Postings for August 2013

It’s not just about strangers

We all worry about “stranger danger” and carefully instruct our children not to be too friendly to people they don’t know. But are strangers the real threat to kids? Not according to Kim Estes, child safety expert and founder of Savvy Parents Safe Kids. According to Estes, “Your child has a higher chance of being struck by lightning than being stranger abducted.”

Here’s a list of tips and info from Estes about how to keep your kids safe:

  • Let your kids know that if they ever get lost, a safe grown-up would not take them anywhere, but would stay put with the child and find them help. Grown-ups should not transport a lost child anywhere, but instead stay with the child and enlist the help of another adult.
  • Remind your children that adults don’t ask kids for help. Adults get help from other adults.
  • Instruct your kids to stay away from anyone asking them to approach their car (especially if they don’t know them).
  • Coach your kids to scream, yell, bite and kick if someone tries to grab them.  
  • Test your kids’ safety knowledge by having them answer “What if?” scenarios.
  • Always trust your “gut” and let your children know it’s OK for them to trust theirs.
  • Talk openly and often about your safety expectations and rules.
  • Keep your safety conversations brief and to the point, and don’t use scare tactics (they don’t work).
  • Model safe behavior in front of your children.
  • Talk with other adults and report suspicious behavior.

Let’s imagine this!

The school year — on its way soon — conjures up images of homework, tests and, let’s face it, stress. All that studying often leaves little time for kids to simply play. Many experts are encouraging parents and teachers to bring back creativity — and to appreciate the power of imagination.

How can you encourage creativity at home? Here are some tips from Beyond Smart: Boosting Your Child’s Social, Emotional, and Academic Potential by Linda Morgan:

  • Provide art opportunities. Let kids initiate their own drawings.
  • Give children simple materials, such as crayons, paper, toy logs and clay to play with.
  • Let them play with other kids. They feel safe trying out language with their friends.
  • Encourage make-believe play. It’s a way for children to try on roles and work through what’s going on in their lives.
  • Schedule unstructured play. Let the kids choose their own activities.
  • Read to them and ask them to make up an ending to a story or draw a character. Make it an interactive activity.
  • Play rhyming games.
  • Tell stories that aren’t in books. Children develop a different way of listening that way.

We’re on the tube

Don’t miss “Parent to Parent,” KING-TV’s weekly segment that features ParentMap experts giving parenting advice, ranging from how to teach your kids to stay away from alcohol to traveling with tots and why it might not be a good idea to “overshare” on social media sites. The segments, coproduced with ParentMap, air on Monday mornings at 8:15 a.m. on KONG 6.


In our Golden Teddy Awards supplement, the name of the winner in the “Nanny or Babysitting Service” category was misspelled. It should have read “A Nanny for U,” not “A Nanny 4 U.”

School Scoop

Music marvels

The Whitman Middle School 8th-grade Orchestra and the Denny International Jazz Band won first place this past June in two separate “Music in the Parks” competitions.

Whitman competed in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and won first place in the orchestra division as well as the overall competition. Denny International’s string orchestra, concert band, jazz band and marching band performed at the Music in the Parks Festival in Anaheim, Calif. The jazz band was rated “superior,” won first place in its division and was voted best overall middle school jazz band.

Music in the Parks events are music festivals and competitions held at different theme parks across the United States.
Source: Seattle Public Schools District News

New ‘residency’ program in Seattle

The Seattle Teacher Residency (STR) recently welcomed its first 25 residents at a kickoff event in June with the program’s four founding partners and civic leaders in attendance.

STR hopes to fast-track student achievement by preparing and supporting exceptional teachers in Seattle Public Schools’ highest-need schools. Residency programs nationwide have begun to adapt the medical residency approach to teacher preparation.

The first STR group includes 25 residents with diverse backgrounds. Many have lived abroad; others have volunteered with children in the Puget Sound area; and each will take part in classes and team-building programs.

Seattle Teacher Residency was created through the partnership of four Seattle education leaders: Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Education Association, University of Washington College of Education and the Alliance for Education.

Giving Together

826 Seattle
826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing and tutoring center that helps kids ages 6–18 improve their creative and expository writing skills, and encourages teachers to inspire their students to write. The organization offers tutoring, homework help and writing enrichment clubs throughout the school year, and publishes student work created in 826 Seattle workshops. All programs for public school students are free. Join us in supporting 826 Seattle.

Family Health

Keeping the peace

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, aka Seattle Mama Doc, notes that new research shows that kids who say they were bullied by siblings had “worse mental health scores as indicated by results on standardized scales for depression, anxiety and anger.”

She offers these tips for keeping the peace at home:

1. Be clear about expectations for conflict resolution in your home. Remind your children of your expectations for respect and the value of treating each other fairly.

2. Teach children how to avoid conflict, walk away, ask for help and express how a brother or sister makes them feel.

3. Introduce a zero-tolerance policy for violence, destruction of property and ridicule in your house.

4. Keep your promise and take away privileges when your children don’t comply with the rules.

5. We have to keep our own behavior in check. Our consistency and model of nonviolent behavior and respect cannot be understated, of course.

Go to for more information.

Reflux in infants: Overdiagnosed?

Doctors often overdiagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in infants, according to a recent article in The Journal of Pediatrics. As a result, physicians frequently prescribe acid-suppressing medications for symptoms and signs that are, in many cases, not caused by GERD. The information is based on a joint study conducted by the University of Michigan and the University of Missouri.

The study’s lead author, Laura Scherer, Ph.D., says overdiagnosis of GERD can turn normal behavior into a medical condition. “Labeling an otherwise healthy infant as having a ‘disease’ increased parents’ interest in medicating their infant when they were told that medications are ineffective. These findings suggest that use of disease labels may promote overtreatment by causing people to believe that ineffective medications are both useful and necessary,” the report states.

Magic drawing pad

For less than $100, University of Washington researchers have designed a computer-interfaced drawing pad that helps scientists see inside the brains of children with learning disabilities while they read and write.

“Scientists needed a tool that allows them to see in real time what a person is writing while the scanning is going on in the brain,” says Thomas Lewis, Ph.D., director of the UW’s Instrument Development Laboratory. “We knew that fiber optics were an appropriate tool. The question was, how can you use a fiber-optic device to track handwriting?”

The device connects to a computer with software that records every aspect of the handwriting. Understanding how these physical patterns correlate with a child’s brain patterns can help scientists understand the neural connections involved.

In addition to learning disorders in children, the pen and pad also could help researchers study diseases in adults, especially conditions that cause motor-control problems, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Source: UW News and Information

New resource for moms, babies

The Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns, a community resource for new families, mothers and their babies, opened July 31 at Swedish/First Hill in Seattle.

The Center offers a full spectrum of prenatal and postpartum care and services including educational programs, fitness activities and support groups, along with a designated clinic space for postpartum check-ups, lactation consultations and well-baby follow up visits.

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