Sunday, October 18, 2015

PTS - Parent/Teacher/Student or Post-Traumatic Stress???

I find as a school administrator that there's increasing stress with regard to the relationship among the 3 communities directly involved in a child's education.  In general, our goal is to educate children within the boundaries of a school day academically, socially, physically, emotionally, and I'd add technologically.  Many schools are also charged with spiritual development.   It is an incredible task to complete.  It's also one that can be accomplished with a cooperative working relationship among the parent(s), teacher, and student.  There are set standards, common practices, and all must work together to design and achieve developmentally appropriate goals.  Let's take a look at how those standards, practices, goals, and communication among them may (or may not) work within your setting:

Standards – the content of the educational program
Does not have input to the standards, but should aware of them. It is what they are learning each day, every year.
Should be aware of them. Can have input at various levels by being actively involved in school boards and by voting for local representatives.
Is absolutely aware of them as the curriculum is designed around these.  Should be teaching the standards and setting annual goals based on them.
Goals/Objectives-these are more specific to each student/grade level
In general, these are the same for each class, but may vary per student based on unique capabilities.  A student can be somewhat aware of them but will consider his/her main goal to be to ‘get to the next grade’.
Will also have a similar goal in mind as the student but should also have more specific goals for his/her student based on the student’s individual needs that also align with the standards.
Will have the standards in mind and will fit the student’s needs in and align goals/objectives into this framework preparing the student for the next grade throughout the year.
Methods of Instruction – these are the ways the teacher will deliver the lessons throughout the school year. Often these are determined by a teacher's strengths/desires and district resources.
Depending on the age, the student may or may not know what method of instruction works best for any subject.  Is it rote memorization, kinesthetic or auditory learning?  Are all things visual/graphic best received and understood?
Parents, as well, may or may not know what works for their child.  Often they assume what worked for them should work for their child.  This is why there is so much push back on the Common Core.  C.C. is like a foreign language for many parents. However, it does work for some students.
Teachers have the task to get to know and understand an entire classroom of students and balance all lessons and methods of instruction for all students. The optimal classroom will have engaging lessons that balance visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning experiences-that meet the standards presented in the curriculum.
Communication – this is what SHOULD happen
Every child must feel safe communicating to his/her teacher about school and home.  Every child must feel safe communicating to his/her parent about school.  All communication must be respectful.
Every parent must support the school and teacher in front of the child, even when it’s difficult. Ask questions.  Make notes. Refrain from verbally ‘attacking’ anyone in the presence of your child.  Do not speak poorly of other children, parents, or school staff. Request a meeting. All communication must be respectful.
Teachers must keep parents informed. Technology allows for easy frequent communication. Students must feel safe in the classroom.  They need to be able to ask questions free from humiliation and embarrassment. All communication must be respectful.

I create this table just to begin to set up a discussion of the increased stress among parents, teachers, and students.  This was once a primarily cooperative, working relationship (I believe many, many years ago).  Research shows that it works much better when the relationship is cooperative.  How do we get back to where we used to be?  All areas need improvement - the standards (and how we get them), goal setting, methodology, and teaching.  However, next week, I'll talk about the communication piece. That said, we DO have some wonderful things happening in education!  Share them with us!  I'm going to share one with you below...

Until next week, keep it simple...and respectful. ♥D

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Check: Children Are Children, Not Pawns

This week, a Detroit area judge released from detention three children who refused to have a court ordered lunch with their father who was in town from another country.  The children are ages 14, 10, and 9.  Their parents have been in a 5+ year family court battle for custody and visitation, and have had well over 400 court filings.  Mom says dad was abusive, dad says she is brainwashing the kids.  Both parents are highly successful in their professional life.  Both parents, in my opinion, are failing at an alarming rate, as parents.

I am not in that home, and never have been so I cannot judge the validity of the abuse or brainwashing statements.  However, I can say that when the court has to resort to detaining the children for several weeks for violating a court order (not having the lunch with dad), the 'village' that is raising the children has failed.  The parents have failed.  Any extended family and friends have failed.  The school system has failed. The attorneys have failed.  The judge and court system has failed.  All of these players in the chess game of divorce could have made moves to benefit the kids, but did not.  Kids are not pawns.

Below is a link to a counseling and mediation center's page for the 10 Commandments for Parents experiencing divorce.  Many of them may be a challenge, but they can help to insure that your children come out of a divorce unscathed.

10 Commandments For Divorcing Parents

The mother was interviewed by local media and stated, "I told the courts that love brings love".  If the children are detained again because of parental lack of concession with the court orders, I'd like to offer a final move in the chess game:

Check Mate: we find the children another loving home without turmoil and game play from any parents.

We have to protect our children from everything we can.  For the media's version of the events, see the video below.

Keep it simple...very simple. ♥D

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Gap - The Reason Parents May Be Talking About LGBTQ Way More Than Ever

We all know that parenting does not come with a handbook.  Growing up, I was exposed to about 6 network television channels, the remote control was introduced at some point, and I loved to watch The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Knots Landing (that was my most PG-13 rated show).  I don't believe my parents had to tackle really explaining other family lifestyle choices to me...we simply don't have any family members living in situations that vary from heterosexual ones.  If you are a parent who was raised in the 60's, 70's. and 80's, think back to your exposure to lifestyles that are not heterosexual families.  I bet for the majority it was limited, and not much discussed at family dinners.

Flash forward to today.  Imagine being a child, or a teenager who has access to 500 television channels - a few of which are dedicated to LGBTQ lifestyles.  Magazines with covers that are devoted to trending topics, along with #CaitlynJenner (just to name one hashtag) surfacing everywhere lately.  Look at this site below that offers a pop culture timeline, and this is just lists homosexuals in the media.  You'll notice a major increase in the 2000's.  Kids are very much exposed to differing lifestyles, and many readily accept them.

Whatever your feelings are on lifestyles, I'll say this again, your children are very much exposed to them, and the world is encouraging an openness and acceptance.  This may be a different opinion from yours.  Your child may be open and accepting.  Is it okay for you to differ in your opinions?  It is.  Think back to a time when you were young.  Did you agree with your parents on everything?  Really think about it.  Evolution, education, and maturity allow humans to move on with differences and love.  Educate yourself on the lifestyles. Know that they are rooted in love, and not 'choice'.  Watch Caitlyn Jenner's story with an open mind to try to understand what goes through a person's mind and body during his or her lifetime.  Do you have to agree with it?  Nope.  But it may help you understand why your child is using empathetic skills in today's world.  It may also help prepare you if your child approaches you and has to tell you about the lifestyle he or she is living.

I've included below an interesting round-table about today's youth and the generation gap.  I think you'll enjoy it.

Keep it simple...and be ready to listen and talk to your children. ♥D

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Four (& Five) Letter Words I Now Have A Love (& Hate) Relationship With

WORK.  SERVE. TIME. MONEY. MORE.  HELP. FREE.  NEED. WANT. HARD. WORK (yes, I listed this one again). EASY. PLEASE. GIVE. GOV'T (I abbreviated that one). My list could go on.  I'm sitting here on this Memorial Day holiday weekend remembering a very dear friend who lost his life in Fallujah almost 9 years ago, serving in the Marine reserves. He made the ultimate sacrifice serving his country, as many, many have so that we can live here, in the U.S. in a free democratic state.  God Bless him, and all of those who have served and are serving.

Let me ramble...

I'll get wrapped up in situation with 'whomever'...complaining that WORK is too HARD. I wish it was EASY! Or maybe someone is in NEED of HELP with whatever situation he/she is dealing with.  There is never enough MONEY to get what they NEED. Or maybe, just maybe if they had a little MORE of it, they would be all set. Why can it just be FREE? In addition, there is never quite enough TIME to SERVE those who, again, NEED it. PLEASE, somebody, step in and help out! I even catch myself making these statements...if only, if only...

And then, this weekend rolls around, and thank goodness for it, to remind and help me reflect on the TIME, WORK, & HELP given to me by so many before me. It wasn't EASY or FREE.  Thank you for serving.  Thanks to the families of our soldiers for the sacrifice you endure.  I am a lucky American.  I am a grateful American.

I love those words listed above.  I think I kind of hate them too.  We take them for granted, and use them too easily.  Teach children to WORK and SERVE.  Teach them the difference between WANT and NEED.  Show them the true value of MONEY by having them earn their own, even if you have plenty.  Finally, make sure they understand what it means to be FREE.

Happy Memorial Day!

Below is a short video tribute to my friend...

Keep it simple...and be forever grateful for freedom. ♥D

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Never Put Anything In Writing...

Happy Mother's Day!  As I sip my coffee on this Sunday morning, I read many social media posts from others paying homage to mom.  I was thinking back to a somewhat vivid memories I have from back in 7th or 8th grade.  We didn't have text messaging or any other form of electronic communication...we had that reliable system of 'note passing'.  It was a pretty reliable source of information.  And, the one that repeatedly got me in the most trouble.

Mom's really almost know everything they need to about their children.  They listen to conversations (some of the best come when you're driving them around-especially with friends), pay attention to your whereabouts, and they READ.  For me in junior high, it was amazingly cool to wear Jordache jeans with spectacular stitching on the pockets and those pockets provided a place for my notes from friends to live.  But they had to be washed.  How many of you have family members that actually clean out their pockets prior to giving you the wash?  Oh, the many times I sent my notes to the laundry room.  I was handing my mom a gift into my private, personal life as a 7th grader.  Many conversations came out of the wash.  Many smart pieces of advice came (it may have been with or without a consequence of grounding).  The one piece of advice I have carried with me since that day...

Never put anything in writing that you do not want someone else to read.

Oh boy, is this helpful today!  With copy/paste, Tweet/ReTweet, forward, and share...we're doomed if we put a regrettable statement in writing.  I received many pieces of great advice (and still do) from my mother but this was has stayed with me to pass on to my children today.  What wonderful gifts have you received from your mom?

Here's a sweet video that celebrates moms.  There are many forms of know how you fit into this role.  Thank you.  Happy Mother's Day!

Keep It Simple...and relax today!  ♥D

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Red 'Oh No' Cup (Again!) - Reminders for Prom and Graduation Season

You can't stop the inevitable.   Especially at this time of year.   Prom season. Grad parties.  Pool parties.  Bonfires.  Your teenager will undoubtedly be invited to these and will be begging to go.  They have been waiting for summer freedom to arrive.

Red Solo Cup... this is your favorite time of year too!  As parents,  we are terrified of any photo with our children holding you close in hand.   But they may be put there.  Twittered.   Snapchatted.   Instagrammed.   You may think that ignorance is truly bliss.   But when it comes to your teen drinking,  knowledge is life saving.

Look at this Buzzfeed article and the images other countries have of American parties...

So how can we realistically help our kids?   I truly believe we have to offer our kids FASES (FAce Saving Exit Strategies).  I will offer these often,  for every age and many situations.   We all want to get out of challenging situation with grace, especially teenagers.  Here are my thoughts:

  1. Have them say, NO-I don't drink.  However, think back, how often did YOU do this?  Were you successful?
  2. Have them offer a medical excuse, "I'm taking medicine for an illness right now and cannot have alcohol".   Nope, it is not ok to lie...but if they find they are not strong enough to just say no, allow this one.
  3. Tell them to fill up the cup, but DO NOT DRINK from it.  Pour it out slowly.  Dump it in the sink. Pretend to drink, and then just don't!  Go to the bathroom and rid of the drink.  However, if a party is broken up with law enforcement, it is never a good idea to have the cup in hand anyway.
  4. Have them exit the situation.  Call you.  Text you.  Make it ok for them to get a hold of you for a rescue and then blame you for the exit.  It's ok for you to be the bad guy, if they stay safe, and remain in good standing with their peer group.

