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What to Know About Facebook’s Instagram for Kids

instagram for kids
Parents should know what social media their kids use. (Getty Images)

By Analiese Dodd

Facebook recently announced that it will be expanding its popular video and photo-sharing app Instagram by launching an Instagram platform for kids under the age of 13. 

This new version of the app will encourage kids to create their own safe experience where they can share posts with their friends. There are some concerns parents should be aware of before signing their kids up for this new experience.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

As of now, Instagram doesn’t allow users under the age of 13 in order to protect kids’ privacy. This new Instagram for kids (younger than 13 years old) will allow kids to communicate with one another while limiting their access. The program is led by Facebook Vice President Pavni Diwanji, who has overseen many children-focused projects for Google including YouTube Kids. The exact layout of the kids’ app hasn’t been specified as the program is still in early development.

Instagram has said it needs to do more to protect its younger users from some of the dangers that come with social media. In particular, it is looking into ways to prevent the bullying, predation, and abuse that sometimes finds kids on its app. This new version of Instagram will severely limit access to these kinds of environments, and will give parents control or transparency over what’s happening on their child’s account.

WHY THE CONCERN?

While this new version of the app may invite kids to engage with one another, parents should still be wary of the new experience. Despite Instagram’s assurance that the app will be secure, there are still risks with getting young kids involved with this kind of social media. Sometimes when kids get involved with apps like YouTube Kids and other kid versions of apps they transition quickly to the adult versions of the app.

Buzzfeednews.com’s article “Facebook is Building an Instagram for Kids Under the Age of 13” points out several concerns that arose when Facebook started a similar kids version of Facebook Messenger called Messenger Kids. There were several problems with the program that allowed kids to enter chats with unauthorized users. The problems were limited to a select number of users, but it was still a danger to young kids who were using the app.

This new Instagram for kids app has not been fully developed or tested, but it might be best to keep as updated as possible while more information comes in. This new Instagram can be a great thing for kids in moderation, but it is easy for them to get consumed by it. Each family should make its own choice when it comes to downloading the app and deciding the parental controls that are appropriate for each individual child.

This article first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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13 Educational Apps for Children in Science, Math, Reading, And More

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By 

Especially nowadays, it may be important to supplement learning for your children. One easy way to do this is through exciting educational apps for kids.

For the generation growing up with smartphones, it’s a great way to use their time on such devices wisely. They can still engage in entertaining games but with a learning twist!

The programs on this list are available on any platform and most have their own website so that kids can use these apps on the computer as well.

Focused on just coding? Check out these 15 Fun and Free Online Coding Classes for Kids!

Chess for Kids

Cost: Free

Straight and to the point, Chesskid is an app that teaches chess to kids! Not only does it allow them to play, but it actively teaches them the rules and even, for the advanced, strategies on how to play. And there’s even a website for them, so children don’t always have to use the app.

Though it is free, they do offer a gold program for $10/month or $49/year which gives unlimited and unrestricted access for learning.

ABCmouse.com

Cost: $9.95/month but the first month is free

ABCmouse.com, which is both the name of the app and the url for their website, is a top-ranked and top-marketed educational site for kids. The recommended age range is 2-8.

It’s great for the tyke just learning how to develop and the more advanced learner who wants to sharpen their skills in language and memory. You can purchase a membership and cancel anytime.

Hungry Caterpillar Play School

Cost: $7.99/month or $59.99/year

Taking its origin from a fantastic children’s book, this preschool aimed learning app is the #1 learning app in over 25 countries. Developers are constantly adding to the app so kids continually have more content for learning with the best teaching techniques.

Categories specialize in: Shapes and Colors, Letters, Numbers, Art, and Reading. Watch as your child learns these disciplines, wraps themselves up in a cocoon, and turns into a beautiful butterfly.

Khan Academy Kids

Cost: Free

Available as both an app and website, Khan Academy provides in-depth resources for adults and kids alike in all areas of learning. Their Kid program helps develop kids academic ability and their creativity.

Five charming animal characters lead the learning session, adding a sense of whimsy and fun to a child’s learning experience. Easily one of the most thorough educational apps for kids on this list.

Priding themselves on being 100% free, they promise no ads or fees.

BrainPOP Jr.

Cost: Free

A mainstay in the world of education, BrainPOP Jr. uses animated videos and cute characters to teach science, math, and all the core subjects.

Sign up is free and most of their materials are open for anybody if you’re just trying to learn and not start a whole classroom program. They offer an accessible and diverse curriculum in this field of educational apps for kids.

Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess

Cost: $7.99

This is an app for parents who want their kids to learn chess through subtle means. It disguises itself as a game to help teach the rules of chess under a fun guise.

Those extra ingredients of enjoyment and subterfuge come at a price of nearly $8.

PBS Kids

Cost: Free

PBS is certainly a recognizable name that parents have trusted for over 50 years. And they supply multiple apps that specialize in different activities and ages. Visit their app site for more information, but you surely cannot go wrong with them.

Busy Shapes

Cost: $2.99

Specializing in the toddler age, Busy Shapes helps strengthen 2-5 year olds visual and association skills.

It comes from the Montessori Preschool, a renowned online establishment that offers great bundles of educational apps for kids dedicated to helping young ones learn and grow. Each of them is worth considering, but Busy Shapes is some of their best received work and deserves a special shoutout.

Duolingo Kids

Cost: Free

Easily the most universal of the apps on this list. Duolingo has become a household name in recent years with its great ability to teach people foreign languages. But they have a Duolingo Kids with a slightly cuter mascot.

It occupies the niche of teaching language, something that isn’t normally dedicated to kids who don’t grow up with it in their household. An incredibly important resource, it’s incredibly worth downloading.

Moose Math

Cost: Free

Yet another niche app, Moose Math has five different ways it approaches teaching young children math. From the basics of numbers and counting to geometry, Moose Math is a great program to help the kiddos grow their math skills. It’s a terrific free program that will help your child progress.

Epic!

Cost: $4.99/month but there is a free version

Epic! is a digital library that assists 91% of elementary schools in the US. Reading, and especially reading with your little one, is crucial to child development. This is the most comprehensive app on the market for that purpose.

It’s quicker than a library and more convenient and very much worth downloading.

Prodigy

Cost: Free for students and schools, otherwise $8.95/month or $59.88/year

Prodigy is a valuable math app for children that engages students while ensuring their growth. What more is there to ask for from an educational app for kids?

Prodigy does everything right, so it’s worth considering purchasing a subscription.

Hopscotch

Cost: Free

This one is geared for the older kids in the audience, closer to ages 9-16. Hopscotch is an app that teaches coding and adapts to the user’s skill level. That way, you child is guaranteed to learn and grow no matter their starting skill level.

And that’s the list of top educational apps for kids! Each of them you can’t go wrong with, but some are geared more towards specific age groups. Whatever you decide, I hope your child learns from them and enjoys them immensely.

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Nutritional Product Aims to Make Introducing Food Allergens to Kids Easy

food allergies
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By Katarina Avendaño & Donna Duarte-Ladd

SpoonfulONE on Food Allergies in Kids and Their Quest to Help

Food allergies in kids are one of those things parents dread, and according to the CDC, “Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 8% of children in the United States.” Now with more scientific research, we want to educate ourselves in food allergens and find ways that we can help our kids.

According to the CDC, “A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods. The body’s immune response can be severe and life threatening, such as anaphylaxis. Although the immune system normally protects people from germs, in people with food allergies, the immune system mistakenly responds to food as if it were harmful.”

Yet science is amazing, and now there is SpoonfulOne. Co-founder and inventor Dr. Kari Nadeau recently published a groundbreaking book: The End of Food Allergy. The book shares on preventing, diagnosing, and reversing food allergies from research by a team of trained experts.

We recently were invited to learn about SpoonfulOne. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAPpediatrician, and Chief Medical Officer of SpoonfulONE shares, “SpoonfulONE is a revolutionary, science-backed line of nutritional products that makes food allergen introduction & maintenance easy.”

Keeping all of this in mind, we touched base with Dr. Swanson on how SpoonfulOne works in decreasing food allergies.

Psst…These Parents of a Child with Autism are ASD Advocates and Authors of The Amazingly Sensational Kids Books Series

What is SpoonfulONE?

SpoonfulONE is a revolutionary, science-backed line of nutritional products that makes food allergen introduction and maintenance easy. Each serving of pediatrician-recommended SpoonfulONE includes the food groups commonly associated with over 90% of food allergies.

How does it work?

SpoonfulONE is science-based nutrition that works in the tummy to help introduce common food allergens early during the immune system’s development. We precisely portioned the amount of proteins (30mg) in SpoonfulONE so that each serving is large enough to safely increase the production of IgG4 (good, protective antibodies). When eating SpoonfulONE, 16 foods are introduced to a child’s immune system. The immune cells in the stomach begin to recognize the foods. When eaten on an ongoing basis, SpoonfulONE teaches the immune system that the 16 foods are just foods, not allergens. Unlike other products on the market that only cover peanut, milk, or eggs, SpoonfulONE covers the food groups associated with over 90% of food allergies.

When is it too late for allergen introduction?

Ideally, we want families introducing common allergens around 4-6 months and continuing routine feeding through early toddlerhood. It’s never too late to start, however the true risk is in delayed introduction.

Can you purchase SpoonfulONE products with EBT? Are there any programs for families to make this more accessible?

SpoonfulONE recently launched SpoonfulONE for Good. We believe all families should have access to diet diversity and common allergens. If you are a parent with SNAP, WIC, or EBT benefits, or have experienced loss of employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please apply for a free, one-year subscription of SpoonfulONE products.

What is the science behind food allergies?

Multiple studies show parents can decrease food allergy risk by feeding their babies common food allergens early and repeatedly. SpoonfulONE is powered not only by global landmark research like the LEAP and EAT studies, but also our own proprietary research.

Why have food allergies more than doubled in the last generation?

Likely, in part, due to our modern world environment is more sterile than ever with the increased use of antibiotics, hand sanitizers, etc. We know that things like exposure to pets like dogs, and playing in dirt are great for the immune system and help downregulate the risk of food allergies. In addition, outdated advice pediatricians gave to delay the start of common allergens led to an increase in allergies as babies delayed introduction and inclusion of common allergens in their diets.

Why are pediatric recommendations changing from what was recommended in the past as to when you should be introducing certain foods into your child’s diet?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months of age. In a reversal from decades of advice from pediatricians to avoid the foods associated with food allergies, research now shows early and regular dietary exposure to a food — especially foods often associated with allergies, like peanuts — helps reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to that food. Waiting too long to introduce and regularly feed these foods, research shows, increases the allergy risk.

What are top allergen foods that you should be introducing into your child’s diet and when? 

Peanuts, milk, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fish, grains, soy, and sesame. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months of age. Additionally, new USDA guidelines also recommend introducing common allergens around 4-6 months of age.

Why is early introduction important?

We know the immune system is primed in early infancy and toddlerhood. Delaying the introduction of common allergens can increase risk so helping parents get these foods in during critical, early periods of immune development is key.

What can you tell parents who are concerned about the risk of an allergic reaction when they introduce these foods into their baby’s diet so early on?

Most parents go straight to anaphylaxis when they hear “allergic reaction.” However, the two most common signs of an allergic reaction are hives and vomiting. You do not need to drive to your pediatrician’s office parking lot when offering new common allergens to your child. We need to move away from medicalizing feeding and instilling fear with first feedings.

Once you introduce these foods, how important is it to continue incorporating these foods into their diet as they grow and how?

Intermittent or “one bite” exposure to foods may not be enough for allergen introduction. Like any great habit (think toothbrushing), research shows the immune system works best when it’s exposed to a wide variety of foods regularly throughout a child’s early years. Scientists believe regular, consistent exposure to common allergens in the diet throughout early childhood is key to staying healthy.s

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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15 Fun and Free Online Coding Classes for Kids

coding classes for kids
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By Analiese Dodd

These 15 free coding classes for kids are available now to help your kids learn skills that are becoming more and more essential in our current times. Knowing even just basic computer programming is more important than ever with lots of businesses moving to online platforms. Your kids can start from a young age to develop these skills, and these options will allow them to do it in a fun and interesting way.

If you’re looking for other online coding classes, check out Scoop: Code With Penguin Coding School This School Year

Blocky Games

Blocky Games has several inviting activities that kids can use to learn about basic coding functions. Each game focuses on one element of coding, and shows kids exactly how changes to the basic code can make a huge difference in the results. It shows kids the basics of coding, and gives them introductions to important concepts they can use later in more advanced coding programs.

Code.org

Code.org provides an assortment of enrichment activities your kids can enjoy while also developing their coding skills. Their “hour of code” programs allow kids to spend time focusing on projects that relate directly to their interests. Whether they want to explore the world of Star Wars, Disney, or Minecraft, they’ll find an exercise that relates to it here.

Code Combat

Code Combat is an interactive experience in which kids can venture through a magical world with coding as their weapon of choice. This adventure game combines coding with magic warriors to keep kids invested from the first level. As they journey on, the coding gets more and more complex increasing their personal skill level as well as their character’s. If your kids already love video games, this one will allow them to have all the excitement of playing while also teaching them along the way.

Codemoji

Codemoji has created a unique coding experience with their playground in which basic coding commands are shown as fun emojis. Instead of remembering headings as <h1>, kids can remember that the ice cream cone creates their headings. Codemoji also offers more traditional coding options you can introduce after the emojis have lost their intrigue. The entire website will keep kids entertained no matter their coding level.

Code Monkey

Code Monkey is a fun animated website where kids can learn basic coding skills and techniques. It provides coding games for every age range and skill level to keep kids busy throughout their childhood. The animation and fun levels will keep kids glued to the screen, and learning code without ever realizing it. There are free versions of each game, but also paid longer versions if your kids get invested.

Crunchzilla Code Monster

The Code Monster provides an excellent source for those just starting out in coding. Crunchzilla provides two boxes; on the left they can see the code, and on the right they’ll see what their code is actually doing to the image. The fun monster takes kids step by step through basic codes to see how it all works. This website is a great way for kids to see exactly how their actions change their programs and will give them basic knowledge they can use in more advanced coding later.

freeCodeCamp

This website provides over 6,000 tutorials for kids to use to develop essential coding skills. These courses cover a variety of topics with great videos and instructions. Whatever your kid’s goal is related to computer programming, they’ll be able to find workshops here to develop the skills necessary to achieve those end goals.

Glitch

Glitch is perfect for any kid who is looking for traditional coding practice. It walks kids through how to build websites and apps from start to finish. Glitch provides basic instructions, but leaves everything else up to your kids. Once kids have even a small grasp of coding, this is the perfect place to uses those skills in a creative and unique way.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is known for its great math courses, but now they’ve entered into the world of computer programming too. They offer a variety of different classes within the realm of coding, so kids can learn a myriad of skills. Khan Academy is similar to a traditional classroom with videos followed by fun assignments. If your child learns best in this setting, these classes are perfect for them.

LightBot

LightBot is an entertaining game in which your child must light up certain tiles to advance. The entire adventure requires kids to think through programming logic in order to solve each problem. It teaches kids the basics of sequencing and procedures through a game they can get invested in. They can investigate the puzzles level by level, developing more advanced skills each time they level up.

mBlock

mBlock provides access to coding editors for python and block-based coding. Kids can also get involved with other coding projects working on things like facial recognition and a music lighting show. If your kids want to experience all different types of programming, they’ll be able to find lots of different options for some more advanced coding practice.

Scratch

Students at MIT created Scratch to encourage the next generation of kids to get involved in coding for free. The website allows kids to create their own programs that can do anything they set their minds to. Their tutorials will take kids through every step in creating their own interactive programs. With hundreds of possibilities, your kids will be able to share their creativity through coding in a way they never have before. They also have Scratch Jr. aimed at an even younger group of future coders.

Stencyl

Stencyl provides kids with an opportunity to create their own game using some basic coding skills. The app doesn’t go into full detail about all the coding that goes into creating the games, but it gives kids an introduction into the larger world of game design. If your kids are obsessed with video games and apps, this will allow them to develop their own adventure while learning along the way.

Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is a fun and interactive app where kids can create their own world through coding. Similar to a puzzle, kids will solve problems through coding, developing their skills in a quick and fun way. It requires no prior coding knowledge and is an entertaining gateway to more advanced coding later. Do keep in mind that it does require either a Mac computer or iPad in order to run.

Tynker

Tynker has tons of different coding games you kids can create for free. No matter their interests, your kids will find a program where they’ll be creating something for themselves. There is also an option to create your own project that can be shared with others in the community. You can play up to 20 coding games for free, and pay for more if your kids still have interest.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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7 Tips for Researching Summer Camps Amid the Pandemic

summer camps
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By Jess Michaels

Researching summer camps is an important step to finding the right camp for your child. And this summer, after a year of remote learning and limited socializing and activities, your child is going to need a summer at camp more than ever before. 

Even in the midst of a pandemic, there are ways to go about narrowing down your choices and choosing the best camp for your child and family. Here are some ways to get your camp search started.

VIDEO CALLS WITH THE DIRECTOR

One of the best ways to learn about a camp is by speaking with the camp director. While many overnight camp directors have done home visits in the past so you can get to know the director (and for them to get to know you and your child), they have moved these meetings to Zoom! Facetime, Google Meets and Zoom have made it even easier to get to know a camp director and to inquire about the camp’s philosophy, mission, activities and more.

COURTYARD AND BACKYARD HOME VISITS

If you rather do a home visit, camp directors are happy to do outside home visits when the weather warms up. Backyard and courtyard visits worked very well this fall and they will start up again as the weather improves.

DAY CAMP TOURS

Since day camps are local, they offer camp tours all year long, even in the winter. If there is a day camp you are interested in, give the director a call to schedule a tour. Touring allows you to see the camp and facilities, even if it will all look different in the summer! Tours also allow you to ask questions while in the camp environment which often sparks additional questions.

SPRING OPEN HOUSES AND TOURS

When the weather warms up, many day and overnight camps will host some kind of socially distanced open house dates and camp tours where you can see the camp before deciding on a camp.

VIRTUAL CAMP FAIRS

Camp fairs typically allow families to meet with dozens of camps all in one day! Since in-person events are challenging during COVID-19, camp fairs have been re-imagined this year. New York Family will be offering a virtual camp fair that will be using an online platform with an algorithm that will create one-on-one video calls between camp directors and qualified families, based on the criteria both camps and families submit. There will be four virtual camp fairs, taking place on April 11.

CAMP WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Already have a few camps in mind to check out? Camp websites and social media pages are filled with information from activities offered to videos. Looking at a camp’s website is a good starting point for your search but it’s always important to speak with the camp director before registering to ensure the camp is the right fit for your child.

CALL THE AMERICAN CAMP ASSOCIATION, NY & NJ

Did you know that the American Camp Association, NY and NJ offers parents free, one-on-one advice for parents looking for a day or overnight camp? Families can call Renee Flax at 212-391-5208 to speak with Renee about their child and what they are looking for in a camp.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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5 Steps to Spring Clean Your Pantry and Get Organized

spring clean
Getty Images

By Laura Kinsella

How to Spring Clean Your Pantry

It’s hard to believe we’ve been pandemic living for an entire year now! There’s no doubt our kitchens have been working around the clock for our families, and it’s time to give them the TLC they deserve.

Psst…For more cleaning tips, check out Back-to-School Organization Secrets!

Whether you’re swimming in pandemic related backstock items, or just need to hit the ole reset button to clear the clutter, I’m breaking down how to clear out and spring clean your pantry in 5 easy steps:

So let’s break it down, shall we?

What you’ll need before you begin:

• A vacuum/hand vac

• Hot soapy water or preferred cleaning solution

• Cleaning Cloths or sponge

• Sharpie & Post-its

• Measuring Tape

• Label Maker or Paint Pen

clean and organized pantry
Francesca Russell Photography

1. Clear Everything Out. Yes, Everything.

With spring in full swing, now’s the time to dive in, and give your kitchen the deep spring clean it needs. Whether your pantry is a single cabinet or a full sized closet, here’s how to begin:

• Pull items out one by one and place them on your counters, kitchen table, or if you’re really low on space, the floor!

Don’t worry about what you’re pulling out or where it needs to go (what is that sticky stuff on that can of beans anyway?), just focus on emptying every nook and cranny of your dedicated pantry. We don’t want to get too caught up in our feelings towards an item, so it may be best to set a 15-20 minute timer or enlist your kids to get the emptying done!

2. Wipe it Down

• Grab your vacuum or hand vac to do some of the initial work for you. Crumbs, dust, and all kinds of debris can sit loosely on the shelves, so give it a once over first.

• Depending on the type of cabinets you have, will depend on the best method to clean them. Hot, soapy water with a sponge or cleaning cloth is always a good option, but you can also utilize an all-purpose cleaner, white vinegar, or even baking soda (especially for those sticky spots!) Give your cabinets a thorough clean, and be sure to wipe them completely dry once you’re done.

Pro Tip: we all know how precious Clorox wipes have been, and if you’ve managed to grab a few, be sure to save those for your counters, doorknobs or high traffic zones. Although they work on all hard, non-porous surfaces, they can discolor or eat away at certain finishes or sealants. This is why it’s always best to stick with good old fashioned hot, soapy water!

3. Edit & Take Inventory

It’s true that we don’t really know how much or what we have until it’s all staring us in the face. This is where you’ll need to roll up your sleeves a bit to assess what you have.

• Toss anything expired, stale, or near empty (also known in my house as the Triscuit box with exactly 1 1/2 crackers left – thanks family!)

• Separate unused, non-expired, questionable items (if you have to think about whether you would consume it, or how you would begin to cook with it, it’s a go.) We want to make sure we are setting aside anything worthy of being donated. If there ever was a time to phone a neighbor to see if they may need something you would never use, now is it!

• Take inventory of your remaining items and start to group them into broad categories of what they are and how you use them. This can be as simple as breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, or you can further categorize how you see fit: canned goods, pasta, grains, baking, kids snacks, etc. The last thing we want to do is overly categorize and complicate our systems, so aim for 10 categories or less. If you’re swimming in Costco sized quantities (15 boxes of mac & cheese), or pandemic related items (extra water or canned food), place those items in a separate category labeled “bulk” or “backstock” so that multiples aren’t cluttering those everyday zones.

Pro Tip: Place items that overlap categories in one single category that makes the most sense to you. For example, if you consider applesauce a snack and a baking staple, but more often utilize when you bake, place ALL of your applesauce in the baking category. We don’t want it in both because we will inevitably forget it’s stored in multiple spots, and we’ll mistakenly keep replacing it.

4. Put it All Back

Once you’ve determined what’s remaining, give everything a good wipe down, and assign “homes,” or a designated spot for each category to live. Frequently used items should go in those prime real estate areas so they are within easy reach for you. Try space planning by writing down the category names on Post-its, and placing them on your shelves or drawers to test the flow before anything gets put away.

Don’t forget about items your kids need to access themselves (think healthier grab ’n go items lower down), as well as items you don’t wish for them to have easy access to (like that secret stash candy jar above the fridge because moms should be allowed to snack in peace too!)

5. Contain & Label

This is everyone’s favorite part (your hard work is about to pay off big time!), but it’s important to resist the urge to excitedly purchase organizational products before measuring.

While categories help you determine how much containment you need, taking careful measurements is the only way to ensure what will actually fit (and maximize) your space. You may have a few organizational items on hand already, or you may wish to completely streamline and start anew. No matter how you choose to contain, don’t skip this essential step!

Deep shelves? Try deep bins! Tricky corner? Try a lazy Susan! Sprawling drawers? Try a few drawer dividers! Have fun with it, and choose containment that elevates your style and that will work seamlessly for you and your family. I love utilizing products that are wipeable (glass, plastic, etc.), or have a machine washable lining (inside certain woven baskets) for ease of spring cleaning and overall upkeep.

Once everything is contained, it’s time to label! I recommend utilizing a label maker, or simply hand writing labels with a paint pen. Customize the categories with language you and your family use (ie: if you refer to pasta as “noodles,” label it noodles!) Labels are essential, as they make everyone in your family accountable, from putting groceries away in their proper place, to taking inventory before a grocery shop, or simply for setting limits on what gets overly stocked.

Pro Tip: When organizing, consider decanting frequently used items (that you buy week after week) into air tight containers like your favorite snack or cereal. Packaging can be cumbersome and bulky, and while there is an initial time investment with this method, your pantry items will keep fresh longer, and you’ll have a clear visual when something is running low (no more near-empty boxes of Triscuits or cereal!)

Remember, there is no right or wrong here when it comes to the hub of your home, as long as the solution is practical and manageable for you and your family!

Laura Kinsella from Urban Organyze
Francesca Russell Photography

Laura Kinsella is the founder of Urban Organyze, a New York based home organizing company that transforms your mess into meaning and clutter into calm. Since 2015, Laura has empowered hundreds of women to gain more clarity and control, by creating homes that are efficient, elegant, and easily adapt with the demands of a growing family. As a born and bred New Yorker and mom to a growing preschooler, Laura’s mission is to support fellow moms towards their vision of a healthier, lighter, and more organized life. Laura has been featured in New York Post, New York Family, Apartment Therapy and more. For inspo, please visit urbanorganyze.com, or follow @urbanorganyze.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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Tips For Supporting Your Kid’s Emotional Well-Being During the Pandemic

emotional well-being
Parents need to talk to their kids about their feelings. (Getty Images)

By Cara Zelas

With children’s education being disrupted during the pandemic and with ongoing school closures, hybrid and remote learning, Zoom fatigue, and finding the right access to technology, a lot of pressure has been put on the shoulders of parents and caregivers. 

It is difficult, at times, to maintain positive emotions within ourselves, let alone for our children. However, as we move into 2021 and remote school continues for some children, it is important to help them build positive routines, nurture emotional self-regulation, and build resilience. 

“People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have, and a better understanding of how to live life,” says Richard Tedeschi, who developed the theory of post traumatic growth with fellow psychologist Lawrence Calhoun.

Here are some strategies and tips on supporting you and your children’s emotional well-being that may help your family get through this new year with firm footing. 

KEEP TALKING

Clear and honest communication is important to maintain with your children. Listen, show understanding, and acknowledge that this is an uncertain and difficult time. Successful communication can deepen relationships as it brings awareness to each other’s needs. 

NAME FEELINGS

Noticing and naming our emotions can help diffuse a situation and assist children in processing their feelings. Naming our emotions helps us to step back and think about the choices we have in that moment. 

MODEL POSITIVITY

Try and think of one positive thing that you can focus on. And in a moment of despair or sadness, bring your attention back to that one positive thing. When your children see you being positive, they copy or model what they see. 

SUSTAIN ROUTINES

Be consistent with when you eat, work, play, and go to sleep. Pepper your day with rituals: Create a family dream board that you all add to; at bedtime, talk about one positive experience of the day; do a short breathing exercise together; make up a special hug that you give each other; or think up a little mantra or saying that you repeat, such as “I love you to the moon and back.” 

MAINTAIN INTERACTIONS

Stay connected with others in a small group, where you can comfortably social distance and wear a mask but be together. Have your child be old-school and write a letter or card to a loved one via snail mail. Make a video or record voice messages to send to family and friends. 

This story first appeared in New York Family.

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10 Fun St. Patrick’s Day Activities to Enjoy With Your Kids

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Activities to Enjoy With Your Kids this St Patrick’s Day

This St Patrick’s Day, get your kids involved in all the festivities with these enthralling activities. You can engage with them on Irish culture and bring joy into your home for this very special day. You can eat food, watch programs, and create crafts that will help kids recognize the influence of the Irish in their own lives. There’s so much fun to be had this time of year, and we’ve compiled an excellent list of how you can optimize your family’s experience. No matter how you like to celebrate the day, you’ll find suggestions here to make this holiday more fun and inviting than ever.

If you’re looking for more things to do this upcoming season, check out our spring bucket list!

Picture of mint matcha brownies from Simple Mills

Courtesy of Simple Mills

Bake Some Irish and Green Classics

Baking is an easy and fun way to get kids involved with some St Patrick’s Day traditions. You can make classic Irish soda bread or there are lots of green food recipes you can make to bring in the classic color associated with St Patrick’s Day. Simple Mills provides tons of different recipes for Irish classics and green food you can make with your kids for the holiday. Check out their delicious recipes for Irish soda bread or mint matcha brownies that you can make yourself to celebrate this year.

Lucky you cupcakes from Baked by Melissa

Courtesy of Baked by Melissa

Pick Up Some St Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

Bring something fun and green into your home for the whole family to enjoy! If you’re not much of a home chef, pick up some sweets to enjoy while you celebrate this Irish holiday. Baked by Melissa is offering a selection of mini St Patrick’s Day themed cupcakes that are sure to make kids excited for the day. They’re a fun and easy way to celebrate all together, and can be used in tandem with some of our other suggested activities to make for an excellent holiday celebration. They are available for pick up or delivery from several locations in Manhattan. Order yours here.

Watch the Parade

The New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade is a staple each and every year. Due to Covid, things are running a little different than in past years, but there is still lots to get involved with. There will be a virtual mass from St Patrick’s Cathedral and a virtual parade composed of videos from groups in parades from past years. The event will still be a celebration of Irish heritage and will be a spectacle for you to watch from the safety of your own home. Here is more information on the parade’s events and times.

Watch the Rhythm of Dance Performance

Show your kids some traditional Irish dancing from your own living room. The National Dance Company of Ireland is releasing their filmed live performance for everyone to enjoy. With their combination of traditional dance and music with modern technology, your kids will be enthralled by these incredibly talented performers. The show will be available from March 15th to March 21st, so you can watch it as many times as you want within the time frame. The performance is “pay what you can” meaning you can enjoy the incredible dancers no matter what your budget is. You can check out tickets and see more information here.

For the full list of St. Patrick’s Day activities, visit NewYorkFamily.com.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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Children’s Books to Read in Celebration of Women’s History Month

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25 Children’s Books to Add to Your Bookshelf for Women’s History Month

This Women’s History Month, invest in children’s books to inspire your own young girls to change the world. Some of these books will help your kids discover stories about real-life heroes they’ve probably never heard of. Others will help girls find their own inner strength and make them proud to be a woman. These books will give your kids an easy introduction into what it means to be a woman and how they can influence the growth of women in the future.

If you’re interested in finding other books to inspire your children, check out 10 Children’s Books to Read for Black History Month.

Books About Historical Figures

Cover of A is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World

A Is for Awesome!: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World by Eva Chen, Illustrated by Derek Desierto

Age: 1-3 years

Covering important women from A to Z, this book allows young readers to discover historical figures that don’t always get covered in their classes. The fun illustrations and feminist icons in this book will intrigue your young children. It provides introductions to some of the most important women in history. It allows children to connect these figures of the past to the rights and inventions they enjoy today.

Cover of Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Brian Selznick

Age: 7 to 10 years

This book is based on a true story from the friendship of Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt. It follows the women as they sneak away from a White House dinner in order to take flight. Reading about the incredible relationship between these two strong women, young girls can learn the importance of friendship. They can see these two trailblazers defying what’s been done before in order to find a better way to do it in the future.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Age: 5-8 years

Based on the true story of Clara Lemlich, this book will teach kids about the importance of speaking out against inequality. A young Ukrainian immigrant, Clara refuses to accept that women must work grueling hours in factories instead of receiving a decent education. She decides to lead the largest strike of women’s workers in American history, and change the working lives of women forever. Her amazing bravery and refusal to accept the injustice in a country where she didn’t even speak the language reflects the power young women hold. Hearing her underrepresented story makes this book an excellent addition for Women’s History Month.

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated by Matt Faulkner

Age: 4-8 years

This children’s book looks at one of the most important figures in women’s history: Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Your children will be inspired by her spirit and determination in advancing the rights of women. This book will give them a better understanding of one of the most important movements in women’s history. Stanton helped give women one of their most innate rights. Her fight is an important one for every child to know, and this book puts it in a way even the youngest can understand.

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History by Kate Pankhurst

Age: 7+ years

A follow up to Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, this book looks at women around the world who helped change the course of human history. It’s informative about some lesser-known historical figures while still being accessible to younger children. There are now quite a few books within this series all of which will teach young girls about the women who paved the way for their brighter future.

Cover of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Age: 5 to 10 years

Filled with stories about 100 incredible women throughout time, this book is perfect for you to read every night with your children. The book is illustrated by 60 female artists from around the world providing a new and interesting take on every page. This is the perfect book for any child’s bedside table. It will provide them with endless inspiration for everything they can achieve in their dreams and in real life.

Cover of Here Come the Girl Scouts!

Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette Daisy Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure by Shana Corey, Illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Age: 4-8 years

So many young girls participate in the girl scouts, but not many realize the work that went into creating the organization. This book gives girls a chance to learn the history of an organization they still have the opportunity to take part in. Juliette Gordon Low believed that girls could do anything, and she created an organization where they could believe it too. More than one hundred years later, Low’s legacy still lives on. Other books celebrating women’s history can be hard for young children to connect to their lives as they seem so far in the past. The modern-day connection to the Girl Scouts makes this an excellent choice to begin your child’s interest in the women who have an impact on their own lives even all these years later.

For the full list of books, visit NewYorkFamily.com.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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Tips For Researching Summer Camps Amid Pandemic

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By Jess Michaels

Researching summer camps is an important step to finding the right camp for your child. And this summer, after a year of remote learning and limited socializing and activities, your child is going to need a summer at camp more than ever before. Even in the midst of a pandemic, there are ways to go about narrowing down your choices and choosing the best camp for your child and family. Here are some ways to get your camp search started.

Psst…Check out Questions to Ask Camp Directors Amid a Pandemic

Video Calls With the Director – One of the best ways to learn about a camp is by speaking with the camp director. While many overnight camp directors have done home visits in the past so you can get to know the director (and for them to get to know you and your child), they have moved these meetings to Zoom! Facetime, Google Meets and Zoom have made it even easier to get to know a camp director and to inquire about the camp’s philosophy, mission, activities and more.

Courtyard & Backyard Home Visits – If you rather do a home visit, camp directors are happy to do outside home visits when the weather warms up. Backyard and courtyard visits worked very well this fall and they will start up again as the weather improves.

Day Camp Tours – Since day camps are local, they offer camp tours all year long, even in the winter. If there is a day camp you are interested in, give the director a call to schedule a tour. Touring allows you to see the camp and facilities, even if it will all look different in the summer! Tours also allow you to ask questions while in the camp environment which often sparks additional questions.

Spring Open Houses and Tours – When the weather warms up, many day and overnight camps will host some kind of socially distanced open house dates and camp tours where you can see the camp before deciding on a camp.

Virtual Camp Fairs – Camp fairs typically allow families to meet with dozens of camps all in one day! Since in-person events are challenging during COVID-19, camp fairs have been re-imagined this year. New York Family will be offering virtual camp fairs that will be using an online platform with an algorithm that will create one-on-one video calls between camp directors and qualified families, based on the criteria both camps and families submit. There will be four virtual camp fairs, taking place on: Sunday, March 14th • Sunday, April 11th.

Camp Websites & Social Media – Already have a few camps in mind to check out? Camp websites and social media pages are filled with information from activities offered to videos. Looking at a camp’s website is a good starting point for your search but it’s always important to speak with the camp director before registering to ensure the camp is the right fit for your child.

Call the American Camp Association, NY & NJ – Did you know that the American Camp Association, NY and NJ offers parents free, one-on-one advice for parents looking for a day or overnight camp? Families can call Renee Flax at 212-391-5208 to speak with Renee about their child and what they are looking for in a camp.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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