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?
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”.
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.
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?
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
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 tinybit 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:
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?
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?
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.
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.
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:
My child’s school provides me with resources and information to support my child’s learning at home.
My child’s school tells me how my child is doing in class in a way that makes sense to me.
My child’s school gives me opportunities to talk to teachers about how my child is doing.
At least one caring adult in our school knows my child well.
My child is safe at school.
My child’s school invites me to participate in the school’s activities.
My child’s school keeps me informed about news and events.
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.