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Top 10 things middle school students need to thrive, and how parents can help

News-JournalOnline.com – Phyllis L. Fagell

“There is no manual to develop “soft” skills like perseverance and resilience. Just as I did, most kids learn through trial and error. As parents, our quest to protect our children can be at odds with their personal growth. It can feel counter-intuitive, but we mainly need to take a step back. I have come to believe that certain social emotional skills are particularly useful as kids navigate middle school and beyond. Here are my top 10 skills, and ways parents can help without getting in the way.”(more)

The 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is Here!

Homeroom – Kelly Miterko

“It’s that time of year again – we’re inviting kids across the country to create healthy lunch recipes for a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House!…The challenge invites kids ages 8-12, in collaboration with a parent or guardian, to create an original recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious…We can’t wait to see what kids create this year – so good luck and get cooking! Don’t forget to submit by April 4!”(more)

Kids need an exercise plan, right? Wrong. Here’s what they really need.

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss

“With an epidemic of obesity among children, many schools are searching for the best way to help children become more physically fit and healthy. However, we are going about it all wrong. If we truly want children to be strong and physically adept, we need to start allowing for more opportunities for free play and less adult-directed movement activities. Here’s why:…A child’s neurological system is designed to naturally seek out the sensory input it needs on its own. For instance, if a child is spinning around in circles, it is because they are ready for that sensory input. Another child may not need or want to spin…The child is the best indicator on what type of movement they need at any given time. How do we respect children’s need to move in different ways? By simply allowing them plenty of time and space for free play. It is during free play, where children move and challenge their bodies in new ways, constantly testing their limits and getting to the next developmental level.”(more)

National Institute for STEM Education (NISE) Announces STEM Certification and Degree Programs for Districts, Campuses and Teachers

Business Wire – Staff Writer

“As science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs continue to grow, the U.S. Department of Education has set a priority to increase the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these fields. Yet, as school districts launch STEM schools and programs, there has been no easy way to certify that they are actually prepared to teach STEM — until now. Accelerate Learning today announces the formation of the National Institute for STEM Education (NISE)…Using an online learning platform and unique digital portfolio, NISE offers a STEM certification program for campuses and districts, as well as teachers…For teachers and educators, it certifies that individuals are incorporating the 15 key teacher actions necessary to create a STEM classroom of excellence.”(more)

Teach Kids About Budgeting And Take A Vacation At The Same Time

Forbes – Neale Godfrey

“Now that spring is finally here, it’s that time again to think about shelling out money for a family vacation…With significant spending aimed at making the whole family happy, don’t you think it’s the right time to get the kids involved in the budgeting?…Vacations can be both a rewarding, learning experience, as well as fun for parents and children alike, if you turn the vacation into a family project from start to finish. When children take an active role in planning a vacation, they make an investment in their own adventure. To begin, set some cost and travel parameters, then have your kids go online to come up with some vacation ideas. Set a deadline for them to present their ideas to the whole family at a family meeting. They have to come up with ideas that will suit the whole family, within the budget…No matter how wealthy you are, I suggest that the kids contribute to the family vacation. It doesn’t have to be in actual money; it is just as valuable if they come up ways to economize during the trip. Again, these are important lessons that they can use throughout their lives.”(more)