Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Raising "Mini-Me"

Raising children can be the most rewarding, but most challenging responsibility a parent will ever have. Not too long ago, we looked at raising children who have very different personalities than ourselves. Today we will explore raising a child who has that likes the same things and shares many of the same talents. Having a child who mirrors you may seem easier than one who's different, but that's not always the case. According to the June/July issue of Working Mothers, below are some of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
1. You assume you know what your child wants. You think, I bet he'd like this shirt; I'll buy it. Or, He'll/She'll want to take this class for sure, so I'll sign him/her up. "Taking for granted that you know what your child want without asking can make him/her feel like they have not say in what they do,: says Tanya Altmann, MD, a clinical professor of pediatrics at UCLA. Share things you both enjoy by watching football, going to museums, playing tennis, whatever. Just ask first.

2. You dream for your child. Your child is a computer whiz, just like you, so you're already imagining their career. Reality check: Don't assume your know what your child wants to be when they grow up. They may turn out to be a composer, not a computer programmer or discover a passion you've never imagined. "Kids need the space to explore what they like," says parenting educator Betsy Brown Braun. "Part of a child's job is to grow, separate and make their own way in the world."

3. You fight a lot. "Often the child who's most like you is the one you spar with," says Brown Braun. "When you argue with a child who's like you, you may be fighting against things you don't like in yourself. Recognize and acknowledge that, then use your experience to help your child. If they see him/her struggling with something you also struggle with, say something like "You and I are a lot alike. This was always hard for me, but this strategy helped me. Maybe it will help you, too."

Monday, August 30, 2010

America's Best Colleges 2010

According to August 30, 2010, Forbes magazine, the best colleges in America isn't in Cambridge or Princeton, West Point or Annapolis. William College, a 217-year old private liberal arts school, tops the third annal ranking of America's Best Colleges, compiled with research by the Center of College Affordability & Productivity. Williams rose to the top spot on the rankings after placing fourth last year and fifth in 2008.

It is never too early to plan and look at colleges and universities that you or your child may some day attend. In this report, Forbes, rank undergraduate institutions based on quality of education they provide, the experience of their students and how much their graduates achieve. You can find the full report of 350 schools at www.forbes.com/colleges. Below, I listed the top 15.

Rank Name State In-State Tuition Typical Grad Debt
1. William CollegeMA $37,640 $9,296
2. Princeton UniversityNJ $34,290 $14,294
3. Amherst CollegeMA $37,640 $12,587
4. United States Military Acad.NY $0 $0
5. Massachusette Institute of TechMA $37,960 $17,923
6. Stanford UniversityCA $36,360 $19,897
7. Swarthmore CollegePA $36,490 $9,812
8. Harvard UniversityMA $36,173 $16,153
9. Claremont McKenna CollegeCA $37,060 $14,026
10. Yale UniversityCT $35,300 $20,382
11. United States Air Force AcadCO $0 $0
12. Wellesley CollegeMA $36,640 $11,419
13. Whitman CollegeWA $35,192 $16,844
14. Pomana CollegeCA $35,625 $18,947
15. Northwestern UniversityIL $37,125 $19,013

Sunday, August 29, 2010

6 Ways to Sneak in Exercise With Your Kids

According to an article in Parenting.com May 2010, below you will find 6 ways to sneak in exercise with your kids and have fun at the same time.

1. Hit the playground. Kids enjoy it more than going to the gym. The monkey bars and mini-rock wall build upper-body muscle. Jumping off the climbing structures boosts bone density and leg strength. Even the swings can be good core workout. It's like an outside circuit course.

2. Play a game. Kickball, tag, jumping rope, wheelbarrow races are all classics that absolutely count toward your child's daily activity requirements. For younger children, try Move Like an
Animal. Call out the name of a critter and challenge your child to mimic the way it moves: hop like a frog, balance on one leg like a flamingo, stretch like a cat, and so on.

3. Do fun chores. Have your child help wash the car (and getting soaked and soapy in the process) or planting the garden. It counts toward 60 minutes of activity a day!

4. Check out a class. Take your children to an open gym at the local gymnastic center and let them try out the equipment, or head to the indoor climbing wall or skate park for a lesson. One-offs like this are good because they let your child try out a bunch of different activities to see what they like best, without spending a lot of time or money.

5. Use people power. Ditch the care and walk or bike when you can. Pedal to the pool, playground, or pizza shop, and walk the mile to school.

6. Inspire your child. Bring your children to a sporting event like a Major League Baseball game or high school volleyball match, so they see and be motivated by the athletes. Before or after the game, kick around a ball together, shoot baskets, or play a little backyard volleyball.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

3 Biggest Feeding Fables

According to an article in the May 2010 issue of Parenting magazine, With so much conflicting information out there, figuring out what and how to feed your kids these days is confusing. Below, William Sears, M.D., tackles the most confounding kid-food fables.

1. Kids need to eat three square meals. Nope. In fact, eating a few small meals throughout the day is a very healthy way to eat (and that goes for parents too). Plus, it comes naturally to kids, who can't hold as much food in their stomachs at one time as adults. A slow-and-steady schedule of meals and snacks keep their blood-sugar levels, energy, and mood on a more even keel.

