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Archive for June, 2015


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Expectant parents spend a lot of time preparing for the arrival of their baby. By the time they bring their little one home, they’ve taken classes, read a hundreds of books, and bought enough onesies to fill an entire dresser.  But even with all the preparation, the reality of caring for a baby can be overwhelming.
When your household grows from two to three, your relationship with your partner is bound to change. Here are some ways to get a handle on what to expect:

At first, your newborn may only sleep for a few hours at a time, and when they are up a parent is up, resulting in sleep deprivation which can make you irritable and turn tasks like household chores and errands into ordeals because you have less energy and can’t concentrate. You’ll also have less time for work, for yourself, and for your partner. Creating a schedule that works with both parents schedule is a must.  Schedule naps if you need to so that you can keep from becoming sleep deprived.  Trade babysitting with friends and neighbors to allow time to catch up on tasks or sleep.

Being a new parent is wonderful, but at times it can be really difficult and stressful, too. This can generate feelings of guilt for a mom or dad who isn’t enjoying every second of being a new parent. But it’s important to remember that it’s OK to want and to take a break from the baby when you need it.  Weekly dates without the baby will help you and your partner stay connected.

A baby can also stir up surprising feelings of jealousy. Sometimes new dads get jealous because the baby takes up so much of mom’s time. Dad may feel like a third wheel, or maybe he’s jealous that he doesn’t get to spend as much time with the baby or do as much of the parenting. These feelings are completely normal when the structure of a family changes so drastically.  Communication and understanding are so important when emotions run high.

Even without all the outside parenting advice, you and your partner may realize you have different approaches to parenting one of you might be more inclined to pick up the baby whenever he or she cries while the other lets your little one cry for a while, for instance. And trouble spots in a relationship, such as who does more work around the house, can get worse if new parents don’t sit down and talk about what’s bothering them.  Establish house rules and boundaries ahead of time to prevent disagreements later.

Take care:
Moms have their own challenges to confront. Pregnancy temporarily robs them of the bodies they’re used to; a couple of extra pounds and dark circles under the eyes from late-night feedings can make a woman feel self-conscious and less attractive to her partner. Some moms also find it difficult to reconcile the image of a mother with that of a sexual woman, so they may be less interested in intimacy.  Take time to take care of you.  If mom isn’t happy and healthy it’s hard for the family to be happy and healthy.

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Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

If you are a parent over 30, chances are as a youngster you spent your summers riding bike freely, stretching your independence with little fear or constraints from your parents. Now, with the advent of the Internet and being connected anywhere, most kids are yearning to spend more time indoors playing with video games, on the computer or texting. Although it’s what they want, it may not be what’s best for them. The big issue is that as social beings, children desperately need to practice communicating face to face. Without that opportunity, their social development is stunted, which may have implications academically and professionally as they become adults.

Regardless of this generational gap, your kids can still learn to disconnect from technology and enjoy time with each other and in the great outdoors.

Unplug yourself.
Kids learn more from what you do than what you say. So while you’re on vacation, out at dinner or just hanging by the pool this summer disconnect from your phone, iPad and enjoy your time around the kids.

Plan Ahead
If your family is traveling this summer, plan offline activities that relate to where you’re going. This will help avoid lost time watching T.V. in the hotel. Whether it’s down the street or around the world, there are always unplugged activities. If you’re having difficulty find good activities and tours while on vacation, contact local visitors bureaus.

Get Outdoors
Devote 30 minutes every day to getting outside with the kids this summer. You can do anything you want from creating an outdoor fort to flying a kite to making a paint can banjo. For some great outdoor activities read Imagine Childhood by Sarah Olmstead.

Be flexible.
So no one feels completely out of touch, once a week plan something media-related that you can all do together. Have a family movie night, play Wii or schedule a time when everyone can check email or text a friend. (Set a timer!)

No matter what you decide to do together, time spent unplugged from technology and plugged into family will be beneficial for everyone.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

In the United States, practically every school has computers access available for students. With this in mind, more and more schools are integrating online and computer-based courses into middle and high school curriculum. Making it a requirement for graduation. Like new teaching methods, online learning brings America’s students into the forefront of learning but presents some challenges as well.

Whether parents agree with the shift in education, computer-based classes are here to stay. There are a number of reasons why you may want to engage your kids in online learning. Here are just a few.

Learning online is important.

Learning how to learn online will be increasingly important for students of every age. Whether it’s in video chat, editing, or other areas, online courses push students toward effective communication through tech. And this will only help once they step into the workforce later in life. The future will likely hold many online options for continuing education and job training in most every field.

Learning on their terms.

The most cited benefit of online learning is the convenience and flexibility it allows for. Online courses rarely require students to do specific things at specific times. Rather, students have the power to do work when its right for them and fits into their schedule. They’re a good choice for home schoolers and for students who are pursuing any activity at a level that requires significant commitment, like athletics and performing arts. No matter if your student is looking to get ahead, get caught up or earn extra credit, online learning is also available year-round, even during summer break. Like choosing a public school, many websites offer partnerships with local providers for FREE classes that earn students full credit.

Learning at their own speed.

Online courses are generally much more adaptable to the skills and needs of the individual rather than following the pace of a majority of students. In these classes, the pace of learning is set solely by the student. The type of playback features and the ability to return to concepts for review at their own pace also help make online courses more user-friendly for some types of learners.

Although benefits are to be had, the virtual classroom is not perfect. It tends to reward students who are strong readers and independent while neglecting students who require face-to-face interaction and guidance.

Online learning is here to stay.  And there are many reasons why it should.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

After a long summer, your family is heading back into the school schedule. For many families, that means preparing to send younger kids off to school for the first time, which can be cause for some anxiety for parents and child. From deciding whether a half or full day program is best to what kind of curriculum you want your child engaging in, there are many options to consider when finding the best preschool.

Deciding What Schools

There are a number of factors you’All want to consider when starting your preschool search. Location is usually a big deciding factor, especially for parents that work. You’All want to make sure that if your child is sick, picking them up from school is convenient for at least one parent or caregiver.

Accreditation shows that a particular school has met specific guidelines established by nationally recognized organizations like the Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment and National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. In 1996, the Florida Legislature created the Gold Seal Quality Care program that acknowledges childcare facilities that are accredited to standards that reflect a quality level of care and supervision for children attending the program.

Curriculum is pivotal when it comes to choosing the right school for your preschooler. Whether you’re interested in a Montessori, Reggio Emilia or High Scope program it’s important that your child be interacted with in a way that is appropriate for them. Make sure to discuss with each center director the type of curriculum that is used and why they feel it’s the best approach for your child.

Local Resources are a great way to get different perspectives on early childhood learning programs. Tampa Bay Parenting and the Early Learning Coalition offer print and online tools to help you find the best providers of early education in your neighborhood.

Meet the Teachers

One of the most significant elements of early childhood learning is the teachers. This is because learning occurs through human interactions. The best early childhood teachers are those who know how to play and find joy in the process. You’All often find these teachers sitting on the floor with the children, interacting with them in their creative play. These teachers understand how to communicate, listen for understanding, challenge students, provide feedback, observe important developmental milestones and report to parents. The best teachers are those who are genuinely interested in their students. They are the ones who are best equipped to provide the necessary instructional and emotional support that create excellence.

Do Your Research

Once you’ave honed in on your chosen school, visit the Florida Department of Children & Families’ website where you can search education providers by county and review reports on the schools site visits, accreditations, complaints and annual county renewals. If something in a report doesn’t’t seem right, don’t be afraid to bring it to the attention of the school director. Ask how the problem has been rectified and confirm that policies have been put in place to avoid repeat mistakes.

Finding the perfect preschool for your child won’t be the easiest process but remember that choosing a great preschool will do much to put your child on a path for long-term school and life success.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Whether you’re on a powerboat, sailboat or canoe, spending time on the water can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the summer weather with family and friends. But with more than 750 deaths and close to 3,000 injuries each year from recreational boating accidents, it’s important to remember that it also can be a dangerous activity.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating fatalities jumped 12.8 percent in 2011 and are now at the highest level since 1998. Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were reported as not wearing a life jacket. Before you plan your fun on the water, here are some simple steps to help you enjoy the last weeks of summer on the boat.

Grab the Floatation Devices:
Make sure everyone always wears a life jacket. Life jackets should fit snugly and keep the child’s head above water. Each person operating, riding on, or being towed behind a personal watercraft must wear an approved non-inflatable Type I, II, III or V personal flotation device. Inflatable personal flotation devices are prohibited for personal watercraft use. Make sure the life jacket is appropriate for the child’s size and weight and is properly fastened. Quick Tip – Put the life jacket on the child and have the child make a “touchdown” signal with arms raised. If the neck opening of the life jacket comes over the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.

Keep an Eye Out:
Always supervise children when they are in the water. Whether you stop at a sandbar or in open water, make sure the boat’s engines are completely shut off before allowing swimmers around the boat. Try designating a “water watcher”, a responsible adult who is in charge of watching children while they are in the water. This adult should not be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others.

Operating a Watercraft:
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website, no one under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft. It also states than anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 must complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators approved course before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 horse power or more in Florida. More information about a in-person or online classes can be found on theFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website .

Living in Tampa Bay gives families the opportunity to enjoy the lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Before you head out remember that safety is paramount and a few extra safety steps can go a long way.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Parents, soon you will be rushing to buy clothes and school supplies. Then there’s your child’s annual school physical to consider.  Is it really all that important?  Your child has been running around all summer and, judging by his appetite and outgrown clothes, seems very healthy.

The short answer is yes! The annual physical is a great opportunity to take a comprehensive look at your child’s health.

Why is taking an annual physical so important for kids?

Your child’s primary care physician provides continuity with records of growth, immunizations, medical history and ongoing care.  This is indispensable in providing a comprehensive assessment of your child and is impossible to duplicate. For example, a child or adolescent’s growth is measured along a standardized growth curve and most follow a pattern that their doctor can immediately analyze based on prior measurements.  A new trend in growth alerts your child’s doctor to ask questions regarding nutrition, exercise and other symptoms that might be related to an underlying medical condition.

Annual physicals are also the ideal time for your child to get caught up on any required vaccination or inoculations.

How to prepare for your child’s physical?

Arranging your child’s back-to-school physical is only half the process. Coming in ready to discuss their health and development is just as important as showing up.

Before you arrive, write down any questions that you or your child may have regarding your child’s health and progress. If your child was sick in the past year, you may want to start by discussing how they recovered or any persisting symptoms.

Some questions to consider include:

–    Is my child’s weight within a normal, healthy range?
–    What is my child’s BMI?
–    What vaccinations (if any) does my child need? Why? Is it required?

Remember, there are no bad questions to ask your child’s doctor.

What extra steps should my doctor take to ensure my child is safe to play sports?

Your child may also decide to engage in sports acitivites this year. Dr. Daniel Plascenia of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hopsital says “During a sports physical, the doctor also will address current injuries, cardiac issues, history of concussion and asthma. Ideally sports physical should be done at least six weeks before the start of the activity.”

Make sure to speak with their pediatrician about what sports they plan to play and any safety precautions to take. Ask the pediatrician if they can recommend any sports equipment that will help keep them safe.

Don’t forget that your child’s annual physical is a good time for you to discuss mental health as well as physical. Paralleling their physical growth, children, especially adolescents, undergo changes in how they interact with the world around them.  By assessing the emotional health and coping skills in conversations with the child as well as the parent, issues can be addressed quickly.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Start early:

It is never too soon to begin investing in your child’s future. With time on your side, you can be more certain that you will be able to save enough money to get your child through school. Plus, if you get a plan with a decent interest rate, the longer you spend saving, the more interest you will be able to accrue.

Set Goals:

Determine a monthly amount that you will be willing to contribute to the savings account. Perhaps, you and your spouse can each contribute half of an agreed upon amount. Reevaluate the amount you contribute as you begin to earn more money or get bonuses at work. Have automatic payments set up. If you don’t have to remember to make the payments, your plan will be much more successful.

Get the whole family involved:

Rather than having family members buy them expensive gifts for birthdays and holidays, have them make a deposit into the college savings account. When your child begins to work have them deposit paychecks in to the account. If you don’t want to force them to contribute their entire paycheck, have them agree on a monthly payment amount that you are both comfortable with.

Academic preparation:

Students can begin taking classes, such as AP and IB classes, that they can get college credit for. Have them look into taking more advanced classes that they can get credit for in college. The fewer classes they have to take, the less money you will have to spend.

Angela’s Teachable Moment: If they want to spend their money on something remind them that $50 towards clothes could be $50 towards college. Explain to them what interest rates mean and how they work so they gain an understanding of what $50 could become if invested. They will want to save for college and will gain financial understanding.

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Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

As kids across the Tampa area return to school, they’ll also head back to sitting at their desks for six or more hours a day. It’s critically important that parents find additional ways for their children to stay active and stimulated after school.

As Hillary Clinton said, “For millions of children, ‘Home Alone’ is not a funny movie, but rather the way they spend their time after school and during the summer. It is during these hours that our children face the greatest risk of violence and other threats, but it also is during these hours that they have the greatest chance to learn, grow and find the hero within.”

After school programs are designed to develop a talent or a skill that is usually neglected. These programs can be educational, recreational or both. Whatever type they are, they should aim to keep your child active, interested and have been proven to them exceed in academics.

Here are some things to consider when looking for a quality after school program.

A good program addresses the entire child: academic, social, physical and creative. Compared to unsupervised children, students who regularly attend quality after school programs tend to achieve higher scores on standardized testing, have improved school attendance and higher graduation rates and learn to respect other cultural backgrounds and develop better conflict resolution and social skills.

After school programs keep your child busy. Studies indicate that children who are kept busy through diverse, engrossing activities are less prone to abuse drugs and alcohols, depression and burnout. Significant increase in achievement, attendance and a reduction in drop out rates are additional advantages of a good after school program.

Staying Active After School.
Many children are put into recreational after school programs so that they stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Sports, tae kwon do and dance classes are a great way for kids to have fun and to stay active. By giving them ways to burn up their excess energy and explore their creativity, after school programs help to shape their physical and mental health.

Engaging Programs
A good after school program also widens your child’s area of interests and introduces them to new things, which will be interesting and sometimes challenging. Mastering a new art form or a new skill increases the child’s self-esteem. It also allows you to introduce your child to new career options.

Socialization is another great advantage of after school programs. Children get to meet others who share their interests and make new friends. An acting class or a soccer team can be lots of fun allowing the kids to effortlessly make new friends. Many programs, like these, coach children for performances or matches. Performing onstage or playing a match can be a great experience for a young child.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

The air we breathe is full allergens like dust, pollen, mold spores and pollutants. Most children are unaffected by these intruders, but for those with asthma and allergies, simple contaminants can make life miserable.

Asthma and allergies are the result of exposure to allergens that create inflammation in the nose and lungs. Both conditions often start in childhood and continue throughout life. Although allergies can trigger asthma and asthma is often associated with allergies, they are actually two very different things.

Here’s some information to help you understand asthma and allergies, their triggers and some solutions to ease the endless runny nose.

What’s the difference between allergies and asthma?
Season allergies occur when airborne irritants kick your immune system into high gear, triggering a release of histamines, a chemical messenger that causes sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat and watery eyes. It’s important to note that even though we say allergies are seasonal, they typically occur year-round.

Asthma causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed, making it hard to breathe. Symptoms of an asthma attack include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness or pain in the chest. While many different substances and circumstances can trigger an asthma attack, for the majority of asthma sufferers the cause is linked to exposure to a host of allergens.

What is triggering my kids’ allergies?
Outdoor exposure to pollution, pollen and damp or cool weather is often blamed for allergy or asthma problems, but note that indoor exposure to irritants is more important. With kids spending more time indoors, many irritants may be in your house and you may not know it.

Smoke – Tobacco smoke can trigger an asthma attack and aggravate allergies. “Kids with asthma and allergies should never be exposed to tobacco smoke in their home, in a car or wherever they spend a lot of time,” Dr. Prpich of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital suggests.

Chemicals – Cologne and perfume can trigger a problem. The same is true for strong household cleaning products and scented candles. If it has a powerful odor, it might be a trigger.

Pets – While cats cause a higher degree of problems for asthma and allergy sufferers, dogs can be the source of the trigger too. Be sure to keep pets off furniture, out of the child’s bedroom and regularly bathe animals. You may also want to consider getting a hypoallergenic pet to avoid irritants.

What treatment options should look into?
For asthma, one of the most important treatments for asthma is to control the underlying inflammation of the airways. This can be done with medications or by avoiding environmental factors that cause or aggravate airway inflammation. Dr. Prpich suggests that parents work with their child’s doctor on a written asthma action plan. It should include information on the child’s symptoms, medications, rescue inhaler or nebulizer treatments, physical activity limits and instructions on what to do and whom to call if medication doesn’t help an attack.

For seasonal allergies, saline nose drops or a nasal wash can help remove mucus from the nose or flush pollen or other irritants out of the nasal passages. Antihistamines work well for treating allergies in children, and are often recommended when symptoms occur less frequently and don’t last for long. Allergy shots or immunotherapy may be necessary if symptoms are severe and fail to respond to other treatments.

For both asthma and allergies, experts agree that the best treatment is to take steps to reduce your child’s exposure to well-known irritants.

For a list of ways to protect your kids from allergens at home, visit


Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Heading into October your kids have probably gotten in the routine of school and after school activities. But settling back into the school routine can be difficult for some kids, especially when it comes to homework. Whether your child is struggling with concentration, a certain subject or having general difficulty, applying homework tips to your after school routine could help shed some light on the best way to achieve homework success.


Time & Place

It’s important to keep in mind that each child is different when it comes to after school learning. After coming home from school, one child may like to dive right into homework while the other likes to take a short break for a little recreational time. It’s important to remember that each child is different so work with them to set up an after school schedule for getting home work done. Once homework time comes around make sure that you’ve designated a quiet, well-lighted area away from distractions. Make this area exciting and stock it well with supplies like papers, writing utensils, scissors, tape and a computer.


Work Together

Homework is designed to help strengthen concepts that were discussed earlier in the day at school. If questions arise during homework encourage your kids to work together and help each other out. This will not only help your child work through the questions that arise but will give your other children a sense of confidence knowing that they’ve helped their sibling. Of course, if a problem comes that up needs some mom or dad intervention and guidance, don’t be afraid to help them.


Be Involved

For the best homework results parents have to be involved in the day-to-day of home learning. As well as checking homework each night, make sure that you’re in constant contact with teachers. Communicating any academic roadblocks between parent and teacher will help spot trouble early on. Like all this with children, consistency is important to establish healthy homework habits early on. As time goes on, fine tune your after school routine to include snack time, play time and after school activities.