Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Are graduates-to-be muddying the waters and causing needless stress by filing too many college applications?
Here is something that the kids (both occupants and visitors) in this household are sick of hearing: I applied to two colleges. I attended two colleges, earning an A.A. from one, and a B.A. from the other. I graduated from two colleges. (County College of Morris, and New York University). That was it. Minimal stress, limited time spent on applying, or wrestling with decisions. The first was chosen for economic reasons, the second was my personal choice, with input from no one. I attended N.Y.U. part-time, while earning tuition as a reporter, and then finished up full-time just to get it over with. I realize that things inevitably are different for students graduating well into the 21st century. I never took an SAT prep test, although my …
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Students need to develop lifelong strategies for handling bullies. Is just stopping harassment in schools enough?
There have been some frightening examples of bullying noted in the media lately, and in the not too distant past. Just this week, a 12-year-old Pennsylvania boy died of injuries he received in a schoolyard attack, during an alleged bullying incident by a bigger boy who reportedly insisted on fighting him. And of course, our own Rutgers University still is dealing with the aftermath and implications of the cruel ridicule of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman student who committed suicide in 2010 after another student posted Clementi's private gay encounter online. That type of criminal behavior requires immediate and swift reaction from schools and (I think) law enforcement officials to protect the victim from what essentially is …
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Please stop by at 12:30 p.m. Wed. at the Starbucks off Martinsville Road to say hello during our weekly Moms Talk Q&A.
Maybe it's been awhile, but I'd love to see you if you could drop by at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) at Starbucks Coffee at the Riverwalk Center in Basking Ridge. You can just say hello, and let me know about something that's going on. Or join in our weekly Moms Talk Q&A that takes place at that time, when we talk to moms, dads, grandparents or anyone else who wants to make a comment about issues regarding parenting, kids and often, local schools. This week's topic will be, "How Do Deal with Sibling Rivalry?" Let us know what works/worked for you. What didn't. What you remember from being a kid. I'll be around for about two hours, so feel free to say hello at any time. Hope to see you then.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
The difference between fifth and sixth grade in Bernards Township schools is quite large.
Each year, a new crop of fifth graders from all four schools around Bernards Township (each with its own personality) prepares to make a rite of passage into a brave new world — sixth grade, at the William Annin Middle School. Inevitably, students do make the transition — but usually with more than a little trepidation. Suddenly, there are changing classes, much more responsibility, more rules, a loss of that cozy elementary school atmosphere, and — as this year's homework survey of parents and students indicates — much more homework. Of course, there are many doors opened for elementary students entering middle school, many with unexpected benefits. My older son, who hates to sit still, was able to focus better simply because he had the …
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Is cheating in local schools as rampant as some would say? And what exactly qualifies as cheating?
During the public conversations regarding student stressors before the Board of Education in recent months, the issue came up several times about how the pressure to succeed supposedly pushes students to cheat. One of the examples given is the student who purchases an old, graded test to get the right answers ahead of time. This is a problem that far exceeds the borders of Bernards Township! But then the definition of cheating got a little muddy. From what I gathered, it's okay to look at tests and notes that your older brother or sister saved from a few years earlier. Maybe even encouraged. So, how far of a leap is it to share that test with your best girlfriend who might not be lucky enough to have an older sibling? (But, hey, she's got …
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Have you heard some unusual babies' names recently? Were your kids' names among the most popular — or unique — choices when they were born?
What's in a name? In Bernards Township, with our increasingly diverse population, names that might have seemed unusual are standard — and, if you're a word person, a fascinating array of sounds and stories. Of course, we still have plenty of Michaels and Samanthas, and Johns and Kathys. What names do you see assigned to the new babies in your neighborhood, or group of friends? Or what have you named your son or daughter? What's your new grandchild called? Did you seek something original? Or traditional? The first baby of the year for 2012 to be born at Somerset Medical Center on Jan. 1 was named Bella Sophia Espinosa of Basking Ridge. When I picked up the story, I wondered if the parents just liked that somewhat poetic combination of …
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Do you feel guilty (or good) temporarily leaving your children behind for a short — or long — getaway?
Sure, family vacations are great, and make memories you hope will last a lifetime. But do you ever feel the need leave the kids behind for a while? I just returned from a few days at a friend's house in Florida while my children (both old enough to not require a babysitter) were otherwise occupied. Here's my admission: I didn't miss them. Of course, when I returned home — and miraculously, home still was intact — the grown son and his younger brother (who had returned a half-day earlier) didn't appear to have missed me either. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise! I was glad to see them, and they DID look more appealing when we reconnected, refreshed. So, I guess everyone was happy. Do you take vacations without your children? Is it a …
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
How does your family — including your children — cope if your holiday isn't a cheerful one?
With many people planning New Year's events after already celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, the week holds many happy occasions that will leave a warm glow as we head into January. But maybe not totally. Perhaps the holidays aren't what we expect them to be. Or, this holiday season may for some families include death, divorce or illness, which always seem to cut more sharply at this time of the year. So what do you do, if you and yours are struggling with such issues this week? What do you tell your children? Do you keep a happy face, or do you try to discuss openly what may be making your family sad? Do you take refuge with a larger group of loved ones? Or try to spend quiet time just with your family? It's a certainty to say that many…
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Is there something you do year after year that you feel your children will remember all of their lives?
The holidays come and go each December, and we often don't even stop to reflect on how our annual rituals will be carried forth in our childrens' memories. Yes, I've returned to having a live Christmas tree — no matter if it is small — because I love the adventure of finding that "perfect" tree and the smell of greenery. Although she is gone, I still light a menorah in memory of my late mother-in-law. Today, we're asking you to tell us about special holiday traditions that you feel are important in your family. Are they usual — or a little unusual? And, since this a Moms (dads, and grandparents column) Talk column, do you think those traditions will be carried on in some way by your children as they grow older? Do your children especially …
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
How do you handle requests for gifts that may be out of your budget — or simply, in your opinion, unreasonably expensive?
For adults, Christmas and Hanukkah and other seasonal holidays may hold special meaning because of bonds with family, spiritual celebrations, cherished traditions, or even just a chance to kick back and reconnect with some people we haven't seen all year long. Of course, we appreciate gifts — but hopefully, by adulthood, we realize there is more to treasure. Some or all of those things may be important to children, too. But, let's face it, the chance for gifts also is a big part of what makes the holidays sparkle for kids. So what do you do if you can't afford the gifts your child thinks they deserve — or if you feel they've asked for something that is ridiculously expensive and overpriced, and maybe unnecessary? No one wants to rain on …