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Lorna Sheridan: Education Roundup Jan. 3

Fewer children: California’s birth rate has fallen to its lowest levels in modern history, according to new Department of Finance estimates. The state’s next-lowest birth rate was in 1933, during the Great Depression. The birth rate of 12.42 live births per 1,000 people is down from a rate of 13.69 per 1,000 people in 2010. While the births among native-born residents is slowing, net migration to California from other parts of the U.S. and countries continues to add to the state’s population, however. Researchers guess at several reasons, most centered around residents marrying later. tinyurl.com/gvhjd7w

Free shipping to Goodwill: If you bought your children lots of gifts via Amazon this Christmas you might consider participating in its Give Back Box program. You can use your leftover Amazon boxes to ship donations for free to Goodwill Industries. Goodwill not only operates retail thrift stores, but also has extensive employment support and training programs for the disadvantaged and disabled, funded by the sale of donated items. To participate, simply pack a box with the items you no longer need (no electronics, liquids, or fragile or hazardous items), print off a pre-paid shipping label at Give Back Box, and then either drop them off at the post office or UPS location. There is no limit to the number of boxes (and no weight limit), but each box requires its own shipping label. givebackbox.com/

New public TV for kids: A new channel running 24/7 will replace KQED Kids in the Bay Area beginning Jan. 16. In addition to the new on-air channel, PBS KIDS on KQED features free services including a live video stream and interactive games for children on various digital platforms. The effort is KQED’s initiative to support early learning in the community. KQED will broadcast PBS KIDS on channel 54.4 and 25.3 or live streamed at pbskids.org. The site promises that games offered online will align with the learning goals of each TV series, deepening children’s involvement and supporting learning. The shows to be aired include Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Odd Squad, Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train, Splash and Bubbles, Nature Cat and Ready Jet. kqed.org/tv/.

Most popular college in the U.S: UCLA is the first U.S. university ever to receive 100,000 freshman applications. 102,177 students are seeking a spot in the Class of 2021, up 5 percent from last year. The target size for the entering class is about 6,500. Those figures don’t include tens of thousands of expected transfer applicants. tinyurl.com/glkarct

Book sale: The Friends of the Sonoma Valley Library is hosting a mini book sale on Friday, Jan. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. These sales are limited in size and scope and presented in a way that hopefully allows the “locals” to browse and buy books in a more relaxed manner than the sometimes crowded quarterly book sales. The usual pricing will be in place, $2 for hardcover, $1 for paperbacks.

Check list for college kids: I can’t resist a good list by which to rate my parenting. Psychology Today recently ran an article of 40 things students need to know by the time they leave college. Some are obvious (how to do laundry and how often to change bed linens), but here are a few that might be commonly overlooked (tinyurl.com/hy459v4)

• How to address an envelope

• How to scan a document and how to send an attachment in e-mail.

• How to answer a landline and how to use call waiting on a landline.

• When not to text and when to call.

• How to pump gas and check your oil.

• How to fill out forms at a medical office and how to have all the correct information handy to do this.

• Learn to distinguish between real news and fake news; get your news from many different sources and not just social media.

Parenting preteen boys: One of the best articles I have read about parenting pre-teen boys appeared in the Wall Street Journal right before Christmas. Most boys lag behind girls in language skills, empathy and attention during these years, according to recent studies. The article suggest ways to explain this to boys and to bolster their development and confidence during these crucial developmental (and tough) years. tinyurl.com/z9ju76e

Brighten: A new anonymous app is growing in popularity among high school and college students and finally that’s a good thing. Brighten enables students to send anonymous compliments to their friends, and it’s a place to read the nice things people are saying to each other. You can also use the app to let someone know you are thinking about them. Users can swipe left on any brighten they’ve written or received to delete it, or swipe left on any brighten to report it. To date, more than 10 million messages have been sent by its one million users. brighten.in

Holiday cheer: Altimira Middle School Principal Will Deeths reported that just before Christmas, Altimira received an envelope from an anonymous donor filled with $100 in cash. He said that the money will be used to pay any overdrawn lunch accounts for its students. “What an incredible Valley we live in,” he added.

Kids Christmas Bird Count: The ninth annual Kids Bird Count (CBC4Kids) is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14. It’s a really nice free half day family outdoor experience for ages 5 to15. Learn more at sonomabirding.com.

Girls and moms: G3 Sonoma is hosting a one-day workshop entitled “Don’t Roll Your Eyes at Me” for mothers and teen daughters on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Ramekins. It’s billed as a day for daughters and moms to “connect, create and cultivate.” Visit g3sonoma.com for more information.

Educator workshop: Ann Marie Sebastiani, a local, school leadership coach and speaker, is holding an “Educators Dare to Dream” workshop on Saturday, Jan. 28, at MacArthur Place Hotel. Topics will include mindfulness, passion, self-care, emotional intelligence. Learn more at http://imagination.am/

Theater kids: There is one last chance to join BBK’s next show, “Hairspray.” Kids ages 4 and up are invited to register to join the musical production by emailing sonomadance@gmail.com. Rehearsals start in January and run on Monday evenings at Sonoma Methodist Church on Patten.

Learning a second language: People who learn more than one language are less likely to develop dementia; they are more creative; and they have an easier time learning a third language. Researchers also believe that language learning also improves tolerance. This seems increasingly important in today’s world. Read more at tinyurl.com/zvmbeu9

School tours: Woodland Star Charter School will be hosting school tours (for adults) from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25. Call 996-3849 to sign up. St. Francis Solano School is hosting an open house on Friday, Jan. 27 at 9:30 a.m. To register or to schedule a private tour, call 996-4994 or email stf.schooloffice@saintfrancissolano.org.

Fun app: Among Time Magazine’s top ten apps of the year is the puzzle game, A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build. Players fashion snowballs from strips of snow by swiping to roll, then stacking them in threes, large-medium-small. Each garden has challenges to navigate, from ornamental bird baths and birdhouses to rows of potted plants. $4.99. The complete list is at time.com/4579066/the-top-10-apps-2016/

Send story ideas, questions and comments to ourschools@sonomanews.com.