Montclair Schools Host Talk About Drugs and Alcohol For Parents of Middle and High School Students

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

The Montclair Health and Wellness Partnership, along with Sister to Sister, and the Montclair School District will once again be putting on a panel on Drugs and Alcohol for parents of Middle and High School students, to be held at Montclair High on May 2nd at 7PM. Continue Reading

Girl’s Empowerment and Girl Power At Dirt & Noise – Saturday, April 8

BY  |  Thursday, Apr 06, 2017 12:05pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Dirt & Noise, a Montclair children’s boutique located on Church Street, is hosting a fun event for girls age 5 to 12 to promote Girl’s Empowerment and Girl Power on Saturday, April 8,from 2-4 p.m.

The event caps off an exciting weeklong roster of events for Women’s Empowerment organized by Montclair Center Bid.

Montclair entrepreneur Rachel Crampsey from Montclair Bread Company will talk about creativity and setting out to do whatever you want to do in this life. She will also be bringing DIY doughnuts for all the kids that attend (while supplies last). Continue Reading

YES! A Workshop About How To Talk to Teens & Tweens About Sex

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 10:10am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Isy Abraham-Raveson, a Montclair native and graduate of Montclair High School, wants to give back to Montclair. That’s why she is bringing her expertise in sexuality wellness education to local parents and caretakers. Isy, with a group of fellow Montclair friends, founded YES! Your Empowered Sexuality to run workshops and a website that focus on high-quality, sex-positive, consent-based education to youth about every aspect of sexuality.

Talking to Teens and Tweens About Sex, offered this Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, aims to help adults clarify their own values about sexuality so that they can take advantage of teachable moments without the awkwardness sometimes associated with “sex talks.” Parents and caretakers with children of all ages will benefit from this interactive workshop that seeks to overcome any discomfort or shame associated with discussing and responding to sexuality.

Striving to be inclusive with language, responses, and empathy for discomfort and questions is one area the workshop will focus on. Helping attendees to become comfortable with validating curiosity and using it to create teachable moments based on their own values is another workshop goal. The underlying belief is that open, honest discussions will help young people make healthier, safer, and more positive decisions about their own sexuality. In addition to values discussions, topics will include current topics like consent, how to be queer- and trans-inclusive, how to normalize young people’s bodies and desires, and how to counteract rape culture. Continue Reading

Book Review: The Stone Heart Keeps Middle Readers on the Edge of their Seats

BY  |  Monday, Apr 03, 2017 11:45am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Whether your family has been waiting for the next graphic novel in Faith Erin Hicks’ The Nameless City series, or if this is the first you’ve heard of it, THE STONE HEART will captivate your middle-readers (and everyone else in the household) with its action, character development, drama, and gorgeous full-color illustrations.

The main story features Kaidu and Rat, two children who have formed a friendship despite being from very different backgrounds. Their adventures are exciting, filled with danger, and the youngsters remain the heroes throughout. Rat’s background is developed, as she reveals details about her painful past, and Kaidu struggles with not fitting in to the expectations of his war-like people. They depend on each other and learn from each other as their friendship grows.

THE STONE HEART continues adding characters rich in diverse backgrounds and personalities. The place names, traditions, clothing, and setting is based in the Yuan Dynasty and the Silk Road, but there is a fantastical aspect that will pique each reader’s interests and imaginations as well.

The twists and turns in the plot and the detailed discovery about various background characters will keep readers captivated through multiple readings. It is not necessary to have read the first book in the series, The Nameless City, but it makes the story feel even more epic to know how Rat and Kaidu met and how they first began their adventures.

As with most books in a series, THE STONE HEART ends with a cliffhanger that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. To take the edge off the anticipation, the author’s note and concept drawings at the end of the book highlight both the writing process and the research used in developing The Nameless City’s world. It also lets readers know that the final book in the series is already in the works.

Recommended for ages 9-13, THE STONE HEART includes some fighting scenes, and an instance of patricide that may especially upset younger readers.

THE STONE HEART by Faith Erin Hicks is available on April 4th, 2017.

Spring Into New Adventures at Geyer Family Branch of the YMCA of Montclair

BY  |  Monday, Mar 27, 2017 3:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Geyer Family Branch of the YMCA of Montclair is excited to announce its Spring II session line-up with a great offering of classes for ages 6 months -6 years old.

Registration for the Spring II session begins Monday, April 3 for those with a family membership and Tuesday, April 4 for Kinder members and new members. The new session runs from April 17 – June 10.

In addition to the popular swim, cooking, dance, art and gym classes offered for the Spring II session, the Geyer Family Branch has several new classes for Spring II, including: Continue Reading

Sponsored: Three Outside The Box Summer Camps

Friday, Mar 24, 2017 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

ymca of montclair summer camps

Summer is around the corner. It’s time to plan ways to keep your kids occupied. The YMCA of Montclair offers several great outside the box camps for ages 6-15. For more options, visit our website.

Summer Sparks STEM Camp —If you have a child entering 1st-6th grade, this is a camp where your child can tinker, make, build, code, invent and so much more. Taught by teachers and other subject matter experts, programs range from Intro to Coding, Make It Fly, Gooey and Gross and Green to Math Mayhem. In addition to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, kids can take programs in Theatre, Movie Making, Dungeons and Dragons, Wood Works and lots more. You can view the schedule of offerings here. Choose morning or afternoon sessions or sign your camper up for a full day.

ymca of montclair summer camps

Voyagers A camp for teens ages 12-14 with a sense of adventure! At Voyagers, teens go on thrilling excursions, make an impact in the local community and choose their weekly camp activities such as drama, art, sports, cooking and more! Day trip opportunities are Wednesday-Friday and include Fireball Mountain (outdoor laser tag), Hurricane Harbor, Turtle Back Zoo Treetop Adventure Course, Dorney Park and more. 


ymca of montclair summer camps

Quest —Trains teens ages 14-15 how to be effective leaders and prepare for the working world during this four-week program. Quest teaches teens the skills necessary to earn their first paycheck and helps them get real job experience. It’s the perfect balance of activities for those wanting to join the workforce and have fun. During the first two weeks, teens participate in activities and workshops where they learn how to write a resume, interview for a job, dress for an interview and more. During the second two weeks, teens expand their leadership skills by interning at a YMCA of Montclair camp or facility to start them in the right direction. There’s also a field trip on the second Friday of the program.


ymca of montclair summer camps

Financial assistance for YMCA of Montclair camps is available to those with demonstrated need who live in Bloomfield, Cedar Grove, Clifton, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Verona.


The Special Connection: Montclair Mom Shares What She Learned Parenting Son With Prader-Willi Syndrome

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2017 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Parents of children with special needs will want to read what Montclair’s Alma Schneider wrote: “What I Wish I Had Known When My Son Was Born With a Rare Disorder” for Today:

First and foremost, I wish I had not listened to my Pediatric NICU Doctor who told me to go home and read about Lincoln’s Syndrome on the internet. The internet can be a curse when you have a child with challenges, especially the forums with other parents. Often, not always, people with the most severe cases post on the internet and to read about what could happen to your child when they are 19 years old is, in my opinion, a form of masochism when you need to bond with your infant.

Continue Reading

Spring Basketball Tryouts for Panthers Travel Basketball at YMCA of Montclair

BY  |  Saturday, Mar 11, 2017 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

If you are in the 5th/6th or 7th/8th grade and you are an advanced or skilled basketball player, come be a part of the Panthers Travel Basketball Teams. Youth interested in trying out for the Travel Basketball teams need to attend 2 out of 3 tryouts and must attend the tryout dates for their age group. The season will run from March to May. Teams will have at least 1 practice per week with at least 10 regular season games. The fee is $300 and a youth membership to the YMCA of Montclair is required. Tryouts are at the YMCA of Montclair’s Park Street Branch, 25 Park Street, Montclair.

Girls Team Grades 7/8
Friday, March 17th at 6pm
Saturday, March 18th at 3pm
Make –up Day Sunday, March 19th at 1:30pm

Grades 5/6 (co-ed)
Friday, March 17th at 7pm
Saturday, March18th at 4pm
Make-up Day Sunday, March 19th at 2:30pm

Grades 7/8 (co-ed)
Friday, March 17th at 8pm
Saturday, March 18th at 5pm
Make-up Day Sunday, March 19th at 3:30pm

For more information, contact Alesha T. Clayton, Youth and Adult Sports Director, YMCA of Montclair at [email protected] or 973-744-3400, ext.139.

Books To Jumpstart Healthy Conversations With Kids and Teens About Sex, Body Image and Relationships

BY  |  Thursday, Mar 09, 2017 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)


Whether it’s a five-year-old asking where babies come from, a 3rd grader wondering if his penis is normal, a 7th grader asking about tampons or what a French Kiss means, or a teenager getting up the courage to share something intensely personal with a parent, eventually, all parents and caregivers should be prepared to discuss some version of the birds and the bees and all associated details.

While children receive some instruction in schools, the information often depends on which school or which staff member is teaching the Family Life curriculum. To help supplement, or jumpstart, those conversations, Baristanet has compiled some resources for parents and caregivers looking for guidance and support. As a bonus, Watchung Booksellers will give a 10% discount if you mention Baristanet when purchasing any of the books mentioned in this post!

Elementary School Aged Children: Body Parts, Birds & Bees, Privacy, and Different Kinds of Families

We are big fans of starting early with body recognition, and there are few books more accessible and comprehensive than The Human Body Book. While it’s not a children’s book, the illustrations and matter-of-fact descriptions of conception, the growth of a fetus, and male and female anatomy will bring up questions and discussions organically and smoothly.

For books that address body issues and where babies come from, we highly suggest options like  It’s So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and FamiliesMy Body is Private, and Before You Were Born. Each is very different in its approach, and each is appropriate for elementary school age.

Over the last several years, there has been wonderful development in storybooks about and including LGBTQ topics. If you or family members are uncomfortable discussing these topics, or if you are unsure of appropriate language, these books are especially helpful.

A quick search will bring many suggestions for books that introduce the idea of feeling like you’re different or families with two Moms or two Dads. One especially accessible book is The Family Book which details families of many combinations in a fun and engaging way.

There are some wonderful books for the younger set that can help families with language and discussion points around LGBTQ topics in an age-appropriate and welcoming manner.

You’re Different and That’s Super, And Tango Makes ThreeRed: A Crayon’s StoryI Am Jazz, and My Princess Boy have all gotten rave reviews for their approach to gay families and transgender topics. Unfortunately, a lovely book called Goblinheart, by Brett Axel, is out of print. If you find it, buy it!

Remember, the goal in these books is to expose children to a variety of realities, bolster self-esteem and a sense of self, and to help children empathize with others who may feel out of place. Even if some of these books may feel too “young” for your elementary school child, it’s important that the reading level and story line isn’t too complicated when you are broaching a new topic.

Tween Puberty & Human Sexuality Books

The Care and Keeping of US: A Sharing Collection for Girls & Their Moms is a dual set of books that helps facilitate discussions between girls and trusted female caregivers. It comes from the American Girl Publishing company, that is also responsible for one of the most highly recommended books on the list: American Girl: The Care & Keeping of You, which has a younger girl version and an older girl version. There is also the handy and direct American Girl: Is This Normal? (hint: The answer is almost always YES.)

Boys have questions too! And we’ve got books to help caregivers and children deal with them. This title says it all: What’s Going on Down There?: Answers to Questions Boys Find Hard to Ask. And also direct and accessible is The Boy’s Body Book: 3rd Edition – Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU.

Once bodies and the changes they may be (or soon will be) experiencing is covered, we recommend tweens and caregivers sit down with this gem: Let’s Talk About S-E-X: A Guide for Kids 9 to 12 and Their Parents. The information is direct, and the language is simple enough that after a family discussion, children can return to the book on their own to reread and form new questions.

LGBTQ books for Tweens and Teens

Whether your child has questions about family friends, school friends, themselves, or other community members, it’s important to provide open-minded and reliable resources when it comes to LGBTQ topics. With rapidly changing and sometimes unfamiliar language, resources like the books listed here can be a lifesaver in more ways than one.

Guides are a go-to resources, and we recommend this one for family discussions: LGBTQ Families: The Ultimate Teen Guide. Teens who are more reticent to discuss intimate issues surrounding their own or friends sexuality will find this guide helpful and informative: Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens.

So Hard to Say is a novel that addresses awareness of others and self regarding coming out as gay. George and Parrotfish (fiction) and Being Jazz (memoir) are books that focus on the experience of children as they assert their gender identity to family and friends.

For further reading suggestions, TOP 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens is a great resource.

Teen Human Sexuality Resources

Broaching not just topics about sex and the human body, but the reality of participating in intimate acts is important before children are faced with choices regarding sex. Sharing family values is key, but we must also provide the tools to make confident decisions for themselves and a significant other in a world where values and expectations vary widely.

We recommend that parents and caregivers read these books for themselves, and then share them with the teens in their lives.

Beyond the Big Talk: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens from Middle School to High School and Beyond

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy

There are some amazing websites that can serve as excellent resources for family discussions. One caveat is that children with unfettered access to internet resources will have seen a very wide variety of images and information. It is not recommended to start a conversation with your teen with “Let’s search the Internet for some topics together.” However, having a frank discussion about images and information they may have encountered is also important.   (Trust me when I say that in researching this post, there was a lot to weed through.)

The Rutgers ANSWER: Sex Ed, honestly organization has a comprehensive site with information, a comprehensive resource guide, and even a communication tool to get the conversation started. Topics range from masturbation to birth control to consent to STDs to body image. the site is directed to teens (13-19) with access to varied opinions and answers. There is even a video about Sex Myths that definitely do NOT prevent pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood has a fantastic YouTube channel with an entire section on Parenting Tips. They also have a series of videos focused on CONSENT, another channel with loads of videos all about contraception. In Spanish too! This video about how to properly put on a condom is matter-of-fact and informative. Since NJ has seen a six year spike in STD transmission, making the condom great again should be a goal for our teens.

For presentations to groups or classes, there are resources available as well. The highly recommended Unitarian Universalist Association has the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program, which meets the National Sex Ed Standards, and it can be easily adapted for alternate or non-religious purposes. See more information here, including how to bring the program to your organization. The OWL resources are available to purchase here.

Local non-profit group Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.)* has presented programs focused on healthy relationships and recognizing the signs of dating violence to Girl Scout Troops, school classrooms, parent groups, college groups, and other community groups.

Love Is Respect is a great resource for teens wondering about how to help themselves or a friend who may be in an abusive relationship. With quizzes, helplines, and a focus on preventing and ending abusive relationships, the site can be invaluable and private way for both teens and parents to seek help.

The National Council of Jewish Women has a teen dating abuse program that has been used in schools and with community programs.

Most important for healthy discussions between parents/caregivers and teens is that there is an openness and non-judgmental trust. School SACs and school nurses are reliable resources for the community, and many in the district have been working to elevate the Family Life program (based on NJ standards) in our public schools. Family pediatricians can also help facilitate discussions surrounding body awareness, sexual health, and choices regarding sexual activity. If you have discomfort or are unsure about appropriate or well-meaning language, you are not alone! Browse these resources and discuss the issues with friends and neighbors.

* Full disclosure: The author is on the board of S.O.F.I.A. and volunteers as a presenter for these workshops.

Sponsored: Can Young Children Go To Sleep-Away camp? It Depends . . .

BY  |  Tuesday, Mar 07, 2017 3:45pm

Campus Kids Weekday Sleep-Away Camp

From the directors of Campus Kids Weekday Sleep-Away Camp on the rural campus of Blair Academy


Here’s what we have learned about young children (ages 7 to 9) who attend sleep-away camp. Continue Reading

Featured Comment

These houses look like McMansions that were in the dryer too long and now have shrunk to 3/4 size. The flaccid one at the top of the thread looks like the elastic is all stretched out, too.

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