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One of the definitions on the Merriam-Webster dictionary for scaffold is a supporting framework.

Wikipedia defines scaffolding as  a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures.

Based on these definitions, the training wheels on a bicycle, is an example of scaffolding. They are adjustable and temporary and provide the child with the support they need while learning to ride a bike with 2 wheels. Having the training wheels make the complex task of pedaling, balancing and steer (all at the same time), much easier until the child can do it on its own.

Scaffolding can also mean that a large task can be broken down into smaller tasks (to make it easier to accomplish).

In education, scaffolding is an instructional technique where the teacher models the desired learning strategy/task, and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students, whether is by giving more support at the beginning and gradually taking it away (training wheels) or by learning something in smaller steps.

Scaffolding can also be used to help your children develop certain physical, cognitive or linguistic skills.  Imagine your child is playing with a musical toy for the first time. Parents usually show the baby where the buttons are so it can turn on the music. Then, you expect the child to ‘learn’ how to do it on their own. If they can’t do it, you might point to the button, and hopefully the child now learns it. This might have to happen a few times before the child knows what to do. That’s exactly what scaffolding is. The parent gave more ‘help’ at the beginning and gradually moved the responsibility to the child.

Scaffolding gives the child a context, motivation, or foundation to understand the new information. Having success from the beginning makes the child have some interest or curiosity in the task presented. Also, breaking a complex task into easier, more “doable” steps facilitates success.

So next time you see your child attempting to learn something, how are you going to use scaffolding techniques to help them?


Play stages: Associate Play (3-4 years)

Today is week 3 of our Play stages blog festival! Today we’ll talk about Associate Play.

By 3 years children start interacting with other in their play and there may be fleeting cooperation between in play. This cooperation is it is however a loosely organized fashion. During associate play the more mature child soon emerges as the leader or organizer. They develop friendships and the preferences for playing with some but not all other children. during this stage play is normally in mixed sex groups.  Children are now recognizing shapes, letters and colors, solving jigsaw puzzles through mixture of thinking and trial and error. They play cooperatively together and take turns with other children. Show more reasoning skills and asking questions for instance ‘why’ and ‘how’. During this stage they are also start pretend play, for example playing  house, dressing up and cooking.

Next week we’ll talk some more about pretend play!

Is your child now playing in cooperation with other children? What do they like to play?

Are you a controlling or a passive parent?

I am very sure you already have heard of the “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua and her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, where she talks about the difference between how Western cultures raise their children and how she raised her daughter “the Chinese way”. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check this link, and maybe this video. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Ok, so now you have some idea of what I’m talking about. I haven’t read the book yet (but I will!), but I have read many articles about this and I think this is a great topic for debate.

This is what “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua says about parenting the “Chinese way”. She did not accept any grade  less than an “A” from her two daughters, and did not allow T.V., video games, playdates or sleep–overs. Chua believes typical Western style parenting is too relax and focuses on self–esteem over performance. She told Meredith Vieira on the Today show: “To be perfectly honest, I know that a lot of Asian parents are secretly shocked and horrified by many aspects of Western parenting, including how much time Westerners allow their kids to waste — hours on Facebook and computer games — and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future. “It’s a tough world out there.”  

Chua says that Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.

So, I ask you, parents out there: Which one is your parenting style? a tough, strong, parent, kind of like my way or the highway, because I said so, or more lenient, soft, relaxed with less boundaries and rules? I really can’t answer the question because I’m not a mother yet. But as a daughter I can say that, well, there HAS to be a balance!

Any thoughts?

Why tantrums?

Ahhhh The Holidays are here! I get excited to just walk around the mall and see all the stores decorated so pretty! Of course the mall is full of people doing their (sometimes last minute) Holiday shopping. And once in a while (sometimes a lot more!) you’ll see a poor mother or father dealing with a tantrum! Kids get cranky and when they get cranky, they have tantrums. You see tears, kicking, screaming and sometimes even holding their breath!. I feel terrible for the parents. I am sure they are feeling embarrassed and like they are not doing a good job as a parent. But I also feel bad for the child. I see them frustrated, tired and desperately seeking attention from their parents and it makes you wonder, why do they feel a tantrum is the only way?

Well, a tantrum is basically an accumulation of disappointment, sadness, frustration or anger. It is also a child’s effective, although inappropriate, way to change a “no” to a “yes”. In this case, tantrums are a means of getting a desired result (object or action). Or they might be seeking attention.

Sometimes kids are frustrated because they feel hungry or tired and then the tantrum occurs. Other times they want to have more control over their choices (they want to play with that toy, RIGHT NOW!). Tantrums are more common between the ages of 1-3. This is a time when children are exploring and testing the world. If something doesn’t go their way… well, you guessed… tantrum!

But how is the best way to handle those tantrums? I guess you’ll have to wait for next week’s post to find out 😉

Are there any other reasons you think kids have tantrums? Please share it with us!

photo: iStock

How to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day and every day

The History of Thanksgiving

The history of Thanksgiving (although there is debate about some of the details in the story) starts in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. The festival lasted for three days (just like we do now!). For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Current Thanksgiving Traditions

In many American homes, the Thanksgiving celebration centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey is  a Thanksgiving tradition and nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird—whether roasted, baked,  deep-fried, or grilled  (I can’t wait to taste it grilled!). Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Yummy!

Giving Thanks

The point of Thanksgiving is to remember the things we have to be grateful for. It’s our special time to give thanks… not just for the obvious, like food, but for the thousands of fortunate moments, the multitude of blessings that we receive each year.

That’s not always as easy as it sounds. Usually, we remember the bad things much more easily than the good (why is that?). Here are some ideas how to make it a habit to be thankful every day:

  • Begin by keeping a gratitude journal. Don’t write down negative things; only positive ones.
  • Think of all the good things that happened because something bad happened first. For example, “If that slow driver hadn’t pulled in front of me, I would have gotten a speeding ticket.”
  • Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t have.
  • Think about people who have made life hard for you. Now think about the things you accomplished because of them. Did you finish something because they said that you couldn’t?
  • Think about the animals that have given you joy.
  • Think about the places that make you smile.
  • Let others know when they’ve done something that you’re thankful for.

So, what are you thankful for? One thing I am thankful for, is your support! Thanks for reading my blog!

photo: iStock

4 tips for a stress-free holiday!

Could this be possible? To have a stress-free holiday? Well, I am all about being positive  but I really don’t think there’s such thing! Stress-free means that you are not doing anything and during the holidays there are lots to do. However, we can plan to have a fun holiday and not let the stress ruin the day. So, I guess the title of this blog should’ve been How to enjoy your holidays (even though there’s a lot to do!), but it was too long. So, here are my 4 tips…

  1. Plan ahead: Is there anything you can do before the holiday season starts? If you know you are having guests for Thanksgiving or Christmas, start preparing in October. You can buy and wrap presents, and who said you couldn’t decorate the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving?
  2. Clean the house: One of the main things we like (and ought) to do is clean the house. Start earlier (see tip #1) and tackle one room at a time. Make it fun and involve your kids. Have some drinks, some cookies, put on some music and clean away!
  3. Make a list: Make a Christmas list, a shopping list, a cleaning list, a guest list, etc. After you finish a task from each list cross it out, put a check mark, or highlight it, and reward yourself! (Starbucks, anyone?)
  4. Small Steps: If you start early (tip #1) and know what you need (tip #3), then you can do everything in small steps. Another main reason people stress during the holidays is that they want  to accomplish everything in 1 or 2 days… before the holidays! Don’t commit to something impossible, it leads to frustration.

Well, as I write these I am writing my first list: My Thanksgiving dinner guest list! How exciting! How about you? 

photo: iStock

A birth story: My experience

Some of you that know me, know how I excited I was when my two friends asked me if I wanted to be with them during the birth of their first baby girl. When my friend called me and told me that she and her husband, wanted me to “help” them during the delivery, I said yes without thinking about it. Although I have one niece and a nephew,  and I was the first person they saw when they came out of the delivery room, I have never been inside the delivery room. So, I thought “what an honor, and what an experience that must be”.

But I have to be honest, I was a little scared that I couldn’t handle it. But after the experience, I have to say, if you haven’t been present during the delivery of someone you care for, try it! It’s such an amazing experience!

I know this blog post is a little different than my usual tips and advice about music, language and child development. But I really wanted to share this amazing experience with all of you.

Although we (mother-to-be, father-to-be and me) were in the hospital for about 27 long hours, waiting for the baby to be ready to come out, it wasn’t that bad (the new mom also agrees… now). After the first 15 hours, her contractions were getting stronger. When someone is in that much pain, what is one to do? Nothing I could say was going to help her. I really wanted to do something but I felt useless. Here is my friend in pain, i’m supposed to be helping and I can’t do anything. But I was hoping I was giving her some moral support. I tried everything.

And that’s when the most beautiful thing (at that time) happened…epidural! Now, everybody has their own opinions and can make their own decisions about this. However, my friend decided to get the epidural and I have to say, her face completely changed! So, around 6am she finally started to get some rest (thanks to the epidural) and I was still doing ok!

The rest of the day was…well… uneventful. Then, 5pm came and so did the pressure/contractions. Let me tell you, that was painful! But when we were pushing (yes, we were ALL pushing at this point!) she felt better and we were making some progress. By 6pm the beautiful baby girl was born! I can’t even explain the emotion I felt when I saw that baby come out, she was just inside! We were all excited to finally meet her and now… she’s here! It is truly a miracle of life! 

Now, mom, baby (and daddy) are doing wonderful. And this “aunty” is very happy to have been present during this exciting moment.

So, to all the mothers out there, many blessings to you! Carrying the baby for 40 weeks does not look easy. Then comes the pushing, or getting epidural, or surgery. But no matter how you delivered that baby, I can understand now a little better your pain, and how scary and confusing the situation can be.

Thanks to my friends for letting me be part of this magical, and truly amazing experience. And who knows, maybe soon i’ll be writing about my own birth story… 😉

Do you have any birth stories you want to share with us?

photo: iStock