Saturday, March 12, 2016

Why I am Fired Up about Recess

I am very fired up about recess and movement in school.


It started out as a flicker, a feeling of... 

"That's weird, how is my child functioning with only a 15 minute break at school.  He'd go crazy at home."  Then with a thought of, "Well, I guess all the kids are doing it.  The teachers must take water breaks.  I'll just make sure he moves before and after school."  

My daughter seemed to be fine with it...  Then my son started coming home in a grumpy mood.  He told me he hated school.  "All kids hate school," I thought.  Then his teacher asked me if he had ADD.  What?  I hadn't  noticed any ADD behavior at home.  

I met with his teacher and this is what she said, "Your son will sit and shake in his chair.  I let him get up and do jumping jacks.  Sometimes when I talk to him he just ignores me and stares straight ahead like I'm not there.  He is not finishing his work during class."  

Another flicker ignited inside of me again.  That's not my child.  I worked with the teacher, he got up to get a drink more often, she let him do jumping jacks.  I made him sit and do the work that he didn't finish in class right when he got home before he could play, so he was motivated to finish.  My son sulked, he drug his feet, he complained.  It took hours to do his homework.  Stay on a schedule, do homework in the same place every night, be consistent.  That's what they all say to help your child be successful at school.  We trudged forward.  Third grade came around.

 "I don't want to go to school!"

 "Do you know why I don't want to go to sleep tonight?  Because I have to wake up and go to school tomorrow."   

"This is the worst day ever, because I have to go to school."  

These were things I heard constantly.  The flicker was now a full on flame.  I know kids aren't really suppose to like school, but this seemed like more.  I looked into bullying, I looked into his friends.  He had a great group of friends, he LOVED his friends, I knew their moms and I loved them. 

"Don't you want to see your friends at school?" I'd say, to motivate him to go. 

"No, I never see them anyways and we don't get to talk or play together at school."  

The situation was relentless.  Then, my son told me he hated school, not just school, but learning.  

"I don't want to read, reading is stupid!  Homework is boring."  

Stupid and boring are the words he uses to try and describe how he feels.  How can a child hate school and learning already, he's only in third grade?  He has many more years left of school.  What is he going to do when he's a teenager?  The fire was crackling.

"How do other children feel?  Is my son the only one?" I thought, "Maybe this isn't just a problem with him, maybe it's bigger than that."  Good thing I have friends with boys my son's age.  They talk and they tell me the same things.  One mom tried to reassure me that my son was normal.  

"Have you ever been in a classroom before?" she said, "All of the children as shaking in their seats, they're rocking back and forth.  They have fidget toys, fidget seats, IEPs and 504's to help them get the movement they need so they can sit and listen in class."  

These words were suppose to reassure me that my son was normal.  They didn't do that at all, they scared me!  They threw logs on the already burning fire.  Have you ever been in a mental hospital before?  I have.  That's what it looks like, people rocking back and forth in their chairs, fidgeting, high on their medications.  They take drugs to help their brains, our kids take drugs to help their brains.  

I got a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience.  It fascinated me.  I learned about how the human body functions, how the brain interacts with the body, how it controls it and I learned what makes us healthy.  I loved learning about it.  I have a father and a brother who both received brain injuries in car accidents and I liked learning about them and I liked being able to understand them better.  The human body fascinates me.  That's how I knew what the inside of mental hospitals are like, I visited my father there because his brain injury was so bad they had to put him into the hospital until they could figure out the right dose of medication to give him.  My brother was in a brain injury hospital for 6 months recovering.  I've seen what people with brain problems looks like.  A lot like school...

After a lot of thought, I decided to take my son out of school and home school him to see what was going on, to learn more about him.  I'm a stay at home mom with a Neuroscience degree and a home school support network.  I'm lucky.  I know there are moms and dads that both have to work.  What do they do?  If you can't afford a private school, you stick your kid in public school and pray for the best.  

During home school I learned a lot of things.  My son does have a hard time sitting and paying attention for a long time.  Really anything more than 15 min straight is hard.  I was able to give him more flexibility in his schedule, he could move around when he needed to, he could go to the bathroom when he needed to.  He learned to like reading and learning again.  But, something was missing.  There were no big groups of children to play with at recess, there were no school activities, band, art, and group projects.  Last but not least, I was a teacher 24-7.  Between my middle schooler's homework help and my son's home school work, I was struggling to find time for my 3 year old, for my 6 year old, for my husband and for myself.  I needed ME time in a bad way.  If mommy is stressed, everyone is stressed.

I put my son back in school.  The principal was nice and let me pick the teacher that I thought would work best with him.  I told the teacher everything.  She is awesome.  He likes her.  My son still doesn't like school.  

