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Maximizing your child’s learning with technology

  • Written by BPT

A practice that was once frowned upon, many schools are now encouraging students to bring their own tablets, smartphones and notebook computers into the classroom to improve student learning opportunities. With the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, many parents are wondering how they can ensure their child has the most appropriate technology to help them succeed. The upcoming holiday season is a great opportunity to find the right device for your child.

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Growing number of parents turn to police

  • Written by BPT

As more people become aware of the harmful consequences of cyber- bullying, parents are more likely to report cyberbullying incidents directly to their local police than local school officials.

That’s the finding of a new national survey of 642 American parents conducted by the Fraud Prevention and Investigations business unit of Thomson Reuters.

According to the survey, 36 percent of parents would turn to law enforcement first if they learned that their child was the victim of cyberbullying threats and attacks versus 29 percent of parents who said they would go to their local school officials.

One reason that parents may hesitate going to their local school officials is that 30 percent of parents surveyed didn’t know if their child’s school has a policy to address cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology, according to stopbullying.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Cyberbullying can take many forms – hurtful messages or embarrassing photos posted on social media sites, harassing text messages and e-mails, and private information purposefully shared through text messages, email or through the Internet.

The issue has become a priority for parents surveyed, of which 50 percent indicated that they are very concerned about the rise in cyber- bullying.

Today, more than 80 percent of teens use a cellphone regularly, making it the most common tool among cyber bullies, according to dosomething.org. The presence of teens on social media sites has only compounded the issue, blurring the lines between a schoolyard problem and a law enforcement concern.

In a related survey of U.S. law enforcement professionals conducted by Thomson Reuters in conjunction with PoliceOne.com, 48 percent of law enforcement agencies report that time spent investigating cyberbullying, bullying and school violence has dramatically increased over the past two years. Yet, most law enforcement agencies feel ill-equipped to effectively investigate these cases, with 76 percent reporting that training to handle cyber- bullying complaints has been insufficient.

While parents may trust law enforcement officials more than school officials with handling cyberbullying incidents involving their children, 68 percent of the law enforcement professionals surveyed said that they work to foster stronger relationships with school officials and/or principals to prevent or deter cyberbullying.

"Though cyber bullying is a challenging issue for students, parents, school officials and law enforcement, these statistics suggest that people want to work together to understand the issue, protect kids from cyberbullying, and help kids understand the serious consequences of participating in cyber- bullying," says Jason Thomas, manager of Innovation for Thomson Reuters.

Addressing Key Frustrations With Your Child

  • Written by Maren Stark Schmidt

"If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I in the pits?" The late Erma Bombeck knew how to see the humor in day-to-day reality.

Maintaining a positive and forward moving life is a challenge to say the least.  Life has a way of helping us misplace our sense of humor in a hurry. Some days the sailing is smooth with fluffy breezes, while on others we might have to restrain ourselves from self-inflicted baldness.

In our efforts to fix problems, we might be best served by stepping back and examining our frustrations. Instead of trying to affix blame by saying "that’s your fault’ or "that’s my fault," we need to understand why the problem occurred.  Let’s ask instead,  "What is causing this frustration?"

Consider what is going on at the moment you feel frustrated and jot it in a notebook. I used to keep a slip of paper in my pocket to capture those instances then transfer my annoyances to a notebook. These incidents included people being late for appointments, telephone interruptions, spilled foods, children squabbling, stopping an activity to prepare snacks, etc.  I’d record the day, time and event in my notebook and any other issues that I thought might be of value.  

Noting these rough spots helped me ascertain the true causes and effects later, as a pattern began to emerge.

After noting problems for a couple of weeks I was able to determine the design of most of my frustrations.  Looking at my notes I asked, "Are certain events more common at a certain time of day, on specific days or with predictable people or activities?"

When I am able to pick out common elements and themes, it becomes clear what needs to change. 

When my daughters were about three and four, one of my major frustrations was bedtime. Most nights the girls would go to bed without too many delays. 

Except for the nights that my children seemed to have had a cup of espresso for dinner. There were tears about the lights being turned off.  They needed a glass of water.  Or to go to the bathroom.  They were hungry. They wanted another story, another song, another prayer. They were too hot.  Too cold.  They couldn’t find their teddybear.  They heard a strange noise.  The neighbor’s light bothered them. One of them hit the other one.

On those nights I didn’t know what to do. Whatever I did, bedtime was anything but restful, and it felt like it was my fault. Surely, I was doing something wrong.

When I looked over my frustration notebook, I discerned a design. The nights that the girls were reluctant sleepers were the nights that their dad was out of town, back from a trip, had called to tell them goodnight, or arrived home for the evening 30 minutes before bedtime. Ah! Hah! My daughters’ nocturnal activities were directed toward trying to secure "daddy time." 

Once I saw the pattern, I was able to anticipate my daughters’ need for "daddy time" and work with my husband to coordinate phone calls and arrival times. On the nights my husband was out of town, the girls and I spent a few minutes drawing a picture for him, or I’d tell a special "daddy" story.

Looking in my notebook I found that my daughters’ disruptions weren’t their fault or my fault, or even my husband’s fault. I saw that if we couldn’t have a bowl of cherries, we could have at least have a "chair of bowlies."  We didn’t have to settle for the pits.

Next week: Leave It Ready For The Next Person

Kids Talk TM is a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt.  Ms. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale.  Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Visit MarenSchmidt.com.  Copyright 2013.

Maximizing your child’s learning with technology

  • Written by BPT

A practice that was once frowned upon, many schools are now encouraging students to bring their own tablets, smartphones and notebook computers into the classroom to improve student learning opportunities. With the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, many parents are wondering how they can ensure their child has the most appropriate technology to help them succeed. The upcoming holiday season is a great opportunity to find the right device for your child.

If your student has the opportunity to participate in a BYOD program this year, you may have questions about the program and how you can ensure your child is as successful as possible. Read on to learn more about BYOD and what you can do to support your child’s learning in the digital world.

• What is a BYOD program? BYOD’s core appeal is that it enables schools to have personalized, one-to-one learning programs with greater student engagement and accountability, while allowing students and parents the freedom to choose the device that best meets their child’s individual needs.

• What device should I get for my child? Unlike school clothes, if you choose to invest a little more in a device, you won’t have to replace it next fall. For example, a Notebook/convertible UltraBook or 2 in 1 device with an Intel core processor and Windows 8 operating system grows with students as their learning needs evolve - it’s an investment your child can benefit from for many years. A 2 in 1 device allows your child to switch between a tablet and laptop, depending on their needs for the school project at hand. These devices weigh less than 4 pounds, so they won’t overload your child’s backpack. They also have the battery strength to keep going strong until the final bell.

Your child might also enjoy a device that allows her to draw, write, highlight, annotate and more on her digital touchscreens in a natural manner. Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets come with a new generation of "pens," which engage students in learning and allow educators to maximize the versatility and benefits of the technology they’re already using.

Another device option is a Chromebook, which can provide your child with a full Internet browsing experience at a lower cost. Although Chromebooks are limited in the types of applications and software they can run, they allow students to do real time collaboration and share their work with the world on the Web. They also have the flexibility to be personalized by each student or teacher.

• How can I help my child succeed? Now that your child has the right device for learning, you can help them use the technology effectively by giving them access to high quality educational resources. For example, the National Tech Goes Home website offers guidance and support for your child’s studying, including free resources to help students learn and play safely online, and it has helpful information for parents.

• What if my school doesn’t have a BYOD program? Visit k12blueprint.com and find a free toolkit that will help your school establish a BYOD program. With careful planning, the incorporation of student-owned devices within classroom instruction can be a driving factor in your child’s engagement and achievement in learning. The right technology can ensure your child maximizes his or her learning potential in a BYOD program.

Can your child’s after-school program lead to a STEM career?

  • Written by BPT

It’s important for parents to assess after-school or summer camp programs with a critical eye, and consider how successfully a program combines learning with fun and basic care.

While many programs are effective at keeping kids safely occupied after school ends but before parents are done with work, not all emphasize educational material. Programs that stimulate a child’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects can be particularly valuable – possibly even inspiring an interest in a high-demand STEM career.

An after-school program with a STEM emphasis can fulfill both the need to educate children and inspire a lifelong love of STEM subjects, experts agree. Parents seeking a STEM program for their children should look for one that:

* Offers creative and engaging activities that are as fun and motivational as they are educational.

* Encourages curiosity and creativity, which are building blocks of independent thinking.

* Draws on the real-life expertise of people working in STEM fields. For example, engineers and architects designed Bricks 4 Kidz modules.

* Uses familiar, loved learning tools, like LEGO (R) bricks, to provide hands-on, interactive STEM lessons.

To find a Bricks 4 Kidz program in your area, visit the interactive map at www.bricks4kidz.com/locations. You can learn more about the programs and search for a location by state or ZIP code.