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From One to One Hundred, There Can Only be One

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A few evenings ago I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning following (and sometimes participating) in a heated debate about this one subject:

math 20This math problem.

It’s not as widely contested as February’s argument on whether a dress was white and gold or blue and black but for my group the conversation hit high responses in short amount of time which says a lot for math problem because you know Americans don’t excel in arithmetic.

order of confusionIn a matter of hours the responses exceeded well over 400 (quite a few of theIf m mine) with people arguing over the Order of Operations.

“PEMDAS!” said the people who got the answer of one.

“PEMDAS!” said the people who got the answer of one hundred.

People began writing dissertations on the origin of mathematics and invoking Copernicus to underscore their answer until finally a few started seeing it as a trick to convince us there is real answer and that things like this was a waste of time to ruminate upon.

Folks came on and announced they were math teachers, engineers, math doctorates and that should bolster their answer. They all had different answers

But I had to wonder why were there so many differing answers when, allegedly, we were all using the same method.

Some used PEMDAS and added 5+5 and then multiplied that by 2 before dividing that answer by 20.

Some used PEMDAS and added 5+5 and then went back to the beginning (the left of the equation) and divided by 2 then multiplied the 10.

Everyone claimed the other person was wrong and although they refrained from ad hominem attacks they veered pretty close.

Decades ago we asked why Johnny can’t read but can Johnny even add, multiply, divide or subtract? Does Johnny understand fractions so he can divide a pumpkin pie correctly among his friends or figure out what percentage of 15% of 9.99 is so he knows whether he’s getting a good deal on those Yu-Gi-Oh cards he wants so badly.

But there are calculators now so who needs to know math, right?

Well, the Google scientific calculator gives you this answer:

google calculator

And another scientific calculator will give you this answer:

another calc

So who is right? Are the computers trying to confound us and once they start their revolution we will instantly cave because we are so slow with numbers we need their help for simple multiplication?

“Siri, what is 9X9?”

“Am I your lord and master?”

“Yes, you are. Can I have the answer now?”

It is odd that I should be the one making this query and was so drawn to the debate because as a child I loathed math.

Math and I started out fine; I loved to add and subtract. I was jamming to School House Rocks songs on multiplication.I wanted to be a scientist as a kid (well, scientist-actress-writer-journalist). But I came from a generation where the teachers disparaged you from using visual aids and I always needed to see it. I needed to draw them out, count them out because that’s how it was for me so by the time I hit fractions it gave me anxiety. Then in 6th grade it was Mrs. Patricia “I Got My Education” Campbell who had no patience to teach us pre-algebra although it was her job. If we didn’t understand her or if we talked too much in class or if we didn’t turn in our homework her response always was, “If you guys don’t learn it’s not on me; I got my education”.

By the time I got to junior high and discovered that math and science was linked my desire to learn math was shot. It took me years to come back to math and actually like it again. It was around that time I learned that those teaching math weren’t necessarily the people who liked numbers the best. The people who liked the manipulation of numbers and the dance of their forms went off into other careers which often didn’t include teaching.

Math, unlike reading, has strict rules. Writing has semi strict rules, for example people say you can’t end a sentence with a preposition but writers do it all the time. But math can be long and convoluted. You need to show your work and if everyone doesn’t come up with the same answer then you need to check it. In English class as long as you can infer your opinion to the text then your POV is just as good as anyone else’s even if it goes against the grain.

Which leads us back to what is the correct answer to the above equation. It can’t be one and one hundred. I guess we can try to figure it out by checking our work which is what my high school math teachers always harangued me to do.

How can that be done?

Well if you care let X stand for the initial 20. Yes, I know we already know of 20 but for this equation you will pretend as if you don’t know.

IMG_5197 IMG_5198

Only one of these problems will give us the answer of 20.

And the one that gives us 20 is the answer to the above equation. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Written by rentec

10 October, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Summer Learning Had Me A Blast

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089What are your children doing this summer? Working at an amusement park? Playing Red Rover until the street lights come on? Sitting on the couch playing endless hours of Call of Duty while on Tumblr or Facebook.

