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APRIL 2020 • FREE!




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April 2020 - NortheastOhioParent.com

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April 2020 - NortheastOhioParent.com

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32-page pull-out inside




Teaching kids ways to give back while social distancing.

Summer planning is still underway. Enjoy the spring edition of the guide that offers camp and programming resources.



How to increase your child’s language skills.


departments 05


EDITOR’S NOTE Summer is almost here!

Should you use supplements to solve sleepless nights?


WORTH NOTING Using time-outs appropriately, plus Reading Room, What’s Streaming and more.



An auditory-focused approach to a number of issues.


rent.com eastOhioPa Visit North home activities! tfor more a ioParent w @NEOh llo Fo , o Als stagram In d ook an ! on Faceb w givea ays for family


Cover Kid winner Lila, 3, in the studio to celebrate spring with flowers with mom, Jessica, and her older sister Jena. PHOTO BY KIM STAHNKE PHOTOGRAPHY KIMSTAHNKEPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

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AGES AND STAGES How coronavirus disruptions are expected to affect teen summer jobs.

Some seasonal ideas to do with your family — at home.




Last children outside.


Editor's NOTE

Summer is Almost Here

VOL. NO. 7 • ISSUE NO. 04

I miss chocolate. Sounds silly, right? It’s my guilty pleasure — and I ate my hidden supply. In normal times, I would just run up to the store or hit the vending machine at my son’s sporting event. Now, with my family following the state’s directive to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, that’s not happening. It’s a new strange routine — and we are only in the beginning stages of homeschooling and managing how to get our jobs done, while ensuring the kids do their work too. Also, our house’s food supply is now different — we are eating more salads and making calculated choices since we are not shopping several times a week. I had ample supply of toilet paper so just hoping I don’t need any in a few weeks. (There is a bonus: we are eating what is in our fridge and throwing away less food.) I don’t know about you, but as a family, the stay-at-home directive has given us an opportunity to reflect on our health, but also how we go about our days. It's just the five of us (this includes Jagger, our Scottish Terrier). We are not hustling and bustling around town, but we are taking more walks outside and doing more activities as a family. It’s also worth remembering that spring is happening and summer will soon come with hopes of brighter skies. Look for our 32-page pull-out Camp and Summer Programs Guide to learn about some adventurous opportunities, whether you plan to send your kids to overnight camp or be close to home. In this issue, you won’t see our normal calendar as many of the events in the area have been canceled. However, you will see stories about making a difference as a family and ways to spend time together. Need a little more than what this issue can provide? No worries, we have you covered online, as always, and even a little more. Visit us at NortheastOhioParent.com or our social media pages for the resources we will be sharing — and some fun, too! Though things are in flux, I would remiss if I didn’t share some good news with you. Northeast Ohio Parent magazine was honored to win 10 design and editorial awards at the Parenting Media Association’s (PMA) annual convention and awards ceremony, held Feb. 28 in St. Petersburg, Fla. It’s because of you, our readers, who inspire and support us to keep moving forward. As the editor and a parent, I feel like we really are in this together. So from myself and all the staff at Northeast Ohio Parent, I wanted to say thank you. Finally, we hope everyone stays well, safe — and sane as we navigate through these uncharted waters.

april 2020 Northeast Ohio Parent is a property of

PO Box 1088 Hudson, OH 44236 330-822-4011 NortheastOhioParent.com PUBLISHER - Brad Mitchell

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April 2020 - NortheastOhioParent.com

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Time-out or

NO Time-out? Using a ‘time-out’ appropriately can provide big boost


t’s a question parents often contemplate when trying to get their child to calm down. A recent study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics looks at whether taking a ‘time-out’ has any negative long-term effects on our children. “This study was looking at ‘time-outs’ over several years, and found there were no long-term effects for kids that were put in ‘time-out’ versus those kids that weren’t, and they looked at emotional and behavioral functioning,” said Dr. Emily Mudd, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study. The study looked at data from a national study of more than 1,000 children. The results showed no association between use of ‘timeouts’ and symptoms of depression, anxiety, aggression or self-control. Mudd says if parents use a ‘time-out’ appropriately — to help a child self-regulate, and not as a punishment — they can be effective. She said if a child is acting out, or having a tantrum, they need guidance to help them regulate their emotions, as very small children don’t yet have the skills to do so on their own. Mudd recommends trying to ‘name’ the feeling first. Say things like, “I can see that you’re very angry right now,” which may help the child begin to manage their emotions, and a ‘time-out’ may not be necessary. But, she cautions that not all kids are the same, and just because a time out works for one child, it does not mean it will work for another. If parents do choose to use a time-out, Mudd says it’s best to keep it short. “If you are going to use time-outs and it’s something that works for your family, a good rule of thumb is to do one minute per year of age, starting, not much younger than age one — 18 months would really be the youngest age we would recommend,” she says. “So, a 2-year-old would get two minutes time-out, and really at that age, it’s just really teaching them how to regulate their bodies. Mudd reminds parents that children receive a lot of negative feedback throughout the day, whether it’s ‘don’t do this, or ‘stop doing that.’ so, if time outs are used, make sure a child is also praised when they’re behaving appropriately. — Source: Cleveland Clinic, visit clevelandclinic.org

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Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine's Calendar Will be Online This Month!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of the region's happenings have been postponed. Check out event updates at NortheastOhioParent.com in April.

WHAT’S STREAMING? While April might be the time we normally get our kids outside a bit more as the weather turns warmer, this year we’ve got plenty of extra time for streaming as schools and activities are canceled across the region. And since you can only watch “Frozen 2” so many times, here are few other picks to check out during April. ‘Black Panther,’ Disney+

The other major blockbuster film that recently landed on Disney+, “Black Panther” is still one of the best superhero movies of all time. If your older kids need a break from the exploits in Arendelle, why not pop over to Wakanda? ‘Lego Masters,’ Hulu

This reality show competition features Will Arnett — who will delight kids who recognize him as the voice of Lego Batman and parents who can only see him as the one-and-only Gob Bluth — and a

number of incredibly talented builders taking on challenges brick-by-brick. Catch up on the season so far on Hulu. ‘Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal ‘ & ‘You vs. Wild,’ Netflix

These interactive versions of the popular shows can give your cooped-up kids a chance to do more than just veg out in front of the TV. In ‘Carmen,’ your kids get the chance to make choices for the eponymous hero as she tries to rescue her friends from V.I.L.E. Though it’s been available for since last spring, in ‘You vs. Wild,’ Bear Grylls show takes the typical adventuring and gives it a chooseyour-own-adventure spin. If your kids are anything like my five-year-old, after a few episodes you’ll find yourself envisioning your own “interactive challenges” for your kids as they traverse their daily chores. Getting dressed never seemed so death-defying! — Brandon Szuminsky

READINGROOM ‘Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World’ - A Graphic Collection from Kazoo Readers will learn through short biographical comics about Julia Child and Frida Kahlo, as well as other not-as-well-known important women like Kate Werne, a detective who foiled an earlier attempt to assassinate President Lincoln. -Recommended by Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library

BOARD BOOK BLAST! ‘Your Nose’ by Sandra Boynton

Starring a little fox child and a big fox parent, here’s a loving ode to terrific noses of all kinds. It’s a celebration of the love between a parent and child — and of the beautiful, boop-able noses we love. ‘ABC Dance — An Animal Alphabet' and 'Good Night Baboon — A Bedtime Counting Book’ by Sabrina Moyle and illustrated by Eunice Moyle A sister duo created two books to help kids learn their ABC’s and how to count in these colorful, easy-to-read animal stories.


these books in April! Visit

NortheastOhi oParent.com to find more information about the Bo ok Blast Contest!

‘Indestructible’ Series with ‘Let’s Be Kind’ & ‘Let’s Go Outside’

These different authors provide fun, short words in these non-toxic, washable books. Also, some titles such as “Hello Farm” and “Love You, Baby” are bilingual in Spanish and English.

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asting no time, 17-year old Isaiah Tuck of Brecksville-Broadview Heights is already making plans for finding work during the school summer break. “I am going to work either at a country club or a company installing windows,” Tuck says. “This will be my third summer working. I usually work during the whole summer and stop the day before school starts back.” Tuck is not alone. “Most of my friends plan on working this summer,” he says. “Some even hope to keep their jobs through our senior year.” In a typical summer, an abundance of job opportunities are available for teens to fill during the school break; however, this summer Tuck and his friends may find that jobs are scarce as some areas where teens typically find work, such as the restaurant industry, may find themselves struggling to stay afloat amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Michael Saltzman, managing director for the Employment Policies Institute in Washington, D.C., a non-profit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth, agrees that if we are still facing the coronavirus crisis this summer, employment for teens in the restaurant industry may be a bit bleak. “Teens would typically find work in the restaurants bussing tables or serving as hosts or hostesses,” Saltzman says. “But many restaurants may be either facing total closure or customer capacity limitations. Restauranteurs may be staffing for takeout delivery orders only and also wrestling with decreased customer count. You may have a number of owners focusing on keeping their doors open rather than hiring new staff.” While opportunities for teen employment in the restaurant industry may be slim, Saltzman adds that teens may find work opportunities in the grocery sector to be quite robust. “In the current environment, my instincts tell me if shoppers continue to act like they have been in March then grocery stores may find themselves needing extra help,” Saltzman says. “But again, all this may change depending on how long the virus may last.” Many experts working in the field of teen employment are uncertain about youth employment this summer. Craig Dorn, president & CEO of Youth Opportunities Unlimited

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(Y.O.U.), a nonprofit workforce development organization based in Cleveland, says predictions about the coming months are all but impossible. “Covid-19 is changing the landscape,” Dorn says. “Typically, we really have jobs for teens in any industry from hospitality to nonprofit to healthcare, you name it. We usually have two to three thousand young people every summer. The answer this year for the summer youth employment outlook is I have no idea — due to the Covid-19 crisis, I cannot predict. Though, we are hopeful that by the time this crisis clears our summer will look like any other summer.” Dorn says Y.O.U. — which serves teen and young adults living in economically distressed areas in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Lake Counties — already has had thousands of young people apply for work and hundreds of work sites lined up. Should the virus clear, he says his organization is ready to place young people in summer jobs. In the meantime, Tuck is hoping for the best in landing a summer employment opportunity. Working has played an invaluable role in making him a better communicator, decision maker and time manager, he says. He is confident that should Covid-19 persist through the summer months, teens

will find ways to build their skill sets, even if it comes through volunteering to help an elderly neighbor with running errands, grocery shopping or lawn care. But, he says, the financial loss will hurt.

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Managing Children’s Stress During Anxious Times By Katherine B. Howard, MA, NCSP, LPC

It can be challenging to provide children with reassurance as the coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached pandemic status. As parents, we feel obligated to stay informed of the developing situation, even as each update brings more uncertainty and/or reminds us of unpleasant and frightening possibilities.


o help parents manage their children’s stress during anxious times, please note the following tips. One of the most effective antidotes to overwhelming fear is valid information. Anxieties are highest when we have inadequate or misleading information, therefore we encourage parents to seek out accurate factual information that results in maximizing personal safety behaviors and good decision-making. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website is a great place to start. However, even when receiving credible information, there can be a saturation point – a time when one needs a respite from the bombardment of the disconcerting news. Therefore, we ask that you consider exposing your children to media coverage in a judicious way. For each family, there will be a “sweet spot” that represents a balance of staying apprised of critical information and of becoming “bad news weary.” It is also true that reinforcing a sense of empowerment – a feeling that one is doing something useful or meaningful – can help to mitigate intense anxiety. Anxiety is greatest when one feels the least amount of control, so providing your child with a sense of efficacy – of what he or she can do to maximize his or her health – is important. As we have said before, children can be invited to take care of their bodies and their health responsibly by handwashing,

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avoiding touching the face, eating and sleeping well, and exercising. Particularly in a situation of possible quarantine, children can be encouraged to feel a sense of competence by helping others (e.g. by writing to relatives, for example). If you are housebound, it can be energizing for your child to be invited into the cleaning and/or maintenance of a healthy living environment by asking him or her to perform light cleaning or food preparation chores. In a quarantine situation, there can be comfort in establishing routines, albeit they may need to be new routines. Having predictable events such as reading time, dinner time, etc., can help to define the days spent in relative disengagement from usual schedules and experiences. If your child becomes disappointed about lost opportunities, such as a canceled trip or social event, it can be helpful to encourage him or her to spend a moment reflecting on the things for which he or she is grateful. Gratitude has been demonstrated to have significant mental health benefits.  Perhaps these reflections can be shared during a family meal or perhaps your child can maintain a “gratitude journal” for a daily recording. Other strategies that research suggests may help to reduce your child’s acute stress include: • Getting outside in nature. Nature-regard (walking in green

None of the above suggestions will be comfortable or effective for everyone. Most are designed to alleviate stress levels when they are most acute. •Listening to music. Cortisol levels (a marker of stress) The degree of stress that an individual experiences will vary as are lowered for some people when they listen to music. a function of his or her temperament and past experiences. For Interestingly, it seems that the most effective music is some children, the experience of distance learning music the person likes, rather than a specific and extra family time may be viewed initially genre of music having universal impacts. with a kind of excitement.  However, as the • Having a novel experience. Sometimes time of relative isolation increases, many the cognitive distraction of a new learning WATCHING A COMEDY people are likely to become increasingly opportunity (a new board game, a new Laughter is, indeed, good uncomfortable. Individuals who have hobby, etc.) can provide a reset from medicine. After periods of pre-existing anxiety-related or mood negative to positive energy. regulation-related disorders may be laughter, people can be more • Receiving healing touch. A scalp particularly vulnerable. Also, those who tolerant of discomfort. massage, a back rub or foot rub (or a soak have experienced trauma, or what is often in a hot bath) can bring relief from tension referred to as adverse childhood experiences and lower cortisol.  (ACE), may be more significantly impacted.  • Practicing breathing techniques. By engaging in If you or your child is experiencing chronic stress relaxation breathing techniques, cortisol levels can drop. This – unrelenting discomfort that is interfering with your daily can include controlled deep breathing techniques or what is functioning, it is suggested that you contact a mental health called “alternate nostril” breathing techniques. professional for assistance. • Creating mental Imagery. When paired with deep breathing techniques, this can be powerfully relaxing. Ask your child to Katherine B. Howard, MA, NCSP, LPC, has been a school close his or her eyes and to imagine a very calming scene. The psychologist for more than 30 years in both public and private more vividly he or she can “paint” the mental image, the more schools. She is currently in her 21st year at Old Trail School relaxing it will be. in Bath, Ohio, serving as school psychologist and director of support services. She has provided training to schools • Doing progressive relaxation. This is a guided process in across the country as well as a large number of educational which the child tenses and relaxes various muscle groups with associations and organizations. She can be reached at the goal of reducing physical and psychological tension. There khoward@oldtrail.org. are many audio guides available to facilitate this for your child. places, seeing bodies of water, etc.), as well as exposure to daylight, can have mood-boosting effects.

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Kind Kids

in the Time of Corona

By Dahlia Fisher

Five Ways to Teach Kids about Helping Others


et’s start with this baseline assumption: We all want our kids to be good people and care about others. We want them to visit their grandparents, sit with the new student at lunch and help a neighbor walk their dog. What do all of these things have in common? They involve helping others. Social distancing, as we’re now locked inside our homes in an effort to curb the spread of

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COVID-19, is a tough task when you’re raising kids, especially if we want to teach them how to help others while keeping their distance from each other. But, it can be done. Check out this list of ideas for how to incorporate acts of kindness into your new daily routine while staying safe at home.

1into Making Get Well Cards Turn Coloring Time

Organizations like Cards for Hospitalized Kids take your get well cards and put them in the hands of sick kids across the nation. Right now, when rules about contact are stricter than ever, hospital patients might be seeing fewer visitors than usual. Your kids can brighten someone’s day by mailing handmade cards to

show you care. Check out their website to learn more: cardsforhospitalizedkids.com

2Donate Used Toys and Clothes Clean Out Your Closet &

Now is the perfect time to start spring cleaning. Get the kids involved by asking them to find toys and clothes they’ve outgrown and put them in a bin. With businesses and restaurants closing, many parents are out of work and not getting paid. Your gently used items will benefit another family and help the environment by extending the usefulness of materials. Thanks to websites like Donation Town you won’t even have to leave your house to make a donation. Learn more at donationtown.org or drop-off items in donation bins at your local Salvation Army or thrift store locations.

3by Giving to Little Libraries Recycle Old Books

All around town are Little Free Libraries, tiny book houses in lawns and on sidewalks. Inside are a collection of books, lovingly donated for someone new to borrow and read. Kids and adults can drop off books or take them. Ask your kids to clear their bookshelves and make a stack to donate. Then, take a ride to drop off books near you. To find a list of locations for Little Free Libraries, visit Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank kidsbookbank.org


Stop Online Gaming & Start Advocating

Chances are your older kids are already online, playing games, chatting with friends or watching their favorite shows. Suggest they carve out some time to research organizations

that support causes they care about. Have them make protest style posters as if they are going to a rally. See if they want to produce their own “Why I Care” video where they discuss what makes them passionate about their cause. You can share the video online and show them the positive reactions for using their voices for good. Want to keep going? You can work together to raise money for your cause through a reputable non-profit organization. That’s what fourth grader Tyler Ettkin did in support of his big brother, Dylan, who was born with a congenital heart defect. “We’ve been donating to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital as well as the American Heart Association since Dylan was born,” says his mom, Lisa. “I believe getting my kids involved builds character and an appreciation of what’s important in the world.” Dylan started giving back from the time he was in kindergarten. “He recognized early on that he was fortunate and there were kids whose lives weren’t the same,” says Lisa, who helped Dylan donate his birthday gifts each year. Tyler followed in his Dylan’s footsteps. “When I was younger I used to go to the Cleveland Clinic with my brother,” says Tyler. “The people looked like they were having a rough time there. I wanted to give them a hug but they were strangers, so I had to come up with another way to make them happy.” For the Ettkin family, heart health has always been the cause that means the most to them. That’s why Tyler also participated in the annual Kids Heart Challenge, an interactive way for kids to learn about their own hearts while raising funds for the American Heart Association. “I'm excited about raising money for other

kids — kids with hearts that don't exactly work right,” wrote Tyler on his personal fundraising web page, which also shows that he exceeded his goal and raised $662 this year. While at home, you can also find a cause your whole family is excited about and share that passion with others. By inviting people to join, you’re giving them an opportunity to make a difference with you. Check out these popular causes your kids might like to support: • To support kids like Dylan, start your own fundraiser for American Heart Association at heart.org • For kids who love animals, check out the Ohio SPCA at ohiospca.org

• For kids who think books are the best, try Reading is Fundamental at rif.org • For kids who know someone touched by cancer, visit American Cancer Society at cancer.org • For kids who want to fight hunger, learn about Greater Cleveland Food Bank at greaterclevelandfoodbank.org - CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 -

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Be Kind To Yourself and Kids Will Be Kind Too

These are unprecedented times. Remember that your sanity counts also. When you’re kind to yourself, take care of yourself and show your kids that maintaining a sense of normalcy matters for both you and them, you’re modeling important behaviors. Organizations like Unicef are publishing useful information on how to talk to your kids about COVID-19. Establishing a routine, allowing space to share emotions, and staying calm are just a few of the tips. Helping others often means outside of your own home, but you might want to look inward first. What are a few things that would bring you closer together as a family? Taking a walk after dinner now that you don’t have to rush off to activities? Setting up a family movie night now that you can all stay up a little later? Brainstorm a few ideas together! Dahlia Fisher is a writer, artist, motivational speaker and workshop leader. You can follow her on her blog (dahliafisher.com) to learn more about her year facing new challenges to practice living with more presence and purpose in 2020.

