Establishing collaboration between parents and teachers can only serve to benefit our students. At Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, FL, Dominique Craft, the Dean of Curriculum for the Lower School engages parents in a book club. This time the discussion centered on a book by award winning author Wendy Mogel, PhD, called Voice Lessons. Mrs. Craft has written a review of this book and taken notes on this month’s conversation.
“Masters of a Universe” - Takeaways from Wendy Mogel’s Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Listen
Think of this book as a masters in communication for anyone who works with children. The messages Dr. Mogel lays out are summarized nicely in an article she published in the New York Times, called "Should We Speak to Little Boys the Way We Talk to Dogs?"
Last Friday, I sat down with some Shorecrest parents to discuss Chapter 3 “The Biggest, Strongest, Fastest: Connecting with Young Boys Ages Three to Eleven.” Perhaps one of the parents said it best - “Now I know I’m not crazy.” We bonded over what Wendy calls “boys’ fickle listening skills, rowdiness, and tactlessness.” We also shared stories of our boys’ incredible capabilities and endless curiosity. Wendy’s advice for important adults in boys’ lives is direct, immediately practicable, and, I would argue, lifesaving. From Wendy, I learned some strategies to tap into our boys’ biological tendencies, their energy, impulsiveness, and desire for adventure; how to speak so that they can hear and listen.
To provide some context, here is a transcript of a video that I took of my almost-5-year-old son on our walk at the park yesterday:
“...Mama, do you know about dogs? Owners are actually, um, um, let me tell it again. Um, a collar is actually a rope that has clips on the bottom and then they stick together and the man is holding the collar. That’s how it does it. Dogs need collars because to walk with people. Otherwise it would just run away…..”
This was just 10 seconds of an ongoing soliloquy from my curious boy, rife with lots of “ums” and pauses and false starts as he gathered his thoughts. Meanwhile, my mom brain was clamoring to interrupt him at every turn. Is he old enough to care for a pet? Have we spent enough time in the park to get out all his energy? Did I turn the crockpot on this morning? Then I heard Wendy’s voice: “Try to be enchanted with his enchantment.... Boys want to prove themselves, to be ‘masters of a universe’. Collecting information is a way of getting their arms all the way around a topic….” I turned my attention to my son. “What else do you know about dogs?”
Early in her book, Wendy introduces three fundamental truths about children:
1. Boys and girls are different.
2. Your child’s bad behavior doesn’t make you a bad parent.
3. Today is a snapshot, not the epic movie of your child’s life.
From this groundwork, she addresses communication barriers that often arise with young boys and young girls (chapters 3&4), addressing hard topics (chapter 5), how to communicate with teenagers (chapters 6-8) -- You better believe I’ll be pulling this book back out in 8 years -- and how to partner with the other adults in your child’s life, like your ex, grandparents, teachers (chapters 9&10).
We had a wonderful conversation about the chapter on talking with boys last Friday. I hope that families of young girls will read Chapter 4 “The Boss, the Bestie, the High Priestess of Pretend: Conversing with Young Girls ages Three to Eleven” and attend our Book Club on November 8 at 12 pm in the Library Classroom.
We invite you to see our Lower School in action by taking a Personal tour of Shorecrest.