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New Year’s Resolutions for a Safe Home

As you plan your resolutions for 2021, keep home safety top of mind! Often home safety to-dos get lost in the shuffle of everyday life and never end up completed. This January, create a detailed plan to tackle inspections and updates to ensure a safe home for your family. Get out your calendar; it is time to make a plan to keep your home safe in 2021.

  • Change air filters. Air filters should typically be changed once every three months. If you have one pet, change the filter every two months, and if you have more than one pet or a family member with allergies, change your air filter every month. Since this is a regular task, make a note in your calendar now to remember to change the air filters on time.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested every month to ensure they are in good working condition. Unless your detectors have long-life batteries, replace the batteries once or twice a year, which is usually recommended around daylight savings time in the spring and fall.
  • Clean your dryer vent. Dryer vent pipes should be cleaned at least once a year for both safety and efficiency purposes. Block off an afternoon to complete this project yourself or make a note to call a professional to clean the vent for you.
  • Conduct an electrical audit. Once a year, do a thorough check of all electrical components in your house. Look for damaged wires, check outlets and ensure your breaker panel is free of debris.
  • Review your homeowner’s insurance policy. When it comes time to renew your homeowner’s insurance policy, do not just write a check and forget about it. Take the time to read the document and make any changes necessary in your coverage. 
  • Prepare for emergencies. Update emergency contacts restock your first aid kit and make sure flashlights have working batteries. Do not forget to review and practice your fire escape plan with your family as well.

Six Tips To Reduce The Holiday Stress

What is the most wonderful time of the year for some, can be the most stressful time of the year for others. From gifts to baking to family events, life can quickly become very chaotic during the holiday season. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Take a deep breath and make an active choice to have a stress-free December this year.
Set your priorities. Ask yourself and your family members what they look forward to the most during the holidays. Prioritize those activities and consider forgoing others that cause more stress than joy.
Make time for exercise. Exercising increases energy, helps you sleep better and reduces stress and tension; all important factors during the holidays. Plan ahead to ensure that exercise has a spot in your schedule so you will feel your best all month long.
Create a budget. Money can be a big stressor during the holiday season. Once you’ve determined your gift giving budget, stick to it. Make your money go further by checking store websites for discounts or by using a coupon app on your smartphone.
Don’t be afraid to say no. Whether the activity is too much for your holiday schedule or outside of your COVID comfort zone, it’s ok to say no. Practice kind ways of saying no that will express your gratitude, but firmly communicate that you are unable to accept the invitation.
Take a break from social media. In real life, not everything is as perfect as it appears on social media. By reducing the amount of time you spend on social media sites, you will be less likely to compare yourselves to others and create unrealistic expectations.
Take care of yourself. The holidays are a time when we continually give to others, but don’t always take care of ourselves. Pick something that makes you happy—a meal from your favorite restaurant, a manicure or a relaxing evening in front of a fire—and make it a non-negotiable this holiday season.

Give Thanks By Giving Back

Amid the hardships of 2020, there have been shining examples of people putting others first all across the country. Local communities have come together to support each other during these trying times. With Thanksgiving at the end of the month, now is the perfect time to give thanks by giving back.

 

Treat someone to lunch.

Remember when your neighbor helped you clean up after that big storm? Or a teacher went out of his or her way to help your child? Surprise them with a gift card to a local restaurant or a delivery service to show your thanks. Not only will they enjoy a free meal, you’ll also be supporting a local business.

 

Send a card or write a note.

Go old school and get out a pen and paper to send a letter to someone for whom you are grateful. You don’t have to write a lot; even a small note of thanks can help to brighten a person’s day, especially when they aren’t expecting it.

 

Volunteer your time.

Time is the most precious gift we can give. Find a cause that is near to your heart and find a way to volunteer. Many socially-distant volunteer opportunities are available, like packing meals for food-insecure families, providing online tutoring and homework assistance, or checking in on senior citizens in your neighborhood.

 

Shop local and share on social media.

Small businesses took quite a hit this year, yet many rose above and continued to provide services and goods to their communities. Give thanks to the shops in your neighborhood and buy local this holiday season. Even better, share what you love most about them on social media to show your support.

 

Donate blood.

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This year in particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we should never take our health for granted. If you are in good health, show your thanks by paying it forward and donating blood for those in need.

 

Five Habits of Emotionally Healthy Families

In difficult situations, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to manage emotions for both children and adults. By focusing on the emotional health of your family, you can help each individual express themselves in a constructive way and forge a path forward to grow as a family. Incorporate these habits into your daily family life to build a strong emotional foundation.

 

  1. Treat each other with respect. While everyone agrees that children should respect their parents, adults should also show that same respect back to their kids. Modeling this behavior at home will set up expectations for how kids treat others—and how they expect others to treat them—in the future.

 

  1. Share feelings, both positive and negative. The family home should be a safe space for members to express what they are feeling, from happiness and excitement to anger and sadness. When it comes to the negative feelings, acknowledge them and then work together to find appropriate ways to address any underlying issues.

 

  1. Seek out each other’s opinions. For each member of the family to feel valued, they should have the opportunity to express their opinions. This includes expressing their thoughts on mundane things, like what’s for dinner, and on big decisions, like a family vacation. Actively listen to all opinions and consider them (as much as you can) in your choices.

 

  1. Celebrate the big accomplishments and small victories. Cheer on your family members as they succeed in their endeavors, whether it be a good grade, learning to ride a bike or a well-earned promotion. By recognizing your family members’ achievements, you can show your support as they build their self-esteem.

 

  1. Accept each family member as they are. In a family, you see the best side of each member, as well as the worst side. Everyone has imperfections and makes mistakes. Showing your unconditional love to your family members will fill their emotional buckets and help your family grow in trust.

Set Yourself Up For Success With A Healthy Breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but not all breakfasts are created equal. In order to reap the benefits from your morning meal all day long, aim to eat a balanced breakfast that includes whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and fruits or vegetables. Eating all of these foods together in the morning can help set you up for success throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can:

• Aid in weight loss. By eating the recommended combination of food groups in the morning, you’ll fuel up your body for the day ahead. When you skip breakfast, you are more likely to make poor food choices later in the day and overeat. Eating breakfast also boosts your metabolism and gives you more energy, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.

• Increase your focus. When you “break the fast” each morning with a balanced meal, your blood sugar levels stay in check, making it easier to focus on tasks at hand. Studies have shown that eating breakfast increases productivity, creativeness and memory, one of the reasons why breakfast is so important for school-aged children.

• Keep your heart healthy. Research shows that people who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Skipping breakfast has been linked to obesity, insulin-sensitivity and high cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

• Ensure you get your daily amount of vitamins and minerals. Eating a balanced breakfast puts you well on your way to getting the recommended vitamins and minerals each day. Breakfast foods typically contain high amounts of calcium, vitamin B, iron, protein and fiber. Those who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their daily recommendations for vitamins and minerals than those who don’t.

No matter how you eat it—rushing out the door in the morning or while leisurely reading the daily paper—be sure to treat your body right by having a healthy breakfast to start the day.

The Screen Time Balancing Act

The appropriate amount of screen time for children has been a hot topic of conversation for years. Now, with so much of children’s socializing, learning and entertainment accessed online, parents are adjusting their screen time rules to adapt to the new normal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screen time for those under 24 months, with the exception of video chatting, and allowing no more than one hour a day for children ages two through five. For all other ages, the AAP guidelines focus on healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship. Even though your children may be spending more time in front of a screen, the basics from the AAP remain the same.

Guide your children to appropriate content. Whether it’s an app, website or television show, know what your child is viewing. Sit down together and create a list of approved screen time activities. Even better, watch or play with your child to share your experiences and answer any questions.

Set screen time limits. While the right amount of screen time may vary among children, a schedule is helpful for all. Set aside a specific time of day or certain amount of time for your children to watch the latest YouTube unboxing or play games. Avoid screen time before bed so it doesn’t interfere with sleep.

Understand that not all screen time is equal. Participating in distance learning or connecting with friends and family by video chat is more productive than zoning out while watching a television show. In today’s world where opportunities to socialize are limited, the benefits of face-to-face interaction are a positive result of screen time.

Educate your children about online dangers. As children spend more time online, it’s extremely important to talk to them about the dangers of the internet. Children should be aware of online bullying and the potential for internet predators, including how to spot these behaviors and what to do when they see them. For teens in particular, parents should emphasize the importance of protecting their privacy while online.

Inclement Weather All Centers Closing – Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Dear Apple Tree Families,

The National Weather Center has updated the status of Tropical Storm Isaias. It appears that the storm will increase speed overnight and will be a Category 1 Hurricane when it hits land. It is projected to reach the Hampton Roads area as a Category 1 and will not diminish in strength until approximately 8am tomorrow.

Due to the strength of the storm and potential threat for power outages, all Apple Tree Learning Centers will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday 8/4/2020.

Any summer camp events scheduled for tomorrow, such as the Game-On Bus will be rescheduled for next week.

Thank you for your understanding as we all prepare for this weather event.

Sincerely,
Apple Tree Kids Executive Team

Virginia Back To School Tax Free Weekend is August 7-9th!

The 3-day sales tax holiday starts on Friday, August 7 at 12:01 am and ends the following Sunday (August 9th) at 11:59 pm.

What is it? 

During the sales tax holiday, you can buy qualifying school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products without paying sales tax.

What items are eligible?

Detailed lists of qualifying items and more information for retailers can be found in the 2019 Combined Sales Tax Holiday Guidelines.

Languages: The Beauty and Benefits of Multiple Voices

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 60 million Americans, or 20 percent, speak a language other than English at home. In total, approximately 430 languages are spoken in homes across America. As the number of people who speak one or more languages continues to grow, researchers are able to study how being bilingual or multilingual impacts society. Their conclusions are clear: speaking more than one language has many benefits.

 

  • Knowing more than one language is good for the brain. Research has shown that young children who are exposed to more than one language have increased executive function in their brains; that is, they are better at performing complex tasks, multitasking and monitoring their performance. For older people, speaking more than one language is also helpful, as it can delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms by four to five years.

 

  • Opportunities for work increase for those who are bi- or multilingual. Being able to communicate with others throughout the world and throughout your community is a valuable employee trait. Job seekers who speak more than one language are more competitive in today’s diverse work environment and can often garner higher earnings than those who speak one language.

 

  • Speaking in a native tongue makes for more meaningful travel experiences. When traveling abroad, those who speak the language of the country they are visiting have more access to hotels and activities, as they are not limited to those that accommodate foreigners. Often travel can be less expensive—and more authentic and rewarding—with these options.

 

  • Being bi-or multilingual opens up one’s world. Speaking in multiple languages allows people to do more than just communicate; it allows them to truly connect with one another. Language is the gateway to learning about other cultures’ traditions, history and viewpoints and leads to increased understanding, empathy and friendship. Knowing more than one language can broaden a person’s perspective, allow them to see the world through new eyes and express themselves in a different way.

Important News – Summer Camp 2020 Registration Forms – Due by June 11

We are so excited to blast off into Summer with “To Mars and Beyond!”

Summer Camp starts June 15th! As many of you are aware, the Governor has allowed our state to enter Phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening process. All centers are still restricted with capacity allowances, limitations on summer camp programing as well as enforcing social distancing and good hand washing/hygiene practices in the classroom environment.

With that said, spaces in the Summer Camp programs will be limited. If your child’s center is full then we will try to assist families with openings at other Apple Tree locations nearby. Remember we have 4 locations in Chesapeake and 2 in Suffolk.

As of right now, we are not permitted to schedule field trips since there is no way to provide social distancing on the vans. Therefore, we have been working diligently with our vendors to provide the children the same field trip experience here at each center. Camp Calendars will be sent out on a monthly basis so that we can adjust the events for possible future fields trips as the Governor continues to make changes to the restrictions with each phase of reopening.

Attached you will find the forms that need to be printed, completed and returned to the center director by Thursday, June 11th. We are sending the forms out electronically to decrease the amount of contact as possible. The forms include:

1- In-House event permission slip
2- Sunscreen Authorization Form
3- June Activity Calendar (This is for you to keep)

All students ages 6 months old to 12 years MUST have completed forms on file in order to have sunscreen and participate in the events. Please make sure you return the forms by June 11th.

If you are unable to print these forms, please speak with a director for assistance.

Additional Phase 2 restrictions that we need to make you aware of:
1- Children 4-12 years old are allowed in group sizes of 20 with 2 teachers.
2- Children 3 years and younger are limited to a maximum of 12 individuals per group to include children and teachers.
3- Children and staff in childcare are not required to wear masks.
4- Parents who enter the building for any reason MUST wear a mask. Your temperature will be taken and you will be asked to wash your hands. If you are sick or show any symptoms of illness you will not be permitted to enter the building.
5- Curbside drop off and pick up procedures will remain in place.
6- Water play is limited to sensory tables. No pools or water features.
7- Outdoor play times are required to be increased throughout the day to allow for the children more exposure to fresh air.

We will continue to keep everyone posted as updates become available.

Thank you for your assistance and support during the pandemic. We appreciate all of our families and hope that everyone is continuing to stay well.

Sincerely,
Apple Tree Kids

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