Evidence speaks: Grades matter.

When my daughter started kindergarten, she refused to do her assignments and tests. She said the work was too easy and she had done the  work in her Montessori preschool. She asked me why she was expected to do “baby work”? She complained about being bored in class. She  could not understand why she was expected to be working on three letter words and vowel sounds when she could read? This is a child who chose to make a model “icosahedron” as a two year old since she needed a shape that started with “I”. So I felt for her and so I listened to her complaining about everything, from the math classes to spelling tests… When she was done speaking, I told her that I understood that she was frustrated. My next words to her shocked me, I asked her “how do your new teachers know how much you know if you refuse to show them on the tests and assignments?” I agreed with her that she was smart and hardworking and she needed to always let her work show what she knows. We had this conversation almost 8 years ago and I think this was the best 30 minutes I ever invested in her academic career. She bought into the idea that people need evidence to believe you. Yes the work is still too easy for her (ok I still need to refresh her memory regularly and she has her limits), but that is another story, however no one can out work her even on “baby work”.

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Paranoid Helicopter Parents.

It’s funny watching helicopter parents with their kids, you know the mom or dad that always holds on so tight to their children they never figure out how to explore for themselves. It stops being funny when they want to impose their irrational fears on others. The nosey helicopter parents call the cops when a neighbor’s 5ft 3 twelve year old is walking home from school by himself and trigger a child neglect investigation. The annoying neighbor who calls 911 when a 6 year old is riding her bike by herself in the driveway of her house, while her mom is watching from the kitchen not sitting next to the kid. Just because a helicopter does not allow her kids to ride the bus or cross the road does not mean that she has the right to use the police to harass her neighbors. OK helicopters claim to have good intentions but let’s remind them that “the road to hell is paved in good intentions.” Of course bad things may happen but living in constant fear and crippling kids with unfounded paranoia does not help them.  Life is too short to spend living in fear and kids should be allowed to learn how to assess risks in age appropriate ways.  So if you’re a helicopter parent and you are getting outraged by your neighbor who is so relaxed and letting his kids run free, take a deep breath, enjoy the scenery and go over and say hi.  Be neighborly before judging out of context. Use your brain and don’t be ruled by irrational fears. Also remember the police have real emergencies to deal with, a healthy kid walking home from school on a beautiful day is not an emergency. If you think it is please examine yourself seriously as you may need some help.

Cult/gang proofing our kids

A few parents have been on the news recently because their kids joined ISIL or other cults. The scary part is that the kids were just so regular and so average as were the families and we may be tempted to say it could happen to anyone. But as parents we can fight and prevent it. We can do something, anything and stop our kids from feeling so hopeless and easy prey to these cults. The first step to cult/gang proofing our kids is spending time with them and building up their individuality. They do not need the latest toys or gadgets as much as they need us. We can teach them to revel in their own quirks and let them know that stranger danger includes religious fanatics and gangs. We should tell them the truth about scary topics otherwise they will get their truth elsewhere. We must stop trying to make them fit in with others, celebrate their awkwardness, absurd humor and abstract art and music. We should let them develop their own voice and celebrate each assertive gesture. It’s so easy to blame the environment when we had at least 10 years to cult/gang proof our kids but failed because we were too busy chasing money, career or prestige.