Wondering what to do with the family over the holiday break? Visit the Connecticut Tourism website for lots of great winter activities, including outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding, local museums that are great for kids of all ages, hiking trails, art galleries, and much more! Click here for ideas and links.
Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best in children’s books. The list is generated based on certain criteria—worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding—and includes “books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways,” according to the ALSC website. Additionally, Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children’s Books list.
Just in time for your gift-giving consideration, here is a list of the 2017 Notable Children’s Books. For more information about these book, click here.
Preschool-grade 2 (age 7), including easy-to-read books
Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer, Diane Stanley
Ada Twist, Scientist, Andrea Beaty
Before Morning, Joyce Sidman
Best Frints in the Whole Universe, Antoinette Portis
Counting, Fleur Star
Coyote Moon, Maria Gianferrari
Fabulous Frogs, Martin Jenkins
Go, Otto, Go! , David Milgrim
Good Night Owl, Greg Pizzoli
The Great Pet Escape, Victoria Jamieson
Horrible Bear! Ame Dyckman
A Hungry Lion; or, A Dwindling Assortment of Animals, Lucy Ruth Cummins
The Infamous Ratsos, Kara LaReau
Leave Me Alone! Vera Brosgol
The Night Gardener, Terry Fan
Old Dog Baby Baby, Julie Fogliano
Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper, Mike Twohy
Over the Ocean, Taro Gomi
A Piece of Home, Jeri Watts
Puddle, Hyewon Yum
Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas, Yuyi Morales
School’s First Day of School, Adam Rex
Thunder Boy Jr, Sherman Alexie
We Found a Hat, Jon Klassen
Weekends with Max and His Dad, Linda Urban
When Andy Met Sandy, Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis
Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? Kate DiCamillo
Grades 3-5, ages 8-10
The Best Man, Richard Peck
Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep, Abby Hanlon
Full of Beans, Jennifer L. Holm
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, Lynne Rae Perkins
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
I Am Not a Number, Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, Debbie Levy
Juana & Lucas, Juana Medina
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, John David Anderson
Pax, Sara Pennypacker
A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day, Andrea Davis Pinkney
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, Jabari Asim
The Princess and the Warrior, Duncan Tonatiuh
Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo
The Secret Keepers, Trenton Lee Stewart.
The Sound of Silence, Katrina Goldsaito
Steamboat School, Deborah Hopkinson
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness, Donna Janell Bowman
The Storyteller, Evan Turk
The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk, Jan Thornhill
A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785, Matthew Olshan
Wet Cement, Bob Raczka
When Mischief Came to Town, Katrina Nannestad
When the Sea Turned to Silver, Grace Lin
The Wild Robot, Peter Brown
Grades 6-8, ages 11-14
As Brave As You, Jason Reynolds
The Ballad of a Broken Nose, Arne Svingen. Tr, Kari Dickson
The Bitter Side of Sweet, Tara Sullivan. Putnam.
Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights, Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
Booked, Kwame Alexander
Brown v. Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice, Susan Goldman Rubin
Cloud and Wallfish, Anne Nesbet
Cry, Heart, but Never Break, Glenn Ringtved
Garvey’s Choice, Nikki Grimes
Ghost, Jason Reynolds
In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, Kenneth C. Davis
The Inquisitor’s Tale; or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, Adam Gidwitz
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge
Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, Cathy Camper
March: Book Three, John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
The Only Road, Alexandra Diaz
Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West, Candace Fleming
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story, Caren Stelson
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, Pamela S. Turner
To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party, Skila Brown
Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience during World War II, Albert Marrin
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler, Russell Freedman
What Elephants Know, Eric Dinerstein
Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk
The Wolf’s Boy, Susan Williams Beckhorn
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, Carole Boston Weatherford
Has appeal and interest for children in all of the above age ranges
Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics, Steve Jenkins
As Time Went By, Jose Sanabria
Daniel Finds a Poem, Micha Archer
Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis
Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist, Susan Wood
Freedom in Congo Square, Carole Boston Weatherford
Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan, Ashley Bryan
Giant Squid, Candace Fleming
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph, Roxane Orgill
The Journey, Francesca Sanna
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest, Lulu Delacre
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Javaka Steptoe
Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White, Melissa Sweet
Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds, Jorge Argueta
They All Saw a Cat, Brendan Wenzel
The Water Princess, Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel
When Green Becomes Tomatoes, Julie Fogliano
Children of all ages are filling their holiday wish list with things like tablets, cell phones, wearables, headphones, and other tech-related gifts. But it’s important to find a balance and ensure that today’s connected kids have some quality off-line time, too. The holidays are a great time to get back to some of the basics in childhood play that foster communication and social interaction.
Ideas for a Low-Tech Holiday Gift List:
Traditional toys remain superior to electronic toys for children’s language development. For example, when toys talk, parents talk less—and subsequently, kids vocalize less. Blocks, dolls, musical instruments, cars, trains, shape-sorters, and other low-tech toys get kids—and parents—talking, singing, playing, and interacting. These all help build foundational communication skills.
Books always make excellent presents, and sharing the joy of reading is a lifelong gift.
- For infants and toddlers: Books with textures inviting touch are ideal, as are colorful board and picture books.
- For children learning how to read: Give books appropriate to their skill level to facilitate emerging literacy.
- For older children: Find engaging chapter books and book series. Family members can take turns reading chapters aloud. This may be the start of a family book club.
Board, card, and conversation-based question games are great to enjoy and play as a family. They get everyone talking and laughing and build some great memories. There are games for all age ranges. And what better time of year than winter to begin family game nights for building conversation, connections—and fun!
Costumes and other dress-up accessories allow kids to use their imaginations and foster creativity. Children’s language skills expand as they make up dialogues, tell stories, sing, and take turns.
Building toys, blocks, and crafts make for some fun indoor activities to occupy kids on cold days. They also help hone fine motor skills for all ages. For young children, motor skills are closely linked to language development.
Outdoor toys such as balls, sleds, jump ropes, and yard games encourage running, jumping, sports and other active play. Physical activity and movement prime children for learning.
Puzzles—ranging from basic options for young children to complex types the whole family can attempt as a team—spur conversation while building analytical, problem-solving and other skills.
Cooking supplies work as fun gifts for children of almost any age. Involving young kids in making and trying new foods offers a wealth of opportunity for conversation and language-building, including likes and dislikes, tastes, textures, and more. For older kids, cooking together sets the scene for family bonding. Following recipes also helps improve reading and comprehension skills, planning, organization, sequencing, and following directions.
Crayons, colored pencils, coloring books and other writing supplies are a childhood staple, and they help children build fine-motor skills. Coloring also helps young children build their vocabulary and learn their color names.
Tickets to child-friendly shows, sporting events, or other performances are great gifts, as they allow parents and children to enjoy special activities together. These outings promote family interaction, conversation, and bonding. In addition, memberships to local zoos, museums or aquariums make great gifts for entire families to enjoy!
Of course, technology gifts will likely remain on your child’s shopping lists year after year—the reality of growing up in today’s world. Parents can help their children balance their online and off-line lives. If you do give your child a technology-related gift, use it as an opportunity to lay out some ground rules and make a family media plan.
Source: Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association/ASHA Leader. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Here are some mental health tips for the holiday season:
- Try to keep household routines the same. Stick to your child’s usual sleep and mealtime schedules when you can, which may reduce stress and help your family enjoy the holidays.
- Take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Children and adolescents are affected by the emotional well-being of their parent or caregivers. Coping with stress successfully can help children learn how to handle stress better, too.
- Make a plan to focus on one thing at a time. Try a few ideas to balance the hustle and bustle of things like shopping, cooking, and family get-togethers during the holidays: Stop and pay attention to what is happening at the moment, focus your attention on one thing about it ,and notice how you are feeling at the time. Withhold immediate judgment, and instead be curious about the experience.
- Give to others by making it an annual holiday tradition to share your time and talents with people who have less than you do. For example, if your child is old enough, encourage him or her to join you in volunteering to serve a holiday meal at your local food bank or shelter or sing at a local nursing home. Help your child write a letter to members of the armed forces stationed abroad who can’t be home with their own family during the holidays.
- Remember that many children and adults experience a sense of loss, sadness or isolation during the holidays. It is important to be sensitive to these feelings and ask for help for you, your children, family members or friends if needed.
- Kids still need to brush their teeth twice a day!
- Don’t feel pressured to “over-spend on gifts.” Consider making one or two gifts. Help your child make a gift for his or her other parent, grandparents, or other important adults and friends. Chances are, those gifts will be the most treasured ones and will teach your child many important lessons.
- Most important of all, enjoy the holidays for what they are — time to enjoy with your family. So, be a family, do things together like sledding or playing board games, and spend time visiting with relatives, neighbors, and friends.
It’s important to help our children understand the need to give back, provide, share, and act generously. If we (as parents) act generously in front of children, they will learn how to give more freely.
Children Are More Generous When Others Are Aware of Their Actions
Researchers set up an experiment in which 5-year-olds were tested with their peers under differing circumstances of transparency and differing audiences (ie, if others could see into the container). They set up a sticker machine that in some settings was transparent (the child giving and child receiving could see how many stickers were up for grabs), and other settings in which only the giver of stickers knew how many stickers he could give. They had children give out stickers in both settings (transparent and opaque), being able to see the recipient or not.
The results were striking: children were consistently generous only when the recipient and audience of the stickers were fully aware of the donation options (4 stickers over 1 sticker, for example). Children were notably ungenerous when the recipient of stickers couldn’t see the options whatsoever. Having an audience present (seeing the recipient) and having the number of stickers be transparent affected children’s decisions to give. The researchers wrote, “One striking aspect of our results is that children were considerably ungenerous in our task. Indeed, children only showed consistently prosocial behavior in our study in the condition when they could see the recipient and their allocations were fully visible; in all other conditions, children were statistically ungenerous, giving the recipient the smaller amount of stickers.”
Researchers made the conclusions that children are differentially generous depending on what the recipient knows about how much you are able to give and if people are present to observe giving. Basically, children will be generous when those who are in need know how much they have to give. It seems when children can obscure their “wealth,” they don’t give as much away. When their friends are able to see their choices, children will give peers far more.
At a very early age, children are learning how to position themselves socially. Well before they have a handle on the sociology of their networks and what social reputation really means (normally around age 8), they think strategically about giving as a function of how they can gain a reputation with a peer as a generous citizen or pro-social agent when the recipient observes them.
Fostering Generosity at an Early Age
Recognize that children are influenced by how their generosity is observed and understood. Children may often think about giving under the lenses of competition.
It is known that when competitive constructs are present, children are less generous. So are adults. Therefore, we can help young children understand when competition is present and when it isn’t. If a soccer game really isn’t a tally of total goals, tell children implicitly. Allow them to learn how to pass the ball and share as teammates early and often. When they are set to compete, let that be clear. But allow situations of play and giving not to be about winning too.
Children modify their behavior in response to having an audience. Help children give to others in full view (donations to a school can drive or soup kitchen; delivering meals to families who need support) and in private or anonymously too (dropping off treats or surprises for those in your life with- out signing your name).
Remind children that thank-you notes are lovely but unnecessary to receive. As an adult, I’ve often heard people complain about not receiving a thank-you note. It’s as if the reason to give a gift was to be acknowledged rather than provide something wonderful for another person. When we give gifts or lend help to others, try to help children remember why—to provide something for another. It really doesn’t have to be recognized. When a thank-you card doesn’t come, it doesn’t make a gift any less valuable or meaningful for those who were lucky enough to receive.
Written by Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP. From healthychildren.org. Source: Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting, Child Health, and Work-Life Balance (Copyright © 2014 Wendy Sue Swanson). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Thanksgiving — a holiday full of elaborate food traditions—can be extra challenging for parents of picky eaters. Who wants a holiday dinner turned into a battle zone filled with whispered bargaining? Fortunately, with a little planning, you can create a balanced Thanksgiving meal the whole family will enjoy! Here are some tips to appease picky eaters without sacrificing nutrition, straying from Thanksgiving traditions, or creating a lot of extra work.
Choose at least one food you know your child will like. Whether Thanksgiving will be served at your house or if you will be going to someone else’s home to celebrate, make sure to offer or bring at least one food that you know your child will like. This way, your child is guaranteed to eat something during the meal; it also shows your child you care about his or her preferences when planning meals.
Engage your child in meal planning. Ask your child if he or she would be interested in helping you plan the Thanksgiving feast. Let him or her know you plan to offer at least one protein, a grain, a vegetable, and fruit. You can tell your child about any foods you are definitely planning to include (i.e., turkey as a protein and stuffing as a grain), but ask if he or she has ideas for the other food groups. For example, “What kind of vegetable do you think we should include? How about a fruit?” Then, together find recipes that use those foods as ingredients. A child who helps choose a food that will be offered is much more likely to actually eat it.
Engage your child in meal prep. Invite your children in the kitchen to help prepare your Thanksgiving meal. For example, ask your toddler to help clean the vegetables, or your school-aged child to help mash the potatoes, or your teenager to boil the cranberries. When kids help cook food, they often sample what they are preparing, and are more likely to eat their masterpieces later.
Use food bridges. Once a food is accepted, find similarly colored, flavored, or textured “food bridges” to expand the variety of foods your child will eat. For example, if your child likes pumpkin pie, try including mashed sweet potatoes on his or her Thanksgiving plate.
Make it look, smell, and taste delicious. Many times kids think that they won’t like a food before they actually try it. By making a Thanksgiving dish look, smell, and taste delicious you up the odds that your child will try it out, like it, and come back for more. Do this by adding fragrant ingredients such a nutmeg and cinnamon to cooked apples—for example—or preparing a veggie tray with the vegetables arranged in the shape of a turkey.
Keep the mealtime relaxing and enjoyable. Focus on enjoying your time together celebrating this day of gratitude. Know you have prepared a balanced meal and taken many efforts to engage your children in the process—increasing the chances of there being at least one food they will like. You have done your job. Try not to worry if and what your child is eating.
Source: Section on Obesity (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help ensure they have a safe holiday.
All Dressed Up:
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
- Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
- Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
- Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.
Carving a Niche:
- Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
- Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.
Home Safe Home:
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
- Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
- Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
On the Trick-or-Treat Trail:
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
- Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
- Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind trick-or-treaters:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
- Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
- Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
- Never cut across yards or use alleys.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
- Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
- A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to urge families NOT to buy fireworks for their own or their children’s use, as thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured each year while using consumer fireworks.
Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks — devastating burns, other injuries, fires and even death. The AAP is part of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and to only enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.
Fireworks Safety Tips for Families:
- Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.
- Sparklers can burn at more than 1000°F and account for 10% of fireworks-related injuries overall. So, even sparklers should be avoided.
- It is better to be a spectator than a doer! Families should attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
- The AAP recommends prohibiting public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or the Internet.
The start of the new year is a great time to help your children focus on forming good habits. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides the following list of ideas for you to talk to your children about trying, depending on their age.
- I will try hard to clean up my toys by putting them where they belong.
- I will let my parents help me brush my teeth twice a day.
- I will wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
- I will learn how to help clear the table when I am done eating.
- I will be friendly to all animals. I will learn how to ask the owners if I can pet their animal first.
- I will do my best to be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.
- I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help or am scared.
Kids, 5 to 12 years old
- I will drink reduced-fat milk and water most days. Soda and fruit drinks are only for special times.
- I will take care of my skin by putting on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to remember to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
- I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
- I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard.
- I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
- I’ll try to be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by asking them to join activities such as sports or games.
- I will tell an adult about bullying that I see or hear about to do what I can to help keep school safe for everyone.
- I will keep my personal info safe and not share my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without asking my parent if it is okay.
- I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
- I promise that I’ll do my best to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.
Kids, 13 years old and older
- I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day. I will drink sodas only at special times.
- I will do my best to take care of my body through fun physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.
- When I have some down time for media, I will try to choose educational, high-quality nonn-violent TV shows and video games that I enjoy. I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities. I promise to respect out household rules for videogames and internet use.
- I will do what I can to help out in my community. I will give some of my time to help others, working with community groups or others that help people in need. These activities will make me feel better about myself and my community.
- When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking about my problem with a parent or friend.
- When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.
- When I notice my friends are struggling, being bullied or making risky choices, I will look for a trusted adultso that we can attempt to find a way to help.
- I will be careful about whom I choose to date. I will treat the other person with respect and not force them to do something they do not want to do. I will not use violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.
- I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco-cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol. I will also avoid the use of e-cigarettes.
- I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.
From HealthyChildren.org. Published 12/13/16.
Not surprisingly, some single and working parents have grown to dread school vacations, legal holidays (like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Washington’s Birthday), and “teacher in-service days.” These are days when the child is out of school but parents usually have to be at work. To make matters worse, care givers whom you might rely on at other times of the year often ask for time off during holidays, and community activities like art classes and Scouting often are cancelled too.
The good side of these situations is that you know they are coming and can plan for them. To help in that process, get copies of your child’s school schedule as early as possible so you are aware of vacations several months in advance. Children’s vacation schedules often dictate family vacation plans. With sufficient advance notice, you may be able to block out your own vacation time to coincide with that of your youngster.
Few parents have as much vacation time available as do their children, so arrangements have to be made for child care and supervision within the frame work of the demands of the parents’ jobs. If your spouse has some flexibility in his or her work schedule, divide the home responsibilities so one of you takes time off during different parts of the children’s vacation. Some couples are able to work out a plan where Mom is home in the morning, and Dad replaces her in the afternoon; perhaps one or both can work flexible schedules (6 A.M. to 2 P.M.; 2:30 P.M. to 10:30 P.M.) So that at least one parent is home at all times.
Fortunately, businesses are becoming more sensitive to the family needs of their employees. The federal Medical and Family Leave Act of 1993 is helpful to parents upon the birth or adoption of a child, or when a child is ill, but it does not have any provisions covering school holidays and vacations.
Sometimes neither you nor your spouse will be able to get off work. Or you will need a backup or alternative strategy for unexpected job demands or the sudden loss of a caretaker, both of which require some last-minute juggling of schedules. It is important that school-age children are always supervised, directly if possible and indirectly if not. Indirect supervision means providing a safe environment and a structured schedule of activities, including regular times to check in, even by phone, with a responsible adult. This latter option should be considered only for mature preteenagers and is never the preferred alternative.
When you can’t break away from the office, another option is to call upon extended family members to help. Some parents are able to work out a timetable with several families, where each assumes the caretaking responsibilities for all the children one day a week, or they trade hours of babysitting with each other. Some high school and college students, or after-school child care employees, are willing to work on holidays, perhaps coming to your home to assume the care of the children from several families. (Many high schools and colleges have job-placement offices to find employment for students on vacation; ask for and check references before hiring these young adults for child care.) You may also inquire about special holiday programs and camps that might be planned by local YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other com munity organizations. If none exist, gather some parents together and, as a group, urge local organizations or city leaders to provide holiday activities for children.
For some parents of school-age children, the best long-term solution is to work at home all the time, often in a small home-based business of their own. However, while this can be an ideal option, it is not available to everyone, and working at home poses problems of its own.
Source: Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)