A few weeks ago something happened that has never before happened in our family. We had a family member with a school vacation that didn’t match up with the rest of the family. He is old enough to now be home alone and to get around town on his own, but it is still a bit of a bummer not to go somewhere or do something different during a week off of school. Thus, I made him a promise that, in my available time, we’d go to as many museums as time allowed. He is a huge history and museum buff, and this was music to his ears. He planned our outings, and I drove and paid (the bulk of my parenting work right now), and we enjoyed each others’ company.
I was able to work our schedule so that we wouldn’t be rushed and I told him that he could decide when it was time for us to leave. Family trips to the museum usually include the whole family and my daughter doesn’t have the same museum stamina as the rest of us. We were able to visit three museums and hit the Chinese New Year Parade. We had a ball and really enjoyed ourselves. While he was enthralled in each exhibit and was dedicated to thoroughly enjoying every minute of each audio tour, I had a bit of time to reflect upon my own field trip experiences.
When I was a child growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin we took loads of field trips. We went to the local Food Lane, our Safeway equivalent, and were toured through the back rooms and got to see the huge refrigerators and the loading dock. We hit a local family-owned pizza parlor and toured the kitchen and were given a quick cooking lesson and then made our own pizzas. We even went to the local police station and got locked inside a jail cell! Of course growing up in Wisconsin mandated a trip to a cheese factory, a brewery, and a dairy farm. These days, school field trips are logistically much more difficult and don’t happen as often, but really it doesn’t take much to turn an errand with a three- or four-year-old into a field trip.
The difference between a field trip and an errand is the pace, allowing the opportunity to poke around and check things out, the chance to ask questions and be given reflective and thoughtful answers, and the prospect for discovery. The gift of a field trip is twofold. First, field trips teach us about the world in which we live and help us make a personal connection with that world. Secondly, they offer the fantastic opportunity of a shared experience. On our field trips last week, my son and I connected over our shared love of history and the natural world. We both slowed down and meandered together, not always knowing where we were headed next. In retrospect, we could have been anywhere, it really wasn’t the place that was so special, and rather it was the “field trip” mentality that made all the difference.
I thought I’d share this simple story with all of you in the event you might want to turn an ordinary errand into a field trip to see what just might happen. We get so hurried and have so many items on our ‘to do’ lists that we forget that there is so much in this world that is fascinating to children if we take the time to do a little bit of exploration. May you have as much fun on your outings as my son and I did on ours!
Our recent Parent Ed workshop on the topic of Positive Discipline was well-attended — thanks to those of you who came and participated! As we discussed that evening, the key component to successful discipline (that is, successful in every way, over the long term) is building and working to maintain a connection with your child(ren). The child who feels loved and supported is the child who is open to growth and change, which is what we are asking for when current behavior is not acceptable. Of course, as Carrie points out above, pacing can be critical in ensuring that experiences allow for meaningful connection.
The challenge for most of us is that our adult lives are fast-paced, while a child’s capacity for absorbing and making meaning of experience is not. As often as we can remind ourselves to slow down to a more relaxed pace, allowing for the unhurried give-and-take of wondering questions and thoughtful answers, the better the opportunity for the blossoming of true connection through a shared foundation of experience.
Take the time to connect: your lives and your relationships will be the richer — and smoother — for it!
The 11th Mother’s Symposium is slated for Saturday, March 9th. As sponsors of this event, we encourage you to register and attend that morning! The topic this year is Self-Compassion, and the promise of the 3 speakers is to help us to learn how cultivating a kind inner voice can help reduce stress and improve connections to ourselves and others. Come be inspired!
Upcoming Calendar Items
Baby Gear Donation Drive
Watch for more information coming this week about this drive which will take place over the week of March 11th.
Family Open House
All families are invited to Family Open House on the afternoon of Sunday, March 17th according to this schedule:
2’s: Tuesday Class 3:00-3:30pm
Wednesday Class 3:45 – 4:15pm
Thursday Class 4:30 – 5:00pm
3’s Class: 3:00 – 3:45pm
4’s Class: 4:00 – 4:45pm
Parent conference slots will be available on March 20, 21, and 22. Watch your email for a link to the sign-up sheet.
First Congo will be closed from April 1-5. See you back at school the week of the 8th!
Spring Book Fair
Mark your calendars and plan to stop in at First Congo’s Spring Book Fair on April 10th and 11th. There will be a wonderful selection of books for you to browse through. Orders will be taken the days of the Fair and filled before the end of school — get ready for summer reading!
First Congo father Farrell Smith, dad to Marcus in the 4’s, has our undying thanks for once again bringing his fire truck to school for the 3’s and 4’s to see — such a thrill!
Emily Gottfurcht kindly organized coffee at school one morning recently for the T-Th parents, and for that we thank her!
We’d like to recognize the effort Amy McGaraghan put into organizing First Congo’s first-ever Tour for Prospective Families. The event was much appreciated by those in attendance and we’re grateful to Amy for her part in making it all happen, and to those current parents who joined us at tour’s end to be on hand to chat with prospective parents.
The following showed their love by providing cookies for Valentine’s Parties at school: Robin Glass, Sarah Granados, Adrienne Lee, Robyn Miller, Mary Shapero, and Aimee ten Vaanholt. Thanks for your time and energy, ladies!
Finally, we’d like to express tremendous thanks to Lillie and Dave Peery for opening their home to the school for an enormously fun Parent Social! And, thanks go as well to Lauren Heysse, Inés Salazar, Adeline White and Brooke Davi for their part in organizing the fun, and to all those others who pitched in to help with decorations and set-up to make the evening special, but especially John McGaraghan and Dave for making music for us!