Postings for December 2012

Weathering storms and other disasters

According to psychologist Janet Taylor, a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy offers kids an example of the way life can be unpredictable. “We have to prepare our kids for the fact that sometimes things don’t happen the way they’re supposed to,” she said on “Good Morning America” last month. “Being adaptive is also a point of being a parent.”

She suggests parents can help their kids cope with scary events such as storms by focusing on the facts, monitoring screen time and empowering kids through preparedness. ”Give them some ‘what ifs,’ because kids are focused on the big world, but more importantly on what’s happening in their world. If we can help them establish control by having a safety kit, a preparedness plan, then we can take away some of their anxiety.” For information on how to prepare for a disaster, go here.

Bellevue’s one of the ‘best’

For the sixth year in a row, a national children’s advocacy group has included Bellevue on its list of 100 best communities for young people, an honor that comes with a $2,500 grant. Bellevue is one of just 19 communities to receive this honor every year since the list was created in 2005.

America’s Promise Alliance, which includes corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and advocacy groups, cited Bellevue for creating opportunities for youth through programs such as Wrap-Around Services and collaborations with partners, including Bellevue School District, Bellevue Youth Link, Youth Eastside Services, Bellevue Family YMCA, Eastside Pathways and the Jubilee REACH Center. The grant will support the city’s Community Leadership Awards.

Bellevue was chosen from more than 320 applicants for a place on the list, which recognizes communities across the country that focus on reducing high school dropout rates and providing service and support to their youth.

Kids soak up stress

We know our kids are sponges. But along with the vocab, the mannerisms and other indicators that they’re watching our every move, they often absorb our stress. This can lead to our kids encountering problems with anxiety, depression and even obesity, says Jonathan Hewitt, co-author of Life Ki-do Parenting: Tools to Raise Happy, Confident Kids from the Inside Out. Here are his top tools for de-stressing — for our sanity and for the kids’ as well:
•    Practice wax on, wax off parenting: Stay focused and calm while getting things done.
•    Find simple ways to stay present: Keep your attention on the things that matter.
•    Find your ‘brain drop’ system: Drop and organize the thoughts in your brain to avoid being scattered.
•    Know you’re not perfect: Accepting that will help you to streamline your energies into those who matter.
Watch ParentMap’s webinar on strategies to free your kids from stress.

Gifted kids finishing last?

A recent op-ed article in The New York Times argues for better educational opportunities for gifted kids. The writer, Chester E. Finn Jr., a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, says our system focuses on raising the floor under low-achieving students, while denying highly capable kids the support they need to succeed.

“The majority of very smart kids lack the wherewithal to enroll in rigorous private schools,” says Finn. “They depend on public education to prepare them for life. Yet that system is failing to create enough opportunities for hundreds of thousands of these high-potential girls and boys.” Finn argues that it’s time to end the “bias” against gifted and talented education.

Sing out, Louise!

Does your child want to be a star? OK, maybe not a star, but an actor? Singer? Check out the Seattle Children Theatre’s classes. SCT holds auditions each year for upper-level drama classes. Students audition with a memorized one-minute monologue along with a résumé listing the student’s roles or classes from the past two to three years. Students may also be asked to do some reading, movement or improvisation at the audition. To schedule an audition appointment, call the SCT education office at 206-443-0807, ext. 1186.

Students entering fourth grade and older in the fall of 2013 can audition in March and April for summer season performance programs. Students entering 10th grade and higher in 2013 can audition for the Young Actor Institute. Email for information.

— Linda Morgan


She’s a leader

The Association of Fundraising Professionals honored six philanthropists in November, including 18-year-old Priyanka Jain, a graduate of University Prep in Seattle. Priyanka has been a leader for several organizations while also running her own nonprofit, iCareweCare, which provides an entry point for young people to participate in volunteering and fundraising.

Now a Stanford University freshman, Jain also helped fund and build a school for 1,200 girls in Afghanistan, served as a Teen Advisor to the United Nations’ Girl Up Campaign and was recognized as one of the Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs by SmartGirls Way. Jain speaks at conferences around the world.

IGNITE: girls + tech

Seattle Public Schools career and technical education counselor Cathi Rodgveller founded IGNITE (Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution), a program aimed at introducing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and role models into the lives of elementary-through high-school-age girls in Seattle schools.

