Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fighting prejudice

Radio Commentary

In this season of goodwill, make sure your children understand that prejudice and discrimination are unfair. Here are some suggestions from the Anti-Defamation League and the National PTA.
            First, accept each of your children as unique and special. Let your children know that you recognize and appreciate their individual qualities.
Children who feel good about themselves are less likely to be prejudiced.
Also, notice unique and special qualities in other people and discuss them with your children. Help your children become sensitive to other people’s feelings.
Studies show that caring, empathetic children are less likely to be prejudiced.
            Share stories and books with your children that help them understand the points of view of other people. When conflicts do occur, encourage your children to think about how the other person might be feeling.
Make it a firm rule in your family that no person should be excluded or teased on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, accent, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or appearance. Point out and discuss discrimination when you see it.
Teach your children respect and an appreciation for differences by providing opportunities for interaction with people of diverse groups.
Studies show that children playing and working together toward common goals develop positive attitudes about one another. It all makes a difference.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Innovations in Education

December 2013

Teacher of the Year- Dos Pueblos High School
Volcanoes- Righetti High School

Friday, December 27, 2013

Latchkey suggestions

Radio Commentary

            Many parents worry about the need to leave children home alone while they work. Here are tips that can help ease your mind.
            First, make a set of rules and post them where they can’t be missed. Some useful items for the list include:
  • Children should go straight home and not speak with strangers on the way.
  • They should always keep the door locked.
  • They should always answer the phone, but never say they’re alone. They should say their parents can’t come to the phone, take a message and hang up.
  • If children find a door open or a window broken, they should go straight to a trusted neighbor and call a parent or the police.
  • Drill your child on how to call the police and give your complete address clearly.
  • Children should have clear access to emergency numbers, and know what to do in case of fire, or when the smoke detector goes off. Have a fire escape plan.
  • Set up a telephone routine if you can be at a phone each day when the child is due home. Call and say hello, or have the child call you. Work out an alternative so children can be assured human contact if you are unavailable. 
  • If you’re going to be late getting home, let your child know well in advance. 
            Even young people who are quite confident about staying home alone can have some nagging fears set off by a strange noise or an ambulance siren.
            Many schools have programs for children of working parents. Remember, you’re not alone.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ethic of caring

Radio Commentary

An ethic of caring is worth fostering among our children if we want to live in a society that is compassionate and kind.
Research confirms what common sense tells us: the more a young person values compassion, kindness, and helping people, the more likely he or she is to actually help out when the need arises.
            That’s why it is important to promote values of caring in our communities, our schools, our families, and our congregations.
This is especially the case in modern times, when the media messages that bombard our young people are filled with conflicting values – violence, celebrity worship, materialism, and very little of the old-fashioned “sweet” stories young people used to hear and see at every turn.
            It’s unlikely a young person will develop caring values unless he or she is constantly exposed to adults who model and reward them. 
This would include parents and teachers, plus a broad array of other adults and role models as well.
            What’s more, it is critical that these values be reinforced in young people’s everyday lives, in order to override the competing messages that surround them through music, videos, and games.
            Though we live in times when the country appears polarized and fragmented, the goal of fostering an ethic of caring is not impossible to achieve. 
            It will take a concerted effort among those who value that outcome. It’s clear we ALL have our work cut out for us if we want to succeed. I, for one, feel deeply that it is worth the effort.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Solving problems

Radio Commentary

            Decision-making and problem solving are important skills to teach your child.
            Talk with children about challenges they face. Helping them create a list of possible responses to a variety of situations can be a great learning tool.
            Set up scenarios where children tell you how they would handle or deal with a certain situation or problem. Come up with an outline or show them how to take steps to tackle an obstacle.
            It will allow them to feel confident about solving the problem or making the decision.

            Be sure to follow through when you are confronted with a problem and show children the approach you use. Or tell them a story about a tough decision you had to make.
            Realizing that everyone faces similar experiences makes children feel less frightened and become better prepared.
            When you’ve handled something you never thought you could, you really feel stronger and more self-confident.
Young people who experience these feelings are much more likely to continue to face new challenges successfully.
            Remember: Don’t just handle problems for your children or make their decisions for them.
Teach them the skills they’ll need to solve problems by themselves. You can’t always be with them.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Joy of reading

Radio Commentary

        A Columbia University professor inspired a generation of teachers to help young children become good writers.
One of her books is a parents’ guide to raising lifelong learners, and it offers some very good advice.
Her basic counsel is that all things come to those who read. If children read avidly and read a lot, they will write better, spell better, they will know more, and they will care more.
For parents, it is critical not only to support reading, but also to do it in the proper way.
She paints two different pictures to illustrate her point. In the first scenario, the parent asks a child arriving home from school if he has any homework. The child says, “Yes, I need to read.”
The parent says, “It’s good to get your homework done right away. Why don’t you go up to your room, sit at your desk, and do your reading? It really matters. That’s how you get ahead — by reading.”
That’s one way to support reading. Here’s another: The parent greets the child by saying, “You’ve had a really long day at school. I bet you’re ready for time to rest and snuggle. Why don’t we each get our books and read here on the sofa? I’m in the middle of mine now.”
“I don’t know that book you’re reading. What’s it like? You’re so lucky to have teachers point you to great books like that.”
The professor says that though both approaches support reading, the second conveys the message that reading is one of life’s great joys.

And that can make all the difference.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Armchair critics

Radio Commentary

In attempting to help children become wise to the ways of television, it can help if parents encourage them to become armchair critics.
As a start, one important principle to stress is that TV’s world is not the real world. This seems so obvious to us as adults that sometimes we forget to point it out to young people.
Children — particularly those under age seven — are especially vulnerable to the illusion that the events portrayed on television are real.
According to developmental research, it’s not until about the second grade that children develop the intellectual ability to tell the difference between what is real and what is imaginary.  
At that point, discussions can take place about what is being viewed.
Parents can learn to casually “pull out” bits of information about laugh tracks, and the mashed potatoes that masquerade as ice cream in commercials. Pointing out these techniques helps break the video spell.
Showing how these images are manipulated helps persuade children to be skeptical about what they see on the small screen.  
In turn, being skeptical cuts down on the manipulation that media messages can exert on young people.

So give your young “armchair critics” the ammunition they need to dissect media messages and understand how advertising, cartoons, and other programming can exert influence if you don’t know how they work.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Best things are free

Radio Commentary

Holiday time can be the most loving and, at the same time, the most materialistic period that our children go through each year. 
            Sometimes it’s good to reinforce that the most important things in life do not always involve the exchange of dollars.
            It’s so easy for a parent to reach for some money or a piece of candy as a reward for good grades or extra effort.
But there are much better ways to show gratitude and pride. The National PTA insists that “hugs, kisses, and compliments are worth more than anything money can buy.”
            In fact, some of the best incentives don’t cost any money at all, but continue to reap rewards year after year.   
            You’d be surprised how much more staying power hugs have, or pats on the back, smiles, or extra attention. 
            Reading together could be another reward. It’s a gift that brings you close to your children.
            Also, compliments have much more impact when they are given face to face, or said to others loud enough so that the child can hear them. It can also be effective to hold family testimonial dinners for children. 
            The successes can cover any special contribution — fixing the DVD player, drawing a comic book, helping someone in your neighborhood, or meeting a goal. 
            It’s never too early to underscore for children that many of the best things in life are not “things” at all, but attitudes and actions that show kindness, concern, and appreciation.