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

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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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?

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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?

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Do you talk to your kids about sex?

February 28, 2019

My husband and I try to talk openly with our kids. We talk about a variety of subjects, including politics, religions, sports, friends, teachers and school. We also talk about sex and intimacy. Sometimes the conversations are awkward, sometimes they are silly, but we talk about them.

I grew up with a limited knowledge of sexuality (before the Internet). I knew how babies were conceived and that sex was a form of love and intimacy for adults.

I also knew that one out of every six women in the United States would be a victim of rape, or attempted rape, in her lifetime. This statistic scared me, but I didn’t know how to talk to my parents about it. I wasn’t really sure how to avoid unwanted sexual behavior, or what to do if I became a victim.

I want my kids to have more knowledge than I did. I want my kids to understand how to be safe and the importance of consent.

Our kids are exposed to lots of information about sex. Just this week, they learned the Patriots owner was arrested for soliciting sex and the principal of Fruitland High School was arrested for sexual battery. They know what #MeToo means and they hear about famous people being charged with sexual harassment.

I don’t want this to be the only information about sex they hear. I also want them to learn about safety and consent.

We talk about safety first. We discuss when it is appropriate for other people to see them naked (at the doctor’s office or hospital) and when it is not. We talk about using our words when we feel uncomfortable and talking to adults if anything unwanted occurs. We talk about birth control and sexually transmitted infections.

I also talk to my kids about consent. I explain the importance of consent at every level (hand holding, kissing, etc.) and every time. I even tell my kids that consent needs to be more than a small nod. It needs to be a “hell yes and a high five!” Consent matters, every time.

There are a lot of details to discuss, but we start with safety and consent.

Do you talk to your kids about sex? How do you start the conversation?

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The struggle is real: snow boots and coats

February 20, 2019

I love the snow. My kids love the snow. It’s beautiful and magical, and it usually causes a heated before-school “discussion” (fight) with my kids.

The discussion generally revolves around two issues; coats and snow boots.

My older kids hate wearing coats to school. Their classrooms are very warm (thankfully) and they only need their coat while walking to and from the car or bus. The three-minute walk into the school building does not warrant the need for a coat (they claim). It is also a pain to fit a large coat into their small lockers. Although I feel silly letting my middle and high school kids leave the house without a coat, during a snowstorm, I let it slide.

I just want all the teachers and school staff to know, my kids do own coats, they just choose not to wear them (mom fail).

Fortunately, I don’t have to have the “coat discussion” with my elementary kids. They spend their recess time playing outside, and they like to be warm (mom win).

The second discussion about snow boots is a bit more challenging. For my middle and high school kids, snow boots are out of the question. I don’t even try to start the conversation. They leave the house in their canvas shoes and thin socks and trudge through the snow. Oh well.

Surprisingly, I struggle to convince my elementary girls to wear snow boots. Even with just an inch or two of snow on the grass, I know their shoes and socks will get soaked after the first recess. They protest, “snow boots are hot and bulky.” And, “it’s hard to play in boots during recess and P.E.”

After the last snow storm, I “won” the discussion, and both the girls left the house in snow boots. That particular day it warmed up and all the snow melted by lunch time. It was also the day of the school P.E. jump rope competition. My daughter came home with hot feet, a poor jumping score, and angrily vowed to never wear snow boots to school again.

To sum up my morning, none of my kids went to school with coats or snow boots today (it’s currently snowing with four inches on the ground).

The struggle is real.

Do your kids wear snow boots or coats on snowy days? What are winter mornings like in your house? Email me at [email protected]

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What I learned from Advanced Opportunities night

February 12, 2019

Last week my freshman daughter and I went to an “Advanced Opportunities Night” held at the high school. Neither one of us was eager to go, but I thought the information might be useful for my daughter and for fellow parents.

The cafeteria was packed full of parents and kids who looked as excited to be at the high school in the evening as my daughter and I were. The presentation started with a video explaining honors, AP, concurrent credit, career and technical education and Boise State University’s Sophomore Start and AA program. If you’d like to watch it, here’s a link to the video (it’s nine minutes long, so grab your teenager and some popcorn).

If watching YouTube videos is not your favorite; here are my notes from the evening:

Honors — These classes are accelerated and deeper than regular classes (geared toward the top 10 percent). There are no college credits awarded.

Advanced Placement (AP) — These are very rigorous classes. At the end of the course the student can be awarded college credit, depending on their test score. If they pass the tests, they do not have to take that course in college.

Concurrent CreditThese are college level courses (usually from BSU or the College of Western Idaho) taught at the high school by a certified teacher. The grade received in the course is the grade that will be on the college transcript. Some out-of-state colleges may not accept all the concurrent credits.

Career & Technical Education (CTE)These classes offer specific technical training in a variety of fields like computer programming, welding, plant science, early childhood education, culinary arts, animal sciences and more. Most of these classes need to be taken at a specific high school. In the West Ada District, three high schools offer these courses; Renaissance, Meridian and Centennial. Here is a link, if you want to learn more about CTE programs.

International Baccalaureate (IB)These are two-year courses offered to juniors and seniors. Students study a specific subject matter in depth. Most colleges will give credits for IB classes. In Idaho, IB courses are only offered at North Star Charter, Renaissance High, Riverstone International, Sage International, Wood River High and Wood River Middle School. If you want to learn more about the IB program, click here.

Boise State Sophomore StartThis program is only offered to students in the West Ada and Nampa school districts. BSU works with each student and their advisor to create a degree plan that will help them earn 30 college credits by the time they graduate. Students must have a 3.0 GPA (or higher), be a high school sophomore or junior, and have permission from a parent and school counselor. Some summer courses (taken online or at BSU) may be required. These courses are offered at a reduced rate of $65 per credit (vs. $350). Here is more information about the program.

Boise State Associate DegreeBSU also offers an AA Degree for students attending Eagle or Rocky Mountain high schools. The requirements for this program are the same as the Sophomore Start Program, but they require the student to complete 60 credits (vs. 30) prior to graduation. If your child is interested, you can read the details of the program here. This program could potentially save future college students over $40,000 (considering room and board expenses).

I know this is a lot of information (and you are probably wishing you watched the video instead), but it could make a big impact on your high schooler’s future education (and finances).

Are any of these programs offered at your high school?

Do you have a success story you would like to share? Contact me at [email protected]

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Have you ever joined your child for lunch at school?

February 12, 2019

Once a month, the middle school sends home a Subway lunch order form as a school fundraiser (they make $1 on every order). I like supporting the school and my son likes eating Subway for lunch — but mostly he likes not having to make his lunch that day.

To order the lunch, the students fill out a form and send in the money ($5). As I looked over the paper, I noticed a small statement at the bottom of the page; “If parents would like to order lunch, please print out additional forms and put your child’s name on the top.”

I was thrilled at the thought of joining my seventh grader for lunch! I informed my husband, and he too was thrilled. We immediately printed out two additional forms and marked the date on our calendar.

Our son was not so thrilled.

He has a lot of friends, but he does not hang out with them outside of school. He talks about them and they enjoy playing online games together, but I have never met any of them. I saw this lunch as an opportunity to meet his friends and enjoy a sandwich together.

As the lunch date approached, my husband and I got more and more excited and my son got more and more worried. He kept asking what we were going to wear and if we were really coming (my husband had offered to wear his high school letterman’s jacket).

We both showed up for lunch (in regular clothes) and had a great time. I met several of his friends, and by the end of lunch they were even willing to have their picture taken for this blog. It was fantastic.

I enjoyed it so much, I called my kids’ elementary and high schools to find out if parents could join their kids for lunch. Both schools allow parents to come for lunch, as long as they check in at the office first.

I think next week I’ll join my high school freshman for lunch. She is just as thrilled as her brother was.

Have you ever joined your child for lunch at school? Tell me about your experience at [email protected]

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What’s the right amount of screen time for you child?

