Time to book training?

It’s already July 6th.  From a normal perspective, that means we aren’t even to the middle of summer.  But from a Head Start/EHS perspective, that means a rush to get preservice training planned and scheduled.

At Babies Can’t Wait, we normally schedule 3 to 4 months in the future. So, some of our consultants are already booked until October. But others still have preservice time available.

Please contact me if you are interested in bringing our expert consultants to your program.

In August, we have openings in:

  • Promoting Positive Prenatal Services Training+Consultation (PPPO)
  • Fiscal Consultation

In September, we have openings in:

  • ERSEA Consultation
  • PPPO Training+Consultation
  • Fiscal Consultation
  • Our newest training+consultation – Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes – The Health Check!

In October, all areas are open:

  • Relationship-based Training for EHS Home Visitors
  • EHS Group Socialization: Parent-Child Groups that Rock!
  • Advanced Home Visiting Strategies Training+Consultation
  • Early Literacy Training+Consultation
  • Cross-Cultural Communication Training+Consultation
  • Individualizing for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities Training+Consultation
  • Infant Toddler Development Training+Consultation
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes: The Health Check Training+Consultation
  • PPPO Training+Consultation
  • Fiscal Consultation
  • ERSEA Consultation

Hope you are all having a great summer!

Warmly, Linda, the BCW Lady

Home Visitors: Let’s Talk Story

“Talk Story” is a description of a speech style used frequently in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.   The meaning behind it is to talk in a conversational manner rather than to teach or lecture someone. Talking Story means giving the family the opportunity to share as much of or as little of themselves as is comfortable.  For the home visitor, it means slowing down and listening – rather than always being the one asking questions and writing down answers. It means talking in a conversational style rather than asking questions like a researcher or teaching as if you were behind a podium.

Be professional.  When I use the phrase “Talk Story”, in relation to home visitors, I am adding a professional component to it.  As a home visitor, you are building a relationship with a family by your attitude and style.  But you are also in the home for more than just conversation.  You are there because your program has a mission and goals, and the children and families you visit somehow fit that mission and are appropriate for those goals.  So when a professional like you talks story, you are not only using it as a technique for building a relationship, but also as a teaching/training tool.

You may be paid to visit a family, but you are still a guest in the family’s home.   Use this opportunity wisely and Talk Story.  It can lessen fear, anxiety, anger and increase the beginnings of trust building.

Many people listen and learn better to a conversation or story than they do to a lecture or teaching.   Help put others and yourself at ease by being appropriately friendly and Talking Story.

Think back to trainings or workshops you have attended.  See if you can remember trainers who made you feel at ease, made you feel good about being in their session.  Now, think about what made you feel good.  Did the trainer acknowledge you? Smile at you with their eyes as well as their mouth?  Welcome you?  And what about their lecture and conversational style?  As a trainer myself, I know that it takes a very skillful trainer to stand up in front of participants, teach them, and make that teaching feel intimate, personal and friendly.  When expert trainers talk story, it’s more than just a conversation.  They get the training message (the information and learning) across to participants while using a conversational style.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because you are, in many ways, like those expert trainers.  You just do it one-to-one.  So your skill in talking story becomes even more important because lecturing and other didactic styles become even more obvious when there are only the two or three of you.  So practice talking story on home visits – you’ll find it gets easier and becomes more natural over time.
Warmly, Linda
The Babies Can’t Wait Lady

 Talking Story
Lyrics & Music: Linda Kimura
Ho’o ho’o ka’a na maka

 “Talk Story, talk story, we’ll sit and just talk story
The waves may rise, the sun may fall
But you and I, we’ll have it all
Talking story, talking story
Talking story, talking story
Brothers and sisters talk story” 

“Oh Auntie left and waved good bye
Sitting up in that plane so high
What shall we do without her smile?
Remember and talk story
Talking story, talking story
Talking story, talking story
Sisters all talk story”

 Na Keiki run; Na Keiki play
And you and I we watch them
They shine so bright, the sun looks down
And sees us all talk story
Talking story, talking story
Talking story, talking story
Sees us all talk story”








Veterans Day – who are we thanking?

Another Veterans Day come and gone. I thanked our vets as always and with deep gratitude. But, this time, Veterans Day left me pondering who we are really thanking – and for what….

I know I thank all veterans of all wars for taking time out of their personal lives to work, and often fight, on behalf of the rest of us.  I am also thankful to the military who serve during peace times. They also commit to service the rest of us do not.

But what exactly are we thanking them for?  I ponder this after seeing the following post on Facebook: (If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a soldier)

What exactly does this mean?  If you don’t read English, you can’t thank a soldier? If you live in a country that speaks another language, you can’t thank a soldier?

I worry the meaning is much more biased: If you don’t read English, you must live in a country where English (the only good language) is not spoken.  In other words, only English-speaking folks are good enough and they all live in the US.

Am I over-reacting?  Our wonderful country was built on the back of immigrants – many of whom did not speak English.  We still have immigrants arriving in our country every year – looking for freedom to practice their religion, to speak their views, to live a better life.  (For the purposes of this blog, I am speaking of legal immigrants only)

When immigrants come to this country, they receive many messages that English is the good language and other languages are not as good/powerful/accepted.  But this goes against research:

Lily Wong Fillmore (1991) tells us “When parents are unable to talk to their children, they cannot easily convey to them their values, beliefs, understandings, or wisdom about how to cope with their experiences. They cannot teach them about the meaning of work, or about personal responsibility, or what it means to be a moral or ethical person in a world with too many choices and too few guideposts to follow. What is lost are the bits of advice, the parents should be able to offer children in their everyday interactions with them. Talk is a crucial link between parents and children: It is how parents impart their cultures to their children and enable them to become the kind of men and women they want them to be. When parents lose the means for socializing and influencing their children, rifts develop and families lose the intimacy that comes from shared beliefs and understandings.” 

Bialystok, 1991; Corson, 1998Durgunoglu & Verhoeven, 1998 tell us children experience significant linguistic, cognitive, social, and cultural gains when they become bilingual at an early age.

Oh – and then there’s that other issue: Why are WE speaking English?  All of our ancestors (unless we are Native American) immigrated to America where there already existed thriving cultures and thriving home languages.  But instead of learning the language(s) of the land to which we immigrated (as we expect others to do), we forced the native population to learn ours and proclaimed English the language of the land.

By the standards we apply to those who immigrate from other countries today, we should be speaking a Native American language, not English.

So thank a veteran for taking on a hard, lonely, dangerous job. Thank a veteran for protecting us in a way most of us cannot. Thank a veteran for loyalty, for service, for making sacrifices -far too often the ultimate sacrifice.  But don’t thank a veteran for the fact that we speak English. That’s racist and it just plain doesn’t make sense.

Warmly, Linda, the Babies Can’t Wait Lady



Whatever It Takes: Successful Schools Prepare Children for Life

Note: This Blog entry summarizes and expands upon a wonderful article in the September 2011 Smithsonian Magazine by LynNell Hancock titled “Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?” Links to Ms. Hancock and the article are below.

The small country of Finland has greatly improved the reading, writing, and science literacy of its children over the past 10 years – partly because teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to help children learn. Teachers in Finland consider themselves to be preparing children for life.  Ninety-three % of Finland’s students graduate from academic or vocational high school (17.5% higher than the US); 66% go on to higher education (highest % in the European Union) and yet Finland spends 30% less per student than the US.

Finland’s schools were not always wonderful. Until the late 1960s, most children left school after 6 years (Finland was emerging from under the Soviet Union).  As Finland charted its future, a dream emerged – every child would learn in a good public school, no matter where that child lived, – everyone would be educated, and school resources would be distributed equally.

Some say this tiny, ethnically homogeneous country cannot be compared to large, ethnically-diverse countries. However, when LynNell Hancock visited Finland schools for Smithsonian Magazine (September 2011 issue), she found schools similar to Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive in Espoo ( a suburb of Helsinki) where more than half its 150 elementary students were immigrants – from Somalia, Iraq, Russia, Bangladesh, Estonia, Ethiopia, and other countries.

Finland’s education success has inspired and confused many – and even irritated some American educators and administrators.  What is it about Finland and its educational system that seems to work? Let’s take a look at a few of the differences:

TEACHERS: Teachers in Finland are considered professionals, and respected on a par with doctors and lawyers.  They all obtain their Masters degrees in education, paid for by the state. Autonomy and respect make the job attractive.

STRATEGIES: Teachers use many methods to support children. If one method doesn’t work, they have the autonomy to consult with colleagues and try another method. This could mean combining classes. It could mean using new materials, or old materials in a new way.  If a child needs special help, the child receives that help. Nearly 30% of Finland’s children receive some kind of special help sometime within their first 9 years of school. Teachers ensure children have time to play outdoors, even in the middle of winter – we value play, say the Finns.

CONTINUITY OF CARE: Elementary teachers often stay with the same group of children for a number of years in contrast to US teachers who usually have different groups of children every year.

TESTS & COMPETITION: In the US, government officials, business people, and philanthropists like Bill Gates put money into private sector ideas that involve competition.  Indeed, President Obama may be on the same path with the “Race to the Top” initiative which requires states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers.

