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The Polite Times 
 A regular newsletter published by The PoliteChild, Inc.
 Vol V, No 1
January 2006 

In This Issue

1. It's Just a Phone Call!

2. Time to Use Current Title I Funds Running Out

3. Book Review - "Writing Great Thank You Notes"

4.Parent/Teacher Tip of the Month: Handling Interruptions in Groups

5. Products for HomeSchooling or Consumer Use

6. PoliteChild In the News

7. What Would You Like to See?

8. What Can We Do For You?


President’s Corner – It’s just a Phone Call!

Dear PoliteChild family, supporters, and friends:

Does it ever seem to you that technology hasn’t really made our lives that much better? You’d think that with the proliferation of email/voicemail/instant messages, cell phones/PDAs, wireless access devices and more, communicating with one another would be easier than ever.

Yet, how is it that our communication skills appear to be deteriorating faster than the companies build tools to enable bigger, better, and faster interchange?

It seems to me – and to others I’ve spoken with – that it is getting harder and harder to get through to people. And, the simple “return call” has become an endangered species!

Not too long ago, the simple courtesy of closing the loop reached an all-time low for me. I had a business trip where meetings with several individuals had been confirmed weeks in advance. In fact, the trip had essentially been planned around those meetings. The day before the meetings, I did my usual round of calls to make one last final confirmation of places, times, and participants. It may seem incredible, but wouldn’t you know it, not one single representative of those meetings ever returned a phonecall? The entire trip’s set of meetings fell through, in spite of repeated attempts to communicate with our contacts.

While I found it personally frustrating that the entire day’s schedule had gone to waste, it was even more so because this is apparently not an isolated incident. Many of us complain that people no longer return phone calls, faxes, emails, etc. Email has become a challenging tool because virus protection software and anti-spamware frequently blocks legitimate messages so we often don’t know if our emails get through to the intended recipient.

But, that’s not the majority of the problem. What is it, then, that causes us to disregard the simple courtesy of returning a call? Yes, we’re all horrendously busy. We are expected to get too much done, in too little time, and we’re out of bandwidth. I don’t know a single person who isn’t overloaded?

Unsolicited calls or communications are one thing, but there’s no excuse, in my book, for not returning a call or email when you’ve asked for information, set up a meeting, or participated in voluntary communication.

It’s simple: return the call, or send a follow up email, within 48 hours max. Make a list and follow through, even if it’s to say you can’t talk now but will get back to your caller at another time. If you’ve agreed to a meeting and something comes up, you have an obligation to let your other participants know that.

It’s not just good business, it’s common courtesy. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “common courtesy” is rarely common.

If you haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions yet, maybe you’d like to take this one on: make it a policy to return any and all non-unsolicited calls/emails within 48 hours, and be sure to confirm all your appointments the day before.

You may think it’s stressful to keep up with all the communication, but I can guarantee it will be significantly less stressful than keeping that mental list of all the people who’ve forgotten to call or meetings that have slipped by.

I love to hear your comments and feedback – drop me a line today! -- so feel free to email me at corinneg@politechild.com.

Corinne Gregory, President & Founder



  Time to Use Current Title I Funds Running Out


Schools are always looking for ways to pay for PoliteChild programs.

While the benefits of PoliteChild more than justify the cost of the program, regardless of how reasonable the cost may be, schools are continually forced to scrape together money for any new endeavor. But, as they say, “timing is everything,” and schools are coming up on a window that can be used to advantage, if schools are aware of it.

Title I funding – from No Child Left Behind – is a source of money that is allocated and awarded on a yearly basis. If the funds that have been allocated for the year are not fully used, not only does the school lose them for that year, but the amount of funds allocated for next year are reduced by that amount. So, not fully using Title I funds becomes a double-whammy for cash-strapped schools.

What schools have done in years past is to use “left-over” Title I money now to pay for next year’s PoliteChild programs. In essence, the school is making the investment now, to lock in current year’s pricing and get teacher training and materials on the schedule for next Fall. It’s a way to get a jump on getting PoliteChild into the school by using the money available now to pay for part or all of PoliteChild programs for later.

For most schools, the deadline for using Title I funds is the end of March. Your school or district may have a different deadline, so if you think this may be something that would work for your school, check with your Title I administrator or coordinator.

If you need help with documenting how PoliteChild can help with Title I requirements, let us know. We can help you show how our programs decrease discipline problems, improve student time-on-task, and increase academic achievement and student test scores. You can always reach us at info@politechild.com.



 Book Review – “Writing Great Thank-You Notes”


Well, thankfully the main glut of holidays is behind us. The thank you notes for all those gifts have all been written and mailed, right? Or…maybe not. If you’re not sure exactly what needs to be in a thank you note or when they’re appropriate, here’s a new book we can recommend that can help. Entitled, “The Kid’s Guide to Writing Great Thank-You Notes,” this book, written by Pacific Northwest author Jean Summers is a terrific “how to” on the subject.

Although it’s designed and written for kids, we can tell you honestly that this is a good primer for grownups, too! But, since this is a book intended for the youngsters, we thought we’d have one of our own PoliteChild students take a read and give us her opinion. Here’s her review:

     A good book if you are just learning how to write a thank-you note. I think that it has everything you need to know on writing a thank-you      note.

     You write a thank-you note almost each time you get a gift.

     This book was very helpful to me. The way it was helpful is that it had a lot of sample thank-you notes. In one chapter, it has five quick      steps on how to write a good thank-you note. I recommend this book for all children ages five and up.

This is a short book – only 37 pages – but it makes every page count. Definitely a good addition to any parent’s library!



 Parent/Teacher Tip of the Month: Handling Interruptions in Groups


Boy, the topic of interruptions seems to have endless variations, many of which require specialized solutions. This month’s tip is useful for parents, but will also be particularly appreciated by teachers in the classroom, we think.

Teachers, no doubt you have one or two students who forget to raise their hands before being called on, or interject comments at inappropriate times? Well, we have a new idea for you to try that follows the PoliteChild policy of “positive discipline” and can be very effective in breaking a pattern of habitual interruption.

It’s typical and tempting to “fix” the problem of the habitual interrupter by calling attention to the problem in an attempt to raise the student’s awareness of his/her inappropriate interruptions. But, focusing on the negative behavior can have some unwanted side-effects. Consider this: If your student jumps in with a comment, perhaps it’s because he/she is extra-sharp and always knows the answer. Or, it may just be over-enthusiasm that causes them to burst out. Perhaps it’s just poor impulse control; different kids learn the self-control necessary for good classroom participation at varying times.

In any case, zooming in on the problem may raise awareness, but does nothing to produce a solution. If you continually harp about how many times the student has interrupted, you may make him/her so self-conscious that they decide to shut down and not participate at all. Or, the entire class may become so aware of that one individual’s behavior that they begin to emphasize the behavior themselves, or tease the student. None of these side-effects are positive and can make the problem bigger than it really is.

Most of the time, students that constantly interrupt have developed a bad habit of doing so. With many habits, the way to “cure” it is to intervene with a significant behavioral shift. One thing you may want to try is to institute a “listening period” – such as a full morning or day – where the student is encouraged not to participate at all. Instead, it is their job to just look and listen. Of course, if he needs to ask a question or needs to be excused from class for some reason, he is permitted to raise his hand and ask. But, as a rule, for “Listening Day,” silence is golden.

This has a benefit of removing the pressure of “not interrupting” from the student. And, because it’s a positive behavior – listening – you can use positive reinforcement techniques to acknowledge and validate the desired behavior instead of criticizing or calling attention to the negative behavior. Having a “listening day” is also something you can cycle through with all students, so it doesn’t become an exclusionary tactic. All of us – young and old alike – can benefit from being better listeners, so this is a good way to practice that valuable skill. So, “listening day” can become a good way to develop the ability to be a good listener.

Try a “Listening Day” in your classroom. It may not result in instant behavior change, but you can use them on a regular or intermittent basis, checking in between to see how your habitual interrupter is progressing. Remember to praise positive behavior changes and you’ll probably be surprised and pleased to see how fast the interrupter improves.

Was this Parent/Teacher Tip valuable? If so, we’d love to hear about it – or let us know what else you’d like to hear about, and we may feature it in an upcoming issue of The PoliteTimes.

Also, check back-issues of The PoliteTimes for more parenting tips and suggestions!




 Products for HomeSchooling or Consumer Use


We are continually getting calls, emails and other inquiries about whether we have products for use as home-school curriculum or in-home use. The answer is “yes!” If this sounds like you, you may be interested in our independent training product, -- the SocialSmarts for Gradeschoolers DVD – available for purchase directly from our website!

While we do take email and phone orders for this product, we thought we’d make it easy for anyone who wanted instant access to our products to order the DVD Instructor set directly through the PoliteChild Store. And, it’s the featured product on our home page!

To see exactly what it is you get, and to order the full 4-DVD Instructor program, go to http://www.politechild.com/store/storemain.htm. You’ll be able to add this new tool to your shopping cart, along with our popular “got manners?” T-Shirts, “PoliteChild on Board” stickers, and more…

These products, while available for public use, are licensed materials, which means that they are sold on a “right-to-use” basis, much like computer software. As a licensed product, you may purchase the curriculum for limited use – home or small-scale homeschooling, for example. Student/parent materials need to be purchased from The PoliteChild; the materials in the Instructor binders, for example, may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission from The PoliteChild.

However, should you want to build a PoliteChild business of your own, or offer PoliteChild courses as a commercial endeavor, we do have a full licensing program available. For more information on the licensing program, contact us at info@politechild.com or visit our website at http://www.politechild.com/company-license.htm.



  PoliteChild in the News


Back in the earlier days of The PoliteTimes, the book review section used to be a regular feature of our monthly newsletter. We felt that the newsletter was just getting too long for all the good stuff we could share, but we’ve recently gotten feedback that our readers enjoyed the reviews we’ve done in the past. So, this month, we dig into our library and pull out a book that, while hardly new, does show that good manners and strong social skills are as important today as they were 30 years ago …


 What would you like to see?


Here’s where The PoliteChild was mentioned in the past several month …

PoliteChild featured in The Sacramento Bee in the article entitled "Minding their manners, if you please."

The Press-Enterprise of Inland California – PoliteChild, its programs and successes were highlighted in the article, “Calling Miss Manners.”



 What Can We Do For You?


The PoliteTimes is continually adding more readers and gaining a broader audience, but we’re continually striving to offer you the right information, news and tips for our newsletters that are interesting and relevant.

Do you have something you’d like to see us cover or have a question you’d like us to answer (privately or through our newsletter)? Is there someone you think should have our newsletter but doesn’t currently subscribe? If so, contact us at info@politechild.com or by phone at 866.485.4089!

We appreciate all those folks who have already written us to give us feedback. We do read each and every one of your letters and take your input seriously! If you don’t get a response from us in 48 hours, please email us again. We’re finding that SPAM filters seem to be overly efficient in blocking out correspondence sometimes, even the correspondence that’s wanted and welcome!



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