Category Archives: education

Marijuana, the safe drug? Think again.

Now that laws in some states (though not in Kentucky) are easing in regard to marijuana possession and usage, some teens and adults believe it must be a harmless drug.

Not so, especially for teens.

Marijuana, according to an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), affects many aspects of a young person’s mental, physical and emotional health, and it’s certainly addictive.

For someone who smokes or ingests marijuana regularly, clear thinking and good judgment are often affected.  This can cause school work (and grades) to falter, and can lead to bad decision-making.  The AAP states that marijuana users are more likely to engage in “unwanted or unprotected sex” because their judgment is impaired.  Also, “Those who drive or take other risks after smoking marijuana are much more likely to be injured or killed.”

According to the same article, because teens are still growing and developing, marijuana usage “can lead to a wide range of serious health problems, including heart and lung damage, cancer, mental health problems, and addiction. Depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia occur more often in marijuana users.”

How to prevent addiction to marijuana and other drugs in your teen?

  • Educate.  Make sure you know about drug usage and its signs, and educate your teenager.  When you see someone else acting irresponsibly, or hear about a situation of driving under the influence, initiate a calm discussion.
  • Monitor.  Don’t assume your child will never try drugs.  Marijuana, say teens, isn’t that hard to come by.  Watch for signs.  Pay attention to the people your kids hang out with.
  • Be an example.  Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.  Make sure illegal drugs have no place in your home.
  • Get help.  Make sure your teen sees a counselor if needed—not just if she is using drugs, but for any emotional or educational issues.  This is a serious concern and outside help is sometimes needed.
  • Be aware.  If you think your child could be using drugs, you may contact our office for a drug screen.

Your teen needs you to keep an eye on his total well-being, and that includes making sure he stays away from addictive substances.

© 2014 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved.

Back in School, Part 4: Friends

While you are worrying about your child’s academic year, he is probably more concerned about friends.  Honestly, he has a point.  While academic skills are an important part to future success and happiness, so are the social skills that help us make and keep friends.

Children at a very young age are usually too self-centered to have friends.  This isn’t their fault; it is just a normal developmental stage.  If you watch a couple of toddlers on a play date, they will usually engage in what is called “parallel play,” meaning they play side-by-side, but not really together.  Even so, you can start to teach them to share, not to grab toys away, etc.

By school age, most children want friends, whether it is just one or many.  Good social skills are learned from parents, teachers and peers.  Here are some behaviors you can teach your kids that will serve them in school and throughout their lives.

  • Kindness.  Use kind words and tones around the house.  Don’t allow your children to be unkind to their siblings, to pets or to adults.  Everyone responds positively to kindness, and no one likes a bully.
  • Politeness.  (See our post on manners.)
  • Assertiveness.  You don’t want your child to be aggressive toward others, but you want her to be able to assert her opinions and express her feelings without being overbearing.  This takes practice, and it can be something you encourage through conversation, questions, and even role playing.  For example, “What will you say if your friend wants to play kickball and you’d rather swing?”  They can learn from you the give-and-take of good relationships.
  • Meeting and greeting.  Teach your youngster to introduce himself and to ask questions about another person.  They can learn to shake hands, make eye contact, smile.
  • Listening.  Hearing what another person has to say is as important as expressing your opinion.

Here’s a really nice FREE online resource entitled 101 Ways to Teach Social Skills to Children.  While the games and activities are designed for groups, many of them can be adapted for use within the family—a fun way to learn appropriate ways of behaving in different settings.

Every school in Scott County has a counselor who can observe behavioral issues both in and out of the classroom, and who can meet with your child and/or other students if needed.

A final word:  pay attention to the friendships your child/teen is forming.  Get to know his friends and their parents.  Make sure their behavior isn’t out of line with what you expect from your own kids.

The friendships we form in childhood and adolescence may or may not last a lifetime.  But they teach us skills and behaviors that are timeless.

© 2014 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Back in School, Part 3: Teachers

Every morning when you send your child to school, you are putting her into the educational, social, emotional and physical care of other adults.  This can be intimidating at times, but it doesn’t have to be.

The vast majority of teachers are in classrooms because they want to be, because they care about the students and love the material they teach, and because they want to make a difference.  They spend time in the classroom trying to instill in youngsters the love of learning.  And they spend time outside the classroom preparing lessons, grading work, and keeping the mountains of records and paperwork required by the school system.

Most of all, they want every child—your child—to be successful.  That success is far less likely without your support.

  • Speak positively about your child’s teachers.  If you hear complaints from your young student, listen with an objective mind. 
  • Establish a relationship with a teacher.  If you can volunteer at the school, wonderful.  Your schedule may not allow that, so find other ways to be in touch.
    • Stay connected.  Most teachers and classrooms have a website.  Send the teacher an e-mail when you appreciate something he’s done for your child or if you have a question.  If there’s ever a problem, you will have built a positive base for your relationship, and the problem will be easier to deal with.
    • Attend parent-teacher conferences.  These are important for everyone concerned:  student, teacher, family.  You will learn things about the classroom and how your child interacts with adults and classmates, and will come away with a much more rounded picture of the education process in that particular class.
    • Make appointments.  Don’t wait for a conference if you have questions or concerns.  Face-to-face meetings are helpful and teachers want to be available to you.  They will want to hear from you sooner rather than later.
    • Reinforce at home what’s happening in the classroom.  From spelling tests to chemistry homework, from learning how to talk out problems with fellow students to deciding what to eat for lunch, the teacher and you are on the same team.
    • Of course, if there is ever concern about inappropriate or illegal activity by a teacher or any other adult, notify the authorities immediately.

Teachers are on the front lines of helping your child develop in age-appropriate ways.  Support them, connect with them, and thank them.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Back in School, Part 2: Homework

If it seems that with the new school year your kids’ amount of homework has increased, that’s likely true.  Each year a new grade brings with it increasing amounts of responsibility, including homework.  Some homework can be started during the school day, but often it needs to be finished after hours.

Homework can sometimes seem overwhelming, both for your child and for the whole family.  Here are a few helpful tips.

  • Attitude.  If you treat homework as positively as possible, that will help your young student.  Doing schoolwork at home has many up sides, including letting you in on how things are going at school.  You’ll learn what your child is studying and how easy or difficult a particular subject is for him.
  • Assistance.  You shouldn’t do your child’s homework, but there are many things you can help her with.  Memorization is one of the biggest.  Make practicing for spelling and arithmetic tests fun.  Make flash cards together out of scrap paper cut into squares.  Use free online websites to get ideas or even create games around specific words or subjects.  Prepping for a social studies test about Mexico?  Make sure you understand what topics are being covered, and look at some web videos that show art, culture and travel.
  • Time.  This is the biggie, isn’t it?  You’ve been thrown from sleeping in and days by the pool, to waiting for the bus and trying to decide what to have for supper and how you’ll get everyone where they need to be when they need to be there.  Every day is crunch time.  How to schedule in homework?
    • These first few weeks are important in figuring out which subjects and days of the week will require more time.
    • Negotiate with the students in your house.  They may need a little down time to play a game and have a snack when they first get home, or they may prefer to get homework out of the way.
    • Do a back-off timetable from bedtime.  Figure out when they need to be in bed, about how much time homework will take, and work out with the students when and how they’ll get the work done.
    • If the time is overwhelming and your child is spending far too much time with homework, talk to the teacher.  This is important information for any teacher to know.
  • Space.  Find the right space where you can keep an eye on computer screens while also limiting distractions.
  • Support.  The Scott County Library has online help from 2 p.m. until midnight, a great local resource.  Many teachers and classrooms have their own website where homework assignments may be posted.  For middle and high school, get familiar with the Infinite Campus site, where you can follow grades and attendance.  There’s even an app in the Apple Store.
  • Involvement.  If you see problems developing, don’t wait.  Talk to your child’s teacher right away.  Usually they’ll have good ideas for helping your youngster’s academic progress at home.  If you worry that there may be a medical problem or learning disability, contact our office for an appointment.

Homework is an essential tool in learning, both now and in developing the right skills for a lifetime.  With your help and encouragement, the students in your family can do well.

 

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Back to school ALREADY???

It seems as though summer just started, and we’re already talking about going back to school.  That’s because now is the right time to be thinking about getting your child’s medical exams and immunizations covered.

Exams and physicals.  Most sports (both school and community) will require that your child or teen have an annual physical.  You’ll see ads for retail clinics in stores and also physicals being held at the schools, but keep these things in mind:

  • Those places don’t have your child’s medical records.  Medical and immunization histories aren’t available to the person doing the physical or administering the immunizations.
  • They haven’t developed a relationship with you to know what is normal and appropriate for your family.
  • Follow up is minimal or altogether unavailable.
  • No nutritional counseling is available, which we believe to be extremely important.

For all those reasons and more, we highly recommend that you see your own pediatrician for back-to-school exams and immunizations.  (Check out our 2013 blog on store-based clinics here.)

          Immunizations.  Many immunizations are required by the state, and there are some additional ones recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  For example, Kentucky requires the meningitis vaccine for the 6th grade; we also are doing a booster at the age of 16 which isn’t state required but is recommended by both the CDC and AAP.  A printable immunization schedule for parents is available here from the CDC.

Concerned about immunizations?  Read the article, “Why Immunize?” at the CDC website.  Also, find here a series of articles from the AAP about a variety of immunizations.

Plan to arrange your pediatric appointments soon, so your teens and children will have everything they need before school starts.

In between your summer travel plans, pool days and sporting events, don’t forget to make room for health.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Reading is fun, but what if your child has dyslexia?

Many people delight in reading a good book over the summer and families often take trips to the library or virtual trips to Amazon.  But for some, reading is a chore or nearly impossible.

Dyslexia, also known as Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD), is a learning disability that starts with the brain, though it doesn’t at all mean that the affected person has lower intelligence.  It’s simply the inability to process words properly and can involve auditory and oral issues as well as reading.  A person with DRD might have trouble distinguishing letter and word sounds when someone is speaking, as well difficulty recognizing written words.  DRD may sometimes be clustered with learning disabilities that inhibit writing and/or arithmetic skills.

If you’re concerned that your child may have dyslexia or another learning disability, speak with your pediatrician.  She’ll ask questions about family history and the particular difficulties your child is having, and may schedule (or refer for) a neurological exam or other testing.

Treatment involves specific types of tutoring and coping skills, depending on the type and severity of the learning disability.  The pediatrician or an educational psychologist can help you find the right program for your specific situation.

Learning disabilities often lead to boredom, behavior problems, and low self-esteem.  The frustrations of not being able to read at grade level or perform schoolwork correctly and in a timely manner can be very stressful.  For that reason you may want to arrange some counseling for your child as well.  Psychological coping skills are just as important as educational coping skills.

For more information, this National Institutes of Health article is very helpful, and the source of much of the information in today’s blog.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved