The Best of 2017 from Confident Parents, Confident Kids

In 2017, the Confident Parents, Confident Kids’ community continued to grow in followers and collaborators and celebrated five years. Thank you for your continued participation in this critical dialogue on how we can promote essential life skills in our children! In case you missed any, here are the most popular articles from the past year!

  1. A Storied Childhood; The Impact of Stories on Children’s Social and Emotional Development

This article continues to be the most popular of all published. Here’s how it begins…

Oh, the places you’ll go! The worlds you will visit! The friends you will know! – Dr. Seuss

“What are you guys up to?” I say to the three six-year-old friends in my living room. “We’re sharing our books!” one says with an “Isn’t it obvious?” tone. Reading is a top priority in the early elementary school years with some states enforcing a reading guarantee (“All kids will read with proficiency by the third grade.”). And so at times it feels, the pressure is on. “Mama, I feel with my whole body that I won’t learn to read,” E said to me at age five. Yet, we have read together since the days when he was swimming in amniotic fluid. “Oh, the Places You Will Go!” was our favorite. We have books in every room of the house. We’ve read several books together every day of his life. But he has a mounting anxiety around learning to read. Perhaps because it is so much a part of our lives, he feels the importance of reading. But also, I suspect that school is pushing hard to make sure he hurries his learning pace. He’s not alone. A worried mother recently confided in me, “I’ve had my son going to a tutor all summer because I’m told he has to read by the time he starts first grade!” Yes, learning to read is certainly important but how children learn to read is just as important. Read the full article.

2.Kindergarten Exhaustion

How Can You Help Your Five-Year-Old during the Major Adjustment to All-Day Kindergarten?

“We have to go back every day?!” exclaims five-year-old Simon incredulously in the first week of kindergarten. I was reminded of when the nurse told me “only 20 more minutes of pushing and the baby should be out,” during drugless labor. It felt like a lifetime and I had no clue how I would survive a minute longer more or less 20 minutes! This is how a typical kindergartner feels. They are nervous and scared about the many new faces, places, and expectations. They are sad missing play-time at home with you and a much shorter day with far fewer responsibilities. They feel guilty because they know they should be “big” and act “big” but deep inside, they want to snuggle back under the covers. Read the full article.

3. Parents as Servant Leaders

“It is high time the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service.”
– Albert Einstein

Most leaders acquire their power from the choice of their social group to elevate individuals to that level. However, parents, by the very nature of our roles, serve in a leadership position while we raise our children. A servant leader realizes that his or her ability to significantly influence others and achieve any vision comes from serving others. Understanding the qualities of a successful leader – that of a servant leader – can assist any parent in further refining his or her values and skills to better perform her role. Research on power demonstrates that the skills required to rise to leadership are empathy and social skills.1 However, interestingly, those are the very skills that become the most challenging to leaders once they have acquired power. So when we are parenting, we may have a greater challenge than in other roles with our ability to be empathetic and to demonstrate social intelligence. Read the full article.

4. Raising Kids Who Can Cope with Tough Times by Guest Writer and Expert, Janine Halloran

When you think of the word childhood, what comes to mind?

Perhaps you think of carefree times, playing games and giggles, stomping in puddles, scribbling crayons, or running on a playground.

But things aren’t always sunny and perfect in childhood. There are times when challenging events happen in a child’s life. Sometimes these events are small, like a favorite toy breaking, or having an argument with a friend. But sometimes they can be much bigger events, like a loved one dying or parents getting divorced.

As parents, we want to try to protect them from these experiences, and while it’s tempting to do, that wouldn’t be helpful. The truth is that kids will feel sad. Kids will feel frustrated. Kids will feel stressed. Kids will get mad. That’s part of life. Life isn’t always going to be perfect and fun all the time –  there will be storms that happen. Read the full article.

5. 50 Constructive Alternatives to Detention or Punishment

Ideas for Parents and Educators

“Are you okay, E?” I overheard a concerned classmate ask my son as he walked out of the school building yesterday at pick up time. “I’m okay.” he assured the friend. In my head, I was saying “Uh-oh!” bracing myself for the unknown challenge ahead. I ditched my errand-running plans and headed straight to the ice cream store to get provisions for our conversation hoping to channel the clarity of focus that only ice cream can bring. He relayed the story calmly. “Our class was coming back to our room from gym. Sarah (that’s what we’ll call her) was trying to push her way to the front. I was at the beginning of the line and she grabbed my arm and scraped her fingernails down it.” He extended his forearm and revealed two lines of broken skin, red and raw, from his elbow down to his wrist. After washing and treating it, I asked how he had responded and then, how the school had responded. E had said back to Sarah after the scratch “I have to tell the teacher.” And he did. “We were both sent to the principal’s office.” he said. Read the full article.

And A New Book!

Also in 2017, Jennifer Miller, author of CPCK, contributed to the book, Building Powerful Learning Environments from Schools to Communities by Arina Bokas. In both roles – as a parent and as an educator – it can be difficult to understand why there are not stronger partnerships between those three entities – families, schools and communities – who all impact the same children’s lives and care deeply about their learning. In theory, it sounds right. We should work together, communicate with one another and coordinate for a more powerful impact on the development of our children. But the reality of making that happen is quite different. “Feeling voiceless and powerless is likely to resonate with many parents who tried to advocate for their children in schools,” writes Arina Bokas. And for educators, we are often told what we have to do without consideration for our own professional expertise and wisdom. Teachers and administrators can shy away from parents because of accusations and attacks they’ve received in the past. And frequently, community members are unclear whether or not they are welcome in schools and if they are, what roles they can play. This book offers plenty of practical wisdom to help create more trusting, connected partnerships. Check out this excellent book! 

What topics do you want to explore in the coming year? Please comment and let me know!

Happy new year!

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