Category Archives: Parents

Stories of how parents have faced and overcome a challenge with respect to their son’s academic progress

Back to School and Back to GCP!!

After stepping away from regular GCP blogging for a while to work on a parenting book proposal, GCP is back and I will be back to more regular posts.  While the posts will still primarily focused on raising boys,  so much which has been posted already can apply to parenting girls as well as boys.  A lovely young friend with twins (a boy and a girl) recently told me how she had taken my advice to become involved in their school and is a class mom for this year.  Thrilled to hear. So all you girl moms out there, please join us and let me know when GCP advice works for you!

* * * * *

School is back in session!   I’m sure you have focused on getting your son ready to go back to school.  Make sure you also take the time to focus on your back to school checklist:

  • If your son is in a single classroom all day, have you met his teacher(s)?  If he is a middle or high schooler, do you know what he is taking this year and how he feels about his classes so far?
  • Have you volunteered for a classroom and/or school activity? If your working hours prohibit this, have you found the parent/buddy who will keep you in the loop about what is going on at school?
  • Have you put the Parent’s Association meetings in your calendar and do you plan to attend one of the earlier ones in the school year?
  • Have you focused on his afterschool activities?  Making sure he is not over scheduled and that he is doing things he enjoys?
  • If necessary, have you focused on the technology he will need for the school year? If he uses a laptop, is it in good working order and does he have the means to BACK IT UP ( an external hard drive is best)?  This is really important;  neither he nor you will want to deal with his losing work following a computer crash.
  • Have you made sure your son has a good space in your home in which to study? Free of obvious distractions (no TV nearby), a comfortable chair and a good reading light?
  • If he has regular homework assignments, does he have a calendar/assignment book?  If the school doesn’t provide one, get one for him and help him figure out how to use it to keep track of his short and long-term homework assignment and projects.  Some students prefer to keep their calendars on their phones.  This works best, of course, if they are not easily distracted by the 7 zillion other things going on with their phones.

 

Take care of your checklist, and your son will be off to a great start for the school year!

 

Carol Sutton Lewis

Ground Control Parenting

 

*** P.S.  I have plans to build up the GCP network this year, and I’d love to hear about what is working for you and your sons.  Good parenting ideas need to be shared–we all need all the help we can get!  Please follow me on Twitter @GndCtrlParentg,  tell your friends to read GCP, and send me your comments! Thanks. 👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽📓📓

 

 

 

Advertisements

Comments Off on Back to School and Back to GCP!!

Filed under Academics, Featured, Latest News, Parents, Uncategorized

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!!!

Comments Off on GCP: Back in Action, Back to School

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

Are We Ruining Our Boys?

In a recent New York Times Motherlode blog post, the author confesses “I’ve Ruined My Boys” as she describes how she has “over coddled” her 6, 9 and 11 year old sons to the point that they are unwilling to do much of anything for themselves around the house. In her post, found here, she confesses that she has “reveled in having them need me so much” but has decided that she is through with waiting on them hand and foot, but worries that it might already be too late.

This post struck a responsive chord. However I have succeeded as a mom, I have definitely failed in teaching my children to fend for themselves domestically. I did not enforce the chore chart or give stars for taking out the garbage. I know my children know how to make up their beds (at least I got that far with them) but they never got gold stars for doing it (or punishment for not doing it). They will wash dishes (i.e., put dishes in the dishwasher) if reminded, but only if reminded. Why is it so hard for some of us moms to teach our children to do things for themselves?

Perhaps some of us, like the blog post author, secretly enjoy being needed. We feel wonderfully efficient and useful when we can quickly dispense with a chore rather than wait have to for our sons or daughters to do it in their own fashion and timespan. As our children grow older and more independent from us perhaps we want to feel that we are still indispensable to them. But if we continue to do the simple things for our children, how will they learn to do it themselves? (Truth be told, they ultimately do learn to do these things for themselves when they have to. But we won’t see it because they only have to when we are not around doing it for them.)

I am sure some of you parents will read this and be completely unable to relate. Your children grew up doing chores, and you were determined to make sure all of them, the boys and the girls, became very responsible domestic citizens and great cleaner uppers. Kudos to you, and please leave comments letting us in on the secrets of how you did this.

But the rest of us can take solace in knowing that we are not alone (and perhaps feel a tiny bit cheered if we are not quite as indulgent as the blogpost author). Knowing how and when to make our kids do things on their own is one of the tough journeys of parenting. We will look further into this issue and provide some tips in an upcoming post.

1 Comment

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

Thank A Teacher!

Although Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9) has come and gone, it is not too late to show your appreciation for special teachers in your son’s life. In fact, the end of the school year is a great time to thank teachers for the hard work they have put in all year on your son’s behalf. Looking for cute year end gift ideas? Check out these Pinterest boards here, here and here.

