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Last Updated: 04/12/2018


Article of Interest - Parenting

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Bridges4Kids LogoRefrigerator Magnets are Tool For Learning
Displaying kids' work is one way to boost performance.
by Douglas Keyes, Lansing State Journal, August 20, 2003
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Get yourself a magnet - lots of them. The school year is about to begin, and I am guaranteeing a sure-fired strategy for success.

Several years back, my journalism students were developing ideas for the next issue of the school newspaper. I posed a simple question: "What was the last thing of yours your parents posted up on the refrigerator door?"

Having two elementary-aged daughters at home then and a refrigerator door plastered with their drawings and school projects, it seemed like a funny idea for a high school story. Instead, it became quite revealing.

My brightest students had a hard time admitting that even into their senior year, their parents still were putting stuff up there. Some only were willing to admit that to me after class - as if it were some skeleton in their closet.

After lots of discussion, laughs, and stories from those who said the last thing of theirs was a speeding ticket or a list of undone chores, I found myself asking all my classes the same question.

Throughout the day, the question sparked interest, laughter, anger, regret, embarrassment and pride. I found that those students enjoying success in school readily admitted to recent refrigerator postings. Conversely, I found those who had little interest in school guessing it had been a bare refrigerator door since elementary school.

Now, I admit I have never been given a big research grant for this. Nor have I quantified and qualified my statistics in a scientific manner. Nevertheless, the results of my questioning were quite insightful.

We've known all along, really. Success in academics is most influenced by parental involvement and their clear signal that they care about school, teacher feedback, grades, essays, projects, and extracurriculars. Every year from kindergarten on ... it doesn't stop. Parents' actions count.

This transcends economic, racial and gender breakdowns. It is simple. And if there's been a divorce, that just creates more refrigerator doors to fill up. So be on the lookout for both doors and magnets.

Magnets come in the mail free with pizza delivery phone numbers; they show up as business promotions all the time. As you stand in the checkout line with your groceries, those magnets are right there calling to you. Give in. Make that refrigerator door as filled up as you can for as long as you can.

You may even have to buy the kind with clips in order to hold that junior year research paper with the big red A on it. Or a B, or C ... you have to start somewhere.

My daughters are now in college, and their academic accomplishments continue to go on the door. It's not to brag, but to let them know their work still counts with me. They see it every time they come home to raid the fridge. 


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