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

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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How do you talk to your kids about vehicle safety?

December 6, 2018

My husband and I regularly talk to our kids about safe driving. We discuss driver responsibility, different road conditions, and influential teenage passengers. Most of the time my kids find this discussion unnecessary and annoying, but last week they realized why it is such an important topic.

Two separate car accidents in the high school parking lot sent students to the hospital.  Both accidents involved teenage drivers. Both were very traumatic. Not only did the accidents cause physical pain, but the young drivers were also affected by the trauma of the accidents.

Accidents can happen anywhere. I called Mountain View High School, the largest high school in the state, to ask about their accident rate and preventive measures. I spoke with an administrator who told me there was only one accident (with injuries) last year. He said schools do their best to design parking lots to allow traffic flow while also minimizing the ability to speed.

Maybe we have to accept that accidents are inherent when hundreds of teenage drivers are flowing in and out of a school parking lot daily. Hopefully kids and parents alike, can learn from accidents like these. We spent time talking with our kids about responsible driving and safety. We also spoke to them about being aware of their surroundings and being a good passenger.

How do you talk to your kids about vehicle safety?

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Teachers everywhere, thank you

November 26, 2018

Thanksgiving was a busy week. I had all my kids at home, including two from college. We spent a lot of time cooking, cleaning and playing games (which caused a few fights). Now that everyone is back at school and the house is quiet, I want to share my thanks.

I am grateful for the many educators and administrators who devote their life to teaching. From kindergarten through 12th grade, each one of my children will have been taught by over 50 different teachers. It will take more than 350 different teachers just to teach my family!

From parents everywhere, I want to say thank you to the teachers. Thank you for choosing to become a teacher. Thank you for recognizing the value of education. Thank you for understanding the importance of one student. Thank you for having patience with grouchy teenagers, loud middle schoolers and distracted elementary kids. Thank you for shaping young minds and helping children succeed in life.

Here are some of the wonderful things you have taught my kids;

  1. The importance of filling each other’s bucket. Acts of kindness are like drops in a bucket. Filling other people’s bucket brings happiness.
  2. How to jump ‘double dutch’ and how to play clapping games at recess. We all need recess, exercise and fun games with friends.
  3. Idaho history; I didn’t grow up here, but thanks to all of the fifth-grade teachers, my kids and I know a lot about the Mountain Bluebird and the Hagerman Horse.
  4. How to play the French horn. I never would have taught my son that!
  5. How to write a persuasive paragraph (it almost convinced me to bring home a puppy).
  6. Life skills, like how to write a resume and interview for a job.
  7. Making Military History class fun, by letting the students make their own cardboard armor.
  8. How to learn and grow from failure, even if it’s a fourth-grade spelling test.

Teachers everywhere, thank you.

What are some of the important/fun things your kids have learned from their teachers?

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Do you think security systems deter school shootings?

November 15, 2018

I called the high school to have my daughter excused for a dentist appointment. She was supposed to meet me in front of the school after lunch, but unfortunately, I was running late. By the time I got to the school, lunch had ended, and she had gone back to class.

I knew my daughter was not allowed to check her phone in class, so texting her wouldn’t help. I had to park and go into the office, so I could call her out of class.

Walking to the building, I remembered the school had recently installed a security system. All exterior school doors were locked and could only be opened with a school identification card (worn by all students and staff, on a lanyard around their necks).

I, of course, didn’t have a student ID card, so I couldn’t open the door. I waved my hands around, hoping someone inside would see me and open the door. Someone eventually did, and I was able to get into the office and get my daughter.

I’m glad the school has increased security. But what about the parents? How are we supposed to get into the building? I called the school to ask, and they informed me of the buzzer outside, I had missed. Parents, or anyone without a school ID, can use the buzzer to request entry.

School security is very important. I wanted to understand what the district was doing to increase security, so I called and spoke with Geoff Stands, a West Ada School District regional director. He told me the district began installing security systems last spring, due to the rise of national school shootings. They planned to install security systems in all of the elementary schools first, because they were less expensive (fewer exterior doors) and had minimal security. They decided to change their focus to the high schools after noting the multiple incidences of non-students walking into high schools. The security systems cost nearly $100,000 per high school and are paid for from the building maintenance funds. West Ada hopes to have security measures installed in every school in the district by the end of 2020.

With all the time and money spent on security systems, I have to ask; do these security measures protect our kids, or are they a large cost with little gain? If a majority of school shooters were students at the school (Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Columbine, Red Lake and Santa Fe High School, to name a few), locked doors wouldn’t prevent a shooting. You can read the list of school shootings in the United States here.

The Washington Post published this article about school shootings and increased security measures. After questioning 34 schools who had experienced shootings, most of them said there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the shootings.

Does your school have a security system? Do you think security systems deter school shootings? What security measures would you like to see at your school?

Tell me what you think: [email protected]

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Scammers — a lesson I forgot to teach my kids

November 8, 2018

There are a lot of things we need to teach our children before they grow up and leave home. With two young adults in college, I thought I had been doing a pretty good job.

When my son called me last week, I realized one lesson I forgot to teach my kids — how to spot scammers.

Scammers have been around forever. They tell you a creative story and then offer something that seems too good to be true.

When I was younger, it was a Nigerian Prince who contacted me. He wanted to flee the country and needed someone to help him move his excessive royal funds into the United States. In exchange for helping him, he offered to pay a large sum of money. Fortunately, I didn’t believe his story or give him any money.

My son was not contacted by a Nigerian Prince. He was contacted by a potential employer.

My son had been looking for jobs, and filling out applications online. When he received an email offering him a job as a personal assistant, he was intrigued.

He agreed to take the job, and this is what he was told:

FIRST TASK

First on the list is the orphanage home donation which I usually do every month, I do make donations to 3 orphanage home every month, You ought to help me purchase some toys and other items which will be donated to the orphanage home. I contacted the orphanage home for the list of toys needed. The toys are so many and it will cost much money and stress to get them shipped. Therefore, We have reached an accord, they will be getting the items themselves.”

The “employer” went on to describe how she would be sending my son a check to cover the donation costs. His job was to wire the money to the “orphanages.” He deposited the check ($1,600) and waited until the next day to wire the money (only $1,400 because he was being “paid” $200 for his work).

I’m sure you know how this played out.

A few days later, the bank contacted him to say that the check had bounced. The money he had wired, had all come from his personal savings. He contacted the police, the wire transfer company and the bank, all with no success. He had just been scammed, and lost over $1,400. Ouch.

I wish I could make his savings reappear, but I can’t. All I can do is help other kids (mine and yours), avoid losing their money to scammers. Here are a few signs to looks for;

  1. Bad spelling and grammar (the above paragraph is full of them).
  2. A quick and easy way to make money (he was offered $200 to make two wire transfers).
  3. Lottery winnings, prize money, shipping fees, or overdue balances from companies you do not use.
  4. Anytime someone asks you to send or wire money.

Have you talked to your kids about scammers? Help them avoid the pain and loss that scammers can cause.  

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Wear your sticker with pride

November 2, 2018

If you have kids in school, especially in high school, this election should be very important to you. Here’s why:

Our vote this Tuesday will determine the next governor and state superintendent. These two elected officials will lead our kids’ schools for the next four years.

The governor we vote for, will be someone new. He or she will have the potential to affect great change throughout the state. The governor will recommend how the state spends its $1.8 billion dollar education budget. Take some time to research the candidates. Who do you want to lead our state as governor?

The position of state superintendent is also up for election. If you do not like how education is run in Idaho, this is your chance to make a change. If you like the direction education is headed, you can vote to support the incumbent.

In 2014, the superintendent’s race was so close, that it was determined by less than 2 percent of the vote, or less than 5,600 votes. This election has the potential to be just as close. This is your opportunity to do a little research and make an informed decision.

Our kids deserve parents who take the time to be informed voters. Our kids deserve leaders who will make the best decisions for their education.

Let’s make this vote count … for our kids.

Vote this Tuesday, and wear your sticker with pride.

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Do your kids get enough sleep?

October 30, 2018

I’m considering moving to Blackfoot. Not for work, or because the weather is better, but because my whole family could sleep in 30 minutes, every school day.

Trustees in the Blackfoot School District are considering moving school start times ahead by 30 minutes, potentially giving students (and parents!) an extra half hour to sleep.

I don’t know who came up with this brilliant idea (besides every teenager, ever), but I am thrilled to see a school district willing to make the change. Blackfoot is not the only district trying to get their students more sleep. Oakland County Michigan school district moved it’s start times ahead by 40 minutes to increase student achievement. California has also been trying help it’s students by working to pass a bill that would require all high schools to wait until 8:30 am to start.

More sleep is good.

The CDC recommends that kids, ages 13-18, should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night That’s one to three hours more than adults. When kids regularly fail to get sufficient sleep they have a “higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.” The CDC estimates that over 70 percent of teenagers do not get enough sleep.

My teenagers are part of that 70 percent. They do not get enough sleep. They wake up before 7 a.m. and don’t get home until after 6 p.m. (due to school sports). It is after 10:30 p.m. by the time they eat dinner, shower and do their homework. Sometimes they are up even later, if they have a sporting event or exam to study for.

I am exhausted for them.

Do your kids get enough sleep? Maybe we should all move to Blackfoot.

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What do you expect from parent/teacher conferences?

October 30, 2018

Last week I attended parent/teacher conferences. I find these conferences valuable, but I’m not sure the teachers understand what parents want to hear.

When I arrived for the middle school parent/teacher conferences, I went into the cafeteria to meet with my son’s teachers. Some teachers had short lines with only one or two parents waiting, while others had a line running to the center of the cafeteria.

I don’t like waiting in long lines, so I began with the teachers with the shortest lines. It was easy to see why their meetings with parents went quickly.

These teachers were able to:

  • Quickly access the student’s grades.
  • Identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Share one or two things their class had already learned.
  • Share an upcoming project or subject matter.
  • Suggest ways for my student to improve.
  • Ask me (the parent) if I had questions.

After waiting in a really long line, I was finally able to met with the fourth period teacher. I understood right away, why the lines had been so long.

Things I didn’t need to hear at parent/teacher conference:

  • How the teacher decided to grade each assignment.
  • The details and rubrics of each project.
  • The course syllabus.

I’m sure this kind of information is useful to some parents, but most of this information was handed out at the beginning of the school year. I can check my kids’ grades online. I can see the rubrics and grading scale for assignments that are sent home. I am not meeting with the teacher to understand how the class is run and how he/she formats the grade book.

When I attend a parent/teacher conference, I want to learn:

  • How my child is performing in class.
  • If my child is attentive, engaged, involved and learning.
  • If my child is doing well, or struggling.
  • Suggestions how I can support my child’s education at home.

What do you expect from parent/teacher conferences?

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Idaho asks for parent feedback

October 21, 2018

It’s not everyday that we are given the opportunity to survey a survey.

That’s right. The State Department of Education has created a survey for parents and educators and now they are giving us a chance to review the survey and share our opinion, before the survey questions are finalized (October 26).

The survey questions were created by a committee of administrators, parents, teachers and board members in an effort to better understand how parents and school staff members feel about their local schools. The parent questions focus on school leadership, school resources and support, and the school’s learning environment. The survey for staff members asks questions about the school’s mission and leadership, how the school is governed and operated, school resources and support, teacher expectations, and how the school supports the staff.

These surveys have the opportunity to be informative and helpful, if the right questions are asked. I wanted to see the questions and voice my opinion, so I surveyed the survey.

If you are interested in voicing your opinion about the upcoming parent survey, you can find survey questions here, along with an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions.

If you are interested in the survey created for educators and staff members, you can find those survey questions and give feedback, here.

Happy surveying!  Let me know what you think: [email protected]

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Do you enjoy parenting?

October 18, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a speech given by the principal of Columbine High School, Frank DeAngelis. As he recounted his experience of the massacre that occurred at his school in 1999, the audience sat in somber silence.

On April 20, Columbine High School was attacked by two seniors who attended the school. They had planned to kill students, staff, and emergency workers using bombs and guns. Their bombs failed to detonate, so the pair used multiple guns and ammunition. They murdered 12 students, one teacher and injured 21 others, before committing suicide.

After explaining the details of the massacre, Frank shared facts about the gunmen and common misconceptions of school shooters. He said the two seniors were outstanding students, with good grades and an active social life. They were in AP classes, accepted to college and even went to prom the weekend before the shooting. They were not prone to violence or behavioral problems at school and they were well liked.

Frank DeAngelis explained, although the parents were not at fault, they both never entered their sons’ bedrooms. The parents told police, their sons would not allow them to enter their rooms. The parents were even hesitant to go into their bedrooms after the shooting.

*Note to parents: be present in your children’s lives. Go into their rooms. Talk with them in their space. Ask them questions about their passions, hopes, dreams and fears.

Next, Frank spoke about dealing with trauma. He said, life does not go back to “normal” after a traumatic event. One of the most important ways to heal from trauma, Frank explained, is to find a support system. After the shooting, he (and the entire staff) continued to work at the school, to provide stability to the students and community. As principal, he spent countless hours encouraging staff, students and families to seek counseling. Counseling for emotional trauma, Frank explained, was like going to the dentist for a cavity. There are times when we need help from a professional.

*Note to parents: Don’t be afraid to seek support. Parenting is hard. Being a kid can be hard. I have been to counseling. I have taken my children to counseling. There is not shame in needing and seeking help.

Frank DeAngelis ended his speech, by talking about the immense positive impact educators can have on their students. He encouraged teachers to “choose a job you love and are passionate about, because students can tell if their teacher doesn’t enjoy their job.”

*Note to parents: Do you enjoy parenting? How do you show your kids that you love your “job”?

Today, I plan to show my children how much I love them by jumping on the trampoline together.

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Let’s talk to our kids about voting

October 15, 2018

On Tuesday, Nov.6, we have the opportunity to share our voice and be involved in politics.

I will be voting with an absentee ballot. Not because I will be out of town, but because I want to take my time. I want to know the candidates. I want to understand the propositions (there are two on the ballot). I want my kids to see the ballot and understand the importance of voting.

I love having the right to vote. I love teaching my kids about the importance of voting. l want them to understand voting is my opportunity to share the responsibility of how our local and national government is run.

Do you have kids who are 18 or older? Have you showed them how to register to vote? Have you explained the importance of voting?

If you have trouble getting your adult kids interested in voting, show them this post by Taylor Swift. She spoke of the importance of voting and encouraged young voters (18 year-olds) to register to vote. Likely because of her post, over 100,000 new voters registered to vote in Tennessee.

If they don’t like Taylor Swift, you can show them this YouTube song, called “A Scary Time”, or this Time article that lists 30 celebrities who encourage people to get out and vote. Voting is important. Voting is cool.

Do you talk to your kids about voting? What ideas do you have to encourage more people to vote?

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