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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in renegade parenting

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

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It’s a disgustingly hot and humid September afternoon at Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay, Florida, where I teach history and coach varsity cross country. The weather doesn’t deter one of my top runners—an eighth grader who runs 3.1 miles in 18:36 minutes—from giving everything his has on his last four-mile repeat. As he makes the final turn and sweat beads off his grit-determined face, I yell one simple command—“Enjoy the pain.”

To become stronger and faster, pain is necessary. Muscles must be broken down and rebuilt in response to heightened physical demand. Capillary capacity must improve to ease the flow of oxygen into cells. Bones must become denser and the heart stronger, more efficient. Only through experiencing this process, however painful, can runners hope to reach their fullest potential.

As I read Dr. Wendy Mogel’s most recent book, The Blessings of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers, I consider a more profound idea. Outside of running, adolescents must experience pain to blossom into healthy-functioning adults.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

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There's something lurking on the wall in nearly every preschool classroom that shouldn't be there: a giant calendar.

Calendar time takes center stage each morning in thousands of classrooms. During morning circle time, the children gather on the rug at their teacher’s feet and go over the day’s weather, the day of the week, and the day’s date. It's time to banish that calendar.

I’ve never known an adult who doesn’t know what Monday is.  Or a third grader, for that matter.

Grasping the days of the week is not hard, but it takes some growing up to be relevant.  Many young kids live in a fog where time is concerned.  “Can we play at Mia’s house yesterday?”  “My spaghetti stew needs to cook for 100 hours.”  Time and days of the week are vague.  That’s OK.  Young kids function best with time statements like “after nap.”  Time will settle down in their minds soon enough.  Why impose our ordered rows of time on them now?

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

Another school year gone. My heart goes out to the kids who waded through more than their share of social garbage last term. Hopefully they'll get a needed reprieve during the summer. But summer is short and when it ends they'll head back to school. Most of them (and their parents and teachers) are probably not looking forward to dealing with the inevitable peer-to-peer crapola (online and off).

I'm in the prevention business and always working on ways to make schools more compassionate. Here’s my latest attempt to rattle some cages, which I've adapted from the Charter For Compassion's call to action for cities.

A compassionate school is an uncomfortable school!
Uncomfortable when anyone is threatened, harassed, or made to feel less than.
Uncomfortable when every child isn’t treated with respect by every teacher and every other student.
Uncomfortable when every student isn’t given rich opportunities to grow intellectually, creatively, and emotionally.
Uncomfortable when, as a school community, we don’t treat each other as we want to be treated.

A compassionate school knows uncomfortable feelings aren’t worth zippo, if they don’t trigger action. So a compassionate school recognizes the discomfort and immediately works for change with the full leadership and commitment of all administrators and teachers. With adult leadership, students learn how they too can become change agents. Because, whether students admit it or not, they desperately want their school to be a place where every kid is treated with respect. Every one.

Got it? Good. Now let's start thinking about new ways to make our schools really uncomfortable this fall. We’re in this together.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

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As soon as children are old enough to walk, we expect them to share. I prefer putting "share" in quotes, since this type of sharing is usually forced by the adult. Our goals are noble: kindness, generosity, awareness of others. Unfortunately, our approach backfires.

Kids learn more life skills -- and develop better generosity - when they aren't forced to share.

Of course, sharing squabbles happen all the time between kids. Here’s a typical scene: One child is busily engaged with a toy when a new child comes up and wants it. A nearby adult says: “Be nice and share your toys,” or “Give Ella the pony. You’ve had it a long time.” What happens? The child is forced to give something up and her play gets interrupted. She learns that sharing feels bad. It’s the parent who’s sharing here, not the child.

Traditional sharing expects kids to give up something the instant someone else demands. Yet we don’t do this ourselves. Imagine being on your cell phone when somebody suddenly comes up and asks for your phone or takes it from you. “I need to make a phone call,” he says. Would you get mad? As adults, we expect people to wait their turn. We might gladly lend our phone to a friend or even a stranger, but we want them to wait until we’re done. The same should apply to kids: let the child keep a toy until she’s “all done.” It’s turn-taking. It’s sharing. But the key is it's child-directed turn-taking. 

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