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Jen, Kristen, and Patience

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September 2009 Archives


Bicycle Safety without the Bicycle

Posted by Kristen on September 3, 2009 at 6:05 AM in Raising Boys
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My kids have gotten into this thing about wearing their helmets all the time. I would like to thank whatever cartoon character has peer-pressured them into doing it.

Thing is? They wear the helmets all the time. All the time. As in, "Mom, can I wear my bike helmet in the car?" No, this isn't Nascar. But then it would be a Racing Helmet anyway. Why don't you wear it on your scooter? Your Scooter Helmet, if you will.

It's actually working out right now because Nate could use the extra protection since his ability to walk without running into something or falling over something is still lacking. I was glad he was wearing the helmet today when he ran into the door. Wait. Maybe the helmet is adding to his depth perception problem. And it got a little crazy when they were wearing them on the neighbor's slide and you could actually hear them clanking inside the slide as they came down together. Derek said as long as they are BOTH wearing the helmets, it's no problem to go down the slide wearing them.

You may have noticed from the picture that Nate isn't actually wearing his bicycle helmet properly, what with the 4 inches of air between the chin strap and his chin. I guess we don't have anything to worry about because he doesn't ride a bike. And the stamps? I have no idea where they came from and I have no idea where I could ship him for two 39 cent stamps. Not that that idea ever crossed my mind


In Memoriam: Common Sense Media Movie Critic Sandie Angulo Chen Laments the End of Reading Rainbow

Posted by Jen on September 2, 2009 at 7:09 AM in Jen
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My good friend and PBS fan Sandie Angulo Chen and I were sitting at my kitchen table the other night mourning the loss of Reading Rainbow--a television show as dear to us as Mister Rogers neighborhood itself. While I saw the show's end as a natural turn of events--when was the last time your kid read a book because they essentially saw a review on TV?--my friend Sandie (who also happens to be a career journalist and very savvy media critic for Common Sense Media) pointed to the end of an era and a particular relationship we as parents have with the media when it comes to books and the love of reading.

I invited her to share her full opinion here, and I invite you to respond. Do you think our culture is falling short in teaching the love of reading to children by creating shows that focus specifically on the mechanics?

I'll give you my two cents in a separate post, but I wanted you to hear Sandie's take on it:

It was with a surprising sadness that I read that PBS' third-longest-running series, Reading Rainbow, would be airing its final episode on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 -- after 26 years on television. I couldn't stop singing the theme song -- "Take a look, it's in a book, Reading Raaainbow" -- for days, and I felt like it was the end of an era.

To me, the show's end signals a fundamental shift in the way we view educational television -- and possibly childhood literacy as a whole. The emphasis, as PBS' Vice President for Children's Programming Linda Simensky told NPR last week, is no longer on teaching a love of books or an introduction to great children's literature, but on teaching young kids how to read. Full stop.

Why can't there be room for both in children's television? Of course shows like Super WHY! and WordGirl should be commended for providing preschoolers with the tools to unlock words. As studies have shown, kids who aren't necessarily read to at home benefit most from these types of early literacy programs. In fact, educational television is preschool for some children.

But what about kids who are read to on a daily basis, who do take trips to the library with their parents? Reading Rainbow spoke to them, reinforcing their love of books by stressing literary themes and the out-and-out wonder of storytelling. It provided the tools for examining a book -- thinking about its plot, its themes, its life applications. That's just as vital, in my opinion, as learning to break down a word phonetically or how "cat" and "hat" rhyme.

Like many adults in their twenties and thirties, I have fond memories watching LeVar Burton introduce new books (at age 6 or 7, I desperately wanted to be chosen as one of the kids who gave book reviews on the show). As a mother, I've often referred to the show's Web site for book recommendations, many of which are among my children's favorites.

It's a shame that there won't be any additional Reading Rainbow picks for my children to enjoy. It's a shame that a show about the joy of reading can't co-exist with programs stressing how to read.

What do you think? Give it to us straight Supersisters--in the comments below.


Babysitter Blues

Posted by Patience on September 1, 2009 at 7:33 AM
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It feels like lately there are 100 exciting night events that require us to find babysitting. The problem is, we have one reliable lovely babysitter, who also has a life of her own. Not to mention paying someone to watch 4 kids can break the bank real quick. We are still a ways off, but I started wondering when we will be able to leave our kids for this and other things.

Let's have an informal poll, shall we?

When do you think it is okay to leave kids home alone? in the day? at night?
Do you ever leave kids in the car to run in the 7-11, or pay for gas, into a store real quick?
At what age do you think it okay to leave kids in the car for these short errands?

Tell us in the comments.

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