Thursday, February 26, 2004

Help for parents, for a fee

Information on three web-based business of interest has crossed my computer screen in the past week or so, and although I can't vouch for any of them, I thought I'd pass them along. If anybody reading this has had experience with any of these sites, please comment below.

* The Reading Bee is a children's book-of-the-month club with a twist: Each month brings not only an "age/ability appropriate book" but educational research on how to encourage reading, suggestions for making reading a stimulating experience for your child, and stickers or gifts to use as incentives for reading. You can join a "pre-reader" (infants and toddlers), "early reader" (kindergarten-grade 1) or "ready reader" (grades 2-4) group, and the monthly cost is $19.95. I suspect this is a service more for people who are excited about giving their kids a leg up on reading than on those who are desperate to help a struggling reader succeed -- it's hard to imagine either of my kids fitting into an ability category set by their age -- but there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Maybe one day they'll come up with a "reluctant reader" category, too, although the incentive items will have to be a lot slicker than stickers.

* Ideal Lives Advocacy & Inclusion Center sounds like a dream come true: a service that promises to do all the special education footwork for you and give you concrete and practical suggestions for getting your child precisely the help he or she needs. With a paid membership, subscribers get access to research, an "ask an expert" directory, help in finding local resources, ideas for specific diagnoses, a weekly newsletter, support forums and a personal mentor. If Ideal Lives can really deliver results, it's the sort of service that could be invaluable to parents who are overwhelmed with all the emotions and paperwork and rigamarole and double-talk inherent in the IEP process and need a cool head to tie all the threads together. If not, well, it's a nice dream.

* Ready to answer your child's adoption-related questions is EMK Press Adoption Publishing Company, which creates and sells "books and resources to empower children and families." Most of the books are specifically for families who have adopted children from China, but a few, including two on lifebooks, are more generally applicable. There are also downloadable resources on adoption, and information on featured charities. Many of the books come with user's guides and are autographed, with a child's name if provided. Personally, I've never found a better adoption answer book than the gentle, matter-of-fact Let's Talk About It: Adoption by the late Mr. Rogers, but this stuff looks pretty good too.

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