School Health Webinar Series—Programs, Fundraisers, and More

Action for Healthy Kids, a long-time partner of the Illinois PTA, has an ongoing webinar series focusing on school health issues. There are three live webinars scheduled for this year so far, and past webinars are available as recordings. The live webinars will also be archived for those unable to attend in real-time, so be sure to register even if you can’t attend live to be able to view the recording.

Upcoming Webinars

Game On: Your One-Stop Shop for School Health(September 26, 2018, 2:00pm-2:45pm)

It’s the beginning of a new school year, which means it’s time to get your Game On! Action for Healthy Kids’ Game On program is a no-cost, step-by-step online guide that serves as your one-stop shop for school health. Game On provides all the information and resources you need to build a healthy school. Join this webinar to learn how to use Game On to build a strong school wellness program this year. School staff, parents, health professionals and other community members are encouraged to attend.

Take Action to Improve Health with the School Health Index(October 11, 2018, 2:00pm-2:45pm)

How does your school determine what to prioritize around student health and wellness? Action for Healthy Kids recommends using the School Health Index to assess your school’s health environment to determine what you’re doing well and where you could improve. Attend this webinar to learn about the School Health Index, how to use Action for Healthy Kids’ school portal to complete the assessment online and how to make the most of the summary reports generated by our technology to improve school and student health. School and district staff, parents and community members are encouraged to attend this webinar.

School Breakfast: Menu Options for Alternative Breakfast Models(January 10, 2019, 3:00pm-3:45pm)

How does your school determine what to prioritize around student health and wellness? Action for Healthy Kids recommends using the School Health Index to assess your school’s health environment to determine what you’re doing well and where you could improve. Attend this webinar to learn about the School Health Index, how to use Action for Healthy Kids’ school portal to complete the assessment online and how to make the most of the summary reports generated by our technology to improve school and student health. School and district staff, parents and community members are encouraged to attend this webinar.

Archived Webinars

Healthy Snacking (30 minutes)

Spice up your snacking routine with fun and healthy snacks for all ages. Learn about easy, healthy snacks you can serve during or after school and as part of school celebrations.

Family and Community Engagement 101: Maximizing Volunteers for School Health (60 minutes)

To make the most out of your school health programs, it’s essential to make the most out of your family and community volunteers and partners. This webinar prepares you on how to best use the parent and community volunteers you already have, and how to find the best volunteers to meet your school health needs.

School Digs! Raising the Bar and Profits with Healthy School Fundraisers (60 minutes)

Whether it’s the cafeteria, playground, classroom or another area on your campus, kids need to get the same message everywhere: Be active and eat healthy! This webinar is designed to show you where campuses can improve and make sure that kids are getting the right message about healthy eating and being active. Create healthier school parties, offer healthier rewards, or host a healthy non-food fundraiser. Hosted by Parents for Healthy Kids.

Helping Kids Learn Better with Healthy School Meals (60 minutes)

Learn how national school meal programs work and how parents and community members can deepen support, trust and meaningful collaboration with nutrition services staff to create healthier school food environments. For parents, school wellness champions and school health teams.

Yoga in the Classroom (30 minutes)

Use simple yoga-based movements and practices to increase physical fitness, student focus and academic performance! For teachers and champions for active kids.

Building an Effective PTA Board

As the school year begins, it’s important to get your PTA working effectively. A key part of that effectiveness is having a good PTA board made up of your officers and chairpersons. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you build your PTA board and start working together.

Get the Right People in the Right Seats on the Bus

In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins stresses the importance of getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. In other words, making sure that the people on your PTA board are the right people to help lead your PTA and they are doing the right jobs for their skills. Your PTA board should reflect your school community, and you can use National PTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Toolkitto help you reach out to groups at your school that are underrepresented in your PTA.

Realize that Team Building Takes Time

No group comes together right from the beginning. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman noted this in his 1965 article Developmental Sequence in Small Groups, in which he identified four stages that most teams follow on their way to high performance. Those stages are:

  1. Forming:In the forming stage, your board has low skills and high enthusiasm. The leader plays a larger role in this stage, since most team members are still sorting out what their roles and responsibilities are.
  2. Storming:In this stage, your board still has low skills, but low enthusiasm as well. People have begun to get comfortable with their role on the team and have started to push back against others. These conflicts can arise from differences in working styles, jockeying for position, or challenging your leadership. It’s important to remember that this conflict is an expected part of the process, and as a leader you should work to keep your board members focused on the goals of your PTA—helping the children of your school.
  3. Norming:In the norming stage, your board has higher skills, but still has low enthusiasm. Board members have begun to resolve differences, recognize each other’s strengths, and understand how you work as their leader. They’ve begun to know one another better, have begun to build trust, and are beginning to ask each other for help and provide constructive feedback. As a leader, you can begin to step back a bit from managing your board at this stage, but realize that storming and norming overlap to some degree, and as new challenges arrive or new board members come on, the team may lapse back into storming again.
  4. Performing:In the final stage, your board has both high skills and high enthusiasm. There is a high level of trust between your board members, and they are all focused on accomplishing their tasks to meet the PTA’s goals. As a leader, you can delegate much of your work and focus on developing team members and preparing for the transition to next year’s officers.

Make Use of the Seven Habits

Author Stephen R. Covey identified a framework for personal effectiveness in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. While the book is aimed at individuals, those seven habits can also be used in creating an effective PTA board.

 

  1. Be Proactive: Decide what your PTA will focus on this year at the beginning. Realize that there will be conflict on the board and that some conflict is essential to moving forward. Make sure that conflict is productive conflict that focuses on determining the best course of action for your PTA and not damaging personal relationships on your board. Develop ground rules for handling conflict with your board, including keeping board conflicts confidential so your board members can trust each other and share honest opinions. Nothing tears a PTA board apart faster than a board member sharing disagreements on your board or with your PTA’s chosen course of action with those outside the board discussion or on social media.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind: Set goals now for what your PTA will accomplish this year. Make sure that those goals are supported by your board and that they are SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-based.
  3. Put First Things First: Work with your entire PTA community to create an action plan to achieve your PTA’s goals. Share your goals with your principal and teachers as well as your families. Ask for their input. Put together committees to accomplish specific goals or tasks, and empower them to accomplish that goal or task.
  4. Think Win-Win: If your PTA is considering two different ways to meet your PTA’s goals, and both of them will get you there, there is no wrong answer. Keep your board and your PTA focused on the destination, not the path.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: It seems counterintuitive, but an effective leader is first an effective follower. While a leader may be able to harangue their team into following their personal vision for a short while, the effective leader collects and considers the team’s visions and identifies where the group wants to go as a whole. That means that you should ask more questions, listen attentively, and make fewer statements. Make sure that everyone, whether at your PTA board meetings or general membership meetings, feels safe and comfortable enough to share their opinions and ask difficult questions.
  6. Synergize: Synergy is combining the ideas of several people to create something that is better than what any one of them could have come up with alone. Doing this successfully requires that your board members trust each other and focus on the goal more than the path to get there. Identify which groups in your PTA community are not at the table and invite them in to make sure that all voices are heard.
  7. Sharpen the Saw: Sharpening the saw is about taking care of yourself, your board, and your PTA. Take the time to rest and rejuvenate, not just as a PTA leader, but your board as well, so that you don’t burn out. Celebrate your accomplishments. Publicly thank those who helped make things happen. You can be more effective cutting down trees if you are always using a sharp saw.

Build Trust

Patrick Lencioni is best known for his book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Teamthat identifies the ways that teams fail to work effectively. Somewhat less familiar are his five behaviors of a cohesive team. Of these five behaviors, the fundamental one is trust. Trust is the essential foundation of any team, and without it, conflict becomes destructive and your PTA will struggle to meet its goals.

As a PTA leader, one of your first tasks should be to work towards building trust on your board. You can do this by providing opportunities for your board members to get to know each other better. Use icebreakers at the beginning of your first few board meetings, especially ones that require each board member to talk with every other board member. Make sure to have some icebreakers that are small group or one-on-one activities, as some people may not be comfortable standing up in front of the whole group and sharing something personal about themselves, especially early on before there is a lot of trust between board members. Provide opportunities to socialize together, either with refreshments after your board meeting or on a specific board outing to a coffee shop or other social setting.

PTA meetings are notorious for the “meeting after the meeting” out in the parking lot. Listening in on that conversation is a good measure of how your board or your PTA are working. If the parking lot discussion is all about what went on in the meeting, you have a problem. If the discussion is about what they’re doing this coming weekend or making plans to meet and do something together (PTA or otherwise), then your board is working well as a team.

Healthcare Transition Toolkit for Children with Disabilities

If you have a child with a disability, you have probably become very familiar with navigating and supporting their health care needs over the years. However, once your child turns 18, health laws turn much of the responsibility of that care over to your child. Youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities often face a variety of barriers in accessing and managing their health care when they reach adulthood. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has created a comprehensive toolkit called Transition to Adulthood: A Health Care Guide for Youth and Families.

The toolkit does not focus just on those young adults on the autism spectrum, and many of the tools in the kit are of use to any family. The toolkit provides information on:

  • How to choose a source of health care coverage
  • How to create a health care support network
  • How to integrate health care transition goals into individual educational plans (IEPs), beginning in middle or high school
  • How to manage their own health care

The toolkit also provides guides and worksheets for keeping track of health care records, making doctor’s appointments, and talking to doctors about health concerns. Health care services and supports are often plentiful for children, but lacking for adults. Use the toolkit to help prepare your child for managing with their health care needs in adulthood.

Ordinary Trip to the Grocery Store with Your Kid? Explain as You Go

Today’s guest post comes from Laura Schlachtmeyer at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with suggestions on how to help your child develop money management and math skills.

We all know our kids are always watching and learning (even when we wish they weren’t). This applies to the way you use and manage money as well. Every day, you make decisions about money that might not be visible to your kids. For example, they may not know that you set a budget for the grocery store—and that’s why you didn’t get them that box of fruit snacks.

Next time you’re at the store, try something new: Think out loud and talk through what you’re doing.This helps your children see how you think about spending and helps them understand your decisions.

Here are three steps to turn your next shopping trip into a chance for your children to build their money skills.

  1. Make Your Shopping List Together

Making a shopping list might be a silent activity for you—you sit down at the table with pen and paper, or you open an app, and list what you need. Next time try talking through your list with your kids.

“I see we’re getting low on peanut butter, which we’ll need to make sandwiches for the week. I’ll also write down eggs and milk, which I buy every week since we use them to make breakfast and other recipes.”

You can also ask your kids to help you make the list. Let them check the cabinets or think about what things they use each week.

This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the idea of a budget. Spending can be invisible or mysterious to kids—they make up the rules if they aren’t told what they are. Talk about how you need to keep track of how much you spend on groceries so that you have enough money for other things, such as gas or the cable bill. Explain that making a list helps make sure you don’t buy things you don’t need and overspend, even if that means having to cut back on a few extra things you want.

  1. Talk as You Shop

When you’re at the store, it’s time to talk. You likely already know which brands you like to buy or whether you’ll decide to purchase something if it’s on sale. Maybe you even choose which grocery store you go to based on its prices, what you need that day, or the coupons you have. Instead of just bringing your kids along for the ride, share your reasoning with them. At the store, each item you put in your cart is a chance to tell your kids why you’re buying it instead of a similar item at a different price point.

Older children can help you comparison shop and find ways to save by choosing a different brand or quantity. This is also a chance to explain why you may purchase things even if they’re the more expensive option.

“I see that this other soup brand is cheaper but it’s worth it to me to spend an extra 50 cents on this one, because we all like it better. Let’s try to find another item where we can save 50 cents, to make up the difference.”

As you shop, you can refer back to your budget. If your child asks for something not on the list, you can work together to evaluate if it’s okay to purchase. Maybe the item is on sale, or you have a coupon. Other times, you may need to wait to buy something.

  1. Explain Your Purchase

As you approach the cash register, you might have a running total of the cost in your head so you aren’t surprised by the amount. What if instead you did the math out loud so your kids can hear?

“I think our total will be about $50—I rounded up each item a little bit in my head and added it up as we shopped. Let’s use the debit card since I don’t have enough cash with me. The debit card subtracts the money from our bank account right away.”

If you have young children, it may not be obvious that you’re trading money for the items in your cart—especially if they don’t see you use cash. Discussing the decision-making process helps your kids understand that even if you’re just swiping a card, you’re spending money you’ve earned on these groceries.

You can also discuss whether you stayed within your budget, or why you needed to spend a little extra during this trip.

When you think out loud, you clarify what you’re doing and why. Whether you’re at the grocery store, paying bills, or online shopping with your kids, get into the habit of thinking out loud during your day-to-day money and time management activities so they can follow along.

Ways to Keep Talking

Check out some of our tools and resources for more ways to keep the conversation going:

  • What’s on a receipt: Show your child how you estimate the price you’ll pay at the register and practice rounding up to include sales tax.
  • Pretend play: Explain what different people do at the grocery store—cashiers and customers—and play out different scenarios.
  • Conversation starters: Learn how to talk to your kids in early childhood, middle childhood, and teen years.

You can also join our challenge to try one new thing to grow your child’s money skills.