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Art schools, kinder enrollment, the Newsoms, meditation, praise and gratitude

Schools Education

Lorna Sheridan/Index-Tribune Education Editor

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Save the date of Monday, Feb. 3, to hear Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom discuss the gender and cultural themes introduced in her award-winning documentary, “Miss Representation.” The speaker series event will be held at the Sebastiani Theatre and is hosted by the Sonoma Mentoring Alliance. Broadcast journalist Sydnie Kohara will moderate the discussion. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youth ages 13 to 18. Tickets are available at sonomamentoring.org.

You can get discounted passes to more than a dozen Bay Area attractions including the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium and the Oakland Zoo, simply by visiting discover.sonomalibrary.org. You just need a library card to access the savings. Just one more great thing that our public library system does for us!

Common Sense Media recommends five important media resolutions that every family should make in 2014.

Make a detailed schedule that ensures a balance of screen time and other activities.

• Get to know your child’s favorite device. Have them show you their favorite games, apps, etc. You will understand their interest better and you will be better able to assess needed safety and privacy controls.

• Review behavior do’s and don’ts with first-time users. They should have to ask you before they go online and should understand a site’s rule and how to recognize red flags (like someone asking them for private information).

• Establish a charging station in your bedroom and make sure kids hand over all their devices before bed.

• Model the right behavior by never texting and driving or it is hard to expect them to do the right thing when they are alone behind the wheel.

I wish I had thought of these when my children were younger as the longer you wait to establish truly common-sense guidelines like this, the harder it is. I suggest you link acceptance of these guidelines to every new device you purchase. I wish I had.

A new set of studies has found that high praise can actually make some children feel worse about themselves. The name of the study is: “That’s Not Just Beautiful – That’s Incredibly Beautiful: The Adverse Impact of Inflated Praise on Children with Low Self-Esteem.” While it might be counter-intuitive, researchers found that when adults give excessive compliments to children with low confidence, the children were less likely to pursue challenges. http://tinyurl.com/qx4yjmc

A recent Wall Street Journal story came to the conclusion that kids who understand gratitude get better grades and are less likely to get depressed. The author, Diana Knapp, suggests that gratitude is a muscle that must be exercised and saying thanks at dinner on the 364 days a year that are not Thanksgiving can help. The author cites a study from 2008 where sixth- and seventh-graders were assigned to list five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks. It found they had a better outlook on school and greater life satisfaction three weeks later, compared with kids assigned to list five hassles. Depressingly, the author also cites a recent large-scale study that tracked materialism among high school seniors and found that desire for lots of money has increased markedly since the mid-1970s, while willingness to work hard to earn it has decreased. http://tinyurl.com/npkd88j

Sonoma Valley Unified School District will host a kindergarten information night on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Altimira Middle School. The event will include information on SVUSD educational and enrichment programs, daily kinder schedules, and Common Core State Standards as well as registration procedures and dates, transitional kindergarten, dual immersion lottery and charter school registration. Light appetizers will be provided by the Sonoma Valley High School culinary program and there will be a performance by El Verano Glee. Children must be 5 years of age by Dec. 2, for kindergarten or transitional kindergarten for the 2014-15 school year. Kindergarten Registration Night will follow on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Contact Maite Iturri with any questions at 935-6050.

Students who enjoy poetry will love the county-wide Poetry Out Loud event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., in Santa Rosa. The contest, which will feature top scoring students from Analy, Cloverdale, Creekside, El Molino, Elsie Allen, Maria Carrillo, Montgomery, Piner, Rancho Cotate, Roseland University Prep, Santa Rosa and Sonoma Academy high schools. The winner advances to the state competition. Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation program initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts.

If your student loves science, there is a very inspiring story about the young winner of the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in 2012 in this week’s Baltimore Sun. Jack Andraka is 16 years old, he is openly gay and he attends public school in Maryland. He invented an early-stage test for pancreatic cancer. His parents speak eloquently in the article about their strategies to encourage their son and to expose him to as much as possible, while still letting him be a kid and enjoy his interests. http://touch.baltimoresun.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-78754377/

San Francisco Unified School District made the national news last week for its innovative school mediation program. While 61 percent of its student population qualifies for the federally funded free or reduced lunch program, the district’s standardized test scores continue to rise and meet yearly state and federal benchmarks. Is it possibly because of a new approach to tackling student stress? Since 2007, the district has included transcendental meditation lessons into twice-daily “quiet time” periods – 15-minute breaks in all classrooms. Other benefits include reductions in truancy and discipline problems to which they credit this program.

The community is invited to attend ArtQuest Arts College Day from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16,at the Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave., in Santa Rosa. Top visual and performing arts and liberal arts colleges from across the country will present information on various majors, arts-related careers, summer programs, undergraduate and graduate degrees and financial aid.

The Presentation School offers after-school enrichment classes that are open to all students in the community. The newest “Perks” six-week session starts on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Classes are from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. or 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays and most are for grades K-8. This session’s classes include chess, computer coding/programming, elgo robotics, indoor soccer (futsal), crochet, creative card making and a movie fun club. Visit presentationschool.com to register.

Justin-Siena High School in Napa is having a Winter Open House for current and prospective families from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16.

There will be a special e-waste fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Adele Harrison Middle School to benefit the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Recycle your tvs, monitors, laptops, cell phones and ink jet cartridges or shred your documents.

There is a Cash for College Workshop at Sonoma Valley High School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. Stop by the College & Career Center for the list of materials students should bring with them. Experts will help students to complete the FAFSA, the primary financial aid form required by colleges.

Disaster Hero is a free online game designed to teach children (grades 1 through 8), parents, and teachers how to prepare for disasters. The goal is to ensure that kids know what to do before, during, and after a disaster. Disasterhero.com

Mary’s Pizza Shack will support Sonoma Valley Teen Services with a Dine & Donate Fundraiser on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Mary’s will donate 20 percent of dine in, take out and delivery orders all day if you bring a flyer (available at svteensorg).

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission is hosting its Youth Grapevine Pruning Contest and Viticulture Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 9:30 a.m. at SRJC Shone Farm, 7450 Steve Olson Lane, in Forestville. Entry forms are due Wednesday, Jan. 15. The free contest is open to all Sonoma County youth, ages 5 to 19 and admission is free. For pruning contest entries, contact Pat Stornetta at 938-4011 or patstornetta@comcast.net. For information on the Viticulture Challenge, contact Christine Neles at 938-0730 or chrismneles@aol.com. sonomawinegrape.org.