Posted in Exercise and fitness, mind and body, School-related, Uncategorized

Recess—The “New” Law (?!)

Welcome to 2016, everyone. Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and happy upcoming year. Thank you for your patience and support these past, erratic weeks. I’m working on getting back into some kind of routine.

I heard a recent news snippet that NJ law makers are looking to sign into law a bill that mandates recess for school-aged children. Preferably, one that is held outdoors.

Well…duh.

Back in my 6th grade days—yes, the dark ages 😉 —I remember being in 6th grade and having a 15-minute, outdoor recess daily (in addition to lunch recess). In fact, I recall days when it was so windy and cold, a few of my classmates and I tucked ourselves behind a wall outside one of the entrances, creating a shield between us and the wind.

Through high school, I still recall being allowed air. My public high school’s building was a new construction, and included a fully-enclosed courtyard. Kids got to go OUTSIDE during lunch, study hall, etc, but had no way to leave the grounds.

Fast-forward to my kids and 5th grade, when, for the first time in the history of their school lives, the kids got only 10 minutes outdoors after lunch, weather permitting, and those rules far stricter than in my day (i.e., stay off the grass, no ball play, etc) Since my district’s 5th graders attend a 5th-grade only separate building, the kids are appropriately disappointed to find there is no longer a 20-minute lunch recess (after they eat).

Nat state forest 1

By middle school, and through high school, there is NO outdoor time (barring gym; and again, weather-permitting). Movement breaks for the kids are considered “built into” the changing of classes. Like the high school I attended, my current district’s high school has a large, enclosed courtyard, but I’ve never seen it put to use. Nor has either of my kids ever reported spending any time at all there.

I remember reading an article—at least 10 years ago—that stated the diagnosis of ADHD appeared to have risen significantly once recess went out of school.

Ya think?

Sorry for my attitude of disdain, but I can’t help thinking that lawmakers might be priding themselves on having re-invented the wheel. Does it really take a college degree to figure out that kids need to move? Heck, we all do, as the popularity (and big industry) of Fitbits and related technology bears testament.

Present-day curriculums are academics-driven. That’s all fine and appropriate, but not if a child—no matter the age—is so saturated with information, artificial light and re-circulated air that learning is compromised. When did addressing one’s basic human needs go out the window? (Oh, yes, many of the classrooms don’t have those either. Not that every teacher opens them, and some keep the shades down and classrooms dark. Note: I do realize there are areas where it could be more dangerous to leave them open. What a world we seem to be living in.)

Everyone needs to move. We all need fresh air. Babies. Kids. Adults. Seniors. Passing four years of high school Phys Ed is a graduation requirement in my state.  NFL Play60 campaign posters are all around. (Honestly, far more than that is much more favorable, but unless a student trains with a school team, who has time when bogged down with academics and homework?) Spending time outdoors, moving, exploring, learning–no technology can replace what a child absorbs from simply being outside and running around, climbing, etc.

Nicholas daredevil KMS

The bottom line is this. Introducing recess into the school day is no novel notion. Taking it out was, IMHO, a bad idea in the name of more time for academics. Guess some ‘old school’ ideas are classic and bear re-installment.

Where do you stand? Should recess be re-installed? Or should direct instruction time not be sacrificed? Should outdoor time be left to before and after school, and maybe lunch—or maybe extending a school day to include that? Should middle and high school students be allowed to step outdoors for air during the day?

Enjoy the upcoming (extended) weekend

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

 

 

Posted in School-related, Uncategorized

Ah…the PARCC…

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend, everyone!

I promised we’d cover all types of topics here. Not sure I want to tackle this one, but the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is quite the hot one these days. It has been for months and most likely will continue to be so, especially once scores start coming in.

Hype, angst, opting out, refusal, teacher evaluation, funding; Bill Gates and Pearson profiting from it—just some of the buzzwords associated with PARCC. (I won’t touch the lock-and-key PARCC’s predecessor paper-and-pencil tests were kept under; rumors of teachers and/or test administrators at risk to lose their jobs if they happened to glance down at a student’s test booklet while walking around the class—I mean, seriously??? Over a test? What’s it made of, anyway? And yes, I understand it all ties into funding a given public school system. I’m thinking every kid’s education should weigh equally, and not because a test ties into the determination to allocate $$$.)

I don’t know enough about PARCC. I do know it is designed to test knowledge of the Common Core Standards, what kids learn from education supposedly aligned with those standards. (Feel free to enlighten me–please.) Being a parent and a public school civil servant myself, I know it’s there and that I have to deal with it. (I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to do so directly on the professional side.)

“Opting out” is not a choice in my state, but a refusal letter can be sent to the principal at any time, even after testing sessions are under way. Older Son is a senior and doesn’t have to take it. Younger Son is a sophomore and asked if I’d write him a letter of refusal.

I looked into it (some) and spoke to his guidance counselor.

This year, PARCC scores supposedly ‘won’t count’ against students or teachers. (Test results will eventually count as 10% of a teacher’s evaluation—the initial number was 30%.)

At present, passing the PARCC is not a high school graduation requirement. (My state’s stance on that could supposedly change at any time and count retroactively. If that’s true, I can’t see how that is fair play. I also have to wonder: what DOES count in PARCC’s place? Previous standardized tests used are no longer an option.)

Younger Son, not the most scholastic of children, has shown serious potential for proficiency on his PSATs. (He was a handful of points shy of the proficient mark.) These DO count as a graduation requirement, and can be used in lieu of a PARCC score. He will take them again as a junior, with a year more of education under his belt when doing so.

At sixteen, Younger Son is old enough to tune in to all the hullabaloo surrounding the test. He sounds jaded by it, and has an attitude toward it. Given his personality, I don’t see him sitting for the test and giving PARCC his best shot. I’d hate for the state to decide to count his potentially lower scores against a teacher who did his/her best.

So, for this year, I’ll let him forego a PARCC venture. Come next year, I would hope for more definite information on which to base this decision.

Your thoughts? Assuming you have children in the 3rd-11th grade range, are you for them taking the test or not? Why?

Links to two articles that provide a touch more background. These are to be considered FYI–not necessarily MHO–just two of a multitude that caught my eye. The first, however, is from Scholastic, so I’m hoping they’ll be more fair and unbiased. No way to tell for sure:

Common Core Under Attack

Mom: Why My Kids Won’t Be Taking the Florida Standards Assessment Tests

All the best,

Joanne

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back… (Part Two)

Welcome back, and thank you again for your time! I hope you find something that will make your parenting journey even a hair easier.

If you’re here for the first time, you might want to catch up by reading Part One.

And here is where we left off last time: Younger Son is on a journey toward commitment to football, but not to his grades.

Football Xbox school

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be an honors man, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about in the previous post? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting next to his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it? Please feel free to share about your experiences in the comments. And if you feel comment-shy, don’t hesitate to send me a private message via my CONTACT ME page.

Have a great day everyone!

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved (content and images) . 

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back…(Part One)

A solution often shows.

Welcome to my first “official” post on my new blog/website! (Please feel free to take a few minutes and peruse my other pages too!) I hope you know your time is greatly appreciated. As a working parent myself, I understand how precious it is. In the interest of time, I promise to keep the articles I share as short and to the point as I can make them. (That’s why I broke this one up and spread it over two days. 🙂 )

I also know–firsthand–the challenges parenting entails. Here is an episode–and some resolution–direct from my experience:

Younger Son is a great kid, my challenge-child and a definite work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure and/or implement Plan A, B, C, etc as needed, and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this almost 16-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it. Avoidance is king.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Last November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) My suggestion: “Try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the 2014-15 school year. He has been doing weight workouts regularly at home for about a year and added short spurts of biking or riding his skateboard to most of his days. (We’re working on finding him substitute cardio activities. It’s getting a tad cold for biking in our area.) He and his friends also get together for basketball or football games whenever the weather allows.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He keeps coming up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I promised to keep posts short and will pick up from here next time. Look for Part Two on Thursday of this week (Dec 11). In the meantime, thoughts, questions, insight and feedback are welcome. Please note that any comment you leave below might be helpful to someone else. You can also reach out to me privately via my CONTACT ME page. (Also, be assured only I will be able to view your email, and I NEVER share it.)

Remember to check in later this week for Part Two. (Afraid you’ll forget? Click the FOLLOW button at the top of the page. You’ll never miss a future post. It will automatically be delivered to your inbox every time one goes live.)

Have a great day,

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved.