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The conversation on giving: What is your family passionate about?

  • Written by BPT

How many times has your child come home with news of a new penny drive or fundraiser happening at school or a place of worship? How often does this come with an explanation of who the cause or charity serves and how else your child can get involved?

Often, children are eager to get involved with these fundraising efforts because there are reward incentives at the end, but parents can take this opportunity to discuss with children the real value of supporting nonprofit organizations.

So what’s the best way to start this conversation with your kids? Find out what’s important to them. Everyone has a cause or charity that is close to their hearts.

For your kids, was it helping that lost kitten found in the backyard that sparked their philanthropic passions? Was it when they spent the weekend helping grandma plant a garden? Was it helping mom clean out their toys and taking them to kids who had nothing to play with?

Nonprofit organizations span across many different categories, such as arts, education, environment, animals, health and more. When children focus on things they find interesting, they’ll be more apt to stay with them.

Whatever it is they are passionate and motivated about, you can help them make a positive impact in the community through giving. It’s important to let kids know that even little contributions can make a big difference. Below are tips to help you get your child engaged in giving:

• Learn what they love. Have a conversation with your children and ask them what they care about. Learning about their passions can help to motivate them and also help you find more ways to get them involved, such as volunteering.

• Make it a family affair. Include your children in your decision-making process, too, so that they can start to see that there is a clear and thoughtful manner in which you make contributions to charity.

•  Acknowledge their good deed. Since children don’t get the tax deduction or other tangible benefits of giving that adults often receive, their reward is based on your words of encouragement and evidence of the impact they made. Let them know you’re proud of them and tell them exactly why, using specific examples.

• Make this an ongoing effort. There are many ways to get involved with a charity, so introduce children to other forms of donating besides monetary contributions, such as their time and talents. This can foster a lifelong joy of proactive giving.-

A good way to get involved this year is with Georgia Gives Day. Georgia Gives Day is a 24-hour, ‘flash-mob style’ statewide giving event that will take place on Dec. 6. With the trend of 24-hour flash mob giving growing across states like Colorado, Texas, Washington, Alabama and Pennsylvania, these “days of giving” have raised millions of dollars, all going straight to local community nonprofits.

Visit www.GAgivesday.org to search and select the nonprofit or cause of your choice, and make a donation via credit card. GAgivesday.org makes donating easy for the community by organizing nonprofits on one easily accessible online platform and providing key facts about these charities. Every penny counts when giving back to nonprofits.

Dual-enrollment programs jump-start students’ careers

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - In today’s globally competitive economy, a college degree is increasingly becoming a critical factor in attaining career success. Yet, as of October 2011, only 68 percent of the year’s high school graduates had enrolled in a college or university, even though the national unemployment rate of high school graduates is nearly twice as high as that of college graduates - 7.9 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Addressing the need for more college- and employment-ready high school graduates, many policymakers, educators and researchers promote dual-enrollment programs as an effective vehicle for building a workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a 21st century economy.

Dual-enrollment programs allow high school students to jump-start their postsecondary education and career by enrolling in college courses before they graduate, earning both high school and college credits in the process.

DeVry University, for example, launched its Advantage Academy in 2004 to improve college access for high school students with limited financial resources. In two academic years and one summer session, students can earn an associate degree in a high-growth career field while they finish high school.

Eligible high school students in the public school systems in Chicago, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio may enroll to earn their associate degree in health information technology, network system administration or Web graphic design. Graduates of the program can either enter the workforce or enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at DeVry University or another institution.

Dual-enrollment programs help meet a growing need for more academically and professionally prepared high school students, arming them with tools and resources that can improve their college and career decisions, says Steve Pappageorge, dean of the College of Continuing Education, New Programs and Outreach at DeVry University.

Programs like DeVry University’s Advantage Academy can help remove barriers to college access while introducing students to career opportunities in high-demand fields.

Triplets Simeon, Sydney and Shea Spivey can attest to the value of dual-enrollment programs. Each of the incoming high school seniors is deep in college planning mode and currently enrolled in Advantage Academy. Columbus City Schools (CCS) and DeVry University cover their tuition costs, so they can graduate from high school with two years of higher education to put toward four-year degree programs without incurring student debt.

“Advantage Academy has helped me become more familiar with the college experience and realize all of the benefits it offers,” says Simeon Spivey.“My siblings and I hope to attend colleges on the East Coast, and we feel more confident knowing we’ll be applying with associate degrees under our belts”

When they graduate in June 2013, the Spivey triplets will be two years ahead of their peers academically.

By 2018, approximately 63 percent of the 47 million U.S. jobs will require workers with some postsecondary education. Dual-enrollment programs provide high school students with an effective on-ramp to college and career success, helping to close the gap between students’ knowledge and the skills needed to achieve professional success in a globally competitive economy.

“Why Can’t My Child Do Simple Math?”

  • Written by AAA Tutoring
Does your child  struggle to remember multiplication or addition math facts no matter how many times they practice?

Do  little math word problems become a BIG problem?

Is keeping numbers in columns for addition or subtraction difficult?

Does he/she switch to addition while doing subtraction or vice versa?

Do they struggle to remember the order of steps in math exercises?

These are some of the symptoms of dyscalculia, a math learning disorder. If you think your child may have dyscalculia, they are not alone. It affects thousands of children, teens and adults, but it does not reflect their intelligence.  In fact, great minds like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Bill Gates all had dyscaclulia!

Researchers believe that dyscalculia involves weaknesses in the visual and processing portions of the brain.

Dyscalculia is similar to the dylexia that we are all familiar with except it is with numbers.

Discalculia can often be determined when there is a big difference between scores on math tests and the student’s abilities. Although dyscalculia is a math learning impediment, there are strategies listed below that can be used to help.

Keep numbers in columns by turning lined paper sideways so lines become vertical guides.

Circle mathematical signs such as + and -  before doing computation.

Draw visual aides to solve word problems.

Talk out loud (sub-vocalize) while doing math.

Create stories to create “memory hooks.”

There is now storybook curriculum that can teach children with this condition their multiplication facts in a few weeks.

You can request more information about this program at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

  • Written by Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool
• Respect your child’s appetite — or lack of one

• If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food.

In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety andfrustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask for more.

• Stick to the routine

Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. Provide juice or milk with the food and offer water between meals and snacks. Allowing your child to fill up on juice or milk throughout the day might decrease his or her appetite for meals.

• Be patient with new foods

Young children often touch or smell new foods and may even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again.

Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.

• Make it fun

Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce.

Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods.

• Recruit your child’s help

At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.

Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.

• Set a good example

If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.

• Be creative

Add chopped broccoli or green peppers to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups.

• Minimize distractions

Turn off the television and other electronic gadgets during meals. This will help your child focus on eating.

Keep in mind that television advertising might also encourage your child to desire sugary foods.

• Don’t offer dessert as a reward

Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child’s desire for sweets.

You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

• Don’t be a short-order cook

Preparing a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal might promote picky eating. Encourage your child to stay at the table for the designated mealtime — even if he or she doesn’t eat.

Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred. If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development, consult your child’s doctor.

In addition, consider recording the types and amounts of food your child eats for three days. The big picture might help ease your worries.

A food log can also help your child’s doctor determine any problems. In the meantime, remember that your child’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

First day of school = butterflies, excitement and enthusiasm

  • Written by Deborah Stone
P1050129
Kindergartener Evan Gaylord can’t wait for his first day at “big boy” school. Courtesy photo.
It’s not only kids that get butterflies in their stomach in anticipation of the first day of school.

Their parents do, too. And then let’s not forget about the teachers and administrators.

“I always have them,” says Heather Miller, principal of Timbercrest Jr. High, “and I’m going on my 28th year in education. I never sleep the night before school starts.” She adds, “The first day is the most important day of the year because it sets the tone, the expectations and the energy for the year. If it goes well, then the kids want to return.”

Miller loves seeing the kids and she thrives on their excitement as they reconnect with old friends and begin the process of forming new relationships.

She is looking forward to getting to know the incoming seventh graders and welcoming them to the junior high experience.

“My goal is to make them feel comfortable here and to help give them tools to be successful as students and citizens,” she adds.

Over at Leota Jr. High, Principal Obadiah Dunham notes that the first day of school never gets old.

He says, “It’s like the first Friday night football game of the year. You get the opportunity to see the fruition of all the off-season work and game planning.”

Dunham enjoys the energy and excitement that staff and students bring to the new school year and comments that everyone approaches a new year with renewed enthusiasm for learning. He also looks forward to meeting and getting to know the new students and families who will become part of the Leota learning community.

“It’s fun for me to see how much all of the students have grown up over the summer and hear their summer stories, as well as their hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year,” remarks Dunham. “I guess the beginning of the school year is akin to seeing the new flowers and plants in the spring.”

Although Heather Hiatt, WHS assistant principal, has been a teacher for 14 years and an administrator for two, she is always nervous to meet the students and get back into the routine of the school day.

“I’m sure that I will be extra nervous this year since it will be my first day at Woodinville and in the Northshore district,” she notes. “I’m looking forward to meeting all of the students and becoming part of the Woodinville High School community.

“I have heard that the Falcon football games are incredible demonstrations of school and community spirit, so I’m excited to wear my new gear and help cheer on our football team this fall season.”

For Hiatt, the best part of the first day of school is that it never ceases to remind her why she loves her job.

She adds, “I get inspired by the energy from the staff and students as we begin a new year together. For me, the first day represents a time to make new goals, have new experiences and form new relationships. I’m always excited to get this process started after a restful summer break.”

At Sunrise Elementary where Barbara Cordray has been managing the office for the past eight years, the first day is always very busy. “There’s so much going on, but it’s all very exciting for everyone,” she remarks. “Kids are coming back, parents are stopping in and of course, there are the new kindergarteners. It’s especially fun to see the little ones come through the door. Some of them are very ready to be here and it’s the parents that have a hard time letting go. Other times, it’s the opposite.” Bothell High’s office secretary, Debbie Ludlan, is a fourteen-year veteran at the school and even after all these years, she still doesn’t sleep the night before the first day of school. “I’m all pumped up with excitement,” she explains. “I can’t wait to see the kids.” She adds, “I’m looking forward to getting to know the new students, as well as the new staff. We have a lot of new teachers this year.”

Ludlan can’t picture herself being anywhere but at BHS. She is proud to be a part of such a wonderful school and views it as a unique community. She says, “It’s such a close knit group here. I think of it as my second family.”

Bear Creek Elementary Principal Gary Keeler likes the mix of new, fresh faces with familiar that greet him on the first day. “The smiles never fail to make me excited,” he comments, “and it reminds me how important this work is and how much I value all that we do at this school.”

Keeler is looking forward to helping the sixth graders maximize their opportunities to be leaders. He notes that it is their turn to leave their stamp on the school. He also can’t wait to reconnect with the parent group.

“We have such amazing support from our parents at Bear Creek,” he says. “This community is wonderful and so welcoming.”

One of Keeler’s teachers, Carla Squires, views the first day as a fresh start for everyone, both students and teachers. “There’s a beauty in this,” she explains. “Everyone gets this opportunity for change and a new beginning. The slate is wiped clean.”

Back-to-school dreams are common for Squires in the weeks leading up to the first day.

“The other night I dreamed I didn’t have the key to my new classroom,” says the longtime educator with a laugh.

Squires is teaching fourth grade for the first time this year after spending the past two-plus decades in K-3.

Her daughter, Sarah, will be a senior at WHS this fall and although she’s looking forward to seeing her fellow classmates again and sharing summer experiences, she’s not quite ready to give up her vacation.

“Getting up early will be difficult,” she admits.

Other seniors, like Melissa and Nicole Joseph, have mixed feelings about the start of school. “It’s weird to realize that this is our last first day of high school,” comments Melissa.

She adds, “It’s going to be a fun year, though, and I’m going to make the most of it.” As a cheerleader, Melissa is particularly looking forward to Falcon football games. She’s also excited about some of her classes.

The teen hopes to attend WSU and study education, as she aspires to be a teacher.

Her twin sister Nicole is doing a nursing program at Woodinville and will be involved in the school’s Link crew, as well as serve as vice president of the Honor Society.

“It’s going to be a great year, but it’s bittersweet, too,” she says.

The twins’ mother, Lisa Joseph, concurs with her daughters’ sentiments, adding, “I had one set of twins already go through this so I know what to expect and it really is an exciting year. But, it’s a bit sad for me because these are my last two kids and when they graduate, that’s it.”

Megan Legg, on the other hand, has a few years to go when it comes to her kids’ schooling. “I have three children,” she notes, “and each one is at a different school. Grace is a junior at Woodinville, Dominic is a seventh grader at Timbercrest and my youngest, Libby, will be starting second grade at East Ridge.”

These past few weeks, Legg has been running around trying to get everyone ready for the first day, which means buying school supplies and new clothes.

She looks forward to hearing all about her children’s teachers and who’s in their classes this year.

Libby, 7, admits to being slightly nervous about the start of school as she doesn’t yet know who her teacher is and if she’ll have any friends in her classroom. She can’t wait, however, to play on the playground.

Her sister Grace comments that the first day is always stressful because you have to find all your classes and get used to different teachers, but she is excited to connect with all the friends she hasn’t seen during the summer.

For Aidan Cowles, a ninth grader at Timbercrest, the first day marks his last year in junior high.

“It’ll be fun to be the big kid on campus and to be the leaders of the school, but I’m not looking forward to the loss of free time and all the homework,” he remarks.

Jack Unruh, 11, can relate to being a “big kid.” He’ll be a sixth grader at Frank Love, which marks his final year of elementary school. Although nervous about a new teacher and having a lot more homework to do, he is psyched about his new role as safety patrol captain.

“Only sixth graders can be captains,” he notes.

For Evan Gaylord, the first day of school is a monumental occasion for both him and his mother.

The five-year-old is just starting his education and is thrilled to be entering kindergarten at Hollywood Hill Elementary.

“He’s not nervous at all,” comments his mom, Allison Gaylord.

“He’s a very social child and he’s going to really thrive at ‘big boy’ school. I think I’ll be the one with butterflies and I know I’ll be the one shedding a few tears on the first day.”

Even Larry Francois, Northshore’s superintendent, hardly sleeps the night before the first day of school.

He’s starting his 12th year as an administrator and he notes that the start of school is still a combination of excitement, anticipation and anxiety.

“The school year has its own ‘bio-rhythm,’ so to speak,” he comments, “and I really enjoy that. I can’t imagine working in a field where every day and any time of the year is more or less the same.

“I find the ups and downs, starts and stops, periods of intense energy and exhaustion invigorating. As I do every year, I’ll start the first day helping out at one of our schools.

“There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement and anticipation on the part of kids, parents and staff as the new year begins. Even high schoolers are by and large excited on the first day, regardless of what they may say to the contrary!”

Francois looks forward to continuing the good work that he sees taking place across the district to help more kids achieve at higher levels.

He adds, “It may sound trite, but we’re doing great work with the curriculum renewal and a common instructional focus that I really believe is paying dividends now and will continue to do so into the future.”