Big Kid School  &  Learning

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    When it comes to finding the right schools for kids with challenges like autism, often it's not bullying by other kids that we have to worry about; it's bullying by adults who just don't understand how these special conditions affect kids. One mom made that heart-sinking discovery when she enrolled her son with autism in a small, private Catholic school.

    "We couldn't think of a better place for our son," Diane Lang writes in a heartbreaking blog post, "How Do We Determine the Worth of a Child?" Lang believed the school's Christian values and supportive community would provide exactly the environment her son needed, "where kindness and compassion were paramount." Over time, though, it all fell apart.

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    You know what I'm getting really sick and tired of? My kid coming home from school and telling me that his entire class was penalized in some way, shape, or form because one or a few of the students in his class acted out.

    I swear, at least once a week, he gets off the bus and tells me how his day was kind of a bummer because his class was forced to stay in for recess. Or be silent during lunch. Or any other sort of lame punishment -- all because of the actions of one, two, three, etc., students who couldn't seem to keep their behavior in check that day.

    Seriously -- what is up with teachers and other school staff punishing kids when they didn't do anything wrong? Are they just really bored or fed up or ... what?!?

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    When it comes to our children and their schooling, most of us would climb the highest mountain if it meant our kids were able to receive the best education we could provide for them. One devoted father in China is, literally, carrying his disabled 12-year-old son on his back and walking him to the nearest school that will accept him -- which is inconveniently located 5 miles away from their home.

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    Even though cursive writing, or script, seems to have gone the way of the telegraph in recent years, some states -- including, most recently, Tennessee -- are working to try and preserve it. A bill is about to go before their state House that would make it mandatory for children to learn how to write in script at school, most likely in the third grade. One lawmaker, who is also a teacher, was reportedly inspired to write the bill after he discovered only about half of all children in the state could read a teacher's writing if he or she wrote in cursive. The move is a step in the right direction -- now if only every state would jump on the script bandwagon.

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    After parents, teachers are arguably the most important people our children will come into contact with in their young lives. A great teacher can turn our child onto science, awaken in her a love of writing, or simply make him feel comfortable, happy, and secure for a few hours a day -- something that is just as important as learning math. And yet, so many talented and dedicated educators leave work each day feeling like they haven't accomplished anything. The rules and expectations are changing rapidly around them -- one day Common Core is king, the next day they're told they can no longer teach great works of fiction. It's easy to see why so many teachers feel like their hands are tied and they aren't making the difference they know they could.

    Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of Carry On Warrior, Thought On Life Unarmed, wants us all to know how special her son Chase's teacher truly is. This heartwarming letter is one that should be shared with every mom, dad, and teacher you know.

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    When I think about kindergarten, I picture a peaceful environment that is both fun and educational. At this grade level, children are getting their first taste of being away from mom and dad for long periods of time -- which can be super scary. With hope, caring teachers are introducing them to books and fascinating subjects that will awaken in them a life-long love of learning, while taking their emotional needs into consideration and disciplining them in ways that teach, and don't disrespect.

    Well, that's the ideal scenario, anyway. In reality, some school administrators, like the principal of one school in Connecticut, aren't thinking twice before doing horrendous things, like dragging 5 and 6-year-old children across the hallway as if they were animals.

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    The other day my 8-year-old son brought home his weekly envelope of class work for me to review, and among his spelling worksheets and carefully crawled mini-essays and crayoned drawings, I spotted a sheet of subtraction problems that looked slightly ... odd. He had two problems to solve, both fairly basic, but he also had three columns on the page in which he had been required to use different strategies to solve the problems. The first column looked perfectly familiar to me: one number was on top of the other, with a line drawn underneath both and his answer below. The second and third columns, however, made exactly ZERO sense to me no matter how long I peered mouthbreathingly at the "strategies."

    I have long dreaded the day when I could no longer help my children with their homework because their knowledge had surpassed my own -- but I hadn't quite imagined it would happen in the SECOND GRADE.

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    When it comes to weather, do NOT go against Al Roker. The man is one hell of an authority on all things storms and he'll let you know when it IS and IS NOT safe to hit the streets in your school bus, car, or snow boots, got that?! The Today show co-anchor took to Twitter today and went absolutely mental on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, questioning his common sense for choosing to keep city schools open in spite of a bad storm that left 12 people dead in the South and has already caused mayhem and at least one death in the Northeast. 

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    The following is a post from our sponsor, VolunteerSpot.

    Don’t break the bank (or your back) searching for the perfect gift for your child’s teacher! Yes, we would all love the time and skill to craft that Pinterest-inspired, decoupage memory treasure box engraved with our teacher’s name on it, but we all know that just ain’t gonna happen.

    Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, or really any day, what counts for your teacher is your recognition and the thought behind it. Add meaning to the simple things and you’ll be sure to show your child’s teacher how much you love them:

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    Old MacDonald had a ... mutilated cow? Many children fall in love with these soulful creatures and other rural animals when they're mere toddlers playing on the rug with their Little People farm friends. Some parents, myself included, choose to give our little ones organic or almond milk because we want to avoid harmful hormones and have heard far too many horror stories about the ways in which cows are treated on many dairy farms. Maybe we've even discussed these realities with our children. But parents at an elementary school in California are outraged this week because members of PETA reportedly took matters into their own hands by distributing "comics" containing illustrations of mutilated cows to children as young as 6.

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