Tag Archives: sharing

Famous words: always a question-

A Dream Deferred

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.Or does it explode?

Many people around the Globe will be recognizing what is known as Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.  Unlike December 31st, it is less a time of resolutions, more a time of recognizing, recalling past years, recalling the recent past year, and offering thanks for the simple gift of “Life”.  Traditional celebrations include dipping a piece of fruit – often an apple- into honey, attending services, hearing the blowing of the Shofar (a ram’s horn) meeting with loved ones, and sharing a meal.  It is a time defined as a Holy Day, rather than a holiday, though the holiday spirit suffuses all the activities, and this coupled with a strong sense of “tradition” connects people celebrating with a sense of purpose.  To wish each other well, to offer a blessing for the coming year, to wish one another a year filled with sweetness and light – and prosperity.  The latter wish used to surprise me; as an adult the latter is now seen as the opportunity to provide for others, some of that “sweetness and light”- so to all celebrating-         Le Shana Tova Tikatevu; wishing you a year filled with                                              Sweetness, Light & Prosperity;                                                                                                  May you be inscribed for a good year!

Recipe for Readers? Relax- and share

This weekend is all about remembering and caring- Memorial Day in the States, and a beautiful regular Spring weekend here in Toronto.

Through Social Media, there is the wonderful opportunity to connect with others and to share the good work in an even broader perspective.

An excellent post: http://www.shapingyouth.org/invisible-boy-kids-storybook-taps-universal-nerve/ 

          details the insides of a story book that one hopes to find in school libraries and private homes- More on the above website to highlight how to encourage empathy, and a reminder that “children’s books” contain information for the adults amongst us too.

If your child is familiar with Pixar and the movies this company has produced, he or she may wish to try the “formula” that is suggested for writing a story board: http://www.whattodowhenbored.ca/2014/05/22-rules-of-storytelling-from-pixar.html

Not really a believer that girls are more likely to be readers, as have found readers across the gender divide, and writers too! However, it seems many parents do worry about encouraging their younger boys to take time to read.  Please do remember that reading, and Literacy in general, refers to the ability to decipher the written squiggles on a page ( or a kindle etc.) and to read drawings too- plus to connect ideas.  Reading for pleasure is a type of “sport”, a mental gymnastics exercise, and like all exercises, improves with practice.  Reading to understand, or reading because it is expected, is an entirely different activity.  When they combine, one becomes a “reader”, other wise, reading is purely a function related to academics at best, at worst – a chore.  If an adult notes that very real sense of struggle that some students early on exhibit, please speak with your student’s teacher, and question if the struggle appears to be with deciphering the sounds or the result of a limited vocabulary.  Vocabulary can be extended in a natural fashion through gradually increasing word usage, and specific books chosen; when the issue is phonemic awareness, there might be other reasons for a disjunction between the student’s awareness and communication and his/her ability to process this information in a formal sense.  Schooling involves a great deal of visual and auditory perception; we both see and hear words as we read.  For our brains to make sense of the words on the page we have to give them an audio component, actually sounding out the writing, slowly or more quickly, in context of the story.  Many a good reader will be absorbing vocabulary in a text without pausing to question the meaning of an individual word- slower readers often get “stumped” as soon as they encounter a new word or phrase and believe they must look it up or discard the reading.  Fluency however requires a reader to push on, moving through and beyond the new term, until the meaning in context appears.  Note your child’s learning techniques; the child who quickly absorbs games is connecting ideas, what was known before, what is expected now …and “reading” in another fashion.  Also try to sense if there is a great effort made at memorizing words, over sounding them out. While early readers will love to memorize a favorite book and “read” an adult a story, by grade three (3) it will become clearer if the student is actually reading the word, or slurring sounds and guessing at pronunciation. 

For younger boys PBS suggests the following readers:


many children, boys in particular also go through a stage where they are curious how things work: this is a great time to introduce all the picture encyclopedias, found in libraries, and leave a stack around the home reading area- let the young reader reach for the “facts” and become more curious.

And for the sports enthusiast: there are as many readers as there are sports- a trip to a Bookstore can become a surprisingly pleasant morning or afternoon, with options to browse as well as buy.

A modern tendency is to separate books by gender- here is a thought, do encourage biographical readings that allow for heroes and heroines, and note “stars” from a variety of backgrounds.  Girls are as likely to enjoy the Percy series as boys, though boys may not get enthusiastic about The Dork Diaries, preferring Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but when it comes to say Olympic champions, or political leaders, the grades five  (5) through eight (8)  middle school crowd will respond as quickly to a female as a male protagonist, be it in an action adventure involving a variety of characters or a story of courage and diligence. 

 SEE:  http://www.pinterest.com/alibayer/academic-and-practical-readings-musings-and-links/ 

Here are posted a number of lists, suggesting readers for all ages/grades and interests including the “Great girl’s your daughter should know” list that tends to list classics and modern classics- the L.M. Montgomery series featuring Anne, and the Little house on the Prairie Series- but the wonderful explosion of excitement for Katniss and the Hunger Games knew no gender boundaries- the story appeals to boys and girls, and when initially published, the Anne series were not relegated to young adult, but were popular adult fiction.  Bottom line, browse, online, in a Bookstore, in the library, at magazine stands, wherever reading material is to be found and don’t discount the reading of a recipe, or a “how to” book- or the hands on activity of creating with blocks, puzzles, art materials, paper, and clay.  Learning, the real kind, allows for personal development; growth is rarely as linear as traditional schooling might suggest. 





Honour your kids

A friend sent me an email with a link to an older article published in The Chronicle for Higher Education in 2010- two years ago when I was starting this Tutoring venture.  The link opens to a story on a tutor who happily is a ghost writer for students- the friend had been worried that I might grow disillusioned quickly as this trend to hire tutors specifically to cheat on behalf of students appeared to be growing.  Fortunately I continue to connect with parents who wish to have their children grow and develop their own skills in Academics and Socially- not to merely purchase a paper or have me “just sit beside the student throughout his/her online exam” – as one parent did (not- so- subtly) request.   

Have you listened to your children lately? Have you heard them when they say things like “so and so is in the smart group”  and aren’t referring to themselves? If yes, please find an activity that you know the child excels at- or if not excels, then actually enjoys- for it is far more important to continue to help your child grow in his/her best fashion than to be grade focused.  I have heard students excitedly share insights about topics that they have become curious about but which weren’t directly on the school curriculum, and definitely weren’t going to be featured on a standardized test.  And I wished I could bottle that excitement and display it so the child would receive credit.

All of us are constantly picking up subtle clues about where we fit within different systems.  K-12, is a lengthy expanse of time and thankfully one in which students will be exposed to a variety of situations, teachers, classmates, and I hope, challenged by ideas.  With the “new” buzzword being “innovation” and the suggestion that perhaps emphasis on standardized tests doesn’t in fact encourage lateral thinking because, to do well on these tests students must respond to the tests in a particular fashion, problem solving is being seen only from one perspective.  Problem solving is not just the ability to combine ideas and “create” new methodologies- problem solving is also the ability to work through a problem – as basic as this sounds.  There is an irony in this situation for the student who is outspoken, who is generating personal connections, who may try to challenge a teacher or, without trying, be seen as challenging to the teacher, can find the confines of the classroom, stifling.  If your child does complain about the above, respect the complaint.  Recognize the grade for a score on activities presented within a classroom and not as a mark that a student (like the Scarlet Letter!) must bear. 

If your child’s “problem” is getting through the school year, some questions to ask the teacher(s) as this term comes to close:

1) Could you tell me something positive about my child?

2) What have you noticed my child enjoying in your class? Which activities did He/She seem most engaged with?

3) Have you any suggestions for what gaps you are noticing in his/her learning?

and finally 4) What could we do to organize differently for the coming September?

Thank you for honouring me with the opportunity to work with your children: I love tutoring and feel lucky being able to share this excitement for learning, together with students and their families.