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Archive for October, 2011


Posted on: October 27th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Many families don’t know that attending school is not a legal requirement in the United States. Although your kids may jump for joy if you were to tell them that, they should know that it is legally required for them to be educated.

Kids can receive a traditional education by attending a public or private institution.  Some families choose a different education platform like online schools or homeschooling. Over the last decade, the number of students being educated through nontraditional outlets has skyrocketed. There are now more than 1.5 million students in the United States that are homeschooled and the number continues to grow. But why?

There are plenty of reasons parents decide to home school their kids. The most popular reason is concerns over the school environment. Other reasons parents may choose to home school their children are:


  • A desire to provide religious or moral instruction
  • A dissatisfaction with academic regulations imposed by the Department of Education or individual private institutions
  • Nontraditional approach to children’s education – or “unschoolers” who consider typical curriculums and standardized testing as counterproductive to quality education
  • Increasing family time, lowering financial burdens and travel expenses
  • Child has special needs (other than physical or mental health problems) that schools cannot or will not meet
  • Child has a physical or mental health problem


Like any other education decision, there are pros and cons to a parent making the choice to home school their kid. Some things to consider:

Advantages of Home Schooling:


  • One on one attention, allowing them to take their time in subjects they don’t understand without being left behind, as well as excel in subjects they enjoy.
  • Get out in the community more. They may get to experience hands-on education at community resources. They also might volunteer or participate in “service learning” where they take on local projects.
  • Learn in the comfort of their home. Parents have the advantage to rid of any distractions as well as control their child’s surroundings.
  • Flexible schedule.


Disadvantages of Home Schooling:


  • Laws and requirements vary across the United States, and it’s up to home schoolers to comply with local regulations. Learning about and following local regulations can be a lot of additional work for the parent.
  • As homeschooled kids become teens and old enough to guide their learning, they may be left more on their own to find resources and do their own research. At the time this may be difficult, but this independence will pay off in college.
  • Time commitment is a huge factor.  Without careful planning the parent teacher may never have time to herself.  Planning time for homework, housework, field trips, lessons must be scheduled to avoid chaos.
  • The lack of convenience to some school facilities, such as a gymnasium, science lab, or art studio.


If parents choose to home school their child, they need to go above and beyond in getting their child socialized and involved outside of the house.  Parents who choose to have their kids learn from home can still get their kids socialized by joining home schooling groups, public school extracurricular activities and sharing lesson times to name a few.

There is no right or wrong answer for choosing the type of setting a child should be educated in. Many factors will play into the decision, and it’s a parent’s job to make the best decision for their child’s future. Meeting with families who have chosen a nontraditional education route can be a great way for you and your child to learn more about the options.




Posted on: October 20th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

A child’s imagination is an extraordinary thing. It can create worlds we cannot visit, friends we cannot see and ideas we can barely fathom. There is no measurement to the extent a child can grow this magical ability, and as a parent we need to embrace this limitless wonder. Some of your child’s best creations will be the product of their imagination, whether it is as bewildering as banana chicken soup, or as stunning as a hand painted mural. With such a powerful tool for a child, it is important for parents to encourage the growth and not dilute it.

In the past year, studies have shown that creativity has decreased among American children. Since 1990 children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas resulting in less humor, imagination and ability to elaborate on ideas. The good part about these conclusions is it is easy to nurture an imagination. Some quick fixes parents can take to ensure that their children are using and expanding their imagination are:

  • Make time to pretend. Pretend play lets kids try out new roles for themselves (like superheroes, princesses, wild animals, or even parents) and allows for creative problem solving. But it also helps them deal with another hurdle of the preschool years: intense emotions.
  • Turn off the video games and TV. These are two mediums that create fantasy worlds for them, and typically do not stimulate kids to do so themselves. Instead, have them create their own entertainment, whether it’s directing their own play or illustrating their own storybook. Also with the growth of technology, it is always nice to bring out old toys like blocks and dolls and see what they do when they are in charge of their own entertainment.
  • Slow down. Nowadays, kids have a packed schedule, allowing no time to actually “play”. Giving them time to just have fun will give them the opportunity to use their imagination to play house, super heroes or even princesses.

Just like most stages in a child’s life, the imagination stage will fade and parents will be left with a pile of costumes and a memory of laughter. This bittersweet moment is known as “the age of reason”, meaning the child is now at a higher-level of thinking and has realized that the way they thought the world worked is now not necessarily how it actually does work.

The age of reason is when parents will see their kids start to decipher what is right from wrong, the battle of finding their conscious and the realization that their fantasy worlds and friends were never there to begin with. Luckily for parents, the fun does not end with the start of the age of reason. Parents will start to see the product of their child’s imagination translate into their future through:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Creative writing
  • Help with critical thinking

So when the capes come off and the wands stop working, parents should not discourage the creativity they have been enveloped with the past few years. Instead, they now know their child’s capability and should encourage them to dabble in art, music, creative writing and critical thinking situations to find their true passion.



Posted on: October 13th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

The first years of a child’s life is equally exciting and frightening for parents. It is amazing to see the miracle of human growth and development, but frustrating when parents are unable to see progress in a normal timeline. It’s difficult for a parent to know exactly when your kid should walk, be potty trained and even talk. Parents should remember that all kids grow and excel at different speeds.

Surely a sense of relief comes with the development of a child’s speech and language, giving them the ability to communicate any issue with their parents. So, when something as important as speech and language skills do not develop, or progress very slowly, what is a parent to do?

First parents need to understand that speech and language are two separate abilities.

  • Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes articulation (the way sounds and words are formed).
  • Language is much broader and refers to the entire system of expressing and receiving information in a way that’s meaningful. It’s understanding and being understood through communication — verbal, nonverbal and written.

What are the signs of a speech delay?

Speech delay occurs in up to 10 percent of children. An infant that isn’t responding to sound or isn’t vocalizing is of particular concern. Between 12 and 24 months, reasons for concern include a child who:

  • Isn’t using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye by 12 months
  • Prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate by 18 months
  • Has trouble imitating sounds by 18 months
  • Has difficulty understanding simple verbal requests

Parents should seek an evaluation if a child over two years old:

  • Can only imitate speech or actions and doesn’t produce words or phrases spontaneously
  • Says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can’t use oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs
  • Can’t follow simple directions
  • Has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding)
  • Is more difficult to understand than expected for their age. Parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child’s speech at two years and about three quarters at three years. By four years old, even people who don’t know the child should mostly be able to understand what they are saying.

The causes of delay of speech vary from child to child. There are numerous reasons, some of the more common reasons are:

  • Mental retardation
  • Hearing loss
  • Maturation delay
  • Expressive language disorder
  • Bilingualism
  • Psychosocial deprivation
  • Autism
  • Elective mutism
  • Receptive aphasia
  • Cerebral palsy


Things You Can Do to Improve Speech Delay

  • Just because your child may show signs of speech delay, or may be affected by one of the genetic causes, do not throw in the towel on helping them progress. There are very simple steps a parent can take to help develop their child’s speech and language skills. By using some of the following tips, the chances of your child catching up to the rest of the kids their age are much greater.
  • Take time to communicate with your child. We tend to lose, or lack an ability when we do not use it often. Engaging with your child from day one, will teach them all the fundamentals of communication while make it second nature.
  • Read! Reading is never outdated. It is a great way for people of all ages to develop and maintain a strong sense of language. Start reading age appropriate books at six months, and encourage them to imitate motions and sounds in order to create motor skills. As they get older, parents should progress to teaching them to recognize words and eventually read.
  • Guide them into learning. When they are younger, fortify their communication by guiding them through conversations. Set up conversations with questions about the day, explain things you are doing, ask and acknowledge their responses. It may be difficult, but try to refrain from using baby talk.

Naturally, when there is an issue, mental or physical, early acknowledgement and treatment is the best action a parent can take.





Posted on: October 5th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

What is a nightmare? Merrian-Webster’s Dictionary describes nightmares as “a frightening dream that usually awakens the sleeper”. When adults have nightmares they generally wake abruptly and return back to sleep soon thereafter. But when kids have nightmares, it turns into an all night affair that includes mom and dad. Finding the causes and addressing them with your child can help the family sleep through the entire night.

What Causes Nightmares?

 As adults, we have nightmares just as easily as kids, but the difference is, when we wake up we know the difference between reality and the nightmare. That simple distinction is not as easy for kids to decipher. Luckily there are always reasons why kids, much like adults, have nightmare. Figuring out the causes can help you get to the bottom of these issues.  Here are some possible triggers.


  • – Daily Stress (school work, homework, friendships)
  • – Illness
  • – Traumatic Family Change/Issues
  • – Watching, Reading or Hearing Something Frightening.


External Factors Causing Fear

Sometimes a child’s fear can be an external, instead of internal. These fear are easier to diminish due to it usually just takes a simple quick change in the room or lifestyle for a child to sleep peacefully again. Some changes parents can make are:


  • – If shadows are scaring your child, put up curtains that will block any shadows from dancing around their room
  • – If the darkness of the night scares them, add a nightlight to their room
  • – If they watch shows that provokes frightening ideas or images, avoid letting them watch the show


Find the Seed That the Boogeyman Stemmed From

Whether it was stories from their friends, a scene from a movie or even a book they read, the idea of the Boogeyman has haunted school-aged children since time began. If your child is finding that they are afraid at night, sit down with them and figure out what caused this fear. Maybe mom or dad made a joke about it, or pretended there was a scary monster in the closet. Remember that even the smallest mention of it can have some big and frightful consequences. The most important point to make is that the Boogeyman is NOT real.

Soothing Methods

If your child is frightened in the middle of the night, use one or a few of these methods to put them back to sleep:


  • – Do not show anger, although this may be difficult, it will only make them more upset
  • – Singing to them or reading to them will calm them down.
  • – Play soothing music


Majority of parents will experience this situation with their kids, and the biggest step they can take it to acknowledge this problem. Do not ignore it and brush them off when they come to you in the middle of the night. Be sure to talk through this with your kids and find a solution to the Boogeyman and his scary ways!