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For Autism Initiative, Sesame Street Looks to Our Neighborhood

TV’s “Sesame Street” has long been populated with flightless birds, singing frogs, cuddly monsters and children of all sorts. And as the number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum continues to grow in the world at large, they are coming to Sesame Street as well. To help out with the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative, Sesame Workshop turned to a neighborhood in Sherman Oaks,...

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This Holiday Shopping Keeps Vacation Dreams Afloat

Since 2006, Autism on the Seas has organized and staffed vacations (on cruises and at resorts on land) for families with children and adults with a variety of special needs – from autism to Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other types of challenges. Now the organization has launched a nonprofit arm that will help fund these vacations as well. The Autism on the Seas Foundation will award varying amounts of...

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Olympians Help Students Go for the Gold

When Mom or Dad suggests setting down the Xbox and getting some exercise or bypassing a soda in favor of water, a child is as likely to roll his eyes or put up a fight as he is to comply. But when the same message comes from an Olympic gold medalist or a Paralympian who has defied the odds, the kid might listen – and even start to change his...

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Are Those Toys Safe, Ducky?

The baby board book, featuring lots of colors and textures meant to stimulate developing brains, was labeled “organic.” Josh Kasteler tested it anyway, and found that the packaging contained such a high level of phthalates – chemicals widely believed to disrupt hormone levels – that it contaminated the book as well. Kasteler, a biochemist and molecular biologist who founded Santa Monica-based Safe Ducky ( in June, tests toys and other...

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Motherhood and Managing the Holiday Blues

Most of us have an image in our minds of the perfect family holiday: Sitting together around a table eating a delicious meal and sharing family stories, or maybe cuddled in front of the fireplace with beautiful decorations all around, exchanging gifts. But these pictures often aren’t as close to our reality as we would like. The pressure to create beautiful holiday memories, coupled with the everyday pressures of being...

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Holiday Recipes From Milo and Olive

When Erin Eastland was moving to Southern California from New York in 2005, it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted to call Santa Monica home. It helped that she and her family scoped out the city on a Wednesday. “We came upon the farmers’ market and I was like, ‘We’re done,’” says the mom of two, who is now executive chef at Milo and Olive, a...

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Business-Minded Parents Make a Playdate Connection

When Lisa Fisher rolled into the launch party for the parent networking group Playdate Connection – trailed by her 2-year-old son, Drake, who has autism – she had no idea what to expect. “I didn’t know what the word ‘networking’ meant,” she says. “I’d never sold anything to strangers before. I was nervous.” It turned out she had nothing to fear. As soon as the paraplegic entrepreneur started putting out...

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Keeping It Real For Your Child Actor

Every parent is proud of their little darling’s accomplishments, from the finger paintings on the refrigerator to – in the case of some of our Hollywood-bred children – the National commercial airing during the Super Bowl. We adults recognize the difference between these two accomplishments, but kids might feel much more excited about their artwork on the fridge than about the day they spent on set eating cereal. And that’s...

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L.A. Parent Special Needs Resource Fair Program Guide

  Our 2015 Special Needs Resource Fair was held November 15 at the Skirball Cultural Center and featured entertainment from The Miracle Project and Ballet for All Kids, along with more than 40 tables from businesses and services that are resources to families in our community.  Click here to view our Special Needs Program Guide.


Woodcrest School Announces Expansion

Parents in the San Fernando Valley now have a new private middle school option for sixth through eighth grade. In 2014, Woodcrest School in Tarzana formed a strategic advisory committee to investigate the need for a middle school in the West San Fernando Valley. On average, private middle school options have annual tuitions over $17,000 and campuses that can intimidate students matriculating from small private-school environments. The committee requested that...

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Handling School Admissions Interviews Like a Boss

While private schools vary in curriculum, education philosophy and how many students they accept each term, they all share the same goal when interviewing prospective students. They use the interview to make sure the student is going to fit in well at the school, enjoy themselves and be able to thrive in the academic environment. “We are looking for families that would be a good fit for the mission of...

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Tips For Buying Your Child an Instrument

The holidays are at hand and you want to surprise your musically inclined child with a brand-new instrument. Or maybe your rental is due in a month and you would rather put money into an instrument you own. First, I want to applaud you for making this important investment into your child’s musical education and enrichment. A top-quality instrument can provide enjoyment for many years. But what do I look...

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Dr. Shefali Tsabary: Promoting ‘Conscious’ Parenting

Becoming a parent changes us in the most profound and irrevocable ways, and it is often our children who motivate and inspire us to grow into our best selves. Through everyday interactions and ordinary moments, we have the opportunity to create a meaningful connection with our children and nurture a deep sense of resilience, tolerance and self-acceptance in them. But first we need to better understand ourselves, says Shefali Tsabary,...

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Archer School for Girls Awarded Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant

A student team from the Archer School for Girls has come up with a clever idea to influence water conversation in face of California’s ongoing drought. Their idea has also won a $7,000 grant from Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam. Archer’s team of 20 students and faculty mentors Michael Carter and Shane Berning created a proposal for an inexpensive, compact faucet-mounted water meter with an adjustable aerator encouraging conservation and responsible water consumption....

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5 Baby Sleep Challenges During Holiday Travel

Traveling and parenting during the holidays can be strenuous enough without a baby. Add a little one to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster! Trying to get from one family get-together to the next can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep schedule, leading to less sleep for everyone in the family. Read on to learn how to tackle the most common travel-related baby sleep challenges including plane...

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Backpack Drive Supports Pasadena Kids In Need

This fall, Flintridge Prep students are hosting a Community Backpack Drive to support the children who are part of Pasadena Families in Transition, an organization within the Pasadena Unified School District. In a recent homeless population count done in the city of Los Angeles, there were 4,727 homeless individuals in the San Gabriel Valley, including many families with young children in the Los Angeles school districts. The goal of the...

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Actor Taye Diggs attends the Mixed Me Book Launch + Multiculti Mixer on October 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Mixed Up Clothing, Inc.)

Actor Taye Diggs Celebrates Diversity With New Children’s Book

Helping kids of mixed race and culture celebrate their uniqueness with confidence was the focus of a recent Multiculti Mixer in West Los Angeles featuring a special appearance and book reading by actor Taye Diggs. The event was hosted by Multiculti Corner, a culturally diverse community of people with the intention to recognize, embrace, and celebrate what it means to be a part of a blended family. The co-host of...

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Tackling Homework Procrastination

Do you often feel that you need to push your child to get started with homework? Are you finding that your child forgets to record certain tasks, books or schoolwork? Some schools start homework as early as prekindergarten, so our children are being challenged at an early age to learn responsibility, organization and multitasking. As children move to higher grade levels, they often find it more difficult to multitask multiple...

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Tips For Health Insurance Open Enrollment

If you dread your health insurance plan’s open enrollment period, with its fine print to read and new plans to ponder, Elizabeth Abbott can tell you why. “The reason it’s hard is that you know it’s important,” says Abbott, director of the California Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA). “This is a decision that has consequences for you and your family.” You shouldn’t put this decision off until the last...

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Mathnasium Hosts 5th Annual TriMathlon

Conejo Valley-area students put their math skills on display Oct. 18, earning money for local schools and winning prizes for themselves during the Mathnasium of Thousand Oaks 2015 TriMathlon contest. In the U.S. and Canada, Mathnasium TriMathlon participants raised $37,000 for local schools. Here are the top three Mathnasium of Thousand Oaks winners in grades 2 through 5: Grade 5: Naren Krishnan, Red Oak Elementary School, 1st Place; Renee Hong,...

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Roosevelt High Students Address National Education Leaders

The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools has announced that one of its schools, Math, Science & Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School (MSTMA), made history this week as the first California school to address the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). Students made their presentation during the Education Forum at the association’s annual Leadership Summit. The SETDA Leadership Summit brings together leaders from more than 40 state departments of education,...

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Turning Point School Announces Dr. Laura Konigsberg as Next Head of School

The Turning Point School Board of Trustees announced last week that Dr. Laura Konigsberg has been appointed the next Head of School beginning July 1. She will succeed Deborah Richman who, in the beginning of 2015, shared her plan to retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year after 28 years of service. “Unanimously chosen by the Board of Trustees, Laura Konigsberg was a standout among an impressive field...

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Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies Choose ColorSoundation Music Curriculum

Kids 'R' Kids Learning Academies, a national early-childhood education franchise with three decades of experience, has adopted a unique music curriculum called ColorSoundation for its franchises across the U.S. This teaching system was developed by Los Angeles-based musician and teacher Shiho Yamamoto to teach very young children the fundamentals of music through the integration and interplay of colors with sounds. Yamamoto is also the Founder of the West Los Angeles-based...

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Christopher Fulton, Ph.D.: Helping Anxious Teens (and Parents) on the Road to College

In the last two decades, there has been a noticeable shift in the level of academic and extracurricular expectations placed on college-bound teens. A 4.0 or above GPA and top SAT scores must be accompanied by demonstrations of leadership at school, volunteering in the community and “passion and commitment” to an activity. Pressure to be accepted into the “best” college has created a new type of education “hysteria” among parents...

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13-year-old Chef Cooks With Food Greats at Autism Speaks Gala

By the time Chase Bailey was 10, he was hooked on cooking shows. He discussed best methods for caramelizing onions with his mom and filled the family DVR with recipes for pizzas baked in brick ovens and tortillas filled with mahi mahi and mango-radish salsa. At 11, he started his own cooking blog, followed by his YouTube channel, “Chase 'N Yur Face.” And in October, the Irvine 13-year-old, who is...

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UCLA Professor Shares Body-Shaming Research With New Roads Students

While it’s no surprise that, particularly for young women, body-shaming causes emotional harm, it turns out that merely labeling a child as “too fat’ may trigger a hormonal response from the body that keeps him or her overweight even a decade later. This discovery was made by Dr. Janet Tomiyama, a distinguished professor in Health and Social Psychology at UCLA, who recently discussed her research with New Roads School’s GLASS...

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Actress Fran Drescher Leads Summit Urging Focus on Cancer Prevention

She is best known for her humor and signature voice, but actress Fran Drescher is using her star power to raise awareness about potentially cancer-causing toxins in our food, cosmetics and cleaning supplies. Drescher, a cancer survivor and comic actress best known for hit TV series “The Nanny,” hosted the inaugural Cancer Schmancer Women’s Health Summit at Oct. 13 at Skirball Cultural Center. The day-long conference included panel discussions on...

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Cure Cancer In Costume

The L.A. Cancer Challenge, taking place from 7 a.m.-noon Oct. 25 at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, isn’t your typical fundraising event. Organized by the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, this 5K/10K Walk/Run really gets into the Halloween spirit. Participants are encouraged to come in costume, so if you aren’t a stellar athlete, you could still win a prize for costume design. (No need to worry about running...

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What To Do When Your Kids Argue

Sibling rivalry is one of the most discussed topics in my practice. “How do I get my children to stop fighting? How do I help them get along?” No matter what the age difference between the children, this is an area of no escape. Common areas of conflict include siblings sharing rooms, siblings being rude to one another and siblings arguing when a friend is over. And when rivalries flare...

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What You’ll Learn At School Open House

While searching for private schools for their son Kevin (now in college), Tony and Kristy Adler of Bel Air eagerly attended several open houses at L.A. schools with him. They quickly learned the do’s and don’ts of open-house protocol. “We were doomed at one school from the beginning when I grabbed our son’s name badge. Apparently, that was one of the tests, to see if a child recognizes his own...

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How to Choose a Child-Centered Preschool

Extensive research shows that attending preschool helps children develop social and emotional skills, improves their reading and language development, and gives them the opportunity to make decisions and ask questions in a safe environment. Regardless of their socio-economic status, race or location, children who have attended preschool are more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and less likely to repeat a grade, have substance-abuse problems or commit a...

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Kids Help Kids With Your Golden Ticket

Community involvement and philanthropy are common dinnertime conversation topics for the Woods family, so it’s no surprise that Lisa and Josh Woods of West Los Angeles fully supported their children’s decision to start their own nonprofit to help less-fortunate kids. Created by 11-year-old twins Ryan and Jack, and their 8-year-old sister, Marley, Your Golden Ticket gives disadvantaged youth an opportunity to experience the excitement of live events such as ball...

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STEM Learning In L.A.

People can’t seem to talk about education any more without using four letters: S-T-E-M. STEM sounds much more exciting than when we used to call it simply “science,” “math” or “computer class.” And STEM topics are now being touted not just as school subjects for aspiring techies, but as life skills vital for all kids. “At its essence, science is a way for human beings to understand the world,” says...

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Have a Fabulous Fiesta Birthday!

Lucky and I love throwing parties, celebrating with friends, laughing, drinking and eating. Lucky is the chef of the house and I am the party planner – but neither of us likes doing the dishes! Here are our tips for a great fiesta with plenty of fun ideas for kids: Mix up the guest list. Invite your most fun friends and your most interesting friends. Sometimes, these are the same...

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Healthy Food Tips from Thyme Café & Market

Chef Maire Byrne, founder of Thyme Café & Market in Santa Monica (, grew up in L.A. in a home with five brothers and sisters, so she’s no stranger to mixing food and family. Now the mom of two daughters, she was happy to share her favorite tips about healthy family fare. What is your approach to healthy eating for your family? At home, we eat pretty clean. We have...

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This Service Brings Healing To Your Home

Renee Dua is a doctor – and a busy L.A. mom of two. And after an exceptionally long night in a hospital emergency room with her infant, to receive medical attention for something that any pediatrician could have handled, she’d had enough. “We spent eight hours of our day sitting there,” Dua says. So in mid-February she founded Heal, a service that brings doctors to see patients at home. All...

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National TACA Autism Conference Offers Hope and Help to Affected Families

Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States, with 1 in 68 children currently affected with the disorder. For these families, identifying and paying for the help they need to get their child on the road to recovery is extremely daunting. That’s where Talk About Curing Autism (TACA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, empowering and supporting families affected by autism, comes in. TACA not...

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KIPP Raices, Los Angeles, CA. Photographed for KIPP Los Angeles 3/9/15.

KIPP Raíces Academy Honored with National Blue Ribbon School Award

On Sept. 29, the U.S. Department of Education named KIPP Raíces Academy in East Los Angeles a National Blue Ribbon School. KIPP Raíces Academy was one of only 33 Blue Ribbon Schools in California, and the only school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, to receive this distinction. The school was chosen as an “Exemplary High Performing School” based on state assessments and high school graduation rates, according to...

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A Book Club Podcast Just For Tweens

For almost 10 years, Kitty Felde hosted “Talk of the City” on local public radio station KPCC. Part of the fun was attending the L.A. Times Festival of Books and meeting listeners at the KPCC table. Parents would bring their kids with them, and the kids would say they also listened to the station. Felde’s response: “You do not.” But the kids would always insist, “We have to. We’re in...

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New Gluten-Free Breads at La Brea Bakery

Due to the large demand for gluten-free breads nowadays, La Brea Bakery ( which first opened in Los Angeles 26 years ago, has recently introduced its own gluten-free breads. Best known for its artisan breads, La Brea Bakery was looking to offer customers something that was tasty and healthy, thus the creation of the new breads. To begin, the bakery is offering two classic flavors. The first is the White...

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New Online Autism Training For Babysitters Available

All parents want their child’s babysitters to be well prepared – able to keep their child entertained, handle the after-school or bedtime routine and deal with whatever challenges or emergencies might come up. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, there’s a new online tool available to help prepare sitters for the unique challenge of caring for these special kids. Available from the Institute for Behavioral Training (IBT), the...

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School Involvement for Special Needs Parents

If you are the parent of a student with special needs, you likely spend a lot of time at your child’s school discussing IEPs, accommodations and other issues affecting his or her education. Some encounters go smoothly. Others don’t, and this might have you avoiding the school except at drop-off and pick-up time. But there’s a school of thought (no pun intended) that contends that getting involved in your child’s...

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Help Group Summit Focuses on Autism, Learning Disabilities and ADHD

A two-day conference featuring leading experts in research and best practices in the assessment and treatment of autism, learning disabilities and ADHD is set for Oct. 23 and 24 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The Help Group’s Summit 2015 is designed for educators, clinicians/therapists and parents. Speakers include experts from UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Riverside and USC. The conference...

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Trinity Knights Athletics Adds to Varsity Football Coaching Staff

Former Indianapolis Colts Strong Safety Delano Howell and former Defensive Back Cletis Gordon of the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers have been tapped as assistant coaches for the Trinity Knights Varsity Football Team at Trinity Classical Academy in Valencia. Head Coach Les Robinson (“Coach Rob”) and Dr. Matthew Dixon, Director of Athletics and Physical Education at Trinity Classical Academy made the announcement Sept. 24 and the new coaches joined...

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Stop Over-Parenting and Raise An Adult

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk in the media, at PTA meetings and among parents and educators on the effects of helicopter parenting – knowing when to step in to help and when to allow children to do things for themselves. A new book by Julie Lythcott-Haims does a great job exploring the topic of over-parenting and its detrimental effects on young adults. How to Raise...

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Celebrate Good Times

Planning a party? Don’t sweat it. We’ve got you covered with great finds, including fun ideas for kids, that will make your next shindig a hit! Party Plan On the Go Need a little inspiration? The Partyology app (free for iOS, lets you design, plan and shop from top retailers with your iPhone or iPad. Get instant access to great party tips from bloggers and party experts, and find...

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Try This Fun Fall Workout With the Kids

It’s that time of year. The kids are back in school, and suddenly, life is crazy busy again, which means getting in a workout can be even more challenging. As a mom of two and pre/postnatal exercise specialist, I’ve found the best way to do this is to involve your kids. I hope you and your little ones will find this 10-minute workout fun and effective! Sara Haley is an...

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New Occupational And Speech Therapy Clinic For Children Opens In West Hollywood

The founders of OT Studios, which opened in July, believe that every child deserves to live life to the fullest, regardless of their challenges. Here is what you and your child can expect to find at the facility: Highly trained and qualified therapists Sensory integration, occupational therapy and speech therapy services An intimate and creative atmosphere! A fun studio space and perfect setting to work on motor and sensory development...

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Individualized And Innovative iGranada Launched On Devonshire Campus

Technology is changing the world around us, so shouldn’t our high schools change as well? Granada Hills Charter High School opened its new Devonshire campus Aug. 17, with a heavy focus on technology and innovative student learning. The iGranada Digital Arts & Sciences program at the Devonshire campus provides more than 200 students in grades nine through 12 and their parents with a flexible choice in education by combining online...

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Stress Busters for Students

There’s no question that academic expectations for students have become more rigorous in recent years. You may have heard that traditional kindergarten at most public schools is now academically equivalent to what first grade was a generation ago. And it doesn’t get any easier from there. While many students enjoy and rise to the challenge of mastering new subjects, the steadily increasing load of schoolwork, tests and homework can take...

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Saint Sebastian School Launches Dual Language Immersion Program

Saint Sebastian School, a private Catholic preschool, elementary and middle school in West Los Angeles, began its new Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion Program Aug. 24. The program features half the day’s learning in Spanish, the other half in English. Students in Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten will learn to not only read and write but think in in both languages. The dual language program is only the second of its kind...

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Echo Horizon School Offers New Learning Spaces

Echo Horizon School is purposefully focused on creativity, inquiry and innovation in order to best prepare students for 21st century demands. With that in mind, the school has opened two new spaces— a Makerspace for 3rd-6th graders and a STEAM space for Pre-K to 2nd graders. These spaces, along with the existing spaces for visual art, dance theater, music, gardening and cooking, and digital media, provide students the opportunity to...

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Helping Your ‘Average’ Student Thrive

Somewhere between the worlds of the trilingual 5-year-old concert pianist and the student struggling through remedial classes lies another student. This is the average student, the one who neither breaks scholastic records nor lives on the edge of failure. He can easily be overlooked by teachers because he’s not putting cherry bombs in toilets, nor is he solving the world’s food-shortage problems. He is just getting by. That’s not good...

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Why Kids Need Job Skills Now

Except for occasionally being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” most of us didn’t give much thought to our career options until our college years. Maybe. Our focus up to that point was on getting the grades to get into college. These days, programs are popping up that capitalize on our teens’ desire to do things on their own terms, channeling that drive to help...

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An Online School Snapshot

You can find out many of the most important things about a school with a simple visit. You can meet the principal and teachers, have a look at the campus facilities, learn about the schedule, sports teams and enrichment programs. But a new online tool from the California Department of Education offers a window into another layer of information about L.A. schools. It has a cumbersome name – The California...

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Learn To Install Car Seats Correctly

No child in L.A. avoids riding in a car for long, but despite massive outreach efforts, most of them still ride in car seats that are either wrong for their size or improperly installed. “The incorrect-use rate is still over 90 percent,” says Stephanie Tombrello, executive director of SafetyBeltSafe USA, a Torrance-based national nonprofit devoted to car-safety education. Tombrello says the range of car seat models – including convertible seats...

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How Common Core Looks In the Classroom

In a fifth-grade classroom in Pasadena, students receive language arts and math instruction as part of a well-researched, artifact-driven social-studies lesson on Jamestown, VA. In the San Fernando Valley, third graders apply their math skills to figure out how many medium pizzas it would take to feed 72 people. And over in Santa Monica, fourth-grade students are taught to answer reading comprehension questions based solely on the evidence presented in...

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Local Programs That Give Girls a Voice

Janel Pineda always knew she loved writing, but never thought about how that could impact her life. That changed when her uncle mailed her a newspaper about a Los Angeles writing program for young girls. At age 14, Pineda joined WriteGirl, where she attended writing workshops and worked closely with a mentor throughout high school. “I always wrote short stories and poems in my free time, but my school was...

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My City Bikes App Is Health On Wheels

There are lots of reasons for you and the kids to hop on a bike – whether for the ride to school and work, or just for some family fun. The city where nobody walks is really quite bikeable, but taking to two wheels can be daunting for beginners. A new app is designed to make it easier. “It’s really common for people to just kind of be at a...

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A Fetching Family Service

Necessity isn’t always the mother of invention. Sometimes, it’s parenting fatigue. At least that’s how it worked for Bryson Strauss and Ashley Eaton, who became parents for the first time four years ago. “It’s just so incredibly exhausting having a child,” Strauss says. During one of many sleepless nights, husband and wife looked at each other and said, “We wish someone could just go get us some diapers.” The result...

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A Different Kind of Carpool

Need to get each of your three kids to a different place at the same time? HopSkipDrive (, a ride service started by three L.A. moms tired of struggling to get their children to various activities, could be the answer. No, this isn’t Uber for kids. HopSkipDrive is more like an extension of your child’s caregiver. Drivers will follow your pick-up and drop-off instructions, walking in to sign your kids...

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Helping Special-Needs Teens Transition Socially

A group of teens is talking. Your child wants to join the conversation, but isn’t sure how to go about it. What would you advise? If you’d tell your child to just walk up and introduce himself, you aren’t doing him any favors. “It would look odd to just walk up to a random group and say hi,” says Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D., founder and director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic,...

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DEAFestival 2015 Comes to Grand Park

The 17th annual DEAFestival, a free daylong family event offering resources, entertainment and community building, will take place at Los Angeles City Hall and Grand Park (200 N. Spring St., L.A.) from noon-4 p.m. Oct. 3. The event will feature a deaf talent show, a T-shirt design contest, a fashion show, information booths, art workshops, child safety seat classes and free car seat giveaways. At the “Once Upon a Sign”...

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Detecting Body-Image Issues In Your Teen

What does your teen see when he or she looks in the mirror? “Body image” is how we describe what people believe about their outward appearance, how they feel about their bodies and how they sense and control their movements. Issues can occur when teens start showing signs of a negative body image, perceiving their bodies as something other than reality, convinced that their size or shape is a personal...

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Yoobi Kicks Off a Season of School Donations

One week after starting the new school year, children at Jackson Magnet STEM Dual Language Academy in Altadena got a “kick start” on a year of learning Aug. 24 thanks to a donation from school and office supply company Yoobi. After a morning assembly, Yoobi founder Ido Leffler, Chief Giving Officer Justin Wolff and a crew of Yoobi staffers delivered 29 boxes full of free supplies to classrooms, enough for...

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Emotional Health Begins In the Womb

Our experiences in the womb, during birth, and as young babies set in motion physical, mental, emotional and relational patterns that can have a profound and lifelong impact. Babies in the womb are conscious and aware of – and respond to – the outside world. So, how do we communicate with our “inside babies”? According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA and author of Silent Messages, 70 to 90 percent...

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Finding a Home For treehaus

Saralynne Lowrey Precht and Michelle Pedersen met at an early-intervention therapy program at the Cheerful Helpers Child and Family Study Center in L.A., not long after their sons were diagnosed with autism. Over play dates, family dinners and therapy sessions, they found they shared a common childhood vision of owning a boutique. As they mulled over how to make it happen, they researched how to navigate L.A.'s Fashion District, work with artists...

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Teaching Kids To Speak Up

My daughter is lost in play with a friend, and I watch as her eyes suddenly fix on the floor beneath her. The conversation is quiet and I can’t quite make out the words between them, but I can sense from her posture that she doesn’t want to speak up. The path of least resistance tends to be her favorite path, even if it means pushing her own ideas and...

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APEX Play Space Offers a Fresh Take On the Kids’ Gym

It’s long been Ed Sais’s dream to open his own kids’ gym. His first jobs were as a lifeguard and swim instructor for children. Then, for 14 years, he ran the classes at Bright Child, a much-loved kids’ gym and play space in Santa Monica. After Bright Child closed, many parents whose children grew up attending and loving Sais’s classes encouraged him to open a place of his own. Sais...

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Don’t Neglect Essential Social-Skills Development

“Don’t miss the forest for the trees,” so the saying goes. When it comes to parenting, the “trees” are the many academic milestones and measuring sticks society tends to focus on, and the “forest” is the bigger picture of overall development and social skills in our children. Society tends to be achievement oriented and, once children reach ages 3 to 5, their ability to verbalize, add, subtract and write takes...

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Use The Six R’s For a Smoother Return to School

Stocking up on new notebooks and sharpened pencils is the easy part of going back to school. Oftentimes, a more difficult adjustment is navigating the emotional changes kids and parents experience in the early days and weeks of returning to the classroom. But the start of a new school year doesn’t have to be stressful for kids or for parents – just remember the six R’s: Rest: Make sure your...

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30 Real-Food Snack Ideas for Kids

Snack. The word itself sounds fun and delicious, right? We all perk up when imagining our own personal-sized package of chips, crackers or cookies. Sadly, these so-called “snacks” are just treats with a convenient name change. Most Americans are not eating quality meals or snacks, but instead are eating packages of sugary, salty, empty carbs with minimal nutrition. We have been conditioned to crave these snacks in bright, colorful boxes,...

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Local Fundraiser to Benefit UCLA Intervention Program

The father of a former student at the UCLA Intervention Program, a school focused on helping children with disabilities, has launched a fundraiser to increase awareness and raise money to support the school. Michael T. Ward says he recognizes the immeasurable value of the program to the community, and more specifically to the children and families it serves. In an effort to ensure that the program is around for generations...

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Protect Your Kids’ Eyes From Digital Device Strain

The new babysitter on the block is the iPad, the cell phone, the Nintendo handheld. We hand them to our kids nearly as soon as our kids can grasp them. And who can blame us? The kids want the devices. They are fascinated and enraptured by them. We even tell ourselves they are educational devices. And it works. Our kids sit quietly in one place and play. However, we have...

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How Nontraditional Schools Inspire Students

If you walk into any classroom, you’re likely to find quiet students who turn in their work on time, but don’t necessarily challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone. You’ll also find bright students who become easily bored and distracted by repetitive worksheets and tests. Then there are those whose sketches in the margins of their notebooks reveal amazing artistic talent, but who might be perceived as lazy or unmotivated students....

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Turn Your Kids Into Drought Busters

This past spring, after a disappointingly dry winter made it clear that 2015 would be the fifth year of California’s punishing drought, Bettina Bush’s 5-year-old daughter, Cassie, started learning about hygiene at school. “She was spending a lot of time in the bathroom washing her hands,” says the L.A. mom of two. The water was running, and it was time for some positive parenting and a mother-daughter talk. Bush, editor-at-large...

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Summer@ETTA Gets An ‘Official’ Visit

Last week a number of local elected officials visited Summer@ETTA, ETTA's specialized summer program for individuals with disabilities. ETTA provides a full spectrum of services for adults with special needs. ETTA serves people with developmental disabilities and their families, with services including residential housing, case management, employment training and placement, educational services and social services.

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College Life: 5 Things To Tell Your Daughter Before Move-In Day

Your daughter is going off to college and you’re worried she won’t be prepared to live away from home (though she’d probably beg to differ). The team behind and The Her Campus Guide to College Life  has some simple tips you can offer to help her get the most out of her first dorm experience and have the best freshman year possible. Protect your safety and your belongings. Dorm...

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Strike a Balance To Keep Kids Hydrated

When Alan Nager, MD, Director of Emergency Medicine and Transport at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, commutes to work, he passes at least eight Starbucks and various other purveyors of caffeine along the way. “In summer, half the people there are adolescents,” he says. Nager, like many experts, says that drinks with caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol, sodas and drinks with lots of sugar in them aren’t great for kids. They can...

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Mario Lopez: A Dad With Something Extra

Mario Lopez is host of the Emmy award-winning entertainment news show “Extra,” and has his own radio show, but he’s also an L.A. dad who fits in plenty of family time. Parenting his daughter, Gia, 4, and son, Dominic, 1, isn’t always easy in a profession and a city known for its hustle and bustle, but with the support of his wife, Courtney Mazza, they make it work. A typical...

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Daniella Guzman & Whit Johnson: Anchored to Family

Like most parents with careers, Daniella Guzman and Whit Johnson fit two full-time jobs into each day, juggling their work responsibilities as co-anchors of NBC4’s “Today in LA” and the work of parenting their young kids. But their work days have an usual twist: They start at 1:30 a.m. Because their news show airs live from 4:30-7:30 a.m. weekdays, the co-hosts’ morning alarms go off when most of us are...

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A Boy and His Dog Share Love and Therapy

Eight-year-old Daron, of Van Nuys, has a tight knit family. They have been through a lot together. Daron has cerebral palsy and needs a lot of support, but his parents, Hagop and Armine, and his older sister, Ani, are devoted to him. They will do just about anything to make Daron smile. That is why the family applied for an assistance dog for Daron from Canine Companions for Independence. The...

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New High School Offers STEM Curriculum for Students with Social and Learning Differences

STEM3 Academy is a new, innovative high school opening this fall, designed for students with social and learning differences and a passion for science and technology. The school, operated by The Help Group in the Valley Glen neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, offers a rigorous curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math to students in grades 9 through 12. “There is a growing realization that we are short of...

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ETTA Expands Day Program Offerings for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

ETTA’s Isak Boruchin Adult Day Program opened in September with three clients, and has exceeded expectations by growing to 14 clients in the first year. The program provides safe, meaningful and purposeful volunteering, job development, skill building, and recreation activities for adults with disabilities at sites within their local community. That growth will continue, as ETTA is expanding the program to include adults with more severe disabilities, and opening of...

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A Film That’s Twice Exceptional

Just off Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Studio City stands an unassuming building, home to Bridges Academy, a school for students in grades 5-12 who are “twice exceptional,” meaning they have developmental disabilities, but are also intellectually gifted. The school is the subject of 2e: Twice Exceptional, first released last fall and now out on DVD. The film will introduce you to some of the most fascinating students you’re likely to...

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How Failure Improves Homework Habits

Most parents want to make sure they are doing everything they can to assure their children are happy, healthy, feel good about themselves and are successful. “How do I get my child to clean up their room without a fuss?” “How do I limit electronic entertainment?” “How do I get them to stop fighting with their siblings?” These are common questions I receive. But one of the most common is:...

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Special Needs Conference Focuses On Balance For Families

For Navah Paskowitz, “Bringing Balance,” the theme of the conference she is organizing for parents and siblings of children with special needs, is personal. “It really came out of my own family,” Paskowitz says. “We have a heavy load, my husband and I.” Paskowitz, executive director of corporate development and program director of The Friendship Circle By the Sea, is married to Matt Asner, executive director of the Southern California...

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New Tool Let’s Swimmers Know If Beach Water is Safe

The unusual rainstorm over the weekend means lots of water washing through L.A. storm drains and down to the ocean, where the bacteria and pollution the storm water brings with it makes the water unsafe for swimming. Currently, local health agencies use laboratory analyses of water samples collected at the beach to determine if it is safe for recreational use. Unfortunately, it takes 24-48 hours to collect the samples, transport...

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Hundreds Get in Shape Through Free Cedars-Sinai Exercise in the Park Program

Every summer, hundreds of people participate in Cedars-Sinai’s free Exercise in the Park program led by health educators at two locations in underserved neighborhoods in the West Adams district. The workouts — a combination of stretching, calisthenics and dance moves — attract many regulars who have participated since the program started in 2012. They show up Mondays through Thursdays with bottled water, enthusiasm and commitment. One young mother, who works...

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Innovative P.E. Program From UCLA Boosts Student Fitness, Confidence

A physical education program that brings commercial-grade fitness equipment to under-resourced schools, along with a curriculum based on boosting confidence and making participation more enjoyable, dramatically increases students’ performance on California’s standardized physical fitness test, a UCLA study has found. Professor of urban planning and associate dean in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and a team of UCLA graduate students followed 640 seventh to 10th grade...

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3 Keys for Success with Highly Sensitive Kids

Highly sensitive children feel things more deeply than other children do, and oftentimes respond more quickly. Their heightened perception includes being sensitive to sensory input such as loud noises, harsh images, strong smells or scratchy tags on clothing. Coupled with their incredible sensitivity is an intensity that can go quickly in the “right direction” as they immerse themselves in a creative project, or in the “wrong direction” as they cry...

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Keep Tabs on Children’s Product Recalls

Maria L. recently searched a swap meet for the perfect stroller for her baby, due in a couple of weeks. When she settled on one to purchase, Maria had no idea that the item was on a Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) list of recalled products  known to cause injury and deaths. Recently, to help Maria save money, her family and friends also gave her used baby items that they...

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Healthy Eating For Family Travelers

Travel season is upon us, and a lot of Angelino families will escape the commotion of our city by driving up the coast, down to San Diego or east to the desert – or fly even farther afield. While traveling is no easy feat, having a solid eating plan for your trip can help you and your family maintain a balanced lifestyle and protect your children's health while saving money...

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Three Keys to Positive Parenting

As the mother of three wonderful children and a professional psychologist, I have often been asked – by my clients, friends and family – “How do you do it?” My answer is that having a positive mind and attitude will allow you to accomplish things and get tasks done. The key to reaching that positive attitude is to be organized, take time for self-care and learn to let go. We...

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Candace Parker: An All-Star at Work and at Home

Candace Parker’s athletic résumé is almost unmatched. She led the University of Tennessee Lady Vols women’s basketball team to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2007 and 2008, leading the team in scoring (20.6 points per game) and rebounds her final season. She was named the 2007 and 2008 John R. Wooden Collegiate Female Player of the Year, State Farm Player of the Year, Basketball Writers Association National Player of the Year...

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Turning Point School Achieves Council of International Schools Certification

Turning Point School – a private, independent, coeducational day school in Culver City serving students in preschool through middle school – has achieved International Certification status from the Council of International Schools (CIS), validating the school community’s commitment to international education and students’ growth as global citizens. Turning Point is alone among Los Angeles schools, and just the third in the U.S., honored with the designation. Turning Point joins St....

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PCDA Hosts A Taste of Summer: Rosé Soiree July 22

Professional Child Development Associates (PCDA), a nonprofit organization that offers a range of multidisciplinary screening, evaluation, therapy and specialized services for children and young adults with special needs, is hosting A Taste of Summer: Rosé Soiree at 6:30 p.m. July 22. Guests are invited to enjoy wine and food selections, music and mingling at a beautiful historic garden in South Pasadena, with the proceeds to benefit children with autism and...

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L.A. Moms Who Blog

A new blog is created somewhere in the world every half second (if you believe what you read online). When I was pregnant with my first child, back before I knew enough to appreciate all that private time, I too, decided to start a blog. But after my son was born, regular showers and sit-down meals became fond memories and the only “me time” available was during naptime, during which...

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Three Powerful Ways to Motivate Summertime Music Practice

As a teacher, I am frequently asked how to encourage children to practice during summer break and school holidays. Some experts believe children who do not practice (or rarely practice) during summer will need one additional month of practice to recover their skill at the end of the holiday. So, what can you do? Get involved. Ask your child about the piece he or she is working on. Sit with...

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Albert Einstein Odyssey Academy Opens in Beverly Hills

The Albert Einstein Odyssey Academy, a new Beverly Hills charter school serving students in kindergarten through fifth grade, will begin its inaugural year Aug. 24. The school, which will serve 300 students, is accepting applications for enrollment and will continue the process until the school is full. This school’s curriculum offers a project-based teaching approach designed to allow students to actively engage in learning, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering,...

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Lunchtime Picnic is the Key to Beach Safety

Pack a picnic and your family is on the way to a safe day at the beach, says emergency physician Eric Nakkim, M.D. He’s a dad, beach lover, child safety expert and co-director of the Richard and Melanie Lundquist Emergency Department at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, and offered us some beach safety tips. Choose the time and place with care. Swim near a lifeguard, who has rescue skills and the...

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Protect Kid Passengers From Drunk Drivers

As your family enjoys Fourth of July festivities and other outings this summer, pay attention to how much anyone who plans to drive is drinking – especially if they will be driving with kids – urges Stephanie Tombrello, executive director of the California-based nonprofit SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics found that 65 percent of children killed in crashes involving impaired drivers were actually riding...

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Providence Tarzana Medical Center Partners with CHLA on Valley Pediatric Care

When Kelli Brodie’s son Conrad was born March 30 at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, Conrad didn’t get to stay at the hospital for long. The infant was born with an intestinal defect and had to be immediately transported to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – almost 20 miles away – for lifesaving specialty care. There is no children’s hospital in the area served by Providence Tarzana pediatrics – a region of...

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Isabel Garretón: Mixing Family and Fashion

While many entrepreneurs start their businesses with customers in mind, Isabel Garretón started out thinking about her suppliers. Twenty-five years ago, she created her self-titled upscale children’s apparel line to give underprivileged moms from her native Chile an opportunity to raise themselves up through the work of their hands. And what beautiful work it is. Garretón now employs more than 100 artisans who specialize in hand embroidery, hand smocking and...

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Local Students Give a Hand To Elephants

Your average kindergartner or third grader dwarfs in size compared with an elephant. But at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, these little guys are helping elephants in a big way. The students, selling notecards featuring their art, have raised more than $2,000 to donate to an elephant sanctuary in Tenn. All students at the school participate in an annual service project, and kindergarten teacher Jan Schlossberg says this project started...

