About the Author · Learning 101 · Op-Ed · What's Going On

Op-Ed: Oh legitimate news stories – where are you?

Lately I’ve been hearing the under-the-breath grumblings from Americans who are curious to know where they can read legitimate news stories.  Oh what, your Facebook news feed isn’t cutting it anymore?  Seriously, according to my students this quarter social media is where they get most of their daily news.   Apparently it’s true for most Americans.  During the 2016 presidential election many voters chose their candidate based on what they read on Facebook. In a September 2016 article from The Washington Post, How Facebook could swing the election – and who will benefit “Facebook can influence millions of votes by the literal press of a button,” said Michael Brand, a professor of data science at Monash University in Australia.

What is really interesting to me about this topic now in 2017 is that if everyone actually cared about the news they were reading 6-12 months ago, we wouldn’t be having this uneasy feeling to start fact checking everything we read now, including from our most reliable news sources.  I know I don’t like walking around not knowing what just happened in Washington D.C. to the country I love and not knowing what’s the next big news story just around the corner.

In an effort to educate myself and our household, my husband and I agreed we needed to invest in more trustworthy news sources to help educate ourselves with factual news.  We agreed that The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to have the most credible stories with multiple sources being cited in their stories on a regular basis.  I did some research and found that I was able to get a FREE subscription to The Washington Post and a discount subscription to The New York Times because I am an educator.  I applaud these news sources for allowing educators and others to obtain their news with such access.

I feel our current President has put us on a news roller coaster since his inauguration, which is extremely exhausting to follow at times.  While I may not agree with the policies the President has put into place, I feel it is my duty as a tax paying, voting American citizen to educate myself on what is happening to MY country.  I vowed a long time ago to take social responsibility online and to not share any news stories on social media that are nonfactual and not vetted by a credible news source.  I would like to challenge all social media moguls (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg) to make it part of your user online rights and responsibilities to have all your users check off on a “online social responsibility policy”.  There are policies in place that you cannot use online images without the permission of the creator of the image, (and yes thank you to everyone who keeps cutting and pasting the same “rumor” FB policy from 2009), I believe that everyone who wants to help make a more educated and informed society to take the same online social responsibility pledge with me.  I ask everyone to have more accountability online when posting new stories and to not repost anything from a non-credible source.

But realistically money drives our world.  What amount of advertising dollars would Facebook and other social media sites loose if their fake news sources couldn’t post on their website anymore?  What would society be if online trolls who like to stir the pot with fearful posts about what is not actually happening in our country or worldwide do with all their free time?  Wasn’t the internet created for us to share more information at our fingertips and to keep people in touch, but has since torn friendships and families apart?  Take responsibility for your posts, delete them if you think they are untrue, follow up with educated responses when you find someone who is not like-minded as you, and learn to listen more than you speak (or post).

Education · Learning 101

Learning 101: Toddler Learning Milestones

*This post is part of an ongoing series called Learning 101 which will be guest written by a few amazing educators (and friends) who are parents themselves. The first installment is by a former tenure teacher, current stay-at-home mom of four, author of the blog raisingwills.com, and one of my best friends, Cally Will. Enjoy!

When Colleen asked me to write a Top 5 List for The Two-Minute Mom about toddler learning milestones, I hesitated. What the heck do I know about what kind of milestones or even skills toddlers should be reaching or working on? She quickly reminded me that I have spent the majority of my life around young children, both professionally and personally. I was a special education teacher for 11 years and and I am a mom to 4 crazy kids. So I have learned a lot about adorable, sweet, and often sticky young toddlers. It really is such a fun, amazing age group. Toddlers are grown up babies and are quickly learning how to become independent. However, they are not quite the total monsters that they will become once they hit the dreaded 2 year mark… or even worse, 3 years.

Toddlerhood is a challenging, yet beyond fun, stage. These littles have so much that they are working on and learning, without even realizing it. My list is in no particular order but just skills that I value and feel are important to work on with your toddler.


1. Develop those fine motor skills…
Toddlers love to touch everything. Take advantage of this by helping your little one work those fine motor muscles. Pinterest is filled with “safe” play-doh or cloud dough that you can make at home. I mostly just use regular play-doh and my kids love it just the same. It really works their hands and fingers and is just addicting to play with. Experimenting with crayons or markers is great for this age too. Toddlers love to color or “draw” and it helps strengthen those hand muscles. Puzzles with large pieces, that are easy to grab, are also fun to try at this age. Think of those Melissa and Doug puzzles, that have the big, chunky pieces. Painting is another great way to get their hands and fingers moving. Pick up some finger paints or even water colors and a larger paint brush and let that baby get messy. It’s how they learn!

2. Let Them Play – Work on those gross motor skills too…
Toddlers need to move. They don’t stop moving throughout the day, so make sure to give them both structured and unstructured time to move. You can make simple games both inside or outside, as long as it’s simple and fun. Throw and kick a ball, chase bubbles, play “Mommy Says”, play tag. However, they should also have time to just be able to run around, without structure. Whether it’s in the backyard or at the park, let them go and follow their lead.

3. Communication Skills
A huge worry that most parents have during this year is whether or not their child is talking enough. This is where I urge you to talk to your pediatrician if you have legitimate concerns. I’ve had both early and late talkers, so I understand both ends of the spectrum. I do know that one of the recommendations from our pediatrician is to talk, talk, talk. Luckily, my husband and I both love to hear our own voices, so this was not a problem. Talk to your child all the time. Even when you think it’s ridiculous, like when you’re changing a diaper or getting them dressed. With all children, but especially children in this age group, everything is a learning opportunity. Of course, the teacher in me loves to remind people to read, read, read to your child. Toddlers have a tough time sitting still. Picture books with flaps to bend or books with tactile pages (fuzzy, bumpy, prickly make great toddler reading material.

4. Identifying body parts
Toddlers love to explore their independence and usually want to begin learning small self-help skills, like putting on their coat or shoes. Learning their body parts helps lay the foundation for this. This is also a great way to practice those communication skills too. Start with the easy ones – nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hands, feet. You can make a million games out of it – “Find mommy’s nose!” “Where’s your eye?” When reading, you can work on this too. “Find Bear’s ears.” You can also play Mr. Potato Head – “Let’s put the eyes in.” Toddlers also love music, so don’t forget that there are million different songs to work on this too. “Hands are for clapping” and “Head/Shoulders/Knees/Toes” are some of my favorites.

5. Put them to work – Yes, I’m talking chores
Ok, I’m not talking about giving your toddler a list of chores and expecting them to get them done. Laughable. But let your child help you. If you’re filling the dishwasher, let them get in there in help. The Dollar Store sells great little brooms and dustpans and mini mops. When I’m desperately trying to get something done and my almost two year old wants to help, sweeping the floor becomes her chore. It can be annoying and will probably slow you down. Believe me, I get it. But by letting them see that you want them to help, not only are you laying the foundation for early responsibility, but you are also showing your little one that everyone in your household has a job to do. No matter how big or small.

My little lady helping peel potatoes. It only took her 27 minutes to peel one-fourth of it, but that’s 27 minutes she left me alone to make dinner. -C. Will

c379030acae8436844aa91d1283bf3bcCally Will is a professional mom and former teacher. She lives with her husband, four children, and needy dog in the outskirts of Chicago. Her hilarious writing can be found on her blog, when she remembers to update it, www.raisingwills.com