Be sure to involve your son in the process of figuring out what to do for his favorite teachers. It will help him understand the importance of showing appreciation and celebrating great teachers if he participates in the purchase or making of a teacher’s gift. As you focus on year-end gift giving, please note that teacher’s gifts are much more about the thought than the price tag. In fact, many schools have dollar limits on what you can spend on a teacher’s gift. Check with your Parent’s Association/PTA reps for this information. And don’t forget about the people who work hard in your son’s school outside the classroom to make sure he has a good day, like the security guard or the school nurse. They should be appreciated as well!!

As you talk with your son about the teachers he wants to thank, talk to him about some of your favorite teachers. Not only is it fun to share your stories, but by sharing your memories of teachers you had decades ago, you will help him appreciate how important and influential a good teacher can be.

Comments Off on Thank A Teacher!

Filed under Academics, Ages 0-5, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Parents, Resources

Hit the Road! Vacationing with Kids

As summer approaches, thoughts turn to family vacations. We at GCP love hitting the road with the kids, and have been doing so since they were tiny tots. Family vacations can provide some of the best times of your life. Whether it is a road trip of a few hours or a journey to another part of the world, introducing your children to different places and cultures at an early age helps hone their powers of observation and understanding, and gives them great memories of family fun.

Here are a few tips culled from a variety of sources (including our own GCP wisdom) to help make your family vacations into fun adventures:

1. Start with a Positive Attitude: Some parents refuse to consider taking their little ones on the road for fear that the children will be terrible travelers. One of the best ways to avoid this fear is to start traveling with them early, so that they grow up understanding how to behave on the road. Sure, you will have to plan long trips carefully and bring lots of fun activities to distract them on a lengthy trip. But be sure to believe in your children’s ability to be good travelers!!

2. Keep Them Busy On the Road: Bring lots of fun things on the road: books, toys, stickers, educational games, portable DVD and game players, books on tape, and music CDs to sing along with. Make age appropriate activity travel bags for each child. Be sure to include a few surprises in the bag. Save the bag for when the first signs of fidgeting appear.

3. Leave the Special Toy at Home: Rather than take the favorite bunny or lambie on the road, better to buy a special friend for the trip a few weeks before. Nothing threatens to spoil a trip more than discovering that Bunny didn’t make it out of the last hotel.

4. Bring the Medicine Cabinet: Be prepared for any emergency, big or small. Make a trip to the local drugstore and load up on everything you could possibly need for everything from a minor boo-boo to a major head or tummy upset. Here’s an unusual but useful tip: stick a packet of ground coffee in your bag. If the little one happens to throw up in an enclosed space (on the plane, in a car), coffee grounds mask the smell pretty quickly.

5. Plan Realistic and Flexible Days: Don’t try to fill every waking hour of a trip with activity, even if it is child friendly activity. Children tend to tire easily on the road, so take your cues on the length of the day from them. Maybe you won’t be able to hit every spot of interest in every port of call, but better to have a shorter day than have to drag a cranky little one around. And be prepared to make stops that your children request that you might not have included in the original itinerary. In the early days we visited more wax museums than I could ever have imagined (or wanted to imagine). But we had a blast, and still talk about those museums, so many years later!

You can take your sons and daughters on the road and have a great time! Start planning now.

Comments Off on Hit the Road! Vacationing with Kids

Filed under Ages 0-5, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Entertainment, Holidays, Parents, Resources

Inspiration from the Sports World for our Sons

Some inspiration for our boys from the world of sports:

Princeton Renaissance Athlete:

DRAFT2-articleLarge

Caraun Reid, a December 2013 Princeton graduate, is a two time All American and an N.F.L. prospect who some predict could become Princeton’s highest draft pick in over 30 years. As reported in a recent New York Times article found here, Reid, a 305 pound defensive tackle who didn’t play organized football until his freshman year in high school, isn’t just a talented football player awaiting his fate in tomorrow’s draft. He is also a talented singer, who regularly performed with a Princeton a cappella group; a musician who had regular gigs with his jazz band (he plays guitar and drums); a gospel singer and an executive board member of the campus ministry program. Small wonder that one of his challenges as he headed into draft season was convincing scouts that he was sufficiently serious about football. But his stellar performance in a pass rushing academy and the Senior Bowl convinced them that he was N.F.L. material.

Reid’s parents, both immigrants from Jamaica, encouraged their son to maintain balance in his life by combining athletics with music, schoolwork and worship. His father, Courton Reid, explained, “We believe in that — we believe our children should be well-rounded. We’d say you never know what could be your niche.” Good advice for life, and refreshing to hear in a world where athletic boys are trained to be singularly focused on their sport from an early age. Hope things go well for him in tomorrow’s draft.

Kevin Durant, NBA M.V.P:

kevin-durant-66f0f86d9c48c170

Grab a box of tissues and your son and watch Durant’s speech as he accepts the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. Not only does he give a heartfelt personalized shout out to each of his teammates, he saves the highest praise for his mom, thanking her for the many sacrifices she made to raise him and his brother, and calling her “the real M.V.P.”. Great speech from a thoughtful young man with some good home training. You can watch the long-but-worth-it speech here.

Comments Off on Inspiration from the Sports World for our Sons

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

Great Websites for Parents!

As we do from time to time, GCP has scouted the web and found some really interesting sites for you to check out:

The Educators’ Spin On It: Recently voted “Best on Pinterest” by Parents Magazine, this pinterest board (found here) and website (found here) are chock full of interesting and creative ideas for fun projects for parents and kids to do together. Two former elementary school teachers have pooled their experience as educators and moms to create these sites through which they pass along all sorts of creative ways to make “everyday moments into teachable opportunities”. At both sites you will find activities about reading, math, science, literacy, cooking, gardening, crafting, writing, and learning a second language for Ages 0 to 8. Lots of really great suggestions, just in time as you start to plan how to help your children avoid the “summer slide” away from active learning.

Speaking of the brain drain that summer break can bring on, here is your chance to hear more about it, and have your questions about it answered as well. On Thursday May 8th, 9pm EST, Educational Psychologist Michele Borba will participate in the first ever Parent Toolkit Twitter Chat, where she will answer your questions about how to help your children stay sharp over the summer. We wrote about the Parent Toolkit back in October 2013 (Education Nation: Parent’s Toolkit, October 3, 2013), a website that offers parents great resources to hep guide their children’s academic development. Here’s how the Parent’s Toolkit Twitter chat works: Send your questions to @EducationNation now using #ToolkitTalk and join them for the live conversation with Michele on May 8th where she will answer your questions and more. And be sure to check out the Parent’s Toolkit website here. Great and useful stuff!

Summer Reading 2014 Sites: Despite what you may be experiencing weather wise in your neck of the woods, Summer is approaching quickly, and along with Summer comes Summer Reading Programs!

Today Scholastic announced its 2014 Summer Reading Challenge. This is its annual effort to encourage reading globally. Head over to their Summer Reading Challenge website (found here) and read all about it. Children are encouraged to read every day, log their minutes into a global log, take weekly challenges and earn rewards, and help set a new reading world record. This year’s theme is “Reading Under the Stars”, and the home page features videos from astronauts (a diverse crew of astronauts, thank you Scholastic) talking about their work in space and encouraging kids to join the Summer Reading Challenge.

Does your teenager like to read the New York Times? Even if he doesn’t, would you want to encourage him to do so? The New York Times recently announced its Fifth Annual New York Times Summer Reading Contest. Every Friday from June 13 through Aug. 15 they will ask teenagers ages 13-19 the same question: What interested you most in The Times this week? Young readers are encouraged to pick any NYT article, essay, video, photograph published in 2014 and post their answer. Winning posts will be featured online the following Tuesdays. Check out the details of this contest here.

There is all sorts of good summer reading info on the 2014 Summer Reading at New York Libraries website, found here. Book lists, craft suggestions, and much more. Go to the Parent’s section here to find additional summer reading tips and materials.

Enjoy perusing all these great sites, and try to figure out how to incorporate some of their suggestions into your son’s summer!

1 Comment

Filed under Parents, Resources

Talk to Your Sons About The L.A.Clippers

It has been front page news for a few days now: L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly made some outrageously offensive racist comments about Black people to his Black and Hispanic girlfriend. Talk to your sons about this situation, and ask them what they would do if they played for or were the coach of the L.A. Clippers.

The team decided to play yesterday’s game, and staging a silent protest during warm-ups, and they are playing again on Monday night. Would your son have decided to play the game? Talk about the issues that probably came up during a team discussion: whether they should forfeit the playoff game that they’d been working all season to get to play in, or whether they should continue to play for an owner who appears to have made blatantly racist comments. Talk about all the competing pressures on the team: the instinct to walk away from the game, likely supported by outraged family and friends, versus the urge to prove to themselves that they have the ability to win, coupled with the potential economic consequences of refusing to play, and how much does that matter under these circumstances?

Certainly you have had may versions of these conversations with friends and co-workers over the past few days, conversations which will continue as the playoff games continue and the NBA Commissioner attempts to authenticate the recording of these comments and determine the league’s response. But take the time to talk with your sons about this situation, and keep talking with them about it as events unfold. More importantly, keep listening to their thoughts about these events. Ask them what they would do going forward if they were a Clippers player, if they were the NBA Commissioner. Keep talking, and keep listening.

