What Does Your Child See?

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Does unconditional love matter? Oh, yes! Do children need to know home is a safe place and parents will accept them for who they are? Should they think the best of them? Oh, yes! Does it matter if children can be honest with their parents? Oh, yes!  Today, I’m glad to share this thought-provoking piece with you from Tina Hollenbeck, the Celebrate Kids staff writer. Every-other-Tuesday, we send out a newsletter to thousands of parents and teachers. This is her column for tomorrow’s issue; part of a series related to perfectionism. After reading this, you may want to subscribe to get more of her insights. We hope you will.

What Does Your Child See? by Tina Hollenbeck

I loathed sixth grade.

Each day when the other students and I walked into our math/science class, we found that Mr. Dizon had scrawled the page number and problem numbers for the math assignment in the upper left corner of the chalkboard. The rest of the space – which covered one complete wall of the room – was filled from top to bottom and end to end with notes and study questions for science. Our job was to jot down the math assignment for homework and then get to work copying the rest of the information. Mr. Dizon either sat at his desk behind us or leaned on a stool near the door. He rarely spoke and never instructed. We were simply supposed to learn and understand by copying the notes and doing the math problems.

By the third quarter, I could only muster D’s in both classes. I’d previously been a good student and continued to do well in other classes, but my inability to manage Mr. Dizon’s methods ate away at me. My father scolded me for my poor grades, wondering aloud what was “wrong” with me. He never thought to question why my performance had taken a sharp turn for the worse in just those two classes; it was just a foregone conclusion that I needed to “do better.”

“Don’t Complain, Offer To Help” – Dr. Kathy has a challenge for you in this video. “Don’t complain about your children’s grades unless ….” Do you want to know how she finishes the statement? Please watch this. Your children will be glad you did. You could watch it with them and use it as a discussion starter.

Celebrating Johnny Appleseed Day: The “Smarts” Way

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Friday is Johnny Appleseed Day. Teaching about him when I taught second graders was always fun. And, when I lived in Green Bay, WI, going to apple orchards with friends and family was always a highlight of the Fall.

What if we used all 8 smarts to learn about Johnny Appleseed and apples over the next few weeks? It might look something like this. I hope these ideas stimulate some of your own.

Familiarize your children with the folk hero, Johnny Appleseed, by reading about him, having them read about him, watching a video, or going to a few websites. (word and logic smart)

Have your children act out different parts of his story. They can do it several times and take different roles. They could write an actual script (word smart) or just be spontaneous, demonstrating what they learned when reading the story, etc. (word, body, and people smart) They could take the time to create some props and drawings for the backdrop and think about what they could wear. (picture smart)

Your children could paint with half- and quarter-apples as if they’re stamps. They can dip the apples into paint or use stamp pads. (picture and body smart)

Depending on the age of your children, they could independently research applesauce or do it with your help. They could find out how it’s made at big factories. They could also find a good recipe and make some at home. Especially if you and your children enjoy apple cider, you could research it, too. (word, logic, body, people smart)

Add raisins to applesauce for a snack and have your kids write a story about the animals swimming in the pond or stuck in the swamp. (word and picture smart)

Living Out What We Wish Others Would Learn: One Mom’s Brave Example

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Today is a big day. A mom is putting her daughters first and I’m impressed.

The sister of a friend of mine has distanced herself from her family. She tends to cycle through these seasons of major disagreements and communication conflicts. My friend is hurt, misses her sister, and especially misses her nieces and nephew. She has been seeking wisdom from others. She prays faithfully.

As my friend’s mom was talking with her daughters and ringing her hands in concern, she couldn’t help but reflect on her own relationship with her sister. They haven’t talked in 10 years. Because of past pain, she was willing to grieve the loss of her sister and just move on.

But, now the pattern has repeated with her daughters.

If you’re a parent, can you think back to the moment when your children learned to walk? What can we learn from these “Come to Momma!” and “Come to Daddy!” experiences that’s relevant elsewhere? So much! For example, what if we didn’t use the word “mistake” as often as we do? Listen and learn. As always, thanks for your interest.

Communicating About Academic Challenges

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You know by now, if you’re a reader of this blog, that all of us at Celebrate Kids believe children are smart in eight different ways. So are adults! All of us have all eight intelligences in different amounts. For instance, I’m much more word, logic, and people smart than I am nature and picture smart.

So what do we do when our children appear to have legitimate academic challenges?

We still look for how they are smart. We must know their academic strengths and talk with them about them or they will not know to use strengths to overcome weaknesses.

For example, as I’ve written about before, spelling doesn’t come easily to me even though I’m very word smart. So, I use a thesaurus to look up a word I know how to spell in order to find one I can’t spell. Knowing how I’m smart empowers me to do this. (I can look up “beautiful” to find “gorgeous.” Why is there an “e” in that word??!!??)

Don’t let them think they’re stupid. Help them understand that when something is challenging or hard, it doesn’t mean they are “stupid.” Don’t let them call themselves that and help them carefully disagree with anyone who does. Help them find a satisfying way to express their academic challenges when it’s necessary. I might say something like “Spelling isn’t easy for me because picture-smart and nature-smart are not my strengths.” Or “It’s hard for me to concentrate when reading some fiction because I’m not very picture-smart and I don’t see the action as I read.” Or someone might say, “Math isn’t easy for me because I don’t have as many brain cells in that part of my brain as I wish I had. But, I’ll use the ones I have!”

Just Watch and Listen

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On the way to the grocery store, a friend’s son asked if they could rent a movie from the Red Box he knew was outside the store. After thinking about their schedule, she decided it was okay.

After parking the car, my friend and her son waited behind a girl she estimated to be 14 or 15. When this girl realized the Red Box did not have the movie she wanted to rent, she loudly proclaimed, “I hate my life!!!” and stormed off to a parked car. My friend heard her complain bitterly to the driver, actually trying to place blame on her for choosing such a “stupid Red Box.”

Have you ever wondered how to determine whether someone’s security is healthy? Just watch and listen.

I’m just sad for this girl. To hate her life simply because a movie wasn’t available seems a bit extreme. Where does she have her security? Possibly in getting her way, in having fun, in escaping into movie plots, …

Just watch and listen.

Yesterday, sitting a few rows in front of me in church was a high school girl. Although she used to sit with the youth one section to the right, since her parents began attending three weeks ago, she sits with them. During one worship set, I noticed her parents holding hands and her dad holding his daughter’s hand. That’s security. That’s healthy.

Just watch and listen.

It’s never pleasant to feel dumb, is it? Yet, something we often do to children can make them feel that way. This leads to discouragement, frustration, and a lack of trust. Would you like to know what to change? It’s not hard. Listen to learn. Guess what? My ideas aren’t just relevant to school, but to life as well. I use an example of wounded warrior heroes from Iraq to drive that point home. I hope you’ll listen.

Embrace The Imperfect Student – A “No More Perfect Kids” Reflection

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Randy Thomas is blogging for me today. I’m sure he’ll inspire us and give us much to think about. I’m grateful for his friendship and role on staff as the Celebrate Kids’ Online & Social Media content manager.
I am honored to be blogging here today! Lately, I have been reading No More Perfect Kids by Dr. Kathy Koch and Jill Savage. The story below tumbled out and onto the screen after reading the first chapter of their excellent book. I hope you will see the value of how a teacher can embrace an imperfect student, help affirm their innate gifts, and set them on a positive course. Mrs. Pierson has always been a personal hero of mine. I am sure you will see why.

Mrs. Pierson had this completely ’80’s longish bob hairdo thing going on. This was of course completely appropriate because the scene I am going to describe happened in 1984. She also dressed like a college professor (in my mind) even though she was my 9th grade civics teacher. I wouldn’t say she was overly gregarious, but she always seemed super-smart, confident, and calm. For many reasons, I loved her and that class. In all of my school years, civics was one of the very few classes I felt eager to attend. I never hesitated to raise my hand and answer the questions she would ask.

I loved the subject and I loved seeing her eyes light up in recognition of my eagerness.

Even when Tip, the kid in front of me, would blow spit bubbles randomly in the air, I was always focussed and enjoyed that class. Tip was cool too.

Inspire Academic Improvement By Resisting The “Perfection Infection”

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It happens often. I bet you do it. I totally understand and yet I hope my insights encourage you to stop. Curious? Keep reading.

When you empty your children’s backpacks or go through their school folders looking at their daily work and returned tests, do you ask, “How did the other kids do?”

As soon as we ask, we’ve decreased our children’s security. Suddenly they feel as if it’s not really about doing their best, even if that’s what we said as they headed to school. No, in reality, it appears we care about how they stand in comparison to their peers. But is that wise? Necessary?

For example, your son may have earned a 92% and been thrilled because the test was challenging. When you ask, “How did the other kids do?” you imply the 92% is only good if it’s a better score than most of his peers earned.

Your daughter may have earned a low score and she’s already feeling badly about it. She’s not looking forward to you finding out and now you’ve put additional pressure on her. Now she may feel the score is even worse because it’s among the lowest in her class. Having to admit this to us may not motivate her to do better next time.

Constantly comparing our kids to others causes our encouragement to “do your best” and “concentrate on yourself; don’t worry about others.” to fall on deaf ears. They’ll stop believing us. They may get angry. These comparisons violate the key identity that they’re unique miracles. Comparing them can negatively affect peer relationships.