Children's School Family Newsletter/412-268-2199 February 2005 /412-268-2199 Pennies for Paper and Pencils Inside this Issue: •Winter Safety Tips •Food Allergies •For the Love of Books •Valentine’s Day •Family Festival •Director’s Corner In December’s newsletter, we introduced the Pennies for Paper & Pencils project to support early childhood programs in our region that lost supplies in the recent flooding. Due to the recent earthquake and tsunami impacting parts of Asia and Africa, we will extend this project until the Family Festival and will also donate a portion of the money collected to the Tsunami Relief Efforts. Looking at the Next School Year Letters to reserve your child’s space in the four-year-old and kindergarten programs for the 2005/06 school year were mailed this past week. The $200 deposit and all of the completed forms for the four-year-old and the kindergarten programs are due by February 21st to reserve your child's space. After this date, the spaces will be made available to applicants not currently attending the Children's School. The kindergarten class is limited to twenty-two (22) children. After the first twenty-two deposits and forms are received, the remaining deposits will be put on a waiting list in the order they arrive. Letters to reserve your child’s space in the three-year-old programs for the 2005/06 school year will be sent next week and those deposits are due by February 25th. Applications for the extendedday programs were mailed with the acceptance letters. There is limited space available. Preference is given to currently enrolled extended-day students. Registration will then be on a “first come; first served basis”. To apply for an extended-day program, complete the application and include a $100 non-refundable deposit. Applications received after the programs are filled will be held on a waiting list and checks will be returned. “ If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” A NAEYC Accredited School - Rachel Carson Note: In previous years, the extended day program has filled VERY QUICKLY! Submit your forms early if you are interested in this program! Children's School Valentine’s Day Page 2 of 6 As with most holidays, we have only a minimal emphasis on Valentine’s Day at the Children’s School. Each class will have a chance to share simple cards with their friends. If you would like to send Valentine cards to school with your child, please include one for each member of his/her group. You may also include cards for any child in other groups. Have your child bring the cards to school on Monday, February 14th. If you are not familiar with the Valentine’s Day tradition and wish to send cards, please check in the office to see samples. They can be made with common materials or purchased in sets very inexpensively. Remember, helping your child to sign each card can be a very good language experience. For kindergartners, adding their friends’ names to the outside of the card is also encouraged. Please remember our holiday policy (found in your parent handbook). Our children often prepare their own special snack related to the different holidays and many children have dietary restrictions (especially related to candy and other sweets). For these reasons, do not send any food/candy or any other gifts for children. Safety Corner Frostbite Prevention/Treatment Children are a greater risk for frostbite and frostnip than adults. One reason is that children lose heat from their skin faster than adults. Another reason could be that children will ignore how cold they are since they are having so much fun! Frostnip is an early form of frostbite. It usually effects the ears, nose, cheeks, fingers and toes. If a child has frostnip, the affected area will be white and numb. Skin that has frostbite is waxy, white and hard and feels numb. It also has a persistent burning sensation. In severe cases, the skin will become blue and splotchy. Here are some suggestions to help prevent frostnip and frostbite: • Do not go outside after a recent bath or shower. • Dress in layers. For the first layer, wear clothes that will keep moisture away from the skin, such as thermal underwear. For the second layer, wear loose clothing that resists dampness and maintain body temperatures such as sweatshirts. The last layer should include tightly woven moisture-resistant outer wear. • Bring your child inside at regular intervals and check for signs of frostnip and frostbite. • Have extra clothes with you if you are not at home. • Keep dry, since wet clothes increases the chance of heat loss. Treating Frostnip: Get your child inside and remove wet clothes. Submerge affected areas in warm water (between 101 to 104 degrees). Keep the affected area in water until they turn red. If you suspect your child has frostbite, remove the cold, wet clothing, dress the child in loose, warm clothing and take him to the hospital. Do not rub or bump the area and do not pop blisters that might appear. This could cause infection. C Page 3 of 6 Children’s School Family Festival Thursday, February 17, 2005 4:30 to 6:00 PM Bring your entire family to the Children's School Family Festival! Explore some of the children's favorite school activities from the music unit. More information will be sent home next week. For the Love of Books Again this year, the Mon Valley Education consortium, WQED and Borders Books are collecting gently used children’s books. The books will be distributed to the area’s neediest children through the local food banks. They will be offered to children as “the Fifth Food Group – Food for the Mind”. The goal is to collect 100,000 new or gently used children’s books. “the fifth Food Group – Food for the Mind” Bring your donations to any Borders Book Stores (Monroeville, South Hills and North Hills) between February 11-20, 2005. There will also be special activities during these 10 days, such as storytellers and a visit from Mr. McFeely. allergies in the class before you send a special “treat” to school. If your child has a food allergy, it is a good idea to be cautious about serving processed foods. Many of your favorite family recipes can be modified to fit your child’s needs. For more information about food allergies and food substitutions, check out the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Food Allergy and According to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, up to 6% of children in the United States under the age of 3 have food allergies. Even though food allergies are less common in adults, food allergies affect nearly 4 million people. When a child has a food allergy, the body reacts as though that particular food product is harmful. The reaction to the food item can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin or cardiovascular system. The most common food allergens in children include: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Many of our children at the Children’s School are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Please ask your child’s teacher about any Nutrition Corner Please let us know if your child Anaphylaxis Network: has a food allergy. We have a http://www.foodallergy.org form you can complete that not only states the allergy, but also gives us signs to watch for and what to do if they should happen to digest a food that can cause an allergic reaction. Children’s School Page 4 of 6 Page 4 of 6 Director’s Corner In recent weeks, several parents have approached me with essentially the same question, “How do we tell the children …?” The family pet must be put to sleep, a grandparent has died, mom and dad need to separate for a time, a cousin must have serious surgery, and so on. I have formulated my perspective on ways to handle such questions both by helping parents through challenging situations and by preparing a session for my Principles of Child Development class on “Explaining Complex Issues to Children”. Though the exact approach depends heavily on the situation, and my assignments over the years have focused on topics ranging from prejudice to suicide to poverty to mental illness, the psychological principles for formulating appropriate explanations are quite general. As with many parenting challenges, it helps to take a long-term view. Addressing any complex issue requires a continuing conversation over days or months, depending on the child and the situation. For something with direct family impact, the child will re-process the issue at new levels as the child develops. Recognizing this process takes the pressure off of today’s explanation, which is really only one piece of the puzzle that may take years to complete. The best first piece is to give the problem an accurate name. This name will be the core of the child’s developing concept and will distinguish it from other similar concepts. For example, calling stomach cancer a bad stomachache may seem less scary initially, but the euphemism will cause problems the next time the child has the stomach flu. Remember that children have significantly less experience than adults, so a term like “tumor” is not already associated with lots of extra negative images. Over the long haul, the key to strong parent-child relationships is trust. For that reason, it is essential that parents always tell the truth. While not doing so may be easier in the short run, the lie will ultimately be exposed and will damage the child’s sense that the parent can be trusted. At the same time, unlike the courtroom, there is no requirement for parents to tell the whole truth. Tell only the part of the story that is necessary at the moment. Details, future projections, and multiple angles may confuse, overload, or unnecessarily scare the child. “ . . . .the key to strong parent-child relationships is trust.” Page 5 of 6 Children's School Director’s Corner Continued Similarly, since there are many aspects of life over which we have no foreknowledge or control, be careful to only make promises that you can keep. Focus primarily on the present and immediate next steps with phrases like, “We’re going to work with the doctors to …” or “We’re not sure, but right now …” At all ages, children are concerned about their emotional security and physical safety, so be sure to reassure them that, whatever the challenging circumstances, the adults who love them will do everything possible to take care good care of them (feed them, take them to school, read stories to them, put them to bed, etc.). Preschoolers pose a special challenge where explanations are concerned because of their level of cognitive development. As they attempt to understand their world, they often make connections between events that happen close in time but may otherwise be unrelated (e.g., “this bad thing happened today because I did that bad thing yesterday”), they focus primarily on how things appear (e.g., “she forgot my name so she must not love me”), and they often use magic to fill the gap between what they know and what they observe (e.g., “I’m gonna wish real hard for …”). Fortunately, many early childhood professionals have written excellent children’s books designed to help children understand, while avoiding common misconceptions. Also, support group web sites often have helpful information about addressing questions and concerns that children of different ages typically raise about particular difficult situations. In the end, being willing to talk with your child about challenging issues is what helps her most to cope. In fact, the non-verbal aspects of your explanations are likely to matter more than the exact words that you choose. Your child monitors your emotional reaction and uses it as a model to shape her own. Take care that you have the support you need so that you can communicate in a calm and supportive manner, particularly when the issues hit close to home. Please feel free to talk with me or any of the staff members about the questions your child is asking or the situations you’re finding it difficult to explain. We’ll be happy to brainstorm with you about the approaches that might work for you and your child, as well as to suggest resources that you might find useful. In this way, we can collaborate to support your child’s development, which is always our shared goal. February Web Artists Alexander Ganovsky Madeleine D. Daniela S. Eva S. Sophie M. Sophia C. Joshua P. Maggie G.- F. Bo L. Krystyna R. Rayan A. Julian N. Maya G.-F. Children's School Children’s School Carnegie Mellon University MMC 17 Pittsburgh, PA 15213 PHONE: 412-268-2199 FAX: 412-268-5627 Page 6 of 6 Positive Discipline Pointer Many parents dread shopping, waiting, being stuck in traffic or other situations that lead to boredom, whining, and ultimately misbehavior. Given that such circumstances may be unavoidable and their duration out of our control, what is a parent to do? Basically, young children are not equipped with the self-control and cognitive strategies to make the best of such situations, so adults can strive to turn these contexts into more developmentally appropriate scenarios by using a few simple strategies. Start by acknowledging the problem and inviting the child to help you make it fun. “The store sure looks crowded but we need to get … for tonight’s …, let’s …” There are many ways to turn the tables and create a game. Let’s pretend to be … Let’s tiptoe or hop. In the car, it’s a little easier to be prepared with emergency supplies, like story tapes, a snack, or a travel game. At the same time, a little creativity goes a long way. Sing. Play “I spy” (e.g., I spy something round and red). Take turns adding to a story. Play a copy cat game with rhythms or movements. My family’s favorite was “I’m thinking of an animal” (give clues one at a time until the child guesses the animal, then let the child give you clues). Be sure to compliment the child on successfully passing the time in positive ways. Since these stressful situations are an inevitable part of life, you’ll be helping your child acquire healthy strategies that will last a lifetime. Enclosures: February Calendar Speech, Hearing & Language Form Speech, Hearing and Language Screening On February 15, 16, and 17, 2005, Margie Dubner from the Easter Seals Communication Department will be here to conduct a speech, language, hearing and middle ear screening program. This service helps to identify communication and/or hearing problems early and will recommend courses of treatment. Written results will be given to parents. If you would like your child to be screened, please send $12 (cash only) along with the completed form to Mrs. Simpson. In March, Margie will be back to conduct Vision Screening. She will be screening our children for visual acuity, muscle imbalance, lazy eye (amblyopia), and color deficiency. Screening is important because children’s eyes are fully developed by eight years of age, yet few children have eye examinations before entering grade school. You will receive more information in March.