Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back to School Tips

Back to School Tips

Before your child starts another year of school, it can help to get in touch with exactly what is the role of school in your family's life? Although home school can be an option, most families do delegate schooling to our government or privately supported school systems. But for each family what role the school plays can be different and can change over time. It can vary from on the one hand setting up the family's whole life around the school activities to on the other hand letting the child deal with school on his own and continuing as usual with family patterns as before.  

It is good to know where you stand on this continuum and discuss it with your spouse or partner, if any, in parenting, so that you can avoid misunderstandings and potential conflict later. If one parent wants to oversee all homework projects before play and the other would rather see the child play until it's dark and then do what she or he can on her or his own, the child will be caught in the middle and maybe even figure out how to get her or his own way which may not suit either parent.

As we would expect, most studies of how children function in school suggest that moderation is key. Children must find their own way to adjust to the rigors of school, but they also, as children, need the guidance and support of their parents.

Some intriguing studies have shown that children's report cards improved when the parents took more of a hands off approach, avoiding adding pressure to the pressure already inherent in the school teaching environment. Offer answers and help when asked, but avoid micromanaging their school interactions.

There is plenty to do at home as a parent,. Setting schedules is much easier if it is done before school starts, or at least early in the year. Depending on the child's age and maturity, do what you can to involve the child in setting the schedule. But remember who is in charge and be sure there are enough hours for sleep, breakfast and dinner, and family social time. That pretty much uses up whatever is left after school and homework. But these parts of a child's day are every bit as important as schooling.

It is during these family times that children pick up what is important and valuable to their parents, what lifestyle choices will stand them in good stead for life, and how to interact in a more comfortable informal setting, rather than the largely artificial setting of school, where a hoard of children respond to a few authoritative adults who are non-family and where the day is broken up into managed segments over which the child has no control.

Be sure to take time before and after school to greet the child with caring and a smile. Try to avoid last minute reminders in the morning, or grilling in the afternoon. The child will tend to have more self-confidence if it is clear that the parent-child relationship is still more important than the child-school relationship.

And let go of perfectionist tendencies. Kids will make mistakes, forget their assignment, forget their ball, forget what the teacher said, etc. If you give them space without shame to do better next time, they will learn much more quickly than if they think they have let you down.

Make sure their home diet is up to your standards, as the challenges at school regarding diet can be daunting. Studies show that if quality food, which is relatively free of chemical additives, fabricated food products, and highly refined or artificially flavored foods, is made available to kids, they will tend to eat a healthy diet over the course of a week. So make meals a fun social time, not a stressful time for lectures.  And also be careful about body image issues.

But do have meals. Have the kids help prepare them and they will be better eaters. And be sure to have healthy snacks for after school. The parent's example is always stronger than anyone else's, especially in the early years.

There's a lot to think about, but the pay-off is worth it. So many children today are missing breakfast, not getting a good night's sleep, and then snacking on sugary and/or chemical-laden drinks, candies, and baked goods. It is no wonder attention and behavior problems are on the rise.

Encourage your children to have compassion for those kids, but let them know you are serious about your job to help them avoid these problems.

You can find much more in my books, You Can Postpone Anything But Love, and The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents.

Randy Rolfe Take Home Tips: Just as parents have a whole lot going on in their work day, whether at a job, as an entrepreneur, or as home administrator, so children have a full day at school. Their stresses can be just as frustrating and depleting, or as satisfying and enlivening, as our day has been. So we do well to respect their experiences and listen compassionately when they share them. Remember that your child's emotional life is at least as complex as your own. That way you both will feel better when you are sharing your mornings and evenings and weekends together. http://www.parenthoodtools.com.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What GMO Means to You

What GMO Means to You

Food quality is a hot topic in the news today.  Many are concerned 
about current efforts by leading chemical companies to alter our
 staple food crops in ways that have no precedent in nature or 

Especially as parents, we are responsible to see that our children 

get the best start we know about, and the quality of their food is a 
huge factor. We also owe it to ourselves to stay as healthy as we
 can. So what if we are eating Genetically Modified Organisms, 

Let's take the long view for a moment. For more than a million 

years, humans have been eating everything in their local 
environment that didn't kill them. If a person tried to eat an 
animal or vegetable that was poisonous, that person didn't 
live to have children. So over the years, humans found what 
species were edible and what weren't.

Over time, our human ancestors discovered how to cook food

 to eat even more variety and to store food more effectively. 
Eventually we even learned to replant the seeds of food and 
to choose the seeds which gave us the qualities we liked 
most. And we could do the same with animals once we 
learned to corral them.

A few centuries ago, we became far more scientific about

 "breeding" our crops and animals, to produce food quicker,
 cheaper, more efficiently, and with more of the 
characteristics we wanted at any given time.

Once we learned about genetics in the mid-twentieth century,

 scientists began to imagine that they could actually tinker 
with the genetic code to hone in on the characteristics we 

But then the question becomes, the characteristics who 

wanted? Is it the scientists who hire the geneticists to 
experiment, is it the chemical companies who want the 
crops and animals to use more of their chemicals, or is 
it we the eaters?

In the book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, the author Steven 

Druker reveals how our image of scientists going in with 
tweezers and carefully manipulating the genes to improve 
the crop is completely misleading, and unfortunately 
deliberately so.

At least four or five manipulations, almost unfathomable to

 the non-geneticist, are applied to the genes at issue, and 
even then there is no assurance until scrupulous testing 
that the wanted results are achieved. For example, in many 
cases, whether a cell has accepted the new gene is 
detectable because a light sensitive gene from a jellyfish 
has also been injected.

