Some kids too old for kindergarten
I just wanted to commend Linda Morgan on her kindergarten readiness article. This is the first I've read that points out the DIS-advantages to holding your child back.
My girls both went to kindergarten at age 5 (summer birthdays, both) and my younger daughter had a child in her kindergarten class who was 7 years old! This was the same age as her second-grade sister.
This child did NOT fit into a kindergarten classroom, physically or emotionally. The developmental difference was amazing and definitely put the other, correctly aged children at a disadvantage (i.e., this older child could already read, and would "spoil" the word of the day on the board by reading it aloud before other children had the chance to sound it out).
Just as there are minimum age limits to entering kindergarten, there should be maximum age limits as well. If the child exceeds those age limits, put them in first grade where they belong! I think holding children back has become epidemic and it's unnecessary. Let's get back to kindergarten at age 5!
Mary-Leah Gordon, Bothell
Thanks for 'Shark Tale' review
Bravo to Kris Collingridge for her bold comments about "Shark Tale" and other animated films of late. We have been disheartened to find inappropriate content in movies that are marketed at children. Please let us know when you find children's films that keep our kids both interested and innocent, and thank you for saving our family $25.
Debbie Woolsey, Seattle
Holiday cheer for foster children
I often find myself wondering, "Who is going to be responsible for the well-being of foster children?" Your feature article on foster care ("Bridge Over Troubled Waters," October 2004) helps all of us to identify opportunities to take personal responsibility.
The state of Washington is not an adequate parent. DSHS is staffed with well-meaning and well-trained employees, but it's not a parent. When birth parents cannot or will not take care of their children effectively, we ask volunteer foster parents to step up to the challenge.
Most of us cannot volunteer to be foster parents. Yet, I believe every one of us can do something to improve the lives of foster children. I am excited about a comprehensive article like yours because it moves readers to action. People do want to help. We know from calls received at Treehouse. Our community is better when each of us steps up to help care for a vulnerable child. Our world will be better because a child's potential will be nurtured instead of wasted.
As the holidays approach, I would like to ask your readers to do a simple thing to help foster children. Organize a drive for clothing and gift items at a school, office, church or community organization. Deliver the items to Treehouse in the week or so before Christmas, and feel great that you have helped a child feel cared about during the holidays.
After the New Year, call me to find out how else you can help. There are many opportunities to volunteer or advocate for kids in foster care.
Janis Avery, Executive Director, Treehouse
Real politics means changing the world
Today I read the article, "Parenthood inspires political involvement " (October 2004). It's great to see families getting involved with the political process. As former co-director of Pike Market Child Care & Preschool and a member of the Worthy Wage Task Force, I have a few comments on Jolene Gensheimer's piece.
Something the author failed to mention is that activism is central to Pike Market Child Care & Preschool's work. The article makes it sound as if the children somehow pick it up through osmosis. The preschool offers a sliding fee scale, making NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) quality care available to families with a variety of economic resources.
They also integrate a philosophy of anti-bias and cultural relevancy into all aspects of their program. They do this to support children in developing the skills they'll need to live in a diverse society. This philosophy also promotes fairness and equity among all people.
Layered over these goals is a component of action: The idea that by working collectively, we can change our world for the better--and I believe this is truly what politics are all about, to echo PMCCP's program manager. Both this philosophy and its methodology stand in stark contrast to the idea of coloring flags and memorizing pictures of American iconography, as is mentioned at the end of the article.
On another note, Worthy Wage Day is on May 1 each year--National Workers Day. If it falls on the weekend, folks can expect it to be the Friday before or Monday after. For more information about the event or to join the planning committee, check out www.seattle.worthywageday.org.
Jodi Golden White, Seattle
Keep politics out of ParentMap
I recently picked up the October edition, and after reading your Voice editorial "It takes guts to cast a ballot," I want to tell you that I will never consider subscribing to your magazine because of your overtly political article.
Your presentation of the pros and cons of I-884 was somewhat informative, and certainly relevant to your audience of parents, but you went too far when you stated your personal political leaning. I am interested in facts, not YOUR gut feeling.
You would better serve parents by sticking to topics on parenting, rather than by politicizing your publication. If you want to express your political opinions, write to The Seattle Times.
Gina Humphries, Snoqualmie
Thanks for thoughtful foster care article
Thank you for the thoughtful article on the foster care program (Bridge over troubled water , October 2004). So many articles about foster care focus on abusive foster families that sometimes I think twice about admitting that I grew up in a foster family. (I had four foster sisters growing up and it was a positive experience for us all.)
While it's important that horrific abuse cases are brought to light and changes made to the system immediately, the foster care program will benefit more from thoughtful articles like yours that talk about the majority of hard-working, sacrificing and giving foster families and the real issues and benefits of being a foster family.
More people will be willing to become a foster family if there isn't a stigma attached to foster families, and breaking down the stigma that the general media has applied starts with balanced articles like yours. Thank you.
Susan Moe, Bellevue
More postpartum help for moms, dads
First, I want to thank Sally James for her excellent interview of Thomas Soukakos (One dad's crusade: Know signs of postpartum depression , October 2004). Second, I want to applaud Thomas for his courage and dedication. He is a true inspiration!
I was one of the providers who saw Carol (Soukakos' wife, who committed suicide), though it was only once and it was on the last day of her life. It was clear to me that she was in deep trouble, although by then it was too little too late. She agreed to the treatment I recommended but inwardly had made another choice. It was a preventable tragedy.
I have worked with moms with postpartum depression for 10 years and have seen the vast majority get well and go on to live happy lives as mothers. But there are still many women who do not get help, who do not know about the resources out there and whose providers are unaware of the problem.
As chairperson of Depression After Delivery, I can tell you that our mission has been to change this. We are a board made up of providers and recovered moms who have dedicated countless hours to offer phone support, referrals, educational forums, etc., and I believe we have made a difference in our community.
The other hopeful change that I have seen in my professional career is a growing national awareness. Tragedies like Andrea Yates in Texas, the mom who drowned her five children because she was psychotically depressed, have brought attention to the problem of postpartum mood disorders and have stirred the nation.
Finally, fathers need more support. I agree with Thomas that there aren't enough resources for dads. We at Depression After Delivery are always looking for male therapists who want to specialize in supporting fathers. It is a huge adjustment for both the mother and the father becoming parents.
Thank you very much for devoting an article to this subject and I hope you will do more!
Abby Myers MN, ARNP, Seattle