Or maybe you have a big family trip to take.

Or, like a lot of black families, to save money on daycare you are sending your children down south or up north to spend time with family.

Whatever plans you have for your children this summer, make sure that learning is a part of it.

In a few weeks articles will start popping up about “summer learning loss“.  The numbers vary, but it’s estimated that children lose a certain amount of knowledge during the summer break.  It falls under the maxim if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Instead, lets look at it a different way.

In our society, we treat summer education/enrichment as a punishment instead of a privilege.  Children who  to summer school are children who have struggled all year.  When told they must attend summer school to pass to the next grade come fall they are often made to feel lesser than other students and, of course, denied the summer break that other students.

This attitude towards learning helps to reinforce that being educated is something you must endure.  It’s not a journey or something fun to pursue.  Learning is a job and who likes a job.

So, at some schools, the good student isn’t immune to this disposition.  They just learn how to manage it better, get their work done and then are done with it.  So the summer is their long-awaited break where they won’t pick up a book or even do suggested workbook packages their teacher has assigned for them.

In the end, the child who did well in school that year isn’t doing much better if they don’t learn over the summer.

When my daughter was in grade school I realized this and I struggled to find summer enrichment programs for her.  We lived in the inner city in the 90s.  And many times it was hit and miss finding programs that was close to home.  I didnt’ have a car then, either.  We bussed it everywhere.  Sometimes we walked and it was hot.  But my persistence and resourcefulness has been a benefit to her.  Sometimes I learned about programs that wasn’t in her age range but I filed the information away and when I ran across someone who was looking for that program I was able to give them information.

So, what I have learned, I want to pass along to you.

Here are some ways to keep your child on their toes this summer.

1)  Talk to your child’s teacher or the school office.  Sometimes teachers are overwhelmed and they forget to pass along information for summer learning.  Sometimes your child might lose the paper, forget the paper, or throw paper away.  If you talk to the teacher he/she can be a resource of information that hasn’t been passed along to you.  Same for the school office.  They may not have dispensed the information to the teachers but they have been given information about local summer programs.  Ask them about it.

2) Check out the websites for local private/parochial schools or suburban schools.  Some private prep schools offer summer enrichment courses not just for their own students but for anyone who is willing to pay.  Ask them if they have scholarships available.

3) Colleges/Universities.  These are under utilized because many people think that it’s just for college age students or super geniuses, but they might offer different classes and programs for children and teenagers.  For teens, they might even earn college credit for some programs.  Again, don’t forget to ask if they offer scholarships or have programs that are free.

4) Local parks and museums.  You can find great science and art summer programs at your local parks and museums.  The summer my daughter was eight she took an astronomy class with the local park near our home and then an art class at the art museum.  Both classes were relatively cheap and on my limited income I was able to swing it.

5) Having fun isn’t hard if you got a library card.  Ok, I am partial to the library because I work there but it’s hard to beat not just for books but also for summer programs.  At my library we run a program called Brain Camp where each week children are introduced to new subjects. And best of all, it’s FREE!

6)  The book “Summer Program for Kids and Teenagers”.  If you are tired of having your child around the house then look for a current edition of the book I have above.  There are great programs in this book that you can send your child to.  Yeah, they are crazy expensive like Interlochen but a lot of them offer scholarships.  My favorite program is M.I.T.E.S. for budding young scientists.   And my apologies for not writing this article earlier because the deadline for a lot of the summer programs in the book was back in January/February but do what I do and file it away for next year.

If you think that I have forgotten a resource or if you know of one that is in your area please post it in the comments below.  And yes, your children will be irked by you for this and, if they are like my daughter, they will be outdone when you recruit the children of friends to also participate in the program.

And next time in “Urban Mama’s” I will discuss learning styles and what’s a mother to do?  Until then, keep learning.

Written by rentec

1 May, 2013 at 1:52 am

Big Ups to Santa Ono

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santaono_narFor the last few days I have meant to give out props to the new University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono.  Not just because he was officially installed as the 28th president and the first Asian American president of the University but for his recommendation of freezing tuition and selling the presidential condominium and using the proceeds to endow a student scholarship.  He has also said he will not accept a bonus or salary increase for the next two years.

