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A few words of advice: Local author pens book for parents of schoolchildren

SUBMITTED PHOTO Longtime Bemidji educator John Eggers has written a new book, "Remember, Don't Pick Your Nose ... And 364 other things to say to your kids before they leave for school."1 / 2
SUBMITTED PHOTO John Eggers' new book "Remember, Don't Pick Your Nose. . . And 364 other things to say to your kids before they leave for school."2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- Now that another school year has returned, parents may think they've fulfilled their responsibilities by buying those new "tennies" or must-have school supplies, but John Eggers of Bemidji has one more check-off item for them.

Eggers, a former longtime educator, has written a new book, "Remember, Don't Pick Your Nose ... And 364 other things to say to your kids before they leave for school." A second subtitle is "A perpetual calendar of notes to remind kids who loves them most."

Eggers' latest book is reminiscent of Robert Fulghum's poem "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," especially the line "When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together."

This year marks the 25th anniversary reprinting of Fulghum's book and also a revision of sorts of Eggers' original humorous book he wrote for his own children years ago.

"I put out a book similar to this awhile ago and this is kind of a revision of that book," said Eggers. "I wrote it for my own kids, daughter, Caroline and son, John, when they were in school to remind them about who loves them the most. And, also, my wife (Kathy) and I started leaving notes for each other ever since we were married and I would put a note under her pillow when I left town or something and she would put one in my bookcase. We've been doing it for 45 years now."

His book out for adults, "The Honey Jar," practically guarantees a long and happy relationship.

Eggers, now retired, has been an educator for the past 49 years, and he spends his time writing local columns of advice for parents and children and he travels the country hosting workshops and giving keynote talks to teachers and administrators.

And he has very definite ideas about why our children are not doing as well in graduation rates as they did when he was a practicing educator.

"You know, when I was growing up, we had a lot of surrogate parents," Eggers said. "I grew up in a small town, but I think it was true in bigger cities, too, where your neighbors served as surrogate parents, you had your relatives close by and kids really had an idea of who cared about them. I think today is a different world, and we don't have the surrogate parents; kids are more insecure, there's a big concern about safety, so anything that parents can do to remind the kid who loves them the most is really important."

Eggers said while many parents may tell their children to "have a nice day," children need more encouragement to succeed in today's fast-paced world. In "Don't Pick Your Nose ...," he gives parents 364 nice things to say when the children leave for school in the morning. For example, the entry for March 4 is "I know you can do it, I believe in you." Another advises the student, "If you get in trouble with someone, talk to your teacher or principal as soon as you can."

The book is actually a calendar of things to say, but if you're a bit shy and or a trickster, how about placing a note in their lunch or in the backpack. Eggers is not so much concerned about how you send the messages as he is about parents supporting their children in the first place.

Support always important

This author, just for fun, decided to quiz an incoming eighth-grader in a town some three hours west and 10,000 people fewer about the importance of parental support.

"Oh yes, nana, I can see the difference between me and my girlfriend Robin, whose father works (the night) shift," said Melanie Borysewicz of Larimore, N.D. "I didn't have a very good math teacher last year, so my mother found me a website to use, which explained the math concepts much better, and Robin does not get that kind of support."

Melanie went on to explain how parental support is important in how she processes her experiences. For example, if she does poorly on one test, her father will tell her that, in the long run, it won't matter because she is a strong student and will do better next time. She finds that kind of support immeasurable.

And although Eggers claims his books are written for children and parents of undergraduate students, the same query about parental support for college students asked of a reference librarian garnered a similar answer.

"There are still some parents and relatives out there who are looking out for the students by using today's technology," said University of North Dakota reference librarian and bibliographer Kristen Borysewicz. "I've been teaching researching skills for the past 15 years and still find the solid percentage of students who rely on themselves and use the easy 'just Google it' method. And then you have the students who want to learn what I can teach them, the more extensive researching methods. I so enjoy working with those students."

Borysewicz went on to cite the same math website as Melanie as a good example of surrogate parenting. Apparently, an uncle of a youngster in grade school was determined to help the student by simplifying basic math concepts and then actually put the lessons online for free for anyone to use.

Eggers has written thousands of essays and columns over the years as he continues to advocated for at-risk students throughout the region. His books are printed through wowteaching.publications, teachers may want to check out "A Teacher's Weekly Calendar of Riddles and Brain Busters" or "Fire Up Your Students With Brain Calisthenics."