Sex Education In Schools: How Much Of An Impact Does It Have?

The debate on sex education is a divisive one. Some believe that teaching sexual education in school is the correct thing to do, while others want sexual education to be taught at home.

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While teaching sexual education in the environment of a loving home would be the optimal choice it just does not happen that way. Most parents put on blinders when it comes to their children, wanting to believe that their child is “just too young for that sort of thing”. Children will hear stories from their friends and whether they are true stories or not, those stories are being passed on down the line to other children. Rather than allowing the sexual education of your child be one of made up stories such as the one about not getting pregnant if you wear a condom, it is better to educate yourself as a parent on how to talk to your child about sex.

As of 2014 sex education for children in public schools is part of every states health policies. Because of the effectiveness of sex education being taught in schools we are seeing the rates of teens having babies drop to its lowest levels since the data started being collected. Each state has its own sex education legislature with some states having much more comprehensive education than others.

Sexual education that is comprehensive is the most effective way to keep children and teens from getting pregnant and contracting STI’s (sexually transmitted infections). Some will argue that teaching abstinence is the only solution to unwanted pregnancy and STI’s but studies have shown that virginity pledge or not, these children are initiating sex before marriage and in fact are at a higher risk for STI’s than children who have had comprehensive sex education. These “pledge kids” are less likely to try and obtain birth control of any sort but will still engage in sexual activities.

Learning to talk to your children about sex and sexual activity is the best solution for both you and your child. If the information is coming from a loving place with facts to back it up, your child will feel more at ease when the subject comes up at school and more able to understand the consequences of their actions. Learning responsibility is a part of growing up for everyone and teaching your child to be sexually responsible is a terrific way of showing that you trust them to be a responsible adult.

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5 Things To Consider When Traveling With Kids

Traveling with kids is not the same as traveling with adults; it can actually turn into a hassle if you aren’t prepared because a lot of complications can occur when you vacation with children. Before making things difficult for yourself remember to plan ahead. Below you’ll find 5 things to consider when traveling with kids that will help make the trip an enjoyable for everyone.

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1. Bring Along Extra food and Extra Cash
You’ll need to pick up kid friendly, healthy snacks that they can enjoy on the road (that aren’t too messy) and in the hotel; this step alone can dissuade whining on the trip. You’ll also want to make sure to bring extra cash for souvenirs and unplanned on activities that you stumble on along the way from feeding the animals at the Zoo (some have coin operated machines for food delivery), to arcades and perhaps roller skate or bicycle rentals.

2. Location, Location, Location
You can’t pick a location without thinking about the people you are traveling with. Make sure to plan a trip to a location that is also enjoyable for the entire family, not the same typical vacation ideas for couples. Look for accommodations that are close to your ultimate destination making it easy to get back and forth. Most hotels located near vacation hotspots offer shuttle services making it easy to get tired children back to the room for a nap. It’s also a good idea to choose a hotel with on-site, kid friendly activities like a swimming pool and one that offers complimentary breakfast is a great idea as well.

3. Plan to see kid friendly venues
There’s plenty of cities with aquariums, zoos, beaches, fun houses, restaurants that cater to children and more, so why not do some research to make sure you’re choosing a kid-friendly vacation destination? When you pick a destination try to make an action plan that involves all the different possible venues for you and your children to enjoy; you’ll have a great time if you do.

4. Wardrobe matters
Your kids don’t know how to pack and they also tend to need more clothes than most adults which is why packing their wardrobe accordingly is so important. Make sure to bring comfortable sandals for them if you’re going to a beach, bring a couple swimsuits for each of them, bring plenty of changes of clothes to cover accidents and each day of the trip.

5. Have Fun
Planning a vacation with your children can be a lot of fun and it doesn’t hurt to get them involved in the process, making it seem like more fun than a chore. A well planned trip will ensure that everyone has a lot of fun whether it’s taking a cruise, visiting the world best amusement parks or camping out.

As you start planning for your next family vacation, keep these 5 things to consider when traveling with kids in mind and make wonderful memories together.

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A Profile Of Marilyn vos Savant

Marilyn vos Savant is a very important person in the history of humanity. Born on August 11th, 1946, the Missouri born author, lecturer and playwright has enjoyed many successful contributions to society, but perhaps she is best known for having the highest IQ in the world.

bio_photo_marilynMarilyn is also well known for her column in Parade magazine called “Ask Marilyn” whereby she solves puzzles and answers difficult questions for her fans and readers, on a wide range of subjects. Her shot to prominence came in 1985, when her application for the highest IQ in the world, at a whopping 190, was accepted. Inducted in 1986, and stayed there until 1990 when the record was removed from the book, as it was deemed insufficient due to the unreliability of an IQ  test.

Having used the Stanford-Binet and Mega Tests, vos Savant claims that her first test was in 1956, and predicted that she would peak aged 22, with an IQ of 228. This has been mistaken as 230 by some sources, but it is stated in her biography and other book that her test stated 228.

However, vos Savant has taken many different tests and therefore there is a multitude of different answers, guesses and estimations out there. However, psychology professor and IQ test author Alan S. Kaufman dictated that when using revised, modern IQ scores, that it can go no higher than 170.

However, over the years, many people have questioned the legitimacy of the claim of her high IQ, and some have even taken to looking actively for mistakes in her popular column, “Ask Marilyn”. However, having become a respected author and lecturer on various topics including intellectual females, intellectual children, the clash between wealth vs intelligence, and who is given the chance, and many other different characteristics and challenging subjects.

Having published over nine different books on different subjects from logical thinking to help guides on reclaiming your education, Marilyn vos Savant is one of the most respected intellectuals of her time, and has helped many people either understand or take their intelligence to a new level.

Many people are frightened by intelligence, but vos Savant shows that if you are able to nurture it, then nothing can stop you.

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Why You Shouldn’t Pay For Your Child’s Education

I can already hear the protests – why would you deprive your child of their education? If you have the money, what good could possibly come from depriving your child of the chance for a bright future?

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The truth is that tuition costs have risen to a ridiculous rate in the United States and paying for an overpriced education can be a recipe for disaster. What kind of concept of money will your kids have after they spend 6 years in school, rack up mid six figures in debt, and it gets magically paid off for them? How long will it take for them to appreciate the value of money?

Note: I’m not saying its bad for anyone to pay for their child’s education, this is simply my personal philosophy.

1. Force your child to make more reasoned choices

If your child knows that they’re going to have to pay their whole loan back one day, it can force them to attend a more reasonably priced school and save their money. The typical teenager with a job spends every dime of their paycheck. If your child knows that they are going to be responsible for their own education, it will force them to make wiser choices, or face the consequences.

2. Instill independence

I personally tried to teach my kids to be financially independent as soon as they were old enough to work. Granted it took awhile, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but a financially disciplined teenager can actually go a long way towards paying for their own tuition if they make some sacrifices and choose wisely. Look at it this way, taken from an example from my eldest son:

Age 16: part time job for 15 hours a week x $10.00 per hour for 8 months (5250) + 40 hours a week x $10.00 per hour for 2 months (4000). That’s $9250 they earned in the year, minus $2250 for their own expenses , that leaves them $7,000 saved up in the bank.

Age 17: Let’s say they get a pay raise to $12.00. With the same working hours, they’ve now earned $6300+$4800 = $11,100, and saved $9,000. They’ve now saved $16,000 total

Age 18: Let’s say they worked hard, and they’ve managed to get a raise to $15.00. Not unreasonable at all. This year, they earned $7875 + $6000 = $13875 and saved $11,000, bringing their total to $27,000 in the bank, not counting the interest they’ve earned on their deposits. That’s definitely a good start for an 18 year old, I know a few middle aged adults who don’t have a liquid $27,000 sitting in the bank.

Age 19: At this point, if they studied hard enough they might have managed to land a scholarship to a decent school. If not, they could always take a year off and work. When they’re in school they can work part-time and full time in the summer (4 months of the year), and they can do a co-operative program that rotates work terms. There are plenty of ways of making college work, without resorting to hand outs.

Is it easy? No, but in my humble opinion, the character built through hard work and sacrifice is much more important for future success than ensuring that they have an easy path through an elite college.

3. Tuition doesn’t need to be six figures

What’s wrong with a cheaper school? Are we saying that no one outside of the Ivy Leagues ever accomplished anything in this world? Nonsense.

4. Good Grades -> College -> Good Job Is Not The Only Path

Do we really need to worship at the altar of higher education? The typical middle class path we suggest for our children is to get good grades, graduate from college, and get a good job. Then find a nice girl (or man), buy a nice house in the suburbs, have some kids, and work until you hit retirement age. Every parent seems to want their child to grow up as a neurosurgeon making the big doctor salary, or a corporate lawyer, making that big law cash.

But that’s really not the only path to success – especially with the power of the internet enabling people to start their business with virtually no costs. I’ve encouraged my children to take a path of entrepreneurship if they chose to, but I also supported their decision to go to college – as long as they were willing to pay for it themselves. Being forced to make this decision, in my opinion, has made my kids who did attend college much more appreciative of the whole experience.

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Why Work From Your Laptop In A Coffee Shop Instead Of From Home?

A lot of people these days work from home usually hunkered over their desktops, laptops or iPads in their full blown home office. These entrepreneurial individuals have the unique opportunity to be able to work from just about anywhere they want. With mobile computer options and smart phones, we aren’t confined any longer and can escape the four walls of our office cave at home.

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While this is a convenient way to make a living, why not take advantage of the change of scenery available that can be a whole lot more interesting and cozy. For a change of pace, pack up your laptop or iPad and head down to your local Starbucks, order your favorite cup of coffee, and nestle in at a table in front of a window or a cozy fireplace or (many Starbucks have them).

Even though coffee served in coffee shops can be a bit pricey, the change of scene can be inspiring because a change of environment promotes creativity. Even the best offices (off site or home offices) can lead to stagnation (boring routines) and boring routines are the enemy of creative thinking. Changing your work environment, even for a day can turn things around when it comes to inspiration and creativity. You’ll also be avoiding that always aggravating state of procrastination.

Sure, I love my Keurig coffee maker and my Grove Square coffee, but every once in a while visiting your favorite coffee shop provides a nice change of pace.

There’s’ something about the cheerful atmosphere, particularly at Starbucks, along with comfortable seating, and a relaxing surroundings, complete with high speed WiFi connections; a great escape from the distractions at home. Working from your laptop in a coffee shop gives you a secluded area where you can drink coffee, go online, work on your projects and enjoy yourself in different surroundings.

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Letting Kids Discover Their Own Intellectual Curiosity

Lately I’ve been doing some writing for CuriosityAroused.com.  The nice thing writing about science, especially nature, is that kids really have their own natural intellectual curiosity – if you let them discover it.  The key is not pushing them to learn things they don’t want to learn, but rather, helping them find the topics that they truly find interesting.  That’s how I discovered my intellectual curiosity at a young age and why I still find science and nature so fascinating today. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fun Learning

Why does learning have to be considered “boring”?  In my generation, it was TV that was considered improper learning.  My parents always insisted I read instead of watch TV, because TV rotted the brain.  Now, a whole generation reads blogs on their phones and tablets, but its this new form of media that’s “rotting the brain”, so to speak.  Or maybe its new media in combination with television?

It’s true that the internet has fueled the amount of junk that makes it into our reading material.  Even reputable news sources have no choice but to resort to running weird news and celebrity gossip stories on the front page in order to earn the pageviews that pay the bills.  But there’s still a huge difference between a random piece on, say, the world’s most polluted cities or the world’s most dangerous cities, dangerous dog breeds or snakes, some random article on ridiculous & stupid laws or weird sports, and truly mindless fodder like articles on the richest teenage celebrities, or gossip websites with whole categories devoted to snooki.

Let’s not lump all new media into the same category.  You can certainly use youtube to watch some really low level stuff, but you can also find plenty of very educational, informative, and legitimately entertaining yet intelligent pieces.  We should use new media to make learning fun, not simply dismiss it altogether.

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Alcoholism Awareness Education

For most people, drinking is a fun, harmless experience. For others, it can be devastating. Alcoholism takes a tremendous toll on the alcoholic’s physical and mental health. It can also have a devastating effect on those around them

When it comes to dealing with alcoholism, education is extremely important. While education itself cannot treat the problem of alcoholism in our society, it is an essential component. It can help reduce harm, and also give friends and family members of alcoholics some of the tools they need in order to understand how to confront an alcoholic and get them the help they need.

Educational programs designed to reduce risk of alcoholism need to be targeted at at-risk populations.  At the same time, efforts also need to be made to spread awareness through the general population.  While most alcoholics are aware of the benefits of quitting alcohol, most will continue to deny that their behavior has a negative effect on their life and the lives of those around them.  When it comes to drinking, our society also has to closely examine the fact that many negative incidences arise out of binge drinking – an ever popular pass-time amongst youth.

Educational messages are currently being delivered as mass media campaigns.  While mass media has been successful in reshaping society’s view of drinking and driving, it has had much less success in terms of dealing with alcoholism.  Perhaps a school based educational program about alcohol is one step forward towards change.  Surprisingly, many school boards still don’t have a focused alcohol awareness program.

Local municipalities and community organizations must also target their efforts to wards at-risk populations, such as troubled youth, those arrested for drunk driving, as well as families where family members report the dangerous drinking behaviors of a loved one.

While a single method alone may have little impact, a combination of several alcoholism awareness initiatives will have a positive effect on the problem over time.

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Homeschooling In Texas

It appears that Texas is one of the best states for homeschooling. Their stance is that if your school doesn’t take state money, the state can’t tell you what to do — and here, a home school is considered a private school for those purposes. In the late 80s, the court ruled on a Texas standard for homeschools — they need to meet 3 criteria:

There needs to be 1. Bona Fide learning going on with a 2. Curriculum in 3. the Required Subjects.

What are the required subjects? Reading, spelling, grammar, math and good citizenship.

Good citizenship! I’m sort of charmed by that. When I was in the 4th grade, we took a tour of the Capitol building, and I got to sit in Gov. Sununu’s chair. [It was a nice chair.]

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Math Curriculum / Calculators

I stumbled across this post today [via Joanne Jacobs] on how widespread early calculator use affects later academic performance. [Hint: it’s not good.] My post-partum memory is fuzzy, but I seem to recall not using calculators regularly until my college statistics class. In fact, I still have my trusty TI-36X from that class and still use it. [I’ve since sold the TI-81 that I used in calculus.] I always enjoyed calculating in my head — I remember working at San Francisco Street Bakery in college, and I’d keep running tabs for folks as they picked out their items and would announce their total to them before I even got to the cash register. Cheap fun. Heh.

I’ve been reviewing different math curricula lately — there’s a fairly wide variety of approaches out there, but my gut tells me that tried-and-true like Saxon or Singapore Math is what most effectively teaches math competence. [The girls who babysit for us — and who are homeschooled — use Saxon.] One thing I like about them is that they discourage calculator use.

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