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When you’re a busy, on-the-go parent with a lot of things to do, it can often be challenging to feed your children (and yourself) healthy food. After all, what’s the harm a burger here or friend chicken there might do? And what’s wrong with keeping chips around or even crackers? These simple choices might seem harmless, but it turns out that the early eating habits we acquire as children tend to stick with us as adults. When we’re surrounded by food that lacks nutrition, we continue to choose those later in life. It’s a real looming health crisis in the U.S., in fact, with obesity in both adults and children reaching all-time highs in recent years.

That’s why it’s essential to teach your kids how to make healthy food choices at an early age. And with March being National Nutrition Month, we thought it’d be an excellent time to share some tips for ensuring your children eat nutritiously today—and when they’re older.

Involve Your Children in Food Choices

One of the most important things you can do is to not just demand your children make smart choices, but involve them in making the choices. For example, if you take your child grocery shopping with you, you might work with them to create a healthy foods shopping list. Or you might present to them some healthy snack ideas and have them pick the ones they want (avoiding less nutritious options, obviously). This will get them into the habit of searching out and selecting healthier food.

Visit a Farm!

Kids love visiting farms (especially when they have petting zoos), but it’s also an excellent opportunity to teach them about how what gets grown on a farm ends up on our plate. Too often, pre-prepared and processed foods are extremely disconnected from their original sources. But showing your child where their food comes from can go a long way to ensure they develop an appreciation of fresh food. Pick your own farms are great places to go, for example, but milk farms can also be fun.

Drink Your Veggies and Fruit

To help ensure your child gets enough servings of vegetables and fruit, you can also give them smoothies. Packed with vitamins, smoothies are delicious snacks that are both filling and nutritious. And if they don’t like veggies, you can always combine them with other ingredients your child prefers.

Make Healthy Choices for Yourself

This one is crucial, as children often imitate what their parents do. When you make healthy choices, your child sees that and will be more likely to emulate that behavior years later.

Want to see what healthy snacks we provide at Stonewall? Make an appointment to visit one of our centers to see how we build a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment for your little one.

The post How To Teach Your Kids To Make Healthy Eating Choices appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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Snow days—the joy of all kids and often the scourge of parents. And with all the winter weather we’re getting lately, there are guaranteed to be days your young ones are home-bound. It can be tempting to just let the kids veg out on TV and electronics, but studies have suggested that too much screen time can do serious long-term and permanent damage to kids’ brains. “What’s one day?” you may say to yourself, but in our experience, screen time becomes a habit that is extremely hard to break.

How To Entertain Your Kids When They’re Stuck Inside

Of course, that leads to the parent’s seemingly eternal dilemma: How to entertain your kids, especially if they’re stuck inside? Our go-to for engaging kids’ imaginations: Crafts. We love crafts because it provides a structured activity while also allowing kids to express themselves artistically.

Here are a few of our favorite craft projects for when we’re stuck inside on a cold, snowy day.

Paper Crafts

There’s a million things you can do with construction paper. Cut out a variety of winter-themed shapes and sizes and have your child glue them in a collage, coloring or decorating it with glitter. Using construction paper, you could have them make:

  • Snowflakes
  • Snow globes
  • Snow men, women, or even animals
  • Penguins, polar bears or other winter-themed animals

Bonus activity: You can also cut out masks of different winter-themed characters or animals. After they decorate them, put them on with your child and improvise a little play.

Popsicle Stick Crafts

Popsicle sticks are nearly as versatile as construction paper. They can be arranged and glued together in a wide variety of ways, and they can be decorated with markers or even with glued-on decorations (glitter, sequins, beads, etc.). Some forms you can make with popsicle sticks include:

  • Snowflakes
  • Houses
  • Square-headed characters (Frosty the Snowman, for example)
Paper Plate Crafts

Paper plates to a child are like a blank canvas to a painter. There’s so many different things you can do with them. They can be cut into snowflake shapes, folded into shapes, or decorated with nearly every material, including:

  • Paint or markers
  • Yarn
  • Construction paper cutouts (see above)
  • “Gluables” (sequins, glitter, etc.)

The possibilities are nearly endless.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you’re looking for more ideas, swing by to see what the kids at our centers are doing!

The post 3 Winter Craft Projects To Keep Your Kids From Climbing The Walls appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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In today’s busy world, it can be hard to decide when to keep your child home from daycare. It’s totally understandable, of course. We all have jobs to do, and missing work can have an impact on our finances, job performance reviews, etc. But there are certain times where it’s absolutely necessary to keep them home in order to both help them get better faster and to ensure other children don’t get sick.

Here are a few things to consider if your child is sick and you’re unsure whether or not to keep him/her home.

What Are The Symptoms?

Even if you’re not sure what’s wrong with your child, it’s likely they are exhibiting symptoms that should indicate they’re not well enough to attend daycare. These include:

  • Fatigue (often a sign of the flu)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (or even just extremely loose or watery bowel movements)
  • Severe coughing
  • Temperature above 100º
  • Earache or headache
  • Exhibits a rash

Any child that’s exhibiting these or similar symptoms should most likely stay home, and in fact, should probably be taken to the doctor to rule out any serious illnesses and obtain treatment.

Of course, if your child’s symptoms are on the milder side—maybe just a small cough, a runny nose, etc.—it’s probably safe to bring them in.

What Is The Daycare’s Policy?

Our goal at Stonewall is to ensure the safety of every child we care for, and we’ve developed a sick policy to help prevent the spread of contagious infections, colds, etc. We will happily furnish you with a copy of our sick policy, which outlines when it’s safe—and when it’s not—to bring your child in. Your child may be well enough to attend daycare in accordance with our policies, but you should be sure to alert staff to your child’s condition, provide any medications and instructions, as well as written consent to provide the child with the medication.

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you’re in doubt about whether or not to send your child to daycare, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution. Keeping kids home and comfortable in their own beds (or on the couch) may do a lot more to help them get better than sending them to daycare. What’s more, if your child’s condition worsens while at daycare, we may need to call you to come and pick them up anyway. For some parents, it can be really difficult to leave work once they’ve arrived, and it might be better just to stay home with your child.

If you’d like more information about our sick policy or you have any other questions about the care we provide to children—sick and healthy—feel free to contact us or schedule a visit.

The post When To Keep Your Child Home From Daycare appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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Stay Safe While Enjoying Halloween Festivities

Halloween can be a lot of fun, but for the concerned parent, it can also be a little scary. If you have worries, you’re not alone. SafeKids.org reports about ¾ of all parents have expressed fears about their children’s safety on Halloween. And rightfully so. There are typically more people out on the street, but visibility at night isn’t always good, meaning that cars aren’t always able to see young ones.

Whether it’s your little one’s first time going trick or treating, or they’re an old pro (you know 5 or 6 years old), there are a number of things you can do to ensure they stay safe while enjoying the evening festivities.

Get creative with reflective materials

One way to ensure your child is visible is to have them wear reflective materials on their costume. Here’s a great opportunity to be creative, though, even if they’re wearing a store bought costume. Most hardware stores carry either reflective stickers, but you don’t have to just stick them on your child’s costume. Feel free to cut them into interesting shapes that enhance the costume’s look. That way, you’ll be sure to avoid complaints from your kid, while also helping them stay safe.

Carry a light

Even if you live in a well-lit neighborhood, it’s a good idea to have your child carry a glow stick, flashlight, or even a light to hang from their necklace. This will ensure they are seen by drivers and other trick or treaters, greatly reducing the likelihood of an accident.

Take caution at crosswalks

Of course, we all want our kids to be able to cross the street carefully at all times. But on Halloween, it’s important to take extra care at crosswalks. If there’s a car there already, don’t assume the drive will give you the right of way. Make eye contact with the driver and use hand signals to show who is going first.

Stick to the sidewalks

Staying on the sidewalks is the single most important thing you can do to protect your child. But what do you do if your neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks? Perhaps try to find another nearby neighborhood that does. If that’s not feasible, you could always throw a party and have the trick or treaters come to you! Set up trick or treat stations around your house or yard, invite all your friends and family over, and have them go trick or treating in the safety of your own home!

Put the phone away

After you take your pictures of your little monster, be sure to stow your phone while walking. Too often, parents get distracted by their electronics, which can put your child into risky situations. It’s better to just put your phone away and focus on your child’s safety and well-being.

Most importantly, have fun! Your kids will only enjoy dressing up for Halloween for so many years. Enjoy it while it lasts!

The post Follow These Safety Tips to Maximize Your Child’s Halloween Fun appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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Avoid The Electronic Baby Sitter

Limiting time on electronics is a major concern for most parents these days. It’s sometimes easier to entertain them with a tablet or smart phone, but studies show this can have a long-term negative impact on your child’s development. Of course, not all electronics time is bad, it just needs to be limited, leaving parents with a lot of time to fill to keep their kids engaged.

Luckily, whether you’re an adult or a kid, fall is a fantastic time to have some high-quality family time. There’s simply so much to do—both indoors and outdoors—and some activities are very affordable or even free! Here are a few of our favorite fall activities for kids that will have them off electronics.

Fruit picking

Visiting a farm to pick fresh fruit is a great family bonding experience. It’s a great opportunity to get some delicious and healthy fruit and to teach your child about how food is grown. Many farms in the area also have petting zoos, which can be an endless source of entertainment for kids.

Leaf pressing

Create a lasting memory for your child by collecting and pressing colorful leaves. There are several ways to do this, but the wax paper and iron method is probably the easiest. After you’ve collected and preserved them, have your child collect them into a notebook or binder. If you want to get more involved, you can write down the type of tree the leaves came from.

Go fly a kite!

Literally! Take advantage of blustery fall days by taking your children to fly kites. Find a park that has plenty of open space, but also a playground to give your kids something else to do, while you get to sit and relax for a few minutes.

Fun fall cooking

Fall is an amazing time to involve your child in cooking, as there are a lot of fresh fall vegetables to use! One of our favorites is to make soup. There are a nearly infinite number of recipes online, but this is one of the easiest types of food to cook with a child, mostly requiring a minimum of work. Other fall cooking favorites include baking apple or pumpkin pies (gotta do something with all those apples you pick, right?), spiced cider, and

Take a ride—a hay ride!

While many families do this activity around Halloween (when they go to pick pumpkins), many local farms also offer hay rides through the Thanksgiving weekend (and some even after). This is a great way to see some beautiful fall foliage

Take a hike!

Speaking of fall foliage, take your kids hiking is an excellent way to get them into the outdoors and learning about nature. There are plenty of parks in the region that offer superb views and fall foliage, many of which are in or near central Maryland.

Create fall decorations

Break out the construction paper, crayons, and whatever other art supplies you might have. Cut out some pumpkin, leaf, and turkey shapes, and have your child decorate them. Then, hang them around the house to show off all their great work.

Call Stonewall Daycare Today!

Looking for other ways to entertain your children? Bring them by one of our Stonewall Daycare centers and see what kinds of activities we do with our children every day.

The post 7 Fun Fall Activities for the Whole Family appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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Ring In The New School Year

Summer’s almost over (sigh) and the new school year is upon us. For many parents, it’s the time of year when we go shopping for school supplies and new fall clothes for our budding young ones.

But back to school isn’t only about equipping your child with pens, pencils, notebooks, and new outfits. It’s also about re-engaging their mind so that they can hit the ground running when class begins. Here are a few tips to help you make sure your child is 100 percent ready when that first bell rings in the new school year.

Talk About It

For some children, going back to school (or going to school for the first time) can be incredibly stressful. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a feel for your child’s feelings about the coming year and work to assuage any concerns they may have. Talk with your child about what they’ll be doing in the coming year, their teacher (if you’ve met him/her), and all the friends they’ll see. Give them a chance to express any fears they may have, and discuss with them ways they can manage their emotions.

Get Back On Schedule

Some parents are a little more relaxed in the summer in terms of their children’s schedule. Whether it’s letting them stay up and sleep later than usual, or it’s having a late breakfast or dinner, it’s a good idea to get your kids back on track in the weeks prior to school. That will make the transition from vacation time to school time easier. For example, if you’re letting them stay up later, ease back into their regular bed time in the week leading up to the start of school by going to bed 10 minutes earlier every night until they hit their target bed time.

Pick Up A Book Or Two

Reading with and to your child is important for his/her development, but sometimes it’s easy to let this slip in summer. No worries, though. The weeks leading up to school are an excellent time to re-engage your child’s brain, and there’s probably no more entertaining way to do this than with books.

Squeeze In Some Family Time

The start of the new school year can be hectic, not only with getting your kids up and ready in the morning, but also with any after-school activities they may have. Diving right into the rush of a busy fall schedule can be jarring, both for your child and you. That’s why it’s important to get some family time in together while you still can. Have a family movie or game night, or just go on a walk around your neighborhood after dinner while it’s still warm out. Just spending a little extra quality time while you can will not only help put your child in a more relaxed mindset and reduce the stress of re-entry, but will create good memories, too!

Call Stonewall Daycare Today!

Even if your child is returning to the same preschool, it’s a good idea to give them a sneak peek of what’s coming in just a few weeks. If they’ve never been there, a quick visit to get them familiar with the setting and the instructors will go a long way to reduce any issues about being in a new setting.

Whatever activities you chose to do with your children, remember that we at Stonewall Day Care are happy to be a resource. Contact us to learn more about our preschool programming for children ages 3-4. We also have programs for infants and toddlers if your child isn’t quite ready for preschool!

The post How To Prep Your Child For The New School Year appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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Stay Hydrated

We recently discussed some great ideas for getting your kids to spend more quality time outside. Summer offers so many fun things to do for kids, but one thing every parent needs to pay attention to is ensuring their child stay hydrated. It’s easy for kids to become dehydrated, especially if they’re out playing in the summer heat. Dehydration occurs when the body loses water, typically through sweating, and it is not replaced. If your kids are having fun, they may not be aware of their own body water loss, and may forget to drink.

So, don’t wait until your child asks for something to drink! Here are a few easy ways to keep your kids hydrated all summer long (and beyond).

Develop The Drinking Habit

Obviously, the easiest way to keep your children hydrated is to give them water. And the best way to ensure they get enough is to help them develop the habit of drinking it. This can be done in several ways:

  • Have them drink a cup of water with every meal and snack.
  • Have them drink a cup of water before they go outside to play.
  • When they come back inside for a bathroom break, have them drink a cup (after they finish their business).
Drink This Not That

Now, some kids just don’t like water; they might not like the taste or the texture. If you have a fussy drinker, then you might be tempted to give your child other drinks, such as sports drinks or even soda. But these drinks are often LOADED with sugar and other ingredients that aren’t good for your child, and could also lead to more serious dehydration. If your child doesn’t like regular water, some fruit juices are good substitutes. Just insure that you give them 100% juice with no added sugar or sweeteners, as it’s those additions that can cause more serious dehydration.

Eat This Not That

Similarly, your child might want snacks that are full of sugar, such as cookies, candy, or ice cream. While these are okay to give your child on occasion, there are other options available that can be just as sweet while also providing additional hydration. So instead of the sugary snacks, hand your child a nice slice of watermelon or other fruit. Cucumbers and cherry tomatoes also have high water content, and you can jazz it up with a little salad dressing for them to dip them into.

Know The Signs Of Dehydration

Try as you might to prevent it, some kids may still get dehydrated. It’s important to know the signs of dehydration, so you can act accordingly. They include:

  • dry, cracked lips and a dry mouth
  • a decrease in urine output, no urine for eight to 12 hours, or dark-coloured urine
  • drowsiness or irritability
  • cold or dry skin
  • low energy levels, seeming very weak or limp
  • no tears when crying
  • sunken eyes or sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on baby’s head.

If your child seems even mildly dehydrated, be sure to not only give them water or apple juice (have them sip it), but also take a rest in a cool spot. If the symptoms persist and are severe (such as discolored urine), be sure to take them to a doctor or hospital immediately.

Call Stonewall Daycare Today!

Here at Stonewall, spending time outside is a key part of our daily activities. We work hard to ensure that every child has the opportunity to enjoy what nature has to offer. Want more information or ideas? Contact us to schedule a visit!

The post How To Keep Your Kids Hydrated This Summer appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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Get Away From That Screen!

The dog days of summer are upon us, and for many parents, it can be a real challenge of getting our kids outdoors. The allure of video games, TV, electronics, and air conditioning is often very powerful. But the summer can slip by fast, and the next thing you know your child has spent more time in front of a screen than anything else.

It turns out, though, that getting your kids out into nature can be extremely good for them. According to the Child Mind Institute, playing in nature can have a positive impact on your child’s cognitive functions and creativity. It also can help to reduce stress, increase focus, and spend energy in healthy and fun ways. And we all want our kids to be healthy and have fun, right?

If you’re looking for some ideas for peeling your kids off the couch and getting them into the great outdoors, you’ve come to the right place! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Start A Nature Journal

Kids love to write and draw, and a journal will give them the opportunity to be both scientific and creative. Take them on a nature walk, or just let them explore the backyard while looking for and observing insects or other natural phenomena. Then have them draw pictures of things they saw. If they can write, have them include a sentence or two about what the insects were doing. You can help them by finding the insects under rocks or fallen logs, around streams, etc. If you do this regularly enough, it can be a running journal of all your child’s outdoor experiences.

Find Artistic Inspiration

Nature is full of beauty, and one great way to experience that is to capture it with artwork. Luckily, you don’t have to be a Picasso or a Van Gough to enjoy this activity. Go on a nature walk with your child and collect things you and your child find beautiful—leaves, flowers, etc. Then when you get home, work with your child to turn those into a collage or a scrapbook. This will give them an enormous appreciation of what they’ve experienced outside, while giving them something to hold onto a treasure later.

Go To An Outdoor Concert

Not all outdoor activities need to be active. Depending on where you live, summertime is full of outdoor concerts. Many parks even offer kid-friendly free events. Check local calendars or park websites to find something your child will love.

Pick Veggies And Fruit

There are very few experiences in life better than biting into a piece of freshly picked fruit. Help your child develop a love for fresh food by taking them vegetable and/or fruit picking. Maryland has many farms that offer this fun activity, and you can find a full list here.

Call Stonewall Daycare Today!

Here at Stonewall, spending time outside is a key part of our daily activities. We work hard to ensure that every child has the opportunity to enjoy what nature has to offer. Want more information or ideas? Contact us to schedule a visit!

The post How To Get Your Kids To Spend More Quality Time Outside appeared first on Stonewall Day Care.

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