"I'm terrified my child will fall off a jungle gym and suffer a concussion."
Playground injuries are fairly common, causing about 200,000 E.R. visits every year, with the majority from falls. But only about 1.5 percent result in a concussion. "In most cases these injuries are preventable," says Gary A. Smith, M.D., DR.P.H., Parents advisor and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio. Follow the posted age recommendations. Avoid equipment higher than 6 feet off the ground. Check that the playground is well maintained, with adequate sand, wood chips, rubberized material, or other appropriate surfacing to cushion a child's impact if she falls. If your child does take a tumble, look for these warning signs of a head injury.
- She seems confused or disoriented.
- She is bleeding from either the nose or ear (or both).
- She vomits repeatedly.
-If your child seems to be breathing abnormally or loses consciousness, get her to the hospital immediately.
"Our local schools aren't very good, and private ones are too pricey. Will my child's education suffer?"
Don't rush to judgment. "I've toured a number of supposedly undesirable schools that have some marvelous programs," says Robin Aronow, Ph.D., founder of the education consulting firm School Search NYC, in New York City. If, after examining the curriculum and test scores, you're still convinced the school won't meet your child's needs, consider other options. Many school districts offer gifted and talented programs, which generally give an aptitude test for admission. Also look at parochial schools, where the tuition tends to be a fraction of that at other private schools. Charter schools nonsectarian public programs that tend to have smaller class sizes and innovative educational philosophies are increasingly popular, especially in urban areas. And at-home parents might also consider homeschooling. About 2 million kids nationwide are doing their learning in the living room (and on field trips) instead of in a classroom.
Otherwise, the number-one way to make a poor-performing school better is to become an involved parent. Join the PTA, and attend as many school-board meetings as you can to get a sense of what needs improvement. Then lobby for change. You can also supplement your child's education beyond the classroom. Instill a love of books by reading to him regularly, take advantage of museums and science centers in your area, and treat every day as an opportunity to teach him something new.