Babies learn through exploration

This is apparently breaking news, but parents know it, for heaven's sake. Now we can quote scientific research showing that 'teaching too much can stifle exploration.'  A Boston Globe article 3-28-2011 by Carolyn Y. Johnson... tells it all and quotes Alison Gopnik, Berkeley psychology researcher, 'there's tremendous pressure to make the environment for young children more and more academic...even something that looks like random, exploratory play can help children to learn and in some cases help them to learn better.'
I'm voting to let kids be kids!

Where the Heart Listens

The most amazing happy news . . .  Where the Heart Listens: a handbook for parents and their allies in a global society - the Parents Forum handbook - has won the Parent Tested Parent Approved PTPA Seal of Approval! Look here:

and see our bright red/orange cover image in the side-reading scroll of 'latest featured winners' mid-page. These are readers' testimonials:

= I think this book was a great read. Not only for moms but dads should read it too. Many people hide behind their children and come off as someone who is so overwhelmed in their life that people automatically assume they are not equipped to be a parent. I believe this book can help put those stressed families at ease and get back to being a family.

Charm School introduction text

Here is the text, what I said in the longer Jan.27 YouTube . . . 

We are here tonight to prepare for MIT’s Charm School.  You may think that MIT and charm don’t quite fit in the same sentence, but as a long time employee I can tell you that some engineers and even some theoretical physicists are quite charming. But some may need a little help and that’s why we are here.
I want to introduce a small part of the Parents Forum curriculum called
How To Tell Somebody Something They’d Rather Not Hear
Then I will give you a bit of background of Parents Forum.

YouTube Videos incl. Question to President Obama

Take a look, there are now three videos on YouTube to give you a sense of what our program is about.  The shorter one is the question I submitted to 'Ask Obama' for his internet press conference January 27 (my question did not get picked, oh well) and the longer one, also posted yesterday, is an introduction to MIT's Charm School workshop "How To Tell Somebody Something They'd Rather Not Hear" ... what do you think?

WSJ Are Chinese mothers better?

Well, actually, the title of the article was 'Why Chinese mothers are better' and in it the author, Amy Chua, described her very rigorous and apparently very successful parenting style.  My letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal begged to differ:

Amy Chua's essay is provocative, as intended, and, as an American (Western) mother, I find it troubling, just as the author would expect me to.


CIVICUS World Assembly in Montreal

CIVICUS World Assembly included Parents Forum . . . that is, I was there.
Saturday morning's plenary panel, moderated by Nuala McGovern of the BBC World Have Your Say, asked for contributions from the audience and I suggested:
I suggested that parenting education and support be included in the development agenda, particularly that we consider how we raise boys.
Wearing three virtual 'hats' -- that of the National Parenting Education Network (NPEN - US) and the International Federation for Parent Education (IFPE/FIEP) as well as that of Parents Forum -- I had a great time meeting and speaking with like-minded social activists.
I was especially pleased that Nuala McGovern said 'We should have a whole show on parenting!
Yes!!  If you agree, please write to World Have Your Say, at the BBC website, and say so!

Parenting while plugged in, New York Times

One of my delightful daughters-in-law sent a link to this article on the risks of too much media use, not by kids, but by parents!
Kids want and need good attention, for heaven's sake, and online activities do have a seductive if not addictive appeal for adults and children alike.  My occasionally less than idyllic childhood, well before the Internet age, includes this unfortunate episode:

Speed-dating for university researchers and community groups?

Well, well, well, it sounded a little far out, but worth a try. This morning I went to an event at Tufts put on by the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute -- there's a mouthful! -- co-sponsored by the Harvard Catalyst Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Program -- another mouthful! -- and hosted by, among other Tufts entities, the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
The Dean of the College who opened the event was, it turns out, Rob Hollister, from Yellow Springs, Ohio, my home town. I guess we went to high school together, but that was a long time ago.  My memories of that time are a bit faded, but fond nevertheless.
What did Parents Forum get from the speed-dating experience? Actually we have a meeting scheduled for next month with one of the community liaisons for the CBPR. Stay tuned for details on this!

'Babies' and International Day of Families

'Babies' is in theaters now and I enjoyed seeing it. But it seemed odd that the movie showed so little parent-child interaction. Without much apparent help or support from their parents, four babies from different parts of the world -- Namibia, Mongolia, Japan and the US -- make it through their first year, each one, at the end, triumphantly taking their first steps.
Will there be a movie 'Parents'? That will be more difficult to put together but more instructive, I think.
I would like to see more of the kind of research like that described by Liz Szabo in USA Today May 10.  Seth Pollak of the University is Wisconsin-Madison tells us that there are biological effects in children from mothers' soothing, both physical and verbal, even hearing their mothers' voices over the telephone. Pollak's research was on girls and their mothers.  I'd like to see research on dads and sons, dads and daughters as well as mothers and sons.