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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz, CA

February 1, 2013


The Parents Who Worry Teachers Most

Arithmetic for Parents: A Book for Grownups about Children's Mathematics
Suki: Highly Innapropriate, Then and Now

Science with Christine: Family & School Science Project - Globe at Night
School, Homework & Studies from Pre-K to HS
This Week
First Art Night
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Arithmetic. A long time ago I held various teaching positions in the primary grades. Then I stayed home with young children.  When my youngest was in kindergarten, I was asked to substitute.  After a few weeks in kindergarten, I was asked to do a long-term sub in 6th grade. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Just because I can keep a class of 5 year olds cheerfully productive doesn't mean I can be effective with 6th graders and besides, math is not my strong point."   The headmaster offered to mentor me in math.  He taught and I learned as I never had before.  Not only did I do the class work right along with the students, I took those word problems home and looked at every detail backwards and forwards seeking to master the "language of arithmetic."  One day my mentor couldn't make it.  I was on my own and for the rest of the year, with great perseverance, stayed a few steps ahead of my students.  So I was very interested when I read a book titled Arithmetic for Parents: A Book for Grownups About Children's Mathmatics.  Read more about it below.

Kindergarten classes can have children with as much as a two year spread in ages --from the child who just turned 5 to the child who missed the cutoff and is 7 or soon turning 7.  Where will your child do best?  Think about it.  Visit several schools.  You will know when you find a classroom that is right for your child.

(Photos General) food_BlackBeanSoup.jpgSoup's On! There is always soup at my house, but the other day I opened the refrigerator to find three half full quart jars each of vegetable, butternut squash and black bean with ham soup. With three hungry guests, I did what any soup chef would do. I dumped them all in one pot, added a little water (I like to make concentrates for space/storing considerations), warmed up some crusty sourdough and served the soups with shredded romaine and chipotle yogurt on top. Confession: I had slightly overspiced the vegetable soup with chipotle pepper, but when combined with the naturally sweet squash soup and the hearty black bean soup the result tasted complex and mysterious. I could tell from the appreciative "mmmmm's" of my guests that it was a success! 3 Soups and Soup #4 recipes here!

We parents want to be good parents.  We come with all personalities and quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  Let's just make sure we are not one of those "overparenting" types that harm our children's chances of success by doing everything for them.  Read more by by Annie Murphy as she comments on a teacher's article on this topic. 

Happy weekend and let the children experience consequences, Parmalee

 

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  The Parents Who Worry Teachers Most
By Annie Murphy Paul

Teacher and writer Jessica Lahey has a great piece on TheAtlantic.com, occasioned by a study of "overparenting":

"What worry me most," writes Lahey, "are the examples of overparenting [in the study] that have the potential to ruin a child's confidence and undermine an education in independence. According to the the [study's] authors, parents guilty of this kind of overparenting "take their child's perception as truth, regardless of the facts,' and are "quick to believe their child over the adult and deny the possibility that their child was at fault or would even do something of that nature.'

This is what we teachers see most often: what the authors term "high responsiveness and low demandingness' parents. These parents are highly responsive to the perceived needs and issues of their children, and don't give their children the chance to solve their own problems. These parents "rush to school at the whim of a phone call from their child to deliver items such as forgotten lunches, forgotten assignments, forgotten uniforms' and "demand better grades on the final semester reports or threaten withdrawal from school.' One study participant described the problem this way:

"I have worked with quite a number of parents who are so overprotective of their children that the children do not learn to take responsibility (and the natural consequences) of their actions. The children may develop a sense of entitlement and the parents then find it difficult to work with the school in a trusting, cooperative and solution focused manner, which would benefit both child and school.'

These are the parents who worry me the most-parents who won't let their child learn. You see, teachers don't just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. We teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight. These skills may not get assessed on standardized testing, but as children plot their journey into adulthood, they are, by far, the most important life skills I teach.

I'm not suggesting that parents place blind trust in their children's teachers; I would never do such a thing myself. But children make mistakes, and when they do, it's vital that parents remember that the educational benefits of consequences are a gift, not a dereliction of duty. Year after year, my "best' students-the ones who are happiest and successful in their lives-are the students who were allowed to fail, held responsible for missteps, and challenged to be the best people they could be in the face of their mistakes." (Read more here.)

"The educational benefits of consequences"-I love that. And yet it can be hard to let children feel the force of those consequences. As Lisa Belkin once wrote (I'm paraphrasing), "What looks to other people like "overparenting' simply feels like good parenting to the mother or father who's doing it."

How about you-have you found a way to let your children fail without feeling guilty?

Annie Murphy Paul is the author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The New Science of Smart. Visit her website and sign up for her monthly newsletter.

 

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  Arithmetic for Parents: A Book for Grownups about Children's Mathematics

Adaptation of a review by Alexander Bogomolny, "Cut The Knot"

(Books/Products) Book_ArithmeticforParents.jpgThis book is an outcome of a rare experiment: a university math professor (a high caliber professor from one of the best universities in the world)  responded to a challenge to teach in elementary school.  He shares his insights about teaching mathmatics to young children. An enjoyable read, the advice offered is sound and the pedagogy is illustrated by numerous examples. I highly recommend the book to the grown ups concerned with young children education.


In the Introduction, the author outlines the sequence of events that led him to taking up teaching elementary grades in a small town on the northern outskirts of Israel and describes the surprise experiences that came out of that experiment. The greatest surprise was in that the teaching of elementary grades provided him --a professional mathematician-- an opportunity to learn mathematics: not any new facts of course, but the subtleties inherent in the elementary mathematics. (As an aside, this part supplies a crashing argument in the hotly discussed topic as to whether or not elementary school teachers can be expected to possess math expertise.)


The first part is a collection of interrelated essays that discusses the fundamental role of abstraction in mathematics, the mathematical beauty, the peculiar economy of thought and expression that characterizes mathematics and its hierarchical organization. There are also chapters on whole numbers, decimals and general thoughts of what might be expected to be learned in elementary school.  Mathematical economy is beautifully classified as being achieved in three ways: Order (by looking for patterns), Generalization (by abstracting common features from different areas) and Concise Representation (the decimal system serving as an example.)


The second part is deftly subtitled The Road to Abstraction, as conveying an abstraction is a fundamental need and principle of teaching mathematics. The author's methodology is to start with familiar and diversify the examples to help students grasp the abstraction as a common feature of several examples and prevent them from attaching unintended importance to auxiliary details.

The third part is the largest - it takes about two thirds of the book. It opens with a chapter on the meaning of arithmetic operations.  For example, there is a real (for children) difference between questions such as:

  • There are five apples of which 2 have been eaten. How many apples have been left?
  • In a family of 5 siblings, 2 are boys. How many girls are in the family?
  • Joseph has 5 toys, Reena has 2. How many more toys does Joseph have?

All are naturally solved by subtraction 5 - 2 = 3. However, in the first, subtraction means a removal of two items. In the second, it means classification of objects into two types and counting each type separately. In the third, subtraction means comparison.

With the same attention to detail and profound insights, he then talks of the nature and rules of calculations, fractions, decimals, and ratios.  It is  fascinating how much meaningful information is hidden behind simple arithmetic facts. There is so much that children may miss!  There is so much to be learned in order to acquire a working grasp of the concepts of the elementary mathematics.
The book will be helpful to and enjoyed by teachers, parents who attend to their kids' study and, of course, home schooling parents. It's a treasure trove of ideas usually missed out in textbooks and teacher manuals.


Ron Aharoni, a professor of mathematics at the Israel Institute of Technology, accepted his friend's invitation to teach mathematics in elementary school. Since then he has devoted much of his time to primary mathematics education. Aharoni played a major role in a successful fight against "fuzzy math"; in his country, and in the implementation of a competent, no-frills curriculum. In this book, he shares with the reader -- a parent , or a teacher -- the insights he gained concerning elementary mathematics and mathematical education. His next book is about Mathematics, Poetry, and Beauty.

  Suki: Highly Innapropriate, Then and Now

(Photos General) SukiRedHead_138.jpg

"That song is definitely not appropriate for children," my ten-year-old daughter said to me the other day, hearing a song being played in a store.

My husband and I have been talking about the books we read as kids. Brave New World. 1984. Of Mice and Men. Great books, all about sex, much of it deviant or definitely-out-of-wedlock sex.

And those were the books we were assigned in school. On our own time, we read anything we could get our hands on. My husband says he read his parents' pulp novels that they left lying around. I read Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret in the third grade. I'd worked my way up from the "third grade shelf" in my school library, and no one thought to tell me that might not be a good idea. From there, I went to Wifey, Judy Blume's highly inappropriate book...written for adults.

A book that I remember vividly-yet not at all-from my childhood.

As we talked about what we read, what occurred to us is what didn't happen: Our parents (or any other adult) didn't get involved. We read these books, and listened to those songs (rather less racy in our time) without parents hanging over our shoulders. Our parents didn't ask what we were reading, and they certainly never considered reading out loud to kids who could read themselves.

In our family, however, books are for sharing. We only stopped reading out loud to our son last year, around the time he turned 13. And that has less to do with a parenting decision than with lack of time. But we still read books "together"-we suggest books for him, and talk to him about books we are reading. On top of that, I have recently started a literature discussion group for teens-including my son-that is exploring the canon of "must read before college" books-a list that includes those sex-filled books by Steinbeck, Orwell, Huxley, and more.

All of this has led me to a question: Are we more prudish than our parents, who "let" us read anything? Did they only pretend to not know what we were reading? Or did they really not care?  Read more>>>

 

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  Science with Christine: Family & School Science Project - Globe at Night

(Graphics) Sciencefun.jpgFamily & School Science Project - Globe at Night

There is a wonderful citizen science project happening the last few years called "Globe at Night." The next reporting period starts January 31 and goes until February 9. It gets everybody involved in measuring light pollution all over the world. They picked a wonderfully simple method to do it. Look up at night at one of three constellations (Orion, Leo or Crux) and count the stars you see in the constellation. The number of stars you can see is a measurement of your darkness. The more stars, the darker the sky.  These constellations have some stars that are bright enough to be seen in most cities. The site below has star maps of the constellations and information from other people who are reporting the stars.

I think this is fun to do, and I am going to have my little guy help this year. Orion is my favorite and he can also recognize it. It is winter at my house so this is the best time to see the most stars. If you have ever wanted to see kids get involved in the stars, this is a great way. There is a bunch of free materials for teachers and kids on the site. I have done this before and it is fun to be part of the scientific community.

Remember, everyone is a scientist.  http://www.globeatnight.org/index.html

More Science Fun with Christine

  School, Homework & Studies from Pre-K to HS

(Photos General) LorraineLowRes.jpgWow! How do we handle it all? We have this to do and that to juggle, AND we have our child’s homework, too?! (I don’t think most of us thought about this when we conceived or imagined our life with our beloved child.) Is parenting the most demanding job on the planet? Maybe a President or King, Queen or Dictator has more demands, but they get paid well!  Of course, we do, too, in love, joy and happiness, right? Mostly.

Don’t shrug off this article if you’re pregnant, have a newborn or a preschooler;  your day will come soon and you’ll want to be prepared mentally. Unbelievably, preschoolers may have homework in some schools.  You’ll probably want them to be a smart preschooler, learning letters and numbers in a fun way.  You’ll want to  be as involved as early as possible with their education.  School is our child’s job.

So, how do we cope with school, homework, studying, memorizing, drilling, test prep? By giving our precious time.  Remember is this: even though it may not be our #1 favorite thing, it means the world to your child.  I usually suggest that parents do their own homework with their child at the kitchen table, giving them the breathing room to try on their own, yet you’re there if they need a hand.

What, you may ask, is your homework? Bank statements, emails, bill paying, quicken entries, surfing, research, chopping veggies or just faking it so you can connect and be in their proximity. When I was in my Master’s program, my son, Mark, and I did homework at our well-lit dining room table. It was bonding time, we kept up on each others’ world, and homework wasn’t so lonely. Or was it "misery loves company’? A bit of both, I suppose, but we were compadres and neither of us suffered alone.

A few tips: make it as fun as possible. Race each other or compete against yourself.  How much can we finish before the timer goes off?  Have a favorite movie picked out to watch together as soon as we finish our work.  Checking work is part of the game.  Swap papers and check for errors.  Have a plate of goodies to snack on.  Quiz each other on content.  Be ready for exams.  It’s a subtle way to be involved without being annoying.

I hope you enjoyed this wee article.  I’ll supply a Homework and School article the first week of every month to hopefully inspire you to wisely use your precious few moments with this child you love so much.  Your child really will grow up and leave. The older they become, the less influence you have, so whether you have a tot, tween or teen, dive into this relationship-building tool… homework.

Blessings and Aloha to you and your entire family,   

Since 1995, Lorraine Pursell, The Parent Mentor, has devoted her life to helping families have harmony and balance. She's a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor and a board certified educational therapist. Go to www.yourkidslovinglife.com for your FREE radio show "The 12 Secrets to Safe, Happy and Confident Kids in the 21 st Century".

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School Corner

Aptos Academy Pre-8, Open house Science Night 1/31

 

Santa Cruz Children's School K-6, Open House 2/5


Gateway School K-8, Open house 2/5


Chartwell School K-8, Open House 2/9

 

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Let Nature work its Magic on You and Your Children! 

Join the fun at our local parks!

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Midtown Montessori

A creative environment where children learn to be independent, yet collectively minded, caring earth stewards and compassionate world leaders.

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 First Art Night
Eco-Art at the Tannery

Watershed Arts w linda Cover
Small classes in a vibrant art community
Date: Every Fri (Jan 24-May 31) from 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Ages: 5-13 yrs.

(Photos General) WatershedArt_Crow.jpgEVERY FRIDAY

Students 5-13 yrs. enter "green" contests, draw creatures from our watershed, learn about plants in these environments and walk to the river to sketch.

Students enjoy the adventure of being at the Tannery surrounded by art and artists.

Location: Tannery Arts Center, 1050 River St. studio #116, Santa Cruz Map
websiteHwy 1 and River

Food Art
Art duJour
The subjective nature of art embraces the best medium of all: Edible Art.
02/01/2013 from 5:00pm to 9:00pm

Food As The Medium.  The subjective nature of art embraces the best medium of all: Edible Art.

(Photos General) Food_LemonGingerMarmaladeJars.jpgPlease join us in an exciting new endeavor to showcase the artistry of food in this marketplace setting.  Presenting educational opportunities by food artists who understand and appreciate the best of our local edible art forms.  Tasting and educational components featured throughout the evening. 

New jam flavors featured include Lemon Ginger Marmalade, Olallieberry Jam, and Red Onion Relish. Plus locally made old-fashioned candies, toffees, macaroons and honey. Create your own Valentine's gift and enjoy this night of tasty treats!


1013 Cedar St x Union St, Santa Cruz Map
(831) 621-0672

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Contra Dancing
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  Contra Dancing
Santa Cruz Dance
Date: The 1st Su of every month at 7:00pm
Ages: 7+
Details: Contra couples dancing for beginners and experienced dancers
Special Instructions: Usually First Friday, Check website.
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