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Parent Tip of the Week

12/04/2017 - 12/08/2017

Tell Them What You Know

Do give your gifted child the same information you have about her IQ and relative ability level.  If you don’t know how to do this or don’t feel comfortable, get professional help to prepare yourself. Children who are within a normal, average range can certainly handle that they “fit in” and are normal. Children who differ from the norm and who therefore experience many things in life differently for that reason need help to understand why. I believe the specifics can be shared by the time the child’s mental age is about 12. You can roughly estimate your child’s mental age by recalling when your child reached certain developmental milestones compared to those charts you had on preschool behavior. Toys have an age range on the box, for example. Did your child enjoy and do puzzles earlier than the box suggested? Don’t think you can simply compare your child to the children of friends. To do so can cause you to underestimate your child’s intellectual level. Remember, you and your friends are very likely within a similar intellectual range; that’s part of how you found each other. Just because your child isn’t ahead of your friend’s kids does not mean he’s not gifted! It’s possible, and likely, that they are both gifted.







11/27/2017 - 12/01/2017


Do demonstrate how to prioritize, schedule, and let go. Gifted individuals discover early that they have many interests and can get more done—wear more hats—than most other people.  Sometimes they get over-involved and can’t decide how to lower their stress and their commitments. Even gifted people need down time and processing time, so they must learn how to pick and choose carefully in order to allow the time necessary for emotional growth and self-discovery. Help them learn to recognize the difference between their own goals and someone else’s. Help them learn that some goals are necessary “hoops.”






11/13/2017 - 11/17/2017

Not An Example 

Don’t hold your child up as an example for siblings or other children to emulate, compete with, or follow. Each person is unique, and natural abilities often affect interests and goals as much—or more—than effort. Comparisons might make you child tone down his abilities so as not to feel freakish or disliked. Comparisons can put other children in an untenable, unfair position.






11/06/2017 - 11/10/2017 

Do Give Compliments 

Do give compliments to your child for his abilities and efforts. Gifted children need recognition for their abilities from people whose opinions matter most to them just as much as anyone else.  Try to be particularly aware of when your child really has put a great deal of effort or thought into something and needs encouragement or positive feedback. If the child has a talent area (art, music, games, anything), acknowledge it. Look for ways to help the child know himself.







10/30/2017 - 11/03/2017

Don’t Focus the Challenge 

Don’t focus the challenge on either your child’s strengths or weaknesses. Allow the child to really pursue her highest interests and abilities. Help the child recognize which skills and knowledge will be important for any normally functioning adult citizen. In other words, help her to recognize the necessary “hoops.” Then believe it yourself and let go of total perfection.  Remember, perfect grades probably mean good “reading of the teacher” more than the quality of the academic or intellectual learning that has taken place.

At the same time, there are virtually no career opportunities that allow a person to circumvent the need for clear writing, filling in forms (tax preparation, job applications), or doing simple math.  No excuses; these are examples of necessary “hoops.” Gifted children, however, just as with any other children, should be taught and accelerated at their own readiness level and pace. A gifted child does not need three to five years of elementary school to learn basic math facts. If that is what is happening to your child, it is not a necessary “hoop;” it is a waste of time and will lead to underachievement.







10/23/2017 - 10/27/2017

Don’t Over-Schedule 

Don’t over-schedule your gifted child; that is not the same as providing challenge. Give your child exposure to many different skills and activities that may uncover talent and passion in the child. Give your child the freedom and opportunity to make choices regarding clubs, activities, and extra-curriculars. Give your child enough down time to process, read for fun, vegetate, and let ideas simmer. Don’t judge the value of your child’s choices during the free and down times (except for safety and health issues).

Rather than tacking activities onto her long school day, consider giving your child regular school breaks for learning at her own pace and depth at home, especially during early elementary grades when she is reading at the 5th grade level while her classmates are working on beginning readers.  Some kids would quickly zoom ahead in math if only given the opportunity. Some schools will allow you to have your child tutored, usually at your own additional expense, on school property during the school day, but that is not common or completely comfortable to arrange. The home school laws available in most states also enable you to part-time home school. (You don’t have to make an endless, daily, all-the-time commitment to home school). You can decide which times of the school day are not contributing to your child’s intellectual or emotional growth and give your child challenging, meaningful experiences elsewhere during those times. You can get all the information you need to get you started on the Internet under “home school.” Ask questions on your own state’s gifted children organization’s parent listserves.




10/16/2017 - 10/20/2017

Provide A Challenge

Do provide intellectual challenge in and out of school. Gifted children learn to underachieve in the early grades.  Accomplishing what their classmates accomplish is often done with great speed, no effort, and no practice. Test anxiety, perfectionism, and fear of failure may all be associated with this early conditioning and lack of challenge in school. Give your child chances to be frustrated, to need to work hard and to take extra time to figure something out. Try to arrange this opportunity as often as possible in the school setting.

Sometimes, however, “in the school setting” is not a quickly available option. You might have to work around the schools when they are not prepared to be collaborative with you and your child except on their own terms. You can set up meaningful intellectual challenges during non-school times and during school times that significantly contribute to many facets of your child’s growth. 






10/09/2017 - 10/13/2017

Don’t Forget Who’s the Child and Who’s the Adult

Children need to feel they are safe and protected. An adult who assumes that a gifted child can make his own decisions about the best schooling or activities for him, just because he’s gifted, is giving too much power to the child. This undermines the child’s confidence in the adult. This puts too much of a burden on the young person. It also undermines the authority of the adult. It is curious to me that educators will often pose the question, “Has anyone asked Melanie what she wants to do?” when acceleration or other gifted options are being considered; but few would ask any children their opinions on regular schooling. These decisions are up to the adults who have experience, wisdom, and hindsight.









Seize teachable moments

You can help your child sharpen school skills as you go about your day. Say you drive by a windmill. Instead of saying “Hey, a windmill!” ask a question: “What do you think they do?” Encouraging observation of details will help your child do the same in class, says Rosales. And a trip to the store can be a chance to build vocabulary, math skills and money smarts. Tell a 2-year-old the names of fruits as you bag them. Ask a 3-year-old to find four cans of peas. Have a 5-year-old write down which cereal she wants. Older kids can compare prices and sizes, and sort coupons. Sarah Brown, a preschool teacher in Hollywood, MD, had her 2-year-old students paint with apples, bananas and then skinny carrots. When her students advanced to the 4-year-old group, the teacher noticed that they had better prewriting skills than the new students.

Whether your child is advanced or average, the best thing you can do is be involved. Taking her on this journey of self-discovery is what'll drive her personal genius. In one word: What do you most want your kid to be? Happy? Funny? Confident? Loved? We're betting “Valedictorian” didn't pop to mind. Your goal is to help your child be the best he or she can be, right? If you've read this far, you're both well on your way.







Celebrate Curiosity

Preschoolers very nearly glow with curiosity. But sometimes kids lose that as they get older, says Brenneman. Keep them excited by honing in on what interests them. If you ask questions about what they're playing with or talking about—“Yes, even if it's Pokémon, as it was with my son,” says Brenneman—you've initiated a give-and-take that will pay off in a smarter kid. Your child will ask questions and look for more good stuff to share in return. Take time to turn your kid on to what you're excited about: Check out a museum or watch an interesting show together, and tell your child what you like about it and why. Rich Braun, a dad of two in East Islip, NY, used to work weekends. So to be able to share his interests with his son, Erik, when he was in elementary school, he occasionally pulled him out of school to visit a museum. His teachers always agreed, since the next day he told the class what he had learned. “Erik felt like the expert for a day, which over the years boosted his confidence and eagerness to learn more,” says Braun.








Praise Results

Stick-to-itiveness is a quality that will endear your child to teachers—and employers. We as a culture are so busy making kids feel good that we've lost sight of the time it takes for them to actually become good, says Rhee. “My kids both play soccer, and both stink. But judging by the trophies and ribbons that line their room, you'd think I had the next Mia Hamms here,” she notes. It's hard to accept failure if you're constantly told you're the best. When these kids go to school and get a problem wrong, they think “It can't be me.” Giving the right props is key, says Stephanie Rosales, a licensed educational psychologist in La Quinta, CA: “Children who are praised for solving a problem tend to be more motivated in school than children who are told they're smart. The latter, ironically, often become frustrated when something doesn't come easily.” So instead of giving broad praise (“You're a star!”), give kudos for accomplishments (“I'm proud of how you found a different way to get the answer”). And if you're going to hold up a gold standard, make sure it's truly gold. Say “You're almost there. Keep trying.”







Read, Read, Read 

Research has repeatedly shown that access to books and one-on-one reading time is a predictor of school success. “Reading stimulates the brain to make connections and builds background knowledge about the world,” says Kim Davenport, chief program officer at Jumpstart, a national early-literacy organization. “Reading is the foundation of all learning and will enable a child to absorb and apply content from all areas, including math and science.” Modeling good reading habits may give him an edge. “Seeing his parents reading for enjoyment will be contagious,” says Davenport. Invite your child to cozy up on the couch with you to read. Keep books out—in baskets, on shelves, and on coffee tables. And share what you're reading with your child, and ask him to do the same. This will not only spark conversation but build his vocabulary and comprehension.






08/28/2017 - 09/01/2017

Talk, talk, talk

Ask your kid open-ended questions, like “What would happen if we stopped for ice cream on the way to the beach?” Such questions help a child reflect on what he knows and tell him his opinion matters. Don't worry if he's too young to understand. Likewise, don't be afraid to use relatively sophisticated words, notes Brenneman. He may not understand them, but he will figure it out if the words are used multiple times in context. John Shotter, a dad in Seaford, NY, makes it a top priority to talk to his son, Jack, 2, through daily activities. “We talk tools! I show him how the T-square, drill, measuring tape and hammer work.” The results are pretty impressive, reports Jack's mom, Melissa. “He honestly knows the name of every tool, as well as materials like Sheetrock, S packle, and drop cloth. He's also learning measuring, right and left from turning a screwdriver and colors from paint.”






08/21/2017 - 08/25/2017

Check out how these game-changing luminaries started out. Hey, you never know.

Albert Einstein

  • Developed the theory of relativity; the father of modern physics
  • He hated school.

Oprah Winfrey

  • Media magnate; philanthropist
  • Her grandma taught her to read at age 3, which started her famous love of books.

Mark Zuckerberg

  • Internet entrepreneur; Facebook founder
  • His dad taught him Atari BASIC programming in junior high.


  • Rap mogul; marketer
  • Unable to keep him from banging on the kitchen table, his mom got him a boom box.

Gloria Steinem

  • Journalist and social and political activist
  • She attended school only sporadically until the age of 11. 

Alexander Graham Bell

  • Scientist; innovator
  • After he built a wheat de-husker out of brushes and paddles at age 12, his friend's father gave him a small workshop.

Toni Morrison

  • Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner
  • Her dad told her folktales of the black community, which inspired her writings.








08/14/2017 - 08/18/2017

Parents: 9 Back to School Pro Tips

Back to school time can be a hectic time for both you and the kiddos. These are some of our best back to school tips to help ensure this school year gets off to a great start!

1. Visit the School
Walk or ride the route your child will take and make note of school patrols, crossing guards and high traffic areas along the way. Talk to your kids about NOT talking to strangers and find out what, if any, policies your child’s school has regarding early arrivals or late pick-ups. Learn about the school’s entrance and exit policies. Then, if you can, pop in and check out what the inside of the school looks like.

2. Introduce Yourself to the Child's Teacher
Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and ask him or her about the preferred method of communication. (Some teachers are active on email and social media, while others prefer the phone or in-person meetings.)

3.  Make Homework a Priority
Make homework time a daily habit. Find a quiet and consistent place at home where your child can complete his or her homework. If your child is having difficulty with his or her homework, make an appointment with the teacher sooner rather than later.

4.  Prepare a Study Area
Set up a special place at home to do school work and homework. Remove distractions. Make it clear that education is a top priority in your family: show interest and praise your child’s work.

5.  Take Charge of T.V. Time
Limit the time that you let your child watch TV, and when you do decide to do TV time, make it a family affair. Talk together about what you see and ask questions after the show ends.

6.  Get Everyone to Bed On Time
During the summer, children aren’t always on a schedule, which is understandable. But, proper rest is essential for a healthy and productive school year. Help your kids get back on track sleep-wise by having them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier at least a week in advance of when school actually starts.

7.  Make Healthy Meals
Let’s face it – no one can concentrate when they’re hungry. Studies show that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches do better in school.

8.  Get a Check Up
It’s a good idea to take your child in for a physical and an eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots and vaccines.

9. Plan to Read with Your Child Everyday
Make a plan to read with your child for 20 minutes every day. Your example reinforces the importance of literacy, and reading lets you and your child explore new worlds of fun and adventure together.











Teaching Children How to Spot Real News From Fake News

Kylie Peters, a librarian in the Chicago area, has been concerned about the rise of so-called “fake news”: deliberately false stories to appear factual, designed to sway public opinion.

Here are her tips for helping your children learn how to distinguish facts from fiction or propaganda online:

“Your first stop when you visit an unfamiliar website should be the ‘about’ page. Is the information there neutral? Why does this website exist? Who funds the site? Who owns it? Who runs it? What are that person or people’s goals? Are contributors paid? What is the submission process for content? All of these can be clues about both accuracy and biases.

“Scroll to the very bottom of the page and look at who owns the copyright. Is it an individual? A business? A smaller division of a large business? What makes this site qualified to provide accurate information on the topic the site covers?

“Does the website cite its sources? Are the sources reliable? Does it link to reliable sites?”

Peters encourages readers to get context clues from a site’s domain name — “sites that end in .gov are from the U.S. government, while .edu is an educational institution” — and reminds them to trust their guts. If a site looks unprofessional, it probably is.

“Look at graphic design. Your instincts are right on this one: Poor graphic design may be an indicator of low-quality material. The same goes for material with lots of grammar and spelling errors, exclamation points and capital letters.”

It gets trickier when it comes time to evaluate the content itself. Keep an eye out for this kind of language, Peters says:

“Watch for ‘bias words’ that indicate emotion, opinion or slant, or linguistic tricks to make things sound a certain way. Unbiased words will be neutral, and will make sense when used in both a positive and a negative sentence. For example:


“She was applauded for advocating a new immigration policy."



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“She was criticized for advocating a new immigration policy.”

“These both make sense, so in this case, ‘advocating’ is a neutral description.”

One of Peters’ most critical tips was related to location.

“Don’t use Google search rankings as an indicator of accuracy!” To drive the point home, she shared this example: “I just Googled ‘Martin Luther King Jr.’ and the fourth result was a white supremacist site. We don’t know Google’s algorithm for search results,” she says, and even if someone figured it out, the algorithm is constantly changing.

“The more a site is linked to by other sites, the more likely it is to be high on the results page. Your results may be affected by your location and by your previous searches. Sites portraying a subject positively tend to appear at the top of the page, and negatively, at the bottom.” Business considerations are at play, too: “Google owns a lot of products, and it pushes its own properties to the top of the search results.

