Thursday, June 30, 2011

Appreciating a Job Well Done

Has your child had a great school year? Have you thanked her teacher? I’m not saying you need to rush out and buy an extravagant gift, I’m suggesting a note or card of thanks.

If you’re really grateful, write a letter stating the specific things your child’s teacher has done and send it off to the superintendent and principal. Imagine the teacher’s surprise and delight to have their bosses be made aware of their hard work!

Teachers also love receiving letters of appreciation from their students. In this week’s Pointers blog I’ve included some tips to help children write a letter of appreciation to their teacher.

Most teachers love what they do and are happiest when helping children achieve. It is so rewarding to watch a child who was struggling suddenly make a breakthrough. We call that a “light bulb moment.”

Having a hand in shaping the future generations is an awesome responsibility. Somebody’s got to do it and do it well. It’s hard work but it’s worth it and knowing somebody appreciates our efforts gives us the boost to continue.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Praising Children

We parents want what’s best for our children. No argument there, right? We want them to succeed and be happy. For most of us that means we tell them how smart, beautiful, athletic, etc. they are from the day they are born. Unfortunately, in doing so, we are setting them up for failure! Are you skeptical? Here’s a great article on this very subject:

I’m guilty of praising my children for their intelligence. Now that they’re in their twenties, I’ve seen the consequences. College was too hard (too much work) and after a few semesters, they dropped out. Thankfully, my daughter has a good job with opportunities for training and advancement. My son is still trying to find his way. I have faith that he’ll get there some day.

Seeing the errors of my ways, I’m trying to modify my praise in the classroom. I’m praising my students for their efforts. I’m also trying to be very specific so they know exactly what they’re doing well.

“Effort is everything” is one of my favorite sayings in the classroom. Yesterday I quietly took one of my students aside and told him how proud I was of his efforts. Because he was willing to work hard, he made two years’ progress in reading in this one school year!

I’m pretty certain I can tell which children in my class have been praised for intelligence at home. Just like the article said, these students give up easily and choose easier tasks where they know they’ll have success. I worry about them. Success is tied to your ability to work through difficult tasks. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is another of my favorite sayings.

Have you listened to how you praise your child lately? Perhaps it’s not too late for your family.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ice Cream!

Ice cream is such an amazing treat! Have you ever tried making it with your children? It’s a lot of work but fun. When you’re finally done you’ll definitely have a deeper appreciation of this great invention! A helpful website for making ice cream with children is There are several youtube videos that involve making ice cream with liquid nitrogen—very interesting!

Speaking of inventions, do you know who invented ice cream? Find out at Check out the links to related topics such as recipes that use ice cream as the main ingredient!

There are also many children’s books involving ice cream. You’ll find a comprehensive list at One of my favorite poems about ice cream is by Shel Silverstein, "Eighteen Flavors."

With summer almost here, ice cream is definitely in season! I recommend spending some quality time with your family as you enjoy some delicious ice cream! Leave me a comment about it—I’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Reading for Children

Ahhh…Summer! Eight whole weeks of quality time to spend with your child! But wait, after a few days you may hear those dreaded words, “I’m bored!” What’s a parent to do? Why, head right to the library, of course!

There’s so much more at your local library than just a bunch of books. The summer reading programs at area libraries are chock full of craft activities and entertainment. Sign your child up right away, check out some books for him and get him reading!

Or if your child will be away at camp and unable to visit the library, Scholastic Books has a great website for parents with all sorts of information about how to get kids to read and a free summer reading program

A summer full of reading is win-win for you and your child. He might possibly learn reading is fun while earning prizes and you have peace of mind knowing he will probably not experience the dreaded “summer slide.” The “summer slide” is a regression in reading skills that occurs over the summer when children don’t read. This is especially dangerous for newer and weaker readers.

It is crucial that you choose “just right” books for your child. These are books that are neither too easy nor too hard but just right. Before the end of the school year, ask the teacher what book level to choose for your child. You friendly local librarian can help and there are many book lists available on the internet that can get you started as well. Scholastic has booklists, too:

So sign your child up soon! You’ll be glad you did!
How do you keep your child reading throughout the summer? Please me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!