Homework, chores, routines: Top 4 tips on how to not mess up the school year

The 1st day of school is upon us once again, bursting with tears from kids and whoops of joy from parents. Parents and kids will be faced with the daunting task of addressing agreements about school year routines including  homework, chores, and schedules. The following are my top four ways to get the year off on the right foot. Family meetings: Have a family meeting to decide together, as a … [Read more...]

Kids Process Newtown Tragedy

I sat this week in a classroom of 5th grade students, a class I have worked with  with my wife many times since they started the 4th grade last school year. We have been helping them learn how to create a caring classroom community, and they are awesome! Monday, they had the Sandy Hook School shooting on their minds, so we opened up the floor for anyone to share how they were feeling about the … [Read more...]

Lessons from Sandy Hook Elementary School

My first thoughts about what happened yesterday are really not thoughts at all; they are just feelings. Sad; angry; powerless stand out. I work in so many schools and I can't imagine if it had happened to some of the kids I know, many of whom are my campers. A few thoughts that may be a bit different from what you are hearing on the news: First, please don't let the message to kids be that the … [Read more...]

Are Teachers Harder On Girls?

The old logic held that teachers were harder on boys and that boys got into trouble a lot more than girls. I ran a weekend retreat recently for middle school girls and they had a different perspective on this issue. These girls felt like teachers were much harder on the girls because they had much higher expectations for girls academically. Girls saw evidence each day that boys were less … [Read more...]

Inappropriate Tweets Deserve Consequences And Education

I read with interest the articles in the Post Dispatch about 10 teens suspended from a local high school for inappropriate tweeting. The ACLU got involved, saying its not in the schools jurisdiction to do so. I disagree. Every student at the beginning of the year signed an agreement about posting comments that were inappropriate on the internet and cellphones, after what the school described as … [Read more...]

Too Much Noise

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics links background noise from tv sets and negative outcomes in young children. The 4 hour a day average was found to be linked to lower sustained attention during playtime, lower quality parent-child relationships, and reduced performance on cognitive tests. No surprise here. Kids today are growing up in homes where both parents work, family meals together … [Read more...]

Pearls Before Swine Comic Strip

I have asked the following sequence of questions to over a hundred groups of people, and by people I mean teenagers, parents, and teachers. And their answers are always the same: Q: Why do you want your child to get into a good preschool? A: So they can get into a good grade school. Q: Why do you want your kids to get good grades ie "A's" in grade school? A: So they can get into a good high … [Read more...]