Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Reading shapes life. A full taste for reading leads to skills, careers and a rich inner life. A distaste for reading can lead to poverty, unemployment and bitterness.

The principal of a primary school in Atlanta said she could tell which kids were ready to learn. Those that are, have eyes that sparkle. Those that aren’t have eyes that are glazed.

The State of Florida just published a report on the gains from pre-K classes. Children not ready to read measured 36 percent down from 42 percent. The study results were presented to show the value of pre-K.

What was missing from the report was reference to parent’s failures with the 36 percent. We all know that children’s reading interest stems from stories read by parents. Children are stimulated to read and learn when parents read in ways that involve them in the book and the story.

Reading is vital to every life. The current push on science and math won’t go far if reading is a problem. In fact, life won’t go far if reading is a problem.

Do we have here another example where families aren’t doing the job for kids and instead expect someone else to do it?

We’ve got the new UNESCO study showing U.S. and U.K. children to be lowest in well-being of the 21 most advanced nations. What more will it take to make families wake up and do what their kids need. Every excuse about busyness pales in the face of the basic needs of children.

To add your comments on this most recent part of THE FAMILY CHALLENGE, click on the comment found below this blog.

Friday, March 02, 2007


A study just released by UNICEF says that American and British children are near the bottom of the well-being list in the world. The study was conducted using 40 well-being factors on children in the 21 economically advanced nations. If there is truth in the study, how can these conditions exist in the most affluent countries? Two of the wealthiest countries in the world are not looking after their children.

There are several predictable reactions to the study (including attacking the study). One is that the welfare systems in these two countries are not getting a fair share of resources. Another is that the education system can’t run good schools. Another is that so much attention and money goes into the wars, there’s not enough left for children. Another is that little attention is being paid to the abuse and sale of children.

There’s probably truth in all of these reactions. It is clear in our society that children are not our first priority despite our sentimentality about them.

However, all these reactions may miss the big point. Are our families doing the job for our children?

We are in an era when the first reaction to most things is to look for someone else to blame. Families have been doing this for decades with the public demand for better schools, better welfare, better daycare and so on, missing the essentials. Who can argue these are bad things? Only if they are a substitute for families doing their job for their children.

To be realistic, all these services aren’t going to get much more money or whatever they need. So it is time for families to take stock. Are our kids getting the attention, instruction and limits that they need? Or, in the money rush, are we depriving them of the essentials?

It is just possible that we have become so swept up by the glitz in life, we are not ready to slow down, take less for ourselves and give more to our kids.

So what do we do next? Let’s slow down and take stock of our families. Let’s help ourselves help our families. Let’s meet THE FAMILY CHALLENGE head on. How do we get started? Visit to get focused on your family goal.

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