The BCW Lady says:  We SING in all our Workshops, accompanied by my on my trusty Ukulele.  I love to take traditional songs and put new words to them – words that celebrate what home visitors and teachers do – Here’s a sample:

That’s What Home Visitors Do!
Lyrics: ©2002 Linda Kimura; Melody: from Disney’s Cinderella (the Bibbidy Bobbidy Bo Song)

Driving the distance to make home visits
Helping the families set goals
Always remembering to follow through
That’s what home visitors do!

 Planning with parents for children’s learning
Health and nutrition for you
Parent-child groups teach expectations
That’s what home visitors do!

Now, making home visit means keeping a smile on your face
But the thing-a-ma-bob that does the job
Is building up trust every day

So…….
Teach cues and signals while you talk story
Constantly learning what’s new
Make up home visits the end of the week
That’s what home visitors do!
That’s what home visitors
Those great home visitors
That’s what home visitors do!

 

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
©2000

 “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

 

 

Magical Family Meals – featuring Jeff & Shirley’s Autumn Meat Pie

 

Children who eat dinner with their parents are healthier, happier, and better students. (Article on CASA Study/Columbia) Children who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to receive mainly A’s and B’s in school than children who eat with family 2 or less times per week. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found family dinner (and its benefits) gets better with practice. When families eat meals together less often, the food is not as healthy, there is not as much conversation, and the TV is more likely to be on. CASA tells us the older the child, the more important family meals become – but younger children are much more likely to share meals with parents than teenagers.  In the study, a majority of 12 year old children ate with their parents compared to only 25% of 17 year old teens.

We all know the importance of reading to children and playing with them. Here’s a newsflash- a recent Harvard study found family meals were more important to children’s vocabulary than reading or playing! (Article on Harvard Study)  It appears the simple act of sitting together as as family has a positive effect on children even when conversation isn’t particularly insightful or profound.

WebMD lists the following benefits of frequently eating together:

  • Everyone eats healthier meals.
  • Children are less likely to become overweight or obese.
  • Children are more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
  • Children are less likely to drink alcohol.
  • Children probably won’t try marijuana.
  • Children are less likely to use illicit drugs.
  • Children’s friends won’t likely abuse prescription drugs.
  • School grades will be better.
  • Parents and children will talk more.
  • Parents are more likely to hear about a serious problem.
  • Children will feel like parents are proud of them.
  • There will be less stress and tension at home.

It’s not as easy as saying – let’s all do family meals. Families are busy – parents are overworked, children are overscheduled – life is full.   WebMD (above) also provides 10 tips for organizing family dinners.

In the meantime, here is a link to a great video featuring Jeff and Shirley’s Autumn Meat Pie. It makes 8 servings – and re-heated leftovers are delicious!  Try it and enjoy it!
SHIRLEY & JEFF’S AUTUMN MEAT PIE VIDEO AND RECIPE
(Hint: you can substitute low fat cheese for full fat, and nonfat evaporated milk for heavy cream – crescent rolls come in a lower fat version as well)

Warmly, Linda, the Babies Can’t Wait Lady

 

Nursery Rhymes and Early Literacy

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Jack & Jill, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Rock-a-bye Baby  - perhaps you remember them from your childhood and maybe you sing them to your children or grandchildren. The use of nursery rhyme games and experiences is a helpful early literacy strategy for all children, and seems to be especially helpful for young children with disabilities. Unfortunately, it seems that fewer and fewer parents share nursery rhymes with their young children – and only about 50% of the youngest generation of parents know all the words to traditional nursery rhymes. Cell Reviews, 2011, Vol 4, No 3

In the Cell Review article linked above, Carl Dunst, Diana Meter, and  Deborah Hamby examined the relationships between nursery rhyme experiences, knowledge, awareness, and both phonological and print-related skills in a review of 12 studies of 5299 preschoolers. Results showed nursery rhyme measures were related to both phonological and print-related literacy outcomes, and nursery rhyme experiences and knowledge proved to be the best predictors of outcomes. This supports the importance of the relationships between young children’s nursery rhyme abilities and their phonological and print-related skills, including emergent reading.

Please consider this blog post a Wake-Up Call to all parents out there regarding nursery rhymes and early literacy. Nursery rhymes are not old-fashioned or embarrassing to quote to children. In fact, nursery rhymes support children’s emergent reading and writing competence.

Warmly, The Babies Can’t Wait Lady

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!
http://news.discovery.com/human/bilingualism-language-brain-function.html

Only 50 Different Words

GREEN EGGS & HAM
Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” using only 50 different words.  Why?  After “The Cat in the Hat” was a success (using only 236 different words), Dr. Seuss’s publisher (Bennett Cerf) bet him $50 that he could not write a book using just 50 words.  Evidently Dr. Seuss could not refuse a challenge and “Green Eggs and Ham” was born – another Seuss Classic!  Since then, “Green Eggs and Ham” has sold tens of millions of copies and is the fourth most popular children’s hardcover book of all time!  Thanks to Southwest’s Spirit Magazine for information from the biography “Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel” by Judith and Neil Morgan.