Schools
Use Technology to Study Smarter PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:07

012215pSchool can seem like a whirlwind for kids, and it’s important for parents to get them organized and put them in a position to succeed.

Thankfully, new developments in education are making it easier for students to keep organized, study smarter and achieve better results.

These days, technology has the power to dramatically improve how kids digest, retain and apply information — if you know how to use it. Check out these great study tips that can help your student achieve the grades they strive for.

Quit Cramming

“All-nighters” are a relic of the “Saved by the Bell” era. Research now shows that students who cram the evening before a test or quiz are less likely to perform well the following day. Rest is critical for academic success.

Instead of packing learning into marathon sessions, students should maintain a regular study schedule leading up to their tests and should make sure to get plenty of shuteye.

Jump Around

When prepping for a test, most students review course materials in chronological order. While this approach may seem logical, research suggests that studying out-of-order helps students retain standalone knowledge more effectively. This allows them to recall information in a randomized fashion (the way it appears on tests).

If your children apply themselves and use these tips to guide their studies, they should have a leg up on the curriculum this school year. Whether it’s digital learning products, or just a good night’s sleep, a dynamic, modern approach to education can help your child thrive.

If your student has struggled in the past, or if you think he or she isn’t reaching his or her true potential, try some new techniques to help make this school year the best of your son or daughter’s academic career.

Create a Digital Tool-Kit

“Be prepared” is the simple motto of the Boy Scouts, and it applies to almost every facet of life. You wouldn’t try to build a tree-house without a hammer, saw and nails — you shouldn’t study with an empty tool kit either.

These days, there are unique tech tools available that make the studying process more efficient, engaging and effective.

One such tool is LearnSmart from McGraw-Hill (www.mheducation.com/back-to-school) that continuously assesses students’ knowledge and skills and provides personalized recommendations that help them master content over time, helping students focus their study time more on learning what they don’t know and less on what they already know.

StatePoint


 
Start Early When Teaching Children About Traffic Safety PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:05

012215p6It’s never too early to start teaching your children about traffic safety. Traffic accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 12 in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Here are some traffic safety tips for you and your children to remember.

Car Safety: Everyone should use seat belts, and children should always be in a properly fitted car seat.

When reversing out of parking spaces, drivers should be on alert for small children, and parents should always hold their child’s hand and watch for speeding. And, while it may be convenient to leave a trunk open when loading or unloading items, children are naturally curious and may get trapped inside if left unattended. So, be sure to teach your child that trunks are for cargo, not hide-and-seek.

Bike Safety: Make sure your, and your child’s, bike helmets sit low across the forehead with no more than two finger-widths above the eyebrow. And make sure the chin strap is buckled snugly. Children should also ride on bike paths or sidewalks — never in the streets.

In low-light conditions, make sure that you and your children wear brightly colored clothing and reflective materials. Everyone’s bike should be equipped with a white front light and a red rear light.

— StatePoint


 
Students: Speak Out Against Bullying PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:04

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With classes, sports, homework and other activities, weekdays are action packed for kids. Unfortunately, some students deal with an unwelcome addition to their daily routine — bullying. An estimated 13 million students are bullied annually, according to government statistics.

With online social media so widely available to kids today, bullying doesn’t necessarily stop after school, and often takes place round-the-clock. The repercussions can be missed days of school, depression and even suicide.

Fortunately, kids are getting more help these days as bullying prevention efforts are growing nationwide.

Cartoon Network has been a pioneer in this space and its  “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign has been empowering bystanders to put a stop to bullying since it launched in 2010. On average, more than 100,000 people visit the initiative’s website monthly to learn prevention strategies.

“Speaking up to a trusted adult is the safest, most effective way for victims and bystanders to bring an end to a bullying situation,” says Alice Cahn of Cartoon Network. “Bystanders in particular can be powerful agents for change when they report incidents.”

Support for Cartoon Network’s award-winning pro-social effort has come from diverse organizations. President Obama even invited Cartoon Network to the first Bullying Prevention Summit at the White House, and later introduced the initiative’s first documentary, “Speak Up.”

Any time is a great time to review ways that adults and kids can stand up to bullying. Here are a few strategies:

• Cyberbullying: Don’t contribute to the problem by sharing, saving, forwarding or reposting information. If you’re on the receiving end, resist the urge to get back at the person or fix the issue online — both can make the problem worse. Get offline and deal with it in real life. Parents can help prevent cyberbullying by monitoring kids’ use of computers, mobile phones and tablets.

• Don’t stand by: Research has found that when bullying occurs and a bystander intervenes by speaking up, more than half of bullying situations stop within just 10 seconds.

• Listen: Parents should check in with kids periodically to make sure they’re safe and happy at school, on the playground and online. If you’re an adult and a child tells you about a bullying situation, listen. Either let the school know about the issue or talk to the other children’s parents about putting a stop to the behavior.

Whether you’re a victim, a bystander or a concerned adult, don’t sweep bullying under the rug. By speaking out against cruelty, you can help end bullying.

StatePoint


 
Pediatric Cardiomyopathy and Your Child PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:00

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PHOTO © MONKEY BUSINESS - FOTOLIA.COM

Whether kids are in school or on the sports field, it is important for parents to understand the symptoms and risk factors of pediatric cardiomyopathy.

When thinking of heart disease, older adults typically come to mind, but children also can have heart disease, often with more devastating outcomes.

Pediatric cardiomyopathy is a potentially life-threatening disease and the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in children.

Cardiomyopathy is a chronic disease of the heart muscle that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood. Some children who have the disease can be symptom-free and are unknowingly at risk for SCA. Approximately 2,000 people under 25 die of SCA every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but there are preventative measures for families.

“In many cases, if cardiomyopathy is detected early and managed properly, sudden cardiac death can be prevented,” says Lisa Yue, a parent who lost two children to cardiomyopathy and founder of the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation (CCF).

The Foundation is working to call attention to the disease. “Knowing the symptoms and risk factors for cardiomyopathy can help save lives.”

Know the Symptoms

Currently there is no formal cardiac screening process for children. While pediatricians can respond to more obvious symptoms, identifying pediatric cardiomyopathy can be challenging because some affected children are symptom-free. It is not uncommon for cardiomyopathy to be missed or misdiagnosed as a cold, flu or asthma.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, fainting, chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations and fatigue. Infants may experience poor weight gain, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating or lethargy. It is important for parents to communicate concerns to the pediatrician.

Know the Risk Factors

“Cardiomyopathy can occur in any child and be inherited or acquired through a viral infection or from cancer chemotherapy,” explains Steven Lipshultz, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief of Children’s Hospital of Michigan and chair of CCF’s medical advisory board.

Since the majority of cardiomyopathies are inherited, understanding a family’s cardiac history is the best way to prevent premature death.

Hereditary risk factors include having a family member who is disabled by heart disease, has died of heart disease before age 50, or was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome, cardiomyopathy, Marfan syndrome or a heart rhythm issue.

Those who exhibit symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, fainting or high blood pressure should be evaluated by a cardiologist.

Protecting At-Risk Youth

Adolescents with an underlying heart condition like cardiomyopathy are at a higher risk for SCA due to increased physical activity and certain body changes. SCA is the top cause of death on school property; and, according to the American Heart Association, these deaths occur most commonly during high-intensity sports.

StatePoint


 
Art in the Classroom Gains ‘STEAM’ PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 15:59

012215p1Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — known collectively as STEM — has been the buzz phrase for educators for some time. But, with many school districts eliminating art, music and other humanities classes, there has been a recent push by educators to change the focus from STEM to STEAM, and add arts back into the mix for a more well-rounded education.

“Many experts agree that STEAM education is a great way to engage children of all ages in creative play, discovery and learning,” says Dr. Eric Klopfer of VTech age-appropriate and developmental electronic learning products for children.

Whatever the present academic focus of your local school district is, you can help support a more comprehensive education for your children at home, while making it fun. Here’s how to incorporate STEAM learning into your children’s playtime:

Art Time

The school day may not offer daily opportunities for creativity to flourish, but you can turn the playroom at home into an artists’ studio. Keep on hand arts and crafts supplies such as glue, construction paper, glitter, scissors and paint. Take a trip to a museum or gallery and learn about different artists and styles to get kids inspired.

Music

Participation in music education has been proven to improve grades in STEM subjects. Not only that, it’s a ton of fun.

If your school offers, encourage your kids to get involved in opportunities such as band or chorus, and invest in a keyboard or guitar for the home. Even if private music lessons are out of the budget, there are plenty of online tutorials that can help with the basics.

New Technologies

Handing over your expensive, breakable mobile technology to your young children may not sound ideal for on-the-go learning, but there are durable tablets, such as VTech’s InnoTab Max, built for children that support learning apps combining STEM subjects with the arts.

The apps feature a wide curriculum of language arts and reading, math, science, social studies, problem solving and creativity, that have been reviewed by a panel of education and child development experts.

—StatePoint


 
Make Playtime Educational, Fun PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 15:56

012215p5Playtime should be fun, but who says it can’t also be beneficial to kids? From imaginative play that expands creativity to toys that develop crucial motor skills, kids’ play can be a time when learning and fun go hand in hand.

“Children don’t need to be in a classroom for quality learning to take place,” says Dr. Lise Eliot, early childhood development expert and author. “In fact, opportunities to promote mental and physical development can happen anywhere, anytime.”

Here are a few ideas for maximizing playtime:

• Make Music: Playing music can help kids be creative and expressive, as well as promote coordination. But some kids may be reluctant to participate if it feels like work. If there’s resistance to formal music education, don’t nix the idea entirely. Stock your playroom with a keyboard, tambourine and other kid-friendly instruments and let kids explore music on their own terms.

• Cool Toys: “Look for fun toys that encourage problem-solving, engage children in imaginative play, and develop fine motor skills and spatial reasoning,” says Eliot.

• Outdoor Games: For some fresh air, and at the same time to encourage hand-eye coordination and learning number fun, get outdoors to play some classic games like hopscotch, jacks or marbles. Encourage kids’ creative side, by having them come up with an idea for their own game, complete with rules and a scoring system.

StatePoint


 
Eliminate Homework Hassles PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 15:54

012215p3Do your children consistently make excuses for not doing their homework? Is your peaceful family time cut short by a homework tug-of-war?

If so, you are not alone. Many parents often lack the skills to effectively deal with this conflict and motivate their children to do their homework. Fortunately, these skills are not difficult to learn.

According to Education Specialist Dr. Mary Mokris there are seven motivation skills that parents can learn that will make homework time easier:

1. Set up a proper study area — a place that is quiet, well lit and free from distractions.

2. Institute a daily homework time, preferably at the same time each day — if possible, before or right after dinner. Children need a solid eight to nine hours of sleep daily.

3. Encourage children to do homework on their own. Read directions together, provide examples and help organize, but help with the assignment only after the child attempts it on his or her own.

4. Praise, praise, praise your child. Praise effort, not perfection. Tell your children the things you like about what they are doing or have done. For children to succeed, parents must send a message that they have confidence in them.

5. Choose an incentive that the child will appreciate, such as stickers, a certificate, a special treat or one-on-one time with parents.

6. Communicate assertively and tell your children that you expect them to do their homework. Repeat your expectations in a clear, firm voice. Let them know there are consequences — including failing grades — for not completing homework. Consider taking away privileges like television or computer time if they do not comply.

7. Form a partnership between parent and teacher with open communication between home and school.

Through setting goals, positive parenting and effective communication, parents can help motivate their children to take homework seriously, develop skills, and benefit from the discipline that homework provides, such as hard work, perseverance and the confidence to overcome challenges.

 

 
Assumption Student ‘Faith Families’ Connect PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 02 January 2015 22:35

010115schStudents comprising one of Assumption School’s 30 “faith families” embarked on a banner-making project together. Each week, these student families team up to attend a school liturgy and take on group projects.  The families are composed of one student from each grade, first through eighth, and their weekly meet-ups provide students from all grades with a chance to connect with each other and build community.

PHOTO BY JENNIFER DUTROW


 
McKinley 5th Graders Raise Money for Camp PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 October 2014 18:21

The fifth grade students at McKinley Elementary School are trying to raise the money to go to an outdoor science camp.

At the 3-day, 2-night camp, students will learn about being a naturalist, hike, go rock climbing, do some gardening and forage for food. The program is taught by a naturalist at Camp Arroyo in Livermore that’s run through the YMCA.

The three 5th grade classes (96 students) will learn by doing, get their hands dirty with science, said McKinley School 5th grade teacher Katie Spear.

The kids will get outdoors and learn science in the real world, instead of the classroom, Spear said. The main focus will be learning by doing, critical thinking and problem solving.

McKinley has a lot of kids who don’t get a chance to go camping and do outdoor activities, Spear said. So the camp will give them that experience.

The camp isn’t cheap. It’s $15,000 for the 96 students in three 5th grade classes. It’s a quality program but it’s cheaper than the camp in Petaluma that the class went to in previous years, Spear said.

The school has gotten some of the money from grants but they still have to do fundraisers to meet their goal – selling chocolate bars and walk-a-thons.

They also have an online crowd-sourced fundraiser where people can donate online at www.gofundme.com/mckinleyoutdoored2015 or people can donate at the school office.


 
Evening Under Stars Benefits SL Schools PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:54

092514e2By Martha Wright • Special to the Times

The San Leandro Education Foundation (SLED) held its second annual gala, “An Evening Under the Stars” on Sept. 12 at the historic Casa Peralta.

Over 300 education supporters attended, helping to raise nearly $46,000 for San Leandro schools.

“We are so pleased with the success of this year’s gala,” said Morgan Mack-Rose, SLED’s executive director. “The Gala is gaining the reputation of being a fun party for the entire San Leandro community to come together to enjoy great music, food and a beautiful historical site while sharing their passion for quality education for San Leandro’s kids.”

Mack-Rose attributes the financial success of the event to the generosity of its sponsors including Kaiser Permanente, Applied Fusion, Fremont Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and many others.

“Also, with the in-kind donations we received from Production Logic Inc., Cresco Rentals and our partnership with the City of San Leandro, we were able to keep the cost of the event low directing more funds toward San Leandro’s schools,” said Mack-Rose.

092514eGuests chose their meals from five popular food trucks and no-host bars sponsored by Acapulco Restaurant. Drake’s Brewery served local beer, a variety of wines and a signature cocktail. Live music by Latin fusion band, Mobando, kept the energy high and people dancing into the night.

The event also provided an opportunity to visit the San Leandro History Museum on the grounds of Casa Peralta. In the auditorium, students showed videos from San Leandro High School’s Academy of Multimedia (SLAM), highlighting the wide variety of projects students completed last year.

Funds raised by the event will support a variety of efforts by SLED supporting positive youth development, volunteerism and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) projects in schools throughout the San Leandro Unified School District.

Martha Wright is a San Leandro Education Foundation board member.

CAPTION: Guests dined on a variety of dishes from food trucks on the grounds of Casa Peralta at the SLAM Gala and danced to the Latin fusion band Mobando.

PHOTOS BY KIMBERLY GUERRA AND PATRICE JOHNSON


 
Student Musicians Get Some Hi-Tech Celebrity Advice PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:44

091114schStudents at John Muir and Bancroft middle schools got some special musical lessons over Skype last week. The kids were able to hold a question-and-answer session with Cindy Blackman Santana, the drummer for Lenny Kravitz and the wife and collaborator of Carlos Santana. The special session was made possible by the Keep Music Rockin’ Foundation. The students had a great time asking Blackman Santana lots of serious and some funny questions, according to Pamela Richards. The workshop was organized by Rick Richards and Blackman Santana. Both middle schools have kids attending special music workshops this year.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PAMELA RICHARDS

 
Don’t Let Back-to-School Tasks Sneak Up on You PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:54

080714sch1By Jason Alderman • Special to the Times

Parents, if this is your first time at the back-to-school rodeo, let me share a few lessons my wife and I have learned the hard way.

Chances are you’ll be spending the next few weeks filling out piles of pre-enrollment paperwork, lining up carpools and, of course, taking the dreaded shopping excursions for clothes and school supplies.

If you’re a first-timer or simply need a back-to-school refresher course, here are a few suggestions that can help you save time, money and sanity:

Get Organized

Maintain a correspondence file from your kid’s school for things like registration requirements, report cards, permission slips, required vaccinations, school policies, teacher and parent contact information, etc.

Ask whether the school has a website, online calendar or email list you can join. Also, create a family master calendar.

Back-to-School Shopping

Between new clothes, classroom supplies and extracurricular activity fees and equipment, many parents end up spending hundreds of dollars per child. Ideally, you’ve been setting money aside all year. If not, you’ll need to determine what you can afford to spend without blowing your overall budget.

Here are a few organizational and money-saving tips:

• Before you shop, make a comprehensive list for each child. Use previous years’ expenses as a guide and compare notes with other parents and school officials.

• Engage kids in the budgeting process. Share how much money is available to spend and get them involved in prioritizing expenses between “needs” and “wants.”

• Go through your kids’ closets and have them try on everything. Make an inventory of items that fit and are in good shape, and take it when shopping so you don’t accidentally buy duplicates. (While you’re at it, share, sell or donate unneeded items.)

• Spread clothing purchases throughout the year so your kids don’t outgrow everything at once. Many stores hold fall clearance sales to make room for holiday merchandise.

• Review the school’s dress code so you don’t waste money on inappropriate clothing.

• Although shopping online would seem to save money, time and gas, don’t forget to factor in shipping and return costs, which could undo any net savings.

• Ask which school supplies you’re expected to buy. Go in with other families to take advantage of volume discounts and sales.

• Find out how much extracurricular activities (athletics, music, art, etc.) cost. Account for uniforms, membership dues, private lessons, field trips, snacks, etc.

• Rent or buy used sporting equipment or musical instruments until you’re sure they’ll stick with an activity.

• Know when to spend more for higher quality. Cheaper notebook paper shouldn’t matter, but don’t buy poorly made shoes that might hamper proper physical development.

• Before buying new clothing or accessories, look for “gently used” items in the closets of your older kids and friends, at garage sales, thrift and consignment stores and online.

• Clip newspaper and online coupons. Many stores will match competitors’ prices even if their own items aren’t on sale.

Bottom line: If you get organized before setting out on back-to-school shopping, you can save money, time and aggravation.