All posts tagged thinking kids

Goal of a Successful School Year

educationDear Parents,

If you’re feeling like the “worst end of school year mom ever”  (we know she’s not!) because you’ve stepped out of the way- giving your child ownership of the past school year- (allowing him to make a mess of his reading log or her  immaculate attendance record or you’ve refrained from “saving” your child by delivering forgotten lunches,  hats and unsigned agendas), well, CONGRATULATIONS!

The school year is coming to an end and we thought we’d rewind to some REAL school related moments that illustrate how independence, progress and confidence are developed in the quiet moments of: trial and error, choice and discovery, slow, realistic skill building and the mastery of small, daily tasks.

The goal with our children is not to cross the school year “finish line” without mistakes or messes. Our goal is to reflect and say:

We learned. We tried. We made mistakes. We will do this or that differently next time. OR say, this worked and we’re sticking with it.

So, tip of the hat to the “worst end of school year mom” for letting it go and of course, to all of you!

Enjoy these little stories that show what real success looks like, straight from our anecdotes & facebook wall posts. Note: these are just random snippets- there are thousands more so please tell us!

Vicki & Team

Thinking Kids > Zombie Kids

thinking kids can do for themselvesWe’ve all encountered a zombie kid—you know, that do-as-you’re-told fellow with textbook manners, neat clothing, exquisite restraint, sticky sweet personality with entirely nothing to say for himself.

Sure, he’s compliant, he’ll follow orders, never talk back but he’s definitely not learning to challenge the world around him. Of course, it’s not his fault, he’s been trained to be a “great” kid (and yes, we all want great kids) but there’s something missing in this child’s life:

the ability to think, to choose and to do for himself.

Bottom line? A zombie kid will do as he’s told. At first thought, that seems great! Why encourage your child to think for himself (we already know how messy thinking kids can be) when you already know what’s best?

Here’s why: Because, eventually, that little zombie will have to either make his own choice, or go along with the crowd and although this may not be concerning when you’re living with a 2, 5, or 7 year old, it can be damn alarming when you’re living with a 13 year old.

Raising a thinking child takes effort and when you consider the alternative, it’s worth doing whatever it takes to ensure your child is navigating their own life according to their values, their preferences and their interests.

In other words a kid who practices making choices when they are little, will be strong enough to make smart, thoughtful, and skillful choices later. They will also know how to take responsibility for those choices, good, bad, or indifferent. And when amends are in order they’ll be willing to make them.

So, the next time your child is willing to make a choice around clothing, shoes, food, baseball, piano lessons, ballet, or anything else for that matter, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a chance for me to let my child choose?” Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is worth a moment of reflection.

How to Raise Independent Children

thinking-kids-messyParents are so immersed in the day-to-day challenge of juggling work, family and kids – they can (often unknowingly) find themselves doing great disservice to their children in an honest attempt to simply make things easier and more efficient – for everyone. While this might be easier in the moment, it is undeniably detrimental to the emotional health of our children – not to mention the relationship we are building with them.

If we want to raise independent children – thinking kids- who are resilient decision-makers, we must:

  • provide them with abundant opportunities to practice making decisions
  • allow them to make mistakes
  • step back and let them solve problems
  • recognize progress, celebrate success

If we want to raise independent children – thinking kids- who have a strong sense of belonging within the family and a deep sense of self worth out in the world, we must:

  • maintain an environment that is respectful and inclusive
  • trust children as they learn how to manage their lives
  • invite them to be part of the entire process- from planning to practice to celebration to discovery

If we want to raise independent children – thinking kids- who learn through challenges- then we cannot:

  • micro-manage every aspect of their life – after all, kids learn by experience
  • decide what’s best for them all the time
  • save them from all heartache, discomfort and embarrassment
  • force, steer, beg and coerce them into compliance
  • tie our value (as parents) to the decisions our children make (in otherwords, we cannot make parenting decisions that are rooted in how we look and have nothing to do with our children at all! Example: If he doesn’t do the homework, the teacher thinks I don’t care. Therefore, I nag, remind, lecture and put it in his backpack for him.)

Share your thinking kid stories on our facebook wall!

Raising a Thinking Child

thinking-kidsWhen my child was in the 2nd grade, and her teacher asked me why I didn’t sign her “homework” notebook, I told her it was because I was raising a “thinking” child.

It’s the same reason I didn’t:

  • Go through my kids backpacks every day
  • Pick out my child’s clothes
  • Decide if they would bring lunch or buy lunch
  • Make their lunch if they decided to bring it
  • Sit in the classroom and “observe”
  • Make a special trip to school to drop off a forgotten instrument, pair of cleats or science project
  • Talk to the teacher about my child’s “performance” without my child present
  • And 100 other decisions I made about my role in my child’s educational experience

I believed my primary job was to prepare my kids to leave home at 18 with the confidence necessary to make hundreds of decisions each day, the ability to overcome whatever challenge or obstacle they encounter and to do so with a sense of courage, curiosity and enthusiasm. That is how I defined my job as a mother. I made that decision when my first child came home from Kindergarten with a list of “expectations” the teacher had of me.

Truth be told, when I sat down with my children’s teachers and explained my philosophy, they were, for the most part, supportive. So I have nothing to complain about.

But recently, some of my closest and smartest friends have been struggling with balancing their decision to raise thinking kids and with the school expectations that parents play an “active” role in their child’s educational experience.

Here are a few tips on how to balance your decision to raise thinking kids (who are often, late, messy and leave their stuff behind in the car) with the schools request for over-involved parents.

1. Talk to the teacher. Yes, I know it can be scary, but most teachers I know really do love kids, want to work with parents AND are often times so overwhelmed with “stuff” they have to do, that their warm and caring side gets covered up. I encourage every parent to talk with their child’s teacher at the beginning of the year if possible, when they are fresh and rested and exited and they are open to creating an exceptional educational experience for your child. And if it’s March when you’re ready to have that conversation with the teacher, do it anyway.

2. Have your child present at the meeting so you set the tone for the year and the teacher knows that your child is part of this important conversation and that they will take responsibility for the decisions they make. This helps establish a logical balance of power between all the parties. If the teacher deals with homework that isn’t turned in by having kids stay after for an hour, you can smile and support the teacher from the get go. Imagine how far this goes in establishing a respectful and open relationship. One, by the way, your child is watching and will begin to emulate over time.

3. Decide if you will sign homework, reading, math or science books and then be honest with the teacher about who will be doing the signing. My children signed every piece of paper that ever came home that required a parent’s signature. If they were struggling in math, I wanted them to tell me, not a piece of paper.

4. Decide if there are instances when you would be willing to make a special trip to school to bring an item to your child and what those instances are so everyone is clear from the beginning. This goes a long way in creating consistency as well as allowing everyone to support each other in the process of raising thinking kids.

5. Decide if you will be using the “Portal” or online options or if you will get your information directly from your child; and then let your teacher know. Here is an example of just how awful this entire Portal thing can be.

“My niece’s middle school in (state shall remain anonymous) contacted her mother and scolded her for not checking her daughter’s school portal info often enough. They said if she didn’t check the portal at least once a week, her daughter would get points off her final grade. Her daughter is a straight A student.”

–Scary isn’t it?

6. Describe for the teacher your goals in raising a thinking child and what you are willing to do to remain true to your decision. Let them know that you want to work collaboratively with them and your intent is not to make life difficult for them. And in turn, you understand that they won’t do anything to damage the relationship you are trying to build with your child by insisting that you “make” your child do their homework and turn it in on time. Unless of course, you are both going to college with said child, in which case, have at it.

As the mother of 5, it seems to me that raising a “thinking” child in the 21st century, is nothing less than a requirement for every parent, teacher, coach or anyone else working with kids. But hey, that’s just me.