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Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:01 am

Good news for better parenting

Former local educator Harriet Arkley’s new book tells of work at Withrow and Ball Charter schools

The Good News Chair: A simple tool for shaping a child’s positive behavior and self-image, by Harriet Arkley, published April 29, 2014. Available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Village Books.

The author of The Good News Chair, and her granddaughter.


Many people in central Illinois will remember Harriet Arkley. She helped start Springfield School District 186’s Early Start and Parents as Teachers programs. She then was the principal at Withrow, when it was an early childhood center. She was the first principal of Ball Charter School before retiring. She begins this book by telling how her work at Withrow and Ball Charter helped her create and use the Good News Chair, an actual painted chair that students sat in to announce their accomplishments and promote good behavior or deter bad behavior.

Pictures in the book of students sitting in the Good News Chair will look familiar. Dr. Arkley provides actual student quotes and drawings in Chapter 3, “Views from the Chair.” There are examples of “good news” such as good behavior, discoveries, academic accomplishments and confessions. One humorous example: “My sister, Rachel came to school. Unfortunately, the class guinea pig peed on her,” from Matthew, age 6.

Chapter 4 provides suggestions for making a Good News Chair, along with tips for teachers, parents and grandparents. Writing down the good news and providing illustrations was obviously a part of the process. I plan to make a Good News Chair for my grandsons and will record their comments in a “Good News Journal.”

Anyone who knows Harriet would agree that she radiates positive energy. She says, “I saw how important it was to keep my eye on what is right for each child and to positively influence their good behavior and self-image.” The Good News Chair provides teachers, parents and grandparents a way to promote and celebrate children’s accomplishments. Children are able to safely share their thoughts and feelings.

Arkley is visiting central Illinois, June 22-28. She was at Rochester Library on Tuesday, June 24, 10:30 a.m.; Chatham Library on Wednesday, June 25, 4 p.m.; and will be at a Local Authors event at Barnes and Noble on Friday, June 27, 7 p.m.

For more information about the book, check the web at www.goodnewschair.com.

Carolyn Harmon is a parent and grandparent, Parents as Teachers Parent Educator with Springfield School District 186 at the Early Learning Center and an adjunct instructor at Lincoln Land Community College. She holds a doctor of education degree.


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Thursday June 27th