Posted in books, differences, education, mindset, parenting

Reading is reading!

The Kid is learning to read. I mean, he’s in the years-long process of learning to read.

He loves to read.

Part of that is that he reads things that are interesting to him. It doesn’t have to be books. It doesn’t have to be at his reading level. Whatever is interesting.

Sometimes, he likes to read his old picture books. (The words in those are not always easy to read, since they’re generally intended to be read out loud by a competent reader. Even when they are easy, he enjoys them.

Sometimes, he reads LEGO magazines.

Sometimes, he reads chapter books.

Right now, he’s reading a Minecraft graphic novel. I believe he’s read it in its entirety three times since acquiring it less than a week ago.

Reading is reading. It’s all practice. It’s all building skills, building habits, nurturing a love of reading.

I remember overhearing a conversation years ago between two moms. One’s son was only interested in reading comic books. She forced him to read “real books” before he was allowed to read comic books. They weren’t school-assigned; she just didn’t think comic books “counted” as reading.

There are words, sentences. There’s a story. There are characters.

It counts. It all counts.

Reading is reading.

Posted in ebb & flow, education, follow-up, mental health, mindset, parenting, vulnerability

Follow up to ‘Take what you need’

(If you missed the original post/project details, you can find it here.)

Kids have been off and on with the sticky notes. I have needed to replenish them a time or two, but most seem to have chosen a couple, stuck them in their music binder, and not messed with them again.

Earlier this week, one of my classes was playing a (very short, very repetitive) song from memory during the school assembly. The lead photo was taken in the hallway on the way to the cafeteria.

I’m considering putting something like this up at home.

 

Posted in education, mental health, mindset, parenting

Mental health days … for kids

A law was passed in Oregon that students’ absences due to mental health issues can be excused.

But until I looked it up and read about it, all I knew was that “mental health days” are now excused.

Having a legit mental health issue and “taking a mental health day” are two very different things, in my opinion.

The point of the law is that mental health problems are just as legitimate as physical health problems and should be treated as such.

I agree.

I wonder if there’s a better name for them to make their purpose more clear.

But.

Before I read and learned about it, this conversation happened.

“Kids can take mental health days now,” someone said in a passing conversation.

“Maybe we should make school so that they don’t need to.”

She laughed. I didn’t.

Kids taking a day off from school just because they need a break is evidence that there’s a flaw in the system.

No, being stressed is not something that kids just need to get used to. Instead of making life worse for younger people, why don’t we make it better for everyone else? (And return it to better for younger people…)

Wouldn’t it be better if kids were disappointed when school was over? If it was a place they looked forward to going on a regular basis? If it helped them feel competent, useful, creative, intelligent?

(Wouldn’t it be better if more workplaces were like this, too?)

And, as I just hinted at, this problem is not limited to schools. Or kids. We, on the whole, could make everyone’s days better if we all got on board with that… Just a little “we instead of me” thinking…

Posted in ebb & flow, education, mental health, mindset, parenting, vulnerability

Take what you need

After going through a handful of ideas, I put up the display shown in the picture in both of my classrooms.

In case you can’t see the photo, there’s a poster in the middle that says “take what you need,” surrounded by sticky-notes with messages.

You got this!

I can do it!

Mistakes are opportunities

I am a problem solver

You are a problem solver

I’m going to be OK

Try

Breathe

Focus

Listen

I am in control

It’s hard but it’s worth it

I belong here

You belong here

Better than yesterday

I have grit

Each one is written once on each of five colors of paper and stuck randomly around the center poster.

I introduced this to my students–5th and 6th graders–on Monday at one school and on Thursday at my other school.

They seemed interested. Monday, a few kids grabbed one.

Thursday, most of the kids grabbed one. I didn’t see what everyone took (that wasn’t what we were working on!), but I did go look after they left to see what needed to be replenished. (Eyeball estimate–with random placement, I’m not going to count every single one of those to keep the counts even.)

One or two of many were missing: I’m a problem solver, I can do it, You got this, Breathe (though I think their intention is a reminder to take a good breath when they play).

But this is what struck me (and why I’m writing about it).

Every “I’m going to be OK” was taken.

It gave me pause.

Many of those kids are dealing with problems that I certainly didn’t deal with as a kid. (Some of them have problems I can relate to.) But most of them, I don’t really know their story.

I’m going to be OK.

I made more and stuck them up there. I may start circulating to see who is taking those, if it’s consistently the same kids, and check in, either with them directly or with their homeroom teacher or the counselor.

If that’s what they needed, I’m glad it was there.

Posted in education, know better do better, mindset, motivation, thoughtfulness

“But they need to be ready!”

I wrote over the weekend about K-12 school standards and their inappropriateness.

A loud argument in favor of the standards is “kids need to be ready!”

Ready for what?

Preschoolers need to learn their letters so they’re ready for kindergarten. But we decided that they need that for kindergarten.

It’s top-down. We want them to know xyz when they graduate, which means they need this in 11th grade, this in 10th, and on down. (This leaves, in some cases, parents going nuts about where their kid is going for preschool, because of the trajectory to college. Seriously???)

As I mentioned the other day, this top-down thinking doesn’t take cognitive or emotional readiness into account.

It also never leaves space for us to be present, if we’re always looking ahead to what’s next. What about what’s now? Can we learn something and just enjoy it now that we know it? Can we take time and learn things just for fun? Can we learn that learning is fun, so we continue to pursue it when we’re not obligated?

We’re still operating in the mindset that created public schools over 100 years ago. The world is different. Jobs are different. Societal survival skills are different. What we know about human development (physical, mental, emotional) is different. Schools need to be different.

We need kids who can work with one another. We need kids who are creative. We need kids who are willing to be vulnerable (because you can’t be creative without vulnerability).

But teamwork, creativity, and vulnerability aren’t measurable on multiple choice tests.

We’re applying assembly line thinking to an era of opportunities that aren’t assembly line.

Also in the mix: we need to recognize and celebrate growth. A third grader who reads at a first grade level is seen by many as a failure and is a ding against a school’s competence. But if that child started the year without knowledge of the alphabet, completing the year at a first grade level is fantastic!

Teachers already know this.

(There is a solid handful of legitimate reasons why or how a child could get to third grade without being literate.)

Taking a small tangent…

I see such a drastic disconnect between “they need to be ready!” in an academic sense versus every other sense.

We (as a society) don’t teach our kids how to interact in a healthy way with other people. (As a society, we’re not very good at it, so it’s not taught or modeled for many many kids…)

We don’t teach our kids how to manage money. How to budget. To save. To prioritize. To value quality. To delay gratification. (I’ve heard many people say this should be taught in school, and it could be, but what about parents?)

We don’t teach our kids good food habits. Good movement habits. Good screen habits.

Don’t they need all of those things to be ready? Why is only advanced math and interpreting classic literature considered “readiness”?

Let’s reconsider what we need out of kids when they’re done.

Let’s take it a step farther and consider what we need out of kids if they drop out. What if we get them for 8 or 9 years instead of 13?

What do you think kids need that is appropriate for schools to provide? What should schools add, and what should they subtract, in your opinion?