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Positive Words Do Make A Difference!

With a new year upon 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!

Holiday Giving Is The Perfect Lesson In Love

The holiday season is the perfect time to teach our children the beauty of giving back to others. At a time when so many people are focused on getting something – why not take a moment to guide your children in the merit and blessing of giving!

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Bake As A Family. Although having kids in the kitchen with mixers, cookie dough and measuring cups filled with powder may not be the most care-free option for a mother – this time together can be the best time for bonding and may even turn into a family tradition! As a family, deliver these cookies to your neighbors, your local fire and police station, and even have some packaged at the door for the frenzied postal and delivery drivers who are working hard to get your packages to you on time for the holiday season

Sponsor A Family. There are local organizations that can help you find a family that needs your help this holiday season. Include your children in buying gifts. Let them pick out what “they think”is the best gift idea – and you can supplement these choices with those that you believe are needed and will ensure the holiday is filled with joy for this family in need.

Help The Homeless. Even though this is the time of year when many organizations focus on the homeless community, you can pack gift bags for your family to hand out during your daily travels. Choose practical items such as socks, gloves, hats, snacks, water bottles, gift cards for food and some interesting items that will surprise them! This is something that can be done all year long – your kids will really enjoy doing this – and hopefully it will become a tradition with their own family.

Four Ways Your Child Can Help YOU Prepare For The Holidays!

The holidays can bring a lot of cheer to the home, but sometimes stress can enter the door now and then as well! The holiday activities tend to get a little tougher when the children are out of school. When there’s too much to do and not enough time, it’s time to get the whole family pitching in to lighten the load. Kids are often so excited and eager for the big day that they’ll gladly help with chores. We’d like to help you with some ideas to “de-stress as you prep” this Christmas season.

1. Clean Their Room
The holiday season is a time for entertaining family and friends. This is the perfect time to have your children clean their rooms, as well as clear out all clutter to make way for new toys. This chore includes the cleaning out closets, clearing out under the beds, and taking care of any items that are not being used. This task may require guidance from an older sibling or a parent. Use this as a time to encourage generosity, thankfulness, and let them choose to donate items to local shelters for families in need.

2. Create Christmas Cards
Now is the time to get out the art supplies! Gather the kids around a table and talk about all of the people in your lives that are so special and would love to have a personal card delivered. Encourage your youngsters to make holiday cards for their own sending to friends and family. If you have some pretty card stock or construction paper with markers and stickers – this can become quite an exciting “chore” for children of all ages. If this it too much – why not have your children help you stuff envelopes and give them a lesson on where a stamp is placed on an envelope as well as return address labels. This is something most kids don’t know, and will benefit from this teachable moment!

3. Create Gift TagsBright Colorful Modern Christmas Children Family Party Table Pla
A homemade gift tag makes every gift that much more special. Gather up your art supplies and show your kids hows to create a simple or fancy gift tag. You will need construction paper, kid-safe scissors, a hole punch, twine or ribbon, markers, stickers and even glitter (if you can handle the mess!) The gift tags can be cut into all sorts of shapes and sizes. Let their imagination go wild…You can never have too many gift tags!

4. Help With Light Cleaning
When you have company coming over, it can be fun to involve the whole family as a cleaning crew to prep the home for the new arrivals. Children of all ages can be given safe tasks for cleaning. In fact, even the littlest in the bunch will enjoy the task of putting things back where they belong. Let them help dust, sweep, wipe down counters, and straighten the pillows on the couch. With everyone working together to make the house tidy, you’ll get the work done faster. Kids usually enjoy pitching in to help with these important holiday chores, too.

When you include your children it not only lightens your own load, but it gets them involved and makes them feel like they are a part of the whole holiday process. There are many teachable moments when you work together, and when kids feel important and needed – the holidays get that much brighter!

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:

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.

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.

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:


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Heidi Riden

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