Monday, May 23, 2011

Parenting Articles - Are Parents to Blame for their Kids’ Academic Failures?

Do you beat yourself up if your child performs poorly in school? If you don’t, you should, according to some states. And if you don’t, they’ll do it for you.

Recent laws passed in Alaska and California allow schools to fine or bring parents up on charges if their kids miss school without a good reason frequently enough. Florida considered a bill that would issue reports cards on parents (not to, buton).

As Lisa Belkin writes in The New York Times:

Teachers are fed up with being blamed for the failures of American education, and legislators are starting to hear them . . . If you think you can legislate teaching, the notion goes, why not try legislating parenting? [T]he thinking goes like this: If you look at schools that “work,” as measured by test scores and graduation rates, they all have involved (overinvolved?) parents, who are on top of their children’s homework, in contact with their children’s teachers, and invested in their children’s futures. So just require the same of parents in schools that don’t work, and the problem is solved (or, at least, dented), right?

It used to be that how a child acted in class was thought to be a reflection of their parents, and at home, parents were supposed to reinforce to their children that in school, the teacher is boss. However, Belkin argues that these days, parents are more likely to point a finger at teachers, the tenure system and unions if their child isn’t succeeding in school.

Various legislation has been introduced in different states to try and crack down on slack parents, including a bill in Indiana requiring parents to spend three hours each semester volunteering either in the school building or at a school-related function to up the amount of parent-teacher interaction, giving teachers a chance to talk to parents and giving parents firsthand knowledge of the feel and requirements of the school.

Another in Florida would require teachers to grade parents on their involvement in their child’s education, and to post that grade on the child’s report card.

Not surprisingly, both bills have not been smiled upon by by parents. Some PTA groups have argued that what counts as “involvement” varies widely and means different things to different parents, and that defining a parents as “good” or “bad” is too subjective.

Neither measure made it to a vote.

But other states are not deterred. In Alaska, parents are fined for a child’s truancy. A misdemeanor charge can be brought against parents in California is their child’s truancy is seen as flagrant. And California also requires parents of gang members to attend parenting classes.

Some experts argue that focus on punishing the parents is misguided, and instead the system should help educate the parents sooner on how to help their kids, and that the core problem is poverty.

While I think there’s much truth to the last point, I think there are plenty of parents who like to blame everyone else for their kids’ problems, and that many parents would do better if the spotlight shone on them when it came to their kids’ performance. If you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of and you know you’re giving it you’re all, then what have you got to lose by being graded?

How much, if any, responsibility do you think parents should accept if their kids perform poorly in school?

Source: Babble (blog) -

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Parenting Articles - Less Sleep – More Obesity, Smoking, Drinking

There are 70 million Americans with sleep disorders who would like nothing more than to relax at night. Now there’s more reason to keep you up late.

People who sleep fewer than six hours or more than nine hours a night are more likely to have health problems, according to the largest government study linking obesity to irregular sleep.

Health problems also include higher rates of smoking and alcohol use among those who sleep too little or too much.

The report finds that restorative value of sleep has been underappreciated in public health recommendations.

In time of stress, the body is known to hold onto fat stores. That’s why diets often result in weight gain. The lack of sleep may also create a similar stressful situation. Expect to see more emphasis on eight hours a night as a key to good health.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics surveyed 87,000 Americans from 2004 to 2006.

Among the findings:

* Smoking rates were highest for those who got under six hours of sleep a night. 31 percent were smokers. Heavy sleepers included 26 percent who smoked. The average rate of U.S. smokers is 21 percent. Among those who slept an average of eight hours, 18 percent were smokers.

* Obesity rates for light sleepers were 33 percent, for heavy sleepers 26 percent and 22 percent for normal sleepers.

* Alcohol use among the light sleepers was the heaviest. Regular and heavy sleepers have about the same rate of alcohol use.

* Exercise rates were low for those who slept a lot, worse than regular or light sleepers. Health problems or being elderly age may account for that

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine finds an increasing number of obese youth are not getting enough sleep. Obesity rates among children and teens have doubled in the last 30 years and AASM says sleep may be as important a component in fighting fat as diet and exercise.

Infants to 11 months need 14 to 15 hours of sleep a night; toddlers 12-14 hours; preschool children 11-13 hours and adolescents 9 hours. Adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

For those who have trouble falling to sleep follow these rules:

* Find a consistent bed time to go to sleep and wake up

* Keep the room completely dark free of lights from clocks or cable boxes

* Keep the room cooler

* Do not consume caffeine, colas or chocolate before bed or in the evening

* Take a break of at least an hour before bedtime from electronics

Also for children:

* Avoid videos or TV shows that are not age appropriate

* Use a half hour before bedtime for a bedtime routine and to read, interact and be close

* Do not let your child fall asleep while being held, rocked or nursed

* Avoid hunger at bedtime

Source:, FL

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