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  1. Choosing the right therapeutic preschool for your child can be an overwhelming task, especially in Chicago where there are so many options. With so many different therapeutic approaches, how do you know which approach works for you and your family? In this discussion, you will learn about a variety of therapeutic preschool approaches, hear examples of good questions to ask and things to think about when you are researching therapeutic preschools, how insurance coverage works, and walk away confident in your ability to choose a therapeutic preschool that is a good fit for your family. Our Esteemed Panelists: Lorell Marin, M.Ed., LCSW, BCBA, DT, Founder/CVO, LEEP Forward., Dr. Connie Weil, Clinical Director, Tuesday's Child, Kimberly Shlaes, Director of Preschool Programming & Developmental Therapy, PlayWorks Therapy Inc., Katelyn Suski, Director, Chicago Speech Therapy Academy, and Dr. Jennifer King, Director, Blue Bird Day Wheaton Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor LEEP Forward.
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    Raising a child is expensive, especially when your child has special needs. Government benefits are helpful however understanding the process can be overwhelming. Well NPN is here to help! In this session, we will discuss what types of benefit programs exist, which benefits programs are available to you, and what is needed for the application process. You will walk away with clarity about government benefits and how to set your child up with financial support as they become an adult. This session is helpful for parents of special needs children from ages 3 to 22. Our Esteemed Presenter: Sherri Schneider, founder, Family Benefit Solutions, Inc For more than 25 years, Sherri has been tirelessly dedicated to helping individuals with special needs and their families. Her career began as a Case Manager in a Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) where she helped those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses acquire the government benefits they so desperately needed, including SSI, Medicaid, and food stamps. She was instrumental in creating one of the first Community Living Facility (CLF) facilities funded under a Medicaid waiver. Sherri now meets privately with families to thoroughly assess their individual situations and pursue the appropriate benefit assistance program(s), personally guiding them through the application process. Based on her vast experience, she has skillfully established and maintained open, productive relationships with government agencies involved in the decision-making process. Professionals find her in-service expertise to be invaluable as they navigate the government benefit process.
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    Does your child struggle with focus, irritability, or sleeping? Have you noticed that your child has become more clingy, fidgety, or finicky with food? Are you concerned about a change you observe in your child's behavior? Trying to figure out what is the root cause of a change in a child's behavior can be overwhelming. Well, NPN is here to help. In this session, we will discuss anxiety and bring clarity around what anxiety symptoms look like, when a diagnosis is appropriate, and what supportive resources and treatments are available. Our Esteemed Panelist: Dr. Chrisna M. Perry, Ph.D., Founder & Director, Comprehensive Learning Services Dr. Bill Pasola, Psy.D., Psychotherapist, Smart Love Family Services
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    Does your child have an IEP or 504 plan? Are you having challenges receiving supportive services in school for your child? Are you overwhelmed with understanding what therapies your insurance will cover and will not cover? Did you know your child can receive accommodations even in college? Do you know your child's rights within the state of Illinois? Well NPN is here to help! In this session, you will learn when it is appropriate to seek legal advice, what rights your child has in the state of Illinois, what are your child's health care rights in the state of Illinois and so much more! Our expert will provide valuable information as well as be ready to answer your questions. Anna joined Matt Cohen & Associates in 2022. She practiced in the areas of product liability and commercial litigation for several years before taking time off to raise her children. From 2014-2017, Anna worked as an Adjunct Professor of Legal Writing at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Anna became interested in special education advocacy through volunteer work as well as through her own experiences as a parent. Anna looks forward to helping families obtain special education services and support and Section 504 accommodations. Anna earned a B.A. in Rhetoric and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
  5. Let’s begin with a boundary check: The responsibility of homework completion falls squarely on the child. Without question, it is hard to watch our children struggle with the effort homework demands, but it is very important that we resist the urge to “rescue” our child from the discomfort of effort. If you “help” a butterfly out of its cocoon it dies because it wasn’t given the chance to build its wing strength. So, we can all agree that children should work through homework on their own, but there is still a tremendous amount of pressure on children and parents to achieve at very high levels in our culture. College applications reduce years of education to a discrete set of numbers and the status of being from certain high-performing schools. We are told to not interfere, and then we are shown a world in which not getting the best possible grades and achieving the accolades that come with that means dramatically reduced opportunity. And it all begins with homework, which is why it’s such a charged topic. While we often are looking forward towards an imagined future for our children, we are probably pointed in the wrong direction. To achieve a way forward through this achievement thicket, we should look to our own memories of doing homework as a child. There, we can mine the gold of memory: the parents who hovered over you and checked your work before you turned it in, or the parents who left you completely alone. We all have pain points from our school years. Exploring and healing these sore spots will free up space for you to more clearly choose how you want to interact with your child around homework. Your uncomfortable memories of homework and your child’s struggles with it today represent a perfect reparenting opportunity for you, which can lead to a deeply compassionate journey with your child as you work together to make homework work for them, instead of simply feeling like busy work. With this mindset you can start shifting the narrative from struggle and challenge to one that is about how we can learn and grow - together. Here are some suggestions of ways to foster relationship and a love of learning: Pair your own work time with that of your child by having work/study dates. You can set goals together, take breaks where you share what you are learning or working on, and most importantly celebrate progress together. Turn counterproductive statements or questions into learning opportunities by challenging them to problem solve. Respond to a statement like “I don’t know how to do this” with “What have you tried?” Having a good dialogue about a stumbling block builds critical thinking skills. Problem solve difficulty in completing homework together, as you might tackle a task management problem at work. Engage the challenge as a partner in removing obstacles. By making homework help a self-development opportunity, you can ensure a deeper engagement in learning for both your child and you.
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    Choosing the right therapeutic preschool for your child can be an overwhelming task, especially in Chicago where there are so many options. With so many different therapeutic approaches, how do you know which approach works for you and your family? In this discussion, you will learn about a variety of therapeutic preschool approaches, hear examples of good questions to ask and things to think about when you are researching therapeutic preschools, how insurance coverage works, and walk away confident in your ability to choose a therapeutic preschool that is a good fit for your family. Our Esteemed Panelists: Lorell Marin, M.Ed., LCSW, BCBA, DT, Founder/CVO, LEEP Forward. Dr. Connie Weil, Clinical Director, Tuesday's Child Kimberly Shlaes, Director of Preschool Programming & Developmental Therapy, PlayWorks Therapy Inc. Katelyn Suski, Director, Chicago Speech Therapy Academy Dr. Jennifer King, Director, Blue Bird Day Wheaton Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor LEEP Forward. By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsor.
  7. As the world begins to normalize neurodiversity, more and more educational options are becoming available for special needs kids. In Chicagoland, there are several private school options for diverse learners. In this session, you will hear from Lorell Marin, Founder, of Quantum Leep Academy, and Kaitlyn "Kait" Mullahey, Head of School, Fusion Academy Lincoln Park. Our presenters will discuss why parents should consider private school options for their diverse learners, what questions parents should ask on their search, what an academic curriculum with therapeutic support looks like, and how tuition coverage works.
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    Register Here! Free admission. Even in normal times, the transition from preschool to Kindergarten is fraught with questions and concerns. In a post-Covid world, parents face additional challenges, including the isolation their children faced during their earliest years. Join us for a roundtable conversation with a first-grade parent, a curriculum specialist and a speech language pathologist to discuss your concerns and meet other families. Kids are welcome to enjoy a fun activity with CFS kindergarten teacher Isabella Suárez and art teacher Christina Jeskey while you learn. About the Presenters: Katie Tengel, a Speech Language Pathologist, who sees clients all over the Chicago area, will be there to discuss some of the developmental changes and challenges that 4-5 year olds face and how our multi-age approach to schooling might serve your child. Alyssa Vejendla is Chicago Friends School's Curriculum coordinator and will discuss how she has worked with our team of teachers to develop age appropriate yet rigorous curriculum that links across the grades, as well as ways to make Kindergarten more flexible and welcoming for diverse learning needs. Lela Beem is a parent of two kids at CFS and has had her kids in private preschool as well as public elementary school. She will share her experience of helping her daughter transition from preschool to Kindergarten last year and why the smaller class sizes and mixed age approach works for their family.
  9. It was an early Sunday morning in March 2012. I did not get much sleep the night before, because I was 4 months pregnant with our second child, and our first child, Luke, had just received a diagnosis of autism and epilepsy. To say that I was stressed would be an understatement. Related: Your Child Received a Diagnosis, Now What? After speaking to my nursing pediatrician, it was recommended that I join a few community groups for support and resources. It was in this search that I found out about a resource fair that was created for parents just like me - parents that were overwhelmed, stressed, and on the hunt for resources and community. I was determined to provide my children with the best options available and realized that attending this fair might help me do just that. Overwhelmed with loneliness, desperation, and fear of our new normal we went to our first NPN Developmental Differences Resource Fair (DDRF) that morning. If I close my eyes right now, I can remember the moment I walked into my first NPN Developmental Differences Resources Fair. I can remember looking around and seeing so many resources and so many families, like mine, all in one room. Instantly, my stress levels decreased and I breathed a sigh of relief as the feeling of hope, which had escaped me for several months, came flooding back. I was able to connect with so many resources at once! The biggest takeaway was the connections with the other families I met; just knowing I was not alone gave me so much encouragement. The following year, I returned for my second DDRF. This time I was more confident, I knew exactly which resources I needed, and I was prepared with questions to ask. My biggest takeaway that second year at DDRF was that there is literally a resource for everything. Education, extra-curricular activities, therapies, government benefits, financial planning, whatever it is - there is a resource for it. I just had no idea where to look to find all of the information that I needed and had been too exhausted as a new mom to seek out the resources on my own. Related: Raising a Black Autistic Boy in America Fast forward to today and my son is now 12 years old and thriving! I have to say that being an advocate for my son and utilizing the resources that I found at NPN’s DDRF have made all the difference. I am proud to report that we have been able to change the trajectory of our son’s progress for the better. One of the best decisions I ever made was to pull my exhausted, desperate, hopeless, and stressed self out of bed that morning in March 2012, and take the first steps towards building our community and support network.
  10. This session is for parents who are concerned about their child’s development and/or trying to make sense of the many therapies available to support their child. In this session, we will discuss ABA, speech, and occupational therapy, individual talk therapy, and family therapy. We will explore how all or some of these therapies might work together to meet your child’s needs and what an approach that incorporates multiple therapies might look like.
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    This session is for parents who are concerned about their child’s development and/or trying to make sense of the many therapies available to support their child. In this session we will discuss ABA, speech, and occupational therapy, individual talk therapy, and family therapy. We will explore how all or some of these therapies might work together to meet your child’s needs and what an approach that incorporates multiple therapies might look like. Our Esteemed Speaker: Arthur F. Jimenez MS ABA, BCBA, LBS1, Founder, B.E.T.H. Services, Ltd. Arthur F. Jimenez is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a licensed special education teacher. As a first-generation college graduate and a son of a parent who immigrated to this country, he understands the very real sacrifice and value, of family, community, and hard work. He is currently finishing his masters in counseling psychology to become a licensed therapist and is beginning his PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis to help develop a framework that works to serve and strengthen family dynamics to develop a language of acceptance and understanding for all individuals.
  12. If your childhood was anything like mine, I’m sure you can remember being repeatedly asked what it is that you wanted to be when you grew up. I’m also pretty sure what you said then doesn’t match your life now! So, why do we force children to answer this seemingly rhetorical question? And how can we get our children to explore the endless possibilities of their future without boxing them in? As an adult and a mom, I’ve come to really appreciate experiences over things. You’ll often find me gifting tickets to shows, museums, or concerts instead of toys and clothing. So when it comes to getting my children to think about their future, I take the same approach and try to help them discover what they like and dislike based on their lived experiences. This is why I was really excited when I discovered Rocket Club Academy, a first of its kind program that provides children 7 to 14 years old the opportunity to explore industries in STEAM and entrepreneurship and discover their passions and interests along the way. With the help of industry leaders, Rocket Club Academy members learn by doing via the program’s proprietary curriculum, picking up valuable life lessons and skills that are not taught in the traditional education system. This January, Rocket Club Academy is launching a new module that will guide members on the journey of learning to own and operate a professional sports franchise! Members will analyze the marketing and financing behind major sports organizations, explore the technology behind how athletes are trained, and the impact on local communities. Encourage your child to expand their thoughts about their future by starting with a topic that sparks their interest and gifting them an experience that can change their lives and perspective forever! Rocket Club Academy is a boutique club with limited enrollment and locations in the heart of the Lincoln Park and Oak Park communities. As an NPN member, you have the opportunity to score a free 1-month membership (a $385 value) with access to the January class! Contact Rocket Club Academy to book a tour and learn more today at https://rocketclub.com/chicago
  13. As a pediatric physical therapist, something I hear quite often in new assessments with families is that they "knew something wasn't quite right and had questions on it, but were told to wait and see if it was still a problem" at their next pediatrician visit. Many times, things do work themselves out with development for a variety of factors. Unfortunately, it's not every time. If gaining anything from this article, my advice as a physical therapist and as a parent myself is to trust your instincts. YOU know your child best. Early intervention has been statistically proven to shorten overall intervention times as well as improve results across all disciplines with children. The challenge with the “wait and see” recommendation is that earlier in your child's medical care at their primary pediatrician, you are seeing each other every four weeks. By the time you may have concerns, your check-in period is every three months. Three months is a long time in a child's first year of development: it's a quarter of their life! [Related: Preschool, or therapeutic preschool?] So how does a family pursue occupational, physical, or speech therapy for their child? There are a multitude of different ways to access services, which move along their corresponding timelines for each path. Here are some of your options: 1. Call a reputable, outpatient center or home-based service to provide therapy services. Turn around time to services: one to two weeks Look at online reviews, ask for others’ experiences in local parenting groups, access NPN’s referral list — any of these areas could be a good starting point to contact for an assessment for services. Most places will directly call a pediatrician for the prescription to be on file prior to the assessment. In Illinois, you do not need a prescription for physical therapy, as it is a direct-access state. This means that patients can refer themselves and receive ongoing treatment without an initial referral. Reputable outpatient service locations will still gain a referral and share treatment plans and evaluation results with a primary pediatrician, regardless of the state requirement. You can also ask for this to be done! This is the most direct and fastest way to receive services. This can also be the most costly, especially if you still have to meet an insurance deductible or do not have private insurance to access. If you are in a rush to prioritize services, an important question during this process is whether the outpatient center or private-based therapy service site providers are also in network with Illinois's Early Intervention system. (We'll review how to access both services down below.) 2. Call the Illinois Early Intervention program. Turn around time to services: six to 12 weeks, depending on availability Illinois has a robust Early Intervention program offered for children ages 0 to 3. Services included in Early Intervention are speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, developmental therapy, developmental vision therapy, developmental hearing therapy, feeding therapy, social work, nutrition services, and diagnostic referral services, to name a few. Services are typically provided in home, in a daycare, or via teletherapy, depending on a family's preference. [Related: What to look for in a therapeutic preschool] Families can call the child and family connection facility associated with their home address ZIP code to obtain an assessment and report concerns related to their child's development. Pediatricians or other physicians related to your child's care can also directly refer to the Early Intervention system. To begin Early Intervention services, your pediatrician must agree with and sign off on all recommended services after the assessment. After calling to schedule an assessment, it typically takes two weeks to receive a scheduled assessment. Following the evaluation, recommendations are made and new providers are searched for to provide the recommended frequency of services. This process in finding your child's provider team can at times be lengthy to get set up, depending on availability of clinicians in your area. Despite the issues with timely services, the benefits to using the Early Intervention system are great for families! Monthly family fees are assessed based on number of family members and overall household income. This family fee is set from $0 to $200 max per month. Early Intervention can act as your primary insurance (as in, the only insurance plan that is billed for therapy services), or it can act as your secondary insurance (e.g., the insurance to handle any unpaid amounts after visits are processed by your primary insurance plan). Because of this set up, Early Intervention can provide an extremely affordable and accessible means for therapy services for children up to the age of three. 3. Combination of utilizing private insurance and the Early Intervention system through the state of Illinois. Turn around time: one to two weeks to get started; up to three months to bring on Early Intervention coverage At times, when a problem has been identified, waiting several months for services can feel like a lifetime. This is where a provider that can initially work with your insurance plan, that has providers certified through the Early Intervention program, can work nicely. Think of it as billing just your primary insurance for the first weeks before Early Intervention can "kick in." Early Intervention can then be used primarily as your benefits plan or to help supplement your insurance plan. Finding an initial provider that provides both services is also helpful so that you do not have to get services started and then switch providers to a different facility. Hopefully this has been a useful guide to accessing services and pursuing early intervention for your child. Again, listen to your instincts, pursue help when needed, and don’t rely on “wait and see”: it could prove to take even more time to make gains with this approach.
  14. NPN Tareema

    What is ABA Therapy?

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can be an effective therapy for kids on the autism spectrum. For parents wondering how ABA works and whether it's right for their child, this live session will offer straightforward information and an opportunity to ask questions at the end. Speaker Rose McLean, pediatric physical therapist and owner of Chicago Pediatric Therapy and Wellness Center, will address: - The philosophy behind ABA therapy - Types of behaviors ABA can address - How to incorporate ABA into your child's schedule - How a child's progress is measured - And much more! About the Speaker: Rose McLean has been specializing in pediatrics since 2004. Upon graduating from Northwestern University with her doctorate in physical therapy, she began her career at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. In the creation of the Chicago Pediatric Therapy & Wellness Center, she not only wanted families to have a center where multi-disciplinary communication and therapist collaboration for each child was a priority, but she also wanted recreational and educational programs available for families to access outside of their one-on-one therapy sessions.
  15. As a parent of a special needs child, I look forward to the periods of platitude. Every developmental stage is an uphill climb that seems to take forever. So when my child hits a plateau and can thrive in an age-appropriate developmental stage, I relish in the peace that comes with it. I have learned to relax during these periods until it’s time for the next developmental growth challenge. Well, during the spring of 2021 when we had finally settled into our “new normal” and were thriving in a pandemic world, BOOM! I started to notice my usual rule-following, kind-hearted son becoming more irritable out of the blue. And when I say "out of the blue," I mean over things that were never an issue for him in the past. He seemed more tired than usual, he was more sensitive to touch, and even though he has a speech delay, he is verbal — but he really did not want to talk at all. [Related: Raising a Black autistic boy in America] My husband, his teachers, and his therapists all saw this dramatic change in him. For weeks, I chalked it up to the time change. He has always had a hard time adjusting to the bi-annual time changes, especially when we spring forward, so I just assumed this particular year was just a bit harder for him. After weeks of dealing with his attitude, I finally spoke to his pediatrician. She referred me to an endocrinologist. After blood tests and an exam, the endocrinologist looked at me and said, “Well mom, the hormone fairy has asked him to the dance, and he has accepted." He is only 11, My baby is growing up, What does this mean? and Oh no, it’s time for the sex talk, were all the thoughts running through my head. I pulled myself together enough to ask her, "What does puberty look like in a child with autism?” She told me it is different for each child; however most will be more sensory-defensive during this time. She asked me to close my eyes and imagine what it would feel like to feel every single hair growing on my body, what would it feel like to feel the lump of an adam’s apple forming in my throat, and to feel all of the aches as the muscles grow and form in my body. She explained that this is what my son is feeling on a magnified level. This completely explained his change in behavior and his new sensitivity. [Related: Tips for your next IEP meeting from a special-ed attorney] Armed with the knowledge of what was happening, my husband and I immediately put a plan of action in place. The first thing we did was communicate this information to his teachers and therapists. This allowed them to make adjustments in their support. It helped him to continue to be successful and get the most out of school and therapy. Second, we talked to him about what was going on with his body. We discussed the physical and the mental changes that were happening. What stood out to me most was that once we assured him everything he was feeling was “normal,” his irritability lessened by 50 percent. I realized the unknown of what was happening was half of the stress he was feeling. We also asked him to tell us what things he thought would help him cope. He said exercise. Lightbulb moment! My son is a swimmer, and pre-pandemic he was in the pool for three 2-hour sessions per week. This gave his body good sensory work out. Since the pandemic he had been only able to do one 45-minute session per week. His body and brain needed a workout to cope and process all the changes that were happening. Since our son had done Tae Kwon Do in the past and enjoyed it, we picked that up twice a week. It took a few weeks, but we finally started seeing our son return to his rule-following, kind-hearted, non-irritable self. Lastly, we told him to come to us with any questions or thoughts he had about what was going in with his body. We told him nothing was off limits. We also prepared ourselves to be ready and open to answer any questions and have uncomfortable conversations. This part is ongoing, and things come up day by day. However, we have built a deeper level of trust that will be helpful as we enter the teen years. What I have learned on this journey is to start researching and talking to your doctors about puberty when your child is 10 years old. Prepare yourself and be open to questions and conversations. Honestly, if puberty was on my radar, I would have had a preparatory conversation with my son at 10 years old. I would have told him in a very clinical way what changes he may see in his body, and to let me know when it starts happening. Trust what you know about your child. If they have sensory issues, prepare for them to feel body changes on a deeper level, and think of activities they enjoy that can help their bodies cope with the feelings. Be patient, give them grace, and assure them that all the strange things they are feeling are normal and okay. Lastly, as a parent of a special needs child, remember our journey is a marathon: Breathe and give yourself a break. You are doing great!
  16. As parents it is hard to imagine our kids as adults, especially if your child is developmentally different. Will they go to college, trade school or get a job? Are there employment opportunities and, if so, what type? Will they be able to live independently? The panelists on this webinar can help you prepare for the many different options for your child so they can live the most fulfilling life possible. PEERS Chicago will discuss their social coaching program for young adults and Urban Autism Solutions will present their residences, transition academy and farm solution program. We will also learn about Elmhurst University's Learning and Success Academy and Anixter Center will discuss their pathway to college and employment programs. Our esteemed panel consists of: Diane Gould, CEO & Owner, PEERS Chicago, Heather Tarczan, Executive Director, Urban Autism Solutions, Tim Ahlberg, Assistant Director of Admissions, Elmhurst University ELSA and Dina Donohue-Chase, Vice President of Growth & Innovation, Anixter Center
  17. Have you noticed a regression in your child—behaviorally, developmentally or socially—since the start of the pandemic? You're far from alone. Join NPN for a webinar on how to detect and manage COVID regression, whether you have a child with special needs or a typically developing child in the crucial development years of 2–5. In this discussion, you will hear from behavioral specialists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists about the typical signs that your child may be experiencing developmental regression due to the pandemic. You will also learn about the strategies professionals are using, services that are available, and what activities you can do in the home to combat COVID-19 regression. Our esteemed panel consists of: Dr. Shay McManus, Neuropsychologist, Eyas Landing, Dr. Chrisna M. Perry, PhD, Founder & Director, Comprehensive Learning Services, Lorell Marin, Founder, CEO & Therapist, LEEP Forward, Nicole Cissell, Clinical Director, BGF Children's Therapy, and Jason Wetherbee, Director of Clinical Services & Program Development, EB Pediatric Resources We appreciate our Supporting sponsors, Comprehensive Learning Services and LEEP Forward A special thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, Eyas Landing
  18. NPN Tareema

    Kindergarten Prep & Age Cut Off

    Preparing for kindergarten can feel like a daunting task, and myths about the Illinois age cut-off abound. If you are wondering if your four year old or six year old can attend kindergarten, or if you want to know how to help your child prepare for kindergarten, this is the session for you. Our esteemed panelists will explain what teachers really want parents to know about kindergarten. We will also discuss the Illinois law around age cut off, answering all of your questions about this confusing piece of the puzzle. You will walk away from this discussion understanding: 1. What it means to be kindergarten-ready 2. How to help your child prepare for kindergarten 3. The kindergarten age cut off law in Illinois and if there are any exceptions Our esteemed school panel consists of Tiffany Wells, Director Enrollment Management, Catherine Cook School, Meg Fitzgerald, Director of Early Childhood Education, Bennett Day School, Georgia Burke, Admissions Director, St. Josaphat School, and Bonnie Ho, Principal, Pui Tak Christian School A special thank you to our presenting sponsor: Catherine Cook School
  19. Children are wired for language from birth, and can pick up skills without any formal lessons. Even still, parents play a big role helping their children develop the expert language and literacy skills they need to thrive socially and in school. To learn more about these skills and how parents can nurture them, we sat down with Samina Hadi-Tabassum, literacy and language expert at Erikson Institute. When do children begin learning language and literacy skills, and what are the stages of their development? Babies pick up on the sounds of human voices in the womb. After birth, they begin to recognize these voices and turn their heads towards familiar ones. In their first three months, infants begin to “coo,” as they learn to control their vocal cords and the muscles they’ll need to speak. Around six months, the baby begins to string together vowels and consonant sounds repetitively, such as “mamama” and “dadada.” Most children don’t begin producing words until age two. Before then, they are actively listening and decoding sounds around them. Babies and toddlers catalogue language in their minds, almost like statistics, until they're finally able to voice some of what they’ve learned. By age three, children are typically speaking in simple phrases, (i.e. “blue ball”) and sentences that can sound like directives (i.e. “Mommy give ball”), since the ability to pose and ask complex questions comes later at age five. By the time they enter elementary school, most children can string together sentences like little adults. There are many instances, however, where children don’t begin speaking until much later on (around four or five), even though they have still been perceiving and making sense of language around them. There are many reasons for this, some more serious than others, but parents should consult their pediatrician if they feel there is a cause for a child’s delay. What can parents do to support the early development of their child’s language and literacy skills? The most important thing a parent can do is engage their children in conversation from day one, since infants are perceiving and making sense of the language code. When conversing, parents should look children in the eyes, have them watch and observe their mouths, and teach them about taking turns when communicating. Never rely on technology to help your child learn language; it doesn’t work. They can only learn from other humans, and need to be exposed to rich oral language before they can learn to read or write. [Related: 6 ways to teach your child a foreign language this summer] How can parents partner with teachers to promote their child’s literacy skills? Parental nurturing of literacy skills is critical, as reading is an artificial system that we created to convey messages, and children are not wired to naturally pick up on how to read. Parents should begin reading to children soon after birth and incorporate books into their home environment. Ask children questions about the stories you read to foster their comprehension skills. To promote print recognition, parents can point out the letters that make up their names and take them through the alphabet visually and phonetically. Note that no matter how much you read to your infant or toddler, it takes time for children to learn to read. They need to learn the sounds of letters, how to decode words, and understand the meaning of multiple words strung together. Doing this requires logical skills, which children don’t usually develop until age five or six. If a child is bilingual, how might this affect language and literacy development? Bilingual and multilingual children have a cognitive advantage. By switching from one language to another, children learn to think flexibly and sort the world in different ways. Bilingual children might be delayed in mastering both languages equally, and might struggle to keep up with their peers at first. But research shows that by the time they are in middle school, bilingual children often outperform their monolingual peers. What can parents do to support their development in two languages? The stronger the foundation of the child’s first language, then the easier it is to learn others. For bilingual parents, this means speaking the child’s home language and teaching them to read and write in it. Pass down the culture associated with your child’s native language as well. Research demonstrates that bilingual children who keep their language and culture while learning English in American schools do much better academically in the long run. [Related: How I'm teaching my young kid 4 languages] For monolingual parents who wish their child to become bilingual, consider a dual-language preschool.This provides them with an immersive second-language experience while enabling them to get a solid grasp on their first language at home. What should I do if I feel my child needs extra support in language and literacy? Observe your children as much as possible to recognize any language patterns unique to them. Keep in mind, though, that each child is different, so their language and literacy journey is, as well. Factors such as gender, birth order, and genetics can play a role in language development. Speak with your pediatrician about developmental milestones and whether or not they are noticing differences and delays. If there are delays, there are plenty of experts who can help — including developmental therapists who can come to your home. Parents play a big role in their child’s language and literacy development, but it’s important to know that if you need extra help, it’s not a role you have to play alone. Samina Hadi-Tabassum is a clinical associate professor at Erikson Institute where she teaches graduate courses in cognitive and language development. Her research interests include examining race, culture, and language.
  20. until
    A free workshop for expecting parents and parents with children up to aged three who are curious about three child development essentials that they can focus on in their daily parenting amid the pandemic chaos/fatigue. This workshop is all about going back to the basics of infant & toddler development while making it social justice conscious too. In this free workshop, parents will learn that: + When they cut out the parenting fuss and come back to care, they can focus on the three essentials things that lay a resilient foundation of development for your child. They are Reciprocity, Regulation, and Reconnection (3 R’s). + When they implement the 3 R’s in daily parenting- whether it’s during toilet training or tantrum- they’re practicing three concepts of transformative justice too. They'll unpack how concepts like power-with, solidarity, and accountability aren’t just for social justice. They nurture their child's development too. RSVP required. Please go here to register. This is an external partner event. Please contact the organization directly with any questions or concerns: nat@comebacktocare.com
  21. NPN Doloris

    Anatomy of a Meltdown

    In this presentation you will learn to identify the parts of a meltdown that are developmentally appropriate and the parts that aren’t so you can address your children’s behavior most effectively.
  22. Most of us probably have a good idea what it takes to get our young children to love reading. Snuggling up with a favorite book at bedtime, for example, sends a clear message about the value of reading. But what about a love of math? For many parents, it’s not so obvious how to help young children appreciate math — especially if they don’t enjoy it themselves or feel their skills in the subject are lacking. Yet parents are a powerful influence on how children feel about math. Feelings? Yes, research is clear that children’s mindset — their beliefs about what math is and who can do math well — helps determine their math achievement. So, if you’re a parent and don’t consider yourself a math person, there are still ways you can help your child succeed. First, try putting aside any pressure you feel to be their math teacher, and instead, think of yourself as a math cheerleader! With that perspective, following are five strategies you can use to cheer your child on and encourage their love of math. Be curious The concept of being a “math person” — or not — is a myth. But even if you don’t identify as someone who likes or is good at math right now, you can still model curiosity about the subject. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you can ask good questions. Two great questions to ask your kids: “What do you notice?” and, “What do you see?” Look with a math lens We use lenses all the time to help us see things differently: to improve our vision, to shade our eyes from the sun, to magnify microscopic organisms and to watch a 3-D movie. In the same way, we can use a math lens to help our children see the world differently. For example, you and your child might look at how eggs in a carton are lined up in two rows of six. You might notice the patterns on a checkerboard, or the symmetry of a building, shapes in the tile floor, height of a tree, rhythm of a song, etc. By pointing these things out, it won’t take long for your child to recognize the ways math is present everywhere they look. Picture books, too, are a great invitation to look at the world with a math lens. Visit your public library and check out these award-winning Mathical Prize books. Talk about math You’ve got chores to do: grocery shopping, washing dishes, doing laundry, straightening up the house. These tasks all offer opportunities to help your child sort, count, make comparisons and reason spatially. The Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute offers many practical ideas for math at home. Remember that language and math skills develop together. Take advantage of small moments to talk about math ideas as you move through your day together — think of it as the curriculum of life! Play games Children learn best through play. Games provide children with enjoyable math practice skills while also developing their logical, strategic thinking. Simple card games such as Uno and Memory offer opportunities for matching and comparing. Path-based board games like Parcheesi or Chutes and Ladders, in which children use dice or spinners to advance spaces, develop a sense of number magnitude. Strategy games like Connect Four and Mancala require children to plan their problem-solving by thinking a step ahead. Puzzles are also great for spatial reasoning. The blog Games for Young Minds is full of game suggestions and reviews to help you plan your next family game night that encourages your child’s love of math. Embrace effort Making mistakes and trying to figure things out is part of doing math. How you respond when you or your child makes an error can send the message that math is a process and that success comes from effort. As children move through school, there’s bound to be some struggle learning math — and you may be in the position to help with homework. In these situations, pause for a moment before offering assistance. This sends the message that it’s okay for them to not understand right away. As parents, we have to develop a stronger stomach for some temporary frustration. This is how your child will learn problem solving and perseverance — both crucial skills for life that math teaches particularly well. Jeanine O'Nan Brownell is the mother of three children. She works at Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative and partners with school districts, childcare centers, and agencies to design programs of professional learning for preK-3rd grade teachers.
  23. NPN and RUSH Kids Pediatric Therapy teamed up for a small group panel discussion on the developmental milestones your child should be reaching during their first year ages 0-12 months. This webinar covers: Infant milestones from 0-12 months What skills children are expected to achieve at each month of development Ideas of how to use tools that parents already have in the home to assist their children in achieving the milestones Suggestions for how to elicit skills (e.g., tummy time or rolling) What can make reaching milestones tricky for kids A Q&A portion will follow, and the presenters will provide resources for parents to use to encourage basic skill acquisition.
  24. So your child is about to begin this huge stage of independent self-care and you have a million questions. Are they ready? Is it going to be a complete disaster? Will they cry? Will you? On the flip side, there’s the glory of no more diapers. Ever. Think of all the saved money you can stash away in that college fund. Not to mention, you really need a break. Plus, most preschools won’t let you drop off a kid who isn’t fully potty trained. Clearly, this has to happen. You survey your friends about what they did and then read a couple of potty training books you don’t have time to read. And yet, it still seems confusing and like a huge drag you’d rather put off till another day, month, year...perhaps forever. But what about preschool? This has to happen. When getting ready to potty train my own son, I had a crazy thought: Was there any way to make this fun? Not only for myself, but because I still vividly remembered a graduate psychology course in which we learned about Erikson’s second stage of development: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. Usually completed between 18 months and three years old, it’s the period when children first encounter shame — the message of “You are bad” instead of “You made a bad choice.” Without even realizing it, parents and caregivers often use shame in potty training, not understanding how it can affect their littles. [Related: Potty Training for All Abilities (members-only video)] Knowing this, I was determined to make potty training a shame-free and fun experience. Pictured is the exact behavior chart I used. The result? A fully potty trained kid in no time. Quick note: I also had a second chart just for potty training when out and about. Because children have different things they struggle with — one might fear pooping in general, while another won’t go to the bathroom at school — feel free to get creative and make a chart that fits your child’s needs. 1. Get out all of your craft supplies and involve your child in the process. 2. Draw a fun shape like a circle or star and section it off into however many days you choose. 3. Write a reward in each box. I tried to create as many non-food rewards as possible and added special “bigger” rewards along the way; for example, making slime was a big hit, as was “phone” time. 4. This is the most important step: Buy or gather all of the rewards and place them in one spot in your home. Make sure your child can see everything. The idea behind this is that they will not have to wait to get their reward. When my son saw everything lined up on top of the hutch, he immediately bought into the program and said, “I’m going to get everything on my chart.” [Related: Best Chicago playgrounds for the potty-training toddler] A few things to keep in mind: No time like the present Summer is a great season to start this adventure because your kiddos can be naked without freezing. Less clothing to fuss with in and out of the bathroom is a win for everyone. If you can, take a couple of days off or a long weekend to potty train. Stay close to home, play board games, go to the park, and enjoy time with your little one outdoors. (Added bonus if you’ve got a boy: they can always pee on a tree in a pinch.) That said, always consider... Timing The best potty training advice ever given to me came from my pediatrician, who said to wait for the child to show interest. I took my son shopping for undies and then asked him every day for almost a month if he wanted to wear a diaper or undies. After Day 26, he finally said “undies” and I had them on him so fast he never had time to look back. Patience This is not always a quick process. Try not to get discouraged or frustrated. I quickly learned that if I got upset so would my son. Children feed off of our feelings. I began to act like it was no big deal and with the pressure off, there was room for fun. Phrases to have ready “I would never ask you to do something I didn’t think you could do.” “We all make mistakes; it’s part of learning.” “You’ve got this potty training thing down.” Humor Dance parties were the biggest part of our success. Every time he went to the bathroom, we would celebrate. He even had his own potty touchdown move. Take your time with the process so you can appreciate the joy of watching your little one accomplish this huge milestone.
  25. Not sure if you and your child are ready to kiss and go? Check out this 30-minute webinar presented by Michelle Lee of Fussy Babies Network, a project at the Erikson Institute. Lee gives a thorough overview of the causes behind separation anxiety as well as ways to calm you and your child's fears on the first day of school, including: * How to help children prepare for and cope with the transition to school * Strategies and tools you can use to prepare your child for school and to help them adjust to new routines * Identify and address forms of separation anxiety your child may be experiencing * How parents can manage their own feelings about this big step in their child’s life

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