When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit

 

By

 

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

As I was reminded at church today, Mother’s Day may be hard for some people. Some, like me, have lost their mother’s–in my case, six years ago. And while I can still celebrate her life she isn’t physically present to go out to lunch with or something like that. Others never had a mother–in the sense of one being present in their lives. Others couldn’t have children and desperately wanted to. Others have lost their children to miscarriages or other tragedies. Still others have had mothers who were abusive or negligent. And still others have a strained relationship with their mothers, and some mothers have a strained relationship with their children.

There are also people like me–people who lived most of their parenting lives as “Dad.” I will always be Dad to my kids–I know I was a father to them and I am glad for that. I am also their mother. So, for me, Mother’s Day is very special. I get to parent in a whole new way and in the same ways I did before coming out. Luckily for me my kids are amazingly supportive and I have already received Mother’s Day greetings from them. However, I am also one of those people who has always (even before coming out as trans) ached to be able to have children—I was always deeply envious of pregnant mothers. I have always ached to be able to nurse a child. I have come to accept neither of these things will ever happen–and I am no less a mother. So, to all the non-binary “Moms” or people who act as mothers to others–regardless of their gender. Happy Parent’s Day to you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people out there who mother other people’s children—teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians.  Blessings to all the foster moms and moms who have adopted children from around the world or their own communities.

And to all the grandmothers and aunts who have taken on the role of mother again because of special circumstances.  Blessings to all the grandmothers who simply get to grandmother grandchildren, and do so with wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the single Dads who serve as mothers all day, everyday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who have consciously chosen to not bear or raise children.  I am willing to bet there is someone or something in your life that you mother, and do so with grace, dignity, and love–be that a pet, a plant, a poem, or a person.

And of course, Happy Mother’s Day to ourselves–no matter who we are–for we all, one day, must begin, and never stop, mothering ourselves. It is just the way that it is–we all become our own mother’s one day–giving birth over and over again to ourselves.

To wrap up I would like to lift up all those for whom Mother’s Day is a hard day. Your soul and spirits are Mothers. You have been mothered by the world. You are Mothers of the world.

And also grieve, or be angry. Seek safe support to be with you today as you move through any difficult or challenging feelings and memories.

You are loved. You are special. And you are held in the hands of Mother Gaia.

 

IMG_20161101_170759

 

 


 

 


Thank you for your support.  All donations go to medical expenses and groceries. <3


My First Father’s Day Being a Mom, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

My First Father’s Day Being a Mom

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 rough and tumble

 

My boys say they’re OK.

When I asked them how they felt about it being Father’s Day, they said they were OK.  One asked if he still needed to get me something.  Another said he worked double time on Mother’s Day making cards for two moms and now he appreciates the day off.

I have the best kids ever.

When I think of the times I held them as infants on my chest and sang to them, when I think of pulling them in wagons and pushing them in strollers—all the times carrying them in front packs, the fishing trips, the chasing after ice cream trucks, the making bread and chimichangas, all the times we drew together, all the stories I told at bedtime, all the snake hunts and ootheca searches (praying mantis nests), all the movies (watching Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies over and over and over), all the times playing catch or pitching to them, or the time I took them out of school (along with my students) to take them to see the Parade downtown when the Phillies won the World Series in 08; the teaching them to drive, the times sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking soda and looking at books, the teaching the few guitar chords I know, the screaming at the top of my lungs at Battle of the Bands, the being so proud when they won first place–It wasn’t a lie.  All that daddying.  All that fathering.  It was real.  Always will be.  Nothing will ever change my having been their father.  No matter what anyone says, nothing can ever take those memories away.

My kids can see him in the old photographs with his scruffy goatee, scruffy clothes, silly grin.  They can see hear him in my voice and see him in my hands and face.

But I am Mom Number Two.  Always was.  It’s just none of us knew it until now.

My boys are my treasures.

I love them with all of my heart.

And not just because they support me as a transgender parent, not just because they have taken this whole journey so well, and with such class, love, and good humor; but because they are good and decent people, they are my flesh and blood.  They are my kids.  Nothing will ever change that.  No matter what I look like.  No matter what happens to this body.  Nothing can ever take away twenty years of fathering.

Nothing will ever change that I love them to the moon and back.  And always will.

 

Ben's graduation 2016

A family photo at Ben’s graduation this June, 2016.  He’s the middle one, with Sam to his right, and Daniel to his left–and then Mandy, Mom Number One, and then me, Jennifer, Mom Number Two.

 

 


 

 





Please support my Gender Confirmation Surgery and furthering transition.  Thank you. <3

Write From Your Love: the Art of Writing Birthday Verses and Poems for Children

Write From Your Love:

the Art of Writing Birthday Verses and Poems for Children 

By Joseph Anthony


 

There is a
tradition in some Waldorf Schools for class teachers to write “birthday verses”
for their students—poems in honor of their students’ birthdays.  Some teachers write a new one for their
students every year (in Waldorf Schools teachers travel up through the grades
with the same group of students); other teachers select a passage from one of
their favorite poets and suit it to their particular students (that’s also a
good way to introduce students to wonderful poets they might not otherwise know
of).  Some teachers have their students
memorize their birthday verse and recite it to the class; others simply give
the poems as gifts.

I have
written hundreds of poems for children over my 17 years teaching thus far.  Birthday poems, graduation poems,
students-leaving poems, etc.  It’s one of
the funnest parts of my vocation actually. 
Not only do their birthdays and other milestones afford me opportunities
to write poetry, I love writing poems that I know will mean something to them
in that moment and hopefully, for years to come. Today I am offering a small selection
of some recent poems I wrote for my first graders. 

Now some of
you might be thinking, “I can’t write poems.” 
To that I say: Yes you can.  You
can write poems or stories, you can sing, you can draw, you can dance.  You can do anything you want to.  Leave go the old, limiting voices.  It doesn’t matter if the poem rhymes.  The only thing that matters is that you think
about, pray for, and imagine the child you’re writing for; write from your love
for that child; write from your hopes for that child; what you would love to
see that child do, become, or be; write what you would love to say to that
child—words they will treasure (imagine words you would have loved to hear from
someone that meant something to you and then write those).  Envision that child in the light and write
that vision, write FROM that vision.  Write
to heal, write to instruct and guide, write to entertain, write to enlighten. You
can write with themes from the curriculum, from nature, from your own
relationship with your students. There is no right or wrong.  Write from the heart.  Most of all have fun.

All that
said, here are a few poems for young children. In another post I’ll share ones
I wrote for teenagers.

Peace,
Joseph

 

Little
Poems for First Graders

 

The
fledgling owl looked into the night,

And saw
that it was filled with light,

She drifted
like silence born with wings,

And touched
the heart of everything.

She knew
how to laugh and she knew how to care,

Her kindness
blessed the evening air,

She glided,
dreaming through the woods,

And made
it her mission to share the good.

 

********

 

Running
with the wind, my heart is free and strong.

Playing
with the forest creatures, joining them in song.

Exploring
paths of dappled wonder, breathing in the light,

I am
peaceful in myself, my thinking clear and bright.

 

***********

 

Said
the oak to the seed, “Dear one, dear star,

Treasure
this truth: you are loved as you are,

You
shine and you thrive, perfectly you,

Breathe
easy in knowing this wonderful truth.”

 

****************

 

Poised
between running and dancing,

The
rabbit stopped to talk with the sun,

He
learned to breathe, and that all was well,

And
then he played until the day was done.

 

*************

 

“You
are taken care of,” said the earth to the seed,

“You
have all of the warmth and light you will need,

It
comes from the world and it comes from your heart,

Breathe
easy in knowing this right from the start.

You
will blossom and grow so please do not worry,

Just
be who are and try not to hurry.

You
are held dear one in the arms of the Light,

So
rest now and dream through the long winter night.”

 

 

 





 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Value of Making Mistakes, A Little Poem to Help Overcome Perfectionism

On the
Value of Making Mistakes

By

Joseph
Anthony

 

Dear Wonder
Child Blog Readers,

What follows
is a little poem I originally wrote 16 years ago for one of my first grade
students who would cry every time she made a mistake in her drawing books.  Since that time I have taught it to every
student I have taught—from first grade through 8th.  Whenever one of my students says, “Oh, no, I
messed up,” I say, “Spilled milk is a mess, my dear, you just made a
mistake.”  And then I start reciting this
poem. 

