Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My letter--any recommendations?

My name is Kami Latorre and I have two children in KISD and three more to follow. I am concerned about the enormous amount of time the K-5 children spend in classroom with only one recess.  I was dismayed when I received a minute to minute schedule of my child’s 7 + hour long Kindergarten day and found she had one 15 minute recess. 

As a nurse, I know that scientific research clearly shows that increased movement increases the blood flow to the brain, which in turn releases nerve growth factor which helps the brain grow, develop, and concentrate better.  It also releases hormones that counter anxiety, mellow moods, and increase happiness and self-esteem.  Even the CDC recommends at least 20 minutes of recess per school day.  Physical education classes are not held every day, so that does not make up the difference.

While I understand that KISD desires to educate children to a high academic standard and I support that, I do not believe that standard will be sacrificed by allowing the children a longer, or preferably, more recesses.  In fact, several academic studies, e.g. The Long-Run Impacts of Early Childhood Education, DeCicca & Smith, 2011,  I have researched have shown that many children, especially boys, are often not developmentally ready for long classroom days in Kindergarten, and their initial negative experiences leads to poorer academic performance throughout their primary and secondary education.  

Also, many countries that perform better than the US in international testing, have longer recesses and/or shorter school instructional time.  For instance, in Canada--which ranks higher and has a similar diverse population, school system, economy and culture--the province of Alberta requires 200 elementary school days a year and 950 hours of instructional time.  KISD has only 178 school days and Texas requires 1260 instructional hours. Hence, Alberta students are able to enjoy a relaxed schedule of starting later, releasing earlier, having two recesses and an hour long lunch break, while maintaining a high academic performance and healthy balance of work and play. 

I would urge you to increase the length and number of recesses in KISD for the K-5 grades.  If hours in the classroom cannot be sacrificed, then I would support lengthening the school year while adding more recesses and/or shortening the school day. I would also request that recess never be taken away as a form of punishment.  

My children deserve a robust education with opportunities for creative and engaging learning, as well as opportunities to release energy, move, be happy, and cope with stress naturally.  


Kami Latorre

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RS/YW activity

I am not chock full of ideas, but I can tell you a couple things I know.

One of our YW said that she wants to learn useful skills like budgeting, cooking, care maintenance etc., because she is recognizing that she will soon be living on her own and she wants to be prepared.

Fundraising in the church is discouraged, except under very specific conditions.  See Church Handbook 13.6.8, so anything you do there would definitely have to be cleared with the Bishop.  I'm not sure about soliciting materials - I know that the church is somewhat specific on that, but the paragraph about it was hard to find.  BUT, I love the idea of helping to set up the school room for the homeless shelter.  Are they gearing it towards adults or children?  You could make school supplies for kids like book bags, soft ABC books, etc.  Or make curtains or cozy cushions for seating.  Make mini chalkboards for practicing writing skills?  I don't know.  This is not my forte.

I like the idea of using your Dad as a speaker!  Especially if he's funny.  ;-)

Another educational topic would be First Aid, which is something from my growing up years that I have used over and over again as a Mom (thanks to the Red Cross babysitting class and Girls Camp for the knowledge!).

Your ideas so far sound great.  I am getting to be a bigger and bigger proponent of RS and YW meeting together more often.  I think YW need to think of Relief Society as an extension of Young Women, and not as a separate and totally lame program for old ladies. ;-)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Need Your Ideas

Hello Ladies,

I need you to get all creative for me.  Marilyn works in the YW program, and Julia and Kelly and Kami all have daughters in YW (or close to), so you should all have brilliant ideas for me.

The YW are meeting with the RS three times in May.  Our value is education.  Here are my ideas so far:

First meeting:

Opening exercises

Have someone (probably me) talk about the importance of an education and pass out a handout with various quotes from various church leaders about how critical it is for women to get an education.

Have a panel assembled of women with various educational/career backgrounds talk about why they studied what they studied and the pros and cons of their professional choices.  My sister did this when she was YW president and she had me sit on the panel.

I thought about closing with my dad or opening with my dad as the Dean of the college of Education at Weber and have him explain just how many women apply to his program who have met with some crises (divorced, widowed) and are trying to raise kids and go to school.  But . . . too much?  He's very funny.  I don't know--it was a thought.

Second Meeting:

No idea.  I mean, I've tossed around the idea of taking some tests that give career ideas.  I've thought about having my dad come that day and then when he was done talk about different career choices and how to apply for scholarships and how to graduate early or get college credit.  Too redundant with schools already talking about that stuff??

We also have to do a service project (guess we don't have to but it counts as their camp service project and we have tried to incorporate service each time we've met with the YW).  There is a homeless shelter in our area that is trying to set up a little school room so we thought we would find out what kind of supplies they needed and have the girls do something to raise money to get some of the items plus collect items from anyone in the ward that wanted to donate.

So maybe this night could be a bake sale or service auction--or a bake/service auction where the girls bring the items and then use the proceeds to help with the homeless shelter??  Could we do that as a ward activity on a Saturday?

Third Meeting:

Opening Exercises

Go to gym and play "The Price is Right" with a few of the YW.  Ask questions about laundry, cooking, organizing, cleaning, budgeting, menu-creation, etc.  Give prizes to the winners.

Have tables set up around the gym with one RS sister at each table (or at each end of a long table) showcasing one way that woman saves her family money by knowing how to do something or adds to the beauty/peace/enjoyment of her family by knowing how to do something.

After spending time going around to the tables, gather together again for a little 10 minute pep talk about how there are all types of education and every talent that you improve or every skill that you acquire will help you be more self-reliant, help your family be more self-reliant, and help you be more useful in the kingdom.

None of this is set in stone.  Just wondered, since you all know more than I do about this age group, what would be most useful for the girls.  ANY ideas would help me out.

(While you're thinking--we're meeting with the girls again the end of October and we've got nothing by way of ideas.  I think the value is good works.)