The New School Year Is On The Way, Do The Kids Have Everything They Need ? What About The New Smart?

Well, it’s almost time for the new school year to begin. Parents from New York to California, Michigan to Mississippi are in need of some re-freshments. I am not referring to Ginger Ale, Lemonade or even a cold beer! Parents are greatly in need of a fresh interpretation of what their children are missing as they advance to a new grade, begin a new year. Educators are in agreement that learning The New Smart just might be more important or at least as important as learning new math formulas. Students may never use algebra again, but they most definitely will need to know how to get along with others like their room mates, co-workers or spouse. They need to know how to use self control while driving and how to make responsible decisions when it comes to relationships, money, etc. I think you know what I’m getting at. The New Smart is not just a cute new title slapped on something to make it sound important. It is a major issue in every facet of society!

Just take a look at the culture we live in now. We’re moving so fast concentrating on making more money, faster, buying new cars and bigger houses faster than our parents did. Some adults can’t manage their emotions in the check out line at the grocery store without giving the clerk a piece of their mind. Maybe that’s why our children don’t understand why they can’t say whatever they feel to the teacher or other adults in authority and not have consequences!

I have to be frank in this blog, because many adults are under the delusion that they are really handling things in the correct manner! Right in front of the children, inappropriate behavior, degrading remarks about and to others are being flung out of mouths like cannonballs. Now we have a “friendship culture” with our kids and the boundary of parenthood and role modeling has taken a back seat to all of these tutus and sequins everywhere. I was looking through the racks of summer tops in a department store recently and I couldn’t understand it. The young boys shirts were covered with rude sarcasm while even the toddler girls clothing had spaghetti straps, sparkles all over the shoes and messages that said “If You Think I’m Cute, You Should See My Mom” and “Don’t You Know? It’s All About Me, Duh!”

I witnessed two little boys in the store with their mother and grandmother. The oldest had to be no more than five years old and his younger brother probably a year or so behind him. The grandmother was trying to help the oldest grandson find a card for someone and this “little guy” was throwing a serious tantrum because he couldn’t get a toy that he wanted! I kept waiting for the mother to say something and when she finally spoke up and told her son they were not there to shop for toys, he screamed as loudly as he could…”I HATE YOU, I REALLY REALLY HATE YOU!” His mom’s face turned a crimson red and the youngest son just sat there observing and looking at his mother as though this was common behavior. No one in the store seemed to be astonished but me! I guess that shows my age. No wait, it shows the upbringing I had and the respect I yet maintain for my elders. Okay, so I went off on a tangent for a moment there.

The real issue is that school will definitely be starting soon and I don’t know that parents are actually ready. I have spoken to quite a few teachers this summer and a lot of seasoned teachers are not at all excited about the new year. In fact I read an article on the internet in a certain state out west, the teachers are leaving their jobs like there is no tomorrow! You’ll just have to google it yourself if you want to know where it is.

Okay, I’ve opened up some issues, stated a the problems, or at least some of them, now I want to be part of the solution. They say if you don’t know, ask. But what if you’re not even aware of what to ask? Many folks don’t recognize this as problematic. They say, “That’s just how kids are nowadays.” Really? Thus is the mindset of many adults, parents and grandparents raising grandchildren these days. (That’s a post for another time)….but don’t forget to watch for it! It’s another mouth full or two.

I took the long way around to reach the subject matter, but I got all of that off my chest now, so I’m good!
The New Smart is a term the Committee For Children.org has brought much needed focus to in the past few years. Another organization,(CASEL)The Collaboration For Academic, Social and Emotional Learning,(Such a long name!) released what they call, the five core competencies, they are;

Self awareness (You know what you’re feeling)
Self management ( Able to use self control)
Social awareness ( Thinking about what/how others may be feeling)
Relationship skills ( communicating and standing up for yourself)
Responsible decision making ( problem solving)
These are a paraphrased version of the definitions.

They are being called the missing pieces. Administrators,teachers and researchers are in agreement when these competencies are missing, it inhibits or even totally prevents students from being successful academically and in life as an adult! Where and when did the ball drop? Let me make it known, even though most of the research done is comprised of low income students, I know for a FACT (as and educator experiencing it now) there are a lot of the same missing pieces in middle and upper level income families as well! The issues look different from a distance, but when you get up close and personal that’s not the case at all! In this blog post I wanted to expose you to the “missing pieces”. In the upcoming blogs I will give you some examples of what schools all around the country are doing with The New Smart to address the challenge. After that we’ve got to deal with the other exit points for these missing pieces……toxic environments of a different kind……the communities, neighborhoods and even the family homes.

In the athletic arena sometimes the coach has to hit hard with the truth. It does one of two things, makes the parents mad and they pull their kid out. Or makes the kids cry and the parent steps up to the plate to help the kid improve. I have gathered much more information than I can share here. I am working on some alternative yet complimentary ways to engage the conversation more in depth. One of two things will happen, you’ll leave the conversation or want to know more. Keep a look out.

I can’t apologize for missing in action for a while on this blogging journey. I had to get off the horse, saddle up again and get MY own stride vs. compare how and what I do with what others are doing. My daughter will crack up or say “mom you didn’t pull out that old saying, did you?” And the answer is yes…so here it is; “You’ve gotta be who you are, cause if you be who you ain’t, then you ain’t who you is.” One of my elder relatives said that when I was young. It certainly isn’t grammatically correct, but it stuck with me all of these years and I know it still works!

I’m glad to be back in the saddle, fully loaded, being who I am …..ME!
Donna Rheaves, The Children’s Coach

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