2. Sugar is bad. Actually, it really depends on the type. There's a wide spectrum of carbohydrates (the other name for sugar), and those that are complex (veggies, whole grains, legumes) are always recommended. Fruits and dairy products (which contain lactose, another form of sugar) are also good choices. It's the simple sugars like table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup in candy, cookies, soft drinks, and package treats that are responsible for the dreaded crash and burn. These are the ones worth eliminating.

3. Children should eat from each food group every day. The fact is, kid have ever-changing taste preferences. One week they may eat pasta an tomato sauce, while the next they shun it. for peanut-butter crackers. Doesn't matter. As long as their diets balance out over the course of a month, not a day, they'll be on the right track.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creating Curoius Thinkers

Curiosity is the key to student success now and in the future. Kids are naturally curious. Set them loose in a room full of craft supplies or a muddy sandbox, and you'll see their imaginations come to life. The following ideas are how to nurture curiosity for the beginning according to Todd Kashdan, author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life and clinical psychologist and professor psychology at George Mason University. The following are 6 ideas on how to nurture curiosity in the classroom according to an article in Instructor magazine 1020: Although this article was intended for educators, parents can take the same information for nurturing their own children.
1. Cue into students' interest. To enhance a student's curiosity, you must build activities around his/her interest, preferences, and sense of challenge. Focusing on rules, obedience, and inflexibility interferes with curiosity.

2. Satisfy that feeling of competence. Sparking curiosity take more than pointing out that something or someone is interesting, complex, or mysterious. After something new grabs their attention, students need to feel competent and understand it. That can make all the difference in whether they act on their curiosity or find something else to do.

3. Accept the negative and uncertain. Embrace uncertainty. By acting on their curiosity, students can explore this tension instead of trying to hide their feelings. As a result, they become better problem solvers and show a greater willingness to change, even if it requires a great deal of effort.

4. Knowledge opens kids' eyes. If you want students to be curious, help them accumulate knowledge. The more they know, the more they'll want to know.

5. Find the unfamiliar in the familiar. If you think you are an expert, you ma stop paying attention and curiosity can disappear. When you think you basically understand everything about your students' personalities, you start relying heavily on old scripts and categories.

6. Remember that things change. You learn to be curious when you recognize that there are few absolute answers in life. Flexible thinking leads to flexible people. Move away from black-and-white thinking to a greater appreciation of the beautiful gray area between.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ten Things That Will Make You a Better Parent

Most parents want to be the best parent they can possibly be. Getting the "Best Education Possible" is a large part of a parent's responsibility. Below are 10 suggestions from my book, A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades:

1. Ensure your child is at school every day he/she can be there. Arrive on time. When children arrive late they miss important information and the teacher usually has a routine that gets the children ready for the day.

2. Be a good, positive, role model. Speak positively about school and the teacher. Make sure your child understands the importance of doing their best work. Remember your child is always watching you and will follow your lead.

3. Make sure your child gets 8-12 hours of sleep every night. When children are tired, they cannot learn new concepts or do their best work.

4. Make sure your child's clothes and self are neat and clean. Teeth and hair should be brushed daily. Children and teachers notice when a child is not physically managed well. It also helps a child's self-esteem to feel good about their appearance.

5. Turn the TV/Computer/Video Games off during the week and talk to your child. Listen to your child and show interest in what they say. Read together every evening and make it a habit.

6. Try to eat dinner at the same time every evening and discuss the day with your child. Studies show children who sit down and eat meals with family members do better in school.

7. Help your child feel loved with praise, hugs, and kisses. Never expect too much or too little from your child because it will result in frustration for you and your child.

8. Discipline when necessary. Be consistent. Always focus on the behavior not the child. Children are not "bad" they sometimes do "bad things". When you constantly make a child feel like they are "bad", they certainly will live up to your expectations.

9. Stay involved with your child's interest and know your child's friend. Monitor facebook, myspace, and other social networks. Make sure your child is aware of all the dangers and pitfalls that come with these sites.

10. Spend personal time and love and enjoy your child. They grow up so fast. Make sure your child is getting some physical exercise outside of school. Ride bikes, take walks, or play ball and build strong relationships with your child when they are young, and as they get older it will hopefully pay off.

For more tips on "How to Get the Best Education Possible", order my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades, from http://www.besteducationpossible.com/ and read my daily blog for more health, parenting, and educational tips.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to Have a Successful School Year

With summer winding down and school about to start, I decided to repeat a post on "How to Have a Successful School Year". This is from my book, A Parents Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6.
Below are 5 very important things you can do to make sure your child has a successful school year.
1. Make sure your child reads or is read to at home every day: 10-20 minutes for a younger child and 20-45 minutes for an older child. Research shows that students who read at home in addition to encountering a strong reading curriculum at school perform in the top 10% of the nation in standardize testing.

