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Parent’s Ask: AzMerit

Q: “I’m very concerned about my son’s AzMERIT test scores because last year he didn’t do very well. When should I expect to see the results and how concerned should I be about his scores this year?” Tina, Chandler A: Individual AzMERIT student score reports will be distributed to districts and charter schools this summer, after which they will be disseminated to parents. Many are planning to send them home with students at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year this fall. Check with your school to find out when your son’s will arrive since each district will set the timing for providing score reports to parents. When you do receive the results, they will be provided in the same format as last year. You’ll be able to see how your child performed individually as well as compared to peers at their school and around the state. In addition to giving an overall score, the reports also break down each subject into categories to provide you with a better understanding of how your child did in math and English. Since this is the second year of AzMERIT testing, the report will also feature your child’s progress over time. When examining this year’s AzMERIT scores, the first thing that you should keep in mind is that this is only the second year of the exam. It’s quite different from AIMS and requires much more from students. It’s still new, especially for those who may have taken the paper version the first year and the computer-based test this year. There are four performance levels that describe the abilities of students who...

Fatherless Father’s Day

By Denna Babul, R.N. and Karin Luise, Ph.D. As Father’s Day is soon upon us, we often get lost in the planning and enjoyment of celebration. What some don’t realize is that 43% of children in the United States live without a father figure. So during Father’s Day prep mothers of fatherless children need to plan ahead to make sure their kids don’t feel left out. Editor’s note: While this article uses ‘she’ pronouns, these tips can apply to both daughters and sons.  Provide emotional support at her level when she appears rattled, uncooperative, disengaged or attention seeking. Although she is beginning to look like a more mature girl on the outside, her emotions on the inside can be extremely confusing. She will experience a mix of the growing need for self-expression and freedom, stirring around with child-like desires for nurturing. She may lash out and surprise you with irreverent boldness and display pulling away or disengaging. For example, instead of saying, “I am hurt, Mommy, please hug me,” she might yell that she does not need you and slam doors. Often. Since she is at a complex age, she is seeking to release her new emotions. Under it all, she is searching for safety and a way to feel better. She craves a sense of normalcy to feel like she used to and enjoy life again. Keep letting her know her importance and how much you also want things to feel happy and normal in the home. Then do what you can to facilitate that. Encourage her to spend time with trustworthy friends or mentors in order to...

Advocating Special Needs

By Judy M. Miller Parents are natural advocates for their children. We love our children and we want the best for them. As a mother of four children, three with special needs, I know how important it is to advocate for my children. There is no one who will be more committed to making sure my children have access to the support, treatment and education they are guaranteed more than me. My youngest daughter was my second child to be diagnosed with special needs (each of my kids have different special needs). I was at first overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge and intimidated by how to best advocate for what she would need in school when I did not yet know myself. I chose to dive in. Great hope impelled me. Here are some of the tips I learned on my personal journey. Accept your child’s diagnosis and become the expert about it. Gather information about your child’s special needs diagnosis, recommended remedial techniques and treatment. Learn all you can about your child’s special needs. Break the information into terms that you can understand. This will help others appreciate your child’s special needs when you share the information with them. I needed to fully comprehend my daughter’s diagnosis and the recommended care and treatments (therapies). I felt I would be a far more effective advocate for my child if my knowledge about my child’s special need bordered on encyclopedic. I fast-tracked my education. I purchased books, highlighted passages, and wrote in the margins where I required further clarification, discovered something I desired to learn more about, or wanted...

The Teenage Entrepreneur

By Pam Molnar With today’s economy, teens are having a hard time finding work. According the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, only 60% of teens were employed last summer compared to 75% in 1983. Under-employed adults are now filling jobs that have traditionally been filled by teenage workers in our society and recent college graduates. If a teenager is without a job during their high school years, where will they get the money to buy a car, save for college or even have a little spending money for a trip to the movie theater? Entrepreneurship is the answer. As a third generation entrepreneur, I can tell you that starting and maintaining your own business is not easy nor is it something for everyone. It takes hard work, self-motivation and perseverance. The majority of teen businesses are service oriented and many of the families in your neighborhood can benefit from those services. Take a look at some of these ideas and see if they would be a good fit for your teen. Pet sitting: Pet sitting involves caring for someone’s pets while they are on vacation or away for the day. A pet sitter will be responsible for giving fresh food and water, walking dogs and cleaning out cat litter boxes. Pet sitters need to be early risers and have the ability to get back and forth to the pet’s home three or four times each day. Tutor: Teens can use their skills to tutor younger kids in a variety of areas. If your teen plays an instrument, he can work with younger students to keep up their skills over...

Signs of Childhood Autism

By Tina K. Veale, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, of Midwestern University Few childhood conditions are as frightening for parents to contemplate as autism. Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder that causes social communication deficits and repetitive behaviors. The signs of autism can be present at birth (classic autism), or more commonly, begin between 18 and 36 months of age (regressive autism). Most children who develop autism start their developmental journey in the same ways that neurotypical children do: learning to walk, talk, play and engage with the world around them. And then something goes wrong. Over a period of months, the child loses skills that had been developed. The loss happens a little at a time, and may not seem that worrisome at first. As the pattern continues, adults who know the child become concerned that something is not quite right. For example, Dani was the first child born to her parents. She was perfect in every way. The product of an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, she met all early developmental milestones as expected. Except for a couple of ear infections, she had been a healthy infant and toddler. At age 22 months, her parents noticed some odd changes. Dani was becoming less interested in the world around her and more interested in an ever-narrower range of things and activities. She had always enjoyed having her father play on the floor with her, but she now ignored him when he sat down to play, and sometimes pushed him away. She collected circular items into a pile, and spent hours staring at or spinning them. If interrupted, she became very upset until...

The ABC’s of Water Safety

By Juana Hernandez, SRP Safety Connection Representative   It can happen so quickly. One minute you’re enjoying the Arizona sunshine with friends and family by the pool and the next minute you’re pulling a child from the water and dialing 911. Last year, according to the Children’s Safety Zone, there were 158 water-related incidents that resulted in 17 children and 29 adult fatal drownings in Maricopa and Pinal counties alone. Overall, Arizona continues to be second in the nation when it comes to child drownings—and children ages 1 to 4 years of age are most at risk. Remember to be safe this summer by following the ABC’s of water safety – Adult supervision, Barriers to water and Classes for swimming and CPR. Far too many water-related incidents involving children are reported even when there is a large group of adults nearby, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on children at all times. Assign a capable Water Watcher to keep eye-to-eye supervision on all children in and around water at all times. The Water Watcher should know how to swim and be familiar with his or her current location and address in case of an emergency. Securing multiple barriers to water can help reduce incidents when supervision fails. If you own a pool, install a fence around the perimeter with a self-closing, self-latching door. Never leave a pool gate door propped open for any reason. Expect the unexpected by moving patio furniture inside of the pool fence so children do not use it to climb over the fence. Store toys that may attract kids to the pool...

Mommy Time

By Christina Katz How come other moms always seem to “have it all” and still have time to work out, read the latest best sellers, and spend time with their friends while you seem to be scrambling to keep up with the dishes, the laundry and your daily taxi service? The truth is, making time for you is an art and, like every art, it requires practice. If you don’t take time to rest and rejuvenate, eventually you won’t have a self to worry about, because that’s how busy you will become with everyone else’s concerns. Even if you fear the guilt you imagine will come with making time for yourself, carving out space in your own life for yourself is a healthy necessity. Best-selling author of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, says, “We lose ourselves because we are afraid of being selfish, but when we turn around and take care of ourselves, we actually become much happier and more generous.” Here are 10 self-nurturing activities to choose from that blend well with your everyday commitments. Most can be squeezed into a busy week, during naptime, into the mornings or evenings, or while the kids are busy with an activity. Heart on paper -Cameron recommends three pages of longhand writing every day. Can’t do three whole pages? Just do what you can. For moms, any kind of journaling can be illuminating and constructive. Move it, move it -Shake your groove thing any time you need a quick attitude change. Shut the blinds. Take off your shoes. Put on your favorite dance music and get down. Dance your heart out...

Parents Ask – Becoming a Foster Parent

Parents Ask – May 2016 Q: I’m interested in becoming a foster parent. What do I need to do and how long does it take? Amy – Chandler A: In Arizona, the number of children in foster care has grown to nearly 18,000. The need for foster parents who are willing to open up their homes and provide love, stability and support to these children has never been greater. Many of the children entering into the foster care system are not able to immediately stay with a foster family simply because there are not enough foster homes to fill the need. Children will often spend an extended time in emergency shelters or group homes as they wait for a space in a foster home to become available. To become a foster parent in Arizona, there are specific state requirements and steps. Some of the main ones include (but are not limited to): Applicants must be 21 or older for foster care and 18 or older to adopt. All members of the household must be in agreement to pursue foster care and/or adoption. Anyone living in the home who is 18 or older must pass a background check and receive a Level 1 fingerprint card. Your home will be inspected and must pass according to OLCR guidelines. All applicants must attend a minimum 30 hours of pre-service training. There is also additional training for therapeutic foster care. You must have space in your home (a bed for each foster child and space for their personal items). The time it takes to complete these steps and meet these qualifications depends on...

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