Monthly Archives: June 2013

Report Cards: Celebrate the “E’s”

School is out for most of the nation, which means it is report card time. Are you eagerly anticipating your son’s great grades, or awaiting with trepidation what that dreaded envelope will bring? Before you open that envelope, take a deep breath and remember the following:

1. Your son’s grades, good or bad, do not define him. Good grades are an achievement of which a student can be proud but they are not an assessment of his worth in life, or a guarantee that he will be a successful in life. Bad grades can indicate that a student is not fully grasping the material or needs better time management skills, but they are not an assessment of his worth in life, or a guarantee that he will not be successful in life. It can be hard to remember this and to convey it to our children, especially if we haven’t always believed this ourselves. (I vividly remember getting a terrible grade in law school and calling my father crying hysterically. When he finally understood that I was not hurt or in serious trouble, but was just upset about a grade, he snapped at me and hung up pretty quickly. I got the message that I was being ridiculous.) Too much praise for good grades can lead your son to focus more on the grades than what he is learning and what his passions might be; shaming your son about bad grades can mess with his psyche and certainly doesn’t help him improve. Strive for calm and balance in your reaction whatever the grades may be.

2. Celebrate the E’s for Effort. Every student can’t always get an A in every class, but every student should be encouraged to work as hard as he can to do the best he can. If your son brings a D up to a B- by the end of the term, this is progress born of hard work, and he should be commended for this. If your son’s report card isn’t where you both would like it to be, determine whether there are any upward trajectories to point out and encourage him to continue the hard work. Focusing on the effort helps your son to understand that school is about learning and learning has value even if you don’t get the highest grades. Assure him that in the real world, knowing how to put forth great effort will take him a long way.

3. Reflect on your own experiences with honest and accuracy, and remember that they are your experiences, not your son’s. Just because you found math or science or essay writing easy, doesn’t mean that your son automatically will. Conversely, if you were a poor math student and your son is having trouble in math, don’t just chalk it up to genetics, get him a tutor. Were you really an A student all of the time? What did you do when you got a grade you didn’t like? If you have a story of dealing with a bad grade and turning it around, share it with your son. We tend to present ourselves as all-knowing parents who never had difficulties. Humanizing the situation could make it easier for you both.

4. Focus on a plan, which starts in the summer, to tackle any problem areas. Organizational issues? Spend some time together researching systems to find one which make sense to him, and take a leisurely trip to Staples or Office Depot (or any stationery store) to get the materials to implement a system that he participates in designing. Does he need to do math drills? Get workbooks and set up a realistic but firm summer schedule to work on them. Is he having trouble in English class? Check out his summer reading list, read one of the books on it yourself, and discuss it throughout the summer. Chat about the characters and the story. You’ll get a sense of his reading comprehension, and you’ll be able to compare perspectives on the book. (For parents of older students: get the Cliff or Spark Notes if you don’t have “War and Peace” reading time.) It is good to focus on these areas in the summertime when there is more time and less stress.

Speaking of stress, as tough as it may seem to do, try not to stress out with any of this. Remember that your son’s academic journey is a marathon, not a sprint. And be sure to take some time to enjoy the summer with your son!

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Filed under Academics, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Math, Parents

Thoughtful Thursday: The Bridge Builder

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday post is a poem called “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole (1860-1934). This poem comes courtesy of Mayor David N. Dinkins, former mayor of New York City. Mayor Dinkins often recites this poem in his speeches, especially in when he is talking to groups of children. This poem reminds us all of the importance of reaching back to help others.

Unknown

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray
To a chasm vast and deep and wide
Through which was flowing a swollen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The rapids held no fears for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” cried a fellow pilgrim near,
“You’re wasting your time in building here.
Your journey will end with the closing day;
You never again will pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at even-tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There follows after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This stream, which has been as naught to me,
To that fair youth may a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim —
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

Will Allen Dromgoole

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Help Our Sons Learn Our History: The Civil Rights Movement

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is vital that we make sure our sons know the history of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the history of the civil rights movement in the United States. Unless we happen to live in a community in which voter suppression is being actively conducted, it is likely that our children may not understand the significance of the passage of this act in 1965 or the significance of yesterday’s annihilation of it by the Supreme Court. As Julian Bond noted in an earlier GCP post Help Our Sons Learn Our History: Advice from Julian Bond (February 17, 2012), the history of the civil rights movement is not well taught in schools. So it is up to us to make sure that our sons learn about this critically important chapter of our history.

A good first step is to review this earlier GCP post, found here, which lists several sites for parents to use to help ensure that our children know more about the civil rights movement and its history.

“How the Children of Birmingham Changed the Civil Rights Movement” is an article about the Children’s Crusade, a group of children who marched on Birmingham in May 1963 to protest its system of segregation. Children in Middle school and above are likely to appreciate the important role that the Children’s Crusade played in the civil rights movement.

GCP will continue to research and report on civil rights movement sites and articles which will help us make sure our sons (and daughters) learn our history.

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Class of 2013: Social Consciousness and Global Perspective

Yesterday’s post featured Dr. Robert M. Franklin’s powerful commencement speech which encouraged graduates of an all male high school to be “renaissance men”. As noted yesterday, Franklin told the boys about the “five wells” of renaissance men: well-read, well-spoken, well-traveled, well-dressed, and well-balanced. Today GCP concludes its coverage of this inspirational speech.

Dr. Franklin encouraged the high school graduates to strive to be “renaissance men with social consciousness and global perspective”. He explained:

“[I]t’s not simply functioning as a renaissance man that is important or that matters most. You must also have a social conscience. Part of the beauty of Martin Luther King’s life, and Paul Robeson, and Dorothy Day and so many we regard as renaissance leaders, is that they voluntarily identified with the suffering, the challenges, the confusion, the ignorance and the vulnerability of the masses and they did their best to transform their condition. So, bring your sense of moral purpose, a sense of what is good and right and noble to every enterprise that you join. Even in the college dormitory you will occupy. Remember that you are renaissance men with a social conscience. Do not be pressured to conform to do things that you know are wrong.” Franklin cited Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” as a classic must-read treatise which provides guidance on developing a social consciousness. He noted: “[a] couple of memorable lines from his Letter from Birmingham Jail are “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, but another line that is alluded to in the letter but then elaborated in another speech said the following, “The saving of our world from pending doom will come not from the actions of a conforming majority but from the creative maladjustment of a transformed minority. This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists.”

In order to be a valuable part of that dedicated circle, Franklin posited, one must develop and maintain a global perspective. To help the boys understand just how interdependent the world’s people are, and how important it is to adapt a world view, he cited a study found on the internet called “The Village of 100”, which imagined the world population shrinking to just 100 people with all current demographic ratios remaining constant. This, says Franklin, is what this study shows that our Village of 100 would look like:

“There would be
60 Asians,
12 Europeans,
16 from the Western Hemisphere (that is 9 from Latin America and Caribbean; 5 from North America),
13 Africans.
51 would be female, 48 would be male;
73 would be non-white, 27 white;
67 would non-Christians, 33 Christians,
92 heterosexual, 8 homosexual,
5 would possess 23% of the entire world’s wealth and all 5 would be from the United States;
33 would live in sub-standard housing,
18 would be unable to read,
40 would be malnourished,
1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth; 2, yes only 2, would have a college education, and 96 would not be able to read this message, because only 4 would have a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for compassion and understanding becomes compelling and clear.”

Renaissance men with social consciousness and global perspective. Something for our boys to aim for.

Dr. Franklin is currently on sabbatical leave from Morehouse and is spending 2013 conducting comparative research about what contributes to the flourishing of boys and young men of color around the world. He plans to include visits to Brazil, India, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand in this study. GCP looks forward to hearing and reporting on his progress.

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Couldn’t post today without mentioning the recent Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. While we are heartened to see that the Court endorsed the benefits of student-body diversity in colleges and universities and allowed the continued use of race-conscious admissions policies in yesterday’s Fisher v. University of Texas decision, we are deeply disappointed with the Court’s decision to strike down a critical part of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.

For excellent analysis of these opinions and critical next steps, please go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund website, found here.

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Class of 2013: The “Five Wells” of Renaissance Men

As June comes to a close, GCP congratulates all of the young men who are in the graduating class of 2013. Whether they are graduating from elementary, junior high, lower, middle, high school or college, these boys have worked hard and deserve praise for this important accomplishment. These transitions are important steps in their lives and should be heralded. We celebrate the hard work, focus, persistence and brain power that got them through. Congrats to their parents as well, for they have worked hard behind the scenes (and sometimes front and center on whatever stage necessary) to help their sons reach this goal.

I have a particular interest in the Class of 2013, as I have two sons in it, one having graduated from eighth grade, the other having graduated from high school. I have spent more time than usual the past few weeks beaming with pride at my sons. One is heading to high school where new academic and life challenges await, and the other is moving on to the next important chapter of life in college.

At my son’s high school graduation we were treated to a commencement speech from Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President Emeritus of Morehouse College. My son attended an all boys school from grades K-12, and it was particularly interesting to hear from a speaker who graduated from and then went on to run this all male historically Black college. Dr. Franklin had a great message for the young men in the Class of 2013: he challenged them to be “renaissance men with social conscience and global perspective.” A powerful prescription for success.

Dr. Franklin defined a renaissance man as “one who is widely, broadly educated”. He specified five qualities, or what he called “the five wells” which make up the renaissance man:

Well-Read: “Like Leonardo DaVinci, John F. Kennedy, Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Renaissance man is first well-read”, said Dr. Franklin. He encouraged the boys to line their shelves with books. “Finance next to philosophy, poetry alongside physics…I urge you to read but read widely.”

Well-Spoken: “Have something to say and say it well…When you stand as public speakers remember the three B’s__be good, be brief and be seated”.

Well-Traveled: “Mark Twain suggested that travel is fatal to prejudice. But I love the Ghanian proverb, “never declare that your mother’s stew is the best in the world, if you have never left your village.” Dr. Franklin suggested that a good place to begin traveling would be the “BRIC nations” of Brazil, Russia, India and China, and added South Africa and Singapore as nations who are also having a global impact.

Well-Dressed: Dr. Franklin acknowledged that this one could be controversial, but that some parents would appreciate it: “Remember that long before people hear the quality of your intellect and your conversation, they will see you approaching from a distance. There is a time and place for every cultural costume, and so be appropriate.”

Well-Balanced: “Well-balanced, to possess a healthy mind in a healthy body, governed by healthy values. Avoid getting stuck in a daily routine rut. Work, but also play. Exercise, but also rest. Explore the world, but also know how to stay home and be content. Worship, listen, and learn from traditions that differ from yours.”

Following the five wells, says Dr. Franklin is the mark of the Renaissance man.

These five wells have stayed in my head since graduation day. Great advice from which all of our sons can benefit. (And our daughters too: we want to raise renaissance women as well.) Tomorrow, Dr. Franklin’s thoughts on how renaissance men find their “social conscience and global perspective”.

A thousand thanks to Dr. Robert M. Franklin for writing and delivering a terrific speech and providing GCP with a copy!

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What’s Going On?

Some interesting information to check out this weekend:

10 Most Violent Video Games: Just in time for summer vacation, Common Sense Media has compiled an annotated list of the 10 most violent video games currently on the market. Parent’s perspectives on the world of video gaming seems to be divided between parents who are avid fans of games and those who pay them no attention whatsoever. Both camps would be wise to take a look at these Common Sense reviews, found here. If you love video games, reading these reviews may remind you that while some of these violent games may be technically great, their content may be inappropriate for your sons. If you have never focused on the video games your sons play, take the time to read about the content of these latest games. Subscribing to the ostrich theory–where you’d prefer not to know what’s going on–is generally not among the best parenting practices. For each game reviewed, Common Sense Media offers some less violent alternatives.

Wu Tang Clan’s GZA Teaches Science: As we have reported in earlier posts, Wu Tang Clan member GZA has a strong interest in science which is evidenced in his rap lyrics and his work with students and science teachers. (See “The Latest Lesson from Hip Hop…Science!” May 31, 2012, and “Hip Hop Teachers Spreading the Word”. November 18, 2012) This week Slate magazine posted a video of GZA visiting a science class to encourage the student’s scientific inquiry and to hear them spit their science rhymes. Seeing the students respond with amazement and disbelief upon seeing GZA in their classroom, and then watching them work hard to impress him, is certainly inspirational, and worth watching and showing your sons. Check out the video here.

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Visiting MoMath: Earlier this week my 13 year old son and I went to check out MoMath, the national math museum in lower Manhattan, which was the subject of a GCP post earlier this week.(“Summer Learning Fun: Museums Making Math Cool” June 18, 2013), The museum was blissfully uncrowded when we got there (before noon on a weekday) and we were able to explore the exhibits at our leisure. While many of the exhibits were geared towards students a bit younger than my son, he (and I) really enjoyed trying to figure out how to operate them (all were interactive) and what mathematical lessons were being taught. Our favorite area was a series of tables filled with brain teaser puzzles for us to try. We enjoyed several of these puzzles so much we picked up smaller versions of them in the MoMath gift shop. For those of you in the NYC area, particularly with younger children, it is definitely worth a visit.

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Thoughtful Thursday: If For Boys

Here’s a new GCP weekly feature: Thoughtful Thursday. Every Thursday we will post a creative writing to inspire you and your boys. Today’s offering is a classic from Rudyard Kipling: If for Boys. The first line came to mind recently as I wrote to encourage a friend who was a target of unfair criticism. I dug up the poem and read it, and was amazed at all of the good advice it contains. Treat those two “impostors” triumph and disaster just the same? Walk with Kings but keep a common touch? Great stuff.

If you have a favorite passage, quote, poem or lyric which you find particularly inspiring with respect to raising sons, please send it to us, and we will post it on Thoughtful Thursdays. Today, enjoy “If for Boys”:

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

kipling_if

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Do Something

Inspiration for today’s post came in a conversation this afternoon with a dear friend about a documentary film she is producing about Paul Williams, the renowned African American architect. She described interviewing an African American architect who worked with Williams. This architect came from a family of doctors and lawyers, and my friend asked him how he came to be an architect. He replied, “Growing up, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to do something. I didn’t have to be a doctor or a lawyer, but I had to be something.” He knew that whatever he did, he was supposed to have a “meaningful, purposeful life”.

He grew up knowing that he had to do something, he had to be something. So simple. But what an important and powerful message for us to deliver to our boys, and to hear ourselves.

Our sons don’t always have to have specific goals and dreams for the future which they must pursue everyday; great if they do, but so many of them don’t. They don’t have to know exactly what they are going to be when they grow up. Their discovery of their passions and their development of their expertise is a journey we can gear them up for, but we can’t manage for them. We just have to make sure they know that they have to do something, and they have to be something. They have to develop the will to do what it takes to get there.

How do we make sure they know they have to do something? We can show them by example; by doing all we can to live meaningful, purposeful lives ourselves for our boys to see. We can take the time to talk to them about why we do what we do professionally; the satisfaction it brings to solve problems, help others, use our expertise. We can also talk about why we do what we do outside of work: why and where we volunteer, why we read books and newspapers, how we continue to learn, why we go to church, what we believe. Sometimes we are so caught up in doing what we do we don’t take the opportunity to talk to our boys about it. Rather than consistently give them a hard time about what they are not doing, we can show them how satisfying it is to do something.

The vagueness of that “something” is also important for us to remember. Our sons don’t have to be what we want them to be. For some of us, achieving our professional goal is one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives. For others, our failure to achieve it haunts us regularly. In either case, small wonder that our expectations for our sons are usually higher than those we had for ourselves. If they show an interest in science, we tell them they can be rocket scientists. If they have writing talent, their great American novel is but a few drafts away. But the weight of such lofty expectations can crush even the most curious mind. We have to remember to be supportive of the something they are interested in doing even if it is not the something we imagine, hope, dream, or just plain know that they should do.

Perhaps my friend’s story struck such a chord with me because I know how hard it is to remember all of this for my children and for myself. I’ve known families where children with a diversity of talents and achievements were celebrated, and I’ve known families who have unwittingly squashed their sons with their expectations, then wondered why they weren’t measuring up. In fact, I’ve both celebrated and squashed my own children from time to time. It’s hard to find the perfect balance between helping our sons stay as motivated as we know they have to be and giving them room to grow towards their meaningful, purposeful lives. But as we tell our sons, just because something is hard doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

If our sons grow up knowing that they have to do something, and be something, and live a meaningful, purposeful life, we parents should proudly pat ourselves (and them) on the back. While we all know it is ultimately not that simple, these simple words can take us all a long way.

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Summer Learning Fun: Museums Making Math Cool

Parents can use all the help we can get to encourage our sons (and daughters) to see math as an interesting and useful discipline, especially as we encourage them to pursue studies in the STEM fields. As a recent article in Education Week reveals, museums around the country are providing this help by developing programs and exhibits to encourage children to think about math as a fun and useful tool.

In New York City, a former hedge fund analyst has recently opened the National Museum of Mathematics located at 11 East 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues. At “MoMath”, children dance on polygons in a light activated math square, ride an oversize tricycle with square wheels on a bumpy track, and frolic in front of screens that illustrate fractals during their fun-filled hands on visit to this museum. As the Education Week article found here explains, MoMath’s goal is for its visitors to see that math is about thinking and discovery, not just rote memorization, and that it is everywhere—from highway design to musical composition to roller coaster construction.

The MoMath website, found here, is filled with opportunities for children to become more engaged in mathematics. Among them is a summer math camp program, Transformations, which offers one week Math camps for 4th through 8th graders at the museum, with need based scholarships available to ensure that all children have a chance to participate. Their summer program schedule also boasts lots of free events for families to enjoy, including MoMath story time, a Scrabble strategy session with a Scrabble national champ, and “Folding in Geometry”, featuring origami instruction for the entire family. “Changing perceptions is our goal,” explains Cindy Lawrence, the co-executive director of MoMath. “From the minute people walk in the door, we try to highlight the creative side of math: that it’s colorful, it’s beautiful, it’s exploratory, fun and engaging. None of these are words people typically associate with math.”

Across the country science museums are developing fun and accessible math exhibitions in an effort to inspire students to think differently about math. The Exploratorium in San Francisco developed the Geometry Playground and Garden, which is designed to change the way people think about geometry by “engaging their hands, brain, and body in playful investigations of this most visible branch of math”. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Geometry Garden to experience “the beauty that emerges from the basic rules of geometry”. The Geometry Playground is a traveling exhibition which will visit other cities including Oklahoma City, OK and Lehi, Utah.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has recently developed the Design Zone, with 25 exhibits to engage 10- to 14-year-olds in algebraic thinking. Karyn Bertschi, a senior exhibit developer at the Portland museum, explains the focus on algebra: “People think about algebra as a gatekeeper subject. Without success in it, many students are blocked from other opportunities.” The 6,000-square-foot exhibit has been touring the country and is booked at museums through 2015. Check the Design zone tour schedule, found here, to see if it is coming to a museum near you.

The Science Museum in Minnesota, the Museum of Science in Boston, the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina and Explora in Albuquerque, New Mexico have collaborated with two research centers (with National Science Foundation support) to develop Math Moves!, long-term math museum environments that children can interact with over multiple visits and over several years. The Math Moves website, found here, provides details of the exhibitions and includes teacher’s guides to the exhibition, and additional math enrichment activities for families and educators.

Parents, check these websites and your local museums to find math exhibits near you, and make plans to take your children on a summer learning adventure. If you live in or around NYC, a visit to MoMath is a must. (I plan to grab my youngest and head there; will report back.) Let’s do our part to help our sons and daughters find out how cool math can be!

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10 Things We Can Do to Help Our Sons Find Academic Success

Ebony Magazine has been running a series of special reports on “Saving Our Sons” in recent issues. Part three of this series in the July 2013 issue focuses on how parents can prime their sons for success in the classroom. Pick up this issue and read this report, as it is chock full of interesting and informative advice about the many ways parents can help their sons. Their list of 10 Things Parents Can Do For Their Sons, restated below, includes many issues upon which GCP has been focused since our inception. Most of them are relatively simple things which can yield big positive results. We’ve added in a few extra comments and resources in italics which can make the list easier to implement.

10 Things Parents Can Do For Their Sons

1. Don’t put a television in his room. Researchers have found that this can impede his intellectual and academic development.

2. Closely monitor his usage of the computer, cell phone and the music he is listening to. Make sure all media content is age appropriate. The list of media to monitor should also include films and video games. Go to http://www.commonsense.org for help with understanding what is age appropriate. Remember that age appropriate in your house does not mean the same thing in his friends’ homes. Chat with him regularly about what he does with his friends, and aim for a non judgemental tone to encourage him to share information. When he is old enough to understand, talk with him about why you don’t approve of some games, apps, sites or music his friends may be allowed to view. While you can’t guarantee that he won’t be exposed to inappropriate content, you can help him develop the tools to deal with it.

3. Talk to him as much as possible, beginning in the womb. Studies show that boys generally talk less and later than girls, and the more words children hear by their third birthday, the greater their chances for academic success. So as soon as you know you are having a boy, get to talking, and don’t stop until he heads off to college! Seriously, with smartphones and other technological gadgets distracting us on an alarmingly regular basis, we have to remind ourselves to talk to our children as much as possible, especially our boys. Put down that phone and pay attention, Mom and Dad!

4. Involve him in music and arts programs in addition to sports.

5. Feed him a healthy breakfast every morning.

6. Make sure he gets a good night’s sleep every night. Remove the gadgetry from the bedroom at bedtime. Putting him to bed with computers and phones within reach will give him cause to stay up later. Resist giving into his argument that reading on the computer helps him go to sleep. Researchers have determined that reading a lighted screen at night in bed makes it more difficult for the brain to shut down and get good rest.

7. As much as you can, sign him up for outside academic programs and tutoring, such as Kumon and Khan Academy online. Khan Academy, found at http://www.khanacademy.org, has thousands of free videos which provide brief but helpful instruction on a wide variety of subjects. Check out our GCP archives for more info on this great resource, and other outside help.

8. Particularly as he moves into adolescence, help him find an outside activity he loves that will help him to learn discipline and how to self regulate his behavior. Team sports works well in this area, but non sports activities work well too (e.g., chess, drama, etc.). Finding one’s passions is a key objective in life, and the sooner he is encouraged to find things he likes outside of school which require his focused attention, the better prepared he will be to pursue his passions later in life.

9. Do as much as you can to instill a love a reading. Read aloud to him and as he gets older read the same books so that you can discuss them with him. It is critical to continue encouraging your son’s reading and discussing what you both are reading even if he does not develop a love of reading (despite your best efforts). Don’t give up; let him know that even if he is not inclined to pick up a book on his own, it is critical that he keep up with his reading in school. As we’ve recommended in previous GCP posts, read along with your son’s English syllabi through high school (pick up the Cliff notes versions if necessary). Asking for and listening to his perspective of his reading not only gives you a sense of how well his reading comprehension is developing, it is also fun conversation, especially when he hits upon an interesting interpretation that hadn’t occurred to you.

10. Keep him engaged and stimulated during the summer, signing him up for camps and fun summer programs. If you can’t afford them, design a fun summer curriculum for him yourself. Check out the many GCP posts on Summer Learning in our archives for help with this.

Good stuff, Ebony. GCP readers, be sure to see their July 2013 issue for more information about how to help our boys succeed in school, and check out their entire series on “Saving Our Sons”.

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