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How To Celebrate National Bike Month With Your Kids

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Ask just about anyone and they can usually –and vividly — remember when they first learned to ride a bike!

It’s just something you never forget…

Learning to ride is fun!

Learning to ride is fun!

No matter how long it’s been since you hopped on a bike, National Bike Month provides the perfect reason to get back out there and ride again!

Here’s how to celebrate that amazing invention, the bicycle, with your kids… and start a new healthy habit as a family!

Getting Started

Begin by setting out the rules for safe biking. Even if your kids aren’t old enough to really remember everything you’re telling them, repeat the rules for safe biking to them every time you go out. When they see you following the same rules you’re telling them to follow, it will encourage them to do the same.

Teach them the following tips for safe biking:

  • Keep your tires well inflated – match the pressure that’s listed on the tire itself.
  • Inspect your brakes before setting out to make sure they’re aligned and working properly
  • Keep bolts, bearings, and chains greased
  • Wear a helmet at all times, making sure it fits you well and isn’t too loose
  • If you plan to ride at night, wear bright, reflective colors and use a light
  • For trail riding, stay on the right side, pass to the left and use your voice or a horn to alert people and other riders that you’re planning to pass
  • Use hand signals and obey traffic signals, always stopping at stop lights and stop signs
  • Make eye contact with drivers to be sure they see you
  • Ride with the traffic, not against it

Note: Before venturing out, add more reflectors to your bikes – and any clothes you’re wearing. And consider adding flashing reflectors to improve visibility

Set Your Course

To make National Bike Month a fun time for you and your kids, have a plan. Your activities will be determined, in large part, by the biking skills your kids have.

If, for example, you have young kids with little to no experience riding a bike, you’ll obviously be focused on teaching them how to ride a bike. Give them ample time to practice their new skill.

Older or more confident riders who may be up for a challenge might enjoy:

  • setting up jumps in the backyard
  • going “off-road” on nearby bike trails
  • holding a “bike rodeo” with the neighborhood kids where they can take part in:
    • obstacle courses
    • jumps
    • a “balance beam” made from lines drawn on the ground that riders need to stay within
    • “paper boy” – riders toss rolled up newspapers into targets such as large trash cans, baskets, tubs, etc.
    • slow races – points deducted for each time their foot hits the ground before the finish line (builds up their balance and coordination)

Riding a bike is a childhood rite of passage that you don’t want your kids to miss… so get on out there and ride with them!

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Tips on How to Choose a Great Summer Camp Program in Tucson

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Summer vacation means more free time for your little ones. For some children, this is a time to play and have fun. For others, it’s an opportunity to learn new skills and hone their studies.

As a parent, you want your kids to make the most of their summer vacation. And an excellent child care option you can consider are summer camps.

Summer camps can benefit your child in more ways than one. They can help in a child’s short-term and long-term development. They provide plenty of opportunities for children to have fun while developing certain skills.

Thinking about sending your little one to a camp during summer vacation? Here are some great tips to help you in choosing the best summer camp program.

Don’t overlook the fine points

little boy fishing

Make sure to choose a summer program with interesting activities

While there are several things to consider when choosing the right summer program, it’s important you don’t take the fine points for granted. It is true that the facilities, location, safety and activities are crucial things to consider. But, it is equally important to look beneath the surface of a summer program.

Good summer programs provide opportunities for children to learn new things about themselves. They are given the opportunities to explore unique and unfamiliar activities. When searching for a summer camp program, look for a program that can influence your child’s future.

It could be something which will nurture their personal growth and development. Or it could be something that will help them get a college admission, land a dream internship, and so on. Since this information is not something you can usually get from brochures, it would be best to conduct research.

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Reasons Why You Should Educate Children on the Value of Volunteering

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Raising kids isn’t easy…especially in a society that often seems so self-absorbed. (selfies, anyone?)

So how can parents help kids see beyond their own immediate interests and concerns?

By involving their children in opportunities to volunteer their time and energies towards helping others.

While volunteering benefits those on the receiving end – both the individuals and organizations served – it’s hard to quantify how much volunteering benefits the “giver” just as much…if not more.

When you give your child opportunities to help others through volunteering you’re also helping them learn:

Empathy

When looking for opportunities to volunteer, the closer your child can be to the end result (e.g. handing the sandwich to a homeless person not just making the sandwich) the more concrete their understanding will be of what they’re doing.

Which also leads to more engagement in the volunteering process.

Confidence

Children gain confidence when they see their own contributions make a difference in someone else’s life. Their success then encourages them to look for other ways they can contribute to their communities, building leadership skills they will take with them throughout their lives.

Cooperation

volunteer holding hand

Volunteer work can teach love and compassion

Social situations are the best way for children to learn social skills, and volunteering is no exception.

When a diverse range of individuals meet through volunteering, they have a common goal in mind, however different people will often approach the same task in a different way, which can potentially lead to conflict.

Children who witness – and participate in – the process of deliberation among the volunteers learn how important collaboration with others is to achieve the desired end result…helping individuals in need.

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Tips for Choosing the Right Preschool in Tucson, AZ       

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Choosing the Right Preschool

Choosing the Right Preschool

Preschool is an excellent place which can provide your child many wonderful learning experiences. It is in preschool they are given the opportunities to grow their abilities, develop essential skills and nurture cognitive learning and creativity.

There are plenty of preschools out there which promise the right balance between learning and having fun. This can make choosing a preschool for your child difficult. It’s crucial you find the school which offers the curriculum and programs that will meet the needs of your child.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Here are some tips you could use to guide you in choosing a preschool for your child.

Identify your goals

Before you start your search, it’s essential you determine the goals you want to achieve from sending your child to a preschool.

  • What do you want your child to get out their experience in preschool?
  • Do you want them to learn more about the fundamentals of academic education?
  • Do you want them to learn the alphabet and numerals right away?
  • Or you simply want them to gain experience and develop some skills from interacting with other children?

Determining the learning you want your child to gain from preschool will help you choose the right preschool for your kids.

List down your priorities

To help you with choosing a preschool for your child, make a list of your priorities. What factors do you consider as the most important? Do you need the preschool to be near your house? Or do you need it to be near your workplace? Do you need a morning or an afternoon program for your child? Are the food options also part of your decision-making? It’s crucial you figure out your deal breakers or non-negotiables to help you weed out some of your choices.

Seek recommendations from your friends and family

If you want to find the best preschools in Tucson, you can ask your friends and family for recommendations and feedback. This will help you gain an insight into the preschool’s reputation in your community. You may also consider reaching out to some of your peers whose kids are just about the same age as your child. Get some information on the program their children are currently enrolled in. Ask for their honest feedback. It will help you a lot.

Create a list of your preschool options

Based on the information you have gathered from your friends and family, start creating a list of your choices. To help you further narrow down your options, you may want to conduct research. Use the internet and check out each of the preschool’s websites. Learn more about their programs and curriculum. See if these are the things that you are looking for your child. Also take time to read the reviews online. If you can’t find them online, you may also get in touch with them through the phone.

Do a site visit

Once you have narrowed down your choices to a fewer number of preschools, it’s time to do a site visit. When you decide to see the preschool yourself, it would be much better if you bring your child with you. This will give you and your child a better sense of how the school feels in general. Allow your child to observe if they will be comfortable with the school’s environment. Watch how things work in the school. Observe how the teachers interact with the students. Do you think the school is going to be a perfect fit for your child? Do you see any safety concerns?

Consider your child’s needs

After your site visit, you may be pretty much decided on the preschool that you will choose for your child. But before you make the final decision, remember to put your child’s needs above everything else. If possible, choose the school that will make your child happy. Take their preference into consideration, too. After all, you want a preschool where your child will learn to love and enjoy learning.

It may not be easy to choose the right preschool for your child. But use these tips to get started and it will be much less stressful.

Looking for a preschool that is focused on your child’s holistic growth and development? Please consider our Tucson preschool.

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How to Celebrate National Nutrition Month at Home and School

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“Invest in Yourself – Buy Nutrition” was the theme for the first National Nutrition Month. It was created in 1973 by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA is known now as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It actually started as a week long to begin with, but has expanded to a full month to reach more people.

This month of awareness is meant to help everyone focus on the many benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, of which nutrition plays a key part.

There are a lot of ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month both at home and at school. Looking for the best way to help the information be effective and stick? Make it fun!

Here are a few ideas to help you get started.:

Create a theme for each week which focuses on a particular aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

For example:
Week One – MyPlate – what it is and how it can help you eat healthy food
Week Two – Why choose whole grains?
Week Three – How to read nutrition labels
Week Four – Get moving every day!

Supermarket scavenger hunt

Take a class field trip to the local supermarket (or parents, take your kids shopping with you) and make a game out of finding healthy food choices.

Using an “I spy” type of game, give the kids clues about the food you’re talking about.

For example, you could say, “I spy something orange, it grows in the ground and is a bunny’s favorite food”.
Or, “I see something that’s bright red, grows on a tree and is delicious in a pie.”
Another way to have fun learning about nutrition? Have the older kids come up with their own clues that they can then share with the younger ones!

Make your own plate

fruits and nuts

Find creative ways to achieve a balanced diet.

  • Using MyPlate as a reference, give each child three paper plates. Cut out images of food from magazines, or use some grocery ads.  Ask them to put together three healthy meals (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner).
  • Once they’ve completed their meals, discuss the reasons why they chose the foods they did.  When applicable, ask them what would have been a better option. Discuss portion size too!
  • Combine efforts where possible. Get the entire school or family involved in supporting your efforts. One way is to coordinate what you teach in the classroom – or at home – with the school nutrition staff.
  • In the cafeteria, focus on a healthy food choice each day. Hang up posters showing a particular food item. Include the nutritional benefits, and show suggestions on how to serve the food.
  • At home, use a new food each week – or several times per week – in your family meals to expand your child’s palate. This helps open up discussions about why some foods are healthier choices than others.

Note: The school’s website, social media, newsletters and morning announcements provide wonderful opportunities to share information and reminders about what makes a healthy food choice.

Volunteers

Think about people in your network who can add to the conversation about nutrition. Know a local chef? Ask them to come in and discuss how they prepare foods for their clients.  A physician or a personal trainer can discuss the impact of eating foods that give you energy.

Other ideas

Partner with the local library to provide nutritional education opportunities through story time events, coloring contests and/or activity sheets for kids.

Get kids involved in a food donation campaign to your local food pantry or shelter.

Put together a lesson plan discussing the science behind baking. Discuss what ingredients are needed, why they’re needed and what happens when they’re used.

Classroom and/or school vegetable projects. Have kids choose their favorite vegetable, and plant the seed in a small container. Have them take it home with them at the end of the school year so that they can plant it somewhere at home (assuming the season is right for planting!)

As you can see there are a lot of ways you can drive home the importance of a healthy lifestyle, while making it fun and memorable.

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Get Your Kids Talking about School with these 7 Tips

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Parents are always interested in what happens to their kids, especially when they start going to school. However, getting kids to talk about school is not as easy as it seems. Some children get defensive or intimidated when they are asked by their parents “how was school?”.

Are you caught up in this same dilemma and looking for the right approach on how to talk to kids and get them to open up? Here are some helpful tips to try!

Start with enthusiastic greetings

2 kids laughing

Create a good vibe to get your kids talking

Before you start trying to find out what happened today at school, start with giving your child an enthusiastic greeting as soon as you see them! You can use positive statements like “It’s great to see you!” or “I hope you had a great day!” This will keep you from making your child feel like they’re put on the spot with questioning.

Ask open ended questions

One of the rules you should follow to encourage your children to talk is to ask open-ended questions. Using this strategy is an excellent way to start a conversation and to keep it flowing naturally. Think about interesting conversation topics for kids and relate your questions to these topics. For example, since kids love to play, ask them to tell you about the games they played inside the classroom. You can even ask them to teach you how to play the game.

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Healthy Eating, Your Kids and National Snack Food Month

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February is National Snack Food Month. This is the perfect opportunity to show your kids how healthy snacks are the best snacks for their growing minds and bodies!

Let’s face it, kids aren’t always enthusiastic about healthy eating.

But both parents and educators know the more interested and involved a kid is with what they’re trying to do, the more enthusiastic and engaged they’ll be.

This makes for easy teaching and better retention – a win-win for kids and the ones teaching them!

And it is possible to get them interested in trying new foods – if you make “fun” the name of the game!

Here’s how:

national snack food month

They’re watching you

Like it or not, your kids are always watching what you do.

If they see Mom and Dad choose – and enjoy – healthy foods and beverages, they may be more open to trying something new.

Focus on the food’s benefits

Talk about the benefits of the food on your child’s plate, not the fact that it’s “healthy”. The idea that something is “healthy” is a distant concept for a child, especially young children. Tell them something like “the cheese will give you strong muscles” or “make you powerful”, or whatever phrase you think will appeal to your child.

If they have a favorite superhero or sports figure, try to find a way to tie their attributes (e.g. strength, speed, etc.) to the benefit of eating the food.

Eye appeal

Think color, crunch, and healthy fats.

Make the food as appealing to the eye as possible:

  • combine different colors
  • use different cuts (e.g. round disks vs thin strips)
  • try different flavors (mozzarella, cheddar)
  • cut and/or arrange into fun shapes

Make it a game

Take the kids grocery shopping. Ask them to help find vegetables and fruits in every color of the rainbow.

Once you’re home, have them help you prepare the foods for quick snacking options throughout the week. Bagging their own portions helps them feel more involved.

Let them decide

To get kids more excited about eating healthy foods give them several healthy choices for at least one of their meals.

For example, if it’s lunch time, let them choose among options such as pitas, wraps or English muffins made with whole grains. Offer lean ham, turkey or chicken and low fat cheese slices for the filling.

Let them help

Research has shown that kids who spend time in the kitchen will choose a wider variety of foods and tend towards decisions which are healthier.

Give your kids age appropriate tasks in the kitchen to expose them to all of the aspects of their food preparation. When possible, let them put together their own meals as they’re much more likely to eat their own creations!

Keep trying

Research has shown that it takes as many as 15 tries before a kid will try a new food. So if they turn their nose up at a new food, keep introducing it and eventually they will give it a try. Even if they don’t like it the first time they try it, over time their taste buds develop and change. They may grow to like it.

Snack ideas

There are thousands of great, healthy snack ideas for kids. Here are just a few:

  • “Ants on a log” (celery filled with peanut butter and raisins)
  • Fresh or canned fruit (canned in 100% juice) served with low fat yogurt
  • Low-fat cheese sticks or cubes
  • Whole grain crackers or rice cakes topped with peanut butter or thin cheese slices
  • Popcorn (air-popped)
  • Quesadillas (whole wheat tortilla stuffed with low-fat melted cheese)
  • Baked tortilla chips
  • Whole wheat pita bread with hummus
  • Fresh fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Homemade trail mix (portioned)

Set the rules

Give them beverage choices such as water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice (portioned) to keep them hydrated. Require they ask before they grab a snack.

To promote mindful eating, insist that snacks be eaten at the table or in the kitchen, not in front of the TV or computer.

Getting kids interested in eating healthy foods isn’t always easy, but it is always worth the effort!

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Cool Places to Visit in Tucson, AZ with your Preschooler

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cool places to visit with your preschooler

Planning a family vacation this year but not sure where to go? Consider visiting Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is one of the most ideal travel destinations for families with preschoolers. The weather is perfect, and there are plenty of amazing activities you can enjoy with your little one. Make it a memorable vacation for your entire family with these great places to visit around the city.

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

This museum is one place that your kids will love. Here you will see tiny cities and tiny houses! It’s also unique because inside you’ll also find a giant tree. To make the experience even more engaging, they also have a “find the fairy” game.

Children’s Museum Tucson

The Children’s Museum Tucson is another one of the fun places to go when you’re in Tucson. An excellent choice for kids of any age, it has a wide variety of interactive and hands-on exhibits. Here you’ll find special family events, as well as traveling exhibitions.

Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Are your kids fascinated by the planets, solar system, and other heavenly bodies? If so, the perfect place for your preschooler is the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium. This place showcases amazing Science exhibits. It has a Planetarium Theater that shows the wonders of the universe. It is also home to a variety of mineral collections in the world! There are plenty of games and activities you and your kids can enjoy here such as puzzles and a scavenger hunt. This place is highly recommended for your preschooler. Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium provides fun and enjoyment as well as a great learning experience for young children.

Funtasticks Family Fun Park

When you’re in Tucson, make sure you also take your preschooler for a trip to the Funtasticks Family Fun Park. A trip to this place means a day full of adventure and fun with go-karts, mini golf, laser tag, bumper boats, batting cages, arcade games and a lot more. There is also a special area where younger children can ride the kiddie roller coaster and drive the “rookie” go-karts. Indeed, this is one cool place to visit with your family when you’re around the city.

Reid Park Zoo

If your preschooler loves to see animals, you should plan a stop at Reid Park Zoo. The zoo is relatively small, but it is an excellent destination especially when you roam around the city in the morning. Your kids will certainly love the experience as they get to encounter giraffes, ride a camel and a zoo train and take the wildlife carousel. There’s also a water play area – the Kenya Get Wet – where kids can play during the warm and sunny days.

Saguaro National Park

Does your family love to explore nature? Saguaro National Park is a must-visit. The park offers a spectacular view of the native environment in Tucson. It features guided tours, hiking trails, and unique mountain and landscape views. Take part in the Junior Ranger Program for an enjoyable hike with your kids.

Yikes Toys

All kids (and most adults!) love toys, and they will be more than happy to visit a toy store. When you’re in Tucson, drop by Yikes Toys for a unique toy shopping experience. What makes this store different from the rest is they don’t sell the latest items advertised on TV. Instead, what they have are retro toys your parents wouldn’t probably buy you when you were younger. Sounds a little weird but it’s definitely going to be an interesting and exciting new experience for your children. You may even be tempted to buy a little something for yourself!

When it comes to recreational activities and attractions, Tucson will never disappoint. There are plenty of things to do and places to visit for everyone, even for your young children. And these sites also provide a good learning experience. If you are looking for a preschool that values your child’s education, please consider our Tucson preschool.