Athens oconee parent jan17

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A Resource for Families in Athens, Oconee County and the Surrounding Area


Building Families... Building Businesses Now in our 19th Year!

Tackling Technology The Faces of Education Creating a Children’s Museum in Athens


5 STEPS to Greater Fulfillment in


7 Simple Ways to Help Boost Your Child’s Grades

free February 2017

January/February 2017 Vol. 19 No. 2

“Building Families...Building Businesses� Locally Owned and Operated. Now In Our 19th Year! PRODUCTION DIRECTOR A.W. Blalock MANAGING EDITOR Sarah Danis WEB DESIGN/CALENDAR Chris Parsons DISTRIBUTION Claire Phillips FOUNDER Shannon H. Baker WRITERS AND CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth M. Coreas, Sarah Danis, Jessica Ham, Julia B. Hembree, Leigh Ellen Magness, Dr. John Norris, Chris Parsons, Dr. Jon Robinson, Dr.William Schiemann, Kimberly Wise Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine is published six times a year. Reader correspondence and editorial submission welcome.We reserve the right to edit, reject or comment editorially on all material contributed. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without express written consent of the publisher. Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine reserves the right to refuse any advertising for any reason. The opinions expressed by contributors or writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this magazine. Distribution of this product does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services herein.

Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine P.O. Box 465,Watkinsville, GA 30677 Advertising: Editorial: Office & Production: Calendar: Website: PUBLISHED BY

on the cover Photo by UGA student Grace Williamson Educating a new generation: Elijah, age 4, and Eva, age 3



first words...


he whirlwind of the holidays are finally behind us.Whew! Now it’s time to look forward to an exciting 2017. This year we start with our “Education” issue, then in March/April comes “Health & Summer Camps I,” followed by our “Summer Family Fun & Camps II” issue in May/June. After the summer break, we will start the school year out with our “Back-to-school & Baby” issue. In September/October we celebrate with our “Birthday” issue, then wrapping up the year with our “Holiday” issue. We enjoy when local parents and professionals share their knowledge and expertise with us. If there’s a topic close to your heart, we would love to hear about it. We like to start the year off with one of the topics that is closest to our hearts: Education. In this issue, Dr. Jon Robinson offers advice for helping our kids be successful with their homework and for dealing with bullies. Have you heard about the Little Athens children’s museum that is in the works? Well, Leigh Ellen Magness will fill us in on what she has planned for it! Kimberly Wise enlightens us about different methods of education that are options for our kids. We will learn about starting a technology strategy for our home with Jessica Ham, while Dr. John Norris will provide insight on how our children can be affected by media. Finally, Elizabeth Coreas shares about loving poetry and helping your kids become poets too! As I mentioned, our next issue will be on the topic of health, so email me at if you have any ideas about articles or topics to share. I hope your 2017 is healthy and happy!

Sarah Danis

Michael, Oliver, Sarah and Trey



8 5 Steps to Greater Fulfillment

10 14 20 24 26

in 2017 The Faces of Education Our Children and Media 5-Step Technology Strategy for Your Home 5 Ways to Spark a Love of Poetry In Your Child Creating A Children’s Museum In Athens



6 Show & Tell 16 Calendar 22 On Your Mind:

Growing Pains 28 ’Til We Meet Again 30 One More Thing: 7 Simple Ways to Help Boost Your Child’s Grades

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Read Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine anywhere, any time ... online! Visit and click “read online.” Also, check out our online calendar for up-to-date, family-friendly events.





Compiled by Sarah Danis

get crafty!

pack these!



This is a way to have fun for Valentine’s Day while practicing with letters. Cut out lots of hearts from construction paper or thin foam craftsheet. Put each letter of the alphabet on a different heart. Let your kids practice putting them in alphabetical order. You can have them make a caterpillar face on one of the hearts and then spell out their names as the body of the caterpillar.They could even make these to pass out to their friends as Valentine cards! Thanks to Reading Confetti for this idea. -


hese yummy ham and cheese rollups are easy to make and a hit at my house. These are yummy when warm and delicious cold served in a lunchbox too! Ingredients: canned crescent rolls (do not separate) ham sandwich meat sliced cheese (swiss or cheddar) 1 tablespoon melted butter mustard and poppyseeds (optional) Lay the connected sheet of crescent rolls flat and use a rolling pin to flatten them even more. Lay slices of ham on top of the crescent rolls and then slices of cheese on top of those. Gently roll the layers up starting on the long side and slice into approximately 1 1/2 inch slices. Brush the top of each with melted butter – you can mix mustard and poppyseeds into the butter too. I baked them on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, but you can also use a greased baking dish if you prefer. Bake the slices at 350 degrees for approximately 15-17 minutes, until the crescent rolls are golden.


he Littlest Inventor is a new children’s book by local Athens, Georgia, attorney and UGA Grady College graduate, Mandi C. Mathis, that was inspired by her autistic son and aims to expose the powerful tool of self-advocacy. The Littlest Inventor has captured the importance of effective selfadvocacy of an Autistic child whose sensory processing issues prevent him from successfully going to the grocery store.The external stimuli is overwhelming, and he is overwhelmed by an errand many of us take for granted. However, with his own self-awareness, access to the tools he needs, and support of his family, he turns a disaster into a huge success.When we teach inclusion in our children’s literature, we are helping all of our children learn acceptance and kindness.

read this!


play&learn! The Yookidoo Spin ‘N’ Sort Spout Pro is an automatic spout that attaches to the tub allowing kids to play and experiment with water. It features three interchangeable bath cups that each have different spouting action and a spinning gear for added fun. Science and fun in one!

Twelve-year-old Athens local, Georgia Nunn, is a competitive baton twirler and member of team Forte Atlanta. Her team won a beginner national title at the 2016 AYOP (America’s Youth on Parade) USA and World Twirling Championships this summer. She was also an individual competitor and won 4th overall in her age division in a national competition. Georgia is in the seventh grade at Prince Avenue Christian School.Way to go!

Send your ideas & photos to P.O. Box 465, Watkinsville, GA 30677 or e-mail 6

Athens-Oconee Parent


Big Hearts 2017 O

n February 11, experience the magic of ESP (Extra Special People) as individuals leave their disabilities in the wings and shine on stage in a heartwarming show! Held at the beautiful Classic Center, Big Hearts also includes a silent auction and banquet. The banquet follows the pageant with dancing, food and music. Tables or seats may be purchased at https://extra BigHeartsBanquet. For more information, you can call 706-769-9333. Get out and support this great event for a greater cause!


“If no matter what is given to you, you can make something beautiful out of it, that is intelligence.”

Local blogger and women’s speaker Suzanne Chambers (above) has released her first book, Living Letters – Daily Devotions for Busy Women. In this work, the homemaker and mother of four provides scripturally-based insights for women in five devotions per week for an entire year. “Helping women and mothers be all that God wants them to be is my passion,” said Chambers. “This devotional book captures many of my life experiences raising my girls and son and also shares the real-life lessons God has taught me through the years.” Well known to many in the area for her blog, Living Letters (http://living and for speaking at churches and community groups, Chambers comes from a varied background. After earning a BA in English and MBA from UGA, she worked in marketing for seven years at corporate Chick-filA. However, she retired from the corporate world to raise children which she’s done for the past 27 years. Since then, she’s been involved in writing, speaking, and mentoring women.



resolve to be...


By Dr. William Schiemann


Greater Fulfillment in 2017

t’s that time of year again to think about what you want to accomplish in 2017. But wait! Past research tells us that 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail. So you might say, why bother? Instead, perhaps you should go about those resolutions in a more effective way. There are a number of reasons why resolutions fail – overly ambitious targets, peer pressure, no measures and, most importantly, no real sustainable changes in behavior. But there are some secrets to resolutions that actually work. The most important one is whether they lead to you becoming more fulfilled in life. We know from our research that nearly everyone wants their lives to be more fulfilling, but 80% of people are far from it. So if you think about your plans for the New Year in light of becoming more fulfilled, you are far more likely to be successful in achieving them.

Here are a few tips from those who are most fulfilled:


Start with your long-term goals. If you don’t have them, create them. If you have them, it’s time to reassess them. While this may feel scary, it is really the only way to plan your future. In my recent research at the Metrus Institute looking at those who were most fulfilled, we found that these folks had a vision for their life – where they would like to be later in life – what they would like to have accomplished. For Millennials, that might be a career goal or a family or relationship goal. For Xers, it might be an end of career objective (I want to become a VP in my company) or something more personal, such as taking up a new sport or hobby, or building stronger personal relationships. For recently retired Boomers, it might be bucket list items, such as visiting a country you have always wanted to see. Don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground – you can always adjust it later!


Athens-Oconee Parent


Determine your fulfillment drivers. Think about the things you do that are helping you achieve your dreams. It might be taking courses in school, dating, practicing a sport, hobby or musical instrument, or digging deeper into your religious or spiritual beliefs. Or, it might be performing well at work so that you can get that promotion or become skilled for a future job. These are your drivers of success and fulfillment. Unless you think about the connection of these drivers to your long-term vision and goals, they may all feel alike. In reality, some are always more important to your long-term fulfillment. Gut feel and what feels good at the moment may not be the best for the long haul. I didn’t like some of the courses I had to take to get my degree, but I had a vision of what the degree could provide for me in the future, so I learned to devote enough time to studying instead of playing cards with my friends as my gut would have preferred.


Map your time. Time is one of the biggest challenges to your resolutions. Remember, we all have the same amount of time each day, but some people use it more wisely. Personally, until I mapped my time for a week or so each year, I didn’t realize how much of my time was wasted in tasks that were not really helping me work toward my goals. Map your time – I’ll bet you will be surprised how it is being used. Periodically, I try to rebalance my time because we all get pulled in different directions.


Show your grit. One of the key factors we learned from our interviews on getting to fulfillment is that nearly everyone has key setbacks in their life – health issues, missed promotion, divorce, or loss of a longterm friend. But the most fulfilled people find a way around these setbacks. Building resilience is a key skill, but there are some tricks to making it easier. The most common

one is having a great network and some really close friends. If you don’t nurture your network, it won’t be there when you most need it. Many of our most fulfilled interviewees had developed mentors, and it was those mentors who fueled their fires to get up and overcome the setbacks.


Take a risk. Many of the Baby Boomers and Xers we interviewed who had been around the block a few times, said “take some risks, and you will be rewarded later.” Most felt that the risks they took earlier in their careers or in relationships helped them immensely in life. Even when those risks did not work out, they learned a great deal that could be applied in the future.Think about what would stretch you in 2017. Asking your company for a stretch in your job perhaps, or taking a next step in your relationship with someone. Many found that taking a job they weren’t totally qualified for (yet) enabled them to learn quickly and stretch their capabilities. These five steps can take you a long way to greater fulfillment in 2017 and in your life! ■ William A. Schiemann, Ph.D. is CEO of Metrus Group. He is a thought leader in human resources, employee engagement, and fulfillment and author of Fulfilled! Critical Choices – Work, Home, Life. For more information visit,, follow Dr. Schiemann on Twitter, @wschiemann and connect with him on LinkedIn at


school lessons

By Kimberly Wise

The Faces of Education Montessori vs Waldorf

Amelia Sizemore


ust as there are many different types of children out there, there are also lots of great options for educating children.What works for one might not work for another and what may

be your dream may not be your child’s correct fit. Although there are tons of options for educating your children, we will only cover a few here while comparing and contrasting directly related or similar options. Some of these methods may not be as common as traditional public or private school, so we felt it was beneficial to educate parents on these types of schooling as well.This is by no means exhaustive and you may find something that works better for your family. This is okay. As long as your child is being

Montessori schools, named after their founder, Dr. Maria Montessori (as a side note, she was the first woman physician in Italy), are places that look very different from more traditional schools. Montessori believed that children were naturally intelligent and that their development was marked by three-year changes. So in a Montessori preschool, for instance, there are children who range in age from three years to six years.This is the time of life Montessori called the period of the “conscious absorbent mind,” believing that children of this age seek out sensory input, regulation of movement, order, and freedom to choose activities and explore them deeply. The Montessori teacher shows the utmost respect to their students.Teachers act as facilitators, working individually and in small groups rather than as directors of the learning. Children work alone or in groups, working on small mats, using Montessori self-correcting materials. In a Montessori preschool, there are four distinct learning areas: Practical Life (fine and gross motor skills, Sensorial (learn shape, sound, form, feel, and color discrimination), Language and Reading, and Math. Waldorf schools were founded by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher. Steiner believed in a unity of spirit, soul, and body, and Waldorf schools reflect that in their common theme of heart, head, and hands. One could say that Montessori is grounded in more practical application while Waldorf enjoys the more imaginative side of childhood. Waldorf schools group children in three cycles of seven-year stages.

challenged, and prepared for a future that won’t involve your direct interference, everything is going to be fine.


Athens-Oconee Parent

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The Schut family likes the location of Athens Montessori and often bikes as a family to school; Ben Kibbe, age 3, at Waseca Montessori working with the manipulatives; Anna Evans, age 3, at Lifespan Montessori building a birdhouse.


Max White, age 4, building a gingerbread house at Athens Academy; Henry White, age 7, and his Senior buddy at Athens Academy; Mae and CJ Neely.

Students remain with the same teacher from first grade through eighth. Before age 7, Waldorf focuses on imaginary play, learning through imitation and doing. In fact, imaginary play is seen as the catalyst through which the child grows and develops. So, in a visit to a classroom, you may see children singing songs, painting, baking bread, listening to a story, using puppets, working in a garden or building with blocks.You would notice that the materials are natural and that toys and dolls have minimal details, to allow children to use their imaginations more fully. Although a Waldorf curriculum is rich with activities in oral language, music, and constructive and creative play, written language in books and instruction in other academic areas is specifically omitted. It is believed that fostering the young child’s imagination will lay the groundwork needed for later academic subjects such as math and reading. The Waldorf teacher initiates and directs the learning, playing the role of performer as he or she creates a learning environment that brings a sense of spirituality and harmony to the classroom.

Public vs Private The most obvious discrepancy between public and private schools comes down to money. Public schools cannot charge tuition. Financed through federal, state, and local taxes, public schools are CONTINUED




Tucker Sizemore

Dylan tutoring Connor in math

part of a larger school system, which functions as a part of the government and must follow the rules and regulations set by politicians. Overall, public schools are well regulated and a good source of broad-based education for your child. Private schools must generate their own funding, which typically comes from a variety of sources: tuition, private grants, and fundraising from parents, alumni, and other community members. If the school is associated with a religious group, the local branch may provide an important source of funding as well. Because private schools are not funded by the government, they can be highly specialized, offering differentiated learning, advanced curriculum, or programs geared toward specific religious beliefs. There are exceptions to such generalizations – charter and magnet schools are increasingly common public schools that often have a special educational focus or theme.

Unschooling vs Homeschooling Unschooling means learning what one wants, when one wants, in the way one wants, for one’s own reasons.The choice of how to learn and what to learn resides entirely on the learner.The learner makes the choice in environment, teacher, and methods. Parent-initiated teaching contradicts the fundamental aspect of unschooling: that the child is in control leading and teaching herself. In unschooling, parents may be available to answer questions, to provide materials, and to facilitate learning to match the child’s interest, but parents don’t teach the child according to what they think the child ought to learn. In homeschooling, the parents make decisions on how to best educate the child and what subjects have more emphasis placed on them. There is a big difference in orientation between what’s commonly called “relaxed homeschooling” and unschooling, yet many don’t make a distinction between the two. Parents who plan and teach without being asked to by the child are homeschoolers, regardless of how school-ish they look or don’t look to outsiders.


n all, there is not one type of educational option that I can say is the best. My children attended a Montessori school for several years before switching to public school. We, as a family, continue to evaluate our children and their needs and, as the need arises, we may look into other educational opportunities for our children. The best piece of advice I can leave you with is to do your own research. What might work for me may not work for you. Also, when considering educational programs, take into account your own family needs. If you are worried about getting your 4-year-old into an Ivy League school, a more lax program might not be for you. If you are worried about the emotional needs of your child, a strict school may not be the best choice. As with all things, information is out there.You just have to look. ■ Kimberly Wise is a mother of two rambunctious sons and enjoys quilting, baking, and reading. 12

Athens-Oconee Parent


media overload

By John Norris, M.D., Ph.Dv

Our Children and Media


ike it, or not, our children are “digital natives.” Because these technologies are everywhere, are commonly utilized in the safety of our own homes, and are faceless, we sometimes forget the risks they can present.This article describes some of the risks of this explosion in media use by our children and ends with guidelines for minimizing unhealthy media use. In addition to the general increase in media exposure, what has changed dramatically is the media landscape.TV remains the predominant medium, but nearly one-third of TV programming is now viewed on alternative platforms – computers, tablets, or cell phones. National surveys report that many parents feel overwhelmed by this rush of new technologies and are “very concerned” about the potential hazards of this increased connectivity. However, when it comes to providing parental guidance regarding media use, studies also suggest that many parents have been afflicted with parental paralysis. In one recent study, twothirds of children and teenagers report that their parents have no rules about time spent with media. For example, more than 60% of teenagers send and/or receive text messages after “lights out,” and only 14% say their parents have any rules about the number of texts they are allowed to send. Many children are exposed to PG-13 or R-rated television and movies that contain inappropriate content, and the same is true for video game users. In addition to failing to provide adequate supervision and limitations, parents typically underestimate how much time children are using social media and are not always aware of what children are using it for.With new applications emerging so quickly, many parents simply cannot keep up. Further, our tech-savvy kids are often skilled at hiding exactly what it is they are doing.

Other than (possibly) sleeping, media use is now the leading activity for children and teens. TIME WITH MEDIA Many children now spend more time with media than they do time in school. In fact, other than (possibly) sleeping, media use is now the leading activity for children and teens. Despite all of our technological advancements, there are still only 24 hours in a day. Consequently, this increasing use of electronic media by both us and our children is not in addition to other activities, but is instead replacing them.What are the choices: family-time, play-time, outdoor activities, reading, sleep, homework, etc.? Studies showing us – parents and children alike – to be more sedentary and more sleep-deprived than prior generations confirm this reality. In addition to the amount of media consumed by children and the important activities it is replacing, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child development specialists continue to raise concerns about the content of modern media.

VIOLENCE IN MEDIA Depictions of violence occur in television, movies, music videos/lyrics, video games, and on the internet are not without effect.The evidence is clear and convincing that media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression. In children and adolescents, the repeated observation of violence via media can contribute to anxiety, fear of being harmed, social isolation, sleep difficulties, nightmares, depression, aggressive and/or violent behavior, bullying and an overall “desensitization” to violence. By age 18, the average young person will have viewed an estimated 200,000 acts of violence on television alone! Not only is violence frequent, but it is typically depicted in an entertaining or glamorous fashion. In American media, physical violence is often portrayed as justified by being embedded in classic “good guy” vs “bad guy” scenarios. Repeated exposure to these types of media portrayals often results in increased acceptance

the numbers • More than 84% of children and teens have internet access. • More than 75% of 12- 17-year-olds have cell phones, and 80% of them sleep with their phone. • More than 88% of teens use text messaging. • The average 8- 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with various types of media and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day. • 7th to 12th graders spend, on average, 1 hour and 35 minutes each day texting 118 messages. • 71% of teenagers and children report having a TV in their bedroom. 14

Athens-Oconee Parent

of violence as an appropriate means of problem solving and achieving one’s goals. It tends to normalize carrying and using weapons and glamorize them as a source of personal power. In addition to modeling and glamorizing violent behavior, entertainment media serve to inflate the prevalence of violence in the world, reinforcing children’s view of the world as a dangerous place. Studies of increasingly realistic video games have indicated that the effects of child-initiated virtual violence may be even more profound than those of more passive media such as television. Children learn best by observing a behavior and then repeating it.The consequences of the behavioral attempts determine whether they repeat the behavior. Viewed in this context, video games provide an ideal environment in which to learn violence and use many of the strategies that are most effective for learning.They place the player in the role of aggressor and reward him or her for successful violent behavior. Rather than just observing the violent interactions, like with television and movies, video games allow the player to rehearse an entire behavioral script, from provocation, to choosing a violent response, to resolution- ie., death.The child can literally pull the trigger! And repetition reinforces the learned response! The net result: for children, adolescents and young adults, interpersonal violence is now a more prevalent health risk than infectious disease, cancer or congenital defects! Finally, children younger than age 8 often cannot discriminate between fantasy and reality and, therefore, may be especially vulnerable to media portrayals of violence.

CYBER BULLYING Cyber bullying has been defined as any behavior performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discontent on others (e.g., sending messages to harass, intimidate, or threaten, sharing a victim’s secrets or embarrassing information online, impersonating the victim to damage their reputation and/or CONTINUED



Our cover kids, Elijah & Eva

tips for parents • Treat media activities like any other childhood activity. Media use should occur with specific guidelines and adequate supervision. Monitor what media your children and adolescents are using and accessing, including the websites they are visiting, the social media they may be using, and the people they are communicating with. • Be a good role model. • Create media-free times, like no media during dinner. • Create media-free zones. Choose an area in your home and have no televisions, video games, or internet-connected devices.

• Do media together.Watch TV and movies together and use this as a way of discussing family values or inappropriate content. • Special caution is needed for very young children. Preliminary evidence suggests that using devices as a babysitter is fundamentally altering their brain structure and subsequent ability to learn. 15

calendar Ongoing ■ Athens-Clarke County Library Storytimes 613-3650, • Interactive storytime for children ages 18 months to 5 years and their caregivers, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9:30am and 10:30am • Infant Storytime for infants birth to 18 months and their caregivers. Share storytime, fingerplays, songs and simple books with your babies as they sit in your lap. Followed by Open Play. Mondays 10:30-11:30am • Bedtime Stories for working parents and their children ages 2-5. Join us for stories, rhymes, and lively participation fun. Pajamas, blankets, and stuffed animals welcome. Wednesdays at 7pm

■ Oconee County Library Storytimes 769-3950, Storytime is for preschool aged children and their caregivers. Come for songs, movement, crafts and books.Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am and 11am

■ Open Chess Play Athens-Clarke County Library; all skill levels, Mondays at 4pm, ages 7-18, 613-3650

■ LLL Breastfeeding Support Group Parents gather to support each other in breastfeeding, discuss parenting-related issues, and meet others in their community. Accredited La Leche League Leaders are available at every meeting to answers questions and concerns. All children are welcome at every meeting! FREE, Tuesdays, 10am-11:30am, The Natural Baby, 1590 Prince Avenue

■ Athens on Ice Public Skating Beginning 1/30 at the new location of 440 Foundry Pavilion, $13, group discounts,

January 2017 10, 24, & Feb. 28 Athens Academy Tour Tuesdays Casual admissions tour at 8:30am and 9:30am,

16 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Honor Dr. King’s legacy at the 2017 AthensClarke County Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service – “A Day On and Not a Day Off.” The kick-off celebration will take place from 8:30 9:30am at Lay Park located at 297 Hoyt St. The first 200 registered volunteers at the Athens MLK Day of Service Kick-off event will receive free t-shirts. A light breakfast will


Athens-Oconee Parent

Compiled by Chris Parsons

Some events, dates and times are subject to change. Please call individual event organizers to confirm schedules. All area codes are 706 unless otherwise noted.

be served. Individuals will volunteer throughout the community from 9:30am-noon at 18 sites including Books for Keeps, Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery, Loop 1 Daffodil Project, Trail Creek Park,West Broad Market Garden, and others. Those interested in participating should register online at www.athensclarke 543-5254 ext 103.

Thursdays 2/2-2/23, Sandy Creek Nature Center, 10-10:45am, pre-register, 613-3615

17 Toddler Tuesday: Finger Painting

4 Dragon Parade: A Chinese New Year Celebration

Join us for a special tour, story time in the galleries and a finger-painting art activity just for little ones. This free, 40-minute program is designed for families with children ages 18 months to 3 years. Space is limited please reserve a spot, 542-8863, Georgia Museum of Art, 10am

20 Owl Prowl Explore our woods at night in search of owls. Bring a flashlight. Sandy Creek Nature Center, 6:30-8:30pm, $2-$3, pre-registration required, 613-3615

21 “Frozen” Movie Sing-Along Get ready to sing along and act out your favorite songs and characters! Costumes encouraged. Popcorn provided! 1 hr 49m, rated PG. Oconee County Library, 2pm, 769-3950

21 Journey Through the Stars Participants will explore the great beyond. Program for 1/21 is entitled “The Winter Sky.” Program for 2/18 is entitled “The New Zodiac”. Pre-register, Sandy Creek Nature Center, $2-$3, 10-11am, 613-3615

23 OCPRD Spring Registration Registration begins for Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department spring programs,

February 2017 2 Robot Storytime Have you ever seen a robot? Come enjoy books about these awesome machines, play with some real robots and make a robot craft of your own! For children ages 6-11 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 3:30pm, 613-3650

2-23 Babies and Beasties Thursdays Join us for a program that allows toddlers and their parents to learn about the natural world around them. Interact with nature through hands-on activities, crafts, and outdoor adventures to spark an interest early. An adult must attend with child. $12-$18,

3 & Mar. 3 Spanish Storytime ¡Bienvenido! Join us for this special program of Spanish language fun! Share books, songs, rhymes and activities en español. For children ages 3-8 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 3:30pm, 613-3650

Bring in the Chinese New Year with a BANG! as we parade around the Children’s Area with our giant dragon and a host of musical instruments. We’ll listen to stories and learn simple Chinese calligraphy. For children ages 4-11 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 11am, 613-3650

7, 21 & Mar. 7 & 21 Lego Club Let’s build! Join us in creating Lego art and playing Lego-based activities. Lego blocks provided! For children up to age 11. Oconee County Library, 4pm, 769-3950

8 Athens Academy Admission Open House Join us for an all-grades admission open house! Visitors will hear from a panel of speakers including current parents, alumni, faculty, and administration, followed by a tour of the campus to see our students in action. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Mary Catherine Jernigan at 433-2599. 8:30-10:00am;

9 Chapter Readers Book Club Chapter readers are invited to join us for The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone. Games and snacks provided. Athens-Clarke County Library, 4pm, 613-3650

10 Forest Fantasy Enjoy a moonlit walk in the forest to search for fairies and gnomes hiding among the trees. Then help build the fairies and gnomes a home. Use a telescope to spot a dragon or a lion dancing across the sky (weather permitting). Fantastical forest costumes encouraged. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required. Sandy Creek Nature Center, 6-8pm, $2-$3, 613-3615

11 ACC Leisure Services Spring Registration Registration for Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services spring programs begins at 9am on 2/11 for ACC Residents and at noon on 2/13 for non-residents. athensclarke

11 Big Hearts 2017 Experience the magic of ESP (Extra Special People) as individ-

> More events & family fun on our calendar at! Search by date, category, venue and more • Download events directly to your mobile device • Share on social media

uals leave their disabilities in the wings and shine on stage in a heartwarming show! Big Hearts also includes a Silent Auction and Banquet.The Banquet follows the Pageant with dancing, food, and music. For those interested, tables or seats may be purchased at BigHeartsBanquet,The Classic Center, 2-9pm, $15, 769-9333

11 Family Day: Abstract Valentines Check out examples of abstract expressionism in the exhibition “Advanced and Irascible: Abstract Expressionism” then make your own splatter-paint valentine inspired by the work in the show. Georgia Museum of Art, 10amnoon, 542-4662

March 2017 2 Read Across America: A Seuss-tastic Celebration! Join us for Read Across America Day, a nationwide reading celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Let’s celebrate our love for books and individuality together with stories, songs and crafts! For children ages 3-11 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 3:30pm, 613-3650

4 Beatrix Potter Storytime and Artist Workshop Join us for a special storytime about Peter Rabbit and his woodland friends, as we learn how Beatrix Potter created her magical world. Create your own water colors, and enjoy a short film about her life. For ages 411 with caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 11am, 613-3650

11 Touch A Truck Come out to this FREE fun family event. Event details can be found online at, Heritage Park (Hwy 441, south of Watkinsville), 11am-2pm

14 Stranger Danger with Borders Black Belt

11 International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella (ICCA) South

Instructors from Borders Black Belt Academy will teach children the warning signs of dangerous situations. Children will also be introduced to some basic martial arts skills.Ages 4-10 years. Oconee County Library, 4pm, 769-3950

The south quarterfinal of the ICCA featuring groups from around the southeast, all vying for two advancing spots to the semi-final round. Morton Theatre, 7-10pm, 613-3771

15-25 Atlanta Science Festival/Expo

23 Mardi Gras Party! Let’s learn about and share traditions, music and crafts inspired by this unique holiday. We’ll even try King Cake, one of the traditional dishes served at Mardi Gras. For children ages 4-8 and their caregiver. AthensClarke County Library, 3:30pm, 613-3650

25-26 Athens Home and Garden Show

2 Dr. Seuss Birthday Party

Annual event featuring a kids area,The Classic Center, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon5pm,

Join us for a special Seuss storytime, awesome crafts, and birthday cake! All ages. Oconee County Library, 4pm, 769-3950

27 Healthy Snacks Workshop

2-4 Kindermarket Consignment Sale

Learn how to make easy, healthy snacks with your kids with registered dietitian Courtney Vickery! All food and supplies provided; registration required; Oconee County Library, 10:30am, 769-3950

Join us for the huge twice-yearly consignment sale at the YMCA featuring new and gently used goods and clothing.Thursday, 6-9pm, $4 entry fee; Friday, 9am-6pm, free admission; Saturday, 8am-12pm, most items half price. Athens YMCA, 543-6596

The Atlanta Science Festival is an annual public celebration of local science and technology. Featuring 100 engaging events, including hands-on activities, facility tours, presentations, and performances throughout the Metro Atlanta area.The festival culminates in a free, family-friendly EXPLORATION EXPO - an interactive day of hands-on activities and shows at Centennial Olympic Park on 3/25.

18 Family Day: To Spin a Yarn View over 40 wooden spinning implements in the exhibition “To Spin a Yarn: Distaffs, Folk Art and Material Culture” and learn how wool is processed from “sheep to shawl.” Then try your own hand at weaving with yarn. Georgia Museum of Art, 10am-noon, 542-4662 17


Athens-Oconee Parent

media overload


friendships). It can be conducted via personal websites, blogs, email, social networking sites, chat rooms, message boards, instant messaging or cell phones. And, in contrast to more traditional school-yard bullying, it can be conducted anonymously, spread faster and farther, and potentially remain online forever! Thus, even a single episode of uploaded content in the form of a public message or photo can result in repetitive, long-lasting cyberbullying as the items continue to re-circulate to ever increasing audiences. Unlike traditional physical bullying, victimization can occur 24/7 and kids can even be attacked while in the apparent safety of their own homes. Factors that have been shown to confer an increased risk of victimization include: obesity, disability and being a sexual minority youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender). Because it is a relatively recent phenomenon, the longterm effects of cyber-bullying have not been well-defined. However, traditional bullying has been implicated with increased risk of diminished health, financial problems, impaired social relationships, substance abuse, depression, obesity and crime. In terms of the safety of the school environment, it is important to note that a recent report of targeted school violence found that most attackers reported being the victim of chronic bullying. Further, there is evidence that victims of both traditional and cyber-bullying are more likely to carry weapons. Whether the victim’s motivation for this is primarily for self-defense, or for aggressive behavior of their own, remains unknown at this time but, as we have all witnessed, the potential risks are chilling.

MEDIA ADDICTION Children and adolescents use computers, the Internet, and video games for various reasons: relaxation, entertainment, stress relief, escape, to exercise control, and to demonstrate autonomy and/or competence.The activity in not pathologic at first, but with repetition, the positive reinforcement provided by these various activities can lead to addiction in some children. This has been best studied with video-gaming, where risk factors for becoming addicted include excessive media use, video-game systems in the bedroom, having an impulsive personality, having lower social competence and empathy, and having poorer emotional regulation. Conversely, kids who qualify as “pathologic gamers,” have been shown to have more trouble paying attention in school, receive worse grades, have more health problems, be at increased risk for depression, anxiety and social phobias, and have worse relationships with their parents. Approximately 8% of children aged 8-18 appear to have video-game addiction.

PHYSICAL PROBLEMS Today’s children rarely get their recommended amount of sleep, and latenight media use is one of the main reasons. Doing something stimulatinggaming, texting, computing- just before bed, delays the onset of sleep and contributes to insufficient sleep.The light from electronic devices alters the body’s secretion of melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates day and night cycles, which also interferes with sleep onset.The need to respond to texts, tweets, Facebook posts, or phone calls during the night disrupts the normal sleep cycle.The net result of all of these things is chronic sleep deprivation and an increase in school tardiness, absenteeism, irritability, accidents, and decreased learning. Media has also been found to lead to increased risks of obesity by leading to sedentary activity and increased exposure to advertisements for food in general and nutrient-poor food in particular. Excessive media use has also been linked to more direct ailments including:“texting tendinitis”, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, neck pain, and back pain. Distraction while texting and walking has contributed to an increase in pedestrian falls and encounters with motor vehicles.And, finally, texting while driving has led to a significant increase in motor vehicle deaths of children and adults (i.e., parents). ■ Dr. John Norris has had 16 years of experience in a general pediatric office practice. He is the Assistant Clinical Professor for the AU/UGA Medical Partnership.


wise guys


By Jessica Ham

-Step Technology Strategy

Jacob, Dave, Jessica, & Abby Ham


know most of our concerns with technology have to do with our child’s safety and the ever constant battle of how much technology is too much technology. I have a 5 step tech strategy for your home to share with you.This comes from a lesson in one of the parenting studies I have been reviewing from Pure Hope. Note that this is a strategy for your home, not your children. In order to be good stewards of the gift of technology and teach our kids how to understand and use technology, we need to be good examples ourselves. So these are strategies for the whole home.


We need to educate ourselves. We need to understand the culture our children are growing up in, we need to know about current trends and how they are affecting our


Athens-Oconee Parent

children, we need to know and use the online apps and activities that our children are using so we know the ins and outs of them, and we need to know and understand how this is impacting our child. I want to say right here that there are some apps that one of my children can use appropriately and with wisdom and my other child cannot. I have to know my children and the app they are using or wanting to use so I can make wise decisions.


We need to protect what we can in our homes. You cannot protect from everything, but you can do what you are able to. I can’t just sit back and hope my kids never see anything or put my trust in other parents and what they let their kids play. I need to be alert and do my own research and know what is good for my kids.

Jonathan Patterson When we talk about protecting our homes, what does that mean? How do we do that? This is where a multi-level protection plan comes in.We need to protect our devices with parental controls, we need to protect with filtering and monitoring, and we need to protect our routers. The product that we use in our home is called Covenant Eyes and it is a monthly subscription of $10.99.We have loaded it to all of our devices (tablets, phones, computers) and I am able to set the maturity level for each user and it blocks them from clicking through to anything above their level. It also monitors how much time they spend on technology and sends me a report of every app, website, etc. that they have used. My husband and I have this on all our devices also to protect ourselves and keep us accountable as well. There is another product that

is new and is called Circle.This is a router device for $99 that you attach to your router that basically sets limits on any device on your wifi.Again, you can create different user profiles and give them bedtimes, limited time, monitor, etc. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can also sign up for Circle Go for $9.95 a month that basically allows you to take your protection with you no matter where your device goes or what internet it connects to. Of course, I strongly encourage you to at least activate the FREE parental controls that are on just about every device out there.


We need to manage screen time. What is screen time? It is any digital display, whether it be a computer, tablet, phone, game system, portable device, music players

Take a Technology Inventory *

for Your Home Davis Blalock, age 5

Jacob, age 10, loves playing video games and aspires to get a job in technology.


with screens, etc. This is where we struggle as parents.We want a standard somewhere that tells us exactly how many hours are okay.We also want the digital babysitter so we can get something done. Well, I don’t have the exact answer for you, but I do have a tool you can use to make that assessment for your family.Take a week long technology inventory. Spend a week being observant and writing down how each member of your family uses technology and for how long. Take into account school work, learning games, etc. along with the fun stuff and mind-numbing stuff.This isn’t an exercise to condemn you, but an opportunity for you to see how your family uses technology and if there are areas that you are uncomfortable with. After the week, sit down with your spouse and your

kids (if they are old enough) and talk through what you have observed, what things concerned you, what things might need to change, what good things you noticed, everything.Then work together to come to a conclusion of how you want to use technology as a family and how much technology is good for your family. Remember, this is a family strategy.We each have areas we can improve our technology use and have more face to face interaction.


We need to schedule rest. Every person and everything can benefit from rest. • Have a physical reminder of a tech free zone. A basket, a table, a bin, whatever you need as a resting place for your devices during tech free timesdinner, family night, etc. I love

how Chick-fil-A has chicken coops to put your phones in at their restaurants to remind us to sit and talk to each other during our meal. • Develop and implement a tech curfew. A bedtime for your technology. Not only will this help with having some family face to face time, it will also greatly help your children be ready to sleep. Screen time before bed disrupts sleep patterns. • Think about taking a tech rest or Sabbath.This could be a tech free camping weekend. It could be family game night once a week when there is no technology, just fun games together. This could be a tech free day once a week.Whatever works best for your family.


Equip your kids to thrive in the digital age. We don’t want to just protect

our kids from technology, but we want to equip them to live in our technology driven world. One day our kids will leave our homes, and we want to model for them and teach them how to thrive in a world that involves technology. What better place than in the safety of our home under our watchful care for them to learn and make mistakes. Not just because we made them, but because they see us living technology wise lives.We need to model wise technology use for our kids. ■ Jessica is a mentor mom for the local Athens area chapter of MOPS and the mom to two middle schoolers. She proudly served as an Air Force wife, living in North Carolina and Texas before moving back to Oconee County, Georgia, where she was raised. She and her husband Dave just celebrated 15 years of marriage.


on your mind

By Dr. Jon Robinson

“Growing Pains”

Dear Dr. Robinson, ’m at my wit’s end. My 13-year-old son is very bright and gets good grades in school. However, it’s not because he does his homework well. Getting him to settle down and get busy is like pulling teeth.We have a set time for homework, but frequently he says he doesn’t have any. He gets mostly A’s and B’s. Oftentimes, he just doesn’t bring any books home at all. Study for tests? Book reports? Term papers? All last minute for him. I’m tired of the homework wars. Help? - Signed, Battle Weary


Dear Battle Weary, What a dilemma. If your son were failing at school, or a frequent trouble-maker, you could just come down on him like gang busters.What I see as critical here is that he is a good student. So, what’s going on? At 13, junior is entering adolescence. Developmentally, that means he is trying to figure himself out, find an individual identity. For children younger than age 10, parents are the best thing since sliced bread.We can do no wrong and our kids are obedient because they want our blessing. From age 10 to 12, the jury’s out.This is called latency age, which means not a child and not a teen.The new developmental term is “tweener.” At this age, children have their own ideas, but mostly conform to ours. Sometimes they want to be just like mom and dad, and sometimes just opposite of mom and dad. With adolescence, most teens want to be opposite of mom and dad.This is the sturm und drang, or “storm and stress” of forming an individual identity. It’s where, as the parent, you want your son to begin making his own decisions, but with accountability and supervision. If his grades are in fact all A’s and B’s, that’s great! That means all of you are doing something right, and you want to convey your pride in him and his abilities. However, in Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, I caution that children always test the limits and that they 22

Athens-Oconee Parent

never mean what they say.Therefore, believe what they do, more so than what they say. Get on his teachers’ computer portals and check his grades online, or in conversation with his teachers. Also, as a new teenager, consider revising your rules to allow your son more latitude in completing his homework.You can prompt, but don’t hover. Another concept I share with folks is the Principle of Responsible Freedom.That is, give your son as much freedom (to complete his tasks in his time and manner) as he demonstrates responsibility for (keeping his grades up). If he demonstrates irresponsibility, then you have a right to pull back on the freedom. At his age, though, problem-solving is a joint endeavor. To impose your will may lead to sullen noncompliance and emotional distance. Dear Dr. Robinson, y kindergartener is being bullied on the playground at school. She’s a dainty, sensitive, little girl, and her tormenter is a tomboy. The tomboy knows that what she’s doing to Avis is not right. I know this because she does it on the sly and the teacher never catches her bullying my little girl. My husband wants Avis to “man up” and fight this girl. He even has gotten boxing gloves and shown her some punches. Avis just melts into tears, throws the boxing gloves down and runs to her room. Because the tormenter is athletic and respectful to adults, her teacher thinks she’s all that and not a bully. She seems to have singled Avis out, because other mothers in the class report their child is not her victim.Any suggestions? - Signed, Out of Options


Dear Out, My heart goes out to you and your precious little girl.As you may know, most schools have strict policies to stop bullying. Even if Avis’s teacher is in disbelief of her being a bully victim, you can request that the school counselor come to the class and give a presentation to the whole class about bullying and how to confront/avoid it.That’s your right as Avis’s parent. Also, while I appreciate hubby’s perspective, Avis has made it very clear that she’s not going to defend herself. Additionally, many schools have a zero tolerance policy on fights, indicating that both parties get punished. So, defending herself might make her point, but with consequence to her. Nonetheless, what’s going on does require action on Avis’s part. First, use your Active Listening tools to help Avis talk about her feelings.Your empathy will help her focus on how the bullying makes her feel. When you see her emotional tension going down, switch to, “So, what do you think we should do about this?” Even at age 5, she needs to be included in the problem-solving. Second, use role-play with Avis to help her re-enact the bullying behavior (you play the bully).This give you opportunity to help Avis use her words to confront the bully behavior. “I’m telling,” is not sufficient or effective confrontation. Something as simple as saying, “Stop!,” with accompanying hand gesture, will surprise the bully and may work. Because the teacher doesn’t see the bullying, it’s important for Avis to hang closely with her good friends in the class. Like a predatory jungle cat, bullies tend to single out the weakest in the herd. If the tormenting is witnessed by one or more other children, the teacher is more likely to confront the bully. Finally, while not excusing the behavior, bullies tend to have “stuff,” and feel powerless, insecure, and inadequate elsewhere in their lives. Here, you can help Avis have empathy for her tormenter, and consider ways she might make the tormenter her friend. Also, you and/or the teacher or counselor might follow-up with the bully’s parent(s) to help put the behavior in context and offer options. Again, active listening would ease the parent’s embarrassment and defensiveness that their parenting is being called into question. Good luck! ■ Dr. Robinson is a licensed, clinical psychologist. His specialty is in school-clinical, child psychology, with emphasis on child development, parenting and family counseling. He is also author of Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, now available nationwide in bookstores and on-line as an e-book.


raising a poet

ways to spark a love of poetry in your child


y love for reading developed early, as did my love for writing. It began one night with a simple poem my older sister had written. It was a poem written in Spanish about a bird who had hurt one of its wings and could no longer fly.The bird fell from a building and died on the side walk of a busy street where no one took notice.That poem, although distressing, had great depth…and at the age of eight I was able to draw a distinct connection with the metaphors it was presenting.To me, the bird was a symbol of shattered dreams helplessly trying to gain some footing in a broken world. It was then that I realized symbols and metaphors were everywhere and something inside of me clicked. From that day forward, all I wanted to do was read and write more. I was around nine or ten years old when my teacher first introduced me to Shel Silverstine’s Where the Side Walk Ends, and after devouring it in just a few days and hungering for more, I quickly moved on to reading the works of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, and several sonnets by William Shakespeare. Each rhyme was like a song to me. Each verse so skillfully and purposefully placed. As an English major in college, I grew to love and appreciate several different genres, yet there was just something about poetry that really connected with me. If you have read this far, chances are poetry has somehow connected with you too.Who knows, perhaps you may be a talented poet yourself? If you are, the question is then, how do we transmit this love of poetry to 24

Athens-Oconee Parent

By Elizabeth M. Coreas

our children? How do we share this art with them in such a way that they can appreciate it, and perhaps even write it too? Well, you are in luck. Here are some suggestions I hope will help.


Introduce it. Poetry is not something most children are naturally drawn to. It cannot just be waved to from across the hall. It is sort of the elegant great aunt of genres that requires a formal introduction. For preschoolers, Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss are a fantastic start.The rhyming words found in books like The Cat in the Hat create a fun and appealing way for a young child to be engaged. Not only that, but rhyming books have also been known to help children develop their language and literacy skills by expanding their phonemic awareness. Now I know what you must be thinking.What about for older kids? The ones who hate English class, and are no longer interested in reading about roses being red and violets being blue. Encourage them to read poetry by modern day poets. A neat way to do this is with spoken word poetry, the art of oral story telling using dramatic performances to enhance your words.Take them to poetry slams and let them watch poet’s freestyle. By introducing them to the various forms of poetry out there, they will be able to see how the right play on words can have a momentous outcome.


Let them read your work. One of the beautiful things about poetry is that it is so versatile, anyone can do it. Allowing your child to read

Sarah and Sofia Coreas share an early love of poetry just like their mother.

something you wrote lets them know that if you can do it, they can too. Show them how you once wrote about being happy or sad and how you managed to describe those experiences using similes and metaphors. One line in a poem I wrote when I was twelve read: “My life is like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs…just when I think I reach the top, my world comes crashing down.” I think I wrote that after being punished by my parents for not cleaning my room.


Have fun making up songs. Have you ever noticed your ability to learn lyrics almost instantly after hearing a song for the first time? Not many people can do that, but poetic souls are usually very keen to picking up lyrics. If you have a child that picks up lyrics quickly and is constantly learning new songs, he or she may just share your poetic heart! If you think about it, all songs are pretty much poetry set to music. So why not have fun making up some songs together? After all, one match quickly lights another!


Set the Stage…read with tone and texture in your voice. When reading to your child, whether it is one of your favorite authors or one of your own works, make sure to over enunciate your words. Children love when you change the sound of your voice to match the character who is talking. If the character is crying, let out a big exaggerated cry. If the character is angry, make your voice grumpy and mean. By exaggerating your tone and shifting your voice back and forth, you create a more vivid and interactive experience for your child. It’s one that sets them center stage.


Allow for creative freedom within genres. Find the books and genres your children will love, not the ones you would love for them.That’s not to say you still can’t introduce your favorites, just don’t

force it if it’s not connecting. Keep in mind that children will be drawn to the things that are meaningful to them and will pick up the books that draw their attention.The same is true for writing. Remember that one of the reasons poetry is so well loved is because it allows for us to break the rules. Poems can be as silly or as serious as we make them to be, so allow for as much creative freedom within genres as you can. And remember, when your child brings you something they have written, listen closely and intently. Chances are they have penned out their hearts and are just waiting for someone who will read it. ■ Elizabeth Coreas works as a Family Engagement Literacy Specialist for the Clarke County School District’s Early Head Start & Head Start Program. She is a freelance writer and proud mommy of three.


make it happen


By Leigh Ellen Magness

“LITTLE ATHENS” Creating a Children’s Museum

hen Sarah at AthensOconee Parent asked me if I’d be willing to write something about working toward my dream of creating a children’s museum in Athens, I jumped at the chance. Not only will I talk about it, it’s all I want to talk about. I have been talking about it to anyone who will make eye contact! I enjoyed children’s museums even before I had kids because I’m a huge play nerd, but it wasn’t until my first son was born that I really wanted to create one in Athens. Selfishly, I want to create a children’s museum because I want an educational and recreational indoor play option

for my own kids to enjoy without driving over an hour away. I began thinking on this years ago, and at the time it was a pipe dream. Over time, my dreams and thoughts about it became more concrete and started to feel more realistic. I shared my ideas with people in my professional and personal inner circle, and I started brainstorming with others about how to make this a reality. At some point everything seemed like a possibility, which was both exciting and overwhelming. Focusing on creating a smallscale version of Athens seemed like a good way to get the community involved, as well as a great framework for which to provide structure and direction. My current business partner, Leslie Schwartz, accidentally

FAQs about “Little Athens” What’s this rumor about Athens getting a children’s museum? It’s true! Little Athens is a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit. It exists as an organizational entity, but not yet as a physical space. There’s a group working on all the various steps that it takes to make that dream into a reality. Who’s behind it? There’s a group of Athens business leaders, non-profit directors, and volunteers, led by Leigh Ellen Magness, licensed clinical social worker and registered play therapist. What’s it going to be like? We don’t know exactly yet, but the plan is to create a small scale city where kids can play and explore. But it won’t be just any city, you’ll find local Athens businesses and attractions sized just for kids. It will be a place where kids and parents can engage 26

Athens-Oconee Parent

engage with each other while watching and engaging with their kids. When is this going to happen? Expected opening is late 2017 or early 2018.

together in play, and learn more about what it takes to make a community work. Athens has several options for physical play spaces, but few for imaginative or pretend play.We also hope to incorporate a central place for parents to meet up. Whether stay-at-home parents want to get out of the house and socialize with other adults, or two parents need to attend to a few minutes of business on a day when their kids aren’t in school, we’d love to have a space where parents can

Where will it be? The group has not selected a site yet, but has conducted preliminary research on several local locations. Currently the group is working on completing an application for the IRS, as well as creating a procedure for which businesses will be included in exhibits, and fine tuning the business plan. How can I get involved? We’re glad you asked! The steering committee has identified several areas that need support from committee members, as well as some one-time administrative tasks that supporters can volunteer to do. For more information, visit

Leigh Ellen, Hudson, age 5, Rhodes, age 2, and Jordan Magness. PHOTO COURTESY OF LYDIA HUFF PHOTOGRAPHY

penned the name “Little Athens” during one of the many brainstorming sessions she was patient enough to sit through with me. When I finally sat down to create a formal business plan, it was 26 pages long. It included all the ideas, from the farfetched to the realistic, from grant resources to exhibit ideas, to the fact that we should have a changing table in the bathroom. It started to feel like less of a pipe dream and more like a working blue print. I found myself saying things like “when we” instead of “if we” do this. In the summer of 2016 I gathered about 20 stakeholders: these were business professionals, teachers, parents, non-profit directors, board members, colleagues, and visionaries. I asked them to review that first version of the business plan, and asked them to criticize and critique it. I asked them to let me know what wouldn’t work and why, and to point me toward other people and resources

that could help make it work. From that meeting, I came away with two major points: 1) I needed to form committees for 8 core areas, and 2) This was a real possibility. In September 2016 we incorporated Little Athens as a 501(c)3 non-profit, to begin working toward building a children’s museum in Athens! We currently have about 40 volunteers that are working in the areas of exhibits, strategic planning, location selection, board development, customer discovery, business planning, budget, and community support.There is a lot of work to be done, but Athens is showing that it’s ready for Little Athens to join the scene. For more information on how to get involved, visit ■ Leigh Ellen Magness is a licensed clinical social worker and a registered play therapist in Athens. She is cofounder of Athens Center for Counseling and Play Therapy, and founder of Growth Therapy. She is also a mom, wife, and child chauffeur.


’til we meet again

Kids love to see their picture, and you’ll love the keepsake! Email your photos to

Sierra, 8

Samantha, 8

William, 8, Lauren, 4, and Stephen, 9

Claire, 6, Carter, 8, and Caroline, 6

Hunter, 4 1/2 months

Campbell, 15 months

Grant, 10 months

Daniel, 8, and Ella, 4


one more thing


By Michele Borba

Simple Ways to Help Boost Your Child’s Grades


e are living in a fast-paced world that is constantly changing and evolving, and you want to make sure your own kids are equipped with the tools they need to be successful in life. The process begins at a young age and centers on how well children can perform in the classroom. Here are seven surprisingly simply solutions to help parents boost their young students’ grades:


Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can have a serious impact on children’s abilities to learn and perform at school. Setting and keeping a nighttime routine is the key.Watch out for caffeinated sleep stealers like cold medications, chocolate or energy drinks. Applaud their efforts the right way. It’s the way you encourage them that impacts their success over the long term. For example, instead of encouraging your child to bring home straight A’s, put the emphasis on how hard she is working.This will encourage her to persist, and it will help to sustain her motivation. Above all, keep in mind that the grade is not what motivates a top student to succeed – it’s the drive for learning. Respect their learning style. If your son insists on plugging in his iPod when he studies, or if your daughter swears that flashcards are the only way she can learn her spelling words – listen up! While you may prefer a quiet room with no distractions when it comes to getting work done, that doesn’t mean



it’s the best way for your kids to concentrate and get down to business.The trick is to pay attention to your kids so you can identify which type they are and tap into that learning style in order to help them be more successful. Pay attention to their peers.Whom our kids befriend can affect their study habits and their overall academic success.The truth of the matter is that peer pressure can have both positive and negative consequences on a child’s education. Make family meals a must.With busy after-school schedules and varying palates, it can be a daunting task to commit to a sitdown meal with your family on weeknights. Think twice before passing out the take-out menus: A study by Columbia University showed that kids whose families eat regular, relaxed meals together are more likely to achieve higher grades. Squelch the stress at home.The stress that curbs kids’ learning potential is coming from a place you may not have considered before: your home. Research shows that the conflict kids face at home spills over into their school life and impedes their learn-

4 5


ing. In fact, family-induced stress can affect kids’ learning and behavior for up to two days following an incident. Tailor expectations to your child’s abilities. As a parent, you should consider your learning aspirations for your child to be a rubber band: gently stretch, but don’t snap. Every child is different, and while it’s OK to encourage them to try hard and achieve their best, it’s also important to remember that “the best” is different for every child. What these seven steps require is your time, attention and engagement. If you want to boost your kid’s academic performance and see lasting results, it will take a few things from you: consistency, dedication and patience. Remember that no two kids are the same, even if they come from the same household. Pay attention to the individual needs of each child and do what’s right for them and for you, you’ll see the payoff in their attitudes and their report cards in no time. ■


Michele Borba, Ed.D., is an educational psychologist, former teacher and mom. For more information, visit

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