Author Archives: Heather Shumaker

Teaching “No” and “Stop” to Kids

Sometimes we forget how sacred “No!” is. Young kids say it a lot, and for many adults that’s a word we’d rather not hear so much. But “No” and “Stop” are essential to healthy life, kindness and survival. I’ve been … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Teaching “No” and “Stop” to Kids

  1. Pam Leo says:

    This is such needed information Heather. I talked some about it in my book, Connection Parenting, but you nailed it!
    I am excited to share your resources.
    Sincerely,
    Pam Leo

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks, Pam. Hard topics to talk about and absolutely necessary. Thanks for your good work on the subject.

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Introducing…The Griffins of Castle Cary

I have AMAZING news! All my life I’ve wanted to write fiction, especially fiction for children. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to write books. My desire to become an author was strong by age four. … Continue reading

Posted in Agents and publishing, What I'm Reading, Parenting with Renegade Rules, Good Reads, Books for Kids | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Introducing…The Griffins of Castle Cary

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What’s on your Walls? 3 Charts that have Got to Go

When I walk into an early childhood classroom, I look for promising signs of play, like giant cardboard boxes, dress-ups clothes, and a bit of mess. What I often see are the Big Three: Behavior Charts, Calendars and Weather Charts. … Continue reading

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One Response to What’s on your Walls? 3 Charts that have Got to Go

  1. Each post is a lesson in common sense to we parents and teachers. Interesting stuff. I’d never guess a weather chart is meaningless (or irrelevant) to a younger child. Makes sense though.

    Chris

The Art of Moral Support: You don’t need a Helicopter

Surely, you’re not one of those overly-supportive helicopter parents. Are you? For all of us, it bears examining from time to time. What could your child be doing on her own, that you are doing for her? This includes simple, … Continue reading

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2 Responses to The Art of Moral Support: You don’t need a Helicopter

  1. No helicopters when I was growing up! I learned how to fry an egg when I was about 6 (tall enough to see inside the frying pan). Had regular chores that were expected to be done correctly (or we’d go back and do them correctly under Mom’s supervision). Did my own fundraising in Little League–parents at home NOT selling for me. Allowed to ride our bikes to friends’ houses a mile or so away as soon as we understood how to cross busy streets. Typical middle-class 1960s upbringing.

    *Sigh* In that respect, those WERE the days. 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You know, I think it might be eye-opening for audiences of parents to hear simple stories from “the old days.” How much independence and responsibility kids can really take on. We could call it “Stories to Spread Confidence.”

Behavior Charts = Poor Adult Behavior

I’m not a fan of behavior charts. You’ve probably seen them – red, yellow and green stoplight-like charts ubiquitous in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Kids get put in the red category if they’re “bad.” The chart is posted in a … Continue reading

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12 Responses to Behavior Charts = Poor Adult Behavior

  1. Bette says:

    Alfie Cohn’s book Unconditional Parenting says it all for me with rewards and punishments. It doesn’t work if you want to make anything but temporary compliance.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes, indeed. Another reason not to use behavior charts. They don’t work! Temporary compliance is exactly right. Thank you, Bette!

  2. Hi Heather,
    you’ve confirmed what I have suspected for years. I am a former teacher and mother of six beautiful, healthy children. I never liked using behaviour charts in my classroom but was told I had to manage the class ‘somehow’ (by a university lecturer). When my fourth child started school this year he was constantly placed on the ‘sad cloud’ on his classroom’s behaviour chart. I do not hold ill towards the teacher, she was, I assume, only teaching how she’d been taught, just as I had. However, my son was starting to dread going to school for fear that he would be moved from the ‘rainbow’ to the ‘sad cloud’. Talk about how to damage a child’s self-worth as he saw his name on the cloud day after day after day. He is a typically active 5 year old boy with, as I affectionately say, more energy than brains! I hope you understand what I mean by that. Thankyou for not being afraid to speak out on what you also have observed. Susan

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Rainbows and sad clouds…superheroes and losers…they come in many forms. Your insights as both a teacher and parent are insightful. And, yes, I know exactly what you mean by a 5-year-old with more energy than brains! He’s not the only one in this world.

  3. Shauna Kay says:

    I’m in Australia, however, my son experienced similar methods of control in his first year of school eg: a sad face and a happy face. The sad face was red and children’s names were placed under it for all to see. My son didn’t often appear under the “angry face” (that’s what he called it) however he often came home upset for the friends that did. He had an intuitive sense of right and wrong and he knew that this whole punitive system was very wrong. Other than offering him support I didn’t weigh in with my opinions as I didn’t want to create more anguish or add to the angst. I can tell you now, however, it made me furious! Shaming has absolutely nothing to do with learning and I could see the effect it had on the children. We homeschool now, part of a vibrant community full of kids that are excited to learn, fuelled by their passions with no shaming! It took a few years to recover fully from that truly horrible first year…Surely any educator worth their salt could work out that such methods are wrong? Anyway, thank you for your piece I appreciated it.

  4. Isabel says:

    I wish I could find something like this post, or even better, research to support this viewpoint, but in French! I am aching to share it with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher. She has a Masters degree, so I know she would appreciate evidence to support this position, but my daughter’s school is French.
    And I want to add that my daughter never gets the bad scores, but i still can’t stand these charts. There is so much wrong with them! Even for a “good” student! At her school there is a neutral green and then colours above that for “good day” and “magnifique!”. Except, as the teacher explained to me when I asked about it, a student will rarely get either of those. they would have to perform some special act of kindness. for example, my daughter got a “good day” for doing what I assume was a particularly good job of tidying up. But it’s still demotivating! My daughter gets bummed about always getting the neutral colour, and she can’t really understand what she needs to do better.
    It’s so frustrating for me.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You may be in luck – my book “It’s OK Not to Share” is being translated into French. It covers many similar topics, but not behavior charts specifically. There will be a little lag time until the French edition is available, but look for it!

      Thanks also for sharing your daughter’s experience being stuck on the “neutral” color. These charts really take away the human relationship side of relationships.

  5. Kelly L Overend says:

    As you know, these are big in Michigan with PBIS. Have you talked with school districts or are you available to do so in our area? thanks!

  6. Carolee says:

    My son is having a hard time sitting still and staying focused in grade 1. His teacher has wanted to use a daily chart, where he gets 10 stickers (5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon). It’s sent home each day. If he can get all 10 stickers, I’m supposed to give him a small reward at home. After three weeks of this, I can see that it isn’t helping and I actually think it’s damaging. If he has a good day, we are all happy. But on days where he only got two stickers, the teacher will comment “I’ll call you”. Before the call, I ask my son what happened today, and he gets furious and angry. I can tell by his mood when I pick him up whether he has 10 stickers or not. He tells me that he has been ridiculed in class for having fewer points on another behavior chart. There was one day that he was crying and saying that nobody liked him (on a day when he got fewer stickers). He was sent to the pricipal’s office for throwing markers. (He is 6 years old). With the principal, he filled out a form for how he would move forward, and his plan to move on was “be good”. It was at this point that I let the school know that asking him to “be good” is the same as telling him that he was bad, and I asked his teacher to reconsider behavior charts. I’m not sure where to go from here or how to help him learn to behave in class. After doing research that led me to this article, I’m even more worried about the damage that these charts are causing.

    Behavior charts are damaging for the parent/child home relationship. It has caused many sad and stressful evenings where I have a grumpy child, and where the parent wonders why it seems that everyone doesn’t like their child.

    • Shauna Kay says:

      Oh gosh, I say with all kindness in my heart, PLEASE get him out of there if you can, before they do more damage to your gorgeous little 6-year-old. What you describe is heartbreaking and against everything, we know about natural child development. They are shutting down his natural responses, curiosity and killing any flicker of a love of learning. What in the world is the USA doing? It is absolutely crazy! How can any educator think inflicting a punitive system like that is OK? How are your teachers trained? It is insanity!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      “When something is bothering you, it’s time to make a change,” is my motto. You’re doing that – researching and realizing something is wrong. If this school / teacher is not the right fit for your family, make a change. It’s unlikely that the teacher will change fast enough. Kids need to feel safe before they are ready to learn. Your child deserves to learn in a place that nurtures him.

      Or as my fellow author Laurie Buchanan says, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” Good luck with your next step!

Summers of Learning

It’s fall, and kids have a summer-full of learning inside them. What’s more important than the “summer slide” of school skills is the fact that these are NEW people heading back to school. Summer gives a chance to restart. However … Continue reading

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3 Responses to Summers of Learning

  1. Love my breaks. I suspect a child does even more.

  2. Anne Donn says:

    Thank you for once again for pointing the way to the truth of a growing heart and spirit. It’s so easy to get lost in expectations.

