Renascence School Education News - private school

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to pick the right school for your child

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


It is hard to believe, but it is time to start thinking about what school your child will attend in the fall. Registration for some schools has already begun.


Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce the anxiety associated with the selection process. First, start early. In the past 15 years many things have changed. As a result, it is important to do your homework, before you make a selection.


Get information about the curriculum. Do the kids learn all the basic subjects (math, science, language arts, history and a foreign language)? According to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, it is critical for children to have a strong understanding of math and science in the global age. Is the academic program designed to provide students with these skills?


Ask about results. With grade inflation in the US at an all time high, it is imperative that parents have concrete information on what their children learn. Does the school participate in third party testing? What do the school’s test results show? How do students in the program compare to children educated outside the US — Singapore, Taiwan, Belgium, etc? According to Thomas Friedman, author of the World is Flat, better education is imperative, because Americans now compete with the most brilliant minds in the world. As a result, it is important to make sure your children are prepared for this level of competition.


Inquire about expectations. What is expected of the students? parents? teachers? Is there a tie between student performance and teacher compensation? Schools that expect and reward performance generally produce better outcomes.


Speak to others. Ask to speak with parents whose children attend the school. What do they say about the school?


Consider logistics. Can you get your child to the school and still meet your other obligations?


Observe. You can learn a lot about a program by watching. Ask for a tour. If the school is not willing to show you around the facility, you should be concerned.


Assess. What are the pluses and minuses of each program? For example, a school may be very convenient, but the academic program does not meet your expectations.


Choose. This is the simple part. Once you have done all the homework, it should be easy to pick the best option for your child.


So don’t be intimidated! Finding the right school is not difficult. It just takes time.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Healthy food is an important part of child rearing

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Next time your child asks for soda, chips, sweetened juice, or chicken nuggets you might want to think twice. Most prepared items are loaded with refined sugars, unhealthy fats, additives, flavor enhancers and preservatives – things that can cause behavior and learning issues and long-term health challenges.


The attractive packaging and the taste of these prepared foods are appealing to kids and parents.


When parents look beyond the advertising they realize a high quality diet is an important part of providing for their children.


The National Cancer Institute says, “ Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year…. Eating a diet that contains five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle lowers the risk for all of these diseases.”


In addition to health issues, there is a correlation between healthy eating and academic performance. In 2011 Kate Northstone’s research team showed a link between diet and IQ. In this study young children who ate a health conscious diet (salad, rice, pasta, fish, fruit) showed an increase in IQ.


In a study in the New York City Public Schools researchers discovered, “A lowering of sucrose (sugar), synthetic food color/flavors, and two preservatives (BHA and BHT) over 4 years in 803 public schools was followed by a 15.7% increase in mean academic percentile ranking… on standardized tests.”


Processed foods are more expensive than raw ingredients, so families can lower their food budget and increase the quality of food they provide their children at the same time.


In today’s busy world there is a constant struggle to balance work and family, so it is imperative to find ways to prepare healthy foods from basic ingredients without increasing food preparation time.


Fortunately there are some simple changes that do not place additional demands on parents’ time. As a first step, parents should avoid having prepared food for snacking. Instead they should load the refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, yogurt, milk, eggs, lean meats, nuts, and dried fruit.


Once kids are eating healthier snacks, parents can look for simple meals made from raw ingredients. There are many resources on the web, so it is possible to find tasty raw food alternatives that only take a few minutes of preparation time.


With these simple changes, parents can maximize their children’s academic experience and lay the foundation for a healthy future.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Moving Smarter

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Although a healthy diet and adequate sleep help prepare a child for a day of learning, experts now believe exercise is critical for academic success.


According to Dr. John Ratey, Harvard University MD and Clinical Psychology Professor, our body, including our brain, is designed to perform most efficiently when we move. We have perfected our hard-wired need to conserve energy and find high calorie foods, but have failed to maintain enough movement in our lives.


We are all culprits. We drive instead of walk; our kids sit in front of the TV or computer instead of playing tag, climbing trees, and digging up buried treasure; and we go the grocery store instead of tending a garden.


Deb Skaret, who holds a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Alberta, and long time student of the brain says there is a strong link between exercise and learning. In addition, she believes attention problems in children can be related to a lack of physical activity.


Dr. Ratey agrees, “Exercise helps us with patience, optimism, focus and motivation. Exercise is like a little bit of Ritalin and a little bit of Prozac. It increases the levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and allows children to stay more focused, have less disruptive energy, and have less worries.”


He encourages “Time-In”, controlled physical activity on a stationary bike for example, rather than “Time-Out”, sitting quietly. He argues that the physical activity break allows the child time to “recover” and “control” his/her behavior.


According to Ratey, research also suggests a link between obesity and IQ. Obese children, who tend to be relatively physically inactive, have lower IQs than children of normal weight. So logically, a smart child with a weight problem could become smarter if he/she added more movement to his/her daily schedule.


Parent can also help with the process by shut off the TV, restricting video and computer time and encouraging daily activities that require their children to move.


So let’s get moving and get smarter!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Prepare Kids for Success in Math

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Imagine learning to fluently read and write Chinese in one hour a day for only 180 days each year. Impossible!


Now consider learning the foreign language of math in one hour a day for 180 days each year. Realistic?


If the goal is to ensure basic proficiency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and percentages, the level of exposure is probably adequate. If the goal is to get students to the math levels required for high quality 21st Century employment, there is not nearly enough time.


For success in math, kids must be able read, memorize, organize, and write and sketch legibly. In addition, they need strong spatial abilities, excellent sequential processing skills, and attention to detail.


All these skills take many years to hone. Sadly, most early education programs have a heavy focus on reading and memorizing, but have little (or inadequate) emphasis on organization, handwriting and sketching, attention to detail, sequential processing, and spatial orientation.


Part of the problem is early childhood education teachers are taught in programs where these skills were not a priority, so they either have weak skills themselves and/or do not understand the importance of teaching the skills.


Then there are curricula problems. Most early childhood education curricula are developed by individuals or teams of individuals who have years of experience with humanities and social sciences so spatial, sequential processing, and attention to detail skills are not priorities.


Another challenge is that these technical skills are generally not imperative in math until students reach late elementary school. As a result, teachers, school administrators and regulators often believe students are performing well even though they have skills deficits.


The combination of curricula that does not include the necessary skills, instructors who not well equipped to teach the skills, and delayed feedback on skills deficits is a recipe for disaster.


To correct the problem, we must change our early childhood education graduation requirements to include a 50/50 balance between the humanities/social sciences (psychology, sociology, language arts, etc.) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses.


Then, we need curricula developed by well-balanced teams that include equal representation from the humanities/social sciences and STEM.


Finally, we need a way of confirming that preschool to grade three students are obtaining these necessary skills.


With these changes, our kids should have the skills to succeed in math, the humanities, engineering, and social sciences!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Eating together helps children succeed

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


With all the stress of everyday life, parenting often seems like an overwhelming task. As parents, we want to do what is best for our kids, but there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do everything.


According to the latest research, there may be a simple solution – eat dinner together as a family. Kids who do this one thing perform better in school, eat a healthier diet, have better social skills and communicate more effectively with their parents than children who don’t.


Unbelievable? Here’s the data. According to a Louis Harris and Associates survey of 2000 high school seniors, students who regularly eat dinner with their families four or more times a week have better test scores than those who eat with their parents three or fewer times a week.


In addition, Dr. Diane Beals, Washington University researcher, and Dr. Patton Tarbors, Harvard University researcher, found that parents can enhance their children’s vocabulary by the way they talk to them at meals. Specifically they discovered that 3- and 4-year-olds whose family members expose them to “rare” words during mealtimes score higher on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test than those who do not receive the same level of exposure.


Also, Karen Cullen and Tom Baranowski, Ph. D. pediatric physicians at Baylor University, found that students in grades 4 to 6 who ate dinners with their families consumed more vegetables, more fruit and juice, and less soda. When children ate with their families, they also used more low fat practices.


As part of one of her shows, Oprah Winfrey conducted a “Family Dinner Experiment”. Families ate dinner together every night for a month, staying at the table for a half-hour each time. At the end of the month, the families were so pleased with the communication they planned to continue eating together.


However, there is one big challenge. After a long day at work, figuring out what to cook, shopping for the necessary ingredients and then spending 30 or 40 minutes preparing the meal is often too much.


Fortunately, there are ways parents can overcome this challenge. Some families prepare meals on the weekends and reheat them during the week. Others visit 15-minute recipe websites. And some frequent businesses that prepare meals for a reasonable fee.


The solution will be different for every family. Just remember eating together gives your child an advantage. Don’t miss out!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Pence Proposes Education Agenda to Expand School Choice

The Heartland Institute – Heather Kays

“Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is proposing to expand school choice and education options beyond having the broadest school voucher program in the nation…The governor’s agenda calls for changing the school funding formula, which Pence says will allow the state to reward K-12 schools for student achievement and allow schools to give performance bonuses to good teachers. The plan would also address the disparity between funding of traditional public schools and schools of choice and fix chronically failing schools by allowing school corporations and external school operators to implement plans to improve them.”(more)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

5 ways to create a performance-based school climate

E-School – Jennifer Medbery

“Students’ learning is affected by academic as well as nonacademic factors. Enabling them to achieve their full potential requires integrating learning outcome data with information about special needs, interventions and social/emotional factors.” (more)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Common Core: What Does It Mean for Boys?

Education Week – Kelley King & Ralph Fletcher

“Across so many indicators – achievement tests, grade point average, discipline rates, and both high school and college completion – boys, as a whole, continue to encounter greater difficulty in school than their female counterparts…Reversing the troubling trends for boys starts with figuring out what makes boys (and boy writers) tick.”(more)

Monday, April 21, 2014

University Education, a Wise Investment?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


For the past forty years, college has been a right of passage – a place to have fun, make friends, and grow up. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s a college degree of any type opened the door to high quality employment and above average compensation.


Then technology began to change and K-12 education faltered. High school graduates no longer had the skills employers needed for many jobs. In an effort to fill job openings with skilled personnel, employers began to require college degrees for a wider range of assignments.


These new employment requirements caught many families off guard. They had not planned for post secondary education, but wanted to provide their children with reasonable job prospects. To fill the gap many families obtained loans to cover the cost of college education.


At first the loans made financial sense, because the cost of college was low compared to income potential. This meant graduates could pay back loans quickly after graduation.


However the increase in demand for college education led to tuition increases as colleges and universities rushed to add programs and facilities. As the cost of university education increased, the payback period for loans increased as well – moving from a few years to decades.


At about the same time technology was radically changing the workplace. Low cost computer and communication technologies reduced the number of people required for most jobs and made it possible for companies to fill openings with lower cost workers from overseas. Most high quality job openings now require strong math and science skills, weak areas for most U.S. citizens.


U.S. colleges and universities have been slow to adjust to the new workplace demands. Many schools are still offering degrees that are useless in the 21st Century. This means students are graduating with poor job prospects and high debt.


According to Clayton Christianson, Harvard University Professor and expert on disruptive change, this is an equation for disaster. He predicts that over half of the colleges and universities in the U.S. will fail within the next 15 years because they are not offering a useful product.


Parents and students need to take proactive steps to avoid problems. Young people should be completely proficient in international level math and science by the end of grade 12. Parents need to confirm a college is financially stable before their child enrolls. Then young people need to select degrees that include advanced math and science and build strong communication skills.


Monday, February 24, 2014


Outside the Box – Juliann Talkington












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