Struggling Readers

I was one of those struggling readers. I didn’t become a reader until fifth grade. That puts me in league with two twenty-five-year-old single mothers whom Julie Pangrac of Project READ introduced me to. They told me their story Continue reading

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Dana and His Mother: Two Agendas

Look who’s going on a journey

Look who isn’t.
For months before his first trip
All eyes and ears, Dana gathered data,
Taking statistics
Like a data vacuum cleaner.
Six weeks ago he tested his new apparatus for the first time.
Now, all systems GO, he’s on his journey.
Let the games begin.

Does this tweak your heart to ponder something?

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What is Genius? Part 2: Brian’s First Journey

Thirty-four years ago Brian and several of his first grade classmates were “put on the bleachers” after gym class for what Ms. Tough, the P.E. teacher, felt was some ‘inappropriate’ behavior. Then, it seems, she forgot they were there.  Recess came and went, and still they sat and waited as they were told. But after 20 minutes or so, Brian decided this had gone on long enough, went to the bathroom, and slipped out the back door of the gym unnoticed. Continue reading

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Overparenting: How Not to Get Kids Ready for School

Last school year, I saw a young mother and father in the Decatur Public Library leaning forward over a small table overparenting their three-year-old daughter as she tried to put together the puzzle of an alligator with 26 green pieces A to Z. Continue reading

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Raising Competent Children Is Easier than Raising a Spoiled Brat

A teacher friend of mine recently transferred from a “Title One school to a school for Entitled Ones,” as she puts it. According to her the Title One children were generally appreciative, creative, resourceful and loving, the Entitled Ones (not all of them, of course) were demanding, unappreciative, disrespectful and very difficult to teach. Continue reading

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How to Take No for an Answer

A Story from My Good Friend Allan

“No, I don’t want to take a nap!  Not tired!” said Elise. Continue reading

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Parental Authority: Do You Have It?

 Talk So Your Kids Will Listen

“I listen to my father because I have found that he tells me things that turn out to be true,” said Allison (18 year old high school senior) as I drove her home from the basketball game the Wednesday after the Saturday night party where some of her classmates got into trouble, getting drunk and trashing the house of a classmate. “Like ‘Never go out without money,’ he says.” Continue reading

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Kindergarten Readiness: Parent Strategy for Best Results.

A very reliable way of assessing children’s readiness for kindergarten is to bring twelve four-and-a-half-year-olds together for a one-hour mock kindergarten class. A teacher greets parent and child at the door, and the parent says good-bye. Most of the time the children leave their parents happily and launch off into what for them is a super play-date. Continue reading

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Entitlement and the Pursuit of Happiness

“I just want him to be happy” is the most natural thing for a parent to say; it can also be the most dangerous. Life has unhappiness built in. If it’s not one thing it will be another. We want to spare our children. We want to protect them from pain and rescue them from suffering. This is completely understandable, but it is not particularly constructive. In fact, it is self-defeating. The pursuit of happiness makes happiness increasingly elusive. Continue reading

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Can Teachers Make Mistakes?

“Tell me about how it is okay for teachers to make mistakes,” Michelle said. “I am both a teacher and a parent,” she went on. “As a parent, when you make a mistake, you can acknowledge it, change your mind, make a better decision, and move on. But when you are responsible for other people’s children, you can’t make mistakes. What’s a professional to do?”

In a talk I gave last month at a school in the Midwest, I had made the twin statements: “Mistakes are learning opportunities; Fear of Making Mistakes is a learning disability.” The idea hit a nerve. Continue reading

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