5 Tips what to look for in a daycare

Tips for Choosing a DaycareEven while pregnant more and more mums have the challenge of when they might decide to go back to work and if they will be accessing daycare. Today, we are joined by Lucy Cook, from Amaze Early Education Centre who discusses some important tips to look for when you are considering a daycare for your child.

The thought of choosing a daycare centre can be stressful. Some mums delay going back to work because the decision is too stressful. You’ve been your child’s primary carer all it’s life! How can you possibly find somewhere/someone you feel comfortable and confident enough to leave your little one. Here are 5 tips aimed to help reduce the tears (yours!) and ease the agony of the decision. Lucy shares that are 5 important questions to ask yourself.

1. How do you feeling?
2. What about the Love?
3. Pay attention to the details
4. Who are the educators?
5. What about the education?

How do you Feel?

Have you ever walked into somewhere, a restaurant, cafe, shop, office, and knew it wasn’t right, for no other reason than it didn’t feel right. Choosing a daycare is exactly the same. I know as mum myself, I have visited many childcare centres and when comparing sometimes it came down to the way it ‘felt’. While hard to quantify, it can help to ask yourself a few questions. What was my first thought when I walked through the door? Was I feeling comfortable or ill at ease? Was I feeling welcome or a burden? Did the centre smell ‘inviting’? At the end of the day, feeling comfortable and confident with your choice of daycare is the single most important feeling.

What about the Love?

From the minute you walk in the door, do you feel your centre educators care enough to want to get to know and value your child. This starts from the Director downwards. It is not limited to the Educators in your child’s room. The best centres have Educators that all know your child and take a genuine interest in them. Do you feel a connection with the educators? Watch your child (don’t forget to take them for the visit!). Your child will find the warmest fuzziness Educator in the room (if there is one!). Watch the other children. Can you see this warmth and fuzziness? Can you see little connections happening throughout the room or yard:)

Pay attention to the details

You can tell a lot about a daycare by the details. Are the facilities and equipment in good repair? This doesn’t have to mean brand spanking new. Don’t be distracted by the sparkles. It means that everything has a place in the room. Are pencils sharpened? Puzzles with no pieces missing? There are obvious systems and order, and the centre takes pride in this. Why is this important? Because if you don’t care about the little things, how can you possibly care about my precious child. On a more practical note, a well organised centre will save you oodles of time searching for your child’s lost belongings. Is the drink bottle in the fridge, or outside, in the bag? Where was the jumper taken off? Outside? Oh it’s now dark, I guess I’ll use my phone flashlight to look! It’s the last thing you need to be doing after a hard day of work.


Who are the educators?

Aka carers/teachers etcetera, but definitely not babysitters. Do they have ‘the loving’ gene (see point 2)? Is this more than a job? Educators who are passionate can’t help themselves, and always give more than is required. Let’s face it, they are not doing it for the money (notoriously pitiful pay). Do they look approachable (or are they standing in a group chatting)? Better still, do they come and approach you or welcome you first? Educators that are engaged in children and their learning can be seen with a bunch of children around them. Children are naturally drawn to someone who is interacting with them. These Educators are usually down at the children’s level, bending down for a chat, crawling on the ground, sitting reading a story, singing a song. Good Educators will encourage your engagement with your child’s learning. They will also respect your tradition and cultures and home routine. They will ask you what you did on the weekend AND include it in the program. They will laugh at the funny things your child said AND remember to tell you. They will throw a party in the bathroom with the first poo on the toilet AND get the child to call you. They will cry with you when Grandma passes away or you are simply having a bad day AND give you some phone numbers for referral services. They will form a great partnership with you on the journey of your child’s education.

What about the education?

The education received is purposefully point 5 as without the other four points, even the best education programs will be ineffective. Your daycare should inform you of the centre’s philosophy and how the education program works. In Australia, we follow the Early Years Learning Framework or EYLF (pronounced elf) as it is known. Many centres also offer a government approved Kindergarten program in the year before school which is taught by a Bachelor trained Early Childhood teacher. The best centres run this program 5 days a week. Make sure your child’s learning will be documented. Will they have a portfolio or some way of documenting your child’s learning journey. This should be easily accessed by you at all times but will remain at the centre for the educators to add too. The program should be child centred and child directed. This doesn’t mean that Jessica can choose to go and sit in block corner all day. This means that the Educator has seen the Jessica is interested in blocks and building and has built on his interest by providing a lot of learning experiences around this. For example, the class might use the blocks to measure how tall each child is (maths), some children might choose to be scribes and record this data (English- writing). Sarah’s dad is a builder who might come in and talk to the children (connections with the community). Child centred does not mean there is no intentional teaching. Beware the centre who has a program drawn up at the beginning of the week for the whole week. The program should grow and develop as the week progresses and may draw on experiences from other weeks. This should all be documented with clearly defined curriculum links.

After all your investigations your choice should be easy, follow your intuition, you will just ‘know’.

About Lucy Cook

Lucy CookLucy is a mum of four busy boys, 15 years, 13 years and 11 year old identical twins. She has spent the last 21 years in education, mostly PE and Science teaching across all ages. In 2008, along with her sister Alison, who is also a teacher, they began a kindergarten on the Gold Coast, Amaze Early Education Centre. As Lucy’s children grew, so did Amaze. In 2015, they now have 6 centres across South-East Queensland, including 4 Outside School hours Care Centres, and over 50 staff. Lucy and Amaze are passionate about the communities they serve. As well as running children around between soccer, tennis and drama, Lucy enjoys spending time working with the Gold Coast Multiple Birth Association, Assista Sista (Domestic Violence) and Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation.


How to Put Kids to Bed with Minimum Fuss

Candi of Nannies4hire.com has some great tips for helping get kids to fall asleep. I have a feelings these tips will come in handy, especially after the transitioning to toddler beds post that we ran on Friday.

We know that some kids go to bed easily. They do what you ask them to do in a timely and compliant manner. Oh, but then there are those kids who beg for five more minutes of play time or drag out the bedtime ritual . . . and the kids who lay in bed and wail in the hopes that you will come and rescue them from their beds. How do you handle these kids to get them to go to bed with minimum fuss?

The five-more-minutes kids and the dragging-out-bedtime-rituals kids: these kids either thoroughly enjoy whatever they are doing at the time or they just don’t like bedtime. Either way, their parents have tasked you with putting them to bed on time, and you must do so. Usually, we have enough knowledge of the kids in our care to know what may be driving their behaviors . . . find a motivator that will incent them to go to bed without further fuss. For example, if the kids hate missing out on social interaction, you can offer to lay down with them until they are asleep.

The lay-in-bed-and-wail kids: these kids have learned that crying loudly (and often exaggeratedly) will get adults to do what they want. This can be a tricky situation for a baby sitter. If you ignore the manipulative behavior, will the parents perceive your choice to be neglectful or cold? If you capitulate to the manipulative behavior (because, presumably, that’s what the parents have historically done), then will you further reinforce the manipulative behavior? It’s best to visit with the parents to determine how they want you to respond to this situation.

Another tip: determine what lulls the kids. Lulling things can include soft music or absolute silence, complete darkness or dim light, comforting scents (e.g., the kids’ moms’ perfume), and rocking or a back rub. About 45 minutes before bedtime, you should get the kids ready for bed (teeth brushed, jammies on, etc.). Then, for the 30 minutes before bedtime, use the lulling techniques to induce drowsiness before the kids ever get tucked in bed.

What tips and tricks do you have for putting your kids to sleep?

6 Tips for Preventing the Post-Move Clutter Explosion

Post-move Clutter

Despite continual New Year’s resolutions to simplify our lives, our homes continue to build with clutter. This is exceedingly apparent when taking on the cumbersome task of moving. The task of packing and unpacking all of one’s earthly belongings is daunting, and often leaves our new homes in a state of cluttered chaos.

But there are some simple strategies that you can apply during your next move. These clutter-busting tips will help you eliminate much of the chaos from your move:

1. Donate

Before packing, go through each room of your house and find the items that you rarely use or no longer need. Donate these items to a worthwhile charity— you’ll help others while reducing your own stress level. And for an added bonus, be sure to get a receipt to claim a tax deduction for your donation.


2. Establish a Cleaning Schedule

Attempting to clean and organize an entire house in one swoop often proves intimidating. Instead, divide your decluttering work into a manageable schedule that you can stick to on a regular basis. Designate certain days of the week for particular household tasks. Map out several months’ work at a time, and pencil in tasks that only need to be done occasionally like cleaning the garage or changing air filters.


3. Stop Junk in its Tracks

Sort through your mail directly over a trash can. Immediately throw all junk mail, advertisements, and fliers into the trash rather than setting them on a desk where they will eventually become an out-of-control pile of clutter. Whenever possible, eliminate trash and other clutter at the earliest possible opportunity.


4. Go Digital

From bills to photos, the digital world rids our homes of clutter. You can fit what used to be stacks of paper on a tiny flash drive, which is easy to organize. With specialized scanning devices, you can store all business cards and receipts digitally as well, freeing yourself from piles of paper.


5. Find Extra Space

The easiest way to control clutter when embarking on a move is to set up a storage and organization plan. For all non-essential items that can’t be stored in the home, it makes sense to use a storage unit, like Glen Allen VA self storage. This strategy allows you to prioritize the unpacking of important boxes first, while gradually tackling the stored boxes as time and energy allows. All the while, you keep clutter to a minimum.

6. Hire a Professional

If all other attempts at organizing have failed, bring in a professional organizer to help you jump-start an uncluttered lifestyle. A short-term investment in this service will yield great rewards when you begin unpacking in your new home.


Author Bio

This article was written by Danille Hunsaker on behalf of extraspace.com. To learn more about self storage in Glen Allen, VA, visit their website at: http://www.extraspace.com/Storage/Facilities/US/New_Jersey/Cranbury/1000000143/Facility.aspx

Clean up Your Act! Tips for Organizing Your Home

shoe mess

Who said, Organization is the key to success? We can’t remember either, but he/she was right. If you want to make positive changes in 2013, why not start in your home? An organized and uncluttered home simply makes life less stressful, especially if your life is busy with kids. Here are some tips to get started:

Throw It Out

When in doubt, throw it out. Phase one of this operation consists of throwing out or donating to charity all your extra stuff. If you don’t use it or if it no longer serves any good purpose think gadgets you plan on using one day and outdated magazines you know you’re going to refer back to sometime just get rid of it.

Clean It Up

After you’ve gotten rid of what you don’t need, clean what you do. Give your home a thorough, deep cleaning, shampoo the carpets and consider a visit from a pest control company if things are pretty bad.

Now Find a Place for It

That cluster of remotes should have its own home; books and magazines belong on a shelf or bin. Make sure every room has a trash can. Once you’ve parted with the items you don’t need and cleaned, it’s time to tackle your organizing issues like a professional.

Bathrooms Buy some stackable bins to organize things like brushes, hair clips and styling tools, and then make sure you use them no leaving these on the counter anymore. If everybody in the family uses different shower products, buy individual shower caddies and keep them under the sink, so that they’re only in the shower when in use. Throw out old make-up and lotions and buy a drawer organizer, and if your bathroom floor gets littered with wet towels and bathrobes, get a few over-the-back-of-the-door hooks.

Closets These get out of hand fast, as it’s just so easy to throw the stuff you don’t know what to do with in there and then shut the door. That’s bad. Make sure everybody’s closet has a laundry basket for dirty clothes, get a shoe rack, install hooks and designate hanging spaces for scarves, ties, belts and handbags. Organize clothes by purpose, season or color, and if you haven’t worn something in more than a year, it’s time to donate it to Goodwill.

Bedrooms For children’s rooms, hang extra shelves and get some under-the bed boxes to keep toys organized. If you don’t have one already, introduce the Make your bed every morning rule it’s amazing the difference a made bed can make (you have to follow this one, too).

Home Office Create a filing system for that pile on your desk and store them in file cabinets. Purchase a paper shredder and get in the habit of shredding documents as you receive them, so they don’t have a chance to accumulate. RealSimple.com suggests creating an inbox for bills and other important documents that require prompt attention, and then going through it daily.

Kitchen Organize utensils, plates, cups and pantry items. Place small, loose items like measuring spoons and small packets of things like yeast and Jell-O in small Tupperware containers and organize spices with a spice rack. Cut down on counter space by only placing items that you use regularly.

Anna Bernel
Anna and her mom have their own line of homemade purses that they sell at local craft shows. She loves writing feature articles for lifestyle blogs.

Sylvan Recommended Reading List: National Black History Month Reading Recommendations

Every February, Black History Month provides children with the opportunity to learn and share in the rich history of African Americans, both at school and at home.


Educators and parents alike know that even with the development of electronic learning technologies, reading still provides the primary gateway into that history, as it does for much of what our children learn.


That’s why Sylvan Learning created a new learning system that blends state-of-the-art instructional technology with our proven proprietary approach to supplemental learning. With SylvanSync™, Sylvan’s certified instructors incorporate the use of an iPad® to create a more engaging educational experience for students and extend the learning of reading, math and other skills into the home and onto mobile devices.


Sylvan Learning located in <City> is deeply dedicated to helping children build their reading skills. In addition to the leading-edge SylvanSync system, Sylvan also offers a range of free resources—including reading lists and online learning aids— aimed at helping children acquire the reading skills they need.


Black History Month provides parents with the perfect opportunity to use reading to bring this important history alive for their child while helping to build their student’s reading skills. Each of the books in our recommended reading list offers an excellent window into black history at the appropriate level for each grade.


Elementary School

Kindergarten: God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday
A Picture Book of Rosa Parks by David A. Adler and Robert Castilla
Grade 1: Big Jabe by Jerdine Nolan
I Dream of Trains by Angela Johnson
Grade 2: I’ve Seen The Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther Kind, Jr. by Walter Dean Myers
If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold
Grade 3:  Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan
Grade 4: When Grandmama Sings by Margaree King Mitchell

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges and Margo Lundell

Grade 5: Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

A Pride of African Tales by Donna L. Washington

Middle School

Grade 6: Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson

Extraordinary People of the Harlem Renaissance by Stephen P. Hardy

Grade 7:  Caleb’s Wars by David L. Dudley

Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson

Grade 8:  The Black Americans: A History in Their Own Words by Milton Meltzer
Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa by Hazel Rockman

High School

Grade 9: The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant

The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers

Grade 10: The Collected Works of Langston Hughes: The Poems by Langston Hughes
Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth
Grade 11: Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by

John Stauffer

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Grade 12: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Parents with children in grades K-8 also can take advantage of Book Adventure (www.BookAdventure.com), a free, online Sylvan Learning reading resource that provides a fun way to motivate children to read. Book Adventure lets children search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.

Book Adventure also features Parent’s Place, where parents can monitor their child’s reading progress, track quiz results, approve their child’s prize selection and help them find their next book to read. The site also includes a number of valuable resources, including ideas, informative articles and online tools parents can use to help motivate their child to read.


For additional information and educational resources, visit us on the web at www.sylvanlearning.com or call 1-800-31-SUCCESS.




About Sylvan Learning

Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels with over 30 years of experience and more than 800 centers located throughout North America. Sylvan’s trained and Sylvan-certified personal instructors provide individualized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit www.SylvanLearning.com.


Divorce infographic highlights emerging trends

Dark nights, cold weather, credit card bills and a long wait until that summer holiday of your dreams.  These are all reasons why January can be a long and low month for many across the UK, but for some there will be added pressures at this time of year with a relationship breaking down.

The Changing Landscape of Marriage & Divorce

1.8 million couples contemplate divorce during the Christmas break, sparking a 50% increase in telephone calls to leading charity Relate who offer relationship and marriage counselling.  And it seems to be the wives who are making the first move towards divorce with 75% of divorces at this time of year initiated by unhappy wives – who on average will be just shy of their 35th birthday at the time.

The reasons? Perhaps the added financial pressures Christmas brings combined with wider on-going economic troubles – research shows that unemployment and downturns in the housing market are often linked to family instability.  If you look toward the top reasons for divorce for answers you’ll find little change in the last 40 years. Whilst adultery often tops tabloid headlines for the demise of celebrity divorces the leading contributing factor continues to be spousal behaviour.

Once divorce proceedings are initiated, factors we may often not think about can come in to play.  For example, what happens to the beloved family pet? It can certainly be a bone of contention with 20% of those divorces involving a pet result in a contested divorce.

The emerging trend is unfortunately one of relationship breakdown – where marriage has declined in the past 50 years and divorce has risen.

Stephens Scown’s family and divorce solicitor Cornwall are top ranked by the two independent guides to the law, Chambers and The Legal 500. For more information please visit: http://www.stephens-scown.co.uk/

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