Early Summer 2006

Dear Friends

On a recent trip, I found some time to lounge around my hotel's swimming pool. Within hearing distance were a mother and her young son, who looked to be about 3 years old. They were sitting at the edge of the pool, and the entire time the mother quizzed the little boy about what letters various words began with. When he answered correctly, she'd praise him with a ''Good boy!'' All this, on a sunny, beautiful spring day by a heated pool while other kids played in the water and squealed with joy and wild abandon.

Does anyone else see something, well, sad about this picture? Does it seem strange that this little boy -- barely out of toddlerhood -- was being drilled on phonics at a swimming pool? Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that a 3-year-old at a swimming pool would be better off discovering the magic of water, frolicking, and having silly fun with his mom than being drilled on how the word ''umbrella'' begins with ''U,'' no matter what the latest child development craze may promote. Actually, more and more children's advocates are encouraging us to let our children be children, rather than little robots programmed to do or say something well before it's necessary or even healthy.

Phonics aside, I also think that praising a child with ''Good boy!'' when he gives a correct answer -- or catches a ball, sets the table, eats all of his cereal, whatever -- is not only missing the point, but sending a harmful message. What we intend to do in these cases, I hope, is to praise the behavior. Being specific about what a child has done well is not only satisfying and helpful to the child, it doesn't connect his ability to answer/catch/eat/whatever with his worth as a human being. If he's a ''good boy'' for saying umbrella begins with ''U,'' is he not a good boy if he doesn't? Or if he can't finish his cereal? Or catch the ball? You get my drift. We are all good people. Sometimes our children's behavior leaves something to be desired, sometimes they don't know the answer, sometimes they just aren't hungry and can't clean their plates, and it has nothing to do with ''good'' (or bad). Isn't something like ''Good job!'' (or ''Good thinking!'' or ''Good catch!'') a better way to show our appreciation and praise for, well, a good job than telling a child, ''Good boy!''?

And while we're at it, let's try to play this summer! Along with the signs at pools that say ''No Glass'' and ''No Running,'' it is my humble opinion that there should also be signs that say ''No Phonics Drilling.''

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- The Art of Imperfection

From our archives -- Saddle Up

From our archives -- Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Early Summer 2014 -- Embracing our Dormant Times

From our archives -- Taking Time to Listen

Late Spring 2014 -- Seeing More Clearly

Spring 2014 -- Savor What Makes Your Heart Sing

Early Spring 2014 -- The Power of Quotes

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

Holiday 2013 -- Taking the Time to Listen

Holiday 2013 -- Open our Hearts to the Good Around Us

Fall 2013 -- How to Cope in Tough Times

Late Summer 2013 - The Priceless Gift of Friendship

Midsummer 2013 -- My Luck is Pretty Good Luck

Early Summer 2013 -- Slow Down Enough to Smile

Late Spring 2013 -- Recognizing Gifts

Spring 2013 -- Doing the Best We Can

Early Spring 2013 -- Know Where You're Going

Holiday 2012 -- Our Power to Adapt

Fall 2012 -- Gratitude for What We Have

Early Fall 2012 -- See the Beauty in Front of Us

Late Summer 2012 -- Modify So It Works for You

Summer 2012 -- Finding Balance

Early Summer 2012 -- Go Ahead and Take that Risk!

Late Spring 2012 - Trusting Your Gut

Spring 2012 - Living Life to the Fullest

Early Spring 2012 - New Year, No Excuses

Winter 2011 - A Thoughtful Tip

Holiday 2011 - How Did I Get Here?

Fall 2011 - Giving Thanks for What We Already Have

Late Summer 2011 - Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Midsummer 2011 - Friends Through Thick and Thin

Early Summer 2011 - The Power of Nice

Late Spring 2011 - The Gifts of Spring

Spring 2011 - Worst Case Scenario

Early Spring 2011 - Break Away From the Herd

Winter 2010 - Lessons From Feral Kitty

Holiday 2010 - The Art of Imperfection

Fall 2010 - When the Student is Ready...

Late Summer 2010 - Saddle Up

Midsummer 2010 - Hurry Up and Wait

Early Summer 2010 - Don't Just Stand There. Do Something!

Late Spring 2010 - Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Taking That First Step

Early Spring 2010 - I Think it's Time

Winter 2009 - Choose Love, Not Fear

Holiday 2009 - Paying it Forward

Fall 2009 - You're Not Alone

Late Summer 2009 - "Searching" for Peace

Midsummer 2009

Early Summer 2009

Late Spring 2009

Spring 2009

Early Spring 2009

Winter 2008

Holiday 2008

Fall 2008

Late Summer 2008

Midsummer 2008

Early Summer 2008

Late Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Early Spring 2008

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Holiday 2007

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Late Summer 2007

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Holiday 2006

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