Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

Using Books to Expand Your Child's Global Horizons - Part I

This post is the first in a two-part series about helping your child to think globally.

We all know that reading aloud together is a proven method to increase your child’s knowledge base, vocabulary, and reading fluency.   It’s also a wonderful parent-child bonding time as your child comes to associate reading, learning, and love.  Through books, you can easily expand your child’s knowledge of other cultures and languages.

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Topics: Global Studies

At What Age Should My Child Get A Cell Phone?


Parents often ask me, “At what age should I let my child have a cell phone?” and “How much ‘technology time’ should I allow my child to have on a daily basis?”

These parents are sometimes surprised at how militant I am in my responses, but based on my years of experience as a child and family therapist, school counselor, and a parent myself, I can’t help but have some pretty strong opinions. Even when considering the research, I believe there is a compelling case for parents to restrict, supervise, and sometimes even forbid texting and other technologies for children. While that may seem impossible, I’ve compiled six tips for parents as they navigate raising kids in this digital age.

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Topics: Parenting

5 Tips to Help You Manage Both Your Job and Your Family

Balancing your personal and professional life can be challenging, to say the least. Whether you are a mom or dad, let’s face it, it’s tough. It is virtually impossible to divide your attention and focus and give 100% to both. Many parents find themselves overcome with feelings of guilt and constant stress. And while many companies advertise that they are “family friendly” and promote balance, in reality many companies do not support the pursuit of one’s own passions and personal goals.

Here are 5 tips to help you manage both your job and your family:

1. Let go of the Guilt

This is the single, most important thing that you can do for yourself. Think positively. Focus on how your career benefits your family. You are contributing to your family’s financial well being. Maybe you are earning enough to save for college, or to take a family vacation. Your career allows for a lot of things that may not be possible if you were a stay-at-home parent. The next time you are online, check out some local mom blogs. They are a great place to find support.

2. Create Special Family Time

Creating special family time can help alleviate some of the stress and guilt associated with having a career. If you and your children know that you have something to look forward to each week, it will make that time away from home more manageable. Providing the family with the opportunity to bond will also allow them to gain understanding of your personal goals. They will want to be more supportive and they will become your personal cheerleaders instead of what can seem like an angry army. Bonding time can be anything from a sit-down family dinner to a movie night. Does your job often take you into the evening hours? There is no rule that states you must have a family dinner, so make it a family breakfast. Get creative! It’s the quality time that counts.

Also, be sure to give your family your undivided attention during this time. Don’t check email or voicemail. Let them know that they are your #1 priority.

3. Don’t neglect your Partner

Hockey schedules, homework, dentist appointments and an emergency trip to the grocery store to bake several dozen cupcakes for a school event the next day make it very easy to neglect your partner. In fact, they are often the first to get neglected. It is extremely important that you make your partner a priority. Schedule regular date nights for just the two of you. Communicate with them throughout the day, and not just about car pools and Christmas musicals. Talk to your partner the same way you did before you had children so that you don’t lose touch of your relationship. Your partner should be a partner in the true sense of the word.

4. Don’t Neglect Yourself

You simply cannot take care of anyone else if you don’t care for yourself. You need time to recharge your batteries; read a book, schedule a massage, attend a sporting event or a community festival. All too often, working parents neglect themselves in an effort to balance

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Topics: Parenting

Experiential Learning - The Great Potato Experiment

Sewickley Academy, in its ongoing effort to provide educational experiences that engage the hearts, minds, and hands, established a “Secret Garden” (at 201 Hazel Lane and Ohio River Blvd.) which serves as an outdoor classroom and experiential learning center. Our large garden offers a dynamic, beautiful setting in which to integrate every discipline, including science, math, language arts, environmental studies, history, nutrition and health. Students K-12 and their teachers participate together in all phases of soil preparation, sowing, cultivating, harvesting, consuming, and composting-and in turn, gain a deeper understanding of natural systems, while becoming stewards of the earth.
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Topics: Education

Sneaky, Easy, Healthy Desserts to Take you Through the Holidays

My kids are culinary opposites: one eats chives from the garden, purple onions, and lots of meat! The other one likes easily-digested cake and white bread.

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Topics: Food

How to Maximize Your Time With Your Kids

With most parents working full-time jobs outside of the home, many parents find themselves struggling to squeeze in some quality time with their children. Nowadays, even your kids' schedule(s) can be hectic - from soccer practice, to piano lessons and so much more. All the hustle and bustle leaves the average family with only getting about an hour of downtime a day!
Don't feel guilty because you work outside of the home!
I have been on both sides of this issue, first with my full-time teaching job and now as a work-from-home mom. As my dear friend and child therapist, Leigh Ann Hrutkay said on my podcast, the goal is quality over quantity!

Good Morning America recently revealed some excellent ways to ensure that you are getting some quality time with your kids:

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Topics: Parenting

My Fight Against The “Anti-Technology” Moms

My son got a tablet whenever he turned 4, which is old news for many NYC families who basically hand them to their infants as they are coming out of the womb.

We also take said tablet  with us to places like on the train and (gasp!) out to dinner whenever we don’t want him to be loud in a restaurant. You know what? I’m totally alright with that! But, I know there are many “anti-technology moms” out there who would disagree with me.

I’m NOT an Anti-Technology Mom, and Here’s Why

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Topics: Parenting

15 Book Recommendations for High School Children

“No book is really worth reading at the age of 10 which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of 50 and beyond.”

~C.S. Lewis

With the holiday season quickly approaching, we know parents are on the lookout for great educational gifts for their children.

To aid in your search for the perfect gift, Sewickley Academy high school teachers have weighed in with their favorite book recommendations for high school age readers.

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Topics: Book Review, Parenting

Asking Hard Questions about White Privilege

On Thursday, December 4, the Sewickley Series presented a documentary film American Promise that traces the educational journey of two black boys, from Kindergarten through their matriculation to college.  In exploring the sometimes wrenching path these boys followed at an independent school in New York City, the filmmakers (whose eldest son is one of the two boys who are the subject of the film) open their home and their lives to the scrutiny of the outside world and by doing so raise a series of important questions, questions that are important not just for independent schools like Sewickley Academy but questions that are important for us as a nation.  In the aftermath of Ferguson, MO, the Eric Garner case in New York City, and the recent conclusions of a federal investigation into the wrongful death of a 12-year-old child at the hands of police in Cleveland, OH, there is an urgency to our thinking about race and how our various points of view inform the way we see and experience the world.

During the post-film question-and-answer session, an audience member commented that she had on occasion received communications from her sons’ school about boisterous and inappropriate behavior of the kind the boys in the film were also accused of engaging in.  The mom asked, “…wasn’t it possible that, instead of the determining factor being race, it could be that the report of behavior issues was really a function of gender?”  The filmmaker, Michele Stephenson, replied that the research is very clear:  black boys are much more likely to be singled out for behavioral issues than other children and, in fact, that black boys are far more likely to be suspended from Kindergarten than other children.  These comments were affirmed by another panelist, Dr. Todd Allen, professor of communication studies and visual arts at Grove City College, who also serves on his local public school district board.

The parent in the audience, who was white, continued to press her point, to which Stephenson answered, “[sic] you have the privilege of being white, of not having to wonder whether your children are being singled out for their race.”

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Topics: Sewickley Series

17 Book Recommendations for Middle School Children

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

~Groucho Marx 

As you roam the stores searching for gifts for the "tweens" and teens in your life, this list of book recommendations (compiled by Sewickley Academy middle school teachers) may be helpful!

  1. Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Michael Cesario - Grade 8 History)

  2. The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues, Book 1) by Rick Riordan (Wendy Berns - Admission Associate)

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Topics: Book Review, Parenting

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