Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving thanks

Radio Commentary

There is an anonymous quote I’ve always liked. It says, “Without teachers there would be no other professions.”

The obvious meaning is that no one is born knowing a profession – someone had to teach practitioners what to do.
  
An equally important message imparted by the quote is that teaching itself is a profession. It requires just as much skill and training as any other career – maybe more so than many others.

As we celebrate this day of thanksgiving it is fitting to give thanks to the many unsung heroes and heroines in our midst, who make a difference every day in the lives of local children.

Teachers personify our society's belief that universal public education is key to meeting the challenges of a changing world.

They strive to make every classroom an exciting environment where productive and useful learning can take place and each student is encouraged to grow and develop.

Our teachers reach out to foster the well-being of each student, regardless of ability, background, race, ethnicity or religion. Teachers also motivate students to find new directions in life and reach high levels of achievement.

We are thankful for all they do, and for the support from parents, business leaders, and members of the community, that is so vital to their work. Thank you all. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Showing you care

Radio Commentary

During this holiday season, it’s appropriate to note that a parent’s love is the foundation of a child’s self-esteem.
  
And though you might feel it’s already understood, sometimes it’s important to say it out loud.
  
A child simply can’t hear those words too often, but they are especially important before a child leaves for school and before bed at night.

There are almost infinite variations on ways to say you care. Here are some common forms the message can take:

“You’re important to me.”

“You brighten my day.”

“You mean the world to me.”

“You’re really great.”

“You did that well.”

“What a good job you did.”

“You made my day.”

“You worked hard.  I’m proud of you.”

“That was spectacular. You really make me proud.”

“I think you are the greatest.”

A big hug counts, too. In fact, sometimes it’s a good idea to think up new ways to say and show you care.

If a child has a strong sense of self-worth, that’s more than half the battle for facing anything that can arise.

That strength is important both inside and outside the classroom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Preteens & friends

Radio Commentary

When children become preteens, their interest in friends and social activities often increases dramatically. Parents may then be faced with issues of trust and peer pressure.

Preteens may resist having parents check up on their outside activities. They may say, “I can’t believe you don’t trust me.”

One good response is, “I trust you, but I don’t like the situation you’re going to be in.” Or, “I trust YOU to stay away from trouble, but I can’t be sure your friends will.”

Preteens may think they can avoid peer pressure on their own, but they actually will appreciate having you help them.

If your child is going to a party, ask a lot of “what if” questions.

For example, say, “What if your friends dare you do to something that is against our family’s rules?” 

Many parents also report great success with “escape lines” that allow preteens to blame you when resisting pressure.

For example, a preteen offered alcohol can say, “No thanks. My dad always smells my breath when I come home.”

The bottom line is that parents of preteens must sometimes be willing to be unpopular. They don’t have to let preteens go somewhere or do something just because their friends’ parents allow it.

Parents must continue to set limits on behavior and be willing to say “no” when necessary. It’s important. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

How parents can help

Radio Commentary

Sparking a child’s curiosity can be key to lifelong learning. Parents can help.

Make up trivia games that you can all play regularly, even when you’re on the run. Give children a chance to experiment around the house with measuring, cooking, repairing broken items, and other activities that require finding and using information.

Also, be sure to know what’s going on at school. Attend school events. Your presence will show your children that you’re interested in their school life and value it.

Ask children for detailed descriptions of what they’re studying and doing at school.

You should also help children establish a sense of ethics. Have the courage to say NO when children’s interests are not acceptable.

As children get older, continue to uphold firm, clear limits. But gradually give them more chances to make choices and live with the consequences.

It is easier to set these standards in first and second grades than in preteen years. But there are also ways to encourage preteens to stick to standards of behavior.

Teach children of all ages to say “thank you” and write thank-you letters when appropriate. Tell them stories of justice. Teach them that there is a right and a wrong way to do things.

In these areas, parents are the most important teachers of all.

Friday, November 21, 2014

SIDS awareness

Radio Commentary

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known by the acronym SIDS, is a tragedy, and a mystery. Despite years of research, its exact causes remain unknown.

It is defined as the sudden death of an infant, younger than a year old, that can’t be explained after a thorough medical investigation.

In California, SIDS is the second-leading cause of death for children between 28 days and a year old. However, parents can take steps to reduce the risks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has these recommendations:

  • Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care. They also should avoid tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs both during pregnancy and after the birth.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in an infant’s presence.
  • When it’s time to sleep, lay your baby on his back, not his stomach, on a firm surface.
  • Share a room, but not a bed, with your infant, and keep all soft objects out of the baby’s sleeping area.

Don’t let your baby get overheated while sleeping.

Other effective steps include breastfeeding, if possible; getting all recommended immunizations for your baby; and having regular “well baby” check-ups.

We don’t yet have a way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but these steps have greatly decreased the number of deaths. If you have questions, ask your doctor for advice.