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Child Advocate

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April 2009 Issue 8, Volume 17

Keeping Your Your Keeping Kids Healthy Healthy Kids



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Education Ombudsman Inform and Help Resolve Conflict Between Parents and Schools

Contents 6


E ducation Ombudsmen are a mixture of problem-solvers, “coaches,” and trained mediators

who explain how the system works, what resources are available, and how parents might tackle resolving conflict themselves. The center of their work focuses on the student’s academic achievement.


Education Ombudsmen are neutral and do not advocate for one side or the other; they advocate for fair processes for all students. OEO was established in 2006 by House Bill 3127 after a group of legislators in Olympia kept hearing from constituents that there was a need for an office that helped prevent and resolve conflict between parents and schools, provided information about the public education system and supported school-family partnerships. The Washington State PTA embraced the idea and worked hard to ensure the passage of the Bill. OEO opened its doors in 2007 as part of the Governor’s Office.

5 Habits to Keep Your Students Healthy


Building Exercise into Family Routines


Establishing Healthy Eating Habits


Eating Disorders: What Parents Need to Know...


Part of an Ombudsman’s work is to teach Good Nutrition: What Does Your Child Need? 7 parents--to help them understand how to find and understand school district policies, follow The Child Advocate is published online every month from September through June by the Washingprocedures, write appropriate letters and schedule ton State PTA, 2003 65th Avenue West, Tacoma, WA 98466-6215, (253) 565-2153. Contributors are appointments. Their role is also to teach parents welcome. Call the State PTA office for guidelines. Whenever PTA is used it also refers to PTSA. PTA how to communicate concerns clearly and calmly is a registered trademark of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. to school officials. When discussing conflict, OmLaura Bay, Washington State PTA President budsmen ask parents if they have first talked to Bill Williams, Washington State PTA Executive Director the person who--in the parents’ opinion--caused Karen Fisker-Andersen, Editor the conflict. They explain the best ways to work with school officials focusing on solutions that OEO services are free, statewide, and are con- The sample policy defines school/parent support academic achievement. ducted mainly by phone. OEO does not propartnership as the “collaborative interaction Unresolved conflict between parents and schools vide legal advice, does not accept professional between educators and families in activities that hinders school-family partnerships, and is detrimisconduct cases, and requests parents’ signed promote student learning and positive child mental to the student’s ability to learn and enjoy permission before talking to school personnel. and youth development at home, in school, and the school experience. in the community, including but not limited Call OEO toll-free at 1-866-297-2597 or to two-way and meaningful communication When Ombudsmen intervene at the lowest level, visit the web site at between parents and school personnel, outreach they can help conflict from escalating, becoming for more information, to read OEO’s Annual to families, parent-education, volunteering, stressful and costly to school districts, and impactReport, and to sign up to receive informative school decision making and advocacy.” ing student learning. E-bulletins. For a copy of the sample family involvement During its first full year of operations, the Family Involvement in Schools Policy policy, visit OEO’s website at www.waparent2007- 2008 school year, OEO intervened in 317 OEO and the Washington State School Direc- cases of conflict between families and schools tors’ Association (WSSDA) have created a in 117 school districts across the state. The two Do you know if your school has developed a model family involvement policy for school most common causes of conflict were related to family involvement policy? student-to-student bullying/harassment and Spe- districts in our state. The policy highlights that cial Education. OEO staff also provided training the importance of school-family partnerships We’d like to hear from you about whether or for student achievement and provides examples not your school district has developed a family seminars regarding family involvement in educaof procedures that can be implemented by a involvement policy. Contact Patti Carey at tion and conflict resolution to 1,917 educators, school district at various levels. parents and family members statewide.


5 Habits

to Keep Your Students Healthy 1. Guard Against Illnesses Teach your kids that hands should always be washed after using the restroom, petting or handling animals, after blowing their noses, and before eating. Washing at least 20 seconds is the best defense against illnesses, using soap and water. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Parents can also cut down on the amount of viruses going around the school by helping their children learn how to cough and sneeze into their sleeve, rather than into their hands; and to keep their kids home from school if they have had a fever, have vomited, or have had diarrhea in the last 24 hours. Clean more frequently, including the railings, door knobs and light switches, when you have an ill family member. Also, as a preventative measure, keep up to date on annual flu shots and other immunizations.

The Child Advocate, April 2009

If you have an ill family member, designate a special hand towel for that individual so that others are not infected by germs that may possibly be transmitted to the hand towel. Food can also harbor harmful bacteria that can cause illnesses. To avoid food poisoning, parents can take special care to wash cutting surfaces and cooking utensils after handling raw meat, and never put cooked meat back on a plate that held raw meat. Make sure food is thoroughly cooked before serving it and leftovers are promptly placed in the refrigerator following a meal. 2. Get Enough Sleep With our fast-paced lifestyles many of us are not getting enough sleep. Sleep is an important element in staying healthy and functioning to our full potential. The amount of sleep a person needs varies by the individual, but in general adults and teens need between 8-10 hours a


night, and school-aged children need between 9-11 hours. It is best to have a regular routine for sleeping, generally going to bed at a set hour each night

important measure is for parents to educate their children about healthy food choices and why it’s important.

3. Enjoy Family Meals Family meals provide a wonderful opporunity for parents and kids to stay connected in their busy lives. Kids who take part in regular family meals are also:

Read the nutrition labels when selecting groceries. When choosing between two similar products, select the items that are higher in protein and lower in sugar, and contain no transfats, which may be listed as hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. Also, limit the number of products you purchase with artificial colors or sweeteners.


On those occassions when you need to have dinner on the road, there are many more healthy choices available at fast food restaurants now. Look for those healthy choices for you and your children.

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more likely to eat healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables; less likely to fill up on junk-food; and less likely to drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs.

In addition, family meals provide kids with an glimpse of what foods are heathy to eat and an opportunity to try new foods. What counts as a family meal? Any time you turn off the TV and gather around a table for a meal with the family. This may include healthy takeout food, or a home-cooked meal. You may need to eat a little later to accomodate for children participating in sports practices, but it’s always best to have a family meal at a time when everyone can be there. 4. Purchase Healthy Foods To help children eat better, the first thing parents should do is purchase foods for their homes that are better choices for their families. Don’t buy foods that you don’t want children to eat freely. This way you don’t have to limit them from eating any type of food in your home. Another

5. Encourage Regular Exercise You don’t need to be a member of a gym to get regular exercise. Take a break with your kids before dinner or during a study break and play frisby, tag, capture the flag, basketball, or a game of soccer in your yard. Go to your local community swimming pool and enjoy an afternoon together playing in the pool. Let your kids decide what kind of activity to do. By letting the kids choose, you are making it a fun time together for your kids, rather than another chore for them to do. Plan active vacations and weekends. Plan to take hikes, bike rides, walks and do other physical activities, such as snow skiing or kayaking, on your family vacations and on weekends. g

Building Exercise Into Family Routines N ot only will exercise help you feel better and give you more energy, it will help you maintain your weight, promote good heart and lung health, and build stronger bones. Adults need between 30-60 minutes of exercise on most days; kids need about 60 minutes. This does not mean that you need to exercise for this amount of time at once, but rather throughout the day. For example, you could go for a 10-minute walk during your lunch hour, ride bikes with your child for 10 minutes after school, and spend 10 minutes cleaning the house in the evening. Forming any new habit, including exercise, takes effort. Plan ahead by scheduling your exercise activ- ities into your weekly calendar. Following are some ideas for getting more exercise into your family routines: Take a class together. Join a family karate class, aerobics class, or learn how to play racketball or tennis together.



Exercise during your children’s sports practices. Seeing you exercise will also help motivate your children.


Make a habit of taking the stairs, instead of the elevator; choose parking spaces that are further away so you can walk. g


a Washington State PTA parent involvement magazine

Establishing Healthy Eating Habits

H abits for healthy eating are started while kids are young. Following are some general guidelines parents can follow to help kids develop these habits. g Don’t force your children to eat everything on their plates. Instead, encourage them to stop when they are full. g Avoid using food as a bribe to get children to do something you want them to do. Take some time to figure out other incentives to use. g Try not to use food as a reward either. When you are proud of your children, hug them and tell them you are proud of them. g There are no “bad” foods. Let your children have treats occassionally, but make sure they know that these are not the kind of foods you eat everyday. g Pay attention to portion size. Not everything needs to be supersized. g Teach your children about the five basic food groups and what makes a healthy meal. g Let your children choose what healthy foods they want to eat. g Purchase lean meats and prepare them using healthy cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling, steaming or roasting. Purchase whole

The Child Advocate, April 2009


grain cereals and breads, and choose low fat dairy items. Avoid products that have been highly processed, or contain excessive amounts of fat, salt or sugar. Be a good role model for healthy eating.


