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Tips, tricks,tech and more

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LATE SUMMER/EARLY FALL 2017 • Volume 2, Issue 4

NEPA Family Times 149 Penn Avenue Scranton, PA 18503 Editorial: 570-348-9185 Advertising: 570-348-9100

MANAGiNG EDiToR Tom Graham x3492 tgraham@timesshamrock.com

SALES MANAGER

Vaccines

4

Back to School 2017

6

Keep Uniforms New

7

The Right Backpack

7

Keeps with Christina

8

Back to School: Adults

9

Tips from Jenna

12

Cyberbullying

14

Alice Manley x9285

ADVERTiSiNG ExECUTiVES Judy S. Gregg x5425 Casey Cunningham x5458 Josette Rzeszewski x3027

CoNTRiBUTiNG WRiTERS Jennifer Butler Dave DeCosmo Beth Raiola

New Tech at Lake Lehman 14 Today’s Grandparent

15

Family Calendar

16

Student Loan Debt

17

Extracurricular Balance

17

Helicopter Parenting

18

Get a Pet

18

For the Love of Books

19

Phil Yacuboski

Your news is always welcome! Email NEPAFamilyTimes@timesshamrock.com or click NEPAFamilyTimes.com. Mailed editorial and photo submissions will not be returned. Opinions of the independent columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff.

/NEPAFamilyTimes @NEPAFamilyTimes NEPAFamilyTimes.com NEPAFamilyTimes@timesshamrock.com

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NEPA Family Times is published bi-monthly by Times Shamrock Communications.

NEPA FAMILY TIMES

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Three factors to consider when looking for daycare Parents typically face tough decisions when choosing daycare facilities for their children. While parents often have many competent, qualified facilities to choose from, they must consider a host of variables to ensure they’re making the best decision for themselves and their families.

contact information of the parents of past and current enrollees.

Cost Daycare can be expensive and, while costs vary greatly depending on where families live, parents can expect to pay a substantial amount for their children to be in daycare. According to the National Association Location of Childcare Resource and Referral For many parents, the decision of which daycare facility to use for their Agencies, parents can expect to pay anywhere from $3,582 to $18,773 per children comes down to location. year on daycare for their children. Some parents want a facility close to When examining daycare programs, their offices, while others want one parents of very young children need that’s close to home. If location is a to consider just how much their chilsignificant concern, parents should also consider the proximity of a given dren will likely get out of a given profacility to friends or family members gram. Some expensive programs may who may need to pick up kids in case be too advanced for infant children, while less costly programs may not of emergency. offer enough to keep older kids stimulated. Cost should not be mistaken for Reputation quality, but parents should do their Often, the best way to find a daybest to determine if a program will care facility is to speak with fellow be worth spending more or if a less parents. Whether their children are expensive program will provide the still in daycare or have long since stimulation their kids need. moved on, fellow parents can be a great resource. Ask family, friends Choosing a daycare facility is or neighbors with children which facilities they used and whether they difficult, and parents should afford would recommend them. Parents also themselves ample time to find the can ask each facility they visit for the right facility for their families.


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Pennsylvania’s new vaccination regulations in effect By Jennifer Butler

C

hanges in school vaccination requirements went into effect for students in the state’s school districts as of Aug. 1. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has required these changes to make the school environment a healthier and safer one for students in the Commonwealth. While most of the requirements stay the same, there are a few key changes that parents will need to note and be ready for the upcoming school year. “The change that will have the most impact is the reduction of the provisional time when a student can attend without being in compliance. This will change from its present eight-month allowance to just five days,” explained Dr. Jessica Aquilina, superintendent of Forest City Regional School District. Previously, the regulations allowed a child to be provisionally admitted to school even though the child did not have all the required immunizations

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for entry or continued attendance for eight months before facing exclusion. The child now only has five days to be in compliance as required by law. In the case of a multi-dose vaccine, regulations require that the child have at least one dose of the following vaccines upon school entry or risk exclusion: DTaP (Tetanus, Diptheria, Acellular Pertussis) (4) kindergarten Polio (4) kindergarten HepB (Hepatitis B) (3) kindergarten MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) (2) kindergarten VAR (Varicella) (2) kindergarten MCV (Meningococcal Conjugate) (2) 7th -12th grades If additional doses are required and are medically appropriate within the first five days of school: n The child shall have either the final dose during that five-day period; or n The child shall have the next scheduled dose and shall also provide a medical certificate setting out the schedule for the remaining doses.

NEPA FAMILY TIMES

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n If the child has at least one dose, but needs additional doses, and those doses are not medically appropriate during the first five days of school, the child may provide a medical certificate on or before the fifth school day showing the doses are scheduled to be administered. n The medical certificate shall be signed by a physician, certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) or physician assistant (PA). If the child will be receiving the immunizations from the department or a public health department, a public health official may sign the medical certificate. A child who meets these requirements may continue to attend school even if the child does not have all the required vaccinations, as long as the child complies with the vaccination schedule in the medical plan/certificate. School administrators or their designees are required to review that medical plan/certificate every 30 days to ensure that the child is in compliance.

“We will review our policy to ensure alignment with the new regulations and likely need to develop an administrative regulation to guide practices related to the regulations,” concluded Aquilina. The new requirement information was recently shared at a board meeting and at pre-k and kindergarten registration at Forest City. In addition, a robo-call will be sent out in with a reminder to students in that district. In addition to reducing the provisional clause, the new requirements also include: n Acknowledging the pertussis component of DTaP n Clarifying four doses of polio n Adding a dose of MCV for 12th grade entry n Identifying a reporting period of Dec. 1-31 All grades will have four doses of tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (one dose on or after the 4th birthday); four doses of polio (4th dose on or after 4th birthday and at least 6 months after previous dose given); two doses of measles, mumps, rubella; three doses of hepatitis B; two doses of varicella (chickenpox) or evidence of immunity In 7th grade: One dose of tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) on the first day of 7th grade; and one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) on the first day of 7th grade. If a child gains entrance to school in any succeeding year, the same immunizations are required on the first day. In 12th grade: One dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) on the first day of 12th grade. If one dose was given at 16 years of age or older, that shall count as the 12th grade dose. “Exemptions have not changed and are still permitted due to religious or philosophical beliefs or a medical condition which precludes a child from receiving an immunization,” pointed out superintendent Aquilina. Also, if the child is homeless, unable to locate his records due to a disaster, transfers into the school or if there is a national vaccine shortage, an exemption shall be granted. If anyone has any questions regarding the new immunizations they can contact their pediatrician or school for more information or go on-line to www. dontwaitvaccinate.pa.gov.


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NEPA FAMILY TIMES TS_CNG/ADVERTISING/AD_PAGES [ADY05] | 08/16/17

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BACK TO SCHOOL 2017 By Jennifer Butler

W

hether we like it or not, backto-school time is upon parents and teachers in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The days of sleeping late, spending long, hot summer days poolside and late nights fireside roasting marshmallows and making s’mores are coming to a close. It is time to change gears and to prepare for an another important school year. Let’s skip the anxiety and stress of a new school year that students and parents alike feel and start out on the right foot this year. The thought of school, work, sports and extra-curricular activity schedules, after three months of very few cares, can make it harder to find time to manage tasks at hand in the new school year. Start by being organized. That’s easier said than done for the less-organized person. Just a few simple steps can help. Begin by checking your list of must-haves and start chipping away at the list with purchases throughout the season of what your students may need. Notebooks, backpack, pencils/ pens, calculators and all supplies can be purchased anytime of the year so don’t wait. A back-to-school shopping trip with your students is a special time that they can enjoy as quality time with their parent. Talk to your students and make the transition back to school a less anxious time and an easier one to maneuver. Reassure them that the year will be a great learning experience and they will get back with their old friends and meet new ones. When school begins, don’t forget to ask them how their day was — i.e. what went right and what went wrong? Teach them to be independent and to be problem solvers. A good conversation can help your students understand and achieve high standards in their lives.

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Another good transitional tool is to tour the school if it is new to your student, such as transitioning to a middle or high school, or the pre-K or kindergarten classrooms for the younger child. Meet the teachers and open doors of communication with them throughout the year for you and your child. Help students find friends to walk to school or ride the bus with this year. Also, teach them back-to-school safety tips and stranger danger awareness. Choose a backpack with care — one that has wide, padded shoulder straps. Impress on childen the need to use both straps, not just slinging the pack over one shoulder which can cause muscle strain. Also, try not to pack too much stuff — the backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s weight. Don’t rule out a rolling backpack for students with a

NEPA FAMILY TIMES

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heavy load if allowed in their schools. Regarding the school bus, teach children to board and disembark correctly and safely. Tell them to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and to make sure your child can see the bus driver and that the driver can see them. Also, remind them to obey the rules of the bus by staying seated and wearing seat belts if they are provided. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), children may begin walking to school at 9 to 11 years of age. Make sure it is a safe walk including crossing guards at intersections. Walking with them the first week of school provides a chance to acclimate them to the trip and to teach them some important safety concerns. Bright colored clothing and reflectors on their backpacks also may be smart ideas.

Don’t wait until the night before school begins to institute your back-toschool bedtime. Begin a few nights before and set an alarm at wake-up time to make sure you have enough time to get ready for each day. A school time schedule is one that will help your student better prepare for success of the school day mornings. Sometimes parents will find their students are apprehensive and wish to avoid school. This happens most commonly between the ages of 5 and 7 and 11 and 14, according to the AACAP. Those are periods when youngsters are dealing with the new challenges of elementary and middle school. The academy advises parents to tell their children that it is OK to be nervous and talk to them about ways to cope with their anxiety and do so as often as they need you to. Seek additional help from school counselors if the need arises.


To avoid back injuries, choose the right backpack

Keep school uniforms looking like new

F

S

chool uniforms can simplify dressing for school and may even bolster school pride among the student body. The U.S. Department of Education says that wearing a uniform may help decrease the risk of violence and theft and instill discipline while helping school officials more easily recognize potential intruders. Although once found only at religious and private schools, school uniforms are now worn at many public schools across the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics indicates roughly 20 percent of public and private schools across the U.S. required students to wear uniforms in the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year for which data is available. School uniforms may help families save money on clothing. Although the initial cost of the uniform may be higher than some other clothes parents may purchase for school, uniforms can be worn again and again, saving parents the expense of buying many outfits for their kids to wear to school. Uniforms may even be available for purchase from multiple places, allowing families to shop around for the best prices. Some uniforms may be simple, such as a white shirt and khaki pants, so that parents have more options. School uniforms require an investment, and it is important to take care of the uniforms so they can handle the wear and tear of daily use, as well as all of the potential hazards kids might experience in a typical day. These tips can help families keep school uniforms in the best condition possible. n Launder gently. Wash clothes in cold water to prolong the life of the clothing. When possible, line-dry items or tumble dry on low.

n Have a few backups. Purchase a few pairs of pants, skirts and shirts that can be interchanged each day. This will cut down on how frequently uniforms need to be washed. n Spot-treat stains immediately. Kids seem drawn to stains from ink, grass, grease, etc. These stains can permanently ruin clothing if they are not addressed promptly. Rely on some of these stain-removal techniques to keep uniforms looking newer longer: Soak clothes in cola for 30 minutes prior to laundering to remove greasy marks or food stains. A paste of white vinegar and baking soda can remove grass stains when worked into the stains and then washed. Spray pen marks with hair spray then blot to lift off the ink. Repeat as needed before laundering. n Skip some washes. If the uniform isn’t especially soiled or smelly, it may be possible to wear it again without washing. Clothes can often be refreshed by using at-home dry cleaning kits. n Reinforce buttons. Use a thin coating of clear nail polish to serve as a protective barrier on button finishes. This will help the buttons look newer longer. The polish also can strengthen the thread that holds buttons on. n Label all clothing. Uniforms all look the same. Be sure to use iron-on labels or sewn-in labels to identify kids’ clothing and avoid having to replace lost items.

inding the right backpack is an essential component of back-toschool shopping. Children may have their own ideas of what’s in style, but parents should look for backpacks that are functional before factoring in style. Marrying form and function can be challenging, but it’s necessary to prevent students from developing back problems. But parents must give consideration to more than just the size of their children’s backpacks. Depending on school schedules, students may be carrying backpacks for up to 10 hours per day, five days per week. Backpacks may be filled with several pounds of stuff, such as textbooks, binders, laptops, and other supplies, potentially leading to injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries every year. The American Academy of Orthopedic

Surgeons says that the weight of a backpack should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight. But many students pack their bags with much more weight than that. Improperly sized, worn and overstuffed backpacks can injure joints and lead to neck, back and shoulder injuries. They also may affect children’s posture. n Choose a streamlined model. Select a backpack that will get the job done without much added bulk. Many backpacks have been designed to hold technological devices as more and more schools integrate technology into the classroom. A less bulky bag might be lighter and easier to carry. n Consider shopping at a sporting goods store. Employees at camping and sporting goods retailers understand how to fit backpacks for hikers and outdoor adventurers. They can help measure a student and find a pack that will fit his or her body frame. Also, these retailers may have a wider selection of backpacks than some other stores, increasing the chances of finding the right fit. n Select a pack with a waist strap. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the body is not designed to carry items hanging from shoulders. By using the waist strap in conjunction with taut shoulder straps, students can distribute the weight in their backpacks over their hip bones instead of the shoulders. The padded and adjustable shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide. All straps should be used each time the pack is worn. n Backpacks should be loaded properly. Heavy items should be near the center bottom to distribute the load, rather than placed on top. Students should only carry what is necessary, visiting lockers or desks as needed to lighten their packs. Backpack fit and functionality is something parents should take seriously when shopping for school supplies.

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KEEPERS WITH CHRISTINA

Easy Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas By Christina Hitchcock

August means one thing … school days are right around the corner. By this point in the summer, we are in fullon relaxation mode. That means late nights, sleeping in, lazy days outside and no schedules. While summer is a time for fun and relaxation, the realist in me keeps thinking that getting back into school mode is going to be challenging. Back to the routines. Back to busy schedules. Back to crazy mornings. Prepare for School Routines We are not morning people, so backto-school means back to hectic mornings at my house. In an effort to create a smooth back-to-school transition, I like to start easing everyone into our morning routine. About a month before school starts, I dust off the alarm clock and start getting everyone up at our normal school-day wake up time. We start the day as we normally would when school is in session — everyone gets dressed, eats breakfast and gets their teeth brushed and hair combed by the time the school bus would normally arrive. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The first few times I get everyone up early, it’s hard. No one wants to get up or get moving. So to sweeten the deal, I usually have something fun planned. It could be a trip to an amusement park or museum or even just a day of fishing (my guys love to fish). Even though I feel like a drill sergeant barking orders, I know everyone is going to be glad they got up early. I also find it helpful to prepare as much as we can the night before — packing backpacks, getting lunches ready, picking out tomorrow’s outfit, etc. Every little bit helps. Breakfast Options That Help Easy breakfast choices help make our mornings run more smoothly.

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Whether it’s a quick-fix meal, a homemade freezer breakfast or a makeahead option, getting a jump-start on breakfast really moves things along. Some of my favorite options are: • Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos • Easy Breakfast Cookies • Baked Blueberry Oatmeal • Our Favorite Green Smoothie (All of these recipes are available at www.itisakeeper.com/nepafamilytimes) But my family’s all-time favorite quick breakfast is easy Mini-Quiches. Using only a few simple ingredients, a batch can be ready in under 20 minutes if you want to make them in the morning. Or you can make them the night before and quickly reheat them. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it’s very versatile. You can easily add your favorite ingredients. I used ham and leeks, but you could easily replace the ham with bacon or sausage. Or, you could replace the leeks with broccoli, bell peppers or

NEPA FAMILY TIMES

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Easy Ham & Leek Mini-Quiches Ingredients: 1 tablespoon butter 1 leek sliced and cleaned/soaked thoroughly 6 large eggs 1/4 cup half-and-half 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 4 slices thin deli ham, chopped 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded Instructions: Preheat oven to 350° F Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. any other mix-in that your family likes. These Mini-Quiches are a great way to get a jump start on busy school mornings. Plus, you can feel confident that your family has a wholesome breakfast before they start their day.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the leeks. Cook leeks until lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cool slightly, then divide them evenly among the muffin cups. Whisk the half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl; stir in the ham. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full with the egg mixture and top with the grated cheese. Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove them from the tin.

Christina Hitchcock Christina Hitchcock scours cookbooks, recipe boxes and the internet to bring you only the BEST recipes that have her seal of approval.


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Back to School for Adults, too By Phil Yacuboski

more popular growth areas.” Starkey said nontraditional students often look at a program While the kids head back to that fits into their schedule. Online school this fall, it’s time for many classes are very popular, he said, adults to hit the books, too. Adult adding that many are looking to students, or nontraditional students as they are known on college add credits or training beyond an associate degree or credential. campuses, are sharpening their “The dental hygienist or nurse workforce skills. programs are very popular,” he While the Pennsylvania Desaid. “They are looking to get that partment of Education does not baccalaureate degree to enhance track nontraditional students, the that degree and the online proNational Center for Education Statistics does monitor those num- grams fit their schedule because they can continue to work full bers. The numbers have increased steadily since the mid-1970s thanks time.” He said other programs involve to a changing workforce and more in-class time such as applied access to student loans. “We have seen a rise in nontradi- technology studies, which allow students to take into account their tional students coming to campus prior lear ning and use that for a to lear n,” said Paul Starkey, vice degree in infor mation technology, president for academic affairs engineering or automated manuat Penn College of Technology. facturing and machining. “Particularly, a lot of the students Another popular program is have some sort of affiliation with brewing and fer mentation science, the military. That’s been one of our

which complements the craft brewery business. “There are a number of programs that have certificate options,” he said. “They take many of the same courses, but they don’t have to take the general education requirements,” which include electrical occupations and a residential construction certificate. He said, while some students opt for a certificate, many see the value of an associate degree because it could mean more opportunity and career advancement in the future. Nine percent of Pennsylvania adults are without a high school credential, according to the federal Department of Education. “There are jobs out there and there are life-sustaining jobs,” said Mike Novak, chief administrative officer, Johnson College of Technology. Novak said they prepare students for what manufacturing has

become and technical jobs in the automotive industry — from trucking to car dealerships. “Our construction trades are also very popular for those students, too,” he said. “We have a lot of students who are lear ning about construction maintenance, drafting, heating and ventilation and air conditioning. Those are areas where students can lear n skills that can help them in the job market.” He said the jobs that we used to think of as simple, have become very complex and require more education. “Things have changed over time,” he said. “The technical trades are not what they used to be. There’s a lot of technology that is wrapped into it. What we used to think were dirty jobs are now actually clean jobs. And those jobs are now highly skilled and pay good money.”

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TIPS FROM jENNA

Help kids STEAM into the 21st century By Jenna Urban

day-to-day life. In short, students need to gain more respect for independent learning. We need to be educating our STEAM education is sweeping the elementary students for the workplace nation. of 2030 and beyond, which can be done School districts are scrambling to provide programs from robotics compe- through STEAM. According to the U.S. Department titions to coding games while teachers of Education, the number of STEM/ filter through thousands of PinterSTEAM jobs in the United States will est pins in search of quality STEAM grow by 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, activities. Parents are not far behind, investing growth that the BLS terms as “much in board games and science kits with a faster” than the national average of 5-8 percent across all job sectors. STEAM seal of approval. What can be done at home to inspire STEM, which stands for an eduSTEAM? cational focus on science, tech, engiParents can encourage children to neering and math, has recently been changed to STEAM, to include the arts. channel their inner engineer through In an online article on Times Higher a number of activities. Recycle the The Times-Tribune for a newspaper tower Education, Professor Martin Boehm challenge. Roll the newspaper and of IE Business School in Spain made a startling prediction stating; “80 percent secure with tape and let them build. of jobs that will exist in 2025 don’t exist Use a ruler to measure their tower today; we have to prepare our students to incorporate math. Another simple STEAM activity is to play sink or float. and graduates for a world that’s essentially not possible to prepare them for.” The object is to explore the density of selected items. Just fill a few TupperTeachers are preparing students ware containers with water and grab for jobs that do not exist today and for some items from around the house a world where technology including such as plastic, aluminum foil, apples, artificial intelligence, will dominate oranges, toy blocks, paper, bathtub toys,

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plastic forks, rubber balls, soda-bottle caps, pencils, erasers and sponges. Young children grasp concepts through exploration and trial and error, so they should learn STEAM concepts at their own pace and in ways that are natural to them. A great resource for finding simple science experiments is Sciencebob.com. Learning with technology can be done on Code.org, a website devoted to teaching coding with free lessons and guided videos. Scratch Jr. is a free app that children as young as 5 can be using to learn code. Legos or k’nex building blocks can be used to provide hands-on learning opportunities that encourage scientific inquiry, investigation, creativity and experimentation. Both websites offer STEAM activities to challenge kids. The Sphero Robot is designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, and invention through connected play and coding and kids don’t realize they are learning because it’s fun. A favorite for the arts concept in STEAM is 3Doodler 3D printing pen, in which plastic comes out of the pen then is cooled by an integrated fan and solidifies right in front of you. You can draw on any

surface and lift it up into the air to create your own 3D objects. It’s a favorite for my kids. Don’t worry about giving too much instruction. Children are natural scientists. Let them explore and discover, then reflect on what they discovered by asking how and why that happened. The goal is to teach “21st-century skills” which refers to skills such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving that students need to learn to thrive in today’s world. We all need to reflect on how we learned best during school. Most of us remember the times when we were able to experiment, dissect or bake. We need to look back to the future. Marty McFly would STEAM ahead and we should, too.

Jenna Urban Jenna Urban is a mother, blogger, teacher, writer and bargain hunter. Twitter: @JennaRUrban


Student physical examination tips School time requires having all of the necessary supplies, clothing and gear ready for the year. In addition, preparing for a new school year often involves providing updated physical health information to the school administration. The requirements for health screenings and reporting may vary between school districts. Some physical examinations need to be conducted annually, while others may only need updating at certain intervals, such as when kids transition from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school. Updated physical forms also may be required at the start of a sports season. Health screenings are intended to detect problems that may interfere with learning. Physical exams may indicate issues that can hamper progress or shed light on undiagnosed problems that may require further assessment and necessitate customized learning plans to help students succeed. Visiting the doctor, nurse practitioner or a school-provided medical profes-

sional may not make school-aged children too happy. To make the process go smoothly, consider these suggestions. n Make appointments during school hours. After-school appointments are peak times for pediatric offices and medical clinics. Sign students out of school early to visit the doctor for medical exams. The staff likely will be less harried, and you can spend more time asking questions and completing forms. Schools may not count the absence if a doctor’s note is provided. n Don’t forget the forms. Take the right paperwork so that the staff can fill out what is necessary for the school, camp or sports league. n Know your insurance guidelines. Physical exams may be part of routine wellness visits. Insurance companies institute their own policies regarding how frequently physicals can be conducted (usually annually). Be sure to schedule the appointment accordingly. Physical examinations are on many parents’ back-to-school to-do lists. Certain strategies can make physicals easier for adults and children alike.

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How to identify and stop cyberbullying

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oday’s students have many new things to contend with as they navigate the school year. As a greater number of schools transition to providing lessons, homework and tests on digital devices, students spend much more time online. This connectivity can have many positive results. However, the same availability also opens up students of all ages to various dangers. One of these dangers is a more invasive form of bullying called cyberbully-

ing. The global organization DoSomething.org says nearly half of kids have been bullied online, with one in four saying it has happened more than once. Cyberbullying has grown as access to computers and devices that offer an online connection has grown. Bullying is now just as likely to occur online as it is on the playground. Cyberbullies may bully classmates through email, social media, instant messaging and other social applications. Since cyber-

bullying tends to target emotions and mental well-being, and reaches beyond the school campus into a student’s home, its impact can be even more serious. According to the Megan Meier Foundation, which campaigns against bullying, peer victimization during adolescence is associated with higher rates of depression, suicide ideation and suicide attempts. In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, according to data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Cyberbullying occurs in many different forms. Here are some types of cyberbullying educators and parents can look for if they suspect their students or children are being bullied. n Flaming: This is a type of bullying that occurs in an online forum or group conversation. It’s achieved by sending angry or insulting messages directly to the person. Flaming is similar to harassment, but harassment usually involves privately sent messages. n Outing: This type of bullying is a sharing of personal and private information about a person publicly. When

information has been disseminated throughout the internet, one has been outed. n Fraping: Fraping occurs when someone logs into another’s social media account and impersonates him or her. This could be a child or an adult impersonating the person and posting inappropriate content in his or her name. Sometimes this type of bullying is also called posing or catfishing. n Masquerading: Masquerading occurs when bullies create fake profiles so they can harass someone anonymously. The bully is likely someone the person being targeted knows well. n Exclusion: Sometimes direct targeting is not necessary. Students can be bullied simply by being deliberately left out, such as not being invited to parties or encouraged to participate in online conversations. Securing privacy online is one way to prevent cyberbullying attacks. Students also can be selective about who they share personal information with or whose social media friendships they accept. Thinking before posting and paying attention to language and tone can help curb cyberbullying as well. Students should stick together and report instances of cyberbullying if it becomes an issue.

Lake Lehman adds tech to improve learning By Phil Yacuboski

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tudents at the Lake Lehman School District in Luzerne County are about to embark on a virtual reality experience. The cost for 10 zSpace labs, developed by a California company, was approved by the school board earlier this summer at a cost of more than $23,000 over two years. “It’s a 3D and 4D scenario, which is built into the computer systems,” said superintendent Jim McGovern. The systems allow students to dissect images wearing special 3D glasses and using electronic pens. “The person who is at the station will be able to rotate and pull apart these images.” The stations will be used at the elementary and high school levels.

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Keeping school districts up to date with technology isn’t cheap. IDC Government Insights estimates the United States spent about $6.6 billion on education in the classroom, a figure that will likely grow as the demand increases. But how do smaller school districts keep up with the changes? “Everybody talks about cost,” said McGovern. “But in our mission statement, it says we have to inspire intellectual curiosity. Technology does that.” Every student on the junior and senior high school level receives a laptop, McGovern said, and about 80 percent of their textbooks are now online. “The money we have been saving every year on textbooks and paper paid for these labs,” he said.

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Technology costs across the state are certainly a challenge, according to Steve Robinson, president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). “It seems like you need to replace things much faster now because things become outdated so quickly,” he said. “In the old days, you had typewriters that were good for a while. Now, technology has to be updated constantly.” According to PSBA, there are more than 1.7 million public school K-12 students in 500 school districts across the state. In its 2016-2017 State of Education report, 84 percent of school administrators who were surveyed found that budgeting and lack of funding were their biggest concerns. The number rises two percentage points when asked about future challenges.

“School districts overall listed technology and equipment upgrades lower as compared to pension costs, but CTCs (career technology centers) and IUs (intermediate units), listed those higher,” said Robinson. “Districts have the need for that technology, but there’s some special technology needed at CTCs and IUs that a district might need because it’s higher advanced.” Regardless, he said, technology is very important to education. “Another important thing to keep in mind is also using it effectively,” he said. “It’s one thing to say we bought 500 computers, but you also have to have a plan in place as to how to get the most out of those with your students.”


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ummer is fast fading away. The school bells soon will be ringing calling kids everywhere back to the classroom. Most of us grandparents didn’t go back to school until after Labor Day. Most of us are probably longing to spend those last few days of summer with the grandkids at the beach, or shore, or maybe the county fair. If you’re old enough to be a grandparent, you’ve probably heard “Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits.” It’s highly likely, however, that most grandkids haven’t the faintest idea what “two bits” is. I’ve come to realize that even though you can’t get a shave and a haircut for 25 cents these days, the quarter is one of the most important coins a grandparent can carry. My observations generally apply to grandchildren 10 years old and younger. That’s the group that usually pleads for a ride on one of those tiny merrygo-rounds or horses, or fire engines that are strategically placed just outside strip mall stores. You’re bound to see a few of them while you’re doing your back-to-school shopping. Most all of those attractions are activated by quarters not just “two bits”

mind you, but multiple quarters. For 75 cents, your grandchild can vibrate or go up and down for anywhere between 90 seconds and two full minutes. That can get expensive! There are, of course, other attractions that lure the kids. Grandparents will find the crane machine especially appealing to the youngsters, and usually expensive for grandpa. The prizes look great. Usually, however, the cranes’ ability to actually pick them up and deliver them out of the machine seems a little lacking. Maybe it was really designed to teach the kids to “try, try, again.” So grandparents everywhere, change those bills into a nice collection of quarters while there are still a few days of summer left. They’re only kids for a while. Hope all your news is good.

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Family Calendar

Scranton. $10. traceyshope.com or TraceysHope.Events@gmail.com. Civil War Museum and Library Open House, Saturday, Aug. 19, noon to 3 p.m. Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library, lower level, Scranton City Hall, 340 N. WashPittston Tomato Festival, through ington Ave., Scranton. 570-606-1014. Woofstock 2017, Saturday, Aug. 19, Sunday, Aug. 20. Event features tomato1 to 6 p.m. Live bands, quality vendors, based contests, a tomato fight, sauce food, raffle baskets and more. Salt wars, scholarship pageant, food vendors, live entertainment, a 5K race and Springs State Park, Silver Creek Road, Franklin Forks. $10 advance/$15 at the parade. Pittston Tomato Festival Lot, gate. truefriendsawc.com. South Main Street, Pittston. 570-655Trolley to the Game: Baseball Ex1424 or pittstontomatofestival.com. cursion, Sunday, Aug. 20; Sunday, Aug. Carbondale Pioneer Days, Saturday, Aug. 19. Passengers board 9:30 a.m. 27. Trolley departs at 12:15 p.m. Game times are 1:05. Reservations required. Ride includes a free activity guide, Electric City Trolley Museum, 300 Cliff music and more. There also will be St., Scranton. $20 (includes ride, game display booths, entertainment and ticket and $2 voucher for concession plenty of food. Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St., Scranton. $5 stand)/$11 (ride only). 570-963-6590. 25th Anniversary Hook O’Malley adults/$4 seniors/free for children 12 5K Run/Walk, Sunday, Aug. 20, 10 and younger. 570-340-5200 or nps.gov/ a.m. Registration 8:15 - 9:45 a.m. All stea. donations benefit the American Cancer Discover Ricketts Hike, Saturday, Society. McDade Park, Bald Mountain Aug. 19, 9 - 11 a.m.; Saturday, Aug. 26, Road, Scranton. Registration: $20 until 9 - 11 a.m. Hiking the Highland Trail and Bear Walk Trail to see F.L.Ricketts Aug. 17/$25 day of event. 570-963-6764 or lackawannacounty.org. Falls. (Moderate hike — 2 miles) Park 160th Harford Fair, Monday, Aug. and meet at Beach Lot #2 by the bul21 through Saturday, Aug. 26. Enjoy difletin board closest to the road. Ricketts ferent types of entertainment includGlen State Park, 695 State Route 487, ing bands, magic and illusion, dancers Benton. 570-477-5675. Wayne County Historical Society and soloists, an auction and contests. Harford Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds Fifth annual Canal Festival, SaturHill, Harford. harfordfair.com. day, Aug. 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Features Solar Eclipse Viewing, Monday, traditional music, blacksmith, spinAug. 21, 1 p.m. The solar eclipse will ning, weaving, quilting, wood carving, be partial here (entering its maximum early trapping demonstrations and phase about 2:30 p.m.). Learn how to more. Delaware & Hudson’s Canal view it safely. Salt Springs State Park, Park, Route 6, Hawley. 570-253-3240 or Silver Creek Road, Franklin Forks. WayneHistoryPA.org. Donations accepted. 570-945-3239 or Car and Bike Show, Saturday, Aug. friendsofsaltspringspark.org. 19, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Register online. McDade Park, Bald Mountain Road,

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Greene-Dreher-Sterling Fair, Friday, Aug. 25 through Wednesday, Aug. 30; Friday, Sept. 1 through Sunday, Sept. 3. Dozens of rides, vendors, activities, exhibits and performances will be available. Greene-Dreher-Sterling Fairgrounds, Route 191, Newfoundland. $45 Mega pass/$30 week pass/$6 Monday through Thursday regular pass/$8 Friday through Sunday regular pass. 570-676-4047 or gdsfair.com. Steamtown National Historic Site Entrance Fee-Free Days, Friday, Aug. 25; Saturday, Sept. 30. The railroad museum waives its daily entrance fees on select holidays throughout the year. Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St., Scranton. 570-340-5200 or nps. gov/stea. Wally Lake Fest, Friday, Aug. 25 through Sunday, Aug. 27. Live music, boat parade, open air markets, boat show, motorcycle ride and more. Lake Wallenpaupack, Route 6, Hawley. hawleywallenpaupackcc.com/. Family Carnival, Friday, Aug. 25 through Saturday, Aug. 26, 4 - 7 p.m. Activities include food, games, prizes, face painting, a puppet show and more. Grace Bible Church, 130 University Drive, Dunmore. 570-342-5651 or gracebiblepa.com. Guided Downtown Scranton Walking Tours, Saturday, Aug. 26; Saturday, Sept. 9; Saturday, Sept. 23. Tours focus on the architecture and history of some of the city’s beautiful commercial and residential buildings such as Lackawanna County Courthouse Square, Lackawanna Avenue, the Gothic District and the lower portion of the Hill Section. Reservations are required by the Thursday prior to the event. Downtown Scranton. Free. 570-344-3841 or lackawannahistory@ gmail.com.

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Summer Excursions: Tobyhanna, Saturday, Aug. 26, 11 a.m. Destination may also include local music or entertainment. Light refreshments and snacks available for purchase. Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St., Scranton. $34 adults (ages 16 to 61)/$29 seniors (ages 62 and older)/$22 children (ages 6 to 15)/free for children 5 and younger (ticket required). 570340-5200 or nps.gov/stea. Farm to Fork, Saturday, Aug. 26, 6 p.m. Proceeds benefit United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA’s Community Health Department. Spring Hills Farm, Route 524, Dalton. $100. 570-346-0759 or uncnepa.org/events. Second Bob McGoff Memorial 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk, Sunday, Aug. 27. Registration, 7:30 - 8:45 a.m. Race, 9 a.m. James P. Connors Park, Orchard Street, Scranton. Registration: $20 advance/$25 day of run. scranton.gov. Fourth annual Children’s Charity Car Show, Sunday, Aug. 27, 9 a.m. Proceeds benefit Children’s Advocacy Center. Nay Aug Park, 500 Arthur Ave., Scranton. $5 per show car. 570-906-4573 or scrantonpa.gov/nayaug_park.html. Summer Excursions: Moscow, Sunday, Aug. 27, 12:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 3, 12:30 p.m. Light refreshments and snacks available for purchase. Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St., Scranton. $24 adults (ages 16 to 61)/$22 seniors (ages 62 and older)/$17 children (ages 6 to 15)/free for children 5 and younger (ticket required). 570-3405200 or nps.gov/stea. Friends of the Pittston Library, Monday, Aug. 28, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m. New members always welcome. Pittston Memorial Library, 47 Broad St., Pittston. 570-654-9565 or pittstonlibrary.com. La Festa Italiana, Friday, Sept. 1 through Monday, Sept. 4. Enjoy more than 80 vendors offering great Italian food and continuous live entertainment. Lackawanna County Courthouse Square, 200 N. Washington Ave., Scranton. Free admission. lafestaitaliana. org. Railfest 2017, Saturday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 3. The year’s theme, “Transition from Steam to Diesel,” celebrates past, present and future. Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St., Scranton. 570-3405200 or nps.gov/stea.


Student Loan Debt

Find balance with extracurricular activities

M

By Phil Yacuboski

N

ow more than ever, Pennsylvania students are leaving college with higher amounts of debt. A new report by the Project on Student Debt found that after four years in college, students left with an average of $34,798 in debt. The report looked at colleges and universities all across the state. In 2015, the average debt carried by students from The University of Scranton was $40,640. Seventy-one percent of college students in Pennsylvania have college debt, ranking the state third in the nation. There are ways to minimize that debt, but that means talking with the school to navigate the best way to finance a college education. Parents should apply for financial aid as early as Oct. 1 of the year before their child starts attending school, according to Ari Benitez, director of student financial aid, East Stroudsburg University. After parents apply for any kinds of grants and aid, which Benitez encourages everyone to apply for regardless of income, then comes the loan process. “The number one option for parents is the PLUS loan,” Benitez said. Parents can apply for the entire cost of an education, including books and gas money. It’s a fixed rate that is currently a little less than 5 percent. It doesn’t look at your income-todebt ratio, but borrowers must have good credit. “Most schools provide a payment plan option to parents who don’t want to take out a loan if they feel they can handle the balance.” Benitez said some parents choose to use credit cards to pay the balance, although she said it’s not recommended. “We’ve had parents that have had

to borrow $3,000 a year and that’s a lot for them and we’ve also had parents who borrowed a lot more,” she said. “We’re finding that in our industry, very few parents are ready for college. You shouldn’t be thinking about your child’s college education when they are a senior in high school. If you do and you’re unprepared, it’s going to be a struggle.” According to the Project on Student Debt, 80 percent of students graduate from ESU with debt, with 25 perent of those students carrying private loan debt. “The best thing that parents can do is start a 529 plan, that is a longterm savings account for college education and it is generally tax deferred,” said Matthew P. Prosseda, president and CEO of First Keystone Community Bank. “The best advice is to begin saving as soon as you can. It doesn’t matter how much you’re saving, just save something.” Pennsylvania’s 529 Investment Plan is managed by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. Prosseda said some parents may choose to borrow money for education by borrowing against their home equity. “That can provide a tax advantage for parents,” he said. Prosseda said parents should consider the value of an education and know when too much is “too much” when it comes to the price of a college education. “Compare the total cost of the education (tuition, room and board) at different schools and try and determine where the best value is coming from,” he said. “Many state schools are less expensive than private schools and the quality of the education is often very similar. Do your research.”

any high schools, colleges and universities emphasize their goals of producing well-rounded students. Extracurricular activities teach students important life lessons, provide them opportunities to socialize and often stimulate their minds and bodies in ways that differ from the stimulation provided in the classroom. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that, in 2014, 57 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 participate in at least one after-school extracurricular activity. Children are more likely to participate in sports than clubs or lessons, such as music, dance and language, but each of these activities can be beneficial to students’ development. Students who participate in extracurricular activities may want to limit their participation to 20 hours per week. This is according to a group of professors from Stanford University and Villanova University who have been collecting data on the issue since 2007. In their report, “Extracurricular Activity in High-Performing School Contexts: Stress Buster, Booster or Buffer?,” Jerusha Conner and Sarah Miles found that 87 percent of kids who would be considered to have packed schedules were perfectly happy unless they were doing more than four hours a day. The over-scheduling hypothesis may be overhyped. This is the concern that too much organized activity participation leads to poor developmental outcomes. This hypothesis also suggests that hectic schedules also undermine family functioning, detract from schoolwork and possibly increase the risk of copycat behaviors and excessive competitiveness. However, in the study “The Over-Scheduling Hypothesis Revisited: Intensity of Organized Activity Participation During Adolescence and Young Adult Outcomes,” researchers J.L. Mahoney and Andrea Vest determined that, controlling

for demographic factors and baseline adjustment, extracurricular intensity was a significant predictor of positive outcomes and unrelated to indicators of problematic adjustment (e.g., psychological distress, substance use, antisocial behavior) at young adulthood. Even though extracurricular activities are largely positive — even when schedules are packed — parents need to be aware of the diminishing returns of too many activities. This is something called the threshold effect. Benefits from extracurriculars can level off when too many activities are being juggled. If a child is experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness or depression, or seems overly stressed, it could be time to reduce students’ time spent doing structured activities. It’s essential that families use the cues given by kids to assess what students can handle. And children should be encouraged to be honest with their parents about their extracurricular activities as well.

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Avoid helicopter parenting

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elicopter parenting, sometimes called lawnmower parenting or bulldoze parenting, refers to a style of parenting in which parents are overly focused on the lives of their children, taking extreme responsibility for their children’s experiences. As discovered during the study “Helicopter Parents: Examining the Impact of Highly Involved Parents on Student Engagement and Educational Outcomes,” by Rick Shoup, Robert M. Gonyea and George D. Kuh, 38 percent of high-school freshmen and 29 percent of seniors in the United States said their parents intervened on their behalf to solve problems either very often or sometimes. Helicopter parenting may seem like parents are simply being overprotective, but such an approach might have a serious impact. Many therapists say that parents need to get over being overly involved; otherwise, they risk potential psychological damage to their children. Adults who are helicopter parents may have good intentions, but they may end up hurting their kids’ decision-making

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ability and self-esteem. Finding the right balance between offering assistance and hovering can be challenging. Recognizing the following signs of potential helicopter parenting is the first step for adults to then find ways to give children more breathing room: n Paying adult children’s bills or offering extensive financial assistance. n Doing chores for children that are age-appropriate and fully within kids’ abilities to handle. n Calling teachers or professors to negotiate grades. n Texting or calling a child constantly for updates on his or her day. n Using mobile phone technology or social media to spy or keep close tabs on kids’ interactions at all times. n Failing to let children make their own mistakes, including getting poor grades or missing assignments. Altering helicopter parenting behaviors can take time, but it is possible, and kids can benefit greatly from such changes.

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Want healthier kids? Get a pet

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f youngsters have been eyeing fuzzy kittens or boisterous puppies at nearby shelters or pet stores, parents may want to give in to those cries for a family pet. Pets are added responsibilities, but the health benefits associated with pet ownership may be well worth the investment of time and effort. Caring for a pet is sometimes viewed as a childhood rite of passage, but there’s much more to the experience than just learning responsibility. Experts say a child’s emotional, cognitive, physical and social development can be enhanced through interaction with a family pet. Studies continue, but the effects of family pets on children was heavily researched by developmental psychologist Gail F. Melson in 2003. Melson looked at literature on childanimal relationships and found that children who had pets were better able to understand biology and children who could turn to pets for unconditional emotional support were less anxious and withdrawn than their peers without family pets to turn to. Data from a small study conducted by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University reported that adolescents who had animal experience were more likely to see themselves as important contributors to communities and more likely to take on leadership roles. Pets also can help children develop into well-rounded individuals. Playing with a pet requires children to engage in physical activity and can help stimulate motor skills. An English study

conducted in 2010 and published in the American Journal of Public Health found that children from dog-owning families spent more time in light or moderate to vigorous physical activity and recorded higher levels of activity counts per minute than kids whose families did not own a dog. Pets may help with allergies and respiratory ailments as well. A 2012 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics discovered that children who have early contact with cats and dogs have fewer respiratory infections and ear infections and need shorter courses of antibiotics than children who have not had contact with pets. A study from Dennis Ownby, M.D., a pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, found that having multiple pets decreases a child’s risk of developing certain allergies. He found that the children who were exposed to two or more dogs or cats as babies were less than half as likely to develop common allergies as kids who had no pets in the home. Pets also may foster social interactions, which can benefit children who are shy. Inviting others over to meet pets can help children make friends and find others with similar interests. Children may also confide in pets and develop their self-esteem. Studies have indicated that the type of pet a family has, whether it’s horses, dogs, snakes, etc., does not matter, as all companion animals have the potential to benefit children.


excitement for the possibilities; fear of the editing — and wonder if they’ll get it right. Will this character look the same? Will that scene play out the same way that I pictured it? I often recommend students read the book before seeing its visual counterpart because it will reinforce what she/he has read. Most times the reader will reconnect with the source material afterward, which is exactly what I did once I saw the series. Because I hadn’t read the book in quite a while, I watched the shows and read each tape afterward (the book uses cassette tape sides in place of chapters). I read with new eyes, as a wife, a mother and a seasoned teacher. The story still resoBy Maria Voytko nated with the same anxiety I originally about their children watching a series that brought the delicate issue of suicide felt as Clay first receives Hannah’s tapes. into their homes. Ironically, this popular But now as a parent, I thought about how This past summer, a handful of book has been in many homes since 2007. much high school has changed since parents asked for my approval for their I’ve been there, how my children will This book has been removed from some middle school child to read higher-level be thrust into that same world Hannah high school shelves, but libraries should books in fulfillment of their summer so wanted to leave. And I thought about not only mirror the curriculum, they reading. This happens frequently when a how terrifying it must be for children to should mirror life. book was recently made into a movie or go through this alone. Many adults, upon TV series. My approval is based on readfirst learning of this show, have been “Censorship is the child of fear and ing levels and online quiz availability, outraged by the graphic nature of this the father of ignorance.” not content. However, some of the books series. Some worry about the — Laurie Halse Anderson, author contained mature content geared toward show’ss ‘glamorizing’ nature of high school students, and I wanted to inde. However, the book is suicid The following is form the parents. My response includes hing but. Both the show anyth from a teacher who my opinion, but I am very clear when I and the t book have provided has “Thirteen Reasonss state they, as parents, have the final say. ources for crisis lines and reso Why” on her summer Depending on the content, I somecide awareness. Asher suic reading list: times recommend to the parent that they mself has been advocathim also read the book. I have a few friends g for anti-bullying for ing “I first read Jay Ash hwho have a continuous parent-child book ears. ‘Thirteen Reasons ye er’s debut novel ‘Thirt een club, especially for titles that contain isWhy ,’ in both mediums, W Reasons Why’ in 2008. sues that are delicate. The books provide should be taken in s I was looking for youn ng an opportunity to talk about important context and discussed adult books that studen nts issues that may not happen organically. thoroughly, and parents would find both engaging On a side note, it’s a great way to reinare the key to that. and meaningful. After finishforce what was read. Teenage years can ing the book in one sitt ting, I “As a parent, if you get the chance to leave parents exasperthought that the story , though read the same book, it’s a chance to talk ated. But still, it’s vital a edgy , would be perfect for my about the difficult topics that teenagers s step in and take part in that parents freshmen students. Nin ne years go through. Normally, these topics are as many of their children’s lives aspects later, I still feel that way . Clay Cla uncomfortable but by talking about the as they can, and reading is no exception. Jensen’s journey through choices made by characters it opens Reading a book with a teen or simulHannah Baker’s downward spiral gives avenues to explore your own teenagers’ taneously can give both something to us as readers the opportunity to reflect thoughts and feelings and whether they discuss (believe me, this book lends for on our lives and the decisions we make. would have made the same decision. I many discussions). It will give parents For high schoolers suffocating in an age always say it’s better to let them read and of social media, the lesson of this book is an opportunity to take on taboo topics, experience bad decisions through the still as pertinent as ever: your words and like sex, drugs, suicide, and bullying, characters than on their own.” and to guide the conversation. Sharing actions affect those around you.” — Mrs. Taylor, reading teacher and in a reading experience will give parents “Now that the book has been adapted parent. and kids a new bond to forge and take into a Netflix series, ‘Thirteen Reasons away thoughtful stories and meaningful Why’ is gaining new traction, some good Earlier this year, Netflix released a conversation that parents often yearn for. and some bad. For a reader, seeing a book series based on Jay Asher’s “Thirteen So even if a book/series like ‘Thirteen on screen is one of the hardest things Reasons Why” and it created quite a conReasons Why’ comes along and seems to do. You go through the emotions — troversy. Parents became uncomfortable

FAMILY READS

For the Love of Books

too graphic or too bold for kids, taking part in that experience can be beneficial for both children and parents alike. Adults can even learn a thing or two from this book.” The LRJ Foundation provides assistance to local school districts including preventative measures, warning signs and treatment options: lrjfoundation. com Here is a message from Christine DeSousa, MA, LPC, NCC of The LRJ Foundation and a high school educator: “Teenagers today face a variety of issues that previous generations are not familiar with. For example, 24-hour access to social media and the ability to instantly give or receive virtual praise and/or criticism of self and others has given our teens mixed messages about how to genuinely relate to the world. Anxiety diagnoses have risen in teens as they face increased pressures at school, both with peers and academics where an A grade is no longer good enough. Parents of teens struggle with what to do because these issues are new with the rise of technology, and as all generations learn to manage and balance the pros and cons of being constantly connected to the world at the tips of our fingers.”

These examples only scratch the surface and this discussion does not end here. And neither should the discussion of mental health and suicide awareness. The book/movie at best brings awareness to a stigmatized epidemic. Talk with your children on how to cope with their perceptions of teenage life. Be compassionate with yourself as we all navigate through a time where suicide among adolescents is at its highest. This is our time to make a difference. Keep the discussion going! A tip to parents: take notice of what your children are reading in addition to what they are watching. If the content offers an opportunity to talk, seize the moment.

Maria Voytko Maria Voytko is the K-12 district librarian for Riverside School District in Taylor.

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