Posts Tagged 'education'

Parenting politics

Vote

Unaltered image. Theresa Thompson, Flickr. CC license.

With the November election today, you can’t read a newspaper, watch television, listen to the radio or peruse social media without encountering political messages. And while many people have expressed exhaustion with the constant bombardment, the election is certainly important. In part, it’s important because we are electing a new president. Equally important, we are choosing representatives, senators, mayors, and judges on the federal, state and local levels, as well as voting on various proposals. Even more important, every election gives us an opening to educate our children about the political process and its attendant issues.

Why talk to your kids about politics? For that, there are several answers.

  • Liberty. We live in a country with the freedom to self-govern. We exercise that freedom by being informed and involved in the political process. Children who are comfortable with government, politics, and social and fiscal issues will be involved and informed citizens.
  • Self-Interest. The business of government is the peoples’ business, and what is accomplished (or not) in the political arena affects the lives of the people, including the lives of the little people. Does your daughter’s school have enough computers in her classroom? Does your son want to see an expansion to the city’s recreation department? These are issues that are addressed in the political arena.
  • Influence. Put quite bluntly: Other people are talking to your kids about politics; shouldn’t you be too? From what kids see on TV to what they hear in their classrooms, there are subtle and not-so-subtle messages reaching your children about government, politics and politicians. When we discuss politics and government with our children, our voices, our values and our beliefs will give them a framework against which to weigh all of the other information they receive.

So that’s the why. Next it’s the how.

How do you talk to your child about politics? The first step is not about talking at all, but about showing. We all know that kids won’t do what we say but rather what they see. For example, we can tell them to eat their vegetables until we are blue in the face, but unless they see us munching carrots and cauliflower the message will never hit home. So show your kids that the political process matters to you. Take them with you when you vote! There is no message so strong on the importance of exercising your right to vote than having your kids see you do it. In every election. For every issue. Remember that while presidential elections get all the attention, the local millage vote has as much impact on your child’s life as, if not more than, who sits in the Oval Office.

And then talk to them. Start with explaining what you do in that voting booth and why it’s important that you do it. When it comes to issues, I recommend being guided by their interests. If your elementary school age child loves tigers, talk about wildlife conservation. If your high schooler bemoans the fact that there is no lacrosse team at school, discuss school finance. Make the discussion of political issues a natural part of family discourse. If your kids see you filling out your tax forms, talk about tax policy. And if they hear about crime on the news, discuss your beliefs about crime and punishment.

Finally, if you encourage a spark of interest in your children, nurture it. Take them to a School Board or City Council meeting. Encourage them to volunteer to help a cause they are passionate about before they are old enough to vote. When my own kids started to show political passion, I sat down with them and watched the West Wing on DVD. It opened up the opportunity to discuss process and positions in a way that held their interest. (And yes, for those of you familiar with both the show and this author, there is a reason my youngest daughter is named CJ.)

So while political fatigue may be setting in, please remember that your little people are looking to you for example and information. The choices you make at the polls affect their lives, but not nearly as much as teaching them to make those choices for themselves.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program volunteer

Do the language dance

Dad reading to a little boy

Unaltered image. Jinglejammer, Flickr. CC license.

Wouldn’t it be reassuring if we could see into our child’s future? To see them as a well-adjusted, content, healthy teenager who is making the most of their academic and social opportunities in high school, could make our parenting job just a little easier.

But there isn’t a crystal ball for that, just some significant research.

Which of these factors contribute most to the future school achievement of our children: income, IQ, school, where we live, genetic code? Actually, none of them. Instead, our children’s achievement in school is determined by the number of words parents say to them between birth and 3 years of age.

Research shows that by the age 3, some children heard a total of 13 million words while others heard a total of 45 million words. (Words from a TV, computer or iPad don’t count.) The more communication our babies have with us, even before they can talk, the better their language development will be. Language development is the beginning of literacy (reading, writing and communicating). A strong literacy foundation is the key to school success.

Children who heard 45 million words didn’t only hear directions such as “Eat your peas,” or “Don’t stand on the furniture.” Their parents also talked to them when they didn’t have to; this is called the language dance.

More talk is good, but not just any talk will make your child smarter. To positively impact our children’s language development, we must engage them in the language dance. One way to do this is with books. Yes, this includes reading them, but it is mostly by talking with our children about the books we are reading.

Language dance tips

Going beyond the text is one of the best ways to engage in the language dance. When reading books with your child, pay attention to what he is pointing to or looking at, then say something about it. Some ideas for comments are:

  • Name a character or item: “The little boy’s name is Jack.”
  • Describe the character: “Jack looks excited,” or “Jack’s mommy is working really hard.”
  • Describe the item: “That ball is round and rolls on the ground,” or “The white clouds in the sky are fluffy.”
  • Connect to your child’s life: “You have a colorful ball too. Look, here’s your ball.”

Remember, the language dance supports language development and, ultimately, literacy. So while we may not actually be able to see into our children’s future, one sure way to create a good one is by building the components of a solid literacy foundation. Your children will thank you.

– Stacey Sharpe Mollison, Simply Smart Kids, Co-Founder

Disciplining a toddler

Toddler girl throwing a tantrum

Unaltered image. Citril, Flickr. CC license.

Being the parent of a toddler can be fun at times, but it’s definitely challenging sometimes, too. Toddlers often cause concern and frustration for their parents through their behaviors like biting, hitting, pulling hair, being defiant, using bad language, and throwing temper tantrums. How do you deal with these behaviors? Are they too young to discipline and how do you go about doing that for such young children?

Beaumont’s Beginning Discipline – The Toddler Years class can help parents dealing with the wonderful but sometimes difficult toddler years. You’ll learn where toddlers are at developmentally and why their behaviors make sense within that context. You’ll also get suggestions for how to help them learn to manage their emotions and act more appropriately. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. Come join us at Beaumont’s Toddler Discipline class and learn how to better understand your toddler and how to help them learn positive behaviors.

Register for an upcoming class.

Infant and Child CPR Tips

Every parent should take a CPR class. It can’t hurt to take a class and get certified in Infant and Child CPR by the American Heart Association. You’ll get to see these techniques performed in person and ask the instructor any questions. And someday you may save a life! 

Shout and tap.

Decide whether CPR is necessary. Call out your child’s name and gently tap him on the shoulder. If there is no response and the baby isn’t breathing (or not breathing normally), position the infant on his back to begin CPR. 

Remember to “Take a CAB”.

Performing CPR on a baby comes down to these three steps.

C = Circulation

1. Place the baby on his back on a firm, flat surface, such as the floor or table.
2. Place two fingers of one hand just below an imaginary horizontal line between baby’s nipples.
3. Give 30 chest compressions. Hard and fast! Depth should be 1½ inches to circulate the blood.

A = Airway

After 30 compressions, gently tip the head back one hand and lift his chin slightly with the other.

B = Breathing

1. Cover the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth.
2. Give a gentle puff of air in baby’s mouth, wait one second, and then give a second puff of air.
3. Give two breaths after every 30 chest compressions.

Do the CAB steps 5 times (30 chest compression to two breaths) = 2 minutes. At the end of every 2 minutes, assess the baby. If there is still no movement or breathing, continue to repeat the CAB steps until help arrives.

Call 911.

If there’s someone else at home with you, have her call for help immediately. If you’re alone, you can start CPR. If after two minutes there is still no response, call 911. Once you give the emergency operator your info, continue to administer CPR until help arrives.

– Michelle Enerson, RNC, is the NICU Program Coordinator for the Beaumont Parenting Program and a certified Basic Life Support Instructor.

Tips and Tools for Financial Literacy

2 girls and 1 boy holding dollar bills

Cropped image. Carissa Rogers, Flickr / CC License

Learning good money habits as a child can help prevent money mistakes later in life. Believe it or not, you can start teaching healthy habits as early as 3 years old — think as simple as explaining that you need money to buy things. April is Financial Literacy Awareness month, so why not start the conversation today?

For Young Children

  • PNC’s For Me, For You, For Later Series features:

For Elementary-age Kids

  • OUR Credit Union’s Money Fact Sheet shows how to write money and also gives examples of how the same money looks in different combinations, like four quarters equal $1.
  • Try coin-counting apps, like Jungle Coins (iPad) and Freefall Money (iPhone, iPod, iPad), which help kids ages 6 and up learn coin math.
  • Open a child’s saving account. Many financial institutions offer a kids’ club as a fun and educational way to learn about money. Check with your bank or credit union to see what’s available.
  • Consider a piggy bank or envelope system divided into 4 options for allowances and monetary gifts:
    • Spend. Think bagel day at school or small toy at the store.
    • Save. Perfect for a larger purchase, like that $50 LEGO set.
    • Invest. This money goes into the savings account. Have your child make the deposit so he/she learns the process and gets comfortable with interacting with a teller.
    • Donate. This teaches the importance of giving back to the community. Although you can help guide, let your child choose where the donation should go, which will often be to something she finds interesting. For example, my son planted a tree in Borneo through the Indianapolis Zoo and donated to our local animal shelter.
    • Read about how one family is using this with their 4-year-old.

For High Schoolers and College Students

  • Credit Card Simulator is a fun tool that teaches credit card management skills. Choose a platinum, gold, or plus card (each with a different APR), then “purchase” items. The “bill” shows the minimum payment and then how much you’ll really pay over time when making only the minimum payment.
  • Financial Football is a trivia-type game covering topics like bankruptcy, stocks and scholarships.
  • Looking for budget basics? Wondering how to buy a car? Confused about where to save your money? Creditunionsrock.com offers lots of great tips for all of those questions and more. Topics include earning, budgeting, saving, spending, borrowing and planning.
  • Bizkids includes resources for starting your own business as a teen.

For All Ages

Announcing the 2015 Beaumont Royal Oak Baby Fair

Two purple rubber ducks

All expecting and new parents are invited to join us for a festival-style event celebrating birth and babies!

Where:
Beaumont Royal Oak,
3601 W 13 Mile Rd
Royal Oak, MI 48073

When:
Saturday, April 18, 2015
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Highlights include:

  • Mini classes on many interesting topics including:
    • Comfort measures in labor
    • Breastfeeding basics
    • Relief of choking in babies and children
    • Homemade baby food
    • Infant massage
    • Baby basics
    • Car seat safety
    • Happiest Baby on the Block
  • Information about Beaumont’s Parenting Program and the Prenatal & Family Education Department
  • Pregnancy, birth and baby-related vendors including mom and baby boutique items, infant photography, age-appropriate toys, natural and healthy foods, and many others
  • Door prizes
  • Refreshments
  • Mom-to-Mom Chat with Danielle Karmanos, on behalf of the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth
  • The opportunity to learn about Beaumont’s birth centers

This event is free to the public and doesn’t require registration. Grandparents, families and friends are also welcome and encouraged to attend with expecting or new parents.

For more information, please visit the Beaumont Baby Fairs webpage.

You can also share your favorite baby resources with others – post to Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram with #myBeaumontBaby to join Beaumont’s pinboard. The pinboard is full of great resources from other parents and the experts at Beaumont Children’s Hospital and features everything from inspirational quotes and birth plan ideas to photos of favorite baby foods and baby shower themes.

Tackling Test Anxiety

Photo of a hand completing a multiple choice test

Cropped image. Alberto G, Flickr. CC License.

Spring is here, along with the rounds of college entrance and advanced placement exams. For school-age children, the M-STEP testing is coming up soon. Most of us hope our children will do well, but for some families there is an extra layer of worry: their children suffer from “test anxiety”.

“I studied and I knew the material. But as soon as I started looking at the questions, I felt nervous and sweaty. My mind went blank. I couldn’t remember much of what I’d learned. I just started guessing. I did horribly on the exam and now I’m angry and sad.”

What exactly is test anxiety? The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) describes test anxiety as a type of performance anxiety.

There are several reasons for test anxiety.

  • Students who had previous negative experiences with test-taking may develop worry in anticipation of the test.
  • Another common reason is poor preparation. Students who struggle to get organized and/or manage their time wisely will be challenged to prepare adequately.
  • Fear of failure also contributes – thinking that our self-worth is wrapped up in that grade causes extra tension and stress. This is a double-bind, because all that worry and fear inhibit the ability to set up a structured plan and prepare effectively.

Luckily there are a variety of tips and tricks for managing test anxiety, including these from the ADAA:

  • Be prepared. Be aware of when tests are happening and study in smaller increments over time rather than pulling all-nighters or “cramming”.
  • Be a good test-taker. Read all the directions carefully. Complete questions you know first, and then go back to harder ones. Outline essay answers.
  • Stay positive. Your self-worth is not dependent on a test grade. Reward yourself for staying on track with study goals. Some anxiety is normal and natural, expect it and let it be there. Let anxious thoughts come and go, but stay focused on the task of studying or taking the test.
  • Stay focused. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing; focus on the test in front of you. Avoid talking to others about the material before the exam.
  • Use relaxation techniques. Taking slow, deep breaths and consciously relaxing your muscles one at a time can help energize you and sharpen your focus.
  • Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy foods. Exhaustion and fatigue do not good test-takers make.
  • Get help. If needed, your school counselor or college counseling center can help with needed resources. Sometimes special accommodations are needed, but most of the time, test anxiety can be managed effectively by following these guidelines.

– Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital


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