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Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.
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Q & A provided by FasTracKids

As South Asian parents, we place a high value on the importance of education. The following is information on an innovative educational program for young children now available.

Q: What is FasTracKids?

A: FasTracKids is a revolutionary educational program that uses cutting-edge technology, hands-on experiments, video-taped speaking opportunities and a lot of FUN to teach communication, leadership and life-readiness skills.

Q: What is this technology?

A: The FasTracKids learning station uses CD-ROM-based lessons that emanate off of an interactive smartboard, and uses LCD projection, and computer technology to deliver the curriculum.

Q: Is there a teacher involved?

A: The teacher’s role is important. The teacher interacts with the children and controls the speed of the lessons.

Q: Are the children grouped according to age?

A: Children in FasTracKids lessons are grouped together; they are not separated into different age groups.

Q: How can a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old learn together?

A: Children are going to gain different things out of each lesson, depending on their age and ability. Older children get the added benefit of having their confidence built as the younger children look up to them. They also have opportunities to work on their leadership skills.

Q: My 4-year-old will never be able to sit still for two hours.

A: FasTracKids uses a concept known as educational zig-zagging to hold a child’s attention. The attention span of a young child is typically only 2-3 minutes long. The FasTracKids curriculum compensates for that by changing the manner in which the lesson is presented every two to three minutes; thereby holding the child’s attention.

Q: Three and 4-year-olds should be playing ball, not sitting in a classroom. Shouldn’t we look at karate or dance classes instead?

A: A child can still learn karate at 12; however, if he has not built his neural connections, he has lost his opportunity to do It is critical that a child receive every developmental advantage during his formative early years when his neurons are still being wired. Every child is born with a 100 billion neurons. As a child receives stimulation from the environment around him, connections (synapses) are made between these neurons. You can picture these synapses like a tree; the more connections that are made, the more branches the tree has.  


Teesta Sullivan
By Teesta Sullivan

A month ago, I saw something that shocked me. A classmate of my eldest son had a cell phone attached to his hip. My son is 5 years old, yes you read correctly … not 15, not 18 but 5. Seeing this child with the phone made me question … How young is too young for a cell phone?

I took an informal survey of my friends and colleagues. I was amazed to learn how many of their children own cell phones. Most of these parents are educated, involved parents who did not just give in to their children’s whims or desires to sport a phone at their hip. The primary impetus that seemed to drive the majority of these parents to purchase the cell phone seemed to be as a means of staying in touch.

Especially for those children who participate in after-school activities, a cell phone can provide parents with a measure of security. In the event there has been a change in a child’s schedule, ready access to a phone may make it easier to contact parents or to coordinate pick-ups. One of the parents I spoke with recalled an incident in which the child’s school bus was running late; she shared how proud she was of her daughter for phoning and telling her they were behind schedule.

Cell phone companies have identified this market. There is a company called Firefly Mobile that markets cell phones to children. The phones are designed to be smaller than a traditional cell phone to fit into the smaller hands of children. These phones offer pre-paid calling plans, and a few options for speed-dial numbers.

Several companies also now boast pre-paid plans. These can be an effective means to control usage. Wireless bills can get very high very quickly; this allows a parent to control the amount of minutes a child has per pay period.

Pay-as-you-go phones also are available. Some parents believe that giving a child one of these is an effective way to teach them the value of money. If the child wishes to speak on his phone, he will be footing the bill.

Today’s cell phones are so advanced that they can be used to access email, visit the internet, take and share photographs, and effectively serve as a computer. Parents who monitor their child’s home computer usage may not think to check the child’s telephone. Be aware that pedophiles can easily target children through their cell phones. Strangers can initiate conversations, friendships and even more scary … meetings. If you do choose to purchase a phone for your child, speak to them about the dangers.

Another concern is the emission of harmful radiation from cell phones. In Britain, the chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board put out an advisory recommending that parents not give mobile phones to children age 8 or younger as a precaution against the potential harm of radiation from the devices.

Dr. Henry Lai, a bioengineering professor at the University of Washington, believes that 70-80 percent of the energy emitted from a cell phone antenna is absorbed by one’s head. Some researchers speculate that this electromagnetic radiation can damage DNA, causing brain tumors over a period of three to four decades.

Today’s society seems to be set on fast-forward. No one has the patience to wait for anything. I look at these children, and cannot help but wonder. What is so important in the life of a 10-year-old that they cannot wait until the next day to share it with their friends? Is this another sign of the times? Another way that our children are growing up faster than may be healthy for them? Ultimately, how young is too young for a cell phone is a question that parents will individually need to answer for themselves. Fortunately for me, my children are still content playing with their toys; I am in no rush to change that.

Teesta Sullivan has a JD, a MSH and B.A. in Psychology. She is the area developer for FasTracKids and also president of Legendary Beginnings Inc., an authorized licensee of FasTracKids. She can be reached at (813) 908-5437.

Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.

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