Bittersweet Changes

Breaking up may be hard to do, but growing up is even harder.   Watching my daughter grow and change over this past year – her first, has been an adventure, to be sure.  Wonderful and terrifying, amazing and scary, exciting and sad – but always an adventure.

I have found this month particularly bittersweet as we approach her first birthday.  I am so excited to watch who she is becoming as she develops new skills and becomes more and more her own person.  She is more a toddler every day, and it’s so amazing.  I feel so privileged to have a front seat view of her journey of herself.

As she grows and changes though, she leaves behind the baby I have loved so fiercely since I found out I was pregnant.  And as we rapidly approach her first birthday, I find myself mourning the loss of that baby quite desperately.  These changes, this growing up thing, no one told me how bittersweet it would all be.

I find so many parents hold their children back.  They don’t mean to, they love their kids desperately and want only the best for them, but they hold them back nonetheless.  Many lack confidence in their children’s social and academic skills.  I wonder how many do so because they see their child as only what they have been, and not what they are becoming.  Children, people really, will rise to meet the expectations that we place before them.  If we expect them to not be able to focus well, like math, or make friends easily – they will do just that.  We must be able to let go of who they have been, and support who they are becoming.  We cannot be afraid of change.  We must embrace it if our children are to become their very best selves.

Last night I discovered that our Munchie (short for munchkin) had finally cut her first two teeth.  Late in the game, like her momma, but here at last, two tiny sharp nubs now poke out of her lower gums.  I have visions of the brilliant white smile that will soon grace her gorgeous face – but gosh I’ll miss the darling gummy one.

Change happens, and I’ve always thought I was good at it, even if I’ve not always liked it.  I’ve changed jobs, hobbies, even countries, and usually found a way to enjoy the adventure.   Change always comes at a price of leaving behind the old – the comfortable and beloved – and this can be so hard.  We just have to remind ourselves that the adventure that awaits us is so much more exciting than we could ever imagine.  We can miss the little one our child used to be, but we must support the people they are becoming.  I will miss that baby my daughter is increasingly leaving behind, but I can’t wait to meet my toddler.

What changes are you facing in your child and yourself?  Is there anything that you are missing that surprises you?  How do you plan to support the growth of your little person?

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Read to, and for, Your Child

I’ve been a teacher for a long time, since 1997 to be precise.  I’m currently the Director of the Sylvan Learning Center here in Nashville.  The question that parents have probably asked me the most over my career is a variation of, “How can I help my child at home?”  My answer?  Read.

There is a lot of information and research out there on the benefits of reading.  Most of us know that we should have our children read a least 20 minutes a day (give or take).  This can be you reading to your child, or your child reading to him or herself.  And honestly, it really doesn’t matter what they read.  Optimally, it would be great for your child to be reading books that challenge them as well as entertain them.  But, if you have a child that isn’t excited about reading, just getting them to read anything can be victory enough.  Yes, books are great, but so are comic books and graphic novels.  Magazines are great tools as well.  The idea is just to find something that your kid will read so they can start developing the habit of reading on a daily basis.

Want to help encourage your child to read more?  Pick up a book.  That’s right, parents should be reading too.  You should know by now that your kid watches every move you make to learn the way they should act.  You are your child’s role model in so many way, and reading is one of them.  If you want your kid to value reading, you have to show that it is valuable. 

I can hear the question though, “Where do I find the time to read?”  We’ve all got so much going on every day, it can be hard to find the time to do the things we know we should, like model reading for our kids.  Remember though, it’s only for 20 minutes.  Most of us have 20 minutes in our day that we could take from less important activities (leave the email and facebook for after the kids are in bed?).  Ultimately, it’s about priorities and value.  How important is it to you that your child is a good reader?  What value will being a good reader have for your child in the future? 

Do you have other ideas for helping turn a reluctant reader into an eager one?

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I’ve recently started writing for examiner.com again as their Nashville Education Examiner.  You can find me at http://www.examiner.com/education-in-nashville/elandriel-lewis.

Why, hello there!

Hello there!  I am (quite obviously) one of the new girls in town, but I do intend on staying around for a while.  Will you stay with me?  Maybe hold my hand and show me around?  I do love new friends.  Hopefully, we can learn and grow together!