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Excellent Resource- Bystander Behavior

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Pete is the new kid learning, “The kids in his new school are way different than at his other school.” Everyone is talking about the “Promise” but will Pete join the group or continue to be odd man out. The Juice Box Bully is a realistic journey of a bully and the real power students have when standing up for each other. Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy present this book for primary grades, encouraging empowering choices under stressful interactions and giving children concepts related to bystander behavior.
Recent studies are confirming, students are the real solution to abusive and bullying behavior in schools. They have the power to set the tone of what is acceptable in their social settings. Yet, they often lack the skill set to make empowering choices. The Juice Box Bully is an excellent resource for students and teachers to discuss real life situations and how to make appropriate choices.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Hypnotic Screens – Alternative Choices for Children

Wide 16:9 LCD television set (with screen and clipping path)

A typical work week had me digging through homework folders, reviewing random papers and discovering an article from Time Kids, detailing the average American child’s time usage of electronics, not including cell phones. I was blown away by the staggering hours, with the record high for 11-15 year olds clocking 10 hours a day. That is a full-time job, plus overtime! Intrigued over the possible implications for what can only be described as addictive behavior, I continued investigating. I found some even more startling facts. I like to think, I’m somewhat savvy when it comes to screen time in our home, but, I felt dumb as a brick when my general thought of – TV and video games are just bad for you– needed some major upgrading!
Excessive screen time, excessive being above the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of 1-2 hours of daily screen time, places our children at risk for*
• Obesity – a 20% increase
• Cardiovascular Disease – a 20% increase
• Irregular Sleep Habits
• Behavior Problems – ADD
• Violence -A child will witness 200,000 violent acts on screens by age 18
• Impaired eyesight
• Impaired academic performance

To keep that list in perspective, a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded, for every hour of television watching we do, our life span is reduced by 22 minutes! Aside from curb-siding our televisions, smashing our computers and pitching our iphones out the window (not happening here!), how do we limit usage in this digital age to a healthy level, when screens are in the classroom, at home, at the grocery store and even on the side of a highway?

The heavy burden is primarily in the home where students are entertaining themselves to…death. Intentional choices must be made to limit usage and replace that full time job with a healthy lifestyle. Here are five alternative choices to screen time for our children.

Be bored – Out of boredom springs forth creative processes.
Go outside– Hunt for bugs or rocks, juggle a ball, walk to a friend’s house
Call a relative – Have an actual conversation, no FB, no Tweet, no Text
Help make a meal– Yum!
Read a book with paper pages…oooohhhh

I know the list can go on and on. Please share your alternative choices to screen time with our TSC family. Your expertise as an educator and parent can foster future, empowering choices for all of our children. Looking forward to your suggestions!

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

* Facts from kidshealth.org, Mayo clinic and National Institue of Health

Dear Boston

Boston, may your hearts be filled with peace and comfort in this time of distress. Know– you are not alone, we are with you. We are those who have experienced your moment, those who share in title, not only fellow American, but fellow human being. May the loved ones mourning the loss of family and friends somehow experience solace. May the parents who’s worst nightmare is upon them, have joy instead of deep sorrow, when remembering sweet times with their precious boy. May those with life changing injuries be healed and fully live each day.
Why someone would methodically choose to cause such devastation on a day filled with so much cheer, we shall never understand the mindset that is bent on seeking and destroying. Feeble answers may linger in the air, but, will never be justified. May we keep an unfathomable sense of this tragedy, in doing so, we keep our humanity alive. May we maintain the spirit of the Boston Marathon–embody an unfaltering human will to overcome.
Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the victims and families of the Boston Marathon attack.
Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

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Wake- Up Call!

Wake- Up Call!

A major obstacle children face with making positive choices is lack of exercise and nutrition. Our children are our future and we need to teach them the importance of healthy exercise and nutrition to help build positive choice making skills and an overall healthy lifestyle. The benefits to exercise and healthy nutrition outweigh the negatives. Their ability to overcome their obstacles to make healthier choices improves while building confidence and promoting self-esteem. Healthy eating provides more energy, better brain function and memory and allows children’s concentration to increase. By living a healthy lifestyle children can gain a positive feeling about them and decrease anxiety, reduce depression, and improve quality of sleep. Parents and educators your efforts to encourage our children to exercise regularly and instill the value of healthy nutrition is crucial. Let’s work together and give our children, of the future, this precious gift that will last a lifetime.

Children’s Amusing Choices

“Would you rather eat a furry tarantula or lick a squirrel?” These are the bizarre but fairly normal questions circling our meal times.  Responses and explanations are just as amusing as the question themselves.  Choosing to be a rebel on this occasion, I bowed out and refused to give-in to the pressure– “You have to choose one,” whinned one child.  Today, I choose a squirrel and spider-free diet, thank you. There are more choices available beyond what others may offer, just like you all have choices in your life, I explain to my 3 boys.  Nicky, immediately informs me, he has no choices.  I get it.  Mom, dad, teachers, coaches and even his older brothers seem to run the show. Children often feel limited in their choice making ability based on their position.  Especially, if the circumstances of their lives are filled with stress; abuse, lack of sleep, lack of basic nutrition, etc.  Many children are not even aware of the simple fact, that they do make choices each and every day, and their future choices are wide and very possible. As parents and teachers, may we remind our children, often, of their ability to make choices and encourage the self-empowering ones along the way, minus the furry spiders.

