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october 2012

The ion at u Ed scsue i

time for a tutor? When your child needs help hitting the books {Page 20}

Kids & Voting

Early interest = lifetime commitment {Page 16}

Kindergartners—and college? {Page 36} // negotiating new parenting duties {Page 14} pros & cons of video games {Page 10} // family fun this fall! {Page 25}


october

MINNESOTA PARENT IN THIS ISSUE

features

departments 8 CHATTER

10 TWEEN SCENE Video gaming

12 GRoWS oN TREES Second-hand selling

14 FIGHT LESS, LoVE MoRE Negotiating with your spouse 36 VoICES The college sweepstakes

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44 BooK SHELF Animal books for every age

KIDS + VoTING Building a better electorate, starting with our youngest citizens By Julie Kendrick

20 TUToR TIME Does your child need help? Where do you turn? By Claire Walling

46 HoT STUFF Great gadgets 50 REAL LIFE Real mom Anna Berend

calendar 25 oUT & ABoUT

4 October 2012


from the editor

In attendance I recently read a piece in the Southwest Journal by Minneapolis Public Schools’ superintendent Bernadeia H. Johnson. In her article, she discussed the new attendance campaign for her schools, Attend to Achieve. Now clearly, we know that in order for a child to learn, a child also needs to go to school—whether it is home schooling or the traditional route. Of course, things happen, be it illness or sports or a family event, but her clear goal is that students should be in school 95 percent of the time. This is the golden number for the following results: Students who attend school at least 95 percent of the time— • Are 1.5 times more likely to be on track to graduate on time • Perform better in math and reading • Have fewer suspensions • Are less likely to fail a class, and • Are more likely to achieve their dreams and enroll in college. This is good stuff because clearly, she says, “we simply can’t teach students when they are not in school.” She also reports that the impact of consistent student attendance reaches further than just the student; it reflects upon the performance of each school and the school district itself, and correlates with safe and healthy communities, too. I agree. We all know what it’s like when an absent colleague needs to be filled in on meetings or work he or she has missed. It cuts into one’s day to play catch up. Now consider a teacher with 25 or more students, trying to realign varying numbers of absences every day and you can see what kind of difficulties there may be moving forward with any single lesson plan. So what is a 95 percent attendance rate? In the Minneapolis school district, that means missing no more than nine days of school. To me, that seems like quite a lot when you factor in the generous amount of holiday vacation time children also receive. But if you can believe this, right now, according to the attendtoachieve.org website, less than 60 percent of students in Minneapolis meet this goal! Of course, different communities will have different rates; this is just one example. Bottom line, Ms. Johnson says, is that attendance, like every student, counts. When your student does well, so does your community.

Kathleen Stoehr Editor

6 October 2012


Vol. 27, Issue 10 Co-Publishers Janis Hall jhall@mnpubs.com Terry Gahan tgahan@mnpubs.com General Manager Chris Damlo 612-436-4376 • cdamlo@mnpubs.com Editor Kathleen Stoehr kstoehr@mnpubs.com Contributing Writers/Photographers Julie Kendrick Kara McGuire Ann Pabst Laurie Puhn Joy Riggs Valerie Turgeon Claire Walling Production Manager Dana Croatt dcroatt@mnpubs.com Senior Graphic Designer Valerie Moe Graphic Designer Amanda Wadeson Sales Manager Melissa Ungerman Levy 612-436-4382 • mungermanlevy@mnpubs.com Sales Administrator Kate Manson 612-436-5085 • kmanson@mnpubs.com Circulation Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 • distribution@mnpubs.com Classified Advertising 612-825-9205 • sales@mnpubs.com Printing Brown Printing

52,500 copies of Minnesota Parent printed monthly, available at news stands statewide. Get Minnesota Parent mailed to your home for just $12 a year. Call 612-825-9205 for more information. Minnesota Parent (ISSN 0740 3437) is published monthly by Minnesota Premier Publications. POSTMASTER send address changes to: MINNESOTA PARENT, 1115 Hennepin Avenue S. Minneapolis, MN 55403. Minnesota Parent is copyright 2012 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.

October 2012 7


In brief Woodbury teen Zach Manske, 13, is one of four boys who will alternate in the role of Billy Elliot in Billy Eliot the Musical, at the Ordway, beginning on Oct. 9. He has been touring with Manske the production across the U.S., balancing performance and schoolwork; Last month we reported that Blooma was opening a new location in St. Paul on Selby Avenue (October 1 opening), this month we can report that Blooma is moving its Edina location and expanding into a new and larger space in Minneapolis at 5315 Lyndale Ave. S., in the former Boulevard Theater space; Hennepin County Library—North Regional is opening a new Early Learning

Environment in partnership with the Minnesota Children’s Museum to help

start kids on the path to learning and success. “It has been clear for a long time that we have a crisis in terms of not enough kids reading at grade level,” says Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat. “When kids can’t read, they struggle in school and with making progress in many other ways. ... The Board is committed to improving child literacy rates and we will not stop until we see marked improvement.”; Valleyfair announced a $3.5 million dollar expansion including the addition of Dinosaurs Alive!, a multi-sensory and interactive dinosaur park that will allow people to experience the sights and sounds of over 30 life-sized animated dinosaurs. The seven main scenes found along a 2,837foot long path spread over nearly five wooded acres tell a story of what the dinosaurs ate, when and where they lived, and how they protected themselves and adapted to their world.; Saint Paul Public Schools’ nutrition services director Jean Ronnei earned a national award for her approach to providing healthful lunch

8 October 2012

Volunteer Opportunity Improve your health while helping a senior citizen in Minneapolis remain independent in their home. You choose the date and time to rake. Perfect for individuals, groups, and families. Seasonal: October and November (depending upon the weather). This is a one-time fun, flexible activity on weekdays or weekends. Feel free to sign up multiple times. Supplies needed: rakes, gloves, brooms, and compostable bags. Exact location depends upon where the senior citizen resides in Minneapolis. Ongoing opportunities are also available. Please contact Jeanne the NIP Seniors Program, Volunteer Coordinator at srvolunteer@neighborhoodinvolve.org or call 612-746-8549. Website: neighborhoodinvolve.org.

options to its 39,000 students each day. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a national nonprofit organization that promotes healthy diets for disease prevention, names Saint Paul’s school district the grand prize winner in the 2012 Golden Carrot Awards. “These Healthy Hits are a win-win for students, parents, and our schools,” Ms. Ronnei says. “Our goal is to make sure our students grow into healthy adults. These changes can go a long way toward fostering healthy eating habits.”; MEAN, the original anti-bullying musical from Youth Performance Co., will offer a special educator night on Oct. 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., open to anyone who works with kids in any capacity and who wants to help fight the epidemic of bullying.

Tickets are $7 and include a pre-show reception, panel discussion, and a chance to share best practices and lessons learned regarding bullying prevention. For more information, go to youthperformanceco. org/mean and enter code ed10412 or call 612-623-9080; Local Benson teacher, Julie Carroll, Northside Elementary School is one of five grand prize winners who will receive $10,000 toward a classroom makeover for promoting child safety. The annual contest is sponsored by Got 2B Safe!, an abduction prevention program for elementary school students. Julie was selected for her inventive use of the four Got 2B Safe! rules in her classroom lesson plan and for her commitment to helping keep the children in her community safe.


Tips for your sloucher A picture can be worth a thousand words. Next time your kid doesn’t believe you when you tell them they are hunching over or slouching, get a camera. According to Dr. Steven Weiniger, an expert on posture and anti-aging, follow these steps with your child for greatest impact: Get a camera (the one on your phone is fine) and have your child stand in front of a wall or a door, facing you. When you are ready to take the picture, say these words to your child: • Stand normally. • Look straight ahead. • Relax, take a deep breath in and let it out. • Now, show me your best posture! Using these words makes your child form a mental note of their “best” posture. Kids (and adults) often experience a moment of uncertainty as they try to find exactly how their “best posture” feels…and that is part of the goal of this exercise. After you’ve taken a picture from the front, repeat the process for a back and side view picture. Print out the pictures, one to a sheet, and note how their posture looks. Making kids aware of their posture is the first step to encouraging them to maintain strong posture. If nothing else, from a kid’s point of view, stronger posture equates to looking more attractive, having more confidence, and performing better at sports.

October 2012 9


Setting ground rules

Game-changing ideas

I By Joy Riggs

’m not a video game enthusiast, to put it mildly. I would rather devour a book, take the dog on a walk, or even do laundry than spend my free time parked in front of a game system collecting gold coins or changing the virtual diapers of a Sims baby. My personal lack of interest in gaming, coupled with my concerns about the unhealthy aspects of video games— the physical inactivity, the addictive quality, the violent and misogynistic elements of some games—helped me resist for many years my kids’ pleas for a game system of their own.

As they have grown into their tween and teen years, though, I’ve had to adjust my thinking about video game play. Because it’s clearly an important social and recreational activity for my daughter and my two sons, I’m trying to take a greater interest in it— just as I learned more about Star Wars and Harry Potter when they were younger. Also, because I can’t be present every time they play a game—on our Wii or at friends’ houses—I’ve had to learn more about the games they like so I know whether they’re appropriate, and what benefits and risks they might contain. Helping my kids become responsible game players sometimes feels like a Sisyphean task. But the stakes are too high to take a hands-off approach.

What are the benefits? Today’s video and computer games have advanced light years beyond the games available when I was a teen during the age of PacMan fever. Besides boosting eye-hand coordination, the games can provide opportunities for problem solving and use of math and language skills, and

10 October 2012

they can foster interests in strategy, science, history and geography. Of course, not all games are created equal. While some have many educational benefits, others offer little more than unhelpful lessons in crude language and gender stereotyping. David Williamson Shaffer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who studies the educational benefits of video games, says in his book How Computer Games Help Children Learn that the best way for parents to find out what a game is teaching their kids is to play it with them and then talk to them afterward about why they like the game, what strategies they use, and what they think they’re learning. “Parents, teachers, and mentors who want to help children learn from games need to think carefully not just about what kinds of things players do in a game but about what justifies those actions. How do you know in the game when you have made a good decision or a bad one? What evidence is available to base your decision on, and how are you supposed to evaluate that evidence?” Shaffer writes.

Games are designed to encourage players to keep advancing to further levels, so it shouldn’t be surprising that my kids have difficulty policing themselves. ParentFurther.com, an online parenting resource from the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, advises parents to set rules for how much, when, and where their kids can play, to have consequences for breaking the rules, and to follow through with those consequences. It also recommends that parents follow the video game ratings guide and be aware of the signs of video game addiction. “Some parents have found that they need to give a 15-minute warning before they want a child to stop playing a game so that the child knows it’s time to look for a place to save. If your child claims he can’t stop after 15 minutes, you’ll know


signs of video game addiction in Kids • Spending non-school hours on the computer playing video games • Falling asleep in school • Not keeping up with assignments • Worsening grades • Lying about computer or video game use • Choosing to use the computer or play video games rather than see friends • Dropping out of social groups (such as clubs or sports) to play games • Stealing money to buy or play video games • Irritability when not playing a video game or computer game • Inability to cut back on game play FROM PARENTFURTHER.COM

that your child is pushing the boundaries,” the ParentFurther site advises.

encouraging responsible gaming The University of Minnesota Extension Office recommends that parents limit video game play to one hour a day. This may seem inadequate to tweens and teens who feel like they just get into a complicated game at the 60-minute mark. Our family has found that during a school day, our schedule is too hectic to allow for video game play, so we usually allow for longer periods of play on the weekends. Whenever my kids play, I encourage them to take breaks, to recognize when they’ve played too long, and to learn to balance their desire to play with their need to do other things. I’m hopeful that by taking a greater interest in what my kids enjoy, while also providing the structure they need to play in a healthier way, we will all benefit. Especially if I can avoid changing any of those virtual diapers.

October 2012 11


Second-hand selling Making money from your discards

N

By Kara McGuire

othing makes me happier than purging a big pile of old kids clothes and toys. Living in a small, 1920s home with three kids, storage is always a challenge. So despite my penny-pinching ways, I get a sick thrill when my son’s pants are two inches too short or my daughter decides dresses are so last year. Out with the old and in with as few new items as possible. I am obsessed with clutter control.

But what to do with the nicer items we can no longer use? After the “Want this stuff?” message on Facebook, and garage sale season winds down, there are several ways to get rid of clothes and toys in good condition. You can even make a little dough to go toward baby’s new pair of shoes. Here’s the rundown:

Consignment or second-hand retail stores If you don’t want to wait until tax refund season to see some dough for your discarded items, consider a consignment store. Kids consignment chain stores such as Once Upon a Child take many items in good or better condition—from kid’s clothes to tap shoes to toddler beds and playpens. It’s best to call ahead if you’re planning a large drop-off or are hoping to sell several large items; sometimes even the best things are turned down if inventory is too high. The stores generally only buy what’s in season, although Once Upon A Child stores will take out of season items

12 October 2012

from high demand brands such as Hanna Andersson, Gap, Columbia, and Gymboree. Don’t expect big bucks for each item. Generally speaking, you’ll earn cents on the dollar. Better brands and items with tags will net more cash. Some stores pay you right away; others pay only when your item sells. Bottom line: It’s a convenient way to rid yourself of items quickly. Items that are turned away can then go into the donation pile.

eBay or CraigsList If you have an in-demand item (think high-end strollers, bike tagalongs and other bigger ticket, brand name baby and kid gear), selling directly to other parents may be your best option. Bigger items are easier to sell on Craigslist, although Craigslist typically involves time-consuming back and forth

and schedule coordination with potential customers. Haggling for price is common. eBay can also be time-consuming. Thinking about all of the photo-taking and uploading and post office visiting that eBay involves crosses it off of my list of kiddie-crap-purging tricks. St. Paul parent Mary Kate Boylan, however, enjoys the “fussy activity” that an eBay listing requires. Her hobby of selling on eBay nets her $250 to $300 monthly. She says now is a good time to list kids items because people are starting to think about holiday gifts. Before selling, Boylan recommends being a buyer. “It makes you a better seller and you understand the point of view of your buyer.” It also helps with the research it takes to list an item and determine sale price. When you’re ready to sell, do a search for your item to see how much comparable items ultimately sold for in past listings. A quick search may reveal that the time, effort, and the financial return of selling on eBay isn’t worth it. “As much as I like to sell stuff,” Boylan said, “I really think people overlook donating for tax deductions. It’s short term reward versus long term reward.”

Big, big baby sales Semi-annual kid sales such as Munchkin Markets or Just Between Friends rent space at large venues such as the State


Fairgrounds and throw a massive garage sale of sorts. They tend to be more work than consigning items, but less work than selling items individually. Generally, sellers will earn more per item than consignment (65 to 80 percent of the original price, according to Munchkin Markets) and get the added perk of pre-sale entry. Volunteering at the sale earns additional perks. My favorite no fuss feature of these sales? Some will send a check shortly after the event ends, making for hassle-free payment. Also, if you prefer not to pick up your unsold items, the sale will donate the goods to charity and provide an itemized receipt.

donating Donating to charity is so easy, yet so ugh-inducing. You can dump off a big garbage bag of clothes, but if you aren’t tracking what you’re giving away, you could lose a significant tax deduction if you itemize. Plus, charities have been pleading with consumers to stop dropping off holey jeans and stained T-shirts (note: some recyclers take those), meaning a conscientious donator will have some sorting to do. If you decide it’s worth the time and effort to save some money at tax time, try a higher-tech way to track your donations than a heap of scrap paper and receipts. Try It’sDeductible, a free program from Turbo Tax, or the app idonatedit ($2.99 at the iTunes app store). Remember, the IRS requires a receipt that includes the name of the charity, contribution date, and description of the item given away. If possible, take pictures of higher value items. If your drop-off amounts to more than $250, additional rules must be followed. Learn more at IRS.gov. Kara McGuire is a personal finance junkie and St. Paul mom of three. Send questions and column ideas to kara@karamcguire.com.

October 2012 13


fight Less, Love more

Negotiating at home

A

By Laurie Puhn

s a lawyer, couples mediator, and self-help author, people turn to me for my expert relationship advice. They assume that because I have all the answers, I must have a perfect marriage myself. The truth is that I have a happy marriage with good days and those less-thanperfect days that require me to put my own communication advice into practice.

You see, conflict is normal and expected, especially for parents, but how we choose to respond to it can either destroy or build love. For example, there was a time some years ago, when I had a Chinese food “take-out” awakening: My husband and I are a great team, but at times (like all couples) we were no match for the demands of our infant son. Stress from a little one can wear down anyone’s patience and test any marriage. It happened after I had a tiring day of work, and my husband had his usual high-pressure day of work. The evening arrived and we fell into our typical routine. Our 11-month old son was on the verge of walking and trying to climb everything in sight. One of us, therefore, needed to pay very close attention to him to make sure he was safe. As usual, it was me who ended up being on surveillance duty. My husband was nearby, but somehow I was the one “in charge.” We had never verbally agreed to this division of power. It just happened. When I would use the bathroom or make a phone call, I had a nagging guilty feeling that I had to rush back to my duties.

14 October 2012

On this seemingly uneventful night, we ordered take-out Chinese food and my husband announced that he would go pick it up. As I was left stranded at home, again, I became angry. “Darn it, I want to get out of the house for 20 minutes to get the take-out! I want to do the errands!” But I didn’t say this to my husband


because it felt wrong. After all, he was only trying to be helpful by doing the errand. And so I slept on it.

The talk By the next morning I was prepared for a difficult conversation. I couldn’t blame my husband for the situation; I had tacitly agreed to it. And the truth is, how could he know what I wanted if I never said it? Now was the time to re-negotiate our evening parenting responsibilities. The de facto parenting split, 95 percent me, five percent him, was not acceptable. I took my own advice as a family mediator and revealed my feelings without blaming him. I told him that I wasn’t asking for him to be in charge all of the time, or even half of the time. I just needed him to spend a portion of each night as the truly responsible party, so I could have a chance to relax or pick up dinner, knowing our son was well taken care of. I’m not kidding when I tell you this: From that day forward, after our “child care negotiation,” my husband stepped up to the plate. He created fun little games with our son that they play every night. They have their own sayings and jokes. When our son needed his diaper changed during the “Daddy play period,” my husband would do it, without yelling for my help. As the days wore on, the nighttime fun turned into the bedtime routine, which my husband still does three years later. With a second child in the mix, Daddy’s participation is even more valuable. My suggestion: don’t wait to ask for what you want. Re-balancing expectations, childcare, and household chores should be an annual event, at the very least. Use my advice, and your own wisdom, to speak up with the goal of finding a solution, and you may find that your entire family is better off for years to come. Laurie Puhn is a Harvard-educated lawyer, couples mediator, and bestselling author of Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship Without Blowing Up or Giving In, who frequently appears on CNN, “Good Morning America,” and “The Early Show” to offer relationship advice. Visit her at fightlesslovemore.com.

October 2012 15


Vote young, vote forever How Kids Voting hopes to build a better electorate, starting with our youngest citizens

16 October 2012

By Julie Kendrick

Casey Byers is now a smart and savvy 12 year old, but she still remembers four years ago, when she was just a wide-eyed little kid, and she got to vote in a presidential election for the very first time. “Voting has always been a big deal in my family, and I remember always going along with my parents in the morning before school to watch them vote. That year, they told me I’d be able to cast my own ballot, and I remember thinking it was so cool that I got to choose how I wanted to vote all by myself. I had some ideas before we got there, but I waited until I read all the

names on the kids ballot before I made my decision. And then I got a sticker, just like the grownups, which I think was the best part for me back then,� says Byers, who lives in Minneapolis and is now a seventh grader at Breck. Her experience of a kids-only election was replicated in polling places nationwide. The force behind this novel idea is Kids Voting, a community-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with affiliates in Minnesota and 18 other states. After tabulating a record 1.8 million kid votes in 2008, volunteers across the country are gearing up for a bigger-than ever election season, with a goal of


breaking the two million kid-vote mark. At schools and polling places, kids will have an authentic election experience that allows them to complete a ballot with the same slate of candidates and issues as adult voters, and to have those ballots electronically tabulated and reported on Kids Voting websites. Judy Farmer, retired director of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education, is the current board president of Kids Voting Minneapolis. She says, “There’s a great deal of power for a child in casting a ballot right alongside mom or dad. It’s a simple act, but it takes the mystery out of the voting process and gives a child a sense of pride, accomplishment, and responsibility. Kids grow up. That’s why our slogan is ‘Vote Young, Vote Forever.’” Farmer, who has worked on issues of civic engagement most of her adult life, is adamant about the impact that the voting experience has for young people. “Never underestimate the power of one vote,” she says, “even if the person casting it is a little kid!”

October 2012 17


While the votes don’t count toward the 2012 election, the benefits of decision-making have a tremendous impact on children.

Family-focused holiday? The organization has its origins, surprisingly enough, in Central America. In 1988, three Arizona businessmen traveled to Costa Rica on a fishing trip. Their visit coincided with a national election, and on election day, they noticed family groups, formally dressed, making their way to polling stations for what seemed to be combination of democracy-in-action and family-focused-holiday. The men did some research and discovered that Costa Rican voter turnout averages around 90 percent. (Minnesota currently leads the United States’ turnout rate at around 55 percent, by contrast.) The men had a moment of inspiration. What if they could encourage American families to go to the polls together, talk about voting with their kids, and encourage the nation’s future voters to be as excited about the democratic process as the children in Costa Rica seemed to be? With that goal in mind, they created the nonprofit Kids Voting USA organization. So, when November 6 rolls around this year, why should you make it a point to bring your kids along? According to Rachel Willis, executive director of Kids Voting USA, “It’s all about creating habits surrounding civic engagement, and understanding the steps leading up to a vote—registering, researching issues and

18 October 2012

candidates, finding your assigned polling place, even interacting with poll workers. Children need to have you model the how and why of voting,” she says, and adds that Kids Voting participation packs an extra patriotic punch into that equation:

Ballot issues and polling places Two ballot measures have been certified for the 2012 ballot in the state of Minnesota. Both are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments (LRCA). The first is the Marriage Amendment, which would ban same-sex marriage in this state. The second is the Voter Identification Amendment, which would require people to present photo identification to vote. Both issues are complicated and you should have all pertinent facts in front of you should your child ask for your opinion on either of these amendments. If you’d like short descriptions, background, support, and arguments for both, go to tinyurl. com/92nts2c. If you are new to Minnesota or just new to your neighborhood and need information on where to vote, go to pollfinder.sos. state.mn.us. You will be asked to punch in your address and zip code. You will be linked to your polling place and can also see a list of candidates, a sample ballot for your county and city, and get a map to the polling place. —Kathleen Stoehr


Civics for small fry • Discuss the process of voting with your children. Talk about your own decisionmaking process, including what research you do to be an informed voter. Talk about why you vote, and what happens as a result of elections. • Remember, kids pick up on everything, so put aside any political rancor or cynicism, and focus instead on the positive aspects of living in a democracy. • Invite your children to accompany you, even if it creates more complications in a schedule that’s already crazy-busy. Many adults today still remember the experience of going to the polls with their parents. • If you’d like to volunteer at a local polling place to help kids have an authentic election experience, Kids Voting Minneapolis needs volunteers age 16 and older for two-hour shifts on election day afternoon and evening. Contact Judy Farmer at judylfarmer@gmail.com.

“Participating in their own voting experience can cement kids’ commitment to becoming active and engaged citizens someday,” she says. The Kids Voting concept has received support from politicians of all party affiliations. One especially strong proponent has been Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who says, “Democracy must be taught to each new generation to keep Minnesota number one in the nation for voter turnout and civic engagement. Parents must teach their children the importance of being involved in our communities and government. I strongly encourage parents to bring their children with them to their polling place on Election Day to observe first-hand the process of voting.” And where will Casey Byers be on Election Day this year? “I absolutely plan to vote,” says the middle-schooler. “And I’m bringing along my baby sister, Parker. She’s eight, and she’s really excited about getting a sticker.” •

For more information: kidsvotingminneapolis.com kidsvotingstpaul.com

October 2012 19


“teac

! e m i t r o t tu s help hitti d e e n d il h c r u o y When

20 October 2012

ng the books

g By Claire Wallin


chers

just have a daunting task,” says Maureen Laufenberg, owner of Twin Cities Tutors & Co. “You have 30-plus kids in a classroom who all need different levels of attention and have different interests and ways they learn, so to try to get all of them to be focused and interested and pay attention is virtually impossible.” That’s where tutoring comes in. With the increasing competitiveness of the classroom, it’s not just for kids who are struggling to stay afloat anymore. Some choose tutoring to help with advanced classes, develop focus and study skills, or to master standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Finding a tutoring option that fits your family’s needs—and budget—can be a challenge. Sarah Dodge, owner of Homeworks for Students, also servicing the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and beyond, started her business as a result of her own personal experience. Dodge’s daughter, who struggled with a learning disability, “loved school and wanted to do well,” but didn’t absorb material in the same way as her classmates. Her daughter was frustrated with being pulled out of her classes for extra help, and Dodge was overwhelmed with the process of hiring a qualified tutor on her own. Her daughter’s tutor “taught her how she learned best” and helped her build the foundation to be academically successful. “Often times problems can be nipped in the bud [with] a solid foundation,” Dodge says.

does my child really need a tutor? There’s a maze of tutoring options available for parents in the Twin Cities area, but how do you even begin looking—or even know whether your child needs one? “October is the busiest month for seeking out a tutor,” Dodge says. At this juncture in the school year, the first few assignments and tests are in the grade book, and it’s becoming evident if your child is struggling with the material, or his or her skills have regressed over the summer. “Don’t wait until it is crisis time,” Dodge urges parents. Your child doesn’t need to be

October 2012 21


falling behind to warrant hiring a tutor, however. “There are usually two scenarios: either you have a student who is not being truthful about their work so [parents are] seeking additional accountability, in terms of making sure the student is … getting things done, and the other scenario is that their student is a very active athlete or [involved in] other things and needs someone to help them sit down and get focused on their work,” Laufenberg says. Keep reading for a breakdown of the different tutoring options available in the Twin Cities, including their advantages and pitfalls.

National learning centers When you think of tutoring, it’s likely that names such as Sylvan Learning, Huntington Learning Center, and Kumon—just a few of the national companies with locations in Minnesota— come to mind. Although each company operates under a slightly different philosophy, there are a few basic things to expect. First, tutoring will likely be at the place of business. For parents and kids with busy schedules, this can sometimes present an additional hurdle to getting the academic boost they need—or be a great place to keep distrac-

While local and national tutoring companies take on the responsibility of performing background and reference checks on the tutors they hire, hiring a private tutor requires parents to complete this task themselves.

22 October 2012

tions from home at bay. Secondly, most national tutoring companies operate under a group tutoring philosophy. As Vanessa Johnsen, the district educational manager for Sylvan Learning Center, explains it, a three-toone student to teacher ratio is proven to help students learn the best. Each student has his or her own program, but all of them are learning from each other as well as the instructor. Meanwhile at Huntington Learning Center, “Instruction is strictly one-on-one for elementary students and exam prep, but we use a four-to-one ratio for our other programs,” regional director Lane Rossiter says. Also keep in mind that although curriculum is tailored to fit your child, they usually operate under a broader program, like reading comprehension skills, test prep, or homework help; national learning centers are typically


time to Hire? You’ve decided to hire a tutor, but where do you start? Regardless of whether you decide to go with a national chain or a local retired teacher you found on care.com, there are some important questions to ask before you write a check and allow this person to form a close relationship with your child. • A good tutor will assess your child’s skills to get a sense of where their strengths lie and what areas need work. Be wary of anyone who tries to make their method fit your child, not the other way around. • Don’t hire someone solely because of their academic credentials. For a student-tutor relationship to be successful the tutor’s personality needs to click with your child’s. • Have a potential tutor do a “test lesson” with your child. Observe how the tutor interacts. Tutoring is more effective when the student can discover answers for themselves rather than being lectured. Ask your child for their feedback as well. • Ask for references, and also ask other parents for their feedback about tutors they may have employed. • Any reputable tutoring company will perform background checks on all their employees, but you’re on your own if you decide to hire privately. The cost of a background check (generally about $20 and $50) is well worth the peace of mind it affords.

geared toward long-term skills improvement rather than short-term homework help. Monthly parent conferences—or more frequently if desired—are also part of the package, according to Johnsen. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of these national companies is that their broad base allows them to offer financing and flexible payment plans. “Any student can get ahead while [having it] be easy and affordable,” Johnsen says.

Local tutoring companies In many ways, local tutoring companies, such as Homeworks for Students and Twin Cities Tutors & Co., combine the best of what private tutors and

October 2012 23


learning centers have to offer. Background checks on potential tutors are taken care of for you, and these companies will typically send tutors to your home, so there’s no need to make a stop at a local strip mall learning center between soccer practice and oboe lessons. Because they don’t follow any given model and there can be a wide variation between them, be sure to do your homework when looking into private tutoring companies. According to Dodge, all of her tutors either have master’s degrees in education or an undergraduate degree in the subject they specialize in, but don’t be hesitant to ask about a potential tutor’s qualifications. Many of these companies have their own niche in the market—for instance, Collegiate Tutors allows clients to purchase tutoring time by the hour through PayPal, and Homeworks for Students offers parents online access to weekly progress reports from their child’s tutor.

Private tutors While local and national tutoring companies take on the responsibility of performing background and reference checks on the tutors they hire, hiring a private tutor requires parents to complete this task themselves. Care.com and tutormatch.com are both good places to start when looking for a private tutor, but word-of-mouth from friends and neighbors or asking your child’s teacher for suggestions can be helpful too. Despite the extra legwork required, this option has a few advantages. You’ll have access to a larger pool of potential candidates and can make the learning plan suit your terms. Hiring your child’s teacher for after-hours help is a viable option as well, but only if they already have a good relationship and doing so wouldn’t inhibit their interactions in the classroom. Private tutoring isn’t a bad idea for those students who are motivated and know what they want to gain from tutoring, or have worked with other learning centers or tutors and knows what works—or doesn’t work—for them. •

24 October 2012


Out About World Premiere!

Buccaneers ÎÎWhen her parents threaten to send her to live with her horrible relatives, Enid Arabella wishes she could run away and sail the seven seas. When she is captured by the pirate rapscallion Johnny Johné, Enid must summon her wit and gumption to save herself and the rest of the children of Johné’s crew. This rousing world premiere pirate musical is an inspiring tale of empowerment and leadership—with plenty of swashbuckling. When: Through the 21st Where: Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis Cost: Depends on performance and seat selected Info: childrenstheater.org or 612-874-0400

Minnesota Parent Education Fair ÎÎDoor prizes, goodie bags, and best of all—plenty of educators ready to answer your questions about the variety of school options for your child. Brought to you by the good folks at Minnesota Parent magazine! When: October 6, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: mnparent.com/edfair

October 2012 25


Family Day @ the MIA: Up, up, and away!

14

Beauty & the Beast opens @ orpheum theatre

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8 7 ———————— ———————— Columbus Day ———————— national ———————— children’s day ———————— ————————

1 2 1st Peanuts ———————— comic strip ———————— published in 1950 ———————— ———————— ———————— ————————

museum!

17 18 Black Poetry Day ———————— ———————— ———————— Ball-o-rama ———————— opens at mn children’s ————————

mary Casanova book signing @ red Balloon

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Child Health Day

international Walk to school day

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Sat

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Family night @ Midtown Global Market

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World Egg Day

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pumpkin carving contest in anoka + parade & bonfire

20

Stillwater Harvest Fest

twin cities Birth & Baby expo @ midtown global mkt

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5 6 ———————— ———————— ———————— ———————— ———————— minnesota parent fair ———————— @education como park Zoo

Fri

si it fold n And Hallowee s t a o cti n gre nstru .) I ( ! k ed mas rovid not p

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs

October

out About out l l u p ave! s d an nto a


Last chance for Sever’s Corn Maze! 10–6

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Last chance to see Buccaneers & Duck for President @ area theaters

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Pablo Picasso born on this day in 1881

25 Southwest Family Halloween Party 7–9 pm

26 Grand Avenue Boo Bash 10–2

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“I don’t understand it. I went trick-ortreating and all I got was a bag full of rocks.” —Charlie Brown

Happy Halloween!

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Arty Pants, your Tuesday Playdate @ WAC

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Out About

Beauty and the Beast

Ongoing Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! ÎÎThis exhibit boosts children’s natural curiosity as they build early science, math and engineering skills through hands-on play. Climb into the imaginative world of Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat and push, pull, and problem solve your way through pint-sized math and science adventures. When: Through the 7th Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul Cost: $9.50 ages 1 to 101 Info: mcm.org or 651-225-6000

Sever’s Corn Maze & Fall Festival ÎÎSever’s farm-themed maze is tons of fun, but there’s more, including pumpkin blasters (send pumpkins flying further than ever before), barnyard tours, live music, canary tent, corn pool, food, refreshments, and more. When: Through the 28th, Friday, Saturday,

28 October 2012

and Sunday (hours vary, see info) Where: Sever’s, Shakopee Cost: $13 for ages four and above Info: 952-974-5000 or severscornmaze.com

Cost: $5 per person; under 2, free Info: emmakrumbees.com/scarecrowfestival/ or 952-873-3654

Beauty and the Beast ÎÎThe all-new production is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes and dazzling production numbers including Be Our Guest and the beloved title song Beauty and the Beast. Experience the return of romance and enchantment. When: 16th to 21st Where: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $44 to $99 depending upon seat Info: hennepintheatretrust.org or 612-339-7007

Emma Krumbee’s Scarecrow Festival 100 scarecrows on display, wagon rides, haystack jump, petting zoo, live music, and more. When: Through October 28 Where: Emma Krumbee’s, Belle Plaine

Duck for President ÎÎThis barnyard campaign romp makes a stop at Stages Theatre Company this fall, just as the real-life presidential election is in full swing, when the irresistibly funny duck decides to run for President. Full of recounts and sticky ballots, this hilarious animal twist on an American tradition will delight all ages. When: Through the 21st Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins Cost: Depends on performance and seat selected Info: stagestheatre.org or 952-979-1211


Out About

Pumpkin Palooza

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat ÎÎFrom the moment his tall, red-andwhite-striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that the Cat in the Hat is the most mischievous cat they have ever met. Originally produced at the National Theatre of Great Britain, CTC presents the American premiere of this stylish production. All of your favorite moments from the classic book by Dr. Seuss come to life on stage. When: Through December 2 Where: Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis Cost: Depends on performance and seat selected Info: childrenstheater.org or 612-874-0400

HOBT Puppet Show ÎÎEvery Saturday, different artists perform engaging puppet shows. Families can also attend hands-on Make-n-Take puppet workshops based on that day’s theme. When: Shows at 10:00 a.m. and noon; Make-n-take at 11:00 a.m. Where: Heart of the Beast theatre, Minneapolis Cost: Suggested donation for show between $2 and $4; Make-n-take admission $5/child, $3 adult Info: hobt.org or 612-721-2535

Pumpkin Palooza ÎÎThis dazzling display of cucurbits (aka, pumpkins, gourds and squash) reflects the endless variety fall cultivars harvested. Large and small, orange, blue or white, there’s a pumpkin for everyone! Arboretum gardeners have cultivated over 100 varieties—common and exotic—and hundreds will be displayed. When: Through November 4 Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Oswald Visitor Center, Chanhassen Cost: Free with gate admission Info: arboretum.umn.edu/ or 952-443-1400

October Weekend Family Fun ÎÎSink your hands inside a pumpkin, squash or gourd and dissect one. Save seeds to plant your own pumpkin patch. Sample pumpkin soup and more. When: Noon to 4:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Marion Andrus Learning Center, Chanhassen Cost: Free with gate admission Info: arboretum.umn.edu/ or 952-443-1400

October 2012 29


out About Preschool Playdate

Ball-o-rama

Î Each Tuesday, the Science Museum offers preschool appropriate activities that will keep little hands busy and little minds buzzing. Live performances and science demonstrations, and various discounts.

Î Explore velocity, gravity, friction, and more by sending balls on a looping, rolling race to the finish. Discover why people don’t fall out of a rollercoaster when riding upside down. Ball-o-rama’s interactive components are modeled after centuriesold experiments created by Newton and Galileo. A special “Tot Spot” area lets the Museum’s smallest visitors explore objects in motion at their own pace.

When: 10:00 a.m. to noon Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cost: Under five, FREE; $13 for adults Info: smm.org/playdates or 651-221-9444

the Amazing Castle Î Transport to a magical place and time—inside a castle’s stone walls is a peaceful, happy community where every citizen has a job to do. Don costumes and engage in role-play; try royal workshops; wake up a sleeping dragon.

When: October 18 to January 6, 2013 Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul Cost: $9.50 ages 1 to 101 Info: mcm.org or 651-225-6000

When: Through the 14th Where: Youth Performance Co., Minneapolis Cost: $10 to $12; groups are discounted Info: youthperformanceco.org or 612-623-9080

30 October 2012

free 1st Saturdays at the Walker Art Center: Glorious movement Î Come along on a tour that will get everyone moving in the galleries. Step into the Art Lab to investigate various ways that art can be dynamic.

Î Enjoy a free movie. First-come, firstserved to theater capacity. When: 10:00 a.m. Where: Theatres at Mall of America, Bloomington Cost: FREE Info: theatresmoa.com

Î Wee Wednesdays have plenty to see and do for toddlers and their families. Free, educational programming geared toward children five and under

Î This original bullying prevention musical follows three teens—one being bullied for her size, one for her religion and one for his sexual orientation. The script and songs are based on interviews from local Minnesota teens who were victims of bullies.

Î See Parent Picks, page 25.

free family flicks: monsters vs. Aliens

Wee Wednesdays

mean

minnesota Parent education fair

When: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (family activities until 3:00) Where: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: walkerart.org or 612-375-7600

When: October 6 to January 27, 2013 Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul Cost: $9.50 ages 1 to 101 Info: mcm.org or 651-225-6000

When: Every Wednesday beginning at 10:30 a.m. Where: Midtown Global Market, Mpls. Cost: FREE Info: midtownglobalmarket.org or 612-872-4041

6 SAturdAy

2 tueSdAy Under Wildwood book signing Î Colin Meloy, the lead singer of the Billboard #1 indie band, The Decemberists and acclaimed illustrator Caron Ellis will be coming to Minneapolis on tour for Under Wildwood, the second book in their New York Times bestselling series, The Wildwood Chronicles. When: 7:00 p.m. Where: Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Cost: FREE; books are $17.99 list price Info: tinyurl.com/crh7pgy or 651-724-6001

twin Cities marathon Î Runs, walks, and activities for the whole family—even a diaper dash and toddler trot! When: Various start times throughout the morning Where: State Capitol Grounds, St. Paul Cost: From $11 to $41, depending upon event Info: tcmevents.org

fallCon Comic Book Party Î 70,000 feet of comic book action, super huge marketplace, guest comic book creators, grab bags, and more. When: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Where: Minnesota State fairgrounds, Education Building, St. Paul Cost: Age 9 and under FREE; adults $8 Info: midwestcomicbook.com


Worldwide day of Play Î Clomp around wearing monster feet or stilts during a prehistoric DinoStomp; don a cowboy hat and do-si-do with Betsy the Cow and stick ponies during a hoedown; tune into musical fun with hula hoops, instruments and large and small balls. When: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul Cost: $9.50 ages 1 to 101 Info: mcm.org or 651-225-6000

9 tueSdAy Book Signing: mary Casanova Î A reading and book signing with YA author Mary Casanova for her new book, Frozen. When: 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Where: The Bookcase of Wayzata Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/8hc3tmu

Arty Pants Î Arty Pants: Your Tuesday Playdate, features activities for adults and youngsters ages three to five. Art projects, films, gallery activities, and story time. When: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Where: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Cost: FREE with gallery admission; Walker members and kids ages 12 and under are always free. Info: walkerart.org or 612-375-7600

11 thurSdAy Book Signing: mary Casanova Î A reading and book signing with YA author Mary Casanova for her new book, Frozen. When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Where: Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/8snxkes

October 2012 31


Out About 13 Saturday Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo ÎÎThe Expo features local businesses and organizations that support healthy birth and parenting from diverse perspectives, such as birth professionals, parenting resources, natural products, wellness services, and support groups. When: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Where: Midtown Global Market, Mpls. Cost: FREE Info: twincitiesbirthandbaby.com

Twin Cities Book Festival ÎÎReadings from world-renowned authors, panel discussions, children’s events and pavilion with storytelling, crafts, activities, exhibitors, and activities for all ages. When: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Where: State Fairgrounds, Progress Center Building Cost: Free, also free parking Info: raintaxi.com/bookfest

Stillwater Harvest Fest ÎÎGiant pumpkin weigh-off, harvest fest market and kids activities, live music, costume parade, pie eating contest, tractor pull, street dance, and more. When: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Where: North Lowell Park, Stillwater Cost: Many events FREE Info: harvestfeststillwater.com

Free Family Flicks: Zathura ÎÎEnjoy a free movie. First-come, first-served to theater capacity. When: 10:00 a.m. Where: Theatres at Mall of America, Bloomington Cost: FREE Info: theatresmoa.com

Library Love Fun Run or Stroll ÎÎWalk, run, or stroll Minnehaha Avenue

32 October 2012

free of traffic from the Hamline Midway Library to Lexington and back, and support the local library. Library Love fest and book sale afterward. When: Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. Where: Hamline Midway Library, St. Paul Cost: $15 and $25 to register day of event Info: librarylove3K.wordpress.com or 651-771-8421

Diabetes EXPO ÎÎShowcasing the latest products and services for people with diabetes. Cooking demos, youth zone activities, health screenings. When: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Where: Minneapolis Convention Center Cost: FREE Info: diabetes.org/expominneapolis or 1-888-342-2383

14 Sunday Family Day at the MIA: Skyward ÎÎKick back and relax as you gaze at the night sky inside the ExploraDome from the Bell Museum of Natural History. Pose as a pilot or an astronaut and snap a photo at the MIA photo booth. Create a kite, or soak in some rays with an artful sun catcher. When: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Where: Minneapolis Institute of Arts Cost: FREE Info: 612-870-3000 or artsmia.org

Stillwater Harvest Fest ÎÎSee description, Saturday, October 13 When: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

20 Saturday Pumpkin Carving Contest ÎÎOpen to the first 100 children, age 12 and under. When: 3:00 p.m., judging at 4:15 Where: Akin Riverside Park, Anoka Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/8sndnwq


Light up the night Parade and Bonfire Î Start on Main Street in Anoka to watch the parade, then gather for free family fun afterward. When: Parade: 7:00 p.m.; bonfire: 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Where: Main Street, then 2nd Avenue, just north of City Hall, Anoka Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/8sndnwq

Childish films @ the Library Î A free series of children’s cinema and arts. This month: Moon Lit ‘Toons. When: 10:30 a.m. Where: Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis Central Cost: FREE Info: supporthclib.org or 612-543-8107

free family flicks: harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Î Enjoy a free movie. First-come, first-served to theater capacity. When: 10:00 a.m. Where: Theatres at Mall of America, Bloomington Cost: FREE Info: theatresmoa.com

21 SundAy disney’s Phineas and ferb Î The beloved characters from Disney Channel’s animated series embark on a bold escape from the television screen to a live action adventure—right in your hometown! When: 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul Cost: $18 to $56 depending upon seat Info: phineasandferblive.com or tocketmaster.com

October 2012 33


Out About

Ar-BOO-retum Halloween Event

Free 3rd Sundays at the Minnesota Children’s Museum ÎÎVisitors can roam the Museum free of charge every third Sunday of each month. When: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: mcm.org or 651-225-6000

23 Tuesday Arty Pants ÎÎArty Pants: Your Tuesday Playdate, features activities for adults and youngsters ages three to five. Art projects, films, gallery activities, and story time. When: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Where: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Cost: FREE with gallery admission; Walker members and kids ages 12 and under are always free. Info: walkerart.org or 612-375-7600

26 Friday Preschool Costume Contest ÎÎTreats, entertainment, and contest for children. Program is about 1.25 hours. When: 9:30 a.m. Where: Lyric Arts Main Street Stage, Anoka

34 October 2012

Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/8sndnwq

Southwest Family Halloween Party ÎÎCarnival games, a raffle for door prizes, Moonwalk, magic and puppet shows, treats, prizes, and lots of fun things for all! The puppet and magic shows are free and the carnival games are a quarter. You are welcome regardless of where you live! When: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Where: Southwest High School East Gym, Minneapolis Cost: $2 per person Info: fultonneighborhood.org or 612-922-3106

27 Saturday Grand Day Parade ÎÎThe largest and longest running parade in Minnesota in the Halloween Capital of the World! When: 1:00 p.m. Where: Main Street, Anoka Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/8sndnwq

Ghouls & Goblins in the Garden ÎÎA spook-friendly Halloween adventure for the whole family. Dress in a fun costume! Walk the Trick or Treat Trail through the wildflower garden, enjoy facepainting, concessions, pumpkin sales.


When: Noon to 4:00 p.m. Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassen Cost: Gate fee plus $10 for 13 and older; $3 ages 3 to 12 Info: arboretum.umn.edu/ or 952-443-1400

Grand Ave. Boo Bash ÎÎStroll up and down Grand Avenue and enjoy petting zoo, costume contest, Dracula’s blood drive, free trolley rides, word scavenger hunt, and more. When: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Where: 30 blocks of Grand Avenue, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: grandave.com

28 Sunday Ghouls & Goblins in the Garden ÎÎSee description, Saturday, October 27 When: Noon to 4:00 p.m.

31 Wednesday Trick or Treat at the MOA ÎÎThe world’s largest indoor Trick or Treat with 150 stores dishing out treats for kids. When: 5:30 p.m. Where: Mall of America, Bloomington Cost: FREE Info: mallofamerica.com

Ar-BOO-retum Halloween Event ÎÎDress up the kids and “trick or treat” for apples in the gift store and cookies in the restaurant. Storytime for the youngsters, and spooky tunes. When: All day Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Oswald Visitor Center, Chanhassen Cost: FREE admission for those in costume Info: arboretum.umn.edu/ or 952-443-1400

October 2012 35


Voices

The college sweepstakes By Anne Pabst

S

ome years ago at a college counseling conference, I was inspired by a speaker to return to my pre-k through 12th grade independent school and calm the parents about college. Not just the junior and senior parents, not just the middle school parents, but also the parents of even the youngest students. “If you think Montessori parents are not thinking about college, you are wrong. They are frothing at the mouth about college,” said this seasoned (and blunt) college counselor. She went on, encouraging us to take back the narrative about college from the media and the educational industrial complex, from the influence of the annual US News college rankings, from test prep, marketing and independent counseling services that make millions each year benefiting from worried parents and children. These are families concerned about getting their children into the “right” or a prestigious college or university. I returned to school and set out to try what the speaker suggested. I was excited. Why excited? Because maybe I could help parents like the prospective kindergarten father who asked, “How many of your students get into their first choice college?” or the mother who begged the kindergarten teacher to rank the pupils. Each year I have more sophomore parents wondering what they should be doing about college for their student because all the other parents seem to be planning and doing. And each year as I meet with parents of juniors, some come

36 October 2012

in and announce in some fashion, subtle or otherwise, that they expect their daughter to go to a “good” school; these are often the same parents who declare that they would never pressure their child, that Susie is just this driven and gifted and talented. As David Brooks suggests in his book, Bobos in Paradise, parents are worried that the right school label will be essential for their child—and their family—to maintain social status in our American meritocracy, where achieving status seems increasingly a function of degrees earned at certain brand name schools.

Balanced childhoods Of more concern to me than the parents, however, is what I see in my students. Each year more anxious and exhausted students go into the college process feeling that they must be a finished, polished product, a commodity. In fact, they appear not just tired, but burned out

from years on a treadmill of delayed gratification; they have sacrificed sweet youth by means of intense sports, arts, service and/or other activities that take up their precious free time—all this on top of very rigorous academics. How do they manage? Mostly by being extremely disciplined and sleep deprived. Also, this happens at just the developmental point where a teen should be working on the interior self—not the exterior—and certainly should not be judged by scores and accomplishments. So, what did I want for parents gathered at our lower and middle school parents’ association meeting with me this past fall? I adamantly encouraged them not to drink the water of college frenzy. Rather, I spoke with them about looking for a healthier childhood instead of a college name, looking for ways to let their children be children, even let them make mistakes and fail, so as to learn resiliency. Studies show resiliency is more important for successful development than intelligence: resilient children, those expected to fend for themselves without too much parental grooming, thrive. (Editor’s note: for more on this topic, see the September issue of Minnesota Parent, Tween Scene column.) Children of immigrants, for example, who have had to learn a second language and navigate the system with no help from parents, can be stronger performers than students over-managed by well-meaning parents. I wanted parents to see that the college experience will be best at a well-matched school, regardless of label, a school that suits a student, and helps her flourish and learn. I also noted that my most successful students share some common characteristics. They usually are independent souls. They have real time with family and parents, and regular family dinners. They are treated like adults by their parents. They have lived in a home where reading happens, is shared, enjoyed, expected, and even required in the younger years. They come from homes with quiet time, something tough to protect in our busy society. These students have spent what I call Face


WHat you can do Here are some tips from Michelle Mechtel, director of Lower School at Visitation: Remember that play is work. Playing allows young children to “try on” the adult world and test new ideas and skills. It’s their job, and they need plenty of time to master it. Get artsy (or sciencey or whatever). Creative thinking and flexibility will be important to your child’s longterm success, so give him or her lots of things to draw, dig, build, and experiment with. Get messy. Let them dig that hole in the backyard. Remember, you’re growing children right now; grass can wait. Run them hard. Strong minds need strong bodies to house them, so make sure your child has enough time and space to burn off energy. Let them rest. Everyone needs down time, even little ones. Give them some time without planned activities so they can relax and recharge. Let them choose. A child who wants to play soccer or take piano lessons will probably do better than a child who doesn’t want to. Introduce your child to possible activities and then try to follow where they lead.

Book time: no, not that Facebook, quite the contrary—this is Face time with parents, time spent really present with each other, sharing and discussing, developing verbal skills and relationships; and Book time, that is, reading time, together and alone. They know how to be with others and how to cultivate their own life of the mind. Did the speaker’s suggestion work? I am not sure. But it was good to begin the discussion with these good people, so eager to do right by their children. Anne Pabst is director of College Counseling and chair of the Student Support Services Department at Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Heights. She can be reached through visitation.net.

October 2012 37


Resource gu advertiser listings

Charter

Cyber Village Academy Cyber Village Academy serves students in grades 3-12 in a blended on-campus and online school flexible, individualized approach to education. CVA is designated a high achieving “Reward” school by the MN Department of Education. 768 Hamline Ave S St. Paul 651-523-7170 cybervillageacademy.org

Montessori Lake Country School At Lake Country School, we believe that children learn by doing and are lovers of purposeful work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with profound joy. LCS attends to the social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of the child. 3755 Pleasant Ave S Minneapolis 612-827-3707 lakecountryschool.org Step By Step Montessori Schools Step By Step Montessori Schools serve children six weeks through eight years of age. The philosophy of Step By Step is to help each child develop a positive self-image within this carefully planned environment. The child develops skills for a lifetime. Locations in Brooklyn Park, Chaska, Corcoran, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Southdale, St. Anthony Village, & Wayzata 763-557-6777 stepbystepmontessori.com

Other Delta Dental of Minnesota Delta Dental is an independent, nonprofit health services company. Our mission is to serve Minnesotans’ oral health needs, and since 1969, we’ve accomplished this by providing access across the state to oral health-care through affordable dental plans, oral health education, and community support for underserved Minnesotans.

38 October 2012

500 Washington Ave S, Ste 2060 Minneapolis 651-406-5900 deltadentalmn.org Minnesota Children’s Museum Everyday Adventures Build Lifelong Learning. At Minnesota Children’s Museum, hands-on play builds lifelong learning. Each of our seven galleries is uniquely designed with a child’s busy brain in mind. Every visit is packed with experiences guaranteed to nurture problem solving, fuel fun, and cater to the curious at heart. 10 W Seventh St Downtown St. Paul 651-225-6000 mcm.org Minnesota College Savings Plan The Minnesota College Savings Plan is a flexible tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan designed to help families save for a loved one’s future college education. The Plan is administered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. 877-338-4646 mn529today.com


uide University of Minnesota Research Study on Family Food Preferences Seeking parents with children between six and nine years old. Neither can wear glasses, contacts OK. Compensation: $30 gift certificate, six grocery items and a toy. All for one hour of your time. Free Parking. For more information call or email. 612-625-1959 foodstudy@umn.edu

Preschool Dodge Nature Preschool Situated on a 110-acre area of our Environmental Educational Preserve, the Dodge Nature Preschool brings the natural world into the lives of young children. Experiences at Dodge include visiting animals at our farm, discovery hikes through woods and prairies, apple picking, care of children’s gardens, tapping sugar maples, visits to our reptile lab and raptor house, and more. 1715 Charlton St W St. Paul 651-455-4555 dodgenaturecenter.org Minnesota Child Care Resource & Referral Network The Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network helps families find and learn about child care. Quality Care and Education for Every Child. Statewide Locations 888-291-9811 mnchildcare.org

Private Academy of Holy Angels The Academy of Holy Angels is a Catholic, co-educational, college-preparatory high school. Our mission is to educate students, so that each may achieve full potential to excel intellectually, live spiritually, lead responsibly, act justly, and serve selflessly. 6600 Nicollet Ave S Richfield 612-798-2600 academyofholyangels.org

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resource gu ADVERTISER LISTINGS

Breck School Tradition and innovation come together at Breck, an Episcopal, coeducational, college-preparatory day school enrolling students of diverse backgrounds in grades preschool-12. Academics, arts, athletics, and service thrive on our beautiful campus a few minutes west of downtown Minneapolis. Financial aid is available. 123 Ottawa Ave N Minneapolis 763-381-8200 breckschool.org

City of Lakes Waldorf School We are a Waldorf School that serves 250 children in pre-K through grade eight. Waldorf’s rich and varied curriculum includes rigorous academic work as well as rich artistic experiences, all of which are appropriate to the age of the child. This fully integrated approach to education engages the child’s head, heart, and hands. 2344 Nicollet Ave S Minneapolis 612-767-1502 clws.org

Calvin Christian Schools CCS’s comprehensive program provides rich learning experiences that meaningfully integrate a biblical world view. Over the past 50 years, CCS has built a solid reputation for delivering an outstanding, Christ-centered education. Today Calvin Christian’s three campuses serve nearly 500 students representing 100 churches and 45 metro communities. K-8: 4015 Inglewood Ave S Edina 8966 Pierce St NE Blaine High School: 755 73rd Ave NE Fridley 952-927-5304 calvinchristian.org

French Academy of Minnesota, The The French Academy, a total Frenchimmersion private school serving preschool through grade five, offers a curriculum based on the French national standards. Our community of nativespeaking teachers and multi-cultural parents works to empower each child to become a responsible and contributing world citizen. Learn more here. 9400 Cedar Lake Rd St. Louis Park 952-944-1930 thefrenchacademy.org International School of Minnesota, The ISM is a private, non-sectarian, college prep school for preschool, age three, through grade 12. In addition to a rigorous curriculum, there are opportunities for all students to participate in music, sports, art, drama, and Student Life. ISM is a world-class education in your backyard committed to preparing students for college and for life. 6385 Beach Rd Eden Prairie 952-918-1840 internationalschoolmn.com St. Bartholomew Catholic School St. Bartholomew has provided outstanding Catholic education for 50+ years. We offer a strong core curriculum including fine arts, foreign language, and servicelearning. Small classes and a focus on respect and self-discipline help our students achieve educational success and spiritual growth. Pre-K-6. Call for a tour. 630 E Wayzata Blvd Wayzata 952-473-6189 st-barts.org/school

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uide St. John the Baptist Catholic School St. John’s (pre-K-8) offers academic excellence in a vibrant, respectful, faithfilled community. Religious studies; service projects; high test scores; recognized science program; business units; Spanish; fine arts; before and after school care. We provide a challenging, solid, faith-filled foundation for life. Visit us: facebook.com/ StJohnsNewBrighton. 845 2nd Ave NW New Brighton 651-633-1522 x1113 stjohnnyb.org Visitation School Visitation School provides an excellent, challenging academic program within a Catholic environment, as well as childcare and a Montessori preschool. Visitation is coed through grade six and all-girls in grades 7-12. To learn more, go to visitation.net. 651-683-1700 visitation.net

Public Minneapolis Public Schools Minneapolis Public Schools promises an inspirational educational experience in a safe, welcoming environment for all diverse learners to acquire the tools and skills necessary to confidently engage in the global community. We offer a wide variety of academic programming from pre-K-12. Below is a list of all of our schools. American Indian OIC Andersen United Anishinabe Academy Anthony Middle Anwatin Middle Armatage Montessori Bancroft Barton Open Bethune Community Broadway ALC at Longfellow Bryn Mawr Community Burroughs Community Cityview Middle Cyber Village Academy Dowling Urban Environmental Early Childhood Education Edison High Emerson Spanish Dual Immersion FAIR Crystal

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Resource guide advertiser listings

FAIR Downtown Field Community Folwell School, Performing Arts Floyd B. Olson Middle Friendship Academy of Fine Arts Green Central Park Community Hale Community Hall International Harrison Education Center Henry High Heritage Academy of Science & Technology Hiawatha Community Hmong International Academy Hospital Agencies Jefferson Community Jenny Lind Elementary Kenny Community Kenwood Community Lake Harriet Community Lower Lake Harriet Community Upper Lake Nokomis Community Keewaydin Campus Lake Nokomis Community Wenonah Campus Loring Community

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Loring Nicollet Alternative School Lucy Craft Laney at Cleveland Park Lyndale Elementary Marcy Open Menlo Park Academy High School MERC High School MERC Middle School Metropolitan Learning Alliance Minneapolis College Prep Minnesota School of Science MPS Metro SJ NaWayEe Center School Nellie Stone Johnson Community North Academy of Arts & Communication North Senior Academy Northeast Middle Northrop Community Phoenix Academy Pierre Bottineau French Immersion Pillsbury Community Plymouth Youth Center Arts & Technology High School Pratt Community Ramsey Middle School River Bend Educational Center Ronald McDonald House

Roosevelt High Sanford Middle Seward Montessori Sheridan Arts Magnet South High Southwest High Stadium View Sullivan Community Tatanka Academy Transition Plus Urban League Academy VOA Opportunity High School VOA Phoenix SALT Waite Park Community Washburn High Wellstone International High School Whittier International Windom Spanish Dual Immersion School District Headquarters Minneapolis Public Schools The Davis Center 1250 W Broadway Ave Minneapolis 612-668-0000 mpls.k12.mn.us


Minnesota Waldorf School Supported by almost 100 years of successful Waldorf pedagogy, MWS is an extraordinary find. A strong core of academics is skillfully woven with music, movement, world language, and art, inspiring children to become lifelong learners: curious, motivated, and conscientious. 70 E County Rd B St. Paul 651-487-6700 mnwaldorf.org

Minnetonka Public Schools Minnetonka Public Schools is among the state’s highest performing public school districts, recognized nationally for use of technology as an accelerator of learning in every classroom. Minnetonka Kindergarten options include full day, half day, traditional K, Spanish Immersion, or Chinese Immersion. 5621 County Rd 101 Minnetonka 952-401-5000 minnetonka.k12.mn.us

Specialty Art Academy, The City Pages Winner: Best of the Twin Cities! Year-round traditional drawing and painting classes and camps for students ages 5-18. Exceptional student/teacher ratio. Homeschool Program. A Renaissance Program for adults also offered. See samples of student artwork; visit our

website. Call for a brochure. Classes held at: Holy Spirit Elementary 515 S Albert St St. Paul 651-699-1573 theartacademy.net LearningRx LearningRx is a brain training center that works with individuals struggling with reading, reading comprehension, attention, math, organizational skills, test taking, and more. Unlike tutoring, LearningRx gets to the root cause of learning struggles by strengthening underlying cognitive skills. Chanhassen: 952-949-6900 Eagan: 651-686-1066 Maple Grove: 763-746-5850 Savage: 952-226-1115 Vadnais Heights: 651-287-1441 Woodbury: 651-262-5900 learningrx.com

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Woof, meow, chirp, moo! That’s animal talk for: we hope you enjoy these books all about animals By Valerie Turgeon

Going to the Zoo with Lily and milo By Pauline Oud Clavis Publishing, $12.95

my dog, my Cat By Ashlee Fletcher Tanglewood, $13.95

— Are you a dog person, or a cat person? Some people are both! Your child may or may not have a favorite of the two, but this book will help them see the differences between the two furry pets.

— When an actual trip to the zoo with your kids isn’t possible, Lily and Milo can take your kids to visit some of the animals. While the rhyming scheme of the book makes for a fun read, your kids will also learn animal names, where they live, and other basic facts about animals that are in the zoo.

Animal tales: ruby’s misadventure By Helen Kelly Random House Australia, $7.99

— Cassie and her friend Sarah are looking after Cassie’s cat, Ruby, but things don’t go as planned when they find out she’s sick. The two friends try to find the cause of Ruby’s illness before it’s too late. Buying this book benefits the RSPCA, and information on the back educates kids on how to keep animals safe.

the Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake By Lisa Sellman, Illustrated by Chris Kraetz Balboa Press, $10.95

— The values and ways of life of the Native American culture are vanishing from our current lifestyles. They are an oral culture, so this book introduces kids to traditional Ojibwe culture through storytelling. Ojibwe people of the Gunflint Lake area (in northeastern Minnesota) tell a story of the relationship between Wolf and Human. Discussion questions included will help your child think about their own culture and values.

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the Last tiger By Rebecca Elliott Lion Children’s Books, $14.99

— Luka was alone in an abandoned world, except for one thing: the last tiger. Together, they became friends and learned that even in the darkest times, a friend can brighten your day.

Amazing Cows By Sandra Boynton Workman Publishing Company, Inc., $10.95

— “Question: How do cows pay for things? Answer: With moolah.” This is one example of the many jokes included in this colorful and humorous book that makes you see cows like you never have before. There are songs, activities, a comic strip, and a historical parody—all starring cows. There’s no udder book like it!

night of the White deer By Jack Bushnell, Illustrated by Miguel Co Tanglewood, $16.95

— The story of the white deer was a mystery to the young boy and for a time, all she seemed to be was a story. But one night the white deer appeared on his farm and took him into the skies on a flight through the lights of the aurora. This modern folk tale will inspire young readers to see the magic that comes from the twinkles of the nighttime sky.

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Neato!

t a e r G ! s t e g Gad

Our tester says his cat wasn’t quite sure what to think about Neato XV-21, as this compact little vacuum made its way across hardwood floors, up onto carpet, and under sofas. However, with a bristled brush, powerful suction power, and a room positioning system that allowed it to carefully avoid steps and furniture while sucking up a day’s worth of debris, our tester welcomed his new “pet” into his home happily. Push a button to wake the vacuum up, push it one more time to get it going, and then clean its filter when it is done. Neato returns to its charging station all on its own. Granted, its filter can only hold about a cup—but program Neato for daily cleanings and this won’t be an issue. neatorobotics.com; about $430

Great gadgets make your life so much easier! By Kathleen Stoehr

It takes Vue, baby

Sun powered

Snuza Trio

A super simple set up, no power cords and wire-free cameras allow easy viewing of those things that mean the most to you. Small, portable camera lets you to tote it easily around the house. Move it from where your kids are playing in the basement, to their bedrooms for naptime. Pick up the feed on any computer monitor or smart phone. Go to work, and leave it trained on the dog, if you like. Let grandparents in on the action, too!

Give your iPhone 4/4s a quick solar powered charge with its built in solar panel that gathers up free sunshine and turns it into power. Essentially providing a second source of battery back up, you can always hope that when a phone battery runs low, your kid will snap their phone into the case (AC adapter also available for those rainy days) and give you a call when soccer practice is over.

Video and audio functions, cordless and lightweight, this high tech baby monitor includes one thing the others don’t: a movement monitor to alert of possible SIDS. Clip the small monitor to baby’s diaper, near the stomach. Ultra sensitive motion detector monitors and recognizes baby’s movement constantly. Also comes with automatic night vision activation on the camera.

shopetoncorp.com/detail/ ETO+NSP300B; about $60

snuza.info; about $300

vuezone.com; about $199

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“My slogan is ‘Phone down, eyes up.’ If you want safe habits to be ingrained in kids, it needs to start with their parents.”

Q&A Where do you draw inspiration for your blogs?

A lot of my writing concerns issues that have touched my family’s lives. My intention isn’t to scare parents, but I want them to be aware of the legal repercussions of their actions. For instance, last summer my kids and I were at a backyard party with a rented bouncy house. At one point the power went out, causing the bouncy house to deflate. Everyone was OK, but it scared the kids and got me thinking about the legal issues behind this. When I researched it I found that bouncy house accidents happen too often to be a freak occurrence. I’m not advocating raising your kids in a bubble, just that parents be aware and think about what they’re doing. What’s your “signature” issue that you blog about?

real mom

Anna Berend One day a friend sent Anna Berend an article about blogging. She thought it was a great idea but had no idea what she would write about. Then it hit her: she could combine her legal expertise with her experience gained from raising two boys. Berend asserts that she doesn’t write about family law, but rather, “how the law affects your family.” The blog has taken on a life of its own since Berend launched her advice column-meets-journal in March 2010. Check out the buzz for yourself at motherlylaw.com.

—Claire Walling

50 October 2012

The issue of distracted driving has really stoked a fire in me. When someone texts while driving, it’s not just their hands that are busy; their mind is too. I don’t think the laws will be strict enough on this issue for a long time, but just because using your phone while driving is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe. Before I realized how dangerous this habit was I wouldn’t hesitate to take the chance to talk while my little guys were firmly restrained in their car seats. Now I advocate to stop distracted driving; my slogan is “Phone down, eyes up.” If you want safe habits to be ingrained in kids, it needs to start with their parents. What’s your favorite part about writing Motherly Law?

I like showing my side as a mom too. On Fridays and Saturdays I post a blog called “motherly advice.” It started as a quick, light-hearted way to end the week, but my readers have really embraced it, and as I’ve written more I’ve started to open up and “motherly advice” has become more personal.


October 2012  
October 2012