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2 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

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Childhood Development

COVER: A mom and her daughter enjoy the opening day of the Edward P. Thomas Pool located in Baker Park on Fleming Avenue. PHOTO BY Bill Green

Making Chores Not Such a Chore C hores can play a vital role in kids’ development. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children can learn time management skills by doing their chores, which also can teach them how to balance Learning to work and play time. successfully Kids can apply those lessons complete chores throughout their childhood and can help boost a into adulthood. Giving kids chores child’s selfalso benefits them by teaching confidence. them to accept responsibility within the family and providing them with an opportunity to be successful. Parents may have a long to-do list, and it can be tempting to share that workload with youngsters. However, the AACAP noted the importance of picking age-appropriate chores for children. Children given chores more suited for older youngsters may fail at completing those tasks. Such failure may set a negative precedent that adversely affects kids’ self-esteem and makes them reluctant to do their chores in the future. On the flip side, the AACAP noted that picking an age-appropriate chore for children will increase their likelihood of success, which can boost their hood and into adolescence. confidence and make them more likely The AACAP offered the following to approach them with enthusiasm as age-based chore suggestions: they navigate their way through child2- to 3-year-olds: Children in this

jars of pasta sauce or milk and juice. Children in this age group also can start to dress themselves, though the AACAP recommended parents offer help when necessary so kids do not become discouraged. 4- to 5-year-olds: Four- and 5-yearolds can help feed pets and make their beds. In addition, children in this age group can help clear the table after meals, but parents should be sure to take sharp objects like knives to the sink before kids begin helping. 6- to 7-year-olds: This is a good age for children to begin taking on more complicated chores, including wiping tables and counters, putting laundry away and sweeping floors. 7- to 9-year-olds: Children in this age group can help their parents prepare meals and even pack their own lunch for school. The responsibility of loading and unloading the dishwasher also can be given to kids between the ages of 7 and 9. 10- to 11-year-olds: More difficult tasks like changing the sheets on their beds, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms and doing yard work are appropriate for kids in this age group. 12-years-old and older: Children 12 age group can put their toys away and or older can help take care of younger help put groceries away as well. Stick to siblings and pitch in with grocery shopgroceries that can be dropped without ping and running errands. breaking or spilling, which rules out -Metro

Questions to Spark Effective Communication The benefits of effective home communication are numerous. According to Hearing and Speech-Language Services, regular and intentional communication with a child is one of the most effective tools parents and caregivers can use to foster healthy development, paving the way for the children to be effective communicators as they grow and interact with others. Regular communication can foster a strong sense of self-esteem, improve problem-solving abilities, decrease problem behaviors and prepare kids to voice their opinion on important issues. These talking points can help get the

conversation flowing and require specific answers instead of vague generalities:

•What has been the best part of the week so far?

•Tell me something interesting you learned at school (work) today. •What is the funniest joke you have ever heard? •If you could be anyone or anything

in the world, what would you be and why?

•If you won a lot of money, what would you spend it on?

•What do you do when you see

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someone being teased?

•If you could fly for a day, where

•Name a quality of yours that you are

would you go?

most proud of.

•If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be?

•What is your favorite childhood memory?

•Where in the world would you like to live most?

•Are there things that scare you? If so, what?

•What would your superhero power be?

-Metro

August 2021 | PARENTS, KIDS & COMMUNITY 3


Childhood Development

How Much Physical Activity Does Your Child Need?

C

hildren have a seemingly endless supply of energy. Channeling that energy into something positive can benefit kids’ minds and bodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends various amounts of daily physical activity for children depending on their ages and abilities. Adhering to these recommendations is especially important in the wake of what many public health officials fear has become an epidemic of childhood obesity in many nations. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 13.7 million children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese. Routine physical activity can help children maintain healthy weights, and it also plays a part in good mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, children between the ages of 6 and 18 who exercise regularly tend to have lower levels of depression, stress and psychological distress. Those findings, part of a 2019 study published in the journal Sports Medicine, reflect the ways exercise affects the mind. And the mental benefits don’t stop there, as the study also found that youngsters who are physically active have higher levels of positive self-image, life satisfaction and psychological well-being than those who are not. The amount of physical activity children need each month depends on their age, and the AAP recommends the following age-based guidelines. Infants: The AAP advises that infants get at least 30 minutes of tummy time and other interactive play throughout the day. Toddlers: Toddlers can be tough to keep up with, and parents can channel that energy into something positive by ensuring their kids get at least three hours of physical activity every day. Free play outside and daily neighborhood walks are among appropriate physical activities for this age group.

KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS ON HAND • Nuts and their butters: Nuts are nutritional powerhouses that provide filling protein, fiber, healthy fats and many vitamins and minerals. •Popcorn: Plain, air-popped popcorn is full of fiber, making it a filling snack. Without toppings like butter, popcorn can be low in calories. • Fruit: Fresh fruit, frozen fruit, fruit purees and dried fruit are musthaves. Place a bowl of fresh fruit in reach of kids so it can be their first snacking choice. Satisfy sweet cravings with cups of applesauce.

Preschoolers: Three-plus hours of physical activity, including one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise, is recommended for preschool-aged youngsters. Tumbling, throwing and catching are some of the activities the AAP recommends.

4 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

•S  liced vegetables: When preparing meals, slice vegetables, including carrots, celery, cucumbers, and sweet peppers. Later they can be dunked into homemade dips for an easy treat. • Hummus: Made from nutrientdense chick peas, hummus is both filling and tasty. Enhance with various different flavors—from garlic to ginger to even chocolate for a dessert variety—to keep kids coming back for more.

Elementary school students: School-aged children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. The AAP recommends giving kids in this age group ample opportunities for free play, but also notes that organized sports fo-

cused on fun can be great outlets. Parents can speak with their children’s pediatricians about appropriate muscle/ bone strengthening activities, which the AAP recommends kids for kids in this age group three days a week. Middle school students: Students in this age group need the same amount and types of exercise that elementary school students need. But the AAP advises parents to guide children toward physical activities that encourage socialization and to avoid having kids this age specialize in a single sport. Teenagers: Teenagers need an hour or more of physical activity most days of the week. Muscle/bone strengthening activities should be included three days per week. Activities that encourage socialization and competition are beneficial to teenagers’ development. Physical activity can benefit kids in myriad ways and should be a vital component of their daily lives. –Metro

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August 2021 | PARENTS, KIDS & COMMUNITY 5


FAMILY FUN

How & Why You Should

Play with Your Kids by Erica Silverstein

A

fter a harrowing day of work, summer camp, activity juggling and dinner prep, the last thing I want to do with my free time is strategize the takeover of a large continent. Yet, my 10-year-old son has finally looked up from his computer. “Mom, will you play Axis & Allies with me?” No, I do not want to play Nazi Germany in a world-conquering board game. My computer-weary eyes can’t bear to squint at teeny plastic ships to determine which is the battleship and which the destroyer. When I counter with an activity I would prefer—playing Kingdomino, doing a puzzle—he would rather read. This is the daily standoff in our house. My son and I can’t agree because we have opposite interests. He wants to play board games that replicate drawn-out historical wars, with instruction manuals as long and complex as a PhD thesis. I’m more comfortable drawing crazy stick figures in a game of Pictionary. I’d rather dress up in superhero garb and chase imaginary bad guys around the backyard, but he’d rather shoot real people (namely, me) with Nerf or laser-tag guns. I love to hike; he’s happiest indoors. From talking to other parents of elementary-school-age kids who would rather gouge their eyes out than play Roblox, Barbies or Risk, I know I’m not alone in resisting playtime. Here’s what the experts suggest we do to connect with our kids in a way that works for us. Shift your mindset The point of play for parents) isn’t to have fun. “We play with our children to spend quality time with them, but also to understand the world through their eyes,” said Kenneth Ginsburg, director of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This is about

Metro

In the long term, your involvement in your kids’ interests will keep the lines of communication open as your children reach adolescence.

connecting on their playing field, and that will pay off dividends.” In the short term, the strong parental bond formed by play helps to elicit better behavior. In the long term, your involvement in your kids’ interests will keep the lines of communication open as your children reach adolescence. When you reframe your expectations to understand that play is the parenting version of eating your vegetables, the chore becomes palatable. “Kids are frustrated that they get the leftovers [of their parents’ energy],” said Kevin B. Hull, a licensed counselor who specializes in play therapy. “Set aside your judgment and expectations, like the need to do dishes. It’s an investment in your child’s emotional well-being.” Set boundaries You don’t have to say yes whenever

6 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

your child asks, according to experts. “It’s unhealthy for parents to drop everything,” Ginsburg said. Tell your children you’re excited to play with them, but it will have to be in an hour, after you’ve finished your work. Pick a time when you have more to give, and set limits so games don’t go on for hours. Setting expectations that Nerf wars will commence every Saturday at 2 p.m. or the dress-up closet will open for a half-hour twice weekly gives kids the security of knowing that family playtime will happen. It also generates added incentive for them to finish their homework or chores, so they’ll get more special time with you. When I find my attention wandering from resource manipulation and knight purchases, I announce that we have 10 minutes left to play, and I set an alarm.

These limits appear to satisfy my son, and I feel relief that an end is in sight. Connect through words, observation Does your child speak ad nauseam about Minecraft or Pokémon? Let your kid be the expert lecturer while you listen and ask questions. “Have them explain the game to you, which empowers them with a role reversal in which they are the expert and you the novice,” Hull said. As long as you remember a few key facts to ask relevant questions or mention later, you can let your attention wander with no ill effects. Similarly, you can spur connection when you’re an active observer of your child’s play, rather than a participant. “Let them tell the story of what they’re doing,” Hull said, whether that’s describing their attack plan while you watch them play Fortnite or taking you on a

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In the long term, your involvement in your kids’ interests will keep the lines of communication open as your children approach adolescence.

GETTY

Make some time for your child’s favorite activity, and spend time immersed in their world.

tour of the city they’ve built with blocks. Dinner discussions in my house are a litany of details about the latest Minecraft snapshot or Roblox tycoon game acquisitions. “Tell me more about that Nether portal,” I say. My son’s face lights up, and he speaks animatedly for five minutes—a refreshing change from the grunts and eye-rolls I get when I initiate the conversation or ask him about his day.

speaker who hosts the “Your Parenting Long Game” podcast. “Say, ‘We’re going for a walk, and I totally get that you don’t want to go, because walks are so boring and you have no interest in nature.’” Then help them brainstorm ways to make that activity more bearable.

Offer an alternative To find common ground, Bailey recommended using the “dump” strategy. Dump all your ideas of fun activities onto a list, then have your child do the Take turns choosing the activity same. Create a Venn diagram of the acChildren need to learn that relationships involve both give and take. If they ex- tivities that overlap to find play options pect their parents to battle with Beyblades acceptable for everyone. You can also get a little creative, Hull for an hour, they, in turn, will have to join said. If your child wants an all-out Nerf their family at the museum or ballgame. Lunchtime walks are a battle that my battle and you hate getting hit with foam bullets, set up toys on the deck son and I fight. “First, recognize your kid’s feeling of frustration,” said Rachel rail for target practice. Your child gets the fun of a shooting contest, and you Bailey, a parenting specialist and A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post

can avoid getting hit. Plus, you may discover, like we did, that it’s incredibly satisfying to shoot foam bullets at a trampoline.. Redirecting can be great for parents, but Ginsburg recommended taking at least some time for your child’s favorite activity. The time you spend getting to know your children on their own terms will not only foster an improved relationship, but it will also allow you to stay engaged with them now through adolescence. Work on yourself “It doesn’t matter how many parenting tools you have if you don’t work on your own depletion,” Bailey said. At heart, our struggles are not related to our kids; parents are too exhausted to have the energy needed for play. Can you get help with housework or carve

out a half hour of daily alone time so you’re more invigorated? Even if it’s not possible to get relief from the daily grind, Bailey said the most important thing is to not feel guilty over your lack of interest in play. Negative talk doesn’t help you. “Instead, plan to do something different you can handle.” For me, that’s been watching Hotel Transylvania movies with my son, snuggled up under his favorite fuzzy blankets. I’ve also sought out new board games in an attempt to find one we both like. I want to remain a safe harbor for my son, whether that’s during the coronavirus pandemic or the precious late elementary school years, before hormones take over my sweet boy. If safety means attacking his battleships with my bomber plane, this reluctant recruit is reporting for duty. –The Washington Post

August 2021 | PARENTS, KIDS & COMMUNITY 7


FAMILY FUN

Museum lets you

Play with Words By Vicky Hallett

“F

reshen up.” “Powder one’s nose.” “Tinkle.” Washington, D.C.’s newest museum has these phrases painted on the restroom walls. It’s potty humor with a purpose: to remind you that there are a bazillion ways to express yourself. Every room in Planet Word celebrates heeding that other urge—a desire to communicate, which turns baby babbles into complex languages that let you deliver punchlines and powerful speeches. Expect it to be kind of noisy, promises founder Ann Friedman. “You can talk to exhibits,” she says. “You have to use your voice and get involved.” For an interactive light show about the development of English, you’ll find microphones in front of a 20-foot-tall wall covered with 1,000 words. A voice asks questions and flashes responses on the wall based on the words people choose to call out—shout “hazard” to learn how it came from the Arabic for “dice.” (Hint: Playing a game of dice can be risky.) You can get pointers on pronunciation by chatting via iPad with videos of cheerful language ambassadors, who coach you through rolling your Rs in Spanish or making the three kinds of clicks in isiZulu, spoken in South Africa. There are more than two-dozen lessons to choose from, including one on how deaf people communicate differently in each country. (That’s right, American Sign Language isn’t the same as British Sign Language.) Friedman thinks kids will particularly like talking to Noa, a 12-year-old girl from Israel, who explains the origins of the Hebrew word for “ice cream.” Young people play an important role throughout Planet Word. The “Lend Me Your Ears” exhibit, which invites

Washington Post photo by Bill O’Leary

A microphone is in front of the 20-foot-tall Talking Word Wall interactive exhibit at Planet Word in Washington, D.C.

IF YOU GO: What: Planet Word Where: 925 13th St., Washington, D.C. (McPherson Square Metro) When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays How much: Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $15. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, admission is limited to 25 visitors per hour. Advance passes are recommended, although a limited number will be available for walk-ups. For more information: Call 202-9313139 or visit planetwordmuseum.org.

visitors to sit in front of a teleprompter and practice public speaking, features the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech by Malala Yousafzai, who was

8 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

just 17 years old at the time. The 2019 D.C. youth poet laureate, Gabriela Orozco, is the subject of one of the videos in “Words Matter,” an exhibit about how language can change your life and shape your identity. (Visitors can chime in by writing and recording their own messages.) “Who experiments with words? It’s kids,” says Friedman, a former reading teacher who appreciates that children and teens tend to create vocabulary. Make-believe and magic swirl around the museum’s “Harry Potter”-ish library, where you can place any book on a special desk and an animated film about it appears. Speak to mirrors on the wall, and they reveal miniature 3D interpretations of scenes from “The Phantom Tollbooth” and other beloved novels. And look for the bookshelf that’s actually the door to a

secret poetry nook. There’s more wonder to behold in “Word Worlds,” where you can digitally “paint” over a panoramic image of a nature scene and cityscape. Instead of colors, you dip your brush into adjectives or words used to describe things. So “nocturnal” turns the sky dark and transforms a bird into an owl, while “hibernal” blankets everything in snow. “Wouldn’t it be cool to go to school here?” Friedman asks. Planet Word’s red brick building, designed by architect Adolf Cluss, was originally a public school for boys and girls when it opened 151 years ago. Just a few years later, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell tested another idea from the roof: the “photophone,” which used light beams to send sound. What was his message? Words, of course. –The Washington Post

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THE DIGITAL WORLD

Monitor Social Media Challenges

S

ocial media challengple participating in a video. The Like other es are a relatively reperson in the foreground looks cent phenomenon, in a mirror while the person aspects of social the most notable in the background dances to media, challenges of which may be the 2014 Ice Drake’s “Nonstop.” When the Bucket Challenge that helped song reaches the lyrics, “Look, have a potential to raise awareness about I just flipped the switch, I don’t the disease ALS. Participants know nobody else that’s doin’ dark side. poured buckets of ice water over this,” the lights go out, and when their heads and the heads of others. they’re back on, the people in the The stunt went viral and raised $115 video have switched places. Some million for the ALS Association and more also switch their clothes. A previous social media challenge known as the than $220 million around the world for ALS research, Bird Box Challenge involved people being inspired according to the association. Since then, many different challenges have by Netflix’s meme-worthy original movie “Bird Box.” emerged, most of which have become lighthearted Individuals blindfolded themselves while attempting and entertaining ways to escape boredom or unite daily tasks. people in support of a good cause. Newer challenges on the popular TikTok app have people replicating dance moves or lip-synching to Fun challenges popular songs. The Until Tomorrow challenge asks Last year, singer and musician Drake started the people to post embarrassing photos of themselves. Flip The Switch challenge, which entailed two peoSee SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES, 14

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How to Manage Kids’ Screen Time

The average American has access to more than 10 connected devices in his or her household, according to a 2020 survey from the Statista Research Department. While adults may be capable of governing their screen time, kids may not be so disciplined. Devices can be valuable learning tools for young students, but the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that excessive media use can put children at risk of obesity, lost sleep, addiction and violence, so it’s imperative that parents emphasize balance and moderation as they negotiate their children’s device usage. In an effort to help parents establish and maintain that balance, the AAP has developed its Family Media Plan, which parents can use to customize guidelines for screen time in their households. A family media plan can help parents ensure their children aren’t spending too much time staring at screens and it can serve as a valuable means to monitoring youngsters’ online lives, potentially alerting moms and dads to instances of bullying or other dangerous situations.

The following are some guidelines parents can follow as they customize their family media plans. Set screen-free times and zones. Establish a time of day when devices cannot be used, and areas of the home where they should not be taken. For example, by designating children’s bedrooms as screen-free zones, parents can make sure kids aren’t spending all of their time staring at their devices when they’re behind closed bedroom doors. Research apps and programs. The AAP recommends parents research the age-appropriateness and ratings of apps and programs before installing them on devices. Speak with children’s teachers to determine which apps and programs kids will need for school. Read fellow parents’ ratings before installing any entertainment apps and programs on devices children will use. Use tech to monitor tech. “Family Sharing” capabilities on Apple products allow parents to manage devices and screen usage across the household. Parents can add chil-

See SCREEN TIME, 14 August 2021 | PARENTS, KIDS & COMMUNITY 9


THE DIGITAL WORLD

Handy Apps for Busy Families

O

rganization-based smartphone apps can help keep busy families organized and manage their schedules. The following apps may make a hectic page more manageable. Cozi: Cozi is a website and mobile app designed with family organization in mind. It’s earned the distinction of being a three-time Mom’s Choice Award recipient. The Mom’s Choice Awards program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of items from more than 60 countries. Within the Cozi app, appointments and activity calendars are kept all in one place; school events and class schedules can be tracked; grocery lists can be managed and shared; and to-do lists can be shared as well. Any.do: For people who thrive in list-making, this app is an ideal fit. Users make daily checklists and break down bigger projects into smaller tasks. Paprika: This is one of the many cooking idea and meal planners apps. It enables users to cut recipes from blog posts and save them easily. Users can even create grocery lists within the app. That list can be shared with the family so anyone out doing the shopping can pick up items. Genius Scan: Keeping track of receipts, important documents and other paperwork can be challenging. Genius Scan is a smart scanner for a phone that makes

10 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

Are you looking for educational websites that will allow your child to have fun while they learn? Here are four options that offer games, fun facts, quizzes and more.

>>1. Funbrain

Geared toward kids ages 4 to 14, this website offers hundreds of games, books and videos to help students develop their math, reading and problem-solving skills. Visit funbrain.com.

>>2. #MetKids

This website features an interactive map that allows children to explore New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts. In addition to learning fun facts about art, they can watch behind-the-scenes videos and use a time machine to discover ancient artworks. Visit metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids.

it easy to quickly scan a document on the go and export files as multi-page PDFs or JPEGs. Keepy: Many parents keep a storage container of their children’s artwork. But storing years’ worth of school projects can take up valuable space. Keepy allows people to save childhood photos and artwork in an organized manner. Dropbox: Dropbox can be used for business, pleasure or general organization. It’s an easy way to store files large and small and share photos and videos with anyone, including those who do not have Dropbox accounts. –Metro

What is Gaming Disorder? Billions of people across the globe are gaming enthusiasts. A recent Entertainment Software Association survey showed that more than 214 million Americans are playing video games, which can help develop familial bonds. However, excessive gaming may be too much of a good thing. In 2018, the World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which is the latest list of diseases and medical conditions. According to the ICD-11, people with gaming disorder

4

Online Resources to Help Them Learn

>>3. National Geographic Kids

Based on the popular children’s magazine, this website is a haven for curious kids who want to learn more about animals, history, science and space. It also features games, quizzes and more. Visit kids.nationalgeographic.com.

>>4. Buzzmath

have trouble managing the amount of time that they spend playing video games. They may prioritize gaming over other activities. Over time, excessive gaming may lead to behavioral issues similar to those associated with alcohol and gambling addictions. The WHO reported that for gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the pattern of behavior must be severe enough to result in significant impairment to family, personal, social, educational, occupational or other important areas for at least 12 months. –Metro

Kids can travel through time to meet famous mathematicians and complete missions to save Buzzcity. With thousands of activities based on math curriculums for grades one through eight, this is a great resource for students and teachers alike. Visit buzzmath.com. If you want to provide your child with more educational websites to explore, ask their teacher for suggestions. —Newspaper Toolbox

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COMMUNITY

Helping With Pandemic Recovery

Dine out at or order takeout from locally-owned

T

he global pandemic that began in late 2019 and spread into 2021 had a devastating impact on the world. The human toll was significant, as millions of people across the globe lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus. The virus also had far-reaching economic consequences, many of which were felt in small towns and communities that had been thriving prior to the pandemic. Vaccination rollouts that began in the final weeks of 2020 gave many people a glimmer of hope that life would soon return to some semblance of normalcy. The effort to restore towns and cities will require a community-wide effort, and families can do their part as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic. Support local businesses. A recent survey from the business mentors at

restaurants.

a chain hair cutter can be a great way to help community-based businesses recover. Lend a hand to the elderly. At the Score found that just 34% of small busi- onset of the pandemic, public health ness owners indicated their operations agencies like the Centers for Disease were profitable in late 2020. The num- Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization identified the bers were worse for minority-owned elderly as among the most vulnerable businesses; the survey found that just to serious illness if they were infected 26.5% of Black and 29.2% of Hispanic businesses owners had profitable busi- with the novel coronavirus. As a result, many in this population nesses at that time. spent much of 2020 isolated from A thriving local economy is a vital their friends and families. Families component of a strong communican help seniors in their communities ty, and families can do their part in recover from that isolation by volunthe pandemic recovery by making a concerted effort to support the small teering at local senior centers, inviting businesses in their towns and cities. aging neighbors over for weekly dinSupport locally owned restaurants ners or inviting them along on family instead of chain restaurants when outings. Such efforts can reassure dining out or ordering in. Even visiting seniors that their neighbors have not a locally owned barbershop instead of forgotten them.

12 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

Take active roles in the community. Recovering from the pandemic won’t be easy for any community. Some small businesses closed for good, while others struggled to stay afloat, and local towns and cities lost significant tax revenue as a result. Residents, including adults and children, can help their towns and cities overcome budget shortfalls by becoming more active in their communities. Organize initiatives like park cleanups to keep communities clean, especially in areas where budget constraints have forced local officials to cut back on such services. In addition, attend town or city council meetings to lend support to programs or even recommend new initiatives to help the community recover from the pandemic. –Metro

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COMMUNITY

Volunteering as a Family

V

olunteering as a family is a great way for parents to instill their values in their youngsters while strengthening the communities in which those children live. Volunteering also provides a host of additional, potentially surprising, benefits. For example, a 2003 study from researchers at the University of Texas found that taking part in helping one’s community lowers rates of depression and anxiety. In addition, research has indicated that adolescents who volunteer may perform better at school and take a more positive approach to education. Family-friendly volunteering opportunities abound, and the following are some ways that families can give back together. Feed the hungry: The role of charitable organizations that feed those in need was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic fallout of the pandemic was significant, as tens of millions of people lost their jobs and, subsequently, their ability to feed themselves and their families. Local food banks stepped in to feed those families, and organizations are always in need of volunteers to help prepare, deliver and serve food. Volunteering at a local food bank or soup kitchen is a great way for parents to show their children that they have a lot to be thankful for while instilling in them a sense of responsibility to community members in need. Create art: Art can be as beneficial to its creators as it is for those who appreciate it. That’s especially true for children in relation to their development. According to a report from Americans for the Arts, art education strengthens problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Art also encourages kids to innovate, a benefit that will pay dividends throughout their lives. Art also is fun to create, and parents can turn kids’ natural inclination toward fun and creativity into a way to give back to their communities.

Nature clean-up: Local park cleanups help to keep the great outdoors pristine and pollution-free. Such cleanups, which are a fun way to get outdoors, also provide a great opportunity for parents to teach children about the environment and the importance of protecting it. Looking for ways to volunteer? Here are some places to begin your search: cityof frederickmd.gov/191/Volunteering recreater.com/300/Volunteer-Opportunities.

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Why Volunteer? Volunteering is a great way for people to strengthen their communities, but it also can be a unique way for them to improve their own overall happiness. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies examined 70,000 participants, each of whom received surveys that asked questions regarding their volunteering habits and mental health. The study found that, when compared to those who did not volunteer, people who had volunteered in the previous 12 months were more satisfied with their lives and gave their overall health higher ratings. The frequency of giving back to one’s community also may affect just how much volunteering affects mental health. Study participants who volunteered at least once per month rated their mental health even higher than those who volunteered but did so infrequently.

–Metro

August 2021 | PARENTS, KIDS & COMMUNITY 13


SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES, continued from 9 The darker side of challenges Most social media challenges are created with fun in mind, and children and parents are joining in on the entertainment. But like other aspects of social media, challenges have a potential dark side as well. According to the Daily Mail, 130 teenagers committed suicide due to a challenge called The Blue Whale. In this challenge, young participants embarked on a series of feats over 50 days that became more complicated and dangerous as time went on, causing injuries to animals and participants. The Miami Herald reported last year that children were injured during the Skullbreaker Challenge, which involved two pranksters and a person who had his feet kicked out from under while jumping.

BACK TO SCHOOL

Other dangerous challenges have involved kids playing with fire, erasing their skin with pencil erasers and balancing on the top of cars while they were in motion. Communication needed Families can have open conversations about social media use and touch on the popularity of new challenges — pinpointing what is safe and what is not. Parents are urged to always monitor kids’ social media use so they can stay up-to-date about any challenges their children are considering. Kids can be encouraged to speak to their parents or adults at school about pressures from peers to engage in challenges that may make them leery.

Streamline your morning routine

–Metro

SCREEN TIME, continued from 9 dren to their accounts and set daily time limits on apps they use. They also can make certain apps off limits for children. Other device manufacturers offer similar tools to help parents monitor and control kids’ device usage.

Encourage new interests. Parents can help to control screen time by encouraging new interests and introducing children to new activities. Commit time each weekend to activities that don’t involve screens. –Metro

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14 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

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brush their teeth. For young children, an established routine can also help them become more independent.

It’s likely that you’ll need to implement a few changes before you find a Start the night before morning routine that works for everyOne way to save time in the morning one. Give yourself time to adjust to the is to complete any tasks you can the new school year, and don’t hesitate to night before. Be sure to get your kids divide up tasks. involved. They can set the table for Include some free time breakfast, put their gym bag by the Schedule 10 minutes of free time front door and lay out the clothes they for your children in the morning. Not want to wear. only will they be tempted to get ready Be consistent faster so they can play, but you’ll also As much as possible, do things have some time for yourself. Additionally, this serves as a good buffer if in the same order every day. This something unexpected comes up. will help make your mornings more —Newspaper Toolbox efficient and ensure no one forgets to

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With the start of a new school year on the horizon, you may be wondering how to ensure your mornings aren’t spent frantically rushing around. Here are some tips to help you create a stress-free morning routine.

It’s normal for children to be a little rusty when they head back to school after summer vacation. Here are some ideas to help them acclimate. • Get them to read. This can include novels, comic books, magazines and nonfiction books. • Do math on the fly. Encourage kids to add, subtract, multiply and solve other equations throughout the day. They can do this while you

prepare dinner, go for a walk or wait in line at the grocery store. • Create a vacation album. Put together a collection of pictures taken during the summer and get your child to write short descriptions under each one. • Practice another language. Watch movies or television shows in their second language. —Newspaper Toolbox

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16 Parents, Kids & Community | August 2021

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