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MISS SCHOOL MANNERS & Preschool Panic

teacherDear Miss School Manners: I read the Times article about preschool pressure last week. It is comforting to know that we are not the only parents out here searching and to some degree stressing over which preschool to place our child in! We simply want our child to attend a great preschool to learn, grow and socialize with other children in a safe and healthy environment. But we’re overwhelmed – all the ads for preschool programs claim to offer everything a parent wants. We don’t want to get caught up in the hype of this school and that school. But how do we even start looking?
Signed, Bewildered in Brentwood

Dear BiB: It is bewildering at first. But the best place to gather preschool recommendations without the ad hype …
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
Under: Miss School Manners | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS & Books for grieving

teacherDear Miss School Manners:
My mom and I were talking about my grandpa, who passed away when I was like 18. It was a light chat about how great he was, etc., when my kindergartner, Sofia, chimes in, “Does everybody die?” Without thinking or hesitating, I said yes, but she didn’t have to worry because it would be a long time till we left, and that’s why it’s important that we eat right and exercise and take care of ourselves, etc. Since then, she’s still asking questions. She’s a bit worried and as she put it, “It makes me sad.”
Eek. Now what? I looked at Barnes & Noble this weekend, but no book was quite right.
Signed, Anxious in Antioch

Dear A in A: Sounds like you handled that so well! But your daughter’s worries are a natural thing and you’re on the right track with the book idea. Stories can be very comforting, says Pleasanton child psychologist Jacqueline Golding, because they show children they’re not alone in their feelings…
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Kids & Tweens, Miss School Manners | No Comments »

Miss School Manners & tween book clubs

teacher Dear Miss School Manners: Last year, we read a Times story about a mother-daughter book group and now we’re inspired! But we can’t find the article on the Times web site, and it had tips on how to start a book club. Help! Signed, Martinez Mom

Dear MM: The Moraga high school seniors who started a book club back in fifth grade? We loved that story too. Kids and teens’ book clubs are undeniably hot these days. Many bookstores and libraries host book clubs for all ages, and there are a number of how-to books on the market, including American Girl’s just published “Book Club Kit.” But the secret to the Moraga mother-daughter club’s success was its structure…
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens, Miss School Manners | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: Prep, no prep?

teacher Dear Miss School Manners:Seems like every other junior at my son’s school is taking an SAT prep course. But the classes cost so much and take up so much time – we were horrified! Will my son be at a disadvantage if he doesn’t do it?
Signed, Worried in Walnut Creek

Dear Worried in WC: It does, they do and, well, possibly. The multi-billion dollar test prep industry banks on exactly that fear – and out here in the college-crazed ‘burbs, it is very, very common for families to spend $1,000 or more on SAT tutors or classes. But do the classes help? Depends on the kid…
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
Under: College Apps & Angst, Miss School Manners | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: Cash for college

teacher Dear Miss School Manners: My son is a freshman in college, attending school out of state (his choice, not mine). My daughter is a senior in high school, and at least for the moment, planning to stay in state. Next year, we will be shelling out for tuition, room and board and books – times two. Suddenly, the financial reality is hitting us hard. I did a quick Internet search on scholarships and grants but frankly, it’s overwhelming. The schools pile on paperwork but so far it has netted us only $1,000 in grant money, which is not nearly enough for the out-of-state expenses. I don’t want to force my son to transfer to a California school, but if you can’t help me untangle the money madness, I may not have a choice. What resources do you recommend for finding scholarship, grant and loan money?
Thanks, Cash-strapped in Concord
Dear C in C:
We can relate! Having children close together was such a good idea when they were toddlers. Now, not so much. So first, the basics: FAFSA. It’s the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid – and those of you in the preschool peanut gallery are going to want to pay attention too, because that college fund you set up in little Fauntleroy’s name? Yeah, you don’t want to do that. More on that in a sec…
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
Under: College Apps & Angst, Finances, Miss School Manners, Teens | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: Problem roommate

teacher Dear Miss School Manners: My daughter’s college roommate is simply appalling: parties, booze and her taste in – well, I’d call them clothes if there was enough fabric to warrant that. But when I called the college, they refused to give my daughter a new room. What do I do now?
Signed, Peeved in Pleasanton

Dear PiP:
Oh, we can trump that. Our daughter’s roommate conducted Wiccan rituals in their dorm room. Fortunately, she was geometry-challenged so the chalked pentagrams she drew on the floor all had six sides…which we don’t think summons anything. Ah, but back to you…
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
Under: College Apps & Angst, Miss School Manners | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: Lunchbox dilemma

teacher Dear Miss School Manners:
I picked up my registration packet for school yesterday and wasn’t entirely surprised that school-bought lunches went up to $3. My son loves to buy. So with that in mind, he needs to start bringing a lunch so many days a week to defray some costs. But I know that if he brings peanut butter, he gets sent to the “peanut table.” So, what’s the favorite “brought lunch”? And do kids eat it? Signed, Needs Inspiration in San Ramon

Dear Needs Inspiration: Lunchboxes – so adorable, so challenging to fill. We’ve consulted a number of experts – several food gurus, a Walnut Creek middle schooler and several Lamorinda teens – and the consensus is …
(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens, Miss School Manners, Teens | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: Water-free P.E.?

teacher Dear Miss School Manners:
Last year, my 10-year-old daughter, Euclidea May (not her real name), had a P.E. teacher who wouldn’t let kids drink water during class, even when exercising in hot conditions. The teacher claimed children don’t need water while exercising. Is this true? Euclidea had coughing fits because her throat was so dry. She also frequently got side cramps. With the new school year starting, I’m starting to worry all over again. Signed, Concerned in Concord

Dear Concerned: Wow. That’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. You need to step up and advocate for your child, and this may help: you’ll have the backing of the American Academy of Pediatrics…

(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens, Miss School Manners, Teens | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: New teen drivers

teacher Dear Miss School Manners:
When I was a kid, drivers ed was all done through the high schools. Not anymore. We managed to figure out how to get our 15-and-a-half year old son Fortescue (ok, not his real name) enrolled in an online drivers education class. But now we’re trying to get his driver’s permit and the DMV says we need to enroll him in a behind-the-wheel class first. I feel funny using the Yellow Pages to choose a school for something possibly life-threatening.
Signed, Worried in Walnut Creek

Dear Worried, No honey, you use Google. :-) OK, first we’ll talk about the best way to find a driving school you’re comfortable with, then a couple of caveats about scheduling and finally a word about the DMV and how not to get there and discover you’re missing critical paperwork… like us…

(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007
Under: Miss School Manners, Teens | No Comments »

MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: Free Lunch?

teacher Dear Miss School Manners:
My daughter is going into third grade. Last year, one of her classmates frequently came to school without a lunch or money to buy one. I started packing some extra food for my daughter to give her, but I seem to recall someone saying there is a free lunch program for children in need. Do I talk with the teacher or principal? Having met this classmate’s mom, I don’t think she’d be receptive to “charity” but her daughter’s well-being is important. What can I do to help? Signed, Concerned Mom in Antioch

Dear Concerned Mom: What a wonderful parent you are, and what a fantastic lesson in compassion for your daughter! Yes, there is indeed a free/reduced price school meal program – milk, breakfast and lunch – that serves children in need…

(Read more after the jump. Or write to Miss School Manners now.)

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Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens, Miss School Manners, Teens | No Comments »