The Pathway to Our Kids’ Well-being and Anecdote to Violence – A Must-Read Book

‘It’s impossible not to be changed on the inside after being at the Seeds of Peace Camp,’ a refugee from Somalia told me (writer, Michele Borba). ‘Once you see that other people have the same worri…

Source: The Pathway to Our Kids’ Well-being and Anecdote to Violence – A Must-Read Book

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The Extras

This is an excellent article especially right now when people are investigating summer opportunities for their children through a ton of summer camp expos. I see the coming and goings of our neighbors with kids and they are exhausted. We feel our course gives them time to better balance activities with homework getting done faster and getting much needed sleep. But some sports seem to have requirements that go on all year and the kids think that they can’t do anything else.–

confident parents confident kids

Extracurriculars by Jennifer MillerExtracurricular activities – whether before school or after school or in the community – are implicitly optional. They are, as the word implies – “extra” – in addition to school. As a parent, the choices can be freeing and helpful or confusing and challenging and perhaps, a little of both. And to add to the complexity, our families don’t merely have ballet or piano or soccer from which to choose. There are any number of additional special interests that could be explored such as robotics, pottery or martial arts. Because there are so many considerations related to extracurriculars, I thought I would explore the many complexities, ask a number of parents how their parents handled the situation and how they have decided to manage “extras” with their own children and then examine other social and emotional developmental factors in the mix and see if any helpful suggestions emerged.

First let’s acknowledge that many…

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Addicted To Distraction — Great article in the New York Times about Concentration

I have found that more and more it is harder and harder to concentrate and to get Driven to Distractionthings done.  And  I teach people how to concentrate better! Most of the people I talk to about reading confess the same problem.

The New York Times Sunday Review published an article Addicted  to Distraction  by Tony Schwartz, the chief executive of The Energy Project, a consulting firm, and the author, most recently, of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.”  In it he talks about his problem with distraction and how he is working his way through it.  The article has excellent suggestions.  I plan to try them!
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“Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be”: Bloggers on Paris and Beirut

Blogs from people who wrote their thoughts on Paris. I hope everyone will read them.

The Blog

Telling stories has power; they connect us, help us work through the raw emotion, and give us a way to make sense of events. After last week’s devastating violence in Paris and Beirut, these nine bloggers shared theirs, helping us do just that. Reading their posts may not be easy — but it is important.

Cultive le Web, “Attentats à Paris, j’étais rue de Charonne

A writer from Cultive le Web was out for an evening with friends Friday night when shooting began on the rue de Charonne. The staccato phrasing of this play-by-play post captures brings readers some tiny measure of the fear, panic, and disbelief. It’s an unvarnished outpouring we wish he had no occasion to write, but are glad he did.

9:45 p.m. Noise, screams. A fight? A rowdy crowd there at the bar? They must be drunk, like on any Friday night in Paris, right? I come closer. A group of people…

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Masters of Deceit–How to Trust?

In 1958 J. Edgar Hoover wrote a book called Masters of Deceit.  It was about the Communist Party and was a classic for many years. Years later we found out he was a master himself.  Now more and more are Masters of Deceit.  Politicians come to mind.  You have to go to Snopes, PolitiFact or for every statement. It is natural to do check out “facts” and statistics  when you don’t agree with them, but I have come to realize that I also have to do it with statements that I want to be true. In my pessimistic moments,  it seems that the only unifying idea in the country right now is that everybody lies!  And when the lies are caught, they argue about whose lies were worse than theirs or they attack the fact checkers.  I found an interesting article when researching this topic: How to Beat the Fact-Checkers. Sub-tittle of the article:  “Politicians have figured it out: When caught in a lie, attack the truth cops.”  It was from 2012 but is even more true today.

The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are geinternet quote picturenuine. And that brings us to Facebook–the place where the truly gullible post outrageous things.  There are people who make fake church signs.  There are cute pictures with simplistic captions to support an untruth. There are doctored videos.  And don’t even think that if you see pictures of respected famous people with quotes supposedly by them, that they ever uttered those words.  I have been caught reposting something that supported my own beliefs without checking Snopes–now I don’t repost or I check it.  If I check out something that is too outrageous to be correct, I’ll let the poster know if it is wrong.  They are sometimes grateful–or they say the source of the correction is “biased.”

It also helps that I am a speed reader which makes it take less time to research and find  the various sides of issues. It is important to read information from the “other side” as well as information that supports your beliefs. If you would like to be do research faster, you can check out some of our other blogs:  Why Getting the Big Picture is Essential, Great Speed Reading Techniques That Save You Time.

To stay friends with people who naively post things without thought or care for accuracy, I am truly grateful that Facebook lets me block items from their unreliable sources and still enjoy their children, cat and dog pictures and read their fattening recipes.

But with all the negativity and false promises how do we trust and believe the honest and sincere?  What Advanced Reading Concepts does is help people achieve goals even beyond what they thought was possible.  In this era, how do people trust?  How do people believe?  How do people have faith?  Let’s explore that in the next blog.


