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October 2019







AWESOME RESOURCES Eden, 6, of St. Paul

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n Oct 13 2pm Sun Oct 13 2pm

through his life, Mozart was a musical adventurer, ays wanting to playhis with ideas. This relaxedadventurer, All through life,new Mozart was a musical mily concert for audiences of all abilities, conducted always wanting to play with new ideas. This relaxed Music Director Osmo Vänskä, explores Mozart’s family concert for audiences of all abilities, conducted eriments and music fromOsmo composers who were his by Music Director Vänskä, explores Mozart’s atest influences. Recommended for ages 6 and up. experiments and music from composers who were his greatest influences. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Fri Nov 29 2pm Sat NovFri 30 Nov 2pm29& 2pm 7pm Nov 30 2pm & 7pm Sun DecSat 1 2pm Sun Dec 1 2pm Get your tickets for balloon-powered fun, and fly away with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Disney Pixar hit fly away Get your tickets for balloon-powered fun, and Up for a live movie and music performance. with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Disney Pixar hit Up for a live movie and music performance.



VOLUME 34 /// ISSUE 10


Voices of color Our state’s education system boasts strengths and weaknesses.




Peer-to-peer help If you have a kid with special health-care needs, check this out. 12 BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY


Here’s where to start with books, birth methods and more. 14 THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

Get sober

Want to feel and look better? Stop drinking. Maybe. 16 SCHOOL DAYS

Ag in the city


This K–12 charter school in Vadnais Heights and Little Canada focuses on agriculture.



Parent power Here’s your role in helping your kids succeed in school. 18 WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM

How parents can help kids manage technology use — at school and at home.

A mom divided

Three kids. A husband. Pets. Who gets the attention? 20 #ADULTING

Getting woke A local teacher faces her own whiteness in exploring equity. 22 ASK THE PEDIATRICIAN

Backseat driver

When is it safe to allow your child to sit in the front seat? 24 ON BEHAVIOR

Talking sex?

More to explore


The Minnesota Waldorf School lets kids connect with the natural world on its 8-acre campus in Roseville.

Fall fun!


Find the perfect, locally grown pumpkin — plus fresh apples, cool activities and more — at farm near you.

Start simple. And be open to conversation and questions. 26 IN THE KITCHEN

Hand pies

Make these breakfast pockets and you’ll be set for the week. 28 BOOKSHELF

Reading up CORRECTION A story in the September issue of Minnesota Parent contained an incorrect statement about how long Rebecca and Laurel Luxenberg tried nursing with their daughter, Addie. They tried for three months, not three weeks.


October 2019 • mnparent.com

These new releases foster a love of books and grammar. 58 FROM OUR READERS

Kids at play!

We asked for your fun kid photos. And you delivered!

About our cover kid Name: Eden City: St. Paul Age: 6 Parents: Debbie and Wole Siblings: Ilana, 4, and Faye, 1 Personality: Energetic and thoughtful Favorite Activities: Riding bikes, coloring and reading Favorite Foods: Steak and s’mores Photos by Amanda Webster / kinderling.com


48 Education L I ST IN G S

52 Halloween CA L E N DA R

Out & About 54 CA L EN DA R

HELLO SUMMER SUMMER POWER : GRADES K-5 SUMMER SPORTS CAMP : GRADES 1-6 SUMMER UPROAR : GRADE 6-8 A fun, non-competitive sports program designed to build teamwork, leadership skills and self-esteem.

An exciting combination of spirited adventure and growth. Teens get a taste of leadership as they help to plan their summer activities and participate in weekly field trips. 19-SP39

Your answer to quality care and exciting adventures. We offer flexible 3, 4, and 5-day options. Weekly themes and field trips.


4/25/19 3:58 PM

mnparent.com • October 2019



Voices of color H mnparent.com


Janis Hall • jhall@mnparent.com

SALES MANAGER AND CO-PUBLISHER Terry Gahan • tgahan@mnparent.com


Zoe Gahan • zgahan@mnparent.com


Sarah Jackson • editor@mnparent.com


Mary Beth Burgstahler, Dr. Gigi Chawla, Heidi Croatt, Megan Devine, Katie Dohman, Ed Dykhuizen, Shannon Keough, Laura Ramsborg, Amanda Webster, Jen Wittes


Valerie Moe • vmoe@mnparent.com



Amy Rash • arash@mnparent.com


612-436-4388 • distribution@mnparent.com


612-436-4360 • sales@mnparent.com 40,000 copies of Minnesota Parent are printed monthly, available at 1,100 locations: mnparent.com/racks Go to mnparent.com/subscribe to get this magazine mailed to your home for $18 a year.

Minnesota Parent (ISSN 0740 3437) is published monthly by Minnesota Premier Publications. POSTMASTER send address changes to: MINNESOTA PARENT, 1115 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403. Minnesota Parent is copyright 2019 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.


October 2019 • mnparent.com

ave you seen the billboards? The ones that say: “Minnesota schools are worst in the nation for our children of color”? As I write this Education Issue opening note, I can’t stop thinking about those signs. In fact, I was about to chime cheerily about the incredible amount of school choices we have in our fair state — as seen in two school profiles in this issue that are impressive by any measure — the Minnesota Waldorf School, a private campus in Roseville, and the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture, a public K–12 charter school in Vadnais Heights and Little Canada. Both are departures from traditional public schools and give kids amazing and alternative ways to learn. Meanwhile in this issue, however, we’ve got a story by a white teacher about the art of getting “woke,” which is to say waking up to the lack of equality many families in Minnesota have been facing for decades, especially in the realm of education. The folks who put up the thought-provoking billboards — the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children — have been pouring millions into various efforts for years to address the issue of disparity, according to the Star Tribune. And yet, the problem persists, says the foundation and the newspaper’s most recent data from 2016–17 when “Minnesota had the lowest graduation rates of any state for black and Hispanic students, and the second-lowest for American Indian students.” So what we can do? Well, it’s exceedingly complicated. It’s beyond my comprehension. But experts say getting woke starts with awareness — of inequality and white privilege. So let’s start there: We really need writers of color for this magazine. Though we strive to feature photography and cover stars that represent our state’s diversity, that’s honestly as far as it’s gone. Diversity is a priority, and I believe we can make it a much bigger one, in more ways. So let’s do that right now: If you’re a talented writer of color — or if you’d like to be a go-to parent-of-color source/interviewee for upcoming articles — please write me at editor@mnparent.com and use the hashtag #voicesofcolor. If you want your kid to be on our cover, you can find out how at mnparent.com/coverkid. If you want to write for — or be interviewed by — our sister magazine for people aged 50 and older, Minnesota Good Age, write me at editor@mngoodage.com. Many experts believe the key to closing the proverbial education gap starts with addressing the challenges faced during early childhood. At this magazine, we’re definitely in the business of early childhood. Maybe having diverse opinions and voices in the parenting realm could be our contribution toward creating a more equitable Minnesota. Write me! Let’s start this conversation. Sarah Jackson, Editor

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Sarah Jackson


Fundraising gold!

Photo by Chris Emeott

We like wrapping paper and cookie dough from our kids’ fundraisers as much as the next person. But you know what would be more fun? Some cool, local products! Fortunately, this fundraising overhaul is already underway in Minnesota, thanks to two local moms — A.J. Zimmer and Gina Moore (pictured) of Maple Grove and Apple Valley, respectively — who are helping would-be fundraisers sell items that aren’t just tasty, useful and/or healthy, they’re locally made. Minnesota Brands For Good — their socially conscious fundraising program — features Minnesota-based companies that, in turn, support their own special causes and charities. Double win! Schools, clubs and nonprofit organizations can fundraise through catalog

Peer-to-peer help for parents Parenting is hard. Really hard. But when you have a child with a disability or complex health-care needs, your family will face challenges that not everyone can understand. Thanks to Family Voices of Minnesota, however, help is on the way. This local nonprofit organization operates CONNECTED, a free, statewide parent-toparent peer-support program in which every

will right away speak to a parent who understands their situation,” said Family Voices development director Molly Drew. Not only can those parents provide kindness and understanding — they also can help families navigate complex systems such as available medical care, insurance plans, schools, community services, child-care options, waivers, therapies and more. Drew said specially trained parent

staff member has a child with a disability or

advocates share their own similar experi-

complex health-care needs.

ences and help parents feel less alone —

“When a parent calls Family Voices, they

as well as more confident when speaking Photo courtesy of Family Voices of Minnesota


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Brands For Good

sales, online sales and pop-up events and earn a whopping 40 percent of the profits from sales. Some of the brands include Essence One personal care products, Hip Pop Gourmet Popcorn and City Girl Coffee, all from Minneapolis; Excelsior Candle Co. of St. Paul; Mike and Jen's Hot Cocoa of Duluth; and Lollidale sock cards (gift socks with greetings) of White Bear Lake. Learn more at mnbrandsforgood.com.

up for their children, who often need special services. To support Family Voices of Minnesota, you can attend the organization’s eighthannual benefit on Nov. 15 — an evening of appetizers, drinks, music and a performance by storyteller Kevin Kling at the Minnesota Humanities Center in St. Paul. For help, call or text 612-440-1609 (9 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays) or go to familyvoicesofminnesota.org.

MacPhail Center for Music MNP 1019 2-3page.indd 1

9/12/19 1:26 PM

mnparent.com • October 2019


Jen Wittes


You’re pregnant! Get ready! I

n the minutes and hours after learning of a pregnancy, it’s common for the expectant parents to realize that they know very little about pregnancy. Or childbirth. Or — Are you kidding me with this thing? — how to tie a Moby Wrap. Within minutes and hours of announcing said pregnancy, the parentsto-be will be inundated with doctor recommendations, C-section stats and books … so many books. I believe that every parent in America owns What to Expect When You’re Expecting simply because it’s been thrust at them aggressively. Then come the childbirth education classes — it’s beyond what you’ve seen in old sitcoms with the mom-to-be and support person cozily and comically huffing and puffing on pillows in a one-size-fits-all class. Now it seems you have to pick your birth courses based on your desired style or method. But remember, you know nothing. Absolutely nothing!

All the books First off, you don’t need a dozen books; you just need one or two good ones. To find your fit, ask a sister or close friend what they read and why they liked it. Know a birth professional such as a midwife, doula or labor nurse? Ask them. A few of my personal faves include: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: Crunchy, but comprehensive and empowering. Half of it is filled with real birth stories. This book is a cheerleader. Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Trusted, Minnesotan, thorough and a fantastic first-timer’s alternative to What to Expect. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: When you need to lighten up! Funny, yet informative. Books give you a chance to marvel at the scientific wonder that is human pregnancy. But I recommend you take the many pages

You will be prepared and birth will still surprise you. Let it. with a grain of salt. There’s an instinctive wisdom that comes with pregnancy. Don’t let that innate knowledge get watered down by too much information. And stop Googling all the weird, scary and rare stuff. Seriously. Stop.

Should we take a class? Yes, you should absolutely take a childbirth-prep class. This is a fun, engaging way to get your information. It’s a rite of passage! You’ll also get the chance to engage with other expectant parents, go through it together and — if all goes well — be locked in for Baby’s first play date long before your water breaks. The best place to start when it comes to choosing your class is your care provider. You chose your birthing team (doctor, midwife, doula and beyond). Why not choose a class that best matches their philosophy? I recommend looking for a class series that includes birth, postpartum, infant care and feeding. Some top-notch local businesses providing childbirth education include: • Blooma Yoga • Amma Parenting Center • Minnesota Birth Center • Everyday Miracles.

Methods In a nutshell here’s some of what you can expect:


October 2019 • mnparent.com



Art cards

These 5x7, rounded-edge prints, which come in a variety of sets, six cards each, feature black and white repeating shapes that form whimsical animals to transform your bebe’s crib into a high-contrast gallery. $12.95 • weegallery.com

Lamaze: Up-to-date curriculum focusing on normal, natural and healthy decision making. There’s an intense lean on labor support and comfort measures. Bradley: Preparation for natural birth without medication and an emphasis on avoidance of Cesarean. Hypnobirthing: Using visualization to enter a state of relaxation while remaining in control of labor and birth. Birthing from Within: Encourages birth-in-awareness, rather than striving for — or getting attached to — a certain outcome. Don’t sweat this decision too much. Ask around. Dig a bit. And you’ll find the right class for you. Most birth classes will give you a ton of information, tips and tricks. You will be prepared — and birth will still surprise you. Let it. Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two living in St. Paul.

Shannon Keough


To your health “I

can’t imagine what you’ve been going through, Shannon,” said Mary. “I’ll grab you a glass of wine.” I had just arrived at Mary’s front door, stopping by to pick up my two kids whom she had generously hosted for the afternoon. This was back when my husband, Nick, was going through cancer treatment. Our friends had been so helpful — delivering meals to our porch, offering to clean our house and inviting the kids over for extended playdates, giving me time to catch up with my caregiving duties. “No, thanks,” I said. “I’m not really drinking during Nick’s treatment.” “Oh,” she said. She seemed surprised. “Are you sure?”

Fun parents I couldn’t fault her for being surprised. Prior to Nick’s diagnosis, we were among the “fun parents,” who would always accept a drink. We’d meet up with other families at kid-friendly breweries and bars. Our children’s birthday parties featured bouncy houses, spiderweb mazes and, naturally, plenty of booze for the adults on hand. And we were by no means alone in our habits. All the other parents were knocking them back, too. Coolers of beer appeared at wholesome beach outings. Mimosas were poured at Easter egg hunts. At a 10 a.m. kids’ show at First Ave —

Prior to Nick’s diagnosis, we were among the ‘fun parents,’ who would always accept a drink. 14

October 2019 • mnparent.com

Curtiss A’s band covering Beatles songs — the majority of parents were clutching drinks while their children capered about under a giant parachute. Until I took a break from drinking, none of this seemed out of the ordinary.

Uncorked A quick Google search confirms what seems obvious: Drinking is on the rise in the United States, particularly among women. According to a 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use disorder among American women increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013. High-risk drinking

(defined as more than three drinks in a day or seven in a week for females) increased by about 58 percent among women during the same period. These sorts of statistics are relatively easy to dismiss if you’re a “together” sort of person who hasn’t experienced any serious consequences from alcohol: Parenting is hard. What’s a glass or two of wine in the evening? Haven’t we “earned” it? After a lot of uncomfortable, clearheaded thought, I’ve come to believe that what we’ve “earned” is a tough road. The U.S. proves itself on every front to be highly ambivalent when it comes to women and families. Affordable child

care? Health care as a right and not a privilege? Bodily autonomy for women? “LOL!” says Mitch McConnell. According to recent research cited in a Today article, while men tend to use alcohol for its positive reinforcement — in other words, to have fun — “Women are more likely to turn to alcohol for its negative, reinforcing effects — to decrease feeling bad, and temporarily melt away some anxiety and stress.” You don’t say. TODDLER STUFF

Best buddies

Reinforce your tot’s nighttime routine with a quick bedtime story, followed by a ceremonial “tucking in” of six animals into the six plush pockets of this mini blanket, dubbed the Bright Basics Snuggly. $21.99 • target.com

Epilepsy Foundation of MN MNP 1019 H2.indd 1

The power of vanity Let’s say this is more or less true — that the women of America are drinking alcohol in ever-increasing amounts in order to dull the pain of living in this trauma-nation. We want things to change (OK, I want things to change), but let’s face it — nothing is going to change overnight. So, if “that’s all there is,” why not “break out the booze and have a ball?”

I will tell you why not — because alcohol will destroy your appearance. I could tell you that you should cut down on drinking because it causes cancer and destroys your sleep. This will probably not make you change your behaviors, however. But you know what might? If I tell you that you might lose 20 pounds effortlessly, transforming from an irritable, bloated individual to a radiant, well-rested power-person. If you want more proof, just google “sober transformations.” Or if you want the other kind of proof, check out the social media profiles of your most beautiful friends who also happen to be big drinkers. Look at their pictures from 10 years ago — and then look at them now. As petty as it is, vanity can be incredibly motivating. Shannon Keough lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com.

9/12/19 1:08 PM

mnparent.com • October 2019


Teachers can only do so much Y

ou are your child’s most important teacher. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, but I’m going to take this opportunity to shout out from my writer-teacher-mama soapbox to reiterate and emphasize this truth. I’ve been an educator in the public school system for the past 19 years. I’m on the front lines, so to speak, stepping into a classroom full of young children each school day. My life’s work is dedicated to helping students learn and grow both academically and socially. One thing I’ve learned in my teaching tenure is that there are limits to what I can do for my students. I cannot wake them up and get them on the bus each day. I cannot read to them or listen to them read each evening before their (age-appropriate) bedtimes. I cannot be at their home, making sure the papers that come home from school get unpacked from their folder (and looked at) each day. Things like this are out of my control as an educator, but they’re all simple ways you can make a big difference in your child’s education.

Be involved Numerous research studies have shown that parental involvement in education has a powerful impact on academic outcomes — including higher grades and test scores, school attendance, social skills and behavior — even more than other factors, such as family income or background. Being involved in your child’s education doesn’t mean you have to be the president of the PTA. (Although all schools certainly need and appreciate volunteers who are able to go above and beyond to support students and


October 2019 • mnparent.com

teachers in these important roles). A study published by the Educational Testing Service found that 90 percent of the difference in eighth-grade mathematics test scores were due to factors such as avoiding absenteeism, having a variety of reading materials at home and limiting television watching. You can create a home environment that supports learning by doing these five things: • Create study habits: Monitor screen time and make time for at-home reading each day. This is a valuable habit that has profound educational benefits. If your child doesn’t come home with enough books from school, I highly recommend utilizing your public library as a resource for literature. • Set a homework routine: Maybe this would be in an after-school program, or at home at a consistent time, such as before or after dinner. Having a designated time allows everyone involved to budget mental energy, which can help alleviate stress and power struggles.

• Get your kid to bed: It’s vital to get to bed — and get to school — on time. Adequate sleep is an important factor in student success. When we’re well-rested, it’s better for our mental health, resiliency and self-control. Families who get enough sleep are more likely to get up and out the door on time, which contributes positively to good attendance, another important factor in student success. • Follow along closely: Reading school-to-home correspondences is important for caregivers. These often come in the form of emails from teachers or principals, completed work or class newsletters. Being on top of school communication is an important step in understanding what’s happening in your child’s school and classroom and can inspire conversations about learning, too. • Find your kid’s interests: Support topics your child is learning about and is interested in at home. You can do this with conversations, books and videos and family outings.

Give Your Child the Gift of a Great Education! Why Choose Hennepin Schools? 1. Whittier’s top-performing public school 2. 15:1 student to teacher ratio 3. Extended school days (8:45–4:15) 4. Free busing for Minneapolis residents To learn more or apply, please call 612-843-5050 [se habla espanol] or visit us at www.hennepinschools.org SCHOOL-AGE STUFF

Jigsaws with a twist

If your kids love puzzles, be sure to check out PuzzleTwist, offering many jigsaws with Minnesota-specific art — such as local city skylines, Paisley Park, the waterfront in Duluth, Babe the Blue Ox and even the Boundary Waters, to name a few. Bonus: Many of the puzzles come “with a twist,” in which the puzzle in the box is different from the picture on the front of the box.


Enrolling now for K–8!

9/17/19 2:41 PM

$20 • puzzletwist.com

One example from my household is my son’s interest in the U.S Coast Guard. When he was in kindergarten, his teacher read him a Coast Guard rescue story that sparked his curiosity. Since then, he’s found many more books, videos and toys to support his learning about this branch of the service. Our whole family has learned about the Coast Guard through his self-directed study. We’ve even made visits to several stations on family trips near big waters. He’s only in the fourth grade, but he’s already set his sights on studying at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a career of service in the Coast Guard. There are certainly many more ways in which you can support your child’s education from home, but these ideas are a great place to start! Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four school-age children in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines — at megdevine.com.

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2/11/19 11:27 AM

mnparent.com • October 2019


Katie Dohman


Never, ever enough time L

ike Jessie Spano of Saved by the Bell memorably sobbed: “There’s never any time!” There isn’t. I’m constantly fighting the clock. Get kids up, fed, dressed, packed for the day, out the door so I can work, so I can pick them up on time, dinner, nighttime routine forevermore, amen. They don’t even do any scheduled activities yet! (Another thing I feel I’ve failed on, FYI.) I’m not a fan of this rinse-repeat cycle in any way whatsoever, and yet any time I’ve tried to change it, I’ve just had to hit the button again, like when I forget laundry in the washing machine overnight. There’s also the subdivision of time with my kids: Who gets what? And when? Our oldest, Ruby, is so independent and just so good that I often don’t worry about her. As for the boys, one really needs a constant eye on him, if you know what I mean, and one is still just needy because, well, he could choke on something or eat cleaning supplies or jump off the stairs and whack his head. Someone once said or wrote — in any case I heard it or read it and filed it away — “Fair is when everybody gets what they need,” which has sort of been my guiding light whenever I feel the Scales of Attention get tipped toward one kid. (I mean, fairness to me or my husband is really not even in the picture, so let’s just be honest about that right up front.) Ruby is old enough to complain about this from time to time: “You’re always paying attention to someone else,” she will accuse. She’s not wrong. I apologize and try to rebalance. But sometimes it just is what it is.


October 2019 • mnparent.com

I know in my heart that I’m a good mom. I know that I love my kids. I know that I’m affectionate with them. I make sure they have all the things they need — and then some. But I have major Mom Guilt over lots of things, most notably the Time Situation. And there’s this undercurrent of doubt: Am I really doing a good enough job? I wonder whether I could do it better, if I was more patient or more efficient or just a better human being? If I was perfect? I know it sounds nuts. But it’s true. I also need my own time. I spend a lot of my time at my computer, alone at home. And sometimes I need to get out with other adults and do work that feeds my soul. I’m fortunate because I have an all-in partner who I frankly believe does a better job of being present with our kids than I do. He can access that joyful, inner kid with them so quickly, and I’m so grateful for that.

Am I really doing a good enough job? I wonder whether I could do it better, if I was more patient or more efficient or just a better human being? If I was perfect? I know it sounds nuts. But it’s true. He also is great at supporting me doing my extracurriculars, like waiting in line for hours to take a photo with Elizabeth Warren at a rally. Despite his encouragement, I think to myself, that is time away from an already-starved resource. Yesterday I had my hands full. We’d just

Photo by Katie Thering Photography


Ear buds

Tracy Walsh Photography MNP 0419 H6.indd 1

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AirSounds True Wireless Earbuds: Reviews said they worked as well as Airpods for a fraction of the price, so I gave ’em a shot. The hype is real. Super-easy to sync to your headphone-jack-free iPhone. — Katie Dohman $30 • shop.popsci.com and tinyurl.com/air-sounds

returned from a short, glorious family weekend away. I was unpacking; we were trying to find William’s wallet, fixing the lawnmower, getting everyone in the bathtub, laundry. Ruby told me to go check my desk. Then she told me again. And again. I kept putting it off in favor of all the other stuff that I felt “needed” to be done. Finally, I made it upstairs. There were four small notes, accessorized with stickers. I love my mom. Mom is amasinge. Mom is cool. Mom is a good prsin. I went in the bathroom and cried for a solid two minutes. It took me far too long to see the message she was sending. And it hit a sore spot I didn’t even realize I had. Mom is a good prsin. Katie Dohman is currently living in the midst of a total full-house renovation with her three kids, two pets and one husband. Follow her adventures at instagram.com/dohmicile. MN Autism Center MNP 1019 S3.indd 1

8/27/19 4:51 PM

mnparent.com • October 2019


Laura Ramsborg


On being ‘woke’ I

was introduced to the meaning behind the term “woke” in the fall of 2018, about one year after it was officially added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. I was teaching a literacy course at St. Catherine University, and one of my students created a project focused on the topic of being woke. The term “woke,” which originates from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), is defined by Merriam-Webster as: Aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice). As an educator and parent, I have a vested interest in equity work, but I didn’t realize that a lot of my previous learning had been shallow. As a white teacher in a diverse school, I was driven to seek deeper, more authentic equity learning. It’s the very least — and perhaps the most important kind of learning — I can do for my students.  Equity has become a prioritized focus for many school districts, workplaces and

even houses of worship, offering opportunities for genuine learning. When people think about equity education, they may assume it’s learning about diversity, culture and people of color. But I’ve since learned that true equity work for me must begin with self-awareness, looking within and exploring my own whiteness.

Looking inward What does it mean to be white? My first response to this question was confusion. What does it mean to be white? I thought it didn’t mean anything. (Stay with me, reader, I’ve evolved.) I’ve learned this is not an uncommon belief among white people. However, a 2016 Teaching Tolerance article, Why Talk About Whiteness, emphasizes this point: “While it’s true that whiteness is seen as a social default, it is not true that whiteness is the absence of race or culture.”  My awakening started with reading the

I have a vested interest in equity work, but I didn’t realize that a lot of my previous learning had been shallow. book Waking Up White by Debby Irving. Irving’s purpose for writing the book echoes the impact it had on me: “My hope is that by sharing my sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, I offer a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners and tolerance.” Like Irving, I had no idea that not thinking about my own whiteness was directly tied to what it means to be white. As Robin DiAngelo writes, “If I cannot tell you what it means to be white, I cannot understand what it means to not be white.”  I have the luxury of not even considering what my race means. I’m not confronted by the realities of my racial status on a daily basis. I can choose to consider, question and define (for myself) what my race means to me. 

Going deeper I continued in my equity journey by reading the works of DiAngelo, Zaretta Hammond, Michelle Alexander and Ijeoma Oluo, and listening to podcasts such as Scene on Radio’s Seeing White series. What I’ve learned is impossible to sum up succinctly, but I can say this: Combating racism is not about being a “nice” white person, or having friends who are people of color, or living in a diverse neighborhood. Combating racism is about understanding silent racism and


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implicit bias, and challenging systems that perpetuate oppression. My learning has completely shifted my worldview — I’ve been woke and now it’s nearly impossible to go back to unawareness, although sometimes it’s tempting. These resources contain challenging, difficult truths. They’ve made me think about the students I teach, the families I serve and my own children. They all deserve better. Equity work is too critical, too important for me to stop. I need to “stay woke” so I can do better and be better. Step one is awareness; step two is action. Laura Ramsborg is a literacy coach, writer and mother of three daughters. She lives and works in Bloomington. Follow her on Twitter at @Ms.RamsborgReads. Rain Taxi MNP 1019 S3.indd 1

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mnparent.com • October 2019


Dr. Gigi Chawla

Is my child ready for the front seat? Q: At what age can my child sit in the front seat? I’ve heard it’s not just about height or weight, but also about bone development.

A: The transitions out of a booster seat to a regular seat, and from a rear seat to a front seat, can be confusing because there are differing state laws as well as various recommendations from national health organizations (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics) and government agencies, including the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. All these organizations have aligned on at least some of their recommendations using evidence gathered from motor vehicle accidents involving children. Collectively, they recommend:

Q: My son, age 12, says he feels like he is a girl. He wants to know how he would go about living as a female. What is your advice from a medical perspective?


October 2019 • mnparent.com

⊲⊲ Once children outgrow their car seats by height or weight, they should remain in the rear seat of the vehicle in booster seats that assist with appropriately positioning a seatbelt across a child’s lap and across their shoulder. ⊲⊲ Children are generally able to transition out of a booster seat at 4 feet 9 inches tall and between ages 8–12, but should still remain in the rear seat of the car, using the standard seat belt with a shoulder strap over the shoulder. ⊲⊲ Once children are 13 years old (no weight criteria or further height criteria), they may sit in the front seat of a vehicle, using the standard seat belt with appropriate positioning. The state laws are quite variable, however.

A: It can be confusing and overwhelming when kids at any age question their gender identity or identify as transgender. Unfortunately, transgender and gender-diverse kids experience significant stigma and health disparities. The key to protecting them and helping build resilience is parental love and support. The first step is to reassure your children that they can safely discuss their gender concerns with you and that you love them unconditionally, regardless of their gender identity or expression. In this pre-pubertal/peri-pubertal age, the message we give to parents is to “support without steering.” Let your child explore the expression of their

In Minnesota, a vehicle may be stopped as a primary offense for young children not being secured in car seats ($50 violation) or for older children not secured with seatbelts ($25 violation). Minnesota’s statute for seatbelts (169.685) notes that children who are both younger than 8 years old and shorter than 4-foot-9 must be in a car seat or booster seat, but doesn’t place legal restrictions for transitioning from the rear seat to front seat after that age or above that height. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, laws in neighboring states are

gender identity to see what feels best. This may include allowing your child to select clothing, hairstyle and — if they insist — a preferred name and pronoun that align with their gender identity. If puberty is starting or has started for your child, there is the option to hit “pause” on puberty through the use of reversible puberty-blocking medications. Pausing puberty can give children time to reflect on their gender identity, without them having to simultaneously go through the permanent changes of puberty. This type of treatment is typically combined with psychotherapy and is undertaken in consultation with a gender health specialist to help

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similarly permissive for front-seat passenger age in Wisconsin and North Dakota and more permissive in Iowa (age 6) and South Dakota (age 5). Despite the permissiveness of some laws, parents should remember that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children age 4 and older. So, although children may want to join you in the front seat of the car for entertainment value, the rear seat remains the safer location for kids age 12 and younger.

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Parents can learn more about this topic and find resources at tinyurl.com/hrc-trans-kids. children as they explore their identity and expression. Children’s Minnesota offers a Gender Health Program to help kids and their families. You can call 612-813-7950 to make an appointment with specialists in pediatric and adolescent gender health to ask questions and/or explore the option of puberty-pausing medication. Dr. Gigi Chawla is a board-certified pediatrician and the chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota. Aris Clinic Activated Growth MNP 1019 H4.indd 1

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mnparent.com • October 2019


Heidi Croatt


It’s not always about sex

Q: My 4-year-old asked, ‘Where did I come from?’ How much is he ready to know?

A: This is the big question we all worry about answering: How much is too much? When is it too early? Too late? Here’s what you need to know: To best answer this question, you need to think about some key factors. First, age matters. The way you respond to your 4-year-old will be different from your 7-year-old. Kids this age are “geographers,” which means their brains like to focus on where things are and what they’re called. Developmentally, they don’t need more than that. Another key factor: Your son asked where he personally came from, which is different than asking where babies come from. The best response we can give for any question is to say: “What do you think?” This models conversational skills and shows kids we want to talk with them 24

October 2019 • mnparent.com

— and not just provide information every time, which can inadvertently shut down future conversations. A real conversation can also give you a sense of what your child is really asking. Does your child want to know if he’s from Texas or Minnesota? Does he want to know if he came from a hospital or home birth? Or does he want to know how babies are made? If he just wants to know the location of his birth, that’s easy to answer. If he’s interested in how babies are made, then remember he’s a “geographer” and probably just needs some names and labels. That’s why age and the wording of the question are so important. “Geographers” should know that it takes a man’s body and a woman’s body to make a baby —because it does: No matter how your baby came to your family — IVF, adoption, biologically — it always takes part of a man’s body and part of a woman’s

body. They should know that inside of a man’s body is something called sperm and inside of a woman’s body is something called an egg. If that sperm and egg meet, sometimes a baby is made. That’s it! That’s your script! Most geographers will be satisfied with that answer; you’ve honored their curiosity by answering their question, you’ve reminded them you like to talk about things with them, you provided a truthful response and you gave them language to understand what’s happening. If your preschooler wants to know more, he’ll ask more. If your kids don’t ask more questions, they don’t need to know more at that point. You can wait for the next question they ask you — until about second or third grade. By then, you might need to initiate more conversation — more on that another time.

Q: My 3-year-old is obsessed with touching herself and rubbing herself against things. Is this normal? A: Kids this age love touching things. It’s a sensory experience and completely normal. You just might prefer they don’t do it in the shopping cart at Target, right? When you notice this behavior, simply call attention to what you notice: “Does your vagina itch? Is your underwear bugging you?” This addresses your observation without showing any worry or causing any shame. Many kids don’t realize they’re touching themselves, and will stop when we draw attention to it. Other kids might actually have an itch or their underwear might actually be bothering them, and you would want to know that anyway. For some kids, it just feels good to touch themselves. We can understand that, right? But it’s not sexual for kids at this age; they aren’t receiving sexual pleasure from touching themselves. They simply are noticing a sensation. It either feels good when they do it or they’re just curious about what they’re feeling. All we need to do is let them know we see what they’re doing. And if you really don’t want them doing it at Target, you can say, “I know it can feel good to touch yourself and that’s totally normal. In our family, we just prefer to do that in our bedroom or bathroom where we have more privacy. Later, would you like to go to your room for a few minutes where you can have privacy?” Think about being matter-of-fact and calm. The majority of young children who touch themselves are just fine and there’s nothing to worry about! Heidi Croatt is a professor and researcher who lives in Maple Grove with her husband and their two young kids. She holds a Ph.D. in family communication and regularly speaks to parenting groups in the Twin Cities with her program, Beyond Birds and Bees: Communicating Your Values to Raise Sexually Healthy Kids. Learn more at communicatingyourvalues.com.

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Spreading Hope to Families of Micro-Preemie Babies, One Potato at a Time. thepotatoheadproject.org

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mnparent.com • October 2019


Sarah Jackson


POCKETS Grab-and-go breakfasts are easy to find in the freezer section at the store, but what if you could make your own — without all those added ingredients? You can! In fact, the kids can help roll out this easy homemade crust and then choose their favorite veggies for the filling, too.



1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

6 large eggs

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 cups all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt (You can also use premade, rollout pie crust from the store.) Egg wash 1 egg ½ cup milk or water Photos by Isabel Fajardo / isabelfajardo.com


October 2019 • mnparent.com

½ cup shredded cheese 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 bell pepper, diced (optional) 2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed (optional) 1 pound of bacon, cooked and chopped to make 1 cup (optional)

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat cream cheese and softened butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour and salt gradually to butter mixture and beat until smooth. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a ball, then flatten into discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and add your choice of vegetables, stirring occasionally until tender. Beat eggs until light and fluffy, then add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and shredded cheese. Add egg mixture to skillet, stirring occasionally until eggs are fully cooked and incorporated with vegetables. Set aside to cool. Roll out the pie crust to about 1⁄8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut out 4-inch circles with a circular cookie cutter, small bowl or the metal band of a large mason jar. (You should be able to get about 12 to 16 circles to create six to eight round pockets.) Set pie dough rounds on a parchmentlined baking sheet and spoon about ¼ cup of the egg and veggie mixture onto each round, leaving about ¼ inch of dough around the edges. Brush the edges of rounds with egg wash and top each round with another round of pie dough, then crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Cut slits on the top of each pocket and brush remaining egg wash over tops. Bake for 11–14 minutes or until golden brown. Store in refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for 3–6 months. Reheat in microwave on high for 2 minutes or in conventional/toaster oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Olivia Volkman-Johnson is a freelance writer who is studying to become a pastry chef.

Ed Dykhuizen


Bookworm food

Some books explicitly try to create little bibliophiles by fostering a love of reading and/or teaching basic literacy concepts. These entertaining reads — some of the best we’ve ever seen — do just that in five dramatically different and innovative ways.

There’s no shortage of alphabet books, in which A is for apple or some other word starting with A; B is for bear or banana; and X is always for X-ray or xylophone. This book, the latest of a series, has fun with the format by serving up words like “ailurophile” and “bioluminescent” instead. Part of the fun is watching grown-ups try to pronounce each word! Ages 4–6 • $17.99

Todd Bol became a local hero after launching the Little Free Library movement from his yard in Hudson, Wisconsin. See if you can avoid getting chills, or maybe shedding a tear or two, while reading this inspirational and lovingly illustrated true story. Ages 4–7 • $17.99

Few books encourage a love of reading with the wit of this spin on the traditional tale. Because she’s read extensively about wolves, Little Red stays calm and in control throughout her journey through the forest … until the ending, which abandons the original’s storyline (which is pretty brutal, when you think about it) in favor of a charming twist. Ages 4–8 • $17.99


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Here the ABCs provide a framing device for 26 valuable lessons about becoming your best self, from embracing adventure to being one in a zillion. (Thankfully, for X they went with “excitement” rather than trying to shoehorn in something about X-rays or xylophones!) Ages 4–8 • $17.99

Learning abstract concepts — such as what a noun is — can be tough for kids. This book makes it easier by packing each page with loads of examples, goofy characters and entertaining illustrations. Capstone is simultaneously releasing books about adjectives, adverbs and all the other parts of speech, too. Ages 5–8 • $7.95 Ed Dykhuizen is an associate editor at Minnesota Parent and father of three, who lives in St. Paul.

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Ag in the city Photos courtesy of AFSA

A Twin Cities charter school with an agriculture emphasis is now offering a K–12 curriculum with two suburban campuses BY AMANDA WEBSTER


o you know where your salad comes from? Or what’s in the pesticide you’re about to spray on your lawn? Or how to tell whether that weird thing your dog is doing requires a trip to the vet? These are only a few of the questions students might investigate at the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (AFSA) — a public K–12 charter school with a longtime campus in Vadnais Heights and a new K–8 location in Little Canada. In addition to a familiar curriculum that includes English, math and social studies, students at AFSA learn the fundamentals of agriculture, an industry growing by nearly 60,000 jobs per year, according to the USDA.

mnparent.com • October 2019


Along with reciting Macbeth or rehearsing the school musical, students might study plastic alternatives made from milk proteins or chemical-free food preservation techniques. They also grow 75% of the lettuce used in the lunch program as well as thousands of plants for the annual Mother’s Day plant sale. (Last year, sales totaled nearly $10,000.) AFSA — founded in 2001 to offer agriculture education in the city — is one of a handful of ag-focused schools in major metro areas around the country. With food and ag giants like Cargill and Land O’ Lakes headquartered in Minnesota, not to mention the University of Minnesota’s well-respected agriculture programs, it’s no wonder the AFSA has seen interest in its program rise year after year.

Connecting the dots When Isabella Forliti, a 2019 graduate, first arrived at AFSA in seventh grade, she


October 2019 • mnparent.com

didn’t know much about agriculture. “It’s not a word I heard much, to be honest,” she said.  Though she was initially attracted to the school’s special offerings, including welding classes and an on-site greenhouse, she said her biggest takeaway has been the agricultural education she’s received.   “We get stereotyped a lot as ‘the farming school’” she said, “We look at it from a different perspective. We’re doing agriculture in the city.” Although students do spend some time visiting and working on farms throughout the year, the school’s curriculum is focused on five core areas of science and agriculture — animal science, plant science, environmental science, food science and mechanical science and engineering. Students also get real-world experience through career days, college visits and nearly 100 field trips per year in which they might learn firsthand what it’s like to be a veterinarian, plant biologist, food chemist, welder or even animal nutritionist. 

Twice a year the students at AFSA volunteer at city parks, pumpkin patches, urban farms, horse ranches, and more to do weeding, planting and fall/spring cleanup work.

These STEM-focused opportunities are available in part because the school owns and operates its own buses, rather than contracting out to an external company. Becky Meyer, the executive director of the school, said owning buses gives the school more flexibility to get students off campus and out into the real world to show them what’s possible, so they can make more informed choices about their lives after school. “A lot of students would not know about the jobs that are in agriculture if they weren’t here,” she said, “You can’t go into a career area if you don’t know it exists.” As Forliti begins the next chapter of her life at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, she said AFSA has inspired her to pursue a career in communications and journalism with an emphasis in agriculture. 

Meet a Mermaid

Feed a Stingray

Pet a Tortoise “Agriculture is everything.” she said. “It’s what you wear, it’s what you eat. You can’t escape it. It’s important to me to spread the word, to make people aware of how important that farm-to-table connection is.”

Seeking smaller classes A lot of families are attracted to AFSA not necessarily because of the agricultural component, but because of its small class sizes and experiential learning opportunities. With an average high school class size of 19 and elementary and middle school class sizes of 24, students can find a lot of opportunity for individual attention. For parents Tim and Dana Harstad, that was a big draw. They moved their two children, Kara (grade 11) and Alex (grade 8) to the school three years ago and say both kids have thrived in the supportive atmosphere. The agriculture curriculum was a bonus and has only strengthened their

natural interests. Kara, an avid animal lover, now plans to become a large-animal veterinarian, while Alex has developed an even greater love for gardening since coming to the school, and he now maintains his own greenhouse at home.

Fostering community One thing that keeps families at AFSA is the sense of belonging the school works to instill in its broader community.   Extracurricular activities include dance, drama, art, youth in government, athletics, robotics, quiz bowl, birding and much more, so the school can provide plenty of opportunities for students to find their own place, no matter where their interests lie.  All students at the school also become members of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America or FFA.  Through the FFA, which is geared toward kids interested in agriculture,

and Much More!

mnparent.com • October 2019


Agriculture is everything. It’s what you wear, it’s what you eat. You can’t escape it. It’s important to me to spread the word, to make people aware of how important that farm-to-table connection is. — Isabella Forliti, a 2019 graduate of AFSA

students can participate in competitions, science fairs and social activities as well as develop leadership skills and cultivate relationships with other FFA members around the country. Meyer said many students benefit in even bigger ways. “I’ve seen numerous quite-shy kids go on to become officers or even president, which means they talk in front of people a lot,” she said. “We really work on those real-world experiences to help them.” The supportive atmosphere at AFSA extends into the parent community. The Harstads have been especially impressed with parent engagement at the school. “We’ve never been involved at a school until we moved to AFSA,” Dana Harstad said. “We want to support all the kids here, not just our kids.” Tim Harstad said: “It encourages us, as parents, to be that much more involved when we see the enthusiasm of the faculty. Being involved is what makes things happen.” Twice a year the students at AFSA volunteer in the school’s surrounding communities with service days at city parks, pumpkin patches, urban farms, horse ranches, homes for veterans and more. Students complete tasks such as weeding, planting and fall/spring cleanup work.  Another example of community-building is the school’s annual Potato Hog event, in which parents make and sell baked potatoes while students sell items they’ve made for their required SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience). Funds from the baked potato bar cover the cost of the next year’s event while students gain entrepreneurial skills and even profits from their sales of handmade jewelry and woodworking creations as well as food items such as freshly baked bread and honey. “They have to price it and market it and keep records and sell it as if they are a vendor anywhere else,” Meyer said. It’s those kinds of opportunities, connections and community-building activities that inspire families from more than 27 school districts, some more than 40 miles away, to attend the school. The Harstads, who moved out to Circle Pines just last year, didn’t want to give up the school community they had come to love. Fortunately, the school accommodated their move by adding a bus stop closer to their house — and the kids are happy to make the hour-long trek every day.

Expanding into K–4 AFSA began as a 9–12 school and added middle school in 2011, all on the same campus at Vadnais Heights. As interest in the school grew, the school developed plans to add an elementary program.   In September, AFSA opened its doors to students in kindergarten through fourth grade in a new building in Little Canada. This new location now houses the K–8 program, just five minutes south of the original school, while the Vadnais Heights location has returned to its roots as a high school. AFSA’s elementary program will use an inquiry-based approach in addition to real-world experiences much like the middle and high schools, while the play-based

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Learn more The Academy for Sciences and Agriculture campuses are at 2925 Country Drive, Little Canada (K–8) and 100 Vadnais Blvd., Vadnais Heights (grades 9–12, above). To apply for a place at the schools, go to afsahighschool.com. If you would like to set up a tour or shadow day, contact Liz Burkwald at 612-260-2665 or lburkwald@afsahighschool.com. AFSA summer programming includes N.E.R.D. Camp, which is open to all Minnesota residents in grades K–8 and includes hands-on experiences in a variety of STEM fields with morning, afternoon and full-day options. Contact Stephanie Forliti at 651-209-3910 or stephanieforliti@afsahighschool.com for more details.

kindergarten will emphasize social-emotional development and hands-on learning. Agricultural studies will be integrated into the daily curriculum along with science, cultural studies, math and reading. While about 30% of AFSA students do go on to pursue ag-related post-secondary education (an impressive number when most students begin with little to no background in agriculture), the bigger goal is to inspire students to be ag-literate thinkers and educated consumers, Meyer said. “Everyone depends on agriculture at some basic level,” Meyer said. That certainly is true, and as global population growth and climate change put increasing pressure on our world’s natural resources, it will undoubtedly become more important to equip the students of today with the skills and passion necessary to solve the agricultural challenges of tomorrow. Amanda Webster lives in Roseville with her husband and two kids. Find her at amandawebsterwrites.com.

mnparent.com • October 2019


Toning down tech


››› This fall, my 8-year-old daughter started third grade. She also received a Chromebook, provided by the school to support her education. And we embarked on a new challenge as a family — how to help our child find a balance with technology use.  Technology is a part of our lives — for both parents and kids. And learning tech skills is critical to ensuring that our children are ready to compete in a global economy. And now, thanks to the availability of individual devices, schools can more easily offer personalized learning options for students. Many districts throughout the state have become 1-to-1 districts, which means that each child is provided with a device — usually a Chromebook or an iPad — for academic purposes. Most 1:1 devices travel everywhere with a student, including home. With this device comes incredible access to a mind-boggling amount of information.

However, it also demands incredible responsibility from both parents and kids. That includes how to take care of the device and avoid damage fees; how to manage time; how to practice selfcontrol using the device for — mostly — academic purposes; and learning the basics of digital citizenship. As parents, it’s an overwhelming prospect and many of us don’t know where to begin. How will our kids learn to navigate the digital world? How can we best support them to ensure technology becomes a part of their lives, but not the central focus? How can we model and enforce responsible technology use without becoming too restrictive? To find out, we dug into the research and probed the minds of local and national experts. Here are four simple steps families can take to tame their technology use at home (and away).

Step 1 Understand the brain Right now, we don’t know the long-term impact of technology use on developing brains because there isn’t enough available research with definitive results. However, some alarming research has surfaced recently about the potential side effects of technology use and screen time on kids. With excessive use (not necessarily moderate use), kids can face developmental delays and decreased brain matter; behavioral issues; decreased cognitive performance; and decreased verbal capabilities. While these studies were published by pediatric journals and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, related news stories often gloss over some of the studies’ complexities. Although there may be an association between screen time and certain factors, an association isn’t the same thing as a cause-and-effect relationship. And yet, pediatric researchers and physicians do know that tech use impacts brain chemistry. Local pediatrician Dr. Allison Golnik, who works at M Health Fairview Children’s Clinic in Minneapolis, references the work of pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig in his book, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains. In a nutshell, screen time increases dopamine, a “reward” neurotransmitter that makes people feel pleasure. Dopamine also can be increased through substances

(such as addictive drugs and sugar) and behaviors (such as exercise). Meanwhile, serotonin, the “contentment” neurotransmitter, is increased through interpersonal relationships, the satisfaction of overcoming challenges and making personal contributions, such as helping a friend. (Exercise can also boost serotonin levels.) Serotonin, however, Lustig argues, can become overwhelmed by our bodies’ drive for dopamine and the constant quest for more of it through sugar, drugs and even social media use. Kids in front of screens can suffer too through the displacement other activities, such as exercise, physical touch, hands-on exploration of the world and face-to-face social interaction, all of which are important to learning and development, not to mention and two other feel-good neurotransmitters — endorphins and oxytocin.

Step 2 Create a tech plan Like many things in life, too much of a good thing can be damaging, and balance is key. But, how can we help our kids maintain a healthy amount of tech use when it seems so addictive? Dr. Delaney Rushton, a Stanford-trained physician and creator of the awardwinning film Screenagers, advises having discussions with your kids about how to manage technology.

Rushton recommends something like her own family’s “Tech Talk Tuesday,” a planned conversation each week between kids and parents about technology in their lives. Rushton also encourages parents to give kids some input about how the family structures tech parameters. For example, when it’s time to turn off devices, Rushton suggests asking kids, “Is it better if I give you a 5-minute warning or a 10-minute warning?” Golnik — a mother of three and a pediatrician with more than 12 years of experience — has also found a collaborative approach to be most effective. She suggests starting the conversation by asking kids: Do you like screen time? Then, do you think screen time is good or bad for your brain? Do you think you do too much screen time, or a healthy amount? “Technology is right here and we need to deal with it,” Golnik said. “It’s so ingrained into our culture. We can’t tell kids, ‘It’s horrible and you can’t have it.’” Instead of trying to completely restrict technology use, work with your kids to develop a family technology plan. Be consistent and ensure all family members follow the agreed-on plan. Sites such as healthychildren.org and commonsensemedia.org offer excellent resources for creating family technology plans. Tasha Guswiler of Bloomington, a mother of two girls and an elementary art teacher in Prior Lake, shared her family’s technology norms: “During the school year, screen time comes after everything else. Homework, meals and family


mnparent.com • October 2019


time take priority over everything. Weekends are a little bit more flexible, as long as the to-do list is done.”

Step 3 Set clear boundaries Although designing a technology plan together as a family is ideal, sometimes clear boundaries must be defined. Parents should feel empowered to take away a device when necessary — even if it was provided by school — and especially if its use is interfering with sleep. Schools provide devices to enrich a child’s academics, not to cause sleep deprivation. Even after your child turns off a device, its use prior to bedtime can impact quality of sleep. “It has long been known that use of screens correlate with lower-quality sleep in children,” Golnik said. “Pediatricians always recommend no screens (TV, computer, smart phone) for one to two hours prior to going to bed. More recently, we know the blue light from screens suppresses melatonin, which interferes with sleep.” Some parents decide to get creative by

working with technology instead of against it. Carrie Sophaphanh, a mom of three from Bloomington, is able to use her home’s Wi-Fi network to set screen-time limits: “Each device has a ‘bedtime,’ when it no longer works, as well as a daily screen-time limit. I can also change the amount of screen time, depending on the day. On the weekends, my kids can earn more screen time.”

Step 4 Model balanced behavior Whether we like it or not, kids pay far more attention to what we do than what we say. While it’s tempting to check a text during dinner or scroll through the news headlines during a lull in conversation, being mindful of the precedents we’re setting is critical. Rushton cautions against handing kids a device as a distraction when they’re bored or agitated, and urges parents to consider if we’re “training kids to turn to a screen whenever they’re uncomfortable or upset.” To maintain focus on positive interactions, many families try adopting “device-

How much screen time is OK? The most recent media-use recommendations for children from the American Academy of Pediatrics include: »»Zero screen time, except video chatting, for ages 0–18 months »»One hour or less per day of high-quality programming (such as Sesame Street) for ages 2–5 years »»Two hours or less daily for ages 6 and older, plus consistent limits and ensuring technology use doesn’t take the place physical activity or disrupt or reduce sleep.

free dinners.” Meals offer valuable time for engaging as a family and modeling how to have enjoyable conversations. If we want our kids to continue talking to us and sharing their lives with us, we need to be fully present now — even if it means listening to them categorize every Hatchimal or Transformer they own. Thrive Global blogger Pauline Harley also recommends cultivating a practice of being present by unplugging from time to time: “Disconnect so you can reconnect. Think about how social media, emails and technology, in general, can overcrowd our time and energy.” Next time you and your kids walk to the park, try leaving your phone at home — on purpose. Parents have the power to make a huge positive impact: We can teach children to responsibly balance technology by modeling how to do it in our own lives.  Laura Ramsborg is a literacy coach, writer and mother of three daughters. She lives and works in Bloomington. Follow her on Twitter at @Ms.RamsborgReads.


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October 2019 • mnparent.com

The Minnesota Waldorf School in Roseville emphasizes social-emotional development and a connection to the natural world. By Amanda Webster


n an expansive campus tucked away in Roseville sits the Minnesota Waldorf School, a private K-8 school serving families across the Twin Cities. A couple of chickens roam freely next to a coop near the school. Nearby, an eighth-grade class spreads across a giant grassy field where several massive, black, hotdog-shaped balloons soar high overhead. “Right now, we’re studying meteorology and weather,” said teacher Kirsten Riehle, “and these are solar balloons. They show how hot air rises.” Students run beneath the balloons, which they made using black plastic garbage bags, and laugh in wonder at the results of their experiment.  “I think it’s cool that it can rise with the heat,” said Haley Olson, a student in Riehle’s class. “This is very active learning.” Outdoor learning happens regularly at the Minnesota Waldorf School, which currently has a K–8 enrollment of 136. When the school moved to its current location in 2001, it was intentionally designed so the buildings would sit in harmony with the land — 8 acres in all. With classrooms that boast impressive picture windows overlooking natural spaces, children are immersed in nature, even when they’re indoors.


Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Waldorf School

The walls at Minnesota Waldorf School in Roseville don’t include the typical math and reading posters you might find in a mainstream classroom.

Cate Cooney of Minneapolis, who has two children at the school, said that’s one of the things she appreciates most. “They do a lot of recess, but they also [go outside] for movement and other things,” she said. “When we first came, I saw a teacher taking the class out to look at the moon because they were studying astronomy and moon phases. With smaller class sizes and buildings that are structured to have access to the outdoors, it’s easy to take those opportunities.” 

What is Waldorf? The Waldorf model was developed 100 years ago in post-World War I Germany, based on Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner’s insight into the nature of the developing child. Defining features of a Waldorf education include a curriculum that integrates art, music and movement into


October 2019 • mnparent.com

daily learning; an emphasis on socialemotional development at all ages; storybased teaching methods; and learning in harmony with nature. Waldorf kindergartens are mixed-age, including ages 3-6 in the same class. In the elementary program, teachers stay with the same class of students from first through eighth grade and have a lot of autonomy when it comes to what and how they teach. This autonomy allows them to mold the curriculum to suit the individual and group needs of the students over time.  Lacey Griffin, the school’s enrollment and outreach director, said that most families who choose the Minnesota Waldorf School are looking for an education that allows for more space and time for imaginative and creative play, with an emphasis on socialemotional development before academics and an experiential, individualized and wholistic approach to learning.

Griffin, who has two boys at the school, appreciates the nurturing, age-appropriate environment. “I believe, at my very core, that the lives of children are not meant to be sped up,” she said. “They are meant to be lived in the moment, enjoying the wonder of the world around them.” The first Waldorf school was an experimental public school serving the children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory, in Stuttgart, Germany. Today, worldwide, there are more than 1,100 Waldorf schools and almost 2,000 Waldorf kindergartens, according to the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education. The Minnesota Waldorf School grew out of a parent-led movement for Waldorf education in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Waldorf School Association was created in 1979. The first kindergarten program opened in September of 1981. By 1986, there were 100 students in five grades and two kindergartens. In 1987, the decision was made to separate into to two Waldorf initiatives — the City of Lakes Waldorf School, which is just south of downtown Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Waldorf School in Roseville. This year, in honor of the 100-year anniversary of Waldorf education, the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education is promoting a global initiative across all Waldorf schools to respond to the declining bee population by engaging students in projects that directly promote bee health. Learn more at waldorf-100.org/en/project/bees-trees. This past summer, the Minnesota Waldorf School sent the school’s movement and woodworking teacher to a pollinator workshop to inspire bee programming at the school for students, families and the public, including how to grow pollinator gardens at home.

Academics In Waldorf lingo, the introduction to academics is referred to as a “blossoming”

or “unfolding,” in which the children come into the learning whenever they’re ready to receive it. This approach aims to respect each child’s individual readiness and carves out space for students who might be ready to read at age 4 as well as those who might not get there until, say, third grade.   Unless teachers detect barriers to learning that require extra support and assessment, children are allowed time and space to learn the way that works for them. Skeptics of the Waldorf model sometimes say it lacks enough emphasis on academic work, but that’s a misconception, said Vaara Ostrin, whose two children attend the school. “We have a curriculum structure that allows for different learning arcs, different learning speeds, different learning styles,” Ostrin said. While it’s true that Waldorf children begin learning letters and numbers in first grade rather than in kindergarten, when most mainstream students do, Ostrin said the school focuses on giving kids a strong foundation in physical and social-emotional development first to prepare them for academic work later.

The Waldorf Way A typical Waldorf school day includes three types of lessons — Head, Heart and Hands. Head Lessons — also referred to as the Main Lessons, include stories, conversations, experiments and reading materials on a single topic. There are no formal textbooks. Rather, students stick with one subject for a few weeks and produce their own textbooks along the way. After receiving feedback on their work, students then transfer it to their Main Lesson Books, which are handwritten and illustrated, one for each subject area. At the end of the year, students have a stack of 10 or more Main Lesson Books, which they turn in for comprehensive feedback. Heart Lessons include drawing, painting, drama, eurythmy, foreign language, music and more. Hands Lessons, including PE, dance, handwork (knitting, woodworking), gardening and other types of gross-motor activities and skills, taught by teachers who specialize in each subject area. Throughout the year, students might also take on bigger projects, such as building small log cabin — from selecting and cutting down the trees to assembling — or they might visit a farm to shear sheep and then clean, dye and spin the wool into yarn and then knit it into socks. No clothes with words or pictures (beyond small repeated patterns such as flowers/shapes)


When we first came, I saw a teacher taking the class out to look at the moon because they were studying astronomy and moon phases. With smaller class sizes and buildings that are structured to have access to the outdoors, it’s easy to take those opportunities. — Cate Cooney of Minneapolis, mother of two students at the Minnesota Waldorf School

are allowed. Though Waldorf schools aren’t religiously affiliated, kids learn about a wide variety of different religions and traditions, including ancient mythology, and take part in traditions from cultures across the world.

Tech-free classrooms Perhaps one of the most notable differences between a mainstream classroom and a classroom at the Minnesota Waldorf School is the absence of technology. Instead the emphasis is put on face-toface learning experiences through teachers as well as peers. While there aren’t any rules about tech


October 2019 • mnparent.com

use at home, most families who attend share similar values around technology and limit screen use at home. But that doesn’t mean the school discounts the role of technology in the modern world. For example, cyber civics, in which students learn about ethical behavior online, is a common component of the sixth-grade curriculum. In eighth grade, many teachers include a computer teardown and rebuild as part of the humanities curriculum along with some background in coding languages. Several students at the school even have their own YouTube channels and podcasts. Cooney, whose seventh-grader studied

cyber civics last year, said she’s been impressed by the school’s ability to evolve with the times. “Whether you are a family that’s decided to wait to let your kids have access or not, that’s really responsive,” she said.

Play-based kindergarten For its youngest students, the school has a special building referred to as the Early Childhood Cottage, established in 2009. It houses three kindergartens, in which children ages 3 to 6 play and work together, plus first- and second-grade classrooms. The home-like kindergarten classrooms are designed to be calm, inviting spaces

LEARN MORE The Minnesota Waldorf School is at 70 East County Road B, St. Paul. See mnwaldorf.org for tuition rates and more information.

that encourage imaginative play, community-building and creative problem-solving. Each classroom has its own kitchen, child-sized dining tables with real utensils, glasses and cloth napkins, as well as a child-friendly bathroom so that everything the kids need is within easy reach. Walls, don’t include the typical math and reading posters you might find in a mainstream classroom. Large windows drench the rooms in natural light and overlook the outdoor play space where children spend two to three recess periods per day. Children spend the morning directing their own play (with guidance when necessary) while teachers might bake bread in the kitchen or make handcrafts at the table. Children are invited to participate in the teacher’s work, but aren’t required.  The intention is to create an environment in which children have plenty of time for creative play while also learning to work together as a community toward shared goals, like cleaning up or setting the tables for snack. What happens after Waldorf? Ostrin said that the school works to help all students gain the knowledge and confidence to find their own educational path after Waldorf. But just as important is that they go out into the world knowing how to learn — and with a love of learning. “Because, if that’s the case,” she said, “then they can go anywhere and do anything.” 

We provide



or call 7 days a week 651-237-8932 text

Visit dsamn.org for up-to-date information, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. Down Syndrome Association of MN MNP 1019 H6.indd 1

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Amanda Webster lives in Roseville with her husband and two kids. Find her at amandawebsterwrites.com. mnparent.com • October 2019



perfect patch


ooking for fall fun? In Minnesota, you can find it pretty much anywhere in autumn with oodles of fall festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes. But where should you go this year? This was the question posed by Minnesota mama-blogger-Realtor Mary Beth Burgstahler. The California native moved to Minnesota in 2013 and had visited a few patches with her husband and young son. “But something told me that I was only scratching the surface of the wide array of places to choose from in the greater metro,” Burgstahler said, vowing to reach out to her community for more ideas. “The response was overwhelming. I hadn’t even

heard of most of the places mentioned and it warmed my heart to read the enthusiasm in the responses.” Next it was time for Burgstahler to see the farms for herself. After traveling far and wide, here are the results of her family’s adventures!

BEST SELECTION Barten Pumpkins, New Prague: This family farm showcases all the diversity the gourd universe has to offer. Yes, you’ll find stereotypical, perfectly orange Halloween pumpkins. But you’ll also discover pie pumpkins, green pumpkins, bumpy pumpkins, ugly pumpkins and so on, plus tons of FREE activities — including

caricature portraits, pony rides and hayrides — on Family Fun Saturdays. See bartenpumpkins.com.

BEST FOOD Pine Tree Apple Orchard, White Bear Lake: While everyone may not love pumpkin pie, it’s hard to find someone who won’t gobble up apple crisp. And this is best place to indulge in this warm apple dessert (gluten free!), plus rollovers, cake donuts, pies, tarts and other treats, including “ciderdoodle” cookies. While you’re at it, you can pick your own pumpkins or choose from a batch of prepicked! On the weekends, catch live music, a hayride and more. See pinetreeappleorchard.com.

↑↑Bottom four photos: Pine Tree Apple Orchard; Hayride (opposite): LuceLine Orchard; Fairies sign (opposite): Barten Pumpkins


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Top four photos: Afton Apple Orchard

BEST ATTRACTIONS Pinehaven Farm, Wyoming: Pumpkin patches mostly cater to children. But parents will also love all the extras here, including nearly 30 unusual attractions like Farfel, a pumpkin-eating dragon show; pumpkin cannons; an authentic Indian teepee; tug-of-war; an automated pirate band; a super-sized ladder ball; and gem mining; plus great food from various snack shacks. And — for a night when you definitely don’t have the kids in tow — there’s a terrifying Dead End Hayride, running through Nov. 2 this year, for ages 13 and up. See thedeadendhayride.com or pinehavenfarm.com.

BEST SCENERY LuceLine Orchard, Watertown: If you’re heading to a pumpkin patch, you’re likely

to spend a good portion of your day outdoors, so why not make it an adventure? Here you can explore 10 acres of pumpkins, walk a corn maze and stroll amid 10,000 apple trees and 4,500 grapevines, plus 80 acres of woods and wetlands. Put on your hiking or running shoes, grab your dogs (leashed of course) and bring a pair of bird-watching binoculars to spend a day basking in autumn beauty! Parents can end the day with a beer, wine or hard cider at The Dog House Pub. Kids can try the mini donuts. See lucelineorchard.com.

BEST OVERALL Afton Apple Orchard, Afton: This place has it all. You can pick your own pumpkins and apples — and even raspberries until mid-October (plus strawberries in summer). Then get lost in the 15-acre corn maze (and many other manmade mazes), meet farm animals, sample apple cider, see a magician show, go wild in a combinethemed playground, ride the cow train, bounce on the jump pad, try apple fritters at the “Corncession” (ahem) stand and take in the idyllic rural scenery. See aftonapple.com. Mary Beth Burgstahler is a Twin Cities real estate agent who lives in Mound with her husband and 5-year-old son. You can find her blog at thefreshagent.wordpress.com.

Looking for more? Check the Halloween calendar in this issue and at mnparent.com/calendar. Go to mnparent.com/pumpkins for our recently updated list of 10 great pumpkin patches or minnesotagrown. com and exploreminnesota.com for more information about local farms all year long.


Dance/Music/ Performance Minnesota Dance Theatre

Training Tomorrow’s Dancers Today. Central to our purpose is inspiring and challenging students to achieve their best, providing a comprehensive classical and contemporary training curriculum. Students inherit knowledge from renowned faculty who nurture each child’s potential for artistry and self-confidence. Minneapolis • 612-338-0627 mndance.org

St. Paul Ballet This non-profit, community and preprofessional dance school offers classes for ages 2–100, for all income levels and abilities! Children perform in two major shows yearly; winter and spring. Drop-in classes: Creative Dance for ages 4–6 and Intro to Ballet for ages 7–12. Boy’s Club: free for boys ages 7–11! St. Paul • 651-690-1588 spballet.org


Dodge Nature Preschool Center

Charter AFSA K–12

The Academy for Sciences & Agriculture, a public charter school for grades K–12, provides a rich, diverse academic environment with student-centered curriculum, leadership opportunities, handson experiential learning all with a science and agricultural emphasis. Vadnais Heights, Little Canada 651-209-3910 afsahighschool.com

Agamim Classical Academy (K–8) At Agamim Classical Academy, our students receive a rigorous, joyful, liberal arts education. We study and practice classical virtues and celebrate Founding American values. We provide a tuition-free education and believe that what children read, write, and speak about matters. We use challenging and inspiring content to cultivate appetites for lifelong scholarship and engaged citizenship. New Location: Edina • 952-856-2531 agamim.org

Hennepin Elementary School At Hennepin Schools, our mission is to ensure all students achieve academic


October 2019 • mnparent.com

success. We provide a safe and orderly place to learn, where we teach the whole child through strong instruction, grade level curriculum, and a relentless commitment to student achievement. Minneapolis • 612-843-5050 hennepinelementaryschool.org

King of Grace Lutheran School King of Grace is a private, Christian elementary school focused on academic excellence. We achieve this through a challenging curriculum, partnering with parents for success and anchoring our daily instruction with God’s Word. Offering preK–8th grade. Golden Valley • 763-546-3131 kingofgraceschool.com

Twin Cities Academy (TCA) TCA serves a diverse student body to succeed in a rigorous college preparatory program. TCA’s core values are fairness, cooperation, integrity, responsibility, civility, and hard work. Our educational model emphasizes rigorous academics, active community involvement, active citizenship, and relationship building. St. Paul • 651-205-4797 twincitiesacademy.org

On a 110-acre area of our Environmental Educational Preserve, the Preschool provides a quality education that includes bringing the natural world into the lives of children through visits to our farm, reptile lab, raptors, hikes, gardening, and more. NAEYC accredited. Four Star Parent Aware rated. Monthly Open Houses. West St. Paul • 651-455-4555 dodgenaturecenter.org

The French Académie Montessori inspiration, music integration, and French immersion! Taught by native French speakers, our programs focus on enriching all aspects of early childhood development; bilingual learning is just the beginning! Ages 16 months–kindergarten. Oui Play, Oui Sing, and Oui Learn! Schedule your visit today. Minnetonka • 952-944-1930 thefrenchacademie.org

The Gardner School An academically-focused preschool for ages 6 weeks to 5 years, The Gardner School will stimulate your child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth. We have state-of-the-art facilities, indoor and outdoor playscapes, highly-skilled teaching staff and a rich learning environment. Eagan • 651-255-5580 Edina • 952-259-0139


Minnetonka • 763-259-6860 thegardnerschool.com

Minnehaha Area Child Care (MACC) MACC is a neighborhood play-based child care center serving children ages 16 months – 5 years old. We believe that children learn through play and interactions with their peers. We have created an environment and curriculum to meet each child’s developmental needs. Minneapolis • 612-827-4369 maccschool.com

TWIN CITIES ACADEMY Here’s Why: • 100% of our students graduate • More than 95% of our students go on to college • The University of St. Thomas selected us as 1 of 10 schools to authorize • Newsweek ranked us the #1 high school in the state of Minnesota and 42nd in the nation in 2014 • Recognized as a Minnesota Reward School for five consecutive years

A H I G H E R S TA N D A R D O F A C A D E M I C E X C E L L E N C E 690 Birmingham Street, St. Paul, MN 55106 | 651-205-4797 | twincitiesacademy.org

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New Horizon Academy New Horizon Academy is a MN family-owned company that provides high quality childcare and early education. While focusing on developing a healthy sense of self in each child, we also strive to provide your child with the necessary skills to succeed not only in school, but in life. Multiple Locations • 763-557-1111 newhorizonacademy.net


The Blake School Blake students strive for excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. Thoughtfully prepared curriculum helps students think critically, solve problems, empathize, create, and make our world better. Blake provides need-based financial assistance to approximately 23 percent of its student body. Wayzata, Hopkins, Minneapolis 952-988-3420 blakeschool.org admissions@blakeschool.org

Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School (K–8) Heilicher offers a unique combination of extraordinary academics and Judaic Studies, second language learning from Kindergarten, and small class sizes with individualized attention. When you join the Heilicher community, you gain a partner in raising intellectually confident and ethically minded children in a nurturing, Jewish environment. Schedule a tour today. Minneapolis • 952-381-3500 hmjds.org

Holy Name of Jesus School Holy Name of Jesus School offers a Catholic education for preschool through sixth grade. Families choose HNOJ School for the small class sizes, rigorous academics, stellar teachers and affordable tuition. Wayzata • 763-473-3675 hnoj.org/school

Preschool & Kindergarten


Thurs. Nov. 14, 5:30–7 p.m. A fun night to learn about HNOJ School in Wayzata! RSVP 763-473-3675 hnoj.org/school Holy Name of Jesus School MNP 1019 H4.indd 1

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EDUCATION RESOURCES ADVERTISER LISTINGS Minnehaha Academy We see the light that shines in each child. We encourage pre-K–grade 12 students to explore their gifts and talents as we support their development to become next generation thought leaders and changemakers. 612-728-7722 minnehahaacademy.net admission@MinnehahaAcademy.net

Minnesota Waldorf School Our beautiful eight acre campus is a haven for curious minds, active bodies and open hearts. Conveniently located minutes away from both downtown areas, the Minnesota Waldorf School  boasts a rigorous academic curriculum rich in art and music, as well as screen-free classrooms, plenty of recess and a commitment to a diverse and healthy social environment. St. Paul • 651-487-6700 x202 enrollment@mnwaldorf.org mnwaldorf.org

Providence Academy Providence Academy is an award-winning, Catholic, private, pre-K through 12, independent college-preparatory school in Plymouth. It is known for outstanding traditional college preparation for all, integrating the best of the liberal arts and sciences for real-world success. Plymouth • 763-258-2500 providenceacademy.org

St. John the Baptist Catholic School & Preschool St. John’s provides a competitively priced, comprehensive, faith-filled education preschool through middle school. Focusing on academic excellence and virtue enables students to discover and live up to their full potential. We help form productive citizens

and disciples of Jesus Christ, setting a foundation for life. New Brighton • 651-633-1522 stjohnnyb.org

West Lutheran High School West Lutheran High School offers a studentfocused learning environment with Christianinfluenced classes and extracurricular activities. Students are able to take PSEO and AP college credit on campus taught by our instructors as well as online college courses. Plymouth • 763-509-9378 wlhs.net


Eagle Ridge Academy Eagle Ridge Academy inspires joy in learning, citizenship in action, and virtue in character. We offer a free Classical, liberal arts education to grades K–12. Learn more during our information events (Nov. 9 at 9:00 a.m.; Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m.) or apply online today. enrollment@eagleridgeacademy.org Minnetonka • 952-746-7760 eagleridgeacademy.org

Minnesota Online High School (MNOHS) Nationally accredited with four strong commendations, MNOHS is a creative, connected public charter school for students who need a flexible schedule. With a 13:1 student-teacher ratio, we get to know each student and encourage all to expect joy in learning. 1-800-764-8166 ext. 111 mnohs.org

Minnetonka Public School District (E–12) With ECFE, Preschool and K–12 programming, the Minnetonka Public School District focuses on world-class,

child-centered excellence. Features: K–12 Chinese and Spanish Immersion, K–12 computer coding, AP and IB, collaborative research and award-winning arts and music programs. 952-401-5000 minnetonkaschools.org

Resources Help Me Grow MN

Young children grow, learn and change all the time. Keep track of the developmental milestones your child reaches. If you have concerns about your child’s development, talk to your doctor or refer your child for a free developmental screening at Help Me Grow MN. 1-866-693-4769 helpmegrowmn.org

Minnesota Landmarks, Inc. St. Paul's historic Landmark Center boasts four FREE museums and galleries showcasing art, music, and history. Families can take part in incredible hands-on musical experiences, amazing wood art interactives and engaging historical exhibits. St. Paul • 651-292-3225 landmarkcenter.org

Minnesota Zoo Visit the Minnesota Zoo-today! Bring the family to discover 4,800+ animals along scenic indoor and outdoor trails year-round. From toddler time and family overnights to school break camps and adult classes, the Minnesota Zoo offers engaging programs for all ages. Apple Valley • 952-431-9200 mnzoo.org/education

Parent Aware Are you looking for childcare? Parent Aware offers free tools and resources to help families find the quality childcare and early education programs their children need to succeed in school and life. Online search, chat, or call. 1-888-291-9811 parentaware.org

Playworks Certified teachers, state-of-the-art facilities, and advanced safety technology provide a fun, safe environment for your child to play and learn. With both contract and hourly child care and before- and after-school care options available, Playworks is truly the place where learning and fun go hand in hand! Prior Lake playworksfun.com


October 2019 • mnparent.com


WE’RE GROWING! We’ve moved to a larger location at

5300 FRANCE AVENUE SOUTH, EDINA tuition-free classical education

STILL ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS for the 2019–20 school year GRADES K–8 • BUSING AVAILABLE Our inspiring classical education, academic rigor, uniforms, and strong parent involvement make our public school feel more like a private academy.


Special Needs


agamim.org (952) 856-2531

Academy of Whole Learning

Academy of Whole Learning is a K-12 school for students with autism and individual learning needs. We provide each student with an individualized therapeutic education. Child Care Aware MNP 1019 V6.indd Students thrive in our unique learning environment, designed to meet each child’s sensory needs. Academy of Whole Learning is more than a school; we focus on the whole child, including on-site therapy


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Minnetonka • 952-737-6900 aowl.org

Specialty The Art Academy

City Pages Winner: Best of the Twin Cities! Year-round traditional drawing and painting classes and camps for students ages 5–18 years. Exceptional student/teacher ratio. Homeschool Program. A Renaissance Program for adults also offered. See samples of student artwork; visit our website. Call for a brochure. St. Paul • 651-699-1573 theartacademy.net

Music Together® Centers in the Twin Cities Each week in Music Together® classes, children ages birth through grade two, and the grownups who love them, come together for 45 minutes of fun-filled family time. Class types: Music Together Mixed Ages (birth-5), Rhythm Kids (4-8), and Canta y Baila Conmigo® (birth-5). 612-209-6353 musictogether.com/twincities mnparent.com • October 2019





OCT. 10–31

⊲ When Spookley arrives in the pumpkin patch, other pumpkins tease him because of his odd shape. Geared toward all ages, this production features imaginative puppetry and an inspiring “dare to be square” message.

⊲ Believed to be the first city in the U.S. to put on a Halloween celebration to divert its youngsters from pranks, this suburban town offers a month of seasonal festivities, including pumpkincarving contests, parades, bingo, a bonfire, a scavenger hunt, costume contests, a carnival and more.

Spookley the Square Pumpkin

When: Sept. 27–Oct. 27 Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins Cost: $17–$24 Info: stagestheatre.org

OCT. 5–26

The Great Pumpkin Fest ⊲ During the day, tiny terrors can join Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang for some not-so-scary Halloween activities for kids. When: Weekends Oct. 5–26 Where: Valleyfair, Shakopee Cost: $30–$55 Info: valleyfair.com


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Anoka Halloween

When: Oct. 10–31; highlights include a Big Parade of Little People on Oct. 25 and a Grande Day Parade on Oct. 26. Where: Anoka Cost: FREE Info: anokahalloween.com

OCT. 12

PunkinMania ⊲ This annual event features a petting zoo, pony rides, inflatables, games of skill, free trick-or-treat bags, food, beverages and a vast supply of pumpkins and gourds, grown by the Wildwood Lions Club. When: Oct. 12

OCT. 1–NOV. 3

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular ⊲ Walk a trail lined with more than 5,000 illuminated pumpkins of all different sizes, shapes and faces creatively carved and displayed from ground to treetop. When: Oct. 1–Nov. 3 Where: Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley Cost: $15–$20; tickets are sold online only. Info: mnzoo.org

Where: On the grounds of the Mahtomedi District Education Center Cost: FREE Info: e-clubhouse.org/sites/ wildwoodmn

OCT. 20

Trick ‘r Trolley ⊲ Wear your Halloween costume and come for a ride, a story and a treat. When: Oct. 20 Where: Como–Harriet Streetcar Line, Minneapolis Cost: $5 per passenger. Tickets are required and will be for sale at the streetcar store beginning Sept. 29. Info: trolleyride.org

OCT. 25, 26, 31 AND NOV. 2

BareBones Halloween Show

⊲ This community-created, all-ages pageant of puppetry, drama, stilting, dance, fire, song and music includes a time for audience members to honor friends and relations who have passed on.

When: Oct. 25, 26, 31 and Nov. 2 Where: Hidden Falls Regional Park, St. Paul Cost: A $10–20 suggested donation is requested at the gate. Info: barebonespuppets.org

OCT. 26

Boo-ology ⊲⊲Ages 11 and younger who are in costume get free museum admission to the museum, featuring spooky hands-on science activities and special events. When: Oct. 26 Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cost: Regular admission is normally $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for ages 4–12. Info: smm.org

OCT. 26


Halloween Hoopla


⊲⊲Trick or treat through the forest, ride on the hay wagon, paint your face, play games, meet some slithery friends, see science skits and enjoy dancing and marshmallows by the bonfire.

Apples, of course, and Apple Cider, Apple Bakery - A Family Outing -

When: Oct. 26 Where: Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul Cost: $10 per person, free for ages 2 and younger Info: dodgenaturecenter.org

OCT. 27



North of White Bear Lake Off E. Hwy. 96 on Apple Orchard Rd. www.pinetreeappleorchard.com

Pine Tree Orchards MNP 0911 12.indd 1

8/15/11 11:12 AM

Great Pumpkin Halloween Celebration ⊲⊲Enjoy Halloween festivities, including live entertainment, crafts, treats and a costume parade. When: Oct. 27 Where: Landmark Center, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: landmarkcenter.org

Halloween Hodgepodge ⊲⊲Celebrate the holiday at this festive indoor costume party with face painting, carnival games, inflatables, a family dance and trick or treating.

OCT. 13

Sugar Skull! ⊲⊲Young Vita thinks her family has gone loco planning a celebration for deceased loved ones. But when a candy skeleton in her abuelita’s cemetery suddenly springs to life, she finds herself on a journey to unravel the true meaning of Dia de los Muertos. When: Oct. 13 Where: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul Cost: $19–$27 Info: ordway.org

When: Oct. 27 Where: Eagan Community Center Cost: $5 for ages 1.5 to 12; adults can attend for free with a food donation to the food bank. Info: cityofeagan.com/halloween

OCT. 31

Halloween Party ⊲⊲Preschoolers through fourth-graders are invited to explore Trick or Treat Alley, open skating, games, prizes and more. When: Oct. 31 Where: Bloomington Ice Garden Cost: FREE; donations of nonperishable food items for the food shelf are appreciated. Info: bloomingtonmn.gov

mnparent.com • October 2019


Out & About OCTOBER


OCT. 16–20

Expectation Station ⊲ DanceCo, in collaboration with the Roe Family Singers and Engineer Paul of the Choo Choo Bob’s Train Show, present an interactive one-hour show combining dance and musical theater with a little history. Tickets include a free pre-show workshop. Participants will be invited to perform in a section of the show. When: Oct. 16–20 Where: SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul Cost: $0–$16 Info: dancecomn.com Photos by Stan Waldhauser


Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze ⊲ This year’s 20-acre maze honors the Minnesota Lynx and includes team trivia questions throughout its many pathways. Jump in the corn pit; stroll through the straw bale maze; and enjoy live music, a petting zoo, duck and goat races, a hayride, inflatables and a giant slide. When: Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 27, plus Oct. 17 and 18 Where: Brooklyn Park Cost: $12 per person; children shorter than 36 inches can attend for free. Info: twincitiesmaze.com

Sever’s Fall Festival ⊲ Embrace fall fun with an extreme corn pit, zip lines, a tire mountain, jumping pillows, pumpkin blasters, hayrides and food trucks at a new larger location. When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 3, plus Oct. 17 Where: Shakopee


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Cost: $17 for ages 4 and older, free for ages 3 and younger Info: seversfallfestival.com

St. Paul Cost: $12.95 for ages 1 and older Info: mcm.org

SEPT. 27–OCT. 13


⊲ Junior detective Nate has a new case in this musical production geared toward ages 4 and older: His friend Annie has just painted a picture, and she can’t find it anywhere.

⊲ In this comedic adaptation of the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale two adult actors portray all characters in the story. Because the show contains some moments that may frighten young children, the show is best for ages 5 and older.

Nate the Great

When: Sept. 27–Oct. 13 Where: SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul Cost: $12–$16 Info: steppingstonetheatre.org


Curious George: Let’s Get Curious ⊲ Explore the world of everyone’s favorite mischievous monkey with math, science and engineering activities modeled after his many adventures. When: Sept. 28–Jan. 5 Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum,

Snow White

When: Sept. 29–Dec. 8 Where: Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $15. Info: childrenstheatre.org

OCT. 4–20

Frozen Jr. ⊲ This all-ages version of the 2018 Broadway musical brings Elsa, Anna, and the magical land of Arendelle to life. When: Oct. 4–20 Where: Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, Minneapolis

Cost: $15 Info: youthperformanceco.org

OCT. 5

Shout Out Loud Minnesota ⊲⊲This suicide-prevention charity event will focus on mental and physical wellness activities, including an outdoor carnival with games, local bands, food trucks, raffle prizes, speakers, activity booths and more. When: Oct. 5 Where: The ROC St. Louis Park Recreation Center Cost: FREE Info: shoutoutloudmn.com

OCT. 5

Fostering is Love Walk ⊲⊲Celebrate foster and adoptive parenting with a walk at 8:30 a.m., as well as family activities, an art show and a foster/adoptive parent resource fair. The first 100 children who attend will receive Build-A-Bear plush toys. When: Oct. 5 Where: Mall of America Cost: FREE Info: adoptionislovefund.org

OCT. 10, 24

Neighborhood Night Puppet Show ⊲⊲Come for a Heart of the Beast puppetry performance and stay for a make-‘n’-take workshop based on that day’s theme. When: Oct. 10, 24 Where: Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: midtownglobalmarket.org

OCT. 10–14

Ski & Snowboard Swap ⊲⊲Exchange or sell your used gear and find deals on season passes and new and used winter sports items such as skis, snowboards and clothing. This

event will also feature free chair lift rides, hay rides, a bouncy house, pumpkin painting, live music, a food truck and other refreshments. When: Oct. 10–14 Where: Afton Alps, Hastings Cost: FREE Info: aftonalps.com

OCT. 12

Twin Cities Book Festival ⊲⊲This day-long festival presents local literary heroes plus internationally renowned visiting authors (including children’s and YA writers), activities for kids and a giant book fair with deals on books, magazines, book art and more. When: Oct. 12 Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Falcon Heights Cost: FREE Info: twincitiesbookfestival.com

OCT. 12

Diwali ⊲⊲Celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights with a variety of Indian vendors, a traditional storytelling of the origin of Diwali, a Bollywood dancing exhibition, a kids’ talent exhibition, a “lighting of the glow sticks,” children’s crafts and food vendors. When: Oct. 12 Where: Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: midtownglobalmarket.org

OCT. 22–23


⊲⊲Join Nirmala Rajasekar to learn ragas and talas (melodies and rhythms) performed on India’s ancient instruments — the veena and mridangam. Then create your own veena and use it to accompany an Indian folktale. When: Oct. 22–23 Where: Schubert Club Museum, St. Paul Cost: $5 per child participant. Adults and babes-in-arms are free. Info: schubert.org

OCT. 27

Sesame Street Live: Make Your Magic ⊲⊲Elmo discovers that magic can be found anywhere when you believe in yourself. When: Oct. 27 Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul Cost: $15–$85 Info: sesamestreetlive.com

OCT. 27

Brains On! LIVE ⊲⊲Learn how the human brain works through magic tricks, dance moves, outof-body experiences and a game show as part of the Brains On! podcast’s firstever live performance in Minnesota. When: Oct. 27 Where: The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul Cost: $27 Info: thefitzgeraldtheater.com

OCT. 17–20

OCT. 30

⊲⊲Visitors to this historic farmstead event can help with fieldwork, corn husking and the putting away of produce in the root cellar. Other activities include finishing a final batch of pickles, making corn-husk dolls and quilting.

⊲⊲Baby Shark joins up with his friend Pinkfong to take an adventure into the sea, singing and dancing to new and classic songs.

Harvest Days

When: Oct. 17–20 Where: Oliver Kelley Farm, Elk River Cost: Included with site admission of $6–12, free for ages 4 and younger Info: mnhs.org/event/6823

Baby Shark Live

When: Oct. 30 Where: State Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $25.50–$55.50 Info: hennepintheatretrust.org

mnparent.com • October 2019


Out & About OPENING OCT. 17

Superpower Dogs ⊲ Celebrate the powerful connection we have with our canine companions in the first film on the Omnitheater’s new IMAX digital projection system. When: Opening Oct. 17 Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cost: $9.95 for adults, $8.95 for ages 4–12, free for ages 2 and younger; other fees apply for museum admission, which is not required. Info: smm.org


Mis Amigos Spanish Immersion Now offering infant child care in Hopkins!

Bring Growing With Music to your child care program or playgroup!

www.growingwithmusic.com ~ info@growingwithmusic.com

Call 952-935-5588 and schedule a tour! www.misamigosimmersion.com

Locations in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and St. Paul

MNP 1019 Marketplace Zoe.indd 1


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Growing With Music MNP 0119 3cx2.2.indd 1

9/19/19 4:18 PM 12/13/18 12:01 Mis Amigos PM MNP 0118 2cx2.2.indd 1

10/18/17 9:38 AM

CHILDCARE/EDUCATION Join us for: Lessons, Classes, Peformances The love of music!

Learning Center & Day Care | 6 Wks - School Age Family Owned, Family Run Since 1985




Your child is a natural... Playing Ages 3–Adult

12/4/18 4:23 PM

Tour the music studios

1524 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 651.224.2205 | info@thespcm.org | www.thespcm.org

8736 Nicollet Ave S, Bloomington

Rainbow Montessori MNP 0119 2cx1.indd 1

OPEN HOUSE: OCT. 23, 4:30-7pm


Singing Composing

Free Preview Classes

Portrait Parties Magical Themes your Child will Love



CHILDREN’S YAMAHA MUSIC SCHOOLGinger Sprouts MNP 0419 1cx1.indd 3/18/191 12:52 Party PM Resources MNP 2013 2cx1 filler.indd Celebrating Over 40 Musical Years in Minnesota! MN MUSIC www.childrensyamaha.com • 612-339-2255 HALL of FAME Schools in Edina & Roseville AT YOUR PARTY!


Great times for all ages at 1/22/19 Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Choose band size &/or Panda! • Music for all ages available! • Special rates for flexible scheduling

1:09 PM

Creative Kids Academy

Children's Yamaha MNP 0615 2cx2.2.indd 1

5/15/15 10:45 AM

Imagine the Possibilities... Early Education * 6 Weeks–12 Years





Week-long camps June–August Behind-the-scenes experiences • Meet zookeepers and gardeners


Free Music, Spanish, Yoga, and Karate! Anoka * Apple Valley * Centerville * Lexington * Maple Grove Minnetonka * Mounds View * Orono NOW OPEN — Elk River! 763-777-9100

Teddy Bear Band MNP 0717 2cx2.2.indd 1

ckakids.com 844-ckakids email: info@ckakids.com Nationally accredited and Parent Aware 4 star rated


Creative Kids Academy MNP 0819 2cx2.2.indd 1

7 themes to choose from For children ages 1+

www.teddybearband.com (612) 861-3570 richard@teddybearband.com

Reserve your fun! 651.487.8272 or visit comozooconservatory.org

6/22/17 Como 2:51 PM Zoo MNP 0518 1cx2.indd 4/17/18 1 2:43 PM

Kids Birthday

Bowling Party Packages

6/28/19 1:50 PM

Package includes

$13.95 per person + tax & service fee.

1 hour of bowling Party table 3 menu choices Soda 1 used Tavern bowling pin for the group to sign.

Parents — hide away in your own area while the kids party!


3401 Louisiana Ave. South St. Louis Park, MN

Our Education Directory at mnparent.com/education MNP 1019 Marketplace Zoe.indd 2 Education Resources MNP 2014 2cx2.6 filler.indd 1

9/19/19 4:18 PM

9/19/19 Park 4:17 Tavern PM MNP 0119 3cx3.indd 1

mnparent.com • October 2019


12/12/18 10:50 AM



Thank you to the hundreds of families who entered our Minnesota State Fair giveaway by submitting photos of your kids #doingMinnesota! Here’s a look at just a few of the awesome pix you shared.

↑ Rebecca, 8, of Hopkins, making “leaf angels”

↑ Ben, 2, Charlie, 8 and Mason, 9, with their parents at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store in Jordan

↑ Belle, 2, at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista

↑ Soren and Roland, ages 6 and 3, camping in Grand Marais

↑ Jabril and Jazmine, ages 9 and 8, at the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture in Minneapolis

↑ Henry, 2, of Eagan at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul

↑ Jonas and Aria, ages 5 and 6, at Sea Life Aquarium in Bloomington

↑ Isaac, 3, at Target Field in Minneapolis

Want to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s first name, age and city to editor@mnparent.com.


October 2019 • mnparent.com

Profile for Minnesota Parent

October 2019