Author Archives: stpauls

#DayOfTheGirl

An old, popular rhyme says: “Sugar and spice and all that’s nice; That’s what little girls are made of” while “Frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails; That’s what little boys are made of”.  A version of this rhyme is found in The Baby’s Opera by Walter Crane (circa 1877) highlighting how deeply embedded into culture is our social understanding of the difference between the genders.

What is normal?

A woman stands in a courtroom,  ready to take responsibility for a parking ticket after leaving a car parked outside of her house to care for her infant son on oxygen before picking up her other children at school.  It is a struggle for her to stand because three days prior she was shot in the leg, an innocent bystander trying to get home from work at night.  The bits and pieces of her story are relayed to the Judge who is impressed by the strength of this women.

At one point the Judge turns to Inspector Quinn and asks him how he feels about this woman.  Inspector Quinn responds: “Your Honour, she’s more of a man than I could ever be…”

“Sugar and spice and everything nice” doesn’t leave a lot of room for females to be strong.  It doesn’t leave space for females to be smart, athletic, or willing to play with frogs and snails or anything else that might get their hands dirty.  “Sugar and spice and everything nice” relegates women to the role of being nice which doesn’t always fit with taking charge, fighting back or working to change the system.  Efforts to live beyond “sugar and spice and everything nice”, require females to embrace a kind of manhood that stands in contradiction to the expectations of society.

#DefyNormal

As we celebrate #InternationalDayoftheGirl and #DayOfTheGirl females of all ages are sharing ways in which they have lived outside of the norm of “sugar and spice and everything nice”.  Women and girls are proving, time and time again, that we are strong, smart and capable.  As one Tweet proclaims: “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger, women are already strong.  It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”

Work still to do

Despite the many girls and women who #DefyNormal, we still have a long way to go before females can be truly celebrated and honoured for living out their gifts regardless of whether these reflect the ideal of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’.  Recent reports suggest:

And so we continue to need #InternationalDayoftheGirl and #DayOfTheGirl to remind us of the strides we have made, the role models which continue to #DefyNormal and the work that still needs to be done.

Embracing who we are

In the meantime, families can celebrate every member for being who they are regardless of whether or not they accurately reflect what boys and girls are made of.  When children know there is nothing wrong with girls who are made of frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails and boys who are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, then we open the door to accept that all children have gifts and are free to live these out in whatever ways makes sense to them.  It is then that children will know they no longer have to #DefyNormal simply to be.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

#NationalComingOutDay

Back in the summer, our family watched the movie Love Simon together.  The movie illustrates the challenges and struggles of being gay, particularly when someone else reveals this truth before you are ready.  As a result, this movie can provide a meaningful springboard from which to talk about what it means to LGBT2Q2ia+.

A word about the acronym

Over the years our understanding of gender and sexuality has evolved.  As a result, the acronym used to refer to the community of individuals who are not exclusively cisgender, heterosexual has also evolved.  Here is a quick glossary of the terms to date:

Cisgender – refers to people who feel that the gender identified at birth accurately represents the gender they feel themselves to be now

LGBT – Lesbian (a sis gender female who romantically and sexually prefers females); Gay (a sis gender male who romantically and sexually prefers males); Bisexual (someone who romantically and sexually is open to relationships with either males or females); Transgender (the preferred term today identifying those who are not sis gender)

Q – Questioning (those who are unsure and continue to seek to understand their sexuality and gender)

2 – 2-Spirited is a modern, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North American communities to describe certain individuals in their communities who fulfill a traditional third gender ceremonial role

ia+ – Intersex (those whose characteristics do not fit with the binary norms for male and female); Asexual (those who are open to romantic relationships but a have little interest in sexual relationships); + (the recognition that these identities continue to evolve)

Switching the Norm (Back to Love Simon)

In one poignant scene in Love Simon, the protagonist asks why the default can’t be people ‘coming out’ as straight.  Subsequently, the movie shows several of the characters ‘coming out’ to their parents and the reactions.  The scene in done with a tone of humour highlighting how parents are unlikely to be disappointed that their child is straight.  As a result, this reversal of the process helps to highlight how difficult it can be for those who are LGBT2Qia+ to admit to family and friends that who they are does not fit the norms of society.

#NationalComingOutDay

October 11th is National Coming Out Day in Canada and the US.  ‘Coming Out’ is the term used to describe the social acknowledgement of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  In reality, ‘coming out’ is only necessary for those who don’t fit the expected norms of society.  It is a very personal acknowledgement that one is different.

The consequences of ‘coming out’ can be hurtful.  Acceptance of that difference is not guaranteed.  It takes courage, hope and trust to share who we are with others particularly when who that is, is seen by some as wrong and sinful.

What can parents do?

Do you remember when your child was born?  The first time you held that infant in your arms?  Do you remember that overwhelming feeling of love for one so tiny and so helpless?  A child coming out to their parents can be as vulnerable in that moment as they were when they were born.  Our primary job as parents is to love our children.  When faced with a child who is trying to articulate who they are, the love that we have for our child is what must remain front and centre.  No matter who they are in regards to the sexuality and gender spectrum, they will always remain our children.  They will always be that infant we cradled so tenderly.  Keep that image at the front of your mind as you listen to your child telling their truth.  Be prepared to hold them once again, and remind them that you love them and continue the journey from there.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Consent

My nephews, with whom I am close, were at our last Thrive! Dinner.  As things were wrapping up, I put my arms around the shoulders of one of my nephews and said, maybe next time we will talk about consent.  He looked up and asked “Consent? What’s that?”

I responded, “Well, I should have asked before I put my arms around you.”  With that I put my arms down and then asked if I could put my arms around him, to which he said “yes”.  I then asked if I could hug him and again he said ‘yes’ and we hugged.  “Is that consent?” he asked.  I said “yes and if you said ‘no’ or I didn’t want to, then we wouldn’t hug.”

Family closeness

There is a closeness in some families which is reflected in physical expressions like hugs.  As a result, it becomes natural for us to extend those expressions across generations.  Ours is a family that hugs, when we come together and when we leave and sometimes in between.  It is an expression of our love for one another.  A question to consider, however, is what happens if a child does not want to participate in this custom?

We know it happens.  Sometimes children are grumpy or moody or tired or simply playing shy and don’t want to hug one person or another.  It is easy for us to guilt them into relenting, telling them that they are making grandma sad or their uncle will be mad at them or bribing them into doing what is considered proper.  The goal, of course, is to encourage our children to be part of a tradition that is important to us and reflects the closeness of our family.  When physical expressions of our love for one another are the norm, we don’t necessarily consider alternative messages that might be sent when we try to get children to conform to that tradition.

Teaching Consent

What might happen, however, if when a child is reluctant to participate in these traditions we respect that decision?  What would we be teaching if we said, ‘that’s OK, you don’t have to hug grandpa today if you don’t want to’?  It is true that it may cause someone to feel left out, but it may also help our children understand that they can choose when to participate in hugs, while at the same time learning that it is OK for them, and someone else, to say no and have that decision respected.

Teaching Body Language

Certainly verbal cues provide important insights.  It is also true that before he left, my nephew (and his brother) gave me hugs without anyone asking if it is OK.  This is something we have done for a long time and there was no resistance indicated by anyone.  We are happy to share hugs.

This could create another opportunity to talk about what consent looks like for those people we know well.  Are there ways that we show resistance when we don’t want hugs?  What might happen if someone pushed away or even ran away when it came time to offer hugs?  This too could be a lesson in respecting boundaries and understanding consent.  There are many ways we say ‘yes’ and many ways we say ‘no’.  Recognising all the ways we communicate can impact the ways we come to relate to family, friend and stranger.

What do you think?

How do you recognise consent?  To what extent have you discussed consent in your family? Do you believe that it is important for us to have conversations about consent?  What does that look like for you?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Time – A Thrive! Dinner Review

Sept. 30th beginning at 5pm, a group from Essex County came together for a Thrive! Dinner.  It began by making quesadillas.  This was actually a new experience for some.  In fact, one person admitted to googling it ahead of the gathering.  As I think about it, we never had quesadillas when I was growing up either.  It is something that we have come to enjoy thanks to increased exposure to Mexican food.  Life changes as we open ourselves to new experiences.

Eating together

As we sat for dinner, we shared fellowship offering insights into the highlights of our summer and our dreams.  At times the room grew quiet as we munched away.  It was a mirror of family dinners with their ebbs and flows of conversation.  Sometimes we need a little help to keep everyone engaged.

We actually finished the meal early.  Knowing that one family would be late, we took the time to be a little silly as participants paired up and took turns trying to empty a bucket of balls that was tied behind our backs by shaking it like Shakira.  While there is video of this, we have opted not to include it here to protect the dignity of our participants  😉 If you want to see this in action, you’ll have to come to a dinner!

Playing with time

Once all participants had arrived, we broke up into teams and began a kind of obstacle course which explored the challenges of trying to manage time within families.  Stations included “last minute science project”, “I can’t find my…”, “slow eater”, “dinner dilemma”, “homework”, “quiz prep”, “late for the bus”, “walk the dog”, “two places at once”, and “scheduling”.  Each activity sought to mimic a reality in the life of families.  Click here for a description of these activities.

Going deeper

Breaking off into our groups, we took some time to talk about the activities.  When asked which resonated most with our lives, the parents recognised the scheduling as a regular challenge.  We also acknowledged the struggles getting children to school on time and dealing with homework.  It is frustrating that the way some subjects are taught are so different from what we remember.  Sometimes we need to admit we don’t know and tell our children to ask their teacher.

Homework help

Enter the Internet – did you know that the Ontario Ministry of Education offers free, live online math tutoring from an Ontario teacher?  Check out http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/elearning/homework.html for more information.  It is also possible to find videos and other helpful tools when you google a topic.

Time challenge

Family life today is surrounded by many challenges.  From busy schedules, to meal planning, to seeking to balance work and life, it is easy to become overwhelmed.  Still, as we gathered together at the end of the evening we recognised that there are those incredible moments when we are in our ‘happy places’, gathered together doing meaningful things.  Our prayer is that we continue to make time for those moments so that our lives continue to include the joy, grace and wonder that comes with being family.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Work-Life Balance

True confession: sometimes I like to read posts with parent confessions like this one and treat them like a kind of ‘never have I ever game’ in my head. 

  • Never have I ever change the clocks so I could put my kid to bed early (although I admire the wisdom of this);
  • Never have I ever frozen store made cupcakes to pass off as my own;
  • Never have I ever run out of diapers and used a maxi pad.

Still, I do have my own confessions.  I can’t say:

  • Never have I ever hidden chocolate so I don’t have to share;
  • Never have I ever taken a bit longer to run an errand so I have some time to myself;
  • Never have I ever tried to multitask and missed something my kid or hubby has said.

Work-life balance

There is a reason why work-life balance is now a thing.  As this article from Today’s Parent explains, despite the laissez-faire attitude in which most Generation X children were raised (how many of us were left unattended in cars, sent outside to play until the street lights came on and walked to school without adult supervision from a very young age), as parents we are far more hands on.

We would cringe at the thought of leaving a child in the car while we ran in to a store even for a second (of course, we have also seen stories where children overheat in cars).  We are leery about leaving our kids play outside (of course, we have are aware of the many dangers that lurk outside).  And we often drive or at least walk our children to school (of course, we have seen too many stories of children being taken).

While this kind of hands on parenting has influenced the relationships between parents and children, it also places more demands on parents’ time.  As a result, there are a plethora of blogs, books and articles providing suggestions about how to balance work and family.  Today this is true for mothers and fathers.

There are overlaps in the suggestions including:

  • creating a calendar to track who needs to be where when;
  • getting a good babysitter/good daycare – here is an excellent place where grandparents can be helpful (especially if you share with them this research which suggests that babysitting grandchildren could lower risk for Alzheimer’s);
  • and making time for personal, meaningful activities.

Every individual and every family will have its own practices that seek to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to engage in meaningful activities while supporting family relationships. Time is precious.  What do you do that is meaningful in your family?  What suggestions would you have for those who may be struggling or new to this journey?  What confessions are you willing to share about the shortcuts you may take to balance life?  We would love to hear from you.  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

What’s on the menu?

