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"Life's Little Life Jackets" - a chat at Woodford with parents on preparations for tricky times...

Life’s Little Life jackets, was a chat I was asked to present at the children's festival as a way of supporting parenting from a personal perspective guided by my wife and children as I bumbled my parenting way along.

Some initial ideas for the fridge.

Have blank fridge magnets, to do sketches onto the fridge 0r give

as gifts, play pictionary, transfer sketches onto the fridge as mystery

sketches to guess latter.

Youngsters draw a picture for something that makes them happy,

or makes them sad, or of a job or two they can do at home, then the parent can guess what it is.,

Develop a Moon count Calendar for the family agreeing on 1 significant event between full moons and draw an image for it for our family calendar. ( )

Develop a personal leather neck charm.

Have blank leather American MOON counts to draw on 3 things that

are important to them, and cut it out and wear as a charm about them. DO this every year then save them.

Listen to : Story of trees helping each other, Dr Karl on Radio National, listen to Life Matters each morning,

The Native American Code of Ethics Children are the seeds of our future. You need to plant love in their hearts and shower them with wisdom and precious life’s lessons. When they're grown, give them space to mature.

This is a summary of my notes chatting at Woodford's Children's festival Big Ideas tent. Qualifications - Naval Officer Sub Lieutenant, Mechanical Engineer in Vibration Analysis for BHP, Primary School teaching Yr 1-3, High School Teaching Yr 8-12, University Tutor in Mathematics, Scouting 30yrs as leader, Cubs, Venturers, Technology Administrator for Schools teacher 25yrs. Life and youth line counsellor. ( BEng, Dip ED )

I have no current Qualifications in Social Work, No current Psychology qualifications, no disability services or drug guidance qualifications, just a love of children - and I observe well loved children are easily good,

I have been a son, am a father of a daughter and 4 sons, and grandfather of 5 and husband of 1, brother of 2. My Father’s father was left in a shoebox at an orphanage, and my dad was a foster boy, and I lived a bit with my grandma growing up I learnt how to ride a bike and fit tyres with my Dad, who was always gentle, mum was a hard worker and always there to cook and clean and care for us.

I can suggest fun ways to spend time, adventurous ways to explore, challenging ways to play games, honest ways to guide the misdirected, and steady ways to navigate rough waters. All through being observant and loving unconditionally my life partners and believing I have a responsibility to my children and others doing it tough to make sure they are prepared, ready and willing to be OK, and if I am still invited to be part of their lives with their own families that is a real bonus.

Life's little life jackets -

Parenting is just like taking off on a flight, It'll come with suggestions to be prepared in case of turbulence in parenting.

...we are about to take off & embark on a journey with no warnings of turbulence, little to no opportunity for Undisturbed sleep, repeated exposure to many unwell, ill, contagious others, Regular demand for appropriate action with No previous experience and little idea , limited competence, and no-one left to blame. No meals provided, no one there to always answer your call for assistance, and after a journey lasting anywhere from hours, days, weeks or years, with no ETA. And then it could be somewhere amazing or not- Buckle up, brace yourself and come along for the ride of a lifetime.

Support, ideas and balance for me came from my wife (General Nurse, Midwife and Psychiatric Nurse, stay at home mum), Rudolf Dreikurs ( ) on a program called STEP (Systematic training in Effective Parenting), NMA (Nursing Mothers Association), William Glasser Reality and choice therapy, Tough Love program, and PET (parent effectiveness training) and Teacher training in Primary then secondary.

MY THOUGHTS of recipes for children.

Recipe for a boy or girl Start with love well seasoned and fresh. Add a squeeze of hug, with responsibility ( not overdone ) An ounce of character, mixed well with honesty in a rough and tumble shell.

Mix with a large dog for taste, and strength. Clean up own mess with guidance. Throw in balls, bats, racquets, marbles, rope and punching bag. Mould with music, dance, art, drama and ... Half baked story detector ready Place in a moderately high treehouse for regular warmth until as you would like.

"Adventure with hugs" My balance of what makes a beautiful youngster, ready for adulthood. Stories, riddles, adventure, .....To be continued

Wanted to sell Ad the perfect youngster, what traits would you cite as the best ones?... to be continued Wanted to sell Ad for the perfect parent, what traits would your young ones cite as the best ones for the add to sell you?... to be continued

I used to get new classes to publish a pretend add for the best teacher in the subject, they generally always came up with 10 similar attributes around, No Homework, Have fun, Know your stuff, No yelling, Plenty of hands on learning, be Patient, Love Kids, Lots of stories, be continued. This then was my teacher report card for them to assess me.

"Survival kit for youngsters" Love, responsibility, skills, independence, exciting experiences A knife, compass, hanky, needle/thread, pencil/paper, torch, magnifying glass, band aids, fish hook, some twine, a be continued

"What should youngsters know by the time they leave school? " Not maths, science, English but... About chivalry, safe behaviour, know about drugs/ grog, kindness, world affairs, know first aid, know how to cook, grow things, tend to living things, love of books, techno savy, confident camper, safe traveller, play a musical instrument, be able to relax, intimacy, manage money, have tool box, a poem in your pocket, pay attention, learn to meditate, yoga, competent climber, navigate, explore, life long learner, dream, manage free time, play games, exercise, be employable, tidy up your own messes. Knowledge of self, community, planet,know how to light a fire, and tie knots safely in the environment,

Ways to reconsider how the game is played

SPORTS Choosing teams, get 1st captain to select 1 player for the opposition, other captain does the same, then the just chosen players also pick a player for the opposition, and on it goes. This then gets those commonly picked last first and gives everyone a chance to pick the opposition.They start working as a team in their thinking at once.

2 bounce squash,

To keep the competition fair stronger players give a 2 bounce option for the competition.

2 bounce volleyball

1 bounce or 2 bounce players on volleyball team, are generally the ones so young they cannot walk (2), or catch if it is an easy throw(1) Younger players on your team gives the entire team an advantage of 2 bouces, once caught no-one moves and the 2 bounce player must catch the ball from their team mate then with help - lifted or? get the ball back over the net. first star soccer, family teams play until someone spots the first star, so generally the winning team keeps distracted by looking up to spot it, that finishes the game , unless of course it is a planet (venus is the evening star) croquet soccer, mini golf, both great to set up together and play in the back yard

Cycling one handed, then other single handed, swap handed, and one handed. then try swapping left and right hands on the handle bars, then have a go sitting backwards..

Frisbee volleyball


Losing in sport, it means I am playing someone better, so I improve.- it is better for me and my skill when my opponent wins, if I have been trying my best.

I always tried my hardest, changing the rules or scores or handicap to suit so the game is fair, each participant has equal chance to win if they try their hardest Darts or table tennis I used my less preferred hand, or fewer darts or gave them a second bounce, or me a shorter table side to aim for.

Fox and hounds they would get twice as many hounds ( ) Naughts and crosses played on a 4 by 4 grid not 3 by 3, and in turns you get a point for 3 in a row and 2 points for 4 in a row, everybody generally gets some points. Dots and dashes learning players get 2 turns each time I get 1.

Chess, the opposition gets to remove as many of my pieces as the opponent wishes to get the team even, then you can alter the way it is played as well, change the games, 007 chess, turn around chess, rebound chess, minefield chess (, )

Draughts the stronger player plays with half the men, or give the learner 4 kings at the start. Naughts and crosses are better played on a 4 by 4 squared allocate 1mark for 3 in a row, 2 marks for 4 in a row, keep score

OR Big kids Cross and Naughty - place 9 chairs in a 3 by 3 grid for a 6 player game shorts player team 1 seats first, shortest player team 2 sits second continue until all players in the set order (height order) are seated then team 1 player1 must move, team2 player 1 must move and contuse to move in order (it is essential to move in correct order for the game strategy to be seen at its best.) 9 men morris, is similar but with 9 men per side on a board with 2 players.

dots and dashes,

racing scrabble, take 2 scrabble, scrabble with no real words but able to makeup a definition,

Fictionary - ( ) where words are found and meanings are invented and then people decide on their preferred meaning and marks allocated to the correct guessers and the meanings written that would incorrectly guessed as correct.

In the Pool Twister in the pool, - tricky keeping the mat down volleyball rebound in the pool, off a wall I spy something that is the colour of...

Customs Officers, where 1 team hides 10 redhead matches on their persons' team, so an impartial judge can still see it, then without touching, the other team have 1 minute to find all matches and have it confirmed, teams swap and go again.

Favourite games Word game for 4, 6 or 8 players, teams of 2, each with pencil and paper, each writes 3 words (easy words dog, cat, flower...hard words bulb, target, herbs..), 1 player shows the 1st opponent on their right their 1st word, they then say 1 word as a clue to get their partner to say the first word - no charades, just say one word, if they guess it their team gets 10points, if not the word owner gets to give their partner another 1 word clue for the same word, if they guess it 8points, and on it goes. (4 players), if more players, the other teams get to guess it before the owners has a crack.

Scrabble (,130,hcb.html )

Take 2, each player takes 5 letters from the stack of face down pile in the centre they use all 5 letters then first to call take 2, everyone takes another 2 and must include them into their own collection of connected words, and call take 2 when first one has connected them all, continue and score your connected words plus letters from opponents not used.

Racing Scrabble - in turn each player turns up a letter from the centre collection of all letters facing down, as soon as anyone sees enough letters to make a word they call it and take that letters to make the word in front of them, until someone calls another word with the same letters re-arranged or including new letters being upturned then taking all the letters for the new word in front of them, very cut throat.

Lateral thinking riddles, ( Mindtrap is a game full of them ) answers never given, and as 1 gets the answer they give enough to let know they know without revealing answers to others, a good game around a fire away from mobile phone signal. Eg: Romeo and Juliette were found dead on the floor surrounded by broken glass

Eg: 2 white hats, 2 black hats, all facing a brick wall buried up to the neck, 3 one side and 1 on the other side of the wall, I say to them all "tell me when you know what colour hat you are wearing" Now the riddle is for you, reading this- Why is it that the second person on the side of the three always knows what colour hat they are wearing? Always! It is tricky getting your head around the answer even when worked out.

Treasure hunts, every birthday morning had riddles to solve, codes to crack and presents to find ( sometimes I never got to bed before they were up and ready to start to explore.

Up Jenkins,

Juggle- sand balls, 100’s and 1000’s, great activity to practise left right head swapping brain crossovers. Hand ball bouncing

SHOPPING Taking children shopping ( make sure all are well rested and not hungry), play hide and seek, race to find the product, have a map to search, shop after a good feed. Each youngster had a little shopping list to collect in their trolley.

CHATTING Always better to chat eye to eye. without interruption, they need you there with them then. Pat/ squeak/ tsk secret sound signal , Even when the grandkids come now I make secret sounds to send to the parents- spitting after cleaning teeth, using the mortar and pestle to crush nuts for porridge, Have a secret sound for secret attention, Hold hand to secretly interrupt you when chatting with someone else. Holding hands to secretly let know you wish a chat

HOLIDAYS Set up a music centre, a painting centre, a clay centre, a origami centre, paper plane area, lego area, cooking area Let the youngsters learn how to prepare their favourite dish well. (Korma) Make spaghetti, pizza dough, yoghurt strawberry banana freeze pops Make a list before the holidays for 3 free things to do ( visit bike park, make a kite, swim at the river, hike up a mountain, camp out in the back yard, make a go kart, play a board game, play cards, have a nerf gun war, make water bomb traps, and 1 costing thing to do for each youngster Eg: go to the pool, camp at the coast, visit a theme park, go to a movie, go to a cafe, ride a horse, hire a new computer game, have a friend over, visit a zoo, go to a museum, Hide a "Wally" in photos while travelling, dogs, cats, Nanna., sundial..then when we send the photos they get to try and find where nanna is hiding

Morning surprises under cups, cheese, sultanas, nuts, dried fruit, smartie, ginger, small sangers, 100’s and 1000’s a treat for each child evenly shared or sometimes leave one empty to see how that is negotiated. Knit beanies ( nifty knitters) on winter camps, make moccasins,

$JOBS 50c washing, hanging out, bringing in, folding, sorting, feeding the dogs, doing the compost, $1 Raking, sweeping, vacuuming $2 Mowing lawn, washing the car , washing the floor, washing windows , washing the dog

JOBS for food and accommodation cooking, washing up, putting away setting the table, wiping the table Mortar and pestle for morning porridge nuts for 1-3yr olds easily manage do the washing up and then let them redo some easy items to get used to it

MEALS All eat at the table as a family together, chat, all have a say about the day. What made you laugh, did you learn something new?, make a new friend, help any body, did anyone help you?, anybody give you a hard time, any tricky things coming up? sometimes have -A meal of 1 pea, 1 corn kernel, 1 mung bean, 1 alfalfa sprout, 1 slice of sausage, 1 teaspoon of potato, pumpkin, - they easily eat the lot. Letting them dish up how much they want as long as the have a little of everything helps with waste on the plate. sometimes have sweets first for a change, no veggies unless you eat all the ice-cream when pizza is on the menu, sit in a circle and feed your person on the left, carefully, steady. When a real teat needs to be broken and shared the rule is you break it then I take first

CELEBRATIONS Important to have a few reasons to celebrate each year and a time to let the youngsters know what their beautiful strengths are among family and friends. Teenage arrival at 13- blow out candles without your breath. A new way. In Scouts we lowered them onto the cake, and they used a hatchet to cut it up. Treasure hunt birthday gifts, from codes, all age appropriate. We went all out every 5 years for a birthday party ( we had 5 kids)

Before taking kids to a party of tasty treats, feed them fruit, soup and sandwich to reduce their appetite while there a little.

SAFETY TIPS Never swipe or kick at a spider/ scorpion/ snake ?wasp /bee/ look first, Have tools to remove ticks, practise using mapping pins in gummy bears,

Have an emergency safety word : drop, at the swings, in air rafts, : near cars stay near someone taller who drives, : near hot fire, know where some ice is, learn how to safely check how hot things are, never light a fire without adults knowing you are,: around electric risks, good luck: near trip hazards : close to cliffs, : near water : around severe dust or chemicals

Proactive procedures Send wife's mum a happy birthday wish on wife's birthday. thanking her for her. At our school we had postcards to send to parents when students we taught had done well So I Sent a positive post card to parent of My Principals' mum. It went down well. I also sent text messages during classtime to parents when students had done above expectations around 1 a week. I would phone a parent for a chat when the youngster was working really well, never about a problem I was having= I considered that an issue I had with the youngster and I worked on that with them, I felt phoning home about a tricky youngster did not help my relationship with the youngster their relationship with the parent or the parent’s relationship with me, but phoning home for a good reson as soon as possible helped all areas. Kids problems at school are not solely their fault but are their problem and there is always people to help when they are ready. and see it worth sorting. Teenagers should all have tails, then I would know how they were feeling. Hobo code is a set of symbols to secretly communicate between hobos, the aborigines had symbols too, all worth checking out Message sticks I used to give as a reward for great traits , to youngsters based on Wagiman ( )

Saving some income first advice from “ If you want to be rich and happy don’t go to school”

Skills to have Lung life jacket - Breathe deep, fresh air, open windows at night, beside where you breathe even in frigid countries Stomach life jacket - eat food, mostly plants, not too much (MP), fast 1 day a week, Bowel life jacket - eat plenty of roughage, not much grog, eat real fresh food

heart life jacket - do yoga, meditate, exercise, daily, love and be loved in return

Safe ways - to be continued... To arrive on new lands - ask the locals, ... To ride bikes, benefits/challenges- be able to repair your own tube, challenge yourself to ride 1 handed, then with hands swapped over, then sitting on the bike backwards.... To bush walk, benefits/challenges - be able to call for help, remove ticks and treat a snake bite... To climb trees, benefits/challenges- always climb for safety remembering that getting down safely is the focus not for showing off... To catch insects, benefits/challenges - read " backyard game hunter" To eat fresh food, benefits/challenges- grow your own herbs and fruits and veggies To prepare foods, benefits/challenges - know how to prepare and clean up meals To travel by car, benefits/challenges - a serious accident with no loss of life or permanent injury is a blessing in disguise, it does teach them to take care, do defensive driving, then do advanced defensive driving. To travel by plane, benefits/challenges - stay with the big companies, avoid bargains To travel by canoe, benefits/challenges - be qualified with qualified people To tie knots, benefits/challenges - know them all, practise them often. JOKES I must go running while camping, should be said I have gone running while camping because it is past tents Houdini never used trap doors, however it was just a stage he was going through

Whether see through coffins are accepted in the future remains to be seen.

What does a frog do with a piece of paper??

Rip it, rip it, rip it.

A conversation using only colours in the script? On the phone.

Green Green, Green Green, Green, Green.....Yellow?......Black, Black,Black,Black,Black,Black,Black,.....PINK!

What cheese is best used to coax a bear from a cave?


What does cheese say to itself in the mirror?

Houlumi ...

LIFE OBSERVATIONS When someone loves their occupation /subject, they learn/ notice/ receptive /know a lot about it and it becomes infectious, that is parenting

Each event is a stitch in your embroidery of life, the front is a presentation, behind is the real story of how it all came together.

Have something that becomes your life jacket, a walk, slippers, guitar, clay, to paddle,

Know about big issues that youngsters hear about and chat about them Refugees, racism, slavery, Facebook, privacy and the older they get the trickier the topics become for them and parents

Mr Rogers Neighbour, séries, Encourage art, painting,

Self discipline learnt through learning magic, with practise for others enjoyment,

Learn a musical piece, guitar, mouth organ, piano, cajon, ocarina Astronomy, Sky, key features, navigation

Be intimate and sensitive in words, actions, appearance.

Travel quietly in actions, words, clothing, ..

Podcasts Radio. National. Life Matters 10 conversations you must have with your boys Many more ....

Radio National Conversations about a trip in a mirror dinghy

Radio National Parental as Anything with Maggie Dent

Radio National "How to avoid being a toxic parent" by John Marsden on Life Matters

Radio National Counterpoint Steve Biddulph "Boys will be boys"

Radio National Life Matters, Online parenting guide targets dads.

Books parents could read

Manhood - Steve. Biddulph Raising. Boys -SB Way of the peaceful warrior - Dan Millman The last American Man - Elizabeth Gilbert Last child in the woods - "Nature deficit syndrome"- Richard Louv Iron John- Robert Bly All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindy - Robert Fulghum If you want to be rich and happy, don't go to school- Robert Kiyosaki

Every Man - Derek Llewellyn - Jones Life's Little Instruction Book - H Jackson Brown The Dangerous Book for Boys - Gonn / Hal Iggulden

Commando Dad, (great book for beginning parent.) He'll be ok



what-can-be-done/ you_dont_know_dick_about_manhood

BOOKS continued

Parenthood in the Age of Fear By: Kim Brooks

Free-Range Kids : How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children

FREE RANGE KIDS has Lenore Skenazy?s piece about allowing her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC By (author) Lenore Skenazy

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life Paperback – February 10, 2015 by Peter Gray (Author)

Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) Paperback – April 19, 2010 by Lenore Skenazy (Author)

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure Hardcover – September 4, 2018 by Greg Lukianoff (Author), Jonathan Haidt (Author)

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer,

Happier, and More Secure KidsAug 31, 2010 by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World Paperback – September 9, 2014 by Ben Hewitt (Author)

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

25th Anniversary Edition by John Taylor Gatto (Author), Zachary Slayback (Foreword)

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling Paperback – April 1, 2010 by John Taylor Gatto (Author)

Passion-Driven Education: How to Use Your Child's Interests to Ignite a Lifelong Love of Learning Paperback – August 16, 2016

by John Marsden

The Art of Growing Up

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