Who Should Be Teaching Your Child About Character and Virtues?

 Who Should Be Teaching Your Child About Character and Virtues?

By

James L. Casale, Ph.D.

Do you believe that specific virtues and character traits lead to a happy and successful life? If you do, have you thought about how these traits are acquired and who is supposed to instill them in our children?

Are character traits ever acquired by coddling, pampering, and giving in to the whims and desires of our children? Are you raising a “I want it and need it now” child, or a teenybopper who says unabashedly, “but all my friends have one”?

Coddling Gone Wild

Kathleen Parker, an editorial writer for the Washington Post, touches on this subject but doesn’t go far enough. Her editorial, “Our coddling culture … “  is worth a read by all parents and educators. She does not blame the students. She blames the “Everybody Gets a Trophy Culture” and a system that does not teach about” history, government or the Bill of Rights. She claims, and rightly so, that the current condition of overly sensitive students “was auto-induced with the zealous pampering of the American child”. I concur, but my focus is on the parent component, not the schools and colleges.

The election results and wimpy kids

Nothing emphasizes her opinion and my essay more than the reaction of the college crowd who are so upset with the election results; they’re protesting in the streets. My own grandchildren-though not protesting in the streets- are also upset because the election results don’t mirror their progressive tendencies.” I’m scared” says my 18-year-old grandson. Is that a character trait or a virtue?

And some of these coddled adolescents are so distraught; they’re asking their professors to cancel the mid-term exams! God help me. God help them. What have we taught these kids about coping with situations they don’t like or agree with? Where is the character component they desperately need to succeed on this planet? Don’t they watch the reality shows like Life Below Zero and the Alaskan Bush People?  That’s coping!

The schools are trying to be parents

Schools are trying,through various character education programs, to sincerely and earnestly teach about character and virtue and the connection to success. But, it’s not their job or responsibility. I recently attended a well-meaning Character Education assembly at Franklin Academy in Palm Beach Gardens. My grandson received an award for his resiliency. I am proud of him as are his parents, and his grandparents.

School officials flashed a huge replication of the school’s character pledge on the gymnasium wall and showed a clip from the latest Rocky movie, Creed. Well done. Good try. I hope it helps, but it is no substitute for what goes on at home.

Parents need to wise up

John Gardner reminds us that,” The smallest school in America is the family.” Parents and caregivers are responsible for child rearing; teaching and modeling the character traits and virtues that will foster healthy emotional and spiritual growth. This is not the responsibility of K-12 schools or colleges.

Two things parents must do immediately

Two critical things that parents must do early and often are: 1) State your expectations for your children, write them down on a poster board, and hang it up in a conspicuous place in your house. Refer to it often. 2) Model your expectations, your character and your virtues on a daily basis.  It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Parents must wise up and step up.

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator and the author of numerous articles and essays on Education. His highly praised guide for parents, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How To Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Make Your Child a Success in School, is available in book stores, on Amazon.com, and from his website, www.parentsfirst.biz.

A Holocaust Survivor’s Lesson to His Grandchild

Have you ever heard of the God Squad? They appeared as a team on TV in the 90s and spoke eloquently about religious, spiritual, and ethical issues. The original duo consisted of Monsignor Tom Hartman, a catholic priest and Rabbi Marc Gellman. Both of them were serving their respective congregations in New York.

Monsignor Hartman has since passed away, but Rabbi Gellman continues as the God Squad and writes a regular column for Media Tribune Services. I was an avid follower of their words of wisdom, and now I never miss a God Squad column penned so ably by Rabbi Gellman. I regularly save the columns and send them to my children and grandchildren.

Useful parental advice

While this may seem off topic for me since most of my essays and articles are about education issues, it is exactly on point if parents are interested in raising their child in a family culture that models and teaches values. In an August 2016 column, Imparting words of wisdom in final moments, the Rabbi shares a poignant and heartfelt story that touched my heart and may touch yours if you are serious about imparting words of wisdom to your children.

What would you say in your final moments?

The question, What would you say in your final moments? was posed to Rabbi Gellman by one of his avid readers. Acknowledging the difficulty of saying something profound in one’s final moments, he shared this story.

At a bar mitzvah being conducted at his synagogue, it was, and still is customary, for the Rabbi to call upon the parents and grandparents to bless the child in their own words. The diminutive grandfather, a holocaust survivor, rose from his seat, approached his grandson, looked up at the tall 13 year old and in his thick Yiddish accent said, “In this life you are going to meet people who need help. If you can help them-help them.”  Then, according to Rabbi Gellman, he sat down and cried.

High hopes and dreams

Every parent has high hopes, dreams and expectations for their children. Not every parent follows through and ardently tries to establish a culture of learning in their homes that teaches and models the character traits that lead to a successful and fulfilling life:  caring, giving, kindness, self-restraint and gentleness. What do you want for your child? What is really important? What are you willing to do?

 

Dr. Casale is a state and national award winning educator and the author of numerous articles and essays on Education. His highly praised guide for parents, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How To Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Make Your Child a Success in School, is available in book stores, on Amazon.com and from his website, www.parentsfirst.biz.

 

 

 

 

 

Are Your Kids Safe at School?

Are Your Kids Safe at School? (Part One)

“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” 

~ Tacitus ~

The alarm clock sounds. Another school day begins. The kids not only are awake and up, but are washed and dressed. They eat breakfast and then—yippee!—brush their teeth. Backpacks are stuffed with lunch, books, and all sorts of things depending on the age of the child. They are ready to roll. You walk them to the bus stop or drive them to school because it’s your carpooling day. You wave good-bye and as they fade from your sight, you shout, “Have a great day!”

Have a great day! What does that mean?

Of course you hope they have a great day, a productive day, a day that includes learning and developing and maturing as they interact with their teachers and their peers and contend with their school’s normal routines and demands. But isn’t the primary concern of all parents the safety and security of their children? If it isn’t, it should be.

What parents expect, even if they don’t consciously think about it, is that their children will enter a school environment that is caring, supportive, nurturing, protective, and safe.

Do you watch them until they get to the door?

As a teacher and a principal, I observed what I came to realize was a daily “routine” that many parents followed if they drove or walked their children to school. They watched. They watched their child until he or she was safely inside the building. While this behavior may be more common at the elementary or middle school levels, it underscores a critical concern for all parents; the safety of my child.

Parents need –at least- to feel confident that their school is a relatively safe place while realizing that accidents happen and some things can’t be anticipated.  Are you confident that the safety and security rules, regulations, and protocols set forth by your school and school district are comprehensive enough to ensure a safe, productive, and healthy learning environment for your child? Isn’t it worth your time to become familiar with your school district’s policies? Stay tuned for Part Two coming soon.

Copyright 24 September 2016 by James L. Casale, www.parentsfirst.biz

Dr. Casale is a state and national award winning educator and the author of numerous articles and essays on Education. His highly praised guide for parents, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Make Your Child a Success in School, is available in book stores, on Amazon.com and from his website, www.parentsfirst.biz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EARLY PARENTHOOD EDUCATION PRECEDES EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Many view Early Childhood Education as a sure path to future school success and life success. The research is clear that a quality pre-school experience will enhance a child’s chances of being successful in school and in life. There is no argument that the first five years of a child’s life are pivotal, but who and what should exert the most influence on these formative years? 

Your Family Culture

The most positive influences in a child’s life should be parents and the culture of learning established in the home. Parents can and must do more to ensure that a culture of learning begins at home and that culture must be nurtured and sustained. Pre-schools are not a substitute for what can easily be done at home. Pre-schools are supplementary to a home environment that values education, manners, sharing, caring, problem solving, structure and much more.

Pre-schools

Not all pre-schools are created equal, and according to research, suffer from inherent weaknesses that clearly affect outcomes. Preschool programs vary greatly. It is reported that there is a general lack of accountability, wide ranges of teacher competency, training and certification, a lack of program evaluation and the inability to define quality programs. In spite of these shortcomings, many pre-school programs adequately care for children from infancy until the time that children are ready for kindergarten. But is adequate good enough? And do parents know or understand what is expected from a quality pre-school program?

Early Childhood Expectations

According to the kindergarten teachers I have worked with, the three pre-school characteristics that adequately prepare children for kindergarten are: getting along with others, following directions, and being able to attend to a task. If a child arrives in kindergarten with some semblance of these three important qualities, they will be ready to learn. Of course, much more than that is learned in quality programs, but these three are essentials that can easily be taught, modeled, and reinforced at home.

Too many parents focus on the wrong skills. They’re thrilled if their child knows numbers and colors. They are even more thrilled if their child is learning to read and write before they enter kindergarten. But these skills should take a back seat to learning and acquiring the characteristics that position children to be successful: respect, self-restraint, responsibility, perseverance, getting along, solving problems, knowing the difference between right and wrong and loving to learn.

Billions have been spent on public education, but students continue to struggle, fail, and drop out of our schools. Parents and other care givers can make a huge difference that does not require a teaching certificate or the skills to design learning activities at home.  A recent report about Early Childhood Education confirms the findings of the 1966 Coleman Report “home based family involvement emerged as the strongest predictor of child outcomes.” Are you ready to get started? These three basics are essential: attitude, a family mission statement and a plan. 

1.Attitude-Success begins with attitude. What you believe will guide your actions. If you believe education is important and that your child’s success depends on it, you have taken the first critical step that will begin to define the culture in your home. 

2.  Mission Statement-From the smallest companies to the largest corporations and most schools, mission statements guide their vision and purpose. They bind organizations to dedication, loyalty, and the reasons for their existence. Families are no different except that they are more important than any other organization: Families and effective parenting are the backbone of a successful society and its institutions. Construct a brief statement that defines  expectations for all family members and hang it on the wall.

3. A Plan-Like architects and engineers, parents need a blueprint they expect to follow. The most important characteristic of an effective family plan can be captured in one word, Model what you expect from your children. If you expect kindness, model it. If you want to encourage reading, fill your house with good books, read to and in front of your children,  turn off the TV and engage in regular family activities. 

Conclusion

Nothing in this essay is as complicated as brain surgery. But nothing positive emerges from a household that does not value education and character building. While it’s never too late to start, it can be more difficult if your children are already pre-teens or teenagers. I recommend starting before your children are born. Evaluate your attitudes and most of all your commitment to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Dr. Casale is a state and national award winning educator and the author of numerous articles and essays on Education. His highly praised guide for parents, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Make Your Child a Success in School, is available in book stores, on Amazon.com and from his website, www.parentsfirst.biz. He is available as a speaker. Contact him at jcasale357@gmail.com.

 

The Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal grabbed national attention in 2011 as the largest in U.S. history.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed the results of a 10 month investigation by state officials.  Teachers and school administrators altered standardized test scores.

Forty four of Atlanta’s 58 schools were involved.  Those involved were required to quit or resign.  What prompted the cheating?  Could it happen in Palm Beach County?

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB) applies enormous accountability measures to teachers, schools and school districts regarding student performance  on standardized high stakes tests.  The  NCLB and the pressure it represents to achieve positive results and “look good”  concomitant with the incompetency, unprofessionalism and unethical behavior of all involved – school board members, superintendents, principals and teachers are the root causes for this humiliating situation.  Other scandals have emerged in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Orlando.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “the district set unrealistic test score goals or targets, a culture of pressure and retaliation spread through the district and Hall (Beverly Hall, the previous superintendent) emphasized test results and public praise at the expense of ethics.”  One teacher told investigators that the district was “run like a mob.”  http://www.ajc.com

The sordid details in Atlanta and other school districts across the country confirm, in my mind, that school reform is mission impossible.  We will sooner colonize Neptune than reform a broken national system.

The nature of standardized testing is part of the problem.  Standardized tests are not the solution to properly and professionally evaluate schools and staff.By definition, standardized tests are used by schools and school districts to compare a student’s performance to other students of the same age and grade and to compare schools and school districts.  It is also used to provide feedback to parents in the form of percentile ranks.  If your child scored at the 70th percentile, that means that she scored better than 70 percent of the students who took the same test.  Some school districts use these scores to determine promotion and to adjust curriculum and instruction protocols.

Standardized testing is convenient but not by any means comprehensive.  Hebert J. Walberg, writing in “Evaluating Educational Performance,”  states, “But we must avoid the error of equating what is most often measured or most conveniently measurable with what is most important in the environment and outcome domains.” 1

These high stakes tests are not comprehensive, offer a limited view of a learner’s capabilities and fall short of probing higher level thinking skills.

The State of Florida has tried to mitigate the pressure of using the results of one standardized test to evaluate teachers and school districts by examining standardized test results over a three year period.  This still does not solve the issue of realistic teacher or school evaluation.

Conclusion

Parents must get involved in their child’s education by becoming more informed and proactive. There will never be a sufficient number of outstanding teachers or administrators. Parents must be part of the equation if they want their children to succeed. Get started and become immediately more informed by reading books, and gathering information about your school district’s expectations and curriculum.

1 Herbert J. Walberg, Evaluating Educational Performance (CA: McCutchan 1974) p.2.

Dr. Casale is a state and national award winning educator and the author of numerous articles and essays on Education. His highly praised guide for parents, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Make Your Child a Success in School, is available in book stores, on Amazon.com and from his website, www.parentsfirst.biz.

Four Critical Back to School Priorities that Have Nothing to Do with Shopping

 

 

Four Critical Back to School Priorities That Have Nothing to Do with Shopping.

“First things first” ~Steven Covey-

The stores are mobbed and the sales are in full swing. The kids are hanging off the shopping carts, “Mom, I need this!”School supplies are rocketing off store shelves into shopping carts and eventually will land on the planet, School, in August or September. Newspapers are laden with ads for school supplies and TV commercials for school stuff dominate the commercials.

Gee, am I that ancient? I don’t remember my mom taking me to the store for supplies or even asking me what I needed. In those ancient times, all I needed was a pencil and some paper. And I think the teacher gave them to me. How did I get through school without a highlighter, a backpack, or a permanent marker?

Now, the vast array of required supplies includes so much more than pencils and paper and notebooks. Retractable highlighters, twistable crayons, clip boards, dry erase boards, shiny folders with graphics, three ring binders, pocket folders, back packs with wheels, thumb drives(what are those?) and much more, now comprise the grocery list of items that are the “must haves”.

Hey-you elementary kids -don’t forget to bring in your box of tissues. At the last school I taught in, the students in the fifth grade had to bring both tissues and zip lock bags. I’m not sure why. There was plenty of sneezing but I never used the zip lock bags. Maybe the used tissues were supposed to go into the bags. No one told me.

I am not even going to mention purchasing new clothes, the latest footwear, or newer and improved electronic hardware. Ouch!  Where’s my credit card?Is there a researched based connection between school supplies and school performance? Will Sarah and Jimmy suffer from brain freeze if they don’t possess retractable markers of every color? Are parents spending more time at the store and on-line rather than focusing on what should be their number one priority; converting their home into a learning palace?

One caveat to be noted throughout this essay is that no special skills are needed to accomplish your goals. What will be needed- in generous supply -are tough love, patience, courage, civility, accurate information, commitment, stamina, perseverance, and common sense. 

FOUR REAL PRIORITIES

Number one: A Family Mission Statement

Create a mission statement based on what your hopes, dreams, and expectations are for your child and your family. A concise mission statement provides focus, direction, and represents a guide for the behavior of the entire family. For example; “Our family mission is to create an environment in our home that will support the physical, emotional, and academic growth and development of all family members.

Our home will be characterized by: love, respect, kindness, responsibility, hard work, selflessness and perseverance.”  (KISS- Keep it short and simple) Write it on a poster board, hang it up and refer to it often. Modify when needed. Discuss your mission statement with the entire family and ask for input from all members. It may help if your pet also nods in agreement. While consensus is desired, it is not mandatory. At times-in your house hold- autocracy is better than democracy. When in doubt, parents have the final say. Somebody has to be in charge and it helps if it’s the adults.

NUMBER TWO-You Must Have a Plan

A mission statement without a plan of action is like one of those birthday balloons: It looks nice for a while, but eventually, it loses its air and usefulness.  A specific plan of action must be devised to accommodate the mission statement if you expect to be successful. The following list, though not comprehensive will get you started:

  • Fill your house with good books and all manner of interesting reading materials. (electronic devices for reading are acceptable)
  • Routines are a must. Around all the other stuff, schedule quiet times for homework and reading; no TV or entertainment electronics. Family reading time is an overt message to children that reading is a top priority and the entire family will adhere to this routine at least on every school night. Family dinners are critical as are scheduled bed times and morning routines.
  • Model expected behavior, model expected behavior

 

Number Three –Daily Family Discussions about School

Take time each day to discuss school, learning, and the school work being brought home. Select a time and a place that is convenient, quiet, and lacking in drama. It doesn’t have to occur at the same place or at the same time. Keep it short or go with the flow. My favorite place to talk quietly with anyone without interruption is in the car. Remain calm but persistent.

“How was school today?”

“OK”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing”

“Did you learn anything?”

“No”

Does this sound familiar? We have all been there. When this conversation occurs (I recommend that you avoid it altogether) proceed immediately to plan B. Ask more specific questions about specific subjects and people. Probe until she surrenders and has to tell you something about what was read, written, measured, experimented with, drawn, played, sung, eaten, or observed. Ask about teachers and friends. Get creative.

Often, one of the best starting points for a discussion is the work your child brings home. Ask questions, ask for clarification, and ask for explanations. Remain positive, civil, and calm. Additionally, know your child’s schedule and use it to spark a conversation. What did you do in PE today? What did you do in your computer class? What did you do at recess?

Number Four-Communicate Regularly with Teachers

Starting on the first day of school, beginning in kindergarten, expect to see the results of school work. In some situations, such as in primary grades K-2, you may receive daily examples of your child’s work. Weekly may be the norm in other grades but, the bottom line is parents need this information. And if they are not receiving it, parents must insist. Contact the teacher. This is a critical component that informs parents about progress.

Never wait for interim reports or report cards. Never become complacent even if you know that your child is doing well. Never hesitate to contact the teacher or school officials with questions, concerns, compliments, or clarifications. Again, civility rules. Remain positive and calm. Cooperation and collaboration are in your best interests. But your responsibility and commitment trump everything:  Be diligent.

 

“Knowledge is power and influence; being proactive increases both”

-James L. Casale

Conclusion

This brief article is merely an introduction to the priorities that must be maintained by parents if they want their child to succeed in school and life. Start with your expectations and a plan to turn your home into a learning fortress. Saturate it with good books and reading materials and talk about school and learning and expectations. Do not totally rely on teachers or other school officials. Be proactive.

“For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world”

– William Ross Wallace

About the Author –Dr. Casale is a state and national award winning educator and the author of Wise Up and Be the Solution; How to create learning culture at home and make your child a success in school.His book is available in book stores, amazon and on his website www.parentsfirst.biz. He is available as a speaker.

 

Is it the Gorilla’s Fault?

 A recent article in a local newspaper titled, The Shame of Parent Shaming, reveals a total lack of understanding about a parent’s first mission; the safety and security of your child. The author’s dismissive and flippant remark; “If it hasn’t happened to you, your parental helicopter must be low enough to clip the tops of trees.” proves the point.

The author continues to shield the parents of the three year old that fell into the Gorilla’s enclosure by recounting her own horrific experience when her 14 month old child, standing next to mom, slipped through the railings of a bridge and landed in the creek below. The good news regarding both incidents is that both children were rescued unharmed and returned safely to the arms of their parents. The bad news is that these incidents happen too often with tragic endings.

Losing track of your child near a potentially perilous situation is not to be taken lightly. In fact, if you are one of those parents who lost sight of your toddler in a supermarket or big box store, the potential for danger is real if the child wanders out into the parking lot. Speaking of parking lots, I have witnessed- on numerous occasions- the “la dee da” body language of parents who are not properly connected to their toddlers while strolling through parking lots.

A critical component of watching out for your child is the parent’s ability to assess possible harmful situations. Pools, parking lots, amusement parks, beaches, playgrounds, and zoos are examples of the locations where helicoptering is appropriate. Remember that the toddler’s world of suspecting and assessing danger does not exist. Parents are the first teachers and role models who are charged with protecting their children as well as teaching them about harmful situations.

Bad things happen when parents are not paying attention to their number one responsibility. Witness the number of children who are left to suffocate in cars because of the ignoramuses that are in charge. These stories and others tell the tale of neglect and abuse. Some outcomes are happy and some are tragic. But let’s not give these parents a pass because, as the author quotes one of her sources that, “Children are attracted to the forbidden and are the consummate escape artists.”  Even gorillas and mama bears know better than that.

James L. Casale, Ph.D

Dr. Casale is the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and make your child a success at school. It is available at book stores, on amazon and on Dr. Casale’s website, www.parentsfirst.biz. He is available as a speaker. Contact him at jcasale357@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Holidays and Family Time: What Are You Doing?

HOLIDAYS AND FAMILY TIME: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

One of my readers suggested this topic. She believes, as I do, that additional family time, even for working parents,presents itself during holiday weekends and extended seasonal celebrations that include Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a result, I couldn’t help thinking about what my wife and I would do differently if we knew then-in the 60s and 70s- versus what we know now.

First Things First

First of all, our goal of raising and teaching our children to be kind, compassionate, considerate, selfless, respectful, responsible and life-long learners would have been written as a family mission statement and posted in a conspicuous place in our home. It would guide our actions as a family. I feel comfortable saying that in “those days “we knew little but tried hard to raise our two children, James and Karen, in an environment that emphasized personal and academic growth. At that time, I had not yet formulated Dr. Casale’s First Commandment of Parenting:

“Thou shalt have a family mission statement that is posted in a conspicuous place and referred to often.”

(For more information on family mission statements, read chapters one and two in Dr. Casale’s book.)

Memorial Day Weekend

Since I am writing this on Memorial Day weekend, and my family has a long history of military service, I’ll start here. Holiday celebrations are rich opportunities for parents to set an example as teachers and role models.

Do not allow this significant day to pass without choosing one or more of the following activities 🙁 If you do, I’ll have to revoke your citizenship)

  • Check a book out from your local library that explains this sacred day. Read it together and discuss it.
  • Listen to a version of Taps. It’s most likely on YouTube.
  • Display your American flag.
  • Attend a Memorial Day Parade.
  • Check TV programming that focuses on Memorial Day and watch it together.
  • Send a card to a veteran who is confined to hospital and thank him or her for their service.
  • Get creative

Holidays are the perfect opportunities to learn and focus on others who are less fortunate rather than on yourself. These life lessons never end in our quest to become better people and better citizens. If you have children at home at any age, it’s not too late to increase quality family time and stay true to your mission. The selfless things you do during any holiday weekend or season are transferable to other holidays and other seasonal celebrations.

Dr. Casale is the author of the highly praised parenting book, Wise Up and be the Solution: How to create learning culture at home make your child a success in school. (Skyhorse Publishing,NYC) – Available at book stores, amazon and www.parentsfirst.biz

     Copyright: 28 May 2016 by James L. Casale, Ph.D.      

 

 

 

How Can Dads Contribute to Their Child’s Success?

When I write about parent involvement in their child’s education- becoming more knowledgeable and proactive- I am always addressing both parents. Dads must assume the critical and co-equal role of raising their child. Working full-time does not reduce the responsibility of partnering with your wife and being part of the team that is essentially a child’s first teachers and role models.

The changing family

Modern day families have evolved and changed, but not for the better. When I was growing up in ancient times, the typical family (not mine) was structured thus; mom stayed home and assumed the major responsibility of raising the kids. Dad worked all day and heard about “stuff” when he got home from work. There were few divorces, fewer single parents and out of wedlock babies were unheard of. 

Fast forward to the year 2000. Fewer than 25% of American households were made up of a married man and woman and one or more of their children. That is a decrease from 45% in 1960. Divorce rates continued to hover around 50% of all marriages. And about 1/3 of all babies were born out of wedlock. These statistics are alarming and represent the disintegration of the American family. The fallout is predictable. Teaching and guiding our future citizens is more difficult than ever. 

A new statistic

Statistics now back up the claim that when fathers read to their children, played with them and organized family activities, the children would be predisposed to have higher grades in school and later, successful marriages.

Researchers from Oxford University tracked 17,000 children for 40 years starting in 1958. “Kids, who grew up with an involved dad, were more likely to stay out of trouble, avoid drugs and premarital sex, and were less likely to have mental health issues.” These results were prevalent across all social classes.

According to Ann Buchannan, director of the Oxford University Research Center for Parenting and Children, story reading at an early age created a bond between dads and their children.

Four key areas for dad’s involvement

Eirini Flouri, a researcher from the National Child Development Study, explained the four key areas for dad’s involvement:

  1. Read to his child
  2. Took his child on outings
  3. Made education a priority
  4. Shared the management of the child equally with mom

While none of this is surprising, it emphasizes the importance and necessity of a proactive and dedicated dad who-along with mom- guides and nurtures his child.

This is not rocket science or neurosurgery. No special skills or college degrees are needed. What is needed is caring, knowledgeable and proactive dads who understand and accept their family obligations and act on them. Is there anything more important for a father than guiding and nurturing his children to become exemplary, caring, kind and respectful citizens of admirable character who love learning, their family and their country? 

It’s not easy

This is an ongoing process especially during the child’s formative years and beyond to adolescence. Raising children is not easy and every parent knows it. The requirements are: an abundance of love, common sense, patience, some basic knowledge and commitment to a plan that teaches, nurtures, and guides.

Raising a child is not women’s work; it’s mom’s and dad’s work. Don’t blame the schools or society for what you haven’t done or failed to do.

The role of first teacher and role model belongs to dad as well as mom. Love, lead and model your expectations.

Dr. Casale is the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and make your child a success at school. It is available at book stores, on amazon and on Dr. Casale’s website, www.parentsfirst.biz. He is available as a speaker. Contact him at jcasale357@gmail.com.

 

 

Empty Lots and Building Forts: Why Electronic Devices Suck!

 I never met David Gelernter in person. I became acquainted with him by way of several articles I read in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago. He is a respected professor of computer science at Yale University. I, on the other hand, am technologically challenged and of a different era but, we share a similar position when it comes to the use of electronics solely for entertainment and social purposes. I’ll let him explain,

“Many children will settle down with the latest iStuff, each like a happy dog with a big bone, and all those pads, pods, smartphones, videogame machines and computers look like good useful fun. But look again. We ought to group these machines with alcohol and adult movies. They’re fine for grown-ups but no good for children under 13 except for on-line learning when they are at home and simple cell phones when they go out.”Mr. Gerlertner also believes that that these digital toys represent a “mental purgatory” that harms a child’s ability to concentrate.

Professor Gelernter and I are in good company, namely, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP’s recommendations regarding the use of electronics for entertainment include: establishing a family use media plan, banning all electronics at mealtimes and after bedtimes, and eliminating TVs from children’s bedrooms. According to Marjorie Hogan, co-author of the AAP’s recommendations and a pediatrician, “Excessive media use is associated with obesity, poor school performance, aggression and lack of sleep. Do I have to even continue? OK, one more tidbit.

Even preschoolers are being rewarded with iPads.  A working parent told me recently that she bought an iPad for her kindergartner and he spent six hours on it in one day. Oh,he was not doing research. The mom also informed me that her child’s teacher informed her that James, not his real name, was not making as much progress as the other students in his kindergarten class. He was falling behind. I’m not sure what that means in kindergarten.

In ancient times, before these devices existed, parents usually plopped their kids down in front of the boob tube. This allowed mom some precious free time for mom. What free time?  You know, free time to clean up, do the wash, vacuum and take an aspirin for that impending headache. This was not the case in my house.

I spent most of my early childhood, the late 40s and 50s, growing up in suburban New York City as a latch key kid. I was not tempted or subjected to today’s electronic madness. We didn’t own our 12 inch black and white TV until 1953 and when we got one, the novelty wore off quickly. How much Howdy Doody could one watch?

Unlike my grandchildren , whose fixation on all things electronic are robbing them of precious time and adventures, I was lured to the outdoors by a neighborhood dotted with empty lots, a bunch of like-minded kids and a cornucopia of exciting adventures, games, activities and relationships yet to be discovered.

Each lot had a separate purpose. We used one for our pick-up tackle football games; one was our makeshift baseball field with,stones, coats, and hats as bases, and one special vacant lot where we built our fort using empty wooden vegetable boxes and any scrap metal, tar paper or debris we could find. This was our ultimate hiding place where we forged friendships, plotted activities, made up the rules for our games like stoop ball and stick ball and dreamed.

When we were not hiding out in our fort, we were playing games in one of our other lots, hunting frogs in a nearby brook(sorry PETA), riding our bicycles, flipping baseball cards,(oh, where are all those Mickey Mantle rookie cards?),

fending off my sister who wanted to hang around with us, and, in the winter, throwing snowballs at kids from other parts of the neighborhood, sleigh riding and ice skating.

I never had a set of Legos but, I do remember playing occasionally with Lincoln Logs. Boring!  What mattered most to me was being outside with my friends and making up stuff to do on the fly. These days too much time is spent indoors engaging in sedentary and often solitary electronic activities that seem to mesmerize and hypnotize kids away from the cool stuff like building forts.

Dr. Casale is the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and make your child a success at school. It is available at book stores, on amazon and on Dr. Casale’s website, www.parentsfirst.biz. He is available as a speaker. Contact him at jcasale357@gmail.com.