Talking is Natural – Reading is Not

I recently heard a fascinating piece on the differences in the human brain between learning to talk (natural and happens for most children fairly effortlessly) and learning to read (not natural, has only been around for a relatively short time in human history, and is rarely effortless for any child).

I must admit I was dismayed to hear that news and to learn that the science has been around for decades but I fear that primary education has opted for a method of “whole language” that is more entertaining (to children and to teachers) over the less delightful but far more effective method of phonics and phonemes in most of our schools throughout the nation. The results have been dismal test scores made even more dismal for the socio-economic levels of our populace who cannot afford extra tutoring, etc., that may turn this around.

The article points out, however, that when test scores on reading are examined closely, the upper-income levels/higher educated parents group of children have also lost ground in reading proficiency since the advent of “whole language” or “balanced literacy.” Continue reading

Claus Creativity

I begin with the fact that I am a Christian, attend church, and yes, I know the reason for the season.

That said, my husband and I decided to make Santa Claus the spirit of generosity in our house and to make it FUN! As the girls grew old enough to appreciate it, there was always a special last present from “Santa Claus,” and it was often the most desired gift on their list.

But that was not the good part, believe it or not! 

Each year Santa was left a cookie or two, a glass of milk, and perhaps a little treat for his reindeer by our daughters. He always responded with bites and sips taken from all and with a lovely, handwritten thank you note to them.

The delight on their faces each Christmas morning as they discovered evidence of Santa’s visit will live in our hearts forever. One year there were ashy footprints from the fireplace to the dining room. Another year, reindeer prints and reindeer poop (oatmeal mixed with chocolate powder and glitter) joined the mix. (Note: Do NOT do this on the carpet!) Continue reading

The Best Labor Day Present

canstockphoto44346454-rogistok-caption

(c) Can Stock Photo / rogistok

My husband’s birthday often falls on Labor Day (although this year it is after the holiday) and the family lovingly teases his mom about “really celebrating Labor Day right!” She has nodded and smiled ruefully over the years, looking with pride at the three wonderful children she brought into the world. She devoted a good portion of her life to being their primary caregiver.

Dad Rourke was an extroverted sales and marketing guy with a great math mind and a way that made everyone around him feel lucky to be there. He always knew that he couldn’t have done what he did without a strong woman to support him and he loved his wife fiercely. His insurance business brought travel and frequent moves for the family, and she was the glue that held it all together.

His success was hers, as well and she took pride in always being his loving, impeccably groomed, and incredibly organized partner. They were our role models in how to make a strong marriage last and they enjoyed over 50 years of happiness.

Rourke 50th Portrait

50th Anniversary Portrait by Sharon Roy Finch

Dad Rourke passed away in 2010, and Mom has resented not going with him sooner as she approaches 93 and is losing much of her independence to age and senility. Over the thirty plus years I have been married to her only son, every once in a while, I have sent her a thank you card on his birthday for giving me and the world such a gift.

This year, I sent it early. I wanted to be sure she would still be able to read it and know, perhaps for the last time, how special she is and how grateful I am to her for all she has done for us.

When we celebrate Labor Day, I know it is primarily to honor the working men and women of industry and commerce, but I submit to you that without the historic and heroic labor of women in the home, whether while giving birth or nurturing, educating, developing and loving these children as they grow, there would be no Labor Day to celebrate.

Happy Labor Day, Mom Rourke. You did a fabulous job and always made it look classy, coordinated, and effortless. As Bob Thaves so famously quipped about the great Ginger Rogers, “Backwards and in high heels,” right?

 

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Making Moments Memorable

The Power of MomentsManagement Parallel: How do you make employees and co-workers feel truly valued? Is a small bonus or a certificate really going to do the trick?

My husband, a customer service expert, is adept at finding great sources of information that make very complex subjects more understandable. He recently shared “The Power of Moments” by Chip & Dan Heath, and I was struck not only by its applicability to a current nonprofit project I am working on but how it validated “Rites of Passage for Your Children.”

Continue reading