Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey Begins Looking for 2010 Class

/PRNewswire/ -- Do you know a high school student that could use some encouragement in their lives or a push of excitement toward their goals?

Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey, an event created to inspire and enrich high school students, has started accepting nominations for the Class of 2010. From now until Oct. 2, 2009, parents, teachers, family and friends can nominate the high school students for the highly successful event, which will return to Walt Disney World Resort Feb. 11-14, 2010. Students can even nominate themselves.

One hundred teens from across the country with big dreams and aspirations will be selected to pack their bags - and their dreams - and head to Walt Disney World Resort, where they will learn about careers in everything from culinary arts to animation, set design and show production to the business of sports and more.

The Disney's Dreamers Academy class of 2010 will be made up of teens nominated through Oct. 2, 2009. Young dreamers - who must be enrolled in high school for the 2009-10 term - can be nominated by anyone, including parents, guardians, teachers, church members, social organizations - even themselves. Although a high GPA is not required, students must exhibit a desire to learn, perhaps needing only additional motivational support to excel. Nomination forms can be found at www.SteveHarvey.com/disneysdreamersacademy.

A select panel of judges including national radio personality Steve Harvey, community leaders and Disney representatives will choose the 100 finalists. The Disney's Dreamers Academy class of 2010 will be announced in November 2009.

"We are very proud of the work we've done with Disney's Dreamers Academy," said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "This program not only celebrates the achievements of the 200 students involved, it also demonstrates the part dreams play in realizing personal and professional goals."

During Disney's Dreamers Academy in 2010, the students will participate in workshops with Disney cast members and executives, hear inspirational stories from entertainment celebrities and professional athletes, and enjoy the Disney theme parks - where they can see, first-hand, the results of people who turned their dreams into careers as "Disney dreamers." During the 2009 Disney's Dreamers Academy, some of the guest speakers were Chef Jeff Henderson, National Football League Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, pop/R&B recording artists Fantasia and Keyshia Cole, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith and, of course, Steve Harvey.

Harvey said Disney's Dreamers Academy "is about inspiring our young people who oftentimes don't have the chance to be exposed to a variety of job skills and job opportunities and meet with people in the fields they're interested in. We want to give our young achievers the tools to become overachievers - to make their dreams a reality."

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Kids Get Acid Reflux, Too

(NAPSI)-Did you know that 7 million babies and children in the U.S. have acid reflux?

Although a proper diagnosis is sometimes missed, some clues include a burning sensation in the throat or chest, tummy aches, spitting up, a sensation of food coming up, poor appetite, trouble swallowing, night waking, ear infections, sinus problems, asthma, wheezing, excessive crying, colic, tooth decay and bad breath. Untreated reflux can cause serious health problems.

The nonprofit Web site www.reflux.org has been providing information about acid reflux for 17 years. The site has now been translated into Spanish at www.ReflujoEnNinos.org. Patients, clinics and doctors can download free booklets and brochures in English and Spanish. The sites are supported by public donations and grants.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Long Should Infants Be Left In Car Seats?

(SPM Wire) Car safety seats are one of the most effective ways to protect children from injury and death in the first years of life.

For the best protection in a crash, car seats require infants to be placed in an upright position. However, this posture can partially compress the chest wall and reduce airway size, resulting in lower levels of oxygen and breathing problems, according to new research published in the medical journal, "Pediatrics."

Never use a car seat as a replacement for a crib and only keep infants in these safety devices for protection during travel.

Researchers compared oxygen levels in 200 newborns while in a hospital crib, car bed and car seat. They found that babies seated in car seats for 60 minutes had lower oxygen levels in their blood than those lying on their backs in hospital cribs.

But parents shouldn't use the results of the new research as an excuse not to use car seats when traveling with small children or to position them in the seats in incorrect ways. Car safety seats have been proven to protect babies and small children from injury and death, stress experts.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Toys"R"Us, Inc. Launches National Program to Spotlight Potentially Unsafe Baby Products Still in the Marketplace

/PRNewswire/ -- Toys"R"Us, Inc. today unveiled a national program that provides customers the opportunity to trade-in used cribs, car seats and other baby products in exchange for savings on a new item. The "Great Trade-In" event is designed to call attention to the fact that, due to safety concerns, certain used baby products, such as car seats and cribs, are not the best candidates to be handed down or resold.

Safety experts have recently reported that sales of used products are on the rise and are warning consumers to be cautious about purchasing second-hand children's items. The "Great Trade-In" event places an emphasis on specific old or second-hand baby products that may be potentially unsafe, but are still in circulation. According to consumer advocacy organization Kids In Danger (KID), in general, less than 30% of affected items are returned when a baby product is recalled. Beyond recalls, certain older and used baby products can raise other concerns. This could include products that have been damaged or others where advances in product safety have rendered older models non-compliant with the latest standards.

During the "Great Trade-In" event, which begins Friday, August 28 and continues through Sunday, September 20, all Babies"R"Us and Toys"R"Us locations nationwide will accept returns of any used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards and high chairs in exchange for a 20% savings on the purchase of any new baby item, in any of these product categories, from select manufacturers.

"In today's economy, we are all looking for ways to stretch our dollars, but in doing so, children's safety should not be compromised," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "We hope this program will help raise awareness of the importance of being vigilant about potentially unsafe children's items that may still be in the marketplace, while encouraging customers to use the 'Great Trade-In' event as an opportunity to remove used baby products, such as cribs and car seats, from their garages and attics."

Safety agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), have noted that it continues to be challenging to get dangerous products out of the home following a product recall. The CPSC advises parents to check its website, www.cpsc.gov, to make sure a product has not been recalled before using or purchasing it second-hand. In addition, parents should be aware that used baby products can raise other safety concerns. For example:

-- Federal and voluntary standards and regulations for safety testing,
particularly for cribs, have changed significantly over the past few
years, and older products may not have been produced to meet these
stringent requirements;
-- Car seats can sustain damage in an accident that may not be visible to
the naked eye, but could prevent the seat from functioning properly;
-- Car seats have expiration dates, as the materials can deteriorate over
time, potentially making the car seat less effective in a crash.
Parents can check with the car seat manufacturer to determine the
recommended period of use for a particular car seat;
-- Certain baby products, particularly car seats, are regularly
introduced with new innovations in technology that can improve the
products' safety efficacy;
-- Products made of or that contain certain materials, like wood and
plastic, for example, can deteriorate when exposed to extreme weather
conditions, like heat, potentially compromising safety integrity; and
-- Parts or instruction books for proper assembly, installation or use
may be missing.

It can be difficult for consumers to determine whether used baby products are safe, and with so many ways to purchase used products, it's important for parents to be informed and vigilant when making purchasing decisions. And, because consumers often do not know the history of a second-hand baby product, leading safety organizations such as Safe Kids USA recommend not purchasing used car seats, for example. Additionally, the CPSC advocates not purchasing used items that have a history of safety problems, including cribs, play yards and bassinets.

Manufacturers participating in the "Great Trade-In" event include Baby Cache, Babi Italia, Baby Trend, Bertini, Britax, Chicco, Contours by Kolcraft, Cosco, Delta, Eddie Bauer, Evenflo, Graco, Jeep, Nature's Purest by Summer Infant, Safety 1st and Sorelle. Customers can save 20% on a new purchase, from any of the specified product categories and from any of the aforementioned manufacturers, in Babies"R"Us and Toys"R"Us stores nationwide on the day they trade in their used item. Day care centers or other organizations who wish to exchange items in bulk are encouraged to contact their local Babies"R"Us or Toys"R"Us store prior to returning their used items to ensure adequate availability of new merchandise.

Customers can visit the company's Safety website, Toysrus.com/Safety, for the latest information on product safety and to sign up to receive product recall notifications by e-mail.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Toys"R"Us Unveils Annual Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids

/PRNewswire/ -- Toys"R"Us, Inc. today announced the release of the 2009 Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, an easy-to-use toy selection guide that matches specific skill sets with a wide range of everyday playthings. Released annually, this complimentary resource will be available in Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores nationwide and online, in English and Spanish, at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. Whoopi Goldberg, mother and grandmother, Oscar , Tony, GRAMMY and Emmy Award-Winner and child advocate, is featured on the cover along with Grace Kurowski, a five-year-old girl from Skillman, NJ.

New this year, the Guide features a special section dedicated to providing critical safety tips to help parents and caregivers avoid playtime injuries. While the 2009 edition includes updated features and an enhanced website, the fundamental elements that remain family favorites year after year, like the recognizable skill-building icons, still appear in this beloved resource.

"I am honored to appear on the cover of the 2009 Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids and advocate on behalf of children of all abilities who persevere in their efforts to reach new heights," said Whoopi Goldberg. "With the help of the Guide, caregivers can find appropriate toys for a child's individual abilities, providing an equal opportunity for all children to enjoy playtime."

"All children regardless of ability can imagine new worlds and share the joy of learning through the magic of play," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "We love kids and, as part of our ongoing mission to help keep them safe, we've included safety tips in the 2009 edition of the Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, ensuring playtime is a positive, memorable experience."

Helping Kids with Special Needs Enjoy Safe Play

Research shows accidental injuries occur more frequently among children with special needs, and most significantly among children with cognitive, emotional or social limitations. To help those who care for a differently-abled child prevent accidental injuries during playtime, the 2009 edition of the Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids features safe play tips for children with special needs. Tips range from basic advice about supervision to suggestions for effective communication. These safe play tips include:

-- Never Leave a Child Unsupervised: It is especially critical that a
child with special needs is properly supervised by an adult or trusted
caregiver at all times.
-- Survey the Play Area: Designate a specific area of the home for
regular playtime - one void of hazards, such as electric wires across
the floor that a child could trip over, hanging cords that could cause
strangulation and pools or windows that may pose a threat.
-- Use Visual Warnings: Post notes with phrases, such as, "Don't Touch!"
and "Off Limits!" on toys for older children, as well as power tools,
the stove, the kitchen drawers or any other potential source of
injury.
-- Review and Repeat: After setting playtime rules, create visual
reminders to post somewhere in the house or play area to serve as a
constant reminder to the child.

National Lekotek Center Partnership and Toy Selection Process


Since 1994, Toys"R"Us, Inc. has partnered with the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world accessible to children of all abilities, to assess the play value of hundreds of toys for children with special needs. Through therapeutic play sessions with some of the toughest toy critics - kids - the National Lekotek Center assigns at least two skill-building traits to each toy that appears in the Guide. Color-coded symbols signify the specific benefits of each item. Following are examples of the toys and corresponding skills featured in the Guide:

-- Auditory: Rock 'n Rollin' Piano from Sakar
-- Creativity: Fold & Go Barn from Melissa & Doug
-- Fine Motor: My First Duplo Set from LEGO
-- Gross Motor: Fold-2-Go Trike from Radio Flyer
-- Language: Laugh & Learn(TM) Say Please Tea Set from Fisher-Price
-- Self Esteem: Yo Gabba Gabba Muno's Groovin' Guitar from Spin
Master(TM)
-- Social Skills: Spongebugs Kids Fun Bowling Set from Gamenamics
-- Tactile: Color-Fillz(TM) from Crayola
-- Thinking: Disney Netpal(TM) Netbook from ASUS
-- Visual: Nerf(TM) Cosmic Catch from Hasbro

To further assist consumers, the Guide also includes a list of the "Top Ten Tips for Buying Toys" from the National Lekotek Center.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The CDC and Lysol Partner to Educate Kids About How to Help Protect Themselves From Harmful Germs

/PRNewswire/ -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)(1) and LYSOL brand products are proud to announce the launch of the Ounce of Prevention Kids web site www.oopkids.com, an interactive site featuring educational activities designed to promote good health and hygiene. The web site was created in a continued effort to educate children and their parents about everyday and seasonal health and safety issues. The site is adapted from a children's Activity Book created in partnership with the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), and includes health information provided by the CDC that supplements the Ounce of Prevention campaign.

A recent survey revealed that a majority of parents (72 percent) feel they have minimal to no control over protecting their kids from germs at school.(2) With health officials warning that the number of H1N1 flu cases is certain to worsen when influenza-friendly fall temperatures arrive, parents are concerned, more so than ever, about the germs their children will encounter at school. Now, parents have a kid-friendly and entertaining resource to help teach their children healthy hygiene habits to practice at home and in school that will help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs.

"It's unrealistic for parents to think they can control all of the germs their children will encounter at school," says pediatrician Dr. Laura Jana, mother of three school-aged children and owner of an educational child care center. "However, they can teach their children about the importance of personal hygiene, at a young age, to help prevent illness. Turn necessary routines into entertaining games to get your children excited about what would otherwise be mundane chores."

The Ounce of Prevention Kids web site www.oopkids.com, is designed for children ages six to nine, and features a range of activities, for kids to play on their own or with a parent, that focus on personal hygiene, nutrition, exercise and safety. Children can follow guides R.B. and Scrubs, animated characters, around the site to learn about the importance of hand washing, computer safety, healthy food choices and more. Activities can be played online or printed for later use.

Kid-friendly health and hygiene tips include:

-- Wash your hands often to keep them germ-free
-- Cough and sneeze into a tissue to prevent spreading germs to others
-- Eat healthy to keep your energy high and immune system strong
-- Keep your smile bright and mouth healthy by brushing twice a day
-- Stay safe in the kitchen to prevent injury or illness
-- Have fun to stay healthy and happy

"We are pleased to bring parents and health educators alike this high-quality, educational health and hygiene program. The content has been reviewed by experts who specialize in the care of children and recommend it as a valuable resource for childhood development," said Tom Bach, Professional Relations Manager of Germ Protection at Reckitt Benckiser, makers of Lysol.

Additionally, there are helpful tips for parents about proper food handling and surface disinfection with links to partner web sites, including CDC's Ounce of Prevention campaign home page www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention and LYSOL's Germ Information Center www.lysol.com/germ-information-center/.

More helpful information and interactive activities will be added throughout the year.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Lady Mary Perdue to Host Reading Under the Stars

Event to support Georgia’s One Millionth Pre-K child campaign

First Lady Mary Perdue announced today that she will host Reading Under the Stars at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday, August 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. First Lady Perdue will host Georgia’s Pre-K students for a live reading in the mansion gardens of Bedtime in the Jungle by John Butler.

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is celebrating a significant milestone this year. During the fall of 2009, the one millionth child will pass through the doors of a Georgia Pre-K Program. The program was established in 1993 to provide the state’s four-year-old children with high quality preschool experiences. In conjunction with the Millionth Child celebration, Georgians are encouraged to read to children in child care programs, family day care homes, at home, in schools, in church, in public libraries, at fairs or anywhere there is an opportunity to share the love of reading. Readers can visit Bright from the Start's website to log the number of books read at www.decal.ga.gov .

Families who wish to attend should RSVP in advance by calling the Constituent Services Hotline at (404) 656-1776. Only phone reservations will be accepted. Reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. Due to space limitations, the number of chaperones must be limited to no more than one adult per two children. Each person will be asked to provide the name and Pre-K program the student will be attending this coming school year.

Activities at the Reading Under the Stars event will include face painting, music, giveaways and information on the Millionth Child campaign. Peachtree Publishers and the Junior League of Atlanta are providing books and volunteers for this event. Light refreshments will be provided. Families are asked to bring blankets for seating during the reading.

Participants are asked to arrive at the Governor’s Mansion at 6:30 p.m. Guests with reservations should enter at the main security gate.
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Arbor Day Foundation Invites Fifth-Grade Students To Take Part in 2010 National Poster Contest

Fifth-grade students from the United States will learn how trees can help produce and conserve energy by participating in the 2010 Arbor Day National Poster Contest, an annual contest that teaches thousands of students each year about the value of trees. The 2010 Arbor Day National Poster Contest is a program of the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation.

The theme of the 2010 Arbor Day National Poster Contest is "Trees are Terrific ... And Energy Wise!"

The competition is open to all fifth-grade students nationwide. In addition to the poster contest, lesson plans are available to educators to use in the classroom. These activities help increase students' knowledge of how trees grow and the environmental benefits trees provide every day. Activities correlate with the National Education Standards.

This year's theme, "Trees are Terrific ... And Energy Wise!" was chosen because it helps students better understand how trees can be used to cut down on energy costs and help the environment. This is just the second time the Arbor Day Foundation has selected this theme since the poster contest began in 1992.

"We felt this theme will be especially relevant this year, given the national focus on renewable energy," said Michelle Saulnier-Scribner, program director for the Arbor Day Foundation. "Students will learn how valuable a resource trees are, and that a few well-planted trees can significantly cut down on energy usage in houses, schools and building in every community."

Teachers, parents, and students can visit www.arborday.org/postercontest for contest rules, state deadlines, and to view the previous year's winners. A free educational guidebook with extensive classroom activities will be available for downloading after Aug. 15.

Prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners. The national winner, his or her parents, and the teacher of the winning student will receive an expense-paid trip to the National Arbor Day Awards Weekend in Nebraska City in April 2010. The national winner will also receive a $1,000 savings bond, a lifetime membership to the Arbor Day Foundation, a framed copy of the winning poster, and will have a tree planted in his or her name. The national winner's teacher will receive $200.

The second- and third-place winners will each receive savings bonds and trees will be planted in their honor. Prizes will also be awarded on the state level.

For the second consecutive year, students, teachers and other visitors to the Foundation's Web site, www.arborday.org, can help select a finalist for the national competition. From March 29 through April 2, visitors can select their favorite poster. The entry with the most votes will automatically move to the final round of judging.

Last year, more than 10,000 people participated in the online voting.

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A peanut butter sandwich could help a creative kid chef pay for college

(ARA) - With back-to-school season right around the corner, there’s no better way to spend time with your kids and encourage them to use their imagination than to create something with them in the kitchen.

Over the past seven years, thousands of kid chefs from across the country have taken on the challenge of making the most creative peanut butter sandwich, coming up with peanut butter kabobs, peanut butter fruit pockets and even “Happy Hedgehogs” using Jif (R) peanut butter and their imaginations.

From Aug. 7 through Nov. 13, 2009, the makers of Jif peanut butter are accepting entries for the 8th Annual Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest(TM). Five finalists will win a trip to New York City for the live judging event and a chance to win the grand prize of a $25,000 scholarship fund. Four runners-up will be awarded a $2,500 scholarship fund. The contest is open to children ages 6 to 12.

Last year’s most creative peanut butter sandwich was inspired by a Louisiana po’boy sandwich and a Philly cheesesteak. Ten-year-old Jordyn Boyer of Lebanon, Pa. wowed the judges with her Po’Boy Peanut Butter Chicken Cheesesteak, made with Jif Creamy Peanut Butter, chicken, peppers, onions, apples and mozzarella cheese. To compliment the fresh peanutty taste of her sandwich, Jordyn created a sauce of Jif creamy peanut butter, Worcestershire sauce, honey and honey mustard, perfect for dipping her savory sandwich.

For decades, choosy moms have made Jif their No. 1 choice of peanut butter and the makers of Jif would like to give choosy moms the recognition they deserve. The Jif Moms Voice Their Choice Contest (TM) is asking moms (or those inspired by one) to submit their stories – in 250 words or less – of how they make the best choices for their families. One grand prize winner will win a trip to New York City to serve as a judge at the 8th Annual Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest final live judging event in March 2010.

Last year’s winner, Judy Detter, from Clark Summit, Pa. talked about wearing many different hats in her family, one of them being the family chef. “As a choosy mom of two kids, peanut butter is something we pack in their lunches daily,” she says. “As my family’s cook, I choose to prepare healthy snacks and creative meals and look forward to recreating these recipes with my daughters.”

For official rules, entry form, recipes or to learn more about the contests, visit www.jif.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Using Technology To Help Kids Succeed At School

(StatePoint) If you were presented with the option of having your child become the world's best video gamer or the most technology-literate student poised for success in school and the workplace, which would you choose?

Parents today have this choice, say experts, as this generation of children is positioned to become the most literate, best informed and most technologically sophisticated ever. What kids do with this opportunity largely is contingent on their parents' involvement in helping them use new technologies for more than just entertainment.

"It's more important than ever for parents to ensure children take advantage of computer technology to get a leg-up in life. There are many free Web sites and services accessible at home, in schools and libraries, to help kids learn better and be prepared to compete in the workplace," said Allan Weis, author of the new book "The Business of Changing Lives" and founder of ThinkQuest, an educational Olympics on the Web.

"A generation ago learning was about textbooks and blackboards. In the future, computer technologies will bring three-dimensional virtual reality to classrooms to help kids directly experience things. In the meantime, there are many technologies that can unleash children's minds and creativity today," added Weis, the founder of Advanced Network Systems, the company that built the backbone of the Internet two decades ago.

Not surprisingly, the majority of learning takes place outside school, as only 13 percent of children's time is spent in class. Here are some tips to help kids use technology at home to improve their futures:

* Initiate Young Kids Early: Teach small children to enter cooking times with you on your microwave. Familiarize them with how the computer keyboard and mouse work. Have them help scan food packages at the grocery store. Ask your local librarian to teach them to find books using the electronic card catalog.

* The Family Computer is Key: Computers in the home bring families closer together and result in better grades. Monitor kids' use and be sure your computer is equipped with educational software, as well as a word processor, multimedia presentation program and even video creation programs. Demonstrate to young kids how to conduct Web searches and use these programs.

* Use the Web as Window on the World: Encourage kids to use age-appropriate news sites, such as TimeForKids.com, StudentNewsnet.com and ScienceNewsForKids.org. Visit ThinkQuest.org to access the non-profit's free library of over 7,000 resources for kids, as well as global technology competitions. Museum Web sites, such as The Smithsonian's SmithsonianEducation.org, also make great learning tools.

* Teen and Tween Issues: Children's lives today are complicated, with a faster pace compounding peer pressures. The Internet can offer safe havens to share feelings. For example, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting maintains www.pbskids.org/itsmylife, featuring the ability to get advice from older kids and experts.

Supervise Internet use, making sure children surf safely. To familiarize yourself with the future of education technology, including the advent of 3-D classrooms, read the new book, "The Business of Changing Lives" or visit www.advanced.org.

"Kids should learn to use computers as an extension of themselves, much the way they use pencils. Computer technology is the new pencil that can unleash creativity, revolutionize learning and help close the educational resources gap among students in different communities," stressed Weis.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Sharpen school skills in the kitchen

With the first day of school just around the corner, now is a good time to start sharpening skills. And the kitchen is a fun place for children of all ages to refresh math skills and reinforce lessons learned in school, a University of Georgia expert says.

“The important thing to remember to make the kitchen fun, educational and safe, is to give children age-appropriate tasks,” said Connie Crawley, a UGA Cooperative Extension nutrition expert in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Letting children help in the kitchen is a good way to practice measuring skills. Learning to double or cut a recipe in half is a fun way to use and practice math skills, she said.

“It is also a good exercise for children to check recipes, list ingredients needed, make a shopping list, help purchase the food, store it properly, plan a schedule for preparation, do the preparation and then clean up,” Crawley said.

More skills can be used by having children search for coupons, clip and sort them, and help figure out how much money can save with the coupons.

When it comes to actually preparing food, middle school students can be fairly independent.

“They can handle more complex recipes like casseroles, desserts, soups and special salads,” she said. “And they can certainly prepare simple meals for the family if instructed by parents.”

Crawley doesn’t recommend allowing kids to fry or grill foods unless parents closely supervise.

“At this stage,” she said, “they may begin being interested in the creative side of food and want to make complex desserts, breads and other more adventurous recipes.”

Fuel their creativity, she said, but expect outcomes to be sometimes less than perfect.

Elementary-school-aged children can get in on the action, too.

“With supervision, children actually can make a simple recipe,” she said. “They can cook on the stove with supervision, but there are many other options for them.”

Crawley recommends letting elementary school students prepare sandwiches and salads, knead and shape homemade bread or make pizza. Depending on their manual dexterity and the amount of supervision they need, some children may be able to cut and chop ingredients. Breakfast and snack foods are an easy place to start.

Preschoolers love to play kitchen. Helping prepare a real meal is an added treat.

“Most of the things they can do at this age must be totally supervised by an adult,” Crawley said. “Their tasks will mainly be pour-and-dump type activities like pouring a liquid from a measuring cup into a recipe.”

Preschool children can also count the number of eggs needed for a recipe, help crack the eggs with assistance and let them fall into a batter, she said. Other skills right for the preschool set include spooning an ingredient into a measuring cup, cutting cookie or biscuit dough, stirring ingredients with a spoon or topping a pancake or waffle with cooked fruit.

“Many preschoolers can help spread frosting on cupcakes or spoon muffin batter into a pan,” Crawley said. “They can help decorate holiday foods as long as you aren’t expecting perfection. One of their favorite ways to help is to gather ingredients for a recipe and help with clean up afterward.”

In addition to math and writing skills, the kitchen is a good place to teach children about their family heritage and other cultures. “Children are often interested in learning to prepare traditional foods that family members have passed down,” Crawley said.

Cooking family cultural dishes or other international recipes provides a good opportunity to learn about the countries where the foods come from and brush up on geography and social studies.

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

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