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Every Parent Has a Skill They Can Teach

When I was young, our grade school in South Milwaukee actively looked for parents to help with a school idea - a project.  Parents, for a certain amount of time, came in to our small school and taught us about their hobby or unique skill.

This project was a long time ago. I don't remember details. I don't remember how it was run. I don't remember how many kids or what grades were involved. However, I do remember the parents and what  was taught.  I do remember how much I loved it. This event stays and will continue to stay in the fond areas of my memory forever. 

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Hothoused Kids

Here is an interesting concept. It's been around awhile, but I first learned it last year. It is called Hothousing. 

Hothousing is basically something that parents do in early childhood to get their kids ahead.  It is the strive to have a super baby.  They buy flashcards.  They play classical music.  They get their kids early music lessons.  They make sure their children are in the best academic preschools.  These kids are usually overscheduled with activities that parents think their kids need later in life.  So by the time these kids are in grade school, they are way ahead of other children.

If you ever hear anyone in an educator role say that a child's intelligence "evens out" by third or fourth grade ... this is what I think they are referring to.  According to what I've read and the people I've talked to, some of these kids who are pushed ahead by parents at a young age do "even out" by third grade.  Their early education does not have a lasting effect, other kids eventually catch up, and intelligence essentially "evens out" . 

Unfortunately, kids who are truly cognitively ahead at a young age, fall into the same category of these hothoused kids. The high intelligence of kids who are truly gifted - because teachers assume their parents are also pushing them too much - is not addressed until at least third grade. Our smartest kids become lost in boredom.

All of this does make some sense to me.  I was accused of doing this with my son: not necessarily by teachers, but by other parents.  A friend of mine once told me that I should not be forcing my son to learn at such a young age. He needs to be playing and running around and having fun - not reading books. She felt his intelligence was because of me pushing my son  - not because of his own intelligence. This was a frustrating accusation. 

I was not forcing him to do anything he did not want to do.  My friend failed to see that my son - laying inside on the floor, reading - was having fun.

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Using Email Etiquette

I am currently preparing to teach my kids the basics of email etiquette. My oldest son has an email account and at some point, he may need to send an email to someone besides a close friend or relative (for example, a teacher).  Considering email was new technology when I was in college 15 years ago, I am not sure if email etiquette is even taught in school now.  However, it's useful knowledge, especially if you plan to work in a professional business environment.

I cannot believe I am teaching anyone email etiquette, considering I have broken all the rules!

Here is my most important list.  I'm using the top items on the 101 Email Etiquette Tips web site.


  • Be sure your email includes a polite greeting and closing.   Doing this helps to make your email not seem demanding or rude.

    It is so easy to forgot to do this, especially if you know the person you're emailing well. From experience - an email without a pleasant greeting might make you seem angry or upset - when you are not.
  • Spell check and proofread your emails.  Emails with typos simply look unprofessional.

    Oh boy, this is so important - and probably one of my most broken rules. I've learned - if the email is important - to write a draft, save it, and then spell check and proofread it for typos a few hours later or the next day.

    (However, in reality, I desperately need an editor to follow me around everywhere I go.)
  • Title the subject of your email appropriately.  This saves the reader the time of wondering what you want.

    I've learned that if you are vague with your subject or leave the subject line empty (which I sometimes do by accident), the reader might not respond as quickly.
  • Write complete sentences.  Random phrases and abstract thoughts might lead to misunderstanding and is poor communication. 

    Don't reply to emails with just one or two words that are not sentences.  The reader may not understand what you are trying to communicate.
  • A "thank you" or an "I appreciate your help" or "Nice to hear from you" goes a long way.  Use them as often as you can! 

    Being pleasant in an email usually brings back a pleasant reply or a happier reader.

  • Just because someone does not ask for a response, it doesn't mean you ignore them.   Always reply to an email in a timely manner.

    I sometimes don't reply, because of being busy, as quickly as I'd like to. However, I do think a short reply to all emails is just common courtesy. 
  • Keep your emails short and to the point.  Save your longer emails for the telephone.

    This is hard for me to do for people I email outside of my job.  The time I have to email are usually the times that talking on the phone is not a good idea (night or early morning).  Plus, I'm a clearer writer than speaker.  So writing that 10 paragraph email comes naturally. Unfortunately, my 10 paragraph email causes serious eye rolling. So I have learned to limit myself.

    I know people who challenge themselves at keeping their email to 5 sentences or less. This is something I am not quite capable of yet!
  • Most important: If your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer, calm down, and reply at a later time. 

    Gmail currently has a feature that makes you solve a puzzle before it will let you send an email. This feature apparently prevents you from sending emails if you've had too much to drink. (Ha, it's called Mail Goggles.)  

    What email systems really need (what I really need) is some kind of device or email functionality that prevents people (me) from sending emails when angry.  It is just too easy to send an email that you might regret.  Just walk away and calm down.

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