Author Archives: Mike Lanza

The Minimum Wage is Bad for Teens

How does a teen learn how to work these days? By “learn to work,” I’m talking about being productive continually over many hours, deciding what to do when instructions don’t totally apply to a situation, stepping in to do some needed thing that’s not in the original job description, being courteous and responsive to customers, etc. 31 percent of all minimum wage workers are teenagers, ages 16-19, and yet the percentage of this group that is working is at a … Continue reading

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Waiting for Marco to “Figure it Out”

My oldest son Marco (9), has never been one of the more responsible kids for his age. He hardly ever cleans up after himself, so his room is a total mess, and his things are strewn randomly around our house. He hardly ever helps his younger brothers without prodding. He very frequently loses things. He hardly ever says “please” or “thank you.” Other adults who have observed Marco’s behavior have blamed my wife and me for poor parenting, either explicitly, … Continue reading

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Boys and Preschool

My 4-year-old, Leo, gets practically nothing out of preschool. His two older brothers, now in 3rd grade and kindergarten, got very little out of it as well. It’s not that they hate it or really miss Mommy or Daddy. I’m certainly willing to believe that many – perhaps millions – of boys have great preschool experiences, but there are also many, many boys like mine. My boys just haven’t “clicked” with their preschools. Sometimes, they engage in activities, but not … Continue reading

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When a Kid Negotiates Play Dates With Moms

My son Marco, at age nine, plans his own play dates. He knows when he has free time. He can ride his bike to other kids’ houses on his own. Unfortunately, very few of his friends can do these things. This fact has resulted in a rather sparse social life this school year for Marco. You see, there are kids who want to play with him, but they’re powerless. Their moms and nannies hold the power, and they’re not too … Continue reading

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Storm Clouds Ahead

You know that feeling when the weather where you are is perfectly fine, but you’re approaching a wall of black clouds? That’s what I feel like when I see my boys (9, 5-1/2, and 4) approaching their teenage years. Life is going to suck, and I don’t think I can do much about it. A recent article entitled “My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me makes this clear. In it, writer Karl Taro Greenfield decides to do his 13-year-old daughter Esmee’s … Continue reading

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Imprisonment of Kids, at School and at Home

Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, thinks that schools are very much like prisons for children. I must admit that Gray’s contention has some merit. Let’s face it – kids are forced to stay at school, whether they like it or not. Furthermore, they are told what they must do at every moment, and are punished for not complying. And, they don’t have any say over any of these rules. My wife and I just sent our middle son, … Continue reading

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Suburb Hating is Anti-Child

Sure, suburbs have big problems. Their designs force their inhabitants to drive in cars, instead of walking and bicycling. This diminishes face-to-face interactions, physical health, and the quality of the environment. Aesthetically, many of them, particularly those dreaded “planned communities,” are quite boring. People who live there tend not to have much contact with people who aren’t like them, so suburbs reinforce racial, religious, and class segregation. A large proportion of intellectuals and politicians, including President Obama, decry these problems … Continue reading

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Making Summer Vacation Worthwhile

Our neighbor Tommy (5) didn’t come to our house to play with my boys yesterday afternoon because he was doing homework for his summer camp. Oh, brother… If you think childhood is all about school, then of course, you think summer vacation is a waste. Why spend three months goofing off? You might as well attend a “summer camp” that simulates school. On the other hand, I’m a big believer in summer vacation. I happen to believe that it can, … Continue reading

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Signmaking at Camp Yale

At the fifth annual Camp Yale neighborhood summer camp, each kid created a nice memento – a wooden sign with their name carved into it and painted. The kids were thrilled. They put a lot of creativity into them, and they’re proud of the way they look.

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Huntopoly 3.0: A Technology-Aided Treasure Hunt

Some advocates of children’s outdoor play would have you believe that technology is the enemy. Kids who attended my fifth annual Camp Yale two weeks ago would vehemently disagree. They played Huntopoly 3.0 (here are articles on Huntopoly 2.0 and 1.0), which featured treasure boxes with some nifty electronics. Each team of kids got a “Quest Box,” that has a small LCD screen and button on the outside, and treasures and hunt instructions on the inside. Also on the inside, … Continue reading

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