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Your Child

Setting Up a Routine for Homework

2:00

If yours is like a lot of families, you’re just not quite ready to face the homework hurdle. But like it or not, after school assignments have arrived and helping your child get into a regular routine can actually make it easier for everyone.

Deborah Linebarger, PhD, associate professor of education at the University of Iowa, has come up with six tips to help families get back in the assignment swing of things.

Be prepared: Even if you’ve already picked up all the supplies your child needs at school, make sure the staples needed to complete assignments are also available at home. Items like pencils, erasers, folders, clips, rulers, computer paper & toner should have their own space and be ready to use if needed. This is also a good time let them set up a special place in the house where they can work undisturbed and with all the supplies they need. You may discover you have a budding interior designer with a knack for organization!

Set A Schedule: You child should do her homework at the same time every day. Many kids need a break after school for a snack and a little running around first. It's best to get homework done as early as possible -- when it drags on past dinner and toward bedtime, the work is likely to take longer and be sloppier.

Bedtime: Don’t leave homework till the last minute, make sure that it’s finished and checked at least a couple of hours before bedtime. Just like adults, children need plenty of good sleep to function well the next day. Preschoolers typically need 11-13 hours each night. Six to thirteen year olds need around 9-11 hours and teens need about 8 -10 hours a night. Make sleep a priority by having a cool, quiet and dark bedroom. Establish an appropriate bedtime for your child and stick to it. Cut off the access to computers, TVS, phones and any electronics at a minimum of an hour before it’s time for sleep. Quieting and slowing down before it’s actually time to nod off can help relax your child.

Break it down. Younger kids might get a week's worth of homework on Monday to turn in by Friday. Older children may have big responsibilities like term papers and science projects. Help them break large projects into smaller steps, and make sure they start early.

Keep up with your child’s assignments so that you’re not surprised by a last minute science project the night before it’s due!

Encourage "peer collaboration" -- to a point. It may be helpful for siblings close in age to do homework together. The older one may be proud and happy to offer help to the younger one. But if they bicker more than they cooperate, it's time for separate spaces.

What if you have a child with ADHD? As you probably already know, children with ADHD are more likely to face extra challenges with completing their homework.

He or she will need even more supervision and guidance, Linebarger says.

"Start by breaking up homework into really bite-sized amounts," she says. "For a younger child, that may be only about 10-minute increments. Expand them slowly as they show they're able to handle it." And expect that your child will need you to watch her homework efforts closely to make sure he or she stays on task.

When they gets distracted -- and they will -- encourage your boy or girl to do something physical to get back on track. "Let her jump up and run around for 5 minutes, or have him do 10 push-ups or 30 jumping jacks," Linebarger says. "Research shows that acute physical activity right before a challenging mental task helps to control behavior."

Children with ADHD often hear a lot of criticism, be sure and compliment them and encourage them when they’ve completed a difficult task.

When they manage to sit still for that 10 minutes of homework, or come home with their homework folder in order, give them lots of praise for making a great choice," Linebarger says.

It won’t be long till summer is a fond memory and the school year is just how things are. You can help your child adjust to this either new or familiar way of getting through Monday through Friday by using the tips above and finding out what adjustments may need to be made to work best for your family.

Source: Gina Shaw, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/back-school-homework-routine

 

Daily Dose

Viruses Linger During End of School Year

Viruses linger during end of school year and disrupt many events. Dr. Sue explains what parents can do to keep their kids healthy.Well, it seems all students, from preschoolers through those in high school and college, are in full end of the school year mode. Graduations are ahead, from kindergarten through college, and of course there also seem to be several spring/summer viruses lurking around that are disrupting students (and parents) end of year plans.

Just like we have influenza during the winter months (and over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays), we also see other viruses that cause fever, myalgias (muscle aches), cough, congestion and sore throat, that are equally bothersome at this time of year.  While it is not influenza, other viruses such as  adenovirus, enteroviruses and parainfluenza virus (just to name a few), can make you run fairly high fever, feel horribly, have a sore throat and congestion and eventually a cough. Most viruses last anywhere from 7 -14 days, and for the first 2-4 days it is not unusual to see kids running fever, which only makes them feel that much worse.  Something about having a 103 degree fever, while the weather is in the 70’s to 90’s around the country, just doesn’t seem right! Unfortunately, these viruses don’t really care what we all have happening in our lives, and so you may find your child trying to wrap up end of school activities, but really needing to stay home for a few days due to illness. I am writing this as I have seen dozens and dozens of sick kids in the last few weeks with a litany of things to “do” before school ends. Parents bringing their sons and daughters in to my office for “the cure” so that they may attend the end of preschool party, or the field trip, prom or graduation.  I only wish that I had “the cure”. As we have discussed so many times, viruses are bigger and brighter than the best minds, and they cannot be cured in 12 hours with a magic shot of penicillin (although I must say some doc in the boxes still do this).  Despite my best efforts as a physician (and a mother too), the only thing that really cures a viral illness is “tincture of time”, which no one seems to have any more. I am not pointing fingers, because I am guilty of feeling like that too.  I only wish that I could get everyone, including my own children, better in time to attend all of these important functions!!  Viruses always occur at the most inconvenient times. One mother has brought her son to see me both in my office and by my house in hopes of finding “something” that we can treat. She has thrown out options like “antibiotics, inhalers, vitamins and steroids” in hopes of getting him better faster. Now throughout this illness, he like many others has “drug” his sick body out of bed to attend “special” events, all the while running fever and coughing. So, he is indeed contagious and might spread the virus to others. Whether intentional or not, viruses are spread very easily, especially in the close contact that our adolescents all have. I LOL when a parent says “my child has not been around anyone that is sick”!!  But of course they have.  The viruses are at  school, at  after school activities, while sharing water bottles on the sports field, or sandwiches at lunch, our children are exposed. Then throw in all of the parties going on now and it is perfect storm for germs to spread. So bottom line, if your child has a fever, they should stay home.  Rest, fluids, fever control and time are really the only cures.  But thankfully, I feel certain that one of these bright students will one day find the “CURE” for the viral illnesses that we all dread, and they will be a Nobel Prize winner. Not only that, they will be loved by all parents who want to figure out how to  “fix” their child in time for  the next party or event! That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue now!

Your Child

School Kids Benefit From Mindfulness Programs

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Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. A new study says that adding a mindfulness based stress reduction program to middle schools may help reduce kid’s stress and trauma.  

"High-quality structured mindfulness programs have the potential to really improve students' lives in ways that I think can be really meaningful over the life course," said lead author Dr. Erica Sibinga of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Children in many U.S. cities are at an increased risk of stresses and traumas due to the effects of community drug use, violence, multigenerational poverty, limited education and economic opportunities, Sibinga and her colleagues write in the journal Pediatrics.

 The study involved 300 students, in grades five through eight, at two Baltimore public schools. Children were randomly selected for either a twelve - week mindfulness based stress reduction program or health classes to take during the school day.

Nearly all the students were from low-income families and African-American.

The mindfulness program contained material about meditation, yoga and the mind, body connection; practice of those techniques; and group discussion.

The program helped the children be aware of their response to what was happening to them at the time.

"It allows them to not only know what is happening, but to stop and take three breaths and figure out how they want to respond to what is happening the present moment," Sibinga told Reuters Health.

By the end of the program, children in the mindfulness program had lower levels of general health problems, depression, recurrent thoughts about negative experiences and other symptoms of stress and trauma compared to the children enrolled in the health classes only.

Sibinga said the differences would be enough for the students to notice in their day-to-day lives.

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to the research, like children missing some classes and possibly being exposed to mindfulness practices outside the sessions.

While Sibinga acknowledged that she couldn’t say if the program would have the same results in other student populations, she suspected there would be benefits.

The next step is to look at how to spread the program to other schools, and look at how the program may work, she said.

"It doesn’t get us off the hook of trying to reduce the sources of trauma in our urban life," she said. But the study suggests adding structured mindfulness programs in urban settings would be beneficial, she added.

Some private schools in the U.S. have already implemented mindfulness classes in their school programs and have reported positive effects such as fewer behavioral problems and an increased ability to focus during class on school work.

Sources: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-mindfulness-stress-school-idUSKBN0U12MY20151218

 

Your Child

Healthy Diet Improves Reading Skills

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Good nutrition not only improves your child’s physical condition but may also advance his or her reading abilities, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers in Finland found students' reading skills improved more between first grade and third grade if they didn't eat a lot of sugary foods or red meat, and if their diet consisted mainly of vegetables, berries and other fruits, as well as fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats.

The study involved 161 students between the ages of 6 and 8 (first through 3rd grade). Researchers reviewed the children's diets and their reading ability using food diaries and standardized reading tests.

The study showed that a healthier diet was associated with better reading skills by third grade, regardless of how well the students could read in first grade, the researchers said.

"Another significant observation is that the associations of diet quality with reading skills were also independent of many confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity [fat] and physical fitness," study author Eero Haapala said in a University of Eastern Finland news release. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyvaskyla.

As with most studies, the research did not prove cause and effect, but an association between the foods the students ate and their reading skills.

The study's authors noted that parents, schools, governments and corporations all have an opportunity to enhance academic performance in schools by making healthy foods more available to children.

The study was published recently in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/healthy-diet-may-boost-children-s-reading-skills-714811.html

 

 

Your Teen

Schools Start Too Early, Teens Sleep Deprived

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It’s a battle that is picking up steam, whether to start school a little later so teenagers can get the sleep they need or keeping schedules as they are for the sake of planning before and after school activities.

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that teenagers are biologically programmed to go to bed later than most adults and sleep later in the morning.

Last year, the AAP issued a set of guidelines recommending that school schedules are modified across the U.S. to start at 8.30 a.m. This way, children and teens would be able to meet the recommended sleep hours per night during school days.

Fewer than one in five middle and high schools in the United States start at 8:30 am or later, as recommended, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The same recommendations suggested that indeed, the biological rhythm of teenagers particularly is very different than that of adults. While they need 8 and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep per night, their circadian rhythm doesn’t allow them to go to sleep before midnight or a little after.

School nights are particularly difficult for adolescents because in order to get the rest they need, they have to go to bed earlier than their minds and bodies are set to fall asleep.

The CDC released a new study supporting the recommendations of the AAP. According to the findings, 83 percent of U.S. schools still start before 8:30 a.m. On average, the starting time was calculated at 8:03 a.m., based on data collected from 39,700 combined schools, middle schools, and high schools between 2011-2012.

Depriving teens of that sleep could wreak havoc on their academic performance, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Getting enough sleep is important for students' health, safety, and academic performance," said Anne Wheaton, lead author and epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Population Health.

"Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need."

The issue is driving a heated debate between supporters of later school start times and school administrators.

Safwan Badr, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine stated:

“It makes absolutely no sense. You’re asking kids to learn math at a time their brains are not even awake”.

On the other hand, Daniel Domenech, the executive director of the School Superintendents Association stated with regards to changing school starting time:

“It’s a logistical nightmare. This has been going on forever, and kids have been graduation from school and going to college. It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt them all these years”.

Some experts note that the long-term consequence of sleep deprivation is hurting our teens and has been for quite some time.

Judith Owens, the director of sleep medicine at Boston’s Children Hospital suggests that chronically sleep deprivation characterizes the majority of today’s teens. This results in increased risk of onset depression, substance abuse, unhealthy BMIs. Long-term effects of sleep deprivation result in type 2 diabetes or heart diseases.

There are things that parents can do to help their teens at least rest better if they can’t fall asleep earlier. The first and foremost agitator for sleep is viewing or being on a computer or smartphone right before bed.

Recent studies have shown that the use of any electronic device in the hour before bedtime was associated with an increased risk of taking longer than 60 minutes to fall asleep. In particular, the use of a computer, smartphone or MP3 player in the hour before bedtime was strongly linked with taking longer to fall asleep.

Make your teen’s bedroom a quiet place that can be a retreat at night from busy schedules and social media.

Your teen can take a hot bath or shower before bed to boost deep sleep. Then keep his or her room cool (about 68 F) to cool down the body. One study showed that sleep happens when the body cools. Wakefulness occurs when the body temperature warms up.

Aromatherapy helps some people fall off to sleep. Certain scents are shown to be relaxing such as orange blossom, marjoram, chamomile, and lavender. You can apply these oils before bed or put them on pillows, sheets or in potpourri. If candles are used, make sure they are put out before getting in bed. 

Having a regular schedule can help the body adjust. Going to bed at the same time each night can assist in adjusting the body’s circadian rhythm.  

More high schools are considering changing their schedules to a later start time, but currently most schools are keeping with the typical earlier schedules. You may not be able to convince the school board to start school at little later, but you can help your teen find what works for them at night to help them get the amount of sleep they need to function at their best.

Sources: Bonnie Gleason, http://www.trinitynewsdaily.com/chronically-sleep-deprived-teens-need-schools-starting-time-changed/3209/

http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/u-s-teens-start-school-too-early-need-more-sleep-study-1.2506322

http://teens.webmd.com/features/8-ezzz-sleep-tips-teens

 

 

 

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Back to School, Back to Sleep!

Daily Dose

National Walk to School Day

This day and the entire month of October is meant to bring awareness back to the need for children to walk to school when possible.Today is ‘National Walk to School Day' and as a seven year old so aptly stated, "this was fun and good for my mom's health too." It seems that it has become uncommon these days for children to walk to school, although it was something that used to be one of the best parts of the day. This day and the entire month of October is meant to bring awareness back to the need for children to walk to school when possible. There are many reasons to encourage this, as a form of exercise to promote childhood obesity, to save on gas during skyrocketing gas prices, and to promote environmental consciousness.

It is a privilege to live close to a school and have leisurely walks where you can talk about the day ahead, kick a rock or pick up the first leaves of fall. But we need to change community cultures to promote safe routes to walk to school and to promote neighborhood children and parents to walk together. This same idea needs to be encouraged for those children who might want to ride their bikes to school, of course with a helmet, and get their parents to ride along. It also teaches the rules of the road and safety for crossing streets and intersections. So....pick a few days this fall to opt out of carpool, get the dog and a cup of coffee and walk to school with your child. It is guaranteed to create lots of conversation and most likely fond memories of your childhood walks to school. That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow. More Information: International Walk to School Day in the U.S.A.

Daily Dose

School Anxiety

2.00 to read

For some of the country school has been in session for a week or two, but September brings the reality of school for all. So I was not surprised to listen to my voicemails recently only to hear numerous messages relating to the return to school.

One of the predominate themes I heard was, “my child seems anxious about school”. Interestingly, the voice mails related not only to young children who might be starting school for the first time, but there were also several calls relating to adolescents in junior high and high school. The “worry” that some children experience as they return to school after 10 -12 weeks of “down time” occurs quite frequently.

Many of us, even adults, get the “butterflies in the tummy” feeling when embarking on a new situation. Whether it be a new school year, or a new job,   along with anticipation and excitement might come a bit of anxiety. At times the anxiety may present itself as a tummy ache, headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite or even lethargy.

Everyone responds to anxiety a bit differently. But many times these symptoms go hand in hand with feeling anxious. These feelings are not wanted or planned, but result from our mind/body interaction as neurotransmitters in our brains may produce outright symptoms in our bodies.

There will be many children who have a mystery headache or tummy ache for several days, maybe even several weeks, as the routine of a new school year begins. For most of our children these feelings will pass with a little TLC (tender loving care),  some of my young parents don’t know what this acronym means.  For other children the symptoms may be a little longer lasting and the school nurse might offer her own version of TLC, with a few minutes of rest, or a glass of juice, some reassurance and return to class.  The school counselor may also lend an ear to an older student who just needs some talk time in order to become less anxious.

But for a few, the symptoms do not pass and the anxiety surrounding school may even start to affect other activities. This is especially disconcerting when it seems to involve activities that a child had previously enjoyed, such as dance, or sports or even spending the night with a friend. In these cases it may be time to discuss your child’s anxiety with your pediatrician.  There are numerous professionals that can help your child with anxiety. So, give the back to school routine a bit of time, but at the same time if things are not improving, do not hesitate to call for outside help.   

I'm Dr. Sue and that’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow. 

Your Child

“Opt-Out” of Letting Schools Sell Your Child’s Personal Information!

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If your child is in school, you may have unknowingly given the school the right to sell your child’s private information to data brokers and marketing companies. It happens every year and many parents don’t know they could have signed a form preventing the sale.

Schools are allowed by federal law to sell your child’s personal information to anyone unless you fill out an “opt-out “ form. If you don’t fill it out, personal information such as your child’s name, address, email, telephone number, age, gender, height and weight and photo can be sold.

Not only can your child be subjected to a ridiculous amount of advertising from marketing companies, anyone can use that information to locate your child if they really want to find him or her. They can also contact your child through personal emails or phone and have a picture to identify them.

"Directory information may sound innocuous, but it can include sensitive information about each student that is quite detailed," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "And after the school releases this data, it is considered to be public information and you've lost control of it. I don't think most parents know this."

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), a student's directory information includes home address, email address, telephone number, date and place of birth, height and weight, the clubs or sports teams they've joined - even a photograph.

FERPA was written before the creation of the Internet, when a student's personal information was stored in a file cabinet and privacy was not such a big issue. Today, the data is just what a stalker, abuser or identity thief needs.

FERPA also gives parents the right to see what “directory information” the school has about their children. You have a right to block or limit access to that information. But, the window of time you can do that is short, sometimes just a few weeks after school begins. Once the time frame expires, you cannot stop the release of your child’s personal information until the next school year.

This is especially important for domestic violence survivors who are hiding from their abuser. Information that's released without their knowledge could jeopardize their safety.

"When there are situations where the survivor has left with the child and has custody of the child and they're living elsewhere, they want to know that their abuser doesn't know where they are living," said Kaofeng Lee, deputy director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. "If this information is available, the abuser could get access to where this child is going to school which will pinpoint exactly where the family is now living and make it possible to find them."

Many schools do not do a good job in letting parents know about the form. Some have even neglected to provide the form to parents and some schools have worded the forms in such a way as to discouraged parents from signing them.

It’s a battle for your child’s data and parents need to be aware that they have the right and the means to protect that information from getting out to marketing firms and individuals.

Congress is scheduled to review FERPA to see what further privacy protections are needed to keep students and families’ information private in the digital age. Until then, parents have to seek out and make sure that the opt-out forms are signed, sealed and delivered.

A warning to parents; this isn’t a one-time fix either. You must sign these forms every year that your child attends school.

Source: Herb Weisbaum, http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/student-privacy-n423466

 

 

 

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