J Simens.com

I Owe Asclepius a Rooster


RoosterI love philosophy. But to truly understand it you need to work with five-year-olds.  They are “so” connected with knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. They are knee deep into these things and still uncensored in their thought process.

 

Do you know philosophia? 

Some days we use speech bubbles, this allows the group to listen better when one child is speaking, and they know where to look because the speaker is holding the speech bubble over their head.

Some days when I teach, I ask them to use their thinking bubbles.  Thinking bubbles mean we have to make a connection to the story and share what we are thinking.

These are some of my favorite thoughts from five-year-olds:

  • I think that adults lie because they are afraid to go to timeout.
  • I think my maid is the smartest person in our house, cause she never loses things and helps all of us find our things.
  • I think my brain has too much information, but my hand is still in pre-school and can’t keep up.


What can you do when your brain doesn’t match your hand?

I am not saying that five-year-olds are not critical. They can be very critical. One little girl told me, “My family is just not right, I have to wait.” When I clarified with her about the things she had to wait for, it was all the things I hate to wait for also.

–       waiting at the airport for the plane

–       waiting for the Santa to show up

–       waiting for the summer holiday

I am not saying that five-year-olds lack rational argument. 

As I tried to get, one little boy to re-twist his PE shorts around so that his legs were parallel to his shorts (pants) legs instead of having two real legs coming out of one shorts (pants leg). Hope you are following this. He replied, “Why? My legs still run fast.”

Five-year-olds embrace “philosophia” which literally means “love of wisdom.”

If you have not entered a kindergarten classroom – you need to.  This is where real learning is often taking place. This is where no questions are too ‘stupid’ to ask, and this is where connections can be made in seconds!

If you don’t know where the title of this blog comes from- 

These were the dying words of Socrates, the number one philosopher of all times, d.399 B.C. 

Now a look back at expat family history –

Simens Rooster
Simens Rooster – What is he thinking?

Never underestimate the power of a young child. When it comes to brainpower, a child has you beat. The metabolic energy consumed by a child’s brain is 225% that of an adult, so this might explain why is it so hard to understand my own child’s request for a simple dinner. As I start to prepare our dinner, my child, makes a simple request.

“Mom, can we have chicken breathe?”

My son is almost four-years-old, but he does not have a speech issue or the inability to describe food, so I am stumped on what type of food he is talking about. I do the general questions Moms ask their children when we are puzzled.

“When did we have that? What is it? Did I make it? What is it? What does it look like? What is it?

I felt like a broken record because I just could not understand what he was asking for. We were lucky enough to be living in Indonesia, and my husband and I both work fulltime, we have a nanny, so I am quick to get her advice on what type of food my child might have eaten with her.

We asked about “chicken satay” and got out the wooden sticks they typically are cooked on, and my son nodded his head back and forth with “no, no, no.” We knew this was not the correct food. We then tried Ayam goring (fried chicken) this also brought out a negative response.

The following day we tried Ayam Taliwang, this is roasted chicken served with a peanut sauce, again the response was negative.

I decided that perhaps my son was not talking about the local food but about something that I had cooked on the weekends, so I started to prepare our typical American chicken food.

It is not a fried chicken breast.   It is not chicken strips. It is not chicken fingers. (What is the difference between these – strips and fingers?) It is not a baked chicken where he can pick any part of the chicken he wants first. It is not easy to find out what “chicken breathe” really is to a young child.

I ask for additional help by calling in his six-year-old sister. She decides we need to try other chicken dishes from around that world that is often served in our household. She thinks it might be chicken fettuccine alfredo. She loves this, but he says “no”.   Perhaps this is why she said, “It must be chicken fettuccine alfredo!”

Then we try a chicken cacciatore, again a favorite hit for us but a “no” from my son. Finally, my daughter,  says it has to be chicken noodle soup.

By now every chicken in Indonesia was running for cover worried that Ms. Julia would once again try another chicken dish.

I make a huge pot of chicken noodle soup and proudly serve it up to Grant. As he shakes his head again with a “no,” I am certain that there is no such thing as “chicken breathe.” Slowly, my four-year-old pulls each and every noodle out of his bowl and carefully lines them up on the table. When his bowl is almost empty, he grabs a spoon, throws a huge smile up to me and states, “chicken breathe.”

If I had only known that “chicken breathe” was “chicken broth.”  Life would have been more comfortable in the Simens household that week.

At times, in my dreams, I still see a chicken running around the world with his little beak pushed out. The chicken is blowing air all over the place, huffing and puffing. Finally, some of that air falls into a bowl, and my son is happy!

I am sure if my son had asked for Chicken Essence by name, we would have easily found it!

Chicken Essence Simens
Chicken Essence is 7% protein

 

Expat chicken soup
Spicy?

 

 

Sometimes raising expat children causes you to be creative.  Imagine how it would be to try and explain this international treat to your children.

I always encourage expat families to share their unique stories. I also feel the printed word sometimes does not do justice to a story.  Take time to build those oral stories that will earmark your time as expats so your children will benefit from knowing first hand the emotions that are part of their own life stories and then they can pass them on to others that join in the interest of their global lifestyle.

Pet Rooster

http://www.anujpradhan.com/2005/12/mobile-blogging-unfortunate-signs.php

Photo – Rooster: http://bucharestlounge.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/rooster-bob-marion-rose.jpg

 

 

How to Survive the First Month of School


Parents (locally and abroad) search for things that make their children successful. What would you do if I told you the top three ways to help your child were free? Would you take time to help your child be successful?

School Buses

Every Family needs help when it comes to school success – three free tools!

The backpack already has some crusty unknown item on the corner, the colored pencils are half in the smashed box, and half of them in the bottom of the book bag and your family wants to know how it can survive the rest of the school year. I want you to focus on that but also what you can do to help your child for the rest of his/her life.

Parents need to focus on what is most important to a child’s success. I know the focus of academics is what most of us what to focus on.  It is easily measured. Somewhat confrontational – you just have to get the grades and for many families this focus in never ending. The “B- ” really needs to be an “A.”  But we “A” could be a “higher A” so it factors into the honors at graduation. Academics is the wrong focus.

Focus on friendships more than academics

According to a recent study, friendships is what parents need to focus on. Adolescent social connectedness was a better predictor of adult well-being than academic achievement. Please read that sentence again and share it with your family. When kids have a lot of friends in childhood and adolescence, they tend to grow up to be happy adults. I am not saying grades don’t matter, we all know they do.  I am saying turn the focus so at least 50% of the time you are aware of the social and friendship needs instead of just the academic pressures of school.

Concentrate on breathing

Practice this with your whole family: Put one hand over your heart and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Focus on the air coming into your lungs and on how it feels as your belly expands. Pause briefly, relax, and then exhale through your mouth, counting slowly to five. We all know this simple exercise will diffuse stress, cause us to focus, and to keep ourselves from overreacting. But we seldom teach our children to breathe! We need to let them see this in practice so Mom or Dad…breathe in public so your kids can see the benefits of this simple free tool.

For students the power of breathing is amazing. Research has shown us that focusing on their breath can be powerful for students: It reduces stress, stimulates creativity, boosts test scores, and improves focus.

Focus on play and family time

Don’t stress out your children.  I love the concept of play time, down time and family time.  This video explains “PDF.” Play-Down-Family

Comments off

Life is just functional if you are not connecting as a global nomad


A reflection on my first teaching job

My point is after we cover Maslow’s hierarchy of food, water, shelter, safety, and security- after our basic needs are met, we need to belong. We need to connect. We need to belong to a family, community, a race of people, a tribe, and a great school.

We need to connect when we don’t connect – life is just functional.

Many global nomads travel around the world but only half heartily work at connections. They are always saying “when I get home”  or “I can’t wait to go back home this summer.”  Yes, I can relate, but I also know how important it is to make a strong connection to your host country. You need to be connected to your experiences so live each day for a connection and be glad that you were able to find one in this hectic world we live in now.

Notes on presentation – Focus on Reconnection from Keynote at Bangkok Teacher’s Network –

Let me take you back to “my world.”  I spent 20 years in North West Kansas in the USA –  traveling about 300 miles from my home to exotic family vacation in places such as Cawker City to see the world’s largest ball of twine. A ball of string that weighs about nine tons and has a circumference of 40 feet.

Or when we went to Coffeyville to see a replica of a two-pound hailstone that fell in Kansas on Sept. 3rd. 1970.  I grew up in a very “exciting” place in the Midwest; my hometown was the Cow Chip Capital of Kansas.  Every year people from around the world would come to my town to throw cow chips like a frisbee to see how far they would go.  We had a population of about 120 people in our city, and during the Cow Chip Capital festival, the place would grow to over 500 people.  That was my life.

ER cow

History – going from there to here

You’ll never believe what happened!

I got a scholarship to study “education” in Hawaii so having never been on a plane, I left Russell Springs, Kansas to study on the island of Oahu in a small Catholic university.  Graduation came too quickly – Hawaii is lovely.  I decided to continue the island lifestyle and took a job on the Island of American Samoa.  Now, this is why it is amazing that I am standing here talking to a room full of educators.  I almost quit my first week of school.

I liked the small thatched garbanzos of shelters that served as our classroom that overlooked the ocean.  I loved the breeze and the cement floors and as I settled into my classroom without any walls, I had visions of teaching reading and writing to my kindergarten classroom of 16 students.  I was excited and nervous. Eager.

 I reconnected with my principal who had hired me in Honolulu and thought I was all set. On my way out of school, I stopped by the school office to see if anyone else was around and got to meet my new vice principal.  Here stood one of those Amazon type men, famous football player like and actually “huge” Samoan man in a beach sarong or as they are called in Samoa lava-lavas.  I tell you this was the largest, shiniest – shirtless man I had ever seen.  I should have seen the bear hug coming, but I did not.  After I slipped out of this massive bear hug first-day, I collected myself and decided to ask some fundamental first day questions any new teacher might ask.

“Is it possible to get a blackboard for my classroom?”  and “What exactly should I wear to school – or what teacher’s dress code do you have?”

This 350-pound man, leaned back on backed heels, glanced at me from the head to my toes and backed up, cleared his throat and replied, “I like all of my teachers to wear a top- when they are teaching.”

I knew I was not in Kansas anymore.

Imagine me – coming from north-west Kansas by way of a Catholic university planning to show up topless on my first day of school.

I had to write home and tell my family about this island encounter. (way before email and skype). We all must find humor in our lives and share those jokes.

As expats, it is vital that our family back home knows what we are doing, so they get this connection to our real life.

My blackboard did show up the next day. Well, it wasn’t what I thought a blackboard should be like.  My blackboard was really a piece of plywood and a bucket of black paint.  But I was determined to have something to write on in the classroom besides the sand outside the room. So I painted my board – black and then attempted to get it dry in the tropics during the rainy season.

 Which brings me to another huge concern for a new teacher – if the paint won’t dry. Image with the moisture and humidity does to a box of chalk.  This was the first time I cried due to my job.  I was starting to think Kansas might look pretty good about right now.

BUT my real teaching problem had not even started! 

My first day of actual class with students – again, almost had me in tears.  What new kindergarten teacher needs three sets of identical twins in their first classroom experience!  Six of my students – were just a clump in my head that I could not separate.

 Of course, I could get the two American blond boys from the two Samoan black haired males and the two Samoan black haired ponytailed girls but I couldn’t get Term and Tin straight, I couldn’t get Tasi and Tessi figured out and I could not get Sasha and Sara figured out.

But I did connect to those kids.  I did connect to the other teachers and I did connect to the school.

 Connection is the core of all good educators. 

 The connection is one thing we all have the power to do.

 

 

Starting a New School? Tips to Help Your Child


 

Are you excited or nervous?

Are you excited or nervous?

 See the new environment

Families often do not use their new school until the start of the school year. I always suggest to my parents who are moving to call the school and ask them if you can bring the children in to see their new environment. This often takes some anxiety off the first day of school, but it also allows you the opportunity to ‘run into’ other new families or those families that are involved with the school. These are both valuable resources. You can ask them, “Where do kids this age play or hangout?” as you point to your children. You ask them, “What are you finding to do while your family is still in the rental apartment? Sometimes this on-site visit gives your child the opportunity to see what other kids are wearing, so they don’t get stunned on that first day of school. This can be very important if the school does not have a uniform. Most kids just want to belong and not stick out too much.

Get a local resource person

Use the school secretary as a resource. Ask the school staff, “Where is the best playground around here?” – “What activities do kids in this school get involved in?” I have had students take a weekend class on pottery to find out that a child in that class would also be in their grade or classroom in a few days. Make sure your child understands how many sections or classrooms there will be with kids their age. When a child moves from a huge school to a small school, it is important for them to realize how important first impressions might be because there is a smaller pool of possible friends. This also is important if your child is going from a tiny school to a larger school. Often the first days of school have grade level assemblies or school assemblies; your child needs to know if these will be in a group of 40+ or 400+. The more information a child has on their new environment, the more in control they might feel.

Proper use of “Family Time.”

Use family time as “out of home time” not “bonding in your environment.” The more exposure your child has to get around the new town, eating at the local places close to school and knowing the names of the large streets or apartment buildings gives them more to talk about the first two days of classes when friendships are being formed. Often we are stuck in a service apartment while waiting for the shipment to clear customs. This means we have very little to do and can easily get on each other’s nerves. Take that energy and go out to explore the new environment.

#1 Rule for Success

My number one rule for all parents is – Do not show up late to the start of the school year. Friendships form so quickly that a kid that misses out on the teacher trying to make class connections with peers, he/she will suffer. This also means do not show up to school with an overly tired child. Getting off a plane on Sunday to start school on Monday can set up a child for social failure. As parents of global families, what has been your “rule of thumb” or “success strategies” that work for you family? I’d love to hear them.

Note: Related posts to starting a new school – New schools and emotions and Ahhh – Survived the first week of school

 

 

 

Comments off

Five Minutes to Make You Think! Join FIGT17NL in The Hague (March 2017)


Lucky you! On March 24th – I bet you will be glued to your seat listening to seven experts in this global world.

Ignite

What can you say in 800 words!

At an Ignite event, each speaker has a time limit of five minutes and must use 20 slides with each slide advancing automatically after 15 seconds. This forces speakers to maintain a rapid pace. At a just-comprehensible clip of 160 words a minute, Ignite speakers can utter about 40 words per slide, making a total of 800 words for the whole talk.

Volunteers organize FIGT17NL Ignites – we ask participants to speak about their ideas and personal or professional passions. Ignites all over the world have one motto, “Enlighten us, but make it quick!”

AT FIGT17NL in The Hague, you will get to hear these great topics from these experts!

 

Expat Networking in the New Age  by Rita Golstein-Galperin  

Business cards? Fluorescent-lit ballroom with too-warm hummus, boxed wine, and stiff suits? Over-rehearsed elevator pitch? Ditch all of those. If you are looking to truly connect with people and (re)create your tribe — it’s all about your “value funnel”. No, we will not be seeing the light at the end of it, but we will learn step-by-step strategies to truly connect with people, build lasting relationships and amplify your expat experience through people around you. It’s the new-age networking reality.

How a TCK English Teacher in a Hungarian Village Created a Globally Local Network by Megan Norton

Megan had lived in eight countries before she decided to uproot herself again to move to a small village on the Hungarian-Austrian border to be an English teacher at a secondary school. Having moved all her life, she assumed this transition would be “seamless”, never imagining the challenges she would experience adapting to life in a post-Soviet developing country. In this Ignite session; Megan will capture the culture shock and the community she navigated in this small village. From implementing the “Flat Stanley” project with her students to integrating herself into community development initiatives, she will showcase how single, young, independent women can build their “tribe” abroad across networks.

Finding Your Voice, Your Tribe, and Hearing Other Voices Through Blogging  by Janneke Muyselaar-Jellema 

Janneke uses a blog to raise awareness, to create a platform to share comments, to increase coping skills, to give parents and educators insight into the world of (adult) third culture kids. She will share her experience of blogging over the past five years and more than 200,000 page views later. Through her blog, she has found her voice, enjoyed the freedom of the Internet, and found her tribe. She will give insight on the dilemmas of choosing the language to blog in, popular topics and how we can use blogging as a tool to raise awareness

The Power of Team Sport to Create a Diverse Tribe by Lisa Travella-Murawsky 

When thinking of the word sport, what often comes to mind? Do you think of physical fitness, skill development, competitiveness, and coordination? While many of these attributes contribute to the excitement and enthusiasm for team sport, it is possible to think beyond these borders and use terms such as community, common language, welcome, and inclusivity. This Ignite introduces how the Brussels Sports Association (BSA) model enables families in global transition to find a tribe outside of the traditional work and school communities. It answers the questions: “How is the common language of sport able to break down traditional barriers, and allow the expat family to find a relaxed, non-intimidating tribe quickly? What are the crucial elements in the BSA sports model that encourage this sense of belonging and collaboration for a diverse busy expat community?

Childhood Losses, TCKs, and Identity Development by Maria Lombart

This Ignite considers TCK childhood losses and how they influence identity development. When an adult TCK considers their identity, they may not relate it immediately to the liminal experience they had as a child, living between cultures, and to the repeated losses of identity anchors. It is vital that TCKs understand this layer of their experience and that parents of TCKs be prepared to manage the effects of loss to strengthen the positive aspect of constant moving.

Exploring the ‘Why,’ the ‘How’ and the ‘Who’ of Muslim Expatriates by Maryam Afnan Ahmad 

Is there such a thing as the Muslim Expat? Does the term expatriate even apply? Are they a single homogenous community? Are they represented, underrepresented or worse, misunderstood? What factors may be limiting their participation on forums like FIGT? How does one engage, empathize or even understand this community of Muslim expatriates? Given the current political and social world climate, Muslims all over the world are caught in the glare of renewed intensified analysis. Maryam is a Muslim ‘chronic expat’ herself and would like to use her presentation to take a look at the Muslim expatriate experience and whether it is different from other oft-documented expatriate stories. Her main focus is to find answers on whether it is possible to practically increase understanding of and engagement with Muslim expatriate communities.

Finding Joy and Abundance as an Expat – Planning For Your Fulfilled Life Abroad by Terry Anne Wilson  

The complications and emotions of transitioning can offer little time to cultivate our own personal growth, especially when ensuring children are settled. Empty-nesters also find transition challenging as school networks no longer exist. Deliberate steps can be taken to identify your skills, strengths and most importantly, your passion. Building a life in a new country provides the ideal platform to carve a new path, seize new opportunities and establish a ‘new tribe.’

Please join us at FIGT17NL to hear these fantastic presentations!

Notes:

The first Ignite was held in 2006 in Seattle, Washington, United States (US), and was the brainchild of Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis.

Comments off

Let Me Tell a Story about When I Was Little . . . Said the Four Year Old


Some things would make moving easier . . .

Some things would make moving easier . . .

Starting a new year is the perfect time to have your child share about their life!

Connections

Children love stories and hearing interesting stories about family members or friends help children feel more connected to those around them. Children love to hear stories about when they were younger as well as stories about when their parents were little kids.

A Look Back at This Year

Now is the perfect time to have your child reflect on what they did last year. For a child who is four — thinking about what they were like when they were three allows them to rejoice in their growth. Now is the perfect time to also work on helping your child understand his/her emotions.

If your child gets stuck working on an emotion, take that same feeling from your childhood and expand on it, so he sees the rich language and expressions of your childhood event.

Sometimes the more complex an emotion is, the more likely that you might need to share that feeling from your childhood for your child to understand. Also, this allows you to actually connect with your child.  If your child can understand how you felt when you were his age, it builds on family connections.

Your child can develop better listening skills and learn to ask questions during story times. You children hear new words as they listen to stories, which can help build their vocabulary. Children who hear lots of stories learn how stories work. They learn that characters solve problems and how stories begin and end. This helps them understand other stories they will read later in their school years.

I Learned a Lot Today

I found out that one child was afraid to swim when he was younger but now he smiles when he swims in the big pool.  One girl used not to be able to paint and now that she is big five-year-old she can mix colors. She said her face used to be sad, but now it is joyful. One often silent boy told me how when he was little he could not build Legos and now that he was four and 1/2 he could build great big towers.

Children love to tell stories about when they were little! Please encourage them to talk about how they have grown.

Expat Children Can also Tell Interesting Versions

Some of the international kids, that I work with added these comments:

  • When I was little I didn’t speak Mandarin, but now that I am big I speak Thai.
  • When I was little, I lived in Italy, and I didn’t like noodles now that I am big I eat Thai noodles.
  • When I was little, I could dance the Bali frog dance, but now I can also do Korean Dances.

I have to say, you just have to love the thoughts and comments from expat children. Expat children love to tell stories about when they were little! Please encourage them to talk about how they have grown. Then let them share this knowledge with their extended family.

