This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

Eye Exams…When to Start and Why

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses should be examined annually or as recommended by their eye doctor.

The AOA stresses early eye exams for children because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:

  • Near vision           image of eye chart for young children
  • Distance vision
  • Binocular (two eyes) coordination
  • Eye movement skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness

For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says on its Web site that your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral might be made to an eye doctor for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to assist them with spotting potential vision problems.

Babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision and depth perception by 6 months of age. To assess whether a baby’s eyes are developing normally, the doctor typically will use the following tests:

  • Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
  • “Fixate and follow” testing determines whether your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. Infants should be able to fixate on an object soon after birth and follow an object by the time they are 3 months old.
  • Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed without the use of a typical eye chart.

 Preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to take certain eye tests. Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:

  • LEA Symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include an apple, house, square and circle.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the back of the eye
  • Random Dot Stereopsis testing uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure how well your child’s eyes work together as a team.

AAO offers the following reminders:

  • Appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.
  • A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance.
  • Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child’s vision system is still developing.
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10 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Be Safer Inside Your Own Home

image of products that are unsafe for use in the homeThe following message about keeping your home safe from toxic chemicals, comes from Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

If you don’t use a toxic chemical in the first place, then you don’t have to contain it, clean it up, or be exposed to it—which is what preventing pollution is all about. Follow these tips to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals and create a safer and healthier indoor living environment for you and your family.

1) Household Cleaners: Look for labels that divulge ALL of the cleaner’s chemicals. Besure to avoid using cleaners that contain these suspect hormone disrupter chemicals:Nonyl- and octyl-phenols are used to make alkylphenol ethoxylate (APE) detergents.

2) Disinfectants. Limit the use of disinfecting products in your home. They contain chemical agents that are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Overuse could lead to the growth of ‘superbugs.’ The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies disinfectants and anti-microbials as pesticides.

3) Lawn Care and Pests: Children and pets in particular are exposed to pesticides tracked inside homes from lawn treatments. Pesticide exposure also occurs from using off-the shelf pest repellents. Use organic lawn care methods like mowing high and adding topsoil. To get rid of pests, remove food sources, use boric acid and traps.

4) Vinyl Floor and Wall Coverings: Flexible vinyl household products like flooring and wallpaper are manufactured using PVC that may have toxic chemical additives including phthalate plasticizers and lead. As these products are used, they create dusts that accumulate these chemicals. Choose non-PVC wall and floor coverings to minimize potential exposure to these toxins.

5) Building Materials: Plywood, oriented strand board, kitchen cabinets and home insulation are all products that can contain formaldehyde, a known human cancer causing chemical. Choose solid woods and formaldehyde-free insulations when constructing or renovating your home.

6) Personal Care and Beauty Products: Choose products that are fragrance free and reduce your use of nail polish and acetone nail polish remover. If you do use these products, be sure to open the windows in your home when you use these products.

7) Dry Cleaning: Ask your dry cleaner if they offer safer alternatives such as liquidcarbon dioxide or “wet cleaning” rather than the commonly used cleanerperchloroethylene, a suspected cancer-causing chemical.

8) Got Moths?: Eliminate the use of mothballs since they contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Instead, clean and seal wool clothes, use cedar blocks, shavings or oil.

9) Mold: Dry is the operative word. Prevent mold and the overuse of bleach by preventing moisture build up in the first place. Fix leaky pipes and faucets immediately. Make sure that water slopes away from the foundation of your home.

10) Basement: Do not leave a car running even with the garage door open especially if the garage is under the living area. Carbon monoxide can easily seep through walls and floors. When your oil company calls during the slow summer months to clean your boiler, don’t delay. And test your house for radon.

 

Source: Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts LowellThis information is provided as a public service from the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Established by the State’s Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses.

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Ways to answer the “Why Do I Have to Wear Eye Glasses Question”

Why do I have to wear glasses? A tough question from a child in the first or second grade who doesn’t want to look different from his or her classmates.

Some good answers for why a child has to wear glasses can be found in the following books.

 

Ages 3-5
Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses, by Amy Hest (Candlewick Press)

 

Ages 5-8
Dogs Don’t Wear Glasses by Adrienne Geoghegan (Crocodile Books)


Libby’s New Glasses, by Tricia Tusa (Holiday House)


All the Better to See You With, by Margaret Wild (Whitman and Co)


Winnie Flies Again, by Korky Paul and Valerie Thomas (Oxford University Press)


X-Ray Mable and Her Magic Specs, by Claire Fletcher (Bodley Head)


The Arthur Books, by Marc Brown (Red Fox)


Glasses. Who needs ‘Em?, by Lane Smith (Viking)


Luna and the Big Blurr, by Shirley Day


Chuckie Visits the Eye Doctor by Luke David

 

glasses

 

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What You Can Do When Your Child Has Nightmares

According to an article on WebMD, many children have nightmares.

picture of a child who has nightmaresNightmares are most common in preschoolers (children aged 3-6 years) because this is the age at which normal fears develop and a child’s imagination is very active. Some studies estimate that as many as 50% of children in this age group have nightmares.

Nightmares involve frightening or unpleasant dreams that disrupt the child’s sleep on several occasions and cause distress or problems with everyday life. When children wake up because of a nightmare, they become aware of their surroundings and usually need comfort. As a result, parents often need to provide comfort.

The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offers these suggestions for coping with a child’s nightmares:

  • Offer plenty of cuddles, comfort and reassurance to your child.
  • During the day, talk about your child’s bad dream, and make sure to avoid frightening TV programs and movies.
  • Leave the door to the child’s bedroom open, and offer a favorite toy or blanket for comfort.
  • Avoid spending a lot of time looking for the “monster” that scared your child. Let your child go back to sleep in his or her own bed.
  • Read a book about coping with nighttime fears.
  • Before bed, talk about funny and happy topics.

Sources:WebMD, womens health dot gov(U.S.Dept of HHS) articles on nightmares

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This Winter You Need to Bone Up on Your Frostbite Facts

Frostbite is caused by extreme cold—an hour of exposure at 20 degrees Fahrenheit is all it takes. Even colder temperatures, or exacerbating factors such as moisture or wind, will increase the likelihood of frostbite setting in.

frostbiteCommon signs of frostbite include numbness, tingling and pain in the exposed areas (usually extremities, or fingers, toes and the nose), followed by painful blistering. Cell damage occurs both at the time of exposure (ice crystals form in the space outside of the cells), and after exposure, which results in damage to the blood vessels due to lack of oxygen in affected tissue.

There are three degrees of frostbite, similar to a hot burn scale: first degree, signified by irritation and redness; second degree, which results in clear, painful blisters; and third degree, the most severe, in which bloody blisters eventually result in black, dead tissue.

First Aid for Frostbite

If you or someone you know believes they may have frostbite, use the following steps to reduce the damage it can cause:

  • Move to a warm environment, if possible. If the victim is also experiencing hypothermia, make sure to keep their core body warm. Saving a life is more important than saving a limb.
  • Remove all wet or constrictive clothing and jewelry to encourage blood flow to the affected area.
  • Keep extremities elevated in order to reduce swelling.
  • Rewarm the affected area with a 40-degree water bath. Do not try to rewarm the frostbitten tissue with hot water. The cells are more fragile, and the tissue is less sensitive to temperature, and this can result in severe burns.
  • Do NOT re-warm the injured area if there is any chance that it will refreeze. Ice crystals formed in between cells will be larger the second time they form.
  • Get to the hospital as soon as possible. The final amount of tissue damage is proportional to the time it remains frozen, not to the absolute temperature to which it was exposed.

Source: Article by David Harrington, MD, Director of the Rhode Island Burn Center -Frostbite Facts

 

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