Category Archive:
Teaching and learning principles

Declaring Independence

declaring independence

As the Fourth of July nears each year, I read the Declaration of Independence to remind me how life under a tyrant might be. This reading helps me appreciate how precious our Constitution and Bill of Rights are to my life. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, thought and wrote extensively on […]


Cloud Watching

cloud watching

Summer will officially begin today with the summer solstice. For kids, I believe in the words of the Nat King Cole song, ”Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” June, July and August should allow all of us time to luxuriate in some slow goofiness. Summer is a period of tremendous physical growth […]


A Thank-You To Fathers

thank-you fathers

During the time that the phrase ”real men don’t eat quiche” was heard everywhere, Roseanne Barr called out through the television screen with this line: ”A real man is one who can look a thirty-year mortgage in the eye, and not blink.” In many ways, signing up for a thirty-year mortgage requires more commitment to […]


Asking For Assistance

asking assistance

Can you help me, please? These five words seem to be hard for many people to say. In airport check-in lines, at fast food restaurants, or in grocery stores, we may react negatively when someone neglects to ask, “May I help you, please?” But at those times when we feel that no one is trying […]


The Danger of Fantasy

The Danger of Fantasy

Dear Father, hear and bless thy beasts and singing birds; And guard with tenderness small things that have no words. Perhaps you remember this childhood prayer. For me it is a call to duty. Young children often do not have the words to express themselves. I see our job as adults is to help children […]


True Homework: Building A Home Life

creating structure

Many people are astounded when I tell them I didn’t give homework to my elementary students. There are many reasons I didn’t give homework, but the main one is fairly simple. The reason for coming to school is to work and to learn. If students are doing what they are supposed to do in school, […]


Rethinking Homework

possessive instinct

Parents, imagine no homework to supervise and therefore no forgotten assignments. Teachers, consider having no homework to assign, grade, record and monitor. Alfie Kohn in his book, The Homework Myth, advocates abolishing homework based on a survey of educational research that shows there is no connection between homework and academic success. For the past twenty […]


Writing A Thank-You Note

writing a thank you note

During a visit with a group of ladies in their late seventies, I discovered that they each had notes tucked away, written by their children and grandchildren. Not every note from every child, but ”treasures” from letters, notes and cards received over the years. I’m imagining that a piece of paper that someone’s held onto […]


Drawing With Children

teaching children drawing

Betty Edwards in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, explains that around age ten our logical “left-brain” style of thinking begins to dominate and overrides our creative “right-brain” type of thinking. Our left-brain thinking criticizes our work, and out of our mouth comes words like: That doesn’t look like a bird. You can’t draw […]


Who Owns the Problem?

who owns the problem

Five-year-old Samantha leaves her lunchbox at home at least once a week. Her mother, Lori, makes a special trip to school to bring Samantha’s lunch–a thirty-minute disruption to Lori’s day. Who owns the problem of getting Samantha’s lunch to school? Samantha or her mother? Some parents feel that they own all their children’s problems. When […]