Happy Grandparent’s Day!

Did you and your family know that today is National Grandparent’s Day?  Have you celebrated the grandparents in your lives today?

If you missed the day, make it Grandparent’s weekend.  Spend time tomorrow connecting with grandparents or older adults in the community and showing them some love.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Alice Walker

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday offers poetry and quotes from Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker.  Enjoy.
Be Nobody’s Darling

Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.
Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.
Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
(Uncool)
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous
Fools.

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave hurt words
They said.

But be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.

Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.

 

People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they are willing to remain actually fools.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Fun Poems For the Little Ones

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday brings you a few fun poems to read to share with your younger sons. Those of you who have Pizza Nights will especially enjoy “A Pizza The Size of the Sun”, where Jack Prelutsky imagines the best pizza ever. Ogden Nash tells the story of “Isabel”, a young lady who is not to be tangled with. And Langston Hughes explains “The Blues” to the youngest set. Enjoy.

A Pizza the Size of the Sun

I’m making a pizza the size of the sun,
a pizza that’s sure to weigh more than a ton,
a pizza too massive to pick up and toss,
a pizza resplendent with oceans of sauce.

I’m topping my pizza with mountains of cheese,
with acres of peppers, pimentos, and peas,
with mushrooms, tomatoes, and sausage galore,
with every last olive they had at the store.

My pizza is sure to be one of a kind,
my pizza will leave other pizzas behind,
my pizza will be a delectable treat
that all who love pizza are welcome to eat.

The oven is hot, I believe it will take
a year and a half for my pizza to bake.
I hardly can wait till my pizza is done,
my wonderful pizza the size of the sun.

Jack Prelutsky

 

Adventures Of Isabel

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry.
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch’s face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I’ll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.
Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.
Ogden Nash

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday brings you a few fun poems to read to share with your younger sons. Those of you who have Pizza Nights will especially enjoy “A Pizza The Size of the Sun”, where Jack Prelutsky imagines the best pizza ever. Ogden Nash tells the story of “Isabel”, a young lady who is not to be tangled with. And Langston Hughes explains “The Blues” to the youngest set. Enjoy.

The Blues

When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you’re in a hurry-
That’s the blues.

When you go to buy a candy bar
And you’ve lost the dime you had-
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere-
That’s the blues, too, and bad!

Langston Hughes

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GCP: What’s Going On?

GCP is in the midst of a makeover!  We are redesigning our site, and planning to bring a new, improved and more exciting look to the practical parenting  for boys of color that we’ve been offering for over three years.  “Bout time, don’t you think?  We will be posting periodically in the meantime, but please stay tuned–our new look will be revealed soon.

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5 “Teacher Tips” that Work for Parents Too

Ever wonder how teachers manage to keep classrooms of students engaged and motivated? Lynda Way, owner of the Pacific Preschool® & Kindergarten in California, offers “Teacher’s Tips” for motivating children which she suggests parents can use at home. These tips, found here, are summarized below, and we’ve added our comments as well.

1. Give Positive Feedback: Look for opportunities throughout the day to offer your sons positive feedback, and resist the temptation to just stay focused on what they could be doing better.

2.Set High Expectations (We love this one). Way explains, “Kids learn to regulate their behavior and set goals for themselves based on the expectations that the adults in their life have for them.” We need to let our sons know that we expect them to do their best, and strive for excellence. We can convey these expectations without putting too much pressure on our sons by focusing on their effort more than on any particular outcome. We don’t want to stress them out, but we do want them to aim high and feel the satisfaction of achieving their goals.

3. Customize Content. Way suggests that parents make sure that we tailor activities to each child, as “[t]he activity or incentive that is just right for one child may not be right for all of your children”. GCP would add that we should also try to make sure that each child is only exposed to age appropriate content especially with respect to the music, films and social media they are allowed to listen to and watch. This is a really tough one, since the younger children often get swept up in their older siblings activities, which can be convenient for parents. Check out Commonsensemedia.org for guidance (and media reviews) if you are not sure whether the youngest should tag along.

4.Implement a Reward Chart. A visit to any elementary school classroom demonstrates the power of a reward chart. Who among us wasn’t proud to get those hard-earned stars put next to our names? Try a reward chart at home to help your son learn to work towards getting things that he wants.

5.Take an Interest. This seems obvious, but in this day and age with so many devices competing for your attention many parents may forget that being distracted can look a lot like being disinterested to a child. Make sure you spend time with your son discovering and paying attention to his passions. Asks Way, “If your child is looking through some new library books, are you watching TV or are you engaging in the books with them?”

GCP parents, take careful note of these Teacher’s Tips. Incorporate them into your life with your sons. They will really appreciate it.

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Admissions Tips: Pre School and Beyond

As school begins, for many parents so begins the process of looking for schools for our sons for next year. Whether you are enrolling your son in school for the first time, or looking to change schools, now is the time to get focused. In today’s post we will feature tidbits about admissions for each level of your son’s school journey. We will provide more in-depth analyses of the various admissions processes in posts to come.

Preschool: We at GCP can’t say enough about the importance of early childhood education for our children, especially our boys. So much brain development happens in those early years! Applications for private preschools in major cities are often scarce (in NYC you have to start calling the schools the day after Labor Day) and the road to public preschools can be tough to navigate as well so it is important to begin your research in the year before you will want to apply for your son. Trying to figure out whether it is worth it and if so how to get started? Take a look at “Do You Need to Pay for Preschool” found here and “Getting into PreSchool: Advice from an Admissions Coach” found here.

K-12: Whether you are interested in an independent school education for your son, or a specialized, magnet, or local public school, taking the time to look at a variety of schools and understand the admissions processes is key to finding the best school for your son. If independent schools are on your list for your son, be sure to check out 4RIISE.org. RIISE, which stands for Resources In Independent School Education, was founded by Gina Parker Collins in 2009 to help parents and students of color as they navigate the landscape of an independent school education. During this admission season RIISE is featuring admission tips from parents, admissions directors and consultants to help you manage the process of applying to private, independent schools. Check out the first admissions post here and be sure to read them all.

For public schools be sure to start early researching schools and their admissions policies that interest you and your son. While in some communities living in the proper school district is the only criterion for admission, other schools have more complicated procedures, and all schools have strict deadlines which must be heeded. For a general overview take a look at “School Enrollment Requirements”, found here. As importantly however, check with your local school district and/or department of education to make sure you have information on requirements and deadlines.

College: If you have a high school junior, now is the time to help him focus on the standardized testing he will need to pursue to apply to college. There are subject matter tests he should consider taking, and he should start preparing for the SAT or ACT if he hasn’t already. If possible you should plan to visit colleges in the spring of junior year, and continue to do so over the summer. If you have a high school senior, he is likely to be already focused on making a list of schools which interest him, and if additional school visits are needed, now is the time to plan them. For many colleges with Early Action or Early decision options, the deadline is November 1, so your son needs to be very focused on the application requirements these days if he is applying early. We hope that your son has good guidance counselors who have told him (and you) all of this many times already, but we want you both to be prepared and on top of your game even if your son’s counselors are not. This can be quite a stressful time in many families. Knowing that you and your son are doing all that you can to be prepared will make this road slightly less bumpy.

Stay tuned for more in-depth info on each of these admissions processes from GCP.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Back to School

It is Back To School with Thoughtful Thursday! Today’s offering includes two favorites: “School”, which describes a school day all too familiar to parents of boys, and “Who Has Seen The Wind”, a classic that introduces youngsters to the mysteries of science. Science is also the topic of the poem “Astromony Lesson” in which two brothers step away from modern technology to contemplate the heavens. Enjoy.

School

I was sent home the first day
with a note: Danny needs a ruler.
My father nodded, nothing seemed so apt.
School is for rules, countries need rulers,
graphs need graphing, the world is straight ahead.

It had metrics one side, inches the other.
You could see where it started
and why it stopped, a foot along,
how it ruled the flighty pen,
which petered out sideways when you dreamt.

I could have learned a lot,
understood latitude, or the border with Canada,
so stern compared to the South
and its unruly river with two names.
But that first day, meandering home, I dropped it.

Daniel J. Langton

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Christina Rossetti

Astronomy Lesson

The two boys lean out on the railing
of the front porch, looking up.
Behind them they can hear their mother
in one room watching “Name That Tune,”
their father in another watching
a Walter Cronkite Special, the TVs
turned up high and higher till they
each can’t hear the other’s show.
The older boy is saying that no matter
how many stars you counted there were
always more stars beyond them
and beyond the stars black space
going on forever in all directions,
so that even if you flew up
millions and millions of years
you’d be no closer to the end
of it than they were now
here on the porch on Tuesday night
in the middle of summer.
The younger boy can think somehow
only of his mother’s closet,
how he likes to crawl in back
behind the heavy drapery
of shirts, nightgowns and dresses,
into the sheer black where
no matter how close he holds
his hand up to his face
there’s no hand ever, no
face to hold it to.

A woman from another street
is calling to her stray cat or dog,
clapping and whistling it in,
and farther away deep in the city
sirens now and again
veer in and out of hearing.

The boys edge closer, shoulder
to shoulder now, sad Ptolemies,
the older looking up, the younger
as he thinks back straight ahead
into the black leaves of the maple
where the street lights flicker
like another watery skein of stars.
“Name That Tune” and Walter Cronkite
struggle like rough water
to rise above each other.
And the woman now comes walking
in a nightgown down the middle
of the street, clapping and
whistling, while the older boy
goes on about what light years
are, and solar winds, black holes,
and how the sun is cooling
and what will happen to
them all when it is cold.

Alan R. Shapiro

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Back to School: Parents, Don’t Forget Your A B E’s

So our sons are back in school, and settling into the routine of early rising, a full day in the classroom, and homework after school. After a summer of focusing on them, we can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to focusing on our lives, right? Not exactly. Our sons will greatly benefit from our paying careful attention to how they are adjusting to their new school year. So parents, as our sons begin the school year, don’t forget your A B E‘s:

Ask your son how things are going, whether he is new to the school or has been there for a while. A new school year always brings a lot of things for him to become accustomed to: new schedule, classes, teachers. Ask your friends who spend time at the school (or teachers, if you are able to be at the school yourself and run into them) how your son seems to be doing if they see him around. Transitions can be stressful, and you should encourage your son to chat about what is going on at school so you can understand how he is handling things.

Be a consistent presence at his school, and start early in the year. Show up for curriculum night. Do your best to make the Parent’s Association meetings and get to know the parents who run them. Volunteer for a school project that fits within your schedule (e.g., an evening activity if your days are too full). If your schedule doesn’t allow for frequent school visits, then befriend a mom or dad who has the time, and ask that they keep you informed.

Encourage your son to establish studying routines early in the school year, and make sure he has a space in your home to do so. He needs a space free of obvious distractions (not in a room with a tv), with a good reading light and a comfortable chair. If he has regular homework assignments and his school doesn’t provide him with a calendar/assignment book, get one for him, and help him understand how he will use it to keep track of his long and short term homework assignments. Some students prefer using their smartphones, which works best if they are not easily distracted by whatever else they have on their phones.

Remember your A B E‘s to help your son get off to a great start.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Never Forget. Talk to Your Sons About September 11

The young men and women entering college this year were in kindergarten on September 11, 2001. This means that many of our children have limited to no personal recollection of the horrific events of that day. One of the phrases most frequently quoted in reference to 9/11 is “Never Forget”. But how do we make sure our school aged sons (and our daughters) know about and remember the events of September 11th?

