Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Students to See Healthier School Lunches Under New USDA Rules: Part 2

Students to See Healthier School Lunches Under New USDA Rules

By Sylvia Wood, msnbc.com

Millions of schoolchildren in the United States will see more fruit and vegetables and less fat on their lunch plates under new U.S. Department of Agriculture standards unveiled Wednesday aimed at improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.

Statistics show that about 17 percent of U.S. children and teenagers are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But whether the kids will choose to eat the new, healthier foods remains to be seen. The new menus won't entirely eliminate favorite food choices among kids, like pizza and french fries, but they will provide alternatives. For example, instead of cheese pizza, students will receive whole wheat cheese pizza. Rather than tater tots, students will get baked sweet potato fries.

"We know if it’s not delicious, kids aren’t going to eat it," said White House Chef Sam Kass. But he added that thousands of schools have already implemented many of the required changes and their chefs are making progress in designing appealing menus. "We're working very hard on that," he said.

Wendy Weyer, director of nutrition services for Seattle Public Schools, said her district is already complying with many of the new USDA standards, and taking other steps, such as having partnerships with local farmers and planting school gardens. "Seattle has been very progressive with changing the way we offer meals, offering fruits and vegetables every day, as well as whole grain-rich foods," she said.

Weyer said the biggest challenge will be reducing sodium content, "while keeping the meals palatable for our students."

Weyer said the biggest challenge will be reducing sodium content, "while keeping the meals palatable for our students."

Pratt-Heavner said parents will play an important role in supporting the new standards. ”We all have to work to get the kids to make these healthier choices,” she said. “Students are more apt to pick up a fruit or vegetable in the lunch line if they have been introduced to those foods at home.”

To support the changes, schools will receive another 6 cents per meal in federal funding, and the overall cost of implementing the new requirements is projected at $3.2 billion. To help minimize costs, schools will also have more flexibility in designing the school lunch line to reduce waste, Concannon said. Students, for example, will be allowed to pick and choose more items as they move through the line, rather than getting a plate served to them.

Weyer said the Seattle school district still needs to determine how far the additional money will go to cover the new requirements.

"It's not going to cover all the cost, but it's definitely going to help," Pratt-Heavner said.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Students to See Healthier School Lunches Under New USDA Rules: Part 1

Students to See Healthier School Lunches Under New USDA Rules

By Sylvia Wood, msnbc.com

Millions of schoolchildren in the United States will see more fruit and vegetables and less fat on their lunch plates under new U.S. Department of Agriculture standards unveiled Wednesday aimed at improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.

"Improving the quality of the school meals is a critical step in building a healthy future for our kids," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "When it comes to our children, we must do everything possible to provide them the nutrition they need to be healthy, active and ready to face the future – today we take an important step towards that goal."

The changes mark the first overhaul of the school lunch program in more than 15 years and will affect the nearly 32 million children who eat at school. The new regulations will be phased in over the next three years, starting in the fall.

“We strongly support the regulations,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokeswoman for the Maryland-based School Nutrition Association. “The new nutrition standards for school meals are great news for kids.”

Under the new regulations, schools will be required to offer fruits and vegetables every day, increase the amount of whole-grain foods and reduce the sodium and fats in the foods served. Schools will also be required to offer only fat-free or low-fat milk. In addition, the menus will pay attention to portion sizes to make sure children receive calories appropriate to their age, according to Kevin Concannon, USDA under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Teen Drivers: A Parent's Guide: Part 2

Teen drivers: A Parent's Guide

Your insurance will spike when your youngster gets a license, no question. But your kid's grades, the type of car, driver training and other factors affect what you'll pay.

It is almost always cheaper to add teenagers to an existing policy than to exclude them and instead buy an additional car and insure that, says CarInsurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner.

Not-so-hot wheels
If your household has several cars, it can help to have your new driver assigned to a specific one -- the one that's cheapest to insure.

If your child will have a car of his or her own, one place to start when looking for a car is the IIHS website, which lists insurance losses by make and model for vehicles built prior to 2010. Those vehicles with lower auto insurance losses will typically have lower auto insurance rates, while providing more protection if your teen is in a crash, Rader says.

The site also has a listing of the IIHS's top safety picks for 2011 and older model years.
Compare car loans
June Walbert, a Certified Financial Planner for USAA, says a vehicle with a "bigger, faster engine costs more money to insure and more money to repair."

And just having a car with a powerful engine can be a temptation, Walbert says. "If you have that kind of power available, perhaps you'll use it." Instead, she recommends four-door sedans and crossover vehicles.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teen Drivers: A Parent's Guide: Part 1

Teen Drivers: A Parent's Guide
According to an article from http://www.msn.money.com/ , your insurance will spike when your youngster gets a license, no question. But your kid's grades, the type of car, driver training and other factors affect what you'll pay.  Adding a teenage driver to your car insurance policy will raise your rates. But you can control how much they'll climb.

1. Having teens drive a Camry rather than a Corvette, encouraging them to make good grades, and urging them to keep their driving records clean can all have a major impact on rates.

"Putting your teen in a big, boring vehicle is going to be a lot easier on the wallet than giving them the zippy small car they may want," says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

There is a reason teenagers cost more to insure.

2. New drivers are among the most dangerous on the road, racking up tickets and accidents at rates several times the rate of a typical driver.

Teen drivers likelier to crash in first month of driving
A teenager does not have to drive. Bicycles and bus passes are cheaper, if you live in a place where that's feasible.  But if it's not, here is what every parent needs to know about the cheapest ways to insure a teenager.

Yes, you have to insure your teen driver
3. Virtually every insurer will require that all licensed family members in a household be included on your policy, whether they drive your cars or not. You should let the insurer know when the child gets his or her learner's permit, but typically the teen isn't listed (or your policy charged) until he or she is licensed.

If you are divorced and have only part-time custody of your child, you'll have to consult your insurance company. Each company has its own rules. The best case is that the parent with primary custody adds the new driver; the worst case is that both parents do.

The only way to avoid paying the premium for a teenage driver on your own car is a named exclusion. Through an endorsement to your policy, you and your insurer agree that the driver is not covered. Any claim caused by that driver isn't covered, either.

Your teen could insure his or her own car, but state laws governing teen ownership of cars differ widely. In general, a minor cannot own property or sign contracts, such as an insurance agreement, without a parent's consent and signature.

Tomorrow will continue the tips for teen driving safety.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tip #51: Take Your Children to the Public Library and Get Them a Library Card.

There is a gem right in your mist. It is the public library. That brings us to tip #51.

Tip #51: Take your children to the public library and get them a library card.
Children need to read in order to be successful throughout life. There is a great resource for finding what your child is interested in reading without spending a whole lot of money, and that's going to the public library. Throughout the year, many libraries across this country have special events for families. There will be visiting authors, story tellers, arts and crafts, poets etc., but more importantly there are BOOKS! Your children will be able to find books on whatever interest them. Sign them up for their own library card and get them excited about exploring the world through books. Public libraries are funded through tax payers money and your family should take full advantage of this service. There is no better way to enhance your child's reading ability or love for books then a visit to the public library. Many libraries have computers that your children can use. If you don't have a computer at home this is a way for them to get practice. There are also books on tape and DVDs with music and movies for loan. So, get in the car and take your children to the public library and take advantage of all the resources.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A New Vision for Teaching Science

A New Vision for Teaching Science [Preview]

Recent studies from neuroscience and psychology suggest ways to improve science education in the U.S.
By J. Randy McGinnis and Deborah Roberts-Harris
September 16, 2009

We face a real crisis in science education in America. Representative Bart Gordon of Tennessee, chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology, has warned that countries sTwo recent reports from the National Research Council call for significant changes in the way science is taught in elementary school. Unlike previous recommendations, the new suggestions reflect recent findings about how young children think and how they acquire knowledge.

Research shows that children learn best when they regularly revisit topics, moving from basic to sophisticated views. In keeping with this knowledge, education experts advocate curricula in which students deepen their understanding of a topic—and hone their abilities to practice science—across many grades.

The most effective teaching expands both the knowledge and the skills needed to engage with science authentically—that is, in a manner akin to how scientists work. To practice science in the classroom calls for problem- and project-based lessons, as well as considerable social interaction. As is the case among scientists, argumentation and discourse help students to refine one another’s ideas and to articulate their own.

uch as China and India will trample the U.S. economy in the near future without major improvements in teaching. Indeed, our schools are falling behind. In the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)—a respected measure of achievement around the globe—the average science score of U.S. 15-year-olds dropped below that of teens in 28 out of 57 participating countries. (In math, U.S. students fared even worse, lagging behind their peers in 34 nations.)

Despite decades of reform, America has made only modest gains in the science classroom, particularly in high schools. Two recent reports from the National Research Council (NRC), however, offer novel strategies. Entitled Taking Science to School and Ready, Set, Science!, they call for changes in the way science is taught beginning in elementary school. Unlike previous recommendations, the new suggestions reflect recent findings from neuroscience and psychology about how young children think and how they acquire knowledge.

Two recent reports from the National Research Council call for significant changes in the way science is taught in elementary school. Unlike previous recommendations, the new suggestions reflect recent findings about how young children think and how they acquire knowledge.

Research shows that children learn best when they regularly revisit topics, moving from basic to sophisticated views. In keeping with this knowledge, education experts advocate curricula in which students deepen their understanding of a topic—and hone their abilities to practice science—across many grades.

The most effective teaching expands both the knowledge and the skills needed to engage with science authentically—that is, in a manner akin to how scientists work. To practice science in the classroom calls for problem- and project-based lessons, as well as considerable social interaction. As is the case among scientists, argumentation and discourse help students to refine one another’s ideas and to articulate their own.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Are the Five Branches of Earth Science?

What Are the Five Branches of Earth Science?

By: Rachel Mork

What are the five branches of Earth Science? What should your child know about each of these branches of Earth Science? How can you help your child understand the basics of this discipline?

We study science to understand how the world around us works and how to better our lives. Some fields of science can seem very dull and academic to children. By pointing out the practical, everyday uses for Earth Science and its branches, you'll encourage children to see beyond their textbooks and discover the interesting lessons science has to offer.

Astronomy: Astronomy is the study of the universe. You and your child may enjoy studying the solar system, space travel, the possibility of life on other planets and how our planet may one day use resources from nearby planets, moons or asteroids. You can use a telescope at home or visit Web sites for huge telescopes like the Hubble station to look at distant astronomical objects. You can also look up some of the things that space technology has brought to our everyday lives, such as advanced computers and memory foam mattresses.

Geology: Geology is the study of the Earth's substance. While teaching your child about the layers of the Earth's crust, you can explore theories about past civilizations and how the Earth was formed. Kids love to look for fossils or go to sites where they can see the actual rock layers. You can explain how rocks are used for fuel and building materials, how humans have mined the Earth for resources and how we are now learning new ways to use those resources.

Meteorology: Meteorology is the study of the Earth's climate, atmosphere and weather. Kids love learning about natural disasters, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and other powerful weather events. Your child may be interested in experimenting with a wind sock, kite or rain measuring-device; she may also find old-fashioned weather predictors interesting.

Oceanography: Oceanography is the study of the Earth's oceans. Kids are amazed to learn about the terrain underneath the surface of oceans, especially when they learn about the mountain ranges, valleys and trenches deep under the sea. You can explore the fascinating wildlife, the challenges of ocean travel, the changes in eco-systems related to human activity and the vast resources available under those blue waves. Talk with your child about how we need to protect the ocean and the animals in it for future generations. Explain how fishing provides food and study the many ways that ocean plants are used in manufacturing.

Glaciology: Glaciology is the study of glaciers, massive rivers of ice found in the coldest places on Earth. When studying glaciers, you can talk about how glaciers and ice ages have affected the formation of the Earth's surface and how glaciers interact with other elements of our delicate global ecosystem. You may want to read up on the things scientists are learning from ice core samples taken from glaciers and the predictions made regarding the melting of glaciers.

All five branches of Earth Science are easily related to children of all ages. Pique your child's interest and you'll find many topics to study together.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Science and Health

Science and Health

According to an article from http://optimallearningcenters.com/, the science component is based on our understanding that children develop science concepts as they investigate and interact with real objects and phenomena. They are natural scientists in that they are curious, observant, and always questioning. Their knowledge of science grows out of an attempt to find meaning in their environment.

As they plan the themes and supporting activities in science, teachers know that children construct their own meaning from their experiences in order to make sense of the world around them.

By incorporating children’s ideas into instructional strategies, teachers guide children toward accommodating their experiences into a more scientific view. Concrete, hands- on experiences using everyday objects, children’s objects, and outdoor experiences permit children to construct their own realistic understanding of what science is.

Teaching approaches include the use of real- life experience and manipulation of materials and equipment. Since modeling a positive attitude toward science by adults fosters love for science by children, our teachers are open minded and enthusiastic about science. Thus, all children are challenged to pursue their interests to the fullest of their potential.

The governing goal of this component is “health literacy.” Under this subject, children learn to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health information.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tips for Teaching Children Science

According to an article from http://www.infobarrel.com/TeachingChildrenScience, the question was asked,  are you trying to find out the best ways of teaching children science? Here are some important things you need to incorporate in your teaching style and children will definitely respond to that. All children have the ability to learn - the teaching routine has to be right.

Tips for Teaching Children Science

•You need to ensure the kids stay interested in learning by making use of interesting activities that makes them feel like they are being active. They will not even think about getting bored.

•Teachers and parents need to have an understanding and positive attitude with the children, especially while teaching. If you are frustrated or agitated the child realizes that and they get agitated too.

•Children will not respond if they feel that the study time is full of frustration and boredom. You need to make study time exciting in order for the children to respond well to the teaching methods.

•Science is an interesting subject and you should make the child develop and interest in it. Help them understand how science is important in real life and how many inventions could not have been made without it.

•Any every day question can become a science leaning experience. For instance when a child asks you what the moon is like or why the stars are so bright? From cooking questions to questions related to the environment, everything can be turned into a science revelation.

•You can also make children get involved with science by making them get out in nature and collect favorite objects like rocks, leaves or flowers. Of course the difficulty level of the activity should also be determined according to the child’s age. If an activity is too easy or too difficult, you

•according to the child’s age. If an activity is too easy or too difficult, you risk having the child lose interest.

•Astronomy is a very interesting field of science and it is something a lot of children actually enjoy learning about. Make things seem like a story and pique their interest by taking trips to the nearby planetarium. The children are sure to stay engrossed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vitamin D

According to an article from the February 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, a new review of 75 studies found that not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin raises your chances of a heart attack and ups many cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, general inflammation, and metabolic syndrome (a triple whammy of hypertension, high triglycerides, and extra weight around your middle). You can get D from sun exposure, but depending on your skin tone and how far north you live, that can be tough in winter months (plus, too much sun ups your risk of skin cancer, and wrinkles).

Getting vitamin D from food is also a challenge - fortified milk, fatty fish, and eggs are recommended sources.  Most of us will have to rely on supplement to meet the goal of 600 IU a day set by the Institute of Medicine, or the higher amount - 1,000 IU - that many other experts advise.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just Say No.....to Soda

According to an article in the February 2012 Good Housekeeping magazine, sugary drinks aren't on any one's good-health list, but in data reported last November, researchers noted that sweet sodas are particularly risky for women.  A University of Oklahoma study of 4,166 women, age 45 and over, found that those who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day were nearly four times as likely to develop high triglycerides, as those who drank one or fewer.  They were also more likely to add to their waist sizes and develop impaired glucose levels, setting themselves up for diabetes.  The researchers aren't sure why females are harder hit than males, but it may be as simple as calories, because women need fewer, two sodas make up a greater proportion of their daily calorie intake.  But don't wait for the definitive why: women should quench  thirst with water or unsweetened iced tea, and get your fizz from seltzer (add a spritz of lemon or lime if you like a little favor.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tip #50: Don't Take Your Child's Sporting or Extra Curricular Activities too Seriously.

Just about anyone who has witnessed a youth sport these days has had a bad experience. A survey of 3,300 parents published in an issue of "SportingKid" magazine found that 84% had witnessed "violent parental behavior" toward children, coaches, or an official at kids' sports events. This brings us to tip #50.

Tip #50: Don't take your child's sporting or extra curricular activities too seriously.

Children should not be victims or witness adults behaving like their child is participating in the "World Series" or Olympic Games and the family's life savings depends on the outcome of the child's performance. There is too much pressure put on little children and it takes away the love of the game or activity. More than half of the parents end up removing their children from youth games because they felt that youth sports were too competitive. Team sports should teach children lesson in life, such as, sportsmanship and cooperative outcomes, while developing skills to become competitive in the future. Some parents need to RELAX, stop living through their child, and let their child develop their athletic skills, and enjoy the games.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tip #49: Make Sure You Take Your Children to the Dentist.

When we think about being healthy, how many people think of their dental health? It has come to light that many of the health problems people experience started with poor dental hygiene and dental care. That brings us to tip #49.

Tip #49: Make sure you take your children to the dentist.

Parents should try to take their children to the dentist when they are between the ages of 2-4 years old to make sure their baby teeth are healthy and developing properly. Also, it will help the child have a positive attitude early on with the dentist. Children should brush their teeth in the morning and before going to bed, but someone must show them the proper way to clean their teeth. Flossing and getting fluoride treatments should be a routine part of your child's dental care. Dentist are very expensive, but very necessary in our overall health plan. This country must come to terms and make sure every child is receiving proper medical and dental health care, but we as parents must teach them the routine of caring for their teeth, so that they can smile without hesitation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for School Success: Part 3

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for School Success: Part 3
By GreatSchool Staff

Seven ways to be your child's sleep advocate
Talk to your child about sleep. Have a conversation with your child about the importance of sleep. "Educate your child about how much sleep he needs and how it will affect his performance," advises Kurcinka. "If he wants to do well in his soccer game, or on a test, make him aware that he will do better if he gets more sleep."

Encourage your child to establish a sleep routine. Encourage your child to stick to a regular sleep schedule. School-age children need an average of 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Insist on a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Have a regular quiet, relaxing bedtime routine such as reading to your child or reading together to help him slow down before going to sleep.

Say no to late-night TV and computer use. Keep the computer and TV out of your child's bedroom. It's a good way to monitor his screen activities and make sure he doesn't stay up past his bedtime. If he insists on watching TV right before bedtime, you can tell him to start getting ready for bed during the commercials and to record "must-see" late-night shows and watch them at another time.

Check in with your child's teacher. Ask your child's teacher if your child is alert or sleepy in class. If he is frequently sleepy in class, that's a sign that you need to help him get more sleep.

The pros and cons of naps. A short nap after school (no more than 30 minutes) may be refreshing, but don't let your school-age child sleep for hours during the day as this will throw off her natural sleep schedule. It may be a stretch to convince your school to provide a time for naps, but it is done in Japan. Schools there encourage "power naps" at lunchtime, when students put their heads down on their desk for 20 to 30 minutes.

