Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pam Worth Parent Education and Interactive Two Day Workshop in Palo Alto California


We are happy to offer an exciting thought provoking two day workshop on "Helping families create healthy homes" offered through Palo Alto Mothers Club on Feb. 4th and 5th. Families can join us for one or both of the following. The Thursday evening talk from 7:00-8:30PM will focus on "Tuning into the Media and Tuning into our Children". Parents will leave with concrete ideas to implement immediately and an action plan custom made for each families individual needs relating to the media frenzy in all of our lives. Friday morning we encourage families to bring their children and test out over 15 stations of hands on activities to do together. Each family will leave with easy ideas to do at home that encourage creative play.

The Thursday evening talk still has openings and the Friday morning class is FULL.
The following is a brief outline of the 1.5 hour Thursday evening program:
1. We will discuss the current research on the effects of media in our children's lives.
2. We will share and discuss what is happening in our own families regarding the media.
3. We will learn a variety of action plans that you can implement immediately to create a safe and healthy home.
4. We will talk about age appropriate guidelines concerning the media.
5. We will learn some fun and creative alternatives to the media in our homes.

Introduction to Pam Worth:

Pamela Worth is a parent educator specializing in classes and seminars on many area of child development. Some of the topics she covers are: “Enhancing Sibling Relationships”, “Tuning into the Media, Tuning into your Child”, “Creative Alternatives to Media”, “Limit Setting”, “Play and Socialization of toddlers”, “Language and Learning” and “Creating Traditions and Rituals for Healthy Families”.

She has been an advocate for healthy family lifestyles and has modeled her programs and career around this premise. Combining her love of nature and her expertise on healthy, unplugged life styles for young children she created Tiny Treks in 1997 as a creative alternative to indoor parent participation programs. Tiny Treks is a meaningful parent participation program that gets children outside learning and exploring in natural environments. TinyTreks incorporates music, movement, story time and crafts into each weekly class. The program has grown to over 200 children in three metropolitan areas since its inception in 1996

Pam can be reached at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cold Weather and little ones

I know its hard to get the little guys to wear their hat and gloves....but if they don't they can't have fun!  So make sure to bundle them up enough so they can enjoy their outdoor adventures.  A preschooler with freezing hands is an unhappy kid!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tips for Getting Screen Time Under Control

Here are a few practical tips to think about if you want your families screen time under control.

1. Have a cell phone garage you can decorate with your family and decide when do the phones need to park in the garage. If your kids are young, you can be a great role model and park the phone during dinner and family time.
If your kids are cell phone age the phone can park at designated times in the day. Decide as a family, so everyone is invested in this way of life.

2. Create some hard a fast rules that you mostly stick with such as no phones, TVs, i-pods, computers at dinner.

3. The most powerful rule with children and teens is no television Monday-Thursday(there can be some exceptions for a special show).

4. Have your children get in the habit of asking before playing a computer game, X-Box, Wii, DS etc... and they must get permission before turning on the TV. If you can kick the habit of sit on couch and push button you can literally reprogram your family.

More ideas soon.

How old is this tree?

We had such fun today counting the rings on felled trees in the woods.  Some were too old to count but we counted till 10 and compared the rings with the tree shakers we had made.  We also looked for circles anywhere we could find them in nature.  There were circles on tree trunks (knots), there were circles on gopher holes and circles in the silo.  Even the snout of Dottie the Pig was a circle! Nature, shapes and counting-education takes place out of doors!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Swimming in Screen Time

My passion is helping families learn how to manage, moderate and live with the deluge of media in our lives. I could not believe it yesterday when I looked on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and one of the cover stories was, "Children Swimming in Media.",0,4394294.story The stats were fascinating and extremely overwhelming to me. Take a look at the article. There is also another version in the New York Times cleverly titled, "If Your Kids are Awake They are Probably Online".

The Kaiser Foundation does a great job showing us the shocking data in words, graphs, charts and pictures. It looks like in 2004 children averaged about 6 hours 21 min. of screen time a day and the researcher thought that we the reached the peak. There is simply NO MORE TIME IN THE DAY. But alas somehow children between 8-18 have found another 1 hr. 17 minutes on average, bringing the number to a staggering 7hours38 minutes per day. The articles can give you all the statistical information, but what struck me from the article I read was that title "Children Swimming In Media".

When we are pregnant with our precious babies all we can think of is how can we keep them safe. Often we wake up in the night worrying about the outlet we forgot to plug, or the cabinet that is easy to crawl and open, or the toilet seat someone left up. We hire safety people to child proof our house. We spend hundreds of dollars buying equipment to safety proof our homes. We all become handymen installing devices throughout our homes. We sleep a little bit easier for awhile. Then the children start to crawl or walk and a whole new set of safety features need to be added. We worry about what our kids our eating and drinking. We possibly grow our own vegatables, buy food without pesticides, milk without growth hormones and the list continues. We take our toddler to the beach on a sunny day and we discover it is closed because there is too much bacteria in the water. We are outraged and learn what we can do to clean up our beaches, so our precious children can be safe. Yet, we allow our children to literally swim in media. They are swimming with monsters, wars, guns, strangers, porn. I could list a million more things. For the most part, they are in the deep end without a lifeguard.

The informative article about this 2009 study on media usage in children is simply that, very informative. What we now have to do is figure out how to manage screen times in our families. I know that this is a media age and kids have to learn how to navigate some of it, but as parents it is our duty, our pledge for safety that we must pay closer attention to the use of media in our homes. Tomorrow we will give some practical tips on managing the media in your homes.

Maui and a DS

I was lucky enough to be lying on the beach in Maui a few weeks ago, watching families arrive with their little ones in ruffled suits.  As I lay there revisiting beach vacations when my kids were little, I watched two moms greeting each other with envy.  Oh, those days of getting kids and families together for extended fun.  The moms were young and attentive of their children.  Then why does the four year old walk up to the beach clutching and watching a pink DS?  She stumbles along with her head barely bobbing up to look at the next step.  Does she see the sea ahead of her?  Can she smell the tangy ocean air and hear the rush and pull of the waves?  What is so compelling on that screen that she doesn't want to experience the sand between her toes?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Word of the Month is INTERACTION

Ann in your thoughts yesterday about children at the gym on their parents cell phone, I wanted to respond with some important facts on this topic.
First, I believe the very crucial point Ann is bringing up is something the newest generation of parents may not be thinking about enough. We hear the news about screen time, we see the statistics about childhood obesity, yet we hand over the phone, the computer, videos and TV to our young children. There is so much information on this topic, but I think if we can just simplify over the next several days into some simple things to think about as parents, friends, spouses, siblings and teachers it may put this in focus. We are going to pick a word each month related to this topic and this months word is "interaction."

Here are the facts;
1. Babies need a responsive environment for healthy development.
2. The first 5 years of life are the most crucial for brain development and the best way a parent can help is simply talking, singing, reading and interacting with their young child.
3. Screen time takes away from human contact. PERIOD!
4. If you are plugged in you are not interacting.

If everyone out there can just leave our blog today with that word, "interaction" and have it in your mind with everything and everywhere you travel today how does it affect your interactions?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Electronics and the young child

I walked into my gym yesterday just as the family time was ending.  Many children 6 and under were in the lobby getting ready to go home.  I saw 2 young children sitting with their mom, each one playing games on a phone.  There was also a 5 year old girl sitting at the counter staring intently at a laptop screen-mouse in hand.  I know that these children just had time in a pool with their parents.  I'm sure it was a lovely time full of attention and wondrous exercise.  My question is about screen time and how much is too much?  Do these parents realize that screen time includes a child staring at the DS or a cell phone screen?  How do you feel about this activity?  I know that it creates people who are very comfortable using electronics. My kids can program my cell phone in a nano second.  But I do wonder if having small children using these devices doesn't take away from some of the information gathering that their minds are meant to be doing.  An important activity for children under the age of 5 is watching people and how they interact.  They need to learn to watch faces and emotional responses.  Small children spend lots of time observing the world around them in order to better fit in as they grow up.  Can they learn this while having their eyes down and focused on a screen?  What do you think?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking for a child's rapt attention.

As a teacher, each time I teach a class it is a different experience. Each child and thus, each group has moods, interests and needs that are separate from the class before. In order to be a good teacher I need to vary my teaching methods to those children. As I teach, I watch the group for signs of restlessness, telling me its time to move on to another topic or song. I observe when a child is interested in my story telling and go a bit more in depth than I thought I would. The quiet nuances of a child's rapt attention is what I look for in each class. For me this is what makes teaching interesting. Every class is unique. Every experience with children is facinating!

The Weather Stinks!

What to do on a rainy, dark day in the Northwest?  Luckily, hiking under the thick rainforest canopy one can be shielded from all but the heaviest downpours.  So, zip up and put on waterproof boots!  We're headed outside-if only for an hour or so. 

Even the smallest of hikers enjoys getting out in the rain.  As long as there is a warm and dry room to end up in!  Kicking and stomping in the rain puddles is ok with me!  Running through the mud and spreckling my jeans with spots.  That's ok too!  Go for it!  There is always a tub full of bubbles to go home to.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tiny Trek gets mathmatical!

A fun way of making the mathmatical concept of measuring accessible for young children.
Supplies: String or yarn and a pair of scissors.
1. Walk around your neighborhood, the local forest or garden in your area and measure the perimeter of the tree trunks at your child's level using yarn.
2. Pick any tree for your first tree and have your child or children bring the string all the way around the tree until both pieces meet. Cut the string at the meeting point.
3. Now look around and ask your child to find a tree with what they think is a smaller trunk. Measure that tree and compare the sizes of the string.
4. Continue to find smaller and larger trees. Sometimes you will be surprised that you are not always able to judge the size by just looking at the tree.
Remember this is the beginning of teaching the concept of bigger and smaller in a concrete way for young children. If you have older kids with you feel free to then use standard measurement tools such as a measuring tape and talk about inches, feet and yards or cm and meters.

Here is how we incorporated this concept in our Tiny Treks class today, however this is a wonderful activity for all ages in any weather to get outside and do.

Today in Tiny Treks the overarching question was "How big are things in nature and can we measure them?" This led to other questions such as "Which things in nature are bigger?" "Which are smaller?" "How big around is a tree?" In order to answer some of these questions we measured tree trunks with yarn and then looked for tree trunks that were bigger or smaller than the original tree. We also measured pine cones, ferns, feathers and small branches with yarn then used the yarn to hang them onto sticks and made mobiles. The kids had such fun holding both ends of the yarn and walking around trees to see which tree was the biggest! Sometimes we were suprised that one tree was bigger than the next. The kids were so proud of their mobiles and carried them carefully on their way out. I teach this class again on friday and will post photos of some of the mobiles this friday!

Hello World! Tiny Treks is Blogging!

Pam and I decided to begin this blog in order to spread the word that you can raise aware and open children, give them lots of opportunities to learn and explore-even during the recession and on a budget!

When our own children were young-we lived near each other and were lucky enough to share the skills we were learning about parenting and fun ideas of how to keep our children occupied and excited about learning while keeping the tv off (for the most part!)

In 1998, Pam began Tiny Treks in Menlo Park California. My daughter and I were fortunate to be part of her “grand experiment” in outdoor education for preschoolers; a previously unexplored genre to my knowledge. Well-it has been a grand success! Tiny Treks is flourishing in the Bay Area in California, has spread with Pam’s family to the Chicago area and with me to the Northwest.

As a Tiny Treks teacher, it is an exciting time to be opening the hearts and minds of young ones and their parents and guardians to the world outside. We know that our world is changing-we read about environmental disasters every day. Glaciers melting, forests burning... and if you are like me you wonder "what can a person like me do to help?"

An an educator, (I received my teaching credential from the University of Washington at Bothell this past June) I believe that teaching our newest generation the love of nature and the outdoors is the first and one of the most crucial steps to keeping our planet vibrant and alive.

Bring your child to Tiny Treks and together we can search for bugs under rocks and birds rapping on trees. Let's make sure that this next generation has some of the memories we have of running through the woods, squishing toes in the sand and making mud pies.

Our lives are so clean and our child's lives so organized. But nature brings out creativity and exuberance we can perhaps get no where else. Nature is unpredictable. Nature is a force to be reckoned with. Let's enjoy and appreciate it!