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Your child, your caregiver, and the internet: Setting house rules about online safety

By Kristen J. Duca

03-01-18 Manhattan Family Internet article by Kristen

Everywhere you turn, you hear debates surrounding kids and technology usage. Every family has different rules and boundaries relating to technology, but most agree that technology is not going away, and it is best to teach our kids how to navigate it safely early on.

The internet has amazing advantages as it relates to children who explore it in a safe manner. Numerous creative, user-friendly, inexpensive (sometimes FREE!), and unique websites exist for children to gain expertise in certain areas, explore new territories, or further their education in specific subjects. Today’s children can use the internet to do everything from honing their culinary skills to exploring countries across the globe to learning another language to perfecting their math facts.

However, parents are not always around to patrol their child’s usage of technology, and the policing inevitably falls into the hands of caregivers. It is a terrific idea to clearly communicate your expectations surrounding technology in your household upfront to both your caregiver and your child. A few house rules to think about as your child navigates the internet include:

• Do not download attachments or install software without the supervision of an adult.

• Do not agree to meet with people you interact with online.

• If you notice anything online that makes you uncomfortable, bring it to the attention of an adult.

• If someone asks to meet you in person, ignore the request and alert an adult immediately.

• Never give out any personal information or details about yourself, family members, or friends (including name, address, phone numbers, age, school, camp, extracurriculars, teams, photos, or passwords).

• If you use a public computer, make sure you log out of all accounts you accessed during the session.

• Be careful of any screen names you create and make sure these names do not include any of your personal information such as your first or last names.

• Do not compromise other people’s online work or accounts.

• Do not bully, gossip, or post anything inappropriate about anyone online.

• Be mindful of your tone if you post online comments.

• Never post your image or personal video clips online (those of your friends, family members, and acquaintances are off limits as well).

• Beware of minimum age limits on many social media websites and respect them.

• Avoid clicking online ads and pop-up ads, as they can contain viruses or expect you to provide your personal contact information.

• Understand that not everything you read online is true or accurate, and if you are conducting school research online, you should ask an adult (teacher, librarian, or guardian) for respectable websites to use.

• Limit your usage of the internet and be aware that spending time in person with friends or family members is the best way for you to socialize.

• When in doubt, grab an adult for guidance, advice, and supervision.

Whether you print a list of rules and post it to your refrigerator, or create a technology contract signed by all (you, your child, and your caregiver), you will want to be forthcoming about the importance of online safety. Clearly state to your caregiver that your end goal is to make sure your child is protected when he is online under her supervision while you are not present.

You may also want to make it clear to the caregiver that you do not want any personal information or images about your family posted online in any capacity for privacy concerns. Additionally, if your child brings a friend home, you should tell your caregiver that you expect her to relay your house rules regarding technology to him so everyone is on the same page.

Bottom line: it is important that parents and caregivers work together to teach children about safety and responsibility as it relates to technology. Remember, technology will be a big part of our children’s lives for years to come!

Kristen Duca and her husband are the parents of two girls in New York City. She has served as a contributing writer for New York Parenting and Long Island Special Child magazines, and she’s author of “Ultimate Nanny: How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny,” which is available on amazon.com. She blogs at ultimatemama.com.

Posted 12:00 am, March 3, 2018

03-01-18 Manhattan Family Internet article by Kristen

https://www.nyparenting.com/stories/2018/3/communicating-to-child-caregiver-internet-rules-2018-03.html

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Internet Safety/Supervision and Your Caregiver’s Role

By Kristen J. Duca

Sept17-InternetSafetyArticle-SI Parent-KDuca

As a parent you should make sure your childcare provider supervises your children at all times, no matter their age. Additionally, if you allow technology around your children it is critical that you stress the importance of your childcare provider being nearby to monitor the usage.

Children of all ages need adult supervision, and that is what you are paying a childcare provider for each day. Tell the childcare provider that it is unacceptable for her to leave your child unsupervised. One quick lapse of judgment may result in harmful consequences. Children can be very quick. The caregiver needs to exercise good judgment and make sure she watches your child at all times.

