Summer Camp Series: Into the Wild

New Image2

Last week, we listed off 5 art camps sure to keep your kids entertained without exceeding your budget. This week, in celebration of this gorgeous May weather, we’re bringing you 5 outdoor camps that will get your kids active and excited for summer!

Summer Explorers Camps

If you are a resident of Delaware County or live nearby consider registering your child for some summer fun with day camps offered through Preservation Parks of Delaware County. These outdoor kid’s camps are designed for children ages 8-12 and combine physical activity with nature education. Your child will enjoy hiking and learning about Ohio’s ecosystem with new friends! Tuition ranges from $50.00-$95.00. For more information, visit http://www.preservationparks.com/programs/camps/

YMCA of Central Ohio

The YMCA of Central Ohio offers a variety of fun learning opportunities for kids of all ages during the summer months. Services include both day, and overnight camps for elementary, middle, and high school students and even children with special needs. Kids enjoy outdoor games and activities, arts & crafts, and of course making new and lasting friendships with their peers! Tuition varies based on which camp you choose. For more information, please visit http://www.ymcacolumbus.org/camp

Columbus Parks and Recreation Department

Columbus Parks and Rec provides tons of fun summer opportunities for kids in central Ohio. Day camps run the gamut from sports to nature themes and are ongoing starting June 14th through August 6th. Camps are available at select city parks and tuition is $80 for Columbus city residents. For more information, visit http://www.columbusrecparks.com

Dawes Arboretum Day Camp

For those of you located near Newark, Dawes Arboretum is offering some wonderful opportunities for children to explore nature this summer. Dawes nature camps are available for children ages 6-14 (ages vary based on camps). These day camps invite children to learn about insects, local wildlife, and survival skills. Dawes Arboretum is also offering a teen conservation camp from June 21st through the 25th. Tuition for the teen camp is $50.00 for arboretum members and $60.00 for non-members. Kid’s camp tuition is $80.00 for members, $100.00 for non-members. For additional information, please visit http://www.dawesarb.org

Metro Parks

There are several camps and youth programs offered through Metro Parks for children in preschool through ninth grade. Camp themes include local wildlife exploration, outdoor activities such as hiking, and natural crafts. Camps are held at several different metro parks in the central Ohio area. Camps run from June through August. Tuition begins at $65.00. For more information, visit http://www.metroparks.net

If your children love exploring the outdoors and connecting with nature these camps will be right up their alley! Hiking and learning about Ohio’s ecosystem will keep their bodies healthy and their minds sharp this summer. Time is running out, sign your child up for one of these low cost, local summer programs today!

What Do We Tell Our Girls

Act4Kids:

This is a great article for those raising daughters!

Originally posted on Dances With Fat:

I am powerfulThis is one of the questions that I get a lot when I give talks – how do we raise girls to love and respect themselves in a world where they are told very clearly that they are not and will never be enough. Girls are rewarded for being “cute” while being flooded with images of a single, unattainable, photoshopped stereotype of beauty.  They are inundated with the idea that their value as a human being is inextricably tied to how close they can get to that stereotype, and how attractive they are to men.

The truth is that there ARE major rewards for meeting the stereotype of beauty and serious consequences for failing.  Fat women get hired less and paid less than their thin counterparts.  Women who refuse to wear make-up are seen as unprofessional – including by other women.  Women who refuse to wear high heels are seen…

View original 521 more words

Summer Camp Series: Create and Play

art-and-craft-for-kids1_0

 

Winter is finally over and summer vacation is just a few weeks away. Your child’s school doors will soon open, releasing hundreds of excited children into the mild June air. As a parent, you may be concerned about how your child will spend the next few months while he or she is out of school. You understand that school is hard work and your child deserves to have some time off to relax and have fun. At the same time, it’s important that your child continues to learn, explore new things, and sharpen important skills. Summer camps are a great way to keep children’s minds active while still allowing them enough freedom to relax and socialize with their peers. No matter your child’s interest there is likely to be a summer program that will meet their needs.

Is your child artistically gifted? Believe it or not, there are tons of affordable summer art programs around Columbus to choose from!

Bareclay Studio Summer Programs for Kids

Bareclay is a local pottery studio that offers a variety of classes for adults and children. Kid’s classes give children the opportunity to work with clay, a medium they may have never experienced before, and a potter’s wheel! Kids of all ages are welcome to sign up for individual classes which run $25.00 per session or mini-camps which are $68.00. Classes are available from June through August so get your kids signed up today! For more information visit www.bareclay.com

CCAD Creative Summer Workshops

Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) offers summer workshops for children beginning June 10th until August 9th. These workshops are designed to focus on the fundamentals of studio art based on a child’s age and experience. Summer workshops range from $150 to $250. For more information visit www.ccad.edu/ce

CMA’s Summer Art Workshops

Columbus Museum of Art and Design gives kids an opportunity to explore imagination and creativity through unique art games, exercises, and a variety of projects. CMA invites children between the ages of 3 and 12 to participate in workshops which run from June 17th through August 2nd. Workshop fees are $235 for members and $275 for non-members. For more information visit www.columbusmuseum.org/summerartworkshops

Decorative Arts Center of Ohio Summer Camp

Decorative Arts Center of Ohio presents Twist & Shout Mini-fiber Camps for children in 3rd through 5th grade. This summer camp focuses on using yarn, string, and other fibers to explore crocheting, macramé, and knitting. This camp will be in session August 12-14 from 10:00AM-12:00PM. The fee is $30 for members and $45 for non-members. For more information visit www.decartsohio.org

   Delaware Arts Castle Summer Camps

If you live in the Delaware area, then you are probably familiar with Delaware Arts Castle and the wide variety of classes that they offer. This year their children’s summer camps will focus on pottery, visual arts and crafts, and drama. Age restrictions and prices vary based on each camp so please visit www.artscastle.org/new_design/pdf/Web_brochure_summer.pdf for more information.

If your child is interested in the arts than these five affordable camps will do wonders for his or her skill set. Perhaps he or she is drawn more to STEM activities or adventure camps, well not to worry because we’ve got you covered! From summer reading programs to overnight camps for the next few weeks I’ll be reporting my top 5 favorite kid’s camps in central Ohio!

Planting the Seeds of Acceptance

Image

          Children today are growing up in a multicultural world. They are constantly being exposed to different religions, ethnicities, and ways of living. Your child’s success ultimately depends on their ability to live and work beside people who are different from them. This is only one example of why it is important to encourage your children to embrace diversity. Another, of course, is to end the cycle of hatred that results from stereotypes and prejudices. Because so much of a child’s success can be positively affected by their acceptance of others, the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has made it a sub-theme for their annual Week of the Young Child celebration.

            Talking openly with children about diversity is key to helping them develop an appreciation for other cultures, races, and religions. Any question your child may have on the subject should be seen as a teachable moment.

            As adults, we should make sure to respond to any racist or prejudice comments made in front of children immediately. Children won’t necessarily understand that a comment or joke is hurtful; they will only recognize the reaction that it produces. Prejudice is a learned behavior that is often passed down from parent to child and can then be shared within that child’s peer groups. Stop the hate before it starts by explaining that stereotypes and negative comments are hurtful.

           Teaching children about their own culture can also help them understand that differences make people unique and shouldn’t be looked down upon. Encouraging kids to embrace your family’s cultural traditions can help them develop a respect other traditions, religions, etc.

           Children who live, play, and go to school in communities that are primarily occupied by their own race or culture lack exposure to different kinds of people. This is why it’s important to introduce your children to new cultures and ideas through books, music, or films if you are unable to explore areas that are more culturally diverse. Exposing your child to role models who are different from them is also a great way to teach acceptance because it shows children that their heroes can come in all forms.

           We are raising our children in a very progressive time. Teaching them to embrace diversity goes beyond doing what is morally right; it has become crucial to their success. Encourage your children to understand that though we may look different from one another, we are all human beings who deserve equal treatment and equal access to opportunities.

Bridging the Gap: Girls and STEM

Image

 In recent years U.S. high school students have become increasingly interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields. This means good things for the United States because these fields are responsible for moving our society forward and ensuring our industrial development. But although various studies have shown that our children’s interest in STEM is on the rise, the gender gap is still widening.

Boys and girls tend to begin kindergarten on the same page and remain this way throughout elementary school. It isn’t until 6th or 7th grade when girls begin to shy away from accelerated math and science courses. The gender gap continues to widen in high school. Even worse, the girls who stayed interested in STEM courses drift away from those majors in college.

So what’s really going on here? Some suggest that avoiding math and science has less to do with an inability to understand its content and more to do with a lack of confidence. It isn’t that girls can’t excel in STEM classes; they believe they can’t and therefore they don’t try.  Self-esteem in girls often reaches its peak around 9 years old and then decreases dramatically after that. With that being said, we can see a clear connection between girls’ lack of participation in STEM and their plummeting self-confidence.

Many young girls think that liking math and science is “uncool”. As alarming as this is, it’s not unbelievable when we consider that they are the target audience for tween clothing brands that market shirts which read, “I’m too pretty to do math” and “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother does it for me.” Young girls are not only getting the message that STEM isn’t for them, they’re wearing it.

As parents and educators we need to do more for girls than simply spark their interest in math and science during early childhood. We have to continuously nurture it throughout adolescence by addressing confidence issues and offering encouragement. We must actively combat these gender stereotypes if we want to achieve gender equity in education. Fortunately there are many ways you, as a parent, can help bridge this gap:

  1.  Discuss math and science with her in a positive way. Focus on what she likes about these subjects and help her set goals for herself in connection with possible career paths.
  2. Take her to visit science centers such as Cosi, planetariums, and natural history museums. This will help her gain an understanding of how STEM is used outside of the classroom.
  3. When she’s young use her allowance as an opportunity to teach her about budgeting expenses. When she gets older show her how you budget your household expenses and allow her to be responsible for her own personal spending.
  4. Encourage her to enroll in math clubs, science fairs, and/or computer classes afterschool.
  5. Encourage her interest in famous female mathematicians, scientists, and engineers. Even the women who have made waves in these fields tend to be overshadowed by their male counterparts. These women didn’t work hard to be forgotten and it’s important for girls to have strong female role models to look up to.

When we education our children we assure our society’s survival because as they grow they will become the ones who are responsible for moving our community forward. Women must be part of this movement and we cannot allow our daughters to be held down by outdated stereotypes. Together we can make a positive difference in our education system by nurturing a love for STEM one girl at a time.

The Great Escape!

spingbreak              The snow has melted, the sun is beginning to come out of hiding (for the most part), and many schools across central Ohio have closed their doors for spring break. For some people, spring break is spent drinking frozen daiquiris on a beach somewhere, but not for you. You may have children or a demanding job and taking a luxurious vacation simply isn’t in the cards for you right now. Not to worry, we’re on the edge of winter and soon the flowers will be in bloom again. Until then, I have 5 fantastic local attractions you can visit with your family this week!

             We may not have a beach, but we do have a riverbank. Now, I’m not asking you to take your children swimming in the Olentangy River that would be irresponsible. However, the Scioto Mile Park is a riverfront destination that is great for long walks, bike rides, and guided tours of the Santa Maria, the world’s most authentic representation of Christopher Columbus’s infamous flagship. Along the park’s recreational trail, you will also find their Cultural Arts Center. This unique center is an artist’s haven that offers classes and workshops for a variety of skill levels. It is a great place to enhance your skills, express your ideas, and develop a greater appreciation for art and culture. The Scioto Mile Park is great for both short and daylong visits and is a perfect way to get your kids outside and active!

             It doesn’t have Van Gogh but it does have Rothko! The Columbus Museum of Art offers a wide variety of artists representing genres from classical to modern. Currently on view is the much anticipated, Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950 exhibit. This exhibit features 37 works from one of the most influential artists of the twentieth-century. It is only in town until May 26th, so get the kids and come see the style that defined a generation! Aside from exhibits, CMA also has family galleries which were created to encourage children to explore their own creativity and artistic vision. New to the museum is an interactive learning lab which offers children and teens an opportunity to explore technology, known as the Innovation Lab. Taking your children to the Columbus Museum of Art gives them an opportunity to learn about artists, old and new, as well as grants them the ability to understand how art plays a role in their own lives.

              O-H-I-O! Consider exploring The Ohio State University’s campus with your family. In recent years OSU has undergone construction, renovation, and remodeling, making it not only a center for learning but also a popular Columbus attraction. Start at the new Ohio Union, located on the corner of High Street and 12th Avenue. Here you will find beautiful ballrooms, various displays of art, and interesting cultural exhibits. The historical Thompson Library can be found just off of OSU’s beloved oval. From its galleries to its brilliant architectural design, this library more closely resembles a museum than anything else. Taking your family on a nice walk through Ohio State’s campus can not only reaffirm your buckeye pride but can also spark your children’s interest in attending college!

             Rather than imagining the places where you’ll go, take a better look at the place where you are. Many Ohioans will say that our great state doesn’t have much to offer or that living here can feel a bit dull. However, Ohio carries a great deal of historical significance that you and your family can learn about at the Ohio History Center. This center acts as the headquarters for the Ohio Historical Society and houses a museum, a library, and Ohio Village, a recreation of a 19th century Ohio town. Your children will learn about the different Native American tribes who inhabited our state before settlers arrived along with a glimpse at Ohio’s natural history and original landscape. This outing will surely get your children excited about history and will keep them learning during the week that they’re outside the classroom!

             The flowers will be blooming even if there’s frost on the ground. No matter the weather, the Franklin Park Conservatory remains warm and bright all year round. Experience different eco systems and observe lush greenery and flowers in full bloom without leaving the city. The butterflies have recently returned to the conservatory, completing the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit. This beautiful greenhouse is proof that you don’t have to travel far to reconnect with a warm climate. Taking your family to witness this extraordinary explosion of colors and life is a great way to lift those winter blues and kick off the spring season!

Having a successful spring break doesn’t have to break the bank. Reacquainting yourself with the city of Columbus while spending quality time with your family may be just what you need this week. We are fortunate to live in a community with lots of family friendly resources that are both fun and educational. Take advantage of them this week as we prepare ourselves for the warmer months ahead!

We Do Big Things

Spotlight: Eric Karolak, “We Do Big Things

erikfacebook

New CEO of Action for Children, Eric Karolak’s response to President Barrack Obama’s proposal to “do something big” for early childhood education. Before succeeding previous CEO, Diane Bennett, Dr. Karolak was the founding Executive Director of the Early Care and Education Consortium and from 2001-2006 he led the National Childcare Information Center.

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

                           Healthy living doesn’t begin with annual check-ups with your doctor or a regular exercise routine; it begins with proper nutrition and portion control. What we consume ultimately decides how well or how poorly our bodies and minds will function. What we feed our kids must be able to support their brain and body development. Mac’ and cheese and hotdogs may be cheap and tasty but they lack the nutrients necessary for your child’s growth.

                           Eating healthy on a budget is tough, especially when you have several mouths to feed. Unfortunately, we can’t always afford the food that’s best for us so we’re stuck having to work with what we’ve got. This forces us to make sacrifices that can significantly impact our health. Instead of fresh veggies we choose frozen, white bread instead of wheat, and cheese so processed that you could leave it outside for days and it would go untouched. We should all have access to proper nutrition so I have come up with some tips that will help you and your family eat healthy on a budget!

                          Learn to cook. Yes, I said it. No more frozen entrees for you and your family! It’s time to break out that apron, turn on the oven, and show the world what you’re made of. Now with all that being said, I know it can be hard trying to prepare dinner with little ones running wildly through the kitchen or tugging at your pant legs. Instead of trying your best to ignore them, get them involved! Let cooking together become a bonding activity that will help them understand important concepts like measuring.

                          Eat cleanly. Check labels and try to only buy foods with ingredients you can pronounce. In fact, choosing items with the least amount of additives is a good rule of thumb. Along with checking labels, make sure to opt for whole wheat and fresh produce whenever you can. Frozen foods have significantly more preservatives and therefore less of the valuable nutrients you and your children need.

                          Cut back on sugar. Kids eat way too much sugar and it isn’t just because they’re eating candy. Almost every food item directed towards children is packed with unnecessary sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup has almost no nutritional value and is extremely difficult for the body to process. Children receive natural sugar from carbohydrates, which are found in dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables. You can help your child cut back on sugar by replacing sugary juice drinks and pop with water. This is a simple step that can make a big difference!

                          Start a community garden. Organic produce is always better. Produce that isn’t grown organically is usually grown with preservatives that help keep it fresher for longer. These are known as genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). GMO’s are the reason why the green pepper I bought two weeks ago is still sitting in my refrigerator without any sign of decomposition. Whatever’s in that pepper that’s keeping it from rotting has no business in you or your children’s bodies. If you can’t afford to buy organic, then starting your own garden or one for your community is a great idea! Gardening can teach your kids the importance of healthy eating as well as give them a new appreciation for nature.

                           Your children know how much to eat. Have you ever witnessed a parent pleading with his or her child to finish their meal? Well if you have or if you’re guilty of prompting little Susie to “take one more bite!” then I caution you to stop. Children usually stop eating when they’re full and to push them past that is to train them to eat whether they’re hungry or not. This is a very unhealthy habit that as many of us may know is extremely difficult to break. Allow your children to make decisions about their bodies based on how they feel. This is the best way to encourage portion control.

                           Eating well is one of the best things you can do for your body. The food we eat directly effects how we feel and how we perform. Teach your children the importance of proper nutrition now and they will be less likely to pass for it later. These simple tips will make a significant difference in the way your children feel and grow!

Making Math Fun!

preschooler-math-fun                 As a Child, I hated math. I hated the sickening feeling I felt every time the teacher called me to the board to solve a problem. The chalk in my hands would begin to shake and my mind would go blank. Hearing the laughter from the other children as I struggled to finish the equation only intensified my hatred. Unfortunately I never got over my fear of math. It followed me throughout elementary and high school and I even switched majors in college just to avoid taking it. My fear probably stemmed from the way it was taught. Most of the kids in my class moved faster than I did and we practiced math in such a competitive way that it became a real point of shame and embarrassment for me. Mixed messages from the media told me that math was difficult, boring, and for “nerds” which gave me the sense that I didn’t have to learn it.

                Kids who hate math often grow up to become parents who hate math. These negative feelings can end up being passed from parent to child, which makes me wonder, are we really surprised that our country is underperforming in math? As a parent you cannot control how math is taught in your children’s school, you can’t always control what messages your child is receiving from the media, but you can give your child a foundational love of math that can prepare them for the classroom.

                When teaching your young child math, remember to be enthusiastic. This means that you must first leave all of your own personal issues with math at the door. Children need to be able to associate math with fun in order to make it exciting to learn. Staying positive while you teach will help your child develop that same attitude when learning.

                Use math in everyday situations. Show your child how valuable math is by pointing out how it’s used in the world around them. Ask your child to help you measure ingredients when you cook or calculate your total purchase when the two of you are in the grocery store. Something as simple as allowing your child to play with your calculator can help familiarize them with mathematical concepts.

                Playing games that involve math is a great way to get your kids excited about it. Traditional games like checkers and backgammon help children strengthen their problem solving skills but so  do non-traditional games such as number tic-tac-toe or egg carton counting. Reading books about math and problem solving to your children can also positively affect their attitude towards math. Some great titles are: Quack and Count by Keith Baker, Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy, and One Hundred Angry Ants by Ellinor J. Pinczes.

                It’s always helpful to be familiar with your child’s current skill level and what they are expected to learn in school. If you know what your child is being taught then it’s much easier to sharpen their skills at home! Make sure your child understands the importance of showing his or her work as well as checking it.

                It’s important to remember that math is nothing to be scared of and anyone can learn it. Our attitude about math is what helps define it as “good” or “bad”, “easy” and “impossible”. Being successful in math can truly help open doors for your children so don’t let a bad attitude stand in their way!

Time to Pretend: Kids and Creative Play

piper2                    

                     Whether you call it creative play, dramatic play, or just plain dress-up, pretend play encourages children’s curiosity while allowing them to learn from hypothetical experiences. As children grow they begin to imitate what they see in the world around them as well as concepts and things that they find interesting. This kind of play nurtures the imagination and encourages creativity in its simplest form.

                    As a child I truly believed that I was cat woman. Of course, I don’t remember any of this but unfortunately my entire family does. Even into adulthood they would retell stories of how I would leap from couch to couch, meowing as I went. As confusing as this probably looked to outsiders this was just my way of exploring my imagination. Later on when I was bit older I learned to make sense of the world around me through play. My mother was a paralegal and although I wasn’t sure what that meant I began to pretend that I was one as well. I would carry around an old brief case along with the television controller, which I used as my “business phone”.  By imitating what I saw at home I was actually developing valuable social skills.

                   Creating an environment that encourages pretend play is really quite simple, as there are only three key elements to consider: props, clothes, and surroundings. Props can be anything from a big empty cardboard box to old bedding and cushions that your kids can use to build a fort. Many people believe that they need to constantly entertain their children or guide their play. This is not always the case Children have an abundance of creative energy and sometimes it’s best to take a step back and allow them to explore their curiosities without your intervention.

                  The beautiful thing about providing clothing for dress up is that it can be as simple as handing your little girl a pair of old heels. By collecting some thrift store finds and old hand-me-downs you can give your children costume options for role-playing. Hats and scarves do well when sparking the imagination but kids can be very inventive so just about anything you have will work. I recommend keeping a basket of dress up clothes in your playroom so that your children have the freedom to play with them whenever they’d like.

                  Your child’s surroundings definitely influence their creativity so making sure your home is inviting to the imagination is important. If you are not able to provide your child with a separate area for pretend play a corner of a room will work just fine. By pulling all of the chairs away from the dining room table and placing a sheet on top, you have provided your child with a playhouse! The outdoors are incredibly important for children for a number of reasons including pretend play. Children learn to connect with and appreciate nature while using it as the backdrop for their imagination.

                 Role-playing helps children understand and identify with the adult world. It is also a great tool that can help them develop important social, language, and emotional skills. By encouraging your child to use his or her imagination you are giving them a sturdy foundation for healthy growth and development. Kids don’t stay little forever, so allow them to play freely and explore their curiosities through pretending while they still can!