Win a copy of It’s OK Not to Share!

It’s time to celebrate kids and summer – summer reading that is. Some of you may already be back to school, but there’s still time to dig into good books. And win books! For the finale to the Book-Lover’s Summer … Continue reading

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Take a Technology Break

This summer we camped out west and visited National Parks. The Grand Canyon was – Wow. But then I turned my head and encountered a different type of wow – the sight of people not looking at the view. No, … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Take a Technology Break

  1. Anne says:

    Left a review on amazon for It’s Okay to Go Up the Slide. Waiting for it to be reviewed. 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Guess what? You’re the book winner! Send an email to heather at heathershumaker.com to share your mailing address.

Summer’s Great Book Giveaway

Summer is here! It starts today for my kids. Time to forget adult schedules, follow dreams and be themselves. And for all of us grown-ups, time for some great summer reading. This summer I’m doing a Book-Lover’s Summer Giveaway. Throughout … Continue reading

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6 Responses to Summer’s Great Book Giveaway

  1. Cheryl Rodriguez says:

    I would love to receive these books. I am this close to homeschooling because of the homework issue. I really want to instill a curiosity in my child that I see is not there in a public school setting.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Great! To enter, just post a quick 1-2 sentence book review. Then share what title you reviewed. Thanks!

  2. Justin says:

    I reviewed “It’s OK to Go Up the Slide”. Great book and common sense things that I should have known.

  3. Theresa B says:

    Finally finished “It’s ok to go up the slide”—-my personal take-away and review: challenge the rules of our K-8 program of running on the tan bark. Like in the book, if it’s not hurting person or property, why is it a rule?

    We went to the beach today so I could get some time to talk to my husband un-interrupted….the kids spent an hour collecting seaweed and throwing it into a pile—in front of where we were sitting. Each drop of the seaweed resulted in a big fat grin from my son and daughter…swelling with pride for their hunter and gatherer project they made up!

Embracing Rejection

Allowing kids to reject each other can build inclusiveness. What?! No, this isn’t George Orwell’s 1984, where every truth is backwards. It’s simply another renegade rule that takes some getting used to. When I explain why respectful rejection is good … Continue reading

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7 Responses to Embracing Rejection

  1. Jan Waters says:

    Heather, You’ve learned SYC philosophy well and it is all developmentally sound. I love the way you can explain things. Jan Waters

  2. Funny, even as an adult I’m sooo hesitant to set boundaries when I’m deep in conversation with someone and another friend comes along. Maybe we all need practice at this.

  3. Erika says:

    Great topic! I really appreciate the example of questions to ask our kids if they don’t want to play with someone. It’s about being curious, open to their answers, to honor their choices and guide them to make it in a kind way. I tell my girls, it’s ok if you want to play by yourself, just say it respectfully. THanks for this post!!

  4. Zanzanil says:

    I used to see my daughter behaving badly with one particular child. I sat her down and explained that it’s ok to dislike some one. But there always a better way to say no. And it did work big time between them and eventually they did get along just fine.

  5. MIhaela says:

    Hello! Great material! Thank you for the precious information.
    I would like to ask you how can we help the rejected one? The case is: a pre-teen girl (11 years old) with Spina Bifida – she has a light locomotion issue (she is walking a little bit strange and she wares a special brace at her down part of the leg – she cannot run very fast and avoids to get involved in games with a ball or where she risks to be pushed, because her medical condition), who is willing to play more “calm” games with her peers when outdoors and she very often gets rejected. Many times she gets the answer: “we can play later with you a game in which you can participate”, but they forget her afterwards. She also gets this tough “no”. She is a bold child, who communicates easily with both children and adults. Thank you!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Occasional rejection is one thing, and chronic rejection is another. With kids who are frequently rejected it often helps to have adult help, even if it’s talking about it and learning a few phrases “OK, my turn” or “When’s later? When you get to 10 points?” Later is too vague and it can help to quantify it. There’s a chapter on chronic rejection is my book “It’s OK Not to Share.” If she’s bold and tough and can communicate easily she can figure out many of these things herself, but it can help to ease the way.