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Child Care Magazine

Issue 5, vol. 6.5 ARCHIVE


Author Date Issue Section
School's Out For Summer Traci Gardner 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Stay-At-Home-Parent
Kitchenlab Kindermath, Tutorial #5 Noreen Wyper 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Kitchenlab Kindermath WC
Home-based Workers Meet the Appliance Guy Deb Di Sandro 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Humor in Child Care WC
The Alexander Technique and Early Childhood Education Robert Rickover 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Teaching & Education
Question & Answer Column, Issue #5 Heather Haapoja 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Q & A WC
Big Brother is Watching You! Victoria L. Pietz 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Child Care Advice
Getting a Grip on Stress Heather Haapoja 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Stress Help WC
Sousa's Stars & Stripes Christine L. Pollock 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Music & Art in Child Care
Hidden Cameras in Your Home, "a.k.a....The Nanny Cam" Elizabeth Pennington 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Nannies and Child Care
Organizing Your Pre-School Search Jenifer McCrea 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Child Care Issues WC
Learning Environment in a Sandbox Noreen Wyper 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Teaching & Education
Prime Time Parenting, The Winner's Circle Deb & Dave Graham 6/29/2001 Issue 5, vol. 6.5 Prime Time Parenting WC

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By:   Deb & Dave Graham

Ever since the government loosened its hold on the gambling laws in our country, state lotteries have created a few millionaires and a few million dreamers.  An amazing amount of people participate in these activities.  And although it is a known fact that only a minute percentage of them will actually become winners, EVERY PARTICIPANT not only knows what he would do if he won, but has spent considerable time making elaborate plans on just exactly how he would do it.  It is not within the nature of every human to take chances. But it IS human nature to believe that what happened once, can happen, again. Gambling is based on this.

In fact, it is one of the strongest impulses in human nature, and something the psychologists refer to as the power of “intermittent reward.”  It has been scientifically proven time and again, that something that pays off every time, does not have as strong an influence as something that only pays off once in awhile.  And if the stakes are high… the impulse to take a chance on it only intensifies.  Everybody wants to be a winner.

The drive to win is the primary reason we play games.  This drive is so strong that the human psyche will actually override the more numerous times we lose by allowing us to dream of winning. And this dreaming fuels the fire of our enthusiasm for each new effort.  It has nothing to do with age.  Once again, we are talking about something that is so integral to human nature that a child is born with this facility fully intact.  All toddlers seem to enjoy taking things in and out of cupboards. But a toddler who finds a jellybean in a cup on one of these adventures, will not only increase the amount of time spent at
the game… he will consistently reach for the cups, first. And if intermittent rewards prove to be “golden moments” for children, they can be a virtual gold mine for the parent who takes advantage of them.

So, are we suggesting you reward your children for their propensity to take chances?  No, we are pointing out the opportunity to utilize a force that is already in operation and channel it – like electricity – into a more   purposeful use.  To do this, we have to take a closer look at the subject of rewards… so, let’s go back to the jellybean.  A child that is given a jellybean every time she picks up her toys will soon assume that it is her rightful due.  It is her “payment” which she has earned for the task.  If that is the case, she has every right to opt for not doing it once in awhile, especially if she’s not in the mood for jellybeans. To up the ante to two jellybeans at this point, might get the job done, but it is only a temporary fix because your candy is no longer a reward but a bribe.  And a bribe is a bribe whether you’re talking about jellybeans or the Mafia… eventually it is never enough and almost always leads to a bad end.  

This is not to say that allowances or paydays -- or anything else that comes regularly for services rendered –will eventually lose its pull.  But these are not rewards.  They are contracts mutually agreed upon beforehand. Fair earnings.  In fact, most people would be insulted if someone referred to what they earned as a reward because a reward implies an inflated value on something you really weren’t expecting in the first place.  And looking at
one’s efforts for any length of time in this way eventually becomes a means of low self-esteem and lack of respect for others.  That’s because truth and fairness are the ultimate, highest standards of human nature no matter what culture you come from.  To offend these two things at any age in any instance causes immediate breach in relationships that – if not purposefully mended – will remain perpetually torn.    

A reward is temporary, uncommon, and sometimes even surprising.  Because it never follows a pattern there is an air of mystery about it that automatically catches interest. Humans love a mystery.  To say, “Why, Sarah, you picked up your toys without even being asked – what a surprise!  I think maybe this calls for a jellybean,” has more pull than the actual jellybean. Simply because it was an unexpected surprise… and something of a mystery as to why you came up with it at this particular time.  And don’t worry if tomorrow she runs up excitedly and says, “I picked up my toys, again, can I have a
jellybean?”  Because then you are in a wonderful position to say, “Getting a jellybean every time you pick up your toys would be a lot of jellybeans!  But you know what? Picking up toys is a lot of work and if you’re willing to work that hard, then I’m willing to pay you for it.  As long as you think a jellybean is fair.”

Alright, you say.  So much for Sarah.  But suppose you have fathered a “Beelzebub” who would never dream of picking up her own toys, much less, cooperate with any efforts to set up the routine.  That’s when your experience as an adult wins out over the child.  You “set her up” to win.  If lotteries can cater to a greater audience than would ever – by nature – frequent casinos, simply by selling the idea… we ought to at least be able to do that much with mere children.  And we can.  You know what makes Beelzebub tick better than anyone in the world, for the mere fact that you were probably a Beelzebub, yourself at that age.  So, dig back into those resources and remind yourself what appeals the most.  Then set her up to win.  “Catch her doing good.”  Even if you have to go so far as to reward her for not making as big a mess as she did yesterday… that’s a starting point.  The beginning of the road.  And if you can find the road, you can make the journey.  

As we have said before, no one has a greater influence over children – for good or for bad – than their parents.  So, don’t take surface reactions for the deep stuff.  The truth is, any reward coming from you is doubly potent, simply because it… comes from you.  In the long run, they will knock themselves out to please you.  You might not see the effects of it today or tomorrow, or maybe even next week.  But you’ll see it.  So plain it will be like looking into a mirror someday.  Which is a pretty high complement to you.  

By “setting your children up” for rewards, and then rewarding them for doing good, you can condition them to win.  The determination t win is one of the most wonderful advantages you could ever give your children in life.  It would actually have a boomerang effect and make YOU successful.  And who knows? You could be nurturing an Einstein, or an Edison, or – as we Americans are fond of saying, “the next president of the United States.”  

Here are a few tips that make for good rewards:

       Pick something that they already do well, and GIVE THE MAN UNEXPECTED
REWARD for it.

       MAKE THE CHALLENGES ATTAINABLE.  The promise of something special for
getting an “A” in science, is not a reward, it’s a goal.  An unexpected activity or treat for doing a good job on a  specific assignment or project in science is.

      ALWAYS FOLLOW THROUGH. If you promise a movie for something well done, don’t come up with some excuse why you can’t do it when Saturday comes around.  Your word is as good as a promise in your child’s eyes, so if you say it, do it.

       DON’T BASE YOUR REWARDS SOLELY ON PERFORMANCE.  Sometimes a simple, “I like your smile, today, let’s do something fun together,” can have amazing
effects.  It means your acceptance of them stretches past what they do to who
they are… and that’s worth a million.

       NEVER ATTACH STRINGS TO YOUR REWARDS.  If you reward them for something one day, and they totally bomb out with it the next, don’t punish them for it, or takeaway the reward you gave them yesterday. A reward is like a seed in the ground with the potential to spring up later into something wonderful.  Snatch it back and there’s no potential for growth, at all.

       DON’T OVERDO IT! Rewards are like dessert… too much loses impact and could even make you sick.  Remember, the secret here is “intermittent.”

It’s a wonderful thing to get a turn in the winner’s circle. Letting your children experience this in your home will not only be a benefit to their home-life, it could very well be a benefit to their  future.  Most winners aren’t born, they’re made.  So, make a difference in your children’s experiences by “setting them up.”  And when you do…

Set them up to win!



The Alexander Technique and Early Childhood Education

By:   Robert Rickover

In the course of my work as a teacher of the Alexander Technique (1), I’m often asked just how it is that so many of us have developed harmful patterns of posture and movement. I tell them about the horrible furniture children are forced to use in most schools, problems with carrying heavy backpacks and the unconscious imitation of parents who themselves may have poor posture.

But underlying all these is the fact that most parents and teachers really have no idea just how easy it is for children to pick up bad habits of posture and movement, and how quickly these habits can become lasting distortions.

Take for example the process of teaching children how to write. “Penmanship”, it was called when I was in school and it was a most unpleasant experience. My handwriting was judged not acceptable and for awhile, I was forced to stay after school for additional practice. But no matter how hard I tried to copy the perfect examples posted on the wall of my third-grade classroom, my writing just didn’t measure up.

In hindsight, it is clear that my attempts to “get it right” probably made my writing worse and certainly contributed to a pattern of holding a lot of excess tension in my hands, arms and shoulders. It was only after I began taking Alexander Technique lessons some thirty years later that I learned how to release this harmful habit.

Think about what’s involved in teaching a class of thirty 8-year olds how to write: Some of the children will learn this skill quite easily. But others - like me - will not, often because they simply have not yet developed the fine motor control necessary to move a pen or pencil in a precise way across a page. All too often, the pressure to “get it right” causes them to produce a lot of extra tension as they write, including scrunching themselves down over their desks.

From the classroom teacher’s point of view, these scrunching children are “making an effort” and they may even be rewarded for their obvious desire to do well. After all, they’re not disrupting the classroom as some of the other children may be doing, perhaps in frustration with being forced to learn something they’re not ready for. Inadvertently, these tension patterns may be reinforced by their teacher’s approval of their effort.

The problem is that these habits of tension often persist into adulthood. Take a look at what people around you do to themselves when they write - you’ll often see shoulders hunched up, stiff hands and fingers and other forms of tension totally inappropriate to the task. If you have children, take a look at what they do when they take up pen and paper (or, for matter, when they use a computer keyboard). Take a look at yourself doing this in a mirror. You may be shocked at what you see!

The experience of Elizabeth Langford, a respected British teacher of the Alexander Technique illustrates just how easy it is to transfer harmful habits to our children: “As a child, ‘helping’ in the kitchen, it was by watching my mother that I learned how to beat eggs with a fork. Along with he rapid forearm movement, I copied what she did with her shoulders - and soon began to feel cramped and tired. How could I know, young as I was, than the tension I had copied was merely an expression of my mother’s anxiety to hurry on to the next task, that it contributed nothing to the speed or effectiveness of the egg-beating. Whipping the whites was done with a knife on a large plate, but since this skill, even more fascinating, was demonstrated by my grandmother, a dignified old lady who operated at how own speed, it never involved me in muscular problems, then or later. As an adult, I have been able to analyze the difference, and have become passionately interested in disentangling skills from the snares surrounding them.” - Mind and Muscle - An Owner’s Manual, page 220, F. Matthias Alexander, the originator of the Alexander Technique, recognized this kind of problem and maintained that the Technique should be taught to young children so they could avoid taking on harmful physical habits from the start. As is the case in so many other areas, prevention is far more efficient and far less time-consuming than changing deeply ingrained habits in adult students.

One of Alexander’s students was Professor John Dewey, the American philosopher and founder of the school of philosophy known as Pragmatism. Dewey was also very influential in the development of American education during the first half of the 20th Century. Indeed, he is sometimes called “The Father of American Education”.

From his own experience with the Alexander Technique, it was clear to Dewey that Alexander was right, that the Technique ought to be taught to children. Here’s what he had to say about this:

"(Alexander's) discovery would not have been made and the method or procedure perfected except by dealing with adults who were badly coordinated. But the method is one of remedy; it is one of constructive education. Its proper field of application is with the young, with the growing generation..." (emphasis added) In my experience, small children are quite capable of learning the basic ideas of the Alexander Technique - and usually much quicker than their parents. The problem is that neither their teachers nor their parents are aware of what’s at stake.

Hopefully this will change as more parents and teachers recognize the powerful influence they have on their children’s posture and coordination, and take steps to ensure that influence is a positive one.


By:   Noreen Wyper

 Children learn through the process of playful interaction with people and materials. In order to be successful learners, the environment needs to provide the child with independent and cooperative use of stimulating activities.

Let's take a look at the social interaction you may observe in a sandbox in your own backyard, on a playground or in a daycare/kindergarten environment. Here are the developmental stages of play:

Parallel Play:

Two or more children are sitting in the sandbox completely absorbed in their own thoughts and actions. Each child has his share of the sand. There isn't any interaction or communication taking place. One child might be building a sand structure while the other child is hauling and dumping sand from his dump truck. They are just physically sharing the sandbox.

Associative Play:

The above parallel situation may still occur but communication between the two is happening. Each is still engrossed in his/her own activity in a specific spot in the sandbox. They chat readily to one another about their tasks. They may question one another or even offer suggestions. The sharing of some material such as a small shovel may take place.

Co-operative Play:

At this stage you will observe the children working and communicating together. They discuss the activity they are working on. There is ongoing interaction and sharing of the whole sandbox and materials. They make plans to build roads, develop a subdivision with a church, school, corner store, gas station, etc. They run the dump trucks from a gravel pit to the site. Haul, dump. spread, build! They may even designate roles for one another and exchange them as time passes.

When observing your child at play, reflect upon how your child selects, approaches, creates, interacts and completes the activity.



Organizing Your Pre-School Search

By:   Jenifer McCrea 

Last week I discussed when to begin your search for the right pre-school.  When to start is a lot easier than how to start.  I’m the kind of person who does a ton of research, especially when it comes to my child. At any rate, a successful search is an organized one. 

Friends and family are the first place to begin.  Start your list with the pre-schools friends and family have utilized in the past or present.  Two good reasons for starting here.  First, you can get an honest evaluation of the pros and cons of the school.  No school is all good or all bad, but when you are talking with the admissions director or whomever is the ‘face’ person for the pre-school, it is their job to sell you on their school.  The second good reason is if you do face a waiting list, a good recommendation from a past or current attendee is always a plus. 

Once you have a list from people you know it’s time to hit the phone book.  In my phone book pre-schools are lumped together with daycare under the heading “Schools-Academic-Pre-School & Kindergartens.” You might also want to check “Schools-Private.”  Cull from the ads and listings schools that are geographically desirable.

It’s time to make some calls.  Starting with your friends recommendations, call the school, ask for the admissions director or the school director, and start asking a few questions.  You can take a look at my previous column “Choosing from the Pre-School Options” for a list of questions to begin with.  To get an idea of where you stand one of your questions may well be, “What is the annual tuition?”  However, don’t let the tuition be your only factor.  It can be worth a higher tuition if the school location is 30 minutes closer to your home, or if they provide a special curriculum that you know will be of great interest to your child.  At this point, don’t make any appointments, but be sure to thank whomever has taken the time to answer your questions.  It is the school’s first chance to make an impression on you, but it’s also your chance to make a first impression on them.

It may take you a couple of weeks to work through your list, after all you have a busy toddler running around!  Once the calls are completed, then take a look at what you have.  You may have been able to eliminate many schools just through the phone calls.  Go through what you have left and narrow it down to 3-5 schools you think will be a fit for your child.  These are the schools you call back and set up a tour.  Most schools are ready and willing to give tours to prospective parents, however some private schools will have an admissions procedure that will specify when and who can tour the school.  Ask who will show you around the school and if they will be able to answer questions for you during that time. Plan an hour for each tour, and plan on interviewing whomever is your tour guide.

While on the tour look for cleanliness of the floors and carpets and how attentive the teachers are.  Look at the students.  Do they seem engaged in what they are doing?  Or are they bored.  You want to know what you are paying for.  Are you paying for your child to be in a learning environment, or to be babysat for nine hours a week?  You know what your goals are, and can judge the school accordingly. By the way, I would be suspect of any school that does not offer an option to see the classroom in action.  Any school worth the money you are about to pay should have a way for you to evaluate the classroom.  Whether that’s actually sitting in class and talking with the teacher and students or through a one way mirror, it’s necessary for you to understand the environment the school cultivates.

Through these steps you should be able to gather enough information to make a decision.  If there are waiting lists at any of the schools, then you can place your child on them.  Don’t hesitate to put your child on more than one waiting list.  If more than one acceptance comes through -  then count yourself very, very lucky.  You can always decline a waiting list acceptance.

Of course you can take your research farther.  You can go through public records at your local courthouse to see if there are any civil or criminal actions pending against your chosen school.  You can ask the school if they maintain any memberships in any local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and check if they are members in good standing.  Once you start getting into your search new questions will occur to you.  Don’t hesitate to ask.  As your child’s advocate, it’s up to you to find out.




"a.k.a....THE NANNY CAM"

By:   Elizabeth Pennington


All you want for your children is for them to be happy, healthy and safe.  Especially safe.  Your house is baby-proofed, you are child/infant CPR certified, the car seats are properly installed and the Poison Control number is like a song that keeps running through your head...you just can’t shake it. But, what happens when you are not around? When you are at work or on a date with your spouse or at a PTA meeting, how can you guarantee your children’s safety?  You can’t.  What you can do is to be proactive in your quest for your child’s well-being and trust that the environment you’ve created and manipulated will be your watchdog.

That once bulky and unsightly camcorder is now your sleek and compact watchdog, easily hidden behind a potted plant, on a bookshelf crammed in along with the magazines and assorted knickknacks, or perched on top of your refrigerator concealed by numerous phone books and all the other odds and ends that no longer fit into the house junk drawer.  Perfect for checking in on your nanny and your children while you’re away.  Some critics of the “nanny cam” say this is spying and an invasion of your nanny’s privacy.  It is spying but it is not an invasion of privacy. She is in your home, the privacy of your home.      

You’ve done all you can to hire the most qualified, loving, and nurturing of nannies for your children, but you’ve watched 48 Hours and Dateline and 60 Minutes and you’ve seen the shocking footage caught on video of nannies and other childcare givers abusing the children who have been entrusted to their nanny’s care. This is your home and these are your children and you have every right to do what is necessary to protect them.  This is a day and age when political correctness is stretched and pummeled until it is unrecognizable and ceases to mean a thing and the argument against nanny cams is one of those times.

The best way to get around the whole “invasion of privacy” hoo-ha, is to ask the nanny during the initial interview if she would have a problem with  hidden cameras in the house.  If she objects, I suggest you end the interview then and there and move on to the next candidate.  Any mature nanny or care giver would understand and support the parents’ efforts to ensure a safe environment for their children. Trust is what you’re looking for and a nanny balking a the idea of hidden cameras should throw red flags up all over the place.

As a long-time nanny, I am a total supporter of the nanny cam.  I’ve worked in a few homes where I think there may have been hidden cameras set up to check on my care of the children.  It’s an odd feeling, sure, sort of like sensing Big Brother watching your every move, eyes boring into your back. But, I became used to it and eventually forgot about it. If a nanny was to object to hidden cameras, I certainly would have to question why. 

An infant or toddler will be too young to tell you if they are being abused, and why wait for bruises, broken bones or a damaged psyche to inform you of what is going on? Be proactive.  This technology is here for you to use and why not use every method and means available in the 21st century to protect and defend your most cherished treasures? 

In next week’s column, I’ll discuss having a house-bound nanny or a nanny who has permission to take the children on excursions.  The pros and cons of each.



Sousa’s Stars and Stripes

By:   Christine L. Pollock 

It’s here! This week we celebrate the Fourth of July! As an American, I thought I would focus on a musical tribute this week to our independence. I think the non-Americans will enjoy the lively sound of the band music, also.

On the Fourth, we will have the excitement of the crowds, the smells of the barbecues and the memories of gatherings over the years celebrating the independence of our country. While many child care providers are taking the day off, many still have children coming. However, this day will definitely be special no matter where we are. What do you think of when you reflect on this day? I immediately think of fireworks, hot weather, pool parties, hot dogs  and most importantly, the parade.

The fire trucks in the parade are very exciting and seeing the veterans is always a moving experience, but what really makes me feel the excitement of the day is the band playing The Stars and Stripes Forever (www.dws.org/sousa). I remember when I was young and would hear the band marching down the street. My body would feel the vibrations of the drums as my feet tapped out the rhythm of the music. I also enjoyed singing to the tars and Stripes melody:

Be kind to your web footed friend,

Because a duck could be somebody’s mother

Who lives all alone in a swamp

Where the weather is cold and damp

You may think that this is the end

Well, it is, ‘cuz there is no other story

Be kind to your web footed friend

Because a duck,

You know it could

Be someone’s mother.

Now that I am older, I know that the message of this melody is much more serious. I wanted to learn more about the piece’s composer, John Philip Sousa. Quite appropriately, John was born in Washington, D.C. in 1854. He was one of 10 children and his father’s main job was playing the trombone.

When John was little, he was interested in music so John started learning to play the violin and the trombone. At the age of eleven, he joined a dance band as a violinist. When he was 13, John tried to run away to join the circus as a musician. As a result of this, his father enlisted him in the Marines. In 1868, Sousa became an apprentice musician in the Marine Corps where he stayed for five years. He did various other jobs after this. From 1882-1892, he went back to the Marines, this time as the director of the Marine Band.

John Philip Sousa was a man of many talents. He was also very wise and diplomatic.  His main belief was to write band music that would not only serve a purpose, but would also please the people. One of the wisest ideas he had was to gather together patriotic and national anthems from foreign lands. When he was leader of the Marine Corp., his band would play the music in honor of the land to which they were traveling. Often this would make the Americans more welcome in the foreign lands.

In addition to the musical pieces he wrote, Sousa also wrote three novels, an autobiography and a couple of comic operas. The songs he wrote were often humorous (one is about a man in a kissing contest entitled Smick, Smack, Smuck).

John Philip Sousa was a man who knew music and the joy and emotion it could bring out in a crowd. His composition, The Stars and Stripes Forever, became the official march of the United States in 1988 (Title 36, Section 10, Paragraph 188 of the United States Code). In March of 1932, John died in Reading, Pa.  Links to more information about John Philip Sousa can be found on Child Care Magazine’s link page.

Holidays and bands and patriotism are fun in general, but are especially fun in the child care environment.  There are so many activities to choose from.

Here are a few suggestions for the children this week:

  1. Make up silly words for a song and then make up a tune for the words.

  2. Put on some songs (or have the group sing some song) and take turns pretending to “direct” the music.

  3. Put on some music and have the children perform a circus (like the one John wanted to run off with).

  4. Make some instruments (tambourines, kazoos, drums) out of household items and march in a parade around the house.

  5. Make some flags to wave around symbolizing the patriotism that is enjoyed by all who listen to the music of The Stars and Stripes Forever.

If you have any favorite crafts or activities related to music or art, please let me know so I can add the ideas to other articles. Just write me at Music.CCMag@Eudoramail.com.  Next week I will be following the American theme with my all-time favorite artist, Norman Rockwell. The way he captures life is  a visual and mental treat that takes us back to the joys of childhood days.



School’s Out For Summer

By:   Traci Gardner 

For all work-at-home moms the word summer brings anxiety. Having worked for nine months in a quiet home office without any distractions, the mere thought of having your children home all day for three months can cause stress.

Finding the time to plan activities for those summers days can be challenging for any mother.  Can you count how many times you’ve heard the words, “I’m bored!” today? Staying focused on your business while doing a French braid and attaching wheels to remote control cars can test your patience. Is it really possible to get any work done between May and August? The answer is a resounding yes!

Planning activities to occupy your little darlings takes some serious thought. I have spoke to my work-at-home colleagues and here are some great ideas.

  •       Almost all children want to be just like mommy and daddy. Set aside a small table and chairs in a corner. Arrange items on the table such as: paper, writing utensils, scissors, glue, a stapler, an old phone, and any other office items you can spare. The children will enjoy working along side you while you are able to keep an eye on them.

  •   Have an M&M or Jellybean hunt. Any multi-colored candy will work. Assign a point value to each color, giving the highest value to the color with fewest M&Ms. Send your kids out to find them and whoever gets the most points wins a prize. It’s a good idea to make the prize a shareable one such as, the movies or pizza, in order to keep the peace.

  •       If your children are old enough, let them help. I have a colleague that allows her 7 and 9 year old children to help her create and deliver her gift bags. In exchange for allowance they get a real paycheck. “They get so excited on payday!”, she says.

  •       Have the children get involved in a Read-A-Thon. Contact your local library and check for summer reading programs. If there aren’t any, create your own. Whoever reads the most books wins a prize. Examples might include, a day of no chores, or a movie of their choice. Get creative!

  •       Buy some sidewalk chalk. Have the kids draw you a mural on the sidewalk or driveway. Then have them get into their swim suits to help hose it off.

  •       Turn off the TV and use brain power. Web sites such as http://www.Eduplace.com have a special place for kids filled with games and puzzles. They have writing contests and book reviews written by other children.

  •       “But mom, we’re hungry!” Ever heard this before right in the middle of a phone conference? Plan a snack that lets the kids get involved. A good idea is caramel apples. You can add fun by making faces on the apples!


§         4 large red apples.

§         1 bag of caramels.

§         1 tbs. milk.

§         Sprinkles, candy, chocolate chips, nuts or other toppings.

§         Craft sticks or lollipop sticks.

§         Spoon.

§         Microwave safe bowl.

§         Non-Stick cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with wax paper.


  1. Remove stems from apples.

  2. Put a craft stick or a lollipop stick into each apple.

  3. Unwrap caramels.

  4. Put caramels into bowl with milk.

  5. Microwave on high for 2-4 minutes, stirring every minute. Watch closely. When the caramels are melted, stop.

  6. Hold apples by the stick, and gently dip them into the caramel. Swirl around until completely covered.

  7. Hold apple over a plate or bowl. While caramel is still warm and soft, sprinkle with sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. until covered.

  8. Place apple on cookie sheet, stick up.

  9. Repeat the other three apples.

  10. Place apples in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or until caramel has hardened.

The main thing we need to remember is why we choose to be work-at-home parents. We choose to work at home in order to be there for our families. With this in mind, take a break once in awhile and enjoy your children. They aren’t little forever. The work will still  be their when you get back.



Getting a Grip on Stress

By:   Heather Haapoja


You're sitting in heavy traffic, late for your daughter's soccer game and your two preschoolers are having a shouting match in the backseat.  Your daughter is complaining, "Why are we always late?"   Your heart rate is rising and your muscles are tense.  The car ahead of you has failed to see the light turn green and you are helplessly waiting for them to notice as the minutes tick by.  

Now if you have already been carrying a load of stress around, as most of us do, how is this situation going to affect you?  Will it put you over the edge?  Chances are, you will either get burning mad at the driver ahead and start laying on the horn, or you will blow up at the kids and say something you would never say intentionally. Or you may fight to internalize all of it, letting it build, only to blow your fuse later when the kids fight going to bed.  Trust me, I know this scenario well. 

By working to maintain the lowest stress level possible, you will be better equipped to handle a typical situation like this.

On the surface, taking time out to manage your stress may seem almost selfish.  With all of the racing around that we already do, who has the time for relaxation?  But the truth is that spending some time to deal with stress will be beneficial not only to you, but also to everyone in your path.   

Stress, labeled the "Epidemic of the 80's", has moved right on through the 90's and into the next millennium.  It effects people of all ages and from all walks of life and, in large doses, can be devastating to emotional, mental and physical health. 

In reality, stress is a necessary ingredient in our lives that the human body is well equipped to use and control.  But the fast paced society that we live in, and the unhealthy choices that we make can cause a stress overload that is often too much of a challenge to our systems.

We throw the word "stress" around so casually these days, but do we really understand what it is?  Actually, stress is the result of any change in your life.  It can be good or bad change, physical, financial, emotional, the list goes on.  Going through divorce is an obvious stress, but getting married is a stress as well, they both involve a change.

When you think about the constantly changing world we live in, it's no wonder there is so much talk of stress.

Sadly, many people carry so much stress that is causes them to feel fatigue, sleeplessness, anxiety or depression.  Their joy for living may be lost.  Often they turn to binge eating, alcohol, caffeine or some other such self-destructive behavior to "pick themselves up".  This provides only a temporary relief that, in turn, adds more stress to the mix.

If you see yourself in this description, I highly recommend reading *"How to Survive Unbearable Stress" by Steven L. Burns, MD.   In easy to understand language, Dr. Burns describes how the human brain is affected by stress, sleep deprivation and the use of "pick me ups".  He also includes a quiz to determine your stress level and advice on what to do if you find yourself "overstressed".  I was profoundly affected by the message and discovered some definite changes to make in my own life where stress is concerned.

So what steps can we take to ease the stress in our lives?

First of all, if you feel you are on the verge of becoming over-stressed, avoid adding any more and try to go easy on yourself.  Say "no" when you are asked to volunteer for another community project.  Make yourself go to bed at a reasonable hour each night.  Cut your daily "to do" list down to the barest necessities.  Any improvement in the daily demands on your mind and body will relieve some of your stress.

Examine your lifestyle and list the ways that you may be adding to your stress load.  Do you get enough rest?  Is your diet lacking in nutrition?

Has your usage of caffeine, sugar, nicotine become excessive?  Are you a workaholic?  Pinpoint one area to work on, keeping it uppermost in your mind this week and try to improve in that area.  These things take time and patience to get under control and it can be overwhelming to make too many changes at once.  Take small steps.  Don't let yourself become stressed about relieving your stress!

Over the past two decades, concern about the ill effects of stress has increased awareness of numerous stress management techniques.  Breathing techniques, yoga, aromatherapy, massage, just to name a few.  All have gained in popularity due to the stress epidemic.  Society is constantly seeking out ways to deal with everyday, unavoidable stress.

Over the next several weeks, I will be covering the many stress management techniques that are available.  I look forward to seeing an improvement in my own stress level and perhaps it will make a difference in other lives as well.  I hope you'll join me!


* "How to Survive Unbearable Stress - The Medical Basis of Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Sleep Problems and Drug Use Explained in Fun, Easy to Read Format" by Dr. Steven L. Burns with illustrations by Kimberley Burns.  http://www.teachhealth.com/.




Big Brother is Watching You

By:   Victoria L. Pietz


The government has gathered audit information on the child care industry.  The information they have is passed on to their auditors.  There are four child care areas they have gathered information on.  There are other forms of day care that will not be covered specifically in this article, such as after-school programs and church programs.  However, there will still be good advice they could follow.

I will define the four basic categories.

  1. Babysitters are not under any regulatory control.  They could be grandparents or other relatives, neighbors, teenagers, etc.  They are often paid in cash.  These providers believe that this income is not taxable and is often not reported.

  2. Family Day Care in this case, one or more children are watched in the providers home.  The provider might have to be approved, certified, registered, or licensed under applicable state or local laws. 

  3. Child Care Centers are usually separate facilities (not in someone’s home).  Many times the centers are corporations or partnerships. There may be more than one facility within a corporation or partnership. The centers are usually heavily regulated by the state.  They also are required to report attendance records and other similar information.  They may have large commercial kitchens, playground equipment, swimming pools and a large quantity of toys.

  4. Home Care Givers are generally paid as a household employee.  Children are cared for in their own home by a paid housekeeper, maid, governess or nanny, etc.  This situation of child care is not a business.  It is however, an employer, employee situation.

Through close examinations and audits of the above types of child care providers, the government has found negligence in the following areas.

Income and expenses are often paid in cash and not reported. Record keeping is often inadequate, if kept at all. A net loss is unusual except at the corporate level.  So if you do have a loss, why? If there is a loss, the government has found the following items are often adjusted.

  • Gross receipts.

  • Food reimbursement.

  • Food expense.

  • Business use of home.

  • Unusually large expenses.

  • Supplies and miscellaneous expenses.

  • Personal expenses may be included.

The government has estimates on how much it costs to operate a facility.  If you genuinely have a loss, make sure you have kept the receipts and recorded all income and expenses.  If you are ever audited, you will be organized and be able to substantiate your loss.  Remember an audit is nothing to be scared of if you are prepared.




Kitchenlab Kindermath, Tutorial #5

By:   Noreen Wyper


One straight line,

To make a one.

From top to bottom,

Then you’re done.

Tutorial #5: Number Sense; recognize and write numerals 1-12.

The recognition of numerals may take several weeks and will need constant reinforcement. Start at number one and work through the numerals in order to twelve. The following are tried and true activities to ensure success.

Draw a large numeral 1 on the flap of a cardboard box with a magic marker. Trace the numeral with glue. Sprinkle with salt or rice. Have the child trace the numeral from top to bottom with the first two fingers held together. Always say it out loud. Now, have the child trace that same numeral with his finger on the palm of the opposite hand, on the arm or on the knee. Feeling out the numeral is called "tactile learning."

Place at least three bowls on the table. Have the child find items in the kitchen to make a set of 1 in each bowl.

Place one piece of pasta in a plastic container. How many are in the container? Shake the container. Open it up and let the pasta drop out. How many are there now? Yes, there is still 1 pasta. It did not change. This is called, "conservation of number."

Repeat these activities for all the numerals.

As the child masters the numerals to 3, take the tactile cards and place them on the table at random. Have the child arrange them in order. Read them out loud from left to right.     (pre-reading.) Do this activity from numerals three to twelve.

When the child has mastered the recognition of all the numerals to twelve, play the "counting on" game.

Examples: 2,3,4,-,-; 5,6,-,-.

Now play the games, "What comes before, what comes after and what comes in-between." Place out the cards 6 and 8. Have the child place the missing numeral in-between. Place out card number four. Have the child place the numeral that comes before the four and the numeral that comes after it.

Note: If the child is having some difficulty, make a number strip from 1 - 12. Place it at the top of the child’s work space for referral.

With a fine tipped marker, print the numerals 1-6 and 7-12 inside the cups of an egg carton. Drop a bean into the egg carton. Close the lid. Shake the carton. When the child opens the lid he names the numeral where the bean is resting. It is okay if the child doesn’t recognize it immediately. Not to worry! Recognition takes time. Simply point to cup number 1 and orally count out the cups together until you reach the bean.

Extension: Draw the numerals on pieces of sandpaper for the child to trace and feel.

Next week: Poems to teach the writing of each numeral in tutorial #5.



Home-based Workers Meet the Appliance Guy

By:   Deb Di Sandro

In a two income family, there's no question that one parent must make the supreme sacrifice to stay home and commit to being there in mind, body and spirit for the precious, irreplaceable service repair people.

Since I'm one of the millions of Americans who make their living by working at home (I pay for my own socks), the logical choice in our household, seemed to be me.

Unfortunately, my commitment isn't what it should be. I'm there in body, but I'm having trouble with the mind and spirit part.

My husband's role is to work outside the home and leave the repairs to me. His body may be at work, but his mind and spirit are continually on the phone talking to me about the repairs!

My work day begins with a call from my husband. . .

"Did you call the appliance guy yet?"

"About what?"

"The dishwasher."

"What's wrong with the dishwasher?"

"It doesn't work! Remember?"

"Okay, sure. But I was in the middle of writing this column and . . ."

"Now here's what you tell him. The mechanism on the switch is malfunctioning and there's standing water in the bottom, but I checked the box in the basement for the circuit breaker and the . . . "

I should've taped the conversation. Because here's what I heard, "Blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah," which made it difficult to converse with the appliance guy:

"Hello, we have a problem with our dishwasher," I barked into the phone receiver.

"What's the problem, lady?"

"It doesn't work."

"Can you be more specific?"


"Well, what kind is it?" he asked.

(Big sigh) "Great, now I have to get up and look. I'm working, you know! Here it is. Right here on the front. It's uh. . .a black one."

"Can you be more specific?"


"Okay, well, I'll be out between 6 a.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m. Friday."

"Can you be more specific!?"


Herein lies the problem. Just because home-based workers work at home, doesn't mean we stay there! We make crucial business trips to the copy shop, office supply store and most importantly, because our offices couldn't run without it, a daily stop at the Krispe Krème Donut shop.

While I'm out, the landscapers arrived to install decorative brick around the tree.

My husband must sense it. He calls from work. "What color is the cement brick?"

"The color of cement," I say staring at the slabs.

"Is it like a grayish cement or a sandy cement. It's supposed to be buckskin."

"What color is buckskin?"

"Haven't you ever seen a buck?"

"A dollar?"

"No! I mean male deer!"

"Mail, what, dear? I'm busy with the brick guy right now!"

When hubby gets home, the inquiries continue, "What happened with the repair guy?"

"Uh, what repair guy?" I shout from my home office.

"The dishwasher guy!"

"Let's see. He said the whatchamacalit was broken and he used a thingamajig to fix it."

"That's all you know?"

"I was working! Ask the dog, he watched his every move."

"How about the computer guy?"

"He put in some cable."

Suddenly I hear a snort from the computer room. "What is this cable doing in the vent?" hubby asks.

"It was the shortest route to the computer," I explain.

"But it's sticking out of our vent! This looks terrible."

"Look, we discussed every possible way this cable could run. They wanted my final answer and I was out of life lines!"

"How about the water heater guy? What did he say?"

"I just talked to him on the phone. I told him we have a 70 gallon water tank and the water is cold when we take showers. He asked the age of our kids. When I told him we have a teen-ager and a pre-teen. He just laughed."

"That's all he said."

"Oh and he said we could stick the garden hose in there for a half hour and . . . clean out the sediment in the. . . uh. . . thing and . . ."

"The garden hose?" My husband interrupted. "Stick it where?"

"You really want me to tell you?" I asked him.

He just shook his head and walked away.

In a two-income family, someone's got to make the supreme sacrifice.



Question & Answer Column - Issue #5 Vol. 6.5

By: Heather Haapjoa

Questions anyone??  We have had quite a sampling of childcare questions in the first few issues, but we are in need of yours!  Send your childcare/parenting questions to QandA.CCMagazine@Eudoramail.com  We want to hear from you!


Q:  Other than Sea Bands do you know of any natural remedies for Morning, Noon and Night Sickness while pregnant?  

A: I have had good results with herbal teas, especially red raspberry leaf, chamomile, lemon balm or chamomile/peppermint combination.  Red raspberry leaf is very beneficial throughout pregnancy.  One or two cups of raspberry leaf tea per day is said to help speed up delivery and ease labor pains.

Eating small, frequent meals is also helpful, as is a protein snack (almonds are excellent) at bedtime, to help ease morning sickness on awakening.

Here are several links to sites that offer more information on natural remedies for morning sickness.

"Herbal Medicine - Discomforts of Pregnancy", lists herbal treatments for the many discomforts of pregnancy, including morning sickness:


"Nausea - Relief from Morning Sickness", tips from a Certified Nurse Midwife: http://www.fensende.com/Users/swnymph/refs/naus.html.

"Morning Sickness - Try Ginger", includes a recipe for ginger tea: http://www.uni-link.com/ginger.htm.

"Homeopathic Remedies for Morning Sickness" http://www.mothernature.com/ency/Homeo/Morning_Sickness_hm.asp.

Preggie Pops - (Where were these when I was pregnant?) http://www.preggiepop.com.

That's all we have for this week, the mailbox is empty.  Email us your


Happy reading!

Heather Haapoja

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