Module 4: Parent involvement - being an active partner in your child's learning
- Barbara Coloroso's Bullying Circle Explained
- Six simple ways to help your child with early learning
- Improving your child’s school organizational skills (English, Español)
- Tips for managing your child’s homework (English, Español)
- Checklist: Is your child's life balanced?
- Going to kindergarten for parents
- How to get the most out of school conferences
- Teaching responsible media use
- Glossary of educational terms
Barbara Coloroso's Bullying Circle Explained
1. Allows the teaser and person teased to swap roles.
2. Isn’t intended to hurt the other person.
3. Maintains the basic dignity of everyone involved.
4. Pokes fun in a lighthearted, clever, and benign way.
5. Is meant to get both parties to laugh.
6. Is only a small part of the activities shared by kids who have something in common.
7. Is innocent in motive.
8. Is discontinued when person teased becomes upset or objects to the teasing.
1. Is based on an imbalance of power and is one-sided: the bully taunts, the bullied kid is taunted.
2. Is intended to harm.
3. Involves humiliating, cruel, demeaning, or bigoted comments thinly disguised as jokes.
4. Includes laughter directed at the target, not with the target.
5. Is meant to diminish the sense of self-worth of the target.
6. Induces fear of further taunting or can be a prelude to physical bullying.
7. Is sinister in motive.
8. Continues especially when targeted kid becomes distressed or objects to the taunt.
Four most powerful antidotes to bullying
Strong sense of self, being a friend, having at least one good friend who is there for you through thick and thin, and being able to successfully get into a group— and get out when it does not serve you well.
If your child is bullied
1. Don’t minimize, rationalize, or explain away the bully’s behavior.
2. Don’t rush in to solve the problem for your child.
3. Don’t tell your child to avoid the bully.
4. Don’t tell your child to fight back.
5. Don’t confront the bully or the bully’s parents alone.
1. I hear you; I am here for you; I believe you; you are not alone in this.
2. It is not your fault.
3. There are things you can do.
4. Report the bullying to school personnel.
How to report
1. Arrange a meeting for you and your child with the appropriate person at the school.
2. Bring to the meeting the facts in writing—the date, time, place, kids involved, and the specifics of the incidents—and the impact the bullying has had on your child as well as what your child has done to try to stop the bullying that didn’t work.
3. Work with your child and school personnel on a plan that addresses what your child needs right now in order to feel safe, what she can do to avoid being bullied and to stand up to any future bullying, and whom she can go to for help.
4. Find out what procedures the bully will be going through and what kind of support the school is expecting from the parents of the bully.
5. If you feel the problem is not being adequately addressed by the school, know that you can express your concerns and let the teacher and/or administrator know that you will take the next step to the school district board office and if necessary—especially in the cases of serious abuse and racist or sexist bullying—to the police.
1. Gather information about bullying at school directly from students.
2. Establish clear schoolwide and classroom rules about bullying.
3. Train all adults in the school to respond sensitively and consistently to bullying.
4. Provide adequate adult supervision, particularly in less structured areas, such as on the playground and in the lunchroom.
5. Improve parental awareness of and involvement in working on the problem.
Re-writing the script
The bully, the bullied, the bystander—the interactions involved in such role-playing, though commonplace in our culture, are not healthy, not normal, certainly not necessary, and in fact are devastating to the children playing them. We as parents and educators can rewrite the script and create for our children alternative, healthier roles that require no pretense and no violence. With care and commitment, we can rechannel the behaviors of the bully into positive leadership activities; acknowledge the nonaggressive behaviors of the bullied child as strengths that can be developed and are honored; and transform the role of the bystander into that of a witness, someone willing to stand up, speak out, and act against injustice. A daunting task, but a necessary one.
Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big; some are small; some bright and some not so bright; some attractive and some not so attractive; some popular and some disliked by almost everybody.
Bullying is a conscious, willful and deliberate hostile activity, intended to harm.
The Four Markers of Bullying
1. An imbalance of power
2. Intent to harm
3. Threat of further aggression
4. When bullying escalates unabated—terror
Bullying is not about anger, or even about conflict. It’s about contempt—a powerful feeling of dislike toward someone considered to be worthless, inferior or undeserving of respect. Contempt comes with three apparent psychological advantages that allow kids to harm others without feeling empathy, compassion or shame. These are:
1. A sense of entitlement—the right to control, dominate, subjugate, and abuse another human being
2. An intolerance toward difference
3. A liberty to exclude—to bar, isolate, and segregate a person deemed not worthy of respect or care
Seven Steps to Stop Bullying
1. Discipline (including the three Rs: restitution, resolution, reconciliation)
2. Create opportunities to “do good”
3. Nurture empathy
4. Teach friendship skills
5. Closely monitor TV viewing, video games and computer activities
6. Engage in more constructive, entertaining, energizing activities
7. Teach ways to “will good”
The one thing that all kids who are bullied have in common is that a bully or a bunch of bullies has targeted them. Each one was singled out to be the object of scorn, and thus the recipient of bullying, merely because he or she was different in some way.
The Warning Signs
1. Shows an abrupt lack of interest in school, or refuses to go to school
2. Takes an unusual route to school
3. Suffers drop in grades
4. Withdraws from family and school activities
5. Is hungry after school
6. Steals money from home
7. Makes a beeline to the bathroom when arriving home
8. Is sad, sullen, angry, or scared after receiving a phone call or email
9. Does something out of character
10. Has torn or missing clothing
11. Uses derogatory or demeaning language when talking about peers
12. Stops talking about peers and everyday activities
13. Has physical injuries not consistent with explanation
14. Has stomachaches, headaches, panic attacks, is unable to sleep, sleeps too much, is exhausted
15. Plays alone, or prefers to hang with adults
Why Kids Don’t Tell
1. They are ashamed of being bullied
2. They are afraid of retaliation
3. They don’t think anyone can help them
4. They don’t think anyone will help them
5. They’ve bought into the lie that bullying is a necessary part of growing up
6. They might believe that adults are part of the lie—they bully too
7. They have learned that “ratting” on a peer is bad, not cool
Bystanders are the third group of players in this tragedy. They are the supporting cast who aid and abet the bully, through acts of omission and commission. They stand idly by or look away, or they can actively encourage the bully or join in and become one of a bunch of bullies. Injustice overlooked or ignored becomes a contagion that infects even those who thought they could turn away.
Standing Up and Speaking Out
Bullying is challenged when the majority stands up against the cruel acts of the minority. Establishing new norms, enforcing playground rules, and increasing supervision are policy decisions that can help reduce the incidents of bullying. Since much of the bullying goes on “under the radar of adults,” a potent force is kids themselves showing bullies that they will not be looked up to, nor will their cruel behavior be condoned or tolerated. Kids need not be bystanders. They can become active witnesses, standing up for their peers, speaking out against injustices, and taking responsibility for what happened among themselves.
Bullying circle explained (PDF)
Excerpts from the bully, the bullied, and the bystander, Barbara Coloroso © 2002
www.kidsareworthit.com kids are worth it, inc.
Six simple ways to help your child with early learning
This free publication from Iowa State University shares six ways to help your child gain basic skills and behaviors that will prepare them for school.
Improving your child’s school organizational skills (English, Español)
A common cause of poor school performance is disorganization. This resource from Arkansas State PIRC/Center for Effective Parenting identifies signs that your child might be struggling with this issue and what you can do to help.
Improving your child’s school organizational skills (English)
Improving your child’s school organizational skills (Spanish)
Tips for managing your child’s homework (English, Español)
Homework can be an important tool to help children practice their skills and improve their learning. This resource from the Arkansas State PIRC/Center for Effective Parenting shares specific strategies and methods you can use to help your child do their homework on their own and on time.
Tips for managing your child’s homework (English)
Checklist: Is your child's life balanced?
Parenting Education Take Home Tip:
"Is Your Child’s Life Balanced?" Checklist
- Does your child spend time outdoors, running, climbing, jumping, and crawling through and under? If the weather is too rainy to do these things outside, how can you do them inside?
- Does your child have markers, crayons, child-sized scissors, and blank paper available, along with small muscle manipulatives such as Legos, puzzles, stringing beads or pasta, and play-doh?
- Do you read for at least thirty minutes to your child each day? Or have them read to you, or the dog, or a plant. Reading aloud is beneficial. Try to read from old-fashioned books and not just e-readers so children get to know how to turn pages and find the front and back of a book.
- Do you plan a time each day when you and your child can talk without being interrupted?
- Does your child do creative activities such as cooking, making up stories, or pretending every day?
- Does your child regularly spend time playing with other children and has special time with adult relatives and friends?
- Does your child go with you on trips to the library, a concert, swimming, roller skating, or the park on a regular basis?
- Does your child spend most of the day playing with toys?
- Does your child spend 2 hours or less, per day watching television, playing video, computer, iPad, or other mobile device games?
- Do you role model limiting your use of your phone, iPad, computer?
Going to kindergarten for parents
Think about this: If your child is going to kindergarten this fall, how are you feeling about that? Whatever you are feeling, it’s completely normal: excited, scared, unsure, torn, left behind.
What do you plan to do to make the transition smoother?
Here are some tips from teachers:
- Be excited and positive when you talk about school (even if you are feeling less than excited)
- Go to the school to play on the playground
- Attend open houses
- Talk about respect, responsibility, and safety
- Teach them self-care tasks (bathroom, shoes, jackets, etc.)
- Limit TV and video games and do real activities outside, in the community, and at home
- Talk about colors, shapes, patterns, and sizes of things.
- Use position words like on, in, under, in front of
- Have children play with Play-Doh, Legos, puzzles, etc. to strengthen hand muscles so their hands do not get quite so tired when school starts.
- Make a plan for No School Days.
- Commit to getting your children to school on-time
- Insist that they do their homework, provide a space for them
- Talk about what will be the same about their day: same bed, same familiar people at home, and what will be different about their day: new school, new bus, new friends... If your child has a difficult time with transitions, consider writing a small book about what their day will be like once they start school.
How to get the most out of school conferences
- Talk with your child about how school is going
- Write down any questions you would like to ask the teacher
- Find out about your child’s performance in three area: academics, work habits, and social skills
- Communicate any goals and expectations you have for your child
- Talk about your child’s other interests and activities
- Bring up significant family situations that could affect your child’s performance in school
- See what you can do at home to help your child do well in school
Questions to ask during conferences
- Is my child at grade level with their reading, writing and math?
- May I see something my child has written?
- May I see an example of grade level or excellent work?
- What are my child’s strengths in class?
- What are my child’s weaknesses in class?
- Which content standards has my child achieved so far?
- What do you expect from children in your class (behavior, work habits, etc.)?
- What can I do at home to support you and my child in school?
- How can I reach you if I have any questions or want ideas on how to help my child succeed in school?
- Do we need to meet again? When will we meet?
- Discuss the conference with your child and praise their strengths.
- Decide how you will follow through with any plan that you and your child have agreed upon with the teacher.
- Start a folder about your child and include in it report cards, samples of work, notes from their teacher, and test scores.
- Make a calendar and mark meetings, important events, and social events at your child's school.
- Stay informed about your child’s schoolwork and contact the teacher when you have concerns.
Source: Osseo Area Schools Early Childhood and Family Education programs
How to get the most out of conferences (PDF)
Teaching responsible media use
- Limit your own TV and media usage (research shows that parents who watch less TV have children that watch less TV.)
- Select a program to watch instead of just watching whatever comes on the channel. When your program ends, turn off the TV.
- Discuss why you choose certain programs and why you avoid others.
- Let children see you choosing other activities: reading, exercising, crafts, car repair, etc.
- Make a habit of staying off your phone or computer when you are playing with your children or going somewhere with them. Unless you are having an emergency, show them that they deserve your undivided attention.
- Limit your child's TV watching or device usage to certain amount or a certain time of day or week; for example, not before breakfast, not while you eat, not on a school night, etc.
- Discuss your TV rules with your babysitters and others that care for your child. Explain to them the need for the child to play and have hands-on activities. Encourage them to do their favorite hobbies with your children: baking cookies, repairing bicycles, playing cards, etc.
- Consider where the TV is placed in your home and how it affects your family.
- Watch to see how certain programs affect your children.
- Limit the number of electronic devices in your home.
- Use parental controls to help monitor internet access.
- Become familiar with certain programs by watching with your child. Discuss how the values on the show are the same or different from your families’ values.
- Use certain shows to discuss “difficult” subjects. Ask, “What could she have done instead?”
- If you ban certain shows, discuss your reasons why.
- Discuss advertising claims and promises. What are they trying to sell you?
- If you see specific things on shows that you do not agree with, email the network and voice your complaints.
Compiled by Osseo ECFE.
Glossary of educational terms
Here are many important words you may need to know to support your child during their educational journey.