“Now is the time for UC to send a clear and compelling message to the broader community that our university is firmly committed to keeping costs down for our students,” President Ono informed the board. “This commitment must start with me as president.”

As a mother of two college students, one who is attending UC and the other who will attend fall semester, all I have to say is thanks dude. My husband and our bank account seconds that.

Written by rentec

25 April, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Education for Profit

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Sometimes I must remember to keep my mouth shut.

I do.  But sometimes you don’t know until you get into the middle of a conversation where it’s headed and by then it was too late.

It began innocuously with a simple question, “Where will you be going to school this fall?

Montez smiled at me, happy to tell me what college he was going to attend.  He told me the name of the school but I didn’t recognize it.

“What school is that?” I asked thinking I didn’t hear the name right because it wasn’t a familiar one.  We looked the school up and it was a local school, established just a few years ago.  Price tag: 30,000. Montez’s intended major: art.

Montez also planned to live “on campus”; but the campus wasn’t traditional.  The college owned an apartment building and those who wanted to live there could apply for one.  Of course they would have to supply their own food.  Additional price for the apartment: 10,000.  We didn’t compute a food allowance.

“Did you get a scholarship?” I asked.

“I got my FAFSA,” he said.

We embark on a protracted conversation about how a FAFSA doesn’t award you money but tells you how much you will be getting from Pell and whatever state grants that are offered.  It also estimates how much you will take out in college loans.

It was right about then I noticed the look on his face begin to change.  What started off as a light and airy conversation now had him shuffling side to side and tightening his smile.

It also didn’t help that my coworker Mary was listening in on the conversation and because she kept jumping in.  Together, all three of us added up the cost of tuition: 80,000 for two years to obtain an associate degree.  We went to the Occupational Outlook Handbook and researched his intended career: starting pay was less than 40,000 a year.

“You don’t have to go there,” I said.  “There are other schools in the vicinity, there’s an Art School just around the corner from where we are now.”

Montez began swaying, mumbling that his mother was a retired police officer and they didn’t care about the cost of the money.  Besides he had already paid out 150 dollars for a college application fee.

“What the ffffff..!”  I stopped myself before finishing the statement.  We were both getting upset by then, me with the school and him –ok, he was getting upset with me for pointing it all out.

Because we are desperate to do research (hardly anyone asks us anymore) Mary had already had the tuition for a top tier ivy league college on her computer, showing him that the amount of money he was willing to pay  for a two years associate degree could pay to attend a four year out of state school for the same amount.  Or a second tier private institution.  We then looked up his intended major at local community colleges that he could attend for less money, showing him that he could get a similar degree for about a fourth of the price.

By then Montez’s smile was gone.  His eyes were sad and his body was stiff.  We broke him.  He got quiet and walked to the other side of the desk.

I turned to his friend Lawrence.  “Tell him we were wrong and he should go to this school.  Tell him we are sorry.”

“No,” Lawrence said.  “He’s my friend and he should hear this.”

I don’t think Montez was feeling the same way.

With more and more people attending for-profit colleges, consumers need to remember caveat emptor.

I know.  It’s not often that people think of themselves as consumers when it comes to education but that is exactly what we are.  Unfortunately, as with other retail businesses there is no recourse if the education purchased is sub par or an ill-fit (no returns) but that is a discussion for another post.  In today’s world the paradigm has shifted.  Years ago, before the rise of public education, grammar school as well as higher, was mostly obtained by the upper class; the lower classes were trying to maintain a life by, ahem, working.  So then, education was to learn how to think and to become more well-rounded; not necessarily to obtain jobs. There were apprenticeships for many occupations.   But for today education is the means to an end.  People go to college not because they are dying to read The Canterbury Tales or want to know more about electromagnetism.  People who are lower and middle class attend school to improve their lot in life. You wouldn’t buy a car for 35,000 that may or may not start from day-to-day, so why should we purchase an education that may or may not get us a job?

