Administration Speaks Issue # 4
Special Points of Interest: • Overparenting:
Overprotecting can start as early as infancy and continue throughout a child’s years in school. • The Achievement Gap: attendance in
many colleges reflects the gender ratio of 60:40, female to male.
Overparenting: Too Much of a Good Thing By Mannik Kostanian Can we hurt our children with the best of intentions? Parents and teachers want children to have the best positive experiences during childhood. We want our children and students to be able to successfully compete and succeed in school and throughout life. Parental involvement in school has been shown to be extremely beneficial
to a student’s academic progress, but according Samantha Miller, M.A., M.Sc., of the NYC Child Study Center, overinvolvement may result in adults who feel that they are inadequate to face life challenges or who expect someone else to resolve their problems and issues. But how much is too much, and when should a parent let go?
Dr. Marilyn Harris outlines three types of overparenting and their drawbacks: overprotect, over-involved and overindulgent.
Cont. on page 2
Trends in Education The Achievement Gap
Editorial Board Adina Haun, Editor and Trends in Education Yeprem Mehranian, Administration Speaks Tutu Heinonen, News Around the School Garine Panossian, Armenian Corner Hasmik Mehranian, Layout/Publisher
By Adina Haun Approximately twenty years ago educators and parents were concerned that girls were being educationally shortchanged. The situation was vigorously addressed with various strategies to enhance the position of girls academically in the schools. The outcome of these efforts has been very successful, with girls thriving at all levels of education. Today, the achievement gap is occurring with the boys
lagging behind the girls. Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble With Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons. Their Problems in School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do, delves into many aspects of this trend. The following revelations in this article are gleaned from her research into this widespread phenomenon. Boys living in poverty and boys of color have under achieved for decades; however, today the achievement gap is evident across the entire socio-economic landscape
and in nearly every community. The only indicator in which boys do not lag behind girls is on intelligence tests. On all other indicators—for example, grades in the core subjects of reading, writing, science and math- boys trailed girls, with the gap widening as the boys went through the grades. In fact, attendance in many colleges reflects the gender ratio of 60:40, female to male. Cont. on page 7
KZV Armenian School, SF, CA © 2008
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Administration Speaks: continued Overprotecting can start as early as infancy and continue throughout a child’s years in school. As parents we want to protect our children from being physically and emotionally hurt. But, although we need to make sure our children are safe, sheltering our toddlers from rough and tumble play or not allowing our pre-teens to make their own decisions prevents them from developing independence. Dr. Harris correlates this type of overprotection to raising adults who are uncommitted or who cannot make decisions. Children also need to learn responsibility for their behavior. Experiencing the positive consequences of studying for a test or the negative consequences of forgetting your homework, or not paying attention in class, fosters responsibility and self-mastery. Completing homework assignments and projects (even those which seem difficult to the parent) with minimal help from parents helps boost self esteem and academic growth. Dr. Harris feels that being over-involved with their child’s schoolwork sends a message that the parent doesn’t believe that the child can complete assignments on his own, and that, therefore, he lacks intelligence or capability. Over-involved parents who demand perfection can set up their child to fear failure. A fear of failure can result in a lack of exploration and experimentation, both of which are so necessary for academic growth and future success. We may all be a little overindulgent at birthdays or Christmas, but, according to Dr. Harris, habitual overindulgent parents who cater to their child’s every wish may teach their child to equate material objects to love, and that may result in an adult who tries to substitute things for affection.
Dr. Ken Haller, associate professor of pediatrics at St. Louis School of Medicine, offers the following guidelines for parents who are concerned with over-parenting: 1. Encourage children to discuss their problems, but let them come up with their own solutions. 2. Steer clear of disputing grades, discipline, placement on a team, or squabbles with friends. Enable your child to properly deal with his/her problems by asking him or her what he/she thinks should be done and offering possible solutions. 3. Be available to answer questions and clarify instructions during homework time, but avoid giving answers or doing the homework for your child. The parent’s job is to create a situation where the child can succeed by providing necessary supplies, a quiet and well lit area to study, and a specific time to do homework. 4. Teach your child to respect the authority of teachers and coaches. Although it’s alright to question teachers and coaches, parents should not bad mouth them, break their rules or make excuses for their child. 5. Hold your child accountable and let him/her suffer the consequences of his or her actions. It is especially
important in middle school to make the child responsible for studying, bringing homework home, and turning in assignments on time. 6. If your child is the victim of bullies or peer pressure discuss your concerns with the teacher or administration, and brainstorm with your child on appropriate responses. Try not to directly interfere unless you feel your child is in danger. 7. Respect your child’s teacher/s by making appointments and using email. Teachers are happy to meet with parents, but need to schedule their time to teach and prepare for class. 8. Remember that a parent’s job is to prepare their child to become capable and responsible adults, so decrease your involvement over time and let your child live his/her own life.
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On December 16th, the lower grades gathered in the library to listen to “I’m Thankful Essays” written by the students in first, second, and third grades. The winning essays were: Eva Oskanian (“I’m Thankful”), Hagop Chinchinian (“I’m Thankful
For…”), and Razmig Makasdjian (“It’s the People that I’m Thankful For”). The essays reminded us of the myriad things for which we give thanks. After the reading students enjoyed holiday cheer, apple juice, and Christmas cut-out cookies made by the 3rd graders.
