Friday, June 26, 2009

More On Simulations

The power of simulations has impressed me for quite a while now. I wanted to share some other types of simulations we've used to teach principles or provide learning opportunities:

GENTLEMEN BEHAVIOR - I have envisioned that I want sons that know proper behavior; they need to know there's a time and a place to wrestle and other situations where more formal etiquette is necessary. I'm not at all against wrestling and rough housing. Research shows it positively impacts the ability to set boundaries. It's more the TIMING of the wrestling that matters to me. Sacrament mtg., for example, is NOT my favorite time to play Don King.

When desires to wrestle are apparent - I like to set the stage for it. We create a padded wrestling stage, go over rules like "No biting, punching or kicking," and teach proper take downs and pins. Then they start in their corners and obey the start/stop whistle. This is a simulation. I think it teaches skills, allows aggression to escape and also teaches self-control b/c they learn to start and stop the activity, not letting it escalate until someone needs a ride to the ER.

Next - in raising gentlemen, I was trying to think of a medium to teach them appropriate behaviors, other than lectures :) That's when I became hooked on Knights. I love the code of Knights and stories that teach great values of bravery, loyalty, honor, chivalry, etc. So we use knight books, dress ups, acting out scenes, etc. as a medium for developing the values of knighthood.

Another desire I had was to be able to take my children to others' homes, such as for visiting teaching, if I absolutely HAD to take them, and have them behave respectably. So I teach one older lady who lives in a small apt with "old lady things." She's delightfully tolerant of children, wonderful to them. I called her one day to ask if she would participate as a hostess for our "Gentlemen's camp." That's what we call it. I explained to my boys that adults like children who behave well. I stated that clearly about 3 times. Then I shared that when adults like children, they often give them special privileges, opportunities, attention and rewards. On the way to the woman's house, I gave examples of how to act in a new person's home, how to ask for permission to touch things, how to speak properly, etc. At the home I just let them explore, interjecting at times to help script the conversation. For example, I'd see Aisea reaching for a glass vase and I'd say, "Aisea, say 'Sister Young, can I hold this vase?'" He'd pause and repeat that phrase. We did this type of coaching throughout the visit and when I could tell their interest was beginning to wear, we ended the visit. Sister Young was very complimentary to the boys and had a treat for them. As we left, I affirmed their behaviors and reiterated, "Adults LIKE children with good behaviors. She said you are welcome to come to her house again!"
They enjoy our "Gentlemen's Camp," and also now have another "friend," at church that they enjoy sitting by, doing things for, and just saying "Hi," to each week. (I think it makes her day too.)

Simulations for building confidence and self-worth:
I know these are critical core beliefs and are built early on. Therefore, I want my children to feel a sense of mastery in the experiences they have. I believe that is how they build confidence and self-worth. When they are asked to give talks, sing or say a scripture at church, for example, I do two things: 1st, I let them choose the topic (or scripture) and dictate the talk to me. That way, it's their words, their testimony and by me helping them share what THEY want to share, I feel it validates them, their knowledge and their abilities. 2nd we go up to the church during the week and rehearse their talk several times with the microphone. I just make it fun, not like a forced "YOU MUST DO THIS," kind of drill. We have fun. They play with the mic and sing in to it, make funny sounds...get all that "boy stuff" out of their system, and then they're ready to really practice. I refer to General Conference speakers they've seen and remind them of those behaviors, giving them a visual for posture, reverence and delivery. After they've done it a few times, we go an play in the nursery. It's just a fun practice trip to the church. Then I'll read their talks to them while they eat breakfast a couple of more times, not asking them to recite it, just letting them listen while I read with feeling and emphasis. These are simulations. When the real event happens, they're comfortable and prepared. They give great deliveries and receive affirmations from others that reinforces the principles of confidence and self-worth.

It seems that almost anything can be taught through simulations and they are empowering. They empower the child to overcome fears and anxieties while in a safe, confined situation. They build confidence and self-worth, provide a depth and breadth of experiences, build logical processing skills, and ultimately set a precedence for them to learn to practice, practice, practice anything they want to become better at.

Monday, June 22, 2009

True Joy Comes from Living Priorities

I love marathon training!!! It's NOT about running - running is just the vehicle for peace of mind, solitude, and inspiration.
This morning, while running, I realized that my mission in life is tied to my top three priorities:
1. Spiritual Progression
2. Physical and Mental Health
3. A Great Leadership Education

These are the things I most value, most desire, for myself and my family, and what I wish to share with the world.

Today I want to highlight a story that brings me great joy. Being a vehicle in changing people's lives brings me real, lasting happiness. Way to go, Rachel!!!

Here is Rachel - from Hawaii -
She lost 50 lbs in 12 weeks! She feels incredible, both physically and mentally/emotionally!

Rachel loves how she feels, physically and mentally on Isagenix - but she was having trouble with how much it cost. Then she took out her financial records and reviewed the money she'd spent over the past couple of years trying, unsuccessfully, to lose weight:
24 Hour Fitness - with a personal trainer 3 times a week - $3,000.00-$4,000.00 - she didn't lose weight.
2 Attempts at Weight Watchers - $300 - $500 per month, including the classes, coaching and foods they tell you to buy. She didn't lose weight.
Then she quit her stressful job as a social worker and wanted to have her own business - distributing a makeup line - that start up and inventory cost her $5,000.00 and didn't go anywhere - she still has product on hand that she hasn't sold.
After reviewing the numbers - she is now celebrating how cost effective - even CHEAP - Isagenix is. Not only is it cost effective, she says, the best part is......IT REALLY WORKS!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not the Ideal Simulation

Last week we had a family function in Las Vegas. The town, itself, is not my ideal place to live, play, or be. However, I do have memories of going to Vegas on occasion as a child and driving up and down the Las Vegas Strip, marveling at the big buildings and lights and all the hustle and bustle. So, being the brilliant mother that I am (sarcasm there, you'll see), I suggested to Sai that we go down earlier in the day to take our boys to see the Exclaibur hotel, the NY NY, and other "great sights" on the strip. All I can say is - BIG MISTAKE!
We parked at the Excalibur and walked through - the casino. Not much to see except some same sex love and enough smoke to cook a pig. My boys had their noses covered as we hurried through the building, hoping the polution outside would not be as bad as it was inside. There were a couple of statues of knights - the highlight, but not much else. We walked out on the strip and saw the Statue of Liberty and then got trapped in blocks of construction. Half the strip was demolished and there were construction barricades/tunnels that we had to walk through. This is where it gets ugly. We passed many soliciters who were trying to pass out cards, that looked like baseball cards. We just passed by them, but when we got into the tunnels, the ground was littered with these cards and they were...inappropriate and immoral (don't want to link my blog with any specific words, so I hope you get the point). I wanted to die. There we were, stuck in a bleak tunnel, nothing to look at, but the ground, littered in these pictures. Shocked, I told my boys, "Look up! Can you see the clouds?" I tried to keep their eyes toward the sky as we walked and walked through this seemingly endless hell. Once out, we were still bombarded with the soliciters as well as huge passing trucks touting billboards with topless girls in undies. We determined that Sai would run back and get the van and come rescue us, so that we wouldn't have to go back through "hell."
I was devastated - only a mother can relate - here I pray and worry daily about what my children will be faced with and exposed to in their lives, and then I bring them face to face with evil. I wished for a magic wand. I regretted being so stupid and clueless. Then I realized, I had to teach. I noticed Sikeli seeing one of the disgraceful passing trucks and I made eye contact with him and said, "Remember what I've said about modesty? The Lord wants us to respect our bodies. Satan wants us to show them off and have others look at them. That's not okay." I apologized to them for bringing them into the Lion's Den. I told them I hadn't realized it was so filthy. I asked Sikeli if he felt the same spirit there as he does when we go to the temple grounds - he shook his head, no. Then I related our experience to Lehi's dream, saying, "Remember the 'mists of darkness?' Where people get off the path and are led away to sin? This is what that means. People are here thinking this is fun and entertaining, and it's not. It's fake. It's the temptations of Satan." We had some discussions and I felt some sense of peace and hope.
We found a secluded, grassy spot to play and wait for dad.
Relieved for the refuge, I fought back tears. Tears for my stupidity, and tears for the realization that this is the world today. That no matter what I do, my children will walk in a world of filth - one that is far different from the world I knew as a child. One where blatant sin traps have replaced subtle temptations. I'm raising leaders - priesthood leaders - missionaries - husbands - fathers. I realized that this is no small endeavor. EVERY DAY COUNTS! Every interaction either builds and solidifies their strength, character and testimony, or challenges it. As Julie Beck said, "Mothers Who Know Are Teachers." We must be. Because they WILL be taught - the only question is, "If not by us, then by who?" The answer: The World.
This experience follows the recent theme in my life - the need for simulations and educational experiences - and added to my conviction to make every day a spiritual, principle-based, learning experience.
May God be with all of us as mothers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Simulations - I

