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Archive for the ‘Back to School – Elementary’ Category

Top 10 Ways Elementary-Age Children Transition Back to School

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Top 10 List

About this time of year conversations among parents of school-age children begin to change. Talk turns from summer camp to school-ready bedtime rituals, mosquito repellant to earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for swimsuits to shopping for school supplies.

Not to be outdone, we here at achievebalance.org decided to dedicate this article to:

Top 10 Ways

Parents Can Smooth The Elementary Child’s Transition From Summer to Fall

Enjoy and share with a friend!

  1. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour. School summer hours are usually posted online and office personnel are happy to show you and your child around.

  2. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and which food groups are allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV). Don’t be the parent who packs cupcakes and peanuts if those foods are forbidden.

  3. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare and pack extra water, especially if the commute is long and the heat is extreme.

  4. Create your list of emergency contacts and share that list with your child. It’s good for your child to know who may pick him up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list. Create a password only you, your child, and the designated contact will know for added safety.

  5. While you are picking up school supplies, remember that your child will probably get additional lists from teachers the first day of school. Don’t get stressed; budget accordingly.

  6. Discuss ‘phones at bedtime’ rules before the first day of school. Believe it or not your child does NOT need her phone for an alarm clock. If you plan to make your child leave her phone in the kitchen at bedtime, introduce the idea now so she doesn’t have to go cold turkey the night before her first day of school.

  7. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms still have rules about school clothes.

  8. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas. For a young child, lunchtime is an exciting break during the day and can be a bit of comfort from home. The first day of school is not the time to surprise a picky eater with food they hate or a junk-food junky with a health-food-only lunch.

  9. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check yourself. Your child may be picking up on YOUR anxiety. Make sure you project confidence and encouragement about school when your child is around.

  10. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! It may become a tradition you can both look forward to every year.

We at achievebalance.org wish you and your family an amazing school year!

Adjusting to a New School: Anxiety and Making Friends

Monday, August 31st, 2015

In this uncertain economy, relocating is usually accepted by the grateful job hunter as just a part of the job description. The impact on the children cannot be minimized, however, and children will process the event in their own way depending on their age, the number of past moves they can recall, and the distance that will be traveled. Important questions are: Will there be an acculturation issue?  Will there be a language barrier?  Has your child ever visited the area in which you intend to relocate? Guarding against new school anxiety is all about learning the landscape.

Here are some things the experts recommend when adjusting to a new school and town:

1. Make choosing a school a team effort.  If you’re choosing between a few schools, talk with your child about what each one has to offer. After you choose the school, allow your child to visit and take a tour. This will greatly reduce new school anxiety.

2. Take time to say goodbye to the old school. Make a scrapbook, or ask all the kids in the class sign a T-shirt, picture frame, or an autograph book. Make sure you also give old friends and teachers information about how to stay in touch with your child.

3. Keep a positive focus! Present the new school as a place where they will learn new things and make friends.

4. Encourage school involvement. Your child is more likely to engage academically if he/she feels connected through a school activity, club or sport. Ask:

  • What are your goals for the school year?
  • How are you going to get involved in school outside of the classroom?
  • What is your favorite thing to do right now and how might you find others like you?

5. If you are moving your family to a location where a different language is spoken, think about learning the language and culture together. Conversing at the dinner table only in the new language can lead to lots of laughs.

Some good resources are:

For younger children:

The Berenstain Bears Go to School, by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House, 1978)
Arthur’s Teacher Trouble, by Marc Brown (Trumpet, 1986)

This was originally published in 2012 but it is still a great resource!

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

 

Children with Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Newcomers and Ex-Pats

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

This article by Achievebalance.org therapist Jason Davis was originally posted in 2012 but it contains great info parents can use now.

Parents who have concerns about a child’s academic or behavioral progress turn to schools to help them determine what is best for their child. Likewise, when school personnel notice a child having difficulty maintaining passing grades or appropriate behavior, they will act as a special education advocate and may turn to parents to introduce options for intervention.

In the United States, school districts have programs that can assist parents in determining the appropriate academic placement and interventions for their children with special educational needs. Many parents do not know what these programs do or how they can best assist their child and it can indeed be confusing. Most interventions will either be classified as 504 or Special Education.

The term, “504 program” comes from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This national law protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. If parents or the school can document that a child has a disability, part of the special education process are interventions that can be designed to help the child succeed academically. 504 interventions are usually classified as “accommodations.” Examples of disabilities that can be covered under the 504 program include everything from something temporary like a broken arm to chronic conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, or diabetes.

Special education programs fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs are designed for children who have a disability that is considered a “qualifying condition.” Examples of qualifying special education disabilities are blindness, deafness, and developmental delays. Children receiving special education services will have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) rather than accommodations.

Parents are encouraged to visit the government website for IDEA and talk to their local school district to learn more about disabilities that fall under both 504 and special education and how they can partner with their school to develop the best plan for their child.

Jason Davis is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He received his Masters of Science in Counseling from the University of Houston Clear Lake and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from the University of Texas at Austin. He can be found providing counseling services at achievebalance.org in The Woodlands, Texas. Contact Jason at 936-697-2822 or http://www.jasondaviscounseling.com

Bullying: What Parents Can Do

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Bullying has changed. It is not the same type of bullying when we, adults, were in school. Remember when we were in school? You may have seen or been exposed to bullying or seen someone bullied. It was horrible, I am sure. Children can say and do horrible things that will stay with a bullying victim for a lifetime. Today it has changed. Today, children are not only bullied at school, face to face, but also through social media. If you see a dramatic change in behavior such as refusing to go to school, low grades, a lack of self-confidence or self worth, then your child my be a victim of bullying. Social Media has become a tool for bullies to use. If you discover that your child is threatened with physical aggression, threatened or called names repeatedly, then your child is being bullied. If a group of children are pressuring your child to make unwanted choices, then your child is being bullied.Bully’s make threats on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or simply through text messaging. What’s worse is that your child will be extremely reluctant to tell you what is happening. A child’s social life means everything to them. They want to be accepted by their peers and deeply care about what their friends and enemies think of them.

There is something you can do. Spend time with your children on a weekly basis. Take them out to dinner or for coffee and talk about their day and share your day with them too. Find something your child loves to do and do it with them. Contact your child’s school and share your concerns over possible bullying. Most schools have extensive procedures to investigate and stop bullying. Finally, monitor your child’s social media through their electronic devices. If bullying is happening, contact your phone company and have the alleged bully blocked from your child’s accounts. Remember, your child will not share this info with you. They will want to solve this themselves. Help them work through this.

by Jason Davis, LPC
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Parenting the Age of Texting: What are the Rules?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Helping your child navigate the world of texting and appropriate messaging means only one thing; you’re going to have to learn about the world of texting and appropriate messaging. You have your own rules about your personal style of texting and phone use, but how does that translate to behavior you expect from your kids? Do this experiment to find out.

For one week, notice the number of times you reach for your phone. No judging, just noticing. Do you check facebook at a stoplight? When you are with your kids at the park are you taking the opportunity to continue a texting conversation with a friend? Are you able to put your phone out of reach at the dinner table? After one week taking note of your own phone patterns, you should be ready to put some reasonable rules in place for your kids.

In case you’re not up to that, or you just need something right now, here are a few ideas (along with the explanations behind them) to get you started.

  1. Mom and dad have the password to your phone. They may choose never to use it, but they must have it. Why? Kids are compulsive and that is normal. Texting as a means of shooting off communication that is not well thought out is tempting for adults and teens alike. Sharing the password with mom or dad gives the message that parents will keep you safe, even if it makes you mad.
  2. If you must answer a text around other people or family members, announce in a normal speaking voice, “I have a text; do you mind if I answer this?” Why? Breaking eye contact to answer a text during a conversation with a person physically present gives the message “you don’t matter” to the physically present person. Even if conversation is not directed at the teen (for example at the dinner table) the teen is expected to be a potential part of the conversation, not partially present.
  3. Of course no texting and driving! But don’t forget:
    1. No texting and walking
    2. No texting and walking in a crosswalk
    3. No texting and walking down stairs
    4. You get the picture

Why?  The potential for injury and victimization. Subjects asked to walk across a crowded plaza while texting stopped noticing their surroundings. How bad was it? They missed a clown on a unicycle and a person dressed in a gorilla suit. Imagine how a mugger or rapist might get missed by a distracted texter.

How Classroom Routines for Children Provide Security in their Daily Education

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

This is the first of a four-part series that examines the importance of rituals in our lives. This article will examine the daily rituals that we all take for granted, as we often fail to recognize their role in keeping us grounded. It is important to know “routine” definition. A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed, or a fixed program. These daily rituals are particularly significant as children start school, when parents adjust schedules to accommodate the changes from a more flexible summer routine to the more demanding requirements of a daily education program.

Our schools are very rich in the usage of rituals. The day begins with morning announcements, the children have certain times and routines for classes, recess, lunch, etc. Have you ever observed routines for children throughout their day at school, including the classroom routines? They know exactly what to anticipate the moment they walk in the door. There is a place for their backpacks, jackets, supplies. They know when they are supposed to take out materials from their desks, open books, etc. In order for rituals to be effective, they have to be meaningful, so the rituals in the schools and classrooms provide a security for the children as they become comfortable knowing what to expect. Have you ever listened to a child explain that they had a substitute teacher? You can tell from the child’s voice that the routine was different. Have you ever heard a child explain that they had music that day rather than PE? It is significant for them, because it is a change in what they expected.

As schools create daily rituals for children, it is also crucial for parents to use rituals in the home to provide that same sense of “grounding.’ Getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time, reading books together, doing homework at specified times, etc. Children want and need that security that rituals provide them.
Surprise yourself and make a list of all the daily rituals that you have provided for your family.

Next month we will examine those rituals that families create for special occasions such as birthdays.

Anxious Children: How to Ease Anxiety and Treating Anxiety in Young Children

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Jason* (not his real name) enjoyed being at home and could always find things to do. He was highly creative and enjoyed making up plays, playing music, and doing art projects. His mother loved her son and relished his creativity.

The first day of school brought out another side of Jason. The morning started with Jason resisting getting dressed. Finally packed into the car, he told his Mom he didn’t want to go to school. The closer school got the more distressed Jason became. The morning climaxed with Jason refusing to get out of the car in the school parking lot and Mom having to drag him out and into his classroom where Jason hung onto her for dear life.

Childhood anxiety creates problems for the whole family if it is not understood and dealt with appropriately. In helping your anxious child, it is important to remember these things:

1. Your child is not “weak” or “immature.” Your child is struggling with an anxiety issue.

2. Be supportive and loving to your child. It is helpful to explain calmly what he/she can expect during the day and when you will be back for pick-up.

3. Maintain a regular schedule for bedtime routines and morning routines. Post the schedule on the fridge.

4. Provide lots of emotional support and hugs.

5. Talk with the teacher about our child’s anxiety and elicit her support for anxious children.

If your child’s anxiety does not abate after a reasonable time, talk to your pediatrician and request a full physical exam so as to learn the right way for how to ease anxiety. For children with constant anxiety that interferes with their daily life, play therapy has proven to be very helpful. A licensed therapist can provide the support and direction you need for treating anxiety in young children.. It is also important to consider there is medication that can make a world of difference.

Sue Watkins, MA, LMFT, has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Mothers Who Work

Friday, September 14th, 2012

From PTO boardrooms to corporate boardrooms everywhere, the debate rages on. What is better for kids, a mom who works full time outside the home or a stay at home mom who works as a full time parent and homemaker? Just as important, what is better for the mom? First we must be clear that both types of moms are working moms and there is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work.

If we look back in history we find mothers who work in fields while older and younger women in the village worked to nurse and care for the children. During the industrial revolution we saw both moms and children working to earn money for the family. Children with working mothers in this instance were likely to accompany their mom to work.

Today in third-world cultures women work from dusk till dawn securing sustenance for the family. There is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work, and moms that get enough sleep may be hard to come by too!

Today, it appears deciding to work outside the home versus inside may affect a mother’s health. A recent Akron University study found that mothers who worked full time steadily before and after the birth of their first child had better mental and physical health. The study by Dr. Frech and her co-author, Sarah Demaske considered nearly 30 years of data provided by 2,540 mothers as participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

Far from being a ‘call to work’ for stay at home mothers or a condemnation of personal choices made by women based on advantages and disadvantages, the study hopes to illuminate that choosing to work full time outside the home as a mom is not a bad thing. Those mothers dealing with the guilt of leaving children with caregivers to work outside the home can perhaps feel a little better knowing first, mothers have been doing the same thing for millennia, and second, they may be doing something positive for their own health and wellbeing. The best careers for moms are the ones that they choose be it staying home going to work or a balance of both.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT  has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Teaching Kids About Money

Monday, August 20th, 2012

It’s August and that can only mean one thing – spending money! A recent survey indicated that moms spend more on their kids during back to school shopping time than they do the entire year. While the jury is still out about whether it is better to give your kids an allowance or make them earn their spending money, back to school shopping is a great time to teach your kids good spending habits, budgeting, and discount hunting.

Sit with your kids and explain that they will have a certain dollar amount that you will spend for school clothes. If they have their own money they can supplement this, but be clear that you will only buy them necessities (no crazy hats or studded belts). Have them put items on hold at the store for your inspection before you use your credit card or cash to purchase the items.

Another great approach to teaching kids about money is to have them go on a bargain hunt the week before the planned shopping outing. Most kids know about checking out the catalogues before the holidays, but explain to them that if they can find good bargains they may be able to get more stuff. Learning to budget is made easier when teens see how much more their money will buy by looking for deals. Teach them about early bird specials, two for ones, couponing, and even vintage clothing stores. For older teens this can be a great time to teach them about using credit cards responsibly for discounts.

You may find as you are teaching your kids about good money management you discover you have some bad money habits yourself. Don’t despair! Use this time to hone your own skills, take a course (we recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University), and get your own budget in shape.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

Electronic Media Boundaries with Teens

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Summer is ending and it’s time to develop some good back to school habits. Your child’s school is developing policies regarding the use of cell phones, electronic readers, and smart pads during the school day. Take a cue from them and start now devising your own rules about your child’s use of electronics at home. Call it a ‘family social media policy’, or give it the bravado of calling it an Electronic Manifesto: putting reigns on gaming, texting and facebooking is a smart thing to do. Some important things to consider are bedtime use, and social networking.

Recently researchers at Columbia University concluded that “adolescents and teens with strict bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to be depressed and to have suicidal thoughts than classmates whose parents allowed them to stay up until midnight or even later.” If your teen likes to use his phone or ipad to play games, text, or use social media in bed, he may be staying up later than you think. Eliminating bedtime use by creating a ‘electronics parking spot’ in a central location in the home could help your teen not only get to sleep earlier, but also improve sleep quality.

It is absolutely normal for teens to try on different personalities (jocks, Goths, Emo, etc.) and sites like Facebook, and Instagram allow teens to portray their different selves through words and pictures. Not all teens know how to share appropriately, however, and what they share on social media sites can have lasting effects. Raising teenagers in the electronics age means holding them accountable for how they are accessing the online realm. Insisting your teen share passwords to social networking sites will not be popular but it is a must for parents who want to keep their teens safe while they explore.

Addressing bedtime electronics use and social media passwords is a great way to start designing your ‘Electronics Manifesto’ for your home. Remember that half of setting boundaries with kids is to take into account their thoughts and concerns. So listen to your teen, don’t use the manifesto to be controlling, and as always, practice what you preach.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

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