was Your Weekly Ride?

by Melissa on December 24, 2010

Patrick and I did a pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago. Walking was important, and amazing, and filled with wonder. But the special part wasn’t only the walking. Some magic happened at the end of the day.

As we rested and tended to our blisters in a new Albergue, we’d sit and laugh and share what happened along our journey that day. Sometimes it was wacky, sometimes sad. We’d talk about epiphanies we had when we were walking or riding, something we thought about, something we’ve felt. The sense of community we felt can’t really be put into words.

That’s why we started sharing our “weekly ride,” to try to recreate that magic in this new community we’ve started.

The Uphill Climbs (The Challenges)

  • Apartment hunting in Los Angeles can be a sickening experience. Megan and I saw a place that looked like it could be the setting for a horror movie, and another that smelled so bad I almost lost my lunch. Did I mention both places were going for $2,200? Sometimes this is a tough city!

Coasting Downhill (The Celebrations)

  • My ma helped me search for a new place in Santa Monica for Megan I to move into. With her guidance, I avoided taking a place with a murky aquarium filled with turtles in the lobby, and another place off Pacific Coast Highway. It was beautiful, but mom was suspicious. “It just seems like there’s gonna be a lot of leering men around. You know, surfers who’ve lived there for twenty years.” We found four places I love! Keep your fingers crossed that one of them will work out.
  • Patrick and I got to celebrate the new union with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson at lunch on Monday. It was so much fun to hear about how wonderful their wedding day was.
  • Phil tuned 31! And his wife threw him an amazing bash.
  • San Pedro celebrated Baby Daniel’s homecoming!

That’s it for me.

Please join in and help me bring back the magic of sharing experiences after a trek.

What were your Uphill Climbs?

What part of your week felt like you were coasting downhill with the wind blowing through your hair?

Join us!

Melissa Spiegelman  is the founder of Tandem Teaching, where she provides strategies and solutions for parents whose children  are experiencing classroom struggles, and an expert consultant to the  USC/LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools. Melissa also teaches art playgroups for toddlers.  Contact her for a private coaching session.

When your kiddo is little, there’s nothing that they won’t talk to you about. I’ve seen many parents blush when confronted with frank questions from their little peanuts. Fast-forward ten years, and you’ll see the very same parent with the same kid (now a teenager), and they miss it. The same kids that made them blush clam up when the parents bring up tough topics. There are so many difficult decisions awaiting our tweens and teens. We want to be able to talk to them, give them advice, help steer them in the right direction.

As you know, I’ve been listening up on podcasts that are out there for parents. (If you’re not familiar with podcasts, Dr. Thomas Lamar gives a great explanation  here.) Some are good, some not so good. At Tandem Teaching, our goal is to weed through the “not so good” so you don’t have to. We’ll occasionally be featuring different podcasts that are really valuable and amazing, and will be able to help you so much when you’re trying to understand your kid, or have a problem that you need help with. It’s great for parents that are busy, because you can listen to them on your own time, when you’re exercising, or (my personal favorite) when you’re dealing with the commute to work.

The Wednesday Wisdom this week is brought to you by Susie, who has came up with a brilliant way to handle the situation above. In the podcast “How to Grow Your Gleek,” she discusses the show Glee, and how she used it as an ice-breaker when discussing important social issues with her daughter. Susie does an excellent job of sharing her personal experience in a way that is helpful for any adult who wants to use this strategy to connect with their kids and broach tough topics. Glee gives so many chances to talk about difficult topics with your kids in a way that’s not uncomfortable. And it’s a really fun show to watch.

Email or comment to let me know if you need help with the glitches that come along with exploring the podcast world.

Or write after you’ve listened to share what you loved about the episode.

I’ll be sure to pass your thoughts along to Susie. Hearing how her free service impacts your family in a positive way is pretty powerful, and I’m looking forward to sharing your feedback with her.

Happy listening!

Melissa Lubaszka is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.

Three weeks off for winter break. Six words. If you ran into a teacher who  said the phrase, I’m sure there was a dreamy look in their eyes and a smile on their face. I’m sure your smiling kids bounded through the door on Friday, shouted these words at the top of their lungs, and raced for the TV, video games, or their toy box.  The client I met with today said those six words and a look of terror covered her face. Especially because it’s been raining in Los Angeles since Friday, and there’s no signs of it letting up. “What am I going to dooo with them?” she wailed.

Encourage them to use Inventive Play.

“What’s Inventive Play?” she asked me.

Oh, its when kids create something extraordinary, using only their imagination and the tools surrounding them.

In our book, we give you the background and lay out the theories and the scientific evidence that proves this kind of play is a pivotal practice to ensure your child’s happy and curious. But, it’s the holidays. You’re being pulled in a thousand different directions. You don’t have time to read a book. Today, I’ll be sharing some sites that will give you ideas on how to seamlessly blend the two together. You’ll be crossing things off your to-do list in a fun way that will strengthen the relationship you have with your child.

  1. Holiday Cards– Amber gives great ideas and examples that show kids how to think “outside the box” while creating.
  2. You can help your kids make holiday gifts by starting off with these other great ideas from Amber.
  3. Amanda Formero gives instructions on how to make a wreath by using old puzzle pieces. Check out her ideas, and show them to your kids.
  4. Jackie Boucher is a genius. Let your kid take  a look at her article on how to transform grocery bags into holiday gift bags. Your kids will read it and then put their own little spin on things. You’ll be amazed by what they come up with. It will save you some serious cash, and will add the sweetest touch to the gifts you give this year.
  5. Gratitude Garland – Amanda Blake started this ritual with her kids before break, but it’s not too late to start. Blake shares her experience:

“For this season, like every other season, there is so very much for us to be grateful for, and joys and special people to remind ourselves every day. The idea was to hang one newly family-chosen ‘gratitude’ on the garland each day. I was so pleased when the kids instantly loved this idea. Quickly on the first evening our ‘one’ family Gratitude turned into six individual gratitudes. While my original idea was lovely and all, I dare say, who would say ‘no’ to MORE gratitude? Exactly. I anticipate this garland will be mighty heavy by the end of this month.. Or maybe another will be made.”

The pictures on her site are so beautiful. It’s such a wonderful ritual to create.

With all of these activities, I want you to remember one thing.

The photos are just a spring board!


Have some creative brainstorming time with your kiddos after looking through the pictures, and guide them to use things laying around the house to make their own creations. If you need to. Most kids will be off and running.

This will hopefully give you some much needed time to relax, or to get to the million other things on your list now that you can scratch off wrapping paper and cards!

Melissa Spiegelman  is the founder of Tandem Teaching, where she provides strategies and solutions for parents whose children  are experiencing classroom struggles, and an expert consultant to the  USC/LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools. Melissa also teaches art playgroups for toddlers.  Contact her for a private coaching session.

How Was Your Weekly Ride?

by Patrick on December 17, 2010

Illustration of PatrickUphill Climbs

A Tough Cookie- I have a student whose behavior has been a challenge and no matter what strategies I use, I can’t make it work. Having a meeting tomorrow to solve the problem.

My Grandma- My Grandma had to move out of her house into a hospital care facilities. It’s hard being so far away and feeling like I can’t do anything.

Coasting Downhill

Home Sweet Home-Headed home for the Holidays to Omaha Nebraska. I’m excited to see my family.

Vacation- I’m off for winter vacation in only one day. By the time most of you read this I’ll be enjoying two long weeks of sleeping in.

Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education.  Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization.  We must make our choice; we cannot have both.  ~Abraham Flexner

Illustration of Patrick

Nielson recently took a survey on the most in demand gifts for kids in 2010. Apple products overwhelmingly dominated the “must have” toys this holiday season.The results?

  1. I-phone G4
  2. I pod touch
  3. 3-I pad.

The rest of the list included the Harry Potter Lego Video Game, Kinect for X-box, camera videophones, and Barbie Video Girl Doll.

Technology, technology, technology.

Long gone are the days of wooden toys and stuffed animals. Forget about the toy trains and a new baseball bat. If it doesn’t plug into the wall, they don’t want it.

Kids don’t even want ponies anymore. They would rather raise a virtual one on the x-box!

The “Case of the (Technological) Gimmies” brings me back to my childhood trips to the video store. I would beg and plead for PG-13 movies, even though I was too young. My mother refused, despite my tears.

She even ignored the overwhelming pressure from countless other parents, who let their kids watch Coneheads and the He-man movie.

My mother always told me, “You’ll have the rest of your life to watch those movie! Now is the only time you can enjoy these other movies like a kid.”

It’s not altogether different than the technological Christmas of today. Sure they want the latest Apple product. And, yep, a lot of other kids have them too.

But just like those PG-13 movies, this is the only time in your child’s life when they have the chance to just, well, be a kid. To live life without all of the technological devices, and the obnoxious technical ache.

It’s funny that our children spend so much of their time yearning for the cell phones, computers or latest game. These are the same devices adults struggle to be free from.

How many times have you come into the office, filled with anxiety because you know a mountain of emails will be in your inbox that you’re going to have to respond to? That you’ve dreaded checking your voice mail? That you’ve stressed over how to respond to a text message or email?

Think back to those rare opportunities when you couldn’t access your email because you were camping, or the relief you actually felt when you lost your phone. I know I’ve personally treasured those rare moments, and commented on how freeing it felt.

For adults technology and its advances are amazingly helpful, but are also often burdensome. How many times have you struggled to be free from them?

And yet kids as young as seven are zooming towards the heavy burden of the technological life, and the responsibilities that come along with it.

When you’re shopping for Christmas this year, remind yourself, “My child will have the rest of their life to play violent video games, return phone calls, reply to emails. They’ll have decades when they’ll have to agonize over what to type back in an email response, or how to reply to a text.”

They only get be a kid once.

Let them. Give them that gift.

My mom wasn’t that popular with me and my brother when she chose to shield us from the stress that comes along with entering that world too early. And that was fine. She knew that she was actually giving us the greatest gift of all: the chance to be a kid.

If you need more guidance on how to help your child through this difficult transition, check out our new Ebook on Inventive Play. We offer the theory of why play is important, and give you a 30-day starter kit to help your family deal with the transition. You’ll get affordable resources, step-by-step instructions, and the theory behind why avoiding the “Steve Job’s Trap” is crucial for your child’s brain development. And, if it doesn’t work (which we believe is HIGHLY unlikely) we offer a 100% money-back guarantee.

Does Steve?

How Was Your Weekly Ride?

by Queenie on December 10, 2010

I don’t know about you but this week  felt like a roller coaster ride for me. I went from working in my classroom, coaching in the evenings to meetings and other appointments. Whew!  I can’t believe how fast it went.Tell us about your ride this week. Here is how my week looked:

Uphill Climbs

Exhausted- I had so much to do this week I felt zapped trying to get it all done and not disappoint anyone. I’m really glad that this week is over.

Connecting with Friends- I had a really difficult time contacting Patrick, so that was really frustrating but he finally called me after weeks of being disconnected from me. I also went to the end of the year celebration at church and caught up with a lot of my friends.

Coasting Downhill

Report CardsI finished my report cards four days early. (Applause) It felt so good  to complete the progress reports before the due date. It’s not easy to capture the essence of a child in about 350 words but anytime I am doing progress reports my goal is to convey to the parents that I know and see their child in all of their greatness.

Creating a Mummy Business- One of my clients had an exciting homework assignment. She had to create a mummy business replete with business name, slogan and unique selling point. It was a nice break from inequalities and algebraic equations.

Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker- Yesterday I went with my entire school to UCLA Royce Hall to see the student production of The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. The dancing, customs and the idea of traveling around the world from my seat was amazing. One aspect of the show that made me smile was this little boy, I mean he had to be  about six years old but he was working his dance moves like a little Patrick (smile.) I thought that it was cool that his parents recognized his love and ability to dance at such a young age. I  could tell from the  way that he was dancing that he really loved it.  I also liked seeing all the schools from the city share the same cultural experience.

Debbie Allen Talks About The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

I grew up without cable. And the local TV shows I watched were pretty limited (According to mom, Bart Simpson was too disrespectful, and Doogie Howser too racy).

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I never really hopped on the pop-culture train. Which is pretty unusual for someone raised in LA.

When I visit my cousin and her husband, and read their US Weekly Magazines I’ll say things like, “Did you know Britney shaved her head?” or “Oh my gosh- Sarah Silverman and Kimmel broke up!”

They laugh and tell me that every time I come to visit  they feel like they’re in a time machine, as I rehash events that have taken place at least six months before.

The cycle has finally been broken. Thanks to my Uncle Jimmy, I’m actually on the forefront of new technology for the first time in my life, and I’m loving it. Jimmy, my Aunt Stef, and Todd Glass started Comedy and Everything Else, about two years ago. It’s a podcast that I adore. I’m fascinated by what they talk about, and I love how it helps me stay in touch with them, even when we don’t get the chance to hang out as much as we’d like to.

So, what’s a Podcast?

Since I’ve always been so behind the times, I thought it was something everyone was into. Not so. Thankfully, my friend Adam turned me onto the Podcast Answer Man. While listening to a recent episode, I learned that only 10% of the population knows what a podcast is. I’m finally part of the 10%! If you’re not in the know, one of his guests, Dr. Thomas Lamar gives a great explanation on what one is here.

How can this knowledge help me?

I’ve been listening up on podcasts that are out there for parents. Some are good, some not so good. At Tandem Teaching, our goal is to weed through the “not so good” so you don’t have to. We’ll occasionally be featuring different podcasts that are really valuable and amazing, and will be able to help you so much when you’re trying to understand your kiddo, or have a problem that you need help with. It’s great for parents that are busy, because you can listen to them on your own time, when you’re excercising or, (my personal favorite) when you’re dealing with the commute to work.

Where should I begin?

Why not start with the first one I fell in love with. It’s called Leading Edge Parenting. Sandi Schwartz interviews some amazing guests. Start with one of my favorites: A Mom’s Story. It is so lovely.

Sandi interviews Katrina Kenison, the author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Sandi has such an amazing talent for interviewing people. She puts them at ease and makes you feel like you’re having tea with old friends.

In this episode, Katrina discusses the power of focusing on your child’s lovable, wonderful qualities, and stresses how important it is to love them for who they truly are. She gives tips on how to create ordinary routines in your very busy schedule that create a deeper bond between you and your children. Her advice is easy to implement, and so very powerful.

Please email or comment to let me know if you need help with the glitches that come along with exploring this vast treasure trove of information.

Or write after you’ve listened to share what you loved about the episodes. I know you will.

And I’ll be sure to pass them along to Sandi and Katrina. Hearing how  their free service impacts your family in a positive way is pretty powerful for them, and I’m looking forward to sharing your feedback with them.

Happy listening!

Melissa Lubaszka is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.