Back to School Health and Safety Tips

School

It’s that time again; it’s back to school time with all the prep and practical planning needed to launch the school year for your child(ren). The American Academy of Pediatrics shares about health and safety tips at the start of the school year as follows. 

MAKING THE FIRST DAY of SCHOOL EASIER

  • Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school.  She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.
  • If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day.
  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.

BACKPACK SAFETY

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers.

TRAVELING TO AND FROM SCHOOL

Review the basic rules with your student:

SCHOOL BUS

  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
  • Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
  • Your child should not move around on the bus.
  • If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.}

CAR

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
  • Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, and not the stomach.
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations,  texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction. Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driver’s license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, see www.healthychildren.org/teendriver 

BIKE

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
  • Know the “rules of the road.”

WALKING TO SCHOOL

  • Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

EATING DURING THE SCHOOL DAY

  • Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school’s website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
  • Look into what is offered in school vending machines. Vending machines should stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice.  Learn about your child’s school wellness policy and get involved in school groups to put it into effect.
  • Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options to send in your child’s lunch.


BULLYING

Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones.

When Your Child Is Bullied

  • Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
    1. Look the bully in the eye.
    2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
    3. Walk away.
  • Teach your child how to say in a firm voice.
    1. “I don’t like what you are doing.”
    2. “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”
    3. “Why would you say that?”
  • Teach your child when and how to ask a trusted adult for help.
  • Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
  • Support activities that interest your child.
  • Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
  • Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
  • Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.

When Your Child Is the Bully

  • Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
  • Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
  • Be a positive role model. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
  • Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
  • Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the children your child has bullied.

When Your Child Is a Bystander

  • Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
  • Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
  • Help your child support other children who may be bullied.
  • Encourage your child to include children being bullied in activities.
  • Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.


BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL CHILD CARE

  • During early and middle childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
  • If a family member will care for your child, communicate the need to follow consistent rules set by the parent regarding discipline and homework.
  • Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
  • If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
  • If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.

DEVELOPING GOOD HOMEWORK AND STUDY HABITS

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
  • Schedule ample time for homework.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
  • Supervise computer and Internet use.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren’t able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child’s teacher first.
  • Some children need help organizing their homework.  Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
  • If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

 

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Making New Year’s Resolutions is a Family Affair

 

resolutions

Wendy Makes Resolutions.

Even young children can take part in the custom of making New Year’s resolutions.

Making resolutions  is a great way for a family to come together to talk about behaviors that need changing or activities that need doing.

According to a few child psychologists and psychiatrists that have written on the subject, parents need to buy into what a young child says he or she wants to work on in changing a behavior or in taking on a new activity. Experts caution that the younger the child the more he or she will need parental support and guidance to make his or her resolutions happen.

One of the ways the experts recommend to include your child in making resolutions is to sit together as a family and go around to each family member and ask what he or she would like to do differently in the coming year. Ask your young child what he or she would like to change, to do differently. Make sure that what your child wants to change is realistic, that he or she has the physical strength and emotional stamina to do it and, most importantly, it would be good for your child to do.

Once your child decides what he or she wants to work on, help him or her to develop a plan that you both can work on together to make his or her resolutions happen. Break the plan into easy steps. Let your child know what you will be doing to help him or her to reach each goal.

All the experts agree on the following :

  • The best way to help your child make his or her resolutions happen is to make your own resolutions and keep them. When children see parents sticking to resolutions, they are more inclined to stick to their resolutions.

  • Making and keeping resolutions builds a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • It gives children a sense of accomplishment to be successful at keeping resolutions

Good Luck with those family resolutions.

Happy New Year From all of Us on “Can Do” Street!

 

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Fostering Caring for Family Far Away

Teaching a child to demonstrate caring behaviors to loved ones far away is a lot easier today than it was years ago.

caring

A big brother away at college, a grandma or grandpa who lives in another state, a relative serving in the armed forces overseas are all people who look forward to hearing from a child and are disappointed when they don’t hear. Children need to be encouraged to stay in touch with those who love them.

Here are some ways that make it easier to stay in touch:

  • Skype enables a  child to see and speak to a loved one via the computer when both parties have a webcam and this free software program.
  • E-mail enables a young child to send brief messages. When special holidays come around, a child can send a free card using programs such as Hallmark or Blue Mountain
  • Telephone calls, when possible, are also a good way to keep in touch
  • There is always the tried and true…send a hand made drawing or card in the mail.

A fun activity to foster caring for those far away is to make a “Caring Calendar” and hang it in the kitchen.

At the beginning of each a month, a child can circle dates for hello calls and holidays, birthdays or special events for each person that he or she wants wants to remember in a special way. When everyone has Skype they can see one another, which makes it a special visit!

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How Safe is….

How Safe is the Playground Sandbox?

It is that time of year…time to visit the playground with all of its climbing opportunities. Young children always gravitate to   the sandbox, but how safe is a box full of sand? What is in the box besides the sand?

Recently, microbiologists from NSF International (NSF) swabbed 26 different public places testing for the highest level of general bacteria to determine how safe these areas are for public use.

NSF’s team of microbiologists found that the location that harbored the highest level of bacteria and is the least safe place is a playground sandbox.

Sandboxes are actually an ideal setting for bacteria. Not only are they exposed to wildlife, such as cats and raccoons, but they can also hold on to the bacteria that is left from human contact, such as saliva, food items, and other bacteria from human hands.

Before you consider allowing your child to play in a public sandbox, you need to know that the sandbox is to be raked and sifter daily to remove debris. The sandbox also needs to be covered at night to prevent animals using it as a littler box.

NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Since 1944, NSF’s  main commitment continues to be making the world a safe place for consumers. To explore the NSF consumer website to learn more about NSF, its programs and services, go to www.nsf.org

How Safe Are Amusement Park Rides?

Government statistics demonstrated that fixed-site amusement rides constitute a safe, if not one of the safest forms of recreation available to the public. These statistics do not apply to portable rides that are set up in a community for a limited period of time.

On its website, The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) reports that their association worked together with the National Safety Council (NSC)  to establish a nationwide amusement ride injury reporting system for all facilities operating fixed-site amusement rides in the United States.  This system analyzes data from a statistically-valid sample to produce an annual amusement ride injury estimate for the overall fixed-site amusement ride sector in the U.S. Participation in this survey is mandatory for all IAAPA members operating fixed-site amusement rides in the U.S.

According to IAAPA, in 2009, approximately 280 million guests visited U.S. amusement facilities and safely enjoyed 1.7 billion rides. The most recent survey highlights that an estimated 1,086 ride related injuries occurred in 2009. Only 65 of the injuries in 2009 were reported as “serious,” meaning they required some form of overnight treatment at a hospital; this comprised roughly 6 percent of all ride injuries.

Information on the IAAPA site, from both government and independent data supports the fact that the number of patrons who experienced an incident while on a ride was miniscule – essentially one one-thousandth of one percent, or 0.00001.

Outside analysis of the NSC reporting data also found that the injury risk of fixed-site amusement rides (estimated at eight per million visitors) compares very favorably with those of other common recreational and sporting activities.  Using participation figures from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) and injury estimates from the CPSC database, fixed amusement ride injury risk was determined to be 10 to 100 times lower than for most common recreational and sporting activities including roller skating, basketball, football, soccer, fishing, and golf.

Examination of public documents and other relevant data consistently shows that only a small percentage of those mishaps that do occur are caused by factors subject to either ride operations, staff or mechanical error.

For more information, visit:

www.nsc.org

www.iaapa.org

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Kindergarten Readiness

kindergartenAccording to literature written by early childhood educators, there are steps you need to take to insure that your child is ready for kindergarten.

If you child has not attended a Pre-K program, separation anxiety may be an issue. Separating from you can be made easier by having your child spend time with other adults to get him or her used to being without you. Leaving your child with a baby sitter, or relative several times before kindergarten is due to begin may make leaving you at school less scary.

Kindergarten teachers advise making goodbyes quick, whether it is at school or at the school bus.  Know that if your child cries the teacher will know how to comfort him or her and most children stop crying once a parent is out of sight.

All children need to be able to tell the teacher when they need to use the bathroom and be able to go without adult assistance. Children cannot wear training pants, pull ups, or any kind of diapers. Children will be more comfortable if they practice in advance how to ask to use the bathroom, and how to use a bathroom equipped with multiple toilets, sinks, soap dispensers and paper towels.

In kindergarten, children are expected to socialize with other children. For some children it can be hard to do at first. Sharing toys, interacting and playing together may be new to your child. Having your child join a playgroup, or a church nursery or just going to a playground are good ways to get your child used to playing and sharing with a number of different children.

Work on tying shoe laces or have your child wear Velcro fastened shoes until they master the skill of tying laces. Have your child practice taking on and off sweaters, coats, boots and buttoning or zippering them up.

A review of basic manners such as saying please and thank you are also important preps for kindergarten. Going over personal hygiene behaviors with a child, such as coughing into a sleeve, using a tissue when sneezing, and washing hands after using the bathroom go a long way to making a child socially ready for kindergarten.

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