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Orange County parents opt to put children in language immersion programs

Los Angeles Times – Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil

“‘They’re learning how to speak English anyway, so it’s really no different for them to learn other languages at the time,” said Carrie Mizera, executive director of Renascence School International, a tri-lingual English, Spanish and Mandarin immersion program in Costa Mesa. “Their brains are really, really absorbent at that time, and that’s why we want to capture this opportunity and teach multiple languages.'” (more)

Financial intelligence as important as IQ

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


The latest Center for Microeconomic Data Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit revealed that total American household debt reached $13.15 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In addition, a recent survey suggests six in 10 Americans (61%) don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency and four in 10 (39%) have nothing in their savings accounts.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand how so many Americans can be in such poor financial shape. After all, making wise money decisions does not require proficiency in particle physics or an understanding of Shakespeare.

The biggest challenges appear to be intense peer and marketing pressures. If friends and marketers can create this type of havoc in our personal lives, it is imperative that we make sure our children are aware of the pressures and have the tools to make wise financial choices.

Some of the key concepts and teaching ideas are:

Money is limited. Give your child a fixed amount of money. If he/she spends it all on candy near the store entrance, he/she will not have money to purchase a doll or toy truck a few rows back.

Money is earned. Rather than giving a child an allowance, issue money based on successful execution of tasks – emptying the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, folding the laundry, etc.

Spending beyond your means comes at a cost. Credit card companies are VERY good at marketing. It is critical for kids to understand that marketers play on their desire for immediate gratification. Whenever you spend money you do not have you are charged extra money. For example, if you put $100 on a credit card for a year, you will have to repay about $115.

Saving makes sense. Kids need to understand compounding. The sooner you start saving the more the money will grow. If you save $1000 this year and make 5% you will have $1050 at the end of the year. If you make 5% the following year, you will have $1102.50.

Cheapest is not always the lowest cost. Remind your child that there are more than immediate costs. If the $15 shirt falls apart in the wash after the first month, it would be less expensive to buy a $25 shirt that lasts a year.

Even though teaching children financial responsibility may seem overwhelming, it is imperative that children are aware of the marketing and peer pressures they will face and are empowered to make wise decisions with their money.

Changing our Paradigm

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Technology is changing so fast, it is impossible to know what the world will be like in a year, much less four or five. Just 25 years ago, the Internet was still in its infancy, mobile phones were just gaining popularity, and genetically modified foods were not yet on the market. Now we are worried about biological computers, electronic currencies, and the health impacts of genetically modified foods.

For decades, education experts encouraged schools to track kids into narrow areas like molecular biology, medieval history, copyright law, or Fortran programming. As technology advanced, the lines between disciplines began to disappear and some areas vanished.

Now a person’s long-term employment prospects are based on his/her ability to quickly learn new things, interact with others, and change. This means everyone needs a strong understanding of all the disciplines including the arts, math, history, science, languages, etc. In addition, employers need people who can communicate, listen, and empathize with others; have a strong work ethic; and possess good character. This means our kids need a completely different type of education than we did when we were growing up.

Here is a list of the skill gaps that exist in our education system and parenting approaches.

1. Ability to think critically and assess and analyze information
The problem often develops in elementary school. Primary school teachers need strong proficiency in this area.
2. Collaborative/Influential
Students need practice working with others. Schools are not structured to provide exposure to different ages.
3. Agile/Adaptable
Schools/parents want stability. Students need exposure to change.
4. Initiative
Students need opportunities to start new programs, etc.
5. Effective Written and Oral Communication
Schools need step by step teaching approaches and effective ways to assess proficiency.
6. Curious, Imaginative, Creative
Schools should foster these abilities with short creative blocks during the teaching day.
7. Ethical
Parents need to demonstrate acceptable behavior.
8. Polished and Courteous
Parents need to teach their children basic life skills – allow others to finish speaking before you begin, chew with your mouth closed, etc.
9. Well-read
Parents should discuss world affairs and technological advances with their kids.
10. Strong work ethic
Parents need to teach their children about self-discipline, punctuality, follow-through, etc. and then allow them to experience consequences when they do not deliver.

Once we realize what worked in the 1900s no longer makes sense today, we can work together to make sure our kids are ready for life on their own.

Embrace Change

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


“If you do not create change, change will create you.” ~ Unknown

Change has always been an inevitable part of life. However, the speed of change and the amount of change a person can expect to see over his/her lifetime has increased substantially in the last 50 years. A recent Innosight study gives us an idea of the magnitude of the shift. In 1958, the average age of a company on the S&P 500 listing was 58 years. Now it is about 18 years. In addition, pundits suggest there are significant technological developments about every two years.

This rapid change can be overwhelming and can quickly leave those who are not actively embracing it behind. As a result, young people need practice adapting to change, so they can adjust quickly and efficiently.

In addition to helping children prepare for life on their own, change also:
• Teaches flexibility
Frequent change makes it easier to adapt to new situations, new environments, and new people. When kids have this type of exposure, it is less likely they will “shut down”          when something unexpectedly shifts.
• Encourages growth
Change forces young people to adapt in ways that are outside of what they have experienced which can help children with personal development.
• Reveals likes and strengths
It is challenging for a child to know what he/she enjoys or what comes easily to him/her unless he/she tries many things. Change is often the only way this exploration occurs.
• Creates opportunities
When the environment or activity is changed, kids can start again without any preconceived expectations.
• Fosters creativity
New environments force children to figure out how to integrate and succeed.
• Cultivates risk-management skills
With exposure, children learn to break change into small pieces so adjustment is easier.

Parents are often the biggest reason kids struggle with change. Many adults are fearful that change will make their kids socially isolated and encourage them to embrace risky or anti-social behaviors. Interestingly, many kids who embrace these undesirable behaviors attend the same high school for all four years and participate in the same activities year after year. These same kids often struggle to adapt when they are finally on their own.

Given how fast technology is changing one has to wonder if conventional wisdom still makes sense. Is it possible that 21st Century kids need a different environment to flourish – stable relationships with their parents and family members and frequent change elsewhere in their lives?

Schools need freedom to make our kids intelligent

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


In the late 1990s Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist working at Harvard University, broke intelligence into eight areas: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Even though many psychologists disagree with Gardner’s views on intelligence, the categories he created provide a good base for the abilities people need in the modern workplace.

It is nearly impossible for someone to succeed if he/she is only intelligent in one area. Artistic products require technical and financial support and the most technical products require beauty and a strong user interface. It is pointless for a scientist to conduct amazing research unless he/she can effectively communicate his/her findings to his/her colleagues; and it makes no sense for a musician to create beautiful songs, unless he/she can execute successful contracts so the songs make him/her money.

In short, all kids need strong visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal abilities. Sadly, few children graduate from high school with strong abilities in all these areas. Perhaps it is because we have tasked our K-12 schools with so many things (teaching, coaching, parenting, counseling, etc.) that it is impossible for them to succeed.

Maybe we should encourage schools to return to their primary mission. Then they can focus all their energies on maximizing visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligence.

This limited focus would give schools time to rethink their approach to building intelligence and encourage them to find ways of identifying learning gaps early. They would have time to implement third party curriculum based testing (teachers have not seen the test ahead of time) at least once a quarter. Then teachers could identify deficiencies within a few weeks of when a student has missed a concept and could take corrective action quickly,

Some people worry that returning the focus of K-12 schools to academic areas would impact students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal development. In fact, the opposite might be true. Instead of relying on schools to offer sports, leadership, and other pursuits, schools could contract with community organizations to handle these activities. These organizations have lower overhead, so they could offer these activities at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, the students would have a wider range of options available to them.

Technology has changed the world. Now it is time for us to set aside preconceived ideas and think about how we can change education to prepare children for this new world.