Comments Off on Talk to Your Sons About The L.A.Clippers

Filed under Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 8-12, College Bound Students, Parents, Saving Our Sons, Sports

April is Volunteer Month — Tell Your Sons About This Inspirational Volunteer

Did you know that April, in addition to being Poetry month and Mathematics month is also Volunteer month? (Who makes these designations, we ask?) Anyway, in April we pay tribute to the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in our communities. And here at GCP we are happy to spread the word about young Hector Montoya, a 9 year old from Grand Prairie, Texas, who took impressive action to solve a community problem.

Hector had been saving up his money to buy a Playstation 4 game console, when he learned that a house in a nearby town had caught fire, and the mother and daughter in the house were killed. Hector decided to use his $300 in Playstation 4 savings to buy almost 100 smoke detectors for homes in his neighborhood for people who didn’t have them, including seniors and shut-ins. “It really hurts my heart to see people die in a fire,” Hector told local reporters. “Saving a life is more important”. When people heard of his good deed via the local news, they also responded generously, by rewarding Hector with a new Playstation 4, and contributing an additional $150 towards the purchase of additional smoke detectors.

Check out the video here. Share Hector’s story with your sons and talk with them about the importance of doing for others, not just in April but every month!

Comments Off on April is Volunteer Month — Tell Your Sons About This Inspirational Volunteer

Filed under Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Parents, Resources

Family Ties: How Can Parents Help Create Them?

images

A good male friend recently described the relationship between his two teen sons as “non-existent”. Different social circles, different schools, unconnected lives living in the same house. If one is away for a while, the other will eventually ask about him, but only casually, and he certainly doesn’t want his brother to know that he cares. My friend assures me that his boys are going through the normal stage of wanting nothing to do with one another, and that he is sure they will reconnect down the line.

He had to assure me of this, because I’ve not experienced a phase where any of my three children didn’t get along fairly well with each other. The fact that several years separate each of them (3 years between my first two, then 4 years between the second and third) could be a big factor. They had to spend a good deal of time together when they were young, of course, but they were always at different developmental stages, so the competitive level generally stayed pretty low.

I am sure that my friend is quite right about his sons, and he is wisely adopting the “don’t sweat the small stuff” parenting approach. But I have to confess that it would bug me if my children weren’t close. I am not talking “we don’t need any other friends” close, but at least “I’m cool with hanging with you around the house” close. This leads me to wonder: what, if anything, can parents do to promote friendship among their children?

“How to Get Siblings To Get Along” in Chicago Parents, found here, had some good suggestions. I particularly liked the following:

Encourage an Expectation of Closeness: Katie Allison Granju, a mom of five kids and author of Attachment Parenting, suggests that parents have a baseline expectation within the family that siblings will be friends, and subtly make sure that everyone understands that expectation. Encourage your children to view each other as allies. As Pat Shimm of the Barnard Toddler Center says, your ultimate goal is to have your children join forces together against you, the “management”, for that is how their bonds form and grow.

Support Each Other’s Activities: Insist (where reasonable) that your children attend some of their sibling’s activities and games. It involves them more in each other’s lives and gives them an opportunity to cheer for (or console) one another.

Family Conversations: I groan a bit at any forced encounters (like a planned “family meeting”) but making time for family conversations, be they around the dinner table (a great place to promote togetherness) or in the car, allows your children to listen to one another’s thoughts and ideas. Enforcing rules that everyone has to be polite and not interrupt will help keep the conversation civil and productive. It also gives everyone an opportunity to laugh together, which is always good.

Don’t Compare: A surefire way to poison sibling relationships is to play favorites or suggest that one child should act more like another. Don’t do it, even if one seems to have all the common sense (smarts, talent, whatever) in the world and the other none. Nothing good comes from your saying “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister”? Nothing.

Establish Family Traditions: Chicago psychologist Dr. Mark Sharp notes that anything that helps kids identify as a part of the family is particularly helpful. “Family traditions, family rituals, these experiences create a sense of bond. That helps create a shared identity, which helps them feel closer.” When my children were young we established Fridays as Pizza Night, which ensured that the three of them (and often all of us) would enjoy yummy casual dining at the end of the week. Even now if one of the older two is home from college on a Friday, he or she expects to see the pizza boxes on the counter and whatever sibling is home seated at the table.

These are suggestions, not prescriptions. Sometimes no matter what you do your children will refuse to get along, and will seem not to care about one another. But it certainly won’t hurt to focus on some of these tips, and it could even help.

What do you do to encourage your children to strengthen their family ties to one another? Please share your tips!

1 Comment

Filed under Ages 0-5, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Parents, Saving Our Sons