Kid Eats and the New Food Revolution

p>Obesity. Always a hot topic. But in the past year, more and more people seem to be getting involved and hoping to make a difference. Consider First Lady Michelle Obama’s new “Let’s Move!” Initiative, as well as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s TV show “Food Revolution.” The government and media alike are doing all they can to draw attention to the mediocre lunches being served in modern schools. I think the “revolution” is a fantastic idea and very much needed to prevent our population from reaching even higher levels of obesity.In a country as big as ours, it’s hard to establish a consistent norm at the grassroots level, and truthfully, the only way children will learn healthy habits is from their families and their community. As any parent or teacher knows, its even harder to get kids to eat anything that looks remotely healthy. My mother has to put a little sugar on spinach in order for my 7-year-old sister to even pick up the fork. It’s a stress in any location, but the trick is to teach these habits early on so it doesn’t become such a battle in the future.School lunches typically consist of frozen hamburgers, pizzas, and deli sandwiches. Cafeteria cookies are almost always a hit and chocolate milk was a staple. Tight budgets called for these quick, readily made meals and only now are we seeing the effects; between high calorie intake and limited time spent participating in physical activity, school lunches have allowed for the steady increase in obesity. As Let’s Move notes, we have to combat obesity with a double edged sword.  Schools need to provide suitable meals and increase physical education emphasis, and perhaps place more emphasis on nutrition in Health classes, which normally just teach Sex Ed.It’s not impossible to change school menus, it just takes a bit of trial and error, as we’ve seen with Revolution Foods, a company which visits school districts to make nutritious and appetizing school lunches. Seems kids will eat anything with a side of ranch dressing or if the color is just right. Further, Let’s Move will help provide schools with resources to make the necessary changes. Sample wellness plans, menus, and programs are available now. Local education administrators are not alone.Now that summer is here, take the time to take your kids to the local farmer’s market to show them all kinds of local produce and spend some time outside, riding a bike, going for a walk, or playing frisbee. If your family does any other kind of regular physical activity together, please feel free to share it with us.For more information on Let’s Move!, please visit: www.letsmove.gov

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Ideas for the Spring Weekends

do an essay for mep>I remember my parents taking me to many different events as a kid. We weren’t a museum-going family, but my parents really enjoyed going to outdoor, cultural events and festivals. Since spring is in full effect – especially here in New York – and summer is on the way, here are some ideas for some cool events (or types of events) to check out in the Metropolitan area.- Summer concert and book reading series at the Bronx Zoo (free with admission): http://ow.ly/1zsku- My Garden Pets exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden: http://ow.ly/1zsn7- Family Spring events at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (most are free

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after admission): http://ow.ly/1zsso- Diabetes: A Deeper Look at the Liberty Science Center (Jersey City, NJ): http://ow.ly/1zswbWhat are your favorite spring/summer field trips or family day trips?

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Debate Over Foreign Language Education Continues

In today’s global market, it cannot be underestimated how valuable it is to be bilingual. Whether you grow up in a bilingual household or are fortunate enough to have learned a language while in school or abroad, you certainly have a leg up on many potential candidates in the workforce. Many school districts continue to debate over just how much foreign

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language education should be available to their students. As schools scramble to find appropriate funding for all departments, its easy to push foreign language education to upper levels of education, to the chagrin of many linguists.The earlier instruction starts, the more likely students will become fully proficient and capable of proper pronunciation. I know for me, having taken French since 6th grade, I am orally proficient but lack the skills to pronounce certain sounds correctly.

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(If you know French, you know how difficult it is to pronounce the “r”!) Not only does starting earlier increase potential for fluency, studying another language can benefit a student’s knowledge and use of English grammar, and studies show that it benefits overall academic performance. Kids in other nations start learning another language, if not multiple languages, at the age of 6, whereas most students in the USA start at around 14. If the States want to continue to compete globally, greater emphasis should be placed on foreign languages. It would only benefit us.For more information or to get involved, please visit: http://www.actfl.org/

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National Library Week

Next week, April 11-17th, is National Library Week (as well as Environmental Education Week). If you’re not familiar with your local library, this might be a great time to check it out, or consider going to a few other libraries in your area that may be equally as interesting. If you’re a New Yorker, the new NYPL branch in Battery Park City is beautiful – and open on Sundays! Kicking off the week on Monday, April 12 is Oh D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read!), so I thought I’d suggest one of my favorite stories to share with your children and students.When I was about ten, my favorite novels was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. If you’re not familiar with the story, the main character is 11-year-old Claudia, feeling under appreciated by her parents runs away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then discovers the secret behind one of the Michelangelo statues in the museum. This book has always remained close to my heart, and perhaps it is the reason I’ve grown to love the Met and art so much. It’s perfect for both boys and girls – since Claudia’s little brother, Jamie, plays a large role in the story. Considering how most of our modern young adult and children’s books are often of paranormal themes, it could be nice for parents and teachers alike to see children reading such a classic.What

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are your favorite books from childhood?For more information on National Library Week visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/pio/natlibraryweek/nlw.cfm

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A New Kids’ Chorus

If there is anything cuter than a bunch of kids singing together, it’s probably only a bunch of kids singing one of my current favorite songs, “Lisztomania,” by the French band Phoenix. Or, maybe even cuter than that is a bunch of kids in an auditorium singing “The Eye of the Tiger.” The kids of PS 22 are getting a lot of media attention and celebrity support. This past March, the PS 22 Chorus was invited to perform for the NY Rangers and they were featured on ABC Nightline last July. I think the concept is brilliant and hopefully more schools will take a shot at the “modern” glee club idea.PS 22 Chorus “Lisztomania” on YouTubeI may be a bit behind, but the kids still deserve some credit. I can’t wait to see who

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Putting the Puzzle Together

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Here are some quick facts to help increase awareness:- Autism affects 1 out of 110 children, and 1 out of 70 boys. These numbers are expected to increase 10-17% in coming years.- Autism is the word used to describe the group of brain developmental disorders, called Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), and includes Asperger’s syndrome and Rett syndrome. We often just refer to these

as Autism Spectrum Disorders.- Every child is affected differently. Not every symptom is present in each case.- Symptoms include communication difficulties, sensory integration disfunction (SID), social difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and in some cases, seizures.- Causes for the disorder remain unclear, however, doctors agree that it is biological.There is no known cure.

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    on Autism and become more informed, and continue to spread awareness, especially if one of your loved ones is autistic. Parents with autistic children are often criticized in public if their children act out; they aren’t bad parents, they’re just struggling to put together a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces don’t match as of yet.For more information or to get involved, check out Autism Speaks, http://www.autismspeaks.org/index.php.

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    Allowance? In *this* economy?

    The Wall Street Journal this week ran a thoughtful article called “The 15 Money Rules Kids Should Learn.”My favorite entry:4. Good grades are expected and help around the house is simply the price of family life.Nice to see the WSJ point out, in an article about money, that not everything should be about money. Check out the full list –seems like a good refresher course for some adults too.

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    National Environmental Education Week

    April 11-17th

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    (or, EEWeek). With the ongoing debate over global warming and climate change, it may be a good way to help teach kids about our earth and what they can do to help out. As a kid, I remember going to the local nature center on field trips, assemblies where nature conservationists brought animals like skunks or hedgehogs, and even bird trainers came to show off their eagles’ tricks. Middle school biology consisted of going into the ponds and finding tadpoles, and elementary school was the

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    time I saw the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly.Though curriculum and lesson plans have a lot of other requirements, it’s important to remind today’s kids of just how precious our environment truly is. Water and energy consumption in developed countries is astronomical, particularly in the U.S. Over 1.1 billion people in the world have inadequate access to clean water, for personal hygiene and consumption. As Americans, we often forget just how fortunate we are to have virtually limitless access, save for the drought periods that sporadically affect communities. Ask your kids, or students, to consider how much water they use. Ask them if they let the shower run for a bit longer or if they turn the faucet off while brushing their teeth. Every little action adds up.Energy awareness is equally as important. How much time does your child spend on their computer or in their room with the lights on? In terms of personal economics, parents could benefit from encouraging their children to spend more time outside playing than sitting indoors watching T.V. or playing video games. Spend a day outdoors with them and show them just how much they can accomplish. For parents with teenagers, remind them that carpooling is normally more cost efficient and helps reduce carbon emissions. Though one car won’t make a difference, their suggestion may be influential on their friends and the community as a whole. Recycling is still key and should be practiced in the home and classroom. If it takes bribery, tell your kids or students that for every bottle or can they collect, they have an opportunity to earn a little – ok, admittedly, very little - cash on the side.There are tons of nature and environment centers around the States, even for New Yorkers. Encourage parents to go to the local nature center and spend some time there with their kids. We all have to set an example for the future generations, and EE Week is a great place to start.For more information and resources on National Environmental Education Week, check out the official website at : http://www.eeweek.org/

    The Curious Case of… a jellyfish that becomes young again

    So get this: there”s a species of jellyfish called turritopsis nutricula which is able to cycle backwards from its adult stage back into its first

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    Wait Lists… For NYC Public Schools?

    Having grown up in the suburbs, I know nothing about the struggles of parents and families in New York City, aside from what I read in the Times or see in the movies (think Nursery University, except for public schools). Just when New Yorkers thought that getting their kids into private schools, nursery schools included, was a struggle, now they have to face similar problems in putting their kids into nearby public schools. Between the 9/11 babyboom, the current economic downturn, and choices of many to forgo private school, NYC public schools are placing families on waitlists. Many families on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side are experiencing this problem, but it’s not limited to chic neighborhoods.  In Corona, Queens, a predominantly immigrant and middle-class neighborhood, there are close to 120 students on the wait-list. It’s unlike that half these students will be actually put into the classroom, unless rezoning or new schools are put up. What’s the alternative? Home-schooling?Hopefully the Obama education reforms help New Yorkers find a suitable solution and start their educations on time. Or maybe private schools will reduce their rates? One can only hope!See the original article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/nyregion/24waiting.html?ref=education

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