Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Celebrating Chinese New Year

The New Year is a time for a new beginning and it is a celebration around the world—held at different times in different ways, but always a look forward..  This year China will usher in the Year of the Horse on January 31—thirty-one days after Americans welcome 2014 with the parties, fireworks and noise makers. 

Chinese New Year is an important Chinese holiday and is also known as the Spring Festival in 1913.  Chinese New Year’s Eve is the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar and the celebration lasts through the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month.  Regional customs celebrate with parades and public celebrations, but also include a time for families to gather together in a “reunion dinner”.  The family prepares for this meal by thoroughly cleaning the house the sweep away any ill-fortune to make way for the good incoming luck.  They decorate red colored paper with popular themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity.  They light firecrackers and give money in red paper envelopes.  Each of the fifteen days of the celebration has a special focus.

The Year of the Horse recognizes the spirit of the horse as it is related to the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.
People born in the year of the horse have ingenious communication skills and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever and kind to others. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are popular among friends, active at work and refuse to be reconciled to failure, although their endeavor cannot last indefinitely

They cannot bear too much constraint. However their interest may be only superficial and lacking real substance.  They are usually impatient and hot blooded about everything other than their daily work.  They are independent and rarely listen to advice.  They usually have strong endurance but with bad temper. Flamboyant by nature, they are wasteful since they are not good with matters of finance.  Some of those who are born in the horse like to move in glamorous circles while pursuing high profile careers. 
We encourage you to take the time to celebrate Chinese New Year with your youth—take pictures and let us know how it went.  Send them to support@consultfourkids.com

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Who Is C4K?

C4K is committed to social justice and believes that social justice can be achieved when a space is created for social change, and that this space is found, in part, in the out-of-school time arena. C4K believes in the words of Margaret Mead who stated:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

As a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens, C4K has a dream. The dream is of a cadre of young people who day-to-day practice the advanced citizenship required of Americans. This group of young adults will be:
  • Economically self-sufficient—able to financially take care of themselves;
  • In positive relationships with family, friends, peers, and colleagues;
  • Involved in giving back to the community and offering a hand-up to others.
C4K operates from a core set of values.
  • We value learning. As human beings were are always learning and evolving. Although it is easier to see when children are young, learning is a continued state of personal advancement.
  • We value Current Best Thinking which allows you to "grow" your thinking as you acquire more knowledge and experience.
  • We value the synergy that occurs when people of good will and like passion come together to find solutions.
  • We value the celebration of the unique contribution that each person brings to the world because of the distinctive combination of talents and gifts.
  • We value sharing with others insight, best practices, and practical tips around the creation, implementation and sustainability of high-quality programs for youth
These values have provided the foundation for our beliefs.
  • We believe in unleashing the power of each person to realize his/her potential.
  • We believe after-school can increase learning time for young people in such a way that a pupil’s strongest learning modalities and multiple intelligences can be harnessed to unleash the potential within.
  • We believe youth are best served by highly-trained staff who are able to see young people holistically and as possibilities to be developed.
  • We believe exemplary staff performance yields high-quality learning opportunities for young people.
  • We believe prevention is much more effective than intervention, and as a bonus, it is usually much less expensive.
Our mission:
  • Provide first-rate staff development for the after-school workforce which results in exemplary performance and the creation of high-quality after-school programs.

Check us out by visiting our website at www.consultfourkids.com  .  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Showcases and Celebrations

Do you remember as a youth participating in a showcase event at your school?  Do you remember being in a holiday play, singing in a chorus, playing in the band, or creating a number of props and costumes for the holiday extravaganza?  These are the memories that last with us long into our adulthood. 

When I think back to my school experience one of my fondest memories is of singing a Christmas song in the school play when I was in Kindergarten.  I can still see the face of the eighth grade boy who played the role of “my dad” in the play and saw to it that during rehearsal lunches I had food.  He also accepted responsibility for being sure I was where I needed to be during the play and during rehearsals and on the night of the performance picked me up and sat me down on the top of the piano (something no one would allow today) to sing my song!  Along with that memory I can recall the kindness of the older youth and also how special they made me feel.  They were more than happy to “take care of me” which helped to teach me the importance of cross-age support and being held in positive regard.  I experienced being part of a team for probably the first time, and I knew that we were all in this together.  This experience has influenced the way I see the world in a positive manner.  You may wonder how important this type of experience really is.  Let me share that it’s been sixty years since I was in Kindergarten, and the memory is still vivid and clear and acts as a foundation for my belief in the importance of providing youth with a variety of experiences during the school years.

So what memories will you be helping youth create this year in your program?  Will you work on a gala or a quiet celebration?  Will you showcase the youth to one another, to the school day, to the families?  Will you find a way for all youth to participate or will you showcase the talents and skills of a few?  No matter what you choose remember that you are creating a memory that participants will incorporate into his/her world view. 

The goal is to see that the memories are positive and build the self-confidence and self-efficacy of the youth.

For more information check out this C4K Lesson for Site Coordinators and view Showcasing Students.  This is one of over 400 teaching videos for frontline staff.  Let us know what you think by contacting us at support@consultfourkids.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Perseverance Times 2

I had the privilege of listening to Dr. José Hernández speak at the California Department of Education STEM Symposium on November 19th.  Below is a brief bio of Dr. Hernández.
José Moreno Hernández (born on August 7, 1962), is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut.  Hernández was born in French Camp, California, but calls Stockton, California, his hometown.  As a child, Hernández worked alongside his family and other farmworkers throughout the fields of California, harvesting crops and moving from one town to another. He attended many schools and didn't learn to speak English until he was 12.  Hernández was assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128.  He also served as chief of the Materials and Processes branch of Johnson Space Center. Hernández previously developed equipment for full-field digital mammography at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Hernández left NASA in 2011.

Now as memorable as his achievements are one of the points he made in his speech to me was even more impressive and a lesson for us all.  Hernández applied to be an astronaut 12 times before being selected.  He shared that in this process he learned that there are two types of perseverance—passive and active.  The first 6 years Hernández stated that he practiced passive perseverance.  He completed the application, was rejected, and then applied again.  After six rejections Hernández said he realized that if he wanted to be an astronaut he would have to do more than simply complete an application, and it was at that point he began to employ active perseverance.  He examined the class of astronauts that had been selected and determined what this group had that he didn’t have.  The sixth year he discovered that the selected group were pilots, so he became a pilot with all of the necessary certifications.  The seventh year he looked at the class and discovered that they all had experience in scuba diving—so he became an expert scuba diving.  He also became fluent in Russian and represented his company in Siberia.  He persisted and was eventually successful because he had transformed himself into the “perfect candidate”. 


What a role model for us all!  Perseverance is a Habit of the Mind and Perseverance x 2 is what we need to instill in our youth.  We encourage you to share his story with your youth and then let us know how the youth responded by sending us information at support@consultfourkids.com   

Friday, December 20, 2013

Developing Staff

There is training and then there is staff development.  The difference is the end result, and while all training is staff development, all staff development is not training.  Training is something that is provided to staff to give them the content knowledge they need to understand a strategy or a point of view.  Training can also include simulations and practices with peers that are also in the training.  Amherst College shares:

“Training is an educational process. People can learn new information, re-learn and reinforce existing knowledge and skills, and most importantly have time to think and consider what new options can help them improve their effectiveness at work. Effective trainings convey relevant and useful information that inform participants and develop skills and behaviors that can be transferred back to the workplace.
The goal of training is to create an impact that lasts beyond the end time of the training itself. The focus is on creating specific action steps and commitments that focus people’s attention on incorporating their new skills and ideas back at work.

Training can be offered as skill development for individuals and groups. In general, trainings involve presentation and learning of content as a means for enhancing skill development and improving workplace behaviors.” What is Training and Development?

Staff development on the other hand is a process the endeavors to build the capacity to achieve and sustain a “new desired state that benefits the individual and the community and the world around them.  Staff development can be for an individual and a team to promote high quality program through exemplary performance. 

When working with afterschool professionals and seeking to help them be the positive role models and mentors that youth need and they desire to be, it is essential that we have a mix of both training and staff development to ensure that they will ultimately be successful. 

Check out the C4K video on The Arc of Staff Development to learn more about the full range of staff development. let us know what you think by emailing us at support@consultfourkids.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So You Made A Mistake…

I have found a new-to-me game to play on my phone when sitting in the airport.  It’s called Jelly Splash.  The premise of this game is to master the challenges at different levels by receiving points for eliminating “jellies” within a particular number of moves, or you could just need to eliminate the “gray slime”.  Now needless to say I am not always successful—I don’t meet the challenge.  In other words, I make mistakes:  mistakes in judgment, mistakes in connecting the most dots possible, and of course mistakes in strategy.  Yet I keep going back and playing again and again—actually it’s really “addictive”.  The question for me becomes “Why?”

Although there is a penalty for making the mistakes I make—I run out of lives and/or chances before I’ve mastered the challenge so I have to wait for a while for Jelly Splash to text me that I have new lives and the ability to try again, I can handle the mistakes simply because I know that my mistake is not fatal—I will get the opportunity to try again.  Also, those mistakes don’t happen in vain, I learn from them and can adjust my strategy to be more effective the next go round. 
If you think about it Jelly Splash certainly is a formula for success in our afterschool programs. 
  1. Provide learning opportunities that are active—hands-on and minds-on.
  2. Set clear expectations (Jellie says—here is the challenge)
  3. Hold me accountable to accomplish the expectation or “suffer a consequence”
  4. Once I’ve had the consequence, give me an opportunity to try again (and again, and again, and again if needed—don’t give up on me)
  5. Help me learn from the mistakes I make


What more could we want.  Check out the C4K video entitled “So, You Made a Mistake” by clicking on this link. Think about how important it is to regroup and refresh after we make a mistake and move forward.