It is also important to note that you will want to communicate to the caregiver the importance of supervising all online or Internet communications. If the older child has to finish a homework assignment, the caregiver should carefully monitor the child’s progress and make sure he or she does not veer to an unsafe or inappropriate website.  Internet safety tips for both your caregiver and your children may include the following:

  • Never share personal information (the child should not share his or her name, age, address, phone number, e-mail, pictures, gender, activities, clubs, or school online).
  • Do not share log-in details or passwords.
  • Do not click on pop-ups (especially inappropriate messages, pictures, and advertisements).
  • Understand that once something is posted online it will not go away (including comments, pictures, and so on). So it is important to resist the temptation of posting online as things may come back to haunt the child (innocent or not).
  • Know that not everything one reads online is true.
  • Realize that when in doubt or danger in an online capacity, the child should always ask an adult for assistance.
  • Be respectful online, and be mindful of cyberbullying, unpleasant tone, and gossip.
  • Never arrange to meet online “friends” in person, as the child could be put in a highly dangerous situation.

Your caregiver should also realize that the Internet is a powerful tool, and never post pictures, messages, or comments about your family online. Communicate that you want your family’s privacy respected and not to mix your family’s personal business with social media interests.

Obviously, there are many advantages of the Internet, but it is important to teach your child and remind your caregiver to avoid the pitfalls.

If your family is comfortable with the caregiver and child using the Internet together, perhaps suggest they work on a long-term project that the whole family can enjoy. One idea is to have them take digital pictures of the child’s old art projects and create a photo album of the artwork that can be printed and ordered as a keepsake. Another idea is to gather all of the child’s favorite recipes and create a family cookbook.

Using technology can be educational, valuable, and fun…..as long as it is done in a safe manner!

By Kristen Duca, author of “Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on amazon.com.  Kristen and her husband are the parents of two girls in New York City. She blogs at ultimatemama.com.

Sept17-InternetSafetyArticle-SI Parent-KDuca

http://www.siparent.com/digital-magazine-september-2017/

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Child Care for older children

By Kristen J. Duca

08-2017 Manhattan Family article KD Child Care for Older Children

I am sure you can remember a time in adolescence when you challenged parental authority, thus showing your desire for independence. The age when parents feel comfortable leaving a child alone is quite personal and varies on a family-to-family basis. It not only depends on the maturity level of the child but also on the environment the child is growing up in. However, some parents with older children feel they need the security of a childcare provider to help them during after-school hours. Those parents who work may need a full-time childcare provider to help the child get off to school in a timely manner and to be there for any school closings, holidays, vacations, or schedule changes.

As you analyze your childcare needs for older children, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can my child get to school with us or by himself/herself?
  • Would a chaperone be a great asset to our household?
  • What is our family plan for school closures (scheduled holidays and vacations as well as unscheduled snow days, illnesses, or other surprise issues)?
  • Does my child go directly to after-school activities that he or she can walk to, or is a helper needed to get him or her safely from one place to another?
  • Does my child need help or encouragement with completing homework assignments, or is my child self-sufficient?
  • Could my older child benefit from having a buddy or a mentor?

Some parents hire a nanny or sitter for older children just to give their children companionship and themselves piece of mind. Because a caregiver to an older child does not have to be burdened with diaper changes, feedings, or tummy time, parents may want to consider hiring someone the child respects yet can view as a friendly authority figure. Ask any potential childcare candidates if they have experience taking care of older children. Additionally, make sure they are comfortable with taking older children to school and various activities in addition to supervising them in the home.

Parents should clearly define the caregiver’s roles and perhaps even discuss caregiver responsibilities with the older child so that everyone is on the same page. Together, the parent and child could come up with a road map detailing how the caregiver’s hours are spent. This way, the older child feels a sense of independence for acting as a critical member of the caregiver selection process and may not be as resistant to an extra household helper.

Some caregiver’s responsibilities you may want to consider and evaluate when interviewing a caregiver for your older child are listed below:

Homework Help

  • Is the caregiver willing and able to monitor the child’s completion of his/her homework each day/night?
  • Will the caregiver teach the child good homework habits? Here are examples of habits to teach:

1. Completing assignments in a quiet place without distractions like phones or electronic devices

2. Focusing on the task at hand with short study breaks (complete with healthy snacks) when needed

3. Managing stress when solutions do not come easily

  • Can the caregiver review the child’s work for errors or suggestions?
  • Can the caregiver quiz the child for upcoming tests?

After-School Transporting

  • Will the caregiver be able to get the child to and from school and extracurricular activities in a safe and timely manner?
  • Does the caregiver drive?
  • Is the caregiver comfortable using various means of public transportation with your child (buses, trains, subways, ferries, and so on)?
  • Is the caregiver willing to walk with your child to and from school or activities?
  • Does the caregiver know the geographic area you live in well?
  • Can the caregiver follow street directions accurately?
  • Will the caregiver ensure your child gets to his or her destinations safely and on time?

Other Chores

  • While the child is at school or busy with an activity, will the caregiver tackle household chores such as light cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and laundry?
  • If the child selected some quick, easy, and healthy recipes, would the caregiver be able to make them for lunch or dinner?
  • If you provide the funding, will the caregiver run household errands such as picking up the family’s laundry at the dry cleaners, returning library books, dropping off packages at the post office, selecting birthday gifts, or picking up groceries while the child is not at home?

Creative Activities

  • Does the caregiver have ideas of creative activities to engage the child in when there is a lull in the schedule, including exposing him or her to something new? (Examples include knitting/crocheting, cooking, playing music, making art projects, visiting museums, building models, and so on.)
  • Parents may want to purchase inexpensive and easy craft projects or a craft idea book to keep in the home for the caregiver and child to do together.

Extracurricular Activities

  •  Can the caregiver keep the child off of electronic devices by encouraging him or her to read, play a board or card game, or engage in a healthy physical activity?
  • Will the caregiver engage in sports with the child?

New York-based working mother Kristen Duca and her husband are the parents of two girls. She has worked in the financial services industry for two decades in addition to serving as a contributing writer for New York area publications.  She is the author of “Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on amazon.com now.

08-2017 Manhattan Family article KD Child Care for Older Children

http://www.nyparenting.com/assets/print/manhattan/2017_08_mf.pdf

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Unique child-care arrangements that allow for more flexibility

By Kristen J. Duca

Article appeared on pages 12-13 in the March 2017 issue of Manhattan Family magazine (NY Parenting)

It is not out of the question to ask a potential childcare candidate if she would be willing to share a full-time schedule with your family and your friend or neighbor’s family.

This arrangement can work as long as each family gives the caregiver set days and hours.

More and more, people with children are working flexible schedules in order to strive for a desirable work-life-family balance. With work schedules that allow for flexible hours, parents may neither need nor want a caregiver on a full-time basis.

However, many caregivers still desire a full-time schedule along with the appropriate compensation to match.

In an attempt to satisfy the caregiver’s needs, some parents decide to hire the caregiver on a full-time basis even though they do not necessarily need a caregiver for so many hours.

The parents use the additional hours that the caregiver is in their home looking after their child while they are not at work to run errands, exercise, prepare meals, engage in housekeeping, meet up with friends, shop for household goods, and so on.

Here are a few ways parents are making child-care schedules work for them and the caregivers:

Caregiver shares

If your budget allows you the luxury of employing a caregiver for additional time to give you a chance to take care of personal errands, relations, or issues — then by all means, do it.

If you do not have the financial means to employ a caregiver for extra hours or if you want to spend the time when you are not at work alone with your child, then consider a caregiver-share arrangement.

If you have a friend or neighbor who desires a similar child care situation, you can jointly evaluate whether both families’ hours provide the caregiver with enough hours and income to satisfy her needs. Obviously, you will have a problem if the hours both you and your friend desire overlap.

If you do not have a friend who also desires a caregiver share, then you may need to do a little bit of researching and networking to find someone you could work with in a caregiver-share situation. Have an idea of what hours and days you need the caregiver to work for your family before you start your search.

Rotating caregiver arrangements

Some families desire “rotating caregiver” arrangements that enable them to employ more than one caregiver for their children.

These families do not like the idea of hiring one caregiver exclusively for the entire week. They do not want the caregiver to get bored or overtired.

As a result, they hire a few caregivers who desire part-time or flexible work schedules with the hopes that each caregiver will show up to work fresh and energized.

Additionally, they believe that their child may learn more by getting various perspectives and experiencing different activities.

It is important to make sure the caregiver candidate is receptive to a rotating-caregiver situation. While some caregivers welcome a flexible work schedule, others prefer a more traditional workweek.

You do not want the caregiver to feel like you do not think she is capable of taking care of your child on a full-time basis. You may need to explain to her your philosophy on rotating-caregiver arrangements.

Moreover, you do not want to get into a situation where the caregiver feels jealousy or resentment toward you, your family, the other caregivers, or your child.

Caregiver organization

Additionally, if you employ multiple caregivers, then remember that organization is of utmost importance. You will want to clearly communicate the exact hours and days each caregiver will work each week.

Whether you create a master calendar or a detailed spreadsheet of hours that you need coverage, you will want to make sure the caregivers know exactly when they will take care of your child. This will prevent any mistakes such as both caregivers showing up for work at the same time.

Also, take into consideration the vacation days and holidays that affect your caregivers as well as your family.

If you work together as a team, the arrangement should be positive and beneficial to all involved.

New York-based working mother Kristen Duca and her husband are the parents of two girls. She has worked in the financial services industry for two decades in addition to serving as a contributing writer for New York area publications.  She is the author of “Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on amazon.com now.

03-01-17 The Perfect Fit – NY Parenting March 2017 article published

http://www.nyparenting.com/assets/print/manhattan/2017_03_mf.pdf

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Appears on care.com

In my new book Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny which is on Amazon now (by Kristen J. Duca) I help parents and guardians navigate the childcare search in an organized manner.

The key to finding a great childcare provider (whether it be a nanny, sitter, or companion) for your child is to sit down and analyze your family’s foundation. There are many aspects to your family’s day to day life that you will want to consider before starting your childcare search.  Taking the time to examine the composition of your family in the initial stages of your search will pay off in the end.

It is my belief that the groundwork toward building a stable childcare situation depends on the following:

 

  1. Your child/children: Think about their ages and developmental stages. Will there needs change over time? If so, how?
  2. You/your partner: Discuss both your work and social schedules. Figure out what days and hours you actually hiring a childcare provider for right now. Think about if you have flexibility in the hours you need childcare help.
  3. Your family: Analyze your household structure and examine if you are hiring solely for childcare services. Perhaps, you need assistance with housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, pet care, and errands in addition to childcare.
  4. Layers of help: Writing down a list of emergency contacts is essential for all parents. Consider your surroundings and determine if there are capable, motivated family members or friends nearby who can help you out from time to time.

https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Nanny-Interview-Manage-Important/dp/1530492041/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487865805&sr=8-1&keywords=ultimate+nanny

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Childcare bliss – How to select the right caregiver for your family

By Kristen J. Duca

Article appeared on pages 18-19 in the February 2017 issue of Manhattan Family magazine (NY Parenting)

Selecting a caregiver for your child is one of the most important decisions many families will make. Whether you need childcare because you are returning to work, craving some time to yourself, or spending some time with your significant other, you will want to find the ideal caretaker for your child. Below are a few tips to help you navigate the nanny search:

One size does not fit all

A multitude of childcare possibilities exist for you to consider, and of course there are pluses and minuses to each of them. Just remember that you are in the driver’s seat and can choose the path that best fits your family’s needs. Hiring a caregiver to look after your child is a very personal decision. Every family has its own dynamics and unique views on parenting. Feel secure and confident in your child-rearing decisions.

Be patient

Do not rush the childcare search. Finding the ideal person to take care of your little one will take time and patience. It is important to be prepared and detailed in your search. Finding the ideal caretaker for your child requires a lot of time and hard work. However, if you put the effort into the search up front, you will be rewarded with the result.

Lay groundwork

Laying the groundwork toward building the ideal childcare situation is critical.

Formulating a clear description of your childcare needs now will save you loads of future frustration. You can zero in on exactly what type of situation you need to make sure your household runs smoothly and happily.

The ideal or “perfect” childcare situation depends on you and how specific you are in recognizing and expressing your needs, as well as on how your family spends its time. It is important that before you start your childcare search you set aside time to sit down and ponder what it is that you are hiring for and develop interview questions based on your needs.

Interview candidates thoroughly

Always remember to conduct a thorough interview and check references. You will want to conduct interviews (by phone, in person, or via webcam) with potential candidates in order to screen them through a series of questions. You need to ask prospective candidates the right questions in order to narrow down your list and eventually pick a suitable nanny for your family.

If possible, try to interview candidates in person so you can see their immediate reactions, facial expressions, and overall poise. These interviews do not have to be conducted in your home. You can always meet up at a local diner or coffee shop or get together at another mutually convenient location such as a library or bookstore.

Be reasonable

Be aware of what assistance you are asking for, and make sure it is reasonable. To put it bluntly, if you are not willing or able to do it all, then your childcare provider should not be expected to either.

Childcare providers are not superheroes. They are humans who have strengths, weaknesses, and feelings, just like you. As a rule of thumb, it is generally never a good idea to ask your childcare provider to do tasks that you cannot handle yourself.

Understand that your childcare situation will evolve

As your child changes or your family dynamics change, your childcare needs will change. These childcare needs will constantly evolve as your child blossoms through the stages of life. It is important to realize that you are not pigeonholed into the first childcare situation you created at a specific point in time.

A situation that works for your newborn child will likely need to be scrapped, tweaked, or revised as your child starts school. You may have to realize that expecting the unexpected and having the ability to be nimble is crucial to formulating the right childcare situation at any given point in time.

Go with your gut

You may luck out and hire the first nanny you meet, or you might have to interview several candidates. Everyone has a different experience, but if you are dedicated to the childcare search, you will find the best candidate for your family.

Always go with your gut, and trust your instincts.

Trial

Suggest the nanny candidate you are interested in start working with your family on a trial basis so you can ensure you find the right fit for your family.

A trial period of a few days, a few weeks, or even a month is a good way to find out if your nanny’s personality and style fit well with your family’s. Remember that a happy child makes for a happy parent!

BIO: New York-based working mother Kristen Duca and her husband are the parents of two girls. Kristen has worked in the financial services industry for two decades in addition to serving as a contributing writer for New York area publications. She is the author of “Ultimate Nanny: How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on amazon.com now. Get the inside scoop on how develop the right criteria, identify, and select the ultimate nanny.

02-01-17 Childcare Bliss – Manhattan Family-KJD article

http://www.nyparenting.com/assets/print/manhattan/2017_02_mf.pdf

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Finding the right caregiver for your special-needs child

By Kristen J. Duca

Article appeared on pages 18-19 of the Long Island SPECIAL CHILD Fall-Winter 2016-2017 edition (NY Parenting)

Finding the ideal caretaker for your child requires a lot of time and hard work. However, if you put the effort into the search up front, you will be rewarded with the result.

If you have a child with special needs, behavioral issues, or health/medical concerns, you should communicate that to the childcare candidate in the initial conversation. Ask her directly if she is comfortable taking care of a child with certain needs. If she is at all hesitant or expresses concern about her abilities, then she may not be the right fit for your child, so move on to the next candidate.

Depending on your child’s situation, you may want to focus on hiring a caregiver with experience in dealing with children with special needs and preferably someone who has taken care of a child with similar issues to yours (realizing that all children are unique). Parents of a special-needs child will want to use extra due diligence to find a childcare provider who could appropriately care for their child with patience, maturity, and compassion.

Additionally, since family safety is important realize that conducting a background check on the childcare candidate as well as checking references may be a good idea for your piece of mind.

Here are some important things to look out for when hiring a caregiver for your special-needs child:

Formal Certifications or Degrees

You will want to evaluate whether or not a childcare provider with a medical background or advanced educational degrees is the ideal hire for your situation. If it is then target your search accordingly by networking via word of mouth (friends/relatives); referrals from other parents or childcare providers who understand your situation; special needs support groups; university bulletin boards or college newspapers; local medical or special needs schools; physicians’ offices; birthing centers; nurses; health-care workers; community or religious centers; agencies (be prepared to pay appropriate fees); or online childcare-service providers. Understand that depending on the situation you may need to pay more for a highly skilled childcare provider.

If you do not feel a childcare provider with a formal educational history is necessary you still should make sure the candidate is willing to sharpen her basic skills. Some local doctor’s offices, hospitals, or community groups offer classes in childcare (sometimes with a focus on special needs), child safety, first aid, or CPR on a regular basis. If the candidate lacks formal training, you should ask her up front if she would attend a class or session and offer to pay her tuition.

If the candidate took childcare, child safety, first aid, or CPR training a long time ago, then see if she would be willing to take a refresher course. Tell her that you would be happy to sign her up and compensate her for any fees. Let her know that the class could be taken at a time that would work with her schedule. Make sure she realizes that refresher classes are a great way to reinforce information and techniques that she might have previously learned.

Ability to Nuture

During an interview, it may be hard to judge if the childcare candidate is nurturing. If you have a young baby, then toward the end of the interview, hand the baby over to the candidate and watch how they both respond. Watch her interact with your baby, and take note of her demeanor. Make sure you feel comfortable with the way the caregiver supported your baby’s head and neck. Take note if the caregiver seems gentle or tender. Notice if her movements seem natural.

If you have an older child, you should ask the candidate to interact with him or her by playing a game, doing a project, or participating in a favorite activity with the child. Once again, see how she acts around your child and evaluate whether she would be a good fit. Notice if she tried to engage your child in lively conversation. If the child had questions, think about if she answered them in a clear and pleasant manner. Evaluate if she fully engaged your child in the activity and, if needed, adapted it to better suit your child. Also, you will want to see if she seemed patient as well as encouraging.

Gauging Common Sense

Good judgment and the ability to make rational, wise decisions can be hard to assess in an interview. You will likely have to go with your gut feeling after meeting the candidate. It is a good idea to make unannounced visits from time to time. Also, ask others who may be around your child and childcare provider how they think the relationship is working. Most likely, you will want a situation that provides structure or predictability for your special needs child that makes him or her feel comfortable. The childcare candidate must be able to assess the child’s abilities and create an ideal environment for them to grow.

Communication Skills

You may want to investigate whether or not the chidcare candidate feels comfortable among professionals who may play important roles in the child’s life. Depending on the child’s specific needs, he or she may be in regular contact with speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, nutritionists, teacher aides, and various doctors or medical professionals. Make sure the childcare candidate can work well with various professionals as well as communicate any important information from the child’s sessions or interactions back to you.

Capacity to Deal with Difficult Situations

As any parent knows, every day with a child is different, and things do not always go as planned. It is important to discuss your child’s disposition with the caregiver. As she spends more time alone with your child, she will learn how your child reacts to certain situations.

You should get an idea of how the caregiver would deal with a difficult and realistic situation involving your child by asking her situational interview questions regarding such topics as discipline, frustration, crying, accidents, and so on. Carefully listen to her responses and evaluate if you believe her answers or reactions make sense. Perhaps she can offer creative solutions that you may not have thought of trying with your child.

Safety First

Asking the childcare candidate a situational question regarding how she dealt with an emergency situation tests her ability to handle situations under pressure. Make sure that you communicate your family’s safety rules to the caregiver. Specifically, tell the caregiver what your child can or cannot do inside or outside your home. You should also detail any dietary habits or restrictions or medications that are important for the caregiver to be aware of when watching your child.

Establish a relationship with the caregiver in which she knows she should always ask for help if she needs it. Additionally, remember to always keep your cell phone on and instruct the caregiver to do the same. Make sure the communication lines are always open between you and your caregiver. Raising and caring for your child is a team effort. Safety should always come first.

New York-based working mother Kristen Duca is the author of “Ultimate Nanny: How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny” available on amazon.com now. Get the inside scoop on how develop the right criteria, identify, and select the ultimate nanny.

http://www.nyparenting.com/assets/print/lispecial/2016_11_lisc.pdf

Caregiver for Special-Needs Child article NY Parenting 2016

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In my new book “Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire — Your Child’s Nanny” which is on Amazon.com now (by Kristen J. Duca) I help parents and guardians navigate the childcare search in an organized manner.

Think about your family’s needs before starting your childcare search.  You will want to take a moment to reflect on the following:

Your child/children:  What are their ages, developmental stages, and needs?

You/your partner:  What are your work/social schedules? Do you have flexibility in the hours you need childcare help?

Your family:  Are you hiring solely for childcare?  Do you also need assistance with housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, pet care, and errands?

Layers of help:  Are their suitable, willing family members or friends nearby who can help you in a pinch?

It may take time and patience to find, interview, and manage the ideal childcare provider for your household but it is worth it in the end.

Read the full Care.com article today and head to Amazon.com to order the book “Ultimate Nanny”!

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From July’s New York Family magazine

 

A Love for Learning

Expert Advice On Inspiring Curiosity In Kids

By Kristen Duca

Lifelong learning—it’s a phrase garnering popularity as parents, perhaps now more than ever, are working to instill an early appreciation for education in their children. After all, children with a thirst for knowledge often enjoy great academic and personal success. But with so many articles, books, experts and opinions on the subject, determining your plan of action can seem like a daunting undertaking. So we consulted three leading child development experts, and we’re happy to report some refreshing news: It turns out that all you really need is an engaged, in-the-moment attitude toward your children’s education, and it’s never too early, or too late, to get involved.

Start At Home

Cultivating a love of learning begins at home, so it’s no surprise that a parent’s role is crucial to children’s development. Parents can begin by using their own interest in learning as a model for their families. Dr. Betty Bardige, early childhood author and consultant, encourages parents to read—and show their enjoyment of reading—in front of their children. “If you are excited about learning and willing to share what you love with your children, they will be intrigued with what intrigues their parents,” says Bardige.

Of course, reading with your children is one of the simplest and most effective things a parent can do. Professor Susan J. Schwartz, clinical director of the Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement at the NYU Child Study Center, recommends that parents read to their children regularly, regardless of age. For babies, Schwartz suggests books with visual stimulation, like big patterns and colorful contrast. Toddlers and young children like to read the same books over and over, but be sure to introduce new books into your routine, perhaps with similar themes or by the same author or illustrator to generate quick interest in a new title. When kids become too old for bedtime stories, parents can take an interest in summer reading assignments by reading the books along with their children, engaging in conversation about the books along the way.

Schwartz also suggests that families institute “family reading time” everyday, in which everyone reads individually, but simultaneously. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, this time establishes the importance of daily reading and encourages thoughtful conversations, which are another great tool for parents.

“Having conversations with your child, even before they are verbal, makes a huge difference,” says Dr. Joshua Sparrow, co-author with T. Berry Brazelton of “Touchpoints: Birth to Three.” Sparrow advises parents to always ask questions when talking with their child and to initiate conversations that invite curiosity.

Bardige agrees. Even in baby and toddler years, she says, parents should engage in constant conversation that is both playful and lively.

Everyday Learning

Whether you’re looking to teach your kids about math, science or history, the world around you provides infinite opportunities for hands-on lessons. “Parents can create wonderful learning experiences for children that are tactile and multi-sensory,” says Schwartz. Engage your children in interactive, project-based activities like collecting leaves, gardening, cooking, grocery shopping and conducting simple science experiments. These will help build a diverse vocabulary and teach responsibility and cause-and-effect lessons.

If your child doesn’t seem to be engrossed in a specific subject, try to spark an interest at home by using one of their hobbies, says Bardige. For example, if your child is crazy about baseball, bring home books about legendary players to encourage reading, or use a favorite team’s scores or statistics to teach math skills.

Let There Be Play

According to Schwartz, “play is a child’s work,” and parents can make play more formal or relaxed by altering their routine. For instance, some days parents may take their children to the sandbox and let them explore on their own. Another day, they might bring a measuring toy to teach the child about simple math concepts in a fun and informal setting. Counting steps from the bus to the entrance of a museum or keeping a piggy bank are casual ways children can learn about numbers, counting and money.

When judging when and how to participate in your children’s playtime, Bardige suggests that parents first let their kids explore independently. “Watch, wait, wonder and find a way to enter by taking cues from your child,” she says. “See if there is an opportunity to support learning by asking questions.” Sparrow agrees, encouraging parents to watch as their infant or toddler explores an object or new environment, but to be ready to move in when they become frustrated or uninterested.

Another way to enrich everyday play is to supply your children with materials that invite creativity, constructions and inventions. “Provide your children interesting play materials that are developmentally appropriate, like scraps of cloth, recycled paper or other materials for art projects,” advises Bardige.

“Look for gentle challenges that are just a small step away from where they are now,” says Sparrow. “The biggest motivation for a child is when the parent is engaged in play. Be present, engaged and tuned-in, and don’t multi-task when you’re with your child.”

Above all, Bardige advises, parents should enjoy the time they have with their kids. “Be sure to enjoy the ride,” she says. “Every child is different, curious and magical in his own way.”

http://www.newyorkfamily.com/newyork/article-434-a-love-for-learning.html

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It’s Always Fun In PHILADELPHIA

A New York Foursome Takes On History, Culture And Even A Shark In The City Of Brotherly Love

 The challenge: two adults (my husband Ken and I) two young kids (our daughters, Milla, 3 and Arden, 1) and 48 hours to see it all. Here’s how we spent our weekend escape in Philadelphia.

What We Did:

The Philadelphia Trolley Works Tour

The trolley tour enabled our family to see the city’s main attractions in just 90 minutes. The tour is narrated by knowledgeable and cheerful tour guides, and you can hop off at any of the 20 stops to customize the day to your family’s interests. We enjoyed visiting attractions like the Betsy Ross House, the Rodin Museum and the iconic “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (phillytour.com)

Please Touch Museum

A perfect place for kids to learn and play! Our girls perused the aisles of the mini ShopRite supermarket, played with water currents in “River Adventures” and learned about transportation in “Roadside Attractions.” The museum also houses the century-old refurbished Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel. (pleasetouchmuseum.org)

Adventure Aquarium

This incredible 200,000 square-foot aquarium boasts so many exciting exhibits, shows and adventures. Our family loved the 40-foot shark tunnel, which features over 30 sharks and 850 other sea creatures. The “Touch-A- Shark” exhibit is great for those who are brave, like Milla. (adventureaquarium.com)

Where We Stayed:

The newly renovated Doubletree Hotel Philadelphia is located in the center of the city’s cultural district. Families will love the hotel’s proximity to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Academy of Music, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Liberty Bell and other family-friendly attractions. The rooms are chic but comfortable and offer beautiful views of the city. The hotel also has an indoor pool and whirlpool, high-speed internet access, and a warm and gracious staff that greeted us with smiles and high fives (to Arden’s delight!). (philadelphia. doubletree.com)

For more info: visitphilly.com. Kristen J. Duca blogs at ultimatemama.com.

http://npaper-wehaa.com/nyf/#2010/06/?article=892954

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