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The Home-School Partnership: my favorite parenting books

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Self help books, seminars and retreats have grown tremendously since Samuel Smiles published his book, Self Help, in 1859 . According to Research and Markets, in 2016 the self-help industry was worth about $9.9 billion dollars. And if you do an Amazon search on parenting books, tens of thousands of titles are returned. Some may question whether reading someone else's thoughts is truly 'self help'. If you're like others, you may say, "I'll read it and takeaway just the worthwhile parts". But how do you know what's worth reading? Furthermore, how do you know if what you're practicing at home aligns with your child's future or current school experience? Does what happens at home versus at school even matter?

As an educator, I can tell you that many of my peers cite parent interactions as the most stressful and least desired aspect of teaching. We all know how important the partnership between home and school is, yet parent conferences and report cards tend to be the most dreaded activities. Schools have incorporated Parent Education seminars in an effort to strengthen the partnership and create some visibility into the skills and attributes that make for a successful school experience. All of these efforts are to be commended! I am of the opinion, however, that education is much like medicine-- for every person who ascribes to one philosophy, there's another who does not. So what are we to do?

My recommendation is that you find alignment with the school/ philosophy that best aligns with your child. Now what does that mean? It means that you do as Dr. Maria Montessori said, "follow the child." As you observe your child, you will learn more about them. And if you pay attention, you'll discover who they are and more importantly, who they are meant to be.

At Marva Collins Cottage School, we take the admissions process very seriously. We want to create a community of learners who can thrive in this environment. Our educational philosophy involves a lot of modeling and is student-led so it isn't about 'cherry picking children who fit a mold', but it is about getting to know the child and assessing their readiness for our learning environment. It is also about supporting their families as they endeavor to raise these independent, resilient and self-directed children. For this month's blog, I decided to highlight some of the resources I've found useful along the way. These books model excellent strategies for communication, discipline and academic success. I look forward to discussing many of the topics addressed in these, and other books, in future posts.


Ms. Amaya

IMHO, the gospel truth on communication! Read for their time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships, including:

- Cope with your child's negative feelings, such as frustration, anger, and disappointment

- Express your strong feelings without being hurtful

- Engage your child's willing cooperation

- Set firm limits and maintain goodwill

- Use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline

- Understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise

- Resolve family conflicts peacefully

What a dichotomy-- Ms. Amaya is both firm and kind. How can this be? In this book, Jane Nelsen teaches us that the key to positive discipline is not punishment, but mutual respect. She coaches us that any child–from a three-year-old toddler to a rebellious teenager–can learn creative cooperation and self-discipline with no loss of dignity. Read to discover how to:

- bridge communication gaps and defuse power struggles

- avoid the dangers of praise yet enforce your message of love

- hold children accountable with their self-respect intact

- teach children not what to think but how to think

Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control.

He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. Read to broaden your thoughts on what matters most.

We know you love them. We do too! Children need to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful and resilient adults. Lahey examines how modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. These parents see themselves as being responsive to their children’s well being, but they aren’t giving their children the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems. Read to understand how to step back and embrace your child’s failures.

Whenever I ask parents why they are doing something with their child, I often hear, "so they will be successful in life!" Let us take the time to consider that our children are growing up in a world that is very different than the one we experienced at their age. Thus the skills, and by extension-- the education they receive should also differ.

Read. This. Book. (or at least watch the documentary)

Today more than ever, we prize academic achievement, pressuring our children to get into the “right” colleges, have the highest GPAs, and pursue advanced degrees. But while students may graduate with credentials, by and large they lack the competencies needed to be thoughtful, engaged citizens and to get good jobs in our rapidly evolving economy. Our school system was engineered a century ago to produce a workforce for a world that no longer exists. Alarmingly, our methods of schooling crush the creativity and initiative young people really need to thrive in the twenty-first century. This book presents a new vision of American education, one that puts wonder, creativity, and initiative at the very heart of the learning process and prepares students for today’s economy.

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