This week I found myself rolling and baking 150 meatballs.  Doing so is part of an effort to help meal planning during those days when life becomes exceptionally hectic. In theory, I believe that if I have healthy, homemade options for quick meals on hand, we will be more likely to choose these over processed or fast food on days when dinner is an afterthought following a long day.

What’s for dinner?

There seems to be a moment in every household where someone asks: what’s for dinner?  This is the signal to say that the troops are hungry and want to be fed.  Responding to this inquiry requires an understanding of the options available:

  • Has someone thought ahead and made sure necessary ingredients are defrosted and/or otherwise ready to prepare?
  • Are all the required materials on hand to make a particular meal?
  • How long will preparation and cooking take?
  • Is sufficient time available to ensure that all can eat and still get to meetings, lessons and practices and do homework?
  • Who will do the work? Is that person willing and able to do so?

For many households, considerations must also be made in regards to the nutritional content of a meal:

  • Is it balanced?
  • Does it contain a protein, starch, vegetables and dairy?
  • Does it meet the needs of the various individuals in the household taking into consideration allergies and other health problems?
  • Will they eat it without a significant battle?

The weight of responsibility

Taken together, all of these considerations can feel like a big responsibility for the one who cooks.  Poor choices can lead to battles at the dinner table or worse, compromised health for some members of the family.  At times, the effort can feel overwhelming especially when the person has already had a long and tiring day.

As the primary cook in our household, I admit that there are times when I don’t want the responsibility of deciding what we will eat let alone preparing it.  My brain may be fried from the day’s work or I may be physically tired.  When that happens, more often than not, it means we end up getting fast food because no one else wants to cook.  While such choices are reasonable in moderation, it isn’t the ideal.

Increasing options

Over time we all develop a sense of the ebbs and flows of life.  We begin to anticipate those times when we are busiest at work, when the children are busy with their activities, and when we are most likely to be in that place where we would rather not cook.  This is where things like pre-made meatballs can be helpful.  Added to frozen pasta sauce made during harvest and store bought pasta means a well-balanced meal with little effort that the family will enjoy.  During the year we will also make various soups, turkey/chicken pot pie, lasagna, chili and more.  The key is to provide something for those nights that is easier than fast food.  For the most part, this works in our house, at least during the winter.

How about you?  Does your household have nights when no one wants to cook dinner?  How do you seek to balance the needs of the family when it comes to meals?  What tips and tricks do you have that you are willing to share?  Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Busy Schedules

Now that school is in full swing, many families have returned to the hectic schedules that fill our

We interrupt your regularly scheduled life to bring you your child’s hockey season!

calendars. Meetings, appointments, lessons, practices, work, competitions and games can keep us busy from the beep of our morning alarms until the time we collapse into bed.  As a result, our priorities as parents often shift as we attempt to negotiate how to meet these demands.  Sometimes it feels like we spend hours of our day playing chauffeur to our children as they go from one thing to the next. At times, it can feel overwhelming, trying to ensure that our kids’ needs are met while also making sure that we get done what we need to do.

We have a calendar to track who is where when.  Our house doesn’t live 9am to 5pm as was once the norm.  Work requirements have both hubby and me at evening meetings and events.  The kid also has evening priorities.  We had dinner together Saturday and Sunday evening but Monday, hubby has a meeting, Tuesday the kid is in school until 6:30pm, Wednesday the kid has a dinnertime meeting, Thursday the kid is in school and at lessons until 8:30pm and I have an evening meeting.  So, it will be Friday before we can have dinner as a family again and we are only 3 people.  I can only imagine what it is like negotiating the calendar for more children!

Still, we try to make the time we have together meaningful.  Every effort is made to ensure that we have at least a little time each day to reflect together on what has happened.  Sometimes this is essentially limited to the moment before bed where we pray together, identifying something which makes us mad, glad, sad or scared, something for which we are thankful and what we hope to achieve tomorrow.  This typically provides some insights into our journeys individually and as family.  It is a moment in time, but remains something important for all of us.

We also pair off and connect.  Time in the car going from one event to the next is spent in conversation giving us an opportunity to hear from the kid about the challenges and blessings of life.  Hubby and I take time each day to share the challenges and blessings of work.  Sometimes these are small moments, but, for us, these moments matter.

I know, our schedules are not unique.  Families today face similarly hectic days that make it difficult to connect.  How does it work in your home?  How do you try to ensure that the needs of all family members are met?  In what ways do you try to connect with every person, catching glimpses of life as they seem to fly by?  What commitments does your family make to be together at least for some moments throughout the week?

Share your thoughts and practices in the comments.  Who knows, it might inspire something new for someone else.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Sexual Health

What do you know?

Sex Education

It seems like an ironic juxtaposition of events: As educators, parents and a variety of advocate groups seek to take on the Ontario government to reinstate an updated health curriculum created through consultation with many different individuals and groups, news of sexual indiscretions by Catholic clergy comes to light.  Information and commentary about these two circumstances have been a constant presence on my news feed throughout this summer.  This post highlights initial thoughts about the former situation. A vital thread connecting these two moments in time are the questions: to what extent and at what point should children learn the details about their private parts.

It is interesting that we have no problem singing songs that help teach kids names of parts of the body – head and shoulders, knees and toes, eyes, ears, mouth and nose.  Some, however, get a bit squeamish when it comes to teaching the proper names for private parts and instead use euphemisms.  Doing so, some believe, helps to maintain the innocence of children.

The challenge, however, is that these euphemisms are not universal.  What happens when, following an uncomfortable situation, a child reports that someone wants to play with their ‘dinky’ or take their ‘cookie’?  This language can be easily misinterpreted by other adults leaving the child vulnerable to abuse.

Of course, learning the proper for genitalia is only one part of the solution.  As this article highlights, it is also important to give children agency over their own bodies.  Children need to know that they can set boundaries and that body secrets are not OK. They need to have the tools to say no when they are faced with an uncomfortable situation and know that they won’t get in trouble if they tell a trusted adult about a problematic encounter.

These are conversations that can and should happen at home.  There have been many nights when dinner conversation around our table included frank discussions about sexuality from a very early age.  Having a kid who could read at age 4 and a parent who worked in the sexual health and social justice research lab at the University of Windsor, meant that some questions came up.  As one common story is told, I was asked: “what is a condom?” after my six year old had read the word on some interviews I was reviewing.  I responded in an age appropriate way and have continued to respond to questions ever since.

I am grateful that my kid has felt comfortable asking questions about sexuality and sex.  At times, so much so, that some of the questions actually came from friends.  Having a comprehensive sexual health curriculum can be helpful in ensuring that all children and young people have the tools they need to navigate their own sexual journeys in healthy ways.  This has proved evident in the Netherlands, where such education has contributed to lower rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among teens.

Still, the topic remains controversial.  Thus, we would love to hear your thoughts.  At what point did you learn the proper names for your genitalia?  Do feel that you were adequately educated about sexual health in school and/or at home?  To what extent do you talk about sexual health with your children?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Ariana Grande

Changing the script

Before my child was born, I attended a women’s retreat with my mother.  During our reflections, I admitted that I wanted to have a daughter so that I could teach her to be strong, independent and able to defend herself against any and all forms of misogyny.  The facilitator looked me in the eye and asked, why not wish for a boy so you could teach him not to be a misogynist?

It’s an important question.  So often we think of what we can do to teach women not to be victims or at least empowered enough to fight in the face of violence.  There are seminars offered at universities that teach women how not to become victims of sexual violence.  We teach girls how to keep an eye on their drinks at parties, to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid certain places and situations.  We arm girls with tools throughout their lives and yet #metoo.

The world was watching Aretha Franklin’s funeral.  When Ariana Grande took the stage, Bill Clinton enjoyed the performance from behind.  Afterward, Pastor Charles Ellis III called Ariana back onto the stage, wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close.  The pastor later apologized for being ‘too friendly’.  Still, the photos remain a catalyst for conversation.

