I’m excited to share this blog with you.  Dr. Audrey Prus is an expert in child development, particularly for middle school aged children (please see her bio at the end of the blog).  She also happens to be my mom.  She created an important tool for character development and self-reflection for my middle school aged kids and I thought it needed to be shared.  Especially, since most kids and parents will be stuck at home this summer and have downtime to focus on themselves.  My son, Jake (age 13), described it as “a way to honestly reflect on yourself and see what changes you can make in order to take that extra step in life and really succeed and go beyond your own expectations”.  My hope is that it gives you a fun activity to do with your own kids, nieces/nephews, cousins, or any children that are important to you.  I even used it for myself, because as an adult, I’m still working on some of these.  Enjoy!


(Check how you are doing on these areas of development)



How are you doing in TALKING things out when you are upset, rather than pouting,

calling someone names, yelling, saying “Nothing is the matter.” etc.?   TALKING is an art; talking        about interesting things and topics is a real art.  Don’t always talk just about yourself.  Ask other people questions about themselves, how they are feeling during the quarantine, what their interests are, etc.   Learn this “C” early.  It will serve you well throughout life.

How are you doing in being a really good LISTENER?   Do you actually LISTEN to another person when they are talking and try to understand what they are talking about?  Do you interrupt the speaker?  Do you actively listen or do you get distracted or space out?  How do you politely let the speaker know that you need to move on to another topic or you want to ask questions?  Again, being a really good LISTENER is a skill that will serve you well in all you do and it’s a quality that does make you popular with other people.


           WRITING.  Being able to communicate your ideas through writing is another SUPER SKILL that will be important to you in school and in life.  Use this COVID-19 quarantine time to practice writing your thoughts through a journal, letter to someone, poems, short stories, etc.  Don’t worry if you think what you wrote is silly.  It’s fun and great practice!



How are you doing in learning to work well with another person or a group on a task around the house or a project in school or in the neighborhood with friends?  COLLABORATION basically means learning to work together on a task, even if you have to look for a variety of options and have to compromise on ideas.  It is not all about you.  This means working with someone else and getting along cooperatively to get a task completed.  This also means encouraging others for their ideas on a project, so everyone will feel involved.  Additionally, this means everyone completing their portion of the project, not just dumping it on others involved in the task.  This, too, is a skill to be learned and used all through life.



How are you doing on LEARNING right now?  “Learning to learn” is truly a lifelong skill!  I try to learn something new each day!  You can never be a “Know-It-All.”  There is always something out there, just a question or statement away.  Do you like subjects in school?  What are your favorites and not-so-favorites?  Pay attention to that.  Sometimes, “favorites” are a key to what you might grow up to do as a career or have as a passionate interest.  Always keep your mind open to new things and approach those “not-so-favorite” topics or subjects with a willingness to try to learn more in those areas.



Whoa!!!  CRITICAL THINKING is everything!!!!  This is almost too massive to talk about here!  Every time you think about something, no matter what it is….you use your brain.  You hear, see, touch, smell, taste something, feel,  empathize with someone, etc.  and your brain goes to work to process that information.  If the information is new, your brain processes it and stores it as short-term “junk”… stuff that is not too important to remember OR… your brain, in processing, tacks it on to something you have already learned and have stored away in the “Important” file in your brain. Over-time, this becomes long-term memory.  As you grow, you develop a jillion more “brain-files,” all stacked away until you need that information.  Your brain is so much better than a computer and stores and processes information in nanoseconds!  (That is why you should never do drugs or drink a bunch of alcohol!!!  You destroy brain cells.  If you didn’t have a lot of these cells to begin with…you’re really in trouble!  LOL!!)

CRITICAL THINKING also has a lot to do with how you analyze information that is coming into your brain.  People with good critical thinking skills take some time to consider information coming into the brain, consider all the stored information, look at all options/choices, and make a wise, informed decision.  This is so true with doing well with school subjects, figuring out if someone is telling you a fib or a fact, deciding whether to go out with friends somewhere or not, deciding what is right or wrong, and a bunch of other brain-based skills you need in selecting choices and making decisions.  Wow!  Some people are very IMPULSIVE and just jump quickly at decisions, without analyzing that choice, statement, assumption, etc.  This can get them into trouble quickly.  Look at people that rush through a test in school, just to get done!  That is great if they are super smart and know all the right answers, but most of us need to really think about our answers first.  On the other side of the coin, there are some people that take TOO LONG in taking tests and get really anxious and bogged down in coming up with too many choices of an answer and worry about picking the right one. That’s bad, too.  Life is full of choices, and always consider RISK vs REWARD in making your decisions. (I’ll talk more about that one day.)



