Want to Create a Bookworm? Start Reading Early and Often

NewsUSA  |  2016-03-15

Celebrate National Reading Month with LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow.

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - Most parents know the best way to get kids to read later in life is to read to them early and often. But even parents' best efforts to create bookworms sometimes fall flat -- especially in today's world of lights and action best seen from a screen.

Yet, studies continue to suggest that the benefits of reading from an early age not only teach kids the rules of syntax and expand their vocabulary, but, according to one study released last year, also activate the part of the brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language.

Because of its interest in closing the reading gap among children in this country, RRKidz Inc., home of the beloved children's brand Reading Rainbow, embarked on a Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2014. Through generous donations by its legions of fans, the company raised more than $6.4 million in 35 days.

As a result, Skybrary Family, the award-winning digital library of books and videos, was released. On the heels of this successful introduction, RRKidz Inc. is proud to announce the launch of Skybrary School, an educator-specific version with features designed to increase reading frequency and build literacy skills.

This new digital library, especially for early elementary school students (K-3) and their educators, offers close to 1,000 fiction and non-fiction books, all in the hopes of creating life-long readers and learners.

"Teachers devote their lives to giving students the tools needed to succeed in reading, and we want to make sure we are doing the same for them," said LeVar Burton. "With Reading Rainbow's Skybrary Family and now Skybrary School, we are offering a comprehensive solution to assist both educators and parents in providing engaging and relevant content to develop children's literacy and learning skills."

In addition, the service features more than 200 educational video field trips hosted by Burton, such as a trip to the White House, peeking inside the Mars Rover at NASA, behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil and other locations. Other benefits to Skybrary School include:

  • Working with acclaimed publishers such as National Geographic and Britannica to discover books that meet children's interest and reading level

  • Forty standards-aligned, themed lesson plans inspired by books and videos in the library

  • Instructional programs with flexible online and offline activities

  • A web-based subscription service with on-demand access to read and learn anytime, anywhere

  • New books and videos added to the service every week

RRKidz Inc. is also giving Skybrary School to 10,000 classrooms nationwide for free.

For more information, please visit www.readingrainbow.com.


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Fostering Your Child's Love for Science Could 'STEM' the Tide of Job Shortages

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-18

Finalists of the Young Scientist Challenge solve a problem through science.

(BPT) - Middle school is a make-or-break time for budding scientists.

The subject matter gets more difficult, test anxiety often occurs and other interests emerge. U.S. students rank 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries scored, according to the latest research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That lagging interest in STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - is contributing to an ongoing U.S. shortage of highly-skilled workers that may reach 3 million by 2018.

3M, a company rooted in science, understands the need for the next generation of science innovators, inventors and leaders. For decades, 3M scientists and engineers have developed products that solve problems and improve lives. A shortage of STEM-savvy workers will slow innovation across all industries.

If your child has a passion for science, encourage their curiosity. Here are some ideas from 3M science experts on how to further foster a love of science:

1. Find an after school program or STEM mentor.

A high-quality STEM after school program leads to improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers; increased STEM knowledge and skills; and higher likelihood of pursuing a STEM major in college according to a study from the Afterschool Alliance. Another option is to find a mentor. Teachers, college students and working professionals are often eager to share their knowledge with budding young scientists. Many universities and businesses encourage mentorship, and your school's science teachers might have some suggestions on where to find one that's right for your child.

2. Plan at home experiments.

According to 3M science mentors, taking science out of a book and applying it to real life is one of the best ways to spark an interest in science. You can find plenty of science experiments to conduct inside your home. A great resource is www.scienceofeverydaylife.com, which features fun activities that explain science principles, like how solar energy works by cooking a pizza with the sun or how chemical reactions function by making homemade ice cream.

3. Encourage exploration.

As interest grows, students are eager for more challenges. For instance, with the Summer Olympics on the horizon this year, a sport-loving student may want to explore more about the forces that impact gold medal-quality swimming, running or cycling. Linking science to another interest can further their passion.

4. Give them a challenge.

A range of opportunities exist for interested students at science-based summer camps, after school programs or fairs. If your child is already on a path of science experimentation and innovation, consider encouraging him or her to enter science challenges and competitions. Each year 3M and Discovery Education partner to develop the Young Scientist Challenge. Students in grades 5-8 can enter the contest by creating a one to two-minute video on a proposed solution to solve an everyday problem. All video entries must be submitted online at www.youngscientistchallenge.com by April 20, 2016.

5. Hit the road.

Going to an observatory or space museum is fun, but also a major learning opportunity. Before taking the trip, view the destination's website with your child and identify areas of particular interest. That will build anticipation and really amplify the visit.

Over its nine years of involvement in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, 3M has seen the tremendous impact a parent, family member or mentor can make in a child's curiosity and confidence in science. That foundation yields strong critical thinking skills and opens the door for rewarding career opportunities with lasting benefits.


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Find the Right Fit: 4 Important Summer Camp Qualities

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-18

(BPT) - As this time of year approaches, kids start staring at the clock, counting down the minutes until the last day of school. But as a parent, you're likely not wishing this time away so quickly, especially if you haven't finalized any day care or day camp plans.

The sheer number of summer day camp options can leave any parent feeling overwhelmed. And there's more to consider than just sing-alongs and friendship bracelets. The best camps provide your kids with lifelong memories and the skills they need to be successful. With an endless stream of possibilities, how do you navigate and find the best fit for your child?

Erin Cox, senior manager for Life Time Fitness' Kids Programming, shares four things you need to consider before signing your child up for a summer camp:

A history and well-trained staff

It's important to send your kids to a camp run by an organization you trust. There is something to be said about a camp that's been in operation for several years, and a well-trained staff definitely has something to do with it. The staff should be background checked and certified to take care of children on a daily basis. Before you sign up, ask about safety standards and what the camp's protocols are for camper-staff interactions.

A mix of activities

Whether it's a camp with a theme or a general kids' day camp, kids do well when presented with a variety of options when it comes to activities. From arts and crafts to field trips, sports, swimming and games, find a camp with activities your child will love. Your child will thrive at a camp that offers full days of play, thrilling field trips and healthy activities, like the camps at Life Time - The Healthy Way of Life Company. And don't forget to pack a swimsuit and sunscreen.

Healthy meals and snacks

Active kids need to be properly fueled during the day, so make sure whichever camp you choose provides adequate and healthy nutrition and time for breaks. Sugar-filled, processed foods are often the norm and it's always okay to question the menu. And, don't forget to ask about how the camp handles food allergies. Make sure whichever camp you choose makes nutrition and hydration a priority.

Flexible drop-off and pick-up options

Just because your kids have the summer off doesn't mean your schedule becomes more flexible. Look for camps that offer the option to drop them off early so you can still make to work on time. Similarly, many camps offer later pick up times, often key for working parents. Life Time Kids camps offer early drop off for just $20 per week if your kids are signed up for a camp that starts in the morning.

There's no need to worry about finding the right kids' camp when you know what to look for. Use this as a checklist and your child will be on their way to a summer full of fun and adventures. For more information on kids camp options visit lifetimefitness.com.


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Preventing Brain Drain: Important Aspects of a Summer Learning Program

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-16

(BPT) - Do you hear that? It's the cheering of students as they run through the hallways on the last day of school. They're excited for three months of playing outside with no teachers and no assignments. What will they get into this summer that will keep them entertained, active, using their brains and socializing with peers?

"It can be tempting for kids to fall into the old habit of lounging on the couch in front of the TV all day when out of school. Students often don't get an adequate mix of challenge and fun during the summer months," says Ellen Marks, Curriculum Director of Bricks 4 Kidz(R), an award-winning summer camp and after-school program. "Summer is an ideal time for them to take on new challenges, engage in critical thinking and have fun with peers in an energetic atmosphere."

Luckily, you have somewhere to turn to shift your children's summer break into a fun learning opportunity. The last day of school comes faster than you think, so there's no time to waste. If you're looking for a way to combat couch-potato syndrome and keep your child entertained, an exciting summer camp program may be just what your family needs. A pool of talented Bricks 4 Kidz camp teachers are waiting to help your children grow while having a blast. Your child's summer camp should:

Use relatable and engaging tools

LEGO Bricks are the ultimate informal learning tool, especially in the summer when kids are wishing for more fun playtime. Not only do they prompt kids to naturally practice methods of engineering through hands-on building, they also engage their imaginations and boundless creativity. Gears, motors, robotics, and LEGO computer software programs also help children grasp technology in ways they might not during the school year, so they'll experience a whole new level of amusement. When building with LEGO Bricks, it's only natural that kids will develop enhanced spatial awareness, visual processing, and fine motor skills. Even better, the Bricks 4 Kidz proprietary models and camp activities are centered around popular themes that kids love!

Get children away from TV and video games

Don't let your kids sit at home in front of a screen all summer. "Children need a chance to experience working in a group setting as well as on their own," says Michelle Cote, founder and president of Bricks 4 Kidz. "Group work allows them the opportunity to collaborate and learn about their peers, while working alone helps build self-confidence. Creative and imaginative play is also beneficial to child development, so help your kids get up off the couch and into an environment that encourages both playtime and learning."

Kids can easily avoid brain drain this summer when they learn through playing. Put them in a program that will employ their minds while having fun and making friends along the way.

To find a program in your area, visit www.bricks4kidz.com. You can learn more about their programs and new summer camps by searching for a location by state or zip code.


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New TIPS Program Focuses on Preventing Youth Sports Injuries

NewsUSA  |  2016-01-21

Educating yourself is key.

(NewsUSA) - It’s recognized as a "silent epidemic" among our nation’s youth.

We’re talking sports-related injuries. Every day nearly 8,000 young athletes sustain an injury bad enough to send them to an emergency room, and -- if that’s not chilling enough -- just look at these numbers from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • In the past year alone, 48 youths died due to sports injuries.

  • About 30,000 high school athletes are hospitalized every year.

  • Concussions account for 90 percent of high schoolers’ 300,000 annual head injuries.

That explains why a new program called "Athletic TIPS" (Towards Injury Prevention in Sports) has garnered the support of everyone from health care professionals to athletic directors to sports stars like football legend Michael Strahan. The retired New York Giants defensive end, in fact, narrates the introductory video on behalf of the not-for-profit group behind the initiative.

The program’s goal? To foster "a safer experience" for athletes at the kindergarten through college levels by focusing on the recognition, prevention and management of sports-related injuries -- all done through community workshops, online learning, and other grassroots initiatives.

"Athletic TIPS answers a critical need for educating school-age athletes, their parents, and advisors about sports-related injuries," says Ed Goren, the former vice-chairman of Fox Sports Media Group, who’s backing the initiative. "Hopefully, parents will feel more confident encouraging their sons and daughters to reap sports’ substantial benefits and life lessons."

The workshops target four key areas: concussion recognition and prevention; nutrition in sports management; preventing dehydration and heat-related conditions; and recognizing, managing, and preventing musculoskeletal injuries.

To learn more or schedule an Athletic TIPS Community Workshop in your area, visit www.TIPS4Sports.org.


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To Grandmother's House We Go: The Hazards of a Grandparent's Home

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-20

(BPT) - It is no secret that grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. From giving encouragement and life advice, to helping out as a caretaker, many turn to their grandparents for support. In fact, 72 percent of grandparents take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis, and 70 percent of them see their grandchildren at least once a week, according to the American Grandparents Association.

With an abundance of grandparents overseeing their grandchildren on an ongoing basis, it is particularly important they are aware of the dangers that lie within their household that may be harmful to children. One of the most common dangers includes leaving out medication that is easy to access. In fact, in three out of four emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a parent or grandparent, according to Safe Kids World Wide, a global organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injuries in children.

Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a family physician in Lexington, Kentucky, and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years, encourages conversation, awareness and education-surrounding children's home safety. McAllister says that each year in the U.S., thousands of children are seen in emergency departments for accidental medication exposures, which can be fatal. The typical scenario involves a curious child finding and ingesting unsecured medication.

"In almost 40 percent of cases, the medication belonged to a grandparent, and the medication was left in a purse or bag, a pillbox, or on a counter or nightstand," says McAllister. "It only takes a moment for children to find and swallow medication that can put their lives in danger. Parents and grandparents can protect the lives of the children they love by ensuring that all prescription and over-the-counter medicines in their homes are stored safely and securely."

Families, and grandparents specifically, should consider the following steps to ensure their medications are not available to their grandchildren:

  • Keep medication up high and out of sight of children. The orange bottle medications usually come in is bright and appealing to children. To them it may look like a toy that makes noise when shaken, or a fun game with pieces that can easily go straight into their mouth.

  • Be absolutely sure the bottle is closed and secure with the safety lock. With a regular schedule of taking meds, it may be tempting for seniors to leave bottle tops loose for easy access each time the medicine needs to be taken.

  • Lock up your medication in a designated spot. Med-Master offers a variety of durable, flexible medication storage solutions that feature locking options including a 3-digit combination lock, or a wireless battery operated RFID lock, to maximize security. In addition to being a locking storage unit, once opened, options include a pill-sorting tray for organization, a magnifying glass with LED light for easy label reading, as well as a magnetic dry erase kit for important reminders and notes.

For more information, visit www.mmfind.com/med-master.


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New Moms Face New Challenges: Tips to Prioritize Your Wellness

Brandpoint  |  2016-01-14

(BPT) - The smiles, the soft coos and yes, even that now all-too-familiar cry – it’s only been a few months but already you can’t picture life without your little one. You’re constantly focused on their every movement and will do anything to make sure they have what they need. But while you’re focused on your baby’s happiness and health, who’s doing the same for you?

“It’s common for new moms to put the needs of their baby first,” says Dr. Jessica Shepherd, a practicing OB/GYN, women’s health expert and founder of Her Viewpoint, a premier online women’s health community. “While it’s a natural tendency for most mothers, it’s critical they don’t ignore their own health. My resounding message to all new moms is that the healthier you are, the better you’ll be able to take care of your newborn.”

To better take care of yourself so you can ensure your overall wellness and that of your child, Dr. Shepherd offers these five tips:

  • Manage your expectations. Your baby’s arrival didn’t come with a cape so don’t expect to be Super Mom. It’s OK to ask for help when you need it, and if something doesn’t go the way you planned, don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn from the situation and move on.

  • Address stress urinary incontinence. A common result of pregnancy or childbirth is stress urinary incontinence (SUI) – bladder leaks triggered by everyday activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise. Now, women with SUI can have the freedom to live without worrying about their next leak! Poise Impressa Bladder Supports are the first over-the-counter, internal product designed to help stop leaks before they happen. Safely inserted into the vagina like a tampon, Poise Impressa Bladder Supports gently lifts the urethra to help prevent leaks for up to eight hours every day. Note that new moms with SUI should wait at least three months after childbirth before trying Poise Impressa Bladder Supports, but once they do, Impressa can help give them the freedom and confidence to live active, fulfilled lives.

  • Stay active. Yes, being a new mom naturally keeps you pretty active, but it’s also good to take some time for activity that focuses on you instead of your child. Ask your partner, family member or friend to babysit once a week so you can go for a run, hit the gym, take a yoga class or find some other physical activity that reinvigorates you.

  • Don’t skip the most important meal of the day. What did you have for breakfast today? If you routinely skip this meal because you’re so focused on getting the bottle ready, stop. Studies show a good breakfast can leave you feeling more satisfied and empowered with more energy, perfect for taking care of a child.

  • Set an appropriate bedtime… for yourself. Yes, bedtimes aren’t just for your youngsters; they’re good for you as well. Many moms make the mistake of supplementing a lack of sleep with extra caffeine or sugar, exposing them to harmful health effects and weight gain. Instead of spending that last hour of the day in front of the TV or iPad, try going to bed earlier. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel in the morning.

New motherhood can be the most rewarding experience of your life and it can also be the most taxing, particularly if you haven’t supported your own wellness. However, if you place some much-needed emphasis on you, there’s no reason this first year can’t be as enjoyable for you as it is for your baby. To learn more about how to manage bladder leaks as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, or as a result of other causes, visit Poise.com.


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