Friday, March 29, 2013

Sparking curiosity

Radio Commentary

            Sparking a child’s curiosity can be one of the important keys to lifelong learning. Parents can play a vital role in this process.
            For example, parents can make up trivia games to play with children, even when you’re on the run.
You can also help children become active partners in the learning process by giving them a chance to experiment around the house with measuring, cooking, repairing broken items, and other activities that require finding and using information.
You’d be surprised at what your home yields if you look around with a curious eye.
Also, be sure to know what’s going on in your child’s school.
Attend school events and send notes to teachers to express your availability to help. Write teachers to ask if you may phone them if you have questions or concerns.
Get involved with your children by asking for detailed descriptions of what they’re studying at school. Have them teach you some parts of what they’re learning.
Be sure your children know that you consider schooling very, very important.
Even if you can only attend a few school events, your presence will show your children that you’re interested in their school life and value its importance.
That’s a crucial lesson for them to learn and it can only come from the home. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Radio Commentary

We have made many strides in the area of tolerance and consideration for others, both as a society and in our schoolyards. 
But human nature and normal child development dictate that despite our best efforts, there will still be bullies and victims.
The world is full of them. And our schoolyards are no exception. That’s why teaching children to deal with these individuals is an important life lesson.
 The best way to safeguard your children from becoming a victim of a schoolyard bully is to teach them how to be assertive.
Encourage children to express their feelings clearly and to say no when they feel pressured or uncomfortable in a situation. 
Show them how to stand up for themselves verbally without fighting. And make sure they know to walk away in dangerous situations. Bullies are less likely to intimidate children who are confident and resourceful.
Here are some good ideas for parents:
Teach your children early on to recognize — and then steer clear of — children with bullying behavior.
Teach them to be assertive rather than aggressive or violent when confronted by a bully. They should say ‘no’ or state how they feel as a simple fact, with no ‘attitude’ attached.
Make sure they know not to threaten in any way. And make especially sure they know how to walk away without hesitation when it seems that real danger might be present. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Traits of success

Radio Commentary

According to Doris Lee McCoy there are several key traits that successful people have in common. The good news is that parents can help nurture and cultivate these traits among their children.
First, successful people enjoy their work. They can be good at it because they like doing it.
Successful people almost always have a positive attitude and plenty of confidence that gets them through the rough spots.
They invariably use negative experiences to discover their strengths. They see negatives as challenges to overcome and learn from.
Successful people are also decisive, disciplined goal setters. They don’t let distractions get in the way.
They have integrity and help others succeed. These traits come back to help in many ways, large and small.
Successful people are also persistent. They keep at it until the goal is reached, where others may get discouraged and choose another path. 
They also take risks, in the spirit of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained.’
They’ve developed good communication skills and problem-solving skills.
They surround themselves with competent, responsible, and supportive people, and know how to tell the difference.
They’re healthy, high-energy people, and schedule time to renew themselves before problems can arise.
These traits apply to young and old alike.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Media Myth

Radio Commentary

We are all concerned about the mass media’s influence on children. 
Certainly the media help reinforce some widespread myths, and people often act on the perception rather than the reality. 
For example:  Violence in videos and on TV helps create the impression that our neighborhoods are dangerous places, and we need guns, police, and the military to protect us.
Detailed reports of crime and terror create the perception among young and old alike that the world is unsafe. As a result, more people stay home, especially in urban areas, or act in a more guarded way. 
Ironically, this isolation by law-abiding citizens actually helps make areas less safe. 
News programs generally lead off with the most violent occurrence of the day — as opposed to less newsworthy acts of ordinary kindness, courage, and friendship. 
This helps give a distorted view of just how much violence occurs around us.
Children who understand this distortion are better prepared to deal with the real world. 
They understand that news reports are merely samplings of what is going on in the streets and around the world. 
They understand that decisions on editing and story selection are made from thousands of choices, and are made according to professional standards of both news and entertainment value. 
It is the oddity that is “new” and therefore considered news, rather than acts that are commonplace. And that is exactly the problem.

Monday, March 25, 2013

6 life messages

Radio Commentary

            There are so many things we want our children to know and to learn. Sometimes it’s hard to pare that list down into manageable chunks that are easy to digest and incorporate.
 Here are six critical life messages that bear repeating for young people.
            Every child should have these messages reinforced every day, because they form the basis of a feeling of self-worth.
They are deceptively simple, but surprisingly powerful:
            Message Number One: “I believe in you.”
            Message Number Two: “I trust in you.”
Message Number Three: “I know you can handle life’s situations.”
Message Number Four: “You are listened to.”
Message Number Five: “You are cared for.”
Message Number Six: “You are very important to me.”
            It’s easy to see how a child who gets these messages on a regular basis, whether verbally, or through actions, will be well-equipped to handle life’s challenges and learn well in school. 
            When you think of it, anyone of any age could benefit from these messages.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What do teens need?

Radio Commentary

The teen years can be tough to navigate, both for the teens themselves and for their parents.
It can seem as if all family interactions and relationships have changed. Sometimes new strategies are required to insure smooth sailing through these stormy times.
            Remember that teens need clear limits that define what is safe and acceptable
            They need discipline that is consistent and fair in all areas. They will be quick to zero in on actions that are seemingly unjust—even if the practices worked when they were younger.
            Teens need positive role models who find pleasure in work, reading, hobbies, and family activities. No role model in that area is more powerful than a parent.
Teens also need permission to fail, with a tolerance for mistakes. No child can be perfect in every way. The telling family interactions are those that happen when mistakes are made or disappointments occur.
            Never forget that teens need the chance to laugh and be happy, with their friends and their family. They need the chance to be successful, and it’s important to help them find an arena where that can occur.
Teens also need structured family activities, including meals and vacations. They need friends who provide a positive peer influence.
            Teens need the encouragement to be responsible. Positive reinforcement helps.
            They also need to be trusted and supported by important adults in their lives. Most of all, they need to be loved.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Radio Commentary

We’ve made a lot of progress in reducing the number of children accidentally poisoned each year. Much of the credit is due to public education on the topic.
            In the ‘60s, more than 450 children under the age of 5 were dying from accidental poisoning each year. That total has fallen to about 30. But it’s still too high.
Simple precautions remain critical:
• Keep medicines in their original child-proof containers, stored out of reach.
• Follow doctor’s instructions carefully when giving medicine to children.
• Store household cleaners safely—a high percentage of poisonings involve everyday cleaning products, cosmetics, cough and cold remedies, antibiotics, and vitamins.
• Teach children never to eat anything you haven’t approved.
A typical household contains products such as bleach, fertilizers, or paint stripper that can be fatal to a child.
            If your child swallows a poison, you must act quickly and calmly:
            If the child is conscious, determine exactly what was swallowed. The child could lose consciousness at any time.
            Call 911 or the local poison control center.
Have the container on hand so you can tell the center the exact contents of what was swallowed. If the child must go to the hospital, be sure to take the poison container with you for the doctors on the scene.
            Stay calm and give the professionals short, precise answers because time is often critical.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Janis Spracher

Talking with Teachers
Monte Vista School
March 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ingredients for success

Radio Commentary

Four simple ingredients can make any child more successful in school. 
First comes support. Young people need to know that someone is in their corner. They can be successful if they feel that someone cares deeply about whether they succeed or fail, and if someone is proud of their successes and their efforts.
Second is having boundaries and expectations. 
Children need adults who act like adults. 
Parents who are firm and loving have children who do better at school, feel more self-confident, and get into less trouble than children whose parents are either too strict or too lenient.
Third is empowerment. All people need to know they make a difference. 
Encourage children to provide service to others. Make sure they take part in school, community, or religious organizations that give them the chance to serve and contribute.
And fourth is constructive use of time. After school, children still need to be involved in constructive activities. Research shows that children who watch more than 10 hours of TV per week are less successful in school than those who watch less. 
So be sure young people have challenging and interesting activities to do after they leave the classroom each day.
These four elements — support; boundaries and expectations; empowerment; and constructive use of time — have proven to make a big difference in a child’s success at school and in life.