Thursday, July 26, 2012

Parental expectations are key to a child’s success in school.

Charter Schools, schools that are publically funded but independently managed, are often a lightening rod in the perennial debate on how to provide quality education for all children, regardless of race and economics. To shed some light on the issues, I recommend two recent articles from The Economist. and

I believe that all schools need to embody the importance of teachers having a good amount of autonomy, which empowers them to be more committed and creative teachers. My concern is that the debate between Charter versus Pubic often over shadows the necessity of parental involvement in their child’s education. Teachers need strong support from parents.

A survey conducted by the Michigan Department of Education found that more than budgets or teachers, parents are the reason children perform as they do in school, and the most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parental expectations. A recent study also pointed to the need for parental engagement in creating a home environment that encourages learning and the necessity of their involvement in a child’s education.

The winning scenario combines parent engagement, high expectations and teachers having the conditions they deserve and need to be innovative, passionate and dedicated teachers. The facts show that parental engagement and good teachers make for good students.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Words Have Power

A recent article in the WSJ, ‘Taco Bell’s Canon” 
noted that students who don’t read sometimes have hilarious notions of how the written language represents what they hear.  Here are a few examples of how words are erroneously used by some of these students. 

~ One guy admitted that he had trouble getting into "the proper frame of mime" for an 8 a.m. class.
~ One student blamed "inclimate weather" for his failure to come to class, admitting that it was a "poultry excuse."
~ One student owned up to doing "halfhazard work."
~ Another student admitted that he wasn't smart enough to go to an "Ivory League school."
~ A female student, in describing an argument over her roommate's smelling up their room with cheap perfume, referred to getting in her "two scents' worth."
~ After several weeks at school, one coed returned to her childhood house only to find life there "homedrum."
~ One girl said she resented being "taken for granite" by her boyfriend.

You couldn’t make this up.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Diane highlights how reading encourages empathy in the St Helena Star

In a recent article on “Literary Leisure”  St Helena Star, Diane spoke of how
stories encourage a person to step inside the shoes of another person. Literature stirs our emotions and makes us feel — in attempting to understand anyone, empathy counts for much.”

Friday, July 6, 2012

Children need a dose of Dr. Seuss & Dr. Einstein

Giving children down time is akin to giving children the good nutrition they need to grow and thrive.

The Fourth of July signifies summer is here. For so many families, unstructured time and lazy summer days are a fantasy. Children today are more over scheduled than ever before and the end of the school year brings no relief. Often, summer is seen as a time to increase a child’s activities. A recent article, The ‘Busy’ Trap speaks to some of the hazards of busyness.  “ Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”
Getting lost in a book transports a child to a world of dreams and inventiveness. For example, Dr. Seuss was a botanist and zoologist of the first rank. Never mind that the flora and fauna he described were imaginary. A child headed for a career in science could do very well starting with the plants and animals that populate the books of the madcap master of biology.

Albert Einstein wrote: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” At first, this might seem a strange thought as it applies to science. We are frequently asked to believe that science takes mystery out of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mystery invites curiosity. Unless we perceive the world as mysterious, we shall never be curious about what makes the world tick.” 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Diane speaks to “ How to Raise a Reader” in NewParent Magazine

Reading to your child regularly may be one of the most important things you can do to ensure his future educational (and life!) This sounds good on paper, but how do you sell a kid on the concept of reading when there are so many other fun things to do, like rearranging your kitchen cabinets, bouncing on your bed and watching Elmo? We asked the experts to share their best strategies.