Making a P ositive Impact
Immersed in a joyful school community, Prospect Sierra students think and feel deeply, develop a lifelong love of learning, and are prepared to make a positive impact on the world.
The Festival of Lights
This year the first night of Hanukkah falls on December 18, ending on December 26, at sunset. The holiday always begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, but never falls on the same day each year on the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for “dedication,” is also known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of the Maccabees.
East Bay Private School Guide and the East Bay Preschool Guide
are Now Available!
The 2022/23 edition of The East Bay Private School Guide and The East Bay Guide to Preschools are fresh off the press and our available on our website. Both give great advice on how to choose a private school or preschool, relative to their subject. Find out when to start your search, criteria to consider, what to look for in a school and a handy timeline for your search so you stay on track with those application deadlines. Available online at www.ParentsPress.com just click on “Our Magazines” tab.
IS A SEVEN-DAY FESTIVAL CELEBRATED IN APPRECIATION OF AFRICA-AMERICAN HISTORY, HERITAGE AND CULTURE. The term ‘Kwanzaa’ originates from the Swahili expression “matunda ya kwanza,” which means ‘first fruits of the harvest.” The festival is observed from December 26th to January 1st. Each of these seven days honors principles (Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith) which are thought to have been fundamental in promoting strong, productive communities and families in Africa. Kwanzaa became a celebration of culture, community and family.
Usually, people celebrate this holiday through musical selections, drumming, libations, discussing the African principle of the day, a reflection on Pan- African colors, feasts, candle lighting rituals, and artistic performances.
Be a Light in the Dark
With all of the holiday festivities happening this month, you’re probably overlooking one offbeat occasion — NATIONAL FLASHLIGHT DAY. It falls on Winter Solstice, December 21, the longest night of the year, and could be a good time to check on your household’s flashlight supply. Make sure batteries are new in the event of a power outage.
Good to Know
Winter Respiratory Issues
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but that doesn’t stop holiday related injuries. Here’s how you and your children can have a fun and safe season.
Keep the trimmings safe by watering real trees regularly to avoid fires (or consider a fake tree) and place breakable ornaments and ones with metal hooks up top, with kidfriendly ones below. Check lights for exposed wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Battery-operated candles are a safer alternative to the real variety, which present a fire hazard.
If children are helping with the holiday cooking, never leave the stove top or oven unattended when they are present. Prevent burns and spills by using the back burners of your stove. Turn pot handles away from the edge. Poinsettias, holly and other plants commonly used as decorations can be poisonous if ingested. Keep the National Poison Center number (1-800-222-1222) easily available.
Keep gifts age appropriate when purchasing a toy or game. Don’t forget safety equipment, such as a helmet and pads, for new bikes, scooters, skateboards or skis. Keep an eye on small parts that are easy to swallow, especially button batteries which are included in most electronic toys. Check websites, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc.gov), for updated recall information.
Here’s to a safe and stress-free holiday season!
During the winter months emergency departments often see an increase in children presenting with respiratory disorders. Some of the common respiratory illnesses seen in children are asthma, bronchi olitis, croup and pneumonia. While it can be heartbreaking and frightening for a parent to see their child not feeling well, an infant or young toddler with a respiratory illness can be extra worrisome for parents since children this age can’t tell you what is wrong.
For some children with asthma, the return of cooler weather or catching a cold can make their symptoms more difficult to control.
For some children with asthma, the return of cooler weather or catching a cold can make their symptoms more difficult to control. Bronchiolitis is caused by viruses and usually affects infants and toddlers. Bronchiolitis can de velop into coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
If your child has a harsh voice, barky cough and noisy breathing he or she may have croup. Croup is also caused by viruses and affects young children. If your child is diag nosed with pneumonia antibiotics will be prescribed if the infection is caused by bacteria.
Your child should see their pediatrician for any concerning respiratory symptoms, but here are some of the reasons to seek care immediately:
• If you can see your child’s ribs or if the chest or stomach is being pulled in while breathing
• If there are any abnormal noises, such as grunting, while breathing
• If there is a blue or gray color around your child’s lips or on their face or finger nails
• If they are drooling more than normal
• If they are not able to swallow
A child that has been diagnosed with a respiratory infec tion may require more fluids than usual to prevent dehydra tion if they have a fever or are breathing faster than normal. If your child is diagnosed with a bacterial infection, he or she will be prescribed antibiotics. Be sure to give your child their medication as directed, for the prescribed amount of time. Avoid over the counter cough/cold medications as these are not safe for children.
Your child may not be acting like his or her normal self while they are sick, but with a little time and supportive care they will be back on their feet and running around!
Best Gifts for the HolidaysBy Elena Epstein, Director of the National Parenting Product Awards
Perfect for aiding your child to transfer smoothly into riding a bike. Safety features include a frame pad, safe footrests and an adjustable seat that grows with your child. $99.99, ages 4-6, www.mobocruiser.com
Bunny Hopkins Swing Collection
A unique handmade wooden disc swing for indoor or outdoor play. Created with sustainable materials sourced American maple wood. Vibrant natural and color stains create amazing underlying wooden grains patterns. $59-$99, ages 2-8, www.bunnyhopkinstoys.com
LeapFrog Magic Adventures
Young biologists can zoom in on flowers, animals, food, minerals and more using eight double-sided smart slides Discover answers to curious questions like: How do leaves changes colors? What do plant cells look like? What is sand made of anyway? $89.99, ages 5+, www.leapfrog.com
Switcheroo Coding Crew
Embark on challenge-solving rescue missions using a codable robot with three shells that transform into a police car, fire truck and construction vehicle. Race around the town’s puzzle piece board to learn coding concepts, logic, problem solving and critical thinking. $59.99, ages 4+, www.amazon.com
Koosh Flix Stix
Plays like lacrosse -- easy to flick, catch and hard to put down. Perfect for hours of outdoor fun, families can test their skills and go head-to-head. Each set comes with 2 Flix Stix and 1 Koosh Ball. $24.99, ages 6+, www.playmonster.com
A life-sized modular magnetic play space set that connects like magic. Kids can create almost any structure they dream up and then play in their innovations. Packs away into a small footprint. $299, ages 2-10, www.getsuperspace.com
Springfree Large Oval Trampoline
With the springless design, flexible net, soft edge mat and hidden frame, this trampoline is safe and perfect for large families and kids of all ages, who love fitness and activities. $1,799, 6+, www.springfreetrampoline.com
Spidey & His Amazing Friends Web Spinning Hauler
Critter Creator Fossil Kit
Build, paint and fossilize ten different little critters with air-dry clay. The kit includes molds to create dragonflies, spiders, hornets, scorpions, lady bugs and more. $24.99, ages 7+, www.crayola.com
An easy to learn game that is fast and fun for the whole family. Players must turn over their topmost card in the center at the same time and be the first to call out the biggest animal. Great for travel. $12.97, ages 5+, www.amazon.com
BFF by Cry Babies
The collectible fashion dolls from Cry Babies. Six characters that come dressed in trendy outfits and strike various poses. Unbox the doll and discover seven surprise accessories. $19.99, ages 5-8, www.amazon.com
Moody Moody Cars
In this unique and charming picture book, classic cars express a range of feelings, from excited to angry, to help kids learn about emotions. Enjoy the photos of cool cars or dive deeper into the engine of emotional understanding. $16.99, ages 4-8, www.eileenkennedymoore.com
Join Spidey, Ghost-Spider and Miles Morales as they chase down villains inside this fun car. As Spidey takes the wheel and Ghost and Miles operate two Web Dart Launchers, users can spin the dial on the Hauler’s rear to the correct symbol, emerging characters from the roof. $27.99, ages 3+, www.target.com
How to Create One-on-One Time WITH YOUR KIDS When You Have No Free TimeBy Sarah Lyons
One of the biggest struggles of any busy parent, especially those parenting multiple children, is finding time to spend quality one-on-one time with each child. This can become even more overwhelming when you feel like you have very little free time. As a mom of six children, I feel the constant pres sure of my to-do list combined with a heavy dose of mom-guilt over the desire to spend time with my kids. So how can you have that quality time with your kids even though it feels like you have no time to spare?
One way to create some quality time with your kids is to be intentional about making it a priority. If I happen to have some alone time in the car with one of my kids, I do not let the oppor tunity for conversation go to waste. If my son wants to talk about Minecraft (again), which is one of my least favor ite topics, I choose to listen because it is important to him. I may not fully understand what we are talking about, but he is usually happy to answer my questions and this lets him know that I take an interest in his hobbies. If my daughter lets me know she would like to spend some extra alone time with me, I make it official by putting it on the family calendar. This way it is more
likely to actually happen and that time is less likely to get booked with another activity or appointment. Try scheduling one dedicated day, like the third Tuesday of each month, to have some alone time with your children.
LET IT GO
While many of my tasks are timesensitive, there are also quite a few that can wait, such as laundry or dishes. Yes, we don’t want the dishes and dirty clothes piling up so that the family has nothing to wear or eat off of, but on most occasions, it can wait an hour or even a day before they have to be washed. Your child will notice what you think is most impor tant - them! Plus, there is the bonus of getting to put off your housework a little longer. If your chores truly can not wait, ask your child to help put in a load of laundry and then ask if he would like to play a game, read a book, watch a movie, or bake some cookies while the washer runs.
PUT DOWN THE PHONE
Our smartphones are convenient but they also take up a lot of our free time, both for parents and kids. Set aside an hour or two a week to put the phones in time out and just talk to each other. Some families may also find it helpful to make mealtimes a
no-phone zone. This is a great way to spur conversation without distractions. If you find your conversations in a lull, try a would you rather question. For example, “Would you rather never have homework or never have to eat food you didn’t like? Why?” Not only will these get conversation flowing, you might also find out some things you didn’t know about your child.
CREATE A HELPER
If setting aside chores and errands isn’t an option, ask your child to come alongside as a helper. My kids have helped me cook, do laundry, run er rands, match socks, and rake leaves. Often our best conversations are while we are working on a project together. Not only will you get your chores done and spend time with your child, you are also showing them the value of hard work without even trying.
What we spend our time doing shows our children what we value. With some extra effort we can sneak in moments of quality time with our children that add up to a strong relationship. When we are intentional and make our kids a priority, it will not go unnoticed by them.
Sarah Lyons is a mom of six children, includ ing eight year old triplets. She lives in Kansas City with her family.
20 Reasons Why Christmas with Teens
is AmazingBy Katy M. Clark
“Ugh, I’m out of food coloring!” I cried, peering into the cupboard. It was the last thing I needed to finish the Christmas cookies.
Sigh. I’d already made enough runs to the store that I was on a first name basis with Sue, the cashier from checkout lane 6.
That’s when I turned to my teenage son, 17, sitting on the couch looking at his phone.
“Heeeeeeey,” I said. “Could you go get me some food coloring?”
“Sure,” he replied. He sprang up, grabbed the car keys, and took off.
It was like I had my own Christmas elf! Which was a pretty awesome perk of celebrating the holiday season with older kids.
Here are 20 of them:
A little bit of financial independence. You know what my son said when I offered him $5 to pay for the food coloring? “That’s okay, Mom. I have money.” Now that’s a Christmas miracle!
Teens are sturdier. I no longer fear that my kids will break the heirloom ornaments, topple over while helping with the outdoor lights, or drop the china when setting the table for Christmas dinner.
Their palates have matured. Gone are the days of picky eating, like the Christmas dinner when my preschooler ate nothing but rolls and brown sugar meant for the sweet potatoes. As a teen he’ll eat almost anything. (Okay, he still loathes onions!)
Teens are more helpful with cooking and baking. They can chop the veggies and make the gravy. They can whip up extravagant dishes and des serts, whether because they are taking culinary classes or just want to emulate something they saw on TikTok.
Better yet, teens can clean the kitchen all by themselves when they are done. They don’t need supervision or nagging. Well, maybe a little bit of nagging.
I am no longer in charge of dressing them for the weather. Yup, gone are the days of wrangling them into winter gear a la Randy’s mom in A Christmas Story. Of course, I hope my teenage son wears a coat, but if he doesn’t, that’s on him, not me.
Big kids care about tradition. Whether it’s put ting out the sock snowman they made in first grade or using Grandma’s recipe to make molas ses cookies, teens genuinely appreciate tradition and connection with loved ones and holidays in the past.
Teenagers are still kids at heart, just bigger. They want to leave a plate of cookies out for Santa. They pile in the car when it’s time for our family to drive around and admire holiday lights. Their faces still light up with joy when opening gifts.
As the mom of teens, I am liberated from the Elf on the Shelf. We had a good run, but nowadays I can sit back (a little bit!) and relish the real mag ic of the season, which is simply being together.
Indeed, as my teenage son and his sister have shown me as they’ve grown older, there are plenty of reasons why Christmas with teens rocks.
I love being together with them. This is in stark contrast to the days when they were younger, we’d all be stir crazy by New Year’s and I couldn’t wait for school to start again. With teens I wish time would slow down so I could linger in these special days with them.
Christmas with teens rocks because I no longer fret so much about the gifts. I don’t stress about hiding presents or scramble to obtain that deeply desired yet widely unavailable toy. (Do not ask me about the lengths to which I went to get my kids Zhou Zhou pets one year!)
Teens are happy to receive clothes as gifts, too. Remember the pouty faces or whiny voices as youngsters when they opened gifts and dis covered clothes? Now my son is stoked to get a hoodie and my daughter is giddy to see duds from her favorite store.
And if by chance my teens are disappointed by a gift? They are mature enough to handle it. It’s not like that time my three-year-old ran from the room crying when a toy did not work. I think that year’s very vocal disappointment still lingers in the ether.
Teens give better gifts, too. I know, I know, gifts are not the real meaning of the season. But while I treasure the drawings and painted rocks from yesteryear, it touches my heart when my teens give me a book, they knew I wanted to read or a scarf they saw me admire.
They can wrap gifts themselves. My teenage daughter is masterful when it comes to using paper, tissue, and ribbon. She’s a big help with all the wrapping if I’m busy or just plain tired of doing it all myself. Plus, I don’t worry about her running with scissors anymore!
Their taste in holiday shows and movies is more palatable. Sure, I enjoyed watching classics like Frosty the Snowman when they were little. But not thirteen times in a row. Now my teenagers are just as excited as I am to watch grown-up movies like The Holiday or Die Hard that they never would have sat through as tots.
Teens can stay up late. Whether it’s watching our favorite movies together or going to the mid night Christmas Eve service at church, gone are the years when I had to hustle them to bed by a certain hour.
Teens sleep in on Christmas morning. They no longer rouse the entire household at the crack of dawn to open gifts. Christmas morning with big kids has a decadent, tranquil feel.
Teens grasp the meaning of Christmas in a deeper way. I love that we have profound talks about faith this time of year. It touches my heart, too, when I see them donate jackets to the home less or put their own money in the red kettles.
And the 20th reason why Christmas with teens rocks?
Because it is still the most wonderful time of year, no matter if they are five or fifteen years old. And it’s an amazing gift every day, but especially at Christmas, to be the one that my teens call Mom. Y
Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom
Fearless, We COMMUNITY
Tips to Help Your Child GAIN CONFIDENCE in the ClassroomBy Jan Pierce
Our children have had a rough several years of learning due to the pandemic and now it’s time to re-focus on classroom interactions. Some younger children haven’t had time to experience the way a classroom normally works. How do they behave in a large group? What if they need help? What if they make a mistake? How responsive will the teacher be to individual needs? Parents can help children take optimal advantage of their learning environment by teaching some basic learn ing skills. Your child doesn’t have to be top of the class to enjoy learning and be a thriving, healthy part of his or her classroom.
Here are some tips to help your child be a proactive, happy learner:
BE PREPARED TO LEARN
Teachers notice when children come to school prepared to learn. They have the right supplies; they’ve eaten break fast and have had enough sleep. They brought back the permission slip for the field trip and they have their lunch money.
Yes, it’s a lot of work for parents to keep up with all the activities at school. And at some point children need to take responsibility for those things themselves, but not yet. Not when they’re in grade school and are just learning how to manage responsibilities. Be the parent who takes care of business and put your child in the best position to receive approval from the folks at school.
KNOWING WHEN TO LISTEN CAREFULLY
The best student in the world can’t be on high listening alert all day long. But successful students know when to listen carefully and that is one of the most important skills a student can learn. You can explain to your child that it’s vital to listen carefully when a teacher is giving exit direc tions before independent work times. These times usually come when the entire class is gathered and a new subject is introduced. Just before the children move to work inde pendently the explicit directions are given. Good teachers usually leave written directions where students can refer to them as they work.
Practice listening skills with your children. When are the times you need them to listen and remember? Help them see the difference between casual listening and focused listen ing when they need to act on the directions given.
Be the parent who takes care of business and put your child in the best position to receive approval from the folks at school.
KNOWING HOW TO FOLLOW DIRECTIONS
It may seem easy to adults, but children often don’t know how to follow directions. Most directions are sequen tial: “Get your paper, write your name at the top, then do problems one through ten.” For some children all the words get jumbled up and they fail to do the first thing correctly. You can practice following directions at home and teach coping skills if the child forgets. Listening and follow ing directions are key skills in learning and the earlier children can perform in these areas, the better they’ll do on classroom assignments.
Play a game in which you give two directions: “Go to the door and tap on it three times, then stand by the coffee table.” When the child can do two directions correctly try for three. Keep adding until a mistake is made. Children can become quite adept at following directions using this method.
KNOWING HOW TO ASK QUESTIONS
Here is a typical conversation in a first grade classroom: Teacher: Does anyone have any questions before we start our work? Student: “My hamster had babies last night.”
This little interchange may bring smiles to adult’s faces, but it highlights the fact that many children don’t know the difference between statements and questions. And, they don’t understand the difference between appropriate questions and those that are off-task. Asking questions at the appropriate time and about the topic at hand is abso lutely one of the most important skills a learner can mas ter. It’s good to ask questions when we need information or clarification. It’s smart to ask good questions. But a child who hasn’t really mastered the art of asking will be lost, and without the information they need to do a good job.
Practice asking clear, concise questions. “I understand how to write complete sentences using these words, but I don’t understand how you want me to change the action words. Vague questions like “How do I do this?” or state
ments like “I don’t get it.” leave the teacher wondering where to begin. Say to your child, “What, exactly do you need? And then prompt until the question is clear.
SOCIAL SKILLS: KINDNESS AND BEING AWARE OF OTHERS’ NEEDS
Not every child will earn straight A’s. Yes, there are aver age students in every classroom. And that’s okay if the child is working to his or her potential. But some children seem more adept at building relationships and maintaining friendships than others. This is the child who notices when a friend is sad or needs to borrow a pencil. This is the child who shares with others and takes turns. He plays fair. She notices when a friend needs encouragement.
Don’t underestimate the value of social skills when it comes to success in the classroom. Your child may not solve every math problem correctly, but if he is a good friend and a kind, caring person, you’ve got a lot to be proud of and the classroom is enriched. Help your child notice when others seem sad. Guide them to ways to help or share or show they care.
Practice: “Did you notice that Katie seemed sad today? I wonder if we could do something to cheer her up?” Or, “I like the way you shared your Legos with your friends. Being a good friend is really important in our family.”
Success in the classroom is more than achieving high marks on assignments. Just as in all of life, being a responsible, kind and caring person is just as important as being the best at what we do. Give your kids a boost by teaching them to master good classroom skills and watch them soar. Y
Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net.
Your child may not solve every math problem correctly, but if he is a good friend and a kind, caring person, you’ve got a lot to be proud of and the classroom is enriched.
A COLLEGE PREP SCHOOL LIKE NO OTHER
School Open House Events
More Events Online at
Saint Philip Neri Catholic School Information Night
January 11, 2023 @ 7:00 pm
Come and Play in TK and K
January 25, 2023 @ 9:00 am
School Open House
January 29, 2023 Following 9:00 am Mass 1335 High St www.spnalameda.org
Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley
Preschool On Campus Tours
December 1, 2022 @ 9:00 am
December 12, 2022 @ 9:00 am Kindergarten On Campus Tours
December 1, 2022 @ 9:00 am
Middle School International On Campus Tours
December 3, 2022 @ 10:00 am
AFP (Grades 1 & 2) Campus Tours
December 9, 2022 @ 9:00 am
Open House PS, K & AFP
January 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am 1009 Heinz Ave www.eb.org
The Crowden School
Virtual Admission Info Sessions
December 7, 2022 @ 6:30 pm
January 11, 2023 @ 6:30 pm
February 15, 2023 @ 6:30 pm
January 22, 2023 @ 2:00 pm
Attend Winter Concert
February 3, 2023 @ 6:30 pm 1475 Rose St www.crowden.org
January 21, 2023 @ 9:30 am 1868 Clayton Road www.orionacademy.org
Prospect Sierra School
TK Online Info Session
December 6, 2022
January 4, 2023
Elementary School (K-4)
Virtual Open House
December 11, 2022 @ 10:00 am 2060 Tapscott Avenue & 960 Avis Drive www.prospectsierra.org
East Bay German International School
Online Information Session –
December 14, 2022 @ 9:00 am
Online Information Session –Elementary School
December 7, 2022 @ 9:00 am
Online Information Session –
January 25, 2023 @ 9:00 am
January 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am
1070 41st St www.ebgis.org
Bentley School (Grades 9-12)
January 7, 2023 @ 2:00 pm
1000 Upper Happy Valley Road www.bentleyschool.org
Bentley School (Grades K-8)
January 7, 2023 @ 10:00 am
Admissions Kindergarten Play Dates
December 10, 2022 @ 10:00 am January 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am
1 Hiller Dr www.bentleyschool.org
December 1, 2022 @ 8:30 am
December 9, 2022 @ 8:30 am
Middle School Parent Tour
December 5, 2022 @ 8:30 am December 12, 2022 @ 8:30 am
Lower School Parent Tour
December 6, 2022 @ 8:30 am December 8, 2022 @ 8:30 am January 5, 2023 @ 8:30 am 4315 Lincoln Ave www.headroyce.org
Mills College Children’s School at Northeastern Uni.
TK - 5th Grade Tour
December 7, 2022 @ 9:00 am
December 14, 2022 @ 9:00 am
January 6, 2023 @ 9:00 am
January 11, 2023 @ 9:00 am
January 13, 2023
TK - 5th Open House
January 7, 2023 @ 10:00 am
Early Childhood Tour
January 18, 2023 @ 9:00 am January 20, 2023 @ 9:00 am 5000 MacArthur Blvd. www.millscollegechildrens school.org
Park Day School
December 11, 2022 @ 10:00am 360 42nd St www.parkdayschool.org
Redwood Day School
Virtual Q & A Dates
December 6, 2022 @ 9:00am
January 5, 2023 @ 9:00 am
January 18, 2023 @ 9:00 am
Sneak Peek Dates
Middle School December 10, 2022 @ 9:15 am
Lower School January 21, 2023 @ 9:15 am 3245 Sheffield Ave www.rdschool.org
Saint Theresa School
Info Session Grades 6-8
December 1, 2022 @ 9:00 am
December 6, 2022 @ 9:15 am
December 13, 2022 @ 9:15 am
January 10, 2023 @ 9:15 am
January 29, 2023 @ 10:30 am 4850 Clarewood Dr www.sttheresaschool.org
ORINDA Orinda Academy
December 11, 2022 @ 10:00am
Virtual Info Sessions
January 12, 2023 January 26, 2023 19 Altarinda Road www.orindaacademy.org
Corpus Christi School
In-Person Info Session
February 6, 2023 @ 5:30 pm 1 Estates Dr www.corpuschristischool.com
Seven Hills School
December 10, 2022 @ 10:00 am
Middle School Virtual Info Session
December 13, 2022 @ 5:00 pm
January 12, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
Grades K-5 Virtual Info Session
December 14, 2022 @ 5:00 pm January 11, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
ECE Virtual Info Session January 12, 2023 @ 11:00 am 975 North San Carlos Drive www.sevenhillsschool.org
How to Help Children with Their Homework How Much is Too Much?By Jan Pierce
Whether you love it or hate it, homework is a component of your children’s education. It is a given. In our busy lives with schedules full of sports, dance, music lessons and the like, families may find it difficult to set the children’s educational respon sibilities as a high priority. Although parents everywhere want their children to succeed in school, according to Sharon P. Robinson of the U.S. Dept. of Educa tion, many parents err more on the side of slighting the importance of nightly homework than in giving too much help. There are those parents who make the
mistake of doing the work themselves for a variety of reasons, but they are in the minority, and teachers will always spot such activity.
So, what are the proper ways to deal with nightly homework assignments for our children? First of all be sure that you understand the purpose of homework. It serves a number of purposes, but fore most are:
• Review and practice of new material
• Practice in independent research and study
• Developing good habits and attitudes toward learning
• Going further in a subject than can be done in limited class time
• Preparing for the next step in learning which will be presented the upcoming class session
Once adults see the purpose of home work, it is easier to properly support it.
The amount of nightly homework should vary according to age. Most experts agree that for grades 1-3 there should be about 20-30 minutes of home work per night. For grades 4-6 it should increase to about 40 minutes to an hour, and from grade 7 and upward it may reach two hours or more.
Success in training children to become independent learners begins at an early age with parental interest and support.
Clearly, by age 11 or 12 children need to be able to do independent work and quite a lot of it. This is where parents can play a huge role in starting from the early years to support good homework habits. The entire family should be on board with support of nightly homework routines. Here are some tips for setting expectations in place from the beginning of a school career:
• Set regular study times. You may need to be flexible, but never skip it.
• Provide a place to study with proper lighting, materials and resources.
• Remove distractions. Some can study with soft music, but T.V., loud music, or other children playing will distract from quality work.
• Be a good example by reading and modeling a lifelong learning attitude.
• Monitor assignments, know what your child is doing, and check over completed assignments.
• Keep lines of communication open with teachers and schools.
Success in training children to become independent learners begins at an early age with parental interest and support. The difference between supporting and doing too much for children is really quite easy to determine. It is appropri ate to review information with children by asking them questions and listening to their answers. It is helpful to step in when children are “stumped” and discover together where they need help. It is helpful to train them to break large assignments into smaller chunks. It is fine to allow them to take a break when the going is tough and then try again. But it is never fine to do their assignments for them.
If homework is a problem for any rea son, it is a good idea to talk with teach ers quickly before the problem grows. Perhaps together you can work out the problems of too much work, assignments that don’t seem to challenge, or any other problem which may arise. Teachers have a purpose for their homework assignments and teacher-parent cooperation helps children realize you think it’s important too. Setting sound homework practices in place will pay dividends for years to come. Y
Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher, reading specialist and is a freelance writer. She is the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net
The holiday season is here again and many parents find themselves scrambling to shop for all of the important people in their lives. Shopping for the perfect gift for your kids can be stressful. Gift giving can be full of joy but oftentimes what kids want and need is their parents time over a pile of gifts. This year try prioritizing presence over presents. This slight change in perspective can relieve this stress and give your kids the gift of memorable experiences that last longer than the thrill of a new toy.
THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE
Sharing an experience can be a great alternative to giving a physical gift. Find something your family enjoys doing together and make it into a surprise. Some ideas may include taking a trip, attending a concert, visiting a museum or a local attraction, or eating at a special restaurant. Most importantly, you will be enjoying the activity as a family. Experience gifts promote family bonding and create memories that will last a lifetime.
THE GIFT OF TIME
Time spent together has great value for kids. When you are shopping for gifts this year, look for items that promote family time such as games, puzzles, a cookie baking kit, sports equipment, or crafts. Take the time to play and spend time together. You mayBy Sarah Lyons
find that these activities will become family traditions you return to every year.
THE GIFT OF HELPING OTHERS
Taking time to serve those in need not only brings joy to those who receive help but also to those who offer it. Kids who volunteer regularly have a better appreciation for the blessings they have in their own lives and are more likely to be generous and serve others as they become adults. Ask your kids what needs they see in the community and decide how your family would like to serve. Some ideas may include a coat or food drive, serving meals at a shelter, adopting a family for Christmas, raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, sending holiday cards to veterans, baking and delivering cookies to neighbors, or picking up litter in your community. Choose what fits your family’s time and budget and make it a priority.
THE GIFT OF TRYING SOMETHING NEW
Has your child always wanted to try a particular activity or sport but the cost of lessons was not in the budget? Consider purchasing this gift for your kids. This will give them the opportunity to try something new and will also let them know you were considering their interests. Families may also want to purchase a membership to a local zoo, amusement park, community center, or museum.
This will be something the family can enjoy together over the year ahead.
You don’t have to get rid of gift giving all together, but being intentional about buying things that you can enjoy as a family and taking the time to purchase a few gifts that are really special to your child will help them see the importance of presence over presents. Your child will likely agree that the best gift is time spent with you.
Sarah Lyons is a mom of 6 and has been published in PregnancyandNewborn Magazine,CreativeChild and over 150 other parenting publications.
Holiday Event Guide
Festivity, fun and inspiration are everywhere this holiday season in the beautiful Bay Area! Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly activity or wanting to start a new tradition, there’s a holiday event that’s just right for you — and many of them are free of cost. Check out these family friendly holiday experiences and grab your tickets before they sell out!
