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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Parents: School Shootings and the Myth of Quality Time

During the first hour of his May 21, 2018 radio show Denis Prager; the creator of the popular video blog series PragerU talked about the root cause of the school shootings in the US. He basically said it is the lack of Character Education in the school system. I think he is right. We have replaced character education with emotional intelligence education. Even worse we have told parents it is ocak to spend less time with their children as long as the the time spent is constructive and relationship building. However, this is not true. Character is not built quickly it is built over a long period of time whre children and parents spend lots of time together talking about what character is and how it is build.

What is interesting about this is that as I am reading Simon Sinek's book Leaders Eat Last it is also all about character or rather the lack of it in Corporate America. Where the guys at the top are looking out for themselves rather than looking out for their employees. The same could be said at today's FBI, the leaders are looking out for their won interests instead of the rank and file officers serving by putting their lives daily. Thus, there is a real crisis of character in our society today. What I know is that character is not built in a day. It is built from the age of 2 and it requires lots of lessons and understanding in what moral development is and how it is formed.

There is a theorist by the name of  Lawrence Kohlberg who crafted the theory of Moral Development. Many have said his theory is erroneous. However, I am going to share it with you and let you decide.
According to his theory; moral maturity is reached when a person can see, recognize, and choose to take action on behalf of another person who is vulnerable to the plight of someone less fortunate than themselves.

He groups them as follows:

The six stages of moral development are grouped into three levels of morality: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional morality.

As shown in the graphic above each of these stages are divided into two stages each. Starting from the bottom are the typical moral development of a two year old to the top which according to the theory should be reach around the age of 13. However, we know that in today's culture this maturity is often not reach until a person reaches college-level if then. According to the final level of the theory communication is the key to understanding. Yet, with the twittersphere and texting communication is lacking in the lives of our child with their friends and even with us.

Several years ago I noticed a Mom sitting in Chili's waiting for their food to arrive. Both mom and daughter were on their devices. I found this sad here was an opportunity for this mother and daughter to connect and communicate an yet their devices had their attention instead. The problem has become more pervasive. So, I want to challenge all parents who are reading this article. Get back to family dinners at least three times a week where you connect as a family and talk. Make it mandatory for everyone to be at the table device free. Find out about each others day, talk about past and upcoming events. Talk about movies you all are interested. Afterwards play one board game start with a short one like Sorry or Uno and work yup to Monopoly and Clue. Spend time talking, sharing, listening, and most of all paying attention to body language and facial expressions. Quantity of time spent with your children talking about expectations and hearing theirs can build a strong bond but most of all it can build a strong character. This is what is needed in our schools. A child who can see another who is lonely or being rejected can reach out and help a child who is not. Sitting at a lunch table and defending a child who is picked on and offering support to that child can prevent the hopelessness and anger which leads to school violence. It is not the guns we need to be worried about it is the character of the children who attend school with our own.

Believe in Parenting!

Friday, April 20, 2018

DeKalb County Bus Driver Should be Fired for Putting Children in Mortal Danger!

As a parent coach, early childhood educator, and a former school teacher I am completely appalled and discouraged by the way the bus drivers where the Fekalb County Georgia left children in the cold on a cool morning when they didn't show up for them. I chose not to write this blog until this evening because I wanted to find out how they handled the issue on Friday before I put my two cents on the net.

So, now that I know they did not go back to work on Friday I am going to share with you my thoughts. I think it was severely irresponsible, selfish, and very dangerous for the bus drivers to just simply not show up. We have not yet heard the stories of what happened to children who ended up waiting for however long before they were either picked up by their parents or went back home. What really concerns me is that they can just leave high schoolers and middle schoolers out on their own but elementary school children as young as 5 years old. Apparently this was something that with decided to be done and they could have chosen to say we're not showing up for work tomorrow. They could have released it to the media WSB in particular so that parents would be warned that their children would be stranded out in the cold on a public street, or at home alone. In my opinion every bus driver who did not show up for work that day should lose their job. Not because they went on strike it is completely their right to go on strike. But, because and this day in age when children are followed to school by predators,  are abducted while waiting for the school bus. And while parents trust that their children will be picked up in a timely manner to ensure their safety these bus drivers broke contract not with the school district but with the parents  and the children. These people can no longer be trusted to put the safety of our children first.

I seriously doubt that they will fire all four hundred of these people because they're skills are unique and driving a school bus full of children is not a job many people can step into.

 However if I was a parent of a DeKalb County child who was left out in danger while the bus drivers went on strike, I would be demanding some serious repercussions for these bus drivers. Not only would I insist that the school district did not give them raises I would insist that the school district fine the bus drivers 5% of their pay until they paid back the county the amount of tax dollars lost by them not showing up for work. Then make  automatic that all four hundred of those drivers not be rehired for the 2018-2019 school year.

Atlanta is one of the cities that fight off sex trafficking of children every day these drivers by not showing up for work and not picking the kids up put them in the kind of danger that is completly unacceptable for any person who has responsibility of caring for and respecting our children. They could have come up with a way to do this where the children would have remained safe but instead they wanted the shock value of children being left out in the cold. I'm very angry and I don't even live in DeKalb County know how these parents feel but I would be extremely angry at what these bus drivers did to the children who live in my city.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

FIRE Safety for the Family

Just last week a father here in Atlanta had to throw his two young children from a second story window to protect them from the fire raging through their apartment building. Thank goodness neither of them was seriously hurt.  However, with just a little planning we here at PT&A hope that you can avoid ever having to make such a choice. Fire safety at home is all about planning and practice.  There are some important things you need to think about in preparing for a fire.

1.    Do your children know what to do?

Many fire fighters have found children under beds, in closets, and a myriad of other places in a house fire.  Just because your child goes to school and participates in fire drills, does not necessarily mean they will understand what to do at home.  You need to prepare your children for what to do if fire strikes at home.

2.    Are you prepared for a fire?

So, many times we think we are prepared for an emergency here is a small list of questions for you to consider to see if you are ready for a fire.  Where is the fire extinguisher in your house? Do you know how to use it? When was the last time you took it to the Fire Station to have it checked? Are your fire alarms working? Do you check the batteries every six months(Daylight Savings time is a good time to check)? Do you have a Carbon Monoxide detector? Is there a working battery in it in case the electricity goes out? What substances do you use to put out a kitchen fire/grease fire?  Where are your important papers kept? When at home where do you keep your purse, cell phone and keys? Do you have an emergency fire kit?  If your home is damaged by fire and you can not stay there where will you go? Do you have an emergency financial plan if you need to board your pets or stay at a hotel?
If you could not answer any of these questions then you are not ready for a fire       to strike.

3.    Do you have an escape route planned?
In order to have an escape route you need to be aware of where all of the doors and windows are in your house and which one is most likely your best escape if you cannot exit via the front door.  This is especially important if you live on the second floor.  Do you own a collapsible ladder to use to escape from the second floor?

4.    What do you need for an emergency kit?

Here is a list of things you should have ready in a bag that is near your escape exit in case of fire: A jump drive with copies of your important papers (include a driver’s license, insurance papers, birth certificates, social security cards, include copies of anything important which may be on your home computer.  Medicines that you or your children need to take to ensure your health. You can ask your doctor or pediatrician for samples to keep in your emergency kit. Also you should include an extra set of keys, a check book, an emergency credit/prepaid debit card, and a list of emergency numbers. You will need clothing at least three set for each person including underwear and socks and travel size toiletrtes for each family member (diapers and wet wipes if there is an infant or small child), at least one blanket, one bottle of water for each person, and non-perishable snacks. Include a small first aid kit. I suggest this fire safety kit be kept in a sturdy duffle type bag with a variety of compartments that will allow for toilettes to leak or break if the bag needs to be thrown. I also suggest a baby sling or body attachment carrier is included especially in the case of a second floor escape plan.  Place this kit These five steps will hopefully prepare you and your family in case the unthinkable happens. We hear at PT&A hope it never does, but it is better to be  prepared than to ever have to face the choice of throwing your child from a second story window to save their fife.  Be safe!!

Monday, April 2, 2018

How Parents Can BuildiSocial/Emotiomal Development in NICU Babies

While attending a recent conference on the effect of prematurity om babies who are born medically fragile a major concern was based on attachment and social/emotional development. As an early educational professional I know there are many things parents can do to help their children even while they are in the NICU.As a former baby of the NICU I know attachment can be formed between an ill child and her parents. It just takes time and dedication on the part of parents.

Here is a list of things parents can do to help their children:
  1. Read and tape your voice reading stories, which can be played for your child while you are not there. The first sense which develops en utero is hearing. The baby has spent months listening to your voice. That is one thing missing from their world. By taping the reading of stories you are giving your child two things. First a sense of security because he/she can hear you. Two language is really important for children who provide an article of clothes my whicare premature they need to hear at least 30 million words before going to school. This reading of stories will help them with their language development.
  2. Breast feed, pump, or find donated human milk  for your child. Breast milk provides antibodies, and other nutrients which support both brain and  eye development both of which are extremely important for a preemie.
  3. Touch your baby as much as possible. Studies show children who a e not touched have a harder time both thriving and development my strong emotional attachment. Touching and holing your baby as much as possible helps. Which is another benefit of breast feeding.
  4. Provide a cloth or article of clothing which smells like Mom. Smell is another sens children use to identify Mom. This can also help provide a sense of connection to Mom.
  5. Talk with the nurse about your needs, concerns, and a he best way to support them as hey support you. Having your child in the NICU is extremely different cult, but you are not alone you are surrounded by a team of professionals who a e on your side and want to see your child healthy enough to go home with you where he/she belongs. Opening up know what you n Ed. Share my post Support them can help them help you. Do not be afraid to ask. But, know they may not always have the title me or already answer when you ask. Let them know you are willing to wait for the answer, trust them to get back to you.
  6. Ask for help and support from your family and friends. This is not the time for a " stiff upper lip" or to" be the strong one" yes your child needs you to be strong for them. But, Durham nag this to me you need someone else to be strong for you. Let your friends and family know what you need, they love and want to help, let them know how. Share our post Supporting Parents of Children in NICU. It will give them a place to start and also help you think of other ways you could use some support. 
  7. Take care of yourself and your own emotional health. Too many times parent try to give children what they do not have themselves. The truth is you cannot give what you do not own. Social/Mental/Emotional health are a linked in order to take care of all of them you need to be willing and open to receive the help you need. First, having a baby is the most joyous and stressful experience in life. Having a child in the NICU can short circuit the best of us. Join a support group of parents who have been and are in your situation. You are not the only parent who has had a child in this situation and you will not be the last. Get around people who have been there they are your greatest mentors! Talk about it! We all have at least one friend we tell all of our down and dirty secrets to; get in a private place and pour out your heart, thoughts, and fears. Get this person to help you look at them logically and make a plan. If you are one of those rate people without such a person in your life; this is what therapy is for. Ask in the NIDU for a list of therapist who work with parents in your position. Do things which recharge your batteries and brings some emotional relief as you go through this experience. Take care of yourself. Your child will eventually come home. When that happens you will need to be as healthy as you can in all ways. They will need you to not be overly tired and stressed. But, at your very best. This means you need to have to leave the hospital at some point and just allow yourself to be. Lean on your spouse. This is something my Mom and Dad had to do when I was sick. It made their connection stronger. They talked about their hopes and fears. They shared their thoughts and weakness when it came to caring for me. The chose to see each other s allies not blaming each other but supporting and loving each other through the situation. They were married for 35 years before my father died. Marriage can survive prematurity buy, you have to build each other up through this time to make it. You can do it. It takes determination and grit, uy you can do it. Your child will need a safe and loving home to overcome the issues still to come from being premature everything you can do to build yourself , your spouse, and your marriage will help. If you are not married surround yourself with friends who will love and support you. Use your support group of parents to help. Ask for help!
  8. Pray and belief above all else that God cares about all of you. He is not far off but holding you and carrying you through this. He is close and he isther to help. Again ask for the help!
God had Aaron pray a prayer over the children of iserael and he used this prayer to put His name and blessing on the children of Israel. I encourage you to pray it over your baby at every opportunity. It is found in Numbers 6:24-27.

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Believe in Parenting

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Supporting Parents of Children in the NICU

On October 11, 1965 a child was born at 30 weeks. She was not breathing at birth. The doctor was to visit with her three hours later to offer her comfort and solace on the loss of her child only to be informed that her daughter was alive and in the neonatal unit of the hospital. What the doctor did not know is a nurse gave the infant cpr for two and a half hours untils she could breath on her own. That child suffered many seizures in her young life and was on phenobarbital for several years. Her mother said she slept for five days after being taken off of it at age four. At age five she had eye surgery for a lazy eye. She was a precocious kid who never met a stranger and too this day is a social butterfly. That child was me. And my parents were living in Japan far away from home and had only friends to support them.I will never know what my parents went through, but I know my Mom was a loving support to me all the days of her life! 

Friday March 23 I went to the second annual seminar called Supporting the Social Emotional Development of children who Suffer from Prematurity. It was interesting to sit and hear all of the issues children who are premature suffer from knowing I was one of those children. I can tell you the difference I did not hear was how important it is to help parents understand the issues but, to still expect the most out of their children. I think this is the most important thing we can give to parents of NICU kids. But, that is for another post. This post is about offing support to people as they are going through this time of their lives.

These parents need support in their everyday lives. Everything you can do to help them on the short and long-term to help life along as they practically live at he hospital will be a big help. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Parking is a big deal. Most hospitals have a certain period of time a patient must be in the hosptial before they wave parking. Give them a donation to help with the fees.
  2. Prepare snacks that can be eaten at the hospital. Eating is something many parents either fail to think about or can hardly afford. Put together a package of healthy snacks for them. Make sue to include fruit, veggies, and protein in your snack choices. Have some junk too but make it mostly health conscious.
  3. Clean their house. Parents get home sometimes and having a clean house they can just relax in and be at peace is a real blessing!
  4. Do their laundry. Help keep them in clean clothes and off need be take them clean clothes to the hospital.
  5. Encourage them to leave the hospital and go to est or a movie. Get them out of the fire for a few hours.
  6. Remember Dad is just as overwhelmed as Mom. In these situations a lot of men feel very frustrated they consider themselves the protectors of their families and in this situation they are helpless and can do very little in the circumstances. They need their guy friends to be there for support. Take them out to box or shoot. They have a lot of pent up aggression, fear, and angst.
  7. Be loving and supportive. In other words just listen. Unless you have been through it there is nothing you can really say. But, listening and being a shoulder is important.
  8. Find support groups for them to go to and connect with other NICU parents. There is something cathartic about being around others who are going through or have been through the same experiences as you. Get the information and let them kn ow about it. Don't push when they are ready they will ask.
  9. Just sit with them in the waiting room. NICU waiting  rooms can be lonely places. Get a group of friend or church members to take turns sitting with the parents and supporting them. Just having someone to sit with you can be very helpful and help parents feel less alone.
  10. Pray with and for them during this time and beyond. The prayers of the righteous avail much. Just talking to God about their situation can bring amazing relief. When my Mother passed I can tell you it was the prayers of those who loved her and me which got me through. There are no words to hell you what prayer support can do for someone in this situation.
  11. Just be there for them in whatever way you can!

Know that this journey can be long and hard just having your baby in the NICU for a few days is hard and stressful. But, when it gets to be one, three, four months or longer it can weigh down a family. The longer the child neexds to be there the more support they need. Be there! Love them, support them, get down in the trenches with them and help them fight. You are like the men who helped Moses by holing up his hands. Hold them up and be there to celebrate when their child leaves the NICU and again when they come home. Be a brue friend to these Moms and Dads do not leave them to fight alone become brothers and sisters in arm. Help them to fight the good fight and WIN!!

Believe in Parening

Want more information ptanda.org

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kindergarten or Bust!-Registration in Fulton County end of March

It is  February 22nd. it is hard to think of your pre-Kindergartener going off to Big Kids School this fall. However, ready or not it is time to start planning for registration if you child i going to Fulton County Schools. The AJC posted an article on February 2, 2018 Fulton County Sets Up pre-K, Kindergarten Registration the dates are March 28 from 8 an-4 pm and March 29 from 8 am to 7 pm. So, six weeks ahead is a good time to begin to plan ahead. If your child is in a pre-K program it is likely they will have a meeting for you where the center will give you al the current forms they have so you can register your child. Many centers will also plan field trips to Kindergarten classrooms so kids will have a chance to check things out.

I have some suggestions for you as you embark on getting your child ready to make the jump to Big Kids School.

  1. Learning is a process. The process is made up of four things. Instruction, Supervised Practice, Independent Practice, and 
  2. School Choice choosing a school is about making sure your children are in the right place is something a yearly decision. Look at the current school situation. If you are happy with it then choose it. If not then it is time to look at something else.
  3. The most important skills for Kindergarten are not leater or number recognition but emotional intelligence skills. Take a look at the list below.
Elements of a child ready to enter school:
-Cooperative play with others
-Ability to identify own feelings
- Self-control
-Follows routines and rules
-Listens and follows directions
-Ability to get along with others in conflict
-Uses words to express ideas, and ask questions
-Communicates on an age- appropriate level

When Kindergarten teachers and other early professionals talk about social/emotional development or emotional intelligence these are the things they are talking about. In study after study it is these skills which lead to school and life-long success. Kindergarten is to learn the other skills. These skills are the foundation for Kindergarten; be sure your kids are ready.

Believe in Parenting
Want more information? ptanda.org

High-quality Childcare Does Not Just Happen!

Last week I had a wonderful conversation with another parent educator. She is doing some great things and I wanted to know about them. I also wanted to share with her what was happening with PT&A. During the course of our conversation she made an off-hand quip when I spoke about high-quality child care. She said something to the effect “well everybody has a different idea of quality in daycare, right?” She was surprised and even shocked when I told her there are actually industry standards for early education and there are 10 Standards with detailed information below each to the tune of a book of more than 100 pages. Unfortunately, this is the case most of the time when I talk to other professionals about what I do.

It can be frustrating when other professionals assume that early education is not really education. I usually start a conversation with elementary educators about early childhood; with the fact that there are 90-semester hours of difference in the two fields of education. Then, I tell them in order to get my MA in ECE, I needed to set aside everything about my undergraduate degree and in essence start over.

In today’s research driven society the first five years have become in vogue. People from everywhere are coming out of the woodwork concerened about what is happening in a field I have been a part of since 1987. They are concerned about this knowledge and want to jump in and do what is necessary to take brain development seriously. Because no one is doing it well. FEALLY?

High-quality standards are important and necessary it has been defined and the standards are clear and precise.

Assessment of Child Programs
Staff Competencies, Training, and support
Community Relationships
Physical Environment
Leadership and Management

I am on a crusade to ensure parents and the general pubic understand what these standards are and why they are important. I hope you will come on the journey with me. If you have young children in care this information is vital to you. Share it with other parents you know and help all of us understand the standards and use them to ensure our children are not just well taken care of, but are receiving the babies quality care available!

Believe in Parenting

What more information? ptanda.org