Being the Inspiration Our Kids Need Us to Be

As adults, we have the perspective and reference points necessary to identify strengths and skills in our children, our students, and those we mentor. We see their potential and we want them to succeed and thrive. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to inspire kids to dream big, reach for the stars, and achieve their goals.

They look to us for guidance when they fall; they rely on our help to conquer challenges and see beyond the barriers that stand in their way. Here are just a few ways to inspire young people to do great things from the outset.

Give them the Chance(s)

Kids have boundless imagination and copious creativity. What they need is an outlet to mobilize all their ideas and inventiveness. With enough safe opportunities to play and explore, kids will find their talents and interests. When given the chance to discover, experiment, and (even) fail, children learn about the world and what they are passionate about.

Show Support- Practice Praise

Not everything your kid will take on will interest you. You might find it hard to relate to, or even like, the sport or activity your child chooses. Either way, as their parent, you need to find a way to support the decisions and choices they have made. Your praise and validation give them courage, show your love, and foster closeness.

Giving your kid the space they need to be an individual- reinforced by your unmitigated support- gives them confidence and self-esteem which further inspire them to aspire and achieve greatness. Your son or daughter is more likely to perservere and beat down any obstacles when they know you support them; they won’t give up when things get hard because they know you are there for – and with- them.

Surround them with Positive Role Models

Children are bombarded with all sorts of input and influences. They take their queues from their peers and other role models. It is our job as parents to introduce the right people into their lives. Organizations and youth movements, like the Scouts of America, surround emerging men and women with fantastic role models and get them involved in doing good.

Just like adults, children are inspired by the things and the people they encounter each day. It is through the relationships they build and the bonds they make that they connect to things, ideals, and ideas, much bigger than themselves. Make sure that your child can foster healthy and helpful relationship in all their areas of interest. Let them learn about themselves by connecting to others.

Talk the Talk

Kids need to know they have our attention. When they are talking about their interests, focus on what they are saying, respond to their questions, and share their enthusiasm. Similarly, talk to your children about the things that inspired you to become the adult that you are. Share your successes and your hardships; show them that you, too, worked hard and achieved great things. Make sure they know that you are constantly learning, growing, and even struggling. You want your children to be inspired by the process, not only the results.

Inspiring your children starts from the very minute you become a parent. Young children are extremely receptive and impressionable, which is exactly the right time to motivate them to learn, search, and wonder. Set goals with your kids so that you can productively and positively push them toward achieving them.  Every kid can do and be an infinite number of things. All they need is our love, guidance, and inspiration.

Winter Smart: Staying Warm & Safe

It’s cold outside and we are all just looking for ways to combat the chill. The New York City Fire Department, headquartered at New York City’s Brooklyn Commons, issued some safety tips for staying cozy and cautious this winter.

FDNY at Brooklyn Commons
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Save the Space: Turn off or unplug space heaters when leaving a room. Leaving a space heater unattended increases the chances of a devastating fire. Always place a space heater at least three feet away from any combustible substance.

Shut It: When escaping a fire, closing the door can contain the flames, reduce the damage, and give more people time to get out safely. Prevent fumes, smoke, and heat from spreading to hallways and stairwells by isolating the fire behind a closed door.

FDNY at Brooklyn Commons

Be Alarmed: Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and office. Test them regularly to make sure they are working and replace the batteries frequently. Early detection of a fire or gas is the best way to prevent serious injury and harm.

Call 911: As soon as fire, smoke, or gas is detected, call emergency professionals. Do whatever is necessary to ensure everyone’s safety; do not try to combat the blaze yourself.

Have a Plan: Having—and practicing—a thoughtful fire escape plan ensures that everyone knows what to do in an emergency. Regular fire drills at work and home mean that everyone knows where the closest exit is and how to escape safely. Make sure that all fire exits are clear and properly marked; furniture should never block an escape route.

Keep it Clean: Regular cleaning of hot water heaters, chimneys, furnaces, and boilers is essential. Lint, dirt, and other residues can build up in these appliances and catch flame. Check the user manual or with your landlord for proper instructions on how to clean these machines.

FDNY at Brooklyn Commons

Don’t Be Burned: While thermal burns, caused by flames or hot liquids, are the most common home heat-related injury, frostbite and chemical burns are also a winter hazard. Make sure to wear proper gear when frolicking in the snow or on the ice.

Charter Schools 101

Everyone seems to be talking about charter schools, but how many people really understand what they are, how they work, and what the goals of charter schools are?

The concept of charter schools is relatively new. University of Massachusetts professor Ray Budde first developed the idea of a charter school as an alternative to, but not a replacement for, traditional public school education. Albert Shanker, then the president of the American Federation of Teachers, embraced the idea of charter schools in 1988 when he described the establishment of “schools of choice,” or “charter schools” as a viable answer to the question of how to improve and reform the public school system at the time.

It is important to understand that although charter schools do not have to adhere to many of the restrictions required of traditional public schools, they are nevertheless considered public schools for the following reasons:

•    Charter schools do not charge tuition, which differentiates them in a significant way from private schools; they are completely open to all students who wish to attend.
•    Charter schools are not permitted to discriminate in any way. They are required to be non-sectarian.
•    Funding for charter schools comes from tax dollars based on the number of students in attendance. This is the same source of support which traditional public schools enjoy.
•    Charter schools are held accountable for the same academic standards which conventional public schools are required by law to adhere to according to federal and individual state guidelines.

Nonetheless charter schools have a degree of independence which traditional public schools find difficult, if not impossible, to pursue. Innovative programing and the ability to meet the needs of their particular student bodies set charter schools apart from traditional public schools. Some ways in which charter schools can meet the individual needs of their students are through:
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•    The institution of longer hours if the teachers and/or administrative staff believe that will help improve student outcome.
•    The school’s ability to create curricula which better meet the needs of its particular students.
•    The charter school’s mandate to create a unique academic culture, such as emphasizing arts, science, college prep, or whatever the teachers and/or administration decide should be the school’s focus.
•    The utilization of new, innovative and creative teaching paradigms. Many charter schools have chosen to depart from the traditional method of frontal teaching, exploring alternatives which often better meet the needs of students coming of age in the technological era of the 21st century.

Charter schools are an adjunct to traditional public schools which have dominated the educational landscape in the United States during the past century or more; but it is important to remember that they are not a replacement for them. Learning how charter schools work, what their goals are and how they intend to achieve those goals will help parents make the best possible choice for their children, whether that choice is traditional public schools, or schools within the framework of the charter model.


The Transit of Venus: Now and Then

Today, June 5th, astronomers and space enthusiasts will be able to experience the transit of Venus, a rare planetary alignment that helped scientists map out our solar system many years ago. The second since 2004, the phenomenon won’t occur again until December 2117.

For centuries, astronomers have studied the transit with the goal of estimating the distance between Earth and the sun. Explorers competed for viewing locations, and watched the Venus crossed the sun over a six hour period.

Modern technology has allowed scientists to reach more accurate readings of the distance between our world and the sun, as well as the other planets in our solar system, but the transit of Venus remains an iconic event in astronomic development. The occurrence also aids astronomers in their search for other planets outside our solar system today.
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Morrill Hall Launches “Meteorites and Minerals” Exhibit

Amethyst Cathedral Pair

This past weekend, a new “Meteorites and Minerals” exhibit was launched at Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City campus.

The event curator, Professor Robert Joeckel of the School of Natural Resources, explained that the exhibit was inspired by Roger Pabian, a geologist of the Conservation and Survey Division of the school.

Pabian, a dedicated rock, gem and fossil collector, passed away two years ago at the age of 75, and the new exhibit was established in part to commemorate him.

Joeckel said: “When Roger passed away, I felt somewhat obligated to take over.” He added that some of the minerals from the collection have a direct relation to everyday life. “The one that is most prevalent is the mineral fillers that make products what they are,” he explained. “Synthetic rubbers and plastics have a lot of mineral material in them.”

Joeckel continued, explaining his hopes that the exhibit would lead people to consider materials and their effect on daily life. “Our national security and our everyday lives depend on a flow of raw materials from the solid earth.”
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Some of the minerals, however, are expensive and rare. One of the exhibit’s new purchases is the “Amethyst Cathedral Pair,’ a meteorite containing a big amethyst crystal.

According to University Museum Associate Director Mark Harris, Morrill Hall has never hosted an exhibit as impressive as this. It took over a year to organize, and the items on display were collected through various means. Some were loaned by private collectors, while others were purchased with the help of a Lancaster Country Visitors Improvement Fund grant.

Harris added that he was ecstatic about the new display. “The sheer beauty will blow people’s minds!” he said.


Fighting Child Obesity and Promoting Healthy Eating

Forty Two chefs Michael Selig and Stephen Burrow recently visited Forest Park Elementary School in Little Rock as part of their mission to promote healthy eating in children. Their restaurant is located next to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, and the partners have adopted former president Clinton’s efforts in that area.

“If we change just one of two kids from drinking so much soda or picking up carrots instead of chips, we’ve done something good,” Selig said. “The holidays are synonymous with overindulging on rich food. We don’t want to take away the fun in eating during the holidays, but we want to teach kids to make healthy food choices.”

As a means to achieve this goal, the two chefs have created a program and presented in central Arkansas schools on a monthly basis. Demand grew throughout the state, and now the pair are booked through the end of the school year. The idea was inspired by a culinary day camp which took place last summer at the Clinton Center to fight obesity. According to the foundation’s statistics, one in three adolescents is overweight or obese in the U.S. today.
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“Childhood obesity is one of our country’s most pressing health issues, and the problem is even more prevalent in the South,” explained Stephanie S. Streett of the Clinton Foundation. “The Clinton Center and Forty Two are proud to be a part of the ongoing solution by educating and, more importantly, empowering children to understand food and lifestyle choices.”