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So often as parents and teachers we find ourselves frustrated with those children who just won’t perform in school. Adults with great intentions attempt to come up with clever and complex recipes for learning.

I ask you to consider this:  If you gather all the best ingredients and carefully mix them to make the fanciest most delicious cake, but neglect to turn on the oven, will you get cake? No, you will be left with a lump of fancy ingredients sitting in a cold cake pan. The magic, the chemical change, occurs ONLY with the heat of the oven.

If children do not feel worthy, lovable, and capable, all the academic tricks in the book will fail to ignite their interest. You’re baking with a cold oven so to speak.  Your first step as a parent or teacher is to preheat the heart of each child. And for the teacher, this means extending warmth, kindness, and courtesy throughout the school day. It is the prerequisite for all academic planning.

One of the easiest and most powerful ways to do this is to make intentional efforts to talk WITH children, actively LISTEN to children, and provide opportunities to make sure that each individual knows that they are indeed a worthy member of the club. And when this practice is embedded in daily classroom activity, you will be amazed how much easier it is to spark and maintain interest and desire to learn. —It is the kindling necessary for magical transformation!

About the author

Kate MartinKate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.

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The Purposeful Parent: The Art Of Yelling


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.