National PTA’s Notes from the Backpack Podcast

You probably know that National PTA has a wealth of resources to help you support your child’s education, but perhaps you’re a little short on time to hunt them down and read through them. This fall, National PTA launched its Notes from the Backpack podcast as part of their Center for Family Engagement.

Each podcast lasts about 30 minutes, and there are already a dozen episodes for you to listen to, including:

  • The Truth about School Discipline in America
  • How is Your Kid Really Doing in School?
  • Middle School: What Every Parent Should Know
  • Recess: Is it Just for Play?
  • The Myth of the Uninvolved Parent
  • How to Raise Confident Kids
  • How to Handle Homework: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
  • Asking the “Right” Questions
  • Partnering with Your Child’s Teacher
  • ¿Está su Hijo Recibiendo los Servicios que Necesita? (Is your child getting the services you need? a special episode in Spanish)
  • How College Ready Are You?
  • Beyond Academics: Preparing Your Kids for Life

Each podcast also has a transcription of the podcast available in Spanish as well. The holiday break is a great time make a cup of cocoa, settle in, and get caught up on the podcast.

Talking to Your Teen About Vaping

Illinois PTA has highlighted the issues surrounding vaping and teens for many years and continues to focus on the issue in alignment with our 2018 resolution on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). We’ve also highlighted National Public Radio’s (NPR) partnership with Sesame Workshop that created their Parenting: Difficult Conversations podcast, a part of NPR’s Life Kit. Now, NPR has an article on how to talk to your teen about vaping.

Unlike cigarettes, vape pens often look like USB drives, are easy to conceal, and don’t leave a lingering odor on their clothes. As more than 1,000 cases of illness and several deaths have been linked to vaping, parents are becoming increasingly concerned about whether their child is vaping. The article from NPR focuses on seven key points when talking with your child about vaping.

  • Explain the health risks, because some kids don’t know
  • Highlight vaping’s ties to Big Tobacco
  • Establish open dialog
  • Help your kid practice saying, “No”
  • Teach, don’t preach
  • Go easy on yourself: You’re not a bad parent if your kid vapes
  • Get smart, and get help

The NPR article digs into each of these points with suggestions on how to initiate and continue a conversation with your child about vaping.

Photo © 2016 by Mylesclark96 under Creative Commons license.

Surviving the Holiday Family Gathering

The holidays are a busy, bustling time filled with activities and traditions. With school on break, traveling as a family or having family travel to you, and all the other out-of-the-ordinary things that come with the holidays can sometimes make things stressful for parents, kids, and especially kids with sensory issues or other special needs. The Child Mind Institute has some suggestions to help all kids and parents enjoy the family gatherings over the holidays.

Among the tips in the article are:

  • Minimize conflict over behavior: Make sure your kids know what the house rules are at grandma’s house or wherever you’re heading over the holidays in advance.
  • Talk to your hosts early: Just like you’d discuss your child’s peanut allergy in advance with your host, don’t hesitate to discuss other needs your child may have. No one needs to comment on your body-conscious teen taking seconds or share their opinion that ADHD isn’t a thing.
  • Plan ahead for some peace and quiet: The holidays are full of stimulation, so if you have a child sensitive to crowds and noise or who is simply an introvert, make sure there’s a place where they can take a break that’s quiet and gives them time to recover.
  • Discuss social expectations: Different kids have different needs, and you need to communicate those with your family in advance. If you have a touch-sensitive kid, make sure your family knows that your child should not be forced to participate in “mandatory” hugs and kisses. Also discuss with your child about their social expectations as well, such as making an effort to get along with cousins that are only seen every year or two.
  • Think about the menu: If you have a picky eater and know that the menu where you’re heading is likely to be a problem, consider bringing something your child will eat with you. Encourage them to try new foods, but reassure them that they won’t go hungry.
  • Manage your expectations: Holiday gatherings tend to naturally lean more towards what we saw in Christmas Vacation than in a Norman Rockwell painting. Don’t expect the perfect holiday. Focus on a couple of things you’d like your children to get out of the holidays—a memory of doing something special as a family, perhaps—and focus on achieving that.

For more on these and other points, check out the full article at the Child Mind Institute.

Use the Healthy Eating Toolkit to Build Healthy Habits at Home and School

Every parent wants their child to eat well and develop healthy habits, but with today’s busy lives, helping your child build those skills can be a challenge. Action for Healthy Kids has created a Healthy Eating Toolkit for parents and educators to help improve student learning, behavior, and emotional health.

The toolkit is made up of interactive tiles that:

  • illustrate simple ideas that can be done at home or in the classroom to build healthy habits
  • link to blog articles and recipes for healthier breakfasts, snacks, and other meals
  • help parents understand how school lunches work 
  • provide tools to work with your school to improve student meals
  • explain how PTAs can use healthy fundraisers to support their work

On the teacher side of the toolkit, the tiles show how to support healthy habits in the classroom and in the curriculum. Check out the toolkit and begin planning how your PTA can support healthy habits for students.