Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Thanks for stopping by! My hope is for this blog to answer questions about, and occasionally provide insights into, children’s emotional lives — and their behavior — by sharing my experiences of working with children, parents, and teachers. Oh, and pets as well. (Pets and pet therapy are important to me and close to my heart; that’s one trait I definitely share with my students!)
My journey to writing this blog began years ago when I was Director of the Reading and Learning Disability Center at Tufts University. It was a seemingly ideal situation — we had parents who sought the best remedial instruction for their children, dedicated Master’s level teachers, and kids who mostly wanted to learn. Still, we failed some children, and this haunted me. I wanted to know why and how we could do better.
For me, the key to success was paying appropriate attention to the child’s emotional life. Teachers and parents know that a child’s learning problems can lead to emotional distress, but the fact is that the reverse is also true — emotions can interfere with the ability to learn as well. Unfortunately, this insight can be difficult to implement in the average classroom, where the focus, pressures, and rewards typically revolve around “achievement.” How can one discover the “missing key” for success in school (and life!) when traditional approaches fail?
After a first career in academia, I wanted to put theory into practice and co-founded The New School in the Heights in Houston (www.newschoolheights.org). There, at last, children’s emotional lives would become an integral part of the academic curriculum. Equally important, the parents of our K-8 students would be helped to better understand their children’s emotional world. At NSH, taking time to understand what in a child’s emotional world is interfering with his or her ability to learn (i.e. pay attention, “behave,” focus, etc.) doesn’t take away from optimum academic achievement; instead, it makes it possible.
When I was a student myself, I always preferred the case study method of learning, so that will be our approach here. By using “real life” examples from The New School in the Heights and fictionalized scenes from my novel, ALMOST PERFECT (www.AlmostPerfectNovel.com), I will share the insights my colleagues and I have developed over the years. Some of our approaches may be a bit unorthodox, so be prepared to disagree. In fact, be prepared to be encouraged to disagree; since this blog affords you the chance to respond and participate, I’m hoping we can get a good dialogue going and discover our own insights together!
Thank you for being a part of Your Kid’s Emotional Needs.
Diane Daniels Manning