January 31, 2019

I recently took all of my kids to the doctor for well-child check ups. The doctor had me fill out the usual paperwork, while my kids had their height, weight, ears and eyes checked. When the doctor asked me questions about my kids eating habits and physical activity, I felt like a pretty stellar mom, but then she asked me this:

“How much time do your kids spend in front of screens per day?”

I felt a pit in my stomach, and suddenly I felt like a bad mom.

I know that kids should not spend a lot of time plugged into their devices (phone, tablet, iPod, Xbox, Wii, computer, television, etc.), but there are so many good excuses for excessive screen time.

This is what my kids say: It’s winter. It’s cold outside. It gets dark really early. I’m worn out from a long day of school. I need my smartphone to communicate with my friends. There is nothing else to do. I have to use the computer to do my homework. I want to play Xbox with my friends.

My kids come up with a lot of reasons to be in front of a screen.

If it was just a kid problem, I think us moms (and dads) could handle it. My real problem, is me (the parent). I am worn out. I want to relax. I need to check my email, my text, my social media, etc. I am bored.

Unplugging is hard. It’s hard for all of us.

The doctor advised me to limit screen time to two hours (or less) per day (not including school assignments). The Mayo clinic and numerous other health websites also suggest the same.

Finding balance is a challenge, but it’s important. These retired educators agree, and have been visiting schools to talk to students about limiting their screen time.

My new goal is limiting screen time to two hours (or less) per day. There are a lot of days we don’t exceed two hours, but now I have a doctor’s excuse to unplug and turn it off. I think we will be spending more time at the public library, playing board games and cooking together.

How much time do your kids spend in front of a screen?

How about yourself?

What does your family do instead of screen time?

 

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Do you know what Idaho spends on education?

January 29, 2019

Before I started blogging for Idaho Education News, I was totally unaware of how much our government spent on education. I knew teachers salaries were low and schools were constantly pushing fundraisers, so I assumed education was underfunded.

While teachers may not make very much money and schools do need fundraisers, it is not because the government doesn’t spend money on education. Did you know that nearly half of Idaho’s budget goes towards education? Here is the breakdown from 2017-18;

2017 - 2018 Idaho Budget
2017 – 2018 Idaho Budget

It is also interesting to note that the average teacher salary in Idaho is $49,740 this year, up from $48,113 a year ago. (some teachers even make more than $60,000).

And here is how schools spend their money; Are you surprised by how much money goes towards education?

2017 - 2018 Idaho Public School Budget
2017 – 2018 Idaho Public School Budget
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What I’ve learned about ‘the talk’

January 23, 2019

My fifth grader came home with a permission slip for the infamous “growth and development” lesson … also known as the puberty talk. She asked me if she needed to go, not because she was embarrassed, but because she already knew about puberty and reproduction.

My daughter and I started talking about maturation years ago. In case you think I am some sort of progressive or modern parent, let me take a moment to clarify, I am not. I have learned and adapted my parenting style over the years, and she is benefiting from her place in the family as the sixth child.

With my oldest children, my husband and I avoided talking about puberty and sex. We said things like, “we’ll talk about that when you get older,” or “you don’t need to worry about things like that.” I wasn’t comfortable talking with my kids about puberty and sex. I wasn’t even comfortable saying the words “sex”, “period”, or “menstruation”. I finally agreed to talk to my kids about maturation the week before the school talked to my kids about it. As you can imagine, the conversation was awkward, filled with pauses and illusive descriptions. I’m not proud of how I handled the talks with my older kids, but I did learn from them.

I learned to answer questions, rather than avoid them. Any question, at any age.

I learned to teach and use the proper names for our body parts.

I learned that if I’m embarrassed, my kids will think that discussing our bodies is something to be ashamed of.

I learned to talk to my kids about gender and orientation.

Now my family talks openly about puberty, sexuality and reproduction. My kids know it is a safe place where they can ask anything and we are more than comfortable answering.

When do you talk to your kids about growth and development?

What do you wish you would have done differently (if anything)?

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What I learned after my daughter’s concussion

January 16, 2019

When my kids sign up for a school sport, I am bombarded with handouts explaining the dangers of concussions. I skim the information and move on. I hadn’t worried too much about the effects of a concussion, until the winter break.

My high school daughter was skiing with friends and fell and hit her head. She was wearing a helmet and goggles, but still managed to get a bloody nose. The fall didn’t knock her out, but left her dazed and surprised. She didn’t think it was a big deal and skied the rest of the way down the mountain.

The following morning, she tried to go about her day, but found it difficult to maintain her balance. She complained of a headache and light sensitivity. I suggested she lay down. Her headaches, sensitivity and a bit of nauseousness persisted for the next several days, but she managed the pain by taking naps, sitting in a dark quiet room, and minimizing her screen time.

After four days of resting, she went to school. She hoped she would be able to go to class and complete her assignments, but by lunch time, her head was throbbing and she called me to pick her up. After a doctor’s exam and CAT scan, I was assured she was recovering from a concussion. The doctor and I discussed her recovery and limited school attendance.

Here is what I learned; every concussion and recovery is different. The brain needs time to heal and overloading it with school work is not helpful. It’s important to protect the injured child while the brain heals.

So I did my mom duty and called the school. I wanted to make sure her academic advisor understood the situation. I explained her limited ability to attend class, take tests and complete assignments. The teachers were very understanding and agreed to pare back her work and assignments until she felt better.

My daughter’s recovery is slow, but improving. Thanks to understanding teachers, she is not overwhelmed with school work or assignments.

Concussions can be serious. If you worry that your child might have a concussion, here is a list of concussion symptoms and when to see a doctor.

Have your kids ever gotten a concussion?

Have you ever needed to talk to the school to modify your child’s school work to accommodate a recovery?

 

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Should parents pay for their child’s college expenses?

January 10, 2019

I grew up in a home where hard work and financial responsibility were very important.

My father started out as a high school teacher with a meager salary, while my mother stayed home with the kids. They didn’t make a lot, but because they were very careful with their money, we had a comfortable childhood. My parents believed in the importance of working and saving, and wanted to teach us the same principles. They did this by giving us multiple opportunities to work and save what we earned.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had held several jobs and had a few thousand dollars saved for college. My parents paid for a portion of my college expenses, but expected me to use my savings and work through college to cover the remainder of the costs.

Now that I am raising a family of my own, I have tried to teach my children some of those same principles. My kids all have chores and get paid for their work. My older kids have part-time jobs (when they are not in sports) and save their money in the bank.

Even with all of this working and saving, it is not enough to cover the cost of college (in-state or otherwise). In fact, when my second son applied to college last fall, the school’s financial aid department informed me of my “expected financial contribution” as the parent … well over $100,000!

Wow.

Unfortunately, we do not plan to contribute a half a million dollars towards his college education.

He plans on paying for college with his savings, some scholarships, some help from us (not in the six-figure range) and a job. If he works part time during school and full time during the summer, he might be able to avoid college debt.

Should parents be expected to pay for their children’s college expenses?

Shouldn’t parents be teaching their kids about financial responsibility?

It is bad to expect our kids to work and pay for their own college education?

What do you plan to contribute towards your children’s college (or other post secondary) education, if any?

Tell me what you think: [email protected]

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Resources for children who struggle over the holidays

December 19, 2018

I grew up in a safe and loving home.

My parents bought me clothes and food. They sent me to school and encouraged me. No one in my house was physically or verbally abused and no one abused drugs or alcohol.

Because my home was a safe place, I have been able to raise my children in a similar manner. They attend school and have goals of higher education and fulfilling careers.

Unfortunately, this is not true for many of the kids in Idaho.

Last year over 800 kids in the Treasure Valley were removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Their parents didn’t know how to provide a safe and loving environment because they themselves were probably not raised in a safe and loving home.

If we want education in Idaho to improve, we need to address children’s basic needs. Kids can’t learn if they are hungry or abused.

I wish I could open my home to all of the children who are hurting, but I can’t. So I will do my best to help, by providing a list of resources:

  • If you suspect child abuse, neglect or abandonment, report it. Here is a link to the numbers.
  • If you are worried about suicide, call the national suicide prevention hotline.
  • If you are looking for ways to help kids and families who struggle, consider volunteering your time at the Family Advocates. It offers free courses (and diapers) to parents and children who want to learn how to improve.
  • If you don’t have time to volunteer, you can donate clothing or household items to the Idaho Youth Ranch. It provides therapy to children who have dealt with trauma, abuse or neglect.

What other resources are available to kids who are struggling? Have any of these programs or organizations impacted your life? Tell me your story: [email protected]

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Gift ideas for teachers, bus drivers and coaches

December 13, 2018

The holiday season can be lovely and stressful.

Let me make it a little less stressful for you by sharing a list I compiled from brilliant parents all over Idaho. This is a list of the gifts they are getting for their kid’s teachers, bus drivers and coaches:

  • Immune-supporting herbs from Nature’s Sunshine, probably echinacea or elderberry.
  • Pampered Chef dip bowls and hot cocoa bowls.
  • A card with a personalized message.
  • Aveda hand cream. Even the travel size is a decent gift. A little goes a long way and teachers have dry hands from handling paper all day.
  • Gift cards, usually Target or a restaurant (I have my son ask what they like) and a handmade card.
  • Bath bombs.
  • doTERRA OnGuard rollerball, OnGuard spray, lip balm , and hand lotion.
  • Personalized tote bags and customized potholders with brownie mix and a silicone spoon inside.
  • Handmade bracelets, a Starbucks gift card, and a hand sanitizer in a pretty little tote.
  • Peppermint bark and hand sanitizer for their desks, in a cute canvas bag.
  • An iced sugar cookie (from a local bakery, in cute little individual boxes) + a $5 Dutch Bros. gift card.

Now that you have a good idea of what gifts to give, you can go and enjoy all of the lovely things about Christmas. My favorites include listening to holiday music as the snow falls, driving past rows of street lamps covered in white lights, and watching school concerts and plays (for some parents, these performances might fall under the ‘not-so-lovely’ category).

Happy holidays!

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Should parents be involved in their teen’s education?

December 11, 2018

I enjoy being involved in my children’s education, but I feel like my help and involvement at the high school level is not wanted.

During the elementary years, there are frequent opportunities for me (and other parents) to volunteer for holiday parties or help with classroom projects. In middle school, I have been able to volunteer for career day and mock job interviews.

My kid’s high school, on the other hand, does not ask for parent interaction. It’s almost like the teachers and staff want parents to stay out of their way. The school and booster clubs happily take my money for sports or fundraisers, but parent involvement in the classroom is not suggested.

Is this evolution of student independence good for our kids, or should parents be more involved?

I decided to ask a few parents to see what they thought. Here are some of their responses:

“Before we moved here I was a high school teacher. As a teacher it was a fine balance between helping students gain independence and involving parents. Personally, as both a parent and a teacher, I don’t feel parent involvement IN the classroom is appropriate. However, I do think parents should and can be involved in other ways for school activities and more behind the scenes things like office help.”

“(There is) nothing natural about parents being cut out of any part of their children’s upbringing. YOU know your child best… YOU are the one responsible for what they are being taught… how their little (or bigger) minds are formed. There is no time that a child needs you more emotional/mentally than the teen years.”

“I think parents should be involved through every level of schooling, however, my understanding is the schools try to promote independence and it’s difficult to do that with the parents standing by. Having said that, if your child is involved in a sport or other extra curricular activity, parental involvement seems to be higher and encouraged.”

“ I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by our high school. Our principal, Benjamin Merrill, is fantastic and really loves to involve parents and the community. Follow him on Facebook and you’ll get a little bit of the feel of the culture he tries to create”

Do you think parents should be more involved at the high school, or is it good to take a step back and let the teachers and students do their thing?

Send me your thoughts at [email protected]

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