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Seven Ways to Prepare for Middle and High School Transitions

POSTED ON August 10th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig Post chalkbeat.org | Re-Post Sports World 8/10/15

kids studying 360 wide

Q: What can I do to help my children make the transition to middle school and high school?
Whether it’s sixth grade or ninth, graduating to a new school level usually means bigger school buildings, larger student bodies, more choices and more freedom. Along with excitement, students can feel anxiety, frustration and isolation. We spoke with several veteran middle and high school educators who gave us the following advice for how parents can help their children make a smooth transition.

1. Logistics are the hardest part
Let’s start with middle school, where students’ first hurdles are logistical — needing to remember a locker combination, learning the building layout and getting to class on time.
“It’s all those little things that at their stage of development become everything to them,” said Sandra Bickel, principal of Webber Middle School in the Poudre School District.
One safeguard is early exposure. Jessica Fiedler, principal of Westlake Middle Schools in Adams 12, urged parents to make sure their kids visit their future middle school as fifth-graders and attend any orientation or kick-off activities prior to the start of school. This and a variety of other suggestions are contained in the district’s 11-page “Middle School Transition Guide“.

2. Let them handle challenges on their own
Both Fiedler and Bickel emphasized the importance of giving children the space to handle challenges on their own. That could mean letting them fiddle with their combination lock without stepping in to help. Or, if they come home with a complaint about an assignment or class, pushing them to problem solve for themselves.
Instead of stepping in with a solution, Fiedler said, parents might ask, “Have you spoken with your teacher?”
Bickel said homework is another area where parents should show support but not take over. She said parents can help by focusing their praise not on talent or natural ability, but the hard work their child is doing.
“Praise the effort,” she said. “Parents can let their kids struggle through some of that and not enable [them].”

3. Don’t end your involvement; change it
Parent involvement is still important as children grow older — the form just needs to change, middle school educators said. Classroom volunteering is usually not appropriate after middle school, they said, but parents can show interest by having dinner with their children, asking about their day and monitoring their phone use and social media presence.
“If parents just wash their hands of it and give them free reign…it can be very damaging to kids,” said Bickel. Sixth-graders “want to be treated more like young adults…but they’re not.”
Jen Holm, a counselor at Webber, noted that extracurricular activities, whether at school or in the community, are also very important to students’ success. She said while parents should let their children pick activities themselves, she suggested parents say, “You need to be involved in something every quarter of the year.”

4. In high school, establish routines
When it comes to the high school transition, “the absolute number one thing that’s different is the amount of freedom,” said Pam Smiley, principal of Horizon High School in Adams 12.
Students have to adjust to not being part of “teams” as they might have been in middle school, having a broader spectrum of peers and a wider range of movement within the school building. In addition, she said, “The rigor amps up a little bit. The amount of work amps up a little bit.”
For some students, the demands of high school can bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation, she said.
She said parents can help their new high-schoolers by setting up after-school routines at home to ensure homework gets done at and students stay organized.

5. Monitor progress
Smiley also recommends that parents monitor their students’ grades and attendance if the school offers some type of online parent portal showing students’ progress. One system used at some Colorado schools is called Infinite Campus.
If parents see poor grades or attendance, it may be a sign that the student is wasting study time, battling disorganization or struggling in some other way. Smiley also suggested that parents push their students to monitor their own progress on Infinite Campus or whatever system their school uses.

6. Keep track of friends
At both middle and high school, educators recommend that parents keep track of their child’s friends. Smiley said parents should be wary if their ninth-grader starts hanging out with 11th– or 12th graders, whether in a romantic relationship or a platonic friendship.
“It’s usually never a good thing,” she said, noting that older students sometimes take advantage of the younger ones.

7. Red flags to watch for
At the middle school level, Bickel and Fiedler said red flags that may indicate the transition isn’t going well include students complaining of headaches, stomach aches, sleeplessness or simply not wanting to go to school.
“That’s definitely a time when parents need to say, ‘What’s going on?’” said Fiedler.
Smiley recommended parents not only watch for any out-of-character behavior, but also any mismatches between how students say things are going and what their grades or other indicators suggest.

Resources To Help Your Child Have A Great School Year

POSTED ON July 29th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig Post U.S. Dept of Education | Re-Post Sports World 7/29/15


Here’s a month-by-month guide filled with the advice, tools, and online resources you’ll need to help your children have a school year packed with fun and learning.

40 ways to help your kids learn more!

What’s inside:
More Resources
Printable Guide (PDF, 3.5MB)
Talking with your child’s teacher / Homework helpers Easy ways to get involved at school / Fun family activities

The start of school is the most exciting time of the year for students!

They want to meet their teachers, catch up with their friends, and begin exploring a whole new world of knowledge. As exciting as these first weeks of school are, your children can’t do this on their own. They need your help to get ready—now and every day. You need to read aloud to young children to reinforce the importance of literacy. You have to be ready to help them when they’re stuck on homework. You should make sure they have a nutritious lunch every day. You need to build relationships with their teachers so you’re all working together to provide your children the best learning experience possible. Helping your children with school is one of your most important jobs as a parent. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education, National PTA, and Parenting have teamed up to bring you Countdown to School Success. This booklet takes you step-by-step through the typical school-year calendar, explaining how you can help your children at home, support them in the classroom, and assist their teachers as they address each of your children’s unique abilities. We hope your whole family enjoys following this road map to the exciting year ahead.

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education

Betsy Landers
National PTA President

Ana Connery
Parenting Editorial Director

Reach out to your kids’teachers Attend meet-theteacher night, orientation, or other welcome events, but don’t stop there. Make a point of introducing yourself and learning about class activities and expectations for the year. Find out how each teacher prefers to communicate.

Many use e-mail as the main form of contact, but phone calls and conferences (make an appointment first) are usually welcome, too. For more advice on building a parent-teacher relationship that will last the entire year, as well as links to all the websites featured in this guide, go to parenting.com/success.

Get in the groove Establish healthy at-home routines for school days, such as consistent waking times and getting-ready patterns. Decide on a regular homework time, and create a comfortable, quiet work space. Set bedtimes that allow elementary-age kids to get 10 to 12 hours of sleep; teens should get 8½ to 9½ hours.

Time things right Stay on top of everyone’s school, activity, and work schedules with a free online calendar or a smartphone app.

Pack smart Make sure your child’s backpack never weighs more than 10 to 20 percent of his body weight; heavy packs can strain developing muscles and joints. Encourage your child to use both straps, and tighten them so the pack hangs close to the body, about two inches above your child’s waist.

Commit to volunteering With help from parents like you, your school can offer many more programs and services for your kids. Join your school’s PTA and ask about volunteer opportunities in the school community and your children’s classrooms. National PTA’s “Three for Me” campaign encourages parents to pledge to volunteer at least three hours during the school year. Go to three4me.com for more information.

Fuel up Children who eat a healthy breakfast each day have more energy available for learning. Try simple, protein-loaded options like homemade scrambled-egg-and-cheese breakfast burritos, waffles smeared with nut butter, or yogurt-and-fruit smoothies.

Become a class parent You’ll develop a closer relationship with the teacher and will get an inside look into what goes on in the classroom, usually without having to commit a ton of time. Class parents organize other parent volunteers for parties and events, may help the teacher create a newsletter, or might document the school year in photos. Ask the teacher what his or her specific needs will likely be this year.

Connect with your kids’ teachers Many schools schedule parent-teacher conferences in October and November. Attending this meeting should be a priority for all parents and guardians. This is your chance to see how things are going with your children and to partner with their teachers on improving performance. Ask: “What could we be doing at home to practice what they’re learning?” National PTA has created gradeby-grade Parent Guides that can be a resource for what to discuss at conferences. Find out more at pta.org/parentsguide.

Seek extra help Does it seem your child is going to have trouble keeping up? Ask the teacher about school-provided tutoring programs and resources to help reinforce his or her learning outside of class. Many also offer extra help during office hours before or after school.

Review that report card Pay careful attention to all progress reports, but particularly the first one—it will be coming soon if your child hasn’t received it yet. You want to get help for any problem areas before your child falls too far behind. Ask your child’s teacher how grades are determined and for suggestions on how your student can improve. Review grades and the teacher’s comments with your child—always starting with something she’s doing well, then pointing out areas that need attention, and ending with something positive again.

Encourage creativity Urge your children to enter the National PTA Reflections arts contest. They can submit works of art in six categories: visual arts (such as painting, drawing, or collage), literature, musical composition, photography, film production, and dance choreography. This year’s theme is “Diversity Means…” Contact your local PTA for additional details or go to pta.org.

Make over your meals November is National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Month, so think carefully about what your kids are eating at home and in school. Ask your school lunch director for nutritional information if it isn’t available. Work with your PTA and school district to improve the menu if necessary. For more healthy eating and lunch-packing tips, go to pta.org/goodchoices and choosemyplate.gov/kids.

Be a good citizen Your child will be learning about the importance of voting and how elections work, and she’ll be thrilled to go with you when you cast your ballot on November 8. Go to free.ed.gov to learn more about how government works.

Give thanks This month’s Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time to talk with your children about all the freedoms the United States has to offer its citizens. Help your children explore what life was like here during the first Thanksgiving at the Library of Congress website: loc.gov/families.

Get ready for flu season Amp up the reminders about washing hands frequently—particularly when kids get home from school, sports, and other activities. Pay attention to school websites and newsletters for alerts about flu or other illness outbreaks. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov) for up-to-date information and the latest prevention advice. And be sure your family gets flu shots.

Help end bullying Take the time to talk with your children about any bullying behavior they may have seen going on at school. Before you begin the conversation, go to pta.org/bullying and stopbullying.gov to learn what you can do as a parent to instill an attitude of acceptance in your children and get help with bullying behavior if your family needs it.

Remember the teacher A simple holiday token is nice if you can swing it. Teachers particularly appreciate cards from their students, and gift cards for their favorite book, crafts, or office-supply stores. Teachers often replenish classroom supplies out of their own pay, so gift cards help cut the cost.

Practice cyber safety If your children will be spending more time online during the winter break, or if they get a new laptop or smartphone as a gift, be sure to review family rules and online behavior.

Make a winter-weather plan Have an advance plan for snow days or sick days. Can another family member or neighbor care for your kids while you work? Make sure you have a safety kit in case of power outages; have your children help assemble it so they get a lesson in emergency preparation, too. Get more tips at ready.gov.

Be a meteorologist Winter months are a great time to introduce budding minds to the science behind weather patterns and how to predict them. You’ll find plenty of weather resources for kids in the “ Earth Sciences” section of free.ed.gov.

