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Homeschool Numbers on the Rise

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Homeschool Numbers on the Rise

For more and more children, the commute to school is a short walk to the kitchen table.

The number of American children who are homeschooled is increasing at a dramatic rate. According to USA Today, in 1999, an estimated 850,000 students nationwide were being home-schooled. By 2011-12, that number had more than doubled to 1.77 million. About four percent of all school-age students are homeschooled.

Negative stereotypes that surrounded homeschooling 20 years ago – lack of socialization, perceived lesser education – have all but been erased. Test scores have helped dispel misconceptions. An Education News article stated, “Those who are independently educated typically score between the 65th and 89th percentile on such exams, while those attending traditional schools average on the 50th percentile.”

Have you seen a rise in homeschooled students in your district?

Getting Enough to Eat in Summer

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Getting Enough to Eat in Summer

For some children, the best meal – and, sadly, sometimes only meal – they receive each day is school lunch. So what happens to these kids when school lets out for summer?

Many school districts across the nation offer free lunches during the summer to ensure that all children are being met with their nutritional needs. The USDA Summer Food Service Program is “a federally-funded, state-administered program. The SFSP reimburses providers who serve healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas at no charge primarily during the summer months when school is not in session.” The program typically is not limited to low-income families; any child or teen under 18 years of age can participate.

Meals are served in a safe and supervised environment, most often at schools, parks, community centers or churches.

To learn more about the SFSP and to find the site nearest to you, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-food-service-program-sfsp. According to the website, the USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites.

Financial Aid Made Easier

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Financial Aid Made Easier

College-bound students hoping to receive financial aid must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which becomes available online each year on January 1st. The form requires information from a federal income tax return from the previous calendar year. Since most parents do not receive W-2 forms until late January, filling out the FAFSA can be delayed. That can be a problem in situations where grants and aid are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.

This problem will be resolved for the 2017-2018 school year. The FAFSA form for the 2017-18 academic year can be filed starting October 1st, 2016, and will rely on income tax information from the previous tax year (2015).

Bilingual Preschoolers

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Bilingual Preschoolers

Experts believe that there are benefits to teaching children a second language at a very young age. Dense gray matter in the brain allows little ones – especially in their first three or four years of life – to learn quickly and confidently.

The benefits of being bilingual are immense. Studies have shown that learning a second language improves thinking skills and test scores, as well as evidence of increased I.Q., improved memory, better problem solving skills and, eventually, more job opportunities.

Increased Screen Time Linked to More Cases of Early Nearsightedness

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Increased Screen Time Linked to More Cases of Early Nearsightedness

Have you noticed more and more of your students wearing glasses? The cause is likely, in part, caused by the technology they love.

Several factors can lead to nearsightedness, also known as myopia, according to a panel of US ophthalmology experts.  The factors that may be raising children’s risk for developing myopia include too much time in front of a computer screen, a lack of time outside, and the use of other technological devices.

Myopia in Americans has doubled over the last 50 years. Experts suspect that focusing on items close to the eyes and a lack of natural light are the biggest contributors.

New Act Returns Power to the States

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New Act Returns Power to the States

This past December, President Obama signed The Every Student Succeeds Act which gives states more control over curriculum, testing and standards. The new act has been well received by educators who feel that its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, allowed too much federal control and micromanagement of our schools since its inception in 2002.

The ESSA places an emphasis on ensuring all students meet college- and career-ready standards. Annual standardized testing will continue, but states will determine measures for student performance targets and school ratings.

The act will continue to uphold protection for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.

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