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FREE Fall 2015

How To Support A Loved One When Their Baby Is In The NICU Food & Tooth Decay

Satellites in Space: Existing Socially After Kids 12 Secrets To Great Sex for Daddy-O Helping With Homework


Fall 2015

Volume 3, Issue 3


4 The Benefits of Music Education 5 The Magic of a Montessori Classroom 6 Helping With Homework 8 Satellites in Space 10 12 Secrets to Great Sex for Daddy-O 12 The Sleep Guide 14 Halloween Fun 16 Good Grief: Is there such a thing? 18 How To Support A Loved One When Their Baby Is In The NICU 20 Food & Tooth Decay 22 Letter Sounds

Cover photo courtesy of


Anita Perry Sheena Fowlie Sara Dimerman Laurie Zottmann Jeff Hay - the Dad Vibe Dawn Whittaker Susan Kast Sue LeBreton Dr. Terry Farquhar/Dr Alan Milnes Brenda Larson

Editor-in-Chief: Kerri Milton Creative Director: Bev Tiel Advertising/Distribution Kathie O’Gorman

every issue

3 Editor’s Note

21 Resource Directory

Advertising Inquiries: General Inquiries: Web: Okanagan Child is published four times per year by a couple of busy moms. Please note that this magazine is solely funded through the support of our advertisers and sponsors. Please support our advertisers! Opinions expressed in this publication may not necessarily reflect those of the Publishers. All contents copyrighted©. No part of this publication may be reprinted, quoted, copied or reproduced without the express written permission of the Publisher.

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editorial note

Back to School, back to fall, back to schedules, extra-curriculars, back to fun. I know most people see January 1st as the time of new beginnings, but in our household it really is the beginning of September.  Who doesn’t love the new school supplies and backpacks, the brand new shoes and lunch bags?   The idea that each school year brings a fresh start to learning and the opening of new possibilities.  The air is crisper and fall brings with it Halloween, Thanksgiving and before we know it Christmas!  This year Bev and I will be celebrating our 3rd year as the owners of Okanagan Child Magazine and Kathie has been with us over a year now -  and we could not be happier with the changes we have made, the contacts we have created and the many many ideas that are on their way....its like a new school year!  This issue has with it some great ideas for simple spooky Halloween fun, some different thoughts to education, some ideas of transitioning into a new phase of life - whether it be by helping a friend through tragedy, or transitioning yourself into a new phase of your own life.  No matter who you are, or what stage you are in, the beginning of the cool autumn air breathes new life into whatever you are doing and with that we sharpen our pencils and welcome whatever change is coming our way.  “Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”  ― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Kerri Editor-in-Chief

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The Benefits of Music Education by Anita Perry At this time of year, parents are presented with the dilemma of choosing extracurricular activities for their children. With a wealth of scientific research over the last decade proving that music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social and creative potential, consider choosing music. 

Exciting new research is showing that children who play an instrument are better able to process information and actually have stronger neural connections in the brain. Scientists now believe that the changes in the brain caused by music training can lead to improvements in general cognitive skills like memory, attention and reading ability, as well as enhanced language skills and empathy.  McGill University professor Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music, cites studies that actually prove the areas of the brain that perform higher-level thinking are larger in musicians than in those who are not musically trained. 

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There is emerging evidence that life-long music training can delay the onset of dementia and it has been documented as forming a pathway of communication for those who have suffered from a stroke. Playing an instrument is an activity that will last a lifetime. There are many musicians who continue to play and reap the benefits of a musical education well into their 90s.  Even if you sprain that ankle or pull that tendon, you can still sit down at the piano and play a tune. So, if you are considering extracurricular activities for your children, think about choosing music, a gift of enjoyment that will last a lifetime.  If you are interested in music lessons, feel free to visit for a list of teachers in your area. Anita Perry BC Registered Music Teachers Association

The Magic of a Montessori Classroom by Sheena Fowlie A Montessori classroom looks very different from a mainstream classroom. There are many hands-on materials displayed around the room, decorations on the wall are kept minimal and displayed at the children’s height, and children are scattered around the room, working at tables, on rugs on the floor, or walking around. The real magic of a Montessori education is harder to see though. The Montessori philosophy of education is complex and covers many areas. Some of its most important principles are that learning should be hands-on and relevant whenever possible, children need to be carefully observed so that they can be provided with the lessons and materials for their specific needs, and focus should be given to academic, practical life, and social skills. In order to provide children with the lessons they specifically need, it requires that the teacher carefully observes his or her students to see

where they are, in order to provide them with materials that are not too easy and not too hard. Students are then given the freedom to choose between the materials during their work periods. This is meant to nurture in children confidence and independence. Montessori teachers seek to inspire a love of learning and teach the skills to make learning lifelong. The magic then of a Montessori classroom is not in the carefully prepared environment or the beautifully designed wooden materials; rather it is in the busy and contented hum of focussed activity that comes with children being engaged in their learning and confident in their independence. Sheena Fowlie Head of School Summerland Montessori School FB/summerlandmontessori.

