Keep Germs Away This Winter with Mary Margaret’s Tips

keep germs away

Did your kids make it through the holidays without a stuffy nose or fever? If so, you’re one of the lucky ones! We’re deep into cold and flu season, so it’s natural if you’re feeling achy, sniffly, queasy, or just plain worn out.

Some pediatric disease specialists say that toddlers and preschoolers can catch up to ten colds a year! And if that statistic doesn’t horrify you, this might: Colds and flu can spread from family member to family member and from kid to kid.

Let Mary Margaret help you keep sickness at bay with a few tips.

First Things First: Get That Flu Shot!

The best way to keep yourself healthy this winter is to get that flu shot! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children older than 6 months can get the shot safely. It will protect your family throughout the winter season.

“Well,” you might say, “January’s almost over and I can’t get a flu shot.” Here are some recommendations that will get you through the next few months.

Dirty Hands Spread Germs: Teach Your Child to Wash His Hands Often

Viruses are often spread by hand-to-mouth contact. So, keeping your child’s hands clean is vital. Teach your kids to wash their hands before they eat. In fact, you should begin washing your babies’ hands regularly as soon as they can begin reaching for things.

Washing with ordinary soap and water works just fine before and after meals. Just make sure your kids are getting a good scrub, not just a rinse or a splashy playtime in the sink! During the day, keep antibacterial gel or wipes handy. We keep them nearby at all times in our centers, especially this time of year!

You can also teach your kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue or into their elbow, not their hands. This will help keep germs away, and encourage your child to use good manners as well.

Germs Linger on Toys and Other Belongings: Show Your Child How to Protect Herself

Germs are spread on household belongings and in playgrounds, too. Make sure your child washes her hands after playing on public playground equipment. Toothbrushes, cups, and other items can harbor germs, so encourage your kids to use only items that belong to them. Wash or wipe these items frequently, especially if you’ve recently had sickness in the house. Finally, watch out for shared toys! Wipe them down frequently if they’re handled by multiple kiddos.  

What about infants? As you know, your adorable new baby is simply irresistible! Everyone wants to hold or kiss her. During flu season, however, it might not be the greatest idea to hand the baby over to auntie or let baby’s cousin lean in for a kiss. It’s okay to shield your infant from sick people and teach young children not to touch an infant’s face or hands.

We Do Our Best to Keep Kids Healthy: Advice on Mary Margaret’s Illness Policy.

To maintain the health of all of our kiddos and their families, we have an illness policy in place. Any time a child becomes ill while at one of our daycare centers, a parent or guardian will be called to pick them up. The child must be picked up within the hour. This policy is noted in our parent handbook and application. Please let us know if we can clarify or give you any additional information on our policy.

Holiday Advice for Parents: 3 Tips for You & 3 for the Kids!

holiday advice

It’s the holiday season. Along with the general excitement you and your family may feel can come a whole lotta stress. How do you deal with small children during the holidays? How do you deal with relatives, cooking, presents, parties? (Not to mention your own exhaustion?)

At Mary Margaret, we know that a relaxed parent is a happy parent. And when the kids are out of school and the holiday season draws near – that sense of relaxation is hard to find. Let us help with some holiday advice for a stress-free season with the kids.

Put Your Own Mental Health First So You Can Be Present For Others

Remember what they tell you in an airplane: In case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. This is great advice, and not just on the plane! You’ve really got to keep your own stress levels down so you can be present for your children.

Tip #1 – Relax

Whatever you’re doing or not doing for the holidays … it’s good enough. You are good enough. You don’t have to decorate sugar cookies with your kids if you don’t want to. Can’t find that last minute gift? Don’t panic! Your kids will appreciate the spirit of the season more with a parent who is relaxed, happy, and present.

Tip #2 – Stick to Your Budget

Short on cash? Don’t go into debt buying presents because you think you have to! Simply spending quality time with your children is a way to make memories without the hefty price tag.

Tip #3 – Don’t Eat or Drink Too Much

It’s tempting to eat and drink all the goodies in sight, but that might not make you feel as festive as you’d like. Drink some water and just say no to that extra helping of sugary dessert.

Overall, remember to have fun! Take a break when you need to. Not enjoying a particular event? Make a note to skip it next year. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help if you begin to feel overwhelmed. It’s the giving season! Your friends and family will be glad to pitch in.

Kids Need Structure Along With Holiday Fun  

If you’re like us, you love to see your child’s eyes light up as they gaze at a decorated Christmas tree or sit on Santa’s lap. But kids can also make the season trying. We’ve seen kids go from out-of-control hyper to gimme-gimme whiny in a matter of seconds. Here’s what we recommend to manage the meltdowns.

Tip #1 – Stick to Your Routine

Don’t let your kid skip that nap! As you well know, a tired kid is a fussy kid. The most important thing you can do to avoid holiday meltdowns is to stick to a steady routine. That means regular mealtimes and a not-too-late bedtime.

Tip #2 – Watch the Sugar

During the holidays, kids get way more sugar than they need! A little extra is okay, sure, but try to monitor how many treats your child is having. Avoid sugar highs and hyper behavior by mixing healthier snacks in with the candy canes and cookies.

Tip #3 – Be Prepared!

Spending a lot of time at a relative’s house? Pack a bag. Take along an extra set of pajamas, extra diapers and baby wipes, and a favorite blanket or toy. If it’s a late night, get your child ready for bed at a reasonable hour. That’ll make it easier to transfer a sleepy kiddo to bed when you do make it home.

Why Not Start Your Own Stress-Free Holiday Traditions?  

Do you have to answer every invitation, visit every relative, and squeeze in every single holiday highlight? Absolutely not! In fact, we recommend saying “no” every once in awhile. That particularly petty cousin will get over it. It’s far better, in our opinion, to create manageable holiday traditions in your own home than to please everyone else but yourself. So try reading a Christmas story before bedtime, or watching a movie your whole family will love in snuggly pajamas. Above all, enjoy yourself! ‘Tis the season to be merry – not miserable.

14 Educational Apps that will Make Screen Time Quality Learning Time for Your Kids

educational apps

We understand. You’ve had a long day, and so has your child. You know you shouldn’t let him just stare at a screen all evening, but you just don’t have the energy to police your child’s time — not tonight. So, what should you do when you want to monitor your kids’ screen time and provide them with educational material on one hand, and let them enjoy those devices they love so much on the other? We think we’ve got the solution.

Find a Healthy Balance with These Educational Apps

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their guidelines regarding screen time. They acknowledge that quality is more important than quantity. So, while you don’t necessarily want your kids watching hours of YouTube, you can encourage them to spend time playing challenging games that might enhance their education outside of the classroom.

There are plenty of educational apps that can keep your child entertained while keeping their brains active and engaged. Here are a few of our favorites …

Try These Apps for Little Readers

Want to give your child a head-start on literacy? These apps are designed to help your child improve reading fluency and comprehension.

  1. This app is for your little one: The Sight Word Adventure, designed for kids 5 and under, uses a game every child loves to practice cognitive skills. It’s hide-and-seek, but with sight words! This one is $3.99 on iPhone or iPad, but worth it to help your kindergartner gain those important reading skills.
  2. Disney Story Central – Do you have a little girl who loves Disney princesses? This selection of e-books starring recognizable Disney characters might be perfect for her. This app offers read-along narration and little prizes as your child progresses through the program. It’s designed for kids 2 and up. It’s free to start, but may charge for additional stories.
  3. Kids enjoy reading more when they can interact with the text. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss allows them to do just that. This ebook highlights words as it goes along. When your child touches an object on the page, associated words pop up. This app is designed for kids age 2-6 on iPhone, iPad, and Android.
  4. Want to have thousands of books at your child’s fingertips? Try Epic! This app lets your child earn achievement badges when he finishes a new book. Designed for kids 12 and under, this app includes quizzes, books of the week, videos, and other perks that will keep your reader coming back for more.

Encourage Your Child to Explore the World

Sure, we don’t all get to travel the world. But that doesn’t mean your child can’t explore new places with the combined power of technology and imagination! Here are a few apps that will allow your child to broaden his horizons …

  1. Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa: We fell in love with this app the moment we tried it! Join a photographer and a robot as they guide your child through quests and puzzles all over the great continent of Africa. This app is perfect for kiddos 6-8.
  2. The award-winning app, Solar Walk, helps your child explore planet earth and the solar system, and even learn about space missions! With videos and satellite models, your child will be blown away by this visually astonishing trip through space.
  3. This app is perfect for your little ones: GazziliScience will teach your preschoolers and kindergartners the basics of life science, like the four seasons, the water cycle, and more! Kids master one topic at a time and unlock more topics as they go.
  4. Another app designed for preschoolers is Leo’s Pad. This app features stories about history’s most famous scientists. A group of 8-year-old friends help users learn all about science. It’s perfect for kiddos ag 3-6.

Teach Kids their Numbers

  1. Time, Money & Fractions On-Track by School Zone Publishing: Would you like your school-age child to understand how to read a clock, count coins, and master fractions? This app helps kids learn these sometimes tricky concepts with sound effects and animated characters your kids will love.
  2. Help your child age 5 and below learn his numbers with Elmo Loves 123s. This app will teach simple addition and subtraction. It also offers Sesame Street videos and puzzles. If your kid loves Elmo, this app is a must-have.
  3. Winky Think Logic Puzzles will keep your school-age child busy with over 180 logic puzzles. These games start simple and get more challenging as your child goes along.
  4. Another math app for older children is Thinking Blocks Multiplication. This Common Core-approved app helps your child use number blocks to solve challenging word problems. This app can help your 3rd or 4th grader master multiplication in no time!
  5. Your child will love interacting with animation and practicing math using Dexteria Dots. This app is simple to use, includes bright colors, and helps with fine motor skills as well as mathematics. Players combine or divide colorful dots to solve problems.
  6. Dragon Box is another app that makes math fun by disguising it as a series of puzzle games. Kids move through levels and learn simple math, algebra, and geometry along the way. Play along with your child; you may get addicted, too!

There are Plenty of Educational Apps Out There … Let Us Know What YOU Find!  

As you can see, time spent online doesn’t have to be junk food for the brain! This list is just a sample of the educational apps out there. If you worry that your child is spending too much time watching cartoons or playing Minecraft, give a few of them a try.

Do you have a favorite app that we didn’t include here? Let us know!

Back to School! Are You and Your Child Ready?

back to school

Be honest, parents. Are you jumping for joy at the prospect of school starting soon?

We thought so. Now, how about your kids?

Some kids eagerly look forward to the first day of school. For others, though, it’s an event filled with anxiety. For parents, that can mean a battle when their child has to get up in time for the bus. So, what can you do to make the transition easier for both your kids and you?

Back-to-School Tips You Can Use Right Now

  • A couple of weeks before their first day, set appropriate sleep schedules. This may mean enforcing an earlier bedtime and setting a morning alarm. It’ll be tough, but not as tough as dragging a sleep-deprived kid to their first day of school.
  • End the summer brain drain by encouraging your kids to read a book or two before the school year begins. Even better? Read with your child to emphasize how important it is and get your child back into the habit of focusing and learning.
  • If possible, visit your child’s school and meet the new teacher. Kids feel more comfortable in a new situation when they know what to expect, so take some time before the school year to visit the classroom or go through your child’s routine.
  • Get the list of supplies needed and go school shopping! Take your kids with you so that they can pick out a favorite notebook, planner, or pencil case.
  • Set rules for homework time early. And plan for push-back. If kids have gotten used to unlimited screen time over the summer, they might resent new expectations, now that study time needs to be part of their daily routine again. It may help to create a space in your home for keeping school supplies or doing homework. Having an official “homework area” with limited distractions can let kids know you mean business.
  • The night before school begins, help your child choose an outfit, and get breakfast and lunch plans settled. Help your kids pack a lunch before they go to sleep. It’ll be a busy day, and the more you can prepare the night before, the better.
  • Have plans for after school, too! Will you be at home? Or will your child need other arrangements once the school day ends? If you need daycare of after-school programs, contact Mary Margaret! We offer after-school solutions in a caring environment.

Other Back-to-School Issues to Keep in Mind

Times have changed, and today’s kids face pressures that you may not have dealt with in your childhood, especially when it comes to social media. Teachers will tell you that some of the problems kids have with one another in the classroom get started on Facebook or Snapchat. Talk with your child about your rules and expectations ahead of time. It’s your choice, of course, whether or not you allow your child to have a cell phone during the school day. However, encourage your child to put the phone away during instruction time and avoid the drama that can infect social media interactions.

If your child seems nervous about the new school year, remind him or her that lots of students get nervous on the first day. Teachers are aware of this, and that’s why they make an extra effort to create a comfortable environment. Make sure to hit on these 5 Back-to-School Worries. Let your child know ahead of time how you expect him or her to behave in class. This will help him or her get over those first-day jitters and settle back into a routine.

If You’re Looking for After-School Programs for Your Kids, Mary Margaret can Help!

Mary Margaret is dedicated to fostering education, development, and building self-esteem in a secure and comfortable environment. We offer daycare and after-school programs for kids up to age 12. Contact us or come by one of our several locations if you have questions!

Are You Ready for the 4th of July? Here are some Tips and Activities to Celebrate Independence Day with your Kids!

4th of July

Can you believe it’s almost July? Independence Day is coming up quick, and if you haven’t made plans, we’re here to help. Check out these safety tips and activities to make the 4th of July fun for your entire family. In Saint Louis, we do the 4th of July right!

Safety First, especially when 4th of July Fireworks are Involved!

Some kids can’t get enough of fireworks. But as adults, we know it’s not all fun and games. There is a measure of risk when little exploding rockets are involved in your child’s play. Don’t forget to use common sense and follow these suggestions … 

Also keep in mind that not all young kids enjoy the loud noises and bright lights that come along with the 4th of July holiday. Your kiddos might become overwhelmed, especially if it’s been a long, hot day full of activity. Let children know what to expect ahead of time and teach your little ones to keep a safe distance. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Plus, you want to pass on the importance of safety to your kids.

Need Inspiration? Here are Some Fun Activities for the 4th of July.

For many families, the 4th of July means a barbecue out back and a kiddie pool for all the cousins. If you’re feeling ambitious, or if the kids need a little more to keep them busy on this long summer weekend, here are a few ideas!

Don’t Forget to Teach Your Kids the Meaning of Independence Day.

We at Mary Margaret love teachable moments. As you’re celebrating with your kids, don’t forget to talk to them about what the 4th of July is all about. After all, despite the back and forth of politics, we’re all in this together! So, review your history, and share it with your children. As they begin to realize just how lucky we are to live in this free country, the holiday will become even more meaningful.

Is Bedtime a Nightly Battle? Here’s What You Need to Know about Bedtime for Kids

bedtime for kids

It’s the moment every parent dreads: Your child pouts, flails her arms, throws herself to the floor, and begins to howl. It’s another meltdown. While every parent faces this misery from time to time, there are some parenting routines that can make a difference. Perhaps the most important one of all? Your child’s bedtime routine.

The Importance of Quality Sleep

Did you know that lack of sleep is one of the factors that makes it harder for kids to manage their emotions? For a two-year-old, controlling feelings are hard enough! It’s even harder for your little one if she isn’t getting enough sleep at night. So, although it’s not easy to establish a bedtime routine, doing so is important not just for your child’s health, but for your state of mind, too.

Young Children Need Enough Sleep to Thrive

When young children don’t get enough sleep, they may be more irritable, hyper, or distracted. And often, parents suffer right along with them! What’s most troublesome is that these problems can multiply. Over time, sleep deprivation can cause more serious behavior problems, learning difficulties … even obesity.

In scientific terms, your child needs to optimize her natural circadian rhythms. Maintaining a consistent sleep routine is critical for positive “sleep hygiene.” A bedtime that is later than recommended may lead to your child waking up at night, waking up too early, or having trouble getting to sleep at all.

Sleep Requirements by Age

We regularly get questions about the best bedtime for children of different ages. While every child – and every home environment – is different, we can provide a few basic recommendations …  

1. Bedtimes Vary in Infancy

Newborns tend to set their own sleep schedule, and this is by design! Their little tummies can’t hold much, so they need to be fed every two to three hours. Circadian rhythms don’t emerge until a child is about four months old. New babies haven’t developed them yet, and so they may sleep in two- to three-hour spurts, as exhausted parents know all too well. By four months, however, children can begin taking brief naps during the day and going to bed earlier – between 5:30 and 7:30 at night.

In fact, a bedtime before 7:30 pm is recommended for kids up to age 3, as naps go down to one per day or eventually disappear altogether. Remember: your child needs sleep. You’re not a bad parent for setting an early bedtime and enforcing it.

2. Young Children will Test You; Stay Firm!

Toddlers naturally seek more independence. Plus, their active minds can interfere with the sleep you know they need. Even when the sun stays out longer in the summertime, your child needs a regular bedtime.

From age three to six, your child might not be taking afternoon naps any longer, but she still needs that early lights-out time to get enough sleep.  We recommend a bedtime between 6:00 and 8:00 pm. We also recommend no TV or electronics for children this young. Yes, it’s hard. But kids who depend on their screens at bedtime just don’t get enough sleep compared to kids who don’t.

3. School Age Children and Teenagers Need Limits, Too.

Children from age seven to twelve are more and more active. Their brains are learning a lot at school, and their bodies get worn out from play. At this age, kids will beg you for ten more minutes or ask to stay up later on weekends or over the summer. An occasional sleepover is fine! However, they should be getting to bed between 8:00 and 9:00 pm on most nights.  

Teenagers need more sleep than you might think. In fact, they need more sleep than adults. So, don’t be afraid to enforce a bedtime for your older child. Too many teens stay up all night playing video games or chatting on social media, which can hurt their performance at school. Be the “bad guy” and take those screens away from them overnight! It helps them get the extra sleep they desperately need, and it sets them up with healthy sleep habits in the future.

These Tips can Make Bedtime Easier

Like so many other aspects of parenting, making bedtime easier for you and your kids requires developing a routine and sticking with it. Allow for flexibility … your bedtime routine may last between thirty minutes to an hour, but it should start at the same time every night. Does this take energy on your part? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

   1. Make Sleep a Priority – and Bedtime a Predictable Routine

Children thrive on routines, and a bedtime routine is vital. Developing a nightly ritual in which your child knows to change clothes, brush teeth, and calm his or her body down for sleep can go a long way toward making bedtime stress-free. Add a special touch – like getting your child’s favorite toy or reading a story with her – to associate positive feelings with bedtime.

   2.  Set up a Cozy Environment for your Child

The sleep environment matters, too. Does your child have a quiet, dark room to sleep in each night? Even if your child shares a room, try to make the environment as calm, cool, and quiet as possible so that your child has an easier time going to sleep. Letting them sleep with an object familiar to them, like a blankie or a favorite teddy bear, can help provide them with security, as well.

   3. Final Dos and Don’ts

A snack is okay, but avoid sweets and anything caffeinated. Little reminders or advance notice – even if it’s as simple as “bedtime is in 10 minutes!” – can help your child prepare.

Finally, avoid the “one last” trap. Your child will inevitably ask for one last drink of juice or one last cartoon episode. Try to absorb some of these “one last” activities into the overall routine, and then hold firm, parents! Your child will be just fine without one last episode of My Little Pony.

Avoid the Summer Slump with Mary Margaret’s Summer Learning Programs for Kids

summer learning programs for kids

The last day of school is coming up, and like many parents, you may be wondering how to keep your kids occupied and entertained all summer. How will you keep them off their screens, off the couch, and actively engaged in constructive play?  

At Mary Margaret’s, we offer summer learning programs for kids because we believe that your child should develop all year long, not just during the school year. We provide kids with fun-filled learning activities to avoid the “summer slump” that can result in lost academic skills. Kids deserve an active summer, and parents deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing their kids are receiving compassionate care.

Why Summer Learning Programs for Kids are Important

Research shows that kids can lose skills in reading and math over the summer if their minds are not engaged in regular learning activities. This summer learning loss can cause gaps in your child’s achievement levels come September. To avoid setting your kids back a month or more, we recommend providing them with books to read and games that will keep their minds and bodies active.

Our summer learning programs demonstrate our education-focused philosophy. We believe that children learn best through active participation with their environment; to foster that, we provide materials and activities that promote growth in each child’s cognitive, social, and fine motor development.

For parents who don’t have the time or resources to take their kids on educational field trips or send them off to summer camp, our unique childcare system is perfect for your needs!

We are Professional and Caring — for Your Peace of Mind

Mary Margaret is a learning-based daycare solution, offering a variety of summer programs, as well as picnics and field trips. We can help keep your kid’s mind in shape for the next school year. Plus, our well-trained professionals offer compassionate care.

There’s a saying that goes around in educational circles: Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. We’re not just here to influence kids’ minds; we’re also intent on caring for kids’ hearts. We’ve learned that students who have great relationships with their teachers and caregivers are more successful socially and academically. We want our students to feel valued, no matter who they are or where they’re from. That’s why we provide a nurturing environment for kids of all ages.

Visit any of our Convenient Locations and Ask about our Summer Programs!  

With several locations serving the St. Louis metropolitan area, Mary Margaret is a convenient solution to your summer childcare needs. We are dedicated to promoting education and building self-esteem in a secure and comfortable environment. Whether you are interested in full- or part-time care, your kids will love our highly experienced and loving caretakers.

If you have questions about the programs we offer over the summer, please contact us.

Good Habits at the Dinner Table and Beyond: How Teaching Table Manners will Improve Your Child’s Social Skills

If you live with kids, you’ve probably seen it all: The relentlessly wandering toddler, the preschooler who talks with her mouth full of food, the kid who picks at dinner with her fingers instead of using a fork. As a parent it can be exasperating to teach your kids to behave at the dinner table, but it’s a necessary skill that can help them in the future.

To make your mealtimes fun for you, as well as your kids, it’s important to teach your young children good eating habits early and consistently reinforce them. Teaching kids table manners will improve their social skills overall.

What table manners does your child need to know?

There are a few basic manners you can teach your children as soon as they can sit at a table. These include knowing to wash their hands before they come to the table and to sit up nicely — no wriggling around, putting feet on the chair, or wandering during the meal. Your children should learn to say “please” and “thank you” and to use utensils instead of their fingers. Here are five more table manners to slowly introduce to your children as they mature:

  1. Wait until everyone is seated and served before eating.
  2. Use a napkin correctly —that means knowing how to put it in your lap and use it to tidily wipe your mouth.  
  3. Take little bites and eat politely — not slurping, smacking, or chewing with their mouths open.
  4. Use a knife and fork to cut food.
  5. Take turns listening and talking with “inside voices.”

Remember that kids aren’t born knowing how to make requests politely or offer to clear the table. These are things they have to be consistently taught.

Model and Reinforce to Help Your Child Master Table Manners

The most important thing to remember about child-rearing is that your children will model what you do. You have more influence than you think. If you model positive behavior and then reinforce it by repeating easy-to-follow rules and recognizing when your children follow these rules, you’ll make progress. Keep in mind, though, that it is a process; be ready to repeat yourself and demonstrate these skills over and over again.  

Also keep in mind that there are consequences if you don’t reinforce these skills. According to Donna Jones, who wrote Taming Your Family Zoo: Six Weeks to Raising a Well-Mannered Child, “if you don’t, you’re going to have to unteach bad behavior later on.”

So begin early and reinforce often. Your kids should view mealtime as a pleasant time, but a time when good manners are important. If your kids throw fits or behave rudely, have consistent consequences ready, such as a time-out away from the rest of the family. Getting ready for a holiday dinner or a trip to a restaurant? Go over the expectations with your children on the way.

Your kids want to succeed, and this reinforcement can go a long way toward making them responsible, polite young people. After all, good table manners are really just about having respect for others.

Teaching Table Manners: Worth it for Your Child’s Future

Good manners are worth the initial time and effort — and not just so your mealtimes can be blissfully free of food fights and screaming meltdowns. These social skills set your children up for the future.

Think about it: A kid who can sit still and wait patiently at the table is a little more ready to sit still and learn in a classroom. When a kid has clear rules and expectations, that kid can begin to gain confidence and thrive. Ultimately, teaching manners is all about curbing children’s impulsive nature and teaching them to practice self-control; they will learn how to be polite in social situations, not impatient or offensive. This will help them become better versions of themselves as they grow up and face more challenging social situations.

 

Five Family Friendly Activities in St. Louis To Try This Spring

image of the St. Louis Gateway ArchWe’ve had quite a winter here in St. Louis. There hasn’t been much snow. There’s been plenty of warmer temperatures. And just when it seemed that spring would finally take the weather reins from winter for good, we got another round of snow last week.

Indeed, this season has been anything but predictable, but how often is St. Louis weather consistent? Nevertheless, there will come a time when the cold temperatures scoot out of the area for good, and when they do, you and your family will want to get outside. To help you get started, here are five family friendly activities in St. Louis to try out this spring!

Spring-Time Family Friendly Activities in St. Louis

1) Forest Park

Forest Park is home to many free and paid family friendly attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Muny, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Jewel Box and more. With each of these locations providing its own immersive experience, you could literally spend every weekend throughout spring in Forest Park and never get bored.

2) The Arch

Not only is the St. Louis Arch an iconic monument in our grand city; it’s also a great place to let your kids experience the rich history of the Gateway to the West. When you go, be sure to check out the Arch’s recently renovated underpinnings filled with knowledge about what the Arch represents and how it came to be. Then snag a tram ride to the Arch’s uppermost bend so that your little ones can see how vast their city actually is.

3) The City Museum

The City Museum is the perfect place to let your child’s mind wander. Complete with outdoor and indoor exploration areas – from winding caves to scaling slides and a bus that “teeters” on top of the roof – the City Museum is the perfect place to let your child (and maybe even remind you how to) just be a kid.

4) Busch Stadium / Ball Park Village

The greatest baseball team in the nation deserves the greatest baseball-watching experience. Head down to Ball Park Village where your family can enjoy a quick bite at any of its famous restaurants. Once the game starts, hang out under the big screen inside or out on the front lawn. If you want to get an even closer look at the game, head into the iconic Busch Stadium and celebrate another redbird victory alongside the citizens of Cardinal Nation.

5) Ted Drewes

No matter which adventure from above you choose, top off your day with a cup of the best frozen custard on the planet! Ted Drewes is a St. Louis staple that’s been serving cool treats to eager consumers for more than 80 years! With a track record like that, you know this dessert must be special.

And more…?

So there you have it — our top picks for family friendly activities in St. Louis to do this spring. Is there a place you and your family like to go that didn’t make our list? Let us know on our social media channels. We look forward to hearing from you!

Is technology bad for kids?

image of a little boy using a smartphoneIn the age of smartphones and tablets – where us adults are constantly connected to text messages, social media updates and the vast expanse of information strewn across the web – it can be easy to place an electronic device in the hands of your child from time to time. While these devices serve as a great distractor to take your child’s mind off of less exciting topics, like traveling in the car, grocery shopping or waiting in a doctor’s office, how often have you stopped to consider how a smartphone or tablet is affecting your child’s development?

In this article, we’re addressing a new-age question that doesn’t have an easy answer: Is technology bad for kids?

What is “technology?”

Technology means many things to many people. For some, technology is a smart TV with Netflix and Youtube built in. For others, technology is a video game console. Others believe that their computer is technology.

To be completely honest, all of the above are true; these are all items of technology. For the sake of this article, the type of gadgets that your child can hold in his/her hands – smartphones and tablets – are the technology we’re referring to.

What does technology do to children?

Technology, when used responsibly, can help a young mind wonder and grow. Unfortunately, if your child is using a smart device to watch uneducational videos or play games, it may be preventing your child from branching out into other compelling aspects of life.

Technology and the Pathway to Addiction

As many adults have found out with the advent of smartphones and tablets: technology can be addicting. We love to feel connected to social media and apps and all of these other pieces of software designed to capture our attention. It’s easy to “fall down the rabbit hole” and spend countless hours on our devices each day. Why would a child be immune to these same flashy screens?

They’re not.

In fact, children tend to be lured into technology where their love for devices almost becomes instant. Children are drawn in to bright vibrant colors, attention grabbing sounds and making things happens – three characteristics many app developers build into their applications.

A Born Natural With Technology

Too often, we hear parents say, “My child is a natural with technology. He/she can use a smartphone better than I can!”

While on the surface, this may seem like a positive attribute for your child to have – a clear representation of how quickly your child picks up new things – there are inherent dangers with praising a child for being so good with a smartphone.

Positive vs. Negative Mental Stimulation

Children’s minds are in a continuous pattern of learning; they tend to absorb whatever is placed in front of them. If a child is given a smartphone so that he/she can play games or watch videos, the child will excel at using said phone. If a child is given a book to read or a puzzle to solve, he/she will excel at broadening his/her literary understanding and solving problems.

While some time with a smartphone can be beneficial to childhood development and play, it is also critical to ensure your child’s mind is being challenged and stimulated by resources that don’t come from a screen. Let your child turn a page in a book, feel a crayon in his/her hand, and build something with blocks. Let your child explore the world beyond the confines of a touchscreen.

How much time is acceptable for a child to spend with technology?

As you may have picked up from the last paragraph, this article is not a complete condemning of technology. We are simply suggesting that, like many things in life, technology should be used in moderation, especially when raising a child.

In order to keep a heathy balance between technology and other mental stimulants, we recommend for children to spend no more than 30-60 minutes each day with a smartphone or tablet. Taking this concept a step further, all smartphone time should be restricted to certain kid-friendly apps, like any of the educational options listed here. There is plenty of content on the app store that is not appropriate or beneficial for younger age groups.

Bottom Line on Technology

Smartphones and tablets can be great tools to learn with, but they can also cause intellectual harm if not used sparingly. By limiting your child’s technology intake, you are ensuring that he/she is able to connect with the world beyond these gadgets. This includes being able to learn and play with real-world items, engage in thoughtful conversation as the child grows older, and it encourages your child to get outside and stay active, even when a device is readily available.

As a parent, you have the power to mold your child’s success. Make sure he/she is spending more time in the real world than the ones designed on your devices.

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