Category Archives: Blog

Grit Book Gifts: The rest is still unwritten

Grit books were a hit this holiday season! It was all about personal gifts for the kids this Christmas. I took the old school work of my daughter and nieces to make more recycled paper.  With the paper, I had them bound into books covered in their favorite colors.  I wasn’t sure what they would do with them.  Maybe they would use them as their story journal, or as their coloring/drawing book or as a scrapbook or dream journal.  Whatever they choose, I am excited to see what treasures these grit books hold and I will be sure to share them with you all. My daughter has already started using it to draw designs of what she wants to create next as well as her hopes for each day.  In noticing this, it made me think about my past blog post on grit goals as well as an article I read in ForbesWoman.  The article was about goal setting.

The article summarized not only the importance of goal-setting, but of writing them down and visualizing them as much as possible. We hear a lot about the importance of goal-setting but most of us don’t have clear and measurable goals to work toward. Lewis Carroll says, “Any road will get you there, if you don’t know where you are going,” but how important are goals really and if they are vital, how can we make them most effective?  According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals. Who doesn’t want to accomplish significantly more? The article talked about four steps in being successful.  These are four steps we can not only do ourselves but encourage in our children. They are:

  1. Write down your goals.
  2. Create a vision for what you want.
  3. Turn that into a list of measurable goals.
  4. Celebrate your successes/goals as you accomplish them.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if grit books housed these important steps for our children whether it’s in words, pictures or both? Why wouldn’t every child have a grit book? Enjoy the pictures. Remember, the books are uniquely designed out of a child’s completed school work reminding them of all of the great work they have already accomplished.  Please comment on what you think of these grit books and share ideas on how they could be used.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

For Grit Books, please see the steps below:

Step 1: Click here and complete the survey.  Soon after Grit Moms will contact you to place your order

Step 2: Pay a deposit fee and we will send you a pre-addressed box.  Place your child’s school work in it and drop in the mail.

Step 3: Once Grit Moms receives your child’s school work, we will begin converting the school work into Grit Book pages.  Along the way, we will send you a draft copy of the books cover and title based on your survey responses/email communication.

Step 4: Upon approval of our cover work, you will pay the remaining balance and we will ship your book to you to enjoy!

 

 

Grit Books

With the abundance of school paper the kids bring home, why not repurpose it into something more long lasting and memorable.  Similar to the Grit Stationary, I can take your child’s old school work that we all feel guilty throwing away and repurpose them into unique books.  These books can be used as scrapbooks, art books, journals and more! Contact us for more information and about ordering.

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Setting Grit Goals: The journey of a new school year begins

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As we try to soak up the last few hours of summer before a new school year begins there is so much to do. I am checking and rechecking their back packs to make sure they have all of their school supplies. Making sure their lunch boxes and folders are labeled. Doing a final fitting of their school uniforms to make sure the shirts and bottoms are comfortable.

It’s hard to say bye to summer. Summer was filled with family activities, being outside, going to fun camps, hanging out with friends. We also had landmark moments this summer. Moments that we talked about as the summer started. Moments that we hoped to accomplish before the new school year starts. Moments such as my youngest learning how to ride to a two-wheeler. Moments like my like oldest taking on the role of junior counselor at a youth camp for the first time. Moments like spending time together as a family to make memories that would fill our hearts with so much love and happiness that they almost burst. We spent much of the summer working to earn things. Earning time to play on the xbox. Earning time to watch another episode of Doc McStuffins past bedtime.

As this epic summer draws to a close and the focus turns to having an even more epic school year, the kids and I talked today about experiencing great moments and about earning things. The discussion then turned to setting goals. When I taught in an elementary classroom years ago, and even now when I do trainings with adult educators, we always discussed setting goals first. The first day of school, I would talk with my students about creating goals or things they want to accomplish this year. When I conduct trainings with educators, we always set goals for what we want to accomplish during our time together. In each of those times, the goals were always created and agreed upon together. After some thought-provoking (and quite hilarious) discussion and after realizing the kids had never really done this before, I wanted to work with them in establishing their own personal goals for the new school year. We talked about why goals are important and how they had actually set goals for themselves AND accomplished them this summer without realizing it. We decided to break up our goals into long-term and short-term goals. A long-term goal is one they want to accomplish by the end of the school year. The short-term goal is one that they want to accomplish in the first month of the school year. The kids wrote them down and then posted them up in their rooms so they can continue to see it. What I especially love is that both kids didn’t completely focus on academic goals for themselves. They strived to create goals that make them better all-around people.

