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

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.

Comment on this post

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?

Comment on this post

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?

 

Comment on this post

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] 

Comment on this post

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?

Comment on this post

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?

Comment on this post

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]

Comment on this post

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.

Comment on this post

Where do you stand on sex ed “opt in” bill?

March 7, 2019

Learning about reproductive health is an essential part of a child’s education. Currently, students that go to public school are given the option to learn about human sexuality at school. Before any sex ed class, a permission slip is sent home and parents have the option to “opt out” if they don’t want their child to attend. This form only needs to be returned to the school if the parents opt out.

A bill (House Bill 120) is making its way through the Statehouse that will change the requirement. The bill requires a permission slip to be filled out and signed by the parents, in order for students to attend the class on sex education.  

If the bill is approved by lawmakers, I am afraid it could impact the amount of sex education our teenagers receive. If fewer students attend sex education classes, due to the lack of parents filling out paperwork, there would be a greater possibility of unsafe sex, unwanted pregnancies and sexual abuse.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website lists each state’s reproductive health statistics. I was surprised to read about Idaho’s teen sexual activity: 37 percent of Idaho’s high school students reported being sexually active. Of those sexually active students, only 58 percent were using birth control. That means, for every 100 high school kids, 37 are having sex and 21 of them are not using any birth control.

I understand, and agree, teaching our kids about sexual health is a very personal subject. Every family has unique principles and beliefs surrounding sexual activity. Would this bill result in more, or less, information being taught to our kids about sexual health?

Where do you stand?

Comment on this post

What’s your experience with teaching your kids to drive?

March 5, 2019

Monday was my daughter’s half birthday.

Normally I don’t acknowledge (or even know) anyone’s half birthday, but my daughter spent all winter counting down the days. I didn’t make half a birthday cake or give her any gifts, but I did sign her up for driver’s education.

In Idaho, 14.5 is the golden age when teenagers can start driver’s education. Only seven other states allow students to start driver training before they are 15 or 16.

I am both excited and scared for my daughter to learn how to drive. I am excited for her to have the freedom to drive herself to and from school, sporting events, work and to visit friends. I am scared for her safety and the tremendous responsibility that comes with driving a car.

Fortunately, Idaho requires all students to take 30 hours of classroom instruction before getting behind the wheel. Once the class is complete (and tests have been passed), students are required to have six hours of instructor supervised driving and six hours of observing other student drivers. Here is a list of requirements and instructions for a teenager to obtain an Idaho driving permit.

Because my daughter is participating in school sports, the course offered through the high school won’t work with her schedule. I was able to find an online course and driving instructor that can fit into her schedule but unfortunately, it costs more than the school’s driver education course.

Did your kids take driver education through the school or a private company?

What’s your experience with teaching your kids to drive?

Comment on this post