Mental toughness, homework, designer babies, Anything Goes, free newspapers, dance recital at SVHS, gifted workshop


Lorna Sheridan/Index-Tribune Education Editor


In researching her latest book, author Jessica Lahey asked countless teachers, “What one thing would you want your students’ parents to know?” The same five points came up over and over again:

1. Your kids can do much more than you think they can do.

2. It’s not healthy to give your child constant feedback.

3. We promise not to believe everything your child says happens at home if you promise not to believe everything your child says happens in our classrooms.

4. Your children learn and act according to what you do, not what you say.

5. Teach your children that mistakes aren’t signs of weakness but a vital part of growth and learning.

Her complete write-up on this at tinyurl.com/q92aruk is excellent. Her book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” comes out next year.

Despite what feels like significant evidence to the contrary, a new study suggests that our children have no more homework today than we had in 1984. The Brown Center on American Education found that the percentage of 17-year-olds who say they have more than two hours of homework each night has remained unchanged over the past 30 years at 13 percent. Backing up the finding is a UCLA study that found the number of seniors who said they had more than six hours of homework a week dropped from 50 percent in 1986 to 38 percent in 2012. http://time.com/28433/brookings-institute-study-30-years-unchanged/

A number of studies in recent years have attempted to clarify what makes someone mentally tough. A cognitive psychologist boiled down the findings to 12 key attributes of mental toughness in sport, ranked in order of importance:

• Unshakeable self-belief in your ability to achieve competition goals.

• Unshakeable self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents.

• Insatiable desire and internalized motives to succeed.

• Remaining fully focused on the task at hand in the face of competition-specific distractions.

• Regaining psychological control following unexpected, uncontrollable events.

• Pushing back the boundaries of physical and emotional pain, while still maintaining technique and effort under distress during training and competition.

• Accepting that competition anxiety is inevitable and knowing that you can cope with it.

• Not being adversely affected by other’s good and bad performances.

• Thriving on the pressure of competition.

• Remaining fully focused in the face of personal life distractions.

• Switching sport focus on and off as required.

I found these relevant for everyone, not just athletes. Read the complete piece at Scientific American at linkis.com/com/l7UhQ

Should would-be parents be able to “design” their perfect baby? “Preventing a lethal disease is one thing; choosing the traits we desire is quite another,” suggested Thomas H. Murray in a commentary in Science magazine. New techniques are making it possible for parents to do more than screen for lethal diseases. Interestingly, sex selection is prohibited in at least 36 countries, but not in the U.S. http://tinyurl.com/llhp53w

Up on my Facebook page recently popped a photo of an annoyed teenage girl holding a handmade sign that read, “Mom is trying to show me how many people can see a photo once it’s on the Internet.” The photo was dated March 18, 2014. By the time I came across it that same evening, 1.2 million Facebook users had “liked” it, I assume in support of the mom making a good point about her daughter needing to be careful with what she posts online.

Adele Harrison Middle School’s incoming parent night for rising sixth graders and their parents will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. today, Tuesday, March 25, at the gym. Families will be able to hear from students and teachers about the programs offered at Adele. Childcare and translation will be provided. No need to rsvp.

Sonoma Valley High School’s dance students invite the community to their annual dance showcase at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29. More than 100 students will be dancing in the showcase, performing all different styles of dance from salsa to hip hop and everything in between. Meredith Regan, who heads the program, expects upwards of 700 people to attend over the two nights.

K-12 teachers can request free classroom online and print edition subscriptions to USA Today. Grants are awarded on a first come, first serve basis. usatodayeducation.com/k12/usa-today-education-grant-request.

 Justin-Siena High School is staging the popular musical, “Anything Goes,” at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 4, 5, 11 and 12, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 6 and 13. Sonoma students involved in the production include Alyssa Bonfigli, Lauren Johnson, Katherine Perdue, Meghan Piatti-Cosgrove, Kerstin Steiger and Reina Taylor. Tickets can be purchased online at Justin-siena.org

There is a workshop for parents on “Parenting Advanced Learners” at the Sonoma Community Center from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays for six weeks starting April 2. The cost is $90 for the series. To register, call 585-6108, or visit calparents.org. The workshop is taught by Karen Littell of the California Association for the Gifted. The workshop will offer parents of gifted children information about meeting social/emotional needs, peer relationships, perfectionism, motivation, underachievement, depression, twice exceptional children (gifted plus other issues), stress, advocacy and imposter syndrome.

Is your teen baffling you (or making you crazy)? I have just signed up for the “Practical Help for Parents” (PHFP) newsletter. Norcal-based PHFP provides information and access to online resources organized by 10 key parenting areas. Their tip sheets and book reviews are particularly helpful. One recent glowing recommendation is for “The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager” by Michael Simon. practicalhelpforparents.com

This is a short, fun unauthorized quiz online that will tell you, based on your interests and hobbies, which of the University of California campuses would be the best for you. buzzfeed.com/kimberlywang/which-university-of-california-should-you-actually-attend

Margie Brooks’ Community Café, 875 W. Napa St., is hosting a spring feast from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, with all proceeds donated to Sonoma Charter School. The cost is $20 with BYO wine and beer, $10 for kids. Vegetarian options available.