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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

What kind of Parent Are You? Survey

13 Jul

This post is to look at what kind of parent you are?  There is no right or wrong way to parent, the goal is to raise the kids in the way it feels right to you.  Your own experiences and beliefs will impact how you raise them.  So, how do we raise our kids?  Are we considered Very Strict, Strict, Neutral, Relaxed, Very Relaxed, No Rules / Anything Goes – or something else???

This survey is designed for middle grades and high school grade parents – by then, we have more information and data to work with.

I would love some comments, here are some things to think about.  However, NO FLAMING anyone, everyone has their rights to their own beliefs and choices!!

Let’s address some topics:

 

1.  Eating

  • I let me kids eat whatever they want, they cook all their own meals and make their own food choices. (Age ____________)
  • I let my kids have a say in what they want, they may be picking and we cook around their pickiness but I make sure they eat a balance of healthy food despite that it may not be a broad choice of foods.
  • I don’t tolerate pickiness, my kids eat what is on the table.
  • I make sure my kids each a vegetable every day, even the ones they don’t like.
  • I don’t let my kids eat any sugar.
  • I let my kid eat VERY LITTLE sugar.
  • I don’t let my kid each a lot of starches, breads, flours, rice, etc.
  • I don’t let my kid each at fast food places like McDonalds.
  • I tell my child about all the foods that contain fat and tell them not to eat fatty foods or they will get fat.
  • We buy all lowfat items in the house.
  • We don’t drink fruit juices since it has all that sugar in it.
  • My kids are not allowed to drink any soda.
  • My kids are allowed to eat a little bit of everything, sugar, starch, fat, protein, veggies/fruit, fruit juice, they just do it in moderation.
  • We don’t spend an overwhelming about of time talking about “good” food vs. “bad” food in our house.
  • We encourage our kids not to overeat at a meal and eat small portions at meals.
  • My kids love fruits and vegetables and eat them by choice, often, and all the time.
  • If left alone and told they could eat whatever they wanted to for a day, would you expect your child would still eat close to what they normally eat or make difference choices?

 

2.  Money

 

  • I talk to my kids about money all the time.
  • My kids like it when I talk to them about how adults use money in the real world.
  • My kids currently have no interest yet in how financials of the adult world work.
  • My kids view of how expensive something is – is based on their own knowledge / experience / feeling or from what you as a parent have taught them?
  • All my children are motivated to get good paying jobs and be working and would rather work than sit on a could and collect welfare.
  • Do your kids know how much money your family makes?  Do they know that people generally don’t share that information with others?
  • Do your children know much big things costs – like a car vs. a house vs. a college education?
  • Do your children know what they want to be when they grow up?  If so, do they know what the average salary is for that job and what type of “lifestyle” that provides financially?

 

3.  House Rules

 

  • Would you say you are very strict, moderately strict, somewhat strict, middle, somewhat loose, moderately loose, or very loose (i.e. no rules at all) when it comes to house rules?
  • Are their rules about how sons can dress?
  • Are their rules about how daughters can dress?
  • Do most of your rules coincide with most of the peers of your child- would you say, you are stricter about clothing, same, or looser.
  • Are their rules about cell phone?  Age they can have one?  Can they have data on their phones?  Can they text?  Time texting allowed?  Can you read the texts?
  • Are their rules about dating?  At what age can they “date”?  At what age can they actually go “out on a date.”  Would you care if they went on a same-sex date (that was a date, not a friend)?  Are their rules about kissing, when and if it is allowed?
  • Are kids allowed over at the house?  Can opposite gender go in their bedrooms?  How about with door open?
  • Can your kids drive with other kid drivers?  If so, after how long after they have been driving        ____________________
  • If you let your kid out with kid A and kid A gets into a crash, causing your child to break their arm in the crash and your child wants to still ride with kid A after her arm heals, can she?
  • Do your children have chores?  How many?  How long does it take them?  Do they complain regularly about them?
  • Do you pay allowance for your kids chores?
  • What types of punishments do you give your kids when they do something wrong?

 

4.  School

 

  • Do your kids get good grades?  (mostly A’s and B’s)
  • Do your kids get their homework done right away after school or later?
  • Do you need to remind your kids about school work?
  • Do you help your kids with school work?
  • Do you help them keep track of assignments?
  • Do you help them study for tests?
  • Do your kids ever get 0’s for missing assignments?
  • Are your kids very responsible about school?
  • What do you do when your kids get a D or F on a test grade or start doing badly in a class?
  • What do you do if bullies start bothering your child at school?
  • Do you expect your child to go to college?  2 year or 4 year?
  • Do you think parents should help kids transition into college or do you think the kids should just be “on their own” and left to figure it all out by then?

 

Anything you feel like answering, great, if not, that’s fine… I am just collecting data (it will be anonymous) and I will put together some qualitative analysis if this ever gets traction and I get responses!

 
 

Parenting and Education – How to help your child be successful in school

19 Dec

What is our role as parents in terms of helping our children be successful in school?  There are probably many different views on this subject.  The first and most important thing to know about parenting and education is that EVERY child is DIFFERENT.  What one child needs from their parents in this regard may be different from what another child needs so as parents you can’t just take one view and use this as your “philosophy.”  Here are some possible parenting styles (this is not an inclusive list, obviously, just a few of the problem situations) when it comes to education:

1.  Hands-off parent:  This style is where the parent puts it on the child to take charge of their success in school.  This is especially true for older children and high school age children.  Parents assume that it is the child’s responsibility.  They rationalize that in order to learn to be successful, the child needs to make mistakes and these mistakes will be self-correcting.  If the child doesn’t turn in homework, they will get F’s, if the child doesn’t study, they will get bad grades – these bad grades will then motivate the child (either on their own or because the parent punishes the child for the bad grades) and so the child will self-correct and get the needed work done.  Parents who adopt this style were often parented this way or were able to successful in school on their own and don’t understand why a child can’t figure it out on their own.  They rationalize that they aren’t going to be around to hold their hand later in life, so it is time they learned to swim on their own.

2.  Hovering – Helicopter parent:  This style is where the parent is very obsessed with the child’s school work.  When the child comes home from school, they want to see every assignment they child has, they make the child do their work right away, the child often feels stressed about school and is an overachiever and is very upset about getting bad grades.  The parent may assign extra work, extra worksheets that the child has to do above and beyond the work that the school assigns.

3.  Outsourcing Parent:  This style is where a parent knows their child is struggling in one or more subjects and they feel they should do something, so they hire a tutor.  They feel that this is what is sufficient, even if it doesn’t solve the problem.  The tutor might suggest the parent get involved more, check on the student work, work hands on with the student, but the outsourcing parent is often very busy and only has time for their child to do their 1-2 hours a week with the tutor but not get involved themselves on a regular basis to help their child be successful.  This is not saying that all parents who hire a tutor are “outsourcing parents,” just that some parents choose outsourcing, think this is all they need to do.

As I said, every child is different.  Here are some examples of different kinds of students your child might be:

1.  Independent, successful learner – if you have one of these, you should feel lucky – but also, don’t assume that all your children will be the same.  Independent successful learners are able to go to class, write down their assignments, take good notes, get their homework done on time, study independently and successfully for tests, score well on tests, and not need any outside support from anyone else to be successful in school.

2.  Partial Independent, successful learner – This is a student like number one who is able to be successful in most classes but might struggle in a particular class due to its subject matter being difficult for them or because a particular teacher is not a good teacher / grades or tests very unfairly when this student has always had good fair teachers in the past.

3.  Students with ADD/ ADHD / Executive Function struggles:  These students can be very bright but lack the ability to stay focused, remember to turn in homework, write down things like when tests are, take good notes, stay organized, or know how to study effectively for a test.

4.  Students with learning disabilities in a particular subject:  These students might be very bright in most subjects but have a learning struggle in an area that makes learning something in that subject very difficult, examples include math or reading (reading comprehension, of course transcends all subjects since you need to understand what you read to be able to do all subject areas).

5.  Students with slow processing speed:  These students process things very slowly and therefore, everything you teach them and every assignment they do (test they take) requires twice as long as a regular student.  It is very difficult for students with a moderate disability in processing speed to keep up with a class that is all working at a faster pace.

So, what is our responsibility as parents when it comes to education?

Here are three things to keep in mind:

1.  You are responsible for knowing what type of child you have / what type of learner he or she is and if he or she is not an independent, successful learner – then it is your responsibility as a parent to help your child and make adjustments.

2.  You are responsible for finding a school (to the best of your ability, some places have more options than others, although sometimes we are not always aware of our options) that best matches your child’s academic needs – and remember that your child WILL make new friends, so “staying with friends” and failing is NOT a better option than moving to a new school that better academically fits your child.

3.  You are responsible for monitoring their grades as they go so they don’t reach a point where it is too late to recover.

4.  You are responsible for communication with their teachers.  Getting a good teacher is the best gift your child can get to do well in school.  Even struggling students can do well in a subject with a good teacher, however, students will get bad teachers.  Students will get teachers who test on things they don’t teach, grade students harshly, explain things poorly, and the end result will be a bad grade for your child.  However, it is your responsibility to mitigate this as much as possible.  Butt in, push the teacher, demand that your child gets the best he or she can get.  Call conferences, if needed, get the higher up involved.    Don’t assume it is your child and the teacher is always right.

5.  If your child has learning struggles, get him or her an official diagnosis, then get him a 504 plan (or IEP if needed), read up on it, find out what he needs – then make sure it is adhered to.  It is your responsibility to advocate for your child.

6.  If your child is not an independent learner or for example has issues with executive functioning / knowing how to study, etc.  then it is your responsibility to help him or her learn to study.  Find out when tests are, email teachers to figure out how you will know in advance when tests will be given, then help him organize his notes, then quiz him and don’t stop until he is getting all the answers right.  Teach him that this is how you do well in school:  you ask yourself the questions on the information without looking at the answers until you can answer every question without looking and get 100%, then you are ready for the test.  For math, google the topic and look for practice problems that have answer sheets and have her sit and do the problems and then grade them (to study math, you must do problems).

Your child is 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 – this is the time to be VERY involved in their academics so that they learn HOW to be successful in school, so they learn the skills needed to be the independent, successful learner for when they go to college or start a career and you are not there – this is not the time for you to be hands off.

 

 

Paying for college – having multiple children, upper middle class – FAFSA, Timing is everything and It’s Not Fair!

19 Aug

Paying for college is getting more and more difficult, especially for the upper middle class with many children!  I am all about fairness and I never understand when people and agencies fail to see the big picture and provide fairness and equity across the board – this is whether it provides me with benefit or not.

So, one issue I have is with qualifying for financial aid for the middle class / upper middle class and especially for families who have lots of children nicely spaced.  Let’s look at the timeline of how things might unfold for a typical middle/upper middle class family.

  • You fall in love and get married.
  • You attend college (and so does your spouse) – if you are lucky, although I guess this is needed as part of the story but is common to this scenario.
  • You get your entry level job and start making a starter salary, not a GREAT salary but a decent one hopefully or enough to start building the American dream of starting a family and buying a home.
  • So, you have your first child and you buy your first home.
  • You start putting money in your 401K for retirement.
  • You have your second child and you get salary increases, maybe you change jobs a few times which does nice things to your pay.
  • You may have more children – in our case, we had four kids.  You space them out, especially if you have four, who can handle four kids that are all two years apart?  So, some are 3 or 4 year apart.
  • By the time your first one is ready for college, you have built up some nice equity in your home, you have that 6 months of safety cushion the experts say you should have.  You have been thinking about your retirement also, so you may a good strong 401K or other investments.  You may even own a rental property or two, but that is your retirement plan since you are trying to be responsible, after all they don’t give out pensions anymore and health care in retirement is a huge concern.  Your income has grown nicely and you fall in the middle or upper middle income category.
  • Your first child chooses to go to school AND…. you know you have perhaps 3 more children that will follow to put through college as well and you have retirement to think about.  Many families also have someone in the family that is elderly or disabled that they are paying for as well.

You fill out the FAFSA form and look to tell FAFSA about the fact that you have 3 more kids that you have to put through college, all the funds you have now are NOT for just the ONE child… You look to tell FAFSA that you have a disabled child that you will have to support for life, you look to tell FAFSA that your rental properties are your retirement plan and that you chose to plan retirement a little different than just putting all your money into a 401K.  You want to scream at FAFSA that you did it all right, you were responsible and it isn’t your fault that your three kids aren’t triplets and all in school at the same time – you still have to put all three of them through college!  You want to scream that just because you have the savings you are supposed doesn’t mean you are supposed to “get rid of it” and put it into your kids college tuition and now not have the safety net that experts recommend.    FAFSA doesn’t care about any of that, you get nothing, nada, not now and not for the rest of your 3 kids, you get to pay 100% of your kids college costs.  Unless they go to a school that costs $80,000 per year, then they might LOAN you $10,000 and expect you to pay $70,000 per year which you know you could never do.

As an upper middle income family with only ONE child, I am completely FINE with FAFSA saying that I should pay 100% of my child’s tuition.  Yes, I can afford it!  I did, my son graduates in a year and we paid 100% (sent him to a state school that only costs $15,000-$16,000 per year so we could and still afford to send our other kids to college), however, we could could never have sent him to a more expensive school because he has 3 siblings that I have to think about.   FAFSA needs to consider how many kids a family WILL need to send to college.  I understand that not all those kids might go to college so I guess that becomes a problem, so maybe the discount can come as you apply and have already had a kid graduate so you get credit after the fact.  Once I apply for kid #3 or #4, FAFSA can ask, how many kids have you already put through college and calculate that into their EFC.  If I already paid 100% to put 3 kids through school, give me a break on number 4, please, I am not a millionaire, I just want to educate my kids.

 

Choosing schools in Wake County, North Carolina – charter, public, magnet including detailed review Southeast Raleigh High and Moore Square Middle

28 Jul

Which School Do You Choose and Why?  Exploris, Sterling Montessori, Carnage, Apex Middle, Lufkin, Moore Square, Holly Springs High, Apex High, Raleigh Charter High, Southeast Raleigh High, Turner Creek, Olive Chapel, Baucom, Davis Drive, Fuquay Elementary…. 

 

Come explore some Wake County Schools with us…

 

As an educator and a parent to kids who are academically gifted and who have learning struggles and need a 504 plan, I had to choose schools in Wake County for my children to attend.  I have 4 children, 2 have already graduated high school and my last two are in now in middle and high school.  Here is a review, it will be ongoing about some school options in Wake County and a detailed review as we go through the year of the two schools we ultimately chose for our children – Southeast Raleigh High School and Moore Square Museum Magnet Middle.

First, let me address Wake County public elementary schools.  My children have attended:  Turner Creek, Olive Chapel, and Baucom Elementary.

Wake County Elementary Schools:

In general, unless your kid needs an IEP, you will find that most elementary schools in Wake County will be decent and meet the needs of students.  When it comes to giving students IEP’s, however, you will find some schools much more willing to cooperate than others.  For example, Turner Creek is much more likely to give students in need of IEP’s the support they need while Olive Chapel and Fuquay Schools are not.  Many students I tutored who were getting further and further behind academically were not being given IEP’s at their elementary schools and were being given minimal “extra” help.  My own kids also attended Sterling Montessori Charter school and I found they got a very good education there and excellent help if they needed special education services.  From the 3 public schools my kids attended, I would rank Turner Creek the best, then Baucom, then Olive Chapel.

Wake County Middle Schools:

Once your child is ready to start middle school, you may want to consider being more picky about schools in Wake County.  They also solidify their friendship groups in middle school and might not want to their middle school friends (it can be hard enough to get them to leave their elementary school friends) to attend a better high school and this is when I feel making the right choice (think College) really matters.  My kids have attended Apex Middle School, Exploris, Sterling Montessori, and now I have one who just started Moore Square.

Davis Drive Middle is the one middle that I have found really stands out as a GOOD public middle school.  Families specifically buy houses so they get put in that district.  The kids I tutored that attend that school are very bright and I don’t get much in the way of teacher complaints, so Davis Drive gets a Thumbs Up.

Lufkin Road Middle does not have the best reputation.  I have had heard lots of complaints of not-so-great teachers at the school.  Apex Middle seems to be a little better than Lufkin.  My son did not like the school at all but he left a Charter school to attend so didn’t go in with a bunch of friends he had known since elementary school.  These public middle schools seem to have a lot of boy-girl focus so be prepared for that.  None of them are terrible but none of them are particularly great (outside Davis Drive) either.  One  problem is that they don’t do much for AG kids.  The base schools have very few electives and are just average schools – if we were to grade them, they would get a C.

The middle school at Sterling Montessori is NOT as good as the elementary school.  It is not that organized but I would still say it is probably better than a school like Apex Middle or Lufkin.

 

Exploris middle school is a good school overall.  I was very impressed with it in the 6th grade when Kevin was the director.  The new director has changed some things and seems to be putting much of her time into growing the school that it seems that the things that made it so good in 6th grade decreased, which is a shame.  Before, my son would go out to downtown Raleigh field trips and museum experiences ALL the time.  In seventh grade, he went significantly less.  In eighth grade, they piled on the work and I felt their academic choices were more obscure random things than core topics that would serve him well and prepare him for high school.  We chose to leave part way through 8th grade, in part since the program seemed to be lacking all the good things that it had, some bullying was going on that was not being addressed, and because his class was filled with so many kids with “issues” and he had some of his own that he didn’t feel connected with anyone after 2.5 years at the school.

I will review Moore Square below since this will be a review I will add to since my daughter just started there.

Wake County High Schools:

This is where I think parents really need to pay attention to where they send their kids.  Many of Wake County high schools are doing a poor job of educating kids.  Since I tutor mostly high school kids, I have worked with kids from many of the different schools and have just been appalled at what I have witnessed.  Here are a few examples:

  • Teachers allowing kids to cheat because their students are failing and the teachers need to kids to pass to make the teachers look good
  • Teachers who don’t bother to grade papers, just give a random grade and/or 100 – and throw the papers in the trash rather than return to student with feedback (since they weren’t graded)
  • Teachers who don’t get around to teaching most of the period, tell stories, go outside, etc. but still test students on material they haven’t taught
  • Teachers who assign homework but don’t clearly communicate to the students what it is so the students have no idea what to do
  • Teachers who give assignments that they know kids will and have cheated on and then count it as 2 test grades (F kid scores 100) so they can pass the kid
  • Schools that give diplomas to kids who have not met all the requirements to graduate or they “boost” them / falsify information to allow them to graduate rather than helping student learn and really earn diploma
  • Teachers who grade unfairly because they just don’t care
  • Teachers who don’t respond to parent emails and request for help with their child
  • Schools that ignore 504 plans and IEP’s
  • Schools that require students to meet requirements for graduation and then don’t offer those requirements so student can’t get diploma (special education)
  • Schools with no follow through on discipline so kids don’t have any consequences and just continue to do whatever they please
  • Schools who let their students knowingly smoke in a spot right near the school in plain sight of cars driving by
  • Teachers who give out passing grades to failing students just to move them forward and then the student is just further behind in the next class, especially in math
  • Students who are left alone for almost all period when subs don’t get there until the last 20 minutes of a 90 minute period and no teaching happens with any subs

If you want your kid to get good grades that are deserved, learn what they need to, and be prepared for college, you need to really consider what high school you send your child to.  The above examples, FYI, come from Apex High School (most of them), Holly Springs High, Athens Drive High, and Panther Creek High (although overall Panther Creek has a fairly good reputation compared to these other schools.)    Most of the teachers in these schools are burned out and are passionate people that care about your child’s learning.  I am sure this is happening in other schools across Wake County as well.

My kids have attended (for high schools) Apex High School, Raleigh Charter High School, and  Southeast Raleigh High School.

Apex High School – I will not send my kids to Apex High anymore.  My oldest only went there for 2 classes as he went to Raleigh Charter most of the time.  He had a decent teacher for AP Environmental Science (scored a 4 on AP exam and got college credit) and a not so great English 4 teacher.  I am so glad he did not have to take math there.  Most of the math teachers there are terrible.  My other son was in the OCS (Occupational Course of Study) so he was not in regular education classes much.  The school had a requirement that he do 360 work hours that they told us they would provide for him to graduate but then didn’t provide them.  We had to go to mediation and get them to provide a place for him to volunteer over the summer to get the rest of his hours in so he can get his diploma.  We told them it was like requiring English and then never offering it, not acceptable.

Raleigh Charter High School – is a great school if your kid is book smart, is willing to study a lot, and very academically minded.  It is not for the “average” kid.  Most of the kids there aren’t into dating boy/girl relationships, they focus on studies.  It was interesting to see the huge difference between a public MIDDLE school which had all this boy/girl dating focus vs. RCHS which was not that way and the kids were in high school.  My son liked it there but we also know he was the right “fit” for that school, some of my other kids would not be.

So, we decided to apply to two magnet schools for my youngest two kids for middle and high school.  With lots of experiences with schools from the older two and all the kids I tutor, it will be interesting to see how they compare.  I will start my review and add to as I go through the year.

Moore Square Museum Magnet Middle School – Parent Review – School Year 2014-2015

First impression – VERY GOOD!!  We first met Mr. Bass, the principal, at the magnet fair and I instantly liked him.  When we met other principals / students / teachers at other magnet schools, we just didn’t get impressed.  In fact Carnage didn’t even talk to us, I had to say, “hey, can you tell me about the school,” then I got a few simple statements from a student and she stopped talking… if they are going to send kids to represent the school, they need to send good ones!

Second impression – VERY GOOD!! – in fact, so far, every time we have been invited to learn about something with the school it has been amazing.  Their orientation was the most organized, intensive, educational orientation I have ever been to.  So much so, that I will probably write a letter to Mr. Bass letting him know that so he makes sure he keeps up the good work.  We went to Lufkin’s orientation one year when we though our son was going before he got into Exploris and it was so weak compared to what we got at Moore Square!  I hope all this organization and thoroughness that we see is a sign of how the school is run when kids are there!

The only negative to report was that we had to rate all my daughter’s elective choices and only one out of 58 was selected for her first two quarters!!!  I was not happy.  However, we will go with the flow, they did change her schedule when I put in a request saying that she did not want Dance or Pollution Solution and they changed her to Film and an Art class and she seems happy with that.  My daughter is now in quarter 3 of 6th grade.  The school provides VERY TIMELY reports on her grades, we get an interim every 3 weeks and things are put in powerschool daily.  Her teachers, overall, seem very good.  She has a decent amount of homework, but that is expected in middle school.  Her math teacher seems a little scattered and not that organized and although she is getting A’s, I hope she is learning everything she needs to since she will be taking High School level math in 7th grade.  There has been a great number of choices for electives that have been interesting and she has always gotten things that are decent and reasonably high on her choice list after the first semester and she did like her first semester electives.  One of those electives was a computer class that was required of all middle school students, anyway.  I think maybe there was a fight once but I have heard of more fights and issues from her friends at Apex Middle than she has had at Moore Square.  She is in classes with all other AG kids, except electives which is a mix of all grade levels but she usually has some friends in her class with her.

Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School – Parent Review – School Year 2014-2015

We weren’t really sure if this was going to be the right fit but we went and observed and I was very comfortable, felt safe, and really liked all the teachers.

Orientation – was terrible for parents – they did not tell us anything important and just asked for money – art boosters, athletic boosters, pta – they need some lessons from Moore Square!!  My son had a good time at his orientation though.

We did need to meet ahead of time with my son’s counselor to make a 504 plan and all of my son’s new teachers were at the meeting.  It was a great meeting and we were very impressed.  They were very accommodating to his needs (even more than Exploris – although that was again from the new director, Summer, the previous director had been very accommodating.)  It was the best 504 meeting we have ever had.  His PE and Engineering teachers were very lively and fun and full of support and information regarding everything.

First day of school went very well for him.  He made friends easily, the student leaders from his orientation remembered him by name and said hi.  Everything was very positive.

Freshmen have to take World History / English as a combined class that lasts a full year and the rest of their classes they take as regular block classes.  They also usually try to put freshman in Healthful Living and get that out of the way Freshman year.  Kids who are magnet kids are often in the academies:  Engineering, Biotech, or Information Technology (Computers).  Those in the academies must also be in New Tech (project based learning) or if you are not in an academy, you can still sign up for new tech classes if you want.  They do put all the academy kids in the same classes but not necessarily all the engineering kids in the same class – mostly because these are the new tech classes they have set aside and you must do new tech if you are in the academies.  I think the new tech classes are great anyway, it takes the focus on just putting all the focus on content knowledge for your grade.  Kids do both tests and projects and get points for handing in work, working well with their group, creativity, grades on tests/quizzes/projects, etc. but only half of their grade comes from actual content knowledge (scores from the test grade or content knowledge from project grade) – so kids have a lot of ways to score points in a variety of ways and this helps give a more realistic picture of their ability as a whole and is graded more like a work environment than just, “can you memorize facts.”

Overall, the teachers I have met at the school have been excellent.  Some are better than others and some are off the charts, amazing!  In general the quality of teachers that I have met up to this point, far exceed the quality of teachers I saw at Apex High School.  They seem to want to be here, willing to work with parents / communicate with parents, and help children learn and excel.

The amount of technology this school has is also incredible.  In the new tech classes, each room has a computer for each student.  In the some of the specialty classrooms, like Digital Arts, the room is filled with Macs with huge screens and the latest Adobe Suite for learning, they are not behind in their software like other schools (at most they are one version behind).  The type of electives the school offers if your child is interested in engineering, biotech, computers, digital arts, etc. is amazing.

They have great clubs and teachers that support those clubs.  They have a wonderful Robotics Team and the Theater director is the most enthusiastic, fun, encouraging person you will ever meet!  My son has blossomed at this school.  The big question, everyone is worried about, is it SAFE?  The answer is YES.  There may be some “bad” kids, I don’t know, we haven’t met any!  I am sure there are “bad” kids at every school but the fact that they don’t stand out in anyway or anymore than any other school shows that this school is no different.  There are not fights, the kids seem respectful and nice.  My son is involved with so many activities that keep him at school until 9:00 pm at night and gone to football games – there has never been a problem.

 

Express Bus for Magnet Schools in Wake County

One of the downsides to magnets is the lack of neighborhood busing.  We were going to drive our kids to school the first day but the transportation and school personnel suggested that letting them ride as soon as possible is best since that is when they will help students learn which bus they need to take, etc.  We also know that they will be shutting down some of the highway soon for repaving, so riding the bus will optimal.  I was pleased that our bus doesn’t seem to leave too early.  I didn’t really want to have to put them on a bus at 5:45 and I know some people do.  I think if we did, we would drive to a later stop or drive.  Our bus doesn’t come until 6:20-6:25 and the stop is only 5 minutes from our house.  Right now, we are planning on leaving at 6:05, maybe later we will see if 6:10 will work once things get more predictable.  The kids are on the bus for only 30 minutes and there is only 1 other stop.  All the kids on the bus seem like nice kids.  There is a mix of middle and high school kids but they have the high school kids in the back and middle school up front.  Most high school kids are only 9th and 10th graders since after that, they can drive.  I guess putting my 6th grader on a bus with 9th and 10th graders doesn’t bother me since her brother is a 9th grader and on the same bus.  They take the bus to Southeast Raleigh HS, then my son gets off and goes into school.  He is there on the early side since the buses have to get there early enough to get the rest of the kids off to their schools.  They usually arrive by 6:45.  This will give him time to listen to music or visit with friends (which is probably going to be what happens).  My daughter catches another bus to Moore Square.  They had no trouble at all.  They didn’t get home until 3:38 today (first day) but they have to make sure they have all the kids in the first week or so, therefore it takes longer.  Later, they should leave SE Raleigh by 2:40 and be back by 3:10.  We feel good about the bus and our plan is to keep the kids on the bus.

 

Do you have a Review of a School you would like to do?  Send it to me and I will include other family reviews for any schools located in Wake County.

Try to include what you like about them and what you don’t like about them.

If you have any questions about the schools we have reviewed or mentioned, please ask,.

 

 

 

 

 

Developmentally Disabled / Handicapped Services at 18 in North Carolina

07 Mar

My developmentally disabled son turned 18 in January 2014!  What a wonderful milestone.  He joined the “system” of services in North Carolina at the age of 4 months when he started with an IFSP plan.  He went to “early” preschool because of his disability and then had an IEP.  He received speech, OT, and PT services in school as well as pull out and accommodations for his specific learning needs from K-12.  However as he got ready to turn 18, we were at a loss to what were the next steps! We were disappointed that our school provided little to no information about what we were to do “after” school and did not give us any resources.  I tried researching things on the internet but there was no one place where it was all spelled out for me.  Everything I found was for the elderly not for an 18 year old with DD.  So, as I walk down this path alone, trying to figure out what is available, I am blogging our experience in hopes that I can save some other parents the troubles that we went through to find out what is available.  I hope that perhaps other schools do a better job with helping families with these connections but we were only connected with Vocational Rehabilitation and they were not able to connect us with anyone else!

To begin… I would start this process at 17.5 at the latest so that things are in place for when your child turns 18.  Here is the to do list and my experience so far with each:

1.  Guardianship  – we chose to apply for guardianship since we felt that our son was not capable of making the right health decisions nor did we want to risk him entering into any contracts that he did not understand.  I wrote a separate blog on the steps to file for guardianship, so please read that for details.  http://www.zen5.me/a/489/how-to-get-guardianship-in-north-carolina-wake-county/

2.  Jobs – for jobs, there are several ways to get connected with jobs possibilities and job coaches to help your child on the job.  Vocational Rehabilitation is one resource.  Overall, we have not been impressed with them.  They had told us to make sure the job coach was the “right fit” but when we mentioned that she didn’t seem to be the right fit, we were discouraged from discussing it any further.  They only want to place him in a long term permanent job so they can close his case and informed me that it might take months or years (or if ever was even mentioned) to find that job.  They told me that they would work on carving out a job with employers that fit his needs and yet the job coach appears to just have my son send cold emails to companies.  My son’s job coach is not versed in the areas that my son has talent and strengths making it much more difficult for her to find him a good fit.  When asked about other resources, we were told they were “lousy” and not bother attending.  We were also not given any of the many other options that I found on my own.  We are not optimistic about the possibilities of work through North Carolina VR.  Job coaches, I believe, can also be provided through some other services such as personal care assistance.

3.  SSI – We applied for SSI disability at age 18.  We were told incorrect information so applied right at his birthday although you are supposed to wait until the start of the next month after the child turns 18 (if you don’t want to count parental resources).  We never received SSI for him as a child since we made too much money but now that he is an adult, he is able to apply on his own.  The process required an interview at the SSI office.  You must bring lots of ID!!!  We had to send off lots of paperwork and give the names of all doctors/therapists, etc. he worked with to document his disability.  We asked for quick consideration under two quick consideration classifications (cerebral palsy and schizencephaly).  I do not know if we got approved quickly because of that or if he was just approved quickly in general.  Yet, he was approved within 1 month and received his first check right on time.  We were told by VR to expect to go to court and delays of a year or more yet it was a quick process as he clearly qualified.  He also got Medicaid automatically after being approved for SSI.

4.  Alliance Behavioral Health – we were calling day programs to get information and they suggested we call Alliance.  I called them and they appear to be THE provider for all other services.  I had to apply and get my son approved in the same way we had to get approved for VR and SSI.  It required faxing a lot of paperwork showing his medical issues and disabilities.  He was approved in a couple of weeks and then we were referred for other services.  In order to get these other services, you must go through this process first.  ABH also put him on the NC innovations waiver list.  This list has a 10 year wait (or more) but provides a high level of service (up to $135,000 per year per client) for all types of service including day services.

5.  Personal Care Services – Universal – ABH referred us to Universal for Personal Care Services.  Here he can get 5-12 hours per week with someone working on independent living skills in our home or in the community.  I was impressed with their contact person and so far, it looks like a great service that will be very valuable for him.

6.  Community Guide – Community Partnerships – ABH referred us to Community Partnerships for the community guide program.  This is a 3 month program where the person gets to know the individual and then connects you with ALL the related services in the community that are appropriate for you.  We have a meeting coming up so I cannot comment yet but our phone conversation was good.  She is going to tell me about other waivers other than NC Innovations that my son might qualify for, social possibilities, day programs, college programs geared for developmentally disabled, etc.

7.  Respite – We have been referred if we need respite.  Right now, my son can stay alone for short periods so respite isn’t a huge need but I am trying to find out if any overnight respite is offered.  It might be that I can pay for overnight respite car using his SSI to hire a private personal care assistant if we need to be gone overnight but I am still looking into those options.

8.  Day programs – I looked at one day program where adults did various “camp” classes such as art, yoga, science, music, etc.  We are not sure if it is a good fit for my son but hope to get more information from the community guide about programs that best fit his physical and intellectual strengths and challenges.  These programs are only “free’ if you have the waiver so it would be costly to do it on our own but we may need something for him to do after graduation at least part time.

I continue to learn more about what is offered and available in North Carolina.  One thing that would have been helpful would have been to get on the NC Innovations waitlist years ago but no one told us about it!  I hope this information provides others with some ideas of the resources available in NC.  If you have found others, please share in comments section.

 
 

How to get Guardianship in North Carolina (Wake County)

27 Sep

When it came time for me to apply for guardianship for my disabled son, I felt like I was going down a road no one had gone down before!  It was hard to find information on what was involved and what steps were needed to obtain guardianship.  We just completed the process today and in an effort to make things easier for others, I would like to write out how to get  Guardianship for your loved one!  This is a case for Wake County, North Carolina.  I am assuming it is true for all of North Carolina but can’t be sure, however, I would assume it would be very similar within the state if not the same.