We know that the genetic code of any creature, plant or 

animal, is extremely interdependent, and one gene often 
affects many activities in a cell. Likewise, groups of genes
 often operate together to create other kinds of crucial 
cell activities. So if we alter one gene because it will now 
change a particular chemical in the plant,  we have no 
way of knowing if this change will also affect how some
 other important cell chemical is designed.

We also now know that genes are activated and 

deactivated by other processes in a cell that are 
responding to numerous factors in and outside the 
cell, including the stress level of the plant or animal. 
This is the core of the science of "epigenetics."

These complications may explain how many experiments 

which we rarely hear about in the media, but are 
considered well designed and reported by respected 
scientists, have shown that when GMO foods are fed 
to animals, unwanted health conditions develop at a 
disturbing rate compared to animals fed the equivalent 
non-GMO foods.

Most developed countries have minimized the growing, 

importing, and selling of GMO foods within their borders. 
The chemical companies which encourage GMOs say
 that if they are forced to label GMOs in the USA, the 
same thing will happen here because the public doesn't 
realize that these foods are "safe."

But do we want to feed them to our children? 
Do we 
want to experimental lab animals?

The vast majority of all corn and soy sold in the USA 

is genetically altered today. And there is no way to know 
whether these crops may be responsible for the increases
 in various chronic conditions like obesity, immunological
 insufficiency, autoimmune disease, cancer, metabolic 
syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and other 
inflammatory diseases. All are on the rise, and it is
 logical to look at recent changes in our food supply 
which coincide with this rising trend.

Don't believe the story that these alterations are necessary 

to feed the hungry world. Most of the GMO crops go to feed
 large animals which feed only the wealthy populations in 
developed countries.  In addition, the GMO crops increase
 yield only for the first few years, but unfortunately by then, 
the farmer has become dependent on the special seeds
 and pesticides the chemical company has sold her or 
him, and has no GMO-free seed to start a new crop.

I am not one to volunteer my child for a dietary experiment 

that comes from a chem lab. I advise sticking with the 
foods you grandmother would recognize or that your 
great uncle could produce on his farm.

The federal government just passed legislation which 

was promoted by the chemical companies to prevent 
individual states from responding to their citizens by 
insisting on the labeling of GMOs. The law is touted as
 having required that they be labeled, but it doesn't go 
into effect for a couple of years, it has loopholes because 
only certain foods or ingredients must be labeled, and the
 label is only a QR code. So if you really want to know,
 you must hold your mobile phone up to the label to 
check the QR code!

I will continue to buy only foods that say non-GMO 

certified, and "organic," because so far the organic
 label is not supposed to have any GMOs, although 
there are a few exceptions already.

Randy Rolfe's Take Home Tips: Avoid becoming dogmatic 
about your food, because the burden of extra stress can
be as harmful as an occasional over-processed or
chemicalized food. Only if you have developed a reaction
to a  certain kind of additive or GMO-related item do you
need to be absolute about it, and even then you can build 
your digestion and immunity back up in most cases so that
an occasional exposure won't hurt.

Beware of wheat, which is not usually GNO but which is
sprayed with Round-Up just before harvest because it makes 
harvesting easier. That herbicide is causing many issues
with people's intestines and gut bacteria. So buy organic 
wheat products whenever possible.

In the family and among friends, avoid giving lectures, judgments, 
or admonitions at meal time. Keep that time calm and happy to 
promote good digestion and good relationships. Instead, at a 
later time, share what you know as a caring aside, such as, "You 
know I just saw an interesting article today about ... Do you
know about that?"

Baby Knows More than You think

Baby Knows More Than You Think

In our "information age," parents and authorities alike seem to put ever more emphasis on "early learning." We have endless educational toys, flash cards, and kindergarten preparatory programs. And parents often feel they must be like the teachers they had in school. But is this really what will create happy, successful, contributing adults?

Recent research, as well as the experience of many parents and families I have worked with, says no. Kids are born learners. Even at birth, a child who has not had blinding silver nitrate drops put in their eyes follows the humans around her or him and recognizes the mother almost immediately. From then on they take in everything, and learn through all their senses, imitating everything they see us do. How could they not learn as they go?

Experiments recently described in the New York Times by Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrated that even very young children like to experiment with tasks they see us doing as well as to imitate what they see seems to work when we do it.

They also respond differently depending on how we talk to them. If we are instructing, they will tend to do what we say, but if we leave the task open ended they will be quite creative but also surprisingly logical as they figure out how to accomplish the task.

We forget sometimes to give credit to the amazing capacity we have as human beings to learn. Babies often act like little scientists says Gopnik. While schools are a recent invention to teach skills like writing and reading and grasping world affairs, humans have always learned by being around their parents and caring adults, imitating, interacting, and playing.

Headlines today often speak of "different learners," "early burnout," even youth suicides from the pressures of today's educational and media assault on our children's natural programming. This is one of many reasons a small but growing group of parents choose to home school their children, in order to let the natural progression of development proceed, and also to let the parents be parents instead of mini-teachers.

As Gopnik notes, in a society which is now begging for more creative, adaptive, and open-ended thinking, we would be wise to move to an attitude which trusts the child to learn. Says Gopnik, "We don't have to make children learn, we just have to let them learn."

To explore further this question of learning and teaching from infancy on, please go to my book You Can Postpone Anything But Love, and for the older child, The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents, http://www.parenthoodtools.com.

Randy Rolfe's Take Home Tips: From an early age, keep your child with you. Let them see what you are doing and hear you talking about it or with others. Talk to them even if they are still non-verbal. You will be amazed how quickly they imitate you and learn to grasp communication cues, tone of voice, and language. They are born to learn and love being stimulated, but you don't need to buy lots of artificial stimulation. YOU are the automatic teacher of your baby and child just by sharing your life with them. Be a model of the kind of acts and words you want them to absorb and you will help them best to become all they can be.