A longtime teacher and principal guides parents through the basics of supporting and enriching childhood education.
Casale, who has written his first book after a half-century working in education, brings an upbeat attitude to this guide for parents looking to help their children succeed in school. The book leads readers through both the mindset necessary to foster a learning environment (Casale encourages parents to develop a family-based mission statement that makes education a priority and to periodically assess their own performance as well as their children’s) and the more practical aspects of forming one, from ensuring that homework is completed to the components of a successful parent-teacher conference. Casale draws on many examples from his own years in the classroom and the principal’s office, which brings a from-the-trenches credibility to his observations and recommendations. Citations from Daniel Goleman, Alfie Kohn and other experts add support, too. One of the book’s key themes is that children cannot be compelled to learn, a point Casale often makes with wry humor: “Aside from torture, coercion, bribes, canceling cable and all electronics, or forcing your child to listen to Yanni, your chances of forcing your child to read a book are slim to none.” His frequent criticism of electronics—“a thief that steals precious time from our children”; “Limit TV, video games, and any other electronics that are mindless and a waste of precious time”; “Cell phones for children under sixteen should be used for emergencies or talking to family members only”—may be a point of contention for readers not so opposed to technology. On the whole, however, Casale gives parents a reassuring, big-picture look at how they, even more than teachers, shape their children’s attitudes to learning. By reminding readers that “even caring and loving parents must learn” how to create a home environment that supports learning, the book establishes itself as a legitimate, useful parenting tool.
An effective manual for parents who want to establish a pro-learning mindset and develop concrete strategies for helping their children succeed in school.