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The Polite Times 
 A regular newsletter published by The PoliteChild, Inc.
 Vol III, No 6
August 2004 

In This Issue

1. President's Corner

2. Upcoming “Teacher Training” in the Desert – for Credit!

3. Parenting Tip: Forks, Knives, and Spoons

4. PoliteChild: Waiting for Entrepreneur and more

5. Party Manners Booklet Now Available

6. Reminder: Message Boards – Social Skills and PoliteChild

President’s Corner – Improving Student Academic Achievement

Dear PoliteChild families, supporters, and friends:

Can this title be correct? We’re going to talk about academic achievement in this month’s “Corner?” How can that be? Aren’t we supposed to be all about social skills?

Yes, exactly.

I was reading a story in my local newspaper the other day, and the article was discussing academic test scores from the past school year and how to improve them. As was expected, the emphasis was typically on the need to spend more time on math, science, reading, etc. As I read on, I felt the story was overlooking one critically important question: how does the lack of social skills affect this picture?

A few days earlier, I had presented some of the details about classroom discipline and the enormous waste of time, money, lack of student achievement, and downturn of teacher morale at a local chapter of Rotary International. Part of my presentation was based on information The PoliteChild has published on our website on our Financial Cost/Benefit page. On that page, we show the financial impact in both dollars and days on an “average” school with varying levels of time lost due to behavioral management or discipline issues. These don’t have to be just bullies or troublemakers, but takes into account time lost due to inattention, indifference, and other symptoms of students’ not understanding or caring that being in class, doing their work, paying attention is their current “job.”

How is this related to PoliteChild? I personally know that in schools where PoliteChild programs are incorporated into the school day, principals and teachers have been very impressed with the decrease in discipline issues, increased attention span, and overall improvements in students' behavior. This is highly significant because, as a result of the No Child Left Behind legislation, schools must perform to federally mandated achievement levels and can't afford to lose the statistical 30-50% of a teaching day on average due to discipline issues.

While the theories of spending more time on math or science or reading are all well and good, the most significant factor that will determine whether or not students succeed is this: you can't teach them until you have their attention. Until our school system begins to seriously address this issue, we're only going to get so much blood out of the proverbial educational turnip.

Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic,… and Respect! Those, together, are the keys to success!

As always, I thank you for your support and welcome your comments! You can reach me any time at corinneg@politechild.com.

Corinne Gregory
President and Founder, The PoliteChild, Inc.

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  Upcoming “Teacher Training” in the Desert – for Credit!


Monday, August 30th will be a busy day here at PoliteChild’s Southwest Regional office! At press time, we’re slated to be training upwards of 50 teachers in our SocialSmarts™ for GradeSchoolers course.

Sponsored and paid for by Desert Sands Unified School District, this training is open to any and all teachers in the District who would like to learn more about The PoliteChild and its introductory program. And, even better, teachers are getting Continuing Education credits for taking the course through California State University of San Bernardino.

This is terrific news for both teachers and The PoliteChild. There are several colleges and universities that have teacher education programs that have inquired about our training for teachers. With CSUSB granting CE credits, this sets a great precedent for these other schools that are considering doing similar things for their students, teachers, and communities.

At the time of this writing, the final tally for the number of teachers was not yet in, but there could be 60 or more in this one session. This training session will be used as part of the content for an upcoming training video/DVD for SocialSmarts which will enable PoliteChild to expand its training offering to serve more schools, especially those that might not be able to readily afford on-site instructor-led training to their teachers.

Stay tuned for more news on this exciting topic! For more information on how to start a similar program in your community or state college or university, contact us!

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 Parenting Tip: Forks, Knives, and Spoons


This month, we’ll tackle one aspect of dining and table manners: using your utensils properly!

It’s unfortunate to find out how often kids are not learning to use their utensils properly. No, we’re not talking about the great debate of “American” or “Continental” methods of wielding a knife and fork, although we can certainly launch into that argument at a later date!

But, you’d be surprised to find out how many grade-school aged children (and older!) don’t really know how to use a knife – one of the basic tools of the dining trade – at all!

This shouldn’t be a great mystery. Why are our kids not learning that there are three essential “weapons” for dealing with food, and how to use each one in its proper and most-effective way?

Parents are often worried that a small child will not be able to use a knife safely or effectively, and so avoid giving them this important item. The result is that kids frequently grow up not knowing how to use a knife at all. Often well into the late gradeschool years!

I believe part of the solution is this: instead of buying your toddler or preschooler those cute theme-character spoon and fork sets, why not invest in a real set of flatware for him or her that they can manage? There are some terrific sets out there if you’re willing to look. I’ve personally purchased a “Veggie Tales” themed one that had a simple, safe toddler “knife.”

There are even some scaled-down “grown-up” flatware sets, suitable for every day as well as for special occasions. I’ve previously purchased ones by Heritage Mint. And just saw them again on display here in a California grocery store as part of a specialty multi-week “collectors” offering, so they must be fairly common. They have three or four different patterns to choose from so you’re likely to find something that fits in with your existing flatware pattern.

Check out some of the resources we’ve put together for children’s flatware on our website!

The knives included in these sets are safe enough for young children and fit their smaller hands. They may not be effective for cutting into challenging or tough foods like steaks, but for a young child learning to use his utensils, they needn’t be. But, they provide the opportunity for realistic practice, and allow your child to become comfortable with the idea of using a knife to make smaller bites out of food too big to fit reasonably in one’s mouth, and as a tool for aiding food onto your fork.

Can’t find a good flatware set that includes a knife? Well, in a pinch, a straight (not angled) butter spreader will do. It will work on soft foods such as pancakes or eggs, and again provides a decent facsimile for practice.

There’s no reason why your child can’t learn to use a knife in the same way they learn (or have learned) to use a spoon or a fork. It’s a matter of experimentation, guidance, and practice until they have mastered the technique. And, by getting them started early, you’re giving them a leg-up in the world of dining and table manners.

…now, shall we progress to the near-religious discussion of “Continental” vs. “American?” Nah…maybe next month.


Would you like to submit a question for a future Parenting Tips section or have a comment? Let us know!

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 PoliteChild: Waiting for Entrepreneur and more

There has been a lot of media work going on in The PoliteChild offices these days. We’ve completed several interviews and more are pending.

Our soon-to-be-announced affiliate in Phoenix/Scottsdale had a terrific letter to the editor placed in the Arizona Republic about there being more to good social skills than knowing whether your pinkie is supposed to be “up” when drinking tea. To read the letter or the original story that sparked it, see http://www.politechild.com/articles/azrepublic20040726.pdf. We’ve had several responses and quite a bit of interest in our programs as a result.

Notable among the August media contacts are “Real Simple” magazine, on the subject of Holiday Parties and social survival tips for a happier holiday season. There’s also a possible upcoming appearance in a national women’s magazine on the topic of New Year’s resolutions.

September 16th, PoliteChild President and Founder Corinne Gregory is scheduled to appear on the Desert local TV program, “The Talking Stick.” It airs on PAX and WB on back-to-back days, the 16th and 17th of September.

Parenting Magazine is still slated for November on the topic of teaching kids gratitude. Brainstorm NW is going to be featuring us in the October issue.

…and we’re still waiting for Entrepreneur. We’ve been told it’s an “evergreen” story so it can be fit in at just about any time. Guess we’ll have to keep buying copies just in case!

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 Party Manners Booklet Now Available


Our newest e-booklet, Party Manners Worth Celebrating is now available for download from the PoliteChild website. One of the most frequent topics parents (and the media!) question us about is how to improve your child’s conduct at one of their earliest social “appearances” – the birthday party.

To address the many questions we get about this topic The PoliteChild has created a handbook which is available to all our newsletter subscribers and the general public.

In the booklet, you’ll find answers to your birthday party questions and cover topics such as:

  • What’s expected when your child is the host
  • Your child as the guest
  • Invitations and RSVPs
  • Giving and receiving gifts graciously
  • Thank you notes

And more…

You can get your very own copy of the Party Manners booklet today, for only $4.95 the booklet will cost once it is generally available.

To get your copy, go here and follow the download instructions. We know you’ll find it to be a valuable resource for yourself, and even to share with your neighborhood, homeschool network, PTO, or other family/parenting group. We hope you enjoy your copy! And, we’d love to get any feedback you may have!

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  Reminder: Message Boards – Social Skills and PoliteChild


We reminded our readers last month that we have set up a couple of message boards for our subscribers and the general public.

One board is related to social skills issues in general; the second is dedicated to discussions and questions about The PoliteChild program, its classes, etc. They can both be found on Yahoo and you can use the following links to subscribe to them:

social-skills-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
politechild-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

We will also be announcing a group that is specifically for our growing list of national (and soon international!) licensees so that they have a forum for exchanging information related to their new independent PoliteChild businesses, so stay tuned!

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