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Helping Your Child Adjust To Preschool

A new school year can be hard on your little one, and for that matter – the parent! If you are new to this routine, and your preschooler is struggling with this adjustment, don’t worry – we’ve all been there. There are few things in life that are more difficult than leaving your child crying in the door of a classroom, even though in your heart and mind you know that this is temporary and necessary for all ages!  Take a look at these tips to help you and your child transition through this to a fun and healthy school year:

It Begins With YOU!
Believe it or not, if you haven’t prepared YOURSELF for this major change in your daily life, your child can and WILL pick up on this. Even if you are nervous (as you most of us are) make sure that you exude a sense of calm and confidence – and watch what you say to friends and family – especially when your little one is near.

Consistency Is Key
Children need to know what they are doing, where they are going, and what you are expecting of them.  Be sure to set up a routine – even for the youngest of the bunch.  This will not only ease the chaos in the household but will also boost awareness of the routine that is exhibited in the classroom.  Here’s a simple, yet effect morning routine that can easily be adapted to all age group:  eat breakfast together, prepare a lunch or discuss the school lunch menu for the day, set a spot for school gear and have each child gather their things, double check for any missing items, and happily leave the house for a day of learning and friendship!

Leave With Confidence
Once again, when you leave your child in the classroom, they can feel your anxiety. Be sure to hug and kiss your child goodbye, assure them that you will return shortly, and walk away without any lengthy goodbye. Don’t sneak out without saying goodbye, this only makes things worse.  You don’t want your child to feel abandoned or tricked. You also want them to know what to expect, including a loving goodbye.

One thing to remember is that kids adjust to new environments on different timelines. If you notice that your child is having  a harder time than the others – don’t worry, this process can take a few weeks. Let them adjust at their own pace, your gentleness and patience will help this life lesson be a wonderful experience.

 

How Does Smiling Affect Your Health?

If you type “smiling makes you…” into your search engine the results immediately give insight into why a simple smile is so contagious. The search results for the benefits of smiling includes “smiling makes you live longer”, “smiling makes you look younger,” and even, “smiling makes you more attractive!” But there is one health benefit at the root of a smile, making people live longer and look younger and that is happiness.

Happiness is a common goal that almost every human strives for every day. We seek it through our careers, finances, family life and hobbies, but there are many conflicting arguments about what true happiness really is and how we can best achieve it.
Not only does smiling release serotonin, the neurotransmitter connected to happiness, to create positive feedback and emotions, but studies show that positive emotions can lower a stress-induced heart rate increase (whether it’s authentic or not!) This means that by reducing your stress-symptoms with a smile, you’re also reducing the negative health effects that go along with stress, like high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue and a decreased immune system response.
So, the next time you’re in a stressful situation, put on a big smile! It doesn’t matter if you need to look at a funny video or photo, or force a smile that engages the muscles around your eyes and mouth – both will be effective in inducing feelings of happiness and help your health in the long run.
You can also use this knowledge to help others who may be feeling stressed or unhappy. Even seeing someone else smile can uplift our mood, but smiles are contagious, and someone else is likely to mirror your happiness with a smile in return!

Give Thanks By Giving Back!

During the weeks leading up to AND surrounding Thanksgiving, we are often focused on what we are thankful for, and to whom we wish to give thanks. But there are also other things we can give! November is a great time to look back on the year and determine who and what helped us throughout the months, but it is also the time to help others. Here are a few ways that you can give to others during the holidays:

Donations:
While you can donate to any organization year-round, the holidays bring more specific efforts give to children and families. Contact your local shelters, food banks and soup kitchens to find out what items they need at the moment. If you find your holiday schedule is too busy for local donations, many popular seasonal donation boxes for toys, canned goods or even spare change can be found at grocery stores and libraries for convenient drop-off.

Volunteer:
With all of those donations coming in during the holidays, organizations will need more volunteers to help with sorting efforts. If the volunteer roster is full at your local foodbank or soup kitchen, there are still plenty of ways to get involved- look for park cleanups, charity runs or animal shelters that always need extra hands.

