Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dust Pans and the Dean’s List: The Lessons of Housework

By JoEllen Zacks

Sorry kids, but your parents now have a few more reasons for you to clean your room beyond just maintaining a tidy house. Research shows that children who help with family chores starting in the toddler years get better grades, are less likely to try drugs and have more positive ties with family and friends.

According to a study by Marty Rossman, professor emeritus of family education at the University of Minnesota, “the best predictor of success for people in their mid-20s is the extent to which they participated in household tasks at age 3 or 4.”

As part of her research, Dr. Rossman interviewed young adults whose families participated in a sweeping longitudinal study that began in the late 1960s. Professor Rossman analyzed the success of the study participants’ children, looking at indicators such as grades, educational attainment, getting started on a career path, relationships with family and friends and drug use. After factoring in a number of variables, such as parenting styles and IQ, she found that the most successful young adults came from families in which children were given household responsibilities at a young age.

“Through participating in household tasks, parents are teaching children responsibility, how to contribute to family life, a sense of empathy and how to take care of themselves,” Dr. Rossman said.

The words of Ann Landers echo the Montessori philosophy.
This study is just the latest validation of the groundbreaking research conducted by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy and a pioneer in the study of child development and psychology. In 1907, Dr. Montessori founded the Casa dei Bambini in Rome, a school in which scientific research on brain development influenced its subject matter, classroom materials, student-teacher relationship and even the furniture.

In her work, Dr. Montessori learned that young children want to belong, to make a contribution and to control or organize their surroundings. Based upon this research, Dr. Montessori integrated basic household and garden chores into her school’s curriculum to help children structure their environment, build confidence and develop a sense of belonging.

“Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be,” said Dr. Montessori.

More than a century later, an estimated 4,000 schools around the world, including Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS), 308 20th Street in Charleston, have adopted Montessori’s scientific-based approach to education. Founded in 1976, MMS offers a rich core curriculum, approved by the Kanawha County Schools, for students ages 3-12. The school is affiliated with the American Montessori Society and collaborates with the University of Charleston Education Program. Its strong academic program is enhanced by an on-site reading specialist; music, Spanish, art and computer classes; after-school and summer camp programs; and physical education classes conducted at the UC pool and gymnasium facilities.

As with all Montessori schools, practical life skills are the foundation of all learning to come at MMS. Through the learning of "care of self" and "care of the environment," children develop order, coordination, concentration and independence. “These qualities are essential for all academics and equally necessary for people to be contributing members of society,” explained MMS Co-Director Julie Margolis.

Dr. Montessori's observations revealed the child's instinct to work and an innate drive for independence. The "Practical Life" area of the classroom provides an opportunity for both as children are allowed to do the work they have seen at home by adults.

When you walk into an early childhood Montessori classroom, you may see a child cutting fruits or vegetables with a paring knife preparing a snack. Others may be washing windows, or dusting a shelf, watering plants, wiping the snack table, polishing shoes, sweeping the floor, pouring water, handling glass objects or sewing with needle and thread. A child may be forbidden to do these at home, but may practice to perfection at school.

Each task is carefully presented to children, who are allowed to make mistakes. The children learn to be careful in handling the materials as many are fragile or sharp. “In doing this ‘work,’ children develop problem-solving skills in coordinating their efforts to complete a task,” said Margolis.

“There is such a sense of joy, accomplishment and independence as the child controls what she is doing ‘all by myself,’" she explained.

Dr. Montessori maintained that a child, given the proper environment and guidance, will develop powers of "spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, and social sentiments of help and sympathy for others." While the materials are useful and necessary, the work of the child is more profound than mastering a task, she believed. The materials enable the child to carry out an internal mission.

The child, said Dr. Montessori, "toils" to make a man, yet he is "fashioning humanity itself."

“The practical life activities benefit both the individual child as well as society as a whole,” added Margolis.

By giving children responsibilities at an early age, parents and schools can play a big role not only in an individual child’s growth and development, but also in building healthy families, harmonious classrooms and strong communities.

Sounds like a curriculum for success. Now go clean your room.

MMS, a private, non-sectarian school, is now enrolling students for the 2012-13 school year. A new financial aid program is now available to qualified families. For more information, or to make an appointment for a tour, call 312/342-7880, or email: You can also learn more at or by following the school on Facebook and Twitter.

