Information and advice for L.A. parents of elementary-age children.

Elementary

parenting

Giving Your Child The Power to Say No

The weekend was winding down and the four of us headed out for a Sunday matinee. We all decided on “Miracles from Heaven,” rated PG. It’s a story about a 10-year-old girl who has a rare, incurable disease. The mother becomes a fierce advocate for her daughter and the film eventually ends with the young girl recovering from her illness, in what can only be described as a miracle. But...

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children's books

L.A. Dad Adds Gift to Princess Heroes Book Series

As the father of 9-year-old twin daughters, L.A. author Sanjay Nambiar is keen on writing stories that broaden the scope of how girls see themselves. “The Gift of Gift,” the second book in his Super Amazing Princess Heroes (SAPH) series, was released in November. “Girls need role models that are just as powerful as boy role models,” says Nambiar, who says the book aims to marry the feminine side of...

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positive parenting

Finding Diversity in Children’s Books

Five Easy Ways to Find Inclusive Reads Your Kids Will Love “There were tons of brown kids just like me running around the neighborhood where I grew up in East L.A. in the mid-90s, but I never came across a single book about anyone who looked like me until high school,” says Julia Casas, youth services librarian for the Santa Monica Public Library’s Ocean Park Branch. When Casas, a Latina,...

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positive parenting

Positive Parenting: Getting Some Headspace with a New App

Parents looking to give their kids a mindfulness boost – and get one for themselves – have a new option. This summer, the creators of the Headspace meditation app launched Headspace for Kids. Available to Headspace subscribers ($7.99-$12.95 per month), Headspace for Kids features meditations on five themes – calm, kindness, focus, sleep and waking up – for ages 5 and younger, 6-8 and 9-12. The meditations are designed for...

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school news

Silicon Valley School Opens New Campuses around L.A.

Stratford School, a Silicon Valley-based group of independent private schools, is opening new locations in Altadena and Los Angeles. Stratford is recognized as a leader in early childhood STEM education, and both new Southern California campuses are scheduled to open in August for the 2016-17 academic year. One of Stratford’s core missions is to incorporate technology into the fabric of learning, says Cheryl Molenkamp, director of Lower School of the...

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positive parenting

A Family Legacy Worth Leaving Behind

It is a day I will never forget – Christmas 2013 in snowy Chicago, and my parents were visiting from Texas. Christmas carols were playing, festive food and decorated cookies were on the table, and I had buttery egg nog in hand and a big smile on my face as I sat to watch my then 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, open her first gift from under our tree. The first package...

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parenting

Dealing With Tragic News

Whether it’s happening in Nice, Dallas, Louisiana, Orlando, Brussels or Paris, it can sometimes feel like tragedy is also taking place right in the palm of your hand – or your child’s – via social media and smartphones. “It’s just a constant bombardment of input. I was shocked to hear that kids are getting news information from Instagram,” says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor of Common Sense Media, a California-based nonprofit...

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On the Record: What Mom Really Wants for Mother’s Day

Every year when my husband asks, "What do you want for Mother's Day?" I always respond exactly the same way: “Amor, I don't need a Mother's Day gift. My kids are enough." But wait a minute, who am I kidding? I do want something! Why do I feel guilty admitting that I secretly want something for Mother’s Day? Is it because I feel like I should not get a gift...

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Doc Talk: Why There Are No Accidents

The other day, a 9-year-old came in to the emergency department with an elbow fractured in a way that required a surgical repair with metal pins, and a cut across the middle of his forehead that required plastic surgery. He had tried to skateboard down six stairs. In emergency medicine, we don’t call these “accidents,” because the injuries that happen by accident are almost always preventable. And the key to...

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Read Aloud Like a Rock Star

Seven Secrets from Voice-Over Actors, Teachers and Literacy Experts Early in my time volunteering with BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools), I picked up my first valuable lesson on what not to do when reading to kids. On that fresh, September morning, my read-aloud selection for the 20 eager third graders gathered before me at Paseo del Rey Elementary in Playa del Rey was an educational but – in...

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A Plea for More Old-Fashioned Play

Happy New Year! Like many of you I also had a busy holiday season. This week, our kids were ready to go back to school, the house is slowly getting back to normal and routine is kicking in. If you are like our family, many gifts were given and received, especially anything that was device- or game-oriented. As a parent, educator and advocate for wellness and vitality, I have to...

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When the News Is Scary or Confusing

Editor's note: This interview was completed before the Dec. 15 closure of Los Angeles Unified district schools. In the last few months, we have been faced with terrorist attacks in Paris, shootings at college campuses in Texas and Arizona and a Planned Parenthood in Colorado and, most recently, at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. How can parents begin to explain these horrible events to their children? We recently...

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Mary McNamara: A Mom With a Critical Eye on TV

Mary McNamara took on her job as television critic at The Los Angeles Times in 2009. The mother of three – Danny Stayton, 17; Fiona Stayton, 15 and Darby Stayton, 9 – had been a features writer and editor at The Times for 18 years when she was offered the job. “My question was, ‘Can I work from home?’ And they said, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll have to.’ If I didn’t...

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Fun ideas for kids - Communigift

CommuniGift Helps Birthday Boys and Girls “Gift Back”

Most children who attend The Salvation Army’s Los Angeles Day Care Center downtown don’t expect a big party and a pile of presents on their birthdays. The center serves low-income children, many with parents who spend long hours working nearby in the Fashion District. So, 4-year-old Henry was shocked and delighted to receive presents courtesy of a secret birthday buddy who decided to “gift forward” some birthday presents through an...

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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 (www.safeducky.com) in June, tests toys and other...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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A Different Kind of Carpool

Need to get each of your three kids to a different place at the same time? HopSkipDrive (www.hopskipdrive.com), 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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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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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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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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Positive Parenting : Project Giving Kids

The New Kid in Town: Project Giving Kids

Have your children considered volunteering, then hesitated, not knowing where to begin? Project Giving Kids (www.projectgivingkids.org) 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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martin1

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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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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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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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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Patti Rommel_©Lakeshore_LA Parent

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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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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