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Helping With Homework:

when does help become a hinderance? by Sara Dimerman I was an independent, motivated student and so my parents never felt the need to watch over me to make sure my school work was done. They trusted that I knew what I was doing and so long as I continued to prove them right, they left me alone. I understand that not every student is motivated or eager to do well. So parents often ask my advice about how much intervention is appropriate, and where/ how to draw the line when it comes to helping with school work.

“I CAN’T COME OUT, I HAVE TO HELP MY DAD WITH MY HOMEWORK.” My answer is not the same for everyone. I take several things into account before responding. First, I want to know the age of the child. I also want to know about his or her academic history. Has there been a diagnosis of a learning disability, for example? Is the child generally organized and motivated but then suddenly sloppy and uninterested? Have the parents set a pattern that is hard to change? For example, if parents always sit with their children to do homework and maybe even given then answers to the more difficult questions, then it will be hard to go from 100 percent involvement to none. I also want to know about what is going on at home? Are there any family dynamics that may be affecting the child’s ability to focus?

wrong with this picture. I have spoken to many parents who have become resentful over time as a result of dropping their own work to be available to their child right away, only to feel that they are doing the lion’s share of the work. For example, a child may leave the room to watch TV or may stay but begin texting back and forth with friends while a parent pores over a chapter in the textbook looking for the answer to a question her child has been unable to find on his own. It’s no wonder that a parent resents doing the work while her child does something leisurely. Other parents have shared their hurt or anger with me because their child is rude or disrespectful after asking for help. This may be in the form of eye rolling or yelling that “you dont know what you’re saying” or “we didn’t learn it that way” or even worse, “you’re stupid!” When a parent shares that she is being treated this way I ask what she thinks a co worker or employee might

Depending on the situation, I adjust my advice accordingly. My core belief, under ‘normal’ circumstances, is that it’s best for parents to stay within reach, but not on top of their children. In other words, be on hand whenever your children ask for homework support, but if you are working harder and are more worried than them about end results, then there’s something 6 l Fall 2015

do when spoken to in this manner. The answer is usually “she would quit.” “Exactly,” I say, “and you can quit too!” Not meanly or abruptly, but as a consequence for the child’s behaviour. Presented in advance, its best for a parent to create boundaries as in “when you ask for my help, I need you to remain in the room - either attending to what I am reading or doing other homework. I also need you to ask for my help with enough notice that I don’t have to drop what I am doing immediately and not after (fill in the blank yourself)pm at night. If you call me names or yell at me, I will put the work aside and you will need to do it on your own.” Despite the script, quitting is not so easy especially if you’re worried about what will happen if you don’t stay to help, even after being treated poorly. You may worry that without help, your child’s grades will decline and in the future, may not be accepted into their University of choice. While understandable, this way of thinking keeps you working harder than your child and continues to perpetuate the negative cycle between you. Besides the obvious concerns with this dynamic, a child cannot feel proud of his or her accomplishments when you have done most of the work. In addition, a teacher will not be able to identify gaps in knowledge if a child gets the entire worksheets answers correct because of

your knowledge and in the future, even if your child does get into that College of choice, how will he manage without you by his side?

Along with taking a step back, only helping when your child requests it and even then, remaining true to what you are willing to tolerate, it is imperative that you not spoon feed the answers. Rather determine where your child is stuck and help him through the process so that he can understand more about how to get to the correct answer rather just what it is. When homework hassles are getting in the way of your relationship and the levels of stress in the household are way higher because of it, I often recommend hiring a tutor who can take this off your plate and a discussion with the teacher so that he or she understands more about what your child needs.

Sara Dimerman is a Psychologist, Author and mom to two daughters. For more advice, connect at or on Twitter @ helpmesara.

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Satellites in Space:

Existing Socially After Kids

by Laurie Zottmann Staying socially active after having children was surprisingly hard. I thought it would be more like transitioning to a new job – you keep your friends from the last workplace and move on to make new ones. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The transition to parenthood was more like a transfer to another planet. The realities of infant care put me out of reach of the wing nights, road trips, and long Saturday morning runs that I used to savor with my buddies. I went from hanging out with the gang at least twice a week to seeing them less than once a month. Regular laughfests were replaced by a few awkward visits, punctuated by screams from my fussy little beauty.

At the time, I felt crushed. I desperately missed unwinding and connecting with the girls, but frustratingly, even when we got together, I struggled to engage with them. I couldn’t talk about anything but colic and tiredness. It seemed like along with my free time, spare money, and sleep, I lost my social skills. It was depressing.

from the same exhausting adjustments. Although our playdates were a comfort in relating to each other’s struggles, something lacked. Looking back, I notice that all we talked about was our daily challenges. Maybe it inadvertently reinforced the bleakness of our experience. The playdates quickly dried up when most of the moms went back to work. I occasionally reconnected with the back-toworking moms, and it struck me how much happier they seemed. They talked about the trials of their projects and the intrigue of office friendships and politics. I envied their lightness and thought about going back to work, but I could not manage it financially.

While I grieved the loss of my fun friends, I ventured into the world of parent groups. The first was a group of moms I met at the midwives’ clinic. “Surely I will connect to these fellow new mothers,” I told myself. But we were all suffering 8 l Fall 2015

So there I was, lonely, frustrated, and bored out of my wits. I decided to let go of socializing and do what I could alone, on my own schedule. First, I started running again. It hurt the first few times I laced up my shoes, knowing there would be no one to chat and laugh with me, but at some point the pain eased. It came back to me how much I loved to be outside, and surprised me how much I needed that break from the baby. I had to be focused and strategic to make it happen, but it was worth it. Stepping outside brought me back to myself every time. Next, I discovered a free Sunday morning yoga class. I felt awkward at first, until I realized that I wasn’t the odd man out. Different people showed up each week, and no one interacted during class. We just focused into ourselves until everything else dropped away for one wonderful hour. We were “alone together,” and this became my new kind of social connection. It was surprisingly fulfilling.


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Somewhere along the way, I picked up my lightness again. I noticed myself making effortless chitchat with strangers, and I felt the fun again when the planets aligned for a rare girls’ night. I fell into a bit of a black hole when I became an at-home mom. It pulled me away from my social system, and sent me on a journey alone. When I came out the other side, though, I found a new orbit. I figured out how to be part of a new system, creating interactional gravity across the distance. Laurie is glad the bumpy adjustment to parenthood is behind her. She hopes what she learned will help other lonely astronauts reestablish their happy human connections.

After those classes, I felt great and wanted more. I started adding a trip to the coffee shop to my Sunday morning routine. I treated myself to a drink and some writing time, and listened to the comforting murmur of other people’s conversations. It felt like a re-entry.

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12 Secrets to Great Sex for Daddy-O by Jeff Hay - Dad Vibe Last week, in “So how often are you guys doing it?” – I touched on a sensitive topic – how often you are intimate with your partner and the notion that sex is the glue that can keep your relationship strong and vibrant. Alright fellas, I have assembled a team of your romantic, sexually satisfied peers to share their wealth of knowledge about intimacy, sex and relationship enhancers. (ladies – insert your jokes here) Many frustrated lovers claim their partner “never wants to do it anymore” or “I can jump through all the hoops and I’m still rejected” or the ever popular “no matter what I do, it’s never enough.” There can be many reasons for no boom boom in the bedroom; negative body image, decreased libido, poor communication, performance anxiety, resentment and/or flat our fatigue.  These reasons, real or perceived, need to be examined. Since, you have the power to always choose your reaction to any situation, stop pointing the finger at your partner.  There are many things that YOU can do to help reignite some horizontal passion. First of all, if you sense body trouble, go to the doctor.  Get yourselves checked out.  If you can rule out the body as a libido/sex zapper, then you can focus all your energy on the things you can change.

1. Talk to each other.  This is #1.   Make time to reconnect.  Our lives are busier than ever with our over scheduled kids and our own commitments.   How can you ever be intimate if you are ships passing in the night?  Set aside time to talk as partners, not parents.  Be vulnerable.   How much sex do you both need?  Try to have an honest talk about your needs and her needs.  Is it once a week?  Twice?  5?  More?  Take it easy Ron Jeremy. 2.  Date Nights.  Hire the darn babysitter and invest in your relationship.  Stop saying you can’t afford it, divorce is way more expensive.  Hint – while on date night, don’t talk about the kids – pretend you don’t have kids.  Talk about what you liked about your last bedroom romp and future romps.  Reclaim the passion of just you two crazy lovers! 3.  Plan for sex.  Some couples PLAN and schedule sex; written (in code) on the family calendar right below soccer practice and ballet.  Perhaps it’s a scarf on the lamp that indicates a desire for passion tonight.  Does that zap the spontaneity of sex?  Maybe, or does it build anticipation?  Couples I talked to LOVE it, spending the day sending loving and sexy messages to each other…  (I have a married friend that has sexting related carpal tunnel syndrome and he has never been happier) 4.   Lose the sense of entitlement.  Just cause you are together doesn’t mean you “OWE” each other sex.  Yes, one of you might be working long hours out of the house, but the other is likely working long unpaid hours in the house.  Respect the value in each others roles.   Wanna never have sex again?  Try this gem, “the house is still dirty, you were home all day, what happened?  (I’ll tell you what will happen – justified homicide…) 5.  Stop the 10 o’clock shoulder tap.  You know what I mean?  You are both exhausted!  A stay at home mom may have had a crying whiney

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toddler hanging off her all day, she doesn’t need one more clingy big baby.  But do go to bed early and TOGETHER – lack of sleep is a huge mood killer…  Oh, remember, men and women are different for how quickly we can be ‘in the mood’ for sex.  Unlike us, women cannot, I repeat, cannot go from washing sippy cups and folding kids laundry to sex a minute later – so stop expecting that.  It’s annoying and not sexy. 6.  Turn up the “CHORE” PLAY!  Before you start your foreplay ‘moves’ (or “move’ J) do things around the house to help.  Feelings of appreciation will fly when dishwashers are unloaded and laundry is folded.  Don’t expect a parade and knighthood when you do it once though dudes, she likely does it 15 times a week with no fireworks or skywriting.  Just help out.  Clean the kitchen, walk the dog, make school lunches, vacuum, whatever.  It’s not about jumping through hoops, it’s about dividing and conquering.  A clean house equals a clearer mind (a mind more open to connection and intimacy).  A little more help around the house means a little less stress for her and a little more sex for you. 7.  Speak her love language not yours.   If you don’t know her language, then you are lost.  Learn it now (email me for the test).  If her language is words of affirmation, then leave sweet notes in the steam on the mirror.  If her language is touch, then touch (duh) – hug, rub shoulders, sit beside her, be close.  But if her language is quality time, your endless thoughtful gifts will continue to be strikeouts not homeruns, know what I mean? 8.  Stay PLAYFUL and FUN.  Sex is fun and should remain fun.  Not a power play or done out of obligation.  Send fun texts, emails, throughout the day.  Send flowers for no reason.  She needs to know that she is the centre of your world. 9.  Kiss.  Seriously.  Kiss dammit.  No more pecks on the cheek when parting.  Increase your kiss duration by 2 seconds and email me the results when the sparks start flying (don’t’ send video).   Passionate kisses can work wonders to reconnection.

10. Massage your partner with no expectations.  Okay, this is a tough one.  While easy on paper, in reality, once we get going, most guys will pray for some sort of happy ending so proceed with caution and clear intent.  Start with her feet and remember soldier, your job here is to help ease tension and relax her (not you). 11.  Spend time together as a family.  Nothing turns a woman on more than an involved loving dad.  Be present and try to be a part of all aspects of your kid’s lives.  Dads that work long hours, albeit for the benefit of the family, may be missing the bigger picture.   What are you really working for? 12.  Sharpen the saw.  This may be hard for you to hear and for that I am sorry but maybe your sex life is in the toilet because you are not very good at it?  Learn how to be a better sexual partner.  She might be just warming up and you are already asleep.  If you are constantly striving to please your partner FIRST, you can’t lose!   Face it, you can be better.  There are many resources at your fingertips – books, adult stores, “educational” movies, PDFs etc.  Be the change you want to see! So there you go!! A can’t miss list for loving.  You’re welcome! THE TAKEAWAY  Stop pointing fingers, keeping score, or playing the blame game.   It’s YOU that can change.  If you want loving, be loving.  If you want intimacy, be intimate.  You can be better.  Look in the mirror and figure out what YOU can do to increase connection and intimacy.  Once you reconnect, sex will result. What tips am I missing?  Please share what has worked for you in your relationship or more importantly your FRIENDSHIP! Until next time my sexy friends… Jeff Hay and on FB I am a genuine, authentic person whose life work is to ensure all children have committed, involved, nurturing, and excited fathers. Fall 2015 l


The Sleep Guide by Dawn Whittaker Parenting over the last few years has become more and more confusing; this has lead to an increase in new Mums being overwhelmed with the juggling act that suffices when the family grows. With so many different ‘styles’ and ‘labels’ out there, we are lead to believe that we MUST conform to one or another to be accepted by others and be the best parent we can be.

In reality babies have not changed, however society has along with the expectations of how a new Mum should act, look, cope, and parent her child/children.

However, there are a few universal facts that stand true and have withstood the test of time and all the ‘new’ parenting labels that are slapped about like a pair of seals flippers. Here are my top three: Routine: In the beginning lots of parents can be scared by the words ‘routine’ & ‘schedule’, however – it can never be too early to start to get some sort of FLOW going to your day it does not need to be timed military style, but as children develop having a predictable flow to their day can make them feel safe and secure, they know what to expect and when it will come, leaving out unexpected surprises that can send babies or toddlers into fully fledge meltdowns.

At the end of the day, its not for anyone else to tell you what to do, how to parent or what is wrong or right for any given family, its no body else’s business, its easy for us to judge one another on the surface, but you never know what is going on behind closed doors, and there is only one person waking in your shoes and that is you.

