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A 2020 special supplement by

A Madison-area parent’s guide to everything kids!

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76% of children haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam by age

March 19, 2020

10% of children have eye-teaming problems, which can make words appear or



but by this age children should have had three.

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KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 3

March 19, 2020

Social emotional learning prepares students for challenges of outside world KIMBERLY WETHAL Unified Newspaper Group

Photos by Kimberly Wethal

Kindergarteners do yoga during a mindfulness session on Thursday, Nov. 7, at Stoner Prairie Elementary School, as a part of the school’s social emotional learning curriculum.

as a method of dealing with stress, Thompson-Kapp added. “It’s not my mission to have this just happen in this space,” she said. “We want it to transfer back into the classroom.” Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @ kimberly_wethal.

Musicc M

On any given day at Stoner Prairie Elementary School in Fitchburg, students are doing yoga, not only for physical wellness, but emotional wellness, too. It’s part of a trend in K-12 schools, where educators are not only teaching students academic material, but taking a holistic look at education to include understanding emotions, achieving positive goals and having empathy for others. Having the social-emotional learning curriculum take shape through Stoner Prairie’s mindfulness room allows staff to address student mental health and teach kids from an early age how to recognize their emotions and manage and work through them, principal Tammy Thompson-Kapp said. “When we think about society in general, the amount of anxiety, depression – mental health is a big topic in our society,” she said. “Many, including myself at times, have a hard time coping with emotions and stress and all of the responsibilities that come my way.” The Verona Area School District, where Stoner Prairie is located, is one of many school districts throughout Wisconsin implementing social emotional learning. Some districts, such as Racine and Adams-Friendship, use it to create safe learning environments for students. “It’s about teaching the whole child,” a video from the Racine school district on the state Department of Public Instruction’s website says. “It’s about really giving the skills to the students that will help them be successful beyond school.” According to the DPI’s website, social emotional learning

Junior Session June 21-27 Students completing grades 6-8

Kindergarteners in Jessica Reed’s class do the “dead bug” pose during a mindfulness session.

concepts increase test scores by an average of 11 percentile points, and they can help kids develop “soft skills,” which make up the majority of what hiring managers are looking for in new employees. Stoner Prairie’s Parent Teacher Organization provided the school with a grant to put the room together, purchasing yoga mats, calming light fixtures and tools such as foam blocks to make completing yoga exercises easier for students. It’s resulted in teaching students how to manage emotions and help regulate their learning, Thompson-Kapp said. And it’s played a part in reducing office referrals, which allows students to stay in classrooms, rather than be removed

Senior Session June 28-July 3 Students completing grades 9-12

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4 – Unified Newspaper Group - KIDS

March 19, 2020

All young and games NEAL PATTEN

Noble Knight Games

Unified Newspaper Group


Slaying an Owlbear, summoning a Woolly Thoctar or pitting a Venusaur against a Magikarp can sound like bizarre tasks, but to a growing number of youths, they’re a part of tabletop and card games that provide a creative and social outlet. Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering and the Pokémon trading card game are some of the most popular roleplaying and strategic games being played today, each having tens of millions of players worldwide. Children and young adults who want to join in the resurgence of older favorites such as Dungeons and Dragons and be a part of the growth of newer classics such as Magic the Gathering have several opportunities in Verona and Fitchburg. The Verona library offers Dungeons and Dragons meetups once a month for two age groups: a tweens group for ages 8-11 and a teens group for ages 12-18; a monthly Pokémon club for ages 6-11; and a Magic the Gathering trading card game group for ages 8-18. “Tabletop gaming is a way to meet new friends with similar interests,” said Mary Ostrander, youth services librarian at Verona Public Library, 500 Silent St. “It offers an opportunity for kids to develop skills critically and socially.” The groups, which are geared toward being a weekday afterschool activity, meet on Wednesdays or Thursdays once a month, always at 4 p.m. “We welcome all skill levels to our gaming programs no matter if you are a beginner or have played for years. The library wants to give kids and teens a chance to explore their

2835 Commerce Park Drive, Fitchburg, WI 53719 758-9901 nobleknight@nobleknight.com Store Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

Verona Public Library 500 Silent St., Verona, WI 53593 608-845-7180 mostrander@ci.verona.wi.us interests and meet people who have similar hobbies,” Ostrander says of the programming. Kids can also play in clubs at Noble Knight Games, 2835 Commerce Park Drive, Fitchburg, although they might sometimes play alongside adults. “The majority of clubs we host here currently have more adult players than child players, but are mostly open to players of all ages,” said Jess Carrier, Noble Knight’s storefront manager. Located in a 5,500 square foot retail space directly below the city’s water tower, the business opened a physical location in Fitchburg in November 2018, after operating as an onlineonly business out of Janesville for years. Noble Knight claims to offer the largest selection of games under one roof in the world. Its selection includes tabletop games, board games, card games, role-playing games and related accessories and supplies. It, too, offers meetups for Magic the Gathering and Dungeons the Dragons, in addition to other popular gaming titles such as the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game and Warhammer tabletop strategy game. The store’s Dungeons and Dragons meetups typically draw about 40 players spread across seven tables. Carrier said the store has been making an effort to coordinate one or two tables per meetup for younger kids. She says typically there are around eight players in the 9-16 age range. Noble Knight also offers get-togethers to play around a dozen other games that are growing in popularity. Marvel Crisis Protocol and Batman Miniature are both tabletop miniatures games set in the well-known superhero comic book franchises, which Carrier said are age-appropriate for a younger set. The store also offers workshops for ages 10 and older on how to hand-paint the miniature figures used in such games. “There are not a lot of games for kids,” Carrier said. “We try to find games for families to enjoy together, but try to make sure it’s not boring for the adults, making them want to stop playing.” For gaming meetup times offered by Verona Public Library and Noble Knight Games, visit veronapubliclibrary.org/events or nobleknight.com/brick-and-mortar. For any game on the Noble Knight events calendar, patrons can visit the store during store hours and staff will teach them how to play, even if it’s outside of the scheduled meetup time. “We love to see families coming out to play together,” Carrier said. “It can be soothing for the entire family.” Neal Patten can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.

KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 5

March 19, 2020

Four educational apps for children MACKENZIE KRUMME


Unified Newspaper Group

This app has more than 9,000 educational activities in the areas of math, language arts, science and art. Children can choose between puzzles, games, printable activities, songs and books. There is also a virtual map that tracks how your child progresses through the different levels. It’s recommended for children 2-8 years old, and was the No. 1 choice in a 2019 Good Housekeeping Institute survey. Contact Mackenzie Krumme at mackenzie.krumme@wcinet.com.

Parents deserve a break. And as moms and dads are snapping photos, checking Snapchat and playing Bejeweled on their own phone, children will often ask for some personal screen time. A study from the National Institute of Health and Boston University School of Medicine concludes that children can’t learn from devices the way they can in real life – meaning the skills learned from creating a puzzle on an iPad don’t transfer to creating a puzzle on your kitchen table. If the material is educational, however, such as vocabulary acquisition or reading electronically, it can be beneficial to the child, according to the BUSM study. So if guardians are looking for 15 uninterrupted minutes to make a phone call or wait in the doctor’s office, here are some educational applications:

Epic! The Epic! App is a free tool offered to librarians and educators. A popular feature of this app is the narrated slideshows, which according to the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies study, is similar to the automated version of reading a book. The app the option of narrated slideshows in categories such as science, nature, math and space. eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-05/pas-nsm042618.php

YouTube Kids With nearly 5 billion videos, YouTube is often regarded as the main platform to view free videos. The YouTube kids app has new parent controls that allow guardians to monitor and restrict what children are watching. The controls include blocking specific content, turning off a child’s searching ability and monitoring children’s search history.


Audible With the slogan, “Listening is the new reading,” Audible, an audiobook app, has nearly 500,000 titles. Guardians have the option to purchase audiobooks to listen to over and over again, or go through the South Central Library system where listeners are able to check out free audio books from the library.

The federal government, through the National Institute of Health, has launched a study to understand how screen time affects the physical structure of the brain. Scientists are interviewing more than 11,000 children over the next decade. The study, which is costing $300 million, will look at brain scans of children and see how the brain changes with recurring exposure to screen time.


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March 19, 2020

3 tips to establishing a successful homework area High school students have a lot on their plates. Today’s parents often lament that kids’ schedules are far more hectic than their own schedules were when they were teenagers. But for many high school students, a familiar foe their parents have no doubt encountered is proving a considerable source of stress. Homework has long been the bane of high schoolers’ existence. Studies regarding just how much homework is being assigned to teenagers are somewhat outdated, which makes it difficult to determine just how much work kids are being asked to do after school lets out. A 2014 survey from the University of Phoenix found that high school teachers assign, on average, 3.5 hours of homework per week. Multiply that figure by five, which is the number of different teachers many high school students have in a typical school day, and the survey concluded that high school students may be expected to complete as much as 17.5 hours of homework per week. Though the study, which is the only one of its kind to be conducted in recent years, is older, there’s little reason to suspect today’s high school students are being asked to do any less than their predecessors were in 2014. While parents might not be able to do much to lessen their children’s homework workload, they can take steps to ensure their homes are as homework-friendly as possible. The following are three ways to do just that.

Encourage younger siblings to leave the homework area and play quietly or read elsewhere in the home.

3. Include a break between school and homework time.

Much like parents may like a few minutes to unwind when getting home from work at night, kids likely won’t want to dive right into their homework after getting home from school. A break between the school day and homework time can help kids clear their heads so they’re more capable of concentrating 1. Create a communal homework table. when they sit down to do their work. The Harvard Graduate School of Education notes that A good work environment at home can help kids live up to youngsters who seem reluctant to do their homework may ben- their academic potential. efit from doing their afterschool work at a communal table. Metro News Service With parents nearby, such students may feel less lonely and may be less likely to procrastinate if they know mom or dad “Though the study, which is the only one of its are nearby. Students who are not reluctant to do their homekind to be conducted in recent years, is older, there’s little work may benefit from working quietly in their bedrooms.

2. Clear the area of distractions. Distractions like televisions, devices that are not necessary to complete assignments and even younger siblings can make it hard for teenagers to concentrate on their work. Designate a time each day for homework, ensuring that the television is off and that devices have been placed on “Do Not Disturb.” In addition, high school students with younger siblings can expect their brothers and sisters to be finished with their homework first. Make sure youngsters recognize the importance of staying quiet until everyone has finished their homework.

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reason to suspect today’s high school students are being asked to do any less than their predecessors were in 2014. While parents might not be able to do much to lessen their children’s homework workload, they can take steps to ensure their homes are as homework-friendly as possible. The following are three ways to do just that.”

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KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 7

March 19, 2020

How to prevent busy kids from overextending themselves Today’s teenagers are busy. According to the American Time • Teach kids time management skills. Time management skills Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average can help kids make effective and efficient use of their time. high school student spends just under an hour and a half each Encourage kids who are struggling with their schedules to weekday participating in extracurricular activities that include use a calendar to plan their weeks. Knowing what’s expected playing sports, working/volunteering and religious activities. of them each day can help kids develop a plan to get everyWith so much do and lots of encouragement to participate thing done. In addition, when kids make a list of their daily in their communities, teens can easily find themselves overactivities, parents can go over that list with them to see if extended. Extracurricular activities are important, and some they’re taking on too much. Discuss the calendar with kids, have even been linked to improved academic performance. But and if kids express feelings of exhaustion or burnout, go it’s equally important that high school students avoid burnout, through the calendar to see where they can free up some which can adversely affect their academic performance and time, even if it means cutting some activities out of their how much they enjoy school and other activities. schedules entirely. • Teach kids the art of prioritizing. Parents know that some tasks are more important than others. But kids may not be so savvy. Teach kids how to prioritize, emphasizing that academics always come first. Give kids some credit if they’re initially resistant to dropping some activities, as that can indicate an admirable willingness to commit. But emphasize that school comes first, and that activities that are low priority might need to be sacrificed during the school year. In addition, point out that certain activities that are not schoolrelated can be revisited in the summer, when kids typically have less hectic schedules. Burnout can be harmful to high school students. Parents can work with their children to ensure they aren’t overextending themselves. Metro News Service

According to Understood.org, a website sponsored by 15 nonprofit organizations devoted to helping parents of kids between the ages of three and 20, procrastination, negative attitudes, testiness, difficulty concentrating, and a disinterest in things kids once liked are some potential indicators of burnout. Parents who notices any of these signs in their children might want to look at their kids’ schedules to see if their children are simply taking on more than they can chew.


Parents can employ various strategies to help busy teenagers avoid overextending themselves. • Learn the signs of burnout and look for them. Even the most overextended teenager probably enjoys many of the activities he or she engages in. So it’s unlikely that kids will self-report burnout to their parents, teachers, coaches, or other authority figures. Parents can learn to spot the signs of burnout to identify if their child is overextended. According to Understood.org, a website sponsored by 15 nonprofit organizations devoted to helping parents of kids between the ages of three and 20, procrastination, negative attitudes, testiness, difficulty concentrating, and a disinterest in things kids once liked are some potential indicators of burnout. Parents who notices any of these signs in their children might want to look at their kids’ schedules to see if their children are simply taking on more than they can chew.

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March 19, 2020

How to foster a love of music in children captivated by seeing musicians perform in person. When Music enriches people’s lives in myriad ways. Age is of no consideration when it comes to benefitting from and appreciatpossible, take youngsters to concerts, local music festiing music, but it seems that young people in particular have a vals and/or restaurants that showcase local musicians. Such lot to gain from music education. excursions may prompt youngsters to want to learn how to play, which can provide a host of additional benefits, even According to the New England Board of Higher Education, for especially young children. In fact, a 1996 study published various studies have found that consistent music education in Nature found that first grade students who took part in can improve vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. In music classes during art study programs experienced marked addition, the National Association for Music Education says improvement in reading and math proficiency. that research has found a significant relationship between arts Music enriches people’s lives in various ways, and exposure participation at school and academic success. Parents who want their children to reap the benefits of being to music at a young age can be especially valuable to children. Metro News Service involved with music can try the following strategies aimed at fostering a love of music in young people. • Turn the television off and turn music on. Exposing youngAccording to the New England Board of Higher sters to music is one of the simplest and most effective ways Education, various studies have found that consistent music to get them to embrace it. For example, in lieu of turning on education can improve vocabulary and reading the television while preparing meals, parents can play music comprehension skills. In addition, the National instead. Let youngsters pick their own songs or mix it up by including some of mom and dad’s favorites as well. Such Association for Music Education says that research has exposure can be incredibly valuable for youngsters. In fact, found a significant relationship between arts participation a 2016 study from researchers at the University of Southat school and academic success. Parents who want their ern California found that musical experiences in childhood accelerate brain development. Music is especially effective at children to reap the benefits of being involved with music helping children in language acquisition and reading. can try the |following strategies aimed at fostering a • Replay kids’ favorite songs. Another way to build kids’ love of music in young people. enthusiasm for music is to replay some of their favorite songs. While mom and dad may cringe at the prospect of hearing “Baby Shark” several times in a row, they should take note of how enthusiastic their kids become when hearing a favorite song. And that enthusiasm can benefit their language skills as they listen closely to the lyrics in an effort to memorize the words. Youngsters may not be so receptive if they don’t like what they’re hearing. • Dance to music. Kids are bundles of energy, and dancing is a fun way for them to expend some of that energy. Dancing also provides a great reason to play music. Physical activity set to music can help kids burn off some extra energy as they develop their brains, making dance sessions a win-win for both parents and children. • Embrace opportunities to see live music. Kids are often

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KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 9

March 19, 2020

Tips when booking a babysitter Babysitting services today have changed from the days of • S pell out your wishes. Make it clear to sitters what you ringing the resident babysitter and asking if she was free for expect of them. Does the child have a special blanket or feedthe evening. Rising rates and technology have changed the ing ritual? Are there any minor medical issues that need to be face of babysitting. addressed? Are certain snacks off limits? Do not create room According to UrbanSitter’s 2019 National Childcare Rate for misinterpretation, especially if a child has any food allerSurvey, babysitting can be lucrative. The average hourly rate gies or a specialized diet. of $16.75 for one child and $19.26 for two children shows how • Develop a solid relationship. UrbanSitter says 58 percent of rates have escalated. those surveyed hire a sitter at least once a month or more freCost is one, but not the only, consideration when choosing quently. A good rapport with the sitter ensures he or she will babysitters. The following are some ways parents can manage take the job when called on. the process of booking babysitters. • Consider a nanny cam. • R ecognize the changing pool of applicants. UrbanSitter’s If you agonize when cofounder Lynn Perkins says that parents can hire nurses, leaving home, check in teachers, psychologists, therapists, and other specialists to via a smart house camwatch their children. Babysitting now attracts an array of era, which helps you care providers and is no longer just for teenagers looking to keep an eye on things earn some spending money. w h i l e y o u ’r e aw a y • Properly vet applicants. Friends, family members and neighfrom home. bors can be an excellent source of information and even recBabysitters are a ommend local sitters. But thanks to the internet and online necessity for busy caregiving services, parents can cast a wider net when lookfamilies. While many ing for qualified sitters. things about babysitting • D iscuss rates in advance. The going rate for sitters has have changed over the increased. Babysitters and the people who need them should years, the need for relihave a frank conversation about rates to avoid confusion. Ask able, responsible sitters sitters to text their rate so everything is in writing. For those unsure of what to offer, check sites like Care.com or contact remains. a local youth-employment office. Metro News Service


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10 – Unified Newspaper Group - KIDS

March 19, 2020

Get your head in the game Youth sports tournaments from April-July

There are plenty of youth baseball, basketball, golf and soccer tournaments this spring and summer, close by and others just a short drive away. Here is a list of some of the upcoming tournaments: – Mark Nesbitt


Sept 18-20

• Reddan Toe Bash: Boys: U11 - U14, Girls: U11 U19 – Verona • Oct. 2-4: Oregon Fall Fury Tournament Boys coed: U9, U10, U11, U12, U13 and U14/15 Girls: U9 and U10, U11, U12, U13 and U14/15, U16 and older

April 3-5

• Reddan Spring Shootout: Boys/Coed or Girls: U11-U12, Boys/Coed or Girls: U13-U14, Boys/ Coed: U15-U18 – Verona May 15-17

Oct 23-25

• MAYSA Cup: U9-U10, U11-U12, U13-U14 – Verona

• Reddan Ice Age Boys: U11 - U14 Girls: U11 - U19

May 29-31

• Reddan Thunder: Boys/Coed or Girls: U11 - U12, Boys/Coed or Girls: U13 - U14, Boys/Coed: U15 U18 – Verona

Baseball May 9

• Verona Little League Mother’s Day Off Tournament, 14U


June 6-7

• Verona Little League Hometown Days Tournament, 8U, 10U, 12U, 13U June 20-21

• Verona Little League Battle in the ’Burbs, 8U, 9U, 10U June 26-28

• Oregon Youth Baseball Tournament, 9U, 10U, 14U June 27-28

• Verona Little League Wildcat Walk-Off, 11U, 12U, 13U July 3-5 Fostering a better understanding of God, self, others and nature



July 8-12

• Stoughton Youth Baseball Tournament, 10B, 12B July 15-19 adno=145803

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• Verona Little League Mid-Summer Classic, 8U, 9U, 12U, 14U

• Stoughton Youth Baseball Tournament, 8, 9A, 10A July 17-19

• O regon Youth Baseball Tournament, 11U, 12U, 13U

KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 11

March 19, 2020 July 22-26

• Stoughton Youth Baseball Tournament, 11A, 12A July 24-26

• Verona Little League Beat the Heat Tournament, 8U, 9U, 11U, 13U

June 17

• Junior Tour at Cherokee Country Club, Madison June 19

• Future Tour at Vitenese Golfland, Madison June 19

• Junior Tour at the Beloit Club, Beloit June 24-25

Running Aug. 15

• Oregon Kids Triathlon

• WPGA Junior Championship at Brown Deer Golf Course, Milwaukee June 29-30

• The Dells Junior Golf Championship at Wild Rock Golf Course and Trappers Turn, Wisconsin Dells

Basketball April 3-5

• Rock Spring Classic, SEA Stoughton, 10U-17U boys May 2

• Girls Hoops 4 A Cause, SEA Stoughton, 9U-17U girls May 9-10

• Girls ROCK, SEA Stoughton, 10U-17U girls June 13-14

• June Jam, SEA Stoughton, boys, girls 9U-varsity June 27-28

• B oys High School Invitational, SEA Stoughton, JV and varsity boys July 11

• Girls July Jamboree, SEA Stoughton, 9U-varsity girls July 12

• Boys Summer Slam, SEA Stoughton, 9U-varsity boys

July 14

• Junior Tour at the Oaks Golf Course, Cottage Grove July 19

• Future Tour Scramble at Edelweiss Country Club, New Glarus July 20

• Junior Tour at Door Creek Golf Course, Cottage Grove July 28

• Junior Tour at Monroe Golf Course, Monroe Aug. 11

• Junior Tour at Janesville Country Club, Janesville

The Caring Center/ Verona Montessori House Summer Enrichment Camps

July 18-19

• Madtown Showdown, SEA Stoughton, 9U-17U girls July 25-26

• Best of the Midwest, SEA Stoughton, 9U-17U boys

Golf •PGA Junior Spring Tour at Glen Erin Golf Course, Janesville May 16

• Spring Tour at Blackhawk Country Club, Madison June 12

• PGA Junior Tour at Riverside Golf Course, Janesville June 17

• Future Tour at Jefferson Golf Course, Jefferson

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March 19, 2020


June 20

• at Hawks Landing

Ridgewood Pool Swim Team, ages 8 and under-18 June 20

• at Nakoma

• at Monona • vs. Shorewood Hills

June 24

• at Shorewood Hills

• vs. High Point • vs. Monona • at Seminole • vs. Middleton • at West Side

• vs. Ridgewood

June 27

• at High Point

Wed. July 1

June 27 July 1 July 11 July 18 July 2

• vs. Goodman

July 11 July 18

How parents can get kids excited about brushing their teeth

July 25 July 30-Aug. 1

• All-City Swim Meet at Ridgewood Seminole Pool Swim Team, ages 8 and under-18 June 13

• at Middleton



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Dental hygiene is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s an element youngsters rarely embrace with open arms. Parents know that getting kids, especially young children, to brush their teeth is not always so easy. In recognition of that, the American Dental Association suggests the following strategies to make brushing teeth something kids will look forward to. • Make it fun. Brushing teeth may not be considered a fun activity, but who’s to say it can’t benefi t from a little levity? The ADA recommends turning tooth brushing sessions into dance parties and/or sing-alongs. Youngsters might be so busy cutting a rug or listening to mom and dad belt out a few hits that they don’t even realize they’re cleaning their teeth at the same time. If singing and dancing aren’t cutting it, then incorporate another fun activity, like reading a child his or her favorite story, into daily brushing sessions. The ADA advises adults and children to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day, so activities need not be too advanced. But a fun activity that allows kids to do something other than brush their teeth can be a great way to help them meet the “two minutes, two times” guideline. • Reward good behavior. Parents can reward youngsters who brush their teeth without incident by offering praise or allowing them to pick a bedtime book when brushing at night. • Put kids’ favorite characters to work. The ADA notes that many popular children’s television shows and books have stories about brushing teeth. Watch these stories with your children, then reference the stories and characters if kids are reluctant to brush their teeth. Parents also can find toothbrushes and/or toothpaste that feature kids’ favorite characters to get youngsters more excited to brush. • Become a storyteller. Parents also can make up their own stories, explaining to kids how they can be superheroes who brush away the bad guys that cause cavities. • Brush alongside your children. Kids love to mimic their parents, so moms and dads can brush alongside their youngsters in the hopes they’ll follow suit. Many children may never jump at the chance to brush their teeth. But parents can employ a few savvy strategies to make daily brushing sessions more fun for youngsters. Metro News Service

KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 13

March 19, 2020

Save Time with Easy Meal Hacks If it feels as though your life is too busy, you’re not alone. Many families experience the feeling of constant busyness, but there are ways to save time around the house and lift some of those burdens. In fact, one of the easiest places you can add extra minutes to your day is in the kitchen. Common meal preparation tasks like chopping vegetables, collecting spices, measuring ingredients and heating the oven can eat into time you could be spending with loved ones. Add in trying to follow a recipe on your phone or tablet with dirty hands or trying a new dish that doesn’t work out as planned means putting dinner on the table can waste quality time. Innovation and technology can make meal prep easier, and kitchen hacks like turning to ready-to-heat meals that take just minutes can enhance your productivity. Consider these simple ways to rethink your dinner routine in an effort to create more moments with loved ones: • Look for recipes with as few ingredients as possible. Dishes that include longer ingredient lists typically require more legwork in the kitchen, which usually involves additional prep steps and sometimes longer cook times. Plus, you’re more likely to already have the necessities on-hand for recipes that call for 5-10 ingredients rather than lengthy lists. • Buy pre-cut vegetables to trim time spent on prep work. One of the processes that can surprisingly consume more time than you realize is cutting, chopping and dicing veggies prior to even really diving into a recipe’s instructions. If you’d still prefer prepping your own fresh produce, try completing your work the night before when it doesn’t interfere with quality time spent with family. • Meal kits certainly save time in the store, but be careful to avoid options that still include a lot of prep and cleanup. Focus on frozen kits that contain pre-chopped and measured

ingredients that are ready to go. • Stock your pantry with the basics to make cooking quicker and easier. From condiments and canned goods to seasonings and spices, keeping the essentials on-hand means less time scrambling for a quick run to the store and more moments spent at home. • For one of the ultimate ways to trim kitchen time and cleanup, try a one-pan meal solution like Aqua Star Smart Seafood Sautés. Available in seven flavors ranging from Kung Pao Shrimp to Spanish-Inspired Seafood Paella, the meals are ready to eat in just 10 minutes, meaning more time to make dinner a fun event with additional moments shared at the table. Feeling constantly busy can create a drag on dinner, but preparing in advance and finding ways to save precious minutes for family moments can turn mealtime back into a shared event. Stock Up on Pantry Essentials Rather than rushing to the store each time your family decides what’s for dinner, try keeping your pantry stocked with non-perishables that are often necessary in a variety of meals. • Seasonings and spices (salt, pepper, dried herbs, cumin, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, etc.) • Canned goods (tomatoes, beans, corn, broth, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, etc.) • Grains (flour, pastas, breadcrumbs, rolled oats, instant rice, etc.) • Condiments and oils (olive oil, canola oil, ketchup, mustard, vinegars, barbecue sauce, butter, cooking wines, etc.) Family Features

14 – Unified Newspaper Group - KIDS

March 19, 2020

How parents can help young athletes lower their injury risk Athletes are at risk of injury any time they step onto a field or court or into another competitive arena. Adults competing in sports may recognize that risk, but children often do not, which can make it difficult for young athletes to cope with injuries that prevent them from playing their favorite sports. Stanford Children’s Health notes that roughly 30 million children in the United States participate in some form of organized sports every year. Data from the Aspen Sports Institute indicates that youth sports participation in Canada has been in decline over the last decade. However, that same data indicates that more than 52 percent of girls between the ages of six and 12 and roughly 61 percent of boys in that same age group participate in organized sports in Canada. Modern parents may not be as quick to encourage participation in certain sports as their own mothers and fathers were. That could be due to the increased availability of information about the long-term effects of injuries suffered in contact sports like football, field hockey and even soccer. For example, the risk of head injuries, and a growing amount of research as to the long-term effects of such injuries have led many parents to discourage their youngsters from participating in football. Such decisions can be difficult. Parents who want their children to get all the benefits of organized sports participation can take steps to reduce young athletes’ risk of injury. ¥ Schedule down time. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to plan at least one day off from training per week and at least one month off from training per year. These breaks allow young bodies, even those who haven’t suffered injuries, to recover.

¥ Increase flexibility. Stretching should be part of everyone’s daily fitness routine, and young athletes are no exception. Stretching exercises after games and practices can increase flexibility. The Mayo Clinic notes that stretching may improve range of motion in the joints and decrease risk of injury. ¥ Make sure the right techniques are followed and the right gear is worn. The AAP advises parents to ensure kids follow the correct techniques when performing exercises. Poor form in the weight room can increase young athletes’ risk of injury. Coaches often supervise strength-training regimens on campus, but parents should keep watchful eyes on youngsters who work out at home or without the supervision of a coach. The right gear, which includes protective cups, eyewear and mouthpieces, also should be worn at all times. Parents can periodically inspect gear to ensure it’s not worn down. ¥ Discourage the attitude to “play through pain.” Professional athletes often cite the necessity of playing through pain. But young athletes should never play through pain, as their bodies are still developing and could suffer considerable damage if they try to play through injuries, however minor such injuries may seem. Parents must work together with their children to reduce youngsters’ risk of suffering sports-related injuries. More information about reducing youth sports injuries can be found at www.aap.org. Metro News Service

March 19, 2020

KIDS - Unified Newspaper Group – 15

How to approach nutrition when feeding children away from home Children can be picky eaters. Parents know that getting kids to eat anything, much less healthy foods, can sometimes make the dinner table feel more like a battlefield than a place to break bread. That’s especially so when the dinner table is in a restaurant, where savvy youngsters might know less nutritious dishes like macaroni and cheese or fried chicken fingers are on the menu. But the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet are so numerous for youngsters that it’s worth doing whatever it takes to get kids to embrace nutrient-rich foods, both at home and when dining out. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that a healthy diet can stabilize children’s energy levels, help them maintain healthy weights and potentially prevent mental health conditions, including anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But recognizing the importance of a healthy diet and getting kids to embrace one are two different things, especially when kids are dining out and being tempted by unhealthy alternatives. In recognition of that, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following strategies to parents who want their kids to eat healthy when they’re away from home. • M ake meals all-inclusive. When preparing school lunches or taking youngsters out for a night on the town, make sure to offer a mix of foods from the five food groups. The AAP recommends parents offer vegetables, fruit, grains, lowfat dairy, and/or quality protein sources, which can include meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Offering each of these foods

at every meal may not be feasible, but kids should eat foods selected from the major food groups at every meal. • Avoid highly processed foods. The National Institutes of Health notes that studies have suggested there’s a link between highly processed foods and health problems. Such foods, which typically contain ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup and flavoring agents, are typically high in calories, salt, sugar, and fat. While highly processed foods tend to be easier to make and readily available at restaurants, serving them to youngsters can start kids down the road to poor dietary habits, potentially increasing their risk for obesity and diseases like heart disease and diabetes. When packing snacks for school lunches or taking kids out to restaurants, be sure to include or bring along healthy whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. This can ensure kids get some healthy fare during mealtime. • Enhance foods if necessary. While high amounts of sugar, salt and fat can jeopardize the health of adults and youngsters alike, the AAP notes that small amounts of these substances can be used to enhance kids’ enjoyment of healthy foods and increase the likelihood that they will eat them. Parents may not have much control over what their children eat while away from home. But a handful of strategies can increase the likelihood that kids enjoy healthy fare when eating at school or at restaurants.. Metro News Service

16 – Unified Newspaper Group - KIDS

March 19, 2020

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