Monthly Archives: August 2009

PTA Programs

The Parent Teacher Association is geared to help parents be involved in public and private schools. Ideally teachers, staff and parents are part of the organization. Most schools from pre-school to 12th grade have PTA involvement. This association is present to help increase parent involvement, organize family centered activities, and to support teachers and staff at the schools.

The PTA was first organized in the late 1800′s. The first meeting was held in Georgia. Since that meeting there have come to be 5.5 million people in the association. The good that the PTA does is far reaching.

The United States has 25,000 PTA groups and as of June 2009 has it’s first male president.

The PTA has been responsible for many great leaps in our educational system. The PTA organized the hot lunch program, the immunization requirements, PE classes, and sex education courses.

Currently the PTA runs a Reflections program which promotes children expressing themselves through art. They also have programs that deal with national standards, reading programs, health programs and more.

The Parent Teacher Association is a great child advocacy and accepts members who subscribe to their missions statement. You can talk to your school administration about joining the PTA today.

Shopping for School Clothes and Uniforms

This time of year is when parents do the bulk of clothes shopping for the children to get them ready for school. Whether you have a child in public school, private school, or homeschool them you have choices to make. Your child’s school may require uniforms and they may lesson the arguments about what your child is allowed to where but then you also have to buy uniforms on top of everyday clothing. This can ease some stress and then add some stress and cost to the equation. Either way most parents, teachers and students would agree that clothing is a subject where a lot of peer pressure comes into play.

School uniform requirements are a hot topic that is much debated. We will just provide a brief section for the pros of uniforms and one for the cons of uniforms.

Pros of School Uniforms:

  • Uniforms take the guess work out of setting guidelines of appropriate school attire.
  • The students clearly know what is expected of them, there is no room for interpretation.
  • Students and parents are less worried about fashion trends and can more readily focus on why they are at school.
  • Students appear as equals in every way. This eliminates social classes and cliques. It also keeps any gang related clothing articles out of the school. These things all create a feeling of unity in the school.
  • Students are easily identifiable on field trips.

Cons of School Uniforms:

  • Students lose their freedom of expression in regards to dress and outward appearance on some level due to uniform requirements.
  • Students do not see the real world at school, identifying that we are not all alike or have the same taste but that we can all get along.
  • It may not be right to teach conformity in school as a way to avoid problems with each other.
  • Students are not able to dress for their body type and so may not look their best in school uniforms that may be unflattering. Especially for teens and tweens, this can be hard on their self esteem.
  • Cost – parents may not have the money for new uniforms every time they are needed or when the school changes a uniform requirement. This excludes children which should never happen at school if possible.
  • Not allowing children to wear their own clothing will not prevent gangs, clicks or how students choose to express themselves in other ways. With the expression in how they dress taken away, they may find an alternative way that is not much better.

The debate can go on and on about school uniforms or what is appropriate for school dress codes.

First Day of Kindergarten

No matter what type of education (public school, private school, homeschool, charter school) you have chosen for your Kindergarten student it is an exciting time for the whole family. Here we will discuss things that you may want to go over with your child before they go into the big world of schooling. Also, we will go over a few things that are great rituals to do with your child that will be comforting to them, help them have a say in what happens and to help them get excited about going to school.

Have a routine!

You may want to make a chart or a cute list to post somewhere that the child will readily see it. Also, if your child is not reading yet, either teach them the sight words on the list or put pictures next to the words. Don’t just use pictures as the child should be getting used to learning sight words and learning to read.

On your list you may want to include the everyday things like brushing teeth, washing face, making the bed, taking laundry to where it goes, picking up the room, getting dressed, eating breakfast, getting the back pack ready, packing the lunch, combing hair. This will ease the stress of the early morning madness for you and the child. Children love to know what is expected of them, they find comfort in routine.

Lunch!

If you choose to make your own lunches let your child help you shop for the items that will be needed. Let them have as much input as possible as to what they eat for lunch. A great way to do this while still getting the nutrition that is needed is to offer two options and let them choose. If you don’t use a lunch box or don’t want to keep track of one you can let the child decorate some regular lunch sacks that will have their name on them and any other information the school requires. Children love to decorate things and to take ownership of things that adults take for granted. The child will find comfort in knowing that at lunch time they will be able to easily identify their individual lunch and that it will be satisfying because they chose the items in it and are excited about them.

Homework!

More and more children are coming home with homework in Kindergarten. Homeschool families don’t have the same issue with homework but both types of families need a good study spot that is conducive to learning. Make sure that the area is free of distractions and well lit. Make it comfortable for the child. If they need extra cushions on the chair so that it is the right height make sure they have what they need. This will make homework a time that is comfortable and peaceful rather than distracting and miserable.

Before the first day of school!

Talk to you child about safety. Tell them what do should they be asked to leave the school with someone. Make sure they know where you will be when school is over and assure them that they are in good hands with their teacher. If they can meet the teacher ahead of time and see the classroom it will feel like a comfort zone to them and things will be better.

School Immunizations

We are back to school which means back to school physicals, immunizations, flu shots, dental appointments and eye checks. It’s a busy time of year and as we sit in the waiting room of the offices for these things we all read literature or have discussions about what we are doing health wise. Without fail there is controversy surrounding the issue of immunizations. In this post we will discuss the pros and cons of school immunizations, the reason that most states require these immunizations and we will raise some questions that you may want to ask your health provider.

H1N1 – The CDC has put out some guidelines for the flu this upcoming year. Mainly prevention is the key as a vaccination will most likely be rationed for those at increased risk. Newborns, infants and elderly people are among those most at risk. The CDC states that we need to have active screening in schools, warn parents, students and staff to stay home if they have any symptoms at all. Naturally prevention includes routine cleaning, regular hand washing and being considerate enough to stay home should you display any symptoms.

Standard Immunizations – In recent years there has been a lot of media that talk of the risk of autism and other side effects of the immunizations that the public school system requires of children who are school age. This is important to discuss with your health care provider. Keep in mind that the schools are considerate of religious beliefs or personal convictions so if you have these issues, there may be forms to fill out to explain your thinking. We all need to keep in mind that there are risks in all that we do. It is important to make a very informed decision in regards to immunizations. Make sure you do this before your child’s first day of school.

Homeschool individuals may consider keeping their immunizations up to date. One reason for this is that should anything happen and the child has to suddenly be enrolled in school, it is one less thing to worry about for the caregiver, homeschool children should be ready to go to school in every way at any given time. This is another time to consult your physician as you may be putting your child at risk of certain diseases if you keep them from being immunized. On the other hand, if you have certain hereditary problems or anything that could play a factor in a negative reaction to an immunization your doctor should know so as to guide you in the right way.

Remember that it may be best to get recommendations on immunizations from more than just one doctor. The more minds thinking on something, the better. Second opinions are great. Be sure to ask your doctor specific questions about why they are pro immunizations or against them. Try to understand their reasoning and then take that information into account when making your decision.

As for this flu season the CDC has warned that the H1N1 vaccine does not replace the normal flu shot. It is to be used in tandem with the H1N1 vaccine. For more information visit the CDC website or your local health department website.

Extracurricular Activities

As we begin a new school year many parents are looking at having one of more children involved in band, choir, cheerleading, sports, school clubs, private music or dance lessons, and these are just a few of things that take up a student’s extra time.

Extracurricular activites are wonderful for children. They enrich the lives of the student, their families and in turn our communities. These activities create well rounded children who learn what their interests and talents are because they have been exposed to such opportunities. The great thing is that most schools and communities offer many things for students and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for parents. We all know just how expensive having multiple children in classes is. It can be a shock.

Here are a few extracurricular activities that parents may want to look into on their student’s behalf. These can be used for homeschool, private school, or public school students.

  • School sports – starting in middle school kids are usually permitted and encouraged to play organized sports. This can be a great motivator for some students as the schools usually require a minimum grade point average to allow students to play. For some students this is reason enough to do the homework and score well on exams.
  • Music and arts – there are many studies that prove that music involvement improves test scores in students. Statistics also show that children involved in music and other arts are less likely to get involved in things such as drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and truancy. Instruments and supplies are usually rented at a nominal fee depending on your needs. These are also activities that are usually offered through the school as electives which means that parents don’t have to pay for private lessons but can choose to if they choose.
  • School clubs – some parents don’t view clubs, sports or music things at school as extracurricular but they are. Anything that does not cover core subjects in school and can take time after school is considered extracurricular. School clubs offer opportunities for leadership that student’s don’t otherwise have. These clubs are also another way for students to find a peer group in which they have something in common with the members. It is like having built in friends with the same interests as you.
  • Community involvement (after school activities)- this can be Little League, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and other types of involvement. These organizations all give students a huge boost of self confidence while helping them to contribute to society and be part of a group with a common goal.

These are just a few of the things that children can look forward to. Parents will most likely know what the student’s needs are and what is age appropriate (use a school counselor if you need input). It is also important for parents to understand the importance of not overscheduling children. While we all want well rounded, independent members of society, we do not want students that are full of stress and anxiety. Parents should listen to what their children want while helping them to reach outside of their comfort zones as appropriate.

New Mexico Homeschool Law Changes

New Mexico has completely revamped their homeschool laws. This will cause some grief for parents who are already homeschooling and it may deter some parents from looking at homeschool as an option because of all the requirements placed on them. Either way, this is a great reminder that parents who homeschool need to be constantly looking at their state’s requirements for homeschooling as they are subject to change at any time and it is best to be well informed and prepared to have what is needed to please the state. This just makes your homeschool experience a much smoother one.

The New Mexico Public Education Department has actually come up with a whole manual of instruction for homeschool parents. Here is a list of some of the changes you can look forward to if you live in New Mexico and homeschool!

  1. Homeschool families have to submit a form basically letting the state know of your intent to “establish a home school”.
  2. Maintain immunization records, health records or a “religious/conscientious objection form”. These records or forms must be submitted to the state.
  3. Keep track of homeschool attendance .
  4. Prove that the person instructing has a high school diploma or G.E.D.
  5. Notify the Secretary of Education if you move or discontinue homeschooling.

Many states do not require proof of immunizations, attendance records, or proof that the instructor has any kind of diploma or G.E.D. These new regulations may help some parents be more accountable and it will definitely help the state keep better track of the students of all ages in the New Mexico education system.

Telegraph Science Project

Fall is the best time to get a jump start on upcoming science projects. Your student may have a science fair or exhibit coming up that they need a specific project to submit. The following is a brief explanation of how to do a “Telegraph Science Project”.


Be sure that this as well as any science project or experiment is well monitored and that all safety precautions are taken. This particular project entails electricity which can be dangerous so please be cautious.

First make sure that you have all of the materials that you need:
  • Coil of insulated wire, 22-30 gauge
  • Plastic coated hookup wire
  • 2 “D” cell flashlight batteries
  • 2 “D” Battery Holder (for example, Radio Shack model 270-386)
  • 4 small screws and matching screwdriver
  • 6″ x 12″ (15.25 x 30.5 cm) base board
  • 3″ (7.5 cm) iron nail
  • 2 flat strips of sheet metal, one 7″ (17.75 cm), the other about half that length
  • wire strippers (scissors can be used instead)
  • 2 small pads of paper
  • 2 pencils or pens
Directions
  1. About 4” (10.15 cm) in from one short end of the board and centered, tap in one of the nails.
  2. Leaving a tail of about 5” (12 cm) of wire, and starting at the base of the nail, wind 100 turns of insulated wire neatly around the nail, leaving the finishing end trailing from the base as well, after giving the two ends two twists to unite them. Use the wire strippers to strip away about 1” (2.5 cm) of insulation from each wire end.
  3. Bend the longer strip of metal into a L-shape with 1 90º angles: make the base of the L only about 1 ½” (3.8 cm) long.
  4. Between the nail and the closest short edge, also centered, but about 2” (5.1 cm), use a screw to attach the base of the L to the board, with the part that rises up towards the nail.
  5. Bend the L’s riser at a 90º angle so that it extends over the nail with the coil of wire. It should be about 1/8” (3 mm) above the nail. This is the sounder.
  6. Place the board so a long edge faces you and the nail is closer to the right-hand short edge. Put the batter holder above the board with its black wire trailing to the right and its red wire trailing to the left.
  7. In the upper right-hand corner of the board, about ½” (1.25 cm) in from each edge, screw in one little screw, leaving some of the neck exposed. Wrap the shorter trailing wire from the nail and the black battery wire under the screw head so that metal from each is touching the screw. Tighten the screw.
  8. In the lower left-hand corner of the board, about ½” (1.25 cm) in from each edge, screw in one little screw, leaving some of the neck exposed. Wrap the longer trailing wire from the nail under the screw head so that metal from the wire is touching the screw. Tighten the screw.
  9. In the upper left-hand corner of the board, about ½” (1.25 cm) in from each edge, screw in the shorter strip of metal, attaching the red wire from the battery holder before tightening it. Bent the metal strip into a very shallow Z so that it lies along the short end with its tip over the screw in the lower left-hand corner, but not touching it. This is the Key.
  10. Insert the batteries into the battery holder, paying attention to the positive and negative indicators.
  11. Test your telegraph by tapping the key.
The above was take from http://www.educationbug.org

Back To School Tips

Back to school can be stressful but it can also be a joyful time. It depends on how prepared you are and how far ahead you look to know how to handle situations.

If your child is moving to a new school you will need to take special consideration to help the student feel comfortable in their new learning environment. Going to back to school nights, visiting the classroom and teacher before school starts, Giving the student (if older) a map of the campus may help them to navigate and not get lost. Finding friends that your student may know at that school can make life easier. This could be someone from the neighborhood or church or other activities. The bottom line is to help your child find their place in their new environment and be active in their school.

Parents should try to volunteer as much as possible at the school that their student is attending. Parents should never underestimate the impact they have on their children’s lives when they get directly involved in what the child is doing.

The American Association of Pediatrics recently came out with an article that gave several tips on a broad spectrum of topics regarding this time of year. A few of these tips are:

  • Talk to your child about the first day of school. Point out positive aspects of having a new school year.

  • Find someone from your neighborhood that the child can walk or ride to school with that you feel comfortable with.

  • Make sure that the backpack you choose is light and comfortable.

  • Discuss safety with your child regarding getting to and from school. “Stranger danger” is a discussion we can’t have too many times with children of all ages.

  • Make sure you have lunch and snacks if necessary for your child. Talk to the school to see what your options are and make sure you have it all in place before the first day of school.

  • If your child is bullied make sure you teach them what they can do for themselves and always remain an active part of their school day.

  • Know how to handle your child if they are the bully.

  • Make sure you have child care in place for before or after school as needed.

  • Develop good homework and study habits. Make a spot in your home that is away from unnecessary distractions. A comfortable place with plenty of light is optimal.

Keep in mind that this list is not conclusive for everything that a parent has to think about regarding the beginning of a school year. There is naturally back to school shopping, uniform shopping and more.