Education and Child Development
REFERENCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS
Reading With Babies, Toddlers, and Twos, A Guide to Choosing, Reading, and Loving Books Together by Susan Straub and KJ Dell’Antonia.
Babies and toddlers can often look at and listen to the same book over and over, until the parent is ready to cry with boredom. Young children really enjoy knowing what’s coming! Of course, the parent has to enjoy reading time also, or it won’t be repeated. This book suggests many strong titles and encourages parents to keep on reading even though the child appears not to be listening. Some kids do somersaults or peek at a page and run away, yet they really are listening! As they get older, they’ll sit for longer and longer periods.
This book is just full of great ideas for stories and for story time.
Welcome to Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Up, A Memoir by Barbara Feinberg
Please read this engaging book! It's about how children learn... what works and what doesn't.
As a professional educator and critic, Feinberg asks questions that all parents, teachers, and librarians should consider. If students are less than enthusiastic about assigned reading, perhaps the bleak topics are the problem: death, divorce, runaway adults and children, alcoholism, child and animal abuse, slavery, segregation, war, et cetera. Many of the assigned books lead up to a death, which is not exactly a rewarding ending. These books are popularly termed "problem novels."
My main quarrel -- and Feinberg's -- is that each of these "terribly meaningful books" has a narrow, inward focus that is grimly realistic. Yet children learn best through imaginative experiences. Why else is Winnie the Pooh such a beloved book? Why is all fantasty so beloved by our naturally creative children?
Again, please read this important thoughtful book.
Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 256 by Rafe Esquith.
This is the second book from a man who, after 22 years in the classroom, is becoming a legend. I think it's a "must read" for anyone who lives or works with children. The book is based loosely on Lawrence Kolberg's Six Levels of Moral Development, beginninng with "I don't want to get in trouble," the principle that functions in most classrooms. Working our way up, we come to a better level: "I am considerate of others." At level 6, you get, "I have a personal code of behavior and I follow it." (Esquith thinks of this as the "Atticus Finch" level. Remember To Kill A Mockingbird?) Different chapters focus on different subject matter--reading, writing, math, art, sports. Do yourself a favor and spend time with this inspiring and instructive book.
Signing Time Videos
Vol. 1: My First Signs
Vol. 2: Playtime Signs
Vol. 3: Everyday Signs
Two Little Hands Productions.
The first three DVDs in this series are by R. Elizabeth Bowers; other videos by several different authors.
I can attest to the value of teaching sign language to infants. Our second granddaughter was clearly frustrated by her inability to communicate-even before her first birthday. Clearly, she had things to tell us! Her brilliant mother taught her American Sign Language and voila?, she began to communicate-a joyful thing for all concerned, especially the baby, who was no longer fussy without reason. We think that knowing sign language speeded up her acquisition of English. Now, research proves us right. Knowing sign language DOES speed up learning speech. Is it hard to teach? No. Is it fun to teach? YOU BET!
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Mark Weissbluth.
"One of the country's leading researchers updates his revolutionary approach to solving--and preventing--your children's sleep problems.
Here Dr. Marc Weissbluth, a distinguished pediatrician and father of four, offers his groundbreaking program to ensure the best sleep for your child. In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, he explains with authority and reassurance his step-by-step regime for instituting beneficial habits within the framework of your child's natural sleep cycles."
-- excerpt of book description from Amazon.com
Joan says her daughter-in-law tells her "this book saved my life!"
Great Website: Actually, this address will link you to many other sites with information you may want as enrichment for your children’s schooling. Check out: www.welltrainedmind.com and follow to the list of links.
Real Life Homeschooling, by Rhonda Barfield.
Published in 2002, this book contains stories of 21 families who teach their children at home. The index is excellent. The stories, enlightening.
Growing Without Schooling , by John Holt. This is a book and a magazine, with a website. www.interdys.org
I believe you’ll find this book quite helpful. Holt is typically direct and does not mince words. I remember his much earlier book, Why Johnny Can’t Learn. That was full of common sense. This book comes very highly recommended, so it’s worth examining.
Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, by David Guterson, 2005.
Published by Harvest House, this is another book that many homeschooling moms and dads have found helpful. It is a fair and open look at the pros and cons of homeschooling, written in a direct, relaxed manner. Even if your children attend public or private schools, Guterson has education information that you can use…or at least think about.
Complete Home Learning Source Book, by Rebecca Rupp.
For many homeschooling families, this is their most-used book, as it lists resources on every subject, for every age. One mother says she prefers the Rainbow Resources catalog, which is updated annually, but many others swear by this book with its positive, upbeat tone.
Homeschool Digest Magazine.
If you’re a fan of magazines, ask for a sample and see if this suits your needs. Address is P.O. Box 374, Covert, MI 49043
Why Gender Matters by Dr. Leonard Sax. Parents have recommended this book, and it has a fine reputation. Here's some education history that confirms our need to understand and accommodate gender differences.
A few years ago, a government-funded study took place (in the midwest) that separated girls and boys for 2nd and 3rd grade arithmetic. All teachers were happy and eager to comply. In one exercise, during a snowy winter, both male and female classes were given this assignment: Build a wall that is X feet high (I forget exact dimensions) by Y feet long, and Z feet thick. Make the wall as sturdy as possible. Working as a team, complete the job in one hour.
Barely finishing in an hour, the girls built a wall of snow with exactly correct dimensions, which they hardened into ice by using water. They stood around, beaming proudly at their wall as it was graded.
The boys completed the task in only 30 minutes. Their wall had exactly correct dimensions also, and was also made of snow. The boys packed the snow by beating on it, to firm up their wall. Immediately after grading, the boys demolished their wall.
This is only one example of what teachers told me about boy/girl behavior during the study. Unfortunately, further government funding for this study was denied. But we can learn a lot from it, can't we?
These three titles are recommended to all her patients by Dr. L.A. Lather, pediatrician in eastern North Carolina.
Your Child's Health: The Parents' Guide to Symptoms, Emergencies, Common Illnesses, Behavior, and School Problems by Barton Schmitt. What constitutes an emergency? Maybe a trip to the doctor? How about just a phone call to the doctor? Parents, especially new parents, have real difficulty sorting out health and behavior problems. Maybe it's serious; maybe it isn't? Who's to know if you've never had children before, or if this new child seems especially tricky in some way! Schmitt's dependable book helps you to categorize health and behavior dilemmas, leading you an appropriate response based on knowledge, not on fear.
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2 to 12, by T.W. Phelan, Ph.D. This winner of a book is in fact the winner of the National Parenting Publications Gold Award. It is both workable and supportive, encouraging parents and teachers alike, offering a non-combative, calm way to deal with the inevitable conflicts between parent and child.
And conflicts ARE inevitable, you know that. Some children actually seem to work at being oppositional, don't they? Well, here's a way to restructure those stressful situations so that both parent (or teacher) and child retain their dignity.
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, published by W.W. Norton in 1999. Whether you are teaching students in school or at home, this title is a winner. Coming from two pros in the field, the information is right on target.The index alone is fascinating! You'll find helpful lists, too, such as homeschooling organizations, listed by state, and another list of educational organizations such as Dorling Kindersley Family Learning, Inc. The chapters suggest what books and activities are most appropriate at different stages of children's development.
References on Dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD:
Basic facts about dyslexia: What everyone ought to know , 1998, from The International Dyslexia Association (formerly the Orton Dyslexia Assoc.)
Understanding Dyslexia , T.R. Miles, from Hodder and Stoughton, 1974-78. (My favorite book-now OP. Online with used book dealers, e.g., abebooks.com
About Dyslexia: Unraveling the Myth, by Priscilla L. Vail. 1990, Modern Learning Press. (see review below)
www.interdys.org/ - The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Tons of information and free downloads.
www.nichd.nih.gov/ - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
www.chadd.org - Children and Adults with Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder Based in Landover, MD, CHADD offers lots of help, including local support groups. Newsletter, questions answered on-site, plus tips for managing ADD and ADHD students in the classroom. Telephone 1-800-233-4070.
www.LDANATL.org - Learning Disabilities Association of America
www.add.org - Attention Deficit Disorder Association ---help, information, links to other sites, and book reviews
www.ncld.org - National Center for Learning Disabilities: Resources on Learning
About Dyslexia: Unraveling the Myth, by Priscilla Vail.
This book is recommended because one of our adult Flybabies teaches dyslexic children, and highly recommended this title.
I have now read this book. It is succinct, accurate, and immensely helpful. Maybe I like it because Priscilla Vail has noted the same characteristics of dyslexic people that I have always observed. Because each person with dyslexia has a different mix of "characteristics" or "markers," each one is unique. Also, according to Professor T. R. Miles, author of Understanding Dyslexia, at least 30 or more dyslexic markers have been exhibited. That is one reason that education has been so slow in dealing with the 10 to 20% of students in our classrooms who are dyslexic. Clearly, some of them are "more dyslexic" than others, as well.
Talking About Dyslexia
Literally true to its Greek roots, dys and lex, the learning problem known as dyslexia denotes trouble with words. In general, the dyslexic child or adult will have difficulty with any one, or all, or a few of the following traits:
Some form of difficulty with words, whether it is an inability to recognize the small words, such as "the," "an," "with," "was," "saw," "than," etc. Or trouble with spelling. Trouble with longer words or words used rarely. Difficulty reading out loud. Any persistent difficulty with words.
Difficulty in ranking material or organizing material. Difficulty in organizing tasks. Sometimes, even with a few items to rank, the dyslexic person has trouble prioritizing.
Lack of awareness of time or space. A dyslexic child is apt to suggest an outing or task at a clearly inappropriate time. It is as though this child is in his own world. (My young friend Ben left the joys of the creek only when his parents cranked up a metal siren that lived on their front porch.)
Lack of awareness of facial and/or verbal cues. The dyslexic student is apt to raise her hand at totally inappropriate times in class. Likewise, dyslexic kids speak out at inappropriate times. It is as though they have no self discipline, but I don't believe that's it. Again, we go back to the dyslexic person's tendency to inhabit a semi-private world. Dyslexics often don't recognize even powerful emotions on another person's face. They may not hear these emotions in tone of voice, either.
1. More Specific Dyslexic Markers: (from Understanding Dyslexia , by T.R. Miles)
2. Discrepancy between intellectual level and spelling performance/ability
3. Weird or “bizarre” spelling—e.g., hackyturctor for helicopter
4. After age 8, confusion with b and d in writing or reading, or both
5. Trouble distinguishing left from right
6. Difficulty repeating long words with many syllables, such as precipitation
7. Problems when trying to repeat digits in reverse order, and any other problems with short-term memory
8. Difficulty repeating the months of the year in order -- greater difficulty when asked to say the months in reverse order
9. Trouble with subtraction “except with ‘concrete’ aids”
10. Trouble memorizing arithmetic tables
11. Losing the place when saying these tables
12. History of clumsiness, or late walking, or late talking
Most students learn to spell saw, and typically spell it correctly from then on. These people tend to be consistent with learned skills.
In contrast, the child with dyslexia may spell a word correctly only now and then. Spelling is a sometime thing for the dyslexic. More than any other trait, inconsistency (with words or concepts of time and space) marks the dyslexic person. When you know a child is quite intelligent yet also is quite inconsistent in academic work, your antennae should be quivering.
Be wary of ascribing a number to any student, especially those who might have dyslexia or a learning disability such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). People with average IQ scores have achieved amazing feats.
e.g., Any test which calls for memory of digits typically causes trouble for dyslexic kids. These students may be very bright, but remembering digits, in particular saying them in reverse order, can pose great difficulty.
If a student performs well at difficult reasoning tasks, yet cannot spell or read fluently, pay attention. Inconsistency is a red flag.
When To Intervene
If you suspect your child may be dyslexic, the sooner you obtain a diagnosis, the sooner targeted help can begin, and the fewer troubles your child will have in school. Dyslexics can be helped at any age, but early intervention is best. Kids who are diagnosed in K, 1, or 2, and get concentrated help with phonics typically have far few problems with learning as they grow older.
How many dyslexics do we have? The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) says that between 15 and 20% of us have language-based learning disabilities. They also have determined that 74% of the poor readers in 3rd grade are still poor readers in 9th grade. Thus, early help is critical.
Based on my 46 years of working with students, I believe that the percentage of people with language-based learning disabilities is closer to 10%. If I had 100 students in 4 classes, I’d expect to have 2 or 3 in each class with a moderate to serious disability, but no more than that.
Nearly all school systems offer help. Check with the guidance counselors to obtain a professional evaluation.
Remember, dyslexia and its mate dyscalculia (difficulty processing math symbols), plus ADD, are neurological disorders, which may or may not affect a person’s behavior.
In contrast, ADHD is a behavioral disorder.
What Do Doctors Say?
For parents or teachers of dyslexic children—or children with ADD or ADHD—the first resource is a good pediatrician. Since I have one in my family, I asked for her recommendations for parents and teachers.
“Consistent discipline is essential.” Not punishment, but discipline, such as regular bedtimes, being polite to everyone, etc.
“No video games.” They train the brain to expect zap, zap, zap—the opposite of careful, considerate, rational behavior and decision-making.
“Reduce TV time drastically.” (See above.) Consider this: In a dark room, the regular and often drastic changes between bright light and much less light on a TV screen have an effect on the brain—sort of like going to a laser light show, for hours on end. These rapid light/movement changes in a computerized game, for example, can trigger an epileptic seizure in a susceptible person. (This happened in our house, in 1985.)
Best advice is to save TV for weekend treats. Cartoons, nature programs, educational programs, and good movies make TV a real reward. Used all the time, TV is destructive.
“Teach your kids to make lists.” A good list is a must for efficient shopping or daily work. Kids with ADD or ADHD benefit from list-making, allotting time for tasks AND fun.
--List what needs to be done in the morning, before school.
--What happens after school, before dinner? Be sure to list times to play. --On the weekend, list time for cartoons or a movie or a nature show taped during the week.
--How about a leisurely walk after dinner, before the bedtime ritual? This gives kids time to unwind, talk with a parent, plan the next day.
--Evening/bedtime rituals are important. List what needs to happen: Teeth, shower, toilet, tidy the bathroom, jump in bed so Mom or Dad can read. You can have everybody showered and in bed reading in half an hour, with half an hour for reading!
READING AT BEDTIME is more valuable than I can say. I’d need an entire book to describe the dozens of ways you and your children will benefit.
“Set a timer to focus attention on a task.” For example, set a timer for 15 minutes for third-grader Sally to do her math homework. (People can do almost anything for 15 minutes, even math.) When the timer rings, Sally can play for a while, then do another timed segment of math if the homework is not finished. Very young children can work in five-minute increments.
Some kids can’t seem to sit still. Let them work standing up. They can set the timer, too, so that they take charge of the process. Even kids who have trouble focusing on written work do well with this method.
“Make sure that your LD kids get serious exercise every day. Children with ADD and ADHD have tons of energy that they need to burn off. Regular, strenuous exercise helps them to focus better.” Of course, this doctor and others—plus this mom and gramma—would be the first to say that ALL kids need real exercise every day!
Book Clubs for Kids
As soon as possible kids, should be running their own book clubs. You can whisper guidelines in their ears, but if they run their own show, they will take ownership of the club, and that is what you want.
A book club is not school. While adults may join book clubs to force themselves to read books they would otherwise not read, children typically participate in a book club only as long as they're having fun. Creative field trips that help to bring a book to life -- fossil hunting, dolphin watches, zoo visits, trips to a "haunted house," visits to a working farm -- are invaluable.
At the first meeting of the club, being as subtle as possible, help your kids to create the club rules.
How will they select books to read?
Will they take turns being moderator?
Will there be food? (Boys love food.)
Where do they want to meet, and how often?
How many kids can join the club?
What do they hope to get out of the club?
How much adult participation do they want...if any?
What different responses to a book interest the group: discussion? reading favorite parts out loud? creating skits based on scenes in the book? doing Readers Theater for a presentation to parents?
The Lit Test
The books we teach have tremendous influence on our students. We want them to be memorable as good experiences. But how do we find those special books?
First, Ask These Questions:
1. Is the topic of this book of real interest/concern to children or is it an expression of adult/author angst?
What are the main goals for teaching this title? If one of them isn't pleasure, consider another book. Literature is for enjoyment; textbooks are for instruction.
2. Can I teach this book in 5 to 10 lessons or fewer? (Even War and Peace can be taught in that time.)
3. Is this book relevant to my students' experience or can I make it relevant through teaching?
4. When finished reading, will students want to read another book on this topic, or by this author?
OR...are we reading this book purely for fun? If so, just have fun.
Kids need to learn in school that reading for pleasure is as important as reading for information.
Next, Consider The Following:
Theme:A strong book has a strong, universal theme. In my book, When The Boys Ran The House, the story shows how successful children can be in difficult situations, if given the chance to prove themselves. In Aunt Morbelia and The Screaming Skulls, the theme is overcoming a disability through perseverance.
Language:A strong book has clear, eloquent language. To test a book, read the first few chapters and consider: Are there memorable word pictures? Vivid analogies? Just-right adjectives, but not too many? Excellent verbs?
The overall style should seem relaxed, not consciously arty..
Characters:A strong book is character-driven, not plot-driven. The plot develops because of who the characters are, unlike stories in mass-produced series fiction. Will your students believe the characters in the book you're considering?
Pacing:Books for today's TV generation need to move right along. Give a book you're considering about three chapters to pull you in. If it hasn't grabbed your attention by then, try another book. OR...read students into the book you want to teach until they're hooked, and will willingly read on their own.
Setting/Time:Setting and time may be critical to a story, as in Stolen Bones, set at a dinosaur dig in Montana. In Howling for Home, my short chapter book, the setting could have been any urban area with any family unfamiliar with owning a dog. In A Ghost of a Chance, the setting absolutely had to be Beaufort, NC, where Blackbeard lived for a short time near the end of his notorious career as a pirate, and where regular dolphin sightings occur. You can have good discussions about the importance of time or setting in many books.
Plot: Plot is "the story," and it's important to most readers, but quite insignificant if the characters in a book are well done. Remember Ramona? Blossom Culp? Marty in Shiloh? And Alice from all the Alice novels? With writers like Beverly Cleary, Richard Peck, and Phyllis Naylor, the characters are so well drawn that we go along happily for the ride, enjoying these new people we've met in books.
Mainly, ask about the plot: Will it keep my students' attention? Is it logical or is it manipulated by the author?
While few books score 100% in all categories for everyone, really successful children's books appeal to lots of us in lots of ways. Kids become good readers when they have repeated, successful experiences with books. Of course, you are reading aloud to them every day. ONE-THIRD of all people learn best through their ears.
Verbal Games Joke of the Day Famous Quotes Dopey Definitions
"Gloom we will always have with us, a rank and sturdy weed, but joy requires tending."
The best learning occurs in a pleasant, upbeat environment. But groups of smiling learners don't just happen. Teachers create them. How do they do that?
We'll discuss how right here. That's what this page is all about. The more students and teachers share laughter, the more they will bond together as friends.
Medical science has proof that laughter is a critical component of life. It boosts the endorphin level in our brains, thereby boosting morale. Like exercise, laughter makes us feel better physically and mentally. It helps even very young children put problems into perspective or into the background altogether. With a "BOO!" around every corner lately, we need as many laughs as we can get.
"Wit is the only wall between us and the dark."
~Mark Van Doren (poet, novelist, critic)
IDEA: Check out the latest about the healthful effects of humor on the internet. Or, try the following:
Using Humor to Develop Creative Thinking,: by A. Ziv in Humor and Children's Development: A Guide to Practical Applications edited by P. McGhee and A. Chapman; Haworth, 1989.
Compassionate Laughter: Jest for Your Health; by Patty Wooten, R.N., Commune-A-Key Pub., 1996; also Heart, Humor and Healing
How to Be Funnier: Happier, Healthier, and More Successful Too! by Roger Bates, Trafton Pub., 1995.
Head First : The Biology of Hope by Norman Cousins, Dutton, 1989.
"Humor In The Brain: What Happens When We Laugh"--Interview with Peter Derks: in Humor and Health Journal, 4 (5) 1995, pp. 1-7.
