What does family mean to you?

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For me, family is everything.  I live, and would die, for my family.  Included in this are some incredibly close friends who have become de facto family members. But everyone’s version of family is different. My parents (and D’s parents) will celebrate their 34th wedding anniversaries this year.  This dynamic and the fact that my parents are still married definitely impacts our relationship.

I see nothing wrong or weird that my immediate family (parents, spouse, two siblings) know exactly how much each other makes (our siblings … not our parent’s income!).  It’s totally normal to me that my parents know how much educational debt I have.  And I think it’s a sign of a strong family to speak every day. I took a personality quiz and it indicated it’s a part of my character so I understand not everyone is the same.

But some people would not agree. I have a friend that finds it so strange that we all know everyone’s financial information.  Acquaintances who don’t think it’s “appropriate” to ask a daughter how much she spent on her house.

Not only do I plan to tell my parents how much I pay for my house, if possible I want them to help me pick out a good house!

I appreciate and value my parent’s opinions.  I want to learn from their mistakes. Continue Reading

Kids can say the darndest things

friends-iconAs a child I had several hated household responsibilities. Scooping up the dog shit in the backyard and making my bed (which I still hate doing) topped the list, and cleaning out the bird cage? Hated it. But right up there with all of those loathsome chores was waking my mom up from an afternoon nap, something I never looked forward to.

My mom just didn’t take a nap, quote unquote. She fell into a mini-coma. Waking her up was not unlike rousing a bear out of hibernation – she got a tad bit vicious when I’d try. I used to poke her in the stomach a few times and then bolt, and she’d sit on the edge of her bed, smoke a cigarette and stare into space for a while before ambling downstairs to smoke and stare some more.

Julia takes after my mom in this particular area and one afternoon last week she woke up crabby and grumpy, like a little bear. It took several minutes for her eyes to open and focus and once they did she immediately started to sob and toss herself about her bed listlessly before I could dress her up.  I pried her out of bed and got her downstairs to the couch where she sat with her Dora blanket and cried through Blue’s Clues. My mom would have been so proud. Continue Reading

First 5 years of life impacts what happens in the rest of a child’s life

sun-icon-14The research is clear – what happens in the first five years of life dramatically impacts what happens in the rest of a child’s life. Both longitudinal studies and brain research substantiate that strong foundations in the earliest years set the stage for children to be successful in school and later in life. However, approximately 18,000 children in Douglas and Sarpy counties under the age of five live in families of low income. Research suggests these children are at risk of starting school significantly behind their peers who come from families with more resources. Recognizing both the research and the need, Early Childhood Services (ECS) serves as a comprehensive, integrated system of early care and education that provides children from families of low income the opportunities to establish a strong foundation for learning.

Education for single moms

Single mothers often face some of the greatest challenges in raising their children. especially teenage mothers, especially when they dropped out of a high school. We support teen moms and help them get a high school equivalency diploma through online prep courses. Therefore we team up with the Single Moms Club organized MyCareerTools  to help single mom graduating with a degree and become self-supporting after a while. The moms we guide will use the website’s online GED Classes and MyCareerTools will pay for the GED testing fee as well. This is really  a generous offer.
We understand  that going back to school and being teenage mom requires an incredible amount of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy  and we dedicated to support single mom in their quest for education.   The most important work you will ever do is that of raising a healthy and well child. More financial aid and education grants are available to women considered to be single mothers. Continue Reading

The best and worst of our charter school experience

Vector School Building

Vector School Building

I was beyond thrilled when my older daughter got into the charter school of our choice. This particular school has been featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, PBS, and countless articles as a pillar of what the best of charter schools can offer.

Unlike public schools, this school had longer hours. Instead of an 8-2 day, my daughter was in school from 7:25 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. While this sounds like a lot for a 5th grader, it allowed more time in the class for teachers to work with the students, she had Art, P.E., Technology, and Music as part of her school time (instead of carting kids around to after-school programs), and even time for recess and lunch.
I fell in love with the school on the very first day. Their rules were strict, but the teachers and the principal were extremely compassionate and positive. They believed in every student’s ability to succeed.
My daughter went from an average student to a straight A student. After she got used to having 2 hours of homework a night, she rarely needed help (but knew it was just a phone call away, as the teachers were required to be available by cell until 8 pm). Instead of a PTA, we had breakfast with the Principal one Saturday a month. Everyone contributed, and we all had an equal voice. We could ask any and every question, and through those meetings, new concepts were implemented. For example, after the Principal heard many parents voice their concerns, he included information on the weekly newsletter about cognitive and physical development at our student’s age. I had never before felt like I had such a partner in my child’s education.

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Is a Private School the Right School For Your Child?

education_iconSince charter schools are modeled after private schools, in many ways they are similar in terms of pro and con arguments. But, there are some significant differences between the two.
The most glaringly obvious difference is tuition. All public schools, whether regular, charter, or magnet are paid for by tax dollars. Private schools charge tuition to parents. Many people believe that because the parents are paying for their children’s education, that private schools must have more money than public schools. That is not necessarily the case. Karen Arnold, from San Jose, CA, taught at a parochial school for 9 years and has recently moved to a public school. Says Mrs. Arnold “The public school I work for has had its budget cut back considerably in the last couple years, and it is still not as frugal with resources as the private school was. At the private school, we used to have to ask parents to donate school supplies. We even asked parents to send us paper that they were going to throw away that was only used on one side so we could use the other side.”
Even affluent private schools that charge a high tuition often don’t have resources to deal with “exceptional” kids on either end of the spectrum. Unless you have chosen a private school specifically for the gifted or the educationally challenged, most private schools aren’t equipped to meet those extraordinary needs, whereas public schools usually are. Likewise, most private schools don’t have access to staff to meet specialized needs that “normal” learners may need at various points in time, such as psychologists, speech pathologists, etc.

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Is the Local School the Right School?

school-lessons-icon-png-47I was listening to a talk show a few weeks ago where the host shared a personal story that struck me. When his kids were school aged, they lived in an area with a great school district. But, none of his three children did well in the assigned public schools. Even though the schools were high ranking, they didn’t use a teaching method that his children responded to. Each of his children learned in different ways, and he wound up choosing different education methods for all three children, carefully matching the style of teaching with each of his children’s manner of learning.
His eldest child went to an all boys private boarding school, his middle went to a charter school, and his youngest was home schooled. Each of them flourished once they were in the right environment for them. “Wow”, I thought “talk about extremes. Ship one kid off to boarding school but keep one at home with you.” Ever since then, I have been mulling over how to figure out what kind of teaching style your child responds to best, and how to find the school that utilizes that particular style. It seems like a daunting task.
Today, there are more choices than ever as to educational styles offered in the classrooms. Since this is a national publication, we can’t get into rating individual schools, but we can discuss the pros and cons of each of the types of educational systems out there. Let’s start with the most obvious choice: the assigned local school, and if you’re interested, read also our article on chartered schools.

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Is a Magnet School the Right School for Your Child?

terug-naar-school-icon-set_1085-27Magnet Schools began to be widely implemented in the mid-1970’s as a political tool. At the time, public schools were trying to desegregate to comply with a Supreme Court ruling, but found parents resistant to sending children outside their normal school zone. Educators realized that if they created superior, specialized schools, students would volunteer to go out of zone for a better education in their field of interest.
Magnet schools are open to any child within the school district, though not all school districts offer magnet programs. Parents have to apply, and children are chosen based on criteria set by the school. Up until 2007, race was usually a component in the selection criteria, however, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed their decision on mandatory desegregation, so in most cases, race is no longer a consideration.
Magnet schools get the same amount of district funding as regular schools, and also qualify for special federal funding, as well. On average, magnet schools spend about $200 more per student. Performance wise, students tend to do better academically in magnets than their counterparts in regular schools, with higher graduation rates.

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Is A Charter School The Right School For Your Child?

In my last post “What, Exactly, Is a Charter School?“, I stated that charter schools are an extremely complex and controversial topic, then went on to explain why they are complex. In this post, we will explore why they are controversial, and how to decide if a charter school is right for your child.

Before we get into the controversy, here is a summary of what we have discussed so far:

* Charter schools are independent from a school district and are run like a private business.
* Charter schools all have special curriculum and/or teaching techniques that differentiate them from a regular public school. Every charter school is unique.
* Charter school formats are experimental, so some schools provide excellent education, and some do not.
* Charter schools are not necessarily local to you, and your child may have to commute.
* Charter schools choose students based on a lottery, not admission criteria, so some children will have an easier time getting into a charter than a magnet (or vice versa).

There are four aspects of charters that garner controversy. The first is that charter schools are allowed to be for profit. The second is that the people who found charter schools are not required to have to have an educational background. The third is that charter school teachers are rarely part of a union. And, last but not least, in some states charter school teachers do not have to be credentialed. Continue Reading

Get To Know About Organic Baby Clothes

Organic baby clothes refer to the kinds of vestments that are mainly worn by babies. These garments are biodegradable and are very much friendly to the environment. Parents more often than never like purchasing these attires for their babies or infants because they cost less expensively, hence affordable.

There are several types of attires for babies. They range from the top to the bottom. This means that there are those which are worn on the head and include caps. Others are worn on the other body parts and include tops, vests, pairs of trousers, pants and nappies, pairs of shorts and also socks. There are also some additional accessories.

The sizes of the attires range from small up to big. This often depends on size of the baby. The small ones are usually more suitable for the small infants while the larger ones for the big babies. Besides, there are also some that are oversize. These are mainly used by the obese babies.

There occur different materials which are usually used to process and make these attires for children. They include nylon, cotton, polyester and silk among others. However, among all these, it is only those baby clothes that are made of 100% cotton and are biodegradable, thus making them to be more widely used. They are also dyed with the dyes which are very eco-friendly and of low impact.

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What, Exactly, Is A Charter School?

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What is a charter school? The definition is “a public school operated independently of the local school board”. It sounds simple and straightforward, but the reality is that charter schools are an extremely complex and controversial topic. Charter schools were first introduced in the early 1990’s in response to a nationwide call for sweeping public education reform. Most states passed legislation where they would allow the formation of some publicly funded “experimental” schools to give parents an alternative to the traditional public schools that were under so much fire at the time.
What does “experimental” mean? First of all, charter schools are not part of a school district. They are independently run businesses that follow a private school business model, except instead of charging tuition, they get public funds. In a traditional system, the school districts set the curriculum for the schools in their domain, receive money from the state, and distribute it among the schools. In the case of charter schools, the individual schools set their own curriculum and receive money directly from the state. Niki Mohr, a teacher at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, a charter school in Pacoima, CA says “Personally, I think our school is more efficient with money than a school district because we do not have district administration costs to pay, so more money goes directly to the classroom.”
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