Beaumont’s Certified Sitter Class

image credit: Lina Kivaka, Pexels

Beaumont’s Certified Sitter course is designed for boys and girls 10 years of age and older who are interested in babysitting or responsible for younger siblings at home.

This fun-filled course is taught by emergency room staff/American Heart Association instructors.

Over the course of two afternoons, students learn the basics of babysitting, how to advertise safely, and appropriate fees to charge clients. They will also receive five of their own business cards!

We discuss topics include babysitting as a business, growth and development, what to do in case of an emergency, and tips for playtime. 

Students learn that every child is different, and we talk about the needs and likes/dislikes of children from birth to six years of age. Topics include bottle feeding, diaper changing, common illnesses, and basic injuries. Calm and quick reactions to these situations are emphasized and tools to achieve them are discussed.

Playtime is a fun time and we discuss and demonstrate age appropriate toys for all age groups.  Meals and snacks ideas are discussed as well.

This course includes snacks for the students on both days, a starter survival bag, a certificate of completion, and the confidence to get started.

Enroll your child in a Certified Sitter class today.

– Cindy Miller, American Heart Association instructor, is the Training Center secretary with Beaumont Health Royal Oak.

The constraint of the four-year college

Many families, especially those with students in the high-performing districts in Oakland County, are bound and determined to ensure their child’s admittance to a four-year college or university. While this is a good fit for some, for others, 18 is simply too young for a high-pressure environment away from home. Especially for teens who have been “helicopter parented,” being suddenly unmoored from the constant support and touchstone of their families is simply too much to take all at once.

Unfortunately, there is often extreme social pressure on both teens and their parents about “where are you going to school?” Students who don’t want to go away to school may not understand they have options — and often their parents also don’t think there are acceptable options. Yet the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that the average bachelor’s degree completion rate for community college transfers was about 60%, compared to the slightly less-than-50% completion rate for students who started in a four-year program at a college or university. For students who transferred after completing an associate degree, that percentage jumps to 71%.

Think about what exactly these statistics mean:

  • Nearly half of all students who start at a four-year college or university will not complete their degree within six years.
  • A high income level does not significantly change this statistic. Only half the students from families with an income of more than $90,000 will have a bachelor’s degree by age 24; only 1 in 17 students from families with an income less than $35,000 will graduate.
  • More than two-thirds of students who complete an associate degree before transferring will complete their bachelor’s degrees within six years (including time spent at community college).
  • As a point of comparison, the in-state rate per credit hour at Michigan State University is $513; at Oakland Community College, it is $92.
  • More than 30% of all freshmen at four-year colleges and universities drop out. If they took 12 credit hours each semester, that is a cost of at least $12,000 for tuition alone, compared to a tuition cost of around $2,200 for the first year at a community college.

These statistics are even more tragic when you consider the more than 50% of students who don’t finish their degree are often saddled with crushing student debt and no increased earning power to compensate.

Lower cost not only lowers debt accumulation, it can allow young students to explore a variety of different topics, so that when they do transfer to a four-year institution, they have a much better idea of what they want to continue to study. It is not unusual for students to change majors, which is why colleges use a six-year completion rate as the statistical standard for success.

Another advantage can be freeing up money for a student to take a gap year after they’ve completed their associate degree. Students can also opt to go more slowly and work full or part-time while taking classes, to help them figure out what education they really need to meet their career goals.

There are many options for students to start their community college studies before graduating high school. In Michigan’s Oakland county, these options include dual enrollment, early college, Oakland Schools ACE program (a partnership with Oakland Community College), Oakland Technical Schools’ early college programs, and homeschooling to complete high school requirements with college coursework.

Of course, this does not even begin to explore the myriad skilled professions (e.g., master electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, etc.) that require intensive, multi-year apprenticeships. During a time as an apprentice, students are paid to work in their field of choice while also taking classes, often on the weekends. Those who complete an apprenticeship have no student debt and have skills that are and will continue to be in very high demand around the country.

As parents, we need to better connect with what our children want, what type of education best aligns with their interests and abilities, and be willing to buck against the constraints of thinking admission to a four-year college or university is the only reasonable option.

– Kathy Henry is an adoptive parent to two teenage boys. She is also a marketing consultant, business coach and copywriter who volunteers for several organizations, including the Beaumont Parenting Program.



Finding the right preschool when your child has delays

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney.

For any parent, sending your child to school for the first time can be overwhelming and a little bit scary. But when your child has delays (speech, language, developmental), finding a preschool that is the right fit for your child and your family can seem even more daunting.

To make navigating the process of finding the best preschool feel less intimidating, I compiled a list of five important things to look for and ask about to ensure the best learning environment and support for your child.

  1. Parent/Teacher communication. Understanding how communication is handled and what to expect from the start will be of utmost importance. How will you find out about your child’s day? Will you have the opportunity to communicate with your child’s teacher at pick-up and/or drop-off, or will the teacher send home daily notes with information regarding what happened at school that day? Will you have the chance to ask questions regarding your child’s progress in person or does the teacher prefer email or scheduled phone calls? Will there be conferences to communicate how your child is progressing throughout the school year? All of these questions are important to have answers to prior to enrollment so that both the teacher and you as a parent have clear guidelines and expectations regarding communication. Make sure you are comfortable with the amount and means of communication promised by the preschool. This will set your family up for success, a positive parent/teacher relationship, and make sure you have clear, thorough information about what’s happening in your child’s classroom.
  2. Student to teacher ratio and classroom size. Making sure there are enough helping hands in the classroom is crucial to ensuring that each child in the classroom gets the support he/ she needs. The lead teacher can only be so many places at once, so knowing that there are other qualified adults in the room is important. A 3:1 child to adult ratio is ideal, especially if you feel your child will require more individualized attention. When thinking about student to teacher ratio, you also need to consider class size. Children with any sort of delay will likely benefit from being in a preschool classroom with smaller class sizes. Smaller classes allow for more one-on-one teacher instruction, provide a less overwhelming sensory environment, and create more opportunity for teachers to facilitate social/play interactions.
  3. Willingness to communicate with outside service providers. If your child has speech, language, and/or developmental delays, he or she is likely receiving outside services and working with a team of therapists. When looking for the best preschool for your child, don’t be afraid to ask if the classroom teacher is willing to communicate with outside service providers and join the team of professionals supporting your child. Your child’s teacher will have access to your child for the longest period of time of any of the therapists/professionals on the team. Making sure the teacher is willing to learn more about your child’s goals in therapy, what strategies are most effective/beneficial, and how he/she can incorporate and support generalization of your child’s treatment goals into their school day will be essential for a successful preschool experience.
  4. Visual supports and schedules. We all benefit from the use of visual supports throughout our day. Whether it is a “to do” list, a grocery list or a calendar, visuals make navigating our day more concrete and help to eliminate stress even as adults. For preschoolers, especially preschoolers with developmental delays, a classroom with strong visual supports and schedules is equally (if not more) beneficial. A classroom visual schedule creates routine, predictability, and comfort in what to expect and what is coming up next. Visuals help guide our thinking and make abstract concepts more concrete. This is vital when helping children understand and make sense of a new environment. Look for pictures labeling items in the classroom, photographs of peers for “checking in” or saying “hello,” social stories, and of course, the visual schedule.
  5. Movement breaks/play. Knowing how long your child will be expected to sit for a given time throughout the school day is important to know. Preschool-age children need to move their bodies to be accessible to learning and to soak in the important information being presented during structured activities. They need to “shake their sillies out.” Making sure that movement breaks are embedded in the classroom routine is imperative. This can be achieved by dancing, playing with equipment (e.g., scooters, balls, balance beams, slides, etc.), structured gross motor activities, and more. We also want to make sure that your child has the chance to play! Play unlocks language and builds social skills. Play helps create imagination and develops problem solving skills. Children need to play. Ask how much time in your child’s day will be dedicated to play. Make sure there will be the opportunity to explore new toys, engage in play, and develop foundational social skills that will serve your child forever.

So look for these important things as you explore options for your preschooler. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to go on visits, to observe, and to make sure you feel comfortable with what the program has to offer. Of course, a teacher who will love your child for exactly who he/she is and make learning fun is key to a positive first school experience as well.

If you have any questions or would like assistance on your journey to finding a preschool that will best fit your child’s unique needs, do not hesitate to reach out to the Beaumont Children’s Speech and Language Pathology department, we would love to help.

– Ali Pettit, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech and Language Pathology Department, Beaumont Health

Getting Gray ready for kindergarten!

little boy standing in front of school bus

Gray was excited to do a test run on the school bus.

This is the moment. My first-born child is starting kindergarten. As much as my maternal instincts want to protest this major milestone, part of me rejoices in the independence and new life phase that my son is about to embark on. He’s attended preschool twice a week, so he is familiar with structure regarding lunch time, clean-up, etc. But since beginning kindergarten will be such a big transition, we made several extra steps to get him ready for his start to school. Already we:

  • Visited the elementary school at Kindergarten Round-Up to meet the principal, two possible teachers, and tour the school (including the library, gym, classrooms, cafeteria).
  • Got to ride a school bus and learned basic rules such as remained seated while driving, where kindergarten students sit on the bus, etc.
  • Downloaded the app that school uses for electronic communications to stay connected over the summer
  • Met Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) members at Open House. These are the volunteers who will host meetings and different fundraising event throughout the school year.
  • Did a monthly calendar over the summer to check off daily and start a countdown until the first day of school
  • Included him in back-to-school shopping for his lunch box, backpack, and supplies he will be using when in school
  • Phased in an earlier bedtime (one month before we started moving bedtime, two weeks before we will move bedtime up again) to ensure an adequate night’s sleep for full day of learning.
  • Discussed how a typical week at school will look like (five full days which means no more days with Nana) and how we will incorporate fun things outside of school days. This was big for my little guy because he thrives on consistency.

As this is our first year, we are looking to learn more about how to effectively transition into the school year from summer fun and eager to watch my child grow into this new chapter.

– Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of two.

Summer slide: It’s not a dance

boy reading

We’re all excited as the school year ends and summer is upon us. Most children are so happy on the last day of school as it means sleeping in, staying up late, and best of all: no homework! But many parents know that we must keep our children reading, writing and doing math to prevent the “summer slide.”

What is the summer slide?

This is the slide in academic skills that happens over the summer. When our children return to school, they’ve fallen to a level lower than they were at when they left school in June. Typically, students can lose up to two months of learning in the summer and it takes the next grade’s teacher four to six weeks to get students back to the level where they previously were. The most profound thing about summer slide is that it is cumulative.

Over the years, the one- to two-month slide adds up and creates a gap by the time the child reaches high school. However, a parent can help your student avoid the “summer slide,” provide the opportunity to step right into the new grade level, and even learn the new grade level materials.

Summer slide is more common in lower-income levels, although no student is exempt.

Reading over the summer

Research shows that the amount of time that students spend reading outside of school is linked to gains in reading achievement. In fact, it shows that if your child reads just six books during the summer months, the summer slide can be avoided!

However, these books need to be “just right fit” books. Talk with your child’s teacher before the end of the year to find the right reading level. The books can’t be too hard or too easy; they need to be just right. This video can help determine a “just right” book.

A child is most likely to read books that he or she selects. We need to give children the time needed to select books that will motivate them to continue to read all summer.

Summer reading programs

  • Most libraries offer free reading programs that are motivating and fun. Check out your library online or at your next visit, so your child is signed up and ready to participate. Libraries are meant to be a place to read, have fun and learn as a family. When my children were little, I packed a lunch, went to the library, then headed to the park to spend some time both playing and reading.
  • Some bookstores offer summer reading programs and discounts on books. One chain even rewards summer reading with a free book at the end of the summer. Also, purchasing books for your own home library may be fun for your child, especially for high interest books. Many stores have a book list for each age and grade that children love, as well as the top picks for different age groups.

Just keep on reading

One of the most important tips that I can offer to parents is to keep reading! It isn’t meant to be something we do for a half an hour a day. It can be done all day and every day.

In the morning, grab a newspaper and read the comics, the headlines or weather. In the afternoon, provide time for your child to read the “just right” books that they selected. In the evening, find time to read with your child and encourage them to read aloud to you. Talk about the vocabulary that you encounter in your reading. Reading together helps build listening skills, as well.

When your child was an infant, you may have had books all around the house. As children grow, we tend to keep books in a central location. Instead, I suggest keeping high-interest books all around the house because kids are more likely to pick up a book and read if they are conveniently set around the house. You might also keep some books in the car; children spend a lot of time while moms drive them from here to there. It’s the perfect place to keep a few books for them to read.

There are many online reading programs that find a student’s level and provide motivational activities and books for your child. Talk to your school to see if this is available for you to purchase.

Another idea is ordering a magazine that your child enjoys. It gets delivered right to your house each week or month. They can be very motivational and can keep kids reading.

Don’t forget about math

Math is another area where students slide during the summer. Provide level-appropriate workbooks to practice the skills that your children learned during the school year.

Estimation is an important skill that can be practiced whenever you can. It can be how many miles to you think it is to grandma’s house, how long you think it will take to get somewhere, how many M & M’s are in the jar. Whatever you think of to support this skill will benefit to your child.

Write, write, write

Writing over the summer is also important. Provide a fun summer journal. Each day, have your child take time to write. It can be a journal of what they are reading, or maybe a place to write a story or poem. It is often fun to reflect in writing what they have done that day. Of course, a letter to grandma is always loved and appreciated. Just find time to practice writing.

Enjoy your summer!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.