Here are my oldest (my son’s) goals for the 2015-16 school year:

Long Term:

  1. Earn the end of the year Spelling award for my grade.

Short Term (for the first month of school):

  1. Get to know the new kids in my grade.
  2. Take and pass 6 AR (accelerated reader) tests.

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Here are my youngest (my daughter’s) goals for the 2015-16 school year:

Long Term:

  1. Earn “Student of Month” in second grade.

Short Term (for the first month of school):

  1. Practice kindness to everyone in my grade.
  2. Get 100% on my first spelling test.

Audrey's goals

I encourage all you grit moms to support your kids in creating long-term and short-term goals for themselves as they start a new and exciting school year. Please share them with us when you do! Here are few things to keep in mind with goal setting

Goals should be as SMART as possible

    1. S: Specific
    2. M: Measureable
    3. A: Attainable
    4. R: Realistic
    5. T: Time Bound
    6. When first setting goals, my youngest would keep saying, “For my long term goal, I just want to work hard.” Getting them in the mindset of creating SMART goals makes them think about their goals more and put more time into wanting to accomplish them. If they state a goal and it’s really general, keep asking them those SMART questions: Work hard at what? Is there a subject where you want to work hard? Which subject? Why? How do you know that you’ve accomplished working hard at that subject?

Write the goals down

Taking the time talk through what goals to set and then writing them down, gives kids more of an investment in the goal. The more invested they are, the more likely they will accomplish it.

Post the goals somewhere as a reminder

Short-terms goals take some time to accomplish. Long-term goals taking even longer to accomplish. Posting written goals up where kids can see them regularly is a simple way to keep them motivated and to keep them from forgetting them. You can also encourage having your kids read them every day as part of a regularly routine. Either before they leave for school or before they go to bed.

When anyone sets a goal themselves; whether short-term or long-term; they develop a sense of purpose. While encouraging goal setting for your kids, don’t forget to set some goals for yourself!

The Grit Paper Project: One of these is not like the other

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The paper making continues.  The kids have been continuously motivated to work on this fun project.  Again, it made us realize how much paper the kids used for school work the past year and how it can be repurposed.  We have recycled over 300 pages ofschool  paper so far and the kids came up with creative uses for the repurposed “grit” paper.  Not only is the paper textured  and somewhat gritty, but it has taken time, patience and persistence to make.  What’s cool about this is that the kids have been quite focused in wanting to work on this fun summer project.   As each stage of the paper making process takes some time (soaking the paper, making the molds, laying them out to dry and cuting them out etc.)  its been exciting to see the kids step away from the paper project as they wait patiently for the next step in the process and then come back to complete it.   Check out our progress and let us know what you think.

We found that 100 pages of 8.5 x 11 inch used school work paper can create:

Fifteen 10 x 10 pages of recycled stationary style grit paper that can used for sturdy art paper as well as journal paper.

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Ten 5 x 5 blank grit cards that can be used for thank you cards or any other kind of card.

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Ten 5 x 5 envelopes for the blank cards.  The envelopes were tricky (not gonna lie), but it was my son’s idea which got him more involved with this project.  They turned out great!

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With the edges of grit paper being cut off to make the envelopes, we were able to make book marks reminding us that there are always ways to reuse something.

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When the tubs of water and gloppy paper were too thin to make any more grit paper molds, my daughter found ways to strain the material and use the clay like consistency to make/create anything her imagination led her.  Whether it was a sun, a volcano, a snowman, or a building, this globby stuff kept her occupied for hours while we waited for the paper molds to dry.

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Finally, and the most interesting observation was realizing that each page, each card, each envelope and each bookmark was unique.  The kids started to examine each grit page to find part of their handwriting or a picture of a page.  While they all looked similar, each repurposed piece of paper was made with different pages of a math worksheet, a social studies map, a spelling test paper or an art page.   The originality of this finished work as well as the importance of reusing something that was so deeply connected to them in some way are what makes this such a great activity.  Please enjoy the pictures and message us if you want to learn more about how we can help you do a project like this with your kids.

Summer is for Sustainability!

Summer is here and the household feels busier than ever! The kids are busy with camps and activities while we try to figure out some kind of routine.  Summer is also a time to purge and organize school work from the recent ending school year.  In past summers, the kids and I would get together and go through their school work from the year and keep their five favorite things to put in their scrap books.  Then what happens to the rest of it?  Off to the recycling bin they go!  Each time this year, I always say to myself, “The kids go through so much paper at school!”  Each year it seems to lessen slightly as they grow into more paperless activities (for my middle schooler especially), but even with the computers and technology, there is still a chunk of paper that they use.

