Tag Archives: education

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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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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A Legacy of Excellence for Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson

As everyone probably knows by now, the Seattle Seahawks will face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVII on February 2, 2014. And most of you football fans know that the Seahawks were led to victory yesterday by Russell Wilson, their young African-American quarterback. But what will likely come as news to many is the family legacy of excellence that Wilson is continuing and building upon. NY Times columnist Bill Rhoden tells the impressive story of Wilson’s family in an article found here.

Russell Wilson is the son of the late Harrison Benjamin Wilson III (Harry), an attorney who died in 2010 at age 55 from complications of diabetes. Russell’s grandfather, Harrison Benjamin Wilson, Jr. was the men’s basketball coach and an assistant football coach at Jackson State in the 1950s, and went on to become president of Norfolk State. President Wilson had three sons, all of whom went to the New England prep school Wilbraham and then onto Dartmouth, where they played varsity football. Russell’s father Harry went on to University of Virginia law school and practiced law in Richmond Virginia, where Russell grew up. Ben Wilson, Harry’s brother, graduated from Harvard Law School and practises in Washington DC. As the NY Times article explains, Ben has stepped into his late brother’s shoes to encourage and support Russell’s professional development.

While Russell was encouraged by his family to consider Dartmouth and recruited by Duke, his choice of North Carolina State allowed him to seriously pursue two college sports, football and baseball, and enabled his impressive football skills to be properly showcased. He was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, and won the starting quarterback position as a rookie.

What is clear from this article as well as others about the Wilson family (found here and here) is that they’ve demonstrated a committment to excellence, both academic and athletic, which is now three generations strong. And it does not stop with Russell: his older brother Harrison IV also played football and baseball in college, at Richmond; sister Anna is a basketball star who verbally committed to Stanford as a high school sophomore.

Russell has told his Seahawk teammates that when he was young his father encouraged him to consider and be ready for the possibilities which lie ahead, and would ask him “Why not you, Russ? Why not you?” What a great question to pose to our boys.

So as you watch Super Bowl XLVII in a few weeks be sure to tell your sons about how Russell Wilson is carrying on an impressive family tradition of excellence. Whether you are a Seahawks or a Broncos fan, you’ve got to give him props for that.


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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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