Archive for the ‘ school ’ Category

webRover, a New Internet Guard Dog, Monitors Your Kids’ Internet Time

Friday, March 14th, 2014

webRover-parental-control-internetEver worry about what your children are looking at online? Or worry they are spending too much time on the Internet? Of course you do!

There is so much to fear in the digital age, from online predators to cyberbullies to unwelcomed pop-ups and risqué advertising. But as consumers of the World Wide Web, we also know that so much good content is out there for children as well.

A new product just hit the market that may make it easier for parents to control the content as well as the amount of time kids are viewing it online. PowerCloud Systems, in partnership with Common Sense Media, launched a new parental control feature in Skydog (their home networking monitoring system), named webRover. The control is designed for monitoring kids between the ages 2 and 10. Through the Skydog-connected system, parents can set up multiple user accounts that can be controlled across all devices (including mobile and tablets).

“Kids can easily get exposed to age-inappropriate content,” says Caroline Knorr, the Parenting Editor for Common Sense Media. “They can do that by typing something into the Internet that seems like an innocuous search term, and they can arrive at a website that is not age appropriate.”

“Let’s face it, there’s no way that you can prevent your kids from being exposed to age-inappropriate content or content that you don’t approve of, but there are ways to manage their online activities so they are funneled into sites where they have a greater chance of finding age-appropriate, positive, nourishing websites versus what they might find on their own,” she continues.

Each webRover user profile can be customized based on what each parent deems appropriate for each child. For example, parents can schedule designated study hours during the week for school-age children where only approved websites can be accessed during that time. So even though kids may need the Internet to research a homework assignment, you won’t have to worry that they are wasting time playing an online game. For even younger children, parents can allow access-based categories, including learning potential. This is where Common Sense Media comes in.

The organization rates and reviews media across multiple platforms (like movies, TV shows, video games, apps, etc.) and assesses the appropriate age for each product. Multiple factors come into play, including violence, sex, cigarettes and drugs, language, positive role models, and learning capability. So, even though some websites may be kid-friendly, they may not necessarily promote learning. Through webRover, parents can customize the sites they want to allow, like ones with a higher educational rating. For sites that don’t have a ranking (like religious and regional websites), parents can manually enter in their own information and ratings. Parents can even override Common Sense Media’s ratings if they decide their young child can handle websites aimed at older children, or if they find something age-inappropriate based on their own values.

“Often parental controls are blunt instruments that block out too much good stuff,” Knorr says. “That’s been a real downfall with the controls up until this point. So the way Skydog has implemented it…they are saying, ‘You know what, we want to just curate the good stuff for kids.’”

The big key here is that although there are different recommendations about the what, how, and when children can access the Internet, the webRover feature allows ultimate control to be left up to the parents. And that deserves a little sigh of relief!

Download our Internet-use contract so your kids know the rules before they log in online!

Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

Add a Comment

Get Fun, Educational Activity Ideas During #SmartMarch

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Is all this crazy weather giving your kids (and you) cabin fever? This month, we’re bringing you tons of creative and fun educational activities to break the kids out of their indoor activity rut. With the help of mom of three Kim Vij from The Educator’s Spin On It, which won Parents 2014 Social Media Award for best Pinterest page, we’ll be sharing IQ-boosting ideas you’ll love. From our bloggers’ favorite games and to Vij’s best projects, Parents Pinterest and Twitter pages will be full of great suggestions. Be sure to share your genius picks using the hashtag #SmartMarch and we may RT or repin your wise ideas.

For more fun activity ideas check out our kids crafts guide.

How to Make the Most of Playtime
How to Make the Most of Playtime
How to Make the Most of Playtime



Add a Comment

Reading Roadblocks

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

When my daughter started kindergarden, she hated reading. There I said it.

Her teacher always sent her home with books from which she was to read for at least 20 minutes every night. But whenever she sat down with a book, I’d watch her body slump and her mind wander to far away thoughts of magical moving pictures from the glorious TV in her room.

She was no stranger to reading before she started school. She had an entire library in her room that I filled with all of the classics. I’d been reading to her since she was in the womb, and she’s always loved reading hour, which we have every Saturday and Sunday after lunch. But this was different. Being in kindergarden meant that she had to decipher the strange letters on the page on her own, and that was no fun.

She once started to say “I hate rea-” to which I gasped and forbid her from ever having such thoughts. As an English major and a lover of books, this was like a punch in the stomach for me. I felt a sense of loss for all of the amazing stories she might miss out on; all of the lives she wouldn’t live if this feeling continued. Dramatic, I know, but it’s really how I felt.

So of course I did what every wise, all-knowing mother does when she encounters an obstacle: I called my mom.

“Being a mom means being a teacher,” my mom said. “Put your teaching pants on.”

Apparently moms have all kinds of pants in an invisible mom-wardrobe that we just have to whip out and pull on when called for. So I did.  I pulled on my teaching pants, and they weren’t comfortable, but they fit.

After watching her read each day, I took to the chalkboard in her room and made lists of word families that I noticed gave her trouble.

Practicing “ou” brought mountains and clouds to life on the page for her. I bought books that were fun, like We Are In a Book, by Mo Willems. She cracked up reading that one and asked for more of his books. One Saturday I encouraged her to write a letter to her favorite author, and a week later she received her first piece of mail – a response from Mo Willems himself. He thanked her and promised to keep writing “Funny jokes to make her laugh.”

It took some time, but soon enough, she was reading books at home that were well beyond the reading level that her teacher was assigning.

Now as a 1st grader, new books have become rewards for completing her chores and finishing other books.

Some of her favorites are Amelia Bedelia, and The Show Must Go On. She recently finished  The Adventures of Captain Underpants (in 2 days) and I challenged her to read Wayside School is Falling Down in 1 week. On the line – the entire Captain Underpants box set.

I’d be lying if I said that my daughter loves every book that she picks up. She’ll still swap a book for the TV if the story isn’t funny enough, but she’s come a long way from the days of (almost) hating to read. And I get to put the teaching pants back on the hanger during reading hour.

 

Add a Comment

Hallmark’s Pics ‘n’ Props Kits: Keep Track of Important Milestones

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

If you’re a shutterbug and you have a child who’s heading (back) to school, consider picking up a School Days Kit from Hallmark’s Pics ‘n’ Props line.  Also featured in the Goodybag section of our September 2013 issue, the kit comes with fun, chalkboard-themed photo props (a chalkboard and inserts for preschool through 12th grade) that your child can hold up for the camera each year on the first day of school. A photo album is also included, along with journal cards for your child to write down his first-day thoughts.

After taking first day photos, don’t forget to post them to Instagram and include #parentsbts. We’re regramming select photos on the Parents Instagram page.

Don’t have a child in school? There are also kits for pregnant moms (Baby on the Way, to keep track of week-by-week growing bellies, and Boy Watch Me Grow! and Girl Watch Me Grow!, to keep track of growing babies). Or celebrate first birthdays (with gender-specific color banners) and upcoming holidays.

The creative kits are great for moms who are short on time or who lack DIY know-how — so start snapping away!

 

Add a Comment

What can you do to help your child learn?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

BY STEPHANIE WOOD

If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can help researchers find the answer to that critical question. Let’s face it: We’re all worried about how omnipresent tech devices are going to impact our kids’ classroom performance, along with other modern-day pressures like jam-packed schedules and increasingly competitive sports. To gain some insight, Parents has partnered with a consortium of researchers at Brown University School of Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, and New England Center for Pediatric Psychology in an effort to find 50,000 parents of children in grades K-12 to take part in The Learning Habit Study. The survey has been designed to examine how media use, family routines, and parenting style all conspire to help or hinder a child’s ability to learn. “Our goal is to provide parents, teachers, and pediatricians information on which family routines and behaviors improve academic success, increase social skills, and contribute to emotional balance in children,” notes lead researcher Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D. 

boy with glasses

The project originally began in 2012, when Dr. Pressman’s team conducted two surveys on homework and family routines. The surveys were administered to 1,000 parents in the waiting rooms of 12 pediatric offices. Initial results found—yep, you guessed it—a link between nighttime media use (meaning any electronic device with a screen) and a decrease in grades, opening a Pandora’s Box of concerns.

We all want some answers and advice with science behind it on dealing with our own digital natives. Do your part by taking the survey—it’s available online until October 31, 2013.  (Bonus: Once you answer the questions, you can enter a sweepstakes to win $500.) Then stay tuned for the results, which will be published next August in the book The Learning Habit.

Click here to participate in the survey!

Image: Boy with glasses, via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

American Baby’s Baby Booty: Win a Fit & Fresh Back-to-School Lunch Survival Kit Sweepstakes

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Last year when my daughter started kindergarten,  her lunch menu was the last thing on my mind. Every night before bed I would slap together a sandwich and my job was done, until one week in when she asked, “Why do the other kids get to have pasta and rice for lunch?”  Being the inexperienced lunch packer that I was, I thought that I couldn’t pack any food that needed to be warmed because she wouldn’t have access to a microwave, so I made cold pasta salad which was warm by lunch time and thrown away.

Now as a back-to-school veteran, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I made. With Fit & Fresh kid’s lunch sets, no soggy pasta salad are on the menu. Comment below to win a Fit & Fresh Back-to-School Lunch Survival Kit,  which includes one Gabby Hoot Insulated Lunch Bag, one Liam Comic Yo Insulated Lunch Bag, one set of 4 2-Cup Containers (these can be chilled), and 2-Lunch Pak Carriers and one 4-Pack of Cool Coolers Ice Packs.

Post up to one comment a day for your chance to be one of 3 lucky winners!

Read the official rules here. Goody luck!

Congratulations to our winners Jill Sonnier Price, Daisy Diaz, and Diana Harris Herrero!

Add a Comment

4 Ways to Start Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for Kids With Learning Disabilities

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Two girls learning in a classroomEditor’s Note: This post is courtesy of National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring success for all individuals with learning disabilities.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are intended to help children with learning disabilities and special education needs reach educational goals more easily, but they’re often a mystery to parents. A recent study found that schools nationwide could do more to explain the IEP process, which are a federal right of every student. Below are 4 pointers on how to start the IEP process:

Make a Request In Writing: A comment or request made verbally in passing to a teacher or school administrator technically didn’t happen. Remember always to place requests for an IEP evaluation or changes to your child’s current IEP in writing, whether by email or letter.  Notify the school administrator in charge of the Committee on Special Education (CSE) in your school district.

Know Your Rights: After you’ve submitted an IEP evaluation letter of request, every school district nationwide is required by law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to respond within 10 business (or school) days. The school must provide you with written documentation explaining (1) the parents’ need for consent to conduct an educational evaluation’ (2) how the a determination of eligibility will be made; (3) the documentation needed to identify the existence of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD); and (4) confirmation that parents are invited to participate in the IEP process.

Be Patient: Your child’s school has 60 business days to complete the evaluation, which includes an interview with parents, a conference with the student, observations of the student, and analysis of the student’s performance (attention, behavior, work completion, tests, class work, homework, etc.). Legally the CSE (or IEP team) must include “you” the parent, plus at least one general educator teacher (even if your child is in one general education class) and one special education teacher in the meeting.

Speak Up: The IEP team is charged with developing, reviewing, and revising your child’s IEP at least once a year by law and more often if you are dissatisfied with your child’s lack of progress. If you’re not satisfied, speak up (and write emails or letters) as often as you need in order to get results! Remember that you are an equal partner with the school in the IEP process, and the IEP document is intended as a flexible, but binding, agreement that guides everyone involved to ensure the highest quality instruction and free ,educational services in the least restrictive environment.

For more resources on IEPs from NCLD.org, check out Tips For A Successful IEP Meeting, Why And How To Read Your Child’s IEP, and IEP Meeting Conversation Stoppers.

 

Image: Concentrated school children being occupied with a task via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment

Okay, This is Why Pediatricians Should Ask Parents About Guns

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As we explain in this story, there’s debate among certain groups over whether pediatricians should be allowed to discuss gun safety with parents. The quick version: Pediatricians want to determine how safe a child’s home is, and asking whether there’s a gun–and whether it’s stored unloaded, and in a locked cabinet, and in a place separate from ammunition–is a logical part of that conversation. Gun advocates say it’s an invasion of privacy and a threat to the Second Amendment, and in many states there are efforts to punish doctors who initiate this discussion with large fines or jail time or both.

You may have heard that yesterday, a 7-year-old boy brought a semiautomatic pistol to his prep school in Queens, New York. (That is not him in the photo.) It hasn’t been revealed yet whether the gun was loaded, but the boy did bring the gun’s magazine, filled with bullets, as well as a plastic bag with at least another seven rounds of ammunition. According to the story I read in the New York Times, the police believe that the boy’s mom somehow found out about the gun, and arrived at the school around 9:30 a.m. under the pretense of taking her son to a dentist’s appointment. “It would appear that the intention was just to get the gun back and get it out of the school,” said one officer. But when her son told her he put it in a classmate’s backpack, she alerted the principal. The gun and ammo were found right away (they were in her son’s bag after all), but the school was put on lockdown for several hours. An 8-year-old was quoted as saying, “They made us turn off the lights and hide behind the teacher’s desk. I almost cried. I was afraid I was going to get shot.”

There are lots of unanswered questions at this point, but it seems likely that the mother–who was arrested this morning and charged with criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child, among other things–had no idea that her son was carrying a gun and bullets in his backpack when he went to school. I can’t help but wonder: If we were more open to the idea of having pediatricians talk about gun safety, maybe those conversations would be more commonplace… and parents would have their eyes opened to the precautions they must take if they have a gun in their home.

 

Photo: Serious little boy with the big black pistol via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment