Monday, July 28, 2014

Summertime reading

Radio Commentary

Experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not can lose some of them.
As children’s first and most important teachers, parents have a major role to play in motivating children to read during the summer.
Here are some tips to help keep your child learning and reading.

Combine activities with books. Summer leaves lots of time for children to enjoy fun activities such as going to the park, seeing a movie, or going to the beach.
Why not also encourage them to read a book about the activity?

If you’re going to a baseball game, suggest your children read a book about their favorite player beforehand. In the car or over a hot dog, you’ll have lots of time to talk about the book and the game.

Visit the library. If your child doesn’t have a library card, summer is a great time to sign up. In addition to a wide selection of books to borrow, many libraries have fun, child-friendly summer reading programs.

Lead by example. Read the newspaper at breakfast, pick up a magazine at the doctor’s office, and stuff a paperback in your beach bag.

If young people see the adults around them reading often, they will understand that literature can be a fun and important part of their summer days.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Car safety tips

Radio Commentary

More parents are traveling with ever-younger children in tow these days. When it comes to travel safety, there are two practices that could save a young life.

First, when traveling in a car, always secure an infant in a car seat in the back seat.

The rear of a car is a far safer place in the event of an accident. Above all, never use an infant seat in the front of a car that has a passenger-side air bag.

If the bag deploys, it can seriously hurt the infant by striking the back of the safety seat and causing injury.

In a case where an older car only has lap belts in the rear, or shoulder straps that cross over the neck or face of a toddler, it is still important to use a safety belt.

In fact, any belt is better than no belt. Use a booster seat for a young child who has outgrown an infant seat. This will raise the child so that the shoulder strap crosses the chest, not the neck.

If the rear seat has no shoulder straps, buy a booster seat with a harness or a shield. These devices have saved young lives.

Of course, preventive and defensive driving is always the best bet — and drivers should take special precautions when traveling with young passengers.

But sometimes unforeseeable circumstances occur, or other drivers are not exercising the same care as you are.

At those times, it is far better to be prepared and to make sure a child is adequately protected.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A community for kids

Radio Commentary

Sometimes we want so much for our children, and our community’s children, that doing what’s best for them can seem overwhelming.

We can begin to feel that there are too many bases to cover, and too many areas to support or protect to make sure our children get our best efforts.

It can help to focus our energies on a shared vision. A publication called Helping Kids Succeed has a great approach.

It asks us to imagine living in a community where all young people feel loved and supported by their families and neighbors, with many positive, caring places to go.

  • Where all young people know what is expected of them — what actions are acceptable and not acceptable. And where they see adults set good examples in those areas; 
  • A community where all young people believe that education and life-long learning are important, and have strong values that guide their actions;
  • A community where all young people have skills to make healthy choices and have good relationships; where all young people feel strong, worthwhile, and connected to some purpose in life.

Finally, it asks us to imagine a community where all young people are valued by everyone.

Imagine the richness of life for everyone in such a community.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hope and help

Radio Commentary

Addiction plays no favorites. It assaults individuals of every walk of life. Every color. Every socioeconomic group. Almost every age.

It seduces people with short-term euphoria and trades that off for lifelong agonies. It is an illness that victimizes not only the addicts but also everyone who loves them, works with them, teaches them, or cares about them in any way.

And addiction doesn’t just happen to “other people.” It happens to our friends, our neighbors, our children, and our loved ones.

If you, a relative, or a friend has a problem, remember that you are not alone. Help is available. Never give up on anyone.

Here are some phone numbers that could help. Call:

  • The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, 963-1433; 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, 962-3332; 
  • The Daniel Bryant Youth and Family Treatment Center adolescent program, 730-7575.

Many people say their agony was prolonged because they didn’t know where to turn for help.

It’s essential to know that thousands of county residents and relatives have received referrals for the treatment they needed through these organizations, and they remain ready to help anyone in need.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

No child left inside

Radio Commentary

It’s hard to believe it has come to this, but childhood is no longer synonymous with outdoor play.

Children are spending an average of 45 hours a week in front of a screen – televisions, computers, computer games. They are not spending time outdoors.

Children know how to build websites at a very early age, but not necessarily forts or tree houses.

Nature is becoming something on a television channel, not something in their backyard.

Research has confirmed what our grandmothers always said: “Go play outside. It’s good for you.”

It turns out that nature is important to children’s development in every major way —intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically.

Playing in nature is especially important to help children increase their capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development.

For children’s sake, parents need to be sure they play outdoors at least some of the time.

Leave No Child Inside is the name of a nationwide movement aiming to do just that, but parental encouragement is still the best way to reconnect kids with nature.

It’s an easy way to make a positive difference in children’s development in so many areas. Just send them outside in a safe area to play. They’ll figure out what to do.