School and parenting questions tackled head-on at NUSD’s Parent Institute

--- Published on September 19th 2015 ---
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How to download your child’s grades?

Whether to monitor your kid’s online texts?

What classes are needed for college admission?

Those issues and plenty more were tackled head-on Saturday in Natomas Unified’s 3rd Annual Parent Institute, a veritable one-stop shop at Inderkum High for answers to school-related and parent-related questions.

Admission was free, lunch was provided, and workshops were offered on family communication and problem-solving, NUSD’s new Infinite Campus student information system, mental health services, how to support your English Learner, planning for college admission, college financial aid opportunities, reading your child’s high school transcript, school attendance, and how to develop your pre-kindergarten child’s thinking skills.

The 5 ½-hour institute also informed parents about other community resources, ranging from the Boys and Girls Club to the North Sacramento Family Resource Center, Sacramento Food Bank, California Health Collaborative “Every Woman Counts” Program, and the UC Davis Early Academic Outreach Program.

Social media expert Thomas Dodson, the keynote speaker, warned parents about potential perils facing their kids through online gaming, texting, pornography, fandom, cyberbullying and other push-button venues. He urged parents to actively monitor their child’s online behavior, read their texts – “it’s not a diary” – and have frank discussions about responsible Internet or smartphone use. Dodson said focus groups and surveys by his research company, “Above the Fray,” suggest that parents are not engaged in the online behavior of more than three of every four teenagers.

“Let’s parent online like we parent offline,” Dodson urged.

Parent Greg Wagner said Dodson’s presentation was eye-opening to him. “You can’t start too early,” Wagner said of learning about Internet dangers and preparing your child for them. “Arm  yourself with information,” Wagner said. “Information is power.”

Other parents gained from other sessions.

Tina Arroyo, for example, learned how to login to Natomas Unified’s new student information system and view her child’s grades, assignments, attendance and other classroom information. The service, Infinite Campus, currently is available only to middle and high school students and their families, but it will be extended to elementary school students in coming months.

Latarus James attended a workshop about how best to keep her child on track for college admission. She’s glad she came, she said, adding: “I think there are a lot of parents who may not seek out the information but who need the information.”

Some workshops were geared for students, including one focusing on cooking and nutrition.  “I learned how to cook really easy food,” said Frashed, 10, adding that “fancy salads and a really nice burrito” were two of her favorites.