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100 Websites that Make Learning Fun

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comutergamesLearning new things doesn’t have to be a chore; in fact, by employing the right tactics your kids can actually have quite a bit of fun while they learn. Take a look at these 100 websites that are filled with games specifically designed to help your child enjoy learning, no matter what age he is.

Preschool

Developmentally, preschoolers are learning shapes, colors, letters, letter sounds and simple math. The 25 sites listed here will make it fun for your child to learn and practice these concepts.

  • Starfall. Using games, pictures and verbal clues, your child can learn the alphabet, what sound each letter makes and how to read.
  • PBS Kids. Games based on your child’s favorite PBS cartoon are available on this site and will help your child learn to read.
  • Fisher Price. Your child can learn shapes, letters, colors, numbers and more with the entertaining games found here.
  • Fun Brain. This site is full of math games, reading games and games that are just for fun.
  • Cookie. Creative ways to learn colors, numbers, letters and more are included to keep your kids learning and laughing.
  • Scholastic. Letter matching, sound matching and beginner reading are all available on this trusted site.
  • Disney Junior. These entertaining games feature some of your child’s favorite cartoon characters, and he won’t even realize that he’s learning to use strategy and problem solving while playing them.
  • Sheppard Software. This creative website contains games that will teach your child about various types of animals and where they live.
  • Jayzee Bear. Your child can work on memory skills or learn letters and numbers by playing one of the many games offered here.
  • Nick Jr. Encourage your child to play these games to learn how to use the mouse on the computer and other developmentally important skills.
  • Poisson Rouge. Let your child learn by exploring the rooms of the castle and clicking on various items to determine what each item is.
  • Kneebouncers. Number recognition, colors, shapes and even sight words are available for young learners. Try this site for free for the first month.
  • Learning Games for Kids. Encourage your child to be creative and learn more about colors by playing the color mixing game.
  • Sprout Online. Play the search and find game throughout carrot castle and have the kids work on abstract thinking and shape recognition.
  • A Kid’s Heart. Color sorting and shape work can be done on this website.
  • Meddy Bemps. Your child can work on spacial awareness, matching and more with the help of this site.
  • Bob the Builder. Children can learn about construction equipment and virtually build projects with Bob and the other machines.
  • Kids Psych. This site has learning games that are appropriate for kids ages 1 to 9.
  • NGA. Let the kids learn about art and explore making their own abstract artwork online using this activity on National Gallery of Art.
  • Seusseville. Young children can learn cause and effect by playing the balancing game or one of the other entertaining games on this site.
  • Webkinz. The game on this site teaches typing, spelling, color matching and more.
  • Jumpstart. Stories can be read aloud while allowing the child to follow along with the words to introduce the concept of reading left to right.
  • Up to Ten. Work on coordination, puzzles and spotting differences with this online game.
  • Sesame Street. Let your child work on virtual life skills, colors, matching and much more on this preschool site.
  • CBeebies. Your child can watch animated stories starring letter blocks and learn what sound each letter makes and how letters can be combined to make words.

Kindergarten

Letters, sight words, simple science and math concepts, and writing are all introduced when children enter kindergarten. To help reinforce those concepts, check out the games on these 25 sites.

  • Encyclopedia Interactica. Let your child learn by exploring various instruments, math facts and more when he clicks through the tiles on this site.
  • Enchanted Learning. This site provides sheets for practicing writing letters along with other picture worksheets.
  • Switcheroo Zoo. Let your child take a tour of the zoo and create his own imaginative animals by combining the head of one animal with the tail and legs of others.
  • Kinderweb. Your child can learn how to tell time, match colors and work with letters on this useful site.
  • Primary Games. Counting games and sorting games for your kindergartner are available here.  
  • BBC. Encourage your early reader to listen and sound out words by playing the blender game.
  • Learning Planet. Using this site, your child can put letters in order, work on number recognition and much more.
  • Kindersite. Your child can take the baby animals off of a train and put them in their correct spot by matching up lower case letters to their upper case partners.
  • I Know That. Kids can learn skip counting, addition and subtraction and much more on this useful website.
  • British Council. Play games with upper and lower case letters to become familiar with the letters quickly.
  • Professor Garfield. Collect eggs by matching up starting sounds using pictures. This game works well for kids who are not yet reading.
  • ICT Games. Early readers can work on starting sounds by playing this conveyor belt game.
  • Get Ready to Read. By playing along with a funny character your child can work on rhyming, beginning sounds and reading.
  • Between the Lions. Early readers can work on matching words and pictures by using verbal cues.
  • Read Think Write. Games are available to help your child work on beginning sounds and short and long vowel sounds.
  • Prongo. Beginning math problems that increase in difficulty are available on this baseball game.
  • The Kidz Page. Younger children can work on matching shapes, puzzles and more.
  • Literacy Center. Your child can work on upper and lower case letter recognition, number recognition and shapes here.
  • Knowledge Adventure. Learn to manipulate the keys on the keyboard to play this game.
  • Turtle Diary. You’ll find a unique approach to subtraction on this site.
  • Pauly’s Playhouse. Practice memory and colors by playing Kitty Quartet or one of the many other games on this site.
  • ABC. Match picture halves to complete the scene and work on basic math concepts.
  • Mr. Nussbaum. Your kindergartener can learn how to identify money, order numbers and figure out measurements on this site, along with much more.
  • ABC Mouse. Try a free trial for 30 days on this online curriculum for preschool and kindergarten.
  • Brain Pop Jr. Encourage your child to make new words by changing just the first letter of a word in the Chain game.

Elementary

There’s a lot of change and growth in elementary school, and kids begin to learn increasingly difficult subjects. These 25 sites cover the lessons learned throughout the elementary years.

  • Wonderopolis. Challenge your child to think scientifically when trying to answer some of the questions on this website.
  • ABC Ya. This site has games for kindergarten through 5th grade, so your child can use it for years.
  • Highlights Kids. Unscramble letters to make words, search pictures to find differences and read stories on this clever site.
  • Fun Brain. Try out the math games on this site to make learning your child’s math facts a little more fun.
  • Qubo. Practice word recognition while doing timed word searches and play a variety of other learning games.
  • TVO Kids. Instead of just telling your child about Internet safety, let him interact with Kid Cursor to learn about the web and how to stay safe online.
  • Try Science. Encourage your child to try some of these science experiments online, then do them offline to see how they work in real life.
  • Whyville. Create your own power plant and complete activities to make virtual money so you can continue to build the power plant with this game.
  • E-Learning for Kids. This site covers everything from math games to English language skills.
  • Disney Playdom. Travel through time and find the items that don’t belong in that time frame to prevent problems in history.
  • Spelling City. This spelling and vocabulary game website can help your child work on words from their own school by entering them into the game.
  • Fuel the Brain. Your elementary student can practice math and literacy concepts on this site.
  • Free Rice. Vocabulary practice for your child for future test taking and literacy is entertaining with the help of Free Rice.
  • Smarty Games. Your student can brush up on his money skills, complete a dot-to-dot, find his way through a maze and work on his memory on this site.
  • KWarp. If your child needs some practice on parts of speech, this may be a fun site for him.
  • Spell Zone. Check out the free trial available on this spelling site.
  • A Plus Math. If you want to start going over money with your elementary student, the flash cards on this site are perfect to practice with.
  • Cool Cosmos. Learn about animals in a new way by checking out infrared pictures of them.
  • National Aquarium. If you can’t go to the aquarium in person, take a virtual tour through it using this website instead.
  • Mission US. Discover more about American history by playing For Crown or Colony?
  • iCivics. Play a game where you can learn about passing laws, branches of government and much more.
  • Math-Play. Practice your math in order to move forward in your soccer game.
  • Game Classroom. This cube game will give your child an advantage when it comes to test taking because it’s practices the visualization of 3D objects.
  • Light Up Your Brain. If you think your child has an extensive vocabulary, have him try this challenging game.
  • Multiplication. Work on math facts while playing this fishy pet store game online. Many other games are available too.

Middle School

The 25 sites on this list are geared to help your middle schooler through the more advanced, thought-provoking subjects.

  • Kids National Geographic. Learn about world geography and animals on this site.
  • Kiddy House. Kids can go online and learn about reptiles and amphibians in detail here.
  • Dance Mat Typing. The more kids use the computer the better they will get with using a keyboard. This site will help improve typing skills.
  • Ixl. Your middle schooler can practice math skills from 6th grade math all the way to Algebra and Geometry.
  • Cool Math. Advanced students can practice math problems all the way up to calculus here.
  • Make Me a Genius. Watch videos on global warming, learn about the nervous system, and cover other scientific topics here.
  • How Stuff Works. If your middle schooler loves to learn how things work, this is the site for him.
  • Pottermore. Delve deeper into the Harry Potter series and read more about Harry Potter while improving literary analysis skills.
  • Learn 4 Good. Using some trial and error and logic you can switch the train track tiles around to get the train through the maze without causing it to derail.
  • Math Chimp. Play Hungry Puppies to work on decimals or figure out the variable and shoot for points on Hoop Shot.
  • 50 States. Learn and practice the states and their capitals by using the tools on this site.
  • The Great Martini Company. Get some practice on your algebraic equations here.
  • Math Playground. Are word-problems giving you trouble? Try some pressure-free practice on this website.
  • Math Cats. This site has more word-problem practice, as well as funny pictures that will make you laugh while you are trying to solve the problems.
  • Go Geometry. Practice geometry here with colorful pictures and complete explanations.
  • Nobel Prize. You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to play the blood typing game on this unique site.
  • Power My Learning. Work on your 8th grade grammar or study the stars and planets on this educational site.
  • Kongregate. This game teaches older students cause and effect, which allows them to think more creatively when solving problems.
  • Physics Games. Learn physics concepts by playing these games of balance and bridge building.
  • Space Place NASA. Put your creativity to work and figure out how to make clean energy or build a space station in these games.
  • TV 411. Learn how using prefixes can change words with these games.
  • Academics. Race against other kids from around the country by answering algebraic equations and making your otter swim faster than the others.
  • A Plus Gamer. Try some logic problems or work on your math and English by playing these games.
  • Neo K12. Quiz games, puzzles and funny videos will make learning fun for Science, History, Math, English and Geography.
  • Math Snacks. This site was developed by educators to present math concepts in an entertaining and different way to entice those students that don’t really like math.
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How to Prevent Siblings from Fighting

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sibgfightingParenting siblings can be a tricky endeavor, and nannying them can be even more difficult.  You are likely walking into a dynamic that has long been established, so tweaking behaviors and fostering friendships between siblings to encourage harmony might take a little more effort.

