Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Safety

Focusing on safety on Halloween will ensure both parents and children are happy.

With Halloween just around the corner, countless anxious children await this magical day, filled with costumes, fun and most of all, candy. But, should parents be worried about their children Trick or Treating? While there are some obvious concerns, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your child's night is filled with treats, not tricks. Here are some tips:

  • Accompany children aged 12 and under, or make sure they are with a trusted adult
  • Visit houses with porch lights on
  • Ensure costumes are safe and do not detract from hearing or seeing
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Walk, facing traffic, on well lit sidewalks and use caution before crossing the street
  • Check your child’s treats before they eat any

If you plan on driving through a neighborhood, be sure to:

  • Drive slowly and watch for trick-or-treaters on foot
  • Don’t drive distracted- no cell phones, eating, drinking, etc.
  • Stay alert for kids suddenly running out into the street

Safe Kids recently conducted a study on Halloween safety. According to their findings, only about a third of parents talk to their children annually about Halloween safety. Shockingly, the survey found that 12 percent of children five or younger were allowed to trick-or-treat alone! Since twice as many child pedestrians get killed on Halloween than an average night, do the right thing by supervising the night.

Have you talked to your kids about Halloween safety this year? Share tips with other parents by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nanny or Daycare, You Be the Judge

Staying at home with the kids is not a luxury that every family can afford, or that every family wants. After having kids, parents are faced with a huge dilemma—do you hire a nanny, or enroll in a daycare?

It’s a tough decision to make because each comes with their own set of pros and cons. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, as every family is different. The best way to decide what will be a good fit for your family is to identify the pros and cons associated with each option. Here are some pros and cons to consider for each:

  • Your child will get individual attention that is not always possible at a daycare
  • You don’t have to worry about getting everything ready ahead of time for your kids because the nanny can take care of that
  • You have a little more flexibility in your schedule vs. the standard hours of operation that daycares have
  • Finding a nanny that fits in with your own personal ideals and values can be difficult and time-consuming
  • It can be very expensive to pay someone to come to your home and watch your child each day
  • You can’t always know what happens once you leave the house each morning
  • With your child being surrounded by other kids everyday, they have an increased chance to make new friendships, learn more quickly and have more stimulation than by being at home all day with only the nanny to interact with
  • Daycares come equipped with good, quality teachers that are trained to help teach your kids the things you may not have time to do, such as potty-training, counting, the alphabet, etc.
  • There are certain safety and sanitary requirements that daycares must adhere to
  • Being around other kids all day exposes your own kids to more germs
  • Less of a chance for individualized attention due to class size
  • You will have to get yourself and your children ready every morning, as well as make sure that they have all the necessities accompanying them, such as food, diapers, etc.
When it comes down to it, you have to pick which one will fit in with your schedule and your budget. There is no right or wrong answer to the question of nanny vs. daycare—only what’s right for your family.

Have you used a nanny and/or daycare? Share your experiences by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Content in this blog post was written by Nancy Parker who was a professional nanny and loves to write about a wide range of subjects such as health, parenting, child care, babysitting, nanny tips, etc.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grants Available for Child Care Providers Looking to Improve Nutrition

As childhood obesity continues to cause national concern, there's a lot child care providers can do to help, and now, grants are available to implement enhanced nutrition programs.

We’ve recently discussed how child care providers can help with America’s childhood obesity epidemic.

Even if parents do not prepare healthy meals, child care providers will still be able to aid in childhood obesity prevention by ensuring that children get enough physical activity and are fed healthful foods. But, how do child care providers go about improving the nutrition of the foods they serve and increasing physical activity? Healthy foods are often more expensive, as are the toys and equipment needed to get children moving. But, did you know that you may be able to receive grant funding for such things?

Child care providers in Pennsylvania will be able to afford feeding children healthier foods and help them increase their physical activity. Through Keystone Kids Go!, the Pennsylvania Department of Education developed and online nutrition and physical activity self-assessment and plan specifically design for child care facilities. Through USDA CACFP Child Care Wellness Grant Funding, grants are available for child care centers selected to participate.

Learn more about the grant program and apply here.

If you’re not eligible to apply, there are still a lot of great programs you can implement to aid in the prevention of childhood obesity. What has your childcare facility done to improve nutrition and increase activity? Share your tips by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's Missing in Child Care and Early Education in America

Join the discussion on what the biggest problems and priorities that need to be addressed are in child care and early childhood education.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, The Early Education Initiative will be co-hosting an event with the Workforce and Family Program to discuss the urgent need for change in child care and early childhood education.

Over 11 million American children spend their time in a child care facility each day, and many of these families rely on publicly funded programs. In most households, even if both parents are present, they both still have to work to support their lifestyle, meaning childcare is a necessity.

However, the cost of daycares is continuing to rise, while staff salaries are still low, leading to a high staff turnover rate, ultimately affecting the quality of care . Because of the high turnover rate, student-teacher ratios are often askew, meaning children aren’t getting enough attention. Fiscal pressures on states and the federal government are deterring investments.

While the outlook may seem grim, the purpose of the event is to how best address these concerns to ensure quality early childhood education and care that supports both the learning of children and the ability of adults to go to work.

There’s still time to RSVP to the event, which will be held on Oct. 20 at 12:15 p.m. at1899 L Street NW, Suite 400 in Washington, D.C. If you’re interested, but can’t make it to D.C., there will be a live streaming.

What do you think is the most pressing issue in early child care today? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Choose the Right Daycare for You

Choosing the right daycare can be difficult. Whether you’re just returning to work after becoming a parent, moving, or simply exploring other options, there’s always a lot of factors to consider, and each daycare provider will have their own pros and cons. While it may take a substantial amount of time to research, Choosing the right daycare will ultimately affect your child’s happiness and your peace of mind. Here’s some tips to help you get started on your search:

Licensing & Accreditation
First and foremost, you want to make sure the daycare facility is accredited, licensed and/or approved. While licensing requirements vary by state, they all have certain standards in place to ensure a safe and happy environment for your child. Facilities should display their current license at all times.

While licensing is needed for legal daycare operations in the U.S., accreditation is not. Looking for a daycare that is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), will ensure that your child will engage in daily developmental activities in a safe environment where they are respected and treated as individuals while developing key relationships with staff and peers.

Depending on your work schedule, you may only need part-time daycare, which definitely cuts down on the cost.

However, if you do need full-time daycare, make sure you can easily make it on time to pick up your child each night. Many daycares will charge a fee for each minute you are late, some as much as $5 a minute! If your job is stressful and you can’t always guarantee an on-time departure, make sure there’s a friend or relative around who would be able to pick your child up. Let the daycare provider you choose know of all persons approved to pick up your child so they can keep track of all your information.

You won’t know until you try, but making a visit can definitely help! Speak with the director of the daycare, in addition to staff members, and get a tour. While on the tour, look for happy children and staff, a safe, open environment, staff ratios, a good amount of age appropriate toys and of course, their licensing/accreditation. Make sure you bring a list of questions with you and don’t be afraid to ask more!

Ask Around
If you schedule your visit/tour during the beginning or end of the day, you should be able to get a hold of a few parents and ask them how pleased they are with the daycare services. Also ask friends, neighbors and relatives if they have ever, or know anyone who uses that daycare.

Also check out the article, Top 10 Things Child Care Providers Want You to Know. Ultimately, choosing the right daycare is tough, but by doing your research, you will find one that will keep both you and your child happy.

Already have a child in daycare? Share your tips on how you found the right one for your needs by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween Costumes for Children at School

What costume should your child wear to school for Halloween?

With Halloween just under three weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about how to find a costume that not only your children will like, but also one that’s school approved.

It’s no doubt that teachers and childcare centers will have their own special celebration, but it’s important to know the rules when it comes to costumes. Here’s some tips for parents on preparing for your child’s Halloween experience:
  • If your child’s school or childcare facility does not allow Halloween costumes, please abide by this key rule. Make your child’s Halloween experience enjoyable by taking them trick-or-treating.
  • Read all handouts or messaging from teachers regarding Halloween costumes
  • Refrain from costumes that involve:Weapons (even fake plastic ones), masks, capes, uncomfortable shoes, small accessories or valuable items
  • Choose a costume that will keep your child warm/cool enough for your climate
  • Pack a change of clothes
  • Ensure going to the bathroom will still be easy for your child to do
  • If your child does not want to dress up, do not make them
  • Keep costumes appropriate and not revealing
Here’s some ideas for toddler and newborn Halloween costumes. Most of all, avoid these costumes, dubbed “The 5 Worst Halloween Costumes for Kids.”

For teachers, be sure to tell parents the rules for Halloween in your classroom well in advance. If you’re dressing up, refrain from anything that could be deemed inappropriate or scary. If you’re holding a costume contest, don’t be a judge yourself, as you don’t want to be seen as choosing “favorites” as winners. Most importantly, be sure to capture the day’s fun-filled activities by sending parents updates, photos and videos throughout the day.

Does your school allow Halloween costumes, if so, what are you or your child dressing up as? Tell us by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Read for the Record: A Huge Success

Helping to bridge the early childhood education gap, millions of adults read to children for yesterday's read for the record.

Yesterday, Oct. 6, was Read for the Record, a day in which millions of adults and children gather to show their support for early childhood education and literacy. This years book, Llama Llama Red Pajama, broke the record of over 2 million readers. While final numbers are still being calculated, make sure if you did read, you were counted.

The day started off with an introduction on the Today Show, where Jumpstart representatives explained the goal of the program, raising awareness about education achievement gap in preschool children from impoverished areas. Although Read for the Record is only one day, by raising awareness on this day, it is hoped that adults continue to read to children and see the benefits in doing so. View the clip from the Today Show to learn more:

The 2011 campaign was a huge success, with schools, students, teachers and pre-school aged children throughout the country,
from Florida, to Kansas, to New York, to California getting involved.

If you missed yesterday’s Read for the Record, it’s never too late to start improving the literacy and ultmately, future success of children. Learn how you can help. If you did participate, make sure to share the news!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Early Childhood Education: Ensuring Academic Success

Early childhood education is becoming a national crisis, particularly in low-income communities. Learn how to help.

With the next presidential election only a little over a year away, issues are surfacing with not only the economic crisis, but also with the early childhood education crisis.

The Problem
Millions of children from low-income families are starting kindergarten far behind the standard curve. During the ages of 3-5, the brain develops very rapidly, so it’s crucial that even if the child is not in preschool or daycare, parents are involved, ensuring their child’s future academic success. However, in many low-income families, both parents may not be present, or they may both have to work and are unable to afford early childhood education services. Because of this, and other factors such as access to books, children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten 60 percent behind wealthier peers.

The education gap is preventable, but it will take a lot of time and effort from the government, schools and the community. Jumpstart is a non-profit organization that engages community members to help children in low-income neighborhoods develop literary skills for kindergarten and their education.

How You Can Help
On Thursday, October 6, millions will read with a child to represent year-long educational support for pre-school age children of low-income communities. This year’s Read for the Record book is Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. If you want to help jump-start a child’s education, learn more.