Monday, August 31, 2015

Sleep for teens

Radio Commentary

For years parents and educators have known that many teens do not get enough sleep to meet their health needs. Now there is a new culprit: their smart phones.

Parents may be unaware that many teens sleep with their smart phones by their side, answering calls or text messaging throughout the night.

Research has documented that, on average, teenagers have traditionally gotten about two hours less sleep every night than they need. This increases their risk of accidents and makes them moody.

In the past, this was caused by teens generally staying up too late and waking too early for the needs of their bodies. But these figures were calculated BEFORE the prevalence of smart phones.

According to research, teen bodies need nine hours and fifteen minutes of sleep per night. Prior to the advent of smart phones as bedmates, teens were getting an average of only 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 more grave than ever.

For example, 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 all of us, teens get more emotional when they are sleep-deprived.

The best thing a parent can do to help teens get the sleep they need is to make sure there is no smart phone by their side when they go to bed. Period. Turn it off and take it away. It’s good parenting.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Connecting with your school

Radio Commentary

Whether you have a concern to share with school officials or you are just seeking information, there are ways to approach a school that make it more likely you’ll get what you want.

First, get as much information as you can before you go. You may want to write down your questions in advance.

Be sure to make an appointment, rather than appearing with no warning. That way you can be sure that the individual you need to talk to will be available when you arrive.

Approach the conversation with an attitude that assumes everyone is working in the best interest of your student. Acting respectfully will ensure that you receive treatment that is respectful.

Include your student in the discussions whenever possible. If agreements are made to follow certain approaches, be sure to uphold your part of the bargain.

It’s also important to get involved and stay involved. Join the PTA or parent group, the site council, or just volunteer in a classroom or the office.

Most schools involve parents in decision-making practices and evaluations of the school’s goals.

As your student’s main advocate, you need to know how to make the public school system work for your child.

Schools welcome this involvement because they know that children with involved parents are more likely to work hard, obey the necessary rules, and succeed academically. It’s well worth the effort.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Collaboration is the stuff of growth

By Bill Cirone

Nearly all our Santa Barbara county students have returned from summer break and are back in school. Not long after the school year begins, the time comes for parents to meet with teachers and discuss their children’s progress.

Parent-teacher conferences can be a very helpful means of communication, and they should be a two-way exchange of information about a child. Parents always want to know how their child is doing, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they can help. But teachers also want to know of any stresses in a child’s life that could affect classroom performance and, of course, any special needs that a child might have.

To increase the effectiveness of these conferences, parents should consider taking some preliminary steps.

First, take time before the conference to think about your child’s strengths, weaknesses, study habits, and classmates.

Ask your child: What do you like about the classroom? What would you like to change? Do you understand the work? Do you feel you’re doing well?

There are also several questions a parent should consider asking the teacher during the conference:

  • What are my child’s best and weakest subjects?
  • How can I help him improve?
  • Is my child working up to his ability? If not, why do you think so, and how can I help?
  • Is my child’s schoolwork progressing as it should? If not, how can I help her catch up?
  • If my child is ahead of other students, what will challenge or encourage her?
  • How does my child get along with other students?
  • Are there any special behavior or learning problems I need to know about?
  • What kinds of tests will be given this year? What are the tests supposed to reveal?
  • Is my child’s homework turned in on time, in completed form, and does it meet your expectations?
  • How much time should be spent on homework each night?

Parents and teachers have much in common. Neither wants a child to fail. Neither wants a child to be caught between the pressures of differing standards at home and at school. Both know that learning goes on at school and at home.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present,” says best-selling author and Californian Alan Lakein, “so that you can do something about it now.” I would encourage parents to plan that conference early. Together, parents and teachers can become a powerful force for positive change in the life of a child. It’s worth taking a little time to make sure the initial conference is helpful and informative for all involved.

Avoid spoiling

Radio Commentary

Parents want to provide the best they can for their children, but many of them don’t know how to go about giving their children what they want without spoiling them.

Some well-meaning moms and dads can’t bear to see their children sad or disappointed, so they give them everything they ask for.

Remember that it’s possible to set limits so that children are less likely to become overly indulged.
Children are not always able to make the distinction between what they want and what they need. Parents have to do it for them, even if it makes children temporarily unhappy.

First, make sure that “no” means “no”  — not “maybe.” 

If you’re at all ambivalent, children will easily pick up on it. They sense when you are uncomfortable saying no to them.

When you don’t send a clear message, you actually reinforce pleading, whining, and even tantrums.

Remember that all children test their parents. That’s their way of finding out if you really mean what you say. So act secure about saying ‘no’ when you have to.
Of course it can feel very uncomfortable to deny children their desires. But children who get everything they want are not necessarily happier for it. Life will not always be so kind over the long haul.

In fact, children feel much more secure when boundaries are clear and parents are consistent about the decisions they make.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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 ensure 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 benefit from friends who provide a positive peer influence.

Teens need 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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Detail skills

Radio Commentary

People generally talk about reading and writing in the same breath. Certainly, many of the skills that make children successful in one subject make them good in the other.

For example, one important reading skill that benefits from writing practice is identification of details.

Parents should encourage children to provide details in their own written and verbal stories. This will help them become more aware of the way other authors use detail.

One writing exercise requiring detail is to have children give directions. Ask them to write very specifically how to get from home to school, or how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When children write thank-you notes to friends or relatives, have them describe in detail the gift they received and how they will use it.

You can also have children use a clipboard when watching TV. Have them jot down ad slogans that use good details.

They might write down phrases such as “the brightest, sharpest photos” or “crispy, crunchy crackers.”

Children can also take the clipboard along on family outings. Ask them to describe the “prettiest” thing they see on the trip, or the “most unusual.” Then challenge them to list as many details and descriptions as they can.

One way teachers measure improvement in young writers is to look at their use of details. The same is also true for improving reading comprehension: details matter.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Radio Commentary

It’s never too early to begin reading to a child. Even infants love the sounds of words in lullabies and rhymes.

Set aside some time for reading aloud every day. Let children snuggle close to you. That way, they will think of reading as a happy time when they have your full attention.

Your reading time doesn’t need to be long—10 or 15 minutes each day is fine.

Remember: if you read just one story a night to children, they will arrive in kindergarten with more than a thousand story-sharing experiences.

As you read, you can also boost a child’s thinking skills — and have fun.

Ask children to think about why something is happening in the story—or what they might do if they were in the same situation. For example, “What would you do if you were Little Red Riding Hood?”

When you’ve finished a book, ask children to think about how to change the story.

For example, “What would have happened if all three little pigs had built their houses of bricks?”

You can have fun with these questions. Even better, your children will be developing thinking and reasoning skills that lead to success in school.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Children push buttons

Radio Commentary

Many times something your child does can make you look at the world in a whole different way, or cherish a brief moment in time. It can be magical.

Sometimes, though, your child will know how to push your buttons. This can make you feel embarrassed, frustrated, or angry.

Often, as parents, our first reaction to those situations is to yell. We can’t always help it – that’s how our bodies respond.
The truth is that yelling is ineffective, and may be modeling for your child how to react in the future.
At worst, repeated yelling at a child can affect behavior at home and performance at school. It could even cause long-term issues.

Fortunately there are good alternatives.

First, forgive yourself. If you yelled at your child in frustration, just resolve that you won’t continue to do that, and let it go.
It has always been true that the most important time in a child’s life is the present moment. Parents always make mistakes. Don’t tie yourself in knots for past responses.

Then, be very aware that you are not alone.  It can feel awful if your child throws a tantrum in a store, bites another child, or fights hard with his or her siblings. Children do these things. It doesn’t make you a bad parent.

Most parents go through similar experiences, and you should take comfort in that knowledge.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hazelden success quotes

Radio Commentary

The success of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s services to young people and families struggling with addiction is best summed up by those who have been through the programs.

Said one young woman:  “It saved my life.  I don’t think I’d be alive if I didn’t come here.”

Said one young man:  “Before Hazelden, I didn’t know how to interact with people without drugs involved.” Sadly, his experience is all too common.

Another young person said:  “People deserve second chances. They also need space and time and positive people around them.”

He added:  “Hazelden taught me not only is hope possible, but you deserve it. I’m no longer a hopeless drug addict. Now I’m a drug-less hope addict.”

The program is straight-forward: Treat the whole person as well as the illness, treat every person with dignity and respect, be of service, and remain open to innovation.
Santa Barbara County has many local resources to help, providing high quality assistance. These include the Fighting Back program run by the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Rescue Mission, and Good Samaritan in Lompoc.

Families in crisis need to have multiple options.

Hazelden Betty Ford adds to this mix residential treatment centers in Oregon and Rancho Mirage that provide a holistic approach to the entire family. Further information is available at by calling 1-800-257-7800 any time, any day.

It’s important to know that help is available.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Starting early

Radio Commentary

From early on, children should have books to read, people reading to them often, and the chance to see others reading and writing.
Children should also be encouraged to talk about books they know, adding their own storylines or creating new endings.

The home environment has a significant impact on reading. Make sure it is filled with printed material.

Put up some signs around the house that use the child’s name. Have toys like alphabet refrigerator magnets. Label common objects with word cards.

Several Internet sites publish lists of wonderful children’s books.

There is no substitute for a caring adult who takes time with a child.

Vocabulary, language skills, and knowledge about the world are gained during interesting conversations with responsible, caring adults.

In daily life, parents should point out and read words that appear in a child’s environment — store signs, labels, TV titles.
Have your toddlers share in making grocery lists and checking them off at the store. Sing songs and tell stories whenever the opportunity arises.

Above all, talk to your child whenever possible. Simply hearing the rhythms and sounds of language helps with reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Science skills

Radio Commentary

The principles of science form an umbrella over 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 memorization of abstract concepts.

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 as the fuel.
  • Encourage children to tinker with old clocks or broken appliances to see what makes them “tick” — after you have removed all electrical cords.
  • Try to 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 and observe the collections.
Explore the many opportunities for science-related outings in our own county, so you can make learning a fun family affair.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Radio Commentary

Sometimes young people look for the easy way out. They may want to take a class that does not challenge them, or slide by with little effort.

It helps to make children understand the importance of challenging themselves to their fullest. Encourage them to take courses that are demanding — ones that get them to think and reach a little further.

Subjects or projects that require young people to push harder are well worth the extra effort. When they find an extra resource within themselves, they feel comfortable trying new challenges in the future.
By taking accelerated courses, your children might end up finding their life’s passion. The hard work will often pay off in experiences that they otherwise might not have been able to share.

The payoff might be as simple as interacting with students they’ve never talked with before, getting hands-on experience in a new area, meeting experts in a certain field, or writing college-level research papers that will better prepare them for higher-level academic challenges.

While children should be allowed to focus on the present moment, help them understand that the future will hold more opportunities for those with broader experiences.

Reaching beyond one’s grasp and finding success is positive reinforcement. It is a good way to keep at bay the fear that too often is associated with trying something new or difficult.

It’s been said that “You get what you settle for.” Make sure your children set their own bars high and use their skills and creativity to meet those higher standards. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back to school

Radio Commentary

When a new school year gets underway, families experience new routines, schedules, and priorities. Before summer ends, taking a few simple steps can help your child gear up for a great year.

Keep a large calendar, marking each family member’s activities in a different color.

Re-establish bedtimes for school nights. Get children in the habit of preparing for each school day the night before. They can set out clothes, pack a lunch, and set their backpack by the front door.

Scale back television time. Create a supervised study space for your child.

Establish a family reading time, and make a plan for after-school activities. Schedule adequate time for homework, play, clubs, practice, and sports.

Collect important telephone numbers. Update doctor and work numbers, plus those for the school office and a neighbor.

Start a change jar. This can ensure children will have spare lunch money on hand.

Set up a file for your child’s school papers. Place all school notices in it so you won’t misplace them.

Create a carpool. Compare schedules and determine which parents can drive kids which days. Have a back-up plan with another parent who will exchange pickup favors. This can be very helpful in case you get sick or delayed by work or traffic.

Taking these few steps can really help set the tone for a great year of school.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Road to readiness

Radio Commentary

Making sure that every child comes to school ready to learn is a worthy national education goal. But we are not yet nearly to that point.

One researcher examined the steps that must be taken to make it happen. The researcher determined that the quality of the parent-child relationship is key to language development.

Children need rich verbal experiences to draw from as they enter school. Parents should talk with their children all the time and read to them as often as possible.

Parents can share stories, and ask open-ended questions to spur thinking skills. This helps get children excited about learning new things.

According to the research, there are several preconditions for learning.

Good health comes first. Then come unhurried time with family, safe and supportive environments, and special help for families in need.

This sounds like commonsense, but unfortunately these items are not always in great supply.

The researcher wrote: “These principles are deceptively simple. Assuring that every child has the opportunity to learn requires collaboration among community and health care agencies, families, and schools.”

It involves institutions and neighborhoods working together to help meet basic needs.

It is a promise unfulfilled in this country at this time, but it is a worthy goal to pursue for all our children.

This is the road to readiness. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Supportive parents

Radio Commentary

It is important for parents to 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 play board games or take part in other activities with their children. Go for walks and talk about what you see around you.

 These simple activities can help children develop a thirst for learning. They can also 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 way.

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 explore it 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, August 11, 2015

Back to school basics

By Bill Cirone

Early August can be marked by a number of things: one last family vacation, perhaps; close-out deals on patio furniture; and Major League Baseball playoff races that are just beginning to heat up.

For educators and families with school-aged children, early August also means “back to school.” Indeed, by the time this article hits the press, many of our north county schools will already be back in session. For others, the start of the new school year is just days away.

While the hope is that enjoyable summer activities enable students and teachers alike to “recharge their batteries,” the fact is that the transition back to the structure of a school day and the inherent academic rigor to which our students will be exposed can present challenges to children and their families.

Here are a few things parents can bear in mind as they help their children get back in rhythm for the new academic year.

Reset the body clock.  In a few months we’ll be turning our clocks back an hour. But back to school also means turning back the body clock. Odds are kids have been staying up later — and sleeping in later — during the summer months than they will once class is back in session. With the prolonged daylight hours of summer still with us, it can be difficult for kids to make the adjustment.

But given that most health professionals suggest that school kids get between 9-12 hours of sleep a night, it is important that they adjust their bedtime in order for them to be well-rested and attentive at the start of the school day. Being consistent with earlier bed times, shutting off the television an hour before lights out, and keeping the stress and excitement levels under control in the evening hours can all make that transition easier.

Clear the decks. One of my colleagues, proud of his “by-the-bootstraps” upbringing, tells the story of how his car’s alternator quit on him as an 18 year old college freshman, 700 miles from home while en route to school. He walked to a nearby payphone in rural North Carolina and called his mother.

“Call me back when you get it figured out,” she told him.

While encouraging independence and problem-solving abilities in children is an important part of parenting, the reality is there may be things that require immediate attention when kids head back to school. 

Insofar as they are able, parents should put off that business trip, time-consuming volunteer activities, and other non-urgent projects until after the kids have settled in. Being available to help their children resolve schedule conflicts or problems with records and helping them get acclimated to the school routine can go a long way in minimizing any anxiety or confusion they may experience at the start of the school year. 

Keep calm and learn on. Speaking of anxiety… It goes without saying that it can be a significant impediment to a child’s academic progress. Parents’ sensitivity to this potentiality is especially important as the school year begins. While it is OK for parents to acknowledge their child’s apprehension about a negative experience that might have occurred in the previous academic year, for instance, it is just as important that they reinforce their child’s ability to overcome that anxiety. And remember, kids take cues from the behaviors their parents display. Parents would do well not to overreact to those inevitable bumps in the road. Rather, they should be ever mindful of the importance of modeling confidence and optimism for their children.

Getting to know you. “I always appreciated it when parents would reach out to me to inquire about how their child was doing in class,” one of my friends, a former teacher, recently told me. “You pour so much time and effort into shaping these young minds,” she continued, “and it’s heartening to be reminded of the fact that those efforts are being reinforced before and after the school bell.” 

Teachers have a formative influence on their children, and parents are well served by getting to know those professionals who are impacting their children in such measurable ways. While the frenzied first couple of days of school is probably not the time to pop in on your child’s teacher, it could be beneficial to all parties to schedule a meet-and-greet. Teachers’ contact information is always available at the front office. Call ahead to schedule a time early in the school year to introduce yourself.

“Education,” George Washington Carver once wrote, "is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” As those school room doors open for business once again this month, I encourage parents to keep the lines of communication open with their children and their teachers, with the goal of making their educational experience a rich and rewarding one.

After-school programs

Radio Commentary

Finding high-quality, affordable, supervised care for children before and after school can be challenging for working parents.

It’s a good idea to explore all kinds of options, including family-based care, child care centers, school-based programs, or those offered through religious organizations.

Here are some tips:

Visit several programs. Ask for references.

Does it look safe? Do staff members seem to enjoy interacting with the children? Are there other children your child’s age? Do the activities fit your child’s interests?

Ask if all caregivers have first aid, CPR, and child development training?

Are the discipline policies compatible with your own philosophy? Can children choose activities? Is there an effort to encourage independence and build self-esteem?

Count the number of adults. Be sure there are enough staff members to supervise all children during all activities.

Request the data. How long has the program been open? What percentage of children return each fall? Is the program certified or accredited?

Get informed. Find out about efforts in your community to expand options for child care before and after school.

Then stay informed. Once a child is enrolled in a child care program, be sure to visit and check things out regularly.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Parent participation in middle school

Radio Commentary

The rate of parental involvement at school often declines when children enter the middle grades. But it doesn’t have to, according to Mary Simon, author of How to Parent Your Teenager.

Here are some ways parents can participate after their children leave the elementary ranks:

  • Serve as a volunteer in the school office, library, hallways, or cafeteria.
  • Listen to students read.
  • Be a tutor.
  • Share your hobbies, culture, or special skills with students.
  • Help with clubs and activities. Organize and distribute sports uniforms, be a timer for debates, or teach students how to play chess.
  • Chaperone field trips and dances.
  • Support your school’s fundraising efforts.
  • Contact sources of funding to help support special projects.
  • Serve on school committees.
  • Lead or support PTA efforts.

Simon says her own involvement enriched her understanding of her son’s life in junior high.

What makes participation more difficult at these levels is the fact that students often feel  more independent and sometimes act as though they don’t want their parents involved.

Don’t fall for it. Deep down, young people are really pleased that their parents still care enough to participate.

And it’s a very good way to stay in tune with what’s going on.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Radio Commentary

Transitions can be difficult for children, whether they involve end-of-summer issues, the beginning of a new school year, or changes in the family situation.

Here are some tips to help children move more easily through transitions:

First, let your child know that a change is coming. If there is a family calendar, mark the event. Help the child enjoy the steps leading to it.

If pleasant memories can be associated with the change — such as shopping, going out for ice cream, or going to one last fair or festival, it makes the transition easier for a child.

Respect the fact that your child may need time to express and work through feelings.
Listen to what is important to your child.  Maybe it’s special time to play with a friend or visit a relative.

Whether the transition involves a new schedule, a new sibling, or an older sibling going off to college, change can create anxiety and insecurity.
Listen for the source and try to face it positively without denying your child’s fears. Reassuring your child won’t take away all the feelings of uncertainty, but it can plant a seed of hope.

Transitions are a part of life. The better we can understand the responses to change, the better able we are to help our children deal with them.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Teach goal-setting

Radio Commentary

One key ingredient to success in any field is being prepared. Setting goals and working to reach them is a discipline that assures a measure of success regardless of the task at hand.

Taking young people step-by-step through a goal-setting process is very helpful.

To start the process, ask young people to identify one learning goal they have for the week — like turning in a report on time, reading two chapters, or memorizing a certain number of vocabulary words.

Have them write the goal down and keep it where they can see it every day.

Show them how to break the goal into smaller steps. Using a written report as an example, they could read two chapters every day, and spend one day writing the report.

Help them identify obstacles to achieving their goal, like sports practices, music rehearsal, other homework, or even fatigue. Help them devise ways to overcome those obstacles.

Show them how to use self-motivation. Ask them to think about how they will benefit directly when they reach their goal.

Make sure they check in with you as the week progresses. Identify problems that arise and talk about solutions.

At the end of the week, have them evaluate how they did, and use that information to set a new goal for the next week.

After a few weeks of using this technique, most students can continue the cycle on their own, setting goals and working to reach them. It is a very valuable discipline to master.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Take advantage

Radio Commentary

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

Encourage them to get involved with extracurricular activities, sports, or community volunteering.

After-school programs, enrichment classes or accelerated courses provide year-round opportunities for growth and challenge.
Becoming as involved as possible will serve children well after graduation and will also make their school experiences more enjoyable.

Students will have the chance to get to know teachers, coaches, and school staff members outside of structured class encounters. Those connections can help make school more enjoyable and less stressful.

Allow children to have fun and give their best effort, without necessarily striving for perfection.

The teamwork learned in sports, at student council functions, in theater 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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top five ways

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 throughout the year. 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. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Innovations in Education - August 2015

Local Leaders - Rod Lathim

Rod Lathim
Writer, Director, Actor

Talking with Teachers - Estela Montes

Estela Montes
Hapgood School, Lompoc

Children need consistency

Radio Commentary

Children need consistency. They thrive on routines and consistent responses. It helps bring order to their world in a way they can handle.

Children are also more likely to listen when they can anticipate the responses they will receive from their parents.

Being consistent with discipline is especially important. And it’s critically important for both parents to be on the same page with discipline, whether they live in the same household or not.

For this reason, parents should agree together on the disciplinary techniques they will use, and when they will be called into play.

If you disagree, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance to help mediate these discussions, because they are important for the sake of the children involved.

In fact, professional assistance, when needed, creates a safe space for discussing these issues, which works to everyone’s advantage.

It’s a rare parent who has never felt embarrassed, frustrated, or angry by their child’s behavior at one time or another. Having both parents react the same way, or use the same disciplinary techniques, helps a child understand boundaries and consequences.

The goal is to raise a happy and healthy child, who understands there are limits in the world, and very specific results if those limits are reached.

Having both parents approach these issues in a consistent way creates an environment where children can thrive — and that’s the bottom line for all of us.