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An Awesome Read for Kids

An Awesome Read for Kids

TSC just did a lesson to 1st & 3rd graders in a Camden Charter School using the book, “Cool Down and Work Through Anger.” This wonderfully written book is by Cheri J. Meiners. It is a fantastic book for showing children how to help deal with anger. There are many reasons for getting angry but how one chooses to deal with the feeling of anger is the key. This book gives the reader wonderful scenarios, discusses the feelings/emotions of anger, and discusses the choices we are faced with when dealing with the emotion of anger. The best part are the tips offered to children to help manage their anger. This book is highly recommended to any parent or educator of young children. A great choice for children learning how to deal with anger.

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How to Guide Children to Deal with Anger and Learn to Resolve Conflicts

How to Guide Children to Deal with Anger and Learn to Resolve Conflicts

Anger is a normal human emotion we all have and dealing with angry children is the most challenging job of a parent or teacher. Anger is sometimes a child’s way of declaring independence. You can help children in the heat of the moment by recognizing the emotion of anger: “I can see that you are angry right now.” Help children recognize the triggers that set off the feeling of anger— what situations make them want to scream, shout, and stomp their feet with a pounding heart and heavy breathing.

Try these tips with your child when anger takes hold:

• Stop and take a moment to breathe—stop whatever you are doing , take a deep breath and step away from the situation
• Know your triggers— if there are certain things that you can’t accept take steps to avoid them
• Exercise regularly— exercise is a great way to de-stress your mind and body
• Diffuse the situation— try inter-acting to the situation versus reacting (think or talk rather than act when anger takes hold)

Learning how to deal with anger is a skill that can take a lifetime to develop. The tips above will help children master their feelings of anger. It is never too soon to teach children how to control anger so the anger doesn’t control them. These strategies may be difficult; however, with guidance and lots of practice, these tips can help children acknowledge anger and resolve conflicts peacefully.

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Kindness is Intelligent

Kindness is Intelligent

Across the monkey bars to the twirling seat-cups, where I sat, spinning in an attempt to entertain my 6 year old son, Nicky*. I heard his voice call, “Who wants to play cops and robbers?” The alpha male command in the jungle beckoned and the natives came running. I was grateful to this little boy for gathering the troops on the play ground. I was getting dizzy. Also, 15 minutes prior, I was standing outside my car trying to convince my son to go, have some fun. Although grateful, I kept my eye on that alpha male, Calvin. I expected possible bossiness, intimidation, physical aggression and the like. Why? My ignorant, preconceived notions were running amuck. I watched that kid like a hawk, and not for any of the reasons above, but, because I was witnessing a natural born leader.
He began the play-process with such interpersonal discipline, I could not believe, I was watching an 8 year old boy conduct himself like a board member of a civil committee. He introduced himself, had everyone say their names, then he went around and repeated each person’s name, so everyone would know who was who. He divided the teams equally based on age, and off they went to have a great time. At no point did anyone challenge him or whine about their assigned roles.
When it was time for Nicky to leave the park, Calvin bid him a friendly good bye as if they had been friends for years. “Did you have a good time?” I asked, Nicky. “Yep! Calvin is so smart, mom.” Intrigued by his statement, “Why do you think he is smart?” I questioned. With a look that implied, I should already know this information, he countered, “Because, he was kind!”
*Alias
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Cheating-Teaching: Atlanta Educators

A month ago, my boss asked me to explore the reasons we cheat, and, at the time, I did not want to invest the energy, because it was irrelevant. The reasons may be understood as somewhat justified, but it seemed so black and white to me. It was inappropriate–just plain wrong. Now, the details of the Atlanta Public School system’s cheating scandal unravel each day with a new administrator, teacher, or principal coming forward to admit his or her guilt in what is being called the largest public school cheating scandal.
Details of the 2 ½ year investigation, involving over 178 administrators in this case, are a nasty blemish on the public school system. Atlanta is not an isolated case, with reports of multiple cheating scandals on standardized testing in various states.
The reasons and excuses are many: There was a culture of cheating (sounds very Lance Armstrong-ish); there were rewards both monetarily and career wise; the weight of standardized test scores was too heavy on teacher evaluations; and, of course, the whopper to blame for all this cheating is No Child Left Behind. I felt compassion for one teacher, a single parent who was afraid to lose her job, if she did not conform to the cheating culture. In the end, she lost her job because she chose to cheat. The reasons should not be ignored, and their validity requires a deeper analysis of current measurements of effective learning and teaching.
But, at the end of the day, you are an educator. Sorry, but you are held to a higher standard of sound judgment, because there is no other appointment more honorable than teaching. Teaching is a distinguished profession that embodies truthful, respectable, ethical, conscientious behavior. You are influencing, molding, encouraging and promoting the growth of another human being with potential to do something marvelous, like–teach.
I believe teachers should get paid like rock stars and be given every resource possible to reach students in their classes. Perhaps that is my naïve perspective, and I know people do not pursue careers in education for the financial benefits and accolades. Typically, the pursuit is made with the idea of imparting knowledge or a love of children.
Deception will have consequences, be it externally or internally. Cheating is a toxic method and model to impart knowledge, and love is never manipulative.
Sound off your thoughts and opinions on the topic.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice