Archive for August, 2007

Who Should You Listen To? – Your Parental Instincts – That's Who!

Monday, August 27th, 2007

It’s been well over four weeks since I first read the overview of the paper published by researchers at the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute.  I remember clearly when I skimmed through my Google Alerts that morning to read the reeling report published in the Journal of Pediatrics from these people.  Its effect could be harmful to many parents who don’t take the time to study the study, to the companies specifically mentioned in the report along with those companies producing similar infant videos and to the educators continually searching for quality and sound educational products when compared to research and expert review.

WOW!  I thought.  How in the world does this type of press release about a study conducted via the telephone with its subjects’ parents (and not the subjects themselves) receive so much ‘air time.’  The morning after the s_i_ hit the fan the lead research dude was on the Today Show opposite Julie Aigner-Clark.  I have to applaud Meredith Vieria who was the one conducting the satellite interview – she did not let this guy forget that this published study consisted of a small group of babies that fit the profile.  She then made sure to mention that even though this team of researchers promotes interacting with your child to assist learning vs. plunking junior in front of a Brainy Baby or Baby Einstein DVD this team never once met their subjects much less interacted with them!  (Who knew?!?!?!  Unless you read the entire study, the press release gives you just the shouting-out warnings that they want the typical lay person to read and know.)

Now, I am no brain research expert.  I don’t even suggest to hold a masters.  What I do have is my years and years of experience as an educator in this country (with a teaching degree from my beloved Stetson University!).  It is truly the years in the trenches that guide us on our journeys.  The years of parenting three children whom – to date – far surpass their peers in most academic endeavors without ever once being placed in a ‘gifted program.’

And guess what?  All three watched DVDs and TV prior to the age of 12 months!  I still have yet to be locked up by the American Pediatric Society while maintaining my sanity as a new mom and as a single mom during one point of my life.  Most of us do it (and if you don’t admit it then you are surely a closet DVD player!!!!)…..we catch the occasional shower during 7.5 minutes of a DVD we think is appropriate for our baby, we prepare some semblance of a balanced and nutritional meal for the rest of the family as little princess coos ever-so-contentedly at images of a puppet whirling up the old fashioned jack-in-the-box and we still can fall asleep at night knowing we did right by our baby and our family and our own self! 

Didn’t our moms tell us to trust our instincts as new parents?  Don’t we always have stories to share of just knowing we were right even when the Doctor’s office told us it was ‘just a cold’ that made our baby fussy (and it ended up being a fractured foot!)? 

Here’s the bottom line – trust your instincts!  You know how much is enough and how much is too much.  There is a happy middle ground in this entire debate.  Save your energies though, and don’t get involved in the debate.  Let the experts have at it.  Let Disney ask for the retraction from this team of researchers.  And let’s you and I continue on with the business at hand.  Raising our children to be prepared for a global society where language learning is applauded and not part of the budget cuts, where the arts are appreciated and not limited to once a week due to a funding slash in the educational budget of your state and to a home environment where you are your child’s best teacher.

Happy Educating!  ¡Sea feliz educando!

Beth Butler

A Mascot BOCA, Hundreds of Family Child Care Providers and Learning with Love and Laughter

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

What an amazing time in Anaheim, California this past weekend!!!

I was invited to participate not only as an opening musical keynote but also as a workshop presenter and prize donation gatherer (hmmmmmmm…is that really a title?!?!?!?) during the annual NAFCC Conference out on the west coast this past weekend.  In my last post I referred to this acronym which stands for The National Association of Family Child Care Providers of which Sue Williamson is president.  She was the escort for our 7 foot tall BOCA mascot as he had his debut out at the Marriott Anaheim this past Friday, August 17, 2007!

Now, promise not to tell the little ones, and I will share this secret with you!  BOCA is not real – he is a costume character worn by none other than my sister Mary Close.  Mary was a public school teacher in the Pinellas County School System for 16 years and left her first grade position to care for our ailing mom who had moved in with Mary and her empty-nester husband Steve.  They had been empty nesters for only 48 hours when mom moved in with them due to her horrible rheumatoid arthritis.  The disease took its toll on mom and her body and she passed this March peacefully in her sleep (a prayer I am certain mom prayed to have it go that way).

Mary since has not returned to her teaching position for various reasons – one of which is to work with me and my endeavors to bring The Boca Beth Program to a national and international level of exposure and sales.  One of Mary’s lifetime wishes has been to be a costume character (living so close to Disneyworld puts that ‘bug’ into many peoples ears and gets them itching to at least give the old Mickey or Minnie costume a whirl!!!).  Well, Friday, Mary had her first taste of a REAL costume, and she was HOT in many, many ways after only 15 minutes wearing it!

Sue Williamson escorted her in, she did (oops!  He did) one song with me “Aquí and Allí” and then walked back to the dressing room only to be asked by many conference attendees for photos with them!  It was a riot!  (Conference photos will be available soon and I will share what I can!) 

Scollon Productions made BOCA into a mascot for us and did quite a fantastic job.  Mary used to dress up as BOCA with a very homemade version of a costume made by our former puppet maker.  (An umbrella used to be the instrument to hold up the face and head of BOCA to give him shape and give Mary the ability to breathe and survive under the yards and yards of yellow BOCA fabric.

More about the conference itself and the many funny stories, great learning provided and oh!  Did I mention the hotel’s sound system decided to go KAPUT!!!!!! during the middle of my musical opener Friday morning!  You missed me singing (or was I chanting?!?!) acappella and oh what a treat it was.  Thank you Lord for giving the me knowledge of the words (since I wrote them!), the flexibility to keep going (isn’t that what we teachers do all day with challenge after challenge?!?!) and the passion to carry it off.  Attendees Moved and Grooved right along with me, and it was FUN!!!!!!!!!

Happy Educating!  ¡Sea feliz educando!

Boca Beth

North Florida AEYC and NAFCC – How did we survive without acronyms?!?!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

We had an awesome time in Jacksonville, Florida as I presented Fiesta Fun for Everyone last weekend to more than 200 terrific and dedicated early childhood care providers!  We sang, we laughed and had a great morning together learning about nursery rhymes and how very important they are to young children via the great talent of Beverly Oglesby (I think that is the right spelling!) and about how fun it can be to bring Spanish into little one’s lives via Boca Beth!

That was Charlene Gross of North Florida AEYC and the Early Learning Coalition of Duval County inviting me there to share my passion for bringing English and Spanish together for little children and their teachers.  I love the looks on their faces as they begin to realize how they really CAN do this and do it every day to  make a difference.

Then we brought out SNAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Our new cockroach character for La cucaracha (the song about a lemonade drinking cockroach).

Now we are here in Anaheim for the annual NAFCC conference (National Association for Child Care).  We begin with a four hour make and take in the morning, followed by the opening musical keynote Friday morning where BOCA, our new mascot, is to debut.  Made by Scollon Production company out of the Carolinas – he hopefully will be ready to jam this Friday morning!

We will keep you posted – Happy Educating – Sea feliz educando

Boca Beth 

Bilingual Fun in Greater Miami

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

It was such a great trip to Miami last Friday and Saturday – the concert with the children of the Greater Miami YWCA was one of the most rewarding things I have done in a while.  When I received some of the photos I knew I had done a great job looking at the sonrisas/smiles throughout the room!  The babies were bouncing on their little bums, the toddlers were up dancing and singing without any inhibitions and the fours and fives were way into the bilingual flow of the day’s concert!

I will get these pix up and ready to share soon!  Got to rest…….

I did the staff training the day after the concert, flew home, back to school shopping, laundry, shipping orders, making copies for the next two conferences I am speaking at and on and on and on……

Buenas noches –

Boca Beth 

Music Videos the Boca Beth Way!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

I don’t remember when I have laughed so much, almost cried so often and literally felt like my body was going to cave in from exhaustion!!!

Music Video 101 – do not think it will be easy!  In fact, be afraid!  Be very afraid!!!

We shot our four new bilingual music videos for placement on public access TV in Orlando, Florida earlier this week.  We used a very cool studio called Adrenaline Films (a place even Disney uses!!!) that has a psyche floor/wall that allows us to film with the illusion of no end to the space.  We will also be placing these cool Spanish and English music videos on our “I Like Animals/Me gustan los animales” DVD as a new bonus feature – replacing the existing Boca Beth class that has some shaky audio and video.

Point of the story is – listen to your customer and learn how you can improve simply by listening and acting upon their suggestions!

The cast was made up of children who won a contest we ran on our Boca Beth newsletter.  Susan Payton of Egg Marketing and Public Relations suggested to me a while back to create some excitement around BOCA the puppet of our Boca Beth Program by running a contest where children are invited to decorate their own BOCA and the winning entries would secure a spot in our upcoming music video shoot.  I tell you what!  This gal Susan is on top of her game when it comes to writing great press releases, helping cultivate a great marketing strategy and overall assisting with brand recognition.

    Susan writes this cool book called “101 Entrepreneur Tips” that I personally have read cover to cover and refer to almost daily as I live my dream as an entrepreneur!  I keep it by my desk 24/7 (unless I am traveling!!!)                  

101 Entrepreneur Tips, by Susan Payton   Soooo…….Susan has this idea, I bring it to life just like I love bringing Spanish to life for young children with our Boca Beth bilingual products, and the next thing you know we have this way cool cast of children who share their smiles, their wiggles, their giggles all while introducing Spanish and English side-by-side!  It is going to ROCK!!!!

Thank you Susan for the great idea – and for sharing your son’s adorable smile and dance moves.  I don’t know of one child ages 1-7 who won’t be wigglin’ their toes and wrinklin’ up their nose as they follow along to Kiss is a Beso, Days of the Week, ¿ Qué pasa? and Movin’ & Groovin’ all showcasing how easy and fun it is to bring Spanish and English together with music and movement! 

We have hours upon hours of editing ahead of us, and it truly is a labor of love!  I am so blessed to have such a great producer in Ken Veenstra of Progressive Media & Music here in Tampa, Florida.  He’s first a musician and second a studio dude so he gets it!

Happy Educating!  ¡Sea feliz educando!

Boca Beth