Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Get a Better Report Card (and lead a happier life)


It’s that most wonderful time of the year…report card time!

I jest, of course. Report card time is often a stressful time for children, teachers, and parents alike.

After report cards come home, the question parents most often ask is, “What can I do at home to help my child?”

They think the answer is going to be complicated and involve expensive tutoring support. And sometimes these things are necessary.

But in many cases, there are some simple (free) things you can do at home that will make a positive difference in the classroom. They aren’t based on rocket science and they’ve been proven time and time again by people way smarter than me (people like scientists and psychologists).  They don’t just help kids get better grades…they help them to become healthier, happier people. And in the end, that’s really what we want, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that these suggestions are designed for parents of elementary school children. Once your child hits middle school, you want to have good habits and attitudes ingrained.

  1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Get the TV and the game system out of their bedroom. If they have a phone, have them turn it off and leave it in the kitchen at bedtime. You want your child to have a restful sleep so they are ready to learn once they get to school. Kids can’t focus on learning when they are tired.
  2. Get your child to school on time. It’s disruptive to everyone when kids arrive late. And it’s often the same kids who arrive late every day. I get it. You’re saying, “Oh, but it’s just so hard to get out the door on time.” Uh, yes, it can be. But you need to make it a priority. By consistently allowing your  child to be late, you are teaching them that punctuality is not important when it is.
  3. Help your child with personal hygiene issues. Check them out before they leave the house. (I often do the sniff test with my kids.) Body odor, dirty clothes, bad breath, basically anything that involves bad smells, is going to make your kid a social pariah and a target for bullies.
  4. Teach your child that everyone has strengths and challenges. Your child may be good at math but struggle with reading or vice versa or both. Make sure they know that this in no way measures their worth as a human being or anyone else’s worth, for that matter.
  5. On that note, make sure your child understands that neither their self-worth and nor your love is tied to a grade on their report card. Remember: no one will be checking their grade four math mark when they are applying for college or their first job.
  6. Teach your children that popularity comes with both power and responsibility. If your child has been blessed with a leader-like personality, help her to use this power for good, not for evil.
  7. Keep an eye on what your child hears, sees and reads. There is a reason movies and video games have ratings. Movies that are rated R are not for children. Video games that are rated mature are not for children. Grow a spine and say no.
  8. Sexy lingerie is not for little girls, it’s for grown women. Even though they make thongs and lacy bras for the pre-teen set doesn’t mean you have to buy them. It’s not cute…it’s wrong. Same goes for Playboy t-shirts and sweatpants that have “Juicy” written across the butt. If she begs, see #8 for advice.
  9. Healthy food makes for healthy minds and bodies. If your child is coming to school already jacked up on a sugar-fueled breakfast (or worse, no breakfast) we are already at a disadvantage.
  10. Finally, don’t trash your child’s teacher in front of your child. The fact is, unless you can negotiate a class change, your child and his teacher will be spending more daytime hours together than the two of you. Be part of a team – your child’s team.


Pop Culture, Princess, Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

Sticks and Stones…Why words can hurt us

There are a lot of things I don’t understand, like people’s love of scotch (it tastes like cleaning oil), physics, and the public fascination with US uber-conservative and lawyer, Ann Coulter. This woman is a nasty piece of work. I can only imagine that she must have suffered some terrible pain in her lifetime that has made her dead inside to the feelings of others. Recently , Ms. Coulter tweated that she approved of Governor Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the “retard” during the third presidential debate. Seriously?!

Despite on-line condemnation from everyone everywhere, including Special Olympian John Franklin Stephens, Ms. Coulter defended her choice of words a week later on the Piers Morgan show. She said she wasn’t insulting people with mental challenges; she was insulting the president. She said she chose the word “because it’s a synonym for ‘loser.’” Seriously…again?! That doesn’t make it better!!!

But she’s right. The term ‘retard’ is most often used as an insult and it’s used because it implies that the person being insulted is not smart and a loser. But the part that Ms. Coulter seems to have missed is that’s why it’s not used by polite, caring society anymore. That’s why newscasters and reporters are referring to it as the ‘r-word’; because, it dehumanizes people with mental disabilities, therefore making it OK to abuse them.

And that’s the problem with words – they can be used to dehumanize others so that we can abuse them without any fear of guilt. On a global scale, it’s what the Nazis did when they rounded up the Jews. They dehumanized them making it OK for their soldiers to torture and kill them. On a smaller scale, this is also what happens with bullying. Call a girl a “slut” and it’s a lot easier to make fun of her and victimize her. Call a boy a “gay loser” and it’s a lot easier to beat him up and say hateful things about him. These people become “things” and not human beings anymore.

This thinking goes beyond hatred and moves into contempt. It means that you consider someone worthless or inferior to you. Once you don’t care about something, you are free to be as cruel as you want without fear of guilt, empathy, compassion or sympathy. In her book, Just because it’s not wrong, doesn’t make it right, Barbara Coloroso quotes Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire on how the world was able to ignore the genocide in Rwanda. He said that with silent indifference, the international community endorsed, “the ethical and moral mistake of ranking some humans as more human as others.”

So, Ms. Coulter, when you use the ‘r-word’ and say that you only did so because, in your mind, it’s a synonym for loser, I believe you. But if your end goal was to dehumanize the president so that we would all join you in your campaign of contempt, I think you missed the boat there. The only person dehumanized by this exchange was you.

The only conclusion I can reach is that we are in desperate need of a transfusion of humanity. If we believe that all humans are human, then how are we going to prove it? We can only prove it through our actions. Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.