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Archive for September, 2011


Posted on: September 29th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

It is extremely important for parents to encourage their teens to either volunteer or get a job. There are many benefits to teens taking on the responsibility of volunteering and working, and these skills and life lessons they learn will carry on throughout their lives. The simple skills they learn in the work environment settings such as handling money and professionalism are skills they wont get anywhere else.

Volunteering is great for not only getting involved in the community, but it will help boost resumes and college applications when the time comes. Having the chance to volunteer will help them find a business or cause they love and help grow their ambitions about their career goals. Volunteering not only gives them an opportunity to change lives, but can also change their own lives.

How Early Should a Teen Working?

Parents should start discussing the topic of working with their teens when they are around the age of 14. Federal law makes 14 the minimum age for most paying jobs, but there are exceptions, such as babysitting, farm work, and working for a family business. Some states have child labor laws that set older minimum ages, so be sure to double check your state’s to see how old your child needs to be, what forms you need to fill out as well as law restrictions.

How Early Should a Teen Volunteer?

Hopefully your kids have volunteered at least once before they are teens. You can get them involved with volunteering in your community at a younger age by doing it as a family. This not only builds their moral fiber, but it also builds a great family bond. Unlike school, with volunteering your teen gets to choose what really interests then and who or what is most deserving of their time. The flexibility of volunteering and the variety of options will help your child grow that they are and truly find what makes them happy.

How to Find Job Opportunities For your Teen:

  • Use Easily Accessible Resources. One of the best resources that tends to go highly unseen by teenagers are their school guidance counselors. They are a great resource for your teens out to in order to see if there are any known available positions open. Also guidance counselors typically go above and beyond and will help them search for suitable jobs as well and prepare them for interviews.
  • Ask and You Shall Receive. Asking never hurt anyone, and sometimes the only way to find out is to ask. Have them go to their favorite hang out spots, such as restaurants, movies or even the mall, and ask If there are any jobs available. If not, ask to fill out an application incase a position opens up. Showing their interest will put them at the top of the waiting list.
  • Look for Signs. Keep your eyes open. Sometimes it is as simple as looking for signs in the windows or billboards that say the company is hiring.
  • Social Media Networking. Post on their social media sites that they are looking for a job, and see if any friends or families know of any opportunities.


How to Find Volunteering Opportunities That Are Right For Your Teen:

Even as adults, we find it hard to know what we want and like, just imagine how hard it is for teens to figure that out! In a sea of opportunities, sometimes it can be overwhelming and teens may not know where to begin in deciding where they want to work or volunteer. Sit them down and discuss general topics that will help lead the search of work and volunteering into a narrower search. Some ideas for that would be:

  • Help kids learn and grow. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister, camp counselor, or volunteer for an after-school sports program. Special Olympics games and events are great ways to get to know special-needs kids.
  • Give back over the holidays. Serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless, volunteer at your local food bank, or distribute toys to kids. Your church, temple, mosque, or other place of worship also may be able to use your help.
  • Play with pets at a local animal shelter. Most shelters depend on volunteers to keep the cats and dogs happy and well exercised. (And when you’re walking rescued dogs, you get a workout too.)
  • Volunteer for a political campaign. If you’re interested in politics, it’s a great way to find out how things work on the inside. Even if you can’t vote, you can still work to get your candidate elected — whether it’s the president of the United States or your town mayor.
  • Help the environment. Join a conservation group and help out with river preservation. Take part in a local park cleanup day. You don’t have to be an outdoorsy type if you can’t picture yourself hauling trees up a hill, you could help out in a park office or education center.
  • Support a health-related cause. Lots of us are close to people who have a medical problem (like cancer, HIV, or diabetes, for example). It can feel good to donate your time to an organization that raises money for research, delivers meals, or offers other help to people with an illness.

If you have more than one thing you love, find a way to combine the two. For example, if you love kids and are great at arts and crafts, visit your local children’s hospital and offer to lead art activities for young patients.


Contributing Websites:

Websites for Volunteering Resources:

Websites for Job Resources:


Posted on: September 22nd, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Fun With Benefits

Whether dancing around the living room on a rainy day or singing along to the radio, school-age kids love listening to — and participating in — music.  And there are loads of good reasons to encourage this enthusiasm. Research shows that kids who are actively involved in music (who play it or sing it regularly):


  • score higher in math and reading
  • learn coordination, goal-setting, concentration, and cooperation
  • excel in math and science because of development in reasoning and cognitive skills
  • experience less conflict with friends/peers and have higher sense of self-esteem
  • have a higher chance of attending college


One study showed that students age 7-9 who were given keyboard training while also using math software scored higher on proportional math and fractions tests than students who used the software alone. Also, students who have been involved in public school music programs, on average, score higher on their SATs than those who don’t.  But the best reason to encourage a love of music can be as simple as its fun and allows parents and kids to spend quality time together.

Exposing Your Child to Music

Listening to an array of music improves a child’s ability to analyze and comprehend it. The early elementary years are the perfect time to expose kids to everything from classical to country. Most are open to experiencing many musical styles until around the third grade, when they start to prefer popular music. (Studies have also shown that kids in grades four and up prefer music with a faster tempo. To feed this need and still expand their abilities, find different international styles (salsa, chalga, aboriginal) of music with up tempo which will help develop their ear for other languages and other less popular styles of music.

Fill your child’s life with as much music as you can. Some ideas on how you can incorporate a larger music emphasis on your family’s lives are:


  • Put an iPod stereo with rotating playlists in your child’s room. Work with them to create a playlist of familiar and new types of music to help expand their appreciation for different music genres and styles
  • A musical alarm clock or clock radio can help your child wake up musically. Many stereos have timers that let kids drift off to music as well. Certain songs can serve as cues for your child (for instance, one song you always play or sing in the morning when it’s time to get ready for school).
  • iTunes also offers free downloads every week with samples from newly released albums from around the world.
  • Introduce kids to songs from your own childhood or music you especially love. Who was your favorite band growing up? Your favorite musical?
  • As cliché as it sounds, singing in the car is another great way of exposing your kids to music…and it does not hurt to have a little fun!  Show tunes are my favorite for car singing.
  • Make or buy musical instruments and have them available in your child’s play area.
  • Cook to music, clean to music, and take some time just to sit and listen and discuss as an activity.
  • Try music-making computer software programs that let kids lay down their own tracks, just like a professional. Apple offers a user-friendly program called Garage Band that allows artists to create new songs from loops and program instruments. If your child already plays an instrument, they can record themselves directly into the program and add sound effects and layer other instruments with their live recordings.
  • Form your own family band with real or improvised instruments (spoons, makeshift drums, etc.). This is a good group activity for kids to try with friends.  And if all else fails play RockBand!


Taking Lessons

Most kids are ready for formal music instruction between ages 5 and 7. The piano is a logical and great place to start.  Kids who learn keyboarding skills also learn the fundamental musical concepts needed for other instruments and vocal music. String instruments are another good place to begin. Brass or wind instruments can be more physically challenging and may not be appropriate until the fourth or fifth grade.

Questions before starting lessons:


  • Playing musical instruments makes physical demands on kids. Does your child have the appropriate physical development and fine motor control to play an instrument or sing? (A good music teacher can help determine a child’s physical readiness.)
  • Can your child focus on one thing for 20-30 minutes?
  • Does he or she understand and comprehend letters and numbers?
  • Has your child had adequate musical exposure? Can he or she keep a steady beat, identify incorrect notes in a familiar song, and repeat basic rhythm and pitch patterns? (If the answer is no, work on these skills before beginning formal lessons.)  Music programs offer programs for parents and their babies.
  • Are you able to commit to taking your child to lessons on a regular basis?
  • Are you willing to ensure that your child does her music homework and practices on a regular basis?


Your child can get music instruction at school but should also get basic instruction in reading music, writing music, and understanding music theory.  Some great after school programs that offer music programs for children of all ages are: Music Together, the Patel Conservatory, Music Showcase, Marcia P. Hoffman Institute for the Performing Arts and the Miami Children’s Theater, Primrose School of Lutz.

Researchers now think that music may predate language in human development. So whether your child becomes a concert pianist or simply enjoys singing in the shower, encourage that love of music!

For more info visit:


Posted on: September 16th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

The issue of sports safety is an undeniable concern for many and parents need to make it a point to discuss the necessary safety equipment that their kids need in order to be safe when they are active.

More than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under are treated for sports-related injuries each year.

Children between 5 and 14 years of age account for almost 40 percent of sports-related injuries for all age groups.

Most of the injuries result from falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during informal sports activities.

Sports and recreational activities contribute to nearly 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries in children in the United States.

Here are some tips to help kids play safe:

• Wear appropriate safety gear and equipment and know how to use it properly.

• Warm up before playing and cool down when finished. Jumping jacks or jogging slowly are great exercises.

• Know and play by the rules of the chosen sport.

• Don’t play if you feel sick, hurt or too tired.

• Wear sunscreen and a hat to prevent sunburn.

• Drink lots of water before, during and after you play.

• Tell your coach or a trusted adult if you get hurt while playing.


Here are some things that parents can do to prevent injuries.

• Be sure that the playing environment is safe for children.

• The sport should be properly practiced with children of similar size and skill level.

• Make sure children have the appropriate safety gear and are properly conditioned for the activity.

• Always supervise children when they play.

• Make sure children stay properly hydrated while playing sports. You can for a chart on fluid intake recommendations.


For more information about sports safety and other programs offered through St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocacy Center please call (813) 615-0589.


Posted on: September 9th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Many parents are trying to remove pesticides from their households, but avoiding pesticides all together can be very challenging. Many people don’t know exactly how to do it and where to start. Parenting expert Angela Ardolino has some helpful tips on how to rid our lives of these harmful substances and live a healthier lifestyle.

1. Just Say NO!
a. Pesticides contain harsh chemicals that are toxic for you and your children. Avoid bug and rodent problems through good sanitation and proper food storage rather than with harsh chemical sprays like Raid.

2. Preventative Measures
a. Create a place near your homes entryway where people can remove and store shoes. Otherwise, take off shoes near the door and carry them inside to prevent tracking pesticides through the house.
b. Pesticides used to kill bug son crops can be extremely harmful when consumed. Wash all fruits and veggies before eating them or cooking with them. Use clean water and a non-toxic biodegradable soap.
c. If possible, grow your own fruits and vegetables in order to avoid harsh, chemically treated produce.

3. No Chemicals Necessary
a. If you have problems with ants or other bugs follow their trails and see how they’re getting inside. Once you discover their point of entry make sure to seal it off. This way you can deal with the problem without bringing in toxins.

4. Home Remedies
a. Fight weeds by spraying white wine vinegar on them rather than harsh weed killer than can be dangerous for your pets and children. Keep them away by incorporating mulch in your landscaping.
b. Put down cayenne pepper or paprika to combat an ant problem.
c. Rub fresh basil on your skin to repel mosquitos outside.

Angela’s Teachable Moment: When you begin to grow your own garden and the pests take over, work as a family to find ways to combat it without using harsh chemicals. When you go to the grocery store explain to your kids the importance of buying organic.


Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the tenth anniversary of September 11th. You may have noticed all of the recent 9/11 documentaries that have been featured on many cable networks but with all of media coverage, it may seems nearly impossible to keep the images of that horrific day from them. So what should you do if your young child stumbles across footage or photos of that fateful day?

Here are some tips to reassure your children when they’re exposed to frightening news about war or terrorism.

Listen to your child and acknowledge their feelings

  • ·       Anxiety and worry is the most common emotional response to frightening events or news.  Your children feel value when you listen to what they have to say or how they feel.  Don’t wait for them to come to approach you, instead you start the conversation.  Ask them what they understand about 9/11 and how they feel about it.  Be sure to share your feelings as your kids look to you for your reactions and know that they are not alone.
  • ·       Answer their questions truthfully in a calm and clear manner. Make sure to make your answers age appropriate and spare them the gory details.
  • ·       Encourage them to talk openly about what scares them. Many kids have the facts wrong or may think they are unsafe.

Watching the media coverage

  • ·       Don’t let them watch the news alone.  Watch the news with your kids to filter inappropriate or frightening stories.  Young children do not understand the news so it may be difficult to comprehend what they are watching.
  • ·       Discuss current events with your child regularly. It’s important to help kids think through stories they hear about. Ask questions: What do you think about these events? How do you think these things happen? These questions can encourage conversation about non-news topics too.
  • ·       Make sure they understand the difference between fact and fantasy.  Put news stories in proper context. Showing that certain events are isolated or explaining how one event relates to another helps kids make better sense of what they hear.

Do something positive – help them maintain a sense of control

  • ·       Talk about what you can do to help. In the case of a news event like a 9/11, kids may gain a sense of control and feel more secure if you find ways to help those who have been affected.
  • ·       Broaden the discussion from a disturbing news item to a larger conversation: Use the story of 9/11 as an opportunity to talk about philanthropy, cooperation, and the ability of people to cope with overwhelming hardship.
  • ·       Be sure to share what is being done to keep them safe and who to thank for keeping us safe.


Video for kids to watch about 911:


Posted on: September 7th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Like many responsibilities of parenting, getting your children to eat right is easier said than done.

