The truth about teacher gifts is that all of them are appreciated but some of them are better loved than others.
When I taught at an inner-city school families would bring me homemade tamales, small figurines from the dollar store and fresh flowers from their yards. Sometimes the 8-year-old girls would come back from recess with bunches of Oxalis, a pretty yellow weed from the playground. These inexpensive gestures made me feel well loved.
When I taught at a school in an upper-class neighborhood families would bring me chocolate, homemade dinners and beautifully arranged photo albums with children’s letters. At Christmas and the school year’s end I would also receive over $200 worth of gift cards. Once again, I felt very well loved.
My point is, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to say “Thank you,” but if you do, that’s nice too.
There are many ways to show appreciation, but here is a no-fail list:
- homegrown flowers
- notes of appreciation–consider sending a copy to the principal
- student artwork
- store-bought flowers
- gift cards
Notice I didn’t mention food.
Personally, I loved the candy, home cooked meals, and other baked goods I received from families. But that was me. Your child’s teacher might be on a special diet or have food allergies you don’t know about. It’s simpler to give her a gift card to Starbucks.
So what does my family give to teachers each year? We start saving early so that we can buy gift cards to Nordstrom’s. I owe my kids’ teachers a debt that can never be repaid.
I went to the Helping Boys Thrive Summit with Michael Gurian and Dr. Gregory Jantz yesterday and it was AMAZING! I’m so glad I went!
But I left feeling disturbed. One dad shared with the Q&A panel that he disciplines his tween boy by spanking him with a foot-long paddle and even punching him in the chest. Then he laughed about it and implied that he wishes he could discipline his son’s friends too. The whole audience laughed with him, like it was a big joke.
In my mind, this isn’t funny at all. Washington’s own Hanna Williams died the victim of “corporal chastisement”.
Michael Gurian addressed the issue by clearly saying that spanking to cause pain, spanking on the skin, and spanking with an object is child abuse. But he didn’t come out definitively against spanking, even though research shows that spanking is ineffective compared to better discipline methods. (See Stop Spanking.org for more details.)
Dr. Jantz answered by saying that in his house they use natural consequences. I’m assuming that’s code for Love and Logic methods. Love and Logic is absolutely opposed to corporal punishment as well.
Kudos to Michale Gurian and Dr. Jantz for sharing, but I wish you had gone further. I am worried about those tween boys in question.
95% of the Helping Boys Thrive Summit was outstanding. I would highly recommend going. But next time, maybe they should invite L.R. Knost or Robbyn Peters Bennett to take a seat on their panel too.
The premise of Merlin’s Nightmare is that Arthur is now 18 and just discovering that he is the rightful heir to Britain. Merlin struggles to let his adopted son grow up and make decisions on his own–which might lead everyone to their doom.
Anyone familiar with Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory is going to be in for a shock!
Treskillard has taken the original cast of the Arturian legend and reshuffled it. Morgana for example, is now Merlin’s sister.
For my part, I read this latest Treskillard installment and thought “Werewolves? He added werewolves?” But I’m not such a traditionalist that it bothered me. In fact, I really think the author has freshened the legends up. Arthur is ready for new YA fans.
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.
Got a reluctant reader? Try turning reading into a sensory experience. Set up a corner with fidget toys, a cozy blanket, and a warm, weighted lavender pillow. Also works for stressed out moms!
This is a nice alternative to the other reading corner in our house, which is smaller and a bit more intimate.
Ready for some Mommy-Ed?
Right now I’m reading Boys and Girls Learn Differently! A Guide for Teachers and Parents by Michael Gurian and it is so fabulous that I want to tell everyone I know about it.
Here’s a one-sentence synopsis:
Once parents and teachers understand how male and female brains develop differently, they are better able to educate children.
I’m so impressed by Boys and Girls Learn Differently that I’m starting an online book club. If you’re interested in reading along with me, check out the book from your local library and stay tuned for future blog posts where you can add your own comments.
I’ve ordered my own personal copy from Amazon, but it won’t be here for two days. In the meantime I need to hide my highlighter. The copy I’m reading is from the library and I cannot contain myself from marking up important passages with a golf pencil.
Happily, on May 24, 2014 I’m attending the Helping Boys Thrive Summit in Edmonds, WA where I’ll get to hear Michael Gurian speak. I’ll be sure to blog about that as well.
How do you know what reading level your child is on? For parents that’s a tough question but for teachers it’s easy.
Parents are bombarded by books from the library that all have their own system. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these books are great. But “I Can Read” is different from “Step into Reading” which is different from “Bob Books”. So saying your kid can read “level 2” is pretty meaningless. Level 2 of what?
Teachers are bombarded too. There are a gazillion ways to measure reading level. But if you have the right tool, it’s easy. Here are some examples:
As a former teacher/parent, I’m most interested in my kids’ Guided Reading Level. I even have many of our books marked. If my kid can read a book marked J, then I immediately know he’s at the J reading level.
But let’s make things even easier! Here are some guidelines to help you ferret out your child’s reading level in general.
Entering Kindergarten: Knows many letters and a few sounds.
Exiting Kindergarten: Able to read about 25 words. A good goal would be to be able to read Level 1 Bob Books.
First Grade: Able to read simple sentences. Not a lot of stamina. A good goal would be to read Bob Books Levels 2-4 or some of Dr. Seuss.
Second Grade: Working on stamina. A good goal would be to read “Frog and Toad are Friends” by Christmas, and “Magic Tree House” by June.
Third Grade: This is a BIG year! Third grade is when kids jump from “learning to read” to “reading to learn“. By third grade, kids should be able to read chapter books like “Ramona Quimby Age 8”.
Fourth Grade: Chapter books with deeper complexity. The books are harder and the critical thinking capabilities are too. Check out The CIA Approach for more ideas.
All kids progress at different levels. So don’t freak out if your child is progressing in a way that’s different from the spectrum I just presented. But if you do have further concerns, click here for help.
A very special “I Brake for Moms” column from today’s Herald: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140511/BLOG5205/140519986/On-Mothers-Day-heres-to-you-Mrs.-Bardsley
This is big for me, because normally I don’t share pictures of my children online. But now you can see my daughter’s sweet face. Photographer Sofia Jaramillo did a beautiful job!
Nobody in my family has SPD, but I did have a student with the condition. His mother had me read The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz, which really helped me become a better teacher.
I’ve been thinking about SPD a lot because yesterday my cast came off. Now I have two arms feeling two different things.
Just touching the skin on my left arm hurts.
A gentle breeze is extremely uncomfortable.
Lukewarm water feels hot.
I know that physical therapy will help with all of this. In the meantime, I’m getting a hands-on empathy lesson about SPD.
I only have one arm out of sync. I can’t imagine what it would be like living with your whole body feeling that way–or parenting a child who was dealing with that experience on a permanent basis.
Thankfully, there are resources available to help. Children with SPD usually qualify for Occupational Therapy through their local school districts starting at age three through IEPs.
In the classroom, teachers can help kids with SPD by:
- reading The Out-of-Sync Child
- providing fidget toys
- allowing weighted stuffed animals.
- adjusting the classroom thermostat if possible
- allowing access to quiet reading corners
- and more…
At home, parents can share the Beyond Play catalogue with grandparents. It will have lots of good ideas for Christmas and birthday presents. (I sound like I work for the company but I don’t.)
One final note. Children who are gifted can also sometimes have sensory issues, but usually not extreme enough to qualify for an official diagnosis of SPD. If this sounds like your child, click here for more information
Ugh! It’s still too hard to blog these days–at least up to my normal standards. Luckily my hand therapy appointments are helping. I can pick up a piece of paper now. Whoo hoo!
Here are my past two “I Brake for Moms” columns from The Daily Herald chronicling the situation.
My cast comes off on Tuesday. But I have a long road of recovery ahead. As you can see from the picture my arms are now two different sizes. 😦
Got a teen girl? If so, I have a great book recommendation for you. Body and Soul: A Girl’s Guide to a Fit, Fun and Fabulous Life by Bethany Hamilton is an easy read full of pictures–and so much more.
This book is about nutrition, exercise, and balance. The writers break down what it means to eat clean, and provide clear examples of great exercises you can do at home without any equipment. There is also a Christian theme, but not so intense that it would throw readers from different religions off.
As soon as I started reading Body and Soul I immediate thought of a student athlete I know, and what a great pick this book would be for her. But once I saw all of the recipes I decided to keep Body and Soul for myself. I haven’t been this inspired to cook in a long time! I guess I’ll be buying an extra copy on Amazon when it’s released on May 6th.
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.