By Vincent DiCaro, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Vincent DiCaro is vice president of development and communication for the National Fatherhood Initiative, where he has worked for more than 10 years to promote involved, responsible and committed fatherhood. He lives in Maryland with his wife and toddler-age son.
(CNN) – I’ll always remember the first time my son spontaneously said, “Thank you,” to me. It was only a few months ago. He has Type 1 diabetes and was having a low blood sugar episode. I brought him his favorite juice to get his blood sugar up, and when I handed him the juice he said, “Thank you, daddy” in his adorable toddler voice.
I melted of course, but I was also grateful that my son was picking up one of the most important character traits he will need as he grows up: thankfulness. But as the father of a 2½-year-old, I can say with confidence that thankfulness does not come naturally to children, mine included.
While my son is starting to say “thank you” on his own, it was only after making him say it over and over again; the first few hundred times he said those magical words, he didn’t even know what they meant. But somehow, he knew what “no” and “mine” meant right away - funny how that works.
So raising thankful children is an uphill battle against the generally selfish tendencies of children. But not all hope is lost. Parenting, like having a good jump shot, is a skill that can be learned through the right techniques and practice.
To get you started, here are five things you can start to do right away that will build a character of thankfulness in your children.
By Ray Salazar, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Ray Salazar is a National Board Certified English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. He writes about education and Latino issues on the White Rhino Blog. Follow him on Twitter @whiterhinoray.
(CNN) - Finally, Republicans and Democrats know that they need more than mariachis playing behind them to win the Latino vote. By now, almost everyone heard about the Latino influence this presidential election.
The signs were everywhere. Maybe this is the 2012 cosmic event predicted by the Mayan calendar. Now, President Obama must recognize Latino views as he moves forward with economic recovery and immigration policy and farther with education reform.
None of the parties should have been surprised by the Latino vote. On October 7, CNN’s “Latino in America: Courting the Latino Vote” reported that more than 60,000 Latinos turn 18 each month across the country, and we care about more than immigration. When Latinos were given a choice between what’s more important, immigration or the economy, 74% chose the economy.
More notably, the Latino vote for Obama exceeded the national Latino average in some battleground states: 87% in Colorado, 80% in Nevada and 82% in Ohio.
These votes indicate that the conversations need to change. For too long, education reform remained a black and white issue, racially and politically. Our educational system as is does not work, especially not for Latinos. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the Latino dropout rate is almost double that of African-Americans and about three times higher than that of whites.
by Martin Rand III, CNN
(CNN) – Music has often been used to teach kids complicated concepts. Shows like “Schoolhouse Rock” and “Sesame Street” showed that music can help kids digest lessons, whether it’s how a bill makes it through Congress or words that begin with the letter Q.
Now, Columbia University Professor Christopher Emdin is taking that same logic and applying it to high schools in New York City. But rather than Mr. Chips or Elmo leading kids in sing-alongs, enter the Wu-Tang.
Along with Emdin, Wu-Tang member GZA and the founders of the hip-hop lyrics website Rap Genius will announce a program that utilizes hip-hop to teach science in 10 New York City public schools.
“Everything has already been tried,” said Emdin, an assistant professor of science at Columbia’s Teachers College. “We’ve already done a pilot, and it was successful.”
According to Emdin, during the project’s trial period, attendance, interest and graduation rates all rose after hip-hop was introduced into the classroom.
Science has been one of the harder subjects to teach to black and Latino students, who make up 70% of the city’s rolls, according to New York’s Independent Budget Office. The 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress said only 4% of African-American seniors were proficient in sciences, compared with 27% of whites.
by Michael Schulder, CNN
Follow on Twitter: @Schuldercnn
(CNN) – This is the time in the school year when parents really have a sense of whether their children are struggling academically.
For those parents whose children are having a hard time with math, and are seeking help, one name seems to be popping up more and more: Salman Khan.
Each month, 7 million children and adults log on to Sal Khan’s website, the Khan Academy, to get clear, entertaining, informal video tutorials on everything from basic addition to advanced calculus and more.
So who is Sal Khan? Where does he get his credibility?
Is it from the three degrees he earned from MIT or the Masters he received from Harvard after being raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet?
Is it from the raves he gets from Bill Gates who uses Khan’s online videos for his own children?Read the full story and hear the podcast from CNN Radio.
by John Martin, CNN
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Some comments have been edited for space or clarity.
(CNN) – Donna McClintock, the chief operating officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. wrote last week's op-ed on redshirting kindergartners. You may have heard the term applied to college football players, but this isn't a sports story. Academic redshirting means holding a child back from school until he or she is ready. In the U.S., most kindergartners are five-year olds, so a redshirted kindergartner is usually six. McClintock says that when asking whether to redshirt a young child, "parents and educators must determine what that answer is by considering his individual needs and development and not by blindly following a trend."
Some readers questioned whether any child should ever be redshirted:
Rob Breisch: I can honestly say by my own example that it's far better not to redshirt your children – you are causing a life of issues from being not good enough for anyone's standards,and your children will face ridicule all their lives about it. So do them and yourself a favor – advance them and if required spend more time helping them learn.You can destroy a child by just setting them back like it's no big deal. Your child is not a toy nor a rat – so treat them with more respect and dignity and reach out and help them along – but don't make them repeat any grade!
Scott B: I know holding my kid back would be a very last resort. Regardless of what the article says, I went to school and remember how some of those held back kids were treated. About the only time it was a good thing was when they had a car before most of the class. Also, unless the kid simply can't cut it, I'd rather they be in a learning environment that challenges them more than I would want them to get better grades.
Amy: Everyone says "each child is different," and that's certainly true to some extent; however, there is a tendency for some parents to think that their child is particularly unique, different, special, etc. and must be treated differently (i.e. holding him/her back) because of that dazzling uniqueness.... With respect, I think some parents (especially moms) need to stop obsessing about this. Kids are more capable than many parents give them credit for.
Jeanne: What really annoys me is the parents who hold their kids back, so their kids are more than a year older than my kid, and then they claim that the curriculum isn't challenging enough. That is because your 7 1/2-year-old is supposed to be doing second grade work, not first grade.... So then the kid needs differentiated instruction, special trips to the library, and reading enrichment. Meanwhile my age appropriate 5-year-old summer birthday learns at the pace of the curriculum, because that is the age it is designed for. No, she's not special or advanced like your kid, but hey, she's a year and a half younger, and would have gone nuts being stuck in preschool another year. I still think my kid is getting the better end of the deal.
By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) A consortium of ten major universities announced on Thursday that it will offer online courses for credit in the fall of 2013.
The online education initiative is titled “Semester Online.” According to its consortium, it is the “first of its kind featuring rigorous, innovative, live courses.”
Colleges have offered online classes before, but it’s the rigor of the curriculum and the ability to earn credit for the courses that makes this initiative different. MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are open to all free of charge, but typically don’t award college credit.
There are 10 university partners in this effort. They are Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.
Pilot online classes will start in the fall of 2013. Academically eligible students at these universities will be able to apply for Semester Online this coming spring. The consortium hopes to expand both its course offerings and online student enrollment in the future. The faculty and course materials offered in Semester Online will be the same as those used in the traditional college classes.
(CNN) The goal of new USDA rules on school lunches is to make students healthy, but for many, the rules are also making them hungry.
Students have been complaining about the new rules for school lunches all over social media.
In this video from CNN affiliate KXJB, three athletes at Milnor School in North Dakota - Wyatt Mund, Andrew Martinson, and Colin Yagow– take their complaint all the way to first lady Michelle Obama, who championed the new school lunch guidelines. Their music video is titled "First Lady that I Used to Know," a parody of the Gotye hit song.
Principal Ned Clooten appreciates the intent of the new lunch rules and says that there are a lot of changes that are very good in the school lunch program.
"But the number of calories that we're providing some high school students just isn't enough," says Clooten. He supports the students who made the video.
The athletes hope their voices will be heard and bring about change in their school cafeteria.
By Carolyn Coil, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Carolyn Coil is a speaker, educator and author. She works with teachers, administrators, parents and students, offering strategies for raising achievement, developing creative and critical thinking skills, motivating underachievers, differentiating curriculum and assessing student performance. She has taught graduate-level gifted endorsement courses for more than 20 years. You can follow her on Twitter, @CarolynCoil.
(CNN) – American educators have struggled for more than 40 years to define giftedness. Yet even now, there is no universally agreed upon definition of what it means to be gifted. U.S. federal law defines gifted students as those who perform or who show promise of performing at high levels in any one of five categories: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability or visual/performing arts.
Beyond that definition, there are no specific national criteria for identifying gifted and talented students nor does federal law provide funding or mandates for identification of these students or programming for them. This definition is left to the states.
The result has been a wide variety of state definitions and methods for the identification of gifted children. Some states have specific definitions for giftedness, while others have none. Some states require programs for gifted students, while others do not.
In other words, the availability of programs and services for gifted students depends for the most part on where a student lives and what state, school district or school he or she is in.
(CNN) - A senior with a big smile is wearing an even bigger smile after this weekend’s Homecoming at St. Lucie West Centennial High School in Port St.Lucie, Florida.
Hakam Daley has not had it easy. He has cerebral palsy and has been in and out of foster homes most of his life. But he has many friends at school who nominated him for homecoming king.
“When I heard the message, I had no words to describe,” Daley said. “I was so happy.”
Kayla Donohue, a cheerleader and friend of Daley’s, secretly got the other seniors to nominate him for the court. Donohue said it was important to give Daley this “special experience that he’d remember the rest of his life.”
On Friday night, Daley lined up with other kids on the court, football stars and other popular students to hear who would be chosen king.
As they called his name, Daley did something he had never done before: With the help of caregivers, he walked in public.
When they announced that he was chosen king, Daley’s smile beamed brighter than ever.
Surrounded by teary-eyed students and flashing cameras, the kid with the big smile became the most popular guy in school. (WPBF video)
By Donna McClintock, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Donna McClintock is the chief operating officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. She has served in a leadership role in early childhood education for more than 29 years and has been in a senior executive leadership role for more than a decade. She has authored several books on the topic of early childhood education, including “The Heart Connector Series.”
I often read materials that approach a subject as if there were only one solution. Such is the case of “redshirting” children for kindergarten, which is the practice of holding a child back from school until he turns six. There is certainly a best answer for each child, and parents and educators must determine what that answer is by considering his individual needs and development and not by blindly following a trend.
No matter WHAT you decide to do, we know for sure that parents must understand that a child’s brain cannot be redshirted or held back. The child’s experiences during the fifth and sixth year of life are extremely important because the brain continues to develop and form synapses, and learning is at an all-time high.
It is the responsibility of parents and educators to challenge, nurture, inspire and ignite in our children a love of learning and exploration during this critical time. How do you do this when formal education in a school system begins as an individual choice for each child? There are several key factors to consider, but the child’s individual needs are the trump card in this decision.
Most research clearly shows that any gaps in levels of success between younger and older children are usually bridged by the third grade. This leaves parents to wonder if there is an advantage to holding their child back. I offer the position that the type of program your child is in during the first year of formal school is really the key to success.
Each child deserves a developmentally appropriate setting that understands how children 5 to 6 years of age learn, whether that is a formalized kindergarten program, the home environment provided by parents, or another alternative.