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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

Managing Childhood Diabetes with Good Nutrition

Ask the Experts by Sarah Yandall

I am a parent seeking information as to how to manage my child's diabetes with good nutrition, thank you for your help in addressing my questions. Why is good nutrition essential to manage both type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Making good food choices is essential for blood sugar management. Focusing on how much carbohydrate is in each meal and snack, is a must for keeping blood sugars within range. We know now that all carbohydrates raise blood sugar so the focus is on counting carbohydrates rather than looking at sugars. A meal that has a good balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber will slow absorption from sugars into the bloodstream.

Read more: Managing Childhood Diabetes with Good Nutrition


Keeping Kids Busy in the Fall and Winter at Play Central

Ask The Experts by Carla Whitton, Play Central Coordinator

Q: It's already fall and the weather makes it hard to get my little ones outside. Do you have any advice on how to survive the fall and winter with them?

A: Young children certainly have limitless amounts of energy. Many parents begin to feel cooped up when the weather gets cooler.

There are lots of great indoor options for poor-weather playtime. Most parents have tried out McDonald's playland, The Bounce House, and Eastland's play area.

Why not try something new? One great local choice many people don't know about is Play Central. Play Central is a drop-in open play group run by The Family Center, a local non-profit organization.

The program begins in October, when it starts getting kind of cold for outdoor play. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, we meet in the gym at Barnes Early Childhood Center. We offer both a morning session from 9 am to 11 am, and an afternoon session from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm. It costs just $5 each visit for the whole family.

Read more: Keeping Kids Busy in the Fall and Winter at Play Central


Could My Child have Dyslexia?

Ask the Experts by Ann Laciura 

Q: My second-grade son is smart and tries his best in school, but he still struggles with reading, spelling and remembering even his address. Could this mean he has a learning disability?

A. An unexplained inability to process language could well be dyslexia. Dyslexia, a genetic, neurological condition, simply means the brain is wired differently than most brains.

The condition, which experts estimate affects up to 20 percent of the population, has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact many of the brightest minds in history were dyslexic: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, to name a few.

The common characteristics of dyslexia include:

Read more: Could My Child have Dyslexia?


College Accommodations for Students with a Disability

Ask the Experts by Marianne Balton ACSW, PhD Candidate

Q: My daughter had an IEP in high school and is now on her way to college. How can I make sure she gets the help she needs for her learning disability? 

The best way a parent can help a daughter who is transitioning from high school to college is to support her autonomy. Once a student has been accepted into a college or university, she is expected to navigate independently, as an adult.

Because the laws which govern services in higher education differ greatly from those of K-12, parents and students need to be aware of these differences in order to maximize ease of service attainment. In K-12, parents participate in the IEP process, but are excluded from the arranging of accommodations in higher education unless the student authorizes them to do so in writing with a FERPA waiver.

Colleges and universities are not obligated to contact students to recruit them for accommodations; but rather, students are obligated to contact the university disability service office to identify their needs and request services. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ensures that adults receive accommodations when the student makes the request, and provides qualifying documentation. 

Read more: College Accommodations for Students with a Disability


When Should My High Schooler Start College Planning?

Ask the Experts by Beth Walsh-Sahutske & Milissa Pierce

Striking the right balance in helping your child through the college preparation process is no simple task.

Parents want to instill a college mindset and encourage their child to maintain high standards while still keeping an eye on family/life stability. The potential to disrupt home with stress to child and parents is great. The optimal solution is to re-frame the approach that the whole family takes towards the college investigation process.

If we look at it developmentally like the natural evolution of the student's life cycle then we can more effectively integrate the research, application and selection process into this next phase of life and the dream of college becomes to find the perfect match instead of the treasured prize.

Q: My child just started high school. Is it too early to start talking about college?

Read more: When Should My High Schooler Start College Planning?


Successful Transitions from Preschool to Kindergarten

ASK THE EXPERTS by Dorothy Heitjan, Deb Kraft and Kristen DeVooght 

Q.  How can we as parents help our preschooler make a successful transition into Kindergarten?

It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with the experiences that will build the foundation for later success in school. Keep in mind the amazing developmental changes that occur in a child's body and brain during the preschool years. In order to help your child build these neural connections, parents should provide:

Read more: Successful Transitions from Preschool to Kindergarten


Relational Aggression and Bullying: What Can Schools Do About It?

Ask the Experts by Georgia Michalopoulou, Ph.D.

