Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pregnancy, Self-Care, Teens, Education and Fun!!!

I want to talk with you about gaining your support. I was talking with a friend who is a neonatal nurse at Kennestone Hospital Mother and Child Center here in Atlanta, she was telling me about how tough it was to see a teen give birth to a baby. Then to watch the teens to watch her mother trying to be a parent and  a grandparent and just the struggle she saw there. Then in talking to a client later that same weekend about her pregnancy and how she could find all this information about how to care for her baby but very little about taking care of herself. This is when  I realized there was a great need for an expo for parents about them and their babies. Including special sessions for teens with babies and their parents.

Over the years there have been my expos to showcase all types of products for families everything from car, boat, and kitchen gadgets and yes baby gadgets.  However, there is still room for another expo here in Atlanta one dedicated to helping parents not only take care of baby but a way to take care of themselves. Coming April 2018 the & BABY EXPO is designed just for that purpose.

The mission is to educate, equip, and entertain parents and their children 3 and younger.

Educate seminars on the following:

  • Doulas and Placenta Encapsulation
  • Self-Care
  • Creating a Sleep Schedule
  • Breastfeeding vs Formula
  • Diapers disposable vs cloth
  • Choosing Childcare
  • Baby Food Making
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Keeping your Marriage the Priority
  • Staying in High School and planning for College
  • And More

Equip giving parent information on a variety of issues we will have vendors to discuss and have products for:

  • Safe Sleeping
  • Car Safety
  • Bathtub Safety
  • Water Safety
  • Baby proofing the home
  • Nursery/Big Kid decor
  • The list goes on...
Entertain bringing kids, teens, moms, and Dads a variety of fun activities designed to support family fun and create a lasting memory.

  • Balloon animal artists
  • Face painting
  • Reading Stations
  • Childcare
  • Mani/Pedis
  • Darts/Bean Bag Tossing
  • Reading and Pictures with Blue the Blue Great Dane
  • & Lots more
I stated the post telling you I need your help. As you know I am the executive director of Parents, Teachers, and Advocates a nonprofit organization. I would like to ask you for a tax-deductible gift in order to market this expo. We are looking to raise $3500. Our goal is to raise these funds by midnight November 28, which is #Giving Tuesday. I appreciate you and we at PT&A strive to serve you and your children with every post we write and the information you will find on our website. Thank you for your support our efforts to bring the & BABY EXPO to the Metro Atlanta area click here to go to our donation page.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Parenting a Pregnant Teen Mom

This past Saturday after services at Congregation Beth Hallel where I attend services, I stood in the lobby talking to a friend who is a nurse at Kennestone Mother and Child center. She told me of several girls age 12 having babies. We both sensed the anointing of the Holy Spirit and knew there was some sort of calling on me to help these young girls. However, it has also occurred to me there may not be much support for the mothers of teen mothers. So, I am writing this blog piece for you.

The first thing I need to say is this it is okay to be both disappointed and angry. However, pouring condemnation and shave down o your daughter's head will only cause her and the baby stress. This is not the best think for her or for you. Get out of the house  alone with someone you trust and let out your anger and frustration with another adult who can handle your fit. Try your best to be supportive with your daughter.

Secondly, this is not your fault and it is not your daughters fault. Whether she is pregnant by a boy her own age or by a sexual predator there is very little either you or her could do to stop it unless, it is not to have sex in the first place. We all encourage out teens to not have sex before they are married or at least adults in a committed relationship. We have to recognize our culture is based on human sexuality. We also need to understand this is the agenda of planned parenthood and they work tirelessly to ensure they have a ready group of families who need their services. Not too many others will tell you this but the truth is the truth. There is a reason they supply school nurses with millions of condoms and it is not to protect kids from sexually transmitted diseases.

It is difficult to curb curiosity in kids who see sexuality all over our culture. What I encourage you to do is to lay aside blame and instead take time to remember the fears, uncertainty, and overwhelming feelings of becoming a mom and recognize your teen is feeling all of those same things now. Though you may not have been a teen at the time or maybe you were. You know all of these feelings. What do you wish you knew at the time. Looking back what would you tell yourself now if you could? Tell your daughter instead. Right now what she needs most is to know you are on her side. Sit down and have an open and honest conversation with her. Let her know calmly if you are angry and disappointed. But, also that you love her and support her. Talk to her about her desires for her life and her baby. Do research together and learn more about all of the options. Today's world if full of  open adoptions where teen moms have full rights to know and openly communicate with adoptive families. They even visit and know their children. I think this is a very positive option for the teen Mom and the family who often can not have children.

