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Community In Schools Helping Where They Can

standard September 13, 2011 Leave a response

Last night M and I dragged the kids to our school’s first parent meeting of the year. While we sat in our daughter’s adorable little classroom surrounded by bright wall decorations, children’s art, books, and everything else a classroom should have, our kids played outside with the other school kids, supervised by paid staff.

Oh. And the kids got snacks.

Granted, it’s a private school. But still, in this area, this is the norm.

Kids have books, staff, resources. They have sturdy and safe buildings. They have teachers who spot and recognize issues and know how to help parents get help.

These kids don’t drop out. They finish school and go on to live their dreams. 

And on the flip side of the coin, I have friends whose kids sit in classrooms hosted in prefabs because the school has no money to build real buildings. I have friends whose kids have to eat lunch or breakfast at school. Not because they don’t have food at home, but because so many of their classmates don’t and the school has found that making at least one school meal mandatory is the only way to get the kids to focus.

30 kids to a class.

Not enough books.

Not enough to eat.

Not enough resources for children with special needs.

Schools that don’t know what to do with the resources they have.

So many rampant issues in our schools.

So many kids who drop out because the things necessary to keep them in school and on track just aren’t available. 

The public school situation in America makes my blood boil and my heart ache. I WANT to reach in and fix it all. Our kids deserve to be educated in a way that makes them want to learn, makes them see how amazing acquiring knowledge can be.

But I’m one person. One already overwhelmed person.

Community In Schools is an organization working to right the wrongs and help the kids. They’re the proverbial village working to build a community of support for children by embedding needed resources inside their school.

They’re giving us the push and the tools we need so we can all start helping too.

How can you help?

Donate – Your dollars can help keep kids in schools and on track. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.

Volunteer – There are countless ways you can volunteer and help a child. Even if you can only help one child. To that child, that will mean the world.

Advocate – You have a voice and an opinion. Raise it. Speak up. Share information. The kids need us. They need you.

Communities in Schools is Fill the Backpack’s not for profit benefactor. We’re donating 10% of our net profits from our Back-to-school campaign to the organization. We’re been so proud to share information about this fabulous outreach. To learn more about the organization and what aspects of their work has the Splash Creative Media bloggers all fired up, check out everyone’s blog this week.

Still haven’t entered the big Fill the Backpack giveaway on each blog? Get on that! Each giveaway is worth $750+ and ends in two days!

Leaping Into Learning to Read with LeapFrog

standard September 2, 2011 Leave a response

When my daughter was about to start school for the first time I softened the blog with a fun DVD featuring Tad’s first day of school. You know, Tad, the cute LeapFrog frog? He and his friend Lily bounced around a classroom showing off all the things my baby would be discovering for herself in just a few days.

That video was a staple in our house for weeks. I already loved LeapFrog, but this only cemented my belief that they really knew what kids need.

Later I learned that LeapFrog builds toys backwards. Instead of starting with a cool concept and manipulating it to tie in an educational component, they start with the educational component and, with the help of educators, grow it into an awesome concept. Neat, right?

This year LeapFrog is jumping into the learning-to-read arena.

Well, no, that’s not true. LeapFrog has been in that arena forever – impressively so, but they are mixing it up a bit with a fun new game for their Explorer, their newest hand-held game console.

LeapFrog LeapSchool

LeapSchool Reading innovates in that it allows a custom path to reading. Instead of serving up a “one-size fits all” game, this game allows the child to focus on areas that they’re passionate about (or at the very least interested in). Five friends — each with a different interest from music to cooking – guide the games and make learning to read fun. And as we all know, they don’t even realize they’re learning when they’re having fun! (Learn more about the game and get to know the friends on the LeapFrog LeapSchool site!)

My 6-year-old is a pretty good reader already, but the 4-year-old is desperate to teach herself so she can catch up. She latches on to any reading game we give her and keeps impressing us with her ability to sound out letters and words. With LeapFrog and LeapSchool we might be a step closer to having a really early reader in the house!

This post was sponsored by LeapFrog as part of the Fill the Backpack campaign. As always the thoughts, opinions, and stories contained in the post are mine and mine alone.

If you missed it, check out the Fill the Backpack giveaway of the year – $750 worth of awesome back-to-school goodies to make your year sweeter.
Want to check out other Fill the Backpack posts? Visit the Splash Creative Media bloggers. They’ll be thrilled to have you!

Back-to-School Jitters: A Fill the Backpack ’11 post

standard August 30, 2011 Leave a response

C goes to a school that has 60 students.

60 kids from pre-K to 8th grade.

Yes. That’s it. It’s a small school.

You’d think with those numbers, and knowing that she’s been there a year, already knows her teacher well, knows the school very well, and already knows 99% of her incoming classmates, that her first day next week would pose no anxiety at all.

But she’s my C. My anxious C, so of course she’s not so sure about the whole thing at all.

We’ve had to discuss the boy who wasn’t so nice last year. We talked about how kids often mature over the summer. We remembered that at the end of the year they were pretty much friends.

We’ve had to discuss how having actual desks isn’t really all that different from having tables.

We’ve had to chat about how it’ll be different now that the Kindergarten teacher has left the school, but how it’ll be a lot the same thanks to the other teachers.

We’ve even had to think about what people mean when they say that “1st grade is so much harder than Kindergarten.”

And then this morning she told me what was really bothering her.

After a summer packed with family time – long weekends, trips, lazy weekend mornings – next week we go back to our routine. And last year that routine was grueling.

We ended the year on a really low note. Hospital visits, sick daddy, much stress on everyone’s shoulders. The summer hasn’t been all roses and kittens, but at least we got to spend a lot of quality time together.

What C doesn’t know is that I changed my work schedule on purpose so that she wouldn’t be in after care until 6 every day any more. It won’t be an every day thing, but I’m really hopping that I can pick her up at 3 at least twice a week. I think it’ll make a world of difference to all of us.

If anything it’ll give us time for a few more Family Love Dinners. And who couldn’t use a little more love in their days?

Welcome to Fill the Backpack ’11, a Splash Creative Media campaign co-hosted by 8 amazing bloggers. For a month we’re going to be talking about all things back-to-school related. (Well, the other 7 started last week. I’m a slacker.) If you missed it, check out the giveaway of the year – $750 worth of awesome back-to-school goodies to make your year sweeter.

Want to check out other Fill the Backpack posts? Visit the Splash Creative Media bloggers. They’ll be thrilled to have you!

Make a teacher’s dream come true.

standard September 15, 2010 Leave a response

Every teacher I have ever met pulls out a personal credit card on a regular basis to purchase classroom supplies. Tissues, crayons, dry erase markers. You name it. They’ve bought it. They have to, the state doesn’t give them enough supplies to last through the year.

The irony here is that the state doesn’t exactly pay them a whole bunch either, so it’s not like those credit cards can stretch very far in the first place.

Teachers are teaching our children. Our future. Your kids might not be in a public school. Your kids might even be in an affluent school where teachers don’t have to make pencils stretch down to the nub. But the kids who are in those classrooms are still our children and they deserve better.

You might not think you can help, but you can.

Classwish.org is a fantastic where teacher can post their classroom wishlist. It’s where they can close their eyes and imagine everything they’d have in the ideal classroom. They let their imagination soar… and then they ask for those things. You, me, the guy who bought coffee in front of you this morning, can go and pick a wish to help along. You can pick a classroom, a school, a PTO… and donate something. Could be enough to buy a box of tissues or enough to get that smart board a teacher has been coveting.

If you hear your school debating the merits of various fund-raising options, throw Classwish.org in the mix. It’s a great alternative and and easy way for many people to make a huge difference in the lives our children.

In the meantime you can mention Classwish.org to any teachers you know and any parent who might know some teachers. 

And please pass on this blog post to any teacher you might know, to your principal, to the administration and to your parenting organization. There are just two days left to enter the Dream Classroom Giveaway on Fill the Backpack. On Thursday night, the entries will close and 2 winning dreams will be randomly selected as winners. Those two winners will each receive a $500 credit to classwish.org to purchase items to make her dream classroom a reality.

$500 can go a long way in a classroom. So spread the word. Help a teacher achieve a dream.