 

Step 1:  Fill out the paperwork at the North Carolina Wake County Clerk of Courts Website for Guardianship.  (Click on the word paperwork to see the forms you need to fill out.)

Step 2:  Take filled out paperwork to Wake County Court house in downtown Raleigh and go to the 12th floor, go through the Clerk of Courts doors and look for the sign for Special Proceedings.

Step 3:  Give the paperwork to the people at the desk at Special Proceedings.  They will have an additional form for you to fill out.  Plan on being there for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4:  After you fill out the rest of the paperwork, they will make copies and schedule a court date (as soon as 2 weeks out possibly).  They will also give you the name of an attorney for the disabled person.

Step 5:  You will be given copies of the forms to deliver to all next of kin to make them aware of the hearing and give you a form that says that you have to sign (notarized or bring back to court) to prove you gave out all the copies to next of kin.  This includes siblings older than 18 years of age.

Step 6:  The sheriff will be given another copy of the notice that he has to serve in person to the disabled person prior to the hearing.

Step 7:  Once home, you wait for the sheriff to serve notice (if he hasn’t come before the court date, that could be a problem so call and check with them if you are a day or two out and the disabled person hasn’t been served yet).

Step 8:  You also need to wait until you get a call from the court appointed lawyer.  He will call and schedule an appointment with the proposed guardian and disabled person.

Step 9:  At the meeting with the lawyer, he will want to explain to the disabled person what their rights are, discuss the guardianship, types of guardianship, limitations of the disabled person, and make sure the guardian is fit to serve as guardian.  If all is well, the meeting will be short and he will prepare a report for the court.  There is no cost for any of this.

Step 10:  You arrive with your notice that says you served everyone, any proof showing disability (if needed, we didn’t need it but we did bring my son with us) and will meet with the lawyer and the clerk of court in a small room at the 12th floor on the day of your hearing.

Step 11:  The clerk of court will discuss with you the types of guardianship, ask about the limitations of the person needing guardianship, and make recommendations.  She will then share those with you, you all agree and you are sent to another room for the oath and letters.

Step 12:  Some other folks enter information into a computer, have you agree to an oath of office (sounds like you are taking oath for president of the United States), and they give you 5 stamped letters for you to provided anyone who needs proof that you are guardian.  You sign a couple forms and you are done.

 

You can apply for guardianship as soon as your disabled child is 17 1/2.  You don’t need to wait until they are 18.  This way there is no gap.  I hope this helps!

 

Bullying – If you have never been bullied, watch Big Brother 15 to learn what it is like as Amanda demonstrates

30 Aug

Bullying has always been a topic that interests me.  I had some rough times in elementary school and a few run ins with a couple bullies  – a girl named Mickey and in middle school a girl named Danielle.  The elementary school events were of a greater impact since I began to gain more confidence in myself in middle school and thankfully by high school I felt confident in who I was and went to a school where I witnessed no bullying (it was a catholic school).  However, bullying does severe damage to many children and has lasting impact on their lives.  Parents of these children often don’t understand to full impact of bullying because they never went through it or they are just a more confident person.

What I found so very interesting was watching 20-somethings on Big Brother 15 on CBS this year have a severe case of bullying.  For those that don’t understand bullying or have never been bullied, it might be useful to watch this show (even if it isn’t your thing) just to fully understand what bullying is and the impact it can have.

In the Big Brother house, a “showmance” as they like to call it emerged between a gentle pizza boy, Mcrae and a bully, Amanda.  In the beginning, it appears that Amanda is just potentially a good “player” as the goal is to manipulate people to do what you want so that you don’t get “put on the block” and voted out.  However, as time goes on, we begin to see how Amanda uses threatening behavior to scare people not to put her or her boyfriend on the block.  When she gets angry at someone, she calls them terrible names and gets right into their face.  At this point, she has taken bullying to a level that I imagine children at school go through.  She has decided she is going to bully Elissa.  She follows her around constantly to intimidate her, she calls her names, she threatens her, she says rude things about her, she tells her to “go hide from her,” and on top of that she cries saying that it is because Elissa is evil is that she gets referred to as being a bully.  She clearly doesn’t even understand what bully behavior is.  Her boyfriend, who honestly seems like a nice guy, is always trying to calm her down and shut her up.

Elissa, being a married 27 year old woman with a child is able to ignore her, take the high road, and act maturely most of the time.  However, you can still see that it gets to her.  It would get to anyone but she is a grown woman who is confident in herself so she has skills to handle this situation in a way that a child who lacks self-confidence would not.

Imagine, if you will, this scenario playing out in school – especially middle school or even high school.  Imagine a child who feels unsure of themself, is a shy, not very confident, and some may not feel attractive or popular.  Now, take another teen that is acting like Amanda, a girl (just for this example but it could also be a boy) that follows her around all the time, torments her, calls her names, makes fun of her, threatens her safety, destroys what little sense of self she has, and just want stop.  She does this day after day and laughs about with others and enjoys this type of “power” she thinks she has over this other child.  If you can see how Amanda is doing it to a woman who is not even a self-conscious person who lacks self-esteem and it is so awful, I hope you can imagine what it would be like with children in this alternate situation.

I hope this show can actually bring to light what bullying is and help people be better able to understand and recognize bullying.

 
 

Stomach Viruses – No Fever Needed

26 Apr

I will admit that I have a phobia of vomiting. So – I am very very careful to limit contact with viruses that cause the stomach flu.  The stomach flu is very contagious and often misunderstood and therefore many families take there children out in public or send them to school / daycare when they are contagious, thus causing more people to get sick. Most of the time, when a child has a stomach virus, they do not have a fever.  It is more common to not have a fever with vomiting or diarrhea than it is to have a fever.  In fact, if your child is throwing up WITH a fever, I would consider that it is possible they might have something other than just a stomach virus.  Often children with strep throat will throw up and have a fever with strep throat.  Even appendicitis has the symptoms of pain, vomiting, and fever.  If your child just throws up once and then can eat a meal right after and keeps it down, it was probably something they ate.  However, too many people often think that no fever with vomiting = something they eat.  If your child throws up multiple times and isn’t eating (or if they eat and then vomit again), it is most likely the stomach virus – even with no fever.   Tylenol will not prevent illness either, one mom told me she gave her child tylenol so they wouldn’t get sick.  Tylenol works as a pain and fever reducer, it doesn’t work to prevent illness.  Antibiotics also won’t work with a stomach virus.  All viruses cannot be helped by antibiotics.  Only bacterial infections (strep throat, certain types of pneumonia, sinus infections, bronchitis) can be helped with antibiotics.  So asking for antibiotics when your child is throwing up from a stomach virus probably won’t get you anywhere.  A doctor would only prescribe it if they thought the vomiting was stemming from a bacterial infection such as strep throat, for example.  Using too many antibiotics when not needed will make you resistant to them when you do need them, so you only want to take them when truly needed.

Tylenol brings fever down. Even if you have a fever and use Tylenol to bring down the fever – please know that you or your child is still sick.  It is not “polite” to give them Tylenol to bring down the fever and then send them to school until the Tylenol wears off and the school calls you.  You are then infecting all the other kids who come in contact with your child.  Also know that Tylenol (or Motrin) treats symptoms, not the illness.   Another consideration is this – unless the fever makes you very uncomfortable – LEAVE IT ALONE – a fever is your body’s natural way of fighting the virus or infection. Your body raises the temperature to help kill the bad stuff. By taking Tylenol, you are slowing down the help your body is trying to do for you. A fever is your friend … yes, if you are MISERABLE with really high fever, get some help … but if it is that bad, the Tylenol won’t even make your temp go to normal. However, if you can deal with the fever or your child isn’t miserable (by the way, sleeping is not miserable – it is good and will help your child get better sooner) – let the fever help fight the illness.

The “Flu” – the regular flu (the virus that we get offered vaccines for each fall/winter) is almost always accompanied by a fever. If you think you have the flu and you don’t have a fever, you probably don’t have the flu (but with that said, you can still have the flu without fever – it just isn’t that common). Flu is fever with cold like symptoms and lots of fatigue and usually your body aches. The flu happens most often between October – March – with the highest chances around January and February most years. Flu usually lasts for at least a week and then kind of lingers. But note that the STOMACH FLU (see below) is not the “THE FLU.” We call it the stomach flu but it is not the influenza virus.

The STOMACH FLU –  (this is not really a flu.)  It is a virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and usually lasts under 12 hours. This is when you start feeling sick – are throwing up every hour or so – and after a few hours (sometimes just a couple to up to 12 – longer if it is a nasty case of Rotavirus) start to feel better. You have to eat slowly to get your stomach used to food again. This virus does not cause a fever in most people. So – if you or your child throws up multiple times in a few hour span but doesn’t have a fever – they most likely have the stomach flu and should not be around other people. Don’t think that if they don’t have a fever – it must just be “something they ate.” Most of the time, it is not something they ate (in all my life, I have had the stomach bug multiple times and only ONCE was it from “something I ate.”). If they vomit only once and they can eat fine – then they probably are not sick.   Do they need to go see the doctor? In most cases, not unless they are dehydrated or have other symptoms that suggest it might be more than the stomach flu. The best way to treat a stomach flu is to let the stomach rest for at least 2 hours after vomiting then start with small sips (like a tablespoon) of water.  Give the sip every 20 minutes, if after an hour, no vomiting occurred, increase the sips to twice as much, still every 20 minutes.  Don’t over do how much liquid you give or the child will just vomit again.  Once the child can drink and hold down liquids for a few hours, if they are hungry (and only if), they should start with some simple crackers or toast, small amounts and wait and hour in between.  Go slow and if tolerated, you can increase it.  They should stay home for at least 24 hours after vomiting and be really good about washing their hands after using the bathroom.  They can still shed the virus for 2 weeks after being sick.  Be respectful.  Don’t inflict that on others! Don’t send them to school if they are still sick- don’t take them into Walmart while they are sick and remember they are still somewhat contagious even once they are better. If your child is sick – if you are sick – please STAY HOME! These viruses are VERY contagious. Did you know that they can also live on surfaces in your house for 2 weeks or more? So, if your child is sick and a week later when your child has been well for 6 days – they have a friend come over – if you missed a spot when cleaning – or maybe you didn’t go nuts with bleach like I do after someone in my house is sick – well, that friend could catch it! Yes, a week later – at your house – long after your child has been well!

So – to summarize…

Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections – colds, stomach bugs, and the flu are not bacterial!

The FLU is the regular winter flu – it generally does not cause vomiting – and usually does have a fever but is different from the Stomach Flu!

The STOMACH FLU – or STOMACH BUG – usually does not a fever – that is the norm. If your child throws up multiple times, it probably isn’t just something they ate.

DON’T probably don’t need to rush to the ER and doctors as soon as your child throws up in most cases – the doctor will tell you “your child has a stomach virus – gradually increase liquids, don’t let them dehydrate and put them on a bland diet (BRAT diet) until they feel better. However, trust your gut and if you feel your child seems very sick or listless, always be cautious and make the trip.

DON’T take your child out in public when they are sick! Think of others.  And remember that the virus can live in your house for weeks!!!

One last thing? How can I stop the Stomach Flu? The obvious answer is hand washing (lots of it!) especially before eating!!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and this advice is based on medical fact about viruses and bacterial illnesses as well as personal experiences of a mother of four.