Dream big Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 16 by encouraging your kids to complete the sentence “I have a dream that…,” and then e-mail, tweet, or post on Facebook their own hopes for the future.

Connect with other families National PTA’s Take Your Family to School Week is February 12 to 18. Help out at events such as family reading night, parenting workshops, or educational family activities. National PTA offers grants to help fund especially deserving school programs. Help your school apply for next year at pta.org/familytoschool.

Celebrate African American History Month Your school, local museums, and libraries will have special events. You and your children can also go to africanamerican historymonth.gov for online exhibits and activities.

Honor Presidents’ Day Search online for activities you can do with your kids, such as matching presidential portraits with their names or doing word searches about them. Older students will enjoy learning about the four presidents carved into Mount Rushmore at nps.gov/moru.

Schedule a midyear checkin with the teacher Discuss your children’s progress and how homework is going. And always reach out to teachers when important changes are happening in your family’s life, such as the death of a relative, a move to a new home, or anything that might affect your children’s behavior or performance at school—so the school staff can offer support as well.

Get ready for test day Many schools will begin standardized testing this month or next. Make a note of the schedule on your family calendar so you can be sure your children get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast on test days.

Read some more National Read Across America Day is March 2. Take time at home to read aloud on this day with your kids, and have them take turns reading to you. Encourage older children to read on their own and to their younger siblings. Anything that interests them—from comic books to the classics—counts! And if you haven’t taken the pledge to have your kids read at least 20 minutes a day, go to parenting.com/pledge and make the promise now!

Get art smart Exposure to art and music can help your children excel in math, problem solving, and reading, and help them develop teamwork skills and self-esteem. Check out the resources on free.ed.gov, and then do your part at home. Replenish your arts-andcrafts supplies. Let your kids experiment with inexpensive music-makers like a harmonica, a recorder, or an old guitar. Check out child-friendly music CDs and art books from your library. Urge older siblings to join their school’s choir, band, or drama program.

Plant a school garden Kids learn firsthand about weather, plant life cycles, and nutrition when they help grow their own garden. Get started at schoolgardenwizard.org.

Get schooled in math April is Math Awareness Month. Ask your children’s teachers for suggestions on math games and online activities. Another resource: Check out the website of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: nctm.org/resources/families.aspx.

Go a little greener Commemorate Earth Day on April 22 by planning an activity for your entire family, such as joining a local park’s litter-cleanup team or planting a tree on your block. Check out your school-district website to see what they have on tap for students and their families.

Share your career Lots of parents and kids will participate in Take Your Child to Work Day on April 26, but why not teach your child’s entire class about your job? Offer to visit and talk about your career, and encourage other parents in the class to do the same.

Thank your school staff These overlooked helpers are often the ones who keep things working smoothly for your children, so take time to recognize school office staff during the week of April 22 to 28, which is Administrative Professionals Week. Join with other parents to give a gift card or flowers, or have your kids make a card of their own.

Get a move on It’s National Physical Fitness & Sports Month, and your child may soon be taking the annual President’s Challenge physical fitness test as part of gym class. Prep your child for it—as well as your school’s field day, a favorite spring event with kids everywhere—with some family recreation activities. Take walks after dinner, go on a weekend bike ride, or have chin-up contests on the monkey bars at a nearby playground. For more fitness ideas, check out letsmove.gov, fitness.gov, and presidentschallenge.org.

Keep kids safe The weather has warmed up and school’s almost out for the summer, which means kids will be spending more time outdoors on their own. Give them a refresher course in safety whether they’re bike riding, swimming, or playing indoors on game systems. For more tips, go to pta.org and click on “Topics: Child Safety.”

Give props to your children’s teachers As the school year winds down, encourage your children to write thank-you notes to their current teachers. Prompt younger kids with suggestions like “Something new I learned this year was…”or “My favorite part of this school year was….” Work with your PTA to bring in coffee, baked goods, or lunch items during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 7 to 11.

Challenge your children to a readathon See who can read the most books this summer, with each one slightly more challenging than the last. Make it happen by setting a designated family reading time, when the whole gang curls up with a good book, parents included.

Minimize summer brain drain Look for fun ways to keep your children’s academic skills sharp during the warm weather ahead. Consider signing them up for camps, and visit nature centers, museums, and libraries as a family.

Back to School: 12 Things Parents, Kids Should Do Before Summer Ends

POSTED ON July 14th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post August 1, 2014 by Carmen Chai, Global News | Re-Post July 14, 2015

activeFor your kids, July may have been jam-packed with ice cream cones, pool parties and trips to the zoo. The dog days of summer are winding down and soon, they’ll be swapping their swimming suits for pencils, binders and books.

To mark the final month before school starts, Global News asked a handful of researchers and experts to share their favourite ways for families to spend the month.

Here are their 12 suggestions on what parents should encourage their kids to do before summer ends.

Spend time in nature:  This was, by far, the most popular piece of advice doled out by the half-dozen experts we asked. “Just looking at a natural scene activates parts of the brain associated with stress relief and happiness,” Dr. Shimi Kang, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist and parenting author, told Global News.

Kang refers to a 2010 study: being in nature increases your sense of vitality, positivity and energy, the study found. Being outdoors also encourages kids to climb, jump, run and tumble, promoting muscle fitness and flexibility.

Parenting author Ann Douglas recommends heading to a conservation area, a friend’s cottage or even the neighbourhood park. It’ll help your kids – and you — relax and unwind.

