Thursday, March 31, 2011

Building a Playground: Part 3

According to an article written by Valle Dwight, every school can have a fun and safe playground. Is your school's play structure worn out, even dangerous? This is day three of the instructions on getting that playground up and going. By following this step-by-step guide, you can create a play space so dazzling that even the coolest fifth graders will come out and play.

Find a vendor

Picking the right vendor is key, Stowe says, because you want to be sure to find a reliable product and good support. Stowe's committee researched companies online, checked their reviews, and talked with parent groups that had recently built playgrounds. To find vendors in your state, check the Member Directory of the International Playground Contractors Association.

After narrowing your search, invite the finalists for a site visit so you can hear their proposals and get their estimates. Make sure you're clear on the final price tag, which includes playground surface and other “hidden” costs that may not be included in the estimate. As with Stowe's group, look for a vendor that offered a fair price, good warranty, and had solid reviews and references.

Get ready to sweat!

Be sure you have your work crew lined up when groundbreaking day arrives. Your vendor can tell you how many workers you'll need and the kind of work required. (Do you need people skilled with tools, or is schlepping all that's required?) Then put out the call for volunteers. Stowe had around 70 volunteers divided into several shifts, and the project took an entire day. Some parents dug holes and carried equipment, some poured concrete and tightened bolts, others prepared food for volunteers. Local landscapers provided the finishing touches with donated labor and equipment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Building a Playground: Part 2

According to an article written by Valle Dwight, every school can have a fun and safe playground. Is your school's play structure worn out, even dangerous? This is day two of the instructions on getting that playground up and going.  By following this step-by-step guide, you can create a play space so dazzling that even the coolest fifth graders will come out and play.

Raising the money

New play structures can be pricey, so your group should start fundraising right away. If your school's PTO provides funds for school projects, that's the first place to start. The fundraising committee for Stowe's playground project also solicited local businesses, conducted a direct mail appeal, ran a can and bottle drive, organized a benefit concert, and threw a fund-raising dance that included a silent auction and raffle.

Along with community support, look for grants: For more grant-writing tips, go to the Peaceful Playgrounds website (look especially for information on the Department of Education Physical Education Progress grants). Companies such as Lowe's and State Farm Insurance provide playground construction grants. Or approach playground vendors directly and ask if they offer donations or discounts. For online fundraising, try, which provides a platform to describe your project and an easy way for donors to contribute.

Creating a plan

Next, decide what the new playground will look like. Stowe’s group went straight to the source: They asked kids to describe their dream playground. Many asked for swings and slides, but some had more elaborate requests, including swimming pools, hot tubs -- and even a flying pig. Stowe's committee also surveyed staff, teachers, and parents and visited other schools for ideas. Based on input from the entire school community, they created a playground plan.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Building a Playground: Part 1

According to an article written by Valle Dwight, every school can have a fun and safe playground. Is your school's play structure worn out, even dangerous? By following this step-by-step guide, you can create a play space so dazzling that even the coolest fifth graders will come out and play.

 School playgrounds: essential for learning

We know that play makes kids healthier, smarter and more creative. But tight budgets often make improving school playground equipment a low priority compared to hiring a teacher or buying supplies.

So what’s a parent to do? Do what Massachusetts mother Lisa Stowe did: Team up with other parents and teachers and do it yourself.

“The playground was sorry-looking,” Stowe recalls. The equipment came from a school that had closed down; parts of the structure were literally held together by duct tape and the swing sets were bent.

Stowe shares her blueprint for playground renovation – accomplished in a single school year.

Calling all parents!

Start by talking with your school’s administrators to get their support. The project may require school board approval, depending on the district. Next, recruit parent volunteers. Start now by sharing this article with five friends or teachers who you want to join your cause. Stowe made a presentation at her school’s fall picnic and passed around a sign-up sheet. You can also get the word out through your school's parent group, list serve, school newsletter, or just by calling other parents.

Twelve parents volunteered for Stowe's playground project. The group began meeting every two weeks and broke into three subgroups: a design group (to design the playground), a fundraising group, and a site group (to prepare the site and oversee installation). Their goal was ambitious: to raise $50,000 and complete the playground renovation by the end of the school year.

Tomorrow we will look at raising the money and creating a plan for the playground.

Monday, March 28, 2011

For The Love of Books

A love of books is a lifelong asset, but in the digital age, it can be hard to keep kids' eyes on the page amid the distractions of Xbox and YouTube.  So, in the April 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping , they asked parents, How do you nurture a love of reading in your kids? Below are some of the ideas and answers parents gave:

1. "I let him pick a new book instead of a toy every time we go toWalmart.  It's something he gets excited about, and we read it to him before bed." - Sarah Hunt-Martinez (mm of one, age 19 months)

2. "My son loved cars even before he was a year old.  I began with colorful, simple car-story picture books till age2, followed with longer car stories, and then gradually introduced him to lots of varied stories.  We started with a theme, and the rest all fell in place!" - Anushi Batra (mom of one, age 4)

3. "I've taken them to the library since they were babies.  They'd pick any kids' book they wanted, even if it looked weird to me.  Now that they're in school, their teacher require them to read at least 20 minutes a night, but I make it 40 minutes.  Sometimes we forget to check the clock, and they end up reading for an hour." - Becky Lee ( mom of two, ages 9 and 10)

4. "Continue to read to them after they can read on their own.  Kids still love to be read to." - Janice Cammarata (mom of two, ages 27 and 29)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Getting Enough Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

According to an article in the April 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, if you're trying to lose weight, it may be time to go to bed.  In a University of Chicago study of overweight adults following a balanced, restricted-calorie diet, subjects lost 55 percent more weight as fat (almost two pounds) after two weeks when they slept for 8.5 hours each night compared with a period of sleeping only 5.5 hours.  When you're short on shut-eye, study authors say, your body produces more ghrelin, one of the hunger hormones.  To keep munchies at bay, sleep for however long it takes you to feel well rested in the A.M.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Milk Myths

Don't be fooled by what you hear about milk.  According to Samantha B. Cassetty, M.S., R.D., GHRI Nutrition Director, the latest legends about milk are as followed:

1. Whole milk has more calcium than fat-free.  Actually, the opposite is true.  A cup of whole milk has slightly less (276 mg) than fat-free (299 mg). But what you'll see on the carton label for either type is that a cup delivers 30 percent of your Daily Value for calcium, which is based on a rounded-off figure of 300 mg.

2. Raw milk is better for you than pasteurized. Devotees credit raw milk with curing eczema, IBS, and many other ills. But science is lacking, and unless you want to risk food poisoning, the FDA says, buy milk that has undergone pasteurization, which kills harmful bacteria while leaving nutrients intact.

3. Regular milk has the most vitamin D. Nope. The FDA limits the amount of D that can be added to cow's milk to 100 IU per cup, so it provides less of your Daily Value (25 percent) than soy milk (30 percent), which doesn't fall under the same regulations.  But both are still excellent sources of the vitamin.

4. Almond milk is a good substitute for cow's milk. Not when it comes to protein. A cup of milk has 8 grams. More protein than a large hard-boiled egg, while almond milk has just 1 gram of this hunger-buster.  Nuts are high in protein, but the first ingredient in almond milk is filtered water, not almonds.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mind Versus Music

According to an article in the April 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, listening to music has plenty of benefits, but helping kids memorize isn't one of them, say researchers from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.  Students were more likely to recall a list of letters in a specific order that they would memorized in silence than a list they would studied with music on.  The result were the same, regardlesss of whether or not they liked the songs.  For a boost, have kids use their iPods before a big test or competition.  Researchers suggust it may actually improve some kinds of performance.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Khan Academy

Today, a colleague of mine introduced me to an outstanding Web site that teaches math lessons that are interactive and fun.  The beautiful thing about this Web site is that it is free and has video tutorials for the taking in basic math, advanced math, banking, science, and much more.  Just take a minute and visit Khan Academy and you will be totally amazed.  Below is the information on this valuable resource that now Bill Gates has recognized and supports.

Khan Academy
The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

How it works for students

Students can make use of our extensive video library, practice exercises, and assessments from any computer with access to the web.  Coaches, parents, and teachers have unprecedented visibility into what their students are learning and doing on the Khan Academy.

It is truly worth your time! Just google Khan Academy or go to .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Math Activity: Part 2

Yesterday I posted the first 5 steps to a math activity.  Below are the next 5 steps to that activity.  According to an article in the Spring 2011 issue of Instructor Magazine, numbers are everywhere, but do our children really notice.

1. Help start a discussion about the project from yesterday. If your child is having trouble explaining the purpose of his or her number, break it into steps. For example, “What is this a picture of?” (a ruler.) “When do we use rulers?” (To measure things.) “So what do the numbers tell us?” (How long.)

2. If your child is more advanced, you might have him or her write the question each number answers (e.g., “How much does it weigh?”), while less advanced children would record the number’s purpose in more general terms (e.g., “weight”).

3. Come together as a family and tell your child, “I’m going to tack up these cards. Let’s sort the pictures of the numbers by the way those numbers are used. I have some blank cards in case I need to make new ones.”

4. Invite each family member to share about his or her picture and then add it to the collection of pictures. As the members of the family describe their numbers, you might need to help them restate the purpose in order to fit the most appropriate category with the rest of the pictures.

5. Encourage you child to comment on the other pictures. If your child agrees with where the other family members place their pictures they can signal with a thumbs up. If the disagree, they should explain why.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Math Activity: Part 1

According to an article in the spring 2011 issue of Instructor Magazine, numbers are everywhere, but do our children really notice. Below is a fun activity for teaching math to your child:

1. Take photos of various numbers around your neighborhood. For example, you might include road signs, house addresses, and numbers on food packages. Print these out with your child. There should be enough photos for everyone in the family.
2. Begin by talking about numbers. Ask your child, “Why do we have numbers? What are they for? What do numbers tell us?” Share some of your photos and discuss the purposes of the numbers in them. (For example, a speed limit sign tells us how fast we can go.)
3. Introduce the idea that numbers answer questions. If your child volunteers that numbers are in prices, for example, you might ask, “What question do numbers in prices answer?” (How much does it cost?) Record these questions on note cards for later use.
4. Give each family member a photo and recording sheet. Explain that you’d like students to write the purpose of their numbers on the sheet, and then share their thoughts with the family. Each member should record the purpose of each member’s number.
5. Allow your child and a family partner 10-15 minutes to work together. This activity leads itself well to group your child with someone more advanced to help in their thinking.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten?

According to an article from Parent Education Resource, if children are ready for kindergarten, it can be a wonderful experience that makes them feel good about themselves, good about school, and eager to learn.

But if children aren't ready, beginning school can be confusing and embarassing, even frightening. Both boys and girls can start to feel bad about themselves, to dislike school, and not do as well as they could. This can happen if a child hasn't been to any school before, is new to the neighborhood or the country, or speaks a different language than most of the other children. Once a child feels this way, it can be very hard to change.

Many children also go to school unprepared because their parents, or others who care for them, are not aware of what children need to know to be ready for school, and that parents, themselves, are the best people to teach these things to children.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The Kindergarten Survival Handbook was written to help parents understand what children need to know, and how they, themselves, can become children's best, as well as their first and most important, teachers.

Copyright © Parent Education Resources

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ginger Can Assist In Your Workouts

According to an article written by Samantha B. Cassetty, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Director for GHRI, if working out leaves you sore, you may want to try something new and old.  University of Georgia researchers had 74 volunteers take either a ginger supplement or a placebo for 11 days; when, on day eight, participants were subjected to a muscle-taxing workout, the ginger group ad 25 percent less pain than the sham-pill takers.  The spice, a staple of traditional medicine, functions chemically in much the same way as anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen and naproxen, the researchers believe.  But ginger could deliver even more pain relief, with potentially fewer side effects.  The reseachers' Rx: 2 grams daily.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sweet News For Dieters

According to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, sugar substitutes do not lead to hunger or overeating, as some have worried.  When volunteers were given a lab-formulated snack prepared with either aspartame (the sweetener in Equal) or stevia, they did not feel less full than a control group whose snack had real sugar.  Plus, the sugar-sub groups were no hungrier as the hours passed and, most important, did not eat more at later meals.

I personally, would still use sugar substitutes sparingly until more studies show the health risk and advantages of using these substitutues.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Get Organized: Part 5

In the January 2011 issue of Better Homes and Garden, Berit Thorkeloson suggest that you make this year a year to get organized. These expert tips will help you shed all that unwanted stuff as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is also a great way to show your kids how to get and stay organized. Below are 5 more tips:

1. Is your linen closet overflowing? Pare down your stock to three towels and wash clothes per person, two sets of sheets per bed, plus a set of each for guest.  Now you will have more room in your linen closet.
Laura Wittmann
2. Procrastination breeds clutter.  Institute a do-it-now policy for a few highly visible everyday tasks.  For example, loading the dishwasher or folding and putting away a load of laundry before starting another.
Aby Garvey
3. Designate a separate, labeled bag for each regularly scheduled activity, lesson, or sport on your family calendar.  Pack the bags with the necessary gear, and hang them on hooks in a handy spot.  Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch.
4. If toys are overrunning yor house, quietly tuck a few of them away in a box.  If kids ask for a specific item, retrieve it.  After a month, donate what's left in the box.  Scott Roewer
5. Attics, basements, and garages tend to harbor lots of items you haven't seen or used in a while, which also makes them prime candidates for purging.  Clear them first so when you tackle your living areas, you'll have storage space waiting.  Debbie Lillard

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Get Organized: Part 4

In the January 2011 issue of Better Homes and Garden, Berit Thorkeloson suggest that you make this year a year to get organized. These expert tips will help you shed all that unwanted stuff as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is also a great way to show your kids how to get and stay organized. Below are 5 more tips:

1. If you're having trouble letting go of clutter, whether it's too many things in your house or too many things in your house or too many commitments eating up your time, think about what it requires you to sacrifice.  Less stuff means less to organize and less money spent.  Fewer activites means less running around and more family time.  Laura Wittmann, author of Clutter Rehab
2. "Go clean your roo," can mean lots of things, Give your kids a list of exactly what you expect, and let them check off the task as they are done."  Scott Roewer
3. Fit a cardboard banker's box with 13 poscket folders.  At the end of the school year, go through your child's artwork and school papers together to select only as many favorites as will fit in one folder.  memories from an entire school career will fit neatly on a shelf.  Julie Morgenstern
4. Keep a folder labeled "Tax Documents" where you sort your mail.  as statements come in, slip them into the folder.  When tax time comes, everything you need is in one spot.  Meredith Schwartz
5. Perform daily triage on incoming papers and mail.  Set up a desktop file box or wall-mounted file holder, with three folders: To Read, To Do, and To File.  Sort the keepers into one of the categories, then recycle the rest.  Schedule a weekly tiem to deal with the contents of each folder.  Laura Wittmann

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get Organized: Part 3

In the January 2011 issue of Better Homes and Garden, Berit Thorkeloson suggest that you make this year a year to get organized. These expert tips will help you shed all that unwanted stuff as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is also a great way to show your kids how to get and stay organized. Below are 5 more tips:

1. Tackle your junk drawer first.  Remove anything your don't use at least monthly, then sort what's left into the compartments of a drawer organized that completely fills the drawer.  You won't have room to stash things that don't belong there.
2. Every time you arrive home, clear the car of anything that doesn't permanently belong in it.  Keep a tote or basket in the car for this purpose, and draft your passengers to help.  Nobody leaves the car empty-handed! Stay vigilant, and it'll become second nature.
3. Make clutter-busting a family game.  Write tasks on Ping-Pong balls.  Each person chooses a ball, completes the task, then chooses another one.  After 30 minutes, whoever has the most balls gets a prize, like a no-chores day or control of the TV remote.  Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch authors of Pretty Next: Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection
4.Get creative with storage containers.  Try a ceramic egg tray for paper clips and rubber bands, a tackle box for crafts supplies; a napkin holder for incoming mail; and a garden tote for kids' art supplies.
5. Make tow coffee dates with a good friend. One the first one, go through her kitchen cabinets to identify and get rid of clutter (lidless plastic containers, mismatched glasses, petrified spatulas, etc.) On the second date, do the same in your kitchen. Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch

Monday, March 14, 2011

Get Organized: Part 2

In the January 2011 issue of Better Homes and Garden, Berit Thorkeloson suggest that you make this year a year to get organized. These expert tips will help you shed all that unwanted stuff as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is also a great way to show your kids how to get and stay organized. Below are 5 more tips:

1. Create a repair center for clothes that need mending, toys that need batteries, things that need gluing.  That way, unusable items aren't in general circulation, and you know where to look when you have time to tackle a project.  Julie Morgenstern
2. Relegating a sentimental item you no longer have use for to a box in the closet, basement, or attic does nothing to honor it.  Instead, take a photo of the item and put it in a scrapbook or load it on your digital picture frame.  Then donate the item.  It's both space-saving and respectful.
3. Each spring and fall, do CPR on your closet: Categorize, Purge, and Rearrange, Carefully consider each item.  If it doesn't make you feel wonderful or look fabulous, it's a no.  Put it in the "to donate" box, and put that box in your car right away.  Debbie Lillard, author of Absolutely Organized
4. A tighter focus for your to-do list clears mental clutter.  Include only your three most important tasks, and don't let less important busywork distract your.  If you complete everything on your list, great.  If not, at least you'll know you spent time on the hightest-priority tasks.  Meredith Schwartz
5. I spend a few minutes every night before bed restoring order to my purse.  I remove all trash, return floating change to my wallet, and replenish tissues and business cards.  it makes me feel ready to start my day.  Claire Kurtz

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Get Organized: Part 1

In the January 2011 issue of Better Homes and Garden, Berit Thorkeloson suggest that you make this year a year to get organized.  These expert tips will help you shed all that unwanted stuff as quickly and painlessly as possible.  It is also a great way to show your kids how to get and stay organized.  Below are the first 5 tips:
1. Every three months or so, reserve on Saturday morning for a family cleanout.  Set a timer for 30 minutess and have each person find things in his or her own space to donate or throw away.  Box up the donations and drop them off right away, then reward yourselves with lunch out. - Meredith Schwartz,
2. Avoid zigzag organizing. Scattering your efforts over multiple rooms prevents you from seeing progress. For visible, dramatic results, work one room at a time, one section at a time, completing each area before you move on to the next. Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing fro the Inside Out.
3. When you're trying to decide whether to keep something, ask yourself three questions: Do I love it? Do I use it? Could someone else use it? Claire Kurtz,
4. A system that's a natural extension of your habits is easier to stick with than one that forces dramatic change.  So set up solutions right where clutter collects, such as a labeled pail for each family member's shoes and other equipment in a bookshelf right by the front door.
5 Give frequently accessed papers (take-out menus, sports schedules, phone directories) a dedicated spot, rather than in a pile on the counter or stuck to the fridge.  Three-hole-punch all that paper, and store it in a pretty binder with labeled tabs. Aby Garvey,

I feel it is extremely important to be organized in order that our child learn to be organized in life.  For the rest of the week, I will share more expert organizing tips.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kids and Asthma

According to an article in the December 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, you don't have to cut them out completely, eating three or more of the Hamburglar's favorite food each week may make kids more likely to develop asthma.  Researchers from Germany, Spain, and Britain studied 50,000 children 8 to 12 across the globe and found that adhering to a Mediterranean diet (one that emphasizes healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables) may give kids some protection against asthma. Researchers say it's not the beef in the burgers that's at fault; rather, a Western diet rich in Big Macs is likely to lack the components fa healthy meal plan that help stave off breathing issues.  To help protect your child, know that vitamin C-rich foods have been linked to better lung function and lower asthma rates; omega-3 fats found in fish may help prevent allergies and asthma, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Raising Resilient Kids

In an article written by Louisa Kamps in the December 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, it states that "People who end up being most successful in life are those who experienced some adversity in childhood and learned how to cope".  Below are four simple moves that will nurture a bounce-back kid, from John Scadina, a school psychologist and parent in City Island, New York.

1. Give your child the reins: When your child is talking about a tough situation, let her finish, then say, "This must be really tough." Pause. "What are you going to do about it?  The key here is to show you are tuned in by acknowledging the pain the child is feeling, but ultimately turn it back on your child to handle it.
2. Cast a vote of confidence: As your child formulates a plan, give your child a boost by saying, " see someone who is caring," or "...strong," or ...good at x, y, z." Reflecting the child assets back to their helps them realize they are capable of handling the situation, tough as it may be at first. "Say, I know you can handle the, but if you need help, let me know, says Scardina. "Then leave them on their own."
3. Create a gratitude list: Help a kid going trough a tough phase count his blessings and cultivate optimism: Have your family post a gratitude list of five to ten things to be grateful for.  The message: These good things in life are here to stay, regardless of challenging situations.  When your child is feeling low, remind him to look over his list.
4. Call in the professionals: If your child has hit a rough patch and experiences sleep or appetite disruptions or lethargy, or you notice a change in relationships with family and friends, it may be time to have a therapist step in.  Ask your pediatrician, family practitioner, religious leader, or school guidance counselor for references.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How To Motivate Our Children In Mathematics

According to Jo Boaler, author of, What’s Math Go To Do With It, all children start life being excited by mathematics, and parents can become wonderful resource for the encouragement of their thinking. Mathematical ideas that may seem obvious to us, such as the fact that you can count a set of objects, move them around, and then count them again and you get the same number, are fascinating to young children.

If you give children of any ages a set of pattern blocks or Cuisenaire rods and just watch them, you will see them do all sorts of mathematical things, such as ordering the rods, putting them into shapes, and making repeating patterns. At these times parents need to be around to marvel with their children, to encourage their thinking, and to give them other challenges. One of the best things parents can do to develop their children’s mathematical interest is to provide mathematical settings and to explore mathematical patterns and ideas with them. All children start their lives motivated to come up with their own ideas about mathematics and other things, and one of the most important things a parent can do is to nurture this motivation.

Below are some ideas to help encourage children to think mathematical and creatively:

1. Colored beads of different shapes and string
2. Nuts, bolts, washers, and colored tape
3. Cards from the game SET
4. Dice of various colors
5. Snap cubes of various colors
6. A square lattice grid with colored pegs
7. Sticks of different unit lengths with eyelets and string
8. Measuring cups with simple fraction volumes and a bowl of water
9. Pine cones of various shapes and sizes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Loving Math?

According to Jo Boaler, author of What’s Math Got to Do With It?, far too many students in America hate math and for many it is source of anxiety and fear. In a recent international assessment of mathematics performance conducted in forty countries across the world, the U.S. ranked a lowly twenty-eight. When the level of spending in education was taken into account, the U.S. sank to the bottom of the forty countries.

Interest in mathematics is declining. For example, at Stanford University, the average number of math majors over the past ten years was sixteen out of approximately 1,470 students each year. Across the United States the number of mathematics majors at four-year colleges dropped by 19 percent over the same period of time.

Nonresident aliens received approximately 44 percent of all master’s degrees and 35 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering, mathematics, and information science in the United States.

Tomorrow, I will share Jo Boaler’s tips on giving our children the “best mathematical start”.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is Your Child Being Bullied?

Don't be blind to signs that your child might be being bullied.  Below is an article from, written by a mother of a middle school boy and their experiences with bullying:

The Illinois mother of a seventh-grade boy writes, "I am currently involved in stopping bullying behaviors that are directed at my son. Last year, in his 6th grade year, he was being bullied and I did not know. He had constant headaches, wanted to stay home often, did not want to walk home from school (6 blocks away) and I did not put the scenario together. I took him to the doctor for headaches and thought he just did not want to walk home. When I discovered this year that he was being bullied last year, I was hurt. I felt like I was not a good parent and that my husband should have caught the signs. This year I am not the same mother. There is a bullying prevention program called Olweus that the school has adopted. But no matter how great the program, the child must be willing to tell. Children have a code of silence that is developed through fear and not wanting to tattle. My son is telling me what is going on this time and I have him report it to the teacher. I follow that conversation up because some teachers will drop the ball. I have the assistant principal involved and if it is not resolved immediately, I will involve the principal and then the legal system (press charges) if needed. Our children should not be victimized at school. Schools must have a safe, nurturing, educational environment. Sometimes I wonder at outbreaks of violence in schools around the country and what could have happened differently if the parents were more involved in their children's lives, not only at home, but in school also. How do you stop a bully? It has to be a joint collaboration between parents and the school."

There must be policies and procedures in place that students can safely report bullying.  Students must understand that bullying will not be tolerated and there will be harsh consequences for bullying.  Role playing and discussions about exactly what is considered bullying must be part of the curriculum.  It is a serious problem that no child should have to put up with.  Ask the principal or guidance counselor how bullying is handled at your child school and look for signs if you feel your child is suffering from bullying. Make sure your child is aware of the help available if being bullied. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

10 Cool Facts About the Heart

The more you and your children know about your bodies and health, the better you can live healthy and strong.  Below are 10 cool facts you can teach your child about the heart according to the Website: 
1. A child's heart is roughly the size of his fist

2. The heart circulates the blood supply about 1,000 times each day

3. The heart pumps the equivalent of 5,000 to 6,000 quarts of blood per day

4. If the blood vessels in the body were joined end to end, they would circle the Earth two and an half times

5. most women's hearts beat faster than men's

6. Scientists have found that laughing is good for your heart

7. Ancient Egyptians believed intelligence stemmed from the heart

8. Blood is almost 80 percent water

9. The heart begins to beat just four weeks after conception

10. You could drive a truck 20 miles using the energy created by the heart in one day

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Diabetes: Are You At Risk?

It is so important to take care of yourself, but many times we are unaware there is something wrong.  According to an article in the November 2010 issue of Better Home and Gardens, most people with pre-diabetes experience no symptoms.  The following signs could mean you're at risk.  If any of these apply to you (especially if you are 45 or older), ask your doctor about glucose testing.

1. A body mass index of 25 or highter (go to for a BMI calculator)
2. Exercising for fewer than 20 minutes three time per week
3. An immediate family member with diabetes
4. High blood pressure
5. Low HDL ("good") cholesteraol or high triglycerides
6. Polycystic ovary syndrome
7. Gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby weighing more than pounds
8. Being of African-American , American  Indian, Hispanic, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander descent

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Eating Rights Can Help Prevent a Cold

According to an article written by Susan McQuillan, and  reviewed by QualityHealth's Medical Advisory Board, eating the right foods can help prevent a cold or, at the very least, help you feel better and get well quickly.
More than 500 million cases of the common cold and similar non-flu respiratory infections are reported every year in the United States and, in fact, the rhinovirus that causes colds is the most common infectious disease in humans worldwide. Yet we can't cure it, and in spite of a plethora of over-the-counter and prescription cold medications available, we can just barely relieve the symptoms. That's why prevention is still considered the best medicine.

There are many ways to fight off a cold, including good hygiene (wash your hands often during cold season!), staying away from people who are already infected, and reducing stress to help keep your immune system strong. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids every day, something we often forget to do in cold weather. You can also eat to beat the common cold by including plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and other immunity-boosting foods, in your diet every day.

Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Using vitamin C supplements to prevent or treat a cold is controversial because clinical studies have shown mixed results. One Japanese study, published in a 2006 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that vitamin C helps reduce the number of colds but not their duration, and does not reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Using supplements may be controversial, but eating healthy food never is. That's why it's a good idea to get plenty of vitamin C and other antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables. Those that are particularly high in vitamin C include citrus fruit, cranberries, sweet red and green peppers, mango, kiwi, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and leafy green vegetables,. Lother good sources are fruit and vegetable juices fortified with vitamin C.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Parents Can Support Reading Skills

In an article from the Winter 2011, Instructor magazine, the authors give ideas on how to get parents on board with supporting reading skills. Below are suggestions from that article.

Parents want to help with reading, but sometimes barriers may exist:
-Long work days
-The ghost of their own school failures
-Insecurities with English
-Not knowing other parents or teachers at the school that can help
-The attitude that the teacher is the one expected to take care of school issues
-Parents not understanding how to use phonics and the only focusing on correcting of individual words, which discourages the child

What can parents do?
-Try seeing reading with new eyes
-Encourage your children as they discover how reading works
-Get read-alouds for your child which are available from the library
-If you don’t read English well, use emergent readers written in your home language
-Get comfortable meeting your child’s teacher and other parents
-Ask someone to go with you until you to any meetings until you are comfortable

Deborah Corpus and Ann Giddings suggest the following titles to help you as parents assist your children in having a lifelong love for reading.

Below are some favorite books that have help in working with parents and reading.
1. The Read-Aloud Handbook, By Jim Trelease
2. Raising Lifelong Learners: A Parent’s Guide, By Lucy Calkins
3. Reading Begins at Home, By Dorothy Butler and Marie Clay
4. The Partners’ Handbook, By Debby Charna and Wendy Rosush Reading at Home

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Music Enriches Education

The arts are very important for the enrichment of any child’s education. Sadly, when funding is cut, the arts are one of the first things to go. According to an article by Rob Baedeker there are seven advantages for students having music as a part of education. A 2008 study by the Center on Education Policy found a narrowing of school curricula had resulted in a significant shift away from arts and music programs nationwide: since 2001-2002, 16 percent of elementary school districts have reduced their instructional time in arts and music.

Such cuts to music education are particularly ironic given the growing body of research that underscores how music engages many of same areas of the brain involved in language processing, memory, and other critical thinking skills essential for academic success. Music also appears to benefit kids socially and emotionally.

Here are seven areas where studies have shown the benefits of music to kids' education and development:

1. Language processing: Several recent studies suggest that the brain processes music and language in similar ways, and that training in music may have benefits for language-related skills.

2. Memory: The benefits of music training appear to extend to memory, too. A 2003 study by researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong found that children with musical training showed better verbal memory than their peers.

3. Math: If you've ever tried to read even a simple piece of music — or bang a drum in time to a beat, you know that music requires you to perform mathematical processes (like division) on the fly. But research has also shown a link between music education and success in school mathSelf-

4. Awareness: Dr. Frank Wilson, a neurologist and an authority on the relationship of hand use to human cognitive development, explains that the study of music teaches children to "self assess," rather than to rely on external rewards. While much of our schooling focuses on grades and prizes, music can foster an internal motivation.

5. Social skills: Takako Fujioka, of the Rotman Research Institute, points out that the benefits of playing music go beyond academic applications: "When you participate in music in a community or a school, you develop shared memories during musical activities. It's a bonding experience." That bonding can also develop kids' ability to work together.

6. Academic success: With all the benefits that music brings to kids' language, math, memory and self-assessment, it's little surprise that there is a strong correlation between music and general academic success. Studies have shown that students in music programs scored higher in English and math than students who had no music at all, and high school students with music training scored higher than their non-musical peers on the SAT, according to the College Board

7. Long-term success: Students with music training tend to rank higher in common measures of long-term success such as educational attainment and income: a 2007 poll by Harris Interactive found that nearly nine out of ten people with post -graduate education had participated in music while in school, and 83 percent of those with incomes of $150,000 or more had had music education.

There was a mother, Marion Atherton,  from California who wanted music at her son's school after music was discontinued because of buget cuts.  Marion efforts to integrate music into the early grades at her child's school were ultimately successful. She applied and received a grant from the California Arts Council to bring in a music teacher for regular instruction. The schools' teachers who would be adding music to their classrooms initially were wary. After all, already they had more lesson plans and requirements than they could cover in a given school day.

"The teachers were a little resistant at first," Atherton recalls, "but over time they actually became hugely supportive of it. They saw how it gave certain kids a confidence or a joy they didn't see in other ways. And it was a great way for a classroom to feel a sense of community — and that carried over into the other things their classroom did."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as the beloved Dr. Seuss, was born in 1904 on Howard Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. Ted's father, Theodor Robert, and grandfather were brewmasters in the city. His mother, Henrietta Seuss Geisel, often soothed her children to sleep by "chanting" rhymes remembered from her youth. Ted credited his mother with both his ability and desire to create the rhymes for which he became so well known.

March 2nd  is "Read Across America Day". This day was started by the National Education Association in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday. According to an article from PBS, here are ten tips for growing bookworms:

1. Reading aloud to your child (even before birth) as often as possible. Continue to read aloud with your children even after they can read on their own.
2. Read aloud in a comfortable and safe environment.
3. Reading aloud will increase your child's vocabulary.
4. Reading aloud increase a child's attention span.
5. Reading aloud makes children realize reading is important.
6. It is important for Dads and male caregivers to participate in reading aloud. It shows the boys that reading isn't just for girls.
7. For older children, start a book club of reading aloud or listening to audio books together. Stop and discuss interesting parts. It can be an enjoyable time together.
8. Reading aloud is a special time to spend with young children that creates lasting memories.
9. Children that are read aloud to do better in school.
10. Celebrate "Read Across America Day and get your child a library card and start reading aloud today.

To get more ideas on "Getting the Best Education Possible", order my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6Th Grades". Order on or .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ADHD: Part 2

Yesterday in an article from the Good Morning America show on ADHD, the studied showed that 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.

“This study used quantitative measures to support past qualitative findings that motor overflow persists to a greater degree in children with ADHD than in typically developing peers,” said Dr. Mostofsky. “The findings reveal that even at an unconscious level, these children are struggling with controlling and inhibiting unwanted actions and behavior. Studying motor control weakness gives us a window to understanding the similar challenges that children with ADHD face in controlling more complex behavior, which can lead to improved diagnosis and treatment.”

In a second study, the researchers investigated motor control in children with ADHD further by measuring activity within the motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement. Researchers used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to apply mild magnetic pulses for brief durations to trigger muscle activity in the hand, causing hand twitches. Researchers performed 60 trials, with single or paired pulses to measure the level of muscle activity and monitored the resulting brain activity, called short interval cortical inhibition (SICI). Overall, children with ADHD showed a substantial decrease in SICI, with significantly less inhibition of motor activity during the paired pulse stimulation compared to typically developing children. The degree of inhibition in children with ADHD, measured by SICI, was 40 percent less than typically developing children. Furthermore, within the ADHD group, less motor inhibition (decreased SICI) correlated with more severe symptoms. The measure of SICI not only predicted motor impairment in ADHD children but also robustly predicted their behavioral symptoms as reported by parents. The findings suggest that reduced SICI may be a critical biomarker of ADHD.

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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.

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