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August is National Eye Exam Month: 5 Ways Eye Health Affects Your Child’s Performance in School

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August is National Eye Exam Month, it is also the month most kids get ready to go back to school. With both things in mind, getting a comprehensive eye exam should be on your back-to-school checklist.

As a child’s body grows, their eyes go through changes. Sometimes, these changes are gradual. So gradual, that the child gets used to the change without noticing it. Your child may not have any problems with blurry vision or headaches. An annual back to school eye exam will ensure your child’s health, development and school performance. In the spirit of National Eye Exam Month. Here is how eye health affects your child.

School Performance

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Take your child for an eye test

The most obvious reason to have an annual exam is to ensure your child can do well in school. If your child cannot see at a distance, they will miss out on critical information presented on a board or screen. For kids who cannot see things close up, reading and written assignments become a challenge.

You may only detect a problem when your child’s grades start to slip. Having an annual exam will detect eye issues before school even starts. It should become a normal part of your back-to-school routine.

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Back to School Tips for Preschool Parents: 7 Ways to Help Your Child Settle In

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Kindergarten is the place where young children go to socialize and learn how to follow rules. Today preschool also takes on the roles of socializing, playing, and learning how to be in school. Preschool lays the foundation for success in kindergarten.

By age 5, research shows that 90% of a child’s brain has already developed. This statistic shows how vital preschool is to your child’s success. Preschool is for all young children. It has been shown to be especially beneficial poor and disadvantaged kids. The stress that accompanies disadvantaged children influences their cognitive development. Dual-Language learners also benefit from preschool.

back to school ideas for parents

Prepare your child to go back to school

Preschool is for all kids in 3- to 5-year age range. Some kids are exposed to rich language, books, and experiences. These kids are getting early learning all the time. Studies show that the connection between home and school is also important for children to get the most out of their preschool years.

The countdown to school should not begin in July. It should begin well before your child is preschool age. Reading to your child is one of the best activities to promote language development. Reading every day is one of the best activities you can do to prepare your child for preschool.

Transitioning to preschool can be difficult for kids and their families. As parents, it can be overwhelming to think about your small child heading off to school. The best thing we can do for them is to set them up for success. Going to school for the first time or going back to school after a break can be challenging. Preparing your child for these changes is vital to their success in those first days and weeks.

How do we accomplish this task? Check out these 7 back to school tips for preschool parents. Under each tip is a list of back-to-school ideas for parents.

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7 Ways Summer School Helps Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

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The jump from preschool to Kindergarten can be jarring for your little one. Summer school is a good way to ease the transition. The best thing you can do for your child is to allow them to continue their learning through the summer months. This will go a long way in preparing your child for Kindergarten.

Summer enrichment at a reputable Kindergarten prep program such as The Apple Tree Learning Centers has been proven to improve school performance, help with social development, and keep them excited to learn!

Here are 7 ways that a summer enrichment program prepares your child for Kindergarten.

1. Ride the Momentum of The School Year

Learning should not stop just because the school year is over. Throughout the school year your child has established a learning routine. There is no reason to let that momentum crash. A summer of learning will give your child an advantage going into Kindergarten.

2. A Summer School Program Introduces Children to a More Structured School Environment

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Summer school introduces school structure

Kindergarten classrooms require more of children than preschool does. A summer program introduces your child to the new environment and what will be expected of him or her.

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7 Ways to Enjoy National Ice Cream Month with Your Children & Stay Healthy

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July is National Ice Cream Month. This probably makes your kids very happy and your waistline a little concerned. It’s hot, and eating the cool treat sounds like a fun way to turn the temperature down. However, one cup of the dessert has about 260 calories and 14 grams of fat. How do you celebrate National Ice Cream Month and stay healthy at the same time? Chill out. It’s possible.

  1. Try Low Calorie Ice Cream

You don’t have to pack on the calories to enjoy your favorite icy delight. Many brands offer low-calorie versions of your favorite flavors. These alternatives aren’t always so healthy, though. They’re often loaded with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. After all, you have to replace the fat and calories with something else, right?

Eat This, Not That ranked Halo Top Vanilla as the best diet option out there. One pint contains 240 calories. You don’t have to challenge yourself to stop when you’re halfway through. Plus, it contains healthy fats, has no fake sweeteners and is low in sugar. Your kids won’t know the difference. Neither will you.

  1. Go For Low Sugar Ice Cream

When you cut back on sugar, you may end up consuming fewer calories. Plus, keeping sugar away from your kiddos can prevent them from turning into hyper little monsters.

So Delicious No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert is sweetened with natural stevia. It contains healthy fats from coconuts. You can feel good about feeding this to your family.

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7 Summer Reading Tips to Prevent Summer Brain Drain with your Preschooler

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Parents of preschoolers in Tucson, Arizona may be looking for reading tips to help their preschool student retain skills and knowledge over the summer break. These seven tips are only some of the ways parents can encourage their preschoolers to love learning even in the summertime.

Choose Read-Alouds That Connect with Summer Activities

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Read out loud with your kids

Part of making summer enrichment fun for your child is choosing preschool reading books about subjects he or she enjoys. One way to do this is to choose books about summer activities you plan to do, are currently doing, or have recently done. Going to the beach, camping, swimming in a pool, and having a picnic have all been the subjects of books for preschoolers. A children’s librarian can recommend others.

Create a Family History Book to Document Your Summer

By making a book together, your family can extend the love of reading into a love of writing and using one’s imagination. This summer preschool enrichment activity allows you and child to work together. Use things the family did over the summer, coming up with imaginative words and images to describe them. Then create a tangible keepsake that you and your child can re-read any time.

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June is National Great Outdoors Month! Tips on How to Celebrate it with Your Children

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June is National Great Outdoors Month, and what better way to create great summer memories with your family than by experiencing the beauty of nature together? But how can you, with little ones in tow, take advantage of all that June has to offer? Here are five fun suggestions to engage even the smallest of outdoor adventurers.

  1. Take Advantage of Your State Park’s Programming!

National Great Outdoors Month | The Apple Tree Learning Centers in Tucson

Playing outdoors is fun

Your local state park is a treasure trove of fun, family-friendly activities. Consider going to a Firefly Walk! June is a particularly active season for fireflies, known for dancing through the night air with their magical twinkling. If your family plans to go firefly-spotting, plan ahead! Some parks, such as the Smokey Mountain National Park, are in such high demand that you must enter a lottery for admission to the perfect viewing ground. If parks strike your fancy, be sure to pick up a “Park Passport” from the park gift shop. Your child will not only be able to keep memories from your trip, but will delight in collecting unique stamps in their passport from all the parks you visit.

  1. Find Treasure….Go Geocaching!

Any child can tell you that there is a thrill in searching for buried treasure, but who would have thought that it could be educational experience? Geocaching is the perfect fusion of technology and nature. Using a downloadable phone app or GPS-supported device, your task is to navigate your way to a hidden box containing a “treasure” left by the last Geocacher. If you decide to take the treasure you find home, you must leave something of equal value for the next group to discover. And who knows where your hunt may lead you? Cache boxes may be hidden anywhere from a friendly suburb to a mountain summit! When home, you and your little adventurer can log your finds on geocaching.com together.

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5 Summer Enrichment Ideas for Your Preschooler … in Tucson!

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Summer break is an exciting time for children. As a parent, you might worry about finding the best summer enrichment activities. The early years of childhood are crucial in child development. During this time, the young brain learns how to interact with the world and constantly absorbs new information. Parents must find activities that enhance the child’s mental and physical growth. Below are some suggestions for enrichment for your preschooler in Tucson.

Preschool Enrichment at Museums

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Museums are great for exploration

Spending time with your child at local museums is a rewarding summer enrichment activity for both parent and preschooler. The National Endowment for the Arts website emphasizes the benefits of regular visits to different museums. These experiences introduce preschoolers to a broad range of topics. This encourages children to ask questions and think creatively.
The Children’s Museum in Tuscon offers many exhibits for kids. Preschoolers learn about technology, art, the human body and safety among others topics. Most of these exhibits are interactive making this the perfect summer enrichment activity. During the summer months, the museum lowers Sunday prices and offers special programs. These programs teach science, technology, art, math and engineering. Wee Play, Wee Wiggle and Wee Explore are extra preschool classes offered each week.

Also in Tuscon is the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. This museum fascinates children. They display a variety of tiny statues and landscapes. The three permanent collections expose preschoolers to history, world cultures and fantasy lands. The museum also periodically shows traveling collections. The Tiny Tales program for youngsters is a monthly story and sing-along program. Afterwards, children take part in arts and crafts. For affordable summer enrichment, there is a discount on family summer passes.

Exploring Nature with Your Preschool Student

Support your child’s development by encouraging outdoor activities and spending family time in nature. Researchers like Hannah Mills Mechler, a child education expert, have discovered the benefits of preschoolers participating in summer enrichment outings in nature. Children begin to ask questions about the world around them and start to understand their part in it. Plus, nature walks provide good physical exercise and practice walking on uneven terrain.

Hiking with young children has its challenges, but the Sabino Dam East trail is perfect for preschoolers. It begins with a visitor’s center with informative displays, water fountains and bathrooms. The actual trail is completely paved and a little over a mile to the dam. Preschoolers can experience nature and ask questions without worrying about difficult terrain. At the dam, they can cool off with their feet in the water before going back.
Another outdoor summer enrichment idea is the Reid Park Zoo. They have a wide selection of animals so it is likely that your child can see his or her favorites. One main walking loop features most of the habitats like rhinos, lions, zebras, brown bears and otters. There are also two separate loops, one for South American animals and another for elephants. Children enjoy seeing the camels and can even go for a ride on one. The indoor learning center teaches preschoolers about conservation and animal life. Throughout the day, zookeepers also give informational talks while feeding the animals.

Pretend Play and Summer Camp

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Pretend play stimulates imagination

Finally, preschoolers start to engage in pretend play involving costumes and story lines. Live theater and guided pretend play help children’s brains become quicker and more adaptable to new ideas. Plus, these fun shows help develop a child’s creativity.

In Tuscon, Trail Dust Town is a favorite summer enrichment activity. This is a wild west themed shopping center and small amusement park. Stunt shows amaze children, and they always enjoy the train ride through the replicated historical western town. Other attractions include a haunted house, fortune telling station and shooting gallery.

The above suggestions are some of the many ideas for enrichment for your preschooler in Tucson. Other more traditional ideas include summer camp at facilities like The Apple Tree Learning Center where they keep children engaged in fun learning activities. No matter what summer enrichment ideas you choose, your child will have an entertaining and educational break.

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May is National Foster Care Month

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May is National Foster Care Month. This month is set aside to recognize the individuals and families who give their time, their resources and their homes to children who are going through the most difficult times of their life.

Foster Parents

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Open your home to foster children

Most people would have a difficult time letting a stranger in their home to shower, sleep and eat. It would be the equivalent of picking up a homeless person and taking them home. You know nothing about this person except what you can see and perhaps what they have told you.

For foster parents, the person is a child. This child may have severe mental or physical trauma that is not apparent to the naked eye. Emotional damage may be hidden under layers of disdain, hatred and aloofness. Now imagine that you open your home, your family and your heart to this child. Is that hard to imagine? That is what foster families do every day. It is all about placing your fears and doubts aside to meet the needs of a child who has nobody else to turn to.

National Foster Care Month

May is the time to bring awareness to foster care. Foster parents are honored during this month. The need for more families to volunteer is brought to the forefront of the public eye. The needs of the foster care families are recognized. Resources are introduced to help meet the needs. After all, foster care is more than just opening your home up to a child in need. Foster care awareness is critical to help families and communities meet the needs of the children and the families that care for them.

Where to Find Help

Many people caring for children do not know that there are resources available to help them. Respite babysitting services, community clothing closets, support groups and even activities and sports programs for the children are all in place to help families foster these children. However, the problem is that not all families know about the resources available. During May, resources of all kinds are brought to the forefront in an attempt to help families caring for foster children.

Grandparents, aunts and uncles are often kinship caregivers. This means that they have assumed the role of caregiver since the parents of the child are not an option. Often, this causes a change in family dynamics. An adult child may resent the grandparent becoming the primary caregiver of their child. Maybe a grandparent does not know what to do about things like medical care, legal issues with the school, etc. Resources like

The Grandkin Guide can help grandparents to navigate the legal system, family issues and the new role of caregiver.

Such resources are critical to helping foster care families cope with the changes that come from having a new child in the home. Online resources, support groups, financial aid and more can all be beneficial for the care of foster children. Whether kinship care is decided between family members or set up by child welfare services, there is no reason to feel alone and adrift in this new circumstance. Help is available.

Why is Public Awareness so Important?

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Get educated about foster care

Foster care is often shown in a negative light. News stories of tragedies, rumors of greed and horror stories from former foster children get the spotlight, while great foster successes go unheralded.

Care of these children must be brought to the public in a positive light. People will remember success stories of foster children who went on to college and beyond. Foster parents who go above and beyond to help children find their passions, like painting or horseback riding, should be highlighted and commended. The children should have their success stories shared, just like in a traditional family. These children can thrive if the parents have the resources available to help them. Even severe mental and physical abuse of the past can be overcome with love and support from foster parents who really care.

Foster care takes a whole community to be successful. Outreach groups, support groups, legal and financial help, respite caregivers, teachers, child welfare advocates – everyone must work hand-in-hand with the foster caregivers to ensure these children are protected, loved and given the chance for a successful, happy life.

Use May as the month to educate yourself about the foster care system and how you and your community can help these families. A community picnic, a toy or clothing drive, volunteering your time or even offering your talents (like free piano lessons) – there are plenty of ways you can help with foster care. The keyword is ‘care’.