Spend a night under the stars: Camping is expensive, and not all families can afford bikes or enjoy the outdoors. Instead, grab a picnic blanket and, at night, sit under the dark sky to look at the stars.

“Everyone needs that moment of awe when we see the grandeur of the universe – our place in it – the miracle of it all,” parenting author Alyson Schafer told Global News.

Download an app on your phone and document Big Dipper, the Milky Way and learn some summer constellations.

Share a book that you loved as a child: If you had a favourite you couldn’t put down as a kid, grab a copy and give it to your kids, Douglas said. Read it together and talk about why you’ve always loved this book.

“You’ll be helping your child to develop a love of reading and you’ll be creating – or continuing – a tradition in which much-loved stories are passed from one person to another in your family,” she said.

Douglas recalls her grandma reading to her in the summer when she was just nine years old. She had eye surgery and couldn’t read on her own so her grandma made it a priority to head over a few times each week as she recovered.

Take a break from technology…: That could mean a day at the beach, going for a hike, or taking a bike ride, according to Dr. Nicole Letourneau, a University of Calgary professor.

Instead of checking your work emails in their company or handing them iPads, break out the board games, play with a Frisbee or try some water sports.

“Just be together, be curious about your kids. What interests them and why? Ask them and listen to their answers intently. They will feel valued and valuable,” Letourneau said. She’s an author and current Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation research chair in parent-infant mental health.

…but embrace technology with your kids for an afternoon: While it may sound contradictory, Letourneau’s next tip was to take time with your kids while they play with their Nintendo DS, smart phone or iPad.

Play the game they’re playing. Even feel free to struggle with the game and ask them for help – Letourneau says that’s a huge confidence booster, to boot.

Then get to know their social media habits more: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, certain apps or games. “Listening shows that you value their perspective,” Letourneau said.

Visit family out of town: Not only does this offer your kids a change of scenery for a day or even a weekend, but it lets your kids know just how wide their network of loved ones is.

“Children thrive when they know that a lot of different people care about them,” Douglas said.

One of her most coveted childhood memories is getting together with aunts, uncles and cousins for family birthdays. “It gave me a strong sense of family and feeling safe and loved.”

It also shows your kids the idea of family. Going out of your way to make time for your relatives is a lesson that’ll stick with them for a lifetime, Letourneau says.

“Even families that struggle to get together can show kids the importance of trying under difficult circumstances,” Letourneau said.

(And if they aren’t out of town, make sure your kids are visiting relatives anyway. It’s a great opportunity for positive role models doling out the guidance, mentoring and interaction with people from different age groups, Kang said. “Summer is a time for kids to break out of these confines and spend time with [people] who may not be part of their routine academic life.”)

Earn some cash: Your kids can take to helping your neighbours with gardening, cutting the grass or showcasing their entrepreneurial skills by opening a lemonade stand.

Kang’s kids opened a lemonade stand and earned $2 on their first day. The second time around, they rethought their business strategy – the stand was named, added eye-catching artwork and moved to the corner of the street.

With those tweaks, they were bringing in $40 a day. “Summer is a great time for kids to practice their early business and finance skills,” Kang said.

Be a kid: Between summer camp, slumber parties and other activities, your kids could need a break. Let them take the reins for a day.

“Too many parents try to fill up every moment of every day for their kids, so sometimes it’s important for parents to back off a bit and let the kids do what they want or make up their own plans – even if it’s nothing at all,” according to Dr. Oren Amitay, a registered psychologist and Ryerson University instructor.

If they want to run through the sprinklers, build a fort or break out the arts and crafts, let them. Keep in mind, summer is a time for the kids to rest and recharge their batteries.

Get some culture: Sure, your kids go on field trips during the school year but spend a day at the museum, the art gallery or even watching some classic movies.

If you’ve moved to a new province, get to know the ethnic make-up and try local cuisines, Amitay suggests.

“Depending on the cultural make-up of the school the child is going to, maybe the parents could take their child to a cultural centre or some other type of place where the child can learn more about some of the people at school,” Amitay said.

Get the schedule back on track: Your kids may have blown their curfews, ate cake for breakfast or spent the day in their pajamas. That won’t fly come September.

Dr. Linda Pagani, a psychologist at St. Justine Hospital in Montreal, suggests that in the final week before school, families can coordinate their schedules.

There’s breakfast, lunch and dinner, or your kids may need a ride to school or soccer practice. Sleep schedules may also need a reboot, she said.

Scope out the new school: If your kids are starting kindergarten, graduating into junior high or starting high school, parents can try to make a fun day of checking out their new surroundings, Amitay suggests.

You may not be able to explore the indoors, but scope out the neighbourhood so your kids gain some familiarity going into their first day. Then head out for lunch or dinner and get a pulse on how your child is feeling.

“If the child has any anxiety about this transition, they can ease it a bit through getting to see the place and having fun before, during and afterward,” Amitay said.

Plan for the fall: It’s hard to give up the summertime, but Schafer suggests that taking the final days of the season to help your kids adjust with the transition ahead.

“Think about the fall and take the pressure off the back-to-school chores,” she suggested. Now’s a good time to start picking out new clothes, loading up on school supplies and grabbing a new backpack or combination lock.

If you have teens, use this holiday time to set the guidelines on a clothing allowance and start shopping early, Schafer suggests. It’ll change the experience from a “pressure point to a pleasurable bonding experience.”

Tips to Keep Kids and Teens Safe this Fourth of July

POSTED ON June 26th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post June 27, 2013 by Megan Rucker, Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation | Re-Post June 26, 2015

Fireworks-safety-300x225The Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration; however, families should follow precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable occasion. Not only do parents need to worry about firework safety, but families should also keep in mind alcohol and sun safety, too.

Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recommends some basic safety tips to keep your kids out of the emergency department this year.

Stay safe around fireworks

First and foremost: The main event on July Fourth is fireworks. Even though they are fun and exciting, they can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken around kids. The best way to avoid injury is to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and attend public fireworks displays. But if you plan to use fireworks at home, Woodward has some suggestions to keep your kids safe.

Children should never be allowed to use fireworks, including the popular sparklers. Woodward says the majority of firework-related injuries to children under the age of 5 are caused by sparklers. “We often see kids with preventable burns and injuries from sparklers,” he says. Sparklers burn at a very high temperature, up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

Those that are setting off the fireworks should also be sure to wear eye protection. Another important tip is to only light fireworks on level ground. “At least 50 percent of kids that we see are not the people who are setting off the fireworks, but the bystanders,” Woodward says. Anticipate the consequences and provide adequate supervision to minimize any chance of injury. Never re-light a firework that has not exploded. If the firework appears to be a dud, be sure to pour water on it before picking it up.

If a child is injured by fireworks, Woodward says, “Remove them from the area and stop the burning. If it is serious, you are unsure or it involves the face, eyes or hands, the child should be seen by a medical professional.”

Avoid heat illness

Don’t forget that July can have particularly hot weather, says Woodward. During a long day in the sun, he recommends that parents be on the lookout for symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Kids can become very ill if proper safety measures are not taken. Woodward recommends that parents make sure kids drink plenty of fluids and wear lightweight, loose clothing. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, usually the afternoon.

If your child is experiencing heat cramps, be aware that they can be painful, says Woodward. Stop activity, take a break and encourage your child to drink small amounts of water. In serious cases, heat cramps can lead to heat exhaustion, with symptoms such as pale skin, headache, dizziness, exhaustion and nausea.

The third and most dangerous stage of heat illness is heat stroke. Parents should be alert to symptoms such as vomiting, decreased alertness or loss of consciousness, extremely high body temperature, rapid or weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Heat stroke can be life threatening, so be prepared to call 9-1-1 if symptoms worsen.

Talk to your teen about drunk driving dangers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year. Many teens find themselves in dangerous driving situations during July Fourth celebrations, especially when alcohol is involved.

Research has shown that nearly 80% of high school kids have tried alcohol. In a Teenology 101 blog post, Dr. Yolanda Evans, with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine division, offers tips for parents of teens to help keep them safe during summer celebrations. Evans recommends parents keep an open line of communication with their teens, as well as the parents of their teens’ friends. She also encourages a “free phone call” policy so teens know they can call any time of night if they need a ride home. Visit Teenology 101 for more tips on talking to teens about alcohol and drugs.


10 Ways To Be A Role Model To Your Children

POSTED ON June 17th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post by All Pro Dad | Re-Post June 17, 2015

12075-dad-son-talk-teen.1200w.tnFormer Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is the fourth out of the state’s past eight governors to be indicted on corruption charges. It’s not a legacy Abraham Lincoln would have wanted his state to have. But the problem is bigger than modern-day Illinois politicians. It seems that character is in short-supply all over America. Whether it’s athletes, politicians, actors, businessmen, coaches or even clergy, it seems our kids have slim pickings when it comes to role models.

But there’s good news. The most powerful role model for children sits across from them at the dinner table. It’s you. Here are 10 ways to be a role model to your children:

1. Healthy Living

When we eat properly and exercise regularly, not only does it improve our own lives, but it sets the example for our children as well. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in American society, which can lead to depression and disease. This is not to say a parent needs to go overboard, but every reputable expert will always tell you that moderation is the key in diet as well as exercise. Keep yourself inside the healthy range for where you are in life.

2. Self-Improvement

Apply whatever cliché you choose here, but you certainly can teach old dogs new tricks. Self-improvement should be on our minds continuously. Our children are always watching. When they see you not watching TV but reading a book instead, they notice. Try new experiences and broaden your horizons. This teaches our children to never stop growing as a human being. Something new is to be learned each day.

3. Serving/Volunteering

Make it a regular habit to get out in your community with your family and volunteer your time and talents. This is one of the best ways to build family unity, teamwork skills, and most of all, generous and serving hearts. The opportunities to do so are endless and the rewards are rich.

4. Open Up Your Life

Do not hide who you are as a person to your children. If you are living correctly, you should have nothing to be ashamed of. Take your children to work some days and let them see Dad in his own world. Let them see how you interact with other adults and how you carry yourself in the world. Status doesn’t mean a thing, but your attitude and your demeanor mean the whole world when it concerns what your children are learning from you about how to live life.

5. Self-Control

We are men and all of us have tempers. Releasing our emotions, whatever they may be, is healthy and reduces stress. How we go about doing that in front of our children, however, has major consequences. When they see Dad slam his fist down or curse loudly, it sinks into their psyche in a variety of ways—none of them good. As difficult as it can be, it is essential to practice self-control at all times in front of our children. Bite your tongue and control that temper. If need be, take it out in the gym or go for a long run. Your author here prefers playing drums. They can be very therapeutic in this regard.

6. Relationship Harmony

This is another very difficult aspect of being a role model. We have many important relationships and not all of them are going to be pleasant. Maybe there are issues with your parents, step-parents, brothers, sisters, or ex-wife. As noted, our children are always watching and how they see you behave in these situations sinks in. Also, how you treat your wife or significant other will also define how they act later as adults. Strive to find harmony in your personal relationships no matter how difficult it may be.

7. Respect and Listening

If you want to teach your kids how to be confident, it starts with showing them respect for who they are and listening to their own unique thoughts. This is a tough aspect to leadership, but the very best leaders are the ones who listen carefully and talk far less. Open your mind and your ears and listen to what your children are telling you. They will in turn learn to do the same later in life.

8. Positive Attitude

There is plenty of negativity to be found in society today. Do not add to the daily deluge your child receives. Instead, display a positive and reassuring attitude and pass that on to them as well. They need to be able to look at you and feel that everything is going to be ok, and it is. A positive spirit will always emerge triumphant.

9. Goal Setting

Setting goals are important to give us a benchmark of where we are going and the progress we are making. Implementing and achieving those goals are of equal importance. When our kids see us moving along exactly according to plan it shows them the importance of organization and self-discipline in their daily life. Help them come up with their own set of goals and praise them when the goals are met.

10. Walk The Talk

The single most important aspect of being your children’s role model is to always say what you mean and mean what you say. Walk the talk. Back up your words with visible and concrete action and be a man of integrity and value. Actions speak volumes. “Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Summer Planning for Tweens and Teens

POSTED ON June 4th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized
Too old for camp. Too young to get a job. What to do? If you start early and know where to look, there’s plenty out there to keep older kids happy and busy during summer break.


It’s a parent’s summertime nightmare. While you’re at work all day, your tween or teen is at home. Alone. With nothing to do. So what does she do? She turns your house into party central.

This nightmare is exactly what happened to psychologist John Duffy’s clients, a family in a well-heeled Chicago suburb. “Every day when the parents went to work, their two teenagers invited all their friends over and had drinking parties,” Duffy says. “Some days there were as many as 100 kids at the house.” The couple didn’t learn about the parties until halfway through the summer, when another parent alerted them.

For kids, there’s nothing more delicious than summer vacation: two-plus months free from school. But for parents of older kids, the summer months can be fraught with very real hazards: from drugs and alcohol to ill-advised risk-taking to auto accidents. (Most deadly car crashes involving teens age 13 to 19 occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the American Automobile Association).

Other summer perils are less dangerous, but alarming just the same: the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) reports that kids lose significant ground academically when they’re not engaged in summertime educational activities. NSLA also found that kids gain weight two to three times faster during the summer months, likely because of inactivity and poor food choices.

For younger kids there’s camp. But for millions of tweens and teens? They exist in a summertime no-man’s-land: too old for lanyards and too young to get a job. Even for older teens, the job market is bleak. “In many cases, camp counseling jobs and other jobs traditionally held by teens are being filled by college students and recent college graduates,” says Gabriel Hanzel-Sello, a counselor atEnterprise for High School Students, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps teens learn job skills and find employment.

So how is an idle teen supposed to pass those summer months? If you’re lucky, he can visit grandma for a week or two. Maybe you’ll take a family vacation. And sure, a couple of weeks of unstructured downtime is welcome after the pressures of a long school year. But that still leaves weeks, and more weeks, to fill. The best innoculation against summertime shenanigans? Duffy advises: keep them busy! Plus, by finding inspired activities, your child will develop invaluable skills for high school, college, and beyond.

Happily, summer opportunities for tweens and teens are out there. The trick to homing in on the right ones is to get started early. Registration for most summer jobs and internships starts sooner than you might think — as early as January and February. Kate Shatzkin of NSLA suggests asking your child’s teacher for ideas during the spring parent-teacher conference. “The teacher can talk about areas your child needs to work on, and skills essential for the next grade,” she says. “She can also tell you which subjects make your child come alive in class — because she has a perspective on your child’s interests that you don’t have — as well as ideas for classes and other resources to encourage those interests.”

Read full article at Great Kids!


High School Graduation Goes Better Without Alcohol

POSTED ON June 1st, 2015  - POSTED IN Alcohol Awareness

Orig. Post June 10, 2014 by The Boston Globe | Re-Post June 1, 2015

Alcohol_2_2For many parents, high school graduation ceremonies bring a mix of joy and trepidation. It’s thrilling to watch a new graduate stride across the stage toward a distant future. But what of the immediate hours and days after commencement when grads gather to celebrate their accomplishments and let off steam? Invariably, some of those celebrations will take a terrible turn linked to underage drinking.

One healthy trend is the community-sponsored, alcohol-free party that typically lasts throughout the night. Good food, top DJs, dancing, games, and karaoke are often sufficient to keep recent graduates entertained until 5 a.m. As a rule, parents of the junior class serve as chaperones so as not to cramp the style of the graduating seniors. And to minimize contraband, any celebrant who leaves during the course of the night is not allowed to return.

Even without such options, parents can employ simple strategies to keep their children safe during graduation week. The best is a straightforward conversation about what to do if sons or daughters find themselves in risky situations. The standing offer of a no-questions-asked ride home from a parent or older sibling is an especially powerful tool because it reflects reality. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 39 percent of underage students drank some alcohol during a 30-day period and almost a quarter rode with a driver who had been drinking. Keeping a teen out of a car with an impaired driver is the first priority. Everything else can be discussed later.

There is a widespread assumption that teenagers listen first to their popular peers in an effort to fit in and only afterwards to their parents, if at all. It’s really not the case. Parents underestimate the influence they have over their children. Teens are smart enough to know that underage drinking leads to legal problems, unplanned sexual activity, fighting, alcohol-related crashes, and alcohol poisoning. They are capable of hearing and heeding these warnings from parents, especially if communicated in a calm, non-hectoring manner.

Some parents offer their own homes for private graduation parties. It’s a generous impulse. But it also can be a dangerous one if it includes looking the other way where underage drinking is concerned. The CDC attributes more than 4,300 deaths and 189,000 emergency room visits annually to underage drinking. Adult hosts can be held criminally and civilly liable for knowingly allowing people under 21 to drink alcohol in their homes. And the social host law extends to parents who are not at home when the drinking takes place.

This is the season of celebration for high school seniors. But it’s also a season of risks related to underage drinking. And the first step on the path to adulthood is fully understanding and preparing for those risks.

Memorial Day Letter

POSTED ON May 19th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Memorial_Day_ImageWith Memorial Day weekend approaching, everyone here at Sports World.org would like to wish you a safe and relaxing three-day weekend. We know this weekend can be full of excitement, especially here in Indianapolis with the Indianapolis 500 going on. We want to encourage you to make positive choices as you celebrate.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, on an average day, 519 underage drinkers (under 21) will need treatment in an emergency room after drinking too much – on Memorial Day weekend, this number climbs by 11%, up to 577 emergency room visits per day. This increase in underage drinking may stem from two sources. First, alcohol consumption for adults increases during the holiday weekend which means more accessibility for minors. Secondly, parents and adults may be a little more lax with the rules when it comes to allowing a minor to drink while grilling out or partying with friends and family.

Please help our youth to make positive choices by making positive choices yourself. Our youth are looking for role models and looking at the adults in their lives to fill that role. By demonstrating good decision making, you will help students understand that they can live a life of positive choices. Last year, 31,000 youth made a commitment to be alcohol free after hearing one of our Pro Speakers. We strive to be role models to the youth, but need the participation from all adults if we want to see underage drinking significantly reduced.

Once again, we would like to wish you a fantastic and safe holiday weekend. Don’t forget to take a moment to remember the service men and women who died serving our country.

The Most Dangerous Times on the Road

POSTED ON May 19th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post by BACtrack | Re-Post May 19, 2015

memorialday_mailer_pic_2The odds of getting into a driving accident increase during periods when there are more cars on the road, such as rush hour, or when driving conditions are less than optimal, as during periods of inclement weather. But when the number of alcohol impaired drivers increases, the odds skyrocket. Research into periods when motorists are most vulnerable to accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers offers an instructive road map for avoiding those times when driving risks are the greatest.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2001 and 2005, 36 fatalities occurred per day on average in the United States as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. At certain times of the year, such as summers and holidays, those numbers rose dramatically. During the Christmas period, for example, an average of 45 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurred each day, and soared to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday.

The summer season usually offers the best weather and driving conditions of the year – dry roads, excellent visibility, and longer daylight hours. But the seasonal benefits can be negated by other factors. According to the NHTSA, a higher volume of holiday travelers, including a significantly higher number of alcohol-impaired drivers, cause nearly twice the number of automotive deaths during summer months than during the rest of the year combined.

“100 Deadliest Days” for Teens

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day – summer vacation for most students – has been called “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. Nine of the 10 deadliest days for youth on U.S. highways fall between May and August. One reason is that teens are drinking are younger ages.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 5.8% of teens ages 16 and 17, and 15.1% of 18 to 20 year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in 2010. The U.S. Department of Transportation found that a total of 3,115 teens ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes that year, and about 2 out of 3 fatalities were males.

Too much free time and too little driving experience also risk for teenagers. In addition, they are more likely to engage in “distracted driving” behavior, which describes activities that can endanger the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Examples of distracted driving include texting, using a cell phone, or grooming while driving a motor vehicle.

Most Dangerous Holidays 

During the holidays, the number of travelers on our nation’s roads peaks as friends and family come together to celebrate. As a result of holiday parties and gatherings, more drivers are impaired by alcohol, too. Unfortunately, fatalities resulting from accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers have become so predictable that many state highway patrol departments now issue fatality estimates, which usually prove to be all too accurate.

Lurking among the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer is the deadliest day of them all – the Fourth of July holiday. The IIHS studied deaths resulting from auto accidents from 2005 to 2009 and ranked the July 4 as the deadliest day of the year, with 144 driving-related fatalities on average. Teens accounted for nearly 10% of the fatalities.

The most traveled holiday period of the year is Thanksgiving weekend, and DUI arrests are at their highest between Thanksgiving and the end of New Year’s weekend. Thanksgiving Eve is even referred to as “Black Wednesday,” as it may be the busiest night of the year for bars. Social binge drinking (consumption of a high volume of alcohol in a short period of time) is also common at this time of year.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that 40% of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers — a 12% increase over the rest of the month of December. According to the NHTSA, 2,597 people lost their lives due to motor vehicle traffic crashes during December 2010. The NHTSA also found that an average of 36 fatalities occurred each day in the U.S. 2001 and 2005 as a result of crashes involving an alcohol impaired driver. That number increased to 45 per day during the 3-day Christmas period and jumped to 54 per day over New Year’s holiday period.

Predictably, driving danger is higher than average during other holiday periods, too. According to the NHTSA, during Labor Day weekend in 2010, 147 people in the U.S. were killed as a result of drunk driving, which represented 36% of all highway fatalities during that period.

Other Dangerous Days and Times

The IIHS found that the second deadliest day after July 4 was September 2, followed by August 13, July 15, May 20, and November 11. Perhaps surprisingly, New Year’s Eve ranked 7th, with 130 average fatalities.

IIHS also discovered that seven of the 25 deadliest days in the U.S. occurred during August, which made it the deadliest month on the road. September and July rank as the second and third deadliest months, according to the NHTSA, and March had the fewest auto fatalities.

Many of the deadliest days occur when people celebrate special occasions and events, such as Cinco de Mayo or the Super Bowl. For example, a NHTSA study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

The NHTSA reports that most accidents occur during “rush hour,” between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.  And according to the NHTSA, Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to drive, primarily because there are more cars – and more drunk drivers – on the road than any other day. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 31% of fatal drunk-driving accidents occur on the weekend, and the highest number of drunk drivers is on the road between midnight and 3 a.m. Fatal crashes are also four times higher at night than during the day.

Dangerous Days to Walk

While New Year’s Day might not be the most dangerous day to drive, it’s probably the most dangerous day to walk. According to a 2005 article in the journal Injury Prevention, more pedestrian deaths occur on New Year’s Day than any other day, including Halloween.

Pedestrian deaths are also more likely to occur on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, when nearly half (49%) of all pedestrian fatalities occurred. Alcohol involvement — for driver or pedestrian — was reported in nearly half of all traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths. And in one-third of pedestrian fatalities, the pedestrian was intoxicated.

In 2008, 69,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes and 4,378 were killed, according to the CDC. One pedestrian was injured every eight minutes and one was killed every two hours. Thirty-eight percent pedestrian fatalities for those under age 16 occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Your Deadliest Days to Drive

It’s easy to calculate your own Most Dangerous Days to Drive. Anytime you consume alcohol and drive, you increase your risk of being in a car accident. Highway patrol departments are more familiar with the data than you. If you plan to drink during periods when driving dangers are elevated, be aware that the highway patrol is on alert, and that are determined to get intoxicated drivers off the highways.

Help For Parents of Troubled Teens

POSTED ON May 7th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig Post – HelpGuide.org | Re-Post 5/7/15

angry-teen-boy-190 wideParenting a teenager is never easy, but when your teen is violent, depressed, abusing alcohol or drugs, or engaging in other reckless behaviors, it can seem overwhelming. You may feel exhausted from lying awake at night worrying about where your child is, who he or she is with, and what they’re doing. You may despair over failed attempts to communicate, the endless fights, and the open defiance. Or you may live in fear of your teen’s violent mood swings and explosive anger. While parenting a troubled teen can often seem like an impossible task, there are steps you can take to ease the chaos at home and help your teen transition into a happy, successful young adult.

Normal Teen vs. Troubled Teen Behavior

As teenagers begin to assert their independence and find their own identity, many experience behavioral changes that can seem bizarre and unpredictable to parents. Your sweet, obedient child who once couldn’t bear to be separated from you now won’t be seen within 20 yards of you, and greets everything you say with a roll of the eyes or the slam of a door. These, unfortunately, are the actions of a normal teenager.

As the parent of a troubled teen, you’re faced with even greater challenges. A troubled teen faces behavioral, emotional, or learning problems beyond the normal teenage issues. They may repeatedly practice at-risk behaviors such as violence, skipping school, drinking, drug use, sex, self-harming, shoplifting, or other criminal acts. Or they may exhibit symptoms of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. While any negative behavior repeated over and over can be a sign of underlying trouble, it’s important for parents to understand which behaviors are normal during adolescent development, and which can point to more serious problems.

Understanding Teen Development

No, your teen is not an alien being from a distant planet, but he or she is wired differently. A teenager’s brain is still actively developing, processing information differently than a mature adult’s brain. The frontal cortex—the part of the brain used to manage emotions, make decisions, reason, and control inhibitions—is restructured during the teenage years, forming new synapses at an incredible rate, while the whole brain does not reach full maturity until about the mid-20’s.

Your teen may be taller than you and seem mature in some respects, but often he or she is simply unable to think things through at an adult level. Hormones produced during the physical changes of adolescence can further complicate things. Now, these biological differences don’t excuse teens’ poor behavior or absolve them from accountability for their actions, but they may help explain why teens behave so impulsively or frustrate parents and teachers with their poor decisions, social anxiety, and rebelliousness. Understanding adolescent development can help you find ways to stay connected to your teen and overcome problems together.

Anger and Violence in Teens

If you’re a parent of a teenage boy who is angry, aggressive, or violent, you may live in constant fear. Every phone call or knock on the door could bring news that your son has either been harmed, or has seriously harmed others.

Teenage girls get angry as well, of course, but that anger is usually expressed verbally rather than physically. Teen boys are more likely to throw objects, kick doors, or punch the walls when they’re angry. Some will even direct their rage towards you. For any parent, especially single mothers, this can be a profoundly upsetting and unsettling experience. But you don’t have to live under the threat of violence.

Read entire article here…