Parent Tidbits

Winter Newsletter

Message from Mari Garza

Welcome to Parent Tidbits. Parent Tidbits is a quarterly newsletter to assist parents in gaining tidbits of information.

Ideas for Newsletter Tidbits are always Welcome.

To submit ideas, contact Mari Garza -

Hot Topics

Peer Influence and Peer Pressure

Peer influence is when you choose to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do, because you want to feel accepted and valued by your friends. It isn’t just or always about doing something against your will.

Peer pressure and influence can be positive. For example, your child might be influenced to become more assertive, try new activities, or to get more involved with school, but it can be negative too. Some teenagers might choose to try things they normally wouldn’t be interested in, like smoking or behaving in antisocial ways.

Peer pressure and influence might result in children:

· choosing the same clothes, hairstyle or jewelry as their friends

· listening to the same music or watching the same TV shows as their friends

· changing the way they talk, or the words they use

· doing risky things or breaking rules

· working harder at school, or not working as hard

· dating or taking part in sexual activities

· smoking or using alcohol or other drugs.

Being yourself: a balance for peer pressure and influence

It’s normal to worry that your child is being influenced too much by his peers, or that he’s selling out on his values (or yours) to fit in with his friends. It’s also normal to worry that your child won’t be able to say no if he gets pressure to try risky things, like skipping school or smoking.

If your child is happy with who she is and her choices and values, she’s less likely to be influenced by other people. She might choose to do some things that her friends do, but not others. And your influence is important here – it’s the biggest factor in shaping your child’s values and long-term choices.

Helping your child manage peer pressure and peer influence

Coping well with peer influence is about getting the balance right between being yourself and fitting in with your group. Here are some ideas to help your child with this.

Build up your child’s self-esteem and confidence

Children who have strong self-esteem are better at resisting negative peer pressure and influence.

  • You can build your child’s self-esteem and confidence by encouraging her to try new things that give her a chance of success and to keep trying even when things are hard. You can also be a role model for confidence too, and show your child how to act confident as the first step towards feeling confident.
  • Praising your child for trying hard is important for building self-esteem and confidence.

Keep the lines of communication open

You can do this by staying connected to your child. This can help him feel more comfortable talking to you if he’s feeling swayed to do something he’s uncomfortable with.

Suggest ways to say No
Your child might need to have some face-saving ways to say no if she’s feeling influenced to do something she doesn’t want to do. For example, friends might be encouraging her to try smoking. Rather than simply saying ‘No, thanks’, she could say something like, ‘No, it makes my asthma worse’, or ‘No, I don’t like the way it makes me smell’.

Give teenagers a way out
If your child feels he’s in a risky situation, it might help if he can text or phone you for back-up. You and your child could even agree on a coded message for those times when your child doesn’t want to feel embarrassed in front of friends. For example, he could say that he’s checking on a sick grandparent, but you’ll know that it really means he needs a hand.

If your child does call you, it’s important to focus on your child’s positive choice to ask you for help, rather than on the risky situation your child is in. Your child is more likely to ask for help if she knows she won’t get into trouble.

Encourage a wide social network
If your child has the chance to develop friendships from many sources, including sport, family activities or clubs, it will mean he’s got lots of other options and sources of support if a friendship goes wrong.

With your influence and a strong sense of himself, it's more likely that your child will know where to draw the line when it comes to peer pressure

Developing Positive Social-Emotional Behavior

Teaching Children Manners

Manners encompass appropriate words and behaviors for treating other people with respect. They can be demonstrated in virtually any setting and should be used with everyone. Basic manners can be taught at a very young age and expanded upon as children mature. This article includes a variety of ideas for teaching manners. These ideas can be adapted to fit a child’s age and ability levels and can be used at home, school, or in the community.

1. Be a Role Model – Children model adult behavior. Use please, thank you, and excuse me when speaking with children and adults. Model manners by offering to help other people, holding the door, and picking up dropped items. Teach children to respect all people by treating everyone including neighbors, waitresses, and co-workers with respect. Explain your actions so children learn from you. For example, let children know it is polite to give your seat to an elderly person or someone who needs additional assistance on a crowded bus.

2. Set Expectations – When children are prepared for events they are more likely to respond appropriately. Discuss manners before situations arise. For example, before a birthday party tell the child to thank the host. For unexpected situations teach children appropriate behavior during the event. For example, when a child sneezes, remind them to cover their mouth to prevent germs from spreading. When children forget their manners, politely remind them. It is important to do this in a respectful way that does not embarrass them.

3. Role Play – Role play new situations or recent experiences to set expectations or review behavior. Role play is a fun way to prepare children for a variety of situations and settings. Include different opportunities for using manners such as a peer or adult falling down, dropping an item, having their hands full, or needing assistance with the door. If a child forgets to use their manners in a specific situation, reenact the scene. Discuss how people feel when situations are handled with and without manners.

4. Be Consistent – Mixed messages about settings and people can be confusing. Remind children to use polite words consistently and to treat all people with respect. Children are less likely to forget to be polite if their manners are repeatedly and consistently practiced.

5. Use Visuals – Have posters showing sharing, turn taking, or holding doors for other people in the classroom and throughout the school. Discuss the posters and use them as reminders for treating other people with respect. Children can create posters as an art activity. They can draw scenes depicting manners or create collages of photographs with people sharing and helping each other as a fun art activity and visual reminder.

6. Praise Children - When children use manners be sure to praise them. Be clear about what they did and why it was good. For example, “Sean, I like how you held the door for Mr. James. His hands were full and you made it much easier for him to enter the classroom.”

Special Education

Referral for an Initial Evaluation

A school has an affirmative duty to make a referral for an initial evaluation for special education services any time it suspects that a child has a disability and a need for special education services under IDEA. You may also initiate a referral for an initial evaluation of your child at any time.

If you make a written request to a local educational agency’s director of special education services or to a district administrative employee for an initial evaluation for special education services, the school must, not later than the 15th school day after the date the school receives the request, either give you:

  1. prior written notice of its proposal to conduct an evaluation, a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards, and the opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation; or
  2. prior written notice of its refusal to evaluate your child and a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards.

Please note that a request for a special education evaluation may be made verbally and does not need to be in writing. Districts and charter schools must still comply with all federal notice requirements and requirements for identifying, locating, and evaluating children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education. However, a verbal request does not require the district or charter school to respond within the 15-school-day timeline.

Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process July 2018

Homework Tidbits

Top 9 Free Homework Help Websites

Khan Academy

Grades & Subjects: All

Khan Academy is a nonprofit that aims to provide "a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere." The site offers a growing library of high-quality educational videos that can help parents brush up on school subjects or guide their child through homework with evidence and visual aids, which are big concepts in the curriculum. Whether you're looking for a crash course in world history or biology, or even just basic math concepts, there are nicely paced videos on almost every topic. There are even videos to help kids learn computer programming or prepare for the SAT.

Study Geek

Grades & Subjects: All grades, math is a nonprofit website "where PhD experts help with math homework" — neat! The site offers detailed sections on algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics. Each area provides helpful explanations and sample problems specific to all types of math. Study Geek also offers a searchable math vocabulary guide. Their Math Solver tool helps you solve any kind of math problem, and by creating a (free) account on the site, you can "unlock" the step-by-step explanation of how the problem was solved and save math problems to refer to later.

Fact Monster

Grades & Subjects: K-8, all subjects

Fact Monster is part of Family Education Network and is a free reference site for children, teachers, and parents. Fact Monster's homework center offers online math flashcards for kids to practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills, and a conversion calculator for all kinds of units of measurement. The site also offers an atlas, almanac, and encyclopedia, plus loads of writing assignment advice, including how to write an essay, biography, and bibliography. The U.S. almanac is a lifesaver when your child is writing a report on one of the 50 states!

BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper

Grades & Subjects: All

A father/son duo started this site back in 1996 when 9-year-old BJ wanted to learn how to build a website alongside his "computer nerd" dad. The site has grown and continues to serve as a great reference to families. It provides hundreds of links to helpful websites for every school subject and focus area, so you can find resources for anything from botany, to Latin grammar, to musical chords. It can also help you find free texts and books online — which is awesome if your child forgot his copy of Beowulf or Romeo and Juliet in his locker!

Parent Toolkit

Grades & Subjects: All grades, math and English

Produced by NBC News' Education Nation and sponsored by Pearson (owner of, gives you a grade-by-grade look at academics in preschool through high school. The website's grade-specific "Benchmark" guides for math and English can be helpful to review at the beginning of the school year to get a sense of what topics your child will be studying (and what you may need to brush up on in order to help with homework). Plus they offer some sample math problems and English language arts exercises, as well as some tips for parents to foster learning at home. Similar content is also available in the Parent Toolkit app.

Hippo Campus

Grades & Subjects: All grades and subjects, especially math and science for middle school & up is a free website that offers rich multimedia academic content — videos, animations, quizzes, and simulations. The site offers more than 5,700 free videos collected from various academic institutions in 13 subject areas, including algebra, geometry, calculus, earth science, biology, physics, history, and English. Math Snacks is a series of cool animated videos and games that help teach middle school math concepts using fun, visual techniques. STEMbiteis a series of videos that discuss math and science in the real word, such as the math behind barcodes, and the science behind polarized sunglass lenses. Visual learning and real-world application are two important educational concepts.

Scholastic Parent & Child

Grades & Subjects: All grades, especially K-8, and all subjects

This site offers subject-specific Parent Primers, which help you dust off old spelling rules, revisit the three branches of government, see different geometric shapes, and more. Plus, with their Flash Card Maker you can make your own math and vocabulary flashcards, and with their Spelling Wizard you can make a word scramble or word search that helps kids learn their spelling list in fun ways.


Grades & Subjects: K-8, especially science and social studies

Kids say — and ask — the darnedest things! is a neat nonprofit website that answers all sorts of questions submitted by children with fact-filled, kid-friendly articles and fun-to-watch videos. There's the "Wonder of the Day," plus an archive of hundreds of past "wonders." The articles and videos could serve as great inspiration for school assignments, such as science projects or history or English reports. Here are some examples of "wonders" the site answers:

Ask Dr. Math

Grades & Subjects: All grades, math

"Ask Dr. Math" is a nonprofit forum managed by Drexel University. The site may look dated, but it's still helpful and relevant. The list of math FAQs covers many popular topics, such as dividing by zero, types of fractions, learning to factor, and how to round numbers. You can also browse for answers by age group (elementary, middle, or high school) or search the archive by keyword.

Parent Coordination SHOUT OUT!

Parent Coordination Network

The Parent Coordination Network is committed to ensuring that parents of students with disabilities receive accurate and timely information to assist in making informed choices in their children's education.

The Parent Shout Out contains more information that would be beneficial to families, students, and educators.

Follow the LINKS

January Shout Out!

February Shout Out!


2019 Texas Transition Conference

Our 2019 Texas Transition Conference Theme “A NEW TRANSITION TRAJECTORY: ZERO TO 21,” reflects Texas Education Agency’s new strategic plan to incorporate children with disabilities from BIRTH through adulthood in the transition process beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. To this end, we are committed to continued support of local education agencies (LEAs) in their implementation of state and federal special education laws and regulations as they relate to transition.

Conference Dates:

The PRE-CONFERENCE - February 20th, 2019

CONFERENCE - February 21-22, 2019

Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk

San Antonio, Texas

For More Information:

4th Annual Life After Graduation : Who's Got Your Back?

These events will equip students with disabilities and their parents with information and resources needed to ensure a smooth transition into post-school success!

Pre-Registration is required to attend this event.

Free Event for Students

(Requirement: 1 certified teacher registration per 10 students attending)

Free Event for Parents & Paraprofessionals

Certified Teachers: $100

(Includes 6 CPE for Education Professionals Registration Only)


  • March 7, 2019—Coastal Bend College, Alice
  • March 8, 2019—Coastal Bend College, Alice
  • April 1, 2019—Education Service Center, Region 2
  • April 2, 2019—Education Service Center, Region 2

For more information, contact:

Christa Rasche

Special Education Specialist

(361) 561-8550

Education Service Center, Region 2

Student success in school is highly dependent upon parent support. The parent coordination component of ESC-2 focuses on empowering parents and families in their knowledge of the laws and processes in special education and strategies to help support their child or family member with disabilities.