Friday, June 28, 2013


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 passive 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 a year in medical expenses and another $8.2 Billion 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 to persuade their teenage patients not to start. 
            We should all support these efforts.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paying for college

Radio Commentary

Many parents 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 or private, in-state 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 such as the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
Your high school is the best single source of information about financial 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 such as the HOPE Scholarship tax credit.
Remember the guiding principle:  Where there is a will, there really is a way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer activities

Radio Commentary

Summer can continue to be a time of learning for young people, and it’s important that parents keep that in mind.
As a family, choose an important news event to follow for a day or two. Ask each person to find as much information on the topic as possible — read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch TV news, or check online. Then talk about what everyone has learned.
You can also make a family game of discussing a special issue. For example: “Teenagers should be allowed to vote.” Or, “There should never be any homework.”
Ask your children to think of all the reasons they can, to support their views. Then ask them to think of reasons opposing their views.
Which views are most convincing?
For variety, you can assign family members to teams and have them prepare their arguments, pro and con.
Exercise also helps keep the mind sharp, and summertime is a great time for fitness. Ask your children to do at least one kind of exercise every day. For example, they could run or walk briskly for 10 minutes.  
When possible, they should walk, instead of riding in a car, for any distance less than a mile.  
Have your children create their own week-long exercise plans. Try to think of a modest reward for sticking to the plan. Then exercise right along with your children, for everyone’s health.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Opinion differences

Radio Commentary

        There will come a time when you and your child have different opinions. It’s inevitable.
Accept this fact and understand that depending on a child’s age, personality traits, and peer influences, he or she is certain to see things from a different perspective at times.
Accept these differences of opinion and use the opportunity to discuss the topic in question. 
Encourage independent thinking and listening to others. Getting to know people better and understanding the perspective of others are vital to future emotional and psychological well-being.  
It’s also very healthy and affirming for children to hear you say these words when appropriate: “You’re right – I hadn’t thought about it that way.” 
When they grasp the idea that we can always learn something new and see something from another point of view, they are more likely to keep open minds as they engage in a spirited defense of their own beliefs. 
Help them flesh out their arguments and approach issues from different sides. Show them that everyone is entitled to an opinion but that not all opinions are equally valid, especially if they are based on emotion or misconceptions, rather than fact.
  A thoughtful debate is often very thought-provoking. Helping your children become articulate, thoughtful, and respectful will help them at all stages of their lives. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Casals quote

Radio Commentary

       Our nation will soon be celebrating our day of independence, and it is good to remember that our free system of public education is the very foundation of our democracy.
In other countries, schooling was only for the children of the elite. Here, we take all comers. We give everyone the opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, wealth or even aptitude.  
And what do we teach our children in our classrooms?  
Pablo Casals made a wonderful comment about educational ideals for our children.
He said, “Each moment we live never was before and will never be again. And yet what we teach children in school is 2 + 2 = 4, and Paris is the capital of France.
“What we should be teaching them is what they are.
“We should be saying: ‘Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the world there is no other child exactly like you.
“In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child exactly like you. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.”
Good thoughts for all to hear — and a true indicator of our freedom and opportunities.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Listening ladder

Radio Commentary

            Listening is a critical skill for success. It is often in short supply, which makes it all the more valuable.
In fact, becoming a better listener is beneficial to anyone who wants to communicate effectively.
            Listening well helps build stronger relationships, and is useful in resolving disputes. Most importantly, listening is the real key to acquiring knowledge.
            Here are six steps that can help anyone become a more skilled listener and climb the ladder of success. They spell out L-A-D-D-E-R.
For “L”: Look at the person who is speaking to you.
For “A”: Ask questions to make sure you understand.
For “D”: Don’t interrupt.
For the next “D”: Don’t change the subject.
For “E”: Empathize with the speaker. Try to feel what they are feeling.
For “R”: Respond verbally and nonverbally, with nods, smiles, and spoken responses.
Going through these steps can help anyone become a better listener, and for students that is an especially helpful tool. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reading maps

Radio Commentary

        Reading maps is an important skill for everyone to master.
Help by putting your child’s natural curiosity to work. Even small children can learn to read simple maps of their school, neighborhood, and community.
Go on a walk and collect natural materials like flowers or leaves to use for an art project. Map the location where you found each item.
Create a treasure map for children to find hidden treats in the yard or inside your home. This can even be a great idea for birthday parties. Encourage children to play the game with one another, hiding the treasure and drawing the map. 
See if your child can find your street on a county or city map. Point out where your relatives or your children’s friends live.
Point out different kinds of maps, like state highway maps, city or county maps, and bus route maps. Discuss their different uses.
Before taking a trip, show your children a map of where you are going and how you plan to get there. Look for other routes you could take and talk about why you chose the one you did. 
Children sometimes like to follow the map as you travel. If you are on a long trip, you can point out what town you have just reached and ask children to find the next town on your route.
All these activities help with geography skills year-round.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Childproof yards

Radio Commentary

While exploring the outdoors this summer, curious youngsters can sometimes face hazards in their own backyards.
So take a look at the yard where your child plays and check very carefully for any danger spots.
Make sure wading pools and buckets are emptied after use to prevent drowning or bacteria growth.
Make sure all pools are surrounded by a fence and a self-latching gate. Check all locks and latches to make sure they are functioning properly.
Also check that the spaces between railings in a fence are narrow enough to prevent children from getting their head stuck between them.  
Check also for thorny or poisonous plants. And make sure clotheslines are out of reach. They are appealing play items but have proven harmful. 
It makes sense to store all lawn tools and chemicals out of reach of young hands.
Make sure deck stairs have child guards and that all furniture is kept away from deck railings, to prevent young climbers from getting into trouble.
Finally, make sure wooden decks or chairs are free from splinters. What might not affect an adult can be quite painful or even harmful to young skin.
Using common sense is the best rule of all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Suicide prevention

Radio Commentary

Change is a natural part of the teen years, but some changes are more serious than others. They may be warning signs of depression or even potential suicide. 
If a teen shows signs of a serious problem, encourage him to get help. Warning signs include:  
Major changes in eating or sleeping habits.
Severely violent or rebellious behavior. 
Withdrawal from family or friends.
Running away.
Persistent boredom or trouble concentrating. 
Unusual neglect of appearance.
Radical personality change. 
Preoccupation with the theme of death. 
Giving away prized possessions, and 
Expressing suicidal thoughts, even jokingly. 
Parents can help a depressed teen. First, listen. Don’t dismiss the problems as trivial. To him they matter a great deal.
Be honest. If you are worried about your teen, tell him. Professionals say you will not spark thoughts of suicide by asking about it. 
Share your feelings. Let your teenager know she’s not alone. Everyone feels sad or depressed occasionally.
Get help. Find a physician, psychologist or qualified professional. Don’t wait for it to “go away.” Simple depression can escalate to the point that the teen may think of suicide as the only way out. 
If you see signs of depression, take them seriously. You could be saving a life.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Childhood stress

Radio Commentary

Many adults think of childhood as a happy, stress-free time. However, experts in child studies say that in many ways childhood is as stressful as any other age. 
Young people also report that stress can make some of their days miserable. Fortunately, the following activities have been found to help stressed-out children at any age: 
Help them get exercise. Learning good exercise patterns can help them release negative stress. 
Teach them to breathe deeply and slowly. This can help them calm down if they feel themselves tightening up. 
Have them get involved in an activity that is just for fun. 
And, probably the most effective stress-reducer for children is for parents to reduce the stress in their own lives. Studies show that the ways parents deal with stress has a strong influence on their children’s ability to cope. 
Parents can model good coping skills by keeping themselves in control at all times. 
Parents should set aside time every day to do a stress-reducing activity with their children, like taking a walk, gardening together, playing cards, or cooking. 
And parents can help relieve children’s stress just by listening. Children need to be able to tell someone when they are worried, scared, or angry. 
These steps can go a long way toward helping children manage stress.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Radio Commentary

When it comes to building a child’s sense of self-worth, never underestimate the power of a smile.
Children develop a sense of their own identities from the reactions they get from other people — especially their parents.
A child whose parents smile when she enters the room gets the message that she is valued and her parents are happy she is who she is.
Parents who frown at a child, even if they are not intentionally trying to be negative, send a message that they see something wrong or displeasing.
We have held an end-of-year awards ceremony that honors students for their academic achievements and their strong commitment to community service.
It is very customary for students to remark that through community service they had come to realize the simple power of a smile.
This was true whether they were helping children, the elderly, or those fighting illness.
So make smiling at your child a habit. A smile tells your child you are happy to see him and spend time with him. Even at the end of a tiring day, the effort it takes to smile will be worth it.
For building a child’s self-esteem, your smile can be worth more than any words.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bee stings

Radio Commentary

This is the time of year that parents should think about the risk of bees stinging their children and take some precautions.
Honeybees will sting if provoked or if they’re defending their nests.
The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources has a list of precautions that children can take to avoid getting injured by bees. 
First, children should be taught to stay away from ALL honeybee swarms and colonies.
If they encounter a bee swarm, children should run away quickly. Teach them to protect their faces and eyes as much as possible while running. 
Children should get inside a car or building to take shelter. Tell children not to swat at bees. Rapid motions will cause them to sting.  
If children do get stung, tell them to go quickly to a safe area, such as a building or vehicle. 
The bee’s stinger should be removed as soon as possible. Do not squeeze the stinger because pressure will release more venom. Instead, scrape out the stinger with a fingernail or credit card.
Wash the sting area with soap and water. Then, apply an ice pack for a few minutes to relieve pain and swelling. 
Be sure to seek medical attention if your child has trouble breathing, or has been stung numerous times. 
These simple steps can go a long way to prevent bee stings, or at least to ease the pain after being stung.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TV and information

Radio Commentary

Children used to acquire knowledge of the world in a gradual, controlled way. They learned how to behave by watching adults and modeling their actions. 
The slowly developing reading skills of young people restricted them mostly to stories and facts that were deemed suitable for their age level.
But times have changed. Today children are flung quickly into the realm of adult knowledge. 
Certainly the mass media bombard children with messages at every turn. Rock and rap song lyrics, DVDs, and advertising all play their parts. Television, the Internet, and computer games are also major players.
Messages in ads, TV programs and games, online — and even some content on the nightly news — would have been shocking to see just one short generation ago.
Young viewers can’t always distinguish between the drama and trauma of soap operas and adventure shows, and the day-to-day routine that most adults live.
Without proper guidance, children can grow up dissatisfied with lives less exciting and glamorous than the TV heroes they admire or those on their computer screens. Those figures can avoid handling conflicts that can’t be solved in 22 minutes -- or worse, in 22 seconds.
Creating a family of media critics is one answer to this challenge. “Talking back” to the TV or computer screen is a good first step. And remember to be aware of media content, and use good judgment in your selections. 
These steps are a key to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reading over the summer

Radio Commentary

Summer gives children a good break from the stresses of academic assignments and tests during the school year.
But it is important to keep some skills active so that children don’t completely lose the drive to learn and to read.
Studies show that children who read during the summer gain in their reading skills. Those who do not read over the summer can experience learning losses. 
Here are some ways to help keep your child learning and reading throughout the extended break from the classroom.
First, have plenty of reading material around your home. 
Storybooks aren’t the only thing that young people can read for fun. Be sure to have newspapers, magazines, and informational material on hand that might spark the interest of a young reader.
Continue to read aloud with children. Take them to see a local storyteller -- or be one yourself.  Don’t forget to improvise different voices or wear a silly hat to make the story that much more interesting.
What’s important is keeping reading skills active.  
It’s also critical to reinforce for young people the idea that reading can be fun and exciting. It can cure boredom and expand the mind. It can provide great adventures and help them meet really interesting people.  
And it’s a great way to spend your time.