Plan Your PTA Take Your Family to School Week Event Now

tn-2017-tyftsw-social3Founders’ Day, February 17th, celebrates the legacy and work of Alice McLellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and Selena Sloan Butler to improve the lives of children. The date marks the first National Congress of Mothers, held in Washington, D.C. in 1897. As part of that celebration, National PTA designates the week that includes Founders’ Day as PTA Take Your Family to School Week.

This year, PTA Take Your Family to School Week is February 13-17, and the theme is Celebrating the Changing Faces of Families. Research shows that families engaged in their children’s education results in greater student success, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, or parents’ level of education. PTA Take Your Family to School Week provides PTAs with an opportunity to engage the families at their school in their children’s education. It also promotes your PTA and the work you do in your school, which can lead to more families joining your PTA to support that work.

Now is the time to think about how your PTA will bring families into your school building. Do you want to provide the opportunity for families to share a meal with their children, either before, during, or after school hours? Will you work with your principal to provide families the chance to participate or observe in the classroom? Do you have no idea where to start?

If your PTA isn’t sure where to start, both National PTA and Illinois PTA have resources to help you host a fun, pre-planned event for the families at your school.

National PTA also has an invitation letter to send to families and specially-sized graphics for your PTA to use on social media to help you promote your event. Plan your event now to celebrate PTA Take Your Family to School Week.

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

drugs-shatter-the-myths-coverNational Drug and Alcohol Facts Week runs from January 23rd to 29th. It is a program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to connect students with scientists and other experts to counteract the myths and misinformation about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, television, movies, music, and their peers.

Part of this year’s activities include an online Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day on Thursday, January 26, from 7:00am until 5:00pm CST. Anyone will be able to view the live chat, but schools that have registered in advance and received an access code will be able to submit questions. In addition, approximately two weeks after the chat, a transcript will be posted allowing students and parents to see all of the questions and answers. Transcripts from the past nine years of chats are available now.

The National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week website is the coordinating hub for events going on around the country. On the website, you will find:

While alcohol, cigarette, and opioid use among teens has decreased in recent years, marijuana use remains steady and e-cigarette use is increasing. Make sure that both you and your teen understand the facts regarding drug and alcohol use by checking out the NIDA website together.

SB550 Becomes Law, Reducing Lead in School Drinking Water

sb550-fountain-signedSenate Bill 550 (SB550), the Preventing Lead in Drinking Water bill, was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday, January 16, 2017. The bill has been a key focus for Illinois PTA advocacy this past year, and its passage is a win for the children of Illinois.

It is also a reminder that PTAs can have their biggest effect on the lives of children at their school when they advocate together for policy changes that benefit every child in Illinois or across the country. Illinois PTA thanks those who participated in the passage and signing of SB550 by contacting their legislators.

What SB550 Will Do

During the lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly on January 9 and 10, 2017, SB550 was amended in the House before passage. Here is what the law will do for Illinois children.

  • School buildings built before 2000 that serve 10 or more children in grades pre-K through 5, whether public, private, charter, or nonpublic day or residential institutions, will need to test each source of potable water for lead. Those sources include taps, faucets, drinking fountains, and classroom wash basins as well as food preparation water sources, but janitorial sinks and basins are excluded.
  • The water to be tested is to be the first draw of water that has been standing in pipes for at least 8 hours but not more than 18 hours. If a sample exceeds 5 parts per billion (ppb), the school is to promptly notify parents and legal guardians of the location in the school where that sample was taken. Note that this level is below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s lead action level of 15ppb.
  • Schools built before 1987 are to conduct testing by December 31, 2017. Schools built from 1987 to 1999 are to be tested by December 31, 2018. The state will determine by June 30, 2019 if schools built from 2000 onward will need to conduct lead testing as well.
  • Licensed day care centers, day care homes, and group day care homes built before 2000 that serve children under the age of 6 will need to test drinking water for lead based on rules that will be in place by January 1, 2018. Those rules are to include testing requirements, training requirements, and notification of results.
  • Community water systems are to complete a comprehensive inventory of lead service lines in their system by April 15, 2018 and update that information annually. Such systems are also to notify potentially affected residences of construction or repair work on water mains, lead service lines, or water meters that could potentially increase lead levels in drinking water. Notification is not required if the inventory shows that the water system being worked on is lead-free.

Join the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network

This past fall, SB550 had passed the Senate but looked like it would die in the House. With Illinois PTA advocates meeting with legislators and staff during Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield in November and many more contacting representatives through our online campaign, the bill began to move during the veto session but did not pass. Our final campaign over the holidays to push SB550 through the house during the lame duck session in January helped get the bill finally passed.

Illinois PTA is most effective when our members combine their voices into PTA’s one voice, and the passage of SB550 provides ample proof of the impact we can have together. To add your voice to Illinois PTA’s one voice on future issues, sign up for the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network. Your e-mail address is only used to alert you to Illinois PTA advocacy campaigns, and our Voter Voice tools make it easy for you to contact your legislators in just minutes with a prewritten e-mail stating the Illinois PTA position. Join today!


Is Your Child Sleep Deprived?

baby-1151351_960_720Sleep is critical to healthy physical and psychological development for children. According to JAMA Pediatrics, the long-term effects of lack of sleep in children include poor diet, sedentary behavior, obesity, reduced immunity, stunted growth, mental health issues (including depression and suicidal tendencies), and substance abuse. Children ages 6 to 13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep, while teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep, yet studies show most children are getting an hour less of sleep each night than they did 30 years ago.

The reasons for this increased lack of sleep are varied. Extracurricular activities increasingly happen at night. Working parents who get home late may spend time with their children later into the evening. Heavier homework loads can keep children up later. Television, video games, and computers have been shown to affect sleep quality due in part to their well-lit screens. A JAMA Pediatrics article analyzing the results of 20 studies of children’s sleep and mobile devices noted that phones and tablets play a significant role in decreased sleep quality, in part because the real-time nature of social media tended to put the brain in a more wakeful state, making it harder to fall asleep after turning off the device.

Playing Catch Up on Sleep

You might think that your child can catch up on their lack of sleep over the weekend, but experts note that irregular sleep schedules affect children’s biological clocks, decrease sleep quality, and increase irritability. Sleeping in on the weekend can also make it more difficult to get a child up for school on Monday morning. Experts recommend that children keep similar sleep schedules during the week and over the weekend.

Have a Bedtime Routine

When you have a family trip to a big event like a wedding, you don’t just all hop in the car and go. You plan it out. You make sure that everyone is dressed appropriately, that you have all the accessories you need for the trip, and that you leave early enough to arrive on time. Getting a child into bed is a similar process. You can’t just stop what they are doing and chase them off to bed. They need time to transition from highly-engaging activities to a more soothing activity like a bath or a bedtime story before crawling into bed and going to sleep.

Be Your Child’s Sleep Advocate

Children often keep going until they collapse from exhaustion. Most of us remember having a toddler sound asleep on the floor in the middle of a pile of toys. Because of this, it is important for adults to educate our children on the importance of sleep. Great Schools recently had an article with seven ways to be your child’s sleep advocate:

  1. Talk to your child about sleep.
  2. Encourage your child to establish a sleep routine.
  3. Say no to late-night TV and computer use (and mobile devices, too).
  4. Check in with your child’s teacher.
  5. Consider the pros and cons of naps.
  6. Exercise plays a role in keeping a regular sleep schedule.
  7. Be a role model.

Sleep is an essential part of student success at school, healthy brain development, positive behavior, and a healthy lifestyle. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep.