I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of making New Year's resolutions. Resolutions are so lofty and grand. It's like standing at the base of Yosemite's Half Dome and looking straight up the vertical side - breathtaking, but intimidating! I'd much rather make New Year's goals, which may suggest that I could take smaller steps towards the finish line, perhaps even admiring the vistas along the way!
One day, I may venture out with my family and hike up Half Dome (check out the Earth Trekker's step-by-step guide), but one mountain that I'm currently facing is parenting - a formidable challenge in and of itself. With my own children being 11 and 8 years of age, I may be half-way to parenting them into adulthood...but then again, the pre-teen years loom just ahead! Fortunately, I've received many helpful parenting books from those wiser and more experienced than myself. My own dog-eared, highlighted, and tabbed copies of these books have directed me through many tough situations with my children and have proven to be trusty guides for my middle school students time and time again. Here are my favorite parenting books.
The Five Love Languages of Children
by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
The Five Love Languages - Words of affirmation, Acts of service, Receiving gifts, Quality time, and Physical touch. I never considered the idea that I receive and communicate love in a particular "love language", while my children also have their own unique and distinct love language which may be different from mine. This insightful book helped me to identify how to communicate my love effectively to my children so I could connect with them. Chapman also has a Marriage and a Teen version of the book.
Loving Your Kids on Purpose
by Danny Silk
The goal of good parenting is to work yourself out of a job. While young children are dependent on parents for immediate needs, parents are simultaneously training children to be independent adults. Danny Silk clearly illustrates what this transition looks like and how to help your child adopt internal discipline, seek healthy relationships, and establish a clear purpose for their life.
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
by Adele Feber and Elaine Mazlish
There are so many times when I have felt like I've told my kids to do something, maybe for a gazillion-billion times and yet, they don't listen! This book gives many illustrations and scenarios where empathetic and non-judgmental phrases can help your child to articulate their feelings, invite them to cooperate, and guide them to find solutions to conflicts.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens
by Sean Covey
Sometimes, kids just need a little direction on how to develop good habits. The seven habits outlined by Covey are 1) Be proactive, 2) Begin with the end in mind, 3) Put first things first, 4) Think Win-Win, 5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 6) Synergize, and 7) Sharpen the Saw. Once adopted, these habits help form a framework which will guide kids to be happy and have a positive outlook in life. Covey also has a Kids version of the book.
What Teens Need to Succeed
by Peter Benson, Judy Galbraith, and Pamela Espeland
The Search Institute has identified 40 Developmental Assets which are skills, values and resources that kids need in order to be successful in life. To help identify which developmental assets to build up, use the checklist provided. Then, read relevant chapters to learn how to build assets which empower kids to self-reflect, identify problems, plan for their future, decide their direction, and make a difference in the world around them.
For all of you who made goals to be more aware of your parenting style and more proactive in meeting your child's needs, AND maybe you also made a goal to read more books this year, consider reading one of these books as a BONUS 2-for-1 towards accomplishing your New Year's goals!
Happy parenting and happy reading, Friends!
When I was in elementary school, I looked forward to getting book orders from my teacher. I intently looked at the pictures of each book cover and eagerly read each book description. I loved feeling the coarse, cheap newsprint pages in my hand. Though the pages were thin, they held a world of possibilities! I couldn't wait to read the book I selected. Imagine my glee to find that my own kids get book orders from Scholastic through their teacher's class! Without hesitation, I order books for my kids and have found the whole exercise to be a great value for only $3.34! So what are some of the enduring qualities and life lessons that children can learn from ordering books, you ask? Well, friends, you won't believe how many there are!
1. Children Will Be Empowered
Check this out - Tell your kids they have the freedom to choose any book they want from the monthly book flyer, then pause and wait for their reaction. No doubt, you will see their minds blown as their eyes start to widen and mouths drop! You could almost see those gears working inside of their minds! Giving your children the freedom of choice will make them feel powerful and you can bet they will accept the responsibility to choose a book wisely. However, there are a couple of parameters that I set for my kids - Just 1 book. And they have a budget of $5.00. Now watch as the learning fun unfolds!
2. Children Will Read and Re-read
In their search for THE ONE book that they will order, they will read the book flyer from cover to cover several times. Never, ever will you see your kids read anything in such earnest. Ever.
3. Children Will Learn to Evaluate
While reading and re-reading their book flyer, your kids will be exercising higher order thinking skills. They will read each book description and decide whether or not they are interested in that book. Would it be worth their one book choice or not? Ask them to circle or list all the books they are interested in purchasing within the $5 budget.
4. Children Will Learn to Budget
Yes, there's a math lesson in this exercise! Kids will be trained to consider the cost of books. Is the cost of this book more or less than $5? They will learn that some purchases are beyond what they can afford and they will learn to make choices within their means - A valuable life lesson that will stick with them well into adulthood. If a particular book is too expensive, look to see if it is at the library and request it. If not, put that book title on their birthday or Christmas wish list!
5. Children Will Learn to Prioritize
Once your kids have listed books they are interested in buying that is within the $5.00 limit, have them rank the book titles in order of their "#1 Must Have" choices all the way down to their last choice. This will be difficult, but do not let them have two book titles in the same rank order. They will need to make a decision and stick with it.
6. Children Will Learn to Defend Their Position
Have your kids share their prioritized book list with you. Ask them why a particular book interests them, or why their top choice book would be a great addition to their personal library. Having a conversation like this will give insight into your child's interests and you will build important connections with your child.
7. Children Will Learn Delayed Gratification
Once a book selection has been approved and the book order has been submitted to the teacher, kids will have to learn how to wait. And wait. And wait. The anticipation of receiving their book will make them treasure their book even more.
Wait! What about the $3.34?!
Friends, here's the best part - Order the Book Allowance Coupon Booklet. There's $15.00 worth of books that you buy for $10.00. You only pay $3.34 for each coupon, but you can spend up to $5.00 for each book per order. That's a significant savings! After your kids have gone through all the lessons I shared above, you'll agree that ordering a book will be the best $3.34 you've ever spent, too.
***Tip - Kids in grades K-2 have a book budget limit of $5.00. When they get to 1st grade, I let my kids order books with a combined value of $5,00, which means, for example, they can buy a book which costs $1.00 and another for $4.00. When my kids get to grades 3-5, book budget limit increases to $7.00. When they get to 5th grade, they can defer their monthly book order budget and save it for the next month, allowing them a $14.00 budget.
***More tips - Want some more practical strategies on how to help your kids with reading and writing? Check out one of my up-coming workshops. Read up on workshop descriptions here and register here. See you soon!
Back-To-School time is like a second chance at a new year's resolution! For many parents, back-to-school time brings about a renewed sense of hope and determination that your elementary school-aged kids will explore new adventures in books. With so many options and topics to read, however, knowing how and where to find the right book for your child could be quite daunting! Here are a few suggestions that will help make selecting books a painless and pleasurable process.
1. Make reading part of your routine.
Get a library card for your children. Go to the library regularly. Visit the local book store and buy a book signed by the author. Get books from book orders to add to their personal library. The more kids are exposed to books, the more interest they will cultivate for reading.
2. Let kids choose books that they are interested in reading.
If the ultimate goal regarding reading is that your kids actually enjoy reading, then you need to let your kids read the books they want to read. Don't be tempted to force a book selection or book title onto your kids and turn this into a power struggle. Reading will not be a pleasurable activity and your children will just learn to resent it.
Often times, a child will gravitate towards a particular book or a series of books which is not necessarily to your liking. You may find yourself thinking, "Why is my daughter reading that silly book?" or "I know my son can read books that are at a higher level." Speaking from personal experience, your son or daughter's reading level may or may not match their maturity level. Just be patient and let them continue reading for pleasure. They will soon tire of their current obsession and realize that there are many more books to discover!
With that said, there are still ways to encourage your kids to explore new books. Show your kids how to be open-minded. Suggest that they select one book that they really like and another book they would be willing to try. As they peruse the bookshelves, they will look at the book cover, read the description on the back, and perhaps read a couple sample pages. This will help your kids consider a different genre and help them broaden their perspectives.
3. Discover new books by theme or topic.
As a parent, I try to have my kids read books that teach values that are important to my family. Topics and themes presented in books create the perfect opportunity to have open conversations with my kids. What new topic might your discover with your kids? Here are some handy reading lists.
Diversity and Multiculturism
Overcoming Fear and Adversity
Charity and Community Service
Learning About Economic Class
Friends, did you know that you can use conversations during meal time or even time spent riding in the car to help your kids improve reading comprehension? Let me show you the key questions to ask your kids. I am offering a couple of workshops that will share some reading comprehension tips with you. Come to one of my reading comprehension workshops!
For inspiration and helpful tips on parenting, check out my other blogs on GenParenting.com!