Book review: 151 WAYS To Help Your Child Have a Great day at School

Posted on July 26, 2010 
Filed Under Anita, Book Review, The Star, Uncategorized

Review by ANITA MATTHEWS

Published in Parenthots, The Star on July 26, 2010 as Handy tips for parents with schoolgoing kids

151 WAYS
To Help Your Child Have a Great day at School/ To Start the School Year off Right
By Robin McClure
Publisher: Sourcebooks
151 ways

Mother Robin McClure struck a chord when she came up with the 151 Ways series of books. Two landed on my desk – 151 Ways to Start the School Year off Right and 151 Ways to Help Your Child Have a Great day at School.

The wallet-sized books are packed with suggestions and ideas on what parents can do to prepare children for the school year and to send the children off to school with a happy and positive mindset. Both books may be a decade old but the ideas contained in them are very much current. The ideas are tried, tested and true from teachers and educators who have spent plenty of time with children of varying personalities.

151 ways

Any parent, employee or employer can relate to dealing with a myriad of personalities on a daily basis – it takes sheer skill to keep everything running like clockwork. But all that people management does get to even the saintliest of parents and it is a matter of time before we run of out ideas, hit a brick wall or are simply exhausted.

The ideas in these books are not in any specific order and one can simply thumb through the books at random; which was what I did.

A mother to two boys and a girl, McClure’s daily plate is stacked and she has to figure out how to keep the children mostly happy even on a bad hair day and ensure they have a good day or school term ahead of them.

The 151 ways listed in each book are largely practical tips on morning hygiene, healthy breakfast habits, getting the school bag sorted, books ready or activities listed out for the day, month or year. It also includes useful ways to keep youngsters occupied in the kitchen, garden, playground or on the computer. Other noteworthy tips such as noting down important phone numbers and not sharing personal information with strangers are vital knowledge we can equip our youngsters with as they start the school year.

Tip number 109 in the second book is not to let the youngster see you frustrated with anything related to school. While it may seem like common sense I have to admit having met competitive mothers who take mediocre grades or poor sporting performance personally. This, McClure points out will affect a youngster’s emotional health and make them feel unnecessarily bad or even guilty. So remember tip 109, put a bright smile on and rally the kid on. Or tip number 11 that cautions against over-praising to avoid giving the youngster a sense of false achievement or credit for mediocre work.

A contradiction? Hardly. It is a reality and the 300 tips combined in both books pretty much sum up the challenges of parenthood and how to provide an even keel in our interaction with our youngsters.

Both the books can be finished in a single sitting and promptly tucked away – very likely to be forgotten – thereafter. Since there is no order to the tips, picking a random page for a random method works out well. If the tip is unsuitable, move on to the next page. The tips serve as useful reminders to small practices or habits we want to cultivate among our youngsters or had cultivated previously but forgotten due to a change in schedule or environment.

The books are suitable for parents who like to have a handy item within their reach. With 151 ways in each book, it would be hard to go wrong. Having said that, I have over the years depended on the Web for such tips and ideas. With the plethora of information online, it was simply easier to search for ideas on “what-shall-I-do-to-tackle-the-school-bully” or “how-to-get-the-boy-to-brush-his-teeth-daily” on the Web. Today, most parents can search via the mobile web.

Both books are useful. But most of all, our children would benefit better from a good school day and year if we have a positive attitude towards education where school is not just an academic environment but also an interactive social environment to discover different cultures, norms and personalities.

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