2. Review your child's homework every evening. Do not hesitate to get tutoring or one-on-one instructions if your child struggles with a lesson or assignment. You do not want your child to go on to the next lesson or grade without mastering the current material. If you can not afford tutoring, look into the Girls and Boys Club, YMCA, church tutoring programs, community outreach, or after school programs. Many times honor students or college students tutor younger students. Ask teachers, principals, or other parents for help.

3. Make sure your child reviews and knows all the skills from the grade he/she is leaving. Teacher spend most of the first couple of weeks/months reviewing materials from the past year. Reviewing skills with your child should be a routine during the summer break.

4. Keep your child ahead in lessons. Get a "Teacher's Manual" for the textbook series being used in reading and math in the school your child attends. Get the manual for the grade they are going into. Over the summer make sure they are getting ahead in lessons for the coming year or review skills they have not mastered the past year.

5. Encourage your child to participate in extra curricular activities that they are interested in or show natural talent in (examples; sports, dance, art, music, gymnastics, etc). Such activities develop a well rounded individual with good self-esteem. Be involved and go to every important event.

To read more about getting the "Best Education Possible, by ordering my book from http://www.besteducationpossible.com/ and become a fan of my daily blog, besteducationpossible. In my blog I write about health tips for the family and educational suggestions and issues.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Personality Set for Life By 1St Grade

According to an article from LiveScience.com, Friday, Aug. 6, 2010, our personalities stay pretty much the same throughout our lives, according to a new study. The results show personality traits observed in children as young as first grade are a strong predictor of adult behavior.

"We remain recognizable the same people," said study author Christopher Nave, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Riverside. "This speaks to the importance of understanding personalities because it does follow us wherever we go across time and contexts."

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Using data from a 1960s study of approximately 2,400 ethnically diverse schoolchildren (grades 1-6) in Hawaii, researchers compared teacher personality rating of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later. They examined 4 personality attributes: (talkative, adaptability, impulsiveness, and self-minimizing behavior).

1. Talkative youngsters tended to show interest in intellectual matters, speak fluently, try to control situations, and exhibit a high degree of intelligence as adults. Children who rated low in verbal fluency were observed as adults to seek advice, give up when faced with obstacles, and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.

2. Children rated as highly adaptable tended, as middle-age adults, to behave cheerfully, speak fluently and show interest in intellectual matter. Those who rated low in adaptability as children were observed as adults to say negative things about themselves, seek advice and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.

3. Impulsive students were inclined to speak loudly, display a wide range of interest and be talkative as adults. Less impulsive kids tended to be fearful or timid, kept others at a distance and expressed insecurity as adults.

4. Children characterized as self-minimizing were likely to express guilt, seek reassurance, say negative things about themselves and express insecurity as adults. Those who ranked low on a self-minimizing scale tended to speak loudly, show interest in intellectual matters and exhibit condescending behavior as adults.

Previous research has suggested that while our personalities can change, it's not an easy undertaking.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Parenting by Personality: Part VI

Today, we will be looking at the last "Parenting by Personality", the Artsy Kid vs. All-Thumbs Mom. Your child is artistic; you're not. You don't have to be a good at art to appreciate it, especially your child's creations. "Your young Rembrandt's work can give you insight into his/her mind, "says Dr. Berman, PsyD, a Los Angeles-based family therapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. "That's why therapist employ art therapy. Creating something with your child is a wonderful opportunity to have fun together and for both of you to let down your inhibitions and get your fingers dirty."

What to do:
1. Ask your child specific questions about their art. "Can you tell me how you came to draw the face like that?" What inspired you to make this?"

2. Check into children's art programs at your local library or museum or your child's school.

3. Talk to the art teacher about your child's potential and ho you can encourage it.

4. Visit museums with your child.

5. Read books or watch programs about artist together.

6. Ultimately, you need to allow you child to follow their passion.

Whether your kids share traits with you, your partner or neither, all kids are individuals with surprising interests and abilities. In fact, one of the great joys of parenting is seeing life through your child's eyes. The more different he/she is from you, the fresher that perspective. Take time to know , appreciate and encourage their singular personality and you'll not only see the world in a new way, you'll see something even more exciting: how your child fits into it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parenting by Personality: Part V

If you and your child have very different personalities it can be frustrating. For the last five days, I have shared information from the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine, on Parenting by Personality. Today we will look at the "C Student vs. Academic Ace". Your child dreads report cards; you look forward to them.

What you need to know is that while striving fro academic excellence is important, straight A's are not essential to future success. What you need to assess, however, is whether you child is trying their best and still not getting A's or does your child's slacking off. If your child is really trying, their work ethic will benefit in the long run. Children who believe they do well on test because they work hard actually challenge themselves more than those who think they ace test because they're naturally smart, according to studies from Stanford University. What is important is to help your child find their passion and work toward that.

What to do:
1. Problem-solve with your child. I he/she's making valiant efforts and not understanding the material, ask them if they would like a tutor to help.

2. See if the teacher can offer extra help.

3. If you suspect your child isn't doing their homework, say something like, "What can we do to help you be more responsible about your homework? Let's come up with ideas together."

4. Support your child's love of learning, and avoid comparisons with other siblings or other children.

5. Provide a structure for success that includes a clearly designated time and place for homework.

6. Read with your child on topic of interest of the child. Even if the subject bores you, show interest in it, and let your child teach you what they know. This will keep your child wanting to keep learning.

7. Above all, remember that you child is a different student than your were, and don't pressure him/her to get the grades you did. Kids of high-achieving parents can struggle to feel a sense of their own accomplishment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Parenting by Personality: Part IV

If you and your different-from-you child have problems communicating or connecting, it is up to you to figure out the best way to reconnect. Today we will be looking at The Innie vs. the Outie. Your child is an introvert and you're an extrovert. According to an article in the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine, what you need to know is that although your child's shyness may worry you because you love to socialize, it's only a problem it it's a problem for the child. Spending time alone may mean the child enjoys their own company, a sign of good self-esteem. Talk to your child's teacher to determine how he/she interacts socially at school; could be they are just cautious and takes time to make friends, which is a trait you may want to encourage.

What to do.
1. Work off of your child's strength. Point out to the child if they are observant. (examples)"You got to know Billy before you felt comfortable going to his house. I thought that showed good thinking." or "I could tell you didn't feel comfortable with Ms. Jones the first time you met her. It's okay that you didn't want to hold her hand. I'm glad you did what you thought was best. You should always do that."

2. Role-play ways to meet new people that allow your child to stay in their comfort zone without seeming rude, and do it in baby steps.

3. If you're worried your child isn't socializing enough with peers, ask if there's someone he/she like to invite over to play or meet at the park.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Parenting by Personality: Part III

Parenting is a hard job, but when you and your child have opposing personalities, life can become really difficult if you don't try to understand exactly what is going on. What happens when your child is athletic and you're not? This is another example of conflicting personalities between parent and child. The Jock vs. the Couch Potato. "What you need to know is that it doesn't matter if you like sports or not," says Dr. Berman. " What matters is you love your child and want to learn about his/her world. Letting kids teach us about the things they love helps us connect with them and understand their life."
What to do.
1. Look into opportunities at school or in your community for your child to participate in sports, and attend the games.

2. Ask your child questions that allow him/her to be the expert and to teach you. It will give your child a sense of mastery and self-confidence.

3. Use your child's interest in athletics to get both of you moving. (example) Shoot some hoops together. Ask, "Will you show me how to do a lay-up? I can't do it." says brown Braun, "Modeling not being good at something is fabulous. It lets your child be the ace and also gives them permission not to be good at something, too."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parenting by Personality: Part II

Opposing parent-child personalities that clash can be very challenging. According to an article in the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine, raising a child who's nothing like you can make you feel like you brought the wrong child home from the hospital. Today we will be looking at The Mess vs. Ms. Meticulous. In other words, your child is a slob and you're neat.

What you need to know is that many kids go through a sloppy phase, which doesn't mean they'll be slobs for life. In fact, what seems like a mess to you might bring your child comfort. "Look fro the motivation behind the messy room," says Dr. Berman, PsyD, a Los Angeles based family therapist. "Sometimes it's a misguided attempt at independence. Sometimes it means I don't want you to come in and this is how to keep you out.

What to do.
1. Let your child know you'd like some clean up give-and-take, ask questions in a non accusatory tone. (example)"Why do you think you've been struggling to keep your room clean?"

2. If your child is losing homework or other important items in the mess, work together to develop a system for putting papers, books, cell phone, and such when they can easily find them.

3. If your child just needs more privacy, consider giving it to him/her. This is as long as he/she are clear about not doing things that are off-limits, like texting instead of doing homework, or visiting inappropriate websites.

4. Try to compromise: Once a week, the sheets are washed and the room is vacuumed. The rest of the time, you let them be and close the door to the room if that works for you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Parenting by Personality: Part I

According to an article in the June/July 2010 issue of Working Mother magazine, raising a child who's nothing like you can feel like a voyage to an alternate universe. "Every child is born with a particular temperament, which doesn't change, only evolves," explains child development specialist Bestsy Brown Braun, author of You're Not the Boss of Me. Below is 1 of 6 "dynamic duos" opposing parent-child personalities that clash more than mesh. The experts sort through their challenges and confusion, so you can discover ways to help your own child thrive.

SpongeBob vs. Zen Master - Your child is high-spirited; you're laid back. You should understand that he/she doesn't bounce around and beg for attention just to bother you, but how you guide and respond to children can influence their personalities.

What to do:
1. Try not to quash your child's intense feelings. Telling them to "calm down" may make them feel frustrated and rejected. Try saying, "I see how upset your are; that situation made you really anger," suggest Jenn Berman, PsyD, a Los Angeles based family therapist.

2. Give your child a schedule and set limits. Parents who are laid-back may not provide enough structure for a child who is more Type A.

3. Think beyond your own personality to accommodate your child's. According to Roni Cohen-Sandler, PhD., schedule time for your child to have active, vigorous and ideally, outdoor play to blow off steam and energy, and realize you may have to speed up sometimes.

4. Take care of yourself. Carve out a little down time for yourself. Consider mom-kid yoga sessions or deep-breathing exercises to find some calm for both of you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Fresh Look at School Lunches

According to an article in October 2009 issue of timeforkids.com, Congress is taking a hard look at school lunch and experts agree that is is time for a change. A recent School Nutrition Association (SNA) study says most schools cook fewer than half of their main courses from scratch. Most school meals are likely to include processed foods, which are often loaded with salt, fat, and sweetners.

Experts also say that the time has come to change school lunch and it should come from locally grown ingredients. The Child Nutrition Act is set to expire soon and was created in 1966. The act sets aside $12 billion to pay for breakfast and lunch for 30 million schoolchildren. Soon, Congress will take a look at how that money is spent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to change school nutrition standards this year. The standards have not changed in 15 years. They determine what is sold in school stores and vending machines. The standards also say what food can be served in schools.

Most school districts receive $2.68 for each free lunch they serve. This often is not enough to cover the cot of healthier foods. President Obama's 2010 budget set aside an extra $1 billion for child-nutrition programs. He wants schools to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables. Currently, only about half of schools serve these healthy foods every day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ages and Stages 6 to 10

Your after school schedule may consist of soccer practice, saxophone lesson, Explorers Club, and kickboxing classes. You hope all this fun and enrichment keeps your child busy and fulfilled. So why, do school age children say the main reason they're not happy is they're bored? That is the finding in a recent study from England. How can that be?

While kids say they're bored, it's actually a lack of satisfaction they're experiencing, contends lead study author Karen Pine, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Hertfordshire's School of Psychology. "Kids often have so much on their plate that they don't feel they have enough time to play and enjoy the things they want to do. Dr. Pine offers tips on helping kids stay motivated and happy:
1. Stop over scheduling. Instead, give our child time after school or on the weekends to pursue his own hobbies and spend time with friends.

2. Let them be. Kids can find their own way to amuse and fulfill themselves which spark curiosity and creativity.

3. Welcome the Web. In moderation, online comm unities can help kids share ideas and develop social skills. Sign you child up in a protected kids' site and encourage responsible usage.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Sun and Your Child

According to an article n Working Mother magazine, June/Jul 2010 issue, sun exposure isn't just harmful to grown-ups skin. Too much sun during childhood is also a risk factor for adult skin cancer. So before your kids learns first hand about sunburn this summer, send them online for facts about solar rays and skin safety.

The American Academy of Dermatology's new interactive website kidsskinhealth.org offers 8 to 12-year-old engaging advice on proper skin care and encourages these sunblock strategies:

1. Wear sunscreen. Make sure it has an SPF of at least 30 and broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

2. Don't forget the ears. Put on a hat and sunglasses when heading outside on a sunny day.

3. Seek shade. Especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.

4. Beware of tanning beds. They can also harm skin. If your teen wants a summer glow, suggest self-tanners.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ages and Stages 11+

You've put off having "the talk" with your middle schooler, thinking there's no rush. Or is there? "One in five kids has sex by the time they're 15," says Laura Berman, Ph.D., author of Talking to Your Kids About Sex. And 40% have intercourse before discussing safe practices or abstinence with their parents, according to a survey results published in Pediatrics. Frank talk with your kid about sex may make you uncomfortable, even scared, but it's not as scary as having a kid who is pregnant or has an STD.
Below are talking points and tips from Dr. Laura Berman on your tween being smart about abstinence and safe sex:
1. Explain diseases. Your child needs to understand that many STDs are chronic, last forever, can affect your ability to have children and can be deadly.
2. Boost self-esteem. Be sure your child engages in activities that empower her/him, besides sex. The higher their confidence and body image, the more likely they will make responsible decisions.
3. Discuss abstinence and protection. Talk about waiting until they are old enough to handle a physical relationship or discuss the moral values of marriage. But be realistic and be sure to mention about there are protections out there if they do decide to have sex. When they are old enough and mature enough gather samples of condoms, birth control pills and diaphragms from Planned Parenthood and talk about how they are used.
Children are ready for the sex talk at different ages. Be sure you are giving your child this information early enough to make an influence. Because if you don't give the talk their friends will.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ages and Stages 3 to 5

One minute your 3-year old is revving his fire truck, the next he's balancing a block tower, then he's splashing straight down a Slip'n Slide. He can do so much. What he can't seem to do, though, is focus on one thing for more than a nanosecond. Should you try harder to teach him self-control? Probably not, according to research.
The part of the brain that filters extraneous information and allows us to focus is the prefrontal cortex, and that part of the brain isn't fully developed until around age 4. So not only is your child's behavior normal, young children actually learn better by not filtering and focusing, explains Sharon Thompson-Schill, PhD., a professor of psychology and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. Below are ways to help your child grow creatively according to Dr.. Thompson-Schill:
1. Relax the rules. Young children learn through unstructured experiences. So offer raw materials (paper and crayons, Lego's and blocks) and then let them do their own thing.

2. Seek new opportunities. Learning can happen on a city street, in museums, at the zoo. A simple walk through the primate pavilion is a rich source of exploration for your child
3. Focus on the bigger picture. Your child's distractibility is what enables him/her to gather lots of information at once. Give them time and freedom to soak up many things and discover the world around them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ages and Stages 0 to 2 Years

According to Tiffany Forte, if you have a 1-year old, he/she may be happy rocking out on their piano when your preschool-age brother calls for you. All too soon, the baby's happy tunes turn to whines, then to wails, as he/she sees you dote on the other sibling. They are fed, dry, and was happy moments ago. So what is this?

Perhaps the green-eyed monster. Research shows that babies as young as 6 months get jealous and may squirm or cry to gain back Mom or Dad's attention when they engage with other siblings, spouse, or pets. Below are jealousy soothers to handle your baby's envy distress, according to Dr. Sybil Hart, Ph.D., professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University in Lobbock:

1. Foster friendliness. Establish a social atmosphere by having family and friends around. Your infant will see that sharing and spending time with others is a good thing.

2. Try to multitask. Hold your toddler while communication with others, or offer the child a simple task (such as spying where the bananas are hiding) when you, say, run into a friend at the supermarket.

3. Consider other causes. Your baby may seek your attention when he/she is hungry or tired. If you think they are overstimulated, remove them from the stressful environment.

Remember jealousy in little ones, though sometimes trying, is not a bad thing. "It shows your baby is mature and high-functioning," says Dr. Hart

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ages and Stages 10 t0 12

Gone are the days when you kid wakes up before the crack of dawn from ages 10-12. Now it takes all your morning energy just to get him/her out of bed. What's going on? The sleep patterns of preteens are different from those of adults and young children.. Their bodies' internal clocks actually tell them to fall asleep later at night and to snooze longer in the morning. (So why the heck does their school usually start earlier than your kindergartner's? Go figure!) According to Deb Lehman, in the May 2010 issue of Parenting.com magazine, below are some suggestions on how to make the morning wake-ups less of a struggle:

1. Tone down the alarm. Instead of having the alarm clock blare just in time for your child to rush out the door, set it to play his/her favorite music about 15 minutes before they have to get up. It'll help them ease into the day.

2. Give your child a good reason to get up. Bribe him/her with that sausage-and-eggs sandwich the love (their appetite is no doubt having a growth spurt, too), or arrange a morning carpool with a close buddy (friends also trump sleep at this stage).

3. Make it their responsibility. Explain that you've realize their old enough to get up on their own, so you'll call for them only once. Then stick to it. Many kids will embrace the autonomy. Others will quickly learn how much they're missing at school when they're not there on time!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ages and Stages 7 to 9

What kids don't see on TV and in movies is as important as what they do, says Toronto animator and teacher Ellen Besen. In an article from the May 2010 issue of Parenting.com magazine, to increase the media literacy of by pointing out tricks that make things look more appealing than they are.

1. Brake up the shots. A scene with ice cream might make your child's tummy rumble, but the treat is probably fake because hot lights would make real ice cream melt. If he/she looks closely, they will notice the actress is not really eating the sundae after all.
2. Turn down the sound. Music is used to trigger emotional responses and redirect viewers' attention during commercials or action scenes, so help your child see the difference when it's lowered.
3. Master the moves. Remind your child that those pow! crash! wham! fighting scenes are pretend and, unlike in real life, no one gets hurt. Have him/her fall gracefully or stopping punches and kicks inches from targets.
4. Hand over your camera. Poorly attended concerts or sporting events can look packed, thanks to tight shots of fan-filled sections. Let her zoom in and out with your camcorder to see the difference.
5. Consider the odds. Have your American idol fan research the music industry to learn how to break into the business. Or ask, "Can 1,000 balloons really make a house fly?"

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ages and Stages 5 To 6

For ages 5 to 6 children are very curious, and according to the May 2010 issue of Parenting.com, all those questions may try your patience, but they'll make your child smarter. "Curiosity is the driving force of intellect, notes Pam Schiller, author of Seven Skills for School Success. Kids' brains thrive on new experiences and activities, so shake things up with these ideas:

1. Break with tradition. Turn things upside down every so often: Have cereal for dinner or pizza for breakfast. Introducing novelty into your child's routine gives you a jumping-off point for conversation. Does your child know people eat miso soup and fish for breakfast in Japan? This shows your child that there is more than one way to do things, says Schiller.

2. Change the scene. Rearrange the toys in your child's room, then discuss the difference. Does it look better now? Is it less cluttered? Does this arrangement seem more inviting?

3. Rewrite the book. Mix up the characters and the scenery in the stories you read. Add a dragon to "Jack and the Beanstalk," for example. Ask, "what if" and other open-ended questions, like "What if the wolf in "Little Read Riding Hood wasn't hungry? How would the tale be different?

4. Make it kid friendly. Create a special space in their room, the den, or the basement. This is where anything goes (finger painting, fort building, pillow fighting) and exploration is encouraged.

5. Ask away. Show your child that you're curious about his/her interest by asking them to explain the difference between Ariel and Snow White, say, and getting just as excited about the dead beetle as they are. (okay, you may have to fake it).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Showing "Love" in the Classroom

I had a request to re-enter an old blog on "Showing Love in the Classroom", so I decided to share it again. In Huntsville, Alabama the teachers, staff, and children start school tomorrow and I need to revisit this blog as well. Enjoy!

Every year when school starts and a new class enters my classroom, there is an anticipation and excitement of things to come. The first thing I do is ask the Lord to give me a special love for every child in my care. I pray for patience, wisdom, and the ability to reach each child, but love is the most important ingredient. There is always one or two children that challenges my very soul, but with those challenges comes change in my own spiritual journey.

Some children refuse to let you in or have some much anger that there are walls almost impossible to move. Some children are so troubled that it is hard to understand what has caused such negative behavior. So, everyday you chip away inch by inch, brick by brick, wall by wall, until you see the slightest ray of light in their eyes and love grows in your, and hopefully, in their hearts. A smile may appear on a cold inexpressive face or laughter comes at an unexpected moment. These special times move your emotions and you just know or hope you know how to reach them. These are the children that no ones likes, or can be very disrespectful, and are unmoved by any act of kindness. These children need to know someone cares about them more than they need math, science, reading, and social studies. When you show them love, magically, the academics emerge and they become excited about learning.

What happens to children that causes such troubled behavior? You may or may never know, but if you can show some compassion and love, you may change and save a life. Some days I fail and don't react or I don't have the patience that I should, but I always try to do better each day. That is why I love education so much! That is how I learn as much from the children as they learn from me. That is why I must love and give of myself to reach out to the next generation and give them what God has always given me. LOVE!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

3 Steps to a Stronger, Fitter, Healthier Kid

Active children are happier, healthier, even smarter. Parenting School Years magazine, May 2010 issue, began a three month get fit series with a quiz to assess how strong and healthy your child already is (try it at Parenting.com). Below are 3 steps to a stronger, fitter, and healthier kid recommended by Julie Stefko, project manager for Fitnessgram/NFL Play 60, a program developed by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, TX that assesses fitness levels and promotes physical activity in school-age kids.

Step 1: Make it fun!
"The absolute best way to encourage kids to be physically active is not only to set an example yourself but to find ways to make it enjoyable so it doesn't feel like work," says Julie Stefko. Find sports, games, and activities your kid likes. (Some examples are bike riding, skateboarding, tag, dancing, fencing, etc) If it's something you can do together, even better.

Step 2: Boost stamina
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on all or most days of the week. Several studies, however, have found that child get only half that much or less. (Don't count on your kid getting it it later on in PE. A Cornell University study found that high-schoolers are active for only 16 minutes during gym class.

Step 3: Build strength
When kids build muscle, they build bones and this is the time in their lives when bone develops most rapidly and easily. "Effective strength exercise for kids are those that use their own body weight as resistance, although adolescents can start to use dumbbells and machines," says Stefko.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Look at Asperger's Syndrome: Part IV

In the October 2009 issue of Scholastic Parent and Child, Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., answered questions about Asperger's Syndrome. Below are the final questions and answers from Lynn.

Question: Should parents be part of the treatment plan for Asperger's Syndrome?
Koegel: I always recommend that parents make sure they're an integral part of the intervention. If the therapist wants to exclude them from their child's therapy, that's a red flag, because a lot of socialization is going to be after school or on the weekends, so the parents need to be able to learn what behaviors to prompt and what kind of things to do in those situations.

Question: Is there any research under way that may impact the way Asperger's is treated in the future?
Koegel: There really aren't any big breakthroughs coming out. If anyone tells you there is one strategy that's going to cure your kid, take y9our wallet and run. Unfortunately, there are no medications that can help your child become more social. It's really blood, sweat, and tears, and a lot of work with the child and a lot of different interventions at one time. Researchers don't fully understand friendship, but we know that we can help our children develop friendships, whether they have a disability or not.

For more information on Asperger's Syndrome, check out Lynn Kern Koegel's books, Overcoming Autism and Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger's, and visit education.ucsb.edu/autism.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Look at Asperger's Syndrome: Part III

Asperger's Syndrome is a sub-type of autism spectrum disorder. Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., the clinical director of the Koegel Autism Center and director of the Eli Edythe L. Board Center for Asperger Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, answered questions about Asperger's in the October 2009 issue of Scholastic Parent and Child.

Question: If parents are concerned about their child might have Asperger's Syndrome, whom should they seek help from and what kid of help is best?
Koegel: First, talk to your child's pediatrician. He may recommend a specialist in autism spectrum disorder. You'll probably need a referral to see the specialist. Behavioral interventions are best. That's when somebody goes out with the child and actively teaches him/her how to interact socially with peers. The end goal is for the child to be able to make friends, and the only way they can do that is to get feedback on how he/she/s interacting.
Question: Why is early intervention best?
Koegel: The older a child is, the more advanced the social skills are among peers. When they're little, all they really have to do is learn to play with other kids, take turns, share, and so on. If adults are helping them in social situations, nobody really notices. As they get older, having a therapist there is a bit more stigmatizing.

Question: Once a child receives an Asperger's diagnose, what's the next step?
Koegel: It depends on the child's age, but they generally can qualify for special education services at school. I recommend to all of my parents to make sure the bulk of the intervention is done with peers. If kids are little, it means the therapist spends quite a bit of time with the children with their peers, prompting them to engage in whatever social behaviors they're missing.
Tomorrow will be the last blog on Asperger's Syndome, so be sure to check back for more information.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Look at Asperger's Syndrome: Part II

Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., teh clinical director of teh Koegel Autism Center and director of the Eli and Edythe L. Board Center for Asperger Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, answered questions asked in the October 2009 issue of Scholastic Parent and Child. Below are some of her answers and comments on Asperger's Syndrome.

Question: How does the behavior of children with Asperger's differ from that of typical children?
Koegel: Kids with Asperger's may need to play a game a certain way that might not be the way the other children want to do it. They're not always flexible with rules of games or activities. Sometimes they have difficulty with conversation. They don't understand that if someone says, "I'm going to Disneyland this weekend," you should say, "Who are you going with?" They'll just say, "Oh." Question-asking skills seem to be low in kids with autism spectrum disorder.

Question: Is there a way parents can distinguish between a child who is simply shy and has strong interest in a topic and one who may have Asperger's?
Koegel: There's a range of socialization in typical kids, but children withAsperger's are going to be way outside of the range, to the point where they're isolating themselves. Most children with Asperger's ask for play dates by 3 or 4, but children with Asperger's won't ask to have kids over. A lot of young children really like dinosaurs or construction equipment, but in children with Asperger's the interest is almost exclusive. They don't want to talk about other things and they'll figure out a way to get the conversation back to their area of interest.

Question: At what age do Asperger's symptoms typically reveal themselves?
Koegel: The symptoms are present at birth, but they may be missed. A lot of kids with Asperger's are very bright, and they can carry on a wonderful conversation with adults, so a parent or teacher might assume there's nothing amiss. But it's important to watch how these children interact with peers. Children with Asperger's won't play with other kids, or even if they play a little bit, they're not playing as much as their classmates.
Check my blog tomorrow for the final questions and answers on Asperger's Syndome.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Look at Asperger's Syndrome: Part I

With all the news about the rise in autism, you may have also heard about Asperger's Syndrome. It's a sub-type of autism spectrum disorder first identified 65 years ago. As with autism, the cause of Asperger's is unknown, and it occurs more frequently in boys that in girls. In an article from the October, 2009 issue of Scholastic Parent and Child, Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., the clinical director of the Koegel Autism Center and director of Eli and Edythe L. Board Center for Asperger Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to explain what Asperger's Syndrome is and how professionals are treating it.

Lynn Kern Koegel replied that to have autism, a person has to have language delay, problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted interests. Children with Asperger's have the social difficulties and the restricted interests, but they don't have the language delay.So when they're little, they'll have their words and their sentences on time, but they won't be playing with the same toys or even playing with toys in the same manner as typical children.

Lynn also goes on to state that Asperger's Syndrome didn't get picked up until and noticed until the early 1980s. She thinks part of reason fro that is the wrong notion that if kids don't have behavior problems and just don't socialize, there is no problem. If a child gets really good grades, every body's happy. But research shows that children who don't socialize have major problems as adults.
Check back tomorrow when Lynn Kern Koegel answers more questions about Asperger's Syndrome

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parent-Teacher Relationships: Part II

Lisa Capretto interviewed Stacey Nelson, a third grade teacher, about things teachers wish parents knew before sending their children to school. Below are the things Ms. Nelson wanted parents to know.

Be Involved:

1. Check children's agendas and take-home folders every night. Not only does this help you stay on top of updates and what's going on in the classroom, but it also shows your child that you are checking in.

2. Check on homework regularly. Go over your child's work, but don't do it for the child. It is very important to review your child's homework. If the child gets the answer wrong, take the time to help him/her understand why. Don't just tell the child the answer.

3. Address behavior issues at home. "Children don't enjoy getting in trouble," Nelson says. "So when they come home and tell you about how mean the teacher is, keep in mind they may be telling the story in a way that they won't get punished. "If this happens, try to get to the heart of the issue and uncover the facts, so you can address it.
Turn in tomorrow and get tips from Stacey Nelson on how to be organized for the school year

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lead in Kids Jewelry

In an article in the August 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, many kids under 4 ( and some are older) will put any cute trinket they get their hands on into their mouths. so when they spotted jewelry with warnings that it was not for children under age 7, 12, or 14, respectively despite its obvious kid appeal they were suspicious.

They tested five styles of earrings and two necklaces purchased at Walmart, Target, and Claire's. An outside lab analyzed all for heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, which can be poisonous if ingested.

They found all seven items contained lead well above the legal limit for children's products, even two marked, "sterling silver" (by definition, 92.5 percent pure). A tiny stud earring from Walmart contained 124 times the permissible lead level for kids. Its label, "not intended for use by children under 14," doesn't mean they won't want or receive it. Most pieces also contained cadmium, the culprit in several recent jewelry recalls.

They recommend not to buy inexpensive jewelry for kids even if it's labeled "sterling silver". Keep all jewelry away from young children. Ingesting an item containing heavy metals is unlikely to cause immediate harm or death, but call Poison Control (800-222-1222) if a child swallows one.

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