Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast

National PTA

Sometimes, your child forgets to share the notes from their backpack that tell you everything that’s happening at their school. On Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast, we give you the inside scoop on how to help your child succeed—in school and at home. We discuss real issues with parents and experts—from handling homework to school discipline—to support you every step of the way! Join the conversation using #BackpackNotes and learn more at PTA.org/BackpackNotes.

Introducing...Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast
Trailer 4 min 39 sec

All Episodes

From people who mispronounce your child’s name to teachers who expect them to explain your family’s holiday traditions to the class, your child may be struggling with the pressure to represent an entire culture. Actress and author Sheetal Sheth joins the show to discuss how families can help kids embrace their identities and explains how she shared her own identity and experience as a mother in her children’s books Always Anjali and Bravo Anjali. Resources: Read https://bookshop.org/books/always-anjali/9781684019687 (Always Anjali) and the sequel, https://bookshop.org/books/bravo-anjali/9781737055013 (Bravo Anjali), with your kids Follow Sheetal on social media https://twitter.com/sheetalsheth (@SheetalSheth) Listen to https://www.pta.org/the-center-for-family-engagement/podcast/notes-from-the-backpack/talking-race-kidlit (Talking Race & KidLit with Kwame Alexander) to learn more about diversifying your children’s library

Nov 24

25 min

Help your child channel their frustrations into social action! This week, our hosts chatted with author and founder of 1000 Black Girl Books, Marley Dias, and her mom, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, who is an educator and author as well. They share how you can help your child develop their entrepreneurial spirit and enhance their problem solving skills—all while making the world a better place! Resources: Learn more about the https://www.marleydias.com/1000blackgirlbooks/ (1000 Black Girl Books Campaign) and how you can get involved Watch Marley in the Netflix series, https://www.netflix.com/title/81303906 (Bookmarks) Follow Marley on social media https://www.instagram.com/iammarleydias (@IAmMarleyDias) and read her bookhttps://bookshop.org/books/marley-dias-gets-it-done-and-so-can-you/9781338136890 ( Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You) Follow Dr. Janice on social media https://www.instagram.com/drjanicejohnson (@DrJaniceJohnsonDias) and read her book https://bookshop.org/books/parent-like-it-matters-how-to-raise-joyful-change-making-girls/9781984819628 (Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Changemaking Girls)

Nov 10

28 min 21 sec

How can schools do a better job affirming children’s racial identities? Dr. Shawn Jones, psychologist and professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, joined the podcast to offer guidance on creating schools that better serve students of color. He shares how families can help by talking openly and honestly about their own experiences with race. He also offers suggestions for how white families can be part of the effort to create more affirming schools for students of color. For more advice on talking to your children about race, listen to our podcast episode https://www.pta.org/the-center-for-family-engagement/podcast/notes-from-the-backpack/raising-kids-who-embrace-race (Raising Kids Who Embrace Race) Learn more from Dr. Shawn Jones in Embrace Race’s webinar, “https://www.embracerace.org/resources/managing-racial-stress-and-teaching-kids-to-do-the-same (Managing Racial Stress and Teaching Kids to Do the Same)” Read “https://ptaourchildren.org/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-racism/ (How To Talk To Your Child About Racism)” on PTA’s Our Children online magazine Follow Dr. Shawn Jones on social media https://twitter.com/SCTJones (@SCTJones) and his podcast Our Mental Health Minute https://twitter.com/OurMHM (@OurMHM)

Oct 27

27 min 4 sec

From the cyberbullying risks to dangerous social media challenges, many parents feel terrified when their child enters the world of social media. How can families have proactive discussions about navigating the online world responsibly? Dr. Sameer Hinduja, director of the Cyberbullying Research Center joins the show to share practical tips and respond to some of your most commonly asked questions! Visit http://cyberbullying.org (cyberbullying.org) for lots of helpful resources for parents, educators and students! Learn more about our guest—and reach out to him directly with your own questions—at http://www.hinduja.org (hinduja.org). You can also follow him on social media https://twitter.com/hinduja (@Hinduja)   Explore the https://www.commonsense.org/education/SEL (SEL in Digital Life Resource Center) from Common Sense Media  Have a conversation with your children about technology using tips from https://thesmarttalk.org/ (TheSmartTalk.org)  Thanks to NortonLifeLock, a longtime Proud National PTA Sponsor, for supporting this episode. 

Oct 13

24 min 59 sec

What life skills does your child need to thrive? There’s a lot of learning happening in schools that goes beyond academics. Karen Van Ausdal joined our hosts to talk about Social and Emotional Learning. She shares what Social and Emotional Learning looks like, why it’s important and how families can support. Resources: Explore CASEL’s helpful tools including the https://casel.org/reopening-with-sel/ (SEL Roadmap), https://schoolguide.casel.org/ (the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL) and the https://schoolguide.casel.org/resource/sel-discussion-series-for-parents-and-caregivers-english/ (SEL Discussion Series for Parents and Caregivers) (also available in https://schoolguide.casel.org/resource/sel-discussion-series-for-parents-and-caregivers-spanish/ (Spanish)) Don’t miss CASEL’s videos, https://casel.org/what-is-sel/ (What is SEL) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgErDZ2pXZc (Schoolwide SEL: Authentic Family Partnerships)  Follow CASEL on social media https://twitter.com/caselorg (@CASELOrg ) Read “https://ptaourchildren.org/teaching-social-and-emotional-skills-at-home/ (Teaching Social and Emotional Skills at Home)” in PTA’s Our Children online magazine Check out even more SEL resources at PTA.org/socialemotional

Sep 29

25 min 30 sec

As we enter our second Back-to-School season filled with COVID-19 safety precautions, it’s vital that you stay informed. We invited a special guest, Captain Erin Sauber-Schatz, community guidance subject matter expert for CDC's COVID-19 Response, to share the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Resources: Watch National PTA’s https://t.co/fYJd3ZHtyK (Back to Class Virtual Town Hall) hosted in partnership with the CDC. Read through the CDC’s https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html (Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools), their https://www.cdc.gov/parents/children/back-to-school.html (Back to School Reminders) and information about https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/school-testing.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcovid19-school-testing%2Findex.html (School Testing for COVID-19) . Listen to the CDC’s five-minute podcast episode https://tools.cdc.gov/medialibrary/index.aspx#/media/id/424704 (Transitioning Back to School or Early Child Education) Explore the CDC’s https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/parental-resources/adolescence/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2F (COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit) available in English & Spanish Follow the CDC on social media at https://twitter.com/CDCgov (@CDCgov)

Sep 15

21 min 17 sec

Did your last power struggle with your child leave you feeling burnt out? What if we shifted our mindset around parenting, and stopped trying to make our kids happy all the time? Dr. Shefali, a clinical psychologist and author, whose work has been endorsed by Oprah, joins our hosts to discuss parent self-care. She shares her own parenting experiences and philosophy and offers advice on letting go and learning to live in the now.  Resources: Read https://ptaourchildren.org/self-care-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/ (Self Care in the Time of Coronavirus) in Our Children, PTA’s online magazine Get a copy of http://getsuperpowered.com (Superpowered: Transforming Anxiety into Courage, Confidence and Resilience) for your child (ages 8-15)  Learn more about our expert guest at http://www.drshefali.com (drshefali.com)

May 12

26 min 36 sec

Let’s start talking about mental health! For too long, we’ve stigmatized mental health issues and it’s time to have open conversations with our friends and family. We talked to mental health advocate, Allison Raskin, about her personal journey and work to destigmatize these topics. She offers advice for normalizing discussions of mental health in your family and community! Resources: Follow Allison’s mental health social media channel https://www.instagram.com/emotionalsupportlady/?hl=en (@EmotionalSupportLady) and join her https://l.instagram.com/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fpatreon.com%2Femotionalsupportlady%2F&e=ATNCw1--We1UxoSToUTsPrS67IEKs0kPPqBuYRBX2xfYSlNIP_agjyV-MkgBpZVOBkPHuoxrd4dX4zdbUMaYnw&s=1 (Patreon community). Visit NAMI’s https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Pledge-to-Be-StigmaFree (webpage )to learn more about mental health stigma and pledge to be StigmaFree.  For more information about OCD, visit the https://iocdf.org/ (International OCD Foundation website).

May 12

24 min 4 sec

Is your teenager so stressed you worry they’re on the brink of burning out? Teens are still facing the typical pressures of navigating friendships, relationships, college admissions and now a pandemic. Our hosts spoke with adolescent psychologist and best-selling author, Dr. John Duffy, about how families can support their teens during this challenging time. He offers advice and shares how parents can distinguish between typical teenage stress and when it is time to seek help. Resources: Explore relevant resources from Active Minds including their https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/stress-or-anxiety/ (Stress vs. Anxiety) page and their tips for https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/managing-anxiety/ (Managing Your Anxiety). Get more information about anxiety in Child Mind Institute’s article, “https://childmind.org/article/what-are-the-different-kinds-of-anxiety/ (What Are the Different Kinds of Anxiety?)” Learn more about our expert guest at http://www.drjohnduffy.com (drjohnduffy.com)  and get a copy of his latest book https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781642500493 (Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety).

