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What To Do As School Resumption Dates Are Postponed!

Due to the importance of the need to contain the spread of the dreaded #EbolaVirus, the federal government has moved the resumption date for all private and public schools to the 13th of October, 2014. This further extends the holiday time for all children, to an average of 3-6 weeks. The news has obviously come with mixed feelings.

Some parents are excited that they get to spend more time with their kids and do not have to begin the process of 'school runs' or just excited to be able to add more time to their holidays away from home. On the other side of the divide, is another group of people who are wondering how they would be able to manage the additionally enforced holidays effectively. It is a situation that was just unplanned for. 

One thing that all parents must do therefore is to awaken time management. Kids do get bored easily and it would be absolutely important for parents to figure out engaging activities to occupy this period of time. At this time, kids know they should have begun school and are beginning to get into the groove of learning. So, here are some tips you should try.

1. Discuss the reasons why they have to be home explaining the importance of the federal government's decision. What a great way of getting children to learn strategies of decision making on a national level!

2. Talk extensively on why this time was designed for learning and should be used for that specifically. Here, you are teaching responsibility.

3. Act like a teacher! (It doesn't seem to me that you have a choice in this time anyway). Create a time table of key concepts or topics to be practiced on a daily basis especially for subjects like Math, Language and Sciences. It could include topics learnt in the last school year that needs to be reinforced. Practice makes perfect! For those who can get into their natural born teacher instincts, this will be fun! Be careful to do this in age appropriateness by assuming some limits. Remind your child to show dedication and responsibility. 

4. Reward good behaviour always - not in monetary terms but with frequent hugs and positive comments. You could take a nice walk - a phenomena most people do not get to share with their kids in #Nigeria. Talk about climate change (google it if you need to know more about it), and identify things in the environment during your walk that could help you make up a great conversation with your child. Do this within your neighbourhood for safety.

5. Talk about their dreams! Ask them what their dreams are. No child is too young to dream. Discuss what the possibilities are in positive ways. This is a good time for you to find out a lot more about your child's interests. Ask them to write about it and when you get back from work, review it with them. For kids within the early childhood stage, they could be made to express theirs in drawing and colouring their pictures. This makes a good strategy to help them build essay writing skills. You are helping with corrections where necessary and appreciating their work all the time. 

6. Ask your kids to redecorate. It could be their room, your room or the living room. Ask them to come up with ideas of what can be done and how to go about it. If plans fall within budget for you to buy anything, go ahead and have fun with them. If not, then have them rearrange existing stuff or recreate with available materials. Remember, this is age restrictive but all kids can participate fully in their own little ways.

7. Create time for indoor sports and games too. Depending on the age group, it could be simple tasks such as asking them to try bouncing a ball 20 - 200 times, skipping with a jump rope or building castles with cardboards...yes, it's doable!

These are to mention a few. All of the above and more could make up your daily time table. Get into your creative juice! You will definitely find many more great ideas.

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Zero-Tolerance Policies Don't Make Schools Safer

I would support zero-tolerance policies in schools only if they properly serve as a deterrent to an infectious spread of misdemeanour. 

A zero-tolerance policy in schools is a policy that punishes any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances. Common zero-tolerance policies concern possession or use of illicit drugs or weapons, stealing, use of verbal and physical abuse, examination malpractice, smoking, discrimination and harassment, derogatory remarks and disrespectful gestures. 

These policies are promoted in order to prevent drug abuse and many forms of violence in schools. 

What we know for a fact is that it is equally important for those policies to be supported with effective counselling and rehabilitation programmes for affected persons.

Below is an excerpt from Mark Phillips, a teacher and education journalist (on a myth busting journey) that sheds light on zero-tolerance policies in schools. He basically busted the myth that suggests that zero tolerance policies make schools safer. It would be useful for school administrators to embrace these ideologies.

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"This strikes me as one of the most colossally wrong-headed and destructive of the myths. Berliner and Glass describe numerous examples of this policy being implemented destructively, including one in which two students were suspended because one shared her inhaler with a friend who was having an asthma attack. Most importantly, there is no evidence that zero tolerance policies decrease school violence. To the contrary, the authors note that "suspensions and expulsions have far-reaching implications for a student's academics and can set them up for failure in their personal lives." Zero tolerance policies have resulted in school officials routing record numbers of students through the juvenile justice system, students who are then more likely to also end up in an adult prison later on. And, not surprisingly, all of the unintended effects associated with zero-tolerance policies in schools are multiplied for non-whites.

The authors also give examples of some schools that are learning from this research. As one example, after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, teachers, parents, and administrators are focused on crisis preparedness and the politics of the gun debate, not on stricter policing of students."

It is my hope that we can all learn from history and experience. For more busted myths, click Edutopia.