Does One Size Fit All When It Comes To Class Sizes?

“There are too many kids in my child’s class. How does the teacher give each child the attention they need?”

“I know my child would perform better if there were fewer kids in his/her class.”

These are common statements made by many parents of school aged children. Whether the child is in kindergarten or 12th grade, the same sentiment rings true- most parents want smaller class sizes. Budget restrictions, qualified staffing restrictions, and over capacity restrictions all contribute to how an administration determines class sizes. And while most, if not all, states have regulations on maximum class sizes that have to be met by districts, parents would like to see the class sizes well below the mandated maximum.

Writer Sara Mosle has written an opinion piece title “Does Class Size Count?”, published in The New York Times, that touches on a pilot program challenging the common belief that smaller class sizes are better. Perhaps not every class needs to be the same size as another in order to be effective, which could mean huge benefits in alleviating budget and staffing pressures, not to mention revolutionizing the way our children are taught.

“Does Class Size Count?” by Sara Mosle The New York Times

Don’t Underestimate the Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Recently, The New York Times and The Huffington Post published articles about the effects of sleep deprivation. The New York Times article describes how the symptoms of chronic sleep deficit can sometimes disguise itself as symptoms of A.D.H.D.  It is an eye opening article worthy of a mandate for change in sleep habits for adults and children alike. Certainly, not all children and adults diagnosed with A.D.H.D are chronically sleep deprived. However, the relationship between the increase in A.D.H.D diagnoses and the increase in sleep deficit cannot be ignored.

The Huffington Post article discusses results from a survey of 1,000 people (18 + older), conducted by an internal research team. The survey included questions about stress triggers and how stressful moments are managed.  Although this survey may not necessarily be clinically or scientifically robust, the results are sound. The most common stress trigger is getting too little sleep.

Some people process sleep deprivation by being more lethargic and unmotivated and others may become hyper and unfocused. No matter how you process sleep deprivation, it is having a profound negative affect on how we function.  For better or worse, there are a lot of factors that compete with sleep. Furthermore, sleep is complicated. Kids need delta sleep, which is the deep sleep they have needed since birth for growth and development.  Delta sleep is also important in adulthood for rejuvenation. Research shows we are getting less sleep than we used to. Not everyone can afford to get more sleep at night. However, making better lifestyle choices during the day, including: limiting screen time, practicing mindfulness, eating healthy and getting exercise can help families move forward in the battle against sleep deprivation.

The New York Times- “Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit” by Vatsal G. Thakkar

The Huffington Post- “HuffPost Survey Reveals Lack Of Sleep As A Major Cause Of Stress Among Americans” by Lisa Belkin

npr.org-”Tracking A Rise In ADHD Diagnosis” Talk of the Nation

 

Bring Your Own Technology To School Gains Momentum

There are differing opinions on whether Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) programs are beneficial and can be successfully implemented in school districts. Advocates hail the budget benefits of not upgrading or purchasing new computers and/or devices for classrooms. Teachers are able to implement more innovative and perhaps, more effective lesson plans. Skeptics wonder about controls and the side effects of encouraging an already technology addicted generation.   However, what educators, administrators, and parents do agree on is that technology is a force to be reckoned with and that reckoning seems to be happening at a younger and younger age across all demographics. How can schools successfully leverage technology in classrooms where budgets and personnel resources are strapped, and where full support from the parent community may not exist?

Generally, Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) means that a student brings to school a school approved electronic device from home (iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kindle, etc..) for the purposes of utilizing it as a supplemental learning tool in the classroom. This could range from utilizing a math app during math workshop time to hone addition and subtraction skills to reading a favorite book and completing an assessment during literacy workshop. In addition to individualized work, a teacher may ask all students to complete a reading assignment and make comments on an online forum. Given the breadth of the internet and the upward mobility in the number of apps created each day, the possibilities for learning are vast.

While there are several school districts that were ahead of the curve and adopted BYOT programs in the last decade, most are just now trying to understand the logistics, benefits, and disadvantages. Read more about the BYOT trend in this NY Times article by Matt Richtel, “Digitally Aided Education, Using the Students’ Own Electronic Gear.”

Raising Successful Children

“There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of overparenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.”

-Madeline Levine, Ph.D.

This quote is from The New York Times Op-Ed from August 5, 2012 titled “Raising Successful Children.” This article is worth saving for reference when you feel the need to recalibrate your parenting compass, which you’re allowed to do as often as needed!

Madeline Levine is a psychologist and educator with decades of experience working with children and families. She has authored several books, including New York Times Bestsellers The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well. Sometimes, as parents and caregivers, we need guidance and fresh inspiration, especially in this ever competitive and changing environment. Our kids are growing up very differently than we did!Dr. Levine’s insights are refreshing, eye-opening and helpful. If you have a moment, please visit her website http://madelinelevine.com/.

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