Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Terra Nova Tears

My 7 year old is about to take his Terra Nova exam. He is in 1st grade and, as you probably know, this is the requisite standardized tests for first grade. We were discussing it in the car on the way home from school this afternoon. To ease his apparent anxiety, I told him not to worry about it because I would love him just the same if he got all the answers right or if he got them all wrong. He seemed surprised by this and asked me why he had to take the test at all if that was the case. I tried to explain to him that the test was really to make sure that the teacher was doing her job - that the State was testing the teacher. He looked at me in all his innocence and asked "Then why doesn't my teacher take the test tomorrow then mummy?" It's certainly worth considering...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Idiot Words and Fruit Loops!

Recently, my youngest invented a game that's probably been invented at kitchen tables across the country since breakfast cereal was born way back when... We had more fun playing (and eating) this game than we've had in years, and trust me, we've had plenty of fun! The goal was to make words with "oo" in them and use the cereal in place of the "oo" but we just kept eating them!! Eventually we had a list:

We did, however, encounter some problems along the way:

In our house we call them "idiot words" because they don't spell the way they sound. We say that some idiot who invented the English language couldn't spell very well so some of the words are spelled incorrectly...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Timing Is Everything....

So there I was at the ballpark with my 7 year old, for practice, and it wasn't even close to 6pm yet. We were uncharacteristically early but I had that uneasy feeling as no one looked so familiar...

I tried to make the adults at the far end of the field look like our team coach but I couldn't squeeze any of them into my vague recollection. There was a smattering of children practicing but they were just far enough away that my 45 year old eyes couldn't quite make them out.

As we trudged across the park my son informed me that one group were girls and he most certainly did not have them on his team. The other children on the field just kept growing as we approached them until I could no longer convince myself that they were just rather tall, very overweight 7 year olds. Finally I conceded that they were indeed around 10 or 11 years old and clearly not my son's team, so we wandered back to the car to wait, in hope, for some familiar strangers who were now our teammates for the season.

Hope began to fade as carload after carload of unfamiliar faces piled onto the field. I tried to visualize the team list that was posted on my bulletin board but to no avail.

You'd think I'd know better, this being my third child 'n all. It's always something - wrong time, wrong baseball park, wrong child... Why do they have to have so many variables? Why can't they practice in the same park, on the same day, at the same time each week?

Then the inevitable happened; just as we got to the right park, with the right team at close to the right time, it began to rain...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You Can Lead A Horse To Water....

When children have a need to communicate, they find a way to accomplish their goal:

The same is true of reading. Create a need to read and you'll generate that intrinsic motivation that serves as a driving force for success...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

You are welcome to post any issue or question here:

Are you frustrated with the way that your child is behaving? Is school becoming a problem?

Would you like to discuss discipline issues, cell phones, video games or your children's friends?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Don't Mean To Seem Ungrateful but....

My 7 year old brought home a note from school - he needed $5 for a mother's day gift. Nought for nothing but should I really have to pay for my own gift? What happened to recycled gifts made from discarded toilet roll tubes and washed out yogurt pots?
Worse yet, how much of his creativity and artistic ability are really in this present? I don't mean to seem ungrateful but I prefer anything that my son thought of by himself. I love paintings that he creates even if I have no idea what they are really meant to be and I love the good old fashioned potrait for Mother's day that looks nothing like a human never mind me. I dont mean to seem ungrateful but...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Do You Drop Your Children Off At The Side of The Road When You Get Mad?

Did you read about the highly intellegent mom who kicked her two children out of her car and drove off?

I wrote the article below for Texas Family Magazine last year. It discusses discipline. How do you discipline your children and what do they learn from it...


Discipline in a Hurry
Texas Family Magazine Posted by admin On February - 2 - 2009
Oct/Nov 2009 Issue
by Dr. Claire N. Rubman
His room is a mess… She doesn’t clear the table… They won’t do their homework or go to bed at bedtime. You’ve tried asking, screaming, begging and bribing but to no avail, so what’s next? You’ve grounded them for the rest of their lives, taken away every last meaningful possession that you’ve ever bought them and still the dirty clothes and dishes remain untouched. What now - do you give in and take care of it all yourself, turn a blind eye as they take their cell phone to bed with them like a security blanket? Is that what discipline has come to? Do you tell yourself that as long as they do well in school and don’t do drugs then maybe you shouldn’t sweat the little stuff…

As your alarm clock rings to signal the onset of a new day, the familiarity of those old battlegrounds looms. The monotony of the day can easily overwhelm us as parents. In homes all across the country parents are waging the same battle cries over unbrushed teeth, forgotten homework, uneaten breakfasts or cell phones at the breakfast table. Not to mention the failed campaigns and battle scars that have barely healed from broken curfews, forgotten chores and the previous night’s parenting endeavors. Bus time diminishes the importance of it all and you savor your impending respite before the next onslaught around 3 o’clock.

We know we can do better. We plan, discuss and organize more effective disciplinary techniques with friends as we compare combat stories and lick our proverbial battle wounds. We scour through parenting magazines in search of that holy disciplinary grail. Well, the search is over! You’ve found it my friends…

Try looking at life though your child’s eyes. Consider the possibility that your expectations might be unrealistic given the frenetic pace of your child’s life. Is there really time to follow through on a chore or are our collective children too busy rushing to school, cramming in homework, grabbing dinner on the go between the afterschool world of sports, music, dance and text messaging friends? Is life so over scheduled that even the best intentions get lost in the shuffle? Let’s create time in our children’s lives so that they can slow down long enough to tidy their rooms, wash the dishes or sort the laundry. Let’s set them up to be successful. As important as each individual activity seems, perhaps the overall goal of family stability is more crucial.

Lest you waver in your resolve, remember, these chores are not without a purpose. They don’t just help you out around the house, although that would be reason enough, but they develop self discipline, a sense of responsibility and family commitment. These are the character building moments in your child’s life. They form the foundations of our personal work ethic and our values system. Make chores a positive experience in your home and watch your children rise to the challenge. Respect the effort that’s involved and remember to thank your child. Never forget the power of role modeling.

Another possibility exists, however. We need to consider if our children are just too tired to function at their best. Perhaps they are just so overwhelmed by school work, hurt by a cruel or ambiguous text message or so stressed by their daily lifestyle that even when they go to bed on time sleep eludes them. Yes, children worry too and while they may not verbalize it to us, stress often keeps them awake at night. Lack of sleep can make our children short tempered, forgetful and lethargic – not the optimal conditions for a successful childhood. As they creep towards adolescents they require more sleep, not less, but they are being squeezed at both ends: They battle to stay up later now that they are older and school starts earlier in the morning as they shift to middle then high school, yet their growing brains and bodies demand more hours of sleep.

Even if our well rested children have slowed their pace there may be yet another reason why our attempts to discipline them may be unsuccessful. It is possible that we are unrealistic in our expectations. Perhaps they can’t tidy that bedroom because they have too many belongings and they lack the organizational skills to even start the process. Maybe their teeth go unbrushed because they want you there to supervise them or they’re not yet ready for that level of responsibility. Maybe your child just doesn’t like the toothpaste. Maybe your parenting is sporadic so they are testing you to see what they can get away with today.

Instead of looking for that disciplinary panacea, the next ‘quick fix’, look through your child’s eyes at the lifestyle, pace and expectations that you set and ask yourself, honestly, which changes you could make to benefit your child.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gifted, Eh?

Did you read the New York Times today? Apparently giftedness in New York City is up by 45%. How? Is it something in the drinking water? More to the point, why are we testing 4 and 5 year old children? What could we possibly gain as a society by testing little people who can’t even tie their own shoelaces yet?

Imagine the neurosis that this must be creating among parents. What is gifted and how can we tell? Where does it all begin –in prek, in the womb?

How do you know, for example, if your 2-year-old child is gifted?

Is your prodigy toilet trained? Well, many are, nowadays isn’t it a prerequisite for preschool, not a mark of giftedness. Can the gifted toddler eat ice cream in a cone without ruining his or her shoes?

Or is it a cognitive requirement - does a gifted 3 year old think more like a 4 year old? Can they read? Do they prefer calculus to play dough, or can they name all the banks that have gone out of business during this dreadful financial depression?

How do they test for giftedness?

Do they enroll children based on parental testimony or does the preschool administer some type of entrance test? Is it a written test?

What would you ask a 3-year-old if you were trying to differentiate between a run-of-the-mill child and a future Einstein? Wasn’t he acutely dysfunctional as a child?

At any rate, I read that between 3-5% of the entire population is gifted. That would make for a very small circle of preschool friends. Perhaps those statistics are out of date – either that or they all live in New York City!

Look on the bright side, taking turns wouldn’t be so hard and sharing the glue would be a breeze.

But seriously, where do our preschoolers go from here? Does the State kindergarten curriculum meet the needs of these gifted children? How does that curriculum differ from the one for our average Joe? Have we now dispensed with circle time, share and tell and recess for our nation’s brightest or do they still enjoy cup cakes, balloons and an occasional trip to the treasure chest…

Do these gifted children remain gifted at 5? What about 10? If you are gifted at 3, are you gifted for life? Which brings me back to my original thought; what is “gifted” and how can we tell?

Once again, just because you can doesn't mean you should...