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In-Home, Post-Natal Newborn Service Launches In Southern California

Orange County Mom Creates Non-Medical Post-Natal Newborn Service “Uccellino” to Assist New Parents with Newborn Care in the Comfort of their Own Home Newborn babies typically don’t come with instruction manuals, but thanks to a new service created by the personal experiences of an Orange County mom, “motherly” advice and support can now be just a phone call or home visit away. Uccellino, which in Italian means “little bird,” is...

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Taking Care of Your Child’s Smile

If your child has special needs, you are likely immersed in an array of tasks and therapies – occupational, educational and physical. As you work to help your child make the most of her or his abilities, don’t forget your child’s smile! “You need to care for their mouths. It is a journey. It is a process,” says Jill Lasky, DDS, a pediatric dentist who practices in Tarzana and Studio...

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Bringing Reilly To Life

“The life of Reilly” is an old-fashioned way of describing a life that is easy and pleasant. That’s not what Sinead Clancy thought she had in store when her son Roan, now 10, was 18 months old and his pediatrician told her that he had autism. “I started Googling autism and trying to find out about it,” says Clancy, “and it was just this terrifying landscape of everything that was...

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5 Tips for Relaxed Real-Food Mornings and Evenings

It’s dark and a bit chilly in your bedroom, which gives your warm and cozy covers more power to pull you in. Then you feel a small finger tapping your shoulder and you hear, “Mommy?” With your eyes half open, you stumble into the kitchen to take breakfast orders. The frantic routine of preparing breakfast, unloading dishes, packing lunches and attempting to feed yourself begins. Oh, and forget about drinking...

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The New Kid in Town: Project Giving Kids

Have your children considered volunteering, then hesitated, not knowing where to begin? Project Giving Kids ( makes positive parenting easier with age-appropriate volunteer opportunities around Los Angeles. Founded in Boston in 2013 and newly launched in L.A., the service is designed specifically for kids. “Kids can drive the whole process by learning about causes they relate to and choosing fun, rewarding ways to help support those causes,” says founder Molly...

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Taking the Perfect Family Photo: Photographers Give Their Advice

With summer under way, families are getting together for barbecues, pool parties and outdoor adventures, and taking advantage of all these summer activities to stage family photos. Family portraits can get a little stressful, especially since there is always that one person in the group who feels like taking pictures is not for them. Whether you have little ones who get fussy and don’t want to pose, a relative who...

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Tips For Skipping Packaged Foods

If we are what we eat, then most of the packaged foods on grocery store shelves will turn your family into a salt shaker. A government report published in April found that more than half of these foods – including more than 70 percent of pizza, pasta and meat dishes and 50 to 70 percent of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches – contain more salt than U.S. dietary guidelines consider...

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Teach Life Skills This Summer

As summer begins, many parents look forward to a relaxing, stress-free two months. They are so happy to be relieved of the pressures of getting their children ready for school in the morning, making lunches and making sure homework gets done in a timely manner. The household looks forward to the less-structured environment and a vacation from routine. I understand and sympathize with this feeling of relief. However, I want...

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Parenting Kids In a Multicultural Family

Each of Chanel and Ioakim Boutakidis’ two sons had a traditional Chinese Red Egg and Ginger party to mark his first month of life. Each also had a Greek Orthodox baptism, in Greece, before he turned 2. In the Boutakidis’ Altadena home, there is always a pot of rice on the stove and cucumber-and-tomato salad in the refrigerator. Their large extended family gathers for Chinese New Year and Greek Easter....

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When Parenting is Not What You Expected

Los Angeles-based psychologist and neuropsychologist Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D., has worked with what she calls “atypical” children for more than 25 years. Eichenstein coined the term “atypical” to help describe kids who have combinations of developmental, behavioral and learning differences that make it difficult to fit them into neat categories of clinical diagnosis. “But what I have come to realize is that focusing on the child’s needs is not sufficient,” she...

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Making the Skies – And Airport – Friendlier For People With Special Needs

Larry Rollon thinks a lot about helping people of various abilities through the airport. As coordinator for disability services at Los Angeles World Airports (which includes LAX and Ontario International Airport), he oversees programs to assist passengers in wheelchairs, the hearing and visually impaired, and others who need help navigating the airport and getting to their flight. But he hadn’t thought much about passengers with autism until about two years...

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Montebello Shops Award Scholarships to Students

The Shops at Montebello awarded scholarships to five Montebello Unified School District students who completed a three-week We Care For Youth. The program is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce by offering job skills. The Shops at Montebello held an Achievement Ceremony at the center, recognizing 32 local high school students who completed the special program. Of the students in attendance, Hugo Zavaleta Rojas, Alexis Serna and Francisco...

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Angel City Games Bring Adaptive Sport To L.A.

Ezra Frech, a Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year nominee in 2014, was born with no left knee or shin bone and only one finger on his left hand. And though he had his leg amputated below the knee at age 2 ½, nothing has slowed him down. When his leg was amputated, doctors were able to attach one of his toes to his left hand, giving him two opposing...

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Three Keys to Teaching Kids Gratitude

It can be difficult as parents to maintain our sense of gratitude. Our days are often full of activity, stress and fatigue. Sometimes the idea of writing in a gratitude journal can feel like the last thing we want to tack on to the end of our day. And yet we know that the more we set an intention to practice gratitude in our daily lives, the easier it becomes....

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Three Must-Have Tools For High School Students

High school students and parents are barraged with college and career-planning information via the Internet and social media starting on their first day of high school (if not earlier). It can be a challenge for families in Los Angeles schools to sort through these resources, and not all information is equal. I recommend three must-have tools that will help guide students through their high school careers and plan for their...

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Summer Camp Los Angeles: Ask the Camp Director

What is the number-one reason you believe kids should have the chance to go to summer camp? Rita Smith and Arpa Ghazarianm, directors, Camp Mirman: Students should have a chance to go to summer camp so that they can enrich their educational and social-emotional experience. At summer camp, students have the opportunity to expand their interest in subject areas that they might not get a chance to explore during the...

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L.A. Kids to Attend Juvenile Diabetes Conference

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is sending four young students from the Los Angeles area to Washington, D.C. July 13-15 for the JDRF Children’s Congress. As California delegates, they will address members of Congress to lobby for continuing research into a cure for for type 1 diabetes (T1D). Jackson Blair, 7, Madeleine Redmond, 10, Clair Haslett, 11, and Grace walker, 17 will join children ages 4 to 17 from across...

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3 Ways to Help Boost Your Teen’s Self-Esteem after Rejection

Rejection is never easy. More difficult to handle, as a parent, is the rejection of your child. You feel responsible and take the rejection personally. You ask yourself, How did I fail as a parent? But even more, you ask yourself, What can I say or do to mend my child’s broken heart? As a mother or father, you’re usually at a loss as to what to do in the...

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Parenting and Business: Connecting With Customers

Our families and our business consume every waking moment of the day – and sometimes most of our nights. We are in the moment-by-moment flow of parenting and taking care of a healthy family, as well as growing and creating a healthy business that will provide for our family today and tomorrow. When you have a family with more than one child, just as when you have a business with...

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Jennifer Jones: Raising Awareness for Kids With Special Needs

Jennifer Jones never thought of herself as a community activist, but when her 15-year-old son, Dylan, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder 11 years ago, Jones’ course in life took a profound turn. The mom of two was working as a graphic and product designer and first became involved with Autism Speaks as a parent wanting to connect more with the autism community. She is now director of field development...

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Diagnosis: Hope

Race to Erase MS founder Nancy Davis talks about how parenting with MS can be done, and why May is the month to wear orange. I was a mom with three young children when I got the news. An avid skier, I had been on the slopes in Aspen. There was an accident, and I wound up in a local hospital. Three weeks later, I began to experience numbness in...

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Party Invitation Tips From the Pros

Every year we grow a little older. And when we are children, this is fun. That’s because of birthday parties. And if you are planning a party for your child, you know that you can’t open the gifts, cut the cake or get to that magical singing-over-the-candles moment unless you’ve sent out the invitations. Here, then, are a few parenting tips to help you do that with maximum etiquette and...

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Highland Hall Student Receives to National Youth Orchestras Conducting Apprenticeship

Shira Samuels-Shragg, a junior at Highland Hall Waldorf School, has been awarded a conducting apprenticeship with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA). Samuels-Shragg, a classical pianist, adept violist and budding conductor, was only 6 when she began her musical career with piano lessons. She has conducted Highland Hall’s school orchestra under the guidance of music teacher Erick Bluske, who has been involved in Samuels-Shragg’s musical...

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Pedal Power

I’ve been badgering my 9-year-old to muster up the courage to learn to ride a bike. Yes, she’s 9, and I’m very much to blame for her latent cycling skills. I, too, was terrified of riding a bike and didn’t get on a two-wheeler until I was in third or fourth grade. In my tween years in Foster City, a small suburb outside San Francisco where man-made canals surrounded our...

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Your Child’s Brain on $150,000 a Year

We know that lots of things shape children’s brains – reading to them, letting them play outdoors, teaching them to play music. Now a new study, the largest of its kind to date, has found a relationship between family income and children’s brain structure. Looking at the brains of more than 1,000 typically developing kids ages 3 to 20, researchers found that the brains of those growing up in households...

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Aveson Charter Schools Featured in New Book

In the new book, “Learning Personalized: The Evolution of the Contemporary Classroom,” co-authors and educational consultants Allison Zmuda, Greg Curtis and Diane Ullman feature Aveson Charter Schools, with a home-study option and campus in Altadena, for its curriculum dedicated to personalized learning. Aveson is called “one of the most authentic” personalized learning examples in the country by the Denver educational leaders, who visited the school last year. “There is a...

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Sycamore School to Open in Malibu

The Sycamore School, an independent elementary school dedicated to collaboration, innovation and learning through play and creativity, opens in Malibu Sept. 1, initially serving 20 students ages 6 through 8. “We are very excited to bring an alternative option for elementary education to Malibu families,” says co-founder Tedd Wakeman. “The world we live in now demands a different approach to education. Students need a learning experience that is continuous, future-focused...

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Muscle Mania at Home and School

Kristen DeLeo founded her nonprofit electriKIDS in 1999. She has taken her show on the road on a nationwide “Muscle Mania Tour” and hosted Muscle Mania assemblies at schools in and around Palos Verdes, where she lives. Now, DeLeo is working to move her workouts into schools that otherwise couldn’t afford them. The certified fitness instructor and mom of two boys has based her new “Fit 4 All” program on...

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Los Angeles Events Big Sunday 2015

You Can Be A Big Part of Big Sunday

May Los Angeles events begin in a big way as Big Sunday Weekend takes place May 1-3. Now in its 17th year, Big Sunday ranks as one of the largest regional service events in the U.S. Last year, approximately 50,000 volunteers participated in more than 500 projects in more than 100 cities throughout California. This year offers another wide selection of projects that people, young and old, can be part...

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Get Yourself Some Free Comics May 2

Comic book lovers can enjoy some of their favorite things in life – for free – May 2 during Free Comic Book Day. Diamond Comic Distributors and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have teamed up with the literacy organization Every Child a Reader and The Children’s Book Council for this nationwide event full of fun ideas for kids. This feast for freebies features a dozen kid-friendly titles, including SpongeBob,...

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Cleaner Air Improves Children’s Health

The air in Southern California has gotten cleaner during the past 20 years, and kids’ lungs have gotten healthier, says a new report from a 20-year study involving more than 2,000 children in five local communities. The USC Children’s Health Study tracked air quality in the L.A. basin and measured the lung development three groups of kids ages 11-15 living in Long Beach, Mira Loma, Riverside, San Dimas and Upland....

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Five Rejuvenating Tips for Moms

Many moms feel guilty for taking some time to themselves when there is always so much to do but taking some quiet “you” time will completely benefit your body, mind and soul. And taking care of yourself is part of positive parenting. Here are a few tips that moms can do regularly to get some well-deserved peace of mind and mental space. Cultivate a morning practice. By carving out 20...

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Support For Parents of Kids With Special Needs

If you are the parent or caregiver of a child with autism, you’re likely involved in a slew of activities, from advocating for financial and educational resources to dealing with your child’s communication and behavior issues, making choices about treatments and therapies, and attending intensive therapy sessions with your child. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy alone can take several hours a day. “It can be like a full-time job for the kids, except it doesn’t pay a salary,”...

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L.A. to Host 2015 Special Olympics World Games

Los Angeles will play host to as many as half a million people this summer as we welcome athletes and fans from all over the world for the 14th Special Olympic World Games, taking place July 25-Aug. 2. Seven-thousand athletes with intellectual disabilities, coached by 3,000 coaches, will compete in 25 sports at all different levels, says Steven Vanderpool, a spokesperson for the games. There will be 117 countries represented....

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Village Glen Robotics Team Takes Rookie All-Star Award, Heads to Nationals

The students at Village Glen School are extraordinary in a number of ways – and their Knightrise robotics team is no exception. Village Glen, part of The Help Group, is made up of students who have special needs and challenges in socialization, communication and peer relations, but also natural ability in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The school’s STEM initiative includes classes in computer programming, digital arts,...

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Temple Grandin to Appear at Club Nokia

One of the rock stars of the special needs world will take the stage at Club Nokia May 20 – along with a host of musical, celebrity and other guests – to raise awareness about the lack of jobs for young adults on the spectrum, and to benefit a new pilot program designed to help. Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is widely considered one of the most accomplished and well-known adults with...

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Finding Quality Childcare in L.A.

Choosing a childcare provider can be one of the most important decisions parents can make, particularly during the years before a child starts kindergarten. The number of available options can be overwhelming, and it is easy to be tempted to go with the first recommendation from a friend or neighbor. But experts warn that a childcare solution that works for one family might not work for yours. Here are some...

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Crafting Community Builds Family Bonds and Fun Ideas For Kids

Karen Kimmel and Stacy Bernstein, founders of Crafting Community, are on a mission, a creative one. Their goal, “to cultivate immersive design experiences where families can play, grow and be together,” is the driving force behind their growing organization. On their website,, Kimmel and Bernstein emphasize that “creativity is an essential tool for life and so we find ways to encourage and inspire the creative spirit through art, curated...

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Play Program Bridges Gaps Between Typical and Special Needs Kids

One morning in late February, 16 students from Damin Hopkins’ eighth-grade class at Chandler school in Pasadena set out on a field trip to the Reese’s Retreat playground in Brookside Park. Most observers would think these kids – an exuberant but polite group in school T-shirts and jackets – were a little old for swings and pirate-themed play structures. But this class was on a special mission. They were there...

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9 Things To Do in L.A. For Earth Day

Earth Day turns 45 April 22, but you shouldn’t restrict your celebrating just to that day, especially since there are great Earth Day events throughout Southern California all month long. Here are nine of our favorites. 1. The Hammer Museum offers you a chance to travel the world without leaving Westwood at its free screening of Earth (11 a.m. April 15, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; This acclaimed documentary from...

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Go West For Fun Los Angeles Events!

In California, few things are as strong as the allure of the cowboy and visions of life in the Wild West. In April, you’ve got two chances to “cowboy-up” with the kids. Santa Clarita hosts its Cowboy Festival April 15-19. Many Western films and TV shows have been filmed in the area, and one of the festival’s main locations, William S. Hart Ranch and Museum (24151 Newhall Ave., Newhall), is...

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Henry Winkler’s Dyslexia Mission

Henry Winkler knows what it’s like to feel different. He knows the good, and the not so good. The actor, director and producer, whose career has spanned more than 40 years and who is best known for his role as Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli in the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” struggled in school because of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a developmental reading disorder that occurs when the brain does not properly...

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Constructing Support for the L.A. Food Bank

For the ninth straight year, local designers, builders, engineers and architects have come together to create one of the most unique Los Angeles attractions – large-scale structures built solely from cans of food. Why? That’s a good question. Canstruction L.A. (, presented by Goya Foods, helps raise awareness about the battle against hunger and generates donations for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. All of the cans used in these...

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Children’s Health: Parents Still Push For Vaccine Delays

As winter turned to spring this past month, the state of California had confirmed 133 cases of a disease that was declared eliminated from the U.S. 15 years ago – measles. The well-publicized outbreak, which began in December and was traced to Disneyland, was proclaimed a wake-up call about lagging vaccination rates among the state’s children. But a national survey published online March 2 in Pediatrics found that many parents...

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Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte On Growing Up With CP

As a child, actor RJ Mitte had a clever trick for keeping his legs – which were in casts – cool during the hot summer months growing up in Austin, Texas and Lafayette, Louisiana. He froze pennies and quarters and then dropped them into his casts. “The problem was, I couldn’t get them out. So when I walked, you would hear the ching, ching,” says Mitte with a laugh. Diagnosed...

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Five Ways To Overcome Math Anxiety

Beyond basic arithmetic, most of us do not remember the details of our early math education. Fundamentals such as adding, subtracting and multiplying have not escaped our memory. However, square roots, radicals and the quadratic formula have long been tucked away in the far reaches of our minds. When our children are young, we gladly help them with their math homework. Our children believe we have all the answers, and...

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Top Picks From International Toy Fair

As the official product reviewer at L.A. Parent, one of the highlights of my year is attending the Toy Industry Association of America’s annual International Toy Fair in New York. In February, the magazine’s community manager, Annette Covarrubias, and I headed east and braved the biting winter cold to see more than 150,000 toys, games and other fun ideas for kids paraded by more than 1,000 companies. Around 7,000 of...

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Los Angeles Events: Ice Skating in April

It might be April, with spring in the air, but you can still enjoy some wintery action at a couple of great Los Angeles events. This month brings two different ice skating extravaganzas to sunny Southern California. The Stars On Ice tour lives up to its name with a cast populated with world champions and Olympic medalists. Gold medalists Evan Lysacek, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Meryl Davis and Charlie White as well...

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Spiritual Connections For Special Needs Families

When my cousin Gloria asked whether my son, who has autism, was getting a religious education, I balked. “I just can’t think about that now – not with all of his therapies, his intense behavioral challenges, battling the school system, finding doctors, rallying Regional Center funding. It’s too much to add one more thing to my plate,” I told her. I didn’t realize that a spiritual community was exactly what...

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A Hop Toward Independence

In “Betty Bunny Loves Easter,” by local author Michael B. Kaplan (Dial Books for Young Readers), the title character is a handful, bursting with energy and excitement. This determined and boisterous bunny refuses to let her family quell her joy over the Easter holiday, which is the very next day. Her dream is to grow up to be the Easter Bunny, delivering baskets full of candy and toys not just...

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Our Special Needs Magazine Is Out!

The 2015 edition of Your Child With Special Needs -- a free magazine packed with resources, advice and informative articles to help kids and their families through every stage of life -- is now available. You can find it around town at schools and businesses that serve the special-needs community, and it isn’t easy to miss. It features actor RJ Mitte (from TV’s “Breaking Bad”) on the cover! The magazine...

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Getting Kids With Special Needs Ready for Adulthood

Avremel Mayer has Down syndrome – and an independent streak. When he was a teenager, a yellow school bus picked him up each morning for the trip to Fairfax High. He had convinced his parents to let him wait for the bus on his own. One day, he decided the school bus was coming too late. “He walked to the corner, picked up the [city] bus to Fairfax Avenue and...

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Families With Special Needs: Get the FriendMaker App For Free

If you wanted to start a conversation with someone you didn’t know, you might follow steps like these: Casually look over at the person. Use a prop. Look for a common interest. Make a reference to the common interest. Trade information about the common interest. Assess interest. Introduce yourself. Most people wouldn’t use a checklist for this, but for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum a simple social...

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Bookfest Is Bigger and Grander Than Ever

Grand Park (200 N. Grand Ave., L.A.; welcomes literature lovers to its third annual Downtown Bookfest, noon-5 p.m. March 28. One of the festival’s unique features is its focus on Southern California authors and publishers. A pop-up bookstore, for example, will stock with work from more than 30 L.A.-based presses, putting it high on the list of most people's Los Angeles things to do. The Bookfest’s readings and activities...

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7 Safety Strategies for Kids With Special Needs

As parents, it is our job to worry about our kids. And we worry about our children with special needs at every stage of their (and our) lives. As it turns out, worry is a waste of mental energy – energy we cannot afford to waste! The best thing to do with worry is convert it to action, doing something positive to mitigate the unsettling thoughts that keep us awake...

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Breaking the Sound Barrier for Children Born Deaf

Almost immediately after she was born, it became apparent that Angelica Lopez was deaf. Her parents, Julie and Santos, learned sign language and started making the heartbreaking, but necessary, adjustments to their daughter's special needs. Last summer, they learned of a device called an auditory brainstem implant (ABI), still in the testing phase, that might help recover Angelica’s hearing. Hearing aids and cochlear implants cannot help children like Angelica, because...

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UCLA Admissions Director Offers Tips For Finding Your Child’s Path

As a parent of a child in Los Angeles schools, it’s likely you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about your child’s future. You might have started stressing about your child’s path to college long before they began the application process. But UCLA Director of Undergraduate Admissions Gary Clark advises parents to focus more on helping their children find what they love, rather than spending years crafting a resume for...

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Parenting Through Technology Transitions

These tips will help you take your child from total supervision to safe driving on the digital highway. Not that long ago, a child’s road to independence was pretty straightforward. At first, you took them everywhere with you. Then, maybe, you let them walk down the street to a trusted neighbor’s house. Eventually, they made the trek to school with a friend. Little by little, they made their way from...

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Divorce and The Two-Household Family

A few simple strategies can make family time better at both parents’ houses. Do you still have homework? What time did you go to bed? What did you eat this weekend? What did you do at Daddy’s? Did Mom take you to get new sneakers? When you’re divorced or separated and the kids have been with their other parent all week or weekend, it’s tempting to start asking questions the...

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5 Top Tips for Mom’s Mental Health

While raising children can be extremely rewarding, it can also be highly stressful. Mothers are caretakers, teachers, chefs, chauffeurs, cleaning ladies, counselors, personal shoppers, stylists and nurses to their children — in addition to any jobs they have outside the home. Moms need to remember that in addition to caring for their children’s well-being, they need to take time to nurture their own mental health and emotions. As mother to...

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Unique Health Program Appeals to Digital Kids

Milena Bice’s 5-year-old son Diego was at an L.A.-area grocery store with his grandmother recently, and she wasn’t sure whether the breakfast cereal he wanted was a healthy choice. “Read me the first three ingredients,” Diego said. When one of them was sugar, he told his grandma, “Oh, that’s a red-light food. You can put it back.” The Bice family has been learning healthy-eating and exercise strategies using Kurbo, an...

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ACT or SAT? Four Questions To Help Students Choose

As a private tutor in Los Angeles for more than 15 years, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of families we work with who choose the ACT over the more-traditional SAT exam on their path toward college admission. Scores from at least one of these tests are required for admission to most major colleges and universities, and every year thousands of students from Los Angeles schools have...

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A Spring Awakening Of Butterflies In San Diego

Have you and the kids run out of things to do in L.A.?  Migrate to San Diego this spring when the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido; opens its Butterfly Jungle. More than 30 different species of butterflies from around the globe will populate the zoo’s Hidden Jungle Aviary. Besides checking out these beautiful creatures, kids can enjoy activities and learn about butterflies through...

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Navigating Your Child’s IEP

An advocate and a lawyer, both moms, offer tips for getting through this gateway to special-education services. The process of agreeing on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) – a document detailing special-education services your public school district will provide for your child – can be an emotional and overwhelming time for families, especially when their idea of what’s best for their child is in conflict with their school district’s evaluations...

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‘Swing Sisters’ Offers Musical Inspiration

Women’s History month celebrates the great accomplishments of women and reminds us that women rock. My daughter and I recently read a book about a group of women who not only rocked, but could also swing. “SWING SISTERS: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm” by Karen Deans, illustrated by Joe Cepeda, is an inspiring story that explores racism, perseverance, acceptance, friendship and, most importantly, girl power. The book...

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“Your Child With Special Needs Monthly” Wins Best Newsletter

"Your Child with Special Needs Monthly" recently won national recognition as the best e-newsletter for families by the Parenting Media Association (PMA) during its Editorial and Design Awards Competition, which recognizes excellence in journalism, photography and design. Professor Daryl Moen of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism coordinated the annual contest. A panel of judges reviewed 630 entries from member publications across the country. “The purpose of the PMA...

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Enrichment and Beyond

For children interested in any kind of extracurricular activity – from sports to science to the arts – parent involvement and support are vital. While this often doesn’t go much farther than picking up and dropping kids off, signing a few forms and maybe buying snacks for the team, parents face a world of opportunities for bringing their children’s enrichment experiences home as well. Decades of research shows how vital...

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Los Angeles Schools: Measuring Progress

If your child attends public schools, you’re likely familiar with the acronym API. The letters stand for “Academic Performance Index,” and the API was created as part of a 1999 law designed to measure the academic performance and growth of California schools. The API is on a two-year cycle, releasing a “base” score for each school and district in the spring (based on students’ scores from state tests taken the...

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Showering a Baby with Books

By Dr. Helen Foster James Recently it was my pleasure to attend a baby shower for a longtime friend who had just become a first-time grandma. She was delighted to have a new little one in her life and her friends rallied around her in celebration. I had never heard of a baby shower for grandmas, but I’m always happy to celebrate with a friend. I googled around and found...

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Peddle Power

If you like bikes, March will be your month for fun Los Angeles events. March 1, in fact, offers a tandem of bike-related events. At the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; you can participate in freewheeling (and free!) fun from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. during “Close Encounters: Build-A-Bike.” Draw inspiration from the Hammer’s exhibition spotlighting the innovative Heatherwick Studio and design your very own model bicycle. Just a quick...

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10 Ways To Show (not tell) Your Child Reading Matters to You

You’ve told your child reading is important, but your actions are far louder than words. Set a good parenting example for your child by showing how important reading is to you and your entire family. Here are ten ways to show (not tell!) your child reading is important. Let your child see you reading. Parents frequently read when children are tucked away asleep. Let them see you reading. When they...

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Give A Book, Take A Book: The Joy of a Neighborhood Small Library

On my neighborhood strolls through my city, I’ve noticed little libraries are popping up everywhere. Some are “official” Little Free Library ( versions while others are just good neighbors with a zeal for books and a box or an extra bookshelf to spare. It’s all about give and take. The premise is neighbors will give a book they are finished reading to the “library” and in return, they will take...

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UCLA Researchers Hope to Make Earlier Autism Detection Possible

Early detection is the key to helping children on the autism spectrum realize their full potential. Experts tend to agree that autism can be reliably diagnosed at age 3, when symptoms are present. Infants’ behavior is much more limited, making earlier detection a challenge, but researchers at UCLA are hoping to learn enough to change that. By studying behavior along with brain differences that could signal communication delays, they hope...

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Conference Showcases Neurodevelopmental Treatment Models For Special Needs

Parents can learn new ways to support children with neurodevelopmental differences at “The Power and Promise of Neurodevelopmental Approaches” March 13-15. The conference is hosted by the Profectum Foundation, a group of parents and practitioners dedicated to training and research. “Our hope is to bring world-class researchers to the conference and show parents and professionals how to better understand their children with special emotional, developmental or physical needs,” says clinical...

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Zoo Outreach Program Makes Special-Needs Classrooms Go Wild

A classroom for students with mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities turned into a zoo for a day at Granada Hills Charter High School as the Los Angeles Zoo brought critters and crawlers with their Special Needs Education Outreach Program. Students with disabilities were able to interact with live animals while learning about their habitats from tactile biofacts. The trained zoo docents are certified in the handling of the animals...

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Girlfriend Getaway: Vegas Edition

When a milestone birthday was around the corner for my high school girlfriends and me, someone brought up the idea of celebrating in Las Vegas. The visual of way-too-high-heeled shoes, beauty pageant sashes and tiaras popped into my head. I thought, “No way am I going to be a walking cliché.” But when everyone loved the idea but me, I thought I’d step outside my comfort zone, pack my heels...

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The Parents’ Voice: Key To School Success

When my husband and I bought our house in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in the west San Fernando Valley, we assumed our kids would eventually attend the local elementary school just down the street. But our tour a year before our oldest daughter was about to enter kindergarten left us feeling disappointed and panicked. Test scores were below average, enrichment programs such as art and music were not offered, there...

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Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know About Cutting

Non-suicidal self-injury, also known as “cutting” because that is the most popular form it takes, is frighteningly common among kids – though the problem is difficult to study. Some researchers believe that as many as 10 percent of 8-12-year-olds have attempted self-injury. “The statistics in this particular area are completely unreliable,” says Angela Kahn, founder of the L.A.-based Kahn Institute for Self-Injury. “We have enough anecdotal evidence to say that...

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Ashleigh Parsons: Making Kale Connections for Kids

If there’s one person who can get your kids to eat kale, it’s Ashleigh Parsons. Had she put her Harvard master’s to work in the classroom, the sweet 29-year-old would be everyone’s favorite teacher. But before getting that degree, she spent time juggling a job at an Oakland farm-to-table restaurant with volunteer work at an after-school program in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Taking the low-income kids from the food desert...

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Los Angeles Schools In the National Spotlight

Attaining recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School or National PTA School of Excellence is no small feat. It takes teamwork and collaboration among educators, parents, students and the community. Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among students. Nationally, there were 337 schools – 24 in California – that were recognized in 2014. National PTA Schools of Excellence...

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The “D” Word

As a child growing up in America, life can be difficult when dealing with a disability or birth deformity. These are children who had no choice in their heredity, but now are committed to a lifetime of coping with being “different.” For those whose deformities cannot be concealed, it is an even bigger challenge that they face — a challenge that most people will never understand. Having a birth deformity...

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5 Tips To Get You More Involved In Your Child’s School

When the school year began and you buttoned up your precious ones against the fall chill, kissed their cheeks and sent them off with the latest back-to-school goodies, did you make a silent vow that, this year, you would get more involved in your child’s school? More than likely, you’re next thought was, “What time is it?” Most days, after rushing to work and then home again, you can barely...

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A World of Travel Adventure For Kids

February brings with it a pair of Los Angeles events designed to get your mind dreaming of family adventures. The Progressive Insurance Los Angeles Boat Show returns with its unique two-location format. The Boat Show will fill three halls at the L.A. Convention Center (1201 S. Figueroa St.) while also docking at Burton W. Chace Park (13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey). It offers two great ways to see what’s...

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Finding a Private School With the Right Vibe

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was one of those mothers. You know the type, reading all the pregnancy books, taking the birth-education classes, sharing pregnancy symptoms with the other mommies-to-be during prenatal yoga class. Once my son was born, I continued on that path. I breastfed. I made his baby food. I enrolled us in a well-rounded roster of baby classes because I had read how...

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Preschooler

I still kick myself for taking a rock away from my 2-year-old. “You can’t carry a rock around other kids,” I explained, prying the flat, round object out of his hand. It was shellacked bright blue with a big “R” painted on it, a trinket we had once found on the ground. “Rigby rock” wasn’t a particularly special toy, but it was what he happened to choose before we left...

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Six Fun Ideas For Kids Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and while you might be picking out cards or ordering chocolates, you can also add a few fun family events to your plans. The California Shakespeare Ensemble will perform a selection the Bard’s love scenes in Descanso Garden’s Under the Oaks Theater at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. A special photo kiosk will offer a floral frame for you and your Valentine from 11 a.m.-4...

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Theater Improv Games are Fun Ideas For Kids

Some kids are naturally gregarious and social, and have no trouble making friends or speaking up in class. Others are shy, struggle to make connections with others, and dread being called on by the teacher – even when they know the answer. Theater improv games can help shy kids and those who need help with social skills, and are fun for all. Parents looking for fun ideas for kids will...

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Las Virgenes Unified School District Accepting Permit Applications

Los Angeles education does offer some flexibility in public schools. Parents who are interested in enrolling their children in Las Virgenes Unified district schools, but who do not live within the district boundaries, can apply for interdistrict permits through Feb. 15. Parents who work within the district qualify, and the process is open to students in grades K-12. LVUSD schools have API scores that put them in top 2 percent...

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Countdown To Summer Camp Los Angeles

When Valentine’s Day cards appear in stores, it’s time to think about summer camp. Maybe you’re sending your child to day camp for the first time. Perhaps your tween’s transitioning from day camp to sleep-away. Whatever your plans, use this month-by-month guide to help you through the process of preparing for summer camp Los Angeles style. February – Start your research. “Most camps should have their websites updated for the...

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Harlem Globetrotters Revenge Tour Comes to SoCal

Southern California sports fans know about rivalries. There’s the Dodgers vs. the Giants, UCLA vs. USC and the Lakers vs. the Celtics. But few sports rivalries can match that of the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. While the Globetrotters are world famous, the Generals are their longtime, downtrodden opponents. For decades, the Generals played against the popular Globetrotters, losing tens of thousands of games and winning an estimated six....

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Rethinking Pizza for Children’s Health

Move over sugary drinks, there is a new enemy in the war against childhood obesity. Pizza. Pizza is the second-largest contributor of calories to the diets of U.S. kids ages 2-19, according to a study in the February issue of Pediatrics, and study authors recommend making it a target in obesity-prevention and children's health counseling. Here are some findings based on dietary information from more than 12,000 kids across the...

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A Course In Stepmothering

When I became a stepmom eight years ago, there were few resources to guide me over the rough spots in my new life. I read the only thin book I could find on the subject of parenting step children, and its bottom line was: “It’s the hardest job you’ll ever have and no one will ever thank you for it.” Before step-motherhood, I thought I was a kind and thoughtful...

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Millennial Parents Explores Modern Parenting, One Click at a Time

When L.A.-based writer Jake Greene became a father in 2011, he was faced with the challenge of being a present parent while staying current in popular culture. His realization that previous generations had given no thought to this impossible task became the impetus for his web series Millennial Parents, co-created with writer Natalie Irby. The series, now in its second season, is steadily growing in viewership and exposure. The two-minute...

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Studying Tummy Troubles and Autism

Research has shown that children on the autism spectrum experience more, and more severe, stomach problems such as constipation and bloating than other children their age do. If your child is one of them, you might be interested in a study being conducted by the special needs researchers at the Boone Fetter Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Because the discomfort from these gastrointestinal issues can make school and social...

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Baking Tips From L.A. Cookie Con

If you weren’t among the thousands of people who surged through the Pasadena Convention Center Jan. 25 for the debut of the L.A. Cookie Con & Sweets Show, you haven’t entirely missed out. True, you won’t get to indulge in the hundreds of samples doled out by the dozens and dozens of exhibitors, but we did gather some baking tips to help you stir up something sweet at home. If...

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Choosing Musical Instruments For Children With Special Needs

Children experiencing special needs such as physical, emotional or intellectual challenges respond to music and can play music, but one important question remains. What instruments are best for these children and why? A few years ago, I read an article in Music Educators Journal discussing this very topic and giving suggestions. Here is a brief synopsis of that article and which instruments they suggest for children with specific physical and...

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Parenting Essay: Grocery Shopping with Kids in Tow

I know what you're thinking. There's no such thing as grocery shopping with one baby, let alone three. But I have my parenting ways. That is because I ask for help. A few appointments ran long while the kids were at daycare, so there I was at Albertsons in Reseda after picking up my 6-month-old twins and my very active 3-year-old. I walked into the store, and before I could...

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A Sweet Way To Spend a Day

Are you a chocoholic? Is baking one of your favorite fun ideas for kids? Ever wonder how to make a great ganache? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the L.A. Cookie Con and Sweets Show is for you. Even if you only dream about desserts, you’ll find things to enjoy at the West Coast’s biggest baking and pastry convention. There will be decorating and baking classes, demos...

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10 Quick Healthy Tips for Busy Moms

It may be difficult for moms to set aside time for themselves. They are often more focused on their children's health, and the thought of sticking to New Year’s Resolutions may add to stress rather than alleviate it. However, eating well and exercising benefits moms and everyone in the family. As a physician practicing at Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City and a working mom to active preschool twins, I know...

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Brain Training Technique Holds Promise For Kids With Special Needs

Using three short learning sessions with hour-long breaks in between could help children with fragile X syndrome remember material as well as typically developing children, according to neurobiologists from UC Irvine. A genetic condition, fragile X causes intellectual and developmental disabilities, and is associated with autism. People with fragile X typically struggle learning new skills and information. Working with mice bred to display characteristics of fragile X, Christine Gall, Ph.D.;...

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Los Angeles Education: The Archer School for Girls Opens New Media Lab

This month The Archer School for Girls in L.A. opened a new MediaSpace facility designed to encourage its students to pursue careers in media production in film, television and music. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility, funded through donations from the Ahmanson Foundation, Archer parents and supporters Martin Sandberg and Jenny Petersson, and Archer alumnae parents Lauren and Austin Fite, was Jan. 14. The MediaSpace will allow students...

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Cedars-Sinai Employs New Technology to Help Preemies Gain Weight, Sleep Better

Cedars-Sinai is using new devices to personalize the nutritional supplements of the smallest babies in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center. Doctors have begun using a device known as the Pea Pod to measure the body composition of these infants, improving the children's health. Resembling a mini MRI machine, the Pea Pod uses air displacement to calculate the percentage of each infant’s...

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Free Fun Ideas For Kids: National Parks Day

The National Park Service is offering you a deal that is hard to refuse if you're looking for fun ideas for kids – free admission. On nine special days, the NPS will waive its entrance fee. All are holidays, including Jan. 19 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), Feb. 14-16 (Presidents Day Weekend), April 18-19 (National Park Week’s opening weekend), Aug. 25 (NPS’s 99th birthday), Sept. 26 (National Public Lands Day)...

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Colds vs. Flu: Fever Makes a Difference for Children’s Health

Cold and flu season is upon us, and that means it’s time to invest in a good thermometer to help protect your children's health. That’s the advice of pediatrician Tanya Altmann, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Tracking fever can help you tell whether your child has a cold (more common) or the flu (potentially more serious). Colds typically involve mainly what Altmann calls “head symptoms” such...

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Parenting to Entrepreneur

From Parenting to Entrepreneur: Not Such a Stretch!

Today, you formulated a carpool plan, found a math tutor and baked two dozen muffins for the classroom party, and it’s not even 8 a.m. yet! Without realizing it, you are behaving like an entrepreneur. Parenting means creating something where nothing before existed. It means learning routines, when to delegate, when to give ourselves time outs, when to let go and how to be more flexible. Let’s delve into seven...

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January is National Radon Action Month – Protect Your Children’s Health

Radon gas is a nationwide problem, affecting one in 15 homes in the U.S. The colorless, odorless gas is invisible to the eye. It comes from decayed radium and uranium in soil, and invades homes and buildings through foundation cracks, openings and even directly through concrete, posing a threat to children's health and the health of the whole family. Radon is a carcinogen, and is the number-one cause of lung...

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L.A. Teachers Selected for Raytheon-Engineering is Elementary Scholarships

In a boost for LA education in the area of science, technology, engineering and math, five L.A. teachers have been awarded scholarships to attend a workshop at the Museum of Science, Boston. The workshop will help them implement the museum’s Engineering is Elementary STEM curriculum in their classrooms. Winners were selected based on the innovative methods they use to teach engineering concepts and to create enthusiasm among students. Among the...

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Children's Health

Where to Get Children’s Health Care

There are excellent healthcare options for your family in Southern California. Here’s how to access them. One day in November, a mom and dad brought their 13-year-old son to the Exer urgent-care clinic in Calabasas. They thought he had the stomach flu – just something a doctor should see. They were wrong about the flu, but right to seek medical care. The doctors examined the boy, took blood tests, and...

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Making it Their (Family) Business

These Moms Balance Work and Family By Creating Companies of Their Own For Rosie Pope, star of Bravo’s “Pregnant in Heels,” and creator and designer of Rosie Pope Maternity, the decision to start her own business was based on a lifestyle goal. “I knew I wanted to be a mom and have lots of kids,” says the London-born entrepreneur and author. “Being my own boss was the only way I...

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Helping Children Succeed By Allowing Them to Fail

Nothing is stronger than the parental urge to protect our children. It’s deep in our DNA. Yet this instinct, taken to the extreme, actually makes our children vulnerable as they grow into adulthood. As a university professor, I had a front-row seat for the coming of age of several young millennials, who often were afraid to step outside their comfort zones. Their fear turned into paralysis and, after college, they...

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10-Minute Ways to Put Yourself on Your To-Do List

Where did the day go? I was busy all day, but I can’t remember what I did. I’ll get to that when my schedule frees up a bit. Who hasn’t had one of these thoughts at least once a week, if not every day? With kids, perpetual activity is the default state. Gone are the days of predictable schedules and even a little downtime. Throw in work, community involvement and...

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Pregnant Moms Can Help Catch Preeclampsia Early

For most women, being pregnant is a wonderful experience. Getting prenatal care, eating healthy and exercising regularly are all important to help maternal health and delivery of a healthy baby. While physicians are always checking to make sure that mother and baby are healthy, expectant mothers can help be on the lookout for signs that they may need medical attention. High blood pressure disorders are among the most common medical...

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Eat, Sleep, Move: Parenting For Good Health

Health is complicated, but simple basics can make a big difference. How and what we eat, how well we sleep and how much we move are important. Use these healthy parenting tips to help your family be well in 2015. Eat Forget gluten free, paleo and cutting carbs. Eating right means slowing down. “I would like to see families take more time to prepare meals at home,” says Amy Childress,...

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Visually Impaired Preschoolers Learn From All Senses at TLC Preschool

It has taken 10 years of planning and fundraising, but the Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind (TLC) Inclusive Children’s Center and Preschool is now open with a brand-new building offering innovative programs to children ages 3-6 with visual impairment and special needs – as well as their typically developing peers. The preschool, opened in October, is designed for experiential learning and sensory integration. It incorporates the “High Scope Preschool...

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Three Ways to Help Kids With Test Anxiety

The second half of the school year will soon begin, and for many parents that means a return to tests and the fear they instill in our children. Often times test anxiety stems from one of two areas: fear of embarrassment and fear of failure. The main idea is to look to the root of the problem. Use positive parenting and these three tips to help your child lower their...

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Yoga With Special Benefits for Kids With Special Needs

Naam yoga is unlike any kind of yoga I’ve practiced before, and I have been practicing for more than a decade. The Naam style combines movement (mudra), sound (mantra) and breath (pranayama) to promote vibrant health within the body and mind, and I got to see its effects recently on a class of people on the autism spectrum. At the Naam Yoga studio in Santa Monica, I felt the floor...

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Mark McKee Chosen To Head Viewpoint School

Following an international search, Mark McKee has been unanimously selected by the board of trustees as the new Head of School at Viewpoint School in Calabasas. McKee began his journey in education at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, serving as an English teacher, Director of Technology and Director of Summer School. He also served as the Head of Upper School at Chase Collegiate School and currently holds a position as the...

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What Does Stay-at-Home Parenting Cost You?

Most working parents can relate to the desire to be with their children at every milestone. On the other hand, careers often provide satisfaction and a dual income that is important to the family. Mothers and, to an increasing degree, fathers must consider whether or not to stay at home with their children—a choice that can be difficult and very personal. One of the most immediate and pressing concerns in...

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Walking in Their Shoes – A Special Needs Sensory Simulation Event

I recently attended a parent workshop at the Frostig School in Pasadena, designed to give parents hands-on insight into what it’s like for students with special needs who struggle to read and write. Educational therapist Barbara Langeloh, M.A.,facilitated Experience Dyslexia – A Learning Disabilities Simulation. The goal was for participants to feel the frustrations our children experience daily, helping us deal more compassionately with them. The six simulation activities, created...

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Los Angeles Attractions Offer A Pint-Size Start To 2015

Staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve can be challenging for a child. When I was 9, I tried to wake up to ring in the new year, but set my alarm clock wrong and slept straight through till morning. Fortunately, Southern California kids now have several ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve on their own time, thanks to a number of Los Angeles attractions. The Children’s Museum at...

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Helping Kids Conquer Fear of the Dentist

Most dental visits are easy and painless nowadays, but scary stereotypes about the dentist persist. For kids who pick up on these stereotypes, fear of dental visits could lead to poor oral health well into adulthood. Talking with your child about their fears and hesitations about visiting the dentist and working to address their concerns is an important part of parenting. Here are some tips that will help you get...

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Parenting, Self-Control and the Marshmallow Test

Welcome to the time of year when we all focus on self-discipline (or at least we try). Recently, psychologist Walter Mischel has returned to both the popular and academic press with research regarding his famous marshmallow test, an experiment involving 4-year-olds and their ability to resist eating a marshmallow placed in front of them in the hopes of receiving a larger reward later. Mischel found that children who were better...

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Brain Balance of Brentwood Now Open

Nothing is more painful than to watch your child struggle. Difficulties in school, trouble making friends, tantrums and meltdowns are tough to observe, especially when you know that, underneath it all, you have a great kid. At the new Brain Balance Achievement Center of Brentwood, professionals work to address these challenges facing kids with special needs with a program that combines physical and sensory-motor exercises with cognitive skill training and healthy...

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Brooklyn Abbott: Blogging For Colitis Awareness

Not many people fully understand what it means to struggle with Crohn’s Disease or colitis (forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) on a daily basis. Symptoms can range from pain to anemia, severe fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite and joint pain. December is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, so we talked with Brooklyn Abbott, a former L.A. television producer, patient with colitis, single mom, advocate and popular blogger who gave...

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Get Lit Brings Poetry to L.A. Schools

On Nov. 23, I had the pleasure of attending “The Poetry of Television” hosted by Get Lit – Words Ignite. The event was held to commend some of television’s best writers and to honor Academy Award-winner Alan Ball (American Beauty) with the annual IGNITE award. The gala was held at The Dodgers Stadium Club and featured insightful performances from the Get Lit Players and speeches from Alan Ball and former...

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L.A. Parent’s Special-Needs Fair Connects Families With Resources

  L.A. Parent hosted its first Special Needs Resource Fair at the Zimmer Children’s Museum (6505 Wilshire Blvd., #100, L.A.; Dec. 7, attracting more than 200 L.A. families including children with special needs. Children enjoyed on-site activities, games and giveaways and played their way through the interactive museum. More than 20 exhibitors that provide services for families with special needs participated, connecting with guests, sharing information and answering questions....

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Volunteer Opportunities for Kids

We want to teach our children about the joys of volunteering, but not all volunteer opportunities are open to kids. The following organizations allow people of all ages to get involved, whether it’s in cleaning up the environment or donating books to children who can’t afford them. Friends of Ballona Wetlands is devoted to restoring and protecting the Ballona wetlands, a refreshingly open space that stretches from Lincoln Boulevard down...

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Have Yourself An Old-Fashioned Christmas

While it is easy to get caught up in Christmas present (gifts), we should not forget Christmas past (its heritage). Christmas is a holiday wrapped up in traditions, from jolly St. Nick to mistletoe kisses and those tree ornaments that have been handed down from generation to generation. Soak up the historic side of Christmas at holiday events all around Southern California. Heritage Square (3800 Homer Ave., L.A.) will offer...

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Finding Great Educational Apps for Your Kids

It’s amazing to see how education and information are changing, and how that rapid change is largely being driven by handheld devices. Children today have access to so many opportunities, largely because of the plethora of mobile apps. But are children spending their screen time learning, or just being entertained? A national survey of parents of kids ages 2 to 10 released early this year by the Joan Ganz Cooney...

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Light Up Your Hanukkah

This year, Hanukkah (or, if you prefer, Chanukah) commences on the evening of Dec. 16. There are a number of events in Southern California that commemorate this eight-day celebration. Popular children’s musician Doda Mollie, the woman behind the popular Chanukah Pajamikah CD, visits Children’s Book World (10580½ Pico Blvd., L.A.; at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 for a free “mini-pajamikah” party that includes holiday songs and stories for the whole...

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Enjoying a Special Day In the Kitchen

The holiday season sends most families into the kitchen, and we’ve got a fantastic way to make sure kids with special needs are included. “Special Day Cooking: A Life Skills Cookbook” by Beverly Worth Palomba includes more than 60 recipes designed especially for these special kids. The book covers breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus vegetables, soups and salads, drinks and snacks and dessert. The recipes are in large type, with...

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Young Artists Pitch In On Vintage Mural

Once upon a time, driving down Whitsett Avenue in North Hollywood meant a trip through orchards filled with orange trees, with the occasional billboard adding color and excitement. The orange groves are long gone, and for years the stretch of Whitsett between Sherman Way and Saticoy became an area of blight. A lengthy community clean-up and planting effort that began in 2013 transformed the area into a clean and green...

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Toxic Stress and Children’s Health

Nadine Burke Harris, M.D., shows her audience of healthcare workers, therapists and community activists a photo of a bear on the screen behind her to make her point. Encountering a bear in the woods – or other serious threat – makes the human brain pump powerful stress hormones and divert blood to the large muscles of the arms and legs so we can either fight or run away. It’s supposed...

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Panorama City Kids Get a Farmers’ Market Field Trip With a Local Doctor

Panorama City physician Carlos Mendez, MD, led a walking field trip with third-grade students, parents and staff from Ranchito Elementary school to the Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Farmers Market Nov. 19. Along the way, Mendez showcased interactive booths at the Farmers Market and chatted with the families about the benefits of physical activity and filling their plates with fresh fruits and vegetables. The field trip, part of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy...

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Celebrities Doin’ Good

Hollywood actors, recording artists and news anchors gathered Nov. 16 to create a charitable assembly line for kids in foster care during the third annual Celebrity Stuff-a-thon at Hotel Angeleno. The event, sponsored by Wells Fargo, is presented by the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA), which helps connect parents with the best family products. NAPPA partners provided the toys, books, music, DVDs and other essentials that went into duffel bags...

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L.A. Moms Share Special Friendships

In September, we asked moms to write in and tell us about the important friends in their lives. Then we partnered with Terranea Resort to put together a getaway for one special group of women. Dozens of touching stories came in, and we chose Kristine Willis as our winner. Here’s how she describes her group of mom friends: Getaway Winner: Kristine Willis I have known these amazing women from 20-35...

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L.A. Moms Share Special Friendships

In September, we asked moms to write in and tell us about the important friends in their lives. Then we partnered with Terranea Resort to put together a getaway for one special group of women. Dozens of touching stories came in, and we chose Kristine Willis as our winner. Here’s how she describes her group of mom friends: Getaway Winner: Kristine Willis I have known these amazing women from 20-35...

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Building a Communication Foundation

Building your child’s communication skills is the single most effective way to improve behavior, play and socialization. Children who can communicate their needs, wants, likes and dislikes are much less likely to cry, scream or protest. While most parents recognize the value of good communication skills, many are unaware that there are lots of ways to shape these skills long before children begin to use verbal speech. Communication is so...

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Lanai Road Elementary Receives National Blue Ribbon Award

By Elena Epstein The excitement was palpable as teachers, students, parents and administrators gathered to celebrate Lanai Road Elementary School’s coveted Blue Ribbon Award this week. The school, located in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood of Encino in the west San Fernando Valley, is among a handful of schools selected nationwide. Of the 24 California schools chosen for Blue Ribbon recognition this year, Lanai Road is the only one in the...

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2014 Hollywood Christmas Parade Is Full Of “Wonder”

One sign the yuletide season is approaching Southern California is the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. Celebrating its 83rd year, this longtime local holiday favorite has been described as the largest Christmas celebration in the country. It will include marching bands from across the country, equestrian acts, colorful floats and a number of celebrities, including Santa Claus. This year’s parade also salutes the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and...

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Contact Lenses Vs. Glasses for Active Kids

Is your child a student of karate? A competitive young swimmer? A baseball player for the local little league team? If your child has an active lifestyle and needs vision correction, contact lenses might be a better choice than glasses. Let’s look at some of the advantages of contact use for your pediatric champion. More stable vision. A child wearing eyeglasses can feel the frames move slightly on his or...

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Have a Handmade Holiday With Crafting Community

A day of art and family fun is coming to L.A. from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 13, when Crafting Community hosts its “Handmade Holiday” event at the historic Lombardi House in Hollywood. Families will be able to make five different crafts at the various stations, including personalized ornaments, holiday cards and leather wrap bracelets. In addition to the crafts, families can enjoy a festive holiday market, snacks, cookie decorating, photo...

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Meet Boy 5A: Representing 20,000 L.A. County Kids Who Need Families

By Elena Epstein The reception room inside Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts was filled with community supporters, families, and employees of Five Acres, a nonprofit organization focused on finding safe and permanent family solutions for children in L.A. County. But, the most anticipated guest remained under cover most of the evening. Boy 5A, a four-foot sculpture of a boy representing the 20,000 children currently living in foster care in...

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Light Up Your Holidays!

No matter how you choose to celebrate, twinkling lights are a festive part of the holiday season. Delight your kids with an outing to one of these local favorite illumination locations. The Mission Inn Festival of Lights, 5-10:30 p.m. Nov. 28-Jan. 6, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; Take a photo with Santa Claus and see this display of more than 4 million dazzling lights. FREE. Christmas Tree Lane, beginning...

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Author Sheila McCraith created The Orange Rhino after her handyman caught her yelling at her sons.

Quiet As An Orange Rhino

After an embarrassing incident when her handyman heard her screaming at her boys, Sheila McCraith, mother of four, pledged to refrain from yelling for 365 days. She began blogging as The Orange Rhino, and chronicled her yearlong, yell-free journey. Her post “10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids” was named one of the top parenting posts in January 2014 by The Huffington Post and has garnered...

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There’s Now More To Explore At Descanso Gardens

On Nov. 15, Descanso Gardens celebrates the opening of its first major garden addition in three decades. The Oak Woodland represents something old and something new. This lakeside green space is located near historic Boddy Lodge, but it boasts around 30,000 new plants that have been added in the last year. Most of the planting was done in March by a group of volunteers. The greenery features a mix of...

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When Kids Enter Puberty Early

Recently, a friend asked me, “How do you talk to younger kids who are developing earlier than other children?” His 7-year-old niece started her period and the family wasn’t sure how to talk to her about it. Working in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, I discuss puberty with teens, young adults and their families quite often. What is normal? What is abnormal?...

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Discover The Valley’s New Children’s Museum

The story of Southern California’s newest children’s museum is something like a fairy tale. Once upon a time, back when your parents were kids, the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles gave kids a place to play in downtown L.A. It was closed so that a bigger children’s museum could be built at the Hansen Dam Recreational Area in the San Fernando Valley. But the Big Bad Economy held the project...

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Navigating Video Game Ratings

You are at the multiplex with your family and your 13 year old wants to see an ?R-rated movie because “All the kids in my class have seen it and are talking about it. I’ll be left out if I don’t see it!” Do you buy your child a ticket and let them see it without you there to see it with them? Probably not. Now take this scenario and...

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Healthy Holiday: Santa’s Cookie Pops

Here in sunny SoCal, hot cocoa is still a favorite, but it’s also ice pop weather almost all year. Health-conscious families can get the skinny on a real treat with this recipe from Mom and Pop Shop, a local, family-owned business that brings all-natural popsicles to events of all sorts. Learn more about them at Santa’s Cookie Pops Yield 6-8 pops INGREDIENTS 1 can (13-14oz) Unsweetened Coconut Milk (if...

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Families Pitching In for the Holidays

In the movie of our lives – where we star as the Perfect Parent – we see ourselves unreservedly volunteering to visit the sick, feed the hungry and help those less fortunate. We see our children – inspired by our selfless acts – grow into adults who find ways to eliminate world hunger and make poverty a thing of the past. If only. Most parents I know have trouble squeezing...

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A special Halloween for Babies in the Intensive Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Volunteers were working hard on the days leading up to Halloween to ensure a festive celebration for the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Cedars-Sinai’s Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center. In what has become an annual tradition, volunteers from Good Beginnings and some nurses in the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center created adorable costumes, all handmade, for the tiny babies who were spending their first Halloween in the...

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Measuring Medications Correctly

It’s the middle of the night, your child has a fever and you find yourself in the kitchen, squinting at the numbers printed on the side of a tiny plastic cup. The bottle of Children’s Tylenol says the dose is two teaspoons. You pour, thinking you’ve got it right. But what if you don’t? In a study out this summer in Pediatrics, as many as 40 percent of parents made...

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Holiday Baking and Cooking Classes

After a long, hot summer that spills over into fall, we’re all ready for the weather to cool down and signal the start of holiday baking season. Get your kids into the spirit with these local cooking and baking classes. Mobile culinary school Kitchen Kid ( brings cooking and baking fun to families all over Los Angeles with its on-site offerings that combine arts and crafts with hands-on kitchen action....

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Put On Your Tutu and Walk With Ballet For All Kids

Elise Luna, 6, loves to dance. With her ballet DVD in hand, she twirls around her living room every chance she gets. One of the biggest treats of the week is her ballet class. While verbal communication is a challenge for Elise, who has autism, dance frees her to fully express herself. Elise takes classes at Ballet for All Kids in Encino. The studio, founded by Bonnie Schlachte, offers classical...

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Thanking Your Family’s Special-Needs Angels

Taking time to recognize and express our gratitude to others for the impact they have had in our lives is good for everyone, especially for families of individuals with special needs. Whether you employ direct service providers, or are a client of one, there are several ways to show your gratitude for their work. These special professionals sit knee-to-knee with children and teach them in circumstances that are sometimes challenging....

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Face Value Comics Introduces a New Kind of Hero

The first comic book specifically written and drawn to appeal to readers with autism, Face Value Comics creates a colorful world of aliens, robots and adventure, all set against the backdrop of a future Earth at war. But beyond its intended audience, Face Value makes history in another way. Its hero, Michael, is a young boy who himself has autism. As the story makes clear, Michael wants the same things...

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Flu Season Is Here – Time For Your Shots

While all the talk in the media seems to be about Ebola (including work on a vaccine), here in the U.S. people are at much greater risk of harm from a virus for which we already have a vaccine – the flu. As the annual flu season begins, the L.A. County department of public health announced that influenza vaccinations are now available at no cost to residents at public health...

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Family Stress and The Big Pause

Recently, someone commented that because I’m a psychotherapist who has practiced yoga for more than 20 years, I must float around in a sort of bliss-filled bubble of equanimity and peace. Eh, not so much! I’d say my life is filled with an above-average amount of minor to major life stressors. It doesn’t look like that is going to ease up in the immediate future. But that is why I...

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Archer School for Girls Opens Saban IDEALab

Leslie Castenada, a seventh grader at the Archer School for Girls in Brentwood, is excited to explain the video game she created for school fitness classes using the SCRATCH computer programming tool. At the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school’s new Saban IDEALab, Castenada shares her enthusiasm with visitors, including Amy Wakeland, wife of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Saban IDEALab, the physical hub housing Archer’s Integrated Design and Engineering...

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Trick-or-Treat, Run and Help This Halloween Season

Halloween giving usually means choosing treats to hand out at your door. The L.A. Cancer Challenge offers another way to give. Taking place at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 26 (the Sunday before Halloween), this annual fundraiser for the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research includes a 5/10K run and a Kids Can Cure Fun Run. The event gets into the holiday spirit with a Halloween Kid Zone with pumpkin decorating, live...

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Halloween ComicFest Features A Comic Book Free-For-All

Halloween and comic books are good at offering a good scare, so it is not surprising that there is a Halloween-themed comic book day. Comic shops across the country will celebrate the third annual Halloween ComicFest Oct. 25. Locally, Golden Apple, Meltdown Comics, Things From Another World and Earth 2 Comics are among stores scheduled to participate. Organized by Diamond Comic Distributors, the day will offer 19 new, and free,...

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Use Common-Sense Measures To Prevent Enterovirus

As cold and flu season gets underway, parents should also be on the lookout for signs of a sometimes-serious respiratory infection called enterovirus D68. There are 100 strains of enterovirus, and this particular one isn’t new. It was first identified in California in 1962. But Pia Pannaraj, M.D., an infectious disease specialist with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, says EV-D68, as the strain is known, “seems to have evolved in a...

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Stepping Up To the Plate For People With Autism

Danny Gott is 21 and has loved farm animals since he was a little boy. Danny also has autism. In honor of their special son, Danny’s parents, Cathy Gott and Jim Gott – former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and current pitching coach for the Anaheim Angels – founded Danny’s Farm in 2007. The nonprofit petting zoo has two missions: to serve children with special needs, and to employ...

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Play Date: Wild and Woolly Fun

In our urban jungle, there is plenty of wildlife of a more natural variety. If you and the kids are ready for a safari, check out these rescue and conservation centers for creatures both wet and dry. The mission of The Gentle Barn (15825 Sierra Hwy., Santa Clarita; 661-252-2440; is “teaching people kindness and compassion to animals, each other and our planet” – a noble goal, to be sure....

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Naked Babies and Healthy Body Image

While you might find the sight of your 1-year-old toddling naked through the kitchen adorable, you might feel differently if you’re having a dinner party and your little streaker is 4. And your reaction – including your tone of voice, the words you use, and your body language – are more important than you might think. “Those are sending early, early messages to your child about sexuality and about their...

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Pumpkin Preservation Tips

Does your Jack O’Lantern look more sad than scary after just a few days on the front porch? Keep him looking his best for visiting ghosts and goblins with these tips from Thomas Olton, a carver for RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns, coming this month to Descanso Gardens. Pick a pumpkin that has not been damaged. Even a tiny nick or scratch will cause the rotting process to begin rapidly....

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L.A. Says ‘Hello, Kitty!’

It’s hard to believe the adorable little character known as Hello Kitty is turning 40. She hardly seems to have aged a bit since 1974. Her parent company, Sanrio, is celebrating this big birthday with the first Hello Kitty museum exhibit to tour North America. “Hello! Exploring The Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” will reside at the Japanese American National Museum (100 N. Central Ave., L.A.; 11 a.m.-5 p.m....

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Big Draw L.A. Brings Art To October

Sharpen up your pencils, count your crayons and make sure your pens haven’t dried up – Big Draw L.A. returns this month. What is a Big Draw? It’s a month-long series of events organized by Ryman Arts since 2010. One of the great things about this program is that you don’t have to be a certain age, or even have drawing skills, to participate. It is all about being part...

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Beach Cities Kids Ride the Walking School Bus

More than 3,000 elementary students and parents in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach are expected to skip the carpool in honor of International Walk to School Day Oct. 8. But for these students, walking to school isn’t a once-a-year novelty. Each week, they choose leg power over horsepower as part of Beach Cities Health District’s “Walking School Bus” program. Last school year, students who regularly walked in the...

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9 Tips on Breaking Difficult News to Your Child

As a parent, one of the most important parts of your relationship with your child is communication and maintaining an open and honest relationship. Our children look to us for guidance and protection. For example, I always like to be the first to break news to my son, especially difficult news. That way I can control the environment and ensure the information provided will be accurate and truthful. This can...

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Local Scout Stands Tall Despite Challenges

Spencer Gates, a high school senior, has a condition that makes it difficult for him to walk more than a few steps, but he didn’t let that stop him from running with his passion for helping the community through Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts of America, Los Angeles Area Council (LAAC) serves more than 13,000 boys in 570 scout units in Los Angeles and 56 surrounding communities, from South Pasadena...

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Fertile Action For Women Facing Breast Cancer

Just weeks after her breast cancer diagnosis, Alice Crisci made the decision to preserve her fertility before she started treatment, and to help other women protect theirs as well. After realizing that many women couldn’t charge the $30,000 fee to freeze their eggs to a credit card, as she did, she started Fertile Action to help make fertility preservation affordable for anyone who applies. Crisci explains how she got the...

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Our Favorite Halloween Haunts!

Children pondering the October calendar might be impatient thinking of the 30 whole days they have to wait through until Halloween. That’s, like, 50,000 minutes! (Well, 43,200 to be precise.) The upside is that those minutes are jam-packed with events that celebrate the arrival of Halloween. And Southern California certainly has a bountiful harvest of fun this season. Zoo Boos and Sea Scares You can have a Boo At The...

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On Solid Ground

Your Family Can Be Ready For SoCal’s Next Big Earthquake   Welcome to L.A. Parent's earthquake readiness page. We've compiled this handy guide because, when we're talking about a major earthquake hitting Southern California, it's not "if," it's "when." We want your family to be prepared. We cover a number of topics here, but have tried to keep it simple. Just click below to jump to the section you're interested...

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Pujols Steps to the Plate for Special Needs

Albert Pujols has left an indelible mark on the game of baseball. Over the past 13 years, first with the St. Louis Cardinals and now with the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols has been one of the top hitters in the game and among its best all-around players. His two World Series rings – earned with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011 – and three National League Most Valuable Player Awards...

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There’s More to These Playgrounds Than Meets The Eye

When you look at a playground, you might see swings or a jungle gym, but children with disabilities see a fun place that’s inaccessible, excluding them from opportunities to play. Unless, of course, they are visiting one of Shane’s Inspiration’s universally accessible playgrounds, created to bring together children – with disabilities and without – through play. You can find them as far away as Russia, Israel and Ecuador and as...

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When It Is Not Autism: Examining Alternative Diagnoses

As awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased, there has also been a rise in the number of cases of the disorder. In 2000, it was estimated that approximately one in 150 children met criteria for autism, but that number has increased to one in 68. Some experts now question whether this means more children actually have autism, or whether the increase might be due to expansion of the definition...

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Finding Family Treasure With ‘The Boxtrolls’

The Boxtrolls, out Sept. 26 from Focus Features, takes us into the sewers of the town of Cheesebridge, home to the mischievous, trash-collecting Boxtrolls. Eggs (teen version voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright, The Awakening, Game of Thrones) is an orphaned boy who is raised by the Boxtrolls, who believe that one man’s trash is another man’s (Boxtroll’s) treasure. Cheese and social rankings are priorities for the citizens of Cheesebridge, and...

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Don’t Leave Your Child in a Hot Car

Parents and caregivers most often leave children in hot cars due to a change in routine or a quick errand that turns out to be longer than anticipated. Because of all the publicity and increase in children being left in sweltering cars, I was inspired to write this article. To learn more, I reached out to Helen Arbogast, MPH, CHES, manager of the Injury Prevention Program at CHLA. Did you...

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Westside Jewish Community Center offers New Program for Parents-to-be

The Westside Jewish Community Center is offering a unique new program for first-time parents. Jewish Baby University is a five-week program combining childbirth education with an exploration of Jewish tradition and rituals, concluding with a family Shabbat dinner. Each session features classes on a different topic, such as medical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, Jewish traditions and rituals surrounding childbirth, creating a Jewish home, Jewish life in Los Angeles, family financial planning and preparing mentally and...

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What’s Your Child’s Learning Style?

Years before research on the auditory, visual, and tactile learning styles was conducted and presented to the world at large, my mother, a 38-year veteran of the Los Angeles Unified School District, kept a dizzying array of tubs of things to count – such as beans, coins, and colored unifix cubes. She was always teaching the class a song or poem, and it seems as if they created a journal...

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Developmental Benefits of Tummy Time

One of the great benefits to working as a pediatric nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is learning from colleagues from other disciplines. For example, I am co-teaching a class at CHLA for parents on how to care for a child who has a g-tube (gastrostomy tube). An occupational therapist, who is also co-teaching the class, talked about her discipline’s role in helping these children get the nutrition they need,...

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How To Have a Great Family Portrait Session

This moment in your family’s life is precious, remarkable, and unrepeatable. The way your newborn curls her fists when she sleeps. The wide-open wonder in your toddler’s eyes. The developing relationship between your second-grader and your preschooler — those little rivals, little partners in crime. I’m a mother, too — a grandmother now, in fact — and I understand how valuable these moments are and how important it is to...

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How Girlfriends Getaways Help Moms Recharge

Women – especially moms – tend to take care of everything and everyone but themselves. And as important as our daily responsibilities might be, there is real value in taking a moment to rediscover what it is we want out of life, to re-establish our priorities and our passions. A wonderful way to kick-start this process is a night out, or even a weekend getaway, with our special girlfriends. Still,...

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5 Habits To Strengthen Your Parent-Child Bond

All relationships in life require work and effort, but building and maintaining a strong relationship with your child will most likely be one of the hardest challenges you’ll encounter. It’s not just about building a better relationship, it’s about building a connection -- a genuine connection filled with respect, communication, love and hope. Here are five habits that can help you build and maintain a strong connection with your children....

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Helping Your Child Organize, Plan and Follow Through At School

Do your children lose notebooks, books, sweatshirts, cell phones or school handouts? Do they forget books at school that they need for homework, or forget to turn in homework assignments even though they have completed them? Are there piles of paper stuffed in the pockets of their notebooks? Are you shocked when you see their school lockers with crumpled papers in disarray? Do your children wait until the last minute...

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Extracurricular Activities

No need to hit the classroom for a dose of learning. This month offers a host of events that offer a knowledge boost – and fun! For the 10th year, the Smithsonian is hosting Museum Day Live! On Sept. 27, museums across America – including the Zimmer Children’s Museum, the Grammy Museum, the California Science Center, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the...

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If the Doctor Didn’t Lather Up, Speak Up

Did you wash your hands? You’ve asked your child hundreds of times, but how about your child’s doctor? If you didn’t see the pediatrician lather up before examining your son or daughter, you should speak up, says James E. Stein, M.D., chief quality medical officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers should wash their hands – or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer – in the exam...

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Ready For Liftoff!

Supplies? Ready! Suited up? Check! 3-2-1 Blast off! It’s time to explore “Planet Kindergarten” (Chronicle Books, ages 3-5). Using space travel, L.A. author Sue Ganz-Schmitt has created a clever picture book to prepare children for the unknown in a relatable and reassuring way. The steps needed to safely navigate new territory are humorously illustrated award-winning local animator Shane Prigmore. The story is told from a young astronaut’s point of view....

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Explore The World At September’s Festivals

If you didn’t find time for family travel this summer, you will get a second chance this month. An international array of festivals taking place around Southern California offer the opportunity to experience cultures from around the globe. September is Latino Heritage Month, and several festivals will salute Hispanic culture. The first two are free! Celebrating Mexican independence, Fiestas Patrias fills Olvera Street Plaza (125 Paseo de la Plaza, L.A.)...

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Encounter Some Impressive Dinosaurs

We can’t know exactly what life was like during the Triassic or Cretaceous periods when dinosaurs walked the Earth. Science offers some clues, and the entertainment industry has its own approach. Walking With Dinosaurs, which started as a BBC TV series in 1999, has evolved into an impressive stage show, and will visit Southern California this month. The production Walking With Dinosaurs: Arena Spectacular stops at the Honda Center (2695...

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How To Access Regional Center Services For Your Child

If you have a child with special needs, you likely have been directed (or soon will be) to your local Regional Center. Don’t ignore this recommendation. The Regional Center System exists to help California families impacted by developmental disabilities find support and resources, and access lifetime services if needed. California is one of the only states to offer this type of assistance, beginning in the 1960s at the urging of...

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Music is for Everyone

As someone who has been teaching music for more than 20 years, I have been fortunate to have taught students from every age group. The one constant I continue to see is the misconception by many adults that there’s a certain age limit by when a child needs to start learning music. The age varies, depending on the parent, but the average seems to be around age 12. This imaginary...

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Back-To-School Tips For Kids With Autism

For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families, returning to school after a string of relaxed summer days can be stressful, intensifying repetitious verbal and motor behavior on the part of the child. This stress can be reduced or even prevented – for child and parents alike – with the following 10 transitional tips. Prepare the Teacher 1. Awe the teacher with innovative communication. Teachers are busy, especially during...

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Battling Back-to-School Asthma

One in 11 kids in L.A. County has asthma. If your child is one of them, you might have noticed more flare-ups at the start of each new school year. Many hospitals report that asthma-related visits from kids peak around mid-September. The weather is part of the problem, with allergens that can trigger attacks increasing in late summer, and pollens and molds made airborne by the hot, dry conditions. Classrooms...

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New Kids’ Club Offers Lots of Fun Activities at the Glendale Galleria

The Glendale Galleria has a fun new Kids’ Club featuring different activities from 10 a.m.-noon every Tuesday. Presented by the Zimmer Children’s Museum, the free activities and entertainment are designed for children ages 10 and younger. Activities include theater skits, craft projects, interactive sing-alongs, musical performances, carnival games and much more. For a listing of Kids’ Club events, visit: The Galleria is also working in collaboration with the Glendale...

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Making Nature Visits Easy in the Audubon Center

I often want to spend time outdoors with my son, to let him poke around the leaves, jump, run, climb and get dirty – but without the crowds and without a big production. One of my favorites spots in Los Angeles is the Audubon Center at Debs Park (4700 North Griffin Ave.; 323-221-2255; It is small enough that you can keep an eye on your child, and wild enough...

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Conquering Behavior Challenges With Collaborative Problem Solving

Some children just seem to have more behavioral challenges than average, in spite of excellent parenting. They might be chronically agitated, have low tolerance for frustration and minor schedule changes or frequently argue with or actively defy the adult authority figures in their lives. These children are often in trouble at school and other extracurricular activities, resulting in frequent phone calls to their exasperated parents. To add insult to injury,...

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CHLA Board of Trustees Co-Chair Ted Samuels presents a plaque to honor Costco's $10 million gift to CHLA. Accepting plaque is  Bruce Greenwood, Costco senior vice president and general manager. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES

Costco Donates $10 Million to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Making the largest single corporate gift Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has ever received, Costco Wholesale Corporation has made a $10 million philanthropic commitment to support the pediatric medical facility. In honor of this gift, the second floor of the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion, home to the hospital’s Heart Institute, will be named the Costco Wholesale Floor. "Costco Wholesale has been a significant partner in our mission to...

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Ten Tips: Breastfeeding and Back to Work!

Everyone is focused on back-to-school at the moment, but it’s also National Breastfeeding Month! New moms headed back to work might wonder how they are going to make breastfeeding and their jobs work together. Here are some simple tips to make breastfeeding and your transition back to work a little easier! Before baby is born … 1. Plan to breastfeed. Simply making a plan and setting a time goal for...

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A Camp That Demands An Encore

Bravo! As a mother of three – and former drama student – I require each of my children to participate in a theater production. Do I want them to become professional actors? God, no. But theater builds character. It teaches self-confidence. It quells the emotion of embarrassment, which hinders so many of us from living in the moment. Theater teaches us to let go and not to take ourselves so...

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Ballet for All Brings Dance to Typical Kids and Those With Special Needs

Elise Luna, 6, loves to dance. With her ballet DVD in hand, she twirls around her living room every chance she gets. One of the biggest treats of the week is her ballet class. While verbal communication is a challenge for Elise, who has autism, dance frees her to fully express herself. Elise has been taking classes at Ballet for all Kids in Encino for the past year. The studio,...

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Superheroes Wash Windows, Lift Spirits At Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA

A team of very special “grime fighters” turned out Aug. 13 to tidy up at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. And the results were just super. Building window washers dressed as Batman, Captain America, Spiderman and Wonder Woman – all from the hospital’s window-washing vendor, Sunland Window Cleaning – descended on their cleaning platform from the hospital roof down to the fifth-floor outdoor Chase Child Life terrace, where they joined pediatric...

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Get Your Child to Stop Picking Their Nose

My nephew recently came up to me and said, “I have a boogie,” as he held out his finger and waved a ball of freshly plucked mucous in front of me. Gross. I immediately remedied this situation by handing him a tissue and sending him to the restroom to wash his hands. Nose picking is a common habit among kids. In preparation for writing this article, I had the pleasure...

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Catch Up On Vaccines for Back-to-School

With the new school year’s arrival, it’s a good time to catch up the family’s vaccinations. Here are a few reasons it is extra important this year: Measles has been on the rise. L.A. County has been seeing a higher-than-usual number of measles cases according to the county department of public health, which began reminding residents to catch up on their Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine in early March. Statewide,...

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The Back-To-School Boogie: Tips For Teachers And Parents For A Smooth Transition

Regardless of whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a student, August marks the turn of the tides when school supplies, planners, and new-school-year jitters take center stage. It is an exciting time for some, and a dreadful time for others. Each parent, child and teacher is unique and has his or her own feelings about school starting, and that is perfectly natural and normal. Here are some key...

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Set Sail For Fun

  All hands – and feet – can be on deck as August brings a high tide of sailing events. Sailing into the Port of Los Angeles Aug. 20-24 will be the spectacular Tall Ships Festival ( This is one of just three West Coast stops for these historic vessels. Visitors can step aboard more than 10 mighty boats – including the twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, official...

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Protect Your Family Against West Nile Virus

The 2014 West Nile virus season is underway in L.A. County, with the Department of Public Health confirming the first human cases of WNV infection last week. A San Fernando Valley woman in her 60s was hospitalized and is recovering. A man in his 20s who donated blood in late July was found to be infected, but has no symptoms and remains healthy. WNV is spread through the bite of...

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The Kid-Friendly Foods of Summer

Believe it or not, summer might be the perfect time to give your picky toddler a nutritional makeover. At least, that’s what Scott Cohen thinks. Cohen is a Beverly Hills-based pediatrician whose daughters are 4 and 6, and he admits that toddlers can be tricky. “There is always a struggle between wanting to be in control and having that control,” he says. Toddlers crave independence, but thrive on structure. He...

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‘Break It Down’ Total Sports Offers Special-Needs Fall Soccer Program

“Break It Down” Total Sports, which launched in June in Hermosa Beach, is gearing up for its second session of sports for young athletes with special needs. The program has a mission to teach children with special needs sports skills in a positive environment and to develop their motivation to participate using Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) teaching strategies. The fall session, which begins Sept. 6, will focus on soccer. Co-founders...

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Jr. Dodger Broadcasters Are Fielding Their Dreams

If your son or daughter is a baseball fan, the Jr. Dodgers Broadcast program could put them in the middle of a field of dreams. Kids in the program, ages 8-14, broadcast Sunday home games over the Internet at and are treated like every other member of the media. That means they must arrive several hours before the first pitch to do their prep work and conduct interviews with...

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Turning Sexual Images In The Media Into Teachable Moments

Last week, a friend posted this question on Facebook: “Help! How should I handle my 8-year-old questioning me about the ‘Sex Tape’ billboards around town?” Her post received comments with suggestions that ranged from outright lying to deceit, denial, deafness and the favorite of many moms, “Ask your dad.” Rather than run away from the question, though, I think we need to make the Sex Tape billboard into a teachable...

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Dads Uniting Dads in Education might look like goofy fun, but it’s a serious way for fathers to get involved in schools. PHOTO COURTESY D.U.D.E.S.

D.U.D.E.S. Making a Difference

Scan the crowd of volunteers manning a school event, and chances are you’ll see mostly moms, with a few uncomfortable looking dads. But not in South Pasadena. Thanks to a grassroots organization called D.U.D.E.S. – Dads Uniting Dads in Education & Service – fathers in South Pasadena show up in full force when a cry goes out for parental help. D.U.D.E.S. is the brainchild of Jeff Kirschenbaum, a dad at...

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Compton Jr. Posse: Horses and Hope

In a place as diverse as L.A., it shouldn’t be surprising that you can find a posse of kids on horseback in Compton. But the members of Compton Jr. Posse aren’t just out for a joy ride. The organization, the brainchild of Mayisha Akbar, helps keep kids off the street, away from gangs and in school. As a side benefit, the kids connect with the animals, and each other, and...

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Bridging the Digital Divide Between Kids and Grandparents

In the digital world where we are raising our children, it seems that toddlers, teens and everyone in between is obsessed with technology and media. As growing numbers of grandparents occupy stools at the Apple Store Genius Bar, desperate to keep up, others choose to remain offline. How, then, can parents bridge this technology gap between their parents and their children, to help preserve the grandparent-grandchild bond? Yalda T. Uhls,...

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An Unusual Mix Of Surf and Turf

Mud, tar, sand and water – these aren’t the materials for a strange science experiment. They’re the ingredients for some of this month’s most unique events. Families will get a rare chance to dig deep into Southern California’s history when Mud Mania returns to Rancho Los Cerritos from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Aug. 17. At this celebration of adobe, you can plaster a wall with mud, construct a small adobe house, create...

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Outings On the Spectrum

Taking your children out on an excursion where everyone has fun can feel like a major accomplishment for any parent. If you have a child with autism spectrum disorder, a successful outing might be even more of a challenge, but just as much of a necessity. Regardless of a child’s level of ability, participating in community outings is a skill that will ultimately enhance her or his quality of life....

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Back-to-School Help For Kids Who Stutter

Actress Nicole Kidman, NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal and Vice President Joe Biden all overcame stuttering and had successful – and high profile – careers. As the new school year commences, are you wondering how your child will manage? “One in every 100 people stutters,” says Jane Fraser, president of The Stuttering Foundation. “But as many as two or three younger children in each classroom may struggle with this complex disorder.”...

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Straight Teeth For Kids With Special Needs

For many kids, braces are a rite of passage – not an enjoyable one, but worth enduring for straight teeth and a lovely smile. For children with special needs, however, braces can be more than a nuisance. Children on the autism spectrum, and those with cerebral palsy and other challenges, are extra sensitive to having wires and brackets in the mouth and often damage the appliances. Traditional braces also make...

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L.A. After Dark: Summer Nights Offer Family Fun That Beats the Heat

When you think about the joys of summer, your first thought might be the fun of spending school-free days out in the sun. But one of the great things about the summer is that the fun can continue long after the sun goes down (and things cool off a bit). To quote those great philosophers Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson (from the movie Grease): “Summer days drifting away, to uh-oh...

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A Mom Reporter’s UCLA Daytrip

Los Angeles is composed of many interesting and unique neighborhoods. We decided to spend the day in Westwood, specifically at UCLA. We wanted to visit two interesting places that would have a lot of activities for our 3½-year-old son. In the morning, we went to the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden (100 Stein Plaza Driveway; 310-825-1260; In the afternoon, we headed over to the Fowler Museum (UCLA North Campus,...

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Old School, New School: Online, At-home and Other Alternatives

With hundreds of public, private and charter schools in Los Angeles, parents have plenty of educational options for their children. Still, some families look for even greater flexibility through nontraditional schooling – from homeschooling to small independent schools to online schools that have no campus. Why choose an option that often requires greater hands-on involvement and financial commitment than what’s available through traditional schools? And how do you know if...

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Being On Stage Is a ‘Miracle’ For Teens On the Spectrum

I don’t know much about autism, but I’m hearing phrases such as “on the spectrum” and “high functioning” more and more often. When I gave birth to my first son in 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting that one in every 150 children had autism. Today that number is one in 68. Parents of children on the autism spectrum might worry about their child’s differences,...

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Telling Tales: Secrets For Sharing Your Story So Kids Will Listen

Once upon a time, when my little girl was 5, our family took a trip to Paris. While my husband was out handling the business part of our business vacation, Lauren and I went to visit the Louvre. It was a November weekday and the museum was wonderfully uncrowded – except for a large tour group from Japan blocking our view of the Mona Lisa. Determined that we would gaze...

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Tips for Keeping Preschoolers Fit

Most health experts say most of us sit too much – and that includes our children. While obesity rates among preschoolers have been declining, as many as eight percent are still overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there’s plenty you can do to keep your little ones moving – and make sure they eat right – says Angela Johnson, executive director of...

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Book Review: Sibling Rivalry, Donkey Style

As the father of four, L.A. author and illustrator Max Kornell is no stranger to the sounds of sibling rivalry. “Me First” (Nancy Paulsen Books, ages 5-8), his latest picture book, explores this common family dynamic courtesy of two young donkeys, Hal and his younger sister Martha. The book begins with Hal and Martha ready for a game of checkers. Who will start? Both children shout, “Me first!” And so...

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A School Offering a Whole New World

All your child’s favorite games – from block building to painting, pretend play and beyond – are at the center of the new toddler and preschool curriculum at World City Center, which will kick off its first semester in August. World City Center (3911 W. Adams Blvd., L.A.) is a new stomping ground where toddlers and preschoolers learn using educational play in a dual-language environment. The center’s curriculum is child-centered,...

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The Balancing Act: Free Play vs. Structure

Oh, summer. A more relaxed routine, bright sunshine and time that isn’t so planned. Each spring, leading up to summer, I toil with the question of how many camps to enroll my boys in. How much time should I take off from work, and how do I want to remember the summer? We all know how quickly the years go by. In our house, the first week of summer is...

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Kole Kodimer: A Westhills Champion

A baseball league for kids with special needs that started as an 11-year-old boy’s Bar Mitzvah project has, in just two short years, developed into a family and community passion. Guaranteed to make you smile, the Westhills Champions baseball league has become a point of community pride. The athletes, whose physical and mental limitations vary, play baseball and form life-changing bonds with local teen volunteers. The league was launched by...

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Local Pediatrician Brings Contemporary Styling to Hospital Scrubs

Pediatrician Neela Sethi Young, M.D.,was always sketching glamorous fashion designs as a little girl. With a penchant for maxi dresses and heels, the young pediatrician found the wide-cut, unisex blue scrubs she had to start wearing during her clinical rotations in medical school not quite up to her aesthetics. “As I put my first scrubs on, I thought they gave me the wrong one. These must be for a man....

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Kids Get a Chance At Normal When Incontinence Problems Are Treated

Potty training doesn’t always go smoothly, but what if it never quite happens? What if your child is 6 or 7 and still can’t make it through the day clean? It’s a frustrating situation for the parent, sure. But it’s devastating for the child. “One kid came into Cedars ER and basically said that he wanted to kill himself,” recalls Philip Frykman, M.D., associate director of pediatric surgery at Cedars-Sinai...

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How to Manage Your Child’s Peanut Allergy

Did you know that peanut allergy is the third most common food allergy for children in America? To learn more, I partnered with Ronald Ferdman, MD, physician in theDivision of Clinical Immunology and Allergy at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I’ll explain how you can help manage your child’s peanut-free lifestyle during grocery shopping and at school. Peanut Allergy Facts A peanut allergy is a rapid reaction to the ingestion of...

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Kids Acting Up: Local theater classes offer a world of opportunity for children to take center stage

What do you do when your kids act up? Since the first film studios opened in Hollywood more than a century ago, people have flocked to Los Angeles to become movie stars. So it should be no surprise that Southern California is home to a huge number of acting schools for adults and kids alike. If your child is interested in acting, setting goals will help you sort your options....

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All’s Fair This Summer In Southern California

If you like riding roller coasters, playing Ring A Duck and eating anything deep-fried, you are a fan of fairs. This month officially signals the start of Fair Season in Southern California, which boasts a trinity of terrific county fairs. First up is the OC Fair, which opens July 11 and runs through Aug. 10. With this year’s all-so-appropriate theme “Summer Starts Here,” this fair offers something fun for everyone...

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Danielle Smith

Ways to help your child lose weight safely

How many fast-food restaurants have you driven through at 6 p.m. on a work night, with a hungry child screaming at you? Many of us have, and as parents we likely feel guilty. Childhood obesity is rapidly on the rise in this country. A recent study published in the Wall Street Journal sites the obesity epidemic as global: 2.1 billion people, or about 29 percent of the world's population, were...

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A World Of Big Summer Fun On Cahuenga

Cahuenga Pass connects the Valley to the Los Angeles basin, and also connects people with entertainment. Most people are familiar with the nighttime shows at its two famous venues, the Ford Amphitheatre and the Hollywood Bowl. But families shouldn’t forget the daytime children’s programs happening during the summer. The Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.; will again present its SummerSounds series, introducing kids to a world of music...

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Food On Wheels For Four-Legged Friends

Some food trucks serve hot dogs, and some serve all dogs. This Fourth of July Weekend, come join Milo’s Kitchen food truck on their patriotic weekend stops. We all treat our dogs like family, and the folks at Milo’s Kitchen believe dogs deserve to eat delicious treats set to the same standard as the rest of our family’s snacks. They’ve created treats made with 100 percent domestically sourced meat, with...

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Overcoming Shyness Through Music

By Oksana Kolesnikova When I was a little girl, I had a problem many children face: I was shy. It was difficult for me to relate to my classmates, not to mention the trouble I had talking to my teachers. I felt like I had nothing that would show the world that I was special. Then, thanks to my parents, I found music. I began studying piano and suddenly I...

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Special Olympics track athletes run with joy, regardless of how they finish. PHOTO BY CORY HANSEN

Santa Clarita To Serve as Special Olympics World Games 2015 Host Town

The City of Santa Clarita has been officially selected as a Host Town for the Special Olympics 2015 World Summer Games. Before the games begin on July 25, 2015, more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will be welcomed to Southern California through the “Host Town” program, which includes 100 communities from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Host towns provide the athletes with hospitality, and treat them to a...

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Go Fourth! – And Celebrate Independence Day

By Michael Berick It’s not hard to find fireworks on July 4th. Just look up. However, if you are looking for more bang for your buck, Southern California is home to many interesting Independence Day events. Head to the hills – Big Bear Lake, to be precise – for that city’s annual Fireworks Spectacular, where the pyrotechnics launch from a barge anchored in the middle of the lake (630 Bartlett...

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Evaluating Research 101 – Your Handy Guide To Evidence-Based Interventions

By Lisa Stoddard, M.A., BCBA From the time our children are born, we parents are faced with a seemingly endless stream of decisions. Disposable or cloth? Cow’s milk or soy? Montessori or Waldorf? But for parents of children with special needs, decisions about treatments and therapies can be daunting. When facing a sea of conflicting theories, treatment models and news reports touting the latest study, how does a parent determine...

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Target and The Honest Company Team Up

  Westwood Target shoppers got an “honest” surprise June 25 as they stumbled upon an in-store launch event celebrating the chain’s new partnership with The Honest Company (, a brand that offers natural, non-toxic family essentials. Six interactive stations, including a fun photo booth and a trivia board, were set up around the store. Each provided guests with the opportunity to learn more about the Honest Co. collection now available...

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Free Beach Wheelchairs Keep Summer Fun Rolling

By Christina Elston Last spring, Jim Schwab and his family traveled to Southern California from their home in Atlanta, and some friends recommended a visit to Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. Schwab and his wife, Helen, have 15-year-old twins, Matt and Alison, and Alison has cerebral palsy. They were delighted to find that her need for a wheelchair wouldn’t keep her off the beach. “During our visit, Alison...

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Pediatric Obesity Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Receives $1.5 Million Grant

The EMPOWER Weight Management Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – dedicated to helping young patients struggling with significant weight issues, and their families – has received $1.5 million from the UniHealth Foundation to help expand clinic hours and community outreach activities. EMPOWER stands for Energy Management for Personalized Weight Reduction, and the clinic is part of the Diabetes and Obesity program at CHLA. EMPOWER gives patients access to a...

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Unplug For Successful Family Dinners

By Randi Goodman, LMFT When I was a child, I remember family dinners as a time to be with the family without interruptions. When the phone rang, my mother would scream, “Nobody answer that.” As a mother myself, I find it difficult to hold a conversation with my children without them being attached to their cell phones and other electronic devices. They are Tweeting, Facebooking, and looking at Instagram instead...

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The Value of Pretend Play

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials Does your child love to dress up as a fearless superhero and conquer menacing villains, or reenact a scene from his or her favorite movie with friends? Maybe your little one can transform a cardboard box into a bottomless treasure chest … with just his or her imagination! If so, your child is engaging in pretend play, an...

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Safer Play For Kids and Dogs

By Lesley Brog As founder and Chief Animal Lover of Los Angeles-based dog rescue Wags and Walks and mom to three girls, I’ve seen firsthand how kids and dogs best go together. There is truly nothing better for a child than the love of a dog. It builds a child’s confidence, immune system and communications skills. That said, there are some important things to know so that the dogs and...

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3 Things Parents and Students Need to Know About the New SAT

By Steve Dorfman Since the College Board recently announced sweeping changes to its flagship SAT exam, parents and students have been in a frenzy to figure out what all the changes mean. Here are three things that all parents and students need to know about the new SAT. 1. The test is not being administered until 2016. That means for parents who have children that are currently in 10th or...

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Burn-Injury Prevention Tips For Your Family

By Delilah Dees, BSN, RN, PHN, Remedies nurse blogger at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles The American Burn Association states that more than 136,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year due to burn-related injury. Continue reading as I explain the three types of burns, why babies are more at risk and how you prevent your child from burn-related injury. Burns are classified into three categories depending on how bad...

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What Will Your Kids Be This Summer – Bakers, Bowlers, Backyard Campers?

By Michael Berick School is out but kids don’t have to stop learning. If your child loves to cook, check out the Panera Bread Bakers-in-Training program, where kids ages 5-12 can take baking classes at select Panera locations (La Mirada, Lakewood, Pasadena, La Cañada, Walnut, Pico Rivera and City of Industry). They’ll get a tour of the restaurant’s kitchen and learn about making baguettes and cookies. Panera will donate baguettes...

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A Holiday In a Whole Other Language

You’ve probably heard the words “schlep” or “nosh,” but there are lots more wonderful words in Yiddish, a hybrid of Hebrew and German. L.A. actress and author Ione Skye has incorporated more than a dozen of them into “My Yiddish Vacation” (Henry Hold/Christy Ottaviano Books, ages 5-8), a fond fictional childhood reminiscence based on her own life. The book, illustrated by Scott Menchin, follows the adventures of Ruth and Sammy,...

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Drink-up: Kids Encouraged to Choose Water

The kids at the Burbank Community YMCA had a special treat June 11 when actress Eva Longoria, representatives from Brita water filtration systems and television camera crews took over their play yard as part of Brita’s nationwide summer kick-off campaign to encourage kids to drink more water. Brita has teamed up with the national YMCA to donate water filtration pitchers and dispensers to locations throughout the country. During Wednesday’s kick-off...

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It’s Gumby Time Again

By Michael Berick What can you do with a lump of clay? In the 1950s, Art Clokey transformed it into a legendary character named Gumby. After being introduced on the popular TV show “Howdy Doody,” Gumby went on star in his own long-running show. During Gumby’s first heyday, Clokey and his wife, Ruth, created stop-motion animated cartoons of Gumby from their home studio. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 14, Glendora...

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Manage Your Child’s Cat Allergy

By Judith Tighe, RN, CPN, RN Remedies nurse blogger at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles When I was growing up in London, England, we had a cat, as well as other animals including rabbits, chickens and one tortoise. Since then, we have carried on the tradition with two to three cats at any given time. You can imagine my surprise when my daughter moved away from home only to find out...

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U.S. News Ranks Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Best In the West

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named to the Honor Roll of the nation’s “best” children’s hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report rankings released online June 10. It is one of only 10 children’s hospitals in the country and the only hospital on the West Coast to make the magazine’s Honor Roll in 2014-15. CHLA has earned a spot on the esteemed list of best children’s hospitals every...

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Summer Pix That Click With Kids

By Michael Berick Summertime is one of the prime seasons for family movies, and this year is no exception. Soaring into cinemas June 13 will be How To Train Your Dragon 2. It has been four years since audiences met the gawky teen Viking named Hiccup and Hiccup met the cute dragon named Toothless. The sequel finds the duo exploring the world beyond their island home of Berk, and encountering...

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WAVE Awards Honor Venice Teachers

By Elena Epstein We all know the tremendous impact a teacher can have on a child’s life. In Venice, a group of parents and community and business leaders has created an annual tradition celebrating the dedication and passion of the educators in their community. The 4th Annual WAVE Awards, held May 8 at the Rose Café and Market, brought together 17 local schools and organization for a fun evening of...

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Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Your Family

With so many types of sunscreens available, it is easy to get overwhelmed at the local drug store. Understanding what you might see on sunscreen labels will allow you to choose the right sunscreen for you and your family’s needs. What Does UVA and UVB Mean? Sunlight consists of two types of harmful ultraviolet radiations: UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate into the thickest layer of skin and have...

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Stoop inside

Why Dad Is Our Hero

A little more than three years ago, Joe Stoop decided to become a stay-at-home dad so that his wife, Jessica, could go back to work as a public health nurse. He jokes that he was lazy, and he thought it would be easy just hanging out with his three kids. “But it was the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I transformed into this person who’s not lazy,” he smiles....

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Making Summer Safer For Kids

By Elena Epstein When asked about their favorite summertime childhood memories, the eclectic panel of speakers brought together by LiveHealth Online last night at the Palihouse in West Hollywood became nostalgic. “I loved summer camp,” said digital lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch, founder of Forward Living and mom of two. “I loved that we could get lost in our own social nonsense.” “The greatest day of every year was the last...

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College Extracurriculars

Extracurricular Activities: What Colleges Really Care About

By Steve Dorfman Everybody knows colleges want well-rounded students. Kids are asked to volunteer, join sports teams, participate in clubs and be a part of student government. However, there are actually only three things that colleges care about when looking at extracurricular activities, and being “well-rounded” is not one of them. Consistency. The biggest misconception is that students should be involved in many activities. In reality, not only are colleges...

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Girl Athletes Should Train To Protect Their Knees

By Christina Elston ACL injuries in girls don’t happen quietly, and usually don’t involve impact. A girl will be dribbling the ball down the soccer field, pivot to avoid an opposing player, then collapse dramatically, often accompanied by an audible “pop.” “You’re going to see it. Oftentimes you’re going to hear it,” says Gregory Adamson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.  ...

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Kids can pan for gold at The Autry this summer. PHOTO COURTESY THE AUTRY

Build Your Own Summer Camp

By Michael Berick Southern California is home to many wonderful camps, and they are a great way to fill up a summer. But your family can construct their own camp schedule using ongoing and summer programs in place at museums, malls, and other places around Los Angeles. Here are a few examples of programs going on this summer and (in some instances) throughout the year. Weekends are terrific times to...

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Step Up Summer Learning! Seven Simple Ways to Help Prevent Summer Slide

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials As the clock slowly ticks down to the final ring of the school bell, kids everywhere dream of those long days of summer filled with endless playtime and carefree fun. However, while this break from the classroom gives kids the chance to relax and revive before the next school year, it can also have another, unintended effect, called...

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Navigate Your Child’s Soy Allergy

By Robert Giesler, BSN, RN, RNC-NIC, RRT, CPST, RN Remedies nurse blogger at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Allergies come from different sources such as dust, cats, soy, peanuts, etc. They are a major cause of illness in the U.S. Up to 50 million Americans, including millions of kids, have some type of allergy. Since allergies affect many families, I wanted to learn more and share information about soy allergy. Soy...

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Taking the Blues Out of Jeans

By Christina Elston Stephanie Alves started sewing at age 10, and grew up with a brother with developmental disabilities. The clothing available made it truly challenging for him to dress himself. This was in the 1970s, when there wasn’t even Velcro on tennis shoes. “When I was a teenager, my mom said, ‘Why don’t you make clothes for people like your brother?’” Alves says. During more than 25 years as...

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The Help Group

A New Campus For The Help Group

The Help Group has opened a new campus in Culver City. The state-of-the-art educational facility is designed for children with autism and other special needs. The Help Group 12095 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles

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Parenting Help From Your Inner Child

By Dahlia Greenbaum, Parent Educator   Being a parent, unlike any other experience, can fill us with heart-bursting love and full-bodied joy one moment, while moments later exposing our deepest vulnerabilities and most uncomfortable feelings. Quite a huge impact from such a small human being, right?   When I meet with clients, one of the first ideas I offer is that most of parenting has nothing to do with our...

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June Special-Needs News

The Help Group Opens New Culver City Campus On May 21, The Help Group, a nonprofit serving children with special needs related to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional problems at specialized day schools, celebrated the ribbon cutting for its new educational facility in Culver City. The building features state-of-the-art classrooms; science, media/computer and “innovation” labs; an arts studio and an 8,000-square-foot rooftop recreation area....

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Creating Custom Reward Systems For Children With Autism

Be creative and consider the child and the setting when working to shape behavior. By Christina Elston Not long ago, Michael Cameron was at the beach and saw a father and son playing in the surf and collecting shells. The boy was well behaved, but it didn’t take long for Cameron to identify him as a child with special needs. The father, wanting to reward his son for good behavior,...

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More Fun Together

Toys can build connections between kids with special needs and their peers. By Ellen Metrick “Inclusion” is a popular word used around children with special needs. It reflects the emotional need of every human being to be included and the innate desire to share experiences, and there is perhaps no better place to put the concept of inclusion to work than through toys and play. Hot categories of toys this...

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Improvising Through Parenthood

Couples who have children with special needs have to be flexible in their dreams, and care for their relationships, too. By Elena Epstein As Rodney Peete and Holly Robinson Peete chat about their day-to-day family life – homework, after-school activities, teen drama – their manner is warm and casual. They share an easygoing rapport and sense of humor. As talk turns to their son, RJ, I get the sense that...

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Friendship Circle

Fostering Friendships

Local programs bring together children with – and without – special needs By Ronna Mandel “You’ve got a friend in me,” goes the theme to Disney’s Toy Story films, all of which feature the special bond between a boy named Andy and his toys. Childhood friends, real and animated, are an important part of growing up. For children with special needs, however, making friends can be a challenge. There’s no...

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Club 21

A Club That Welcomes An Extra Chromosome

Pasadena’s Club 21 opens its arms, and reaches out a lifeline, for families of children with Down syndrome Christina Elston Sixteen years ago, Nancy Litteken’s obstetrician told her this: “Don’t worry. We can take care of it.” He meant that they could abort the baby she was carrying because the results of her amniocentesis test showed that the baby would be born with Down syndrome. “At that time, people who...

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7 Keys to a Positive Summer Camp Experience for Children with Special Needs By Elaine Hall and Jeff Frymer

Choosing the right summer camp experience for our children with special needs can be daunting. The potential rewards, however, are well worth the extra effort. Greater self-esteem, improved self-confidence and independence, new skills, socialization opportunities, new friendships and just plain fun are ready for your child when you are. Here are seven basic keys to help make the summer camp experience great for everyone. Prepare yourself. It is important to...

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Tips for Long Journeys With Loved Ones With Autism

Tips for Long Journeys With Loved Ones With Autism

The author of “Cowboy and Willis” and mother of a son with autism offers helpful advice for special-needs travel. by Monica Holloway For many families with loved ones on the autism spectrum the idea of a long journey can be daunting. Here are some suggestions from the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (, a nonprofit educational organization, for making travel with those with special needs as streamlined as possible....

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Strategies For Struggling Readers

Strategies For Struggling Readers

Whether they have a learning disability or other special needs, your child can build a relationship with books. by Christina Elston Paul Curtis’s favorite childhood book was The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. He read it in fifth grade, and there is a particular reason that it stayed with him. “It was the first book that I think I really pictured in my mind, and I can still see those images...

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Steve Everett: Power(ful) Soccer Role Model

Steve Everett plays and promotes power soccer, where adults and kids play together from their power wheelchairs, and learn powerful lessons. by Christina Elston When Steve Everett talks about the sport of power soccer, played in power wheelchairs, he makes it sound fun. “We have these guards on the front of our chairs. They almost look like snow plows,” he says, “and when we spin in a circle, that’s how...

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Social Foundations Helps Special-Needs Kids Build Skills

Social Foundations Helps Special-Needs Kids Build Skills

Built on Michelle Winner’s ‘Social Thinking’ concept, the mom-run Santa Monica business touts social awareness. by Elena Epstein Moms Suzanne Tabachnick and Kelly Priest met seven years ago in an early-intervention program for children on the autism spectrum. They had an instant connection. Priest has a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and several years of experience working with families. She attended conferences on “Social Thinking,” a concept pioneered by speech...

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Snip-Its Hair Salons Specialize In Special-Needs Kids

With extra training for stylists and helpful guides for parents, the chain makes haircuts easier for children on the autism spectrum. by Christina Elston For parents of a child on the autism spectrum, little things that other families take for granted – things like a simple haircut – can be a real challenge. Children with autism can find the sights and sounds of a hair salon, the feel of someone...

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Seven Keys to Keep You Smiling Through Dental Visits

Seven Keys to Keep You Smiling Through Dental Visits

These tips will help children with special needs – and their parents – feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair. by Elaine Hall I’m scared of dentists. Well, not the dentist himself (my brother is a dentist in San Diego), but I am scared of sitting in that chair, opening my mouth and not knowing what pain I am about to endure. Just thinking about the sound of the drill,...

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Museum Tips For Special-Needs Families

Museums of all kinds can be great experiences for kids with special needs. A little planning and a few extra steps can make your visit great. by Julee Brooks For families of children with special needs, the thought of visiting a busy public space such as a museum might seem daunting. There are things, however, that families can do before, during and even after a visit to make it more...

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Making Sense of Fine Motor Skills

More than 20 tips and activities from an occupational therapist that will improve your child’s handwriting. by Annie Baltazar Mori, ODT Handwriting or any fine motor activity seems like it is a simple and straightforward learning process. But when we pull back the curtain, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, working in seamless harmony to create a perfectly formed and spaced sentence or well-constructed craft project. Occupational...

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Keeping Bullies At Bay

Keeping Bullies At Bay

Children with special needs are bullied more often, but Dawn Barnes of Dawn Barnes Karate Kids has some wonderful prevention tips. by Dawn Barnes Sending children back to school is exciting. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of worry. Bullying is in the news more than ever and mothers are rightfully concerned about the safety of their children. Mothers of children with special needs may hold even deeper concerns...

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Helping Your Special-Needs Child Build Meaningful Friendships

Helping Your Special-Needs Child Build Meaningful Friendships

These seven keys will help you pinpoint the ways in which your child is social, and use them to create rewarding relationships. by Elaine Hall “Hey guys! I had fun! See you next week,” calls 12-year-old Jackson as he climbs into his mom’s SUV. “Mom, I had a great time and I think I made some friends,” he beams. This was Jackson’s first day in our theater class and, as...

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Four Support Strategies For Special-Needs Families

Four Support Strategies For Special-Needs Families

Children with special needs aren’t the only ones who need support. Using these tips to help keep the whole family healthy benefits the special-needs child as well. by Brian Roper, Ph.D. For human beings, childhood lasts a very long time. Born with just the basics needed for survival, each of us has much to learn toward becoming a contributing member of society. The family plays an incredibly important role in...

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Financial Planning Today Means Care For Tomorrow

Special Needs: Financial Planning Today Means Care For Tomorrow

Coping with a special-needs child’s diagnosis can take its toll, but don’t delay planning for the future. by Melanie Gaball Financial planning is important for parents, but for those who have a child with special needs the complexities of funding a lifetime of care can be overwhelming and emotional. While many parents are still dealing with the acceptance of their child’s diagnosis, developing a financial road map for their family’s...

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Book Takes a Look At What Makes Us Different

Book Takes a Look At What Makes Us Different

‘Jacob’s Eye Patch’ is a sweet story that offers lessons for approaching special needs. by Christina Elston If you’re the parent of young children, you’ve no doubt had to remind them not to stare, point or talk too loudly about some difference they have noticed in someone else – the man who is so tall he has to duck to get through doorways, the child in the wheelchair, the lady...

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A Super Kid, A Heroic Mom, A Story Worth Reading

A Super Kid, A Heroic Mom, A Story Worth Reading

"Life With a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome" tells a family's story with bravery and heart. by Julie Kertes Michael Hulings’ story is a remarkable one, right from the beginning. In a small Israeli town more than 20 years ago, a mother gave up her newborn baby when she discovered he had Down syndrome. She told family and friends that the baby had died, but her misfortune became...

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7 Ways to Help Your Special-Needs Child Self-Advocate

7 Ways to Help Your Special-Needs Child Self-Advocate

Kids with autism can often speak, act and negotiate for themselves. Here’s how to help them become more independent. by Monica Holloway and Areva Martin It is natural for parents of children with autism to assume the role as advocate for their children, but it is important to help these kids learn tools for self-advocacy as they grow into teens and adults. Our sons, Wills and Marty, are teenagers, and...

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7 Keys To Gift Giving For Special-Needs Families

7 Keys To Gift Giving For Special-Needs Families

Wondering what to get a special someone? Shopping is easier than you think with these tips. by Elaine Hall “What should I get for my nephew who has autism?” asks my girlfriend Katie. “What does he like to do?” I query. “My sister says that right now he just likes to play with Tupperware.” “Great! Get him that.” I remember one year, one of my son’s caretakers wrapped up two...

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7 Keys To Easing Transition Anxiety

7 Keys to Easing Transition Anxiety

These tips will help children with special needs manage all sorts of transitions and new situations by Elaine Hall Transitions can cause tremendous anxiety for a child with special needs. Often, it is not the new place itself that may illicit fear in children living with AD/HD, OCD, sensory processing disorder, or autism. Instead, it is the potential for sensory or social-emotional elements that could cause them to feel out...

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Show Them the Money

Teaching kids at an early age how to manage money could be one of life’s best lessons. By Ron Epstein I had a roommate in college who worked as a teacher’s aide, and every other Friday when he got paid he would cash his check, come back to our dorm and say, “Who’s going to help me spend this?” This went on throughout the semester, and I finally asked him...

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Baby At The Beach

Safer Swimming

Tips from local lifeguards will help you protect your kids at the beach, the lake or the pool. By Melanie Gaball Swim season is seemingly endless for Angelenos this year. Non-existent winter temperatures plus an abundance of recreational water choices means there is unlimited fun to be had! Four L.A. lifeguards offer advice to help you keep your family safe while you frolic in the surf or by the pool....

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LA Parent Magazine

Special Connections

Parents can help smooth interactions – and build friendships – between typical children and those with special needs By Lori Lakin Hutcherson Look at me! Why don’t you talk to me? What’s the matter with you? Do you have cancer?! “A young girl stopped my son and started screaming at him,” says Monica Jones, describing an incident at the park with her 7-year-old son Henry, who was born with Hemimegalencephaly,...

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A Golden Ticket For Special-Needs Families

Here are some things we don’t always think of as going together: Wheelchairs and dancing. Autism and play groups. Families and prom. Linda Hall doesn’t intend to let this stand in her way. She is organizing a family prom with wheelchair dancing to raise funds for a community center where children with special needs – and those without – can connect and play. Special Family Prom, to be held from...

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Church & State

Dating Your Husband

You might think the dating phase of your relationship – along with the romance – is over. Think again! By Rina Baraz Nehdar Remember the drums beating inside your tummy, your heart racing as you ran around trying to find the perfect outfit, the make-up so meticulously applied – all in anticipation of that evening date with your special sweetheart? And all these years later, what happened? You still love...

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Camp Funtime

The Best Summer Camp Ever!

Camp directors offer their top tips for making the most of your child’s summer camp experience By Melanie Gaball An overwhelming number of Southern California kids attend some sort of summer camp, and for many families these programs represent a major investment of time and money. With specialty programs dedicated to the arts, sports, science and other topics; a wide range of day camps, and immersive sleep-away experiences available, the...

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Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars Cover Kids In the Spotlight

There wasn’t a cloud in the sunny sky Oct. 12 as more than 150 families turned out at Westfield Century City for their turn in the spotlight. It was 2013 Shooting Stars Cover Kids Contest Day in center court and the cameras were ready to roll. The Event Every year, L.A. Parent invites families to enter Shooting Stars and turn out for a fun photo day where three lucky –...

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Liquori Walk

Weighty Trends

Even as childhood obesity rates plateau, eating disorders in kids have been on the rise. And plenty of families still struggle with both. By Christina Elston It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday, and in a small classroom at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, eight families are taking a quiz. In what order are things listed on food ingredient labels? How many teaspoons of sugar should be your maximum for the day?...

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Hospital Homework

Southern California is home to some of the world’s best medical facilities. Learn the landscape now, so you’re ready if you need them. By Elena Epstein Wendy and Eric Levine, of West Los Angeles, describe themselves as “recovering attorneys.” The ability to evaluate a situation and conduct thorough analysis is part of their DNA. So, when faced with the premature birth of their son and surgeries for both of their...

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Samantha Kurtzman

Samantha Kurtzman-Counter: The Mother Company’s Mom

Samantha Kurtzman-Counter co-founded The Mother Company, which produces the “Ruby’s Studio” books, apps, shows and activities, after her son Jack was born. by Elena Epstein Samantha Kurtzman-Counter was enjoying a successful career as a television and film producer and director when she became a mom. “I thought I would return to work within three weeks of having my son,” she says. “But, once Jack was born, I quickly realized I...

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Love In the Lunchbox

Freshen up your approach to school lunches with help from Catherine McCord of Weelicious By Christina Elston Maybe you started the school year with a great plan to pack your child a tasty, nutritious lunch every day. Maybe things even went well through most of September before you exhausted that back-to-school energy or just ran out of ideas. Or perhaps you’ve always just knocked together a PB&J and some chips,...

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Don’t Let the Party Eclipse the Celebration

How To Keep Your Child Front and Center When Planning a Special Event By Erin Mahoney Harris As a parent, it’s easy to get carried away when it comes to party planning – be it for a baby’s first birthday, or a coming-of-age event such as a quinceañera, Sweet 16 or Bar/Bat Mitzvah. One-upmanship can run rampant, particularly among families with enough disposable income to throw over-the-top celebrations. But does...

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Mary John

Mary John: Money-Savvy Mom

This single mom of two daughters is also a wealth advisor. And she wants moms everywhere to take better charge of their finances. by Elena Epstein When it comes to money, Mary John, Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor for the Beverly Hills Region of Wells Fargo Private Bank, is on a mission. She wants every woman, starting at a young age, to understand money management and be able to...

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2 Bit Art Walk

Attention Explorers!

Pursuing their passions – or even passing interests – helps kids find their place in the world By Christina Elston Once upon a time, my daughter wanted to be a princess. Then she decided to become a ballerina, a herpetologist, part of her school’s marching band, a rock star and a photographer. This means we went to ballet, guitar and clarinet lessons, nature and zoo camps, and photography workshops. Often...

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Managing Middle School

Help Your Child Through the Big Transition With These Tips By Elena Epstein I’ll never forget my oldest daughter’s first day of middle school. There was the scariness of a new place – not unlike the first day of kindergarten – only this time we didn’t have a sweet teacher taking her hand to reassure her everything would be OK. It was hard leaving our neighborhood elementary school, where most...

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Happy Swimmer

The Water’s Fine!

Swimming Can Boost Your Child’s Fitness and Confidence – and It’s Fun By Lori Zanteson For most L.A. families, summer means swimming – lessons at the community pool, trips to the beach, excursions to local lakes, even the thrill of a water park. Definitely the coolest way to beat Southland heat, swimming is also one of the best ways to get kids active and outdoors. And those strokes, splashes and...

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Cleveland Library

Bringing Up Bookworms

Build your child’s love of reading with these tips By Christina Elston The Velveteen Rabbit wasn’t Jennifer Graves’ first love. Snow White is the first book she remembers falling for as a child. “I thought it was so scary, but I wanted to read it again and again to get to the end, where everything works out,” she says. She enjoyed lots of other books, too – Frog and Toad,...

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Mother's Group

Mothers Together

Joining a moms’ group can help forge connections and support By Elena Epstein Michelle Turner says the best advice she received while pregnant with her twin daughters was from a co-worker, advising her to join a moms’ group. She found the West L.A. chapter of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and signed up. Her daughters, Coco and Aya, are now 3 years old and the moms in...

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High-Risk Pregnancy

What To Do When Complications Arise By Christina Elston Jessica Fisher had a busy month ahead. Pregnant with twins after two years of frustration and fertility treatments, she was at a 19-week ultrasound where she would learn whether she was having boys or girls. Two days later she and her husband were headed to Palm Springs to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with family, followed by a trip to Las Vegas...

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Girl Playing Tennis

Empowering Our Daughters

A Recipe For Raising Strong, Confident Girls By Robert Moskowitz Once upon a time, people said little girls were made of sugar and spice, and everything nice. Today, most of us recognize that the recipe for raising girls not only includes more ingredients, but that too much sugar can be toxic. According to Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of the groundbreaking and still-relevant book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent...

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Gluten Free Food

Is Gluten-Free Good?

You’ve Seen the Labels, Now Get the Facts By Christina Elston Once upon a time, people who wanted to follow gluten-free diets (and there weren’t many of them) didn’t have many options. That’s not to say that they couldn’t find much to eat. There are many, many foods that don’t contain a trace of gluten and never have. But back then, the words “gluten-free” weren’t screaming at folks from every...

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