Monday, August 31, 2009
"You are going to look like a wrinkled old hag. You need to go live in a deep hole in Alaska!", said the dermatologist to me. This is a true story. My complexion is very light and he wanted me to "GET IT!" "Use sunscreen everyday and stay out of the sun!", he said.
I was an avid tennis player so I slathered up for 15 years and hoped I didn't fry. Years later I still wear my sunscreen and choose shade over sun most of the time. But not all the time.
Now the latest medical gurus advise us to "sit in the sun without sunscreen for 10-20minutes a day" and are calling vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin. A recent British study found that 87% of volunteers (that's a lot) had low blood levels of vitamin D in winter and spring, and 61% had low levels even in summer. They say this deficiency can lead to asthma, heart and auto immune problems, cancer, weak bones and muscles, and mental disorders. Whew!
The bottom line is: Unless you eat a ton of salmon and sardines, eggs and OJ, and shitake mushrooms every day, you better get some sunshine or take supplements. For me, I am having my coffee and breakfast outside every morning with, OMG, naked skin....no sunscreen, not a drop. Ask your doctor what you should do but I'm just sayin'.....it's awfully easy to go sit outside awhile!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This is a follow-up to my earlier posting entitled 7 Step Survival Guide For Back To School.
PBS is talking about the same happening: going back to school. For some it was August 1 and for some school doesn't start until after Labor Day.
When I was "little" I remember being excited for school to start and getting new school shoes: leather penny loafers or saddle oxfords. We got just a few school supplies and that was it. It was fun to go back, meet the new teacher, and see friends again....and very quickly the novelty wore off and it became as comfortable and familiar as a favorite old shoe.
Today things are so much more complicated. Since PBS gets 'just a little more' website traffic than I do (!), I am sharing their comments with you. These are directly from the PBS site following the article, The Start of School Can Be a Nightmare by Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock.
Jackie writes... My child is going into kindergarten, and my fears are running more along the lines of "my poor sweet baby is going to have his feelings hurt and come home jaded and different." He is a sweet, sensitive boy (think "tin man" from Wizard of Oz) who considers every kid to be a friend he just hasn't met yet. I am afraid the kids on the bus will tell him there is no Santa and that he will have a tough time with mean kids. You get the idea. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:09 AM
Aviva writes... Jackie - Funny, you get the same answer Jeannine got, just on a different level. Like 6th graders in middle school, kindergarten kids are often kept separate from the rest of the students so they can adapt. Sure, they will be on the bus, in the lunch room and at recess with older kids who will open their eyes to new things in the world but that is what we call growing up. Your influence will continue to be your child's primary source as long as you want to keep it that way. Be there to help him grow and learn - that's how we grow as parents too. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM
Heather writes... My unfounded worry is that the mysterious "supplies list" has not yet arrived from the school. I'm somehow worried that I'll miss all the best sales and have the one kid who gets to school with nothing in tow but her backpack. That and we still have no info on the bus route or pick-up/drop-off schedule. Can you tell we're just doing kindy for the first time? Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:23
Aviva writes... Heather - welcome to school! No need to wait for the answers to come to you - head on in there and start asking questions. As a teacher, it is easy to forget some parents are new to this whole school thing. You will not be shamed for not knowing what to do and will probably be cheered on by other parents who have lots of the same questions you do. The teachers will certainly appreciate your desire to be involved and seek out information. So, raise your hand and ask away. In doing so, you will also be setting a great example for your child to do the same. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM
Jeannine writes... My 11 yr. old daughter is entering Middle School as a 6th grader. Nervous about her being around kids older and more advanced -- if you know what I mean. Can't I keep her innocent a while longer or am I dreaming? Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:48 AM
Aviva writes... Jeannine - Most middle schools are pretty good about keeping 6th graders separated from the "older" kids - quite frankly, the administration would prefer to give these new comers a chance to adapt to their environment. The transition from elementary to middle school is huge. Not only are academic expectations different, social settings are totally, completely foreign to most 6th graders. Yes, your child will be introduced to many new things; however, your personal interaction will help guide her along her way. Be there to answer questions and assist with the rough spots (even when it seems you are being pushed away). Just because it may be true that more day time hours are spent with school peers than with parents, it is also true that parents are still the greatest influence on kids. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:50 PM
Janet writes... My son is changing schools. In New York, some schools still keep 6th graders in the Elementary school. This is the case with his previous school. We are moving to Colorado, and his peers have already been in MS for a year. How do I help him handle the new homework load and locker trouble(etc)while he adjusts to a whole new school and set of friends!! (I think I'm more nervous than he is, but his outbursts are telling me otherwise.) :/ Posted on August 18, 2009 at 2:56 PM
Devra writes... Hi Janet, There is a reason moving is listed among the top ten most stressful things a human being can do. It is stressful! If you are identifying that you are more nervous than your son, my first thought would be to try to step outside of yourself and see if you need to keep your own anxiety in check. Kids are much like the horses you will encounter in Colorado, they sense how the people around them feel. Listen and reflect your son's feelings and try not to comb over what he may be feeling or infuse your own nervousness into your son. Examples of each are phrases like " Don't worry, it's going to be fine." or "You don't need to think about that." or "I bet you are worried about the new school and leaving your friends." Instead consider open ended inquiry, and observations that normalize what's going on. Examples of those are "Moving is stressful. Things may be tense around here for a while until everyone settles in to the new place." or "Even if I seem busy, if you need to talk about any of what's going on, let's talk." or "Would you like me to help collect the addresses and phone numbers of your friends here? Are there pictures of places you would like to have before we move?" And if you have plans to visit New York again, let your son know visits will happen in the future. As for the new school and locker trouble, unless you accompanied him to school and figured out those issues when you lived in NY, leave it to your son and school to handle in Colorado. You'll know if he needs help. Let the school know you have concerns, they will work with you to make your son's transition smooth. While I am a native New Yorker, my mother is from Colorado. I can tell you, as can Aviva who now lives in Colorado, the West is fairly laid back in comparison to NY. We're confident your son will make new friends and get his homework done too! If you have more concerns, feel free to email us. Posted on August 19, 2009 at 7:44 AM
Kristen writes... Ok, I'll confess. I'm worried when I drop mine off at preschool that people will look at me oddly when I high-five myself leaving the school. Am I the only person who won't be teary-eyed and long for the moment that I get to pick them up? Summer is a very long time with preschoolers. Posted on August 20, 2009 at 9:39 AM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
I remember when I left home for college so long ago. I was a mess. We stopped at a drugstore close to home to pick up a few last minute items and, thankfully, a good friend from high school was there. I begged her to come with us and she did! She was funny and kept me laughing in the back seat, distracting me from the intensity of that drive with my parents. The leaving part was very hard for me...but five minutes after they left, I was happy, happy, happy. A whole new world had just opened up. And I was free.
When we took our kids to a small private college in the N. GA mountains there was no Internet to guide you through this experience. You just had to wing it. I remember it like it was yesterday. I knew they would love their new life. I was happy for them, and yet, I cried on the way home just because we would miss them...
Dr. Michelle Borba has 9 Tips For Saying Goodbye if you want to read them. One I particularly liked was to 'switch your role from micro-manager to mentor'. "Help your child to sense this by your actions", she says. "Don't be too quick to fix things. Gently cut the umbilical cord so they will know that you will no longer intervene when problems arise." Hmmmm. Good advice but easier said than done. First you have to get yourself to know that. Good luck with that one.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Slow Down......Yes, of course, your left brain has already said half of 8 is 4. Correct!
Now, someone else argues, if you take half of 8 vertically you get 3. Hmmm.
And someone else says, "If you take half of 8 horizontally you get 0". Hmmm.
Moral of story: "It just depends on how you look at it!"
I could go lots of places with this discussion such as, maybe this is why we have war, or this is why we get divorced, or, simply, this is why people argue. So "Be Aware, Math is Everywhere" as Steven Diaz says is absolutely right! We may not always see it but it is there.
It has been said God is a Mathematician. I think that is really cool.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Organization is a key element of learning. Organizing our thoughts and organizing our stuff makes life go better. Who wants to spend all morning looking for keys and your favorite pen! As a CRISS teacher-trainer, I have often presented effective ways to teach and learn and I always use this point from the Project CRISS website.
"Good readers know a variety of ways to organize information for learning. The past thirty years of research in cognitive psychology, as well as more recent research about brain physiology, have demonstrated that learning and memory depend upon transforming information (Jensen, 1998). The more organized, the better remembered. Through Project CRISS, students learn flexible ways for processing information, including strategies such as Power Thinking, selective underlining, two-column notes, and concept mapping. They learn multiple ways to be strategic, metacognitive readers and learners."
So what does this have to do with the awesome armoires Heather Nicole found at Jubella? It's just an acknowledgement and reminder that we all learn differently and organize differently, and we can all use effective, research-based learning strategies to make school go better. Own your own learning. Paint it any color you choose. Be outrageous. Just organize new material in ways that work for you so you will retain it and be able to recall it when you need it.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
You are teaching a class. You look out. Thumbs are moving. You say "Give me your cell phone now. I will give it to your administrator. Your parent will have to come up to school and pick it up." Bigger deal.
You are teaching a class. You look out. Thumbs are moving. You say "Go to the principal's office. You are being suspended. You know cell phones are against policy." Big deal.
Here is the problem. All the above scenarios are played out every day in high schools or maybe middle schools in the USA as almost every student has a cell phone in his pocket. School administrators are trying to figure this out. Make a big deal or not? You probably say "Not". Consider that it is easy to text answers to a test to a friend across the room or to a friend down the hall or across town or to your child. It is easy to text mom to come rescue you every time there is something to deal with at school. It is easy to bully with texting. It is easy for texting to turn into sexting. It is easy to start rumors with texting. It is easy to break up with texting.
So schools deal with this differently. Do we want phones going off in class? No. Do we want kids "having to go to the bathroom right now" because their phone vibrated? Do we want the high shrill tones ringing that teachers can't hear but that hurt other students' ears?
All of this is why, once more and always, the teacher is THE MOST important element in the classroom. The respect and rapport the students and teachers have with each other is the best way to keep this phone issue under control. That's what I think. What do you think?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Back to the subject. Today he will be having, by request, a green salad with a little shredded cheese and bacon bits, or baco-bits as he says. On the side, a ham sandwich on Double Fiber Whole Wheat bread with a Diet Coke. Not saying this is the greatest lunch in the world but he's a grown man and he likes it.
What is your school serving for lunch today? What is in the vending machines at school? Cokes or water? Candy or nuts? Studies actually show that kids will eat the healthy stuff if it is there for them. They don't say, "Hmm. Let me go find some MSG, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, sugar, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colorings, and high fat products."
Have lunch with your child at school and see what the choices are. Do what you can to promote healthy lunches and vending machine snacks for our kids. We all like a Snickers or a cupcake every now and then and that's fine. We just don't want to teach our kids that these are everyday treats.
Remember the Food Pyramid turned upside down a few years ago to include 6 food groups instead of 4? It tells us to build our diet around whole grains, dairy, fresh fruit and veggies, with just a little lean meat. How are you and your children doing with that? Getting your 5 or more fruits and veggies every day?
Teach your child early so you don't have to nag and unteach later. He'll thank you someday when healthy eating has become a natural choice. I am signing off to go have a fresh peach right off the tree and a slice of whole wheat toast with my next cup of joe. Enjoy your day and feed you and yours well. And remember to be an advocate for healthy food choices at your child's school.
I'm trying to close this post but keep thinking of those who have nothing to eat and it makes me sad.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
1995 OJ Simpson trial
1995 Oklahoma City bombing
1997 Princess Diana died
2000 Everybody scared of Y2K! Nothing bad happened!
2001 9-11 Terrorist attacks on NYC
2004 Julia Child passed away
2004 Bush reelected
2005 Hurricane Katrina
2008 Obama elected
2009 Lost $ in Stock Market
2009 Plane landed safely in Hudson Bay
2009 Michael Jackson died and Billy Mays and Les Paul(added by Colin)
Saturday, August 15, 2009
A lot of people who have trouble meeting deadlines, concentrating, finishing projects, and being organized are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D. Somewhere between 3-5% of school age children are said to have A.D.D. Often very intelligent and highly creative people such as Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise and Walt Disney are labeled A.D.D.
A student with A.D.D. might complete his homework at home but be unable to find it the next day at school. "I know I have it", he might say. He might also forget to bring some of his materials to school or forget to finish his homework. It might appear that the student just doesn't care but that's not the case.
Order does not come naturally to these students, therefore they need to be taught simple ways to organize their work and materials...and practice it over and over again. Teachers expect organized work back from students. So time must be set aside to teach organizational skills.
It's never too early to introduce children to ways of sorting....to notice how things are alike and how they are different. To group items by color or by size can be a game. Having a "place to put things" at school and at home helps the child to control his environment in ways that work for him. The message is not to overly organize or stifle creativity but to create security and foundation through structure.
Since there is a genetic component to ADD, one or both parents may have some of the same characteristics. Communication with home is essential as different strategies are used to help this child have a successful school experience. Be patient. Be your child's champion but do not make excuses for him. Fine line to walk...........
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
1. You will be sleepy this week so just deal with it. You know you probably won't be able to get to sleep early because you will be excited and you're not used to going to bed early. When you are in class, no matter what, DO NOT put your head down. Get water before every class. You can nap a little when you get home.
2. Leave home a little early this week. Traffic will be heavier than usual the first week and you do not want to be late. Even if you like to make a grand entrance, be on time!
3. Be friendly. No drama. Forget about any little snits left over from last year and just be friendly with everyone, especially new students who don't know anybody. Friendly just means smiling and being nice. Pick your real friends carefully but be friendly to everyone.
4. If you are allowed to choose your seat, sit at the front, near the teacher's desk, seriously, or in the middle of the room. Research shows that students in these seats do better than those who sit in the back or way out on the sides.
5. Listen to your teachers. Bring home handouts and go over them with your parents. If you have any special needs with vision or hearing, make sure your teacher knows. They will appreciate it.
6. Turn off your cell phone. I know you are used to having it on all the time and using it all during the day but get used to having it off while at school. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot with your teacher by having your phone go off during class.
7. Remember you only have one chance to make a first impression so bring your best self to school with you!
Leave a comment and share about YOUR first day!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
One out of ever twenty college students has a GED. Many famous people have one too: Peter Jennings NBC news anchor, Chris Rock, Sanjaya Malaker of American Idol, and the TV judge, Judge Mathis all have a GED. On average, a GED grad makes $12,000 a year more than someone who does not graduate from high school and does not get a GED.
There are many people who do not graduate from high school. If you or your child are one of them, take advantage of the online practice. Then take the next step and get this test behind you.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Green jobs and technology positions are in demand SO, duh, that is the emphasis of the new training programs. "Geeked up and excited" about retraining to be a Chemical Processing Technician says one older learner. Laid off, 53, and excited about learning to write and edit specific computer programs.
The same learning strategies work for older learners as for younger ones. Break your learning and study time into small segments. Practice. Go over and over the material. Use hands-on as much as possible to apply new knowledge to the workplace. Talk to others about what you are learning to reinforce it in your mind.
Michigan, home of the automotive industry, had to do something with unemployment at 14.5%. According to the AARP Bulletin this need birthed the Fast Start Program through community colleges and is providing "just in time workers" for the exploding solar industry and nursing fields.
So learning really is life long. And did you notice the older workers are not saying "poor me"? They say they are "excited". You CAN teach an old dog new tricks and it can be a lot of fun. If YOU are laid off look into ways to retrain for something in demand. You, too, might be excited and find a whole new life.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
#1. Communicate! Your teacher is most reachable by email. Email her or him the first week of school. Doesn't so much matter what you say as long as it is SHORT and SUPPORTIVE. This email will help your child stand out quicker and will get your email in the "easy to reply" category. All student info is in the system but not necessarily user-friendly, up-to-date, or easy to find.
#2. Be Proactive! Do not say to the teacher, "Just let me know if my child needs help or if there is any problem". Your teacher will try to do this anyway but maybe not as quickly as you would like. Why? High school teachers have up to 150 students daily. Even the BEST teacher cannot always report every need, every disturbance, every everything the moment it happens. On the other hand, you probably only have one or two children to keep up with. Don't rely on the teacher to 'let you know'.
#3. Grades are online 24-7 in almost every school now. Watch them at least weekly. Give the teacher a week to grade and post major tests. See a zero? Don't let it slide. Know the makeup policy. "I didn't know is no excuse". Sounds harsh, I know.
#4. Know your child's counselor. Your child, you, the teacher, and counselor can solve just about any problem that arises. Be a team.
#5. If the teacher/counselor are reachable by phone, put their numbers in your phone. I am not saying to bug them or call everyday with trivial concerns. I am saying that if something is really bothering you or your child, do not sit on it. Communicate with the one who knows them best in the entire building, their teacher.
Stay tuned for more tips to come. Share your thoughts too. People like to get ideas from others in the same boat.....especially while everything is still afloat if you get my drift.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I just realized today that I am the first in my immediate family to go to college. My mother went to Business School and my father went to the army and then to work. I don't think I ever really thought about it before because everyone has gone since me. My aunt went to college too, and since, all my cousins. It was a real stretch for my parents. They made "just enough" too much to qualify for a teacher scholarship in Georgia, my home state. Some people fudge on their app or manipulate a little to qualify but my parents would never do that. I am thankful for that. I just took it all for granted back then and became a life long public school teacher.
Thanks to Gertha Coffee's UpClose column in the AJC I learned of Allen Nance, founder and president of the Mansell Group. He wants to help other youth, like himself and like me, who are the first to go to college in their family. His site,southernfoundation.org went live just 60 days ago. Check it out and help them reach their goals. You can join as a Facebook cause and become a fan. The possibilities of this organization over time are far reaching and life changing. I will become a fan just as soon as I finish this post! I will also post it on my Facebook page for others to join too. And I will Twitter about it too. Maybe you will too. My Twitter names are RealMath and NoCheating. Follow me there.
We never know what little things we do will make a big difference. We all just do what we can. To have even just a little part in making such a big difference in someone's life is a privilege and it's exciting. It is good Karma to give back.