Getting ready for preschool

  • Written by Maren Schmidt, M.Ed.


Mornings are cooler. The sun rises later. The excitement of school beginning wafts in the air. These are my memories when school started in mid-September. In two or three weeks, school resumes, and for many young children, it will be their first school experience.

The first day of preschool or kindergarten is probably more traumatic for Mom and Dad, than it is for our Emily’s and Eric’s. Preschool is our first big step in letting our children go, if only for a few hours a day. As parents, we wonder, "Will they do all right without me in a new situation?" The question we need to ask is, "Will I be okay when I leave them?"

Most children take to preschool like a duck to water. The children that have difficulty adjusting usually have parents that are having trouble making the change.

Betsy’s mom dropped her off with the parting words, "If your tummy hurts, Mommy will come and get you." It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out which preschooler had a stomach ache every day for two weeks. Her mom said, "I guess she’s not ready for preschool."

Brewster threw a tantrum every day upon his 8 o’clock arrival to school. After a few days, I learned that this three-year-old had always slept to 8:30 each morning.

Tomas resisted getting in the car to come to school. After a phone discussion with his father, we discovered that his grandmother, who had lived with Tomas all his life, had moved away two weeks previously.

To make the adjustment into preschool easy on your family, ask these questions:

1. Are we emotionally ready to let go?

Do we have a plan of what to do with our time when our child is in school?

2. Is our child emotionally ready for a new situation?

Have there been any significant changes in our lives in the past two months, such as re-location or a new job that could affect the emotional center of our child?

3. Is our family physically ready for school?

Is our child on a sleeping and eating schedule that works with the school schedule? Also, be careful to not return from a week or two vacation a couple of days before starting preschool.

4. Is our child recovering from an illness or on medication that could make him or her drowsy, cranky or hyperactive? Some allergy medications and antibiotics affect alertness and energy levels.

All members of the family should be positive and excited about this first step into a larger world. A few days before school starts, arrange to take your child for a fifteen-minute visit to his or her school in order to meet teachers and become familiar with the facilities.

On the first day, exude the message, "I know you’ll have fun," by saying a quick goodbye and leaving with a smile, even if you feel like crying through every pore in your body. You’ll also need this advice in twelve to fifteen years when leaving children at college.

In my twenty-five years of experience, children cry when separating for less than two minutes. For a mom and dad, it’s a long two minutes, but two minutes just the same. If children cry for over five minutes, it is usually because they are running a fever, didn’t get enough sleep the night before, are hungry, or all of the above, which helps make a clear cut decision about whether to give a child more time to calm down or to send a child home.

After you leave your child at preschool, have a plan for that morning — join friends for coffee, grocery shop, go to work, etc. My project was to take a shower by myself for the first time in four years.

Enjoy being the parents of a preschooler. It’s exhilarating, exhausting and exceptional. Enjoy. Your preschoolers will be e-mailing home from college before you know it.

Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Maren Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is author of Building Cathedrals Not Walls: Essays for Parents and Teachers. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit Copyright 2011.

Getting ready for back to school

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Local Evergreen Beauty Colleges (Everett & Bellevue campuses) are hosting a back to school event for the local families. Evergreen Beauty College will be providing free haircuts for all kids going back to school (pre-school to grade 12). They also will be providing free mini manicures for kids and their moms as well as free eye treatments in their spa for parents as well. Evergreen Beauty College has asked Bouncy House to donate 3 inflatables for the kids to be able to slide and jump around for entertainment. Applebee’s has generously donated 105 - $20 gift certificates for each campuses for the first 105 families that come for this fun event each day. We will have fun music, balloons, gift certificates, entertainment, haircuts & mini manicures and more for all the local families in the Everett and Bellevue area – and the best part is it’s FREE and outdoors!

The Everett campus will have their back to school event on Wednesday, August 17, from 12 – 3:30 p.m. and the Bellevue Campus will do it the following day on Thursday, August 18th from 12 – 3:30 p.m. Evergreen Beauty College will also have gift cards on sale for 50% off only that day for families that want to stock up. We have nearly 50 stylists at each campus eager to put smiles on our kids faces. Please help us get the word out and feel free to come out the event as well. It should be a great time for us and the kids and parents! All are welcome! For directions, you can go to or our address’ are below:

• Wednesday, August 17th, 12-3:30 p.m. Everett Campus: 802 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett WA 98208

• Thursday, August 18, 12-3:30 p.m.Bellevue Campus: 14045 NE 20th Street, Bellevue WA 98007

Summer reading programs: a fun and educational way for kids to keep busy

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) — Motivating your children to read during the summer can be a daunting task. After all, once school lets out, the last thing most kids want to think about is more books.

However, studies show that children who read several books during the summer maintain or surpass the reading skills developed during the previous school year. The key is to find ways to motivate kids to read during the lazy days of summer - and to make it fun.

From incorporating movie watching into their summer reading routine to rewarding them with trips to the water park, you can find many ways to give kids the incentive to read during the summer.

Give kids an incentive to read

Just telling your kids that their grades will be better next year by reading during the summer won’t work. Children often need something tangible to motivate them to do something that might be farther down their list than other summer activities. There are several summer reading programs available, such as TD Bank’s Summer Reading Program, that offer rewards. TD Bank’s program rewards kids with $10 for reading 10 books over the summer, with the money deposited into a new or existing Young Saver bank account. More about the program can be found at

You can also offer kids incentives that show them the benefits of hard work. Incorporate a bonus into their weekly allowance — one book per week equals a certain amount of bonus allowance. Or set a total goal that, if reached, will reward them with that long-sought video game, pair of athletic sneakers or trip to their favorite restaurant or amusement park.

Another motivational tool is to choose books that have been made into movies, like "Twilight" or "Harry Potter," says Elizabeth K. Warn, president of the TD Charitable Foundation and senior vice president of community development for TD Bank.

"Watch the movies after your child has read the book and compare and contrast the differences," says Warn. "If the movie is out in theatres during the summer, use a trip to the movies as extra motivation to read the books."

Be proactive in their reading programs

Just like homework, sometimes kids need that extra push to meet their summer reading goals. When time permits, sit down with your child while he or she is reading and help with difficult words or phrases by having them read out loud. This helps reduce frustration, especially for very young readers.

Another way to keep your kids excited about summer reading is to turn the experience into a group "play date." Coordinate with other parents in your neighborhood to create a summer reading book club and take turns coordinating the reading sessions weekly, biweekly or monthly throughout the summer.

Incorporate family activities into kids’ summer reading

Like most families, you probably have a family vacation scheduled at some point during the summer. Leading up to your vacation, try to find books at your local library or book store that tell stories about the area where you will be vacationing. If you are planning a family day trip to the zoo or beach, find books about animals or beach activities. Finally, find ways to have fun discussions with your kids about the books they are reading. Ask plenty of questions to get them talking about the characters, stories and what they liked or disliked about the books. The key, again, is to stay involved and find ways to motivate your kids.

Protecting your kids from cyberbulling

  • Written by ARA
The days of the schoolyard bully who set out to take your lunch money or shove you in a locker seem like a dream to kids today. Today’s kids face bullies who utilize technology to take schoolyard antagonism to a whole new and oftentimes dangerous level.

Cyber bullying is the use of technology and information by a minor to torment, threaten, harass, embarrass and otherwise humiliate another child. The Internet, social networking sites, cell phones and other digital and interactive technologies are used to take the bully’s message to a greater audience than ever before, giving them more power to leave their victims humiliated on a global scale.

"It is much easier to bully online than in person," says Dr. Mirjam Quinn, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Argosy University, Chicago. "It is easier to reach a large audience online, there is less, if any, adult supervision governing online behavior and the Internet provides a — sometimes false — sense of anonymity that may lead individuals to behave more aggressively than they would in real life. It is also easier to dehumanize a victim online, since the bully doesn’t see, thus can ignore, the victim’s immediate emotional reaction."

"Victims who experience cyber bullying reveal that they were afraid or embarrassed to go to school. In addition, research has revealed a link between cyber bullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic problems, school violence and delinquent behavior. Cyber-bullied youth also report having suicidal thoughts, and there have been a number of examples in the United States where youth who were victimized ended up taking their own lives," says Eric Kurt, academic director of the Web Design & Interactive Media program at The Art Institute of Indianapolis.

How do your protect your kids? Set appropriate boundaries and monitor their activity.

"The Internet really isn’t as anonymous as it seems — it is very much real life," says Quinn. "Your parenting rules in real life can and should very much inform the decisions you make about parenting rules regarding cell phone and Internet use."

"It is important that you have access to the technology your child uses the most," says Kurt. If your child has a cell phone, you should communicate that you can and will monitor the text messages that are received and sent. "It’s not a matter of privacy invasion, but of being a parent active in the life of your child," says Kurt.

"Parents should look at and set privacy settings on the sites their children are using. They should also have a list of user accounts that a child has created on the Web, along with the passwords," says Kurt.

Both Kurt and Quinn encourage parents to talk to their kids about appropriate behavior online. Teach them to never post something on the Internet or send a text message that they wouldn’t say to a parent or family member. "Once you send a message or an image out into the world via the Internet or text message, you have no control over where it goes and who will receive it," says Kurt. "Assume that anything posted can, and often will, be made public. If you don’t post anything disrespectful, irresponsible or vulgar, then you don’t have to worry about who is viewing it."

"If bullying ever crosses the line into intimidation or sexual harassment, or affects your child’s ability to feel safe when she is around the bully, then the other child’s parents, the school, community leaders and (depending on the severity of the situation) the police should be contacted immediately. Your child may initially become angry with you for ‘overreacting,’ but you are doing the right thing by showing him that you will take care of him and keep him safe no matter what," says Quinn.

Liberty, Freedom and Responsibility

  • Written by Maren Schmidt, M.ED.
"Freedom is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented with a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast." — Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Liberty. An intriguing word, coming from the Latin word "liber" which is the bark of a tree that was used for writing. The word for read in Latin is ‘liber;" the word for book is "libre." Liberty, library, literacy all connect back to the bark of a tree.

In ancient Rome, the test of whether a person was a free man or a slave, was determined if the person could read or write. In many cultures teaching a slave to read was punishable by death. Freedom from slavery and having the rights of a citizen depended on one’s ability to read and write.

Years ago, I worked on learning Russian for about six months. As it happens, life intervenes and when I came back to it, it all looked like funny Greek letters, again. It was a humbling experience. This voracious reader couldn’t remember the Russian alphabet.

Perusing National Geographic magazines, I notice signs in a multitude of languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic. Unable to decipher a word, I realize that in those cultures, I am illiterate. There, I would be less than a first class citizen. I would be subject to being unemployed, or victimized due to my inability to use the language fluently. Unable to read and write, I would lose many freedoms. In a new culture it would be important to exercise my right to learn to read and write, and regain those freedoms.

Today in America, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are more than 90 million adults who cannot read well enough to understand this article, which measures at an 8.8 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Index.

Today we celebrate our country’s Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

With these words, I believe our founding fathers saw every person as having a right to life, a right to learn how to read, which is liberty, and the right to pursue happiness; rights that we as responsible citizens should be constantly debating and protecting in order to safeguard our freedoms.

Liberty is a right. Liberty becomes freedom when we take the responsibility to learn to read and continue to read. Freedom comes from accepting responsibility for having a right. Freedom is earned by exercising a right. Freedom is earned by taking responsibility. There is no freedom until liberty is joined with responsibility. To remain free, we must read and ensure literacy for everyone. Then freedom can ring, from every mountainside, everywhere for everyone. Our children deserve no less.