Friday, March 27, 2015

Homework tips

Radio Commentary

Without review, the average student can forget 80 percent of what he has read in just two weeks.
To help students retain what they have learned, the first review of the material should come very shortly after they have studied the material for the first time.
An early review acts as a check on forgetting and helps them remember much longer. When the time comes to review for a test, the material is fresher in their minds and easier to recall.

Sometimes, it also helps to recite the material out loud. Recitation reinforces the material and creates a different pathway into the child’s memory banks.
After reading a paragraph, it often helps to have the student use his or her own words to describe key ideas.

One other homework tip has proven effective for many families: When students are given a study assignment that will be due in a few weeks, the students should spend time reviewing the tasks and creating a timeline the very first night.
They should read through it carefully, and think about all the elements that need to be done — including research, memorization, artwork, or other creative touches.

The main advantage is that the student avoids waiting until the last minute and discovering, too late, everything that should have been done in the meantime.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Internet contract

Radio Commentary

Parents tell children, “Don’t talk to strangers.” With wide use of the Internet, the possibility of talking to strangers in cyberspace is now an issue as well.

But it doesn’t need to be. Children can make very good use of the Internet without using chat rooms or interactive forums that bring them in contact with strangers.

Parents can help keep their children safe by setting rules and enforcing them. Remember, even if you don’t have a computer at home, your children can still use online services at a friend’s house or even a public library.

So help your child understand that online activity is a privilege. Children should also agree to:

  • Limit time online to 8 hours per week.
  • Never give out their name, address, phone number, school, or password to anyone online.
  • Report to you anyone online who asks for personal information.
  • Tell you if anyone sends messages that are uncomfortable or inappropriate.
  • Never arrange to meet friends they have met online, unless you are with them.
  • Never spend time in adult chat rooms or newsgroups.
  • Refrain from using bad language or sending cruel messages.

Build in natural consequences. If any of these agreements are broken, children generally should lose online privileges for one week per broken promise.

Remember: safety online is as important as safety offline.

Partners in Education enhances young lives

News column

One of the greatest privileges of my position has been working alongside local business leaders who have volunteered their time to help guide, challenge, and enhance young lives in our community through Partners in Education.
These members include company CEOs, college presidents, and school district superintendents, all with institutional challenges of their own to solve, who still take the time to come together at early morning breakfast meetings to help our local young people. I have been continually impressed by their passion and commitment to our youth.

The group started out as the Community Career Development Council in 1977 and became the Industry Education Council from 1981 to 2000. The following year, the group, now named Partners in Education, attained nonprofit status, with Computers for Families as its top project, and remained steadfast in its mission. Last year the program celebrated the distribution of its 10,000th computer to a family in need, helping bridge the Digital Divide in dramatic fashion.

When south county schools indicated the need for volunteer support, Partners devised the Volunteer Program, with support from the Santa Barbara and Orfalea Foundations in 2008. The Volunteer Program has since expanded into Santa Maria and Lompoc in collaboration with the United Boys & Girls Club of Lompoc and the Santa Maria Valley YMCA, through a partnership called the North County Volunteer Corps. Since these programs launched, over 130,000 hours of service have been delivered countywide to schools and nonprofits.

The initial mission of the Industry Education Council was to “develop outstanding graduates in the Santa Barbara area.” At each annual breakfast, students who have benefited from the services provided by Partners speak to the group to tell their stories and express their gratitude. This year, Carmina Acebu and John Unzueta rose to the occasion.

Carmina, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School, is an intern with Partners, making videos that highlight volunteers and interns. “Once I completed the seven weeks of job readiness training required of every intern in the program, I was ready to start working,” she explained.

“As a videographer and an editor for Partners in Education, I grew so much this past year…It’s become a constant reminder in my daily life now, getting to hear stories about volunteering, investing in students’ futures, giving back to the community and creating partnership that will cultivate something great: now tell me that doesn’t inspire you to want to do more. I know it has for me. Why else would this once-shy kid be standing up on stage right now?”

She said the people in Partners motivate her constantly to want to give back and help her fellow students, “Because who doesn’t want the amazing feeing that comes with contributing to the betterment of the community?”

She added:  “There is honestly the truest sense of community with Partners in Education…these are invaluable interactions that have molded me into who I am today, and are showing me who I want to be in the future.”

John’s story was different, but equally moving. He was a junior at San Marcos High School when he first got involved with Partners in Education. In introducing him, Director Chelsea Duffy said, “He is someone who has turned his personal challenges — that no kid should have to face — into tools for good.”

John is currently in his third year at Westmont College pursuing a degree in economics and business with a minor in biology. His early years certainly did not make this outcome inevitable. “When I was growing up, education was not a priority for me…In fact, I was the kid that many teachers in elementary school had hoped they would not get,” he told the audience.

He pointed to one encouraging teacher he had at that time.  “Mrs. Morse at Hollister Elementary would always correct me when I said, ‘I can’t.’ She taught me to say, ‘I can’t yet.’”

When John was in junior high, his father struggled with addiction that cost him his job and the family’s home. Things were at a low point, and school remained a challenge. Mentors helped get him through. “Jamie DeVries, teacher at San Marcos High, showed me that genuine affection and investment in people is where we as humans can find the greatest satisfaction and success in life,” said John. He said another mentor, Miguel Milendrez, taught him to be quick to listen and slow to anger.

Among several formative experiences — REACH and Emmaus Road among them — John cited the Partners in Education Internship Program. “Structured like a job, you apply, interview, and potentially have the opportunity to participate.” He said Partners taught him about cover letters, resumes, and emotional intelligence, helping provide him with the tools and desire go beyond preconceived notions of what he could be.

“Who I am today and how I want to contribute to the world is a culmination of all that this community has invested in me. All of me, has been fostered by all of you,” he said. “Can you please stand and give yourselves, along with your colleagues, a round of applause—because I am thankful beyond words.”

These are just two shining examples of success, and I continue to admire and salute Partners in Education for the work it does on behalf of our young people. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Count to 10

Radio Commentary

You would be surprised how much good can result when a parent counts to 10 before responding to a child, especially in a tense situation, according to child behavior specialist Betsy Brown Braun.

When such a situation arises, pause. Don’t react. Don’t say anything. Avoid making any immediate threats, judgments, or punishments. Just wait, and give yourself 10 seconds to process the situation.

The space created by that pause will help you think about your response, and will lessen the likelihood of a “misfire” on your part that could compound the problem.

It is not uncommon for parents who are quick on the trigger to regret what came out in that first rush of reaction.

Hasty judgments, harsh consequences, or dire threats are very hard to take back once they’ve been delivered.

For that reason, it is far better to head them off before they are said out loud.

The simple act of pausing and counting to 10 can buy the time necessary to react more appropriately.

A pause can help a parent get closer to a response that is deliberate and wise.

So take a breath, count to 10, and use that time to think through what you really want to say and how you really want to react. It will make most situations much easier to handle.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Domestic abuse

Radio Commentary

Parents often underestimate what their children see and hear. It’s best to assume that children know everything that’s going on in the household.

This is especially the case with domestic abuse. It is estimated that 10 percent of children nationwide live in households where there are violent disagreements.

Even children who do not see violence first-hand are vulnerable to its effects. Overhearing emotional or physical abuse behind closed doors can increase a child’s risk for emotional and behavioral problems.

A child who is anxious about domestic abuse might not say anything, but is likely to act out by misbehaving at home or at school, crying excessively, or even wetting the bed.

The best advice, if you are living with domestic abuse of any kind, is to get help right away.

Locally, CALM is a very informative and responsive resource. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at, that’s, also helps victims of violence.

It can also help to talk to a family or marriage therapist. It takes time to change or eliminate destructive patterns, so engage in a long-term solution.

You can learn to reconcile differences peacefully. The old rule that people should never go to sleep angry can be a powerful life lesson.

What’s important, for the sake of children affected by the situation, is to take the steps necessary to move forward as a family.

The safety of all involved should remain the primary concern.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cyber crimes

Radio Commentary

It’s very common for any young person with a camera phone to take a picture with a friend and upload it to an Internet page or post it on a website.

Parents may be unaware that every picture taken by a cell phone now has a geo tag, which provides the exact latitude and longitude where the picture was taken.

This means that anyone who means harm to young people can see a picture online, even an innocuous one, and use the geo tag to find out exactly where the young people are. That’s cause for great concern.

Our office is working in partnership with District Attorney Joyce Dudley to be aggressive in the new battles against cyber crimes and cyber bullying.
Incidents of bullying via text and online sites are mushrooming, and their impact can be broad and devastating.
A good strategy for parents is to pay close attention to the ways their children respond to questions and conversation at home. If they have an especially short fuse or are more emotional than usual, and react badly to even mild criticism, they may be experiencing cyber bullying.

It’s also important to notice changes of any kind in a child’s behavior, such as a good student not wanting to go to school, or an outgoing child becoming withdrawn.

Most important of all, parents must monitor their children’s Internet activity and behaviors to make sure their children know not to frequent sites that are dangerous. We all have to work together in this area, because adults are truly playing catch-up.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Using time well

Radio Commentary

No matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children succeed in school.

To start, it’s important to organize your time. Try to plan work and activities around school and practice schedules.

Also plan to do a few things at once. For example a child could start doing homework in the car while the family is waiting for an older sibling to get out of school.
The car is also a quiet place where parents and children can talk together uninterrupted.

It’s also a good idea to find other people to help. A babysitter can sometimes help with homework. Grandparents who live nearby can often lend a hand with carpooling.

Friends and neighbors are often willing to trade services and pitch in when needed.

Alternative scheduling can also make a big difference. Though many parents check homework at night, it sometimes works better for parents to do it in the morning, while a child is eating breakfast.

If work schedules make it possible to have only a quick dinner in the evenings, try to compensate in the mornings with a big, hot breakfast.

Also remember that weekend schedules can make up for weekday shortfalls.
And finally, it’s a good idea to figure out a way to help at school even if your work schedule is complicated.

Be flexible and creative. But find ways to stay involved.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Children and second-hand smoke

Radio Commentary

An estimated 39 percent of U.S. households with one or more children under age six have at least one smoker in their midst, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you are among those who smoke and find it hard to stop, bear in mind that parental smoking is a serious health hazard for children.
Small lungs fill quickly, and concentrations of poisons affect them more potently.

Children who live in homes with smokers cannot avoid inhaling cigarette smoke. The second-hand nature of the smoke does nothing to diminish the dangers.
As a result, these children run a higher risk of developing asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and middle-ear disease. Studies show they also have more difficulty getting over common colds.

Also, of the 4,000-plus chemicals in environmental tobacco smoke, at least 40 are known to cause cancer.

If you would like to quit smoking but can’t seem to do it, contact your physician. Many low-cost programs can help.

Never allow smoking inside your home. If another member of your household is a smoker, have him go outside — and leave all ashes and cigarette butts outside as well.

And remember:  It is illegal to smoke in an automobile if children are riding along. The confinement increases the potency and the risk of harm.