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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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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HHS and Education Launch New Stop Bullying Website

April 11, 2012 by  
Filed under family topics, kids, safety

Strategies and webisodes for children schools and parents at www.stopbullying.gov

Building on the momentum the Obama administration started more than a year ago to stop bullying in schools and communities, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan today unveiled a revitalized Stop Bullying website– www.stopbullying.gov – to encourage children, parents, educators, and communities to take action to stop and prevent bullying.

The website provides a map with detailed information on state laws and policies, interactive webisodes and videos for young people, practical strategies for schools and communities to ensure safe environments, and suggestions on how parents can talk about this sensitive subject with their children. The site also explores the dangers of cyberbullying and steps youngsters and parents can take to fight it.

Research shows that bullying is physical and emotional abuse. Students who are bullied are more likely to struggle in school and skip class. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, be depressed, and are at higher risk of suicide.  There is a Get Help page, which is directly linked to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which means young people can get immediate help for themselves or others if needed.

“Bullying is not just an education or health problem, it is a community problem,” said Secretary Sebelius. “We are committed to working together at the federal level to help communities, schools and families address it as a single problem.”

The enhanced site responds to feedback from the March 2011 White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and the September 2011 Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit that awareness alone will not prevent bullying. The site now gives concrete steps that students, parents, educators and community members can take to prevent and stop bullying.

“We’ve come a long way in the past year in educating the public about the health and educational impacts that bullying can have on students. But simply being aware of the problem is not enough,” said Secretary Duncan. “Everyone has a role to play, and StopBullying.gov features ways we can all take action against bullying.”

Follow StopBullying.Gov on Twitter or Facebook for more information on how to take action to stop bullying.

Information courtesy of Stopbullying.org

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