Monday, February 28, 2011

ADHD: Part 1

So many children these days are diagnosed with ADHD. Nearly a million American kids may be misdiagnosed with ADHD according to an article in the March 2011 article of Good Housekeeping magazine. This is because of simply due to age-related maturity gaps (which usually disappear over time). A study found that young kindergartners are 60 percent more likely to be deemed hyperactive than older peers. If your child has a late birthday and distractibility is a concern, consider waiting it out first, says study author Todd Elder, Ph.D.

In an article from the Good Morning America show, the single most common child behavioral diagnosis, ADHD is a highly prevalent developmental disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The approximately 2 million affected children often fall behind their peers in development of motor control, motor overflow (unintentional movement) and balance. The inability to control or inhibit voluntary actions is suspected to contribute to the core diagnostic features of excessive hyperactivity, impulsivity and off-task (distractible) behavior.

In the study, researchers looked at 50 right-handed children — 25 with ADHD and 25 typically developing, ages 8-12 years. Each subject completed five tasks of sequential finger-tapping on each hand. In this exercise, the children tapped each finger to the thumb of the same hand, in sequence. The tapping hand alternated between left-handed finger sequencing and right-handed finger sequencing. Excessive mirror overflow, defined as unintentional and unnecessary movements occurring in the same muscles on the opposite side of the body, were measured using video and a device that recorded finger position. These methods provided precise quantification of the amount of overflow movement, a major advance over prior studies that relied on qualitative scales. During left-handed finger tapping, children with ADHD showed more than twice as much mirror overflow than typically developing children. The differences were particularly prominent for boys with ADHD who showed nearly four times as much mirror overflow than typically developing boys on one of the two measures used in the study.

Tomorrow will be a continuation of this article from Good Morning America show.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Family History

In order to understand the present and look to the future, we must understand our past. How many of us know much about our family's history?  Many people are searching for their ancestors by researching their past. 

Start out by making a simple family tree. Make sure you include your children in this activity. Go as far as you can on your own. There will be a sense of purpose and excitement every time you find another piece of the puzzle.  Contact other family members to fill in what they know. Post information on your blog,  face book,or research family on line. It will take on a life of its own and you can find family members you never knew existed. There are Web sites you can join that will help with the search. My family recently found family members just last year. It was truly exciting! We made arrangements to meet and talk and share our history. We are forever connected together.  So, develop a sense of family history and find out some very interesting fact. It can be life changing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Exercise For Your Familie's Health

When I was a child, children played outside from early morning until early evening. We made up games, played tag, hide and seek, ball, jump rope, and anything we could create. We rode our bikes and walked or ran wherever we went.  Playing outside was a way of life and we didn't come inside until dinnertime. Our parents never had to find activities for us to participate in. 

Today, children are on the Internet, PlayStation, watching TV, cell phones, and are not getting the exercise they need. They sit for hours without moving.  Creativity is a thing in the pass.  If you ask them to go outside and play, they have no idea what to do and complain that it is too hot or too cold outside. 

Do your children and yourself a favor and turn off the computer and TV and get out every day for 45-60 minutes of activity. It will make all the difference in your childens' overall health. Get out there and join them. It will bring your family closer together and you will feel better too!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Charter Schools: Good or Bad?

Are charter schools better?

A groundbreaking study offers new insights into charters: Are they outperforming traditional public schools, or are they failing their students?  In an article on Charters schools, by Carol Lloyd, she writes various opinion on Charter schools. Below is the article and findings.

 In some education circles, these two words are enough to ignite a spitting match of statistics and impassioned rhetoric.

1. They are ruining our school system - they take resources away from public schools!

2. Since the public school system has abandoned our most needy children, charters are our only hope for reforming public school education.

3. Research shows that, on average, charter schools don’t outperform traditional public schools – they’re just another attempt to privatize education!
Test scores don’t lie. High-performing charter schools are closing the achievement gap.
On and on the arguments go, drawing on the same old, selectively chosen facts to prove vastly different points of view. Amidst this increasingly heated clamor over charter schools, it’s no surprise that many parents respond to the debate with the deer-in-the-headlight stare my friend gave me the other day when the subject came up: “I don’t know how I feel about charters,” she muttered. “I mean, are they bad or good?”

The good and the bad promisesAccording to today’s groundbreaking report by the California Charter Schools Association, the answer to my friend’s question is: both.

"Portrait of the Movement" provides an in-depth analysis of California’s 720 charter schools (new schools without data were not included), comparing them to traditional public schools along three important variables: their absolute test scores, their test scores relative to the students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, and their improvement over time.

The results, which were released Wednesday, February 23, 2011 with endorsements from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and reformer Michelle Rhee, offer a glimpse into the complex reality of charter school performance in one of the biggest states in the nation. In addition to a searchable map comparing all charter and public schools in the state, the report includes an interactive scatterplot of charter schools and sortable spreadsheet of all the state's charters.

What emerges is a simple fact: charter schools are not all created equal. But the not-so-simple truth about charters is that compared with traditional schools, they are both more likely to outperform and more likely to underperform their predicted outcomes. As CCSA's Myrna Castrejon put it, the report offers "cause for celebration and cause for concern."

Helping some, hurting others?
As a rule of thumb, at public schools the more privileged kids — those in the upper socioeconomic brackets — get the highest scores. The most disadvantaged — those in the lower socioeconomic brackets — attend the lowest-performing schools and score worse. But with charter schools, there are more outliers: some schools are doing substantially worse than comparable public schools. But some charter schools — especially those serving kids from disadvantaged backgrounds — are doing substantially better.
In this sense, the report unpacks the much touted finding that taken in aggregate, charter schools aren’t better than their traditional counterparts. Such findings were an important caveat that charter schools are no panacea, but broad generalizations about mediocre charter school performance occludes the lessons that exceptional individual charter schools can offer.

As CCSA is eager to underscore, the report’s key findings suggest that the charter school experiment shows remarkable promise, even though some of those schools are failing their students.

More excellent outliers than terrible outliers — Over all, there are more outperforming charter schools than underperforming ones. (Charters are four times more likely than non-charters to over-perform their prediction, while only twice as likely to be underperformers.) Given that the low performing schools tend to be smaller than the high performing schools, the positive effect is amplified -- with 2.5 times as many students served in the top performing 5% than the lowest performing 5%.

The right direction — Over time, the number of out-performing charters is increasing, while the number of underperformers is decreasing.

Excellence is replicable — Schools in Charter Management Organizations – like KIPP, Aspire, Alliance — have a better track record of excellence than charters that have no CMO-affiliation.

Classrooms still work — So-called “classroom-based” charter schools outperform non-classroom based charters, which comprise the highly volatile world of virtual academies and home school charters that may not compare well with traditional schools.
Closing the achievement gap — Charter schools serving low-income kids are outperforming comparable traditional schools.

Your takeaways
Does this mean you should run out and find a charter school for your child to attend? Would that choosing a school were so easy! But “charter” shouldn’t be taken as a short-hand for good, or even decent. Each school — be it charter, private or public — needs to be assessed carefully according to its merits and your child's needs. What this report does elucidate is the varied performance of the vast array of charter schools — from a girl logging onto her computer in her pajamas to a collection of boys dressed in suits and ties and chanting their multiplication tables millitary-style.

No doubt, CCSA has a stake in findings that shine a rosy light on all their member schools. But the broad offerings that make up charter schools, including online homeschool programs to academic-intensive prep-style academies, are far more diverse than the public schools they are compared to — for better and for worse. In the process, CCSA has begun to set its own criteria for what good enough looks like. In the report, it identified 30 charter schools it will not endorse for renewal.

Ultimately, however, the report spells good news for the charter movement. Not because it proves that charters are always better, but because in all their diversity, they offer a picture not only of what works, but what should be avoided. If nothing else, it shines a light toward future success. Many of these schools — among them the CMOs like Alliance that are dedicated to closing the achievement gap — have made extraordinary strides in disproving those who believe that income level equals educational destiny. And that's good news for everyone.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Best Ways To Help With Homework

Some many nights, homework becomes an issue in many families.  According to an article from, here are ways to best help your child when he/she’s doing homework:

1) Have your child settle into a good study space.
You might hear differently, but children don’t need one special place to do homework every day. In fact, some kids do well studying in different spots: the kitchen or dining room table, a desk in their room, or even a cozy couch. As long as the space is comfortable and your child is able to get work done, it’s a good place.

2) Help your child focus.
Keep the homework area quiet, with TVs and cell phones off. (Some kids actually do focus better when listening to music. If you play music, pick something instrumental, with no distracting vocals, and don’t let your child crank up the volume.) If brothers or sisters are playing nearby, or other family members are talking so your child loses focus, ask them to go to a different area of the house — or let your student wear earphones .

3) Keep school supplies close at hand.
Keep basic school supplies in one easy-to-find spot in the house. Here are the basics your child needs: lined paper, pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, a glue stick, a stapler, and a kids’ dictionary.

4) Set up a regular time for homework.
As best you can, have your child do homework at about the same time every day, after school or in the early evening. For young children, knowing when to expect “homework time” — just like dinnertime or bedtime — helps them get into a routine and stick with it.

5) Stay close by while your child does homework.
Young children focus better when a grown-up is close by. You’re not there to give answers. But you can help by reading homework instructions together and making sure your child understands what she’s supposed to do. Having you nearby also lets your child know you care about her work.

6) Review the work when your child says he’s finished.
Make sure your child has completed his homework. If you see he’s made mistakes, have him correct them. But don’t give the answer! Let him know he made an error and ask what he needs to do to fix it. Don’t assume that’s the teacher’s job. With up to 30 students, a teacher might be checking the homework, but he or she can’t give your child as much attention as you can.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reading On Grade Level: First Grade

According to an article about students reading on grade level, from, the author stated that parents should understand if their kids reading at grade level. The questions were asked, are your kids reading at grade level? Are there any gaps in their phonics or comprehension? Since learning to read is a long and complex process, some students hit college only to discover their skills aren't where they should be.
How do you know if your children are on track? Our grade-by-grade guidelines give you all the details you need to assess their aptitude.

Independent readers
First-graders are just beginning to become independent readers, learning strategies to decode unknown words. By re-reading stories, first-graders can increase their reading speed and comprehension of the material. In first grade, students should also learn about the variety of purposes for reading — for pleasure, for research, or for practical reasons like getting directions from a sign.

Books and print
First-graders should be exposed to many different kinds of reading materials — including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and songs, materials that help foster a lifelong love of reading, while immersing your child in the rhythms of language. You can also expect first-graders to be able to identify the title, author and illustrator of a book. They should be able to recognize the parts of a book, like the cover, title page, and table of contents, and recognize that sentences begin with capital letters and end with punctuation.

The letter-sound relationship
First-graders will get practice working with letters and their sounds, learning how to decode new words by applying the letter-sound relationship for single letters, pairs of letters, such as sh or er, and short and long vowel patterns, including the ever-intriguing silent e. Children might sort objects and pictures using their knowledge of sounds and practice blending sounds together to make words, perhaps by playing a game to blend s-a-t to make the word sat. They'll practice breaking words into separate sounds, say, breaking hop into h-o-p and will replace sounds in words by a variety of methods; they might substitute the s in sat with c to make cat. Many teachers help kids study syllables by having them clap at each syllable. First-graders read books that include the letter-sound relationship they are learning as well as frequently used words that they have been taught.

Reading for meaning
Children in first grade are just beginning to find meaning in what they read; you can expect them to recognize the sequence of events in a story, understand cause and effect, and anticipate possible outcomes for an ending. First-graders should learn to retell familiar stories, summarizing the main ideas and plot and identifying the characters and settings.

Reading aloud
Listening to books read aloud gives first-graders models of fluent reading and helps them develop a positive attitude toward books. It also helps them understand vocabulary and language patterns in texts. Books read aloud are often discussed before, during, and after the reading to increase involvement and understanding.

Shared reading
Expect first-graders to participate in shared reading, or storytime. Some teachers use an oversized book with words the whole class can see. Kids can get actively engaged in the reading experience and teachers often pause, teaching vocabulary, reading skills, or encouraging the students to predict what might come next. Classes often read a book several times over the course of a few days.

Guided reading groups
Children in first grade often take part in guided reading, where teachers interact with small groups of students as they read. The teacher will introduce reading strategies, tailoring the instruction to the needs of students. As students read, teachers provide support as needed. "At all grade levels, teachers should use flexible grouping rather than fixed reading groups," says reading specialist Jennifer Thompson. "This allows each child to progress when ready, in developmentally appropriate material."

By the end of first grade, you can expect your kids to:
Name and recognize all the letters of the alphabet in order

Identify beginning, middle, and ending sounds

Take the initiative by using reading and writing strategies (re-reading, predicting, questioning, making connections) to overcome obstacles with comprehension

Read and retell familiar stories

Read out loud with reasonable fluency

Use letter-sound associations, word parts, and context to identify new words

Identify short vowel and long vowel sounds

Match consonant sounds to their appropriate letters

Recognize and produce rhyming words

Read simple one- and two-syllable words, like cat

Read high-frequency words such as was and the

Recognize that words are separated by spaces

Read aloud first-grade books with accuracy and understanding

Begin to read aloud with expression and pausing at appropriate spots in the text

Use two-letter consonant blends to decode and spell single-syllable words such as sh and bl

Use word patterns to decode unfamiliar words

Identify characters, setting and events of a story

Recommended books
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, by Mem Fox (Harvest Books, 2001).
The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease (Penguin, 5th edition, 2001).
Read to Me 2000: Raising Kids Who Love to Read, by Bernice E. Cullinan (Cartwheel, 2000).

To read more about reading on grade level go to

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reading Instruction for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is no longer for playing and exploring.  Children are now expected to do work that was required for first grade years ago.  Don't get me wrong, playing and exploring has its place, but there is a lot more required for our children today.  In an article written by Diana Townsend-Butterworth for, she spells out what a kindergarten child needs to have in order to be ready for first grade.

Reading-readiness skills
Throughout the year, kindergartners are introduced to skills that prepare them for reading. Students often work with letters of the alphabet to build their vocabularies, helping them begin to understand reading as a process of discerning meaning from print. Kindergartners should learn how books are read, from front cover to back, from the top of the page to the bottom, and from left to right. By the end of the year, students should be able to recognize the parts of a book — the cover, the title page, and the table of contents.

The letter-sound relationship
Kindergartners also learn the relationship of sounds to letters, helping them decode written words. Students need time to practice working with letters and their sounds, sometimes by sorting picture cards according to the sounds they start with. Expect your children to gain practice blending sounds to create words and breaking down words into separate sounds.

Reading for meaning
In kindergarten, kids start to learn how to make meaning of what they hear read aloud to them and what they read themselves. You can expect them to recognize the sequence of events in a story, their cause and effect, and their possible outcomes.

Reading aloud
Kindergartners frequently listen to books being read aloud. Listening to a teacher or parent provides a model of fluent reading and helps children develop a positive attitude toward books. It also helps your child understand vocabulary and language patterns in texts.

Shared reading
Kindergartners might have time for shared reading. During shared reading, children come together to read a big book, one with enlarged text that the whole class can see, guided by their teacher.

By the end of kindergarten, you can expect your kids to:

Recognize the shapes and names of all upper- and lower-case letters

Identify beginning and ending sounds

Identify short vowel sounds

Match consonant sounds to their appropriate letters

Recognize and produce rhyming words

Read one-syllable words such as cat

Read frequently seen words such as you and the

• Recognize that words are separated by spaces
• Read and explain her own writing and drawings
• Identify common signs and logos
• Use pictures to make predictions about content
• Retell familiar stories using beginning, middle and end
• Discuss characters in a story
• Recommended books

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, by Mem Fox (Harvest Books, 2001).
The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease (Penguin, 5th edition, 2001).
Read to Me 2000: Raising Kids Who Love to Read, by Bernice E. Cullinan (Cartwheel, 2000).

For more information on reading readiness for pre-school thru high school, go to

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reading Instruction for Pre-school

According to an article by Diana Townsend-Butterworth for, the ability to read and write, to understand the subtleties of language, to think and reason clearly, and to communicate effectively with others is key to success in school and in life. Researchers have identified a window of time from birth to around age 8 as crucial for a child's development of literacy. Preschool teachers develop literacy by continually exposing children to oral and written language, and by building on prior knowledge and language experiences.

Reading aloud: The teacher asks questions about the story and the children make predictions about what will happen next. By actively participating in the story, preschoolers acquire skills that will promote future success in reading.

Poetry: Nursery rhymes, songs, and poetry are a key part of literacy development, says Bernice E. Cullinan, Ph.D., professor emerita at New York University and the author of more than 40 books on reading, including Read to Me — Raising Kids Who Love to Read.

Storytelling: Listening teaches story structure and helps children learn to predict outcomes, says Bill Gordh, an author, storyteller, and director of expressive arts at the Episcopal School in New York City. He finds children get caught up in the rhythm of his stories and understand them instinctively, without explanation.

The printed word: To understand how print works, preschoolers need to be surrounded by it — in books and magazines, in signs around the classroom, on bulletin boards, in labels on their clothes and possessions. They learn that in English we read from left to right and from the top to the bottom of the page. They are encouraged to incorporate the written word into their pretend play.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Not All Relative

Even it your family tree is populated with overweight folks, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be obese, report British researchers. They analyzed the genetic makeup of 20,430 people and found that, yes, those who had more gene variation that predisposed them to obesity were heavier, according to an article in the March 2011 article of Good Housekeeping magazine.

But when they matched activity levels of participants with their genes, the picture was brighter: While each gene variation added an average of 1.3 pounds to those who were sedentary, for active people (those who moved at least 30 minutes a day), the average was 0.8 pounds - difference that can really add up if you have many such variations. The thin-kin lesson? DNA is not destiny – or an excuse to get too friendly with your remote.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Eating As A Family


Cooking and eating together is one of the joys of family life, according to an article in the August 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. Below, are a couple of ground rules that will make it go smoothly, from noted author Barbara Kingsolver:

1. While convenience foods look like salvation in the short run for time-pressed families, real mealtimes give a family civility, economy, and health.
2. Save more labor-intensive meals (quiche, lasagna, and roasted chicken) for the weekend.
3. When everyone pitches in, calories get used up before anyone sits down at the table.
4. More significantly, a lot of talk happens before dinner, too, across the generations

Another good reason to eat dinner together is adolescent girls who eat five or more meals a week with their families are about one-third less likely to develop dangerous eating patterns than those who dine with their folks less often.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No More Back Talk!

Parents have to decide there will be rules that will be followed in the household. Respect and back talk can be controlled. According to an article in the August 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, there are 5 suggestions below:

1. Set clear rules. Figure out what’s most important to you (No put-downs? Not muttering? No condescending gazes?) and announce the rules to all members of the family. Post them in the kitchen for future reference, if need be.

2. Decide not to take it. Parents who refuse to tolerate rude behavior tend to have kids who aren’t rude. Dole out consequences.

3. Establish a code. For times when you are in public or when friends are around, let kids know they’re nearing the disrespectful zone with a pre-arranged signal, whether it’s a phrase or a gesture.

4. Don’t get into the act. Sure, it’s tempting to toss back a zinger to show the offending child how it feels, but bite your tongue and set an excellent example instead.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ways Technology Can Bring The Family Together!

There are actually ways to use technology to create more quality family time, says Denise Pellow, in an article in the March 2010 of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Having combined her legal career with certification in computer network engineering to found KidsBeSafeOnline, a Web site aimed at education adults on child Internet safety, the Missouri-based grandmother is passionate about how kids use new technologies. But she’s just as dedicated to encouraging families to use them to their advantage. “Technology has brought me closer to my family,” says
Pellow, who plays Webkinz online with her grandchildren. “Parents need to keep the dialogue open about technology if they don’t want to shut out their children’s lives.” Here are her tech-niques to create more quality family time.

1. Let your fingers do the talking: Text with your kids. “Children can’t roll their eyes at you or use a sarcastic tone in a text message,” points out Pellow, so texting often limits negative interactions. Plus, parents tend to be long-winded, and texting is better suited to adolescents attention spans.

2. Play Online games with your kids: From Fego Indiana Jones to more advanced role-playing games, have fun with your kids online and they’ll be more open to doing other activities with you. A good resource for choosing age-appropriate games:

3. Get up and go Geocaching: Go outdoor adventuring with your family through geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunting game played worldwide that involves finding hidden objects, called “geocaches,” and sharing your discoveries online. All you need is GPS device. Find out more at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Best Children's Books of 2009

There is nothing more important for your child’s education than you reading to your child and your child reading independently. There are mountains of good literature to read. Below are a few suggestions, according to an article in Jan/Feb 2010 Instructor magazine, “Best Kids Books of 2010.

K-2 Grades

Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Is this black-and-white hero a duck or a rabbit? Readers battle it out in this delightful look at illusion, inspired by a famous 19th-century image, in which one narrator claims to see a duck wading through a swamp, the other a bunny hiding in the grass.
Tsunami! By Kimiko Kajikawa

Everyone seemed to have this strory of sacrifice on their Caldecott radar, by the heroic feats of elderly Ojisan, who saves his village from a deadly tsunami.

The Lion and the Mouse By Jerry Pinkney

Pinkney renders one of Aesop’s fables using no words, only exquisite watercolor and colored pencil. You’ll find so many ways to use his versions in the classroom and at home. Your kids can practice telling stories in their own words and in writing.

3-5 Grades

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

Mass, perhaps best known for A Mango-Shaped Space, has a singular talent for high-concept plots, (here 11-year old Amanda wakes again and
again on the morning of her birthday, which makes her stories quick to read but very slow to forget.
The Magician’s Elephant By Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo latest fable about an orphan on a quest to find his family still has children teary-eyed. No one else cuts right to the hearts of readers young and old like DiCamillo does.
Where The Mountain Meets the Moon By Grace Lin

Lin weaves a rich and ambitious journey for her main character, Minli, who decides to search for the Old Man of the Moon after hearing her father’s legends about him. The beautiful illustrations, the folktale feel, and the fast-paced storytelling add up to an unforgettable adventrue you child will love.
6-8 Grades

Catching Fire By Suzanne Collins

This second installment in Collins’s fast-paced trilogy just as addictive as the first (The Hunger Games), and kids happily passed it from friend to friend. With Katniss’s return to the games and a major cliffhanger, we’re not surprised that kids are hooked.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Evocative of so many 12-yeaar old girl stories that have come before it, but completely original in its execution, Stead’s second novel had readers championing it in the blogosphere and beyond. With a deep connection to A Wrinkle in Time, a rich sense of 1979 New York City, and a true heroine at its heart, When You Reach Me promises to reach you as well as your child.

Wild Things By Clay Carmichael

Eleven-year old Zoe is one of the favorite characters of 2009. She calls her eccentric uncle’s sculptures “wild things,” she too is untamed, having gotten by with few adults she can trust. Anyone will be able to relate to the emotional road Zoe must travel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Choose The Best School For My Child

Below is a part of the article on choosing the best school for your child from the Web site

When it comes to deciding on a school for your child, the more choices you have, the better, right? 
Sure, except that having more choices makes the school-choosing process all the more difficult as you struggle to answer questions like: Where will my child be happiest for the next few years? Is the popular public school near our house or the private school with the stellar scores a better bet? Is this school really as great as it seems?

To help parents avoid common pitfalls when choosing a school, we checked in with Liz Perelstein, president of School Choice International. Perelstein, who has worked as an admissions officer, now advises parents on that sometimes crazy-making, but all-important question: which school will be best for my child?

1. Judging a school by the hallways

If you really want to get to know a school, get a sense of it where it matters most – in the classroom.

If you're seriously considering a school, ask to sit in on a couple classrooms and observe – for anywhere up to a half hour. That's sounds like a lot of time, but you're homework will serve you – and your child – well. See how involved, active, and inspirational the teachers are. Do they interact well with the students? Do the kids look bored, fidgety, or are they badly behaved? Check here for more questions to ask when touring a school.

2. Choosing a school based on the kindergarten class alone.

Do kids look happy and engaged? What's on the walls of the classrooms? What are the room lay-outs? What kind of special offerings – from academics to team sports to after-school programs – does the school offer older kids? To learn more on assessing an elementary school, check out these insider tricks.

3. Choosing a school without regard to location.

Although on the surface this may seem less important than other factors like test scores, parents should be able to get to the school without too much difficulty – either for emergencies or for school events. And if there's no school bus and little chance at carpooling, you might be making the trek twice a day, week after week, year after year.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


If your toothbrush is approaching its 3-month birthday, it's time to get a new one, according to an article in the March 2010 issue of Better Home and Gardens magazine.  Getting a new toothbrush every 3-months is recommended by the American Dental Association.  After 3-4 months, brushes are less effective in removing plaque on your teeth and fighting gum disease.

New toothbrushes also give the brush-off to germs, says Jeffery Hobden, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and parasitology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. "Although there's an ick factor of having bacteria on your toothbrush, it's your bacteria," says Hobden.  It's important to keep your germs from spreading to other family members.

Besides buying a new brush (look for one with antibacterial bristles), cut down on germs with toothbrush sanitizers ( or by giving you brush a good soak in an antimicrobial mouthwash.  To prevent cross contamination, avoid sharing, and store brushes in a ventilated holder.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jumping Rope For Your Health

Jumping rope is high on the list of cardiovascular exercise and it requires little space according to an article in the March 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  At about 12 calories burned per minute, rope jumping is like running a nine-minute mile, says John P. Porcari, exercise physiologist with the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse.  "Jumping rope is tough at first, but it becomes easier with practice," Porcari says.  Jump just high enough to clear the rope.  "Most beginners jump too high," says Porcari.  Wear cross-trainers or other shoes with cushion in the ball of the feet.  A 9-foot rope works best for those 5'4" to 5'10".  Start jumping in 15 to 20 second intervals and work your way up to 10 minutes.

Warm Up - by walking in place for a few minutes.
Jump - for 15 to 20 seconds; rest for 40 to 60 seconds and repeat sequence for 10 minutes (or as long as you can).  While resting, keep moving by grasping the rope with both hands and making a sideways figure-eight.
How Often - Three to five times a week or as warm-up before your regular cardiovascular routine.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Effective Parenting!

Many times teachers witness behavior in the classrooms that are hard to understand and control.  Little children as young as pre-school and kindergarten, come to school so angry and aggressive.  These behaviors aren't acceptable anywhere and especially not in the classroom.

Sometimes the behaviors are displayed for medical reasons.  With the cooperation of the parents, doctors, teachers, and administration, plans can be put in place to help the child assimilate into the regular classroom. But when you have behaviors that disrupt the classroom because parents aren't "Parenting", or children are witnessing inappropriate aggression at home, this is not only frustrating for the teachers and administrators, but for all the students that have to wait for that child to get under control.

If you have a child showing such behaviors, talk to  the teacher, principal, counselor, church members, or other parents for suggestions.  Make sure you take the suggestions and be consistent with the plan you decide to put in place for your family.  The school can only do but so much. Ultimately, your child is your responsibility and it would be to your advantage to get whatever behaviors under control before they get into middle school or high school.  Schools can only do their job effectively when parents do their job of parenting effectively.

Below is a quote from Dr. Joyce Brothers (author, spokeswoman) 1974:
"If a child is given love,
he becomes loving...
If he's helped when he needs help,
he becomes helpful.
And if he has been truly valued at home...
he grows up secure enough to look beyond
himself to the welfare of others."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How To Raise a Good Reader!

Even if you child isn't a natural-born bookworm, here's how you can help encourage him/her to love literature, according to an article in the August 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping.

1. Keep reading together, even if you kids can breeze through a book on their own.  Reading aloud can expand their vocabulary, and your chats about the book will help them comprehend and appreciate more.
2. If a book is too difficult for your children to read on their own, shelve it, or you read the entire book aloud. Just make sure you stop and discuss words or parts of the story they may not understand. The whole purpose of reading is to understand and enjoy the story.
3. Listen to audio books.  They aren't "cheating"; they're a terrific way to engage kids in a good yarn.  Press play during car rides or after dinner.
4. Revisit favorites.  A second read is a great way to discuss subtleties and encourages your kids to focus on more than just the plot.
5. Check out; it matches kids (K-8) with books they'll enjoy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #101

There are many Internet Web sites that offer educational and fun activities for children.  That brings us to tip #101.

Tip #101: Get to know all the wonderful Web sites that can help your child learn, while having fun at the same time.

As you are trying to find great sites for your kids to learn and have fun, it is tough to find the best Web sites for grades K-2. Here Scholastic advisor, Ruth Manna shares a few of her favorite for this time of year:

1. Hike Through the National Parks. A wonderful way to experience the United States.
2. Bake a Sweet Treat. The object of Flipit Frenzy is to build a cake by matching ingredients by color and shape. This site has great games.
3. Count by 100. Use this nifty hundreds chart to teach kids to skip count by 2,5, 10. Celebrate Chinese New Year. Jet of to the Great Wall using Google Earth. http://www.http//
5. Pick Photos of John and George. Learn about the great Presidents.
6. Play Some Grand Slam Math. A neat math game called Grand Slam Math.
7. Race Along the Iditarod Trail. This Web site kids can navigate independently and they love it.
8. Take Off Your Mittens. Several math games to play.

Try these sites and see if your child doesn't fall in love with playing games and learning at the same time!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #100

A child's academic success is base on the experiences at home. If your child see a good work ethic and an interest in school work at home from you, it will make the love of learning easier. That brings us to tip #100.

Tip #100: Help your child develop a love for learning.

In order to help your child develop a love for learning you must involve your child in activities that are of interest and give your child a new and different way of learning. Some suggestions are to encourage a love for learning are:

1. Go to museums
2. Attend concerts
3. Display academic work
4. Display art work
5. Show value to academic successes as well as other talents
6. Give enthusiastic messages about your child's efforts
7. Ask the teacher to suggest activities that you and your child can do together
8. Apply knowledge your child finds interesting to real life
9. Talk to your child about their school work
10. Encourage your child to reach every possible dream
11. Take you child out to experience as much as possible and discuss each experience
12. Encourage you child to collect things of interest
13. Talk about the future with your child and be encouraging
14. Help your child to be independent as possible
15. Read to your child when they are very young and have them read every evening while you are reading
16. You show a true appreciation and love for learning will go a long way
17. Celebrate academic successes with affection and excitement
18. Participate in as many school and extra curricular events as possible
19. Always remember that you are the role model for your child, so if you show a love and appreciation for learning, your child very well may.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #99

How much personal information should I give to the teacher?  That brings us to tip #99.

Tip #99: Make sure your child's teacher is aware of any important issues your child is dealing with.

While you do not have to give every detail of private family issues, you may want the teacher to know about serious issues your child is dealing with. Such issues as a new baby, Illnesses, a divorce or separation, a remarriage, or a death. When your child is dealing with major stresses or changes in life it can affect the child's behavior and academic performance. It will also help the teacher to know how to handle certain situations or talk to the child instead of threats of discipline when behavior changes.

When the teacher is aware of major events going on in your child's life, it can help provide support and a sense of safety when the child needs to transition through the changes. Your elementary child won't always know or understand what should be shared and what stays with the family. The child will many times give details on any trouble at home. Despite your efforts to teach your child about keeping family issue private. Teachers are sometimes put in uncomfortable positions of knowing your personal family issues without your having told the teacher. It is best to inform the teacher of any problems that may effect your child's school performance.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Foods For Your Digestive Tract

If you have ever suffered with heartburn, lactose intolerance, or acid reflux, you know there are certain foods that just don't sit well.  According to an article in the August 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, there's plenty of stuff you can eat that actually aids a host of digestive conditions. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in your intestine and aid digestion.  They also keep naturally occurring bad bacterial in check and may help treat gastrointestinal illness.  Newcomers on the health radar screen, probiotics are the nutrients that allow probiotics to thrive.  You can get both from certain foods, and eating them together is a great way to ensure they're doing the most for your body.

Best probiotic foods: Yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, fermented milks such as acidophilus milk and kefir, and fermented soybean such as miso and tempeh.

Best prebiotic foods: Artichokes, bananas, berries, almonds, barley, flax, wheat, oats, leeks, asparagus, honey, chicory root, garlic, onions, and legumes

Tips: Combine oats with yogurt in the morning for maximum benefit.  Not sure about your yogurt's probiotic status? Look for the National Yogurt Association's Live & Active Cultures seal ( to see if your yogurt has enough to get a health benefit (100 million cultures per gram, or for frozen yogurt, 10 million per gram).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Help Your Children Stay Slim

It is a fact that we have a national problem of our children being over weight.  According to an article in the August 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, below are some tips to help your child stay slim.

1. Beverage count! Get rid of sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks, and punches.  Swap in almost-calorie-free options like seltzer with a splash of fruit juice.
2. Establish a rule that there will be not eating in front of the TV.  It's a fact that kids are more likely to overeat in front of the tube.
3. Pre-measure portions of snack foods.  Put snacks into small zip-seal bags rather than letting kids dig into a big bowl.
4. Encourage a good night;s sleep.  New Zealand researchers found that kids ages 5 to 11 who clock less than 11 hours nightly are more likely to be obese adults.
5. Set an example.  A study from Yale University found that children whose parents encouraged them to exercise (and sometimes joined in) maintained healthier body weights.
6. Limit salt. The more sodium lids consume, the more they drink - often in the form of sodas and juices that pack on pounds. Stay under the maximum recommended sodium allowance (2,200 milligrams for kids ages 9 to 13).
7. Encourage kids to split entrees from the regular menu when dining out. Kids' meals are notoriously high in fat, calories, and sodium. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #98

The most important components that determines a student's overall academic achievements are the teacher's knowledge and expertise, socioeconomic status, and parental and social factors. Recent research finds that the most important factor that determines student achievement is the teacher's knowledge and expertise. This report proves that more money needs to be allocated for training and improving teacher instruction in our schools. That brings us to tip #98.

Tip #98: Make sure your child's teachers are highly qualified and a skilled instructor in the classroom, because all teachers are not equal.

It is not enough to just train teachers, but there must be support to see that the instruction and training is being implemented properly. Reading coaches, math coaches, and instructional specialist must continue to be trained and oversee professional development so that the latest researched strategies are being used correctly in the classroom.

Teachers who are unable to implement the new strategies and training, or unwilling to change current teaching methods, should be strongly encouraged to find a new profession. Research states that it really doesn't matter how many years a teacher has been in the classroom, but what makes the difference between an average teacher and a skilled and knowledgeable teacher is the willingness to train, change, and has a passion for teaching students. Today's teachers must be willing to plan and collaborate with other teachers and share ideas and materials. More importantly, because technology and students are changing so rapidly, the teacher must be willing to grow and meet all the changes.

With the positive partnership of parents, community members, a skilled faculty that continues to grow professionally, and the leadership of a supportive and visionary principal, all students should receive "The Best Education Possible".

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #97

Technology is developing so fast, and as the adults, it is important for us to keep up. That brings us to tip #97.

Tip #97: Make sure you understand and stay informed about all the technology your children are using.

As an elementary school teacher, some of my students have a lot of skills and knowledge using many new and different technologies. Therefore, in order to stay in a position of control and authority, it is important for me to continue growing and get the proper training to keep up with my students. Likewise. as parents, you must know as much or more than your children know about using technology. If you don't, things will go on in your home that you will have no control of. Cell phones, texting, blogging, facebook, are all avenues that young people utilize and must be supervised. We have more children getting disciplinary actions for using cell phones and texting than any other infraction. More arguments and fights start over what has been said on facebook or pictures downloaded on cell phones. Teach your child the proper uses of these tools and life at home and school will be better. Below are some of the dangers of technology your children need to be aware of:

1. Predators use the Internet to trap young victims.
2. Young people use blogging, texting , facebook to bully
3. Sharing sexual pictures (sexton) with boyfriends or girlfriends will end up a disaster if and when the relationship ends (when pictures have been made public it has cause some young people to commit suicide).
4. Some universities and colleges are now looking at facebook and other social networks during the application process.
5. Future employers are also looking at the social networks before hiring.
6. Once you put or someone else puts anything on the web it becomes public domain and can be used in many different ways.
7. Anything on the web can be seen worldwide and by anyone!  Therefore, make sure they understand the importance of protecting their honor and reputation.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #96

With all of the worries about the economy, families can still enjoy fun entertainment together and stay on a budget. Why not start a family game night? That brings us to tip #96.

Tip #96: Start a tradition of family game night.

Here are a few tips in getting started on a family fun filled night:
1. Schedule it. Decide in advance which day will be the family game night.
2. Involve everyone in the planning. Let your kids pick the games or choose the snack.
3. Create a tradition. Establish an activity on game night that becomes a family tradition. (ex. family-favorite dinner, how teams are chosen, or who gets the first turn)
4. Remind everyone. Set up reminders to make sure game night happens. Put a note in kids' lunchboxes. This can help build excitement.
5. Keep a family scoreboard. Have a special scoreboard and post the family member who won the last game on the board or create a family crown that can be worn at the family dinner before game night.
6. Mix it up with special guest. Invite other families and have a family game night tournament. Or invite extended family members. Just have fun.

Here are a few all-time favorites and new games to consider:
Kids 6-8 - Pictureka! Sorry! Sliders, Operation, Monopoly Jr.
Kids 8-10 - Clue, Monopoly, Cranium Family Edition, The Game of Life
Kids 10-12 - Monopoly, Yahzee, Clue
Families with teenagers - Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition, Scrabble, Cranium Wow, Jenga, Catch Phrase, Trivial Pursuit

For more game ideas, visit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How To Get The Best Education Possible: Tip #95

Learning how to manage money can start very early in a child's development. The reason so many families are in financial ruins is because they never truly understood how to make their money work for them. That brings us to tip #95.

Tip #95: Teach your child how to manage money.

There are some basic principles that every child should learn as soon as they start receiving financial gifts for birthdays, holidays, chores, or allowances. If you don't understand money take family financing courses at local community college, college Internet courses, self-help books, or any church or community financial courses. Below are 10 things your child should start as early as 3-5 years old and master by 18 years old.

1. How to save;
2. How to keep track of money;
3. how to get paid what you're worth;
4. How to spend wisely;
5. How to talk about money;
6. How to invest;
7. How to live on a budget;
8. How to exercise an entrepreneurial spirit;
9. How to handle credit; and,
10. How to use money to change the world

* list above from "Raising Financially Fit Kids," by Joline Godfrey.

About This Blog

This weblog seeks primarily to be a resource to parents and their children facilitating, "Empowerment & Personal Responsibility through Education."

This weblog is an extension of BestEducationPossible-theCommunity an online community dedicated to Parents and their efforts to empower their children through Education.

How to get the Best Education Possible for Your Child

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