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All Things Must Pass

“None of life’s strings can last, so I must be on my way.”–George Harrison

fall mapleTime passes so quickly and with it the inevitable changes in life. When I started here at ARC my son had not yet started high school, and now he’s a freshman in college. I blinked and those four years flew by, and now it’s time for me to leave ARC. I look forward to the new phase of my life, even as I look back fondly at my time with Bonnie and Bob and Baxter and Bella.

You may correspond with Advanced Reading Concepts by emailing Bonnie at or Bob at or by calling (614) 486-2473.

All my best,

Judith Barker

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Today’s Exhausted Superkids–the Value of Sleep

The following is an opinion piece that appeared in the New York times written by Frank Bruni: Today’s Exhausted Superkids

It really spoke to what I have been finding in teaching our summer speed reading courses and talking with parents trying to juggle yet another thing into an already too short summer schedule.  I’ve been seeing this for a while now, but it has gotten worse and worse.  Add to the scene the sports coaches who believe that the children should spend the entire year concentrating on their one particular sport at the expense of time for anything else.

When I tell my sleepy headed students the benefits of being in the class on the first day, I tell them that a great reason to learn to do homework faster is to be able to GET MORE SLEEP!

Thanks for the great article, Frank.  Here it is:

There are several passages in the new book “Overloaded and Underprepared” that fill me with sadness for American high school students, the most driven of whom are forever in search of a competitive edge. Some use stimulants like Adderall. Some cheat.

But the part of the book that somehow got to me most was about sleep.

It’s a prerequisite for healthy growth. It’s a linchpin of sanity. Before adulthood, a baseline amount is fundamental and nonnegotiable, or should be.

But many teenagers today are so hyped up and stressed out that they’re getting only a fraction of the rest they need. The book mentions a high school in Silicon Valley that brought in outside sleep experts, created a kind of sleep curriculum and trained students as “sleep ambassadors,” all to promote shut-eye.

The school even held a contest that asked students for sleep slogans. The winner: “Life is lousy when you’re drowsy.”

Sleep ambassadors? Sleep rhymes? Back when I was in high school in the 1980s, in a setting considered intense in its day, the most common sleep problem among my peers was getting too much of it and not waking up in time for class.

Now the concern isn’t how to rouse teens but how to lull them. And that says everything about the way childhood has been transformed — at least among an ambitious, privileged subset of Americans — into an insanely programmed, status-obsessed and sometimes spirit-sapping race.

Take one more Advanced Placement class. Add another extracurricular. Apply to all eight Ivies.

Lose a few winks but never a few steps.

“Overloaded and Underprepared,” published on Tuesday, was written by Denise Pope, Maureen Brown and Sarah Miles, all affiliated with a Stanford University-based group called Challenge Success, which urges more balanced learning environments. The book looks at homework loads, school-day structures and much more.

And it joins an urgently needed body of literature that pushes back at helicopter parenting, exorbitant private tutoring, exhaustive preparation for standardized tests and the rest of it. This genre goes back at least a decade and includes, notably, Madeline Levine’s “The Price of Privilege” and Paul Tough’s “How Children Succeed.”

But it has expanded with particular velocity of late. “How to Raise an Adult,” by Julie Lythcott-Haims, came out last month. “The Gift of Failure,” by Jessica Lahey, will be released in two weeks.

There’s a unifying theme: Enough is enough.

“At some point, you have to say, ‘Whoa! This is too crazy,’ ” Pope, a senior lecturer at Stanford, told me.

Sleep deprivation is just a part of the craziness, but it’s a perfect shorthand for childhoods bereft of spontaneity, stripped of real play and haunted by the “pressure of perfection,” to quote the headline on a story by Julie Scelfo in The Times this week.

Scelfo wrote about six suicides in a 13-month period at the University of Pennsylvania; about the prevalence of anxiety and depression on college campuses; about many star students’ inability to cope with even minor setbacks, which are foreign and impermissible.

Those students almost certainly need more sleep. In a study in the medical journal Pediatrics this year, about 55 percent of American teenagers from the ages of 14 to 17 reported that they were getting less than seven hours a night, though the National Sleep Foundation counsels 8 to 10.

“I’ve got kids on a regular basis telling me that they’re getting five hours,” Pope said. That endangers their mental and physical health.

Smartphones and tablets aggravate the problem, keeping kids connected and distracted long after lights out. But in communities where academic expectations run highest, the real culprit is panic: about acing the exam, burnishing the transcript, keeping up with high-achieving peers.

I’ve talked with many parents in these places. They say that they’d love to pull their children off such a fast track, but won’t the other children wind up ahead?

They might — if “ahead” is measured only by a spot in U-Penn’s freshman class and if securing that is all that matters.

But what about giving a kid the wiggle room to find genuine passions, the freedom to discover true independence, the space to screw up and bounce back? Shouldn’t that matter as much?

“No one is arguing for a generation of mediocre or underachieving kids — but plenty of people have begun arguing for a redefinition of what it means to achieve at all,” wrote Jeffrey Kluger in Time magazine last week. He noted, rightly, that “somewhere between the self-esteem building of going for the gold and the self-esteem crushing of the Ivy-or-die ethos, there has to be a place where kids can breathe.”

And where they can tumble gently into sleep, which is a gateway, not an impediment, to dreams.

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