Education isn’t getting much play in the 2008 presidential election coverage. I suspect that with all the hoopla around the politics of politics, as well as the state of the economy, the Iraq war and Eliot Spitzer’s future career plans, there won’t be a lot of campaign coverage about how to create better schools that meet the needs of our kids.
So, as with many things, looking out for the best interests of our kids’ education is up to us parents.
One author is trying to lend us a hand on that front with her new book, Your Child’s Strengths.
Author Jenifer Fox has presented a theme I really agree with — old ways aren’t always the best. Old ways in teaching our children, old ways in preparing curricula, old ways in not worrying whether we inspire our children or focus on what they’re best at when they’re at school because teachers are too focused “the test.”
For the most part, we, as parents, don’t really have a role in choosing things that impact our children’s formal learning. And with outdated ways of assessing children’s strengths at school (if they are assessed at all), how are parents supposed to help?
Your Child’s Strengths confirms what I suspected — that the atmosphere in schoolrooms, with standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind mandates — are doing a lot to kill our kids’ natural love of learning and sense of curiosity. And isn’t that precisely the information anyone needs to figure out where our individual strengths lie?
If we want to give our kids a shot are being something more than learning automatons, parents need to play a more active role in figuring out what our kids are good at and what makes them excited and inspired. I n her book, Fox gives us a new arsenal of tools to do that.
Some of her advice is common sense — spend time with your children, focus on what they love, then nurture and encourage those strengths. If your child is a bit more inscrutable about revealing their passions, she’s got a series of questions, tasks and activities that can help discover the things that energize and engage our children.
Initially some of the advice may seem overwhelming, but on second glance, much of it is based on parental assessment that comes from everyday life. For example, what household tasks do your kids do and not complain about or really like? I’m not sure what this says about her, but PunditGirl LOVES to mop the kitchen floor (am I a lucky mom, or what?!)
While some of the self-reflection required to do the suggested activities and assessments may be harder for some children than others, we as parents can use this advice to become more tuned in to the clues and signals our kids send us that we can then use to steer them toward things that will make them excited about learning.
As for eight-year-old PunditGirl, we’re having a hard time narrowing things down at the moment — but I think she’s leaning toward being a poet, an Olympic ice skater, a babysitter or a pirate.
As I gathered from Your Child’s Strengths, those few things speak volumes!
If you’d like to win my copy, leave me a comment either here or at PunditMom Reviews about an interesting way you were able to discover a strength of one of your kids that you hadn’t noticed before. I”ll pick one comment at random to receive the book! Good Luck!