Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Freeway Driving

KTMS Commentary


Teens need to know that freeway driving demands special skills. 

Statistics show that fewer crashes occur on modern freeways, but the collisions that do occur are more severe due to higher speeds and increased traffic.

Freeway driving requires drivers to make complex but quick decisions at critical moments.

Identify for teens the correct procedures for entering and exiting a freeway.

Make sure they understand the need for advance route planning, and the factors that influence speed and lane selection.

Talk about the challenges involved with lane-changing maneuvers.
Have them use space-management techniques such as looking ahead and maintaining time gaps between vehicles.

Remind them that driving at the speed used by most other cars can reduce conflicts. This means they should choose a legal speed that matches the speed of other traffic. Have them consider visibility, traffic, weather, and road conditions.

Drivers can lose their sense of speed during extended freeway driving. They may start going much faster than they intended. Suggest that drivers look frequently at the speedometer and make corrections accordingly. 

All these actions help minimize the risks associated with freeway driving.

Reading Outloud

KTMS commentary 


It’s never too late to begin reading out loud to a child. And there is probably no more important activity for preparing a child to succeed as a reader. 

            So fill your story times with a variety of books. Be consistent, be patient, and watch the magic work.

            Children learn to love the actual sound of language long before they notice printed words on a page. 

            Reading out loud stimulates the imagination and expands a child’s world. The rhythm and melody of language become a part of their lives, and ease the transition to reading on their own. 

            Read stories that children find interesting but are beyond their own reading level. This way, you help them stretch their understanding and inspire them to improve their own skills. 

            Usually some time after age four, children begin to recognize words on a page. It can begin when a child recognizes a fast-food logo, or the brand on a cereal box. 

            Something “clicks” in a young mind, and children can look at a book and understand that the lines are words. With that, they begin to decode the mystery of written language.

            Be sure to have patience with young readers. Once the basic concept of reading takes hold, it’s usually full steam ahead. 

            The bottom line is that children who are often read to usually grow to love books.  

Parents are in a unique position to help children enjoy reading and see the value of it. If you haven’t already done so, today’s a good day to start. 

Strict

KTMS Commentary
Young children’s minds are full of information. This can make their attention spans very short.

You can help build their attention spans through activities that develop concentration.

You want them to learn how to pick one piece of information from the brain and focus on it. Concentration is key.

First, help your child pay attention to what you say by being very clear and focused when you talk. Look your child in the eye and use simple, direct sentences. Repeat important points several times.

Talk about what happened on a given day. Ask children questions that will help them focus on a specific event.

Have them talk about the event as long as they are able. At first this may be for just a few seconds.

It also helps to read together. Many children will sit to hear a book even when they won’t sit still for anything else.

When a story is over, ask children questions that will help them concentrate on specific characters or actions.

Finally, use pictures or props to focus a child’s attention. A child will be more interested in talking about a neighbor’s new kitten if you are both looking at a picture of a kitten while you talk. 

The most important thing in doing these activities is to be patient. Concentration skills can take years to fully develop, but it’s worth the effort. 

Concentration Skills

KTMS Commentary


Young children’s minds are full of information. This can make their attention spans very short.

You can help build their attention spans through activities that develop concentration.

You want them to learn how to pick one piece of information from the brain and focus on it. Concentration is key.

First, help your child pay attention to what you say by being very clear and focused when you talk. Look your child in the eye and use simple, direct sentences. Repeat important points several times.

Talk about what happened on a given day. Ask children questions that will help them focus on a specific event.
Have them talk about the event as long as they are able. At first this may be for just a few seconds.

It also helps to read together. Many children will sit to hear a book even when they won’t sit still for anything else.

When a story is over, ask children questions that will help them concentrate on specific characters or actions.

Finally, use pictures or props to focus a child’s attention. A child will be more interested in talking about a neighbor’s new kitten if you are both looking at a picture of a kitten while you talk. 

The most important thing in doing these activities is to be patient. Concentration skills can take years to fully develop, but it’s worth the effort. 

Communicating with teens

KTMS Commentary


Have you ever had a conversation with your teen that goes something like this:  How was your day? “Okay.” What did you learn in school? “Nothing.”

This is a typical exchange, especially in the preteen years. Here are some tips that have worked for others in trying to communicate with their children:

First, ask if it’s a good time to talk. If your child says no, you could respond by saying, “When would be a good time?” If no suggestions come forward, set up a time anyway and make sure it happens.

It also helps to set a good example by showing your child HOW to talk about his or her day. Talk about your day and then ask children about theirs.

Plan something together. Whether it’s a family vacation, visit to a relative, shopping trip or even something as simple as choosing a video to watch, young people like to be involved and feel like their opinions count.

Make the most of your child’s style, which varies from individual to individual.

Girls at the preteen age may still be comfortable just sitting down with a parent and talking.

Boys seem to be less self-conscious talking to a parent if they’re also sharing an activity such as playing a game of catch or building a model airplane. Activities help them loosen up.

Pay close attention to your child and see what seems to work best in different situations.

Don’t lose heart! These phases are quite normal.

Study Skills

KTMS Commentary


Good students are made, not born, and parents can play a big role in making that happen.

             Natural ability helps any student achieve.  But the habits of doing work thoroughly, neatly, on time, efficiently, and carefully, usually translate into higher grades and greater success in school.

Teachers provide the groundwork for good study habits, and parents can reinforce those skills outside the classroom.

            They can do this by keeping tabs on what their child is studying at school, and setting guidelines for work at home.

             It’s a good idea to make sure a student does some homework every night.

            If there are no written assignments from school to complete, there are always multiplication tables to practice, spelling words to memorize, or history chapters to review. And there are always books to read.

            Developing good study habits piles up many rewards— higher grades, stronger self-esteem, better discipline, and a heightened appreciation of learning. 

            These skills enable students to tackle difficult subject matter in an organized way.

            Maybe most important of all, having good study skills makes a child feel accomplished as a learner and provides a real sense that what takes place in school is important and is do-able. 

Communications with teens

KTMS Commentary


Keeping lines of communication open during adolescence is a key to getting the most out of this challenging time of life.

            Some high school students listed ways they’d like their parents to communicate. Here’s their advice:

            •  Don’t pressure us to achieve all the time.

            •  Praise us when we do well.

            •  Tell us you love us even if we act like we don’t want to hear it.

            •  Be honest with us.

            •  Don’t yell at us. Nothing makes us want to fight back more.

            •  Let us form our own opinions about some things. 

            •  If we have a major problem, help us solve it. Don’t solve it for us; if you do, we’ll never learn how to function as adults.

            •  Give us a chance to disagree with you without telling us we’re “talking back.”

            •  Never stop talking to us. You’re the only ones we can count on for reassurance and love.

            This is all good advice for anyone who deals with teens.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Prop. 13

KTMS Commentary


With our state once again in fiscal crisis, Prop. 13 often gets revisited as a point of reference. A Sacramento Bee editorial some time back raised a provocative analysis of Prop. 13’s long-term impact, and it bears repeating. 

The piece said that nearly 40 years ago voters passed Prop. 13 to curb runaway property taxes. But “little did they suspect they also were weakening their own ability to … control government.”

The Bee’s editorial pointed out that as a control on property taxes, Prop. 13 has been a great success. It stopped the inflation-driven rise in property taxes that caused tax bills on homes to skyrocket.

“But that was obtained at a big price — in tax fairness, in lost services and declining schools, in distortions in land use.”

The Bee asked:  “If California set out to redesign its tax system, would even Prop. 13’s most avid defenders choose to re-create what we have now?” 

It pointed out that as a result of Prop. 13, big houses in the wealthiest neighborhoods get tax bills lower than starter homes bought last week by young families. 

And that established firms pay lower taxes than upstart competitors down the block.

Plus, power was moved from local communities to the state Capitol, which now controls how money is divided among schools, counties, and cities.

The Bee claimed this adds to cynicism and discontent. It also adds to the state’s dire financial situation.

Sounds right. 

Take advantage

KTMS Commentary


School is like a full-time job for your children, with a wide array of opportunities. Be sure they take advantage of the many offerings available.

            Encourage children to stay involved with extracurricular activities, sports, or volunteering they may have started earlier in the year. After-school programs and enrichment courses provide chances for growth and challenge.  

Becoming as involved as possible will serve children well after graduation and will also make their school experiences more enjoyable.

They can meet different people, beyond their usual circle of friends.

In addition to the normal tests and deadlines, students will get to know teachers, coaches, and school staff members outside of structured class situations.

Those connections can help make school more enjoyable and less stressful.

The teamwork learned in sports, at student council functions, in theatre groups or clubs, can help in employment and community activities in the future.

If your children show a special interest or a certain skill, see what’s available to satisfy their curiosity.

A full-time job comes with ample responsibilities, rewards, and opportunities. That is the case with children’s schooling as well. 

Encourage your children to take advantage of all that’s offered and then stay connected.

Change for its own sake

KTMS Commentary


Will Rogers once said, “Schools aren’t as good as they used to be — but they never were.” The highly respected Michael Norman agrees.

            He said there is danger in the common notion that schools can’t get any worse and that any change will be for the better.

            Norman contends our schools have been asked to do more than any other school system in the world: We are the only country committed to educating ALL children.

            Do we know how to teach students to read, write, and compute? YES, says Norman.

Do we practice what we know in every classroom? No.

And sometimes that’s because social and financial problems prevent it, he says.

            Instead of major change for its own sake, we must narrow the distance between what we know and how consistently we apply it.

            There’s a big difference between change and progress. In fact, resisting certain changes may be more progressive than adopting them.

            Author Michael Fullan studied innovations and changes in American education over three decades.

            He believes that any attempt to reform or change schools must be rooted in two areas: what we know about how humans learn — and what we expect all students to know and be able to do as a result of their schooling.

            The rest is just glitter. It’s change without progress.

More Decision Making Skills

KTMS Commentary


There are actions parents can take to help children develop good decision-making skills.

First, always set firm limits. Children should know exactly what you expect regarding drug and alcohol use, gang affiliation, sexual activity, and school attendance. 

 There should be clear consequences for breaking those limits, and your enforcement must be consistent at all times.


You should also be aware of the example you set. 

Children of all ages are aware of your attitudes and habits. They are more likely to follow your example than your lectures.

The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” simply doesn’t work with young people.

It can help to network with other parents in your child’s school and in your neighborhood.

 A good parent-child relationship is the motivation for your child to follow your guidelines and standards. 

Remember:  Influence is not control. Have high expectations. This means expressing to your child statements such as: “You have everything you need to be successful” … and … “You can do it!” It does not mean pressuring children to achieve perfectionist standards.

The road to adulthood is never straight and smooth. But parents can help on that journey with the right attitude and the right tools.

Sleep for Teens

KTMS Commentary 


For years parents and educators have known that teens do not get enough sleep to meet their health needs. Now we know there is a new culprit: their cell phones.
Parents may be unaware that many teens sleep with their cell phones by their side, answering calls or text messaging throughout the night.
As a result, teens come in to school very tired, and even start experiencing the kind of ailments that arise from too little sleep.
Research has documented that on average, teenagers have traditionally gotten about two hours less sleep every night than they need. The situation puts teens at risk of increased accidents and general moodiness.
In the past, these numbers arose from the fact that teens were generally staying up too late and waking too early for the needs of their bodies. Those figures were calculated BEFORE the prevalence of cell phones.
According to research, on average teen bodies need nine hours and fifteen minutes of sleep per night. Prior to the advent of cell phones as bedmates, teens were only getting an average of seven hours of sleep per night. Now the numbers are far lower.
And fitful sleep, in short bursts, is not as healthful as uninterrupted sleep, so the health implications are far graver than they have ever been.
Of the estimated 100,000 car crashes a year linked to drowsy driving, almost half involve drivers age 16-24, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. What’s more, like humans of any age, teens get more emotional when they are sleep-deprived.
The best thing a parent can do to help teens get the vital sleep they need is to make sure there is no cell phone by their side when they go to bed. Period. Turn it off and take it away. It’s good parenting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Local Leaders-Steve Ainsley

Steve Ainsley, January 2012
video

Understanding Instruction

KTMS Commentary

Parents can help children learn to use their time wisely and safely, especially when using the Internet.

Surfing through the Internet provides many opportunities for exciting discoveries. But there is also the potential for encounters with the unknown.

Teach your children to navigate efficiently and safely by establishing household Net rules. These might include:

•  Have an action plan for using time online. Set a time limit and have children jot down an outline of sites or topics they want to check out. It is easy to waste a lot of time surfing the Net if you don’t have specific goals in mind.

•  Remember that homework on the Internet comes before playing games or socializing. The serious tasks need to be tackled first.

Then you can set up guidelines for game-playing, chatting, and emailing.

•  Make sure to emphasize keeping passwords a secret.

•  Let your children know that there are people on the Net who are up to no good and are trying to collect private information.

Make sure they know NOT to give their full name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, or any other personal identification information to anyone online without your permission.

The Internet can help students on many levels and can also provide entertainment and social interaction.

Give your children the information they need ahead of time to make good decisions and stay safe.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Online Tips

KTMS Commentary

Parents can help children learn to use their time wisely and safely, especially when using the Internet.

Surfing through the Internet provides many opportunities for exciting discoveries. But there is also the potential for encounters with the unknown.

Teach your children to navigate efficiently and safely by establishing household Net rules. These might include:

•  Have an action plan for using time online. Set a time limit and have children jot down an outline of sites or topics they want to check out. It is easy to waste a lot of time surfing the Net if you don’t have specific goals in mind.

•  Remember that homework on the Internet comes before playing games or socializing. The serious tasks need to be tackled first.

Then you can set up guidelines for game-playing, chatting, and emailing.

•  Make sure to emphasize keeping passwords a secret.

•  Let your children know that there are people on the Net who are up to no good and are trying to collect private information.

Make sure they know NOT to give their full name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, or any other personal identification information to anyone online without your permission.

The Internet can help students on many levels and can also provide entertainment and social interaction.

Give your children the information they need ahead of time to make good decisions and stay safe.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Supportive Parents


KTMS Radio Commentary


It’s important that parents understand the enormous influence they can have in helping their children do well in school. Their contribution cannot possibly be overstated. It is evident in every area of a child’s academic life.

            Parents can be especially helpful in two major areas: attitude and life experience. Both have a major bearing on school performance.

            As a start, parents can help in learning activities by playing board games or other activities with their children. Go for walks and talk about what you see around you. 

            Doing these simple activities can help children develop a thirst for learning. They can enhance curiosity and powers of observation and creativity.

            Parents should also talk with their children as often as possible, even as they go about their daily chores. These everyday conversations help build vocabulary and language skills in a very natural fashion. 

Children hear the rhythms and incorporate new words without even realizing that important learning is taking place.

            It’s always very helpful to have books and magazines available for children to read in their home. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to let your children read to you. If they see a word they don’t know, you can look it up together. 

            This habit will serve them well as their reading skills improve and they tackle more challenging literature and assignments.

            Supportive and caring parents go a very long way in helping bring about success in school.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kristen Amyx-Local Leaders

Kristen Amyx-Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. Airdate-December 2011
video





Parents and Teens

KTMS Radio Commentary

            A national study of adolescents found that parents have a critical role to play in helping children through a period of life that can be filled with dangers.

            Not surprisingly, the study found that teens who feel loved, understood, and paid attention to were less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors.

            There are four things parents can do to help their teens, according to the study:

1.         Set high academic expectations. Let teens know that school is important — and back up your words by setting homework times and talking with teachers.

2.         Be accessible. The presence of parents in the home at specific times of day made teens less likely to use drugs or alcohol. Those times were in the morning, after school, at dinner, and at bedtime.

3.         Send clear messages about avoiding drugs, alcohol and sex. Peers strongly influence teens, but parents also play a critical role.

4.         Lock up alcohol. Most teens have their first drinks at home. The presence of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes in the home significantly increases the likelihood that teens will use these substances.

These findings by the National Study of Adolescent Health offer a common-sense approach for parents as they attempt to help their teens through these difficult years.

Enjoying Reading

KTMS Commentary


It is important that children read well, and that they also enjoy reading.

            Experts say the best action for parents is to read to children and show children that they themselves enjoy reading.

            Start reading regularly when children are very young. Take time to find interesting books. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales are good starters for young children.

Some TV shows can be helpful by introducing children to letters and words. But that will not necessarily make children good readers because TV programs generally use sentence structures that are not very complex.

Children need to hear good sentence structures in order to learn important language patterns.

One of the best ways is to read good literature to children. Children who are read to will often try to read a little on their own or sound out words.

            It’s important to remember that there is no precise time or age when children should begin to read.

            For most children, reading readiness is a gradual process. It starts when they develop an awareness of print — such as print on cereal boxes or store signs. Children want to read when it becomes important to them.

Most children will be more eager to read if they see it is something you enjoy. So set aside time for your own reading and become a good role model for your children.

Prediction Skills

KTMS Radio Commentary

Reading skills are often enhanced through the use of prediction skills.

            Good readers use prediction throughout their reading. They constantly anticipate what will happen next.

            When reading with your child, find time to have the child write down what he or she thinks is going to take place.

Do this at the end of a chapter or in between the illustrations of a picture book.

Beginning readers need stories that are highly predictable. This predictability may take the form of rhyme, repetition, or patterned language.

Help children write down their prediction of the next word in a sequence.

They can then compare their choice with the one in the book. 

One good exercise is to make up short stories and have children write several endings.

You can then talk about which ending is “most predictable” or “most unbelievable” or “most inventive.” 

Experts agree: when helping your child become a strong reader, don’t forget that writing down predictions can be a valuable tool for improved reading skills. 

Selecting Good Books

KTMS Radio Commentary

A lifelong love of reading begins with children wanting adults to read to them and parents filling that wish.

Time passes very quickly and children will soon be spending quiet time reading books on their own.

Until that happens, be careful in selecting books to read to your child. There are several ways to find good titles.

Ask friends, neighbors, and teachers to share the names of their favorite books and the ones they know that children have enjoyed.

Visit your local public library. Ask the librarian for help in selecting books. 

Look for Newbery Award winning books.  These are always high-quality, high-interest pieces.

Check the review section of newspapers and magazines, and check online for recommended children’s books. That way you’ll know the new titles that are coming out.

As soon as they are old enough, have your children join you in browsing for books and making selections. It’s great reinforcement.

Try never to force reading and writing activities on children who seem reluctant. Don’t become frustrated if your child does not seem interested in reading or is easily distracted.

Forcing a child to read sends the wrong message. Some children take longer than others to get interested in the printed word.

Your best bet is to stay on the lookout for books that will attract your child’s interest.

Science Skills

KTMS Radio Commentary

The principles of science form an umbrella around almost everything we do. 

Many educators feel that science is also one of the most innately interesting subject areas for children.  

But sometimes a sheer love of science can get bogged down in the details of memorizing and instruction.

To help your child develop an interest in science, 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 machine, and food is the fuel.

            •  Encourage children to tinker with old clocks or broken appliances to see how they “tick” — but be sure to remove all electrical cords first.

            •  Hide any distaste you might have for your child’s interest in insects, scummy water, and other unappetizing aspects of nature. 

Children often find these natural items fascinating and should be encouraged to learn about their environment.

            •  Demonstrate scientific thinking by challenging general statements with the question, “How do you know that’s true?” It 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 the collections.

            Explore the many opportunities for science-related outings in our own county, so you can make learning a family affair.

Paying for College


KTMS Radio Commentary


Many families would like their children to attend college, but are concerned about the costs.

While paying for college can be a challenge, it is important to know that there are financial aid opportunities for everyone.

The factors that influence the cost of a basic college education are the type of school (public, private, or out-of-state), the time it takes your child to finish (the longer he or she stays, the more it will cost), and the location. 

Location affects the cost of housing, food, and transportation. 

Federal and state governments both offer help, along with private sources and foundations like the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation.

Your high school is the best single source of information about aid.

Here are tips that help reduce college costs:

•  Reduce the number of classes needed at college by taking Advanced Placement classes or courses at a community college.

•  Enroll in a community college and then transfer to a four-year school.

•  Take part in a Tech Prep program that is formally linked to a college.

•  Take advantage of federal programs like the HOPE Scholarship tax credit.

Remember the guiding principle:  Where there is a will, there really is a way.

Parent Tips


KTMS Radio Commentary


            By cultivating the right attitudes and good work habits, parents can help make sure that their children are able to take advantage of all that is offered at school.

            First, make sure they know that school is interesting and important, and that parents are valued partners.

            Be prepared. Know your child’s teachers, classes, and school rules. Know what type of homework is assigned, how often, and how long it should take to complete. This information helps your child prepare for each day.

            Talk with your child’s teachers. They need your help and have as much to learn from you as you do from them. 

            Attend events at your child’s school.

            Talk often with your child about what is happening at school. Ask questions about schoolwork, teachers, and activities. This will show that you really are interested and really do consider school important.

            Continue a good learning environment at home. Read with your child. Check homework every night, serving as a coach. 

            Ask teachers for advice. They know about child development and they spend a lot of time with your child. 

            Be sure to give teachers information such as changes in family circumstances, illness, or a death that could upset your child’s learning. 

            Teachers can better address a child’s needs if they know the circumstances that might be affecting behavior. 

Children's Contract



KTMS Radio Commentary

The future of any society aligns closely with how it treats its children. 

            A contract created for America’s children promises the following:

•  We promise to consider children’s well-being first in evaluating health and welfare reforms or other national policy.

• We promise to ensure that all children get the basics they need to grow up healthy.

• We promise all children a chance to achieve their potential and we expect parents to help by becoming active partners in their child’s education.

• We promise to reduce children’s exposure to violence — on TV, on our streets, and in our homes.

• We promise to help families stay together and help young people understand the responsibility of parenting.

• We promise to help working families stay out of poverty.

• We promise to support families by making sure that education and job training are available to people of all means.

• We promise to provide young people with places to go and things to do that will help them act responsibly.

• We promise to support all children’s healthy development.

• We promise to hold our elected leaders accountable for safeguarding the future of America’s children.

            We hope these principles will trigger an open and honest discussion about how we can best meet the needs of our children this year.

Cal Grants

KTMS Radio Commentary

More than forty years ago California set a goal of providing access to higher education for low and middle income students.

That goal was enhanced with the passage of funding for Cal Grants — cash awards for college aid.

March 2 is the deadline for students to apply for Cal Grant scholarship to use next year. The process is lengthy, so it is good to start as soon as possible. Here are the details:

•     The Cal Grant A program provides full tuition at California State University sites or UC campuses, or $9,700 a year in tuition assistance at a private college.

•     To qualify, a high school senior must have a B or 3.0 grade point average and a family income of less than $72,000 for a family of two to $92,600 for a family of six or more. Community college transfers can qualify with a grade point average of 2.4 or better.

•     Cal Grant B awards, for high school students with a 2.0 or better GPA, provides $1,550 for books and expenses for the first year at a community college or tuition at a CSU. In the second year, Cal Grant B awards also help pay for tuition and fees at a four-year university.

Applications and information about the scholarships can be obtained from:

§  High school guidance counselors or college financial aid officers

§  The website: www.csac.ca.gov.

§  Or by calling 888-224-7268

Remember: The deadline is March 2.