Join the First-Timers Experience at National PTA Convention!

Are you a PTA mission believer and achiever? A PTA leader of leaders? An advocate who wants better for our students and schools nationwide? Then we’ll see you at 2018 National PTA Convention & Expo June 21-24 in beautiful and historic New Orleans, La.

In true New Orleans hospitality, we will welcome our first-time attendees with extra kindness. We will show you how to navigate National PTA’s largest and most comprehensive leadership development experience while making the networking easy for you!

Here are your three FIRST steps to making sure this is your best PTA decision ever:

  1. Come to the First-Timers’ Boot Camp. Join the Convention General Arrangements Committee and other first-time attendees at this must-attend event designed just for you on Thursday, June 22 at 1:15 p.m. in Room 235/236. Walk in knowing who you came with and walk out knowing at least five new friends. You’ll hear about the business, special events and learning experiences at Convention, and then your National PTA First-Timer Friend will help you design a plan for workshops and networking experiences that will match your goals for the weekend. Finally, you will take a tour of important locations like the workshop rooms and General Meetings. Leave this workshop feeling oriented, confident and connected.

 

  1. Meet back up with your First-Timer Friends for an Expo Hall tour and #PTAProud team-building experience. Your National PTA First-Timer Friend will give you a special invitation to explore an Expo Hall tour designed just for you. Meet National PTA’s sponsors, connect with National PTA Board Members in the PTA Booth, and then head over for a fun #PTAProud Team-Building Experience. Enjoy a fast-paced icebreaker with your new friends and then take a group selfie at our #PTAProud Wall. Leave this experience with a #PTAProud Recipe for Teamwork that you can take home and facilitate your own PTA team-building experiences!

 

  1. Pack a sweater—even though the average temperature in New Orleans is 90. Trust us. Every Convention Center looks a little different but offers the same chilly relief from blazing summer heat. So, bring a sweater or jacket that will help your mind to stay focused on all the possibilities National PTA’s Convention has to offer!

If this is your first time at National PTA’s Convention & Expo, get the VIP treatment—join the First-Timers Experience!

Didn’t register yet? There’s still time. Visit PTA.org/Convention to register today.


Mary Pat King is the director of education and leadership development at National PTA.

It’s PTA in Pop Culture Week!

“I just saw PTA referenced in “American Housewife” on ABC!”
“Did you know that movie “Bad Moms” was about the PTA?”
The Simpsons” rerun about the PTA was so funny!”

Does any of this sound familiar? I bet you’ve heard similar coffee-talk at your PTA meetings or while chatting with other parents. PTA pops up in all sorts of places!

A few months ago, National PTA’s Executive Director, Nathan Monell, found a PTA reference in a movie. I mentioned it at a meeting and people quickly began sharing their own “PTA finds.” Before I knew it, I had a monster list of PTA references in movies, music and television shows. And thus, PTA in Pop Culture Week (Dec. 18-Dec. 22) was born.

Before we dive into our favorite clips, let’s be clear—most references are not accurate reflections of the Parent Teacher Association. (Can you tell I’m sugar-coating here.) Most dramatizations of nutty bake sales, controlling moms and iron-fisted PTA councils are purely for entertainment purposes. They’re trying to make us laugh. And sometimes, they might even be taking a tiny dig. In the end, we can take it. We’re thick-skinned here. And the PTA can totally roll with the jokes. We love a good laugh too!

Let’s begin by going back in time to the “Harper Valley PTA.” It’s probably the most notable PTA reference in Pop Culture because not only does it span a few decades but it also spans a few mediums. It first hit the radio airwaves as a song in 1968 by Jeannie C. Riley. This country megahit was re-recorded by artists like Dolly Parton (1969), Billy Ray Cyrus (1996) and Martina McBride (2004). It’s a song about scandal, miniskirts and a really tough PTA!

Not only did it make a good song, it made a good movie. In 1978 Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeannie”) starred in the motion picture version of “Harper Valley PTA.” (FYI, if you have 90 minutes, we found the entire movie on YouTube.) And it didn’t end there. The movie was spun off into a TV sitcom in 1981. So who thinks it’s time for a “Harper Valley PTA” reboot in 2018?

Television has definitely embraced PTA throughout the years. There was “Everybody Loves Raymond” in the ‘90s when Debra decided to reveal her updated, edgier style at a PTA meeting. (Forward 1:00 into this clip for the funniest part.) In 1974, Carol Burnett channeled a diva-tempered PTA mom as she battled for a spot in the Annual PTA Show auditions. And then in 1957—before most of us were born—Uncle Bentley juggles a PTA meeting and a date with a Hollywood starlet in a “Bachelor Father.” (Skip to 12:00 to catch the PTA part!) Can you believe that reference is 60 years old?

It’s been a real blast producing PTA in Pop Culture Week. We hope you enjoy all our finds and we encourage you to share your own using #PTAPop on social media. And while it’s fun to see PTA pop up in movies, music and television, it’s even more satisfying to know that it’s the good work PTAs around the world do that’s truly what puts us in the spotlight. Enjoy PTA in Pop Culture Week and have a wonderful holiday season!

Scott Meeks is the Communications Manager for National PTA.

The Transformative Power of Math Success: One Family’s Story

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Parents, we know you’ll appreciate a real-life tale of math success—one of the many student victories that happen at Mathnasium every day!

When Iris Kaganovich brought her fourth grade daughter Edden to Mathnasium of El Segundo, Calif. in September 2015, she was in panic mode.

“Edden had never struggled in math before,” Iris recalled when Edden ended up at the lowest level. “Our school district switched to Common Core and it was more difficult than expected. I asked around, and all of the moms referred me to Mathnasium.”

Like all Mathnasium students, Edden sat down for the Mathnasium diagnostic assessment, which pinpointed strengths and weaknesses in her math foundations.

“I had no idea that Edden was struggling with basic multiplication, word problems and other fundamental math concepts,” Iris said.

Edden diligently attended sessions two to three times a week. Both mother and daughter were won over by the friendly and productive learning environment and found the Mathnasium teaching method very efficient.

Instructors spend one-on-one time with students like Edden and teach different approaches to explain challenging topics. As a working mom, Iris definitely appreciated Mathnasium’s flexible scheduling options as well.

After two months, Iris began to see improvement.

“Little by little, Edden was advancing. She became more confident about her skills and less anxious about math.”

Remarkably, Edden’s newfound math success transformed homework time for the entire family!

Now in fifth grade, Edden continues to go to Mathnasium. Gone are the days of floundering in the lowest-level math class—Iris happily reported that Edden almost got accepted into the highest-level class this school year!

Inspired by Edden’s success, Iris decided to send her youngest child, first grader Sky, to Mathnasium, as well.

“I realized the importance of building math skills early,” she said. “There’s no better place to do so than at Mathnasium!”


Damaris Candano-Hodas is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Mathnasium Learning Centers.

Mathnasium is a proud sponsor of National PTA and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

 

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Use TV Parental Guidelines to Find the Best Programs for Kids

Home from school with spare time, the summer offers many children the opportunity to watch more television. While each individual family has its own standards for deciding what’s appropriate for its children to watch, the TV Parental Guidelines is a helpful resource to help parents make informed decisions on which programs are suitable for their children.

What are the TV Parental Guidelines? 

Since the late 1990s, virtually all programs that air on television—with the exception of news and sports—are assigned a rating that provides parents information about the content and age-appropriateness of the program. These ratings, called the TV Parental Guidelines, fall into two groups: ratings for programming created specifically for children and ratings for programming intended for general audiences.

The TV Parental Guidelines are designed to be easily recognizable and simple to use. The Guidelines appear in the upper left corner of the TV screen in the first 15 seconds of the program and often reappear after commercial breaks. While most programs on television are rated, television commercials are not and cannot be blocked through parental controls.

Understanding the TV Ratings

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How Can the Guidelines be Used with Parental Controls? 

Families can use the TV Parental Guidelines simultaneously with parental controls in TV sets and cable and satellite set top boxes to block programs they believe are unsuitable for their children. Parents have the ability to block programs based on both the age-based ratings as well as the content descriptors.

Contacting the TV Monitoring Board

The Monitoring Board is responsible for overseeing the TV Parental Guidelines and for working to ensure uniformity and consistency in the application of the guidelines. Parents can find more information about the ratings and the board at TVGuidelines.org.

Viewers can also contact the board by mail, phone or email with any questions or complaints about TV ratings.

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Missi Tessier is the executive secretariat at the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board.

National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Protecting the Progress We’ve Made in School Nutrition

shutterstock_432895717It’s hard to believe that before long, it will be back-to-school time again.  Like many of you, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been hard at work this summer preparing for the upcoming school year. Over the past six years since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, schools across the country have made incredible progress in ensuring all children have access to more nutritious food in school.

Today, joined by Kelly Langston, president of North Carolina PTA, USDA is announcing four final rules that continue the Obama Administration’s historic commitment to building a healthier next generation. While they won’t make any drastic new changes, these rules will ensure the positive changes schools have already made will remain in place and improve children’s health for years to come.

National PTA has advocated for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs since they were first created, and I am proud to have PTA join us for this announcement. You have been one of USDA’s most valued partners, advocating for changes like stronger nutrition standards and more family and community involvement in local school wellness policies to promote nutrition and physical activity in schools. Thanks to your advocacy in Washington and your leadership in local school districts, 98% of schools nationwide are now meeting updated, science-based nutrition standards and serving meals with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy—and less sodium—in age-appropriate portion sizes. USDA is also seeing healthier school environments overall for the more than 52 million children who attend schools that participate in the USDA meal programs.

One of the biggest advances made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the Smart Snacks in School rule, which ensured for the first time that all food and beverages sold a la carte in the cafeteria, in vending machines, or elsewhere on the school campus meet practical, science-based nutrition standards in-line with the requirements for school lunches and breakfasts. Schools have already implemented the Smart Snacks rule and are offering an impressive variety of options that meet the new standards and are popular with students.  The Smart Snacks final rule USDA is announcing today will ensure this progress remains in place.

About 70% of elementary and middle school students are exposed to some form of food or beverage marketing at school.  The Local School Wellness Policy final rule, also announced today, ensures that any food or beverage marketed on school campuses during the school day meets the same Smart Snacks standards.  National PTA has long been a strong supporter of robust school wellness policies that create healthy, supportive learning environments as children spend a majority of their day in school. National PTA was instrumental in developing this rule, which requires schools to engage parents, students, and community members in the creation of their local school wellness policies, and empowers communities to take an active role in the health of their children. States and local communities will continue to have flexibility in developing wellness policies that work best for them.

shutterstock_293985629The two other rules announced today, the Community Eligibility Provision final rule and the Administrative Review final rule, will codify changes that have improved access to school meals for low-income children and strengthened oversight and integrity in the programs at the State level. The Community Eligibility Provision, another major advance made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, allows school districts or individual schools with high numbers of low-income children to serve free meals to all students, eliminating the need for parents to fill out a free lunch application and reducing burdensome paperwork for school administrators so they can focus on what’s most important—feeding kids. More than 18,000 high-poverty schools serving 8.5 million students are now participating in this streamlined option, which has been shown to increase student participation in breakfast and lunch.

When kids return to school and Congress returns to work in September, USDA and the Administration will continue to call on Congress to reauthorize the Federal child nutrition programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee has already passed a bi-partisan bill that would protect the progress we have made and earned PTA’s support. The Senate bill would also support grants and loans to help schools purchase the kitchen equipment and infrastructure they need to prepare healthy meals, which National PTA has called for.

