Image of QueeniePicture this scene: you’ve cooked dinner, and you’ve poured your love into it. You make the announcement that it’s time to eat, yet no one arrives to the dinner table eager to taste this scrumptious meal that you have just whipped up. So you try again, this time you yell out, “Dinner is ready!” Again, your child doesn’t come dashing in to eat. You walk down the hall to see what is holding your child’s attention, only to find that it’s those good ol’ fashioned blocks, entertaining your child in a way that words “dinner’s ready”  couldn’t. You appeal by saying, “Come on! You can finish building later.”

Oh boy! Did you push a button! Suddenly, you hear a fire alarm, and it’s your child’s temper. Its loud ringing has gone from, “Hold on mom!” to tears and resistance, all in a matter of 2.5 seconds.

So what do you do when this happens? That’s where the book Anh’s Anger comes in. It’s a magical story that teaches kids how to work through anger by using breathing techniques and mindfulness. But locked within this story is a hidden trick that we at Tandem Teaching use all the time in our classrooms when kids are experiencing anger. We allow children to play, and be creative when they are angry. This soothes them, redirects their energy and attention, and helps them to center themselves.

Play allows  oxygen to flow through our bodies, opens up our heart, and allows us to move into our “Decision Making Center.”

Without revealing the climax of the book, Gail Silver reminds us that “Children experience anger on a regular basis, but lack the coping skills to guide them through these difficult moments.” “This book shows children and parents how practicing mindful breathing can help us soothe and gently transform our strong emotions.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

Remember that play and creativity are the keys to centering ourselves when anger arises. 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 3, 2010

It took about a month to walk across Spain. Five hundred miles. It was the last month of my year there and I decided to spend it doing a pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago.

On the first day Patrick and I met, we discovered at the end of the day that he had done it the year before me! Our bond was immediately formed.

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. I want that to happen here.

I’ve been wanting for us to write about our “weekly ride” for awhile now, to try to recreate that magic in this new community we’ve started. Queenie really motivated me this week, so here goes. . .

The Uphill Climbs (The Challenges)

  • Uphill Climb With a Child I’ve been having a tough time time working with a client. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced something like this, so it’s really confusing. I’m going to brainstorm with Queenie and Patrick this weekend, and we are forming a stronger connection, but I don’t like feeling like I don’t know what to do. It’s rare and really uncomfortable for me.
  • Personal Uphill Climb Someone who I love deeply is very sick. It’s a chronic illness, but it’s always really painful when it flares up. So, I’ve been feeling pretty sad about it.
  • Physical Uphill Climb I’ve been feeling sick. I spent the day in bed yesterday. Boo.

Coasting Downhill (The Celebrations)

  • Coasting With Friends I’ve been getting so much love and support from all of the people in my life. A really special thing that happened was my friend Beckam changed my screen saver to show Baby Daniel, in front of his cake at his first birthday. He looks so happy, and it makes me so happy every time I open my computer and see his smiling face.
  • Coasting in the Best City I can’t believe I was still in Portland at this time last week! I got so much accomplished, met such amazing people, and came back with so many strategies that are really going to help the kids I work with.
  • Coasting at the Playground Havi taught me how to make Shiva Nata feel like play. I love it so much, and am so happy that I got to see her do it in person, because I understand it so much more deeply now.
  • Coasting with Family My friend Jim (who’s part of the family at this point) plucked us up from the airport and we went to our parents for a really nice dinner. It was so good to see them, especially since we missed spending Thanksgiving with them. It was really fun to tell them about our trip, and our stay at the amazing  Kennedy School. Dad was pretty hilarious, Mom was a delight, and Daisy (our much-loved family dog) looked chunky because she’d been up to no-good. (She ate three loaves of bread that mom had drying out to make the stuffing.) It had happened a few days before, but her belly was still much rounder than usual.
  • Coasting With Kids I taught kids how to do Shiva Nata! And it was fun for both of us! They pick it up so quickly.
  • Coasting With a Client One of my clients is making HUGE strides in reading. When I started working with him about three months ago, he was a resistant reader who was reading at a kindergarten level. He’s reading at a second grade level now, and he’s so enthusiastic. HUGELY exciting and inspiring to watch, and to know I was a part of his growth.
  • Coasting with a Coach Megan and I had an amazing consulting session with Kelly Parkinson last night. She helped us with marketing, copy, and positioning. We’ve been wanting to do it for a really long time, and it was better than we’d even hoped. She was funny, insiring, and just overflowing with great ideas.
  • Coasting Online I discovered Annie Fox, and amazing website that is overflowing with great resources for teachers and parents. I got lucky enough to hear her interview Katherine Ellison on an episode about ADD and ADHD. If you need more info on this topic, you will be so happy if you take the time to download this podcast.

That’s it for me.

Please join in and help me bring back the magic of evenings on the Camino.

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 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.

A kid who moves is a kid who learns. -Richard Simmons

Last week, Patrick and Melissa worked out with the fabulous Richard Simmons, at his originalSlimmons Studio. He’s amazing, and wonderful, and cares so deeply about the future of our kids. tackling the issue of childhood obesity and pushing for increased school exercise programs.

For today’s Wisdom, pick your medium.

We love him, and how dedicated he is to helping our children!

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.

Isn’t it strange that sometimes we avoid the things that are best for us?

I got a big lesson about that at my Thanksgiving celebration, which was far from traditional this year. Megs and I went on The Great Ducking Out Rally in Portland. It was fun. And so exciting. It was really nutty how it worked.

We would start the day doing Shiva Nata, and then we would break away to work on projects, break for lunch, work on projects more, and end the day with yoga.

It might not sound crazy fabulous, but get this, the Rally was at this place called The Playground. Which is such a coincidence (or maybe one of the reasons we were drawn to go?) because our new product is all about inventive play.

It explains how magical play is, how beneficial it is for growth and brain development, and how all of this can happen without spending money on the latest toy or gadget.

We even throw in some stuff about how important it is for adults. As you know, it’s been really hard these last couple of years to make room for that in my life because I’ve been working so much. At the day job, and then coaching and developing Tandem Teaching.

I always feel like I don’t have time for play, there’s just too much to do. But, get this, when I was at the Rally, play was built in (Havi’s yoga wasn’t like any yoga class you’ve been to before, unless you’ve been to one where silliness is encouraged and the room is filled with laughter).

And, guess what? When I took the time to play, I got so much done.

I developed three new workshops for Tandem Teaching! I figured out a way to get the word out about our business that’s enjoyable and easy for me! I redesigned how we’re going to do academic and parenting coaching! And Megan did some amazing, beautiful work on her new, (currently) top-secret project!

I believe, with all my heart,  we were able to do such amazing things because we were experiencing the transformative powers of play!

Queenie wrote the section “What is Play?” in our book. Here’s a couple of the ways she breaks it down in the book:

  • During play a person interacts with the environment in a three-dimensional fashion intermingling with fantasy, creativity, and reality in a way that improves the human condition.
  • Play is the ability to use your mind, body, and spirit in such a way as to create something out of nothing.
  • Through play, the answers to great problems emerge and inventions are birthed.

That’s exactly what happened for me and Megs this week. And so much more that I can’t even begin to write about. We have so many ideas simmering.

It’s funny how I see this exact same thing happen with kids all of the time when they’re given the chance to really play. Not with the expensive garbage that’s being hocked at them from every angle, especially this time of year, (did I mention one of my favorite parts of the rally was we didn’t have to deal with Black Friday?).

Amazing things happen when kids are given a chance to create and play authentically.

When you spend less, kids actually have more fun.

If this concept is new to you, sounds kind of crazy, and you’re not sure exactly how that works, you can find out more about it here.

I hope that you made some time to play this long weekend. If you didn’t, I this post inspires you to!

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.

You sent in your request.

Your kiddo’s been assessed.

You’ve done all that you can do, and now you’re sitting and waiting for the IEP meeting.

Most parents don’t know that there’s something else you can do before you walk into that meeting.

Did you know you can request the results from the assessments five days in advance?

That’s right. Five days. It is, without a doubt, one of the smartest things you can do.

Are you wondering how that will help? I’ll fill you in.

From the perspective of a teacher who’s gone to countless IEP meetings as a teacher, these meetings can be pretty overwhelming.

I don’t know what it’s like for you, as a parent. I haven’t walked in your shoes.

But from the many parents I’ve seen who look like deer caught in the headlights, I can only imagine how extremely difficult it is when you’re walking in unfamiliar territory, listening to strange acronyms being tossed around, feeling like your child’s future will be determined in 45 minutes.

I don’t want you to feel like a deer in the headlights.

I want you to walk in there feeling as comfortable and confident as possible.

When you get the results five days before the meeting, you’re giving yourself a chance to process the information. You’ll get a clear view of where your child’s at.

Once you know this, you can figure out where your child needs to go. Hire a consultant, or meet with a former teacher that you really trust to help you understand the results. Most importantly, you will give yourself time and space to come up with goals.

Getting these results early gives you a chance to plan. It’s like having a map on a road trip. Better yet, it’s like having that iPhone app that gives you directions and highlights the best routes based on current traffic conditions.

Only it’s about a million times more important.

I know that. You know that. So, get those results five days in advance. Meet with someone to help you fully understand the results before you walk into that meeting.

You’ll know you did everything you possibly could to make sure your child’s future is the best it can be.

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.

You worked on building a relationship with your kid’s teacher, and they’re still having problems at school. Maybe they’re behavioral, maybe academic, but it just feels off.

You’ve met with the teacher, maybe the principal, and they’re not giving you clear steps or a plan that they’re putting in place to help your kid.

You’re feeling frustrated, confused, and wondering what to do next.

Get them assessed as soon as possible is one of the smartest moves you can make.

When don’t get the help they need early on, it’s ten times harder for them to catch up later. Nip this thing in the bud, friend. And do it the right way, so you can get the ball rolling.

What most parents don’t know is that there’s a federal law that says if you request an IEP evaluation by the school, they must conduct it within 30 days.

By “doing it the right way,” I mean put it in writing.

I’ve seen it happen, way too many times, that a parent asks for an IEP in a meeting. I’ve watched months, even years go by before the kid was assessed. You see how much your kids struggles effect them on a daily basis.

What if they’re problem can be fixed, or greatly helped, if they were getting the help they needed by specialists?

You don’t have to feel helpless or confused.

You don’t even have to rack your brain for the perfect way to write the letter!

Just press this link, and copy and paste their sample letter onto your computer, tailor the info to fit your kid, and send it in (by official mail, so you have the receipt with the date!).

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.

Image of QueenieDay in and day out it was the same story. I just couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Sierra, couldn’t stand Nahzina. The dislike was so strong, Sierra would complain about Nahzina breathing. If Nahzina looked at Sierra, Sierra would say, “Ms. Queenie, she’s looking at me! Tell her to stop.”

I’d watch this go on for three weeks using strategies left and right to try and help this situation, to no avail. It persisted.

One day, in the middle of one of Sierra’s grumblings abut Nahzina, I realized that there was more to this story.

I looked Sierra in the face and asked, “Why don’t you like Nahzina?”

With tears in her eyes, she answered, “Because she is mean to me.”

Nahzina, interjected firmly, shouting, “No I’m not!”

“Sierra, give us more information.” I said. “I want to help you get through this, because it seems like you really want to tell Nahzina something.”

After about 2 minutes of probing, Sierra yelled out, “She takes my friends away from me when we are playing!”

A big feeling of relief came over me. Sierra needed empathy!

“Oh, you just want her to play with you and be a part of your game,” I said.  

With tears rolling down her eyes, she nodded her head implying yes. Nahzina, had no idea that Sierra wanted to play with her and be her friend.

A three  minute conflict resolution revealed that Sierra simply wanted to play with Nahzina.

When your child is in conflict with another child, it probably has something to do with their inability to play together and compromise with one another. Tuck this tip in your back pocket it will do wonders to resolve any issue when two kids are not getting along.

For more tips on play check out our new book All About Inventive Play.

Why Does My Kid Hate Math?

by Melissa on October 18, 2010

Isn’t it kind of nuts how you notice that the older you get, the more you feel like you’re turning into your mom? I don’t feel like we’re alike, but whenever we’re somewhere and someone new meets us, they’re always, like, “You guys could be twins!” It’s not because we look that much alike, it’s because of our intense facial expressions.

Maybe it’s because she’s worked with kids that have speech delays, and I work with English Learners. Whatever. You’ve gotta be super expressive with both audiences. Because sometimes they don’t know what a paper clip is called. So you’ve gotta be super animated. You know the drill. You experienced this when you were teaching your kid how to talk (or whenever you’ve been speaking to a beloved pet!).

But lately, I’ve noticed, you know how it happens, that my ma’s words are spilling out of my mouth. Like, without even thinking twice about it, and then I laugh out loud. Does this happen with you? Since I hit the big 3-0, it’s been happening more often, but when you throw me in with a room full of kids it’s heightened, times ten! Thank God my ma’s so good with kids, or it would be super creepy.

So, when this started happening, and I started noticing this pattern, I started to do an inventory with the parents of kids I work with. You know, asking them about their strengths, weaknesses, background. I think a ton of the stuff that forms our belief systems comes from our parents. I mean, it’s only because we question certain things, and study them, and decide to make a change that makes us actually change. Anyways, noticing this in my own life made me think about how it affects our kids. Lady, you are gonna flip when you hear the data I’ve found.

You talk to most people (and this turns up on the parent surveys!) and you’ll find that the most difficult subject and the hardest one they apply to their real life is Math. This doesn’t make any sense. It’s super weird. We’re using Math every day: How much do we tip? How do we split this pizza up equally (I know I’m not the only one that secretly feels guilty about doing that)? How much should I spend on groceries? How do I double this recipe without ruining it?

Do you think that so many people have blocks with Math because it’s not being taught the right way? Or talked about the right way?

My ma drove a mini-van with a stick shift, and all of the occupants were stressed out when we hit a red-light on the steep upgrade of Burbank Blvd. I’ve got an automatic, it’s been 17 years since I’ve ridden in that mini-van, and steep inclines still stress me out.

Watch this, lady, and let me know if you think that we can change how a lot of kids view Math, through conversation. Am looking for ideas. What are the best ways that we can make this subject exciting and accessible?

Wednesday Wisdom

by Melissa on October 13, 2010

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

-Albert Einstein


Illustration of PatrickOver the last two weeks, the suicides of four teens has pushed the issue of cyber-bullying to the front of our public mind. You can’t open a newspaper, watch the Today Show or log on to Cnn.com without facing the issue. Children all over this country are using technology to intimidate, threaten each other, or put themselves in danger.

It’s a new frontier of potential problems and parental challenges. Facebook, texting, Twitter, and even camera phones are creating a more modern form of communication and adolescents’ lives will never be the same.

These latest advances in technology are changing faster than a thoughtful parent can keep up – leaving you with a colossal problem. How do you start a conversation about sexting, cyber-bullying, and appropriate Facebook use without alienating your kid and without sweating through your t-shirt?

The first thing to remember is that all of these issues are constant conversations. You need to be talking about them on a continuous basis. When you talk with your child about sending inappropriate or hurtful things through their phones, It’s an ongoing dialogue.

It’s not something you mention once in the car on the way home and than check off you list. You’ve got to keep them talking.

Using Scenarios to Start the Conversation

An easy way to start the dialogue is to present your child with impersonal scenarios to cage their thinking. The scenarios are open-ended and have no right or wrong answer they require consideration and thought. Your job is to listen before you evaluate. Announce that you’ll be playing devil’s advocate if you disagree with them.

Here are a few scenarios t0 present with your child. We also included a few questions to keep the conversation going.

1 . A mother’s was concerned that her daughter was talking to someone online that might be dangerous. The mother decided to check the history on the daughter’s computer.

Were the mother’s actions justified? What could the mother do differently next time? What should young people know about using the internet responsibly?

2 . A bully has been harassing a group of friends at school. The group decides to create a facebook page that gossips and ridicules the bully. Within months the bully is so upset she drops out of school.

What do you think about the friends’ decision to create the facebook page? How do you think the bully and friends felt in the situation? Whose fault is it that the bully left school?

3 . A friend sent a private and embarrassing text to another friend. Later that week the two had a fight and one friend decided to send that text to everyone in the class.

How would you feel if this happened to you? Has this happened to anyone at your school? Do you think this could happen with your group of friends?

The time to talk about these issues isn’t when you’ve already read their text messages, or you’ve already heard about inappropriate emails. You’re too late. The ship has sailed.

You’ve got start talking about these issues together before these technologies create a problem.

Keep you eyes on current event around these issues and bring them up with your child. Find out what they think and inquire about what they believe. Dig deep and pick their brains.

It’ll let you know what they believe.

It will also give you a minute to share your thinking on the situation.

Want more tips on making the school year run smoothly? Get 45 information-packed minutes of Melissa, Queenie and Patrick giving their best tools and techniques for free. Click here to listen.