The reality is that most women have experienced this very situation.  We know what it is like to be in public and feel like some man has held us too close and in a way that has us walking away feeling uncomfortable, questioning what has just happened, wanting to say something but expecting that it would be pointless.  Should we teach our daughters that this is the reality, men don’t typically mean anything by it, just let it go?  Or, is there another possibility?

Among the many tweets #RespectAriana about this moment are comments that affirm the length of a dress does not indicate an invitation.  There are messages confirming that Ariana’s body language clearly showed discomfort.  There are statements that say having your wallet open does not mean anyone can take money from it.

Conversations about women’s bodies are shifting, highlighting that we can’t simply rely on women to protect themselves, rather we need to teach men that women are not objects for their consumption.  Imagine what might happen if parents and teachers used the photo of Ariana Grande and the Pastor to teach boys that when they see that look, when women appear to be wanting to move away – that is a clear signal! They have crossed the line! LET GO!

We need to teach boys the importance of respecting women.  We need to teach boys to take responsibility for the ways they view and treat women.  We need to help boys and men recognise that they have the ability to be allies to women, helping other men recognise the ways in which social expectations about gender continue to undermine the agency of women and perpetuate the belief that women are objects for men to enjoy.  We need to teach boys and men to not rape and/or sexually assault women.

#metoo has helped to bring to light the many ways in which women suffer the consequences of a culture which reinforces norms where male sexuality contributes to perceptions of masculinity.  Parents and teachers can use these tools to help provide an alternative script for relationships.  It is an important opportunity.  How has this been used in your experiences at home and at school?  Do you see a shift happening?  To what extent have you participated in these kinds of conversations?  Let’s talk.  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Back to school…

This morning my timeline was filled with photos of children heading back to school.  I must admit, there was more than one photo that caught me off guard.  Facebook does this because it allows us to connect with friends we don’t necessarily see very often.  As a result, we see photos of children we remember as infants who are now making their way through school. Time flies.  My kid is starting university this week.

On days like this, it is easy to get nostalgic.  We may look back through our mind’s eye to the many first days of school that we have had with our children.  We may think about that first day of kindergarten, dropping our child off in a room filled with toys, books and activities especially well-suited to learning.  We may remember the gentle smile on the face of our child’s first teacher.  There is something about kindergarten teachers.  They have a way of making children and parents feel at ease.

We may also search ourselves for memories from our own school days.  I remember when somebody had given our class an appliance box – I think from a stove.  Our teacher allowed us to decorate it and create a playhouse.  At the time, I was the only one small enough to go inside so I had full reign of what to do there.

A lot has changed since I went to school.  Back then, we walked to and from school with our siblings and friends.  There was no expectation that we would be driven to school – we had two legs, we walked.  Nap time was part of kindergarten.  Most children went home for lunch.  At the time, it was still possible for families to survive on a single income.

Back in my time, there wasn’t a lot of technology in schools.  Teachers wrote on chalkboards and we neatly copied notes and did questions in our lined books. Research was done using encyclopaedias and card catalogues in libraries.  When computers did finally appear in schools, these were used only in computer classes where students learned to program, saving their work onto cassettes.

Students today might find all of this a bit tedious.  Internet search engines like Google are way more efficient than indexes and card catalogues.  In fact, some may already have voice technology at home – meaning they can ask a box a question and get answers for most of their queries.

There are definite advantages to becoming proficient in such resources.  These are important tools not only for education but for life.  Through the Internet, I was able to find out how to install crown molding.  I also use it extensively for research for posts.  Access to and use of these resources by students provides an important foundation on which our children can develop a future that will again be different from what we know today.

Google “children preparing for jobs that don’t exist” and you will find a variety of posts highlighting that upwards of 65% of children in primary school will end up in jobs that don’t already exist.  To prepare, our children need problem-solving skills and proficiency with technology so that what they don’t learn at school can be accessed when needed.  This is the task of the school system today.  The way we educate, needs to shift and change to meet the future needs of the students.  It is not an easy task and, sometimes, it means that parents need to adjust their sense of what learning is in order to better support our children.  Such is the reality of the 21st century.  So, let’s grab our phones, take and post those first day of school photos and then get friendly with google so we are ready when our kids get homework.

Are you ready?  Let us know what you think in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/