Chinese New Year begins on February 19, 2015. It’s one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar. It lasts for 15 days and is cause for much celebration, and a feeling of renewal. Sharing the concept of Chinese New Year with day care children would open the door for some fun activities!
Many families will clean the house during the celebration, in order to sweep away bad fortune and welcome good luck into the home. Making cleaning a part of a celebration is a great way to get kids to help clean, and who wouldn’t want good luck?
Children might be fascinated by the story of the Nian, a mythical beast that would come to Chinese villages on or around Chinese New Year to attack people. In order to prevent the attack the next year, villagers learned to bang on drums and set off firecrackers, in order to frighten the Nian away with the loud noises. They also used the color red in lanterns, scrolls, and clothing. The story goes that a small child wore red and the Nian was frightened of the color, so it left the child alone. The Nian hasn’t attacked anyone since people learned these tricks, so they are now used at Chinese New Year celebrations. It would be fun for the kids to make some noise, and perhaps make some scrolls from red paper.
On Chinese New Year’s Eve, many Chinese families will eat a “reunion dinner”, usually having a chicken or pork dish. A fish dish is usually included, but it’s important that not all the fish is eaten. Some must be refrigerated overnight, from the previous year and into the new year, to ensure that each year has a surplus. People may give each other gifts of sweets, such as oranges, chocolates, or candies. These would be inexpensive and easily be prepared as a daycare activity for the kids.
You can find more fascinating information about Chinese New Year traditions on the internet. Learning about other cultures is so important for our children, and so much fun for them. This is a great learning opportunity!
There is something that has bugged me for some time as a parent: how to discipline a child for being a “tattletale”. It seemed kind of strange that a parent, teacher, or daycare provider would discipline the child that “tattled” to them regarding another child’s bad behavior instead of the child who is actually behaving badly. I dismissed this as “just what we do” for so long but that nagging feeling about this idea persists. As a parent, I have avoided it because it made me feel uncomfortable but I never realized why until now.
It’s Just Plain Laziness
First of all, children need to know what is right and wrong and it isn’t up to them to decide. Parents and daycare providers are supposed to do this. It is in fact one of the main jobs of being a parent or provider. Whether it is something huge like playing with matches or something small like not playing nice, it is the provider’s job to make the judgment, not the child’s. When the child who “tattled” is disciplined instead of the one actually being bad, it sends the message that we don’t care enough to step in and help when they can’t help themselves, or when they don’t quite know what to do.
Parents and Providers Need to Teach
We should not expect children to make decisions in arguments when they are so young. By the time children are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong regarding a certain situation, they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. So the parents and providers should get involved to take care of the issue. Whether the situation is something new or old, huge or mundane, it is our responsibility as parents and providers to help them work through these situations.
It’s Name Calling
As simple as this point might seem, it is still valid. Calling a child a tattletale is name calling. Name calling at any time, for any reason, is wrong. It’s as simple as that.
Children Should Always Be Able to Talk
This is one of the most important points of this whole thing. A child should always, 100 percent of the time, feel safe about coming to a parent or daycare provider about anything. And I do mean anything. Parents and daycare providers can’t know or anticipate all of the situations a child might encounter and you do not want children to ever hesitate to talk to you. What if something bad happened to a child and they did not talk to anyone about it because they thought someone might call them a “tattletale”?
A Bully’s Playground
When children are disciplined and called “tattletales”, it opens the door for all kinds of other terrible things to happen. If a bully or an adult knows that a child will get in trouble for tattling, they can easily use that leverage to pick on and otherwise torment a child. They know the children who live under “no tattling” rules will hesitate to speak out when something is wrong. This is a terrible and easily abused situation which could be avoided if we would all agree that it is a good thing to speak out when something is wrong.
No More Tattletales
I hope that this list of reason is enough to illustrate why the whole idea of calling a child, or anyone else for that matter, a “tattletale”, is wrong. This can have far-reaching consequences even throughout adulthood. We are the parents and daycare providers for children and we must make sure that the children are always able to speak to us no matter what. As parents and daycare providers both, we need to take the pledge to end the destructive habit of calling children “tattletales” and take the time resolve whatever situation might be at hand. We owe it our children and their futures.
What is it about kids and water? They are deliriously happy playing in the neighborhood pool or a wading pool in the backyard. It seems like such a basic part of childhood, that it’s hard to imagine that an average of 390 children under the age of 15 die annually from drowning, and 75% of those are children under the age of 5 (http://www.poolsafely.gov/drowning-deaths-injuries/). If your daycare provider takes your child to a pool, has a pool in the backyard, or sets up a wading pool during the summer, you might want to determine the precautions they take in order to keep the children safe.
It’s a definite plus for any day care provider to be certified in CPR and have taken classes in First Aid. When a pool is involved, knowing CPR may mean the difference between life and death. The pool should also be fenced off or, if it’s a wading pool, emptied of water when playtime is over.
It’s difficult to keep an eye on children at all times, but at the pool, it’s imperative. The daycare provider needs to pay attention to each of the children. Not only do they need to be watching the children, they need to know what to look for. On TV, drowning is always a noisy, splashy affair. In real life, it is more likely to be quiet and fast. As a parent, we know the kids are up to no good when it becomes quiet, right? When children play in the water, they are noisy. If they start splashing and calling for help, they need help. If they become eerily quiet, they may need help as well. You need to find out why they are so quiet (http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/). Even if they are not in danger, a quiet child in the pool may be exhausted or have another issue, and it may be time for them to take a break from the water.
As a parent, you can help prevent problems by taking your children for swimming lessons. Most recreation centers or city pools offer swimming lessons, usually for a reasonable price. There, the children will learn water safety and basics that will help them as they play in the water. However, don’t think that swimming lessons mean your child will not drown. Children need to be closely supervised when they are playing in or near water, no matter what.
Children love to play in the water. But it’s important for daycare providers and parents to take steps to prevent injury or death in a swimming pool: keep kids from getting into unattended pools, keep a close eye on kids when they are in the pool, know what drowning looks like, and teach kids water safety and give them swimming lessons.
One of the most frustrating things to both parents and their children is not being able to communicate properly. It takes children years to learn how to talk. As a parent you don’t have to wait years to learn to communicate with your child. How do you talk to those that can’t? Through sign language of course!
Sign language is something that your baby, even an infant can learn to use. It is comprised of basic motions and movements which are much easier for your baby to learn then a speaking language. Using sign language to communicate with your baby is a great way to ease much of the frustrations that come with early parenting and your child’s early years. Parents are able to ask infants basic questions aabout what they need and why they are sad. Infants are able to tell you want they want and when they need it.
Teaching children sign language before they can speak can have a profound impact on the rest of their life. By enabling early communication, building vocabulary and building a strong relationship with your child during the first three years, you are helping your child to develop the foundation for language and learning that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Teaching sign language helps you to do this. There is a growing body of research that suggests that signing has many benefits, including:
Strengthens parent/child bonds
Enables early language, vocabulary & expression
Reduces frustration and tantrums
Helps parents to be more observant and responsive
Promotes positive emotional development
Builds confidence and self esteem
Sign language is something that can and should be transferred over to your daycare provider. In fact many daycare providers already know and use sign language. If the teaching and use of sign language is used at home and at daycare you will see dramatic a dramatic increase of your baby using it.
Baby Signing Time has some great holiday deals going right now and there isn’t a better time to get started. This would make an amazing gift for any parent, grandparent and daycare provider.
I have used sign language with my children and it has helped dramatically in trying to calm upset infants. It works great to know if they are hungry, thirsty, or tired. It really is amazing how well it works. I know it has surprised many parents, it did me, that their tiny little infant has much more to say about the world around them then you ever knew. Sign language helps them to say these things. When parents use this at home and their daycare providers use sign language it can really help make the first few years before they learn to speak much better. It gives them a head start on learning, and gives parents, daycare providers and anyone else taking care of your children more tools to insure they are taken care of well.
It’s that time of year again. Time to start thinking about what to do with the holidays and what we want to do for those special people around us. As soon as your children are old enough to talk you can start to involve them in this wonderful season of giving. It is very important as a parent to start to teach your children the value of giving and doing special things for those people that we care for.
With the hectic schedule of the holidays its easy to overlook some of those that are most important to our child’s lives, their daycare providers. Make sure they are on shopping list. Daycare providers and nanny’s are such a vital part of your child’s life. They need to be reminded just how important and special they are. Involve your children in this if possible as they will just love to pick out things for their daycare provider. They will hold a special investment in the decisions and pride in giving it to them. This will help them to learn the valuable lessons around the joy of giving and showing appreciation.
Now is the time to score some great deals on things for the holidays. With the economy being what it is many retailers are offering deep cuts with their Black Friday and holiday deals.Take advantage of them while you can!
Black Friday and Holiday Deals
Great Toddler Gifts
This Brainy Baby deal is a great one, this could be the perfect gift for those that are expecting or have young kids. This set can get them started off right on the path to getting ready for school.
Daycare Supplies and Games
Here is a great source for daycare supplies. They have great deals year round and they are offering deeper discounts through the holiday season.
Kmart is has been slowly closing up stores but their online presence has been strong. You can find great deals with them through the holiday shopping season. The great thing about Kmart is that you can get a wide variety of things in one place at great prices.
It is always important to have a disaster plan, and it is even more important to know your daycare’s disaster plan. At Decide on Daycare, we will help you talk to your daycare provider to be sure they have a safe and effective disaster plan in place. More important is that you know what this disaster plan is and can help them with it.
Why have a disaster plan for daycare?
Natural disasters are few and far between but that doesn’t mean that you should not be prepared for them. It can be devastating to be stuck in the middle of a natural disaster, separated from your children, with no idea or plan in place to make contact and assure they are safe.
As the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan have demonstrated, natural disasters can strike at anytime and anywhere. Even if the disaster happens thousands of miles away, it can still affect you.
Make sure you speak to your daycare provider about their disaster plan. If they don’t have one, work with your daycare provider to create one for use in case the unthinkable should happen.
Daycare’s Disaster Plan
Where you live and when you use daycare will determine what kinds of disasters you may encounter. Some of the major ones you should think about are listed below.
Rock and Mud Slides
You should also consider a general disaster plan which will be the fall back plan should any of the ones listed not apply. Your general disaster plan should cover events that may not be natural or expected.
Though the possibility exists for different disasters in your area, it does not automatically mean that you should have a different plan for each one. Many of the major details of the disaster plan should be the same but you need to be ready for and prepare for each disaster that can happen in your area.
Some things that must be considered for all disaster plans are:
Contact Numbers – Each member of the immediate family should have contact numbers for each other. You should also pick one family member who lives out of state that your family can contact if your household is not together when an emergency situation occurs.
Emergency Information – Each member of the family should carry a card showing their doctors, what medication the person takes on a regular basis, chronic conditions, and any allergies they have.
Common Meeting Place – Designate an area to meet. If you have a child at daycare, decide who will pick up the child or if you plan to meet at the daycare. If you have children in different locations, such as one in school and one in daycare, decide which parent will pick up which child or if you will meet the other parent and pick children up together.
Reinforce the Disaster Plan with your Children
If you work with your daycare and their disaster plan you can modify your own home and family disaster plan to be similar to your daycare’s. This will help the children remember what to do in case of a disaster. There are many things that the disaster plans can include, but remember to keep what your child needs to know to the basics. You do not want them being confused in a scary disaster situation. You want them to act decisively off of simple directions. This could help to save their life and even the lives of those around them.
Be sure to rehearse these with your whole family and try to make sure that your daycare rehearses their daycare disaster plan as well. It might seem silly to have fire drills like they do at school and some work places. The fact is these drills save lives. So be sure to run through your disaster emergency plan at least twice a year. As soon as your children can walk on their own they can learn how to escape a burning house.
Make sure you have a disaster plan for your own home.
We have focused specifically on your daycare disaster plan here at Decide on Daycare but it is also very important to have a detailed and prepared disaster plan for you and your family at home. You should go into a few more specifics and make sure you are prepared for emergencies.
Make sure you show your children how to escape the house. Make sure they know how to escape their own rooms if they need to in case of a fire. Talk to a trusted neighbor and explain to your children that this is the neighbor they need to immediately go to if they can’t find their parents. Make sure that you have first aid kits, a fire extinguisher on every floor, and other emergency equipment on hand. Show your children how to use this various equipment as they grow up.
It may be hard to fit daycare disaster planning into your busy schedule, but as a responsible parent you need to find the time. With a little bit of planning you can save your child’s life and even you own. Be ready should the unthinkable happen. Hopefully you will never have to use your daycare disaster plan but you will be very thankful if you are prepared.
Time spent playing outdoors is very important for children of all ages. However, during extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter, it can be unhealthy and possibly dangerous to send children to play outside. Here at www.decideondaycare.com, you’ll get some helpful parenting advise to make sure your child is safe and healthy.
It’s a good idea to check your daycare provider’s handbook regarding when a child goes outside to play, and what gear they need in order to be allowed to go outside. If this information isn’t in the handbook, you might want to talk it over with your daycare provider. Be sure to be clear with a babysitter or nanny. Oftentimes they may have different opinions and you want to make sure your expectations are clear.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s OK for children play outside when the temperature is anywhere above freezing, and below the early nineties. However, the temperature should not be your only consideration, especially when it’s cold outside. You need to know if the wind is blowing, if it is overcast or sunny, and what the forecast is for the day. When kids are outside playing in cold weather, it’s important to be ready to pull the kids inside immediately should the weather turn for the worse.
Even if the temperature is above freezing, you need to consider the wind chill and humidity. These factors can affect your child and make it seem much colder outside. It’s so quick now to check a news or weather website. A widget on your PC, laptop, and phone make it easy to keep track of the weather. These will give you information on temperature and possibly even wind speed. However most of them do not show the wind chill, so use the table below as a quick and handy guide to figure out if it’s OK for your children to be outside.
Make sure they wear the proper clothes for the weather, at any time of year. You need to give your daycare provider extra gloves, a hat, and an extra set of clothes (including socks and possibly shoes). If you have an extra coat, and your day care provider has the room, you might even provide an extra coat for your child. You might want to toss a bag with an extra set of clothes for your child in your car so you are always prepared.
Keep in mind that children often don’t understand the dangers of cold and windy weather. Kid just want to go outside and play. Be sure to explain the dangers to your child so they can appreciate the dangers of cold weather. It’s easy to overlook the obvious, but they need to learn to handle weather appropriately. Teach your children to look for signs of having been in the cold too long, such as numb and tingling fingers, sniffly nose, and watering eye. If they are able to let someone know they have been in the cold too long, they can come in on their own before frost nip or frostbite sets in.
A great benefit to teaching them to take care of themselves in all weather conditions is that they can tell their daycare provider their needs. If they are visiting a neighbor or relative, or other situations where you might not be readily available, they may be able to correct their own situation or recognize trouble signs in other children.
Just these few extra steps can save a whole lot of pain and trouble, keep your child safe and insure a good and fun winter for everyone!
With the start of the New Year it’s time to think about our taxes for last year. Decide on Day Care has some great child care tax tips for you to be sure you are prepared for this tax season. Day care can actually be a very good tax deduction but it is very important that you have all the right documents lined up and ready. Make sure to talk to your day care provider early to be sure that you’ll have all your documentation and information ready for taxes. If you’ve had multiple providers through the year, you’ll need to get a Tax ID Number (TIN) or their Social Security Number (SSN).
Day Care Center
The type of day care provider that you have will determine what kind of tax information you should get from them. A daycare center such as a preschool should have the appropriate tax paperwork available for their parents. If they child care center doesn’t offer it, just ask them for the information you need. You’ll need a receipt for the full year, their full business name, and their TIN.
In Home Daycare
In home daycare providers know they need to provide this information to their clients as well. They should be able to provide you a receipt for your day care expenses for the year. Remember, they are running a business themselves and are required to track this information, but the accuracy and diligence vary widely from day care provider to day care provider. Be sure to ask for documentation with as much advance notice as possible so they have time to prepare the required paperwork. Ask for a receipt of your payments for the year, as well as their TIN or SSN. If your provider gives you her SSN, please be very careful with the number. If it’s written down, don’t include any other identifying information on the sheet (such as her name and date of birth), and destroy the paper once you have completed your taxes. You need to do your part to protect her from identity theft.
If you have a nanny doing the childcare, it is up to you to document her earnings and take the appropriate taxes out throughout the year. You will need to file taxes as an employer, so this will be more complicated than enrolling your child in a day care center or privately run daycare.
If you use a babysitter frequently this can also be deducted as a child care expense on your taxes for the year. Just be sure to keep track of when and how much in case you are audited. Often times if you do not have use frequent child care you may not meet the minimum needed for a deduction. It is a good idea to do a quick and dirty calculation of your day care expenses to see if it will be worth it for you to itemize your day care and child care deductions.
Even if you don’t have full time daycare, you may still be able to deduct expenses relating to childcare. Look to your local tax code for the specifics but many offer tax breaks to help families with children.
You will need to document your childcare expenses, but it’s also important not to let any other possible tax breaks slip through the cracks.
Government tax deductions
Employment day care benefits
If you’re planning to get a refund, you want to get all the information as soon as possible. Please be patient with your daycare provider if they are not getting the information to you as quickly as you would like. That’s not a problem if you end up owing money, but you definitely don’t want to wait until the very last minute to get the necessary information from your provider.
You might also want to check with your employer to see if they offer a plan to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck each month, pre-tax, and make that money available to you to pay your childcare provider. Since this money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes, it affects the amount of the childcare expense deduction you’re allowed to take.
Be sure to check your local and Federal regulations and speak with tax professionals should you have complicated daycare taxes and expenses. Be sure that everything is documented and speak with those that were involved in your day care throughout the year. Taxes are different from household to household but many people forgo child care deductions they could be receiving.
There are many great software solutions for taxes. Use the one that you are most comfortable if you decide to do your own taxes, but make sure you have the software that fits your particular needs. At www.decideondaycare.com, we like using TurboTax. It guides you through the process step by step and makes sure you’re not missing out on any deductions. However, sometimes it’s best to leave complicated tax situations to the professionals.
Your child’s day care center teachers, in-home childcare provider, or nanny, deserve recognition for the priceless service they provide. You want to give them a token of appreciation for their hard work, especially around the holidays, but what would be appropriate? Decide on Day Care is here to help!
Day Care Center Teachers
Your child may be in a room with several teachers. If you are strapped for cash, an appreciative note is very welcome. If you would like to give more, you certainly can. Since you probably don’t know too much about their lives outside the center, a gift like cash or a gift certificate to a restaurant or a store would be good. If you have a better idea of hobbies or needs, you may be able to tailor your gift a bit more to the individual.
In-Home Child Care Provider or Nanny
When you drop your child off at someone’s home day care five days a week, or she comes to your house, it’s easier to get an idea of a good present for her. Again, a note expressing your appreciation for her is very nice. She has a close relationship with your child, and something from your child or with your child’s photo on it is a sweet gift. If you are not sure, the cash or gift card route is always appreciated. For a day care provider, you could also purchase something for the day care, like toys, books, or craft supplies. Also, don’t forget your child’s day care on her birthday. It will really make her feel appreciated to be celebrated on her special day.
She may love:
Gift cards (to restaurants, salons, her favorite store)
Something from your child
A note of appreciation
A cleaning service (make sure you know she won’t take this as an insult instead of a gift!)
If she has children of her own, offer YOUR babysitting services
A day off, with pay
Teaching Moments with Day Care
This is also a great opportunity to teach your child the meaning of the season of giving. Have your child make something special for your child care provider. They love craft projects and your day care provider will love the specialized gift and note of thanks straight from your child. This is a great opportunity to talk to them about the merits of giving and why we give things to each other. Talk to them about what it means to offer appreciation to those in their lives.
When I first tried to find daycare for my children, I realized how difficult it was to keep track of my findings about each of the daycare providers, and it wasn’t easy to compare the different providers.
I learned so much information as I interviewed them over the phone. There were many questions I asked the daycare providers as I interviewed them on the phone: Does that daycare have a preschool curriculum? Did that daycare have any pets? What was the childcare provider’s discipline style? Were there any smokers in the house? What were their hours? So I created a spreadsheet to track all this information I collected during the phone interviews. I also collected information from the local United Way and other organizations that had information on daycare providers specific to my area.
This tool became invaluable. I realized I could look at different daycare providers at a glance and see which ones fit our needs better. When I became tired of calling providers, my wife could see where I had left off, call more providers on the list, and fill in the information we needed. It was such a helpful tool for us, I hope that it can help you in your own search for daycare. The spreadsheet includes costs, extra fees, and some of the more common questions you’ll ask. There are also several places for miscellaneous daycare information for any specific questions you may have.
Download the spreadsheet and save it to your computer. Fill out as much detail as you’d like…I would suggest being very detailed. You need to have enough information on the sheet to make a decision between many daycare providers. If your notes are too generic it will be difficult to see differences between providers. Specific references to the conversation may jog your memory about the provider. It is possible that you may need to return to your daycare search sooner than expected. If it hasn’t been long since you started, your spreadsheet will be very helpful to you, and providers who didn’t have openings when you began looking may have an opening six months later.
Make sure to have this spreadsheet open and ready when you start making your phone calls and start investigating the specifics of each daycare provider. This spreadsheet can be used for preschools, daycare centers, nannies and even babysitters.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. We would also love to hear any feedback you may have, including suggestions about items that we could add or change to make it more useful.
Good luck tracking down your perfect daycare! This extra effort will be well worth the reward of finding the perfect daycare or preschool for you!