Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An important Back to School conversation for parents and children

An important Back to school conversation for parents One of the biggest challenges for parents is to be able to tolerate their children’s mistakes and failures, giving them the necessary space to fail. Avoiding experiences in which you might make a mistake may be the biggest mistake of all. The ideal to strive for is not to avoid making mistakes, but to be able to admit them, smart enough to learn from them and strong enough to correct them.

“To shelter children every step of the way is to raise “failure deprived” college students and entitled and anxious 20-somethings who can’t function in a world that’s sometimes cold of cruel or indifferent, “says Megan McArdle. Talking with children about failure, sharing your ideas and feelings about mistakes can be helpful for all.

A book to jump start a family conversation about failure and mistakes is Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Jones. The books tells how ordinary objects, from an ice cream cone, the zipper, seeing eye dogs, ivory soap, & the post-it-note came to be from failures. Mark Twain’s introductory quote, “Name the greatest of all the inventors. Accident.” says it all.

The books begs the questions—

~ Can you go through life and never make mistakes?

~ Do you think it is possible to be perfect? 

~ Is perfection boring? Is there risk, fun, and adventure in perfection? 

~ How do you feel when you make a mistake—embarrassed, foolish, stupid?

~ Do you try to deny or defend your mistakes? 

~ Does the fear of making mistakes make you less wiling to try new things or take risks?

Additional books on failure for parents—
Gift of Failure, Jessica Lahey, How to Raise an Adult Julie Lythcott-Haims & The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success” Megan McArdle

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reading is more than just a nice thing to do with kids

Reading to young children is associated with good outcomes and new studies tell us a little more about what actually happens when you read a picture book to a small child. A recent study found more brain activity depending on how much the children had been read to at home. The part of the brain that becomes activated is also the part of the brain that becomes active when children read to themselves. 

The findings reinforced how important it is that young children hear language, and that they need to hear it from people, not from screens.  The language that children hear in a book is more “unique word types” than found in every day conversation. “So reading picture books with young children may mean that they hear more words, while at the same time, their brains practice creating the images associated with those words.”

“Reading to children has a very important role to play in building brain networks that will serve children long-term as they transition from verbal to reading.” Reading to children also makes them feel safe and loved—reading it true comfort food for children.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lucky the children who have parents and extended family and friends who read to them

I just received an email from a mother who took a children’s literature class with me when her children were young. Now they are in college but they have not forgotten the pleasure their favorite picture books of long ago offered and they certainly remember the love that came along with being read to. The young woman, while eating peaches asked her mom if they could read Peach and Blue when they got home.

More than likely it is the experience of being read those dearly loved picture books of childhood that turn children into adult lifelong readers. No one ever forgets the kind of love and attention that comes from a “Reading Relationship” where parents and children share their thoughts and feelings.

The email brought to mind the well-known poem by Strickland Gillian.

I quote a little of it here—
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath…

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summertime and reading go together like ice cream and a cone

Summer time reading liberates reading from the long list of assignments that often accompany
reading during the school year.
The tyranny of the assignment—

Read for 20 minutes
Keep a journal of your reading
Answer these questions
Write a book report—

Assignments so often rob the pleasure
out of reading.
Lets hear it for—Read whatever you choose and like

Reread a favorite book. You get to revisit a book you loved. You get to love it all over again. You now bring more to that reading experience so you get so much more out of the book.
There is absolutely nothing you have to do, other than read for pleasure. There are no assignments lurking that asks you to prove how much you understood the book.

There is no one saying you are not a fast enough reader
There is no one saying you are not reading challenging enough books
There is no one saying there is no purpose in rereading a book.
You know the story.

When we look at all the messages adults give children that suck all the pleasure out of the reading experience, it should come as no surprise that reading for pleasure is going by the wayside for too many children.

Replace those messages with—
Read what you want
Read what you choose
Read to get lost in a story
Read to meet new people and go new places
Finish a book and immediately begin to read it again—you are not yet ready to leave the story.