Preschool Readiness with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

October 24, 2012 by  
Filed under education, family topics, kids

A child’s formal learning begins in kindergarten, but preparation for school and learning starts much earlier. Teachers’ report that their primary concerns about children’s readiness for school center around social behaviors and skills such as being able to articulate wants and thoughts, not disrupting the class, following directions, problem solving, completing tasks, along with taking turns and sharing.

Along with literacy and math, social and emotional education is falling to parents more than ever before. According to a survey of parents of 2 – 6 year olds, PBS KIDS found 86 percent of parents believe they have the most influence in preparing children for kindergarten.

According to the 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics, both parents are working outside the home in nearly 60 percent of households, and in today’s multimedia world parents need quick and easy resources. According to the survey, parents rely on a variety of tools, including parenting books/magazines (47%), PBS KIDS (46%), online parenting sites (46%), and other moms/parents (45%), to give them guidance on preparing their children for school.

PBS KIDS has developed five simple tips, adapted from the new series DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD which launched earlier this month, to help parents support their children’s social-emotional development, and to give kids practical strategies for dealing with various emotions:

Tip #1: When your child is disappointed about something, help him/her find something positive about the situation to focus on instead.

Tip #2: When your child gets angry, encourage him/her to take a deep breath and count to four.

Tip #3: Encourage your child to keep trying when he/she is struggling with a challenging task.

Tip #4: When your child is feeling apprehensive about a new experience – like going to the doctor or starting school – talk to him/her about what to expect beforehand.

Tip #5: Teach your child patience by coming up with activities to do while you’re waiting, like singing a song or playing a quiet game.

For parents encouraging social and emotional skills, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new learning tool and resource. The new series is inspired by the groundbreaking PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Years ago, Fred Rogers pioneered a social-emotional curriculum with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and now research has confirmed what Fred knew all along – social-emotional skills are vital for success in school and in life. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood brings Fred Rogers’ landmark curriculum to a new generation of kids to help support this critical learning.

Connect with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood:

Courtesy of PBS Kids

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10 Tips for National Bullying Prevention Month

October 23, 2012 by  
Filed under family topics, kids, safety

Bullying is an epidemic that impacts children of all ages. It reaches its peak in middle school, where 44 percent of schools report at least one incidence of bullying each week. In reality, the real number of incidents is likely much higher: children (and adults) often fail to report ongoing bullying because of fear appearing “uncool,” or becoming a target themselves.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an ideal time for educators and parents to empower children with the resources and confidence they need to prevent to bullying.

“It can be incredibly hard stand up to bullying, especially if no one else is challenging the behavior,” say authors Cindy Miller, a school social worker, and Cynthia Lowen, producer and writer of the documentary film, Bully. “In these situations, it can require an extra measure of independent thinking by your child to recognize that what she’s witnessing is wrong, and confidence in her own values to step in and do something about it.”

In their book The Essential Guide to Bullying: Prevention and Intervention, Miller and Lowen offer 10 tips for helping turn bystanders – those who are aware of a bullying situation but do nothing to prevent it – safely become upstanders – those students or adults who call attention to bullying and work to protect children who are targeted. The tips include:

(Note: Although written in the feminine, all of these indicators apply equally to boys and girls.)

  1. Be a friend to someone who is being bullied: Walk with the target in the hall, sit with her at lunch, welcome her into your group, “friend” her on Facebook.
  2. Help the target talk to an adult: Walk with her to a counselor’s officer or a teacher, or make a witness report if you were there when the bullying occurred.
  3. Don’t participate: Avoid spreading rumors, contributing to online bullying, laughing at mean remarks, or actively adding to the bullying in any way.
  4. Tell the bully to stop: Assertively tell the bully that you don’t like what she’s doing, that it’s bullying, and that it needs to stop. And always speak to an adult when you witness bullying.
  5. Tell bystanders to stop: If you see others participating in bullying or laughing along, tell them they’re making the problem worse and are also bullying. Stop untrue rumors.
  6. Reach out to newcomers: If you notice a new person at your school, reach out to her; introduce her to your friends and make her feel welcome.
  7. Don’t be afraid to think independently or be the only one voicing what others are probably thinking: The people most celebrated in our culture are those who took the risk to speak out and stand up to injustice.
  8. Start an upstander club at your school: Let others know you’re an upstander and someone others can go to if they’re being bullied.
  9. Talk to parents, teachers, principals, and staff about bullying at school: Tell them where it’s happening, and where kids need greater protection.
  10. Sign an anti-bullying pledge (sample pledges available in The Essential Guide to Bullying): Write down your own commitment to preventing bullying, and ask your friends to sign their agreement.

More tips and guidance on identifying and preventing bullying are available in The Essential Guide to Bullying.

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Eye Safety and UV Protection: Questions and Answers

July 24, 2012 by  
Filed under family topics, health

Sunglasses and Children:

1.    How can I protect an infant’s eyes from the sun?

There are a few great styles available for infants. These sunglasses are generally designed to fit ages 0-2.

2.    How young should children start wearing sunglasses?

Since UV exposure is cumulative, it’s never too early or too late to start protecting eyes. Young eyes are especially vulnerable to UV rays, so start protecting your children’s eyes as early as possible to ward off the effects of UV on eyes later in life. Starting this safety measure early on may also help it become habit as they grow into young adults and into adulthood.

3.    How can I keep sunglasses on a one-year-old baby?

While it can be frustrating, it’s best to keep putting the sunglasses on your one-year-old to help him or her get used to wearing them. You can also pair the sunglasses with a hat that shades the face to make sure your child’s eyes receive as little contact to direct UV rays as possible. UV exposure is cumulative, so it’s important to make sure young eyes are protected to ward off the effects of UV on eyes later in life.

4.    I try and get my kids to wear sunglasses but they eventually take them off. Are there any tips to help keep sunglasses on kids?

This can certainly be a difficult situation. There are a couple key things The Vision Council would suggest:

  • Make sure the sunglasses fit your children comfortably. Sunglasses that pinch or are scratched are less likely to be worn.
  • Set a prime example by always wearing your own shades. It will seem like a more natural habit if they see you in your own sunglasses.
  • Depending on your children’s ages, style might also play a role. Have them pick out a pair they like and they may be more prone to wear them.

5.    Are there any recommendations on sunglasses for children with sensory issues like autism?

Some kids’ sunglasses use a flexible, rubber strap-on band instead of a metal frame, which could be a great alternative for children with sensory issues. Rubber can be more comfortable and provides tension to give sunglasses a snug fit – without touching ears and noses. These kinds of sunglasses are tinted and look like sport goggles.

You may want to consult a local optician for other ideas. Opticians are often willing to work with you and your child(ren) to create a pair of UV-protective sunglasses that are comfortable and fit properly.

6.    If my kids constantly lose stuff, how much should I invest in a quality pair of sunglasses?

For sunglasses, quality doesn’t necessarily translate to high cost. Several reputable retailers offer protective shades at an affordable price. If your children are particularly prone to losing items, consider buying shades with a plastic frame, which can be less expensive than metal frames.

Sometimes cheap sunglasses are just that—cheap. But you can purchase inexpensive shades and feel confident that your child is getting the protection he/she needs as long as the UV protection is there and the lenses provide clear, unaltered vision.

High price does not always mean high quality. In quality sunglasses, UV protection is a MUST—be sure to find a pair with a sticker or tag stating that the sunwear blocks UV rays (both UVA and UVB). Most of the sunglasses found in retails stores, drug stores, and department stores will only sell glasses with UV protection, and they can be quite inexpensive. Places to steer clear of include online auction sites, street vendors, and vintage or second hand stores.

In addition to UV protection, make sure to look at the lens of a potential purchase. Some inexpensive glasses can have lens distortion which can cause irritation and headaches. They may also shatter more easily, which can be hazardous for active children.

7.    How do you keep kids from breaking sunglasses and also get them to wear a pair?

The Vision Council’s 2012 VisionWatch survey found that half of all Americans will break or lose their sunglasses this year, so this problem extends well beyond your household. There are certain styles and products designed to withstand a little more wear and tear than other styles. Also, sunglasses are just one type of UV protective eyewear. Polycarbonate lenses found in sports protective eyewear and available in clear and tinted lenses provide higher durability and also protect against UVA and UVB rays.

8.    Is any of the damage on children’s eyes reversible? And if kids start wearing sunglasses now, will that remedy any past damage?

Since UV exposure is cumulative, it’s never too early or too late to start protecting eyes. Some eye conditions like photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye) are temporary, while others like ptergyium (abnormal growth on the eye) can be reversed with surgery. However, these conditions often reoccur if UV protective eyewear is not worn in the future.

9.    How can I make sure that my children are wearing sunglasses during recess or outdoor time?

Frequent sunglass use comes with practice. Reinforce healthy behaviors by making kids routinely wear sunglasses when they are out and about – it will help to get them in the habit of remembering to protect their eyes. Kids are also more likely to wear sunglasses if they like them. Involve kids in their sunglass purchases and choose a pair that is not only UV protective, but also exciting to wear.

If your kids are old enough, sit them down and really talk about the reasons why sun-protection like sunblock, hats, and sunglasses are important. As a parent, make sure to add sunglasses to your daily school-prep routine. As you pack your children’s bag with lunch and sports uniforms, check to make sure sunglasses are there too.

Finding Quality Sunglasses:

1.    How can I tell if I have a quality pair of sunglasses? Should I be looking for a certain type of government standard?

To determine the UV protection provided by your current sunglass lenses, take them to your local optometrist or ophthalmologist’s office. Many optical practices have a UV meter that can determine the UV protection of a lens.

When purchasing sunglasses, you should look for an American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, sticker or logo on the lens,tag or box. The ANSI Z80.3-2001 standard, usually labeled as “UV 380,” covers all UVA and UVB ray protective requirements.

2.    Where should I go to buy a quality pair of sunglasses?

Sunglasses should be purchased from a reputable retailer, not street vendors or popular auction sites. Everything from mass retailers to drug stores to your local eye care professional are considered reputable. Wherever you purchase sunglasses, look for both UVA and UVB protection – it will be noted by an American National Standards Institute sticker or logo.

A.) What is a street vendor?

Street vendors are tiny shops or stands that are setup on the side of the street. They sell goods and products – often at a discounted rate – that may be acquired illegally.

3.    Where can I find quality sunglasses that have characters on them?

Reputable retailers like drug stores, mass retailers, and eye care professional offices often have creative kids’ sunglass options. If you’ve found a pair of character shades, make sure the lens quality is good. Try them on your eyes first to make sure you can see clearly. If the lens is blurry for you, they will be blurry for your child too. And again, look for that logo, sticker or tag stating that the shades meet the ANSI standard for UV protection.

UV Radiation:

1.    Do hats help decrease UV exposure to eyes?

Hats, especially wide brimmed ones, can help block UV radiation, but they should never be used in place of sunglasses. The sun is constantly moving so the direction of UV rays at noon is very different from the direction at 3 or 4 p.m. Baseball caps that only have front bills don’t offer eyes nearly enough protection as the sun starts to set. UV protective eyewear is the best way to make sure that eyes are shielded from UVA and UVB rays.

2.    What is the difference between UVA and UVB?

Both UVA and UVB rays penetrate the Earth’s surface and can lead to eye damage, including cataracts. UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of our UV exposure and are present regardless of the season or time of day. UVB rays are shorter and less prevalent but they are also more intense than UVA rays. UVB rays are shorter in length and are more prevalent in the summer months.

3.    Should sunglasses be worn even on cloudy days?

Sunglasses should always be worn outside – no matter your location, season, or time of day. Overcast skies still allow 31 percent of solar radiation to reach the Earth’s surface.

Sunglasses: Styles, Options and Cost:

1.    What are polarized lenses and should my kids be wearing them?

Polarized lenses block light reflected from shiny, horizontal surfaces like water, pavement, and dashboards to reduce glare. They improve contrast and visibility while reducing squinting and eyestrain. For adults, polarized lenses are especially helpful for activities like driving, and for kids they can help to cut glare from the ocean or pool. If your children are highly active, polarized lenses may be a good option.

2.    In terms of lenses, does bigger mean better?

The first thing to consider is whether or not lenses have UV protection; only consider those that do. If lenses are UV protective, size isn’t a huge factor; however, larger lenses can offer more protection to skin that surrounds the eye. Wrap-around sunglasses and those with larger temples also protect skin to the side of eyes.

3.    Can sunglasses be tightened if they get too loose?

Sunglasses that are left in extreme heat can become loose, causing them to not fit your head properly. To fix this, visit a local eye care professional who can tighten both the frame and joints on site.

4.    Does insurance cover sunglasses if you don’t need vision correction?

Insurance companies only cover prescription eyewear. However, certain plans may offer family discounts to specific eye professional retailers.

5.    My prescription glasses have UV protection but the lenses aren’t dark. Is that okay?

UVA and UVB protection is not a function of how light or dark your lenses are. As long as your glasses indicate that they are UV-protective, you are good to go.

6.    Do my contacts change the way UV radiation effects my eyes?

Some contact lenses offer limited UV protection, but not for the entire eye. Also, because the eyelid is a frequent site of skin cancer (10 percent of all skin cancers), sunglasses are vital to sun safety.

Is the sunlight that comes through my home and office windows harmful?

Normal window glass does not protect eyes from all UV radiation. Even though UVB rays can’t penetrate glass, UVA rays can. This puts skin and eyes near windows at risk to exposure. While most glass doesn’t protect against UVA rays, some more modern windows use a coat of UV-blocking film to filter them out.
Courtesy of The Vision Council

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Protect Your Children’s Eyes by Wearing Sunglasses

July 23, 2012 by  
Filed under baby, family topics, health, kids

Whenever I’m out in the sun I always make sure I have my sunglasses with me. However, it never occurred to me to bring along my kids’ sunglasses as well.

Research shows that more than 40 percent of parents don’t proactively ensure their children wear UV protective sunglasses – the most effective tool for blocking damaging UVA and UVB rays. This is extremely dangerous for kids, especially those under ten, who are at higher risk of UV damage than adults.

The Vision Council

The Vision Council is a nonprofit trade association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. Their member companies manufacture and/or distribute everything from eyeglass lenses and frames to sunglasses to eyeglass cases and accessories. An important part of their work is educating adults and children about vision health and eye safety.

The Vision Council recently hosted a webinar featuring two eye experts:

  • Dr. Dora Adamopoulos, an optometrist in Alexandria, Va., and mother of two. She is also a member of the Better Vision Institute, the medical advisory arm to The Vision Council.
  • Jamie Shyer, a chairman to The Vision Council and COO of his family-owned fashion eyeglass frame supplier, Zyloware Eyewear. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, two kids and five dogs.

According to Dr. Adamopoulos, children receive three times the annual sun exposure of adults. Their immature lens makes them especially susceptible to UV-related damage and UV exposure at any age can cause both short and long term vision problems – many of which can’t be reversed. Even a small amount of unprotected exposure is dangerous. UV exposure adds up over time and can lead to serious health problems as you and your children age. That’s why it’s increasingly important to have sunglasses handy at all times.

Mr. Shyer gave advice on how to choose the right sunglasses for your family:

  • For the beach or pool friendly family, consider polarized lenses. They work exceptionally well at filtering out reflected glare from shiny surfaces like water and pavement. Polarized lenses also improve contrast and visibility so you don’t feel like you need to squint.
  • For the sports players and enthusiasts, you should look into impact-resistant lenses. These lenses are designed to handle high-impact, like baseballs, lacrosse balls, Frisbees, or any other projectile. Most of these lenses are made from high performance materials like polycarbonate, polyurethane or Trivex.
  • For parents always on the go, consider anti-reflective lenses that provide extra protection in difficult lighting situations. These can be especially helpful on the road and during sunrise and sunset.
  • When choosing sunglasses, it’s always best to buy from a reputable retailer. Look for shades that meet criteria set by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI for short. Some glasses will have an ANSI label directly on the lens while others will include the ANSI label on a tag, box or in a warranty.
  • Consider a lens color that improves clarity and reduces glare. For example, brown/ amber/ copper lenses are tints that reduce glare and improve contrast and visibility. These are great for golfing, water and snow sports. Retailers can help you determine which tint or color will meet your specific needs.

However, we all know how difficult it is to get kids to wear something they don’t want to. Here are some tips to help your child want to wear their sunglasses:

  • As parents, we always have to be creative. If your kids like stickers, you might try letting them put two to three stickers on glasses to give them some independence. Limit sticker use to the frames so that you don’t cover any lines of sight.
  • For little ones, buy an inexpensive pair of sunglasses and outfit their favorite stuffed animals in them. When their favorite friends are being sunwise, they will be too.
  • You should also try wearing your sunglasses every time you have the opportunity. Not only is it a healthy habit to get into – it will also reinforce this behavior in your children.
  • One of the most important things to consider when purchasing sunglasses is comfort; not because comfort is more important than health but because sunglasses won’t get worn if they aren’t comfortable and use is our top priority.

So the next time you’re outdoors, don’t forget to bring along sunglasses for yourself as well as your kids! And stop by The Vision Council’s website www.missingsunglasses.com for more useful information about sunglasses, lenses, tints and frames.

Information courtesy of The Vision Council

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