Disclaimer time friends. One of my very favorite things about working inter-generationally with women doing social work was being able to observe how as people get older, the stronger they feel about their opinions and beliefs. It seems that once we’ve gone through our 20’s and find what makes us passionate, we spend our 30’s figuring out how our gifts and passions play into our daily lives and then as we age into our 40’s and beyond we kind of perfect our gifts and opinions in a way. You feel me?
Sandy came in last week with a message for us meant to encourage and invigorate the way we approach and perceive our children’s learning brains. I can guarantee she’d be devastated if all we came away from it with was frustration against the convictions and opinions she's developed regarding homeschooling and medication from her time and experiences on this earth. She very plainly stated her opinions without pushing us or trying to change anyone’s mind. In fact, she said “many of you are going to disagree with me and that is okay.” So if you’re still hung up on that and unable to focus on some of the other amazing things she taught. . . I don’t say this to hurt you, but I don’t think that’s on her. In the meantime, I would encourage you to dig into what unsettled you and talk to a friend about it. But to me - as a woman whose best friend home schools her four children and as a momma who desires to homeschool her own, all I saw was a woman standing up and sharing information meant to add tools to my Mama tool belt, not change my mind or beliefs. A friend reminded me just yesterday of Charlotte Gambill's words- "If you've been offended by the church... get over it." I love you, but thats kind of how I feel about this situation.
Can I just say how much I loved seeing photos and practical application messages posted on the Facebook after Sandy spoke? That’s what this is all about. Bottom line, we are going to hear things constantly through our lives that challenge our comfort but if we spend all our time focusing in on the things we disagreed with or are offended by, no one grows. In fact, the enemy LOVES if your entitlement and frustration block out the fact that someone with 60+ years of exposure to life and children and women and science stood up and imparted wisdom and encouragement but all you took away was that her opinion on homeschooling differed from yours. You dictate your mood and the fruit you bear in that way- it is entirely up to you whether you will dwell on something that rubbed you wrong rather than take any small piece that might contribute to your life, family, children or self. I saw mamas going home and trying new lunch options rather than saying “I don’t think she should’ve asserted her agenda in that way.” It was hot. So hot.
We rally around one another in the pursuit of sharing our passions, why would we not do this for her? It could be that her willingness to stand up and speak that morning was just the encouragement one woman needed in order to boldly confront a situation she’s been avoiding. We don’t know what God is doing just beneath the surface but what we do know is that He’s there, He’s moving and He calls us to choose the road that cultivates love. Lets love one another and cheer each other on. If you win, I win. That’s woman-wide.
End Rant. Whoa, I don't know where that came from. I love you all and Jesus loves you all even if you left angry last Thursday.
SOOOOO... onto what I'm supposed to be writing:
Practical application points from Sandy Nation’s discussion of the learning brain. Here are some of the notes I wrote in my journal and thoughts-
Because we will ALL undoubtedly encounter resistance or rebellion from our littles I loved how she encouraged:
1) Don’t give up, Don’t give in, and outlast the push back we get from our kiddos
2) Tell kids WHY we are asking them to do something they don’t want to. Help your kids understand the logic for why they're being asked to do something they may not want to.
With toddlers when their 2 second attention span goes away from the book you’re trying to read- allow it but excitedly encourage them to return. “Guess what Red riding hood did next my love? There’s more!”
Poor hydration, nutrient deficiencies, and chemically/emotionally toxic environments influence the development of the brain but these are all manageable and treatable things. YAY!
Ensuring a constant and steady flow of nutrients and fluid will aide in optimal brain development for our children. We need to be mindful of what we’re expecting their little bodies to run on and be careful with sugar intake! Proteins, B vitamins, Omega-3s and ample sleep will help set our kids up for success.
I came home and immediately told Kyle “We’ve got to stop telling Brady that he struggles with math because we did.” It just makes sense! Why would we limit our children in any way? In fact since Brady wont be with us until Christmas break I have started practicing on Banks every time we put him down to empower him. I have chosen to speak Romans 8:37 over him and say “Bankston, you are more than a conqueror because of Gods love in you.” I LOVED the encouragement she had for us to empower our children at night. To tell them to shoot high to dream big and to know that though it may not be easy that they can achieve whatever it is God has set out for them to accomplish. Side note: I think it was Kerri McCullah who gave me that nugget of wisdom. I really love saying "With God's help you can accomplish whatever it is that He has set out for you" instead of saying "You can do whatever you want if you dream big and work hard enough." Anyone else struggle with striving? I don't want to impart that on my children.
She encouraged us to break up and provide processing time for our children, to encouragement movement in order to get their brains back to a learning state. I do appreciate the explanation she gave as far as technology is concerned. Even though these kinds of things can send our mom brains into a full on guilt cycle, she said that a child can learn ANYTHING if their attention can be kept right? Well she also said that technology does a phenomenal job of keeping our children’s brains attentive. What I took from that is to be really mindful about our children’s exposure to technology because their brains can grow reliant on technology to keep their attention at the suffering of their focus when learning in more "traditional" ways.
And then the hard one for this Mom and Step-mom is hearing how much stress negatively impacts kiddos. I hate it because I know it’s true and when it comes to Step-parenting there are stressors we simply cannot change in our given situation. BUT- again Sandy empowered. She encouraged us to explain potential stressors to our children. To talk things out and acknowledge the stress. To partner with our children by explaining that there will be disruption whether mentally, physically, or emotionally but to lovingly remind “I will always be there.” Also, I try to flip my fear around and remember that if stress can impact so negatively then there must be equal influence on a child’s well-being if they see love, comfort, vulnerability, and affection lived out in their environments, too.
Overall, what I took most from Sandy Nations blessings and lessons last Thursday was that there are mountains of scientific information that we can dig into in order to “cover our bases” as far as cultivating an environment that can support the optimal development of our children’s brains. BUT when those mountains feel overwhelming- slow down. Breathe. Look your children in the eyes and try to see what they may be in need of.
For me, most often when I slow down and look at Brady or Banks I see they’re in need of love. Now that love may come in the form of a conversation about their need to try new foods while putting off the dishes or laundry until later and joining them at the table or high chair to talk and dote on them. To explain that avocado may look weird but that it's jam packed with nutrients and pretty stinkin' delicious. Then add that they can wait to taste it but that they’re not getting up until they do. (insert horned emoji) Other times that love looks like putting my phone far out of reach or earshot and sitting with them on the floor. Designating thirty minutes to uninterrupted engagement in play. Some days, it looks like saying to my husband “I could really use a coffee shop quiet time by myself this week, is there a time we could arrange that?"
I love that our job as Moms can be overwhelming. (Sometimes so much so that we go into paralysis and/or the occasional break down) because all this does is showcase the importance of what we’re doing. SO… lets hold onto the positives in our interactions and push one another toward greatness and be mindful of our children's growing and learning brains, too!