Packing Lunch: Prepping for the New School Year

backtoschool

 

Oh, my. Is it time to think about back-to-school already? In these parts, yes. Public school starts again around August 8th. And that is slowly but surely creeping up!

Maybe you have until after Labor Day … and if so, I’m jealous.

But since we’re all getting there eventually, it’s time to talk lunches and snacks. Here are a few great products as you think about school lunch in 2013-14.

KIND Yellow

 

KIND snacks have no artificial or secret ingredients and come in 28 varieties. From Maple-Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt bars (for Mom?!) to Peanut Butter clusters, all KIND products are made with ingredients you can pronounce and are full of antioxidants and fiber. A great lunchbox or snacktime treat.

hadakilunchpod

 

Hadaki Lunch Pods are the fashionable way for your older kids and teens to carry their lunch to school. In a large variety of prints, these pods are insulated, have a magnetic snap closure, and wipe down easily.

Kidz-Zone-Perfect-Bar-Nutrition

Kidz ZonePerfect is a kid-friendly line featuring 23 vitamins and minerals, five grams of protein and three grams of fiber. They are available in Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Caramel Crunch, and Yellow Cupcake. Better yet, ZonePerfect asked everyday moms and their kids to help design the new bars. By holding build-a-bar workshops, ZonePerfectwas able to deliver the nutritional needs of moms and the taste preferences of active kids – a win-win! Kidz ZonePerfect bars can be found at retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Wal-Mart. See their website for a $1 coupon.

sn_puffs_2012_grilled_cheese_4oz_fnl

 

Snikiddy is a line of all-natural snacks made from simple, wholesome, real-food ingredients. Snacks now come in 1.5-ounce packages for optimum lunchbox packing!

 

ParentLife was provided with samples of some of these products. All opinions are our own. 

Keeping Young Minds Active During the Summer

Summer is a time for relaxation and family fun, but most parents would agree that their children should be actively engaged in educational activities and experiences over the school break. To keep your child productive, consider the following ideas, broken down into each major subject area:

1. Heed the Need to Read: Countless studies show the importance of summer reading: Kids who read in the summer outperform their peers in the fall. Avoid the “summer slide” by making sure your kids read often during the summer.

●Most libraries have a summer reading program with incentives and prizes. Visiting the library once a week can be a fun family escape. Research shows that kids who choose their own books (with parent approval) read more.

●Create a time during the day when no TV or electronics are allowed.

● Read to your child and listen to your child read.

●Listen to books on CD  while traveling.

●Model reading.

2. Do the Math! Few would argue the importance of math. Skills that are not used are often forgotten, so practice is essential. Besides specialized math tutoring facilities, which are gaining popularity and producing increasingly impressive results, there are many ways to keep math skills sharp at home. Consider these fun activities that allow your child to practice math:

● Follow recipes

● Read maps, and calculate mileage on trips.

● Use flashcards to practice facts.

● Utilize online math practice sites for kids, such as the following:

-Funbrain.com

-AAA math.com

-Coolmath.com

3. Invite ‘em to Write! Good writing skills provide evidence of learning and understanding. Writing makes thoughts and ideas visible and gives children a clear way to express themselves. Encourage your children to write using these ideas:

● Keep a journal on trips and at home.

●Write letters and emails, requiring correct capitalization, punctuation and grammar.

●Let your child record her voice telling a story, then dictate that story onto paper.

●Encourage your child to write one short story a week. Keep them in a folder as a keepsake from the summer.

4. Smart Summer Science:  Science helps us to understand the world around us. Besides being educational, science can be lots of fun! The following activities reinforce important science concepts:

●Visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums.

●Dig for fossils.

●Gaze at stars, find constellations and track the moon’s phases.

●There are many fun experiments that can be done at home. Visit the following web sites for ideas:

-National Geographic Kids

-PBS Kids-Dragonfly TV

-Funology

 

5. Make History with Social Studies Activities-Summer provides an escape from  that sometimes-boring history class. Use the summer months to strengthen your child’s interest in things of the past. History teaches helps us learn from our past and prepares us for the future. Geography knowledge is vital, but often over-looked. There are many activities that can encourage your child’s social studies understanding:

● Visit history museums and historical places.

●Research your family tree.

●Make a map of your neighborhood using a GPS .

●Research and report upon the locations (states/countries) that you visit on vacation.

 

Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and fifth grade teacher living in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education.

Heroes on the Home Front by Rhonda Hensley

Each year thousands of men and women deploy leaving their spouse and children behind.  Just as those men and women are to be referenced as heroes so are those who battle the struggles of taking care of the home front.

A Call to Duty

Daniel has served in the U.S. Army for over eleven years. He is proud of the opportunity to serve our country. He believes that it his duty not only to protect our country but to provide freedom for his own family. His wife Jennifer and their three children are proud of Daniel’s service to our country but it is not without a cost to the family. Jennifer states, “the most challenging part of the military life is the time our service members have to spend away from us while on a mission or deployment.”

Aiming High

Being a military family for over ten years, the Hall family has adjusted to having dad away most of the time. Chad is a member of the U.S. Air Force and his service requires him to be away on an average of 200 days out of the year. Andrea and her two children have learned to aim high on the independence scale and lower the expectation of having dad around. Andrea states, good friends that become like your extended family help the most during the absence of your military spouse.”

Always Faithful

It didn’t take long for Shaina to gain an understanding of the commitment and dedication it takes for military families to remain faithful. Shortly, after she and her Marine husband, Chad wed, she was sending him off for duty. He witnessed the birth of their daughter via Skype. Shaina expresses that the most challenging part of being a military wife is feeling like a single parent and not knowing if your loved one will return home safely.

Galatians 6:2 states, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” One of the greatest ways we can lighten the burdens of our military is by caring for the heroes they leave on the home front.

 

Rhonda Hensley  is a writer, speaker, Bible teacher and avid photographer which all provide ample opportunity to share her life experiences as a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. www.kingdomjewelsministry.com

Are You Ratings Ready? Video Game Edition by Mike Nappa

laptop_computer_0515-0909-2120-0444_SMU photo laptop_computer_0515-0909-2120-0444_SMU.jpg

Your preteen wants to play a new video game at a friend’s house—but is that game appropriate for your child? How will you know? Here’s how you can find out:

 

How are Video Games Rated for Content?

Most video games are given a third-party rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). This rating is intended to provide “objective information” to help parents make informed choices about the games their kids play.

An ESRB rating has three parts:

  1. An age-appropriate category designation,
  2. Content descriptors, and
  3. Information about the “interactive elements” of a game, for instance, whether or not a game shares a user’s location or other personal information.

 

What are the Basic Ratings Categories?

  • EC – Early Childhood. No objectionable content, and a game that was created specifically for young children.
  • Everyone. Fun for the whole family. Cartoon-style violence at best, and generally no profanity or suggestive themes included.
  • Everyone 10+. Generally appropriate for preteens and older. May contain mild violence or mild language, but overall very tame.
  • Teen. This is the gaming equivalent of a PG-13 movie rating. According to ESRB, a game with this rating “May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.”
  • Mature. A video game comparable to an R-rated film. A game with this rating is likely to include some combination of graphic violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and strong profanity.
  • Adults Only. Consider this the NC-17 rating of video games. ESRB describes these games this way, “May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.”

 

Where Can I Find More?

A detailed explanation of the ESRB rating system, including specific content descriptors and interactive element designations is online at: http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp.

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Real Life Solutions: ADHD and Counseling

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

troy at desk
source: brookesb

Q: Our 10-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD. The school recommended he have counseling, but we really don’t know why. Our family seems to get along and we don’t have problems with our son other than his direction following and forgetfulness. Why would the school recommend counseling?

A: I would encourage you to ask the school directly as to why the recommendation for counseling was made. Without knowing your specific case, I can’t say exactly why, but I can tell you the purpose of counseling in most cases.

There is a saying, “Pills don’t teach skills.” Too often, parents medicate their children and don’t work on the management of ADHD. Counseling does not cure this disorder, but it does help kids figure out their strengths and weaknesses and how to help themselves, given their unique way of doing things. For example, counseling can help your son develop a reminder system or a tracking system for his homework.

Counseling might focus on relationship skills that help his social life at school—how to deal with frustration, impulsive behaviors, etc. Counseling reinforces a positive mindset and helps children understand that learning can take different forms and doesn’t mean they aren’t bright simply because they learn in less conventional ways.

Counseling is usually helpful when parents feel like they have tried things and need extra help with systems that work. Usually the counselor uses a cognitive behavioral approach in which the focus is on thoughts and behavior. This type of therapy teaches problem-solving, goal setting, new skills, and management of feelings. Finding a therapist who specializes in working with children with ADHD and understands the impact of the disorder is important.

Resource: Raising Boys with ADHD by Mary Anne Richey and James W. Forgan

10 Tips for Bullying Prevention in Schools

Cary Woods Elementary School playgorund
source: VickyvS

Bullying is an issue that schools around the country are paying attention to. It’s one that is leaving many seats in the classrooms empty each day. In fact, it’s estimated that, around the country, roughly 160,000 students stay home each day because they fear bullying. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that schools can do in order to help successfully prevent and address the issue on their campus.

 

  • Focus on prevention. When you begin working on bullying as a school-wide issue, place the emphasis more on preventing it so that it is not as big of a problem to begin with.
  • Establish a committee. Create a task force at the school to focus on bullying. That committee should include members from staff, teachers, parents, and students. Together, they can work together and have their input considered.
  • Create a plan. Within the committee, work together to create a bully-prevention plan for the school. Include what the consequences will be if people are found to be bullying others.
  • Start early. It is never too early to start working with children about treating others with kindness, respect, and acceptance. Start at the earliest grade that the school has, leaving no children out of the plan.
  • Keep it going. As children work their way through the school, advancing to the next grade, reinforce the bully-prevention message. They need to hear the message every year, as opposed to it being given to them only once.
  • Think multiple methods. Children learn in different manners. Some learn by listening, others learn by hands-on projects, and still others learn by watching. Try to incorporate multiple ways to get the bully-prevention message across to students. Include things like books, plays, games, movies, and more.
  • Encourage peer advocacy. When students go from being bystanders to being “upstanders,” attempts to address bullying will be more successful. Students should be taught to stand up for other students.
  • Teach what to do. Even though the focus should mainly be on bullying prevention, students still need to know what to do if it happens to them. Teach them acceptable ways to handle bullying if they do encounter it.
  • Work with parents. Parents want a bully-free school as much as teachers, staff, and students do. Nobody wants their child to come home in tears after a day of being bullied. Get the parents involved in the bully prevention effort in order to make it more successful.
  • Evaluate and adjust. Once or twice per year, give the students an anonymous survey to fill out, where they can answer questions about bullying on the school campus. This will provide a look at how the students feel about the school atmosphere, and will give staff the chance to see if the bully-free plans need to be re-evaluated.

“Schools want those children in their seats every day, rather than avoiding school out of fear,” explains Karen Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with parents and families. “When schools make bullying a priority and take real steps to help prevent and address bullying, everyone is better off. It takes some dedication and focus, but a successful program can be created and implemented.”

See also: Linda Mintle’s response to parents of children who are being bullied.

Eye Exams for School-Age Children

Eye Chart
source: firemind

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children receive an eye exam at age 6 and then every two years during the school-age years. Parents can look for signs of child’s vision becoming impaired. Contact an optometrist if your child experiences the following signs of having vision problems:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or repeated blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting head to one side
  • Holding books close to face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what is read

 If your child has vision problems, when did they start?

Real Life Solutions: My Child Is Being Bullied

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Untitled 1
source: lucylawrence

Q: My son has been the victim of bullying at his school, and we are trying to understand why and how to help. Our family is going through some difficult changes and there has been a lot of yelling and tension in our home. We are trying to work on that by seeing a counselor. Do you have other suggestions for us?

A: In 2010, the APA published a study where researchers reviewed 153 studies on bullying over the past 30 years. What they found was that bullies and victims share similar traits. Both lack social problem-solving skills and feel awkward and uncomfortable among their peers. When you add poor academic skills to the mix, a bully, rather than a victim, is likely to emerge. The study additionally profiled bullies with these traits:

  1. Negative attitudes and beliefs about others
  2. Negative self-image
  3. From families with conflict and poor parenting
  4. Negative school perceptions
  5. Negatively influenced by peers

The study also noted that victims are usually aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, are problematic in social skills and solving problems, isolate, are rejected by peers and come from negative family, school, and community environments. So continue to work on solving the family tension, work with the school and teach your son a technique called The Swarm. Basically, a group of bystanders swarm the bully and tell him or her to back off. There is power in numbers and bullies will often back down when confronted with a group that pushes back on them. Work with your son to identify who he can get on his team and stand up to the bully.

Also work with the teacher. She may be able to coach the class on the technique as well. Practice social skills and help him problem-solve when he encounters problems at school. Building his confidence to handle peers will go a long way.

Do you have any advice for parents of bullied kids?

Captain Underpants Speaks to Parents! An Interview with Dav Pilkey {Trends and Truth Online with Mike Nappa}

 

Dav Pilkey is the creator of the New York Times bestselling kids’ series, Captain Underpants. Recently, he took a little time away from his Captainly duties to answer a few questions for ParentLife readers:

T&TO: What should every parent know about Captain Underpants?

Pilkey: I purposely designed each [Captain Underpants] book so they would not only be fun to read, they’d be easy to read. Each story has short chapters and pictures on every page, but the humor is aimed squarely at third and fourth graders (and above). My goal was to present kids with a series that would give even the most reluctant readers a feeling of success.

T&TO: What makes writing Captain Underpants worthwhile for you?

Pilkey: I feel very motivated by all of the positive feedback I get from parents and teachers and librarians. They tell similar stories, always about a kid who refused to read until they were introduced to Captain Underpants—then everything changed…I just heard from a grandmother the other day who had to yell at her granddaughter to STOP reading (apparently it was way past her bedtime, and she was under the covers with a flashlight).

T&TO: According to ALA, Captain Underpants books are among the “most-challenged” books by parents and librarians. Why?

Pilkey: The reason the Captain Underpants books have been challenged by a small handful of “concerned grown-ups” is usually because of the humor. These books do tend to involve villainous toilets and booger monsters and things like that. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for most kids, but I understand that there are some grown-ups out there who are not amused by such things.

One angry lady in California complained to her local newspaper that certain characters in my books had engaged in name-calling and had “no moral value.” Oddly, she was referring to the villains. I remember thinking, “Aren’t bad guys supposed to behave badly?”

I actually think kids are smart enough to get the point of these silly books of mine. They realize that the bad guys are evil and the heroes are loyal, brave, and good-hearted. Kids totally get it, and fortunately most adults do too.

T&TO: Any last thoughts for our readers?

Pilkey: Every month I get hundreds of original hand-drawn comic book adventures written and illustrated by kids all over the world. Just last week I got two 16-page full color comics written and illustrated by a twelve-year-old from Australia. Earlier this year, I got some comics from a kid in Thailand. I couldn’t read them, but the illustrations were beautiful.

The amazing thing to me is that these comic books aren’t assignments. Nobody forced those kids to make an original comic book. These are things that kids have decided to do on their own—for fun!

It’s going to be exciting to see what happens when these kids grow up!

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Resources for Parents from Jennifer Holt

To go along with Jennifer Holt’s article on being a social butterfly in the January issue, here are some extra resources for parents.