Friday, July 31, 2015

Hazelden serves youth

Radio Commentary

For most families, the initial discovery of drug use is a time of fear, uncertainty, and even panic. It can be encouraging to know that hope and help are within reach.

The highly respected Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation provides high quality services for families and young people dealing with the pain of addiction.

In fact, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation recently completed a major expansion for adolescent, residential, and outpatient treatment, through age 22.

And the Betty Ford Foundation Children’s Program has been second to none in its innovative approach to help children with a family member who is suffering from the disease of addiction.

These programs help children make healthier choices and provide a personalized approach, and support with long-term follow-up resources.
The annual Healthy Kids survey in Santa Barbara County reminds us how necessary these services can be for young people in our community.

The Teen Intervene program at Hazelden Betty Ford focuses on individual goals and personalized feedback. It consists of three 90-minute sessions with a Hazelden counselor.

Anyone concerned about a teen’s chemical use can refer that young person to the program by calling 800-257-7810, that’s 800-257-7810, any time, any day.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Community opportunities

Radio Commentary

I’m Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools.

Over the summer, look for opportunities in the community to engage your children.

Public libraries, YMCAs, and community centers are among the places that host free activities for young children and families, especially in the summer.

There are also some vibrant online groups for parents where moms and dads keep each other informed about local events, regular playgroups, and resources.

You can search for these groups on Facebook, MeetUp, or Google, but be careful to make sure you are accessing groups that focus on positive family supports.

A clearly worded description and active moderators are signs that the group is well-maintained and will have helpful information.

There are also a variety of Family Centers, which are great places for free playgroups and social activities. Parents and children can meet other families, learn about community resources, and take part in activities.

We are so fortunate locally to also have a wonderful zoo. The Goleta Railroad Museum has rides for little ones, and all our museums have a variety of children’s programs.

The beach is another great place to take children of all ages, and local libraries have story-reading programs on a regular basis.

Santa Barbara County is filled with community treasures for children.  Seize the opportunity! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cirone on Schools - Sydney Hunt

Sydney Hunt
Youth in Service

From “why” to “why not?”

By Bill Cirone

“This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues — courage,” then-Senator John F. Kennedy wrote in the opening of his Profiles in Courage, published in 1955 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957. In the book, Kennedy examines acts of political courageousness undertaken by eight different U.S. Senators during the 19th and 20th centuries. If integrity is informally defined as doing the right thing when no one is looking, courage, at least as Kennedy saw it for the purposes of his book, was doing the right thing when the world is watching, and when it could potentially come at extraordinary personal and professional cost.

It goes without saying, of course, that you don’t need to be an elected official or undertake life-altering risks to demonstrate courage. And you certainly don’t have to belong to a specific age group. Today I would like to profile a local young woman whose steadfastness and determination is making a difference in the lives of people in her community. Her name is Sydney Hunt, a 2015 graduate of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School who will be attending UCSB on a Regents Scholarship in the fall. She was also a winner of the Youth in Service Award, presented by the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation last spring.

I had the privilege of talking at length with Sydney last month, and I find her story — and her focus and energy — to be a source of inspiration and encouragement. Sydney, with a little help from her parents, grew a feel-good, solitary junior high volunteer effort at an assisted living facility into a high school club activity, and eventually into an incorporated non-profit entity replete with a charter, by-laws, and a board of directors.

“In my sophomore year of high school,” Sydney told me, “my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I wanted to learn everything I could about this neurological disease,” she continued. “But as I watched my grandmother’s condition worsen, I also felt the need to do something.”

She began simply by visiting a handful of residents at the nearby Solvang Friendship House, which provides personalized care to meet the needs of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Those visits would typically start with a conversation, but as her comfort level grew, she began participating in different activities, such as crafts, baking, and making floral arrangements. And creating playlists.

“Studies show that music can be therapeutic for Alzheimer’s patients, and there are indications that listening to music can slow the advancement of the disease. It sounds very simple,” Sydney says, “but building customized playlists for the residents of the Friendship House can make a big difference in their day. And perhaps their well-being.”

Despite the heartwarming vibe of “Pirates with Hearts,” the official club she started in Santa Ynez High after she began sharing the value of her volunteer work with her classmates and peers, it would be incorrect to characterize it as an overnight success. The group created a Facebook page, and Sydney and her friends would email high school administrators around the state touting some of their notable, but still very local, successes. It wasn’t until the Anacapa School in Santa Barbara responded enthusiastically and started their own club that Sydney caught the non-profit bug.

“I was trying to create a wider reach, but didn’t quite know how,” she says. “To incorporate and become a non-profit was my dad’s idea, and I think in doing so, we can take it to the next level.” Their non-profit, Students with Hearts, has already established an unofficial partnership with Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living Solutions. The partnership enables Students with Hearts the ability to begin a program in any one of Brookdale’s senior communities. The first chapter will begin this fall in Santa Rosa. Sydney will also be involved in forming a volunteer group at UCSB this fall.

Sydney is fond of quoting Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” She certainly walks that talk. But when I think about Sydney, I think of the quote Edward Kennedy used as he concluded his moving eulogy to his late brother Robert. “Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’” Kennedy said. “I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”

I am grateful to the Sydney Hunts of the world — women and men of all ages and abilities whose dreams consist of “Why nots?” They make our community and our world a better place. 

Helping a cause

Radio Commentary

It’s important for children to learn how to be good citizens, and one of the best teaching methods is for parents to model the right behavior.

One good place to start is to find at least one cause or need in your community where you can volunteer your help.

Let your children know why you think that area is important, and spell out for them how you are trying to help. Let your child join you if he or she wants.

Most children will be eager to become involved — but don’t force it if they’re not.

It’s important to let each child choose where and how to help, so they can take ownership in the progress that is made.

Opportunities range from helping other young people or senior citizens, to helping animals, or tackling an environmental project.

It’s also good to find and share success stories with your children.

It’s easy for any one of us to become overwhelmed by the problems in the community or the world. But the truth is that individuals can and do make a difference.

Talk to your children about the importance of joining forces. Encourage them to involve their friends in tackling big projects such as a creek or playground cleanup.

All these activities help reinforce the actions of good citizens. They help plant the seeds that individuals make a difference, and that in a democratic society we all have a responsibility to do things “for the good of the order.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teen partying

Radio Commentary

Where there are teenagers, there will be parties, and summer vacations 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 ahead of time gives teens a good idea about how to respond in a variety of situations.

Another important point to consider is 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.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

No child left INSIDE

Radio Commentary

It’s hard to believe it has come to this, but childhood is no longer synonymous with outdoor play.

Children are spending an average of 45 hours a week in front of a screen – televisions, computers, computer games. They are not spending time outdoors.

Children know how to build websites at a very early age, but not necessarily forts or tree houses.

Nature is becoming something on a television channel, not something in their backyard.

Research has confirmed what our grandmothers always said: “Go play outside. It’s good for you.”

It turns out that nature is important to children’s development in every major way —intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically.

Playing in nature is especially important to help children increase their capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development.

For children’s sake, parents need to be sure they play outdoors at least some of the time.

Leave No Child Inside is the name of a nationwide movement aiming to do just that, but parental encouragement is still the best way to reconnect kids with nature.

It’s an easy way to make a positive difference in children’s development in so many areas. Just send them outside in a safe area to play. They’ll figure out what to do. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beating the heat

Radio Commentary

In the excitement of a good pickup basketball game or even a leisurely game of tag, children might not notice the temperature rising.

But as the day progresses, their bodies react to the heat, and if children aren’t careful, they could come down with heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.

The body’s natural control mechanisms normally adjust to the heat. But those systems could fail if exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods.

Here are some tips for beating the heat and staying cool:
  • Limit most exercise or at least the most strenuous exercise to the coolest part of the day — early morning or late afternoon.
  • Have children wear clothing that is loose, lightweight, and light-colored. Choose clothing that draws perspiration away from the skin to keep the body cooler — cotton T-shirts and shorts, for example.
  • Make sure children drink plenty of water – don’t wait until they say they’re thirsty to take a drink. The thirst mechanism kicks in only after a body is too depleted. If children are exercising heavily in hot weather, aim for two to four glasses every hour.
  • Stay away from liquids that contain caffeine or lots of sugar — these actually cause the body to lose more fluid. Also, remember that a drink that is too cold might cause stomach cramps.
  • Make sure children periodically take a break in a shady area to cool down.
These are all smart, effective practices for beating the heat.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Talking with Teachers - Katie Curry

Katie Curry
Santa Barbara Junior High School

Boating, sun safety

Radio Commentary

Summertime usually involves water recreation, which can be a source of great family fun. It also poses some dangers.

So it is important to teach your children water safety rules, to help protect them when boating, swimming, or enjoying other water sports.

First, have children learn to swim, but never alone — use the buddy system.

They should know the items that can be used to help save someone in trouble — a rope, an oar, a branch, or a life preserver, for example.

They should never swim where there is no lifeguard on duty. When on a boat, they should always wear a life jacket and stay seated.

Another great danger associated with water sports has to do with the sun. Many people believe that a tan looks healthy, but prolonged exposure to the summer sun can be very dangerous.

In fact, excessive sun exposure during the first 20 years of life is a key risk factor for all skin cancer. And young children are especially vulnerable.

To help protect your children, keep infants up to six months old out of the sun or shaded from it. For young children, use sunscreen liberally, at least 30 minutes before exposure, and reapply often.

Use extra protection in areas with reflective surfaces such as water.

And beware: A cloud cover only partially reduces radiation. Skin won’t feel warm until it is already too late.

With the right precautions, summer can be a time of fun and enjoyment for all ages.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer tips

Radio Commentary

During the summer and year-round, it’s good to bolster the three R’s for your children. To start, have your children keep a diary of their activities.

Also take time every day for the whole family to read. Even 10 or 15 minutes is fine. Have your children follow a favorite newspaper comic strip.

It’s also fun to have them write letters or send postcards to relatives and friends.

For math reinforcement, they can review cash register receipts, checking for accuracy when you’re unloading groceries.

You can also teach youngsters to compute gas mileage. If you hold a yard sale, allow them to make change.

You can also help children get organized. Have them start a collection of anything. It could be rocks, stamps, baseball cards, bottle caps, labels, marbles, leaves, or bugs.

Have the children arrange them in some orderly fashion by categories, by color, or alphabetically. They could even keep a written log to go along with the collection.

You can also ask youngsters to organize photos in an album by date or activity.

Or, they can save newspaper or magazine photos of favorite athletes or heroes to create a scrapbook. These ideas can add to summer fun while bolstering the 3 R’s.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Radio Commentary

Many people believe that children today lack good manners and too often display rude behavior.

That may be a bad “rap” for the younger generation as a whole. Clearly, there are examples at both extremes of the spectrum when it comes to displaying good manners for every age group.

The fact remains that good manners must be taught; they do not come naturally.

In fact, bad manners are usually natural, selfish impulses that children are sometimes allowed to demonstrate.

Curbing poor manners and developing good ones requires parents to place real limits on their children. A caring adult may need to have a tug of war with a child who has developed the habit of a me-first attitude.

It involves taking away ordinary privileges, and saying “no.” Sometimes that’s harder for the parent than for the child.

Remember that good manners are not just about rules. It’s also about showing children how to be gracious and respectful.

Simple words like “please,” “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me,” go a long way, as well.

Teaching manners may start out with a negative approach of restrictions and consequences. But the outcome should always be a form of civility, respect, and love.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Children of addicts

Radio Commentary

Research shows that one in four young people lives in a family where a person abuses alcohol or suffers from alcoholism.

Children in these situations need to know they are not alone. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a disease. When one member of the family has this disease, all family members are affected.

Children need to know it is not their fault. They didn’t cause the disease and they can’t make it stop. They need and deserve help for themselves.

It is critical to know that young people with addicted parents are four times more likely to become addicted if they choose to drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.

They need to keep firmly in mind that they can’t get addicted if they don’t drink or use drugs.

Children in these situations should talk with an adult — a teacher, school counselor, or school nurse, a friend’s parent, a doctor, grandparent, or neighbor — anyone who will listen and help them.

They can also ask a school counselor or social worker to recommend a support group.
These are great places to meet other young people struggling with the same problems at home.
Children should know it is important to find caring adults who can provide the guidance and support they need to stay healthy.

They will feel better and can have a safe and productive life. It’s in their power if they understand these facts and act. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summertime activities K-3

Radio Commentary

Young students need activities that help them learn and stay sharp over the summer, and parents can choose from many simple ones for their children who are in kindergarten through the third grade.

Sorting and stacking helps teach classification skills. Ask your child to match and stack dishes of similar sizes and shapes.
Also have children sort silverware — forks with forks, spoons with spoons.
This is like recognizing the shapes of letters and numbers.

You can also use comic strips to help with writing.
Cut apart the segments of a strip and ask your child to arrange them in order.
Then ask your child to say the words of the characters out loud.

It also helps to encourage hypothesizing or guessing.
Use objects such as soap, a dry sock, a bottle of shampoo, and a wet sponge. Ask which objects will float when dropped into water in a sink or bathtub.
Then drop the objects into the water one by one to see what happens.

This all helps make learning fun, and it keeps young minds active over the summer months.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Car safety tips

Radio Commentary

More parents are traveling these days with ever-younger children in tow. When it comes to traveling safely, there are two practices that could save a young life.

First, when traveling in a car, always secure an infant in a car seat in the back seat.

The rear of a car is a far safer place in the event of an accident. Above all, never use an infant seat in the front of a car that has a passenger-side air bag.

If the bag deploys, it can seriously injure an infant by striking the back of the safety seat.

In a case where an older car only has lap belts in the rear, or shoulder straps that cross over the neck or face of a toddler, it is still important to use a safety belt.

In fact, any belt is better than no belt. Use a booster seat for a young child who has outgrown an infant seat. This will elevate the child so that the shoulder strap crosses the chest, not the neck.

If the rear seat has no shoulder straps, buy a booster seat with a harness or a shield. These devices have saved young lives.

Second: Remember that preventive and defensive driving is always the best bet — and drivers should take special precautions when traveling with young passengers.

But sometimes unforeseeable circumstances occur, or other drivers are not exercising the same care as you are.

At those times, it is far better to be prepared by making sure your child is adequately protected.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No smiling matter

By Bill Cirone

School is out for summer, we know. “In” are barbeques, baseball games, and U.S. Women’s World Cup titles. And viral video challenges, apparently. Last year’s Ice Bucket Challenge, designed to raise awareness of ALS, became a global social media phenomenon in July and August, with everyone from celebrities to schoolteachers getting doused. According to their website, the ALS Foundation received an astounding $115 million in donations during a six week period last summer.

Of course, it doesn’t take a million YouTube views or 10,000 “likes” on Facebook to signify a meaningful contribution to making a difference. Oftentimes it is the efforts of people and organizations who operate with low profiles, but who possess the requisite passion, focus, and expertise, who can change their parts of the world in measureable ways.

The dedicated staff of the County Education Office’s Health Linkages program and the amazing generosity of local funders, under the auspices of the Santa Barbara County Children’s Oral Health Collaborative, is a wonderful local example of that quiet yet determined commitment to improving lives.

But first, some statistics. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, despite the fact that it is largely preventable. The CDC reports that, as of 2012, nearly 23% of children ages 2-5 had untreated decay in their primary teeth. And it gets worse. In Santa Barbara County, it affects nearly 35% of children attending subsidized preschool programs.

When cavities and decay become severe, a number of complications can follow. It can cause pain that interferes with daily living and which prevents kids from going to school. It can lead to nutrition problems resulting from painful chewing. Tooth loss invariably affects a person’s appearance, to say nothing of his or her confidence and self-esteem. And, while rare, a tooth abscess has the potential to cause serious and even life-threatening infections.

In short, oral health concern in children is nothing to smile about. Indeed, it is the seriousness of this issue that prompted the above partnership here in Santa Barbara County. And together they have made a difference. Their advocacy was instrumental in Santa Maria’s decision to fluoridate its water in 2005, the first and only city in Santa Barbara County to do so. The results are remarkable: in 2009, the dental disease rate in screened schoolchildren in Santa Maria peaked at 50%; that number currently sits at just over 20%.

But the partners in this effort also realized they should not to limit their attention to chronic tooth decay. Together, with the help of extraordinary generosity of the Orfalea Foundation, they launched pilot orthodontia projects over a three-year period in Lompoc and Santa Barbara. A total of 52 students were identified through oral screenings as having severe need, no untreated decay, excellent hygiene, and a financial need based on free and reduced lunch status.

“There is a tremendous need for orthodontic services for children in Santa Barbara County who cannot afford them,” says Georgene Lowe, who runs the Health Linkages program. “Matching resources to meet needs will always be a challenge in work like this. But working with community partners who care deeply, like the Orfalea Foundation, and who in turn change lives, makes the work incredibly rewarding.”

“We are interested in creating sustainable solutions through entrepreneurial partnerships,” says Orfalea Foundation Vice President Catherine Brozowski. “We know there are smart, compassionate people in our community with the resources and expertise to help transition this orthodontia project from the ‘pilot’ stage to permanence. That’s when the community partnerships can truly flourish.”

Oral Health Program Manager MaryEllen Rehse agrees. “I have personally seen the physical — and emotional — changes this pilot project has made in these kids’ lives,” she said. “To see a kid smile, after being too embarrassed to do so previously? That is the kind of thing that can make your day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of making that happen for a young girl or boy?”

That’s a great question. “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do,” Mother Teresa once said. Smiles do matter. Our efforts to create smiles in Santa Barbara may not come with the fanfare of a viral video campaign, but that does not diminish their importance.

If you are interested in creating smiles for schoolchildren in Santa Barbara County, please contact MaryEllen Rehse at 964-4710, ext. 4465.


Radio Commentary

We’ve made a lot of progress in reducing the number of children who are accidentally poisoned each year. Much of the credit is due to public education on the topic.

In the 1960s, 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 childproof containers, stored out of reach.
  • Follow the 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 9-1-1 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 there.

Stay calm and give the professionals short, precise answers, because time is often critical.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

TV rules

Radio Commentary

In setting up rules about television viewing — especially over the summer — be sure to monitor what your children watch.

Encourage them to choose programs that make them think; that are free of violence and sex; and that feature characters whose values are similar to your own.

When watching TV with your children, ask questions like, “Why do you think that person did what he did?” Encourage your children to ask questions as well, and answer them honestly.

Limit overall television viewing time. During commercials, review what you just watched and ask children to predict what will happen next.

Turn off the television if you see things on it that you don’t like — but be sure to explain to your child why you are doing so. Say: “I don’t like what those people are doing because . . .”

Remember that when children are watching TV it takes them away from other activities like reading and sports. Plan games, trips to the library, and trips to parks and playgrounds to take the place of TV.

Once you’ve established a basic foundation for TV viewing, try to find new ways of using the television to teach and to have fun. Television can help teach your child geography and math, for example.

Have reference materials or a computer near the TV so additional information is available. Have your child look up new words in a dictionary, or look at an atlas to find places mentioned in a show. This way it’s fun and educational.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Planning for shopping

Radio Commentary

It can be trying, and even stressful, to shop in a grocery store or mall with a small child. Here are some steps that have helped other parents in the same situation:

First, before the shopping trip even begins, plan ahead by explaining the rules.

Say: “Stay close to me.” “Use your quiet voice,” and “No begging for candy or toys.”

Select a secret word or signal that you can both use to get the immediate attention of the other.

Role-play at home about how to act at the store. Agree on the rewards for good behavior. A favorite snack food or a stop at the park are good examples.

Promise to read a story or play a game at home.

It also helps to pack a treat. Bring a nutritious snack, such as raisins, cut-up apples, or nuts.

Bring a storybook. Keep a supply of little action figures or small toys handy. Try bringing a favorite blanket, toy, or book from home.

For a small child, tie a favorite soft toy to the handle of the shopping cart or stroller.

Check your child’s emotions. Is your child too tired or hungry to shop? Are you? If the answer is yes, postpone your trip or find a sitter for your child.

Don’t wait until the end of a tiring day. Go when you and your child are rested.

Friday, July 10, 2015


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 secondhand 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 dollars a year in medical expenses and another $8.2 Billion dollars 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 they try to persuade their teenage patients not to start.

We should all support these efforts.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Public funding for schools

Radio Commentary

Early in our nation’s history, some taxpayers accepted the principle of public schooling but balked at government funding of schools.

The early proponents of public schools won the discussion by making some strong points:
They asserted that the education of all children is a vital public interest and, more to the point, a shared responsibility.

They believed that public funding was critical to give schools a consistent base of support and make them accountable to the American people.

These early advocates also felt that public funding would lessen inequities in education and that it would help ensure a basic level of quality among all schools.

They felt that public responsibility for education would improve opportunities for children whose schooling was neglected.

In 1903, the civil rights leader W. E. B. Dubois wrote:

“Education and work are the levers to uplift a people. Work alone will not do it, unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.”

These points formed the strong basis for public schooling that endures to this day. Consistent public funding and a shared responsibility for educating all of our children must always remain core values.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Prediction skills

Radio Commentary

Reading skills are often enhanced through the use of prediction skills.

Good readers use prediction throughout their reading. They constantly anticipate what will happen next.

When reading with your child, find time to have the child write down what he or she thinks is going to take place.

Do this at the end of a chapter or in between the illustrations of a picture book.

Beginning readers need stories that are highly predictable. This predictability may take the form of rhyme, repetition, or patterned language.

Help children write down their prediction of the next word in a sequence.

They can then compare their choice with the one in the book.
One good exercise is to make up short stories and have children write several endings.

You can then talk about which ending is “most predictable” or “most unbelievable” or “most inventive.”

Experts agree: When helping your child become a strong reader, writing down predictions can be a valuable tool for improved reading skills. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Casals quote

Radio Commentary

Our nation just celebrated our day of independence, and it is good to remember that our free public school system 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.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summertime reading

Radio Commentary

Experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not can lose some of them.
As children’s first and most important teachers, parents have a major role to play in motivating children to read during the summer.
Here are some tips to help keep your child learning and reading.

Combine activities with books. Summer leaves lots of time for children to enjoy fun activities such as going to the park, seeing a movie, or going to the beach.
Why not also encourage them to read a book about the activity?

If you’re going to a baseball game, suggest your children read a book about their favorite player beforehand. In the car or over a hot dog, you’ll have lots of time to talk about the book and the game.

Visit the library. If your child doesn’t have a library card, summer is a great time to sign up. In addition to a wide selection of books to borrow, many libraries have fun, child-friendly summer reading programs.

Lead by example. Read the newspaper at breakfast, pick up a magazine at the doctor’s office, and stuff a paperback in your beach bag.

If young people see the adults around them reading often, they will understand that literature can be a fun and important part of their summer days. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Good citizens

Radio Commentary

Tomorrow, when we celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s good to remember that home is every child’s first community. What children see there influences greatly how they interact in the broader communities of their neighborhood, school, and ultimately the world.

Parents can have an enormous impact in helping young people become good citizens of their communities. Here’s how:

First, stay informed. Keep up with community concerns, beginning in your own neighborhood and extending to global issues.

Let your child see you using a variety of sources for your information: friends and neighbors, newspapers and magazines, radio and television, and responsible online sites.

Explain why it is important to vote in local, state, and national elections, and that at age 18 he or she will have this right and responsibility.

Find at least one cause in the community where you can volunteer to help. Let your children know why you think it is important and how you are trying to help. Let them join you if they want.

Opportunities range from helping other children or seniors, to helping animals or an environmental project. Share success stories with your children.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by problems in the community or the world, but individuals do make a difference.

Talk about the importance of joining forces for the greater good. That’s what has always made this nation great.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Inexpensive toys

Radio Commentary

Parents on a budget should not worry about buying expensive toys, especially during the summer.
Children learn just as well — and maybe even better — when they play with household items and simple toys. The trick is to see things “through a child’s eyes.”

Don’t throw away empty paper towel tubes. Four-year-olds love to look and talk through them.

A stack of discarded envelopes can be just the thing for playing “office.” And an old purse may be ideal for toting a child’s treasures.

Children love to use paint, crayons, pencils, and chalk to scribble or practice drawing. Cookie dough and clay are great for making sculptures, letters, and shapes.
Other free or inexpensive things that children love to play and learn with include:

  • Aluminum pie tins
  • Wooden spoons
  • Balls of all sizes (except those small enough to swallow)
  • Sponges
  • Measuring spoons and cups 
  • Blocks that stack or fit together
  • Plastic dishes
  • Old clothes for dress-up
  • And boxes galore. 

Children can play with simple toys in many ways. The best part is that there’s no one right way.

Exploring different ways to play with a toy helps children be creative and solve problems. These are useful skills for school success. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Swimming safety

Radio Commentary

Children have great fun swimming in pools or at the beach. But it is important that children stay safe any time they are around water.

All children should know how to swim well enough to survive an emergency. They should always swim with a buddy who has the ability to help them if needed.

Children should stay out of the water if they are overheated or overtired. They should never dive unless they know the area well enough, and they are certain the water is deep enough.

Make sure children check with a lifeguard about beach and surf conditions before swimming in the ocean.

Tell them if they ever think they are being pulled out by a rip current, they should stay calm. Instead of fighting the current, they should swim parallel to the beach. Once they feel free of the current, they should then swim to shore.
Finally, children should not overestimate their swimming ability. Weak swimmers should stay in the shallow end of a pool, or within an area marked off for them with buoyed lines.

In the ocean, swimming short distances parallel to the shore is safest.

Swimming can provide great exercise and fun. But it is important that children understand the dangers and stay “water safe.”