Awww…one of my favorite topics!  CREATIVE INNOVATION means just what it says!  How are you doing these days in being creative or innovative.  Do you have some interesting project you are working on?  How about taking the time to write a fun or scary short story, even if you feel it’s stupid!  That is so much more fun than sitting around, saying you are bored.  NEVER be bored in life!  There’s waaaay to much to do on your short time on this planet!  How about practicing your music, whether it’s playing the piano or some other musical instrument, or writing a new song to sing…how about listening to music or dancing to a music video! What about creating a new kind of video, board, or card game? Grandma LOVES creating things or being innovative with a project, just figuring out how to fix something.  Oh….I hope that you are doing well with this “C.”   Develop this skill area throughout your life.   Be passionate about a bunch of creative, crafty things to try in life and enjoy the dickens out of them.  These talents bring you happiness!  God gave us all talents…find out which ones you possess and use them.



The last of the “C’s” is CONFIDENCE.  How are you doing on “stick-to-it..ness” in getting a job done?  Finishing a school assignment without complaining about it all the time?  Wow…this is called industry and feeling confident in YOURSELF!  Sure, a lot of people may give you pats on the head and tell you that you did a good job on something, BUT do YOU really believe that?  You know that you did a good job or you didn’t do a good job.  Always do the very best that you can do with any task and take pride in your work when you have given it your all.  Don’t be one of those shabby, bare minimalists….those people that do just enough to get by and it’s rather shoddy work.  Be a good, do-the-job-right kind of person and people will notice!

CONFIDENCE comes from within.  Yeah…you’re going to compare yourself, your work, your abilities, your looks, your body, your clothes, your belongings, and a jillion other things to other people around you OR what you see in a magazine or on TV, etc.  Sometimes that inspires you, but always keep in mind that YOU shape YOU!  Just like stars in the sky, we are all different and are on this planet to shine in our own way.  DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS and don’t let others make you feel lacking or that you are not enough.  Some people may say things about you to make you feel bad or rejected!  Foooey on them!  YOU define yourself!!  If you do need to improve in some area, acknowledge that and do something about it.  Be confident to put yourself out there, take risks to try out for activities at school, know that it is OK to raise your hand in class or ask questions aloud, etc.  The more you do and believe in yourself, the more confident you become in doing a task.   NOW, this does not mean that confidence is related to being a BULLY or a KNOW-IT-ALL or a BRAGGARD about stuff!  Actually, a confident, well-developed person doesn’t ever have to “toot their own horn”….. other people will do it for them.  Other people will take note of their talents and compliment them.  So…are you overly-confident in a particular skill or are you under-confident?  Or, are you on a good track to be confident in what you have accomplished and want to improve your level of confidence on some things you avoid or shy away from?  Remember, you are given only one life.  Make it a fun one and make it shine!!




Rate yourself on the “C’s.”   Using a scale of  1 (terrible) to  5 (great) …. Place that number in the space provided after each area listed.  Be honest.  What needs improvement, if anything?


A) COMMUNICATION: (rate)  ______________


B) COLLABORATION: (rate) ______________


C) CONTENT: (rate) ______________


D) CRITICAL THINKING: (rate) ______________


E) CREATIVE INNOVATION: (rate) ______________


F) CONFIDENCE:  (rate) ______________

Dr. Audrey Prus, Ed.D.

Dr. Audrey Prus spent 46 years as a professional educator.  Her professional experience included working in  the Department of Pediatrics in a medical center; directing a university-based  preschool therapy program for developmentally delayed/disabled children; teaching elementary – high school general education classes; teaching middle school special needs students; serving as an Elementary Principal and, later, as a Director of Special Services in a school district.  She has also taught undergraduate-graduate courses of Advanced Human Development – The Lifespan, Exceptional Child, etc. at the university level.  Over the years, Dr. Prus has received several local, state, and national awards and has authored two publications.   Her love of teaching continues to this day, especially with her grandchildren!