Friday, March 13, 2009

For Parents of Rising 5’s: Five Essential Books for the MPH Middle School Experience

For Parents of Rising 5’s: Five Essential Books for the MPH Middle School Experience

One way to ready yourself for the exciting yet challenging years ahead in grades 6 – 8 is to get some insight on what to expect. We are an independent school, and are independent thinkers. I think it makes sense to gain some of that understanding from books. Here is a little of what I think qualifies as essential reading for the MPH middle school parent:

Yardsticks, ChipWood
Written with warmth and humor, Yardsticks offers clear, straightforward descriptions of children's development. This book is a good, practical guide that focuses on honest social/emotional and cognitive development guidelines for parents. This would be useful to any parent wondering if their child is on target at a time when they seem to be distancing themselves from adults at warp speed.
The Mind of Boys, Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens

The hard reality: boys receive up to 70% of the Ds and Fs given to all students and they create 90% of classroom discipline problems. Gurian and Stevens spell out for parents how to understand and influence their own boy’s academic success. Two big ways is by understanding what motivates boys and what a correct learning environment looks like for the adolescent male.

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogul

A clinical psychologist working in California independent schools, 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.” She writes from time-tested lessons of Judaism, to give all parents practical that help parents look at their children's anxieties and desires through a different lens.

The Paradox of the Anxious Parent, Michael Thompson
In his new book, Thompson is pretty blunt. His idea: Teachers are not trained to work with adults–they went into teaching to work with students. Today’s parents want to be informed and involved in the process more than ever before. Parents often have an “irrational belief in what a school can do for their child. Schools are deeply flawed institutions, just better than anything else that we have tried.” We, even here at MPH, understand that we are deeply flawed, but we also believe that we are working to do what will be best for our students. Thompson writes that parents are irrationally hurt when they see that the school that they have chosen somehow isn’t perfect. An interesting angle from a well-known independent school mind.
Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
From the author’s website, Last Child in the Woods is “the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.” This is no small issue, and we in the MS at MPH intentionally create opportunities for kids to be exposed to the natural world. Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond between nature and the “wired generation,” and many of his ideas are right in your own backyards and neighborhoods.

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