From this week’s news:
- School Stress Takes a Toll on Health, Teens And Parents
NPR Shots blog: Almost 40 percent of parents say their high-schooler is experiencing a lot of stress from school, according to a new NPR poll conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. In most cases, that stress is from academics, not social issues or bullying, the poll found.
- Education and Health in Schools: A Survey of Parents
RWJF: Parents give schools low grades for their lack of focus on physical activity and have mixed views about the health of food available at school. Most parents gave their child’s schools high grades though they also voiced concern that schools are not adequately preparing children for entering the workforce. Contrary to the high grades that parents give schools in general, a large number of parents gave schools low grades for their lack of support of physical activity. Parents also had mixed views regarding school lunches with most parents reporting school lunches as healthy, but also reporting that schools serve a variety of unhealthy foods.
- Regular Breaks from Sedentary Time Found to Improve Children’s Health
EdWeek Schooled in Sports blog: It’s not exactly breaking news that large amounts of sedentary time tend to have negative effects when it comes to a child’s health. The simple act of regularly interrupting sedentary time by standing up, on the other hand, could have beneficial effects for children, according to a study published last week in the journal PLOS ONE.
- Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better
NPR Shots blog: A teen’s relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren’t getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.
Yesterday, more than 100 members of the Boston community joined City Connects as we convened our annual gathering of Boston community partners to discuss “Supporting Immigrant Students and Families.”
On our panel, Vera Johnson, Director of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Newcomer Counseling and Assessment Center, shared her experience working with families new to Boston and its public schools. After finding that parents and caregivers kept returning to her office when they had questions about schools, Johnson created a position dedicated to supporting families beyond their students’ initial enrollment into school: Parent Liaisons. Speaking a variety of languages, Parent Liaisons educate families, encourage participation in school events, and provide assistance maneuvering the BPS system. Johnson’s office, in response to the needs of new families, also began offering English classes for adults. She reports seeing parents grow into “savvy” members of school communities.
Panelist Suzanne Lee, a community activist and former BPS school administrator, shared her first experience with school after immigrating from Hong Kong. Lee was a top student in grade 6 when she left Hong Kong but upon arriving in Boston, was told she should be in grade 4; her lack of English skills led to the assumption that she “didn’t know anything.” She learned how to rely on herself and ultimately earned a college scholarship and spent her career working in education and community activism. While teaching English to garment workers in Boston, she said she realized why her mother–once a garment worker herself–worked so hard: she was looking for an opportunity to get ahead, and her hopes and dreams were with her children. As a teacher and principal, Lee learned that it takes more than good teaching and learning for children to succeed. “All children can succeed if we meet their needs,” she said. “The first rule is to listen.”
We also heard from City Connects’ own Raghida Jeranian, a Program Manager who supervises School Site Coordinators in Boston. She relayed the story of a Coordinator who welcomed a Somali student and her family midway through the school year. To help with the student’s transition, the Coordinator set up a lunch group where the student could make friends with others new to the school and secured a space in an after-school program with a focus on homework help (the student’s parents didn’t speak English and were not able to help with homework). The Coordinator learned from the student that the family could not afford furniture in their apartment. Sensitive to the family’s privacy and pride, the Coordinator reached out to let them know of the services she could connect them to outside of school, like free adult English classes and donations. Thanks to their burgeoning relationship, the mother felt comfortable requesting help furnishing their apartment and the Coordinator was able to secure donations. This family shared with others how the Coordinator was able to assist them and they, in turn, felt more comfortable contacting the Coordinator and becoming more engaged with the school community.
Thanks to all of our partners who joined us yesterday, and thank you for your ongoing collaboration! Together, we are ensuring that students to come to school ready to learn and thrive.
For more information:
- Learn how English Language Learners (ELL) in City Connects schools outperform their non-ELL peers on reading report card scores
From this week’s news:
- More Children Are Being Medicated for ADHD Than Before
NPR Shots blog: The number of children being diagnosed with is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And families increasingly are opting for medications to treat kids. Two-thirds of children with a current diagnosis are being medicated — a jump of 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.
- Public Health Alert: One In 10 High Schoolers Hurt By Dates With Slaps, Strikes
WBUR CommonHealth blog: A new study by Boston public health researchers paints a bleak portrait of the dating scene among young people: One in 10 high schoolers say they’ve been hit or otherwise physically hurt by someone they dated in the past year. The study, published in the Journal of School Violence, found that “9.3 percent of U.S. high school students have been ‘hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose’ by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year – an annual prevalence rate that has not changed significantly in the past 12 years.”
- Screening children for mental health issues may not guarantee care
Boston Globe: Six years after the state launched an unprecedented effort to address the mental and developmental needs of young children, doctors in Massachusetts are screening more children for behavioral health concerns than any other state. Nearly 7 in 10 Massachusetts children under age 6 in low-income families were screened in 2011 and 2012 — more than twice the rate in the United States as a whole, according to data released this month by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center as part of the national Kids Count report.
- Music Training Sharpens Brain Pathways, Studies Say
EdWeek: New research suggests that the complexity involved in practicing and performing music may help students’ cognitive development. Studies released last month at the Society for Neuroscience meeting find that music training may increase the neural connections in regions of the brain associated with creativity, decision-making, and complex memory, and they may improve a student’s ability to process conflicting information from many senses at once. Research also found that starting music education early can be even more helpful.
From this week’s news:
- School Violence Lowers Test Scores, But Not Grades
EdWeek Rules for Engagement blog: Violent-crime rates negatively affect students’ accountability test scores but do not seem to show an effect on overall grades, according to a new study from Brown University.
- Long-Term Benefits of Music Lessons
NYTimes: Childhood music lessons can sometimes leave painful memories, but they seem to carry benefits into adulthood. A new study reports that older adults who took lessons at a young age can process the sounds of speech faster than those who did not.
- Trim Recess? Some Schools Hold On To Child’s Play
NPR: A growing body of research shows that play is fundamental to kids’ development by promoting social interaction, exploration and creativity. There are no recent national studies or fresh numbers on recess time, but 2005 data from the Education Department survey and a 2006 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about 9 in 10 elementary schools regularly schedule recess, with times ranging from 24 to 30 minutes a day. Still, many districts report that they are under continued pressure to add instructional time to the day — and recess minutes are often the first place administrators look.
- Schools That Separate the Child From the Trauma
NYTimes Fixes blog: Recently, I reported on the damaging effects that prolonged stress can have on young children who lack adequate protection from adults. Over the past 15 years, researchers have learned that highly stressful — and potentially traumatic — childhood experiences are more prevalent than previously understood. Now scientists are shedding light on the mechanisms by which they change the brain and body. These insights have far-reaching implications for schools, where it’s still standard practice to punish children for misbehavior that they often do not know how to control. This is comparable to punishing a child for having a seizure; it adds to the suffering and makes matters worse.
- Crayons Down. Now Dig Into That Healthful Parfait.
NYTimes: A new obesity prevention initiative by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health seeks to teach children who cannot yet spell the names of their fruits and vegetables to love them and eat them every day.
City Connects School Site Coordinator Sarah O’Connor was a featured speaker at community partner Cradles to Crayons‘ Family Volunteer Day recently. Sarah is based at the Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA) in Boston’s Allston neighborhood and says she’s a “frequent flier” at Cradles to Crayons (C2C), which provides children living in homeless or low-income situations with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. Sarah spoke to nearly 200 volunteers at C2C’s “Giving Factory” warehouse about the impact donations have on students.
“Cradles to Crayons is an essential partner for the Gardner Pilot Academy,” Sarah said. “Cradles helps to meet the basic needs of many of our students and provides them with the items that they need to be successful in school. We are so grateful for their ongoing support.”
This year, all GPA students received new backpacks full of school supplies at the beginning of the year and the soccer team was outfitted with cleats before taking the field this season. It’s a two-way partnership–GPA hosts donation drives at the school for C2C and brings students to volunteer at the Giving Factory.
“Sarah has been an all-star and really taken this partnership to the next level. We are so thrilled to have her hands-on support and knowing that she puts so much time and effort into each child’s needs is reassuring to us. We feel privileged to have her as the point person for so many children in our community,” said Dave Cotugno, Family Philanthropy Associate at C2C. “C2C is thrilled to have such a strong partnership with City Connects and provide them with tools to help children thrive inside and outside of school.”
C2C will be honoring the Gardner at the upcoming “Un-Gala” event on December 7, which will allow every GPA student in grades K-5 to receive new pajamas and a book to take home for winter break.
For more information:
- Follow Cradles to Crayons on Twitter @C2CBoston
We are convening our annual meeting of Boston-area community partners on Wednesday, December 4, to discuss “Partnering with Immigrant Students and Families.” We will tap the expertise of Vera Johnson, Director of the Boston Public Schools Newcomer Assessment and Counseling Center, and Suzanne Lee, community activist and former school administrator. We’ll seek to answer:
- How can we best recognize and promote the strengths immigrant students and their families bring to school communities?
- What needs can community partners help address?
- What are the school- and community-based resources that can support these strengths and needs?
As always, the event will provide an opportunity to hear updates from City Connects and to network and share resources with other organizations from across the city. Continental breakfast will be served. The event is free but space is limited. Register here.