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for your children. A healthy breakfast helps provide students with the energy and focus they need for school. If you are finding your morning schedule is a bit hectic and your children are not going to school with a good breakfast, get them up earlier so you can build this important time into your routine. School Lunches

Encourage your children to make their own lunches and put them in the refrigerator the evening before. This gives them practice in choosing healthy food for themselves. Provide plenty of healthy options for children to choose for their lunches, so they don’t get tired of the same thing every day. If you plan to put cold items in their lunches, such as yogurt or a meat and cheese sandwich, be sure to include an ice pack in their lunch box to keep these items cold. If your children purchase school lunches, encourage them to choose white milk over chocolate milk anddiscuss what other healthy choices they can make in this setting.


After-School Snacks

Provide your students with a variety of healthy snacks to choose from. Some ideas include: Fruit and veggies with yogurt dip, peanut butter and celery, whole grain tortilla with melted cheese, soup with crackers, applesauce with cinnamon, string cheese, yogurt, whole-grain crackers with meat and cheese, fruit smoothie, and fruit kabobs. Limit soda and sugary drinks. Encourage your students to enjoy milk, water, or some fruit juice. Also limit cookies, chips and candy as afterschool snacks. Save those treats for special occassions. Kid-Friendly (and Healthy) Dinners

Kids can be picky eaters, especially when it comes to dinnertime! If you have some of those picky eaters at your home, consider cooking your meals in a way that keeps all of the food separate. For example, if you’re

making spaghetti, keep the noodles in a separate serving bowl from the meat and the sauce. This helps the picky eaters choose how to serve their meals--and keep the meat separate from the sauce and the noodles if they want to. Similarly, serve salads with a “salad bar” approach, keeping all of the items separate. This way kids can pick what vegetables they like and skip the ones they don’t like. Another thing to consider when cooking for picky eaters, is many of them don’t like to have food with lumps in it. So, for example, if you are making mashed potatoes, it might help to use an electric mixer to elminate any lumps of potatoes. Finally, most kids will enjoy deciding what to make for dinner. Talk to them about making choices and planning a balanced meal. Often, when they have a role in preparing the meal, they are more likely to try foods they might otherwise avoid. g

Eating Disorders What Parents Need to Know...

A norexia is characterized by a dramatic weight loss from self-starvation or from severe self-imposed dieting. Bulimia is characterized by binging and purging, accompanied by frequent weight fluctuations rather than profound continuous weight loss. Anorexia and bulimia can have very serious health consequences; hospitalization is often required. Severe cases may even result in death. Individuals with anorexia and bulimia frequently report feelings of failure and loneliness. Their preoccupation with food and their eating behavior often lead to real isolation. Their low self-esteen may puzzle family, friends, and teachers, because they are often quite successful in school and are seen as “good” trouble-free young people. Anorexia and bulimia can occur at any age, but young people seem more susceptible at two particular times. The first is just before or just after puberty. The second is when a young person is contemplating a move or has just moved away from home. Other major stresses or life changes may also trigger anorexia or bulimia. What are common characteristics of eating disorders?

Unusual eating habits. For bulimics, this may include binging episodes in the bathroom, household food supplies are quickly exhausted, hoarding food, stealing food or money to buy food. Anorexics may dispose of food in the trash, push food around on the plate to make it look like food has been eaten, adopt odd preferences such as eating only food of a particular texture or color, be compulsive about arranging food before eating, be unusually picky about food when they never have been in the past, or eat food extremely slowly by taking very small bites. Moreover, teenagers with anorexia or bulimia typically no longer eat regular meals with their families. They regularly make excuses for not eating with family members: “I’m not hungry right now,” “I’ve already eaten,” or “I’m going to eat at a friend’s house.”



High interest in exercise. Teens with anorexia or bulimia often exercise rigorously to rid their bodies of calories and fatty tissue. For example, they may engage in long distance biking, endurance swimming, extended dancing practice, or heavy calisthenics. g

Frequent weighing. Teens with anorexia or bulimia are obsessed with their weight and may take scale readings several times a day. g

Use of laxatives, diuretics, emetics, and diet pills. Severe body dehydration may be an immediate danger from the abuse of these purgatives. Any of these methods may cause serious physical problems, although signs of damage may take years to become apparent. g

If you suspect that a young person is developing anorexia or bulimia, schedule a phsyical examination for him or her and discuss your concerns with the doctor even if your teenager denies having an eating disorder. g

Source: Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home

a Washington State PTA parent involvement magazine

Good Nutrition: What Does Your Child Need?

E ach child should consume a variety of food from the five major food groups daily. The five groups are the milk group, the meat group, the vegetable group, the fruit group, and the grain group. It is important to remember that all of the food groups are equally important. Different foods offer a different assortment of nutrients. Therefore, a wide and varied selection of foods from each of the food groups is the best guarantee that your child is receiving adequate nutrition. Following is information on nutrition edited from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on these five food groups. For more information, go to www. Meat

All foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of this group. Dry beans and peas are part of this group as well as the vegetable group. Most meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat. Fish, nuts, and seeds contain healthy oils, so choose these foods frequently. Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds supply many nutrients. These include protein, B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They are also building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and vitains. Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Many teenage girls and women in their child-bearing years have iron-deficiency anemia. They should eat foods high in heme-

iron (meats) or eat other non-heme iron containing foods along with a food rich in vitamin C, which can improve absorption of non-heme iron. Magnesium is used in building bones and in releasing energy from muscles. Zinc is necessary for biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function properly. Milk

All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group, including yogurt and cheese, while foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Most milk group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. The intake of milk products is especially important to bone health during childhood and adolescence, when bone mass is being built. Diets that include milk products tend to have a higher overall nutritional quality. Foods in the milk group provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. Diets rich in potassium also may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit

Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol. Fruits are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).

The Child Advocate, April 2009




Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin): Required for the proper functioning of our body’s nervous system as well as our heart. Found in milk and milk products, vegetables including dark green and yellow, breakfast cereals, and meat.

Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

Vitamin D: Regulates the level of calcium and phosphate in the body which is important towards building and maintaining strong bones. Found in milk. Vitamin E: Essential for normal cell function. Protects our lungs from pollution. May help in slowing the aging process of cells. Found in bread, cereal, grains and fat (polyunsaturated)


Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products. Grains are divided into 2 subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel -- the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples include: whole-wheat flour; bulgur (cracked wheat); oatmeal; whole cornmeal; and brown rice. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are: white flour; degermed cornmeal; white bread; and white rice. Most refined grains are enriched. This means certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains. Check the ingredient list on refined grain products to make sure that the word “enriched” is included in the grain name. Some food products are made from mixtures of whole grains and refined grains. More About Vitamins:

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Child Advocate

a Washington State PTA parent involvement publication

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin): Promotes metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Helps the nervous and digestive systems work properly. Found in bread (especially whole grains or enriched products), cereal, starchy vegetables, and meat. Vitamin B-12: Promotes cell metabolism and production of red blood cells. A lack of Vitamine B-12 over a period of time can cause anemia. Found in milk and meat. Vitamin C: Promotes healthy bones, teeth and blood vessels. Found in citrus fruits. Biotin: Needed to metabolize fatty acids and carbohydrates. Found in vegetables (green and yellow), and citrus fruits. Folacin: Important for the maturation of our red and white blood cells. Found in green leafy vegetables and organ meats. Vitamin K: Important for proper blood clotting. Found in dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin A: Required for good vision. Found in fruits (including citrus fruits like oranges), milk and milk products, green and yellow colored


Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin): Prevents beriberi, a disorder affecting the nervous system and heart. Found in milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables (green and yellow), and meat.


“Making every child’s potential a reality.”


PTA is: ■ A powerful voice for all children, ■ A relevant resource for families and communities, and ■ A strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child. The Washington State PTA accomplishes the mission of PTA by

■ Speaking on behalf of children and youth in the schools, in the community, and before governmental bodies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children; ■ Supporting parents* in developing skills to raise, protect and advocate for their children; and ■ Encouraging parent* and community involvement. * Parent may include adults who play an important role in a child’s family life since other adults (grandparents, aunts, uncles, or guardians) may carry the primary responsibility for a child’s health, welfare, education and safety.

Phone: (253) 565-2153 or 1-800-562-3804 Fax: (253) 565-7753

Website: Email:

The Child Advocate - April 2009  
The Child Advocate - April 2009  

5 Habits to Keep Your Students Healthy Building Exercise into Family Routines Establishing Healthy Eating Habits Eating Disorders: What Pare...