Monday, May 16

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Wednesday, May 4

A to Z: 12 Hacks for Traveling with Kids

Summer is on the horizon, which means family vacations are being strategically planned and plotted!  While making memories as a family is important, traveling can be taxing. Take some of the stress out of your summer travel plans with these simple parenting hacks!

  • Make sure your vehicle has a first aid kit with all the basics.
  • Keep kids entertained with a travel binder stocked with pencil cases, paper, coloring sheets, worksheets, crossword puzzles, etc. The binder not only keeps everything contained, but acts as a portable writing desk.
  • Play the license plate game or road trip bingo with these free printables!
  • Bring audiobooks that the whole family can enjoy while riding in the car.
  • Tether sippy cups to car seats, making sure the length of string is long enough for use, but short enough to not be hazardous.
  • Purchase suction cup shower caddies and attach to the car window for a place to store small toys, crayons, etc.
  • Leave the expensive stroller at home. Cheap strollers are usually much smaller, lightweight, and won't be missed if they’re stolen at the amusement park.
  • Pack small trinkets and snacks into a paper bag for each child. As a reward for their patience and cooperation, hand these out during a halfway point or once you reach your destination.
  • Freeze juice boxes to keep them cold and refreshing during travel. As a bonus, they’ll keep other snack items cool and refrigerated.
  • If you’re worried about spills and stains, cover your car’s seat upholstery with an old bed sheet. If dirty shoes are a potential problem, bring plastic grocery bags or a pack of shower caps to keep shoe pairs together and contained.
  • Keep out crumbs and gunk by putting muffin liners in cup holders.
  • If you’re headed to a friend or family member’s house, travel light by packing clothing in vacuum-sealed bags. Just borrow the vacuum before heading home!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, May 2

SNACKTIME: Child-Friendly Vegetable Salads

Fruits and vegetables provide enormous health benefits, but little ones may find it challenging to meet the recommended number of daily servings for each. In fact, national surveys indicate that most children do not consume enough vegetables, and that about one-third of the vegetables children did eat were mostly from potatoes, such as French fries or chips.

The following strategies can be helpful to get your child to eat a variety of healthy vegetables. It may take some time, but encouragement and a little imagination will increase the odds.

Start Small - Mix familiar salad greens with one or two new veggies.

Color is Appealing - Children naturally navigate towards red, so try red cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, and even red beets. Carrots also come in a variety of colors including purple. Identifying colors can become a fun game and take pressure off eating.

Shape - Get creative with cubes, sticks, and Julienne sliced vegetables. Special peelers can create visual interest with creative swirls and curly cues.

Size is Key - Bite size pieces are easier for small mouths to manage. Carrot or celery sticks are favorite finger foods and dip easily.

Salad Dippers - Homemade or store bought, dips can help veggies get eaten. A creamy salad dressing, bean dip (hummus), or a cheese dip can entice little ones to try new vegetables.

Sweet - A bit of natural sweetness added to salad greens, such as apples, berries, jicama, mandarin oranges, or melon balls can help stimulate appetites.

Getting kids to eat a variety of vegetables from the rainbow diet can be fun!

Contributed by Leslie K. Kay-Getzinger, Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services

Monday, April 25

A to Z: 7 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Brain Active During Summer

When you’re a school-age child, there is possibly nothing better than the freedom of summer vacation. While this annual break from the daily grind is fun and exciting, the loss of structure and stability of the school routine can be a concern for some parents. Studies have shown that most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math and reading during the summer break. A great solution for keeping your child sharp during the summer months is enrolling him or her in a quality summer program (none better than Fairmont Summer Programs, of course!).
Summer schools, educational camps, and enrichment workshops are great ways to keep kids active, structured, and learning while school is out. In addition to enrolling in a great summer program, here are several more strategies to keep your child safe from the summer brain drain!

  • Find free classes or workshops in your community that interest your child. Visit your local library for summer reading challenges, children’s events, and youth classes.
  • Start a family book club. Choose several age and level appropriate books for your family to read over the summer. Schedule time to gather, discuss the books, and ask questions of the characters and plot. Click here for reading recommendations!
  • Plan educational outings to museums, historical sites, and cultural events. Encourage your child to study up on the history of the places you’ll visit, and have conversations about the significance of the people, places, and events that occurred.
  • Bring your child into the kitchen when it’s time to make meals. Showing him or her the ways of the kitchen not only teaches basic cooking concepts, but also reinforces math concepts like addition, subtraction, and fractions.
  • Research some online educational games or apps for your child to play during downtime. If you’re traveling this summer or you know your child will have a lot time when he or she will need to be still (at mom’s work or dad’s desk), games that promote mathematics skills and reading comprehension are beneficial.
  • Make time to do lots of experiments this summer. Activities and experiments that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) concepts will engage curiosity, creativity, and draw on math and science topics learned in school. Click here for a curated list of STEM activities!
  • Do lots of arts and crafts. Encouraging creativity in your child opens the door for exploration and builds upon the concepts covered during the school year. Click here for arts and crafts inspiration!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, April 18

CHALK TALK: Help Your Child Learn a Second Language

Learning a second language can be a challenging and daunting experience for adults. Children, however, are linguistic sponges soaking up all the sounds and vocabulary necessary to decipher and transmit meaning. With a growing global ethos and more opportunity than ever for people to travel outside their home country, foreign languages are taught or at least encouraged in most public and private elementary schools. Even if your child isn’t exposed to a foreign language during primary education, he or she will most likely be expected to fulfill high school and college foreign language requirements.

Scientists have proven that establishing proficiency in a second language becomes more difficult later in life. While experts say that a basic capacity for language is guaranteed in all infants, the interest and skill level beyond this baseline are differentially distributed depending on the individual. As a child acquires a specific language, he or she use the same brain tissue when acquiring a second language. However, this changes as the child’s brain matures and transitions into adulthood. Once the tissue initially used in language acquisition has matured, learning a second language becomes difficult because the brain utilizes a completely different area to learning and process the new language. Thus, for most adults, learning a new language is formidable and time consuming.

With the growing push for bi and multilingualism, preparing your child for a second language will only benefit as he or she begins formal education. Give them a boost by exposing your children to a second language at home! If you or your spouse speak another language fluently, frequently engage with your child in that language. If you are monolingual, learn a language with your child. There are hundreds of free and low-cost language learning applications such as Little Pim, Gus on the Go, and Kinder App, as well as audio files and books that can be purchased or borrowed from your local library. Expose your child to music, movies, and other digital media presented in a different language. Once your child has grasped some vocabulary, allow him or her to engage in cultural experiences. Attend a local festival or restaurant that is specific to the region of where the language is spoken. The key is repetition and stable exposure as your child begins to grasp the complexities of their native language and a second language.

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, April 11

BOOK REPORT: Welcome Spring with These 5 Children's Books

Winter has passed and spring is here. Welcome the new season with these five children’s books! Reading aloud with your child helps to boost vocabulary, sentence fluency, and overall comprehension. Use one of the following books to spark a conversation with your child about their favorite flower, how the seasons change, planting a garden, and more.

Secret Garden.jpg
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Gardener.jpg
The Gardener, Sarah Stewart

Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney

Compost Stew.jpg
Compost Stew, Mary McKenna Siddals

Peter Rabbit.jpg
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter

Click here to learn more about improving your child’s reading skills! Discover great reading recommendations on Fairmont’s Literary Genius Pinterest board!

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools
Images by GoodReads

Wednesday, March 30

SNACKTIME: A Child’s Garden - Lessons in Nutrition, History, and Art

While science and ecology might be the obvious garden subjects, a school or home garden can also provide an environment to support lessons in math, history, art, and social skills.

Science and nutrition:  Nurturing plants from seed to harvest is exciting! Eating a tomato grown in your own garden is rewarding! Eating fruits and vegetables may contribute to the prevention of many diseases, however children often do not eat enough of these foods. Participating in gardening increases awareness of where healthy foods come from, resulting in increased consumption of fruits and vegetables during early childhood and adolescents.

Research shows that students participating in garden activities may reap many benefits, such as
  • A willingness to taste new fruits and vegetables, especially among younger children
  • An increase in overall fruit and vegetable intake
  • An improvement in nutrition knowledge
Overall, children that gardened were more willing to eat nutritious food, try unfamiliar food, had a greater likelihood of cooking and gardening, and expressed a greater appreciation for other individuals and cultures.

Social skills: Additional benefits of gardening include the ability to improve life skills, including working with groups and self-understanding.

History: Children can discover the origins of gardening and design around the globe, from pre-historic forest making to agricultural and ornamental processes.

Art: Garden art nurtures creativity and imagination. Children can create their own planter boxes, paint a garden sign, or add character with small personal touches (colored glass, sea shells, etc).

Contributed by Leslie K. Kay-Getzinger, Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services
Image by Dr. Willard’s