Using Back Packs Safely

Monday, August 27, 2012

Backpacks are handy for carrying books-and lots of other things. But if they’re not used right, they can strain muscles and even cause back pain.

Backpack safety is important for everyone. It's especially important for children, who can be hurt by regularly carrying too much weight or by not wearing their backpacks safely.

Choose the right backpack

Look for these features:

• Light weight. Leather backpacks may look nice, but other materials, like canvas or nylon, weigh less.

• Wide, padded shoulder straps. A loaded pack will dig into shoulders if the straps are too skinny.

• Waist belt. This is an important feature. It takes some weight off of the back and transfers it to the hips.

• Handy compartments, the more the better. They help distribute the weight evenly. They also make packs easier to organize.

• Padded back. This keeps sharp edges from digging into the back.

• Wheels. These are nice if you or your child needs to carry a lot. But check with your child's school to make sure they’re allowed. Remember that these packs will still have to be carried up stairs. And they can get messy when pulled through mud or snow.

Pack it safely

• Experts say a child shouldn’t carry more than 15% to 20% of his or her weight. Don’t guess-use your bathroom scale to weigh the loaded pack.

• Pack the heaviest items closest to the back. Packs with compartments make this easier to do.

• Talk to your child about using his or her locker to keep from carrying everything around all day.

Lift it safely

• Never bend down from the waist to pick up or set down a heavy pack.

• Always squat down, bending at the knee and keeping your back straight.

• If you need to, you can put one knee on the floor and the other knee in front of you while you lift the pack and swing it around to your back.

Wear it safely

• Pack wearers should use both shoulder straps. It may seem easier or more comfortable to sling the pack over just one shoulder, but that’s a bad habit that can lead to back or shoulder pain.

• Always use the waist belt and tighten all the straps so the pack fits snugly.

• Make sure your child stands up straight while wearing a backpack. If he or she must lean forward, the pack is too heavy.

• If your child is having back pain or neck soreness, talk to your doctor. Encourage your children to tell you about any pain or soreness.

Extra tips for hikers

• Hikers can carry a lot more weight in their packs. But it's still important to follow some safety tips:

• In the weeks before a big hike, use stretching and strengthening exercises to get your muscles in shape, especially your trunk.

• Stand up straight while wearing your pack. It may seem easier to lean forward because you don’t have to use your muscles as much. But it’s bad for your back, because you’re making your spine do all the work.

• Learn several ways to lift a heavy backpack. For example:

• Face the back of your pack, with its shoulder straps facing you. With your knees slightly bent and one leg forward, slide the pack up to your thigh. Put one arm through its shoulder strap and swing the pack onto your back.

• Have a friend hold the pack for you while you insert your arms into the straps.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

11 Tips for Kindergarten Parents

Monday, August 20, 2012

Becoming involved in your child’s education pays off in many ways. Parent involvement strengthens schools and shows children that you value learning. Research shows that students whose parents are involved in their education are more likely to earn higher grades, score better on standardized tests, and attend college.

What’s more, you’ll benefit directly by taking an active role. You’ll meet other parents and quickly learn the ins and outs of your child’s school. Read on for some ways to become active and make a difference in your child’s education.

1. Start early. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. You don’t have to wait until parent-teacher conferences to get to know your kindergartner’s teacher. Sometime during the first week or so of school, find a moment to say a quick hello. Or send a handwritten note or a personal email. Ask the teacher whether there is anything she needs. Find out how the teacher prefers to be contacted. This will set a positive tone for the year.

2. Help out in the classroom. Most kindergarten teachers welcome help from enthusiastic parents. What you do in the classroom will depend on what the teacher needs. It may include preparing materials for lessons and art projects, reading to students, or making copies of worksheets. If you’re unable to commit to a regular schedule, let your child’s teacher know that you still would like to help out with special projects.

3. Become a room parent. Many kindergarten teachers assign one or two parents to plan class parties and other special activities and to coordinate communication between the teacher and the parents. Being a room parent is generally a yearlong assignment, so make sure you can commit to it. It’s a great way to get to know the teacher!

4. Volunteer from home. If you can’t make it into the classroom during the day, let the teacher know you’d like to help out in other ways. You could make phone calls to other parents in the evening, help prepare materials for lessons, and more. Bringing your volunteer ethic home shows your child that school is important. It will also help strengthen your connection with the teacher.

5. Be a special guest. Visit your child’s classroom to share something special about yourself, such as your occupation, your cultural background, or an interesting hobby. Your child will be proud to let everyone know you’re her parent!

6. Learn about your child’s school. Read the school handbook to learn about school policies. Stay informed by reading school and parent-teacher group newsletters. If the school has a website, check it regularly for updates and information.

7. Reach out to other parents. Look for opportunities to get to know the parents of your child’s classmates. Volunteer to chaperone field trips. Attend class parties and assemblies. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself, and be sure to exchange phone numbers and email addresses. The other parents will be an invaluable support system during the first year of school and beyond.

8. Attend school events. Make it a point to go to assemblies, open houses, art shows, and other schoolwide events, even ones your child isn’t directly involved with. School events are a great place to meet staff members and other parents, and going together will help your child feel more at home in his new school.

9. Talk with your child about school. When your child comes home from school, ask specific questions to draw her out. Instead of saying “How was your day?” ask “What was the best thing that happened today at school?” and “Tell me one new thing that you learned today in kindergarten.”

10. Show him that school matters. Praise your child’s efforts. Show him how wonderful his schoolwork is by posting artwork and school papers on the refrigerator for everyone to see. Communicate the idea, in both words and actions, that school is important.

11. Join the PTO or PTA. Your school parent group is a terrific way to learn about your child’s school. You’ll forge lasting connections with the parents you meet, and you’ll have a role in making your child’s school a fun and exciting place to learn.

See more information at

Attachment Parenting for Young Ones

Monday, August 6, 2012

Attachment Parenting is a style of parenting that many parents and professionals believe is best for both caregiver and baby. It stresses the importance of touch, nurturing, seeing to a baby’s cries and other positive discipline options like distracting, redirecting and guiding a child.

Attachment Parenting’s main theory is that when children’s needs are met in a positive and consistent manner by a caregiver early in life, they learn to trust and thrive…and grow!

Many believe the earlier in a child’s life this attachment begins, the better. Of course an infant relies on a caregiver for almost all of their needs. Brain development, and therefore all growth and development, rely on such supportive, nurturing behaviors.

Beware of placing infants on a prescribed “feeding schedule,” rather feed them when they are hungry. Beware too of the old wives tale that babies can be spoiled if they’re picked-up “too often”. If children don’t have this trust and bonding early, they may not learn to form healthy attachments later in life. They may suffer from insecurity, lack of empathy, and in extreme cases, anger and attachment disorders.

This is a general overview of the main ideas of Attachment Parenting. Lately there have been concerns which need to be considered, like:

Babies should not sleep in an adult bed…it is far too dangerous. Rollovers or suffocations are a major concern. Babies can have a bassinet or crib close.

The bottom line is that all types of secure attachment are vital for physical, emotional, moral, and social development of children.

Carol Cochard Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist