New Parenting Book Teaches Adults Balance and Encourages Child-Independence

Don’t let this book’s title fool you. While Stephanie Woo is the mother of twins-hence, her title, Raising Your Twins-this book applies to raising any children, whether one or multiple. Her real life parenting tips as well as advice on how to maintain your relationship with your spouse (her husband even chimes in with his own section on this topic) will give you more than enough advice to keep you busy being a better parent, part of which includes learning how not to be busy by finding some time for yourself after you teach your children how to entertain themselves.

Throughout the book, Stephanie uses her twin daughters, Brooke and Mackenzie, as her primary examples, including numerous photos of them demonstrating their skills at eating, their playing with mobiles, and how she set up play and nap areas for them. But Raising Your Twins is more than one mother’s parenting experiences. Stephanie comes from a family of childcare educators. Her mother is a teacher of the Montessori method, who operates five Montessori schools in Taiwan, and Stephanie is herself AMI Montessori certified, so Stephanie includes a lot of Montessori tips as well as her mother’s own tips about raising children.

What really amazed me about Raising Your Twins is the common sense, outside of the box, and progressive thinking that Stephanie displays in discussing how to raise her twins, especially in terms of teaching them how to entertain themselves.

Stephanie divides the book into various chapters, including: Eating, Sleeping, Movement, and Keeping Babies Self-Occupied, and then these chapters are divided into sections according to the ages or development stages of children, such as 0-3 months, 3-10 months, or 11+ months, depending on the topic. This division is useful because it allows parents to anticipate their child’s next stage. As a bonus, Stephanie includes a shopping list at the end of each chapter so parents will know what they will need to buy as their children get older, covering the ages from birth to three years old.

All of the advice in this book is proven and tested. Stephanie herself attests that “I experienced extraordinary results. My girls started sleeping twelve hours a night by ten weeks old. They are and have always been completely unafraid of water. They were drinking out of a regular glass cup at eight months and could eat entire meals by themselves by twelve months.”

The aspect of Raising Your Twins that I found most remarkable was its focus on helping children to become self-sufficient. Stephanie points out that such self-sufficiency is the purpose of the Montessori method, saying, “If we wanted to answer the question, ‘What Is Montessori?’ in a single phrase, we might look to the experience of Dr. Maria Montessori herself. One day, as she was working with children, a child said to her, ‘Help Me Do It Myself.’ THAT is Montessori. A Montessori child isn’t just given fish; he is taught to fish.” Stephanie goes on to explain that some parents might not want to teach their children to eat at such a young age because they figure in time that children will learn on their own, but Stephanie states:

“Personally, I don’t want to be spoon-feeding my children till they are six years old. I had children so I could enjoy them, not so I might become their slave! And with twins, the point is even more pertinent because there are two children, not just one! Consequently, the attitude in our household is one that encourages independence in every possible way.”

One other point about self-sufficiency I appreciated was Stephanie’s focus on teaching children to be self-occupied. Such self-occupation can be achieved through simple methods such as you, the parent, changing the mobile in the child’s room every fifteen minutes or so to keep your child entertained and give you fifteen minutes to yourself. Stephanie has also learned how important it is not to interrupt children during their playtime or when they are engaged in any independent activity.

While I don’t have children myself, I have watched plenty of friends raise their children and I have babysat numerous hours so I can see how effective the advice and methods in this book are and how easily they can be implemented if a parent is willing to put in the time and be consistent. A little extra time now will free up time for a parent in the long run. More importantly, it will help your children to become happier, less dependent, raise their self-confidence, and make them interested in continual learning as they grow older.

Teacher’s Letters Inspire Parent-Teacher Teamwork to Improve Children’s Learning

In “Dear Parents, From Your Child’s Loving Teacher,” Dana Arias, longtime parent, teacher, and school librarian, has written a heartfelt book with the purpose of enhancing communication between teachers and parents. Dana’s goal is for parents to understand where teachers are coming from in terms of what they actually do in the classroom and why, and what parents can do to help teachers help their children. Dana has written the book as a series of letters, like a teacher might send home with a child, each letter building on the letter before it to discuss ways parents can help their children to learn and to create an environment that will better allow them to learn.

I was really amazed by these letters because they contain simple information that should almost be common sense but that I’m sure most parents never think about. Dana walks the parents step-by-step through various topics, including how to help children to pay closer attention in the classroom and how a child’s thinking process develops. One simple example that made total sense to me was the importance of having a regular dinner time together for a family. Besides the family bonding that dinner time provides, it teaches children how to sit still for a sustained period, which will also help them with focusing on paying attention in school and sitting still while doing homework.

Homework is a big part of the discussion in these letters. Dana explains why teachers give homework, how much homework children should have, and why it needs to be consistent, not once a week but daily. Homework becomes more than homework in these discussions-it becomes a means to a child’s success as it teaches children how to manage their time, form a routine, and have structure-all elements that will help them to survive and thrive in the real world.

Something else I loved about this book was the focus on how children can become better writers. Before children can write well, they need something to write about. Most children don’t know what to say in their writing because they haven’t been taught how to converse on topics or had their self-esteem raised to believe they have things worth saying. Dana walks parents through how to converse with their children so their children feel good about themselves and believe their opinions are of value; when children are listened to, they become more open to expressing themselves in many ways, including through drawing, verbally, and in writing. Dana’s discussion here includes better ways to converse with your child, including how the conversation can help your child to improve his or her developmental thinking, which in turn helps to develop writing.

Far more information is included in this book than I can discuss here. In brief, “Dear Parents, From Your Child’s Loving Teacher” is filled with examples of games parents can play with their children, sample conversations they can have, activities, and even ways to discipline one’s child in a loving but firm way so he or she will learn to follow the rules and abide within the boundaries parents set. Dana even explains why rewarding children when they get good grades is counterproductive to their learning and development, and how to turn the situation around so children will want to succeed and do the right thing regardless of whether or not they receive a reward.

Perhaps most refreshing is how Dana takes time to talk about the importance of “me” time for parents. Parents often err on the side of doing too much for their children, thinking they have to drive their children to sporting events, playtime, and cater to their child’s every wish. The result is that children take their parents for granted and become ungrateful. Dana shows parents how to set boundaries so their children can realize that their parents do sacrifice for them and they come to love and respect their parents for all they do for them.

‘Wonder’ Unveils Piece By Piece the World We Inhabit And Where We Fit In Creation

I never expect a scholar to be a good writer but Paul R. Fleischman is not only good but creative and at times witty. But, more important, he is an inspiring writer, sound and independent thinker.

Fleischman, author of several books and articles in scholarly journals, has recently published “Wonder: When and Why the World Appears Radiant.”

Relying on biology, chemistry, physics and math, Dr. Fleischman explains why we should view the universe and ourselves with wonder and tells why each one of us – if we truly want to – can experience a sense of wonder each day of our life.

We learn from Dr. Fleischman that wonder combines the science, poetry and spirituality that are contained within the big questions we all ask about what life really means.

Every individual possesses thoughts, emotions, and feelings of wonder that can be tapped by beautiful language and wise thoughts. What the author wants us to come to realize is that our sense of wonder emerges from the world that creates us.

This scholarly book is not an easy one to read but is very much worth making an effort because it contains unique insights and information about ourselves and our world that we have never thought about before. And it is good to ponder new concepts. I avoided rushing through “Wonder” as I might a piece of fiction but instead took my time, read it over a period of four weeks, and focused on what the author wanted me to know. I was rewarded for finishing the book.

Examples of the creativity, wit and insights Dr. Fleischman offers includes these samples:

  • The human mind – even Einstein’s mind – has limits of understanding. We will always remain children in a research library, indirect knowers.
  • Our new world, like a wool shirt, is sometimes irritating.
  • Wonder is the word we preserve to refer to events that provoke a deep echo, that make us tremble. Wonder is a signpost at a crossroads. Due to the experience of wonder, we change directions.
  • It is as if we speak but do not echo. We all are saying something partly known and partly new. In the beginning was the word but we are all new phrases… We are quotes in the latest edition of a newly edited text.
  • Moby Dick is important to us because it has guts. Wonder is not for weaklings.

New Summary Available for Overfished Ocean Strategy

In Overfished Ocean Strategy, Nadya Zhexembayeva outlines principles for business survival in a new world. The planet is running out of resources for production, as well as space for the trash generated by the current linear, throw-away economy. The free market will self-destruct unless people transition to a circular economy, in which waste becomes a resource. Those who respond to this new reality with disruptive innovation gain a significant competitive advantage. Zhexembayeva sidesteps “green” businesses, advocating instead an entire economy that emulates the ultimate recycler: nature. Instead of fixating on the competition, businesses must think in terms of the global value chain. Businesses will sell solutions instead of products, and lean, flexible business models will replace cumbersome business plans. Interdepartmental power games must disappear, yielding to an organization-wide mindset. Business innovators have already begun the transition.

Nadya Zhexembayeva blames the linear, throw-away economy of the Western world for the current environmental and economic predicament: dwindling resources and overflowing landfills. She calls for a paradigm change producing disruptive innovation, but paints a hopeful vision of the future–if enough businesses insure their survival by adopting the five principles of her Overfished Ocean Strategy:

  1. Line to Circle: imitate nature by treating waste as a resource, not trash.
  2. Vertical to Horizontal: shift focus away from the competition and concentrate on the global value chain.
  3. Growth to Growth: stop measuring growth by quantity of products sold, and concentrate on selling value and meaning.
  4. Plan to Model: abandon rigid business plans and develop an innovative, resilient business model.
  5. Department to Mindset: override compartmentalization with a new mindset in which everyone, at every level of the organization, strives toward the same goal.

Overfished Ocean Strategy offers a solid model for business survival in a resource-deprived, over-trashed world. The book is best read straight through, however, chapter overviews make skipping around easier. Each chapter contains insights from other sources; chapters three through seven each end with a list of resources for further information. Graphs, charts, illustrations, and the occasional photo clarify points. Case studies of more than 30 companies, from several continents and representing widely varying fields, illustrate Zhexembayeva’s principles. The book is a must-read for business leaders interested in the environmental impact of innovation as it relates to the success of their companies.