Teaching Positive

About Teaching Positive

Boys-purple-shirtsTeaching Positive strengthens families and schools by equipping parents, teachers, school staff and children with the tools and support they need to build peaceful, mutually productive homes and classrooms where adults and children thrive. Inspired by Positive Discipline practices founded by Jane Nelsen and the foundational work of Alfred Alder and Rudolf Dreikurs, Teaching Positive is committed to a solution focused and relationship-based framework to nurture social, emotional and academic growth. Teaching Positive values experiential learning and embeds foundational communication skills to help children and adults create more productive and peaceful relationships while learning important life skills such as problem solving, intrinsic motivation, empathy and cooperation. Through hands-on experiential learning lessons, individuals develop practical applications for home and school environments.

Irvine Hebrew Day School is guided by current research and best practices from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

The following list of books was compiled from Challenge Success http://www.challengesuccess.org/ and contains useful references and information on parenting, homework, school reform, college choice, mental health and youth sports. Many of the titles following here can be found in the IHDS parent library of resources.

Teaching Positive – Testimonials

“Our wish is that you, like Tammy, find your path with the help of Positive Discipline to positively influence your world and the world of your students
~Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott, authors,
Positive Discipline in the Classroom and founders of Positive Discipline

Teaching Positive – Books

threeRaising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child
by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein

In Raising Resilient Children, clinical psychologists Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein argue that cultivating resilience ought to be a primary goal in raising children. Children, they write, need to learn how to deal effectively with stress and pressure, to cope with everyday challenges, to bounce back from disappointments, adversity and trauma, to develop clear and realistic goals, to solve problems, to relate comfortably with others, and to treat oneself and others with respect. These are the hallmarks of resilience, and they matter much more than “achievement” for children’s well-being. The book was motivated in part by a problem the authors see all too often in their clinical practice: parents who believe that their children will thrive if they are protected from adversity. In fact, the opposite is true: children develop resilience when they are given the opportunity and the support to confront challenges on their own. The authors establish this point early in the book; in the remaining chapters they provide concrete advice about how parents can encourage the development of resilience in their children. The authors draw from many examples as well as psychological research to support their claims. –Jennifer Seibel Trainor

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential
by Ellen Kennedy-Moore and Mark Lowenthal

In Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential, Ellen Kennedy-Moore and Mark Lowenthal explain the particular challenges that bright children often face. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the authors show that bright children, especially in today’s performance-based, achievement-driven culture, can have profound difficulties: they struggle to cope with mistakes and failure, and can have difficulty dealing with competition, finding intrinsic motivation, and connecting with others. These problems stem from the perfectionism that bright children often develop. The authors suggest that although perfectionism may seem like an issue involving how children approach school work or projects, it is actually a relationship issue. Perfectionist children feel judged by others and hence judge themselves and others harshly in return. The key for parents is to learn to be an effective emotional coach for your child – to find ways to help them foster healthy relationships, move away from rigid, judgmental thinking, and nurture intrinsic motivation. Smart Parenting offers a wealth of helpful anecdotes, strategies and ideas to help parents in this regard. If you have a child who wilts under criticism, who exhibits black and white thinking in his assessments of himself and others, who has difficulty with competition, or who seems overly sensitive in the face of conflict or disappointment, then this book is for you.–Jennifer Seibel Trainor

The Genius in All of Us: New Insights in Genentics, Talent, and IQ
by David Shenk

science-snakeOur children’s talent, David Shenk reports in The Genius in All of Us: New Insights in Genentics, Talent, and IQ, is not innate; it develops over time, in a dynamic process that parents “can never fully control, but that we can strongly influence.” On the one hand, this might be read as an endorsement of tiger parenting or evidence that parents need to be even more involved in nurturing their children’s potential, chauffeuring them to enrichment classes and fretting over every less-than-perfect test score. But before you unleash your inner tiger, be aware that, as Shenk makes clear, the parenting strategies that work best to bring out a child’s potential are decidedly un-tiger-like. As he writes, studies show that the best parents – those who raise successful children — believe in their child’s potential, no matter how little evidence of potential they see. They support their child in his/her pursuits, but don’t take over or smother the child. Good parents “follow a child’s lead” — they set high expectations and limits, but they wait to see what the child wants to do and they do not become anxious if he isn’t high-achieving early on. Good parents focus on persistence and hard work, not achievement, and they embrace failure as the natural result of ambition and determination, not as a sign of weakness. Shenk cites study after study showing that achievement in every arena from music to basketball to mathematics is about hard work and passion, rather than innate intelligent or giftedness. The brain is plastic, and even adults can change their hard-wiring (and dramatically improve their performance) by practicing specific cognitive tasks. For parents, this means that we need not worry about early failures or direct a child toward one set of pursuits because he or she “isn’t good” at something else. Instead, we should see ourselves as setting a stage for success – exposing children to lots of opportunities and possibilities – but not as stage directors, where the child’s actions or abilities are ours to control. This book will reassure parents who are anxious about their child’s performance, and it will inspire readers, who will learn that our potential is much less limited than we might imagine.–Jennifer Seibel Trainor

On School / Community Change

girls-dancingDoing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
by Denise Clark Pope

In this important and timely study, Pope, a veteran teacher, curriculum expert, and lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education, offers a revealing look at the quandaries of today’s high school students. The book is based on Pope’s yearlong research, which consisted of shadowing and interviewing five successful students of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds at a highly regarded California public high school. Pope adroitly takes the students’ point of view and finds that they are frustrated by being caught in a “grade trap”; often stressed out, exhausted, and anxious, they are resentful that their future success is dependent on their GPA and test scores. These and similar findings raise critical questions for concerned parents, educators, and policy makers involved in all levels of education, making this an essential purchase for high school, college, and university libraries and one strongly recommended for public libraries where interest in education is strong.–Library Journal

The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
by Madeline Levine

A practicing psychologist in Marin County, Calif., Levine counsels troubled teens from affluent families, and finds it paradoxical that wealth—which can open the door to travel and other enriching opportunities—can produce such depressed, anxious, angry and bored teenagers. After comparing notes with colleagues, she concluded that consumerism too often substitutes for the sorts of struggles that produce thoughtful, happy people. If objects satisfy people, then they never get around to working on deeper issues. The teen years are supposed to be a time for character building. Avoiding this hard work with the distraction of consumer toys can produce “vacant, ” “evacuated” or “disconnected” teens, Levine believes. She is particularly useful when explaining common parenting dilemmas, like the difference between being intrusive and being involved, between laying down rules and encouraging autonomy.–Publishers Weekly

A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change
by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown

In A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown write about learning in the digital age of the twenty-first century. We live in a world of near-constant flux, in which knowledge is fluid and evolving. Thomas and Brown outline the three principles that the new culture of learning is based upon: The old ways of learning are unable to keep up with our rapidly changing world; new media forms are making peer-to-peer learning easier and more natural; and peer-to-peer learning is amplified by emerging technologies that shape the collective nature of participation with those new media. Advancing media provides a space in which participants can create, enhance, and collaborate in an immense network of websites, databases, wikis, blogs, message forums, social networks, professional networks, and more, to literally develop a bottomless “large-scale knowledge economy.” Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) are one example highlighted in the book. These games provide for a collective and social learning experience that embraces play, imagination, and innovation. Thomas and Brown note that games may be one of the best learning models in the twenty-first century, and they believe that “where imaginations play, learning happens.” The authors make a strong case that this new culture of learning is both powerful and optimistic for the future of education, a type of learning that confidently embraces change. This book is a stimulating resource for parents, teachers, and educational professionals.–Theresa Brown

A Whole New Mind
by Daniel Pink

“Abundance, Asia, and automation.” Try saying that phrase five times quickly, because if you don’t take these words into serious consideration, there is a good chance that sooner or later your career will suffer because of one of those forces. Pink, best-selling author of Free Agent Nation (2001) and also former chief speechwriter for former vice-president Al Gore, has crafted a profound read packed with an abundance of references to books, seminars, Web sites, and such to guide your adjustment to expanding your right brain if you plan to survive and prosper in the Western world. According to Pink, the keys to success are in developing and cultivating six senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Pink compares this upcoming “Conceptual Age” to past periods of intense change, such as the Industrial Revolution and the Renaissance, as a way of emphasizing its importance. Ed Dwyer—Booklist

