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In the Best Interest and Care of the Children By Lori M. Myers
“We have more than 30 different specialists here that can address the needs of any child with health Penn State Hershey Medical Center has been concerns or who need childcare,” Ostrov says. “We providing outstanding care to children and their also have pediatric consultants in any other area families for more than 40 years and serves as the only needed, such as radiology, pathology, and physical children’s hospital and pediatric trauma center between therapy, to improve the lives and outcome of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It is healing the sick, children who come through our doors.” alleviating suffering, and changing lives, providing the Along with providing jobs to many people and best medical expertise from dedicated doctors and staff increasing the number of employees in Central PA and the latest advances in technology and procedures. who work at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Now, that quality the new Penn and care is about to State Hershey get even better. A Children’s new freestanding Hospital facility will soon allows the be completed that expansion of will house the the center’s expertise and clinical state-of-the-art program by care that has been having a the hallmark of new firstthe center for all floor clinic those decades. It and infusion will be on par center for with any children’s children hospital in the with cancer country. as well as “We wanted to other bring up-to-date illnesses. technology and Two new advances to the procedure care we provide to rooms for Dr. Barbara E. Ostrov, pediatrician and vice chair the children of children— of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics. Central PA,” says such as those Dr. Barbara E. with stomach Ostrov, issues who pediatrician in chief and vice chair of pediatrics in the need colonoscopies—will be in a pediatric center Department of Pediatrics at the hospital. “This new for the first time. The new facility will also have facility will allow us to do this.” five pediatric operating rooms and a special heart The Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital at Penn procedure room that can be turned into an State Hershey Medical Center has always provided the operating room that improves the safety of these entire spectrum of services needed to give children the complex procedures for children with heart disease. best of care—from the very premature to those with “These ORs and the family waiting room will be heart problems, skin conditions, kidney transplants, or Continued on page 5 those having other surgical needs.
In the Best Interest and Care of the Children Providing the best medical expertise.
Welcome to family, a special insert to BUSINESSWoman
Family Resource and Safety Centers Centers for the overall wellbeing of the family.
Techno-Tykes Is using a computer good for your preschooler?
magazine. We are pleased to provide information and resources
that will support you in your adventure through parenthood. Education starts very young and begins with the parents. But through the Keystone STARS program, standards have been set for early learning centers. Find out what they are and what you should look for in a quality daycare. Moms and dads are always concerned about the well-being of their children, both physically and emotionally. We are grateful to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, our sponsoring partner, for working with us on this venture. Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital offers hope and healing for those within our community and beyond. Find out more about what you can expect to see and experience when the new Children’s Hospital opens in the near future. Read about some of the enhanced services they will provide. Other information is also offered for parents of infants through teens to assist them in a variety of aspects of family life.
Christianne Rupp Managing Editor
Centered on the Protection of Children Coordinating and expanding initiatives to protect children.
12 14 16 18 20 22
Perinatal Services Support for the mother, baby, and family unit.
Youth Volunteerism Defying the ‘Gen-Y’ stereotype.
Selecting a Daycare What’s right for your child?
Lunches Kids Will Love They’ll ask for them again and again.
Improve Your Family’s IQ Ways to make education come naturally.
Readers’ Corner Sharing moments through books.
A supplement to BUSINESSWoman magazine 3912 Abel Drive • Columbia, PA 17512
717.285.1350 • onlinepub.com
Best Interest Continued from page 3 children focused for the first The first floor also includes the time in our history,” Ostrov Family Resource Center, where says. families can learn about childhood The new 252,000-squareillnesses and health and wellness, foot facility is located at the and the Safety Store, where car east side of the center’s campus seats, helmets, and other adjacent to the main entrance important injury-prevention and and in front of the University safety items can be assessed. Physician’s Center. It The Children’s Hospital’s completes what has been second floor will have operating termed the “arc,” which is rooms and procedure rooms, and comprised of the Cancer the third floor will have medical, Institute in front and leads surgical, and oncology patients. to the main lobby and then The fourth floor will house the the Children’s Hospital. intensive care areas. All of the Multicolored posts and a inpatient rooms, which are located waterfall, which flows down on the third and fourth floors, will the east wall of the building be private rooms and include space and will be lit at where two parents can night, have been comfortably spend the night The new Children’s Hospital building features a 40-footincorporated in the high by 27-foot-wide playful sculpture titled The Promise with their child. The design to enhance the by Rochester, NY-based artist Albert Paley. The sculpture is doctors who care for these visual beauty of the more than 35,000 pounds of weathered steel with brightly sickest patients will have facility. offices nearby on the fifth colored natural elements, including clouds, the sun and “The new building floor. The building is stars, a waterfall, and various animals—all designed to is designed for not only delight and surprise hospital visitors who interact designed to accommodate children and their three more floors if needed with the sculpture, but to also aid in the spiritual and families,” Ostrov says. emotional journey taken by ill children and their families. in the future. “The color scheme was The hospital belongs to designed with our the children and families of Family Advisory Central PA, Ostrov says. Council and is nature She’s proud of the quality focused.” and range of family and The new facility’s child-focused services that ground floor will will be provided for those include a new pediatric coming to the new radiology unit along facility to receive the best with a state-of-the-art of care. blood bank and “As vice chair, I am pharmacy, which will most proud of our faculty serve both children and and staff,” she says. adults. An interactive “They put their hearts learning wall is on the into everything they do first floor and there are for kids and families. The several outdoor spaces new building will enable for patients and families them to continue this as well as a meditation effort in a wonderful, The new Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. space near the first-floor new, up-to-date, childcafé. centric facility.”
Family Resource and Safety Centers By Lori M. Myers
The needs of and caring for families also extends to patients’ siblings, who must deal with their own Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital reaches out to challenges. With that in mind, the Family Resource entire families, from admission to discharge. In order to Center includes a sibling play area with planned activities enhance its services, the facility has created a warm, for siblings of patients. There are also private rooms for inviting place inside with its new Penn State Hershey family meetings if needed. Family Resource The Family Center. Families, Resource Center patients, and is partnering with visitors can take the Lois High a break from the Berstler patient’s bedside Community and obtain Health Library, information located on the about services, East Campus of programs, and Penn State resources Hershey Medical available within Center, for the Children’s specific medical Hospital and the information. community. Included “Computers along with the are available for Family Resource families and Center will be visitors to stay in the Penn State touch with their Hershey Safety loved ones, as Center, both well as stay located near the connected to main entrance of their workplace the new Penn if necessary,” says State Hershey Debbi Fuhrer, Children’s family-centered Hospital. This Susan Rzucidlo, MSN, RN, pediatric trauma and injury prevention care coordinator. location provides program manager, and Debbi Fuhrer, family-centered care coordinator. Resources at high visibility to the Family everyone who Resource Center enters and exits. are divided into three main categories: hospitality (where Injuries are the leading cause of death and disability to to eat, where to stay, local attractions, etc.); hospital Pennsylvanians ages 1 to 44 years. And injury prevention services (description of each support service and how to efforts at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital have get in contact with them); and clinical information (top been expanding since 1995. Its success has resulted in a five diagnoses for each pediatric service and reputable decrease of admissions of injured children to the intensive websites recommended by physicians). care unit and rehabilitation.
Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital Safety Center nearing completion.
Nevertheless, injuries are still occurring and there are increasing demands for injury prevention information. Leading causes of injuries for children admitted to the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital are motor vehiclerelated trauma and falls. Other injury causes include pedestrian, bicycle, sports and recreational, burns, farm injuries, and intentional injuries such as child abuse, stabbing, and gunshot wounds. “It became apparent that a highly visible and physically permanent location is needed to continue to meet the needs of our growing population,” says Susan Rzucidlo, pediatric trauma and injury prevention program manager. “The Penn State Hershey Safety Center will provide an opportunity for an expansion of the program and further reduce the number and severity of injuries that will be suffered by the children of Central Pennsylvania.” The Safety Center will provide prevention information and access to safety devices known to reduce the risk of injuries for every child and family. Personalized, ageappropriate education about preventing injuries will be
given by an injury prevention health educator with “hands-on” opportunities for how to use smoke detectors, car seats, and safety gates. Selected safety devices that target major risk areas will be available for employees, patients, families, and the public. Additionally, educational programs for outreach activities for healthcare providers, schools, and others interested in keeping children healthy and safe will be offered. The Safety Center will also serve as a resource for local practitioners on injury-prevention strategies and resources for preventing injuries to children. These new resources for children and families were made possible through partnerships with staff at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and local businesses. Also, generous donations to the Children’s Hospital’s building fund were made by the PNC Foundation and the Hershey Company. “We must be an advocate to prevent the injuries to children,” says Rzucidlo, “but also improve the safety for parents and other family members.”
Techno-Tykes: Is Using a Computer Good for Your Preschooler? By Kelly James-Enger Our family members are amazed when they see my 2-year-old son at the computer. He can already sign on, play games at Sesame Street online (www.sesamestreet.org), and insert and play educational CDs. It’s surprising to watch how absorbed he becomes, and how skilled he’s become at using the mouse, but I have to wonder—is computer time a good idea for a child his age? Today the home computer has become as ubiquitous as the toaster, and kids are exposed to PCs from the time they’re young. But you may be wondering how much computer time is appropriate for young kids, or whether you should keep them off of it altogether. At the same time, you don’t want your child to be behind the learning curve when he enters preschool or kindergarten. “A computer is like any other appliance,” says technology and parenting expert Sharon Cindrich, author of E-Parenting: Keeping Up with Your TechSavvy Kids. “It’s like TV. Kids are going to come across it in the course of their day.” That’s why it’s better for parents to introduce their kids to the computer instead of waiting for them to learn about it in preschool or kindergarten. “When you allow your child to interact with it at an early age, you have the opportunity to teach them safe habits and good behavior, and lay that foundation early on,” says Cindrich. “The other thing is there are a lot of educational advantages. We used to buy toys that blinked and had colored lights and talked to us, and even though we don’t consider the computer a toy, it does all of the things that we used to look for in educational play toys.” Using a computer can help toddlers improve their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills and to learn cause and effect. In addition, playing games can help them learn skills like letter identification, counting, color and shape identification, and matching and sorting. “We have a lot of educational games for different age ranges,” says Wendy Lambert, the mother of two
Great Sites for Toddlers
) – Hands-on fun Crayola (www.crayola.com r child’s imagination featuring crayons and you s.com) – Activities that Lil’ Fingers (www.lilfinger g, and interactive learning encourage reading, drawin .us) – Games and Nick Jr. (www.nickjr.kids Blue, Dora, Little Bill, printable material featuring Jr. characters and all your favorite Nick org) – Arthur, Clifford, the PBS Kids (www.pbskids. and all your favorite PBS gang from Sesame Street, ies games, stories, and activit programs are featured in
says Meszaros. “Then you can also engage them in conversation about what they’re doing. That’s a higher level of learning than just ‘point and click.’” Setting time limits, like Lambert does, prevents young kids from spending too much time moving their mouse around. “Fifteen minutes is long enough for a young child to be at the computer,” says Cindrich. “Establish a time boundary early on, whether with a timer or a watch.” Start out with your child on your lap, and teach your toddler the following computer rules:
World Peep and the Big Wide world.com) – Interactive (www.peepandthebigwide oolers science activities for presch ll.com) – A great site for Starfall.com (www.starfa kids just learning to read
• Wash your hands before using it. • Keep food and drinks away from the computer. • Sit facing straight ahead, with proper posture. • Only use the computer with a grown-up.
boys, Zachary, 6, and Maxwell, 4, who started playing a simple software game when they were about 2. “There are games like Clifford, Bob the Builder, and Blue’s Clues, and they have adjustable skill levels, which is nice.” They also play games on Nick Jr. online (www.nickjr.com). (See the sidebar for toddler-friendly websites.) “I think it’s definitely helped their matching and sorting skills, and it’s improved their eye-hand coordination,” she says. “I do think using the computer has been worthwhile.” The boys each have a daily time limit of 25 minutes, and they can only use the computer when Lambert or her husband is in the room. Yet the most advanced software is no match for simply spending time with, playing with, and reading to your toddler or preschooler. “I think many parents believe that they must rush, even before the baby is born, to get all the technological apparatuses ready,” says Peggy S. Meszaros, Ph.D., the William E. Lavery professor of human development and director of the Center for Information Technology Impacts on Children, Youth, and Families at Virginia Tech. “They fail to realize that they are the most powerful teachers their children have.” Computer time should be balanced with “outdoor activities and face-to-face activities that will help their children’s development intellectually, emotionally, and physically,” says Meszaros. And remember that a PC isn’t a babysitter for kids this young. “The parent should be sitting with the preschooler,”
Make sure that the room is well lit to reduce eye strain, and keep children at an appropriate distance from the computer screen. Teach your child to treat the computer responsibly, such as letting her clean the screen, turn it off when she’s done with it, and store and take care of her software discs. Like educational videos, computer games can’t replace reading or interaction, but your toddler may benefit from playing with your PC—with your help. Not only will she learn about numbers and letters, but she’ll help develop healthy computer habits as well.
Lock It Up! Now your computer and small items can stay safe when you have to step away for a few minutes. The Master Lock computer lock is made of durable metal construction for laptops or other devices with a built-in lock slot. For small items, try the portable safe. It protects MP3 players, cell phones, cash, credit cards, jewelry, keys, passports, or other small valuables and is made of durable, water-resistant construction. Simply wrap either of these appliances around a stationary device. masterlock.com
Centered on the Protection of Children
By Lori M. Myers Children are one of the most vulnerable members of society. Our region has become more acutely aware of this fact as we read the headlines and turn on the news to learn about how some of our most responsible adult leaders and caregivers are being accused of abusing children and destroying the lives of the very young and innocent. In the wake of recent child abuse tragedies, Penn State Hershey Medical Center has instituted The Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children in order to coordinate and expand clinical, research, and educational initiatives to protect children from abuse and help heal those who have been injured. But the new center’s facility, with an expected completion in the early part of 2013, isn’t the medical center’s first time at taking action. Since 2008, the medical center had instituted educational programs for all of its new employees to make them aware of their responsibility in identifying and reporting suspected child abuse. The statistics are startling. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 6 million children are reported for suspected child maltreatment each year in the United States. An average of five children— most of them under the age of 4—die every day from abuse or neglect. One out of every five children in
Dr. Benjamin H. Levi, director of the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children.
the country will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Many victims stay silent about their abuse, resulting in scars that could last a lifetime as well as injuries that could be passed on to the next generation. “Child abuse has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control as a major public health concern,” says Dr. Benjamin H. Levi, director of the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children. “Yet Pennsylvania has one of the lowest rates in the nation for reporting and identifying child abuse.” Fortunately, in light of recent reports, the laws against child abuse are changing in our state. Levi says there is emerging legislation that will update “in a good way” what qualifies as abuse and how it’s reported. Levi will be joined at the new center by a clinical child-protection team that includes one child-abuse specialist, two pediatricians who have completed specialized post-graduate training in child protection, and a social worker. The larger team of specialists includes physicians and nurses in pediatric surgery, neurosurgery, critical care, neurology, psychiatry, pulmonary ophthalmology, and other fields. The center is also in the process of recruiting a clinical psychologist and an additional board-certified child-abuse specialist.
“When treating children who have been abused, it is critical to treat the whole child, which includes addressing their psychological and social needs, in addition to their physical injuries and developmental concerns,” says Levi. “Because each child is unique, their treatment plan is developed specifically around their individual needs.” The center’s plans include expanding its clinical outreach by developing an outpatient clinic that will serve as the medical home for children who have been abused and placed in foster care. Additionally, the center is developing an eLearning module for school personnel on how to become a responsible mandated reporter. It includes a variety of research and outreach initiatives that focus on the prevention of child abuse, as well as sharpens its ability to accurately identify and report suspected abuse. One of the center’s challenges, Levi says, is educating people on the frontlines—teachers, healthcare professionals, and others working with children—to be aware and vigilant without overreacting, to understand the prevalence of child abuse and what their role is in the protection of children. “We don’t expect anyone to become an expert on child abuse,” Levi says, “but to be a good citizen.”
“When treating children who have been abused, it is critical to treat the whole child.”
Perinatal Services – Support for the Mother, Baby, and Family Unit
By Lori M. Myers To find out that there is something medically wrong with a baby that is not yet born is certainly an overwhelming moment that can leave parents numb. The Perinatal Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital was developed to guide parents and
families through this stressful time by working one on one with each family, taking them through the consultation process from scheduling of appointments and personally escorting them to these appointments to providing them with a real person to whom they could ask questions and get information. “As the perinatal program coordinator, I have the privilege of working with families, community healthcare providers throughout Central PA, and the healthcare providers at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and Hershey Medical Center to support the overriding goal of helping parents deal with the challenge of having a baby who will need special care after they are born,” says Pat Avakian. “It is all focused on achieving the best outcome for the baby and the family.” The Perinatal Program also makes it easier for healthcare providers in the region to refer their patients to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital for consultations related to the management and care of unborn babies diagnosed with fetal abnormalities that will require either immediate or early intervention following delivery. It also ensures that communication between Penn State Hershey providers and the referring physician is done in a complete and timely manner. The pediatric specialty groups include the Children’s Heart Group, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, plastic surgery, and urology. They treat conditions such as atrial septal defects, brain tumors, clubfoot, airway obstructions, bladder exstrophy, and many others. “In addition to the surgical specialties, there are an extensive number of support services available that provide follow-up care and
Pat Avakian in the present pediatric play area, looking forward to the quickly approaching move to the new hospital. 12
management of children throughout childhood and adolescence to adulthood,” Avakian says. “All these services are conveniently located here in Central Pennsylvania.” Diagnosis involves state-of-the-art equipment at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital that is unequaled. The discovery of birth abnormalities is most often determined through prenatal ultrasound, Avakian says. When an abnormality is identified involving the brain, fetal airway, or possible chest mass, a fetal MRI performed at Penn State Hershey provides a more detailed view of the anomaly. “No other facility in Central Pennsylvania has this diagnostic tool available,” Avakian says. “The fetal MRI is instrumental in determining the most appropriate management plan for the delivery of the baby.” Central PA is also very fortunate to have a neonatal intensive care unit at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital that is classified as a Level IIIC, the only one in our region to have this type of classification. The next
closest at that level are in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Located in the same building as the NICU are the maternal child unit and the maternal fetal medicine department, where obstetrical specialists provide prenatal care to the mother and are able to effectively and safely care for both routine and highly complex deliveries. Supporting the mother, baby, and family unit is the goal of the Perinatal Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. A very important part of Avakian’s responsibilities includes meeting on a regular basis with the maternal fetal medicine physicians and neonatologists at other Level III facilities in the area to discuss patients who will be referred to Hershey for consultation. She also visits community hospitals in the region to identify ways in which Hershey can support them. “The ability to collaborate with the providers in other facilities,” Avakian says, “offers the opportunity to ensure that the best possible care is provided to all patients through the sharing of information and resources throughout Central Pennsylvania.”
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Youth Volunteerism Defies the ‘Gen-Y’ Stereotypes By Megan Joyce When it comes to broad stereotyping, generation Y takes a beating. Those born between the years of 1981 and 1995 are often the unhappy recipients of some brutal labels. Pampered. Opposed to hard work. Self-centered. Needy. Socially inept. But those negative labels are just stereotypes, and stereotypes are meant to be—and often are—disproved. Today’s teenagers and young adults are also incredibly generous and socially conscious, as evidenced by their widespread volunteerism. Many of the generation’s naysayers would be surprised to learn that in 2004, youths between the ages of 12 and 18 contributed more than 1.3 billion hours of service, according to a national study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service with the U.S. Census Bureau and Independent Sector. In fact, young people volunteered at twice the rate of adults, with 55 percent of youth volunteering, compared with only 29 percent of adults. And one of those young people is Katy Gochnauer, 18, a graduate of Hempfield High School and a freshman at
Slippery Rock University. Gochnauer’s resume of volunteer work is impressive and varied, and like so many of her peers, her reason for volunteering is simple and altruistic. “I think it’s really a satisfaction that you get from helping other people, knowing that you won’t get any immediate recognition necessarily for it,” Gochnauer said. “But it’s just nice to know you’re helping other people out.” Gochnauer has been extensively involved in activities at her church, including conducting the church’s weekly video presentations for the past four years, working in the church nursery, helping with holiday meals, and participating with vacation Bible school. “At vacation Bible school, all the kids that you get to work with really make an impression on you, just the little things that they do,” Gochnauer said. “She has a very caring personality, and that comes through in her volunteer work,” said her mother, Loren Gochnauer. “About halfway through night one of Bible school, kids are crawling on her lap, like she’s holding two and three kids at a time. Kids know. They know who cares and who doesn’t care.” At her school, Gochnauer was a member of the Anchor
Club, which promotes volunteerism. In her freshman year, she participated in Hempfield’s Mini-THON to raise money for cancer research. In addition to serving as captain of her soccer team for five years, Gochnauer has also helped with soccer training camps for all ages. When a classmate passed away from a drug overdose, Gochnauer was one of the students who volunteered for the fundraiser that sold t-shirts and car washes to raise a few thousand dollars toward his family’s medical bills. And this holiday season, when you hear the familiar tolling of the Salvation Army bells, Gochnauer might be the person ringing them. For five years in a row, Gochnauer has rung the donation bell at the mall, a bank, a pizza shop, and a grocery store. “People are generous,” she noted. “It’s cool to see all the kids asking their moms for change to go put in the bucket.” As is so often the case, volunteerism runs in Gochnauer’s family. She has helped both her volunteering grandmothers at a Manheim thrift shop, sorting donations and helping to price items. Her father and mother are longtime volunteers as well and started Gochnauer off young, encouraging her to help them sort cans donated to the food bank at Thanksgiving. For parents struggling to find a way to initiate their children to the value and importance of volunteering their time, Gochnauer said that following one of their interests is the easiest path. “Do something that they’re interested in,” she said. “A sports team, church—there are always things you can do … or through school. There are always clubs you can get into. If your child’s interested in something, it’s going to be easy to get them to volunteer, especially if their friends are doing it.” At Slippery Rock, Gochnauer is studying to become a physical therapist, an occupation in line with her longstanding desire to help others. And despite the rigors of collegiate academia, Gochnauer has continued her volunteer work by joining the Best Buddy program, where she is paired with an adult who has mental health challenges for regular activities. Gochnauer has also chosen to assist the American Cancer Society as a leader for a fitness fundraiser and hopes to become a student ambassador for her college in the future. Just one of many young adults challenging the negative gen-Y characterizations, Gochnauer reiterated her motivation for serving her community. “It’s just nice knowing that you can help other people,” she said. “It’s also [knowing that] someone out there is benefitting from what I’m doing, and the little bit of time I can give is helping someone out a lot.”
Katy Gochnauer has been extensively involved in activities at her church, including participating with vacation Bible school and conducting the weekly video presentations.
Selecting a Daycare That’s Right for Your Child By Rochelle A. Shenk Choosing a childcare program for your child is an important decision. There are so many choices to make, and it can be a bit overwhelming—there are more than 9,000 registered and certified childcare programs in Pennsylvania. You want your child to be in a fun environment, but it should also be safe and educational. Additionally, early experiences can have a big impact on your child’s future success. “The first five years are critical in a child’s development. Children develop social skills, and the foundation of a good work ethic is formed during this time. A childcare center prepares a child for kindergarten,” says Kelly Swanson, communications and public policy director at Pennsylvania Key, an organization that manages statewide professional development initiatives for childcare professionals. Like an ice cream store, there’s a wide variety of childcare providers to choose from, and not every one will suit a parent’s needs. Some parents prefer in-home care or care in someone else’s home, while others may prefer center-based care or a preschool. “Any program you choose should consider the parent as a partner in the program. There should be a lot of communication between the program and/or the teacher and the parent,” Swanson says. She also advises parents to talk with their child every day about activities in childcare,
so they can continue the learning process at home. In Pennsylvania there are both non-regulated childcare programs and programs that are regulated by the state Department of Public Welfare. Regulated programs include childcare centers, a childcare facility, and a childcare facility located in a home. These are inspected once per year and must follow guidelines such as: provide a designated number of staff per amount of children; provide constant supervision; provide nutritious meals; ensure that all enrolled children are immunized; meet state health and safety standards; and provide learning opportunities. Background checks of staff members are also part of the licensing/certification process. In evaluating different childcare options, Swanson advises parents to examine several factors, including education and experience of teachers, longevity of teachers, and child-staff ratios. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has established specific child-staff ratios based on age. Swanson also suggests asking teachers or program administrators about their philosophy and if they follow Developmentally-Appropriate Practices (DAP), which are activities that meet the developmental level of your child. She says that quality childcare programs have classrooms and activities that meet the needs of your child at each developmental stage. “One thing a parent can do when they visit a childcare program is to look at the classroom. There should be different learning centers for different activities. They can
also speak with the teacher and ask about what skills an activity develops,” she says. Swanson adds that Pennsylvania has developed early childhood learning standards. “Children don’t all develop at the same rate at the same age. Programs should try to touch on all the different skill levels every day.” While a parent is visiting the classroom, she/he should look at the way the teacher interacts with children as well as how she/he interacts with them. “Reliable childcare is important, and both you and your child have to feel comfortable at the childcare center,” Swanson says. She also notes that a quality childcare program should be open to visits from parents. “You may not be able to go into the room if the children are napping, but you should be welcome to visit at any time. If that is not the case, that should throw up a red flag,” she says. Often parents look for quality childcare that’s convenient to both home and work, but Swanson advises parents to extend their search a bit further in either area. “There could be a quality childcare program that’s five or 10 minutes away from your target area. Childcare is expensive and you don’t want to overlook any opportunity that’s nearby,” she explains. Another consideration in selecting a childcare program is participation in the Keystone STARS (Standards,
Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources) program, which provides families with a tool to gauge the quality of early learning programs. Swanson notes that STARS has standards for participating early-learning programs. Programs can earn STAR 1 through STAR 4 (4 is the highest level). Each level has its own quality standards for staff education, learning environment, leadership management, and family and community partnerships. There are also other resources available to help parents choose a program that’s right for both them and their child. These resources include accreditation from one or more of the following: the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National AfterSchool Association, National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), or National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA). A program may also be a T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) sponsoring center or family provider. A scholarship program for childcare teachers and directors, T.E.A.C.H. allows them to attend college classes and continue working full time. With careful consideration and the right tools to analyze programs, parents can make a childcare choice that not only provides quality care for their child, but is also one that they and their child are comfortable with.
Lunches Kids Will Love By Sandra Gordon You probably know that kids shouldn’t leave the house without having a healthy breakfast. But lunch is just as important. Eating every four hours or so helps children perform at their peak. Although most kids can buy lunch at the school cafeteria, if the line is long or your child doesn’t like what’s being served, bringing lunch from home can be a healthy and fun alternative. Here are some hints to help you make nutritious lunches that your child will eat and ask for again and again.
To make it easy on yourself, use dinner leftovers for your child’s lunch entrees too, such as pasta, soup, or chili. It might just hit the spot. Change up other aspects of your child’s lunch as well. While whole fruits such as apples and oranges are great, pineapple chunks, grapes, or a mix of dried fruit such as craisins, raisins, apricots, mangoes, and banana chips can be a welcome change.
Make Milk a Priority If possible, have your child buy milk at school or pack it from home for her lunch beverage; it’s an excellent source of bone-building calcium. With the exception of infants and young toddlers, most kids don’t get the daily recommended levels of calcium: 500 milligrams (mg) from age 1 to 3; 800 mg from 4 to 8; and 1,300 mg for ages 9 through 18. In fact, only 55 percent of kids ages 3 to 5 and 40 percent of 6to 11-year-olds meet their calcium quota. It’s best to avoid juice and soda as your child’s lunch drink because both are high in sugar or caffeine. But if your child only drinks juice, look for 100 percent juice that’s calcium fortified. Water is also an acceptable choice, although it doesn’t offer any nutrients.
Pyramid Power Your child’s lunch should include a serving from each of the major food groups from the USDA Food Guide Pyramid: grains like rice or whole-wheat bread; fruits; vegetables; skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese; and a protein food such as beans, peanut butter, or turkey. Packing a sandwich is a simple way to get many of the food groups into one quick meal. For more information about the Food Pyramid, visit www.mypyramid.gov.
Think Variety Vary the foods your child eats every day so that he stays interested. This is especially important for adventurous eaters. If you make sandwiches, switch up the type of bread you use. Instead of white bread, try English muffins, whole-grain bread, whole-wheat tortillas in flavors like spinach or red pepper, pita pockets, or wholegrain bagels or crackers. Then change the fillings. One day, put peanut butter on the sandwich, and the next day make it tuna or sliced chicken or turkey. If your child eats lunchmeat, get the lower-fat, lower-sodium versions of deli and prepackaged cold cuts.
Don’t Forget a Treat For fun, toss in some healthful treats such as low-fat pudding, unsalted pretzels, baked chips, trail mix, nosugar-added applesauce, unbuttered popcorn, graham crackers, gingersnaps, or whole-grain cereal. Pound for pound, kids need more energy than adults. So if your child eats moderately and is active, those extras will not add unwanted weight. For younger kids you might pack some other extras such as a note from Mom or Dad or a special napkin for a holiday or your child’s birthday.
Be Well Prepared For safety’s sake, get the right equipment for packing your child’s lunch. Use polyethylene plastic containers that are designed for carrying foods and are safe for the microwave. Take note—using margarine or cottage cheese containers is not a good idea. They were designed for onetime use and may contain chemicals that may leach into the food. To keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, always include a cold pack for foods that need refrigeration and those that contain perishable ingredients such as mayonnaise. Freeze a cold food or beverage, and pack it frozen into your child’s lunchbox so that it will still be chilled at lunchtime. For soups and other foods that your child should eat heated, preheat an insulated, tightly sealed container such as an unbreakable thermos that’s designated for hot foods. While the thermos is heating, warm up the soup or other food in the microwave oven or on the stove. When the food has heated, pour the water out and the warm food in. When packing perishables, choose an insulated lunchbox or bag rather than paper. Paper bags might not maintain the temperature of foods as well as the insulated kind. Remind your kids not to store their lunch in warm spots such as near the classroom window or near the radiator during the colder months. If your child’s school has a refrigerator, that’s ideal. To keep germs in check, wash and thoroughly dry your child’s insulated lunchbox daily.
Let’s Eat How can you make sure that your child eats the lunch you pack and doesn’t toss it or trade it for a classmate’s lunch? Here are a few tips: 1. Let your child help you choose the lunch foods while you’re shopping or when you’re making a shopping list. For example, ask your child what type of fruit or yogurt he would like. Then prepare the food and pack lunch together. 2. Since most kids love to eat with their hands, they’ll be more likely to devour fruits and vegetables (and other foods they might otherwise pass up) if you cut them into bite-size pieces or strips. Pieces of fruit look even more appealing if you make them into kebabs by spearing them
with a straw. Add low-fat cheese cubes for a calcium boost. Pack a low-fat yogurt dip for fruits or a low-fat ranch dip for carrots, celery sticks, and radishes. 3. When you see your child in the afternoon or evening, ask if he ate lunch that day and how it was. Your interest will send the message that you believe lunch is an important part of your child’s day.
A Week’s Worth of Menu Ideas Kid tested … dietitian approved.
Monday Q Peanut butter and honey on whole-grain submarine rolls Q Fresh orange slices Q Three vanilla wafers Q Skim milk Tuesday Q Tuna salad on whole-wheat bread Q Strawberry, grape, and orange fruit kebabs Q Low-fat fruit-flavored yogurt (for dipping) Q Three small gingersnaps Q Low-fat chocolate milk Wednesday Q Chili (left over from Monday’s dinner) Q Whole-grain crackers with low-fat American cheese Q Carrot and celery sticks with low-fat ranch dressing dip Q One half cup low-fat vanilla pudding Q Skim milk Thursday Q Tortilla roll-ups (low-fat ham or turkey and cheese rolled up in a whole-wheat tortilla)
Q Carrot and red pepper strips with salsa Q Two oatmeal cookies Q Low-fat strawberry milk Friday Q Vegetable pizza (left over from Wednesday’s dinner) Q Sliced apple, banana, and pear in orange juice Q Three graham crackers Q Skim milk
Improve Your Family’s IQ – Ways to Make Education Come Naturally By Farzanna S. Haffizulla, M.D. It’s Monday! Besides your own busy schedule, your children’s activities shadow all else. From soccer meets to piano practice, where can we fit in and meld a strong academic foundation for our children? Teaching our children the significance of strong academic groundwork, the value of responsibility, and the importance of meeting your obligations on homework assignments and school projects are important values. As parents, we are the architects of our family institution. Weaving the threads of a solid education and fostering motivated learning can be accomplished easily and effectively.
Education at Home And Beyond Often, even an extremely bright child will stumble in one subject or have a hard time with one concept. Lack of understanding of the material and basics early on can cause a chain reaction that will significantly slow down academic development. Often the best approach is for the parent to take charge and get their kids the help they need in school. There are many ways to accomplish this, such as: Linear learning. This tutoring type offers a structured approach to
math and reading. It is a way to fill in any gaps in the material children are learning at school. The extra sessions they spend with these tutors reinforce any concepts and ideas they learn at school, further enriching their educational experience. Study hall. Children can stay at school to do their homework under the guidance of teachers or tutors, rather than doing homework at home where it is too easy for us to give them the answers. Extra learning materials. Encourage education beyond the classroom by providing children with different educational materials. Some are digital or audio books; others are workbooks and interactive computer programs. The materials supplement what they are taught in school and provide them advanced materials beyond their grade level to keep them challenged and interested in learning beyond the classroom. These additional materials promote independent learning so important in instilling the value of curiosity and passion in your children.
Mentorship Establish a system of mentorship among siblings. Both younger and older siblings benefit from these family work sessions. Aside from daily homework assignments, children have work sessions alongside each other, where everyone helps one another with their schoolwork.
This idea follows the Montessori methodology of schooling that emphasizes a student-driven learning experience, where the children dictate the pace of their own learning experience. It recognizes that every child is different and that you can’t expect him or her to follow one sequence of development. It advocates an education that is tailored to the individual’s quirks and experiences. By having siblings work together, you essentially create a safe and supportive environment where each child can work at his/her own pace but get the encouragement and support of their family. In particular, these learning sessions offer another way for the younger children to learn from their older siblings’ experience. The older children also benefit by teaching material to the younger brothers and sisters, reinforcing and mastering concepts they have learned in the past. Together, they all learn to work as a team and as a family.
Prioritize and Establish a Routine Establishing a clear routine to help build a sense of regularity into your child’s days is also important for academic success. For example, they have X amount of time allotted for homework and studying and X amount of time for watching television. Exam preparations can be done as a family activity. Turn study time into a game where you quiz each other, building confidence and a sense of camaraderie among your children. This can even be done in the car on the way back from karate or soccer practice! In this communal study format, not only does one child master new topics faster and with better understanding, but all the children benefit by participating in discussions with their siblings. It’s also important that your children learn at an early age to prioritize. Kids are juggling activities, hobbies, academics, and household chores—it’s important to teach them how to handle their responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed. Immediate gratification is a natural instinct, and teaching them how to control their impulses and to finish the important tasks first is an important life skill.
But this strategy, even if it’s couched in good intentions, only coddles children and invalidates the whole purpose of school projects, which is to teach independent learning and to foster creative thinking and resourcefulness. Instead, encourage independence at every corner. If your child insists on your help initially, prompt them to tackle the problem on their own at first. An experience like this fortifies their sense of resolve and will push them to become independent thinkers. Being prompted to hunker down with books and rethink a problem can provide the catalyst to reach that “Eureka!” moment. When the solution is found, it feels like sweet victory. Teach your children to believe in their abilities. They will soon learn to effortlessly pull from inner reserves of strength and resources. The key to academic success starts at home: educate, encourage, establish independence and mentorship, and empower your children! Get creative and have fun while learning. As your journey through this process continues, remember there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Incorporate activities that make sense and that meld with your family’s passions and interests. Where there is a will, there is a way! Dr. Farzanna Haffizulla is an expert in work/life balance and author of Harmony of the Spheres, which advises how to achieve harmony and balance of the work, family, and community spheres in life. She runs the websites BusyMomMD.com, an informative site for modern, educated women juggling career, family, and community life, and HouseCallsMD.us, which provides a portal to better healthcare. Contact Dr. Haffizulla at www.busymommd.com.
Value Independence Educate your children by empowering them to learn on their own. While extra help might be needed sometimes, too much hand-holding can provide a false sense of security. Just as children needed to learn to walk on their own, they need to manage their homework assignments and projects on their own, as well. There are many cases where parents fret about their children’s performance on a school project. So, instead of taking the chance that their child might get a grade less than an A, they spearhead the project for their child, providing them all the ideas and research.
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Sharing Moments Through Books Help Your Kids Get It Done Right at Home and School! By Donna M. Genett, Ph.D. quilldriverbooks.com Learn the six simple steps that will help your child fulfill his or her potential for success and happiness. Guaranteed to drastically change the life of the reader and his or her parent.
Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want By Jenny Blake runningpress.com A compilation of tips, inspiration, and coaching exercises for every area of life. A 20-something herself, she understand what recent grads are facing in today’s society.
15 Ways to Zap a Bully By Jackie Humans, Ph.D. legworkteam.com
The Available Parent By John Duffy cleispress.com Lean how you can enjoy a healthy, satisfying, and new kind of relationship with your teens and tweens: a relationship with a foundation not of fear, but of radical optimism.
This book illustrates simple techniques on handling bullies and moves into more sophisticated techniques using humor and/or snappy comebacks. It also outlines how to report a bully.
Stover By Kathy Brodsky kathybrodsky.com This is a fun book with a message about staying healthy. Stover is a happy little pig with a secret life. He loves playing in the mud, but see what he does to stay happy and healthy.
101 Offline Activities You Can Do With Your Child By Steve and Ruth Bennett btptpress.com Disconnect from the ’Net, put away the digital toys, and have some old-fashioned fun. You’ll find activities that need little or no preparation and it’s a great way to connect with your children.
Here We Go! GrandCamp Adventures By Walter Sorrels and Victor Tavares grandcamp.com There’s something special between a grandparent and grandchild that ought to be recognized, celebrated, and nurtured. Books, music, and games. Magical moments and fun abound. Paint a memory that lasts forever.