Saturday, July 23, 2016

Are You Sharing Poetry with Your Young Ones?

In no way shape or form am I an expert or even a connoisseur of poetry. I can't tell you about or name more than a couple of the many forms of poetry, without doing a little research - haiku and limerick are two I know, for example. However, I know what I enjoy when I read and am often inspired to read something aloud to enjoy it more fully. Reading poetry aloud increases the understanding and appreciation of a poem for both the reader and listener.  Give it a try!

I own an old set of Child Craft books, my mom bought them when I was a child. I poured over each volume individually as a child myself and I remember my mom reading to me from them when I was very young. The one I most remember being read to me, was the one filled with poetry for children.

I have and am still trying, on occasion to share a bit of rhythmic and/or rhyming verse with my teen children, usually at times when I have them captive; at the dinner table or while doing homework in a common space in our home. They may roll their eyes and and grin at each other when I do but there are times when a little poetry reading fits the occasion. Something might still sink in and quite possibly bring them a new insight or appreciation of rhythmic verse.

The poem below is delightful and perfect for reading following the common midwest summer experience of discovering a milkweed plant. If you are really lucky, you'll find a beautiful monarch butterfly on the milkweed and you'll be able to turn the experience into a unit study or you and your children will be inspired to write a few summer poems of your own!

Dainty Milkweed Babies

Dainty milkweed babies,
Wrapped in cradles green,
Rocked by Mother Nature,
Fed by hands unseen.

Brown coats have the darlings,
Slips of milky white;
And wings - but that's a secret,
They're folded out of sight.

The cradles grow so narrow, what will the babies do?
They’ll only grow the faster, and look up toward the blue.
And now they’ve found the secret, they’re flying through the air,
They’ve left the cradles empty, - do milkweed babies care?

First two stanzas found in STANDARD CATHOLIC READERS BY GRADES SECOND YEAR by Mary E Doyle. (page 28)
The third stanza not attributed.
If anyone knows, please comment.

Based on personal experience, I have learned that most poetry is best enjoyed by hearing it or reading it out loud. The rhythms and collected together sounds of the words bring new appreciation when heard. Doing a few poetry readings or listening together can be lots of fun.

Enrichment Studies offers excellent resources for engaging children in the arts including poetry. The packages they offer are clear, easy to use and visually appealing. Check out what they have to offer by clicking on the image below.

The book Poetry Speaks to Children is wonderful collection of poetry meant for children that comes with a CD for listening. It includes poems by Jane Yolen, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni and other great wordsmiths. If you don't feel like reading, just listen to a few from the CD together. An excellent activity for a little quiet time on a summer afternoon. 

Available form amazon.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Another Gymnastics Season Completed

She did it! With an outstanding All Around finish in 11th place in her age group at USAG Level 9 Eastern Nationals my daughter, Adah, has another gymnastics season under her belt.

After a few minor set backs of illness and family financial considerations this year, Adah had a fantastic season competing USAG level 9. She does the hard work of training and conditioning and we do our best to support her through each season. We are fortunate to have a young gymnast who appreciates the commitment and sacrifice it takes from her family for her to excel in this demanding sport.

A gymnast's season encompasses it all!

Congratulations, Adah on another year well done!
Adah's 2016 season on youtube

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Supporting a Young Woman in the Toughest Sport

Participating in gymnastics demands a continual intense focus and commitment. It is an unforgiving sport and the opportunity to pause and savor an accomplishment is somewhat limited. Immediately following any competition, a gymnast is right back in the gym for practice and improvement. There is hardly a break before pushing on to achieve the next skill and reach the next level of competition. Expectations from coaches are high and reveling in victory is barely encouraged. There's not much celebrating in the end zone in this sport.

On April 10, 2016 Adah competed at Level 9 Regional Championships in Bourbonnais, Illinois. She placed 4th All Around and qualified for USAG Eastern Nationals.

In my role as gym mom for this young athlete, my responsibilities include, providing high quality meals and education about healthy nutrition, insistence on adequate rest, and continuing attention to academics. Plus, providing the important emotional support for the general overall well being of my daughter. Emotional stability and mental balance is an important factor for athletes. Young athletes need support and guidance to navigate through the intense emotional, as well as physical demands of training and competition.   

Here are a few suggestions for addressing the emotional development of a young athlete while participating in a high demand sport:
  • Do fun things! It's important to do unrelated, just for fun activities on a regular basis.
  • Maintain family activities outside of the sport. Regular family meals, for example, despite the training schedule.
  • Encourage and support other interests outside of the sport. Art, crafts or music can all be enjoyed as a way to take a mental break.
  • Acknowledge the demands of the sport. A tired athlete needs to hear that what they are doing is intense and tiring.
  • Acknowledge participation as an accomplishment. No matter what happens in competition, dedication to regular training is an achievement. Commitment deserves a pat on the back regardless of the results.
I try to remind Adah of her many accomplishments as a competitor and team mate. I remind her that where ever she places at a meet, she has achieved success simply by being there. Like the many young athletes participating in this sport, she has developed an amazing command of her body, she has learned the skills of hard work, discipline and perseverance. In acknowledging to her the value of those skills, I hope to boost her confidence as a young women in all areas of her life. Given the hard work she has done, documenting and sharing her success is an important part of the process of her growth as an athlete and more importantly as a young woman striving for excellence. Above all, we (her parents), express to her our continual joy in her as a young woman, no matter what happens in gymnastics!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating the 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day, USA.

We are celebrating in our usual fashion with the local parade, food on the grill and other typical summer time cuisine, we will spend the day outdoors in our suburban backyard with the company of family and friends. The evening will be topped off with a few fireworks (carefully supervised).

This year I'm adding a reading of the Declaration of Independence to the mix. Find the text.
The festive nature of the high summer event has more meaning then we have typically acknowledged. I want to add the reminder of the freedom we enjoy and that along with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness comes responsibility. Our celebrated freedom requires our attention to maintain for ourselves and preserve for the future.

God Bless America!