Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

“The new math of the ’60s, the new, new math of the ’80s and today’s Common Core math all stem from the idea that the traditional way of teaching math simply does not work”

A must read article in the New York Times this past weekend.  All the more reason every child deserves a Montessori math education, click here for the link to the entire article.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

8 Ways to Teach Compassion to Kids

The following article by Signe Whitson was recently posted on the Huffington Post. Signe Whitson is a school counselor, author, and national speaker on topics related to stopping bullying and promoting children's mental health.

8 Ways to Teach Compassion to Kids

1. Walk the Talk
Children may listen to your words, but more importantly, they learn from observing your actions. When you have a chance to practice a random act of compassion, do so! When you are frustrated in an interpersonal interaction, express your displeasure in words that show respect for the dignity of the person you are addressing. When you encounter a person who needs help, stop what you are doing and tend to them, even (read: especially!) if it is not particularly convenient to do so. Remember: opportunities to show compassion do not occur by appointment. Show young people that anytime is the right time to engage in acts of service and compassion for others.

2. Put the Child on the Receiving End of Compassion
While showing compassion to others is a top way to teach this value to a child, allowing a young person to experience compassion first-hand is even more impactful. When your child is hurt or sick, be sure to provide abundant TLCC (tender, loving, compassionate care.) It may sound obvious, but tending to a child when he is feeling down or under the weather is the best way to teach him how to show compassion to others.

3. Talk the Talk
Most children can learn about true compassion by seeing and feeling this trait acted out, but when parents talk explicitly about acts of compassion, they communicate its importance as a prized family value. As you watch television or movies with your child, be sure to point out instances where compassion was shown -- or should have been shown! Talk about people who particularly need compassion, such as the elderly and children living in poverty.

4. Volunteer Your Time
When children become actively involved in acts of showing compassion to others, they learn about this value in a very deep and enduring way. Find age-appropriate ways to introduce your child to volunteering, such as visiting a nursing home and sharing a craft activity with a resident, serving a meal at a homeless shelter, helping to organize a canned food drive, collecting coats to donate to needy children, or even participating in a charity walk for a specific cause. These activities are at once meaningful and fun, which makes them especially effective in getting kids to routinely think compassionately about the needs of others.

5. Care for a Pet
Bringing a pet into a family is certainly not a step to be taken lightly or impulsively, but it is worth giving serious consideration to providing your young person with the experience of caring for an animal, as a way to foster compassion. Children who care for pets learn important values such as responsibility, unconditional love, empathy, and compassion for all living things.

6. Read All About It
Children's books are great for providing a window into the experiences of others. As a School Counselor, my go-to children's writer is Trudy Ludwig, the award-winning author of such books as
My Secret Bully (my all-time favorite pick for sparking conversations with kids about bullying and relational aggression) and The Invisible Boy, a great read for inspiring empathy and compassion for young people who find themselves on the periphery of school social hierarchies. For older kids, check out biographies of famous figureheads of compassion, such as the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa.

7. Compassion It™
In recent years, rubber wristbands have become a ubiquitous symbol of causes and concerns. While most of the messages are positive and inspiring, I must admit that their sheer common-ness resulted in me stopping reading the various messages on friends' wrists. Until recently. I noticed a two-tone band that a relative was turning over and felt compelled to ask about it. It was a
Compassion It band, she explained. Every morning, she puts the band on her wrist with its black side facing outward, as a personal reminder to act compassionately toward someone else. When such an act is committed each day, she turns the bracelet to its white side.
What a great idea -- so simple, yet such a powerful reminder to prioritize kindness and make compassion a part of her everyday routine. Needless to say, I went online and bought a band for myself and one for each of my daughters right away. Does this turn compassion into a chore, you may ask. Am I making kindness into a To-Do list item for my kids, you wonder. Nope, not at all, I say with confidence. Quite the contrary: the bands have turned compassion into an everyday topic of conversation in our household and has effectively elevated kindness into a priority in each of our days. Best. Bracelet. Ever.

8. Make a Wish
Acts of life-changing compassion can be only a click away. Use the internet to introduce your child to different charitable organizations that provide compassionate assistance to others. The Make-a-Wish Foundation provides hope, strength, and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions. While for younger kids, the site may be too heart-wrenching or scary, older kids can have a truly impactful experience of being able to provide tangible help and joy to a peer. The experience can be life-changing for both giver and receiver.

For additional information and articles, please visit

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Library Visits

 “People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.” Robert Putman

As I saunter through the many myriad of books at my local library, I cannot help but gravitate to the children’s section with all the colorful hardcover books, the whimsical art displayed on the walls, little ones sitting on their parent’s lap intently reading books, etc.

With children almost fully grown, I often wonder why I am so drawn to this section of the library.  As I reflect a bit more, I realize this special place was a place where my children and I grew up together, discovered fun filled books,  met life-long friends, shared story time, etc. - we found each other and we found our second home. 

Should you be near a library today, visit and discover a community outside of yourself.    

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Slide

Summer Slide
For this week’s Blog we have condensed and included a portion of Chick Moorman and Thomas Heller’s Summer Slide article.
"School's out. School's out…” And now you get them. What are you going to do with them now? If you're not careful, the summer slide will take effect shortly. It may have already begun with your children.

The summer slide we are talking about is not found at a well-known water park. Nor is it at the county recreation area down the road. It isn't next to the swing set in your neighbor's backyard. If you don't know what it is, there is a good chance it will be using it to slip and slide this summer.

The "summer slide," often referred to as the "summer brain drain," is a regular and predictable phenomenon that happens each summer. Student grade-level achievement scores in math and reading typically drop 2 to 3 months each summer. It often takes teachers a couple of months to get students back up to the exact grade level they were at when school ended at the beginning of summer.
Are you taking your children to the library this summer?

Will they help you read the recipe in your kitchen and do the math involved with portion sizes?

Can they keep track of the cost of the groceries in the cart and let you know when you approach 50 dollars? 

Will you commit to using electronic devices (computers, iPads, tablets, smart phones) as tools, not toys? Will you turn off the TV and get away from the video games?

Will you each learn a new word at dinner and use it with each other?

Are you using road trips as an opportunity to have your children calculate the mileage by using a map and adding up the distance indicated on the map? Do you challenge them to explain what "miles per hour" means and how to compute it?

Will journal writing be a method of keeping your child’s writing and penmanship skills sharp? 

Will you read each night to the little ones and have a regular reading time for those who are older?

Can you keep summer learning fun by playing games that require the use of skills learned in school?

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of many parenting books and are experts on the subject of raising responsible, caring, confident children. To obtain more information visit their website today: