Five Simple Steps for a Healthier School Year


 Your child is going to school.  As a parent, what can you do to make it the healthiest year ever?

Perhaps your child is a preschooler and will be attending a daycare or nursery school.  Maybe your child is already in elementary school.  Here are five simple steps that may keep your child from getting sick.

  1. Wash hands often: everyone should have their own towel…perhaps a different color for each member of the family.  This helps colds from spreading like wild-fires!
  2. Dress appropriately: when it is cold, children should be dressed warmly, with hats or hoods on their heads…no ifs, ands or buts!
  3. Get enough sleep: young children need LOTS of sleep so set up bedtime routines and stick to them.  Our body renews and cells regenerate during sleep.  Did you know that children between the ages of 2 and 5 need 11-14 hours of sleep?  For more information about sleep and young children, you can go to: http://www.sleepforkids.org/html/sheet.html.
  4. Make every meal and snack count:  a good breakfast is a MUST and snacks can provide additional important nutrition, especially for picky eaters.  For more ideas on healthy meal planning for the whole family, you can visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/habits.html
  5. Keep a sick child home: I know it is difficult, especially when parents work…but your child will get better sooner and the teacher and the other children in the class will thank you.  With these tips, your children may stay healthy this school year and you won’t have to keep them home.

On September 24th, the Show-Me-How with Miss Vivian program will be at Family Christian Store, 7165 North Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO.  There will be one presentation from 12 to 12:45pm.  I’ll be reading Johnny Lion’s Bad Day to the parents and children and then we will all make Paper Plate Lions.  This program is appropriate for children from two to seven years old.  In addition, there will be a flyer for parents to take home about staying healthy this school year.  I hope we will have a good turn-out…please spread the word and tweet this and post to Facebook…maybe some of your followers are local to Colorado Springs.

SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

For more information: 719-237-3111 or vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

Making Blood Draws Easier for Kids: Healthy Habit Thursday

A female doctor examines a child.

Image via Wikipedia

Do you like going for blood draws?

I don’t know about you, but it’s not my favorite activity.

In fact, I don’t think there are very many people who would look forward to that…unless you are a character in the Twilight series. 🙂

And if having blood drawn is unpleasant for most adults, imagine how little children feel about it!

In two weeks, I have an appointment to see my family doctor for my annual physical and he always wants me to have various lab tests done beforehand.   So, the other day, I went to Healthlink, one of Memorial Hospital’s outpatient lab facilities in Colorado Springs, to get my blood drawn. 

While sitting in the waiting room, I saw a notice hanging on the wall entitled, “Making Blood Draws Easier for Kids”.

After reading it, I spoke to the staff and asked if I could copy it and post it on my parenting blog because I knew that there must be many parents who would appreciate the information. 

They were happy to have me pass along these simple tips that may help parents whose children need to have blood drawn.

1.     Your attitude is contagious!  If you are tense, your child will get tense as well.

Be positive!

Be honest with your child that it might hurt!

Talk about where or what you are going to be doing when you leave!

2.     Your child could sit on your lap during the blood draw.

3.     You could stand behind him or her and give a shoulder rub during the draw.

4.     You could hold his or her other hand.

5.     You could tell his or her favorite story.

6.     You could leave the room…sometimes older kids would prefer this…it makes them feel grown up.

7.     When it is all over, tell your child that you are proud of him or her…no matter how he or she acted during the draw.

8.     Things NOT to say:

  • Don’t say it won’t hurt!
  • Don’t say just think of something else!
  • Don’t say just act like a big boy or girl!

As a parent, I appreciate how hard it is to see your child being stuck with a needle.  I applaud the Healthlink staff for their foresight in posting this notice to encourage parents to be positive and honest with their children.  If you have a child who needs to have blood drawn just once in a while for a particular test or on a regular basis because of some ongoing health problems, I hope these suggestions will be helpful.

Here’s another suggestion: Mother’s Day is only a few days away…and the long days of summer are just around the corner.  We are offering a special Mother’s Day bonus for anyone who purchases a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Get a copy of this wonderful resource, brimming with fun-filled educational activities for young children, and receive a $10 Marshalls/TJMaxx Gift Card for mom as a bonus.  Visit my website for the details.  Offer ends on May 8.

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian and find out about my visit at Queen Palmer School and my exciting plans for the Mother’s Day Weekend!

Earth Day 2011: Preserve, Protect, Promote…How Parents and Their Preschoolers Can Participate

Devils Punchbowl Waterfall at Arthurs Pass in ...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you noticed how much your preschooler wants to be like you?

Look over at your child while you are engaged in some activity like reading, talking on the phone or even cleaning the house.

More often than not, you will see your preschooler mimicking you…the book may be upside down and the imaginary phone conversation may be on a toy…but emulating parents is what young children love to do.

With Earth Day 2011 quickly approaching (Friday, April 22), here are seven simple steps that parents can take to preserve the planet for future generations, protect our natural resources and promote environmental awareness with their preschoolers.

1.     Buy gently used clothing and toys at consignment shops or places like Goodwill and donate your child’s gently used items as well.  This cycle of recycling really helps.

2.     Use homemade natural solutions to clean your home.  They are better for your family and better for the planet.  Here are a couple of links where you can find great “recipes” and other tips: http://housekeeping.about.com/cs/environment/a/alternateclean.htm, http://www.ehow.com/about_4777601_natural-homemade-cleaning-products.html, http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/pantry-recipes-homemade-cleaning-products.  Happy cleaning!!!  

3.     Walk; don’t drive, to local destinations, if possible, like the store or the library.

4.     Spend the day at a local park…bring a picnic lunch, gloves and a big garbage bag.  Walk around and have your child help you pick up any garbage you find. 

5.     Bring your own bags when you shop…you might want to get smaller reusable bags for your young children so that they can help carry groceries in a more responsible way.

6.     Buy local.  I realize it is not always possible or feasible to buy organic, locally-grown or produced food.  However, this not only benefits your family, but also the planet.  The carbon footprint left by foods that are flown or trucked across the country is huge…and buying locally helps the growers and manufacturers who must compete with the large corporations.  The nutritional benefits to your family include not having to worry about artificial colors, preservatives and genetically modified foods.  If you are looking for healthful recipes, my book for parents of preschoolers, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, includes 100 easy child-friendly cooking activities, as well as 100 simple eco-friendly craft projects.

7.     Buy in bulk with as little packaging as possible.   Many stores now have a special section where they offer a wide selection of foods that can be purchased by the pound or less.  The price is usually significantly cheaper than buying the product in a box with a name brand listed on the front.

Seven simple steps…if you only do a few, you will be making an important contribution to the preservation of our planet for future generations. 

Seven simple steps…if you allow your children to participate with you, you will be encouraging them to protect our natural resources.

Seven simple steps…if we all follow them, we promote environmental awareness and the well-being of the world.

You can “like” b-kind-2-earth-day and go here for more information about what lots of other people are doing: http://www.facebook.com/BKind2EarthDay/posts/139097546162617#!/BKind2EarthDay

Healthy Habit Thursdays: Focusing on Vitamin C

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Thursday we found out why it is so important to eat foods rich in Vitamin B.

Today I want to give you some facts about another vitamin that is vital to your health: Vitamin C.

  • Needed for growth and repair of tissues
  • Used to form collagen, a protein that makes skin, scar tissue, and blood vessels
  • Essential for the healing of wounds
  • Necessary for the repair and maintenance of bones and teeth
  • Blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals

Now what, you may ask, are free radicals?  The term is mentioned a lot…perhaps it would be good if we had a definition. 🙂

Free radicals are the by-products that result when our bodies turn food into energy.  Perhaps it would help to think of it like setting a match to a newspaper…after the paper burns, you are left with ashes…the ashes are like the free radicals…kind of dirty garbage.  A build-up of these by-products in our bodies is largely responsible for the aging process and contributes to the development of cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  BRING ON THE VITAMIN C!!!!!!!

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means it dissolves in water.  Leftover amounts of this vitamin are not retained, but are passed out through the urine.  And what this means is that you need a CONTINUOUS supply of the vitamin in your diet.

So how can you make sure that you and your family are getting enough Vitamin C?

You need to eat foods rich in Vitamin C…many fruits and vegetables fall into this category, among them: papaya, watermelon, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red peppers, blueberries, cranberries and pineapples.

SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING contains 100 child-friendly recipes that your children would love to help you prepare.  Many of the healthful ingredients called for are rich in Vitamin C.  If you click on the book title, you can go to my website and find out more about the book.

Two important reminders:

  • Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm…talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details go to www.coveredtreasures.com.  The Book Fair benefits the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.
  • Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.htmlhttp://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html.

And please don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian? I will tell you all about today’s visit with Bates Elementary School.

Healthy Habit Thursday: The Importance of Vitamins!

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...

Image via Wikipedia

I can still remember the ENORMOUS vitamin pill my sister and I had to take every morning.  It was all but impossible to swallow…and often left us feeling that it was still stuck in our throats, long after breakfast was over.

These days, children have chewable vitamins with fruity flavors, shaped like favorite cartoon characters.

But the underlying premise is still the same…supplementing your daily diet with vitamins and minerals is probably a smart move…especially these days when the nutritional value of processed foods is questionable.

So why are vitamins important and how does each one help?

Today’s post will concentrate on Vitamin B…a complex vitamin made up of eight essential nutrients.  And then, every Thursday in the month of April, we’ll take a look at various other vitamins.

The B-complex vitamins are essential for life and good health.  They help make and regulate our genes, produce energy, regulate blood sugar, enhance mood and cognitive abilities and maintain cardiovascular health.  Since the 1940’s, they’ve been known as anti-stress vitamins because they help strengthen our resistance to the physical and mental consequences of chronic stress.

Eight B vitamins make up this family of essential nutrients.

  • Vitamin B1: Also known as thiamin, this vitamin helps cells produce the right amounts of energy and gives you the power to get through day-to-day life.  If you consume large amounts of sugars and simple carbohydrates like pizza, breads, pastas, bagels and cereals, your supply of B1 will be depleted.
  • Vitamin B2: Also known as riboflavin, this vitamin is at the heart of energy production and thought to be helpful to decrease the frequency of migraine headaches.
  • Vitamin B3: Also known as niacin, this vitamin helps cells produce an enzyme that repairs DNA damage from toxins and it also can significantly lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine and pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, this vitamin works together with other elements to promote a variety of chemical reactions involved in the production of serotonin and other mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.  It’s been used in studies to decrease PMS symptoms and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Vitamin B12: Low levels of this vitamin can accelerate aging and the risk of cancer and may mimic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Folic Acid: This vitamin is the main contributor to making new DNA which is needed to make new cells for growth and healing.  Studies show that this vitamin can enhance the benefits of anti-depressant drugs and cut hearing loss in middle-age and older people.
  • Biotin: This vitamin activates some of the genes involved in metabolizing blood sugar, protein and fat…it’s especially important for people with pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes.  It also can help lower triglycerides and it improves nail health.
  • Choline: This vitamin is found in all cell membranes where it helps communicate external information to the cell nucleus.  It is needed for normal brain development and function.

This is a photo from my recent trip to visit my daughter and her family.  2 1/2 year-old Jeremy had a wonderful time whisking the eggs and mashing the bananas (both GREAT sources of Vitamin B) for the banana muffins we made.  As parents, we are responsible for providing healthful foods for our children…and ourselves.   Do you find yourself dragging before the day is half over?  Maybe you need to eat some foods rich in B vitamins.

1.     Dark leafy green vegetables

2.     Fresh fruits

3.     Fresh dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese

4.     Meat

Two important tips to remember:

  • Most processed foods these days are “enriched” with vitamin B…but we should all strive to eat foods that are naturally rich in B.
  • The nutritional value of a food can decline when frozen, overcooked or combined with various additives.

If you are looking for some simple child-friendly healthful recipes…please visit my website where you can purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW, a unique resource for parents and teachers of preschoolers that provides 100 cooking activities your child will LOVE to help with…most take just 15 minutes to prepare and will contribute to your child’s positive self-image.  The half-price sale continues until April 9th…so please don’t miss out if you were thinking of getting a copy.  You can also enter to win a selection of craft supplies for your preschooler.

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian and find out how much fun I had this morning at Edison School!  And don’t forget about the Book Blog Tour for Max the Dog.  You can click on my sidebar to find out more.

Healthy Habit Thursdays: 5 Great Tips Before You Visit The Doctor

RPA Hospital Christmas, December 1944 / by Sam...

Image by State Library of New South Wales collection via Flickr

I had to visit an urgent care facility recently because my cough sounded like I had a cage full of lions in my chest.  The on-call doctor was very helpful and reassured me that it was “just” a simple upper respiratory infection…and she sent me home with instructions to stay hydrated, rest and take various medications she had prescribed.

When I got home, head muddled with feeling ill and medications, I was glad I had written down the instructions while I had been with the doctor. 

It made me realize that there are a few tips I could share with everyone, whether they are going to the doctor for themselves or for their children.

1.   Get a small spiral notebook.  On the inside cover list your doctors and dentists names, addresses and telephone numbers, along with the same information about your local hospital and the closest urgent care walk-in clinic.

2.   Make a copy of your health insurance card (both sides), if you have one, and tape this to the inside of the notebook.  In an emergency, if your card is lost or misplaced, at least you will have the information you need and you will also be able to call your company regarding getting a new card.

3.   Use this notebook to jot down symptoms and questions before you go to see your doctor or before you call to make an appointment.  So often, in the “heat of the moment”, we forget to voice some of our concerns, and we go home with questions unanswered.

4.   It’s also a good idea to take the notebook to the doctor’s office to jot down his instructions.  How often do you get home and have to call the doctor’s office back (after they have left for the day) to clarify whether to use a heat pack or an ice pack or how many times a day to take certain medications?

5.   Take a drive past your local hospital, if you’ve never been there.  If it’s a nice day and you have children, park the car and take a walk around the grounds.  Go inside and visit the cafeteria for a snack.  If your child ever has to go to the hospital, he or she will remember this pleasant afternoon and may be less anxious.  Swinging by the nearest urgent care facility is a good idea also…instead of waiting until there is an emergency and you are searching for it with a sick and screaming child in the car.

Do you have any tips to add that might help others?  Please share!

And please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?  I’ll be sharing my visit with Taylor School kindergartens and also my interview with two 4th-grade students who want to job shadow an author.  If you hop over to my website, you can purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW! and enter to win a WONDERFUL PRIZE for your preschooler.

Healthy Habit Thursdays: It’s a Question of Moving!

New Zealand postage stamp, 1933: Public health.

Image via Wikipedia

We all know that it is important to “stay in shape”.

But, what does that mean…and how can we accomplish that?

One of the most important factors in staying in shape is to exercise on a regular basis.  I’m not sure that is matters exactly what you do…you could walk, jog, run, swim, play tennis, do aerobics…the list is endless.

What matters is that you DO IT ON A REGULAR BASIS!

We need to make exercising a HABIT.

The dictionary defines “habit” as:

  • A regularly repeated behavior pattern
  • An action or pattern of behavior that is repeated so often that it becomes typical of somebody
  • A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

Throughout our lives, we deal with many habits…making them and then, if they are “bad ones” breaking them…like biting nails, curling hair, smoking.

So why not make it a habit to exercise on a daily basis…if you do it often enough, it will become an unconscious pattern of behavior for you.

How much time do you need to devote to establishing this new habit?

This really depends on your state of health right now…but, just 15 minutes a day can bring great benefits to you.

Just 15 minutes a day…take a walk around the block.

Just 15 minutes a day…dance to some favorite tunes.

Just 15 minutes a day…the possibilities are endless…just keep in mind how limber you are now and don’t push yourself to the point of pain or discomfort.

Another activity that takes just 15 minutes a day…read a picture book to your child.  Or do a craft project.  Or prepare an easy-peasy recipe.

Maybe you can make this a habit also. 🙂  If you are looking for story suggestions or educational fun-filled activities, please check out my book.  There is a great half-price sale going on right now with a bonus prize…no purchase necessary to enter. http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?  The kindergarten children at Taylor School loved Katy and the Big Snow!