Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Homework Battles

Okay, so not only did I not keep up with my once a week posts- I'm taking the easy way out this week- recycling an old post (well kind of).  This is not to say that I have not been blogging.  In fact, in a few weeks my very good friend, Janet R., will have me as a guest blogger on her blog: Growing Empathy

She really inspires me and I hope one day to be as consistent with my posts as she is!

This post deals with something that many of us parents struggle with over the Summer, getting our children to keep up with their academic subjects.  I am quoted in the article "Summer Homework Battles"  that was written years ago by Louise Tullien, and it has been picked up by almost every news website across the country!    I am posting it here because it remains relevant, even in my very own home, where I deal with one very resistant child when it comes to getting the work done- and that is all year long!  It is challenging but I find when I give some latitude and push myself to try different approaches it can pay off. 

I know that there has been a debate on why summer homework has to be given.  I agree that with the push for the  Common Core State Standards,  and the stressful atmosphere that schools seem to be functioning under, the summer for most children and parents provides a welcome relief.   Keep in mind that a little can go a long way and children can lose a lot of ground in just a few weeks.  Starting early on in the summer can create a "skip and scatter" type of schedule, rather than cramming it all in at the end.

Finally, look for educational opportunities in non-traditional ways. Here are some ideas:

  •  Teach your child to read and understand a subway map
  •  Have your child conduct an experiment
  •  Make a movie with an original script 
  • Help your child find an interesting blog to follow or start blogging themselves 
  • Have your kids shop and/or pay at the store themselves 
Having your children participate in activities like these allows them to take ownership of their learning and in many cases provides them with opportunities they did not have before!

The original article appears on the website: Your Family Today.   Read the article:  "Summer Homework Battles"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I'm Back! Thank you Pete R., I think...

I have stopped blogging completely.  Not because I ran out of content but for two reasons.  For one,  raising 3 kids and working is just a lot of work and two, because I have trouble with my grammar.  I have been told I am not a bad writer but I know that at times I am guilty of run on sentences, too many commas, homonym errors, etc.  I feel guilty because I am an educator and don't want to shame my profession as many do on the internet.  My husband, who was an English major was a great editor and while he says that he was "happy to edit" my blog posts, his work demands made it difficult so I just stopped.  

My friend Pete R.,  has been asking me to start again.  He has been my greatest supporter and has given me the most feedback on this blog and about my thoughts about educating parents and children.  I saw him yesterday at the celebration of his daughters' 2nd birthday and he again asked me "when are you bringing back your blog?".  After a brief discussion with him along with a woman at the party, who overheard our discussion, it came down to "give them your content because that's what your readers want and try to get help here and there with the grammar until you gain your confidence".  So here I am, thanks to him and this very kind woman, who happened to be writer.   I'm taking a chance and I'm going to try to get a post out once a week, again. I am going to ask for your forgiveness in advance for any grammatical errors and hopefully my content will answer your questions.  This brings me to my question for this post:

"How do we get our kids to take chances and let go of their fear of failure?"

I think it is important to talk to our kids regularly about times we struggled or overcame a struggle both as kids and even now as adults.   We often see on TV shows where a child is having a tough time and the parent shares how they had the same problem or one similar to the child's problem.  While this may look like a good idea and always works on TV,  often children don't want to hear about someone else's situation when they are going through their own stuff.  Talking regularly about how you solved problems or how you dealt with your issues should be a regular part of your discussions.  Don't wait for things to go awry start sharing now!   Children are more likely to listen openly and process more constructively when they are relaxed and are not caught up in their own emotional distress. 

Another approach I like comes straight from my husband's cousin.  He told his son one day, "be able to laugh at yourself,  then no one has anything else on you!"- teaching your children to laugh off critical statements that may have some truth can be a powerful coping tool.  Of course this mild "self  deprecating humor" needs to come with limits (like when it goes on too long or becomes chronic teasing).   Learning to laugh off a fart made in public, the fact that they may be short or tall or that they struggle with lets say, grammar can help keep things light.

Teach tenacity (to yourself and your child) , I cannot ignore the fact that "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" made an impact on me (there is a lot I disagree with in the book but I wrote another post on this).   Too many children want instant success and give up when things don't come easily.  While I do not believe children should be forced to practice on an instrument for hours that they do not love or to be expected to get A's (or a 4 by New York City standards) in a subject that they have difficulty in, pushing kids just a bit to stay in a class they have not given a fair chance to or to just see it through or to study just a bit longer on a certain topic can have great benefits.  I have found  (from first hand experience) that this can come with loads of arguments and be met with much adversity by your child.  My mantra was "don't take the bait", trying not react to the venting or not caving in to the threats was hard but was a test of my parenting skills.   My child often complied but I had to let him vent and tell me how much "he hated" whatever it was I was making him do.  In the end, he asked to sign up for the class again and the glow on his face when he got the grades on those once tough assignments lit up the room.  So push gently but firmly and don't take the bait! 

Well,  that's all I have for this first post back.  Please send your questions to me at and I look forward to writing again even with mistakes!

Thank you Pete R.!