Humor and Life Stress: Antidote to Adversity by Hubert Lefcourt and Rod Martin, Springer-Verlag, 1986; also, "Humor and Immune System Function," by Lefcourt, et.al., in International Journal of Humor Research, (3) 1990, pp. 305-321.
After some heavy lifting with new math concepts or a tough writing assignment, try a few verbal games and jokes. Students need to practice using logic to become verbally nimble, which translates into nimble thinking overall¾a great goal in language learning.
The Game of Stinky Pinkies:
Q: What do we call filthy fingers? (You ask the class.)
A: Stinky pinkies! (Answer must rhyme and be synonymous with the words in the question.)
Q: What's a glad Dad?
A: A happy pappy! (This is a double, and much harder.)
Q: What's a fat cat?
A: A flabby tabby!
Q: What's a silly fowl?
A: A jerky turkey!
Q: What do we call someone who purchases chickens?
A: A fryer buyer!
Q: What do we call the kid who adopted 40 puppies?
A: A dog hog!
Each Tuesday (any day you select) is Joke of the Day competition: Students who choose to participate stand up in front of the class and deliver the joke, in true stand-up-comic fashion. The class votes on the best one, and you post it on an index card on your BEST JOKES Bulletin Board, along with the joke-teller's name.
At the end of each grading period, collect and "publish" these winning jokes as your class's Great Howlers Selection. This game encourages even the shy kids to "present" something. In time, speaking skills improve, guaranteed. Also, you're sending a message about the importance of laughing together.
Yesterday, at my veterinarian's office, I read a sign in his waiting room. It said, "Doctor will be with you shortly. SIT. STAY."
How can I avoid getting a sharp pain in my eye when I drink root beer floats?
Ans. Take the spoon out of the glass.
How does an elephant hide from hunters?
Ans. She paints her toenails red and sits in a cherry tree?
Have you ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
Ans. No? Well then, it works, doesn't it?
Famous Quotes: You can combine this activity with Joke of The Day, but I like to keep the two separate. Memorable quotes can be lots of fun, and astounding your teacher with one is a very satisfying thing for a student. e.g.,
My books are friends that never fail me. ---Thomas Carlyle (19th c. British historian) Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.---Richard Steele
18th C. playwright and essayist
"Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog: few people are interested, and the frog dies of it."
~E. B. White
Her mind is so open that the wind whistles through it. ~Heywood Broun
This is the shortest book review on record, as far as I know. "The covers of this book are too far apart." ~Ambrose Bierce
"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." ~Eden Phillpots
Dopey Definitions (a verbal game)
Offer a few examples like the ones below, then turn the students loose and see what happens. This is another exercise in verbal logic/dexterity, like Stinky Pinkies.
Climate---the only thing you can do with a ladder.
Camel---a horse designed by a committee
Atom---a male cat
Antifreeze---a close relative lacking warm underwear
Adamant---the first insect in the world
Boycott---a crib that is not good for baby girls
Macaroni---famed inventor of the wireless: the first man to send a voiced message through a length of spaghetti
Stalemate---old or worn out partner
And how is it that my nose runs and my feet smell???
Again, you can vote on the best ones, collect, and publish them. You're working with words and their meanings in and out of context, perfectly on task.
Today, our lives have new tensions, new fears. We are not the same as we were before the tragedy on September 11th, 2001. When we go forward with joy, we are not being disrespectful, we are being brave.
WHAT IS DISCIPLINE? WHAT IS PUNISHMENT?
Pity the word "discipline." It has bad connotations right now. Yet discipline is not punishment, far from it. Discipline is what YOU practice when you say, "I guess I won't eat that entire chocolate cake. I'll just have a small piece."
When you exercise self-discipline you are accepting one of life's harder truths: behavior has consequences. If you eat that whole cake, you could put on weight…or be sick. And if adorable little Sarah writes on Mom's wall with that rotten purple crayon, she should be made to scrub the wall.
Children over 2 or 2 ½--according to old moms like me and child development professionals--must learn that their behavior has consequences. For instance, a boy who repeatedly throws toys cannot have those toys until he shows he can play with them properly. Stow the toys in a box in a closet where he can see them but not reach them. When he shows signs of "being nice" with his toys, give back a couple and watch the behavior. If he throws one to test you…and he's apt to do this…take the toy away immediately. This time, wait longer before giving it back.
Children need limits. They need fences. You're in charge, never forget that. Children test and re-test their parents, just checking to see if those reassuring limits are still in place. Parents stand firm, because any home where the children are in charge is a miserable place. Four year-olds are not equipped to run the house. They desperately need you to do that for them! That is how they find security and learn self-discipline--in the known guidelines at home.
So what is punishment? I think that punishment is in the eye of the beholder, that is to say, in the viewpoint of the person being punished, because forms of punishment are varied. To punish someone is to make him pay in some way for what he has said or done or or failed to do. It is instituting the known consequences for unacceptable behavior.
Adults who establish house rules have happier, calmer houses. Flouting house rules should consistently result in consequences, which should be known to all. For example:
(1) Amy, age 8, will not clean her room. Thus, she loses a privilege, such as riding her bike. If she continues her slovenly ways, the bike goes up on a rack until she understands that we are ALL responsible for tidying our private spaces.
(2) Chris, age 5, seems to enjoy being rude or acting up in public. He needs to spend time alone in his room, perhaps realizing that it's rather lonely in there. If he cannot behave when the family eats out, he has to stay home the next time with a relative or a sitter.
(3) The nine month-old twins love to throw food. Mom takes the food away and says, "We do not throw food in our family." Howls ensue, because the twins are hungry. As long as they refrain from hurling food, they can have it. Otherwise, the food is taken away. Every time. Put the twins down on the floor to go about their business until you see that they understand and will eat, not throw, their food. Very young children of 7 to 8 months can learn this.
These children will grow up and go away someday.
Enjoy NOW…because it won't last.
Keep an unannounced, one-month log of the hours people in your family watch television.
Simultaneously, keep track of the hours that various family members spend reading.
Show your family the results at the end of the month. While books require active intellectual participation, adding new vocabulary and ideas to the reader's mind,
TV is passive entertainment, aimed at 5th/6th grade, no higher.
Anyone who wishes to remain permanently in 5th or 6th grade should watch TV and avoid reading.
By the time our average American students have graduated from high school, they will have spent four to six thousand more hours in front of a TV set than they spent in school altogether. That is enough time to have a master's degree, but instead, they have familiarity with programs such as Beavis and Butthead.
The term self-fulfilling prophecy means that you will get pretty much what you expect. If you regularly forecast gloom, you will probably get it in one form or another. But if you consciously work toward a positive goal, you are likely to achieve that instead.
Early in my career, I pictured myself signing a book contract. I worked and worked, and kept envisioning the same glorious scene. In 1979, I actually had a book contract on my desk for The Revolt of 10-X. It was selected by Junior Literary Guild, appeared on several recommended reading lists, and was translated into French as la revolte de 10-x .
Here's another example. One famous educational study separated blue-eyed children from brown-eyed ones. The first week, the Blue-Eyes were praised and bolstered all day long in school. Brown-Eyes received frowns and negative criticism.
Result? Blue-Eyes excelled. Brown-Eyes performed terribly.
The next week, educators exalted the Brown-Eyes, who responded with high achievement, while Blue-Eyes regressed alarmingly under the negative treatment.
This landmark study proved beyond doubt that we DO tend to get what we expect from our children. (Of course, we have to be reasonable, not wildly optimistic.)
By the way, this philosophy comes vividly to life in Braithwaite's novel To Sir, With Love, an oldie-but-goodie. The movies stars Sidney Poitier. Modern films with this same theme include:
Stand and Deliver, set in Hispanic Los Angeles.
Mr. Holland's Opus, featuring an inspiring music teacher.
Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams as a thought-provoking teacher in a conservative private school.
October Sky, set in backwoods West Virginia, about an aspiring young rocketeer encouraged by his teacher. One reviewer said, "October Sky is a family film for the ages, encouraging the highest potential of the human spirit while giving viewers a clear view of a bygone era when "the final frontier" beckoned to the explorer in all of us."