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’cause parenting is a trip!

Navigating the Child-Care Crunch

inside! 10 brain-building games to try with your baby Einstein 8

48 (REALLY CHEAP) HOURS IN STUMPTOWN A budget-benign itinerary for a family jaunt to Portland 31

EDUCATION FINANCING BY THE NUMBERS Tuition planning strategies for every age and stage 39

MARCH 2020



APRIL 16-19


FREE KIDS THURSDAY 2–10PM Kids 0-18 get FREE ADMISSION* on 4/16. And, any† 6 rides or games for $22! *With suggested non-perishable food donation for Puyallup Food Bank. †Excludes Classic Coaster and Extreme Scream

FREE FARM FUN! THE FARM AT SILLYVILLE This FREE “farmer for a day” experience connects kids to the farmers who produce the food we eat and making healthy choices.


Friday 4/17 • 7:30pm


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Visit zoo.org/camps to learn more!


e support you, we listen to you,

we collaborate with you.

The new Franciscan Women’s Health clinic is now open, with an approach to women’s health built around you. From personalized prenatal-to-postmenopausal care and everything in between. And if pregnancy is in your plans, our new Virginia Mason Birth Center opens this summer, so you can continue personalizing your care throughout your entire pregnancy. Learn more at virginiamason.chifranciscan.org. To make an appointment, call (206) 287-6300.

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 3

AVA I L A B L E N OW Wherever books are sold Raising teenagers has always been hard. But it is much harder these days.

The NEW Adolescence From


Christine Carter, PhD Author of Ra i si n g Ha p p i n e ss christinecarter.com Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction

Join us to hear from Titi Aynaw, the first Ethiopian-born Israeli to win the title of Miss Israel and represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant. We’re excited to bring Titi to Seattle in partnership with Congregation Ezra Bessaroth on Monday, March 30, where she will share her incredible story and discuss her involvement with Jewish National Fund. MORE INFORMATION

Jackson Pincus, Israel Programs Admissions Director, Pacific Northwest at jpincus@jnf.org or 206.760.1188 x941

jnf.org · 800.JNF.0099

She has your eyes, and our expert care. We are here to o help ensure your pregnancy is exceptional an nd uniquely yours. n We’vve be We b en help ping mothers deliver healthyy bab abie ie es for fo de decade es— — close to home, in n a pla lace e dedicated to you and your baby by’ss saffety, y, co omf mfor ortt an and d pe perrso onal preferences. It’s you o ourr bi birt rth h, your way. Equallllyy im Equa impo port rtaant,, you can rest easyy knowing that you have ve e access to some of tth the e re regi gion on’ss top exp xper erts ts who supportt com om mplex ex pregnancies, i sho hould ld the th need d arise. i


inside MARCH 2020

,cause parenting is a trip!



The days are long, but the years (and finances) are short


Child’s play: 10 brain-building games to try with your baby Einstein


Local youth leaders organize inspiring event for teens and their families


OSFED up: The 411 on the eating disorder you’ve never heard of


Unique treats to serve your birthday buddy instead of cake


The buzz on mason bees: 10 expert beekeeping tips for families


36 6 local contests for creative kids in 2020 40 5 inspired ideas for Montessori-style learning at home 44 How positive self-talk can improve your child’s academic performance




Education by the numbers: Tuition strategies for every age and stage


This researcher and father is ensuring schools value more than just academics

The 2020 ParentMap Readers’ Choice Awards Voting starts April 1!

How area families struggle to juggle career, personal goals and raising children

Out + About



Advertising Sections


19–22 B  irthdays 28–37 C  amps + Activities 38 N  WAIS 40–41 M  ontessori Schools 42–46 S chools + Preschools


A budget-benign itinerary for a family jaunt to Portland

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 5





The days are long, but the years (and finances) are short


f adults were required to pass a series of standardized tests to qualify to enter parenthood, too many of us hoping to matriculate would bomb out, based on our poor math scores. And by that, I mean our understanding, in even

rudimentary terms, of what we really need to know about the practical economics of raising a baby to adulthood. For the survival of our species, perhaps it is a good thing there is no such aptitude test administered. Now almost 20 years into parenting, I wish I could say that I have upped my money management game by learning on the job, but that would be giving myself far more credit than I deserve. In fact, my husband and I seem to be living proof that you can essentially do everything wrong, financially speaking, and things still somehow turn out okay. I don’t share this shameful self-admission to encourage anyone to emulate our bumbling, lackadaisical example — quite the opposite! Each year, ParentMap stacks its March issue with content directed to help parents think, plan and save more intentionally with respect to the trajectory of their family finances. Our feature, Navigating the Child-Care Crunch (p. 16), provides a sobering assessment of the current costs of quality early education in Washington; and Planning to Pay (p. 39) offers practical strategies for saving for your child’s education journey at every age and stage. You can do it! How well I know that our little bundles of bills grow up so fast! In one of my very favorite pictures of my sweet daughter Matilda, she stands proudly by our front door, the top of her head barely reaching the doorknob, waiting expectantly to leave to go to her first day of preschool. Fast-forward to a recent weekend, when after a (too) short visit home from university (!), she paused by that same door to say goodbye to us; in a flash, she was a palimpsest: a magnificent, confident young woman superimposed upon that brave, bright, dear little

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preschooler, both ready to make their independent way. How did we get here so fast? Hate to say it, but this will happen to you, too. But it’s not all about money madness and mama melancholy in March! This month, we also share fun brain-building games to play with baby (p. 8); a budgetfriendly, adventure-packed itinerary for a family getaway to Portland (p. 29); expert tips for keeping mason bees (p. 27); fantastic local contests for creative kids (p. 36); and celebratory treats to serve your birthday buddies that take the cake (p. 22). Take heart, dear readers — spring is just around the corner! — Patty Lindley, ParentMap Managing Editor


March 2020, Vol. 18, No. 3 PUBLISHER/EDITOR Alayne Sulkin



Nicole Persun


Devon Hammer


Gemma Alexander, Missy Anderson, Darlena Cunha, Rory Graves, JiaYing Grygiel, Tiffany Doerr Guerzon, Malia Jacobson, Angelica Lai, Sanya Pelini, Shar Petit


Lindsey Carter


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Includes 2 passes to the Kid’s Discovery Museum!


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all about baby Find Your Village Being a new parent can be really isolating, but baby, we’ve got your back. Sign up for our weekly eNews for the best in ALLI ARNOLD


outings and advice, ’cause parenting is a trip!



From Recent Research to Gaga Gear

Brain-Building Games to Play With Baby By Malia Jacobson


Baby gym

or babies, getting smarter is child’s play. According to researchers and child development experts, simple, everyday games can boost your baby’s brain development, encouraging growth in language, science, math and organizational skills (called executive functions), along with social and emotional learning. Babies at play are learning about themselves, others and their world, says Sarah R. Lytle, Ph.D., director of outreach and education for the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS; ilabs.washington.edu) at the University of Washington. “Babies are these natural scientists. They’re always playing games that are actually experiments. Every time a baby drops their spoon off their high chair, they’re figuring out their world and how it works.” Here’s how to assist your little scientist by introducing games that benefit cognitive development from birth through age 1.

No, you don’t need to take your baby to spin class. But physical activity — think tummy time, crawling, scooting, walking practice or parent-child swimming — can boost brain growth. Canadian researchers found that physical activity benefits cognitive development, especially executive functions and language skills, in children from birth through age 5.

Why, thank you! When your baby hands you a toy and looks at you expectantly, they’re initiating a game that develops social and emotional intelligence, says Lytle. Play along by responding with delight (“Thank you so much!”), waiting a beat, then handing the toy back. Keep the back-and-forth going for as long as your baby stays interested.

Bust a move

Back and forth Quality interactions with loving caregivers are vital to cognitive development in general — things such as responding to babies’ coos and cries, gazing into their eyes and making silly faces. “In a high-quality interaction, you want to see a true back-and-forth exchange between a parent and a baby. When the baby babbles, the parent responds like they’re having a conversation,” says Lytle.

8 • March 2020 • parentmap.com

Where’s the cup? By 4–7 months of age, babies begin developing object permanence, or the knowledge that something still exists even when it’s not visible. Simple games such as moving a cup just out of sight and asking your baby, “Where’s the cup?” help your baby attain this memory milestone.

Exposing babies to music introduces the concept of rhythm, which benefits mathematical skills, says Lytle. Encourage this learning with mini dance sessions as early as the newborn stage (holding your baby, of course), spending 5–10 minutes bouncing and swaying to the beat of songs you know and love.

Rhyme time Reading books filled with rhyming words, such as “The Cat in the Hat,” helps your baby develop


SAVE GREEN phonological awareness, an important component of language and literacy, says Lytle. “Books work well for this because, as parents, we don’t normally speak in rhymes. And we tend to get into verbal ruts and use the same words over and over again. Books expose babies to words and rhymes you might not normally use.”

Face it Gazing at faces seems to support babies’ visual development and cognitive growth. Just hours after birth, babies show a preference for gazing at faces. Stanford researchers found that by 4 months of age, babies have facial recognition skills that are on par with those of adults, and those skills are more highly developed than other cognitive abilities. A simple game such as placing your face 10–12 inches from your baby’s face, then switching with another person or even a stuffed animal and waiting for your baby to respond can help babies hone this important skill.





Building skills That shape-sorting toy you may have received at your baby shower is great for developing spatial awareness and mathematical ability, says Lytle. Once babies get a bit older, building blocks can help continue that development. “With blocks, babies are testing their environment and really getting into some complex concepts related to math, such as volume, distance and how structures work,” she says.

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Baby comedian “Parents sometimes think that in order to build language skills they need to ‘fill their baby’s bucket’ with a lot of words,” says Lytle. “But the back-and-forth interaction is what really benefits cognitive growth.” Try responding to your baby’s early coos and first words with a hearty laugh, a squeal or a surprised face. The sillier the better, since babies are often delighted by these responses and more interested in keeping the interaction going.

I get it Playing together provides opportunities to boost social and emotional skills by helping your baby understand and process emotions, says Lytle. “When your child becomes frustrated, talking about the emotions they’re feeling is important. When parents say, ‘I understand why that made you upset,’ they’re scaffolding [or supporting] important social and emotional concepts.” Focused, attentive interactions with loving caregivers are the best brain builders, says Lytle. When caregivers play with babies, they can make the experience even more beneficial by focusing on their baby and tuning out their phone and other distractions. “To create a high-quality interaction, it’s important to be fully present and really focus your attention on your child.” ■ Malia Jacobson is a health and family journalist.

Be the first to know about Seattle-area

family fun! Get our weekly picks for the top local outings and activities, delivered to your inbox.

ParentMap.com/eNews parentmap.com • March 2020 • 9



APRIL 16-19

CREATIVE KIDS EXHIBIT Kids ages 6-15 can exhibit their creativity and skills at Spring Fair!

March 20–29

Participants receive a FREE Spring Fair admission ticket. Register online through April 6, 10pm.

April 3–11

For more information and to register visit


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For alternate formats, interpreters, or reasonable accommodation requests please phone at least 48 hours in advance 425-452-7155 (voice) or email byt@bellevuewa. gov. For complaints regarding accommodations, contact City of Bellevue ADA/Title VI Administrator at 425-452-6168 (voice) or email ADATitleVI@bellevuewa.gov. If you are deaf or hard of hearing dial 711. All meetings are wheelchair accessible.

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it starts with you(th)

Discover Hope for the Future at the Teen Action Fair By Patty Lindley


ow in its seventh year, the annual Gates Foundation Discovery Center Teen Action Fair has perfected its recipe for community inspiration: Blend youths who are highly motivated to make a difference in their local and global communities with dozens of established organizations already leading the charge in various social movements through volunteering, activism, the arts and more; sprinkle liberally with powerful youth performances, thoughtprovoking art installations, interactive exhibits and various opportunities to participate in important civic dialogue. Serve this rather unique event to your teen, and you just might change the course of their life. I recently caught up with several members of the Discovery Center’s Youth Ambassadors Program who have helped plan, curate and market this year’s Teen Action Fair to learn more about what attendees can expect.

From L to R: Discovery Center Youth Ambassadors Program (YAP) members Gian Roque, Yubi Mamiya, Julia Dinh (YAP coordinating intern), Varsha Venkatesan and Betty Gebretsadik

This spring, explore the wild in the heart of Bellevue! Families can discover the wetlands on a guided walk, preschoolers can get up close with critters, and teens can create change with local environmental research.

Book your visit today at pacsci.org/mercer-slough.

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center is a collaboration between the City of Bellevue and Pacific Science Center.

12 • March 2020 • parentmap.com

How would you describe the Teen Action Fair to someone who has never been to one? Gian Roque (age 16, Mercer Island High School): What I usually tell my friends is that it is an event hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the Discovery Center where we bring together a bunch of nonprofit organizations and high school groups that aim to inspire youths to make change. Betty Gebretsadik (age 17, Mountlake Terrace High School): I describe it as a place where teens can come to get inspired and to talk to other people and make connections. It’s a place where they can feel like they can make a change, as well. It’s just very welcoming to everyone and anyone can come. What are some of the programming highlights that you think are particularly interesting this year? Varsha Venkatesan (age 16, Redmond High School): This year, we’re going to have one of the icons from the We the Future exhibit [discovergates.org/wethefuture] come. Her name is Leah, and she is the

Teen Action Fair

In Community We Flourish Come celebrate youth-driven change at the Teen Action Fair! When: Saturday, March 14, 2020, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Where: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, 440 5th Ave. N., Seattle Admission: Free and open to all Learn more: discovergates.org/teenactionfair

youngest icon. We’re really looking forward to getting a new perspective of how people who are even younger than we are make the world an amazing place for everyone. And we’re also going to be displaying works from local youth artists and providing open mics so people can come and share. There will be a lot of dance and singing. Yubi Mamiya (15, Shorewood High School): I’m on the programming committee and we really look to a lot of different organizations that have a youth perspective or are otherwise involved in their local community, like the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council [walyac.weebly.com], which does statewide work; or organizations that are doing global work, such as Water1st International [water1st.org]. We invite local high school clubs as well because we feel like it is important for teens to know that they can bring change to many different levels in their community. What do you expect that attendees will take away from the experience of being at this year’s Teen Action Fair? Betty: I would hope that they feel empowered when they leave the Teen Action Fair; that, at whatever age, they see they can make a change, no matter how big or how small it is. Youth is the force to make change. Gian: This question of what we want them to take away is brought up a lot. One answer is that we want attendees to be inspired, but we don’t want them to just feel inspired that day. We want that feeling to stick with them. We want them to stay inspired and continue to make change. Yubi: From a programming committee perspective, I hope that the youth can see that there is diverse representation for them. And that they can be the representation for other youth and leaders in the future. Varsha: For me, I know that when young people are looking around at the world and its current state, they can feel very overwhelmed by the number of issues that need to be solved and changed in order for everyone to be able to live their best life. But once teens attend the event and leave with a feeling of hope, a little bit of passion and the knowledge that they are not alone in wanting to change the world, they can find an issue to focus on, and hopefully find a way to be able to change it. n

Sponsored by:

At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe all lives have equal value. We are impatient optimists working to reduce inequity. Explore interactive exhibits and find ways you can take action at the Gates Foundation Discovery Center, discovergates.org

WE THE FUTURE Young Leaders of Social Change On view now FREE

Next to Seattle Center | 440 5th Ave N. #WeTheFutureNow | discovergates.org Image ©Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Charina Pitzel

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 13



What to know about the eating disorder you’ve never heard of By Malia Jacobson


oday’s most common eating disorder is one you’ve probably never heard of. Rates of eating disorders have more than doubled over the past decade, according to a 2019 analysis of published research. The majority of these cases are referred to as other specified feeding or eating disorder, or OSFED, says psychiatrist Mehri Moore, M.D., medical director and founder of THIRA Health (thirahealth.com), a mental health treatment center for women and girls in Bellevue, Washington.

Dental health education made interactive and fun! The Tooth Fairy is on a mission to promote healthy smiles! Join us as Delta Dental of Washington presents The Tooth Fairy Experience including free, interactive presentations, story time, fun smile facts and educational activities. MARCH 4 Mill Creek Library Meet the Tooth Fairy for an evening story time, learn how to care for your teeth and get a free toothbrush! 7:00 p.m. FREE MARCH 19 Marysville Library Join us for story time with the Tooth Fairy, learn fun smile facts and get a free toothbrush! 10:00 a.m. FREE MARCH 30 Maplewood Safety Night Maplewood Elementary School, Puyallup Join the Tooth Fairy for fun smile facts, teeth cleaning activities and get a free toothbrush! 6:00 p.m. FREE

See our calendar for an event near you TheToothFairyExperience.com Email us at Hello@TheToothFairyExperience.com to schedule your own visit. 14 • March 2020 • parentmap.com

What is OSFED? Debuted in 2013 as a catchall term for eating disorders that don’t fit the narrow criteria for anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder or avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, OSFED was previously known as eating disorder not otherwise specified, or EDNOS. Like other eating disorders, OSFED is characterized by a preoccupation with food, fears about weight gain and abnormal eating patterns that restrict someone’s ability to participate in life. Because the public doesn’t know much about OSFED, people sometimes mistakenly assume that it’s less severe or damaging than other eating disorders. This isn’t true, since the condition shares the same health risks as other eating disorders, including malnutrition, poor bone health, heart and circulation problems, and dental erosion, and can be fatal in a small percentage of cases. For someone with OSFED, an eating problem hampers their ability to fully engage in life or meet developmental milestones, but their abnormal eating doesn’t align with the established symptoms or timetable for another eating disorder, says Moore. “They may not have lost enough body weight or may be bingeing and purging just once a week. But the behavior still impacts their development and their daily routine and impairs their functioning.” What to look for Caregivers should know that eating problems can’t always be neatly defined, and most eating disorders fall outside the well-established definitions they might associate with anorexia or bulimia, says Moore. A person experiencing OSFED may not be excessively thin, appear to be dieting or rush to the bathroom to throw up after meals. Or they may hide these behaviors from their parents. Signs of OSFED may be hard to spot in a culture where body dissatisfaction is

the norm and cries of “I’m so fat!” are common. Symptoms may be subtle or show up gradually, says Moore. Behaviors such as gradually withdrawing from activities such as swimming, clothes shopping or any other that shows their body; fixating on body size and weight; avoiding family meals and asking to eat in another room instead of at the dinner table; and consuming less food around others are worrisome signs, she notes. “Parents may notice that food and body weight are a constant point of discussion for their child; they may be preoccupied with the word ‘fat,’” says Moore. “When we see repetitive weighing and measuring certain body parts, changes in behavior around food and meals, excessive exercise and avoidance of certain types of foods, we become concerned.” Getting help Eating disorders, including OSFED, can be cured, says Moore. “I use the word ‘cured’ because I have seen it happen.” Nearly three decades ago, Moore pioneered a comprehensive eating disorder treatment center in Seattle called The Moore Center. Successfully treating an eating disorder involves treating the underlying condition, often anxiety, depression or mood dysregulation, she says. “Eating disorders are a leading symptom of anxiety and depression.” Using a form of structured talk therapy called dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, THIRA’s new eating disorder treatment programs address eating disorders along with underlying mental health conditions. “We’re using the model of DBT, family-based treatment and meal monitoring to address the whole person, instead of just the diagnosis. It’s truly a holistic approach,” says Moore. Because OSFED and other eating disorders involve varied symptoms, treatment plans need to be individualized, says Moore. Recovery takes longer if patients need to restore weight or address severe nutritional deficits. While severely ill patients may benefit from hospitalization and around-theclock monitoring, others don’t need that level of support. Partial hospitalization programs like THIRA’s allow patients to continue living at home while receiving daily support, medical monitoring and counseling on-site. “At the end of the day, they can go home, sleep in their own beds and have the support of their families,” says Shea McCammant, professional relations coordinator at THIRA Health. The treatment model helps patients, together with their families, change negative patterns and also come to accept other patterns and attributes, says Moore. “We see healthy body image as radical acceptance of who you are and what your body looks like, and being able to accept and use your body the way that it is designed to perform for you.” The goal is a family culture that supports wellness, says Moore. “We’re building a wholehearted acceptance of your physical self that prevails in the family.” ■ Malia Jacobson is a journalist with a focus on health and family.

Sponsored by

The mission of THIRA Health is to support women and girls living with mood disorders by using comprehensive approaches that address the whole self, along with an emphasis on community support. This is made possible by a team of trained, certified experts skilled in using dialectical behavioral therapy, art and movement therapies, nutrition and more.

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 15


Child-Care Crunch in Washington State

16 • March 2020 • parentmap.com



tacy O’Shea’s life is about to get much more expensive. She lives in Seattle and has a 4-year-old and a newborn baby. She’s a registered nurse, and her husband works in commodities at a downtown location. While they had put their first child in a national chain day care located downtown, it cost them $2,200 a month. Adding a baby to that mix makes the cost nearly untenable. Not to mention the waiting list, which can be years long for an infant. “I estimate we have spent about $85,000 on child care since my daughter started going, at around 5 months old,” says O’Shea. “That’s pretty ridiculous.” Jennifer Hernandez lives with her four children in Olympia. She works full-time for the Department of Defense, and her husband also works full-time. After her twins were born six years ago, she found the easiest child-care route was to hire a nanny. “Finding a quality and reputable day care for two infants was difficult,” she says. “Availability was always an issue. I also would never have been able to work, as they would have had to come home with any slight fever, diarrhea or illness. The cost was also astronomical.” But nannies can be hard to manage, as well. Hernandez says they’ve gone through four in the past year, despite paying them well. The family only needs morning and afternoon care, and those hours are not as desirable for nannies who are looking for full-time work. Stacey Ferro stays at home with her two kids in North Bend, but not by choice. It’s just not cost-effective for her to continue working. She’s interviewed with the tech giants in the area — Microsoft and Amazon — but children become a stumbling block every time. “I went to a university, and my contribution to the workplace could be very significant, but you can tell in these interviews, they really don’t like mothers with young children,” says Ferro. “And do I want to take on a job just to afford to have someone else raise my children?” Kim Wright lives with her four children in Lacey. Her husband works for Pierce County, and she is a state behavioral health program manager. She uses a licensed home-care facility for her kids, a facility that took her months to find. It hasn’t always been this way. Before her current job, Wright worked nights and weekends at Starbucks, and she did all the child care during the day. She and her husband switched duties when she was on the clock. u

How area families struggle to juggle career, personal goals and raising children By Darlena Cunha

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 17


The Child-Care Crunch in Washington State continued from page 17


SAT, MAR 14 10 AM — 3 PM




DISCOVERGATES.ORG/TEENACTIONFAIR 5th & Republican across from Seattle Center

18 • March 2020 • parentmap.com

“If I had not gotten this job, I would have fallen back into stay-at-home mom,” she says. “I’ve been promoted several times, and there were a lot of opportunities for me, but, at that time, I was making $40,000.” Wright says another facility they looked at cost $36,000 a year for her younger two children, and that’s more than half her current income. All around the Puget Sound region, parents are struggling, juggling their work schedules, their personal dreams and their children. And these struggles are translating into monetary loss for businesses in the state. Research conducted by The Child Care Collaborative Task Force (CCCTF), formed by the state Legislature, found that 67 percent of Washington employers report absenteeism caused by child-care issues. “We have no backup or help when our child is sick,” says O’Shea. “Not that we want to, but you can’t send your child to school with a fever, or various other health ailments like diarrhea or vomiting. One of us has to not go to work.” Those child-related absences and turnover mean a $2 billion loss for companies, according to the CCCTF. More than half of all parents in the state either quit their job or switched to a part-time work schedule because of child-care issues, the report states. “Staying home was a very hard choice, because I wanted to work; I hadn’t planned on sacrificing my career for this,” says Ferro. “It feels like nothing is going to be feasible for me other than freelancing from home or teaching, but I want to go back to what I was good at. Everything I’d make would pay for the child care itself.” Joel Ryan, executive director of the Washington State Association of Head Start & ECEAP, says many women quit working because they cannot afford child-care centers. As fewer people can afford them, fewer child-care centers and familyhome providers are available for those in need. “It’s shrunk because they don’t have paying customers. The people can’t afford to pay them, and the state won’t subsidize, so they have to close,” says Ryan. “We are in a real crunch. While people need care more than ever, there is less and less available. It all comes down to money.” Parents simply aren’t getting enough help. While there are some state programs, very little money is allocated to help parents out, and those parents must meet rigid requirements, including being monetarily destitute, to receive aid.

We are in a real crunch. While people need care more than ever, there is less and less available. It all comes down to money.


Only 1 percent of Washington’s state budget is spent on early childhood education, according to Ryan. He says people have no idea how hard it is to qualify for that money. “People are often surprised [by] what it means to be low income here,” says Ryan. “We’re talking 100 percent below the poverty line, which is in the $20,000s for a family of four.” Despite that, there are thousands of kids not being served, even at that low-income level. Ryan says the programs are stretched thin, there is high turnover, and pay for caregivers is abysmal right now. “In order to take the burden off of parents, we need investment of tax dollars,” he says. “Parents can’t afford to pay the true cost of care, and the state doesn’t help, so it’s both unaffordable and the quality suffers. It is the worst of both worlds.” Ferro’s family is stuck in the wide gap between being able to afford child care and being poor enough to even attempt to receive any kind of help. “We actually tried to apply to put our kids on the Washington health-care system, Apple [Health], but we were denied because John makes more than the poverty line,” she says. “The problem is, we make too much to qualify for any help but not enough to be able to afford any care on our own.” Hernandez moved her children from day-care facilities because the quality of those facilities left her questioning her children’s safety. “There are a lot of in-home care providers around military bases, but you really never know who you are sending your children to,” she explains. “Also, the quality of the people that work at these facilities is always hit or miss. The employees get paid so little, but the day-care centers charge colossal fees. The parentmap.com • March 2020 • 19


The Child-Care Crunch in Washington State continued from page 19 price is usually what drives people to find care in a private sector.” Hernandez says finding high-quality early education was no easier. “Preschool was also difficult for us. Finding two slots for preschool at a reputable facility was exhausting,” says Hernandez. “We ended up settling with only two half days a week for $230 per week per child. It was not only expensive, but absolutely not worth it. Our twins learned nothing.” Ryan is hoping things change during this legislative session. He says there is acknowledgment of the need this year, which is more than they have seen in the past. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of programs like Head Start and mandatory pre-K for young children. “Kids who don’t have those opportunities end up having to stay back in grades; they are less likely to graduate high school and college,” says Ryan. “Kids in Head Start are much less likely to get involved in the criminal justice system, as well.” The little money that does go to early childhood education is being used to help the state rate providers, which is meant to help support child-care facilities to fix the quality issue. “Every day of life, I feel like I am inconvenienced due to lack of or quality of





child care. I have had to leave work the second I arrived because my nanny forgot to show up. The only reason I knew was because I have cameras in our home,” says Hernandez. “Day care is so expensive and forces our girls to get up three hours earlier than they normally do just to go sit in a facility and be bused to school.” Wright also has found good quality to be hard to pin down in area facilities. “[Many facilities] are not up to the standards that I would be excited to drop my kids off every day. You have a sense that if you are paying $22,000 a year for a place, maybe it would take your kids outside or vacuum up after snacks.”


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Washington state is currently rating providers, but Ryan says the problem is that people can’t afford high-quality care. He says these parents also need day-care facilities near them. They don’t have time to go on tours and sign up and wait out the waiting list in hopes of getting in. He says rating is the easy part. “Ratings don’t cost a lot and they do wonders for quality, but none of that





matters if people can’t afford to go there,” says Ryan. “Accessibility is key. We need to bump up the child subsidy rates, which could also lower the cost for more middle-class families who pay out of pocket.” Currently, families are forced to find their own way, be that paying prices for facility care that rival college tuition, taking their children to private-home day cares, employing people inside their homes or sacrificing their own careers to stay home with their children because that’s the most cost-effective option. “We talk in circles about it,” says O’Shea. “We have no plan at the moment. We have no other family or other support to help with any kind of child care, so logistics get tricky.” Only with a solution that comes from the inside out will the child-care situation get better, says Ryan. “Our tax system is really upside down, which is a big cause of the problem,” he says. “Lower-income people are paying a disproportionate percentage of their income, where people who make more are not, and the state never has enough money.” On the legislative docket are several bills that address this situation (educationvoters.org), including multiple finance and funding bills, several curriculum bills and a half dozen early education bills. Until then, every parent knows the struggle is real. ■ Darlena Cunha is a freelance journalist and an adjunct professor at the University of Florida.








Celebrate in style!


birthday ideas for all ages ParentMap.com/birthdays parentmap.com • March 2020 • 21










Birthday Treats That Take the Cake Unique sweets to serve to your birthday buddy instead of cake The centerpiece of a birthday party is the traditional birthday cake, candles and song. But what about the kids (and adults!) who don’t like cake? Luckily, there are lots of sweet alternatives that can take center stage on the table. Try birthday-cake pie, doughnuts, cake pops, cinnamon rolls or even Popsicles! Read on for fun, delicious alternatives to birthday cake. Candles and singing optional! Birthday-Cake Pie • dinnerthendessert.com Pie is delicious any day, and a birthday-cake-flavored pie is a great alternative to a traditional cake. The birthday cake flavor in Dinner, Then Dessert’s celebratory pie comes from mixing a bit of boxed cake mix into its no-bake filling. Confetti sprinkles are the final touch that make this dessert party-worthy. Make one pie or individual pies for each guest.

gummy bears frozen inside. Sprite plus gummy bears? Why didn’t we think of that? Even better, the recipe is dead simple to make. Churros • sugarhero.com Would you care for a treat that is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and coated with cinnamon and sugar? Yes, please! Elizabeth, author of the SugarHero blog, whipped up churros for a Cinco de Mayo celebration, but we think they would

Doughnut Cake Doughnut cakes are popular for two reasons: They are easy and they are cute! Fry or bake your own doughnuts, pick some up from the store or get fancy ones from your favorite bakery. Plain doughnuts can be frosted in one color to match the party theme colors. Then, simply stack the pastries in a pyramid shape and top with candles. Don’t forget the sprinkles! Popcorn Cake • cookiesandcups.com Cookies & Cups presents a dessert that is sweet, salty and looks pretty on the table! Mix up this no-bake confection and mold it in a Bundt or tube cake pan to create a cake-shaped birthday treat. This recipe incorporates M&Ms, but you can substitute your birthday kid’s favorite candy. Sprite and Gummy Bear Popsicles • onelittleproject.com For a summer party, consider serving up a cool perennial favorite: Popsicles. What makes One Little Project’s pops the hit of the party are the

Ice Cream Cone Krispie Treats • cookiesandcups.com Shelly, the brilliant mind behind Cookies & Cups, presents a genius idea for ice cream cone lookalikes. This treat has a bit of everything kids crave: chocolate, sprinkles, Rice Krispies treats and candy. Once they eat the “ice cream,” they will find a sweet surprise in the bottom of the cone: M&Ms! Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls • thelittleepicurean.com Not only do these cinnamon rolls from The Little Epicurean have sprinkles in the cream cheese frosting, but there are sprinkles mixed into the dough as well. As the dough proofs, the confetti sprinkles melt to create a cool tie-dye effect. Since these are baked in a 9-by-12-inch baking dish, you can put candles on the pan of rolls just like a cake. Belgian Rainbow Waffles • dinnerthendessert.com Who says waffles are just for breakfast? Make batter from scratch using Dinner, Then Dessert’s recipe (or use a boxed mix) and then color it with gel food coloring to serve up a rainbow of waffle goodness. Don’t skimp on the whipped cream clouds and fresh fruit!

be great for a birthday party. She also concocted three dipping sauces, which elevate the dish. You scream, I scream, we all scream for churros! Cake Pops, Sesame Street Style • bakerella.com Kids will laugh like Elmo when they see these super-cute Sesame Street cake pops courtesy of Bakerella. Kids love cake pops, and party hosts love that they have a built-in handle, so there’s no need for forks and plates. While these may look difficult, Bakerella offers tips to make them a little less complicated to create.

Celebrate your child’s next birthday party at

Ice Cream Sandwich Bar • yourhomebasedmom.com For a fun twist on your standard ice cream sundae bar, present an ice cream sandwich bar, stocked with an array of cookies and ice cream flavors, as well as different toppings to roll the sandwiches in. Leigh Anne, author of the blog Your Homebased Mom, offers tons of great tips, including scooping the ice cream ahead of time to make assembly easier for guests. Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer, the mother of three children and author of “Save Money on Groceries by Going Back to Basics.”

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Guide Dog Story Time, March 18

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24 • March 2020 • parentmap.com







ArtVenture: Stop-motion Animation. Join a professional artist and learn to make a stop motion film with everyday art supplies. 1–3 p.m. FREE; preregistration encouraged. Ages 4–10 with families. Henry Art Gallery, Seattle. henryart.org First Viewing at the Seattle Japanese Garden. Celebrate the garden’s reopening for the season with a dramatic Shinto blessing, tea and a tour. 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m. $4–$8; 5 and younger free; preregister. Seattle. seattlejapanesegarden.org

Tumble Tots. Drop in on this coach-led class and introduce your toddler to basic gymnastic skills. 9:30–10 a.m. Additional times offered Monday–Saturday. $12. Ages 1–3 with caregiver. Advantage Gymnastics Academy, Woodinville. advantagegym.com Open Play. A play space perfectly set up for toddlers and their grown-ups. Monday– Wednesday, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. $10; $5 for each additional child, 6 months and younger free. Ages 6 and younger with caregiver. We Free Hearts, Seattle. wefreehearts.com

Inflatable FunZone. The indoor soccer fields are taken over with inflatable slides and bouncy houses. Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m. –1 p.m. $10. Ages 1.5–12 with caregiver. Arena Sports Redmond. arenasports.net Play to Learn. Kids and caregivers gather for community play and circle time. Tuesdays, 10–11:30 a.m.; additional weekly times and locations online. FREE. Ages 6 and younger with adult. Children’s Museum of Tacoma. playtacoma.org/play-to-learn




Children’s Film Festival: Breakfast Smorgasbord. Celebrate closing day of the festival with breakfast and a short film. 9:30 a.m. (all ages) or 11:30 a.m. (ages 9 and older). $15 or $50 per family of four. Rainier Arts Center, Seattle. childrensfilmfestivalseattle.org Mini Maestros: Wacky, Wild World of Percussion. A symphony concert specially created to engage young children. 2:30 p.m. $10 adults, $7 children. Ages 2–8 with caregiver. University of Puget Sound, Tacoma. tacomaartslive.org

Holi Hai! It’s Holi! Experience the Festival of Color celebrating the arrival of spring with songs, stories and art. 4:30–5 p.m. FREE. Redmond Library. kcls.org Magic Monday. Local magicians perform in the cozy quarters of the bookstore the second Monday of every month, 7–8 p.m. FREE. Third Place Books – Ravenna, Seattle. thirdplacebooks.com

PEPS Benefit Luncheon. Gather with other PEPS parents to support a beloved community organization. 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Child care provided for ages 1.5–5. Donations requested; preregister. Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. peps.org Leprechaun Quest. Go on a hunt for magical leprechauns at shops in historic downtown Snohomish; find them all and be entered for a chance to win a prize. March 7–17, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. FREE. Snohomish. historicdowntownsnohomish.org




Irish Festival. Get your green on and celebrate Irish pride; any heritage welcome. Performances, activities, food, goods and more. March 14–15. FREE. Seattle Center Armory. irishclub.org St. Patrick’s Day at the Zoo. Watch as animals enjoy special green treats and enrichments while you count how many green animals you can find. 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Included with admission. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma. pdza.org

Open Play at Outer Space. Get the wiggles out at this new indoor play space. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. $9–$12; kids younger than 1 and adults free. Ages 12 and younger. Seattle. outerspaceseattle.com Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Bring your fav stuffed animal for story time then leave it at the library for a sleepover. Pick your friend up the next day and see pictures of what they did without you! 5–6 p.m. FREE. Black Diamond Library. kcls.org

Story Alive: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? Join an interactive story time hosted by A Step Ahead. 10–11:30 a.m. FREE. Children’s Museum of Tacoma. asapc.org Life in the Digital Age: Healthy Habits. A thought-provoking lecture for parents on navigating the digital age with awareness and safety. 6–8 p.m. FREE. Seattle Children’s Hospital. seattlechildrenshospital.org




French Fest. Festál celebrates diverse French-speaking cultures from around the world with live music, dance performances and activities for kids. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. FREE. Seattle Center Armory. seattlecenter.com/festal Vintage Computer Festival. See how far we have come in such a short time by inspecting early computers. March 21–22, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Included with admission. Living Computers: Museum + Labs, Seattle. livingcomputers.org

Live Science Show. What will today’s curiosity- inducing show be? Come find out! Presented daily at multiple times. Included with admission. Pacific Science Center, Seattle. pacificsciencecenter.org Explore Your World. Dive into STEAMbased activities and build, create or investigate. 4–5:30 p.m. FREE. Sumner Pierce County Library. piercecountylibrary.org

Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater. Have a close encounter with one of the zoo’s residents while learning about its characteristics. Daily at noon. Included with admission. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma. pdza.org A World of Music. A high-energy concert celebrating our beautiful world and all its different cultures. 10:30–11:15 a.m. FREE. Shoreline Library. kcls.org




I Dig Dinosaurs: Mesozoic Monsters. Explore all things dinosaur with your budding paleontologist at the new Burke Museum. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Included with admission. Geared towards kids ages 3–7. Burke Museum, Seattle. burkemuseum.org Evan’s Family Variety Show. See Evan, the great magician, and some of his friends for an entertainment-filled show the whole fam will enjoy. 3:30–4:30 p.m. FREE; preregister. University Heights Center, Seattle. uheightscenter.org

Origami Fun. Get folding and discover all the amazing shapes you can create with paper. 4:30–5:30 p.m. FREE. Key Center Pierce County Library. piercecountylibrary.org Kid-Struction Zone. Visit MOHAI and check out this building exhibit. Kids can pretend to be builders with rotating construction elements. Daily through Aug. 31. Included with admission. Museum of History and Industry, Seattle. mohai.org

Art Rocks Art Studio: Smorgasboard Art Project. Visit the museum today for special time in the art studio creating a smorgasboard art project. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Included with admission. Imagine Children’s Museum, Everett. imaginecm.org Story Time at The Curious Bear. Enjoy a story, songs, snacks and more involving a special weekly theme. Tuesdays, 11–11:30 a.m. FREE. The Curious Bear Toy & Book Shop, Fircrest. curiousbeartoys.com









Spring Into STEM. Kick off a season of STEM events with Imagine Children’s Museum and STEM Snohomish with loads of activities! 6–8 p.m. FREE. Imagine Children’s Museum, Everett. imaginecm.org Tot Gym. Budding acrobats are free to roam and play at the School of Acrobatics training gym. Wednesday, Friday; noon–2 p.m. Ages 2–5 with caregiver. School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts, Seattle. sancaseattle.org

Mommy & Me Movie. Bring baby along to this special screening where the lights are up and sound is down. Thursdays,10 a.m. Check website for each week’s feature. $9.75. Lincoln Square Cinemas, Bellevue. cinemark.com Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical. The iconic Nickelodeon series takes to the stage for a humorous and heartfelt performance. 7:30 p.m. $79–$169. Pantages Theater, Tacoma. tacomaartslive.org

Matilda the Musical. A play about a clever little girl on a quest to outwit her school’s evil headmistress. March 6–22. $14–$22. Auburn Avenue Theater. auburnwa.gov Free First Friday at BAM. A great day to visit the museum; free admission, extended hours and special tours and programming. 11 a.m.–8 p.m. FREE. Bellevue Arts Museum. bellevuearts.org

Seattle Holi Fest. Celebrate the ancient Hindu festival with dancing, color-throwing and performances, while supporting a great cause. Noon–4 p.m. $15; ages 12 and younger free. Bellevue Downtown Park. cryamerica.org Seuss’s Spring Fling. Come dressed as your favorite character and celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with games, crafts, cupcake and rhymes. 10 a.m.–noon. FREE. Eastside Community Center, Tacoma. metroparkstacoma.org




Caspar Babypants Visits Storytime. Jam with beloved indie-turned-kindie rocker at this special story time. 10–11 a.m. FREE. Timberland Regional Library, Olympia. babypantsmusic.com Moisture Festival Comedy/Varieté Opening Night. Musicians, acrobats, comedians and can’t-be-categorized performers present amazing variety shows. March 12–April 5. $11–$28. Most shows all-ages; see website. Hale’s Palladium, Seattle. moisturefestival.com

Wild Weather. Learn about different types of weather with an experiment and a ranger walk. 10–11 a.m. FREE; preregister. Ages 3–8. Lake Hills Greenbelt Ranger Station, Bellevue. bellevuewa.gov Emerald City Comic Con. Introduce your kids to local pop culture and geeky greatness. March 12–15. $30–$45; ages 5 and younger free. Washington State Convention Center, Seattle. emeraldcitycomiccon.com

Teen Action Fair. Find out how youth organizations are making a difference in our communities. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. FREE. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, Seattle. discovergates.org Kent Kids’ Arts Day. Let your budding artist participate in a plethora of hands-on art projects. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. $10; adults and ages 2 and younger free. Kent Commons. kentwa.gov





Guide Dog Story Time. Listen to a book about a dog’s journey to become a guide and meet a real-life guide dog! 3–4 p.m. FREE; preregister. Snoqualmie Falls Candy Shoppe, Snoqualmie. snofallcandyshoppe.com Arts & Crafts for Kids. Gather with other caregivers and tots for artsy fun at this family-friendly tap house. Alternate Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–noon. FREE. Hill City Tap House & Bottle Shop, Seattle. hillcitytapandbottle.com

State Parks Free Day. Explore our spectacular state parks FREE today in honor of our state park system’s 107th birthday. No Discover Pass required. Statewide. discoverpass.wa.gov Stunt Dog Experience. Marvel at pups performing amazing tricks in this action-packed show. Thursday–Friday, March 19–20, 7 p.m. $25. Kirkland Performance Center. kpcenter.org

Rapunzel. Laugh along at this production of the fairy tale you thought you knew; this version is full of surprises! March 20–29. $15. Bellevue Youth Theater. bellevuewa.gov The Best Summer Ever! Find out what happens to an unfortunate 9-year-old in this tale by legendary storyteller Kevin Kling. March 19–April 19; $15 and up. Seattle Children’s Theatre. sct.org

Holi Festival of Colors. Say goodbye to winter and greet spring at this joyful festival of colors; wear white and be ready to get drenched with color. Noon–5 p.m. FREE. Marymoor Park, Redmond. festivalofcolor.us Craft Saturday: Let’s Go Fly a Kite. Come to the historic cabin and welcome spring by making a paper kite of your own. 1–4 p.m. Pay-as-you-can. Job Carr Cabin Museum, Tacoma. jobcarrmuseum.org



Black Bears: Ranger-Guided Walk. Go for a walk with a ranger and learn about the bears whose habitat we share. 10–11 a.m. FREE; preregister. Ages 3–8. Lake Hills Greenbelt Ranger Station, Bellevue. bellevuewa.gov Nature Play: Beaver Lodges & Dams. Stop by the Nature Play area to learn about beavers and build a mini beaver dam. Friday–Sunday, noon–4 p.m. Included with admission. Hands On Children’s Museum, Olympia. hocm.org

Saturday Family Concert. Morgan Taylor performs his one-of-a-kind music and animation show about Gustafer Yellowgold, a little guy from the sun who visits Earth. 11 a.m.–noon. $5; ages 22 and younger free. Town Hall Seattle. townhallseattle.org Nighttime Nature Walk. Take a walk with nature experts and learn about two local animals who start their day at night. 7–8:30 p.m. FREE. Magnuson Wetlands, Seattle. magnusonchildrensgarden.org

11 Crafternoons. Drop in and get crafty at this themed craft session. Wednesdays, 2:30–3:30 p.m. FREE. Ages 4–10. Snapdoodle Toys, Redmond. snapdoodletoys.com Paint Playground. Let your tot get messy with plenty of opportunities for unstructured art-making. Monday–Friday, 9:30–11:30 a.m. $12; siblings $6. Ages 1–5 with caregiver. Seattle ReCreative. seattlerecreative.org



Drop-In Tinker Time. Check out this creative reuse center and tinker with the all the awesome supplies. Offered daily at various times; call ahead to confirm availability. $7. Ages 6 and older with caregiver. Tinkertopia, Tacoma. tinkertopia.com Pajamas and Puppets. Hop into your PJs and head to the library for puppets, stories and songs. 7–7:30 p.m. FREE. Northeast Branch Library, Seattle. spl.org


Black Bear Ranger Walk, March 27

Tugboat Storytime. Board a real tugboat for fun and stories. Second and fourth Thursdays of the month, 11 a.m.–noon. FREE. Ages 1–8 with caregiver. Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle. cwb.org Sister Act. A musical about a disco diva who is placed into witness protection. March 13–April 5. $32 and up. Ages 8 and older. The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle. 5thavenue.org

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See our calendar for events near you TheToothFairyExperience.com parentmap.com • March 2020 • 25














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Keeping Mason Bees:

10 Expert Beekeeping Tips for Families By Missy Anderson


n recent years, concerns have been mounting over the environmental impacts of pollinator decline, giving rise to focused conservation efforts by average families to protect, enhance and foster agricultural pollination through beekeeping. Keeping native non-stinging mason bees — even in urban spaces — is a surprisingly easy way to help the environment, and it’s also an inexpensive and educational project for kids. The best news is that these hyperefficient pollinators do wonders for fruit crops and gardens! In North America, there are about 140 different mason bee species — with about 200 species worldwide. Osmia lignaria, referred to as the orchard mason bee or blue orchard bee, is the most common species found in the Pacific Northwest. Orchard mason bees look very similar to common house flies, with black bodies and a dark blue iridescent sheen. Unlike garden-variety honeybees, mason bees are nonsocial creatures that nest in holes rather than in a hive with a queen. Mason bees work alone, but like to nest in groups when possible; there is no cooperation concerning the nest’s construction or the rearing of the brood, and therefore, no aggression issues! Mason bees gained their name from the way that the females protect their eggs: They’ll form an egg chamber in the deepest part of their hole and seal it with mud, repeating the process until the hole is full of eggs. Known for being solitary, hard workers, mason bees are only active for about 8–10 weeks in the spring, typically from mid-March until the end of May or early June (the best time for pollinating fruit trees and berries). The bees will then hibernate for about 10 months and later emerge with great energy for more pollination duty.

Climate-Friendly Craft: Mason Bee Tubes One way to attract mason bees to your garden is to make simple paper nesting tubes. This is an easy and fun project for small climate crusaders and can be assembled with just a few staple home craft materials: cooking parchment paper, white glue and clay. Follow the easy steps at parentmap.com/tubes.

Top 10 Mason Beekeeping Tips for Families

u Don’t be afraid. Male mason bees don’t have stingers, and, because they have no queen to protect and all of the females are fertile, they’re not aggressive. It’s still possible to get stung, though the sting is more akin to a mosquito bite than the typical bee sting.

 Pollen is important. If there isn’t enough pollen in your yard, mason bees will move on to other areas. Check out Rent Mason Bees (rentmasonbees.com) for a full list of common pollen-producing plants that work well.

Ž Keeping nesting boxes. South-facing garage, house or garden shed walls are ideal areas for establishing your nesting boxes. Families will also want to make sure that food is available within about 300 feet of the nest — this is as far as the bees will travel. Make a note of all of the plants on the list that you see in this area, and remember: These bees won’t stop at your property line — they’ll go across the street or into a neighbor’s yard for pollen if they need to. u parentmap.com • March 2020 • 27



Keeping Mason Bees

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mud for their eggs, it’s important to have open ground (without grass or bark covering) nearby. Families can also make a “mud pie,” with the soil moist but not soupy. Your little ones might be the right “chefs” for this project! Bees are weak when they first emerge from hibernation, so it’s best not to keep the mud pie directly under the nest (they could fall in).

 Choosing nesting materials. Pull-apart wooden blocks, cardboard with paper lining, drilled blocks and homemade paper tubes can all work well for nesting. Pull-apart wooden blocks can be a great material since they’re porous (allowing moisture to escape), and they’re easy to clean, sanitize and reuse. Paper products can be hard to use due to the Northwest’s damp climate, but they’re a great project for kids to make on their own. New drilled blocks must be made each year, as they can get infected with microscopic pests and cannot be cleaned. Find a tutorial for helping kids make paper mason bee tubes at parentmap.com/tubes.

‘ Observing your bees. Mason bees are fascinating to watch; they can be educational for kids in addition to being eco-friendly. Here are some fun things that kids can observe about their small and industrious new friends: • Note pollen on the female as she returns to the nest. (A clean belly means that she has mud to take home.) • When the female is adding her final mud plug, she’ll go around and around the hole’s opening as she works to close the egg chamber. • Using a flashlight at night or in the early morning, you can see the bees at rest in the front of their holes, with their eyes looking out at you. • Watch your mason bees as they work on blossoms in the yard, and notice which plants they like to frequent. • Look for the antennae that distinguish them from flies. • Learn to distinguish the males from the females by spotting the white hair on the males’ heads.

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on adult mason bees as they emerge from their nests. The bees are especially vulnerable in the early morning when they bask in the sun to warm up enough to fly, or while they’re out in the open gathering mud. For the birds, these sweet little bees are like candy — especially if they find a nesting block that happens to be filled with a lot of bees. The best way to avoid predators is to store the nest in the garage or shed at the end of the active period. If you’re using a paper product and have lots of squirrels, chicken wire can be added around the box to prevent them from pulling the tubes out and devouring the contents.


“ Setting your materials out in the spring. Nesting units need to be protected from rain and wind. Keeping them mounted with the cavities tilting slightly down will prevent rainwater from entering and creating harmful mold. Securing the nesting units will also prevent movement that could dislodge eggs or young larvae. The space left may be a mere three-eighths of an inch, but the babies are too weak to crawl back in. Nesting materials need to be set out before nesting begins (mid- to late March), since the females lay the most eggs in the beginning of the season. However, it’s also important to note that if the materials are set out too early, the progeny could be mostly males. Placing the nesting units on the south-facing side of the building is key; the bees need to warm up to 80 degrees for their wings to function. Mason bees’ black bodies can soak up rays even when it’s only 58–64 degrees outside, making exposure to direct sunlight very important.

” Caring for your bees. Just like caring for a fish tank, the bees and nesting materials need to be cleaned each fall, or families could risk losing their colony. Pests, mites and chalkbrood disease (caused by a fungus) can be greatly reduced by opening and sanitizing the nesting material each October. For families that are concerned with cleaning their materials properly, renting mason bees might be the perfect solution — you can enjoy them throughout the spring and then simply return them once they go into hibernation! Rent Mason Bees offers complete rental kits, cleans the cocoons and stores the bees over the winter for you, making it very easy to enjoy the benefits of keeping bees.

• Attracting a variety of pollinators. Fruit trees are not required in order for you to be a beekeeper; plant for all seasons, and not just for March–June. Native wildflowers with colors such as blue, purple and yellow (clover, dandelions) are recommended, along with one of the best sources for pollen: big-leaf maples. ■ Master gardener and mason bee farmer Missy Anderson (aka Queen Bee) loves sharing her knowledge of and passion for these marvelous pollinators.

The ABCs of Beekeeping Looking for a good children’s book about beekeeping? Flip through the beautifully illustrated “Bees in the City” (by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy) for a sweet take on urban beekeeping and an empowering message of how one small person can make a positive impact. Recommended for ages 4–8.

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 29




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ages + stages out + about

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48 (Really Cheap) Hours in Portland Entertaining stuff to do in Stumptown on a budget Story and photos by JiaYing Grygiel


nce a year, I book a cheap hotel room, and my kids get to eat sugary cereal, watch cartoons and go swimming. This is the life! Add in a free continental breakfast — food I didn’t have to make, dishes I don’t have to wash — and everyone is happy. This particular piece of paradise could be found anywhere, but when my family wants a change of scenery, we hone in on Hillsboro, Oregon, because there you can get a trendy suite for about $100 a night during the offseason, and it’s only a 20-minute drive to Portland. Just a three-hour drive from home,

Portland is close enough for a road trip with antsy kids, yet far enough to leverage reciprocal benefits with your family memberships in Seattle. Explore science The Pacific Science Center (pacificsciencecenter.org) is a convenient 15-minute trip from our house, but it’s got nothing on Portland’s Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI; omsi.edu). OMSI boasts five halls full of interactive exhibits, plus a 219-foot submarine moored in the Willamette River — which you can tour. OMSI admission is free when you show your Pacific Science Center parentmap.com • March 2020 • 31

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continued from page 31 membership. (Regular OMSI admission is $15 for adults, $10.50 for kids.) My kids love OMSI’s Science Playground, a hands-on exploration lab dedicated to kids ages 6 and younger. They were occupied for a full hour, and covered with glittery white sand when I finally extracted them. (Note: The Science Playground is temporarily closed because the museum is working on creating exciting new experiences for the space.) Downstairs in the chemistry lab, we made purple “flubber” (a mixture of water, glue and borax) and tested metal solutions over a Bunsen burner. I’m not going to lie, it made my tiger-mom heart skip a beat to see my kids in a lab wearing safety goggles, even if that meant goggle imprints on our faces for the rest of the day. The enormous Turbine Hall is filled with hands-on mini science projects. You can build a paper helicopter to test in the wind tunnel, try your hand at math brainteasers or launch water bottle rockets. In the Life Science Hall, I walked my kids through an exhibit showing human development in utero, from conception to birth, with real specimens. For any woman who has ever carried a baby, the exhibit is deeply unsettling and unforgettable. Pro tip: OMSI’s swanky in-house restaurant, Theory, is yummy and affordable. Lunch for our family of four came in at $25. Ride the aerial tram Seattle doesn’t have any gondolas, so I had to take my transportation-loving kids to try out Portland’s aerial commuter tram (gobytram.com). The tram’s waterfront terminal is located directly across the Willamette from OMSI. You can walk over to the terminal via the Tilikum Crossing, a car-free, cable-stayed bridge built in 2015. If 1,720 feet is too long of a stroll for short legs, drive across the Ross Island Bridge. A round-trip ride on the tram is an affordable $5.10, and kids ages 6 and younger ride for free. In four thrilling minutes, you zip from South Waterfront up Marquam Hill. Look out from the landing on the ninth floor of the Oregon Health & Science University Hospital on a clear day, and you’ll see Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. What a city, what a view!


Cheapskate hack: The tram is free if you’re just going downhill. If, hypothetically, you’re the type of family that will go out of your way to save paying the fare for everyone, have one person drive you up to OHSU, then pick you up at the bottom of the tram. Other Seattle memberships with reciprocal benefits The Portland Art Museum (portlandartmuseum.org) is free only if you have a patron level or higher membership with the Seattle Art Museum (seattleartmuseum.org). And yes, I’m the mom who will drag her kids through art museums — art appreciation or else. My boys lacked the attention span for the Portland Art Museum’s family tour (Sundays, 12:30 p.m.), but we did play “I spy” through the galleries, and my 8-yearold saw someone he knew (George Washington). Try visiting the museum on a Friday evening, when admission is discounted to $5 from 5 to 8 p.m., or on first Thursday, when admission is free from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s always free for kids 17 and younger, and for veterans and active-duty military. Regular admission is $20 for adults. Admission to the 64-acre Oregon Zoo (oregonzoo.org) is half price with a Woodland Park Zoo (zoo.org) membership. The highlight of the zoo is the Elephant Lands exhibit, which includes a huge indoor facility for the zoo’s resident herd. Note that the orangutan, rhino and polar bear exhibits are scheduled to reopen this year. During the warmer months, we love the free International Rose Test Garden (portlandoregon.gov), next to the zoo, but in 0320_camp_invention_1-4.indd winter it’s good to have a backup plan. My kids worked out all their wiggles at PlayDate PDX (playdatepdx.com), an indoor play gym owned by the same folks who brought us PlayDate SEA A familiar face (playdatesea.com) in at the Portland Art Museum South Lake Union. The Portland location has a castle theme, and weekday admission is cheaper than in Seattle: $4 for tots ages 3 and younger, $8 for kids ages 4 and older. Adults get in for free.


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Where to eat Portland is called “Beervana” for a reason. There are all those family-friendly breweries: Hopworks Urban Brewery (hopworksbeer.com), The Oregon Public House (oregonpublichouse.com) and Laurelwood Brewery and Public House (laurelwoodbrewpub.com), to name a few. Beer isn’t really my jam, but sushi is. One bite of Saburo’s (saburos.com) fish deliciousness in my mouth and all my Portland dreams came true. Sushi that good means there’s an insane line, but it’s worth the wait. Pros know to get there early, 30–45 minutes before the restaurant opens for its daily dinner service. While one person holds your place, the other takes the kids to kill parentmap.com • March 2020 • 33

out + about

48 (Really Cheap) Hours in Portland continued from page 33 time at the Stars & Splendid Antiques Mall (starsantique.com) around the corner. The cost of Saburo’s sushi is comparable to other sushi places, but Saburo’s portions are two or three times bigger. We spent $50 on a giant platter of sushi, stuffed ourselves silly and still left with a full to-go box. Another PDX requisite is Voodoo Doughnut (voodoodoughnut.com). Don’t waste your time standing in line at Voodoo Old Town when there’s no wait at the Davis location, just across the Burnside Bridge. My kids couldn’t believe their good luck when I handed them each a big, gooey, staggeringly sweet, jelly-filled $3 Voodoo Doll. When in Portland No trip to Stumptown is complete without a stop at the venerable Powell’s City of Books (powells.com). Powell’s claims to be the world’s largest independent bookstore, and it covers an entire city block. Head to the Rose Room for the most incredible children’s section. It’s free to browse the million-plus books on the shelves, but be warned that the store’s layout is purposely labyrinthine, so you may never escape.


34 • March 2020 • parentmap.com


Powell’s bookstore, a Portland landmark that shouldn’t be missed

Street parking is $2 an hour, and free on Sundays before 1 p.m. You won’t find it listed in any tourism guides, but your final ultimate stop in Oregon is … Costco. The savviest Seattle parents drive home with the minivan stuffed full of tax-free diapers. ■ JiaYing Grygiel is a freelance photographer and writer who lives in Seattle, where she takes too many pictures of her boys and blogs at photoj.net.




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6 Local Contests for Creative Kids in 2020

From writing poetry and prose to directing films, there’s an opportunity for all kinds of young creatives Contests are a great way to motivate young creatives to produce their best work and give them the recognition they deserve for their efforts. Plus, a chance to have work published, win cash prizes and earn bragging rights doesn’t sound too bad! Whether your kid likes writing poetry or plays, making videos, coloring, taking photos or engaging in other creative endeavors, we hope they’ll be inspired by these great prompts and opportunities around the Puget Sound area. Washington History Day Regional Contests • nhd.org The Scoop: The state hosts eight regional contests across Washington that challenge middle and high school students to become historians by turning their research and analysis into a dramatic performance, multimedia documentary, museum exhibit, website or historical research paper. The 2020 theme is “Breaking Barriers in History.” Prizes: Regional winners will advance to the state contest, and the top two in each category at the state level will go on to compete in the national contest. Awards include category awards, scholarships, outstanding affiliate entry awards and special prizes. Eligibility: Washington state students in grades 6–12 Deadline: Various, Feb. 29–March 26, depending on region Wing Luke Museum Year of the Rat Coloring Contest • wingluke.org The Scoop: Celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rat with a ratical coloring contest! Entrants can show off their skills by coloring, painting and decorating the provided coloring sheet. Judges will select the top 12 entries, after which the public will vote for their favorites online. Bonus: Kids who participate can earn free admission to the museum with their submission (and half-price admission for accompanying adults). Prizes: Seattle attractions experience (valued at over $700); three additional runners-up will receive family passes to various Seattle attractions. Eligibility: Children ages 12 and younger. Entries must be submitted in person with participating child present. Deadline: March 31, 2020 Washington State High School Photography Competition • kenmorecamera.com The Scoop: Don’t lose focus on this awesome high school photography contest! Formed by a group of high school photography instructors in the 1990s to elevate student photography, the Washington State High School Photography Competition now offers young photographers a shot at having their works exhibited in the Seattle Art Museum, see their photograph on a Jones Soda bottle and even earn some prize money. Categories include traditional silver gelatin black-and-white, abstract, animal, documentary, street photography, portrait and more. This contest has an entry fee. Prizes: Best in show $250, first place in a category $100, Jones Soda label prize and more Eligibility: Washington state students in grades 9–12 Deadline: April 25, 2020

Holocaust Center for Humanity’s Writing, Art and Film Contest 2020 • holocaustcenterseattle.org The Scoop: How does the Holocaust relate to your own life? How do individual actions make a difference? In its Writing, Art and Film Contest, the Holocaust Center for Humanity is challenging students to bring the past to the present through one of two prompts. Following the creative option, students can submit a written piece of less than 1,000 words, two-dimensional artwork or a short film of less than three minutes based on a local survivor’s story (using the Survivor Encyclopedia of Washington State on the center’s website) and how it impacts, affects or inspires them. Or, students can choose the option of writing a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee arguing why Holocaust education should be required in Washington state schools. Prizes: First place $200; second place $100; third place $50 for each category. Runners-up will have their submissions displayed in the Holocaust Center of Humanity and on the center’s website. Eligibility: Students in grades 5–12 from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska Deadline: May 1, 2020 National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) • nffty.org The Scoop: What started as the idea of three Seattle-based teenagers in 2007 is now a full-blown international festival for young filmmakers under the nonprofit The Talented Youth. The organization aims to support young artists in media arts and nurture the next generation of filmmakers. (Its youngest filmmaker to date was 5 years old!) If you’re interested in making movie magic, submit your feature, short, documentary, music video, animation or experimental films to NFFTY’s annual contest — and maybe you’ll see your film on the big screen in October. This contest has an entry fee. Prizes: $500 awarded in various student and nonstudent categories. Two filmmakers in the Pacific Northwest will be selected to attend TheNextFilmFestival International in Odense, Denmark. Specific jury and audience awards will be announced closer to the festival, so check back! Eligibility: Each film’s director must have been 24 years old or younger at time of filming. Deadline: April 10 (early), July 17 (final) Seattle Arts & Lectures’ annual Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest • lectures.org The Scoop: Every year, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) holds a writing contest to celebrate students’ wisdom, creativity and heart through poetry, prose and comics. The contest is presented in partnership with dozens of schools throughout the Puget Sound region. Last year’s theme was inspired by Zadie Smith’s essay collection “Feel Free.” Prizes: Winners and honorable mentions are selected in each category. Winners will be published on SAL’s blog. Past winners also read on stage at a SAL public program. Eligibility: Students in grades K–12 who attend Writers in the Schools partner schools. Deadline: TBA Angelica Lai is a writer and email production specialist for ParentMap.

36 • March 2020 • parentmap.com





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ages + stages

Planning to Pay Financial planning strategies for every stage of education By Gemma Alexander


hances are, when you started your family, your mind was filled with images of tiny toes and baby clothes instead of 529 plans and preschool scholarships. Few parents start out knowing just how they are going to pay for their little bundle of joy’s education journey, from early child care through college. Who knew that private school can cost as much as college and that summer camps can run a thousand or more dollars a week? Saving for college might seem even harder if you’re presently paying child-care expenses, but take heart. “Everyone can save for their kids’ education and for retirement, and no amount is too small,” says certified financial planner Ali Criss. “Just get started. That’s the hardest step.” Starting a money management habit Unless you have so much money you can unironically say, “I’ll write a check!” to pay for college, you need

a budget. Thinking about big expenses is stressful, but it’s even worse when you don’t know where you stand. Face your fears and take the time to set up a budget you can live with — there can be no financial planning without a baseline commitment to general money management. Many people swear by online budgeting tools, and there are several good ones to choose from. “It’s fantastic if you can make them work for you. But personally, I find online budgeting software overwhelming,” admits Criss. Especially if you’re budget averse, a simple Excel file or even writing out a bare-bones budget on paper every time you get paid is a good start. Subtract your fixed expenses (such as your mortgage) and variable expenses (e.g., groceries) from your paycheck to determine your discretionary income: That’s the amount you have to work with. Unless that number is zero, you can save for your child’s education. u parentmap.com • March 2020 • 39

MONTESSORI SCHOOLS 5 Inspired Ideas for Montessori-Style Learning at Home Bring Montessori home with these kid-approved design and learning ideas. 1. Gather ’round the table — With all the learning going on, the kiddos are going to need a place to spread out. Build your own table for tots. It’s such a great idea to create the ultimate project hub for the family. Bonus: Use cube chairs that double as storage for books, toys and learning materials. We all know extra storage is pure gold! 2. Easy as A-B-C — Why not add a movable alphabet to your playroom? The alphabet allows children to create words using their imagination, focusing first on the way words sound. An essential for the Montessori home, these mobile letters allow kids to truly immerse themselves in spelling and reading. 3. It’s raining books! — Are books taking over your playroom? Get them organized and on display with this neat idea for rain-gutter bookshelves (perfect for Seattle, no?). Inexpensive vinyl gutters are the perfect way to turn a corner of your playroom into an inviting and wellorganized reading nook! 4. Order up! — The ever-inventive How We Montessori blog (howwemontessori.com) offers a perfect blueprint for a food prep station that is built with 3-year-olds in mind; everything is pint-size and safe for kids to use to make any snack their tummies desire. There’s even a compost bucket! 5. And in this corner … Setting up designated learning areas is a great idea for a Montessoriinspired room. Check out the geography corner devised by the Montessori masterminds at Carrots Are Orange (carrotsareorange.com). Using maps, magazines and keepsakes, teaching can be oriented around place and cultures. You could even switch out the objects based on learning about different places in the world. Get full details and more home-based Montessori makeover ideas at parentmap.com/montessoridesign. — Shar Petit

40 • March 2020 • parentmap.com

ages + stages

Planning to Pay continued from page 39 Setting priorities “Don’t sacrifice retirement for education,” says Criss. “It’s important to your children that you have a retirement.” Ideally, you would max out your 401(k) contributions before starting to save for college. But many of us will never have that much to save and will have to set aside smaller amounts for retirement and college at the same time. “Start where you’re at, no matter how low. Even $25 a month helps, because of the time value of money. The sooner you save, the less you actually have to set aside,” she notes. Once you have a regular savings habit, you can always circle back around to your budget to find ways to save more. Paying for college College is the last educational expense you’ll have to pay for your child, but it’s the first one you should think about. It’s never too early to start saving for college. For most families, that means starting a tax-advantaged 529 plan. There are two types of 529 plans: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans. Washington state’s GET program (Guaranteed Education Tuition; get.wa.gov) is a prepaid tuition plan. “A lot of Washington families are using a combination of Washington GET and a regular 529,” says Criss. “Some are using GET to pay for two years and a marketbased 529 for the rest, or GET for all four years and another 529 for graduate school.” But, she adds, “Don’t think you have to pay 100 percent of all four years of college. Part-time jobs and student loans teach kids useful skills for later in life.” So, save as much as you can, then follow consumer banking company Sallie Mae’s 1-2-3 approach to paying for college (salliemae.com/college-planning). First, look for money you don’t have to pay back. Most of this will come in the form of grants and scholarships directly from your child’s chosen school. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to apply for private scholarships, too. Second, pursue federal loans, which have low fees and subsidized interest rates. Third, shop for private loans. Private college counseling services may help your child choose an affordable school and maximize their financial aid. Managing child-care costs Nobody really gets a chance to save for child-care expenses, which can begin within weeks of birth. Truly affordable child care is rare, but don’t feel like you have to throw money at the problem, either. The most expensive option is not necessarily the best. Figure out what works best for your family and then file the cost under “fixed expenses.” “Sometimes it is less expensive for one partner to not work during the early years,” says Criss. Especially if you have more than one preschool-age child, day-care expenses may exceed one person’s income. Or, if you have the flexibility, juggling schedules or calling in extended family to help can reduce the number of hours of child care you have to pay for. A nanny-share arrangement with another family or a student au pair can be cheaper than other full-time options. Don’t forget to check with your employer’s HR department to see if any childcare assistance benefit is available to you. On-site child care at one’s workplace, when it exists, is often discounted for employees. You may also be able to save by using a dependent-care flexible spending account to pay for child care using pretax dollars. Finally, military families and families with significant need may be eligible

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ages + stages

Planning to Pay

SPP is open to: • 3 and 4-year-old children who live in Seattle SPP classrooms have: • Nationally-recognized curriculum EDUCATION RESOURCES • Daul language instruction atPLANNING some sites SPP Program offers: careschool day • Child Full 6-hour • Tuition on a sliding scale a guide to finding child care, which includes Childcare.gov provides Seattle.gov/applyspp information on fee assistance programs for active military members, 206-386-1050 | preschool@seattle.gov child-care subsidies and publicly funded child-care options. Working Connections Child Care (parenthelp123.org) is an incomebased program that can help families pay child-care costs. Seattle Child Care Assistance Program (seattle.gov) helps eligible families living within Seattle city limits to pay for child care for children as old as 13 years. A Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA; fsafeds.com) is a pretax benefit account used to pay for eligible dependent-care services, such as preschool, summer day camp, before- or after-school programs, and child or adult day care.

SPP is open to: SPP is open to 3and 4-year-old children • 3 and 4-year-old children who live in Seattle who live in Seattle SPP classrooms have:

SPP offers: • Nationally-recognized curriculum • Full 6-hour school daylanguage instruction at some sites • Daul • Free or sliding-scale tuition SPP ProgramSeattle.gov/applyspp offers: 206-386-1050 • Specialized programs • atFull 6-hour school day Tuition on a sliding scale some sites (including• dual preschool@seattle.gov Seattle.gov/applyspp language and inclusion)

College planning A Washington GET account (get.wa.gov) helps families save and prepare for the costs of higher education.

206-386-1050 | preschool@seattle.gov

SPP classrooms have: • Nationally-recognized curricula

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Saving for College (savingforcollege.com) helps families start, track and increase their child’s college savings.

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DIY College Rankings (diycollegerankings.com) is chock-full of resources to help families choose an affordable college and maximize financial aid. Federal Student Aid (studentaid.gov) is the official website of the U.S. Department of Education. Money management Online budget tools Mint (mint.com) Trim (asktrim.com) You Need a Budget (youneedabudget.com) Quicken (quicken.com) Automatic savings apps Acorns (acorns.com) Digit (digit.co) Qapital (qapital.com) Financial education Smart About Money (smartaboutmoney.org) is a program of the National Endowment for Financial Education that offers free online money management courses. “The Feminist Financial Handbook: A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Wealthy Life” by Brynne Conroy “The Wealthy Barber: Everyone’s Commonsense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent” by David Chilton

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continued from page 40 for financial assistance (see Education Planning Resources sidebar). Footing the bill for private school As with child care, don’t assume that the most expensive private school option is the best one. “I encourage people to look at public schools. Some of them are better than private schools. And if you have to sacrifice soccer and other outside activities to pay for private school, it may not be worth it,” suggests Criss. But if you have looked at your public school options and decided private is still the best choice for your family, there are ways to make it more affordable. Your first step is to check with the school itself. Most private schools have a limited number of scholarships available, but if you are eligible, these will make the biggest difference. The book “How to Find Scholarships and Free Financial Aid for Private High School” by Shay Spivey may help you find additional outside scholarships. Under the new tax law, parents can use their 529 savings to pay for elementary and high school tuition. Because you are reducing your college savings, this may not make sense for your family. Finally, families can often get discounts for paying tuition up front at the beginning of the year. If you use a cash-back rewards credit card to pay tuition in full, you can save even more — just make sure you can pay off the credit card before interest fees negate the discount.

Covering enrichment costs Sports such as skiing and horseback riding are more than just hobbies, they are lifestyle choices requiring significant investment. But even activities that don’t require as many resources can quickly get expensive, thanks to coaching fees, and costs of gear and travel to competitions. “How much you spend depends on the activity and how interested your child is. It’s totally subjective how much your family is willing to sacrifice,” says Criss. For the kids who are both passionate and talented, national organizations for many sports have scholarship programs that can help pay for travel and participation fees. Olympian Ross Powers set up the Level Field Fund (levelfieldfund.org), which provides grants to athletes who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford attending major qualifying competitions. But no matter how serious your child is about an activity, Criss suggests that you continue saving for college. Savings are certain, athletic scholarships are a long shot. If your child remains uninjured and avoids burnout, you can always withdraw (with some penalties) from your 529 plan to pay for major competitions. Otherwise, like figure skater Bradie Tennell, you might have to start a GoFundMe campaign to pay for your family’s trip to the Olympics. ■ Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer with two daughters. She blogs about the arts and spends too much time on Twitter @gemmadeetweet.


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SCHOOLS + PRESCHOOLS How to Use Positive Self-Talk to Improve Your Child’s Academic Performance Years ago, French physician Émile Coué caused quite a stir when he claimed to have managed to heal patients simply through the power of affirmations. He asserted that patients to whom he spoke about a medicine’s effectiveness healed faster than those to whom he said nothing. This would later become known as the placebo effect. In one interview, Coué claimed, “Auto-suggestion is nothing more than a method of obtaining this control [of the subconscious mind], by hypnotizing the mind, so that it will act in the way we wish. This, I have found, can be accomplished by repeating over and over again what we wish to convince our subconscious mind is true.” Coué and his well-known mantra, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better,” set the stage for what would develop into the theory of auto-suggestion. This theory proposes that our thoughts can lead to positive or negative outcomes. As can be expected, a theory claiming that one can use the subconscious mind to heal came up against much criticism. One of the greatest challenges facing Coué’s theory of autosuggestion was the absence of scientific proof. Skepticism was rife, and critics have continued to say that uttering positive self-statements “may benefit certain people, but backfire for the very people who ‘need’ them the most.” But what if Coué had been right? What if positive words really do lead to positive results? Studies conducted years after Coué’s affirmations seem to point in this direction. Several researchers have found that auto-suggestion helps improve problem-solving and creativity under stress. Others have found that it can help increase confidence. Still other researchers have found that auto-suggestion is an effective way to increase self-compassion and prosocial behavior. The latest study to come to a somewhat similar conclusion was conducted by researchers from Utrecht University, the University of Applied Sciences in Leiden, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Southampton. The researchers wanted to know whether positive selftalk would have a positive impact on the math performance of children with low levels of self-confidence in their math abilities; 212 10-year-old children participated in the study. The children were first asked about their competence beliefs and then they were requested to complete the first half of a standardized math test. They were then divided into three groups. The first group was asked to engage in “effort self-talk” (I will do my very best); the second group in “ability self-talk” (I am very good at this); and the third group in “no self-talk.” Students who engaged in self-talk were asked to quietly repeat the self-talk statements for at least 30 seconds. They were then asked to write down the self-talk phrase and encouraged to repeat it while working on the second part of the test.

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The study found that children performed better when they engaged in “effort self-talk” than when they engaged in “ability self-talk” or in no self-talk. The researchers found that engaging in self-talk may help struggling children focus on their effort rather than on their lack of ability. Findings from this study and other available scientific research suggest that positive self-talk can be a powerful tool to help your child deal with difficult situations. It can help improve academic performance and increase self-confidence and a sense of overall well-being. That said, self-talk can only be effective if it is applied appropriately. Here are four ways you can start applying positive self-talk today: 1. Focus on realistic affirmations. If your child does not believe in the affirmations he is saying, those affirmations will not work. Simply saying “I will win the race” will not make your child run faster. Helping your child focus on effort will help him get better results when using positive self-talk. Here are a few examples of affirmations that focus on effort: • I’ll do my best. • I’ll try. • I’ll give it my best shot. • I’ll learn from my mistakes. • I’ll get better with time. 2. Be a model. If your child hears you using positive self-talk, she’s likely to start using positive self-talk, too. Getting in the habit of using sentences such as “I’ll give it another try” is an easy way to get your child accustomed to using positive effort self-talk. 3. Don’t just stop at positive self-talk — find a way to link your child’s words to his actions. Why do people, with time, get better at doing things? Because they practice, because they learn from their mistakes and because they never give up. Positive self-talk (“I’ll get better with time”) also means doing specific actions to ensure success (“I’ll do exercises for 10 minutes a day”). Your child will do better when he is capable of associating his affirmations to the specific actions that will help those affirmations come true. 4. Do not ignore your child’s personality. The most powerful affirmations are those that align with your child’s personality. The affirmations that work with one of your children could fail miserably with another. Asking your child to participate in determining effective affirmations can be a solution to adopting effective positive self-talk practices. The most important thing to remember when using positive selftalk with your child is that for affirmations to work, they have to be consistent with your child’s internal beliefs, so show her that she is special and capable of achieving more than she could ever imagine. Sanya Pelini, Ph.D., is a parent and holds a doctorate in educational research.

SCHOOLS + PRESCHOOLS Safe, Half-day Preschool Program September 2020, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9am-12pm Calvary Christian Assembly Church has been a pillar of the Roosevelt community in North Seattle for almost 100 years. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your child to a fun and safe school environment before they make the big jump into kindergarten.

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Meet David Lewis This researcher and father is ensuring that schools value more than just academics By Rory Graves


t’s like what Mister Rogers did, but with neuroscience” is how I found myself describing the groundbreaking work David Lewis is doing for Seattle Public Schools (SPS). I wasn’t being glib — after all, any comparison to Mister Rogers is the highest form of praise. Lewis, a doctor of psychology candidate with an impressive list of accreditations — M.A., LMHC, CMHS — is in his second year of serving as the director of Behavioral Health Services for Seattle Public Schools, a department that focuses on educational practices that align with social-emotional learning research and trauma-informed practices. What does that mean? “Really, it’s just the melding of neuroscience and health,” explains Lewis. “If schools aren’t healthy or schools are anxiety-provoking, [the resulting] anxiety does damage in lots of various ways. And anxiety right now in our current day and age is much higher than it used to be.” If unaddressed, says Lewis, the anxiety can manifest as many of the same behaviors we see in ADHD and other behavioral disorders. Lewis’ work comes at a crucial time for Seattle schools, as a booming economy and gentrification have exacerbated education inequities across the region. Students of color in the district have some of the largest achievement gaps in the country, and discipline policies in the district have faced substantial scrutiny.

How did you choose your career path and what keeps you going? Growing up, I saw peers of mine who ended up doing really well in life, while others made decisions that ended in less than ideal circumstances — outcomes such as drug use, incarceration, etc. I grew to understand that those outcomes were indicative of the broader environments around them, including school. So much of the way a child sees themselves, and the world around them, is defined by school experiences. The hope is that their out-of-school experiences can also be productive and positive, which is where the Whole Child Whole Day project comes into play, focusing on school, home, community and a recommendation to find extracurricular or recreational activities for every kid to take part in. My dad died when I was 15, and because these environments around me were mostly positive, I ended up doing okay. How can this model help already overburdened schools deal with struggling students and discipline policies? Unaddressed and chronic anxiety can lead to the

Through years of research, Lewis has witnessed the power that schools have in shaping who children become. Building on this previous research, including work Lewis has done, Seattle Public Schools has implemented a multitiered system of support (MTSS), based on the idea that the needs of the whole child must be considered for a student to reach their greatest potential: academic, social, emotional and behavioral. Lewis uses his background to shape programs and policies in the district, including the Whole Child Whole Day (WCWD) project, a model that identifies environmental risk factors for many students, and then addresses them by putting protective factors in place. WCWD has been rolled out at 18 of Seattle’s 104 schools, with plans to increase the scale of the program this year. “A child is developing 24 hours a day,” says Lewis. “And a child spends about 37 hours in a school context each week, and only around 15 hours outside of school during their waking hours. So much of a child’s development — socially, emotionally, their identity — is happening during the school day.”

wrong diagnoses when it comes to addressing and treating behavior problems, says Lewis. Chronic stress doesn’t just impact those students who are struggling academically or facing school discipline. It can also impact students who may be struggling with perfectionism. If you aren’t addressing the right thing — through discipline, through an individualized education program, through the proper supports — a plan won’t work. If the plan doesn’t work, then you have these kids who are looking at themselves as not doing well, not smart enough, not good enough as time goes on, and those thoughts shape outcomes. Lewis shares an anecdote about the two kinds of calls he has received at the district office. You hear buzzwords like “safety issue,” and the conversation centers around moving that student out of his or her current school. Then there’s the calls where they discuss the challenges the student is facing, and ask, “Can you support us in keeping this child?” When I hear that, I know the outcome will be different. With the right supports — at home,

at school — we can build that student up and put a plan in place to help them succeed. What can parents do at home to help create an environment that aligns with the research you are doing? Whether I am talking to a parent or a teacher, it comes down to high expectations and high support, consistency and predictability, and engagement styles that hold kids accountable but let kids know they are loved, cared about and supported. Tell your kids you love them every night before they go to bed. That’s the same world they wake up to. And if your student is struggling, work with your child’s school to help make a plan that works for everybody. What’s the future of this program? When the largest public school north of San Francisco adopts a new program, other districts get curious. My hope is that 10 years from now, these things I am naming with an acronym or with research — we might just call that school. ■ Rory Graves spends her days with her handsome husband, three children and a yard full of chickens.

parentmap.com • March 2020 • 47












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