"We can't play tag at recess,"  my son complains, "they took it away because one kid was being mean.  We can't run on the playground.  We don't have any balls to play basketball or four square."  Is my son a complainer?  Maybe, but his complaints are legit.  Isn't recess for running around.  How are they suppose to move with rules and restrictions like this.  I'm glad his teacher at least takes him out for recess.  I know parents who tell me about their children's teacher who "forgets" recess and they only go out a few days a week, or they take away recess as a punishment.  My 1st grader's teacher told me the kids can't play on the black top because it's too distracting for the classrooms whose windows face the black top.  I look out her window and see the playground...  So can kids not play on the playground because their classrooms face the playground?  Get curtains.  I learned that playground rules are set by the teachers of each grade.  So the many rules and rule changes are different for every grade.  There is no consistency and follow through.  I hear about them because my son is a complainer.  I'm doing something because I am an adult, and I think his complaints are worth fixing.   

I decided to put my time into improving movement and recess for all of the children.  Sure, there are children who are fine the way things are.  I have 2 of those children.  But I have one who isn't.  I know how the pressure of school crushed his little spirit.  I know how it increased his anxiety, and made him act "insane".  I know he's not alone.  Increasing recess time, and improving recess will help him, it will help other kids like him and it will help kids who are already fine in school.  No one gets hurt. If we ignore this because our child is fine, then we are ignoring the many children who are adversely affected by this treatment.  We are sitting by while those children are being diagnosed with ADHD, while they suffer with anxiety and depression, while they get punished at school for not listening, while they get punished at school for playing tag.  Why?  Why do we do this when we can help them and improve the quality of life for our own children.

If you look into the brain science behind it, the added pressure of the rigorous school work in this area, coupled with the lack of movement starting as young as kindergarten are a recipe for disaster. When we make mind AND body health a priority (because they are inseparably linked), we will start to see a change.  Not only in our children's health, but their ability to learn, to retain information and their ability to be happy and resilient.

By posting your support and your own story you will help inform those who are in charge of the school schedule, and those who have the money to improve recess by purchasing more equipment.

I will have a new post on exactly how increased movement and exercise will help all children not only physically, but mentally.  

What's your recess story?
Please post it on our Facebook group!

-Jana

Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy New Year! 2015 Summer pics!

Wow, I really can't believe it's already 2016!  Time flies when you are having fun…and when you're busy!  I thought I'd post our Christmas letter with a little summary and pics of our summer in 2015. It's always fun to look back at a year and see just how far you've come.


Day-by-day progress can be hard to measure, but the end of the year gives us an opportunity to see how our family’s lives have changed for the better…

Alyvia (12) is in middle school!  This year, she made the Chamber Choir and District Choir, as well as received a part in the middle school musical, Beauty & the Beast.  She also played the lead female roll in the 6th grade play, The Music Man this spring.  In July, she successfully planned and ran a week long princess camp for 3-4 year olds. She also went to her first concert, Taylor Swift, with her aunt Shana! Alyvia enjoys hanging with her friends, babysitting, drawing, and writing her novel, Sisters of Love.  When she’s not singing or doing the above, she plays soccer and swims!  Her soccer team won the house league tournament and she tore it up in the swimming pool this summer.  We love Alyvia’s sweet and fun personality and she has really impressed us with her accomplishments this year.

Berk (10) has excelled in homeschool and found a love of reading.  Some of his favorite books include:  A Single Shard, Where the Red Fern Grows, Holes, and Calvin & Hobbes.  Nothing makes Berk happier than competing with his friends on the field, the court, or in a game.  He loves Basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, and videogames.  Although he loves homeschool and the many friends he has made there, he is excited to join his friends at Marshall Road Elementary in January.  We love Berk’s intense passion, his sense of humor, and his loyalty to friends.


  Everett (7) loves first grade and is a friend to EVERYONE, often rolling down the car window to say hello to a passerby.  He excels in school and asks the most inquisitive questions.  He loves gymnastics, video games, and swimming.  He even placed in a few races this summer! He also loves casting Harry Potter spells with his friends after school. His sharp mind and sweet personality are a joy to us; he is a ray of sunshine in our family.

Lillian (3) loves anything princess and can be seen in a princess dress 99% of the time.  She constantly sings and dances while she plays.  Her new found love of Legos makes her daddy proud.  Since turning 3 in March she stopped taking naps, increased her vocabulary by 80% and can use the potty by herself! She is ready to take on the world! And though she speaks well, her facial expressions and body language communicate more than anyone’s words could.   We love our sweet, loving, happy girl.

Early this year, David (29) joined two partners at UBS Private Wealth where he can expand his clientele.  He enjoys utilizing his prior experience of leading the Bradley Family Office to guide people in their life decisions, wealth planning, and investments.  As part of his new routine, he often skates to work downtown on his Rollerblade!  David also teaches early morning seminary to high school students.  This year, they are studying the Old Testament.  Though tiring, he finds his time with teenagers who are on the cusp of adulthood to be a highlight of the day.

         Jana’s (29) successful homeschooling career is coming to an end this month.  The time demands of middle school (up at 6 am, homework until 10 pm) are simply incompatible with the all-day rigor of homeschool!  Lillian and Jana will miss having Berk at home, but can see he is excited to be back with his friends.  At church, Jana leads the music program for the 100+ children.  In September, the children’s program culminated in a touching tribute, called Gethsemane that left many eyes wet with tears.  Many people have privately said to Dave that she is the best Primary Chorister they have known.  Some of her singing lessons have included Bubble-gum Ben, Crying Mother, Magic Singing Spray, Lip-syncing Scripture Heroes, Archery, and Choir Bells.   (Dave wrote this and won’t let me take it out!)

Here are a few (50) pictures of our summer fun and Alyvia's play.  We had so much fun this summer.  Dave's sister Kristin and her family came to DC to tour and see church history sites with us!  Dave's brother Mark and his family came as well, so we had a fun cousin filled vacation!  We visited the church history sites in Palmyra, NY, then we ventured over to Niagara Falls.  After hours of waiting in line we finally got on the boat "Maid of the Mist" to get up close and personal with the falls.  I would highly recommend getting that view!!  The "Maid of the Mist" needs to take some note from Disney on how to manage a large crowd, it was frustrating to say the least.  One of my most terrifying moments was when the boat was so close to the falls, they literally made a horseshoe shape around us and Lillian, newly potty trained, looks up at me and says, "I need to go potty!"  Imagine trying to tell a toddler to hold it when thousands of pounds of water are falling all around her!  I should've put a pull up on her, but didn't realize the wait would be sooo looong.  But, our little angel held it!  Phew!  There are no bathrooms on the boats either!  It was then that I knew she was truly potty trained!  After our DC/NY trip, we traveled to GA to see our niece get sealed to her husband in the Atlanta temple.  It's was such a treat to get to go.  Lillian was one of her flower girls.  It was a beautiful wedding and reception!  I really should have 100 more pictures up here, but I'm having trouble loading them on the computer.   Watch out, when I get it all figured out this blog will be busting with pictures!  

Promptly after the wedding, we flew to Boise, ID to spend time with my parents and siblings.  We drove over to stay at my aunt Connie's cabin (Thanks Aunt Connie!!)  Nothing like visiting the wilderness and staying in a lap of luxury!  We four wheeled, fished and tubed behind my dad's boat.  I think he really enjoyed the thrill of making Dave fall off of the tube....we all did!  We saw West Yellowstone an Alyvia got her buffalo fix (she loves buffalo's!) and Lillian now has a love for them as well!  Go figure!  Dave took the boys for an epic journey through Yellowstone park filled with back roads, pot holes, interesting potty stops and the fear of getting lost...  luckily we sent him with 3 days worth of junk food!  Back roads plus no cell reception in Yellowstone does not equal a short cut!  He was only 4-5 hours late for dinner that night, but we're glad he made it!!  After our wilderness adventures we headed to UT to fill the children's minds with visions of going to BYU! We visited with our dear friends the Hardings, my childhood friend and BYU freshman roommate Krista, and the BYU Creamery!!  We ended the trip visiting Dave's 101 year old grandmother, who is so sharp, witty and a joy to be around!  She talks stocks and bonds with Dave and he's always so impressed with her knowledge!  We laughed because she fired her financial adviser this year because he seemed like he was giving up and letting her money just sit there... imagine someone doing that to a 101 year old!  Don't do that to GG!  We were also able to visit Dave's sister Jenette and Family!  Her hubby John works at the Church welfare store house (is that the right name?) and gave us a really cool tour!  Who knew a fridge could be so huge!  I love the church's welfare system and am so thankful for all of the people who work to help others.  It was a busy summer, but so fun and pretty  much epic.  One that we will not forget!


 Alyvia' as Marian the Librarian!

 Bike ride around the monuments!  We only lost Alyvia and Everett for 30 min...sent them to the bathroom and didn't expect Alyvia to go half way down the mall to find one.  (There is one at the Washington Monument)  Good thing the Washington Monument is easy to spot!
 Watching the Nats play!  Alyvia got the stomach flu and threw up at the game and had to go home, can you tell by her face?  She was so sweet about it.  Poor girl!
 Hiking!
 Dave's 37th bday!
 Swim team consumed our July!  Everett placed 1st and 3rd in a few races!  Don't you love his dive!!  Berk also got his first, place ribbon, third I think and Alyvia as well! (she's been placing for a few summers now)
 Dressing up for Alyvia's Princess camp!  She planned and organized a week long camp for 3-5 year olds. She had 6 girls com and did a different princess theme each day with crafts, games and stories. She also taught them a dance to perform on the last day.  I'm so proud of her for all of her hard work and planning!  The little girls loved it!
 Sisters!

 Everett at the ropes course.  He was fearless!
 The printing press in Palmyra where the first Book of Mormon was published!  Getting a picture of all of our kids smiling is impossible!
 Joseph Smith's home!
 Maid of the Mist, Dave really should've told me to take off the hat thing lol!
 Niagara Falls, part of it!
 Exhausted kiddos!  See the three amigos in the back seat.  The were inseparable this summer (Berk, Van, and Tristan)
 Hiking the Appalachian trail this summer!
 Flower girl at Amanda's wedding.
 Berk right after Alyvia teased him, trying not to look too amused, lol!
Checking out the front of the airplane!
 Dave and I drove to Rigby from Boise with no kids! (They were with my parents)  Freedom!!  We stopped at the new Twin Falls temple, it was beautiful!

The canyon at Twin Falls.

Road trip!  Ev loves to open the window and stick his head out.
 This time his hair stayed in place! lol!

 Big Judd's burger!
 He almost got it into his mouth!  One burger fed 6 people!!
 Fun with Grandma and Grandpa!  Thanks for the ice cream!
 Playing on the banks of the Lake by Aunt Connie's Cabin!


 Yellowstone!






 Bishops store house tour!  Look how BIG little John is!!
 This is the Place visitors center.  It was so fun with activities, houses, games ect..
 Digging for gems stones.  Each kid took home a bag full of gems that they found!


 Lillian playing a pioneer game!  The kids had a blast beating rugs, washing clothes, hoeing the garden... maybe I need to put them to work more often...
 Visiting Krista a BYU!  I miss her!!
 Family pic with the Y in the background!
 The Hardings!!!  Had a fun date night with Justin and Bridget!  Road in a funicular, almost died parking (according to Bridget lol) and had killer shakes!  Hmmm now I'm seeing a theme of death in our date..  We should've went sky diving...It was fun, exciting and always a blast to hang with the Hardings!
 The next day the men took the kids hiking.  You can see by this picture that they were very safe and well taken care of...  Bridget and I took Alyvia and Eve shopping and got our nails done.  It was so fun!  We miss the Hardings!!
 Grandma June!!!  101 years old!
Grandma June rides her bike every day!  Berk took a ride on her stationary bike and tried to burn a certain amount of calories.  Can you tell by his red face?  He did it!

We love GG and it was sad to leave.  It was a joy to see all of our family this summer.  We wish we could do it more often!  Even though we missed our friends and family, the fun adventures and crazy things we did this summer, it was still nice to sleep in our own beds when we got home.  I'm so glad we have the internet and cell phones to keep in touch with everyone.  

We love having you in our lives.  You have each touched our lives for the better.   We hope you have a warm and happy holiday season and we wish you happiness and success in the upcoming New Year!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Look who's three!! Our Little Princess!


I say this every year, with every kid, but I can't believe Lillian is already 3!  She is really adorable.  She has the cutest mannerisms and she uses them a lot because her speech is a little behind.  She tilts her head, smiles, hugs, kisses, shrugs her shoulders, bats her eyes...She jibber jabbers a lot and she's learning more new words daily.  One thing is very clear, she loves princess, especially Ariel, Rapunzel and Elsa.  We kept her birthday low key and had a princess tea party with her cute friend Sydney.  They were born a few days apart and love a lot of the same things.  See the unplanned matching Elsa dresses as evidence.  We love this girl and are so happy she is in our family!! 




 Everett joined the party!  A handsome prince!

 We let both girls blow out candles over and over again.  They had a blast!



 Is that not the cutest face ever!!
 Princess lego's from Sydney, what a hit!!

 Kisses from Everett!
 Return kisses from Lillian.  These two are very lovey and so cute!


 Frozen barbies!!
 She also LOVES Hello Kitty!!
 Princess Lillian!







 Aunt Shana's gift for Lilian's bedroom!  She loves it!
 Everett being silly and freezing Lillian!
 Peek-a-boo!




 Blowing out her candles!

So proud of herself.  Lillian has a self assurance and poise that I just love.  I'm excited to see what she does with her life.  We love you Lillian!!