Parenting

Why Demanding Better Education is Paramount for Our Children

Young Children Ready For School

Arming a child with knowledge early in his or her life will position him or her for continued success. Not only does a great educational foundation provide the skills for a child to reach his or her greatest potential, but it also cultivates a better future society. Our children first learn the most from their parents, and they must lead by example to help the next generation. Parents know how significant their jobs are, but they can only do so much.

When deciding on a school for their children to attend, parents must devote serious attention to the quality of teachers and administrators at the institutions they consider for their children. Parents have a right to demand that schools create environments where students can thrive academically. Students will not, unfortunately, thrive academically in schools that don’t have effective teachers and administrators. Here are some phenomena to contemplate as you attempt to prepare your child for academic success.

Education in Early Life

It makes sense that investing in the education of a child builds a more prosperous and peaceful citizen. Those who have some kind of educational foundation are more likely to commit themselves to academic excellence and the notion of the life of the mind. A school system that continually challenges a student will lead him or her to see the value of lifelong learning. With a better education and more efficient ways of assessing our children’s abilities, more of them will feel valued. This will certainly lead to a more productive society. In children’s early learning, assist them in discovering their distinctive beliefs and worldviews. Early learning should be fostered by their own curiosity about the world, with lots of support, validation, and hints offered.

New Ways of Learning

As the saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new.” We need to focus on alternative means of assessing our children’s academic growth. If you’ve ever taken a standardized test, you know how mind-numbingly painful it is to stay focused and regurgitate all the information you were forced to memorize. Students need new ways of being evaluated, such as oral exams or presentations. Modern schools are becoming better at employing new methods and strategies of imparting new material. Observe the ways in which your own child responds to different methods of learning, such as visual, auditory, and tactile learning, and identify ways you can address his or her needs inside and outside of the classroom.

Online Education

Online schools are increasingly becoming attractive options for parents for their children’s education. Not only are college classes held online, but entire K-12 schools are now online. These types of organizations are especially advantageous for those who don’t have easy access to a school, or children who want to be homeschooled without having their parents as teachers. Online learning also has the benefit of being directed by the student’s own curiosity. Some K-12 online schools offer field trips and community resources that allow for social engagement and community learning, as well as an individualized pace.

Conclusion

Ensuring the next generation is equipped with the tools essential for educational success is our responsibility. With some sweeping educational reforms, we can empower our children to evolve in a society where they are ready to ameliorate it persistently. Parents should lead the effort to advocate for the educational reforms necessary to improving American public schools dramatically.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Celebrate Parents of Military Men and Women: The Forgotten Heroes

Military Appreciation

Sgt. Nick Daniels and Ginnie Ann Daniels (mom) immediately before his wedding. 12/31/1999
Photo Courtesy of Ginnie Ann Daniels

The parents of the brave men and women in uniform who defend our nation deserve to be honored for their great sacrifices and all they do to support those who have and are serving our country. One of the most powerful ways to show appreciation to our servicemen and servicewomen is to honor their parents. Without question, we have the best military in the world. What makes our military the best in the world is the quality people who constitute it. Unfortunately, we often fail to pay homage to their parents—the individuals who produce these quality men and women.

Ginnie Ann Daniels, an Arkansas mom with a son in the military, has committed herself to passionate support of active duty military men and women and veterans. Mrs. Daniels has engaged in numerous efforts to evince her gratitude to those who have and are serving in our military. For example, she partnered with the Wounded Warriors Project to have parking lot signs posted in prominent places, including Walmart and the South Arkansas Art Center (SAAC) in El Dorado, Arkansas, that acknowledge the immense sacrifices veterans injured in combat have made. Ginnie understands that we should never forget to honor and care for our nation’s veterans.

Military Appreciation

Ginnie Ann Daniels posing for a picture at South Arkansas Art Center for a sign honoring wounded combat servicemen and servicewomen.
Photo courtesy of Ginnie Ann Daniels

Sergeant Nick Daniels, Ginnie Ann Daniels’ son, has and is serving tours of duty in some of the most dangerous regions in the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. On yesterday, Ginnie and her husband celebrated their 42th wedding anniversary. Imagine how difficult it is for this loving couple to be separated from their son who is bravely serving our nation. Yes, they are proud of their son and the hero he is. This, however, does not make it any easier for them emotionally as they acknowledge the dangers Sergeant Nick Daniels faces in regions like Afghanistan and Iraq. His parents have to employ just as much faith as he does to maintain hope and courage while he serves.

Parents of military men and women are heroes too. The economic, emotional and physical sacrifices they have to make are highly commendable and not many would welcome those sacrifices. Although these parents are not physically on the battlefield with their son, they certainly are in spirit—not a moment goes by where they are not thinking about him, supporting him and praying for him.

