• February 2022

    Black History Month 2022

    Black Artists Aaron DouglasAaron Douglas was born in 1899 and made art during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a frenzy of art and cultural expression that happened in Harlem, New York that produced new art, music and literature. While the explosion of all this new art took place in the 1920s, Harlem continues to be a center of African-American art and culture today. Alma Thomas Alma Thomas was an expressionist painter who was born in 1891. Her early work was representational, but she evolved into her signature of work on canvas that is characterized by shapes, color, rhythm and powerful emotions. Thomas was a black woman in a…

  • May 2020

    Turn Off the Screens

    How to Get Them Up from the Screens BY SUKI WESSLING In normal times, our kids are using screens way too much. These aren’t normal times. I love the Internet and all it has given us, but as a parent, one of the things I am concerned about is when activities on screens replace healthy, real-world activities. These activities are the antidote to screen use, and involve moving the body, changing eye focus between long and short distance, developing complex fine motor skills, and social interaction. In other words, all the things our kids do when they are in classes, playing with friends, being creative, and just out in the…

  • May 2020

    Reluctant Homeschooler

    Reluctant Homeschooler? Join the Club! BY SUKI WESSLING It’s an odd time to be a homeschooler. You finally got used to being the weirdest family on the block, and then suddenly everyone is doing it. I’ve been writing about homeschooling and teaching homeschooled children for years, operating in an almost invisible subculture that mainstream parents and teachers only found out of desperation. As recently as January, a public school official expressed surprise to me that my job—online teacher of homeschooled students—even existed. Most of the teachers I met thought that homeschooling was perilously close to child abuse. So I and other veteran homeschoolers have been watching with a mixture of…

  • Mother and Daughter
    May 2020

    Skin Color

    Skin Color BY AMANDA FIRTH This is part of a short series on foster parenting and adoption in Santa Cruz County. Proper names in the stories have been changed for the protection of the children and families involved. An old and dear friend was over at our apartment to meet “our babies.” One baby was really about to become our baby forever. We were about to adopt a beautiful Latino baby. He was in the midst of a playdate with one of our former foster babies, who was white. The two of them were crawling around the living room together.“It’s a shame you’re not adopting that one. That one looks…

  • santa cruz kids playing outside
    January 2020

    Happy Healthy Kids: Eight Reasons to Embrace Outdoor Play

    Happy Healthy Kids Eight Reasons to Embrace Outdoor Play By Jan Pierce Are you one of those parents who wonder if your child’s schedule is too crowded? Too stressful? Do you watch him play video games by the hour and get a little nervous about the long-term effects? Do you wish she had time to “just play” rather than run from school to lessons to team practices? If you can relate to the above situations, you’re in good company. It seems today’s busy lifestyles don’t allow much time for healthy, unstructured outdoor exploration and play. Schools that give more recess and breaks from classwork are finding attention improves during the…

  • critical thinking kids santa cruz
    November 2019

    Happy and Successful Kids Life Skill 5: Critical Thinking

    Happy and Successful Kids Life Skill 5: Critical Thinking By Jan Pierce Everyday life involves a lot of problem-solving. How do you encourage your children to get along with others? What’s the best way to help your child learn to manage their time and select appropriate activities? Should you let your kids play video games and which ones are off-limits? Without realizing it, you’re making logical decisions every day, and your kids need to learn how to make sound, logical decisions as well. Thinking logically helps kids get balance. Not just in their social and emotional lives, but in their reading, their writing, and their math and science explorations as…

  • yoga and child birth
    October 2019

    The Birth of a Mother: Yoga Can Help Childbirth and Infant Rearing

    The Birth of a Mother Yoga Can Help Childbirth and Infant Rearing By Hannah Muse  The journey of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum is undoubtedly one of the most incredible, life-enhancing, fulfilling experiences one can ever experience!  And – whether it’s our first pregnancy or our fourth – it can also be a great challenge for our bodies, minds, and emotional life in ways we’ve never experienced; in ways that we don’t always feel ready and resourced to handle without additional support.   Who needs goat yoga when you’ve got baby and prenatal yoga? And in Santa Cruz you can learn to be a prenatal yoga teacher. Photo: Expressivephotographics.com Luckily there is…

  • sing to your baby
    October 2019

    Sing to Your Baby: Music and Brain Development

    Sing to Your Baby Music and Brain Development By Jan Pierce The sweet interaction between a mother and her baby when the mother sings to the infant is a universal behavior. And researchers now know that this simple, most natural activity is mutually beneficial to both mother and child. Singing provides the sensory stimulation that helps baby to focus attention enabling learning, and the mother feels empowered as she creates a positive bond with her baby. Music builds connection, both with words and the unconscious mathematics of creating a melody. Benefits of Musical Experiences But studies are showing that a broad array of musical experiences can build connections in the…

  • santa cruz swim lessons for babies
    May 2019

    Swimming Lessons Save Lives

    Swimming Lessons Save Lives The sooner you get them educated the better By Tiffany Harmon The stark truth is this: drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 – 4  and is the second leading cause for children 1 – 14 after motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, many children are at risk due to low, or no swimming ability, and the risk is even higher for minority children.  These statistics, while frightening, are extremely relevant for us, as residents of the Monterey Bay Area. We are incredibly fortunate to live in an area that is home to amazing ocean views, wildlife, and opportunities for recreational activities like surfing, swimming,…

  • finding the right summer camp for your kid
    April 2019

    Finding Summer Camps with Flair

    Finding Summer Camps with Flair By Jan Pierce Most of us remember summer camp. It was great: Rustic cabins, swimming in the lake, arts and crafts, songs around a campfire and capture the flag in the evenings. It still sounds good to me. But times have changed and lots of kids are more excited to plan a summer adventure around performance academies than attend a traditional summer camp. There are lots of options and while they are not inexpensive, they do offer wonderful opportunities for your kids. They can be week-long overnight experiences, or day camps only. SUMMER DAZE day camps, sleep away camps, arts camps, sports camps, fire fighting…