This would not be tolerated in Finland.  In fact the goal of Finnish education is to teach children to learn how to learn, not to learn how to take a test.There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland (except one at the end of high school senior year). There are no rankings, no comparisons, no competition between students, schools, or regions.

Note: What does this mean for learning? In the worldwide 2009 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores, Finland was second in science, third in reading, and sixth in math out of nearly 1/2 million children worldwide. United States scores have been in the middle of the pack for the past 10 years.

DISABILITIES: The Finland national goal for the last 5 years has been to mainstream all children – to teach all children in the same classrooms, with lots of special teacher help available to make sure no child is left behind. Only the most severely impaired receive segregated learning.

DUAL LANGUAGE LEARNERS:  The only time dual language learner children are pulled out of regular classrooms is for Finnish as a Second Language or occasionally for special “preparing” classes taught by experts in multicultural learning especially for children who are just learning the Finnish language.

Note: All children in Finnish schools learn Finnish and Swedish, and then a 3rd language (usually English) beginning at age 9.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Finland turned over the accountability and inspection of its schools to teachers and principals. All schools are organized into one system of comprehensive schools (Peruskoulu) for ages 7-16. Resources are distributed equally so children from rural areas receive the same education as children from affluent suburbs and inner cities.

It’s not perfect – Finland economics are suffering, and a huge influx of immigrants has strained the system. Still, there are questions to be pondered, and maybe even a lesson or two to be learned by those of us who grew up in and espouse the western ideal of competitive education.  It’s not easy to look at a system so different from our own, and take heed of what they might do better than our way.  It’s easy to see the differences – it’s just not easy to accept that there might be some better strategies.

I’m not advocating the US switch to the Finland system of education.  I believe there are significant differences between our countries. For example, Finnish schools provide food, medical care, counseling, taxi service if needed – and student health care is free.  OK – I really, really wish we could do that for every child in the US.  But I’m practical enough to realize that’s not going to happen.

But I do wish our government officials, business people, and philanthropists would occasionally dream beyond our system and imagine what it might be like if we could incorporate some of those strategies that seem to work so well for Finland. Unfortunately, we aren’t the leading country in education –  not by a long shot.  But we can do better – so I end with a plea for every parent at every school that’s not working that well: Read about other school systems – like Finland – and ask yourself – what is one small step our school could take to enhance how it treats students, how it treats teachers, how it supports learning?

To read the entire wonderful Smithsonian Magazine article by LynNell Hancock, click HERE

Warmly, Linda
The Babies Can’t Wait Lady 


Cross-Cultural Communication

The Office of Head Start says 84% of Head Start classrooms across the US contain children whose parents do not speak English as their primary language. The National Center for Education Statistics says over 1/3 of students in Pre-K through grade 12 classrooms are from minority groups, and families of an increasing number of students are immigrants – many with native languages other than English.

Often teachers and home visitors are not prepared to deal with the challenges of working with children and families of many different ethnicities/cultural/linguistic backgrounds. Communicating with parents from different cultural backgrounds brings new challenges to teachers and home visitors beyond just language issues.  This is because communication itself is tied to culture.

Elise Trumbull, EdD (from the Bridging Cultures Project describes it like this: “For example, an immigrant Latina mother from rural Mexico may expect to intersperse personal talk with academic talk during a parent-teacher conference (ed note – or on a home visit). She may be more comfortable with indirect questions than with direct inquiries about her goals for her child and perceptions of his development. The teacher (ed note – or home visitor), on the other hand, may view the conference (home visit) as an opportunity to focus on a child’s academic progress and gather information to help that particular child achieve further. She may regard social conversation, beyond a greeting, as a digression”.

Ms Trumbell continues: “In addition, the assumptions about child development and schooling that underpin the content of a conversation between parent and teacher may differ. The parent may be just as concerned about her child’s proper behavior as she is about his test performance, whereas the teacher is focused primarily on academic development. Unfortunately, while all of these differences can come into play in a parent-teacher conference, they tend to remain invisible and may result in misunderstandings and discomfort.”

The Babies Can’t Wait Lady reminds you to remember that conversations can be cross-cultural even when teacher/home visitor and parent are of the same ethnic background because the teacher/home visitor has probably internalized the values of the mainstream culture through  her/his educational process.


Dual Language Learning: Bilingualism is good for the brain!







Here’s a link to a great article on dual language learning.  It turns out the longer a person has spoken or more languages, the greater the cognitive impact.

  • Speaking two or more languages appears to enhance executive function — the ability to focus on the information needed to complete a task.
  • Bilinguals with Alzheimer’s disease retained brain function longer than those who spoke only one language.
  • The “cost” of bilingualism is that bilinguals may have smaller vocabularies in each language.

THX to Karen Nemeth for posting this link on LinkedIn!