911memorial.org, the site of the 911 Memorial Museum and Sculpture in New York City, found here, has a lot of good tips and articles to help you talk with your children about the events of September 11. Of particular interest to parents should be the “Teach and Learn” section of the site. There you will find suggestions on how to talk to your children of varying ages about 9/11, lesson plans about the event designed for students in grades K-12, teaching guides, webcasts, and lots of other helpful materials.

Although the actual day has now passed, your sons may come home more curious about 9/11 after hearing about it in school. Take some time to check out this site, and spend some time this weekend chatting with them about what our nation endured. The older students may be particularly focused on this issue in view of the current ISIS threat. Be sure to take a look at the War/Terrorism materials on the National Association of School Psychologist website, found here, for help with managing your son’s questions and concerns about terrorism.

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GCP: Back in Action, Back to School

Greetings GCP‘ers!  Hope you enjoyed your summer break (we certainly did) and are settling back into your fall parenting routine. We at GCP have been spending a good bit of our break focusing on ways to improve this site and create a stronger and more interactive GCP parenting community. Stay tuned, upgrades coming soon.

So much to focus on for our boys as school begins! As you work on getting your school aged guys back in the groove of early morning wake-ups and full days of school, there are lots of ways to make sure they are getting the best back to school start possible. Here are some:

Parent Tool Kit: Check out the Parent Tool Kit, found here. It is chock full of resources to help you monitor and support your son’s academic and personal development. Download the new free Parent Tool Kit app so you can keep track of his progress and receive helpful parenting tips from your smartphone.

Common Sense Media Back to School Guide: Common Sense Media, a great site that provides parents with information, advice, and tools to support their children’s safe and positive use of media and technology, offers a guide to help parents answer the many questions that commonly come up at the start of a school year. This guide, found here, addresses issues for children of all school ages.

Help Your Kindergarten Son Get a Great Start to School: Common Sense Media also shares tips for helping your kindergarten son make the adjustment to “big boy school”. Check out “Get Ready for Kindergarten with Practical Tips, Tricks, and Tools” found here and “5 Teacher-Approved Apps to Get Your Kid Ready for Kindergarten” found here.

Secrets to Raising Really Smart Kids: In August 2014 Essence Magazine published “Secrets to Raising Really Smart Kids”, found here. This very thoughtful article gives parents “Achievement Prescriptions” for helping children of all ages reach their academic potential.

Easing the Back to School Transition: There are lots of resources on-line to help you guide your son through the tough transition back to a school schedule with a minimum of stress. The National Association of School Psychologists shares“Back to School Transitions: Tips for Parents”. PBS Parents’ offers “Back to School Tips for Parents”. Scholastic has an impressive assortment of back to school articles and resources for parents in “Back to School: Start Smart”, found here.

SchoolHouse Rock Lives!!: Couldn’t resist sharing this blast from the past: Remember SchoolHouse Rock, those delightful cartoon video shorts aired on ABC on Saturday mornings which taught us about grammar (“Conjunction Junction”), history (“I’m Just a Bill”) and other subjects using really catchy tunes? On Sunday September 7th, ABC will celebrate this beloved series with a new special, “The ABCs of SchoolHouse Rock”. LOVE SchoolHouse Rock!! When my kids were little I found a DVD of these videos, and this became our go-to car entertainment. To this day any one of us can belt out ” Interjections” upon command. This is undercover learning at its best. If you don’t know about it, run over to YouTube and check them out. And watch this ABC special!!

* * * * * * * *

Can’t get back to GCP blogging without mentioning the horrific killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and its aftermath. We have watched every parent’s (especially every Black parent’s) nightmare come to life with the tragic death of an unarmed young man at the hands of the police. So much has been said about this already. So much analysis, so much anger, so much angst. We are encouraged by the news that the Justice Department has just launched a broad investigation Thursday into the police department in Ferguson, Missouri in addition to its ongoing investigation of the killing of Michael Brown.

As always, GCP must ask: How do we talk to our sons about Michael Brown and dealing with the police? We will address this in an upcoming post. Stay tuned. Welcome Back!!!

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