Summer is almost here! Wondering what to do this summer? Here are some ideas!

First and foremost, sign up for Multnomah County Library’s Summer Reading program! Babies, kids and teens can play the Summer Reading game and win prizes! In addition, the library will have lots of fun interactive virtual performances, storytelling, and arts and crafts for kids and families. It all kicks off June 16. And don’t worry, we have it for adults too

Portland Parks and Recreation has a number of opportunities they are offering this summer:

  • Summer Free for All - Free Lunch + Play - Free lunch in the park, along with crafts, games, and activities.
  • Nature Day Camps - for ages 5–12, Nature Day Camps create ways for children to connect to nature through outdoor play and exploration. Camps take place every June, July, and August in various locations around the city. Nature-based camps offer ways for children to nurture their relationship to nature, peers, and trusted adults.
  • Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation - classes and events for those with disabilities, plus PP&R provides disability accommodations in any class or camp (aides, sign language interpreters, adaptive equipment, etc.).
  • Employment - for teens and adults, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is planning to hire over 1,800 summer staff!
  • No Ivy League - Wednesday and Saturday volunteer opportunities pulling ivy, planting natives, and learning about yourself. For all ages.
  • Teen Force: Outdoor, drop-in programs designed for young adults will be provided in coordination with Free Lunch + Play events.
  • Other volunteer opportunities - for teens and adults. 

Summer camps for kids with disabilities:

  • The Autism Society of Oregon - a directory of resources that includes summer camps - sleepaway camp, day camps, and summer classes.
  • Blue Compass Camps - Adventurous camps for “high functioning autism, Asperger’s and ADHD” multiple programs in Oregon and Washington for ages 10-22.
  • Camp Yakety Yak - four week long camps July 12 to August 6 - Day camp focused on social-emotional education - 25% neurotypical children and 75% children with neurodevelopmental or physical disabilities.  Ages 5-11 camp program and a junior counselor program for ages 12-15.  
  • Hoop Camp - dates TBD -  Basketball skills day camp for people with disabilities.
  • Mount Hood Kiwanis Camp - multiple programs and dates all summer for campers with disabilities ages 12 and up.
  • Portland Parks & Recreation Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation - classes and events for those with disabilities.
  • Spectra Gymnastics - half-day camps this summer in their gym for children ages 4-7 and 6-12
  • UP Camp at Evans Creek Retreat - dates TBD - Christian recreational and educational camp experiences for people with special needs 9+.
  • Upward Bound - dates TBD -  Christian recreational and educational sleepaway camp for people with disabilities age 12+.

Other camps offered in the Multnomah area:

  • Girls Build - summer camps for ages 8-11 and 11-15 with generous scholarship possibilities.
  • Girls Count - offering camps for girls 11-14 focused on empowerment, STEAM, and community involvement.
  • PDX Education Collaborative - offering weekly, pod-based programming at a relatively low cost.  
  • PDX Parent Summer Camp listing - A list of camps offered in and around Portland, many are pricey.
  • Rose City Rollers Juniors summer camps - These camps are open to youth skaters, all genders and skill levels welcome. Rental skates and protective gear are included with registration. Limited scholarships are available.
  • Steve and Kate’s Camp - Pricey, but an amazing array of maker activities and tons of kid-led choice.
  • YMCA Camp Collins - classic summer camp experience at Oxbow Regional Park, ages 2-12.

And if you are concerned about overnight camps, the Oregonian published an article stating that Oregon will allow youth overnight camps to resume this summer.

Please email us if you know of other camps we should be listing. We’ll update as we learn more! 

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

It feels so good to get outside when the weather is nice!

Child using a watering can to water garden.

Children thrive in the natural setting. But exposure to nature is good for all ages! It not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. Gardening is a great way to get into nature. And if you don’t have a garden space, you can try square foot or container gardening. Or find a community garden nearby. 

It is said that there are seven wonders of the natural world, but for little ones there are seven million wonders in the world right outside their door! Everything is fresh and new. The young child’s work is to play and to make constant discoveries about their environment. 

Gardening is a perfect way for the smallest child to explore and honor the earth. Of course, children learn by using their whole body — and all their senses. Children are naturally curious little scientists and love to experience the sights, scents, sounds and textures of the outdoors. As your little explorer follows you into the garden, you can talk to them about what they are seeing.

Give them the names of familiar plants. Describe the squelch of mud between their toes. Notice the texture of the leaves and how they dance in the breeze. Point out the variety of seeds in the fruits and vegetables you share. Gradually, you can introduce the planting of seeds.

And for older kids and teens, the benefits of gardening are just as valuable. 

Here are some ideas.

Gardening Activities for Toddlers

Fun Garden Activities for Little Ones

  • Make a special fairy garden or dinosaur garden! Decorate with stones and flowers and twigs. 
  • Water plants. Or toes!
  • Paint stones. Toddlers are happy with a bucket of water and a paintbrush!
  • Make mud pies. It’s okay to get your hands dirty! Learning involves all the senses.

And below you will find a booklist with even more stories, projects and ideas. Happy gardening!

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

MHCC Head Start and Early Head Start have over 900 openings for the 21/22 School Year!

They provide FREE services to pregnant women and families of children ages birth to 5 who reside in East Multnomah County, outside of Portland Public Schools.

MHCC Head Start Logo

Programs include:

Home Based Program:

  • For pregnant parents and children 0-5 years old
  • Provides weekly home visits with a childcare provider
  • Focuses on connecting with little ones and parenting skills

Preschool classes:

  • For Children 2-5 years old
  • Ranges from 3.5 – 7 hours per day, 2-5 days a week
  • Learn-by-playing approach builds social and emotional development

Full-Day Childcare*:

  • For children 6 months - 5 years old
  • Ranges from 8.5 -10 hours per day
  • Offers year-round coverage

Here are flyers in English, Spanish, ArabicSomali and Russian


Families who are eligible:

  • Receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income, or
  • Are homeless, or
  • Have an income below the federal poverty guideline, or
  • Have a child in foster care

*Additional Eligibility Requirements for Full-Day Childcare:

  • Family must be working and receiving childcare subsidy, or
  • Be an MHCC Student taking 9 credits or more

Ready To Apply? Call the main office at: 503-491-6111 or click here.

As a parent of three children with dyslexia, I have faced many of the challenges common to caregivers of a youth with dyslexia. 

One of the biggest challenges I faced was navigating school special education to provide access to a free education appropriate to my students’ learning style. All students have a right to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) through Federal Law.  My kids were not learning how to read in the classroom, and the school didn’t seem to be doing anything. Oregon legislation has changed since my kids first started school, and schools are required to do more to address dyslexia. But is it enough? You may have to advocate for the youth in your life. 

Things to consider...

Mental health:

  • Research has shown that individuals with learning disabilities: 
    • may experience increased levels of anxiety.  
    • may be at greater risk for depression.  
    • experience higher levels of loneliness. 
    • may have a lower self-concept (self-esteem).  
    • are at greater risk for substance abuse. 
    • may be at greater risk for juvenile delinquency.
  • 20 percent of children with dyslexia also suffer from depression and another 20 percent suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Incarceration Rates: 

  • Percent of adults in custody with dyslexia: 48% 
  • Percent of adolescents with learning disabilities that will be arrested three to five years out of high school: 31%

These facts are alarming. But there is good news … intervention helps! When modern, research based instruction is put into place in grades K-2, the reading disability rate drops.

Knowing where to go or who to talk to get an assessment for dyslexia can be difficult. Many states have passed legislation to identify dyslexia in children early on.  If you aren’t in school or you feel that your school is missing something, check out our Uncovering Dyslexia blog post, which points to places in Multnomah County who will privately assess for dyslexia. 

Resources for families affected by dyslexia: 

Looking for books to share with your family? Here are some fiction books for kids and teens featuring characters with dyslexia, and here are some nonfiction books on dyslexia written for kids. For more information on dyslexia, including some book recommendations for caregivers, please see our previous post on Uncovering Dyslexia.

- Desiree, Rockwood Branch Library Makerspace Program Specialist
 

Boy in wheelchair talking to a woman in the kitchen

Change is always present in our lives, but this past year has been a little extra. And by a little extra, I mean A LOT EXTRA! All this change can be hard on our kids and on ourselves. And if you or your child is neurodiverse or has a history of trauma, that adds another layer that makes dealing with change even harder. So we have put together some information on how to talk with your kids about change, help you support them now and in the future with the change that is inevitable, and hopefully help yourself as well. 

Some things to talk to your kids about:

Talk about the change. Tell them what to expect, both good and bad, and what the change will mean for all of you. Answer as many of your kid’s questions as you can, and if you can’t, be honest with them about that. Tell them you’ll figure it out together!

And talk about it early, as soon as you know there might be a change coming. Time is your friend when processing a big change. Using visuals as you talk can be really helpful, even for children that are verbal. For children who are reading, this can be a list or chart. For big, complicated changes, have lots of conversations over time.

You can also bring up examples of changes that have happened in the past. Talk about what was good and not so good about it? What did your child learn from the experience? How did they get through it, and what coping skills did they learn? Let them know that every time they experience a change, they’ll become stronger and more prepared for the next one! 

Involve your child in decisions about the change. Children typically have no control over the major changes in their lives. By involving and including them in decisions, you help them feel more in control. This can happen in big and small ways, at any age. So give them choices and also ask for their help. Children like to contribute and feel valuable, responsible, and helpful.

Acknowledge your child’s worries and fears. While you’ll want to focus on any positives associated with the change, it’s important to allow your child to feel angry, sad, or scared. These feelings are normal and your child needs to be allowed to express them. 

If your child struggles to name what they are feeling, help them label the emotion (ie, anxious, sad, nervous, worried, scared, etc). Putting a name to a feeling makes it less overwhelming and easier to manage. And coaching children through their feelings is a vital learning experience. Talk about and practice emotional regulation strategies when a child is calm, so that the child can use one of those strategies when their emotions start to escalate. Remember that behavior is communication, and difficult behavior could be a way of saying "I'm having a hard time with change."  

Also be sure to let your child know that you take their concerns seriously. Like us adults, children simply want empathy, understanding and to be heard. 

Encourage your child to write (or draw!) about their feelings around change. Always be there for them to talk to, but sometimes kids need to process on their own. Giving them a journal to write or draw in, is a great way to give them that space.

Show your child the positive ways that you handle change. This can be harder than it sounds. I know I don’t usually react positively to change. But try and talk about how you feel during times of change and about what you do to cope. For example, I show my child the lists I make to help me stay organized and focused and feel more in control.

Keep the connection going. Make sure your child knows that no matter what else changes, you are there for them. If you can, set aside time each day to give your child your undivided attention - even 10 minutes is great. You can talk, play, share an activity. If your child is older, you can watch the same movie or play a video game. A little extra attention doing something you both enjoy reassures your child, making it much easier to cope with life’s changes. And I promise, it will help you as well. 

Beyond talking with your kids, here are some other tips for helping them (and you!) through change:

  • Keep family routines the same, if you can
  • Try to keep other changes in your lives to a minimum
  • Talk with your child’s teacher or child care provider to keep them in the loop and get support
  • Make sure your child eats well, gets plenty of exercise, and gets enough sleep (again, this can be easier said than done, but we can try)
  • If you can, give your family time to prepare for the change. And remember that kids who have had more trouble with change in the past, may need extra time and support in the future.
  • And of course, read books about big life changes (see below for help with that!)

We pulled these tips together from a variety of sources, including these articles:

And we also recommend checking out Purdue University’s page on Families Tackling Tough Times Together.

This post is part of our “Talking with kids” series, as featured in our monthly Family Newsletter.  Reach out to us at learning@multcolib.org if you have questions. We’re here for you!
 

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