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
by Daniel Pink

What pushes employees to do their best work? Many businesses operate under the belief that the key to motivating workers is giving them tangible rewards, such as a cash bonus or a corner office. In the book Drive, business writer Daniel H. Pink argues persuasively that these companies have it all wrong. He cites a body of behavioral science research that suggests that optimal performance comes when people find intrinsic meaning in their work. Pink identifies three elements underlying such intrinsic motivation: autonomy, the ability to choose what and how tasks are completed; mastery, the process of becoming adept at an activity; and purpose, the desire to improve the world. Drive highlights businesses that promote these values. Google lets its engineers work on any project they choose for 20 percent of their time—a policy that has yielded popular products, including Google News. Pink also cites educational institutions such as Montessori schools that let kids follow their natural curiosity in self-directed activities. Moving beyond the world of work, he advocates designing your own exercise program rather than following a gym’s cookie-cutter one to motivate you to break a sweat.–Kenneth Silber May 2010 Scientific American Mind

Free Range Kids: Giving our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry
by Lenore Skenazy

Free-Range Kids is the best kind of manifesto: smart, funny, rigorous, sane, impassioned, and bristling with common sense. If you’re a parent, or planning to become one, read this book. You have nothing to lose–apart from your anxiety.–Carl Honoré

Moral Questions in the Classroom: How to Get Kids to Think Deeply About Real Life and Their Schoolwork
by Ms. Katherine G. Simon

Motivated by a suspicion that schools fail to teach what “matters,” Simon, director of research at the Coalition of Essential Schools in California, spent months observing literature, history and biology classes at a public, a Catholic and a Jewish high school. What “matters” to Simon is the integration of moral and existential inquiry into the classroom; she argues that not only are moral and existential questions at the heart of the major disciplines, they are also extremely compelling to students. But too much of what goes on in schools, she contends, is “the forming of uninformed opinions” and “decontextualized fact acquisition.” Although she shows how even good teachers sometimes deflect or shut down important discussions, Simon places the blame squarely on the education system that works “against teachers being able to incorporate discussions of substantive issues into their classrooms.” As in many recent books, the villain is the standardized test, and the stakes, for both students and teachers, attached to it. Simon writes fluently, integrating transcripts of classroom discussions smoothly into her narrative and engagingly conveying her idealist’s passion for reform. To reconsider education’s entire enterprise is a very tall order, however, and Simon acknowledges the enormous obstacles her project faces. Readers will agree that students shouldn’t continue to feel disengaged in school because they’re denied the chance to ask and answer essential questions, but they may be skeptical of Simon’s starry-eyed recipe for change.–Publishers Weekly

Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning
by Deborah Stipek Ph.D.

How do parents instill a lifelong love of learning in their children? Stipek, dean of the School of Education at Stanford, and Seal, a journalist and author, answer this question with well-documented studies, including research from UCLA’s Corrine A. Seeds University Elementary School, a laboratory school for educational improvement where Stipek has served as director for 10 years and Seal as co-president of the parent-teacher’s association for two years. Believing that “play is children’s work” because it engages their interest in the world around them, Stipek and Seal encourage parents to develop their children’s natural drive to learn by focusing on what they believe are the three primary components of success: competence, autonomy and relatedness (the unconditional acceptance, connection and support parents provide their children). Combining famous and fictional anecdotes and other special tips (the proper use of rewards, the role of self-esteem) with the results of current research studies, the authors provide an informative account of the broader concepts they believe are important for parents to understand so that they can create a culture of learning at home. An appendix supplies suggestions on how to assess a school and when to enroll a child in kindergarten. Despite the many studies cited, parents will find the book to be friendly and engaging, a useful resource that they can consult over the many years of their children’s education.–Publishers Weekly

Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs
by Cathy Vatterott

Is homework useful or are we all toeing the line of a practice rooted in misconception and questionable science? In Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs, Cathy Vatterott masterfully poses and addresses this poignant question. Vatterott, the venerable “homework lady” and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, scrutinizes our system’s dependence on homework with a maverick eye. Vatterott begins with a meticulous account of the birth and history of homework, and explains the historical relationship between classroom and home environments. Rethinking Homework is both an incisive commentary on the flaws that riddle modern homework practices and an exhaustive—yet practical—list of the ways in which homework can be improved in classrooms today. Readable, informative, and insightful: three words that aptly describe this must-read for anyone on a quest to make homework effective and meaningful. –Alex McNeil

The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It
by Sara Bennett, Nancy Kalish

Parents of America, unite! You have nothing to lose but your frustration. The Case Against Homework is an important book that takes on the 500-pound gorilla—homework overload—long ignored by educational policy makers. Every parent of a school-age child should buy it and follow the authors’ excellent advice in order to protect their children from an educational system gone haywire.–Dan Kindlon, Ph.D.

The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education
by Nel Noddings

Nel Noddings writes with uncommon wisdom on the moral and ethical dimensions of education. In The Challenge to Care in Schools, Noddings argues that schooling, like other social institutions in our time, fails to care for people, that is, address their real needs and nourish their growth. Ruled by a methodolatry that values standardization over individuality, and by an ideology of control that sees young people as merely an economic resource, schools do not nurture students diverse interests, talents, and abilities. Even the venerable notion of the liberal arts, says Noddings, embraces only a limited intellectual portion of the spectrum of human possibilities. If schools are to serve humane and moral ends, argues Noddings, they must expand from their narrow focus on academic discipline and instead involve the student in multidimensional domains of caring.–Teachers College Press

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing
by Alfie Kohn

Education watchdog and author Kohn questions why teachers and parents continue to insist on overloading kids with homework when there are no definitive studies proving its overall learning benefits. Indeed, argues Kohn persuasively, homework can be detrimental to children’s development by robbing families of quality evening time together and not allowing a kid time simply to be a kid. Americans in general advocate a tough-going approach to education and push teachers to give more drudgery nightly as a way of “building character.” Yet Kohn shows that doing forced busywork only turns kids off to school and kills intellectual and creative curiosity. The American insistence on producing good worker bees “by sheer force or cleverness,” notes Kohn, “reflects a stunning ignorance about how human beings function in the real world.” Kohn pursues six reasons why homework is still so widely accepted despite the evidence against it, including the emphasis on competitiveness and “tougher standards” and a basic distrust of children and how they would fill their time otherwise if not doing busywork. There aren’t enough case studies in Kohn’s work, but Kohn sounds an important note: parents need to ask more challenging questions of teachers and institutions.–Publishers Weekly

The Path to Purpose: Helping Our Children Find Their Calling in Life
by William Damon

“As a leading authority on meaning and moral development, Damon writes a timely and important book on one of our most pressing social issues — how to instill a sense of purpose in the lives of children. Damon gives us a fresh and useful way to look at both education and character development.”–Dr. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Writing to Change the Worlds

The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success is School and in Life
by Michael Thompson Ph.D.

Psychologist Thompson and journalist Barker, collaborators on Raising Cain (2000), offer advice to parents and educators on how to help children cope with the ever-increasing pressures of school and life. Based on interviews with children, parents, and teachers and–most revealing–shadowing students at school, the authors present a portrait of children facing the usual pressures of growing up with the added pressures of a fast-paced modern American culture. The authors lament that so much emphasis is placed on academic performance that parents and educators too often ignore the psychological aspects. On the surface, students present the usual preoccupations with friends and grades. But, as the authors detail here, there is a lot going on beneath the surface as students scratch good-bye messages into the locker of a boy who was killed in a car accident and students express cynicism about whether their teachers really care about them. In this absorbing look at modern childhood, the authors advise parents to get beyond their romantic and selective memories of school years to understand the pressures facing their children.—Booklist

Tuned in and Fired Up: How Teaching Can Inspire Real Learning in the Classroom
by Sam M. Intrator

In this compelling book, Sam M. Intrator scrutinizes powerful learning moments in a high school classroom. He offers five detailed portraits of these experiences, describing in each case how the teacher shaped the culture of the class, made critical pedagogical decisions, and connected students to the subject matter. Intrator confirms that seemingly magical learning moments can be cultivated, and he suggests numerous practical ideas to help teachers do so.”Intrator is both thoughtful and articulate in this study of educationally vital moments. “Great teachers, like Sam Intrator, know what matters most in the classroom. They connect, care, conspire with students; they listen, laugh, and love them into learning. With this terrific book, we can too.”–Rick Jackson, co-director, Center for Teacher Formation

 

On Parenting / Mental Health

A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings – 2nd Edition
by Kenneth R. Ginsburg

Dr Ken Ginsburg’s work on resilience forms the basis of our entire adolescent medicine practice. Teaching young people to use their strengths to prevent and manage problems helps them to be in control of their own futures; teaching parents to recognize and build resilience in their children fosters productive family-based partnerships that last a lifetime and save lives. Whether 3 years old or 30, whether struggling with “normal” developmental issues or major medical or psychological stresses, Dr Ginsburg empowers parents to raise children who love, accept, and protect themselves. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?–Susan Sugerman, MD, MPH

Teach Your Children Well
by Madeline Levine, Ph.D.

“Madeline Levine’s latest book is a cri de coeur from a clinician on the front line of the battle between our better natures-parents’ deep and true love and concern for their kids- and our culture’s worst competitive and materialistic influences, Levine see kids in her practice who cheat, take drugs, drink, shut down or, worse still, keep up their tightrope act of parent-pleasing, Ivy-aiming high achievement while quietly, invisibly dying inside. And now, it would seem,she’s had it. She’s had it with schools that worship at the altar of high achievement but do everything they can to undermine children’s growth and well-being; eliminating recess; assigning mind-deadening amount of homework; and ranking, measuring and valuing kids by narrowly focused test scores, while cutting out other areas of creative education in which large numbers of students who don’t necessarily test well might find success and thrive. And she’s had it with parents who profess to want nothing more than “happiness” for their children while neglecting the aspects of family life that build enthusiasm and contentment, and overemphasizing values and activities that can actually do harm. This message-that essentially everything today’s parents think they’re doing right is actually wrong is the most noteworthy take away… and Levine is correct to say that, as parents and as a society, we’ve reached a tipping point, in which the long-dawning awareness that here’s something not quite right about our parenting is strengthening into real desire for change.”–abstracted from Judith Warner for the New York Times Book Review

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Carol Dweck

Mindset is “an established set of attitudes held by someone,” says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn’t be so set, according to Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford. Dweck proposes that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as… well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Which mindset do you possess? Dweck provides a checklist to assess yourself and shows how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and love. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. This is a serious, practical book. Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.–Publishers Weekly

Parenting From the Inside Out
by Daniel Siegel, Mary Hartzell

This book is beautifully written, filled with well-wrought science, but also with a deep and pervasive warmth. The subject is nothing less than human nature. What could be more important to all of us to understand who we are as we carry on the activity of loving our children. Anyone who reads this book will experience attachment, parenting, and human love differently from how they have before.–Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Soul of the Child

Real Parents, Real Kids, Real Talk: Raising a Successful Adult Using Humor and Common Sense
by Susan Stone Belton

Scattered with quotes from the many parents and children she has worked with over the years, and based on her own parenting experience, Susan Stone Belton takes a very anecdotal approach to immerse the reader and present her tried-and-true parenting strategies. Belton covers many common challenges, from managing your children’s behavior to teaching the value of responsibility and sound judgment. Real Parents, Real Kids, Real Talk is a valuable resource for parents striving to forge healthy relationships with their children, and to raise them to be successful and value-driven adults. Well-organized and written in a relaxed, friendly manner, the book provides concrete strategies that are general enough to be applied to a multitude of parenting styles. –Theresa Brown

The Blessing of a B Minus
by Wendy Mogel

Social-clinical psychologist Mogel concentrates on the hidden blessings of raising teenagers in this engaging follow-up to The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. Intermingling wisdom and guidelines from Judaism and adolescent psychology, Mogel compares the teen years to the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. As kids wander in the “desert” of adolescence, she advises parents to offer counsel and guidance, demonstrate empathy without entanglement, and resist the urge to intervene or rescue. In chapters peppered with true-to-life examples and humor, Mogel examines the blessings of a B minus, staying up late, hangovers, breaking the rules, and a variety of other teen topics, urging parents not just to look on the bright side, but to help kids benefit from the learning opportunities inherent in difficult situations. Some of her advice may be challenging for readers to follow: for instance, she recommends that parents refrain from broaching the subject of college until grade 11. She also encourages parents to let teens learn from their own mistakes and to respect their yetzer hara (aggressive impulse), while seeking balance with a sense of teshuvah (repentance). Mogel’s compassion and authenticity will ring true with parents of all faiths facing the tumultuous teen years. (Oct.) (c)–Publishers Weekly

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children
by Wendy Mogel

Frustrated with a therapeutic practice that “shifted too frequently to be an anchor” for parents struggling with issues like overindulgence and over scheduling, clinical psychologist Mogel turned to her religious heritage for ways to help her clients and her own family “find grace and security” in an increasingly complex world. “In the time-tested lessons of Judaism, I discovered insights and practical tools that spoke directly to these issues,” writes Mogel, who left her psychology practice in order “to help parents look at their children’s anxieties and desires using a different lens.” Digging into the rich traditions of the Torah, the Talmud and other Jewish teachings, Mogel builds a parenting blueprint that draws on core spiritual values relevant to families of all faiths. With warmth and humor, she offers strategies for encouraging respect and gratitude in children, and cautions against overprotection (“we treat our children’s lives like we’re cruise ship directors who must get them to their destination to adulthood smoothly, without their feeling even the slightest bump or wave”) and the pressure of “Lake Wobegon parenting” (a reference to Garrison Keillor’s fictional town where “all the children are above average”). Her thoughtful observations consistently illuminate and reassure. Impassioned, lyrical and eminently practical, this inspiring volume is a real treasure.–Publishers Weekly

The Genius in Children: Bringing out the best in your child
by Rick Ackerly

The accounts and learnings in The Genius in Children are so deep and layered, you feel in your bones Rick Ackerly’s forty years of teaching kids and parents how to grow their brilliance. This book, and Rick, have so much heart and wisdom, you’ll not only read their words gratefully, you’ll return to them again and again. This just might be the only book on parenting you’ll ever need.–Rebecca Lawton, author of Reading Water: Lessons from the River

The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally
by David Elkind

In this fascinating look at the importance of letting kids be kids, Elkind argues that “Play is being silenced.” According to Elkind, a child psychologist and author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go, important, unstructured play is too often replaced in modern times by organized activities, academics or passive leisure activities such as watching television and playing video games. Elkind explains how even toys have changed: “toys once served to socialize children into social roles, vocations, and academic tool skills. Today, they are more likely to encourage brand loyalties, fashion consciousness, and group think.” Elkind acknowledges that technology has its place in the classroom, but debunks computer programs marketed toward babies and preschoolers whose young brains are not yet able to fully comprehend two-dimensional representations. “Parent peer pressure” is often to blame, causing parents to engage in “hyperparenting, overprotection, and overprogramming.” Media-spread fears about everything from kidnapping and molestation to school shootings and SIDS can cause parents to forget that “children can play safely without adult organization; they have done so as long as people have been on earth.” With clarity and insight, Elkind calls for society to bring back long recesses, encourage imagination and let children develop their minds at a natural pace.–Publishers Weekly

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
by Alfie Kohn

Author of nine books, including the controversial Punished by Rewards, Kohn expands upon the theme of what’s wrong with our society’s emphasis on punishments and rewards. Kohn, the father of young children, sprinkles his text with anecdotes that shore up his well-researched hypothesis that children do best with unconditional love, respect and the opportunity to make their own choices. Kohn questions why parents and parenting literature focus on compliance and quick fixes, and points out that docility and short-term obedience are not what most parents desire of their children in the long run. He insists that “controlling parents” are actually conveying to their kids that they love them conditionally—that is, only when they achieve or behave. Tactics like time-out, bribes and threats, Kohn claims, just worsen matters. Caustic, witty and thought-provoking, Kohn’s arguments challenge much of today’s parenting wisdom, yet his assertion that “the way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions” rings true. Kohn suggests parents help kids solve problems; provide them with choices; and use reason, humor and, as a last resort, a restorative time away (not a punitive time-out). This lively book will surely rile parents who want to be boss. Those seeking alternative methods of raising confident, well-loved children, however, will warmly embrace Kohn’s message.–Publishers Weekly

The Happy Student
by Daniel Wong

In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong writes about his experience as an unhappy overachiever and makes practical suggestions on how to do well in school without sacrificing happiness. He outlines five steps that students should follow to be both happy and successful. Wong focuses on the intrinsic value of motivation in finding the true purpose of education and talks about the role of failure in developing confidence. While not all students will be able to earn the straight A’s that Daniel does, they will relate to the lessons learned on his journey so that they too can be happier students.–Maureen Brown, Challenge Success

Teaching Positive – Articles & Research