Thanksgiving Dinner Mr. Orr's fifth grade class has much to be thankful for as the 2008-2009 school year keeps sending its blessings. The class is learning its reading, writing, and arithmetic, but is having fun doing it! Before Thanksgiving break, Mr. Orr's students wanted to celebrate in a way that only they could! The students decided that they wanted to have a feast, not just an ordinary party! Family members were invited and a menu was prepared. Foods from different backgrounds, such as ones from Russia, Armenia, Lebanon, and the southern United States, were ready to be eaten! The students had a wonderful time sharing what they were thankful for, playing "Pin the Tail on the Turkey", and petting Mr. Orr's dog, Drew. This feast was a wonderful opportunity for Mr. Orr's class to share time with one another and was a reminder that we all have things to be thankful for.
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News from Around the School: continued Pre-K News Knarik Shahijanian, Pre-K Director
Hello parents! December has proven to be yet another wonderful and action-packed month for our Pre-K students! This month’s focus has been on the celebration of Christmas. We have been learning about the birth of Jesus and have been putting our learning into action with our rendition of The Nativity. Each and every child played a very important role in telling the story of our Savior’s birth, from our own Joseph and Mary, right down to our little sheep! Everyone did an amazing job at the Christmas Hantess and we could not be more proud of our little ones. We also learned about the tradition of Santa Claus and the celebration of the New Year. To get ready for Santa’s visit to our classroom, we made a paper chain with links symbolizing each day until Santa’s arrival. Every morning, we would cut one of the links until there were none left and Santa arrived! He brought us traditional Armenian goodies, our very own version of “cheere oo chameech” and some lovely gifts. We were so
excited and thankful that we offered our appreciation through Christmas songs and poems that we learned especially for him! He loved it and told us he was very proud of us! We have also been learning about the many different shapes found all around us and to help us with the concept, we made many different shaped ornaments for our classroom Christmas tree. From circles to squares to triangles and everything
else in between, we had a lot of fun learning all about them. Amidst all this fun and excitement, we were lucky enough to welcome the newest member of our Yellow Group, Shant Panossian! Welcome, Shant! We hope you have fun learning as you play!
And with that, all of us at the PreK wish all of you a happy and joyous Christmas and a very, very Happy New Year!
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Kindergarten kids selling bookmarks to raise funds for clean water project in Armenia.
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Armenian Corner: continued
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Armenian Corner: continued
Alidz Agbabian, a storyteller and author who specializes in Armenian and Middle Eastern oral traditions, brought folk tales, myths, songs and legends to KZV.
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Armenian Corner: continued
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Trends in Education: continued Dr. Glenn McGee, head of the elementary/middle school system in Wilmette, Illinois, launched an in-depth study of this trend in his middle/upper class district. He garnered information by interviewing parents and teachers, reviewing literacy rates, and classroom grades over a four year time span. He determined that there are no easy solutions to this problem; each situation is unique and needs a solution tailored to its particulars. The following ideas and insights shed light on possible solutions:
Teachers need to mix desk work with physical activity, as boys need to move around more than girls (data gleaned from a Canadian study in developmental psychology). Greater activity levels are needed from age 2, peaking at age 8. Schools need to rethink their zero-tolerance policies banning pretend violence. Many little boys indulge in action aggression. Michael Thompson (Raising Cain) points out that this type of play among boys also involves ideas of “courage,valor, and loyalty”. Classroom teachers need to stock their classrooms with a wide variety of reading material: irreverent books, comic books, manuals/how things work guides, and factual material (Guinness World Records, for example).
All types of writing should be encouraged— action/adventure, and factual reporting, for example. Schools need to urge boys to take leadership roles in schools and to be active in extracurricular projects; for example, working on the school newspaper, chess club, yearbook and student government. Keeping Dads involved in their sons’ attainments is crucial. Boys feel more connected to academic endeavors if their Dads attend PTA meetings, check their homework, and participate with their sons in school activities. Kay Kobbe, a classroom veteran of 35 years, maintains a wooden block construction rd corner in her 3 grade classroom. She considers the use of the blocks a sophisticated activity, teaching fractions, geometry, even physics and art. This activity has tremendous boy appeal, as well as educational validity. Susan Charles, principal of Ohlone Elementary School in Palo Alto, has made great efforts to make boy-friendly changes in her school, such as run breaks, allowing students to work outside, and maintaining a flexible attitude about the individual needs of boys (for example, use of “fat” pencils for boys with less developed motor skills; or, allowing children to stand, rather than sit, while doing writing assignments.) Ms. Charles is also the Chailr of the KZV WASC Visiting Committee.
The first step in closing the gap is awareness of the problem by all the adults who work with boys. Out of this awareness, adults can fashion many creative and unique solutions.
The stakes have never been higher for solutions to remedying this gap, as college is seen as a necessary step for personal satisfaction, as well as the attainment of a middleclass life. The educational achievement disparity was addressed for girls, and answering the call for boys in no way implies a rollback of the gains made by girls. Both our boys and girls deserve an educational environment that nurtures their connection and enjoyment to academic success.
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Editor-The book that Ms. Haun presents, The Path to Purpose (Damon), addresses a fundamental question, perhaps the only true question, in our postmodern world. The idea of asking why gives the child a feeling of control over life. Having a choice, the ability to decide one’s fate, what we call free-will, is at the forefront of our national ideology. In reality, choice is something we rarely think about until it is often too late. Even the concept of deciding what one does with one’s life sounds outdated. In these growing harsh economic times, the expectation is that a student will fulfill the demands of society, pursuing whatever career is most lucrative. The luckier ones (artists, explorers, adventurers) understand intuitively that life has no road map, that none of us are taking it with us when we go, and we are all going to go. The clever children will seek to find out what it is they are meant to do and pursue
it as quickly as possible, bypassing later life regret. Dreams are the key to unlocking a sense of purpose. If we avoid finding or following a deeper purpose, even a prestigious education or a lucrative income will not deliver true joy. To be or not to be. Aren Haun New York
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