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Social & emotional

No more Pooh?

Many classics of children's literature involve animals that behave like people. I've certainly likened several two-legged people I know to Eeyore. I often think like the Cat in the Hat on a dull, rainy day, looking for good, clean, indoor mischief. And in my house, Farmer Duck became a metaphor for unappreciated hard work.

Helping kids communicate emotions through picture books

Even the youngest child communicates her needs and feelings. Just ask a parent. They understand the difference in their infant's cries; some say hurt, hungry, uncomfortable, and on occasion just plain angry. Let's face it; all children come with their own unique temperament and they learn to express how they're feeling one way or another.

Overcoming the odds

Everyone knows the story of how Helen Keller's tenacity (and the help of a special teacher) overcame her disabilities. Most know that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the nation during depression and war, had polio. Blindness hasn't stopped Stevie Wonder from topping pop music charts nor did it prevent Dr. Katherine Schnieder from obtaining a Ph.D. to become a noted psychologist.

Each of these people is celebrated for what they could do and have done not for a disability.

Cel-e-brate test times -- C'mon!

Yes, the old Kool and the Gang song rings true — even for state testing! One of the things I feel very successful about as an upper grade teacher is my ability to kill test anxiety! Even though this doesn't have too much to do with Common Core tactics and struggles, I find that anything that lightens the testing mood always helps every classroom!

How disruptive is a disruptive child?

As teachers, we know that a disruptive child can change a classroom environment. When a child is acting out, the teacher has to spend time redirecting that child, and then refocus the lesson for all students. Over the course of a day, interruptions from a disruptive child (i.e., a child with low self-regulation skills) really wear on a teacher and students. But does it have lasting effects on that child's learning? How about the learning of other students in the class?

Back to school with a question about ADHD

Happy back to school time for all you teachers, Moms and Dads! If you're reading my blog for the first time, welcome! I blog weekly-ish about all sorts of things related to reading, writing, parenting, teaching, volunteering, and more. This is a "no teacher bashing, no parent bashing" zone created with the recognition that we all find our own path in a way that works for us. Along the way I'll share with you information from current and classic research on teaching, parenting, schools, and more.

Social skills for school

My friend Karen has a 4-year old daughter with a September birthday. Karen is still trying to decide whether to send Sophie to kindergarten this fall, so she decided to enroll Sophie in our school's summer kindergarten camp. K camp is a 5-day morning experience designed to acclimate the kids to school and give the kindergarten teachers a chance to meet the kids, do some very preliminary assessments, and start thinking that class placements for the fall.

Third grade again?

If you've been following the news, you may have read about proposed state legislation (in Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee) that would make students repeat third grade if they can't pass the state reading exams.

Preschools need a marketing campaign

I don't read scary books, because they stay with me for far too long. But today by accident I read something really scary in The New York Times, called Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten.

How to read a report card

In a typical school year, report cards come home every nine weeks or so. The purpose of report cards is to communicate about a child's progress across subject areas. Most report cards also include a Work Habits, Social Skills, or similar section.

Some kids, especially those having difficulty in school, dread report card time. Here are some suggestions for making report card time a little less scary and a little more productive.

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"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney