Once the shine of the new school year wears off, it is time to settle into the routine of school. Here are steps for helping your child figure out how to handle the homework the teacher’s give her. Aid her in problem solving but recognize that if you tell your child how and when to do her homework, chances are it won’t work. At this stage, it is more important to help her develop her own tools for managing her work.Read More
Joyful Musings--a weekly blog
Joyful Parenting Coaching is focused on clarity, consistency, connection, being an effective parent, finding balance as a parent, and above all being a confident and joyous parent. Topics include communication, having difficult conversations, having constructive conversations, chores, routines, family meetings,
Filtering by Category: Independence
As there is more and more artificial intelligence (AI) in the world, there is more need than ever for little humans to learn Emotional Intelligence. Play is a tremendous vehicle for one’s own and others’ emotions. Being able to relate emotionally allows kids to function in school more effectively and therefore to be more ready for learning.Read More
Call it backbone, courage, determination or fortitude, it is all about GRIT and how we foster that in our children
When most people think of grit, they think of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” While that is an example of grit, most grit is of the less dramatic kind—the kind which allows a person to keep trying in the face of obstacles large and small.
Setting out to develop grit in your child sounds a bit draconian, but you do want your child to develop the kind of persistence that will allow her to pursue things even when the pursuing feels hard or not worth it. The best way to do this is to help your child see herself as being in process and to see challenges as something to go around rather than as something to stop you in your tracks.
GET 3 TIPS FOR HOW TO DEVELOP GRIT IN YOUR CHILD.Read More
Is it potato chips and soda making kids obese? Maybe not! While a healthy diet is important, of course, new research by Dr. Asheley Cockerel Skinner of the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) finds that “it is becoming increasingly obvious that the lack of physical exercise in children is the main culprit in the startling rise of childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and all other types of preventable medical conditions.”
If you are sick of nagging and arguing about it, here are some sneaky ways to assure your kids move their bodies without focusing on it being “exercise.”Read More
At the end of the day, family is about being together and feeling like a connected unit. With very little time in the week left over for parenting and family time, it is essential to be deliberate about the choices you make for your family--both by protecting the time you do have together and by making sure that time is quality time. Here are some tips on how to do that.Read More
Have you heard the cry of,
OMG, YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING!
Has your young teen shifted from skipping down the street holding your hand to acting as if you have the plague? Such behavior is so teen-movie, situational-sitcom cliché we almost don't fully expect it to happen to us. But if your child is developing normally and as he needs to do, he will have that moment when he acts as if you are an alien creature he has never seen before.
Your frontal cortex is fully formed: You have the big picture and long-term perspective. That makes it your job to keep calm and parent on. Repeating the mantra, This is a stage, it will pass, and it has nothing to do with me personally, it will help.Read More
Tyler Jacobson, today's guest blogger who writes about the struggle to find the balance between protecting our kids without falling into helicopter parenting, is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on Twitter | LinkedinRead More
11 teen suicides in 9 years. In one community. In my community.
How does that happen? Your first answer might be to blame the parents. Where were they? Didn't they know they were putting too much pressure on their son? Why didn't they do something?
But it's not that simple.
Sure, it is your job to protect your children? But are you being too over protective? And if you are, what is the cost of that to both your younger kids and to teens? And what can you do about being overprotective?Read More
Most parents understand and are comfortable with this when it comes to safety. Your two year old may want to climb the wobbly ladder by himself but you know that the risk is too great, so you offer a compromise--she may climb it with you hanging on to him tightly or she may climb her toy slide by herself. He may not use the big knife to cut onions but he may use the plastic knife to cut bananas or to spread butter.Read More
There are many reasons to give kids chores (To see a comprehensive list, go HERE. Kids like to feel needed and capable. Chores help with both. When parents set up chores as “In our family we help each other,” kids see their work as being an important part of being a member of the family. Plus, kids like knowing they are able to do things on their own. They like being able to know that they were the one who made the living room sparkle or who saw to it that every family member had a sandwich ready to take in his lunch. When all the family members are contributing, it frees up time for family fun, and parents are less stressed. Parents have to get themselves ready for work. If the kids are making lunch for everyone while Mom and Dad are getting breakfast on the table, families end up having a few minutes to sit down and start the day together.Read More
The first question to ask yourself, when considering how to keep your teen from rebelling, is what am I doing to help foster my kid’s independence and sense of autonomy?Read More
How did we get to where we are today?
The trend for highly supervised playdates grew over a lot of years, and there are some reasons that even if they change back, they won’t ever be quite the same.Read More
Perhaps you grew up in the days before the playdate. As you went out the back door, letting it slam behind you, you shouted over your shoulder, “Mom, I’m going out.” Her “Be back by dinner time” drifted after you. You then found someone on the streets to play with. Or perhaps you went to a neighbor’s house and called in the door to a friend. Then the negotiations began. Did you want to climb trees? Shoot hoops? Create fairy villages in the shade of the bushes? (I seem to remember that my best friend and cross-the-street neighbor and I liked to do the same things but never seemed to want to do the same thing at the same time.)Read More
Both as a teacher and as a camp counselor, I have dealt with plenty of separation anxiety in older kids.
In early elementary kids, it is still common to have a transition period as a child enters a new classroom. Even if the child was perfectly happy in the classroom next door the year before, he may spend the first couple of weeks crying in his new classroom. Intellectually, he knows he was happy the year before and will probably be happy again, but in between then and now, he has spent a lovely, long summer in the bosom of his family. For him separation anxiety is wrapped up in feeling uncomfortable with a new routine. Once he has cycled through the weekly schedule a couple of times and feels he knows his teacher, he is fine.
"Show me a child who
knows nothing about sexuality,
and you've just introduced me
to my next victim."Read More
Teach your daughter how to study a textbook. Kids think they can just read a textbook the way they read a novel, but although both involve reading, they are really very different tasks.
Here are some guidelines on using a textbook:
Preview all the pictures and graphics (Some textbook companies include information in the pictures/graphics/sidebars, etc that they do not include in the body paragraphs, and often this information shows up on tests). Read the first paragraph, all the section headings and the last paragraph of the chapter. Go over and look up any italicized words in the text. STOP and summarize in your mind ideas like, “This chapter appears to be about…. The material I already know something about is…. The part that looks the hardest is….” READ the review questions at the end of the chapter. Make guesses about what the answers might be. Guessing will help you be on the look out for information as you read that confirms or denies your answers.
Read in sections. At the end of each section, close the book (using a bookmark to track the page) and try to summarize in your mind what you have read. Say any difficult or new words OUT LOUD to try to fix them in your mind. If you are having a hard time summarizing, reread. Finally, when you can generally summarize, take notes and/or draw pictures or diagrams of what you have read IN YOUR OWN WORDS. Only go back to the text to double check you’ve got it right. Proceed to the next section.
After reading: Whether your teacher requires it or not, go back to the questions at the end of the chapter and do them. If none of the questions asks you to summarize the main ideas of the chapter, write a paragraph of 5–7 sentences that will become your quick guide to what the chapter is about.
As you can see, studying a textbook takes much longer than reading a textbook, but when your teacher says, “Read pages 56–61,” she really doesn’t mean read. She means study. You might think, “Oh, that’s just 5 pages. That will take around 10 minutes.” It will not. Once you get good at this process, it will take you around 30 minutes for the before/while/after steps, but when you are first learning it, it will take much longer, so be sure to set aside some extra time.
LOOP YOUR STUDYING
Knowledge in the sciences is accumulative. Subsequent chapters require you to know the information from previous chapters. For this reason, keep your notes from all chapters for the entire year. (If you are taking notes on binder paper, you don’t have to carry the whole year around with you but can transfer previous chapters to a binder you keep at home.) Every time you sit down to study new material, take 5 minutes or so to review old material. Furthermore, a good teacher will ask questions from previous chapters on every test, so set a time in your schedule to go back and review them from time to time.
It can be hard to understand material two or three chapters away from the one you are working on, but there is still value in looking at ahead to those chapters. Look at the titles, graphics and photos. Start getting curious about what it means. Be on the look out in your current and past chapters that might connect to the topics and themes coming up.
Knowing how to be a good student is infinitely more valuable in the 7th grade than any particular knowledge gained of a particular topic. Because grades count relatively little, 7th grade is the perfect time to focus on learning how to learn. That is a skill that you will take with you no matter what classes you take in the future.
I get lots of questions from parents about their kids--parents who don't know how they got where they are and don't know where to go from here. The older your child gets, the more out of control you can feel as a parent.
QUESTION: My 12 year old got so mad at being told (repeatedly) to go to bed that when he slammed the door, it shattered. I am at my wits’ end.
ANSWER: Oh, wow. That must have been so upsetting for you.
Although your instinct might have you wanting to come down hard on him, he needs your love and understanding just as much as a four year old does. I get that that might be really hard for you. A broken door is a big deal and having a kid that wound up feels completely out of control. But here’s the truth: When you get into a physical power struggle with a teenager, chances are he is going to win—which means you lose, which means everyone loses. Even if he is not physically bigger than you are right now, he is smart and can think of a lot of ways to get around you or to infuriate you.
Besides, you don’t want to “win” over your child. You want your child to be happy and expending his energies in positive ways.
The older a child gets, the harder it is for us to be patient and empathetic (He ought to know better, we think). And yet a twelve year old is still a child—a child with hormones racing around inside until he feels he has to explode to feel normal again.
So start with empathy: “I am so sorry you are feeling so upset. It is really scary to feel so out of control. I am guessing that you wouldn’t have reacted so strongly if you felt that your needs were getting met. When you are feeling calmer, we need to brainstorm some solutions that might make everyone happier.”
When everyone is calm, consider having a family meeting. Be ready to do a lot—a lot—of listening. (Click HERE for access to my free ebook on The Family Meeting.) Children who really feel seen and heard calm down enough emotionally to access their prefrontal cortex (where their most creative thinking goes on). Be prepared to make some compromises. Remember, your child is not behaving badly to spite you. He does not want to feel disconnected from you. If he could get what he needs peacefully, he would. It is not too late to work on nonviolent communication. Keep at it, and eventually he will be able to tell you what is so important to him. In the meanwhile, based on my many years of working with middle school kids, here are some things you might guess he needs:
•more responsibility outside of school (chores, being trusted with some money, making decisions about things like where/how to hang the Christmas lights)
•reassurance that you believe in him
•reassurance that you will love him no matter what (even if he breaks the door)
•reassurance that adolescence is a phase; it will get easier and he won’t always feel like this
•recognition that he is a work in progress; you don’t expect him to be perfect
•help reframing his so-called weaknesses into strengths
•understanding that messing up is a chance for learning next time
•lots of praise for what he does well
•appreciation for his contributions outside of his school performance
Use family meetings to engage his critical thinking skills. Present issues as problems that you would like him to help solve. For example, you might say, “Doctors recommend that 12 year olds get 9 to 11 hours of sleep. How are you going to arrange your schedule so that you get enough sleep?” By having him come up with a plan, he is more likely to follow it. If getting to bed on time is an issue, offer a lot of empathy and press for more ideas: “I can see how tempting it is to read one more chapter of your book, and at the same time, a teenager with two hours less sleep than he needs is functioning at the same level as someone who has had two beers. I worry that the rest of your day tomorrow is just going to be that much harder and I want you to have lots of energy. How could we rearrange your day so you have enough time to enjoy reading your book?"
Once your child is calm, brainstorm ways for him to calm down before he gets that out of control (deep breathing, stepping outside for a moment, excusing himself to the bathroom for a few minutes).
It is also time to brainstorm ways to make sure the door gets fixed. Does he have the money to pay for it? If not, how can he earn it? Does he get an allowance? Can it come out of that? When things fall apart and so much damage is done, it is going to take a while to make things right. Through it all, offering your child empathy and your steadfast belief that he has learned from the experience is what will allow him to forgive himself and move on.
Let's go back to how to avoid having a broken door in the first place. When kids get that out of control, chances are something has been building up for some time. I love the family meeting as a structure, because it guarantees that on a weekly basis each family member gets to share three good things. This keeps everyone focusing on the positive. If your child is struggling to find three good things, it is a red flag that that child probably has issues that are overwhelming him. The agenda portion of the family meeting allows each family member to bring up concerns and to brainstorm them together. In this case, Mom might have backed off in the short run, knowing that she could talk about bed time and listening at the family meeting.
My FREE ebook, THE FAMILY MEETING: GET 4 POWERFUL STEPS TO HARMONY AND CALM IN YOUR HOUSE, will guide you through how to optimize the meeting not only for logistics, but more importantly as a tool that helps you honor each child as an individual, giving them time and space to feel seen and heard.
My #1 Tip for Helping with College Admissions Essays (The younger your child, the more you need this!)
was an English teacher for 25 years and worked as a writing tutor on the side, often helping kids with their college app, including my own three children. That experience has given me my own perspective on the college admissions essay process.Read More
Considering I taught in the public schools for 25 years, you would expect me to be a big proponent of homework. At the end of the day, I am not, as it might be a waste of time and in some cases might do more harm than good. Here are 5 considerations regarding homework.
1. Homework Does Not Give the Bang for the Buck You’d Expect
Considering all of the emphasis put on homework, you would expect it to make an enormous difference in student outcomes. And while homework can improve student performance, there are a lot of guidelines for what makes effective homework and how much should be given. In my experience, teachers mostly do not give homework that meets researchers’ recommendations for kind and amount. Furthermore, I think most teachers—especially those without children of their own—have only a vague notion of the impact their assignments are causing at home.
2. Most Teachers Assign Homework That Is Easy to Grade—Or They Don’t Grade It Properly
I was an extremely hard-working and effective teacher. I actually did assign writing assignments that actually did take me hours to grade. I kid you not. An essay took at least 20 minutes to read, write comments on and assign a grade. With 90-150 papers depending on the week, grading took a minimum of 30 hours to grade. If I assigned an essay every three weeks or so, that was 10-15 hours of grading a week minimum. That alone might have been manageable, but that did not include the vocabulary, spelling and grammar work that I felt compelled to assign along side of that. Swamped by the piles of paper I needed to process, those secondary assignments got short shrift (which students took full advantage of, writing ever more meaningless sentences such as “The boy was lethargic”).
3. Homework That Is Not Thoughtfully Graded and Returned to the Student Promptly Does Not Fulfill Its Purpose.
Let’s take the vocabulary sentences example again. A teacher assigns using the weekly vocabulary words in a sentence in order to show understanding of the words’ meanings. Either the student writes a sentence so banal and without context that the word could mean anything (In “The boy was lethargic,” lethargic could as easily mean fat or kind hearted as apathetic) or the student uses the word incorrectly because he does not understand the meaning of the word. If the teacher does not correct his paper and get it back to him the next day, he will not be able to correct his understanding before he fixes the word in his mind for a test. In this case, not only has homework failed in its positive benefit, it has actually hurt the student be reinforcing a false concept.
4. Teachers Mostly Do Not Assign Recommended Amounts of Homework
I used to tell my students to work 25 minutes and stop. Seventh graders at my school were supposed to get 25 minutes of work in each core subject (math, LA, social studies and science) adding up to a total of 100 minutes. [Note: research recommendations would be 70 minutes.] With the understanding that students took different amounts of time, we assumed that we were giving between an hour to two hours of homework a night. (After two hours the efficacy of doing homework falls off completely). The reality was that kids were spending much longer on some teacher’s homework—either because they were struggling with the material and needed the time or because they were super conscientious and wanted a top grade no matter how long it took them. The longer I taught, the more anxious kids got about their grade, and the more kids I had that fell into the last category. But mostly, teachers didn’t know how long assignments took because they didn’t ask.
5. Parents give the wrong kind of help with homework.
Ideally, assignments would be just long enough to test or reinforce a concept. Kids would do homework on their own; teachers would grade it immediately to assess whether or not the kids got the concept. Parents would support the homework process by providing a quiet place to study (away from electronics) and asking open-ended questions like, “What strategy could you use to approach this problem?” or “Did you go back and review the material?” Ideally, parents’ focus would not be on the specific content but on helping the child develop strategies for breaking down and managing the work.
6. MY RECOMMENDATION
If homework in your house is taking more than the recommended 10 minutes per grade, I would start by keeping a log for a couple of weeks. Write down how much time each child is spending on each subject. Make note of how much help you need to give and what kind of help you have had to give. If you end up regularly teaching concepts at home, ask to have a parent-teacher conference. Ask the teacher if your child is paying attention and asking questions in class. If no, that is where you need to help your child make changes. If yes, then share with the teacher how much teaching you have had to do at home and ask her what her expectation is. A good teacher will say, “If you teach at home and your child comes to school back with perfect homework, I assume I have taught the concept effectively. I will not know that I need to adjust my teaching or leave more time for review.” A poor teacher will complain about the number of standards she has to teach and whine that there is no way to get through them in a single year. At that point, you might consider a conversation with the principal (bring your log). In any case, I would put my foot down in my home and limit the amount of time students could spend on homework. Children need play, they need downtime, and they need to participate in helping out with family life. When we let homework dominate the day, we do a grave disservice.
If Homework has taken over your home and you'd like some help putting it in its place, Sign up HERE for a "sample session" and we can make a plan that works for your family.