Articles Posted in Parenting Generally

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“American eighth-graders score 66 points below their Japanese counterparts in math, yet almost 40 percent of American children think they’re good in math. That figure for Japan is 4 percent. “This comes from an editorial by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post. He’s mixing together studies and does not explain what 66 points even means (is a 1% or 20% difference?). But, still, you get the point.

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I have three kids in Pre-K. It is an article of faith to me that it is a good idea – at least for our kids – and I barely remember my wife and I spending a lot of time debating whether to send our kids to Pre-K. Like most of us, I’m always merrily looking for articles and data that support the wisdom of my thinking.

Today I have New Jersey to thank. New Jersey says it is forking out more than $11,000 a year per child in Pre-K and they are glad they are: the number of kids who repeat first grade has been cut in half in poor districts that offer two years of Pre-K.

Would you get the same data in suburbia? I don’t know but I suspect so. What kids really learn is who they are, how they fit in and how they are going to deal with different people and places. We can’t teach that to our kids at home.

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There is not much I could say about Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” that has not already been said on the Internet. The buzz – mostly negative – proves the axiom that any publicity is better than no publicity and is making Amy Chua a fortune.

Here is my take: let’s say you think Amy Chua is a nutcase narcissist and a terrible parent. Even with that premise, this is still a great book that (1) will teach you something about parenting (again, even if you disagree with the whole premise), and (2) you will enjoy the read.

I think Amy Chua is definitely a little nuts and I would not want her as a parent to me or my children. But there is no doubt that she is a gifted writer and a mother who loves her children.

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My wife and I have been reading Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.

One key premise of the book goes to the issue of whether we need a book like this in the first place. Don’t we have instincts as parents we can follow? The premise of the book is that many of our instincts as parents are just dead wrong.

According to Nurture Shock, the one instinct – that seems to have “evolved” even more in recent years – to praise your children in generalities does them more harm than good. How many parents tell their children they are smart? Before I read this book, I must have told my kids that at least 10 times a day. It feels good to praise your kids and you feel like you are being a 21st Century parent when you do it. But the research offered in the book is clear that it’s counterproductive.