Many families look to the new year as a time to reset their eating habits and focus on making healthier choices. However, adults aren’t the only ones who could use a menu refresh as children may also need to focus on healthier food choices. Consider these low-sugar ideas for meal and snack times to help control the amount of added sugar you and your family consume.
Refresh Your Child’s Diet with Low-Sugar Options
(Family Features) Many families look to the new year as a time to reset their eating habits and focus on making healthier choices. However, adults aren’t the only ones who could use a menu refresh as children may also need to focus on healthier food choices.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed children consume an unhealthy amount of added sugar every day. Researchers found nearly all of the toddlers in their study ate an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar daily – the equivalent of a candy bar. Additionally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, excess sugar consumption can lead to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“Small children have small stomachs,” said Courtney Hines, a nutritionist for KinderCare Learning Centers, which care for more than 165,000 children around the country every day. “You want them to fill up on nutrient-dense foods, not empty calories in the form of added sugar. When children consume lots of sugar, their palates get used to overly sweet flavors. They may not accept other, less sugary flavors or learn to appreciate the natural sweetness of a piece of fresh fruit.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the consumption of added sugar for children under the age of 2. Children ages 2-18 should aim for less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugar per day.
For families that want to cut down on the amount of added sugar in their diets, Hines recommends cooking more at home, relying less on processed, packaged foods and serving only water or milk for beverages.
Consider these low-sugar ideas for meal and snack times to help control the amount of added sugar you and your family consume.
Swap Out Syrup
For more ideas to introduce your children to healthy habits from a young age, visit kindercare.com.SOURCE:
Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored” from the kiddos, consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors.
Simple STEM Activities to Do at Home
(Family Features) Winter is the season for family gatherings, snow days and breaks from school and work, but all this time indoors can lead to a serious case of cabin fever for both children and adults. Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored,” consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors.
Each activity idea from the experts at KinderCare can help children build foundational skills they’ll need for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas so you can combine fun and learning.
For more activity ideas, visit kindercare.com.SOURCE:
This time of year, family life can get a little messy. School schedules and sports activities mix with work commitments, and before long the house is as cluttered as the calendar. With these tips, you can make small changes to help you get organized and stay that way.
Tips for Maintaining an Organized Home
(Family Features) This time of year, family life can get a little messy. School schedules and sports activities mix with work commitments, and before long the house is as cluttered as the calendar.
Fall is the perfect time of year to recommit to an organized household so you can keep the chaos contained. With these tips, you can make small changes to help you get organized and stay that way.
Embrace routines. The idea of dedicating large chunks of time to organizing and tidying the house can be overwhelming. However, making time to clean as you progress through the day can help control clutter and keep the time commitment more manageable. Commit to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner each night. Set expectations for kids to pick up their rooms before bed. Before long, routines become productive habits that make a visible difference.
Purge the excess. Over time, nearly everyone collects too much stuff, and clutter is often more an indication of too much volume than poor organization. Items are purchased to replace outdated things, but the old pieces sometimes don’t actually get discarded. Getting control of your clutter starts with eliminating the things you no longer want or need. A good strategy is to create piles of items: keep, sell, donate and discard.
Create a drop zone. In most homes, the entryway is a catchall for family belongings that get shed with each pass through the door. It’s convenient to have shoes, coats, backpacks and other essentials ready to grab as you head out, so instead of fighting the inevitable jumble, find a way to organize it. A stylish drop zone using ClosetMaid’s Space Creations organizers is a solution that attractively contains all those essentials. The line includes a range shelving kits, complementing drawers, baskets, rods and more so you can customize the storage unit to your exact space and needs.
Avoid junk piles. Nearly every home has at least one junk pile, drawer or even room. In most cases, the reason is that the contents are a mish-mash of items that don’t really have any place else to go. Make a point to identify ways to create order, whether it’s adding drawer inserts to contain all the odds and ends or buying a standing file to capture bills and mail.
Be mindful about use. When you’re on a mission to eliminate excess clutter, it can be tempting to go overboard putting things away. It’s important to be realistic about where you store the things you need and err on the side of keeping the things you use regularly within reach. This may mean getting creative about how you organize or even adding new storage containers or furniture, but remember being organized is only helpful if it’s also practical.
Find more ideas for better home organization this busy season at ClosetMaid.com.SOURCE:
While you're busy shopping for pencils, book bags and notebooks, remember that a good night's sleep should also be at the top of your list this season. Make the transition easier with these five tips.
5 Tips to Aid Performance in the Classroom
(Family Features) With all the stress of a new school year, it can be difficult for students to readjust to a healthy routine, but many experts agree that sleep is among the most important parts of that routine. Numerous studies demonstrate that children who sleep better learn better.
While you're busy shopping for pencils, book bags and notebooks, remember that a good night's sleep should also be at the top of your list this season. Make the transition easier with these five tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program and a sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm:
Ease into earlier bedtimes. For many children, the sudden shift to an earlier bedtime and wake-up call can pose a big challenge. Children who were accustomed to falling asleep later at night during the summer will have to slowly adjust their body clocks to move bedtime earlier during the school year. To ease children into the earlier sleep schedule, start moving bedtimes earlier by 10-15 minutes each night until reaching your end goal.
Ensure a comfortable sleeping environment. Pay attention to factors like lighting and noise. It may be necessary, especially early in the school year when the days are still long, to add blackout curtains to help block bright light. If noise is a factor, consider adding some soft background music or a sound machine to serve as a buffer so other noises are less intrusive.
Be sure the bed is up to the task. Another environmental consideration is the bed itself. Mattresses are not always top-of-mind as you consider back-to-school shopping, but when sleep can have such an impact on your child's educational performance, the right mattress can help ensure students are getting quality zzz’s at the start of a new school year.
Avoid bright light prior to bedtime. Aside from your window, there are also other sources of light that can affect sleep. Several studies have shown that excess screen time just before bed can have a negative impact on the brain’s ability to transition into sleep mode. Try curbing screen time well before bedtime, or if your child must use screens, engage the night-reading feature, which alters the hue of the light for less impact.
Develop a consistent nighttime routine. A routine performed 20-30 minutes prior to bed every night can subconsciously ease children’s brains into sleep. A ritual that involves bathing, brushing teeth, talking about the day’s events, discussing what’s ahead for tomorrow and quiet time with a book are all ways to unwind together and slow down those active minds for a transition toward a peaceful night’s rest.
Remember that sleep is vital for memory retention and cognitive performance. Without it, children may experience behavioral problems and other difficulties in school. Find more resources to help improve your kids’ sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but science at play. Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science.
Science Made Magical
(Family Features) When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but scienceat play. Observing the laws of physics or chemistry can, at first glance, seem too fantastical to be explained, but science can explain a lot.
These moments serving as creative ways to engage kids in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning may be one of the best tricks of them all. STEM touches many aspects of daily lives, and finding the connections between the classroom and the “magical” STEM moments of day-to-day life can inspire children and pique their interests in these topics.
Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science:
Knowing how the magic works doesn't necessarily make these tricks any less fun, and these simple tricks help teach children how STEM plays a role in everything, including fun and games. Another way to encourage children with STEM at an early age is encouraging them to participate in a program such as ExploraVision, the only STEM-related competition of its kind. It allows kids of all ages to create ideas for new technological innovations in response to current real-world issues. Participants work on their projects to supplement their science education, while also developing problem-solving, analytical and collaboration skills.
Parents and students can learn more about the competition and how to enter, and teachers can find free tips for engaging students, at exploravision.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The school year should be filled with playing, learning and growing, but for many children who face hunger, even basic staples like milk are missing. From the kitchen to the classroom, kids in your own community may be missing out on essential nutrients they need to be set up for success this fall.
Help Kids Falling Short on Nutrients They Need this School Year
Milk is one of the most requested, but least donated items at food banks, meaning children in need may be missing out on essential nutrients
(Family Features) The school year should be filled with playing, learning and growing, but for many children who face hunger, even basic staples like milk are missing. According to experts, one out of two kids ages 9 and up fall short on calcium, vitamin D and potassium – essential nutrients they need to grow strong. Milk is the top food source for these nutrients, and the likelihood of kids missing out is even greater when they don’t have access to fresh, nutritious foods like milk.
More than 46 million Americans – including 12 million children – are served by Feeding America® food banks each year. From the kitchen to the classroom, kids in your own community may be missing out on essential nutrients they need to be set up for success this fall.
Here are a few ways you can help kids facing hunger:
Since it began in 2014, The Great American Milk Drive has delivered more than 1.8 million gallons of milk – more than 28 million servings – to food banks across the country. Learn more about milk’s nutrition and the need for milk in food banks at milklife.com/give.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Finding the right preschool or care provider for your child doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Because your child’s early years are crucial in his or her development, choosing the right child care facility is one of the most important decisions you can make to prepare him or her for both school and adult life. While most parents start the process by asking friends and family for recommendations, keep these tips in mind when searching for a child care center.
How to Choose the Right preschool
Things to consider when researching child care providers
(Family Features) Finding the right preschool or care provider for your child doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Because your child’s early years are crucial in his or her development, choosing the right child care facility is one of the most important decisions you can make to prepare him or her for both school and adult life.
While most parents start the process by asking friends and family for recommendations, keep these tips from the child care experts at KinderCare in mind when searching for a child care center:
Find Locations Along Your Existing Commute. The rhythm of drop-off and pick-up will soon become a reality of your days, so take into account how a new routine will impact traffic and drive times during your commute. Looking into child care facilities near your home or office, or along your route, can be a sanity saver, especially on those mornings when you’re rushing out of the house behind schedule.
Do Your Research. Child care has come a long way in the past couple decades, and nationally accredited centers like KinderCare can provide everything your child needs to reach his or her potential. Awarded by an independent organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, accredited centers meet rigorous standards in everything from teacher qualifications to curriculum to safety. A simple search online can provide a list of accredited centers near your location of choice.
Make a List of Requirements. Before you tour a facility, it can help to find your focus. Make a list about what you need from a program, what you want for your child and any concerns you may have, no matter how large or small. For example, consider potential concerns like kindergarten preparation, teachers’ management of conflict between children and more. Use your preferences to guide conversations when you’re ready to take tours.
Take Tours. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few preferred facilities or programs, schedule tours to check out the spaces, meet the directors and watch how the teachers interact with the children. Keep your requirements in mind and look for clean, safe facilities that focus on nutrition and encourage exploration and reading while building a sense of belonging. If you’re still on the fence or need more information about one or more centers, don’t be afraid to go back for a second visit and ask more questions to ensure you’re picking the right place for your family.
Trust Your Instincts. After taking tours, you may have a lot of information to process. Narrowing down what’s right for your family can seem overwhelming at first, but asking yourself questions such as these can help you in the long run: Did you feel listened to, heard and understood? Was the center warm and welcoming? When in doubt, trust your gut. This is your child, after all, and you know him or her best.
Find more tips and information to help pick the perfect child care center at kindercare.com.SOURCE:
For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins – and ends – with a bus ride. These tips provide parents with some additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.
School Bus Safety 101
(Family Features) For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins – and ends – with a bus ride. While the school bus is the safest way to travel to and from school, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), it’s important for parents to teach their children how to stay safe in and around the school bus as obstructed views, distracted drivers and more can put kids at risk.
These tips from the experts at NAPT and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) provide parents with some additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.
Before the Bus Arrives
On the Bus Ride
Leaving the Bus
For more information and additional school bus safety tips, visit BetterOurBuses.com.
An Alternate Form of Transportation
Many school districts are moving away from diesel buses in favor of buses powered by an alternate fuel, like propane, which offers numerous benefits for school districts and their students.
In fact, school buses powered by propane transport approximately 928,000 students to and from school every day at more than 840 public and private school districts in 48 states, according to a vehicle registration report compiled by PERC using IHS Polk new vehicle registration data.
“There’s a lot to like about propane school buses for community stakeholders and school officials, and school districts across the nation continue to take notice,” said Michael Taylor, PERC director of autogas business development. “Compared to other fuels, propane school buses are quieter and offer reduced emissions. Plus, they cost less for the district to operate, so schools can put more money back into the classroom where it helps students most.”
Start a discussion with your children’s school district about exploring a switch from diesel buses to cleaner alternatives by first downloading resources including fact sheets, videos, a toolkit and more at BetterOurBuses.com.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images (Bus driver with girl, Two girls talking on bus)SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council
Interested in Publishing on The Parenting IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!