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My 8-year-old son’s teacher suggests evaluating him for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because he is unfocused and distractible. While he’s more fidgety than his sister, he can sit transfixed all day on video games. Could video games cause these inattentive behaviors?

There is no evidence that TV or video games cause ADHD, yet super-fast-paced TV shows and video games have a special appeal for kids who have ADHD, says Dr. Natalie Weder, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute (childmind.org).

“If you think about ‘SpongeBob,’ or a video game, there’s never a second when there’s nothing happening on the screen,” she says. “If you’re playing a video game, you have to immediately respond; otherwise, you lose. You don’t have time to think.

“Kids with ADHD are very drawn to that because it makes them have to pay attention. There are no gaps for them to start thinking about something else.”

When kids are absorbed in video games, they aren’t displaying the kind of attention required by day-to-day tasks, such as getting ready for school or finishing an assignment.

While it may appear your son shows sustained attention in a video game, “the truth is that the task is changing so rapidly, short bursts of attention are all that’s involved,” says Dr. Ron Steingard, also a child psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute. “These games are constantly shifting focus, and there is instant gratification and reward.”

If your son is “transfixed all day” on games, change your parenting game plan. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than an hour per day of total media screen time for elementary school-age children.

That much screen time means time not spent doing other things more valuable for their development, notes Weder. “It takes time away from doing more creative or more learning-based activities, and from interaction with family and friends that helps them with their social skills.”

If you decide to get him evaluated, know that the process isn’t an exact science. First, talk with his teacher and school specialists to gather more information on why they made the suggestion. Next, do your homework to learn the definition of ADHD. Become familiar with the debate about over-diagnosis and over-prescribing of drugs.

There are reputable websites that describe the evaluation and diagnosis process, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (healthychildren.org); the Child Mind Institute, (childmind.org); the National Institute of Mental Health, (nimh.nih.gov); and the National Resource Center on AD/HD (help4adhd.org).

Then visit your pediatrician for a screening to rule out any physical conditions, such as hearing problems. If you’re confident that your pediatrician has experience with ADHD, he or she may be able to evaluate your son. If not, ask for a referral to an ADHD specialist — a neurologist, child psychiatrist, child psychologist or licensed counselor who has deep experience and can apply it to your son’s case.

In the meantime, cut back on video games. At an age when developing social skills is critically important, “no kid should spend unlimited time sitting in front of a screen in lieu of playing with other kids,” says Steingard.

Our daughter, Celia, failed sixth-grade math and started summer school. She isn’t motivated and finds it embarrassing. (She’s never had math trouble before.) We’ve threatened to take her cellphone away, but she’s indifferent. She says math is hard and the teacher lacks sympathy. Should we try an online course?

Online programs require motivation for a student to succeed, but it’s an option, “and options are what you should explore right now,” says Jane Bluestein, a New Mexico educator who coaches parents on student motivation.

Research shows that many girls do well in elementary math, but decline in middle school. As math gets more challenging, some girls begin to view it as a “talent,” something you’re either good at or not, while boys tend to view math as a skill to be learned, notes Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck.

“If this is the case, be understanding, and help her shift to an ‘I can’ mindset,” says Bluestein. “Here’s the approach: She’s fallen behind. No biggie. We all do. She has a chance to catch up. How does she want to do that? Figure out the options. Let her know that not improving is not an option. She can have her ’summer’ as soon as she passes sixth-grade math.”

Schedule a conference with the teacher, including Celia. The teacher probably has more sympathy than you realize! Find out what Celia needs to be ready for seventh grade. Ask about your daughter’s strengths and weaknesses; identify skills she can practice with a supplemental online course, and what evaluation will prove that she passed. Ask about materials, activities, games and online courses to supplement summer school.

Because the main goal here is improvement, consider a private tutor, such as a retired teacher, college student or a private tutoring company that offers one-on-one attention.

“Unfortunately, many summer programs are punitive in how they’re presented to students. This way, she doesn’t have to deal with what she considers a stigma,” says Bluestein.

“Celia is old enough to control some of the choices about how to improve in math,” says Bluestein. “Ask her how she wants to get caught up and pass whatever evaluation is required to exit sixth grade. Give her two or three choices — staying in summer school being one of them — as well as a list of privileges she can have, or regain, as soon as she starts showing improvement or meets the requirements that will be expected of her when she starts seventh grade.”

