Austin Kids' Directory Blog

Home Safety for Kids: A Parent’s Guide

Home Safety for Kids: A Parent’s Guide

Making your home a safe place for your children is a priority, but it can be a big job; if you take a look around, there may be dozens of hazards you never even thought of before, from the cords on your window blinds to that plant in the corner with toxic leaves. Depending on how old your child is, he or she could be facing dangers in every room of your home, so it’s imperative to know what to look for and how to prevent injuries.

The best way to get started is to walk through your home and make a checklist. Look at everything from a child’s point of view; in fact, it might help if you sit on the floor and look around -- especially if you have a baby or toddler -- to see what they see. Otherwise, you might miss the extension cords snaking out from behind the television stand or the bookshelf that would be so easy for a toddler to pull on top of himself once he starts climbing.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your child stay safe at home.

Start in the Kitchen

The kitchen is often one of the busiest rooms in a home, and as such, it can potentially hold the most hazards. From sharp knives to hot stovetops, this area requires supervision when your children are in it, along with some prevention tactics. If possible, remove the knobs from your stove when it’s not in use, or buy knob covers that prevent them from being turned. Always turn pot handles inward so they aren’t sticking out when on a hot burner. Keep knives up and well out of reach of little hands, and turn down the temperature on your hot water heater to ensure that no one gets burned if they turn on the wrong knob when washing their hands. For more great tips on how to make your kitchen safer, read on here.

Secure all Furniture

Many toddlers like to explore, and once they get the hang of it, they tend to climb on things: the couch, the bed, bookshelves, and even bureaus. Secure all furniture with anti-tipping devices -- these are typically strong nylon straps that are screwed into the back of the item on one end and secured to the wall on the other -- so that if your child does get the notion to climb, he won’t pull the heavy piece of furniture on top of himself.

Use Foam Bumpers on Sharp Corners

If you have a coffee table with sharp edges, a fireplace with a brick hearth, or kitchen counters with too many corners, look for foam bumpers that can be placed all along the sides for padding. For a pop of color in a play area, you can cut a foam pool noodle in half and use double-sided tape to secure it. This will ensure that your child won’t take a tumble and suffer a head injury.

Secure All Cords

Electrical cords can be a shock hazard, while the cords that control your window blinds can be a choking hazard. Secure all cords and keep them well out of reach of your child. Cover all electrical outlets with safety plugs, and don’t forget about extension cords and surge protectors.

Making your home a safe place for your child can be a big job, but it’s an important one. Go through each room carefully and make a list of all the things that need to be taken care of, from removing plants to setting up a baby gate to prevent your child from going up and down the stairs. With a good plan and careful attention to detail, you can ensure your home is safe and comfortable for your entire family.

* Article provided by Wendy Ross at

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Adults Learning to Swim

Adults Learning to Swim

More than a third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which puts them at risk of being one of the 10 people who drown every day in this country.

In the Austin area, we have lots of creeks, lakes, rivers...and programs like triathlons and swim meets...that are available for adults to participate in year round. It is an important life skill to be able to swim comfortably...and an exercise you can turn into a fitness activity.

It's important to find the right program for you. Make sure you visit the company, talk with the instructors and see others taking lessons to make sure you will be in a safe environment and with a knowledgeable instructor.

Here's some techniques on how Waterloo Swimming teaches Adults how to swim:

Technique #1

Discover their swimming background, goals, fears, & reason they decided to take lessons now. Adults bring with them a lifetime of experiences and knowledge with them to the swim instruction setting. Whatever their swimming background, it’s rooted in experiences that lead up to this point in time. We visit with each adult to understand what their background is and assess their immediate comfort both around and in the water. We might have lessons for adults who are training for a triathlon competition or adults who have never been in a swimming pool, river, lake, etc. It is important to know their background to provide the upmost safety for the student and the instructor.

Technique #2

Design the swim lessons plans according to the goals, skills, & timeline of the adult. Once we understand the adult’s swimming background, we tailor their lesson plans according their goals. The instructor should outline the swim lesson plan to the adult with clear objectives and realistic timelines. It’s essential to “get on the same page” with the adult’s swimming goals to tailor the instruction for maximum success. This creates a roadmap that the instructor and adult can use to provide feedback on progress.

Technique #3

Talk to adults as adults and let them know “why.” Once in the water and instructing, we make sure we talk to the adult – as an adult. Like any other situation, adults want to be treated as such. This sounds straight forward, but I’ve seen instructors fall back to “kid instruction” which can frustrate and insult adults. Keep the conversation moving by asking them “how did that feel” after the student attempts a skill. As well, tell the adult “why” they are about to try a skill so that they understand. Adults will comprehend what’s working and what’s not working …so, explain it to them.

Technique #4

Use various learning methods when instructing adjusting to the adult’s learning style. It’s important to understand how each adult learns best – whether it’s visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. We start out using auditory cues to describe the skill the adult is to attempt, following up with a visual example when necessary. For example, we use the term “Starfish” when asking the students to float on their backs to describe the position we want our student’s body in. Sometimes, it takes showing what the “starfish position” looks like in order for the student to understand what we are looking for in the skill. Finally, use kinesthetic techniques or physical motions to supplement learning. For example, the instructor may need to get behind the student and hold on to his feet/ankles to assist proper freestyle kicking motion.

Technique #5

Don’t tell Students what they are doing wrong, tell them what to do to correct what they are doing wrong. Correct maximum impact issues first. Keep instructions simple and short. Don’t give long lists of instructions or paragraphs of words to think about when they swim. Focus on one, two or three issues at a time such as: “PUSH OFF HARD, STREAMLINE, KICK SMALL”. We watch the student swim, give them feedback, ask them to swim again.

Technique #6

Be patient and flexible when implementing lesson plans. Be flexible with the game plan on teaching. Look and listen, watch the adult’s motions and emotions, pay attention to their disposition. How are they following instructions? Determine how teachable the student is. Some learn quickly, others might take more time. The timeline may need slow down or speed up to make sure they learn the most important lessons. For example, we had one adult trying to learn the correct breaststroke kick position… she tried and tried, becoming frustrated. We took a break from practicing it by doing something completely different. She tried breaststroke again in the next lesson performing it correctly.

Technique #7

Homework…it’s not just for the kids. Some adults have access to alternative pools where they can practice skills learned with you. Map out drills and techniques for them to practice between their swim lessons. Make sure the drill is either practiced in the lesson or easily understood. Remind them never to swim alone or in unsafe water.

Technique #8

Positive experience. Teaching swimming to a person any age is a rewarding experience. Watching a toddler learn to float or a child swim across the pool for the first time is always exciting as they are learning the skills for survival and swimming for fun. While teaching adults is not necessarily in the fore-front of the learn-to-swim industry, it can be an amazingly rewarding experience for both the instructor and the adult. We use positive motivation to encourage our students’ progress and we see their swim skills advance.

As an instructor, these techniques will help ensure a good swim lesson experience is had by both the instructor and the adult. We utilize these techniques and our “tool belt” of drills and skills to continue building on the fundamentals of swimming. For adults looking for quality swim instruction, investigate the swim school/instructor’s philosophy on teaching adults to see what their techniques are in their swim program.

For more information, visit us at

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Planning a Learning-Infused Children’s Party

Planning a Learning-Infused Children’s Party

Searching for creative ideas for your child’s upcoming birthday party or milestone celebration? Why not try something new this year and feature children’s books. Incorporating a dose of literacy learning into party planning can be easy; and, a great way to support an interest in reading and books.

As a language arts teacher turned event planner, I strive to integrate reading into children’s events I host. Whether a birthday party, community gathering, or childcare service, kids will find quality children’s literature at the center of the fun. Why? Reading is one of the most precious gifts we can offer. When we model a love for reading, we inspire a magical, lifelong relationship with stories.

Planning a literacy-centered children’s party can be enjoyable and beneficial for all. As a starting place, select an age-appropriate children’s title that presents an engaging party theme. A child’s most cherished reads work well for the initial brainstorm. Popular, best-selling titles also make great choices, as pint-sized party guests will likely have some insight into the characters, plot, and theme you’re going for, overall.

These lively, fan-favorites lend themselves nicely for a great theme party!

1. Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman (Bug/Insect Party)

2. Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin (Pizza Party)

3. Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell (Superheroes vs. Villains Party)

4. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (Dance Party)

5. It Came In the Mail by Ben Clanton (Dragon Party)

6. A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (Unicorn Party)

7. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (Art/Coloring Party)

8. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems (Monster Party)

9. The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (Undersea Life/Ocean Party)

10. Is That Wise, Pig? By Jan Thomas (Farm Animals/Cooking Party)

Once you’ve decided on a title, consider the following party planning tips:

Use the book as a party ice breaker for a crowd of little ones with a fun, interactive read aloud. Read the story with expression and enthusiasm, add props, encourage movement, and invite the audience to repeat verses or sing along with the characters.

Conduct follow-up activities such as making crafts, playing games, or listening to children’s music related to the story.

Use the book as a centerpiece at each table, and encourage youngsters to chat about their favorite characters and parts of the story.

Have the story double as an autograph book and invite guests to sign or write a celebratory message.

As a party favor, gift your child’s guests with a copy of the book to take home for further enjoyment. Better yet, summon your child to compose a special message, or illustration if a prewriter, on the inside covers.

Instead of purchasing a gift, propose guests donate to a local Austin charity that supports early literacy, such as Literacy First.

In need of additional book suggestions? Consult the Austin Public Library’s “We Recommend” tab at and peruse the children’s lists categorized by age, grade and genre. As well, the Texas 2x2 Reading List, sponsored by the Texas Library Association, names great titles for children age two to second grade. Some titles can be downloaded for free by clicking here. For slightly older children, the Texas Bluebonnet Award list, also compiled by the Texas Library Association, is a stellar resource aimed at grades 3-6. You can find the 2018-2019 list here.

Good luck, and here’s to building a community of enthusiastic, lifelong readers!

For more information on literacy centered children’s parties, events, and childcare, visit the Spunky Kids Website, connect on Facebook and Instagram @spunkykidsco, or call 512.914.8060.

This article was written by Carly Ferguson, owner and operator of Spunky Kids Austin. She is a toddler mom, certified Texas literacy teacher, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s and Adolescent Literature from The Ohio State University.

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The 2018-19 Childcare and School Guide is Here!

The 2018-19 Childcare and School Guide is Here!

One of the most important decisions parents have to make concerns the care and education of their children. The Austin Kid’s Directory helps parents find out what is available in the Austin metro area by publishing and distributing the annual Childcare & School Guide. The latest edition is now being distributed!

This guide is organized by area making it easy to find childcares, preschools and schools in your neighborhood or close to work. You will also find information about enrichment activities, after school care, drop in child care, tutoring and more.

Take a look at the new 2018-19 online edition of the Childcare and School Guide by visiting our website!

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Lemonade Day is Coming to Austin

Lemonade Day is Coming to Austin

The West Austin Chamber of Commerce has announced the upcoming date of Lemonade Day Austin, taking place Saturday, May 5th. Lemonade Day is a free, fun, experiential learning program that teaches kids how to start, own and operate their very own business – a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day has spread to over 67 cities in 23 states and three countries. Lemonade Day Austin’s goal is to register 1,000 youth who in turn will start new businesses all across Austin - on a single day.

“The West Austin Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring together a community of support to make this year’s Austin Lemonade Day a meaningful experience for everyone involved,” said Morgan Briscoe, president of the West Austin Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve worked hard to be able to welcome children, parents and organizations across Austin to register for this free, educational and fun event. We look forward to working with all of our partner organizations to help our young entrepreneurial Austinites prepare for lemonade stand success on May 5 and beyond as our future business leaders.”

Each child that registers receives access to an online interactive program, Lemonopolis, that teaches them the valuable lessons of Lemonade Day - including how to set a goal, make a plan, work the plan and launch their first business. Once a participant earns enough to cover the cost of expenses, just like in real life, they keep their profits. The average profit per Lemonade Day stand in 2017 was $224 with many earning more. Lemonade Day encourages kids to spend some, save some and share some of their earnings—teaching additional lessons in money management and social responsibility.

Anyone and everyone can be involved in Lemonade Day. Young entrepreneurs with lemonade stands need mentors, investors, business partners, great locations, and customers. Sponsors and volunteers are also needed to make Lemonade Day a success. Austin Lemonade Day’s 2018 City Champion is Cole Alredge, vice president of AV Capital. The event is sponsored by HEB Grocery and a group of generous local Austin area families and individuals with additional support from Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and a select group of graduate students at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.

To find out more information or to register for Lemonade Day Austin visit: and follow Lemonade Day Austin on social media at or @LemonadeDayATX.

The West Austin Chamber of Commerce represents West Austin business while supporting its local communities and leaders of tomorrow. For more information about upcoming events and membership visit or call (512) 551-0390.

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