Today our nation faces many crises- economic, environmental, cultural, educational, political, and health. But the civic education crises is one that poses the greatest threat to the ability for Americans to function as a stable and free republic. According to the Nation’s Report Card (2014), more than 75% of 8th grade students were not proficient in civics. More than seventy-five percent! That's a lot of civic ignorance we've let slide. These are future doctors, lawyers, politicians, garbage collectors, pharmacists, CEOs, teachers, parents, family members, neighbors, and friends who have no clue how our system of government works. That's a frightening statistic. But why does it even matter?
As you rummage through your child's backpack you may come across a humble flyer asking you to join your school's PTA/PTO. Don't ignore it. Don't throw it in the trash. Pay the membership fee or donate to the fund and join.
The PTA/PTO is an important advocacy wing of the school. An active parents association lets the teachers, the principal, the board of education, and the county know that parents are actively paying attention and are engaged in the decisions that affect the education of the students in your school. It's important that those involved in educating our children understand that partnership opportunities with parents are available. We can't expect a school to do everything while we parents observe, active partnership and participation can take a school to the next level.
I get it... you work, or there's no time, or there's some other excuse why you "just can't". Consider this, someone is spending time and effort to make your child's experience better, why not make a small adjustment to assist in that process? Here are some tips to help you increase your participation by at least 10%.
My husband and I recently went out for a karaoke night with some friends. I was super stoked that he asked me because I'd never been to a karaoke club and I'm a person who is totally in love with the idea of getting up on a stage and being a rockstar for a night (and then returning to your boring life).
Going out together is an important bonding opportunity that sometimes ends in failure for us. Outings with talking are awkward between us because we truly are very different people. Like polar opposites in more ways than maybe you should be with a soulmate. There have been many nights that ended in a silent, angry car or train ride home. We've learned to stick with concerts and movies… but I'm proud of us. We sang one song together and it turned out to be one hell of a night. Karaoke may end up in the rotation of our date night possibilities. If you're curious you can check out part of our performance here.
What made the night so much fun? Why did we as two very different people give it a go in front of a bar full of strangers? I guess I could ask that same question about our life journey… Maybe there's something about our attitude toward karaoke that can be applied to our individual and joint life experiences. Karaoke takes courage. Life takes courage.
I came up with this list of qualities to help you (and us) win at both:
At night I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about the education my children receive. Thinking about their future sends a twinge of cold fear up my spine. Why did I move my kids from the semi-urban neighborhood where we owned our home to rent where we go to school now? My brain sings the answer to me as a well-tuned black church choir of 100 harmonic souls: “the zip code”. Fortunately for me our pocket of this zip code is one of the most uniquely diverse places I've ever lived in culturally and socioeconomically. My kids lucked out on not being the token in their culturally international classrooms. This isn’t a typical experience for many kids whose parents did the same thing as I did. Many “token” kids grow up as unwanted guests in their schools or grow up defending and rejecting a perceived notion about their personhood or culture all in the name of getting a “better education”.
I've sat through my share of panels, read scholarly articles, and have spoken with many parents of color, specifically black parents, who see access to “the best” schools and “the best” opportunities as a synonym for white. I've often corrected my friends and peers on this notion. The notion that even in 2017, you are programmed to see white as “the best”. But is it “the best”? I think we need to see “the best schools”, “the best opportunities”, and economically stable whiteness, as well funded, carefully cultivated, and wholeheartedly supported, in ways that black, brown, yellow and, yes even poor white, schools and communities are not.
Summer is a time to refresh our minds, bodies and spirits. We love soaking up the sun, catching up with friends, going off to camp, enjoying time with family, and trips to the beach. But with the kids out of the school day routine, how can parents ensure that the first month back to school in the Fall isn't a total bust?
The summer is a great time to encourage learning and exploration without hitting kids over the head with more paperwork. Depending heavily on worksheets and workbooks for hours on end during summer break may not be the best strategy for igniting an inquisitive mind. From my experience, workbooks and worksheets have their place and are a great resource when paired with hands on experiential learning and creative, crafty activities.
To ensure that this summer is not only fun, but meaningful and full of learning for your K12 child, here's a parent summer checklist:
If you get a couple of these activities accomplished this summer, your kid will have learned some valuable lessons about themselves without even knowing they learned something! Remember safety first, but any activity can be modified to meet the age and maturity level of your child. We wish you all the fun this summer! Share your adventures or even your suggestions for adventures in the comments!
Once upon a time I had a 3 year old, a two year old, and a new born. There was nothing else I could think about. It was a time filled with present mindedness because some sort of emergency was always happening; or some basic human need was always being met (by me). Lacking rest and recuperation, I often felt myself dragging through the days and nights, blurring calendar edges as if there were no end to the monotonous routine of a "newish" mom. It was in these times when I used all of my free moments to fantasize about the future. A future filled with eight and nine year olds...
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about death. Not in an “I want to die” kind of way, but moreover in an “I’m going to die” kind of way. Coming up on 35 means that if I live to 70, I’m half way through the race and I need to begin thinking about the sprint toward the finish. What legacy am I leaving behind? What will my children inherit? Will my life insurance policy kick in… the one that I put in the mail right before stepping on a plane and promising my husband that I’ll be back to ensure I make at least a few payments… (I did that by the way, I filled out a life insurance policy and then got on a plane, confidently like a boss).
Yeh I recall those days. I work from home and last year my kindergartener was at home with me. She lived for the weekly interruption of a video or phone conference meeting. That was her 15 seconds of fame. It had gotten to a point where I thought I was going to get fired. I wasn’t. My job was very understanding of my work-life reality. #thankful
Waking up to the viral clip of Professor Kelly attempting to “keep it together” while a visibly happy child comes to destroy his media moment, was the most reassuring image of “we are literally all the same”. Humanity still exists in the world and toddlers literally give no F’s. (Mind you, this beautiful moment was also further sprinkled with the bonus material of a baby in a walker and a mom dragging kids frantically out of the background in an attempt to ameliorate the situation…)
Kelly’s home life spilling into our desire to hear the news, was a solid reminder that parents can never separate themselves from being a parent. And good parents realize this. No matter how important you are, your kids see you as the love of their life, as their caregiver, and as their provider. It’s super clear that the professor’s toddler loves him and just wanted to share that love with the rest of us.
My second grader was having sleeping problems. She wasn't really getting any good REM sleep in my opinion, which left her cranky and unbearable for several days. I couldn't take all the pushback and the crying. It was getting out of hand.
“Mom, I don't feel well. My stomach hurts”, she said.
Her face looked pale but I could tell she could still go to school if I really pushed.
I sent her to do the regular- go to the bathroom, drink some water, have a piece of toast… wait a bit. She was persistent.
“Do you have any tests? Any big projects?”
“No. Can I please stay home?”
I've had 3 in diapers. Let's just say, I know how to help make it all easier...