Wednesday, August 31, 2016


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 have 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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Schools and skills

Radio Commentary

There is no thrill quite like the one that comes from mastering a challenge.
Remember the first time you realized the marks on a page were words, and you could understand them?
Or the first time you looked through a microscope, played an instrument, or understood what someone was saying in another language?
U.S. schools seek to give that same opportunity to every child every day by helping students set high standards and specific goals.
Education also gives students life skills like self-discipline, patience, and knowledge about the importance of sharing. Students learn to pay attention when others are speaking.
Many schools also teach children how to solve disagreements through conflict resolution. Extracurricular activities, from student government offices to volunteer projects, also offer chances to learn life skills.
Author Thomas Henry Huxley wrote: “Perhaps the most valuable result of education is the ability to make yourself do the things you have to do, when they ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”
And former Xerox CEO David Kearns added: “Education not only imparts the great lessons of history, citizenship, and science, it also teaches people to think, to solve problems, to take risks, to be an entrepreneur, and an innovator.”
That is, in fact, the great strength of the American public school system and always has been. It deserves our support.

Monday, August 29, 2016

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.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Family involvement

Radio Commentary

When people hear the term “parental involvement in school,” they usually think it means taking part in PTA activities, helping to chaperone field trips, or volunteering in the classroom.
It’s important to remember that another form of parental involvement is even more crucial — taking part in education at home. 
This means encouraging children to read, monitoring their homework, reading to them, placing reasonable restrictions on TV viewing, and making sure they go to school every day. 
It also means talking to children about why school is important.
Many children do not always get such attention. In some cases, both parents are working and are simply too tired at night or are not inclined to do so. In single-parent families, often it is impossible for a parent to cover all these bases.
Many modern children spend at least as much time watching TV as they do in school. And, of course, if students don’t attend school regularly, they can’t benefit from what it offers.
Parents have to be around the house to supervise; they have to put pressure on their children to turn off the TV and do their homework or read. They have to make sure their kids go to school even when there is some small reason for staying home.
This kind of parental involvement is hard work, and relentless work, because it must be constant. But it’s hard to think of anything more important parents can do for their children.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Detail skills

Radio Commentary

People generally talk about reading and writing together. Certainly, many of the skills that make children successful at one make them good at the other.
For example, one important reading skill that benefits from writing practice is identifying details.
Parents should encourage children to provide details in their own oral and written stories. This will help them become more aware of the way other authors use detail.
One writing exercise requiring details 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 item and how they will use it.
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 as they can, including shapes, colors, textures, and impressions.
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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Outside the comfort zone

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

Almost anyone who has ever had to address a group of strangers can attest to the fact that speaking in public can be a nerve-wracking experience.

But what if you don’t even speak the same language as the audience you’d like to address?

2016 San Marcos High School graduate Angela Gladkikh knows exactly what that feels like. When she moved from Siberia to Santa Barbara County in the middle of her sixth grade year, she didn’t speak a word of English.

“I felt very alone,” Angela says, recalling that time. “I sat in that classroom, but understood next to nothing. I had no resources, except for an Oxford Russian-English dictionary. It wasn’t until my eighth grade year that I began to feel some confidence.”

In addition to her dictionary, Angela carried a notebook around with her. “I’d write a word or a phrase down in my notebook,” she says. “Then that night I’d write out the definition. I’d spend the weekend reviewing the definitions I had jotted down.” In time, Angela added a thesaurus to her list of handy references she toted around with her.

“I wasn’t satisfied with learning the simple stuff,” the soft-spoken teenager says today. Angela, who was a member of San Marcos’s Health Academy and who is attending Georgetown University this fall to study international health on a pre-med track, tends to push herself. “By the time I reached the ninth grade, I really wanted to learn more complex words. I found them to be especially helpful in writing.”

She was serious about improving her communications skills, so much so that, just two and a half years after arriving in this country, she joined the school newspaper. The experience was transformative.

“When writing became something I didn’t have  to do, I learned to really enjoy it,” she says. “In the process, it really fed my interests in other subjects, and I found that with each day I was becoming more comfortable in both writing and speaking.”

The extent to which she challenged herself to get outside her comfort zone wasn’t limited to a writing desk, however. She ran for student office as a freshman — and lost. But that did not leave her deterred. Her junior year she was elected as a student representative to the school board, an experience she loved.

“I realized that the more involved you are, the more passionate you become about making a difference,“ she says. Her classmates recognized that passion, too: just before the start of her senior year, she was elected president of San Marcos High School’s class of 2016.

Angela has every intention of carrying that passion for making a difference into adulthood. She spent her final three years of high school in Model United Nations, an educational simulation and academic competition “in which students learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations.” When asked about her career aspirations, she answers without hesitation: the World Heath Organization.

Angela Gladkikh is a living embodiment of the kind of tenacity, resilience, and commitment to excellence and service that make our schools and our community such a special, dynamic place. She is also a role model for us all.

Volunteer code

Radio Commentary

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

These items are good practices for all volunteers to keep in mind as they strive to make a difference for children.
And that, of course, is the bottom line for all of us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CalSAFE program awarded national accreditation

News release

On Aug. 10, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
awarded national accreditation to the California School Age Families Education (CalSAFE)
program at Santa Maria High School.

“This amazing accomplishment is due to the incredible vision and leadership of the Child
Development team at the county education office,” said county Superintendent of Schools Bill
Cirone, “as well as the passion and dedication of CalSAFE site supervisor and teacher Jennifer
Thomas and the caring and commitment of the entire CalSAFE staff.”

NAEYC is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early
learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy,
and research.

“I speak to the students of this program several times throughout the year and I can attest
first-hand that the staff do amazing work,” said Santa Maria High School Principal Joe Domingues.
“They are infectiously dedicated to the lives of their students. This is great news and well

NAEYC accreditation is the gold standard for early childhood programs across the country.
Families of young children who attend NAEYC-accredited programs can be confident that they
deliver the highest quality early care and education.

The national accreditation is the result of a comprehensive review process and reflects the
highest of quality in these important areas: teacher-child relationships; curriculum; assessment;
health; safety; family relationships; professional commitment; community resources; and program
policies. The accreditation team was impressed by the passion, commitment and skill of Ms. Thomas and her staff.

Freeway driving

Radio Commentary

Teens need to know that freeway driving demands special skills. 
Statistics show that fewer crashes occur on modern freeways, but the collisions that do occur are more severe due to the higher speeds and increased traffic.
Freeway driving requires drivers to make complex but quick decisions at critical moments.
Identify for teens the correct procedures for entering and exiting a freeway.
Make sure they understand the need for advance route planning, and the factors that influence speed and lane selection.
Talk about the challenges involved with lane-changing maneuvers.
Have them use space-management techniques such as looking ahead and maintaining time gaps between vehicles.
Remind them that driving at the speed used by most other cars can reduce conflicts. This means they should choose a legal speed that matches the speed of other traffic. Have them consider visibility, traffic, weather, and road conditions.
Drivers can lose their sense of speed during extended freeway driving. They may start going much faster than they intended. Suggest that drivers look frequently at the speedometer and make corrections accordingly.
All these actions help minimize the risks associated with freeway driving.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Noah’s Ark

Radio Commentary

Some of the most insightful thoughts we receive come anonymously.
The newsletter of the KIDS Network once printed an inspirational piece, author unknown, which was submitted by one of the group’s members. Though we don’t know the original author, we feel the sentiments bear repeating.
The piece is called “Everything I need to know I learned on Noah’s Ark.”
Don’t miss the boat.
Remember that we are all in the same boat.
Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
Build your future on high ground.
For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the rabbits.
When you’re stressed, float awhile.
And finally…
No matter how big the storm, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
Collaboration has always been key; it is more important now than ever before.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Top five ways

Radio Commentary

Here are time-tested ways for parents to connect and communicate 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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

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.

Friday, August 12, 2016

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 11, 2016

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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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 reports that 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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

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.

Friday, August 5, 2016

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.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

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.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A new school year: off to a good start

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools
Some children are excited about a new school year beginning, while others seem to dread the end of summer vacation. Either way, parents have an important role in preparing their children for a smooth start of the school routine.
For students of all ages there are certain basic areas where parents can play a role in supporting school achievement throughout the year. This is a good checklist to repeat:
Breakfast: Children should begin each day with a good breakfast, and then have healthy snacks and other meals at regular times. This helps small bodies adjust and react at maximum capacity.
Schedules: Children should know their parents’ or caretakers’ schedules at home and on the job. This helps establish a sense of time, but also reassures children about consistency and order.
Reading: Children should be read to every day that is possible. Newspapers, short stories, books, and poetry can all be the basis of enjoyable shared experiences — whether it’s around the breakfast table, after school, or before bedtime.
Homework: If possible, a specific time each day should be set aside for homework. Children should know that homework is a number one priority but should also be granted flexibility if soccer practice or band tryouts fall during homework time. Together set a new time for that day.
The adults in a child’s life should resist the temptation to do a children's homework for them, but it’s important that children know an adult, serving as a “consultant,” is available for help. If children seem to be asking for help because they want someone else to do the thinking, a good response is: “I think you can figure this out on your own. You try first.”
Tests: When children are studying for a test, they should be discouraged from “cramming” the night before. Instead, children could be asked to bring a textbook home every other night and teach you what they have learned in school. These discussions could be held at the dinner table for everyone's benefit.
When children are preparing for a test, help them avoid panic. Advise them to study one section at a time. Encourage a good night's sleep and a nutritious meal before the test.
A voice recorder is a great study aid for children whose parents are short on time. One technique is to record a definition or question, pause for about five seconds, and then record the answer. Children can then play it back, have a chance to test their knowledge, and get immediate feedback. Virtually every computer and smart phone has some kind of recording application, so this technique is readily available.
If children are having trouble with an assignment, be careful not to criticize. Find out what the problem is and try to help solve it.
The most important point for adults to remember, at all times, is that their positive attitude toward homework, teachers, and school can have great influence on a child's success. That's the bottom line for all of us, and reaps great rewards in the future.
A parent’s checklist
  • Did my child get a good breakfast this morning?
  • Did I provide a nutritious lunch or money to buy one?
  • After school, did my child have a chance to tell me about what happened today and to share concerns or exciting events?
  • Did my child use the agreed upon time to complete all homework?
  • Did I make time to help my child with any problems that arose?
  • Does my child have any tests tomorrow? If so, has the necessary studying been completed?
  • Have I read with my child today? Has my child read alone?
  • Will my child get to bed at the regular time tonight?

Firearms at home

Radio Commentary

More than 22 million U.S. children live in homes with firearms. 
In 43 percent of those homes, the guns are not locked up or fitted with trigger locks, according to a national survey. 
The study, reported in the "American Journal of Public Health," analyzed gun storage practices in six thousand nine hundred households with children.
The study found that nine percent of homes kept firearms unlocked, and loaded. Those homes represent 1.7 million children. 
Another 4 percent of the homes have guns that are unlocked and have ammunition nearby. 
That means that about 2.6 million homes had firearms stored in a way most accessible to children.
Researchers found that many parents know guns should be locked up but there is a disconnect between knowledge and action. 
They may think the top shelf of a closet or a sock drawer is secure. But children are notoriously curious and may find them anyway. 
Experts say parents should look at their own firearm storage and also ask pointed questions about weapons at their friends' homes as well.
This is one area where it’s not possible to be too cautious.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


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, August 1, 2016

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.