According to an article from Colorlines Magazine from Sept 2012, black and Hispanic students are choosing for profit schools over traditional schools for myriad reasons, but also because they are actively recruiting them.

The University of Phoenix opened its doors just under 50 years ago in 1976, but today it’s the largest institution of higher education in the nation. And despite federal regulations which have dampened enrollment numbers in the last year, it remains the top producer of African-American and combined student of color baccalaureates in the nation. In the 2010-2011 school year 5,393 students of color received college degrees from just the online division of the University of Phoenix, and 3,124 of those went to black students, according to a report by Victor Borden for “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.”

The second top producer of black baccalaureates for the 2010-2011 year was a for-profit university too—Ashford University graduated 2,124 African Americans in the same year, an increase of 84 percent since just the previous year. Those sorts of staggering gains for students of color in the for-profit industry have become the new normal in the world of higher education. In fact, when it comes to the four-year for-profit industry, black students have formed the backbone of the industry’s growth. Between just 2004 and 2010, black enrollment in four-year for-profit schools jumped a whopping 264 percent, at a rate which dwarfs black students’ 24 percent growth in enrollment in four-year public colleges during the same time period.

Are For-Profit Colleges the Answer for Black Students?  Monday, September 10 2012

As illustrated in my narrative up above, sometimes for profit colleges can run higher than traditional colleges.  In February, the Federal Government came out with a Score Card so you can shop and compare colleges.  They are still working out the potential earnings of graduates and, as NYT pointed out, the Score Card doesn’t take into consideration the financial aid package expensive colleges offer students to help fray the cost.

There is also the issue that students who attend for profit colleges are more likely to default on school loans than students at public and private institutions.

Thanks to Huffington Post for the graph.

So, in laying out that for profit schools might not be the best bang for the buck it is still up to each student to decide that a for profit school is for them.  The best thing about for profit schools is that it has helped to change the landscape of higher education by bringing in a lot of online classes, catering to students who are considered “non-traditional” (older students/working adults), and focusing more on the curriculum needed for graduation instead of getting people to take what many consider superfluous courses.

It’s been nearly a year since I saddened Montez with my inquisitiveness and I haven’t seen him, although I have heard that he is enjoying his Freshman year of school.  I just hope that when he graduates it’s all that he hoped for and more because if not, then don’t we all pay the price?

Next time we will look at summer learning.  What will your kids be doing under the sun?


Written by rentec

25 March, 2013 at 1:21 am

Can a Sugar Confection Predict Your Child’s Future

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Let’s say you are grocery shopping with your young child who is somewhere between the ages of 4 to 6.  Let’s call the child Isabel.    At checkout Isabel spies a package of Oreos in the cart and wants one.  You make Isabel a deal:  if she keeps whining you will give her one cookie now and that is it but if she stops whining and waits until you get home then she can have two cookies after lunch.

What choice will Isabel make; to take one cookie now or have two cookies later?  What choice would your child make?  And why does it matter, it’s just cookies, right?

Well, yes they are just cookies but these cookies show character.  And not just because they are fraking delicious and try to thwart my will when I say I want just one and end up eating half to ¾ of the package!

(Deep breath, back on track)

In 1972 psychologist Walter Mischel conducted The Marshmallow Test.  An assistant leads a child into an empty room that has only a marshmallow on a plate.  The assistant explained to the child that he/she could eat the marshmallow now but if he/she waited until the assistant returned then the child could have two marshmallows.

The temptation was great and you can see it as you watch the video.  Some kids turned their back to the marshmallow, some hid under the table to keep themselves from eating it.  And of course some gave in, either eating the marshmallow as soon as the door closed or giving into temptations a few minutes later.  Dr. Mischel wrote his paper and thought he was done but years later after running into the children who participated in the experiment her learned of the different fates of the children.  After a while he went home and compared the results to what he now knew about the children (Who was doing great in school?  Who was failing?  Who was on track to college?  Who had spent time in the penal system?)  Mischel discovered that the children who were rewarded with two marshmallows were doing well but those who only had one were struggling.

“It was really just idle dinnertime conversation,” he says. “I’d ask them, ‘How’s Jane? How’s Eric? How are they doing in school?’ ” Mischel began to notice a link between the children’s academic performance as teen-agers and their ability to wait for the second marshmallow. He asked his daughters to assess their friends academically on a scale of zero to five. Comparing these ratings with the original data set, he saw a correlation. “That’s when I realized I had to do this seriously,” he says. Starting in 1981, Mischel sent out a questionnaire to all the reachable parents, teachers, and academic advisers of the six hundred and fifty-three subjects who had participated in the marshmallow task, who were by then in high school. He asked about every trait he could think of, from their capacity to plan and think ahead to their ability to “cope well with problems” and get along with their peers. He also requested their S.A.T. scores.

The New Yorker: The Secret of Self-Control by Jonah Lehrer 18 May 2009

Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. Low delayers struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes  had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

The test measured children’s ability for self-control.  Children who could decide against instant gratification for a greater pay off later built up a very important character trait:  self-control.  It’s easy to see that a child should choose studying for a test over hanging out with friends but what about finishing up a paper over checking their email or practicing piano instead of watching hours of television?

Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania… grew interested in (delayed gratification) after working as a high-school math teacher. “For the most part, it was an incredibly frustrating experience,” she says. “I gradually became convinced that trying to teach a teen-ager algebra when they don’t have self-control is a pretty futile exercise.” And so, at the age of thirty-two, Duckworth decided to become a psychologist. One of her main research projects looked at the relationship between self-control and grade-point average. She found that the ability to delay gratification—eighth graders were given a choice between a dollar right away or two dollars the following week—was a far better predictor of academic performance than I.Q. She said that her study shows that “intelligence is really important, but it’s still not as important as self-control.”

The New Yorker: The Secret of Self-Control by Jonah Lehrer 18 May 2009

When Mischel gave the test to low children from low-income families he noticed that their delay of gratification was below average compared to children from higher income family because poor children might not have the chance to delay gratification as much.  Mischel said with learning mental tricks to help re-direct attention and controlling thoughts a person can change their course.

Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg, the founders of Knowledge is Power Program (K.I.P.P.) also believe that self-control is the key to academic success.  Self-control is one of the strengths in their list of 24 characteristics they try to cultivate in their students.  Even when children run into barriers or fail at a task they feel their character building approach to teaching will help their students.

Dominic Randolph, Headmaster of Riverdale Country School agrees with Levin and Feinberg.

“The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure,” Randolph explained. “And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.”

New York Times: “What if the Secret to Success is Failure” by Paul Tough 14 Sept 2011

So your child is smart and has capabilities, but is they able of foregoing what they want now for a greater pay-off later?

And what do you think?  Do you think self-control is an important trait for a strong academic student or do you feel that denying yourself (and your children) anything is un-American?

Next time in the Urban Mama’s Guide we will discuss for profit colleges: are they worth the money?

Written by rentec

2 August, 2012 at 12:20 am

The Urban Mama’s Guide to Helping Your Kids Through School and Beyond

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It’s the beginning of a new school year and you don’t know how happy I am that it’s finally here.  Not just because my kid is entering his last year of high school but because the children that come into the library will be heading back as well (Yay!). 

However, what I am not looking forward to are the ensuing statistics of how African American students are not doing as well in school as their non-black counterparts.  Immigrant black families also seem to be pulling ahead of us.  Yes, there are a lot of empathetic and bad teachers whose main goal is to pick up a paycheck whether your child learns or not, but that is not the topic of this post (although I will explore it in the future).  This post is for those who want their children to get the best out of whatever school they are in.  And these rules are not “middle class” values, either.   This is a list things that I, my family and  friends have employed to help make their children do well in school.

1) Leave your all your issues about your education in the past.  This is the most important one for many people and that’s why I made it the first one, although the rest of the list isn’t in hierarchical order.  I have family members who have regarded the education system with suspicion and with the first slight they are ready to fly off the handle at teachers and administration.  In the past, well when I was in school, a lot of the white teachers were harder on black students than they were on white students.  Growing up, people might have forgiven, but not forgotten which leads to residual feelings of resentment.  Don’t let your child be the inheritor of emotional education baggage and please don’t ever say, “Those schools don’t want to teach us, anyway.”

2) Develop a partnership with your child/ren’s teacher/teachers. Your first contact with the teacher should be in the first month of school, if not within the first week.  This person is spending more hours with your kid than you are during the day, don’t you want to know who they are?  You need to.  If your child is in high school things will be different since you have to coördinate meeting many different teachers so try to make it to the first open house and if you can’t send an email expressing your regret to each teacher and let them know you care about how your child learns.  For primary school, go in and introduce yourself.  If you work a lot and can’t be reached, let the teacher know that and who they can contact. Yes, it’s on the emergency sheet you filled out, but saying it to the teacher will stick out in her memory more than what she has to pull up.  It’s the first step in being an involved parent, even if you are a busy one.

3) Set bedtime, even through high school.  This is probably the hardest one to do because tired children are cranky; it seems when they don’t want to go to bed they get more wired so it’s easier to just let them pass out in front of the television.  Or maybe you work late and it’s hard to get children from the babysitter’s to home before 10 or 11 pm on public transportation.  You need to work something out, like maybe asking the babysitter to let them take a nap before you get there.    Growing children need sleep.  If they aren’t getting enough sleep chances are they are groggy and frustrated during the school day or falling asleep in class.  Teens need just as much sleep as younger kids but many don’t get it because of stimuli like social networking and texting (more on that in #10).  If the kids are at home at a proper hour but still can’t get to sleep then ask yourself why.  Do they have a lot of electronics in their bedroom that’s keeping them awake?  Or are they wired on sugar which brings us to number…

4) Cut back/eliminate sugar from the family’s diet.  Sugar is every where, even in places you wouldn’t expect.  There’s high fructose corn syrup in breads, drinks, diet bars, you name it.  We are a nation of sugar addicts, no wonder why diabetes is on the rise.   So, if your child is snacking on candy and chips everyday just think about all the sugar they are consuming.  I’m sure it’s more than the recommended daily allowance.  When I was growing up (yeah, I went there)  candy and dessert was a treat not part of the usual routine.  I am not a nutritionist, but something tells me the consumption of sugar may also be tied into the high numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD.   Add to it children are big couch potatoes and you have a group of wired sugar addicts.  Cut back on the sugar –even the fruit juices that are touted as healthy– and let kids snack on non processed whole foods like fruit and vegetables.  Prepackaged meals are also high in sugar and sodium so, when possible, cook large meals when you have the time so your family can eat that a few times a week.  Somethings will be hard, but do what you can to make sure your kids eat healthy.  At one time my baby sister works two jobs and has two sons.  Even on her regular job she worked odd hours.   Her youngest child is a sugar fiend and diagnosed with hyperactivity.   She keeps no sweets in the house, but of course he can get it on his own because his friends are overloaded with cookies, chips, and candy bars.  But she makes sure she doesn’t add to his sugar surfeit by stocking it at home.  He’s naturally hyper (he gets if from us) so not having more sugar than his system can handle in addition to exercise has helped him in school.

5)Where is the homework?  I see this with many kids that come into the library to play computer games for hours, none of them have homework.  To be fair, some school systems don’t give out homework, especially if they dont’ have enough books.  There’s even a growing movement of educators and parents who are against homework, citing it offers little reward and cuts into valuable sleep and playtime.  I am not anti-homework but I do feel that overloading an elementary child with work that isn’t properly explained in school can lead to frustration for parents and children.  If you child is on his second or third week and you see very little homework check with the teacher and school to see what their policy is.  If your child does have homework he seems to finish before even hitting the door you might want to take a page from neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.  His mother, Sonya Carson, barely had a third grade education but when Ben was a child she figured out how to get him to learn by making it mandatory he read two books a week from the library and write a report on them.  His mother could barely read herself, but she pretended to read and score his papers anyway.  Mrs. Carson is a mother that I admire, when Dr. Carson tells the story of his success he always begins with how his mother raised him.

6)Demand organization.  Let’s say your child does their homework but can never find it in their folder.  This has happened with my son.  He would leave his homework at home or, sometimes, he’d talk through class and forget to turn it in.  My husband and I remedied that by putting our foot down on having an organized folder.  We make him study in the same place, the dining room table, and before he goes to bed at 11pm (yes, he’s 17 but lights are out at 11pm) he needs to make sure all his homework is in his backpack.  It doesnt’ make sense to have the homework done but you can’t turn it in because it was left.

7)Even before they begin school, introduce them to reading, science topics, math.  I began reading to my daughter when she was a newborn.  I know some people read to them when they are in the womb, but I just talked to her then.  Before my daughter was one she knew what a book was, by the time she was two she understood rudimentary science and math.  Science and math?  Yes, just counting things out to her as I handed them to her, or counting steps as we walked up and down.  At the park we talked about dirt, grass, compared leaves and paid attention to bugs.  Learning doesn’t start in school and it’s not just about ABCs and addition.  Learning is about introducing your child to the world and you are your child’s first teacher.  Piquing your child’s curiosity about the world is the first step in getting your child ready for school.

8)Balance.  Are your kids all about school but not about anything else?  Do they make time for sports but not reading?  Trying to strike balance in your life is hard as an adult but with kids, who have no concept of what it is, will find it evenmoreso.  Instill in your kids that there is a time for playing as well as a time for studying.  Teach them not to procrastinate until the last minute even if they swear they do better under pressure.  And if they like to read too much, encourage them to socialize more.  Balance varies from person to person, family to family so you have to figure out how to even the scales for yours.

9) Are you still reading and learning?  How can you tell your kids they should learn in school if you treat education for yourself as a disease.  If your attitude about learning is negative then your kids will pick up on that.  What you do impresses your children more than what you say.  Learning is more than just picking up a book but doing things.  Do you want to learn how to play guitar?  Crochet?  Build a carburetor?  Check your local recreation center and take a class, hell take some friends with you.  Learn yoga, learn to cook.  If your child sees you learning and growing then chances are their attitudes will be the same when it comes to learning. 

10) Limit television/computer/video game time. This ties in with #8.  For years research has shown that black children watch more television than their white counterparts and a recent study proves it again.  Television shows like Yo Gabba Gabba and computer games can be helpful learning tools, but when used in excess they do more to impede learning, not engender it.  And some children aren’t even watching educational television.  You need to ask yourself, if your child is six years old but doesn’t know some addition and subtraction but can sing almost every song in the top one hundred you have to think about how you are falling down on your job, not what the teacher isn’t doing.  In the library I have seen plenty of moms pat themselves on the back that their child can click on YouTube links but can’t read the word “you” when they see it.

What is up with that?

Unplug your child from the world and give them only a few hours of it a day.  Or even better, let them earn their internet rights over the weekend.  Even if they are in junior high/high school?  Especially if they are that old.  Teens can easily get distracted away from studying with socializing and gaming.  For our son we don’t prohibit it, we just limit it to the weekend, although when my daughter was a teen she was busy with a lot of extracurricular activities as well as a heavy course load and I encouraged socializing so her gaming was limited to non school time although she was allowed an hour a night of online socializing.  Like I said before, you can see for yourself how long you spend on a computer, if you have read this article all the way through it took some time.  You can’t always expect a child to exercise self-restraint when adults have problems doing it themselves.

This is not an exhaustive list and if anyone has topics on education please type them in the comment section or email them to me.  Sounds like a lot of work, right?  Well, raising children can be a lot of work, no one said it would be easy.

Next time: can your kid pass the marshmallow test?

Written by rentec

22 August, 2011 at 1:16 pm

March Madness Off the B-Ball Court

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This deserves more than a retweet.  Right now everyone is in the thoes of March Madness, keeping track of their picks and writing down scores but here are better numbers to take note of.

From Colorlines racewire:

Something to think about, especially if you have a tall son with hoop dreams.

Written by rentec

19 March, 2010 at 12:55 pm


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