Archive for January, 2010

Did you complete the survey yet?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010


NJSACC: The Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities , needs your help!

We  have over 500 responses!  We reached the goal of 500- so now we have set a new goal of 1.000 responses!
We have extended the deadline to respond to February 4th, 2010.

You may not be able to answer all the questions- no problem …we want to hear from you!

Please help NJSACCTake the Temperature of Afterschool” by answering our survey.
We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about how NJSACC can better serve NJ’s afterschool community.

The survey will now be available until February 4th, 2010.
So , please take a moment and complete the survey.

We would appreciate  if you would pass this along to your staff and your network.

Please encourage  your staff, families you serve  and others to answer the survey as well!

To let us know what you think!



Play, Then Eat: Shift May Bring Gains at School

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Can something as simple as the timing of recess make a difference in a child’s health and behavior?

Some experts think it can, and now some schools are rescheduling recess — sending students out to play before they sit down for lunch. The switch appears to have led to some surprising changes in both cafeteria and classroom.

Schools that have tried it report that when children play before lunch, there is less food waste and higher consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables. And some teachers say there are fewer behavior problems.

“Kids are calmer after they’ve had recess first,” said Janet Sinkewicz, principal of Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J., which made the change last fall. “They feel like they have more time to eat and they don’t have to rush.”

One recent weekday at Sharon, I watched as gaggles of second graders chased one another around the playground and climbed on monkey bars. When the whistle blew, the bustling playground emptied almost instantly, and the children lined up to drop off their coats and mittens and file quietly into the cafeteria for lunch.

“All the wiggles are out,” Ms. Sinkewicz said.

One of the earliest schools to adopt the idea was North Ranch Elementary in Scottsdale, Ariz. About nine years ago, the school nurse suggested the change, and the school conducted a pilot study, tracking food waste and visits to the nurse along with anecdotal reports on student behavior.

By the end of the year, nurse visits had dropped 40 percent, with fewer headaches and stomachaches. One child told school workers that he was happy he didn’t throw up anymore at recess.

Other children had been rushing through lunch to get to the playground sooner, leaving much uneaten. After the switch, food waste declined and children were less likely to become hungry or feel sick later in the day. And to the surprise of school officials, moving recess before lunch ended up adding about 15 minutes of classroom instruction.

In the Arizona heat, “kids needed a cool-down period before they could start academic work,” said the principal, Sarah Hartley.

“We saved 15 minutes every day,” Dr. Hartley continued, “because kids could play, then go into the cafeteria and eat and cool down, and come back to the classroom and start academic work immediately.”

Since that pilot program, 18 of the district’s 31 schools have adopted “recess before lunch.”

The switch did pose some challenges. Because children were coming straight from the playground, the school had to install hand sanitizers in the lunchroom. And until the lunch system was computerized, the school had to distribute children’s lunch cards as they returned from recess.

In Montana, state school officials were looking for ways to improve children’s eating habits and physical activity, and conducted a four-school pilot study of “recess before lunch” in 2002. According to a report from the Montana Team Nutrition program, children who played before lunch wasted less food, drank more milk and asked for more water. And as in Arizona, students were calmer when they returned to classrooms, resulting in about 10 minutes of extra teaching time.

One challenge of the program was teaching children to eat slower. In the past, children often finished lunch in five minutes so they could get to recess. With the scheduling change, cafeteria workers had to encourage them to slow down, chew their food and use all the available time to finish their lunch.

Today, about one-third of Montana schools have adopted “recess before lunch,” and state officials say more schools are being encouraged. “The pilot projects that are going on have been demonstrating that students are wasting less food, they have a more relaxed eating environment and improved behavior because they’re not rushing to get outside,” said Denise Juneau, superintendent of the Office of Public Instruction. “It’s something our office will promote to schools across the state as a best practice.”

Children’s health experts note that such a switch might not work in many urban school districts, where lower-income children may start the day hungry.

“It’s a great idea, but first we’ve got to give them a decent breakfast,” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children’s Hospital Boston. “A lot of kids skip breakfast and arrive at lunch ravenous.”

And for a seemingly simple scheduling change, it can create some daunting logistical problems. Children often have to return to hallways and classrooms after recess for bathroom breaks and hand washing and to pick up lunch bags. The North Ranch Elementary School regularly fields calls from schools in colder climates with questions on how to deal with coats, hats, galoshes and mittens. “In Arizona, we don’t have to deal with that,” said Dr. Hartley, the principal.

Many school districts say such problems make them reluctant to switch. A 2006 study in The Journal of Childhood Nutrition & Management reported that fewer than 5 percent of the nation’s elementary schools were scheduling recess before lunch.

But at the Sharon Elementary School, the principal, Ms. Sinkewicz, says the challenges have been worth it. In the past, children took coats, hats and mittens with them to the lunchroom, then headed outside. Now they have time to return coats to lockers so they don’t have to carry them to the lunchroom.

“For some reason, kids aren’t losing things outside,” Ms. Sinkewicz said. “The lost-and-found mound has gone down.”

Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

SWITCHED Children playing before lunch at Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J. “Kids are calmer after they’ve had recess first,” the school’s principal said.

January 25, 2010, 4:14 pm

Open Letter To James Cameron

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Last Child in the Woods of Pandora

Jan 7th, 2010 by Richard Louv

An open letter to James Cameron

Dear Mr. Cameron,
Afew weeks ago, I read a terrific quote from you that ran in at least two newspapers, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Hindu.

“What is ‘Avatar’ saying,” the interviewer asked you.

You answered: “It asks questions about our relationship with each other, from culture to culture, and our relationship with the natural world at a time of nature-deficit disorder.”

A billion or so dollars later, “Avatar” is the king of the film world. Not everyone likes its political message. But from Connecticut to Kansas to California, and probably around the world, people are starved for the movie’s larger message: humans pay an awful price and take a terrible toll when they lose touch with the natural world.

Within recent decades, a generation of children has disconnected from nature. The widening gap threatens health and spirit. And if the trend continues, who will be the true stewards of the Earth?

I suspect you know quite a bit about this issue. Perhaps you’re looking for ways to heal the broken bond.

In recent years, a new movement has emerged.

Building on the great work of environmental educators, conservationists, camp directors and others, the leaders of this movement range from policymakers to health care professionals, from builders to urban planners; from educators to business people, from parents to the young – conservatives, liberals, the political and apolitical. The issue transcends barriers. Under the current and past president, two Secretaries of the Interior – a Republican and a Democrat – have committed to connecting children to nature. This year, the makers of Sesame Street are sending a new message about nature. Many religious communities have signed on, too.

In a remarkably short time, a network of thousands of grassroots leaders have taken this cause into their own hands. The Children & Nature Network now tracks over 65 regional and state campaigns across North America, and more are on the way. Parents are creating “family nature clubs” which could spread across our communities as book clubs and neighborhood watch groups did in previous decades.

Good ideas are gaining traction, such as a national Natural Teachers Network to support the art teachers and English teachers and all the others who insist on getting their students outside; a Nature Rocks social marketing campaign; a Natural Leaders Network, to galvanize young people in inner cities and outer exurbs to become the most effective leaders for the cause; urban dwellers using neighborhood land trusts to create their own “button parks”; along with innovative efforts by the Sierra Club, Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, ecoAmerica, Lindblad Expeditions, the American Camp Association, REI and The North Face, and many other organizations.

But we’re not there yet.

There’s some evidence that the movement is having an impact on people’s everyday lives. Recent news reports suggest a growing number of families are beginning to venture out of their homes, rediscovering the wonder of nature. Such stories often attribute this to the Great Recession and the reemergence of older, less costly values. There’s probably truth to that, but we also believe that the movement – those thousands of people who have been working tirelessly to connect children to nature – is also making a difference.

We do not know how deep this renewal is or if it will last past the next economic bubble. But we do know that the forces of history are formidable.

As the world urbanizes, what one pundit has called “the pandemic of nature-deficit disorder” will become a threat to human health. In 1800, three percent of the world’s population lived in cities, today, more than half of the planet’s 6.8 billion people are urban-dwellers. The trend shows no sign of slowing. This is not to say that urban life is, by itself, intrinsically bad for human health and spirit, but rather the kind of urban life many of us are living. We can change this.

Every child deserves to directly experience the gifts of nature – yet so many, especially those living in dense inner cities, have yet to see the stars. Literally.

Will we be the last generation to remember a time when it was considered normal and expected for child to go out in the woods and wonder? If we take that memory with us when we leave this earth, what will that say about our generation?

Or, we could be the generation that chooses to turn the tide.

So we’d like you – along with many others – to consider bringing your gifts and talent to this movement. I have a hunch you’ll give us a call.

Stranger things have happened, on Earth and on Pandora.
Richard Louv is chairman of the Children and Nature Network. He is the author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

Free Training

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

You Are Invited To 2 Free Workshops

What: Make Games & Word Activities! and Reading Strategies
When: Thursday, January 28, 2010     9:00-2:00
Cost: Free! and lunch is provided
Where: Divisional Headquarters of The Salvation Army
4 Gary Road    Union, NJ    07083    
The Newark Room

1.Make Games & Word Activities!

Games provide tutors & students another context in which to work on skills.
Children are often more relaxed in a game setting. Playing games gives the
adults new insights into the way the child thinks & resolves problems.
This workshop will give you the opportunity to create games that are
appropriate for the children that you work with.  It will help if you come
with some ideas about the skills that you wish to work on via games: for
example, blends, initial consonants, reading comprehension, rhymes, etc.

A wide variety of materials will be available free of charge for you to use
in making your learning games.  You will leave with templates to make
additional games.

2.Reading Strategies
We will examine the reading comprehension strategies that enable students
to understand & to respond to fiction and non-fiction texts.
Instructor:  Judith Gold
Director, Center for National Service Training, Bank Street College of
Education.  Judith is back by popular demand – for the 3rd time!

Hosted by and held at :

Divisional Headquarters of The Salvation Army
4 Gary Road    Union, NJ    07083    The Newark Room

This training is made possible by funding from
The American Bible Society

RSVP:  Pat Henn, Divisional Child Care Assistant

Lunch Provided

Training the Trainer: A Day of Tools, Tips and Tricks to create and lead Quality Staff Trainings, Workshops, and Meetings

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Training the Trainer

Click HERE to register

A Day of Tools, Tips and Tricks to create and lead Quality Staff Trainings, Workshops, and Meetings

With Diane Genco, NJSACC Executive Director & Sarah Cruz, NJSACC Enrichment Support Specialist

This full day workshop will focus on Tools, Tips and Tricks of Successful Trainers as well as focusing on developing staff development workshops in any topic, which will engage and energize staff.

Develop full day, half-day and 1.5 hour workshops on any topic in out of school time with Tips and Tricks from experienced trainers.  Get ideas for engaging staff in training.

Lunch will be provided

Fee: $125

Date:  Friday, March 12, 2010

Time: 10 AM to 2:30 PM

Location:  NJSACC


Registration is due by: March 5, 2010

Also check out additional NJSACC March Madness Trainings:

Adventures in Peacemaking

Celebrate what’s Right with the World