Category Archives: School Age

Healthy Eating and Cooking with Children

by Molly Manley, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Coordinator

Looking for a way to learn and grow with your kids, while also promoting healthy eating? Get on your aprons, and get ready to whip up something delicious with your children or those in your care. Cooking with children can promote lifetime skills such as:

  • Basic Math – Cooking involves counting, addition, shapes, sizes, and measurements.
  • Science – Highlight growing food or changing forms, like liquids and solids.
  • Language – Conversations with children while cooking will increase their language development and ability to follow instructions. Creating simple recipe cards with instructions is also a useful tool. Obtain children’s books from the library that pertain to the type of foods they will be eating.
  • Art – Have children draw pictures of the foods they ate.  Ask them to create a picture by painting with yogurt, or glue cereal to a piece of paper.

GO ON A FOOD ADVENTURE

Cooking with children also encourages them to explore new foods and how food gets to our tables. Discuss where food comes from, plant a garden, or take a field trip to the grocery store or a farm. This will give them a better understanding of what they are eating.

It would also be a good idea to shop around for child size utensils, cups, bowls and pitchers. This will make it easier for the child to prepare and serve themselves. We are promoting self-help skills, and, if the child has a difficult time succeeding, it may prompt them to quit out of frustration.

TRY OUT A NEW AND FUN RECIPE

Below are three simple recipes to try with children.

Fruit and Yogurt Muffin

Ingredients:
1 Whole Grain English Muff
¼ cup of Yogurt- any flavor
¼ cup of fruit- bananas and berries work well

Directions:
Adult: Portion out yogurt and fruit for each child separately.
Adult: Toast English Muffin.
Child: Spread yogurt over English muffin using a spoon.
Child: Add fruit to top.

Pizza Rollups

Ingredients:
1 tube of crescent rolls
1 jar of pizza sauce
1 package of string cheese – cut into quarters (1 ounce each)
1 bag of pepperoni- cut into quarters, unless using minis

Directions:
Adult: Unroll crescent roll dough, separate into 8 triangles.
Child: Place 8 pepperoni pieces on each.
Child: Place a piece of cheese on the short side of the triangle.
Child: Roll up dough starting on the short side and pinch seams to seal.
Adult: Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Cook at 375 for 10-12 minutes

Serve with ¼ cup of warm pizza sauce
Makes a 8 roll ups.

Celery Snails

Ingredients:
1 bunch of celery –  washed and cut in halves
Apples –  cut into slices small enough to fit into celery
Peanut or Almond Butter

Directions:
Adult: Wash and cut celery and apples to appropriate size.
Child:  Spread peanut or almond butter on celery pieces.
Child: Insert apple into middle of celery.

Cover image by Flickr user Andrew Seaman, Creative Commons license.

summer-learning-gap

Closing the summer learning gap

by Jenny Mathis, School Age Specialist

In the blink of an eye, the school year is over and another summer is before you.  The majority of us out there are working parents, and we often have a hard balance to achieve in the summer: keeping kids safe, enriching their learning, and seeing that they have an enjoyable time.

If you’re like many parents, you secured a spot for your child at a local day camp or child care facility.   As a concerned and engaged parent, you may be wondering how your child will fare in the two months spent away from the formal education they received at school. Will they have an educational experience that will fill the gap of school?

Research shows all young people experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer, and most students lose almost two months of grade level equivalency in math computation skills 1.

While these stats are startling, you can do your part to help your child lessen these kinds of summer losses. Knowing these gaps exist is your first line of defense when it comes to helping your child.  Instead of relying on the summer camps and child care to help fill the gaps, you can help fill the gap by doing your part at home.  Parents are in fact their child’s original teacher, right?

The thought of trying to facilitate your child’s learning is probably the last thing on your mind after a long day at work. However, it may involve less effort than you think.

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD ENGAGED OVER THE SUMMER

Below are some simple strategies that you can use at home with your child:

  • Limit screen time. Set limits on how much television, computer, video game, and tablet time your child may spend, based on the amount appropriate for his or her age.  Encourage games and websites that are educational and interactive. The Minnesota Parent Center offers a page of links with websites that are parent-approved, safe, and educational.
  • Use practical applications to teach. Participate with your kids in everyday activities. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand. Let them help you cook dinner or bake a dessert.  Put them in charge of tasks while grocery shopping, such as keeping track of coupons or finding the lowest-priced item.
  • Encourage exploration and adventure (even if it’s only in your backyard)! Ask open-ended questions to spark your child’s curiosity.
  • Take your child places in your community. Local parks, museums, theaters, libraries, or zoos help children learn about the world around them.

As you can see, many of the strategies are things you are probably doing anyway. Why not capitalize on the experiences and turn them into teaching moments for your child? The benefits will be long lasting.

A wise man once said, ”Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Albert Einstein

Here’s to a summer of experiences and learning that lasts a lifetime!

 

1 National Summer Learning Association: http://www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts

Cover image by Flickr user Penn StateCreative Commons license.

 

Putting down screens and picking up a book

by Kristin Kahl, Knowledge Manager

Next week is a fantastic opportunity for families.  It’s both Screen-Free Week and Children’s Book Week! You read that right. I said fantastic opportunity, not scary-potential-for-disaster-when-my-kids-don’t-have-something-to-entertain-them-every-second.

I get it. As a working parent of 6- and 8-year-old boys, sometimes this mama just needs a minute of peace. Most of the time, the Kindle does a bang-up job of being my right-hand man to help me get a load of dishes or laundry done. The Wii (who lives in the quiet recesses of the faraway basement) is a great friend whenever the boys are snapping at each other, and I need a way to get a little quiet time.

This week is going to be different. So, I’m going to try to use entertainment other than screens for the kiddos. That’s where the books come in! The boys are old enough to be able to read on their own now. My 8-year-old is working his way through the Harry Potters and The Mysterious Benedict Society series. My 6-year-old feels like such a big kid when he reads the Magic Tree House chapter books. I think it’s also important for me to take some extra time out of my schedule to read with them. We have plenty of favorites I plan to break out, and many more waiting for us at the library.

Thankfully, I work with really wonderful experts who have some great suggestions:

 

 

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

What about you? Tell us about your favorite children’s book in the comments section below.

 

AN UPDATE FROM THE OTHER SIDE

Well, I’m proud to report that our family survived Screen-Free week. As luck has it, it rained just about every day last week. Also, my third grader reported it was the worst planning ever because it also collided with Star Wars Day (May the Fourth). That meant that all six of the original movies were on TV, and the poor kid had to wait to watch them. Yet, we managed to get in some great board game nights and family reading time.

My favorite moment was when my kindergartner decided he wanted to attempt to read The Mysterious Benedict Society like his big brother. Although he could pronounce all the words, he didn’t know what they all meant. So, my third grader sat down with him and acted as a human dictionary for a good while they read it together. It warmed this mama’s heart – thanks Screen-Free week!

Cover image by Flickr user Katie LevesqueCreative Commons license.

Lights on Afterschool – Celebrate Your Program!

lightson

Did you know…220,573 students are on their own in the hours after school right here in Indiana? 308,914 students would participate in an afterschool program if one were available to them!  These numbers highlight the need for afterschool programming in our state. Research confirms that high quality afterschool programs are having great impacts on children’s lives.
On October 20, 2016 , there will be a  highlight of this need across the nation. Lights On Afterschool is a celebration of afterschool programs nationwide.  On this day, programs are encouraged to highlight their programs and the importance they make in the lives of children, families, and communities. The events send a powerful message across the United States that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.
If you are an afterschool provider, you can register your event on the Afterschool Alliance’s website. This site also provides great ideas for how to promote your program and to simply celebrate!

You can also read more about Indiana statistics regarding the need for afterschool programs.

Child Care Answers also supports your afterschool program needs. Feel free to contact our School-age Specialist, Jenny Mathis, at jennym@childcareanswers.com with any questions.

Helping your Child Prepare for Going Back to School

by Jenny Mathis, School Age Specialist 

As a mom of a thirteen year old, I understand the struggle that can ensue after a long summer of staying up late, sleeping in late, and having little to no structure to the day. Like the rest of the parents out there, I recognize the potential stress that comes along with trying to get kids back on a school time schedule. One thing I have learned the hard way? Don’t wait until the weekend before school starts! You can’t expect a smooth transition without some lead time.  My best advice is to start early. By early, I mean at least one to two weeks before school starts.

Start the transition process by having a conversation with your child about the importance of settling back into a “school routine.” Like adults, kids need to understand the “why” behind change in order to embrace it and act on it. Let’s face it – if your kid is anything like mine, he will question it just because that’s his natural response to doing something that he doesn’t really want to do!  Once your child is aware of why the change is necessary, he can more easily accept it and take the steps needed to do so.

Start by gradually decreasing how long your child stays up at night. It can be a little challenging at first, because he might not feel sleepy and you may get the argument my son gives, “It’s still daylight out.” As the days the pass, the argument’s validity will fade along with the summer sun. Remember, research shows that school-age children need at least 10 hours a sleep a night.

Once you have a grasp on the bedtime, begin incorporating a wake-up time that is reasonable for your child when he returns to school. Initially, you may need to allow for more time in the morning until you can tweak the routine for what works best.

As you begin to help your child reestablish a morning routine, keep in mind your child’s habits regarding waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and personal hygiene. If you already know that your child will require a little more time, allow for it from the beginning. If, for example, your child struggles to pick out her outfit in the morning, start planning outfits the night before. Allow time for your child to eat a healthy breakfast and have some “wake up” time if your child isn’t able to get alert easily and quickly.  It can be stressful for a child, and a parent for that matter, to feel like they don’t have time to complete all the tasks that are required of them. The last thing you want for your child is to send them out the door to school already in a tiff from the morning!

So, start the process early, talk with your child about the transition, and be mindful of your child’s individual needs. Before long, you will be right back in the groove of things and have stress-free mornings and an eager learner to send off to school!

For more tips to help with the transition check out:

[1] Center for Disease Control

http://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep/

Cover image by Flickr user Ty HatchCreative Commons license.

Books to help your child learn to share

by Candice Wise, former Early Childhood Development Specialist and current Partnerships for Early Learners Inclusion Specialist

Llama llama time to shareThere comes a time when parents realize that one of the goals of parenting is to help their young child learn how to share with others.  There is no magical age that all children are willing to do this.  Some children will be willing to share at a very young age, while it takes others a little bit longer.  This can be somewhat alarming and frustrating for parents to understand when it is appropriate to expect their young child to share.  It may feel uncomfortable to hear your child grab and shout “Mine!” with siblings and/or peers on play dates.  When young children refuse to share their toys, they aren’t being selfish – they’re behaving typically.  Sharing is a skill that can take several years to develop.  Children struggling to share their possessions are common childhood experiences.

SHARE SOME “SHARING” BOOKS

One way you can help your child learn about sharing is through reading books about this topic.  Reading books about sharing will provide a fun and interactive bonding experience that will help your young child identify the importance and rewards of learning to share with others.  To make the most out of this experience, talk about the characters in the story and help your child identify how the characters solve conflict through the scenarios.  The following is a list of popular books that you can find at your local library or book store:

  • I Can Share by Karen Katz (Ages infant-5)
  • Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney (Ages 2-5)
  • Mine! Mine! Mine! By Shelly Becker (Ages 3-5)
  • Mine! A Backpack Baby Story by Miriam Cohen (Ages Infant-2)
  • Sharing How Kindness Grows by Fran Shaw (Ages 3-5)
  • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Ages 3-8)

Cover image by Flickr user Blue Skyz Studios, Creative Commons license.