Kids and school, Movies

“Race to Nowhere” Revisited: Two Innovative Approaches to Homework

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So glad that the film, “Race to Nowhere”, is still in wide circulation and that it came to our town three times in the last week, twice at our
high school and once at a local church. The documentary, which I’ve written about before, touches
on all kinds of things that are very relevant to today’s parents– over-stressed kids; restrictive teach-to-the-test teaching methods that don’t teach kids to be problem-solvers; an unrealistic
approach in America toward “college readiness”; in-school cheating; and teen suicide, among other topics. Love the film or hate it, it definitely gets discussion going about things that
definitely need to be discussed. When I saw the film again last week, many parents stayed for a panel discussion that followed and probably wished that part of the program could have lasted
longer. …

Kids and school, Raising Girls, Raising Teenagers

Homecoming 101: Short Dresses and Stripper Poles

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Some words of advice for parents of high school girls who are going to Homecoming (and this probably
comes too late for most of you since we’re right in the middle of homecoming season): be prepared to spend a lot of time shopping for “just the right dress” if she’s going to the
Homecoming dance, since most of the dressy dresses that have been offered in retail stores for teenage girls over the past several years don’t pass dress code. In a school, that is. Or
probably by your own standards as well. But they’d fit right in at a “gentleman’s club”!

I remember being amazed two years ago during Allison’s freshman year how so many dresses she tried on were so short, they didn’t pass when she stood up straight, arms hanging down at her
sides to do the fingertip test– school dress code …

Kids and Money, Kids and school, Overscheduled Kids

Putting the Fun Back Into Kids’ Fundraisers

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A lot has been written and debated about kids and fundraisers (I once wrote a section cover story for the
Dallas Morning News about the topic eight or nine years ago), but things don’t seem to change much over the years– basically, as kids add more activities to their schedules
and a family’s life gets busier, not only do they/we have to think about practices, team photos, physicals, release forms, concerts/games/tournaments, private lessons, parent
meetings, parent volunteering (Who wants to be the Snack Mom? Um, how about The Prop Pop?), “buttons”/car decals/yard signs, and possibly traveling to out of town events, a lot of
activities come with fundraisers. Either the school hardly funds the activity and the organization must raise funds in order to do what they want/need, or they’re independent and don’t get any
school funding, or the …

Humor, Kids and school

Button, Button, Who Wears “The Button”?

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Recently we officially became a “two-button” family– i.e. both of the kids are now in extracurricular activities which generate photo buttons
of their faces, for parents/grandparents to wear when attending those activities. The Mom version is usually blinged out with colorful ribbons, beads and plastic charms surrounding it and/or
hanging off the bottom; the Dad version is usually “just the photo”, to be more manly of course, so they’re more likely to wear it. But, sadly, my husband Andy is currently a no-button man
living in a two-button world.

I understand his reasons completely, mainly not wanting to buy into every “parent pride” merchandising opportunity that comes along, like yard signs (got ’em), expensive ads in printed programs
(“You go girl!! We love you SOOOOOO much!!”) and personalized car decals (got those, too, although Allison is still too embarrassed by our vehicles to allow us to …

Humor, Kids and school

Musings on “Meet the Teacher”

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Around here, late August not only
means The First Day of School but also very soon after, “Meet the Teacher” night. Growing up, I remember we had “Open House” in the middle of the semester, so we could show off our work to
our parents and introduce our teachers (if they hadn’t already met them by then) but I don’t ever recall anything like this:  About a week or even a few days after school starts, parents of
elementary and secondary students get to “walk their child’s schedule”, without the child present, visiting each classroom via a “special bell schedule” and sitting
in class while hearing a brief presentation from the teacher. Each presentation takes only about 10-12 minutes, and you have five minutes between them, so you may or may not get to personally meet
the teacher on Meet the Teacher night …

Charities, Kids and school

A Prom Where Everything’s Legal (well, almost everything…)

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I don’t know exactly when/where I came up with the idea. Maybe it started in the shower. I think it really took hold
while driving in my minivan a few years ago, listening to an all-70s radio station, high on coffee so my brain was firing pretty good… and suddenly it hit me—wouldn’t it be a great fundraiser for
a school PTA to host a dance just for parents? Not a party, not a dinner, but a dance. I mean, think about it—I’m always hearing moms complaining that there’s nowhere to go out and go dancing
anymore. You either have to be into country music; or hanging out with 20-somethings at clubs with weird, one-word names like “Liquid”, listening to a professional DJ spin something called “House”
(no thanks); or opt for a smoky bar with a local band that needs to turn down their amps (and spend more time practicing); or attend a …

Being a Better Parent, Kids and school

Whose pep rally is it, anyway?

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Excuse me for wondering, but weren’t high school pep rallies originally designed for the students and staff of a school
to “rally” behind their sports teams and get them fired up to win? Later they were expanded to include pep rallies for everything from final exams to “just say no to drugs”—but, back in the
day, I don’t ever remember the audience expanding to include parents. I mean, why would kids want their parents at school, anyway? Don’t parents have a lot of other things to do during the
day? Around here, apparently not. Because as soon as my teen became a sophomore and a full-fledged member of the high school drill team, I discovered that not only did parents attend pep rallies,
there was a whole section of the gym reserved just for them. And it wasn’t just a bunch of stay-at-home moms filling the stands. Working moms, too. And dads– …

Kids and school, Overscheduled Kids

Race to See “Race to Nowhere”

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A few months ago, Allison started saying what many teenagers have probably often said:   “I hate school.
School is stupid. They give us tons of homework and make us memorize a bunch of useless junk that we’re never going to use—what’s the point?” And I reacted the way many parents probably
react:  “Yes, some of it does seem stupid and useless but you have to play the game. You have to study and do good on tests so you can move on and get to college, where the real learning
happens. I didn’t like all of my classes, either, but my goal was to get out and move on.”

But that conversation kept nagging at my brain. Even though she was tired and burnt out when she spoke, her words had a
grain of truth in them. Maybe she’s right, I thought (and don’t kids have a way with …

Great Parenting Tools, Kids and school

“I’ll Do My Homework Later”: Helping Kids Battle Procrastination

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It’s tough sometimes being an anti-helicopter parent, who seeks to help their children learn life lessons by not jumping in and taking over
everything.   It’s like standing by and watching a train wreck, after you’ve warned the engineer several times of danger ahead.   To borrow again from the
train metaphor, lately our house is like “Procrastination Station”, and even though I keep warning my kids, the trains keep wrecking.  

“Emmie, …

Kids and school

A Couple of Updates

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Not just a dash— now it’s a mad dash

Remember my September post about the passing period between high school classes, about how at our kids’ school it’s so quick, kids don’t have time to use the restroom or go to their lockers any
more?  Well, I did bring up the subject to the Director of Health for our school district, who chairs a committee of which I am a member. He told me he would bring it …