Austin Kids' Directory Blog

Holiday Camps in the Austin Area

Looking for camps over the break this holiday season? Here's some ideas to keep the kids entertained!

Fantastic Magic Camp

Soccer Shots

Sportball

The PAC

The Golf School

Mad Science

West Austin Youth Association

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5 Ways to Make Your Home Safe for Your Child with Special Needs

5 Ways to Make Your Home Safe for Your Child with Special Needs

Until you’ve had a child with special needs, you may not think about the potential hazards that could exist inside your home. The good news? With a few modifications, you can help ensure your child stays safe. Below, we highlight five ways to make your house suitable for a child with special needs.

1. Avoid hanging heavy objects on walls. If your child is prone to overexcitement, you may want to rethink what pictures or decorations you hang on your wall. Flailing arms and feet might knock items off the wall if it’s not screwed in, resulting in an injury to your child or someone else.

2. Bolt large items of furniture to the wall. For parents with children who like to climb, a dangerous situation awaits if large furniture like bookshelves and armoires aren’t bolted into the wall.

3. Move chairs away from railings. Stools or chairs situated near staircases could be a recipe for disaster. While it’s impossible to remove chairs from your home, you can place them away from dangerous heights.

4. Install locks on medicine cabinets. This could easily be a rule of thumb for any parents. Curious children may open a cabinet where medicine is stored and identify the pills or tablets as candy. Avoid the situation completely by making it impossible for children to do their own cabinet exploring.

5. Put dangerous items away immediately. Knives, blenders, cheese graters—anything that could cause potential harm to your child if they got their hands on it should be put back in its place as soon as you’re done using it. Since side conversations or telephone calls serve as constant distractions, it’s important to remove these items from your child’s reach before you forget to do so.

As any parent knows, keeping your children out of harm’s way is a nonstop responsibility. With these tips, however, we hope your job just got a little easier.

Beth Rubio is the Chief Clinical Officer for Atlanta-based Aveanna Healthcare, the largest pediatric home health care company in the country. Operating in 23 states, Aveanna is the parent company of Epic Health Services, which has three locations in Austin.

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Back to School Decluttering

Back to School Decluttering

Keeping the kids and their stuff organized is a challenge for any family. They are constantly growing and their favorite toys, games, and characters seem to change monthly. We have to keep up with the clutter so it doesn’t take over! What do we do with it all? There are two main choices: Sell or Donate. We are going to go ahead a toss the crusty play-doh, the chocolate stained dress that will never be white with delicate blue flowers again. There are still lots of clothes, book, shoes and toys left.

Garage Sales:

Many people think of garage sales as the way to sell what they purge. You get to choose how organized you want to be. Leave it in boxes, hang all the clothes, pre price each item or quote prices as you go. Shoppers who drive around are looking for super low prices and the less organized you are, the lower your price expectations should be. You will need to set aside a sunny Saturday, make signs and negotiate prices in your front yard. Whatever is left can be boxed up for donation…. Just don’t let it back in the house.

Consignment:

Another option is consignment. Since kids can usually only wear clothes one season, there is a huge demand for kids’ clothes and toys through consignment. Consignment Stores usually give you prices by the box or a percentage increase if you accept payment in store credit. They set the price and because they have the overhead of store rent and employees, their price per box of clothes can seem low. Stores usually pay you about 25-30% of what they can sell it for. You don’t need to organize or price your items and once you’ve dropped off, you are done. No need to worry about the weather or hoping people come out to your front lawn. Because they have store fronts, you have many opportunities to drop off your items as you clean out your toy boxes and closets. You can always take the clothes they don’t accept straight to the donation drop.

Consignment Events give you more flexibility in selling if you have some time to prepare. Events allow you to inventory and price your items. Once you drop them off, events can offer them for sale to thousands of local families for 3-5 days and give you a chance to earn a higher percentage if you volunteer to help run the sale. Events usually give you between 60-75% of what your items sell for. You don’t have to worry about negotiations since everything is tagged and out for sale anonymously. If you are looking to fill the closets with clothes that fit your kids- shopping early is one great perk of being a consignor. You get to see everything that has been brought in before the event opens to the public. Most events will donate your unsold items or you can pick them up to transfer to the next event. You can even pick unsold items up and donate them for a tax credit- you already have your inventory list for the tax form.

Donation:

One of the easiest options is always donation. If you itemize on your tax return, you can keep track of your donations for a tax credit. Keep a list of the number and type of items and the second hand price for your tax forms. When you donate, you can take some steps to insure your donations really help your charity:

Tie shoes together- single shoes are trash at charity drop offs. Keeping them together makes all the difference and saves volunteer time.

Bag small toys- the Little People boat is so much more fun with the pirates! Grab a grocery bag for the small parts and tie it onto the main piece.

Keep like items together- while you shouldn’t keep clothes on the hangers (they get tangled and rip clothes), if you bag all of your girl clothes together, they are presorted for the charities.

Throw out the trash- charities spend so much money and donated time sorting through items that can be used again. Toss the skates missing a wheel or the toy that is cracked making it dangerous for little hands.

Recouping some of the money you’ve invested in your children’s outgrown clothes and toys is truly a motivator to roll up your sleeves and attack the clutter. A little organization as you go can make any one of these options easier and your home much easier to live in.

Are you ready to clear the clutter and get some cash back into your pocket? There is still time to sell at the Fairytale Threads Children’s Consignment Event (www.fairytalethreads.com) or come out and shop September 14, 15 & 16 at 1420 Toro Grande in Cedar Park.

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Creating Creativity

Creating Creativity

Creating Creativity
By Bernadette Noll

We want our kids to be creative and so we buy them all kinds of craft kits and maker kits. It’s true these kits are designed to help our kids create, but they are not designed to encourage our kids’ creativity. Usually the kits are designed to make one thing and one thing only, with implicit instructions on how to do so. This is fine if you want to make one thing and one thing only, but why teach our children to merely assemble a product when we can teach them to dream up something unique?

How then can we provide our kids a make/craft experience that will truly foster creativity? What if we’re not creative ourselves? How can we allow them to interpret the materials using their own ideas and ingenuity without getting in their way? It’s easy really. Way easier than trying to control it! And when we get out of their way we will be amazed at what they come up with.
To get you and your family started, here are four simple steps for fostering creativity in your house or classroom:

1.       Have simple tools handy. If we give them the tools, they will build stuff. To get them started on many projects have a small “maker” tool box handy. This can be kept in a cigar box or other small box that is easy to grab. The easier it is to grab the tools, the more likely it is they will be used and the easier it is to clean up! Some basic ideas: glue, decent scissors, a hole punch, a large-eye plastic sewing needle, and a glue gun if you are working with older kids.

2.       Provide the materials. Put an assortment of materials in a box and give it to a child. The container will make it feel like a kit, but the materials inside will get them pondering all the possibilities as seen through their own brilliant imaginations. It is said that childhood is the time our imaginations are the most vivid, and if we don’t use our imaginations then, we never will. We can foster imagination by staying away from instructions and instead providing open-ended materials that will allow their minds to wander. Some ideas for your creativity box: fabric sample book, wall-paper sample book, sheet protectors, colored cardstock or scrapbook paper, a ball of string or yarn, cut-up pieces of corrugated cardboard, burlap, buttons, chop sticks or kabob sticks, embroidery floss (I recommend the pearl style floss that can’t be separated and is easier for little hands to work with) and some type of simple fasteners such as brads. All of these things and more can be found at Austin Creative Reuse for less than $2.00 total! If you’d rather stay at home, search around for items you could use such as scraps of denim, magazines, the plastic coated postcard mailers, snaps cut from a discarded garment, old keys, or items pulled from the recycling bin.

3.       Let go of the outcome. If you have an outcome in mind, feel free to offer it as a serving suggestion but then step back and let your child go wild. If you really can’t let go of the outcome, sit down and make it yourself but stay away from dictating your child’s project. By sitting down next to them and working on your own stuff, your child will be inspired by both your ideas and your own desire to create.

4.       Have fun. If you can’t let go, walk away. If you’re not finding it fun, walk away. Creativity should be fun, not stressful so do whatever it takes to set yourselves up for success. Work outside if the mess makes you wiggy. Cover the table with a drop cloth if you can’t take your eyes off the glue dripping out of the bottle. Close the door if you feel triggered by the chaos. Whatever you do, keep it fun.

Make a field trip to the Austin Creative Reuse Center the first step in your family’s road to creativity! Come solo or bring the kids. You’ll be amazed at what you find. If you need ideas for projects or materials, just ask! Both the employees and customers at Austin Creative Reuse are happy to share ideas and inspiration. Check out the website for hours and project inspiration: http://www.austincreativereuse.org

Bernadette Noll is a writer, maker, mother and the education outreach coordinator for Austin Creative Reuse. If you have questions about projects or ways to bring Austin Creative Reuse into your classroom or school, email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Plan for College Early!

Plan for College Early!

Plan for college early and save yourself a headache later!

Too often families come into our office during their child’s senior year to discuss college admissions and the planning process. “Where do I start?” they ask. My answer, “Years ago.”

We all look at our little ones and imagine their bright futures; successful, happy, educated, and cultured. We all want the best for our children, and this typically includes obtaining a college education to serve as the backbone for their future success. There are several actions we can take now, when our students are young, to prepare for a smooth and successful transition into college. Actions that benefit both them and our wallets in the long run.

Build on your student’s strengths and aspirations. The core of college prep begins with guiding your student to explore their interests and think about their own strengths. Focusing their extracurricular activities on these areas encourages students to set the bar high for themselves and think abstractly about areas for improvement.

Start saving ASAP. According to the College Board, tuition and fees at four-year public institutions have increased by 51% in the last decade (adjusted for inflation).* What does this mean for you? Start saving yesterday. 529 plans in particular are operated on a state level and are specifically designed to assist families in setting aside money for college funds. These plans offer federal advantages and also may be eligible for state tax deductions. The best part is that grandparents or other contributing members can also gift to an existing account.

Talk about the big picture. As your youngsters begin to have the ability to select their own language, science, and math courses, make sure that they see the big picture. Have a discussion with them to explain how taking challenging courses now impacts their path through high school. When children see rigorous courses as opportunities rather than requirements, they become more engaged in their own learning and school in general.

College Nannies + Sitters + Tutors is the nation’s most respected, complete and professional resource helping busy families raise smart, confident, well-adjusted kids. We’ve been a part of the Austin community since 2007, and have helped hundreds of busy parents carve out time for themselves with a sitter, have help on hand with a part-time or full-time nanny, or get their college bound student the tutoring they need to succeed. For more information, check out our website or call us at 512-372-8385.

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