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WELCOME PARENTS!
The WS/FC PTA Council has designed this web site to provide information to you, as well as PTA members.
There are articles on health & safety, parent involvement, education & schools. I hope you enjoy your visit to our site and find something that can help you.
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WHY JOIN THE PTA?
Many people ask the question, “Why join the PTA? What does it do beside ask for cookies and raise money for the school?”

The PTA (Parents-Teachers Association) is an advocate for children – is their spokesperson whenever and wherever they need one. Unfortunately, one of the main things PTAs have been asked to do is raise money for their school so that their children may have more than the school system is able to provide.

However, the purpose of the PTA is NOT to raise money, but to “do” for children – help them achieve a good education and a healthy life. The Council would prefer that you volunteer your time at the school as a tutor, reading buddy, lunch mate, media assistant, office or guidance aide, room parent – in fact, there are so many ways the teachers could “use” your talents. All you have to do is ask.

The National PTA began in 1897 when parents became alarmed at the status of children in the United States. Many very young children were working in mines and mills under terrible conditions. One of the first things PTA accomplished was the passing in Congress of child labor laws. Later saw the establishment of the juvenile justice system, mandatory childhood vaccinations, the school hot lunch program, placement of libraries in schools, and the adoption of a content-based TV rating system.

Early efforts also resulted in the establishment of public school kindergartens, longer school terms, and the teaching of art and physical education in schools.

PTA volunteers have helped with field testing the polio vaccine and in getting children vaccinated for Hepatitis B; provided parents with accurate information on parenting skills and parent involvement, HIV/AIDS education, and drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Daily PTA volunteers can be found advocating in Washington, D.C. or Raleigh for laws benefiting children, volunteering in schools, and, in general, doing whatever is necessary to improve the lives of all children.

Every officer of the PTA from the National president on down to the local level is a volunteer dedicated to children. You can’t ask for a greater goal in life than to improve the life of even one child.

In 2002 the National PTA will be celebrating its 105th anniversary on February 17th. PTA began when the dreams of a few people to improve the lives of children became a national movement. Today more than 6 million members worldwide belong to the PTA, the world’s largest organization dedicated to the advocacy for all children.

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PARENT INVOLVEMENT
PARENT POWER
Parent involvement in a child’s life is as necessary as air to breath and food to eat. It is the participation of parents/legal custodians in EVERY facet of the education and development of children from birth to adulthood, recognizing that parents are the primary influence in a child’s life. Parents are the child’s first teacher and the primary molder of the child. Children should be encouraged to think for themselves, but their values and standards will be influenced by their parents. Without a parent providing the basis for their values, a child is apt to fall into the hands of those who may not have the child’s best wishes at heart.

Research into parent involvement in a child’s life and schooling has shown that the more that a parent is involved, the more successful the child. So –

>>>Take time to be “with” your child. Eating meals together is so important. Field trips to the library, museums, ball games can also provide great opportunities to be together.

>>>Watch television with them so that you have the opportunity to explain images that may be confusing to them or do not fit within your value standards.

>>>Stay in regular contact with your child’s teacher. Check your child’s homework, regularly schedule parent-teacher conferences, and visit your child’s classroom (with the teacher and principal’s permission).

>>>Know where your children are – where they are going and with whom. Encourage them to join youth groups such as Scouts, church youth groups, 4-H, etc. Support community efforts to keep children safe and off the streets after hours.

>>>Establish house rules and enforce them. This can include the amount of time the child watches TV or is on the computer, what time they must be home from outside events, regular bedtimes, chores geared to the age of the child.

>>>When your child is online on the computer, be sure you know to whom they are talking. This doesn’t mean you have to stand over them all the time, but frequent spot-checks can give you all the information you need.

>>>Talk directly with your child about your values and standards, as well as the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

>>>LISTEN to your child. Take time to sit down with them and hear what they are saying. Don’t judge because as soon as you do, you’ll lose them. And if you have promised to not divulge what they’ve told you, don’t because they will stop talking to you.

Teach Children to Resist Bias and Prejudice
Guidelines to help children grow up free of prejudice and bias in a multicultural society include:
à Value each child for his/her unique talents and perspectives. Children who feel good about themselves are less likely to feel prejudice toward others.
à Serve as a good role model by maintaining and encouraging friendships with people of diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
à Teach children to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
à Help children recognize evidence of stereotyping and discrimination.
à Teach children to disapprove of racial and ethnic slurs or jokes.
à Give children ways to resolve conflict verbally rather than physically.
Helping children foster respect, understanding and acceptance in themselves and their peers is one of many issues addressed in the National PTA’s violence prevention campaign, Safeguarding Your Children. This also fits in very closely with the Character Education programs conducted by our schools.
EFFECTIVE LISTENING - A SPECIAL WAY OF LISTENING
Show you are listening and understand by. . .
1. Looking at the person who is speaking, facing them or leaning toward them.
2. Giving them your full attention.
3. Saying “uh huh” or “yes” or “I understand” from time to time.
4. Repeating a part or all of what they say to you or repeat what they say in “new” words.
5. Try to find the feeling behind the words and say it back to them.

Effective listening will work best if you. . .
1. Remain calm no matter what the other person says. Be accepting of their feelings.
2. Listen rather than trying to say something to make them feel better or by confronting them.
3. Listen rather than judging or evaluating what they say.
4. Listen rather than telling them why they feel the way they do.
5. Listen rather than giving advice or suggestions.
6. After they appear to have finished speaking, ask “open-ended” questions like “Do you mean…?” or “How do you feel?”

Effective listening can help when. . .
1. You want to help someone “cool off”.
2. You want the other person to “open up”.
3. The other person seems confused about what they feel and how to say it.
4. You want someone to know you understand him/her. You want to improve a relationship.

Effective listening works with children when. . .
1. You listen — really listen and don’t interrupt to insert your thoughts and ideas.
2. You don’t judge how they feel or think about a situation or person.
3. You understand when they don’t always agree with you and work out a compromise.

IMPROVING YOUR CHILD'S SELF-ESTEEM
1. Show, in words and actions, how much you care about your children as individuals. Listen to them talk about their activities and interests.

2. Spend time with your children doing homework, as well as “fun” activities.

3. Reward children with praise and celebrate when they do a job well. Recognize and emphasize the good things they do.

4. Use phrases that build self-esteem, such as “Thank you.” Or “You did an excellent job.” Or “I really liked the way you handled that responsibility.” Try to avoid adding “but” at the end of your praise, such as “I liked the grades on your report card, but you should have made all A’s.”

5. Have reasonable expectations. Help them set reachable goals so they can achieve success.

6. Give children responsibility so they will feel useful and valued. Thank them when they accept this responsibility and follow through.

7. Define limits and rules clearly – then enforce them. However, remember to be flexible within these limits, if a situation calls for it.

8. When there is a problem, discuss it without placing blame. If children don’t understand a problem, they won’t help look for a solution.

9. Express and “live” your values by being a good role model. “Show” them how you would like them to act.

10. Let them see that you feel good about yourself.

11. Let children see you can make mistakes and learn from them. Apologize to others when you make a mistake.

12. Help your children appreciate diversity in persons from other backgrounds. Point out the strengths in others.


Parents are a child’s first, and most important, teacher. Be proud of yourself and of your children.
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HOW PARENTS CAN HELP . . .
WITH HOMEWORK
Parents encourage good study habits by establishing homework routines.
>>>Make an agreement with each of your children on a regular time and place for homework.

>>>Try to schedule homework time when you or your children’s caregiver can supervise.

>>>Make sure your children understand their assignments.

>>>Sign and date your young children’s homework. Teachers appreciate knowing that the parents are interested enough to check over their children’s homework and see that it is finished.

>>>Follow up on assignments by asking to see your children’s homework after it has been returned by the teacher. Look at the teacher’s comments to see if your children did the assignment correctly.

>>>Discuss teachers’ homework expectations during parent-teacher conferences.

>>>Don’t do your children’s homework. Make sure they understand that homework is their responsibility.

>>>Be sure to praise your children for a job well done. Encourage the good work that your children do, and comment about improvements they have made.

Adapted from National PTA “Leader’s Guide to Parent and Family Involvement”, Copyright © 1996. Produced by WS/FC PTA Council.
AT-HOME READING TIPS
The following are tips for encouraging reading in your home.

+++ Make the public library a part of your children's lives. Check on special programs and activities that the library may offer to different age-groups of children, including story hours, reading contests, and discussion groups.

+++ Use the library with your children. Help them learn how to locate books with the help of librarians and catalog systems. Encourage enthusiasm by making your children feel proud of their selection of books.

+++ Set a good reading example for your children. Be sure they have plenty of opportunities to see you enjoying reading. Talk with your children about what you read, what you've learned and how much you enjoy it.

+++ Set aside a regular time for reading at home. It should be a time when the whole family can participate.

+++ Read together. Select reading material your children will enjoy. Try not to limit the types of materials. Use magazines, newspapers, comics, brochures, and instructions as well as books.

+++ Look over materials for words that may be unfamiliar to you or your children. When reading, pronounce the word and explain the meaning. Give your children a chance to read the word and explain it to you as well.

+++ If time allows, have your children read the selection silently first, before reading it out loud. This will help them gain confidence and understand it better.

+++ Ask questions while reading. Start out with simple questions about the story. Later, ask questions that require an opinion or conclusion. Encourage your children to ask questions also.

+++ Share reading out loud with your children. You can take turns reading paragraphs, sentences or even whole books. If your child struggles with a word, tell him or her the word and continue. Be sure that this is a pleasant experience and not a difficult task for either you or your child.

+++ Go over what you read with your children. Let them tell you what they've read. Talk about what you each liked or disliked in what was read. Try to remember and use any new words you read.

+++ When you finish reading together, encourage your children with praise. Be enthusiastic about improvement as well as good work. A warm "thank you" with a smile and a hug can make a world of difference.

These tips are in the Helping Your Child Learn area (in the Education Library) of National PTA's website at www.pta.org/programs/edulibr/readtips.htm.
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HEALTH & SAFETY
Inhalants Can Be FATAL!
Inhalants are household, industrial or office chemicals that can be inhaled – “huffed” or “sniffed” – to create a high. They are easy to carry and conceal. Users can suffer brain damage, respiratory problems or even death.

Inhalants have become a favored abuse of youth because household or school products are easily accessible and cheap. They produce a quick high because, rather than having to pass through the gastrointestinal system or blood stream, they go straight to the large surface areas of the respiratory system which allow for rapid absorption.

An inhalant high can range from light-headedness to seizures, unconsciousness and/or death. Other long-range effects include liver damage, bone marrow damage, depression, hostility and a psychological or physical dependence.

Common inhalants include magic markers, glue, plastic cement, lighter fluid, spray paints, paint thinner, cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, solvents, gasoline and other petroleum products, aerosol products (whipping cream cans, air fresheners, hair spray, Pam, etc.). “Wite Out” can be painted on fingernails allowing for a whiff all day. Even some soap pads contain a chemical that can be sniffed.

From “Inhalants Can Be Fatal!”, NC Parent-Teacher Bulletin, April 1996
Sports and Drugs: Why Do Athletes Take Drugs?
Kids use and abuse drugs, and not just illegal ones, in their pursuit of becoming better athletes. Common reasons include: making weight (losing weight to meet a specific weight class); pain relief (to mask pain to continue playing); enhancing their physique (build muscles quickly); peer pressure; performance; poor self-image; coping with rejection/success and celebrating victory.

The most commonly abused drugs and their dangers are:

>>>Steroids are used to increase strength and muscle size. The gains are only temporary while causing long-range health hazards such as changes in personality, physical and sexual characteristics, and risk of liver and heart disease. Steroids are banned by sports authorities and federations and can result in the athlete losing his eligibility, having his health ruined or even losing his life. These drugs are found in strength sports.

>>>Diuretics are used to “make weight” because they eliminate body fluids. They also cause dehydration, cramping, muscle coordination problems and decreased endurance. They are found most often in sports such as wrestling or gymnastics that require an athlete to maintain a certain size.

>>>Laxatives are also used to “make weight” by reducing body weight through the excretion of solid wastes. Their use encourages unhealthy eating habits including binging and purging.

>>>Stimulants such as caffeine, cocaine and amphetamines are used to reduce body weight and increase performance. However, their use can result in anxiousness, insomnia, dehydration, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and, in some cases, life-long drug addiction.

>>>Alcohol is the drug (And, yes is a drug.) most often found at celebrations after sporting events. Its use results in poor judgment, muscle control problems, driving accidents, DWI charges, and alcoholism.

If you are concerned with medication or drug use, including alcohol, by athletes or students in your school, talk with the guidance counselor, coaches and administrators to devise a program to combat it. Community mental health centers, drug and alcohol treatment agencies such as Step One or physicians are good resources to help you plan and carry out such a program.

Warning!!
Most pet turtles, snakes and lizards carry Salmonella bacteria that won’t make the animals sick but can cause infections in humans.

Self-defense: Wash hands right after handling reptiles and cleaning cages. Keep reptiles out of the kitchen. Do not use kitchen sinks to bathe reptiles or clean their dishes or cages. Pregnant women, children under age five and people with AIDS and other autoimmune diseases should avoid all contact with reptiles.

From Marta Ackers, MD, Epidemic Intelligence Service fellow, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.
SIGNS OF A TEEN’S CALL FOR HELP
All teens have good and bad days, but there are some behaviors that, when observed long-term, may be a sign your teen needs special help. Be alert for the following:

1. DRAMATIC MOOD SWINGS. Teens’ emotions can be up one minute and down the next, but your teen seems especially hostile and angry for a long period of time.

2. ISOLATION. Teens want and need privacy, but your child avoids spending any time with you, stops seeing friends and stops doing things he once enjoyed.

3. A CHANGE IN FRIENDS. Teens enjoy making new friends, but your child starts spending time with kids who are known to use drugs or who are members of a gang.

4. A CHANGE IN HABITS. Like all of us, teens have some days when they have changes in their eating and sleeping habits, but this behavior continues for several days.

5. DEPRESSED MOOD. The teen years are tough. No one expects a teen to be happy all the time – none of us are; however, your child has a bleak mood that lasts for more than 4 or 5 days.

If you are concerned about one or more of these signs in your teen, contact your family doctor, the school psychologist or guidance counselor for help.

Source: “What To Do If…A Guide for Parents of Teenagers,” Dr. Thomas Barrett, 1990 (American Association of School Administrators)
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