Archive for October, 2011
October 31st, 2011 by admin
Concerns about public schools are much in the news, in recent times. Politicians, business leaders, college admissions officials, and academic researchers, have much to say about the quality, or lack thereof, of teaching methods and subject matter. How can a concerned parent make sense of it all and judge whether their child is receiving a proper education?
In the middle of it all, ignored by many and supported by not nearly enough, are local Parent-Teacher Associations. Local PTAs can and should be a valuable resource for any parent with questions, concerns, or ideas about how their children should be taught and cared for by schools.
If you want to know how your school compares academically with local, state, and national standards, your local PTA can provide that information for you. If you have specific questions about how your child’s classroom operates, and what teaching resources your child’s teachers have available to them, your local PTA can help you obtain the answers you are looking for.
Your local PTA will be happy to provide informational materials, as well as offering you an ear for specific questions about curriculum and available services that you feel are not being addressed adequately by school administrators.
All local Parent-Teacher Associations have members that focus on parent concerns about teachers and/or classroom activities. Quite often, these concerns turn out to be based on misconceptions about classroom activities or one-sided reports from students to parents. If, after attempting to raise an issue with a teacher or administrator, a parent still feels the issue is not being properly dealt with, the local PTA can act as arbitrator or information collector in helping to find solutions.
If you think that you have ideas that would benefit your school’s ability to educate the kids in your community, the local PTA is a great place to bring your ideas for discussion. As a group, teachers are eager to hear any ideas you may have about helping them work better with your children. A local PTA gives you direct access to teachers ears, whether your ideas are about general teaching or specific issues with teaching your child.
This is, in fact, the major reasons that PTAs were created; to help teachers and parents work together in answering each other’s questions and addressing the education needs of students.
If you have even a few hours per month that you can devote to increasing the quality and responsiveness of your community’s schools, consider volunteering with the local PTA. I’ve heard other parents speak of Parent-Teacher Associations as if they are purely teacher’s advocacy organizations. That’s not the case. Teachers have unions for that sort of thing. PTAs are set up to foster connections between teachers and parents, to address issues of concern and improve the ability of both parents and teachers to help students achieve and grow.
As a parent, you have the opportunity and ability to get in there and be part of the solutions that help both teachers and other parents understand, improve, and grow in their ability to give students the best possible education. Don’t ignore your local PTA. Support it, join it, help it grow and be as effective as possible in this critical and difficult endeavor.
October 24th, 2011 by admin
“Kids say the darndest things,” as more than one television show has demonstrated to us. This is true when it comes to your kids and the babysitter, as well. Babysitter’s learn all kinds of things from the children they are caring for. Many times, parents would be quite embarrassed to learn what types of things have been passed on to the babysitter from their children.
- Family finances – The things that kids pass on about the families finances may not necessarily be accurate. Their perception of things is not necessarily in line with reality. Some kids tell their babysitters how terribly poor they are, while others may be telling them how rich they are. Either way, most babysitters know enough not to put too much stock into what is said in this area.
- Opinions of relatives – If parents have expressed strong feelings, especially, strong negative feelings about particular relatives, these opinions may get shared with the babysitter. It is always difficult to predict what might trigger these things in the minds of children.
- The latest fight – If the kids have witnessed an argument between the parents recently, it is likely to come to their mind during the parents absence. If it does, the babysitter may get the blow-by-blows of he-said, she-said.
- Opinions of neighbors – A glance through the window may remind your children of opinions that you have expressed about certain neighbors. They are likely to share them with the babysitter as a matter of identification of who lives where.
- Quotes regarding the babysitter - Parents need to be especially careful about comments made about their babysitters in front of the children. The kids are sure to relay the information to the babysitter the next time she is in the home. Make sure anything you say is something that you would be comfortable saying to the babysitter herself.
- Work complaints – If either parent complains at the dinner table about their boss or co-workers, these comments may come to mind as the children are ‘making conversation’ with their babysitter in the evening. Those comments may not be ones you would want relayed outside of your home.
- Home life details – There are many little things that go on in our homes that are a bit personal in nature. They aren’t things that we are necessarily hiding, but they aren’t things we normally talk about with others either. Why kids feel they need to share these things, we do not know, but they do.
- Personal habits – Bathroom habits, what is worn around the house, singing in the shower, goofing off in front of the kids, these little things can be a bit embarrassing when we hear our kids share them with others.
- Parent’s coverups – Sometimes parents tell kids things may not be the literal truth, such as why they no longer have a pet or why they didn’t buy cookies from the Girl Scouts. The kids, of course, trust their parents version of the story, but a babysitter may catch on to the fact that the dog didn’t really get asked to star in a Hollywood movie.
- Intimate details – Kids are bound to hear and see things that they don’t fully understand in regards to their parent’s relationship. Those little tidbits, that might never be spoken in front of the parents themselves, have a way of coming out of the children’s mouths, when chatting with people like the babysitter.
Even when you think kids are not paying any attention to what is going on around them, they are absorbing much more into their minds than you realize. They also have an uncanny ability to quote their parents verbatim on items the parents would just as soon they didn’t remember at all.
October 11th, 2011 by admin
As each generation comes along and technology changes, items that were once common become obsolete. Changes in fashion and customs have also relegated things from our childhood to memories and pictures. I recall asking my parents about what some strange device was originally used for and my children have done the same. Although we have many antiques around the house, there are still some things from my childhood even my kids will probably never see.
- Thigh-high stockings – When I was a young girl we were required to wear dresses to school and only allowed to wear pants on Fridays. You can imagine how impractical this was in the winter time, but we had long, thick, thigh-high stockings to keep our legs warm. We wore garter belts to hold them up that were very uncomfortable, so I’m glad those days are long gone.
- Breadbox – A common saying used to be “As big as a breadbox”, but that wouldn’t make sense to most people today. Since they’ve never seen one, my children would have no idea what size a breadbox is supposed to be. When I was a child most mothers made their own bread and kept it in a specially made box in the kitchen or pantry.
- Bamboo cane poles – I have fond memories of going fishing with my grandfather and siblings in a row boat. We always had to dig 100 earthworms for bait and used bamboo cane poles to catch a mess of sunfish. The modern “cane poles” are made out of fiberglass and telescope out instead of coming apart in sections like the ones I remember.
- Grinding wheel – Of course people still use grinding wheels, but the modern versions are powered by an electric motor. My father had one that consisted of a large stone wheel mounted on a stand with a bicycle seat and pedals to make the grinding stone spin. It was used to sharpen knives or grind things smooth and we used to play on it when we were children.
- Ice box – Modern refrigeration is taken for granted these days, but before that people kept things cold in an ice box. Big blocks of ice were harvested during the winter and kept in an ice house insulated with sawdust. People would put a chunk of ice in their ice box made of wood and lined with metal.
- Ringer washer – Most kids will never see a ringer washer like my mother used to use. Clothes were washed similar to how they are now in an automatic washing machine, but there wasn’t a spin cycle. Instead, clothes were run through two rollers mounted above the washtub to ring out the excess water. These rollers would be tough on buttons and zippers which would sometimes break.
- Washboards – I don’t remember her using them, but my mother also had many sizes of washboards. These were made out of corrugated metal with wooden frames and were what my grandmother used to wash clothes before washing machines were invented. If my children saw one today, I doubt they would know what they were.
- Flashbulbs and cubes – Cameras are now all made with built in flash, but I remember having to buy special flash bulbs or flash cubes for our cameras. The flash bulbs would work only once and were soon replaced by the cubes that rotated and flashed four times. If you didn’t keep plenty of these on hand, you couldn’t take any pictures after dark.
- Wooden spools – Sewing thread always used to come on wooden spools when I was a kid, and I remember my grandmother warning that they soon would be obsolete. She was right, and I don’t think my children have ever seen wooden spools because nobody ever bothered to save them. Thread is now sold with Styrofoam or plastic spools.
- Mimeograph – Thanks to Xerox, modern copiers have made the old mimeograph machines obsolete. When I was in school, they still used them to make copies of programs and handouts. The original to be copied was placed on a drum that went round and round. I remember the unique smell of the ink on freshly mimeographed papers.
Even though many things are now obsolete, there are some that have stayed relatively unchanged for ages. You still see people playing chess, checkers or cards, but these games have been computerized, so they may also fall by the wayside. As my children grow older I’m sure they’ll reminisce about the days before there were cell phones or internet. The good old days when people had home phones with long cords and TV’s were two feet thick instead of two inches.