I'm getting serious about SIMULATIONS - creating teaching opportunities is so fun and more importantly, effective. Here's what happened today:

I decided my "Knights of Fiji," (Sikeli and Aisea) needed to venture out on a "Quest of Safety." They had never been around the neighborhood block alone before. I informed them of their "Quest," to stay on the sidewalk, go all the way around the block, not cross any streets and to not go anywhere with any kids or adults. I coached them on what to say if anyone should approach them, esp. if some adults were concerned that they were unsupervised. Armed with their "weapons," (a spyglass in one hand and a stick in the other), off they went.

Just as they rounded the corner, a friend appeared in our driveway in his dune buggy car. The boys love to ride in this topless gas guzzler. I told the friend of our quest and asked him to find the boys and tempt them to ride with him. He agreed, and off he went. It wasn't long before he was back in my driveway, noticeably solo in his buggy. He told me that he had invited the boys to go for a ride. He said Aisea was eager, but Sikeli told him, "No, we won't!" As the driver egged them on, saying, "Come on, it will be fun!" Sikeli shook his head and said, "NO!" And then walked away. Eventually, Aisea followed his older brother.
I was SO ECSTATIC! That was a hard test - to have someone they know invite them to do something they love doing. But they PASSED THE QUEST!
When they returned, I met them at the porch and congratulated them on a job well done. They earned the title of Knights for their bravery and obedience!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It Clicked

In other news...
I had one of those moments when something I had learned in the past, suddenly sunk all the way in.
It happened at the library. I was just watching my boys participate in a program and make their way about the library, each attending to his own favorite section, and I suddenly got it: Core Phase.
Leadership Education (by Oliver DeMille) defines "phases" of learning, rather than grades. The first phase is called "Core Phase," b/c it's the development of the "core" of a person - his/her allegiance to God, Self, Others or the Adversary. And it roughly encompasses the ages of 0-8. In short, it's character building, values, morals,...the inner compass...that which guides the individual throughout life. Imagine the coincidence that research shows that by age 8 a person develops his/her character/personality and at that age we become accountable in the eyes of God.
As I sat observing children in the library, it just hit me, and just clicked: kids can learn anything; Therefore, I can spend my time drilling them on flashcards, with info, facts, trivia, etc., teaching them colors, letters, numbers,...yada yada yada...all the academics and they could learn it and become "brainiacs," or I could relax on that and focus all my energy (at this period in their life) on character (coupled with a love of learning - meaning, making learning fun and just part of our family culture)and at the appropriate time (which is the Scholar Phase - adolescence)integrate intensive academic focus.
It was as if I could see in that moment the long term ramifications of each pursuit. And it just clicked! I noticed kids who were NOT in Core Phase - there were kids at the library who said rude and mean things to other kids. They didn't listen to, or obey the teacher; They weren't aware of others; They weren't really processing the discussions, rather just being herded around like cattle, going here and there as dictated by the teacher and/or parents and mostly in their own little worlds. This question came to mind, "When will these behaviors change?" The answer, "They won't. The kids will just get bigger."
I could see character (or lack of it) being built right there. I realized that GREATNESS forms early on. I felt that honestly, nothing matters more, nor will bring more joy to my sons in their lives, than
learning to work - I'd rather have them in a garden than at a desk right now;
Learning to serve - I'd rather have them writing thank-yous to people than practicing handwriting scripts;
Learning true principles - I'd rather have them reading scripture and church history books for children than Dora the Explorer....and the like;
Learning the classics - I'd rather have them singing and reciting nursery rhymes, songs from plays, classic fairytales, .... then becoming familiar with the latest cartoons;
Learning loyalty to family - I'd rather have them spending time with their brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, than playing with their "best friend" down the street while ostracizing a sibling;
Learning to behave like gentlemen - I'd prefer that they know proper etiquette and understand appropriate times and places for certain behaviors, than to behave as monkeys or "boys just being boys," in response to outsider opinions of them and of boys in general.

And the finale in this "ah-ha" moments was: And all of these things that I want them to know...MUST BE TAUGHT. They won't just know them. They won't just accidentally develop them - they must be taught. AND in order to be taught, I have to create situations - better yet - SIMULATIONS - in which they can be taught and practice each of these things. Wow. There's a curriculum for you. Who has time for school with all this learning that needs to take place :)