May 12

25 min 50 sec

How can we prepare to meet every child’s needs as they return to school? We spoke with National School Psychologist of the Year, Chandrai Jackson-Saunders to learn how schools can set children up for success and how families can help by focusing on the whole child. She offers concrete strategies school communities should implement to meet the variety of needs children will have in the wake of the pandemic. Resources: The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has lots of resources available about the https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/covid-19-resource-center/return-to-school (return to school), as well as https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/covid-19-resource-center/family-and-educator-resources (family resources) designed to help families like yours! Get even more https://childmind.org/backtoschool/ (back to school resources) from our partners at Child Mind Institute. As your children return to school, if you’re wondering whether they are just a bit behind or may be struggling with a learning difference, check out Understood.org’s http://www.understood.org/take-note/ (Take Note tools). Learn more about our expert guest at http://www.cjsaunders.org (cjsaunders.org).

May 12

27 min 51 sec

Teens experience mental health issues at alarming rates. How can you tell if it’s typical teenage angst or something more serious? If your teen is experiencing depression, how can you best support them? We sat down with Dr. Doreen Marshall, VP of Mission Engagement at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) to get answers to these questions and more. Resources: Visit AFSP’s website to learn more about https://afsp.org/teens-and-suicide-what-parents-should-know (suicide prevention) and to get tips on how to https://afsp.org/realconvo (have a #RealConvo) about mental health. Share https://seizetheawkward.org/ (Seize the Awkward resources) with teens and college students in your life to help them navigate these issues. Learn more about depression on Mental Health America’s https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/depression (webpage) and use their https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/ (screening tools) to gauge if it is time to seek outside help. Familiarize yourself with crisis resources available including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800 273-8255 and the Crisis Text Line: Text “TALK” to 741741.

May 12

26 min

It’s time to rewind! Join our hosts Helen & LaWanda as they look back on highlights from our first three seasons. They discuss some of their favorite pieces of advice and share a sneak peek at our upcoming mini-series. Resources Episodes referenced in this compilation include: https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/middle-school-what-every-parent-should-know (Middle School: What Every Parent Should Know) with Phyllis Fagell https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/how-to-handle-homework (How to Handle Homework: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly) with Steve Sheldon https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/tackling-covid-19-anxiety-together (Tackling COVID-19 Anxiety Together) with Erlanger Turner https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/navigating-online-resources-during-covid-19 (Navigating Online Resources During COVID-19) with Merve Lapus https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/raising-kids-who-embrace-race (Raising Kids Who Embrace Race) with Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/talking-race-kidlit (Talking Race & KidLit) with Kwame Alexander https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/how-to-help-lgbtq-youth-thrive (How to Help LGBTQ Youth Thrive) with Ellen Kahn and Jodie Patterson https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/money-talks-school-finance-101 (Money Talks: School Finance 101) with Marguerite Roza https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/the-truth-about-school-discipline-in-america (The Truth About School Discipline in America) with John King https://www.pta.org/center-for-family-engagement/notes-from-the-backpack/beyond-academics-preparing-your-kids-for-life (Beyond Academics: Preparing Your Kids for Life) with Linda Darling-Hammond Learn more about our show and listen to all of the episodes at http://www.notesfromthebackpack.com/ (www.notesfromthebackpack.com)

Apr 28

28 min 34 sec

You may not be aware, but every school has LGBTQ youth and families. Is your PTA using inclusive language and offering affirming programs and activities? We sat down with two guests from the Human Rights Campaign Ellen Kahn, senior director of programs and partnerships, and Jodie Patterson, board chair of the HRC Foundation, to learn how to become better allies to the LGBTQ community. National PTA & HRC have collaborated on this new LGBTQ glossary to help you understand and use affirming language. Discover resources for creating more inclusive school environments on HRC’s Welcoming Schools page Read Jodie’s book The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation and pre-order Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope Follow the Human Rights Campaign at http://www.twitter.com/HRC (@HRC) and Jodie at @Jodie_GeorgiaNY

Dec 2020

28 min 18 sec

When you think of parent teacher partnerships, conferences and report cards might come to mind, but what if we made family engagement more fun? Colleen Ryan, 2019 Toyota Family Engagement Teacher of the Year shares her innovative approach to building partnerships with families. She offers advice for parents and teachers on how to work together to help kids get what they need to thrive. Resources: Read “6 Ways to Be Engaged in Your Child’s Education” in PTA’s Our Children online magazine Discover more about The Passage, the mobile classroom that Colleen and her colleague launched to bring learning to the neighborhood and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram For more opportunities to learn at home with your kids, check out https://wonderopolis.org/ (Wonderopolis) a project of National Center for Families Learning