 If the father is in the picture support them both as best you can. Again, blame is not appropriate with the boy either especially if they are the same age. Society plagues on boys to be "men" by expressing their sexuality. It is a very strong young man who can resist the lure. Most young men who succeed have Dads who have taught them what it means to be men. If they have an absent or distracted father they are on their own and may not have the backbone they need to resist this temptation. Include him and his family in the research and decision-making. If they are choosing to be involved then try and make it as easy as possible for all involved. You accomplish litter with anger and spite.

While celebrating is not wholly in order being a pregnant teen is stressful enough. Try to project some joy into her life. Others may see this as rewarding her for bad behavior and I get that. But, once you have discussed the mistakes she has made and talked about the choices she made and has to make;it is time to rebuild the relationship you and she have. This is so much more important now. As she goes through her pregnancy she is going to receive a lot of mean and negative rhetoric from peers, adults, and others. She needs you to be her soft place to fall. Be the place she can turn to, to let out her frustrations, cry about how unfair the wold is and just be sad sometimes. This is an extreme time, gather all of your supportive family and friends around her and just love her through it! There is more to come. I just wanted to give you some food for thought.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

High-quality Requires Strong Customer Service!

The world of early education is unique in so many ways form other forms of business it is overwhelming to think about sometimes. One of the greatest difficulties in this business is the fact it is one of the rare businesses which has both clients and customers. This is important for both parents and early childhood professionals to understand. Because it makes a major difference in the ebb and flow of the relationship.

Customer-a person who purchases goods or services from a person or company offering them.

Client- a person who depends on the knowledge, understanding, and expertise of another person to get them to the next level.

Parents as customers are shopping for a service. They are looking for educators who can hlp and support them in the care and education of their young children. There is not cookie cutter parent, each person has a specific set of things they are looking for in the folks they would like to leave their children with on a daily basis. Many parents are looking for a center to have the following characteristics:

  • Caring Staff
  • Clean Facility
  • Happy Children
  • Well-organized
  • Sharing of information about their child and development
  • A place to go for expertise when worried or concerned
A center that can meet these basic concerns and is willing to offer support will likely get the parents' approval. Thus, they will enroll their child. However, in many centers once the child arrives and they are in the center, the director and staff have a hard time keeping their dual focus. This is what I think can separate a good center from a great center. This is one of the things looked over which makes a difference in whether a center is of the highest quality. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation Standard number 7 is Families. 

Definition of Standard 7 The program establishes and maintains collaborative relationships with each child’s family to foster children’s development in all settings. These relationships are sensitive to family composition, language, and culture.(More Information on Standard 7)

Though ultimately the goal of this standard is to create a partnership between parent and center the goal is most adequately met by offering the ultimate in customer service. Building effective relationships with parents is about more than just caring for and meeting the needs of their children. It is about listening to them and meeting the direct needs of the parent. We in early childhood need to accept that we are a dual focused business. It is not just about meeting the needs of the children in our care. It is also about recognizing that we also serve their parents. We often talk about parent engagement and look at it from the perspective of parents should want to be involved because we take care of their children. While that sounds good in theory it does not hold out in practice. 

Customer service is about meeting the needs of the customer. This is a big reason why the first steps in the accreditation process is parent survey's. It is how the center learns about the needs of the customer and how they feel about the services being offered to them and their children. If you want to have a thriving and happy center your customers should not only feel welcome and a part of the center. It should be a home away from home for both the children and their parents. I encourage you to take the time to do a parent survey and find out their needs. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Make coffee available for parents in the morning.
  2. Create a comfortable place for a parent lounge and have plenty of articles or free parent information for them to read or take.
  3. Provide parenting classes on a quarterly basis . In your survey ask parent what they would most like to learn about or have questions concerning.  
  4. Create an app for parent information and contact frequently even if only to say have a  great day or to send a cute pic of their child.
  5. Take lots of pictures and hang them up where parents can see them change them out on a monthly basis.
Ultimately, customer service and parent engagement go hand in hand. If you do not take into account the needs of your customers they will not engage with you. Instead, they will treat you like babysitter who have no real impact in their personal lives, you just care for their children while they are away. If you want them to interact and be a part you must not only make room for them but find ways that being there not only meets the needs of their children but also their needs.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

New Parents, consider Bathroom Safety!

According to the National SAFE Kids Campaign in 2002, approximately 93,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for burns, including nearly 23,000 scalded by hot liquids. In addition, a child exposed to hot tap water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for three seconds will sustain a third-degree burn, an injury requiring hospitalization and skin grafts.
I helped a client through this and it was not fun for either one of us. She went through both a Family Services and a criminal neglect case. Burns are common in American households.  It is important for us to know and avoid the pitfalls that accompany accidental scalds or other bathroom accidents.
The most important part of anytime a child is in the bathtub is supervision.  Children younger than seven should never be left unsupervised in a bathroom especially at bath time.  This prevents play or accidents from causing trauma to children. Also, children often need help and reminders to clean behind ears and the back of the neck.
Water Heaters

Children can be scalded in water of 140°. The consensus among professionals for a safe water temperature for children is 120°. Make sure that the water heater used to bathe children is set at that temperature. However, water heaters malfunction so always test the water.  In addition, have your water heater inspected once a year to ensure that it is functioning properly.

Use an Infant Tub

I often see little children bathed in the kitchen sink. As a matter of fact that is how I was bathed. I remember my parents telling me of the time I slipped out of my Dad's hands and into the water; apparently I was not amused. Needless to say I highly recommend the use of an infant safety tub. Fisher-Price has a four in one unit which grouws with your child as they age.

Water Temperature
Always run water into the tub before you place the child in the tub. Then check it. Using your elbow test the water in the front, middle, and rear of the water in the tub.  This will ensure that the water is not to hot in any area. There are several safety devices which can be used I like A cute turtle toy and thermometer I found on Amazon. The turtle changes color product changes color if the temperature of the water is too hot.
General Bathroom Safety
Bathrooms can be dangerous places for young children. We often store dangerous items in our bathrooms.  Parents should not store cleaning products, medicines, vitamins, mouthwashes, first aid supplies like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or antibiotic creams or gels in the bathroom where children can get to them.
In addition, electronics and bathrooms do not mix with young children.  All items used with a child in a household bathroom should be water safe.  This includes electric toothbrushes, radios, curling irons, and any other items that can be plugged into a wall outlet.  Ensuring that things are unplugged and put away from little hands will make the family safer.  We can also not use these appliances in another bathroom if available.
Another important area to consider is falls.  Parents need to have a plan to avoid slippery floors so a child has less possibility of slipping and hurting themselves.  Rugs or a bath mat in front of the tub are key to helping avoid slips.  Also ensuring that a child is dried from the feet to the head, rather than from the head down will help prevent slipping.
Water Safety
Children need to know what to do in a water emergency.  There is a program called Infant Swimming Resource that teaches infants and toddlers what to do in an emergency.  This program has been developed to save lives and to help parents and children avoid an accidental death by drowning.  The URL for this program is It is the belief of Parents, Teachers and Advocates that every parent should have their child enrolled in this class as soon as possible.
Parents often store medication, cleaning supplies, vitamins, and other potentially harmful items below sinks or in restrooms where their children can have access.  It is imperative to keep these items out of the reach of children.  Preferably to keep them in locked cabinets so if children can somehow climb up to reach them they will still not have access.

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ECE Professionals it is Time to Talk About What WE Do!

We are experiencing a shining a light on the issue of Early Education and it gives those of us in the field a  true platform.  We need to begin to talk about the importance of developmentally appropriate practices and the needs of young children.  Over the years we have grown however, the general public and even our fellows in Elementary Education have no real idea of the differences in our two fields.

We are professional educators with a unique set of standards.  There is a real change being made in Elementary Education with changes in testing beyond Grade 3. This may be a chance for us to begin to express the changes we see need to be made in Kindergarten-Grade 3. These grades in Elementary School use much more Elementary standards rather than Early Childhood ones.  I think this maybe one reason why we have such issues with reading. The standard is not totally appropriate for the age of the children.

Often we as educators use jargon, acronyms and other speech that separate us from our objectives of getting the average parent, politician, and business person from getting exactly what we do and why.  It is time for us to begin to use plan speaking to help others get it.  These folks once they understand will be our allies in ensuring that whatever changes are made in early education is both appropriate and supportive of young children and their families. Here are four things I think we could do to help folks get it.

Write to politicians-Each of us live in an area that has a variety of political influencers.  Write to your mayor, city council, school board, congressman and senator.  In plain English tell them about DAP and what it looks like.

Get involved in your states Ready Nation Project-Each state is beginning to involve businesses in supporting Early Childhood Education. Find out who is in charge in your state and invite them to your centers and speak to them about the differences between Elementary and Early Education. Again use plain English and help them understand why Early Education works.

Write an editorial letter to those publication in your town-We all have local newspapers, magazines, and various other local publications that cater to our local areas. Write a letter to the editor explain the difference between Early and Elementary education in the classroom, in the lesson planning, and in what people should be looking for and seeing.  Help the public see what we do and how it benefits the children.

Educate those in your sphere of influence-We often overlook those in our everyday lives as folks that need to get our message. Do not assume because the people around you know you and what you do for a living understand the importance of what we do.  Be sure not to preach but use open ended questions to find out what they know and fill-in the gaps.  

Talk about the Ages and Stages Questionnaire

The ASQ is the most important part of our field. It is the standardized tool we use to get a yearly snapshot of who children are developing in our care. The general public needs to understand what it is and how it is used. This is the basis of all high-quality programs. The information here provides a detailed baseline for each child’s developmental progress and allows educators to specifically tailor the envirionment to meet the needs of each child.

Let this article be your encouragement to get out there and talk about why what we do is important to us, the children and the families we serve.  It is up to us to help everyone understand our field and the true work we do everyday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Parents evacuate! Are you prepared?

Yesterday, as I was sitting in my apartment relaxing and enjoying my novel, as the power was out. A neighbor knocked on my door panicked because she had nothing to drink in her home and was worried about having water to drink. I had saved about a dozen Califa Milk bottles with their lids in my fridge filled with water and gave her one. It got me to thinking how prepared are parents to meet the needs of children and their families in case of an evacuation order?

So, here are my thoughts on this. Get an emergency kit ready one which you can pick up and go at a moment's notice. Keep it in a convenient place near where you usually exit the house. In it have the following.

A First Aid Kit with extra gloves, peroxide, and bandages
Portable phone chargers Charge them once a month to ensure they are ready
Samples of everyone's medicine (Ask the doctor, tell them it is for your kit)
Written scripts for medicines for when you get where you are going
3 sets of clean clothes for each family member, along with one extra pair of shoes
A jump drive with copies of all important papers (birth certificates, social security cards, driver's lisc, Insurance information for house, cars, and medical)
Nonperishable food items for eating I suggest getting vacuum sealed items which can be opened and consumed. 4-8 items per person include powdered milk and powdered coconut water.
Wipes one pack per person

A prepaid credit card you put money one each month in case you need to get out of dodge you have money for hotel, gas, etc. I would suggest you do this through direct deposit so you never miss the money but it is there when you need it.

If you have an infant you will want to put five diapers of every box you buy into the kit. once your child grows out of them bag them up and take them to a local women's shelter. Make sue yur replace them with the equal number of diapers you are taking out. Pack formula. If your child is eating baby food it may be easier to have an extra Baby Bullet than to try and carry babyfood. Get a potable solar power stip for use in this case.

Along with the kit store:
A case of 20 oz water you can also get water enhancers or tea packs to give you a change of pace
A pet carrier along with food for the pet
Stuff for your kids to do crayons, coloring books, word puzzle books, books for reading, mp3 player loaded with books, music, etc)

Once your kit is ready, then devise a plan. Where will you go? How long before a storm or how soon after a disaster will you leave the area? If you can not get to where you want, have two other alternatives. In the kit put directions to this place both a set for highway, and a set for without highway driving.

If your family is into camping this is a good reason to consider a camper. Not only is it good for camping it is a portable home if you need one.

If you need to evacuate preparing an emergency kit gives you a chance to think and plan. It is the thinking and planning which will get you mentally and emotionally prepared for what could come. If your kids are old enough get them in on the planning. Discuss what happened with hurricane Harvey and Irmal let them know you have a plan. This more than anything will calm anxiety if something comes along. Your kids will know the plan and have had a say in what is happening. Quite frankly this is the best thing you can do for your children. We never know when an emergency is coming. But, we can make a plan to meet it head on and give our kids the security of knowing we are ready whatever comes!
These are my thoughts here is a great website for more information.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

What does your child deserve? What is your Why?

My current celebrity and leadership crush is Simon Sinek. He has taught me so much about who I am and what I want to be. Not because he says all this super great stuff. He does, but it is because he reminded me to tell others why I do what I do. 

I believe that every child deserves to live in a household with adults who are authentic and know who they are and choose to live a life which is based on living out their beliefs reflected in what they think, say, and do. I believe every parent owes their children to teach them about faith in the God of the Bible who is the Lord God, King of the Universe and what it means to have a relationship with Him. I believe every adult can build a deeply committed, emotionally connected, lifelong relationship with their children based on mutual respect and love. I believe every child can grow up to become this kind of parent.

Being this kind of parent does not happen by accident it takes work and commitment.  This is about building your best life as an example for your children to build upon. This is not just about what you and your children deserve but what generations of your family deserve. Another thing Simon has taught me is that I can only truly serve well and work with people who believe what I believe. So, I am asking you the following questions to see if we are in agreement.
  1. Are you committed to living your life based on purpose and a  relationship with the Messiah?
  2. Do you now or do you want to live your life in alignment so that what you believe, is connected to what your think, feel, say, and do?
  3. Do you want to live a life your children can follow without confusion or stress?
  4. Are you willing to study, understand, and live a life based on positive parenting
  5. Do you believe your children are entitled to parents who are whole, happy, and healthy? 
  6. Are you willing to put in the work?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you should conact me and hire me to your parent coach. We will get you there. The journey is not really heard it just takes commitment. I will do my best to get you there. We can talk about how and what we will do later. For now as Simon says we will just Start with Why!

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

30 million words by age 8

I am writing this piece for all parents with children under the age of seven. Especially those with newborns! According to the Georgia Reading Association children need to hear 30 million words by age 8 or grade 3 and read 90 million words between age 8 and age 14 when they enter into high school in order to improve language development increase literacy and be on the proper reading level all of their lives. Research also shows that instead of increasing the level of literacy electronic forms of reading and listening are actually hindering brain and language development in children. This suggests that human interaction plays a large part in the way children process language. It means reading, language, and understanding are all taking place as children observe and interact with parents, teachers, and other significant adults in their lives.

What this suggests to me as an early childhood educator is just how important it is for children to engage in high-quality child care that encourages literacy through reading, conversation, and adults asking children open-ended questions designed get them to think and to stretch their brains developing neurons. These activities are necessary for children to  develop brain matter to engage in reading and literacy. So what does this mean? Parents need to do three things in order to ensure their child is at the level they need to be especially when it come to third grade reading.

  1. Ensure children are read to on a regular basis. This means starting at birth at least two books a week to preferably 5. Parents don't need to do this all by themselves, let your village help you friends, grandparents, a librarian, take your kids to story time, take them to hear poetry readings, taking them to see plays and puppet shows, things that are fun for the entire family. 
  2. Choose your child care wisely! If your child's in a high-quality center that focuses on social emotional and literacy development then the teachers and the folks in that center will support your goal of 30 million words for your children by age 8.
  3. Eliminate screen time down to No More Than 3 hours a week. This includes LeapFrog, cartoons, children's movies, and all other forms of electronic media.
I realize this is demanding, but it can be done. Remember, the key to getting this done is to use the resources available in your village! Do you remember the old campaign Reading is Fundamental. Here is proof of that being the exact case for  language, literacy, and improving 3rd grade reading scores. You can do this!

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