So this summer, we decided to try something different.  I am constantly trying to make connections to grit and persistence in their everyday lives and am constantly communicating the guiding principles of Grit Moms to them (Change, Power, Systems and Relationships/Connections).  A lot of times the connections are made when talking about our family and our culture.  Other times lately, the connections are being made through some time work involving service and ways they can be better citizens to our community and our world.  As I looked at the pile of papers of their work from the past school year, I thought about what we could do with school work instead of throwing it away yet again.  That’s when my daughter said, let’s make some art with it.  Soon after, the recycling paper project emerged.   I immediately thought about the guiding principle of relationships/connections.  Everything is connected.  Kids’ attitudes and behavior not only affect them but others. The same is true for parents.  But it is also connections that allow others to achieve.  For example, we often hear adult share stories like, “If it wasn’t for that teacher who believed in me, I wouldn’t have achieved this.”  Relationships are important. We are social beings and need to interact to share ideas and connect.  Kids need to understand that what they do and accomplish affects those around them.  Achievement should be a form of self-betterment.  It should be something that contributes positively to one’s family and society.  In the end, achievement should promote harmony for oneself and for all.  So kids need an understanding of the importance of family, their community and their world.

So with that, we decided to take all of their school work from the past year and repurpose it into decorative paper they can use instead of throwing it away.  Take a look at pictures of our project where the kids made “Grit” paper.  We had a blast and plan on making more.  We have a lot of school work paper to repurpose and reuse!

First we gathered all of the school paper that my daughter brought home throughout the school year.  Wow!  First grade was a busy!

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Then she ripped the papers into strips and placed them in a small tub.

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Then we filled the tub with water.  Just enough water to cover the paper so they can soak and get soft.

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After letting the paper soak in the water for about a day, we put the gloppy paper into a blender to break down even more.  We also added a little liquid starch to help with keeping the paper sturdy after it dried.

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Then the kids poured the paper glob back into the plastic tub and again filled it with water so it looked like thin muddy water.

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We bought some cheap small window screens from the nearby hardware store and used those as the mold for our paper.  The kids took turns dipping the window screens into the tub and slowly pulling them up to make the recycled paper sheets.

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Finally, after a few tries to get it “just right” the kids laid out their papers in the screens to dry.

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After a few hours (it has been so hot this summer), the paper dried.

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The kids carefully took them out and cut them to regular paper size.

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This was a great project and one that we will keep doing this summer as we repurpose all of their school work.  The kids are not just thinking about decorative paper, but book marks, wall frames and more!  Message us on facebook (www.facebook.com/gritmoms) or on twitter @gritmoms to learn more about doing this project yourself or having us help you!

What a great way to make use of their school projects?  A reminder that there is a use for everything and there is always something we can all do to contribute positively to our home and to our world!

Listening the first time – A lesson in persistence

An ongoing goal in our household is to get the kids to listen the first time. Let me rephrase that.  Listen and DO what is asked the first time.   I thought it was just me being crazy in this expectation but then I get our weekly letter from one of my kid’s teachers.  Part of the letter read, “We are working together, listening the FIRST TIME ASKED (for the most part), following directions and getting so much accomplished.”  So it’s not just me.  Wanting your kids to listen and do what is asked the first time is a legitimate expectation.  An expectation that I have been failing at!  My goodness, why can’t they listen the first time??  Whether it’s putting their socks away, putting their homework in their backpack, or brushing their teeth before bed, I feel like it goes in one ear and out the other.  Then, after they ignore what was asked the first time I sound like a broken record by saying, “What did I JUST say?”

So I really am trying to practice the traits of grit by learning from my mistakes on this issue but I am running on empty. If you have some great tips out there to help me make progress on this goal in my household I will be forever grateful!  In the meantime, here is a great article that reminds us as parents that in order to raise gritty kids we too need to work being grittier.

‘We Need to Be Gritty About Getting Our Kids Grittier’

Eleanor BarkhornSep 25 2013, 1:48 PM ET

Reuters

The word “grit” is ubiquitous in education today. It’s in the subtitle of New York Times contributing writer Paul Tough’s latest book, How Children SucceedIt’s one of the seven character traits (along with “zest,” “gratitude,” and others) that KIPP charter schools try to instill in their students. Tufts and DePaul University look for it when evaluating applicants. Like many buzzwords, “grit” doesn’t have a straightforward definition, but the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s description is a good place to start: “the habit of overcoming challenges, of learning from mistakes instead of being defeated by them.”

Today, the MacArthur Foundation announced that it’s awarding a “genius grant” to one of grit’s biggest champions: Angela Duckworth. An associate professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, Duckworth studies the personality traits that lead to success in the classroom and in life. According to MacArthur’s description of her work:

Duckworth’s work primarily examines two traits that she demonstrates predict success in life: grit—the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals—and self-control—the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses. A major difference between the two qualities is that grit equips individuals to pursue especially challenging aims over years and even decades, while self-control operates at a more micro timescale in the battle against what could be referred to as “hourly temptations.”

In her early work, Duckworth and colleagues devised empirical measures of grit and self-control in both children and adults and established their predictive validity for a number of dimensions of success. They found that these traits predict objectively measured success outcomes, even when controlling for cognitive ability.

Here’s a TED talk Duckworth gave earlier this year describing when she first realized the importance of grit, and what she sees as the next phase of grit studies: figuring out how to increase a person’s grittiness.

http://m.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/09/we-need-to-be-gritty-about-getting-our-kids-grittier/279992/

Grit Trail of Tears

It’s time to confess.  Working to instill grit in our kids is hard.  Really hard.  It’s especially hard when it comes to fostering grit in my pre-pubescent   6th grader.  I don’t know if your middle schoolers are the same but mine seems to have a nano-second’s worth of patience and gets upset at just about everything. 

So when I started Grit Moms, I wanted it to be a place where moms could talk about their experiences in teaching perseverance and that “I’m-not- gonna- give-up attitude” with their kids.  I wanted to share successes and the failures as well as validating that teaching grit takes time.  A LOT of time.  Grit talks a lot about failure and how experiencing it is not the end of something but the opportunity to try again and sometimes again (and sometimes again).  There are many fails I have experienced in my journey to teach grit to my kids and it has involved a lot of tears.  Some I may call epic fails.   Here’s a recent one.

My sixth grader was notorious last year for forgetting a piece of homework at school after we had gotten home.  So I often did a very non-grit act which was drive him back to school to get his missing homework.  Each time I would scream, “This is the last time I am driving you to school to get your work. Enough already. You need to be more responsible!  I’m getting really tired of this!”  Each experience involved yelling during car ride there and back of course which just became a mess.

As a new school year started recently we were doing great!  Homework was getting done; papers were coming home for me to sign.  And then it happened this week.  A test that was graded came home and needed to be signed.   That day, my son very casually said, “I have my test, but I am going to finish my other homework first.”  No problem.  So the afternoon was going fine.  Both kids were quietly doing homework while I was cleaning out their lunch boxes.  About a half hour later, I heard screeching sounds coming from my son’s room and the thrashing of binders and notebooks. 

“What on Earth is happening in here?” I said as I walked into his room.  He turned to me in tears and cried hysterically, “I thought I had my test in here but I looked all over my back pack and I can’t find it! It must still be in desk at school!”  When I say tears, I mean tears with the red face, the hands reaching for the hair on his head and pulling it.  Just madness.   First I thought, Ok, he’s going about this like a typical pre-pubescent kid right?  I mean he was upset the other day about something completely random in a similar way.

But then the continued self-loathing started, “Why did I do this again?  What is wrong with me?”  His words took so long to come out because he was seriously hyperventilating in between each word. At that moment I took a step back and said to myself, “What the heck is wrong here??”  This is what I have instilled in him?  Through my convoluted lens of grit, I have caused him to put this much stress and pressure on himself about what? A piece of paper??  Seriously? 

So once he calmed down and we set all the homework aside, we had a real talk.  A real dialogue about grit. Not about the need to be academically successful and the consequences involved for not doing everything well in school, but about focusing on our strengths, progressing one step at a time through things, about the type of person he wants to develop into, and how to have grit when things get difficult.  His crying episode just showed me that I all taught my child to do when things go wrong is to freak out, get frustrated and get upset before even starting to think about fixing it.  That it is if he is too traumatized to even thing about fixing the situation.  That’s not grit!  Those aren’t life skills that will enable my kids to succeed.  So I promised him I’ll do better and he in turn promised to do better.  

Here’s a great video from Good Morning America for parents reminding us to talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to grit.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/kids-today-focused-winning-costs-24295414