Category Archives: Parenting

Want to Get Smarter? Be More Childlike.

Interesting piece on NPR this morning in which Shankra Vedantam reviews some of the recent research in neuroscience.

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Making Sense of Steubenville

As educators, what are we to make of the ongoing tragedy in Steubenville, Ohio – a community in which one teenage girl was raped and publicly humiliated, two teenage boys are being shipped off to juvenile detention, and two other teenage girls are now under arrest after threatening to beat and kill the victim?

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Open House Do’s and Don’ts

It’s that time of year again: when parents across the country — but particularly parents in major American cities — prepare to schedule a flurry of open houses in a frantic search for the best school for their child.

It happened to me a year ago; between January and March I visited more than 20 schools in search of the best place for my 3-year-old. Even though I’ve been working in schools my whole adult life, it was a daunting, disorienting experience. I can only imagine what it feels like for parents who haven’t stepped foot in a school since their own high school graduation.

To help ease the anxiety of my fellow parents, here are a few essential rules of the road: three questions to ask, and three things to look for.

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The Empathy Formula

For over a year now, I’ve been working with a remarkable group of people at Ashoka who believe empathy is the foundational skill we need in order to become effective changemakers in modern society — and who are bold (quixotic?) enough to envision a world in which one day, every child learns to master it as readily as s/he masters the ability to read and write.

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Are Parent Trigger Laws a Good Idea?

It’s hard not to feel excited for the group of parents who successfully took over their California community’s school, and who now are dreaming of bigger things. “Our children will now get the education they deserve,” said Doreen Diaz, whose daughter attends Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto. “We are on the way to making a quality school for them, and there’s no way we will back down.”

It’s equally hard to feel confident that this story will have the ending Ms. Diaz and others envision.

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Story Time

The other night, at a friend’s house for an early evening barbeque, I tried and failed repeatedly to get my 3-year-old son to eat his dinner.

It didn’t matter that the other kids at the table were eating. It didn’t matter that these were hot dogs we were talking about. And it definitely didn’t matter whether I pleaded or demanded that Leo fill his belly. He was, quite simply, not having it. And there was nothing I could do to change his mind.

Sensing my exasperation, my friend Jeremy leaned over and whispered: “Watch this.”

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Kid Whisperers

In theory, Buck is a documentary about horses, and a cinematic profile of the laconic cowboy who has learned to speak their silent animal language.

In fact, Buck is a film about the invisible line that connects being to being, and the ways that line can serve as either a tether or a bridge.

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Hey Parents – It’s Time to Stop Playing Favorites

The other night over dinner, hours after my mother-in-law had returned home to New York, I casually asked my son Leo: “What was your favorite part of the weekend?”

As I watched him stare blankly back at me, struggling to find an answer, I found myself wishing I could have a parental do-over. Why do we ask children this question so often? Would it make a difference if we asked it a different way?

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Vive La France?

Yesterday was one of those days every parent dreads.

My 2.5 year-old son, Leo, had decided to make dinner a histrionic struggle for power. My energy reserves were at historic lows. And my larger visions of effective parenting had lost out to my smaller need to merely give in to Leo’s irrational demands, make it to bedtime – and live to see a new day.

Regularly, as parents, we’re forced to make choices about how we respond to the words and actions of our kids. Ideally, those choices are always guided by a clear frame for determining what our children need to become healthy and happy human beings. But what if we don’t have a clear frame – or, worse still, what if our frame for parenting has us focusing on the wrong recipe for success?

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