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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2005 / 6 Kislev, 5766

Smart mom sometimes just leaves son alone

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We've all heard that expression, "If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they come up with a way to get a sixth-grade boy to tell his mother about his math grade?"

Well, "they" did.

At long last, the technology that permeates our culture has transformed the nature of parenting a middle school boy. I no longer must rely on my son to tell me how he's doing in school. I can simply go to the World Wide Web and find out.

Back in the day, moms and dads had to rummage through backpacks to discover what was happening in the classroom. This was messy. Between the dirty gym clothes and the leftover bananas, you could end up on antibiotics just learning how your son did on a social studies quiz.

Not that you couldn't simply ask, "How'd you do on the social studies quiz?" More often than not, however, the answer was "fine," a subjective response, to be sure.

So schools like ours have begun subscribing to online reporting services that let parents log on to track their children's work in every subject. Used in conjunction with teachers' computerized grading systems, these services also allow parents to stay informed about daily assignments, projects and deadlines.

Gone are the days of prying, guessing and rifling through tattered pocket folders in a quest for information about academic progress. We can point and click our way into the teacher's official records.

Naturally, a development that's this good for parenting is a nightmare for your average middle schooler, such as my son, Jimmy. He's a good student, but even a conscientious young scholar has a bad day every so often. With online grade monitoring, no bad day goes unnoticed.

Nonetheless, ups and downs are just part of being a sixth-grader. The term is nine weeks long, after all, and there's a large body of work to do before his teachers make the final judgment on his performance. You can't get into a lather about every blip on the academic screen.

Besides, who among us hasn't walked into a classroom, dropped into a prefab plastic chair and felt his heart drop to the floor as he remembers -- too late -- that today is the English test? An occasional bad grade is to be expected.

What I look for when surfing the online updates are trends. How often do I find the dreaded "mi" -- for "missing" -- where a letter grade should be? Do the math grades reflect a lack of effort or confusion about decimals? How many days in a row does the music teacher give him just three out of five points for "conduct"?

When I find a pattern, I pounce. "Look at this," I say sternly as I hand Jimmy the printout of his music teacher's daily performance and participation record. "You have a C plus for behavior in music class. Do you know how a person gets a C plus for behavior? By not behaving."

I continue to lecture Jimmy for a good five minutes on the relationship between good conduct and good grades.

When he seems appropriately somber, realizing again that Mom is everywhere, I know I've made my case. The prosecution rests.

In truth, though, mom isn't everywhere, and the older he gets, the more he must rely on his own abilities to monitor his progress and correct his course when necessary. Sometimes, in the interest of better parenting, I find it's best not to use all the information I find online; or more precisely, I decide not to act on everything I find.

The danger of a system that lets parents track each day's results is the temptation to rescue your child -- to keep him from failing, a learning tool we probably don't use often enough these days.

All the warnings and threats in the world won't work if they don't come to pass occasionally. Sometimes you have to get that bad grade to realize your parents are right about finishing your homework, studying for tests and listening in class.

That's why, even though it looks for all the world as if Jimmy has a C plus coming in math, I decide to watch and wait.

I don't print out the page that documents his predicament.

I don't offer to check his homework, remind him of an upcoming quiz or generally nag him about working harder.

I just keep an eye on him.

Sure enough, there is a new trend. After a couple of weeks, I check the Web site and find a series of 100 percents on worksheets and an A on a test. Before long, he has reversed the downward spiral, proving my case about the inextricable connection between effort and results.

Online monitoring systems are terrific because anything that betters communication between parents and teachers is a great development.

Then again, another great development is watching a boy take responsibility for himself and succeed on his own.

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 18 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2005, Marybeth Hicks