WEDNESDAY JANUARY 30TH, 2013by Andrew Campanellahttp://www.educationnews.org/parenting/how-parents-can-choose-the-right-school-for-their-children/Millions of Americans this week are celebrating education reform across the country as part of National School Choice Week 2013, which shines a spotlight on the need for effective educational options for families.
With 3,500 independently planned events taking place during The Week, many families are celebrating the great school choices that they’ve made for their children. Other families are using The Week as an opportunity to demand greater access to better schools in places where educational options are limited. Still other families take advantage of the great school showcases during The Week to shop for new schools for their children.
This last benefit of National School Choice Week is especially critical for families in my home state of Florida, which offers a robust menu of options.
If you’re one of the millions of parents looking to make a change in their child’s education, here are five tips to consider in your search for your child’s next school:
1) Start looking right now. It might seem like a good idea to wait to decide what school your child should attend in the 2013-14 school year. In reality, seats in great schools start filling up right now. If you’re unhappy with the school your child attends – regardless of what type of school it is – you need to start looking at your options immediately. Use National School Choice Week as your starting point (www.schoolchoiceweek.com)
2) Research your options and make a list. No one is going to spoon feed you options – you need to exhaustively research the ones that you have. But here’s the good news: you do have these options, even if they seem limited. You also have your own unique criteria of what you’re looking for in a school – academics, safety, class sizes, values, teacher qualifications. Start reconciling your options with your needs by making a list of target schools. Identify your state’s open enrollment policy, which allows students to attend public schools outside of geographic boundaries. Then, identify nearby public charter schools, magnet schools (schools that focus on specific subject areas), and private schools. Don’t leave private schools off your list, even if you think you wont be able to afford tuition, you still might be eligible for a scholarship through a state scholarship program. And don’t forget online learning options and homeschooling – many families find that these options are incredibly beneficial.
3) Get the facts on student achievement. After you make a list of potential schools, go to websites like GreatSchools.com, or to your state department of education’s website, to find out how your child’s target schools are performing. GreatSchools provides specific information on how schools fare on aggregate test scores in key areas like math and reading. No school is perfect, and some schools may be more effective than their test scores indicate. Above all else, look for a school with high academic performance.
4) Visit schools and ask questions. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, or a house without going inside, so make sure you visit each of the schools that are on your target list. While you’re there, ask questions – Is the culture of the school one of high expectations? Do the adults in the building seem to enjoy being there? Are students in the classrooms engaged and well-behaved? Are they excited? Do you sense the expectation that every student in that school will be prepared for college or a career? Choose the school that answers these questions the way you want them to be answered.
5) Talk to other parents. Ask parents of other students who attend your target schools about their children’s experiences there. You’ll want to ask specifically how the school handles parent involvement – the more of it the better. If parents are treated like a nuisance, consider staying away. Parental involvement is key to student success.
The more research you do, the better choices you can make and the more likely it is that you’ll be able to provide your child with a great educational environment. Don’t worry too much about what the school looks like on the outside – some of the most gleaming, state of the art schools have been known to post dismally low performance numbers. Worry instead about what’s on the inside of the school. You know your child best, and you are truly in the best position – better than anyone else – to decide what type of school your child should attend.
Andrew Campanella is the president of National School Choice Week, a grassroots coalition of parents, students, educators and community leaders that aims to shine a spotlight on the great school choice options benefiting our children.
by Sara Bean, M.Ed.Over the years, I’ve talked with countless parents who “fixed” things for their children—cleaning their rooms, picking up left-behind messes around the house, apologizing for their kids, easing their disappointments, or even typing their teen’s school papers because they could “type faster.” I recall talking to a mother who would stop what she was doing (which sometimes meant getting out of bed at night) to prepare elaborate snacks for her adolescent son when he was hungry, even though he was more than capable of making his own food.
In order for children to learn how to do hard things, you have to let them go through hard times. There is no way to truly master something without experiencing it.
Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/do-you-fix-things-for-your-kids.php#ixzz2E07ouXWT
Thursday, September 20th, 2012 by Julia Lawrencehttp://www.educationnews.org/parenting/when-it-comes-to-ed-jargon-parents-need-to-stay-informed/For many parents, trying to keep up with advances in education via newspapers and other media sometimes feel like it’s written in a whole other language. Terms like “gamification,” “flipped classrooms,” and “MOOCs” abound, and those who don’t keep their ear to the ground permanently have a difficult time keeping up.
According to Lindsay Fiori, writing for the Wisconsin’s Journal Times, the use of insider jargon in education has jumped in the past several years, which means those who wish to remain on top of things — like parents — have a steeper mountain to climb. It’s difficult to determine exactly what is behind the growth. Some are claiming that the increasingly scientific academic research is calling for suitably descriptive language while others just think that the goal is simply to obfuscate. All agree, however, that the advanced language is no reason for teachers to allow parents to remain in the dark.
John Merrow, who has been writing about education for many years, calls the impenetrable jargon a “smokescreen” frequently used by teachers and administrators to either disguise their own lack of knowledge or defend failing practices. If that is the case, then keeping outsides informed is even more important.
Some districts, like Racine Unified School District, tackle the issue head-on. Parents who visit the district’s website can find thorough glossaries covering most of the buzzwords parents most commonly hear and teachers most commonly use. Richard Halverson, who is an educational leadership and policy analyst for University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, believes that schools should be doing even more. For example, why not invite parents to a hosted information night?
At Case, Eben’s teachers make an effort to explain jargon and acronyms to parents, he said.
“You really have to sit with parents and every conversation is different depending on the parent’s knowledge,” Eben said. He instructs staff to “let the parents tell you what they know or don’t know … I have found most will ask.
You don’t have too much false pride. You just gotta make it friendly.”
The responsibility shouldn’t rest entirely on the teachers. Parents need to engage more fully with their children’s education and make a commitment to staying informed. Halverson said that occasionally educators get entirely too caught up in their own acronyms, and the best cure for that are inquisitive parents who aren’t easy to fool.
Then they’ll know what their child’s computerized “MAP” test results mean and how the resources of a collaborative group of school districts, or a “CESA,” might help scores improve. They’ll even know what tweaking lessons to match a student’s learning style, or “differentiating instruction,” can do for their child.
By Kristin Zolten|Nicholas Long
Center for Effective Parenting
Success in school requires children to use good study skills. Effective studying requires many different skills. While many study skills are taught and monitored at school, success in school will require the use of these skills outside of school hours, for example, when completing homework and studying for tests. Parents can play an important role in helping their children develop good study habits and skills. The ideas described below are specific strategies and techniques parents can use to strengthen their children’s home study skills. This handout focuses on three important aspects of effective studying: organization, study strategies, and motivation...
to read the whole article, go to http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Strengthening_Your/
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH, 2012, by S.D. LAWRENCE
According to a 2007 study in the journal Developmental Psychology, math skills at entry to kindergarten are the strongest predictor of later school achievement, outperforming even reading skills and the ability to focus attention at indicating future academic success. Ongoing research continues to reaffirm that math skills are important to learning — and a glance at the occupational world that awaits the children when they grow up makes it clear that math and math-based skills have never been more important for a successful career in almost any field.
However, according to Sue Shellenbarger writing in the Wall Street Journal Online, US teens are trailing their global peers in math. The most recent results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranks the US 34th in terms of student math performance.
And part of the problem is the generational compounding nature of math failure. Being bad at math made many people hate the subject and develop what is termed a ‘math-phobia’. It is little surprise that when they are adults and have children of their own most are not only unable to help their children, but can instill in their offspring their own attitude towards math. Ben Crowder, publisher of MathFour.com, a website that advises on math teaching strategies, says that many parents are conveying a sense that math is daunting to their children. Saying ‘I’ve never been any good in math’ to your child makes the child think they probably can’t do math either.
Parents play a pivotal role in kids’ math attitudes and skills, starting in toddlerhood. Those who talk often to their youngsters about numbers, and explain spatial relationships in gestures and words, tend to instill better math skills at age 4, according to a long-term, in-home study of 44 preschoolers and their parents led by Susan C. Levine, a professor of psychology and comparative human development at the University of Chicago.
Kelly Mix, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University, says that even math-challenged parents can help their child by teaching them spatial skills early such as playing blocks with the child and teaching them to replicate your own stacks.
For more secure parents, math consultant Suzanne Sutton advises learning alongside your child. If a parent is obviously comfortable trying and failing, it will help the child persevere in the face of a difficult challenge. Additionally, one could hire the child to tutor you:
A parent asked Ms. Sutton years ago how to help her teenage son tackle a tough algebra course when she couldn’t even understand the syllabus. Ms. Sutton told her to pick the toughest topic and offer to pay her son for writing a report on it and teaching it to her. The mother picked logarithms.
When her son gave her only a superficial explanation, Ms. Sutton says, the mother told him, “You didn’t meet the terms of our agreement. I don’t understand what it means.” The teen dug deeper and tried again, and finally got the concept across to his mom, Ms. Sutton says.
While the financial motivation may not sit comfortably with all parents the end result was that the teen realized he had already mastered the toughest topic in the course and went on to excel in the rest of the class.
While positive motivation is fantastic when parents can provide it, children tend to do much better as soon as unconscious negative demotivation is removed from their initial encounters with math.
NYU Child Study Center, from education.com
Tough times also bring opportunities for families to come together and value the things that really matter. Here are some suggestions:
The good news is that kids are resilient and are generally optimistic. Help them develop a hopeful outlook for the future. Children who believe that they can take steps to make their lives better and who believe that adults are working to create a better world have good mental health even in troubling times.
- A strong social support network is a strong protective factor against stress. Make sure that contacts with friends, extended family, coworkers, and neighbors are maintained.
- Be part of a community or religious group. Encourage kids to join scouts or other social groups
- Plan to eat meals together. Family meals are a safe place where everyone can talk about their day, listen to each other and try out ideas. Encourage kids to be creative in planning meals in different places or in new forms – a picnic, brunch, a community dinner.
- Be sure that each family member gets enough exercise and sleep, which are good antidotes to anxious or depressed feelings.
- Help others by volunteering and donating time to worthy organizations. It is never too early—have toddlers share toys, have your child go with you when you bring food to a neighbor, encourage your teen to volunteer in an after-school program—these actions allow children to appreciate what they have and gives them a sense of their ability to contribute to the good of others.
- Explore fun, low cost activities. Plan trips and explore new places (museums, parks, concerts, etc.) in your area. Find unusual and inexpensive restaurants, making the point that you’re helping the economy.
- Establish a regular schedule for family conferences to keep everyone informed on how the drop in income will affect everyone’s life. Discuss, in age-appropriate terms:
- Life style changes, such as changing recreation and vacation plans
- Decisions about priorities for spending money; planning a budget
- Involve children in helping out at home – babysitting, household chores.
- Be a model for your children on how to solve problems, how to deal with a crisis, how to make decisions. When they see you handle a situation with confidence they learn that they too can handle life's challenges.
- Help children focus on the positive aspects of their lives and on the activities over which they have control.
Published on March 26, 2012 by Debbie Glasser, Ph.D. in Parenting News You Can Usehttp://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/parenting-news-you-can-use/201203/little-failure-can-make-big-difference-in-helping-your-child- If you want to help your kids succeed in school and feel more confident, focus on the upside of failure. Yes, you read that right. According to researchers at the University of Poitiers in France, children will perform best when they are told that frequent tries and even occasional failure are normal (and important) aspects of learning.
Researchers suggest that there's a vicious cycle taking place in the classroom. Instead of seeking new information with enthusiasm and interest, many children are afraid to fail so they're reluctant to challenge themselves. What's more, they often assume tasks should come easy to them. If new tasks aren't mastered quickly, students may be quick to give up and quick to assume they aren't capable. When fear of failure keeps kids from trying to tackle difficult problems, the learning process is disrupted and self-confidence can take a hit.
In a study published online in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that students are more likely to succeed simply when parents and teachers reassure them that trying -- and sometimes failing -- is part of how we learn.
In one experiment, over one hundred sixth grade students were divided into two groups and given difficult anagram problems that none of them could solve. A researcher then spoke with the students about the difficulty of the problems. One group was told that learning is difficult and failure is common, and that practice would help them do better on the tasks - just like practice helps when learning to ride a bike. Children in the other group were simply asked by the researchers how they tried to solve the anagrams.
Both groups were then given a second series of tests. Those students who were told that learning can be tough and that failure is a normal part of the process performed significantly better on measures of cognitiveabilities than the other group of students.
In a separate experiment, two groups of sixth graders were given a reading comprehension test and later asked questions about how they judged their own academic competence. One group was given the message, in advance of the test, that that learning can be difficult. The other group wasn't given any feedback. The children who were told that learning can be challenging not only performed better on reading comprehension scores, but also reported fewer feelings of incompetence.
These studies suggest there may be important advantages to sending kids the message that learning new things can be difficult, and that learning takes time and repeated practice. This information can actually boost confidence, reduce fear of failure, and ultimately improve performance.
What You Can Do
There are specific things parents and teachers can do to enhance learning and promote success.
–Be a role model. Whether you're attempting a new recipe or learning how to use a new electronic gadget, encourage your children to observe your progress. And be sure to share how you cope with the inevitable challenges. For example, when a cake doesn't turn out the way you had hoped, you might say something like, "It's not the way I wanted it to be, but I tried my best. And I'll definitely try again!"
–Emphasize the process. Rather than waiting for a successful outcome of a task, focus on the process of learning and the joy and satisfaction that can come with mastering small steps along the way. For example, if your child is learning a new language, don't wait for fluency to say, "Great job!" Instead, celebrate the fact that she has learned 10 new vocabulary words in a language she's never spoken before. Or notice her efforts at diligently memorizing those complicated new grammar rules.
*Provide space for learning. When your son or daughter is faced with a challenging assignment or a difficult new task (whether it's in school, on the sports field, or in a music class), resist the urge to immediately jump in and make it easier. Give your child a chance to tackle the challenge independently, to practice, and to try different approaches. Of course, if your child is regularly struggling or feeling overwhelmed, seek additional support.
–Look for teachable moments. When your child has difficulty with a new task or skill, talk with him about what he's learning from the experience - and ask what he might try differently next time. Help him brainstorm various strategies to accomplish his goals.
from Parent News, http://www.parent.net/article/home-alone.shtml At what age should you feel safe in knowing that you may leave your child at home alone? How old is too young to leave them behind without the watchful attention of a sitter? Such questions may be answered by the law, but when it comes right down to it, not even the legal definitions of “old enough” can make your doubts go away. Parents usually wonder if it is okay to have that lag time between the child returning from school and the parent returning from work being unsupervised. In some cases, parents would like to know if it is okay to once again go out in the evenings and leave the children behind unsupervised. At the same time, these times are then marred by parental nervousness and worst case scenario thinking, causing the parent to cut short meetings or dates and rush home, only to find junior happily munching on some chips.
Here are some things to consider when deciding if your child is old enough to be home alone without a sitter:
If you answered yes to all of these questions and you believe that you and your child are ready to move into this next phase of the parent and child relationship, follow these simple steps to make this a positive and rewarding experience.
- Generally speaking, a child must be 12 years of age or older before you are legally permitted to leave him home alone for any period of time. In some states and municipalities this may be different, and before you even consider doing so, check with your local law enforcement agency to know the laws.
- You child needs to be responsible. Age does not matter, if your child is not responsible enough to know that he needs to sit down and start on his homework rather than playing video games. Additionally, does your child have good judgment and reasoning abilities, making it possible for him to remember not to open the door when the doorbell chimes, or not let a stranger on the phone know that you are not there?
- Does your child want to be left home alone? Some children are afraid, even if they are legally and otherwise ready to stay home alone. Do not force your child into this until he is sure that he is ready.
- How are siblings getting along? If you have an older child who likes to torment a younger one or vice versa, this is a recipe for disaster if you put the older child in charge. There is always a bit of bickering, but if the bickering is more or less physical fighting, this is a bad idea.
- Is your home safe? If you live in a safe neighborhood, your windows and doors are in good repair, and your child knows how to work the burglar alarm and call the authorities if necessary, you could say that it is by and large safe for your child to be home alone. On the other hand, if your home is near to venues that attract unsafe characters and if your neighborhood is prone to gang violence, leaving your child home alone is unwise.
- Have you trained your child in proper safety procedures? In other words, does your child know what to do if there was an attempted break-in, a fire, or other emergency?
- Start small. At first, leave your child alone for 30 minutes while you walk the dog. Gradually increase the amount of time to an hour. Over time, keep increasing the amount of time so that the child may explore his own comfort levels.
- Reiterate the rules. Your child must be clear on the house rules and on the expectations you have when he is home alone. This may include responsibility for younger siblings, the notion that homework is to be started at a certain time, the rule that friends of the opposite sex may not visit in your absence, and a host of other do’s and don’ts.
- Prepare for emergencies. You child must know what to do. If he is to be in charge of younger siblings, he needs to know infant and child CPR. Sign up for a class together. Additionally, your child needs to know how to operate a fire extinguisher, dial 9-1-1, and also give succinct instructions to emergency personnel who answer the telephone. Moreover, make sure your child has your mobile number and the numbers of other adults for backup.
- Model what being home alone is all about. Your child should know what to do in several scenarios, such as losing a house key, having a stranger come to the door, getting hungry, needing help with homework, having you or the other parent running late, answering the telephone, and also dealing with getting lonely.
- Prepare siblings for the inevitable power games. If you anticipate the squabbles and problems before they occur, you can most likely prevent a lot of bickering. Identify who is supposed to do what, who is in charge of what and of whom, and also who the ultimate authority is to make that phone call to you when all else fails.
From Parenting Blog at Aha! Parenting.com - Parenting Advice from Dr. Laura Markham 10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child
"We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." -- Virginia Satir
We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. That's what makes parenting worth it. Connection is as essential to us as parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it's also sweet -- so we receive as much as we give.
That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents WANT to cooperate. They trust us to know what's best for them, to be on their side. I hear regularly from parents that everything changes once they focus on connecting, not just correcting.
But we're only human. There are days when all we can do is meet our children's most basic needs: Feed them, bathe them, keep an encouraging tone, hug them, and get them to sleep at a reasonable hour so we can do it all over again tomorrow. Given that parenting is the toughest job on earth -- and we often do it in our spare time, after we work at another job all day -- the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. What kinds of habits?
1. 12 hugs a day. Hug your child first thing in the morning, when you say goodbye, when you're re-united, at bedtime, and often in between. If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond? It's a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today, which should be high on your priority list.)
2. Connect before transitions. Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another. If you look her in the eye, use her name, and play a bit to get her giggling, you'll fill her cup and make sure she has the inner resources to manage herself through a transition. Mornings go much easier when you start with a five minute snuggle upon awakening to help your child transition from sleep into the executive functions of dressing and teeth brushing.
3. Play. Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you. Making playfulness a daily habit also gives your child a chance to work through the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected -- and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate. Which is likely to work better, "Little Gorilla, it's time for breakfast, come eat your bugs and bananas!" and "Don't you think your steam shovel wants to get in the car now so he can see the construction site on the way to the store?" or "Eat your breakfast now!" and "Get in the car!"
4. Turn off technology when you interact with your child. Really. Your child will remember for the rest of his life that he was important enough to his parents that they turned off phones and music to listen to him. This is particularly important in the car, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.
5. Special time. Every day, 15 minutes with each child, separately. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want. On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct. On your days resist the urge to structure the time with activities. Instead, play therapeutic "games" to help your child with whatever issues are "up" for her. (For game ideas, click here.)
6. Welcome emotion. Sure, it's inconvenient. But your child needs to express his emotions or they'll drive his behavior. So accept the meltdowns, don't let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you're the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it. Afterwards, he'll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you.
7. Listen, and Empathize. Connection starts with listening. Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say "Wow!....I see....Really?...How was that for you?" The habit of seeing things from your child's perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions. It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in "fight or flight," your child doesn't look so much like the enemy.
8. Slow down and savor the moment. Share the moment with your child: let him smell the strawberrries before you put them in the smoothie. Put your hands in the running water together and share the cool rush of the water. Smell his hair. Listen to his laughter. Look him in the eyes. Connect in the magnificence of the present moment. Which is really the only way we canconnect.
9. Bedtime snuggle and chat. Set your child's bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you'll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it's something that happened at school, the way you snapped at her this morning, or her worries about tomorrow's field trip. Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that together you'll solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You'll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don't give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.
10. Show up. Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before he leaves your home. He'll be gone before you know it. Try this as a practice: When you're engaged with your child, just be right here, right now. You won't be able to do it all the time. But if you do it every day for a bit, you'll find yourself doing it more and more. Because you'll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.