Chrstmas Spirit

Chrstmas Spirit
My wife and kids having a little holiday fun

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (They Don't Always "Get It")

It's a free for all Friday.  Thank you for joining me!!!  Last Friday, my blog idea literally fell from a tree (leaves).  This week, it was found in a much lower place.

A couple of days ago, I was lying face down on a cold soccer field attempting to collect myself and assess the damage.  My body was in a bit of shock.  I knew I had injured myself; but didn't know the extent. 

I was participating in a parents versus kids soccer game.  This was the Cameron's last practice of the season; so the game was a surprise to him.  As is common in soccer games, all the kids were surrounding the parent who had the ball.  I was waiting on the other side of the field when the ball was kicked to me.  I had quite a bit of field to cover; but it was me versus the 1st grade goalie and my eyes were wide. (HA HA)  I dribbled the ball unimpeded.  As I was about to take a shot at the goal, that's when the injury happened. According to the coach, I hit a bad spot on the field and my ankle gave out.

My foot swelled up quite a bit but I'll be fine.  The real story behind this blog happened after the injury. My son ran to me quickly.  He is a very empathetic child; so I didn't know how he would take the sight of his old man being down.  Unfortunately, I found out quickly.  He jumped on my back and attempted to ride me like a horse.  He just didn't "get it."

After practice, I limped back to the car.  Driving home, my foot throbbed.  I brought up the incident to Cameron saying it may have not been a good idea to jump on my back.  I received a surprising reaction; he laughed.  I wasn't upset but clearly; he still didn't get it.  Then, I asked if it would be a good idea for me to jump on his back if he were hurt and that's when the light bulb clicked. He meekly replied, "no."

The lesson I learned from this story is kids don't always know what we think they know.  This problem doesn't occur only with 6 year olds like Cameron either.  For example, how many children in middle school have tried smoking?  How many teens have driven dangerously on the highway?   How many times has your child done something so silly/dangerous; it left you angry and confused?

The key for a child to "get" any issue you are teaching is education.  Education has two components:
1.  You have taught the child "x."
2.  The child has "proven" he/she has learned the lesson. 

Here's a word to the wise.  Never believe a child has learned the lesson by merely asking, "Do you understand?"  For example, you should notice I didn't chastise Cameron for jumping on my back when I was in pain.  It would have been useless for me to holler at Cameron, "DON'T JUMP ON MY BACK, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" I would have received the proper response form Cameron; but it doesn't mean he would have been "educated."  I believe simply turning the scenario around on him was a much more effective strategy. 

When I was a teacher, "proving" the child learned the lesson may have been in the form of a test.  At home, there are numerous ways to tell whether a child really learned their lesson. Please be patient with your kids.  You will teach many lessons which won't be truly learned the first try. 

How do I know Cameron really "learned his lesson?"  The short answer is I'm not positive he did.  But his facial reaction when I turned the scenario around gave me a positive sign.  One more positive sign came the next morning.  With my foot swollen, I was limping significantly.  My routine on school days is to sit with him while he eats his breakfast.  When Cameron saw me, he approached, held out his hand and said, "Hey dad, let me help you to the table." His reaction to me was touching. 

Here's a quick assignment I want you to ponder.  Think of a time you were trying to teach your child an important lesson.  What strategy did you use and what were the signs to know whether the strategy was effective? 

I hope you have a beautiful weekend with your family.  Please check out this Monday's education blog.  I am going to piggyback off last Monday's blog (The Achievement Gap).  The blog will focus on how parents can continue to widen the gap over others who are not putting in the effort needed for the job.  It's easy and effective!!!  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (Motivation)

Hello to all!  I was on Facebook last week when a person's post caught my eye.  It basically questioned how to get their child motivated when it came to tests and projects in school.  She had tried ideas (that weren't listed) and "nothing worked." I will bet there are a lot of parents reading this who have had the same problem.  Today, I hope to piece together the motivation puzzle.  I can't provide all the specific answers because children are motivated by different things.  I hope to lay a framework that you can think about and use with your kids.

Here's my definition of internal motivation for kids.  Kids will do (x) because it's the right thing to do- not because their parents make them do it.

An example of internal motivation could be found in my backyard as a child.  I played basketball all the time.  No one ever made me do it.  I loved all aspects of the game.  Sometimes, I would watch basketball on TV by myself. Next, I would go outside and shoot at halftime; then watch the second half.  Months before winning the Knights of Columbus state free throw championship when I was 12, I practiced free throws for hours.  If I applied that same desire to my schoolwork, no Ivy League school would have turned me away.  Simply put, I never had the same motivation in the classroom.  

Here's a fact you need to know.  Most kids are internally motivated.  However, these motivations are not always aligned to the parent's motivations.   Exactly how often were you motivated to do something your parents didn't want you to do?  Never mind, that answer could take all day!

A concept I talk about in my book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures is called "buttons."  The basic premise is if I can push the right button, I make most people do almost anything.  This, of course, would include children.  Allow me to try this on you if you don't believe me.

Let's say I want you to do 10 jumping jacks in the next minute.  How many of you think I can motivate you to do it?  My first method may be to merely ask.  Will you please do 10 jumping jacks for me?  How many of you did it?  Come on, be honest.  I bet all of you did it, right?  No?  OK, I'll try again.

(In my loudest voice) DO 10 JUMPING JACKS FOR ME RIGHT NOW!!!  Did that work?  Did I scare you into doing them.  I am pretty intimidating, right?  Are any of you out of breath?  No?  OK, allow me one last try.

I would like you to do 10 jumping jacks in the next minute.  If you accomplish the goal, I will donate $1,000 to your favorite charity.  Now the situation has changed, hasn't it?  You probably wouldn't have considered doing jumping jacks before but what about now?  Have I hit your button yet?

In this hypothetical example, no one would have taken me seriously, until I mentioned charity.  You'll notice, of course, I didn't offer the money to you.  But most of us have a desire to help others.  When I tapped on that desire, I got your attention.  

Motivating kids to do projects and tests isn't hard providing you hit the right buttons.  I've worked with hundreds of children who have been through hell most of your kids will never know.  I can tell you as a fact that all of them had buttons.  When I pressed the right button, they would move mountains.  

I can also tell you that the more difficult a child was to teach behaviorally; the more buttons I would acquire on that child over time.  This was a key to any success I’ve ever had with children.

Finally, though there are many ways to motivate kids; one method really sticks out to me.  That method is the use of positive words.  I knew how to motivate children with many different methods.  Examples would be giving them something they wanted (for the desired action) or taking something they held dearly (if an action wasn’t to my satisfaction).  Regardless, positive words are my #1 tool only because I’ve never had a tool work better. 

I remember a boy once being restrained on the living room floor of St. Joseph Children’s Home by other house parents.  I had just walked in to start my shift.  He was shouting curse words and acting like a real a**.  I’d worked with him extensively on “behaving for other adults.”  He happened to look up at me and stopped his tirade.  I remember looking down at him angrily and hollered, “You know you could have done better!”  After that, I walked away because I was upset and didn’t want to say anymore.  After I turned and walked, I heard the boy sobbing.  That boy knew what I knew.  He could have done better and he failed.  Though my tone was loud, I was actually praising him for being smarter than what he was showing at that moment.  On a bright note, I will tell you he turned out to be one of the best kids I have had the honor of working with.

Now is the point where I will see whether I pushed your buttons. If you liked the content of this blog, please pass it along to other parents you feel would benefit and encourage them to pass it along as well.  If I didn’t do enough to press your buttons, don’t pass it along and allow me to try again Friday.  All the best to you and your families!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (The Achievement Gap)

For all my new readers, I have a general rule that must be followed.  If you like the content of this blog, please pass it along to parents you feel would benefit.  Off we go!

This is one of those controversial topics where people in power tread lightly.  Why is there an achievement gap?  What can be done to turn it around?  In the Louisville area, we have potential school board officials running who have all the answers. (Wink Wink)  Also, Spalding University has a new president who weighed in on this issue recently as well. No matter where you live in the country, I am sure this is a serious topic of conversation. 

Unfortunately, I can't give you all the answers.  There are books that have been written on the subject. One blog won't cover it.  Regardless, here are some things I couldn't tell you when I was a teacher but can share with you now.

First, there are differences in people.  We are not the same.  All of us would acknowledge some people can run faster than others.  There's no dispute some people can jump higher than others.  But when we get to the reasoning that some people are naturally smarter than others; that's when a problem sets in. 

Some people would blame the achievement gap on economics.  There may be some truth to this; but here's the problem I have.  Why were some of the poorest children I taught my most successful?  Never in any class were the children of the wealthiest families in my top 5.  Also, never were the children of the poorest families in my bottom 5.

Some people would blame the gap on the color of a person's skin.  I can't agree with that either.  When I was teaching at Portland Elementary, which is in a low income area, the top 3-4 students in my classroom each year were black.

Some people would blame it on school funding.  In my humble opinion, this is a complete falsehood.  Portland Elementary and Bates Elementary (the other Jefferson County school I taught) had fantastic materials.  As of 2005, the Department of Education estimated that over $10,000 were spent per child in the country.  To place that in perspective, St. Xavier and Trinity High School (in Louisville, Kentucky) cost roughly that amount to attend each year.   St. Xavier and Trinity are also two of the best high schools in the state which places 99% of graduates in college.   In my opinion, the best public high school in our area is duPont Manual. According to a recent article in the Courier Journal, it was determined 82% of their graduating seniors were college ready.  The worst schools in Louisville were around 4%. 

At the school where my child attends, the tuition is $4,200. An additional $400 is also required for book fees.  Other Catholic schools in Louisville are comparable.  It is a blue ribbon school which means it has been recognized as being in the top 10% of Catholic grade schools in the country.   If the national average in the public schools is over $10,000 as of 2005, you would think the Catholic schools should raise their tuition substantially in order to keep up.  Of course, this is simply not the case.       

My education blog last week on ratio's would not even completely answer the achievement gap.  Catholic and public schools have far too many students in their classroom to leave "no child left behind."  (Of course, the pun is intended).   

The only real answer I can give in regards to the achievement gap is this.  The solution to the problem has either been reading this blog on their phone or in front of a computer right now.  I mean literally RIGHT NOW.  The answer is you and it always has been.

When kids entered my classroom, I could tell immediately which parents worked with their kids.  They were bright, polite, and eager to learn.  The backgrounds of the children were meaningless as long as they had parents who cared.  This is why, in my opinion, the achievement gap will never close.  Good parents simply won't allow it.  If all the good parents would just lay down and quit, we would have a much better chance of solving the problem.  Granted, the national test scores would plummet; but the gap would be closed.

People who are much brighter than your humble blog writer will disagree profusely.  This may include people running for office and those who haven't been in a classroom.  They'll give you all the answers you want to hear. These tactics were in play when I entered teaching.  The only difference I can see is that some of the names have changed. Honestly, in 10 years, no matter who is elected to whatever school board or office, do you think the gap will significantly close?  If so, I'd love to make a healthy wager with you. 

There's no doubt I want to help close the achievement gap.  My suggestions may fall on deaf ears but at least I can say, I tried.  After all, you can't two step without a willing partner. 

1.  Bring back the neighborhood schools.  The amount of time children spend on buses could be spent on homework and meaningful after school activities. It would save millions of dollars as well if anyone is counting. Parents would have a much better opportunity to be involved if the schools were closer to their homes.   

2.  All teachers who have worked 10 years in a classroom and have a proven track record of success (as defined by their principal)  can have the opportunity to teach in a lower income neighborhood school.  This decision would be compensated by an additional $10,000 per year raise.  Of course, this would easily be paid because of the bus money no longer needed.  

3.  Students should take a basic skills test before going to kindergarten.  (Yes, I can hear the cries already).  If they do not pass it, they must sit out a year before entering kindergarten.  My oldest child only went to kindergarten because it was two days a week.  My youngest child will most likely be held out of formal schooling until age 6 no matter his skill set.  There is a huge difference between a 5 year old and a 6 year old emotionally and mentally speaking.  Holding out my younger child and having him compete with children who are 5 will be a huge advantage in favor of my child.

I know my ideas will not be implemented.  Principals from high performing schools would never agree to losing their best teachers.  Our teacher's union would most likely complain over the pay component as well.   Finally, there would have to be an admission by higher ups that their busing idea never has and never will work.  Ego may be the biggest obstacle in closing the achievement gap.

One last thought on this.  If you are one of the parents who work with your children educationally, shame on you.  Don't you see the problem you created?        

Shameless plug time:  The Wednesday blog will be a behavior issue we have faced or will face as parents.  The topic is how to motivate an unmotivated child.  Thanks so much for your time and I hope you will consider reading my blog again. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (Teachable Moments)

Good early morning to all!  Yesterday was very interesting to me for a couple of reasons.  The first is my blog idea for today literally came from the sky.  Once it hit me, I knew what I wanted to write about and I was excited.  The second reason it was interesting came after I looked at my calender.  Today, I am going on a field trip with Cameron to the zoo.  Though we've been to the zoo many times, I expect today to be different, in a good way, because we will be with his buddies.  I also realized my normal blog time would be taken up by the activity.  Therefore, I am writing this blog at 4:30am.  If you catch a typo or two, please forgive me.

Yesterday, I took a walk with Luke after speech therapy.  He loves these times with me because he's the star of the show.  I love to let him lead the way and see where we wind up. Many times this means I have to carry him home; but I digress.  Sometimes Luke stops so he can point things out to me such as a tree, squirrel, or the occasional airplane in the sky.  It's like he's my little tour guide of the subdivision where we live.  I love it!

It was on one of these stops where today's idea hit me.  I mean it really hit me because it was a falling leaf.  I stared at it for a second before I realized the many things I could do from a teaching angle.  A quick science lesson would be obvious for an older child than mine.  Luke is three years old so I decided to have him count some leaves on the ground.

Counting leaves is an example of a teachable moment.  As parents, we are surrounded by them every day regardless of the age of the child.  The trick is to recognize them and take advantage.  Last Monday, I blogged about ratios and how it affects a child's education.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.  With leaf counting, I was confronted by a teachable moment at a 1:1 ratio.  When parents take advantage of these moments, learning explodes over time. Let me state this in a more direct way.  When we take advantage of teachable moments other parents don't take advantage of; we give our children an educational "leg up." Being a former teacher, I can speak to the disparities of intelligence with children before they ever come into a classroom.  Though I don't want to go too far off topic with this blog, I will throw in the fact that the leaves were free.   

Here's two ideas with teachable moments for sports fans this weekend.  If your child is learning about estimation in math, have them estimate how many fans are at the game/event.  The results can be found in a newspaper or online.  If they are just beginning estimation, perhaps estimate how many points will be scored.  If you are at the game/event and they are working on money concepts in school, have the child count the money needed before going to the concession stand.

My final piece of advice is to not go too crazy with teachable moments.  Sometimes, we have to enjoy events with our children for the event itself; not just what we can learn.  Also, too many time outs from an event for teachable moments can lead to "awwww (mom or dad) here we go again."  Please remember, as written in last Monday's blog, I like quick hitting assignments.  If, for example, you are at a football game for three hours and you take three minutes or less for a teachable moment; odds are you are still going to have a ton of fun.

Check back in this Monday for an education blog.  Also, please remember to pass along this blog to parents you feel would benefit.  I write these blogs to help teach what I have learned.  There are lots of people who could use a helping hand and would appreciate the advice.  Have a terrific weekend!      

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (Underlying problems)

As I discussed last week, I wanted to save the Wednesday blog for behavior issues.  St. Joseph Children's Home had many behavior issues with children.  There were certain house parents who did a great job with these children and others who struggled.  I worked hard to learn from the best.

One of the tricks to dealing with misbehavior is to find and correct as many underlying problems as possible.  When this is accomplished , a parent will either reduce the size and scope of the problem or eliminate it. 

Here's an example of what not to do.  I was recently in a school where a preschooler acted enraged.  This child was probably 3-4 years old.  Preschoolers wait in the main hallway before being sent to their classrooms as a group.  Not only was he hollering at the top of his voice, he was stomping his feet, and acted defiantly towards adults.  

I don't know what the underlying problem was but he wasn't my focus.  I was watching the adults to see how they would handle the situation.  At first, they ignored it,  This strategy sometimes works depending on the child.  I've used it when I thought it would be the best option.  As time went by though, the strategy clearly wasn't working.  It could have been due to the surrounding children because he had an audience. I have to admit I was really intrigued at this point.

When the group was sent to their class, the misbehaving boy was left behind with one adult.  The boy was still clearly angry.  It was obvious there was a real problem.  What I saw though made me cringe.  The adult, left behind to supervise the boy, tried to talk with him.  He hollered something I couldn't quite understand and the adult mocked him!  I couldn't believe it.  Seconds later, she pulled out her phone and started texting while the boy was still upset.  It wasn't my place to step in but there's no chance I would have wanted that lady around either of my children if they were ever upset.

Finding the underlying problem behind an undesired behavior is a real key.  Here's an example.  Let's say your child doesn't want to do their homework.  They throw fits and make the time unpleasant for everyone.  My question would be why is the homework such a big deal?  Homework should be designed to reinforce what is taught during the school day (especially in the early grades).

Could it be the kid is merely hungry?  After all, he/she hasn't had a bite to eat since lunch.  The easy solution is to give a snack that takes no more than 15 minutes to eat; then get to work.  Could it be the child is lazy or tired?  That's no problem.  Let the child lay down 1/2 hour before the homework begins.  This could be on a couch or a bed.  I'll caution you though.  The television shouldn't be turned on at this time.  Could it be the child is testing you?  Maybe if they holler enough, you eventually sit down and give them attention while they are doing their work.  Complaining serves the purpose of receiving quality time with you.  On a side note, no matter how ridiculous the solution may be to you, do what it takes to solve the homework problem.

There are a lot of possible solutions to the homework dilemma.  Your job as the parent is to find the solution.  When you do, homework time will run much smoother. 

Children have reasons for acting out.  If your response is to yell, hit, or text when they are acting out, the problem is usually not being solved.  I believe children want to be happy even when they have to do things (like homework) they don't like doing. 

Because my goal for this blog is to have you think, here's a brief assignment.  Think about a time your child really misbehaved.  Now ask yourself this question.  Was there an underlying problem that, if dealt with properly, could have reduced or eliminated the misbehavior?  I hope you find an answer you can place in your parenting tool bag and use if the misbehavior ever happens again.

As always, I wish you the best. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (Changing the Ratio in Education)

Before I get started with the education topic of the day, I wanted to take another moment to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this blog.  When I first started, I had a goal of having 100 people read my blog in a month.  The fact is in the first week I have had 159 people read it.  I understand this could mean my mom hit the site 158 times and my wife hit it once.  (Ha Ha) Seriously, when people take time out of their day to read what I have to say, it is touching.  If you like what you are reading, please direct other parents to this blog.  The education in our state and country are not improving.  I promise I will do my part to help. 

For today's topic, I want to take a broad view of education and slowly knock it down to the nuts and bolts in our homes.  As a former teacher, I've seen how things work. 

Most classrooms are far too big to have the optimal amount of education taking place.  In my classrooms, I would average 24 kids.  I would also be given the option of taking an extra child or two for additional pay.  That created a problem.  Do I take the money and have less time per child or do I refuse the extra children to focus more on who I have?  Regrettably, I always took the money.  I did it to provide for my family.  I justified it in thinking "what's two more kids?"  Looking back on it, two more kids was a big deal.  It simply meant I could not provide as much individual attention to the children already in the classroom.

The reason this story matters is simple.  I am aware of a a small handful of schools that have under 24 children in a classroom.  Kentucky Country Day and Highland Latin come to mind.  Even when you include teacher assistants, the adult to child ratio are improved but not to the level to get the most out of your child. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am not anti-school.  My son Cameron goes to a Catholic school and he is doing a great job.  Regardless, "doing a great job" and doing his best are not the same thing.  He is doing a great job in school because the work is too easy.  I am not upset at all.  In fact, I counted on it.  I knew Cameron would be a challenge to teach.  There are a couple of reasons Cameron doesn't get bored to tears.  The first is he is just like his mom- very social.  He loves the atmosphere of school and the new friends he has made.  The second reason is there are areas of education I didn't teach at home.  Art, Computer, and Spanish are three examples.    

Let's get to how this applies to your home and what you can do.  My contention is you have to shift the ratios in the favor of the child.  What you will find is when your child is working with you one on one, they will pick up material much quicker over time. 

The reason Cameron is so bright is pretty simple.  In fact, it is basic math.  Most classrooms have a high student teacher ratio as I have already said.  But what is the teacher student ratio when Cameron comes home?  Of course, it is 1:1.  As parents, we are all teachers and we decide on the curriculum every day.  Most of us just don't think about it in those terms.  

When Cameron was three, I left the teaching profession to focus on my own family.  Part of that focus centered on education.  When I started really working with him, I did the same things many of you do.  We went to the zoo, we colored, and we read books.  That was a great start.  The thing is though the teaching bug never left me even when I left the profession.  One of my first breakout ideas happened at Wal-Greens of all places.  I saw they had some educational books and I wondered if Cameron would enjoy the activities.

I structured the lessons from this book (which cost me $2.95) similar to basic lesson plans.  There was a time and place to do the fun lessons.  Cameron was introduced to "daddy school."  Once the book was completed, we would start to look for fun books together.  This is a practice I implement to this day.  For example, one of his latest assignments was learning basic multiplication.  I taught the him how to do it in less than 10 minutes.  He does not have his facts memorized but that was never the goal.  If you asked him 4x4, he can figure it out quickly.  My teaching skills weren't the reason the skill happened quickly.  The book laid it all out.  It is called Master Skills (3rd grade edition) for the grand price of $6.95.  On a side note, it is aligned to state and national standards. Most materials for Cameron are purchased at Barnes and Nobles.  They have the best materials in my opinion. 

To be at this high level didn't happen overnight.  My original goal was to work with Cameron on "daddy school" about 15 minutes a day.  If you like my ideas, this is where I would start.  Because I have built his mental strength over time, he can work about 45 minutes but we seldom work that long. I have no problem cutting him off mid assignment if he looks tired or is not focused.  I don't make a big deal over it either.  If he's tired, I stop and continue the assignment the next day. 

I like quick hitting assignments.  Get in, get out, and move on.  This only works though if you are working at the child's level- not the grade level.  Although this could be one in the the same, that's not always the case.  When choosing a book, let the child see it first.  There's no shame in buying a book slightly lower than the child's abilities to build confidence.  Set goals when certain assignments are completed to have a day off from schooling with you to get ice cream. Also, don't do an assignment because it's the next page in the book.  Feel free to skip assignments that are too difficult or too easy. 

The real kicker in accelerating your child is this.  Schooling doesn't end when the regular school isn't in attendance.  Cameron and I still work on snow days, certain holidays, and the summer.  We do not work on the weekends.  I wouldn't be opposed to a Saturday morning assignment but I feel he has earned that time off.  Working when others are not is where you will get your real edge.  Most parents won't do this.  Again, I can't stress enough that it has to be quick assignments with rewards somewhere in the not too distant future. 

I truly hope this helps.  If you have more specific questions I haven't addressed, you are free to post comments.  All the best in your academic pursuits!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (Structure of the Blog)

Good afternoon to all.  Just like the song in Smokey and the Bandit, "I've Got a Long Way to Go and a Short Time to Get There"  so off I go.

First, for everyone who has read this blog, your time is very appreciated.  You could be doing a million other things.  Thanks for spending it with me.

Second, because I was a former teacher, I feel the need for structure with this blog.  Many ideas have scrambled through my mind but here's how it stands now.  I want to blog as consistently as possible on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Monday is going to be saved for education issues.  This could mean what is going on in the community, nationwide, or in my home.  As a first grader, Cameron has been tested in the top 1% in the nation.  He did it on the ITBS test (more commonly referred to as the Iowa test) and he repeated the success on his Accelerated Reader exam.  He can read roughly on a 4th grade level.  I am not here to brag though.  What I'd like to do is educate you on how I did it and what I am doing to continue the momentum.

Also, Luke is three and has been diagnosed with a speech delay.  He had fluid in his ears for months which never got infected.  The problem is now resolved and Luke is in full swing with his education.  I am willing to walk you through how I am educating him.  I have the utmost confidence he will be a very strong student. If you copy what I am doing, he may have more competition down the line because of your child; but what I am hoping for is a smarter society.   Kentucky is consistently one of the 10 dumbest states in the union.  There are many reasons for it.  I doubt if I could cut through the red tape of the public schools if I attacked it with a chainsaw.  What I can do is show you how to have a nationally ranked child despite where he/she attends.

Wednesday blogs are going to be saved for discipline.  There is a severe shortage of it in homes.  I developed my discipline skills at St. Joseph's Children's Home.  By the time I became a teacher, I laughed at my classrooms because of their utter inability to misbehave.  No, I am not joking.  I told several students that until they learned how to misbehave, they should take a seat at their desk.  All but one did in 7 1/2 years of teaching. She was on such heavy medication, she couldn't see straight; let alone learn anything.  I really felt sorry for her.  At the end of the year, she was, in essence, expelled and placed in a "special school."  My discipline measures are really spelled out in my book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  Even if you never read the book, I can give you enough tips to really help your situation.

Friday's blog is going to be more of a free for all.  I may get into silly issues with my own kids, give shout outs to good parents, or go where ever my parental winds are blowing. 

Because today is Friday, my parental winds are leading to spending time outside with my boys.  Cameron and I are going to a football game tonight.  Hopefully, we will be working on counting by 7's (as in touchdowns).  Tomorrow, I think the family is going to a pumpkin patch.  Lauren brought it up but I wasn't listening as well as I should.  That's why this is a parenting blog and not a marital blog (Ha Ha).  The UK- South Carolina game is being played at 6:00pm tomorrow which is great for Cameron and his bedtime.  If I'm feeling generous, he may even get a special night.  That means going to bed after 8:00pm.  It will be a last minute decision.  It may even hinge on the score of the game.

Have a super weekend!  I know there are household projects to be accomplished but please take some time to spend with your kids.  They grow up so fast and the dirt will always be on the windows when you get around to it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (Introducing the Blog)

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures is a parenting book.  It encompasses the lessons learned from my adult life along with my childhood on ways to work with children and pitfalls to avoid.  I have been very fortunate to have worked with incredible people for years.  I have studied how they dealt with the simplest to more complex situations.  

Although we love our children, there are certain times they drive us crazy.  Maybe a child misbehaves at home or at school.  It could be they are not relating well to siblings or classmates.  Maybe they behave around mom but they act like a mess around their father.  Behavior is one of many issues covered in various parts of the book.  After working with over 400 hundred children at St. Joseph's Children's Home and as an elementary classroom teacher, I can tell you there are reasons children act the way they do.  As a parent, these reasons can be found and usually corrected.

The main idea I want to get across in this blog and my book is for you to think about parenting.  Think about what you are doing right.  It's important to know your strengths.  Think about where you are weak and how you can improve.  There's little doubt that we won't agree on every single parenting issue.  That's perfectly fine.  What may happen though is if there's an area you are not as strong,  I may be able to help.

It's in my nature to study and fix little problems.  When I was a teenager, guys and girls would consistently ask me about boyfriend/girlfriend issues.  It was funny because I didn't have a girlfriend most of the time.  Apparently, I gave good advice because they always came back.  That may have been a factor in why I majored in Psychology and Communications at Bellarmine University.  I've joked for years they taught me how to think and talk (and now write).

Now and then, people ask for my parenting advice as well.  It started when I was teaching. Parents had no idea why their children were doing well in school and being a trouble-maker at home.  Using my leverage as a teacher, I actually worked with kids on how to be better "students" at home.  Although I am a stay at home dad, Lauren will occasionally throw parenting stories my way to see how I would handle the situations.  Through the telephone and email, there are certain parents I still occasionally counsel.  

My blog and book are not meant to put your parenting skills down.  Instead, they are meant to be easy reads.  They will hopefully coach you through quotes, anecdotes, and assignments.  There are stories personally and professionally in the book that will make you laugh, cry, shake your head in disbelief, and give you hope. 

Parenting and working with children are my main strengths in life.  Though I've tried other things, I have never found the same satisfaction as when I watched a child get adopted and know that I was part of the reason it happened.  I also received great joy in the classroom turning a "D" student to a "B" student.  True happiness for me is watching my children Cameron and Luke grow and succeed and know I was a factor.

Lauren encouraged me non-stop while writing the book and that kept me going.  She deserves a lot of credit.  Though I have decided to work with parents much more actively and openly through the blog and book, I am still a full time parent; therefore very busy.  I often joke when Lauren comes home from work, instead of having two children, I now have three.  I will try my best to get to questions and comments as needed but please be patient. 

I want to thank everyone who will decide to give this blog and the book the wings they need to fly.  Without you, it couldn't exist. I write in the book that it doesn't do any good for the book to sit on a shelf.  When you are finished and if you liked what you read, give it to someone in need or donate it to a local library.  We need more good parents like you who are actively looking to get better at what they do.  

There will be more details on the book in the days to come.  For now, take care and when you see your kids, no matter what kind of day they had, give them a big hug.  You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome to Life (Expect the Unexpected)

Dear readers,

Please understand it's my first blog post ever.  I have just written a book and I want to get everything right.    Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures took a year to write and 14 years to garner the knowledge to write it.  I am anxious, nervous, and a bit scared.  What if no one reads this blog?  Worse yet, what if they read it but don't like it?

With all these feelings inside me, I decide to let go and take a chance.  Hopefully, people will like my blog and my book.  Maybe I can make a difference in the lives of parents.  Maybe I can explain parenting situations in a way that clicks with readers.  OK, I am ready!

Uh-oh!  Luke just woke up from his nap and I have to be a parent.  I can't type much longer so here's a lesson for all parents.  Parenting (like this blog) isn't going to go the way you expect at all times.  We, as parents, have to adapt and move forward.  I am ready to move forward with Luke.  I hope you keep an open mind when reading the book and my blog.  We aren't always going to agree on how to parent.  That's great!  I hope to help by making you think about your parenting.  You may decide you are on the right path.  You may also decide there are areas you need some assistance.  Take care and be good to your kids.  They may be planning your retirement home one day.