My Favorite Free Digital Storytelling Tools

  1. Capzles
    Create multimedia experiences with videos, photos, music, blogs, and documents.
  2. Comic Master
    Create your own graphic novel, add backgrounds, choose characters and props to appear in your scenes, add dialogue and captions.
  3. MapSkip
    The purpose of MapSkip is to create a weave of stories about the places in our lives. Create a free account and mark places in Google Maps with your own stories and photos.
  4. Slidestory
    Slidestory allows you to combine picture slideshows with voice narration. Each picture in a slideshow has an accompanying voice narrated mp3 audio file, optional tags, and text caption.
  5. Adobe Slate
    This lets you turn your next newsletter, report, invitation, or travel adventure into a visual story. Create your Slate story and share the link anywhere.
  6. Sock Puppets
    Sock Puppets lets you create your own lip-synched videos and share them on Facebook and YouTube. You add puppets, props, scenery, and backgrounds and start creating. Hit the record button and the puppets automatically lip-synch to your voice.
  7. Toontastic
    Toontastic is a storytelling and creative learning tool that enables kids to draw, animate, and share their own cartoons with friends and family around the world through simple and fun imaginative play! With over 2 million cartoons created in over 150 countries, parents and teachers rave about the app and kids can’t stop creating!

 

 

Comments off

Are Izzat’s a dying breed?


MemoriesTo children who successfully navigate a lifetime of change, the world is a garden of exotic gifts, a house of treasure to explore and take in. Transferred from place to place, young and porous, global nomad children collect and absorb experiences. Their personalities become amalgams of those cultures they internalize and claim as their own. Perched for a while in a new environment, they experience each move as an occasion for growth, a chance to blossom in new ways.

From – Unrooted Childhoods -“ Memories of Growing Up Global

Not Wanting to be at the International School

It all started 16 months ago.  Izzat walked into my international school. He did not want to be here. He had moved to a strange country. He did not speak English, and he wanted to be safe at home with his Mommy.  He was five years old.  This was his first school experience, and he was 5,000 miles away from what he had called home.

Izzat’s parents were eager to fit into their new location, and they wanted their son to fit into school. Izzat was scared he didn’t want to be here.

We spent the first ten days of the school year joined at the hip.  Or I should say, as long as Izzat could hold my hand or my leg as we walked around the campus trying to do my counseling job. Many of the other students asked if he was my son.

I could get Izzat to go to recess because he liked to play with the balls.  I could get him to go to lunch because he was hungry. As far as going to class, he had not bought into the fact that school meant ‘learning.’ He didn’t understand that school meant doing what the teacher wanted and being with a whole bunch of other kids his age.

Finally, he decided to like the smaller English as a Second Language class, and I was able to have periods of time in my office without Izzat. His parents were wonderful, but they did not know how to help him. His teachers were excellent, but they could not get him to stop coming to my office whenever he got stressed or confused. They were wonderful, but he just was not comfortable in their environment. His peers wanted to support him and help him, but he often would run away from them and seek me out.

It was a very long time to get Izzat comfortable enough to stay with his peers. whWe gradually went from mastering the comfortable zone of one activity towards another one.  We were blessed that the Physical Education teacher asked Izzat to stay longer and help with the other classes where there were other five years olds. This free time allowed me actually to see some of the other kids I was serving. Slowly the need to be by my side was replaced to be near the other adults in his school day. Slowly his ability to communicate in English became stronger.

When it was time for Izzat to start school his next September at our school, he acted like a real pro.  He only stopped by once in a while to chat.

But That First Week of December was a Sad Time for Me. 

Izzat ran across the playground, yelling in English for his friend to stop. Izzat said, “Wait for me!”

He grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze and then it quickly it became a full body hug. It was quick but intense.

He said, “Ms. Julia, I am moving to a new school.”

I replied, “I will miss you, when will you leave?”

Izzat proudly stated, “Before Christmas.”

Then he ran away to play with his friend.  As I turned to go into my office. He ran back.  “I will really miss you.”

This is a child that has mastered making friends, learning a new language, being a risk taker and being bold. At our school, he had many houses of treasure to explore and take in.  As he moved to his new school, I hope he took the lessons he had learned here. He had successfully navigated a lifetime of change in just 16 short months.

Christmas is always an interesting to time to reconnect with family and friends.  Sometimes, when I least expect it, I get a note from parents I have worked with or from their children. Today as I was searching for a unique Christmas decoration, I ran into the note I got from Izzat when he was going to get ready for his last semester in High School. I remember his small hand tightly clutching mine, and I wonder how big and strong his hands are today.

Sometimes Christmas memories make me cry.

world heart

Are Celebrations Like THANKSGIVING Good For Us?


What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory? Why are these memories important?

Postcard of memories past

I am often asked, “How can we identify risk factors for our children, so potential problems are minimized?”

My Top Three:

  1. Family is the key
  2. Knowing your ‘emotions’ is essential
  3. Family memories and family traditions build strong kids

Do emotions help make more ethical decisions?

I believe they do. If the child cannot understand their emotions or tune into the emotions of others in their family or with peers, this is a huge risk. If the child is unable to make ethical decisions, they are a risk to themselves and a danger to society.

If the child does not have a sense of “family” this is a huge risk. The impact of a strong family identity and the connectedness factor is often long lasting, giving messages to the child that they are loved and accepted and belong to a wider network of people who matter.

It is my perception that no child is immune from pressure in our current, fast-paced, stressed filled environment so families have to be aware that at any time in their life a child might need help and support. They need to cope better with everyday challenges and be able to bounce back from disappointments. The concept of resilience is straightforward if you think about kids needing to thrive emotionally, behaviorally, academically and interpersonally. Families need to use Thanksgiving as a time to connect.

Cross- cultural impact of this holiday

I often tell parents that their perspective on an event is not the same as their child’s.  Sometimes the smallest things can be misunderstood.  Every year, as a family, we try to do the traditional turkey and stuffing as we celebrate this event.  Imagine my confusion when one of my children wrote in a school journal!

“My favrit Thanksgivn dinr is turkey stufed with tacos”  or translated into adult-speak…

“My favorite Thanksgiving dinner is turkey stuffed with tacos.”

What I commonly called my “Thanksgiving stuffing” was full of great things. Besides the usual bread and chopped onions simmered in butter, it had celery, sage, and sausage.  Living in a Muslim country for most of their young lives, ground pork or sausage was not very often served in our home.  We did have our fair share of tacos with ground beef. It made complete sense to my child that we had tacos inside that big old bird!

I often decorate things to make the special event even more ‘unique.’  I have been known to put candy fall leaves on my sugar cubes. I have made little stocks of wheat out of vegetables and sunflower seeds. I have even written names on brussel sprouts just for the fun of it.  I wonder what my kids wrote about those traditions? Or if the teacher even believed that was what happened at our home on Thanksgiving.

I love to celebrate!

Happy Thanksgiving Jsimens

First Impressions vs. Fixing the Bad


How something appears is always a matter of perspective

How something appears is always a matter of perspective

As the author of “Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child“, I have worked with over 8000+ families as they relocate around the world.

The child’s image (social or self) is critical on how successful they will be in the school setting.  It seems like summer holidays just started, but International teachers and students are already heading back to get ready for another school year. What happens if your child starts off the school year in a negative way?

 

Bad raps happen

Getting a bad rap is as easy as one lousy comment made at the wrong time, or not reaching out to the right kids on campus. Sometimes it can be for liking the ‘bad’ teacher. It can be for wearing a weird t-shirt or even not wearing your hair in a style they are used to seeing. Amazing how quickly a community will judge others. Even more amazing how this happens in schools!

Parents can be vital in helping their child learn to negotiate in this important social climate. Not all parents help! Sometimes, parents can do more harm for their child because they are the ones creating the negative feelings, so it goes from the mother or father being pushy to the child being obnoxious in the minds of others in the community. When in fact, the child has not done anything. Don’t set your child up for failure because as a parent you are overstepping your boundaries. As parents, we all want to connect with our child’s teacher, but she doesn’t need a new BFF. Other parents see your interactions, and it might create some negative feelings from other parents as well as the teacher.

 

What parents can do

Change

Change the perception

Using simple language and being truthful. “In the past, my daughter was rude to others, but now she is older she understands how important it is to work together on those joint projects.”  These type of words given to other parents while working on the PTA, or attending school events will help shift the thoughts about your child. But a parent can never take the responsibility of their child’s behavior and fix it.  If your child needs to make an apology, it has to come from your child, not you.

 

Tips for kids

#1 – Search out a child that is well liked and try to see why you are so different. Are you standoffish and he is warm and welcoming – seek to master one skill this ‘expert’ has that you do not.

#2 – Compare yourself to the peer group you would want to be involved with. Do they all wear school colors and you just wear black? Don’t copy them. Most kids want to connect and be part of a group, so acquire some of their articles. If everyone carries a backpack and you still have a roller case for your books and supplies – change. If everyone eats the school lunch, try to give up your homemade brown paper sandwiches.

#3 – Understand the importance of good impressions and see each new situation in a school as new and give it your best shot. Sometimes a change in one class will leak over into other situations you are involved in. With any change, kids and teachers will start seeing you in a new light. You don’t have to be the quiet Freshman you were, or the awkward Sophomore you were – hone your intuitive style and make a new start this year.

 

Tips for Parents

#1 – Do not say to  your child’s teacher, “Must be nice to have had the summer off!” Instead, say something like “I hope you’re refreshed and ready for ten months of go, go, go!” Remember that a lof of teachers spend their summers upgrading their credentials or planning coursework. Keep your passive-aggressive comments to yourself.

#2 – Don’t try to discuss major issues during the drop-off time, instead set up a meeting with the teacher. Major issues need to be brought to the teacher’s attention ASAP such as a death in the family, a divorce or a recent move, but these can be done by email, so the teacher knows the needed information. Let the dust settle at the start of the new school year and then set up an appointment for the minor things you feel the teacher should know about your child. Remember when you are dropping off or picking up your child, the teacher still had 20+ kids that he or she is taking care of so this is not the time to talk.

#3 – Don’t freak out over class placement! Not everbody gets the teacher they “think” they want. Another teacher might bring something unexpected to the table. A child not being with their best friend might open up a whole new world of socialization and skills.

Good thoughts

Notes:
Photo – http://awakentoyourdeeperself.com/healing-limiting-core-beliefs-shifting-perspectives/
Comments off

To all the Mom’s with Seniors: We have had the best job in the world


Education is one of the most important things that I value in life.  This is why I went to seek out the principal of the school and ran over the highs and lows of my child’s time at his school.  I  called it my exit interview. I felt it is important because as an educator that is not being paid by his school, I could be honest, timely and truthful about my feedback.

 

Children who will be ready to excel in college are the ones that have already failed.

Did they miss an assignment and their parents didn’t ask the teacher to ‘lighten up’ on their child?  Did they oversleep and their parents didn’t call and lie to the school? Did they miss out on an A by .07 and their parents said “Looks like you worked hard and I am sorry that you didn’t get what you wanted” but the parents didn’t comment about the teacher or gloss over the sadness of missing something so close. These parents are the real winners in the world.

Good parents = Good Job = Wonderful Kids

How do you measure success? Please let your children have some stress in their lives so they can grow into the best they can be.

stress diamond
Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child

For parents who have children that have grown up in a different country than their passport country, you might have some ‘interesting’ things to face. Where should your kids go to University? Where should they look for summer jobs? How or where will they get identification besides a passport?These are a few of the things you will have to iron out with your expat child.

Some things that I found out the hard way:

Getting a US driver’s license is hard due to all the rules and requirements. Many of my friends don’t own a car in the USA so their kids can’t take a driving test, you need to show proof of insurance and valid registration and rental cars won’t work.  Nevada has a great law; you have to have insurance in the state of Nevada, but you don’t have to have car insurance to drive the car off the car dealerships lot.  Oh, but yes, you do get a $100 fine if you then try to register the vehicle because you drove it without insurance.

A child might be good at flying all over the world, spend weeks traveling with friends in Europe but can’t get a hotel room traveling in some states in the USA because they are not 21 years old. If they were in the USA military, they could rent at 18 years old.

Using a company mail pouch can cause concerns in several areas. Your child might be labeled as coming from that address, so, therefore, they get pegged as a student from that state when in fact they are international.  Learning to pay bills online is easy but having to understand the US post system can be hard for some children who have always lived overseas.

Laundry can be a challenge for any child so let them do their own before they head off to Univeristy.

Connections to all family members – encourage your college student to reach out and make contact to all siblings, both mom and dad, and grandparents. Often in the past, communication was done in person or initiated by a parent to the grandparent. Make sure your college kid has a way to connect with everyone.

Hug every change you get your child soon will not be walking across your kitchen several times a day and as a parent you will miss that!

Comments off