It is hard to believe it was almost two months ago when many of us were developing resolutions for the new year. As we know, all too well, absolute resolutions are quickly and easily broken. This year I thought maybe a mindset resolution is better than an absolute. So, the resolutions I set out for our Lower School students are more of a mindset. We are asking the children to keep in mind two ways of thinking about others: being kind and being part of a team.
Whether you are just starting to think about holiday gifts for your children, or you are looking for ideas for those last few gifts, books always make a wonderful gift! A book that makes an engaging family read-aloud over the holidays can become a beloved tradition, and one that your children will begin to anticipate each holiday season. Time to relax and read together also provides some much-needed rest for everyone in these long days of winter.
Getting your Middle Schooler to focus on academics is one of the great challenges of parenting. Friends, social networking, sports, video games, and even just staring blankly in the mirror can all hold more interest. Here are six things I’ve seen great parents do to help their children focus on learning.
- Act as if your child is already the responsible person you hope they will become. Our kids rise – and fall – to meet our expectations. Whether we say them out loud or not.
- Be interested in your child’s learning – and share your own. Instead of just asking what she learned in school today, share what you learned at work or on the news. While your children work on homework, set aside your own time for reading, writing in a journal or learning to do something new. Communicate through your actions that you value learning as a life-long activity, not just to get good grades in school.
When your teenager is grumpy, monosyllabic and irritable, do you find yourself taking it personally, and then, perhaps, even confronting them about it only to find it may have made things worse? Please keep in mind that their grouchiness almost always has nothing to do with you. The answer is to not engage, yet our temptation is to over engage! Here are some tips for staying out of our teenager’s moods and allowing them to get on with the important business of adolescent development:
- Teenagers are often grumpy simply due to the incredible chemical mix of hormones careening through their bloodstream, not to mention rapid changes to their brain composition. They really can’t help it! Just keeping this in mind can stave off the temptation to take it personally.
Like shopping for clothes, shopping for a school is all about fit. Finding the right school fit for your child can be a daunting and confusing endeavor because there are many options available. All independent schools have a few things in common, such as great academics, dedicated faculty, and close-knit communities. So how do you find the right school? How do you tell the difference between them?
Here are a few tips help you in your school search:
- Know your child’s and your family’s needs. In what kind of school culture would your child thrive? Would they do well in a large school or one that is smaller? Does your child have special academic needs to support or certain strengths and passions you would like to build on? Is a school with a religious affiliation important to you? Is diversity important to you? Do you want a school with a wide variety of clubs or extra-curricular offerings? Answer these kinds of questions to build a profile of a school that might be a good fit for your child.
I didn’t read when I was a child.
This is a strange thing for a librarian and former English teacher to admit. I hid this fact for years, ashamed, but becoming a librarian helped me understand it.
Reading is an act of many parts – a desire to consume information or story; the physical act of eye movements; concentration, recognition, decoding – and as a society we attach not-so-subtle judgements to how we perform these acts. Many children struggle with reading, and they respond to the judgements without being able to parse the act of reading and figure out why there is no joy in it for them. This is where librarians (parents, teachers, big siblings too) need to don our super-hero capes and step in.
Yes, summer is a time for students to relax, enjoy, and rejuvenate but also an important time for your teen to stay on track with their college prep. Wondering how to do this and where to focus your energy? Here are a few simple reminders for you and your teen.
- Grades count. Please don't believe the myth that grades don't matter until junior year. Colleges will look at applicants’ grades from freshman year onward, and the stronger the grades, the more choices your child will have. It's not just about having a good grade and looking good to colleges. Students need the skills they learn on the way to achieving those grades in order to do well in future courses. At the same time, remember that their best may change as they progress through high school. We are all hoping for authentic effort, not perfection.
Some parents find it downright liberating when their teenagers become increasingly
independent. Others find it unsettling, even threatening. Parents who crave control of their teenager often discover that allowing their teens to experience the world on their own is terrifying. However, developmentally, it is important to slowly hand over control of your teen’s life…to your teen. You will always be their parent, but they are looking for - and needing -you to manage less of their day-to-day lives.
Empathy and action are at the heart of Quaker education. These attributes are also central to design thinking (DT), where students are asked to discover and understand needs, and then collaborate to meet them. They are asked to empathize, to interview, to dig deeper, and to ask Why? or How Might We?
Developed by Tim Brown of Stanford University, design thinking is both a mindset and a process. We begin by modeling the mindsets of design thinking: curiosity, creative confidence, fail up/fail fast/fail often, just make it, embrace ambiguity,empathize, iterate, and optimism, or a “Yes, And” attitude. As students engage in design thinking, they develop these mindsets.
We have all faced the question: Do I buy the latest item on the top of my child's list? Often the must-have toy is quickly discarded. To shift away from this season's craze and give gifts that outlast the fads, here are a few insights which might help you evaluate what to put in the cart.
- Children benefit from lots and lots of practice with fine motor play. To help little fingers grow stronger so they can print, build, paint, and pour, consider toys and tools which let children cook, sew, and construct. Cook books, pie-making tools, board games, puzzles, watercolors, sewing kits, hammers, nails, clay, musical instruments, dolls with clothes, and blocks of all sizes – these toys help children develop stronger, more coordinated fingers.