January 2021

A publication of the Howard County Office of Children and Families
Family Institute
Family Institute Online Workshops, New this month!
Visit the Family Institute's page for all offerings.
A Parent’s Guide to Challenging Behaviors
Free Online Workshops
Wed., January 13
12:00 to 1:00 p.m., Register here
Tues., January 19,
7:00 to 8:30 p.m., Register here

Don't allow tantrums, power struggles or misbehavior make daily life difficult in your household. Learn how you can help decrease the incidence of negative behaviors and what to do when they occur. Ask questions and learn skills and resources that you can use immediately to help you feel more confident in your parenting. For parents of children ages two to eight.
Selecting High Quality
Child Care
Free Online Workshops
Tues., January 26,
12:00 to 12:30 p.m., Register here
7:00 to 7:30 p.m., Register here

Selecting child care can be an overwhelming process. Every parent wants to find quality care that meets their needs; provides an affordable, healthy & safe environment with a convenient location and hours; and offers a program their child is happy to attend. Learn how to choose a child care program that works for your family.
The Basics Howard County lays the foundation for early learning for infants and toddlers.  As little ones grow and develop, they learn through movement and play. Allow space so babies can explore their surroundings, making sure the environment is safe. Your infant will begin reaching for objects, rolling and crawling around. They also learn through repetition, so join in their play when they drop a toy over and over again. Toddlers love exploring and are very creative. The next time you’re outside, watch what draws your child’s interest. Examine what piques their interest and talk about it. Also provide your child with a cardboard box and watch their imagination fly. For more tips and information, visit our highlighted video, Explore Through Movement and Play, (Spanish Video) 
To receive more information specifically for your child's developmental stage up to the age of three, sign up for free Basics Insights text messaging here. (Available in English and Spanish) To learn more about The Basics Howard County, visit here or email children@howardcountymd.gov.
New Routines and Visual Schedules
The new year is a great time to establish new routines and habits. Routines help lessen challenging behaviors and make your day go more smoothly. To establish consistent and predictable routines, implementing a visual schedule in your home can help. Young children can process a visual more quickly than verbal prompts. Review the visual schedule and engage the child in identifying where they are in the day and which task is next. To make your own visual schedule, use free visual cards to print and arrange in the order you choose.  
Monthly Challenge: Create and start using your own visual schedule in the new year.  
Parenting Disagreements During COVID - Strategies to Reduce Conflict About Staying Safe
Parents often find it difficult to agree on family rules, even more so during COVID. Close quarters, constant changes, more indoor time from cold weather, and lack of clear guidance has left parents trying to figure out how to handle family rules. Child Mind Institute has developed strategies to help parents reduce conflict about staying safe. Parents have skills to manage their family but can benefit from reminders on how to use them. Strategies can be found here. (Spanish, click)
Behavior Talks - Resources to Support Student Success 
Behavior Talks is a series of brief trainings for parents/caregivers created by Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) staff. Each video shares useful tips to promote student success related to behavior, social/emotional needs, organization/self-management at home, and more. Current videos include: 
  • Being a Flexible Thinker 
  • Breaking Down a Task 
  • Giving Feedback and Praise 
  • Making a Schedule & Setting Expectations 
More will be added as they become available; visit HCPSS to view videos.
Saturday Math Academy, Spring 2021
Online Registration Sat., January 9, 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
$80: Class space is limited, registration link here

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Black Student Achievement Program’s Saturday Math Academy was created with the priority to help students learn instructional mathematical strategies that would support them at home and accelerate academic achievement. This year, the Saturday Math Academy will offer a virtual enrichment program for HCPSS students in all levels of math for grades 3-12 from January 30 to March 13. For more information, view the
Behavioral Health Resources 

The Directory of Behavioral Health Services for Youth provides resources to help children who may be experiencing anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, emotional outbursts, withdrawal or other concerning behaviors. Created by the Howard County Health Department, it provides a listing of community programs and services to meet families’ needs. Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Outpatient Treatment and Crisis Services are just a few of the resources available. For more information, click here. 
Children Losing Skills or Hating School Because of COVID?

During this time of COVID, many parents worry about how their children are affected by the pandemic. They are concerned about the impact of distance learning, if they are doing enough to help their child and what if they lose skills
or hate school because of COVID. Children may not only lose academically, but socially
as well. 
Strategies to help children include building on child’s strengths, encouraging them to be creative and discover new ways to express themselves and their interests. Regular video calls with family and friends or participating in family activities will help build social skills. Read more from Understood, a parenting resource for addressing concerns and providing strategies for parents to use at home. 
Books to Help Families and Educators Talk About Feelings With Children During COVID

The pandemic has affected children emotionally and socially and some even regress during this time. There are books out there to help you talk to your children. One book available and free online is A Kid's Guide to Coronavirus.
Another is the Lucy’s Book Series which helps parents and educators find the words and images to talk about changes and anxiety caused by COVID-19. (The first two are available in Spanish and French.) To learn more about helping children and where to find books and resources, read the full article from Maryland Families Engage here. 
Living with Grief
Understanding and Supporting Grieving Children
Thurs., January 21, 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. /FREE, Register here
The distress sparked by the pandemic and racial reckoning in the US has required children to face many kinds of loss. Parents are called on to better understand how grief and loss shapes their family's lives. Sponsored by Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) with Dr. Ajita Robinson, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Trauma and Grief Expert.
Baby LEADers Training Program 
The Parents’ Place of Maryland announces a Baby LEADers Training Program. The training program is for parents, guardians or caregivers of children ages zero to five years with a suspected developmental delay or disability. The five sessions will focus on: 
  • Individual family service plan (IFSP) 
  • Transition from early intervention services to special education 
  • Individual education plan (IEP) 
  • Developmental milestones 
  • Leadership and Advocacy 
To apply for the Baby LEADers Training Program Apply by January 7. For more information contact Mai Hall mai@ppmd.org  
Toilet Training Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Pt. 2
Virtual Event, register here

Toilet training an individual diagnosed with autism may be challenging and often occurs at a later stage in life. This can be especially difficult when teaching bowel movement, wiping, and nighttime toileting skills. This training will focus on those skills to be targeted once your child has learned to remain dry during the day. Sponsored by Pathfinders for Autism
Parenting Strategies for Managing the Emotional Intensity of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
January 19, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Virtual Event, email registration: linda.s.ellis@outlook.com

Emotional dysregulation is a challenge associated with ADHD and those with ADHD also tend to exhibit more anxiety and depressive symptoms. Parents who feel overwhelmed by related emotional and behavioral challenges, may over-function or engage in power struggles and other ineffective attempts to gain control. Develop a brain-based understanding of emotion and behavior regulation, which fosters empathy and learn more effective parenting strategies to enhance lagging executive skills. Sponsored by the Howard County Branch of CHADD.
How to Relieve Pandemic Stress with Mindfulness:
Interventions for Adults with ADHD
Wed., January 6, 1:00 p.m., Free, register here

For adults with ADHD, who already report elevated levels of emotional distress and negative patterns of thinking, living through this pandemic has added an additional layer of stress that may feel unbearable. Learn mindfulness meditation strategies to tame the anxiety and help be the best you at home for your family.
The CARE Line, for Child and Adolescent Resources and Education, is a free information and referral service to help Howard County families identify needs and link them to agencies, programs and organizations. The CARE Line is available to parents, grandparents, caregivers and other community members who may have questions about finding child care, child care assistance, behavior issues, grandparents’ support, mental health concerns, financial assistance,
adolescent concerns, special needs, and other county resources. If you have questions or need services, contact the
CARE Line 410-313-2273 or email: children@howardcountymd.gov
Howard County Library System
The library provides numerous educational classes that are available online. If there is a class you’re interested in but unable to attend, there is an option to access class recordings. One such class, “Kindergarten, Here We Come," has been recorded for children who will be turning five by September. Click here to view the class. To find additional offerings including history, adult classes/events, student tech resources and many more, visit here
Libby Mobile App 
The Howard County Library System features the Libby mobile app which allows you to borrow, download and read a book on an android or iOS. This app provides access to the library’s digital collection and it makes borrowing a book easy and remote. Watch this video to learn how.
Online Support Groups for Families and Caregivers 
Maryland Coalition of Families provides support, connection and empowerment for families experiencing mental health, substance use and gambling issues. Online support groups provide a safe place for families to come together to learn and share information, connect with resources and find compassionate help. Current groups available include : 
  • Parenting a child with behavior health challenges 
  • Youth adults struggling with behavior challenges 
  • Anyone who cares for a person struggling with substance use or gambling 
Additional support groups are also available. All groups are FREE. For more information, click to find a support group. 
Howard County Behavioral Health Summit
The 2nd Curve: Staying Connected During the Pandemic recording here.
Dealing with Unrest: Understanding Yourself and Others January 13
Space is limited. Priority will be given in order to those who reserve a space. Register here
Remake Family Pizza Night 

Enjoy a fun, simple meal and get the kids to eat their vegetables. Have them prepare and make an herb garden pizza. For the
recipe from the Produce For Better Health Foundation, click here.  
Maryland 529 College Savings Plans
Is starting a 529 plan one of your New Year’s resolutions?
Maryland 529 offers two easy ways to save for your child’s future education – the Maryland Prepaid College Trust (MPCT), and the Maryland College Investment Plan (MCIP)*. Both plans are flexible and affordable, and can be used at nearly any public or private college nationwide. The MCIP can also be used toward strade and technical schools, or certified apprenticeship programs. Parents can deduct up to $2,500 per year, per MPCT Account, and/or per MCIP Beneficiary from their Maryland taxable income. In addition, parents could be eligible for a $250 or $500 contribution from the State of Maryland through the Save4College State Contribution Program when investing in the MCIP. To learn more, register for Intro to College Savings Webinar on Thurs. Jan. 21.
*The Maryland Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer Prepaid College Trust and Maryland Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer College Investment Plan disclosure statements provide investment objectives, risks, expenses and costs, fees, and other information you should consider carefully before investing. If you live outside of Maryland, you should consider any college savings program offered by your home state or your Beneficiary’s home state, which may offer state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc., Distributor/Underwriter, Maryland Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer College Investment Plan.
Winter Activities 
For parents looking for activities to help their children keep busy during winter months, PBS Kids offers books, games and activities to share and spark your child’s interest in science. For instance, check the weather forecast together and talk about the temperature. Ask your child: "What would happen if you took a piece of ice from your freezer and set it outside your door. Would it melt or stay frozen?" At bath time try to investigate whether different objects will float or sink. Your child can count the objects that float and those that don’t. View All Activities here.
Help Children Overcome Challenges
Just as parents do, children experience stress and anxiety. Oftentimes we find ourselves in the “freeze” mode, “fight, flight or freeze.” Experiencing stress can trigger these responses in our brains. Children may have big feelings around stress. When children feel safe and cared for their brains feel calm. Sesame Street in Communities provides strategies and resources to help children overcome these challenges. Parents can help: 
  • Tell your child they are safe and repeat this often  
  • Show them, use direct eye contact, listen and offer a hand to hold 
  • Be consistent and follow a routine 
For additional resources: 
  • I Can Feel Safe-build a cozy & safe spot for children to go to when feeling worried. Watch the video. 
  • Creating Feelings of Safety and Calm-Focused movement such as yoga helps children feel in control. Download the printable
  • A Little Help From My Furry Friends-Interactive game to help children cope. Launch the interactive game
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 

If you’ve noticed a change in your child’s mood and behavior as the season changes, you might have wondered if Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the cause. Learn what SAD is, how it can affect kids and how parents can help. Click here.
Reading allows children to take a few steps in someone else’s shoes, showing them the range of possibilities for their place in the world. To learn how to use books as a powerful tool to help discuss racial identity, bias and racism from Healthy Children, click here.
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