No matter
what age you are, if you have trouble accepting yourself for making mistakes,
if you think you have to be perfect in everything you do, if you don’t allow
yourself the freedom and dignity to make mistakes, this poem is for you.  Memorize it, post it wherever it might help
you or someone else you love to remember that it is not only OK to make
mistakes, it’s part of the journey, it means you’re up and doing, taking
healthy risks. 

So have fun,
make mistakes, and remember your wonderfulness when you do.

Peace and
Light,

Joseph

 

Kings
and Queens

By Joseph
Anthony

 

Kings
and Queens can never grow,

Without
mistakes to use as guides,

They
help us know the way to go,

And
gold within their heart resides.


 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


I Am a Star: A Creative Visualization for Children of All Ages

I Am a
Star:

A
Creative Visualization

For Children

Of All
Ages

 

I originally
wrote this for my first graders but it can easily be applied to any age
children—even grown-ups.  It was
originally written as a song, which you’ll see (hear) in a minute.  I am presenting the visualization here as if you
are going to do it.  That way, you can
get to know it before you share it with any children in your care.  Once you have learned it and want to share it
with say, children aged 5-7, you can dovetail it with a little arithmetic study
and look at the number 5 as a living thing—it’s a star (pentagon), 

and it lives
in the center of an apple cut in half width-wise, 

and in the form of a human
being with their arms and legs outstretched.

That said,
the visualization is short yet profound, especially for those children already
carrying the idea that they aren’t good enough, or that they’re bad, stupid, or
dumb.  This little visualization, when done
regularly, will help such children (and all children) touch their innate
goodness and light.

You can do
this visualization anywhere and anytime you need to feel yourself filled with
Light.
J

OK, let’s
get started.

Watch this
video beginning at 4:13 so you can learn the song.  
Let yourself sing it and freely move the gestures
(or make up your own).
  Young children
especially learn with their whole body, so definitely encourage them to do the
gestures, and you can do that best by doing the gestures first and then with
the children.

The words to
the song are as follows:

I am
star with a Light in my body,

I am a
star with a Light in my mind,

I am a
star with a Light in my heart,

I shine
my Light all of the time.

I shine
for myself and I shine for you,

I
shine my Light in all that I think, say, and do.


*

Find
a comfy place to sit or stand.

Close
your eyes.

Breathe
in slowly and deeply

Filling
your belly.

Hold
that breath a second or two.

Then
slowly let that breath go.

Do
that 3 or 4 times.

Now
look inside your mind.

Find
your star.

Find
the star that lives in you.

Everyone
has a star living in them.

Find
your star.  See your star.

See
your star shining within you.

It’s
there, just behind your eyes,

Right
there in your mind.

You
can feel it

Shining
in your heart.

Be
with your star.

Let
its Light shine in you.

And
today

Let
your star shine

In
your thoughts.

Let
your star shine

In
your deeds.

Let
your star shine

In
the words you speak.

Let
your star shine

In
all that you do.

Hold
that star.

It
is always with you.

Forever
more.

That
star IS you.

Now
be in silence for a few moments

Seeing
your star shining within you.

Now
open your eyes.

Know
that you shine.

Know
that YOU

Are
a star.

*

As you go
through the day with the young children (or yourself) you’ve shared this visualization
with, you can point out times when they share star-thoughts, star-actions, and star-words.  Praise your children as they shine.  Praise yourself as you shine. 

Have fun,
and keep shining.
J

“This
little light of mine….”


 

 

 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Finding Your Center: A Pedagogical Story For Anxious Children of All Ages

Finding Your Center

A Pedagogical Story for Anxious Children

of All Ages


As many of
you know I am back in the Waldorf School teaching first grade.  It is such a gift to be able to freely teach
the whole child.  One of the ways this is
done is through stories.  Since the first
day of school I have been telling the children a running story that weaves
around the Great Secret of Beauty.  In
the story a boy and a girl, a grandfather, an angel, a dragon, and various other
characters appear and have many adventures and talks together. The subjects and
themes of the story are culled from where I think the emotional states of the
children are.  Since there are a few students
who are a little nervous or anxious for one reason or another, this part of the
story came out.  It is for all children,
big and small who sometimes feel afraid and do things they wish they didn’t.

One day the
boy was sitting in the grass in his backyard. 
He had been thinking about what the dragon had said to him the day
before.  For sometimes when it seems a
child is not listening, it is well to remember that it only seems that
way.  Children are listening, and when
they are ready they will reflect on what you have said.  And on this particular morning, the boy was
thinking about what his friend the dragon had told him the day before.

“I used to
hit people with my tail,” said the dragon, “In fact, I used to eat people. I
don’t know why I did these things.  I
guess I was actually nervous and afraid and my fears came out like that.  And besides, people are yummy.”

“But how did
you learn to not hit and eat people?” asked the boy.

“Time,” said
the dragon, “it took time and practice.”

“Will I ever
change?” asked the boy, “I don’t want to hit my friends and say mean
things.  I just want to have fun and
sometimes I worry I will never change.”

And as he
was remembering the dragon’s answer he heard another voice, a tiny, slow voice.  One that came as if it measured every word it
said.

“You are
changing,” said the voice, “and your friend was right, it takes time.”

“How did you
know what I was thinking?” the boy asked the keeper of the voice he could not
yet see.

“You were
thinking out loud,” said the voice.

And then the
boy’s ears caught the direction of the sound and when he followed that direction
with his eyes, he found the source of that slow, measured voice.  It was coming from a snail sliding slowly
towards him carrying his great, spiraling house upon his back.

“Oh, hello
snail.”

“Good
morning,” said the snail stopping to rest on the leaf of an autumn colored mum.

“So you
think I can change?” asked the boy, “You really think I will stop hitting other
children?  I really don’t want to hurt
anyone.  It’s just that sometimes I get so
mad, especially when I’m feeling scared, and then before I realize what’s
happened, I’ve hurt someone.”

“Can change?”
said the snail, “You are changing.  Some
changes are quick, like a shooting star flashing across the night sky; other
changes are slow, like winter melting into spring.  You need to practice of course, find other
ways to move through your fears and worries. 
You need to find your center. But you are changing, rest assured.”

“My center?  What does that mean?”

“It’s how I
built this house I carry with me.  And I
built it without any hands.”

“I’m afraid
I don’t understand,” said the boy, “sometimes I feel like I don’t understand
anything.”

“Well,” said
the snail, “walk the path of my house with me. 
I’ll lead you around the lawn.  As
we walk the shape of my spiraling shell, think of a place you like to go when
you are feeling afraid.  Think of a thing
you like to do that helps you feel calm, peaceful, and happy.  And as we walk this spiraling walk you will
discover your center.”

And so the
snail slipped slowly to the ground and began sliding through the grass a great
spiral, a labyrinth that slowly unfurled inwards towards a still, focused center.  The boy walked behind the snail, careful not
to go ahead or step on the snail, for his steps were much bigger than the
sliding trail of the talking snail.  As
they moved together, the boy thought about times he was mad or afraid, nervous
or scared and he suddenly remembered that when he felt those ways he often
found himself drawing.  In fact, as he
neared the center of the spiral he knew—drawing was his centering place. And as
he stood in the center of the spiral, the spiral drawn by the snail, he felt
happy and relieved to know he had a place to go when he felt uncomfortable
feelings.

“So you see,”
said the snail, with a voice as gradual as the dawn, “we all have a
center.  We all have something we can do,
or a place we can go where we can pause, rest, and calm ourselves down.  And when we go to that place, or do that
thing, over and over, over time and over years, we build ourselves a house, a
house we can carry within, well, in my case on my back, but the point is, we
build ourselves a house of habits—healthy, helpful habits.  And these become a safe place to go.”

“I
understand,” said the boy, “is it OK if I have more than one centering place?”

“Of
course!  You humans are like that.  They have many mansions within themselves
that they can explore when they need to.”

“Oh good,”
said the boy, “because mostly I draw when I’m feeling nervous, but other times
I go for walks, ride my bike, talk with grandfather, and sometimes, and you’re
the first person I’ve ever told this: sometimes I even sing and dance.”

“Wonderful!”
said the snail, “Thank you for telling me. 
Those are all perfect places to go and things to do to find your center.  And the more you go to those places, and the
more you do the things you love, you will find yourself hitting your friends
less and less.  You will find yourself
saying fewer and fewer naughty things. 
In fact you will see that your friends have their own centering places
and things they love and you’ll know then that they too have hearts that
sometimes feel afraid and nervous just like you do, and then you will find
yourself just being nice because you are really so much alike.  And oh, what fun you will have sharing your
centers, inviting your friends to walk with you, draw with you, and sing with
you.”

“That does
sound fun,” said the boy.

“Well,” said
the snail, “I must be off, I have to get into town soon and meet the man who
owns the bicycle store. I am going to buy a bike today!  Toodle-Loo!”

“Wait,” said
the boy, “I have one more question please.”

“Ask away.”

“Well,
sometimes I forget my centering places. 
What should I do then?”

“Breathe,”
said the snail, “Breathe deeply from your belly, still yourself like a mountain,
and that will help center you.”

“Thank you,”
said the boy.

“You’re
welcome,” said the snail, “and another thing you can do to help yourself find
your centering place is to talk with someone you trust.  Sometimes we all need help finding our centering
places.”

And with
that the snail raced towards town, which if you were looking at the snail you would
never have guessed he was racing.  You
would have just thought: “There goes the slowest friend I know.  Look at him go carrying his house upon his back,
carrying his centering place that he built without any hands; that he built
with the slow, patient practice of centering himself.  There he goes to go buy a bike.  A bike? 
How is he going to ride a bike?”

And once the
story was over, without me ever asking: “Do you have a centering place or
something you do that helps you feel better when you’re feeling afraid?”, the
children, one by one, shared their centering places.

“I go to a
still, quiet place.”

“I draw.”

“I go for
walks.”

“I ride my
bike.”

“I
skateboard.”

“I sleep.”

“I read.”

“I pet my cat.”

And while I
did not ask them, I will ask you.  

“Where
is your centering place?  

What do you do
when you’re feeling anxious and afraid?”

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Breathe, Listen, Watch, Transcribe–the Art of Pedagogical Stories, Part One: First Day of School Jitters


Breathe, Listen, Watch, Transcribe

The Art of Pedagogical
Stories, Part One: First Day of School Jitters

I recently
got word that one of the first graders I am going to teach in the fall was
feeling nervous, full of questions, and anxious about starting school.  And as so often happens with me when I hear a
child is having some sort of issue, a story popped out.  Sometimes I share these stories with the
children, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes
they are for me to learn from and gain insights into the situation.  Other times, like this story, they are clearly
written for the child in question and need to be shared. 

This is an
example of a “pedagogical story”—a story designed to address an emotional,
behavioral, academic, or social issue that a student or class may be
experiencing.  Pedagogical stories are
wonderfully gentle interventions to meet children of all ages, especially younger
ones, at their level—the level of wide-open imaginations and open hearts.  Such stories have the ability to work their
way right into the hearts and minds of children and give the children the power
or permission to transform or resolve whatever the issue is for themselves.  Pedagogical stories honor the child’s experiences,
concerns, and struggles.  And since
children (and many adults who strive to keep this ability alive) think in
pictures, the language of the story—the language of the heart and imagination
is an ideal way to effectively reassure, inspire, comfort, redirect, and heal many
of the concerns of children.  They are a
tool that can be used by parents and teachers alike.  And while a story might be written with one particular
child in mind, it is often the case that if one child is experiencing a concern
most likely others in the class are as well.  So some stories are told for one, others for
the group.  This story, a simple yarn
about a bear cub and a bear, was written for one.

Some parents
and teachers think pedagogical stories are nice for those that can write
them.  Some believe they can’t “make up
such stories.”  They’ll say, “Oh well,
you’re a writer, Joseph, it’s easy for you. 
I just can’t think of what to write.”

To these
concerns I would say: let the story be born from your love for the child.  Really. 
Let it arise from the heart of the matter.  There is no need to “make up” a story.  The story is living in the situation.  It just takes a little attention, a little
care and effort to think of the issue in terms of an image and let the story
blossom from that.  Most of the images
and stories will come from nature—animals, birds, butterflies, trees—let the
language of nature clothe the particular issue and let this happen freely.  Of course, one can always pray before writing—for
guidance and insight.  One can simply
start writing, as I do, without any thought or plan—well, there’s a plan to
help comfort a child if I am writing a pedagogical story.  But in general, for me, the stories are
there, waiting to be harvested from the Garden of Inspiration, plucked from the
Tree of Life, gathered from the Fields of Dreams; netted from the Lake of
Wonders.  And while this may sound
flowery, it’s my experience.  

Most
stories are like most children (and adults)—they are aching to be seen.  And they will open themselves before you if
you take the time to quiet yourself enough to listen and watch.  If I “try” to write a story, it will come, but
most often, it will crawl from the pen painstakingly and be crippled in some
way.  And if it does come through my
force, it will come out only to go hide somewhere in the corner of the room
perhaps forever.  If I approach the issue
a child is having with an open, compassionate heart, a heart of understanding
and knowledge of where children “are at,” then the stories just come.  You can always edit and revise the initial
story—prune, weed out repetitive words and so on, after the story sprouts, but
that’s for later.  For now, take a deep
breath.  Try it. 

Think of a
child you know and love who is experiencing some sort of concern.  It might be a little one, so to speak, and
the story might be three lines long—just an image for the child to hold onto
that honors them and gives them hope.  It
might be more involved and take many days to write and tell.  But try it. 
Your heart will be in the right place, so you cannot make a mistake
here.  Of course, I rarely, rarely, rarely
mention a particular child’s name in a pedagogical story—in fact; I often
change the child to an animal, or change the gender of the child, age, etc…that’s
really the only big guideline as I see it. 
The rest will come when you are even a little bit open and willing to
sit down a minute (or walk, some stories come to those who move).  So breathe through the experience; think of a
child you know who is experiencing an issue of some sort and let a story approach
you and reveal itself to you—you just listen and write it down—that’s really
the formula for the initial story—breathe, listen, watch, transcribe.

And then
share this gift to the child—tell it by heart, and know you have truly touched
the heart, mind, and soul of a child. 

Here’s the
story that came for one of my first graders:

 

Keepers of the Castle

Once upon a
time a wonderfully Bright and Kind Bear Cub stood at the edge of a Great
Forest.  Inside the woods a path towards
an Enchanted Castle wove through the trees like a shining, golden river.  Music and laughter could be heard in the
distance.  The Bright and Kind Bear Cub
wanted so badly to step into the forest and onto the path, but she was nervous.

“What will
it be like in there?” she thought.  “Will
I have fun?”  “Will anyone be mean to
me?”  “What will I learn there?”  “Will the Keepers of the Castle be nice and
friendly?”  “Where will I sit at the
table?”  “Will I be next to my
friends?”  “What if I make mistakes?”
“What if I say something silly?”

As all of
these questions, and more like them, fluttered through her mind and stomach
like so many butterflies, she suddenly heard a low, but friendly growl coming
from the forest.  Then she heard huge
paws padding towards her through the underbrush.  A crack of twigs and branches shot off like
fireworks and there in front of her stood an Enormous Black Bear. 

“Oh dear,”
said the Bright and Kind Bear Cub, “Who are you?”

“I am one of
the Keepers of the Enchanted Castle,” said the Big, Black Bear, “I have come to
answer your questions and invite you to join us.  We need other Keepers.  Kind Keepers, Bright Keepers, Keepers Who
Care about Themselves and Others.  We need Keepers like You.”

“Me?” She
said surprised.

“Yes you,”
he said, “I can feel your kindness all the way from inside my den.  Now, are you ready to have your questions
answered, and are you ready for a wonderful adventure?”

“Y-yes,”
said the Bright and Kind Bear Cub, “but may I ask one question before we go?”

“Of course,”
growled the Big, Black Bear.

“Will I be
OK?  Will you love me?”

“That’s two
questions,” laughed the Big, Black Bear, “And the answer to both questions is:
Yes.  You are already OK and always will
be.  Your heart is Kind and full of
Laughter and Light.  And I love all of
the Keepers of the Enchanted Castle. 
Together we make an Enchanted Castle that is Safe, Fun, and full of Laughter,
Learning, and Song.  How does that
sound?”

“Lovely,”
said the Bright and Kind Bear Cub, “But I have one more question.”

The Big,
Black Bear nodded.

“May we go
now?” she asked, “I’m ready.”

The Big,
Black Bear laughed a laugh so loud the surrounding trees shook their branches and
rained down their autumn leaves.  And
then the Big, Black Bear bowed before the Bright and Kind Bear Cub inviting her
to climb aboard his back.  She laughed
and did just that.  Together they
wandered their way through the magic forest towards the waiting, Enchanted
Castle.

********

Go ahead
storyteller–we’re all storytellers and gatherers–a story is hatching within
you right now.  You can do this, you know
you can: breathe, listen, watch, transcribe…


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Education Defined

Within the
darkness a light is born.  Like a sigh it
sinks deep into the folds of the blackness where it sings ever so softly.  Its song is its breath.  Its breath is its song.  And it grows, steadily, gracefully, until one
day it unfurls into the darkness as a star. 
And the darkness shoots away from that light giving it room.  The darkness flies from the light, not out of
fear, but respect.   For the darkness has
nothing to fear from the light.  The
darkness is not annihilated in its presence, it simply gives way, as a dance partner
bows and lets the other move freely.  And
the light continues to sing.  Only now
the song rises from its heartbeat, from its movement, from its sense of wonder,
from its sense of purpose.  For the light
holds within its hands the seeds of a destiny, a destiny that will change the
universe forever.  However the light
lacks one thing: direction.  It doesn’t
know where to plant the seeds.  For a
long time this little absence of information doesn’t bother the light, but as
it continues to grow, it senses somewhere deep inside that it needs a guide, a
teacher, a gardener–another light, to help fulfill its destiny.  And so with all of the confidence of the dawn
the light descends.  It drifts down, down,
down, slipping along spiraling currents, through rainbow-strewn caverns, and through
dark, dense forests.  The further it
trails down along its journey, the more its faith grows that the seeds of its destiny
are safe; so it tucks them away in the soil of its own heart and lets them sleep.  And it falls and falls reveling in the idea
that it is on its way to fulfilling its dream. 
One day it enters the Milky Way, veering towards the solar system
rounding the sun. It touches down upon the earth, where it spies a certain
continent and a country within that continent. 
It swims towards that country, heart shimmering with anticipation.  It weaves down into a state within that
country, right into the flow of a certain city, and into a borough, and then, with
one grand and joyous pirouette, it enters a building nestled among the trees. Finally
it settles, sitting before you in the highest form of its manifestation–a
child—ready; hands, heart, and mind hungry. 
She has chosen you; she has chosen
to be in your classroom.  And inside you
bow before that child.  You sense the
importance of her journey.  And with the
deepest reverence and love you step forward to shepherd this great light
towards a garden into which she will sow her seeds of destiny; a garden you
might not ever see; but you will know, that since you taught her with integrity
and a gentle, unyielding spirit, and with humor, her garden will help feed and
beautify the world.  Your light will
shine with her light, and together you will spread wildflowers across the land.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Learning to Fly: A Playful Video Story For Young Children of All Ages That Teaches Us How to Deal With Expectations, Especially Expectations About Going to School (now that’s a long title)

In this video, which starts out with me having a little silly, fun, I tell a story that I wrote for one of my first graders nearly 15 years ago.  On the second day of school this little girl came in with a note from her mom saying that her daughter was terribly disappointed about how the first day of school went.  You see the little girl had the expectation that she was going to learn to read on the first day of school, and when she didn’t, she no longer wanted to come back. 

This story, which will someday soon come out as a picture book, will help children see that sometimes learning looks different than we think it should and that sometimes it’s even hard.  The rewards however, are wonderful—we get to soar.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Parenting and Teaching Tips: How to Teach the Multiplication Tables in Fun and Active Ways

The times tables have been a bugaboo for parents, teachers, and students for generations.  Teachers teach them and children learn them, only to forget them over the summer.  Then the teachers reteach them and children learn them again, only to forget them the following summer.  Teachers get frustrated, parents get frustrated, and worst of all, children begin thinking that there is something wrong with them and teachers start labeling them with learning problems instead of reevaluating their teaching methods

How can we teach the times tables so they stick?  How can we teach them so that children not only learn them, but retain them? 

The answer lies in HOW we teach them.  This video gives several techniques I have used over my 15 years as a teacher.  Put them into practice and not only will the times tables-facts sink in to children’s minds, but into their hearts and bodies as well.  Moreover, you will both love the process by which this occurs.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog