Category Archives: Children

You Don’t Need Preschool for Your Kids

You know how negative I am about anything having to do with preschool, daycare, or any of that.  We’re raising children here.  If you don’t want your kids around, I guess you could use preschool and daycare for that.  If you don’t want to program your life around your kids, you’ll use preschool and daycare to help you.  If you know you are a really crappy parent, you can use them too.  If you are in dire straits and don’t have another option right now (temporarily), I guess you’ll use them.  There are many reasons to use preschool and daycare, but many of them can’t and shouldn’t be supported.

A recent article I read (entitled “Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School“) reported new research showed that trying to “teach” kids at younger and younger ages backfires.  Anxious parents are so eager that their child “gets ahead” that they’ve even taken to reading books to babies still in the womb.  Teachers are pressured to make kindergartens and nursery schools more like school, and even the “No Child Left Behind Act” urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools.

But direct instruction actually limits a young child’s ability to learn.  Teaching allows kids to learn specific things, but they need more opportunities for exploration and play so they can “discover” on their own.  They need a Mommy and a Daddy to give them a stable, supportive home and lots of love.

Head Start has always been a failure.  I knew it was a failure back in the 1960s.  And now, one study shows that 75% of mothers hand their iPhones over to their kids, thinking that will make them smarter.  App makers are marketing directly to parents who are looking to help their children as young as 4 months old get a head start on learning.  If you type in “toddler” and “educational” into the App Store, you’ll find more than 800 apps specifically marketed to children under the age of 3.  One town in Maine is spending $200,000 on iPads for its entire incoming kindergarten class.  So the question is, do iPads or smartphones or toddler-marketed apps really make young kids smarter?

The bottom line?  NO.  In fact, the American Association of Pediatrics says children under the age of 2 should not be seeing anything on a screen of any kind, whether it’s an iPhone or a television set.

Parents are too often looking for that edge to make their children the smartest.  The most important thing you can do as a parent is interact with your child.  You do not need an iPad or fancy software or a preschool or a daycare to make your child learn.  They do it every day, all day, in many different ways.  Let kids just be kids.

Vote for Non-Union, Single-Sex Classrooms

New York City recently issued a progress report on the difference between non-union and union charter schools.  The 49 non-union charter schools operating in New York City significantly outperform the charter schools whose teachers operate under a contract negotiated by the United Federation of Teachers, which puts a stranglehold on what the school can do.  Non-union charter schools earned an overall average score that converts to a B-.  The union charter schools’ average was nearly 10 points behind the non-union schools, earning these schools an average grade of C-.  In each of the three categories in which the schools were graded (attendance, student efficiency rates, academic progress or improvement on New York State English, Language Arts, and Math exams), the non-union charter schools outperformed the UFT-represented charter schools.

We ought to drop-kick the unions out of our schools.  The unions are not there to make sure your kids get a good education.  The unions are there as a political bully group and money-making apparatus.

I’ve said it a zillion times and will continue saying it whenever given the opportunity:  in addition to non-union schools, our children should also be educated in single-sex classrooms.  Simply putting girls in one room and boys in the other is not the point.  In fact, there have been public schools which did just that, and had everything happen the same as usual.  That gives you a bad outcome.  The idea of the single-sex education format is it creates opportunities that don’t exist in the co-ed classroom.  Teachers can employ strategies in the all-boys classroom and in the all-girls classroom which don’t work well or at all in the co-ed classroom.  So, the teachers need appropriate training in professional development.

In parts of Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa and Illinois there has been a dramatic improvement in grades and test scores after adopting single-sex classrooms, but that’s because they did more than just put the girls in separate rooms.  In each of the schools examined, teachers received training in practical gender-specific classroom strategies and the best practices for gender-separate classrooms.  Researchers at Stetson University in Florida completed a three-year pilot project comparing the single-sex classrooms with co-ed classrooms at a particular elementary school.  Students in the fourth grade were assigned to either single-sex or co-ed classrooms.  All other relevant parameters (class size, teacher training, etc.) were matched.  Here’s how it came out:

 Boys in co-ed classes:  37% scored “proficient.”
 Boys in single sex classes:  86% scored “proficient”
 Girls in co-ed classes: 59% scored “proficient”
 Girls in single-sex classes: 75% scored “proficient”

What’s interesting is, when they do the training, you see a whole difference in how the boys’ classrooms and the girls’ classrooms look.  For example, in the boys’ classrooms, you’ll see boys all over the room.  They often have music on, they’re given something to do with their hands and they’re given individual projects.  In the girls’ classrooms, they’re all sitting there lined up, sweet, compliant, and listening.  Girls and boys are different.  Boys bounce off walls and do much better when you don’t constrain them to a seat.  When some of the boys were in co-ed classrooms, they were labeled as “learning disabled” or with ADHD.  Many of the boys who scored “proficient” in the single-sex classroom had previously been labeled as having ADHD.

The proof is there.  At minimum, there’s no distraction in single-sex classrooms.  But you’ve got the ACLU, the National Organization of “I Don’t Know What Kind of” Women, the American Association of University Women and other groups jumping up and down screaming that this is some kind of discrimination.  This kind of blind, ignorant hysteria is really annoying because it doesn’t speak to the needs of the children.

So, in non-unionized charter schools, kids do better.  Single-sex classrooms, where the teachers are specifically trained to deal with how girls and boys learn are superior.  If you don’t have access to those, then try homeschooling.  Notice how you teach your sons and daughters differently, because you know how to get their attention, and it’s different with each gender.  The little girls are just dying to please, and the little boys are bouncing off the walls.  They don’t have to be ADHD to bounce off the walls.  They just have to be male.

Bullies CAN Be Stopped!

If it seems to you that bullying is getting worse, you’re right.  It seems to be happening at earlier ages, with more frequency, and now we’ve got “cyberbullying” so the entire universe can get in on humiliating someone.  This is not just about kids – “poop” rolls downhill and kids are the last stop.

If you look at our society, you can hardly find a place where there isn’t bullying.  Kids hear about the drug cartels coming into the United States and being in the hills in Arizona and other places bullying and threatening others. 

I also made a decision recently.  My decision is it will be extremely rare for me to ever be interviewed on television again, because it’s mostly a format for bullying.  When I started out 35 years ago, and you were invited to a TV show, basically, they wanted to learn something from you, so they’d ask questions to get information.  There are almost no journalists left – because TV is basically a pulpit for bullying.  Talk radio has become that too.  The tons of yelling and screaming and name-calling and beating people up who can’t defend themselves is just standard.  Then there’s music – the music that many young people listen to is ugly, mean and threatening.  Look at the videos – they’re all “macho:” threatening, mean or hyper-sexed, or hyper-sexed and threatening and mean.  There’s hardly a place kids can turn.  It’s become abusive.  Our society is largely abusive, so I’m not surprised that we’re seeing kids acting it out. Our kids are a product of this culture, which has gone to hell in a handbasket, in my opinion.

I have a bunch of statistics about this stuff, and then I’m going to tell you what will stop all the bullying.  Unfortunately, I don’t think what will stop bullying will ever actually happen.  Here are some eye-opening facts:

  1. The top 5 states for school bullying are California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington.
  2. 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally, and physically, and half of these incidents go unreported, because nothing happens if it is.
  3. Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on a playground.  Adult intervention?  Only FOUR PERCENT of the time.  No intervention? More than 85% of the time.
  4. 46% of the males and 26% of the females reported that they had been in physical fights, according to school bullying stats.  Keep in mind this is not conflict, yet they keep introducing “conflict resolution” into schools.  There IS no conflict in a bullying situation.  There’s a bully and a victim.  Only one of them has aggression in mind.  In a conflict, both of them do.
  5. Bullying is the most common form of violence in our society.
     

The impact on the victims is horrible.  In middle school, I was bullied because a mother was an immigrant – a legal immigrant, but that didn’t matter.  I got bullied anyway.  A couple of times I got into a fist fight when someone called my mother a name, but it was nothing like it is now. 

So they tell kids if they’re a victim, avoid the perpetrator; avoid areas where there are no teachers around (only 4% of them intervene anyway, so what’s the point); never go into the locker room or bathroom by yourself, sit in the front of the bus, and on and on.

What the hell is this?  Telling a little kid that he or she has to be completely paranoid? 

Hell no!  You need to take them to martial arts and teach them self-defense.  All children should learn self-defense.  One thing bullies of any level enjoy is that good people tend to be total wusses.  Frightened, passive wusses at that.  So teach your kids to stand up for themselves and other people.

I want to go back to those numbers about people who intervene – 85% of the time no one intervenes, and 4% of the time someone intervenes (I’m not sure what the other 11% do).  Usually, other kids just stand by.  That’s why there are bullies. You can say all you want, but bullies aren’t important because they’ve done good deeds or are the best students in the class.  They’re important because they’re considered dangerous.  And the reason there are bullies is because other people do nothing, so they get even more dangerous.

Bullying would stop if the kids who stand by are taught by their parents to intervene, whether physically or verbally.  Bullies need to be shown they’re not getting the fear or the respect they think they have (in their own minds of course).  But I know this will never happen. 

Do you raise your kids to take on “pieces of garbage” bullies?  I bet not.  It’s the job of each one of us to stand between evil and the innocent, but that’s not how we bring up our kids, is it? 

I’ve said many times:  “You don’t swim with the sharks and you don’t feed the sharks.”  So the reason bullying will continue to grow is because we’re producing more “piece of garbage” kids, we defend them, protect them, show sympathy for them, and don’t stop them.  So I’m not surprised bullying is growing – that’s all kids see around them. 

Teach your kids how to defend themselves physically and how to be stronger against verbal nonsense, while teaching them to pound the heck out of bullies one way or another.  Report them.  Reward kids who report them.  Reward kids who stop them.  It’s time we started rewarding people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect someone else instead of just saying “Oh, we have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy here,” which only forces people into not responding.

Moms Have Some Control Over Rise in Childhood Obesity

A good two-thirds of our population is fat or obese and that also goes for our kids..  Fat and obese.  And there is more and more evidence coming out as to why.  Poor eating habits, poor activity habits, and not genetics are the underlying causes for adolescent obesity according to a new study in the American Heart Journal.

In 1980, 6.5% of US children, from 6 – 11 were considered obese.  That rose 20% by 2008. 

Only one third of all kids were reported as exercising a minimum of 1/2 hour for 5 days during the prior week.  Do you realize…only one third of all kids were reported as exercising only 1/2 hour for 5 days.  What is that?  Kids don’t need to exercise — they need to go out and play.  Formal exercise is not necessary.  They need to go out and play. 

Obese kids were less likely than non-obese kids to participate in regular exercise.  No kidding — don’t you love research like that?  A lack of sleep is linked to obesity.  Giving babies solid food too early is linked to obesity later on, except if kids are breast fed for a minimum of four months.  Breast feeding seemed to fix that.

The most important part of this study is the part that gets people mad.  Well, it gets moms mad.  Children’s chances of becoming fat rises the longer mothers work outside the home.  Weight problems among children have soared in the past 3 decades as more women have joined the workforce. 

A consortium of researchers at American University examined the relationship between kids’ weight and mothers’ work schedules and what factors about a woman’s work might contribute to fat kids.  They used data from 990 school-aged children in the study of early childhood and youth development.  The longer the woman worked, the higher the likelihood her kids would be fat. 

 I’ve gotten so many calls from moms upset their overweight kids, are getting razzed at school about being fat or obese.  And they want everybody to stop commenting on it.  My suggestion is to make sure your family is not fat or obese anymore and the comments will stop!  It’s a voluntary condition. 

Just do this little bit of anecdotal research:  go to any restaurant (lunchtime in particular).  Look at the thin people and see what they order.  Look at the fat people and see what they order.  By and large (pun intended) you will literally see why one is heavy and one is not.  Last week, I went to a family-style restaurant and I got myself a salad.  Salads can be very fattening if you put on dressing, so I always have the dressing on the side and take a little on the fork and drizzle it around..  I always get salads that have a little fruit in them because that keeps it moist.  And I look over at the next table and what do I see? A huge cheeseburger and French Fries.  I couldn’t believe it in this day and age. 

But the main problem children have is the inattention of their mothers, because their mothers are burning the candle from one end to the other and all along the middle.  Because women have been bullied by the feminist mentality, they no longer believe  being a mother and a wife and a homemaker is an adequate thing for anybody to do.

So they have full-time jobs, kids and a husband.  They can’t adequately take care of their kids to make sure they exercise and eat right.  I think it was 60% of what people spend on food these days is spent on fast food.  Well fast food tastes good because it’s high in sugar, salt and fat.  That’s what makes it taste good.

So when you think  “oh that piece of fish is so buttery,” it is!  God didn’t make that fish that way.  Whoever is in the back with the chef’s hat did it..  Yet mommies aren’t taking care of their families.  They are too busy feeling they should work or they are meaningless human beings.  They don’t feel like shopping and cooking fresh dinners for their kids.  And the whole family is sedentary because everybody is tired. 

So kids are fat.  And yeah, it’s primarily mom.  Sorry, I’m a woman.  I’m looking at this and remember that I always made sure we had proper food.  As far as exercise; my kid was always up and out and running.  That’s what kids should be doing. 

I am frustrated so many of you women have underestimated your importance.  What studies like this show is how important you are to the well-being and health of your children.  Being told you can dump them in day care and just shove any kind of food and put them into bed and that’s it, as long as there is money in the tiller, belies the fact that you’re really very necessary for their health and welfare, happiness, structure, religion –  all of this.  We call it “Mommy Power.”  And so many women are willing to give up mommy power for some job, for some money.  Even in this economy, it is very important we take care of ourselves as a family. 

Helicopter vs. Free-Range Parenting

I read an article from England last week about “free-range vs. helicopter” parenting.  According to the article, helicopter parents wrap their “children in cotton wool,” and free-range parents “give [their] offspring a bus pass and mobile phone and [let] them go for it.  One of the questions raised was “Should a three-year-old be allowed to risk possible (but unlikely) injury climbing to the top of the spider web in the playground?”

For myself, I’d say ‘yeah.’  Stand underneath or stand close and let them climb.  The worst that can happen is that they get a “boo boo.”  Especially if they’re boys, they need to do this stuff.  I don’t see that as either free-range or helicoptering.  Kids have to explore the world and sometimes they’re gonna get hurt.  My theory is if you have a kid who hasn’t broken a bone by the time he or she is 18, something is wrong. 

United States mother and controversial journalist Lenore Skenazy sparked a global outcry a few years ago when she left her 9 year old son in a Manhattan department store with instructions on how to find his way home on the subway, and then wrote about it.  The author of “Free-Range Kids” was labeled “America’s worst mother.”  I would have had her arrested for putting her child in danger.  Yet her reasoning behind her actions was part of her call for parents to raise safe and self-reliant children.  Well, unless they’re carrying a gun or are 5th degree blackbelts, that’s kind of silly. 

I decided to check out some of the information floating around the internet, and after looking at a lot of the numbers, here’s my conclusion:

Anybody who tells you that being a helicopter mom is stupid and suffocating should be sneered at.  The world is very different than what it was when we grew up.  There is a lot of anger.  For those of you who are among the older baby boomers, do you remember road rage?  No.  Did you know anything about gangs running around with guns and shooting up neighborhoods?  No.  What about drug dealers in the school (who are mainly other kids)?  No.  Do you remember 9 year old girls getting down on their knees to perform oral sex on the little boys in classrooms?  No.  So don’t tell me the world isn’t different.  You need to be alert.

I remember when my son decided he wanted to ride his bicycle to school. I agonized for a while and then said “absolutely, you can ride your bike to school.”  He went to bed all happy.  What he never knew was that every day, Dad followed at a distance so he could keep an eye on him without my son knowing Dad was there, just in case there was a car accident and he got hurt.  But he got to have his sense of independence.  He got to feel like a big boy on his own.  But we didn’t give up our responsibility to ensure his safety. 

Yes, you must helicopter at a distance.  To me, that’s the answer.  Free-range parents are what I see too much of today.  You’re either too lazy, too self-involved, too busy, busy, busy or just plain ignorant of your responsibilities.  But helicoptering at a distance is good.  Ultimately, our job is to nurture, to teach, to provide for them and to protect them.  And don’t lapse in the “protection department” under the notion that your kids need to learn independence.  Frankly, they have their whole lives to learn that.  So, let them use tools, let them go on adventures, let them do all kinds of things.  But helicopter at a distance.

If you’re on them for everything, you’re neurotic.  If you’re not on them for anything, you’re irresponsible.  So helicopter at a distance, or, if you must, free-range at a close distance.  Whichever version you like better.  It’s one thing to have your child get to 18 with bruises and bangs and another thing to have them get to 18 having been molested, abducted or sexually exploited, or pressured into using drugs.