Posts tagged ‘school’

February 13, 2012

Sexual Harassment in Schools

Are kids being sexually harassed by their peers a lot more than we think? And what are the consequences? After reading a report by the AAUW, I talk about these issues in an article published in ParentMap magazine.

To read more articles I’ve published, check out this list here.

January 7, 2012

A fix-it kit so your own Polka-dot can fix kindergarten, too

I don’t remember my first day of kindergarten. I remember second grade, when I met the principal for the first time and I wrote my age (7) backwards. I had to ask for an eraser because my pencil didn’t have one and I was mortified, but he didn’t strike me dead with a lightening bolt so everything turned out okay. This book is about the first day of kindergarten, but it’s a great read for any kid at almost any point in the school year.

Title: Polka-Dot Fixes Kindergarten
Author: Catherine Urdahl
Illustrator: Mai S. Kemble
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: Perfect for 3 and up, or anyone going to preschool, kindergarten, summer camp, or anything else!

Why I loved it and how to use it with kids:

There are a lot of reasons to love this book. Here are some:

  • Her name is Polka-Dot, which is the best nickname for Dorothy I’ve ever heard
  • She lives with her grandfather, and I think books with non-traditional family structures are really important to show kids.
  • She’s spunky and wonderful and afraid of her first day at school.
  • Her grandfather fixes everything with duct tape, polka-dot bandages, and runny soap.
  • He gives her a mini fix-it kit with all three of these things to take to kindergarten and she uses all of them. The runny soap doesn’t fix the mess she makes with the paints, and the bandages don’t help when she’s really sad, but the duct tape does help an enemy turn into a friend, and it saves the day, as duct tape always should.

Not only does this book have wonderful characters and absolutely gorgeous illustrations that would help any kid visualize school, but it gives parents and kids a really good idea. For those children who are too old for a binky or stufftie, or too practical for either, making them a small fix-it kit to take on their first day of a new activity might be just the thing to help them feel in control. Giving kids a sense of ownership and power is often all they need to feel a little less anxious. Maybe this is just what you need for that first day back from winter vacation! Here are some of my own ideas of things you could include in your kit:

  • duct tape of course
  • stickers, if you have that kind of kid (that likes to put stickers on everything to brighten up his/her world)
  • small rocks or shells or feathers if you have that kind of kid (that likes to feel them in their hands to calm down)
  • a small card that says how much you love them
  • a photo of family
  • a card with phone numbers on it

What about you? Any memories, good or bad, from your early school days? And any ideas for a back-to-school kit?

February 22, 2011

There’s smart, there’s “Beyond Smart”, and then there’s my mother-in-law

When I tell people about this book, or about the author’s columns in ParentMap (a Pacific Northwest Parenting Magazine), or about the author’s appearance on TV, and then I mention that the author is my mother-in-law, they often ask me the same question, and with the same inflection.  It goes like this:

“Really? That’s so neat!” pause “So, what’s it like to have a mother-in-law who is a parenting expert?” smirk

Every time.  First, they are impressed.  Then, they think about their own mother-in-laws and aren’t sure if they would want those opinions backed by the title “parenting expert”.  But it’s not like that.  I have the good fortune to have a mom-in-law who is capable of having different opinions about how kids are raised without beating me over the head with them, even as she watches me ruin her grandchild in various different ways.  But really, most of the time we agree.

Although, I do often reply that part of me wishes her columns could save some space for the daughter-in-law’s rebuttal…I mean, I’m living with the final product, you know?  And no, he doesn’t know how to make the bed.

Title: Beyond Smart
Author: Linda Morgan
Genre: Parenting

Summary and Review:

Here’s my pet peeve about a lot of parenting books (not this one).  They are written by PhDs with something to say, usually one thing that’s very specific.  These people are used to writing long dissertations on a single subject and they seem to think that that’s the kind of thing everyone wants to read. But they are wrong.  Most of the parenting books I pick up should be parenting chapters.  They are one idea and you can get most of the information from skimming the back cover, and by the time you are done with the intro chapter, you’ve learned 90% of what you are going to learn, but then you dutifully slog through another 200 pages of evidence, personal stories, and sidebars, all of which, you realize when you get to the end (or much sooner if you are paying any attention), is the same as what you learned in the intro chapter.  There are some parenting books out there where I really don’t think you need to read much more than the title.  Things like “saying no” or “setting limits” are right there in the title and you’ve learned most of what you are going to learn and you haven’t even flipped it over to read the back.

Which brings me to this book.  This book is not written by a PhD with a dissertation on her mind.  It’s written by an experienced, award-winning journalist with access to PhDs and the talent to translate what they are saying down to a few pages that you actually want to read.  It’s not a book you are done with in the introduction–the introduction just whets your appetite for the diverse and meaningful middle parts.  The book is about how parents can make a difference in their child’s learning, and it takes a really broad approach to this.  We’re not just talking raising grades here.  We’re talking emotional intelligence, temperament, brainpower, risk-taking, and a heck of a lot more.

Also, the book includes Q and A’s with really famous experts in a variety of fields: Alice Waters talks about teaching your kids about food, giving even more insight to a chapter on preparing lunches and breakfasts as part of being ready for kindergarten.  Wendy Mogel, PhD, (I’ve already blogged on one of her books here) talks about dealing with failures and the dangers of over-coddling in a chapter about dealing with a wide variety of school issues, including failure.  Michael Thompson, PhD, (I’ve blogged on one of his books, too) talks about the differences between boys and girls in a chapter on social issues.  And there’s a lot more–both chapter-wise and expert-wise.

Other topics included in this book are developing a parenting plan and becoming your child’s emotional coach from birth, dealing with the child-centered toddler years, advocating for your child during the school years, keeping up with math and science, writing, and public speaking, and getting the most out of a summer vacation.

I loved this book because it covers a wide variety of topics, it’s short and sweet, and it gives you a wide variety of opinions, not just one.  If you find yourself really interested in one of the topics, or one of the expert’s opinions, you can always go and find another book on that topic.  But this is a phenomenal place to start and a great reference.  It’s easy to pick up and look at after you’ve read it, to refresh on a few ideas because it’s well-organized and topic-centered.  Covering areas of development from birth through high school and issues including emotion, academics, food, and family, this is a must-have parenting book!

And really, bed-making aside, she did a good job with the one I’m married to, so that’s saying something…I always like to check bios on parenting books to see if the author has any kids.  I am VERY suspicious of taking advice from someone who doesn’t…