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March 6, 2017

This week’s family-related news included a look at the importance of teaching writing, research on how social bias is unconsciously conveyed to children, a review of a film that gives kids hope even in bleak circumstances, an inspiring story of a married couple who both have Down Syndrome, the anniversary of the book company that helped make children’s books accessible, research on the detrimental effects on black students when they study on predominantly white campuses, a look at the tricky business of keeping a teen safe on line while also supporting their independence, everything you wanted to know about Charter Schools, a mother’s personal account of humility, strategies to help support teen’s emotional agility, how to keep older girls involved in STEM subjects, and software for parents to help them support their children’s academic success.

Is It Time To Go Back To Basics With Writing Instruction? Katrina Schwartz, KQED, February 20, 2017 Most educators acknowledge that literacy is important, but often the focus is on reading…In the last few years there has been more focus on writing in classrooms and on tests, but many students still have difficulty expressing their ideas on paper…The idea behind “progressive mastery” is to protect students from what confuses them until they have mastered each individual component.

How Social Bias Can Transfer From One Generation to the Next Deborah Farmer Kris, KQED, February 21, 2017 Allison Skinner, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, said adults exude nonverbal signals that display their biases, and these signals create an “infected atmosphere” for children… Efforts to make changes require adults to examine their own biases and to be aware of the overt and subtle cues they are sending to children.

Oscar-Nominated Animated Film My Life as a Zucchini Makes for a Satisfying Meal Andrew Lapin, NPR, February 23, 2017 Told in stop-motion, Zucchini packs a lot of detail into its brief, 67-minute story of an orphan who moves into a group foster home…In the world inhabited by Zucchini and his friends, darkness is not some physical demon to overcome but a simple fact of life, and kids can cheer as these characters embrace their situations without magic erasers, to find the small glimmers of light that will push them through.

Couple with Down Syndrome Celebrate 22 Years of Marriage Hayley Pugh,, February 24, 2017 Maryanne and Tommy Pilling were thought to be the first Down syndrome couple to tie the knot in 1995 but were hit by a wave of criticism…They have proved doubters wrong after 22 years of wedded bliss and a huge Facebook following of people inspired by their heartwarming story.

The Poky Little Puppy and His Fellow Little Golden Books are Turning 75 Lynn Neary, NPR, February 25, 2017 The printers, publishers, writers and artists who brought Golden Books to the market had a lofty goal — they wanted to “democratize children’s books,” making them both affordable and accessible. To that end, they were sold in department stores, train stations, drugstores and supermarkets.

For Black College Prospects, Belonging and Safety Often Top Ivy Prestige Denene Millner, NPR, February 26, 2017 In their 2015 paper, Reimagining Critical Race Theory in Education: Mental Health, Healing and the Pathway to Liberatory Praxis, Ebony McGee, a professor at Vanderbilt University, and David Stovall, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that black college students who weather the effects of studying and living on predominately white campuses suffer from a “physical and mental wear-and-tear that contributes to a host of psychological and physical ailments…For black families, the choice of where a child should attend college is every bit as much about self-care as it is about getting a solid education…”

To Keep Teens Safe Online, They Need to Learn to Manage Risk April Fulton, NPR, February 27, 2017 Parents of teens know how tricky it is to keep their kids physically safe while balancing their need for greater independence, but when it comes to keeping them safe online, it can be even trickier…Developmental psychology says the Holy Grail of parenting teens is striking a balance between parental supervision and teen autonomy, and that teens learn coping skills when parents are actively engaged yet mindful of teens’ need for independence.

Just What IS a Charter School, Anyway? Claudio Sanchez, NPR, March 1, 2017 These publicly-funded, privately-run schools have been around since the first one opened in St. Paul, Minn., in 1992. Today, they enroll about 3.1 million students in 43 states…However, most Americans misunderstand charter schools… this was the finding of the 2014 PDK/Gallup poll on public attitudes toward education.

My Son’s Five Weeks in Jail Were a Humbling Lesson in Parenting and Compassion Laura Euler, The New York Times, February 27, 2017 Pretending that life is as it used to be before my husband left and my income plummeted, just as my son started college. Before I had to pay for a criminal lawyer, plus fees and fines. I never talk about my actual life: canned soup for dinner, unpaid bills and sweats from the Jail Wear section…I didn’t know they were going to send him to jail. I thought nice middle-class college boys like my son got a slap on the wrist…

Emotional Agility as a Tool to Help Teens Manage Their Feelings Deborah Farmer Kris, KQED, February 28, 2017 One way teens can manage these experiences, according to psychologist Susan David, is by equipping teens with the emotional skills to help them develop the flexibility and resilience they need to flourish, even during hard times…Emotional agility is the ability to not be scared of emotions, but rather to be able to learn from them and use emotions for all the things you want to do and be in the world…Two additional strategies that parents and teachers can draw on to help teens become emotionally agile are: values affirmation and autonomy.

Succeeding in the New Global Economy Alanna Petroff, NPR, February 28, 2017 A new survey commissioned by Microsoft found that young girls in Europe become interested in so-called STEM subjects around the age of 11 and then quickly lose interest when they’re 15…The survey also found that girls’ interest in humanities subjects drops around the same age but then rebound sharply. Interest in STEM subjects does not recover…Microsoft admitted it doesn’t have a comprehensive explanation for why 15-year-old girls lose interest in science and math. But it has uncovered some strategies to keep them engaged…

Parent Alert! Your Child Just Skipped Class Anya Kamenetz and Corey Turner, NPR, March 2, 2017 Lots of research supports the idea that students succeed when parents get involved. This time, working with the largest school district in West Virginia, they built software that communicated directly with the electronic grade book that teachers were already using, and they used the phone numbers parents provided on class lists. This study suggests that parents may just need a little nudge to be more helpful to their student.

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