Teachers, we thank you!
What would have happened if Oscar award-winning actress Hilary Swank had not been chosen to star in her school production of The Jungle Book by Mr. Eric Sellereit, teacher at Happy Valley Elementary in Bellingham, Wash.? What would have happened to you if your favorite teacher hadn’t nudged you to shine?
That’s why we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6–10. Check in with your school, PTA or room parent to find out what the appreciation protocol is in your child’s classroom.
National Teacher Day is May 7. Send your child’s teacher messages of appreciation on Twitter and Facebook with the #thankateacher hashtag to help the National Education Association track the love! Go here for more information.
Wander into the trees or explore the wetlands and learn together as you go at the Washington Park Arboretum. Make it a family learning experience with the Family Adventure Packs, which you can rent for $7 for two hours. Packs contain maps, nature guides, magnifying lenses, scavenger hunts and activity ideas for kids grades K–6.
Call ahead to reserve a Family Adventure Pack at 206-543-8801 or drop by the Graham Visitors Center.
Walk, don’t ride
Want to build community and get in a little exercise before the first bell rings? Try out a “walking school bus” with a few families in your neighborhood.
Walking school buses are just walking groups for kids supervised by rotating adults. It’s a great way to keep kids safe and get some wiggles out before school. Set up your group, plan your route, and schedule it with the other parents and caregivers. For inspiration, go to Safe Routes.
Hear Gottman on love, Schwartz on intimacy
ParentMap is presenting three very special events this month. First, John Gottman, Ph.D., will talk about “Making Love Last and Marriage Work” on Tuesday, May 7, 7–9 p.m. at Town Hall in Seattle. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Then, author and psychologist Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., will share her secrets for post-baby passion and intimacy at two BabyMap events, the first on Wednesday, May 15, 5:30–8 p.m., at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, and the second on Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., at Bellevue College. In addition to hearing Schwartz speak, learn CPR basics, try out cool new baby gear and get essential advice on everything from bump to bundle. Tickets are $15, $20 for two. Go to BabyMap Events for more information.
Tired of having lead in your lipstick? Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) have introduced a new piece of cosmetics legislation, The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013, which proposes to change industry standards, close loopholes and hopefully get the harmful chemicals out of our makeup kits. For details, go to Breast Cancer Fund and search for “making cosmetics safe.”
—Linda Morgan and Annie Fanning
Online courses new for UW
The University of Washington (UW) recently announced it will offer a new online early childhood and family studies degree program beginning next fall. Students will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree through this program, the first of its kind at the UW.
“There’s a substantial need for affordable, flexible degree completion programs in the early education field,” says Gail Joseph, a UW assistant professor of educational psychology who helped design the degree.
The idea is that the program will offer practicing professionals a low-cost, convenient way to fulfill federal and state requirements for bachelor’s degrees. It is also intended to prepare students to work in child care, preschools, and social and mental health services.
The UW online degree costs $160 per credit — which adds up to approximately $7,000 for a year of full-time study. Go here for more info.
Washington schools under scrutiny
The U.S. Department of Education has five civil rights reviews under way in three school districts in Washington state. According to The Seattle Times, Seattle Public Schools is being scrutinized by the federal government for whether it disciplines black students more often and more severely than white students, and for how its English-learning students are being served.
English-language learning in the Lake Washington School District is also under review, as are the Yakima School District’s anti-harassment policies and practices. The feds have also opened a statewide review of gender issues in athletics.
Advocating for kids with special needs
The Bellevue Special Needs PTA (BSNPTA), an organization that represents parents and teachers in public, private and home schools in Bellevue, advocates for children with special needs.
The BSNPTA mission includes making sure every student is able to reach their full potential; connecting parents, educators and administrators in order to increase understanding and awareness of special needs issues; and educate parents and others in the community so that parents have the support and resources they need to advocate for students with special needs.
The BSNPTA sponsors speakers and trainings to help parents understand the issues surrounding kids with special needs. Additional information is available on the organization’s website.
Source: Eastside Pathways.
The Boys & Girls Clubs provide kids with a safe place to learn, develop and connect with caring adults. The clubs are open after school and during the summer. Staffs, along with volunteers, offer programs that are developed and tested nationally by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Boys & Girls Clubs Washington State Association, a collaboration of 19 independent member organizations, provides a unified voice for all Washington state clubs.
We’re pleased to have Boys & Girls Clubs Washington State Association as our May 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 the Boys & Girls Clubs mission of helping all young people realize their potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Visit ParentMap Honey each week to find an outstanding deal that is specifically tailored to families.
Young athletes: Warm up, cool down!
Is your son vying for a spot on the tennis team? Your daughter embarking on a routine of softball practice? Before your child or teen goes out for spring sports this year, check out these tips for kids from the orthopedics and sports medicine team at Seattle Children’s Hospital:
1. Get plenty of sleep.
2. Avoid skipping meals.
3. Have a pre-practice/pre-game snack and refuel afterwards.
4. Stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather.
5. Complete a proper warm-up and cool-down with stretching.
6. Listen to your body and know when to stop.
7. Stay conditioned throughout the year. Too much, too fast can lead to an injury.
8. See a health care provider if you have early signs of an injury.
9. Have fun! If sports become a source of frustration, stress or injury, it may be time to take a break or explore a different activity.
Introducing solids: Are you listening?
These days, pediatricians advise parents to hold off on introducing solid foods to their baby until he or she is 4 to 6 months old.
It turns out many (many!) moms aren’t listening. According to a study in the April 2013 issue of Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of mothers introduce solid foods to their babies before the infants are 4 months old. The reasons? Some moms just figured their babies were “old enough,” others thought their infants were hungry, and some said, “It would help my baby sleep longer at night.” The article says mothers who introduced solid food earlier than recommended were more likely to be younger, unmarried and have a lower level of education.
Many experts don’t recommend early introduction of solid foods because it may increase the risk of some chronic diseases and discourage continued breastfeeding.
ADHD overdiagnosed, overmedicated
According to new data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 percent of school-age children in the U.S. have been medically diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Because roughly two-thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall, many doctors and parents are concerned that the ADHD diagnosis and its medication are overused in this country, as reported recently in The New York Times. To dig deeper into this report, sift through the source data collected by the CDC.