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

How do you feel about the new SAT adversity score?

June 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

How do you feel about the new SAT adversity score?

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

May 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Thank you teachers for helping me keep my children safe

May 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Take your kids to Warhawk Air Museum

May 17, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Did you take your school’s survey?

May 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I was shocked at the cost to play high school football

May 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mountain View High School website lists some player fees:

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

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

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

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

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Parents: Are you taking the survey?

April 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Did your school notify you of the survey?

Have you taken it?

 

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I am committed to learning more about technology

April 18, 2019

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me what you think, [email protected] 

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

April 5, 2019

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

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

Maybe, but maybe not.

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

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

My 12-year-old loves:

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

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

My 17-year-old watches:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What do you do with sick kids?

April 2, 2019

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

Having a sick kid leaves me with three options:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do when your kids are sick?

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What are your children’s educational accomplishments?

March 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Talking about suicide reduces the risk

March 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

Facts about suicide:

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

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

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

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

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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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