End-of-Summer Activities

If you’re hoping to catch the last of summer’s sun and fun, there’s still time to celebrate the season (while avoiding those back-to-school displays at your favorite retailers).

Teachers and parents alike will want to check out the Every Kid in a Park program from the National Park Service.  Every 4thgrader in the United States receives a free parks pass just for completing an online game, and the pass gives that child a free pass into all the national parks, monuments, historic sites, and heritage trails.  The pass is good September 1 of the fourth grade year and runs until August 31st of the following year (just before fifth grade). It’s not too late to get the pass if your child is entering the 5th grade because you’ll still have full use until the end of August.

There are also great resources for teachers to use in the classroom and for field trips. Teachers, parents, and students can use the website to find their nearest national park, and there are parks, monuments, historic sites, and heritage trails scattered all across the state and our boarder states.  Teachers will appreciate the lesson plans and activities, while parents will love the chance to play with their kiddos in the great outdoors.

Richard Louv’s Children & Nature Networkis a worldwide effort to get kids back into nature and avoid what he refers to as “nature deficit disorder.” Cultivating a sustainability mindset in children occurs most often when the adults in their lives model environmental stewardship in big and small ways.  Recycling is one activity to cultivate at home, and taking our children into natural settings is a deeper experience for families.  The Children & Nature Network is made up of many different families who organize regularly scheduled hikes and play dates for families to attend, often at no cost.  Check out the site to find your local events or to start your own!  There are lots of groups around the world. Teachers will also appreciate the Natural Teachers Network resources.

Finally, don’t forget to check in with your local park district in these last weeks of summer. Many offer activities at little to no cost for local residents.  Start your online search for local parks at your city’s website or call your local city hall.

Key Questions to Ask at Your Child’s School

The start of the new school year is fast approaching. The US Department of Education has created I Have a Question…What Parents and Caregivers Can Ask and Do to Help Children Thrive at School: A Parent Checklistto help you fulfill an important part of your child’s education—engaging with your child’s school in a way that truly matters.

The booklet was created with help from National PTA, America Achieves, the National Council of La Raza, and the United Negro College Fund. In it, you’ll find key questions to ask at your child’s school, including:

  • How will you keep me informed about how my child is doing on a regular basis?
  • How can we work together if my child falls behind?
  • What programs are in place to ensure that the school is a safe, nurturing, and positive environment?
  • How much time is there for recess or exercise?
  • How much time do teachers get to collaborate with one another?
  • How does the school make sure that all students are treated fairly?

The booklet also provides information on what to do beyond asking questions and tips from teachers to support your child’s success. The booklet concludes with resources from National PTA and other organizations, as well as specific information on bullying, finding additional academic support, children with delays or disabilities, financial aid for college, and homeless children. Download the PDF today.

10 School Planning Tips for a Child with Food Allergies

If your child has food allergies, it is important to form a partnership with your child’s school to support them. Kids with Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, has ten tips to help parents prepare for the school year with their child with food allergies.

  1. Communicate with the school.
  2. Visit your child’s doctor before school starts to get needed forms and supplies.
  3. Meet with the school nurse or school representative before school starts about policies and procedures.
  4. Meet with the school/district food services director to learn about meals, policies, and needed forms.
  5. Turn in all completed and signed forms and prescriptions before the first day of school.
  6. Make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss classroom management of food allergies.
  7. Teach and encourage your child to build age-appropriate skills to manage food allergies.
  8. Make sure your child has other items they may need to store at school.
  9. Work together to form a partnership with your child’s school
  10. VisitKFA’s School Planning Zonefor additional information on managing food allergies at school.

Read the full article for additional informationon the tips above to ensure your child has a safe and successful year at school. The article also has a free printable and sharable PDF guide with these ten tips.

A Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Fortnite

If you have a video gamer in your house, chances are you’ve heard of Fortnite, the game that is dominating the gaming world with its recent Season 5 release and even showing up in major league baseball outfield celebrations. Even when they’re not playing it, kids are often talking about it with their friends, watching YouTube videos of the game, or watching live streams of the game on Twitch. If you’ve got a Fortnite fanatic in your house and aren’t sure what it’s all about, the Child Mind Institute has a Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Fortnite to help you out.

The article covers several aspects of Fortnite, including:

  • What the game is
  • Why the game is so compelling to players
  • The social draw of Fortnite
  • Determining how much is too much
  • Fortnite and behavior issues
  • Enforcing limits

Check out the full article to help you have a productive conversation with the Fortnite player in your house about how to play the game responsibly.

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