Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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August 21, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and Signature Pediatrics: Preparing for the first day of Kindergarten

By Smarty Guest Blogger Holly G. Smith, MD FAAP, Signature Pediatrics

Ready or not – here it comes, the first day of school! No need to worry about what your kindergartener knows or doesn’t know. Kindergarten is the great equalizer for bringing children with different backgrounds up to speed and ready for first grade. But let’s talk about getting your child ready for the first few days of kindergarten.Kindergarten ready

Some simple preparation can help smooth the transition to school. First of all, discuss kindergarten with your child. Talk positively about what will happen at school, the fun things she will do, and about meeting new friends. If you can, explain briefly what the daily schedule will be like. Don’t overdo it – if your child seems uninterested or anxious when talking about school back off a bit and do not force the conversation. The goal is for kindergarten to sound like something to look forward to rather than fear. If possible, visit the school and meet the teacher prior to the start of school so your child will be a little bit familiar with the surroundings on the first day.

Self-reliance for daily tasks is important. For instance, a child should be able to manage his or her own clothing when using the bathroom. If you are packing lunch, make sure your child can open food containers and packages. Prepare your child for transportation to and from school. Let them know who will be picking them up or meeting them at the bus.
One of the biggest concerns for parents is handling drop-off. In general, it is best to make drop-off a brief, positive, reassuring experience. A quick hug and a light “see you later” often works best. Children may cry, and prolonging drop-off by staying with your child often only makes this worse. Do follow the teacher’s lead however, and be prepared to stay for a few minutes if the teacher feels this will be helpful. Some children like to have a token from home to help them feel secure, such as a familiar small toy, sticker or other item. We used a small glass heart that my daughter could keep in her pocket and hold if she needed reassurance. Read More →

August 20, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

By our Smarty friends at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A.

It’s August now and school is around the corner. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and now is the perfect time to review all the things you can do to help keep your children’s eyes safe and healthy.

A brief guide to pediatric eye exams

During a pediatric eye exam, an ophthalmic technician will ask you and your child questions about their vision, their medical background, and, if applicable, if they are wearing their glasses regularly. The technician will then perform vision, depth perception, and color vision tests. They will then use a small light to make sure you child’s pupils react normally, and then they’ll check your child’s eye pressure. Additional testing may be necessary if your child has strabismus – misaligned or “crossed” eyes – in order to measure the misalignment.Eye exam girl

After these tests, the technician will put eye drops in your child’s eyes to dilate them. These give the doctor the best opportunity to examine the interior parts of your child’s eye and determine the focusing power of their eyes.

Pediatric ophthalmologists are medical doctors that have completed an ophthalmology residency and a pediatric ophthalmology fellowship. They treat all eye conditions found in children including, but not limited to, blocked tear ducts, strabismus, cataracts, glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity, and uveitis. Read More →

August 17, 2017

Etiquette for Visiting a New Mother

By Smarty Guest Blogger, Laura N Sinai MD MSCE FAAP, Signature Pediatrics

I hear congratulations are in order! Your friend, sister, co-worker, or even an acquaintance just had a baby. Beautiful pictures are already making the rounds on Facebook, Instagram, and maybe even in an old-fashioned paper announcement. The whole family is smiling and fresh faced in those professional images. They look well rested and happy.

No matter how great those photos look, I can promise you the family is experiencing stress and significant sleep deprivation. It may be a fine time to visit, but here are some rules to make the visit a positive one for everybody, especially for the new mom.

1) First, do not visit a newborn if you are sick.Newborn 2016

2) Wash your hands when you arrive. Please.

3) Leave your children home. As wonderful as your children are, new moms do not benefit from added toddler whining, teenage attitude, or more infants crying. There is plenty of time for playdates in the future. Make this visit about her.

4) Don’t ask to hold the baby. Especially if he/she is sleeping. Many moms feel very protective and uncomfortable with others holding her newborn. Wait for her to offer. Read More →

August 15, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: Safely see the solar eclipse

CSP Note: This article was originally posted on CEENTA’s blog. A big thank you to CEENTA for letting us share with our Smarty readers! Happy eclipse day on August 21!

A total solar eclipse is a rare and exciting event, and on August 21, 2017, this part of the country will be lucky enough to experience one. However, even the smallest view of the sun’s rays can cause irreversible damage to your eyes. So before you go out to watch it, make sure you follow a few important steps to keep your eyes safe and healthy.

What happens to the sun?

A solar eclipse is when the moon comes between the sun and the Earth, creating a shadow and blocking light from the sun. A solar eclipse happens every 18 months. A total solar eclipse – when the center of the moon’s shadow hits the Earth when the sun, moon, and Earth are directly in line – is much rarer. Read More →

August 9, 2017

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: your most valuable school supply

Back to school image
By our friends at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Is someone in your home heading back to school? Don’t forget the most valuable back-to-school tool – Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

First, let’s talk library cards.

Library cards are FREE for all students attending any school in Mecklenburg County, and they offer so much value! If you don’t have one, apply right now to access resources to help with school and so much more.

If you have a child in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, your child also has a ONE Access account – so one number (a CMS student ID number) is all your child needs! Find out more about how ONE Access is providing CMS students with the resources they need to succeed!

A library card unlocks a world of possibilities.

Get help with homework, when you need it. Math homework stressing you out? With your library card, you get free access to professional tutors that can help with homework, studying, projects, essay writing and test prep in every subject, including algebra, statistics, chemistry, physics, social studies and English. All sessions are online and one-to-one with a live tutor, and Spanish-speaking tutors are also available. Learn more about the Library’s tutoring resource,

Access tons of resources, wherever you are. Below are some of the most commonly used by students. Find many more here.

Elementary School
Lands and People: information on countries, cultures and current events
– PowerKnowledge: Earth & Space Science, Life Science and Physical Science
ProQuest Central: General reference database for more than 175 subjects

Middle School
US Newstream: content from national and international newspapers
Science in Context: reference content plus magazines, journals and more
SIRS Knowledge Source: articles, primary sources, websites and graphics
Teen Health & Wellness: written for middle and high school students
World Book Online: interactive online encyclopedia

High School and beyond
Learning Express Library: interactive practice tests and skill-building courses
Literature Resource Center: author bios, bibliographies and critical analyses
NoveList Plus: thousands of reading recommendations

Get a little help with learning a new language. Pronunciator covers 80 languages offering a range of language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. It’s easy for any age, from toddlers to adults. And you can access it from your computer or mobile device. Find out how to learn a new language with the Library.

Access resources in the classroom. Are you a teacher in Mecklenburg County? Did you know the Library offers Teacher Loan Cards by request? These card enable educators to borrow items for extended periods for classroom use. Find out how to apply at

And, if you are a teacher or staff member in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, you have access to a ONE Access account to help you stock your classroom with even more educational resources.

Build your at-home library. All Charlotte Mecklenburg Library locations have ongoing book sales in which gently-used books are sold at bargain prices to make room for newer materials. This is a great opportunity for teachers to find titles to add to classroom libraries, or families to stock their bookshelves at home. Visit your nearest branch and ask about the ongoing book sale.

And don’t forget to log your reading and activities for Summer Break!

Summer is flying by, but there is still plenty of time left to read, learn and explore with Summer Break. Prizes are drawn weekly, so be sure to log your reading and activities!

August 1, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and Levine Children’s Hospital: Meet Ella Kate – full of laughter after rare heart transplant.

Consistently named a Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report, Levine Children’s Hospital pays tribute to the incredible patients who helped us earn that title. Meet Ella Kate.View More:

Rare Heart Transplant Surgery Gives Newborn a Second Chance at Life

As a parent, your child’s laughter can make all of your worries vanish in an instant.

So when 8-month-old Ella Kate broke out into tender giggles just days after a rare heart transplant surgery, it was a welcomed sign of hope for her family and all the doctors and nurses who helped save her life.

Rough Start, Happy Ending

When Ella Kate was born, she didn’t breathe for eight minutes and was quickly airlifted to Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Children’s Hospital.

Hours later, her parents learned their newborn daughter might not survive because of tumors found throughout her tiny, walnut-sized heart. Read More →

July 27, 2017

Get a jump start on what your kids are doing this fall, so you can relax for the rest of summer. The YMCA’s got you covered.


So, it’s that time of summer when us parents start to stress out about fall. Even if we’re sitting at the pool enjoying our weekend and feeling the warm sun on our faces, nagging questions are starting to creep in and plague us, like, “What are my kids going to be doing after school?” And, “Should I try to line up a tutor for math soon?”

Well, the YMCA wants you to enjoy the rest of your summer worry free by signing up now for their Fall Sports and Afterschool programs. The Y really is more than a gym. It’s committed to offering programs like these that help develop and nurture the whole child, from the inside out.

Kick confidence into over drive with Fall Sports

Kids who play sports discover so much more than their athletic abilities. Sure, they get stronger and learn skills that make them a better player. But they also discover the delight of being a part of a team, what working together accomplishes and what it feels like to gain confidence with each new practice.2014-06-24_AOF_8804_RGB

Soccer is huge at the Y every fall for kids ages 5 to 18. Trained volunteer coaches introduce young players to the fundamentals of the game like passing, possession and defending through drills and exercises. And there is competitive league play for more experienced athletes. Read More →

July 26, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner & Drs. Hull & Coleman: Your First Orthodontist Visit

By our Smarty friends at Hull & Coleman Orthodontics

Hull Coleman Braces 2

One of the most common questions we get asked by moms is “When should I bring my child in to see you for the first time?” It’s a great question, and there are unfortunately a lot of misconceptions about this issue. The American Association of Orthodontists, our specialty’s national organization, recommends that all children have an evaluation by an orthodontist no later than age 7.

This response is usually met by a confused/mortified look on mom’s face, as she’s thinking, “No way. That’s WAY too early.” But it’s really not, because as orthodontists we can gain a ton of information about a child’s orthodontic condition simply by taking some pictures of the teeth, taking a simple x-ray, and doing a brief exam. When we examine younger children, we’re really just looking for normal, age-appropriate development of the teeth and jaws. We want to make sure that your child has the correct number of adult and baby teeth for his or her age, as well as detect any problems that might be present so that, if needed, the appropriate treatment could be recommended.

Many parents think that they’re supposed to wait until all of their child’s baby teeth have fallen out before visiting the orthodontist. That’s a common misconception, but it’s actually much better to have your child evaluated before all the baby teeth are lost. In some cases, having an evaluation before all of the baby teeth are lost can be a critical part of planning and can often help avoid more complicated treatments down the road. Read More →

July 25, 2017

From the Smarty Education Corner and Palisades Episcopal School: Social Media Options for Kids

by Melissa Puno, Middle School Director, Palisades Episcopal School

Online communication, especially via social media, is becoming an increasingly necessary skill for children to acquire. But, exposing our children to social media can be a daunting thought for most parents, especially when many of the most commonly-used social media platforms provide little to no filtering of adult content, offer only minimal identity protection, and are rarely monitored. However, as much as it is a parent’s job to protect their children from the dangers of social media, we also have a responsibility to help our children learn to engage with peers online in appropriate and healthy ways.

Photo source:

Photo source:

Thankfully, there is hope in the growing number of safer, regulated social media options available for kids, as well as in the availability of websites such as that enable parents to read critical reviews on apps and websites prior to their children’s use. thoroughly reviews apps and websites for kids in order to identify the strengths and pitfalls parents should consider.

Below is a list of several safer apps and websites for kids organized by age and interest.

Kindergarten Through Early School Age

Of the many options available for younger children, most websites offer opportunities to explore digital “communities” largely centered around games and toys. In many cases, these websites are designed to stoke a child’s interest in the toy or game for marketing purposes. Because young children have not yet acquired the communication and interpersonal skills for chatting and “friending,” the focus of these websites is on communal game-playing and earning points to buy virtual accessories, rather than socializing. There’s some messaging between friends, but most sites allow young kids to post messages using only prewritten, generic phrases or words from a tightly restricted dictionary. Kids can’t share personal information like a home address. Some of the most popular include: Read More →

July 24, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: Keep your family’s eyes UV-safe

By our Smarty friends at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A.

With summer well underway, many people are going to be spending time outside. Our children are going to be playing at the pool or in the yard with their friends, and our parents might be spending their time gardening or playing with their grandchildren. But every time we go outside into the sun, our eyes are exposed to ultraviolet rays. July is UV Safety Month, and is the perfect time to learn why you should encourage your family to protect their eyes from the sun’s rays.GrandmotherGrandchildrenSunglassesBeachWeb

It is estimated that up to 80 percent of UV damage done to our eyes in our lifetime occurs by the time we’re 18. The damage done by UV rays accumulates over the years, leading to an increased risk of permanent eye damage or disease. UV light is absorbed by the lens of the eye and over time can cause damage that may contribute to the progression of cataract development, macular degeneration, and abnormal growths on the surface of the eye.

However, not enough children wear sunglasses. While 1 in 3 children above the age of 14 wear sunglasses regularly, less than 1 in 8 below the age of 10 do. Read More →

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