Tag Archives: education

7 things to consider when changing your child’s school

Now entering the fourth quarter, the school year is winding down. For many, the applications are out and the down payments have been made. Yet many parents are still agonizing over their options for next fall. With over 20 years experience in the four major types of educational institutions, I have put together some blogs that might be helpful if you are considering changing your child’s school to:

When considering a change in schools or reconsidering your present situation (something I did every school year–I asked Is this still accomplishing our goals for their educational, social, and moral/character development?) Keep in mind 7 important things to consider when changing your child’s school (even college):

  1. Change can be traumatic, too; be sure it’s worth it
  2. Experts can be helpful, especially if you sense a problem that’s psychological or learning-based
  3. Testing is not the enemy, although the wrong testing may send you in the wrong direction (not identity needs and abilities)
  4. Pray and trust your gut (and God); you know your child better than anyone
  5. You have 13 school years to get your child ready for college, adulthood, and the workforce, and the years go quickly. (Some children mature slower, but the school years are the same regardless.)
  6. College is about becoming an adult and laying a foundation for learning and specializing, more than it’s about picking a life’s career. I personally am most concerned with the spiritual climate (which doesn’t mean it’s a Christian climate; it just means that one exists where he can thrive).
  7. There’s no longer significant stigma attached to your child re-classing, repeating a grade, or starting school late because of intellectual or social development. Don’t rush a child into an experience that will negatively shape him. Instead, prepare him to be in an environment that challenges, encourages, and grows him, right where he is.

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Believe, love, learn: How thinking like a child could change your life

Thinking like a child could change your life.

What do I mean? Well, kids blurt out the truth. If your fly is unzipped, they will tell you. If your face is wrinkly, they will tell you. If their mom’s in the bathroom throwing up when you call, they will tell you.

They have sharp insight about what’s important in life, and they don’t mind asking the tough questions. Here are 3 profound truths we can incorporate into our thinking, straight from the mouths of first graders:

Little girl sitting at a wooden school desk.

YOU ARE SPECIAL.

“I have super powers. I attach fans and flashlights to myself. I put on gloves that I attach them to, and I put on a mirror that reflects the sun’s light. It gives me power.”–Harrison

(Concerning math sheet) “I don’t know why they call that ‘Higher Order Thinking.’ That was easy.”–Sarah

“Your hair looks like it did yesterday.”–Mandie;  “I didn’t have to comb it today.”–Eric

“Why are you wearing camouflage?”–Shelley; “I’m a redneck. Are you a redneck?”–Haley; “I don’t know. What’s a redneck?”–Shelley; “Do you live near the woods?”–Haley; “Yes.”–Shelley; “Then you’re a redneck.”–Haley

Embrace who God made you to be, and be the best version of yourself! You are special, you were created for a unique purpose, and you have contributions to your world that only you can make. You really do have super-powers. Maybe someone just told you to take off the gloves and flashlights a while back, so you did. Try putting those special powers back on. Decide to think: Anything is possible! You have amazing things still to do.

YOU ARE LOVED.

“We need to pray for my mom. She has a headache all the time.”–Mikey, the class’s most ADHD child

“My mom used to be a lawyer. Then she gave it up to have me.”–Joel

“My mom comes home from her trip tomorrow. My Daddy did not sign my book because Daddy is not a very good signer.”–Caroline

A first grader’s world revolves around mom: how she acts, what she says, and how she makes her son or daughter feel inside. All parents have the enormous responsibility to render their children content, safe, confident, and happy. This truth leaves me with 2 challenges, which I feel compelled to embody. The challenges for me today are as follows:  1) Do I make people feel loved? and 2) Have I thanked someone lately for how he/she has loved me? Turns out, I can spread love as easily as I can hoard it. Think Who can I love today that needs it? instead of Who around here loves me? The second thought belongs to a martyr, and little children haven’t figured out that strategy yet.

YOU CAN LEARN.

“Teacher, I have something to tell you.”–Lee

“At storytime, you give us a piece of candy so we will sit quietly and listen.”–Thomas

During reading groups: “My stomach hurts. I think I’m sick.”–Ronnie; “Do you want to lie down in the nurse’s room?”–me; “Yes.”–Ronnie; “We’re going to recess in a few minutes. If you’re sick, you can’t go and play.”–me; “Never mind. I feel better.”–Ronnie

“Next year, when I have my birthday party, I can invite a teacher. I’m going to invite you!”–Rachel

“If everyone has a clean desk, the Desk Fairy comes and leaves candy in our desks!”–Amanda

Learning is exciting. Just ask any young child. But somewhere, between first grade and middle school, some children decide they aren’t that special, they can’t achieve their dreams, and that learning is difficult. They stop believing, they stop loving, and they stop learning. They stop changing into the people they were meant to be.

Don’t let that happen to you, even if your face is already wrinkly.

Carpe diem. Choose to believe, love, and learn. Life is beautiful, and it only comes around once.

 

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

image from http://www.crestock.com

How to Fix Your Writing

Wonder how to fix your writing? Want to start writing letters and proposals that don’t sound juvenile?

I’ve been teaching writing for 26 years, and I’ve noticed that people make the same kinds of mistakes, whether they are writing a paragraph, a story, or a research paper. Age doesn’t matter, either, because most people were never taught how to write well.

You probably muddled through school and convinced yourself you’d never need to write again once you graduated from high school or college. Basic writing skills would be good enough.

Now you know better. Since then, you have found yourself attempting to craft newsletters, emails, job applications, presentations, summaries, thank you notes, recommendations, and critiques. You know that writing well can make the difference in getting a promotion, helping your child land a scholarship, or making an important contact. And if you go back to graduate school–well, just forget about being a mediocre writer. Mediocre is not good enough.

Is it too late to improve your writing?

Never. I’m confident that anyone can improve. I have witnessed countless terrible writers become good writers by incorporating the following advice. Here are the most common, simple mistakes I see in adult and teen writing:

Too many “be” verbs or passive verbs. Use action verbs instead. Limit passive and “be” verbs to 3 per page. Instead of saying He was really tired or Joe had become tired by working for 12 hours, write Joe worked for 12 hours before falling asleep on the couch.

Run-on sentences. If your complete thoughts are connected with and without a comma before the and, you have a run-on. For example, Rhonda made her bed and then she hung up her clothes. (Put a comma after bed.)

Lack of a thesis statement or main idea. Tell the reader your purpose for writing in the first paragraph (main idea). You are writing to persuade, inform, critique, complain, define, compare, etc. Express up front what you intend to communicate and clarify how you will present your perspective. That’s how people understand. Example: We can make the necessary staffing decisions by addressing the applicants’ qualifications, recommendations, and personal goals.

Disorganized thoughts. Always make a quick outline before you present information or reasons, and make sure everything you say supports your thesis. If your information is not presented logically, others will not follow your train of thought.

Misspelled words. In case you didn’t know, spell-check doesn’t catch all your mistakes. Look up any word you’re unsure about. Spelling does matter in the real world.

Confusing or missing antecedents. Don’t use a pronoun (like I, they, those, that, he, it) if the noun it’s replacing (called the antecedent) is not obvious. Also make sure the pronoun is the same number as the noun it refers to (they should not replace America, for instance, because they is plural, and America is singular).

Incorrect pronoun usage. Every personal pronoun has a case, either possessive, nominative/subjective, or objective. Its usage in a sentence depends on its case. Subjective pronouns are subjects; objective pronouns are objects (DO, IO, OP). For instance, “Me and Ben are going” is incorrect, just like “come with Ben and I” is also incorrect.

Trite words. Many words have been so over-used in English that they should never be used in writing. Examples are very, really, too, so, awesome, perhaps, maybe. 

Delayed subjects. Sentences are most clear when the subject and verb occur together, early in the sentence. But if the subject and verb are preceded by a long or confusing phrase or clause, comprehension is also confused. (Did you see what just happened there? You had to wait until the end of the sentence to find out the point.) Also, don’t start a sentence with Here is or There are. Both scenarios necessitate that the subject follows a be verb later in the sentence.

Apostrophe errors. The pronouns its, yours, his, hers, and theirs NEVER take apostrophes. They are already possessive without the apostrophe. The pronoun it’s is a contraction for it is, so make sure you use it correctly.

Start fixing these problems, and your writing will improve immediately. Good luck! Your comments and questions are also appreciated–I’m also happy to give more examples to help you understand! In future posts, I’ll address how to improve style and structure. Leave comments and questions in the box below.

Enjoy writing!