Thursday, September 25, 2008

Talking About My Book to Parents and Teachers.

I spoke at two wonderful events in the last couple of days – one at the New Canaan Library in New Canaan, Ct, sponsored by a bookstore called Elm Street Books and then, in the lovely town of Madison, Ct. at R.J. Julia Bookstore.

Both events drew about 100 people each – and after I spoke about my book for 20 (ok, more like 30) minutes, we had a very lively discussion.

Such thoughtful interesting perspectives! Both audiences were heavy with teachers who came out on a school night (no easy task) to talk about the ways in which boys struggle in school. A veteran first grade teacher from New Haven told me that her first graders get NO RECESS AT ALL!! She looked very upset as she talked about the effect on the children – and the boys. Another, a school guidance counselor, talked about his boy-heavy case load and the ways in which he sees boys disengage from school and the consequences for their education and their lives. Fascinating. And further proof.

Thanks for all of you who came out to those events.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Scores of Teachers Write to Applaud the Book!

The title might sound a bit anti-teacher. But when you read the pages you'll see that it is not so! The book is full off appreciation and gratitude for the job most teachers do. Teachers, especially experienced ones, know they aren't reaching a lot of boys. They see how the schools devalue what boys need. Here's letter I got yesterday from a teacher in Georgia:

"I have been arguing the points you make for years. We have forgotten how children develop and at what rate. Keep up the good work."

Thanks for that!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

I have hundreds of letters from parents of sons in my inbox

I will answer each one personally but here's an example of what I'm hearing:

I came home today more frustrated than I believe I have ever been with the Public School System. Once again, my son brought home a “red slip” from school. Talk about anxiety building for him and for me. Can’t help to think maybe I have flunked out as a parent... He is a great, funny, very active, beautiful blued eye, six year old boy. Love him to pieces and would not trade him for the world. As much frustration he brings me in certain situations he also brings me ten times the amount of joy. Thanks again for sharing your book. I sure needed it right when I received it.

I worked hard to make this book useful to parents and teachers. Letters like this are pretty gratifying.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Conversation Has Begun!

I think I struck a nerve with my new book. Forty eight hours after my book came out, friends emailed to say it was #13 on Then letters starting coming in -- teachers saying it was about time someone started talking about this, anguished parents describing their son's struggles. Not ten letters. HUNDREDS of letters. Every day since my book came out. I'm reading each one and I'll answer each one, but right now, I"m going to post a few (after I get the author's permission of course) to reflect the kinds of concerns I"m hearing.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Here's the Newsweek Story I Wrote This Week ONE MILLION PEOPLE READ IT!

By Peg Tyre

Every other week it seems a new study comes out that adds to our already-formidable arsenal of parental worries. But even by those escalating standards, the report issued last week by the federal government's National Center for Health Statistics contained a jaw-dropper: the parents of nearly one of every five boys in the United States were concerned enough about what they saw as their sons' emotional or behavioral problems that they consulted a doctor or a health-care professional. By comparison, about one out of 10 parents of girls reported these kinds of problems. (See the study here.)

The report confirms what many of us have been observing for some time now: that lots of school-age boys are struggling. And, parents are intensely worried about them.

What is ailing our sons? Some experts suggest we are witnessing an epidemic of ADHD and say boys need more medication. Others say that environmental pollutants found in plastics, among other things, may be eroding their attention spans and their ability to regulate their emotions.

Those experts may be right but I have another suggestion. Let's examine the way our child rearing and our schools have evolved in the last 10 years. Then ask ourselves this challenging question: could some of those changes we have embraced in our families, our communities and our schools be driving our sons crazy?

Instead of unstructured free play, parents now schedule their kids' time from dawn till dusk (and sometimes beyond.) By age 4, an ever-increasing number of children are enrolled in preschool. There, instead of learning to get along with other kids, hold a crayon and play Duck, Duck, Goose, children barely out of diapers are asked to fill out work sheets, learn computation or study Mandarin. The drumbeat for early academics gets even louder when they enter "real" school. Veteran teachers will tell you that first graders are now routinely expected to master a curriculum that, only 15 years ago, would have been considered appropriate for second, even third graders. The way we teach children has changed, too. In many communities, elementary schools have become test-prep factories—where standardized testing begins in kindergarten and "teaching to the test" is considered a virtue. At the same time, recess is being pushed aside in order to provide extra time for reading and math drills. So is history and opportunities for hands-on activities—like science labs and art. Active play is increasingly frowned on—some schools have even banned recess and tag. In the wake of school shootings like the tragedy at Virginia Tech, kids who stretch out a pointer finger, bend their thumb and shout "pow!" are regarded with suspicion and not a little fear.

Our expectations for our children have been ramped up but the psychological and physical development of our children has remained about the same. Some kids are thriving in the changing world. But many aren't. What parents and teachers see—and what this government study now shows—is that the ones who can't handle it are disproportionately boys.
Some researchers responded to last weeks' study by calling for more resources for more mental-health services for children—especially males. That's an admirable goal. But when nearly one in five boys has such serious behavioral and emotional issues that their parents are talking it over with their pediatrician, you can bet we are facing a problem that requires a more fundamental change in our society than medication or weekly therapy. Let's take a moment, before the school year gets any farther underway, and ask ourselves whether we are raising and educating our boys in a way that respects their natural development. And if we are not, let's figure out how we can bring our family life and our schools back into line.

This is one study that we ignore at our peril.

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The Conversation About Boys and School Has Begun

My book was released on Sept. 9th. That day, the editors at kindly posted this little oped piece I wrote. Within 48 hours, it had OVER ONE MILLION web viewers.

Then, and B& started to show the book was selling off the shelves. It is now in the top 20.

If you are reading this and you are a parent of a boy struggling in school, I hope you get a chance to take a look at my book. If you find it useful, and I'm betting you will, tell other parents of sons about it. Let's start talking about what is right in front of our eyes.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Jaw Dropping Statistic.

The federal government just unveiled the results of a survey and found that among parents of boys in the U.S., ONE OUT OF FIVE discussed their sons behavioral or emotional issues with their health care provider or pediatrician. (For girls, it's one out of ten.)

This news was greeted with calls from more mental health care for children -- and especially boys. But when we have one out of five parents of boys worried that their sons' have emotional problems we need to step back and look at how we are raising and educating them. My belief: we are driving them a little crazy.

I've written an op ed about it which I'll post here later.

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