Friday, January 30, 2015

Effective families

Radio Commentaries

In a report titled “The Evidence Continues to Grow,” the National Committee for Citizens in Education made a strong case for parental involvement in education.

The report found that effective families have several identifiable characteristics. These included:

  • A feeling of control over their lives — individually, and as a group
  • Frequent communication of high expectations to the children
  • A family dream of success for the future for all members
  • A consistent message that hard work is the key to success
  • An active lifestyle involving physical activities
  • A view of the family as a mutual support system and an effective problem-solving unit
  • Clearly understood household rules, that are consistently enforced, and
  • Frequent contact with teachers by at least one parent, and both if possible.

The report maintained that this type of family lifestyle helps lead to a child’s increased self-confidence and self-control.

These characteristics create a protective network that is an ongoing source of strength and support for young and old alike.

In families with these traits, parents tell their children through their attitudes, behavior, and encouragement that they can succeed in school and in life.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Loving discipline

Radio Commentaries

Punishment is a negative consequence of bad behavior that has already occurred. Discipline is a positive way to focus on future behavior.

Here are rules for loving discipline that many parents have found helpful:

  • Change misbehavior by setting positive goals to strive for, rather than negative ones to avoid. 
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. Children have an uncanny way of knowing the difference.
  • Involve your children in solving problems to show you value their judgment.
  • Talk less; do more. 
  • Ask what happened to cause a certain misbehavior. The cause may be very different from what you suspected.
  • Make clear what you want from your children and praise them when they do it. 
  • Impose logical consequences for any misbehavior. Be sure the cause-and-effect link is clear.
  • Give your children choices — but make sure you can live with them. If not, discuss the issue and explain why another choice might be better.
  • Focus on what’s good about your children, and expect their very best. 
  • And always show your love.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Health and learning

Radio Commentaries

Children’s health can have a noticeable impact on their ability to learn.

Vision and hearing problems, in particular, can impair a child’s ability to keep up in school.

That’s because an inability to see the blackboard or hear the teacher can keep a student from understanding what is being taught.

Distractions can also be caused by medical or dental problems, as well as learning disabilities.

In Santa Barbara County, children are screened for hearing, vision, and dental problems in kindergarten or first grade, and again in second, fifth, eighth, and tenth grade.

In order to identify potential health problems — including possible lead poisoning, the state requires preventative physicals for all first-graders.

If a teacher or school nurse notices a child is having a problem, a referral is made to the home.

In addition, tips from teachers can help school psychologists identify behavioral or learning problems, such as attention deficit disorder.

Nutrition and rest can also have a positive impact on children’s learning.

Research has shown that children who eat breakfast do better in school than those who do not.

Monitoring a child’s health, and paying attention to nutrition and rest, are important ways that parents can help children succeed in school. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Paying for college

Radio Commentaries

Many parents would like their children to attend college, but are concerned about the costs.

While paying for college can be a challenge, it is important to know that there are many opportunities for financial assistance.

The factors that influence the cost of a basic college education are the type of school (such as public or private, in-state or out-of-state), the time it takes your child to finish (the longer he or she stays, the more it will cost), and location.
Location affects the cost of housing, food and transportation.
Federal and state governments both offer help, along with private sources and foundations such as the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

Your child’s high school is the best single source of information about financial aid.

Here are tips that help reduce college costs:

  • Reduce the number of classes needed in college by taking Advanced Placement classes or courses at a community college.
  • Enroll in a community college and then transfer to a four-year school.
  • Participate in a partnership program that is formally linked to a college.
  • Take advantage of federal programs such as the HOPE Scholarship tax credit.

Remember the guiding principle: Where there is a will, there really is a way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Language skills

Radio Commentaries

Children with strong language skills tend to do better in school than those who are weak in that area. Language skills come in handy in a variety of ways, and they help with almost every other subject a student studies in school.

For this reason, it’s important to do all we can to help children strengthen these skills. Here are some ways you can help your child develop them:

  • Buy or make hand puppets. Then help your child put on a puppet show of a favorite story or make one up from scratch. The act of conveying a message helps strengthen language skills.
  • Talk as often as you can about familiar items in your home to help children learn that things have names. For example, mention the bed, chair, door, sink, and cabinet as you do work around the house.

If your child seems interested, try making labels to show that the names can be written down as words.

  • It also helps to limit TV viewing. Children who are watching television are not playing outside, thinking, being creative, or using language skills of their own.

When your children do watch TV, try to watch along with them. Talk about what you’ve just seen. Relate it to your child’s life and family setting. Use rich vocabulary at a level your child can understand.

All these activities can help strengthen language skills.