Category Archives: School

Bullying is a serious matter

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. That means now is a good time for us to talk about this important subject.

Bullying can occur at school or on the bus, in the neighborhood, on the playground— anywhere. Cyber bullying is also on the rise, where people use the internet or phone apps to harm others.

At the very least, bullying lowers self-esteem. But as we know, continual bullying can cause children and teens to withdraw socially, may create depression or other mental health issues, and can even result in physical harm.

Parental awareness is essential. It’s almost certain that your child will, at some point, either be on the receiving end of bullying behavior, or will bully someone else, or both. An article on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website references a study from 1999, in which four out of five teens admitted to participating in bullying behavior at least once a month. Those who have been bullied often go on to mistreat others.

Conversations about appropriate behavior and language need to begin early between parent and child. Don’t hesitate to correct your child or teen when you hear name-calling or witness unkind behavior, even between siblings. They can learn early the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Teach them how to express themselves, especially when hurt or angry, by using language that doesn’t cross the line into disrespect. Don’t tolerate violent acts against people or animals.

Of course, your kids are not always near you, and you won’t be aware of everything that happens to them or everything they do. Continue the conversation about bullying; remind them to walk away from confrontations and to inform a responsible adult if they experience or witness bullying. Talk about kindness; role-play sticky situations. Monitor their internet and cell phone activity and discuss what you find there.

Teach your kids some nonviolent and non-confrontational ways to handle conflict. There are excellent resources for this in the article mentioned above, also here and here.

Remember that school counselors and other therapists can be really helpful if your child or teen is a victim or perpetrator of bullying, and our office can always make a referral.

As children get older, remind them that they help create a safe environment for others. They can be a positive force by refusing to contribute to an atmosphere of hatred.

As the school year continues, things can get very hectic. Don’t forget to pay attention to what’s going on with your youngsters. Ask questions, be supportive, get help when needed. Let’s keep our schools and community safe for everyone’s children.

© MBS Writing Services, 2015, all rights reserved

Artwork by Shawna

Artwork by Shawna

Sports physicals – it’s time

Your kids are on the move – literally, and all the time! If they are involved in a fall sport at school, then it’s time for their sports physical. Don’t forget that there is tremendous benefit to getting these physicals at your child’s pediatric office, rather than at a clinic or a school-sponsored physical day. The pediatrician has all your records including vaccinations, allergies, and your individualized and family medical history. He or she can discuss important sports information with you, including nutrition. And, of course, follow-up is always readily available, whether one week or six months from now. We are delighted to be working, with you as our partner, to make a medical home for your family here with us. If your child has a physical at a clinic or the school, that physical is not a part of our records, and we end up with an incomplete picture of his or her development and needs. Read our previous blog post for more reasons on why it’s wise to bring your child to the pediatrician when it’s time for a physical.

© MBS Writing Services, 2015, all rights reserved

Batter up!

Baseball is here for the summer, for kids of all ages.  Grownups, too, for that matter.  If you’ve ever had a pitcher in the family, you know that shoulder injuries are common, and if you’ve ever watched a slow motion video of a pitcher’s action, you can see why.  It’s not an entirely natural motion, and done repetitively, it can cause injury.  Pain and swelling may occur and sometimes even surgery is required if the damage is severe.

Little League Baseball has guidelines in place, designed to prevent injury.  These rules govern both the number of pitches allowed per day, and the number of days rest required after pitching.  You can read their entire list of pitching rules here.

Both the number of pitches and the number of rest days are regulated by age.  Here is their list of pitching limits per day:

17-18         105 pitches per day

13-16         95 pitches per day

11-12                   85 pitches per day

9-10           75 pitches per day

7-8              50 pitches per day

 

And the rest day requirements, again quoting from their website:

Pitchers league age 14 and under

• If a player pitches 66 or more pitches in a day, four calendar days of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 51-65 pitches in a day, three calendar days of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 36-50 pitches in a day, two calendar days of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 21-35 pitches in a day, one calendar day of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required.

Pitchers league age 15-18

• If a player pitches 76 or more pitches in a day, four calendar days of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 61-75 pitches in a day, three calendar days of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 46-60 pitches in a day, two calendar days of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 31-45 pitches in a day, one calendar day of rest must be observed.

• If a player pitches 1-30 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required.

           A game official is required to keep the pitch counts for every pitcher in the game and to let the head umpire know when a pitcher has reached his/her limit.

For other notes on safety and required equipment for ALL baseball players at different positions, please read Little League’s equipment checklist here.

Fun and safety are the twins of any sport.  Insuring your child’s safety and health increases the fun quotient!

 

© MBS Writing Services, 2015, 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 in School, Part 1: Staying Healthy

Now that your child is back in school, the sometimes easy-breezy days of summer have turned hectic with schedules, deadlines, homework, complex relationships.  For the next few weeks we’ll be running a series about things to keep in mind during the school year ahead.

Today we start with how best to insure a healthy year at school.

You already know the best way to stay healthy, but it bears repeating:  prevention is always the best medicine.  Here are some pointers.

  • Checkups.  Has your child had her annual well child checkup?  If not, now is the time to schedule it.  The doctor will look at health history, height and weight, and will discuss age-appropriate health topics with you and your child.  If you have a specific concern (social behaviors, learning difficulties, chronic ear infections, etc.) to discuss, you’ll want to let the office know when you call for the appointment to make sure they schedule a longer visit for you.
  • Immunizations.  Yes, we harp on this a lot, but it’s for good reason.  Immunizations protect children, families, and even whole communities from dangerous diseases.  The state requires that you keep certain ones up to date; we have others we recommend.  Check with our office (or on the patient portal) for your records.
  • Exercise.  Sitting all day at school, then coming home and sitting in front of the TV or at the computer and homework desk is not good for your kid.  He needs to get moving.  Don’t expect physical education classes to provide all the exercise he needs.  Unstructured play is good for all children, and organized sports are a great way to learn things like discipline, teamwork and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Germs.  Let’s be honest.  There’s no way to avoid germs at school.  Uncovered coughs and sneezes, shared desks and close quarters give viruses all sorts of opportunities to infect students.  Some exposure is good to develop immunity, but keeping hands clean is a great way to stave off colds and flu.  Send hand sanitizer to school in your children’s backpack, and remind them to clean their hands before eating and after they use the restroom.  Every time.  Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.  And, while we’re at it, remind them not to share combs, brushes or hats, which is the most common way to spread head lice.
  • Sleep.  A good night’s sleep is an essential ingredient in the learning process.  Sleep also helps mood and strengthens the immune system.  Set a regular bedtime and stick with it, making sure your child or teen has an age-appropriate amount of sleep.
  • Balanced diet.  Eating right feeds both body and brain.  This webpage at the American Academy of Pediatrics site lists several of their articles regarding diet.  Don’t forget we have a dietician on staff who can help you come up with an action plan for your young athlete, picky eater, diabetic, or can help you plan easy lunches and snacks to pack for school.

Keep these things in mind throughout the school year and they will help your child have a successful and healthy school year.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Measles

You’ve been hearing about measles outbreaks in the news lately.  Also called rubeola, measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus.  It causes a rash over the entire body, a fever and runny nose.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia.”  Measles can also, rarely, be fatal.  Between one and two children in 1000 who get the disease will die from it.  The disease can also strike adults.

If you thought measles was a disease left in the past, think again.  An outbreak this year in Ohio (374 cases in 4 months) has health departments all over the country concerned, because such an event can happen anywhere.  The Ohio outbreak began when unvaccinated people traveled abroad to places where measles is more common because a larger percentage of the population is unvaccinated.

It’s no coincidence that we used the word “unvaccinated” twice in that last sentence.  The reason measles is spreading again in the United States is because of a drop in MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccinations.  Those who decide not to be vaccinated (or to have their children vaccinated) put themselves, their families and their communities at risk for dangerous diseases.  As with most diseases, those at highest risk are the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems.

The MMR vaccination is required for students in Scott County Schools, and HIGHLY recommended for all other children.  The State of Kentucky requires two doses of the MMR vaccine before your child can enter school.  If you have concerns about vaccinations, talk to your pediatrician.

Remember that the extremely rare risk of a reaction to a vaccination is much smaller than the risk of being unvaccinated against a dangerous illness.

© 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

Manners? Yes, please.

Summertime is easy—so they say.  It can also be an easier time to remind children and teens about good manners.  Hopefully, you will have more times of relaxed conversation when you aren’t trying to juggle homework, school and extracurricular schedules all at once.

Manners are important because they remind us of the value of every human being.  Saying please and thank you is respectful, whether those words are spoken to someone in the family, a teacher or coach, or a complete stranger.  Being helpful ingrains kindness in the helper and encourages it in the recipient and observer.

What are age appropriate manners?

  • Ages 2—5.  Teach children to say please and thank you at the right times.  Children at this age usually love to help people, so encourage that tendency.  At the playground, they can help a younger child, with supervision.  At home, they can learn to pass the potatoes.  When meeting someone, they can shake hands and learn to answer questions that are asked.
  • Ages 5—7.  As the child develops physically and emotionally, so should their moral growth be progressing.  Teach good phone manners by practicing in a game.  Have a “manners night” once a week at the supper table, where everyone has to speak politely and initiate good conversation.  Give a small reward at the end of the meal for the person who showed the best manners.
  • Older children.  Learning to smile and maintain eye contact during a conversation is important as children grow.  They can learn to ask people about themselves, and to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate questions.  Your suppertime conversations can engage their imaginations and teach them how to talk to other people.
  • Teens.  When our children mature into teens, they often become less receptive to their parents’ helpful instructions on manners, but that doesn’t mean you can let them off the hook.  By now they should know your standards, and you should be able to witness them using their manners at home and elsewhere.  Teens who are mannerly, you may tell them, will likely advance at school and work because others respond positively to our good behavior.

Perhaps the main thing to remember about teaching manners to your children is this: be an example.  Use please and thank you when you remind them about their chores.  Treat your spouse and other adults and youngsters with respect.

If you are often cross with them, they will reflect that attitude back to you and to others.  But if you treat them and others kindly, they will learn to mimic that behavior, both consciously and unconsciously.

Expect good manners from your children and that is likely what you will get.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved