Friday, September 23, 2016

Balanced eating

Radio Commentary

Many experts feel that far too much attention is placed on the body shape. This can translate into eating disorders for young teenage women.
It is also true that being seriously overweight can cause long-term health problems that should be avoided.
Parents can help children maintain a healthy balance. If they aren’t hungry at mealtime, don’t insist they clean their plates.
Parents should also observe how their children signal true hunger.
Sometimes young people will ask for food or say they are hungry when they are merely bored, lonely, or frustrated.
Try to determine whether the child is truly hungry. If not, help him find other ways to address boredom or frustration.
It’s also important to encourage physical activity. Discourage long hours spent in front of the TV or computer. Enjoy activities with your children. They are more likely to take part if you play along with them.
Also, be a good role model. Eat healthy foods and avoid inactivity. Children with overweight parents are twice as likely to become overweight as well.
Remember, though, to strike a balance in paying attention to weight. Too much focus can backfire and cause an eating disorder.
As always, moderation is the key.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fire drills

Radio Commentary

This is a good time of year for families to brush up on fire-escape strategies.
First, plan an escape route for everyone in the home. Outline at least two escape routes per room. Practice with the lights out, since most home fires occur at night. Children must understand not to hide from fire under their beds or in closets.
Set off the smoke alarm so everyone will recognize the sound.
Have children practice crawling, which is the best way to escape a smoky room or hallway. Emphasize that they should keep their heads within 12 inches of the ground, which helps them avoid the smoke in the air and the toxic gases that can be even closer to the floor.
Show them how to test a door that is closed: If it is hot, do not open it.
If it is not hot, open it cautiously, but if smoke rushes in, quickly close the door and exit through a window instead.
Remind children that if they ever are trapped in a fire, to keep doors closed and to stuff door cracks and vents with clothes or towels. Then wait at a window for firefighters.
Make sure children can give the family’s name and full address, and know how to dial 911 to report a fire. Agree in advance on a place where the family will meet once everyone escapes.
Finally, practice “stop-drop-and-roll” with all family members. This is the best response if someone’s clothes catch fire.
And remember: Safety practices are strengthened by constant reinforcement.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Teen search for identity

Radio Commentary

Young children tend to accept the values of their parents without question. They have been exposed to few alternatives, so they rely on their parents to understand what is right and wrong.
As children grow older, however, they begin to think about a variety of options and they are likely to question the values around them. This is a normal process that almost all teens will go through.
The act of questioning should not be viewed as a challenge to the beliefs of the parents. Rather, it is a normal means of consolidating a set of values as the foundation for the practices of a lifetime.
Friends are important in this process. Teenagers need reactions, and their fellow teens will listen and give honest opinions.
The key for parents is to shore up their teen’s self-confidence and not over-react to ideas that might be floated out just for effect.
Teens who are unsure of themselves, and want to be accepted, are more likely to give in to negative peer pressure. They want to be liked and they want to have their ideas approved. They will seek that approval wherever they can find it.
Teens who have plenty of confidence will be affected by input from their friends but are less likely to be dominated by it. They have a sense of inner strength and self-worth that they will not want to jeopardize.
So be sure to show your teens you love and respect them. Knowing they can count on you helps with their decision-making, and helps keep them grounded in the values of the family unit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Encouraging the scientists of tomorrow

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

The principles of science form an umbrella over almost everything we do. Science is essential to understanding and making sense of the world around us. Many educators feel that science is also one of the most innately interesting subject areas for children.

Having a strong scientific background enables students to make informed decisions about issues that affect their lives, and helps prepare them for a future that, in many ways, is unpredictable.

Recognizing the critical role science plays in a student’s academic and intellectual development, California recently adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. This adoption marks the first science standards update since 1998. While the old standards heavily emphasized knowing scientific facts and theories, the new standards address all three dimensions of science: content, concepts, and practice.

As the National Research Council recently pointed out, learning science depends not only on the accumulation of facts and concepts, but also on students’ motivation and interest to learn more. That intellectual growth is valuable not only for those students who go on to become scientists or engineers, but also for the great majority of students who do not follow these professional paths.

The new standards are great developments in science education. They capture the wonder, curiosity, and excitement that most students bring naturally to science. By engaging students in these concepts and practices, teachers help them develop the skills to think like scientists and engineers.

With an increased emphasis on students thinking like scientists and engineers, science education will involve more students conducting investigations, designing models and experiments, solving problems, and supporting claims with evidence and reasoning.

Piquing a child’s curiosity in science and engineering doesn’t have to be limited to classroom activities, however. To help your child develop an interest in science, parents can try these tips:

  • Discuss family eating habits in terms of how the body uses various kinds of food. The body can be viewed as a system, and food as the power source. Check out ingredients labels on cereal boxes, for example, and learn with your child the various nutritional benefits of those ingredients.
  • After you have removed all electrical cords, encourage children to tinker with old clocks, radios, or computers to see what makes them “tick.” For some young students, trying to understand how certain every day items function can prompt a lifetime of intellectual curiosity.
  • Children often discover things in nature that they find fascinating. They should be encouraged to learn about their environment, and consider how these different elements of nature are interconnected.
  • Demonstrate scientific thinking by challenging general statements with the question, “How do you know that’s true?” “What proof do you have that can verify it?” This helps children understand the difference between opinion and fact.
  • Encourage any interest in collecting rocks, leaves, shells, or other natural objects. Provide a place to display and observe the collections.

Explore the many opportunities for science-related outings in our own county, so you can make learning a fun family affair. Science learning in school leads to citizens with the confidence, ability, and inclination to continue learning about issues — scientific and otherwise — that affect their lives and communities.

“The important thing is to not stop questioning,” Albert Einstein wrote in Life Magazine over 60 years ago. “Curiosity has its own reason for existence.” Einstein’s encouragement of exploration and lifelong learning is as appropriate today as ever, and is essential in helping develop the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

64th annual Breakfast with the Authors slated for Saturday, Oct. 1

News release

Members of the community will be able to enjoy a delicious quiche brunch and
conversation with world-renowned children’s authors and illustrators at the 64th annual Breakfast with the Authors, sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, in the SBCEO auditorium, 4400 Cathedral Oaks Road.

Confirmed authors and illustrators include James Burks, Susan Casey, Jewell Reinhart Coburn, Julie Dillemuth, Mel Gilden, Bruce Hale, Kristen Kittscher, Amy Goldman Koss, Michelle Robin La, Bonnie Lady Lee, Alexis O’Neill, Greg Trine, Frans Vischer, Mark London Williams, Gretchen Woelfle, and Robin Yardi.

Registration deadline is Sept. 26. Pre-registration is required and can be done online at More information and registration materials are available at or by contacting Rose Koller at 964-4710, ext. 5222, or

A Salute to Teachers

News release

Eight exemplary educators in Santa Barbara County will be honored Nov. 5 at the fourth annual “A Salute to Teachers” event hosted by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO). Three teachers have been chosen as Distinguished New Educators, while three others have been recognized as Distinguished Mentors. Additionally, Santa Barbara County’s nine 2016 California Gold Ribbon Schools will be recognized. Capping the evening will be a performance by the students of the 2017 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year, Brett Larsen, and a special recognition of the 2017 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Michelle Minetti-Smith.

The gala event, emceed by Andrew Firestone, will be held once again at the historic Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara. A Salute to Teachers partners SBCEO with Cox and a variety of sponsors, including Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, Anthem-Blue Cross, Noozhawk, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, and others. Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for 26 years in San Diego, and is honored to continue this great tradition of teacher recognition for Santa Barbara educators.

The Distinguished New Educators, nominated by their peers and chosen by a committee through the SBCEO, are:

  • Megan Heffernan — Peabody Charter School, Santa Barbara Unified School District
  • Amy Porter — Carpinteria Family School, Carpinteria Unified School District
  • Manjot Singh — La Colina JHS, Santa Barbara Unified School District

The Distinguished Mentors, selected in the same fashion, are:

  • Terri Cox — Cuyama Valley HS, Cuyama Unified School District
  • Kevin Baldizon — Kermit McKenzie JHS, Guadalupe Union School District
  • Ashley Cornelius — Santa Barbara HS, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Also being recognized at the event are the nine elementary schools from throughout the county that recently earned California Gold Ribbon School Awards. These awards recognize elementary schools that have made great gains in implementing State Board policies and their Local Control Accountability Plan. Ballard Elementary School, Cold Spring School, Santa Ynez Elementary School, Hope School, Monte Vista School, Leonora Fillmore School, Manzanita Charter, Franklin School, and Alvin Avenue School were all named Gold Ribbon Schools in the spring of 2016.

“We welcome the opportunity to celebrate outstanding teachers and teaching excellence in Santa Barbara County, ” said Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “A Salute to Teachers gives us a chance to honor high quality education throughout our county — a celebration made possible by the generous support of business partners from throughout the community.”

To register for the event, please visit For more information about the awards or the event, contact Steven Keithley, SBCEO Director of Teacher Programs and Support, at 964-4710, ext. 5281.

“A Salute to Teachers 2016” will be broadcast in its entirety on Cox Channel 8 later in the year. At that time it will also be available for viewing online at

Tips for busy parents

Radio Commentary

Here are some tips for busy parents who want to be involved with their children:
At dinner, start a sentence the whole family must finish. For example, “The most interesting thing I learned today was ...” or “One of the things I did well today was ...” Let everyone take a turn finishing the sentence and discussing each person’s contribution.
Keep a small pad handy to write a brief note of thanks to the teacher when your child shows new skills or excitement about school.
Ask teachers for a good time to call for 5 to 10 minutes about any specific concerns you might have.
If your child is struggling with something, resist any urge to blame the teacher. It only strains relationships, and often delays the constructive resolution of a problem.
Instead, join forces with the teacher to reach the common goal of helping your child find success. Identify an area of challenge and then plan together how to overcome it.
Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher for advice. He or she can help with behavior problems as well as homework hassles.
Teachers can provide insights based on their experience.  But then it’s important to make a good-faith effort to follow that advice.
Small steps can often make a big difference.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Talking with Teachers with Bill Cirone (Brett Larsen)

Brett Larsen
Adams Elementary School
Santa Barbara