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Virginia Journal of Education

Your Classroom

Help Fathers Be Part
of the School Picture

For a variety of reasons, fathers are often overlooked in the parental involvement process or are not as involved in the education of their children. Here are a few tips to help you reach out to the fathers of your students:

. Father-child breakfasts, lunches or dinners could provide an informal setting in which to meet teachers and school staff members. Adult male friends, grandfathers and father substitutes can also be encouraged to come.

. During parent-teacher conferences, try to draw out the views of fathers and offer them suggestions on ways to help children learn more at home.

. For school leadership positions, such as PTA officers or advisory committee members, seek a balance of fathers and mothers.

. Fill volunteer positions from among both fathers and mothers who can arrange to be free during the school day to help with activities such as being classroom aides or chaperons on field trips. The presence of fathers or even older men as hall monitors may help reduce school discipline problems.

. Invite fathers to help with special projects, such as judging contests or constructing exhibit booths or play scenery.

. Provide training and opportunities for fathers and other men to serve as student tutors and to mentor students in long-term relationships.

Math Program
Expands Offerings

MATHCOUNTS, a 25-year-old nationwide program best known for its math competition, is expanding its curriculum offerings this year and introducing the MATHCOUNTS Club Program, which is designed to stimulate math interest for teachers and students who do not want to be involved in competitions with other schools. Club materials encourage group activities and collaborative learning to develop students' mathematical abilities.

MATHCOUNTS is an enrichment, coaching and competition program aimed at middle school students, and lists the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, NASA, Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments among its national sponsors. Curriculum materials are free.

For more information, visit .

NEA Newsletter
Aids Online Safety

With all the publicity surrounding social networking websites, educators are well aware of the risks that many young people run by using such sites improperly. Still, the inescapable fact is that millions of students use the sites regularly to connect and interact socially.

Because the kids are often more savvy about online social networking than their teachers or parents, it can be intimidating to try to help young people stay safer in such environments. But it "is part of the job," say the creators of a new online publication from NEA's Health Information Network (NEA HIN), which cooperated on the project with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Sprint. The result is a bi-monthly e-newsletter, called bNetS@vvy , which gives adults tools to increase the online safety of children ages 9-14.

The newsletter offers expert advice on social networking and other online pastimes for youngsters, including the benefits of such activities, such as promoting creativity and self-expression. But the risks, including the threat of online predators, cyberbullies, distraction from schoolwork and interpersonal relationships, accidental downloading of viruses, and illegal file-sharing, must be addressed.

To see the first issue and to subscribe, go to the bNetS@vvy page at .

Reaching Out to
Future Students

We all know that a child's learning begins long before he or she sets foot in a kindergarten-or even preschool-classroom. To help children along in the developmental process, the United Way has created a campaign and website called Born Learning.

The campaign and accompanying materials are designed to give parents and caregivers information on how to create quality learning opportunities for young children, with a special focus on the idea of reading to them for 30 minutes a day, beginning at birth. At the website, , there are tips for learning on the go, answers to care questions for young children, fact sheets on a child's ages and developmental stages, and more. It's all also available in Spanish.

Nominate a Teacher
for the Hall of Fame

Every year, the National Teachers Hall of Fame honors five teachers for their outstanding ability, commitment and dedication to teaching America's children. Should someone you know be considered for the Hall's Class of 2008?

Anyone can nominate a teacher that they believe is deserving. However, candidates must be certified classroom teachers with at least 20 years of experience in grades preK-12.

Nomination forms can be found at the Hall of Fame's website, , or by calling (800)-96-TEACH. Deadline for submission is January 1, 2008.


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