Top 10 Water Safety Tips

With warmer weather finally here, many people are heading outdoors. If your outdoor plans include being around water, whether swimming, fishing, or boating, be sure to follow these top ten water safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can find these and other information on how to be safe around water on the CDC website.

  1. DO learn to swim.If you like to have a good time doing water activities, being a strong swimmer is a must.
  2. DO take a friend along.Even though you may be a good swimmer, you never know when you may need help. Having friends around is safer and just more fun!
  3. DO know your limits.Watch out for the “too’s”—too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.
  4. DO swim in supervised (watched) areas only,and follow all signs and warnings.
  5. DO wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, or fishing.
  6. DO stay alert to currents.They can change quickly! If you get caught in a strong current, don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you have passed through it. Near piers, jetties (lines of big rocks), small dams, and docks, the current gets unpredictable and could knock you around. If you find it hard to move around, head to shore. Learn to recognize and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents — water that is a weird color, really choppy, foamy, or filled with pieces of stuff.
  7. DO keep an eye on the weather.If you spot bad weather (dark clouds, lighting), pack up and take the fun inside.
  8. DON’T mess around in the water.Pushing or dunking your friends can get easily out of hand.
  9. DON’T dive into shallow water.If you don’t know how deep the water is, don’t dive.
  10. DON’T float where you can’t swim.Keep checking to see if the water is too deep, or if you are too far away from the shore or the poolside.

Photo © 2016 by Roman Boed under Creative Commons license.

Helping Your Child Improve Their Messy Handwriting

Children are expected to have messy handwriting when they’re starting out, but if your child is struggling with their handwriting skills when most of their classmates seem to have it mastered, it can harm their self-esteem and motivation to do well in school. If your child is struggling with handwriting, Understood has a couple of articles to help you help your child master this critical skill (botharticles are available in Spanish as well).

The first article details how you can help your child at home with their handwriting skills. Start by watching your child when they are writing to see if there are any obvious issues—is their hand tiring or are they having trouble holding their pencil correctly? Talk to your child’s teacher as well to see if what you saw at home is also happening in the classroom. The teacher may also have some suggestions for how you can help at home. Other suggestions from the article include:

The article also includes suggestions on how your child’s school can help as well.

The second article focuses on the specific ways that children may be struggling to write neatly. It details things to look for when your child is writing and how those struggles may show up in what they are putting down on paper. The article also covers the reasons your child may be struggling with their handwriting as well, including their age and developmental status, issues with motor skills, learning disabilities, and even simply being impulsive and rushing through their school work.

It is also important to reassure your child that learning handwriting is a complicated skill, but that it is a skill that can be learned and they can improve. Check out the two articles for more information.

Illinois PTA Policy on Fundraising and Alcohol

In response to an increasing number of questions from PTAs regarding fundraising and alcohol, the Illinois PTA State Board of Directors has adopted the following policy for local PTAs, PTA Councils, districts, regions, and the State Board of Directors.

Like every PTA activity, fundraising should be conducted in alignment with our mission: to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families to advocate for all children. Likewise, National PTA policy states that PTAs should refrain from accepting funds from businesses engaged in activities inconsistent with the PTA mission and positions (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, and firearms). To help provide guidance regarding PTAs and alcohol, the Illinois PTA has adopted the following policy.

  • PTAs may not directly sell alcoholic beverages under any circumstances.
  • Sealed bottles of alcohol may be included in silent auction items provided that the auction is held off school property and the contents are not opened during the event or on the premises. PTAs are not to purchase alcohol for such auctions, but may auction donated bottles of alcohol.
  • PTAs are strongly encouraged to refrain from serving alcoholic beverages at PTA events. If alcohol is served, the PTA may not serve it. A licensed establishment or catering company must be used to serve alcohol. PTAs may not sell alcoholic beverages through ticket sales.
  • Alcohol may not be served at events where children are present.
  • Under no circumstances are PTA funds to be used to purchase alcohol or to reimburse purchases of alcohol. This includes reimbursement for alcohol purchased with a meal while a person is representing PTA (e.g., while attending convention).

PTAs should also be aware that Illinois law prohibits open containers of alcohol on “public school district property on school days or at events on public school district property when children are present.” In addition, your county or municipal government may have additional restrictions regarding alcohol sales.

Help with 5 Tough Questions About Teens, Alcohol, and Drugs

With marijuana legalization legislation pending in the General Assembly, families may need to have more discussions about its use. While the proposed legislation would legalize marijuana for those over 21, Illinois PTA continues to follow the bill regarding parts that may affect those under 21, including drug education requirements, protections to prevent sales to those under 21, and expungement of criminal records of those convicted of possession.

Great Schools! published an article answering five tough questions about teens, alcohol, and drugs. While many parents know the basic facts to convey to their child about these issues, there are several nuances that parents may struggle with how to address:

  1. Does talking to my child about drugs or alcohol get them thinking about something they’re otherwise oblivious to?
  2. Should I offer a safe ride home no matter what?
  3. Should I share my own history?
  4. Should my kid learn about drinking at home?
  5. How can I tell if my kid is smoking pot?

The article answers each of these difficult questions with help from experts, and these are important discussions to have with your child. As Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) notes, one in five teens binge drink, but only one in 100 parents think it’s happening.