Take a moment to contemplate about how difficult it is for Sargent Nick Daniels—a parent himself—to be separated from his young son while he’s serving. As a loving father, you know it’s a tremendous sacrifice to miss so many important moments with him. Also, consider the tremendous sacrifices his wife is making.

Military Appreciation

Sgt. Nick Daniels makes a surprise visit home to his wife and son in Houston, Texas.
Photo Courtesy of Ginnie Ann Daniels

While Mrs. Ginnie Daniels has been successful in numerous efforts to express meaningful appreciation to our servicemen, servicewomen and veterans, she has met some opposition and lack of support for her commendable work. For people who are devoted to the type of patriotic work she is involved in, we should do all possible to help her succeed.

Let’s keep Ginnie, her husband, Sergeant Nick Daniels, his wife and their entire family in our prayers. Today, we salute this wonderful family!

If you would like to make financial contributions to the family of Sergeant Nick Daniels, please feel free to contact me at antoniomdaniels@gmail.com, and my staff and I will provide you with the information necessary to submit your contributions directly to his family. Money is one gift we can give to the family to show our tangible gratitude and support for their noteworthy sacrifices.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Let the Power of Discovery Begin at Home

Black Family

(Photo Credit: Black Enterprise)

Before you go out exploring phenomena outside of your home, discover the new things you can learn about those inside of your home.  How often do you ask questions to those in your immediate family?  How well do you really know your family members?  Too often we assume we know a tremendous amount about our immediate family members, but there can be so many things we don’t know about them.  Many people can be so busy trying to find out what’s going on in other people’s homes that they’re missing the greatest attractions developing inside of their own homes.

Parents, how well do you know your children’s friends?  For parents with older children who are in relationships, how well do you know the individuals they’re in relationships with?  Do you know why your children decided to be in relationships with these individuals?  How did they first meet and what attracted them?  Are your children too secretive about their relationships?  Why?  Do you have children you find it strange that they are even in intimate relationships?  Have you asked questions that will provide you with more information to make it less strange?  These aforementioned queries are just some you can posed to members of your immediate family to discover some potentially novel things.

One of the best ways to build and maintain strong families is to place a strong value on communication in your home.  Your home should be a place where frank and open communication are truly valued.  The members of your immediate family should feel comfortable to talking to one another about virtually anything.  One thing I’m very proud of about my immediate family is the members of the family feel comfortable talking to one another about anything.  We can share things with one another without feeling like any member is going to bring condemnation for what’s disclosed.  My immediate family is loving and supportive, and it has been the welcoming and embracing of frank and unrestricted communication that has been essential to the love in my family.

If you talk more to your immediate family members, you may learn ways you can be useful in helping them to overcome physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual challenges and problems.  Before sending a family member to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, determine if this is even necessary.  Those situated inside the home can serve as the only psychologist or psychiatrist the person needs.  We often miss opportunities to be helpful to those who live in our own homes because we allow ourselves to become too busy to look for the potential needs of our family members.

Use this piece as a conversation-starter with the members of your immediate family.  Let this piece become a way for you to ask questions of the members of your immediate family that you’ve always wanted to know or failed to ask.  You may discover some things about your immediate family members you needed to know before they died.  Don’t make your family members think you’ve turned into a private investigator (unless you truly are one).  Just let them know you want to grow closer as a family through the power of discourse and inquiry.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kids and Technology: Set an Example While They’re Young

Children and Technology

(Photo Credit: Digital Trends)

As most parents know, your kids are watching you all of the time.  You don’t have to sit down and have a formal conversation with them to teach them things; even kids who seem like they rarely pay attention are observing and learning from your behavior.

As your kids start getting their first smartphones, tablets and laptops, you want them to be responsible. You don’t want them to spend all day in front of a screen, and you want them to be kind to others over the Internet.  One of the best ways to ensure that your kids are responsible with their technology is to be a great role model with your own devices.

With this in mind, the following tips can help parents set an excellent example with their use of technology.

One of the best things parents can do to be good technology role models is to turn their devices off as often as possible—and definitely during family time.  While you might be excited about your new LG Optimus or the latest iPhone and all of the features and apps that can help your busy schedule, if you are on it all of the time, then your children will mimic your actions when they get their own phones.

Moreover, each time we take a quick peek at our texts while aiding our kids with their homework, or each time we interrupt them to say, “I’m sorry, I have to answer this email really quickly,” we’re sending a clear message that we prefer technology over people, claims Dot Complicated.

When your children get their own devices, you will still want them to pay attention to you, so when they are speaking to you, make sure to be fully present with them.  Resist the urge to constantly check emails and texts, and instead give them your full attention.  You also can avoid the distractions by setting some family rules about screen time.  For example, no phones or tablets at the dinner table.  Be sure to follow the rules you establish.

Limit Your Game Time

Yes, you’ve been trying desperately to get past level 199 in Candy Crush so you can crow about it to all of your friends on Facebook.  However, as DigiParenthood notes, keep in mind that your kids are keenly observing how much time you spend playing games on your phone.  Show them the importance of discipline, and that work should come before pleasure by finishing your necessary tasks first.  Finish your chores around the house, help your kids with their homework and walk the dog all before sitting down to play a game.

Many time limit apps out there such as TimeLock, allow parents to designate a certain amount of time their child can use the device.  This is a wonderful tool for you to track how long they spend on the Internet each day, and you can set your own time limits to show your kids that you limit your game time as well.

Be a Good Social Media Citizen

We can talk to our kids about the importance of privacy on social media sites until we are blue in the face, but if our Facebook page is full of posts about personal experiences and situations, our words will probably fall on deaf ears.  Use social media very carefully, and never post anything you wouldn’t want your young children to see—because chances are they will.  Also, be kind and polite while online, even when others are rude; this will help to show your kids the importance of online etiquette.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man: A Review

Raise Him Up Moore

(Photo Credit: BookLook Bloggers)

In Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man (2013), Stephanie Perry Moore offers the reader some personal insights about the struggles single black women face rearing successful black boys who develop into men.  Extensive research has empirically proven that black male students academically lag behind all of their peers throughout every level of education.  The narratives of single black women who rear black boys receive limited focus in the professional literature.  This book, therefore, provides a needed account of the challenges and problems encountered by single black women rearing black boys, especially their efforts to rear successful black boys who evolve into successful black men.  Moore contends that using spiritual instruction and guidance available in the bible is essential to producing successful black boys and men.  The author relies heavily on the Book of Acts to support her suggestions and arguments.  She gives the reader prayers they can use in their work with their black male child.  One chapter is devoted to rearing a successful black male student-athlete.

While the book offers important practical challenges and problems encountered by single black mothers rearing black boys, Moore made a poor strategic choice of employing the Book of Acts as her primary source for biblical support for the things she suggested and asserted.  The biblical support is simply forced throughout the work.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete appears tacked on and lacks adequate coverage.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete would have been better as a separate, standalone project.

Overall, the book leaves much more to be desired.  This book is a classic case of a good idea not executed well.  During the review process of this book, someone should have made a compelling case to Moore to buttress her biblical support for her arguments and advice by choosing more relevant scriptures to enhance her arguments and advice.  Although there are some nice qualities about the book, I cannot highly recommend the book because of its many failures.

BookLook Bloggers gave me a complimentary copy of the book to compose a professional review of it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keep Your College Student from Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity Theft

(Photo Credit: Identity Theft Protection)

Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the country, according to the FBI.  College students are especially vulnerable to this type of fraud for a couple reasons: They lack an understanding of how important it is to keep personal information safe, especially in this era of excessive sharing through social media, and because they come with clean credit histories which they are unlikely to monitor.  We have a responsibility to educate our college-age students about identity theft and how to prevent it.

Prevention Tips

  • Tell your children what identity theft is and how it could affect them if they are not careful. It is vital that anyone going away for college has a clear understanding of the issue and the consequences if certain measures are not taken.

  • Despite having a clean credit history, it’s necessary for college students to check their credit regularly. This is a good way to keep an eye out for fraudulent activity and accounts opened in their name.

  • Explain to your children that when shopping online, they must only use secure websites. This must be the rule if they are going to use a bank or credit cards online. The best way to recognize a secure website: There is an “s” on the end of “http.” This provides customers with peace of mind that payment information will be kept confidential.

  • Teach your college students to always use a firewall and a quality antivirus and malware program. This program should be updated regularly to ensure the latest version is being employed and the maximum protection.

  • Consider signing the whole family up for an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock. This is the ideal way to keep personal information secure. Such services monitor their clients’ accounts and offer them fraud alerts, guidance and resources on how to keep personal information safe.

Basic Security Measures

  • Your children should have a secure place to store their Social Security card, personal documents, credit cards and mail.

  • Teach your children to keep their campus apartments or dorm rooms locked to stop people from going through their personal belongings.

  • Invest in a paper shredder. This is the best way to eliminate documents no longer needed.

  • Instruct your college students to create a separate list of all their account information and banks’ phone numbers. This makes it easy to report a card as misplaced or stolen. They should also keep the phone numbers of the three major credit bureaus handy in case anything suspicious happens.

We are responsible for sending our children out in the world armed with good facts about protecting themselves. With these simple tips, we can educate these young adults so they don’t fall prey to identity thieves.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison