The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: December 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safe Outdoor Winter Fun

This article comes from my friends at  Lots of good advice!

With rising childhood obesity rates and the increasing illnesses that accompany a sedentary lifestyle, it’s no secret that kids should be encouraged to get outside and engage in active play. As the lower temperatures approach, so does cold and flu season, which can be greatly exacerbated when kids are held indoors where germs can easily be spread through respiratory droplets and exhalations. Keeping kids safe while they’re out in the cold, however, is an absolute necessity. The following guidelines can help you ensure that your kids’ activity levels don’t suffer at the onset of winter and that they stay safe until the spring thaw rolls around.
  1. Use Sunscreen – Protecting kids’ skin from the damaging rays of the sun is a major priority for most parents and caregivers during the summer months, but one that often falls to the wayside when temperatures cool down. In fact, the reflection of the sun off of snow and ice can be almost as damaging as direct exposure. Make sure that your youngsters are slathered with sunscreen before they hit the outdoors.
  2. Waterproof Clothing is Key – Keeping kids warm during the winter chill relies heavily upon your ability to keep them dry. Melting ice and snow can leave most fabrics wet, soggy and very cold. Make sure that you invest in some waterproof or water-resistant clothing and shoes, especially proper boots.
  3. Know the Signs of Frostbite – Frostbite occurs when your child’s skin or extremities are literally frozen. The nose, ears, fingers, cheeks and toes are most commonly affected, and it can be quite dangerous when these extremities suffer from frostbite. Signs of superficial frostbite include itching, numbness, tingling or burning sensations. The affected skin may become white, flushed, yellow or blue and appear frozen, and will be cold to the touch.
  4. Dress for Success – Just because your kids are bundled against the cold doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wearing safe clothing. Hoods and hats don’t take the place of helmets for activities like biking or skating, while tight clothing that restricts movement can present a danger as it inhibits kids’ ability to move and balance properly. Be sure that your brood is dressed appropriately for outdoor play, not just for cold temperatures.
  5. Insist on Warm-Up Breaks – When kids are enjoying themselves and are particularly absorbed in an activity, it’s easy for them to lose track of time. That’s why it’s important for you to insist on periodic warm-up breaks to check for signs of hypothermia or frostbite and ensure that they don’t get too cold.
  6. Keep Ice Skating Safe – Ice skating is a beloved, time-honored cold-weather outdoor activity. It can also be quite dangerous, though. Public areas designated for ice skating are far safer than ponds or bodies of water on your own property, which may not be thoroughly frozen and could crack under kids’ weight. Be sure that any ice your children are going to skate on is frozen solid, and that they’re wearing the right protective gear.
  7. Smart Sledding – Racing down a snow-covered hill on a sled is one of life’s great thrills, even for adults. Kids love sledding, but it’s important that they understand the basic safety rules before setting out. Sledding down hills that terminate near a road, down paths that have obstacles like jumps, rocks or bumps, or down icy slopes are all sledding safety no-nos. Kids should also never be pulled on sleds behind moving vehicles of any kind.
  8. Don’t Forget About Dehydration – Dehydration isn’t a concern reserved solely for warm-weather months. While your children are enjoying a session of outdoor play, be sure that they’re taking in plenty of fluids.
  9. Scarf Safety – Scarves are useful tools for protecting against the cold, as they can be wrapped around almost any part of the body that feels cold. However, they can also become ensnared in moving parts of toys or overhanging branches, closed in doors, or otherwise tangled in a manner that presents a strangulation risk. It’s better to opt for cowl-style scarves until kids are a bit older and less rambunctious.
  10. Double-Check Equipment – Making sure that any equipment for outdoor play, whether new or old, is in good condition, fits properly and is otherwise suitable for use before sending kids outside with it. Damaged or broken equipment can very easily cause injuries, especially if kids are using them improperly to compensate for the damage.
While outdoor play is important and can help to stave off cold-weather ailments, like the flu or the common cold, it’s important to understand that there are times when it’s simply too cold for your brood to safely be outside. Extreme temperatures can be very dangerous, causing a child’s body to lose heat faster than it can be generated. The end result is hypothermia, which can be life-threatening.

Happy parenting!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Portrait of Pushpa Basnet

Pushpa Basnet of Nepal has been named the 2012 Hero of the Year.  Why?  Because she recognized a need in Nepal and strives to right the wrong against children.  When adults are incarcerated in Nepal, their children are also incarcerated with them if they have no other family member available for the care of the irchildren.  Say what?  I’ll be the first person to say that children need to be with their parents, but not in a prison!  Basnet started a home in Kathmandu where those children can receive food, education, medical care, and a caring environment while their parents serve their sentences.  Sometimes those parents will be there well into their children’s adulthood. 
"It's not fair for (these) children to live in the prison because they haven't done anything wrong," said Basnet in a CNN interview with Kathleen Toner. "My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls. I had a very fortunate life, with a good education. I should give it to somebody else."
Basnet’s journey to this endeavor began when she was 21 as an undergraduate majoring in social work.  For one of her assignments, she had to visit the women imprisoned in Kathmandu.  The living conditions of the children there appalled her.  They were dirty, hungry, and uneducated.  So, with the help of friends and family, she raised 70,000 rupees (about $885).  In a poor, underdeveloped country, that was quite an accomplishment. (According to UNICEF, 55% of the population lives below the international poverty line.)  In 2005, she used that money to start her nonprofit organization – The Early Childhood Development Center.  This center provided day care to preschool children.  The children returned to their mothers at night.
Two years later, she realized the need for a residential home.  There, the children live in a house without bars called Butterfly Home. All the children are there with their parents’ consent.  They are allowed to grow, mature, and learn in a more natural environment.  The children visit their mothers on school holidays.  Basnet has helped more than 100 children of incarcerated parents. She has expanded her efforts to find alternative residences for some children while helping with school enrollment, free meals, and medical care for others. 
Seeing the need to rehabilitate the parents of these children, she began Change Fusion Nepal.  This organization teaches the inmates to make handicrafts inside their cells.  Basnet sells these handicrafts so when the women are released, they will have a sustainable livelihood for themselves and their children.  Sixty of the children she has helped have been successfully reunited with their parents after they were released from prison.
Pushpa Basnet is only twenty-eight-years old, but she is making a huge difference in the lives of Nepali women and children. Without Basnet, the children of incarcerated parents would have been destined for a life similar to their parents – theft, drugs, and prostitution. Now the children are receiving an education and the parents have legally marketable skills. Because Basnet has been honored as the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year, she has received $250,000 to continue her work. That is in addition to the $50,000 that each of the top 10 Heroes are receiving.
Want to get involved with Basnet’s work? Check out the Early Childhood Development Center website at and see how to help.
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