The 10 Most Compelling Reasons for Keeping Your Child Home from School

feverIt’s no secret that your child’s education is of unparalleled importance, but there are times when deciding whether or not to send them to school is a complicated proposition. Even if you’re striving for a perfect attendance award, life has a way of spoiling your plans with unpredictable events. These are ten of the situations in which it’s generally considered acceptable to keep your kids home from school.

  1. She Has a Fever – A fever is the body’s natural response to infection and is a line of defense against any germy little invaders, so it’s a smart move to keep your feverish youngster home for the day. Even if she seems to be feeling well enough to go to school she could very well be contagious, and other parents will thank you for not subjecting their kids to her illness.
  2. She Has Digestive or Intestinal Symptoms – Whether she has a fever or not, even if her illness is not contagious, anything that causes your child to vomit repeatedly or have diarrhea is automatic grounds for staying home. The distraction factor aside, the likelihood of an accident is fairly high with younger children that aren’t yet adept at reading their body’s cues, and the attendant embarrassment from losing control of bodily functions is just not worth a few extra grade points.
  3. There’s Been a Family Emergency – Accidents, serious illnesses and other family emergencies are a perfectly acceptable reason for a missed day of school or two, especially if you have to travel as a family to manage the crisis.
  4. She’s Being Bullied Incessantly – While you don’t want to keep your kids home from school indefinitely out of avoidance of a bullying issue, you may want to consider a temporary leave of absence while school administrators address the situation. Chances are, the torment she’s on the receiving end of will be a distraction from her studies anyway, and a day’s reprieve can help her recuperate from the trauma.
  5. Someone Within the Family or Close to Your Child Has Passed Away – Even if funeral ceremonies are still in the works, the news that a loved one has passed away is likely to be so upsetting to your child that she has trouble focusing on her schoolwork anyway. Her grief may even be a distraction to other kids, as well as embarrassing to her, so you may want to consider a short break to allow an appropriate amount of time to grieve.
  6. She Has Pink Eye – Pink eye is highly contagious and extremely uncomfortable, and school administrators are sure to send your child straight home when she shows up with the signs of a pink eye infection. Save yourself the trouble of being forced to go back and pick her up and just make arrangements for her to skip school until she’s fully recovered.
  7. You’ve Found Signs of a Problem With Head Lice – Lice are another highly contagious childhood malady that’s quite common, but still cause for a break from school until all signs of the infestation have been eradicated.
  8. She’s Experienced a Traumatic Event – A natural disaster, car accident or even a particularly scary story on the news can be traumatic for children. You may find that it’s better and more manageable for her to stay home until she’s calmed down than to send her to school. Anxiety can also increase exponentially in crowded places for some kids. It should go without saying that any intimations of impending violence or rumors of an event that makes your child feel unsafe at school is immediate grounds for a day at home.
  9. You’ve Planned a Special Occasion – It’s not a smart move to make a habit of scheduling special events that conflict with the school schedule, but there are times when it’s just not avoidable. Rather than forcing your child to miss out on an exciting event or scrambling to reschedule at a less convenient time, you may want to consider a one-time-only reprieve from classes in order to allow your child to participate.
  10. She’s Under an Inordinate Amount of Pressure – Pressure to succeed academically or even to fit in socially can become overwhelming at times, and your child may simply need a break from time to time. If you think that your child is in danger of burning out completely due to the amount of stress she’s facing, it may be better in the long run to give her a mental health day every once in a while.

In the end, you’re the only person who truly knows whether or not a day of missed classes will have a negative impact on your child. Before making the decision to condone a bit of class-cutting, consider any academic struggles your child may be facing and the projected impact that missing a day of school will have on her grades. After all, an education is an essential aspect of your child’s future success. If you find yourself frequently debating the wisdom of sending your child to school, you may even want to consider making the switch to homeschooling in order to ensure that her education continues despite any social or health struggles she’s facing.

10 Common First Aid Myths and the Truths Behind Them

butterWhether you’re a parent or a childcare provider, you know that kids and mishaps go together like peanut butter and jelly. Skinned knees, scraped elbows, burned fingers and bloody noses are all in a day’s work when kids are involved, so it’s no surprise that most parents and nannies are never far from a first aid kit. When it comes to treating common injuries, however, you may be surprised to realize that some of the most common bits of wisdom aren’t actually true at all. These are ten of the most widespread first aid wives’ tales, and the truth behind them.

  1. Butter Soothes Burns – Grandma may have sworn that butter was the best way to take the sting out of a minor burn, but all you’re really doing is running the risk of introducing more bacteria to the area. Furthermore, the only burns that can be safely treated at home are those of the first-degree variety. If the burned area turns white, loses feeling or blisters, put down the stick of butter and head to the doctor’s office.
  2. Holding Your Head Back is Proper Procedure During a Nosebleed – The old adage about tossing your head backwards in the event of a nosebleed is so ingrained that most adults instinctively tilt someone’s head backwards at the first sign of a bloody nose. Tipping a child’s head backwards to ward off a bloody nose might stop it from running out of a nostril, but it sends the blood down the throat and into the stomach where it can cause vomiting. Furthermore, it’s easier to breathe the blood into the lungs when his head is tilted back.
  3. Vinegar Soothes Sunburns – While kids should be slathered in sunscreen to prevent skin damage, the occasional sunburn may still rear its ugly head. Folk wisdom holds that a vinegar compress takes the sting out of the sunburn, but emergency medicine physician Richard O’Brien doesn’t recommend applying acid to a burn. Instead, reach for cool compresses and Noxzema.
  4. Ipecac is a Safe Remedy for Ingestion of Dangerous Substances – Once upon a time, inducing vomiting with ipecac was common procedure when a child ingested something he shouldn’t. Health Watch Center insists that parents should throw out their bottles of ipecac, instead reaching instinctively for the phone to dial a poison control center (in the US 800-222-1212).
  5. People Having a Seizure Need a Bite Block – Every old movie shows an enterprising onlooker shoving a belt into the mouth of someone suffering a seizure, lest that person “swallow their own tongue.” It’s not possible to swallow your tongue, so use that time to clear the area of dangerous objects, and keep your fingers out of the patient’s mouth.
  6. Raw Steaks Cure Black Eyes – The idea that a black eye can be successfully treated with a slab of raw meat probably stems from the fact that cold compresses can reduce swelling. Reach for the ice instead of your uncooked dinner, however, because plastering a black eye with raw steak only introduces contaminants like E. coli to the eye.
  7. Putting the Head Between the Knees Stops Dizziness – Forcing a child to put his head between his knees when he feels faint might be advice your grandmother would have given, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s accurate. The child could still faint with his head down, falling forward and injuring himself.
  8. Paper Bags Are the Only Remedy for Hyperventilation – Breathing into a paper bag is a widespread remedy for hyperventilation, but it can actually be quite dangerous if it causes low oxygen levels. Rather than forcing a bag over his mouth, encourage a child to breathe slowly until he can relax on his own.
  9. Suck the Venom from a Snake Bite – Unless you’re a family filled with avid outdoors enthusiasts, the chances of a child being bitten by a snake are relatively slim. Should the unthinkable occur however, don’t cut into the wound or try to such the venom out with your mouth. Suction can further damage tissues, while introducing the bacteria from your mouth into the puncture wound. Instead, call emergency services immediately.
  10. Ice Baths are the Best Remedy for a High Fever – There’s something very scary about a high fever, especially when the sufferer is a child. Folk wisdom may state that the only route to relief is a dunk in ice water, but that’s actually more dangerous because it causes shivering, which raises core temperature.

Treating a minor injury is the work of a moment, but you should always contact a medical professional or seek emergency help if you feel that a more extensive injury is beyond the scope of your skills.

What to Look for in an Afterschool Nanny

afterschoolHiring an afterschool nanny can be the perfect solution for parents of school age children that need help in the afternoons during the school year. An afterschool nanny can supervise your children during this latchkey period of the day. She can help with homework and other school assignments, can pick your child up from school and drive him to and from afterschool activities and can do some household tasks that can free up your time and energy in the evenings. An afterschool nanny can be a wonderful helper to the working parent. So what should you look for when searching for an afterschool nanny? Here are some important considerations when making a hiring choice.

Does she genuinely enjoy working with this age group? Not every nanny is cut out to work with school aged children. Talk with candidates about the challenges that come with the age and get her input on how she’d handle those challenges. A good sense of humor, a lot of patience and the ability to really connect and communicate with kids are all important things to look for.

What is her availability? Because many afterschool nannies are college students, it’s important to talk about what her availability is for your child’s school year, not just her semester. Even if her school schedule works with your needs right now, can she commit to only taking classes during school hours during the next semester? Hiring a nanny can be a pretty big task. It isn’t something you want to do every 3 or 4 months.

Can she work during days off and school holidays? One of the advantages of having an afterschool nanny is that she can often provide all day care for your child during days off and school breaks. If this is important to you, find out how flexible her schedule is during those times. Some parents luck out and find a caregiver that makes work her scheduling priority and fits in her other obligations around your needs.

Is she mature enough to handle the responsibility? Even though your child is older, caring for her is still an important and demanding responsibility. Your nanny will be responsible for keeping her safe, handling discipline and behavior issues in an age appropriate and positive way and dealing with any emergencies that come up. Make sure that she has the maturity to handle all the things that will be expected of her.

Can she help your child with his homework? Helping a child complete daily homework and special assignments is a key responsibility for an afterschool nanny. Talk with her about her academic knowledge, especially in the subjects your child struggles with, her comfort level with providing homework help and her time management and study organization skills. Don’t assume that because she’s in college, she’ll be a great influence on your child. Many college students are struggling with ineffective habits themselves.

Does your child like her? The personality match between nanny and child becomes much more important as your child gets older. Your child’s personality, temperament and interests become more and more defined each year, and your child will have a different connection to each potential candidate. While this shouldn’t be the only factor you consider, the relationship between your child and your afterschool nanny will greatly influence the success of the arrangement.

Is she willing to do additional household tasks? Parents often look to their afterschool nanny for household help like grocery shopping, starting dinner, doing children’s or family laundry or general straightening up of the house. This extra help allows parents to stay on top of all the details that come with being a working parent. Before you begin interviewing nannies, decide exactly what tasks you want the nanny to be responsible for. By having a detailed list of expectations, parents can be sure that the nanny they hire is able and willing to tackle those extra responsibilities.

Is she a safe driver? Many afterschool nannies are responsible for picking their charges up from school and taking them to and from afterschool activities. If your nanny will be transporting your child, discuss safe driving procedures with her and include a Department of Motor Vehicles check in your background check. Make sure she fully understands how to ensure your child is restrained correctly and she knows the weight and height limits for booster seats and front seat passengers.

Is she within your budget? What an afterschool nanny will charge in your area will depend on many factors, including your location. Be honest about what you’re offering in both wages and benefits and work with potential candidates to find a wage that works for both of you. Afterschool nanny care can be a very affordable alternative to school sponsored afterschool programs and other options. Plus, you get all the other benefits that come with having someone working in your home.

18 Blogs Exploring the Merits of Children Learning to Play an Instrument

pianoOnce a child reaches middle school, the school will often offer orchestra or band as an elective class.  While it does cost money to rent the instrument, the benefits of learning to play far outweigh the expense. If your child has decided that he wants to enroll in band or orchestra, the next step is picking the instrument.  What are your options when it comes to paying for the instrument?  If your child isn’t particularly driven or musically inclined, why would you want to encourage him to play an instrument?  These questions and many others will be answered in the 18 blog articles below.

Picking an Instrument

The best way to pick an instrument is to try them all out.  If your child is small for his age, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for him to take up playing the tuba or bass. These six blog posts will give you some advice on how to pick the right instrument with your child.

Affording the Instrument

You may be wondering how in the world you are going to afford an instrument.  Well, in the beginning you won’t have to buy an instrument.  You could start with a keyboard if your child would like to learn to play the piano.  If your child wants to learn to play the violin, then you might consider renting an instrument because the size of the instrument changes as the child grows.  Take a look at these six blog entries and learn some of the options for affording an instrument.

Benefits of Learning an Instrument

Why should your child play an instrument?  By playing an instrument a child can learn to multi-task and to be more responsible. As your child becomes better at playing his instrument he will become more confident in other aspects of his life too.  Playing an instrument as a hobby can be an excellent stress reducing activity that could stay with him his entire life.  To learn more about the benefits of playing an instrument look at these six blog posts.