Monthly Archives: January 2013

Stress Free Sick Days

As colds and a host of flu varieties rages across North America this winter, your family may be affected by children who are not able to attend school. If your child starts showing signs of illness, it’s imperative that you keep them home from school so that they don’t infect other students too. This can be easier said than done. With busy, working parents, for some families, sick days can mean a stressful reshuffling. Here’s some suggestions on how to cope:

Plan ahead
At some point, almost every student gets ill and has to take a sick day. Having a plan in advance can make the transition seamless and less stressful for the whole family. Ask your support network of neighbors  friends, family members and other parents who could possibly help out when your children are ill. Make a list of potential helpers that you can contact in a pinch. This way you will have a whole list of people you can contact and hopefully get the help you need.
Discuss telecommuting options with your company. Losing a vacation day to stay home with a sick student really cuts into your holidays, but most companies will make allowances for telecommuting where necessary and possible. Knowing your options and having a contingency plan in advance will minimize sick-day panic and stress for you and your child.

Know the rules
Part of your contingency planning for sick days should include knowledge of the rules surrounding your student’s sick days. Know who to contact when your student is too sick to go to school and have contact details written down. You should also have some contact details of the teachers or students who can gather work for your student so that they don’t fall behind when they are ill.
Knowing your student’s school regulations will also mean you are able to get a doctor’s note when they miss more than a few days or when they miss exams and tests due to illness. Your prime concern should be for the speedy recovery of your student. This means that, although they should make an effort to keep up with their schoolwork, they should also have sufficient time to rest and recover.

Prevent the spread of illnesses
Give your students (especially younger members of your household) a quick recap on how to prevent the spread of illnesses. Remind them to put their hands in front of their mouths when sneezing and coughing. Discourage the sharing of utensils or food and drink. Make sure that your sick student has their own towel and get everyone in the family to wash their hands more often than they normally would. This will prevent other members of your household from falling ill too.

Also keep track of when and how much medicine is given. Put one adult in charge of this and read the labels of all medicines you are giving. Never take this lightly…the misuse of pain relievers like Tylenol can have serious effects on your child now and for the rest of their life. Always ask your pharmacist or doctor if you are confused or unsure. the internet can also be a great source of information but always try to get more then one source of information just as you should with healthcare professionals.

If your child had a tutor or some other in-home instructor make sure you contact them and inform them of the situation. Also remember not to send your child back to school too early. Ensure that their temperatures have been normal for at least 24 hours and that they are completely healed before attend school again. Some things are just not fun too share!


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Do Boys and Girls Learn Differently?

While individual personality and ability play large roles in determining how your student learns, research shows us that boys’ and girls’ brains are also wired differently and they tend to approach learning from different angles. Learning which approach best suits your student’s learning style will help you to provide support that really works.

In general boys learn better with visual aids and movement. Girls, on the other hand, prefer to learn through discussing and working with others. Knowing how to present information in a way that makes it easier for them to digest is a great way to help your students to study.

After School Activity
If you want your students to do their homework or work with the in-home tutor, it’s best not to schedule these activities right after the school day has ended. Just like you, your students need to decompress after a long day. Boys are more likely to play a video game, play sport or do something physical while girls want to talk about their day. Ever wondered why your daughter will spend all day at school with her friends, but then phone them the minute she walks in the door? It’s just her way of processing the events of the day.

Movement is a great way to get some exercise, de-stress and get some fresh air. Encouraging physical activities like a game of basketball or walking the dog are the perfect way to get some downtime before homework.

Homework help for boys
Understand that boys need to move around and incorporate that into your homework routine. Set short periods of working interspersed with activities for example, get your student to work for fifteen minutes and then play basketball for fifteen minutes. You can incorporate movement into homework tasks too like throwing a ball to each other while spelling words or making a map on the floor and asking them to walk to different countries when they are studying geography. Acting out plays or scenes from English books is a great way for them to understand and remember what happens.

Boys develop language skills later than girls do, so you may want to monitor progress and get an English tutor if necessary. Encourage reading to help your student to improve his vocabulary and communication skills.

Homework help for girls
Get your girls moving. Girls are better at sitting still and may want to watch TV when they have free time, but getting them to move will encourage creativity and problem solving. When your student is having trouble with her homework, discuss the problem with her and try to explain it in a different way. Monitor math and science scores and get a math tutor if she is struggling.

(Note: This blog entry was adapted from a Jan. 25, 2013 entry on the Tutor Doctor corporate web site)

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First Pink Slime…

…Now ‘Meat Glue’!  Yesterday a vegetarian friend sent me a news video describing the use of ‘Meat Glue’ in Australia. Seems the practice is legal in the USA as reported in the LA  Times and other news outlets almost a year ago.  However, the use of ‘Meat Glue’ is banned in the European Union (EU) due to concerns of fraudulent marketing and sale of scrap or chunk meat as whole steaks or fillets and the potential of bacteria growth within the glued pieces that may not be fully cooked. For a better description of the EU perspective you can check out ‘Food Safety Alert: The Problem With Meat Glue‘.

Meat Glue is technically called thrombian, or transglutaminase (TG). It is an enzyme produced from the blood of pigs and cows. From what I’m reading the general use of the product is to produce ‘whole’ steaks like tenderloin but imitation crab meat, chicken nuggets and skinless sausages or hotdogs often use the glue as well. I just looked on a couple of packages in my fridge of imitation crab and lobster meat also known as surimi but thrombian is not listed. What seems to be the binder is tapioca and pea starch. Glue is probably not used in the packages I have because the product is also exported and sold in EU countries.

For me the issue of meat glue is the potential selling of products as something it is not and paying a great deal more for it. Plus, I generally like my steaks, that I eat very infrequently, to be rare so the chance of the microbes being killed are reduced should I get a glued steak.

Bottom line is that knowing about this meat glue like arsenic in rice and pink slime is important in your attempt to eat healthy. Getting closer to the food source,  knowing how things are grown/produced and purchasing whole and fresh tends to be the best protection against food industry gimmicks. Learning how to make your own chicken nuggets from whole chicken breasts is not difficult (see All, takes 40 minutes and it will certainly spare you the ingestion of dozens of chemicals. It is also a great family activity!




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Sunday Morning Shout Out

A couple of weeks ago National Public Radio, (NPR) featured a segment on a Maryland Math teacher who has made a connection to his students through rap music.  The segment was titled ‘2 Pi: Rhymes And Radii‘ and in it Montgomery Blair School High Math teacher Jake Scott, rap alias 2 Pi, explains how he uses rap to  sustain the attention of his students; teach quadratic equations and other complex math theorem; and sprinkle in public service type of announcements about personal behavior, relationships, and respect for parents.  Scott explains that this generation is a generation with a short attention span, who is used to abundant and ever changing media to keep their attention. He makes use of rap as one of his tools to accomplish this feat, which can be daunting for any teacher today.

For Scott or 2 Pi, it is all about connection. He states that one of his most important goals as a teacher is to make meaningful connections with students.   Talking about all the hurdles he faced and young people face today he says, “ …We can preach to kids until they turn blue and we turn blue, but if there is no connection, then there’s no response.”  He also doubles as the school’s wrestling coach, an activity he credits as saving him from the negative outcomes of many peers who got involved in drugs and other criminal activity.  Jake Scott made a profound connection with his wrestling team as a young adolescent who was veering down the wrong path quickly, something he desperately wants to offer his students and the team he coaches.

It sometimes takes that special teacher.  For me, it was an English teacher named Miss Smith. She made this fledgling young writer feel confident and worthwhile in what she wrote and offered from her perspective in class. That translated far beyond junior English class and being sixteen years-old.  Finding confidence in one area as a teenager and certainly as an adult can have such a ripple effect throughout life.  No matter what I have done and what I do, writing grounds me and so meaningful to me.

If your student is struggling, perhaps she needs to connect with that one teacher, coach or tutor that makes her feel worthwhile.  Maybe it is joining wrestling, art club, science club, or drama club that forges an increased connection to school and greater self-esteem.  If there are barriers in these areas, I encourage you to break them and help deliver your child to the next level…

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Filed under Academic Advice, Improved Learning, My Experiences, Parenting

Sick Days Chronicle

sick cartoonSo I started and finished a post similar to this on Wednesday. However, I gave the computer a burp and sadly lost the original. A couple more days have passed and our daughter has still not fully recovered from the fever, cough and runny nose. So lets look at the last couple of days and the brilliance of our medical system. I’ll hold some of the thoughts I had from the lost post on home schooling, standardized testing and Kindergarten for another day.

So…We had taken our daughter to the doctor’s office on Monday after the fever that started on Saturday evening wouldn’t break on Sunday. We thought we’d be a bit more proactive than in the past taking her to the doctor’s office since there were cases of Strep Throat at her school earlier in the week. At the office they took a swab and the initial test was negative for Strep. That was good. However, it was also bad since the ‘true’ results from the sample would not be available until Thursday. Thus, the physicians assistant (we rarely see the ‘real’ doctor) did not prescribe any type of ‘-cillin since if it was Strep it needed to be treated by one type while the normal Amoxicillin we have gotten in the past when our daughter was sick only treated normal fluish / respiratory illnesses.

On that Monday doctor visit the physicians assistant did give us a script for steroids (Prelone), but looking at what it treats (see below) we decided it was not in our daughters best interest so we did not fill it. The physicians assistant also suggested our daughter get a flu shot. I have a bit of a problem with that because 1. I don’t think flu shots are of any benefit, 2. My friend’s sister got one six years ago at CVS and became paralyzed from it and is still disabled from it. CVS takes no responsibility for it and the producer and suppliers are all protected by a variety of State and Federal laws. The next time you get a flu shot take a moment to read the paper they make you sign. and 3. My daughter is already sick, so why would I put her body through the introduction of more viruses and junk into her body?

