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Best Parks in the Bay Area

It’s no secret that the Bay Area has both gorgeous views and great weather during the summer months. With the first day of Summer quickly approaching the days will continue to get longer and warmer. Of course, this means more days will be spent outdoors and a great way to spend those days is by soaking up the sun in a great park with your family. This post will outline a few of the best parks located in the Bay Area for you to enjoy!

San Francisco:

  • Yerba Buena Gardens

https://yerbabuenagardens.com/

Although this park is relatively smaller than most, it has much to offer. Yerba Buena Gardens sits in the “Cultural Heart of San Francisco.” It’s surrounded by museums, shops, dining and beautiful sights. This park is a perfect spot to attend museums for children who are interested in exploring and learning. Attached to this park is the Children’s Creativity Museum. With a purchase of a ticket that costs around $13 children and adults can tap into their creative minds through fun activities and exhibits such as the music studio, tech lab and even an animation lab!

  • Julius Kahn Playground

http://sfrecpark.org/destination/julius-kahn-playground/

This park is located on the edge of Presidio National Park. It’s most recent renovations transformed it to have a “state-of-the-art Parisian style play area.” This playground is a great place for toddlers to explore while you sit back under a shaded tree. The best part is that Presidio National Park itself is a large park that has much more to offer. If the kids or you want to get away from the playground area there are plenty of other areas to explore, such as trails, open grass fields and more!

Oakland:

  • Lakeside Park

https://www.oaklandca.gov/services/parks-and-recreation-index/parks/lakeside-park

This park is located by Lake Merritt and offers beautiful views. You can bird watch as well as explore by biking or walking through trails. This park also offers a unique section dedicated to a Japanese garden and Koi pond. One thing to note is that this park does charge a small fee (details in the link) for parking. But the price is well worth it!

  • Children’s Fairyland

http://www.fairyland.org/

This incredibly unique park filled with activities, rides, exhibits and more that help bring classic children stories to life! Guests pay $10 each to explore the 10-acre park and “throughout the year, Children’s Fairyland provides free passes to community members who would otherwise not be able to afford to visit.” This park is for the children in all of us! You’re able to enter an immersive world filled with magic keys and almost 60 different sets including: both Pinocchio’s and Rapunzel’s Castles, sliding down the Alice in Wonderland Tunnel, and Jack and Jill’s Hill!

San Jose:

  • Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

http://www.hhpz.org/index.cfm/id/2/Purchase-Tickets/

Exploring Happy Hollow will surely provide everyone with fun, no matter the age. You can purchase a one way ticket to fun for around $15 a person. Here the whole family can enjoy exciting animal exhibits, learn new fun facts, hang out in play areas or enjoy over 15 rides and attractions! Homemade lunches are allowed into the park so you can enjoy your favorite snacks while saving some extra cash!

San Mateo:

  • Ryder Park

https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/3333/Ryder-Park

Ryder Park is a part of the larger Shoreline Parks in San Mateo. This park has a lot to offer to its visitors no matter their ages. You can take your pick of activities from enjoying the picnic facilities, to walking the boardwalk to observe wildlife. This park even offers a great kid friendly water area filled with splash pads so kids can cool down after enjoying the other recreational experiences.

Sunnyvale:

  • Seven Seas Park

https://www.mommynearest.com/place/seven-seas-park-sunnyvale

Located at 1010 Morse Ave in Sunnyvale, this park offers a great solution to any hot summer day. It’s covered with splash pads and themed water areas to keep you cool! This park is a great alternative for the little ones who might not by strong enough swimmers to spend long hours in the pool yet. The best news is that you can enjoy this park for free!

The list provided is here to help you scout your new favorite spots to relax, play, and enjoy a picnic among many other things. Looking back people might not remember the specifics of each day spent at the park, instead what they will remember is a feeling of nostalgia that will always be with them. I still remember my summer days spent running around and exploring in my favorite neighborhood parks because of all the fun and laughter shared with my loved ones.

If you like this list or feel like we left out a great spot let me know! Feel free to reach out by commenting on our post. Do you know of any unique activities that get the whole family engaged once you’re at the park? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! I hope you enjoyed this short read, and most importantly I hope you were able to find a new place where you can create lasting memories this summer.

Learning Biology, Exercising Empathy, and Appreciating Nature: Using Bugs to Teach Kids

Bugs. They’re annoying. Gross, perhaps. Maybe for you they’re even scary. But I’m writing this to try and convince you that you should give bugs a chance, particularly when a kid is watching you interact with them. Bugs can be an uncommon way to teach a kid about appreciating nature and biology, and also an opportunity for an exercise in empathy towards something smaller and weaker than us.

Just so I’m clarifying early on and avoiding any feather ruffling, I’m using the colloquial “bugs” here. In biological terms, true bugs are Hemiptera, a specific order of insects. But bugs has always had a nice ring to it when referring to anything small and crawly, and it’s what most people use it for.

I’ll be honest with my bias here: I’m not on the bug hate train. I think they’re interesting little creatures. Heck, I think they’re downright cute. For as long as I remember, I was running around with a cup putting a spider or some such back outside, or sharing a Cheez-It with some ants, or just watching a bee go about its day.

But here’s the important bit: I knew the word for and said I wanted to be an entomologist (studies insects) as early as Kindergarten. I actively read science books about all sorts of insects, arachnids, and other arthropods. I was spending time outside finding them and catching them.

Now, I’m not assuming the kid you’re working with will react to them as strongly as I did. I’ll be the first to admit that my interest was probably a bit unique to someone who’s just taken by something. But I do think there’s a lot of value there in what people usually see as a nuisance at best.

First things first: bugs are living animals. And it doesn’t take an expensive and possibly crowded zoo trip to see them. If you can get the child you’re caring for invested in what really is its own tiny world, you can foster an interest in biology right in your backyard.

It’ll help to arm yourself with some facts here. Knowing what bug you’re looking at in a general sense isn’t too hard. Making a specific species id is sometimes impossible without some pretty intimate knowledge, but it’s generally doable to know some facts about what you’ve found, and impart those facts to the kiddo you’re showing the bug to.

Insectidentification.org is a site with some great resources for finding out what sort of thing you’re looking at beyond “gross bug.” Once you’ve got an idea of the common name, a google search of just that will give you bunches of articles and likely a Wikipedia page with information about behavior, diet, and habitat.

You might be surprised yourself to find out some new stuff about the tiny worlds operating beneath our feet. Maybe you didn’t know that wolf spiders don’t spin the traditional spider web and actually go on the prowl or wait ready to pounce near a burrow to hunt their prey. Or it might be news that worker bees cooperate to find flowers, doing a dance when they arrive at the hive to let other workers know where to go for good food pickings.

Cool little bits of info like that can really grab a child’s attention. Much like pointing to a giraffe at a zoo and explaining why they have the long neck, you can point in your own garden and describe what’s happening there. All it takes is telling a kid that the bee that they’re looking at is a worker bee and therefore female to pique just a bit of interest in how they work overall.

But maybe for whatever reason you’re not so keen on the child you’re watching diving head first into biological science with bugs. Or maybe that just doesn’t feel worth the price of having to deal with creepy crawlies (I know they can bother people quite a bit). However, biology isn’t my only selling point here.

If you’re a person that enjoys nature and wants a child to do the same, bugs are a good way to encourage that and give them something fun to do outside. Maybe you’re not barraging them with cool insect facts. Maybe you’re just pointing them out, giving them a jar to catch them with, or letting them watch a trail of ants try to devour a bit of cracker. Let them enjoy this bit of nature the same way you might appreciate a flower together. It helps get you out together more as well. If the kiddo isn’t dreading the insects but embracing them, that’s one less thing preventing them from running around outside.

Another cool bit about bugs is using them to let a child practice very early on empathy for something small that they’re obviously stronger than. It might be simpler to smush the spider or beetle scurrying around the house, but it can be rewarding, at least in my mind, to encourage a kid to not kill out of convenience. I’m far from saying not killing bugs is going to solve bullying or any such large and complex issue, just that it’s an easy small spot you can show a child a kind of gentleness to other things.

I would say it’s a good idea to get a handle on what bugs are a problem to see in your house and what aren’t. Bed bugs are something you should call someone for, even if you get squicked out by killing something, because they can be a real issue. But a lone house spider is basically a non-issue, and is actually probably helping you out by eating things you don’t want around. There are lots of sites that’ll show you what a bed bug or a termite looks like, and the grand majority of bugs you’re likely to run into in your home are not serious house-damaging or you-damaging problems.

Helping a child to not be afraid of something small, and to even be interested in it or kind towards it, I feel is very much a positive. I understand this is a hard sell for some people, but if you feel like you could, maybe try giving bugs a chance. You might find they’re more interesting than you thought, and a decent teaching tool to show children a little piece of their natural world.

Playing Pretend can be a Great Spot for budding Writers to Try New Ideas

Babysitting was the first thing I did as a job when I was a young teen. And like many a young babysitter, the main activity done to keep the kiddos occupied was the ever-classic “playing pretend.” Now, it may seem a little tiring to keep up with all the wild imaginings of a kid who wants to play. But, for those of you that are writers, you might be missing a gem of opportunity by treating it like a chore. Because playing pretend with a kid is a secret, safe, little garden to try out new story ideas, and encourage some imagination and creative output from the child you’re playing with.

The first thing that makes kids the best people to try very initial new characters and ideas with is pretty simple: it is so much less embarrassing. Plenty of writers have desired something in between kicking an idea around yourself and having the guts to run it by an adult friend when it’s still not feeling fully-formed. And I’m all for running ideas with friends, family, and anyone who you trust to listen and give good constructive criticism. But I’ll admit there are creative concepts that I’ve tried to express that have just come out muddled because of my getting self conscious in the middle of talking about them. I don’t think I’ve worried about being too silly playing pretend while babysitting. In fact, it’s safe to say some kids will happily out-silly you.

That brings us to a decent point to make. When you’re playing pretend, remember that first and foremost this is for the child you’re working with or the guardian of. It’s a good spot to try out ideas for sure, but if a kid’s not interested, it’s important to go by what they want. In fact, it’s a fun way to challenge yourself. Don’t look at this as literally writing your story. Look at is as a way to challenge yourself by rolling with any fun or silly thing the kid adds. If they want to be in Hogwarts as Harry Potter, see what a character you have would do in Hogwarts. It’s more about exploring the space than literally writing every little detail down. Consider this a story you’re writing together, and make sure that the kiddo is leading the charge on most things.

If the child you’re playing with is the storytelling type, it might be fun to build a little world with characters together. Ask them what stories they like best, and maybe build something collaborative after that. If they enjoy fantasy, ask them how magic would work if they were writing a world. If they like stories with aliens, ask them questions about what kind of alien they would make up. You’ll get some real cred as a babysitter that encourages creativity and storytelling in kids. Just make sure you give some credits to that babysitting or nannying or being a parent if you ever get that dream novel written, and let the kid keep the ideas that they come up with for their own future novel. This is more about getting creative juices flowing and exploring things you’ve thought of than having someone you’re taking care of come up with things for you.

I’ll be honest. I grew out of playing pretend a little later than everyone else. But luckily I had a younger brother, and also starting babysitting meant getting to play pretend again even more. Obviously don’t put pressure on any kid to be the place you can create. You are there for them and not the other way around after all. But if you do find yourself playing pretend with a kid or some kids, it can be a pretty fun space to play a character you’ve been working on, or introduce an idea you’re unsure about. Kids are great about not passing judgement and often give very constructive criticism! 

Kids Should be Able to Express Their Bodily Autonomy

When I was in high school, I volunteered as a summer camp counselor. It was a wonderful experience, and though I’d worked with kids in other contexts before that (including a heaping helping of babysitting), there was one thing in the experience that surprised me. One kid was particularly rambunctious in comparison to the others and could sometimes ruffle some fellow campers’ feathers. But unlike other large-scale childcare experiences that I had been through, this particular camp had a policy of generally not telling kids no or telling them to apologize.

Now, this isn’t something I necessarily always agree with. I do think you often have to tell kids no (we can’t only eat ice cream), and I also think that a lot of those decisions depend on the particular child. But the camp didn’t devolve drastically into any sort of chaos. One interesting bit was the logic behind not making kids apologize: they shouldn’t have to say something they don’t mean and apologies start to feel like they’re just something you say even when you don’t feel it. It was an interesting approach: explain to a kid why and how they might have hurt someone and tell them it might be kind to apologize if they felt bad. I think there’s an area beyond apologies that could really use a transfer of this sort of thinking.

We’ve all essentially agreed that touching someone without permission isn’t alright. But it seems there can be a bit of a blindspot in our rule when it comes to children. I don’t imagine you’d have to think too hard to remember yourself being told, someone you know being told, or even telling a child to give a family member a hug or even let a family member kiss them. “Go on, give Grandma a kiss” isn’t an unusual phrase.

I’m far from the only person to talk about teaching kids about their own bodily autonomy, and there are many approaches to it, but I don’t think it ever hurts to add to the discussion. Giving children the ability to say no to touch instills in them the concept that their body is theirs, and that they’re allowed to tell people not to touch them, even when it’s Granny that wants a hug or kiss.

Children don’t always have the same logic as us adults. It’s simple for us to separate a kind touch from something more sinister. But for kids, adults can often be a monolith that is supposed to be good and knowledgeable. A group that you have to listen to because they “know better.” It’s good to inform children that they can have boundaries, even between themselves and adults, and bodily autonomy is a pretty simple concept to do so with.

In addition, it’s unfortunate to have to point out, but my time as a criminal justice student has me more than aware that those more sinister and unwanted touches are statistically more likely to come from a friend or family member (in fact, 90 percent of such victims know their abuser). Teaching a child to say no when they’re uncomfortable or just feeling shy, even when it’s someone they like or someone that their parents are positive towards, isn’t just a way to make them feel more secure in their physical selves. It’ll also keep you secure in the fact that they know their body belongs to them.

But this isn’t all scary stuff and statistics. I’m certainly not trying to create some sort of panic talking about this, or saying that you need to teach a child to be distrustful of the people close to them. This is something that I think is useful even when not talking about those worst case scenarios. Even when it’s completely harmless Grandpa or Grandma so-and-so, letting your kid know that their body is theirs seems a positive in relatively innocent contexts as well. After all, we wouldn’t expect a friend or family member to hug us if they weren’t big on hugging or were just feeling down that day.

A child is a small person developing in the world. And they need to be taught what the rules of the world are, in gradually more and more complex ways. The main reason to teach a kid that there body is theirs shouldn’t be for fear of some terrible criminal consequence that happens to them if you don’t. A child should be able to say when they don’t like to be touched because there’s no immediate danger or negative effect to letting them do so, and we adults generally don’t like to be touched when we aren’t feeling it. Giving children the same boundaries teaches them early that those boundaries are absolutely okay.

There are two things you’ll want to consider if this is a topic you want to focus in on: how to explain it to the kiddo and how to explain it to adults that might be a little put-off by the whole thing for one reason or another. There are many people who think kids should essentially listen to everything an adult says. That isn’t my personal opinion, though definitely not attempting to pass too harsh a judgement on other parent or guardian styles. This is a suggestion I have that I believe could be positive for a lot of kids, nothing more.

Explaining to a child that they can say no to touch may seem pretty simple, but it’s important to keep in mind that depending on the kid, concepts might get reduced down into something not quite ideal. We don’t want kids screaming “No!” at the top of their lungs every time someone pats them on the head or tries to give them a hug.

Of course, you should adapt this to whatever works for the kid or kids you are working with, but personally my go-to for explaining this would be describing that it is possible to say a polite no. Phrases like “I’m not feeling like a hug right now” or “I’d rather not be touched at the moment” or even “Could we high-five instead?” are all good suggestions to offer up as polite ways to say no. But I also think it’s a good idea to tell them if the person pushes, they are well within their rights to get a little more forceful at a certain point. Basically, making it clear that there is no point at which they have to relent and be touched.

Explaining concepts to adults is hopefully a little easier. If an aunt or grandpa tries to insist on a hug, and even looks to you for some assistance in getting said hug, a simple “I’m teaching them that their body belongs to them and they never have to be touched” should probably be enough for them to understand. You’re the guardian or caretaker, so your word should go.

Every kid is different, with a unique personality and different needs. However, I personally think that at least most children could benefit from a clear understanding of their own bodies. They don’t need to be dropping the term “bodily autonomy” or anything; it’s possible for kids to have a decent comprehension of the concept that they only need to allow touch from people that they’d like to.

The Benefits of Cooking With Children

There’s almost no better way to connect with friends and family than over food. If we think about most “feel-good” foods they’re usually packed with sugar and carbs that make them  unhealthy. Both children and adults usually flock towards these, less healthy options, because of comfort, ease and taste. It is important to take care of our bodies by first examining what we are putting into them, through our food. Making the choice to lean towards healthier meals can be a little nerve wracking when considering all members of the family that will also be making the change because of you.

I’m sure many of us know or are picky eaters and when you think of them it’s more than likely that a child is on the top of that list. I believe one should face the challenge of a child that’s skeptical of new, more nutritious foods, by creating an environment where the child can aid in the overall cooking process. In this blog post I’m going to dive into some benefits of incorporating children into your meal planning, preparing and cooking, as well as, provide a few yummy and healthy recipes. I will also provide you with information on where to find some local farmers markets in the Bay Area where you’ll be able to purchase all natural ingredients and support your local farmers!

Cooking with family can be a wonderful, memory making experience. I’m sure most of us can think back to a time in our childhood when you waited patiently in the kitchen. Your mind, filled with curiosity as your eyes followed the chef’s (usually a parent, older family member or grandparent) every movement. The sounds of slicing, sizzling, and dicing filled the room and quickly after came the delicious aromas, out of the oven, or from the stove top. These experiences can be very beneficial to children because they’re filled with so much more than just cooking. Sharing the art and love of cooking with others can help build stronger bonds, especially when children are included. A sense of both trust and responsibility accompanies children once they’re able to aid in such a big decision and process for the family, such as making a meal. Furthermore, according to a survey quoted by The Washington Post, children “…who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them.”

Along with the emotional benefits, children gain from the experience in many other ways. Cooking requires an open mind, palate, and much focus. Every step in a cooking process is crucial. This is why children can gain focus and learn to become more detail oriented. These are two qualities that will help in various aspects of life. If a family meal means that everyone takes part in the food making process, everyone will learn to appreciate the time, thought and effort that goes into every meal, even more than they already did. A sense of pride can be felt when you create a new concoction in the kitchen, and children will feel the same when they’re partaking in the process. The last benefit I will list is equally as important as the others and it is, basic math and language skills. Cooking is full of numbers on measurements and words on recipes.The article, “Cooking with Preschoolers,” explains how basic math skills are used through the measurements and counting ingredients. Meanwhile, the article also states that, “when you read a recipe together, you’re introducing new words to your child’s vocabulary and promoting literacy”.

Now it’s time for some possible meal ideas to try with the whole family! I will feature four different recipes, one for: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each meal will contain ingredients that are packed with all the nutrients and vitamins that your family needs to grow stronger and healthier, without having to sacrifice good taste.

  • Breakfast: the “You-Call-It-Egg-Scramble”

This recipe is as quick and easy as it sounds. Everyone gets to create their own egg scrambles with their favorite ingredients. The ingredients needed for this will be: eggs (about 1-2 per scramble depending on the appetite), and the rest is up to you! Whatever you have in your fridge can work for this breakfast. For example, fresh vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc., or low fat shredded cheese, fresh salsa, ham, soyrizo, pepper, salt, cayenne, and so on.

First, you’ll want to make sure all your ingredients are prepared by chopping and separating them into different bowls. Then with an olive oiled or buttered skillet on medium heat, allow everyone to come up one at a time and create their signature scramble. They can list their ingredients so they can be placed. Once cooked through, add the scrambled egg to the mixture.

  • Lunch: Family Style Taco Bar

Much like the recipe above, a Family Style Taco Bar means you can choose whatever ingredients you’d like for people to pick through. From corn to flour tortillas, sauteed vegetables, ground beef or chicken, fresh salsa, shredded cheese, and so on. The possibilities are endless with this family lunch idea that is bound to be a hit. Everyone can aid in the prepping process, and of course in creating their very own personalized tacos.

For the full recipe click the link below:

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/taco-bar#spicy-ground-beef

  • Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Ground Turkey and Marinara

This recipe is a great alternative to carb filled pasta. As for your ingredients you’ll need: 1-2 spaghetti squashes (depending on the size of your family), 1 lbs of ground turkey, ½ cup of breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of milk, olive oil, spices/seasoning (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic), and you can chose to use your favorite bottled marinara sauce or make your own!

The first step will be to preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cut the spaghetti squash in half. Drizzle the insides with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake for about an hour. Once cooled you’ll spoon out the “spaghetti” into a bowl and set it aside. Next, in a clean bowl you’ll mix the ground turkey with the breadcrumbs, garlic, spices, and milk. Form these into small balls and place them in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until thoroughly browned on all sides. Finally, add the meatballs to your spaghetti squash and finish with your sauce on top.

Click the link for the full recipe:

https://www.marthastewart.com/355561/spaghetti-squash-turkey-meatballs

A meal is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. This is why before going on your next trip to the grocery store, you may want to opt for a local farmers market instead! Farmers markets can be beneficial to both your family and your local economy. Many food stands that belong to farmers markets are usually owned and maintained locally. The farmers take pride in their products and have a greater sense of connection to the communities around them. Most times you’re able to directly speak to someone who knows the ins and outs of their process and can ask any questions you may have about their products. The items found in a local market can often be fresher since they’re traveling a shorter distance to get to you. This is why I recommend making a stop at one the next time you need some groceries for a healthy meal.

You can find a list of the different farmers markets in the Bay Area using the link below. Each market featured has its own website that you can access to gain further information such as, exact locations and time of operation. Many of the markets actually have an option to sign up for their email newsletters that detail upcoming events, “crop watches” to find out what foods you can expect at the weekly markets, and even more recipes to try out!

http://www.cafarmersmkts.com/find-your-farmers-market/

Overall, cooking with children can be a great experience for everyone involved and making the transition to healthier meals can be done! As you read, there are plenty of benefits that come along with incorporating your family into cooking as well. Have you witnessed any of the benefits of cooking with children before? Do you have any favorite farmers markets in the Bay Area? If you try out any of the recipes let us know how they worked out for you! Do you have any suggestions for other healthy meals that incorporate the whole family in the cooking process? If so, be sure to share them with the Bay Area Sitters Family by posting your comment below!

Resources:

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cooking-preschool.html

http://www.cafarmersmkts.com/find-your-farmers-market/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/01/12/the-most-important-thing-you-can-do-with-your-kids-eat-dinner-with-them/?utm_term=.1cf396ef018e

Podcasts! For Your Children, Nannies & You!

We live in a digital world. It’s 2018 and some can argue that technology now runs our lives. It’s a common idea that too much technology, such as cell phone use or television, is bad for you. Yet, what if you used that same cellphone with children to promote learning instead of a technological dependency? In this blog post we will observe how listening to podcasts with children can benefit them in different ways. Podcasts have recently began to gain popularity according to reports by both Edison Research, Triton Digital and BI Intelligence. Edison Research and Triton Digital have found that most listeners fall in the range of 18-34 year olds. Yet, the topics presented by podcasts range on a broad spectrum, covering something for every interest and every age. The advantages offered can be seen through engaging imagination, strengthening active listening and generating new knowledge, which are great tools to use especially with children.

The hosts paint pictures with their words, allowing a child’s mind to run wild with imagination and creativity. Instead of being over stimulated by pictures, colors and sounds, children are able to relax a bit more and focus on where their creativity takes them. The best way to compare engaging one’s imagination through a podcast would be to think back on a time that you were listening to someone telling a story. They’re providing details about the setting and describing the event, leaving you to do the rest and visualize what is happening. The importance of engaging and activating the imagination should not be taken lightly.

In an article featured on the Global Digital Citizen Foundation’s website, they outline why creativity is as important as knowledge when it comes to education. They suggest that creative thinkers are more likely to think outside the box. They wouldn’t be limited with the possibility of failure. Creative thinkers are able to view the world differently. It becomes full of opportunities as they challenge and explore everything around them. Promoting these skills in children has become easier when provided with podcasts that fit into your child’s routine. They’ll be able to grow their minds without having the stress of a school classroom or lecture. Podcast listening can also help your child become a better active listener.

Active listening is an extremely important skill that can often be forgotten or neglected. Even as adults, many people can lack this because we’re constantly multitasking. If we struggle with this as adults, you can only imagine how hard it must be for children to hone in on active listening when their imaginations and minds are running at a million miles a minute. Podcasts are able to offer one solution to this problem. When listening to a podcast, people are required to focus their attention on the information being pumped through the speakers or earbuds. From what I have observed, an average children’s podcast usually doesn’t exceed around twenty-five minutes. This time frame is great for keeping children engaged without over exhausting their mental focus.

When one is proficient or advanced at active listening they’ll be able to concentrate, understand and respond, to whatever it is that they’re listening to: be it a teacher lecturing or a casual conversation with a friend. Concentration also takes patience and as the saying goes, “patience is a virtue.” This is a quality all too hard to find now in our technological world of instant gratification. Luckily, we’re able to use technology to fight back at the same battles it has created.

I’ve created a list of six podcasts to serve as a sort of “beginners guide” to help you get started. You’ll find a link to each throughout this post. Those listed, range from being geared towards: children, to nannies, and finally mothers. Each podcast listed follows a consistent posting schedule. Aside from looking forward to new content weekly or biweekly, you will be able to back track and listen to any of the older episodes in their series. Additionally, these are all available free of charge. From my experience I haven’t found many podcasts that charge a subscription fee. If they do charge, it’s often for access to exclusive content, or the series may only be available for streaming on paid networks such as Sirius XM.

The first three podcasts I’ll mention are But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, Wow in the World and Circle Round. All three of these can be found on NPR’s website and on iTunes.

 

  • But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

https://www.npr.org/podcasts/474377890/but-why-a-podcast-for-curious-kids

The first mentioned, But Why, explores topics ranging from science, to culture and society. What makes it even more unique are that the guiding questions that spark their exploration, are submitted by their audience. This means that if your little one isn’t able to find an episode they like, they can make their own suggestions. That’s pretty cool, right?

  • Wow in the World

https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510321/wow-in-the-world

Similar to the previous podcast, Wow in the World combines “scientific research and fun” to create content that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Each episode provides an avenue to explore global science and technology news. It’s a great way for children to learn about the world around them.

  • Circle Round

https://www.npr.org/podcasts/532788972/circle-round

The third NPR podcast, Circle Round, takes a different approach to its content. Rather than focusing on facts, each episode features engaging folktales. These tales are geared towards introducing topics centered around inclusivity. They’re created with the whole family in mind, so everyone can enjoy.

 

The next three listed are not affiliated with NPR.

  • Bedtime.fm

https://bedtime.fm/peaceout

Bedtime.fm offers two different series on their website, Story Time and Peace Out. As you can infer from the name, Story Time creates content for toddlers from two years old up to children nearing their tween years. Peace Out also uses storytelling, but in a different way. Each episode helps children focus on relaxation and mindfulness by using breathing exercises and visualization. Peace Out was my personal favorite, play it for your children right before naptime or bedtime to receive second hand relaxation!

  • Practically Perfect

http://practicallyperfect.libsyn.com/

As advertised on their website, this podcast is created for nannies by nannies. The content covers a range of interesting and relevant topics. One of their most recent episodes revolves around self-care, something that everyone needs more of!

  • The Mom Hour

http://lifelistened.com/category/mom-hour/

Last, but most definitely not least, The Mom Hour was created by two mothers. You can tune in and listen to Megan and Sarah, as they post weekly shows to help you on your journey throughout motherhood. Unlike most other podcasts, Mom Hour is not available on iTunes, but can be downloaded for offline listening directly from their website.

It is no surprise that at times it can be difficult to try out something new with children. This is why one must give some planning and thought when it comes to the question of, “how do I introduce this?”. Here is the point at which you become an excellent marketer. Be prepared with a list of podcasts that may interest them. Luckily we’ve provided a list of four that are geared towards creating fun and exciting children’s content. This list can act as a base point, while the search for the perfect podcast becomes more unique.

Generate interest in the podcasts by giving enough information to spark their attention without spoiling the whole thing. For example, in one of the most recent episodes from But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids, they answer many questions regarding fish and the ocean. You may choose to introduce this episode by posing a question yourself, such as “Hey, I was wondering…how do fish swim while they sleep?”. Their curiosity is bound to take over and that’s when you’re able to swoop in with the perfect solution to the question (aka the podcast)! By the time the episode is finished they’ll want to continue onto the next one, and (unlike binge watching Netflix shows) this can be done guilt free because it provides benefits to its audience.

We’ve tackled the question of how to market and introduce podcasts to your children but there’s another issue that must be addressed. I’ve listed out six podcasts but you may be wondering, “how would I actually listen to these?”. Many podcasts, such as most of the ones listed, are actually easy to access, which means you’ll be more likely to utilize them. Most can be heard using: iTunes, android apps, or are available for download from the main website straight to your mobile device. The ease of access opens up many possibilities of when, where and how to listen. You will be in full control to create a listening schedule for yourself or the whole family; whether you download an episode for offline use on a long car ride, or stream via your home speakers through iTunes. Share how you will be planning to access episodes by commenting below!

As you’ve read, podcasts can offer various benefits and are able to target different audiences to do so. But, don’t just take my word for it! Open up your ears to give them a try and let me know what you think. Remember, the list of podcasts provided in this post are meant to acts as a guide. The only person who knows what your children, nannies, or you would enjoy best, is you! If you have specific interests that the podcasts listed don’t seem to touch on let me know; I’ll make an effort to find what you’re looking for.  Do you think this might be something you’ll likely try on your next long drive or are there any podcasts that you already listen to? Be sure to share your thoughts, questions and comments. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Resources:

Grinapol, Corinne. “Podcast Audience Continues to Rise According to Annual Report.” – Adweek, Adweek, 18 Apr. 2017, www.adweek.com/digital/podcast-audience-continues-to-rise-according-to-annual-report/ 

Meola, Andrew. “Podcasts are becoming more popular among listeners and advertisers.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 6 June 2016, www.businessinsider.com/podcasts-are-becoming-more-popular-among-listeners-and-advertisers-2016-6.

Watanabe-Crockett , Lee. “Why Is Imagination as Important as Knowledge in Education?” Global Digital Citizen Foundation, 13 Dec. 2017, globaldigitalcitizen.org/imagination-important-knowledge-education 

Wund3rKID

At Wund3rKID, we value play. Play that comes naturally to children because that’s what they love to do the most. During my experience as a nanny, I learned that young children play best when they are not rushed from one activity to another. They like to take their time, repeat the steps and then do it all over again! It may be frustrating for an adult to see this but not to the child. This experimental process of play leads to learning. An example of this is when I have observed children with a specific toy, a small wooden house with house numbers and metal keys attached to it. When the child is 1 year-old, they only grasp at the house and not much comes of the exposure. Then, when they are about 18-months and shown by an adult how to insert the keys into the house, they will also attempt to copy the adult and do just this! They may be able to get a key into place but have trouble turning it. Once they are closer to 2 years-old, they begin to recognize the numbers on the house and will begin to try to open the doors for an extended period of time. They may be able to open some doors or none at all! And this is quite alright at Wund3rKID! The play experience we strive to provide to young children is just this type of experience!

Children impress us each day with their changing capabilities. The variety of classes we offer at Wund3rKID are offered to support SCEP- social, cognitive, emotional and physical development. Our two types of Art classes target different skills in children. ArtPlay helps children develop their fine-motor skills and Messy Play! allows children to use their sensorial skills. Teacher Robin from Messy Play! brings various activities including her very own Oobleck which is a wet, gooey substance! Not a favorite of mine but the kids sure love it! Teacher Adrienne from Mini Yoga really gets kids moving in the cutest way! Through downward dog, stretching and a little kid-style meditation- children begin to learn the basics of Yoga. I also love to hear the kids chant “Peace Begins with Me” throughout the week! Spanish for Tots is a popular class among children and families. Along with providing various activities for the children which include sorting vegetables, counting animals and art fun; Teacher Silvia also speaks Spanish to the children for the duration of the class. She has raised her three children to be fluent in Spanish so she knows just how to engage and immerse children in the language. Teacher Chaia brings the fun on Thursday mornings with her guitar and other special instruments for the children! Her latest treasure for the children are hand bells. It was clear the children felt really special to each have their very own hand bell for the class! Teacher Emily remains our first music teacher at Wund3rKID and is admired by the children. Her mix of classic and new songs are so fun and hard to get out of our heads! We have members who remember the lyrics by heart and could probably act as substitutes for her! “Hot-cross buns”, anyone? Each of our teachers have unique traits which make them special to the children. I am grateful for them because they complement the team at Wund3rKID! While learning through explorative play is much valued here at Wund3rKID, classes have shown to be equally important for children. For example, members who attend our class on a weekly basis have seen the benefits. These benefits include increased verbal skills in children and the ability to consistently focus on an activity. We often think children have a short-attention span but it may actually be due to their lack of interest in an activity. This type of cognitive development seen from regular class attendance motivates children to communicate and connect with their caretakers in the classes.

Children also like sticking to a routine. Our classes are designed to help children adjust to a social setting and the more children attend them, the more it will help prepare them for a school setting. For example, a parent of a child who has begun preschool after being a member at Wund3rKID has expressed how much our classes has helped our child settle into his new school setting. The weekly occurrence and consistency of the classes have also familiarized children with our teachers and more.

Our membership program is valued by families to Wund3rKID. And we value our members! There are two different tiers of membership to our center. The Basic and Premium membership covers your entire family for unlimited drop-in play, snacks and also includes 4 hours of drop-off supervised play. The difference between them is with the Premium membership, you receive unlimited classes. That means you can take as many classes as you like! With the variety of classes we offer, each child in your family will find a class they enjoy. In addition to all the fun you just read about, we also host birthdays on the weekends. They are so much fun!

We look forward to seeing you at Wund3rKID for play, a class or for your child’s next birthday celebration!

Of Bullies & Bystanders

When I started The Nanny Love Facebook group I didn’t have a clear vision of what it would become. I knew it needed to be a place of community and camaraderie; one that promoted empowerment and being one’s own advocate.  I wanted it to be more than just social networking – instead, one that is full of love and respect, more like a family.  It also needed to be a safe place for thoughts, experiences and professional advice to be shared among co-workers. Better yet, shared among sisters and brothers.  The Nanny Love community grows by hard work and dedication. I pour myself into it – my energy, my love for people and my love for the nanny career. Along with being a stay at home mom, running The Nanny Love community is my full time job, I love doing it. As The Nanny Love began to grow rapidly I saw the need to make some guidelines to ensure that it stayed a positive and welcoming space, and to recruit a team to help manage it. With membership in the thousands, this meant thousands of ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, locations, minds and energies.  The Nanny Love team is tasked with carefully managing how all of that continues to flow, while trying to ensure that everyone remains kind, validating and supportive.  The Nanny Love is FULL of active, passionate and outspoken individuals.  Each and every one I am so thankful for.  Unfortunately, as with any community so large, both within TNL and beyond it within the larger nanny community, there are people who build themselves up by tearing others down.

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Chiropractic and Kids

As parents, we are on a never-ending quest to make our children healthier, stronger, smarter and more indestructible.  From kale-berry smoothies to kid yoga, what haven’t we investigated and tested on them?

For some of you, chiropractic for kids may be your quinoa. You’ve heard about it, but aren’t sure what it entails. Maybe you think it’s only for older people with back and neck pain.  Or maybe you’ve heard that it’s only for your budding athletes, who are getting a little too roughed up and tumbled on the field or court.

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