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Six Tools for Talking with Teachers
Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell

Teachers do so much for our kids. During school hours, they often see a different child than the... more

talking to teachers
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Teachers do so much for our kids. During school hours, they often see a different child than the one we see at home, and notice both wonderful qualities as well as areas of growth. There will undoubtedly come a time when we may feel the need to speak with the teacher about a problem that our child is experiencing, whether at the teacher’s request or at our own. Here are six tools for making the most of a parent-teacher meeting.

  1. Book time to meet with the teacher. Just before or just after class is not a time when the teacher can give you or the issue at hand the full attention it deserves. While it may feel that your situation is the most important thing in the world, your child’s teacher has 29 other students who need to ask, ‘Just one small thing.’
  2. Remember that in almost all cases, all adults in the parent-teacher meeting want the best for the child. When we hold this to be true, we enter the meeting in a state of hope for a solution rather than in a position where our defensiveness might use up any energy we had for the meeting in the first place.
  3. Make a list before you enter the meeting. For many adults, sitting across the desk from a teacher reminds them of being held after class when they were kids. To be sure that emotions don’t rule the meeting, take some time before you get there to write down the facts and the feelings involved.
  4. Check your facts. There is often more than one truth; and it is worth remembering that a 6-year-old’s version of a story may not be complete. When discussing situations with teachers, a great sentence starter is, ‘The story we heard from Jenny after school yesterday was… Can you please share your point of view?’
  5. Don’t leave without a solution…or at least a plan for a solution. Often parent-teacher meetings are short. Keep track of the time in the meeting and be sure to leave a couple of minutes to determine what the next steps will be.
    • Who is doing what?
    • When will you next be in touch to see how things are working?
    • Who will contact whom? (We suggest that the parent follows up)
    • How will the contact happen? (email, phone, note in the agenda)
  6. Involve your child when possible. Having a bunch of adults discussing a child’s issue without the child may well result in the child taking absolutely no responsibility for the issue. When possible, have the child involved in the meeting and be sure that all adults are clear with the child about each person’s role in the solution, especially the expectations and consequences for the child as you move forward.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!
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Theresa Albert
September 28, 2015
Theresa Albert
If I Were Sugar...
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If I were sugar, I would be taking cover and either looking for a new job or finding a safe way to retire. Maybe partnering with newer, better versions of sweetness would be worth investigation because, everywhere I would look, the future will look grim. I would be reading the tea leaves and know that my days were numbered as North Americans continue to reduce their consumption of soda pop and governments crack down on how I am labelled. There is nowhere to go but down and out.

Even the healthy food icon store Whole Foods got splashed by allegedly renaming sugar as ‘evaporated cane juice’—a disguise and way to mislabel the amounts of sugar in their yogurt. Soft drink manufacturers are finding ‘sugar free’ ways to reformulate and other types of beverages to peddle. Everyone is removing sugar from their coffee, tea and cereal topping choices and opting for honey, maple syrup or raw sugar (ahem, evaporated cane juice).

And with good reason. While no one thing can be blamed for the obesity crisis, sugar sure does own a lot of the blame. The required amount of sugar that a body needs each day is exactly zero. Of course, you do need the nutrients that come with it in its natural state like in blueberries or apples. And, most grains, starchy vegetables (like potatoes, corn, carrots…) convert the carbohydrates directly to glucose which fuels your muscles and brain. However, that’s different since it comes encased in trace amounts of fat, plus fibre and vitamins that need a bit of work to be processed by the body. Having to do that work makes your body more effective at using the sugar (this is measured as the glycemic index).

If I were sugar, this may be where I would hide next. I would encase myself in added fibre and ‘good fats’ to be able to claim that I am low on the glycemic index. In the meantime, a few up and comers will likely take the spotlight:

Containing only part of the sugar molecule and part of the alcohol with none of the fructose gives this sweetener some edge over plain old sugar.  It has the same sweet taste but only half of the calories and can boast that it is low on the glycemic scale so it doesn’t spike insulin levels.  It measures just like sugar so it is great for baking and some science shows that it actually changes the nature of the chemistry in the mouth to reduce cavities.  Be aware, though, that xylitol is toxic to dogs.

This refined herb has been around for a while but is just poking its nose into the food and beverages that we are so loathe to give up completely.  Having no calories at all, it does a good job of reducing the calories but, if some of the science is right, there may be a downside. Just like aspartame and the like, the sensation of sweetness on the tongue without any calories forthcoming, your body may not be fooled and go looking for the calories anyway.

Recently (2002) approved for use by the FDA, it hasn’t found its use in foods just yet.  Made by the aspartame people to be more effective as a sweetener at lower doses, there may be decent reason why this one isn’t getting wide support.

Here is the catch. Every single sweetener has its downside and the goal always was, and still needs to be, reduction of all the foods that contain added sugars. Think about it, caramel macchiato and chocolate chip cookies are still extras regardless of how they are sweetened.

Theresa is a Food Communications Specialist and Nutritionist. Her French Canadian influences are a part of her 'no bologna' style as everything is on the table...not just the dinner. She has the unique ability to distill complex health concepts into simple, savvy steps to improve any lifestyle choice. Theresa is a sought after media commentator and lifestyle pundit on many topics with a particular fascination with human relationships with food and culture. She has two books published in Canada and the US: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck. She can be found on Twitter as @theresaalbert and at
Comments | Tagged under sweet, sugar, nutrition
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