Why changing large urban high schools into smaller communities works

Martin, a burly, 61-year-old, Long Island native, was taught soccer by a Brazilian Holocaust survivor. He is particularly well positioned to help needy youngsters attain their goals, as his own life once looked despairingly bleak. Twenty years ago, while living in New Mexico, Martin faced significant personal trials and setbacks. He describes his life as “chaotic and unmanageable,” but after returning to New York he worked as a cab driver and got his life on track.

He got a job teaching emotionally disturbed adolescents in East Harlem and became completely focused on making a positive impact. “Knowing you have a path and a direction and a goal makes you succeed. If we can instill that into children we can go somewhere. I put my energies into making their lives better.”

Martin uses his own life’s story of overcoming obstacles as an inspiration to others. He insists on firm discipline in the classroom and on the soccer field. He says he is continually inspired by the children he teaches. A documentary has been made about his life and he is in discussions about publishing a book.

“We all make mistakes,” he says. “Since I’m the king of mistakes, you have to realize that kids always make mistakes. So I help them correct their errors and go forward with their lives. No one is perfect on this planet. If I hadn’t had a tumultuous past I wouldn’t be what I am and understand what I understand. There is no substitute for age and wisdom. These kids need to know that if you follow the right path your life will get better. I try to instill that into my students and athletes.”

Martin, who has led his soccer team to victory at numerous city championships, says he tries to impart inner strength to his young charges. “How do you win a championship? There are 110 teams in this city. You have to get into their hearts and souls and bring out that belief in themselves. Playing soccer is about getting a better life.”

“Cry it Out,” is it harmful?

It’s effortless to locate tons of information regarding the dangers of, “cry it out”. Thoughts are that letting your child cry at night can cause a poor attachment, reduced responsiveness from the parent, effect emotional well being of the child & even diminish brain development. It’s frightening to see all the experts claiming that you are hurting your baby if you let them CIO.

But, how are they coming to their conclusions?

I found a few articles online that express the dangers of CIO. Here is one by Dr. Sears as well as one printed in Psychology Today. One might think these are reputable resources, especially with the long list of references at the end of the article. I took a closer look and found that the research they stand on include studies of babies with colic & excessive crying, child maltreatment, depression, disorders of attachment, violence as well as studies completed on rats and primates.

So, what do these topics have to do with the CIO method? Very little. In my opinion, and that of a recent study in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, proponents of immediate-responding are making a “conceptual leap” between these studies and their opinion on the dangers of CIO on children.

I did a search and found very little research that studies the effects of CIO on children. The few studies that are available, DO NOT show any damage to the child’s mental or physical well being. And as far as the research backing up immediate responding to a child – there is only non-peer-reviewed studies (not the highest standard) and expert opinion (Crncec, p.48).

A quick google search on the topic will lead to tons of information from mothers and experts about how the CIO method is unnatural and unkind. I will not argue with the fact that letting your child CIO can be difficult but we feel it is necessary to facilitate a good night’s sleep. In our family, we use what is called modified extinction. This includes comforting the baby periodically during the crying. This does not involve hours of endless crying alone in a crib and it is rare that we even have to let her cry (It’s been weeks).

The opinion that letting your child CIO is emotionally damaging is deceiving. There is no scientific evidence that shows this is true and I have yet to meet an adult that remembers if they cried in their crib at night. I also can’t determine what adults had to CIO at night, and which were responded to quickly. Why? Because CIO or not, there are TONS of true factors in the emotional development of your child.

Example; patience. For our family, the CIO method helped us obtain a good nights sleep early which gave us the rest we needed to be patient with Ellie even on her roughest day. Something we would not be able to do on low sleep.

So don’t let all the “experts” make you feel guilty. A healthy relationship with your child happens all day and is not destroyed in one hour at night. I won’t even accept that I am, “doing the best I can” for our baby. We made a decision that is best for our family, no apologies.