I hate doing my kid's homework, a mom's blog

Early release for seniors is an unfortunate waste

September 16, 2019

My high school senior has early release. That means he gets done with school every day at 1:07 p.m. That’s right, 1:07 … except on late start Wednesdays, then it’s 1:09.

Ideally, he could use his early release time to work and save for college, but for student athletes that’s not an option. My son needs to be back at the school for practice before 3 p.m.

Normally, he comes swaggering through the door by 1:30 p.m. and heads to the kitchen for a second lunch. When he’s done eating, he goes upstairs for a nap or some down time on the Xbox. Sometimes, he even brings home other seniors with early release.

Right now, it’s 1:45 p.m. and I have two seniors upstairs watching TV, waiting for football practice.

He knows he could be doing more productive things with his mid-day free time, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities. He could be working on his college applications, or job applications, but he prefers to do that in the evening. He is already taking honors, concurrent credit and AP classes, along with sports, so he chooses to use his time to relax. When football is over, he hopes to find a job.

I wanted to make sure I understood why some seniors had early release, so I contacted the school. The counselor explained the graduation requirements and the number of credits needed to participate in sports.

Our high school, like many in Idaho, offers students release time to take a religious course off campus. Because my son did not take any religious courses, he is several credits ahead. He also took some high school classes in middle school, bumping him up a few more credits.

I asked why they didn’t encourage him to graduate a semester early. The counselor explained, he could not take all the senior requirements in his first semester. In order to graduate, seniors are required to take a full year of math, English, and government classes along with completing a senior project.

If my son decides not to participate in any school sports next semester, he could be done with school at 10:52 a.m., or go to school every other day! If he does want to play sports, he would need to take an additional class (not required for graduation) and stay at school until 1:07 p.m., like he is now. It would be great if he could take additional concurrent credit classes, but he has already taken all of the courses the school has to offer.

Early release is an unfortunate waste of educational opportunities. The counselor informed me nearly 80 seniors have early release this year. When I asked what options were available for seniors like my son, she suggested getting a job or taking online college classes. The online courses could even be paid with government Fast Forward funds, provided the student has any left. The school counselors could help him look for online classes, but he would have to go home to take the class. The school does not have any teachers available for seniors who want to stay at school to take online classes.

Maybe early release helps prevent senioritis. Maybe most kids get jobs and work experience with their free time. Or maybe, they just go home and relax, enjoying their last year of ease before adulthood comes rushing in.

Does your school have early release for seniors?

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Seems crazy to allow kids to attend school with head lice

September 6, 2019

When I was in elementary school, I got lice. I don’t remember how I got it (or more accurately, who I got it from) or how long I had it, but I wasn’t allowed to attend school until the lice were gone.

My mom spent hours washing my hair with special shampoo and combing through every strand of hair with a small metal comb. I remember vividly laying on her lap in the backyard, so she could painstakingly comb, while I painstakingly cried. I hated it and I’m sure my mom hated it, too.

Once my mom thought she had gotten rid of the lice, she took me back to school. Before I could return to school, I had to be checked by the school nurse. The nurse carefully searched through my head and discovered more lice and I was sent home, crying. My mother decided it would be easier and less painful to cut my hair short, rather than washing and combing through my long hair again. After my haircut and more rounds of shampoo and combing, I was finally cleared to go back to school.

Fortunately, my children have never had lice. When my family lived in a smaller Idaho school district, I would frequently receive notifications informing parents that someone at the school had lice. The notification listed treatment suggestions and information about how to check for lice.

I have not received any similar notifications since moving into the West Ada School District. I thought I hadn’t received any head lice notifications because my children had not been exposed to lice at the school. Nope.

There is no policy in the West Ada School District prohibiting kids from attending school with lice, or informing parents about kids at the school being infected with lice. I checked the district website and it says …

“HEAD LICE are tiny insects that live on the human body, typically found in the hair. They spread by head to head contact or sharing clothing or personal items like hats/brushes. Student may attend school, treatment with a lice shampoo and removal of all nits is recommended.”

I was shocked to discover this, so I called my child’s elementary school to see if their school policy was different. The nurse just directed me back to the district website for information.

My friend has children in the Boise School District, and she informed me that her school also allows children to attend school with lice.

It seems crazy to allow kids to attend school with head lice. It seems equally crazy that there is no policy to inform parents of the potential for head lice exposure. If my children are exposed to lice at school, I’d like to know as soon as possible. I don’t want my kids to have to endure the same painful memories of head lice I had as a kid.

Do you know your school’s policy on head lice?

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How do you feel about dress codes? 

August 28, 2019

My eleven-year-old started middle school this year. She was apprehensive about the first day, not because she was going to a new school with new teachers and a totally different schedule, but because she was worried about the dress code.

When her older sister attended the same middle school two years ago, she was humiliated by a male teacher for not abiding by dress code. We had just moved and she was new to the school, had a broken arm and was wearing a sleeveless shirt (to fit over the cast).

To help her younger sister avoid the same embarrassing fate, she warned her sister about the middle school dress code, and the strict guidelines. My sixth grader’s fear of being called out for her clothing choices made starting middle school a little nerve wrecking.

I have done my best to buy clothing that is school appropriate, but it’s difficult to find shorts that are long enough for my very tall and thin daughter. Someday she will love being tall and thin, but right now, finding clothes that fit her waist and are long enough for school dress code is a challenge. It seems her only choices are Bermuda shorts or long skirts, neither of which she likes to wear.

Last year, we didn’t struggle with dress code issues because my girls were in elementary and high school. Both schools have a dress code, but do not make a practice of calling kids out and sending them home if they do not conform. There was no looming fear about a teacher noticing hem lines and sleeve length. My kids wore what they wanted and enjoyed school, and it was wonderful.

School dress codes are a problem, because they are inherently sexist. My boys have never had to worry about their pants being too tight or their shirts being too low. They have never had to have the length of their shorts examined by a school teacher or administrator. Dress codes mostly dictate how a female should or shouldn’t dress, implying responsibility for how their clothing makes others feel.

If we want to teach our kids how to be responsible, shouldn’t we start by teaching them ownership for how they treat others? Shouldn’t schools let the parents be responsible for their children’s clothing choices?

An angry mother, who’s daughter was sent home for wearing a tank top, forwarded me this model dress code policy produced by Oregon’s National Organization for Women. It outlines a safe, non-sexist, approach to school dress codes along with guidelines for enforcement. She is in the process of meeting with her child’s school administrators in the hopes of changing the school dress code. I plan to email my school district with a similar request.

How do you feel about your school’s dress code?


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How do you feel about youth sports?

August 8, 2019

My kids are getting excited for the first day of school. Not so much about going to class and doing homework, but because they enjoy being with their friends and playing school sports.

I have two kids in middle school this year. They both want to play school sports (cross country and football). As I was browsing the school’s athletic website for information, there was a link to a TED talk. The athletic director encouraged parents visiting the web site to take a minute to watch the clip,called the Changing the Game Project.

From this 14-minute video, I learned seven-of-10 kids drop out of organized sports by the time they turn 13. Kids are told they need to play one sport year-round in order to have a spot on the team and to be competitive. The parents and coaches pressure young athletes to focus on winning and perfection, rather than enjoying the sport.

My kids have felt this pressure. When I asked my 7-year-old if she wanted to play soccer this year, she said, “I can’t play soccer, I don’t know how. And besides, all of the other kids have already been playing for years.” My sister’s kids also experienced the intense pressure to perform well in sports. After nearly a lifetime of playing baseball, my nephew decided to give it up in high school. He said he was burnt out.

The end of the TED talk encouraged parents to change how they treat their kids’ sporting events. Instead of breaking down their performance, play-by-play, all we need to say is, “I love watching you play.” That’s it.

I don’t live under any illusion that my kids will become professional athletes. I just want my kids to enjoy being physically active. I want them to try new sports, even if they are not good at them. Even so, I am guilty of putting too much pressure on my kids, and talking about how they could improve. I was glad to learn a better way to respond to my kids.

How do you feel about youth sports? Has the pressure to “be the best” discouraged your kids from playing?


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What does ‘the Idaho way’ mean to you?

July 31, 2019

I keep rereading the letter written by Rep. Barbara Ehardt to Boise State University’s President Marlene Tromp. Looking over the many issues listed, there are two statements that resonate with me as a parent: “We need to do things the “Idaho way” and “Idaho’s universities should always seek to treat all students fairly and equitably.”

The “Idaho way” is a beautiful and endearing way to express love for this great state. To every individual who lives here, it can mean something uniquely different. To me, it means being surrounded by people who are kind and courteous. To  Rep. Ehardt and the 28 legislators who signed the letter, I imagine it meant something different for each one of them. The beauty of doing things the “Idaho way” is that there is no right or wrong way.

I applaud Rep. Ehardt’s statement to “seek to treat all students fairly and equitably.” I hope that politicians and educators all across the state, work to create programs and laws that treat our kids fairly, from their first day of kindergarten to their last day of graduate school, regardless of their religious affiliation, sexual preference or political views.

Unfortunately, the rest of the letter implores President Tromp to rid the school of select diversity programs and celebrations. If the goal of Idaho’s educational system is to provide “academic excellence”, then celebrating and seeking diversity is essential.

When students and professors have similar life experiences, political views, religious affiliations or opinions, the opportunity to understand and discuss opposing viewpoints is greatly limited.  Recruiting diverse professors is necessary to expand the educational experience for both the students and staff members alike.

Embracing and celebrating students with multicultural differences, should be a source of pride for BSU students, just like embracing and celebrating the success of BSU’s athletic programs. Do celebrations for athletic achievements (like the 2007 Fiesta Bowl) diminish the school’s ability to treat it’s non-athlete student fairly and equitably? I don’t think so.

The letter also complains of the schools initiatives to providing training to prevent LGBTQIA+ sexual misconduct. Isn’t this a good thing? As a parent, I want my children’s sexuality (straight or gay) to be protected and respected.

While I support Rep. Edhardt’s goal to encourage BSU’s new president to focus on the equal and fair treatment of students, I am afraid her suggested actions are counterintuitive.

My son is a sophomore at BSU. I hope his classes include a wide array of students, including first-generation students of color, American Indians, new parents, and underrepresented minority students. I hope he gets to know and interact with multiple LGBT students who gently teach the importance of using proper pronouns. I hope his education is enriched by diverse professors and students with differing viewpoints.

Most of all, I hope my son feels his education was enhanced by attending a school that chose to support diversity while simultaneously focusing on academic excellence “the Idaho way”.


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What are some of your favorite places to visit in Idaho?

July 24, 2019

One of my family’s favorite things to do in the summer is travel around Idaho. My husband and I didn’t grow up in Idaho, so exploring the state with our kids is an adventure. Here is our list of some of the most cherished vacation spots we have found throughout the state:

Northern Idaho; Wallace and the Hiawatha Trail

Wallace is a small town just east of Coeur d’Alene, on the Idaho-Montana border. The town is famous for two things; producing more silver than any other silver mining district in the nation, and it’s regulated, illegal brothels that operated until 1991. There are museums where you can learn more, but my family arrived after closing, so we just looked through the windows.

The Hiawatha Trail begins near Wallace, at Lookout Pass Ski Area. It is a 15-mile-long, abandoned rail line that is now used for biking or hiking. We purchased our trail passes and shuttles tickets (for our return to the top) and rented bikes and head lamps for our ride. The trail has three tunnels that range from one- to three-miles long. It was the most scenic and unique bike ride our family has ever done.

Eastern Idaho; Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is just as unusual as it sounds. It is located southeast of Sun Valley off Highway 26. This National Park covers 600+ square miles of petrified lava flows that oozed out nearly 2,000 years ago. The park is full of caves and trails to explore.

Southern Idaho; Bruneau Sand Dunes

The Bruneau Sand Dunes are located just south of Mountain Home. This National Park features North America’s largest single-structured sand dune, at 470 feet high. Our family prefers to visit early in the spring, before the sand gets too hot. You can also rent boards to ride down the dunes.

Other places we love to vacation are; Hell’s Canyon, Silver Creek Plunge and Tamarack.

What are some of your favorite places to visit in Idaho?



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Did you know that the Idaho State Museum was recently renovated?

July 8, 2019

Did you know that the Idaho State Museum was recently renovated? After four years of construction, it reopened last October.

Visiting the museum with my family has been on my to-do-list since it reopened. It took longer than expected to convince some of my older kids to go, but I finally succeeded.

From the moment we entered the museum, my family was surprisingly fascinated. At the entrance, there is an interactive map with information about cities and landmarks, all over Idaho. My kids (and husband) would have been happy to play with the map for a long time, if I hadn’t urged them to go inside.

Inside, there are several floors of the museum. The bottom floor has games and toys for younger kids, including a mock train station, mining station, and multiple interactive screens. It also has personal stories and information about individuals who made an impact on Idaho’s history; from radio broadcasters to military POWs to Idaho’s first female elected officials.

The upper floors are filled with artifacts and photos from Idaho’s history (also interactive). We learned about Idaho’s Native American Tribes and the various groups of people who  first settled around the state. There is information about the history of Idaho’s mining, forestry, agriculture and recreation. My kids enjoyed playing the agriculture game and sitting in one of the first designed ski chair lifts. Did you know that the world’s first three chairlifts were designed for Sun Valley in 1936, and were owned by the Union Pacific Railroad? We didn’t.

The museum was interesting, educational and fun for my entire family. I think we will go back every year.

Have you had a chance to visit the museum? What was your favorite exhibit?


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Do your kids have chores in the summer?

June 27, 2019

In the summer, it seems like someone in my house is always hungry, bored or making a mess.

I try to manage the hunger by taking my kids grocery shopping and involving them in the meal planning. I a

Caught in the act: A Flake kid vacuuming in the summer.

lso try to have lots of fresh fruits and veggies for snacking, or by making bean and cheese nachos (tortilla chips, black beans and grated cheese in the broiler … mmmm).

When they are bored, I sometimes take them to the library or let them play with friends. I don’t worry too much about boredom, because I know it can breed creativity (if they are not on devices the whole time). They also have fun summer plans, in between all of the boredom.

Now, when my kids are making messes, that is a different story.

I want my kids to help keep our home clean on the inside and outside. I want them to have the opportunity to learn to work and earn money. I want them to take pride in their work and to learn to do things they don’t like (cleaning the bathroom).

So every summer I create a chore chart. If my kids know what is expected of them and how much they can earn, they are usually a tiny bit more willing to do their jobs. Not all of the jobs get done every day, but it helps our family have a little bit more structure and a little less mess.

Do your kids have chores in the summertime? Here’s mine:


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How do you feel about the new SAT adversity score?

June 10, 2019

My son just completed his junior year of high school. He already took the free SAT (thank you, Idaho taxpayers) and hopes to attend college after graduation. Unfortunately for my son, his college applications will not only list his SAT scores and GPA, but also his lack of adversity.

According to the new SAT adversity score, students will also be scored on 15 other factors, factors like; the student’s average senior class size, percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches, the student’s home environment, neighborhood crime level, median family income and family stability.

My son does not score very “high” on the adversity score, because he lives with a stable family, in a safe neighborhood, and attends a large high school. While I am sorry my son’s SAT adversity score will not look good on his college applications, overall I hope it means his college experience will be more rich. I hope it means he will be exposed to a wider array of thoughts, unique backgrounds, and different lifestyles.

I also hope it helps students who come from challenging backgrounds have greater opportunities to further their education. I applaud schools and organizations who seek to help those students, regardless of their societal, financial or familial backgrounds.

How do you feel about the new SAT adversity score?

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What do you love/hate about the end of the school year?

May 30, 2019

Two more days and my kids will all be out of school!

I have a strong love/hate relationship with the last week of school and the start of summer.

I love that my (younger) kids get to go on field trips, watch movies, enjoy class parties and celebrate all they learned and accomplished over the school year. I love that my middle and high school kids get to take finals and be done with the classes (and teachers) that they didn’t enjoy. I love that the weather is warmer and the sun is shining. I love the thought of summertime sleeping in and unstructured days.

But… I hate the stress my kids go through, taking finals nearly every day during the last week of school (it makes them kind of grouchy). I hate that my kids’ field trips, awards banquets, choir performances, class parties and outdoor field days are all crammed into the same week… right after Memorial Day weekend. I hate the impending summer boredom that seems to set in exactly two days into summer break.

What do you love or hate about the end of the school year and the beginning of summer?


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Thank you teachers for helping me keep my children safe

May 24, 2019

As I went to tuck my first grader into bed, she told me about a book the teacher had read in class. The book talked about a young girl who was touched inappropriately by an adult. The girl was really embarrassed about what had happened, but decided to tell her older brother. Her brother assured her that she had done nothing wrong and encouraged her to tell their mother.

The mother was very glad the daughter told her about the inappropriate actions of the other adult. The mother promised her daughter the adult who had touched her would never be allowed in their house or around their family again.

When my daughter finished talking about the book, she told me she was confused and had some questions. She wanted to know why someone would want to touch another person’s genitalia. She also wanted to know what would happen if someone was touched inappropriately. I answered all of her questions and we spent some time talking about our bodies and genitalia. We talked about who is allowed to touch our bodies (medical professionals) and who is not.

I kissed her on the forehead and thanked her for telling me about the book and for asking questions. As I walked out of her room that night, I felt extremely grateful.

I was grateful the school taught my daughter about inappropriate sexual touching. I’m not sure we’ve had that conversation before. I was grateful my daughter was comfortable asking me questions. And I was extremely grateful for the teachers and staff who taught the information so well, my daughter was able to retell the story to me.

Thank you. Thank you to all of the teachers who help me keep my children safe. Thank you for teaching them about fire drills, bullying and personal space. Thank you for the countless hours you supervise my children as they play on the playground or eat their lunch. Thank you for being compassionate and for listening to endlessly long stories about rainbows and unicorns.

But mostly, thank you for covering the difficult topics and helping me to start the conversation at home.

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Take your kids to Warhawk Air Museum

May 17, 2019

I visited the Warhawk Air Museum, with my son — and four busses full of field-tripping middle schoolers.

As we entered the museum, we were greeted by a friendly staff and lots of volunteer veterans. The students sat on the ground and listened to the museum’s co-founder, Sue Paul, explain the importance and impact the armed services has had in shaping our country. She took time to recognize each student who had a family member who served, or is serving in the military. Then she introduced the veterans who had come to share a bit of their past with the students.

The students divided into small groups and listened to individual veterans talk about their experience. They each shared pictures and memorabilia from their time in the armed services.

One veteran, who served in the Air Force, explained how the Cold War had began and ended. He displayed parts and pictures from the planes he worked on. He said the Air Force had helped prevent a third world war, by flying planes over Russia; 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, for nearly 40 years!

The second veteran spoke of the importance of getting a good education. He disliked school when he was young and didn’t believe he was very smart, until a teacher took the time to help him. When he joined the armed services, he was encouraged to get a college degree. His education gave him the opportunity to work on highly classified assignments. He expressed his great love for our nation and the positive impact the United States has had on worldwide innovations and democracy.

The third veteran was drafted to the Navy during World War II. He shared pictures and stories of his ship and fellow soldiers. He also served in post-war Japan. He was profoundly impacted by the starvation of the post-war Japaneese people and the generosity of the United States in rebuilding Japan.

Each vetran’s story was moving and powerful. The students explored the museum and learned more about veterans from all over Idaho. The field trip ended with a Q&A with the veterans.

One seventh grader asked “What was your favorite thing to do in the military?”

Their answers included jumping out of airplanes, traveling the world and playing a football game on an aircraft carrier. The quarterback threw a long pass and as the receiver jumped to catch the ball, he fell off the edge of the ship!

If you haven’t had a chance to take your kids to the Warhawk Air Museum, I highly recommend it. It’s also an ideal way to spend Memorial Day, May 27.


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Did you take your school’s survey?

May 15, 2019

I had the opportunity to take the statewide school survey five times, for each of my kids in school. I had a different response for the elementary, middle and high school. Here are the questions that were on my district’s survey:

  1. My child’s school provides me with resources and information to support my child’s learning at home.
  2. My child’s school tells me how my child is doing in class in a way that makes sense to me.
  3. My child’s school gives me opportunities to talk to teachers about how my child is doing.
  4. At least one caring adult in our school knows my child well.
  5. My child is safe at school.
  6. My child’s school invites me to participate in the school’s activities.
  7. My child’s school keeps me informed about news and events.
  8. My child’s school principal is accessible.

I was given the option to respond to each question with; strongly agree, agree, neutral,  disagree, strongly disagree, or unsure.

I really liked the questions. It is important for schools to provide information to parents about news and events, how to reach the teachers and principal, and school activities. It is also important for the students and parents to feel like their school is a safe place.

Our schools do a great job communicating with me via email and newsletters (sometimes too much). I attend parent teacher conferences and receive weekly updates on all of my kids grades.

The one question that really resonated with me, was No. 4. It is important to have teachers who know my child well and care about them. I know my elementary and middle school kids have caring adults who know my kids … but I do not believe my high school kids feel like their teachers know and care about them. I hear stories about teachers who are rude or who look down on my high school kids. I hope they each have at least one teacher who knows my child and cares about their success. I will ask them tonight.

Were your school’s survey questions the same or different? What questions felt really important to you?

There’s still time to take the survey. Contact your school for the link.

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I was shocked at the cost to play high school football

May 9, 2019

I recently attended an information meeting for parents of high school football players. The room was filled with parents eager to learn more about the upcoming football season. The coach reviewed the summer workout schedule and training camp, along with the team’s goals.

Then he explained the individual player costs. The coach was pleased to inform us the cost would be increasing by only $20 this year.

I was shocked, not because of the additional $20, but because the fees are already crazy high.

To play Eagle High football, the fees are as follows:

  • School athletic pay-to-play fee (for all sports) — $110
  • Season player registration fee — $660
  • (optional) summer football camp — $235

The total — $1,005 or $770 without the summer camp. The coach said the $660 fee was considerably less than the original cost per player of $1,210 due to booster donations.

In addition to the fees, I will still need to buy my son football gear, including cleats, mouth guard, gloves and more. None of these fees cover any transportation to or from games. All transportation must be provided by the athletes or their parents.

Players have an option to lower their registration fees by selling dining cards outside Albertsons. If they sell 33 cards (at $20 each), it could cover those fees.

I wanted to know if this was normal, so I called a few other schools to ask about their football fees.

The Mountain View High School website lists some player fees:

  • Pay-to-play fee — $110
  • Activity card — $44.50
  • Seven-on-seven uniform fee— ??? (I called several times and left several messages but no one called me back. No one seemed to know this cost in the high school office.)
  • Spirit pack — $184.44
  • Equipment fee — $70
  • Summer Camp — $110

The total — roughly $474 (or $364 without summer camp). But I’m not exactly sure how much higher this number is, because I do not know what the seven-on-seven uniform fee costs are.

I tried contacting Boise, Twin Falls and Hillcrest in Idaho Falls to compare costs. I couldn’t find fee information on the school websites and most of the time the school secretary would tell me I needed to contact the football coach directly to find out about the fees. I tried that, too, but did not get any return phone calls.

What are the football fees at your high school? Do you feel like this number is too high?

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Parents: Are you taking the survey?

April 22, 2019

Whenever I talk with parents about their child’s education, they usually have a lot to say. I hear positive comments about wonderful teachers, great school programs, and innovative teaching methods. But, I also hear complaints about late start, unfair teachers, dress codes or standardized testing (among other things). It seems like every parent has strong feelings about their child’s education and experience at school.

How many parents actually voice their feelings? I have this platform to share my positive and negative educational experiences, and I still keep a lot of issues to myself (like high school math).

Fortunately, the state is giving all of us (parents) an opportunity to rate our engagement and satisfaction with the schools our children attend, by offering a statewide survey. Every school is required to notify parents of this survey and give them an opportunity to take the survey. It is also available in Spanish.

The survey is supposed to be available online (via a link provided from your children’s school) from April 15 through May 17.

I got an email from my school district on April 18, with a link to the survey. I plan to take it.

Did your school notify you of the survey?

Have you taken it?


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I am committed to learning more about technology

April 18, 2019

I recently attended a conference about the rapid advancements and influence of technology. I was amazed to see how much has changed over the last two decades, and what continued advancements are expected. Here is a chart that uses Moore’s Law to show how quickly technology is advancing;


Like most parents, I did not grow up with the internet. I did not have a smartphone, Google, GPS or access to instant information. I had to go to the library to find relevant books or browse encyclopedias, if I needed to find information.  

The world is a very different place for our children. They can access global news instantly, find directions or communicate with friends — with just the swipe of a finger.

Our kids are immersed in this advancing technology and it is shaping their world. Are we, the parents, evolving and learning along with our kids, or are we trying (unsuccessfully) to stop the influence of technology?

I learned one of the simplest ways we can connect with our kids and learn about new technology is to be involved in the virtual world with them. We can give our kids the unique chance to teach us, by asking them about the apps they use, or by watching their favorite YouTube channel, or playing video games together. Not only will this help us (the older generation) keep up with advancing technology, but it can also give us (as parents) more opportunities to talk to our kids about things that are relevant to them, and their future.

Of course, the idea of playing video games with my kids seems like a total waste of time … but is it? Most of us are committed to attending our children’s sports practices and games, why not online games, too?

In 2011 a CNet survey found that 91 percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 17, play video games … and that was 8 years ago. And in 2008, the Pew Research Center found that nearly 70 percent of parents rarely or never play video games with their kids.

Are you like me, and 70 percent of parents, who rarely or never play video games with their kids?

I am committed to learning more about technology … and making time to play video games with my kids. Roblox and Fortnite, here I come!

Tell me what you think, [email protected] 

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What do your kids look at when they are on their phones?

April 5, 2019

I don’t like to see my kids staring at their phones.

I worry about the potentially negative effects. Are their smartphones discouraging actual interactions? Do they create feelings of depression and loneliness (like this article states)? Are their devices minimizing healthy activity and creativity?

Maybe, but maybe not.

Last week, instead of asking my kids to put their phones down, I decided to sit next to them and see what they were looking at.

I wasn’t surprised to see social media and games, but I was surprised to learn they also like watching educational videos. Here are some of the things my kids like to view on their smartphones (usually via YouTube);

My 12-year-old loves:

Simple History — Multiple cartoons that tell interesting facts and personal stories from WWII. When I asked him about it, he proceeded to recall stories about tanks being cemented to the ground to make bunkers and fascinating aerial dog fights.

Antique Rusty Cleaver Restoration — Did you know that some people can turn a $2 yard sale hatchet/knife/cleaver into it’s stunning original form?

My 17-year-old watches:

Matt Stonie — A competitive eater. I sat with my son and watched Matt eat 10,120 calories of chili cheese fries (yuck!).

Wood carving — When he wants to fall asleep, watching someone transform a tree stump into amazing artwork can be quite relaxing.

Tfue — a famous Fortnite player. My son believes he will get better by watching Tfue’s skills (not really educational, but still interesting).

And on Instagram — #jerryoftheday and #firstteamalljerry. Both feature snow skiing mishaps, sometimes funny and sometimes painful to watch.

I know limited screen time is good, but now I ask my kids what they are looking at before I tell them to put their devices away.

What do your kids look at when they are on their phones?

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What do you do with sick kids?

April 2, 2019

Being a parent is challenging. When my kids get sick, it’s even more challenging.

Having a sick kid leaves me with three options:

  1. Send them to school, because they’re not that sick.
  2. Let them stay home and rest.
  3. Take them to the doctor.

If I take them to the doctor and the doctor says it’s just a cold, then I feel like it was a waste of our time, the doctor’s time, and we should’ve just stayed home. If the doctor says they need medication, then I feel like I should have brought my sick child in sooner.

If I think my kid is not very sick and send him to school, but the school nurse calls me to pick up my coughing, feverish or snotty nosed child, then I feel like I should have known better and not sent him to school.

But sometimes, I send my slightly-sick kid to school, and they go through the day like a rockstar, totally healthy.

It’s a conundrum, with a lot of mom guilt involved, especially since every one of these scenarios has happened, multiple times.

This morning I had two sick kids, with different symptoms. One had been sick for three days and the other, just a day. I chose option three, and called the doctor. The doctor informed me that one child had a minor cold, while the other had strep throat.

This is a blog to thank all the doctors who deal with sick kids and not-so-sick kids, on a regular basis. It’s a thank you to all the school nurses who call me to pick up my sick kids without judgement or criticism. And a thank you to the teachers who brave every winter with a classroom full of virus carrying students.

Thank you to the brave adults, and try to stay healthy.

What do you do when your kids are sick?

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What are your children’s educational accomplishments?

March 20, 2019

This was a great week for educational accomplishments in our family.

First, after weeks of practice, our family was finally able to attend the elementary school play. My first grader auditioned and was assigned a part in the chorus, while my fifth grader decided to help as a stagehand. The play, An Alien Geographic Invasion, was everything an elementary school play should be, educational, funny, hard to hear/too loud, and super cute.

Second, after weeks of researching and writing about Susan B. Anthony, my fifth grader was able to give her presentation. She spent countless hours memorizing her presentation and had a fantastic time making a costume from thrift store items. I was so proud.

And third, my seventh grader turned in his lengthy ABC book report. He wrote an interesting fact from his book (Harry Potter) to correspond with each letter of the alphabet. He found 26 pictures to go along.

I am grateful for the numerous teachers who take the time to teach my kids about teamwork, important figures in history and how to write unique book reports.

What are your children’s educational accomplishments? Feel free to share pictures and stories. I can be reached at [email protected]

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Talking about suicide reduces the risk

March 19, 2019

Four years ago, my 16 year old son told me that he was suicidal. I was shocked and confused. I had no idea he was so unhappy, or had considered taking his own life. I felt like a failure as a parent.

It took several months and lots of open and vulnerable conversations to help our son. We made changes as a family and talked openly about love and acceptance.

Now, I feel like my son is emotionally healthy. He still deals with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, but he recognizes purpose and value in his life. He has the tools and friends he needs to help him overcome feelings of depression.

Suicide is scary. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding it. I want to help parents have a better understanding of suicide and what they can do. Here is information I learned about suicide prevention from a lecture given by Shannon Miles, MA, LMFT (Licenced Marriage Family Therapist).

Facts about suicide:

  • Those who have survived a suicide attempt, express regret and a desire to live.
  • Some one in the United States dies by suicide every 12 minutes.
  • Most suicidal people do not want to die.
  • Eight out of 10 suicides are male.
  • Suicide has a higher death rate than opioids.
  • Chronic suicide attempts may indicate unaddressed mental health issues.
  • Alcohol and drug use heighten suicide risk.
  • Guns are the No. 1 method used in successful suicides (accounting for 55 percent of all suicides).

The information I found most surprising was the usage (and subsequent deaths) caused by firearms. If you own firearms, do keep them locked in a safe?

Shannon went on to explain how we can all help prevent suicide. One of the best ways to start is to ask questions like, “Are you OK?” and  “Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?” People often think that talking about it might make it worse, but it’s just the opposite. Asking about suicide reduces the risk by 70 percent. If someone shares that they are in pain and contemplating suicide, validate their pain. Communicate, “I want you to live and I want to help you.”

If you know anyone that is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please seek help. Talk to a counselor or call the Idaho suicide prevention line,1-208-398-4357. Here is a guide to talking to your child about suicide, at any age.

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