Author Archives: hcccentralregion

About hcccentralregion

I am the new Regional Coordinator for the Healthy Child Coalition - Central Region. I come with a wealth of experience and I look very forward to continuing the success of the Coalition. The Coalition strives to be a progressive, proactive and innovative Coalition for healthy children and families of the Central Region of MB."

Beginnings, endings and the important stuff between

quilt puzzle

In the early 2000s, this poster was used to help explain the concept behind Healthy Child Manitoba.
Although no longer current, the poster is still accurate. It illustrates the partnership between government departments to ensure the healthy development of Manitoba children.

I always thought of it as a puzzle, with those jutting out pieces fitting into the concave parts of the next to form a whole that suddenly became a unified picture.
But years later I have come to think of it as a quilt. The topping is all these services stitched together. The backing is the support given by government and community. The fill is our children and families, connected by the services that are available to everyone. The stitching is the common thread throughout.

Although both analogies are appropriate, I prefer the quilt version.
Puzzles are fun and for many they are play, which relates strongly to early childhood. But quilts are warm and can become fuzzy with usage, reminding me of family and community.
A puzzle can be taken apart. It is much more difficult to take a quilt apart.
If you lose a puzzle piece, what used to be fun becomes frustration. It is much harder to lose a quilt.
And often I find that the value of a quilt is directly proportional to its age and usage. The more fraying the better. Frayed puzzle parts, however, do not make for good play.

Analogies are easy; in life, it is not quite so simple. Families are complicated. Communities are complicated.
But what a marvelous quilt we can create when we spend the time and make the effort.

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Childhood has a beginning and an end, although the latter is not so well-defined. Some manage to keep their inner child alive much longer than others.
The seasons of our lives come to an end as well. Pre-school becomes school-age. School-age become teenage. Teenage becomes adult. The child may eventually become the parent.
Beginnings and endings could not exist without each other. One flows into the other.

As the late Harry Chapin used to sing:

“All my life’s a circle
Sunrise and sundown
The moon rose through the nighttime
Till the day break comes around.”

Or as poet T.S. Eliot wrote:

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Here’s to  the further exploration of quilts and puzzles, partnerships and relationships, parents, children and family.

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It’s I Love to Read Month

books

The ability to read is essential to a life lived with independence, confidence and safety. We need to know what POISON means. We need to know which medicine is which. We need to read in order to receive texts and to reply. We need to read in order to follow a recipe.

But then there’s the other aspect of reading, the magic part, the part that can take you far away or bring you deep inside yourself. The life enhancement part.

Don’t just take my word for it. Writers have words to say about books, too. Of course, they might be said to have a vested interest in the subject, since they write what they hope we will read. But since writing and reading are two sides of the same coin, their perspective is valid.

Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King
A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor
A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour
“To learn to read is to light a fire” — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him. —Maya Angelou
There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. —May Ellen Chase
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust

Of particular interest are quotations from those author who write books for children and youth.

We read to know we are not alone. —C.S. Lewis
I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp. —JK Rowling
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!” – Dr. Seuss
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” – Roald Dahl
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman
“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”
– Neil Gaiman

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald

The scientist Albert Einstein said:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

And another scientist Carl Sagan said:

One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children.

Former American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is quoted:

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

And Walt Disney once said:

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

Even comedians have touched on the topic. Groucho Marx said:

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

And…

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

And finally there’s this quote from comedian Stephen Wright.

“A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, “How to Build a Boat.”

Which brings us back to the practical side of things and perhaps to a definition of reading that encompasses both its aspects.

Practical magic.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

 

The beginning of each year is a time for looking forward. Perhaps making resolutions, perhaps not. Some of us search for inspirational messages to post on our social media pages.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

These words were written by American writer and humourist Mark Twain, who was born in 1835. It is not hard to imagine the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn penning the words; there are so many waterway references.

Another famous man, born forty-four years later in 1879, said this:

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

He was Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist and author of “the world’s most famous equation”. E=mc2 You know the one.

Fast forward eighty-one years and the British author Neil Gaiman was born. His New Year’s quote is a personal favourite.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

The births of these men, two authors and one scientist, span 125 years. Basically though, their quotes are the same.

Do not be afraid to try.

It’s a message that is equally true for adults and children. And the passage of time will never make it less true.

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FAMILY

red christmas

    A Foundation of support and acceptance, a framework to buffer against setbacks and to amplify joy.

                       All kinds and sizes, for all times and seasons.

             Exemplified by Mother and Child, but larger than two.

             Fostering Integrity and initiative through love’s connection.

             Always Learning about this world we live in and how best to live in it.

             Yesterday, today and tomorrow. The past, the present and the future.

It may look like no one else’s, but you’ll always know it’s yours.

 

At this time of seasonal celebration, may those closest to you be at your side and in your hearts.

 

 

 

Play, Prescriptions and Purpose

A recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that doctors should write prescriptions for play during early-childhood checkups.

The report made national and even international headlines, shining a spotlight on the concept of ‘prescriptions for play’.

Few people who work in early child development would be surprised by the report’s contents. We’ve been saying many of the same things for a long time.

“Play is not frivolous; it is brain building,” the report said.

“Pediatricians can play an important role in emphasizing the role of a balanced curriculum that includes the importance of playful learning for the promotion of healthy child development,” the authors wrote.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post September 14, children’s author Katherine Marsh decried the current thinking that:

“Play can’t be just what children do or what they enjoy — it has to serve a purpose”

She continued:

“No one wants his or her child to become a purposeless adult. But part of the joy of childhood is doing things because they anchor you to the moment, not because they will reap future benefits or rewards. There is a sense of mindfulness children feel when they play that so many of us long for as adults. This is why the AAP report is so important — and why we need to implement its philosophy by trusting ourselves as parents and teachers, not by following doctor’s orders. True play is freedom from purpose, and no doctor can prescribe that.”

Prescriptions might be a stretch, but it cannot hurt for family doctors to talk to parents about the vital role of play in childhood.

As for the ‘purpose’ argument, well, no activity can be classified as ‘play’ unless it involves fun and joy. But play DOES have a purpose.

In a sense, play is the work of children. They learn how things work. They explore and discover. They learn how to participate in group activities. They learn how to navigate the world around them. Play prepares children for adulthood.

We can acknowledge that purpose without fixating on it. Fixations can be unhealthy. Play, on the other hand, is part of healthy child development.

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Summer Time

Find a flower, bend down low;

Breathe in its scent, long and slow.

 

Hold a firefly in your hands;

Watch the flicker as it lands.

 

Lie on the grass, eyes open wide;

Count the clouds from side to side.

 

Feel wet sand between your toes;

Wash it off with garden hose.

 

Put a berry on your tongue;

Taste the sweetness, old and young.

 

Feel the sun’s warmth on your skin;

Smell that fragrance; breathe it in.

 

Wake to hear the songbirds sing;

Watch a hummingbird’s tiny wings.

 See, touch, smell, taste, listen:

Summer’s promise lures and glistens.

 

Play and learn.

 

Mud Pies and Puddle Boots

We are nearing mud puddle season, that messy and marvelous time when puddle boots are a necessity.

One spring when I was a child, our farmhouse was an island with floodwaters coming within six feet of it on all sides. That was a very good year for puddle boots, but not so good for other things.

The floods did not happen every year, of course, but we could always count on puddles. My sisters and I remembered going to the beach in the summer, sitting on the sand in the shallow water and making waves with our hands. Why couldn’t we do that in the puddles in our yard?

We went to the house to get our swimsuits and told Mom what we were going to do.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she said, but she did not forbid us to do it.

We dashed back to the puddles and sat down in the water.

It wasn’t much like being at the beach, after all. First, the water was cold. Second, wet mud has a completely different texture than wet sand. And third, the disturbed water was dirty.

We needed baths afterwards and our bathing suits needed to be laundered. We did not ever try it again

But we learned a lot that day, things we would not have learned as quickly or as well without the experiment.

It may be wet and messy, but playing in mud puddles is good for children.

A child’s neurological system is naturally designed to seek out the sensory input it needs in order to develop into a strong and capable individual. If a child is spinning in circles just for fun, it is because he or she needs that sensory input. Movement and physical play facilitate the development of new connections (synapses) among brain cells and the overall organization of the brain. As these connections develop, child’s fine and gross motor skills, socialization, personal awareness, language, creativity, problem solving and learning ability are improved. This is why they need to climb the trees, jump on the bed, run through the woods, splash in mud puddles. These are all natural and necessary experiences that will encourage their cognitive skill development.

You can read more at https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/splashing-mud-puddles-beneficial-children/

Or go to http://www.letthechildrenplay.net/2011/08/10-reasons-why-we-should-let-children.html Here is a condensed and paraphrased version.

1. Playing in the mud can make you happier.

Scientists have discovered something that playing in the mud can lift your mood.  Recent studies have revealed that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, helping to relax, soothe and calm.

2.  Playing in the mud connects you with nature.

If you never know something, it’s hard to care about it. Many kids these days never know the outdoors beyond the school playground or their own backyards, if they even have one.   

3.  Playing in the mud can make you healthier.

Research has shown that playing in the dirt – including very wet dirt – is good for a child’s immune system.

4.  Playing in the mud can make you smarter.

Studies have found that playing in the dirt can make you smarter.  The same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in M. vaccae dirt has also been shown to improve cognitive function.

5.  Playing in the mud helps children to learn and develop.

Sensory, hands-on play feeds children’s brains.   Playing with mud – a delightfully sensory experience – can help children to learn and develop.

6.  Playing in the mud helps develop positive dispositions.

Having an area outdoors set aside for mud play – a mud patch or a mud pie kitchen for example – provides a space for children to retreat to for some time alone in a soothing sensory experience or to play with peers co-operating, communicating, negotiating and sharing.

7.  Mud is a wonderful art medium.

Mud can be moulded and decorated and it responds differently than sand, clay or play dough.

8.  Mud play welcomes all comers.

Mud is an open-ended material that meets the different needs and interests of different children.  A younger child might be right into the sensory experience while older preschoolers are busy making their own mud bricks.  With mud, there is something for everyone.

9.  Playing in the mud encourages creative thinking.

Playing with open-ended materials like mud stimulate creativity and imagination – things that are hard to jump-start later in life.

10.  Childhood memories.

Which brings me back to my own memories and perhaps yours as well.

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