So Thursday came along and we called the doctor’s office about 8:30am. They didn’t seem to remember there was supposed to be follow-up lab results and they needed to call back when they found the results. That took 5 hours and they said it was not Strep and that they faxed a prescription to our drug store for Amoxicillin. So I got that about 4pm and started my daughter on it right away. Already this morning she is showing improvement as of 5am Friday! How nice it would have been if they had just prescribed this on Monday! It seems that now instead of prescribing -cillins for everything the new fad is to prescribe steroids for everything.

What is also a bit troubling is that I asked the secretary from the doctor’s office who called with the Strep results and news of the Amoxicillin prescription about continuing to control her fever she suggested we us Tylenol (acetaminophen). I had to laugh to myself on that because it is well documented that extended us of Tylenol (acetaminophen) especially on children can cause liver failure and damage. To help avoid this we alternate between Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil or Motrin. If we had continued using Tylenol (acetaminophen) straight through this it would have been six days. I worked with a woman whose son went to ICU because of liver failure 15 years ago and he now has behavioral problems. She used Tylenol (acetaminophen) for his fever at the time and yet the physicians nor government would recognize that it was due to the Tylenol. Sad…if you now look at any bottle of Tylenol (acetaminophen) you clearly see the warning about potential liver damage from extended use. Also note that if we had used the Steroid script with our daughter there are warnings against using Advil for the fever

Welp, I didn’t recreate that lost post, but I’ll try again tomorrow. For now I think the point here is to be VERY careful with any medication, do research, read label and don’t be afraid to question your doctor. Remember they are human and can make mistakes.

Prelone – Treats inflammation (swelling), allergies, arthritis, asthma, skin conditions, kidney problems, and many other medical problems. Also treats flare-ups of ongoing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. May be used for some symptoms of cancer. This medicine is a corticosteroid (steroid).

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Lost Post

I did it again! Sad to say that I just spent 45 minutes on a post and I just lost it. I’ll recreate it tomorrow, but for now I’m mad at myself for not following my own rule of manually saving the draft every 5-10 minutes! WordPress usually does not lose material when you are writing but there are times it does some odd things. Most of the time I can trace it to me so this is not a rant on WordPress.

So once again….save your draft manually every 5-10 minutes

  • save your draft manually every 5-10 minutes
  • save your draft manually every 5-10 minutes
  • save your draft manually every 5-10 minutes

For now I gotta go take care of my sick daughter and work with her on her English.

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Smart Phone In The Classroom

Mobile phones are universally disliked by teachers and parents. Both are concerned with the constant thumb twiddling teenage obsession with texting. Most educators are well aware of the distraction mobile devices pose in a classroom because multitasking just means that you are doing several things badly. Noisy phones disturb other students and disrupt class.

However, some teachers have decided to make peace with their cell phone nemesis and are not banning phone from their classrooms anymore. Instead, they are realizing the value of the Smartphone as a pedagogic tool of great import.

Although most teachers still prefer to banish the phones during lectures, students are increasingly being encouraged to utilize cell phones to do research, record lab findings or coordinate group projects. Students can make video recordings of experiments or demonstrations to review when they are studying for exams or take pictures of diagrams and whiteboard notes that could prove helpful to them.

Teachers who have implemented the use of Smartphones claim that students are more involved in lectures and abuse their cell phone privileges less as use is not completely banned. Students are able to read their textbooks online and look up the latest news and information available on the subject the teacher is teaching. They are easily able to share this information with other students in the class. Apps designed for students help them with formulas in math, the periodic table in science and facts in history.

Of course some students will use their class Smartphone time to text, post on their social media platforms, watch Youtube or play games. Many of these students lack a sense of academic responsibility that would have them not paying attention even if cell phones were banned, says high school teacher Bob Kutschel. He claims that using Smartphones in his science class has helped students to stay abreast of the latest scientific developments.

Kutschel allows students to record demonstration lab experiments and watch Youtube videos of the same experiments on their phones. “I would not say that students get better grades by using their Smartphones,” Kuschel said. “What I’d say is that their interest level increases. They find the information they need by themselves and they ask better questions in class. They’re also reading the current science news because they know I’m going to bring it up and they want to be prepared.”

Most teachers find that allowing the students to harness the vast library of knowledge the Internet offers while trusting them to be responsible only encourages them to excel. Some students will use their class time to follow other pursuits, and others may use it to cheat on tests and assignments, but it’s still better to utilize the positive capabilities of cell phones in schools than fight the endless battle of getting students to stop using them altogether. After all, if you can’t beat them, join them!

Note: This post was originally published on the Tutor Doctor Corporate blog on Jan  27, 2012

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