Category Archives: Academics

Back to School and Back to GCP!!

After stepping away from regular GCP blogging for a while to work on a parenting book proposal, GCP is back and I will be back to more regular posts.  While the posts will still primarily focused on raising boys,  so much which has been posted already can apply to parenting girls as well as boys.  A lovely young friend with twins (a boy and a girl) recently told me how she had taken my advice to become involved in their school and is a class mom for this year.  Thrilled to hear. So all you girl moms out there, please join us and let me know when GCP advice works for you!

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School is back in session!   I’m sure you have focused on getting your son ready to go back to school.  Make sure you also take the time to focus on your back to school checklist:

  • If your son is in a single classroom all day, have you met his teacher(s)?  If he is a middle or high schooler, do you know what he is taking this year and how he feels about his classes so far?
  • Have you volunteered for a classroom and/or school activity? If your working hours prohibit this, have you found the parent/buddy who will keep you in the loop about what is going on at school?
  • Have you put the Parent’s Association meetings in your calendar and do you plan to attend one of the earlier ones in the school year?
  • Have you focused on his afterschool activities?  Making sure he is not over scheduled and that he is doing things he enjoys?
  • If necessary, have you focused on the technology he will need for the school year? If he uses a laptop, is it in good working order and does he have the means to BACK IT UP ( an external hard drive is best)?  This is really important;  neither he nor you will want to deal with his losing work following a computer crash.
  • Have you made sure your son has a good space in your home in which to study? Free of obvious distractions (no TV nearby), a comfortable chair and a good reading light?
  • If he has regular homework assignments, does he have a calendar/assignment book?  If the school doesn’t provide one, get one for him and help him figure out how to use it to keep track of his short and long-term homework assignment and projects.  Some students prefer to keep their calendars on their phones.  This works best, of course, if they are not easily distracted by the 7 zillion other things going on with their phones.

 

Take care of your checklist, and your son will be off to a great start for the school year!

 

Carol Sutton Lewis

Ground Control Parenting

 

*** P.S.  I have plans to build up the GCP network this year, and I’d love to hear about what is working for you and your sons.  Good parenting ideas need to be shared–we all need all the help we can get!  Please follow me on Twitter @GndCtrlParentg,  tell your friends to read GCP, and send me your comments! Thanks. 👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽📓📓

 

 

 

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Filed under Academics, Featured, Latest News, Parents, Uncategorized

GCP: Back in Action, Back to School

Greetings GCP‘ers!  Hope you enjoyed your summer break (we certainly did) and are settling back into your fall parenting routine. We at GCP have been spending a good bit of our break focusing on ways to improve this site and create a stronger and more interactive GCP parenting community. Stay tuned, upgrades coming soon.

So much to focus on for our boys as school begins! As you work on getting your school aged guys back in the groove of early morning wake-ups and full days of school, there are lots of ways to make sure they are getting the best back to school start possible. Here are some:

Parent Tool Kit: Check out the Parent Tool Kit, found here. It is chock full of resources to help you monitor and support your son’s academic and personal development. Download the new free Parent Tool Kit app so you can keep track of his progress and receive helpful parenting tips from your smartphone.

Common Sense Media Back to School Guide: Common Sense Media, a great site that provides parents with information, advice, and tools to support their children’s safe and positive use of media and technology, offers a guide to help parents answer the many questions that commonly come up at the start of a school year. This guide, found here, addresses issues for children of all school ages.

Help Your Kindergarten Son Get a Great Start to School: Common Sense Media also shares tips for helping your kindergarten son make the adjustment to “big boy school”. Check out “Get Ready for Kindergarten with Practical Tips, Tricks, and Tools” found here and “5 Teacher-Approved Apps to Get Your Kid Ready for Kindergarten” found here.

Secrets to Raising Really Smart Kids: In August 2014 Essence Magazine published “Secrets to Raising Really Smart Kids”, found here. This very thoughtful article gives parents “Achievement Prescriptions” for helping children of all ages reach their academic potential.

Easing the Back to School Transition: There are lots of resources on-line to help you guide your son through the tough transition back to a school schedule with a minimum of stress. The National Association of School Psychologists shares“Back to School Transitions: Tips for Parents”. PBS Parents’ offers “Back to School Tips for Parents”. Scholastic has an impressive assortment of back to school articles and resources for parents in “Back to School: Start Smart”, found here.

SchoolHouse Rock Lives!!: Couldn’t resist sharing this blast from the past: Remember SchoolHouse Rock, those delightful cartoon video shorts aired on ABC on Saturday mornings which taught us about grammar (“Conjunction Junction”), history (“I’m Just a Bill”) and other subjects using really catchy tunes? On Sunday September 7th, ABC will celebrate this beloved series with a new special, “The ABCs of SchoolHouse Rock”. LOVE SchoolHouse Rock!! When my kids were little I found a DVD of these videos, and this became our go-to car entertainment. To this day any one of us can belt out ” Interjections” upon command. This is undercover learning at its best. If you don’t know about it, run over to YouTube and check them out. And watch this ABC special!!

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Can’t get back to GCP blogging without mentioning the horrific killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and its aftermath. We have watched every parent’s (especially every Black parent’s) nightmare come to life with the tragic death of an unarmed young man at the hands of the police. So much has been said about this already. So much analysis, so much anger, so much angst. We are encouraged by the news that the Justice Department has just launched a broad investigation Thursday into the police department in Ferguson, Missouri in addition to its ongoing investigation of the killing of Michael Brown.

As always, GCP must ask: How do we talk to our sons about Michael Brown and dealing with the police? We will address this in an upcoming post. Stay tuned. Welcome Back!!!

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Filed under Academics, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Parents, Resources

Good News from Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy: College Edition

As many of you regular GCP readers may know, for the past 5 year Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy has been sending 100 percent of its high school graduates off to college. (See “Good News on the College Admissions Front”, April 16, 2014.) Recently Urban Prep Academy celebrated another milestone, as the first class of those high school graduates graduated from college. Watch this video of Krishaun Branch receiving his diploma from Fisk University, listen to him talk about his journey to college graduation and be very impressed, especially when you learn of his future plans. See the video here. Keep the tissues handy, you’ll need them.

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Filed under Academics, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18

Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Campaign

Remember “Reading Rainbow”?

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That delightful children’s series which encouraged reading, hosted by LeVar Burton and aired on PBS from 1983-2009? Burton has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise one million dollars to create an online version to expand the program’s reach.

When Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2009 Burton bought the rights to the show and its name and created the company RRKidz, which produces a Reading Rainbow tablet app. The Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to expand on that app, making it available on the Web and updating it with special tools for teachers on a subscription basis.

The campaign has gotten off to a very impressive start: it has already exceeded its pledge goal, with 29,145 backers having already pledged over $1,295,000. With 34 more days to go on the campaign, the Reading Rainbow team is hoping to raise additional funds to meet more ambitious production goals.

Read more about Burton’s efforts here and check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

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Filed under Academics, Ages 0-5, Ages 8-12, Books, Entertainment

Thank A Teacher!

Although Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9) has come and gone, it is not too late to show your appreciation for special teachers in your son’s life. In fact, the end of the school year is a great time to thank teachers for the hard work they have put in all year on your son’s behalf. Looking for cute year end gift ideas? Check out these Pinterest boards here, here and here.

Be sure to involve your son in the process of figuring out what to do for his favorite teachers. It will help him understand the importance of showing appreciation and celebrating great teachers if he participates in the purchase or making of a teacher’s gift. As you focus on year-end gift giving, please note that teacher’s gifts are much more about the thought than the price tag. In fact, many schools have dollar limits on what you can spend on a teacher’s gift. Check with your Parent’s Association/PTA reps for this information. And don’t forget about the people who work hard in your son’s school outside the classroom to make sure he has a good day, like the security guard or the school nurse. They should be appreciated as well!!

As you talk with your son about the teachers he wants to thank, talk to him about some of your favorite teachers. Not only is it fun to share your stories, but by sharing your memories of teachers you had decades ago, you will help him appreciate how important and influential a good teacher can be.

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Filed under Academics, Ages 0-5, Ages 13-15, Ages 16-18, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Parents, Resources

New Report: Time to Focus on Reading

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Common Sense Media has recently issued a report on children, teens and reading. While the report found here has some good news about children and reading, some of its findings relating to boys of color are particularly troubling.

First, the good news: Reading is still a big part of many children’s lives. Young children read or are read to for an average of between 30 -60 minutes daily, and 50 percent of parents with children under 12 read with their children every day. 60 percent of children 8 and under read daily. (Where do you and your children fall with respect to these statistics?) Reading scores among children and young teens have improved steadily between 1971 and 2012.

Now the not-so-good news: There continues to be a persistent and significant reading achievement gap between white children and Black and Hispanic children. Only 18 percent of black and 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders are rated as “proficient” in reading, while 46 percent of white fourth graders earn this rating. Even more troubling is the fact that the size of this reading achievement gap has been largely unchanged over the past two decades. And there’s more bad news: There is also a gender gap in reading time and achievement, as girls read for pleasure for an average of 10 minutes more per day than boys. This gender gap persists as the children get older, and has remained statistically the same over the past 20 years.

What Can Parents Do? Common Sense Media’s report suggests that there are specific things that parents can do in order to increase their children’s reading frequency: They can keep print books in their home, spend time reading themselves, and set aside time daily for their children to read.

How do you encourage your son to read? GCP wants to know!!!

childreading

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Filed under Academics, Ages 13-15, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Books

Quick Study Tips for Tests

As finals and other year end tests approach, pass on to your sons these tips for effective studying:

Find a Good Study Spot: Identify a place in your home which will be the designated study spot for tests and quizzes. Make sure it is free from clutter and distraction, and is away from noise and activity.

Review the Main Concepts: Begin your overall study plan by reading through your notes and refreshing your memory on major concepts. This will make it easier to fill in the details later on.

Rephrase What You Know: Restate the main concepts in your own words as if you were teaching it to someone. Being able to clearly explain things ensures that you fully understand them.

Study Out Loud: Read your notes aloud and talk to yourself about them. When you hear yourself think, it is easier to figure out what you know well and what you need to study more.

Rewrite your notes: Make a study guide using your notes. The process of writing what you already know will help cement it into your brain. Organizing the information by subject and section helps keep the information organized in your memory. After you write the guide, continue to use it to study.

We’ll be passing on additional study tips over the next few weeks. Good luck to all our boys on their final exams!!!

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Filed under Academics, Admissions, Books, Resources

Boys and the Power of 8th Grade Grades

In a recent report on gender, economic mobility and college success, a team of Columbia and Ohio State University researchers have concluded that they have seen the future, and it doesn’t look good for boys.

In their paper, found here and reported in the NY Times here, they assert that eighth grade report cards tell the story: if an 8th grader gets A’s and B’s, that student will likely earn a college degree. If he or she gets B’s and C’s, he or she is much less likely to complete college. By the 8th grade, girls are already well outpacing the boys academically on a national basis, which the researchers believe explains why women have had much greater success than men in completing their college degrees.

The researchers’ rationale behind using 8th grades as predictors is that social and behavioral skills, which are key to academic success in college, are established by 8th grade. The gap in these skills between girls and boys starts in kindergarten and widens through 5th grade. The researchers believe this gap to be “considerably larger” than the gap between children from poor and middle class families and the gap between black and white children.

This study aligns with what we at GCP have been talking about for years now: it is very important that our sons get and stay focused academically at an early age, and we parents have to do all within our power to support and help them in this effort. For those of us with sons who bombed the 8th grade; do not despair, all is not lost. Boys can and do get it together in high school, but they need attention and focus to make sure they are making their best efforts. This is a wake up call for all of us to focus not only on our individual sons’ performance, but on what needs to be done with a national school system that produces such lopsided results.

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Filed under Academics, Ages 8-12, Saving Our Sons

Good News on the College Admissions Front

For the fifth year in a row, all 240 of Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies seniors have been accepted into over 200 four year colleges and universities. The seniors, all African American young men, celebrated their success at a ceremony where they exchanged the red ties of their daily uniform for the red and gold striped ties signaling their impressive accomplishments. Here they are celebrating:

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Congrats to the seniors of Urban Prep! You can read a bit more about them here. Check out our previous posts “And Now For Some Good News From Chicago”s Urban Prep” (April 12, 2012) and More Good News from Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies” (April 1, 2013) to learn more about how well this school has been doing.

In other college admissions news, Harvard University has just accepted the highest percentage of black students ever for the class of 2018, which will start in the fall. Almost 12 percent of the total applicants who were offered admission next fall are black. You can read more about it here.

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Filed under Academics, Admissions, College Bound Students

Resolve to Stay Involved With Your Son’s School

As the new year begins, it is a great time to focus on being involved at your children’s school. Here at GCP we can’t say enough about the importance of parental involvement in schools. See, for example, our earlier posts “Back to School for Parents”, September 13, 2011 and “Parents Resolve to Get More Involved in 2012”, January 2, 2012. Being a visible presence at your son’s school benefits you and your son throughout the school year. But how to do this, given your crazily busy life? A recent Buzzfeed.com list suggests “18 Ways To Get Involved at your Kids’ School”, many of which can be helpful even for the busiest parent. Find this thoughtful list here.

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Filed under Academics, Ages 0-5, Ages 13-15, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, Parents, Saving Our Sons