Rodgveller was recognized for her accomplishments this fall in Baltimore, Md., with a Social Impact Award from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. The award honors those who have made a positive impact on the lives of women and society through technology.

IGNITE offers a multifaceted approach to STEM education and outreach by providing tool kits and curriculum that allow educators to replicate the Seattle Public Schools model. IGNITE also is working directly with educators in Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Libya, England and Egypt.

Watch your languages!

Child Care Resources of King County reports that kids benefit from exposure to more than one language. Learning additional languages can help children:
•    Develop problem-solving and listening skills
•    Have more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language and a better ear for listening
•    Understand that a child’s home language is part of his or her cultural heritage
•    Develop self-esteem and pride in their own backgrounds
•    Improve early literacy
•    Have better job opportunities in the growing global economy
•    Understand cultural differences
•    Communicate more freely throughout the world


Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska (RMHC) supports seriously ill children and their families. At the Seattle Ronald McDonald House, RMHC provides a “home away from home” to help families through a difficult time. The Seattle Ronald McDonald House opened in 1983 and depends on donations and volunteer support. The house accommodates the families of any seriously ill children who live at least 45 miles away while undergoing treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

We’re pleased to feature Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska as our December Giving Together partner. And you can help as well: For every ParentMap Honey purchase made, 5 percent of the profits will be donated directly to support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska’s mission of helping families in need. Visit each week to find an outstanding deal that is specifically tailored to families.


Study links IVF to birth defects

A new UCLA study finds that couples who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) as well as other forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) have an increased risk for having a baby with birth defects. Today, more than 1 percent of all infants born in the U.S. every year are conceived using ART, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers studied babies born between 2006 and 2007 in California, the state with the highest IVF rates in the U.S. The birth defects included problems with the eyes, heart, reproductive organs and the urinary system.

“Despite increasing use of IVF in the United States, associations between birth defects and IVF are poorly understood,” according to a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Beware! Flu season is back

Yep. It comes every year like clockwork. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes, diarrhea and vomiting. Seattle Children’s Hospital advises parents to call your child’s doctor if your child:
•    Is younger than 5 and has symptoms
•    Has fast breathing or trouble breathing
•    Shows signs of dehydration
•    Is unusually irritable and doesn’t want to be held
•    Has flu that has improved, but returns with fever and a worse cough
•    Has a fever with a rash
•    Has a fever that lasts more than five days
Call 911 if your child is not waking up, not interacting or has a hard time breathing and has bluish lips.

Pregnant? Get Tdap

All pregnant women should receive a dose of the Tdap vaccine, whether or not she has received the vaccine previously, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) committee on immunizations. “Tdap will also protect the mother at time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit pertussis to her infant,” the CDC states.

The recommendation is a change from the previous recommendation made by the CDC in 2011, which advised that Tdap be given during pregnancy only to women who have not previously received the vaccine. The current recommendation also says that women who don’t receive the vaccine during pregnancy should be vaccinated immediately after giving birth.

Younger kids labeled with ADHD

A recent study finds that the youngest children in a class are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than older children in the same class, and in some cases may not deserve the diagnosis. The study, conducted at the University of British Columbia, looked at ADHD diagnosis rates depending on whether children were born right before or after the school enrollment cutoff date, which in British Columbia, is Dec. 31.

The researchers found that children born in December were 39 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and 48 percent more likely to be receiving medication to treat it than children in the same class born in January.

According to the report, the gap in ages among students in the same grade creates what researchers call a “relative age effect,” in which younger children within an age group are at a disadvantage in academic and athletic activities. In this case, the researchers suggest that younger students within a grade may be diagnosed with ADHD because they are less mature.

While the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis and treatment is about three times higher in boys than in girls, the effect of relative age applied to both. For more information, go to and search for “ADHD children.”

Family dinnerNovember 2012

Family dinners: now more than ever

How important is it to have dinner together as a family? Very, according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). A new white paper recently released by the organization reports that teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week) are more likely have good relationships with their parents. What’s more, teens who have positive relationships with their moms and dads are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke, CASAColumbia reports.

Hooray for the Hands On Museum

Olympia’s new Hands On Museum, set to open on Nov. 11, features something for every interest and age group. New exhibits include an Arts & Parts Studio, with a Reggio Emilia–inspired station for self-exploration through touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing; a free-form area for messy play with clay, sand or water; an enhanced recycled art creation station; and artists in residence to lead projects. Other attractions include a construction gravel pit, a sand-digging area, climbing towers and rocks, a willow walk and gazebo, a rain garden, native landscaping and more.

Kaleidoscope kool

Taking care of young kids? You might want to check out Kaleidoscope Play & Learn, a program of Child Care Resources, the child care resource and referral agency in Seattle. The Kaleidoscope groups are organized play sessions for young kids and their caretakers — grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, parents, and other family members and friends. At Kaleidoscope Play & Learn, children and caregivers take part in play activities that support children’s early learning, meet new friends, and hear more about other early learning and family support programs in their neighborhood. Caregivers also learn more about child development and what they can do at home to help kids learn.

Groups, which are offered in a variety of languages, meet weekly all over King County in libraries, family centers, schools, community centers and other neighborhood locations.

Read early, read now

By now, we get how important literacy is to our kids’ success in school and their lifelong learning and earning potential. That’s why Gov. Christine Gregoire launched the new campaign “Read Early, Read Often” this fall. The campaign focuses on encouraging parents to read to their children at least 20 minutes a day. For reading ideas to try with children, visit the governor’s Read Early, Read Often Web page.

Family Health

Oh, those day-care germs!

Yes, we know kids spread yucky stuff around when they slurp, share, sniffle and scoot through the day at day care. But is there anything parents can do about it? WebMD says yes — and offers these tips for concerned caretakers. Ask your child-care center administrators or teachers these questions:

  • How often do employees wash hands?
    The best centers should require employees to wash their hands in between touching every child.
  • How clean are the toys?
    Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that every time a toy is placed in a child’s mouth, it should be set aside until it can be cleaned and disinfected.
  • What’s the policy on sick kids?
    A child should temporarily be kept out of day care for:
    ~ A fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by behavior change
       or other symptoms (sore throat, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.)
    ~ Diarrhea that can’t be contained in a diaper
    ~ Vomiting more than two times in a 24-hour period

Cheer fears and other dangers

Baseball or soccer? Basketball or ice hockey? When your child decides to join a team, does a red flag suddenly appear in your line of vision? These days, many parents have a lot to consider when their son or daughter decides to play a sport. Not only do these activities take time and a strong level of commitment from parents and kids, but many of these sports are downright dangerous. That’s why posted an article titled “Are Sports Safe?” which names the six riskiest sports for kids. They include football (didn’t we already know that?), ice hockey, soccer (especially girls’ soccer), gymnastics, lacrosse and — here’s one that might surprise you — cheerleading, which, according to Dr. Robert Cantu, neurosurgery professor at Boston University, could be the most dangerous of all.

Abuse injuries on the rise

A national study found that serious injuries from child abuse have risen over the past decade or so. The report suggests that downward trends in other studies of abuse may reflect reporting changes rather than real improvement. Hospitalization for abuse-related injury rose 4.9 percent overall among children 18 and younger over the 12-year span from 1997 through 2009, according to a Yale University study. Children were increasingly likely to die from these injuries while in the hospital as well.

Grant for Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Public Health — Seattle & King County and Healthy King County Coalition won a two-year, $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month. The grant will fund Seattle Children’s Hospital and its partners to work with youth, families and communities in South Seattle and South King County on obesity prevention and tobacco control, particularly among youth.


An article, “Discipline: Is Time Up for Time-Outs,” in ParentMap’s October issue misstated the organization Hand in Hand’s approach. The sentence should have read, “She found an organization in Palo Alto, CA called Hand in Hand that emphasizes connecting with kids over the behavior modification techniques of rewards and punishment,” not “through the behavior modification techniques of rewards and punishments.”


He’s a class act

Roosevelt High School theater director Ruben Van Kempen, who has trained many theater superstars, has achieved superstar status himself. In September, Van Kempen was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association’s Hall of Fame, at the organization’s conference in San Diego. In addition to garnering numerous awards over the years, Van Kempen has directed for Seattle Pacific University, Issaquah’s Village Theatre, Seattle Civic Light Opera and Western Washington University. As an actor, he has performed in regional theater, and as a backup vocalist, he has sung for Pat Boone, Debby Boone and Kathie Lee Gifford. His former students have appeared on Broadway in shows that include Memphis, Curtains, Never Gonna Dance, Chicago, Into the Woods, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Oklahoma, Life with Albertine, A Chorus Line, Good Vibrations and Lennon.

Get a jump on enrollment

Enrollment for the 2013–14 school year began in October for incoming kindergarten students and other families new to Seattle Public Schools. Early enrollment is offered through Jan. 31. The early enrollment plan allows families to avoid long lines during spring and summer enrollment periods. While early enrollment does not affect where a student is assigned to school (under the new student assignment plan, assignment is based on the student’s home address), it is offered as a convenience to families. For applications, go to or call 206-252-0760. Resources for families with incoming kindergartners can be found here.

Learn all about ‘executive function’

The Washington State Department of Early Learning has produced an online training module to help parents and educators understand and support the development of executive function skills. The module features six sections, including videos of kids, teachers and researchers. For example, the first section, titled “Essential Core Skills,” features a video clip of C. Cybele Raver, Ph.D., of the Institute of Human Development and Social Change, explaining the concept of “working memory.” View the module here. Adele Diamond, Ph.D., will talk about executive function at the Kirkland Performance Center April 30, 2013, at 7pm. Go to ParentMap Lectures for more information.

Giving Together

Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read is based on a simple and powerful model: At each well-child checkup from ages 6 months through 5 years, doctors and other medical providers give new books to children and encourage their parents to read aloud at home. In Washington State over the last 12 months Reach Out and Read medical professionals gave 131,262 books to kids as they offered individualized, developmentally and culturally appropriate advice and support to their parents and caregivers. When parents read aloud at home, children thrive. Research shows that Reach Out and Read helps promote children's language and literacy skills, and helps them be ready for kindergarten. To learn more, visit

We’re pleased to feature Reach Out and Read as our November Giving Together partner. For every ParentMap Honey purchase made, 5 percent of the profits will be donated directly to support Reach Out and Read’s mission.

— Linda Morgan

Nursery school kidsOctober 2012

A boost for Early Achievers
The Washington State Department of Early Learning is partnering with Child Care Aware of Washington (formerly the Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network) and the University of Washington to expand Early Achievers, Washington’s voluntary program for helping licensed child-care providers and other early learning programs offer high-quality care.

The program will include one-on-one coaching for child-care providers; quality improvement awards for attaining higher rating levels; professional development incentives and awards for training and education at Washington universities and colleges; and access to resource hubs. Visit to learn more about Early Achievers. Early Achievers is funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund and Washington’s Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant.

Fight those fears
How can parents help get their kids back into school routines? It’s not easy, says Liliana Lengua, Ph.D., University of Washington psychology professor. “As kids adjust to the new schedule, they can come home irritable,” she says. Many young kids get stressed after those first few weeks. Figuring out the reasons for their anxiety helps, she says.

If children are worried about making connections with friends, arrange some get-togethers with some of the kids in the class. And if a child is anxious about interacting with the new teacher, set up a visit with him or her early in the year.

It’s important that kids are rested and get enough sleep, according to Clayton Cook, Ph.D., University of Washington assistant professor of educational psychology. “Getting enough rest improves memory, mood and motivation — all key elements for learning.”

Look before leaving
Don’t be fooled by the cooling September temperatures. Even without the sticky summer heat, kids left inside cars can be severely injured or die. On average, 38 children in the U.S. die in hot cars each year.

According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, it takes only 10 minutes for the inside of a car to skyrocket by 20 degrees. On an 80-degree day, the inside of a car can reach 123 degrees in an hour.

“Children’s bodies are not able to regulate and cool as well as adults’. It can take as little as 15 minutes in a hot car for a child to begin to suffer life-threatening effects,” says Dr. Tony Woodward, chief of emergency services at Seattle Children’s. “When a child’s body temperature reaches 106 degrees, internal organs such as the brain or kidney begin to shut down.”

Tips from Seattle Children’s:
•    Never leave a child in an unattended car, even for a minute.
•    Don’t leave a child in the car, even with the windows down or cracked open.
•    Be sure that all passengers leave the car when you reach your destination.
•    Learn to check the back seat. Make it one of those things you do without thinking.
•    Never leave a sleeping baby in the car.
•    Always lock your car. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk.
•    Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat when not in use. When you put your child in the car seat, put the stuffed animal on the front seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
•    If you find a child locked in a car, call 911 immediately.

What’s going on here?
According to a recent report, children in Washington state are slipping in key areas of well-being. The report, called the “2012 Kids Count Data Book,” was compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and measures kids’ well-being in four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Compared to other states, Washington, which ranks 18 overall, has slipped in the rankings on 11 out of 16 categories.

Here are some key findings:
•    65,000 more kids in Washington are living in poverty today compared to before the recession.
•    Washington ranks as the 40th worst state in the country for kids living in households with high housing costs.
•    Young children (ages 3 and 4) in Washington are much less likely to be enrolled in preschool.
•    Washington kids have significantly dropped in the rankings on math and reading test scores, and in graduation rates compared to other states.
•    Health insurance coverage among children has improved dramatically in Washington, with more kids insured today compared to before the recession.
—Linda Morgan

Giving together: Hopelink

Since 1971, Hopelink has served homeless and low-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Hopelink’s mission is to promote self-sufficiency for all members of the community and to help people make lasting change.

Hopelink provides a range of critical services and training, including adult literacy, employment development skills, emergency shelter and transitional housing, food banks, interpreter services, transportation, emergency financial assistance and energy assistance. Hopelink emergency service centers are located in Bellevue, Kirkland/Northshore, Redmond, Shoreline and Carnation (Sno-Valley).

Hopelink is funded by diverse sources, including public and private foundations, United Way, government support, and by donations from individuals, organizations and corporations in the community. With administrative costs at only 8 percent of the budget, a full 92 percent of financial support goes directly to helping families in crisis and preventing homelessness.

We’re pleased to feature Hopelink as our October Giving Together partner. And you can help as well: For every ParentMap Honey purchase made, 5 percent of the profits will be donated directly to support Hopelink’s mission of helping families in need. Visit Honey each week to find an outstanding deal that is specifically tailored for families.


Bellevue schools score
Bellevue schools’ new superintendent, J. Tim Mills, is already ahead of the game, at least when it comes to national rankings. All five high schools in the Bellevue School District finished among the top 100 schools in the nation on the Washington Post Challenge Index, a nationally recognized ranking of how well schools prepare students for college.

The International School was the highest-ranking Bellevue school on the list of 1,900 public high schools nationwide, coming in at no. 40. Interlake High School, Newport High School, Bellevue High School and Sammamish High School also scored in the top 100. Bellevue schools also claimed the top five spots in Washington state in the same rankings.

Racing for grants
Seven school districts in King County will compete for as much as $40 million in Race to the Top grant money. The superintendents of Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila school districts will work together to complete the grant application. This is the first time the federal Race to the Top competition has been open to districts; previously, the grants had only been offered to states. Award recipients will be announced in December.

The seven districts work together as part of the Road Map Project, an effort to improve education. The project’s goal is to double the number of students in South Seattle and south King County who earn college degrees or career credentials.

New diversity head at Bellevue College
Bellevue College has appointed Yoshiko Harden as its new vice president for diversity. Harden will lead efforts to promote equity and pluralism on campus by developing programs and providing guidance to campus leaders.

The college is also increasing its outreach efforts to minority students and recently hosted an event called Latino Family Night, which introduced the idea of college to many young Latino students and their families. A similar event will be held in the fall for African-American and other black students.

Title I preschools opening in Tacoma
Tacoma Public Schools will open five free Title I half-day preschools in September in Tacoma’s neediest neighborhoods, at Arlington, Boze, Mann, Stafford and Stanley elementary schools. Title I preschool programs are funded through federal and state funds. The literacy- and technology-rich Title I preschool classes are designed help these preschoolers become academically and socially ready to succeed in kindergarten. The Title I preschool program aims to reduce the gap between low-income and high-income children’s rates of kindergarten readiness. Each of the new Title I preschools will fill its morning and afternoon sessions with a maximum of 18 students per session.

STEM grants for Highline
Four Highline public schools will be part of a project this school year aimed at improving instruction in science and math. The project will be led by the University of Washington and funded by a grant of $460,000 over two years from Washington STEM, a statewide non­profit dedicated to improving education in science, technology, engineering and math. Three Renton schools are also taking part in the project.

Schools participating include Cascade Middle School and Health Sciences and Human Services High School (HS3), Arts and Academics Academy (AAA), and Technology Engineering and Communications High School (TEC).

Gril frustrated with homework

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