Good Job

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Good Job

 

Motivating chil­dren and build­ing con­fi­dence is impor­tant. Parents and teach­ers do their best to accom­plish this goal and it is help­ful to keep this one prin­ci­ple in mind:

Compliments that are spe­cific are more pow­er­ful than com­pli­ments that are gen­eral.

When a par­ent sees her child draw­ing a pic­ture they might say you are doing such a good job or I like your pic­ture. There is absolutely noth­ing wrong with that but if you can be more spe­cific it will impact your child even more. Imagine telling a child “I like your pic­ture and I espe­cially like the way you added details,” you not only give a gen­eral com­pli­ment but you point to some­thing spe­cific that your child can really ben­e­fit from. Think about our adult world. If our boss told us that we were doing a good job or that the report we did was good we obvi­ously would be happy. But if they were spe­cific about why they liked our work or what about the report was par­tic­u­larly good we would know the com­pli­ment was sin­cere. It would also help us know what in par­tic­u­lar they liked so we could build on it.

As a class­room teacher it was easy to sur­vey the room and com­pli­ment the class on how well they were all work­ing but imag­ine if I walked around the room and gave spe­cific com­ments to sev­eral stu­dents that were per­sonal and authen­tic. This would be sig­nif­i­cantly more pow­er­ful.

I always told my chil­dren that I loved them and was proud of them. Unconditional love and praise is a beau­ti­ful thing but often it becomes mean­ing­less if chil­dren don’t con­nect with it. Elevate your praise from “good job” to “I like the way you did______  .” The smile on your child’s face will be your reward.

 

 

http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2012/01/compliments-create-positive-atmosphere.html

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Parenting and School Success

Good Parents Great Kids

 

Thomas Friedman’s edi­to­r­ial in the New York Times brought back many mem­o­ries of frus­tra­tion with our edu­ca­tional sys­tem. In this piece he points his fin­ger at the parental ingre­di­ent for stu­dent suc­cess. High school teach­ers spoke about the hours of extra atten­tion they gave their stu­dents and lamented about the lack of par­ent sup­port as evi­denced by the most basic miss­ing ingre­di­ent: home­work. 

There is always room for improve­ment and our edu­ca­tional sys­tem is far from per­fect. We are con­tin­u­ously shin­ing a light on how schools can meet children’s needs more effec­tively. Why do we con­tinue to neglect the most impor­tant fac­tor in a child’s school and over­all suc­cess?

Parenting, at any age, but most impor­tantly the early stages, is crit­i­cal. This is when chil­dren learn how to over­come obsta­cles, become respon­si­ble, develop con­fi­dence and strive to be the best they can be. These ingre­di­ents will impact a child’s suc­cess in school more than any­thing else.

All fam­i­lies, with and with­out money, can do bet­ter. Schools must develop strate­gies to ele­vate par­ent­ing with­out the tra­di­tional blind­ers. Yes, we want our chil­dren to do bet­ter in school and fam­ily math nights and pub­lish­ing par­ties are fab­u­lous ways of engag­ing every­one. Issues such as enabling, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, anger man­age­ment, screen time, sib­ling rivalry, coop­er­a­tion and inde­pen­dence are the basis for suc­cess in school and life. Let’s build an infra­struc­ture that will sup­port our chil­dren and stop think­ing schools can do it all. 

 

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Beware of Antibacterial Soaps and Gels

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The use of antibac­te­r­ial soaps and gels have long been an issue. They have per­me­ated our soci­ety as the fear of Bird Flu, West Nile and all the other scary threats in the last decade.  As a teacher I see stu­dents opt­ing for the antibac­te­r­ial gels instead of wash­ing their hands. People use the free gels mounted on the walls of gyms and pub­lic places the way we used to stop for a drink of water from the water foun­tain. We stopped using water foun­tains for fear of germs. .Ironically, the thing that was meant to kill germs may be more harm­ful in the end.

Chemicals are not nat­ural. When we look towards chem­i­cals to cure one issue we risk the chance of caus­ing another prob­lem. I urge par­ents to stay as holis­tic and nat­ural as pos­si­ble for the health of their fam­ily.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/health/fda-to-require-proof-that-antibacterial-soaps-are-safe.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0 

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Confidence

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As a teacher and a par­ent, I know there is a fine line between authen­tic and non-con­di­tional praise. If every­thing is won­der­ful, than there is no con­nec­tion with true effort. Motivation may actu­ally be reduced and all the flow­ery words will become like back­ground noise; mean­ing­less. Appropriate praise with mea­sured encour­age­ment and cor­rec­tion will go a long way to help a child be moti­vated and develop a strong sense of self con­fi­dence.

As your child pre­pares for the kinder­garten entrance exam (gifted and tal­ented, ERB or Stanford Binet) keep in mind that the most impor­tant thing you as a par­ent can do is to teach your child that they are capa­ble. Attacking ques­tions that may be dif­fi­cult can cause a child to give up too soon and take a ran­dom guess. If a child feels that they have suc­cess­fully fig­ured some­thing out even when it ini­tially appeared out of their reach, they may be more likely to think clearly and be more accu­rate.

The dif­fer­ence of a few points may decide your child’s score and there­fore their options for kinder­garten.  If you work with your child at home you need to encour­age and instruct care­fully. A child wants to please their par­ent and will react more extremely to a parent’s efforts to cor­rect and instruct. A hearty dose of smiles, praise and a dash of instruc­tion is the key to rais­ing their level of per­for­mance and con­fi­dence.

Best of luck and let me know if I can help.

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ERB or Not To ERB

 

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The New York Times sent shock waves through the world of NYC preschool par­ents when it informed us of the end to the dreaded ERB test. The test was now not rec­om­mended by a panel of experts due to the vast amount of “prep­ping” going on and the unhealthy use of ERB scores as a way for par­ents to show­case their child’s bril­liance. 

My first reac­tion, as a tutor who, yes I admit it, helps to pre­pare chil­dren for the ERB was great. I hate the notion of test­ing and the ridicu­lous hoops par­ents and chil­dren must jump through just to get into a school that will be a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence. But then real­ity set in. How will schools make deci­sions about who is accepted and who is not? Obviously schools can­not accept every­one so how will the new sys­tem work? I have asked sev­eral of the direc­tors at the schools who have decided to see how life with­out the ERB will unfold and it appears that much of the change will be in for­mat rather than con­tent. By this they mean that they will observe chil­dren at play, they will have infor­mal ses­sions with them and yes, an assess­ment will be made. Scoring will be vague, at least at first, and par­ents will be informed as to how well they did in sub­jec­tive terms. You can be assured that most, if not all, skills pre­vi­ously assessed will still be con­sid­ered.

As an ele­men­tary school teacher for over thirty years I can tell you most earnestly that screen­ing chil­dren prior to kinder­garten is impor­tant. Some chil­dren require spe­cial instruc­tion out­side of a main­stream class­room. It’s won­der­ful to have a nice blend of chil­dren with dif­fer­ent tal­ents and var­i­ous back­grounds.

I am totally in favor of some kind of screen­ing for every school. Eliminating the ERB’s is a step in the right direc­tion. Competition in NYC and par­ents using their chil­dren as tro­phies is another mat­ter com­pletely.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/education/on-entrance-test-whose-days-appear-numbered-a-95-just-wasnt-good-enough.html?_r=0

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Perfection

 

 

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I am writ­ing this blog entry as I am liv­ing it. Most, really all, of my blogs speak from a place of expe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence. I have prac­ticed what I preach and know my insights and strate­gies can be very help­ful and effec­tive.

Today I am inspired to dis­cuss an issue that has long eluded me and it’s time to deal with it.

Perfection.

Ahhhh, I even love the sound of it. A per­fect evening, per­fect weather, a per­fect career, and of course per­fect chil­dren.

How crazy is it that I would strive for per­fec­tion in my chil­dren? How crazy is it that fam­i­lies live in an envi­ron­ment where chil­dren are com­pared and judged. Is my child pop­u­lar, are they smart, are they ath­letic and how beau­ti­ful are they?

Clearly no per­son, young or small can be per­fect. Perfect doesn’t even exist. But striv­ing for that goal, or want­ing that life, dimin­ishes the life we have.

At the Emmy award this year some­one and I can­not remem­ber who, thanked their mom for not wor­ry­ing about him. Imagine what that means.  Think about why we worry about our chil­dren. Do we want them to be dif­fer­ent? Does our worry impact them in a neg­a­tive way? Does it detract from their con­fi­dence level because clearly mom or dad may be con­cerned?
 

My goal these past years is to have patience and con­fi­dence. Set aside worry and live in the moment. It is huge for me as I tend to worry, and often need­lessly. But giv­ing up the idea of per­fec­tion and accept­ing what­ever it is I have, that would bring me peace of mind and that would be much bet­ter than per­fec­tion.

 

 

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Parenting Styles

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Parenting styles are as diverse as peo­ple. Our atti­tudes about par­ent­ing are often affected by our par­ents in that we either repli­cate or go the other way. New par­ents may eval­u­ate par­ent­ing styles in a more aca­d­e­mic fash­ion and choose a phi­los­o­phy based on research and per­sonal deci­sions.

As a par­ent edu­ca­tor I respect all par­ent­ing styles and only help par­ents learn strate­gies to help with goals they desire to reach. If some­one were to ask me my opin­ion I would rec­om­mend par­ent­ing less from the heart and more from the head.

I was struck today by the con­trast of par­ent styles I wit­nessed. One dad told me that his pol­icy is Get Over It.  When his chil­dren whine about their feel­ings being hurt or a dis­ap­point­ment he says: “get over it!” This is not a com­fort­able way for me per­son­ally and I am not sure he responds in that fash­ion as often as he states, but the effect of not rein­forc­ing a child’s sad­ness may indeed be that the child learns to be strong and less sen­si­tive. It could also result in neg­a­tive per­son­al­ity traits. On the same day a fam­ily came to see me for tutor­ing. The child was famil­iar with me and our activ­i­ties but decided not to coop­er­ate and would not even resign to come into my home. Trying to be a sen­si­tive and under­stand­ably alert to some warn­ing signs, the mom stayed with her son as he tantrumed for a pro­longed period of time. I sug­gested that the mom cease pay­ing atten­tion to her son and that she and I engage in con­ver­sa­tion. Five min­utes later the lit­tle boy stopped cry­ing, engaged with me and was able to sep­a­rate from mom and par­tic­i­pate in our tutor­ing ses­sion.

Paying close atten­tion to a child’s feel­ings is an approach I per­son­ally feel com­fort­able with. In this sit­u­a­tion, how­ever, it was clear that the child was seemed scared but was really act­ing the part. Reinforcing this behav­ior would even­tu­ally lead to more of the same. Trusting that he was in no dan­ger and that he was in capa­ble and car­ing hands dimin­ished the power of his manip­u­la­tion. If the mom had not respected my opin­ion she would have ended the ses­sion and never come back. The child’s behav­ior would become more pow­er­ful and destruc­tive.

As par­ents learn to address their child’s needs it is help­ful to get in touch with their own moti­va­tions and the ulti­mate effect on their child. Perhaps send­ing a mes­sage to a child that their feel­ings don’t mat­ter, in the case of the get over it dad, is a bit heart­less but allow­ing a child to con­trol the entire fam­ily because their feel­ings are of pri­mary impor­tance can be just as dam­ag­ing.

The answer; par­ent con­sciously and notice what you pay atten­tion to. Your child looks to you as they learn to nav­i­gate their world. 

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Why Say Yes To Parent Education

 

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As an edu­ca­tor and a mom, I know for a fact that par­ent­ing help is hard to request. Though par­ents may com­plain and say they need help they often do not truly think they can change any­thing. They acknowl­edge their pat­terns of behav­ior may not be the best, but it can always be worse, and in the end they remain stuck in their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. Yet every­one will tell you that being a par­ent is one of the hard­est and most impor­tant jobs any­one will ever do. This illog­i­cal atti­tude about par­ent edu­ca­tion is sim­ply not accept­able. No par­ent believes they are per­fect yet par­ents typ­i­cally behave as if no assis­tance is required or even pos­si­ble.

Television, radio and online adver­tis­ing intrigue us with promises of mir­a­cle inter­ven­tions. Parents who are strug­gling may pay good money for var­i­ous pro­grams aimed at refo­cus­ing par­ent­ing approaches. Some will actu­ally work. Bookstores are filled with books that spout the­ory and pro­vide insight but lack prac­ti­cal solu­tions. 

My prac­tice serves local fam­i­lies. Through work­shops and indi­vid­ual ses­sions I help par­ents make big changes for their fam­i­lies. My nine big ideas are prac­ti­cal and pro­vide the foun­da­tion for par­ents to employ sim­ple strate­gies that can be mod­i­fied for indi­vid­ual par­ent­ing styles and val­ues.

  1. Have a plan for dis­ci­pline
  2. Be united with your spouse
  3. Choose com­pro­mise over con­trol
  4. Encourage respon­si­bil­ity by doing less for your child
  5. Use check­lists to sup­port inde­pen­dence
  6. Think about when it makes sense to step back from inter­fer­ing with nat­ural con­se­quences
  7. When cre­at­ing con­se­quences try to be cre­ative to give the impres­sion that the con­se­quences are not par­ent cre­ated but merely the result of the sit­u­a­tion
  8. Use active lis­ten­ing to enhance com­mu­ni­ca­tion
  9. Truly accept and appre­ci­ate your child by set­ting aside your own ego

I encour­age every fam­ily to take time to ele­vate their par­ent­ing skills. You have noth­ing to lose and so much to gain. Parent edu­ca­tion is a must.  Whether you see a pri­vate coach, attend a work­shop or par­tic­i­pate in a par­ent sup­port group, find some­thing that fits your style.  Hopefully all fam­i­lies will one day embrace par­ent edu­ca­tion.

If this makes sense to you, learn more about my phi­los­o­phy, strate­gies and ser­vices.  

Goodparentsgreatkids.com

 

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Kindergarten Decisions

The fol­low­ing is a piece writ­ten by a par­ent who strug­gled through the myr­iad of hoops prior to her child’s entrance into kinder­garten and then strug­gled with the deci­sion to take a cov­eted gifted and tal­ented spot or accept the ease and com­fort of a pri­vate school. I am post­ing this for all par­ents who just went through it and for par­ents who shortly will. It is well writ­ten, poignant and illus­trates the real­i­ties of the New York City school envi­ron­ment. In a recent phone call from a par­ent I lis­tened as she grap­pled with a dif­fer­ent choice: a gifted and tal­ented spot for both her twins or a spot in a closer school; a char­ter called Success Academy. I am so glad that both choices were accept­able. No mat­ter what school your child attends, their suc­cess and hap­pi­ness will largely depend on their teach­ers. Teachers will be happy and moti­vated at a school that respects its’ fac­ulty and oper­ates in a sen­si­ble man­ner. Make some effort to sur­vey the teach­ers and you will gain valu­able infor­ma­tion to help you decide your child’s next big step. Good luck and don’t for­get to breath and smile. . 

 

THE DECISION, IN RETROSPECT
By Anna Li

Today I vis­ited my daughter’s class­room for their end-of-the-year cel­e­bra­tion.  Her music teacher had pre­pared the stu­dents to sing two songs from The Sound of Music, in addi­tion to other orig­i­nal songs about their Kindergarten expe­ri­ences.  While they were per­form­ing, their com­puter teacher dropped by to make sure every­thing was set for the photo-mon­tage pre­sen­ta­tion.  Diplomas were handed out, bows were taken.  It was adorable and there were few dry eyes in the room. 

My daugh­ter goes to pub­lic school gifted and tal­ented pro­gram.

A year and a half ago I had planned and pre­pared and nav­i­gated through the Kindergarten appli­ca­tion process in New York City.  I went through reg­u­la­tions, appli­ca­tions, guide­lines, dead­lines, and more dead­lines, all the while keep­ing my child happy through­out the process as I cam­ou­flaged my anx­i­ety.  

Like some of you in New York City, we saved a spot with a deposit at a pri­vate school in the West Village, which we truly adored.  When we finally received our gifted and tal­ented seat assign­ment in the pub­lic schools, we com­pared both schools care­fully. We looked read­ing, writ­ing, math, lan­guages, arts, com­puter, sci­ences, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion, nutri­tion, human­ity, and finally home­work load and com­mute. 

In the end, we felt both schools were on par with each other, account­ing for their dif­fer­ences: one offered for­eign lan­guage (pri­vate), the other: none.  One began com­puter in Kindergarten (pub­lic), the other, 2nd grade.  One had a pool and a bicy­cle-rid­ing pro­gram (pub­lic!)…  The list goes on.  I believe that par­ents will have to sup­ple­ment at any school, so we opted for the one that saved us $37,000 annu­ally. 

By now, you have made your deci­sion.  You did all your home­work, but hope­fully you were also warned by prin­ci­pals and par­ent coor­di­na­tors not to ignore the less obvi­ous, like home­work load, com­mute and per­son­al­ity of the school.  Your job was not to get your child into the best school; it was to get your child into the right school.

All year long, I’ve asked myself if we suc­ceeded in choos­ing the school in which our Lili was meant to be. 

Lili’s cur­rent edu­ca­tion is more rig­or­ous that that of our local school, and I can see the results.  She is cur­rently read­ing at almost sec­ond grade level, and she does writ­ing and math work­shops daily, which allow her to write sto­ries and express her­self more effec­tively.  The school also fills out her week with music, art, dance, the­ater, com­puter and cook­ing.  And she has made the kind of friends she’d stick up for in a play­ground.  

One of the biggest draws for us is that the school has a Kind and Gentle pro­gram, which they prac­tice daily.  (My daugh­ter loves school so much, that she makes her friends play “school” when she has them over on play dates.  This is tor­ture for her boy-friends, who I have over­heard ask, “Am I done yet?”)

Despite my daughter’s suc­cesses this year, there are, of course, some regrets I have about our deci­sion.  

First, I under­es­ti­mated the travel fac­tor in my child’s day.

I am one of the lucky moth­ers; the yel­low bus was not a prob­lem for my child.  Many kids cried and refused, adding an addi­tional com­mute to the entire family’s day.  However, the 40-minute ride home from school -and hers is by far not the longest- is in lieu of valu­able play­time.  By the time she returns home, all her neigh­bor­hood friends are well into their play dates.  On days when she has after-school, between travel time and home­work, there’s no time for play.  Plus she’s not just los­ing free time; her friend­ships are slip­ping away because she’s absent from the neigh­bor­hood.

I also didn’t quite real­ize what impact home­work would have on our sched­ule. Yes, she reads chap­ter books, and has cor­rect hand­writ­ing.  However, in order to do this, her school­days are more struc­tured, as are her after­noons.  Couple travel with home­work, and free time becomes a real chal­lenge.  Each week we take home read­ing, writ­ing, and math.  I say “we” because Lili and I are in it together.  Her angst is my angst, just as her joys are mine too. 

I will admit, Lili is on the verge of over-booked, although she has far less after­school than some of the other chil­dren in her class.  I man­age my daughter’s schedule/workload by moth­er­ing over­time to make sure she is happy, not just enter­tained.  I cam­ou­flage home­work to seem like it’s our game, which works most of the time.  I have her friends over so she can spend more time with them after doing home­work — I have an entire agenda, which includes every­thing from candy and sure-fire din­ners, to large-screen TV movie show­ings and marsh­mal­low dec­o­rat­ing.  I jump through hoops, basi­cally, because she is still just a five year old, albeit going on fif­teen.

As far as I’m con­cerned, Kindergarten is one of the last times a child has to be truly care­free.  Free play is invalu­able to a young child’s intel­lect, to her abil­ity to process what is hap­pen­ing to and around her. When we trade free play for struc­tured classes in the name of get­ting ahead, we are doing just that: get­ting ahead of our­selves.    

It may sound to you like I am not happy with my deci­sion.  On the con­trary: I am thrilled.  Yes, I mourn the sweet sim­plic­ity of a neigh­bor­hood expe­ri­ence for my daugh­ter.  But this first year has been a gift nonethe­less. Lili loved her teacher so much, she some­times called her Mama, and vice versa. She marched around those hall­ways and up and down the stairs like she owned the place.  She now wakes up and reads half a dozen books by her­self in bed, before begin­ning her day.

Ultimately, I won­der how this accel­er­ated early edu­ca­tion will affect her, or her future.  Will it make it eas­ier for Lili to get into a bet­ter mid­dle school?  Will we see a domino effect, thus help­ing her to an excel­lent high school?  Should I even be think­ing this far in advance?

I look back on last year, when I won­dered why I was jump­ing through all those hoops.  Now, as Kindergarten has come to an end, I am able to under­stand how my daugh­ter has grown, and learned to deal with her expe­ri­ences.  I real­ized, this past year, that the onus of choos­ing the right kinder­garten was about set­ting my child up for a life­time of not just learn­ing, but lov­ing to learn. 

Making the right kinder­garten choice is pos­si­bly one of the biggest edu­ca­tional deci­sions of a child’s life­time.  If they are in love with learn­ing in their early years, there’s no hold­ing them back.  Lili has found her spot at her Chelsea school.  She was just intro­duced to her First Grade teacher for next year, and now I’m find­ing pieces of paper from Lili prac­tic­ing writ­ing her name.  My daugh­ter is at home in her school, and that’s all I want for now.  Who knows where she will be for mid­dle school, but she has told me there are plans in the pipeline to be a pilot or a doc­tor.  As long as there’s a twirly skirt involved.

 

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And Then He Turned His Phone To OFF

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I have been try­ing to use my phone less, be in the present and take in my world more. I am not a par­ent of young chil­dren and my dis­trac­tion is only harm­ful to myself…except when I take care of my six month old grand­son. That darn phone, the lap top and even the tele­vi­sion.  They all call to me and my sweet lit­tle grand­son doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he loves screens. All of them. He can sit and watch the T.V. whether it’s child’s pro­gram­ming or not. Take out a phone to cap­ture a pic­ture and he stops what he is doing to stare at the beau­ti­ful glow.

I remem­ber a busi­ness din­ner with a female col­league of my husband’s. It was a couple’s thing and her hus­band was a big deal edi­tor of a big time mag­a­zine. At the begin­ning of the meal he took out his phone and I fig­ured he would be on it all through din­ner. Instead I watched as he turned it off. Not to vibrate, but OFF. It was remark­able and it gave us the mes­sage that we were the most impor­tant thing to him at that moment. It was pow­er­ful.

Just think what turn­ing your devices could accom­plish. It’s clearly not a prac­ti­cal thing to do for most of your day. Just try it for a half hour and see what changes. Your time with your chil­dren is too impor­tant to share with an elec­tronic device. 

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