Samara Tilkens Postuma is raising five kids from infant to teen in the St. Michael area with her husband, Jeff. When not found driving kids to and from activities, helping with homework or at the park or pool, you can find her sharing her life online where she does some freelance writing and social media work and also writes at her own blog, www.simplicityinthesuburbs.com.

Summer Safety with Children's: Screen Time in the Summer

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: July 7, 2014 - 9:06 PM

I'm pretty sure that 9 out of 10 arguments in every household with children of "screen time use age" are about screen time limits. Am I right?

Screen time is a tough one. Even as an adult. I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone or editing a photo when I really have a long list of to-do's. It's easy, it's mostly mindless and it's a really important topic.

Dr. Pamela Gigi Chawla, senior director of Primary Care at Children's Hospitals and Clinics, says screen time limits are not only important, they are critical to a balanced life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends absolutely NO screen time for children under the age of 2 and children under the age of 2 are recommended to ahve 2 hours or less each day.

That two hours is to include computer, TV, video games, iPads, iPods, anything electronic with a screen. Just two hours? Some days we've hit that limit before breakfast.

"It's definitely easier [to manage] during the school year," Dr. Chawla said noting that summer schedules create challenges with work schedules and childcare arrangements and a lot of juggling for some families. "But it's important to find alterantive ways to have fun in the summer."

Dr. Chawla suggests kids spend more time outside, get creative, try new activities or even to just allow kids to be.

"It's important to embrace just being without having the stimulation of a screen," she said noting that parents need to model this by not constantly being in front of a screen with with their kids.

Some families do currency or charts or require their kids to "earn" their screen time, still others only allow sunscreen in the car or while traveling and some allow their kids to self regulate. Whatever works best for your family while trying to use two hours or less a day of screen time works.

What works for your family when it comes to screen time?

Summer Bucket List: Linden Hills Neighborhood in Minneapolis

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society Updated: July 3, 2014 - 10:18 AM

If you live out in the suburbs and aren't familiar with Minneapolis or St. Paul, it can seem overwhelming to bring your kids for a city adventure but it doesn't have to be.

The Linden Hills Neighborhood in Minneapolis is a whimsical, fun place to visit any time of year but especially the summer. With Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun both just a stones throw away you really can choose your own adventure whether that is walking around the lake, playing at the playground, catching a concert at the bandshell or fishing off one of the docks. 

In the summer, Lake Harriet has free nightly concerts and various movie nights and other activities at the bandshell. {Schedule.}

Once you're done visiting either Lake Harriet or Lake Calhoun you can take a short walk down the way to 43rd and Upton Avenue and visit the infamous Wild Rumpus bookstore. Known for it's whimsical nature and the miscellaneous animals who take residence inside the store, readers of all ages will love this little book store. With a kids door and an adult door, creaky wood floors in the back and children's art work covering the back walls of the store, thanking Wild Rumpus for the fun. They specialize in children's books and have a wide variety. They also host various special author events, teen book club and even a couple pj's and trolley parties each year.

Once you've found some reading material, head on over to Sebastian Joe's where you will enjoy the most delicious ice cream on their back patio. My favorite is Pavoratti! Be prepared for a line and even a wait for a table on warm weekends and even some busier weeknights.

There's a Creative Kidstuff next door that my kids love looking and playing in before we wander down the way to the Linden Hills park where your kids can cool off for a dip in the wading pool or play at the park.

You can make it as full or as light of a day as you'd like.

Are you familiar with Linden Hills? If you live out in the suburbs, what are some of your favorite activities in Minneapolis or St. Paul?

Summer Safety with Children's: Bike Helmets

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: July 1, 2014 - 1:54 PM

It's not unusual to see neighborhoods full of little kids wearing helmets while they bike and scooter around these days but as those little kids get older, so do their opinions on whether they need to wear that bike helmet.

Can you ever be too old for a bike helmet?

Dr. David Hirschman, co-medical director of Children's Hospital Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, says no. You're never too old or too secure of a bike rider for a bike helmet. And that includes adults.

"You can not predict when you might fall or get injured, which is why always having a helmet on your head is important," Dr. Hirshman said noting that none of the kids he's seen for bike related injuries were planning on falling.

Even in a minor fall, concussions, memory loss and nausea can occur and in some serious cases Dr. Hirschman said even significant behavior changes can take place.

"It can take a long time to fully recover from a fall on one's head," Dr. Hirshman said.

Dr. Hirschman said it's important that parents encourage helmets for their kids by modeling the behavior and also just talking about the risks. "The risk is too great, messed up hair is worth it," he said.

Helmets should be replaced anytime a fall occurs that results in impact because they are really designed for one fall. It's also important that a helmet fits correctly, the strap is snug under one's chin and the helmet is covering both the front and back of one's head.

Throughout each summer, various clinics and organizations do bike helmet giveaways and the Injury Prevention Team at Children's Hospital is always happy to provide helmets to those who need them.

In 2013, there were 410 bicycle related injuries to the Emergency Room at Children's Hospital in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. So far in 2014, there have been just 74 visits. Wearing a helmet won't prevent falls or accidents from happening but it will help prevent a life changing head injury.

Do you and your kids wear bike helmets? How do you encourage your children to wear helmets even if neighbors or friends aren't?

On Playtime.

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Education and literacy Updated: June 25, 2014 - 9:34 PM

The University of Colorado released a study earlier this summer on just how important playtime is for kids, and some might be surprised. 

According to the study published in Frontiers, executive functions in childhood predict important life outcomes. How does one develop executive function? By playing. Unstructured, unscheduled play time is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children whether that is playing at the park or building with Legos or visiting the zoo.

In an article on The Atlantic, writer Jessica Lahey explains that "when we reduce the amount of free playtime in American preschools and kindergarten children stand to lose more than an opportunity to play house and cops and robbers."

Kindergarten teachers rank self-regulation as the most important competency for school readiness; at the same time, these teachers report that many of their students come to school with low levels of self regulation. There is evidence that early self regulation levels have a stronger association with school readiness than do IQ or entry level reading or math skills, and they are closely associated with later academic achievement. {Source.}

What does all that mean? The more opportunity your child has to play, the better they will do in school long term.

With play lacking and test taking rising in our schools, children are at greater risk for anxiety, depression and many students, especially boys, struggle with self regulation and executive function skills.

What do I think? I tend to agree. The lack of playtime in kindergarten was not only a source of frustration and heart ache when our now 8 year old was in kindergarten but also one of the reasons we've opted to send our five year old to Montessori school. I think that more playtime not only in kids' home lives is good but school as well can only lead to good things.

Your turn, what do you think? Do you believe the correlation between playtime, executive function and future achievement? 

Free Shoe Tying Class at Nordstrom

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: June 24, 2014 - 6:55 AM

My five year old starts kindergarten this fall and as has been tradition in our house, we work on shoe tying before we get to kindergarten. Because is there anything a kindergarten teacher despises more than tying shoes all day? I'm just guessing here but I have a feeling it's not their favorite part of the day.

A few years back I had heard rumblings of a shoe tying class at Nordstrom but never had the opportunity to attend so earlier this summer after a morning of my daughter WANTING to tie and my frustration growing with the idea that we needed to be out the door 10 minutes ago and can I please just tie your shoes? I thought now's the time for shoe-tying class.

On the third Saturday morning of each month, Nordstrom at the Mall of America holds a free shoe-tying class for kids. All ages of kids are welcome. The class is free and takes about 30 minutes and most kids leave knowing how to tie. {From my experience I noticed the employees encouraged lots and lots of practice. The more they practice the more you can ensure mastery!}

We went this past Saturday morning and it was really fun to watch the group of kids there go from just learning to really figuring it out. Several Nordstom employees were on hand to both instruct and help the kids.

An extra special touch is the certificate, balloon and goodie bag the kids get to take home afterwards.

The class takes place every third Saturday of the month from 9-9:30 a.m. and while the class is free, registration is required. You can register by calling Nordstrom(952) 883-2121 or by visiting the Children's Shoe department.

What age did your kids learn how to tie their shoes? 

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