I Made My Student Cry, and I Liked It

cryYep, it’s true. I made my student cry, and I was glad she did.

When my 10-year-old student found out that Beth died, Jo refused to marry Laurie, and then just a few years later Amy swooped in to marry Laurie herself, the waterworks came a flowin’.  See, we were reading Little Women: one the greatest classic novels ever written, and a requirement for young girls making their way towards womanhood. In the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables, Little Women makes its mark on young girls today, even though it was written almost 150 years ago.

Little Women is a tale of four sisters, each personally navigating their own destiny with the intuitive guidance of their Marmie. The characters are bright, funny, and layered with complex emotions of the world outside their attic playhouse windows. Together they experience joy, fear, friendship, loss, love, pain, and internal triumph over struggles with gender norms and social status. It was a time when educating a woman was secondary to husband-hunting and learning how to keep home. This book, however, bucked tradition, and instead encouraged young girls to make their studies a priority, an ideal that gave the main character, Jo, permission to become lost in the art of the written word– a nod to the author’s own life.

There’s something almost cathartic about reading a book written long before technology took over. Now, I’m a fan of my gadgets just as much as the next but I didn’t grow up with information overload via iPads and cell phones. When my students find out that fact, oh the gasps of horror that wash over them followed by looks of pity as if to say, “You poor, poor Tutor. How did you ever survive?” Balance, my friends. It’s all about balance.

I ask all of my students to incorporate some classic literature into their nightly reading because I think somewhere along the way of trying to make Young Adult books interesting with vampires, alternate worlds, and magical potions we’ve overlooked the simplicity of writing an everyday, complex character with everyday, complex relationships. Nothing blows up in Little Women, except for Jo’s temper. Yet, my student came to me emotionally distraught over Jo’s choices. That’s a true testament to a story that will stand the test of time because it appeals to our most deepest emotions.

Little Women is one of my favorite stories because it pulls at my heartstrings and reminds me of the importance of family, friends, love, and laughter.  It will most certainly continue to be a staple of sisterhood and an insight into the bonds of those relationships.

So don’t be alarmed when your child comes crying to you about Beth’s death, Pollyanna’s accident, or Anne’s initial refusal to marry Gil. Crying means that they’re invested in the thought-provoking, ethereal world of classic literature.

A few classics that will make your kids cry:

  • A Little Princess
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Great Expectations
  • Heidi
  • Little Women
  • Oliver Twist
  • Pollyanna
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Call of the Wild
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • The Giving Tree
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Velveteen Rabbit

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

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Teacher Town Hall

teacher town hallIf you haven’t heard of Michelle Rhee then get ready to have your world turned right-side-up. She is a proactive, polarizing, purposeful reformer of our broken public school system. Her mission is very simple: to put students first.

As we all know, this mission, albeit simple in name, is complex in nature. Even if we skip over the contentious pro/anti union debate we are still left with the daunting realization that our government is required to educate 74 million children in America. 74 million!

In Michelle’s Teach for America days, she was ushered into zip codes where that commitment flat-out failed. As she became more aware of the forgotten children she found herself drawn towards education reform. It’s fitting that on the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous I have a dream speech we are looking at our accomplishments but realizing there’s still a long way to go. Don’t let the reality of the situation get you down though. Instead, tap into your fighting reformer spirit and find a way to get involved– make a change for the better.

If you’re in Los Angeles (9/5), Birmingham (9/12), or Philadelphia (9/16) make it a point to stop by this free Teacher Town Hall for a little education and inspiration.

Recommended Read–Radical: Fighting to Put Students First by Michelle Rhee

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

The Golden Ticket: Teaching the Concept of Earnings Power Through Reading

We Can All Agree That Reading Is GoodSummer Reading Club

We are all aware of the significance of reading at a young age: (1) reading is instrumental to a child’s cognitive and emotional development, (2) phonemic and phonological awareness is the basis of speech and language processing; (3) reading is directly connected with an increased vocabulary which helps to build strong writing mechanics and essay structure, and (4) let’s not forget that reading stories about adventure, love, loss, and friendship makes us feel more connected to ourselves and each other. We can all agree that reading is good.

How To Help Non-Readers Become Active Readers

But what do you do if your child is just not that into reading? With so many other activities vying for their attention it is difficult to make reading a top priority. Some kids are naturally voracious readers, even categorized as autodidacts. Some kids are not and that’s okay because as we talked about last week, there are many ways of learning and various Multiple Intelligences. For the kids who need a little extra golden ticketencouragement to pick up that book, I suggest quantifying their efforts through what I like to call, The Golden Ticket. Commonly known as a book program or reading club, you too can adopt this strategy in your own home simply by setting forth an expectation of reading daily for 20 minutes and then allowing your child to earn a weekly prize once they compete their weekly reading ticket. That weekly reading ticket becomes a Golden Ticket just by attaching expectations and earning power to it, elevating its importance and giving it some real clout.

The Correlation Between Hard-Work & Rewards

Healthy self-competition is good for the soul and keeps motivation alive. It’s important to instill the essence of earnings power, the ability to generate profit (whether monetary or not ) from working hard, at a young age. The idea that your child has true potential but needs to capitalize on that by putting forth the time and effort to raise the status quo is the same idea used in everything from potty-training to chores to pay grades in the work force. Motivation comes in all forms and for things that are difficult for kids to do, it may require a little extra incentive. But don’t just give them that reward! Instead, help them learn to earn it. You’ll not only teach them the importance of reading but the importance of two life lessons: hard-work and tenacity.

For Good Reads Check Out Our Recommended Book List: Summer Reading Club- Upper Elementary School

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com