Small Gestures:
Because we may tend to look for larger ways to give, we may forget about small gestures to help our friends and family during the holidays. Try bringing in treats to the office or your child’s teachers, or calling a friend who you haven’t spoken to in a while to check in. Sometimes the smallest acts can uplift and motivate those who really need it.

Words Do Make A Difference In The Success of Your Child

With the signs of spring breathing new life into the creation around us, this is the perfect reminder to cherish the good that surrounds us with POSITIVE words and behaviors – and there is no better place to start than as a parent. Parenting is a balancing act that requires control – often tangling with the fine line of encouragement and exasperation. Positive words that you speak over your kids can help instill confidence and control in your WHOLE family in both the short term and long term.

Words spoken can become meaningless when they are not exhibited in an action. However, words alone do have great power – both positive and negative. We can all make a choice to speak in a positive way to everyone around us – especially to our children and all young ones that we encounter throughout the day. This behavior is one that they will begin to imitate – even though they may not recognize they are doing so.  You never know how the words of encouragement that you speak today will affect your kids to carry with them for the years ahead.

Be intentional in the morning – and set aside specific words that you are going to speak to kids. Write them down if you have to, or simply use your favorite word of encouragement that brings a smile to YOUR child’s face – over and over again.  The more you can follow up these words with actions of affirmation – the more power these words will have. Have fun and spread the kindness beyond your home – you’ll be amazed at the goodness that will follow!

Coronavirus Procedure Update 3.18.20 – Student Uniform

Good Afternoon,

With the precautions that Apple Tree has put in place to limit the number of germs in our centers, we would like to take another step moving forward. We ask that your uniforms are washed between your shifts. I know that some of us may have limited amounts of work clothing and in turn, we have made an effort to lighten the uniform policy a bit during the next two weeks. You will be authorized to wear clean, laundered jeans as well as your regular pants throughout the week. This is to ensure you are in a clean uniform each shift. Green and Red Polo’s are still to be worn Monday through Thursday.

Kevin Thomas
Executive Director

Coronavirus Parent Update for Daily Procedures

Dear Parents:

We want to let you know of the steps we are taking to protect the children attending the center and the staff who care for them during the COVID-19 outbreak impacting our community and the country.

As always, if your child is ill, you MUST keep the child at home.

Beginning immediately, no child with a temperature of 100.4 or higher, or showing signs of respiratory symptoms will be allowed to remain in the center. We are also limiting access to adults other than staff to enter the building.

If a child becomes ill during the time he/she is at the center with a temperature or respiratory symptoms, we will separate the child from the other children by a distance of 6 feet or place him in a separate room if possible and notify you or your emergency contact to come take the child home.

In terms of general hygiene, these are other steps we will concentrate on and ask that you do also:

— Clean hands frequently with soap and water. Visibly dirty hands should be washed with soap and water.

— Teaching children to cover coughs and sneeze with a tissue or cough into elbow.

— Avoid touching the face with unwashed hands.

— Teaching them to avoid others who are sick, such as those who are coughing, sneezing, or have runny noses.

— Disinfect touched surfaces frequently including toys, door knobs, and handles, counters, rails, tables, etc.

If your household receives instructions on quarantine for a member who has traveled or is directed by the health department to self-quarantine due to illness, please notify the center so that we understand the situation and can work with the health department to help protect others.

This is a changing situation and we will have things to work though so we ask for your patience and cooperation as we work to protect our children and the community. Thank you for your cooperation.

Coronavirus Update – For Week of March 16, 2020

Dear Apple Tree Families and Staff,

As you are aware, the Governor of Virginia has issued an order to close the public schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia K-12 grades for a minimum of 2 weeks. As of right now, daycare centers and private schools are not mandated under this order to close. Should this order change then we will certainly keep all of our parents informed.

Our corporate office has been in direct contact with local agencies that govern daycare facilities as well as the Chesapeake Health Department. We have been advised to implement the following protocols in addition to Apple Tree’s daily operating procedures as they would benefit the well-being of the children, staff and parents in our programs:

TEMPORARY DROP OFF AND PICK UP PROCEDURES:

As of Monday, March 16th, all parents will need to drop off their child (Ages 16 months to 12 years) at the front door to a staff member who will be posted at the main entrance of every center. Managers will be working extended hours from 6am-6pm as well as additional staffing during AM drop-off and PM Pick-up times to assist parents. We recommend that you allow for extra time at drop off since this process could take additional time. In order to reduce the expose of viruses that are affecting the adult population causing this pandemic the protocol to limit the amount of parents entering the building is for the safety of the families and staff in our care. ONLY infant parents will be permitted to enter the centers to drop off their child directly to the classroom and will need to minimize the amount of time spent in the building. This will be a quick process of giving the teachers the needed food, supplies and information for each baby. The use of Procare Clock-In stations will be suspended during this time. Directors will manually maintain the attendance records of the children in each classroom. Please be aware of the drop off policy in the enrollment contract that states “there are no children to be dropped off past 9am,” as we will not be receiving any children after this time.

ATTENDANCE:

If your child is ill or if anyone in the household becomes ill please refrain from sending your child to school as it has been determined that the children can be carriers of the threatening virus. In addition, please let a Center Director know immediately if your child or any household member has been in contact or exposed to any individual who is contaminated or if you have traveled to an area of concern. We will be monitoring children and staff members for signs of illness and strictly enforcing our sick policy. Please remember we do not have an area for quarantine; therefore, if you are contacted for a sick child pick up please do so immediately.

SANITATION:

Our maintenance team and faculty are working hard continuously throughout the day to ensure all commonly touched surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. The cleaning contractors are also taking extra proactive measures at night to ensure proper sanitation of our buildings.

HAND WASHING AND PERSONAL HYGIENE:

Teachers will continue to practice good hand washing and personal hygiene procedures with children to limit the spread of germs in the classroom.

PARENT PAYMENTS AND QUESTIONS:

Parents who are not on ACH or Auto-Draft need to use the MyProcare portal to pay tuition during this time. If additional assistance is required please contact your Center Director for direction or to make arrangements for payment. If you can not reach a director by phone please feel free to email them as the phone lines have been extremely busy due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

Please know, we understand this is not the ideal process for pick up and drop off. In order for Apple Tree to continue to operate and provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our Apple Tree family members we must take drastic measures to protect from further possible spread of illness or closure. We appreciate your support and know that you join us in wishing the best for everyone in our schools and community and will work as a partnership to get through this together.

Childcare is available all day for school age children affected by any public school closure. More information on special programming and pricing for the school-agers will be sent out by each center as they plan in-house activities for the children to enjoy.

We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed. Please continue to pay close attention to the IRIS Alerts as that will be our primary communication to all parents and staff.

Blessings to all,

Heidi Riden, CEO

Coronavirus Update From ATLC CEO

Dear Apple Tree Families:

As you may be aware, the first cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been identified this week in Hampton Roads. According to the Virginia Department of Health, the immediate risk from COVID-19 to the general public in Virginia continues to be low. Apple Tree Kids is committed to the health and safety of our students and staff and we would like to share how we are preparing for the possibility that the virus could make its way into our centers.

We have many protocols in place due to the cold and flu season, which we will continue to implement and can increase if needed. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) we are:

– Monitoring student illness reports, trends and absenteeism
– Working to limit the spread of diseases whenever possible by paying extra attention to commonly-touched surfaces (door knobs, faucet handles, etc.)
– Reminding our students, staff and school community of the importance of good hand-washing procedures
– Reviewing response plans, making necessary adjustments as information becomes available.

As travel restrictions and associated actions like self and mandated quarantines are changing daily, we are strongly encouraging any of our families with travel plans over Spring Break to notify your Center Director of their travel plans and destinations so we can monitor and advise of any restrictions before returning to care at Apple Tree.

In situations like these, rumors may cause unnecessary reactions and panic. We encourage you to get information from credible sources, such as the Virginia Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the local Health Department.

We are committed to keeping you informed and will provide email updates as new information becomes available. This is a good time to update your contact information with your child’s Center Director, as we will notify you using our Parent Alert System if there is a change to our daily operations. A closure could result if recommended by local and/or federal agencies deeming it necessary to confine an outbreak or require deep sanitizing of childcare centers. We will follow any recommendations or mandates as directed by the CDC and local Health Departments.

As we partner with you and our community to meet known and unknown challenges, we are committed to keeping the channels of communication open and doing all we reasonably can to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our students, staff, families, and community.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding any medical or health issues, please feel free to reach out to your local health department.

Sincerely,
Heidi Riden
CEO

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Focus On Food Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 48 million Americans fall sick each year from foodborne illnesses, many of which can be avoided. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to prevent you and your loved ones from coming into contact with germs that cause food poisoning. The CDC breaks its plan for preventing foodborne illnesses into four categories: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean

Keeping a clean workspace can prevent germs from spreading throughout the kitchen. Clean your countertops and sink after meal preparation with a cleaning spray, and wash knives, cutting boards and other utensils thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Be sure to rinse fruits and vegetables under running water before eating. This includes fruits or vegetables you intend to peel, as rinsing them will reduce the amount of bacteria on the produce. And, of course, wash your hands prior to cooking and before you sit down to eat.

Separate

When purchasing raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs, keep them apart from other food items, both in the grocery cart and in your refrigerator at home. Use plastic bags offered at grocery stores to prevent juices from contaminating ready-to-eat groceries. While cooking, use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils when dealing with raw items.

Cook

Get to know your food thermometer—it’s the only reliable way to determine if the food you are cooking has reached a safe internal temperature. For a complete list of safe internal food temperatures for meats, poultry, seafood, leftovers and more, visit www.foodsafety.gov. When thawing foods, do so in the refrigerator, in the microwave or by cold water thawing. 

Chill

After a trip to the grocery store, refrigerate perishable food within two hours of purchasing (or within one hour if the outdoor temperature is more than 90˚ Fahrenheit). Keep your refrigerator set at or below 40˚ Fahrenheit and your freezer at 0˚ Fahrenheit. Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate within two hours after cooking. Eat your leftovers within a few days and never keep any leftover food for more than one week.

Enjoy A Heart-Healthy Valentines Day

Healthy Valentines Day

This Valentine’s Day show your heart some love! February is American Heart Month—a time to raise awareness about heart disease and what people can do to prevent it. When making your plans for Valentine’s Day, choose foods and activities that are good for your heart so you and your loved ones can reap the benefits.

Research restaurants before making reservations. A romantic dinner out with your sweetheart is a popular way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Be sure to look at the restaurant’s menu prior to making a reservation and find a few dishes that are both tasty and good for your heart. Look for nutrient-rich foods like leafy, green vegetables, whole grains or fatty fish (salmon, mackerel or tuna, for example).

Better yet, cook at home. If a crowded restaurant isn’t your scene, break out your cookbooks (or do an internet search) to find a heart-healthy meal to cook at home. By making small changes in your cooking, like choosing skinless poultry or fish, low-sodium foods and sauces and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, you can create a meal that’s good for your heart in no time.

Moderation is key. Enjoy a glass of wine or a flute of champagne, but don’t go overboard. The American Heart Association recommends no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.

Dig into a heart-healthy dessert. There are many Valentine’s Day desserts that are heart-healthy! Berries are a top contender; find them in cobblers, parfaits or even just dipped in chocolate. When it comes to chocolate desserts, opt for dark chocolate as it contains more antioxidants and minerals and (usually) less sugar than milk or white chocolate.

Take an after-dinner stroll with your loved one. Get your heart rate up after dinner by taking a walk for 20-30 minutes. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week for adults. Take advantage of your time together and do something that will make you both feel great.

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