Transgress Stress

 

 

I went to the mall last weekend and looked at these products. They were not discounted, so I didn’t buy them.

Today, one of my 5th grade students presented me with them! Funny how that happens!  In big letters, they say “Stress Relief.” As we near the end of the school year, stress relief is key. He is so thoughtful!

I wrote an email to his mother to thank her. She emailed me back:

“As for the gift, that was all “M.”* He used his money and it was his idea this year.”

He used his money! He’s in 5th grade and earns money by working for a hockey organization.  What an amazing kid.

Teaching kids like him gives me so much hope and optimism for the future.  Our kids are hard-working, thoughtful, intelligent, and just good to the core. They make me feel like everything is going to be OK.

I’m grateful to be a teacher and work with amazing kids each day.

Helicopter? – No! Says Eric Hoffer*

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Helicopter parent

noun

informal
  1. a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.

Constantly hovering over children while they study, work, and do sports, etc. has been shown to “increase anxiety, depression and can lead to academic difficulties” (Psychology Today).

Effective parenting, is, in fact, nurturing your child to become independent!

Psychology Today offers these guidelines (abbreviated):

-Listen to your child, rather than imposing your goals and wishes on him or her. Listening to your child encourages independent thought and critical thinking. It helps you avoid a common downfall of helicopter parents: imposing your values on your child.
-Don’t manage your child’s relationships or communications for him or her.
-Don’t try to help your child escape consequences for his or her actions, unless you believe those consequences are unfair or life-altering. It’s fine to hire your child a lawyer if he or she is in legal trouble, or to intervene with a bullying teacher. But don’t try to get your kid out of detention or berate another parent who talks to your child about problematic behavior.
-Don’t raise your child to expect treatment that is different from, or better than, the treatment other children receive. Your child shouldn’t expect to get something they don’t deserve or didn’t earn.
-Encourage your children to solve their own problems by asking them to contemplate potential solutions.

-Don’t do your child’s work for them, or keep track of deadlines for them. Even school-aged children can learn to remember test dates and classroom projects. By middle school, your child should be managing their schoolwork largely on their own, with only as-needed help.

-Support your child’s teacher, and encourage your child to respect the teacher’s opinions.
-Allow your child to face natural consequences for their actions. Don’t allow a child to stay home sick just because she or he didn’t timely complete a school project.

 

*Eric Hoffer was a great American thinker and he never actually said anything about helicoptering parenting. It just rhymes nicely.

Just Try…and Then Let It Go

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It’s that time of year again…when students who want to vye for a Student Council Officer position run their campaigns: create posters, prepare speeches, record them and hope for the best.

As I recorded several children giving their speeches, I was touched by their earnestness and jitters. It’s impossible for all who run to win, yet they are all – each of them – winners.

If there’s one thing I think we don’t teach our children enough (at home or school) is that it’s OK to try, to take a risk and not reach our goal. That it doesn’t mean we’re failures or that we ought to be ashamed.

It might sound like common sense to you.

Yet the words “loser” and “ashamed” are so pervasive in our culture. And “risktaker” denotes a type of reckless stunt person.

Risk-taking is the only way we grow, and it often includes some degree of pain.

 

 

I’m Glad I Asked

He came in the second day without his backpack.  I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and sigh. How can a 5th grader forget his backpack? Didn’t he feel like something was missing? 

Instead,  I asked him to walk me through his morning. Maybe I could help him.

“I pack my things and walk to the garage.  I put my backpack down and get my little sister.  Then I strap her into her car seat. I guess I forgot to get my backpack. ”

My irritation became empathy and respect. 

This illustrates why judging others can be harmful – to others and ourselves. We each have our own cross to bear.

Clean Up!

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A group of Taiwanese elementary school students came to visit our school today. They wanted to play music for us and see how Americans learn in school.  Because our students learn some Mandarin, they were able to communicate – a  little bit – with each other. It was a wonderful cultural exchange.

One thing we learned is that these Taiwanese students dedicate some time in their week – every week- to clean their school!

Other schools clean up after themselves too. Here is an article about Japanese schools that dedicate time to housekeeping.

“The practice, which starts when students are in first grade and continues right through high school, involves floor dusting, furniture moving and cleaning the hallways.”

Mic.com

The rationale makes sense: if students are personally obligated to keeping their school clean, they will treat it with more respect all day, every day.

I wish our public schools did this. I see students scuff walls with their shoes and our custodians complain that students urinate on the floors on purpose!

“Not Knowing” Is OK

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I gave my 5th graders a writing assignment today. I already knew what they’d say after our poetry lesson and the directions. “I don’t know what to write about!”

Literally, I had to turn away ten students from my desk. They are so frightened to face a blank piece of paper and not know “the answer” immediately. They wanted me to tell them what to write.

I found myself saying, “It’s OK to sit in anguish.” I was joking, of course, what I meant was,

“It’s OK to sit without knowing.”

You don’t know what will happen tomorrow.. You don’t know what you’ll be when you grown up. You don’t know who you will marry (or if you will)!

So sit with not knowing. Be quiet and still. Let it come to you.