In Dr. Bill Sears’ 20 Tips to Stop Quibbling Siblings and Promote Sibling Harmony, the world renowned pediatrician, author of over 30 childcare books and father of eight (two of whom grew up to join a medical practice together!), shares his survival skills for creating a peaceful home.

We share how some of those tips can translate into great advice for nannies and caretakers:

(Don’t) Let Them Fight it Out

The old school of thought was to let kids duke it out, believing they’d eventually get over whatever problems they had without interference. It was thought that somehow floundering through conflicts and coming out on the other side, no matter how bad it escalated, was an important life lesson.  Limitless fighting can have negative long-term effects, though – and drive you insane in the short-term!

“If children are in danger of hurting someone or damaging property, stop the fight. Siblings who are allowed to fight as kids are more likely to fight as adults. For small tiffs, such as toy squabbles, teach children to handle it themselves. Simply state the consequences and what you expect, ‘I’ll be back in one minute. If you kids haven’t learned how to share the toy or work it out, the toy goes in the garage,’” offers Dr. Sears. “You can either time-out the toy or time-out the kids. You’re giving them two messages: you expect them to be able to work it out themselves, but you’re giving them the unequivocal consequences that if they don’t, you will.”

The New Kid on the Block

Toddlers and preschoolers will likely see you as their favorite toy, and serious jealousy and ill feelings can form when they sense you are (by necessity) investing more time in their new little brother or sister.

“We would wear our infant in a baby sling, which gave us two free hands to play a game with the older one,” says Dr. Sears. “While feeding baby, we would read a book to the sibling, or just have cuddle time. As baby gets older, place him in an infant seat or on a blanket on the floor to watch you play one-on-one with her big brother or sister. This entertains two kids with one [nanny].”

Sibling Squabbling vs. Sibling Abuse

A certain amount of low level bickering is bound to pop up now and then. Disagreements over toys, who took the last fruit leather and whose turn it is to help clear the table are pretty inevitable and working them out together is a natural part of growing up. But when these squabbles turn mean-spirited, escalate to the physical, or tend to be one-sided in a consistent manner – a more worrisome bullying pattern might be forming.

It could be one child who is older, who uses that power and experience to undercut a younger sibling emotionally or uses their physical inequality to force them to concede. It could just be a matter of one child (regardless of age) having a stronger personality, who tends to stampede over the more passive brother or sister. Regardless, when you recognize the beginnings of sibling abuse, it must be nipped in the bud – both to spare the self esteem and confidence of the weaker child and also your relationship and position of authority with both of the children. Bad habits are hard to break.

“Be watchful for aggressor/victim roles,” says Dr. Sears. “Your job is to protect [the] children, even from one another. How siblings behave toward one another is their first social lesson in how to behave in a group. Children need you to monitor put-downs. If you don’t, you’re not doing your job. By remaining silent, the victim concludes you’re siding with the victimizer.”

Make New Friends

Fostering friendships between siblings to cut back on the battles means creating a sense of empathy and compassion. This can be difficult when you enter the picture to two “sworn enemies”. Let them take on roles as teacher, comforter, entertainer or assistant to the doctor (you) in times of bumps and scrapes to help them see their sibling in a new light. Assign them small tasks to do cooperatively, and offer a joint reward at the end.

Know Your Limits

As a nanny coming into a home, you might be walking into a situation where the kids were allowed to beat on each other, call each other names, throw toys at each other and scream or slam doors during fights. While you can’t change the rules of the house, you don’t have to tolerate that type of behavior when they’re under your watch either.

Children understand there are different modes they must abide by in life and different rules and regulations that must be followed or there are consequences to be faced. They don’t run around the classroom yelling, interrupt the teacher when she’s teaching or steal treats from kids at the lunch table when they’re not looking (hopefully), and they can be taught that they must abide by your rules when in your presence – and that those rules might be different than what their parents allow. You are the person in authority and clearly laying out your limits or expectations and being consistent with the consequences will reap a speedy turnaround. Be prepared, though; this could take a little education in a formerly-free-for-all household.

“Offer calm verbal reminders, such as ‘That’s a put-down,’ as one sibling belittles the other. Or, issue a look that says ‘don’t even think about it!’ [when boundary lines are being threatened],” suggests Dr. Sears. “Head off fights at the first squabble, before they get out of hand. In our family, we have set certain ‘maximum allowable limits’, which are behaviors that we insist upon to like living with our children, and the children are taught to respect these.”

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100 Tips for Work at Home Moms

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wahmWith each passing year, telecommuting – also known as working from home – is becoming more common. According to Forbes, one in five people now work from home at least part-time. That’s 30 million people working from home, with at least three million working solely from home. While working from home has its perks, it can also have its pitfalls. These 100 blogs are stocked with tips work-at-home moms can use to maximize on the benefits of working from home and avoid the drawbacks, helping you lead a happy, balanced life.

Get the Help You Need

Moms who work from home full-time probably are going to need some help on occasion. Hiring a nanny or babysitter to watch the kids can free up your time and allow you to get more done. Check out these 10 articles to find options for getting help in the areas you need it most.

  • Hire a nanny. Morningside Nannies explains both the benefits and drawbacks to hiring a nanny when you work from home.
  • Get a cleaning service. Superpages lists 10 reasons you might want to hire professionals to clean your home.
  • Get someone to help with administrative duties. EA Help examines how a virtual administrative assistant can aid you throughout the day.
  • Look into hiring a mother’s helper. If you don’t want or need full-time childcare, She Knows suggests hiring a part-time mother’s helper to entertain the kids while you work.
  • Choose a daycare that allows you to set your own hours. Planet Kids is a drop-in or flexible schedule daycare that works with parents who work unusual hours.
  • Find a flexible childcare option. Working Mother explains the various ways that work-at-home moms can work around their kids, such as utilizing fitness club daycares, attending story time at the library and getting their spouse to help once he’s home.
  • Utilize before and after school childcare through the school. Many schools offer childcare before and after school to accommodate regular office hours, says Childtime.
  • Set up a babysitting co-op with other moms. Baby Center explains how to set up a babysitting co-op and how it can work.
  • Use a grocery delivery service. Check with your local grocery stores or use a nationwide company like Schwan’s to order and receive food at your home so that you can save time shopping.
  • Sign up for a meal service a few nights a week. The great thing about meal services like Family Chef is that they can often cater to dietary restrictions.

Time Management

Time management is a crucial component of working from home. Use these 10 tricks to help you effectively manage your time while you work.

  • Eliminate time wasters. Momcomm reviews common time wasters.
  • Create routines for your family life. Work at Home Moms suggests building routines into your daily life for both your family and your work.
  • Learn to say no. Real Simple points out the necessity of saying “no” sometimes.
  • Stay focused on your tasks. WAHM explains different ways people self-sabotage themselves when working from home.
  • Set up a work schedule. Kids aren’t the only ones who need structure; Growing a Family says that grown-ups do too.
  • Keep track of your deadlines. Yahoo Voices advises using a calendar or other device to keep track of deadlines.
  • Utilize a timer. Circle of Moms points out that using a timer can keep you focused and let kids know when you will be available.
  • Set aside a chunk of time for you. The Mogul Mom urges work-at-home moms to take time to recharge.
  • Find your peak time. Babble explains that you need to figure out when you are at your best and take advantage of that time to do most of your work.
  • Create a task list and prioritize tasks. Examiner recommends starting the day with a list of tasks need to get completed and then prioritizing them so that you can work on those items first.

Work/Life Balance

Finding a work/life balance is no easy feat, but it is possible to accomplish. To learn how to establish a work/life balance, read these 10 articles.

  • Don’t feel guilty. Many working moms feel guilty about not spending more time with their family, but this mindset isn’t healthy, says Parents.
  • Spend quality time with your family. Modern Mom shares that it’s not the amount of time that you spend with your family, but the quality of the time you do spend with them.
  • Know what you want to accomplish before you start. Inc. discusses different ways to find balance between work and home.
  • Look ahead before you take on a job to determine its flexibility. Miami Herald advises knowing your life goals before choosing a career to determine if that career will help you achieve those goals.
  • Know what you want. If you want to work from home full-time, Flex Jobs recommends talking to your boss and explaining a well thought out plan for you to do just that.
  • Figure out who you are. Big City Moms explains that some people need to work because that’s who they are while others need to stay home.
  • Try to exercise regularly. People who exercise tend to be happier with both their life and their work, shares Harvard Business Review, because it makes them feel stronger and more capable.
  • Taking time off to have a family won’t kill your career. Science Moms writes about high powered women who have found balance between having a family and working from home.
  • Manage others’ expectations. Generation Y advises working the hours you are able to and letting others know that you have a family and are not always on call.
  • Put your kids to bed early. American Psychology Association explains that once the kids go to bed you can get the sleep you need to function fully.

Make Ahead Meals

Whether you work from home or not, having meal plans you can make ahead of time can be a lifesaver. These 10 sites will provide you with ideas and recipes for meals that can be pre-made and frozen so that you can just pop dinner in the oven and go back to work.

  • Overnight beef bourguignon recipe. Momeo Magazine has just the recipe for busy working moms.
  • Use your lunch hour to work ahead on dinners. Work at Home Dinner Guide explains how to cook chicken breasts and a beef steak for future meals and how to throw together some mixes for a breadmaker.
  • Make breakfast ahead of time to streamline the morning routine. Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms shares three recipes that can be pre-made so the kids can grab breakfast themselves.
  • Use these recipes to get a jump on dinners for the week. Cooking Light details several recipes that can be made ahead and reheated on the night you need it.
  • On the weekend put some dinners in the freezer. Fitness Magazine encourages busy people to avoid eating out by freezing dinners ahead.
  • Prepare a month’s worth of meals in a day. Everyday Rachael Ray gives you tips and recipes to make 20 different meals.
  • Make soup when you’re in a time crunch. Try this Minestrone soup recipe from Make Ahead Meals and freeze it for future meals.
  • Buy meat in bulk when it’s on sale. My Recipes explains the benefit of buying your favorite meats when they’re on sale so you can freeze them and use them for later meals.
  • Make a meatloaf to freeze for later. Food provides tons of recipes that are perfect for once a month cooking.
  • Prepare this casserole recipe before you go to bed. This Overnight Meatball Casserole recipe from Busy Cooks sits in the fridge over night or all day and is ready to cook that night.

Cleaning Tips

Working from home doesn’t automatically mean you suddenly have the time to clean house all day. In fact, sometimes you may find you have even less time to clean. Use these 10 time-saving cleaning tips to keep the house clean with minimal effort and time.

  • Assign tasks to all members of the family. Jennifer P. Williams explains the benefits of having everyone pitch in around the house to keep it clean.
  • Work your way around a room clockwise. Woman’s Day shares how cleaning a room clockwise can help you get more done.
  • Clean as you go. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but Just Mommies recommends putting things away as soon as you’re done using them.
  • Break cleaning tasks down daily. Liberating Working Moms talks about how she tackles a few cleaning tasks every day to keep the house clean.
  • Create a cleaning caddy. My Sweet Nest Blog explains how to put together a cleaning caddy to save time while cleaning.
  • Multi-task your chores. According to Skinny Mom, you should find ways to clean as you go about your typical daily tasks.
  • Work in 15-min periods of time. Popsugar says that breaking up cleaning into smaller chunks helps it not seem so bad.
  • Make sure everything has a place. Advice with Dr. Julia recommends putting away items right after using them.
  • Take advantage of every spare minute. The Happiest Home encourages you to clean during your spare time, such as when you’re waiting for water to boil or for your coffee to brew.
  • Break tasks up into 5-minute chunks. The Confident Mom lists tons of chores that you can do 5-minutes at a time.

Define and Organize Your Workspace

While you may have the flexibility to work wherever you want when you work from home, it can be more beneficial to set up a designated work space. These 10 sites will help you create a defined work space.

  • Corral all your small desk items into a handy desk organizer. The Container Store shows some ways you can keep your desk clutter-free.
  • Determine how you want your office to function. Organized Impressions explains that you need to decide who is going to use your office, how often you will use the space and what will you be doing.
  • Try to make your office fit your tastes. Steve Pavlina stresses the importance of feeling good in your office space so that you can be happier and more productive.
  • Reduce paper clutter. Offices are often riddled with stacks of paper; Monster explains how to reduce this clutter.
  • Label everything in your office. Startup Nation suggests labeling cords, creating files for pending papers and filing most of the stuff in your office.
  • Decide where your workspace will be. Whether you have a dedicated room, a desk in a corner or a laptop in the dining room, you need to define your space, advises Unclutterer.
  • Organize your books onto shelves. House Beautiful shares a picture of a home office that doubles as a library with floor-to-ceiling book shelves.
  • Utilize an in-basket. The Couch Manager explains how an in-basket can keep paperwork organized.
  • Figure out the work flow and organize around that. How Stuff Works recommends looking at how your work comes in, how you handle it and how it goes out again to determine flow.
  • Only keep things on your desk that you use daily. Home Storage Solutions takes you step-by-step through organizing your home office.

Set Boundaries

Working from home can give others the false impression that you are available 24/7. While you may have a little more flexibility than office-bound employees, you also still have a job to do and can’t be running around taking care of things for everyone else simply because you’re home. Learn how to set boundaries with the help of these 10 blogs.

  • Set up an online calendar so your co-workers know when you are working. Working Mother says there is no reason to take on more tasks just because you are working from home, and having an online calendar can help.
  • Get a dedicated business phone line. Freelance Folder explains the importance of keeping your private life separate from your professional one.
  • Create a set of three cards that alert your family to your availability. Women Powering Business suggests putting a green card up when people can walk in, a yellow card when visitors need to knock and wait for an answer and a red one when you can’t be disturbed.
  • Create a firm quitting time. You are more likely to enjoy both work and home if you can separate the two, says Lifehacker.
  • Define your priorities. Mompreneur Network encourages setting priorities for both work and home.
  • Don’t answer work e-mail or phone calls after-hours. Amanda Abella explains that letting the line between work and home blur can leads to unhappiness. 
  • Take time to figure out how quickly you will respond to e-mails or phone calls. Boston Wellness Coach advises setting clear boundaries.
  • Get up early on the weekends too. While that may seem counterintuitive, it isn’t. Use the early weekend morning to get housework done so you can have fun with your family and feel like you have boundaries between work and home, says Projective.
  • Make sure that you separate work time and home time physically. Hot Frog advises taking a walk when you are done with work for the day so that your body feels a separation.
  • Talk to your family. The biggest thing you can do to set boundaries is to talk to your family about not bothering you while you are working, explains Paul Maplesden.

Dress Code for Working at Home

There’s a common misconception that everyone who works from home lounges around in pajamas all day, but many people have found it beneficial to get fully dressed as a signal the day is starting. Use these 10 tips for implementing a dress code while working from home.

  • Don’t wear lounge clothes while working. Woman’s Work urges women to get dressed every morning before work so you sound perkier and are more productive.
  • Get fully dressed. The Coffee Stained Writer explains that getting dressed all the way to her shoes makes her less likely to nap during the work day.
  • Dressing in business attire helps ensure you’re prepared for any last minute meetings. Dressing so you are ready to take a meeting on a moment’s notice will help keep you in work mode, says Journo Advice.
  • Dress up if you feel more productive. Already Pretty suggests making a dress code for yourself and deciding if you feel better when you dress up, dress down or somewhere in between.
  • Find an in between style for working at home. Staying in your pajamas might make you feel and work like a slob, but dressing in a suit may be impractical. Find a happy medium from Our Little Apartment.
  • Try wearing stylish yet comfortable clothes because you may leave the house. Wardrobe Oxygen urges work at home women to still get “dressed” for work, though maybe in a more relaxed manner than you would for an office.
  • Add some fun to your work day by dressing up a little. XO Jane explains that you can have fun with your wardrobe even when working at home.
  • People who dress up are often more successful. Excelle points out that if absolutely no one is going to see you then you can just be comfortable, but even if just one person sees you it’s important to make a professional impression.
  • What you wear represents who you are. Yes and Yes has some upgraded comfy clothing ideas to share.
  • Add an accessory to your outfit. My Year Without Clothes Shopping recommends dressing up casual clothes with a scarf or necklace.

Take Breaks

To take a break or not to take a break? Here are 10 reasons that taking breaks during the day is a good thing, as long as those breaks don’t lead to procrastination.

  • Take mini-breaks during your work day. According to Stillness Buddy, even a 30 second break every hour will make you more productive.
  • A five minute break several times a day can reduce stress. The Centers for Disease Control explain that taking a five minute break can improve focus, reduce stress and help you reduce your cholesterol.
  • Resting your eyes for a few minutes several times a day will ease eye strain. Singh Rahul talks about the many health benefits to taking periodic breaks during the day.
  • Avoid burnout by taking your lunch away from your desk. SF Gate encourages workers to step away occasionally for a change of scenery.
  • Stay efficient by taking an occasional break. Productivity 501 points out that some problems may benefit from letting your unconscious mind work while the conscious mind takes a break.
  • Working all day without a break can lead to making mistakes. Fortune says that people who push too hard at their jobs don’t take time to recharge, which can lead to mistakes.
  • Taking a lunch break can help you make better decisions. The Sydney Morning Herald explains that getting away from your desk helps you stay mentally sharp throughout the afternoon.
  • Working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you will get more done. New York Times suggests working in 15 minute intense bursts instead of for hours at a time.
  • Moving around can reduce spikes in blood sugar. Shine encourages people to go for a walk after eating to avoid blood sugar spikes, which can cause weight gain and diabetes.
  • Taking lunch breaks can reduce sick days. According to the University of Toronto, employees who consistently work through lunch became ill more often than those that take breaks.

How to be Productive

It takes a certain type of person to be able to effectively work from home. To increase your productivity in your home office, use these 10 tips.

  • Alter your mindset. Fox Business explains that some people don’t have the self-motivation to be productive in a non-office setting.           
  • Stay connected to people in your office. Business Insider points out that by staying in touch you can communicate your goals and intentions for the day.
  • Check e-mail at set times. USA Today encourages those that work from home to avoid distractions from e-mail notifications by having set times to check e-mail.
  • Be aware of the music you are listening to because it could affect your mood. Zen Habits advises you to listen to things that will put you in a positive frame of mind.
  • Don’t waste time setting up your work space every day. MSN explains the benefits of keeping your work space set up versus breaking it down at the end of each day. 
  • Get rid of distractions. Technori points out the importance of focusing on your work and avoiding distractions.
  • Break up your day. Manilla suggests taking a break in the middle of the day to exercise and get away from your desk.
  • Get into a work routine. By maintaining a routine you can spend less time trying to figure out what to do next, says Work Awesome.
  • Put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. It can be difficult to avoid getting sidetracked by family members when working from home, so Make Use Of suggests letting them know when you can’t be disturbed.
  • Try a change of venue. Loop 21 advises sitting in a café or bookstore occasionally to increase your productivity. 
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How to Care for Yourself When You’re a Caregiver

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healthYou may get so wrapped up planning adventures, fun games and activities for the kids that you forget that the best way to be a great caregiver is to invest some time in taking care of yourself. Burning the candle at both ends – whether it’s to keep on top of school responsibilities if you are a caregiver in the process of finishing your education, taking care of your own kids or elderly family members when not on duty caring for your charges, or taking on extra babysitting sessions with other families to pump up your income – can lead to fatigue and put you in a vulnerable state where burnout or break downs loom.

Here are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself on track and feeling great:

Sleep!

This is no surprise, yet most of us feel like skipping a few hours here and there won’t hurt. “Pulling an all-nighter” might be some college students’ solution to last minute cram needs, but when your responsibilities include caring for someone else’s safety and security (and not just being able to stumble to class before crashing the afternoon away) this is not a great plan for success. Even in the short term, studies have shown that sleep debt increases emotional instability, anxiety and confusion, in addition to general sleepiness and motor skills impairment.

While some jobs might be less affected by a lack of sleep, we know that sleep deprivation leads to overreactions to frustration and outward expressions of negativity on others’ faces, decreased emotional intelligence and coping skills, a hindered ability to notice subtle discriminations of facial expressions on others, compromised decision-making and affected neural systems associated with risky decisions – all key things when it comes to caring for a child.

You might think you can bypass these ill effects by sneaking in power naps or adding up the hours between bouts up with a sick child or nighttime feedings. However, even withholding the deeper REM sleep achieved through a decent stretch of sleep for a single night interferes with the brain’s capacity to cope with emotional events that may occur during the following day. So respect your need for Zzzz’s and make good sleep a priority.

Eat Right

Much like sleep, eating can have a serious affect on your mood and energy levels. Although most people recognize the connection between healthy eating and physical fitness – another important aspect for a caregiver who needs the energy to chase after toddlers in the park or join in a game of backyard hoops with the kids – the effect on mood and emotional reaction can be even more direct and immediate.

Ditching the carbs might be good for that new pair of jeans, but when you do so you are also ditching the ability to produce feel-good-serotonin. Up your memory and optimism by staying fueled with Omega-3’s (if salmon’s not your thing, fortified peanut butters and granola bars are a good alternative). Skip the fatty options to avoid feeling both mentally and physically sluggish and keep pumping that iron to avoid lack of focus and attention (even vegetarians can stock up with a handful of dried fruits).

Don’t skimp on breakfast either – you’ve likely heard it’s the most important meal of the day and a nutritious breakfast sets the stage for how the rest of the day will flow. This is especially important for caregivers who might get caught up with the kids and not get a snack in before well into the day. Opt for thiamine rich cereal to amp up your activity level and pair it with a cup of skim milk that has mood-boosting whey protein.

An Ounce of Prevention

Thanks to the elbow patrol, these days you’ll see very few kids sneezing into their hands. However, while a greater awareness of health and the benefits of hand washing are being pushed by schools fighting off empty desks and illness outbreaks, the reality is that you will be spending your time with a small person who spends their time with other small persons and the odds of having the inevitable resulting germs, viruses and colds hugged onto you is fairly high.

Arm yourself with more than Kleenex and lozenges. Consider your preventative health, be it extra healthy eating with immunity boosting in mind, a flu shot or simply lowering stress to boost your ability to fight off illness. Bring the kids in on stress-busting fun by trying out a kid’s exercise tape together or even just going for a walk in the woods.

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Great Sites for Sample Nanny Work Agreements

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contractsWhether you’ve decided a nanny is the best childcare option for your family, you’re a nanny looking to break into the field or you’re an experienced caregiver seeking your next placement, you’re going to need a nanny/family work agreement. A nanny/family work agreement protects everyone’s interests and ensures that all parties understand and are in agreement about the duties that are expected, pay, length of employment and benefits.

If handling contracts and paperwork is not your forte or you’re concerned about missing a key element that could cause problems down the line, consider these foolproof nanny work agreement websites to help you on your way:

NannyAnswers.com

This free site is geared toward nannies seeking employment. It not only offers a comprehensive work agreement to fill in, but also provides interview tips, potential second interview questions, etiquette advice during the hiring process, tax requirement info and a section on choosing an agency. The nanny duties are outlined within the sample contract and need only a checkmark, and termination (by either party) repercussions are addressed as well.

TheNannyDoctor.com

This nanny and family consultation site offers packages tailored to fit your nanny needs. The Hiring Package ($40, which includes a $5 discount) features: The Employment Agreement, Family Emergency Form, Medical Authorization, Social Media Agreement, Email/ Phone/Reference Questions, Sample Job Description and Interview Question Domains. An Endings Package ($30, which includes a $5 discount) for smooth transitions and a Complete Package ($120, which includes a $10 discount) are also available, as well as options to pick and choose the templates or samples at $5 each.

Nanny.org

The International Nanny Association website offers The Family/Nanny agreement ($50), which is a tool nannies, agencies and families can use to outline the nanny’s job description, work schedule, pay, vacation schedule and benefits. It also offers agreements for Agency Use for their clients ($150).

PDFFiller.com

This paper-free PDF-filler site allows users to upload documents and fill in their information on otherwise unwriteable forms, securely sign them using Digisign tech, and then send out the form out by email, fax or export. It also allows you to print your form for your records. This is ideal for long distance nanny relationships, allowing both parties to quickly take care of paperwork. The fee runs $19.99 per month (longer term options are discounted) for unlimited use, which is good for families on the search, and offers job seekers free access (i.e., nannies).

RocketLawyer.com

This legal advice site offers a free nanny work agreement that covers all the basics for both parties, along with a “Find a Lawyer” assistance program that connects customers with local lawyers for more in depth needs. Some questions can be answered for members by attorneys participating in a Q&A system, while pre-negotiated rates are available for more involved requirements.

4NannyTaxes.com

This free one-stop-shop site offers both sample live-in and live-out nanny work agreements (which are specific in some terms and may need to be edited for general use), as well as links to applicable tax laws, federal labor laws and state household employment rules.

NannyBizReviews.com

You can find the “A to Z Nanny Contract,” here, which was designed by a nanny for nannies and their employers. Options include a live-in or live-out full-time nanny work agreement ($39.95) that offers a downloadable guidebook and template and appendix sheets that walk you through the process of tailoring the contact to your specific needs (even some you might not have thought of). The second option is to have a 15-30 minute phone call with the site founder, who will then do the work for you and deliver a personalized contract within 48 hours ($129.95). In the future, part-time, summer and shared nanny agreements will be available. The product offers a 30 day money back guarantee.

MyNannyContract.com

This site offers a Basic Package that includes a Nanny Contract ($19.95) in both Word and PDF formats, a User Guide and Nanny Starter Kit, or a Deluxe Package ($29.95) that includes the Basic Package plus a Background Check Form, Medical Consent Form, Termination Letters, First Day Checklist, Recordkeeping Sheet and Nanny Starter Kit. Both offer 30 day money back guarantees.

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100 Websites Nannies Can Turn to for Curriculum Planning

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teachingchildPart of providing high quality childcare is meeting the unique needs of the children in your care. Nannies are responsible not only for meeting the children’s physical needs, but also their emotional, social and educational needs. While every day provides an opportunity for learning, professional nannies often develop their own curriculum to incorporate into the children’s day. If you’re looking to boost the learning moments in your charge’s day, check out these resourceful blogs for great curriculum ideas.

Social/Emotional

As children grow and develop, nannies can help foster both social and emotional growth. Learning how to support a child’s social and emotional growth and development will help you understand child behavior and build strong attachments with the children in your care. Check out these blogs to learn how to support social and emotional growth and development.

  • Zero to Three—This site provides insight for caregivers on handling anger in charges and guiding the child on how to show anger in a healthy way.
  • PBS—Learn ways to identify social and emotional growth in a child by being aware of developmental milestones. This site covers children from infant to five years of age.
  • My Health—Read about the different stages of development for infants on this site and learn what you can do to encourage growth.
  • CDE—The California Department of Education explains infant and toddler development here, helping you learn why interactions with adults are so important to growth.
  • Seven Counties Services—Read all about how an infant forms attachments to her caregiver and how anxiety levels change as the infant gets older.
  • Kamloops Children’s Therapy—This site examines infant stages of development, as well as red flags that caregivers should be aware of.
  • Challenging Behavior—This paper focuses on the importance of the parent and primary caregiver in the lives of children and the development of infants and toddlers that may be at risk for disabilities.
  • Child Development Institute—Find out what the eight stages of development are from psychiatrist Erik Erikson.
  • Kidspot—You’ll learn more about the eight stages of development here, as well as how being aware of emotional growth is just as important as watching for physical growth.
  • Everyday Family—Emotional growth continues at a rapid pace through the toddler years, and those milestones are explored in this article.

Language Development

Supporting language development is a key component to providing great care. From modeling appropriate language to identifying potential delays, nannies should be in the know when it comes to understanding and supporting language development. Check out these blogs for helpful information.

  • NIDCD—The National Institute on Deafness and Other Common Disorders explains how language development can be delayed in a child who cannot hear properly. Being aware of where a child should be developmentally will help alert you to a problem if there is one.
  • Parenting Literacy—Find out what parents and caregivers need to know when it comes to the language development of children in their care.
  • Mayo Clinic—Learn what the speech milestones are for infants through children one year of age from the experts at the Mayo Clinic.
  • Healthy Children—According to this article, it’s important to speak to your toddler frequently to help develop language skills.
  • What to Expect—Toddlers learn rapidly, but their language skills really take off around 18 months. If the child isn’t speaking with at least a small vocabulary by 18 months, he should be evaluated by a physician for possible speech delays.
  • Baby Center—If certain developmental milestones are not being met when it comes to speech, it may mean the child is speech delayed and in need of additional help from a speech professional.
  • Parents—Read through this question and answer site to find the answers to many commonly asked questions about language development.
  • Get Ready to Read—Language skills incorporate both speaking and listening. Read this article to see what listening skills and speaking skills a preschooler should possess.
  • Education—It’s common for three-year-olds to have a vocabulary of about 1000 words, and you should be able to understand most of what he says.
  • Colorin’ Colorado—Learn the classroom strategies utilized at this school to help preschoolers with their language and literacy skills.

Math

Incorporate basic math concepts into your charge’s day by learning through play. From creating patterns to sorting objects, these blogs have some great ideas for introducing beginner’s math.

  • NAEYC—The National Association for the Education of Young Children discusses how young children notice mathematical aspects of their environment, such as patterns, balance and sharing a snack evenly with a sibling.
  • Sites Norwood K12—Examine how preschoolers progress through their mathematical development from ages four to six and learn how you can help that development.
  • School Sparks—Learn how children progress from learning to count to number recognition to pattern recognition in this article.
  • Scholastic—Young children learn best through play, and this article explains how children can learn math through play by sorting, counting, creating patterns and more.
  • Math—It’s important that kids start their math development early so that a positive attitude towards math can be formed. Learn math activities you can do with toddlers from this site.
  • Chateau Meddybemps—Find creative ways to incorporate math into everyday play situations with the help of this post.
  • Larry Cuban—While teaching math at the preschool level is not recommended by the author of this article, he does recommend play that incorporates math concepts, such as children getting the right number of pencils so that everyone in class can have one.
  • Everyday Life—Examine different activities you can do with an older infant that will teach him about early math concepts, such as figuring out that an item is missing from the table.
  • Math at Play—Infants, toddlers and preschoolers learn math differently, and this site provides various worksheets and activities that you can do with the kids in your care.
  • Nature—Read this fascinating article about a study performed at Duke University where infants were tested and it was found that a prediction could be made about how well that child would do on tests three years into the future.

Science

Kids are inherently curious, which makes them natural scientists, so when you provide hands-on learning experiences children tend to be eager to engage in learning. Check out these blogs for creative ways to introduce science to young students.

  • U Toledo—This article considers young children natural scientists due to their inquisitive nature. Learn how you can support science development.
  • Headstart—Explore what it takes to start teaching science to an infant with the help of this site.
  • Early Childhood News—Read about what scientific goals you should have for a toddler in your care and how to help him explore his world.
  • Project 2061—The NSES (National Science Education Standards) has announced that all children can learn science, but that learning needs to start early. Suggestions are made in this article about how you can encourage that learning.
  • ECRP—The Early Childhood Research and Practice explains what science is and why children have a natural ability to learn it. Read examples of how to promote scientific learning at a young age.
  • High Scope—If you’ve ever watched an infant pick up something and put it in his mouth, you have witnessed a natural scientist. That infant is testing the taste and feel of that object. Explore this site to learn what you can do to encourage scientific learning in preschoolers.
  • ECAP—Learn about the Science Start Curriculum, which is an early childhood curriculum that can be used to facilitate scientific learning.
  • FLMNH—The Florida Museum of Natural History has created MESS (Marvelous Explorations through Science and Stories) to help children develop in all areas using scientific experiments.
  • Shanker Institute—Find a list of skills that a preschooler can accomplish in science and learn ways that you can teach those skills.
  • My Teaching Partner—Activities are explained here, as well as other scientific curriculum for science.

Cultural Studies

Help children learn about themselves and others by learning about different cultures. Embrace diversity and encourage cultural experiences as you introduce a child to his world. Read more about how to teach cultural studies on these 10 websites.

  • Noble World Montessori—Questions such as “Where do we come from?” and “Why do we tell stories?” are explored at the toddler level on this site.
  • ANKN—The Alaska Native Knowledge Network has created curriculum that explains the culture of Alaska to promote knowledge and awareness in future generations.
  • Stay at Home Moms—This post explains how to create a passport for the child and engage in learning opportunities about various areas in the world.
  • Teaching Strategies—By partnering with family, the toddler and preschooler can hear stories about her family history and learn who she is and where she comes from.
  • Coedu—Puzzles and games can be used to teach a child about different cultures, as well as improve her understanding of those cultures.
  • Bright Hub Education—Explore the world with your preschooler by creating different cultural themes for her to investigate.
  • Kon—The names of books depicting other cultures are listed here, as well as other ways to teach your student about different cultures.
  • Childcare Exchange—Children learn through experiences, and can learn cultural differences in a childcare provider that speaks a different language.
  • Teacher Link—Find complete lesson plans on how to teach cultural studies to children of various ages at a level they can understand.
  • SDE—Read about how you can engage your student in cultural studies and how you can build from a preschool level when teaching a student about different cultures.

Visual Art

Encourage children to create and explore their artistic sides by spending time embracing the visual arts. From playing with dough to painting and coloring, you can encourage children to create their own masterpieces. These blogs explain how.

  • Kinder Art—Check out the free lesson plans for all ages on this site. You can start by mixing colors and making 3D letters.
  • I Am an Artist—Lessons are broken up by different crafting mediums, like clay, paint, fabric and more on this site.
  • PDST—According to this post, art includes both creating it and visually responding to it.
  • Voices—Take a look at the lesson plans included for infants and toddlers on this site. Using simple pictures and a single color crayon is an effective way to start exploring colors with the young artist.
  • Smith—From infant finger painting to preschool drawings, many different suggestions are made on this site.
  • Nova—You can find a sample curriculum for various subjects such as art for infants and toddlers on this site.
  • The Artful Parent—There are over 500 different art projects listed on this site, making it a great resource for parents and caregivers.
  • The Freckled Homeschooler—Art projects are broken down by different units in these lesson plans.
  • No Time for Flash Cards—You can use this list of 15 fine art projects as part of your preschool curriculum.
  • Jump Start—Find several art projects here that are appropriate for preschoolers to help them learn about color, texture and art.

Music

Music is said to be a universal language. By exploring music together you and your charge can learn how different cultures have different musical styles and often use different instruments. From singing together to making instruments, there’s a lot you can do to incorporate music into your day.

  • Kids’ Music Round—Find developmentally appropriate music curriculum on this site that makes music fun.
  • Gia Publications—You can order age appropriate music CD’s and other music curriculum on this site.
  • Feierabend Music—Dr. Feierabend, the founder of FAME (Foundation for Art and Music in Education), is thought to be one of the foremost authorities in music. He describes how you can start with an infant and let him listen to music to help him understand what music is over time. The instruction continues as the child gets older.
  • Fun Family Education—Many music-based crafts are listed on this site, as well as various movement activities that you can use with your toddler.
  • Preschool Music Lesson Plans—Here you’ll find toddler games that may bring a cranky toddler out of his bad mood.
  • Fun Music Company—Lesson plans to entice toddlers to get into music are described on this site. Each lesson includes an introductory song to get the toddler excited.
  • Preschool Express—This site features songs and musical activities that you can play from the site to energize and involve the toddlers in doing movement with music.
  • Modern Mom—Explore lesson plan suggestions and ideas about including music in and around your other lesson plans.
  • Confessions of a Homeschooler—You can buy this curriculum or you can put together a lesson plan that incorporates composers and music on your own.
  • Roger Day—An explanation of where kids are developmentally when it comes to music can be found on this site, as well as examples of what you can encourage the preschooler to do.

Movement

Encourage the use of large muscle groups by dancing, climbing and being physically active. From dancing to music to going through a nanny-made obstacle course, kids need to spend time being active each day.

  • The Magic of Play—Developmentally, toddlers are able to jump, run, skip and roll, and this article explains how to incorporate movement in a toddler’s day.
  • Early Learning Activities—This document gives examples of games and other activities that involve movements that are developmentally possible for toddlers.
  • Live Strong—This site recommends that you concentrate on large muscle type movements with toddlers, like running and playing follow the leader.
  • EEC—Read through the list of developmental abilities for infants and learn which movements you can do with an infant, like peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake and this little piggy.
  • Delmar Learning—Find a list with detailed explanations of infant and toddler activities here.
  • Hap Palmer—Teaching the whole child is a goal encouraged by the author of this article, and an idea of how to incorporate movement throughout the day is explained.
  • Teacher Quick Source—Several movements that are accompanied by music are explained on this site and can be used as part of your curriculum.
  • Southern Early Childhood—Learn about the benefits of movement and find out what movements are appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers based on their development.
  • Gryphon House—If you are looking for music and movement activities, you can find many free downloads on this site, as well as craft ideas by age.
  • Hub Pages—Get some ideas for music and movement that you can do without buying anything special.

Daily Lives/Self Care

Never do for a child what he can do for himself. Young children can do more than they are often given credit for, which is where your teaching can really help. These sites share ideas to help you with teaching and supporting self-care.

  • Positive Parenting Connection—Take a look at this long list of self-care items that kids can do from crawlers on up.
  • Sandbox Learning—Make learning self-care skills fun by using the tips found on this site.
  • Extension—Encourage and teach children to take care of some of their own needs, like brushing their teeth and washing their hands.
  • CSEFEL—Read about what tasks children should be able to do at what age so that you will know which ones you can help them learn how to do on their own.
  • Therapy Street for Kids—Kids can often do more than adults think, and it’s just a matter of training them to do some self-care things on their own.
  • Presence Parenting—Making children take care of their own needs can lead to resentment and uncooperative kids, but making the task fun may get the job done.
  • High Reach—Start with the kids wherever they are in the learning curve and go from there when teaching life skills. Higher level skills like tying shoes can be taught using a learning aid like a lacing game.
  • Family Connect—Learn methods to make self-care tasks simpler for young children, such as using a pump tooth paste dispenser instead of a tube.
  • The Bump—Many times toddlers and preschoolers want to be self-sufficient, but you may still need to model skills so that they can learn them.
  • Super Duper Inc—Self-feeding is a task that children learn early in their development, and it can be encouraged by the caregiver allowing them to feed themselves, even if it means they get messy.

Book Lists

Need a little more guidance and support for planning your curriculum? These sites will provides lists of books that you can check out from the library, order online or buy in the book store to help make planning your curriculum a little easier.

  • Pearson Higher Education—Read about e-text books and how the addition of videos in the text book can help children learn.
  • Google Books—Check out these books on early childhood curriculum.
  • Brightly Beaming Resources—This list of books is age appropriate for three-year-olds.
  • Allen County Public Library—Take a look at the list of early childhood curriculum books on this list that may be available at your local library or book store.
  • Amazon—Enjoy browsing through this list of early childhood books for classrooms.
  • Goodreads—These books are popular choices from other Goodreads members that are interested in early childhood development.
  • In Lieu of Preschool—Advice about curriculum and many books to use along with preschool curriculum are included in this post.
  • Homeschool Curriculum—Look through this list of curriculum that you can use to teach developmentally appropriate skills to your charge.
  • MH Professional—This site provides a list of books and products to create early childhood curriculum.
  • Textbooks—Glance through this list of textbooks to see if any of them fit how you want to teach the children in your care.
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Top 25 Nanny Blogs

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websitesLooking for the latest tips in childcare and all things nanny-related? You can stay in tune and up to date with the latest in the nanny world by actively following and reading these blogging pros:

  • Regarding Nannies Created by nannies as the ultimate resource for those entering the biz, this well-established blog is the perfect source of up-to-date information for all nannies, regardless of their career level.
  • INA Blog The official blog of the International Nannies Association offers links to nanny resources, a salary and benefits survey, a monthly newsletter and a job board, and is a must-have link to bookmark in your browser.
  • Nanny Transitions If you are a nanny in flux, whether you’re leaving a career or shifting within the general field, this blog can offer support and advice to help make the transition a smooth one.
  • CincyNanny Newly relocated back to the CincyNanny website, this blog offers creative tips, advice and resources on how to be the best you can be with your charges.
  • I Saw Your Nanny. If the answer to “I spy with my little eye” is a nanny or parent-boss misbehaving (or in far rarer cases, going above and beyond), this site would have been a fave. It’s no longer active, but the past years of sightings and funny horror stories make it an entertaining read for gossip girls.
  • GTM Payroll Services The household tax and payroll experts at GTM Payroll Services use their blog and video messages to address tough tax questions for household employees.
  • The Nanny Time Bomb This site is an industry blog courtesy of NannyX, an “author, artist, investigator, and childcare advocate” who works toward safety in the workplace and offers daily themed posts.
  • How to Be the Best Nanny Blog This blog aims to help readers do exactly what it says – be the best nanny possible – and offers ideas for creative projects and games to try, with references to studies on how to connect with your charges.
  • Nanny News Network Informative postings and links shared to keep you in touch with current news and commentary related to the nanny world make this a clickworthy spot to stop.
  • Car Seat Nanny Know your rear-seat’er from your old-enough-for-the-front’er? Booster your vehicle know-how by perusing the former files of Car Seat Nanny. Her nanny experience and training as a Certified Passenger Safety Technician kept kids safe on the road and remains a valuable resource.
  • Breedlove & Associates These nanny tax and payroll experts keep nannies and their potential employers up to speed with the current rules and regulations involving legal hiring and payment of nannies.
  • Family Helpers The Family Helpers blog features safety tips, career advice and insight into the nanny industry in the NYC/Westchester region and beyond.
  • Nanny Groups Although posts might be sporadic, Nanny Groups offers a list of nanny support groups across the country that can come in handy should you find yourself in need of some extra support.
  • Nurturing Nannies This blog might be directed at those working as or looking to hire nannies across the pond, but many of the resources and reference materials are universal.
  • NannyJobs.org This nanny job board and info resource for nannies in the field gives tips on securing a position and performing your job in the most efficient and successful way possible.
  • eNannySource.com A nanny agency website with thousands of profiles, this site offers a blog with interviews, expert tips and clever takes on current news stories relevant to the nanny community.
  • 4Nannies.com The 4Nannies.com blog’s draw is the wealth of posts about handling specific needs in the household, including dealing with kids of all ages, dietary restrictions and much more. You’ll also find info for new nannies on their job search options and practical matters like negotiating pay or completing a written work agreement here.
  • Nannypalooza The famed nanny event not only has a website, but also a blog. Posts about the nanny community founded by Sue Downey offer insight and advice born from her 20+ years of experience.
  • 4NannyTaxes You’ll find info, resources and tips on all things related to household and nanny taxes or payroll on this site, with updates and current developments that affect the nanny/employer business relationship.
  • HireaNanny.com HireaNanny offers many helpful articles that contain important info on legal requirements for nanny employment relationships.
  • GoNannies.com Expert insight from seasoned nannies and childcare professionals provide real life advice for today’s professional nanny and nanny employer.
  • NannyAgency.net Readers will find information on how to compare nanny agencies and choose the right childcare option using tips from those who have been there.
  • NannyJobs.net Not only does this blog strive to help nannies find the right position, but it also offers resources to help them keep that position once they land it.
  • NannyPro.com The industry insiders over here engage readers by sharing info on raising healthy kids, providing best practices for nannies and sharing how to bring the right professional into your home to help care for your kids.
  • SummerNanny.com The summer nanny is a different entity than the year-round one, and so is this blog that hosts a collection of information about summer activities and tips on hiring help for the summer months. You’ll also find general childcare advice.
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Smart Ways for Nannies to Stay Fit

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bikingIf you’re like most nannies, staying fit while spending your days caring for kids is a hard task. Your hours are long, and heading off to the gym is usually the last thing you want to do when you get home in the evening. Your eating habits probably don’t help either. Meals usually consist of whatever’s close at hand, which typically means prepackaged food that doesn’t fit into your ideal menu. The good news is you can make small lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. Here are some ideas to get you on the right track.

Make a real commitment to yourself. One of the biggest obstacles to staying fit is putting your need to lead a healthy life above the constant pull you feel from other people and their demands on your time and attention. If you let it happen, there will always be something that needs to get done before you work out or take time to prepare a healthy meal. Make a commitment to take care of yourself before you do anything else.

Work out in the morning before you start work. You already get up early just to get to work on time, so waking up even earlier to work out may seem like a stretch. But before you dismiss an early morning workout, do the math. If you leave early to hit a gym or pool close to your employer’s home, chances are you’ll miss the daily commuter traffic. That saved time can offset the time you invest in your workout. Even if you won’t save time by working out in the morning, there are plenty of other benefits to doing so, such as increased energy first thing in the morning and throughout the day. At the end of the day, you can barely make it to your couch. Before the day begins, you’re ready to tackle the gym, track or pool. Plus, exercising first thing in the morning boosts your mood and energy for the rest of the day.

Get your kids involved in the workout. If you care for older kids, think of ways to exercise during the day with them. They’re supposed to engage in at least one hour of physical activity each day, so you have a built-in reason to make exercise a priority. Go for a bike ride on the local trail. Head out for a hike at the community arboretum. Play a game of basketball in the backyard. There are lots of things that you and your charges can do that are fun and will help you get you in great shape.

Take advantage of breaks during the day. If your charge naps or goes to school during the day, take that time to fit in a workout. Work out with a DVD or hop on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes. You’ll still have plenty of time to get your other jobs, like laundry, straightening up and meal prep, done.

Find activities that you enjoy. Working out doesn’t mean you have to be tied to the gym. There are lots of fun things you can do in the evenings and on weekends that will burn calories and build strength and flexibility. If you don’t have a favorite sport, try out different things until you find one you really connect with. You might enjoy bike riding, hiking, kayaking, Zumba, tennis, swimming or a host of other sports. Don’t expect to be good at your new sport right at the beginning. It takes a while to become even somewhat skilled at something new. Just have fun and know your body is getting a workout at the same time.

Make healthy food choices. Often, your personal food choices include things you wouldn’t feed to your charges. Being a nanny means being busy all day, so you go for what’s quick and easy, even when those things work against your goal of staying fit. Instead, take the time to plan out your meals and include foods that are tasty and will fuel your body. By bringing a day’s worth of ready-to-eat healthy meals and snacks with you to work, you won’t be tempted to grab whatever’s close because you’re short on time or energy.

Sit down to eat. Meal time often means you’re juggling 10 different things all at once. No matter how busy you are, it’s important to slow down and take 15 or 20 minutes to sit down and eat lunch. This allows you to really be conscious of what and how much you’re eating. It also lets your body stay connected to your feelings of hunger and fullness.

Staying fit while working as a nanny is a tough task, but not one that’s impossible. With a real commitment and some smart planning, you can make it happen.

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100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Toddler

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toddlerlessonsSome of the most appealing characteristics of toddlers are their eagerness to help and their ability to learn things quickly. Unfortunately, their short attention spans require lessons to be brief and entertaining, while holding their attention long enough to get your message across. Strategies to make lessons fun and entertaining are covered in these 100 blog posts.

Numbers and Math

It may not seem like a lesson, but you are teaching every time you count things while you and your child are out in the world. Count the apples as you put them in the bag or count the steps as you go into the library. Point out numbers on houses, buildings and signs so that your toddler starts to recognize numbers for what they are. Then, when it’s time for a brief lesson, you can play games or play with cereal. Simple math like sorting and matching can also give your toddler a head start. These 10 blogs will explain how you can incorporate these lessons into your day.

  • Numbers Washing LineLessons Learnt Journal explains how you can work with a clothes line, number cards and clothes pins to teach your toddler his numbers.
  • Counting and Make 10 with Egg CartonsLearn with Play at Home has come up with a clever way to teach your toddler math while letting him play with egg cartons and pom poms.
  • Cheerio CountingTeaching-Tiny-Tots has free printables to help with this simple activity of putting cheerios into circles according to a designated number. These can be glued and hung up for reference if you like.
  • Setting the Table—You can practice counting while you have your child help you set the table for a simple way to learn numbers, according to Toddler Activities at Home.
  • Creative Number RecognitionLearn from My Fail successfully taught her son to recognize his numbers by creating a pathway of those numbers so that he could remember them.
  • Number PatternsTeaching Ideas has a bunch of printables to help you teach math and other number related lessons to your child.
  • Play a Number Game—With a box, some bowls, a knife and some balls you have the supplies you need to create an entertaining way to teach your child number recognition, according to The Education of a Stay at Home Mom.
  • Count Everything—Toddlers will love counting everything from steps to apples, so make sure that you are counting everything you can throughout the day, suggests Clever Toddler Activities.
  • Sorting—One part of math is sorting, and this can be done with toys, balls or even plastic dishes according to Preschool-Learning-and-Crafts.
  • Toddler Fish Pond—Put together this game to teach matching, sorting and number recognition with the directions found on Puddle Wonderful Learning.

Letters

If you haven’t been singing the ABC song to your toddler, now is the time to start. Once your child masters the song slow it down or stop and ask your toddler what letter comes next. Get magnetic letters and let your toddler play with them on a cookie sheet or the refrigerator. Show him how to spell his name. Start teaching letters by using the letters of his name, then go back and work on others. These 10 blogs will give you lesson ideas for working on letters with your toddler.

  • Fridge ChartSimple Homeschool points out that going over letters every morning over cereal will teach your child his letters and sounds.
  • Letter Puzzles—According to Daily Mothering, working with the kids a little each day using letter puzzles and other letter toys helped her two year old start to read short words.
  • Magnetic LettersIt’s Baby Time uses magnetic letters to teach letter recognition and form roots of words, as well as teach her daughter to add letters to make new words.
  • Color-by-Letter2 Teaching Mommies have free printables for each letter so that your child can color a picture of an object, like a pumpkin with the letter ‘P’ all over it.
  • Letter of the Week ActivitiesTeach Preschool explains how each week she would put out paper, cut-out letters, glue and items to glue onto the letter that start with that same  letter, like cotton balls on the letter C.
  • Letter TileBright Hub Education has a complete lesson plan that includes making a letter tile using finger paint, paper and pictures from magazines.
  • Alphabet Cookie Cutters and Play Dough—Let your kids roll out dough, use alphabet letter cutters to cut out letters and say each letter as he cuts them, as seen on United Teaching.
  • Mnemonics—Let the kids dance around and hold their arms up like a ‘Y’ and say, “Why can’t I remember this?” Other tips like this are available on Heidi Songs.
  • Alphabet CerealKnoxville Parent indicates that a kinesthetic learner may learn his letters better if he uses alphabet cereal to move letters around and spell words.
  • Alpha MatchingThe Learning Hypothesis suggests having your child match magnetic letters with printed letters and putting them together on the back of a cookie sheet.

Colors

When you’re at the dollar store keep your eyes open for colorful things. Anything that your toddler can sort by color can be worked into a simple lesson. Pull out the crayons or paint and talk about colors. Start with the basic primary colors of red, yellow and blue, then move forward with other colors once those colors are learned. Mixing colors on paper will help your toddler understand that there is a relationship between colors. He won’t understand hue and saturation, but he may learn that red and yellow make orange. Use paints a lot in play to expose him to colors, and as he gets older you can talk about primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Kids are able to absorb more information than you may think. These 10 blogs will help you start at the beginning when teaching colors to your toddler.

  • Color MatchingTeaching Mama uses a plastic tray from the dollar store and some pom poms to working on color matching.
  • Color FlashcardsMunsell Color explains that sometimes it’s hard to get kids to understand that light blue and navy are both blue, and using flashcards can help some kids.
  • Music and ColorsAppSaga has worked out a lesson where you play classical music while showing your child colors.
  • Clothespin ColorsYes, I Want Cake has a clever idea for using clothespins and cardstock to do matching exercises with your child.
  • Hanging Felt BoardsSmart School House created hanging felt boards out of cardboard and felt and then cut out felt shapes in different colors to teach colors and shapes.
  • Color SortingTeach Your Tot suggests getting a handful of colorful candy and helping your child sort the candy into color piles and then color ovals with the same colors.
  • Colored Water Sensory BinFun at Home with Kids suggests mixing up a tub full of colored water with googly eyes and letting the kids scoop and pour them.
  • Learn Colors Through StoriesYouth Literature Reviews suggests reading to kids about colors in order for them to understand colors better.
  • Sidewalk ChalkLearn, Play, Imagine combines learning colors with gross motor activity. Read about how she used sidewalk chalk to accomplish this.
  • Color DaysQueen Bee Housewife explains how she and her toddler have color days where they will point out everything that is a certain color.

Shapes

Drag out the blocks and shape sorter and play with your toddler. Say the name of the shapes when you put them in the ball or stack up a block. Look for shapes when you are at the store. Challenge your toddler to find 10 things that are round before you leave the store. This works on shapes as well as counting. Don’t be afraid to tell your toddler that you don’t know what shape something is. Sometimes items are irregular and aren’t just one shape. Books about shapes will work on reading and listening skills as well as shape recognition. Whenever you can, tie together more than one learning skill. Read through these 10 blogs to get some ideas on how to work with shapes.

  • Read Books—Try this book by a Baylor alumni called Star, Circle, Baylor that teaches toddlers their shapes.
  • Velcro Craft SticksSmiling Like Sunshine made some craft sticks with Velcro on the ends and some in the middle to show her toddler how to make shapes out of the sticks.
  • Peg MonstersMum of One helps her toddler make a peg monster that eats shapes. There’s a free printable for the shape sheet on the post.
  • Tracing ShapesHands on as We Grow uses a chalkboard to teach shapes.  The toddler traces the chalk shape with a wet paint brush and he learns the shape.
  • Peg Board and Rubber BandsMomstown Hamilton shows toddlers how they can make shapes by using a peg board and rubber bands.
  • Painting ShapesLeah Inspired took one shape per day and did activities around that shape, like painting with a circle cookie cutter or gluing rectangular pieces of tissue paper.
  • Magazine SearchSuper Fun Mama suggests giving the toddlers some old magazines and kid-safe scissors to cut out shapes that they find and glue them to a paper in the box labeled for that shape.
  • Shapes in Contact PaperMy Silly Little Life shows toddlers how to make shapes and put them between contact paper sheets to hang in the window.
  • Create a Shape Character123 Teach with Me shares how she supplied toddlers with rectangles and let them create a robot.
  • Trace and ColorLife with Toddlers provides printables for you to make worksheets for your child to trace and color each shape while you talk them.

Sharing with Friends

Unlike some skills, sharing does not come naturally to toddlers. Toddlers think that everything belongs to them, even if they have just seen it for the first time across the playground. Start by practicing sharing with your child at home when you’re playing. Play with a toy, then offer it to your toddler to play with. Encourage him to thank you for the toy. After he has been playing with a toy for a while, ask if you can play with it. Don’t force the issue, but work on modeling sharing at home before getting together with peers. Read more about sharing and how to teach it to your toddler in these 10 blog posts.

  • Ask for a ToyIsis Parenting explains that you want to teach your toddler empathy, so if they took a toy from another child go to the other child first and be empathetic about what happened and give them a different toy. Then ask for the toy from your child instead of taking it from him.
  • Point Out Sharing—According to Harvey Karp MD, author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, you should point out when you see someone sharing when you are out in the world, such as a mom sharing fruit with her child. More from this article can be found on WebMD.
  • Model Sharing—Toddlers mimic what they see. According to Young Parents Community, you should model sharing by sharing things with your children and praising them when you see them sharing with a sibling.
  • Sharing Must be Freely DoneTalking Toddlers points out that you shouldn’t make your child share because they will then not equate good feelings with sharing and won’t want to do it again.
  • Praise Your Child for SharingMore 4 Kids explains how you should catch your child sharing and praise them so that they feel good when they share and will want to do it again.
  • Set Your Child up to SucceedConsistent Parenting Advice talks about how hard it is for your child to take their favorite toy to the park only to have to share it with a friend before they’ve had a chance to play with it. Learn how to handle this by reading this blog post.
  • Take TurnsPAMP explains that toddlers up to age three don’t understand ownership, making it’s hard to share, but if you can explain that the kids will take turns with a toy then toddlers will start to learn about sharing.
  • Sing Sharing SongsGrowing a Jeweled Rose shares links with 10 different songs about sharing that you can sing with your child.
  • Be Consistent—Explaining to your child that they need to share should always be the rule, but if there are times when you wouldn’t make your child share a prized possession then you will need to put it up during the play date to avoid being inconsistent, suggests The Labor of Love.
  • Use a Timer—According to Craigslist Dad, using a timer to signal when it’s time to take turns has worked for his family.

Music

Children of all ages love music. Start early by tapping out the beat on your lap or clapping with your hands. Help your toddler clap with the beat. Make sure that your child is learning musicality before you move her to an instrument. Do finger exercises to strengthen her fingers before she is expected to play an instrument. You can even teach your toddler to play the drums if you dare.  Check out these 10 blogs to learn how to incorporate music into your lesson plans for your toddler.

  • Have FunThe American Viola Society encourages music teachers to make the experience fun for the kids instead of mechanical so that they have a good feeling about it.
  • Sing to and with Your Toddler—Start early by singing to your child. When he is able, teach him to sing with you, as music helps cognitive development per Teach What Counts.
  • Use a Book—Try using the book Drumset for Preschoolers, which takes you step-by-step through teaching your child to play the drums and has exercises for kids as young as two, according to Grade Infinity.
  • Use Hand Signals—According to Moms Have Questions Too, kids can learn music and other skills by using hand signals while listening to or singing songs.
  • Repeat ThingsThe Teaching Studio recommends singing or going over songs several times so that toddlers start understanding better what you are teaching.
  • Learn by VideoPBX Training shares a video where your child can use a simple xylophone that he already has to learn to play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
  • Play Games—Read more about playing age specific games with toddlers to learn music, as shown on Sweet Pickle.
  • Matching Game—Print out this pumpkin matching game from Susan Paradis, which teaches notes on the treble clef.
  • Pound the BeatsEarly Childhood Education points out that you can teach toddlers the beats by pounding them out on a drum.
  • Songs about Everyday ThingsBilly Gorilly encourages the use of songs to teach everyday things, like the concept of big versus small.

Cleaning Chores

Toddlers love to help their parents to establish their independence. Take advantage of this stage by teaching them how to do simple chores around the house. These 10 posts explain things that are developmentally appropriate to teach your toddler. Don’t expect them to do it as fast or as well as you can, but encourage them to help so that they are used to helping and doing things around the house as they get older. If you wait until they are older they will resent it and not understand why they have to help all of a sudden.

  • Four Steps to a Clean RoomMom of 6 explains her method for decluttering your child’s room so they can maintain a clean room all the time.
  • Sorting Laundry—According to the post on First Coast Home Pros, toddlers as young as two can learn to sort laundry.
  • Unloading the DishwasherPocket Full of Posies explains how toddlers love to emulate adults and can help you unload the dishwasher.
  • Set the Table—Thanks to the placemats shown on The Chirping Moms, toddlers can follow the picture on the placemat to set the table by themselves.
  • Watering the Plants—Make a watering can like the one on Mama Pea Pod to allow your toddler to help water without drowning the plants.
  • Wipe off BaseboardsRediscovering Yesterday lists 25 things that your toddler can do to help you around the house, one of which is to wipe off the baseboards.
  • Pick Up Toys—According to Hitched, kids as young as two can pick up random toys and put them away.
  • Put Away GroceriesPlayful Learning believes that early on you should let your baby watch you work and then involve him in what you are doing as soon as possible, including things like putting away the groceries.
  • Put Away Clean ClothesBaby Center has an article about chores stating that a toddler can help put away their own clean clothes as long as you label the drawers to make it simpler.
  • Dust with a Sock—Show your toddler how to dust with a sock on his hand. As he gets older he will be able to dust more fragile items, as discussed on Life Organize It.

Bible Lessons

It’s never too early to start teaching your toddler about the bible and God. These 10 blogs will explain bible lessons that are age appropriate. Mix reading simple bible stores with craft projects that tie into the lesson. Make sure that you know the material you want to share and transition from activity to activity quickly so that your toddler doesn’t lose interest. If you make the lesson fun you will keep the attention of your toddler. For examples, read these posts.

  • Mirror Lesson—Using a large mirror you can cover part of it and then ask your toddler to look in the mirror and explain that sometimes we don’t see everything in God’s plan while you go over James 1:23, as explained on Ministry to Children.
  • Read Directly from the Bible—When telling bible stories there are different ways to tell the same story to your toddler, according to A Year with Mom and Dad.
  • Transition Quickly—Download an exciting bible class for babies and toddlers that uses toys to help tell the story at True Aim Education.
  • Simple Stories—Start with the simple stories says Christian Net, like Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve.
  • Teach through Games—Kids learn differently than adults, so to make it fun you can use games like the one shown on The Hem of His Garment.
  • Balloon ActivityFree Children’s Bible Lessons explains an activity where you fill a balloon with air that cannot be seen, much like God.
  • Teaching Right from Wrong—Use bible stories to teach your child right and wrong, as described in the post on The Mini Ark.
  • Use Supplemental Coloring Pages—Read stories from a children’s bible and then add to the story by having your kids do additional activities like the ones discussed on Family Abounds.
  • Sing Songs about Heaven—This blogger on Reach the Children by Hook or by Crook suggests singing a song about heaven to the tune of London Bridges.
  • Salt LessonYou’re the Man Jesus describes a bible lesson that uses salt when explaining about the Salt and the Light in Matthew 5: 13-16.

Dancing

Turning some kid-friendly music on and dancing around the room is a simple way to get your toddler dancing. By the age of three your toddler can go to a formal dance class, but you will need to make sure that the teacher has been trained to work with very young children. Due to a short attention span your toddler will need to keep moving and learning. Many times basic moves are all you can expect from a toddler, but make sure that she is having fun. Toddlers still need to learn gross motor skills and a knowledgeable teacher will encourage them to skip, hop, jump and crawl across the room. For more tips on teaching dance moves to a toddler, check out these 10 blogs.

  • Incorporate Play before Dance—Put out balls and hula hoops and let the kids play before you try to teach them the dance, says Dance Advantage.
  • Be Open to New IdeasMaria’s Movers interviews teachers that believe that dance should be fun and that you should let kids be creative.
  • Use Creative Language—Teach your child to jump and hop by having your child be a friendly frog, a baby kangaroo or even popcorn, as suggested on Dance.
  • Keep the Kids Separated—Sometimes kids can get injured if they stand too close to each other, so Hey Kiki recommends having your young dancer make room.
  • Don’t Expect Too Much—Toddlers can learn to dance, but don’t expect them to learn to dance in a prescribed way, according to 365 Dances.
  • Play Follow the Leader—When kids are very young a simple way to start them dancing is by putting on some dance music and playing follow the leader with your child, says Teach Kids How.
  • Instill a Love for Dance—If you push too hard on getting your toddler to learn a structured dance lesson, she may dislike dance because it doesn’t seem fun, but if you let her dance her way and discover how her body works she will develop a love of dance, says 4 Dancers.
  • Start with Skipping—According to York Shop Talk, beginning dancing should entail gross motor skills like skipping, hopping and galloping.
  • Do Actions While Dancing—Get the kids active by asking them to spin around or touch their toes while dancing to music suggests Kids Play and Create.
  • Turn on Some Music—The best thing you can do to get kids dancing is to turn on some music and dance with them says My Kids Guide.

Manners

Start saying please and thank you when your baby is very young. Kids learn by modeling and if they constantly hear good manners they will think that is normal and learn to have proper manners. Manners extend far beyond just please and thank you though. Teach your child not to chew with his mouth open or talk with his mouth full. Social graces like putting your napkin on your lap and not eating until everyone has been served can be taught as time goes on. Check out these 10 blogs for more ways that you can teach manners to your toddler.

  • Napkin GameLara’s Place and a Cup of Grace suggests playing a game with the napkin by asking if it should go on your head or on the floor, etc.
  • Start YoungIn the Way encourages you to start very young by using please and thank you with your kids so they will grow up learning it.
  • Play the Peas GameCeleb Baby Laundry encourages you to play the Peas Please game using 10 peas to teach please and thank you.
  • Teach by Modeling—Kids learn by watching you at the dinner table, so you need to make sure that you are using your manners every time says Haselfre.
  • Make Up a Funny Reminder Sound—Hold everyone in the family accountable for good manners by having a funny phrase or sound that anyone can do if someone forgets their manners by GR Kids.
  • Praise Good MannersSleep Sense suggests praising your child anytime you catch him using his manners that way he will feel good about using them.
  • Wait Until Everyone is ServedShe Knows gets into the nitty gritty of manners and goes over a long list of them, including waiting until everyone has been served before you start eating unless you’re told to do otherwise by the host.
  • Ask to be ExcusedCraig N Company suggests some common manners for kids, and one is to ask to be excused before leaving the dinner table.
  • Use a Fork Not FingersSuite 101 explains how important it is for kids to use their fork and not their fingers and to lay their fork on their plate after using it instead of putting it back onto the table.
  • Scripting for MannersParenting Skills discusses scripts for how to get your kids to speak to you with respect and how you can accomplish this goal.
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50 Handprint Crafts You Can Make with Your Child

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printsYour kids are only little for a short amount of time, so why not freeze a moment during that time by creating a hand print craft with your child? You and your child can make one-of-a-kind ornaments for your Christmas tree and to give as special gifts. The gifts become keepsakes that can be kept or given away if you like, and these 50 blogs explain how to create several different hand print, fingerprint and even footprint projects so that you can make some of your own.

Ornaments

Hand print ornaments are a unique way to preserve each year of your child’s life. If your kids are older, they may want to add felt scarves to hand print snowmen or use a paint pen to make reindeer out of fingerprints. If your kids are younger, make ornaments by pressing hand prints into clay. Sometimes it’s difficult to get a baby to keep his hand open, so you may have to wait until he is asleep to get his hand print. Make a small hole in the clay before you bake it or allow it to dry so that you have a way to hang it when it’s done. You can paint the clay or leave it white. Check out these 10 blogs to learn what steps to take when creating hand print ornaments.

Dishes

Ceramic dishes are a clever and practical way to preserve hand prints, footprints and fingerprints. There a many clever ideas for turning footprints and hand prints into animals and other objects that can be used on holiday platters, cups and bowls. Depending on what surface you are putting the prints on you can use ink, paint or glitter glue to get a good print that will stay. For more tips, take a look at these 10 blogs.

Gifts

You can never have too many ways to make gifts for the people that you love and care about, and your kids can help make gifts for friends and family. Involve your child in the decision making process to determine what type of craft you will make to give away as gifts. If the gift recipient loves to cook, make him an apron. Maybe grandma has a collection of dish towels and you can make her a new one that celebrates her grandkids. These 10 blogs will explore other gift ideas that use a child’s hand or footprint.

Artwork

These 10 blogs share various art projects that can be hung on the wall or used as holiday decorations. The thing that all of these crafts have in common is that they are all simple enough for the kids to help. These projects will involve letting your kids get their hands dirty, so the kids will most likely love it. If you use a washable paint and protect your child’s clothing you should be set to go. Check out the art projects featured in these blogs to get you and your child started on your own project.

Fabric

Help your child stamp their hand on a T-shirt and then finish up the design by turning the print into a Canadian or American flag. If you can’t decide which hand or footprint project you want to do you might be able to do them all and put together a table runner made out of placemats. Kids love knowing that they helped make something, so be sure to display the project prominently. These projects don’t have an age limit, so make sure to include everyone from your infant to your teenager. To get the step-by-step instructions for these and other projects take a look at these 10 blogs.

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