How to Choose the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

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When the days get longer and the mercury starts climbing, the thoughts of kids and parents alike starts turning to summer vacation. While some kids will spend the dog days listlessly flipping through television stations or playing video games through the small hours, others will attend summer camp to learn new skills, make new friends and give their harried parents a taste of freedom. Before you make your final decision about your child’s summer camp, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that both of you enjoy a fun-filled, stress-free summer vacation.


What is Your Child Interested In?

For most parents, summer camp evokes mental images of campfires and canoeing, sleeping in cabins and games of Capture the Flag. While there are still plenty of summer camps that provide this very traditional and time-honored environment for their young guests, there are also a large number of specialty camps out there designed to speak specifically to your child’s individual interests. Budding thespians might be happier at a theater camp than one with a more athletic focus, while a little scientist will have a blast at space camp. Make sure that you’re looking for a camp that will cater to the interests your child holds, as it will make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

What Do You and Your Child Want Out of the Summer Camp Experience?

It’s important to know what both you and your child are looking for in his summer camp experience. If you want him to receive intensive coaching in a particular sport, you’ll be happier if you locate one with a strong emphasis in that area. Spiritual families may be more pleased with the decision to send their brood to a religiously-themed summer camp. No one knows what you and your child want to walk away from a summer at camp with better than the two of you, so make sure that you have clear expectations from the outset.

Co-Ed or Gender Exclusive?

There are all-boy camps, all-girl camps, coed camps, brother/sister summer camps and everything in between. It’s important to know what you want from a summer camp in terms of gender exclusivity or a lack thereof, and what your child would be most comfortable with. Pre-adolescent children of either gender may be more at ease when they attend gender exclusive camps, while those that don’t fit comfortably into traditional gender roles may find the whole practice tedious and restrictive. This is one area in which you’ll need to work closely with your child to determine what’s best for everyone involved.

The Financial Implications

Summer camps sponsored by community outreach programs like the YMCA may be less expensive than private camps, which could be a deciding factor for parents on a fixed budget. Six to eight weeks at a private summer camp can easily cost thousands of dollars, a figure that can be staggering for parents that have never before researched summer camps. Before you research a camp too thoroughly and both you and your child have your hearts set on it, make sure that the tuition is within your budget. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are more expenses than meet the eye when it comes to summer camps. In addition to tuition itself, you’ll probably also have to spring for supplies that can be relatively pricey. Know your budget and what falls within its limits before discussing a specific camp with your child.

Keep Special Needs in Mind

Some camps have facilities that will cater to a child with special needs, but aren’t quite built to facilitate them to the highest possible degree. In such situations, kids with special needs can feel as if they’re being singled out and set apart from the crowd to a painful degree, so you may want to consider summer camps that are designed with their very special campers in mind.

Don’t Procrastinate the Search

The scope of your search can be so daunting in the beginning that many parents put off the process of narrowing the field for months, only to find that enrollment is closed for the season by the time they make their decision. Even if you’d rather put the sometimes cumbersome search for the perfect summer camp off for a rainy day, you’re more likely to encounter stumbling blocks along the way if you procrastinate. Start looking for the perfect summer camp early, as many fill up months in advance.

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As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the idea of al fresco dining becomes more and more appealing. When those pleasant daydreams become a reality, nothing foils the pretty picture as quickly as an infestation of insects. These ten tips can help you enjoy a fun-filled day of picnicking and outdoor play without a passel of creepy, crawly, uninvited guests!
  1. Dress to Blend In – Standing out in a crowd is a good thing, most of the time. When you’re dining outdoors and you’re dressed in the bright, summery colors that go hand-in-hand with such a festive occasion, however, you’re just asking for trouble. Remember that many flying feed from brightly-colored flowers, and that your magenta top calls to them like a beacon. Opt for crisp, cool neutrals and opt to blend in, instead.
  2. Try to Stay on Dry Land – The pond, stream or lake that seems like such a picturesque setting for a picnic may photograph well, but it may also be home to scads of bloodsucking mosquitoes and other insects. Move farther inland to avoid those bug-laden breezes during mealtime.
  3. Pack Plenty of Citrus Peels – Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits are refreshing and juicy, but the strong and bitter oils within their rinds are quite the bug repellent. Feed the kids a feast of orange slices, and save all of your citrus peels the day before your picnic. Seal them up in a zipper-topped plastic bag, and pack them at the top of your basket. Before setting out the spread, place the peels around your picnic site. Bugs will avoid the sharp scent.
  4. Float Your Picnic Table – While parking next to a pond for your picnic lunch is an invitation to the mosquitoes, placing pie tins full of water under each leg of your table may save your outdoor meal! Ants can cross water, which means that they won’t be able to crawl from the ground up the legs of your picnic table to troop across your feast.
  5. Decorate to Disgust – Marigolds are bright, summery blooms that make a pretty centerpiece for your picnic blanket or table, but they have strong insect-repelling properties that make them the perfect decorating choice.
  6. Got it Covered? – It seems simple, but it’s important to keep all of your food covered when it’s not actively being eaten. This is especially true of sweet, bug-attracting foods like melon, sugary soda and ripe fruit. Make sure that these items are in tightly-sealed containers that aren’t opened until it’s time to eat, and are promptly disposed of after the meal.
  7. Skip the Scents – Smelling great might attract other humans, but it can also draw the bugs like nobody’s business. Make sure that you’re not spritzed with your signature scent before embarking on your picnic adventure, or you may find yourself the center of every insect’s attention.
  8. Stay in the Clear – Flies and gnats love sugary drinks and juices, but so do stinging insects like bees and yellow jackets. These little buggers have been known to crawl inside a can of juice or soda, only to sting an unwitting picnicker directly on the mouth when they tip the can to their lips. Instead of drinking from cans, which can be coated with dirt and bacteria from the shipping process anyway, opt for transparent vessels that will easily disclose the presence of a stinging insect.
  9. Get Minty Fresh – The mouthwash that keeps your mouth feeling clean and fresh all day can also keep the bugs away! Transfer a bit of your mouthwash to a spray bottle, then use it as an all-natural alternative to DEET-laden chemical repellents for personal use.
  10. Host a Feast for Your Flying Guests – If you can’t beat them, invite them to lunch. At their own table, that is! A few yards from your picnic site, set up a banquet for the bugs by setting out overripe fruit, bowls of sugary water tinted with food coloring and bits of melon. The insects will be so caught up in their own feast that they won’t be bothered with trying to invade yours.

It’s important that your bug-repellent methods are safe for the little ones in your entourage, as curious little ones will put anything into their mouths and older kids distracted by the lure of the outdoors aren’t always known for washing their hands. Before you reach for that big bottle of bug spray, consider a more natural approach to an insect-free lunch.

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Many parents think of discipline as something that is done in the moment, an action that stops a child from misbehaving, or one that doles out the consequence of past misbehavior. Of course that’s part of discipline, but another part, one that can greatly lessen the need for “in the moment” discipline, is teaching tools. These are tools parents and caregivers can use to curb misbehavior before it happens. Family meetings are one of the most effective discipline teaching tools.

Family meetings don’t have to be long or complicated to be successful.

In fact, the best aren’t. Getting your family all together in a room focused on each other rather than the outside world is a challenge. But it can be done and is well worth the effort. Depending upon the age of your children, the size of your family, and the issues you’re tackling, a family meeting can last between 15 and 45 minutes. Most are right around 30 minutes. By making these gatherings a priority and putting them on the calendar in advance, you can set the stage for how your family interacts for the rest of the week and over the long haul. Working with an agenda lets everyone know what to expect and keeps the meeting on track. Once your family gets in the habit of holding regular meetings, it becomes a part of how your family operates.

Family meetings teach children many important things.

Many of the skills children need to regulate their behavior and navigate the challenges they face every day are taught and practiced in the family meeting. They learn to listen to others respectfully, they get to see and be a part of the problem solving process, they experience the value of a cooling off period before tackling an issue, they come to understand that accountability is an important part of moving past mistakes, and they see cooperation between children and adults in action. Family meetings give children a real voice in the family, help them feel respected, valued, and supported, and let them contribute to the family in a significant way. Imagine how all those things will positively impact your child’s behavior outside of the meeting!

There are four components to a Positive Discipline style family meeting.

When you first start having meetings, introduce one component each week until your family understands each part. After that, you can combine all the elements together.

  1.  The agenda is where family members can list problems they’re having that they want to talk about in a family meeting. Mostly likely not all problems can be tackled in the meeting, but putting them on the list shows the family member his concerns are important and heard. The agenda should be posted in a common area like the kitchen or laundry room. Younger children can ask an older sibling or parent to write their items on the list.
  2. Compliments are a way to connect in a meaningful way to each other. Each member offers one (or more!) compliment to other members. This can be a thank you for something said or done, an “atta boy” for an accomplishment, or something he appreciates about that person.
  3. Brainstorming is coming up with as many solutions as you can think of to a problem listed on the agenda. Encourage creativity by adding silly ideas to the list. After the brainstorming cross off any solutions that aren’t practical, respectful, or helpful. From the new list, work together to choose one solution to try out for a week.
  4. Plan a family fun activity that everyone commits to and add it to your family calendar. The fun activity doesn’t have to be one that all members agree on. Remember, you’re teaching respect for the ideas and wishes of others and cooperation. The important thing is to spend time together as a family having fun. One week you might go bowling, your older child’s favorite activity. The next week you might watch the football game together, Dad’s pick. And the next week you might go to the community pool for the afternoon, something everyone wants to do.

There’s no such thing as a perfect family meeting.


Your family meetings will go faster and more smoothly once everyone learns the basic skills required. However all skills need practice and each meeting will serve as a practice session. The good news is there is no right or wrong way to hold a family meeting. As long as members are coming together, learning, and connecting, you’re on the right track.

Once adults and children experience family meetings in their home, they often use the same format in other relationships and situations. Adults can use the format at work with co-workers, older children can use them with their friends and classmates, and nannies can use them with their charges. Wherever there are two or more people in a relationship with each other, a family meeting can help them live, work, and play happier together.

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Young children often love to color, but since they are still developing their hand-eye coordination they sometimes end up pressing down too hard on their crayons, accidentally breaking them. Most parents hate to throw the broken pieces away, and instead end up tossing them into a bucket so the kids can still use them. However, after a while it may seem like your collection of broken crayons is a little bit too big. When that’s the case, check out these crafts you can do with them.

 Marbled crayon shapes

Fall leaves or flowers

Dressed up pillar candles

Sandy pics

Melted crayon artwork

The next time your child breaks a crayon, don’t sweat it. Just toss it in the bucket until you have enough crayons to make a crayon craft.

Guest Post Written By: NANNY NEWS NETWORK

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center estimates that roughly 2,000 children are reported missing every day. Luckily, the vast majority of missing children are found and their cases are resolved within hours; of those who aren’t immediately found, up to 49% are later found to have been abducted by a non-custodial parent or relative. 27% are kidnapped by an acquaintance, leaving only 24% at the hands of complete strangers. While the term “Stranger Danger” has a catchy ring to it, it’s actually a bit misleading because less than ¼ of all abducted children are taken by a stranger. This makes it extremely important to teach children about more than just stranger avoidance.

Most People Are Strangers

Avoid Absolutes

“Good” Strangers

 No Gifts, Treats or Surprises

 Talk About “Tricky” People

 The Rules Apply to Big Kids, Too

 Encourage Kids to Ask Questions

 Be Honest

 Keep the Conversation Age-Appropriate

 Maintain an Ongoing Dialogue

Striking a balance between instructing kids on responsible behavior and outright fear-mongering is a challenge, but it’s one that you must face as a parent. While it’s of vital importance to educate your children regarding the best way to avoid abduction or abuse, it’s also important not to create anxiety and overwhelming fear of all strangers in his mind.

Guest Post Written By: Summer Nanny

Whether you’re traveling for pleasure or for personal reasons, making the decision to visit another country with your children in tow is not one that should be taken lightly. Bureaucratic measures, long flights, and traversing the complex world of a foreign culture can be stressful for parents that aren’t properly prepared. However, taking the right preparatory measures well in advance can ensure that the trip goes smoothly and is an enjoyable, memorable experience for the entire family.

Obtain Passports and Alternate Identification

Notarize Permission to Travel Letters

Explain Airport Security Measures

Pack Flight Diversions

Talk About the Culture of Your Destination

Prepare for Jet Lag

Save Big Events for the End of the Trip

Depending on where you’re planning to travel, you and your children may require additional vaccinations before your departure. Checking with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention well in advance to determine which, if any, vaccines and immunizations are required for travel to your chosen destination will ensure that you have plenty of time to obtain those immunizations

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Balloons are airy globes of wonder that every kid loves to have and to play with, and can be used in so many ways. You can use balloons to decorate a room or yard, play a game, or even function as props to teach science. By taking something as inexpensive as a balloon you can have hours of fun with the kids.

Birthday Surprise


Science experiment

Balloon Ping Pong

Water Balloon Toss

Slippery fish

Sensory balloons

Balloon bean bag toss

Most kids enjoy playing with balloons, and by using balloons in different ways you may spark their imaginations to create even more entertaining and exciting activities to do with them. Since balloons, especially deflated or popped ones, can be a choking hazard, balloon play always requires close adult supervision.

Whether your child has a medical condition like diabetes that requires careful monitoring, or is super intense and requires non-stop interaction, choosing the right childcare provider for your high needs child is essential to ensuring his happy and healthy development.

For parents of high needs children, daycare is usually out of the question. The idea of having to force their child to adapt to the schedule, routine and environment of center based care is a less than desirable one for many parents. Choosing a care provider whom parents can handpick to provide customized and individualized care in the family’s private home is almost always the best childcare option for high needs children.

But before you embark on your nanny search, it’s important to consider your child’s specific care needs and the type of provider you think would work best with your family. As you consider the qualifications, experience and personality type of your ideal nanny candidate, ask yourse

Do I require the nanny to have previous experience caring for a high needs child?

Does the nanny have to have a certain level of education or specialized training?

 How many years of childcare experience must the nanny have?

 What special skills must the nanny have?

 What personality type does my child tend to gravitate towards?

 Can I clearly articulate the needs of my child?

 Will the nanny be involved with my child’s medical care plan?

Are there non childcare duties that would be required of my nanny?

 What would the nanny have to be cautious of around our child?

 What is my ideal nanny candidate’s profile?

There’s a nanny for every family and a family for every nanny. Finding the right match in any nanny situation, especially one involving a high needs child, is crucial to having a successful long-term placement.

Written by: Find a Nanny

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Sometimes it’s hard to know what to look for when you’re hiring a nanny. There are so many things that are important, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process. Here are ten characteristics that quality caregivers share. Using this list as a guide might make the process a little less daunting.

  1. Love of children. Of course the top characteristic of a nanny is her genuine love of kids. Education, experience and special skills matter but none of those will make a person who doesn’t truly love working with children a quality caregiver. Enjoying children and feeling honored to be a caregiver to them is the foundation that everything else is built on.
  2. Enthusiastic. Nannies work long days and often have a lot of responsibilities. For some, that can quickly squelch their excitement about the job. Others take it all in stride and let their natural enthusiasm for working with children lead them through the day. A nanny that can stay excited about coming to work day after day is one who your child will enjoy spending time with.
  3. Fun. Childhood is all about fun. Look for a nanny that truly enjoys what she does and will plan fun, well rounded days for your child. Being silly, finding the humor in everyday situations, and having a upbeat outlook on life are all key elements to look for in your next caregiver.
  4. Nurturing. The idea of nurturing a child is at the heart of a nanny’s role. Being able to connect on a deep level, build a safe, loving relationship and offer a stable environment are all important elements of nurturing your child. A nanny that is sensitive to your child’s individual needs, builds an engaging day around his interests, and tailors her caregiving style to mesh with his personality and temperament is a great find. One that is committed to staying in a job long term to provide that all important continuity of care is even better.
  5. Common sense. Your nanny will make endless decisions about your child’s health, safety and well-being throughout the day. You want a nanny who can accurately assess an emergency situation and decide the safest course of action. And one that can make good choices about simple things like what to make for lunch, how to handle a surprise mess and who to call when the sink overflows.
  6. Punctual. You rely on your nanny to arrive on time in the morning. Getting out the door when you’re supposed to helps you make the early morning commitments that are critical to your job. Her punctuality is also important throughout the day as she does school drop off and pick up, attends classes with your child and manages her time to ensure she completes all the needed household tasks. Being punctual and having good time management skills will keep everything and everyone on the right track.
  7. Trustworthy. Parents have to place an enormous amount of trust in their nanny. Of course the biggest show of trust is allowing her to care for their children. But they also trust her with their home, car, and lots of sensitive information about their family. A nanny’s trustworthy is an important part of the hiring decision. Knowing your caregiver is going to love and care for your child at all times and make good decisions based on his health and well-being is a must. Knowing she’s going to respect your home and property, protect your privacy and keep what she sees and hears on the job confidential is also important.
  8. Flexible. This trait can make or break a nanny’s ability to work successfully in your job. Nanny care doesn’t come with a standard 9 to 5 schedule or a job description that never changes. Built-in flexibility is often one of the main reasons parents choose nanny care over other types of care. When interviewing candidates, talk about what kind of flexibility they offer and what their comfort level is in regard to scheduling, daily responsibilities and the household environment. Nannies that can easily adjust and adapt to change tend to be more successful in nanny positions.
  9. Communicative. The success of the nanny / family relationship depends on the ability of the parents and the nanny to clearly communicate with each other. Search for a nanny that is comfortable asking questions when she’s unsure of your expectations or directions, that regularly shares important information about your child with you, and that honestly addresses any issues within the employment relationship.
  10. Reliable. One of the drawbacks of nanny care is that you’re solely relying on one person for so many important things. Not only is your nanny your primary childcare provider, she’s also your household support person. So if you can’t count on her to show up every day on time and ready to work, you have a serious problem on your hands. References are a great source of information on a candidate’s reliability.

Deciding if a nanny has what it takes to work as your nanny is an important decision. Taking the time to study her resume and get to know her as a person will help you fit all the pieces together so you can make an informed decision.

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Congratulations, you’ve hired a new nanny! Beginning to work with a new nanny is an exciting time, and welcoming her into your home, especially if she’s a live-in nanny, is an important step in developing a good nanny / family relationship. Here are some simple ways to make your new live-in nanny comfortable in her new home and job.

  1. Let her make simple decorating choices for her living space. Allowing your nanny to paint the walls a fresh color, add new curtains, or rearrange the furniture gives her the opportunity to personalize the room. Being comfortable in her own space is essential and will help her feel like she lives there rather than feel like she’s simply a long-term guest.
  2. Give her a gift certificate to a home store. Everyone has different tastes and the comforter that you love could be something that doesn’t quite suit your nanny’s style. A gift certificate lets her pick out something she’s going to love coming home to every night. A new sheet set, a funky lamp or a foot friendly rug can make a big difference. Doing so also shows that you recognize this is new for her and that you want her to feel right at home.
  3. Order a visitor packet from the local tourist department. There’s a good chance your new live-in is also new to the area. Tapping into the resources your city makes available to visitors is a free and easy way to introduce her to all that your state, city and neighborhood have to offer. If your city has a user-friendly public transportation system, have maps and schedules for the local lines mailed to you and add them to the visitors package.
  4. Introduce her to other local nannies. It can be hard to make new friends as a nanny in a new area. It’s an isolating job and your nanny doesn’t have the advantage of meeting co-workers on her first day. Ask other nannies you know if they’d be willing to give your new nanny a call and maybe even invite her out to dinner during her first week there. They may not become best friends but it will help your nanny start to build a new social circle.
  5. Give her an area coupon book. These coupon books usually offer 2 for 1 or 50% off deals to local restaurants, movie theaters, museums, fairs, stores and lots of other attractions. They often list both popular and out of the way venues so your nanny will discover a wide variety of things to do and see. Having the coupons will make getting out and about more affordable and give her a great reason to ask new friends to join her.
  6. Have a welcome family dinner. Even if your nanny won’t be ordinarily eating with your family, invite her to share in a family meal so you can get to know each other personally a little better before jumping into your employment relationship. Living together means your lives will intersect in unique ways so developing a connection will help everyone feel more comfortable.
  7. Give her a tour of the places she’ll need to know for the job. There’s a good chance your new nanny isn’t familiar with your area. It’ll be helpful to her if you take a morning or afternoon to give her a tour of your child’s favorite playgrounds, the YMCA where he takes swimming lessons, the school, the grocery store and other places she’ll likely need to find in her first days. Of course she won’t remember the addresses or probably even how to get there right away, but being even a little familiar with things will make it all seem a little less overwhelming.
  8. Small gifts mean a lot. Placing a vase of fresh flowers on her nightstand or helping your child make a welcome card for her will show her that you’re excited she’s there. It’s a little scary moving into a family’s home, simply because a nanny never really knows what to expect. Taking the time to offer a special welcome gift can ease a lot of fears.
  9. Remind her that she’s welcome to use the house as her own. The beginning days of living with a family can be uncomfortable. She’s your employee, yet she’s also living in your home. Offering a simple invitation to add what she wants to the grocery list or watch TV in the family room can make her feel more comfortable and help her settle into her new home.

Bringing a new nanny into your home is an exciting time. By taking the time to do a few special things, you can let her know how glad you are that she’s there.

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