Lunchtime with the experts: parenting tips and more

Through your battle-scarred pediatrician, well-meaning mother-in-law, and that overzealous mommy blogger, you've probably received more parenting advice than you've cared to solicit.

At what age should a child transition to solid food? How much TV can Junior watch before his brain starts to rot? Who do you call when baby eats a whole tub of Vaseline?

The questions don't go away as they grow up either. How do we pay for college? Can we afford a second car?

These and other such questions are addressed during the Lunch Hour Workshops put on by the university's Office of Work, Life and Engagement.

For more than 10 years, these hourlong workshops have connected JHU faculty and staff with experts on topics that include living with your adult children, raising financially responsible kids, and healthy eating habits. Each workshop runs from noon to 1 p.m. and takes place at both the Homewood and East Baltimore campuses.

Previous workshops have covered topics as wide ranging as buying a home, dealing with post-holiday stress, and bicycle commuting.

The program employs presenters, or "experts," from both inside and outside the university, says Amanda Krisher, a program coordinator with the Office of WorkLife.

Topics are determined based on feedback from workshop participants and often fall under one of four categories: parenting, finance, aging adult needs, and miscellaneous.

"We typically ask people at the workshops to fill out an evaluation, tell us what they're interested in, and then try to find a speaker who is knowledgeable about that topic," Krisher says.

The workshops draw anywhere from 10 to 75 attendees.

"Our most popular workshop has definitely been about paying for your child's college education. The first few times we offered it we saw 50, then 60, then 70 attendees," Krisher says. Workshops like the ones regarding aging adult needs may bring in fewer people, she says, but elicit some of the most positive responses.

"The evaluations that we've gotten back have been overwhelmingly positive. People really like being able to come in during their lunch hour to learn about a new topic," Krisher says. "We have a lot of repeat attendees and they'll often bring their friends and colleagues, so we're constantly seeing new faces."

The program has grown steadily, mostly by word of mouth, which has allowed it to expand to other locations.

"We are always looking for new topics and suggestions," Krisher says. "We may branch out a little more at other locations like [Johns Hopkins at] Keswick. We've also started doing webinars to make the information even more available to employees across the university."

To register for upcoming workshops and find out exact locations, go to and select "Workshop Registration" on the left-side navigation of the page.

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