Monday, October 30, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Parents Weigh In: 20 Tips to Encourage Your Elementary Schoolers to Read

Having trouble getting your child excited about reading? Try these creative ideas to keep your elementary reader turning the pages of a good book.

After coming home from school, your elementary-aged children will undoubtedly spend time completing their daily reading homework. For some kids, their reading may end there. Yet as parents a great goal is making reading a fun activity beyond school assignments.

That’s why we asked our Scholastic Parents Facebook audience for suggestions on how their families encourage reading for fun throughout the school year. Check out their tips -- which may not only inspire some new ideas, but also remind you how you can bond as a family through reading.

“We make reading a whole family thing. We read together. We read to each other. We read separately. Older siblings read to younger siblings. We make sure that the kids see that we read for enjoyment as well. Reading has feelings of enjoyment, fun, love, and family in our house. Now, we run into how to get them to stop reading, so we can get other things done.” -- Christina Montgomery

"Our go-to is letting our kids pick their own books! The faster they read through their books the faster they get new ones. I buy them each 2-4 books at a time and while I try to guide them towards my childhood favorites, they get to choose what they're interested in reading!" -- Anna Turkel

“My tip is telling them each book will take you on an adventure you have never been to. You can even travel to places you've never seen! It works for us. Make reading sound exciting and fun. It opens up an entire new world for your children. We love reading. We love books!” -- Lisa Shults

“We go as a family to our local library and stock up on anything that looks interesting. We have a large basket for our library books surrounded by bean bag chairs. During the week, we have a no TV rule and everyone ends up in the bean bags reading whatever they want.” -- Desirae Flores

“Start reading from day one. Even though your infant won't understand, if you make reading time a part of their everyday schedule, your kids will begin to look forward to that time. Pick out all kinds of book and engage your children while reading. Once they start talking, they will engage back with you, ask questions, and make observant comments about the story. Make this time sacred time in your family and your child will cherish it [because] not only will it be bonding time, it will foster a love of reading too. My children are 5 and 2 and my oldest is already reading and if my youngest is quiet, he is most likely sitting in front of his bookcase 'reading' some books.” -- Taisha R. Alvarez

“My daughter reads for 20 minutes every day when she gets home from school, and I read to her for 20 minutes every night before bedtime. Reading is so important in our family!” -- Danyelle Dolan

“My family's go-to tip for encouraging reading is to find a subject my kids are passionate about and get books concerning that subject. It helps so much. My son loves history but hated reading. We got him a bunch of history-centralized books and next thing we knew he was reading on his own for fun. My daughter loves animals so we steer her toward reading material like zoo books. We've seen a huge improvement in both of them.” -- Bridget Amaral

“Reading is a family event in our house. We like finding books that we all can enjoy so we can sit together and have a read-aloud. Kids will be more encouraged to read when everyone else is [involved]!” -- Amber Miller

“When my son turned 5 years old, I took him to the library to sign him up for his very first library card. He was so excited. I even bought him a reusable bag, so when we made trips to the library he has something special to take the books home in. I have him lay in bed with me and we read together until he falls asleep. We have read so much that he's considered a Superstar Reader in school. He reads above his grade level. We gradually worked our way up to reading higher level books. He reads, and if he gets stuck, I have him sound out the word until he gets it right. He's so proud of himself!!” -- Jillian Carr

“We encourage the kids to read books and then do a craft i.e. poster, shoe box, drawing, book journal anything creative [about the book]. They love the craft part, so it encourages them to want to read more!” -- Angela Franklin King

“It's all about finding the right series for us! Our almost-10-year-old daughter just recently discovered the Dogman books and it has sparked a love of graphic novels in her. That's pretty awesome! I would have never thought of those for her. Our soon-to-be 8-year-old daughter loves the challenge of a 'big, thick' book (LOL) so for her we go for age-appropriate books that hold a collection of stories. That way she still feels it's a win but doesn't get overwhelmed with a book that is out of her range.” -- Ashley Dietrick

“We read one book together with our family every day! And we let our kids choose the book of their choice to make it fun and of their interests!” -- Ruthveveli Packer

“My daughter reads daily both in English and Spanish. Our family might relocate to Spain in the near future and she is aware of how necessary it is for her to know the language.” -- Virginia Pino Rodriguez

“Be a mentor, a mirror! You can't ask your kids something that you don't do yourself. My bunch sees Mom reading whenever possible! We start a book, read together or alone, and when finished feel so accomplished and smarter, and sometimes donate to school. And the best part is, we get to go on Scholastic, and order a new book we look forward to reading!! They want to read, and for that I'll give them all the books in the world! So proud of my lil' readers!!” -- Josie Malloy

“We encourage reading by awarding them with change they can use for new books at their school book fairs along with setting goals for the amounts of books to finish by the end of the school year. Setting expectations with rewards helps make reading fun and creates a competitive game with our children. They are so proud whenever they finish a new book or chapter!” -- Rocky Anastasio

“We have 'family date nights' at the library where we look for new books for each age group and search for books that interest each child.” -- Amy Pavlock

“My son is autistic and nonverbal, so to try to encourage any and all forms of communication I read to him, explain pictures, look up ASL [American Sign Language] to go with stories. We read anything and everything about day-to-day life.” -- Millissa Pope

“My daughter loves to read to me. She is in the 2nd grade and is reading at a 6th-grade level. We have been reading together for years. Her favorite is the tag-team approach; She will read a chapter and then I will read a chapter. Special sound effects and different voices for all the characters is a must, especially when reading books above her grade level with very few pictures and a tougher vocabulary. My daughter also enjoys writing short stories and little comics, which help with her creativity. She loves reading those to me. It is all about making reading fun.” -- Wendy Andrade

“We keep books in the car, on the end tables and in their bedrooms. My older child is allowed (on weekends) a flashlight to read before bed in his room. We also read together each night before bed or review sight words with our littlest. Our children also see us reading often. I even run a book club, and we've encouraged the kids of our mom members to join in each month.” -- Janel Thomas

“We read out loud together. We also take a couple days in the month to have read-a-thon. We stay in our PJs, leave the TV off, and cuddle up with a good book. I'm so grateful to have children that love to read. My boys have been writing their own book. They are 8 and 6 years old, so of course it's about zombies. But it makes me so proud!!” -- Samantha Lynn Santos

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

North Bay Science Discovery Day is Saturday, October 28!

It is once again time for North Bay Science Discovery Day which is part of the Bay Area Science Festival

The North Bay Science Discovery Day is a free annual event designed to inspire children (Grades 4-8) to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. Last year, over 14,000 people attended Discovery Day at Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. The event has free admission, free parking and an incredible array of fun, interactive exhibits with hands-on games and experiments including robotics, animals, microbes, DNA and much more. Our exhibitors are not allowed to sell any items as we want this to be an event that ALL children can enjoy equally.

Our event will be held this year on Saturday, October 28, 2017 from 10:00-4:00 PM at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The First Asteroid Ever Discovered - Carrie Nugent

Over the course of history, we’ve discovered hundreds of thousands of asteroids. But how do astronomers discover these bits of rock and metal? How many have they found? And how do they tell asteroids apart? Carrie Nugent shares the story of the very first asteroid ever discovered and explains how asteroid hunters search for these celestial bodies.

Lesson by Carrie Nugent, directed by TED-Ed, animation by Reza Riahi.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

4 Ways to Get More Involved in Your Child's School

Explore these accessible ways you can help make a difference at your child's school — beyond the PTA.

As a former classroom teacher and school administrator, I witnessed firsthand the huge impact that family involvement has on school culture and home life. Being involved in your child's school sends a message to the school that you are there to support the staff and that you are a team player. It also sends a message to your own family that you value the school and it's an important part of your life.

There are many ways to get involved with your child's school. If you work during the day and can't get to the school, there are even ways to support the school outside of the school day.

You might be familiar with the idea of a PTO or PTA group, chaperoning a field trip, or participating in fundraisers benefiting the school. But, there are even more ways you can be involved. Below are some other ideas that might resonate with you.

1. Read Aloud to the Class

It is such a treat for a child when a family member comes to school to read to the class. Your child's favorite book, a new release that you can leave behind for the class, or a book from your own childhood are all great reading choices.

If you can't make it into the classroom to read, try using a video conferencing tool such as Skype, Hangouts, or FaceTime to connect with the class and share a story.

2. Prep Materials

As a teacher, I spent many nights in front of the television cutting out laminated materials, collating packets of work, or stapling paper together to make blank books for my students to create stories.

Ask your child's teacher if there's any prep work you can help do from home. Or, you can visit the classroom and help prepare materials needed to make your child's day full of learning opportunities and experiences.

3. Lend Your Skills and Talents

Put your career or job skills to use for the school. If you're a graphic designer, help out with a school flyer. A florist could donate or offer discounted flowers for the graduation ceremony. A restaurant worker might lend serving dishes and utensils for a teacher appreciation luncheon.

Share your talents or expertise with the teachers. Everyone has something that could be beneficial in a school environment. I've had a musician parent share songs with students, a dentist parent provided toothbrushes, a mom who worked at McDonald's had her manager donate gift certificates to the school, and a dad built planters for an edible garden in the schoolyard. What are the skills or talents you can share?

4. Be an Advocate

One of the simplest but most powerful things you can do to support the school is to be its advocate. Talk to other parents and encourage them to attend school events. Encourage families who are unhappy about a situation at school to talk to those involved. Call the school when you have a question or concern. Working together is more productive than anything else you can do.

To get started with any of these ideas, send a note or make a phone call to your child's teacher. Chances are the teacher will be thrilled to hear from you and happy to work around your schedule.

Your child's school and your family will be rewarded through these involvement experiences. Plus, your message that school is important to your family will ring loud and clear to both your child and the school.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Should You Use a Private Tutoring Service?

Hiring a private tutor is really based on the evaluation of either one or both parents. Before settling for spending the money on a tutor, consider the significance of good grades as well as your child's ability to obtain those grades. Be sure your child agrees with it as well, in order to get the most benefit from the time and money spent on a tutor.

Private tutors offers help for homework, present test taking strategies and assist strengthen areas where your child is showing weakness. By concentrating on whatever area, which is often the cause of having poor grades, you will most likely see improvement after just a brief period of time. Factors that your child may need a tutor to help with grades include motivation, learning style and test taking skills.

Although costly, hiring a tutor may kick your child into focus and address the condition of a child who is just not trying. This particular can be a temporary solution though, since lack of motivation may suggest much more problem. While focusing on the short term objective of improving grades, try to identify the root of the problems as well.

Your child may have a learning style different to what the teacher is concentrating on. A private tutor can teach and explain the same information in an alternative way, enabling your child to learn the information more effectively. Normally a child understands the information, but has issues performing well on a test. A tutor can spend some time to concentrate particularly on these test-taking skills which will allow a child improve test results. Your child will be trained to stay focused during the test day and get better in information recall.

In case your child has a learning disability or is otherwise not capable of doing better, a tutor can provide further assistance. Alternatively, if your child is much smarter than his grades show, a private tutor can help persuade these students to try and do much better. Employing a private tutoring service to help your child can be beneficial both your child's report card and self-esteem, making it possible for him to realize his hard work may lead to getting better grades.

Now, keep in mind that hiring a tutor is a personal decision, same thing with choosing the right tutor for your child. Regardless of whether you hire a private tutor, get your child enrolled in an after school review group, or begin going to a commercial learning center, the decision has to be weighed considering your child's preferences.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Surprising Cause of Stomach Ulcers - Rusha Modi

It’s a common misconception that stomach ulcers are caused by emotional upset, psychological distress, or spicy food. Yet no convincing study has ever demonstrated that these factors directly cause ulcer disease. So what does cause stomach ulcers? Rusha Modi explains how one doctor’s famous (and dangerous) experiment led us to the answer.

Lesson by Rusha Modi, animation by Black Powder Design.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Helping With Big Homework Projects

Know when to step in and when to back off.

The contest to create the best visual often prompts many parents to get overly involved in their kids' school projects. But teachers say that by doing so, parents are missing the big picture. The ultimate goal isn't how beautiful the project is; it's the lesson the kids ultimately learn about taking the necessary steps — from research to presentation — to reach the end result.

The Parent's Job
Parents play an important role in that process. One way parents can achieve that goal is by coaching their child through the steps of a project from start to finish. Here's some thoughtful advice on how to help your child do her best:

Ask questions.
Questioning helps your child define the assignment. Is this historical figure's early life important? Does it make him who he became? What are the five most important events in this time period? What was the turning point in the war? Why would you recommend this book? What character made the most powerful impact?

Get out the calendar.
Help your child set goals and create deadlines. For example, by the end of a certain week, complete all your research. Then create a timeline the following week.

Narrow his focus.
Many kids bite off more than they can chew. Suggest that your child spend the first few days absorbing information and reading about his subject before figuring out what the important elements are.

Designate a work space.
It might be a spot near the computer or a place she can leave out her books or the work in progress. Having a designated space eliminates the need to gather together materials. It also serves as a constant reminder that the work has to get done.

Do the tedious work.
If typing is frustrating your child, it's okay to do it for him. Just don't work on the project without him.

After the project's done, discuss the process.
Talk about whether you had enough time and what you would do differently in the future.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

How To Know When To Get A Tutor

Education expert Ann Dolin discusses how to know when your student needs the help of a tutor.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What Are Gravitational Waves? - Amber L. Stuver

In September 2015, scientists witnessed something never seen before: two black holes colliding. Both about 30 times as big as our Sun, they had been orbiting each other for millions of years. A fraction of a second before the crash, they sent a vibration across the universe at the speed of light that was picked up by the LIGO detector. So what are these ripples in space? Amber L. Stuver explains.

Lesson by Amber L. Stuver, animation by Eoin Duffy.