December 8, 2007

Parenting Imperfect: Realities of life hard to break to kids

Very good article about kids and preparing them for reality…

Most talks about the unpleasant realities of life can wait. Taxes, for example, can be back-burnered until your kid actually has an income. Heartbreak, too, can wait until after puberty.

The talk about death isn’t quite as predictable.

The Diva has known about the concept for a few years. For her third birthday, we got her a five-gallon aquarium and a score of pink tetras. One month into her fourth year, we’d already flushed most of them.

September 7, 2007

When You Can No Longer Help Your Child with Their Homework

(ARA) – Many of us remember when our kids were young and helping them with their homework was fun, but that pleasure can turn to pain once they enter high school.

Even if you took the same courses they are now struggling with — algebra, American literature, physics, chemistry and Spanish, to name a few — those days can suddenly seem like a very long time ago. In fact, according to the May 2005 MSI-ACI Homework Study, more than two-thirds of parents experience frustration when helping their children with homework, citing the main problems as a lack of knowledge, a lack of resources and a lack of time.

Hiring a tutor is an option, but that can get very expensive. One helpful tool is Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008, an all-in-one software suite that helps students write research papers, solve difficult math and science problems, and learn foreign languages.

“Microsoft Student helps young scholars be more productive with their homework,” says Dave Brooks, product manager for Microsoft Student at Microsoft Corp. “Instead of just giving kids the answers, it shows them how to find those answers themselves. And it gives parents a resource they can use when they’re too busy — or simply unprepared — to help their kids with their homework.”

Ann Mackinnon of Minneapolis recently purchased the software to help her 14-year-old son, Ian, with his math and Spanish studies. “Things have changed so much since I was in college,” she says. “Even with the advanced math I took, the methodologies are different, so I couldn’t help my son the way I wanted to. This tool helps him help himself and makes everything much more visual.”

Mackinnon explained that instead of just giving Ian the solution, the software solves math problems step by step, just like Ian would in class. And a graphing calculator with 2-D and 3-D capabilities gives him a more visually engaging learning experience. Microsoft Student also includes a foreign language help section, covering French, German, Italian and Spanish.

According to the May 2005 MSI-ACI Homework Study, 84 percent of kids use a PC to do their homework, but 61 percent of parents say their kids don’t always find what they need on the Web. Even when they do find information, it’s hard to tell whether it’s accurate. Microsoft Student includes a premium version of the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia, giving students an easy way to find information they can trust for reports or research papers.

Microsoft Student is available for download for $49.95 (U.S.) at http://www.microsoft.com/student. Microsoft Math, an enhanced version of the math features included in Microsoft Student, is available separately on the same site for $19.95.  

“The most important part of helping my son with homework is getting him to the point where he can do it himself,” Mackinnon says. “It not only empowers him, but it saves me time. After all, parents don’t like spending hours on homework any more than kids do.”  

Courtesy of ARAcontent

May 21, 2007

Montessori turns 100 – what the heck is it by the way?

It took the free spirit of the 1960s to revive Montessori education in the United States. Montessori herself had died a decade earlier, but her emphasis on children’s “absorbent minds” and their capacity to teach themselves aligned with the era’s rebellion against school’s traditional strictures.

Montessori classrooms, with their silver candlesticks (for polishing), beautiful toylike cubes, and child-size shelves and bins, seemed like the perfect romantic alternative to boring workbooks and rows of desks. They still do.

Mothering Magazine, my own barometer of granola parenting gone too far, calls them “magical” and filled with a “sense of wonder.” On the 100th anniversary of the 1907 opening of Montessori’s first school—in the slums of Rome—5,000 schools devoted to her method dot the United States, with another 17,000 worldwide. Many are preschools, but some are for older kids as well.

Full story: The Cult of the Pink Tower – Montessori turns 100—what the hell is it?