Friday, February 24, 2017

Children, ads, obesity

Radio Commentary

According to a report by the Kaiser Family foundation, childhood obesity can be linked to television viewing time — specifically to the 40,000 ads that children see annually on TV.
Children age eight and younger are very vulnerable, because they have trouble distinguishing between ads and programs.
The majority of ads targeting children are for candy, cereal, soda, and fast food. This provides parents with some easy ways to counteract the effects of advertising: 
On shopping trips, let your child see that advertising claims are often exaggerated.
Toys that look big, fast, and exciting on the screen may be disappointingly small, slow, and unexciting close-up.
Tell your child that the purpose of advertising is to sell products to as many viewers as possible.
Put advertising disclaimers into words children understand: “partial assembly required” means “You have to put it together before you can play with it.”
Teach your children about nutrition. If your children can read package labels, allow them to choose a breakfast cereal from those where sugar is not one of the first ingredients listed.
These steps can all have an impact.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spelling bee winners advance to state competition

Four local students have won the right to compete at the state level after coming out on top at the Santa Barbara County Spelling Bee, which was held Wednesday at the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Aidan Garard, a sixth grader at Vieja Valley School in the Hope School District, took first place in the elementary division by correctly spelling “cuckoo.” Keaton Cross, a sixth grader at Kellogg School in the Goleta Union School District, took second place with “coalesce.” Third place went to Daniel Nickolov, a sixth grader at Isla Vista School in the Goleta Union School District. His winning word was “alliance.”

In the junior high division, Tyler Norman, an eighth grader from La Colina Jr. High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, took first place by correctly spelling “bailiff.” Second place went to Emily Donelan, an eighth grader from Laguna Blanca School. Her winning word was “aquiline.” Third place was won by Shio Chiba, an eighth grader from Goleta Valley Jr. High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, correctly spelling “paradisiacal.” The two top winners in each division will proceed to the state level.

Thanks to The Masons Lodge, The Women’s Service Club of Goleta, and Town and Country Women’s Club for their donations.

The 2017 Elementary State Spelling Bee, for grades 4 through 6, will be held May 13 at the San Joaquin County Office of Education in Stockton. The 2017 State Junior High Spelling Bee, for grades 7 through 9, will be held May 6 at Miller Creek Middle School in San Rafael.

More information is available from Rose Koller of the Santa Barbara County Education Office at 964-4710, ext. 5222.

Left to right: Elementary winners Daniel Nickolov,
3rd place; Aidan Garard, 1st place; Keaton Cross, 2nd place

Left to right: Junior high winners Shio Chiba;
3rd place; Tyler Norman, 1st place; Emily Donelan, 2nd place

Abstract thinking skills

Radio Commentary

Throughout childhood and adolescence, children’s brains are developing in important ways.
One sign of this development is the ability to think about abstract concepts, such as “truth” and “justice.”
During middle school, children become better at abstract thinking, but they still need guidance.
Parents can initiate activities and conversations that involve these skills. Here are some examples that have worked for others:
• Challenge accepted ideas. Ask, “Why shouldn’t athletes cheat?” or “Why don’t children go to school on the weekends?”
Making young people support their accepted beliefs helps them understand the concepts behind those beliefs.
• Talk with your child about imaginary situations. Ask: “What if you won the lottery?” or “What if eating ice cream became illegal?”
• Do science experiments, and have children guess what will happen. Ask: “If we shine a lamp on this plant, will it grow faster or slower?”
• Play games that require thinking ahead. “Battleship,” checkers, and chess are good examples of games that require some strategy.
• Let your children make choices. It’s OK if they make minor mistakes, such as spending their allowance too quickly. Use real-life situations to help your children learn from their choices.
• Play “Twenty Questions.” Use categorical questions in general terms. Ask: “Is it a city?” instead of “Is it Miami?”

All these strategies help children develop their critical thinking skills.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Radio Commentary

More young people are killed by exposure to their parents’ cigarette smoking than by all accidents combined, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
This is potentially the biggest preventable cause of death in young children, the report concluded.
It linked secondhand smoking to premature deaths caused by low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infection, and asthma.
Parental smoking also costs the nation $4.6 Billion dollars a year in medical expenses and another $8.2 Billion dollars in loss of life, said the two pediatricians who worked on the study.
“There are lots of things that affect children's health, that reduce their chances for happy, successful lives,” said one doctor. “But here we have something we know how to prevent.”
Exposure to secondhand smoke can decrease lung growth in children, stunt their growth, cause asthma, and increase their lifetime risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.
It is even dangerous before birth, as smoking during pregnancy has been linked to serious physical consequences.
Pediatricians across the country encourage parents to quit smoking, and they try to persuade their teenage patients not to start.
We should all support these efforts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Raising great teens

Radio Commentary

Teenagers need their parents more than ever.
And though they might protest or seem uninterested, teens do consider their parent’s opinions and values when making decisions.
Here are some pointers for maintaining a good relationship with teens:
First, be actively interested in your teens’ life. Know who their friends are and make an effort to meet their parents as well. 
Talk WITH your teen, not AT him. Try to avoid arguments. If things get heated, take a time out from the conversation and come back to it when you are both calm.
Share your thoughts with your teen. Teens are old enough to understand what is going on in the world. Talk about the news.
Take your teen to work so she can see what the work world is like. Talk to him about what he thinks he might do after high school. Let your child know your own stressful circumstances. Children see and hear more than we think.
Make sure to schedule some one-on-one time with your teen. Everyone has busy schedules, but it’s important to take advantage of short times available with undivided attention  — for example, when you are both in the car together.
Take a few minutes to sit in his room when you go in to say goodnight, and talk about things.  Family dinners are also a good time to talk, so try to eat together as often as possible.
Find an activity you can enjoy together, whether going to the gym or watching the news.  It all makes a difference.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Signs of drug use

Radio Commentary

The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse has developed eight points to help raise drug-free kids:
• Talk to your children.
• Listen to your children.
• Set standards of right and wrong.
• Remember they learn by example.
• Love, support, and praise them so they will have a sense of self-worth.
• Keep them busy.
• Be involved with their lives.
• Educate yourself about drugs.
These are wonderful general principles that all parents should keep in mind. But they are not guarantees in any sense.
Many parents have asked how they can know, in time to be helpful, whether their children are involved with drugs.
The council has listed some warning signs for parents to look for that could signal involvement with drugs. These include:
• A drop in school performance
• A lack of interest in grooming
• Withdrawal, isolation, or depression
• Aggressive or rebellious behavior
• Excessive influence by peers
• Hostility and lack of cooperation
• Deteriorating relationships with family
• Loss of interest in hobbies and sports
• A change of friends
• A change in eating or sleeping habits

Always remember: help is available.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Homework tips

Radio Commentary

Without review, the average student can forget 80 percent of what he has read in just two weeks. 
To help students retain what they have learned, the first review of the material should come very shortly after they have studied the material for the first time. 
An early review acts as a check on forgetting and helps them remember much longer. When the time comes to review for a test, the material is fresher in their minds and easier to recall.
Sometimes, it also helps to recite the material out loud. Recitation reinforces the material and creates a different pathway into the child’s memory banks. 
After reading a paragraph, it often helps to have the student use his or her own words to describe key ideas.
One other homework tip has proven effective for many families: When students are given a study assignment that will be due in a few weeks, the students should spend time reviewing the tasks and creating a timeline the very first night. 
They should read through it carefully, and think about all the elements that need to be done — including research, memorization, artwork, or other creative touches.
The main advantage is that the student avoids waiting until the last minute and discovering, too late, everything that should have been done in the meantime.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Early adolescence

Radio Commentary

The toughest time for parents to connect with their children is probably the young adolescent years from 10 to 15, when parental support is the most important.
Those are the years when children strive to develop their identity, listen to their peers, and pay attention to the latest styles, no matter how strange they may look to adults.
It’s also the time when they can make decisions that will follow them throughout their lives. 
Parents should understand that change at this time is a natural part of maturing. 
Your young adolescent is not the first to experience doubt, anxiety, or worry.
Remember when it happened to you? And remember that it will eventually end.
Be sure to fight only the important battles. There will be a wide range of issues that arise during this time. Your child may decide to dye his hair and may associate with peers who are experimenting with drugs. 
Clearly the drug issue would have a much greater impact on his life. It might prove wiser to bite your tongue when you’re tempted to react to the short-term problem of hair color.
Young adolescents often think they are the only ones ever to experience what is now occurring. Remind them, by sharing your own stories, that this is not the case.