The Polite Press
 A regular newsletter published by The PoliteChild™
 Vol II, No 4
May 2003 

In This Issue

1. President's Corner
2. Prom-time Polish
3. Summer Classes
4. Help with Gaining Grant Funding
5. We continue to grow…
6. Need a Speaker?
7. Question of the Month
8. Upcoming Events

President's Corner

Dear PoliteChild family, supporters, and friends:

Well, here we are in May! Hard to believe it, but another school year is rapidly drawing to a close. And, summer is looming. There are graduations, summer camps, celebrations, time off, lazy vacation days.

For many parents, it’s also the time to get a jump on the coming school year. Whereas a few years ago, summer camps offering art, gardening, cooking and other “soft arts” were popular, more and more, parents are opting for academic enrichment camps. These might include math camps, science camps, and more. Tutoring is becoming a hot topic, too, as more and more we are afraid that our children will “lose ground” over the summer and not be optimally prepared to start in on the new school year come September.

So, is it a good thing to use every available opportunity – like the Summer break – to promote and practice academic skills? I was recently interviewed for a parenting magazine that was discussing the trend among schools and parents to reduce or eliminate entirely recesses or lunch breaks, offering students instead the opportunity to add in another academic session or study lab. In this interview, I was being asked if this was a good idea, in my opinion, as a way to boost academic performance or results.

Well, those of you who have read this column regularly can probably predict my response: not only is this practice not a good idea for boosting performance, it’s likely to have exactly the opposite result. How many of us adults can keep truly focused concentration for 2-3 hours at a time, without a break? I’d venture to say not many. Now, ask the same thing of a child or adolescent. They usually already have that much time between class and recess; now take away the only break they have in the day and see what the effect will be. We all need to have a chance to shake out the cobwebs, to clear our mind, to de-clutter. And, we’re grownups that are expected to be able to use “mind over matter.” Union workers are mandated to take regular breaks and go to great lengths to ensure that their contractual rights are upheld. Why? Because the human body needs to take breaks now and then.

And, recess and lunch breaks mean so much more to our kids than just time-out from studies. It’s also an opportunity to practice and try out social skills. Sitting together at a meal, sharing their opinions about the latest trend or movie, playing a new game, learning about each others’ interests – it’s the time to focus on others, not just on the teacher. If our kids don’t have these built-in breaks during their day, where they can socialize and burn off extra energy accumulated during long stretches sitting in a classroom at their desks, what do you suppose will happen? Just like carbonation in a bottle, it’s going to be let out somehow – slowly over time, or explosively, all at once.

No doubt, we all know what it’s like to be cooped up with kids that have not had a chance to burn off their energy, whether it’s from a prolonged period of crummy weather or from illness. We can’t WAIT for them to get their “jollies out.” Kids become fussy, argumentative, disgruntled, frustrated. So do we adults when we have a bout of “cabin fever.” Now project this onto your grade-schooler or teen-ager. When the “bottle” blows, it won’t be pretty. How many of you read about the Illinois hazing incident recently? I’m not saying this was due to cooped up kids, but you can see what damage an excess of negative energy can do.

So, if we’re going to spend time working on the preparatory skills our kids will need in the coming year, perhaps it’s time to teach them more about the virtues – self-control, self-discipline, perseverance, patience, and tolerance. These are skills that will truly benefit them, but are also different enough from what they normally learn as classroom lessons that it will likely get them interested and keep them engaged. Give them coping skills that they can use, whether they have organized “social” breaks or, even more critically if they don’t. Even their academics will improve as a result. And, that’s a pretty good investment of so-called “downtime.”

We welcome your feedback and insights into this topic!

With kind regards,

Corinne A. Gregory

President and Founder, The PoliteChild



 Prom-time Polish

Spring is the time for Proms and Graduations, and other social events! Do you want to show your teen how to make a splash and wow both peers and adults? Easy…teach them how to make a proper introduction.

Teach your teen how to shake hands properly – they’ll likely need to do this with parents or other chaperones. To do this, practice shaking hands “web to web” – so the web of one hand (the space between thumb and index finger) meets the web of the other person whose hand is being shaken. Grip firmly, but not so hard that you’re cutting off circulation. Pump hands three or four times – that’s plenty – while looking the other person in the eye. Younger persons should always “greet” or introduce themselves to older individuals, like adults, or people of greater authority or status (like the class president or valedictorian). If one person is introducing a date or parent to someone to someone else, have your child keep in mind that the introducer is the “magic glue” between the strangers; it’s good to offer not only a name, but perhaps something about the individual(s) that can be used as a conversation starter.

Most importantly, rather than just explain the rules of introductions and then hope your teen remembers when the situation warrants it, practice the introductions at home together, or – better yet! – with some “strangers” around town. Even we adults have difficulty sometimes doing introductions and being part of meeting and greeting, so why expect that this will be any less awkward from your already-socially-unsure teen! Role-playing and practice will make the real thing much more comfortable and less stiff and stilted.


 Summer Classes

Summer is coming and we’re working on a whole new schedule of PoliteChild classes! Mostly, we’ll be offering our SocialSmarts™ program for all ages, but we’re also interested in putting together our more advanced courses for previous PoliteChild graduates.

For example: if you feel your child could use a refresher course and could benefit from enhanced dining skills, we’d be interested in setting up an “Intermediate Dining and Table Manners” course for our graduates ages 6-18. This class takes place in a local restaurant, which is why we offer it as an on-demand course. We require a minimum of eight children in a near-age group, and we also host the parents at “graduation” for a full-meal. This is a terrific family affair, because we deal with a variety of food situations, including a few hard-to-handle issues like long pasta, multi-course meals, unpopular or unknown foods, etc.

Another popular option this time of year are our “neighborhood” courses where we come to you! We continue to offer our Organizer’s Special where you are eligible to send a child for FREE if you put together a class in your neighborhood or at another location that meets our minimum requirements.

For information on our summer classes, please check our Class Schedule page.

For more information about joining an Intermediate Dining and Table Manners course, please contact us by email or by phone at 425.844.9711.


 Help with Gaining Grant Funding

In the last few months, we’ve been asked by several public schools and districts to offer our program to students in their facilities. We’re already booking in 2004, so this is an indication of the overall attention social skills are getting as an integral part of academic and overall success in a child’s life.

In some cases, we have been asked to participate in the process of applying for grants in conjunction with the No Child Left Behind Act as well as other eligible funding opportunities. As a result, we have decided to officially offer this type of assistance as part of our overall package of services to schools and other not-for-profit organizations. We can help research how our services can assist in qualifying for available funding as well as to fit our program offering into valid funding categories. We anticipate that this will be an increasingly popular offering as more schools make strides toward complying with No Child Left Behind. In fact, we’ve created a web page just to keep track of communication and opportunities related to this important topic. We hope you’ll find this valuable and we’ll do our best to keep you abreast of changes related to the overall topic of NCLB and social skills, character education, and values enrichment.


 We continue to grow…

Our licensing package is now complete and we are actively working with several individuals and groups on expanding our program through authorized licensees. These opportunities represent both national and international expansion and we’re very excited to be working with these folks at this time. We expect that shortly we’ll be talking about broader expansion through licensees into several other states in our country and beyond.

Additionally, we are working with some public school districts to bring our program in on a school-wide or district-wide basis in the coming school year. We find this especially promising because these schools are clearly leading the way in focusing on social skills as a way to increase academic and overall success. As was recently quoted by one elementary school principal, “I am less concerned about graduating geniuses than I am in developing good people.” I think most of us realize that “attitude is everything” and so much more can be accomplished if and when mindset and attitude is receptive.

After all, you can’t teach them until you have their attention…


 Need a Speaker?

Do you believe that our message is something that your church, service organization or community group could benefit from? Well, we welcome invitations to speak at group meetings, fundraisers, or community forums! In fact, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to book one of our experts in child discipline, manners and social skills training, or parent education at one of your events. Whether you want a PoliteChild-based perspective, a certified Love & Logic parent educator, teachers with public school training, or more, we likely have a presentation or message that will fit your needs. For more information, see our Speaking page.

 Question of the Month

Our question this month is on holiday and will rejoin us in the next issue of The Polite Press.

Got a question? Send it to us and maybe we’ll feature it in an upcoming Polite Press!


 Upcoming Events

April and May have seen a hiatus from Parent’s Nights, but we expect that we’ll be offering more in the coming summer months. We’ve had many requests for more Introductory events as well as parents-only classes, so we’ll be working on meeting this demand by offering free and low-cost opportunities to “kick the tires” of our program. We’ll keep you posted as events are announced and scheduled!

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