Nov 2020

20 min 47 sec

Raising a teenager can be difficult—even under normal circumstances—and COVID-19 has added new challenges. We talked to Dr. Lisa Damour, adolescent psychologist, and high school student Isaac Hurtado, co-host of the hit podcast, Teenager Therapy, to get tips. Isaac shares his experiences and what he’s hearing from other teens as they cope with all that 2020 has thrown at them. Dr. Lisa Damour offers her own professional perspective on these topics, covering everything from remote learning and social media use to anxiety and depression. Resources: Check out these relevant resources on Lisa Damour’s website, including strategies for managing COVID-19 stress and anxiety and tips for raising teenagers Read Dr. Lisa Damour’s New York Times bestselling books, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls and Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood Follow Dr. Lisa Damour at @LDamour and listen to Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting  Follow Isaac Hurtado and Teenager Therapy on social media at @TeenagerTherapy and listen to https://teenagertherapypodcast.com/ (Teenager Therapy)

Nov 2020

29 min 3 sec

Parents dread getting a call from their child’s principal’s office. But maybe It’s time to shift our mindset and think of principals as partners who support our children’s development. We talked with Dr. Tayarisha Batchelor, principal of the Rawson STEAM school in Hartford, Conn., about how families and parent leaders can collaborate with their principal. She shares how she has supported families in her communities during the pandemic and how she helps her staff engage in meaningful family engagement practices.Resources:   The New Teacher Project (TNTP) has released two new resources, the COVID-19 School Response Toolkit, geared towards families, and the 5 Essentials for Engaging Families in Reopening Efforts for school leaders.   Watch our webinar Family Engagement in a Virtual World to learn more about connecting with families during distance learning Check out NAFSCE’s Family Engagement during COVID-19 Survey Results Follow Dr. Tayarisha Batchelor on Twitter at http://www.twitter.come/TstoneTG (@TstoneTG)

Nov 2020

26 min 38 sec

Do you want to talk to your kids about race and racism, but not sure where to start? We spoke to Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, founders of EmbraceRace, to learn how to approach these conversations with young children. Using their professional expertise, and their own parenting experiences, Melissa and Andrew also share advice on raising advocates for racial justice. Resources: Explore the wealth of resources EmbraceRace offers. 16 ways to help children become thoughtful, informed and BRAVE about race is a great place to start! Check out National PTA’s diversity, equity and inclusion resources, including How to Talk about Race & Justice in America Read “How to Talk to Your Child about Racism” in PTA’s Our Children online magazine Follow EmbraceRace on social media at @RaceEmbrace

Nov 2020

29 min 10 sec

What can families do to address bullying and how can schools act proactively to prevent bullying altogether? We talked with Dr. Deborah Temkin, the vice president VP Youth Development & Education Research at Child Trends to get answers. She shares strategies for supporting children who are bullied and offers advice to parents who have learned that their child is doing the bullying. Resources: Visit StopBullying.gov for resources related to bullying, including cyberbullying and bullying prevention. Read “Life Lessons: How to Stand up to Bullying with Books” and “Helping Your Child Understand Cyberbullying” in PTA’s Our Children online magazine. Follow Deb Temkin on Twitter @DrDebTemkin 

Oct 2020

24 min 43 sec

You probably find yourself thinking a lot about your child’s academics, but what about their engagement in the arts? We interviewed Julian Bass, a two-time PTA Reflections winner, who has gone on to make a name for himself as a filmmaker and visual effects artist. He shares how his own parents supported his artistic journey and how families can encourage their children to follow their dreams. Resources: Get involved with Reflections today by coordinating with  your State Reflections Chair, registering your PTA to join the program or starting with some at-home arts activities! Celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month with National PTA and Americans for the Arts by sharing your artwork in the Show Your Art Challenge on social media using #ShowYourArt2020!  Read Jump-Start the Arts With the Whole Family in PTA’s Our Children online magazine Follow Julian Bass on social media at @TheJulianBass

Oct 2020

19 min 49 sec

If you’ve noticed your child is struggling with academics more than usual, but you’re not sure if it’s due to the pandemic or signs of a learning difference, we’re here to help. We spoke with Amanda Morin, writer and senior expert at Understood.org to learn strategies for supporting students with learning differences during online and hybrid learning. She offers advice on helping your kids stay organized, read social cues, manage distractions and more. Resources: Practice taking N.O.T.E (Notice, Observe, Talk, and Engage) of your child’s learning patterns with Understood.org’s Take N.O.T.E resources. Read through Amanda’s suggestions for making your child’s accommodations work in an online setting in her post “IEP Accommodations During Distance Learning” Listen to Understood.org’s podcast, In It: A Podcast on Raising Kids Who Learn and Think Differently, hosted by Amanda Follow Amanda on Twitter at @AmandaMorin and Understood.org at @UnderstoodOrg

Oct 2020

29 min 8 sec

With the presidential election less than a month away, how are you talking to your kids about civic engagement? We spoke to U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, who offers wisdom from her experience in the classroom and on the Hill. She shares how families can help kids become active citizens and lifelong voters by encouraging them to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways. For more resources to teach your kids about the election, check out https://www.icivics.org/election (these tools) from iCivics Read through the Congresswoman’s tips for families that she shared with National PTA as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year Follow Congresswoman Hayes on Twitter and Instagram at @RepJahanaHayes

Oct 2020

27 min 45 sec

Will school closures and distance learning be a temporary setback for kids’ learning or will it have a permanent effect on their education? We spoke with Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading to get his perspective on the impact COVID-19 is having in the hardest hit communities. He offers suggestions for parent leaders looking to support the most vulnerable learners and their families during this challenging time. Resources: Learn more about COVID-19’s impact on families and children by exploring Learning Heroes’ report: “Parents 2020: COVID-19 Closures - A Redefining Moment for Students, Parents, and Schools” Keep your child on track this year with the help from these literacy & math Family Guides, created by Seek Common Ground and Student Achievement Partners Discover what COVID-19 recovery could look like in the Learning Policy Institute’s framework, “Restarting and Reinventing School: Learning in the Time of COVID and Beyond” Follow the Campaign for Grade Level Reading on Twitter at @ReadingBy3rd

Sep 2020

26 min 36 sec

Are you overwhelmed by all of the online resources available to your child but not sure where to start? During this unusual school year, we need to help our children find online resources that meet their needs. We turned to Merve Lapus of Common Sense Media who shared how families can set students up for success this school year. Listen to discover helpful learning resources and tips for establishing healthy online habits.  Resources: Visit Wide Open School for a daily schedule of educational activities curated by Common Sense Media Read Common Sense Media’s report, “Closing the K–12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning” Listen to our interview with Dr. Natalie Milman from Season 2, Online Learning during COVID-19, for more ideas Follow Merve Lapus on Twitter and Instagram at https://twitter.com/molapus (@MoLapus)

Sep 2020

27 min 1 sec

How many books on your children’s shelves feature Black and Brown characters? The stories we read to our children should be mirrors to see themselves and windows to see others who are different from them. We spoke with Newbery Medal award-winning author, Kwame Alexander about the importance of representation in kids’ literature. He shared about his own writing process, how to inspire your kids to write and some of his favorite books! Resources: Explore the books published by Kwame’s own imprint, Versify. Pre-order Kwame’s next book, Becoming Muhammed Ali, via Barnes & Noble or Amazon Watch Lee & Low’s webinar, “Representation Matters: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Bookshelf” Check out National PTA’s Our Children article, “5 Great Kids’ Books that Highlight Diversity” Follow Kwame Alexander on Twitter and Instagram at @KwameAlexander

Sep 2020

27 min 12 sec

As school districts plan for an unprecedented back-to-school season, money is particularly tight. We invited Dr. Marguerite Roza, our guest from Education Finance 101: Money Talks, back to the show to give us an update. She shares what's currently happening in the world of education finance and how families can advocate for their child's needs.

Jun 2020

12 min 15 sec

As the school year wraps up virtually, families around the world are wondering, what comes next? We spoke with Amalia Chamorro, Associate Director of Education Policy at UNIDOS US to learn more about COVID-19’s impact on our children and its potential impact on the back-to-school season. She reflects on the drastic changes families have faced these last few months and how schools and families will continue to have to adapt moving forward. Resources: Discover more education resources from UNIDOS US at http://progressreport.co (progressreport.co) Check out the results from the recent COVID-19-focused poll Amalia referred to Follow UNIDOS US on Twitter at @WeAreUnidosUS   Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.

Jun 2020

23 min 8 sec

Whether it’s brushing their teeth or turning off the TV, all of our kids have something that sets off an emotional outburst. So how can we work with our kids to create less stress and conflict around daily routines? We talked with Dr. Ross Greene, psychologist and founder of Lives in Balance, about how to address a child’s toughest behaviors. He shares how taking a collaborative and proactive approach can improve your relationships with your children and bring peace to your homes! Resources: Learn more about Dr. Greene’s work on the Lives in the Balance website Lives in the Balance offers a variety of resources including podcasts, https://www.livesinthebalance.org/two-minute-videos ( videos) and more Follow Lives on the Balance on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LITB_ (@LITB_) For more advice, check out PTA’s Our Children magazine article, “Ask an Expert: How to Handle Your Kid’s Bad Habits” Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.

May 2020

26 min 36 sec

Our kids seem to have endless questions about everyday life and sometimes the WHY questions can get a little frustrating. However, encouraging this curiosity is good for their development. We spoke with Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, about how you can support your budding scientist. Dr. O’Donnell discusses how families can find science in the world around them and shares fun activities you can do at home! Resources: Explore The Learning Lab where families can access free resources from the Smithsonian’s museums, zoo, cultural and research centers & libraries. Check out the Smithsonian Science Center’s new learning module, “https://ssec.si.edu/covid-19 (COVID-19! How Can I Protect Myself & Others?)” geared towards students in 3rd-8th grade. Encourage the little inventor in your life with these http://invent.org/at-home (hands on activities) from our partners at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Read PTA’s Our Children magazine article, “Three Tips for Raising Curious Kids” Follow the Smithsonian Science Education Center on Twitter at @SmithsonianScie Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.  

May 2020

28 min 7 sec

Reading is a fun activity for the whole family, but what should you do when your child struggles with words—or worse, if they declare they don’t like reading? We talked with Dr. Rebecca Silverman, professor at Stanford University, to learn how we can raise lifelong readers. She offered strategies for fostering a love of reading and guidance on what you should expect from your child at each age. Resources: Visit two of Dr. Silverman’s favorite reading websites: Colorín Colorado and Reading Rockets Families of children with special needs can explore Understood.org for helpful articles and resources Check out https://www.rif.org/pta (this special PTA portal) via Reading is Fundamental for discounted books just for PTA families Learn more about Dr. Silverman’s work at LanglitLab.stanford.edu.

May 2020

26 min 21 sec

In this special episode our hosts sat down with National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, in front of a live audience at National PTA’s Legislative Conference. During this candid conversation, Rodney offered his insights into the teaching profession, issues of equity, school discipline and the importance of recruiting more black educators. Resources: Check out PTA’s Our Children magazine profile on Rodney Robinson and his work Learn more about Rodney Robinson on the CCSSO 2019 Teacher of the Year page Discover more ways you can support the teachers in your life on our Teacher Appreciation Week page Follow Rodney Robinson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RodRobinsonRVA (@RodRobinsonRVA) Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.  

May 2020

33 min 2 sec

From navigating new forms of technology to keeping track of kids’ assignments, online learning during COVID-19 presents unique challenges. We talked with Dr. Natalie Milman, professor of Education Technology at George Washington University, to get her insights into emergency remote teaching and learning, education technology and more. She shares strategies for supporting your child academically, as well as guidance for making it through this difficult situation. Resources: Read Dr. Milman’s recent articles, This Is Emergency Remote Teaching, Not Just Online Teaching and Pandemic Pedagogy Check out more tips for Building Positive Conditions for Learning at Home from AIR Look through http://www.pta.org/covid19 (National PTA’s COVID-19 response page) for even more resources Follow Dr. Milman on Twitter at @NatalieBMilman Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.  

Apr 2020

24 min 19 sec

Sometimes you can’t help but wonder, what is my kid thinking? While it may seem like our kid’s actions and reactions are random and unpredictable, you can discover a lot when you dig into the science of learning. We spoke with Dr. Brandi Kenner, senior consultant at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, about how a child’s brain works. She shared essential information for understanding your child’s responses and helpful strategies for teaching them how to manage their emotions and behavior. Resources: Read “Understanding Your Teenager’s Brain” for more insights into the science of learning Discover helpful resources for families and educators on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s COVID-19 webpage  Find online early childhood resources for language and literacy development at http://coxcampus.org/ (CoxCampus.org) Follow Dr. Kenner on Twitter at @BrandiKenner and visit ChoiceFilledLives.org to learn more about her work Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.

Apr 2020

25 min 42 sec

The world of special education can be overwhelming for families—especially right now, as families are navigating learning from home. Perhaps you see your child struggling with their school work, but you’re not sure if they qualify, or would even benefit from support services. Maybe your child is in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and you’re worried about how to make sure they receive adequate services during school shutdowns. We talked with expert Debra Jennings, from the Statewide Parent Education Network (SPAN), to address these concerns and more. Resources: Check out PTA’s Our Children magazine article 10 Ways Children with Language Disorders Can Maintain Connection During Coronavirus. The Center for Parent Information & Resources Library is a searchable database that will help families navigate the special education and early intervention systems. The organization has also curated a collection of resources related to COVID-19 for families of children with disabilities.   Families can connect with the Center for Parent Information & Resources to find a Parent Center their state and community Follow @parentcenterhub on Twitter for even more resources and information Was this episode helpful to you and your family? Share your thoughts with us via social media https://twitter.com/NationalPTA (@NationalPTA) and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.   

Apr 2020

24 min 7 sec

COVID-19 has drastically changed our daily lives in a short period of time. Children are learning at home, and parents are working remotely—while also supporting the social and emotional needs of their children and managing the stress of being homebound. We talked with psychologist, author and professor Dr. Erlanger "Earl" Turner about these new challenges to learn how to stay happy, healthy and learning during this difficult time. He shares tips for setting routines, managing your mental health and coping with uncertainty. Resources: Read 6 Ways to Help Your Child Manage their Anxiety and Talking with Your Children about Stress by our partners at the American Psychological Association Visit the Anxiety & Depression Association of America to find tips specific to COVID-19 and mental health. Look through http://www.pta.org/covid19 (National PTA’s COVID-19 response page) for more resources Follow Dr. Earl on Twitter at @DrEarlTurner

Apr 2020

25 min 59 sec

When you ask school administrators for smaller class sizes or more school counselors and after school programs, we  often hear a common refrain, “There’s no money for that.” So how much money is there exactly and what is it being spent on? We spoke with Dr. Marguerite Roza, Director of the Edunomics Lab to learn about the mystery of education finance. She offers practical guidance on how families can stay informed about their school district’s financial decisions and how they can advocate for the priorities they care most about. Resources: Discover how your school’s spending compares to others by searching in the Edunomics Lab's School Spending Data Hub. Curious about more best practices? Read Marguerite’s piece, “Equipping School Leaders to Spend Wisely”. Learn more about the Edunomics Lab's Certificate in Education Finance, offered through Georgetown University. The program helps build practical skills to understand, use and communicate about school finance. Follow Marguerite Roza and the Edunomics Lab on Twitter at @Marguerite Roza and @EdunomicsLab. Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA and by using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.    

Mar 2020

27 min 13 sec

When your child comes home from school after a lockdown drill, what’s the best way to start a conversation about it? We turn to expert Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez for guidance on these issues. She shares how to have open and honest conversations with children of all ages about lockdown drills, school shootings and all of the emotions that come along with these topics. Resources: Read Edith’s CNN articles, “What school threats and lockdowns are doing to a generation of children” and “Parkland suicide deaths highlight long-term psychological impacts of mass shootings”. Read “The Impact of School Safety Drills for Active Shootings” to explore guidance from Everytown for Gun Safety, AFT and NEA. Listen to Edith’s podcast, “Las Doctoras Recomendian” and share with the Spanish-speaking families in your community! Follow Edith on Twitter at @LaDoctoraEdith and her podcast @DoctorasPodcast Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA, using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.   

Mar 2020

25 min 43 sec

With hyper-competitive leagues for kids as young as six years old—and hours of practice even during the off season—youth sports aren’t just fun and games. We talked with Jon Solomon, former sports journalist and editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program, about how families can best navigate this aspect of their kids’ lives. He offers advice for talking with tough coaches and helping your child find balance between athletics and academics. Resources Explore the Healthy Sports Index to learn the benefits and risks of specific sports to help determine the best choice for your child! Use the Project Play Parent Checklists to ask yourself 10 questions that will help ensure your child has positive sports experiences. Discover more about the benefits of free play in our episode, “Recess – is it just for play? Follow Jon Solomon and the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program on Twitter at @JonSolomonAspen and @AspenInstSports Like this episode? Share your thoughts with us via social media @NationalPTA, using #BackpackNotes. Be sure to visit NotesFromTheBackpack.com for more resources from this episode.

Mar 2020

25 min 10 sec

Your child’s school helps prepare them for academic success, but are they also preparing students for success in life? From your kid’s schedule to the layout of their classroom, many aspects of school life have remained the same for decades. So how can you tell if your child’s school is supporting their long-term growth? Linda Darling-Hammond, president & CEO of the Learning Institute, gives her expert opinion. She shares what signs you should look for to see if your child’s school is fostering their holistic development, and what you can do at home to raise well-rounded lifelong learners.

Nov 2019

28 min 21 sec

The college application process can be intense and complex—with many financial challenges for students and their families. If you’ve found yourself asking, “Does my child even have a fair chance at college? And given its cost, is a four-year degree even worth it?” you’re not alone. We sat down with Sekou Biddle, vice president of advocacy at the United Negro College Fund to get concrete strategies and essential information to help you find the path that’s right for your family. We also explored the student perspective by chatting with Nya, a junior at Old Dominion University, who shares how she managed the college process.

Nov 2019

34 min 28 sec

Teachers and administrators are striving to engage families in more meaningful ways. How can you partner with schools to best support your child and other students in your community? We chatted with Dr. Karen Mapp, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, about best practices—and what we can do to improve family-school partnerships. She shares how to tell if your school is really dedicated to engaging families and how to create strong, trusting relationships with everyone in the school community.

Oct 2019

29 min 52 sec

What questions should you be asking to get the information you need when you communicate with your child’s teacher? Are certain questions “better” than others? We turn to Luz Santana, co-director of the Right Question Institute to learn how to prepare questions that will produce meaningful and helpful answers. She shares how parents can go beyond the typical, “How is my child doing?” to spark more in-depth conversations. We also get her advice on common issues families have and how asking the right questions can improve these situations.

Oct 2019

21 min 45 sec

Homework is a major source of stress for students and their parents, but it isn’t all bad. When effective, homework reinforces the concepts that students learn in school and provides opportunities for families to be involved in their child’s learning. In this episode, we speak with Steve Sheldon, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, who offers the information and strategies you need to make homework time more successful in your household. We also hear from Elementary School Principal and PTA leader, Shaneeka Moore-Lawrence on the benefits of homework and what really is the “right” amount per night.

Oct 2019

30 min 43 sec

How do you help your child learn to overcome communication challenges and be a good friend to others? We turn to author and parenting expert Jennifer Miller to explore how you can build these social and emotional skills with your child. She shares what it takes to raise a confident child and how you can become a more confident parent. We also discuss how to turn some of your toughest parenting moments into meaningful learning opportunities, and what to look for in schools to know if they are helping your child develop in this important area.

Oct 2019

36 min 2 sec

What does it really mean to be “engaged” in your child’s education? For busy parents, it is impossible to do it all: attend and volunteer at school events, check the backpack and help with homework, drive to after school activities—while also planning meals and maintaining your home. Kwesi Rollins from the Institute for Educational Leadership gives us a realistic view of the barriers families face when trying to engage with their child’s school. He also shares how school districts across the country are making family engagement more meaningful and inclusive for families who aren’t involved in the traditional ways.

Oct 2019

29 min 40 sec

We discuss why recess is important for students’ physical health—as well as their social and emotional development—and take a look at what schools and families are doing to protect and enhance recess time at school. Researcher and dad, William Massey, explains the benefits of recess, what high-quality recess looks like and how parents can get involved in recess. PTA leader and school board member, Angie Gallo, also shares how you can become a recess advocate in your community.

Sep 2019

24 min 59 sec

We dive into parents’ top concerns about middle school with Phyllis Fagell—school counselor, therapist, author and mother of three. She gives us a deeper look at what is going on with middle schoolers developmentally and how families can address adolescent friendship issues, social media use and bullying. We also offer practical tips and ways both families and schools can best support our tweens.

Sep 2019

26 min 47 sec

We sit down with Bibb Hubbard—a mother and founder of Learning Heroes—to explore the research around what families and kids think about student academic achievement, how schools and districts can improve the way they share information with families, and what families can do to gauge if their child is on track and advocate for a more accurate picture of their progress. Liz Goshorn gives a mother’s perspective on how you can better understand your child’s academic progress in school and identify their academic strengths and areas for growth.

Sep 2019

33 min 48 sec

Get the inside scoop on school discipline in America from former U.S. Secretary of Education and President of the Education Trust John B. King, Jr. We discuss the dangers of policies that keep children out of regular classroom learning, and what approaches schools can use to help students become responsible, thriving adults. King shares lessons learned from his personal and professional experiences and gives us insight into how disciplinary actions can affect self-esteem and bias and speaks to how we can build more “windows” and “mirrors” to help all children succeed.

Sep 2019

36 min 20 sec

Find out what Notes from the Backpack is all about! Hosts LaWanda Toney and Helen Westmoreland give listeners a preview of what they can expect when they tune in to National PTA’s new podcast series.

Sep 2019

4 min 39 sec