Nurture a Love of Nature and Health with These Resources

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has a website to help nurture your child’s interest in the environment, science, and health. The site, Kids Environment Kids Health, provides resources for parents, teachers, and kids to explore these topics.

Among the topics covered on the site are:

  • Environment & Health
  • Healthy Living
  • Pollution
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Science—How It Works
  • The Natural World

The games section of the website provides brainteasers, puzzles, songs, and riddles, while the activities section includes coloring pages, stories created by kids, and science experiments to do at home. For teachers, there are lessons plans on environmental health topics from kindergarten through high school. The site also provides a section aimed just at little kids, gathering all of the age-appropriate materials in one easy-to-find location.

What to Expect at Your Child’s Checkup

You might have obsessively read the What to Expect When You’re Expectingbook when your first child was on the way. Perhaps you’ve used PTA’s Parents’ Guides to Student Successto be informed about what your child will be learning each year and what questions you should ask your child’s teacher. As your child grows, having an idea of what’s coming up can make you a better parent.

One of the areas where parents may not be too sure what to expect is their child’s annual checkup. Kids’ Health has a series of guides in both Englishand Spanishabout what to expect at each checkup from birth to age 21. The guides provide information on:

  • What your doctor should be doing and asking about.
  • What to keep in mind until your child’s next checkup.
  • What your child should be learning to as they grow and mature.
  • What safety issues you should be aware of for that age.

Check out the guide for your child’s next checkup and bookmark the listso you have it handy next time your child is in the examining room. Share the guides for the older years with your teen or young adult to help take some of the fear out of their next visit.

Photo © 2015 by Greens MPsunder Creative Commons license.

Helping Your Child When They’re Excluded

It’s a powerless feeling as a parent—your child is being excluded from a group at school, often a group they’ve been friends with for years. That exclusion is a form of bullying known as relational aggression, and can occur online and in person. It can include gossiping, spreading rumors, public humiliation, alliance building, and social isolation. But unlike physical bullying or verbal harassment, it can be hard to spot.

According to a survey by The Ophelia Project, 48% of students in grades 5 through 12 are regularly involved in or witness relational aggression. Students between the ages of 11 and 15 report being exposed to 33 acts of relational aggression during a typical week.

An article at Great Schools provides six ways you can help your child deal with relational aggression. The solution involves teaching them coping skills and how to find healthy friendships. The six strategies are:

  1. Watch for the signs.
  2. Use conversation starters.
  3. Make a friendship tree.
  4. Create a personal billboard.
  5. Problem solve together.
  6. Create a coping kit.

Helping your child deal with relational aggression can minimize the issues that can stem from this form of bullying. Children who experience relational aggression are absent more from school, do worse academically, and exhibit more behavior problems, eating disorders, substance abuse, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and low self-esteem. Read the full article for how to implement each of the six strategies.

USDA Provides School Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit

Does your school or school district have a wellness policy? Chances are, they do, but families and even teachers may not know much about it. The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has created a Local School Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit to help schools (or PTAs) engage staff and families on their school’s wellness policies. The toolkit includes:

  • A cover letter about the kit
  • A letter to the principal
  • Flyers in English and Spanish for parents
  • PowerPoint presentations aimed at families and staff
  • A newsletter article
  • Social media posts and graphics

Talk to your principal or superintendent about how your PTA can help support your school’s wellness policy. If there is a wellness committee, ask to have families represented on the committee as well. Use the USDA toolkit to support your activities.