Use positive consequences, not threats. When you emphasize positive consequences, you avoid negative reactions and put the responsibility on your daughter, where it belongs, Bluestein urges. Rather than say, “If you won’t go to summer school, we’re canceling your iPhone!” try, “Catch up on the content you need to do well in seventh grade — and you have these options for accomplishing that. As soon as you do, you get your privileges back.”

You might want to add her privileges back little by little as she starts showing improvement and commitment.

There are many local and virtual communities of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) mentors — professionals who volunteer to tutor girls in these subjects and introduce them to STEM careers. Consider connecting Celia to one in the fall, suggests Bluestein, who says, “Seeing how to use math in a cool career can be a big motivator.”

Our son Brian’s second-grade teacher wrote that he did well enough in reading to avoid summer school, but recommended that we “read aloud a lot to him this summer, focusing on nonfiction.” School’s out, so I can’t ask her why. Does that help him with his reading? Why nonfiction?

Yes, reading aloud to your rising third-grader will help him become a better reader. Jim Trelease describes the many benefits of reading aloud to preschool and school-age children in his classic work, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” (Penguin, 2013).

Reading aloud introduces children to vocabulary not found in day-to-day conversation, says Trelease.

“In conversation, we use shorthand, not full sentences,” he says. “The language in books is very rich. When you read books, newspapers and magazines to your child, you introduce him to more sophisticated language. A child introduced to sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words. Reading aloud also teaches a child to focus.” (See trelease-on-reading.com.)

Research shows that as little as 15 minutes of reading aloud to your son each day can greatly increase his reading power. If you choose a book that’s on or just above his reading level, encourage him to follow along with the text, so he sees new words and hears your pronunciation.

Why nonfiction? Much of what we read in life is nonfiction. The new Common Core State Standards emphasize it. Sometimes referred to as “informational text,” it helps us learn about real people, places and events. Nonfiction requires different comprehension skills than fiction, such as deriving meaning from photos with captions, comprehending data in a chart and using footnotes and glossaries.

Brian’s teacher may also recommend it because nonfiction is a great way to get boys into reading. The text is often more accessible than fiction, more descriptive and straightforward, with photos, illustrations, maps and charts.

Plan your summer reading around topics that interest your son, recommends Jonathan Rosenbloom, founding editor of the nonfiction Time for Kids Big Book series.

“If he loves sports,” Rosenbloom says, “find biographies or autobiographies of players; go to sports sites or newspaper sports pages and magazines such as Sports Illustrated for Kids. Nonfiction helps kids learn about the world by leaps and bounds.

“How better to find answers to his questions about deep-sea divers, how fast turtles swim, or how to take care of a new pet goldfish than to read about the topic with you?”

Ask your local librarian to help you gather print and online resources to read to Brian. Check out grade level-appropriate books for him to read to you.

It’s good news that Brian doesn’t have to go to summer school. But his second-grade teacher raised a red flag. Read every day with him this summer and encourage him to read independently, too. Plan to meet with Brian’s new teacher in the fall. Third grade is a critical year to diagnose any reading problems and nip them in the bud.

Our son starts kindergarten this fall. The school sent readiness suggestions about reading, socialization and the importance of “math talk.” What’s that and why is it important?

Math talk is incorporating math concepts into everyday conversations. “Children benefit when parents verbalize and show kids the math in basic household tasks,” says Antoinette Noel, a mom and math teacher in Polk County, Florida.

Noel offers an example: “Let’s cut the whole pizza into eight slices. First, in half. That makes two big pieces. Now let’s cut those two pieces in half. That makes four smaller pieces. If we cut each of those in half, we get eight slices — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.”

Simply being able to count to 10 on the first day of school no longer qualifies as the pinnacle of math preparedness for kindergarteners. To see why math talk is important, review math learning at each grade level at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics website (nctm.org), or check your state’s math standards at greatschools.org.

“Preschoolers can count the number of utensils, placemats and cups needed to set the table or count out juice boxes for the refrigerator,” says Noel. “Talk about fractions when you are sharing — here’s half an orange for you, half for me. Have kids add ingredients while cooking to learn measurement: cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, quarts and so on.”

Find non-kitchen opportunities too, says Noel. “I have my son, a budding engineer, count off sections of our tiled floor to stage his projects. That leads to a conversation about square footage. I have him measure dimensions of our carry-on suitcase before traveling to ensure it meets overhead-bin size requirements. When we painted a room, we measured walls to figure out how much paint we’d need. One of his favorite toys is a tape measure.”

Once you get going, it’s easy and natural to talk math, says Noel. “Don’t dumb it down. Hearing the vocabulary of math is important, even if they don’t understand it. Use big words such as estimation, probability, calculate, explaining as you go, but keep the dialogue moving. When you say and show, ‘If you have three pennies, and you subtract one, you’re left with two. That’s subtraction!’ you’re helping build powerful vocabulary.”

Keep math talk exciting, too, “because math is fun and beautiful, and kids should look forward to algebra, geometry and so on as they grow older,” advises Noel. “Never infer that you didn’t like math or think it’s hard.”

Math talk shouldn’t stop after kindergarten, Noel believes. “Keep it up as your child grows in understanding.”

Children need to know that math is all about trial and error, about experimenting, says Jordan Ellenberg, the author of “How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” (Penguin, 2014). While not a beach book, it’s worth a spot on your summer reading list!

Want to brush up on your skills? Go to Khan Academy (khanacademy.org), an education website, where you can register for free.

Our boys are begging to get a TV in their room. I think it would be OK for the summer; we’d remove it when school starts. My husband says it’s bad for their health and we should leave the TV in the family room. What’s the harm?

Why set yourself up for a battle in the fall? I’m with your husband — let them continue to watch and play in the family room.

While approximately 60 percent of the nation’s 10- to 14-year-olds have TVs in their bedrooms, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Groups ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to the National Sleep Foundation are unanimous in their recommendation: Make it a household rule: no TV in kids’ bedrooms.

There’s a growing body of research showing that TVs (as well as tablets, smartphones and other digital devices) in kids’ bedrooms can harm their development. Diane Gilbert-Diamond, a professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, is the lead researcher on a recent study that suggests a possible link between kids having TV in the bedroom and more sedentary behavior, snacking and exposure to food ads, leading to weight gain. Other studies have shown that a TV in the bedroom can mean shorter sleep cycles and less healthy sleep.

Television is also a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping behavior. There are many studies showing that children who watch TV without parental guidance and oversight may become “immune” or numb to the horror of violence they see on many programs, begin to accept violence as a way to solve problems, and often imitate the violence they see on TV.

Jessica Kelmon, senior editor at greatschools.org, follows the research. “Kids with TVs in their rooms read less, score lower on tests in school, tend to have sleep issues, and may be more likely to smoke in adolescence,” she writes.

Plus, TV takes precious time away from all the great things we want kids to enjoy. “The average American youth spends roughly 900 hours in school each year — and about 1,200 hours a year watching TV,” Kelmon explains.

She adds, “1,200 hours is 150 school days.”

With all of our digital devices, she contends, “It’s never been easier — TV or no TV — for children to be transfixed by endless hours of videos on YouTube, TV shows on Hulu, and movies on Netflix from the comfort of their rooms.”

Kelmon advises parents to block the box from the bedroom and follow these tips:

– Make TV viewing an active choice, as if you were picking a movie: “How about if we watch this show at 7:30?”

– Hide the remote. “Channel surfing encourages passive viewing,” says Kelmon. “When family members have to get up to change the channel, they may be more selective about the programs they watch.”

– When the show you’ve chosen to watch is over, turn off the set. Don’t keep the TV on for background noise.

– Record programs and watch them later. Kelmon fast-forwards through commercials because it “cuts minutes of viewing and temptation to spend more time glued to the tube.”

– Have kids watch their favorite shows in a central area of the home. “Even if you’re not sitting down with them, check in while passing through,” says Kelmon. “That way, you keep closer tabs on what they’re watching.”

For more television advice from Kelmon, check out her blog post, “Is there a TV in your child’s room?” at greatschools.org, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaKelmon.

I want our kids to ditch their digital devices and get connected with nature this summer. We can’t afford a trip, but we have a big yard and live near rural areas. Do you have any suggestions?

I have plenty.

– Plant a veggie garden. The National Gardening Association has suggestions on how you can get started. Choose crops that mature quickly, so your kids can see results right away. Lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, sugar snap peas and beans are fast growers. Tomato plants take longer. Use well-drained containers or raised beds filled with light, fluffy soil. Plant a pot of herbs that kids can tend and then snip for a dinner salad.

For more tips on what will do well in your growing zone, go to www.kidsgardening.org.

– Go off the grid. On June 28, more than 200,000 families will take part in the 10th annual Great American Backyard Campout, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. You can do it as a family, or host a “public” campout for the whole neighborhood. Find camping tips as well as campfire recipes, songs, stories and games at www.nwf.org/great-american-backyard-campout.aspx.

– Find out what goes on in your backyard, suggests science educator Nadia Harvieux, director of New York’s Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association’s Watershed Education Program.

“Have each family member mark off a square yard on your lawn,” she says. “Study it over a week. Each person keeps a field journal with notes, photos or illustrations. Discuss what you see and record it. Kids are always amazed at how much life there is out your back door.”

Field journals are places for kids to record observations, thoughts, questions, measurements, data and their interpretations of what they see. Both amateur and professional researchers keep them as permanent records of their work to share with other scientists.

– Identify backyard birds. Take a day trip through a local ecosystem such as a marsh, lake or beach to get to know birds that live there seasonally and year-round, suggests the National Audubon Society. Bird walks are most productive in early morning or late afternoon. For tips on family birding outdoors, go to education.audubon.org/birding-tips-families.

– Become citizen scientists. Citizen science is ongoing research in which professional scientists collaborate with interested members of the general public. Many citizen science projects involve nature and the environment, often inspiring children and teens to engage more deeply in science in high school and college.

For more information, search “citizen science” at www.sciencebuddies.org.

– Read about scientists working in the great outdoors. One spectacular series is “Scientists in the Field” — stories and photos of scientists working throughout the natural world, from swimming with hammerhead sharks to tracking wolves. The latest book in the series is “Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

In addition, David A. Adler’s new biography, “Colonel Theodore Roosevelt” (Holiday House, 2014), explains why and how President Roosevelt launched the effort to preserve national parks and public lands.

Our boys, aged 12 and 10, are going to soccer camp this summer. The younger one is a good player. The older one hates it — and while I can’t show it, I do, too. It’s expensive, time-consuming and takes the leisure out of summer. My husband wants the boys to become good players, so they can get athletic scholarships. What are the odds?

Not great. There are 7 million high school athletes, and spots on college rosters for just 2 percent of them. Of those, only 1 percent get a “full ride” scholarship, says Tiffin, Ohio, coach Seth Almekinder, who has taught in U.S. and international schools. “Many of those are worth less than the family’s investment in getting kids to that level.”

Less than 9 percent of boys who take part in high school soccer play college soccer at any level, says Almekinder: “Division III doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, so those students pay to play unless they get academic scholarships.” (Go to www.scholarshipstats.com/varsityodds.html.)

A more pressing issue is your son who hates soccer. “Don’t force a child to participate in any non-required activity in which he or she isn’t a willing participant,” urges Almekinder. “I’m not advocating quitting a team midseason — kids learn from seeing a commitment through. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

“Summer should be fun and enriching. There are so many activities your older son might enjoy — from robotics to museum classes to hiking. Find one. Your son will be happier and so will the family.”

Three of four families with school-aged kids have at least one in an organized sport. “By age 15, as many as 80 percent of these youngsters have quit,” says Massachusetts coach Jay Atkinson, referencing data from the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine.

Almekinder says it’s because most parents, whether coaching or cheering, don’t understand the developmental levels of youth sport.

“The first is entry-level recreational,” he says. “Participants are ages 4 to 10. The purpose is fun exposure to a sport. Everyone participates, and playing time is equal. Score can be kept, but winning and losing are secondary to participation. Coaching is focused on fundamental skills, not team tactics or strategy.”

The second level is developmental. “Tactics and game strategy are added to skill development,” notes Almekinder. “This stage corresponds to middle school through junior varsity, when travel teams begin.”

The final level is competitive. “This is where winning and losing matter as an aspect of participation,” Almekinder explains. “Players are selected based on ability and skill. The best play the most. This is sport at high school varsity, college and the pros. When parents or coaches pressure young athletes, allow poor sportsmanship, and make winning the goal, they lose sight of the developmental levels of sports and turn kids off.”

Unstructured pick-up games in the backyard or alleyway add fun to vacation. “They bring kids together without oversight of adults,” says Almekinder. “Before the rise of organized youth sports outside of school, that was what summer was for most kids — playing with friends in the neighborhood. There’s nothing wrong with that!”

This summer, I want to teach my daughter, a rising high school sophomore, to be a smarter saver, because she’s not learning it at school and she now has a summer job. Where can I find resources?

You’re smart to take this on. Only 17 states require a personal-finance course to graduate.

Yet financial illiteracy is a big threat facing our country, says certified public accountant John J. Vento, author of “Financial Independence” (Wiley, 2013): It’s passed “from generation to generation, because parents often lack financial literacy, too.”

Some teens learn money management themselves. A seventh-grader I know walks dogs, organizes closets and cleans refrigerators to meet a big goal: earn $4,000 by the time she’s 16 to buy a car so she can commute to a “real” job. Is her older brother equally motivated? Not so much, says their mom: “She’s from Planet Save-It. He was born on Planet Spend-It!”

Parents of teens from both planets can find good online resources to help kids develop money sense.

– Don’t just focus on saving; teach the basics of financial literacy. At a minimum, teens should be able to budget, save and spend wisely, according to Kelli Ramey, director of H&R Block’s Dollars & Sense, offering links for parents and teens at www.hrblockdollarsandsense.com.

– Schwab MoneyWise provides games and tips for teens that cover budgeting, saving, spending, investing and giving back. Go to www.schwabmoneywise.com.

– Junior Achievement $AVE, USA offers downloadable resources on financial planning for parents and kids at juniorachievement.org. Check the website for Junior Achievement programs in your area.

– Find quizzes on earning, saving, borrowing, protecting and spending money at Northwestern Mutual’s The Mint. The site offers a compounding calculator that demonstrates the “magic” of compounded interest in various savings and investment vehicles. Go to www.themint.org.

Gail Karlitz, co-author of “Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids” (Price Stern Sloan, 2010), defines financial literacy as “knowing how to earn money, manage it, invest it to earn more money, spend it and donate it to help others. While that may seem a tall order for the summer, it really isn’t if you use your family as the example.”

Karlitz encourages parents to get concrete: list the family’s needs (food, clothes, housing); wants (treats, entertainment, things we love but aren’t essential); goals (things we save for, such as a TV); and giving (charities, gifts, religious donations).

“Explain that, as parents, you’re assuming the cost of the family’s needs, such as mortgage payments, insurance, food and so on. Discuss what those expenses are,” says Karlitz.

Have your daughter list her own needs, wants, saving and investing goals and ideas for giving. Discuss how she’ll allocate her summer earnings into these buckets.

The financial planning website Jump$tart Coalition has a tool called “reality check” that makes this fun, says Karlitz: “Input amounts you spend into key expense categories to see the relationship between your spending and your income. This is an eye-opener!” Go to www.jumpstart.org/reality-check.

Before your daughter starts her job, have her set up a bank account so the paycheck is direct-deposited, says Karlitz: “Once it goes into her account, she’s more likely to stick with her allocations.”

We just got the end-of-school-year advice to make sure our kids read over the summer. In years past, teachers sent home suggested books by grade level, but not this time. My two boys (ages 9 and 10) would play Minecraft all summer if we let them. Is it really important to make them read?

Use the word “entice,” not “make.” Summer reading shouldn’t be a forced march. And yes, it’s important that they read.

Like any skill, kids get better at reading the more they practice. Summer reading keeps kids’ skills sharp. Research by the National Summer Learning Association shows that students who don’t read when school is out lose ground, putting them behind when they return to class.

Summer reading should be pure pleasure, says Carl Harvey, library media specialist at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana.

“Kids are more likely to want to read when they select their own books and magazines, and the format — paper or digital,” he says. “They are also more likely to read when parents enjoy some stories with them.”

Here are some of the best ways to find reading materials for the lazy days of summer:

  • Check in with your school librarian. “They know current titles kids love,” says Harvey. Some school libraries will lend books and digital devices over the summer.
  • Visit your public library often. “Libraries have special summer programming and events to attract young readers,” Harvey adds. “Many display their new books and new authors. Check out a stack, enjoy what appeals and return the rest. Read and repeat throughout the summer.”
  • Get hooked on an author or a series. If your boys like a book by one author, chances are that they’ll like others. “Boys appreciate humor, fantasy and irreverence,” says Jon Scieszka, author of several kids’ books, including “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” (Puffin, 1996) and “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” (Viking Juvenile, 1992). His website, www.guysread.com, lists titles of “books that guys have told us they like.”
  • Connect with their passion. If they love Minecraft and video games, then mine that interest, urges Harvey: “Your librarian can recommend titles of books that appeal to gamers and extend their interests.” You won’t be the first mother to check out “Minecraft: Essential Handbook” (Scholastic Inc., 2013).
  • Load digital devices with e-books. While you’re sitting in traffic, your 10-year-old can be flying through the first volume of “Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi” (Dark Horse Comics, 2012) on your Kindle.
  • Stock up at garage sales. “You’ll find great, inexpensive kids’ books at tag sales,” says Dallas reading expert Dr. Delores Seamster. Read, enjoy and pass on.
  • Subscribe to magazines. Kids look forward to getting magazines in the mail. “Our 10-year-old is a Minecrafter who devours Popular Science,” says Chris Abraham, a New York parent. “His younger brother, a Yankee fan, loves Sports Illustrated for Kids. They open the magazines the minute they arrive.”
  • Find suggestions at greatschools.org, which lists favorite books by grade levels K-5, and commonsensemedia.org, which reviews children’s titles by age.

Make reading for pleasure a year-round goal. “Keep up the fun reading once school starts,” says Harvey. “Your boys will learn that reading about what they love is a great way to wind down after a day of school.”

At a workshop on Common Core State Standards at our son’s high school, I was surprised that collaboration was mentioned. Aren’t the standards about reading, writing and math?

They are, but they also include key skills required to succeed in today’s world. Recently, at a career day at a local school, I heard the chief technology officer of a global company tell students, “Our teams work across many time zones in three states and five nations. When we hire, we assess whether you can communicate and collaborate with others.”

One goal of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to ensure “college and career readiness,” so you’ll find these skills included. An English Language Arts anchor standard, for example, states that students should be able to “prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”

Collaborative communication drives creativity, invention, productivity and problem solving, says Ardith Davis Cole, teacher and national literacy consultant.

“Students need these skills for success in college, work and civic life,” she says. “Our Founding Fathers understood collaboration — they argued and refined their ideas, persuaded others, communicated and compromised to create the Constitution.”

The Common Core initiative was launched by state governors to improve the college and career readiness of U.S. students. Business and civic leaders across the political spectrum joined chief state school officers, parents, teachers, researchers and subject-area specialists to create voluntary learning standards and assessments.

Why common standards? One, there are wide disparities in student outcomes across states. Third-graders in one state might be several months ahead of fourth-graders in another. CCSS offers some assurance that, if a family moves, the kids can be enrolled in a school that is teaching the same thing at the same grade as the school they left.

Two, CCSS can help measure student, school and district performance across the states on a credible, common metric. For example, “reading on second-grade level” would mean the same level of proficiency in every state and district.

Three, U.S. students are falling behind the rest of the world, putting them at a disadvantage upon entering college and finding jobs in an increasingly global workforce.

“When students graduate, they will be expected to work across great distances and collaborate with colleagues via complex technologies. A globally connected workplace will be the norm for them, not the exception,” says Ben Curran, a Michigan instructional coach and co-author of “Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create” (GHF Press, 2013).

Curran teaches such collaborative skills as brainstorming, decision-making and determining accountability. He demonstrates how to use such digital collaboration tools as Google Drive, Wikis and Edmodo, a secure social network that allows students to work with classes across town or across the ocean.

For tips on how to promote collaboration skills, see California literacy specialist Rebecca Alber’s post, “Common Core in Action: Why Collaboration and Communication Matter,” at edutopia.org.

For more on CCSS, go to www.achieve.org. To read the Common Core State Standards, go to www.corestandards.org/the-standards.

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