The author, JoEllen Zacks, is a mother, lawyer and writer who spends her days changing the world and changing the litterbox.

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What Do You Do When You Think Something Is Wrong?
By Shelley Ullman

What do you do when you think something is wrong with your child? You start eliminating probable causes and you talk to everyone, even if you doubt they can help. That's what I did. I am the mother of an amazing nine-year-old boy. His name is Anthony and he is truly awesome.

I started noticing Anthony wasn't developing at the same rate as other children his age when he was... (Read more)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Kids' Quips & Pics Time

It's that time again! Kanawha Valley Parent is teaming back up with Heather Smith Photography to give away a free professional photography session and portrait package, a $375 value, to one lucky reader! Here's how to enter: Send your child's funniest, sweetest, most adorable quote, along with a picture, and the child's first name, to Is your tot too tiny to be tossing out one-liners? Send us a snapshot with your best caption. Pictures will be posted in an album on our Facebook page and the entry with the most likes and/or comments will win the photography package, plus a featured space on our "Kids' Quips & Pics" page!

We will be accepting submissions until November 1, 2012 at Noon. All photos and quotes will be published to Facebook in an album at the same time. Voting will begin on November 1 and continue until November 7, 2012 at Noon. The lucky winner will be notified and announced here and on Facebook.

Runners-up will also be included on the KVP "Kids' Quips & Pics" page. Please submit only by e-mail and do not post photos directly onto the Facebook page. Comments and likes on entries posted directly to the page will not be counted. Only entries included in the album will be eligible to win. By submitting your quote and photo, you authorize Kanawha Valley Parent to publish these materials on our Facebook page and web site. You may enter one quote/photo for each child in your family. The free portrait package offer will expire May 7, 2013.

To recap:

1. Go to Heather Smith Photography and/or browse through the slide show at right to see how much you should want to win this prize!

2. E-mail your kid's best hilarious quote, first name, and a picture to by Noon on November 1, 2012.

3. Visit Kanawha Valley Parent on Facebook from November 1-7 to like and comment on your favorite quips & pics.

Good luck!

See the winner and runners-up from our last Kids' Quips & Pics contest here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rose's Recipes: Italian-American

A warm stew hearty enough to feed a hungry family and an introduction to the man who changed my grandmother’s plans.

Oven Beef Stew

2 T. all-purpose flour
1 ½ t. salt
Pepper to taste
1 ½ lbs. beef chuck (cubed)
2 T. shortening (optional substitute: olive oil)
2 – 10 oz. cans tomato soup
1 ½ C. chopped onion
½ t. dried basil
2 ½ C. water
4 medium potatoes, cubed
4 medium carrots, sliced
½ C. dry red wine (or water)

Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge meat cubes in mixture. Brown in hot oil or shortening in Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot. Add soup, water, onion, and basil. Cover and cook in 375 degree oven for one hour. Add potatoes, carrots, and wine. Cover and bake one hour more.


From my Grandmother's memoirs:

Saturday morning, I sat down with Joe’s sister, Rose, for a cup of coffee.
“Ann and Frankie are back,” she said.
“Who are Ann and Frankie,” I asked.
“Ann is Joe’s wife and Frankie is his son. Didn’t you know about Ann and Frankie?” I froze. Joe had never said anything about a wife and son. What kind of man was this?
“Rose, tell me about Joe,” I said.
“What can I say? Where can I start?” she answered.

Frank Marino was born October 9, 1872, in Caccuri, Calabria, Italy, the son of James and Mary Countico Marino. He went to school in Calabria and helped in the olive groves. In 1902, after an argument with his uncle, he left his wife, Annunziata, four-year-old son, Vincenzo, and newborn daughter, Mary, and traveled to America. He planned to make money there and return to Italy for his family.

He did return, in 1907, for a visit, but then headed back to America again, leaving his wife with another baby girl, Carolina. In 1912, Annunziata and the girls joined Frank in America. She left her son in the care of his uncle, who felt it unwise to take the boy out of school and into a foreign land and an unknown future.

Joseph Anthony Marino, 1940's
The family settled in Shinnston, a small coal camp town in northern West Virginia. Joseph Anthony Marino, their second son, was born May 5, 1913. He weighed only three pounds and could fit in a shoe box. His life was in jeopardy because his mother didn't like American food and refused to eat but sparingly during her pregnancy.

He quickly developed, however, into a healthy young boy and was soon joined by a set of twin girls, Katrina and Jeannina, another sister, Rosana, and a brother, Francisco. In the twenties, Frances and Guitano were born, making a family of ten children. They later Americanized their names to Katie, Jennie, Rose, Frank, Frances, and Guy.

Home was a four-room company house. There was one bedroom, a front room, dining room, and kitchen. The parents and youngest slept in the bedroom. The other children shared a bed in front of the fireplace in the living room. Meals were served in the kitchen and the dining room was unused and just for show. The two older girls stood on tubs or boxes to wash clothes, iron, and do dishes. They cared for and changed babies as they arrived. Their mother restricted her duties to making meals, bread, and holiday cookies. She was good at delegating work. Most of her pitas, fancy Christmas and Easter bread, and fritas were saved for visitors and neighbors. They were hidden in the unused dining room. Joe, at an early age, learned how to enter through a window and get his share.

The older girls took Joe and the twins along when they went to pick blackberries for their father’s homemade wine, to collect coal along the tracks for the fireplace and stove, and to the closest grocery store for the bare necessities. Frank protested loudly if a small portion of the berries was set aside for jam or jelly. He liked his wine. The family adjusted to the noisy weekends when he and friends gathered around the kitchen table to drink, play games, and demand service. The drinking began when Frank’s workday ended on Friday and continued through the weekend. He rarely failed, however, to return to work on Monday.
The family lived in a cozy neighborhood with about eight houses on each side of the road. Everyone knew their neighbor. The children played together during the day and returned home early since there were no street lights.

Joe and the twins tagged along behind neighborhood kids on a mile-long route to grade school. In a bag or pocket, they carried a chunk of homemade bread, a small piece of pepperoni, or a pepper and tomato sandwich. As they grew older, they often hid to eat their lunch, away from the eyes of more well-to-do children with sandwiches, cookies, and fruit for their lunches.

Dinners, as a rule, consisted of homemade bread, macaroni, beans, soup and/or greens. Nancy prepared her plate with fresh, green vegetables, oranges sliced and sprinkled with olive oil, and fried bread dough.
Their highlight at Christmas was a small wind-up dancing man on a box their father placed on top of the fireplace. On Christmas morning, they might receive an orange or an apple or, on rare occasions, a small bag of Christmas candy.

Winters were cold. Many days, the children trod to school with red, runny noses, chapped hands and lips, numb fingers and toes, and tears in their eyes from the bitter wind. Their father worked hard, but food and clothes were costly for a large family, leaving little for extras such as gloves, scarves, toboggans, and books. When Joe brought home a list of materials needed for school, Frank let forth a string of expletives. The children learned to save paper, use pencil stubs, and borrow books. Despite these restrictions, Joe was a good student.

When Joe was ten, Caroline married Sam, a man fourteen years her senior. She joined him in Morgantown where he owned and operated a shoe repair shop. They took the youngest daughter, Frances, with them, but soon traded her for five-year-old Rose. Caroline was leaving home and was made to feel it was her responsibility to help out by taking one of the children.

That summer, Joe, carrying a small cardboard suitcase, boarded a train for Morgantown and his sister’s home. While there, he rose early in the morning and went to the shoe shop to open and prepare it for the day. When school started, he would rush off when his brother-in-law arrived. After school, he returned to the shop for his shoe-shining job until after dark.

He became quite adept at shining shoes with rhythm and made enough in tips to pay the shop’s rent. He didn’t dare keep any of it. It was dropped in the rent box. He cried for over an hour one evening after work for ten cents to go see a western movie playing in town. When Caroline finally convinced Sam to give in, Joe ran all the way to town.

Joe didn't like the school in Morgantown. He missed his family and friends. He resented his sister and himself being used for child labor. Right before school was due to start again for the year, he boarded the train with money received from his sister and went home. Sam protested, exclaiming that was the thanks he got for taking in kids to help the family only to have them turn out ingrates. 

Knowing his father would share his brother-in-law's feelings, Joe looked for work so he wouldn't be a burden. He swept out the local theater after movies, cleaned and mopped the town drug store and a barber shop, and even opened up and heated a small one-room school before classes.

His father soon started suggesting he leave school to work in a local bakery. His mother refused and stood her ground. It hadn't bothered her that her daughters had minimal education, but she declared that if the sons of local businessmen and miners could have their educations, her son would have his. Besides, she argued, with a high school diploma, he could get a better job and earn more money.

Joe grew into a dark, thick-haired, Italian football star. He saved newspaper clippings describing him as "the fast Reno," in reports of the school's football games. He was junior class president, editor of the school newspaper, and maintained a good grade point average. 

Before graduation, he was invited to West Virginia University to try out for the football team. There were no full time scholarships for college players. Students were given the privilege of playing. When summer football training began, he made the trip to Morgantown. He left the house with his father asking, "Aren't you ever going to stop playing and do something to help out?"

Joe ran onto the football field to join the other beginners. There were several taller, bigger, and tougher looking contestants, but he knew he had speed and felt he could compete. He fared well through the routines and returned to the dressing room. His dreams vanished as he was told the tuition and book costs to attend the university. He had planned to live with his sister and work to pay room and board, but he knew he would fall short of the money to meet expenses. He packed up his few belongings and returned home. School days were over and it was time to go to work.

For more of the story and great family recipes:

Rose's Recipes Archive

Turning It Upside Down
Beautiful Basics

Birds in a Nest
Cabbage Rolls and the Role of a Woman
The Sauce

Do you have a great family recipe and/or story?  Submit it to us at

Rose's Recipes: Turning It Upside Down

Turning it Upside Down

My grandmother’s recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and a love story with a few turns of its own.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/3 C. butter
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 – 1 lb. 4 oz. can sliced pineapples, drained (save juice)
1 1/3 C. flour
1 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. shortening
2/3 C. pineapple juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 egg
Pecan halves
Maraschino cherries

Melt butter in a heavy 10” skillet or 9” square pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter. Arrange pineapple slices on the mixture. Decorate with pecans and cherries. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add shortening, milk, and flavoring. Beat at medium speed. Add egg and beat two minutes longer. Pour over fruit in pan. Bake 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Immediately turn over on serving plate.

Best-Laid Plans

Excerpted and adapted from the memoirs of Rose Rucci Marino.

That morning, I walked to school with Mary. We stopped at Marino Brothers, a small, combination beer joint and grocery, to tell Caroline’s brother, Joe, to send some bread and milk by their younger brother, Guy, who helped in the store.

The place was a small, deep establishment with booths along one side. On the other side was the bar and a counter with canned and baked goods and household items in a limited quantity. “Day In, Day Out” was playing on the juke box at the back of the store. It was the favorite of Mrs. Walls from across the street, who came in every morning for a Stanback and a Coke and to hear her song.

At one booth sat the delivery man from the bakery, whose truck was parked out front, two miners who worked the night shift, and Guy. They were playing Tonk, a card game similar to five-card Rummy. It was played for a dime a game. Joe Marino, the owner, stood behind the cash register with a day-old beard and a lumberjack jacket with a leather back and plaid sleeves.

Mary made the introductions. He said his sister had called to tell him she had two new college girls as renters. I heard later he had asked what they looked like and Caroline had told him the short one wouldn’t appeal to him, but the tall, thin one looked like his type.

After we gave him the order and left the store, he called Caroline.

“The next time you need something, have the girls stop on their way home to pick it up. That way Guy won’t disappear for hours with the excuse that you put him to work repairing something,” Joe told his sister.

Sensing an ulterior motive, Caroline told him, “Watch yourself, Brother. Remember you’re a married man.”

“Some marriage,” he said. “She’s gone home to Mama again.”

“What for this time?” she asked.

“Hell, I don’t know,” said Joe. “I guess I said something about eating pork and beans every night for dinner.”

Mary and I did stop the next day to get some pork chops. Joe had never heard of Welch. He asked Mary if they were still going to get a group together to go to the Rendezvous during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I’ve got to go home,” she answered. “Mother would have a fit at my having four days off and not giving her a hand with all those kids and the Thanksgiving dinner.”

“What about you?” he asked, turning to me. “You going home?”

I told him it was too far away. It took twelve hours by bus. Four days wasn’t enough time and it would cost too much for that short a trip.

“Good,” Joe said. “You wouldn’t mind going out with a group to the Rendezvous, would you?”

I had been in town long enough to know about the Rendezvous. It was a popular student night spot. The thought that I was now at liberty to go out if I chose made me respond that I would be glad to if a gang went. I quickly wondered if I had erred. Caroline had set down some rules to be followed while we lived in her house. But this was her brother. Would that make a difference?

I knew our roommate, Ida, and Joe’s brother, Frank, were taken with each other. He was a University graduate but had failed to find a teaching position in Monongalia County because of his nationality. It was a known fact that foreigners were not encouraged in the school system there. Ida and Frank were both short and made a cute couple. He was also good at advising her in study methods and how to better understand her professors.

Caroline announced around this time that she had received a letter from her husband, asking her and the children to join him in Detroit for the holidays. I told Joe on my next stop by the store that with Caroline gone it wouldn’t be fair to go out and worry his younger sister, who would be left in charge of us.

Caroline left for Detroit and Mary for home. I settled down for a quiet evening. Around seven o’clock, Joe arrived.

“If you girls get ready, I’ll run you to the library,” he said.

I told him we had changed our minds and were going to stay home and relax.

“Nonsense,” he said. “I came out here to take you, so go get ready.”

Not knowing what to answer, we changed into skirts and sweaters.

“I’ll have them back soon, sis,” he yelled as we left.

He parked at a drug store around the corner from his store to make a phone call. Seconds later, Frank came around the corner and got into the car. The car pulled out and headed across the bridge in the opposite direction of the Rendezvous. I was relieved since we were dressed for the library in a skirt and sweater. When I went to the Rendezvous, I wanted to be dressed for it.

We stopped at a small club with a Spanish name. It had booths and a juke box. We sat at a front booth and ordered Cokes and chips. When the Beer Barrel Polka blared out of the machine, Frank and Ida rose to polka. The song gave me an opportunity to break the silence, so I told Joe my high school had chosen to have a beer barrel as the winning trophy for the annual Thanksgiving game between Welch and Gary. I commented that I sure would’ve liked to have been there to see who won it.

“You know what I would like?” he asked. “A kiss.”

And he pressed his lips briefly against mine.

He repeatedly asked why I came so far away from home to go to school. His tone implied he felt I must have a bad reputation in my home town or had done something wrong. Telling him about the School of Journalism didn’t seem to make much of an impression.

From our conversations, I knew he was twenty-six years old, had been born in a town nearby, graduated from high school there and left a job in the mines to go into business for himself. He was not a boy, but a man.

On Thanksgiving Day, he stopped by the house for lunch.

“Anyone going to town?” he yelled from the bottom of the steps.

“Rose is,” answered Ida.

“Well, come on. I’ll run you down as I go back to the store.”

The car was parked facing out of town and we headed in that direction.

“So you’re going to be a career woman?” he said.

“That’s right,” I answered. “I am going to work in New York on a big newspaper and own my own little black convertible.”

“So that’s why you came 300 miles to go to school. What do your parents think about you being so far away or don’t they care? Maybe you’re too much for them to handle with your big ideas.”

The more he talked, the more upset I became. What was I doing here? What was it that drew me to him? He drove off the main highway onto a small country road and soon came to a stop under a large shade tree.

“Come here,” he ordered and when I failed to move reached over and drew me to him. “I make you mad, don’t I?” he said as he pulled my face close for a long kiss. I was swept away with his kisses and realized he wasn’t trying anything else.

Later, as we drove toward town, he looked over at me and, in a half-whisper, said, “I am going to make a lot of changes in those plans.” 

Rose and Joe Marino, in the 1940's

Rose's Recipes Archive

Beautiful Basics

Birds in a Nest
Cabbage Rolls and the Role of a Woman
The Sauce

Do you have a great family recipe and/or story?  Submit it to us at

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cabela's Pumpkin Painting and Trick-or-Treat!

Kanawha Valley Parent is excited to announce our participation in Cabela's upcoming Pumpkin Painting and Trick or Treat event! On Friday, October 26, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., join us at Cabela's of Charleston for pumpkin painting fun and trick or treat in the many Cabela's departments. Kanawha Valley Parent will be there to meet some of our readers and help you paint your pumpkin masterpieces. This event is free and all materials will be provided. Costumes are welcome but not required. Please register by contacting Chris Walls at or (304) 400-6002. We hope to see you there!

What will you create?