Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

After a summer of unstructured play time, getting back into the school routine can be rough for both kids and parents. However, with a little planning, you can cut down on the chaos and make it a smooth transition for both you and your child:

1. Get synced – Trying to track where everyone needs to be after-school can make you feel like an air-traffic controller. Two secrets for getting everyone synced up: Free calendar sharing apps and home automation technology. Calendar sharing makes it easier to share schedules and coordinate pick-ups with spouses, caregivers and friends – especially when it comes to last minute schedule changes. I also use my Cox Homelife home automation system to automatically receive a text when my girls come home from school, so if they miss the bus or don’t arrive home on time, I’ll know.

2. Make ahead meals – There’s nothing worse than walking in the door at 5 or 6 o’clock and trying to figure out what to make for dinner only to resort to take-out or pizza for the third night in a row. Trust me – the crock pot should be your new bestie during the school year. You can throw a bunch of ingredients into a freezer bag, thaw 24 hours prior to cooking, and then pop it into the crock pot before you go to work. You might even consider a new WiFi crockpot that you can control from your phone! Embracing smart home appliances will make your life easier!

3. Files and forms – Even though we’re in the digital age, kids still come home with dozens of papers and forms. A secret for success: Purchase a small file holder, get a different color file for each family member and have them put all paperwork in their file as soon as they walk in the door. Same goes for all those electronic documents that come in via email from school, sports and other extracurriculars – every family member should get their own e-folder on shared cloud storage or a shared drive.

4. Create a time management plan – While homework is supposed to be for the kids, inevitably parents get dragged in to help. All too often we find out about some craft items we need to buy the night before the project is due! A secret for preventing last-minute scrambles: Have your kids review all their assignments as soon as they come home. Determine due dates and what’s required from you that week– whether it’s reviewing a project, helping study for a test or purchasing items for a project – so you can both schedule accordingly and avoid last-minute chaos.

5. Get them involved – The mad dash in the morning to eat breakfast, pack the backpacks and locate a missing shoe will have everyone starting the day stressed out. But kids as young as six can be responsible for packing their snacks the night before. Older kids can not only pack their lunch but make breakfast in the morning. Insist that clothes be laid out, back packs packed and lunches made the night before – by your child, not by YOU! You can also make life a little easier by setting “rules” on your home automation system. With my Cox Homelife, I have the lights set to automatically turn off the second the door locks, making it one last task we need to remember before we leave the house.

More than 2,000 Educators Rally to Create Healthy Smiles for a Successful School Year

colgate picEvery year, students in the United States miss more than 51 million hours of school instruction due to dental-related illness.To empower young students to maintain a healthy smile and excel in the classroom, Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® has launched Smile for Picture Day™ – a new back-to-school campaign that uses the tradition of picture day to promote healthy brushing routines.

In partnership with Teach for America, a national non-profit dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for children facing the challenges of poverty, more than 2,000 educators from across the country will champion Smile for Picture Day™ in Kindergarten through grade 3 classrooms by sharing Colgate’s award winning Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® curriculum.  Additionally, Colgate’s fleet of mobile dental vans will travel to more than 150 elementary schools in September and October to provide Smile for Picture Day™ information and free dental screenings to children in need.

“Picture day is an iconic tradition that marks a new year of learning and special milestones. That moment should be captured with a healthy smile,” said Dr. Marsha Butler, Vice President of Global Oral Health and Professional Relations, a dentist who oversees the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® global program. “Poor oral health can significantly impact a child’s ability to eat, speak and learn. By showing children how to care for their smiles, we can help them to feel good about themselves and the school year ahead.”

“A bright smile reflects a child’s developing self-esteem and the promise of a healthy, successful school year,” said Whitney Petersmeyer, Senior Vice President of National Development at Teach for America. “Our teachers have seen first-hand the impact poor oral health can have on a child’s learning experience. We’re proud to team up with Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® to provide underserved students the skills they need to take care of their smiles – for picture day and every day.”

Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® is among the most far-reaching, successful children’s oral health initiatives in the world. With long-standing partnerships with governments, schools and communities, Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® has reached more than half a billion children across 80 countries with free dental screenings and oral health education.

To champion Smile for Picture Day™ at home with your child or at your local school, please visit http://www.colgatebsbf.com/ to download and share Colgate’s free oral health education materials, videos and more.

 

 

Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. It’s a sad reality that our children have come to face. It seems too often that I hear tragic stories about kids who have been bullied. One would think as the prevalence of bullying increases, anti-bullying laws would be strengthened. However, in some states this logic doesn’t exist.

Katy Butler, now a junior at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor Michigan, has been a victim of bullying in the past. Katy suffered from harsh name-calling, pushing and shoving, and getting her locker slammed shut on her hand causing one of her fingers to break. Katy endured these incidents alone because she was afraid her school wouldn’t do anything to help. Katy feared if she told people about the bullying, it would get worse. Katy’s friend, Carson Borbely, was also repeatedly harassed in school and no help was provided for him either.

Just last week, the Michigan State Senate passed a new anti-bullying bill that is supposed to protect students, but just how much does it? Special language was added to the bill that basically gives bullies protection instead of the victims. This language indicates that bullying because of “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” is acceptable. Now children know the loopholes of bullying and how to get away with it.

Outraged by this anti-bullying bill, Katy and Carson created a petition on Change.org to stop the “License to Bully” bill. More than 39,000 people have already signed the petition, which demands a stricter anti-bullying law to be passed. Nobody should get away with bullying for any reason. Sign the petition so no one else has to suffer. Students deserve better protection.

I’ve been following with dismay the case of Tanya McDowell, a homelss single mother from nearby Bridgeport, CT who has been charged with first degree larceny and is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

What has she done that’s so horrific you might ask? Surely it must be something terrible such as abusing her children or neglecting them to the point of malnourisment. No, what this terrible woman did was try to provide a better life for her 5-year old son and give him the best education she could. She had the nerve to sign her son up for a public school in a city where she didn’t live but a friend did. Oh the horror! (Please, please, please note the sarcasm dripping from my voice.)

I’m not sure which part of this bothers me more, the fact that our tax dollars are going to try a case like this when they could be going after child abusers and molesters or the fact we’re trying to punish a mom who was trying to do whatever it took to get her child a good education.

And please spare me the argument that if she chose to “live” in Bridgeport that’s where her child should go to school. First, I’m not sure how many people are aware that it’s actually a crime to enroll your child in a school in a different neighborhood. But, most importantly, I know Bridgeport schools and I can’t blame her. Until something can be done to be sure that every child is provided with a good public education, parents need to do whatever they can to help they’re child succeed in life.

So, I’m throwing the question out to you. If you lived in a city where the schools were sub-par and you couldn’t afford to move for whatever reason, what would you do?

By The Safety Mom

This past weekend my step-daughter got sidelined from her soccer play-offs due to a concussion. I have to say I wasn’t upset. I mean, I was upset about the concussion but not about her getting side-lined. She is one of the star players and this was an important game and I was more concerned that her over-zealous coach would consider allowing her to play regardless of her injury.

School athletic programs have become crazy. I remember school athletics used to be important when I was growing up but it seems to have gone to an entire new level. Kids are told by their coaches and even parents that their performance is critical for getting into the right school, even landing the right job (yes, I actually heard a mother say this!)

And now that play-off season is here for many school athletic programs, the local rivalries have kicked into high gear. I spent my weekend cheering on the un-defeated 4th grade football team that my daughter cheers for. But, as many mother’s used to say, “It’s fun until someone gets hurt!”

Concussions are a serious concern for athletes at any age but in young people they often-times go unreported and multiple concussions can lead to serious complications later in life. We now know that it is unsafe for any athlete to return-to-play the same day they have suffered a concussion, and it is recommended that every athlete not return-to-play until they have been cleared by an appropriate medical professional. Athletes who do return early are at risk for Second-Impact Syndrome, a rare but catastrophic brain injury in which an athlete who has suffered a concussion incurs further brain trauma before symptoms associated with the initial concussion have cleared. About 50% of athletes die after suffering SIS and the rest suffer life-long impairments.

Parents, coaches and the players themselves must not only recognize the signs of a concussion but take the necessary steps in treating the concussion, even if that means taking the star player out of the most important game. Athletic programs in many of our schools are so competitive that coaches and the athletes themselves are willing to take serious health risks for the sake of the game. This attitude must stop and parents need to play a big part in changing this.Parent coaches in particular need to lead the way.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels, is conducting a national campaign through Nov. 29 titled “Put Pride Aside for Player Safety” to emphasize concussion awareness in youth sports, particularly football. The campaign is promoted in partnership with the NFL and its 32 teams as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

“Put Pride Aside for Player Safety” challenges and instructs coaches, parents and youth players to make the right decision when a concussion is suspected, which is to remove an athlete from play the day of the injury and not allow him or her to return until a medical professional deems the athlete symptom-free and gives clearance for a return to play.Endowed by the NFL Youth Football Fund, USA Football offers innovative resources through its 80-plus training events and usafootball.com to ensure a positive football experience. The Indianapolis-based independent non-profit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association.

It’s vital that parents recognize the serious issue of concussions in young athletes leading to traumatic brain injury. Both coaches and parents need to be aware of the problems that can arise when an athlete is put back in the game before he or she is ready. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system that many towns are now using.

Additionally, the Centers For Disease Control offers free downloadable information for coaches, parents and athletes on preventing, recognizing and responding to a concussion. 

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant. 

Today is National Missing Children’s Day.  It was first proclaimed by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  It’s so sad that we even had to have such a day created but the reality is that,  according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, about 2,200 children go missing each day in the United States, or about 800,000 every year.   Of these, approximately 2,000 were parental abductions to and from the United States.

Take a few minutes tonight to talk to your kids about keeping themselves safe from abduction: 

  • Never walk in a secluded or wooded area alone
  • Always take the same path to and from school or a regular destination
  • Never go near a car that pulls over to ask for directions or for any other reason
  • Establish a code word with your child so they know that anyone who says they are picking them up must know it
  • Make sure schools are aware of any custody issues and have copies of court orders to support them
  • Give your younger child a working cell phone without a cell plan.  As long as it’s charged they can still use it to call 911.
  • Discuss with them online safety – check their Facebook pages and all other social network pages to be sure they’re not disclosing personal information.
  • Search for your child’s name on the various search engines and see what information comes up
  • When sending your child off on a playdate in which they will be visiting a park, mall or other destination, give the other parent a recent photo of your child that they can immediate provide to the police if they are lost or abducted
  • Unfortunately, kids are taught to be respectful of adults who seem to have authority.  Teach them that if anyone tries to grab them from a store or public area to scream as loud as possible and do whatever they can to resist.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.  Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant. 

If you are interested in more safety tips and info visit my new blog on the Home Security Source. 

I, like so many others are frustrated with what it’s taking to put our economy back in balance. I do think that as a nation there are several things we can do to make sure things don’t get too out of hand. One of those things is to please show support of teachers on May 26th for National Speak up for Education and Kids Campaign to support # EducationJobsFund. It’s National Call-in Day 1-866-608-6355. Please tell our national education leaders to stop cuts to education – http://bit.ly//9VNbuB.

Why is it that we are so short sided? 

Education is one of those places where we as a nation, all of us, can actually change our future. We need to place the call to our law makers and remind them that the decisions they make now about education will have a huge impact on the future of our great nation, on the future of main-street, and on the planet as a whole, maybe they will hear us. 

We can’t keep having the “fix it later mentality.” iIf law makers do decide to fix it later, for whatever reason, then it will bite us next year as our children get lost in their classroom because there’s a shortage of teachers. It will bite us in a few years as the children loose interest in their schooling because no one helped them find their learning style so they could find success. It will bite us as the teens wander to things no one wants to think about instead of remaining focused on school. It will bite us  a few years later when they don’t have enough education to go to college and have no interest in helping society so the burden for them falls on society as a whole. It will bite us years from now when the little ones you’re holding in your lap now have grown into full adults and it’s their turn to take care of us. Their rage at being forgotten by the system could possibly mean they can’t help us as we age. And all because we didn’t make a decision today to speak as one voice and be heard! Stand together for our children’s future, our future and the future of our planet, do it TODAY, and take a stand for our tomorrow! Call 1-866-608-6355 and make your voice for education heard.

Week 1 is finally over for Spencer at his new school.  I really felt for the kid – it’s so hard to start a new school let alone two in a matter of a few weeks.  I’m not sure who was more nervous, me or him.  But I felt so good about this school even though it’s over an hour away from us.  When we went there for Spencer to spend half a day two weeks ago I was so happy to see him interacting with the other kids, it was like seven Spencer’s running around.  What a relief to finally find a school where kids were actually like him and he was not the outcast! 

It was an exhausting week because the town was unable to set up transportation which meant the majority of my day was spent driving back and forth.  It was also stressful as I sat on the edge of my seat all week waiting for the school to call and say that something had gone wrong or there was a problem with Spencer.  Yes, he had a few incidents in the beginning of the week but I did a happy dance last night when the teachers told me that he was really settling in and doing great!  He also has a full time aide who seems terrific.

 I finally feel as if life is getting back to somewhat of a normal situation now that he’s in the right school with all of the support and services he needs.  And…..transportation starts on Monday – yeah!!! 

It’s been a long, painful and frustrating road finding the right school for Spencer and getting an accurate diagnosis for him.  For parents of regular-ed students, the process of getting appropriate services in place for each child is usually something they take for granted.  After all, with my daughter Kelsey, I put her on the bus, help her with her homework, speak with the teacher and attend parent/teacher meetings, but I assume that she is receiving the resources and tools she needs to learn.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the education of my son would become my full time job!  It has made me aware of how critical it is to have talented professionals who are provided the services and tools they need to teach our children and give them the education they deserve!

In my quest to educate my son, I have been fortunate to meet some incredible education advocates.  And, in my role as The Safety Mom – www.safetymom.com, it has provided me the opportunity to meet some leaders in the field of education.  I’ve learned from them that all of our children’s education is in jeopardy.  Funding for teachers and important programs are in danger of being cut.  As it is, our classrooms are so crowded that the possibility of any sort of  individual attention is gone.  And even programs such as music and art – things that open their eyes to what they could become – could be gone.  Every one of our children deserves the best opportunities to learn.  Next week, the #EducationJobsFund will be coming up for a vote.  Please, please, please, take a moment to click on this LINK and send an e-mail to your Representative encouraging him/her to pass this bill.  There are pre-printed statements so it literally will take a second.  But it’s a few seconds that really could make a difference in the quality of your child’s education.  

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.  Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.