Q: I am a Middle School Counselor. What can we as educators, counselors and Schools do about bullying?

Relational aggression or bullying is a behavior that is intended to harm someone by damaging or manipulating his or her relationships with others. It is a serious issue that affects kids as early as preschool age and can continue into adult workplaces.

The National Education Association reports that as many as 160,000 kids miss school every day out of fear of being victimized by such behaviors.

Bullying can be difficult for an outsider to observe, identify or prove for a variety of reasons. A roll of the eyes, a heavy sigh, a snub in the hallway, or exclusion at the lunch table; are all subtle examples of discrete bullying.

Read more: Relational Aggression and Bullying: What Can Schools Do About It?


Relational Aggression and Bullying: What Can Parents Do About It?

Ask the Experts by Georgia Michalopoulou, Ph.D.

Q: I am parent of both a middle school student and high school student. I occasionally hear from my children about issues of bullying in their daily lives. What can parents do about relational aggression and bullying?

Relational aggression is a form of bullying. It consists of manipulating relationships to exert control over another child, or harming another child by damaging his or her friendships or reputation.

This kind of behavior is a growing concern for parents as it can sadly lead to life-long consequences and even death. Research shows that students who have been the targets of relational aggression have:

Read more: Relational Aggression and Bullying: What Can Parents Do About It?


Developing Healthy Relationships at Home, School and in the Community

Ask the Experts by Eric Herman, MA, LLP, DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan

Q: As an parent I know that there are many benefits to developing healthy relationships at home, work and in the community. What tips can you share to help me teach my children those benefits so that they can better navigate school and throughout life?

What are some practical tips on how individuals can develop healthy relationships at home, school and the community?

Parents are the model for their children as to how to relate or have a relationship with the world. For good or bad, what a child learns or does not learn at home, will have a significant impact on his or her ability to have healthy, effective and satisfying relationships with others.

Read more: Developing Healthy Relationships at Home, School and in the Community


The Psychological Costs of Bullying

Ask the Experts by Michael Butkus, PhD, LP, DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan

Q: Every day thousands of teens wake up afraid to go to school. I've learned that bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end. How can parents and educators better understand just how extreme bullying can get, and how it impacts everyone involved? 

What are the effects bullying can have on the victim?

There are numerous potential consequences. These include increased stress, anxiety, and worrying about both going to and being in school. Victims can have school attendance problems and physical complaints such as stomachaches and headaches. Other potential issues include:

Read more: The Psychological Costs of Bullying


Starter Fluid of Bullying = Meanness

Ask the Experts by Sean Hogan Downey, LMSW, LMFT 

Q: There is so much education on bullying in the schools, but I'm not sure that I understand what the difference is between unkindness between peers and bullying? What do I need to know to help my kids navigate these issues in school and socially? What's the major difference between meanness and bullying?

All bullying involves meanness but not all meanness is bullying. What distinguishes bullying from unkind behavior is that it is intentional, aggressive and involves an imbalance of power.

Bullying and meanness is becoming more prevalent in our children's' day to day lives:

Read more: Starter Fluid of Bullying = Meanness


Peer Expectations during the Middle School Transition Years

Ask the Experts by Michael Dib, EdD

Q: My oldest child has just entered middle school. What should my expectations be regarding my child and peer relationships?

A: Each student who enters middle school comes with a unique sense of belonging and confidence. Accept your child for who she/he is and support the transition to middle school with a consistent and positive demeanor. New peer relationships will likely occur during the middle school years.

Encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities and school events which will help develop new peer relationships, while still maintaining existing friendships. As tempting as it might be, don't pick your child's friends based upon what you think is best for your child.

Read more: Peer Expectations during the Middle School Transition Years


Parental Responsibility for Underage Drinking in their Home

Ask the Experts by Ed Lazar

Q: Are parents responsible for the consequences of underage drinking in their home? If so, how serious are those consequences?

A: Kids love to celebrate. Whether at a family graduation party or a spontaneous late night get together, some kids celebrate with alcohol. What's worse, 65% of kids under age 21 who say they drink admit they get alcohol from family and friends. That means they get it from their parents, their friends' parents, or older siblings.

Make no mistake about this: If you provide alcohol, directly or indirectly, to someone under the legal drinking age you can be held responsible for what happens after they have consumed it. 

Read more: Parental Responsibility for Underage Drinking in their Home


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