September 2014 
Back to School

children-schoolbus-bannerAs children have returned or are returning to school it's important for parents and caregivers to discuss bus safety and bullying prevention with their children.  It is also important for parents and caregivers to be involved in school activities as well as being advocates for their children. 

Bus Safety

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, from 2001 through 2010, 1,368 people died in school transportation-related crashes-an average of 137 fatalities per year.

Dawne Gardner, injury prevention coordinator at the Cincinatti Children's Hospital Medical Center offers the following suggestions to parents on how they can ensure their child is safe before, during and after their school bus ride:


While waiting for the bus 

  • Children should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is expected to arrive. Early arrival helps children avoid running across the street to catch the bus or running after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop. 
  • Parents should encourage their child to avoid horseplay while waiting for the bus to keep children and/or their belongings out of the road and away from traffic. 
  • Teach kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and to never move towards the bus until it has stopped and the driver opens the door. 
  • Children should avoid the school bus "danger zone" by staying 10 feet away from the front or back end of the bus so that the driver can see them.

During the Bus Ride 

  • If a child drops something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up. 
  • Children should always use the hand rail when entering the bus.
  • Check that drawstrings, backpack straps, scarves and loose clothing cannot get caught on the bus handrail, door or the seats. 
  • Parents should teach children to never push or shove other students. 
  • All children can help prevent falls on the bus by keeping the aisles clear of backpacks or books that can trip someone or block the way to the emergency exit. 
  • Children should remain seated, facing forward at all times during the bus ride. 
  • Shouting should be avoided to avoid unnecessarily distracting the bus driver. 
  • Parents should discuss the importance of never throwing any objects into, out of, or inside the bus.

After the Bus Ride 

  • Children should never leave their seat until the bus makes a complete stop. 
  • Remind kids to use handrails when exiting the bus. 
  • If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it's safe. 
  • The child should not talk to strangers when walking to and from bus stop. 
  • Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.



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Pinwheel orders and pinwheel estimates for 2015 should be submitted to kfahmie@ounce.org by September 22, 2014.  The price for 2015 is $109/box including shipping and each box has 192 pinwheels.  

Save the Dates!
2014 National Faith Symposium "Our Children, Our Future: Strengthening Families and Communities through Faith"

October 21-22, 2014 Orlando


Florida Association for the Education of Young Children Conference

October 23, 2014 - October 26, 2014 Orlando


Zero to Three National Training Institute

December 10, 2014 - December 12, 2014 Ft. Lauderdale



Sad little boyTeaching children how to interact with others in healthy ways will benefit them not only at school, but also throughout their lives.  It will also help them recognize inappropriate behaviors such as bullying.  Bullying is a pattern of aggressive behavior that makes another person feel hurt, degraded, threatened or humiliated. Some examples of bullying include name calling, pushing, leaving others out of an activity and vandalizing personal possessions.  Cyber bullying occurs when these activities take place through computer communications and the Internet.  It is important to help your child understand what bullying is and what they can do if they are bullied or see others being bullied.


You can help promote healthy social development and prevent bullying by:

  • Talking with your child about what bullying is, why bullying is wrong and what they can do if they witness their peers being bullied
  • Teaching your child the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior
  • Teaching your child what qualities to look for in a friend, such as someone that makes them feel comfortable and likes them for who they are
  • Encouraging your child to get involved in social activities like school and community groups
  • Encouraging participation in out of school activities with a different peer group
  • Encouraging children to make friends and play with others during times when bullying can occur
  • Teaching children not to participate in teasing or hurting other children
  • Teaching children that reporting bullying is different from tattling on someone - bullying hurts someone and can be stopped
  • Encouraging children to seek help from teachers or other adults if they see someone being bullied

All kids involved in bullying - whether they are bullied, bully others, or see bullying - can be affected. It is important to support all kids involved to make sure the bullying doesn't continue and effects can be minimized.


Is Your Child Being Bullied?

Many times kids won't ask for help, so it is important to know what to look for. If your child is at immediate risk harming himself or others, get help right away.

Children react to bullying in different ways. Some signs that a child is being bullied may include:

  • Shy, insecure, suffers from low self-esteem
  • Torn articles of clothing or missing belongings
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts or scrapes
  • Fear of going to school or participating in organized activities
  • Anxious or depressed when returning home from school
  • Quiet or seems withdrawn
  • Complains of illness such as stomachaches
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Has trouble sleeping or often has bad dreams

Here are some tips to help your child if he or she is being bullied:

  • Listen to what your child says
  • Support your child by talking about how to solve the problem
  • Avoid blaming your child for provoking the situation, this can make the child further victimized and may close the lines of communication
  • Ask specific questions about what, who, where and how long the bullying has been happening
  • Encourage your child to continue being themselves
  • Teach your child how to step away from the bullying situations instead of fighting back, which may make matters worse
  • Contact the school, principal or teacher immediately

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Never tell the child to ignore the bullying
  • Do not blame the child for being bullied.  Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied.
  • Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying.  It could get the child hurt, suspended or expelled.
  • Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved.  It may make matters worse.  School or other official can act as mediators between parents.

Follow-up.  Show a commitment to making bullying stop.  Because bullying is behavior the repeats or has the potential to be repeated, it takes consistent effort to ensure that it stops. 

Parents as Advocates

Little Boy with Mom and Teacher  

The relationship between families and their early care providers or teachers is an important factor in promoting positive child outcomes. Parents are often the best educational advocates for their children, especially children with a learning disability. True advocacy is a largely positive process, which should build on your child's strengths and challenges. As your child's best advocate, you are in a unique position to identify and implement positive changes. The following tips can help parents advocate for their children in a constructive way.


Know the rules.

All public schools abide by specific laws and regulations under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires a free, appropriate, public education for all students and can provide access to special services for children with learning disabilities who qualify for such services. The criteria for eligibility varies from state to state, but all schools must adhere to a minimum federal standard. To find out the laws in your state and your rights as a parent, contact your local school district office, local parent training and information center, or state Department of Education.


Get to know the people who make decisions about your child's education.

Connect with educators and administrators in both casual and formal settings. Talk with your child's teacher on a regular basis. If possible, volunteer in the classroom and help out with school functions. If you have concerns or problems that a teacher can not or will not address, be willing to follow the chain of command through the school, and if necessary, to the district office. Remember that you as a parent have the right to request that the school evaluate your child if you think he or she may have a learning disability. Be sure that your request is in writing. This written request will put a required process into motion that will allow you to work with the school on behalf of your child to know if there is a need for special education support and services.


Keep records.

Parents should maintain an organized file of educational records and assessment information. Take notes during telephone and face-to-face meetings, and ask for people's full names and contact information when communicating by phone or by email. In addition, keeping less formal examples of children's academic progress, such as homework papers, artwork, and writings, may be useful in establishing patterns and documenting both abilities and challenges.

Gather information.

Read books and articles on learning, attend conferences, and join a parent support group or affiliate organization in your area. Get comfortable with education acronyms and jargon. Ask professionals lots of questions, and don't be afraid to ask for clarification if their answers are confusing or complicated.


Communicate effectively.

Come to meetings prepared, and know the specific outcomes you want. Be clear, calm and direct when speaking and put things in writing whenever possible. Listen, and take time to think about pertinent information. Consider when documentation or data might help your case, and present it in an orderly and readable format. While assertiveness and persistence are crucial, anger and aggressiveness can work against you and can damage important relationships.

Know your child's strengths and interests and share them with educators.

By highlighting a struggling child's capabilities and talents, you not only help professionals know your child as a whole person, you can also assist in identifying learning accommodations.


Emphasize solutions.

While there are no miracle cures or magic bullets for learning disabilities, it's important to stress the positive, and to help identify ways to improve your child's experience. Once appropriate programs have been identified and agreed upon, make every effort to encourage follow-through.


Focus on the big picture.

Simply put, don't sweat the small stuff. Knowing the specifics of a law may be important on one level, but constantly arguing technicalities can ultimately waste time and prevent positive relationships from forming. Try not to take things personally, and always consider both sides of the story. Details are important, but don't let them get in the way of negotiating the best educational experience for your child. 


Involve your child in decision making as early as you can.

Learning disabilities are a lifelong issue. Mastering self-advocacy skills is one of the keys to becoming a successful adult. Resist the natural urge to pave every road for your child, and respect and support your child's need to take informed academic risks.


(Adapted from a publication by the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities)


Family Day

familyFamily Day is a national initiative to promote simple acts of parental engagement as key ways to help prevent risky substance use in children and teens.  

What started out in 2001 as a grassroots initiative to inform parents about all the benefits of frequent family dinners, has grown into a national movement that is supported by a network of partners and sponsors across the country.

Family Day has evolved and expanded to reflect how important it is to connect with your kids at various times throughout the day, including while driving your kids to soccer practice, tucking little ones into bed or having frequent family dinners. This year, Family Day is Monday September 22.

These everyday activities have a lasting effect on your children. Each of these moments offers an opportunity to communicate with your kids and to really listen to what's on their mind.

As children age, it is vital to keep those lines of communication open, especially during adolescence when they are at risk of engaging in risky behavior, including smoking, drinking or using other drugs.
Research shows adolescence is the critical period for the initiation of risky substance use and its consequences. Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18. Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence, so preventing or delaying teens from using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety.


While there are no silver bullets - addiction can strike any family regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age or gender - parental engagement can be a simple, effective tool to help you prevent substance use in your kids.

Make every day Family Day in your home!

"America's drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms or legislative hearing rooms by judges and politicians. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables - by parents and families."Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASAColumbia Founder and Chairman Emeritus.


Become a Family Day STAR!

I commit to:

S- Spend time with my kids

T- Talk to them about their friends, interests and the dangers of nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs

A- Answer their questions and listen to what they say

R- Recognize that I have the power to help keep my kids substance free!


Visit the link below to pledge to become a Family Day STAR!

Grandparents Day- September 7, 2014

Family with Grandparents  

National Grandparents' Day is a secular holiday celebrated in the United States since 1978 and officially recognized in a number of countries on various days of the year.  There are more grandparents today than ever before. By the year 2030, 1 in every 5 Americans will be over 65 years of age. This demographic shift creates the potential for rich inter-generational connections.  

Check out the "Do Something Grand for Grandparents Day" section of Generations United at the following website: http://grandparentsday.org which offers tips and activities on how to honor our grandparents in 2014.  


2014 KIDS Count Data Book
Kids Count Data Book cover The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 25th edition of its signature KIDS Count Data Book which assesses child well-being nationally and across 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: 1) economic well-being, 2) education, 3) health, and 4) family and community. The report also examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families. To read or download the book visit the following site: http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-2014-kids-count-data-book