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Pam McKee

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5 More Questions to Ask at Your Parent-Teacher Conference

Posted on Nov 15, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

Apple for Teacher

Parent-teacher conferences are coming up.  In addition to the questions  introduced previously, here are a few more suggestions for you to consider as you think through and prepare for talking with your child’s teacher:

  1. May I tell you about my child?  Teachers want to hear about your child - what motivates him, what he likes to do in his free time, what he enjoys doing with his family and friends, special skills or hobbies.

  2. May I tell you about what’s going on at home?  A new brother or sister, or one on the way, divorce, death of a grandparent, or even a long-loved pet - all these influence a child’s feelings about life.


After your child’s teacher talks about how your child is doing academically, follow up by asking:

  1. Is my child doing his best?  Whether his grades are high or not so high, the important thing is, is your child putting forth his best effort?  Does the teacher sense that your child is being lazy or struggles to focus?

  2. Does my child need any extra help?  Can you, the teacher, recommend a tutor or specific ways I can help my child?

  3. May I share a concern?  If you are aware of and concerned about a situation at school, ask the teacher about it.  Often the parent has heard only the child’s side of the story.

Go into your parent-teacher conference knowing that there will not be time to talk about everything suggested here.  This is the beginning of developing a relationship with your child’s teacher.  If, after this conference, you have pressing questions that you just need to have more time for, call the school office and schedule a future appointment with your child’s teacher.



Curiouser and Curiouser: Encouraging Your Child’s Curiosity

Posted on Nov 8, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

curious children

Curiosity arises when attention is focused on the gap in one’s knowledge.  Such information gaps produce feelings of deprivation or emptiness that we call curiosity.  The curious individual will be motivated to reduce or eliminate these negative feelings because, quite honestly, these emotions don’t feel good.

So the question is - How do I make my child aware of the gap in his knowledge?  How can I encourage curiosity?

Sometimes we, as parents, are so anxious for our child to get the right answer that we blurt it out before the child even realizes that he might possibly have a question. At times it’s good to just let some possibilities hang out there. Quietly.  Don’t jump in with the answer.  Don’t even jump in with the question.  Let your child’s mind have time and silence to ruminate and come up with the question himself.

Now, we will never be curious about something that we know absolutely nothing about.  So, prime the pump.  Give your child some tiny bites of information to whet his appetite.  Make him want to know more. In our family we started a saltwater fish tank.  Those bright, colorful fish made all of us very interested and curious to learn more about how to keep them alive.

Read stories aloud or have your child read stories to you.  Then, throw in an unexpected tidbit.  For instance, what if the wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood" hadn't been hungry?  Hmmmm.  Or, what if there had been a dragon in "Jack and the Beanstalk"?  What if.....Lots of possibilities to spark one's curiosity.

Let your child help you rearrange the furniture in her room. Or if she's a pre-teen, give her your complete trust to be in charge of rearranging it all on her own. Figuring out the best use of space takes a lot of creativity. Curiosity and creativity go hand in hand.

curious boy

Ask your older teen,  “Which did you enjoy more, the book or the movie of ‘The Hunger Games’ ?”  And why?  If she read the book first, did the actors look like she had pictured them in her mind?  Comparing and contrasting can also prick curiosity.     

Nurturing curiosity in children can be hard work, but if you ignore your child’s questions, you may be stunting his desire to know.  As parents, the best way to encourage our child’s curiosity is to stay curious ourselves.  However, sometimes that’s hard.  As we get older it’s easier to just lean on what we already know.  But curiosity is like a muscle, it atrophies if it isn’t used.  

If you are curious about more ideas to encourage curiosity in your child, google ‘Curiosity in Children.’ Make your home a curious household.


Teaching Your Children to Pray

Posted on Oct 25, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee

girl praying

Just reading the title of this blog post is making you feel guilty, isn’t it.  Because you’ve always thought you should be doing more when it comes to leading your child in praying….but somehow you sort of never had the courage to get around to doing it.

Well it’s never too late.  Admit all of this to your child (whether pre-school or young adult) and jump on in.

First of all, I hate prayer formulas.  They make me feel weary and even more guilty because I can’t follow them perfectly, and then I give up, and then I’m not praying at all. Do you know what I mean?

And again I say, it’s never too late.  Admit all of this to God and jump on in.

Notice how I’ve changed the focus from teaching your child to pray to your own personal prayer life. Because it has to start with you. The best way to teach children to pray is to pray in their presence, using age appropriate words.  Look for opportunities to practice praying in front of them, just as you would look for opportunities to teach them manners or sportsmanship.

You know, praying is just talking to God, telling Him what’s going on in your life and how you feel about it all.  And you can do this any time, any place.  A good time and place for me is in the car, driving to school in the morning.  It’s just God and me...and I talk to Him...out loud.


It also helps me to write out my conversations with God...keep a journal of my thoughts and feelings.  At times, when appropriate, you might share some things from your journal with your kids.  Encourage them, if they are old enough, to write some of their thoughts and feelings down, maybe buying them a special notebook for them to journal in.  Then, with your kids, have a conversation with God out loud (pray) about some of the things they are thankful for and some of the things that are bothering them.

Some kids will feel shy about praying out loud at first and will say they can’t think of anything to pray about.  You can help your children begin to pray out loud by giving them a sentence to complete, such as:

“Lord, I thank You for…”

“Lord, forgive me for…”

“Lord, help my friend…”

“Lord, help me be more…”

“Lord, help me to love...”

“Lord, help me to be kind to...”

“Lord, give me the courage to…”

“Lord, one of the fears I need help with is…”

Here’s another idea to help your children get started talking to God:  Have each family member take a portion of the newspaper and circle items that he feels need to be prayed for.  Then ask each person to pray for the things he circled in the paper.

At bedtime, ask your child to share with you her “highs” and “lows” from the day.  Then share your “highs” and “lows” from your day.  Pray for them together.

It’s also good for our kids to see us pray spontaneously, such as praying for the people you see in an accident while driving in the car.  Show them that you don’t have to close your eyes (especially while driving) to talk to God and that it doesn’t have to be planned.

Prayer is the language of the heart.  It is our conversation with God, and for a conversation to be meaningful, both parties must be listening.  “Prayer is what God does to us rather than anything we do to God.”  And this is what we want to be a part of our children’s lives.


Helping our Kids Learn to Listen

Posted on Oct 7, 2014 6:00:00 AM by Pam McKee


Hearing and listening are two different things. Hearing is a biological process and happens automatically. It takes no effort. However, listening is voluntary. It requires learning and practice. Listening is more than hearing. And chances are, at times, your kids are hearing you but choosing to not listen to you.

Here are some activities you can do to help your child develop good listening skills:

  • Help your child to become aware of different sounds. Tap a pattern to your young child and have him repeat it back to you. Record daily sounds you hear (music, birds, traffic) and talk about them later when you play them back.

  • Be a good model of listening skills. Listen attentively when your child or teen is speaking. Get at his level and it is crucial to make eye contact. Nod to show you are paying attention. Verbally reflect back what you think you heard him say.

  • Read rhyming books aloud repeatedly to little ones. You will tire of this but you'll see how much your child enjoys this when she starts saying the ending rhyme before you do.

  • Combine words with actions. If you're asking your child to choose which color crayon he would like to use, be getting out the crayon box while you are speaking.

  • Have lots of conversations with your child, no matter what the age. Respect her and value what she has to say.

  • Play the Silly Directions Game. Give a 3- or 4-part set of directions such as:   "Hop to the door, knock on it three times, crawl back to the kitchen, and sit under the table.

  • Be concise and to the point when giving instructions to your child. Often times we parents over-explain things in our effort to be clear. Our child just gets tired of listening.

  • Don't ask, tell. For instance, instead of saying, "Jon, would you please pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper?" to which Jon might consider to himself, "No, I really think I'd rather leave them on the floor. "  Say to Jon, "Pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper."  It is a non-negotiable.

Listening is a learning process for kids (and adults!). It takes time and practice. Start when they are young. You'll really appreciate it when you notice them being good listeners of others.

Topics: Parenting Tips