Exercise plays a role in keeping a regular sleep schedule. "Exercise is very important, particularly getting outside and getting morning light," says Kurcinka. "But exercise raises the body temperature so it is not a good idea to exercise right before going to sleep. That means it's important to regulate organized soccer and baseball games so they are not scheduled too late into the evening."

Be a role model. Show your child that you make sleep a priority in your own life. Children are more likely to follow your advice if you follow the same rules for yourself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for School Success: Part 2

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for School Success: Part 2
By GreatSchools Staff

Lack of sleep is linked to a multitude of problems
Several studies presented at Sleep 2007, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, highlighted some of the adverse effects caused by lack of sleep - aggressive behavior and bullying, poor grades, poor attention span, disruptions in cognitive and linguistic function including the skills necessary for reading and language development. A few scientists theorize that sleep problems at a young age can cause permanent changes in a child's brain structure.

Lack of sleep may be the cause of behavior problems
Sometimes lack of sleep will be the reason behind temper tantrums, morning meltdowns and irritable behavior. Your child may not be able to tell you that's the problem and you may not see it because a tired child may become a wired child-full of energy. "It's as though their body is out of control," says Kurcinka. "And it is."

Kurcinka says parents need to set limits on extracurricular activities and computer time, and become advocates at their school for reducing the amount of homework, and encouraging schools to adopt later start times.

More and more children lack sleep — a disturbing trend
Kurcinka argues that lack of sleep among children is more common now than ever before and attributes this trend to three factors: science, safety and achievement.

"Science - The research on early brain development and the importance of brain stimulation has meant kids are overstimulated starting at a young age. They begin by watching 'Baby Einstein' videos and continue from there. Safety-parents are afraid to let kids go out and play so they provide more structured activities which tend to be organized around adult hours and schedules. Achievement-so much is competitive and overly achievement oriented for kids, from soccer to gymnastics to academics."

To counter these factors, Kurcinka says, parents should "create an environment that values sleep and is conducive to it. The bottom line is that parents of children who are successful have a secret weapon - they protect their kids' sleep. Kids who get more sleep have higher grade-point averages. In a study reported in the journal, Child Development, in 2003 entitled 'The Effects of Sleep Restriction and Extension on School-Age Children: What a Difference an Hour Makes,' Tel Aviv University researcher Avi Sadeh found that even 41 minutes less sleep each night can affect memory and attention."

Managing sleep patterns begins in the morning
Kurcinka says managing sleep problems and controlling stress levels begins in the morning by making time for a peaceful family breakfast. She sees it as a way to take time to sit and talk, to "check in" and connect with your child. By starting the day without rushing, you set a calm tone for the rest of the day.

Avoiding bedtime battles
To avoid bedtime battles at night, Kurcinka advocates establishing a calming, predictable bedtime routine attuned to your child's needs that will help her wind down. In her book, Sleepless in America, she compares the process of getting your child to bed to landing a jumbo jet:

"Landing a jumbo jet is not a simple process. Miles from their destination, the pilots begin to prepare. They check the weather, determine which runway to utilize, the level of instrumentation to use on approach as well as the optimal speed. Once those decisions are made, they start to configure the aircraft appropriately…What the crew is trained to know is that conscientious preparation and a gradual descent lead to a soft landing and satisfied customers. When it comes to bedtime, most children are like those jumbo jets. Their days are often spent 'flying' from one activity to another, and they need to gradually 'glide' from the 'high' of their day to a 'soft landing' in bed."

Spending 20 minutes with your child before bedtime in a soothing activity, such as reading, quietly catching up on the day's activities, or telling stories, can help provide the calm that will help your child transition to going to sleep. Adjusting the routine, depending on your child's mood and needs, (just as the pilot adjusts the plane's landing pattern depending on the weather) will help, too. Some days kids just need a little more connection and attention.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for School Success: Part 1

Sleep: The secret weapon for school success

By GreatSchools Staff

Lack of sleep is a national epidemic for today's children, and the consequences are serious.
Is your child having behavior problems and trouble in school? Making sure she/he gets enough sleep may be the solution.serious.

Sleep deprivation can affect cognitive skills and academic achievement. A continuing lack of sleep is linked to serious health problems including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression and a shortened life span.

Why aren't kids getting enough sleep?
Children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Yet studies show that most kids are getting about an hour less sleep each night than they did 30 years ago.

Why? Extracurricular activities, such as sports teams and arts programs, may schedule events at night. Working parents who get home late may feel guilty and want to spend time with their children in the evening. Too much homework and the many distractions of television, video games and computers all play a role. In addition, all the pressures and stresses of today's frenetic lifestyles may make it difficult for kids to calm down so they can fall asleep.

Catching up on sleep is not a good option
Parents may think they'll let their children catch up on sleep on the weekend. But sleep experts at the Mayo Clinic advise against this practice as irregular sleep schedules can affect the biological clock, hurt the quality of sleep and cause greater irritability. Children who sleep in on the weekend may have an even harder time getting up for school on Monday morning, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It's better, the experts say, to keep similar schedules during the week and on the weekends.

Make sleep a priority
Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, teacher, parent educator and author of Sleepless in America, says parents can play a key role by placing a high value on their children's sleep. She says the first step for parents is to "make sleep a priority."

"Scientific research links heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity with lack of sleep. There's also a study out of the University of Michigan," adds Kurcinka, "that shows that 20 to 25 % of kids with ADHD have sleep disorders. Sleep is not a luxury. This is about health and well being."

Some parents may think that their child isn't sleeping much because he just doesn't need as much sleep as other children. But Kurcinka doesn't buy that argument. She says, "When I hear a parent say, 'He is a kid who doesn't need sleep,' generally this means he is a kid who can't sleep. He needs help learning to calm himself to get to sleep. If I see a child who has behavior problems, can't focus or pay attention, a child who's getting sick a lot, craving carbohydrates, I'll want to look at how much sleep he's getting. Maybe the child is just exhausted."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Cold, Meet Your Match

Winter Cold, Meet Your Match
By Samatha B. Cassetty, M.S., R. D., GHRI Nutrition Director

Sip a berry smoothie, and fight the sniffles. While recent roundup of more than 30 research studies conclude that taking vitamin C supplements doesn't decrease the number of colds people are hit with, a new study from Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that getting the nutrient from food helps a lot: Women whose diet includes more than 200 mg of vitamin C per day had a 49% lower chance of coming down with a cold or the flu than those who consumed less than 100 mg.  Reaching the virus-fighting level is as easy as having a smoothie made with 1 cup of frozen strawberries for breakfast (61 mg), three red pepper rings in a lunchtime turkey wrap (38 mg), and a cup of cooked broccoli at dinner (101 mg). 

Happy Birthday Dr. King

Happy Birthday Dr. King

You fought for liberty and justice for all, and believed that all God's children had the right to receive the "Best Education Possible"!

Happy Birthday Dr. King
From: Best Education Possible, Debra West

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tip #47: Help Develop Your Child's Self-Esteem.

Kids with healthy self-esteem tend to enjoy interacting with others. They are comfortable in group settings and independent activities. That brings us to tip #47.

Tip #47: Help develop your child's self-esteem.

Everyone needs to have a healthy self-esteem in order to be successful and that is no different for our children. We all have strength and weaknesses that we know about, accept, and work toward strengthening. But jow can parents help their child in building a good self-esteem? According to the article, "Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem", from KidsHealth.org, you need to:

1. Watch what you say to your child
2. Be a positive role model
3. Identify and redirect your child's inaccurate beliefs
4. Be spontaneous and affectionate
5. Give positive, accurate, feedback
6. Create a safe, loving home environment
7. Help you child become involved in constructive experiences

Friday, January 13, 2012

Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem: Part 2

Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem
An article from kidshealth.org

How Parents Can Help
How can a parent help to foster healthy self-esteem in a child? These tips can make a big difference:

•Watch what you say. Kids are very sensitive to parents' words. Remember to praise your child not only for a job well done, but also for effort. But be truthful. For example, if your child doesn't make the soccer team, avoid saying something like, "Well, next time you'll work harder and make it." Instead, try "Well, you didn't make the team, but I'm really proud of the effort you put into it." Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.

•Be a positive role model. If you're excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your child may eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem, and your child will have a great role model.

•Identify and redirect your child's inaccurate beliefs. It's important for parents to identify kids' irrational beliefs about themselves, whether they're about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or anything else. Helping kids set more accurate standards and be more realistic in evaluating themselves will help them have a healthy self-concept. Inaccurate perceptions of self can take root and become reality to kids. For example, a child who does very well in school but struggles with math may say, "I can't do math. I'm a bad student." Not only is this a false generalization, it's also a belief that will set the child up for failure. Encourage kids to see a situation in its true light. A helpful response might be: "You are a good student. You do great in school. Math is just a subject that you need to spend more time on. We'll work on it together."

•Be spontaneous and affectionate. Your love will go a long way to boost your child's self-esteem. Give hugs and tell kids you're proud of them. Pop a note in your child's lunchbox that reads, "I think you're terrific!" Give praise frequently and honestly, without overdoing it. Kids can tell whether something comes from the heart.

•Give positive, accurate feedback. Comments like "You always work yourself up into such a frenzy!" will make kids feel like they have no control over their outbursts. A better statement is, "You were really mad at your brother. But I appreciate that you didn't yell at him or hit him." This acknowledges a child's feelings, rewards the choice made, and encourages the child to make the right choice again next time.

•Create a safe, loving home environment. Kids who don't feel safe or are abused at home will suffer immensely from low self-esteem. A child who is exposed to parents who fight and argue repeatedly may become depressed and withdrawn. Also watch for signs of abuse by others, problems in school, trouble with peers, and other factors that may affect kids' self-esteem. Deal with these issues sensitively but swiftly. And always remember to respect your kids.

•Help kids become involved in constructive experiences. Activities that encourage cooperation rather than competition are especially helpful in fostering self-esteem. For example, mentoring programs in which an older child helps a younger one learn to read can do wonders for both kids.

Finding Professional Help
If you suspect your child has low self-esteem, consider professional help. Family and child counselors can work to uncover underlying issues that prevent a child from feeling good about himself or herself.

Therapy can help kids learn to view themselves and the world positively. When kids see themselves in a more realistic light, they can accept who they truly are.

With a little help, every child can develop healthy self-esteem for a happier, more fulfilling life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem: Part1

Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem
Article from kidshealth.org

According to an article from kidshealth.org, healthy self-esteem is a child's armor against the challenges of the world. Kids who feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These kids are realistic and generally optimistic.

In contrast, kids with low self-esteem can find challenges to be sources of major anxiety and frustration. Those who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. If given to self-critical thoughts such as "I'm no good" or "I can't do anything right," they may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response is "I can't."

Here's how you can play important role in promoting healthy self-esteem in your child.

What Is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is the collection of beliefs or feelings we have about ourselves, our "self-perceptions." How we define ourselves influences our motivations, attitudes, and behaviors and affects our emotional adjustment.

Patterns of self-esteem start very early in life. For example, a toddler who reaches a milestone experiences a sense of accomplishment that bolsters self-esteem. Learning to roll over after dozens of unsuccessful attempts teaches a baby a "can-do" attitude.

The concept of success following persistence starts early. As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they're creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people. This is why parental involvement is key to helping kids form accurate, healthy self-perceptions.

Self-esteem also can be defined as feelings of capability combined with feelings of being loved. A child who is happy with an achievement but does not feel loved may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a child who feels loved but is hesitant about his or her own abilities can also end up with low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when the right balance is reached.
Signs of Unhealthy and Healthy Self-Esteem

Self-esteem fluctuates as kids grow. It's frequently changed and fine-tuned, because it is affected by a child's experiences and new perceptions. So it helps to be aware of the signs of both healthy and unhealthy self-esteem.

Kids with low self-esteem may not want to try new things, and may frequently speak negatively about themselves: "I'm stupid," "I'll never learn how to do this," or "What's the point? Nobody cares about me anyway." They may exhibit a low tolerance for frustration, giving up easily or waiting for somebody else to take over. They tend to be overly critical of and easily disappointed in themselves. Kids with low self-esteem see temporary setbacks as permanent, intolerable conditions, and a sense of pessimism predominates.

Kids with healthy self-esteem tend to enjoy interacting with others. They're comfortable in social settings and enjoys group activities as well as independent pursuits. When challenges arise, they can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others. For example, rather than saying, "I'm an idiot," a child with healthy self-esteem says, "I don't understand this." They know their strengths and weaknesses, and accept them. A sense of optimism prevails.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?: Part 3

Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?

By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff
What's a uniform?

One school might require white button-down shirts and ties for boys, pleated skirts for girls and blazers adorned with the school logo for all. Another school may simply require that all shirts have collars.

In Toledo, Ohio, elementary school students have a limited palette of colors that they can wear: white, light blue, dark blue or yellow on the top half and dark blue, navy, khaki or tan on the bottom half.

Toledo girls are allowed a fairly wide range of dress items, however: blouses, polo shirts with collars, turtlenecks, skirts, jumpers, slacks, and knee-length shorts and skirts. Boys have almost as many choices: dress shirts, turtlenecks, polo or button-down shirts, pants or knee-length shorts.

When Toledo students reach junior high, they are treated to one more color choice: maroon.

What Research Says About School Uniforms
Virginia Draa, assistant professor at Youngstown State University, reviewed attendance, graduation and proficiency pass rates at 64 public high schools in Ohio. Her final analysis surprised her: "I really went into this thinking uniforms don't make a difference, but I came away seeing that they do. At least at these schools, they do. I was absolutely floored."

Draa's study concluded that those schools with uniform policies improved in attendance, graduation and suspension rates. She was unable to connect uniforms with academic improvement because of such complicating factors as changing instructional methods and curriculum.

University of Missouri assistant professor, David Brunsma reached a different conclusion. In his 2004 book, The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education: A Symbolic Crusade, Brunsma reviewed past studies on the effect of uniforms on academic performance. He also conducted his own analysis of two enormous databases, the 1988 National Educational Longitudinal Study and the 1998 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Brunsma concluded that there is no positive correlation between uniforms and school safety or academic achievement.

Meanwhile, the movement toward uniforms in public schools has spread to about a quarter of all elementary schools. Experts say that the number of middle and high schools with uniforms is about half the number of elementary schools. If uniforms are intended to curb school violence and improve academics, why are they not more prevalent in middle and high schools, where these goals are just as important as in elementary schools? Because, says Brunsma, "It's desperately much more difficult to implement uniforms in high schools, and even middle schools, for student resistance is much, much higher. In fact, most of the litigation resulting from uniforms has been located at levels of K-12 that are higher than elementary schools. Of course, this uniform debate is also one regarding whether children have rights, too!"

It's a Big Issue
A new trend is the mounting pressure to establish dress codes for teachers. Apparently the same casual mind-set toward revealing outfits is cropping up in the ranks of our teachers.

The debate over uniforms in public schools encompasses many larger issues than simply what children should wear to school. It touches on issues of school improvement, freedom of expression and the "culture wars." It's no wonder the debate rages on.

Additional Resources
The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education: A Symbolic Crusade, David Brunsma. Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2004.

School Dress Codes: A Pro/Con Issue, Barbara C. Cruz. Enslow Publishers, 2001.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?: Part 2

Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?

By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff
Uniforms vs. Dress Codes

Schools and districts vary widely in how closely they adhere to the concept of uniformity.

What's a dress code?
Generally, dress codes are much less restrictive than uniform policies. Sometimes, however, dress codes are nearly as strict, as in the case of a middle school in Napa, California. This particular school's dress code required students to wear solid colors and banned images or logos on clothes. When a student was sent to detention for wearing socks adorned with the image of Winnie-the-Pooh's friend Tigger, the girl's family sued the school district for violating her freedom of speech. In August of 2007, the district announced it would relax its dress code - for the time being - to allow images and fabrics other than solid colors. The district superintendent, while admitting that banning images on clothes raises concerns about the restriction of political and religious speech, announced his intention to move soon toward implementing uniforms in the district.

Uniforms are certainly easier for administrators to enforce than dress codes. Consider two recent examples of students challenging dress codes through the courts.

In June of 2007, the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision affirming a Vermont student's right to wear a T-shirt depicting President Bush surrounded by drug and alcohol images. The school had suspended the student, not for the anti-Bush political statement, but for violating a dress code that prohibits drug and alcohol images. The courts, however, disagreed with the school and found that, because the images referred to Bush's alleged past use of cocaine and alcohol, they were protected as free political expression.

In March of 2007, the Supreme Court "vacated" or set aside the decision of a lower court upholding a San Diego high school's suspension of a student for wearing an anti-gay T-shirt. The school argued that the T-shirt was hateful and inflammatory. The Supreme Court's action essentially struck down the school's argument and upheld the student's right to free speech.

In both of these cases, the schools' attempts to protect students from drug and alcohol images or hateful speech were reversed in favor of free speech. To clarify the matter somewhat, the Supreme Court ruled in June of 2007 in favor of a school in Alaska that had suspended a student for displaying a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." The court ruled that the reference to drugs in this case had no political message and could indeed be seen as advocating drug use.

Check with your school to see what the dress code is, as they can be fairly specific. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, the dress code prohibits:

-Decorations (including tattoos) that are symbols, mottoes, words or acronyms that convey crude, vulgar, profane, violent, gang-related, sexually explicit or suggestive messages

-Large or baggy clothes (this prohibition can be used to keep students from excessive "sagging")

-Holes in clothes

-Scarves, curlers, bandanas or sweatbands inside of school buildings (exceptions are made for religious attire)

-Visible undergarments

-Strapless garments

-Bare midriffs, immodestly low-cut necklines or bare backs

-Tights, leggings, bike shorts, swim suits or pajamas as outerwear

-Visible piercings, except in the ear

-Dog collars, tongue rings and studs, wallet chains, large hair picks, or chains that connect one part of the body to another

Monday, January 9, 2012

Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?: Part 1

Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?

By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff

Yes and no, say the experts. The heated debate over school uniforms shows no signs of cooling off.

For the past decade, schools, parents and students have clashed over the issue of regulating student attire. In 2007, cases involving an anti-Bush T-shirt in Vermont, an anti-gay T-shirt in San Diego and Tigger socks in Napa, California, made their way through the courts, causing many to wonder whether this debate will ever be resolved.

Meanwhile, researchers are divided over how much of an impact - if any - dress policies have upon student learning. A 2004 book makes the case that uniforms do not improve school safety or academic discipline. A 2005 study, on the other hand, indicates that in some Ohio high schools uniforms may have improved graduation and attendance rates, although no improvements were observed in academic performance.

Why Do Some Public Schools Have Uniforms?
In the 1980s, public schools were often compared unfavorably to Catholic schools. Noting the perceived benefit that uniforms conferred upon Catholic schools, some public schools decided to adopt a school uniform policy.

President Clinton provided momentum to the school uniform movement when he said in his 1996 State of the Union speech, "If it means teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms."

The Pros and Cons of School Uniforms
According to proponents, school uniforms:

-Help prevent gangs from forming on campus
-Encourage discipline
-Help students resist peer pressure to buy trendy clothes
-Help identify intruders in the school
-Diminish economic and social barriers between students
-Increase a sense of belonging and school pride
-Improve attendance

Opponents contend that school uniforms:
-Violate a student's right to freedom of expression
-Are simply a Band-Aid on the issue of school violence
-Make students a target for bullies from other schools
-Are a financial burden for poor families
-Are an unfair additional expense for parents who pay taxes for a free public education
Are difficult to enforce in public schools

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Your Child's Cough: Part 2

Your Child's Cough: Part 2

When to Call the Doctor

Most childhood coughs are nothing to be worried about. However, call your doctor if your child:

-has trouble breathing or is working hard to breathe

-is breathing more quickly than usual

-has a blue or dusky color to the lips, face, or tongue

-has a high fever (especially if your child is coughing but does NOT have a runny or stuffy nose)

-has any fever and is less than 3 months old

-is an infant (3 months old or younger) who has been coughing for more than a few hours

-makes a "whooping" sound when breathing in after coughing

-is coughing up blood

-has stridor (a noisy or musical sound) when breathing in

-has wheezing when breathing out (unless you already have a home asthma care plan from your doctor)

-is weak, cranky, or irritable

-is dehydrated

What Your Doctor Will Do
One of the best ways to diagnose a cough is by listening. Knowing what the cough sounds like will help your doctor decide how to treat your child. The treatment for different types of coughs can vary, based on the cause.

Because most coughs are caused by viruses, doctors usually do not give antibiotics for a cough. A cough caused by a virus just needs to run its course. A viral infection can last for as long as 2 weeks.

Unless a cough won't let your child sleep, cough medicines are not needed. They might help a child stop coughing, but do not treat the cause of the cough. If you do choose to use an over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine, call the doctor to be sure of the correct dose and to make sure it's safe for your child.

Do not use OTC combination medicines like "Tylenol Cold" — they have more than one medicine in them, and kids can have more side effects and are more likely to get an overdose of the medicine.

Cough medicines are not recommended for children under age 4.

Home Treatment
Here are some ways to help your child feel better:

If your child has asthma, make sure you have an asthma care plan from your doctor. The plan should help you choose the right asthma medicines to give.

For a "barky" or "croupy" cough, turn on the hot water in the shower in your bathroom and close the door so the room will steam up. Then, sit in the bathroom with your child for about 20 minutes. The steam should help your child breathe more easily. Try reading a book together to pass the time.

A cool-mist humidifier in your child's bedroom might help with sleep.

Sometimes a brief exposure to the cool air of the outdoors can relieve the cough. Make sure to dress your child appropriately for the outdoor weather and try this for 10-15 minutes.

Cool beverages like juice can be soothing and it is important to keep your child hydrated. But do not give soda or orange juice, as these can hurt a throat that is sore from coughing.

You should not give your child (especially a baby or toddler) OTC cough medicine without first checking with your doctor.

Cough drops are OK for older kids, but kids younger than 3 years old can choke on them. It's better to avoid cough drops unless your doctor says that they're safe for your child.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Your Child's Cough: Part 1

Your Child's Cough

According from an article in KidsHealth.org, coughs are one of the most common symptoms of childhood illness. Although a cough can sound awful, it's not usually a sign of a serious condition. In fact, coughing is a healthy and important reflex that helps protect the airways in the throat and chest.

But sometimes, your child's cough will warrant a trip to the doctor. Understanding what different types of cough could mean will help you know how to take care of them and when to go to the doctor.

"Barky" Cough
Barky coughs are usually caused by a swelling in the upper part of the airway. Most of the time, a barky cough comes from croup, a swelling of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

Croup usually is the result of a virus, but can also come from allergies or a change in temperature at night. Younger children have smaller airways that, if swollen, can make it hard to breathe. Kids younger than 3 years old are at the most risk for croup because their airways are so narrow.

A cough from croup can start suddenly and in the middle of the night. Often a kid with croup will also have stridor, which is a noisy, harsh breathing (often described as a coarse, musical sound) that occurs when a child inhales.

Whooping Cough
Whooping cough is another name for pertussis, an infection of the airways caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Kids with pertussis will have spells of back-to-back coughs without breathing in between. At the end of the coughing, they'll take a deep breath in that makes a "whooping" sound. Other symptoms of pertussis are a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and a low-grade fever.

Although pertussis can happen at any age, it's most severe in infants under 1 year old who did not get the pertussis vaccine. Pertussis is very contagious, so your child should get the pertussis shot at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months, and 4-6 years of age. This shot is given as part of the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis).

The Tdap vaccine (which is similar to DTaP but with lower concentrations of diphtheria and tetanus toxoid for adults) is given to children at 11-12 years and once again in adulthood as a part of one of the tetanus boosters. Adults are recommended to receive this pertussis vaccine since immunity to pertussis lessens over time. By protecting yourself against pertussis, you are also protecting your kids from getting it.

Since pertussis is very contagious, it can spread from person to person through tiny drops of fluid in the air coming from the nose or mouth when people sneeze, cough, or laugh. Others can become infected by inhaling the drops or getting the drops on their hands and then touching their mouths or noses.

Cough With Wheezing
If your child makes a wheezing (whistling) sound when breathing out, this could mean that the lower airways in the lungs are swollen. This can happen with asthma or with a viral infection (bronchiolitis). Also, wheezing can happen if the lower airway is blocked by a foreign object.

Nighttime Cough
Lots of coughs get worse at night. When your child has a cold, the mucus from the nose and sinuses can drain down the throat and trigger a cough during sleep. This is only a problem if the cough won't let your child sleep.
Asthma also can trigger nighttime coughs because the airways tend to be more sensitive and irritable at night.

Daytime Cough
Cold air or activity can make coughs worse during the daytime. Try to make sure that nothing in your house — like air freshener, pets, or smoke (especially tobacco smoke) — is making your child cough.

Cough With a Fever
A child who has a cough, mild fever, and runny nose probably has a common cold. But coughs with a fever of 102º F (39º C) or higher can sometimes be due to pneumonia, especially if a child is weak and breathing fast. In this case, call your doctor immediately.

Cough With Vomiting
Kids often cough so much that it triggers their gag reflex, making them vomit. Also, a child who has a cough with a cold or an asthma flare-up might throw up if lots of mucus drains into the stomach and causes nausea. Usually, this is not cause for alarm unless the vomiting doesn't stop.

Persistent Cough
Coughs caused by colds due to viruses can last weeks, especially if your child has one cold right after another. Asthma, allergies, or a chronic infection in the sinuses or airways also might cause persistent coughs. If the cough lasts for 3 weeks, call your doctor.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tip # 46: Teach Your child to Resist Peer Pressure.

It is really tough for children today! Peer pressure has always been a problem for children, but it seems that it is even more difficult to walk away from temptations because of strong peer influences, and the technology that is available to children everyday. That brings us to tip#46.

Tip # 46: Teach your child to resist peer pressure.

Some kids find it difficult to resist peer pressure because they want to be liked and accepted. Others just find it fascinating and want to be adventurous and curious. The media and music industry do not help by making children think that elude behavior is normal and everyone is doing it, and at times glorifying drugs, sex, and violence.

The most important thing a child can have to resist peer pressure is a strong moral foundation, supportive and loving parents, and friends that have the same moral standard or higher. Know your child's friend, where they are going, and what they are doing. (especially on the Internet and the music they are listening to) If you find your child does not make good choices or is a follower, try to redirect them in a firm but caring way, and seek help from other parents who seem to be successful with their children. Do not hesitate to get professional help if needed. Start early, it can save you and your child heart ache and pain.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tip #45: Teach your Children the Importance of Being Neat and Organized.

We must help our children to get and remain organized. They must understand that everything has a place and everything should be in its place. That brings us to tip #45.

Tip #45: Teach your child the importance of being neat and organized.

It is extremely important for our children to be neat and organized. One possible reason we are late for appointments or engagements is because we can't find everything we need. My husband always taught our five children that, "Clutter causes depression". Now clutter does bother him, but I, (who clutter doesn't bother) feel better when I can find what I need and things are in their place.

In school, the student who keeps a neat desk and locker is usually able to get started and turn in assignments sooner then the student who can not find papers, pencils, or textbooks. Teaching our children to neatly organize their personal space with help them continue to keep their lives organized into adulthood.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tip #44: Teach Your Children the Importance of Being on Time.

We must teach our children the importance of being on time and time management! In order to instill this in our children we must make sure we get them to school, sports events, movies, church, and any extra curricula activity on time. That brings us to tip #44.

Tip #44: Teach your child the importance of being on time.

You must teach your children the importance of being on time. Teach them to be 10 or 15 minutes early, giving a little time for traffic or other deterrents. It is also important for children to be at school on time, to settle down and get in the route of the day. Studies show that children that are chronically late or absent usually don't do as well in school. Being on time will teach our children the importance of time management and will help them with future employment or business transactions. There is nothing that will discourage a future employer from hiring a person then missing an interview or showing up late. So, talk to your children about being on time and teach them time management, because it can be the difference in a successful career.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What Makes a School Effective?: Part 7

By David Miller Sadker, PhD

Karen R. Zittleman, PhD
McGraw-Hill Higher Education

What Makes a School Effective?Beyond Five Factors

New effective-schools findings offer us insights beyond these original five factors of effective schooling:

•Early start. The concept that there is a particular age for children to begin school needs to be rethought. The earlier schools start working with children, the better children do. High-quality programs during the first three years of life include parent training, special screening services, and appropriate learning opportunities for children. While such programs are rare, those that are in operation have significantly raised IQ points and have enhanced language skills. It is estimated that $1 spent in an early intervention program saves school districts $7 in special programs and services later in life.

•Focus on reading and math. Children not reading at grade level by the end of the first grade face a one-in-eight chance of ever catching up. In math, students who do not master basic concepts find themselves playing catch-up throughout their school years. Effective schools identify and correct such deficiencies early, before student performance deteriorates.

•Smaller schools. Students in small schools learn more, are more likely to pass their courses, are less prone to resort to violence, and are more likely to attend college than those attending large schools. Disadvantaged students in small schools outperform their peers in larger schools, as achievement differences for the rich and poor are less extreme. Many large schools have responded to these findings by reorganizing themselves into smaller units, into schools within schools. Research suggests that small schools are more effective at every educational level, but they may be most important for older students.

•Smaller classes. Although the research on class size is less powerful than the research on school size, studies indicate that smaller classes are associated with increased student learning, especially in the earlier grades. Children in classes of fifteen outperform students in classes of twenty-five, even when the larger classes have a teacher's aide present.

•Increased learning time While not an amazing insight, research tells us what we already suspect: more study results in more learning. Longer school days, longer school years, more efficient use of school time, and more graded homework are all proven methods of enhancing academic learning time and student performance.Assessment. Investing time is useful, but assessing how effectively the time is spent is also important. Testing student performance has been tied to greater achievement, and some districts have gone so far as to pay teachers incentives for improvements in student test scores.

•Teacher training. Researcher Linda Darling-Hammond reports that the best way to improve school effectiveness is by investing in teacher training. Stronger teacher skills and qualifications lead to greater student learning. Conversely, students pay an academic price when they are taught by unqualified and uncertified teachers.

•Trust. Trusting relationships among parents, students, principals and teachers is a necessary ingredient to govern, improve, and reform schools. As trust levels increase, so does academic performance.

•And what about technology? School districts that are hesitant to spend funds on teacher training, class size reductions, or early childhood education programs nevertheless are quick to invest significant sums in computers and upgraded technology. Research says very little about the impact of technology on school effectiveness and student performance. Studies are few, sometimes contradictory, and long-term results are still unknown. It is a sad commentary that the glamour of cyberspace is more persuasive than decades of research.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Makes a School Effective?: Part 6

By David Miller Sadker, PhD
Karen R. Zittleman, PhD
McGraw-Hill Higher Education

What Makes a School Effective?

A Note of Caution on Effective Schools Research

Although the research on what makes schools effective has had a direct impact on national reform movements, it has limitations. First, there is disagreement over the definition of an effective school. Researchers use varying descriptions, ranging from "schools with high academic achievement" to schools that foster "personal growth, creativity, and positive self-concept." Although the five factors we have described are helpful, they do not really pro-vide a prescription for developing successful schools.

Another problem is that much of the research has been conducted in elementary schools. Although some researchers suggest applicability to secondary and even higher education, caution must he used in carrying the effective-schools findings to higher levels of education. The generalizability of the re-search is also limited, since several of the studies were conducted in inner-city schools and tied closely to the achievement of lower-order skills in math and science. If one wanted to develop a school that nurtures creativity rather than basic skills, another set of characteristics might be more appropriate.

Happy 2012

Happy New Year
From: "Best Education Possible"

I pray that 2012 brings you nothing but joy and peace.  I also hope that every child in your reach receives the "Best Education Possible",  so their future will be bright and full of promises.

Yours in education,
Debra West

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