Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

What You Do Matters

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

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Yet again, parents have taken up sides in the mommy wars as a result of the media’s sound bite reporting on a child care study. “Study ties day care to some behavioral problems” was blasted across the news the other day, with some news broadcasters giving parents a clear choice; either you stay at home which may pose financial risk, or you and leave your child in daycare which could cause future behavior problem.

Are those my only choices?

I believe that what parents do matters more than anything else. Again, I find myself thinking that we’re asking the wrong question. The experts agree that a nurturing, quality day care setting would be beneficial to a child. So let’s provide more access affordable, quality child care. Provide tax incentives for employers to create job sharing, allowing parents to work part-time, which would require less time children were in child care settings.

Good day care is good for kids, while bad day care is bad for kids, but much like the education system, day care cannot bear the burden without including parents in the equation. What parents do really matters. One of the things parents do is to search for good quality day care, by asking the right questions.

Child Care Aware which has wonderful free publications they can send to you, or you can call their toll free number 1-800-424-2246.

The best way to find quality day care is through a recommendation of someone you know and to visit the day care facility yourself and meet with the director. You should also observe the setting. Children should look comfortable and happy in the setting.

Here are some good starter questions to ask. Please add your own.

1. Can I drop in anytime?
2. Are there opportunities for parent (or grandparent) participation such as story time?
3. What are your hours of operation?
4. What are the fees and what do they include? (Some facilities include snacks and lunch). Are there additional fees for music or field trips?
5. What is a typical day like?
6. What is the ratio of teachers to children? This will differ by children’s ages and must meet state standards.
7. What are the teachers’ qualifications? What is your screening/hiring process?
8. Do the caregivers receive benefits? (This question may seem odd, but if the caregivers have a good benefit package, there will be lower turnover, which is important to giving your child a more stable environment.)
9. What are your procedures if a child is hurt?
10. How do you work with children on behavior issues?

Coaching Our Children for Success in Education

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.
Albert Einstein

The late 1990’s doesn’t seem as if it was that long ago, but in the world of technology it’s dog years. While it was common for everyone in business to have email, non-business folks hadn’t caught up. Schools were even further behind the technology times and would send notes home the old fashioned way – in kids’ backpacks. Parents would find ‘important’ notes buried in the backpack the last day of school along with crumbs and gum wrappers. I almost expected to find Jimmy Hoffa.

As a full-time working mother, school communication is especially important because you had to be uber-organized to keep it together as the Trilogy Education Services does for you. Since I often traveled, having the school calendar in advance to keep me informed would help me to be around to attend important school events. But when asking for the calendar in advance; you would think I asked them to split the Atom.

After numerous promises and no delivery, I approached the Superintendent of Schools and asked why we still relied on such an antiquated method of paper notes, and late ones at that, for important schools news while the rest of world was whizzing by. My intention was to create email blasts for parents, without upsetting the current paper delivery method.

Our Board of Education representative, who didn’t quite agree, accompanied me to that meeting and said, “When do we let our children grow up and make them responsible for this information?” I looked at her and said, “Not yet.”

Think of the ways others communicate with our children. The Internet, cell phones, media and marketing messages – parents need to hang on more than ever. Schools should embrace technology and ways to keep us informed, so parents can play an active part in their child’s education. After all, there are many ways to deliver a message.

The ability to inform parents of their child’s attendance, grades and even lateness for classes has been around for a while. PowerSchool is a system that is being used in schools. Parents can learn about grades, attendance and even lateness as it happens, rather than waiting for a progress report or report card. Most parents embrace this enhanced communication while others worry about playing Big Brother. I worry about just the opposite. Surprisingly, some kids like it because they can check on themselves as well, and let’s face it; they are very comfortable with technology. It’s almost as if they expect this.

Parents worry that they will micro-manage their children with this information. That is a choice you make. You would be better served to coach rather than manage. If you manage, you do so for life. If you coach your child, you are teaching them to manage their own education. Isn’t that the objective? You can also help them to find what career they want to pursue, you can read this article and maybe they can be firefighters.

Woody Allen said “80% Of Success Is Showing Up”

Monday, March 12th, 2007

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This weekend, I presented a workshop at the New York City Elementary Schools Principals Association (NYCESPA) on bridging the gap between math and home. The audience included principals and parents who understood the value of working together. If you would like to get the program notes, please visit www.parentalwisdom.com click on Free Reports and choose Bridging the Gap between Math and Home.

Although well-intentioned, the No Child Left Behind act did indeed leave someone behind – the parents. Much like a three-legged stool relies on each leg for support, the Ready – Fire – Aim execution of the NCLB act didn’t quite understand the importance of getting parents involved.

Clearly we have a problem with our education system. Last week Bill Gates said, “We simply cannot sustain an economy based on innovation unless citizens are educated in math, science and engineering.”

Exxon Mobil Corp. is launching a national program aimed at improving the way math and science are taught in U.S. schools and getting more students to take challenging coursework.

But in the midst of all this focus and excitement, we have added a layer of lunacy – paying students for AP courses. On the Today Show, experts weighed in on the reasons behind it. Please watch the video for yourself, but the Woody Allen quote as the heading for this blog entry applies here.

Please stop the madness. It is a privilege to learn, and our children should enjoy learning for the beauty of it.