Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome to The Jumping Bean!

Welcome! I'm so excited you're joining us! This blog is designed to be a place for adults who work with and rear young children to come for ideas, advice, and hopefully a little wit and wisdom. This blog will be a supporting aspect of an e-newsletter, which gives more detailed ideas and has an opportunity to hopefully answer more questions from readers!

To start off the first Jumping Bean blog, I thought I'd share a little bit about myself. My name is Michelle and I'm a mom of two wonderful children. My oldest is thirteen and my youngest, eleven. In my early twenties, I was lost in the maze we call "higher education"--I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with my life. I received a bachelor's degree in 1992 in psychology, and while I will never regret pursuing that degree, it left me with limited career options. I had begun working in child care centers during college, and continued to do so after I graduated. I couldn't figure out where to go from there, and in desperation decided to pursue a Master's degree in Social Work.

Social work is not for the faint of heart. To this day, I believe social workers, especially those who work in the government system, have one of the hardest jobs known to man. I completed a year long internship at the Department of Social Services in Norfolk, VA, and learned during that year that my future career prospects were not a good fit for me. A year away from graduating, I switched careers to pursue a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. By the time I completed my first class, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I received my Master's degree in December of 1998 and began teaching children in at-risk programs immediately after. Two years later I found myself in Oklahoma, married with two young children.

My children's early years now seem a blur, although I'm sure when they were young each day was truly twenty-four hours....and some probably seemed like many more! Once I was in Oklahoma, I accepted a position as an Instructor at a large university, where I taught at the laboratory preschool as well as undergraduate classes. The best part of my job at that time was its flexibility. I had the good fortune to have a career that allowed me to spend time with my children when needed. Both of my kids attended the lab school and I was able to be nearby. I will never regret that decision.

What I learned, though, in those early years, was how much pressure I put upon myself to be a good mother, and how difficult it was to meet my own expectations. Over the years, I have heard from many, many parents how they question themselves about parenting decisions, how isolated they sometimes feel, how they worry that they are not providing optimal experiences for their children. Gone are the days of our parents and grandparents; parenting is a muti-million dollar business. Everyone has a theory, and every theory promises that your child will be the best and the brightest, the most socially well-adjusted. In a world of so many competing ideas, what's a parent to do?

Enter the Jumping Bean! At this site, you can expect to get honest-to-goodness ideas for fun with your kids, based on strong, developmentally appropriate practices. Gain some great guidance tips, some meaningful learning activities, or grab a healthy snack idea and get cooking! Maybe you'd rather make some playdough with your kids--we'll have that too. Here at the Jumping Bean, the goal is to be a supporter of parents and teachers, so that we can all make the lives of children better.

Thanks for tuning in--and make sure to click on our links. Sponsors help to make the Jumping Bean possible! Then leave a comment below with your ideas of what you'd like to see, or just give a shout out to other parents and teachers, and be sure to sign up as a follower!

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