What children need to be successful in school.

August 25, 2014

Talented teachers + engaged students +challenging curriculum = Success for all.

To make this equation into a reality, children need devoted and caring adults to be successful in and out of school.

As a new school year approaches, the conversation about what makes for good schools and good teachers begins. What do children actually need to be successful in school?  The questions are numerous —class size, teacher/student ratio, how well equipped is the school in terms of technology, how many resources are allocated for professional development and parent education? The questions don’t change and I believe they distract from seeing that children need first and foremost supportive parents and teachers.

Children need a champion, someone who believes in them. Someone who has his or her best interests in mind. Children need a close bond with their teachers. Teachers actually have to like their students to be good teachers. In general, school communities need social trust between parents, teachers and students. There is an intimacy involved in teaching and learning. How many times have we heard how a caring teacher showed a child that he could move beyond himself, into what they did not yet know. In 1977,California spent more money per student than any other state and now ranks 47th. Let’s not slide into faulty thinking that the crisis in education is only about money.

Teaching is a profession, a labor or love, and teachers need some basics to be able to do their job well. Teachers need coaching, they need professional development, and they need to have some autonomy in the classroom. In addition they need time to collaborate and learn from other teachers.

Teachers interact with students many hours of the day but during the school year, parents have less time for that interaction.  I suggest that reading to your children is one of the best ways to give children the attention they need. Talking with children about what you read helps parents be attuned to their thoughts and feelings, which shows children they are understood. In that attention, parents communicate love, respect and children then feel cared for in a gentle and tender way. I know of very few activities that accomplish this as well as reading does

Ongoing Dilemma: Which comes first: reading the book or seeing the movie?

August 14, 2014

I love the book The Giver but I feel ambivalent about it’s movie release on August 15. Since stories enter through the back door of our imaginations, they speak to our hearts and minds in very personal ways. I worry that if a person sees the movie before they read the book, they will know […]


Diane comments in NYT:We often find what we need in the stories we read.

July 22, 2014

I am working with a young woman who never ceases to amaze me with her capacity to feel and act compassionately toward others. And I am also struck on how hard this woman is on herself, with standards she would never inflict on others. My hope was that through the compassion she felt for the […]


A story within a story—the magic of coincidences.

July 14, 2014

I recently had the pleasure of presenting my Conversational Reading approach to a statewide group of CT Librarians. This was a dream come true audience for me since it satisfied a long held fantasy of mine—to know something about what people in my audiences actually do with the ideas I present. As part of the […]


A Reading Fairy Godmother—books open hearts

June 29, 2014

“ Summer Reading for Parents” (WSJ) addresses the challenges parents face in choosing the right book for their child but I see more confusion ahead with the publishing industry’s attempt to label books, hoping to inform parents to make better-informed choices. Here are some simple guidelines to follow. A just right book pairs a child […]


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