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Spring 2020 edition

Camp summer and

Programs guide

Pack Up Supplies They Need

Family Camp Unplug Together


Get Skills Explore or Refine

Sponsored by:

70+››››››› Camps Inside

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Hikes, creek walks, crafts, kayaking and games are some of the activities your child may participate in at Cleveland Metroparks summer nature camps. Ages 3 - 15

Animal encounters, crafts and conservation education are all part of the experience at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Summer Day Camp. Ages 5 - 14

Golf lessons, golf etiquette and fun on-course experiences are all part of Cleveland Metroparks Golf Camp. Camps take place at Seneca and Washington Golf Courses. Ages 8 - 17

Living at Itsmore Best 2 | FamilyTo learn visit clevelandmetroparks.com/camps

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Spring 2020 edition

Camp and summer Programs guide

16 REASONS TO GO Seven reasons parents should consider sending their child to camp




CAMP SKILLS: EXPLORE OR REFINE? The choice between speciality camps to explore new areas or refine existing skills.

WHAT TO PACK FOR CAMP — AND WHAT TO LEAVE Ten things all campers should have and five they should leave at home.

FAMILY CAMP Summer camp doesn’t have to be just for children.

✱ Visit NortheastOhioParent.com to find more summer camp guide listings.

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Camp SKILLS: Explore New Things or Refine Existing Talents? 6 | Family Living at Its Best



lake Jeffrey-White, 9, is in fourth grade at St. Francis of Assisi. He’s been to a variety of specialty and day camps throughout the Cleveland area, including camps at Fairmount Center for the Arts, Camp Gilmour, Camp Invention and a camp at Cleveland Metroparks, to name a few. In choosing a camp, Cindy Jeffrey, Blake’s mom, says her son drew on the activities that he enjoyed during the school year, and they asked him if he wanted to expand on those activities. “In the last few years, I would give him the camp catalog, and say, ‘Buddy, circle which of these that are interesting to you,’” Jeffrey says. “For example, ‘Do you have an interest in building a robot?’” After he looked at the catalog, Jeffrey says it was a matter of how the different camps all fit into their summer schedule, but basically, “We would have him select what he was interested in.” If there was something new that they wanted him to try, Jeffrey says the 9-year-old was open to suggestions. “Sometimes, he loved it, and other times, he didn’t love it,” she says. “So it was a good way for us to explore those interests of his.” For many kids like Blake, when given the opportunity, they would explore camp activities they want to try to learn new things. For others, focusing on a specialized camp helps them hone in on getting better at that skill. When considering a summer camp, parents should decide what is the best fit for their child: explore new things or refine existing skills.

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DIVERSE EXPERIENCES Blake has tried a variety of new things at summer camps and continues to enjoy the diverse experiences, Jeffrey says. Blake has been involved in specialty camps that range from sports that he’s interested in — such as hockey, basketball, baseball, karate and swim camps — to STEM camps, like Camp Invention. He has also participated in a lot of educational type camps at Gilmour Academy and she says the camps are very specialized. One camp taught him how to build a robot, and another was a chess camp. “I found it really fostered and nurtured his enjoyment of something very particular like chess,” says Jeffrey. “I didn’t know my son loved chess. Now, after a week of camp, I know that he really enjoyed it,” As far as the sports camps, Jeffrey says, they certainly increased Blake’s skills during the off-season, and it kept him interested and engaged in the sport or whatever activity it is. Rhonda Rickelman, director of auxiliary programming at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, says summer camps can provide opportunities for kids to explore not available in other settings. “We try to give kids specialty opportunities in different areas that they might want to explore,” Rickelman says. “So for example, we have hockey, figure skating, stroke development for swimming, technology camps and STEM camps. We have cooking experiences for the kids, and we have chess, sewing, drones, Mission Fit, Sky High Adventure and Etiquette Camp. We have some offerings that the kids might not want to do a lot of, but that they might get a good feel for. So, we like to let kids dabble in things.”

TAKE A DEEP DIVE INTO SKILL-BUILDING Specialty camps can be for those who excel in a certain area, but also for those who show an interest in a specific area. Jeannie Fleming-Gifford, executive director of Fairmount Center for the Arts, says specialty camps give children a chance to “deep dive into a specific art form.” Summer is a great time to explore new interests, she says, but “it’s also a time to be able to focus on things, that maybe during the school year, it’s a little bit harder to devote the time to specific areas, specifically in the arts.” Fleming-Gifford says there are often pressures to commit children, even as young as age 9, to particular activities or pursuits. Summer camps, though, are a chance to break out of the mold of the everyday. “We should give them a chance to not only be a specialist, but allow them to get involved in something new and different, too." she says. “They play soccer all-year-around, but in the

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summer, then to say, ‘I might like to try art, I might like to try dance and I might like to do theater and perform on stage.’ Specialty camps give even novice students a chance to try something new. They may not have a lot of experience, but they have an interest, or they’re curious, so specialty camps give them a time in the summer to really be exposed to new art forms, learn new skills and have some fun.” The benefits of the specialty camps include building a technique and skill-building in a specific discipline, and in creating well-rounded, curious people who are exposed to different things, she says. “I’ve always been taught as an educator to think about ‘scanners’ versus ‘divers.’ It’s great to have people who know a lot about a lot of different things, but we also know society values people who have in-depth knowledge, skills and specialties in certain areas,” Fleming-Gifford says. “So, these specialty camps are really about those divers. It’s giving kids in-depth, immersive, hands-on and, dare I say fun, experiences in specific arts-based activities.” She advises that families put together a plan for summer camp if they want to give kids optimal opportunities to be exposed to a variety of different things. Maybe, she says, that includes specialty camps kids have already had experience with, or others that may be new to them. As kids get older, they tend to engage in more specialty camps, find more things they are interested in and they branch out into something different, Gilmour Academy’s Rickelman says. “Kids, when they’re young, they are not sure what they like, but a camp is a good way to find out,” she says. “Maybe they talk about gardening or helping in the garden, then they come to a nature-based camp. Or maybe they are interested in chess and they really want to craft that. We can play chess at camp, but to have an expert come in and teach them more about it, or to teach them certain moves, those are the things that take them to a level that says this might turn into a hobby, or this might turn into something that I really want to put in as part as my repertoire as a person.”



KIDS CAN REFINE TALENTS YMCA of Greater Cleveland offers sports camp and day camp programming across the region. Ryan Holesko, program director of the Sports Camp at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland says, says kids can practice a skill at camp, further develop that skill, and then, take it with them when they play sports in school or become part of a community team. “One benefit that we run into on the sports side a lot, especially for our younger ages, is this is their first time experiencing a sport at the


team level,” he says. “It encourages them to join a team and play more, especially after the summer is over.” There are 10 branches of the Y in Cleveland and each one runs a sport-specific camp throughout the summer. Each week, campers engage in a new sport, complete with drills, scrimmages and other sports-related activities aimed at improving kids’ sports skills through friendly competition, teamwork and making new friends. “This is not a boot camp where we make fun of the kids that can’t perform well and only reward those who do extremely well,” says Rick Batyko, executive director, marketing at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. “It’s more about the philosophy of the camp experience for us.” At Gilmour Academy, Rickelman says approximately 30 to 35 percent of the kids that register for camp will participate in at least one specialty camp, which each focus on a particular skill or aspect of a game, as opposed to a general approach. “For example, if we have a hockey camp, we don’t just have a hockey camp, it will be a power skating camp, because you are going to learn how to skate. That’s the key to the camp,” she says. “Another camp is called Big Shot Shooting Lab, so you are going to learn shooting skills instead of just general play. It takes you to another level of your game.” However, she says while kids naturally are drawn to the sport or activity they’re involved in and developing in, there is danger in over-specializing for young kids. “Take swimming, for example: You swim all year, and then you swim all summer, so when do you get a break?,” Rickelman says. “And those breaks

are so important. When adults work, we take vacations, but do the kids take breaks from this kind of stuff?” Based on her own experience as a coach with 20 years of experience, Rickelman says every year, kids need three to four weeks off from whatever activity that they are doing — and it should be completely off. “Take time to refresh, renew, bring yourself back in and do something fun — don’t be so scheduled all of the time,” she says. “Kids need downtime to regroup with normal dinner hours, normal play time, normal sleep, where they’re not rushing from one event to the next. “Three to four weeks a year, it would be great if every kid could get that,” Rickelman says. When choosing the right camp, she says, communication between kids and their parents is important. She suggests parents ask kids what they really want to do. Sit down with them and pose questions like, “What camp would you like to go to?,” “What would you like to do?” or “How can we make this a good experience?” After a first exposure, if your child demonstrates interest, then it’s time to send them to a specialty camp, she adds, particularly if they can identify specific aspects or skills then want to improve on. Either way, it’s important children drive the decision of what to do each summer. “There are very good parents, who say to their kids, ‘Hey take a look, are you interested in any of this? Or does any of this interest you?’” Rickelman says. “But we also have people that just sign their kids up. Then, I will say, ‘Don’t you want to be in this camp?’ and they go, ‘No, my mom signed me up for this.’”

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+5 TO LEAVE HOME By Heather Tunstall

10 FamilyLiving Livingat atIts ItsBest Best 10 || Family


here may still be a chill in the air here in Northeast Ohio, but believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about packing for summer camp. You don’t have to drag out the luggage just yet, but begin to prepare by taking a peek at the packing list that your camp provides to you, and think about things you may need to purchase or borrow prior to camp time. And if you really want to prep your pack list, nothing beats an on-site visit to camp, says Joe Wolnik, summer program director at Camp Fitch in North Springfield, Pa. “If you’re a first-time camping parent, you should look into doing some sort of tour with your camp, if the camp you’re going to does that,” he says. “I guarantee that during that tour, you will see something that you didn’t expect or anticipate as

part of your child’s experience. Just seeing the facility itself will put you in the right headspace.” Once it’s time to start getting items together, get your kids involved in the packing process to help them bear a bit of the responsibility as well as to get them ready for a fun-filled summer. “For first time campers, packing can be a fun activity to build excitement,” says Joe Mendes, director/owner of Camp Roosevelt Firebird in Bowerston. “For a camper who is anxious, involving them in the packing process in a few ways can build enthusiasm and buy-in.” Each program’s specific list varies slightly depending on the activities that will take place, but most have similar requirements. We talked with several area camps to compile a list of 10 things you should definitely bring, and five things that should stay at home. Ask your camp’s director if they have spare items in case your child forgets to pack something. Most camps offer back-up clothes, shoes, towels, toiletries and other items that are available for children who don’t have a particular item. “The important part is to remember to ask someone,” says Andy Hudak, executive director at Camp Whitewood in Windsor. “If it comes down to a pair of dry socks or a toothbrush or water bottle, we have things. Remember to ask because there’s almost nothing we couldn’t get a kid if they need it — everyone is there to help you with what you need.” Camp Fitch has what they call their “Camper’s Closet,” which has a plethora of items in storage that campers can use if they forget, lose or damage something. “We serve a lot of underprivileged families, and maybe the kid doesn’t even have the item to begin with, so it’s there for them,” Wolnik says. “If we come to find that they don’t have that item, then we say go ahead and bring it home with you and use it. We’ve had so many examples of kids who go home and don’t even have a blanket on their bed. So it’s a good program for the forgetful kid, but also for those who really need it.” The Camper’s Closet program is strongly supported by the Camp Fitch alumni network through physical or financial donations. Other camps often have similar programs — check with your camp to see what is available to either borrow from or donate to. The most important thing for a child — and their family — to have for camp is a positive attitude. “We always encourage parents to send letters as well as our campers to write letters back home,” says Konner Lashley, program director at Hiram House in Chagrin Falls. “They’re still able to hear back, but try not to include things like, “Oh we miss you so much,” but rather having them be positive like, “I hope you’re having a great time!” Mendes agrees: “Bringing enthusiasm, an open mind and parental encouragement that the camper will do great is the most important thing.”



Check weather reports, and understand that even though it may be warm during the day, it can get chilly at night. The best way to prepare for fluctuating temperatures is to pack layers, and to bring enough changes of clothes for each day. Sweatshirts are great for sitting around the campfire or early morning hikes.



Sturdy, comfortable shoes are a must for most outdoor activities. Make sure to pack an extra pair, in case your kid likes to go puddle-jumping or the group takes a mud trek.



A toothbrush and toothpaste, comb or brush, deodorant and shower items (soap, shampoo/ conditioner, towel) will keep your kid fresh even on the dirtiest camp days. Their cabin-mates will thank them.



A reusable water bottle is perfect for long hot days with outdoor activities. It helps with hydration while cutting back on single-use plastics.



Some camps include sleeping in tents outside and will require a sleeping bag, while others have campers in cabins on mattresses. Check with your camp to see whether you should pack sheets or a sleeping bag, and don’t forget a pillow, pajamas and anything that your child uses at night, such as a retainer or favorite stuffed animal.



Chances are the summer camp you’re going to will have an opportunity for your kid to swim. Bring at least one, but preferably two, swimsuits.



It’s summer camp, and things will almost certainly get wet and dirty. To avoid getting the clean stuff messed up by the muddy stuff, an extra plastic bag comes in handy.



Being outside means being exposed to the sun’s UV rays, rain, wind and, of course, bugs. Make sure your child is prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, a raincoat and mosquito/tick repellant.



As kids prepare for bed or have free-time, they often enjoy writing letters home or writing in a journal. Pack a few pens and writing materials, or very small games/activities for those times they have to wind down after a busy day.



Make sure to clearly label your child’s medications and include any instructions necessary so that the onsite nurse is able to easily administer them.

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Just as there are items the kids will need, there are also items that should be left at home. Bearing in mind that camp is meant to be an interactive, safe experience, it’s important that parents make sure their children adhere to the packing guidelines that are provided. Here are five things that should not be included in your child’s camp bag:



The distraction that comes from texting and calling deters from the full camp experience, and phones can also be easily damaged. All camps have emergency lines that can be used if needed, and campers can write and receive letters or postcards to stay in communication with family.

Irreplaceable family heirloom? Leave at home. Expensive jewelry? Not a good idea. It’s very common for kids to lose or damage things when they’re in unfamiliar places and off doing fun things. It’s best to keep valuables at home.




Similar to cell phones, electronic games and devices like iPads, smart watches and gaming consoles are not allowed at most camps. Your child will be busy with camp activities, forming new relationships and interacting with nature, and once again, expensive items like these can be damaged.



Aerosol sprays can be quite dangerous around campfires. Opt instead for lotions or pump sprays to stay safe from the rays and the bugs.

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Beside the obvious “no weapons,” there are some other items that may sneak their way into kids’ bags. Keep an eye out for lighters, sharp objects, vape pens, drugs or cigarettes. A good rule of thumb: if it’s not allowed at school, it’s not allowed at camp. Also leave any items with a strobing feature (such as some flashlights) at home, as these can be dangerous for campers with sensitivities.

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Camp isn’t just

for kids

Moms, dads and kids can relax, unplug and strengthen their relationships by attending family camp. By Marisa Palmieri Shugrue


ey parents, when was the last time you rode a horse, challenged yourself on a high ropes course or took a canoe out on a lake? Whether your answer is “Never!” or “Way back when I went to camp as a kid,” family camp may be the opportunity you’re looking for to try something new and reconnect with your spouse and children. Many summer camps in and around Northeast Ohio cater to families several times a year by offering family camps. Moms, dads and kids — even grandparents, in some cases — attend camp for a week or a weekend and typically stay as a family unit in their own cabins, which may have private or shared bathrooms. All camp activities and meals in the camp’s

14 | Family Living at Its Best

dining facility are included. “One way we see it is an alternative family vacation,” says Rachel Felber, camp director for Camp Wise in Chardon, which is a department of the Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland. “It’s a little bit like going to an all-inclusive resort.”

Building bonds, tech-free For many families, the biggest perk of camp is spending time together engaged in fun activities and not distracted by devices, camp directors say. “During traditional summer camps, we don’t allow any electronics, but for family camp, it’s their vacation, so they definitely can use their devices and we do offer WiFi,” says Hannah Kight, business manager for Camp Fitch YMCA, located on Lake

Erie just over the border in North Springfield, Pa. “But it’s not typical to see people plugged in. It’s a nice time to unplug and forget you even have technology.” Amy Bilsky and her husband, Scott, of Orange Village have gone to family camp at Camp Wise with their sons Sam, 14, and Justin, 11, for seven years. The program is Friday evening through Sunday afternoon during Labor Day weekend. “I love that we get to have a weekend to ourselves to enjoy camp and all it offers and, frankly, not be on electronics,” Bilsky says. “You can go to the lake and go boating, do arts and crafts or play sports. They offer a wide range of activities and you can pick and choose what you want to do.”

Take A Trial run Family camp is also an opportunity for your family to experience a camp before sending your child there for a week or more in the summer. Adults get to see the facilities, eat the food and try the activities their kids will be doing. Children get the lay of the land before going away for a week alone. “It’s a great opportunity for families to introduce kids to going to overnight camp in a really safe way,” Felber says. “It’s a natural progression to go from family camp into summer camp. Many continue to go to family camp after that.” “I thought it was a good way to get away from technology and have a great time in nature, but I also thought it was a great way to introduce them to camp, because I hoped they’d want to go there some day,” Bilsky says. It turns out, they did. Now, both of her sons attend a three-week camp session at Camp Wise annually and family camp has become a chance for the boys to show their parents what they experienced over the summer and return to the place Bilsky calls their “home away from home.” “A lot of people come because they get the opportunity to try all these activities you normally wouldn’t get to try,” Kight says. “And to be able to do it as a family strengthens the bond. A lot of people say it’s the highlight of their summer.” ABOVE: THE WULIGER FAMILY ENJOYS TIME TOGETHER A CAMP WISE’S FAMILY CAMP. PHOTO BY CAMP WISE BELOW: THE BILSKY FAMILY OF ORANGE VILLAGE, LOOKS FORWARD TO ATTENDING FAMILY CAMP AT CAMP WISE EVERY YEAR TO UNPLUG AND HAVE FUN WITH ACTIVITIES LIKE ARCHERY, BOATING AND MORE. PHOTO BY AMY BILSKY

For many families, the biggest perk of

camp is spending time together engaged

in fun activities and not distracted by devices, camp directors say.

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Reasons TO SEND YOUR CHILD TO CAMP By Mary Ann Blair


ith summer calendars quickly filling up, it can be hard to try and squeeze in one more thing. However, if you have never sent your kids to a summer camp, here are seven reasons why you should consider it.

1 WITH SO MANY OPTIONS, IT’S EASY TO FIND A GREAT FIT FOR YOUR CHILD From sports camps and art camps to STEMbased camps and more traditional overnight options, summer camps are designed to serve a variety of ages and interests. The length of camp can range from a few mornings for younger kiddos to weeklong sleep-away camps for older kids. Local churches, school districts and other organizations offer a wide range of camps too. With a little bit of research, you can easily find a camp well-suited for your child.


WITH EXPERIENCES THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE ACCESS TO IN “EVERYDAY” LIFE Horseback riding. Paddling a canoe across the lake. Wilderness survival. Conquering a ropes course. Sleeping under

16 | Family Living at Its Best

the stars. Adventures are endless at camp, and your child will have an opportunity to try something brand new. For the youngest campers, trying a new craft activity or learning a new camp song can be so much fun.


PLACE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL SKILLS It might be awkward or uncomfortable for your child during those first few hours of camp when they don’t know a single soul. After all, stepping into a new social environment can be challenging. But the ability to comfortably communicate with new people is a life skill that all kids need, and a camp is a great place to practice. Camps also provide kids an opportunity to form friendships with a

whole new group of peers they might never have met otherwise.


A MUCH-NEEDED TECHNOLOGY BREAK No matter how old your child is, they could probably benefit from a screen hiatus, especially during the summer months. Spending time outdoors, learning a new skill, having fun and forming new friendships is good for the body and soul.

5 SENDING KIDS TO CAMP IS BENEFICIAL FOR YOU, TOO Driving away from your child(ren) on the first day might be a little gutwrenching. However, entrusting your kids to someone else for a while can be truly beneficial. Maybe it will free up time for some overdue self-care, or give you and your partner time to reconnect. Maybe it will provide an opportunity to hit the reset button with your tween or teen. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Parenting is tough work, so don’t feel guilty if you enjoy this time to yourself. Chances are, your kids are having a blast without you.


EXPERIENCE AS A CAMPER COULD HELP LAND A SUMMER JOB IN THE FUTURE Camps are staffed by amazing counselors who provide kids with all kinds of good, clean fun. Most of these counselors were campers once, too. Now they get to help a new set of youngsters make unforgettable summer memories, all while sharpening their own teamwork and leadership skills. Your child might have that same opportunity one day.


PLAIN FUN So many adults have fond memories from their days spent at camp, and kids who have been to camp often say it’s a favorite part of their summer. Odds are, your kids are going to love it. And for that reason alone, it’s worth sending them to camp. Mary Ann Blair is a mom of two boisterous boys. Besides chronicling her adventures in motherhood at maryannblair.com, she loves the outdoors, reading and all things crafty.

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CAMP and

Programs Guide AKRON ARTWORKS Visit akronartworks.com

AKRON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM Visit akronkids.org/calendar/programs


Akron Rotary Camp is a place where disabilities and limits do not hold campers back from enjoying programs that develop their self-confidence, independence and social skills. They offer 8 weeks of overnight and day camp where campers can participate in traditional camp activities, such as swimming, kayaking, campfires, songs, crafts, games and more. Visit gotcamp.org


Connect your child with wildlife by signing them up for ZooCamp at the Akron Zoo. Educational activities include animal encounters, zoo tours, crafts and games. Campers receive a t-shirt, snacks and more! Registration open. Camps run June through August for ages 2-15. Visit akronzoo.org


AR Workshop offers creative and crafty “Summer ARt Camps” in two locations: Hudson and Strongsville. Its single-day or full-week sessions are designed for girls and boys, ages 6-14. Kids create DIY wood, canvas and yarn projects, along with camp t-shirts. Visit arworkshop.com

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Beck Center offers half-day and full-day camps for ages 5-19 in dance, music, theater and visual arts. Students learn new skills and build self-esteem as they create unique works of art, develop new friendships, discover hidden talents, stimulate their imagination and have fun. Beck Center will also offer more than 140 arts education classes and lessons for people of all ages and abilities. Call 216-521-2540 or visit beckcenter.org


Busy Bees Pottery & Arts Studio, located in Mentor, offers weekly themed summer art camps for kids ages 5-12. Full- or half-day camps will keep them busy learning various art methods while creating multiple projects each day. Call 440-571-5201 or visit mentor.busybeesart.com


Visit campasbury.org


Visit campcarl.life



Camp Fitch’s century-old classic sleepaway summer camp provides boys and girls, ages 6-17, with a holistically safe, values-driven community where they discover friendship and achievement. Kids feel like they belong among the camp’s carefully vetted, highly committed and caring staff, who create transformative experiences on the shore of Lake Erie in North Springfield, Pa. Call 814-922-3219 or visit campfitchymca.org


Imaginations will soar in the all-new Camp Invention program “Elevate!” Campers in grades kindergarten through sixth grade will collaborate in hands-on STEM activities exploring concepts of flight, Earth’s ecosystems and sports innovations. Use promo code LOCAL15 to save $15 (expires 5/12). Call 800-968-4332 or visit invent.org/camp


Camp LEAD: “The Amazing Chase” is a week-long day camp with high-energy activities promoting leadership and social emotional learning. Inspired by the TV show “The Amazing Race,” campers learn about healthy competition, collaboration and accomplishing goals. Campers will stretch personal limits to become effective leaders. Call 216-292-8775 or visit effectivela.org


Since 1940, ACA-accredited Camp Whitewood fosters a safe, fun and engaging environment for children to learn and grow, providing quality summer camps at economical prices. Any child can attend its day and overnight programs, regardless of 4-H membership. Call to schedule a personal tour. 440-272-5275 or visit 4hcampwhitewood.com


Join the Cleveland Cavaliers for Cavs Academy Summer Camps, the only official youth basketball summer camp of the Cavaliers. These week-long camps are a great opportunity for boys and girls ages 7-17 of all skill levels to have fun playing basketball while they “up their game.” Visit cavsyouth.com


Challenge Island is a high-energy, hands-on fusion of STEAM, 21st century skills and problem-solving adventure. Campers embark on fantastical-themed STEAM journeys where they work in collaborative teams to tackle various exciting challenges using only the materials in their treasure chest and their boundless imaginations. Visit challenge-island.com/summit-medina or challenge-island.com/clevelandeast

CHAGRIN VALLEY FARMS Visit chagrinvalleyfarms.com


Visit classroomantics.com/clevelandsummer-camps

CLEVELAND CITY DANCE Visit clevelandcitydance.com


The FACEtime Summer Camp at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center is designed for older children and young teens who stutter. Campers will participate in individual and group therapy at the University Circle location and will practice their skills in real-life situations at restaurants and Cleveland-area attractions. Transportation will be required for some offsite activities. Visit chsc.org


Cleveland Metroparks offers a wide variety of golf programs, activities and hands-on instruction for junior golfers ages 8-17. There are activities for beginner, intermediate and advanced junior golfers. Registration is now open. Visit clevelandmetroparks.com/golf


Cleveland Metroparks Summer Nature Camps connect children ages 3-15 with the natural world. From hikes in the woods, kayaking, crafts and games, a variety of Summer Nature Camps offer compelling outdoor adventures. Available in convenient locations throughout Cleveland Metroparks. Registration begins March 3 for Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township residents, and March 10 for all other participants. Visit clevelandmetroparks.com


Zoo Summer Day Camps connect campers with wildlife and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Campers ages 5-14 can spend their summer days at the zoo participating in up-close experiences with ambassador animals, behind-thescenes tours and special activities like giraffe feeding, carousel rides, educational games and crafts. Visit futureforwildlife.org


Join Cleveland Play House for CPH Summer Academy. Students ages 4-18 can participate in half-day, week-long or two-week intensives in June and July. Classes are open to students of all abilities and experience levels. Scholarships and aftercare are available. Call 216-414-7111 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com/academy


Earth Camp (ages 6-14) is packed with activities like hiking, swimming, art and more. Adventure Camp (ages 12-14) packs in a high ropes course, zipline tour, swimming and more. The new Adventure Leadership Academy (ages 15-17) is perfect for aspiring camp counselors. Visit commongroundcenter.org

CREATIVE PLAYROOMS Visit creativeplayrooms.com


Whether your child is a young performer or a budding engineer, Tri-C Summer Camps will help them discover their passions and talents. Choose from more than 30 camps offered at five locations across the region, featuring culinary, film, game design, music, performing arts, recreation and STEM. Call 216-987-3075 and select option 1 or visit tri-c.edu/summercamps

DISCOVER CAMP 2020 Visit medinarec.org


This summer at Gilmour Academy, Beachwood Recreation, Orange Continuing Ed and Westlake Recreation, kids will have confidence, fun character-building and hands-on learning during these camps. Learn the tricks of first impressions, become a dining expert and discover the art of a well-written thank you note. Call 216-292-8888.

Learn more & open a tax-advantaged college savings account today at

CollegeAdvantage.com/NEOParent CollegeAdvantage_DoubleFooter_NEOParent_Education_Guide-2020.indd 2

2020 Summer Camp Guide - NortheastOhioParent.com

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Visit fairmountcenter.org/special-events

CAMP and Programs Guide


Recognized throughout the Midwest as Ohio’s premier private camp. Independently selected “Top Ten Camp in USA” and Ohio’s “Coolest Camp.” Beautiful lakefront setting, talented staff, wide

The Leonard Gelfand STEM Center Case Western Reserve University’s Leonard Gelfand STEM Center, a collaboration of the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering, works to: strengthen STEM teaching and learning through active discovery and design; implement research based teaching and learning strategies; marshal the contributions of CWRU faculty, staff, and students; maximize impact on student learning through collaboration; and evaluate and continually refine our programs.

Upcoming Programs and Events: June 8-July 2, 2020: Future Connections, A program of University Circle Inc. for rising seniors interested in career exploration June, 2020 (Dates TBD): Introduction to Innovation-Week long opportunity for elementary teachers to strengthen standards based science and engineering content and practice July 6-17, 2020: Shipwreck Camp 2020 Science & Exploration for 12-15 year olds; Build an ROV, explore wrecks in Lake Erie; applications now available July 21-August 31, 2020: Environmental Heroes Orientation; Applications now available for middle and high school students interested in authentic field research (two year commitment for summer orientation and weekly afterschool sessions)

For more information, please call 216-368-5075 e-mail: kmk21@case.edu Web site: Gelfand.case.edu

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variety of activities and great food. Outstanding opportunity for fun and growth in a safe, healthy environment. ACA accredited. Boys and girls, ages 6-16. Call 800-837CAMP or visit falconcamp.com


The Fine Arts Association offers camps, classes and private instruction for all ages and ability levels. With a combination of indoor and outdoor activities, campers are immersed in the arts. Choose between one-week, half-day and six-week camps. Before and after camp care is also available. Visit fineartsassociation.org


Geauga Park District’s 8th annual adventure camps come in week-long forms for youth entering grades 5-7. Camps run the weeks of June 8, July 6, July 13, July 27 and Aug. 3, plus Junior Naturalist Camp the week of June 15. Week-long experiences for teens entering grades 8-10 are the weeks of June 15 and July 20. Single-day “X-Treme Adventures” for the older kids are also July 9, 16 and 23. Visit bit.ly/gpdcamps

GILMOUR DAY CAMPS Visit gilmour.org/summercamp

GIRL SCOUTS OF NORTH EAST OHIO Visit gsneo.org/camplife

GOLDFISH SWIM SCHOOL Visit goldfishswimschool.com

GRAND RIVER ACADEMY Visit grandriver.org

HATHAWAY BROWN SCHOOL Visit hb.edu/summer


Hawken Summer Programs offer a variety of activities led by experienced professionals for boys and girls ages 4-18. Camp offerings include day camps, one-week Passport Camps, Innovation Camps, Athletics Camps and Summer Studies. Camps run between June and August. Call 440-423-2940, email summerprograms@hawken.edu or visit summer.hawken.edu


Immerse your child in the wonders of nature at the Holden Arboretum or Cleveland Botanical Garden. From exploring unique ecological areas to learning about farm-to-table food preparation, themed summer camps are available for children in pre-K through grade 5. Call 216-707-2841 or visit cbgarden.org. Call 440-602-3833 or visit holdenarb.org

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CAMP and

Programs Guide ID TECH CAMP

iD Tech is the world leader in STEM education, with 450,000 alumni and over 20 years of experience. Summer programs for ages 7-19 are held at 150 prestigious campuses including NYU, Caltech and Imperial College London. Students build in-demand skills for futures in coding, game development, robotics and creative arts. Call 1-888-709-8324 or visit idtech.com


Summer camps at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center offer preschoolers and students of all ages the opportunity to explore and connect with the outdoors, meet new friends, encounter local wildlife and discover the wonders of the night sky in Schuele Planetarium. Registration is open and ongoing. Visit lensc.org



Visit lakeridgeacademy.org/summer


Visit lakelandcc.edu/camps



Kids can experience the founding of America from 9 a.m. to noon July 20-24 at the Historical Society in Ravenna. $30 for kids entering grades 1-6. Includes re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party, Washington crossing the Delaware, signing of the Declaration of Independence and games, craft, and a real Indian Village. Deadline is June 30 or until spots are taken. Call 330-548-3305 or visit libertycampforkids.com


Children’s Grief Support Camps Offer Hope and Healing


he beauty of nature provides the healing backdrop for two unique summer camps for children who have experienced the death of a loved one. Both are led by trained grief support specialists from Western Reserve Grief Services. Riding Through Grief, a day camp offered June 22-26, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, in collaboration with Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, 16497 Snyder Road, Chagrin Falls, is for children ages 8-12. Through riding and working with horses on a 45-acre farm, children explore their feelings in a supported environment. The gentle, nurturing feedback of therapy horses in a tranquil environment has a healing effect. Registration for Riding Through Grief is due by May 31. The camp fills quickly, so

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early registration is recommended. Together We Can takes place August 4-6, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at scenic Red Oak Camp, 9057 Kirtland-Chardon Road, Willoughby. Designed for ages 6-13, the camp encourages self-expression through art, music and sharing with other kids who have also experienced the death of someone they love. The environment creates a “safe zone” where kids can feel comfortable sharing emotions and asking questions. Registration for Together We Can at Red Oak is due by July 8. “The children engage in activities to express feelings, support coping skills, and

honor their special person,” said Karen Hatfield, Team Leader. “We have offered drum circles, yoga and karate through the years. They also have time to enjoy the gorgeous outdoor setting and have fun with the other kids. There is swimming, rock climbing, archery and kayaking in the afternoon. They learn they are not alone, they are not going crazy and other children their age are coping with some of the same kinds of feelings.” To request a registration packet for one of the camps, call 216.486.6838. More information is available at hospicewr.org/camps.

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CAMP and

Programs Guide


LifeCenter Plus Kids Summer Camp offers excitement and programs for your children ages 5-13. Campers enjoy weekly themes and field trips, daily swimming, crafts, games and more. Camps run Monday-Friday from June 1 - Aug. 21. Flexible camp options are available. Visit lifecenterplus.com


Visit laurelschool.org/summer

LE CHAPERON ROUGE Visit Lechaperonrouge.com


Visit learningaboutbusiness.org


Offering summer camps for kids of all ages with a variety of interests, including fishing, sports, outdoor adventure, boating, birding and more. Registration for Lorain County residents opens Feb. 21 at 440-458-5121. Registration for everyone opens Feb. 28. Visit loraincountymetroparks.com

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Mad Science and Crayola Imagine Arts Academy will offer STEAM camps throughout Northeast Ohio. Science themes include: robots, archaeology, secret agents, inventions, engineering and more. Featured art camp is Wild World, focusing on animals and conservation. With over 20 years of camp experience, they look forward to helping your child have a fantastic summer. Call 330-498-0033 or visit northeastohio.madscience.org, imagineartsacademy.com


Build your kids’ confidence and performing skills with high energy morning sessions focusing on character, movement, voice and improv. Use those skills in the afternoon in an environment of creative excitement to rehearse a performance on the last day. Taught by professional actors & directors who care about kids. Visit magicaltheatre.org


Magnificat High School has summer programs for girls entering grades 1-9. Magnificat offers participants the opportunity to explore their world, learn new skills and have fun. Visit magnificaths.org


Mandel JCC J-day Camps & Camp Wise Overnight Camp — summer happens here. Helping children learn new skills, develop confidence and gain self-esteem, all while having a blast, is what spending a summer at Mandel JCC camps is all about. By the end of summer, campers will have gained independence, developed a host of new interests and made lifelong friendships. Call 216-831-0700 or visit mandeljcc.org/camps or campwise.org


Visit mathnasium.com


Swap screen time for nature as you learn and explore in an outdoor classroom. Your child will love these one-of-a-kind, week-long camp experiences taught by staff, which includes teachers and highly trained naturalists. Find an outdoor adventure to inspire an appreciation for our natural world, unlocking a summer full of learning, reflection, friends and fun. Choose from nine week-long camp experiences. Call 216-321-5935 or visit shakerlakes.org/camp


Summer camps can open new worlds for your child. The same is true for a higher education. For more than 30 years, Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has helped families nationwide save tax-free for education after high school. Someday your child is going to college. Someday starts today with collegeadvantage.com

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CAMP and


As the nation’s only independent school located in a national park, Old Trail School offers children, ages 3-14, an unforgettable summer camp experience. Explore the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, build forts and tunnels and hunt for treasure in the outdoors, and so much more. Visit oldtrail.org/summer


Visit jayberkphd.com/summer

PROGRESS WITH CHESS Visit progresswithchess.org

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get updated on resources and what's happening in the region. Also, look for "Camp of the Week" and more summer camp season fun. Visit NortheastOhioParent.com

RED OAK CAMP Visit redoakcamp.org

SAINT JOSEPH ACADEMY Visit sja1890.org


Camp JCC offers a traditional summer day camp experience along with a variety of weekly specialty camps for campers entering grade 1 through grade 8. Mix and match camp programs, come early and stay late with optional a.m. or p.m. care and enjoy daily swimming. Unmatched facilities include full-size gym, indoor and outdoor pools and 50-plus acres of open space for your child to explore, learn new skills and build friendships and lasting memories. Visit shawjcc.org/camp-j


This two-week day camp, July 6-17, for ages 12-15 will engage campers in a virtual search for a Lake Erie shipwreck. Campers conduct field research, have an introduction to scuba and snorkeling, read a novel, develop navigation skills and develop a plan and virtually find a wreck and travel to a wreck site. Call 216-368-5075, email kmk21@case.edu or visit gelfand.case.edu

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Snapology’s Discovery Center in Beachwood is an amazing place to build and create with Lego bricks. Half- and full-day summer camps for ages 4-12. Your camper will have a blast building memories and learning through play with fun Lego themes. They’ve moved to 23645 Mercantile Road, Suite H. Visit cleveland.snapology.com


Camp Dates: June 15-July 24. Art, cooking, music, movement, water play and outdoor playground fill the mornings with child-centered activities guided by Montessori-certified teaching staff. Six-week or three-week half-day programs are available. Half-day program runs 9 a.m.-noon. Three- and six-week options available. Visit ruffingmontessori.net

Visit NortheastOhioParent.com to find summer resources and more!

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CAMP and

Programs Guide SUMMER WIND STABLES Visit summerwindstables.com, summerwindtack.com


Summer 2020 programs include many new enrichment camps and academic courses, along with our popular sports clinics and day camps. Held at Shaker Heights and Hunting Valley campuses, US camps are led by experienced teachers and coaches. They offer camps for preschool-age kids through high school. Visit us.edu/summer

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Welcome to another exciting season of summer camps at Western Reserve Academy. Whether your child wants to develop their athletic, academic or creative skills —­or just have fun and make friends, you’ll find options that perfectly fit their needs — and your schedule. Call 330-650-5832 or visit wra.net


Camp Season is Here! Northeast Ohio Parent will have more camp programs coverage in our May issue!

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How To Increase Your Kids’

Language Skills

By Rosemarie Griffin, Speech Therapist


ou want to hear your child talk. As a parent, those first words or sounds — whether it happens in the first year or beyond — are music to your ears. Creating a language-enriched environment for your child can help them thrive and learn. There are things we can do across our child’s day — no matter their age or language level — to embed opportunities to focus on communication. These are helpful strategies for students with typical language development and for those with delays.

Birth - Age 1

Ages 1 - 2

Ages 2 - 3

Ages 3 - 4

Ages 4 - 5

Teach your baby to imitate actions, like peek-a-boo, waving bye bye and blowing kisses. This teaches your baby how to take turns. Talk about what you are doing during the day. Say things like “You are drinking milk” or “Mommy is reading a book.” Read to your child every day. There are so many fun board books to explore!

Use short words and sentences that your child can imitate. Say things like “I like oatmeal” or “ I am happy.” Add words to what your child says. If your child says “apple,” you can say “That is right. That is a red apple.” Read to your child daily. Talk about the pictures on the page.

Let your child know that what they say is important to you. This lets our little ones know that their communication is powerful. Teach your child new words as they come up in the environment. If you are trying a new food, like asparagus, describe to your child what this is. Start to introduce colors, shapes and counting. This can be done in everyday activities. You could say things like “The ball is a circle” or “I have two boxes.” Look at family photos and talk about what people are doing in the pictures. Children enjoy talking about people they are familiar with and love. Sing songs and nursery rhymes. These fun activities introduce the concept of rhyming.

Start to discuss how different items are grouped into categories, like food, shapes and animals. Read books with simple stories. Talk about the story and have your child start to retell the story. Ask your child questions about the story; this helps to develop comprehension skills. Engage in pretend play like cooking food and playing dress up. This will help to develop play skills and social skills.

Play word games by giving your child clues and they guess the word you are describing. You could say, “It is a fruit and it is yellow.” They’ll light up when they answer “Banana.” Give your child attention when they are talking. Teach your child to ask for help when they need it. Give your child twostep directions: “Get your coat and put it on.” Play board games with your child. This will help them learn how to follow rules and take turns with others.

IF YOUR CHILD ALREADY RECEIVES SPEECH THERAPY SERVICES: You are a vital part of the team. Your input about communication is essential. Ask to sit in on therapy sessions if possible. This will allow you to learn about the strategies being used to help your child increase their communication skills. Ask the therapist what you can do at home to help your child become a more effective communicator.

Visit abaspeech.org for more information.

IF YOU SUSPECT A DELAY: If you suspect that your child has a delay, seek help. At any time you can contact a speech language pathologist. SLPs can be found in your area working in schools, hospitals and private practice.

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Should your kids use supplements to solve sleepless nights?

Experts and parents weigh in on Melatonin, a popular sleep supplement By Sara Macho Hill


nne Christensen wanted to help her son get a good night’s sleep. Christensen knew her 17-yearold son Andrew, who was active in high school band and sports, had been wrestling with not being able to sleep and would wake during the night feeling very anxious. So the North Royalton mother of two sons, who herself was diagnosed with insomnia at age 16 and has a prescription for sleep medication, began purchasing melatonin supplements for her 17-year-old son Andrew last summer, following a suggestion from a functional nurse during a routine physical exam. Christensen did some research on various melatonin brands before settling on a melatonin supplement from her local Costco. She believes school pressures played a role in her son’s sleeping issues and immediately noticed an improvement shortly after Andrew began his new regimen. Each one of us — babies, toddlers, teens,

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young adults and beyond — naturally produces melatonin, the hormone responsible for taking us to dreamland. However, for some parents and their children, sleep is a constant battle in their household in which parents seek medical advice to get relief — and melatonin is a popular option. Melatonin is front and center in the discussion of recommended sleep aid supplements on just about any parenting blog or social networking group. The supplement, which is not regulated by the FDA, can be easily found on just about any grocery store shelf. Melatonin supplements, whether they come in tablet, gummy or sublingual (dissolving) form. But the question remains: Is this popular supplement the best choice?

Nurture Sleep

Our bodies produce melatonin about two hours before we’re ready to fall asleep, says Dr. Carol Rosen, medical director of the Pediatric

Sleep Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “Its timing is remarkable,” Rosen says. “We all make it, and we typically make it in the right amount.” Sometimes, though, we want to nurture nature along a bit, and many parents are doing it with melatonin in supplement form. But before jumping on the supplement bandwagon, experts recommend taking a deep dive into your household’s sleep routine. After all, Rosen says, a regular sleep schedule is important for growing children and developing teens. “There’s a lot of hype and talk about why a parent might go out and buy melatonin for their child,” Rosen says. “Sleep complaints are very common in children and about a quarter of parents are unhappy about their child’s sleep. Perhaps a better explanation is the lack of a sleep routine.” Dr. Gregory Omlor, a pediatric pulmonologist affiliated with Akron Children’s Hos-

pital, also recommends behavioral techniques ahead of popping melatonin. A great bedtime routine, in case you need a quick refresher, includes time together brushing teeth, changing into pajamas, shutting down electronics, reading quietly, reflecting together on the day or saying prayers, followed by lights out, doctors say. School-aged children need about nine hours of sleep to feel their best, whereas toddlers need 11 hours. Rosen thinks the reliance on supplements is a shortcut to those hour goals. “In our country, the solution to a lot of problems is taking a pill,” Rosen says “The solution is not melatonin. The majority of kids I see are already on melatonin. One of the biggest issues here is having a regular schedule and being able to fall asleep without electronics. Most people are not missing melatonin, so they don’t need the supplement.”

Understanding Options

There is medical evidence, however, that melatonin supplements are effective in special populations, such as those with sleep onset insomnia, autism, ADHD and other neurological disorders. Melatonin is non-addictive, Omlor says, and

can be taken indefinitely. Possible side effects range from nausea to dizziness to headaches and drowsiness the following day. He’s also heard from some that the supplement gives them strange dreams. The supplement has been linked to delayed onset of puberty in experiments with rodents, but no clear evidence has been shown in humans. Like anything, talking with your child’s doctor is key to understanding your best option. For parent Kelly Dowling, melatonin supplements were the answer for her 8-year-old son, Aidan. The boy had begun sleepwalking and waking from nightmares shortly after recovering from a virus that gave him a high fever for four days straight. Doctors believed his sleep troubles stemmed from the virus and sleepwalking also appeared to be hereditary, as Aidan’s dad did so too as a child. His doctor recommended melatonin gummies. Dowling says she saw the supplement as a short-term fix. “I believe melatonin can be abused and shouldn’t be given unless it is necessary,” Dowling says. “Sure, don’t we all want a sound night’s sleep, but medicating isn’t the answer. Before I gave Aidan his first night’s gummy, I researched, talked to other parents and had a long conversation with his pediatrician. It isn’t something that

will be long term for our son, but at this point in his life, we feel it is the best option.” Christensen, whose son is 17, says she made him a partner in solving his trouble with sleeping. “We’re very open in our family, so I recommend talking with your kids about how they want to handle their sleep issues,” Christensen adds. “With Andrew, my job is to teach and instill in him the skills he needs to be a functioning adult. Some parents still grapple with how long to give the supplement to their children, out of fear they will become reliant on it to fall asleep. “For us, we tried for several years to help our daughter sleep and worked with doctors before trying melatonin,” says parent Janelle Madzia of North. “The doctor helped us with the decision, as melatonin is something naturally produced in our bodies, and, for our daughter, she just needed a little more to help her rest easy.” Still, Madzia says she doesn’t see supplements as an easy fix. “I would recommend other avenues first before jumping to melatonin,” she says. “It shouldn’t be a quick decision because of wanting a fast solution.”

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Therapeutic Listening:

A Sense-ational Approach to Treating the Whole Body By Lindsey Geiss


ow, that’s quite a headset!” the man exclaimed as he stepped outside the post office, peering down at the wide-eyed 5-year-old on on a mission to mail a letter. The boy’s mom just smiled, too focused on making the errand go smoothly to stop and explain the purpose of the large black headphones and MP3 player clipped to its side. Once back in the car, she checked the visual timer: only five minutes left. She breathed a sigh of relief, but wished she had shared two words with the man: Therapeutic Listening. Therapeutic Listening® (TL) is an auditory intervention that uses electronically modified music with organized, rhythmical sound patterns to impact all levels of the nervous system. In short, how we listen affects our overall physiology and behavior. Developed by Vital Links and its founder Sheila M. Frick, OTR/L, TL is considered part of a comprehensive sensory integration treatment formally known as Ayres Sensory Integration®, a theory pioneered by occupational therapist and special needs advocate Dr. A. Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR. This research-based tool can be used independently or to complement other sensorimotor therapies at home or

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ties are estimated to occur in 10-12 percent of individuals in the general population who have no identified diagnostic condition, while an estimated 40-80 percent of children and 3-11 percent of adults with developmental disabilities have significant sensory processing difficulties. in a clinical setting to treat difficulties with processing sensory information, listening, attention and communication. THIS WHOLE CONCEPT IS NOT NEW

“Listening programs have been around since the mid-1900s with Dr. Alfred Tomatis, an ear nose and throat doctor,” says Christine Chambers, OTR/L, M Ed., owner of Abilities First, LLC in Fairview Park. Individuals with the following issues may benefit from TL: sensitivity to sound or other input, attention difficulties, speech and language delays, difficulty following directions, regulation of emotions and energy level, challenges with transitions or changes in routine, struggles with body functions (sleep, eating, etc.), poor motor planning, problems with social and play skills and reading comprehension. While a formal diagnosis is not needed, according to its creators, TL is appropriate for children with developmental delays, ADHD, autism, Down Syndrome, learning disability and sensory processing disorders, among others. According to research cited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), sensory processing difficul


Not to be confused with noise reducing headphones for hearing protection and sound sensitivity or wireless musical varieties, TL’s specially engineered headphones connected to an MP3 (or CD) player are worn twice a day for 30 minutes per session (at least three hours apart). SD card “chips” or albums are changed every two weeks as directed by a therapist who is trained and certified in the program and has access to the full library of music. While other listening therapy approaches consist of a single program that must be followed in a certain order, TL is customized and may last 6 or 8 weeks to several months. Albums with names like “Mozart for Modulation,” “Nature Classics” and “Gravitational Grape” are selected and arranged in sequences based on a person's unique and changing needs and goals. “Therapeutic Listening speaks to us occupational therapists with sensory background,” Chambers says. “Bringing in the auditory system puts more pieces of the puzzle together. We move through space using all the sensory systems – including proprioception (body awareness/joint position sense), vestibular (balance and movement) and tactile (touch) — so we

need to integrate everything to be in sync and stay in a calm, alert state.” Chambers has been integrating Therapeutic Listening into broader sensory programs for half of her nearly 30-year career. She sought training for personal and professional use. “As a toddler, my son had auditory sensitivities to the coffee grinder, toilet flushing and more, impacting daily life,” Chambers says. “If you think of the inner ear muscles opening and closing a dampener, he stayed wide open all the time. The therapy helped by pulling out high and low notes and training the ear to listen to far and near space, tuning out extraneous sounds, for example.” Her practice services clients from birth to age 21 and implements TL with children as young as 2 as well as adults. During listening sessions, screen time — TV, video games, etc. — is discouraged. “The goal is getting support with movement or deep pressure, like a cuddle swing… getting input while moving through space,” Chambers says. “Some

children enjoy listening while engaged in sensory/tactile bins, quiet play or riding in a car. Others even listen during school.” “The headphones themselves are pretty comfortable,” she adds. “In all my years, there has been only one child I could not get to use the headphones with the program.” While modulated/modified music is the hallmark series of TL, new Quickshift albums offer additional flexibility to facilitate immediate change. “Vivaldi is my go-to when I write reports,” says Chambers. “I listen to it myself using the app.” NEGATIVE EFFECTS ARE POSSIBLE

“You can see some dysregulating things,” Chambers says when counseling clients. “During a training where I listened to a lot of binaural beats left and right, I felt seasick, so I stopped and told the instructor. After several minutes I felt better.” Since every person’s body reacts differently, there may be some trial and error. Vital Links’ FAQs describe this as “periods of disorganization followed by reorganization” of the nervous system. “This happens in typical development as well, as a child gains a new skill, they may regress in another for a short period of time… Emo

tionality is typical as a child’s modulation becomes more regulated.” The Sennheiser HD500A headphones and SanDisk MP3 player cost approximately $200, while music chip prices vary. Since the equipment and albums are not considered medical necessity, TL is not billed to insurance. Chambers’ practice loans chips like a video store, charging extra fees if lost or broken. If one or two chips work to regulate and organize a child, she suggests parents purchase them as a go-to for re-grounding. Parents with sensory processing or other concerns about their child can consult their pediatrician to get a referral or order for occupational therapy then schedule an evaluation with an OT trained and certified in TL. In addition to various private providers across Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic offers TL at each of its 6 satellite locations: Cleveland, Beachwood, Medina, Stow, Middleburg Heights and Westlake. While occupational therapists commonly seek this training, other licensed providers may include speech pathologists, behavior analysts, intervention specialists and teachers. For more information on therapeutic listening and sensory processing, visit www. vitallinks.com, www.aota.org or check out the book, “The Out of Sync Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

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Coping Skills IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD By Dr. Jay Berk


ith the unknown future of the coronavirus and the current pandemic, many parents are struggling with what to do with their children, how to manage the situation and what to say. Exactly what you do and say depends on the child’s age and maturity, but here are some important tips for parents to use at their own discretion given the needs of their child. Seek professional help, if needed.  


Many children in the U.S. are diagnosed with anxiety, so realize this is an opportunity to either raise or lower your child’s anxiety by how you handle the situation.


Be aware that what you say and what you model is very important. You, as a parent, must model calming behavior, or your child will sense differently.


Metacognition is the unique ability humans have to think about thinking. This situation is an opportunity to teach skills to your child. What thoughts can you tell them? Replace negative thinking — “I won’t be safe” — with “We are safe and here is what we are doing.”  Or shift from “Will this virus impact me, too?” to “If it does, we have medical care that will assist you” (depending on the age of your child).


Having structure is key. Children and adolescents thrive off structure, and with schools being closed, potentially for some period of time, there is a loss of regular routine. Build structure for their day. Who are they going to be with?  What time do they get up? What time do they go to bed? What time do they start their online schoolwork? Etc. Post schedule on a whiteboard if they are younger in written format so they can see it. Also, schedule time for recreation, i.e., riding bicycles outside, playing board games, etc. Limit video game use. Children and adolescents will be inclined to stray towards electronics during this unique period in our history.  If you do not want to have trouble later, keep limited amounts of time on these

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now so that you are not trying to break bad habits later.

getting help early on and staving off a problem that is much larger later.





Allow kids recreation time within your own comfort level. Are they allowed to play with a neighbor child or at least interact electronically with the neighbor child through video conferencing of some kind, an app, or gaming? Once again, this should be watched closely and limited to some degree. This unique situation is a great opportunity to teach new skills they may not have, for example, cooking. Do a family recipe or do a family project together.


If your child is having extreme anxiety about the situation, which some children do as they already have a baseline of anxiety, get help sooner, rather than later. As a therapist, I cannot stress more that people sometimes wait too long, and it becomes more complicated giving the child help rather than

Note that for some younger children you might see some regression, such as at bedtime or crying or tearfulness. Reassurance is important for children and for younger children comfort items, such as stuffed animals, and sensory items, such as fidget or squeeze items, may be helpful. Limit media exposure. No one knows, of course, what is going to happen now, but with the television on in the background or flashes across your screen of banners, keep exposure to an age-appropriate level.


Distraction can be good. Simple things mean a lot. 

Dr. Jay Berk is a licensed psychologist and an expert in working with children, adolescents, and families. Visit jayberkphd.com

Spring at






By Angela Gartner

he sun is shining, tulips have sprouted and the warm breezes of spring are almost here. The winter has been a whirlwind of stresses with twists and turns,


but with the new season upon us, it’s a great time to get inspired — and maybe, find new ways to entertain or teach the kids at home.

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CLEAN UP Sounds simple, right? However, does your whole family have a spring cleaning routine for the outside? From toddlers to teens, you can have them helping clear away the branches and leaves to make room for the summer flowers. If you want to be really adventurous, have your kids plan a section of the yard.

DIG FOR WORMS Yes, worms. When my kids were young, they dug in our yard and had fun filling buckets of dirt and real worms. (Maybe it’s something boys do, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.) However, if you are more squeamish about the real thing, Learning 4 Kids (earning4kids.net) has an idea that parents can put the “worms”, aka cooked spaghetti, in a dirt box for kids to dig in. Don’t stop there, go online and learn about worms — what they do for the earth, what they eat and what they do all day.

FLOWER FUN Spring brings a lot of rain, so going outside might not always be an option. During the dreary times, it’s a good opportunity to let the kids' creativity shine. Paint, draw, and cut paper to create your favorite spring flowers. For little kids, get them moving. The Ohio Department of Education’s Ohio’s Early Learning & Development Standards for your preschool-aged kids, suggests a fun activity is “talk to your child about how plants grow and then have them demonstrate with their body.” For older kids, this could be a project of starting to plant flowers in pots and then transfer them to ground in May.

BIRDS AND OTHER CREATURES The spring brings wildlife out if its winter slumber and birds back from their southern vacation. Want to help your children know more about nature? The Ohio Division of Wildlife (wildlife.ohiodnr.gov) is a great place to start looking for resources. They have a book on the different birds that call Ohio their home and where to view different wildlife. There is a variety of creatures to view from a distance and learn about in the park systems and even around your home.

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BUTTERFLIES AND BEES Our insect friends arrive in the spring. There are so many kid-friendly crafts on Pinterest to decorate your home to celebrate the fluttery friends. Also, you can have your kids learn about the butterfly’s life cycle and then put on a play to demonstrate it.



Adorable S pr Finger Pup ing pets!


Why not m ak for every se e a set ason!

OUTDOOR YOGA This spring has been more stressful for everyone. The outdoors helps to revitalize the soul and body. You can do many things outside such as take a walk or go for a bike ride as a family. But when was the last time you just sat down and took in the spring air? Stark Parks had a good suggestion, “Consider picking up your mat and taking your practice to a park. While formal yoga classes aren’t happening for the time being, you can still experience meaningful meditation at any one of our parks. Deep breath, take in the scenery and namaste.” Even if your family doesn’t know how to do yoga, you can still get outside as a family to relax and rejuvenate.

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TREES Have you looked around your neighborhood lately? Are there enough trees? Trees are essential to our earth for oxygen, but as trees get older or interfere with wires or developments, they get cut down. If your home is treeless, it might be a good time to think about planting one. At our house, we have a maple that has grown to be a teenager and we remind our boys how we planted it when we first got married. It’s fun to see it fill out along with our children. If you want to donate or plant a tree, good information is available at arborday.org.

RAIN DAY Have your kids ever wondered about the spring storms? How do lightning and thunder work? There are a lot of fun craft ideas on Pinterest to help teach them, but also you can make up projects on your own. If you can stand the noise, have kids simulate a storm with your phone’s flashlight and good ole’ fashion pots and pans. If it is raining outside when the weather gets warmer? As long as there’s no storm, have them slip on their raincoats and boots for a 15-minute puddle jumping adventure.

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Visit North eastOhioP arent.com for more a t-home a ctivities! Also, Follo w @NEOh ioParent on Faceb ook and In stagram for family giveaway s!

Northeast Ohio Parent



Samantha Olp

330-636-6127 or Sam@northeastohioparent.com

Have You Checked Out




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By Jason Lea

Jason Lea has a son, daughter and a full-time job at the Mentor Public Library. He also blogs for Northeast Ohio Parent in his nonexistent free time. You can find this East-sider on Twitter at @jasonmarklea or read his blog at northeastohioparent. com/bloggers

Kids pretend to fish off the dock in the Nature Play area at Lake Metroparks Penitentiary Glen in Kirtland.


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Last Children Outside


grew up less than half of a mile from a park with an old stone bridge that New Deal workers built in the 1930s. When I was 5, somebody told me a troll used to live there, so my younger brother and I spent a week scouring it for signs of troll habitation. It was the best kind of waste of time. The park was a wonderland for anyone with an imagination and time to burn. It had fields and trails to wander and trees and cliffsides to climb. It had a waterfall that felt substantial until my seventh grade trip to Niagara. I lost T-ball games and my sense of direction there, kissed girls underneath the sugar maples, ran its trails and lived a significant portion of my life within its borders. It seemed wild to me — not just “undeveloped” but unmonitored, as if the adults didn’t know the park extended beyond its running trails. And its interiors belonged to explorer children, recalcitrant teens and raccoons. In 2005, Richard Louv published a book called “Last Child in the Woods” where he described nature-deficit-disorder, which might not be a real disorder but it does describe a real problem. Kids are spending more time both inside and in controlled environments. Outside playtime has been connected to everything from better grades to better sleep (and who doesn’t want their kid to sleep better?), but it fell out of vogue for a while as society began to worry more about test scores and kidnappers.

Luckily, the sort of un-refereed, outdoors horseplay that Louv champions — troll hunts and that sort of nonsense — is making a comeback. Lake Metroparks Penitentiary Glen in Kirtland has a Nature Play area designed to delight children and bedevil adults who need structure in their playtime. It has logs that can be tipis or fishing poles, a cabin that can be a shelter or a climbing wall, a sand pit, pond, tunnels, hills, groves — and precious few rules. The last time we visited, my kids found a bunch of pumpkins, so they raced the gourds down the hillside. When they got tired of that, they smashed one of them open so they could see the seeds and white flesh inside. All of this is permissible — not just permissible, but encouraged — because Nature Play’s philosophy is that children learn more and better from their fun when it’s they who dictate the terms of playtime. Let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge reality. Depending on your own experience with kids, all this talk about playing outside sounds somewhere between quaint and implausible. After all, if a kid can choose between an iPhone and a tree, there’s no guarantee he’s going to pick the tree. In situations like that, I use a trick I learned from Lake Metroparks Park Services Director Paul Palagyi: He told me to let the kid take the phone or tablet with them. “Have them take 10 pictures of plants that they don’t know, and then you can figure out what they are together,” he suggested. I love that trick because it encourages curiosity. Besides, I don’t hate tech. Deriding smartphones would be like my grandparents complaining that you can’t still rent a rowboat and paddle around the troll bridge at Garfield Park Reservation. You can’t fight the future. If nature teaches us anything, it’s that our surroundings are always changing. But if we wish, we can guide the future. And, whenever possible, I like to guide it outside.

We Won!

Northeast Ohio Parent earns 10 Editorial and Design Awards — six gold, three silver and one bronze award for its editorial content and design — at the Parenting Media Association’s (PMA) annual convention and awards ceremony, held Feb. 28 in St. Petersburg, Fla. 2020





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