How Preschool Has Changed in 30 Years: A Teacher Talks

Preschool Mural Photo by Luis Vidal/

Preschool Mural
Photo by Luis Vidal/

To say that preschool has changed since my mother, Abby Vance, began teaching tots 32 years ago would be an understatement. In 1982, she’d never met a vegan child, most mothers preferred formula to breast milk and preschools didn’t offer cultural enrichment courses.

All in all, they provided no fodder whatsoever for comedy writers such as Jason Shapiro. His Twitter feed of the fictitious Los Feliz Day Care lampoons 21st century preschools where Meatless Mondays are every day; superhero costumes are forbidden, as children should be “heroic through social action;” and spiders aren’t squashed but “euthanized.”

Shapiro is far from the only one to notice this sea change in preschool culture. In her 2011 short story collection You Are Here, author Danzy Senna takes aim at an exclusive preschool where the annual fees costs more than state college tuition and only “Google-worthy” families need apply.

So, when did the laidback day cares of the ’80s turn into the hyper competitive juggernauts of today? I recently spoke with my preschool teacher mother about the trends she’s seen over the years in the Chicago area and her tips on how parents can help their kids succeed during the pre-K years. Here’s what she had to say: Continue reading

Why Raven-Symone Should Own Being African American & Gay

Labels Allison McDonald/

Allison McDonald/

Oprah knew this would happen. When the chat queen recently sat down with Raven-Symone, she predicted the ex-Cosby kid would set the Internet ablaze for quipping, “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African American; I’m an American.”
Reportedly in a longtime relationship with model AzMarie Livingston, Raven only added fuel to the fire by remarking, “I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay.’ I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.’”

In a single interview, the “That’s So Raven” star managed to alienate herself from not just one but two marginalized groups. As Winfrey anticipated, the public wasted no time taking the actress to task for attempting to shirk labels with which multitudes of Americans identify. Continue reading

Five Fashions That Never Go Out of Style

Designer Diane Von Furstenberg on the cover of Newsweek in 1976.

Designer Diane Von Furstenberg on the cover of Newsweek in 1976.

Chunky Oxfords. Fringed tops. Single statement earrings.

These trends popped up throughout Fashion Month in September, so get used to seeing them on the streets for the next year. But if you indulge in these trends, know that there’s no guarantee they’ll be in vogue two years from now.

Want to avoid planning your wardrobe around styles that are all the rage one year and anathema the next? Then consider adding a handful of fashion staples to your closet. Like the little black dress, the styles on the next five pages haven’t gone out of style in years. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the numbers below to view these fashion staples. Or Click Here

Seven Dating Mistakes Men Make

Couple with red rose. Guian Bolisay/

Couple with red rose.
Guian Bolisay/

Anyone who’s strolled down the relationship aisle of a bookstore knows that dating manuals disproportionately hold women accountable for how a date turns out. If the guy never called again, it’s the woman’s fault. If he asked her out again only to act like a jerk, somehow the woman’s to blame for that, too.

While some men would certainly like to believe they can do no wrong on dates, the reality is that men can and do screw up with women all the time. Their behavior on dates can cause a budding romance to wilt or bloom. A man may improve his chances of nabbing his dream woman by avoiding the dating mistakes below. Continue reading

How to Trick Yourself into Eating Mindfully

Fork with sprinkles. Matthew Reid/

Fork with sprinkles.
Matthew Reid/

An acquaintance of mine just completed a 25-hour fast. The other night he ate a whole pot of Mexican-style rice, which he followed up with a chaser of Reese’s Pieces and M&Ms. He skipped meals for a day as penance.

“I have an addictive personality,” he said.

But does he? Given that a study released in August found that U.S. citizens consume nearly twice the amount of calories they should be, I doubt that my acquaintance is any more addicted to food than the typical American. I know that all too often I’ve suffered the bloated belly and regret that follows an evening of comfort eating. Working in a deadline-driven environment where sugary snacks are as free flowing as marijuana on Willie Nelson’s tour bus hardly helps matters. That’s why I’ve been researching mindful eating, the meditative eating method in which practitioners take time to notice the texture, aroma, flavor and color of their food.

“Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all,” the New York Times noted in 2012. “It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad.” Continue reading