A Great School Year According to Kids

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Summer’s end gives way to back-to-school thoughts with traditional articles doling tips and advice to kick off the school year just right.  Usually– no, always these thoughts are derived from the experts, teachers and parents. No one ever asks those who ultimately should get to define that experience.  When asked, kids have their fair share of what would make for a great school year.  Enjoy the thoughts of students from pre-school to senior year of high school, when asked, “What would make for a great school year?”

“Reinstitute recess.  And, I mean, a real recess that the teachers don’t try to control.”  – Charlie, 8th grade

“Elementary school should have more science and experiments so kids can have fun learning.” – Joseph, 5th grade

“No NJASK! It doesn’t count as a grade & it builds too much attention for something that almost means nothing. Prepping for months long is not a learning experience. What did I learn?”  – Shawn, 8th grade

“For writing kids should be able to meet and interview authors to get tips on how to become better authors.” – Joseph, 5th grade

“I want a field trip to an amusement park with lots of roller coasters.  I want to know how they work.” – Caleb, 5th grade

“Some days, I want to be able to scream at the top of my lungs without getting into trouble.” – Nick, 2nd grade

“I would like to do more math and get rid of reading.”  – Justin, 2nd grade

“A great school year has lots of play dough!” – Jessie, Kindergarten

“We need video games, like math video games in every room and a half day of school with recess every day.” – Justin, 3rd grade

“I’m happy to get to go upstairs with the big kids and bubbles.  We should have bubbles.” –  Jasmine, Preschool

“To receive equal respect from teachers.  They are demanding respect from us but it seems like they don’t give it back to us.” – Avery, 12th grade

I wish we had basic life skills being taught to us.  Everything is so academic and I feel like that it really doesn’t prepare me for life.”  – Lily, 12th grade

Also, we learn so much about history that I feel disconnected to what is going on in the world today.  I wish we learned more about current events.” – Lily, 12th grade

I think there should be breaks throughout the day to hang out with friends, better lunches and no homework.  I would rather spend an extra half hour a day at school than do homework.  I just want to be done! “- Phillip, 8th grade

Elementary school should have a baseball team and clean bathrooms, a glass dome with a huge opening so I can sky jump from a private jet right into the building. And, reading, lots of reading, I wish we had more time to read.”  – Michael, 4th grade

My school year would be great with lots of outside time! Did you know my favorite letter is E, like egg, elephant. . . I think we will learn more about the letter E. “– Emily, Kindergarten

Great friends that are there, teachers that support, not adversary and a nice atmosphere. “– Riley, 9th grade

It’s difficult to learn subject matter that is not enjoyable but important.  Wish teachers could make it fun. And, students stop being mean to others that have different interests.  I see kids being mean or just ignoring others because they do not have shared interests.  Wish that could end.” – John, 9th grade

Down with the yellow buses.  They smell disgusting!” – Charlie, 8th grade

The pressure to be more ahead of where you are is insane.  I wish there was an acceptance from adults that not everyone needs to be so advanced.  We should be motivated by our learning experience not always trying to get ahead.” – John, 9th grade

“Having a choice in what we learn would be nice.  We are always told what we should learn but no one asks what we want to learn.” – Riley, 9th grade

Students were incredibly eager to voice their feelings about their education.  Between the bubbles and smelly yellow buses were some profound messages.   I hope as teachers and parents we are listening and willing to have a great school year.

Good luck with the upcoming school year and enjoy the last days of summer.

For more information on the TURNING STONEchoice process please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice

 

 

 

 

Posted in Back to School, Parent, Teachers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Gone Too Soon!

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Ending a life is incredibly, incredibly tragic. It represents a lost battle with mental illness. Where it is different is that suicide is a choice. Suicide is a terrible decision made by someone whose pain is so great that they can no longer hold it, and feel they have no other option in life but to end it. They forget all the wonderful things in their lives because they are so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy. It’s a decision you can’t take back, and a decision that will affect your friends and family forever. It is not taken lightly.

Losing a person to suicide may feel like a waste. For someone looking in, it does seem like a waste—especially in the case of Williams, who was a brilliantly funny man and a talented actor. People who are severely depressed can’t see past their failures, even if they’ve been successful. Life, however, is never wasted. Williams did things in his life that touched people to their core.

About 90% of people who commit suicide have some kind of mental illness that goes untreated or undertreated.

The national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Depression and Suicide Resources

American Foundation for Suicide

About Teen Depression

Depression Fact Sheet

Youth Depression

Talking with Kids About the News

~ TURNING STONEchoice

Posted in Children, choices, Communication, Current Events, Education, mental illness, Parent, Parenting, Robin Williams, suicide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Recess Queen

recess_queenThis book is a favorite! Powerful insights into playground bullying, school violence, and poor self-esteem.  This book offers wonderful life lessons while weaving through character development traits like responsibility, integrity, courage and leadership.  The Recess Queen is a great teaching tool for guidance counselors, teachers or parents.  This book is a sure hit!

~ TURNING STONEchoice

Posted in Book Review, Books, bullying, Children, Parent, Teachers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Signs of Positive Self-Esteem

As we work to understand ourselves and our children, we should strive to make choices that help us achieve long term success and self-fulfillment. When we have positive self-esteem, we can better understand:

  • The reality of our personal abilities and limitations.
  • The importance of understanding that we do not live within a vacuum and must interact rather than react to others.
  • The knowledge of when we are being influenced emotionally by past events which may cloud our judgment in a new situation.
  • The reality that ultimately we only have control of ourselves and no one else, not even our children.

Ultimately, when you have positive self-esteem, you understand the reality of your choice making and are able to maintain an attitude that with careful consideration will allow you to supplement and compliment your efforts and overcome challenges.

MIL_277x277_0006_middle_school~TURNING STONEchoice

 

Posted in Children, choices, Education, Educators, Empowering Choices, Making Choices, Parent, Parenting, Positive self-esteem, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

CHILDREN NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING THEIR EMOTIONS

What do you do to help children develop the ability to understand their emotions and others around them? It’s never too late to use your emotions in a positive way. Here are tips to help children develop emotionally:

1. Accept children’s emotions – “Are you OK…you look upset?” “Did something happen?” ” Are you angry? Let’s talk about it.”

2. Identify their emotions – “You look sad.” “That must have hurt your feelings.” “You sound upset.”

3. Encourage children to talk about what they are feeling – “Do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” “How are you feeling?”

4. Help children identify how others may be feeling – “How do you think that made your friends feel?” “How would you feel if you were in your friend’s shoes?” “Everyone makes mistakes.”

5. Teach children how to calm down – “Take deep breaths.” “Count to ten.” “Remove yourself from the situation so you can cool off and think in a positive manner.”

6. Help children maintain self control – “I was impressed when you used your words to tel, how you were feeling.” “You handled yourself really well even though you were frustrated.”
Troubled_teen

Posted in Children, Communication, Education, Educators, emotions, Health, Parent, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to Handle Child Attitude

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The awe and flash of Fourth of July fireworks, replete with cannonade, have drifted into silence, but the significance of independence never fades.

In the classroom, we seek to mold independent, critical minds for solving tomorrow’s challenges, and, in the home, we strive to raise confident and self-reliant children.  However, both teacher and parent would relish freedom from the universal, adolescent phenomenon known as “attitude.”

“Attitude,“ as used in this post, is the negative one we experience when a child chooses to express his or her feelings in an inappropriate way.  You know:  rolling the eyes, stomping the feet, invoking a tone of doom, sometimes even throwing a tantrum unrivaled by the most petulant toddler.

Attitude is defined as the way a person views something or tends to behave toward it, often in an evaluative way.  A good attitude makes a student “a pleasure to have in class,” whereas a toxic attitude often serves as the impetus for firing an employee.

Attitude can also be a fuzzy line of self-expression or disrespect.  It’s difficult to pinpoint and even more difficult to address.  Is this child just venting or is he or she being disrespectful to me?  Some of the attitude thrown our way requires looking more insightfully at possible causes and solutions.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I notice a rise in attitude and complaining at home.  Quick to point fingers and snap about complaining spirits, I, in turn, complain to others about my children’s attitudes.  Huh?  The irony and hypocrisy in that is ridiculous.  If my spirit is irritated and not kind or considerate, perhaps I’m setting the tone.  Additionally, barking directives at my children is such an easy default in my interactions with them.  Solution:  I need to check myself. Being mindful of what is coming out of my mouth and the way it is coming out is brutally challenging, but the solution is to adjust my own attitude.

A fellow parent believes a sibling’s or classmate’s attitude is more influential than that of a parent.  It’s the equivalent of silently saying, “This is acceptable behavior that you have permission to model.”  For example, if a child is allowed to snap and whine with rewarding results, there will be plenty of witnesses who will follow the same lead.  Solution:  Bring attention to the behavior without engaging in a battle.  That takes a moment of self-control on our part, not to react but to pause then interact.  A teacher can simply let a student know, “I do not appreciate the way you are speaking to me,” and move on to the next item of the day.  Totally ignoring a bad attitude is like throwing gasoline on a flame.  It has the potential to get bigger, blow-up, and spread to others.

Unmet expectations!   This one is huge and is the bottom line of most attitude problems.  When a request gets denied, there, typically, is a response.  It could be a repeating of the same request.  [I must have not heard the request right the first time and my “no” really must have meant something else.]  Or the silent treatment, sulking, body flopping, a resounding, “COME-ON!”, and “Pleeeeease,” could all be possible follow-ups to a denial.

I realize those are all forms of coping with disappointment and expressing feelings, but there is no benefit to a child who gets his or her way when using any of these techniques.  She or he will be the one getting fired in the future for trying to use the same techniques with his or her employer. Solution:  Never “change your mind” when a student or your child engages in a poor attitude.  If we cave [I know, I have], then we have just trained this child to respond accordingly to get his/her way.

Attitude adjustments do take time, effort, and a dash of humor.  Stay consistent, stay strong, and keep in mind the wise words of Captain Jack Sparrow when addressing attitudes in the home or at school, “The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude toward the problem.  Understand?”

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

 

Have a happy & healthy summer.

Sammy @TSC

 

Posted in Attitude, Children, Parent, Teachers | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with Author Traci Dunham – The Oyster’s Secret

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Below the waves and into the deep sea, Mr. Oyster is quietly, but confidently being himself.  Author, Traci Dunham debuts her first children’s book, The Oyster’s Secret with vibrant and engaging illustrations and a clever stroke of curiosity.  TURNING STONEchoice had an opportunity to talk with the author and listen to her insights on this soon to be children’s classic.

What inspired you to write this book?

Inspiration hit me last summer while sitting down by the water in my hometown of Wildwood Crest. I  wrote the book on the beach that day on the back of a crossword puzzle.

What was your goal in writing The Oyster’s Secret?

I wanted to let children know that their self-worth comes from what is on the inside.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you do.  Beauty comes from the inside out.  Raising a daughter that is handicapped has shown me that every person has value and a purpose. I love books that have a message and too many children’s books today do not.  With so many children being bullied, I want every child to know that even though they are different it is ok.  I am hoping this book teaches children at a young age to accept those with special needs.  I don’t think that there are many books out there that reach the younger age groups about children with special needs and I wanted to do that.  I’ve experienced firsthand the lack of education young children receive in regards to this topic.

Do you have any other works in progress?

Yes – My Sister Lu Lu and Me, a story of two sisters, one who is handicapped.  It is written from the point of view of the sister who is not handicapped. She talks about their differences and let’s everyone know that even though her sister is different it is ok.

The Oyster’s Secret is a delightful story, geared toward the juvenile reader with an incredible message of acceptance, self-confidence, and inner beauty. To enjoy your own copy please visit The Oyster’s Secret.

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice and our process please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

 

 

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Arguing With Your Child

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“Boy, get out of that tree!” I hollered at Nicky.  “I’m not in a tree, Mama,” he hollered back.  Hmmm?  Are you looking at the picture above?  Is Nicky in a tree, or have I completely lost my vision?  And, yes, because I had been baited into arguing with my child, I took a picture to have solid evidence of his presence in that Japanese maple, just to prove that he was wrong, and I was right.  FYI:  Physical evidence still proved ineffective in dissuading him from his position.

I wish I could claim this as an isolated incident, but I argue on a consistent basis with my boys over ridiculous issues, like basic reality:  Is he in the tree or is he not?  Timeframes:  theirs or mine.  Words I never said (or did I?):  “Mom said we could have cookies for breakfast.” 

I know, in my heart of hearts, I never even mentioned cookies, much less eating them for breakfast.

My sanity is often on trial here, and, in an attempt to defend it, I go there and engage in a verbal tennis match with my seven-year-old.  Not wise!  The truth is, it drains my mental and emotional reserves and benefits no one.  His reasons for arguing with me are generally rooted in a need for my attention or understanding.

My husband claims our children know they can get away with it with me.  I think he is right, but my big fail is that I entertain and engage where I have no business.  I mean, which one of us is the adult?

I often tell my older son when he is locked into sibling bickering with his younger brother, “Do not engage with a seven-year-old.”  Looks like I need to take my own advice!

How do you handle arguments in your classroom or home?  Please share your comments in the box below.

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

 

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Would You Allow Your Child to be Verbally and Emotionally abused?

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No!  No, you would not!  But then, again, maybe you would.  Think about the sideline dynamics during children’s sporting events and the way some coaches choose to communicate and to motivate their teams.  The yelling, the screaming, the cursing, the drama–and I’m just talking about the parents not just coaches.

A professional coach once said these words to me:  “We don’t yell our kid’s name and scream at them while they are learning to color.  Why do we feel it is acceptable while they are learning to play a sport?  Can you imagine [in a sports-fan-like, crazy voice],  ‘No, no, not the blue one!  Get the red one and STAY in the lines!’”

Yet, we do accept behaviors from coaches and parents that pertain to sports that, plainly, are unacceptable anywhere else, then we turn around with condemnation when we learn of abusive behavior on the collegiate and professional level.  Recall former Rutgers Basketball coach Mike Rice?  I just watched again the video footage of his behavior, letting loose on a player, verbally and physically abusing him up and down the court.  His rampage is forever accessible in cyberspace.  Or how about former MLB player, Mitch Williams, banished from multiple sporting events in which his children participated, for yelling at coaches, screaming at referees, and yelling a vulgar slur at a ten-year old boy, all while coaching his son’s baseball team (also on video).

This type of behavior has not just suddenly appeared.  There is license given here, and we, parents, are issuing it freely with our silence or participation.

Former NBA player, John Amaechi, said it best, “What I think is stark here is how we can be surprised, at this point, by this [Rice].  You can walk on any sideline almost anywhere in America . . . on any given weekend and see similar behaviors.”  I concur, Mr. Amaechi, but I respectfully ask, “Why?”

Why do you think this type of behavior is accepted on the sidelines of our children’s sporting events?  Please leave your comments in the box below.

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice and the process, visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

Posted in Children in Sports, Coaches, Parent, Verbal Abuse | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maya Angelou – “That’s Me”

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I got the call late in the afternoon.  My literary role model had moved on from this earth.  I blinked hard, and my throat was sand dry, for Maya Angelou had shaped not only how I thought about the written word but how I perceived struggle and being a woman of color–phenomenally of course!

She was a brilliant word ninja, transparent in thought and feeling, and bold to tell the world her life stories.  And it was with comfort and in lore that I felt connected to her experiences and reflected on her example.

There are people in this world who lovingly shape and encourage wholeness and empowerment in others, as did Maya Angelou.  Her confidence and strength was dignified and appealing, and I had the feeling she wanted the same for every person who read her works.

Her “Phenomenal Woman” is, perhaps, the most solidly written anthem for a woman’s self-image.  Every girl should read and believe.

Personally, I lapped up every single phrase of “Phenomenal Woman,” reading it like a mantra, wanting to believe I was, and could proudly say, “That’s me!”

In honor of Maya Angelou, enjoy the following excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman,” and please share and pass it on to all of the women in your life:

“Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

The palm of my hand,

The need for my care.

‘Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.” – Maya Angelou

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and our programs please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

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