Northridge 1
Peggy Jo Bane (right) Program Director at Northridge Middle School

Do you know if your child has ever been bullied at school? Probably not.

With the school year in full swing, students are managing the day-to-day routines of class work, homework and extracurricular activities. Still, many other children struggle to manage the additional stress of being bullied. Kids who bully others use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. It’s a problem that can greatly damage a young person’s feelings of safety and sense of well-being, and yet most victims of bullying never report it or ask for help. In fact, government studies show only 20 to 30-percent of all incidents are ever reported to adults.

AYS staff members are trained to spot and stop bullying behavior among students. The training is led by Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and includes learning ways to help students who have been affected by bullying. Peggy Bane is the director of the AYS program in North Montgomery Community School Corporation, and she knows first-hand how helpful the training can be.

“Because we build a lot of trust into our AYS program, children will sometimes share personal experiences with the class. Telling us exactly how they felt as a victim of being bullied allows us the best opportunity to teach appropriate ways to handle a bullying situation.”

AYS has always maintained a commitment to enrich children’s lives, and this training enhances that commitment. Teaching children to understand different cultures and to embrace individuality is a crucial step to preventing bullying.

As January comes to an end, I’m sure most people are tired of hearing about health and fitness. As everyone knows the New Year brings new resolutions, most of which involve getting healthier. This doesn’t have to be…. Here at Phalen Leadership Academy (PLA) AYS, the students and I are embarking on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Each week we choose healthier snacks over processed, high-calorie snacks and focus on being active to stay fit.

Picture 1594

My main goal for the scholars here at PLA is to teach them that it is not about completely overhauling one’s life, but creating a healthy balance. Do we eat cookies sometimes? Yes!! Do we have chocolate candy sometimes? Yes!!! Do we always, everyday put our bodies through physical drills? NO! We find a balance.  What I have found here at PLA is that the students have started to crave the healthier snacks and look forward to our fun, wacky workouts.  After about a month it became routine in these young kids’ lives and now they are happy to be healthier and stronger!

                It’s never too late to change your life, and it doesn’t have to change all at once. Remember it is never about taking things away from your life but adding things.  Add one physical activity to your week this week. Add one more serving of veggies to your plate today. Encourage your friends and family to do the same and see what happens in a few months’ time!

By Christa Martini, AYS Program Director at Phalen Leadership Academy

The kids at AYS Spring Mill decided to make duct tape wallets, sell them and donate the proceeds to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc. Their goal is to raise $100. The wallets are selling like sliced bread, so the kids might even exceed this! We are so proud of our young philanthropists!
The large wallets sell for $3, the medium ones for $2, and the small ones for $1.50. Please let us know if you would like to purchase one and help the kids make their goal.
$100 will equal 400 meals for Hoosiers in need.

IMG_1414 IMG_1416 IMG_1417 IMG_1418 IMG_1419 20140123_081857 IMG_1409 IMG_1410 IMG_1411 IMG_1413 IMG_1412 IMG_1415

Two Perspectives – One Homework Blog…

Six simple tips to make homework time less stressful.

My name is Leslie Newland and I am the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Program Manager at AYS, Inc. ~ I am also an AYS parent. My two boys attend the AYS program at the Blue and Gold Academy in Decatur Township.

I am excited about the unveiling of AYS’ new website and I am glad to be a part of the new blog feature.  Though please note, I am a newbie at this blog thing…

So, just the other day, while browsing through Facebook, I literally laughed out loud when I saw my friend’s post – “Fifth grade and second grade homework might just be the death of me and my children…”

If you are a parent, you know, sometimes homework with our children can be a dreaded thing.

It’s funny, as a parent of two active, wonderful young boys, homework time at my house can mean frustration, screaming, and at times even tears (for me AND my children).  HOWEVER, as the former 21st CCLC site-coordinator at the BGA, homework time with 100 plus first through sixth graders was almost a piece of cake.

So, how could I not handle homework with my own two children, but could handle it with the AYS participants?

I’d say it’s all in the training we receive.  As a youth worker, I gained knowledge and skills in regards to structuring successful homework time.  Not quoting any specific article, or any specific professional development opportunity, I’ve found the following six general themes helpful to consider when doing homework with children (whether it’s one or one hundred)!

  1. Routine – Establish an after-school routine and stick with it.  Have a set time and a set place where homework happens.

  2. Setting – Designate a comfortable place, conducive to learning with limited interruptions from outside sources.  Soft music or other quiet background noise can help keep your child focus.

  3. Supplies – Make sure you have plenty of appropriate supplies handy and ready to go.  This can include things like sharpened pencils, scissors, extra paper, etc.

  4. Consistency – Keep the routine and setting consistent. However, do remember you must be willing to be flexible sometimes on some things within the set guidelines – for example, my boys do their homework in their rooms – sometimes it’s at the desk, sometimes it’s on the floor.

  5. Non-Verbal Ways to Communicate – As mentioned, homework at my house can sometimes turn into a shouting match between the boys and me. It helped me tremendously, when I learned about non-verbal ways to communicate during homework time.  On a large scale at program at my former AYS program, we used a red, yellow and green system.  If you were on task and working well, a green item was placed in front of you encouraging you to keep going. You received a yellow item when you needed to slow down, think about your actions, refocus and get back on task.  Red meant to stop what you are doing, time to refocus and get on track.  At home, the boys and I have a smiley system we use.  Other options might be a little fancy trophy that can be bought or homemade, a sticker system, or anything else you can think of that will provide feedback to your child without having to get into a distracting discussion.

  6. Stay Open-Minded and Choose Your Battles – Be consistent, but be flexible.  Recognize your child’s efforts and be willing to compromise when needed.  My youngest is not very neat and he sometimes finishes his assignments messier than I think he should – but that said, if I “fight” with him over every letter and number, our homework session gets that much louder and that much more frustrating for all.

Now don’t get me wrong, even after the training and the experience, sometimes at my house homework time is still stressful.  But having techniques to help all involved is tremendous AND as I mentioned when I started this blog, I am an AYS parent – so lucky for me, homework is DONE before my children come home.  Each evening, I take a quiet few minutes to review their work, sign their homework agendas, and another few minutes to talk about their homework with them and assisting in any needed corrections.  Then, off we go to the other challenging parenting tasks we have, like “What’s for dinner?”