Practical Wisdom for Parents


Parents of kids under 5 who fear, are on the brink of, or feel trapped in the over-parenting frenzy must read Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years. Childcare veterans Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum created this informative, nonjudgmental, and assuring book to help modern parents gain (or regain) confidence in their own intuition and authority; confidence that Schulman and Birnbaum have seen crumble in the face of the extreme pressures facing modern parents.
Split into two sections - “school” and “home” - the authors/educators first walk parents through preschool options, the daily curriculum, separation anxiety, socialization, development, and the transition to kindergarten. They then cover an amazing range of “home” topics, such as routines, mealtimes, manners, family systems, discipline, morals and ethics, fostering independence, supporting play, talking about difficult topics, and family downtime. Throughout these sections, the book is replete with concrete tips and examples of how to handle various situations in a way that is supportive of your child while still – appropriately – being in charge. The authors also provide lists of recommended children’s books to help parents have conversations with their kids about various topics (e.g., starting school, friendship, feelings, self-esteem, manners, difficult topics).

Reading this book was aptly timed with Laurel’s transition to preschool this month and the departure of some of her friends, whose parents desired more “academically rigorous” preschool programs (truly, I still don’t even get what that really means for 3 year olds). It has made me sad to think of these kids hitting the fast track at age 3 and so I really took to heart, in particular, two statements presented by Schulman and Birnbaum. First, that a quality early childhood program can do a lot of things, but cannot guarantee a child’s success later in life, replace the importance of parents, or be a substitute for spending time with children (i.e., confidence and competence in kids is fostered through parental support and love, not a preschool that touts being Ivy League prep). Second, that the joys of our own childhoods - invariably “playing with my friends” not “learning French” - are the things that our own kids also will enjoy, learn from, and grow while doing.

Want to win a copy of Practical Wisdom for Parents? Email us by midnight EST tonight (US entrants eligible) and tell us the name of the renowned preschool that Schulman and Birnbaum direct. We’ll draw two winners from the correct responders.