Sleep: You need to sleep daily to support yourself in an emotional, physical and mental way, making sure that the whole family is rested can be imperative to the family unit and the dynamics within it, again, some families may be happy with their children in bed with them – that is great, and some families may be happy with their child being in their own crib – that’s great too! It not where the family sleeps, but the quality of the sleep that the family is getting - it needs to be enough 12 l Fall 2015

to fuel you to think clearly and be the best that you can be through the day, the same goes for your child, when they are well rested and getting the right amount of quality sleep, they will deal with their own environment in a much better way.

Here is a little chart to help you figure out sleep requirements and the average awake windows for children so that you can create your own routine that works for you – ideally you want to be in a position where your child is not being woken up by you to go to school but can rouse naturally in good time for school.

Nutrition: Good Nutrition is up there too, without good fuel in our engines we can quickly burn out. It can be hard in some cases to get children to eat good balanced meals, but don’t worry about it on a dayto-day basis or meal-to-meal basis, look at the nutrition over a weekly basis. Having your children around other children is a good thing, infact they are more likely going to eat better and try more foods, with less fuss, when around someone else. Not only is good food imperative, so is making sure that are hydrated with water. Lots of children will have just made the transition into either Pre School or kindergarten, a whole new world for your little one. To help children cope better with these transitions, try to ensure that they get the right amount of quality sleep,

combined with good nutrition and this will not only help them day to day with their new environments, it will also help them learn, develop and fight any nasty little bugs that will be spread around in surplus amounts in the up coming months.

Dawn Whittaker is the Founder and Senior Consultant at Cheekychops - Sleep and Parenting Consultants, has been working with parents and children for over 20 years, she personally supports several hundred families a year offering advice and strategies on various challenges including but not limited too, sleep, potty, eating habits and behavior. You can contact her through the website www.

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Halloween Fun Spider Ice Cubes: Make some creepy cubes for your kids’ drinks for a trick that’s a real treat! Grab a dollar bag of spider rings from the dollar store and cut the ring part off. Then put them in ice cube trays with red colored water or flavored juice. The kiddos will squeal when they sit down to dinner and see colorful spiders floating in their cups!

Halloween Pudding Cups: Easiest snack ever! Have your kids draw monster faces on clear cups with a Sharpie (wear protective clothing, Sharpies are permanent!) while you make a batch of vanilla pudding. Use food coloring to tint the pudding green, and then have the kids help you crush up Oreos or chocolate graham crackers to sprinkle on top. Fast, tasty and yummy fun!

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back to

SCHO OL Start Them On The Greatest Adventure Of Their Lives Your child’s start to early learning with a strong focus on education today may become the foundation your child needs for school tomorrow. With a research-developed and age appropriate curriculum, an abundance of activities encouraging a healthy body and active mind and real-time mobile access to be a part of your child’s day, BrightPath can help prepare your child for this adventure. Isn’t something this important worth a visit?



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Good Grief: Is there such a thing? by Susan Kast One of my favourite words is “Salutogenesis”, translated from Latin it means “the origins of health”. It is the idea that we are more healthy and resilient to stress when we nurture what makes us well. As much as we wish to protect our children from the pains and sorrows of life, there are times when grief and loss will touch their lives. As parents and caring adults we want to equip children with the skills to handle the stressors, the sorrows, and challenges they will face in their lives. To learn to grieve well is an important life skill- a life skill that begins in childhood. None of us can live a full life without experiencing grief in some form. To love is to make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of grief. Children may experience grief through the death of a loved one, but they may also experience grief through the loss of cherished relationships and separation. This may come in the form of divorce or separation, the death of a pet, a friend moves away, a parent’s illness to name a few. As parents and caring adults how do we promote a child’s resiliency and their ability to grieve well? Speaking with children about death, grief, and loss can come about through spontaneous teachable moments when we look for the opportunity. There is no age that is too young to open this discussion….

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• Discussion about the changing seasons can open conversation that nature is a cycle of birth, new growth, creation, and deaththat death is part of life. • The death of a family pet may be time to acknowledge the many feelings associated with loss, and for children to find creative expression for their sense of loss, whether it is a letter to their pet, or a “funeral service” of their own design. • When I reread the classic children’s story Charlottes’ Web as an adult I was surprised to realize the story is all about the lessons of life, loss, death, and change! Children’s stories often include themes of death and loss and can be a starting point of conversation and wondering. For example, in Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur’s grief is made more bearable when he honours Charlotte’s memory by caring for her egg sack. If you were another animal in the barn, is there anything that you would say or do to help Wilbur after Charlotte’s death? • Discussions about health promote important messages for healthy living, such as the importance of a healthy diet, a good night’s sleep, and plenty of exercise. We can encourage good emotional health by promoting awareness that feelings are part of being human, we all feel many feelings, and feelings are okay. We support children by providing opportunity to express themselves in different ways- through art, writing, play, physical activity, quiet contemplation etc. An important message is that all feelings are ok, but we are always responsible for our behavior. Talking about grief and loss can be made more difficult by our strong instinct and desire to protect children from pain. There are some pains and

sorrows that we cannot protect children from. Instead, as adults our role is to support children by teaching them the language and skills needed to help them cope with the emotions of loss, and offer compassion as they work through their grief. In doing so we nurture their resiliency and their emotional health. A few of my favourite children’s books related to grief and loss are: The Invisible String,

by Patricia Karst

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf,

by Leo Buscaglia

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney,


Tear Soup,

by Judith

are looking for more information on how to support grieving children. You can also stop by to check out our lending library.

by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen

For more information or to find out more about our programs please contact me at the Bereavement Resource Centre in Penticton. We offer grief counselling for children, youth, and adults, either individually or groups. I’m also available to parents, teachers, and community agencies who

Susan Kast, MSW, RSW Child and Youth Grief Counsellor 250-490-1107 Bereavement Resource Centre a program of the Penticton and District Hospice Society 129 Nanaimo Ave. W, Penticton, BC

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How To Support a Loved One When Their Baby is in the NICU by Sue LeBreton When you begin your pregnancy you expect to deliver a healthy, full-term baby. If life doesn’t go as planned and baby arrives early it is an extremely stressful event because these babies can be fragile. Preterm babies need specialized care and are admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a scary and intimidating place for new parents. These babies spend weeks or months in the NICU and can face lifelong problems such as: intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, breathing problems, vision or hearing loss and feeding and digestive problems. This is not a situation that prenatal classes prepare you to handle and in many cases the baby arrives even before prenatal classes. Unfortunately, premature birth remains a major health issue. It is the number one killer of newborns. Every year 15 million babies arrive prematurely. That means one in 10 babies in Canada and one in nine babies in the United States arrive too early. Memoirist Kate Hopper’s daughter Stella was born weighing three pounds six ounces at 32 weeks gestation. In her book Ready for Air, A Journey through Premature Motherhood, Hopper shares the emotional challenge of caring for her baby in the NICU and the isolation she experienced after bringing her baby home with an immature immune system. She also writes about how critical support from family and friends was during this time. Here are some tips to help you help a loved one whose baby is in the NICU. Help them stay connected. Encourage them to set up a CaringBridge site where they can share their needs and updates with loved ones. In hindsight Hopper wishes she had done this and highly recommends it to 18 l Fall 2015

families with babies in the NICU. In addition to reducing the burden of multiple updates to friends and family about the baby’s progress, these sites allow others to send encouraging messages and offers of support. Be specific in your offer to help. A vague offer of, “ let me know what you need,” is not ideal. The parents may be too stressed and exhausted to identify what they need. Instead, offer something definite such as, “ I am bringing dinner on Tuesday night.” “If you really want to help, you have to be a little pushy,” says Janine Kovac whose twin boys, Michael and Wagner were born at 25 weeks and weighed one pound twelve ounces and one pound nine ounces respectively. Coordinate a meal calendar. Organize friends and family to rotate meal preparation for the family. Remember parents are usually back and forth between home and the NICU so consider foods that can be grab and go or food that can be stored for later use. Make the food nutritionally dense so that mom and dad stay well fueled during this hectic time.

Keep the home fires burning. With parents dashing between home and hospital the upkeep of the house may have to be neglected. Could you clean their house, mow the lawn, walk the dog, pick up groceries or ferry other children to activities? Continue your support once the baby goes home. Premature babies go home with immature immune systems and possible medical issues. Just because they are home doesn’t mean things are normal. “Sometimes a family has a lot of resources in the beginning-there’s a social worker at the hospital, there’s a staff to answer questions-but it drops off suddenly when the family goes home,” says Kovac. Give the gift of life. Many preemies require blood transfusions so consider donating blood. Be aware that some areas do not accept blood donations directed to a specific individual. Even if the baby you know doesn’t receive your blood, another tiny infant will benefit from your donation and the parents will know that you grasp the seriousness of their situation. Keep your germ to yourself. Whether visiting while the baby is in the NICU, or after the baby with a still delicate immune system has gone home, wash your hands as carefully as if you were going to perform surgery and be sure the parents see you doing so.  Do this even if you are not going to pick up the baby. Hands are a huge source of potentially dangerous germs. If you feel even slightly unwell stay away and send along only good wishes.

send me this message. Something in my chest expands, loosens. I write memoir, read memoir and I know I feel less alone when I see a piece of myself reflected in someone else’s story.” Karen Kerr Daines recalls a simple, five-minute call from a former colleague to share her NICU story, “it turned out to be the best phone call I’ve ever had in my life.” Listen more than you talk. The future for the baby may be uncertain. Listen to the parents without dismissing their fears. Daines’s now 12-year-old, healthy son, Caledon, was born at 29 weeks and spent six weeks in the NICU. “When I went into labor I was told that Caledon would be blind or deaf, maybe both.” Remember that every little bit of comfort will help the family cope. Give in whatever manner that you can without expecting anything in return. Even small acts of kindness will seem large to the family whose baby is in the NICU. Sue LeBreton is a health and wellness journalist and mom of two. Images from her visit to the NICU many years ago for work have never left her.

Resources: Canadian Premature Babies Foundation March of Dimes Books - Ready for Air: by Kate Hopper

Know the power of shared story. If you have not had a baby who spent time in the NICU maybe you know someone who has, someone who could call or email your friend to help them feel less alone. In her book, Hopper describes how helpful an email was, “Leni and I have met... but I hardly know her. Yet she took the time to

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Food & Tooth Decay:

A Child’s Diet Can Create a Perfect Storm for Tooth Decay by Dr. Terry Farquhar & Dr. Alan Milnes Why do children suffer from tooth decay? In a word - FOOD! When parents are asked what they think is the reason their children have decay, most respond “poor brushing” or “not flossing”. While everyone knows these are important in maintaining good oral health, few know that it is the child’s diet which can create the PERFECT STORM of tooth decay.

Why is diet the single most important risk factor in tooth decay? Here’s an example that illustrates this concept. Everyone agrees that an orange is a healthy food choice. An orange contains many healthy compounds as well as sugar and acid, two critical ingredients in the tooth decay equation. Eat an orange once per day and you will enjoy the benefits without any downside. Eat oranges constantly throughout the day, however, and the sugar and acids in the oranges will create an environment which encourages the decay causing bacteria, or sugar bugs, to grow faster than the “good bacteria”. The acid in the oranges will also erode your teeth, making things worse. Once the sugar bugs “take over the neighbourhood”, they begin to cause decay by creating acids using the sugars in the orange, as well as the other carbohydrates we eat. The concept to remember is frequency of eating. The more often we eat foods which contain sugar or acid (and it’s really 20 l Fall 2015

bad if they contain sugar AND acid), the more likely we will experience tooth decay. The second concept is food consistency or “stickiness”. Peanut butter you grind yourself is sticky but does not contain sugar. No harm is done to our teeth. On the other hand, dried fruit is sticky and it contains lots of sugar. Crackers and cookies are not sticky by themselves, but mix them with saliva and you have a sticky, starchy glue. This “glue” gets pushed between teeth and into the grooves of teeth where cavities occur, and where toothbrushes will never reach. Letting the starch or sugar stick to the teeth for long periods of time provides a prolonged feast for the decay-causing bacteria, dramatically increasing the risk of tooth decay. This introduces a third concept in the link between diet and tooth decay - oral clearance. Food which is cleared from the mouth quickly by swallowing does little harm to our teeth. How do you put these concepts to work? Decrease the frequency of between meal snacks, don’t allow “grazing”. Choose foods which will not stick to teeth. Vegetables in their “natural” containers, nuts and hard cheeses are great choices. Choose foods which are rapidly removed from the mouth by swallowing. For between-meal drinks, avoid juices, fruit cocktails and soft drinks of any kind. Water will quench thirst far better and without doing any damage to teeth. Read labels. Sugar is often listed in several ways on labels - glucose, dextrose, sucrose, inverted sugar. The closer to the beginning of the list of contents the more sugar is contained within that product. Lastly, when choosing snacks for children, choose foods which are not processed or packaged. Follow these ideas and your child will probably eat better at meal times because they will be hungrier. Making smart choices in foods for your children will keep them healthy. It will also reduce both the risk of tooth decay and the cost of your dental visits.

Resource Directory This Issue Brightpath Early Learning & Child Care 250.860.9788 Kelowna 250.452.6866 Westbank

Breastfeeding Clinics / Support Okanagan Breastfeeding Coalition 330 Ellis St., Penticton, BC

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Childcare Resource & Referral Kelowna Child Care Resource & Referral
 #4 - 1890 Ambrosi Rd.
Kelowna, BC 250.762.3536

hautemama 1.866.615.3800 Maternity, nursing and beyond

Penticton Child Care Resource & Referral
 330 Ellis St.,
Penticton, BC 250.492.2926

Kelowna & District Safety Council 250.765.3163 FB 888.580.7233

Penticton Bereavement Centre www. 250.490.1107

St John Amulance 1.866.321.2651

Front Cover Photographer

Carly Blake Photography 250.469.2070 Last Issue Photographer

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Vernon Child Care Resource & Referral
 3300- 37th Avenue,
Vernon, BC 250.542.3121 Midwives and doulas Doula Services Association, BC 604.515.5588 Midwives Asscoation of BC 604.736.5976 Alternative Schooling

Cedar Bridge 250.547.9212 Kelowna Waldorf School 250.764.4130 Mind Over Learning 250.860.0084 Summerland Montessori School 250.494.7266

Public Health Services/Nurses Kelowna Health Unit 1340 Ellis Street 250.868.7700 Penticton Health Unit 740 Carmi Avenue 250.770.3434 Rutland Health Unit 155 Gray Road 250.980.4825 Summerland Health Unit 12815 Atkinson Road 250.404.8050 West Kelowna Health Unit 160 – 2300 Carrington Road 250.980.5150 Vernon Health Unit 1440 – 14th Avenue 250.549.5700 Salmon Arm Health Unit 851-16th Street NE Salmon Arm BC 250.833.4100 Osoyoos Health Centre 4816 89th Street Osoyoos, BC 250.495.6433 Oliver Health Centre 7139 - 362nd Ave Newlands Rd Oliver, BC 250.498.5080 Pleasant Valley Health Centre 3800 Patten Drive Armstrong BC 250.546.4700 Photography & Portraits

Bobbi Sloan Photography 250.689.2472 Everyday Little Moments Fall 2015 l


Letter Sounds - the Key to Reading Success by Brenda Larson “I know my letter sounds!” We want all our children to be able to say this by the end of Kindergarten, yet so many of our students struggle to learn these all important foundation skills for reading and spelling. Statistics indicate that over 30% of children starting school are at-risk for development and learning problems. 1 This article will examine one factor at the core of these struggles – our age-old tradition of initially introducing children to letter names. At a very early age, children begin singing the ‘ABC Song’, with many of them learning the famous letter ‘lmnop’. Parents the world over teach children to identify letters by name. However, in doing so, we are setting many children up for confusion and failure.

LETTER NAMES identifying letters ABC’s/songs alphabetical order long Vowels Bingo spelling

LETTER SOUNDS reading spelling

It is readily apparent from this chart that letter sounds have a much larger impact on successful literacy skills than letter names. Although spelling is listed for both names and sounds, it must be pointed out that only mature spellers use letter names for spelling. A typical grade 1 student, when asked to spell the words ‘what’ or ‘from’ would listen to the sounds heard and print ‘wut’ or ‘frum’. The whole concept of inventive spelling, which we encourage in young children, is based on letter sounds. Letter names have no purpose in beginning reading and spelling, and in fact, are most probably the root of initial failure for many. Some experts do recommend teaching the letter names first because they say the names help with the sounds. An examination of the letter names proves this statement false. Of the 26 letters, only 8 letter names help children with the sound: b, d, j, k, p, t. v and z

We first need to look at the importance of letter names and letter sounds in our goal of developing literacy. The chart below gives some of the common uses for each.

When children say these names, the first thing their mouth does is make the formation for the sound as well (the name b suggests the sound /b/). Children apply that rule to all the letter names. Unfortunately, the remaining 18 letter names do not follow that rule. For the letters: c, g, h, q, r, u, w and y


BC Ministry of Education EduFact April 2009 LETTER NAMES LETTER SOUNDS identifying letters reading ABC’s/song spelling alphabetical order long vowels Bingo spelling

22 l Fall 2015

the letter name actually suggests a sound for a different letter (the name c suggests the sound /s/). The names for the remaining vowels: a, e, i and o, have no connection to the short vowel sounds we introduce first. The letters: f. l, m, n, s, and x do have the sound in the name, but it is at the end and many children identify these letters as the short /e/ sound (as in met) as the mouth makes the /e/ sound initially when saying the name. At-risk children tend to present with memory problems, especially short-term memory, but also long-term as well. Given this fact, it is imperative that we put the most important information into that memory and minimize information that has the potential to confuse. If we want a child to decode the word ‘can’ he/she needs the letter sounds, not names, to do this. The Principle of Primacy, a basic premise of learning, tells us that we tend to remember best what we learn first - it stands to reason, then, that we need to introduce letter sounds to children first. refer to letters by their sound rather than their name and expect children to do the same. When over two-thirds of the letter

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names have the potential to confuse children trying to makes sense of the beginning reading process, should we not be removing this obstacle from their path to reading success? In this way, when children come to decode words, the information they pull out of their memory will be the information they need to become successful readers. Brenda Larson (B.Ed. University of BC, Vancouver, 1971, M.Ed. Gonzaga U. Spokane WA, 1979) retired in June 2006 after 34 years as a Learning Assistance Teacher in the BC public school system. She found her students had much greater success with reading when she ‘talked sounds’ with them. She developed a program, Itchy’s Alphabet, which teaches letter sounds and lower case letters, the key skills children need to become successful readers.

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