Glow: Discover the Art of Light
Turn up the radiance this winter! Six artists illuminate Pier 15 with light sculptures big and small, inviting you to connect and get inspired in their glow. Explore the galleries for captivating new light art by Anila Quayyum Agha, Craig Newswanger, and Sally Weber and returning favorites by Luke Jerram and Burt Libe. In Bechtel Gallery 3, splash in waves of light with The Last Ocean, Jen Lewin’s monumental, luminescent landscape created from recycled ocean plastics. Experiment with color, shadows, and more in the Seeing and Reflections gallery. And join in for sparkling adult and family programs. Don’t miss this wondrous seasonal expansion of the Exploratorium’s exhibits on light.
November 17–January 29. See website for times & ticket info. Exploratorium, San Francisco; www.exploratorium.edu Continued on page 30 >>>
Christmas in the Park Opening Night
This 40+ year tradition is back in downtown San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park. There are a few surprises including new light displays, a brand new 65’ tall walkthrough Christmas tree and Blinky’s Tavern an all-new inflatable beer and wine garden! Admission is free.
Tree lighting November 25, 5:30pm. Christmas in the Park runs to early January. See website for event listings and ticket information. Downtown San Jose; www.Christmasinthepark.com
Walnut Creek on Ice!
Get your skate on at the Downtown Walnut Creek’s ice rink. The rink is open daily, however the times/pricing changes daily and the rink may be closed for private events.
See website for hours, ticket info. Civic Park, Walnut Creek; www.walnutcreekdowntown.com.
Blinky’s Illuminated Holiday
Debuted in 2020, this drive-through experience will continue this new holiday tradition in at Lake Cunningham Park. The “mile of smiles” features a synchronized light show with some of your holiday favorite tunes. Over 100,000-pixel lights capable of displaying 14 million colors illuminate twelve different themed lands and this year, a holiday fair food festival awaits upon exiting our event.
November 26–January 1. See website for event listings and ticket information. Lake Cunningham Park in San Jose; Christmasinthepark.com
A Christmas Carol
A.C.T. once again presents its celebrated adaptation of Charles Dickens’ festive fable. A timeless tale of Yuletide magic, A Christmas Carol teaches us all the true spirit of the holiday season!
November 30–December 24. See website for showtimes and ticket info. Toni Rembe Theatre, San Francisco; www.san-francisco-theater.com
The Velveteen Rabbit Beloved Holiday Tradition
with wit, festive costumes, madcap characters and the perfect amount of holiday cheer, ODC/Dance returns to the stage with the beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. The Velveteen Rabbit features captivating narration, a delightful musical score and larger-than-life storybook characters portrayed by the world-class dancers of ODC/Dance.
November 26–December 11. See website for showtimes and ticket information. The Blue Shield of California Theatre at YBCA, San Francisco; www.odc.dancePHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK
Craneway Crafts Fair Benefit for KPFA Public Radio
Celebrate creativity and community at the Crane way Crafts Fair…a benefit for KPFA Public. The Fair showcases affordable contem porary art and original crafts exhibited by 200 artists, and presents handmade fair-trade goods from indigenous com munities around the world.
December 3 & 4. See website for hours and ticket info. Craneway Pavilion, Richmond; www.cranewaycraftsfair.com
Experience the magic of the Nutcracker. This annual Tri-Valley holiday event continues to enchant audiences of all ages, bringing Tchaikovsky’s wellknown music and ballet to life with all of its elegance and beauty. Thrill to a stage filled with one magical Nutcracker, a swirl of lovely snowflakes, adorable mice, dancing soldiers and a glittering sugar plum fairy.
December 10–18. See website for showtimes and ticket info. Bankhead Theatre, Livermore; www.livermorearts.org
Civic Ballet’s The
PERFORMED IN CASTRO VALLEY
This holiday season prepare to be transported on a magical journey with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. From the heroic battle against the Mouse King, travel through the Land of the Snowflakes and on to the Kingdom of the Sweets. There you will meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and be entertained by the wonders of the Land of Enchantment. Choreographed by Artistic Director Abra Rudisill with gorgeous costumes and beautiful sets all to the classic Tchaikovsky score – this is a production sure to bring out the child in all of us.
December 3 & 4. See website for ticket information and showtimes. Castro Valley Center for the Arts 19501 Redwood Rd, Castro Valley; www.alamedacivicballet.org
San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker
at a Christmas Eve party in 1915 San Francisco, Nutcracker tells the story of Clara, a young girl given a magical nutcracker doll. The Nutcracker comes to life in her dreams, battles the evil King of the Mice, and takes Clara to a Crystal Palace full of dancing. With brilliant choreography by Helgi Tomasson and a beloved score by Tchaikovsky, SF Ballet’s Nutcracker is a festive treat for the entire family!
December 8–27. See website for times and ticket info. Ages 5 and up. War Memorial Opera House, 415-865-2000; www.sfballet.org
Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker
Stapleton Ballet Presents: Nutcracker
in the Magic of Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker! Rich in old-fashioned holiday grandeur, Clara’s whimsical Christmas Eve dreams come to life through the art of classical ballet enriched with clever storytelling, mischievous humor, heroic characters, and plenty of fanciful surprises. Lavish, Victorian costumes and sets frame choreography a cast of over 175 super-talented dancers shipped in from all over the state and country as they bring adventure to life in this full-length ballet production.
December 10 & 11. See website for times and ticket information. All ages. Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 415-453-6705; www.marinballet.org
Oakland Ballet Company Presents Graham
Lustig’s “The Nutcracker” OAKLAND
Oakland Ballet Company’s spritely and colorful version of this holiday classic is a holiday tradition that is fun for the entire family. Brimming with holiday magic, this is the Nutcracker to see! With live music by the Oakland Symphony.
December 17. See website for ticket information. All ages Paramount Theatre, 510-893-3132; www.oaklandballet.org
The vibrant Stapleton Ballet Nutcracker provides a magical start to the holiday season! This engaging production features lavish costumes, ornate sets and joyful choreography that celebrates the spirit and exuber ance of over 200 dancers performing alongside guest artists.
Dec. 17 & 18. See website for times and ticket. All ages. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 415-473-6800; www.stapletonschool.org
Yuletide Youth Holiday Concert
Join the award-winning singers of the Oakland Youth Chorus in a celebration of the songs, traditions, and diverse cultures that honor and create community. Sing together as we raise our voices to empower others and create harmony.
December 3. See website for hours and ticket info. Scottish Rite Center, Oakland; www.oigc.org/events
My Very First Nutcracker SAN JOSE
My Very First Nutcracker” is a special one-act presentation of “The San Jose Nutcracker,” ideal for families with toddlers, preschoolers, and young children. This joyful holiday production features the festive holiday party, at which Uncle Nikola reveals his fascinating gifts. Kids will marvel at the historic San Jose Electric Light Tower rising magically above the streets of San Jose, and cheer on adorable mice and toy soldiers who compete to win a magic crown. Introduce your family to the magic of classical ballet! This performance has a run time of approximately 55 minutes.
December 16–18. See website for showtimes and ticket information. California Theatre, San Jose; www.newballet.com
Glowfari – Oakland Zoo
Glowfari is an unforgettable experience for all ages to enjoy! Featuring hundreds of larger-than-life glowing animal lanterns throughout the Zoo; and with new animals displays for 2022 featuring animals from the land down under, kangaroos and koalas! Plus, check out icons of the California coastline including whales, otters and jellies. Finish the evening with a visit to Santa and ride the Express Train through our Winter Wonderland!
This event sells out early. November 11–January 29. Oakland Zoo, Oakland Hills; www.oaklandzoo.org
Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets SAN FRANCISCO
Celebrate the holidays with Mark Foehringer‘s Nutcracker Sweets, a unique 50-minute production of the classic holiday ballet designed for families with small children and audiences of all ages. This special production is danced storytelling that is affordable, magical, zany, and fun. Foehringer uses his choreographic skills in contemporary dance and ballet to craft a show that is sure to thrill dance newcomers and the most jaded balletomane. See all of the favorite Nutcracker characters in beautiful costumes performing on a colorful set with live chamber orchestra music.
December 3–18. See website for times and ticket information. All ages. Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center. www.mfdpsf.orgPHOTO COURTESY OF OAKLAND ZOO PHOTO BY MARK HABER, COURTESY OF SAN FRANCISCO BALLET
Los Gatos Children’s Christmas/ Holiday Parade
Get your holiday spirit on at this beloved family event. The parade route begins at the corner of No. Santa Cruz Ave. and Almendra, and continues down Santa Cruz Ave. to Main St. and ends close to Los Gatos High School. Thousands of spectators and participants alike flock to downtown Los Gatos on the annual event.
Dec. 3, 11am–1pm. See website for more information. All ages. Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos: www.lgsrecreation.org/parade
Holidays at Filoli
The San Jose Nutcracker
San Jose’s favorite Nutcracker comes to the beautiful California Theatre in downtown San Jose, for a truly magical holiday experience. “The San Jose Nutcracker” is a joyful holiday production that transports the well-loved story to turn-of-the-century San Jose, with historical references that highlight our valley setting as a birthplace of innovation.
December 16–18. See website for showtimes and ticket info. California Theatre, San Jose; www.newballet.com
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Visit London at the historic Cow Palace Exhibition Halls! Enter the winding lanes of Victorian London and immerse yourself in a world of music halls, theatres, pubs, dance parties, and charming shops overflowing with hand-made holiday treasures. Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air. Discover holiday revelry in this lamp-lit city brimming with over 800 lively and colorful characters from the imagination of Charles Dickens, the pages of history, and the sometimes saucy world of the Victorian stage. November 19–December 18. See website for showtimes & ticket info. Cow Palace, San Francisco; www.dickensfair.com
at Filoli is the season to make special memories, bask in the vibrant landscape, and spend time together. Step into the magic of the House adorned in Holiday cheer and explore the winter Garden, where inspiration glows.
November 19–January 8. See website for hours and ticket info. Filoli, Woodside; www.filoli.orgPHOTO COURTESY OF BEPPE SABATINI