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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.
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Books, challenges, education, kindergarden, learning, learning trouble, love of learning, reading, school | Categories:
GoodyBlog, school, Your Child
Friday, October 4th, 2013
Math just got a little more fun with PEG + CAT, the new animated series from PBS KIDS. The show premieres this Monday, October 7, and promises to make problem-solving skills a breeze for your preschooler.
In each 30-minute episode, Peg and her lovable sidekick Cat encounter dilemmas that require some big thinking. Whether they’re trying a hand at adding and subtracting or learning broader concepts like size and geometry, the pair never back down from a number challenge (or a catchy learning tune). With backdrops like a pirate island or futuristic planet, the program proves math can be exciting and happen in the most unexpected places.
PEG + CAT comes at a vital time when children’s math skills are in dire need. National assessments have shown that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the fourth grade, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress Report.
Another inspiring element of the show: The main character is a young girl. While women make up 48 percent of the workforce, only 23 percent are in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Let’s hope a character as spirited and outspoken as Peg will be inspiration for boys AND girls everywhere to get their brains calculating.
Beyond math, PEG + CAT shows young ones the process of trial and error, such as figuring out multiple ways to move 100 chickens back to their coop. She may not get it right the first time, but Peg eventually learns from her mistakes and seeks help from friends along the way, both awesome life skills for the real world as well.
Want to get a sneak peek this weekend? Visit the show’s interactive website pbskids.org/peg, where you can also find local listings for the show, or download the PET + CAT Big Gig app for games and learning resources now.
Check out the video below to see how PEG + CAT was created!
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child education, early education, education, kids shows, learning, math, math skills, pbs kids, PEG + CAT, preschool, preschooler, preschoolers, problem solving, public television, stem, Television, television shows | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Time for Fun, Your Child
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
Parents caught up with tennis star, humanitarian, father (and now snack-creator) Andre Agassi upon the launch of his new snack line for kids, Box Budd!es. Agassi teamed up with V20 Foods to create snacks from milk boxes to granola bars.We particularly enjoyed the fun new Peachy Apple Fruit Pouch as a twist on traditional applesauce. The chocolate granola bars win the Parents vote since they’re the perfect size for a lunchbox treat, with only 100 calories and 5 grams of sugar each. Not to mention, all of the proceeds from these foods benefit the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. But aside from this endeavor, as dad to Jaden, 11, and Jaz, 9, this pro has plenty to say about healthy eating, kids and sports, and teaching your child kindness.
P: What got you started on the nutritional front for kids?
AA: The impetus was about education and it morphed into educating on two fronts. All the money goes to my Foundation for Education, so we can educate our future, and we also educate parents on how to make better choices for their kids.
P: The snacks are a bit healthier and the proceeds support education, but I have to imagine taste was a factor. Were Jaden and Jaz your taste-testers?
AA: They were two of them, let me put it that way. Their cousins were four more and their friends. As we got closer to the end product it became a fun thing in the house. We would line up all these blind taste tests and cut them into little tiny squares so you could compare them and then they would all do their little notes about them. It was actually a pretty fun process.
P: So are applesauce and chocolate milk some of their favorite foods?
AA: We have the same dilemma every parent has in that you keep your kids living a well-balanced health lifestyle and it starts with educating them on their choices and forcing them to eat something healthy before they eat something that’s not as healthy.
P: What are you tricks of the trade in getting them to choose that healthier option?
AA: Well, it’s a mandate. If you want something that’s unhealthy for a snack, you first have to eat an apple. You want to go to dessert, you have to finish this on your plate. It’s filling them up on the good stuff before they choose the bad stuff. If they ask for snacks, as long as they eat something healthy they can have the snack. We don’t discriminate against the snack as long as they start with the healthy option.
P: I know that you are involved with the Boys and Girls club, an organization that mixes education and athletics. Do Jaden and Jaz play sports to keep active and healthy?
AA: Yeah. My son plays baseball, full stop, and my daughter’s on two hip hop dance competition teams. She is rock hard now and she’s nine. I didn’t even know bodies could do those movements. It’s crazy to watch her do it.We’re there at competitions and games cheering all the time.
P: In your autobiography, Open, you talk a lot about how tennis felt pressurized for you. How do you keep athletics, or dance, or physical activity in general fun for your kids?
AA: Well, we’re not the kind of parents who expect them to do this for a lifetime. We try to nurture what they gravitate towards and they both found their niche pretty quickly. We just support it. There’s nothing to push them at. They just have to see through their responsibility. It’s really smiple: You’re going to fulfill your responsibility. Jaz is part of two dance competitions. She doesn’t have to do it next year, but this year I say, “You’re going to every practice, you’re going to go to every competition.” Same with Jaden—he can make his choices year to year if that’s what he chooses, but I harp on being responsible.
P: Through your Foundation and all of the wonderful causes that you’ve been a supporter of, giving back is clearly an important value to you. How do you go about instilling that value in your children?
AA: All of those things I did that led me to education. I got tired of sticking band-aids on issues and I wanted to give the tools for real systemic change. But I will tell you this, and one thing I’ve learned most profoundly as a parent: children will learn from what they see way more than what you tell them. So the fact that I’m in New York right now for two days and I’m not home with them, they want to know where I am and why I’m going. I walk them through what I’m doing, as an example, with Box Budd!es. They all of a sudden realize that I’m not really doing something I want to do—I don’t want to travel, I don’t want to leave them—but I have to because it is the right thing to do. So they see that more than telling them. Next thing you know on the weekend they’re having a lemonade drive for the ASPCA to save pets and animals. It’s remarkable how that correlates.
P: I know that Jaden has a birthday coming up, he’s about to turn 12. Do you have birthday plans?
AA: Both of them actually. Jaz wants to take her entire dance team to the Jabberwockies. So that would be the third year in a row she wants to do that. They’re better athletes than anyone I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. They’re remarkable what they can do. Jaden, his birthday is late October so he’s still sort of morphing back and forth between a very understated barbeque with just a few friends or a big movie night with his entire team.
P: Will you serve Box Budd!es at the birthday party?
I’m gonna push this as much as possible. I hope this brand builds. I hope that when people see that seal, that logo, that this is really going towards our future, that they trust the source, and that 100 percent of all my proceeds are going directly to our future.
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Andre Agassi, celebrity interview, celebs, charity, child education, child nutrition, education, healthy eating, healthy snacks, Nutrition, school lunch, school snacks, snacks, tennis, values | Categories:
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.
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
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Friday, May 24th, 2013
Should kids get an hour of gym every day?
With physical activity as a proven brain booster, the Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students.
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001, 44 percent of school administrators report slashing big chunks of time from physical education, arts, and recess in order to boost classroom time for reading and math. Mandatory PE classes can help lower our nation’s childhood obesity rates, increase brain power, and add a healthy dose of fun to our kids’ school day, experts say.
A recent study by the Delaware Department of Education and the nonprofit Nemours Health & Prevention Services analyzed the records of more than 80,000 Delaware public-school students. It found that the kids who were more physically fit generally performed better on reading and math tests than their less-active peers.
Another study done by researchers at the University of Rome found that the test scores of 8-11 year olds improved by an average of 10 percent when they exercised right before an exam.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that PE be adopted as a core subject.
Do you think PE should be a core requirement?
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brain booster, education, exams, Exercise, fitness, gym, health, no child left behind, PE, physical activity, physical education, research, study, tests | Categories:
Friday, May 24th, 2013
Playground made from trash gets children back in the swing
Ruganzu Bruno and his troupe of fellow eco-artists created a playground made of recycled materials to raise awareness about environmental degradation. (via CNN)
Pregnancy Hormone May Predict Postpartum-Depression Risk
Levels of a stress hormone released by the placenta could predict a woman’s risk of developing postpartum depression, new research suggests. (via Yahoo! News)
NYC School Principals Send Letter Refusing To Consider Recent State Test In Fall Admissions
Principals around New York City are fighting back against what they see as flawed state tests. (via Huffington Post)
Report: Nation’s kids need to get more physical
The prestigious Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students and that PE become a core subject. (via Yahoo News)
Parents Argue School Is Violating Separation Of Church And State
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Does teaching yoga in public schools violate the separation of church and state? That’s what two parents are contending in a lawsuit against Encinitas Union School District in California. (via Huffington Post)
children, education, environment, Exercise, health, playground, postpartum depression, Pregnancy, research, school, standardized testing, standardized tests, study, yoga | Categories:
Monday, May 20th, 2013
Childhood ADHD tied to obesity decades later
Boys who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary school are more likely to grow up to be obese adults than those who don’t have the condition, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)
Newer whooping cough vaccine not as protective
A newer version of the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t protect kids as well as the original, which was phased out in the 1990s because of safety concerns, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Home visiting programs are preschool in its earliest form
Through programs across the country, nurses, social workers or trained mentors offer support to new or expectant parents and impart skills to help them become better teachers for their children. (via Washington Post)
City closure of Cobble Hill preschool means kids are having ‘classes’ in parks, museums as parents fume
The Linden Tree Preschool is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. The city closed it on May 9, saying it did not have permits for infants or toddlers. Since then, parents have taken their kids to the park and other field trips where teachers have been instructing the kids. (via NY Daily News)
USA Football health and safety survey shows few youth concussions
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Fewer than 4 percent of youth players surveyed in a USA Football-sanctioned study suffered concussions in the 10 leagues examined. (via Fox News)
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Child Care Centers Overhaul Proposed By Federal Health Officials
Federal health officials say they will propose Thursday to overhaul federally funded child care centers across the country, beefing up safety standards including background and fingerprint checks for employees and requiring states to better monitor the facilities. (via Huffington Post)
Slightly high lead tied to less reading readiness
Children with even slightly elevated blood lead levels are less likely to be ready to read when starting kindergarten, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Cracking the Tech Job Talent Crunch by Teaching Kids to Code
For all the parents losing sleep over their kids’ prospects in such a tightfisted job market, I can see at least one recourse: teach them how to code. The earlier, the better.(via Huffington Post)
Judge declines to nix ’79 NYC child-killing case
A man charged with murder decades after one of the nation’s most infamous child disappearances can be brought to trial, a judge ruled Wednesday, turning down the man’s claim that the case was too thin to proceed. (via Yahoo News)
Pop-Tart Gun Suspension: Attorney For Suspended Student Says No Resolution Has Been Reached With School
An attorney for the family of an Anne Arundel County 7-year-old suspended from school after being accused of nibbling a pastry into the shape of a gun says he met with school officials Wednesday in an attempt have the student’s suspension expunged, but no resolution was reached. (via Reuters)
Parents sue South Carolina, hospital over child’s sex assignment surgery
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A couple filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state of South Carolina for what they say was an unnecessary sexual assignment surgery performed on a toddler they later adopted. (via Fox News)