If you pack a lunch for them to take to school, do you include only healthy foods, or do you put in a treat or two, knowing they’ll at least eat something?

Krayl Funch, health and wellness expert with Tampa Bay Parenting magazine, and Nagi Kumar, the director of nutrition research for Moffitt Cancer Center weighed in on this topic on Good Day Tampa Bay, by giving excellent advice to all.

Steps to transform the big debate into an educational and beneficial experience:


• Make the trip to the store or farmers market a family outing so kids can see where food really comes from.

• Have your kids work with you to pack lunches the night before. This gives them more control over what goes in and you can’t hear complaints later.

• Talk to them about which new items they liked or didn’t like and what healthy options you might replace them with next time.

• Discuss why you are making these choices and how they will Affect their energy, health and focus during the school day.


• Include at least three food groups in each mean and vary the texture, color and flavors of each item.

• Focus on selecting whole grains, lean proteins, and fruits in vegetables which will provide more nutrients and energy to get them through the day.


• Choose whole grain bread, pitas or wraps instead of white bread.

• Non-Cured Organic Turkey sausage instead of hotdogs.

• Almond Butter and Honey with sliced apples instead of PB&J.

• Homemade Egg salad or Hummus it filling and low in fat and chemicals.

• Replace chips with crunchy vegetables or edamame.

• If your kids “need” to have something bubbly, replace high sugar sodas with flavored sparkling water.


• While on your shopping trips have your kids pick one new fruit or vegetable. Bring them home and taste in different recipes to see what works for them.

• Exposure to new and different flavors younger in life will allow them to be open to trying food from different places and in turn open them to different cultures.


• Many lunch bags are oversized and allow for them to be stuffed with extra calories. Select bags or plates that are smaller and have different sections to teach portion control.



HintFIZZ –

Lucy’s Cookies –

Bobble Lunch Bag – 

Justin’s Almond Butter – 

Naked Juice and Smoothies – 

Just Strawberries and Bananas –

Organic Non-Cured Hotdogs –

Kinder-ville Divided Plates –

Nailing Down a Back to School Routine

Posted on: September 6th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Children in the Tampa Bay area have been back in school for almost a week now and that means an entire new household routine.

Some may be struggling to get the kids on a schedule, Dr. Peter Gorski, of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County offers these tips:

1. Expect your child to behave and/or feel different after school for the first days or weeks of the term.

Kids work hard to adapt to the social and learning demands of school.  They work even harder the first few weeks until people, places and schedules grow to feel predictable. It’s wise to allow children a period of time right after school to let down, relax, unwind and play before asking them to do anything constructive or structured like homework, dinner or chores.

2. Watch for signs that may indicate they are feeling more than the typical distress in making the transition to school. Unusual and persistent irritability and changes in appetite, energy or mood might suggest that your child is worn out or overwhelmed and miserably unhappy. If so, ask your child and the teacher. Once you identify the source, you will be able to figure out ways to improve the situation.

3. A week or two before school starts, walk or ride with your child to the school building and get to know the place and its neighborhood. This helps your child feel familiar by the time school starts.

4. With a young child, pretend play the classroom. Take turns being the teacher and the student. Talk about who else will be in the class, play cooperative games and role-play a story time.

5. With children of any age, tell them stories about your first weeks of school – the excitement and the nervousness you felt. Who helped you? What was great? How was that grade different from the previous ones? Ask them what they are anticipating from this school year?

6. Talk about all the terrific things to look forward to in school and how this means that your child is growing so big and smart! Write a note to the teacher, telling about yourself, your summer, what you like to do, etc.

7. Ask your child if she wants to bring a special object to school in her backpack – perhaps a stuffed animal, a charm, a bracelet, a baseball card, a photo, or some other age-appropriate version of a security blanket. Plan together what your child will wear the first few days.

8. Check to be sure your child’s immunizations are up to date and he has had a yearly examination his doctor. Starting off with a clean bill of health or a clear approach to managing chronic health challenges goes a long way toward helping your child start school with all engines firing. Most importantly, your child should have a regular physician and a secure health insurance policy. Through the Florida KidCare program, the Florida Department of Health offers free or low-cost health insurance to children younger than 19 who do not have private insurance. Contact the KidCare office at 888-540-5437 or visit to learn more.

9. Parents, get yourselves ready – physically and emotionally. Your child will need your enthusiasm, guidance and comforting during this period of change, so make sure you have the support you need and have made arrangements that will help you be as available as you want to be.

For more information you can visit and