Friday, November 29, 2013

Volunteer code

Radio Commentary

            Volunteers make a huge difference in our public schools. 
             If done correctly, volunteering can provide invaluable help for students who are struggling. It can provide an extra set of hands, eyes, and ears to teachers who are working hard to meet the needs of all students.
            To help volunteers do their job even better, the state PTA created a code of ethics that includes the following items:
  While I may lack assets my co-workers have, I will not let this make me feel inadequate, and will still help develop good teamwork. My help is valued and important.
  I will find out the best way to serve the activity for which I’ve volunteered, and will offer as much as I can give, but not more. 
  I must live up to my promise, and therefore will be careful that my agreement is so simple and clear it cannot be misunderstood.
  I will work with a professional attitude because I have an obligation to my task, to those who direct it, to my colleagues, to the students for whom it is done, and to the public.
            These items are good practices for all volunteers to keep in mind as they strive to make a difference for children.
And that, of course, is the bottom line for all of us.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Joyful child advice

Radio Commentary

The Joyful Child Foundation provides important safety advice for young children. It’s a good idea for parents to go over these items with young members of the family.
The foundation’s advice includes:
   Big people should never ask you to go with them without letting you ask your parents if it’s okay.
   Big people should not look at you without your clothes unless your parents say it’s okay, like at the doctor’s office.
   Big people should not tickle or touch your body’s private parts — the places covered by a bathing suit or underwear.
   Big people should not tell you to keep secrets or say they will hurt you or anyone else if you tell.
   Big people should not ask you to help them find things like lost pets. They should get help from other big people.
   Big people should not take your picture or give you presents without asking for your parent’s permission
   If anyone makes you feel scared or hurts you, YELL, SCREAM, RUN and TELL a grown-up you trust — a parent, teacher or principal.
This advice is important for every child. It can provide peace of mind for all involved if children are well-versed in these concepts.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Teen partying

Radio Commentary

Where there are teenagers, there will be parties, and holidays are often a likely time for these to occur.  
If your teenager is attending a party, here are some key points to consider:
Know where your teenager will be. Get the name, address, and phone number of the host. If the party's location changes, have your teen let you know the new location.
Contact the parents of the party-giver to verify the party location, offer your help, and make sure that an adult will be present. You’ll also want to confirm that alcohol and other drugs will not be allowed.
Transportation to and from the party should also be discussed. 
Let your teen know that you or a specific person can be called on for a ride home, no questions asked.
Discussing possible scenarios gives teens a good idea about how to respond in a variety of situations.
Another important point to consider — curfew. Let your teen know when to be home. Stay up or have your teen wake you when he or she gets back. You may find it’s a good time to ask how the evening went.
Sleeping over at the location of the party may also be appropriate, but talk to your teen and the host's parents ahead of time.

Communication is essential. Build a sense of trust with your teen and you're more likely to get honest information.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fellowship of humans

Radio Commentary

        The 25 lessons for life written by Marian Wright Edelman could be a syllabus for everyone’s schooling.
As president of the Children’s Defense Fund, she wrote the book for her own children, but they truly stand the test of time for all.
One lesson, for example, cuts to the heart of many of our nation’s problems.  
She writes: “Remember, and help America remember, that the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender in a democratic society.”
She writes to her children: “Be decent and fair and insist that others be so in your presence.”
She asks how long our nation will take before it understands, that its ability to compete and lead in the world is bound as tightly to its poor and nonwhite children, as it is to its white and privileged ones.
When it comes to building a decent and just America for all our children, she says:  
“We are not all equally guilty, but we are all equally responsible.” 

Certainly these are important words for all children to hear and absorb, and important thoughts for the adults who impart this powerful message.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Find the positive

Radio Commentary

Negativity appears everywhere in media reports, because conflict makes news. 
Violence and negativity also appear in movies, games, and music videos, mostly because the manufacturers consider it entertaining — and because they are rewarded financially by producing this sort of content.
This negative bombardment can give a false impression to young people that the world around them is not very positive. 
For this reason, it’s a good idea to find time to talk with children about good things.
Focus especially on what is positive in their neighborhood and their school.   
Positive stories surround us if we make a point of looking for them – neighbors who’ve helped neighbors, people with worthy causes, and so forth.
It is also very clear from the research that developing a positive attitude in school-age children is important to success in the classroom. 
In fact, hearing positive news can help your child feel good about school in general and schoolwork in particular.
Make it a special point to share your enthusiasm about students who help out and make a difference in the community.  
By holding up those young people as a model, your children may then strive to be one of them.

That’s how the chain of compassion begins, and that’s how we can help pass it along for future generations. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips for self esteem

Radio Commentary

         Study after study shows that students who have a basic level of self-confidence perform better in the classroom.
         They are more willing to take part in discussions and offer opinions. They are less hesitant to ask for help when they need it.
         These are all important to school success.
         Here are some self-esteem building tips for parents to help cultivate those traits in their children.
         The suggestions all involve “accentuating the positive.”
• Give plenty of love and hugs. Children thrive on it.
The opposite is also true: Never physically or mentally hurt your child. The wounds go deeper than you think and are longer lasting than they seem.
• If both parents work, arrange the best child care possible. If your child is alone, provide safety and activity rules that are to be followed without fail. Whenever possible, avoid changing childcare arrangements.
• Be a confident role model. Children need parents to set the pace. Shore up your own self-esteem — but avoid having your children feel that they could never rise to your lofty level.
• Place a value on education by providing quiet time for homework, and help out if necessary. Talk about school, and show support by keeping your school appointments and attending school events.
All these actions help children feel good about who they are and what they do.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Student stress

Radio Commentary

        A study shows that stress from school hits students hard at all ages and grade levels. 
In the study, students named more than 300 stress factors they felt at school. The number one stress was schoolwork itself.  
Contrary to myth, most students work hard at school and want to do well. Having difficulty can cause a great deal of stress.
More girls than boys cited social stresses, and peer pressure about their appearance. More boys than girls said they felt anxious about discipline. This dovetails with studies that show more boys are disciplined than girls.
Also listed were stresses ranging from riding the bus to preparing for a career. 
Clearly, no student can lead a stress-free life — plus, that would be terrible preparation for the real world. But we know that an overload of stress can cause physical and emotional problems that compound the situation.
For this reason, it is a good idea to reduce some of the stress in children’s lives. Methods include using alternative forms of discipline and increasing cooperative activities. 
It’s also critical to understand that each child is different, and matures at a different rate. 

This knowledge prevents us from creating one-size-fits-all situations where deviations from the norm create an additional form of undue stress.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Managing anger

Radio Commentary

Everybody gets angry, but you can help your child take responsibility for heading off angry outbursts.
Start by asking your child what situations seem to make him angry. He might say:
When I lose a game. 
When someone says something untrue about me. 
When my little brother uses my things. 
When I want to do something that I can’t.
Then brainstorm alternatives with your child about how to diffuse the emotions.
Ask, for example, “If you’re losing a game and you know that can make you angry, what might you do instead?”
One technique is to help think of a few phrases your child can repeat over and over until the anger subsides, such as, “It’s only a game,” or “I can stay cool about this.” 
You should also help your child practice things he can say to others to get out of a situation where he’s likely to get angry. 
He might say, for example, “I have to go home now,” or “I’m too mad to talk about this right now.” 
Other suggestions to help a child control anger might include listening to music, running around the yard to wear off some energy, or writing a story about the situation. 

With parents’ help, most children can learn to take responsibility for managing their anger before it gets out of hand. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Top five ways to connect

Radio Commentary

Here are the top five ways for parents to connect with their child’s teacher:
Early in the year, make arrangements to meet the teacher. This is an ideal time to share information about your child so that the teacher can make the best possible connection.
Take a “no fault” approach when dealing with difficult issues at school. Blaming teachers or classmates only strains relationships. 
Join forces with teachers to reach a common goal: helping your child overcome difficulties and find success.
Drop your child’s teacher a note any time. Do you have a question about homework? Is your child upset about something that happened at home? 
Were you really impressed by a school project? Pass it along.
Call your child’s teacher for a specific reason — or for no reason at all. Teachers appreciate hearing from you. A good tip: ask teachers beforehand for the best times to call.
Bring a list of questions to meetings with teachers. Prepared questions help the meeting stay focused and keep you on the issues that matter.  

These are great ways to support your children in school. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

A nation of education

Radio Commentary

The percentage of the United States population that has completed high school and college has increased over the past generation.
            As late as 1970, only 55 percent of the population age 25 years and older had completed four or more years of high school.
            That total has jumped from 55 percent to nearly 80 percent.
            The percentage of 25-year-olds who have completed four years of college has increased from 11 percent to 23 percent.
            These are findings of the National Center for Education Statistics.
            Many people find it surprising to learn that, at any given time, nearly one-third of Americans are involved with our education system.
Think about that.
            The United States has a population of nearly 314 million.
            Of those residents, more than 77 million students are enrolled in American schools and colleges.
            Many residents also work in the education system. An additional six million Americans are employed as elementary and secondary school teachers and as college faculty.
            Another five million work as professional, administrative, or support staff of educational institutions.
Clearly, education is a central portion of who we are as Americans, and nearly a third of us cherish it enough to participate in it or work for it. It’s an impressive statistic.