Parent Power: The Power to Make a Difference

July 25, 2013

In honor of National Parents’ Day, celebrated the fourth Sunday of July, Government Book Talk reviews this exemplary parenting guide from the Department of Education, Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success.

parentpower The opening of the Department of Education’s Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success is a quote from President Obama made in July 2009:

“To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can’t just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn.”

PoderdelosPadresThe book’s introduction sets the reader up to learn the most important tip given in Parent Power and its Spanish version, Poder De Los Padres Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Exito, This tip is simple to state, but hard work to follow: be responsible. Your responsibility for your child’s education begins with modeling at home. If your kids see you reading, they will want to read. If you drag your kid to every Civil War battle site because you are a Civil War buff, your child may ace his or her American history exams. When you volunteer at your child’s school, your kids are going to see how important their education is to you.

Other tips covered in the book include: be committed, be positive, be patient, be attentive, be precise, be diligent, be results-oriented, be innovative. These tips are good calls to action for parents. Parents are already tired from their jobs, long commuting hours, keeping their living spaces clean and finding a way to feed the family. Just managing the basic tasks of daily survival can take up all their time. When your child throws a temper tantrum because you’ve sent her to her room to do her homework rather than watch her favorite TV show, it’s tough to practice that “be patient” tip. Good parenting demands more effort than managing basic survival.

Likewise, it takes a great deal of work to follow the other tips, such as remembering to be innovative and to provide positive feedback. It’s more constructive for parents to be precise when praising their children. Instead of telling your child she is smart for completing a drawing, you should tell the child how much you appreciate her making the effort to color the Canadian flag with the right colors in the right places. Parents will evaluate many of their children’s performances, and it will take quite a bit of creativity to say “good job!” in a different way every time. The last tip given in all bold case letters, BE THERE, is a restatement of the popular saying, the best present parents can give their kids is their presence.

The book does give specific suggestions, listed by school age group: birth through preschool, elementary, middle and high school.

Parent Power_Page12Image:Parent Power, Page 12, recommends activities for Pre-Schoolers and Kindergarteners.

The authors recommend a large number of parent-child and pro-school activities. Some examples are reading aloud to your child each day starting at birth, taking your child to the library, playing games with your child, contacting his or her teachers, visiting his or her school. Many parental advice volumes contain advice that may not be revolutionary, but may break parents out of a rut that they had not previously considered. There is also a list of electronic resources to help parents research further. Hints and tips are a parent’s best friend when guiding a child through the various developmental stages.

If you’re doing the fun but difficult work of raising a child, help yourself to Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success and/or Poder de los Padres: Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Éxito. Get the hints and tips you need to encourage you. Children do not simply inherit their characters from their parents like magic. Parents are the driving force in their children’s lives, both by example and character—and that’s the power of parents. 

How can I find parenting publications from the Federal Government?

Federal Depository Librarians: How can I access these publications?

About the author(s): Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Editor: Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.

Safe Playgrounds for Kids

February 16, 2011

Back in the day, I did a couple of stints as a parent at a cooperative preschool. It was a great experience but, as in most aspects of life, some of the jobs were tougher than others. Take the annual mulching of the playground, for instance. The recipe: Take one truckload of mulch dumped in the school driveway, a couple of wheelbarrows, several shovels, mix in what was invariably a hot, humid Saturday in late August, add whichever parents you’ve managed to corral for the job – and start spreading. We weren’t enriching our kids’ intellectual or social lives – just trying to prevent yet another trip to the emergency room.

In fact, according to the Public Playground Safety Handbook, in recent years children have made more than 200,000 trips annually to the emergency room due to injuries on public playgrounds, defined as those in apartments and condominiums, restaurants, parks, child care facilities, other areas of public use, and schools, like Valley Drive Cooperative Preschool, my (by parental extension) alma mater. I’m sure that a lot of those injuries are due to falls, so proper playground surfacing is important. When I was a kid, playgrounds were floored with sand or dirt, or at least that’s the way I remember it. According to the Handbook, produced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, mulch is a good surfacing material, as is sand, but not dirt. This very useful book also deals with playground siting, shading (would I think about how the shade fell if I were planning a playground? probably not – I can’t even manage that at a cookout.), equipment selection and installation, hazards, and much more.

I liked reading this book because it’s detailed but clear, matter-of-fact about hazards, not preachy about regulations, and designed to help even very small entities, like preschools, design and maintain playgrounds to keep children safe. Are there any guarantees? Dream on! As a child, one of my sisters-in-law stuck her head through a porch railing and couldn’t get it out until assisted by the local mail carrier. This escapade so enthralled the neighborhood children that she felt compelled to show them how it happened – and got stuck again. The Handbook is up against the limitless ability of kids to get themselves in fixes but, given the nature of the challenge, I doubt if it could be met much better than by this book. You can read  the Handbook here, get your own copy here, or find it in a library. And keep your head away from that railing!

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