I work full-time, what am I going to do with my kids over summer break?

Creating a summer schedule can help families manage the transition with planned vacation time as well as some academic activities to prevent the summer slide.

It’s that time of year again – class plays and award ceremonies that signal the end of a school year. The kids are excited and can’t wait for the adventures of summer to begin. However, parents who work often struggle with summer break. Creating a summer schedule can help families manage the transition with planned vacation time as well as some academic activities to prevent the summer slide.

Depending on the child’s age and the family situation, the changes can be large or small. Younger children who attend daycare after school often attend the same day care for the entire day during the summer. If the family has a live-in nanny, the changes may not be too dramatic – just more nanny supervised time. But what about older children? There are many different options for childcare and these are all available during the summer months. There are, of course, pros and cons to every potential solution. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Maintain the Status Quo. If the family already has a full-time nanny or other available full-time childcare such as a relative or friend, then everyone’s schedule can be adjusted to account for the lack of school as the children stay home. Keeping the same childcare allows children to stay in an environment they know and with people they already trust. To create a summer schedule, the nanny or childcare provider can plan outings specific to the interests of the children. Special diets or exercise routines can be maintained or expanded. If the parents want the child to engage in workbook or reading activities to continue academically, the daily schedule can dedicate time for these activities.

Going from part-time to full-time is a significant increase in responsibility for the nanny or childcare provider. There should be back and forth discussions to ensure that expectations are clearly communicated, and compensation is increased appropriately. If there are going to be vacations and other times when the summer schedule may change, these events should also be discussed in advance.

2. Daycare. Most communities have multiple day care options and run summer programs. Good daycare programs have scheduled activities that differ daily, often with field trips that are not included in school year programs. Children are generally grouped by age and the number of adults supervising children is usually regulated. Lunch is included and often breakfast is an option. Although summer daycare programs may not include academics such as reading or math, the social aspect helps children mature and learn to function in a group setting. Daycares are usually open longer hours and provide parents varying drop off and pick up times.

Day camps

3. Day camps. Many different organizations – including sports associations, scouting, and churches – offer summer day camp programs. Day camps are generally a week-long and may last for part of the day or all day. Parents can enroll children in camps with activities that are particularly interesting to the children such as sports camp, drama camp, or music camp. There are even some academic day camps that focus on STEM, coding, and creative writing.

Summer camps can help children learn new skills and examine different interests. Camps encourage friendships through the buddy system and provide age appropriate levels of autonomy, so child develop independence. However, most day camps do not run all summer and may not supervise the child during a full workday. To manage these gaps, a child may attend soccer camp one week and scout camp the next. After camp care is often covered by neighbors or family members as parents are generally responsible for getting the child to and from the camp.

4. Hire a Summer Nanny. If the family does not have a full-time nanny or family members who can watch the children, hiring a summer nanny may be an option. While babysitters are responsible for the physical safety and well-being of the children under their care, nannies should have invested in childcare training so they can create a daily schedule that provides engagement as well as intellectual, social, physical, and emotional development. Summer nannies can work in the family’s home to create age appropriate learning environments, provide nutritious snacks and lunches, and lead fun, fitness activities. If you are thinking about hiring a nanny, check out this free resource, The Ultimate Guide on How to Hire a Nanny.

The Ultimate Guide to Hire a Nanny

Every family is unique, and these are not the only options for summer childcare. Although the best solution for your family may be one of the above, a combination of family support, day care, day camps, and paid childcare can provide quality care. For example, if you are thinking about hiring a summer nanny and have a close friend in the same situation, you may want to hire a single full-time nanny and have her watch both children. Or maybe, the child goes to summer camps for specific weeks, visits family for a couple of weeks and spends the rest of the time in day care. Decide what your goals are for summer care, research the options available in your area, and discuss the options with older children to determine the best fit for your family.

Fly a Kite with Your Kids (and Teach Them a Bit of Engineering)

As Spring approaches, March winds bring memories of running down the street trying to get a kite in the air.

As Spring approaches, March winds bring memories of running down the street trying to get a kite in the air. With many families focused on soccer and dance practice plus homework and chores, we’ve forgotten to make time for joyous fun. After all, when was the last time you went running through a field with your kids? As a bonus, you can use your kite flying time to teach your children about engineering and aerodynamics.

Children can create simple kites from paper, light wood, and string or purchase simple to complex kits at local stores or online. There are four basic parts to a simple kite.

Every kite begins with a lifting surface (usually called the sail). The sail can be made of any number of materials including paper, silk, old t-shirts, or ribbon.The sail is supported by a structure or framework. Framework designs can be traditional quadrilateral or stretched diamond shape. More complex patterns can have a series of connected box shapes. Other shapes include the sled, 3-spar barndoor, and the delta kite which is recommended for beginners.The framework is attached to a line or string. There are differing ways to attach the line to the frame including a direct tie or with line segments that can be adjusted to change the flight angle.The last part of the kite is the tail. Depending on the design of the kite, the tail can be ornamental or can be designed to provide stability to the kite.

No one knows who created the first kite, but there are many known uses of kites throughout history. In peace times, kites have been used to move things over land and across rivers. Scientists have used kites to test theories ranging from electricity to aviation. In wartime, kites have been used to disrupt radar signals and gather information. More recently, kites have become the basis of varying sports that combine the kites with boards (for water or snow surfing) and wheels or skates (for Kite buggying and Kite skating). These historical and modern uses can be great inspiration for flying a kite with your children.

Kites in the sky

Whether trying to carry a ball or just doing stunts, let your children choose and assemble their kite since building the kite is a large part of the total experience. Children enjoy crafts and take pride in putting things together. Allow for creativity by encouraging children to add designs to the sail using markers and stickers. Making the tail can be a lot of fun as children can practice tying knots or weaving materials together.

Once the kite is completed and before attempting to fly it, the children should learn some safety rules. First, choose a flying location that is open and away from obstacles. Always keep the kite under control and be able to quickly reel it in if necessary. Be aware of kite lines as they can wrap around people, trees, and light poles causing damage. NEVER fly kites near power lines, an airport, or near cars or other people. Make sure to check the weather and don’t fly a kite in a storm.

Now, it’s time to check the wind which is a great opportunity to teach children about wind speed, direction, cross winds, updrafts, and gusts. Lacking wind is a challenge but so is too much wind which can break the kite or cause it to spiral out of control. Ideal conditions will vary based on the design of the kite, but most kites do well with 4-10 mph winds. You don’t need to feel a strong wind; a breeze is usually enough to fly a simple kite.

Kite Flying

Kite flying provides hundreds of opportunities for children to experiment with design, technique, and aerodynamics. Younger children may simply like to watch the kite in the sky while older children may get into the aerodynamics of varying designs and even begin to develop their own unique versions. Elementary aged children may want to build a kite to carry a camera or ball while older children can determine the center of gravity after learning about the forces on a kite.

Kite flying is a great activity for children of many ages. There is a sense of accomplishment when c children build a kite and see it fly. Take a few hours this weekend and challenge everyone in your family to build a kite, then see which one flies the highest.

10 Home Made Halloween Costumes for Kids

It can be easy and fun to grab a costume at the store, but sometimes a non-traditional costume is or a craft project is more fun for the children.

It can be easy and fun to grab a costume at the store, but sometimes a non-traditional costume is or a craft project is more fun for the children. Creating a unique costume, especially if the child is old enough to help, can be a great way to spend time together and also allows the child to use their creativity and experience pride in their work.

Here are a few ideas for you to consider this Halloween:

1. Food truck chef. Gather large cardboard pieces or tape a few pieces together to create a large box. Use paints and other items to draw the outline of the food truck. Create a cut out for the child in the space of the order window. Let the child pick their favorite foods and draw, then paint the menu and food truck name. Attach shoulder straps to the cardboard and size them so the child is in the window frame with the straps holding the cardboard cut out up. Dress the child in a chef uniform and for fun, add a chef hat.

2. Lumberjack. This is a great costume for adventurers and kids who enjoy the outdoors. Just grab a pair of boots, jeans, a plaid shirt, suspenders, and a warm hat. To create a lumberjack ax, use cardboard and spray paint the handle brown and the ax blade gray or silver. If desired, add a cloth beard or use face paint to create facial hair.

3. Zookeeper. Younger children love this costume and it’s easy to pull together. Grab khaki pants or shorts and a khaki shirt with pockets. Sew or iron on animal patches that can be purchased at a craft store. You can stencil on the child’s name for customization. Then, add a brown belt, boots, and have the child carry their favorite stuffed animal.

4. Scuba diver. For water enthusiasts, becoming a scuba diver is fun. First, dress the child in black pants, a black long sleeve shirt, and black skull cap to represent a wetsuit. Then take two 2-Liter soda bottles and paint them grey, adding a few black stripes. With black ribbon or rope, tie the water bottles together with the top end up and create two shoulder straps so they rest on the child’s back. Add a mask (or for younger children – face paint a mask) and the costume is complete.

minecraft figurine

5. Lego or Minecraft. These costumes are built using cardboard boxes held together with masking tape. Using spray paint, create the base color and add circles for Legos and alternating checkered boxes for Minecraft. Once built, have the child dress in black pants and shirt or match the dominate color of the costume. Cardboard can be used to create a sword or other accessories for individualized themes.

balloons

6. Up movie by Disney. Start by building and decorating a small cardboard house, about the size of a dinner plate. To the house, add 12-15 multicolored helium filled balloons. Under the house, attach a string that connects to your wrist. To finish the costume, you can dress like Carl Fredricksen or Russell. For Carl, grab a grey wig, glasses, and cane, while wearing a white shirt, bow tie, grey sweater, and brown pants. For Russell, you’ll need a yellow shirt, orange neckerchief, brown pants, yellow hat, and a brown sash with patches.

7. Green army man toy. This classic toy can be recreated with a lot of spray paint and we recommend getting low cost paints and a shirt from a second-hand store. Use the spray paint on the boots, pants, jacket, belt and helmet so the entire costume is the same shade of green. To accessorize, paint green toy binoculars, compass, plastic gun, and hand grenades. Use green body paint for face and hands to complete the costume.

Jack-O-Lantern and leaves

8. Harry Potter. A pop culture favorite, this costume can be pulled together with brown pants, a button up shirt, a sweater vest, and scarf. Just add big wire rimmed glasses and using eye liner, add the famous lightning bold scar.

9. Knights. Gather grey pants with a matching long sleeve grey shirt or sweatshirt with a hood. Find an old white shirt and cut off the sleeves to create a vest. Use fabric paint to create a family crest on the white vest. Then, use cardboard to make a shield, sword, and feather topped helmet.

10. Bubble bath. Start with white shoes or slippers, white leggings, and a long sleeve white shirt. To create the bubbles, add white balloons, with a few clear and pink balloons. Inflate the balloons to different sizes so some are small while others are larger. Attach a rubber duck and the look is complete.

Why are Routines so Important for Kids?

A new school year is a time of change for children and setting a routine can help them manage their stress and transition from the summer schedule to a new school routine.

We often struggle with change. As humans, we develop routines and derive a sense of security from knowing what to expect and when. Change can cause anxiety and uncertainty, resulting in stress. This is especially true for children. A new school year is a time of change for children and setting a routine can help them manage their stress and transition from the summer schedule to a new school routine.

Why are Routines so Powerful?

1. Set Expectations. Children often fear the unknown. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it provides them with consistency and reduces this fear. When a child knows what to expect, they become more confident, independent, and begin to learn responsibility. Even in the younger grades, children can be responsible for choosing their own clothes, brushing their teeth, and making sure everything they need is in their backpack.

family looking at floor plans2. Reduce Stress. Routines benefit the entire family. When everyone knows the routine, the household is generally calmer. Routines make sure daily tasks get completed in a timely manner and reduce the occurrence of forgotten tasks or last-minute crises. There are generally fewer power struggles as children accept that this is just the ways things are done.

3. Create Family Bonds. Routines can also be used to reinforce family bonds and develop family traditions and rituals. For example, older children may flinch at hugs and kisses when leaving for school but may find a special family handshake or fist bump acceptable.

calendar elements4. Easier to Manage Change. Routines should be consistent but flexible. No two days will be exactly the same, but minor changes are managed more easily within the structure of a routine. When setting a morning routine, build in extra time. There are always unexpected things that arise and a time buffer will make them less stressful.

A Getting Ready for School routine should start the night before. As part of the bedtime routine, a child may choose their clothes for the next day, make sure all needed school items are in their backpacks, and check the calendar for any unusual activities that may require a special outfit or signed permission slip. Everything should be placed together in an obvious place, so nothing is forgotten as they leave in the morning.

sleeping toddler5. Healthier. Making sure the child gets enough sleep is critical not only to the morning routine, but to ensuring the child has a productive school day. Bedtimes should be set to allow for adequate sleep. Alarm clocks allow the child to be in charge of waking up, but they may need a little nudging. When waking a child – be cheerful and upbeat. If the child likes to snuggle – build it into their morning routine.

Once children are up and moving around, create a routine for regular activities like getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing hair and teeth, and putting on shoes and socks. Younger children may need reminders and motivation. Again, be positive and upbeat and whenever possible, give the children age appropriate choices. The goal is to give children a good start to their day.

Children tend to do better with structure provided by consistent, predictable routines. Routines help families organize their activities and reduce some of the uncertainty and stress inherent in any family. It’s worth the time to create and write a routine, posting it on the refrigerator so everyone has a visual reminder.

Summer Food Fun for Kids

Summer is a wonderful time to be creative with food for kids of all ages and to get them to try new things.

fruit on bagel halves

Summer is here and we all have our favorite summer foods – meat on the grill, fresh corn on the cob, berries and other fresh fruits. Summer is also a wonderful time to be creative with food for kids of all ages and to get them to try new things. From trips to the farmer’s market to harvesting a backyard garden, there are a ton of ways to introduce children to the variety of nutritious foods available in the summer. The next time you are in the fruit and vegetable section, let the children pick out a new food to try. Here are some other age appropriate activities to help children learn about food and nutrition.

Toddlers like to play with food and it teaches them fine motor skills. So, it’s fun to transform eating healthy a craft project. Cut various fruits and vegetables into different shapes and let the children create art on their plate. You can use various things for the base – try bagels which can bet cut and laid out to form a “snake” and decorated with cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit, seeds, and nuts. Then, take a picture to show off their work! While creating and after it’s complete – let the kids dive in a try the various parts of their art project!

Preschool children can create their own shapes, letters, and numbers from various fruits and vegetables. Grab the cookie cutters (the metal kind are best) and make stars from pineapple slices and hearts from watermelon. Use wooden skewers and create ‘stick people’ or kabobs from apple slices, carrot sticks, and cherry tomatoes. When grilling, let the kids pick the vegetables that will be grilled with the meat so they each have their own personalized veggie side. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables they picked out.

Older children usually love smoothies. Have a selection of fruits and vegetables available. Encourage the children to try new combinations and analyze the ingredients with respect to nutrients to develop healthier smoothies that they love to drink. Carrot juice may sound funny to kids but when mixed with bananas and strawberries, it can add some healthy nutrients to the natural sugars in the fruit. Not all smoothies have to be sweet and full of fruit. Encourage the use of vegetables such spinach and kale to increase the nutritional value and expose the children to different tastes.

4th of july themes popsicles

Everyone loves dessert and summer is the best time for frozen goodies! Home-made ice cream is always a huge hit and each person can add their own toppings. You can also make your own yogurt pops with berries or nuts. Fresh lemonade can be frozen as well as low sugar grape juice. Let them freeze and enjoy a special cold treat on a hot summer day.

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