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Hunger and Homework

by Behnosh Najafi | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, Workshops & Training

How hungry are children in Washington compared to other states? How can I help? How can I help children and youth with their homework?   Thank you to the Washington News Service for helping get the word out on the variety of topics that concern the afterschool and youth development field. The first article includes on our own trainer, Karen Summers.

For Frustrated Families, Strategies for Homework Help

Chris Thomas, Public News Service-WA

(1/17/13) SEATTLE – Homework does not have to be a battle between kids and parents. At a workshop in Seattle today, after-school care providers are learning strategies to help kids of all ages with their homework assignments. The trainer, Karen Summers with School’s Out Washington, says parents can use the same tips. Adults can and should be involved in their kids’ homework, as long as they do not do it for them, she says.

Part of the adult’s role is to encourage a routine and good work habits that help the child learn responsibility, Summers explains.

“It’s important to help children learn how to go about doing a task like homework – how to organize themselves, how to decide what order to do things in. The other critical piece is how much time it takes to do a homework task.”

Summers describes her approach as “ask, listen and encourage,” and she says it works – even with older teens. She recommends sitting down with kids of any age and talking them through a tough assignment. That starts by asking questions that don’t have “yes or no” answers, she suggests.

“Sometimes those questions are reflective questions, meaning we’re asking children to think about something, trying to find the thread. So ask ‘What do you already know? Tell me what you already know and let’s build on that.'”

Summers says it’s too easy to complain about homework on a busy evening or weekend. Instead, she cautions adults to keep their comments positive and to not hesitate to contact the teacher for ideas. She says homework should be seen as part of a bigger picture, and making it more of a partnership can strengthen the relationship between parent and child.


Report: WA Schools Could Work Harder to End Hunger

Chris Thomas, Public News Service-WA

(01/15/13) SEATTLE – Washington is making some progress in ending hunger at schools, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), but not at the pace other states have shown. The group’s School Breakfast Scorecard finds almost 44 percent of Washington pupils who receive free or reduced-price lunches also get breakfast at school, but that’s far from its national goal of more than 50 percent.

Nadia Beckwith-Stanley, food policy associate with The Children’s Alliance, says it’s disappointing, but she points out that schools are juggling other food-related priorities, too.

“School food-service programs are in the throes of some pretty dramatic changes, implementing some really great menu changes and menu improvements for school meals. And so, a lot of folks are moving a little bit more slowly than we’d like on school breakfast, but we are seeing movement.”

Washington’s school-breakfast participation is up 5.5 percent from a year ago, and Beckwith-Stanley says that’s much better than the 1.6 percent increase it saw in the previous year. Overall, the state is ranked 39th in terms of school-breakfast program availability.

Crystal FitzSimons, FRAC’s director of school programs, says some of the most successful school breakfast programs don’t happen in the cafeteria. Instead, kids eat breakfast during their first class period, which doesn’t single anyone out, or require that some children get to school earlier.

“We call that breakfast in the classroom or ‘grab-and-go’ breakfast. And so, the kids are able to eat with their classmates. They eat while the teacher is taking attendance or doing the first morning lesson, and they’re able to start the school day ready to learn because they’ve had a healthy breakfast.”

The report says about 160,000 Washington schoolchildren eat free or reduced-price breakfasts at school, and another 95,000 could be eligible. See it online at FRAC.org.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/30329-1

FUNDING NOW AVAILABLE: Improve access to summer meals by hosting a literacy program in your rural town! Apply for a Feed Your Brain grant today to make it happen. Applications now available.

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