Today I’m so purry to share my intermew with Heather Shumaker, Renegade Parenting Expert, about her book, It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids.
While the book is full of great tips for raising mini-hoomans, you can also learn a lot about raising confident and creative kitties!
Hazel: Meows, Heather! Thanks for chatting with me today! What got you interested in writing?
Heather: I’ve been writing and wanting to be a writer since I was four. It’s a lifelong love.
Hazel: What is renegade parenting?
Heather: Renegade parenting means looking at things differently, and questioning standard parenting “truths” we take for granted. For example, “don’t talk to strangers” “share your toys” and “do your homework.” It’s renegade because it goes against the commonly accepted culture, but really renegade parenting is all about “Good, Basic, Universal Child Development Principles That Work.” It’s all backed up in research and is based on a foundation of respect for young children. Kids have very different needs from adults, and adults don’t always understand that.
Hazel: Where did you get the idea to write about renegade parenting?
Heather: The inspiration came from an unorthodox preschool I attended as a child. My mother also taught there for 40 years. The school helps kids cope with their big feelings and welcomes their play – even rough-and-tumble play like giving kids boxing gloves and letting them get physical. This school, the School for Young Children, is a place where kids feel respected and learn skills that are essential to life: conflict mediation and expressing feelings appropriately.
Hazel: How might renegade parenting be applied to kitties? (If you have kitties or pets this would be a good place to chat about them!)
Heather: I think kitties would like my chapters on rough-and-tumble play. Some people call it puppy play, but you might prefer “kitty play.”
Hazel: I do!
Heather: All social and intelligent mammals do it when they’re young – playful wrestling and rolling around. The more social and intelligent the species, the more they do it. It’s very good for the brain and great for social relationships – developing trust, impulse control, flexibility in thinking, and friendships. Unfortunately, many adult humans forget that and try to stop physical play between kids: “get your hands off each other!”
Hazel: Right! Or paws! What in your eyes is the biggest problem parents don’t know they have?
Heather: Parents don’t realize how afraid they are. This fear causes them to stunt children’s healthy development in so many ways. Fear drives homework assignments in kindergarten. Fear drives loss of recess. Fear keeps kids from playing outside and interacting with the world, taking healthy risks, even experiencing basic emotions like sadness, anger and jealousy. Kids have a lot to learn in the early years, and they learn life best through play and experience.
Hazel: How do you strike a balance between having kids learn on their own and giving them a structure to learn from others?
Heather: For young kids (up to age 8) most learning is done through play. True play has to be child-led and child-initiated. That’s how children process the world. Very little structured learning is needed in these early years, since young children learn through modeling (how to use a fork, say hello, hold a book). In fact, many lessons we try to teach kids don’t work at young ages. For example, we drill the calendar in preschool classrooms despite the fact that human development typically doesn’t develop the capacity to understand long periods of time until age 7. It’s a waste of their time. Kids are desperate for unstructured time when they can think their own thoughts and follow their own play ideas.
Hazel: What are you working on next?
Heather: I’m working on something different. A ghost story adventure for 8-12 year-olds!
Hazel: Sounds pawesome! Can’t wait to read it! Thanks, Heather!!
And thank YOU reader for reading!!