Stretching and Refreshing

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Posted by David Maddalena | Posted in Anghelika and David Maddalena | Posted on 10-06-2014

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Some children tend to run with a crowd, to be social, and love group projects. Others prefer to play quietly, building a private world, appearing to form deep relationships of the imagination. The first kind of kid gets recharged by turning outward, towards people and things; the second kind refuels by turning inward, to the world of ideas and concepts. Of course, we’re describing introverts and extroverts. It can be very helpful to pay attention to how children interact when in social settings: we want to make sure that kids can engage in different ways, to be stretched (by unfamiliar situations) and to be refreshed (by familiar comforting environments).

According to Susan Cain, as told to a TED audience in her presentation, “The Power of Introverts”, the extrovert enjoys a lot of favor these days, and there are times we put undue pressure on kids who are more introverted, by overemphasizing high energy interaction, presentation skills, collaboration. These are all important, and might have been under-emphasized in a time when we used to point all the desks forward. But desks-pointed-forward is not all bad: this gives introverts time to formulate internal opinions before sharing.

Not everybody likes to be ‘typed’, to be put into categories, and not every parent likes to have their children categorized. We can sympathize. Dave is precisely the ‘type’ of person who doesn’t like to be typed. And, school systems are often forced to group kids into categories, solving some problems (kids learning at different rates) while creating others (unproductive–and potentially damaging–labels, like ‘normal’, ‘slow’, or ‘special’).

But categories and types can help us define things for the sake of good educational design. For example, in the classroom, a quick glance around should reveal environments that cater to both introverts and extroverts. And knowing how your kid rolls can make parenting easier too. Kids know what they need to recharge: they naturally gravitate to the kind of activity that refreshes them. If we make sure they can get what they need when they need it, then they will be able to face challenges with less stress and be more likely to succeed when tested.

The Birth of Total Teen Dad

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Posted by webmaster | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 28-05-2010

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It was their first time.  We packed up the Honda Prelude, rolled back the sunroof, and headed up to Memorial Park in La Honda (located above Woodside near Loma Mar off Hwy 84 on the way to Pescadero on Hwy 1), a guaranteed hit with kids because of it’s creeks, rope swings, modest hiking trails, and ampitheatre.  It was a warm sunny morning, and the kids were wondering what dad was doing getting them up so early.  What could be that cool?

I paid $6 at the gate to the park and as we drove slowly down the small cracked pavement to the picnic area where my mother took us as kids, I looked at them in the rear view mirror and alongside me.  Their faces were solemn, looking at the giant redwoods and the lush green foliage everywhere.

I parked the car and the kids jumped out.  As I stepped out of the car, they asked, “Can we get up on the giant tree?”

“Of course”, I muttered enjoying the moment.

And so they climbed on top of the giant fallen tree, just as I did when I was young(erer).  They stood on top of it simply looking up in wonderment at the height and the breadth of the environment they were in.

“Listen daddy.  You can hear the leaves moving.”

I had done it.  I had not only showed them wonder and joy, but I had created a respect for the environment, and continued a tradition.

Today, my teens still go camping – whether it’s with each other, their friends, or with me.  They love the beach.  They still have the appetite to explore new places, take pictures instead of taking mementos home, and are careful not to trample the environment where it is not meant to be trampled.

Because playing outdoors is better than video games.  Hiking and rock climbing is better than music television.  Biking and swimming in the ocean is more grounding than reality television.

It wasn’t hard.  I didn’t have to recreate the wheel.  I just had to look to my past.  To the lessons my parents taught me.  To the places they took me.  The food they fed me.

As for me?  Well, I’m still cool.  I still know how to take them to places they’ve never been, show them new things they’ve never seen, and how to do things they’ve never tried.  Memorial Park was just the beginning.

The birth of Total Teen Dad.