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Child Advocate

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Januar y 2013 Issue 4, Volume 21

Together Making a Difference

smARTS For Students

ArtsEd Washington and Washington State PTA Join Forces to Deliver Arts Smarts to Parents and Families

Iallnstudents continuing efforts to build support, awareness, and action around the provision of arts education for in Washington state, ArtsEd Washington and the Washington State PTA have collaborated to produce a comprehensive arts education advocacy handbook. Geared as a resource for parents, families, and caregivers the smARTS for Students guide delivers arts education information, tips, best practices, and tools in a dynamic, easy-to-use format. The booklet was funded in part through support by the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) and is scheduled for a pilot launch in 2013. An Arts Education Guide for Parents and Families

smARTS for Students includes details on the skills children develop through arts education, the demand for creative capacities in the new economy, and an overview of the many positive outcomes for students receiving an education in the arts.

The handbook also features dynamic photographs of arts learning in action, which were provided by local public schools, and student artwork produced by students as part of the Washington State PTA’s Reflections program. Supplemental tools and resources will be provided through a companion website at, hosted through ArtsEd Washington. “The primary goal of our joint effort is to help parents and families learn more about why the arts are a vital component of a complete education,” said Una McAlinden, Executive Director for ArtsEd Washington. “We want to increase their knowledge about the direct link between the arts and the 21st Century capacities needed for success and empower Washington parents and families with the confidence to actively support and be involved in their child’s education and especially to speak out in support of the important arts learning that is required by our state.”


In Washington, the arts (defined as dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) are part of basic education and a required core subject for all students. State law mandates that all school districts teach and measure student progress in the arts; however, data shows that arts learning varies from district to district, from school to school, and even classroom to classroom.



This means children are missing out on this essential learning that, as the research shows, is vital in the development of well-rounded, fully engaged citizens who can effectively tackle as yet unimagined opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. smARTS for Students is a starting point for parents, families, and caregivers to understand the benefits the arts bring to their children and give them confidence to start opening doors, engaging in arts education conversations, and working with other parents, teachers, and educational leaders to fully equip our next generation of citizens. Suggested activities and actions outlined in the guide range from a simple chat with a teacher at curriculum night to more involved interactions such as meeting with elected officials. “Washington State PTA is pleased to partner with ArtsEd Washington in developing this valuable tool,” said State PTA President Novella Fraser from Federal Way. “It’s important that all students have a well-rounded education that includes learning in the arts.” Arts education information and further details on the smARTS for Student handbook launch will be updated at and www. n ArtsEd Washington is a nonprofit organization in the state exclusively dedicated to creating systemic change in how arts education is perceived, funded, and taught in our schools, ArtsEd WA focuses on building the capacity of schools and districts to include arts education as part a complete basic education for all K-12 students. ArtsEd Washington is a member of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network.

5 Building a Better Nation For Our Children


Teaching Our Children Personal Responsibility


Using Your Voice to Advocate for Kids


Helping Your Kids Interact With Others


The Child Advocate is published online every month from September through May by the Washington State PTA, 2003 65th Avenue West, Tacoma, WA 98466-6215, (253) 565-2153. Contributors are welcome. Call the State PTA office for guidelines. Whenever PTA is used it also refers to PTSA. PTA is a registered trademark of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. Novella Fraser, Washington State PTA President Kirk Miller, Interim Executive Director Karen Fisker-Andersen, Editor


Building a Better Nation For Our Children

n his inaugural address in 1961, President Kennedy urged the nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” This seems to be a fitting question today as it was when President Kennedy first posed this question to the nation. Military service is often the first thing that comes to mind when considering serving the country, but there are many other meaningful ways good citizens can serve their country. Good citizens do more than just obey the law, serve on juries or vote in elections. They do what they can to make the country a better place for everyone by showing respect to others despite racial, ethnic, or religious differences; caring for one another; making informed and educated decisions when they vote in elections; being hard-working, responsible and trustworthy. Be a Good Citizen • Help your neighbors. The most effective way to help your neighbors is first to get to know them. Check in on elderly neighbors,

The Child Advocate, January 2013

single parents, and others in your neighborhood who may be able to use a helping hand. Offer to pick up things at the grocery store for them when you are doing your own grocery shopping. Offer to baby-sit to give a young mom some much needed time to herself. Do some research and find sources of help for families who are struggling. When we help each other, we can accomplish things we wouldn’t be able to alone. Think of the impact this small step would have on our nation if everyone lent each other a helping hand! • Be kind to strangers. This may seem like a simple thing, but sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference in people’s lives. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, news commentator Ann Curry suggested people do “26 random acts of kindness” to honor the 26 lives that were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Use this as an inspiration to start building a habit of kindness to others. •

Get involved in PTA and other community organizations making a difference in people’s lives. PTAs advocate for the

health, welfare and education of all children, not just the children of its


members. No child should slip through the cracks in our country.

stand on issues and candidates and why. Donate. Together with your children collect blankets for homeless people, donate old toys and clothes to charity and donate food to local food banks. • Conserve. Teach your children to conserve natural resources by turning off the water when they brush their teeth, taking shorter showers and turning off lights when they leave the room. •

• Take your civic duties seriously. Serve on juries without complaint. Vote in elections. Do your homework to determine which candidate best represents you, without regard to a political party. • Work for a common purpose. Our country was founded on two principals--individual freedom and collective governance by the people. Our democracy works best when many individuals are involved and committed to working together for a common purpose. Be a part of the solutions for our country by getting involved. Find out about the issues being discussed in the Legislature and write letters to your senators and representatives. Make sure that they know how you want them to vote on specific issues and why. • Use your voice. Write letters to the editor of newspapers. Inform neighbors and friends. Know your subject through conscientious fact-gathering. If there is opposition, take time to look at their views.

For middle and high school aged children: • Communicate. Initiate conversations in response

• • •

Pass It On Good citizenship is only one generation away from extinction. Take time to teach your children about the heritage of our country and the importance of good citizenship. This is especially important because today’s culture seems to focus less on civic duty. Our children need to appreciate the legacy we inherited from our nation’s founding fathers, which has been defended and protected by those before us. It will become their responsibility to protect it for their children and future generations, so they need to know why its important. For elementary aged children: • Set a good example. Volunteer for

community service projects and invite your children to join you. Share with your children where you

to TV programs or current events in newspaper articles. Encourage responsibility. Require chores as a means for students to contribute to the household responsibilities. Emphasize volunteering. Encourage your teenager to volunteer at a hospital, or help serve food at a local food bank, or tutor a student who may be having difficulty in school. Teach kids to advocate. Encourage your teen to write letters to government officials or newspapers to advocate opinions about public issues and policies. Encourage your teen to participate in other political activities outside the classroom. Help kids find a cause to serve. Help your teens find a cause that interests them--such as reducing human trafficking or sweatshop labor--and educate yourselves and the people around you on these issues. Participate in organizations who are working to combat these problems.

As we bring in a new year, let’s take time to consider citizenship as more than just performing civic duties, but what we can do to engage in our communities and serve our nation in our daily lives. Let’s make 2013 the year our resolutions involve building a better nation with small things we do every day. n

2013 Focus Day January 24, 2013

Join us for PTA Focus Day as we rally inside

the Capitol dome, meet with legislators and staff, gather for briefings, and network with other PTA advocates. Members make a big difference when they come to Olympia in large numbers. We need you to speak up visibly for child-friendly budgets and policies in what will again be a difficult economic climate. If it is not feasible for you to attend in person, we will also have a goal this year of a large “virtual” presence. Updates for this event will be posted on the WSPTA website.


a Washington State PTA parent involvement magazine

Teaching Our Children Personal Responsibility

Ibilityndividuals who embrace the concept of personal responsiare able to accept the consequences for their decisions without blaming others. They have courage, humility and self-control. These qualities are not ones that are typically featured in today’s culture, yet they are essential to your children’s future. To teach your children personal responsibility, talk to them about self-control, what it means to be responsible, and how to make good decisions. Following are some tips to get you started: Exercising Self-control

Self-control is first and foremost, a choice. However, it is easier to have self-control when you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and are not overwhelmed with activities. • Be optimistic. Engage yourself in positive self-talk when you feel anxious or disappointed. • Accept your circumstances. You can’t change the past or other people, but you can change the way to react to past experiences and to other people. • Think before you speak. Take some time to process the situation and think of the best way to respond, rather than react impulsively. • Be committed to core values. Sometimes it is necessary to wait for the things we want. Other times we need to put a lot of time and effort into accomplishing a task. When an individual is committed to a value system, he is better able to resist temptations of finding dishonest solutions to his problems. A person with selfcontrol has the courage to do the right thing, even when uncertain of the outcome. • Accept help. Being responsible doesn’t mean that you can’t accept help from others. For some people, accepting help feels like an admission of failure. However, we need to remember that to be successful we sometimes need to let go of any self-important attitudes we possess and accept that we can’t do it all.

for your decisions. When parents accept and learn from their mistakes; their children will likely do the same. Let your children know when you are dealing with peer pressure, conflicts and making decisions. Vocalize your thinking process of determining the problem, how it affects others, and what the possible consequences might be for different courses of action. Teach your children formal decision making techniques for more difficult decisions. Together with your children, go through these five steps to teach them to analyze difficult problems and think critically about finding the best solution: •

Being Responsible

Children who are responsible are able to figure out what needs to be done and do what is expected of them without being told. Parents are key to helping their children develop responsibility.

Parents teach their children to be responsible by providing them an alarm clock to wake them up in the morning; by requiring students to take charge of their homework -- figuring what needs to be done and when; by encouraging them to pack their own lunches or backpacks; or by contributing to the upkeep of the house, such as vacuuming or doing dishes once a week. Although at first this may seem like more work for parents; in the long run these efforts will pay off. Making Good Decisions Parents should model good decision making strategies. Be accountable

The Child Advocate, January 2013

• •

Correctly identify the problem. Encourage your children to verbalize what the problem is. Step two: Generate alternate solutions to the problem. Encourage your children to verbalize what those solutions might be. Step three: Evaluate each solution for its workability by asking: Is it safe? How will people feel? Is it fair? Will it work? Step four: Choose a solution. Encourage children to say out loud what the solution is. Step five: Evaluate whether the solution is working, and change to an alternative solution if necessary. Step one:

Be ready to accept your children’s decisions. If a solution they have come up with on their own fails to solve the problems, be supportive and encourage them to find another solution. Avoid the temptation to save your children from bad decision (unless their choice is unsafe for them or other children or goes against your family values.) It is better for them to learn the consequences of bad decisions when they are younger, and the stakes are not as high. n


Using Your Voice to Advocate for Kids W ith the Legislative session starting, you will hear a lot about advocacy from the PTA. You may think advocacy is for someone else, but it’s for everyone who cares about our nation. Advocacy means to speak up for another person. You are already an advocate whenever you speak up for your children to their teachers or the school principal. Consider broadening your advocacy this year to influence decisions made by the school district administration, the school board, and the Legislature. Getting Started If your PTA has an advocacy chairperson, talk to that individual about your interest in getting involved. If your PTA doesn’t have an advocacy chairperson, consider volunteering for that role. No experience is required. If you are able to create relationships, feel comfortable communicating with others, and have an interest in learning about the issues, then you have the skills an advocacy chairperson needs. The State PTA office can help inform you about the issues and train you to be a more effective advocate for children. Here’s what you can do now: • Attend Focus Day in Olympia, January 24, 2013. For information on Focus Day, go to • Sign up to network with other advocates via LegTalk, WSPTA’s legislative listserv. Please send an email to adminstaff@ and ask to subscribe in “real time” (emails sent as they are posted) or “digest” (one email of all daily posts) • Visit the Grassroots Connection blog and take advantage of other opportunities to stay informed on the legislative issues and activities of the Washington State PTA by going to: http://www. Formulating a Plan Build a network of people at your PTA who are interested in advocacy.


Develop a message that includes facts, how you want policy makers to take action and why. Make frequent contacts to policy makers through emails, phone calls and meeting in person. Writing Your Legislators • Make sure your message is clear and concise. If you know the bill number or bill title, reference it. Say why you are writing and what you would like your legislator to do about the issue. Avoid using form letters--the impact is lessened. • Include your name and address on the e-mail, fax or letter. This makes it easier for legislators to respond. • Make sure the email, fax or letter is easy for them to read. • Ask for a response to your communication that tells you where they stand on your issue and how they think they will vote. • Argue your point based on the legislators interests. Show them how it will benefit the people in your district and how it will impact your district. Let your legislator know that you are a constituent and a voter. • Write a separate letter for each issue you’d like to discuss. • Follow the legislators’ votes on issues and write them back in response to the outcome. If they didn’t vote the way you’d like them to, tell them so, but be polite. • You can contact your legislator online by accessing the public website. or Using Other Means of Advocacy Inform members of your PTA about the issues. Write letters to the editors of local newspapers. Call in to radio talk shows. Testify in Olympia. Develop a letter writing campaign at your PTA. Organize petition drives. Volunteer to serve on district committees. Attend school board meetings. Build coalitions with other groups with similar interests. n

a Washington State PTA parent involvement magazine

Helping Your Kids Interact With Others L earning how to interact with others involves being able to cue in to social situations. For some kids, these skills come naturally; for others it requires a bit of practice and help. Experts agree that as much as 70% of communication is in the form of nonverbal communication. Some children are not observant enough to see these nonverbal cues; others simply are unaware of what they mean. Older children may struggle because they may have had a bad experience in the past. Their nervousness may inhibit their ability to relax in social settings. Still others may simply be naturally introverted individuals who are slower to warm up in social situations. Whatever the reason for your children’s difficulties in social situations, parents can take some steps to help their children blend in better. •

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for who they are. Point out that people have different temperaments and strengths, and there is nothing wrong with that. Practice at home. Spend time practicing with your children, either with puppets, dolls or acting out different social scenarios. Be a good example. Model good communication habits, including how to carry on a conversation and how to handle social situations, such as meeting people, introducing people, asking for another person’s opinion, and so on. Point out the natural give and take in conversations and how one person doesn’t monopolize the conversation. Talk about the natural flow of a conversation and when it is appropriate to join and comment on something. For example, when there is a natural pause in conversation, it is appropriate to join in, but not when someone else is speaking. Point out that people politely listen when another person talks, even if they would rather be the one talking. Accept your children


Child Advocate

a Washington State PTA parent involvement publication

Washington State PTA 2003 65th Avenue West Tacoma, WA 98466-6215 Website: Email: Phone: (253) 565-2153 or 1-800-562-3804 Fax: (253) 565-7753

The Child Advocate, January 2013


• • • • • •

If your children are slow to warm up to social situations, encourage them to watch the interaction first. Talk about personal space. Challenge your child to imagine there is an invisible bubble around everyone that people don’t cross. Play games with your children to help guess what a person is feeling based on facial expressions and gestures without saying anything. Read books with your children on topics related to friendships and how to make friends and keep them. Discuss what you have learned from the book afterward. Use teachable moments. Discuss any relevant issues after watching a TV show or movie. Seek medical help from a pediatrician if you suspect there may be a medical reason for your child’s social difficulties or if you are experiencing other behavioral problems with your child. n Be flexible.

“Making every child’s potential a reality.”


PTA is: n A powerful voice for all children, n A relevant resource for families and communities, and n A strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child. The Washington State PTA accomplishes the mission of PTA by:

• Speaking on behalf of children and youth in the schools, in the community, and before governmental bodies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children; • Supporting parents* in developing skills to raise, protect and advocate for their children; • Encouraging parent*, teacher, student and community involvement; • Promoting opportunities for positive outcomes for children; and • Being a financially stable, well-managed organization that promotes diversity, provides quality service, models best practices and values its members and employees. *Parent may include adults who play an important role in a child’s family life since other adults (grandparents, aunts, uncles, or guardians) may carry the primary responsibility for a child’s health, welfare, education and safety.


Be a Part of Washington State PTA History!

Photo: 37th Annual WSPTA Convention, (Tacoma, May 2, 1950) Courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library, Northwest Room

Attend WSPTA’s 100th Annual Convention May 3-5, 2013 Bellevue Hyatt Hotel (located next to Bellevue Square)

An inspiring weekend with a variety of training opportunities, engaging keynote speakers, and plenty of fun! Photo courtesy of University of Puget Sound

Looking Back...

In June 1911, the Washington Congress held its first Annual Convention in Tacoma. At this convention, delegates were taken for automobile rides for entertainment. Wartime restrictions made it impossible for the State PTA to convene its Annual Convention during 1944 and 1945, which is why we celebrate the WSPTA’s 100th Annual Convention in 2013, rather than 2011.

The Child Advocate - January 2013  

Building a Better Nation For Our Children - Teaching Our Children Personal Responsibility - Using Your Voice to Advocate for Kids - Helping...