“Website owners know you’re most likely to click one of the top five search results. There are a lot of tricks people will use to make their Google search rankings go up. For example, by artificially increasing the number of links to their site or by showing search engines different data from what they show human visitors. Google tries to catch spam and stop manipulation of its system, but it’s an ongoing war.”










Advocacy and Communication

Paired with effective parenting strategies, communication between home and school is critical to designing the most effective educational environment for each student.

• Offer information, anecdotes, work samples, and other communication that can give educators insights into the child. Students often do what is expected, “rising” to the low level of expectation in the classroom, so that teachers truly do not have the opportunity to see the capabilities of the child. Educators need all of the information they can get in order to best serve children.

• Be aware that “Bored” is a code word for many student reactions. Work with the teacher to equip the student with strategies that will build independence, will ensure mastery of requisite skills, and will process and discuss the characteristics of successful political leadership.) It provide opportunity for continuous progress.

• Work to build awareness that students learn to underachieve by working in an environment that is not challenging and that does not celebrate excellence. Emphasis must be on personal growth, change, improvement, and personal standards rather than a grade or generic comment, such as “Very good” of “Do your best.” Gifted students must be helped to internalize standards of excellence for various tasks in varied fields, as they will be working independently more often and earlier than their peers.

• Ask about curriculum decisions and pre-testing. How is the level of instruction determined? How are student groupings determined? How are student needs addressed when pre-testing indicates that content is already mastered? How is instruction matched to the learning styles and characteristics of students?

• Remember parent/child roles. A precocious child does not have the life experiences or wisdom to make the rules, yet may attempt to use strong verbal skills to argue or convince. Listen, but remain the adult.

Strength in Numbers

Seek out parent support groups and materials through the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education (KAGE), the National Association for Gifted Education (NAGC), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), local PTA or PTO, and any other group focused on the unique needs of gifted students. Parenting a gifted child is a wonderful, challenging process, and learning about the experiences of others may be helpful.








Tips for Nurturing Your Child's "Inner Storyteller"

By Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams ( http://www.dangerboy.com) is an author, playwright and journalist, and creator of the acclaimed young adult time travel series, Danger Boy.

Encourage "fun" reading, regardless of what gets assigned in class -- whether that means graphic novels, film adaptations, etc. Anything so that reading doesn't seem onerous. Once they have the "habit," they'll want to explore more (and more reading tends to lead to more writing!).

Have them explore the idea of "fan fic" -- short for "fan fiction" -- related to favorite series, characters, films, etc. These exist for game worlds (Halo, World of Warcraft), film franchises (Star Wars, Star Trek) and even other books (Harry Potter). Since their writing is to be shared -- posted online for free or read to friends -- they are free to play in anyone's sandbox they want to. A few quick online searches will provide plenty of "fan fic" sites for whatever world intrigues your own young bard.


Take them to hear/see a favorite author: More than ever, picture book, mid-grade and YA authors are appearing in local bookstores, book festivals, etc. Since your young reader can't drive, help get them there to hear a reading, shake a hand, ask some questions. If your school doesn't have authors showing up for the annual book fair, think of pitching in to help organize such a visit. You can go to the SCBWI website -- Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators -- for initial ideas (www.scbwi.org), or just Google one of your -- or your child's -- favorite authors and ask what it would take to have them appear. Most are pretty reasonable. Just a few days before writing this, a school in Tiburon (in my native Bay Area) found me and arranged for me to appear in just the same way.


Even absent an in-person visit, have them visit their favorite authors online. Most have websites, Myspace pages, etc. Most will answer friendly emails. This kind of contact can be invaluable.


Tell lots of stories to each other! 'Round the dinner table, on long drives, etc. Ask your child to re-tell whatever story they've just encountered on whatever screen has just mesmerized them -- whether at the cineplex, the TiVo box, or hooked to the Xbox 360!







Underachievement is the unanticipated difference between accomplishment and ability.  
Underachievement is a very complex situation with many possible interwoven causes. Among the areas to explore are:
  • social issues such as peer pressure;
  • psychological issues such as emotional sensitivities or perfectionism;
  • undiagnosed learning disabilities;
  • lack of interest in curriculum or curriculum is not challenging and engaging;
  • low teacher expectations, especially with twice-exceptional, minority, and students from low-income backgrounds.

What You Can Do

Talk to your child and her teacher. It is important to work with your child while simultaneously helping the school find appropriate options to provide supportive and stimulating learning opportunities. Answers to the following questions can point you to possible solutions.

Two Initial Questions to Answer

  1. Does your child believe he can do the work and has control over how well he does?
  2. Does your child see value in the work at school?

These are Some Other Questions to Keep in Mind.

  • How have your child's teachers dealt with the situation so far? Has any school intervention been more successful than any other?
  • Are negative stereotypes or social pressures encouraging your child to “not be smart”?
  • Are there particular areas or activities that your child really likes at school?  And what does he or she talk about when excited?
  • What does your child dislike and what is most difficult? In other words, does he or she like beginning a project, but does not like completing it?
  • Do you observe bored behavior at home and, if so, when?







Tips to Help Your Child Avoid Plagiarism

Studies show that children as young as five or six can understand that plagiarism is wrong. So your middle schooler or high schooler definitely knows that plagiarism isn’t a good idea. That said, she might not even know if she's doing it.

Different Ways Kids Plagiarize
There are many ways in which students might plagiarize, or take credit, for text and ideas that are not their own. Here are some common methods of plagiarizing that students employ:

Copying and pasting text

This is the most common form of plagiarism because most research is done on the Internet. Students include verbatim copies of other sources in their own paper. This may be intentional or unintentional.

Copying text with some alterations

Some students will copy a passage and then find synonyms for a few words. Even if the text does not match its source word for word, this is still plagiarism, and the student can get in major trouble.

Copying from several articles

Another common practice consists of copying text from various sources and assembling it together with a few of the student’s own sentences in between.

Forgetting to attribute

Even if a student rewrites an entire portion in her own words, if she does not indicate where the paraphrased idea came from, this is plagiarism.

Turning in prior work

Repurposing past papers and assignments, even if they are from different classes, is often considered plagiarism (unless the instructor has given express permission to do this).

There are still other forms of plagiarism. To learn more, check out a useful summary here.

Penalties Are Severe
Most high schools and colleges use sites like Turnitin or other detection programs to catch plagiarists, and the penalties are severe.

The least severe consequence is that your child will receive an “F” on that particular assignment. The worst is expulsion (often a consequence for repeat offenders) or suspension. Typically, schools and colleges take a hard line on plagiarism. It has legal consequences in the real world, and it is considered to be equivalent to theft. It is akin to cheating.

Steps to Stop Plagiarism
Here’s how you can help your child avoid plagiarism:

1. Show your child how to take notes while she does her research.

Encourage your child to take notes — either on the computer or in her notebook — on the information she plans to use. Have her create a list for each of her sources. If she composes notes electronically, she should print them out if possible.

Good notes are just that — they're notes, not long and dense paragraphs. Your child should jot down important facts, general concepts, and points to which she wants to return on each of her sheets. And she should put the page number or website next to or under that collection of facts so she can refer back to her source easily. If she found a great quotation she wants to use, she can list it in her notes, clearly designating it with quotation marks.

2. Teach your child how to cite sources.

Your child's teacher will probably provide a preferred style for citing sources. Two of the most common citation forms are MLA and APA. Students should be familiar with both because the method will vary by teacher.

Different citation styles can be complicated, so spend some time showing your child how to make a bibliography or works cited page. There are various tools you can explore together, such as Zotero and EndNote, which automatically generate citations after you input some information about your sources.

Understanding the basics of citation can be really helpful when things get more complicated with footnotes, endnotes, and works-consulted pages. You should also show her how to use quotations or citations to give credit.

3. Make your child put away her sources when she writes the first draft.

When your child starts the actual writing process, she should get in the habit of closing web pages and books.

Have her refer to her notes, which ideally are not written in complete sentences, but are more like bullet points or lists. While the notes may be written in the same order in which they were read, your child doesn't need to organize her paper or report in thate way. She should begin by summarizing the topic, and then address the points she finds salient. In this process, she should cite sources for the concepts she introduces.Above all, she should be writing in her own voice and style — not using an expert’s vocabulary or phrasing. Your child may use supporting quotations when necessary, but those can be woven in after she has decided on her own structure.Get your child in the habit of writing papers using her own words. An added benefit is that you'll be certain that she's actually understood all the research she’s done. This strategy also builds confident writers. She’ll know that she doesn't need to read someone else’s words as she writes her own. Just make sure she cites the sources!






Helping With Math Homework


The Most Important Tip for Math Homework

It’s important not to spend more than 10 to 20 minutes working through math homework that neither you nor your child knows how to do. Spending more time than this will probably just be frustrating for you and your child without providing much benefit.

Try the steps outlined below. If they don’t work, it may be better for your child to get more instruction from a teacher in order to complete the homework.

5 Things to Do When Helping With Math Homework

Here are things to keep in mind when helping your child with tricky math homework.

  1. Start by acknowledging that not understanding what to do can be stressful. You can also say something positive to acknowledge that your child is trying. For example: “I’m proud that you know what the homework is and brought home the proper materials.”
  2. Ask your child to show you an example. This could include a math problem he did in class or a sample math problem from a textbook that includes the answer.
  3. If your child can’t find an example problem, try typing one of the homework problems into an internet search. Your child’s worksheet, textbook or notebook might have a title or math term to search for online. Your search will bring up a list of websites designed to help with math. Try a few sites if the first one doesn’t help.
  4. Once you’ve found a sample problem either from your child or online, ask how the teacher said to do the problems. Having a completed example in front of him can help your child recall any instructions and class discussions.
  5. Use the sample problem to figure out the process to follow to solve the problem. Make notes of each step your child remembers as you work your way through the first problem together. This reminds your child that math is a process. The list you create also gives your child something to take to the teacher to show his efforts, even if he doesn’t come up with the right answer. The teacher can use the list to correct the process so that your child can solve the problem in the future.

3 Things to Avoid When Helping With Math Homework

Here are three things to avoid doing when your child asks for math homework help.


  1. Try not to begin by asking your child what the teacher said to do. If your child remembered that, he likely wouldn’t be asking for your help.
  2. Try not to contact the teacher right away. Kids with learning and attention issues might give up easily or get angry if they’re not sure what to do. But it’s important for them to try to think of ways to approach the situation before going to the teacher.
  3. Try not to write a note that just says your child didn’t understand the assignment. Give the teacher information about what your child has trouble with, such as adding fractions. This can help find the “missing piece” to solve math problems.





12/05//2016 - 12/09/2016

8 Tips to Boost Your Child's Working Memory

You can help your child improve this executive function by building some working memory boosters into his daily life.

1. Work on visualization skills.

Encourage your child to create a picture in his mind of what he’s just read or heard. For example, if you’ve told him to set the table for five people, ask him to come up with a mental picture of what the table should look like. Then have him draw that picture. As he gets better at visualizing, he can describe the image to you instead of needing to draw it.

2. Have your child teach you.

Being able to explain how to do something involves making sense of information and mentally filing it. If your child is learning a skill, like how to dribble a basketball, ask him to teach it to you. Teachers do something similar by pairing up students in class. This lets them start working with the information right away rather than waiting to be called on.

3. Suggest games that use visual memory.

There are lots of matching games that can help your child work on visual memory. You can also do things like give your child a magazine page and ask him to circle all instances of the word the or the letter a in one minute. You can also turn license plates into a game. Take turns reciting the letters and numbers on a license plate and then saying them backwards, too.

4. Play cards.

Simple card games like Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish and War can improve working memory in two ways. Your child has to keep the rules of the game in mind. But he also has to remember what cards he has and which ones other people have played.

5. Encourage active reading.

There’s a reason highlighters and sticky notes are so popular! Jotting down notes and underlining or highlighting text can help kids keep the information in mind long enough to answer questions about it. Talking out loud and asking questions about the reading material can also help with this. Active reading strategies can help with forming long-term memories too.

6. Chunk information into smaller bites.

Ever wonder why phone numbers and social security numbers have hyphens in them? Because it’s easier to remember a few small groups of numbers than it is to remember one long string of numbers. Keep this in mind when you need to give your child multi-step directions. Write them down or give them one at a time. You can also use graphic organizers to help break writing assignments into smaller pieces.

7. Make it multisensory.

Processing information in as many ways as possible can help with working memory and long-term memory. Write tasks down so your child can look at them. Say them out loud so your child can hear them. Toss a ball back and forth while you discuss the tasks your child needs to complete. Using multisensory strategies can help your child keep information in mind long enough to use it.

8. Help make connections.

Help your child form associations that connect the different details he’s trying to remember. Grab your child’s interest with fun mnemonics like Roy G. Biv. (Thinking about this name can help kids remember the order of the colors in the rainbow.) Finding ways to connect information helps with forming and retrieving long-term memory. It also helps with working memory, which is what we use to hold and compare new and old memories.

Memory-boosting tricks and games are just some of the ways to help your child with excecutive functioning issuses.





11/282016 - 12/02/2016

Some Children Under Some Conditions:
TV and the High Potential Kid
Robert Abelman


  1. Young gifted children spend significantly more hours in front of the television set than their same-age peers, but viewing does not necessarily warrant parental concern or dramatic time reductions or limitations.
  2. Parents are encouraged to make sure that the programming being watched matches their child’s capability to follow story line and plot development and is sufficiently challenging.
  3. Younger children should avoid program-length commercials.
  4. Pay-TV (cable, video rentals) currently provides the most reliable supply of quality educational, informational, and entertaining children’s programs.
  5. Primetime commercial television offers inadequate and inappropriate role models for gifted education.
  6. The most effective forms of parental mediation of television are purposeful program selection and co-viewing with a child.
  7. In accordance with the Children’s Television Act of 1990, parents can and should become involved in influencing the quality and quantity of local children’s programming.
  8. Television in the classroom has a place in gifted education.




11/14/2016 - 11/18/2016

Helping Your Child With Note-Taking Skills

Note-taking is a way for students to record information from a lecture or reading assignment. It should enable them to retrieve the information easily at a later time for study purposes.

Students are active listeners when taking notes because they are processing information into their own words. However, note-taking (especially from lectures) is a very difficult task for many students with learning disabilities. That's because it requires the integration of listening, comprehension, sequencing, eye-hand coordination, writing, and spelling skills. Many of these skills – individually or in combination – are the primary effects of having a learning disability. That's why students feel overwhelmed when they must take notes and, in some cases, why they develop a fear of note-taking.

It is important for you to stress the value of consistently taking and using notes with your child. Many students want to do the least amount of schoolwork in the shortest amount of time. They believe that as long as they understand a lecture or reading assignment, their memories will serve them and notes are not necessary. Sooner or later, this strategy is sure to fail.

It is easier for students to learn note-taking skills from written sources, for they can go back over the information several times without the time pressure that occurs when taking lecture notes.

Two-column note-taking method

Once students know how to recognize and formulate main ideas, they can learn to take notes that include important details. Encourage your child to learn to take notes using the two-column method described below.

Draw a line down a sheet of paper, with one-third of the page on the left and two-thirds of the page on the right. Write the main idea of each paragraph on the left side. List details on the right side of the page.

The two-column note-taking method visually separates information into main ideas and details. By placing the details to the right of the main ideas, students can easily see which details support which main ideas. In contrast, information in linear note-taking (such as outlining) exists as a stream of facts, with no visual way to distinguish main ideas from details.

A two-column note-taking format also makes it easier for students to use notes to prepare for a test. For example, you can ask your child to cover the details on the right side of the page with a sheet of paper, look at the main ideas in the left column, and turn them into study questions. This challenges the student to recall the details to answer the question. If necessary, he can lift the cover to review. Similarly, your child can cover the main ideas and use the details to recall them.

Some hints for effective note-taking follow:

  • Use as few words as possible – do not write out full sentences.
  • Use abbreviations.
  • Keep lots of space on the page as you take notes: skip lines between details and leave extra space to add information later.

Once students learn and master the mechanics of the two-column note-taking method by taking notes from written material, they can try taking notes from lectures. It is a difficult skill to learn, and you can help your child prepare by developing the sub-skills below.







10/24/2016 - 10/28/2016

Dealing with problems at school

Problems emerge, particularly with children that diverge from the normal needs or behavior...

This article makes some suggestions for the time when a problem emerges at the school you have chosen, and you need to deal with it.

Teachers and principals are often on the other side of the same issue - they may appear to be the problem - but generally are simultaneously looking for a solution. How do you maximise the chances of cooperation while at the same time be an effective advocate for fair treatment for your child?

Interestingly the focus for this article is on the primary or elementary stage of education. This is probably due to an amalgam of factors. By secondary school, students are more inclined to sort out their own problems, or to keep them to themselves rather than have their parents step in. Certainly any resolution involves the child much more than when they are younger. Another key difference is the logistical change from dealing principally with one teacher in primary school to a large number of different subject teachers in high school. This may also provide a comforting averaging tendency - a high school student will often find at least some of his or her teachers/classes tolerable.

Dealing with problems at school is more likely to be effective when working cooperatively, where this can be achieved, than fighting alone against the school. Working cooperatively clearly involves:

  • treating the other participants with respect and courtesy, and expecting the same in return
  • giving them the benefit of the doubt and the presumption that they are professionals in their fields
  • recognising that they have to respond to the individual needs of a number of other students as well as your own
  • being organised, professional and keeping to the issue at hand without provocation
  • being relatively open, and responding as clearly as possible to invitations to express your concerns.

In the current fiscal climate it would also mean recognising that educational resources are constrained and that educators have been expected to pick up a range of social responsibilities in addition to teaching academic subjects. Some of these background problems are more for politicians' ears.

The following lists of suggestions includes a number made during a discussion on the Oz-Gifted mailing list. They are for your consideration. They include some suggestions made after experiences of schools not responding cooperatively to a gifted child's needs. It is a question of balance. You need to expect and promote cooperation with the school in resolving a problem, while protecting yourself and your child from those cases where cooperation proves not possible.

Arrange and prepare for a meeting

  1. In the first instance, arrange a meeting to talk with the teacher. Although in some circumstances you will need to talk to the Principal, it is generally appropriate to talk to the teacher first. Not only is this normal courtesy, but this is the person who will be most affecting your child's learning environment and consequently the person with whom you will need to work.
  2. Although casual moments with the teacher while dropping off and picking up your child may seem easily available, they are fraught with interruption and distraction. Use them only to arrange a quieter time where both you and the teacher can give the problem full attention after due preparation.
  3. Talk through the problem fully with your child, at whatever level they can accommodate. Get the facts in full and make your judgement on the facts with your knowledge of your child. It is possible the real problem may be hidden a little under the apparent one.
  4. Try to establish clearly what the problem is so that you can articulate it to the teacher and the school both before and during the meeting.
  5. Think about it from the teacher's viewpoint and anticipate his or her response. Find a friend and practice. Get them to pretend to be the teacher (or principal). Then swap roles. This is important too. You pretend to be the teacher and your friend pretends to be you. If necessary use two chairs. Be one identity in one chair and one in the other. Don't worry about thinking up all the counterarguments - people remain too unpredictable for this to work. The important part is to build up empathy for the teacher's position.
  6. Arrange to take your partner with you as support, as a second pair of eyes and ears, and to take notes. As well as filling in any awkward holes in the conversation, they will provide you with a sounding board after the meeting. If the problem is not being easily resolved by discussion, or if your partner is not available and you feel you need support, then choose some other clear-thinking person to accompany you as note-taker and objective observer. Many teachers may find it daunting if you bring another person unannounced, so mention this in advance and the reason for it - the teacher may also wish to have a colleague present.
  7. Establish clearly with yourself what you want, what you will settle for, and what is your bottom line. It is not wise to make rash threats at the meeting if you haven't thought out in advance what the realistic options are. What are your options if they don't reach your bottom line? Will you go to the Principal, or if necessary the District Superintendent? Is there another school? Is home schooling an option? Or will you go away accepting the situation - and hopefully not regretting what you have said?
  8. Update your file and portfolio on your child in readiness. You are, of course, keeping a file of notes of previous meetings, or assessments, of other professionals' comments etc. And a dated portfolio of his or her work and achievements in all their diversity. Apart from having it on hand just in case and projecting an organised image, this will also remind you of other times when things were working out - and give you a goal to aim for!

At the meeting

  1. There are some basic negotiating lessons that are important here. One is to start off with positive statements about the teacher and what they have done, if you can. Get the other party to say or think "Yes" to something you say, even if it is only about the weather.
  2. Another is that the person who speaks first in the sense of "putting their argument" often loses. It is better to clearly present the problem, and wait with a positive expectation and demeanour, even if at first there is a negative response. Rather than jump in, either defensively or aggressively, answer only the questions that the other person asks and wait expectantly for their solution. Most people really do not like to say "no" outright and will often talk themselves into agreeing if you give them enough time and space. Obviously there may be good arguments to support your case but rational arguments do not often win people over, especially if they are defensive.
  3. If it does come to rational arguments, it is still good to be second and to demonstrate that you are seriously listening to them. Let them put their point across and listen carefully. Then say "Are you telling me...?" or "Do I understand that...?". Apart from the real possibility that you will learn something useful, once a person feels understood he or she is more likely to listen. When it gets to your turn to elaborate ensure they are actively listening by saying something like: "I need to know that you have understood my concerns. Can you tell me what you think I am concerned about most". Then keep up the clarification. This is called reflective listening.
  4. If you have managed to achieve active listening, and it would seem appropriate, offer the teacher some reading on the matter if you have it available. If it is short and readable, say so - teachers are as busy as, or more so than, the rest of us.
  5. Anger is powerful and dangerous. Try to control your emotions. Use it only if other approaches are getting nowhere. It may break through blockages, but it may lose goodwill and cooperation and create new barriers.
  6. Have everything on hand you think may be relevant to the issues you are discussing (including your files and your child's portfolio), but keep it in your bag till you need it. Sometimes having a lot of material in front of you can be distracting, even to yourself.
  7. Don't be afraid to say that a suggestion sounds like a good idea but that you would like a day to think about it. When you get home you may be able see pitfalls when you are more relaxed and less nervous or angry. In this case, write back something like: 
    "The suggestion is a good idea because.... but I can see the following problems... - how can these be addressed?"
  8. Always finish one meeting with an arrangement for another - "Can we meet again in … weeks to see how this is going? Let's set a date now." This puts the resolution of the issue on a professional footing, and gives a deadline for review - something that busy professionals seem to need.

After the meeting…

  1. If the school does not give you something in writing you should write a confirmation letter (and keep a copy) such as:
    "Thank you for taking the time to meet with …. and me on …. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the problem of … and the effort and ideas you suggested. As I understand we have agreed as follows: 

    1. As of … xxx will have...
    2. xxx will ...
    3. I will ... 
    4. We will meet again on …. to review …" 

  2. Consider the points the teacher made at the meeting, discuss these with the friend who accompanied you, and see if you think they had merit. If you have reasons or evidence to think they do not have merit, write to that effect, noting the useful points the teacher made, the fact that you have considered them, and that you think they are not justified for the following reasons… Offer to discuss these points further. Keep a copy of this letter.
  3. If after the discussion you feel that the problem has not been acknowledged, or that no agreement was reached on how to respond to the problem, then write and ask the teacher what he or she suggests as the way to resolve it. Suggest in the letter that, if he or she has no better alternative, you would like to discuss it with the Principal (and, if appropriate, the school counsellor). Keep a copy of this letter.
  4. Sit down and have a drink. Then play something silly and fun with your child. Give each of you a break, and remind yourself of how resilient children are.

The above is the lightly revised second part of an article by David Farmer published in the February 1999 issue of Gifted. It can be freely copied for non-commercial purposes provided its integrity is preserved and its web-address, and its author, and its publication in Gifted are appropriately attributed.




10/24/2016 - 10/28/2016

Creative Decision Making

When children have problems, they usually respond with some form of acting out or withdrawing. Most haven't yet learned many coping mechanisms. Instead, children need to become aware that they always have choices over their behaviors and attitudes when they face challenges. They need to learn that their choices can work for them or against them. They need to experience and see the connections between what they do and what happens to them. (Sounds obvious, but this axiom is not internalized in many.) It empowers a person/ child to know that they have choices! People who want to suicide basically feel that they have run out of choices..

Here are some more ideas to appeal to your children's sense of control:

Tell them what to expect. Then ask them to tell you what they expect to expect. They might have interpreted the situation quite differently. We not only need to assume responsibility to communicate what we want, need, etc. but we also need to assume responsibility to validate that our messages are received and understood. You already know that just because you tell somebody something doesn't mean that they hear or comprehend what you meant!

Allow lead time and give notice before an activity is to be started or terminated.

Give explanations and reasons for processes and jobs.

Separate parts of a situation and help them to distinguish between which they have control over and which they do not.

Teach and depend on shared control. Guide negotiation to a consensus on how the children will cooperate and assume shared control. You might need to define limits of possible choices. The consequences of each alternative need to be understood.

As a devotee of the Creative Problem Solving Institute, I want to offer you a basic outline to equip you and your family with creative decision-making. This is so important. As Michelle concluded, there is research evidence that quality of life, health, and success is more determined by how a person reacts to adversity, obstacles, etc, than the number of "hard knocks" he/she receives from life. How we encourage our children to respond to their frustration that ensues from wanting things to go their way now is essential education for Life!

Here is a process to consider:

  • Analyze the problem situation: What is involved? Find the facts. Compartmentalize and prioritize components of the problem rather than generalize awfulness. Analyze the dynamics and components of stress being experienced before you deal with it.
  • Appreciate and try to understand the involved people's different reasons, needs, emotions, meanings. Whose needs are not being met?
  • Examine the influences of your attitudes and behaviors.
  • Recognize the external components so that you can identify what behaviors and attitudes you can change and what you cannot change.
  • Define the problem: What would I like to be different? Who owns the problem?
  • Determine your current range of options, rather than react as a victim.
  • Be a solutions finder, rather than a fault finder! Move from thinking about it to doing something about it.
  • Consider choices to experience control of your life. Replacing thinking that you have to do something with thinking that you choose to do something.
  • Brainstorm alternatives: How might I make that happen? This is the fun part. Try to go for the 37th idea. The sillier, more absurd you can get, the more fertile the thinking!! It can make a good impression to have chart paper and everybody get into the act and write down suggestions. Cardinal rule of brainstorming is that no idea is criticized.
  • These can be little idea, small, attainable goals and big idea that need more chunking.
  • Appreciate a situation as one component of your life. It's not the end of the road!!
  • Evaluate consequences: How might this work for and against me? For and against others? PG children are good at this since they can abstract.
  • Allocate resources: What do I need to make this happen? Get your stuff!
  • AT LEAST READ THIS: Make a plan: What will I do by when? This is another "chunk it" part. For most projects, it usually is more convincing to start from the due date of a project and work backwards. How long will it take for each part - if this is a big project with a due date. If you start with now, it can feel like you have forever to get it done! Kids tell me that they need the adrenalin rush of time crunch!!
  • Do it!
  • Re-evaluate: What did I learn? How did it help? What might I try next time?





10/17/2016 - 10/21/2016


There is a continuum of definitions and values for being perfectionistic. Some are encouraging and inspire. Some are situation based, meaning that one person places more value on a project than does another. In our discussion, I'll focus on learning ways to help our Children counter the self-defeating aspects of inappropriate, unrealistic high expectations they impose on themselves that often result in refusing to participate and devastation. You fill in the rest..

  • Here are some ideas that you might offer a Child who is daunted by a project or activity: It is important to break the task, activity, project, etc. down into small, manageable, attainable chunks. Chunk it! Sense of failure often comes from inappropriate goal setting. Inch by inch, it's a cinch. Yard by yard it's hard. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you turn a battleship? One degree at a time. I learned this vividly during a presentation by Yo Yo Ma, when we were in Dayton OH, about 20 years ago. He was asked how much he had to practice the cello as a child. He responded that his father made him learn 2 measures a day- perfectly. For example, if your Child is starting to put together a model airplane, he could write down the steps and check them off. Possibly something like: 1- Identify all the pieces 2- arrange them in order of assembly 3- Then if there are directions, do them in order. If no order, create an order, one section of plane at a time, etc. If it is a more complicated science project, the first step could be to decide what you want to do. Then 2 - make a plan. 3- do the research 4- acquire materials, then so on; step by step. You can chime in on congratulations on each step.

    I know that it is hard for most of our Children to slow down in their mind and to break tasks down. In their mind, they see the intricate finished product and are impatient and frustrated if it does not soon turn out like their inner model. As adults, we somewhat go through this process mentally. Our children often only see us whip up the finished creation, although we have done a lot of internal figuring out what to do next.

    Convey courage: "I know you can try it!" Transformation comes by trials. Remind them of things they enjoy doing that formerly they couldn't do and didn't want to learn how - maybe to swim or ride a bike.

    Expect progress, not perfection: Remind your Child about the time she didn't know how to count to 100 or make change and how she kept trying and practicing and now it's easy!

    Acknowledge learning: Ask, "What did you learn while you were doing this?" "What might you try next time?" "How might you do it differently next time?"

    Applaud persistence: Remind children that heroes keep on working at something even when it's hard to do and when their efforts are not immediately rewarding. Have them read biographies of people who accomplished in their interest area or otherwise well known, like Edison. Often they are not aware of the long hard struggles that preceded famous accomplishments.

    Discover and honor meaning and enjoyment: "What were you thinking about while you decided which colors to use?"

    Honor time invested: "You gave a lot of your time to this. It must have been important to you."

    Many of us were raised on the mandate: "It doesn't matter how it turns out as long as you do your best." "It doesn't matter who wins as long as you did your best." If we think about what we impose on our Children when we really attempt to placate them is that we expect that their actions and their products reflect their very best possible!! Our Children might infer that we judge "the best" of them by their results. Instead, reward trying; "Do your best" can be damaging. Not everything is worth what it takes from us to do our best! Encourage Children to try a skill without being committed to high performance. This is another attitude we can model. You can be certain that your Child hears you proclaim, "Done is better than perfect." -I don't even think "finished" because what I do might be just enough to get by for now - So, you can say, "That will do for now." ...  Perhaps you can instill the intent of creating a "work in progress." Your Child can hear you proclaim, "That's good enough for what it's for." Or, "This is what I have the time to do now." Expect progress, not perfection!



10/10/2016 - 10/14/2016


Children are always motivated, but perhaps not for the same goals as we have for them! Their ideas of their needs and rewards may differ from yours and their teachers. It may be more interesting for them to fulfill their own interests.

Conveying Constructive Motivation

  • Express trust that the child will act intelligently and responsibly. Use anticipatory praise; expect positive behavior!
  • Respond to children's needs, not to their negative behavior. Needs may not be verbally expressed. Interpret their behaviors and bodily expressions.
  • Examine your own needs and expectations. Are you replaying a vestige of your own childhood? Do you need your child to make you look like a good parent?
  • Discuss your and your child's expectations to understand the reasons for each others' needs. Agree on expectations for yourself and for your child. Ask your child to state the expectancy or perhaps, confirm them in writing (behavioral contract). Jointly write down expected schedules.
  • Agree on the consequences of not complying and adhere to establish trust and security.
  • Explore many alternatives and choices. Allow choices within defined limits.
  • Avoid win-lose situations. Discuss advantages of cooperation.
  • Stimulate creativity and responsibility with asking, "What do you think might happen if you...? What else might you try? How might you feel then? Have the child explore, "In what ways will my decision help me and hurt me?"
  • Ask children to suggest ways that they would like to learn.
  • Relate the learning project to the child's interest, perhaps to all the things they want to be able to do and be when they are older.
  • Break the project down into intermediate steps and successes. Build in rewards.
  • Encourage children to express how they feel. Establish a complaint department to avoid explosive revolts.
  • Encourage honesty. Do not torment children with their truthfulness.
  • Facilitate finding a peer so that they can enjoy cooperative experiences.
  • Cut out criticism.
  • Punishment probably won't work.
  • Be a model of self management and responsibility.





9/26/2016 - 9/30/2016

Friendships - How To

We've seen that an essence of stress for our gifted children is feeling estranged. Many elementary age gifted children report that they feel different from their classmates and usually think that the problem is their fault. Our gifted children have fewer opportunities to experience understanding and empathy.

Who is a peer to a gifted child in what setting? We may be concerned that our Child does not have any real friends, however, friends may not be chronological peers.

Many influences complicate their chances for finding friends. They make up intricate game rules and create complex play. They may come across as bossy because they can see how to organize the play and they're creative and want to express their new ideas. Finding that one best friend can be an extremely disappointing search. Now, what you can do to help your children with friend making!!

Again - alter your expectations. Their need for many friends might not match your hopes of having a popular child.

For our gifted children to find good friends, they usually need to "go out of the box" of the immediate neighborhood or classroom. Because, in some ways, they are developmentally advanced from their age mates, they are sometimes required to tolerate unreasonable restrictions if the are trying to match their chronological ages.

A really important factor in developing satisfying social relationships for gifted children is that these children understand and accept that other children usually do not intend to be mean, rejecting, or uncaring, but they simply do not have the same reality that they do. Generally, I define giftedness as capacity of consciousness, the depth and breadth to which a person processes experience and information. A favorite analogy to describe the relative vast consciousness of gifted people is to relate them to a television set: Most people would get about five 7, some are wired for cable, and profoundly gifted people would have the consciousness of a satellite dish. They pick up signals and make connections that other people cannot even imagine exist. When our Children are hurt because they think that other people just don't care or interpret other people's indifference as an intended attack on them, the TV-satellite dish analogy can help them understand that it's not that other kids don't care, but that others just don't see and feel the same way.

Gifted children fare better if they appreciate different friends as components of a best friend. Let them know that you have different friends for your different interests and needs. You can proactively help find components of relationships. Search for friends by interest and activity match. One person can be their favorite for computer games, another to collaborate on science experiments. A neighbor may be great to join for sports.

As often as comfortable, recognize your Child's social sensitivity and skill, "Sammy seemed happy when you asked him if he wanted to have the first turn; no wonder he likes to come over and play." What we recognize - good or bad - becomes reinforced in some way.

Ask your child: What do you look for in a friend? How are you with these qualities? What are some things you might try to make friends?

Then you can write down your child's ideas and brainstorm plans that your child might be able to actually try some Ideas. Building a relationship around a somewhat structured activity can give a burgeoning relationship some buttressing.

Gifted children's minds are a place to try out new experiences. Mentally walk Children through experiences; review other possible behaviors and anticipate consequences. You can role play social situations. Let they "try out" how they might act when confronted with making a decision on what activity to select in play. Let them experience the impact of their own behaviors.

Participate in lessons or interest groups where there are no age or grade limitations can open peer possibilities. Look at classes at the science museum.

Mentors or tutors might help. Call the high school and ask if there is a student who shares your child's interest - chess, endangered species, rock and roll - however esoteric that might be now. The drive to get them together - and potentially for child care - might develop into a good match to allow your Child to experience a cooperative relationship. I've particularly heard about developing wonderful self confidence in relationships ensuing from a tutor in a special interest, although this tutor might be a generation older.

Surrogates isn't the term, but some supplements might strengthen a gifted children's peer relationships. Our adolescents can especially find acceptance and solace in their, music. One highly gifted adult told me that music was the first thing he could relate to. You've heard of music therapy and then there's art therapy. Some Children can connect to art or their own artistic expressions. Any creative self-expression helps our Children define and confirm their self and to a degree, facilitate being able to relate to others. How many gifted people grow up with their cat or dog as their confident? There's pet therapy too, especially useful to help children gain trust in themselves and others.

The Platinum Rule We want our Children to respect other people's differences and to have enough coping options to interact with all types of people. Our Children can learn much from participating in and observing various situations. Different experiences refine what they value, and give them ideas of what they want and don't want to be. Rather than applying the "Golden Rule," it is often more appropriate to consider the "Platinum Rule." That is, instead of treating other people as we would like to be treated, caringly try to understand and give what the other person wants and needs.



9/19/2016 - 9/23/2016

Control Characteristics of Gifted People

Based on research by Paul Janos and Nancy Robinson in The Gifted and Talented: A Developmental Perspective by Horowitz and O' Brien, Eds. Published by the American Psychological Association

Research consistently supports that gifted children of all ages exhibit these characteristics:

  • Self-sufficiency
  • Independence
  • Autonomy
  • Dominance
  • Individualism
  • Self-direction
  • Nonconformity

These are more for boys than for girls.

At all ages, gifted people express independence through:

  • Curiosity
  • Experimentation
  • Exploration
  • Risk-taking

For their GOALS, gifted people show more:

  • Persistence
  • Perseverance
  • Energy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Vigor
  • Striving
  • Sacrificing

These are stronger as the child gets older and are especially for successful men and women.

Intellectually gifted adolescent girls:

  • Seek novel experiences
  • Avoid routine
  • Enjoy challenging experiences, even more than boys.



9/12/2016 - 9/16/2016

 Being an Encouraging Listener:

  • Arrange private time together. Plan an appointment. A few intimate minutes a day is usually more meaningful than longer, less frequent periods.
  • Listen with your entire body, mind, and spirit as if nothing else at that moment matters as much as your child's thoughts and feelings. Listen as if your child has something important to give to you.
  • Create a sanctuary where you are a witness and a child receives affirmation. Listen to understand what a situation means to your child, rather than explain what it means to you.
  • Take your child seriously. Respond with: Slight head nods. Mmmm... Uh huh I see. Reflect essential bits of your child's thoughts and feelings. Repeat and paraphrase what you hear. Do not add you own ideas. Be careful to use the child's own words, rather than interpret.
  • Ask for clarification and amplification: "I'd like to know how you might have felt about that. - What were some of the ways you were feeling when he said that? - What are some of the things you are feeling now?"
  • Allow them to own their feelings. "I get it that you're furious with your brother." Restrain from expressing your advice, evaluations, theories, and your own experiences. It is important to focus your attention on gathering information, feelings, and understanding what they signify to your child. (Have I said this enough yet?)
  • Respond to their feelings: Affirm their feelings. Help them label their feelings. If a child can identify their feelings, they then can do something about what their feelings are telling them. "I'm in a bad mood." might mean feeling inadequate or embarrassed because a child has agreed to do more than he/she has time to do. You could then focus on prioritizing values and meaningful activities. Perhaps create a schedule. This is part of a process of making constructive decisions about choosing behaviors.
  • Accepting and understanding do not mean agreeing. Feeling something does not mean doing or being something.
  • Strive to give life to their ideas. Be aware of your positive to negative response ratio and the ways you give life and death to your child's thoughts. (I once went to a conference where an entire session was making the point that every time your child tells you something, you have the option to give life of death to his/her ideas. You could try to monitor your positive to negative response ratio. Just notice how often you respond with life giving enthusiasm or deadening omens.
  • Invest a few seconds in recognizing and appreciating each child as he/she leaves or arrives home



9/05/2016 - 9/09/2016

Identifying Giftedness in Young Children

Perhaps the most useful first piece of advice is to keep good, dated records of your child's development, not just of sitting and walking, but of the less glamorous stages too, such as grasping an object with finger and thumb, first using a two word sentence, and first turning of the pages of a book etc.

Children clearly progress at different rates in the various areas of development. A child may mature quickly in the area of gross motor skills but may be slower in his or her mastery of the cognitive milestones. Of course individual milestones are not, on their own, a good basis either for diagnosing giftedness or for concern. It is the overall pattern of development in the area, with due allowance for cultural and personality factors, that should form the basis of judgement. On this basis the adjacent tables showing normal developmental milestones, and those significantly advanced, may be useful.


Development milestones    
Normal Development
30% Advanced
Gross motor    
Rolls over
3 months
2.1 months
Sits alone
Stands alone well
Walks alone
Walks up stairs
Turns pages of book
Runs well
Jumps with both feet
Rides tricycle using pedals
Throws ball
Skips with alternate feet
Fine motor    
Plays with rattle
Holds object between finger and thumb
Scribbles spontaneously
Draws person with two body parts
Draws recognisable person with body
Draws person with neck, hands & clothes
Language development    
Vocalises two different sounds
Says first word
Responds to name
Babbles with intonation
Vocabulary of 4-6 words
Names an object
Vocabulary of 20 words
Combines several words spontaneously
Uses simple sentences
Uses personal pronouns


The above details were taken from Harrison (1995) pp 24 & 33, with Harrison attributing her information to Hall, EG & Skinner, N (1980) Somewhere to turn: strategies for parents of the gifted and talented children. New York: Teachers College Press.

It is in the cognitive and social areas of giftedness that some of these milestones are often more difficult to assess. In addition to language development, Milner-Davis (1996) suggests notice be taken of a child's

  • advanced knowledge
  • advanced thinking or reasoning
  • particular creativity
  • humour and joke telling
  • spontaneity
  • demands for independence
  • being competitive
  • persistence in completing tasks, and
  • advanced social maturity (such as in sharing, invitations, reminding others about rules, and role-playing).




8/29/2016 - 9/02/2016

The Gifted Child Is Called Many Things

Often parents are confused by the many terms used in referring to the gifted child. Many parents hear these terms used--sometimes adopting them in their own conversations--without knowing whether they are synonymous with "gifted" or are just words that help to explain the concept.

The term "genius" used to be widely employed but now it is reserved for reference only to the phenomenally gifted person.

"Talented" tends to be used when referring to a particular strength or ability of a person. Thought should be given to whether the talent is truly a gift or is, rather, an ability that has become a highly developed skill through practice. It is safe to say that generally the person identified as gifted is one who has multiple talents of a high order.

The terms "prodigy" and "precocious" are most commonly used when a child evidences a decidedly advanced degree of skill in a particular endeavor at a very early age, as well as a very disciplined type of motivation. It is interesting to note that the derivation of the words precocious or precocity comes from the ancient Greek word for "precooked" and connotes the idea of early ripening.

"Superior" is a comparative term. When a child is classified as "superior," we would like to know to whom, or what group, he or she is superior, and to what degree. A child may be markedly superior to the majority of children in a specific mental ability such as verbal comprehension and at the same time be equally inferior in spatial relations or memory. The looseness of the term limits its usage in most cases to broad generalization. A "high IQ" may be anything, depending on what it is higher than.

"Rapid learner" is a helpful term in understanding giftedness, because it is a distinct characteristic manifested by the identified gifted child.

The term "exceptional" is appropriate when referring to the gifted child as being different in the characteristics listed earlier.

At this point it is important to bring into focus a term that continues to be tossed around altogether too loosely in reference to education of the gifted. That term is "elitism."

By derivation, elite means the choice, or best, or superior part of a body or class of persons. However, time and an overemphasis on egalitarianism have imparted a negative connotation to the word, implying snobbishness, selectivity, and unfair special attention.

But in fact, gifted children are elite in the same way that anyone becomes a champion, a record-holder, a soloist, an inventor, or a leader in important realms of human endeavor. Therefore, their parents have a distinct responsibility to challenge those who cry "elitism" and explain to them the true meaning of the term.

The only reason for mentioning these terms--and there are many more--is to caution parents that semantics and language usage can be tricky and confusing. Thus, your personal understanding and application of the term gifted becomes doubly important.




8/22/2016 - 8/26/2016

Early Signs of Giftedness

Does your little one smile a lot? Is she extremely active and curious? You just might be raising
the next Einstein! Find out from the experts whether your child is exhibiting early signs of

Some early signs of giftedness include:
? Abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills
? Advanced progression through developmental milestones
? Curiosity
? Early and extensive language development
? Early recognition of caretakers (for example, smiling)
? Enjoyment and speed of learning
? Excellent sense of humor
? Extraordinary memory
? High activity level
? Intense reactions to noise, pain, or frustration
? Less need for sleep in infancy
? Long attention span
? Sensitivity and compassion
? Perfectionism
? Unusual alertness in infancy
? Vivid imagination (for example, imaginary companions)





Help Your Child Prepare for Back to School

When summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Buying notebooks and scoping out sales is the easy part. There are less tangible things you can do as well.

Here are 9 ways you can help your child -- and yourself -- get ready to go back to school.

1. Re-Establish School Routines

Use the last few weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. "Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning," suggests school psychologist Kelly Vaillancourt, MA, CAS. Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.

It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. That can be a challenge for working parents, says Vaillancourt, who is the director of government relations for the National Association of School Psychologists. But when the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJs after breakfast.

2. Nurture Independence

Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he's old enough to shoulder. This might include organizing his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework, says Nicole Pfleger, school counselor at Nickajack Elementary School in Smyrna, GA.

Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. "The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult," Pfleger says.

3. Create a Launch Pad

"Parents and teachers should do whatever they can to facilitate a child being responsible," says Pfleger, who was named School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association in 2012. At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.

4. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. "Even if it’s the kitchen table, it really helps if kids know that’s where they sit down and do homework, and that it happens at the same time every day," says Pfleger. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.

5. After-School Plans

School gets out before most working parents get home, so it's important to figure out where your children will go, or who will be at home, in the afternoons. You might find an after-school program through the school itself, a local YMCA, or a Boys and Girls Club. If possible, try to arrange your schedule so you can be there when your child gets home during those first few days of school. It may help your child adjust to the new schedule and teachers.

6. Make a Sick-Day Game Plan

Working parents also know the trials and tribulations of getting a call from the school nurse when they can’t get away from the office. "Most of our parents, because of the economy, are working," says Pfleger. Before school begins, line up a trusted babysitter or group of parents that can pinch hit for each other when children get sick. And make sure you know the school’s policy. You may have to sign forms ahead of time listing people who have your permission to pick up your child.

7. Attend Orientations to Meet and Greet

Schools typically hold orientation and information sessions before the start of each academic year. These are good opportunities for you to meet the key players: your child’s teachers, school counselors, the principle, and most importantly, front desk staff. "The secretaries know everything and are the first people children see when they arrive at school every day," says Vaillancourt.

8. Talk to the Teachers

Of course, teachers are the reason your child is there. When you talk to your child’s teachers, ask about their approach to homework. Some teachers assign homework so kids can practice new skills while others focus on the accuracy of the assignments they turn in. Ask for the dates of tests and large assignments so you can help your child plan accordingly. For instance, if you know a big test is coming up on Friday morning, you will know to keep things simple on Thursday evening.

9. Make it a Family Affair

Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. "The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it," says Vaillancourt.



5/16/16 - 5/20/16

Road Trip Boredom Busters

The family road trip can be a time to bond and learn about each other's interests and points of view — or an ordeal that makes you want to scream every time you hear "Are we there yet?" from your kids.

A road trip can be a fun, educational, and sane experience with just a little planning, creativity, and preparation. Sure, electronic games, apps, and portable DVD players are great distractions. But don't overlook these family-friendly games and activities that can keep everyone happy as the miles go by.

Can-Do Cards

Don't underestimate the power of a deck of cards. It presents endless possibilities for all ages and can provide hours of entertainment and concentration. If your kids are sick of the standard Go Fish, Crazy Eights, and Rummy games, buy — or borrow from your local library — a kids' card games book for new ideas. Or buy a deck of quiz or trivia cards to keep their brains busy.

Contest Craze

Hold an official family spelling bee or trivia contest using index cards to write down words or questions. Winners can earn trinkets, stickers, activity or coloring books, trading cards, food treats, money (the younger the child, the smaller the amount), or extra minutes of hotel pool time or stay-up-late time.

Good Ol' Games

Use the fallback road-trip games — 20 Questions, the License Plate Game, and I Spy.

Try the Alphabet Game. Pick a topic (for instance, animals) and a letter (A), then have everyone name animals that begin with that letter, like aardvark, antelope, ape. The best thing about this game is that kids can pick a topic of interest — cars, TV characters, countries, cities, foods, names, etc. — and there are 26 possibilities (one for each letter) for every topic.

Make the games into marathons, awarding special treats or trinkets to whoever wins each round. Then have lightning rounds or finals for extra-special awards.

Journal Jotting

Buy cheap but sturdy journals (or use plain notebooks or create your own from construction paper, hole puncher, and yarn) and have kids write down and describe what they see along the way. Have them collect something small (a stone, a seashell, a flower, etc.) or buy a super-small trinket from rest stops (buttons, stickers, postcards, etc.) to glue into their journal, describing each stop and each location or landmark they pass.

Bring along a stack of old magazines and have kids cut out and paste pictures into their journals to illustrate some of what they've seen (cows, fire trucks, palm trees, deer, cars, etc.). Give each kid a disposable camera to capture their own memories and keep the pictures in their personal road-trip journals.

Make It Magnetic

Stock up on a few super-cheap magnetic games (like tic-tac-toe, checkers, etc.) at the local dollar store or at gift shops along the way.

Map Quest

Bring a large map (or smaller map book that little hands can better handle) just for the kids. Have them use stickers and highlighters to mark each road you take on your journey.

Road Trip Box to the Rescue

Find a sturdy cardboard box or hat box (one for each child) and paint the top with chalkboard paint (black or green). Stock the box with tons of handy-dandy arts and crafts items and playthings: chalk, chalkboard eraser, washable markers, crayons, pocket-sized coloring books, colored pencils, scrap paper, mini dry erase board, dry erase marker and cloth eraser, construction paper, stickers, stencils, colored pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, tape, colored tape, mini pom-poms, child-safe scissors, hole puncher, yarn, and small dolls or action figures.

Tales Aplenty

Bring a few of your kids' favorite books — or those they've been wanting to read — both in the printed versions and audiobooks. You can listen to the story as the kids read along.

If you'd rather not spend the money, visit the library to check out copies of the books and music before you go. Or just bring the books and take turns reading the stories out loud (making sure to use your best character voices, of course).

Team Storytelling

Ask each family member to create a line for a story (e.g.,"There once was a boy name Hugh..."), then have everyone add a line until you're all stumped ("who lived in the town's biggest zoo" ... "he often had nothing to do" ... "so he decided to make an igloo" ... "with a big polar bear named Sue"...).

To make things really interesting, go as fast as you can, rhyme as much as possible, and take turns out of order (pointing to someone new each time). Write down the story as you go, then have kids create drawings to coordinate with your silly tale. When you're done, you'll have your own custom-made family story.

Window Gallery

Use washable window markers to make colorful creations that even passersby can enjoy, or to play endless, paper-free games like tic-tac-toe and hangman. Keep a cotton cloth or dust rag handy so kids can keep the window fun going throughout the trip — just make sure the driver's view isn't blocked!


Have kids write down various words they see as you drive along (from billboards, bumper stickers, roadside attractions and stores, license plates, signs, the sides of trucks, etc.). Ask them to write a story, poem, or song grouping all of the words they see together. Have them read, perform, or sing their creation for everyone when they're done.

A little creativity and planning can cut down on the fighting and fussing and leave fond family memories of your time together — on the road and off.

Long road trips are a great time to put kids' imaginations to the test to create puppets, masks, journals, and more.

Silence Is Golden

When all else fails, use the standby game "See Who Can Be the Quietest." After hours of singing and crafting, your little ones just might appreciate the challenge of not saying a peep. Make prizes worth their while, with incentives such as money (quarters, a dollar), gift-shop trinkets or games, and a few extra minutes at the hotel pool or staying up a few minutes longer that night.

Sing, Sing a Song

Bone up on sing-along songs. Or buy or make a playlist of "round" songs (like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Three Blind Mice," etc.) or sing-along/participation songs ("Old MacDonald," "B-I-N-G-O") that will get everyone — even the most tone-deaf — involved. Buy a kazoo or plastic harmonica for every family member for added accompaniment.

Tales Aplenty

Bring a few of your kids' favorite books — or those they've been wanting to read — both in the printed versions and audiobooks. You can listen to the story as the kids read along.

If you'd rather not spend the money, visit the library to check out copies of the books and music before you go. Or just bring the books and take turns reading the stories out loud (making sure to use your best character voices, of course).

Team Storytelling

Ask each family member to create a line for a story (e.g.,"There once was a boy name Hugh..."), then have everyone add a line until you're all stumped ("who lived in the town's biggest zoo" ... "he often had nothing to do" ... "so he decided to make an igloo" ... "with a big polar bear named Sue"...).

To make things really interesting, go as fast as you can, rhyme as much as possible, and take turns out of order (pointing to someone new each time). Write down the story as you go, then have kids create drawings to coordinate with your silly tale. When you're done, you'll have your own custom-made family story.

Window Gallery

Use washable window markers to make colorful creations that even passersby can enjoy, or to play endless, paper-free games like tic-tac-toe and hangman. Keep a cotton cloth or dust rag handy so kids can keep the window fun going throughout the trip — just make sure the driver's view isn't blocked!


Have kids write down various words they see as you drive along (from billboards, bumper stickers, roadside attractions and stores, license plates, signs, the sides of trucks, etc.). Ask them to write a story, poem, or song grouping all of the words they see together. Have them read, perform, or sing their creation for everyone when they're done.

A little creativity and planning can cut down on the fighting and fussing and leave fond family memories of your time together — on the road and off




5/09/16 - 5/13/16

How to Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests

Before the Test

Be prepared

Many teachers will send information home about testing schedules and class preparation plans. Information that you should know includes:

  • What is the test and what will it measure?
  • Will the test results affect your child, school, or both?
  • Are there ways that you can help your child prepare for the test? (Narang, 2008).

Help your child in areas that are difficult for her

If your child has struggled with a particular area or subject in the past, you may be able to help her overcome some of that difficulty by providing some extra practice. Many workbooks target test preparation by offering practice exercises and questions like the ones students see on the test. Focus your practice on your child's weaknesses rather than her strengths so that she doesn't get bored with the exercises (Narang, 2008).

Give your child a chance to practice

If your child has trouble taking tests, try practicing test questions and studying new words. Your child's school or the library may have some samples to use. Keep the sessions short, and set small, manageable goals so that the extra practice boosts your child's confidence (Narang, 2008).

If you have concerns about the test or testing situation, talk with your child's teacher

Discuss your concerns with the teacher and/or school administrator. If you're not satisfied with the outcome, however, you can reach out to some other organizations that monitor testing, including your local PTA, The National Center for Fair & Open Testing or the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation (Narang, 2008).

If you believe that your child's difficulty with standardized tests may be the symptom of a problem such as a language or learning difficulty, speak with your child's teacher to learn if your child qualifies for any assessment accommodations.

On Test Day

Make sure your child gets a good night's sleep and eats a healthy breakfast

Many teachers report that students who don't do well on tests haven't gotten enough sleep, and haven't eaten breakfast on the morning of the test. Doing both of these things will ensure that your child is working at full capacity (Narang, 2008).

Make sure your child is prepared

Some schools may supply the tools your child needs for the test, such as pencils, an eraser, paper, and a calculator. Others may require the students to bring those materials themselves. Check with your child's teacher to see if you need to provide your child with any of these materials. Also, check to see whether you child will be able to make up the test if she is sick on test day (Narang, 2008).

Remain positive

Staying calm will help your child stay calm. If she gets nervous about the test or is likely to experience anxiety during the test, help her practice some relaxation techniques that she can try once she's taking the test (Narang, 2008).

After the Test

What about the results?

Assessments vary from test to test, but the test scores should include information that helps you interpret the results. Talk with your child's teacher if you have any questions about the test results. You may also suggest that the school offer a testing information session to parents (Narang, 2008).

Review tests with your child

Help your child review any parts of the test that she did not understand (Narang, 2008).

On a Daily Basis

In addition to these strategies, there are a number of ways that you can maximize your child's learning capabilities throughout the school year, which can lead to confident test-taking. Some of these strategies include:

  • Assisting your child with homework and ensuring that your child is completing all homework assignments
  • Helping her to develop good study habits, thinking skills, and a positive attitude towards education from an early age
  • Ensuring that your child has good attendance at school
  • Staying in communication with your child's teacher
  • Encouraging your child to read as much as possible, and to increase her vocabulary - even reading magazines, newspapers, and comic books regularly will help improve her reading skills
  • Looking for educational games and programs that engage your child
  • Helping your child learn how to follow directions carefully (Dietel, 2008; IRA (2002); Narang, 2008).

Finally, remember that standardized tests and grading systems are not perfect; each format has its own limitations. As you help your child do her best on the tests she takes and in all of her schoolwork, also remind her that testing is just one part of her education. With your support and involvement, she will be well on her way to her own bright future.




5/02/16 - 5/06/16

Talking Politics: What to Say to Your Kids

When it comes to talking to your kids about political matters, you may think that your 8-year-old would rather be playing video games or that your 14-year-old would prefer texting friends — but you might be wrong.

KidsHealth.org asked more than 2,000 kids and teens throughout the U.S. what they thought about recent presidential elections and how they might affect them, if at all.

A whopping 75% of kids and 79% of teens answered "yes" when asked whether they thought that the outcome of an election would change their lives. Nearly half of teens surveyed said that they believed they'd had at least some influence on their parents' choice of candidate.

So, if you think your children are only interested in talking about kids' stuff, think again.

  • What's On Their Minds?

In every election season, we see signs, bumper stickers, and ads for political candidates everywhere. Turn on the TV or radio or surf online and there's an onslaught of messages on everything from health care, the economy, and jobs, to war abroad and climate change.

As parents, we can't expect our kids not to be influenced by this media blitz. In fact, most teens who took our election poll ranked talked-about issues — like gas and food prices, education, health care, war, and the environment — as "very important" to them.

Knowing what kids think about these issues and how they might affect your family is important. Talking about it not only helps to promote learning and develop critical thinking skills, but also lets you clear up misconceptions your kids may have or calm any fears about the future.

Talk About It

When discussing an election, talk about what you believe and why — and ask your kids what they think and feel. This shows that you value their opinions and want to hear what's on their minds.

If their opinions differ from yours, that's OK. Use it as a teaching opportunity: Why do they feel that way? Can they come up with examples to support their view? Engaging kids in this way helps them to develop their own opinions and express their ideas.

More tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep it positive. In the heat of an election season, strong feelings about tough issues can spark disagreements. Use the opportunity to show kids how to voice differences of opinion with respect, strength, and conviction. Say what you don't like about a candidate or his or her position and explain what you do like about your candidate of choice. Encourage your kids to do the same. Focus on the positive attributes of your candidate — talk about what you're for and your kids will too.
  • Be reassuring. Perhaps kids are worried by what the candidates and others are saying about the economy or the job market. They might fear the family losing the house or a parent losing a job. Listen to their concerns and provide reassurance and perspective. If you're facing financial troubles, be honest and then tell your kids (in an age-appropriate way) what you're doing to handle the problem.
  • Suggest they get involved. Many kids are quite interested in and concerned about current events. Taking action helps them feel empowered and effective, and builds problem-solving skills. Help kids think of what they can do. Talk about how small things can add up to make a big difference. If the environment is of particular concern, for example, maybe they'd like to find ways to help the family "go green" at home. Let your kids know that just like voting for a candidate can make a difference, so can working on an issue that you'd like to change.

Casting Your Vote

Talking with your kids about important issues, the electoral process, and why voting is important not only gives them a mini lesson on how government affects the world, but also shows that every person's opinion counts. Though they can't vote yet, they'll be able to someday, so it's important that they start becoming informed.

If possible, take your kids with you into the voting booth on Election Day to show them firsthand how the process works. Be a role model by setting a positive example that lets them know you value the right to vote. Show your kids the importance of voting — and they'll grow up knowing that every vote counts.




4/25/16 - 4/29/16

Academic Boosters Club (ABC)

As a disclaimer, I must admit that all these events occurred about three decades ago, so my memory may not be clear about all of them. What is clear is that the formation of a parent group for the gifted students in Aledo, Illinois had a profound emotional impact on me and my family.

My oldest child was in second grade when he was diagnosed gifted, and it came as a surprise to me. Everyone in my family was like this – able to pick ideas up quickly, using an advanced vocabulary, able to sing and play musical instruments, and, I must add, having a hot temper. While it took me a few months to really comprehend what this meant, I went to an educational conference in Iowa and heard Joan Smutny speak. Inspired, I went back to Illinois and began to question school officials about getting a gifted program into the school system. I learned quickly that one parent receives nods and is ushered out the door. I consulted with friends, and we decided to organize a parent group called the Academic Boosters Club. Our first venture was to create weekend enrichment programs for all children. It was thrilling. My children and I went rock-hunting with the science teacher, I taught a class in Logo for kindergartners, and there were many more classes. We scheduled these on two weekends in the spring. Then, as a group, we began asking the high school to allow students who were academically talented to receive the same letters as athletes, which they did. One of the parents was more diplomatic than I, and she convinced the schools to begin a pull-out program in fourth grade. They hired her to do it. The fifth graders were allowed to progress at their own rate, but couldn’t “bother” the teachers if they had problems on something that wasn’t being discussed. Luckily, my kids were very independent. We moved away in 1989, so I don’t know what happened to the group. If my experience helps anyone, I am grateful. The most important thing I learned was to form a group. Administrators will not listen to parents who come in one at a time, but they will listen to a group of parents whose children are not receiving the services they need to learn.




4/11/16 - 4/15/16

Raising Earth-Friendly Kids

Whether you're a diehard recycler who shops with canvas bags and keeps a compost bin in the corner of your backyard, or a busy parent looking for some quick tips on sorting glass from plastic, it's easy to get your family on the path to greener living.

But the best earth-friendly practices require the cooperation of everyone in the household. So, how do parents get kids to reduce, reuse, and recycle and embrace the other basics of environmental responsibility?

As with most good habits, the best way to teach them is to be a good role model yourself. By showing that you care about and respect the environment, your kids will do the same.

It's a Family Affair

Here are some suggestions you can try as a family:

  • Teach respect for the outdoors. This can start in your own backyard. Help kids plant a garden or tree. Set up bird feeders, a birdbath, and birdhouses. Kids can clean out and refill the bath daily, and clean up seed debris around feeders and restock them.

    On a larger scale, you can plan family vacations that focus on the great outdoors. Maybe a summer trip to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park appeals to your adventurous clan. Shorter trips might include a day at a state or national park. Even a couple days at the beach can offer plenty of opportunities for you to point out and discuss the plants and animals you see and why it's important to protect their habitats.

  • Recycle. Recycling is easy, and in some communities, mandatory. Check with your local recycling office and be sure you know all the rules. Some communities allow co-mingling — all recyclables can be placed in one container — while others require sorting into separate containers. You may need bins for each type of recyclable: one for plastic, one for glass, one for paper, and one for cans. Kids can sort (and rinse, if necessary) items, place them in the correct bins, and take the containers out to the curb for collection. After the bins have been emptied, ask your kids to rinse them out (if they're dirty) and bring them back into the house or garage.
  • Drink your own water. Bottled water is expensive and, experts say, not any cleaner or safer than tap water. In fact, much bottled water is actually tap water that has been filtered. The water that comes out of home spigots in the United States is extremely safe. Municipal water supplies are monitored constantly and the test results made public. And unless they're recycled, the plastic bottles — most commonly made from polyethylene terepthalate (PET), which is derived from crude oil — can end up in landfills. So have your kids tote water from the tap (you can add a filter to improve its taste) in reusable bottles.
  • Clean green. Many natural products can replace commercial — and possibly hazardous — cleaning preparations. Just a few examples: to deodorize carpets, sprinkle them with baking soda, wait 15 minutes and then vacuum; use vinegar and baking soda for everything from oven cleaning and drain clearing to stain removal and metal polishing. Lots of websites offer green cleaning tips, and many stores carry pre-made nontoxic cleaners for those who don't want to make their own.
  • Lend a hand. Many communities sponsor green activities, like pitching in to help clean up a local park or playground. Maybe the area around your child's school could use sprucing up.

Getting Kids to "Go Green"

In their own day-to-day activities, encourage kids to find ways to limit waste, cut down on electricity, avoid unnecessary purchases, and reuse items that they already have. Here's how:

  • Conserve energy. Remind kids to turn off lights when they're not in use, power down computers, turn off the TV when nobody's watching, and resist lingering in front of the refrigerator with the door open.
  • Hoof it. If kids can safely ride a bike or walk to school or to visit friends rather than catch a ride from parents, encourage it! Or if safety is a concern, consider organizing a "walking school bus" — this activity allows kids to walk or bike to and from school under the supervision of an adult.
  • Let there be (more) light. Older kids can help replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. Compact fluorescent light bulbs provide about the same light output as incandescent bulbs, but last much longer and use a fraction of the energy.
  • Reuse and recharge. Buy rechargeable batteries for your kids' electronics and toys and teach them how to care for and recharge them. This reduces garbage and keeps toxic metals, like mercury, out of landfills.
  • Pass it on. Ask kids to gather toys, books, clothes, and other goods that they no longer use or want for donation to local charities. Have them ride along for the drop-off so they can see how groups such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army use donations to help others.
  • These tips are just some ways to get your family to become more earth-friendly. Once you get everyone on board with conservation, challenge your kids to come up with new and interesting ways of going green.

Can your grade-schoolers cut back on the amount of paper they print from the Internet? How about your teens: Can they agree to take shorter showers?

Engaging your kids in this way will get them to start thinking about how their individual efforts affect the world they live in, and how little changes can — and will — make a difference.



3/28/16 - 4/01/16

Tips for Appealing a College ReJection Letter

Let me begin with this perhaps discouraging note: In general, you shouldn't challenge a rejection letter. Decisions are nearly always final, and you are most likely wasting your time and the time of the admissions folks if you appeal. Before you decide to appeal, be sure to read this article on legitimate reasons to appeal a rejection.

If you think you are going to appeal, these tips can help guide you in the process:

  • First, try to find out why you were rejected. This can be done with a polite phone call or email message to your admissions representative. When contacting the admissions office, a little humility can be helpful. Don't challenge the admissions decision or suggest that the school made the wrong decision. You are simply trying to learn about any weaknesses the college found in your application.
  • If you find you were rejected for something that hasn't changed--grades, SAT scores, lack of depth in extracurricular activities--thank the admissions officer for his or her time, and move on. An appeal isn't going to be appropriate or helpful.

If you decide to move forward with an appeal, keep these points in mind:

  • The admissions officers weren't wrong in their decision, even if you think they were. Suggesting they were wrong will simply make them defensive, make you appear arrogant, and hurt your cause.
  • If you are appealing because of an administrative error from your high school (grades reported incorrectly, a misdirected letter, miscalculated class rank, etc.), present the error in your letter, and accompany your letter with a letter from your high school counselor to legitimize your claim. Have your school send a new official transcript if appropriate.
  • If you have new information to share, make sure it is significant. If your SAT scores went up 10 points or your GPA climbed .04 points, don't bother appealing. If, on the other hand, you just had your best quarter ever in high school by far, or you got back SAT scores that were 120 points higher, this information is worth sharing. 
  • The same can be said for extracurricular activities and awards. A participation certificate for a spring soccer camp is not going to make the school reverse a rejection decision. Learning that you made the All-American team, however, is worth sharing. 
  • Always be polite and appreciative. Recognize that the admissions officers have a tough job, and that you realize how competitive the process is. At the same time, reaffirm your interest in the school and present your meaningful new information. 
  • An appeal letter need not be long. In fact, it is best to respect the busy schedules of the admissions folks and keep your letter brief and focused.
  • A physical letter is less likely to get dismissed or lost than an email message, so take the extra minute it takes to address and stamp an envelope.

Again, be realistic when approaching an appeal. You are unlikely to be successful, and in most cases an appeal is not appropriate. Many schools don't even consider appeals. In some cases, however, an appeal can succeed when your credentials have changed measurably, or a detrimental error in your academic record or application is corrected.



3/14/16 - 3/18/16

Tips From School Nurses on Keeping Kids Healthy

Most school nurses agree: The best way to keep students healthy during the school year is to make sure they wash their hands.

That simple tip matches the advice from experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others."

Hand Washing Is the Top Recommendation

A total of 271 school nurses responded to a KidsHealth in the Classroom survey in October and November 2013. When asked, "What do you think is the most important thing parents can do to help keep their children healthy during the school year?," 28% of the nurses said parents should make sure kids and teens wash their hands.

"Educate children on hand washing and how to cover their coughs and sneezes. We at the school cannot do all the education; it has to start at home," said a school nurse from Fayette, Alabama.

"Teach them how and when to wash their hands and to keep their fingers away from their eyes, nose, and mouth, and how to cover coughs and sneezes using their elbows," said a Bradford, Rhode Island, school nurse.

Here's what else school nurses suggested:

  • 18% said parents should encourage kids and teens to eat a nutritious diet.
  • 17% said parents should help kids and teens get enough sleep.
  • 11% said families need to stay up to date with all recommended immunizations, including flu shots.
  • 8% said parents have to keep students home when they're sick.

Keep Sick Students Home, School Nurses Say

When asked, "What's the biggest health problem at your school?," here's what the nurses said:

"I think the biggest health problems occur because there are parents who send their children to school knowing they are sick," said a Piermont, New York, school nurse.

A Newport Beach, California, school nurse agreed that the biggest problem is "Parents who send sick kids to school (even with a fever) because 'they have to take a test.'"

Many schools require that students stay home until at least 24 hours after a fever has broken naturally, without fever-reducing medicines.

When asked "What's the most important thing teachers can do to help keep students healthy during the school year?" even more school nurses recommended hand washing:

  • 73% said teachers should encourage proper hygiene and hand washing, and keep desks and classrooms clean
  • 12% said teachers should be role models to their students for healthy behaviors
  • 3% said teachers should send students home or to the nurse's office as soon as students say they feel sick or show signs of illness
  • 3% said teachers need to watch for signs of stress

About the School Nurses Surveyed

KidsHealth in the Classroom sent surveys to U.S. school nurses via newsletters. A total of 271 responded:

  • 88% from public schools
  • 8% from private schools
  • 4% from parochial schools

Among the respondents:

  • 49% serve K-5 or elementary schools
  • 14% serve multiple schools
  • 11% serve high schools
  • 10% serve K-12 schools
  • 8% serve K-8 schools
  • 8% serve middle or junior high schools



3/14/16 - 3/18/16

Sleep Problems in Teens

Most teens don't get enough sleep, usually because their schedules are overloaded or they spend too much time texting or chatting with friends until the wee hours of the morning. Other teens try to go to sleep early, but instead of getting much-needed rest, they lie awake for hours.

Over time, nights of missed sleep (whether they're caused by a sleep disorder or simply not scheduling enough time for the necessary ZZZs) can build into a sleep deficit (or sleep debt). Teens with a sleep deficit can't concentrate, study, or work effectively. They also can have emotional problems, like depression.

What Happens During Sleep?

As we sleep, our brains pass through five stages of sleep. Together, stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep make up a sleep cycle. One complete sleep cycle lasts about 90 to 100 minutes. So during an average night's sleep, a person will experience about four or five cycles of sleep.

Stages 1 and 2 are periods of light sleep from which a person can wake up easily:

  • During these stages, eye movements slow down and eventually stop, heart and breathing rates slow down, and body temperature decreases.

Stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep stages:

  • It's harder to wake someone up during these stages, and when awakened, a person often will feel groggy and confused for a few minutes.
  • Stages 3 and 4 are the most refreshing of the sleep stages — this is the type of sleep we crave when we're very tired. They're also the sleep stages during which the body releases hormones that contribute to growth and development.

The final stage of the sleep cycle is called REM sleep because of the rapid eye movements that occur:

  • During REM sleep, other physical changes take place — breathing is rapid, the heart beats faster, and the limb muscles don't move. This is the stage of sleep when we have our most vivid dreams.

What Prevents an Early Bedtime?

Research shows that teens need about 9 hours of sleep a night. So, a teen who needs to wake up for school at 6 a.m. would have to go to bed at 9 p.m. to reach the 9-hour mark. Studies have found that many teens have trouble falling asleep that early, though. It's not because they don't want to sleep. It's because their brains naturally work on later schedules and aren't ready for bed.

During adolescence, the body's circadian rhythm (an internal biological clock) is reset, telling a teen to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. This change in the circadian rhythm seems to be due to the fact that the brain hormone melatonin is produced later at night in teens than it is for kids and adults. So, teenagers have a harder time falling asleep.

Sometimes this delay in the sleep–wake cycle is so severe that it affects a teen's daily activities. In those cases it's called delayed sleep phase syndrome, also known as "night owl" syndrome. And if your sleep-deprived teen brings mobile devices into bed, surfing or texting late into the night, the light exposure could also disrupt circadian rhythm and make it harder to sleep.

Changes in the body clock aren't the only reason teens lose sleep, though. Read on to learn about some of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation.


Lots of us have insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep). The most common cause of insomnia is stress. But all sorts of things can lead to insomnia, including physical discomfort (the stuffy nose of a cold or the pain of a headache, for example), emotional troubles (like family problems or relationship difficulties), and even an uncomfortable sleeping environment (a room that's too hot, cold, bright, or noisy).

It's common for teenagers to have insomnia from time to time. But if insomnia lasts for a month or longer with no relief, doctors call it chronic. Chronic insomnia can be caused by a number of different problems, including medical conditions, mental-health problems, medication side effects, or substance abuse. Many teens with chronic insomnia can be helped by a doctor, therapist, or other counselor.

For some teens, worrying about the insomnia can make it worse. A brief period of insomnia can build into something longer lasting when a teen becomes anxious about not sleeping or worried about feeling tired the next day. Doctors call this psychophysiologic insomnia.


Teens with periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) or restless legs syndrome (RLS) find their sleep is disrupted by leg (or, less commonly, arm) movements, leaving them tired or irritable from lack of sleep.

In the case of PLMD, these movements are involuntary twitches or jerks: They're called involuntary because the person isn't consciously controlling them and is often unaware of the movement.

Teens with RLS actually feel physical sensations in their limbs, such as tingling, itching, cramping, or burning. The only way they can relieve these feelings is by moving their legs or arms to get rid of the discomfort.

Doctors can treat PLMD and RLS. For some teens, treating an iron deficiency can make the problem go away; others might need to take other types of medication.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder causes a person to stop breathing temporarily during sleep. One common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils or adenoids (tissues located in the passage that connects the nose and throat). Being overweight or obese also can put someone at risk for it.

Teens with obstructive sleep apnea might snore, have difficulty breathing, and even sweat heavily during sleep. Because it disrupts sleep, they may feel extremely sleepy or irritable during the day.

Treatment can help teens with sleep apnea, so any who have symptoms (such as loud snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness) should be checked by a doctor.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another common cause of sleep loss. With GERD, stomach acids move backward up into the esophagus, producing the uncomfortable, burning sensation known as heartburn.

GERD symptoms can be worse when a person is lying down. Even if someone doesn't notice the feelings of heartburn during sleep, the discomfort it causes can still interfere with the sleep cycle. Some people find they are better able to sleep by elevating their head on a few pillows or by taking medications.

If your teen suffers from GERD, it could be interfering with his or her sleep. Talk to a doctor about treatment options or lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet.


Most teens have nightmares on occasion. But frequent nightmares can disrupt sleep patterns by waking someone during the night.

The most common triggers for more frequent nightmares are emotional, such as stress or anxiety. Other things that can trigger them include certain medicines, and consuming drugs or alcohol. Sleep deprivation (getting too little sleep) also can lead to nightmares.

If nightmares are interfering with your teen's sleep, consider having him or her talk to a doctor, therapist, or other counselor.


Teens with narcolepsy are often very sleepy during the day and have sleep "attacks" that may make them suddenly fall asleep, lose muscle control, or see vivid dreamlike images while dozing off or waking up. Nighttime sleep may be disrupted, with frequent awakenings throughout the night.

Narcolepsy can be disturbing because teens fall asleep without warning, making it hazardous to do things like ride a bike or drive. A teens's school, work, or social life can be affected by the unusual sleep patterns.

Narcolepsy is not commonly diagnosed in teens, but many cases go unrecognized. People usually begin to have symptoms between the ages of 10 and 25, but might not be properly diagnosed until 10–15 years later. Doctors usually treat narcolepsy with medicines and lifestyle changes.


It's rare for teens to walk in their sleep; most sleepwalkers are kids. Sleepwalking, which may run in families, tends to happen most often when a person is sick, has a fever, is not getting enough sleep, or is feeling stress.

Because most sleepwalkers don't sleepwalk often, it's usually not a serious problem. Sleepwalkers tend to go back to bed on their own and don't usually remember sleepwalking. (Sleepwalking often happens during the deeper sleep that takes place during stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle.)

Sometimes, though, a sleepwalker will need help moving around obstacles and getting back to bed. It's also true that waking sleepwalkers can startle them (but it isn't harmful), so try to guide a sleepwalker back to bed gently.

How to Help

If your teen seems to be getting enough rest at night but is still feeling tired during the day, it's a good idea to visit the doctor. Excessive tiredness can be caused by all sorts of health problems, not just difficulties with sleep.

If a sleep problem is suspected, the doctor will evaluate your teen's overall health and sleep habits. In addition to doing a physical examination, the doctor will take a medical history by asking about any concerns and symptoms your teen has, and about his or her past health, your family's health, and any medications your teen is taking. The doctor may also do tests to find out whether any conditions — such as obstructive sleep apnea — might be interfering with sleep.

Treatment for sleep problems can vary. Some can be treated with medicines, while others can be helped with special techniques like light therapy (where someone sits in front of a lightbox for a certain amount of time each day) or other practices that can help reset a person's body clock.

Doctors often encourage teens who have sleep problems to make lifestyle changes — like turning off the cellphone or computer before bed, cutting down on caffeine, or avoiding violent video games or movies at night — to promote good sleeping habits.



3/07/16 - 3/11/16

Gifted Education

Many parents believe their children should be in their school's gifted program. But only about 4% of all U.S. K-12 students are considered academically gifted.

Gifted Students vs. Bright Students

Parents should understand that many bright, intelligent, and talented kids and teens might not qualify for gifted education.

So it can be helpful to know some of the general differences between bright students and gifted students. For instance:

  • Bright students may know the answers and enjoy school, but gifted students have advanced insight and enjoy learning in any setting.
  • Bright students may have good ideas and like the company of their peers, but gifted students might have wild, highly imaginative ideas and may prefer the company of older children or adults.
  • Bright learners may be good memorizers and learn in a linear, sequential way, but gifted learners have a deep fund of knowledge and thrive on complex learning challenges.
  • Bright students may easily absorb information and be pleased with what they learn, but gifted students use information they learn to gain even more knowledge and always want to learn more.

Programs Vary by State

To help ensure that schools and teachers meet gifted children's educational needs, parents should learn their state's policies or guidelines on identifying and providing services for gifted students. Your school principal or other administrator can provide information specific to your child's school.

While federal laws mandate educational modifications for students with learning disabilities, there is no federal requirement for gifted education. Similarly, some states do not have requirements or funding for gifted students.

The federal government does, however, have a definition for gifted students in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Gifted and talented students are those "who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities." Many states have based their own definitions of gifted students on that federal description.

Programs go by many different names, including gifted and talented education (GATE), talented and gifted (TAG), and academically gifted or talented.


Screening for gifted education can be requested by parents or guardians, teachers, or school administrators when students demonstrate they are capable of advanced academic achievement. Schools usually require written requests.

Identifying gifted kids can be done through many types of tests. Some schools screen entire grades of students in early elementary years, while others may use a partial or full-scale IQ test or other aptitude or achievement tests on an individual basis if students appear to be achieving above their grade level.

Initial screenings may include:

  • partial IQ tests
  • achievement test reviews
  • questionnaires completed by teachers and parents or guardians
  • classwork reviews

If initial screenings indicate potential giftedness, then a psychologist administers a full-scale IQ test or other aptitude evaluation.

If initial screening does not indicate potential giftedness, parents can appeal the decision and request further testing, or even pay for private testing themselves. Parents who pay for their own testing should make sure to find out if the results will be accepted by school officials. In many schools, students who are not deemed gifted by initial or full screenings can be re-evaluated after a year.

Some schools consider a student with an IQ score of 130 or more to be gifted. Other schools require students to meet multiple criteria.

Gifted Student Service Plans (GSSPs)

If a student meets his or her school's criteria for gifted education, goals are created for that student in what is usually called a gifted students service plan (GSSP).

Many states require that parents or guardians, teachers, and administrative staff meet to develop an instruction plan that covers:

  • goals based on academic strengths
  • how instruction will be modified
  • how progress will be monitored
  • educational outcomes (expected grades or performance)

In many states, GSSPs may call for parents or guardians, teachers, and administrative staff to meet annually to review progress and possibly revise the plan.

Each GSSP is customized to each child's individual abilities, because gifted students can vary greatly in their strengths. For example, some may be gifted in math, but not in language arts, while others may have strengths in multiple subjects.

GSSPs may include long-term and short-term goals that can include accelerated curriculum or instruction above the student's grade level.

In states that do not require meetings and instruction plans, gifted students are usually given opportunities to work on enrichment projects or above-grade-level assignments outside the classroom, usually with gifted peers. Progress is monitored on through regular report cards.

In some schools, special teachers are responsible for implementing and monitoring the education of gifted students in small groups or one-on-one sessions. In other schools, the regular classroom teacher is the main instructor and confers with students' gifted case managers, gifted consulting teachers, or other school staff to create projects that enrich or extend learning.

In middle and high school, gifted students' goals may be met through higher-level courses or Advanced Placement (AP) or honors courses. Some gifted students can meet their individualized education goals by advancing multiple grade levels in specific subject areas.

While all students need to be monitored academically, GSSPs and similar education plans call for customized monitoring to help ensure that gifted students reach their learning potentials.




2/29/16 - 3/04/16


Bullies and mean girls have been around forever, but technology now gives them a whole new platform for their actions. The old "sticks and stones" saying is no longer true — both real-world and online name-calling can have serious emotional consequences for our kids and teens.

It's not always easy to know how and when to step in as a parent. For starters, most kids use technology differently than we do. They're playing games online and sending texts on their phones at an early age, and most teens have devices that keep them constantly connected to the Internet. Many are logged on to Facebook or Tumblr and chatting or texting all day. Even sending email or leaving a voicemail can seem old-school to them. Their knowledge of the digital world can be intimidating to parents.

But staying involved in kids' cyber world, just as in their real world, can help parents protect them from its dangers. As awareness of cyberbullying has grown, parents have learned more about how to deal with it. Here are some suggestions on what to do if this modern type of bullying has become part of your child's life.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. By definition, it occurs among young people. When an adult is involved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, a crime that can have legal consequences and involve jail time.

Sometimes cyberbullying can be easy to spot — for example, if your child shows you a text, tweet, or response to a status update on Facebook that is harsh, mean, or cruel. Other acts are less obvious, like impersonating a victim online or posting personal information, photos, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass another person. Some kids report that a fake account, webpage, or online persona has been created with the sole intention to harass and bully.

Cyberbullying also can happen accidentally. The impersonal nature of text messages, IMs, and emails make it very hard to detect the sender's tone — one person's joke could be another's hurtful insult. Nevertheless, a repeated pattern of emails, texts, and online posts is rarely accidental.

Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it's impossible to know just how many are affected. But recent studies about cyberbullying rates have found that about 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying, and about 1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone. In some studies, more than half of the teens surveyed said that they've experienced abuse through social and digital media.

Effects of Cyberbullying

No longer limited to schoolyards or street corners, modern-day bullying can happen at home as well as at school — essentially 24 hours a day. Picked-on kids can feel like they're getting blasted nonstop and that there is no escape. As long as kids have access to a phone, computer, or other device (including tablets), they are at risk.

Severe, long-term, or frequent cyberbullying can leave both victims and bullies at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but highly publicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide. Experts say that kids who are bullied — and the bullies themselves — are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides.

The punishment for cyberbullies can include being suspended from school or kicked off of sports teams. Certain types of cyberbullying can be considered crimes.

Signs of Cyberbullying

Many kids and teens who are cyberbullied don't want to tell a teacher or parent, often because they feel ashamed of the social stigma or fear that their computer privileges will be taken away at home.

Signs of cyberbullying vary, but may include:

  • being emotionally upset during or after using the Internet or the phone
  • being very secretive or protective of one's digital life
  • withdrawal from family members, friends, and activities
  • avoiding school or group gatherings
  • slipping grades and "acting out" in anger at home
  • changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
  • wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
  • being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
  • avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities

How Parents Can Help

If you discover that your child is being cyberbullied, offer comfort and support. Talking about any bullying experiences you had in your childhood might help your child feel less alone.

Let your child know that it's not his or her fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn't alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.

Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation.Many schools, school districts, and after-school clubs have protocols for responding to cyberbullying; these vary by district and state. But before reporting the problem, let your child know that you plan to do so, so that you can work out a plan that makes you both feel comfortable.

Encourage your child not to respond to cyberbullying, because doing so just fuels the fire and makes the situation worse. But do keep the threatening messages, pictures, and texts, as these can be used as evidence with the bully's parents, school, employer, or even the police. You may want to take, save, and print screenshots of these to have for the future.

Other measures to try:

  • Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block emails, IMs, or texts from specific people.
  • Limit access to technology. Although it's hurtful, many kids who are bullied can't resist the temptation to check websites or phones to see if there are new messages. Keep the computer in a public place in the house (no laptops in children's bedrooms, for example) and put limits on the use of cellphones and games. Some companies allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours. And most websites and smartphones include parental control options that give parents access to their kids' messages and online life.
  • Know your kids' online world. Ask to "friend" or "follow" your child on social media sites, but do not abuse this privilege by commenting or posting anything to your child's profile. Check their postings and the sites kids visit, and be aware of how they spend their time online. Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why it's a bad idea to share personal information online, even with friends. Write up cellphone and social media contracts that you are willing to enforce.
  • Learn about ways to keep your kids safe online. Encourage them to safeguard passwords and to never post their address or whereabouts when out and about.

If your son or daughter agrees, you may also arrange for mediation with a therapist or counselor at school who can work with your child and/or the bully.

When Your Child Is the Bully

Finding out that your kid is the one who is behaving badly can be upsetting and heartbreaking. It's important to address the problem head on and not wait for it to go away.

Talk to your child firmly about his or her actions and explain the negative impact it has on others. Joking and teasing might seem harmless to one person, but it can be hurtful to another. Bullying in any form is unacceptable; there can be serious (and sometimes permanent) consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.

Remind your child that the use of cellphones and computers is a privilege. Sometimes it helps to restrict the use of these devices until behavior improves. If you feel your child should have a cellphone for safety reasons, make sure it is a phone that can be used only for emergencies. Set strict parental controls on all devices.

To get to the heart of the matter, talking to teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials can help identify situations that lead a kid to bully others. If your child has trouble managing anger, talk to a therapist about helping your son or daughter learn to cope with anger, hurt, frustration, and other strong emotions in a healthy way. Professional counseling also can help improve kids' confidence and social skills, which in turn can reduce the risk of bullying.

And don't forget to set a good example yourself — model good online habits to help your kids understand the benefits and the dangers of life in the digital world.






2/22/16 - 2/26/16

Caffine and Your Child
Most parents wouldn't dream of giving their kids a mug of coffee, but might routinely serve soft drinks containing caffeine. Foods and drinks with caffeine are everywhere, but it's wise to keep caffeine consumption to a minimum, especially in younger kids.

The United States hasn't developed guidelines for caffeine intake and kids, but Canadian guidelines recommend that preschoolers get no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day. That's equivalent to the average amount of caffeine found in a single 12-ounce (355-milliliter) can of soda.

How Caffeine Affects Kids

A stimulant that affects kids and adults similarly, caffeine is naturally produced in the leaves and seeds of many plants. Caffeine is also made artificially and added to certain foods. Caffeine is defined as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system. At lower levels, it can make people feel more alert and energetic.

In both kids and adults, too much caffeine can cause:

  • jitteriness and nervousness
  • upset stomach
  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure

Especially in young kids, it doesn't take a lot of caffeine to produce these effects.

Here are some other reasons to limit kids' caffeine consumption:

  • Kids often drink caffeine contained in regular soft drinks. Kids who consume one or more 12-ounce (355-milliliter) sweetened soft drink per day are 60% more likely to be obese.
  • Caffeinated beverages often contain empty calories (calories that don't provide any nutrients), and kids who fill up on them don't get the vitamins and minerals they need from healthy sources, putting them at risk for nutritional deficiencies. In particular, kids who drink too much soda (usually starting between the third and eighth grades) may miss getting the calcium they need from milk to build strong bones and teeth.
  • Drinking too many sweetened caffeinated drinks could lead to dental cavities (or caries) from the high sugar content and the erosion of tooth enamel from acidity. How can sodas cause that much damage to kids' teeth? Consider this: One 12-ounce (355-milliliter) nondiet, carbonated soft drink contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar (49 milliliters), as well as 150 calories.
  • Caffeine is a diuretic that causes the body to eliminate water (through urinating), which may contribute to dehydration. Whether the amount of caffeine in beverages is enough to actually cause dehydration is not clear, however. It may depend on whether the person drinking the beverage is used to caffeine and how much caffeine was consumed that day. To be on the safe side, it's wise to avoid excessive caffeine consumption in hot weather, when kids need to replace water lost through sweating.
  • Abruptly stopping caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms (headaches, muscle aches, temporary depression, and irritability), especially for those who are used to consuming a lot of it.
  • Caffeine can make heart problems or nervous disorders worse, and some kids might not know that they're at risk.

One thing that caffeine doesn't do is stunt growth. Although scientists once worried that caffeine could hurt growth, this isn't supported by research.

Foods and Beverages With Caffeine

Although kids get most of their caffeine from sodas, it's also found in coffee, tea, chocolate, coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt, as well as pain relievers and other over-the-counter medicines. Some parents may give their kids iced tea in place of soda, thinking that it's a better alternative. But iced tea can contain as much sugar and caffeine as soda.

Here's how some sources of caffeine compare:

Item Amount of Item Amount of Caffeine
Jolt soft drink 12 ounces 71.2 mg
Mountain Dew 12 ounces 55.0 mg
Coca-Cola 12 ounces 34.0 mg
Diet Coke 12 ounces 45.0 mg
Pepsi 12 ounces 38.0 mg
7-Up 12 ounces 0 mg
brewed coffee (drip method) 5 ounces 115 mg*
iced tea 12 ounces 70 mg*
dark chocolate 1 ounce 20 mg*
milk chocolate 1 ounce 6 mg*
cocoa beverage 5 ounces 4 mg*
chocolate milk beverage 8 ounces 5 mg*
cold relief medication 1 tablet 30 mg*
*average amount of caffeine

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Soft Drink Association

What's Caffeine Sensitivity?

Caffeine sensitivity refers to the amount of caffeine that will produce an effect in someone, which varies from person to person. On average, the smaller the person, the less caffeine necessary to produce side effects. However, caffeine sensitivity is most affected by daily caffeine intake.

People who regularly drink beverages containing caffeine soon develop a reduced sensitivity to it. This means they need higher doses of caffeine to achieve the same effects as someone who doesn't drink caffeinated drinks often. So, the more caffeine kids take in, the more caffeine they'll need to feel the same effects.

In addition to being more susceptible to the effects of caffeine based on size, younger kids are more sensitive because they haven't been exposed to it as much as older kids or adults.

Caffeine moves through the body within a few hours and is then passed through the urine (pee). It's not stored in the body, but kids may feel its effects for up to 6 hours if they're sensitive to it.

Cutting Back On Caffeine

Can you keep kids caffeine-free? Absolutely! The best way to cut caffeine (and added sugar) is to eliminate soda. Instead, offer water, milk, or flavored seltzer; you also can serve 100% fruit juice in small amounts. For added convenience, serve water in squeeze bottles that kids can carry around. You can still serve the occasional soda or tea — just make it noncaffeinated. And watch for hidden caffeine by checking the ingredient list on foods and beverages.

If your teen has taken up coffee drinking, one cup a day can easily turn into several (as most adults know), especially if your teen drinks it to stay awake during late-night study sessions.

The best way to reduce coffee caffeine intake is to cut back slowly. Otherwise, kids (and adults) could get headaches and feel achy, depressed, or just downright lousy.

Try substituting noncaffeinated drinks for caffeinated sodas and coffee (water, caffeine-free sodas, and caffeine-free teas). Keep track of how many caffeinated drinks your child has each day, and substitute one drink per week with a caffeine-free alternative until he or she has gotten below the 100-milligram mark.

Someone cutting back on caffeine may feel tired. The best bet is to hit the sack, not the sodas: It's just a body's way of saying that more rest is needed. Don't worry — energy levels will return to normal in a few days.

Feel free to let kids indulge in a sliver of chocolate cake at birthday parties or a cup of tasty hot cocoa on a cold day — these choices don't pack enough caffeine punch to be harmful. As with everything, moderation is the key to keeping your kids' caffeine consumption under control.





2/15/16 - 2/19/16

Signing Kids Up for Sports

The Benefits of Sports

Organized sports can help kids grow in many ways. From soccer to fencing, sports offer chances for kids to learn and master skills, work with their peers and coaches, and challenge themselves in a safe environment. They learn the value of practice and the challenge of competition. And on top of all that, sports provide natural and fun opportunities for kids to get regular exercise.

But before signing kids up for sports, parents should consider a child's personality and developmental level to help ensure that being involved in sports is a positive experience for everyone.

When Should Kids Start Playing Sports?

As you think about signing kids up for sports, consider how emotionally and physically ready they are to participate. Signing up too early can end up being frustrating for everyone, and can turn kids off from sports for good.

Although there are sports programs designed for preschoolers, it's not until about age 6 or 7 that most kids develop the appropriate physical skills or the attention span needed to listen to directions and grasp the rules of the game. While preschoolers can throw and run, it usually takes some time before they can coordinate the two skills. And it usually isn't until kindergarten or first grade that kids grasp concepts like "taking turns" that are crucial to many sports.

That doesn't mean kids can't play sports when they're younger. Sports can be fun for toddlers and kindergartners, but they should be less about competition and more about having fun opportunities to be active. So even if young kids inadvertently score a goal for the other team or spend the entire game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK.

If you do decide to sign your 5-year-old up for a team, be sure to choose a league that emphasizes fun and basic skills.

Choosing the Right Sport

If kids show an interest in a sport, try to let them do it. You may be worried that your child will get hurt, particularly in a contact sport like football, but as long as the coach requires players to use the correct safety gear, your doctor OK's it, and your child is matched up with other kids of the same size and ability, go ahead. Even if the sport doesn't turn out to be a good fit, your child will learn much from the experience.

When choosing a sport, consider your child's unique temperament. Some kids are naturally inclined toward team sports, while others may feel more comfortable in activities where the focus is on individual efforts. There's something for everyone — from soccer and baseball for team-oriented kids, to tennis, fencing, karate, dancing, and swimming for kids who'd rather go solo.

Don't be surprised if it takes a few tries — or a few seasons — to find the sport that's right for your child. It often takes time for kids to figure out which activities they enjoy.

Some kids may just not be interested in team sports, but they can still keep fit by engaging in other activities that don't emphasize competition. No matter what they choose, kids should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.

Family Factors

Before you sign up for a season of sports, think about how practices and games are going to affect the day-to-day life of your child and the rest of the family:

  • How will it affect how much time your child has for things like homework, other activities, and time with friends and family? You may want to get the schedule of practices and games and map out a typical week on a calendar with your child.
  • It's important for kids to have time to rest, think creatively, and play freely when they're not engaged in something else. This rest can help give them the energy they need for their activities.
  • How will the sport affect the rest of the family's plans? Many teams only practice and play games during the weekend, which can be a problem if your family likes weekend getaways.
  • If you have more than one child playing sports, how will you coordinate transportation to practices and games?
  • How involved do you want to be in the sport, and how involved does your child want you to be? Sports leagues usually look for parents to volunteer with everything from coaching to team snacks and transportation. Being involved — either as a coach or in another role — can be a great way to spend time with your kids and show them you're interested in what they do.

When Kids Want to Quit

However kids feel when they enroll for a season of sports, there may come a time when they want to quit. If your child comes to you with this plea, try to find the reason behind it. It may have to do with something small and fixable, like a bad-fitting uniform, or it may be a bigger issue, like how comfortable your child feels with the coach or the kids on the team. It could also be that your child just doesn't enjoy the sport.

Is it OK to let kids quit? If your child is on a team that depends on his or her participation, you may want to explain the importance of sticking it out for the season. If that's not the case, then think about what you want your child to get out of the experience, and how quitting would affect that.

When kids are overscheduled or unhappy, quitting may be the right thing. But it's still important for all kids to be physically active every day, even if they're no longer playing an organized sport.

Before Signing Up

Kids should have a physical examination before beginning any sports or fitness program. Those with certain medical conditions, vision or hearing problems, or other disorders may have difficulty playing some sports. Rarely, a doctor may find an undiagnosed condition that can affect participation.

Although you should share your interests with your kids, it's never a good idea to force them into an activity just because you once excelled in it. And once they choose a sport, be sure to head out to the field, gym, or pool to cheer them on.

These are general guidelines to keep in mind. Kids mature at their own pace and develop their unique skills at different times, so consider your child's emotional and physical maturity before you commit to a season of sports. There's no point in forcing sports on kids of if they're not having fun.




2/08/16 - 2/12/16

Reading Milestones

This is a general outline of the milestones on the road to reading success. Keep in mind that kids develop at different paces and spend varying amounts of time at each stage. If you have concerns, talk to your child's doctor, teacher, or the reading specialist at school. Early intervention is key in helping kids who are struggling to read.

Parents and teachers can find appropriate resources for children as early as pre-kindergarten. Quality childcare centers, pre-kindergarten programs, and homes full of language and book reading can build an environment for reading milestones to happen.

Infancy (Up to Age 1)

Kids usually begin to:

  • imitate sounds they hear in language
  • respond when spoken to
  • look at pictures
  • reach for books and turn the pages with help
  • respond to stories and pictures by vocalizing and patting the pictures

Toddlers (Ages 1-3)

Kids usually begin to:

  • answer questions about and identify objects in books — such as "Where's the cow?" or "What does the cow say?"
  • name familiar pictures
  • use pointing to identify named objects
  • pretend to read books
  • finish sentences in books they know well
  • scribble on paper
  • know names of books and identify them by the picture on the cover
  • turn pages of board books
  • have a favorite book and request it to be read often

Early Preschool (Age 3)

Kids usually begin to:

  • explore books independently
  • listen to longer books that are read aloud
  • retell a familiar story
  • recite the alphabet
  • begin to sing the alphabet song with prompting and cues
  • make continuous symbols that resemble writing
  • imitate the action of reading a book aloud

Late Preschool (Age 4)

Kids usually begin to:

  • recognize familiar signs and labels, especially on signs and containers
  • make up rhymes or silly phrases
  • recognize and write some of the letters of the alphabet (a good goal to strive for is 12-15 letters)
  • read and write their names
  • name beginning letters or sounds of words
  • match some letters to their sounds
  • use familiar letters to try writing words
  • understand that print is read from left to right, top to bottom
  • retell stories that have been read to them

Kindergarten (Age 5)

Kids usually begin to:

  • recognize and produce words that rhyme
  • match some spoken and written words
  • write some letters, numbers, and words
  • recognize some familiar words
  • predict what will happen next in a story
  • identify initial, final, and medial (middle) sounds in short words (for example, sit, sun)
  • decode simple words in isolation (the word with definition) and in context (using the word in a sentence)
  • retell the main idea, identify details (who, what, when, where, why, how), and arrange story events in sequence

First and Second Grade (Ages 6-7)

Kids usually begin to:

  • read familiar stories
  • sound out or decode unfamiliar words
  • use pictures and context to figure out unfamiliar words
  • use some common punctuation and capitalization in writing
  • self-correct when they make a mistake while reading aloud
  • show comprehension of a story through drawings
  • write by organizing details into a logical sequence with a beginning, middle, and end

Second and Third Grade (Ages 7-8)

Kids usually begin to:

  • read longer books independently
  • read aloud with proper emphasis and expression
  • use context and pictures to help identify unfamiliar words
  • understand the concept of paragraphs and begin to apply it in writing
  • correctly use punctuation
  • correctly spell many words
  • write notes, like phone messages and email
  • enjoy games like word searches
  • use new words, phrases, or figures of speech that they've heard
  • revise their own writing to create and illustrate stories

Fourth Through Eighth Grade (Ages 9-13)

Kids usually begin to:

  • explore and understand different kinds of texts, like biographies, poetry, and fiction
  • understand and explore expository, narrative, and persuasive text
  • read to extract specific information, such as from a science book
  • identify parts of speech and devices like similes and metaphors
  • correctly identify major elements of stories, like time, place, plot, problem, and resolution
  • read and write on a specific topic for fun, and understand what style is needed
  • analyze texts for meaning



2/01/16 - 2/05/16

Is your Child Too Busy

Why Are Kids So Busy?

For some families, kids may be driving the schedule because they don't want to feel left out. Teens may feel pressure to boost their roster of activities to get into the college of their choice.

Some parents feel it's more productive to keep their kids constantly occupied rather leave free time for playing, exploring, and learning on their own. They might also feel that their kids will miss out on key experiences if they aren't doing what other kids are.

But most parents usually just want what seems best for their kids. Even when intentions are good, though, kids can easily become overscheduled. The pressure to participate in a handful of activities all the time and to "keep up" can be physically and emotionally exhausting for parents and kids alike.

Of course, organized activities and sports are beneficial, too. They foster social skills and are opportunities for play and exercise. They teach sportsmanship, self-discipline, and conflict resolution. Most of all, they're fun! The key is to keep them that way and ensure that kids — and parents — aren't overwhelmed.

Signs That Kids Are Too Busy

Sooner or later, kids who are too busy will begin to show signs. Every child is different, but overscheduled kids may:

  • feel tired, anxious, or depressed
  • complain of headaches and stomachaches, which may be due to stress, missed meals, or lack of sleep
  • fall behind on their schoolwork, causing their grades to drop

Overscheduling can also take a toll on kids' friendships and social lives. Family life also can suffer — when one parent is driving to basketball practice and the other is carpooling to dance class, meals are missed. As a result, some families rarely eat dinner together, and may not take the extra time to stay connected.

Plus, the weekly grind of driving kids all over the place and getting to one class, game, or practice after another can be downright tiresome and stressful for parents.

Tips for Busy Families

Even those parents who try to help their kids cut back on some activities can run up against coaches who won't tolerate absences and kids who want to keep up with their friends. However, it's important for parents to step back and make sure that their kids aren't burning out.

The key is to schedule things in moderation and choose activities with a child's age, temperament, interests, and abilities in mind. If something's too advanced, the experience is likely to be frustrating. If it isn't engaging, kids will be bored. And when kids do something only to please their parents, it defeats the whole purpose.

Depending on a kid's age and interests, it's possible to set reasonable limits on extracurricular activities and make them more enjoyable for all.

Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Agree on ground rules ahead of time: For instance, plan on kids playing one sport per season or limit activities to two afternoons or evenings during the school week.
  • Know how muc