Why I Started Volunteering for Literacy

March 2020

The other night my 10-year old walked into the kitchen and asked: can we try something new for dinner? I was already halfway through making spaghetti and meatballs so you can imagine the look I gave him…  But it wasn’t a change of menu he wanted: “How about a family book club?” he asked.

Yes, the same kid who loves everything tech and who I always worry is overdoing screen time, he wanted to talk books. I couldn’t believe it! His younger brother and my husband were on board too. Conversation ping-ponged around the table spanning everything from “Divergent” and “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” to a biography of Ulysses S. Grant and a memoir by Sonya Sotomayor.

And no, my household isn’t normally this Instagrammable, although we’ve always tried to make reading a regular part of our lives. Not just because it’s an essential skill and a tool for learning but because reading brings joy.

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Complementary Health Approaches for Kids

January 2020

Everywhere we look these days, dietary supplements, home remedies, or mind and body practices claim to be the next best thing to cure ailments and improve wellness. According to the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the number of adults and kids using at least some complementary health approach is on the rise. Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of children practicing yoga more than doubled, and the rate of children practicing mediation increased from 0.6 percent to 5.4 percent.

From bone broths to yoga, here’s a look at a variety of complementary health approaches with expert advice on their safety and effectiveness.

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Introducing Your Children to the Arts

May 31, 2019

Luca Cravotta probably doesn’t remember the first ballet he ever attended, but he was in good company. At 5 months old, he watched “Cinderella” while squeezing the finger of Patricia McBride, legendary dancer, associate artistic director of Charlotte Ballet and a 2014 Kennedy Center Honoree. To the rest of us, this is extraordinary. To Luca, McBride is simply one of his mom’s colleagues. Ayisha McMillan Cravotta, Charlotte Ballet academy directory and Luca’s mom, laughs when she recalls this story some five years later.

“We were able to approach it with a lot of flexibility since I work for the ballet and my husband [Jeff Cravotta] is a photographer and does a lot of work for the ballet,” she says.

Most kids don’t get to see their first performance under such remarkable circumstances, but whenver and wherever it happens, introducing children to the arts can open a world of discovery.

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More Than the Birds and the Bees: Teaching Your Child About Healthy Sexuality

December 29, 2015

For many of us, the idea of talking with our kids about matters related to sex is intimidating. “It’s one of the things that freaks parents out,” says Michelle Icard, an author and educator who specializes in guiding families through the tricky middle school years.  

Even if it’s uncomfortable, talking with our kids about sexuality is one of the best ways to provide a foundation for healthy choices and protect them. What are some key topics and how can we make the conversation easier?

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Yoga for Kids

December 27, 2016

Kids today have more options than ever for sports and physical activity. Yoga particularly seems to be popping up all over the place, from schools and studios to summer camps and even libraries. Why has yoga become so popular? According to experts, yoga offers many physical, mental and emotional benefits for children, including kids with special needs. So strike a pose and let’s get to them.

Kids build strength, balance, coordination and flexibility as they learn how to fold and stretch into various poses. Certain kinds of yoga practice can also provide a great cardiovascular workout.

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(Let’s Do the) Time Warp

January 2012

Do you hear that sound? That constant and reassuring tick-tock, tick-tock? Well, that my friends is the sound of progress. Picture it – a young(ish) couple and their two year old fighting no more over bedtime, nap time or bath time – all thanks to a new, little wonder gadget: a blue and white plastic kitchen timer.

That’s right, folks. A mere $1.99 spent at IKEA can change your life. (Well, that and a plate full of Swedish meatballs.)

Just listen to what happened to the Bertrand family. Their toddler was showing tell-tale signs of civil disobedience: refusing to come to the dinner table, objecting loudly when told he had to leave the store or turn off the TV, making his body go limp to foil any attempts to carry him to his bedroom for a nap. Desperate to restore peace in their household, they stumbled upon the greatest innovation in childcare since the disposable diaper.

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