Children’s ability to learn in the classroom and reach their fullest potential depends on what we do right now to ensure their health.  USDA is grateful for National PTA’s partnership in ensuring every child in America has the opportunity to grow up healthy and succeed in school and later in life. Together, we have supported these healthy changes that will benefit our children—and our country– far into the future.


Tom Vilsack serves as the nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture.

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10 Ways to Get Kids Reading this Summer

This blog was originally posted on the Great Schools blog.

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School’s out, the days are longer, and suddenly kids have time on their hands, and you’d like them to put down their tablet and pick up a book. After all, studies show children who read when they’re out of school do better academically than those who avoid cracking open a book.

California Library Association is asking patrons across the state to encourage their local libraries to be a part of the Five Book Summer Reading Challenge. CLA has innovative programs to share or seek at least a calculation of how many books were read. Reading just five books during the summer reduce summer learning loss–significantly more than three or four books. Here are 10 ways to get even the most reluctant reader started on a reading adventure.

  1. Get inspired by Hollywood

    Movies can be a great way to get kids excited about reading, so kick-start summer with film adaptations of popular children’s books. Parents might Netflix Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), based on a book by Roald Dahl. If kids warm up to Mr. Fox, you’ll be able to introduce them to the book version  as well as other titles by the author, such as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The BFG.

  2. Take a book-themed vacation

    “I can go anywhere!” — or so says the theme song to the PBS show Reading Rainbow. Parents could do a lot worse than taking those songsmiths to heart and helping children plan a vacation inspired by a book they love. To start, try reading Liz Garton Scanlon’s picture book All the World while planning a trip to the beach. New Englanders might visit Providence, R.I., after reading the historical young adult novel The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

  3. Meet the authors

    Kids of all ages can benefit from attending an in-person literary event. Authors routinely make appearances at bookstores to read their latest work, and these events are often sparsely attended. Seeing the person behind the words could inspire kids to try a new book. For dates and times, check local news and bookstore websites.

  4. Get cookin’ with books

    Parents of kids who aren’t interested in the more traditional children’s books might want to steer their offspring toward other genres. Cookbooks can encourage kids to master practical skills while providing a delicious payoff at the end. The American Grandparents Association recommends 12 cookbooks for kids 3 and older. And children who branch out into the world of food blogs will find endless reasons to keep reading.

  5. Wise up on magazines

    Magazines cater to many interests and can inspire kids to read deeply on subjects they enjoy. Among magazines suitable for younger readers, several well-known magazines, such as Sports Illustrated and National Geographic, offer “kids” editions. Parents’ Choice has a list of spring 2015 winners here. Teens in particular may want something for the more mature: Seventeen, Teen Vogue, ESPN or MAD — and most magazines are available for electronic readers such as Kindle and Nook.

  6. Create a readers’ theater

    Parents can bring books to life by staging scenes from favorite stories. Act out characters, read scenes aloud, try funny voices, and use props from around the house — do whatever it takes to get kids excited about the story. By imagining themselves in the roles of their favorite characters, children can make a deeper connection to what they’re reading.

  7. Listen to your books

    Parents might not realize that audiobooks are freely available for checkout at most public libraries. Take your children to the library (or iTunes), and pick out the perfect summer tale, then set aside some time to listen to the audiobook together.

  8. Throw a blog party

    Make reading social by helping your kids — or, more likely, having them help you — set up a reading blog on sites such as Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, or Tumblr. While getting them set up should be relatively painless, kids might need encouragement to keep writing, so make sure you help them stick to a schedule. For even more online fun, see if you can get your children’s friends involved as well.

  9. Organize a summer series

    With school out, children have extra time to get sucked in by the compelling narratives of popular series. For the youngest set, start with picture books such as Babar. Genre books can be particularly addictive for older kids: The Lord of the Rings is a classic — and one of the best.

  10. Be strong and read hard!

    It’s especially important for parents to model the behavior they want to see in their children. Some parents only read after their kids are in bed, but summer is a great time to take the books off the bedside table and make them part of vacation or leisure time. Whether that means booting up the Kindle or dusting off old Anna K, show your kids you still love a good read, too.

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Summer Tips for Incoming PTA Leaders

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Summer vacation is here! While these months can be filled with road trips to the beach, summer camps, long nights and lots of “R&R” time—summer is also an opportunity to plan a smooth transition into the upcoming school year. Just as teachers must plan the next school year’s curriculum, PTA leaders have an assignment of their own, too.

At the end of their term, outgoing leaders transfer their procedures books to the incoming leaders. Even if an outgoing leader thinks the information is of no value, with these books you will have a better idea of what was done in the past and how the PTA went about doing it. Outgoing leaders can also offer valuable insight on things yet to be done, what they would do better and suggestions on how to be more effective and efficient in the performance of your new duties. Take notes and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Start planning now for your own smooth transition into office. Here are a few tips for incoming local leaders to consider:

Share contact information with outgoing leaders and set up a directory to be and remain connected. With previous leaders’ contact information, you’ll be able to reach out for additional support throughout the year or to ask for insight as problems arise.

Review procedures books given to you from outgoing leaders. If there are none, do not worry; start one by getting and reading your local unit bylaws. The PTA unit’s secretary should have a copy. If you can’t find it, call your state/congress office; they’ll be happy to mail or email you one.

Visit PTAKit.org and review the sections that may apply to your new position.  If you don’t see your position listed, the information this website contains is of value to the entire PTA board.  Even if you’re an experienced PTA leader, it is worth reviewing every year as it is updated with the most current information and trends to help you and your unit to be successful.

Check out your state PTA’s website.  They may have information that can start you off on the right foot for the year. For example, templates, training opportunities, resources, program materials, newsletters, etc. You might find ways to connect with your state through Facebook, Instagram, Legislative Alerts, Twitter, etc.

Take advantage of the e-learning courses. National PTA offers online training courses to help you grow as a leader at PTA.org/eLearning. Although you may want to start with what you’ll need for your own PTA position, please take all courses. As a board member, it’s important to know the role of each position and what to expect.

Meet with your school principal to learn about school goals and objectives for the incoming year. Share with the principal the programs the PTA would like to hold (Reflections, Family Reading Experience Powered by Kindle, Healthy Lifestyles, Fire Up Your Feet, Take Your Family to School Week, Teacher Appreciation Week, Connect for Respect, etc.) and how these programs will support the goals and objectives of the school. Think about becoming a School of Excellence in the process!

Set up a communications plan. Newsletters and social media keep everyone informed, engaged and proud of what the PTA is doing. Go through your PTA’s goals, identify specific strategies your PTA or committee will use to achieve each goal and then create a step-by-step plan for each strategy. This is key to growing membership and gaining members and community support.

Have a successful PTA year and thank you so much for your dedication and commitment to the mission of PTA!


Ivelisse Castro is a national service representative at National PTA.

 

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6 Things to Do in Orlando During #PTAcon16

FloridaPTA leaders, parents and education and industry experts from across the nation will come together in Orlando, Fla. for the Think BIG… Think PTA! 2016 National PTA Convention & Expo June 30 to July 3.

Why not plan your family vacation with us at the same time? Orlando is a great city—full of fun, warm weather and family-friendly activities. We want you to experience all it has to offer. While you join us for #PTAcon16, hopefully you can find time during your stay to enjoy:

  • Thrills! Fun! And even more thrills! Stop by the Universal Orlando Resort and explore their three different theme parks, including a stop in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley for a tasty pint of Butter Beer. Cool off at the Universal’s Islands of Adventure and get splash-happy with your favorite cartoon characters in the water rides of Toon Lagoon. Then, ride through the Jurassic Park jungle and snap pictures of the nine-foot-tall velociraptor!
  • Mickey, is that you? There’s no better place to feel like a kid again than at Walt Disney World. This wondrous world of childhood magic consists of four theme parks: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom Park. Be sure not to miss the nightly fireworks! End the day with the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular right in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Heads up: BIG news is coming to Disney World. Read more
  • Explore Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Since you’ll be lodging at this resort, we want to make sure you take advantage of it to the fullest! And you don’t have to be a guest at the resort to partake in some of the awesome activities it has to offer. Unwind and relax at the Mandara Spa. Visit the in-house art gallery, The Galleriá Sottil. Do a little shopping at their Disney souvenir shops, Disney Cabanas and Disney Garden or at Lamont’s, their classy boutique. There’s nothing like fine dining, so end your day with a bite to eat at one of their amazing restaurants.

For more info about the Think BIG… Think PTA! 2016 Annual National PTA Convention & Expo, visit PTA.org/Convention. Hope to see you there!


Ebony Scott is the communications intern at National PTA.

Seven Things You Need to Bring to #PTACon16

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“What am I going to wear? Am I going to get there on time? What am I going to bring?” You’re not the only one asking these questions.

This year’s Think BIG… Think PTA! 2016 Annual National PTA Convention & Expo in Orlando, Fl. is fast approaching and we want you to be prepared!

Here are some items we believe you should bring along with you to this year’s Convention & Expo:

  1. Bottled water: To have the maximum amount of fun, it’s important to stay hydrated! For those moments when it gets a little warm in the room or your throat gets dry, a bottle of water will come in handy.
  1. Cardigan/sweater: A cardigan or sweater can be a great accessory to any outfit. It can also keep you warm whenever you feel those random cold drafts in a room. Instead of suffering through the air conditioning, pack a cardigan or a light sweater. It’s a good way to beat the chill.
  1. Chargers (laptop, phone, tablet, etc.): Make sure to pack a charger for all of the electronic devices you bring on the trip. Charge all of your devices while you are asleep so you can wake up to a full charge. Also try to bring a portable charger along. They are great for on-the-go.
  1. Comfortable shoes: Try not to sacrifice comfort for style. Sometimes networking involves constant walking around and you want to make sure your feet aren’t aching, blistered or just plain worn out.
  1. Extra pens or pencils: One is never enough. You never know if your pen might run out of ink or if you happen to misplace it. Extra pens and pencils can also be great networking tools when someone around you asks for one. Help them out and offer them one of yours, you never know who you may meet this way!
  1. Notepad: I’m pretty sure you don’t want to miss a thing during the presentations. It’s helpful to jot down a few notes here and there. Taking notes could be a good way to reflect on the convention once you get home or if you want to share a few things from the convention with a colleague you can always refer to your notes.
  1. Small healthy snacks (fruit, nuts, etc.): It’s hard to focus on anything when you have an empty stomach. Packing a little something to nibble on in between meals is a good way to bring your blood sugar back up so you can really engage with the BIG things that are happening.

For more information regarding the 2016 Annual National PTA Convention & Expo and registration, visit PTA.org/Convention. Hope to see you there!


Ebony Scott is the communications intern at National PTA.

A Special Message from President Laura Bay: I Challenge You!

Hello PTA Leaders,

Think BIG… Think PTA! 2016 National PTA Convention & Expo is just two months away, and I challenge you to register for our BIGGEST convention yet.

This year’s convention will take place June 30-July 3 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort—a great excuse to plan a family vacation to Disney World! In addition to enjoying the magic of Disney, PTA leaders will connect with one another at convention and be inspired by big thinkers including New York Times best-selling author Julie Lythcott-Haims.

So what are you waiting for? Join the excitement and be a part of our biggest convention yet!

Help me spread the word about convention by making a video just like this one, and share it on Facebook or Twitter using the official hashtag #PTAcon16! You can also find promo tools like badges, sample messaging and more in our toolkit at PTA.org/Convention.

I look forward to seeing you at convention!


Laura Bay is National PTA’s president.