Friday, November 26, 2010

Parenting Teens: Is Your Teen Ready for College?

How much preparation is your teen doing to get ready for college?  Besides dreaming about a new freedom, are they taking the education seriously?  The coursework can be different and very challenging to some.  Keeping your teen motivated in a positive direction is important.+

Source: Connect with Kids

College Prep or Not?

We found that when students take those upper-level courses, beyond Algebra Two … it greatly increased their chances of being ready for college.”

– Jon Erickson, ACT Educational Services

As high school seniors all over the country work to complete their college applications, a troubling new study called the 2010 Deloitte Education Survey reveals that slightly less than one-third of high school educators feel their students are prepared for college when they leave high school. In fact, findings support that a third of college students are taking remedial courses in college.

Twins Lauren and Stefanie are college freshman. Both of them say their high school wasn’t all that demanding.

Lauren says: “I saw teachers who lacked willingness to really be there. Teachers who I thought didn’t really seem to care about preparing their students.” And she notes, “I didn’t see a lot of incentives in my school for students to be academically motivated. We didn’t really get any kind of rewards or anything like that for being motivated.”

Stefanie had a similar experience. “Most of my friends,” she says, “were in what was called on-level classes. And the on-level classes were not intense. (They) did not require much effort at all … didn’t require attendance, even.”

That leaves many experts wondering … are high school kids prepared for college?
Jon Erickson, vice president of educational services for ACT, which administers the annual college entrance exam, explains, “If students aren’t ready for college, especially as measured by the college readiness benchmarks, their odds of either not getting into college, of going into remediation or not doing well once in college or of not graduating are greatly increased.”
According to the Deloitte 2010 Education Survey, more than one-third of college freshman need remedial courses to catch up. And a staggering 92 percent of teachers surveyed say they don’t have the data to help them measure how their students are doing in college – to make adjustments to their coursework.
Experts say, the way to get ready for college is for high school kids to take the toughest courses they can.

“We found that when students take those upper-level courses beyond Algebra Two… the upper science courses like physics,” says Erickson, “it greatly increased their chances of being ready for college, regardless of how they do in high school.”

And he says parents can play a huge role in motivating their kids. “We find that if they help their students choose their four-year course plan very early in eighth-grade, that’s a great benefit to students.”
Stefanie and Lauren say they were encouraged to take those higher-level courses, and it’s paying off. Both are doing well in their first semester in college as they head into final exams.
“I’ve always been very into my education and wanting to push for success,” says Lauren, “and my parents always placed a big emphasis on my schoolwork.” Stefanie says, “I really feel that I was prepared, that I know what my teachers expect of me.”

What We Need To Know

Schools nationwide are urged to strengthen the high school core curriculum to help improve students’ readiness for college and the workforce. Students in K-8 who are not learning the foundational skills for rigorous high school coursework should be identified earlier and provided with supportive interventions, thus preparing them for higher-level math and science courses such as trigonometry, pre-calculus, chemistry and physics.

A new study by ACT, Inc. reveals that racial and income gaps in college success rates can be narrowed by ensuring that all students take a rigorous core curriculum in high school. The report, entitled “Mind the Gaps: How College Readiness Narrows Achievement Gaps in College Success,” calls for college and career readiness standards that are aligned among K-12, postsecondary education, and workforce training programs. It also suggests that student readiness for college and career should be monitored early and often.
The U.S. Department of Education prepared this list of recommended high school coursework for college-bound students. The specific classes listed here are examples of the types of courses students can take:
  • English for four years. Types of classes include American Literature, Composition, English Literature and World Literature.
  • Mathematics: Three to four years. Types of classes include Algebra I, Algebra II, Calculus, Geometry, Precalculus, Trigonometry. History and Geography for two to three years. Types of classes include Civics, Geography, U.S. History, U.S. Government, World History, World Cultures.
  • Laboratory Science for two to four years. Types of classes include Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics.
  • Foreign Language for two to four years.
  • Visual and Performing Arts for at least one year. Types of classes include Art, Dance, Drama or Music.
  • Challenging Electives for one to three years. Types of classes can include Communications, Computer Science, Economics, Psychology, Statistics.
Students and their parents should enlist the support of the high school guidance counselor. Questions to ask can include:
  • What basic academic courses do you recommend for students who want to go to college?
  • How many years of each academic subject does the high school require for graduation?
  • What elective courses do you recommend for college-bound students?
  • Can students who are considering college get special help or tutoring?
  • What activities can students do at home and over the summers to strengthen their preparation for college?
  • How much homework is expected of students preparing for college?
  • What do different colleges require in terms of high school grades and SAT or ACT scores?


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teens and Sex: Remaining a Virgin in College

Believe it or not, some teens do in fact want to remain virgins until marriage. If you are part of this group and have managed to survive high school with your virginity still intact, then you have completed a huge accomplishment. But you will learn early on that during college you will be faced with a variety of different challenges that might make your vow of celibacy hard to keep. But there are some easy and practical ways that you can remain a virgin in college.

The first thing you need to do is know your limits. If you wish to remain a virgin, this doesn't mean that you have to cast off the opposite sex indefinitely, but you do need to be open about your desire to remain a virgin and set your limits. As cliché as it may sound, many lose their virginities because they were "caught up in the heat of the moment." So it's best not to put yourself into a situation that could jeopardize your virginity. For example, if you have no intentions of surpassing passionate kissing (or whatever your limit may be) let your partner know and make sure that it never truly gets past that point.  Know your limits and stick to them. If your boyfriend/girlfriend or date becomes agitated with your limits, then it's probably best you send them on their way and find someone else who is understanding. And there are people out there who are understanding, don't doubt that.

Another way to remain a virgin in college is to avoid temptations like alcohol. All too often males and females lose their virginities with a one night stand because they were drunk.  Not only do they lose something in an instant they've worked their whole lives to keep, but drunken sex is also a common way people contract STDs and get pregnant (they tend to forget about using contraceptives). Avoiding temptations doesn't necessarily mean you can't have fun and go to parties, but you can either not consume alcoholic drinks all together, or at least make sure you drink responsibility.  Limit yourself to one or two, nursing them rather than "chugging," and eat a good meal beforehand.

Lastly, don't make having sex, or rather not having sex, a goal. This is because if you constantly have it on your brain, it will become an active part of your thinking process. Once it's a part of your thinking process, you will either have to constantly resist the urge or you will let it take over your life—potentially sabotaging a wonderful relationship for fear that you will be pressured into having sex. Instead of worrying about having sex or not having sex, immerse yourself in your other interests and your school work. When your mind is stimulated and satisfied in other ways, you will become less interested in sex.

This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes on the topics of top online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:  This article is reprinted with the author's permission.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Parenting ADHD: 10 Common Myths of ADHD

In a recent government survey, 1 in 10 kids was said to have ADHD, a sizable increase from a few years earlier that researchers think might be explained by growing awareness and better screening.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been the subject of scrutiny in recent years due to the perception that it’s a faux disorder. A patient isn’t diagnosed after an X-ray or blood test, but rather with a behavioral evaluation that considers his or her unique situation. The lack of physical evidence fuels the skeptics despite the fact that many of them lack experience in dealing with the disorder. Just ask a parent of a child or an adult who suffers from ADHD, and they’ll tell you that it’s more than just the occasional loss of concentration -- it hinders their ability to function to their potential, in school and social situations. The following myths have been perpetuated by people who don’t understand ADHD but have been debunked by doctors, mental health professionals and people who live with the disorder.
  1. ADHD isn’t a real problem: It’s a common opinion that disorders like ADHD were devised by drug companies in order to make a few extra bucks, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s a recognized disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Medical Association (AMA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a majority of national psychiatric and psychological organizations. Acknowledgment of ADHD is almost unanimous by mental health professionals and researchers who have studied it.
  2. ADHD is an excuse: As previously mentioned, ADHD is a legitimate disorder, and one that can hinder a person’s ability to reach their full academic and personal potential. Symptoms include: difficulty focusing on one thing, difficulty learning something new or completing a task, listening problems, general confusion and disorganization, the inability to sit still, the constant desire to be in motion, excessive talking, the inability to remain quiet for even short periods of time, and poor impulse control. A comprehensive list of symptoms is available by clicking the link.
  3. Strict discipline can solve childhood ADHD-caused problems: Many people claim that strict discipline can solve a child’s behavioral problems caused by ADHD. Some skeptics tend to view it as a generational problem, asserting that children are spoiled and need to be more harshly punished for their actions. The truth of the matter is that children with ADHD lack sufficient impulse control and excessive punishment can prove damaging to their mental health. And while it’s important to set clear expectations and establish structure, it’s also essential that parents remain patient with their children.
  4. All ADHD sufferers are hyperactive: Although constant hyperactivity is the primary problem associated with ADHD, it’s not the only symptom. Inattentive-type ADHD, or ADHD without the “H,” has become more recognized by the medical community in recent years. A person can control their impulses while being inattentive, which can lead to substandard academic performance. Even shyness is characteristic of inattentive-type ADHD sufferers; children with the disorder require positive attention, as low self-esteem may become an issue.
  5. ADHD indicates a lack of intelligence: A Yale report published in 2009 showed that about three of four people with ADHD and an IQ score of more than 120 experienced difficulties with memory and cognitive tests. On the other hand, people without ADHD with similar IQ scores didn’t have as many problems. ADHD doesn’t discriminate based on IQ score. People of all intelligence levels have it; many just need assistance in harnessing their capabilities.
  6. ADHD medication causes a drugged feeling: A doctor or mental health specialist will determine the appropriate treatment for ADHD based on the unique needs of the patient. Side effects are closely monitored and if a medication has an adverse effect, the dosage will be lowered or it will be changed to something more suitable. The stimulant that’s typically prescribed comes in different forms, including capsule, pill, patch and liquid. Some have short-term effects while others have long-term effects. In short, there’s not one treatment that’s applied to everyone.
  7. ADHD can be diagnosed through a medication trial: Psychostimulants have the same effect on people without ADHD as they do on people with ADHD, so a noticeable difference in behavior subsequent to taking a medication isn’t a true indicator that a person has the disorder. A person who thinks they may have ADHD should consult a doctor or mental health specialist, and he or she will make an assessment with the assistance of diagnostic criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association, or the American Academy of Pediatrics if a child is being examined.
  8. ADHD diagnoses have become too common: According to the CDC, just three to seven percent of school-aged children had ADHD in 2006. Between 1997 and 2006, diagnoses of ADHD increased by an average of just three percent each year. A 2005 report by the CDC indicated that 4.4 million children aged four to 17 were diagnosed with the disorder, and just 2.5 million of them were prescribed medication. What’s more, many medical professionals and researchers assert that girls and minorities are underdiagnosed.
  9. ADHD is limited to children: Many children who endure ADHD still battle it well into adulthood, and many adults will be diagnosed for the first time years after they’ve entered the real word. Instead of forgetting homework assignments, failing to complete in-class assignments and inefficiently studying, they may forget an appointment, produce at a slower rate than their peers, and exhibit a general lack of preparation. In many cases, the result is job instability and a lack of career fulfillment, which can affect their overall quality of life. Adults who think they may have ADHD shouldn’t hesitate to visit a doctor or mental health specialist.
  10. People with ADHD can’t succeed: The lengthy list of talented people who have ADHD includes 14-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw, Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea, and Virgin Group founder and billionaire Richard Branson. Additionally, great innovators, thinkers and leaders from the past are said to have shown symptoms of the disorder, like Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Charles Schwab and John Lennon. Given the sheer amount of people who have overcome ADHD to achieve their dreams, it’s clear that it doesn’t have to be an impediment to success.
Contributor: Jasmine Hall

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teens and College: Is Your Teen Ready?

Guest Blogger, Brian Jenkins, asked me to share this fantastic post with my readers.  As many parents of seniors and juniors that are looking at colleges, this is a great intro to helping them get a head-start.

The Challenge of Preparing Kids for College

The choices made by tweens and teens in middle and high school can have major impacts on the rest of their lives. That’s why many parents begin talking with their kids about going to college when they enter sixth grade.

It is definitely a wise idea for parents to explain the importance of education to their children that. By starting the conversation early, kids will think of going to college as a given part of their futures. Parents can talk to their kids about interesting jobs that pay well and require a college education. Taking kids to visit college campuses can inspire them to attend college, and it makes college appear to be more tangible. Parents can inform their kids that students enjoy college life and it’s something to look forward to.

Think College Early, a website developed by the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to help middle school students understand the importance of preparing for college before they enter high school.

Academic Preparation
Academic preparation for college starts in middle school. Research has shown that kids who take algebra and geometry by the end of the eighth and ninth grades are much more likely to attend college that those who do not. A nation-wide sample indicates that only 26 percent of students from low-income families who did not take geometry attended college; however, 71 percent of students from low-income families who took geometry went to college.

Students who take algebra early in middle school have the opportunity to enroll in chemistry, trigonometry, and physics in high school. Parents should also encourage their teenagers to take Advanced Placement courses. Besides good grades, parents should consider continued hard work, effort, and improvement among their child’s successes.

College Students and Alcohol
Alcohol is an important topic for discussion with teenagers before they enter college. Excessive use of alcohol can be a major problem for college students. David Fassler, MD, states that “Because of the way their brains are wired, college students are more susceptible to overuse of drugs and alcohol, which can lead to extremely serious problems.” Alcohol use can affect performance in school, not to mention the more tragic consequences with which we are all too familiar.

Overly Structured Parenting
A study indicates that college-educated mothers in the United States are becoming preoccupied with preparing their kids for elite college admissions. According to University of California-San Diego economists Gary and Valerie Ramey, mothers have dramatically increased the amount of time they spend taking their kids to organized activities. Kids’ schedules are packed with arts, sports, and additional classes. Parents have to be careful not to exhaust their children with too many extra curricular activities. College bound students often don’t get enough sleep due to all the studying and extra curricular programs in which they are involved.

Some parents unwittingly add too much pressure to the lives of their teenagers. The college admissions process is increasingly competitive, however there has to be a balance between preparing for college and enjoying one’s high school years. Overly structured parenting can have a negative impact if students get burnt out.

Parents of college bound students should make sure their children take the appropriate classes, even before they enter high school. Additionally, the importance of a college education should be communicated to students at a young age. Overly structured parenting should be avoided, however, and parents should also convey to their tweens and teens that having fun is also part of attending middle school and high school.
Brian Jenkins has been writing for BrainTrack since 2008. He writes about career and education topics, including information about setting career goals.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mix it Up Lunch Day: Teaching Tolerance and Acceptance

National Mix it Up Lunch Day is Tuesday, November 9th, is your school signed up?

Students all over the country will participate in learning about different cultures, different groups, cliques, races or ethnicity as they gather for lunch.  This challenge to social boundaries is part of the annual "Mix It Up At Lunch Day," sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organizers hope that many of the prejudices and biases kids are brought up with will fall away when they meet new people.

Social scientists have long maintained that contact between diverse groups helps alleviate tensions and reduce prejudice. Mix It Up seeks to break down the barriers between students and improve intergroup relations so there are fewer misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment.

Many experts agree: Students thrive both socially and academically in schools that are inclusive. Yet, a look at recent headlines about bullying, cyberbullying and a lack of civility and empathy confirms that for too many students, schools are hotbeds of exclusion.  South Florida has been in the national headlines almost monthly with reports on the two teens in Broward County that were nearly bullied to death.

Both Michael Brewer and Josie Lou Ratley are no longer victims, they are survivors.  They are the voice and the example that teens, no matter how badly are beaten, can stand-up to bullies.  As Josie Ratley is struggling with her own speech due to brain damage, she is diligently working towards recovery and continues her fight on a daily basis.  Michael Brewer is recovered after being burned over two-thirds of his body, and painfully enduring months of physical therapy.

Isn't it time South Florida became one of the leaders in teaching tolerance and acceptance in our schools and communities?

Whether you are in Broward, Dade or Palm Beach County, sign your school up for National Mix it Up Lunch Day Register here. Are you outside of South Florida?  No problem, our country needs to get in the groove and learn to Mix it Up nationwide - click here to sign your school up today!

Pass this on to your local schools and teachers TODAY!  Get your Mix it Up tools here!
Customize your press release today for your school!

Sources: Connect with Kids, Teaching Tolerance

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teen Drug Abuse: It is not JUST POT anymore

Parents in denial.  Teens and heroin, a deadly combination.

Dealers making it easier to smoke, cheaper to purchase, and more potent to be an addict faster.  Heroin is dangerous and deadly and it is a growing concern and trend today.

20/20 ABC News featured an excellent report on this topic.  The New Face of a Heroin Addict, which followed the lives of three average all-American families and their addict. (Watch segment on sidebar).
Since 2007, the number of heroin users in the U.S. has nearly doubled, and half of all first-time users are younger than 26 years old, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This 20/20 ABC News segment should be an episode that every parent with a young teen should stop and watch.  It clearly shows that no one is immune to becoming an addict - especially a heroin addict.

Parents that belive their teen is "only smoking pot," listen to these stories - most start out that way.
As the one addict explains, she was quickly addicted after only a very short time.  She thought she was smoking hash, that ended up being heroin, which is highly addictive in comparison to hash.  So this mistake has literally created a junkie.

Look for signs of drug use:
  • Violent outbursts, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct "skunky" odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal
  • Reckless behavior
Do you suspect your teen is using drugs?  Don't be a parent in denial - you are only prolonging your teen getting help and you are actually enabling them to continue this deadly behavior.

When you think, not my kid, think again.  Addiction can happen to anyone - no matter what their background is or their economic status, addiction kills.

If you are concerned your teen is using drugs, be a responsible parent.  If they are under the age of 18 years-old, you can legally get them help without their consent.  Once they are 18 years-old or older, they have to be at a point they want to get help.

Residential therapy is a booming business for many desperate parents seeking help for their at-risk teens, especially when they are at their wit's end.

Take the time to do your research - visit Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc.  This organization helps educate and guide parents to find safe and quality schools and programs. They are a long standing member of the Better Business Bureau.

Residential therapy is usually considered after parents have exhausted all their local resources.
For those over 18 years old, Broward County offers Broward Addiction Recovery Center.

Stop making excuses and start be a proactive parent.

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