Back to School – The Best Ways to Ensure You’re Prepared!

The beginning of September can be an extremely stressful time for most families. After having two months off school, most children aren’t excited to go back to the routine that is the school week. Children are often stressed about social and academic situations, while parents try hard to ensure they’re children are prepared for school both emotionally and materially. Parents also have the stress of figuring out before and after school care for their younger children. With everything that goes into preparing your child and yourself for back to school, it might seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to make sure everyone is prepared in the most fun and low stress ways possible.

Back to School Shopping

The first thing you need to do when thinking about back to school shopping is to take an inventory of everything you already have. Once you know what you have, its easier to make a list of what you still need. Although sometimes shopping with your kids can be more complicated than doing it on your own, bringing your children will help them to feel more prepared for school. Letting them make choices for the types of notebooks they get or some new outfits will help them to feel more comfortable with going back to school. This way they will feel like they are going back to school they way they want to look and present themselves which can be a big confidence booster.

Meal Prep

One of the most time consuming and stressful tasks for parents and children old enough to make their lunches, is finding the time to prepare all the meals. Luckily, there are many great recipes and tutorials that can now be found online that show you how to create healthy and varied lunches for an entire week. You and your child can work on most of these recipes together and create their lunches. Choose a night once a week like Sunday, to create the five meals your child will bring to school.

Start Your Routine Early

The summer can bring a lot of bad habits like staying up late and sleeping in. Since these bad habits don’t lend themselves to school and learning, help your children by setting a bedtime and acclimatizing them to it before they go back to school. Starting a week before school starts is a good idea to get your children used to going to sleep and waking up at school appropriate times.

Take Some Family Time

Once the kids go back to school, it becomes a lot harder to make time to spend as a family. With after school curricula’s, work and playdates, sometimes it can feel like there is no time to spend together as a family. Before the kids go back to school, make sure to make use of the time you have left. Plan a board game night, or a nice night out for dinner and a movie. This will be nice time together, but may also offer a distraction from the stresses that can come with going back to school.

Why It’s Important to Let Your Child Make Mistakes

As a parent, sometimes it can just seem easier to “fix” a problem your child is having by solving any of the issues for them. This could be as simple as fitting a piece into a puzzle they are working on, or it can be a more complicated issue like giving in to what they want while they have a tantrum in a public place. It is important for your child to learn from mistakes or consequences in any given situation. By fixing a problem, solving an issue or giving in to an unnecessary demand, you can harm the development of your child, even though if in the moment it seems like the right thing to do. This can also be the case when your children fight. Although sometimes being a mediator can be helpful, it is best for children to learn as early as possible how to mediate their own issues. This will help them to become more well-rounded adults.

Every Child is Different

This seems obvious, but its important. Just as every child is different, parenting each individual child must also be different. In accepting the person your child is, and not forcing the idea of who you think your child is, you can maintain a much better relationship with your child overall. By knowing or trying to understand who your child is, you will be better able to guide them through situations that may arise.

Actions Have Consequences

Not every outcome of your child’s decisions is going to be a good one, nut it is important that you allow your child to experience both good outcomes and negative consequences. You can tell a young child not too touch the stove because its hot as many times as you want, but if that child comes into contact with the stove, they will suffer the natural consequences and get burned. Although your child burning themselves is not an ideal situation, if it occurs accidentally, that child will learn from their mistake. As a parent, there will be a lot of guilt in this sort of situation, but humans learn through trial and error and it is natural for a child to need this sort of situation to learn what “too hot” means.

Judgement of Others

One of the easiest and most common reasons a parent will give in to their child is because of the judgement of others. Its horrifying to think that other people either think you are a bad mom or dad because your child is misbehaving and if it feels like other people around you are thinking it, or are making comments, it can make you start to think maybe there is truth to their words and opinions, but giving in to your child’s tantrums can instill more bad behaviour. If your child thinks that they get their way by crying or yelling, they will do it more often. By standing your ground in any particularly bad tantrum situations, your children will learn that they aren’t able to get away with that behaviour.

In letting your children have tantrums, make their own mistakes and getting to know who they really are, you are setting them up to be a much more well-rounded adult. It can be hard to watch your children fail, especially when you know the answers or are able to fix their issues, but in the long term, failure will be good for your children and celebrating their failures and being there for them in these situations can teach invaluable lessons.

Fidget Spinners – Helpful or Harmful?

Fidget spinners are the newest trend for kids everywhere. These little triangular toys are extremely inexpensive and fit in a child’s hand and spin around. You can even learn how to perform tricks with fidget spinners with video streaming services inundated with how-to tutorials. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a kid who doesn’t have, use or want a fidget spinner and because they are relatively cheap, it seems like an easy toy for parents to gift to their children that will keep some of their time preoccupied.

Although, fidget spinners are considered toys, their original use was seemingly more noble. Fidget spinners were originally marketed towards children with ADHD, anxiety, or being on the autism spectrum.

Helpful

Fidget spinners are being marketed at those with challenges concentrating in class. The idea is, if a child with problems concentrating has an outlet, they won’t be as distracted and “fidget” in class. Fidget spinners are small, handheld and because of this are said to be a good tool in schools for children that have challenges concentrating. Instead of moving around in their seats, looking out the window and having a hard time paying attention to their teachers, children can focus their extra energy into this small toy.

One of the biggest pros of fidget spinners is that they have become mainstream. A lot of students who used to feel like tools like this marked their differences and made them stand out as needing extra help in class, now feel as if this standout tool has been normalized. Learning challenges can be stress enough for a lot of children who don’t want to stand out or be different from their peers. Fidget spinners are regular and common and not only do kids with learning challenges have them, but their friends do as well.

Harmful

There has been a huge outbreak lately with classrooms and schools banning fidget spinners and for good reason. This toy which was originally intended as tool for children with specific concentration challenges ahs become “on trend” and now instead of a few kids in class using these toys, it’s most kids. For children who do not have challenges focusing, the fidget spinner has become an extremely large distraction. Teachers are finding that they don’t have the full attention of their students anymore and that fidget spinners have become less of a tool and more of a toy.

Fidget spinners have evolved from just a triangular device on a ball-mechanic system that you spin in your hand to help avoid fidgeting throughout your whole body. With the multitude of available YouTube tutorials teaching children how to do tricks, its no wonder the tool has become more of a toy. Children are using these spinners in class and they have become a massive distraction.

Other Options

Tactile discs, putties, clays, stress balls, or even fidget cubes are all great options as replacements for fidget spinners. These options can all be used as tools for students that need help focusing on class and their teachers and are often used for children with sensory challenges.

 

 

Challenges of Childcare Centers

It’s becoming more rare to find a family that has a “stay at home parent”. Childcare in some way, shape or form has become a large burden on most families as they are outsourcing the job just to make ends meet. There is a vicious cycle of families needing to work to be able to afford life’s expenses and extras like childcare, just to be able to afford things like childcare. Childcare centers are becoming more expensive and it seems, also problematic for a lot of families in the way they are raising their children.

Affordability

Most families aren’t able to afford a single-parent income with all of life’s expenses like food, rent or mortgage payments, transportation, or any other fixed or extra costs. For most families, it makes more sense to have two incomes and hire a childcare service for their children because of all of the other expenses they incur. Most families cannot afford all of their expenses on one income alone and so one parent is unable to stay at home to take care of their children. In Ontario, full day, play-based kindergarten was implemented to try to help offset the costs and stress of childcare for children, but before and after school care can still be extremely expensive.

Different Children Have Different Needs

It’s commonly known that children do not learn or grow at the same pace and that they don’t all have the same preferences or needs. For childcare centers, it’s impossible to program a full day or half day that will meet the needs of each child. Common issues that will arise for children in childcare centers is the food that is offered. Although, healthy meals and snacks are mandated, that does not mean your child will want to eat it, which can be difficult. Naptimes can also cause friction. Some children may not be tired, or they take a nap and then have trouble sleeping later at night. Since every child is different and has varying needs, childcare centers can only really base their programming on the needs of the average child and try to alter and adjust it for children that are exceptions to the general rule.

Homecare

Home care can be a great option for a lot of families. Oftentimes homecare is charged by the hour rather than a fixed price per child, per day. This is also a great option for parents who work part-time. Home care is a great option for children because they don’t have to be uprooted to a new location and instead their caregiver will come to them in a place they are familiar with. Parents will find that instead of having to arrange drop off and pick up times, having a caregiver come to them will help with their overall flexibility. Childcare centers usually have set hours that parents must work around, but by hiring a homecare worker, you get to choose the times that work best for you.

BookJane can help you with all of your childcare homecare needs. We have many highly skilled and qualified caregivers who are just a click away on our app. Each caregiver has undergone thorough background checks and comes with great references and recommendations. You can hire a BookJane caregiver ahead of time, or if something comes up last minute.

Great Children’s Books to Teach and Help Develop Empathy and Acceptance

One of the most important things a child can learn is to empathize and to be accepting of others. Children often see things through a selfish lens because they haven’t yet learned the importance of different perspectives. Its vital for children to learn from an early age that despite our differences, living creatures all have emotions and can feel hurt by the actions of others. When children are exposed to the idea of acceptance and are taught to empathize with the struggles of others, they become more well-rounded adults who can co-exist more peacefully. Here are some books that explore themes of acceptance and empathy that you can read to or with your child to help them to learn a valuable lesson through story as opposed to a lecture.

Picture Books

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One is a story about colours and their differences and the number that comes along to teach them how to come together and count. This story teaches young readers about numbers and counting as well as primary and secondary colours, all the while also how to learn to accept each other’s differences.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This story is about a blue crayon that has been mistakenly labelled red. The blue crayon has an identity crisis when everything he tries to colour doesn’t look the way it should. Red, the blue crayon, must come to terms with his inner self despite what his outsides say. This story will teach children that labels aren’t important and that people aren’t always what they seem on the outside.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches is a classic story by Dr. Seuss about two distinct kinds of Sneetches. The plain-bellied Sneetches and the star-bellied Sneetches and how this physical difference keeps them separated. This story discusses segregation and discrimination in a simple way that really gets the point across and will help children to realize that even if they don’t look like someone else, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. We can’t judge others based on physical differences.

Chapter Books

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is a graphic novel/memoir detailing author Cece Bell’s younger years with severe hearing loss and the Phonic Ear that sets her apart from her classmates. At first, the hearing aid, which is bulky and awkward, prevents Cece from making new friends, but in this funny and truly beautiful graphic novel, Cece is able to learn to control the Phonic Ear and become her own superhero. This is a heartwarming tale that shows its readers that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte’s Web is a classic and well-beloved tale about a girl named Fern and the love she shares for a pig named Wilbur. This is a must read for all children because of Fern’s true compassion towards animals. Fern looks after Wilbur because he is the runt of his litter and saves him from an awful fate. This is a novel of friendship of a different kind that will teach children the intelligence of animals and that having compassion for all living beings is important.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

This is a book about a young boy with a facial difference that has prevented him from attending regular school. Starting in the 5th grade at a mainstream school, the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, just wants to be treated like a normal kid. Unfortunately, it seems that his classmates have a hard time looking past his facial difference to meet the real Auggie. This is a great book for middle grade kids that tackles feeling different, standing up to your bullies and the struggle of trying to find acceptance.

Each of these stories offer a unique perspective on the differences of those around us that will help your children to learn to find acceptance and be able to empathize with their peers. The younger children are able to learn these lessons, the more tolerant they will be as adults.

Fun Activities for Your Kids This Summer that Still Use Brain Power!

It’s the beginning of June and the end of the school year is quickly approaching. It’s time to start planning some fun summer activities for you and your kids. It’s always good to have a mix of relaxing and stimulating activities. Just because school’s out and your kids are on vacation, doesn’t mean that they have to stop learning. Try to use any opportunity you can to keep their minds curious and exploring.

Here are some ideas for activities for your kids that will keep their minds fresh for school in September:

Attractions to Visit

Zoo’s, museums, science centre’s and other great attractions can be found all around the country. These places offer great resources and learning opportunities. Animals and nature and cultural and scientific experiences all offer learning, but at these establishments, children are interacting with creatures and experiments. They are learning through doing, rather than by listening or watching. Not only will your kids be learning, but they’ll be having fun while doing it. Nothing about going to the zoo or a science centre will feel forced. This will be a fun outing for the whole family that won’t feel like learning. The best part of these types of places is that they often offer group discounts or cheaper tickets for children’s entry. This makes going to these attractions affordable and worthwhile.

Everyday Simple Activities

Oftentimes, we overlook the simple and free activities in local areas. A lot of parks hold free (or donation only) events throughout the summer. These are a great option for you and your kids. Art in the Park is a staple in most towns and cities (or will be in a town nearby) which will allow you and your children to wander through a festival in the summer weather that has lots of ways to get kids involved. Usually there are bouncy castles, face painting and kids crafts stations that your child will love. These days in the park pair perfectly with a picnic lunch. You can also take your children out for hikes, walks and bike rides. These are activities that take up a lot of energy, and are great exercise. These activities can be combined with a beach day.

On Their Own

Do some research to find out about day camps and special programs being run in your area. Many community centres and libraries offer events for children throughout the summer. Summer Reading Challenges are common at local libraries and usually they offer prizes to children who reach certain reading goals. These are great programs to keep your child’s mind sharp throughout the summer. Community centres sometimes offer craft days, dances (for older children), classes and movie nights. All these activities will keep your children entertained with very little parental effort.

Camping/Cottage

Although not all families have access to a cottage each summer, take advantage of the outdoors and try to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and technology. Spending time at a cottage or going camping lets kids spend time outdoors and with their families. Children have to use their imagination and creativity to play games and make the outdoors fun. Plus, nothing beats eating hotdogs and marshmallows roasted by the fire.

If you find you don’t have the time or money to get away to a cottage or on a camping trip, why not choose a night to go camping in the backyard. This will be a great experience for your kids this summer!

Sports & Games

A lot of kids are excited about being active. There are many summer sports leagues that you can enroll your child in. Some of the more popular summer sports are soccer and baseball. There are a lot of kids leagues out their that don’t take up a huge time commitment. Not only is playing a sport great exercise for your child, but team sports will help your them to socialize and learn to be as part of a group.

Alternately, you can take your children to see an amateur or professional sports game. There are a lot of amateur teams playing in the summer. You’ll get to watch a sport together and maybe teach them some of the rules and pique their interest in learning to play.

As a parent, summer can be hard. Even though your kids have two months off, you still have work and other responsibilities. Trying to get your children engaged in activities with others and on their own will keep them entertained, active and still learning.

 

10 Ways to Make the Babysitter Hate You

You’ve found the perfect babysitter. They’re always on time, they’re great with the kids, and they can get your little Sophia to bed without a fuss. Now you want to make sure you don’t lose them. Just like you don’t want just anybody watching your kids, babysitters don’t want to babysit for just anyone. Here is a list of common pitfalls not to fall into if you want to your babysitters to work for you again.

1. Don’t welcome them
A surefire way to get off on the wrong foot with a babysitter is to not greet them properly. When you welcome a new babysitter into your home, act excited to see them and show them around. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it sets the tone. When the kids see you’re friendly and excited to see the babysitter, they’ll follow suit. Secondly, giving the babysitter a warm welcome helps them feel comfortable. Don’t forget to give them a quick tour too, so they can get familiar with your home. It’ll be much easier for them to make the kids dinner if you show them around the kitchen before you go, and they’ll be grateful you showed them how to turn on the TV once the little ones go to bed.

2. Leave them with no information
You can’t just walk out the door when the sitter arrives without giving any information. Emergency numbers, behavioural problems, allergies, medications – this is all information your sitter needs to know for safety reasons. Some information, like when you expect to be home, you can just tell the sitter before you go, but important information, like the phone number you can be reached at, should be written down and stuck on the fridge. The safety stuff is important, but don’t forget other information that might be helpful. Does your child have a specific bedtime routine? Is there an easy way to calm them down from a tantrum? What’s the wifi password? Providing this info will make the experience go smoother and be much more enjoyable.

3. Leave a novel of instructions
Yes, you don’t want to leave the caregiver clueless and empty-handed, but leaving pages upon pages of instructions, rules and schedules doesn’t do any good either. The babysitter has experience and knows what they’re doing, so there’s no need to micromanage. You don’t need to describe how your child likes to eat apple slices at 6 p.m. while playing Clue Jr. Let your child decide when they’re ready for snack, and whether they want to play Clue Jr. or Monopoly. If the sitter is too caught up in the details of the instructions, they won’t be able to pay attention to your kid.

4. Surprise them
Surprises are for birthday parties and presents, not for babysitters. It’s not fair to forget to tell the sitter about your Saint Bernard. What if they’re allergic to dogs? It’s also not fair to tell the babysitter you only have one child, and then wait until they arrives to tell them your child has a playdate and they’ll also be watching four other kids from the neighbourhood. Babysitters need to know what they’re in for ahead of time so they can be prepared and make the proper arrangements.

5. Linger
The absolute worst thing you can do when you leave the house is have a long, drawn-out, dramatic goodbye. Yes, there may be tears. It’s a good thing you’re leaving your kid with a child care professional who knows exactly what to do! Coddling, hovering, and spying will only make things worse – we promise. The sooner you leave, the sooner they’ll stop crying, so stick to a quick, cheerful goodbye, and get out. Your babysitter will thank you.

6. Check in too often
You would probably be pretty upset if you found out the babysitter was texting and calling friends while watching your child, so you shouldn’t want them on the phone with you the whole time either. It’s reasonable to check in on a new sitter once or twice, but texting every few minutes, calling for updates constantly, and demanding pictures of playtime is way too much. You should have left the sitter your number, so let them call you if there’s a problem. Show them you trust them, give them space, and let them focus on your child.

7. Make them do too much
Yes, it’s okay to ask the babysitter to clean up after dinner or help with some homework. But to expect that they’ll go over and above the job description, like wash and fold the laundry or do a whole science project, is a definite no-no. Babysitters are there to watch your kids; they’re not maids. If you have any special requests, make sure it’s agreed upon in advance – don’t just spring it on them. Keep it simple with the sitter. Just ordering pizza makes it easy on everyone: your kids will enjoy the treat and the babysitter will get to spend time with your child instead of worrying about meal prep and clean-up.

8. Come home late
If you expect your babysitter to arrive at the agreed-upon time, the same should be expected of you. The babysitter might actually prefer if you stay out and party longer (more hours means a bigger paycheck), but you never know. They might have another job booked or plans with friends after you come home. Delays happen and might be outside your control, but if you know you’re going to come home later than you told the sitter, at least give them a head’s up, so they’re not up all night worrying.

9. Don’t pay them on time
This is a common scenario. You get home from your night out at the movies, you bought popcorn and candy, and now you don’t have enough cash to pay the babysitter. “I’ll pay you next time you babysit,” you say. Don’t! Your babysitter did their job – they kept your kids alive and well while you were out, and now you have to live up to your end of the deal. What if they don’t babysit for you again, or you don’t need them for a few months, and they were depending on the money now? Before you get home, make sure you have enough cash to properly compensate the babysitter. Lucky for you, the BookJane app negates this issue by automatically charging your credit card through the app, no tip needed!

10. Cancel last-minute (without paying)
Remember, the babysitter set aside their time to work for you with the promise of being paid. What if they turned down another gig to work for you? What if they planned their schedule around your day? Cancelling at the latest possible moment is unfair and frustrating. Same goes for coming home early. It’s great that you come home early, but what if the sitter was counting on the money from those extra hours? If you cancel on short notice or come home earlier than you anticipated, it’s common courtesy to pay your sitter anyway.