Parenting is packed with buzz words that come and go

Parenting is packed with buzz words that come and go. Let's decipher some of them and figure out if they've got value for you! BUZZ TERM: Free-Range Parenting WHAT IT MEANS: Once upon a time kids could yell, "I'm going outside to play" and, as long as they were home for dinner, everything was fine. These days - not so much. "Free-range parents" are those who have embraced a trend that aims to counteract the negative impacts of overprotective, anxious parenting. Free-range kids enjoy lots of unstructured, unsupervised playtime. Free-range parents believe they are helping their children develop leadership, coping, social and problem-solving skills because of these parent-free experiences. Though the extremes have gotten publicity (a 9-year-old riding the New York City subway alone), the idea that important things happen when children are given "free range" is gaining traction with many parents. WHERE IT COMES FROM: The 2009 book "Free-Range Kids" by New York City-based mom Lenore Skenazy; she also has a website with more information, freerangekids.com -Melissa Boyd THE JOYFUL JOURNEY Columbus arts educator, author and all-around inspiration Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld shares more of her wisdom about raising happy, healthy, creative children: I am a very lucky person! This is my 56th year in education and I spend - and have spent - almost all my waking time with children of all ages, all grades, subjects; university students; families and caregivers celebrating life - affirming successful, accessible ways to share with children the excitement of learning! In my annual summer courses at Otterbein University, usually my first assignment is to go to a festival, fair or community celebration and OBSERVE the children. We share observations and they are all universally similar. Young children line up to get face paint, make hats and bead jewelry, play instruments, dance with musicians, watch balloon artists, try jump roping, play funny games, wave flags at parades…etc. At the recent fabulous outdoor concert presented by BalletMet, I watched the young children dancing on the grass WITH the dancers onstage. The children watched and moved - leg extensions, leaps, mock lifts and turns. Our children learn from DOING! Now, in this era of curriculum goals, benchmarks, guidelines, packed with work sheets and formalized lessons and too much seat work, it is more important than EVER to remember that learning and creativity mark the uniqueness of human beings. Young children listen, look, touch, try, think, remember - every minute they are learning language. Every moment an adult says, "First we will have our snack and then we will go for a walk," a child comprehends a mathematical concept. Every exchange an adult has with another adult or child demonstrates (or not) consideration, respect, interest or apathy. Our children are watching and listening and learning. I just returned from a wonderful conference in Wisconsin with in-service teachers and university education majors. It was called, "The Joyful Journey – Teaching in the Key of Life!" It was a great reminder that our children are embarking on a lifetime journey. If we define the journey of education as one of joy and excitement, we will honor the natural, playful, hands-on, stress-less ways that children of all ages best learn. If education is seen as a business, with incomes and outcomes, testing statistics, rewards and punishments, success and failure, the journey will NOT be joyful! Each of our children is unique with a combination of strengths and intelligences and their own timing. They do not fit into one standardized package. All of our children deserve a joyful journey to become lifelong learners who share their gifts, skills and qualities of character with a society that sorely needs the positive contribution of every citizen. That is my prayer for today and all days.
-Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld