• How to stay on schedule during the holiday season

    When you have children, the holidays are a fun and magical time. They can also be frustrating and exhausting when disrupted sleep schedules combine with too much excitement and rich food to create cranky, out-of-sorts little ones. How can you maintain a normal schedule during this festive but hectic season?

    • Make food and sleep a priority. Realistically, there’s no way your child is going to be able to stick to the usual sleeping and eating schedule when there’s holiday travel, activities, visitors, and everything else that comes along with the season. Understanding this, try to stay as close to the normal schedule as possible, being mindful of how much sleep kids need and augmenting with naps when you need to. Bring healthy snacks along to keep kids from binging on sweets and skipping nutrition. If you can keep their diet and sleep as normal as possible, it will help prevent meltdowns and keep them healthy.
    • Be clear about your limits. You may be at someone else’s house, or you may have a slew of invitations to events. Limit the number of social obligations in order to keep from overstimulating the children, and let your friends and family members the rules for your kids. It helps to be honest and open, whether you’re talking about screen time, bedtime, or which foods they’re allowed to eat.
    • Take a piece of home on the road. Bringing along a few comfort items can help kids sleep by making the surroundings feel more familiar. If your children are old enough, let them choose which things to bring, giving them a small bag in which to pack whatever they feel they’ll need.
    • Mind the screens. Over the holidays, it’s easy to fall into letting kids have as much screen time as they want. It’s not great for their brains, though, so make sure to set limits on the time they spend in front of the television, computer, and handheld devices. There are plenty of fun holiday specials on television, but make sure to use discretion as to how many your kids are allowed to watch, and watch them with them, to help them absorb the lessons in these shows.
    • Plan for active downtime. The holiday season offers some great opportunities to get outside and play with your kids, whether you’re walking around looking at lights or tossing around a ball. In between the big holiday events like family dinners and community gatherings, find ways to build your traditions around doing active things together.
    • Use the end of vacation to get back on track. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to resume the regular sleep schedule. Start thinking about this several days in advance, pushing bedtime earlier by about 15 minutes each night so that you’ll be ready to jump back into the school routine.

    When school starts back up, you’ll need a good preschool or afterschool program, and if you’re in Succasunna, NJ, you owe it to yourself to check out Creative Learning Academy. Our most sought-after preschool and afterschool programs in New Jersey provide an integrated curriculum full of fun, engaging, safe activities. Tailored to suit each age, grade, and stage, our programs give children time to relax and interact while still ensuring that their homework is completed and their education supported. For more information, visit our website or call 973.541.8241 today.

  • Holiday Traditions Around the World to Make Your Own

    The holidays are approaching, and with them, traditions to celebrate with your family. You probably have traditions stemming from your own faith and culture, or carried over from your childhood, to share with your children. It can be fun, though, to incorporate some new elements. Around the world, people celebrate many different holidays in many different ways. This year, why not take some time to learn about traditions that aren’t familiar to you? You might even find some aspects you’ll want to incorporate in your own holiday celebrations.

    Exposing children to other beliefs and holidays is a great way to help them understand that people come from different backgrounds and cultures, but share some wonderful commonalities. If possible, introduce your children to new holidays and traditions by meeting someone who knows about and celebrates the holiday. If that’s not possible, the public library has a wealth of information about holidays around the world, and you can find videos, photos, and activities online to make them come alive. Here are some December holidays to consider.

    • Christmas and Hanukkah are huge in the United States. Even if your family does not have a foundation of faith, you can teach your children the deeper meanings of these holidays. Reading the Biblical Christmas story, visiting a crèche and singing Christmas carols are all good ways to introduce the concept of Jesus becoming human as a selfless act of love. Visiting a local temple, learning about the Maccabees and their fight for freedom, and creating a Menorah together are all great ways to explore the miracle of Hanukkah with your children, explaining the significance of each element of the celebration.
    • In Europe, December 6th is St. Nicholas Day. It’s celebrated in honor of St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, and there are many different legends and traditions that go along with it. One tradition is for children to leave their shoes outside of their doors. Overnight, “St. Nicholas” visits the house, and leaves a small gift or treats inside the shoes. St. Nicholas was known for helping people in need, so giving to the needy might be a good way to celebrate this holiday with your children.
    • Las Posadas is a festival celebrated in Mexico, Central America, and some parts of the United States. It lasts nine days, from December 16th through the 24th, and represents Mary’s nine-month pregnancy and Mary and Joseph’s nine-day journey to Bethlehem. Poinsettias figure largely into the celebration, so it might be fun to create a poinsettia out of construction paper with your children.
    • Kwanzaa is a holiday that honors the heritage of African-Americans. Use books and stories to learn about Kwanzaa’s significance, then consider making Kwanzaa candles and celebrating with a feast.
    • Yule celebrates the Winter Solstice. Some Yule traditions include decorating a tree, singing songs, lighting candles, and making wreaths, all of which are familiar to most kids. If you want to celebrate Yule with your children, teach them about how the days get longer on the solstice and let them make crafts like paper and glitter suns to hang on the tree.

    Learning about holiday celebrations around the world is a great way to celebrate diversity. Another way to promote an appreciation of others is to put your kids in a preschool or an afterschool program that’s diverse. At Creative Learning Academy, we serve families from all around the Succasunna, New Jersey area, so children in our program get to interact with people who they might not otherwise know, through school or the neighborhood. Our most sought-after preschool and afterschool programs in New Jersey provide an integrated curriculum full of fun, engaging, safe activities. Tailored to suit each age, grade, and stage, our programs give children time to relax and interact while still ensuring that their homework is completed and their education supported. For more information, visit our website or call 973.541.8241 today.

     

  • Healthy Snack Ideas for the Holiday Season

    Oh, the joys of feeding kids during the holiday season! Rich foods abound, schedules are topsy-turvy, and kids are hyped up on holiday vibes, which can make it harder for them to sit through a full meal. One way to make sure your kids are getting the right nutrition during this hectic time of year is to keep snacks at the ready, to stave off cravings and keep blood sugar at a healthy level. You can also bring healthy but festive snacks to holiday gatherings you attend so that you’ll know your kids have options that aren’t full of sugar and fat.

    • Make fruit kabobs that look like Santa hats. It’s simple! Just use a skewer to stack a grape, a banana, and a strawberry, perhaps topped off with a mini-marshmallow.
    • Arrange fruit and cheese into a Christmas tree. Kids and adults alike appreciate a visually appealing snack, so if you’re tasked with bringing a dish to a party, consider a thoughtfully arranged fruit and cheese plate.
    • Make sandwiches fun with cookie cutters. You can cut them into snowmen, stars, or some other festive shape, to make kids more interested in eating them.
    • Use googly eyes and pipe cleaners to turn applesauce cups into reindeer. Turn the cup upside down, put googly eyes on the front, and glue pipe cleaners shaped like antlers to the back. For a particularly festive touch, add a red jingle bell nose.
    • Sharpies and scraps can make string cheese into snowmen. Draw a face on the front of the string cheese wrapper, top the cheese with a top hat made from a scrap of construction paper. Add a jaunty scarf made from a colorful scrap of fabric.

    What if the holiday season has you feeling crazed, and you don’t have time for cute food? That’s ok! When you have an hour, prep some snacks to keep in your fridge and pantry so you’ll always have something healthy to grab. Some good options that can be prepared ahead of time include:

    • Boiled eggs
    • Cubed cheese
    • Sliced fruit and veggies
    • Nuts
    • Hummus
    • Carrot sticks
    • String cheese
    • Greek yogurt

    When it comes right down to it, though, it’s ok to indulge in some food that’s not so healthy over the holidays. The important thing is to save the treats for big occasions, rather than having them in the house. It’s also a good idea to incorporate regular exercise into your family’s holiday traditions, whether that’s walking around the neighborhood caroling, taking a family hike, or just stepping out to look at the lights. Spending time getting some exercise outdoors will create happy family memories and close bonds, as well as helping to keep your kids healthy.

    As parents, we do everything we can to keep our kids healthy and safe. That includes choosing the right after school program, and if you’re in Succasunna, New Jersey area, you owe it to yourself to check out Creative Learning Academy. Our most sought-after preschool and afterschool programs in New Jersey provide an integrated curriculum full of fun, engaging, safe activities. Tailored to suit each age, grade, and stage, our programs give children time to relax and interact while still ensuring that their homework is completed and their education supported. For more information, visit our website or call 973.541.8241 today.