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2020 Best Of Childcare Awards

HAPPIFAMLI

2020 Best Of Childcare Awards

HAPPIFAMLI, Senior Awards Correspondent

May 28, 2020

Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting for the 2020 Best Of Childcare Awards.  We appreciate all of your feedback and were overwhelmed by the response.  We are so excited to announce this years award winners.

Our previous Best Of Child Care Award winners for 2019 were:

Making Screen Time Count

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Making Screen Time Count

Author: Adrianna Hagan from Mad Science

May 25, 2020

As our social interactions and educational experiences move online, deciding how much (or how little) screen time we allow has been shifting dramatically; because the expert answers that existed previously have undergone a serious re-imagining. When most social interactions outside your immediate family are online, children’s social needs factor into the screen-time equation more than ever. 

 

Many adults can struggle to find the balance of what works best even for themselves, so struggling to find balance for their children as well introduces whole new sets of challenges. I personally have found that all the phone calls in the world cannot replace seeing my friends and family in a video call. While I used to prefer a voice only call, I now find myself video calling everyone because I need to see my co-workers, friends, and families faces for my own mental health. We have been fortunate enough to offer a variety of programming in the new virtual world and these are the key elements that we have found are important to us, and our Mad Science & Imagine Arts Academy families when we are making those screen time decisions.

  • Educational elements – With the last school semester being so different this year, it is important to many families to keep kids learning at home. There are many wonderful options out there! It is easy to find something educational that aligns with your child’s interest.
  • Social interaction with children – Keeping children social with other children has been a very vocal need with our parents. The need to giggle and have fun with friends is real for our little ones, and for us too.
  • Social interaction with adults – Real life role models are not new to our children, but online education may have been the first virtual role model that your child has known outside of family. Now I find myself becoming fast friends with co-workers kids when they “sneak” into a meeting to say hello or give a wave.
  • Independent elements – We all need a break. Even our kids need some time to do things “on their own”. Programs that your child can do without parental assistance will give them a change in routine and give them some sense of satisfaction in their independence. Being “own their own” does not mean the same thing in the virtual world though. We have seen many children working independently during programs while a parent is beside them “doing their own work”.
  • Live elements – Live stream programming is closer to real life. A realistic pace has been shown to reduce overstimulation. Young brains can be overwhelmed by a sensory experience that is too fast-paced.  Which makes mixing in some live programming in real time beneficial; especially if your child is overstimulated easily.
  • Active elements – An Australian study on active and passive screen usage found that there are actually two types of active screen use. Physical active screen use is when you are doing physical activity such as playing a video game that incorporates exercise and cognitive active screen use is when critical thinking skills or even the creative side of the brain is activated. 
  • During the regular school day (or at least not before bedtime) – Studies have shown that screen time in the hours before bedtime makes getting to sleep more of a challenge.  Which means that getting your little one to sleep might be a little easier if their screen time is limited in the evening.

The answer for every child and every family is different. Our needs and family situations are all complex and we hope that you find the right balance for your family. One thing that this Spring has taught me is that we need to be flexible. Flexible with expectations, flexible with perceptions, flexible with our day to day lives.

Please enjoy some fun, free videos of science experiment to do at home with your kids. https://www.madsciencepromo.com/athomeexperiments

 

The answer for every child and every family is different. Our needs and family situations are all complex and we hope that you find the right balance for your family. One thing that this Spring has taught me is that we need to be flexible. Flexible with expectations, flexible with perceptions, flexible with our day to day lives.

Please enjoy some fun, free videos of science experiment to do at home with your kids. https://www.madsciencepromo.com/athomeexperiments

 

Kids Culinary School

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Kids Culinary School

By: Bake Austin
May 11, 2020
As an owner of a cooking camp, with COVID-19, I was devastated when I had to close my doors.  For a while, I sat and cried (maybe a lot), but I realized that I had a community behind me that still wanted to participate in our fun, engaging cooking classes, but from the comfort of their homes.  I started with casual Zoom classes – and they spread like wildfire.  I knew that people wanted this and it was my opportunity to bring it to them. The sense of community that I have felt in the past few weeks as we migrated from in-person camps to online is unparalleled. We were able to do this in record time thanks to our partners, HappiFamli and Prowess Project, plus the hundreds of people worldwide cheering us on. 

As we’re launching our online courses, it reminds me that what Kids Culinary Schools brings to families is so much more than cooking.
Top Three things cooking classes teach you- that has nothing to do with food:

1. Creativity – On a daily basis, I watch children make something for their entire family out of next to nothing.  What I have noticed now that children are working in their own kitchens is their wide range of creativity.  In my experience, it almost feels like that BECAUSE they are in their own kitchen, working on these recipes with me, but on their own, they have more liberty to think outside the box.  The finished products have been jaw-dropping. 

2. Responsibility – Of course, we invite parents to share in the experience, however, we encourage the kids to gather materials/tools, measure and clean up all on their own. It’s amazing to virtually watch the campers share their food with family and clean their own dishes. It makes for very happy parents as well.

3. Confidence At the end of class, the kids have a baked good or a dinner made from scratch. If I could bottle up the pride I see in their eyes, the joy and the confidence, I would be a millionaire!  I want all children to experience that pride and parents to witness it. I truly am lucky! 
We hope you’ll join us during our recently launched summer cooking courses. I’m grateful that spots are filling up fast.  As mentioned above, Kids Culinary School teaches so much more than cooking – I hope you get a chance to harness this magic in your own home.  

Sign up for our summer course HERE.  See you online!

Six Tips for Helping Kids Practice Their Second Language at Home

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Six Tips for Helping Kids Practice Their Second Language at Home

Liliana Cortez, Guest Blogger
April 27, 2020
Welcome to the new norm, home schooling, at least for a while, that is! As many families are fortunate enough to have their kids in an immersion program or dual language program, they must now be wondering how they can help their kids continue practicing their 2nd language at home. With everything going on right now, parents do not need to be putting more on their plate. Sure, no one wants their kids to fall behind, but you also need to keep things manageable and stress-free (or at least low-stress!) at home. There are plenty of ways your child can practice their language skills at home and hey, some of these even require zero parental guidance!
    1. Most streaming services or cable providers have a language setting. The rule around my house is, if you are going to watch TV, it’s going to be in Spanish. If your child is old enough, you can even add subtitles for a language and reading lesson.

2. Let your kids brush up on their language and listening skills!  Audible has great Spanish books they can listen to. You can later ask them to narrate and translate the story for you, over dinner. They are offering FREE kids’ stories while schools are closed (with six languages available)! 3. When your groceries have been sitting out long enough or everything has been disinfected, you can have them help you put everything away as they name the items for you. Boost their sense of pride and ownership by asking them to teach you the words. This is also great because it eliminates one more chore for you, the parent – See? Taking things off your plate!

4. Simultaneously learning more than one language is a very effective way to raise a bilingual child. Some families are fortunate enough to have more than one language spoken in the home. If possible, assign one language to each parent. For example, mom speaks only in Spanish to the kids and dad only English. Remind the child to always respond in the language of the one who is speaking to them. The same rule can apply for nightly readings, taking turns reading to them in the assigned language. The child will get used to constantly listening and responding in the two languages.

5. Duolingo is a great resource for learning a new language. Its interactive, allowing them to read and hear the words and even to form complete sentences. 

6. There are a wealth of YouTube videos with songs and visuals with everything from letters, numbers, to shapes, and movement games. Nobody wants their kids turning into YouTube zombies but hey, a few videos a day never hurt anyone, and in this case, it’s helping with their language skills. 

Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Sane!  Quédate en Casa.

Liliana Cortez is the director of Spanish Schoolhouse-Round Rock. For more information on Spanish Schoolhouse, visit spanishschoolhouse.com. 

Parents Unite to Celebrate Art

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Parents Unite to Celebrate Art

Neve Spicer, Guest Blogger

April 15, 2020

Arts, crafts, and kids are a natural combination; it’s why they’re some of the most eager celebrators of World Art Day, which takes place every April 15th. It’s a time to give special acknowledgement to the many roles the fine arts play, encouraging all of us to tell our stories through creative self expression, examine new perspectives, and gain a deeper understanding of other cultures and peoples.

Worldwide celebrations this year are taking on a new face, as families around the globe join with enthusiastic contributions from the comfort of home. Creative expression and exploration push on through both hands-on projects shared with the online community and virtual events which allow parents and kids to explore art history and global art while receiving a unique view of fine artworks that have become touchstones of world culture.

The benefits of engagement with the fine arts don’t stop at entertainment and culture. There’s a multitude of cognitive benefits our kids receive during arts education, both in the classroom and at home. When kids spend time in pursuit of a new artistic skill or project, their time spent concentrating and refining their skills may make them more observant, bring out their natural creativity, help them maintain focus for longer periods of time, and increase their drive to persevere. This can lead to stronger feelings of motivation, and may even foster the development of a lifelong passion for the creation and appreciation of art.

When arts education happens in school, even more benefits are gained which can be seen both in and out of the classroom. Arts education can help children to boost their social confidence, use newfound focus to improve academic ability, and may create more positive feelings toward academia and reduce the rate of dropout.

Ideas for Engaging Your Kids in Art at Home

Fostering a creative spirit at home is a great way to help kids feel more comfortable with and interested in art. Here are a few ways to encourage kids to express themselves:

  • Kid-appropriate art gear: Easels, paintbrushes, and storage space that are size-appropriate and kid-safe help them feel like they’re establishing their own creative space and tool kit
  • “Art night”: While one night a week may be spent on board games and another on movies, yet another night can include gathering around the (covered) table with scratch paper and the family’s collection of crayons, paints, markers, and other supplies for collaborative or independent art time
  • Painting tutorials: Older kids who may be less excited about art projects and family time are often still interested in painting tutorials which make a fun finished project they can display in their room; there are many simple but beautiful tutorials available online for free.

Tips to Ensure Your Family is Financially Stable

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Tips to Ensure Your Family is Financially Stable

Sara Bailey, Guest Blogger

March 16, 2020

Parents want the best for their children. This is true from the second a child is born and continues all the way through adulthood. Apart from love and guidance, parents can give their children a great life by creating financial security. Although children may not understand the concept, their life will benefit greatly from this stability. Whether you have two children or are expecting your first, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. Here are some tips to ensure your family is financially stable.

Plan for the unexpected.

Safeguarding against the unexpected and unpredictable is one of the most important steps in ensuring a financially stable future for your family. Nobody likes to think about death or potential accidents, but parents must consider the financial security of their family if something were to happen. Life insurance is an excellent choice for parents to set their families up for financial success in the event of a sudden death. You can use an online estimator to determine the approximate rate you can expect to pay based on characteristics such as age, tobacco use and current health. Estate planning is also a viable option to help you allocate your assets to members of your family should anything unforeseen occur. 

Keep a monthly budget.

Trying to manage your finances without a budget is a losing battle. There’s no way to know what you’re dealing with when your income and expenses aren’t tracked accurately. While it is possible to stay afloat with rough guesses, parents should be looking to optimize their savings. Keeping a monthly budget is the first step in the right direction. All you need is a simple spreadsheet separating your monthly income and expenses. Keeping this budget up-to-date will make it easier to make smart financial decisions. 

Set aside savings for a home and college.

If you’re currently renting or you own a home but would like more space, you’ll need to save up for down payment before purchasing a new home, but it may be easier than you think. There are many different mortgages available, and many don’t require a 20 percent down payment. For example, it’s possible to take out an FHA loan by putting as little as 3.5 percent down. Just realize that if you purchase a home with less than 20 percent down, you’ll likely be required to pay mortgage insurance.

College tuition prices are continuing to rise and show no signs of slowing down. If you have a desire to help your children with college tuition, you should set aside a portion of your check each month. If you’re not in a financial position to set aside a considerable amount, still make an effort to place at least a little toward this fund. It will compound over time, and you can start adding more when your finances allow. Don’t forget to look into tax incentives given to parents saving for school. 

College tuition prices are continuing to rise and show no signs of slowing down. If you have a desire to help your children with college tuition, you should set aside a portion of your check each month.

Start thinking about retirement. 

If you still have a good 40 years of work ahead of you, thinking about retirement may seem like overkill. When it comes to having a financially secure retirement, however, it’s never too early to start planning. Recent generations who are currently working will face an unprecedented shortage of social security benefits and pension payouts compared to past cohorts. It’s advisable to start a 401k or other savings account specifically for retirement as soon as you start a full-time job. Your 65-year-old self will thank you for having the foresight. 

Plan the splurges carefully.

Creating a stable future for your family isn’t just about spending money on the right things; it’s also about knowing when not to spend. There are times when you’ll want to splurge to treat the family to a vacation, concert, or other fun event. It’s important to know how these expenses will impact your financial standing later on. The cost may seem insignificant at the time but end up causing stress and anxiety later down the road. That’s why it’s important to plan these splurges well in advance so you’re not dipping into savings that are earmarked for something else.

Planning a financially stable future for your family isn’t rocket science. It does take some consistency, investment, and a lot of hard work, but it is doable. You’ll be much better off by implementing these tips as soon as possible.

Please visit Sara Bailey’s website, Thewidow.net, for more articles, resources and information.