Rethinking the Bag Lunch

image of a bag lunchThe brown paper bag lunch was the only choice for school lunch when my son was in the elementary grades.

There was no school cafeteria, just a lunch room. He could purchase a container of milk. And, then sit with friends eating, sharing and trading what was in his brown paper bag.

Given the lack of refrigeration at his school, my daily challenge was to pack a lunch that wouldn’t spoil.  There were a few hours between the time he left for school and his lunch period.

Today’s elementary schools have cafeterias, where a child can purchase lunch or, if he or she qualifies, participate in a subsidized lunch program. However this is not the case in many daycare centers and preschools where a child must still carry his or her own lunch.

A recent study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, raised concerns about the safety of carrying and eating a bag lunch even when the lunch is in an insulated bag that contain ice packs or other coolant.

About half of daycare centers in the U.S. require kids to bring lunch from home. The investigators examined lunches of 235 daycare attendees at nine Texas centers. The individual contents of their bag lunches were assessed on three random days between 9:30 and 11 a.m.

Of the 705 lunches, 11.8% were stored in a refrigerator, but teachers often left them sitting out for a couple hours first. The rest were stored at room temperature without much air circulation.

While about 91% of the lunches were sent in insulated plastic bags, the mean temperature of food items reached nearly room temperature (63.7 °F). Just 22 of the 1361 perishable food items (1.6%) were in the “safe” range below 39.2°F.

Ice packs didn’t help much. Only five of the 61 perishable food items with multiple ice packs in the lunch bag stayed the right temperature (8.2%).

Investigators found nearly all lunches packed from home got too warm to prevent food-borne illness despite use of ice packs. Even with the use of multiple ice packs, more than 90% of perishables in the lunches reached unsafe temperatures.

The study points to the need for:

  • Preschool and daycare staff receiving more training in food safety
  • Parents finding better ways to pack lunches safely
  • Manufacturers developing ice packs and lunch bags that do a better job


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Keep Your Children Reading Over the Summer

readingWhat can you do to keep your children reading during summer vacation?

There are so many things to do during the summer other than reading. Yet, every child needs to keep up their reading skills. Family members can motivate children to read by using strategies that integrate reading into summer activities and events. Here are a few:

  • Before going to the beach, a park, visiting a historical site, a sporting event, or other activity make reading about the upcoming activity part of the planning, and then talk about the book and the activity over a snack, afterwards.
  • Check you library’s summer reading programs. Make attending these programs a summer activity, as well as stocking up on books to borrow.
  • Let your children see you reading regularly. Grab a magazine when you are in a waiting room. Bring a book to the beach.  Have a book on your night stand.
  • Talk to them about what you have learned and continue to learn from books.
  • Build reading time into your child’s  day, not as something to do when day is done and kids are too tired to do anything but zone out in front of the TV.
  • Much reading during the school year is required reading; make summer a time for fun reading on subjects of interest to your children

  • Give your children the opportunity to read a variety of materials, not just storybooks,  such as magazines, newsletters, and papers geared to their age and interests.
  • Road trips area great time for children to get in some reading
  • Encourage your children to join or start a  friends book club that can meet every two weeks to discuss a book they all read.

Reading during the summer will give your children a jump start when returning to school, not only with reading but with vocabulary and grammar!

 

 

 

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Home school Preschool Rocks!

With a growing number of parents choosing to home school their child(ren), I thought  a reprint of the following post, Home school Preschool Rocks! by MommieKate on October 25, 2010 might be helpful for some of our readers who are considering homeschooling as an option.

Six weeks ago I officially joined the many who have decided (at least for now) to educate my son at home. Let me just say: IT IS AWESOME!  I admit, I didn’t feel that way at first.  I was excited and then (while doing endless internet research) it hit me.  Hit me hard.  I mean, this is one of the biggest decisions that will affect my little boy FOR LIFE.  I started to panic. Have you seen the ka-zillion choices out there? There are so many different education styles and ten times that in curriculum choices. I became overwhelmed.  Nauseated even. And then…

I found some lovely blogs that helped bring me back to “OK, I can do this” state.  More on them later (plus links). While I am in no way an expert, I did figure out a few things over the summer.  Here is a summary of my Crash Course for Home School Newbies:

  • Start with the legalities. Find out what the laws are in your state.  This will help guide you through your curriculum choices. You may not even want or need a curriculum. My state is one that has few requirements and gives parents great freedom.
  • Consider your own skills and limitations as well as your family’s. Do you follow a tight schedule, a flexible routine, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  Are you creative?  Do you need the guidance of a curriculum? How much guidance?  What is your budget? I chose mine based on flexibility and budget.
  • What support will you have? Is your spouse on board?  Will he be able to help – to what degree?  Is there a homeschooling group in your area? I joined a local Christian HS group to get ideas & guidance from veteran parents and for the field trip opportunities.
  • Have a firm idea of why you want to pursue this. You will want it in neon flashing lights.  I’m not kidding- it starts with the curriculum choices, the HOURS of prep work, and ends with a lot of negative questions and comments from others. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, but it is HARD WORK.
  • Relax and keep it all in perspective. Nothing is set it stone. You will explore and change styles, methods, and curriculum many times as you grow and your school days go by.  You’ll learn as you go. You may even change your mind all together about home education. Homeschooling is ALL ABOUT FLEXIBILITY and doing what is best for each stage of your family’s life. What I’ve learned so far is Home school Preschool Rocks!
Don’t stress.  Trust God to guide you.  Trust yourself.  Have fun.

I want to give blog hugs to Sue, thehomeschoolchick and to Erica at confessionsofahomeschooler. These ladies gave me confidence, a place to start, and shared a sense of humor in the process. They have great links to other helpful sites. If you are homeschooling you probably already know them.  If you are still in the consideration stage, go check out their sites- you’ll be glad you did. Also, to find out your state’s laws visit http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp.  HAPPY HOMESCHOOLING!

 

 


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Facts about Kids and Sports

Safe Kids USA wants you to know the following key facts about kids and sports:

• More than 38 million children and adolescents participate in sports each year in the U.S.
• Nearly three-quarters of U.S. households with school-age children have at least one child who plays organized sports.
• Each year, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 years and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries.
• Approximately two-thirds of all sports-related injuries leading to emergency department visits are for children.
The rate and severity of sports-related injury increases with a child’s age.
• From 2001 through 2009, it is estimated that there were 1,770,000 emergency department visits, 6 percent
of these for traumatic brain injuries, among children ages 14 and under for injuries related to sports or
recreation.
• Approximately one out of five traumatic brain injuries among children are associated with participation in sports and recreational activities.
• More than 90 percent of sports-related concussions occur without the loss of consciousness.
• The most common types of sport-related injuries in children are sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness.
• In 2009, more than 365,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in emergency departments for either football or basketball-related injuries.

 

Kids playing sports

Proven Interventions that Can Protect Your Child when Playing Sports:

• Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, and should have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should be well versed in the proper use of equipment and should enforce rules on equipment use.
• Helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of concussion, particularly in sports such as football, skiing and snowboarding.
• Children should have access to and consistently use the appropriate gear necessary for each respective sport.
• Among bicyclists, skateboarders and scooter riders, wrist guards can reduce wrist injuries by up to 87 percent, elbow pads can reduce elbow injuries by 82 percent and knee pads can reduce the number of knee injuries by 32 percent.
• Proper hydration and recognition of heat illness signs and symptoms (such as nausea, dizziness and elevated body temperature) can help reduce the risk of severe sports-related heat illness.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children take at least one day off from organized
physical activity each week and at least two to three months off from a particular sport per year to avoid over training or burnout.

 

Go to www.safekids.org for more information on keeping children safe while enjoying sports.

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Fall Prevention at Play, in Sports and in the Home

This post is all about children taking falls and fall prevention at play, in sports and in the home. It comes to us from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC. The numbers of children getting injured as a result of fall related injuries are staggering.  Many falls can be prevented. Fall

We all want to keep our children safe and secure and help them live to their full potential. Knowing how to prevent leading causes of child injury, like falls, is a step toward this goal.

Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19. Every day, approximately 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. This adds up to almost 2.8 million children each year.

Thankfully, many falls can be prevented, and parents and caregivers can play a key role in protecting children. If children are to be safe, fall prevention at play, in sports and in the home must be a priority.

Fall prevention at play, in school and in the home

 

Key Prevention Tips

Play safely.
Falls on the playground are a common cause of injury. Check to make sure that the surfaces under playground equipment are safe, soft, and consist of appropriate materials (such as wood chips or sand, not dirt or grass). The surface materials should be an appropriate depth and well-maintained.

Home safety.

Use home safety devices, such as guards on windows that are above ground level, stair gates, and guard rails. These devices can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.

Keep sports safe.
Make sure your child wears protective gear during sports and recreation. For example, when in-line skating, use wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and a helmet.

Supervision is key.
Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment, whether you’re at home or out to play.

 Read these pages for more comprehensive descriptions of fall prevention at play, in sports and in the home

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