Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Y Helps Kids Combat ‘Summer Slide’

Innovative Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program

Did you know that many children experience summer learning loss or “summer slide” over the two-month break when they don’t engage in educational activities?

In fact, most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in reading skills over the summer months.*

Studies show that without access to summer learning activities, children from low-income environments can experience more significant learning loss than their more economically stable peers. Over time, these children continue to lose ground and by the fifth grade, many are two to three school years behind their middle- and high-income peers.

This summer, the Y will play its part in preventing summer learning loss among children who participate in its summer programs and camps.

The Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program offers reading and enrichment for first- and second-graders from low-income environments who are reading below grade level. Certified teachers and assistants work with students to not only help improve reading skills, but also provide afternoon programs dedicated to art, music, science and swimming lessons. This program is designed to give children well-rounded educational and physical activities all summer long!

Parents and caregivers are also actively involved in the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program: the Y offers workshops designed to encourage reading at home, helping parents become more involved in their child’s education.

By engaging students and parents, the Y has yielded some incredible results:

·         Children enrolled in the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program gained an average of 2.4 months in reading skills
·         97.6 percent of parents/caregivers report children are “more excited to learn”
·         99.7 percent of parents/caregivers believe their child will do better in school
·         98.3 percent of parents/caregivers believe the program helped their family read more books

(2013 Results from 34 sites, 985 children enrolled)

“It’s difficult for kids to retain everything they learned during the school year. That’s why the YMCA is dedicated to providing summer programs to help children keep up their reading skills, as well as nurture their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development to reach their full potential,” said Rebecca Kelley, director of achievement gap programs at YMCA of the USA.

Launched in 2013, the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program is now offered at Ys in 25 states, with the number of locations expected to grow. To learn more about the Y’s summer learning loss efforts and commitment to youth development, visit  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Reading Programs on The Stories for Children Show

Listen to the Stories for Children Show Monday July 28, 2014 at 6pm Eastern - 5pm Central - 4pm Mountain - 3pm Pacific for a special on Summer Reading Programs and Book Clubs. Mom's Choice & Award-winning Author Virginia S Grenier will be talking about the importance of children and teens reading through the summer months.

Our guest today is Rebecca Kelley, the National Director of Achievement Gap Initiatives of the YMCA. During 12 years with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Rebecca co-led a multi-sector community team that developed the award-winning Cincinnati Community Learning Center initiative and academic enrichment programs, including CincyAfterSchool, a 2013 nominee for National Summer Learning Association’s Award of Excellence. Through school-community partnership, Cincinnati produced a rise in graduation rates during the past decade from 50 percent to 82 percent, and a reduction in the achievement gap from 14.5 percent to 4.5 percent. Prior to joining the YMCA, Rebecca served as the director of knowledge and innovation for Strive’s National Network at the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, she supported more than 90 cradle to career collective impact initiatives.

Grenier, with her guest Rebecca Kelley, hope to not only share their love of the written word, but also what makes a good book for young readers and much more.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Emotionally Mature Parenting

Parenting is, and always has been, a difficult job. This is especially the case today since kids more than ever need a wholesome upbringing in order to be successful and happy. Our kids have very few resources to gain such a wholesome upbringing if it isn’t for parents stepping up to the plate.

We all remember when our children were growing up. We were down on our knees, holding out our arms, encouraging our children to take their first steps. When our child fell or stumbled, we didn’t shout, spank or reprimand. We simply smiled, soothed, and encouraged. In other words, we motivated our child to succeed as much as possible.

Then our child got older and suddenly our attitudes started changing. We may have started getting mad and snapping for little misdemeanors. Then as they approach their teen years, we may have gotten even more upset at them to the point where we may even be mean to them.  One may wonder, what happened to all of the encouraging and open love that we showed our teens during childhood?

In order to bring up our teens, in a wholesome and emotionally mature manner, we should try to recapture some of that positive attitude that we had towards them when they were young so that we could raise confident, self-disciplined and happy teenagers. Sometimes, our own beliefs get in the way of emotionally mature parenting. Here are a few ways to fine tune our parenting skills so that we can become more emotionally mature parents.

1.      Practise joyfulness. We should give our teens the sense that life is meant to be enjoyed, not just gotten through. A sense of joy brings a sense of aliveness and vitality. And this will help our teens to become joyful and happy adults.

2.      Instill a sense of peace and well-being within the family. Parents can establish a positive environment or climate by creating a sense of serenity and encouraging positive feelings and behaviors over negative ones. Peace overcomes fear, insecurity, and other negative emotions. Once a teen experiences peace, she will carry that feeling with her right into adulthood.

3.      Practise patience. Patience is the ability to stay grounded in tough situations and put up with difficult people. Parenting is a tough job and teens can be difficult to tolerate sometimes. But by practising patience in the home, teens will be patient with their siblings and peers as well.

4.      Practise kindness. Kindness is a mellowness and sweetness in one’s attitude. Kindness is the opposite or chafing, irking, and galling. Teens need to be the natural receivers of daily acts of kindness. Kindness dispensed on a daily basis can become the antidote for cynicism or a mean spirit. Try to practise random acts of kindness with teens. Then as our teen grows up, she’ll be able to show others such random acts of kindness as well.

5.      Practise generosity. Generosity requires that we possess a warm-spirited nature and to practise kindness. By generosity, I don’t imply a vision of dollar signs dancing in the minds of teens. What I mean is a generous spirit. A generous parent has a spirit of forbearance, forgiveness, and understanding. For instance, parents can be generous with teens by spending time with them and enjoying activities together.

6.      Exercise integrity. A parent with integrity has a consistent behavior pattern under all circumstances and in all places. To have integrity is to be a whole person. A person with integrity is like a solid piece of linoleum—she is the same all the time and all over.  Once we demonstrate integrity in the home, our teens will emulate it too.

7.      Show gentleness towards our teens. To be gentle is to be considerate. In order for teens to learn how to be considerate, parents have to model gentleness in the home on a daily basis. There is an old word that captures the meaning of gentleness—meekness. To be meek means to channel raw energy, power, and ability in the service of goodness and wellness. We have to teach meekness to their teens.

8.      Practise self-control. This is the ultimate parenting virtue. When parents practise self-control, they are in charge of their own volatile emotions and don’t allow anger to cloud their judgment. The most important discipline in the world for parents has nothing to do with making teens behave. On the contrary, it is to teach our teens to act a certain way by our example. Only when parents are under control are we capable of being in charge. Self-control can lead to self-discipline, and this will help our teens become self-disciplined too.

By trying to practice and emulate these emotional traits and attitudes towards our teens, they will be encouraged to become mature human beings in adult life. So, it is up to us to try and foster these virtues in our teens.  But first we have to demonstrate emotional maturity ourselves in the family.

~ Irene S. Roth

Listen to The Empowerment Show on Blog Talk Radio's Featured World of Ink Network at

Monday, July 14, 2014

Teen Overexposure

Teens today are overexposed to everything, aren’t they? And this seems to be hurting teens. They are unhappy and their hopes and aspirations are constantly dashed because of the not good enough right now mentality that is pervading their lives. Some parents seem to be a bit behind the times as the values that they were brought up with were very different from their teens. And some parents find it very difficult to communicate with their teens about this. All of these things together vie to cause a lot of heartbreak for teens and their parents, not to mention a lack of communication.

Parents need to change their approach in order to understand their teens. But before they can do that, parents must listen to their teens and understand the world they inhabit. The world is currently running so fast that none of us, including our teens, can keep up. And the culprit of the problem may be overexposure. This is a problem that won’t go away but may even get worse. So, it is important for the parents of teens to come to terms with this difficulty.

Here are a few ways that our teens are overexposed.

1.   Overexposure to information

    The vast amount of written information increases at an alarming rate today, given the internet and other online sources. In the 1930s, written information doubled every thirty years. In the 1970s and 1980s, that amount of information doubled every eleven years. Today, codified information doubles every eleven hours!  This means that our teens can end their day being half as wise as they were when they woke up in the morning!  The amount of information available today far exceeds their ability to contain it. No wonder our teens are feeling so overwhelmed and unhappy.

    This also affects teens in other ways. Teens today wonder which source is correct. Who should they trust? There is so much information to choose from.  Which one is the most credible? This is a difficult question to answer, and parents need to help their teens to decode this information so that they could find the most reliable sources. 

2.   Overexposure to Images

    The explosion of the number of videos and photos available to our teens is also astronomical. In addition, digital photography has placed cameras in everyone’s hands. Facebook currently has around 250 million pictures uploaded each day and it is growing daily. Sixty nine percent of heads of households play computer and video games at home. This is a very important comment on how we spend our time as a family, isn’t it?  The offensive, unthinkable, and unmentionable are no longer off limits, and the boundaries of images and words have been expanded to the point that very few blush or turn their heads in embarrassment any longer when they are encountered. This can be very unsettling indeed.

    And this hurts teens a lot. This kind of overexposure to offensive material has made teens more numb to images that once offended people. They accept it as normal and some of them even go along with it. This is why parents should try not to tolerate these kinds of images in the home in order for their teens not to be overexposed to these things.

3.   Overexposure to materialism and consumerism

    Every time we turn around, someone is trying to sell something to us or our teens.  This has instilled a materialistic mentality in teens and parents too. One thing that we must do as parents is to show our kids that material possessions cannot make us happy. We need much more than that. A family bike ride after dinner can do much to keep us stay active and happy. We can get a chance to talk and spend time together. The less we are plugged into the media the better. The more we can do other things as a family and step out of the consumeristic mindset the better. And by doing this, parents will be teaching their teens the importance of finding other ways find happiness. Possessions can never be the answer to our happiness and problems. In fact, it is said to cause more problems than it can solve.

Teen overexposure is here to stay. We can help our teens by approaching them at their levels and to really take the time to understand where they are coming from. Instead of parenting from our perspective, we should try and reach out to them and try and counter the effects of overexposure on their lives both now and in the future. 

Irene S. Roth 

Listen to The Empowerment Show on Blog Talk Radio's Featured World of Ink Network at

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Opening Lines of Communication with Teens

Leave me alone!

As parents, I’m sure you’ve probably heard this often. And this statement usually signals 24 to 48 hours of silent treatment and tension both for the parent and the teen. But can parents avoid these times and find a way to really talk to their teens?

The teen years can be difficult indeed for teens and parents alike. One way to minimize the difficulty and tension that is associated with this difficult time is to find a way to really talk openly and honestly with your teen. It is possible to do this with a little bit of patience and a whole lot of love and compassion.

Most of you want your teens to be able to talk to you about things that they are worried about and experiencing. Yet, teens sometimes feel unable to talk to their parents. For some reason, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding between parents and teens. Teens want to be heard by their parents and parents want to be listened to as well. But it can be so difficult for both to really listen to each other, isn’t it?

Here are a few tips to open lines of communication with your teens.

1.      Try to be patient with your teens. Instead of always dictating to them, try listening to their side of things. Listen to their concerns and point of view. Then compassionately respond to their concerns. This doesn’t mean that you have to go along with what your teen wants all the time. However, it does mean that you will take them seriously.

2.      Don’t put your teen down verbally. This can backfire and work against you since by setting a back example you’ll not only be showing them how NOT TO deal with difficulties but you will also be undermining your teen’s self-esteem and self-confidence. This also stifles open and honest communication. So, instead, try to set an example as to how your teen can behave towards others by treating your teen with love and respect.

3.      Carve out some family time. Choose a time when the whole family is together each day, if possible. You may want to take an hour after dinner and really connect. Or, you may want to talk a bit before your teen goes to bed. During these times, sit down and really connect with your teens. Don’t talk over the television or be plugged into any technological devices. This is distracting and true communication will be hindered if not destroyed.  

4.      Give your teens your complete attention. You may want to meet with only one teen at a time. Perhaps Mom can talk to one teen while Dad the other. Or, you may decide to talk all together. However, make sure that every teen gets an equal time to chat. Favoritism will only make matters worse.

5.      Be compassionate about the plight that your teens are going through. Parents sometimes tend to undermine how their teens feel by saying things like: Oh it’s not that bad!  Or, This too shall pass!

Although this may be true, your teen is probably really struggling and you have to see their dilemmas on their terms. This can be difficult because you have to try to feel what it would be like to be in your teen’s predicament. You have to feel what it would be like to be in their predicament.

6.   Keep your discussion time upbeat and fun. If parents make this time negative and off-putting all the time, teens won’t want to talk. Or, if arguments result all the time, the same will hold. Your teens will do anything under the sun to avoid such times.

By following these tips, parents will be opening lines of communication with their kids. And this will save them from further difficulty later on.

The teen years are difficult. But they can be the best years for both your teen and you. Try and make the best of them, because these years come to an end all too quickly. Before you realize it, your teen will be entering university and moving out on his/her own. So, enjoy each day with them to the fullest. 

Irene S. Roth 


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.