FASES are critical for all ages, even adults.  Do you have any to share for this issue?  Please do.

Finally, if you've got a little song in your you go (and this is Glee's version because this is what our kids are watching).  Keep it simple...everyday!  ♥D

Sunday, March 29, 2015

K-Cups...I Blame You for Our Loss of Filters

We need them back.  Filters, that is.  Language filters.  There's an increase in what we, as adults, choose to say in front of our children.  We need to remember that they are children.  Their brains are developing, and they cannot process emotions and feelings at a mature rate.  They do not understand that we sometimes have to behave one way, even though we may have contradictory feelings at the time.  They do not understand the importance of time and its healing powers.  Children haven't lived long enough to understand any of this.  Today, I plead with readers...put your filter back on when having conversations with or around your children.  Stop yourself.  I'll give you some examples...

Regarding Teachers/Coaches/Volunteer Leaders - You will, if you have not yet, have an issue with one or more of your child's teachers/coaches.  While it used to be the norm to speak with your child, and then the teacher/school, prior to having an emotional reaction...I find that more and more parents have an that reaction in front of their children without speaking to the teacher first. It's often not in favor of the teacher. Please do not make disparaging comments/assumptions out loud in front of your child. If you have middle school aged children, you know about the challenging moments that come while raising them. It's natural for their age.  Can you imagine being a teacher, trying to educate your child, who has a lack of respect for him/her for more than just those moments?  Sometimes they carry this disrespect throughout the course.  This can be due to something that occurred in parent conversations, overheard by your children (and yes, I recognize it can also be due to the teacher, I know we do not always have the most respectful educators).  Filtered conversations regarding school and it's teachers can make a significant and positive impact on your child's school year. This also applies to coaches and volunteer leaders for groups your child may be affiliated with.

Regarding Family Life - Even more important, and possibly more challenging is preventing eruptions and emotional confrontations between parents in front of the children.  I've included a YouTube video below (it's short!) regarding the impact on children.  We are here to protect our children.  Allowing them in to the issues of marital breakdown is harmful.  No parent would throw their child into a burning not throw them into the middle of broken marriage.  Save your discussions for private.  Get a babysitter.  Send them to grandmas.  Whatever it takes.  I have admired many parents who can do this.  It can be done with peace and grace.  The kids come out alright, and with two loving parents sharing time with them.

Regarding Language In General - If you don't want them to say it, don't say it in front of them.  I think that one is self explanatory.  Children learn what they live.

Filtering may come naturally, or it may be a complete challenge.  Take the challenge.  It will be worth it.  We will see an increase in overall respect.  You are modeling relationships. Again, it will be worth it.

Keep it simple...and filtered!  ♥D

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Great News About the Common Core!

There is so much negative media about the Common Core, I thought it would be nice to shed some light on what I view as a real strength to these benchmarks, especially during reading month.  There's a shift in required reading across all grade levels to what is referred to as informational text.  What is it?  Informational or expository texts main purpose is to inform or instruct the reader in some way.  There is often specialized vocabulary, and many times diagrams or charts, photos or illustrations that aide in the delivery of the information.

Why is this a 'good thing'?  The reading materials associated with informational texts are providing real and true information.  There's a shift to reading based on interest.  We know that if our children (or students) are interested in a topic, then they will be engaged.  Give them a book on how a shark really lives (especially during Shark Week!), with photographs, as opposed to a story about a shark and there will probably be increased desire to read.  There's a book referenced in a link I'll share with you about children of the wild west.  If your child has an interest in that time period and growing up in the era, his/her drive to learn will be self-motivated, and this book is a great resource.

I believe we will see boys reading more.  The books available in classroom libraries will shift from stories to informational texts.  Stories are still very relevant, but there will be a better balance. What do you have at home?  I've attached a book list generated by Judy Freeman.  They are her picks of the top non-fiction books of the century.  These are just a sampling of what is available.

Some Great Non-Fiction Picks for Children

Remember, this is a change brought forth by the Common Core.  Next time you feel frustrated by it's math methods, take a moment and think about the wonderful shift it's trying to bring about with reading.  Then go get a book.

I've added one last video from author and historian Marc Aronson.  Take a moment to watch.

Keep It Simple...and have patience with the Common Core ♥ D

Thursday, February 19, 2015

50 Shades - What's OK there, is not OK here...but that's OK!

I bet you think this post is all about that movie.  No, this is a post about raising children.  However, when you think about the term raising children...we really are raising/growing adults.  We need to make these precious, precious people functioning adults.  How can we best do that?  In my opinion, it's through the amazing art of discussion and communication.

I chose '50 shades' because what goes on behind the doors/windows of one's home does not have to be what happens in your home. No matter how much pressure your kids put on you!  There was much buzz lately about children in France being allowed to watch 50 Shades of Gray (see USA Today Article ).  While US families are criticized for allowing children to be exposed to violent films.  Let's take these examples and narrow them down to your children and the discussions you can have with them when they say to you that 'Sarah can do this' or 'Lucy has that", 'Sam can play that', etc...

This is a great time to open that window and have a discussion!  As I have mentioned previously in this blog, sheltering and protecting our kids from too much will not prepare them for difficulties and challenges of adulthood.  This does not mean that you should be permissive, but providing some explanations can help.  Talk about your reasons.  There's increased intrigue with the word no.  Assisting with an explanation can alleviate some of the allure and buy some time before they will ask again.  My youngest wants a Twitter account.  Many of her friends have one.  She cannot have one yet.  However, instead of 'pulling the shade down' with a NO, we can discuss why she cannot have it yet.  I can also tell her, that it's great that her friends have one, without placing any negative judgments on what is allowed at their homes.  It's a tricky thing to do, but you must do it.

Finally, you probably won't make them happy if your stance is not the same as theirs.  That's ok.  You are the parent.  Let them know that in time, they can have whatever privilege it is they are seeking.  I always say that's 'the bonus of growing into an adult'.  Whether you close the shade or raise it, do so with discussion.  It's so important to best prepare them for adulthood.

Keep It Simple...and talk to your kids!  ♥D

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kids Are Color Blind

It's already February, the month we celebrate hearts, love, and black history.  Extra efforts and emphasis are often put in by schools to recognize notable African Americans and their accomplishments during the month.  As mom and primary educator, we have to recognize teachable moments, and hope that we handle them in a way that will make the world better.  That's a big job.

I always think back to a February when my (now adult) daughter was 5, and I was watching 'Boston Public'.  She came into the room and saw Chi McBride on the television and something about him reminded her of her father. Her dad was a bald, white man, with strong American Indian traits in him.  He loved the sun, and was often very tan, or brown skinned.  My daughter saw Chi, and said "I'm so thankful we had Martin Luther King, because now daddy can live with us".  In that very teachable moment, I had a choice...tell her that 'daddy isn't black so this doesn't apply to our family'.  Or say, 'yes, we should be thankful for him because all colors of skin can live together and be a family'.  I chose the latter.  She needed to know this lesson, first and foremost.  At a later time I would explain more about her American Indian and Italian heritage.

In moments like these, what do you do?  Kids are color blind.  They are accepting of all.  Your experiences are not those of your kids.  That's important to remember.  Your pre-conceived notions about cultural/racial groups are not those of children.  Imagine a world where we did not make a judgment against anyone based upon skin color, ethnic group, or orientation.  My goal for my children is to meet someone, get to know them, then decide if their inner character is one that they have room for in their life.  Do the value systems align?  If not, then find room for a person with shared values.  It's February...celebrate love for all.

I've included a video today.  It has some strong comments on the YouTube site, but I liked the thoughts.  Watch it...and form your own opinion.

Keep It Simple...and share love!  ♥D

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I get the privilege of attending one of my very favorite little girl's 1st birthday party today.  I was looking forward to see her eat and attack her birthday cake, when not too long ago pictures of her floated across my social media and she was doing it...with the caption of 'smashcake'.  I saw her dad a few weeks ago and he explained she had already had this experience for her 1st birthday photos.  The word 'smashcake' was recurring in our conversation.  Then, last week, I was at school and another mom mentioned how she was at a little ones party and talked about how the little one did with his 'smashcake'.  What?  What''s not just cake anymore?

I have 3 close family members who are having babies this spring.  My youngest is 12 so it has been a while since I was caring for a baby.  Watching them go through the challenges and joys of pregnancy and caring for infants, makes me grateful I was younger when I had my 3.  ;)  However, it also had me take pause and reflect on the advice I received, and the notions that I believed to be right (whether they were or not), and how those around me reacted to it.

I remember a conversation that I had almost 20 years ago with a family member.  I chose not to breastfeed my children.  I simply did not want to.  I didn't have any other reason for my choice.  This family member was so upset with me, and told me how much damage I was doing to my child.  I often wonder if she's aware that he's ok, and doing well in college now.  He survived formula. My point is, every new mom, experienced mom, and super mom is entitled to her own belief, value system, and choices.  We have to be a system of support for one another that is anchored in respect.  It's often kind of interesting to learn from one another.  Pregnant women are now cautioned from so many things, that I'm sure I wasn't clued into just 12 years ago.  Talking with them and asking questions, rather than passing judgment can be a wonderful conversation.

And yes, I'm sure you did 'that', and survived.  But try not to make any new mom feel bad for not doing what you did.  She's got enough on her plate...I'm sure that is something all moms have in common.  ;)

I've attached a funny video from Jimmy Fallon...enjoy!

Keep It Simple...and enjoy your cake! ♥D

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a New Year...Allow for Do-Overs and Letting Go

Happy New Year!  If you are following my book updates...there's a new one on that page today!

I can't believe we are beginning 2015!  I was thinking about how we often get caught up in hurt and worry over life's issues that are out of our control, or are simple mistakes.  When my children complain about other people in their life that have caused conflict, I tell them that those are the people in most need of our prayers, or positive thoughts.  So often we cannot understand the motivation of others, or even ourselves, when we act in an unkind way.  Have you considered that awesome concept by children of a 'do-over'?  This then needs to be followed with 'letting go'.  We can do it, nothing is stopping us (except for pride, or any other human emotion that applies).  Here's an example:

I had a stress-filled day not too long ago.  It was full of that Christmas time, parking in a full lot, couldn't find the gift I was searching for, etc...  Later that day, I found myself delivering that stress to my children as we prepped for dinner.  The kids were unsure, and began to 'walk on eggshells' around me as we got the house cleaned and dinner ready.  After a pause, I realized that my stress is not their problem.  I told the girls that I simply needed a 'do-over'.  I explained that my day was difficult, and it was not their fault.

This then, needs to be accepted, and letting go has to start immediately.  Sometimes the idea of letting go of anger or irritability takes longer.  As adults, we can model it for the kids, so that they learn from it.  It's ok to have difficult exchanges with loved ones, but it is critically important to share with them a fresh start...immediately.  If you hold grudges and carry lingering anger, your children will learn to do this as well.

Do-Over and Letting Go can be useful in many, if not all situations.  From little problems, to those quite large...ask for a do-over, and then let it go.

It's a new year, start fresh.  Enjoy something everyday.  Model kindness for your family.  Enjoy this video of 2 sweet girls...letting go.

Keep It Simple...and do anything you need to, over.  ♥D