Archive for January 2014

Surviving sickness (family-style)

Surviving sickness (family-style)
Everyone is sick. Seriously. Everyone. At least one member of my family is currently sick or has been sick in the past two weeks. We’ve cycled through everything from Fifth’s Disease to strep throat to a stomach bug to your standard winter cold. One person gets better. Another goes down. The school attendance line is an autodial. We’re going through a box of Kleenex a day. One of my little friends visits my bed nearly every night in need of extras snuggles, a dose of Tylenol or a change of sheets due to a vomiting incident. Mama is tired. Through this rough patch of bad health, I’ve learned a couple of valuable lessons that I thought I would share...

Wee Windy City Winter Survival Guide: FREEze Day at the Brookfield Zoo

Wee Windy City Winter Survival Guide: FREEze Day at the Brookfield Zoo

Head to the zoo in the dead of winter to freeze your a** off? Why not! Part of my strategy for surviving a Chicago winter (and admittedly, this winter has been particularly brutal) is to embrace the fun outdoor winter activities in the area. Bundle up! You'll survive. Dig out the snow pants and ski goggles and get out there! You've been home for like two consecutive weeks any way at this point. The fresh air will be good for you!

Families are invited to bundle up and head to Brookfield Zoo for its annual FREEze Day on Sunday, February 9. The free admission day will feature fun-filled outdoor activities for the entire family...

Opening Minds opens annual education conference to the public next week

Opening Minds opens annual education conference to the public next week
Opening Minds USA, the premier professional resource for people who educate and care for young children, announced that its widely attended conference, Opening Minds, is now open to the public.

This early childhood conference, now in its 58th year, brings together 5,000 early childhood professionals for four days of workshops, seminars, focus groups and special events. Topics range across 15 areas of concentration including the most recent research and thinking on all the literacies (reading, writing, talking, listening, financial, and computer literacy), math and science; social and emotional skill development; technology; identifying and addressing special needs; English Language Learning, and the many changes in the accreditation and education systems working to ready young children for Kindergarten and beyond.

This year, however, Opening Minds USA CEO Gail Conway saw a need for the conference to serve a bigger community that also includes parents of young children. I reached out to Gail to learn more about how this conference can be a resource for Chicago-area parents. Gail Conway, M.Ed. is the Chief Executive Officer for Opening Minds USA, the trusted advisor and professional resource to people who educate and care for young children. Here is what she had to say.
1)      What are the most important things parents should know about early childhood education trends going into 2014?
In 2014 and beyond, parents are going to see shifts in the role of their child’s teacher as well as others who serve or welcome young children. Teachers and librarians, for example, are no longer the keepers (holders) of all the knowledge. Teachers and librarians are becoming the curators of content; media mentors and the designers of learning experiences that parents can rely on as we all sift through appropriate and identify inappropriate content for young children. Literacy and learning how to read is also going to include learning the basics of programming logic.  Computer coding is going to be the next literacy beyond reading, writing, talking and listening in 2014 and beyond.  Families have an insatiable appetite to know what’s happening in their children’s lives. Technology provides a window into the classroom. In 2014 we are going to see new software tools that strengthen the communication between home and school. 2)      What do you think parents will learn from attending Opening Minds?
Parents will learn they are not alone. They will learn what the most current thinking and research is from numerous industries working to educate and care for young children. Parents will learn practical advice to immediately put to good use when they go home. Lastly, they will learn in the months following conference – that when they know better, they do better. I credit Maya Angelou with this last sentiment.
3)      What is the can't-miss panel or speaker attendees should try to see?
The Power of Touch presented by Dr. Peter Andersen. Parents and professionals, alike, may not be aware as to the critical role touch plays in all our lives to build relationships, express and interpret emotion, and communicate. Touch is truly our first language and one of the most powerful. I think people will be surprised by what they learn in just 3 hours, and believe this one session has the ability to significantly impact how we think and what we do with our children.
4) Best advice for parents who want to get involved in their children's learning?

Relationships are still critical to children’s learning. As technology takes hold, we must be more vigilant to remain connected and involved in children’s lives. It’s not easy to raise happy, healthy and well educated children. As much as the times are changing, they remain the same. Learning happens best through relationships. All children need a grown up in their lives who believe in them- to let them know who they are, why they matter and how they fit in to this world.  Best advice to make this happen- Get to know their child’s likes and dislikes; hold them and spend time with them;  look at challenging behavior as a teachable moment- to help make things go right, and speak up on their behalf until they can do this for themselves. ...

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Ohana offers mom and baby classes and other resources for expectant and new parents

Ohana offers mom and baby classes and other resources for expectant and new parents

My baby having days are over (sniff, sniff), but I wish that there was a place like Ohana when I was expecting my first babe nearly ten years ago. Located in Evanston, Ohana offers education, support and community for new and expectant parents. This is a complete support system for parents in the year before and after they welcome a new addition to their families.

The Hawaiian word Ohana refers to one’s inner circle of both family and close friends. After six years working closely with expectant and new parents as a doula, Ohana founder Jocelyn Alt realized that many of her clients were experiencing a great deal of stress and uncertainty during their pregnancies and that existing resources were inadequate. She wanted to create a support system -- an Ohana for expectant and new parents in the Chicago area. Alt founded birth and maternity services company Ohana to help fill that gap and provide a complete resource for education and support in the year before and after birth.

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Language Stars opens its fifteenth Chicago-area location in the Andersonville neighborhood

Language Stars opens its fifteenth Chicago-area location in the Andersonville neighborhood
Little ones + foreign language are a good combo. And Chicago families are about to get another first-rate resource for introducing kids to foreign language instruction. Language Stars, Chicago’s leading provider of early childhood foreign language education, opens its fifteenth Chicago-area location on January 20 at 4846 N. Clark St., Unit 100 in the Andersonville... Read more »

Mommy Nearest Launches in Chicago

Mommy Nearest Launches in Chicago
I’ve got a new gig. Yes, another one. I like to keep myself busy! I am excited to announce that Mommy Nearest has chosen me as one of their local  “Expert Moms” in Chicago. Mommy Nearest is a recently launched mobile app that allows parents to access all kinds of child-related resources throughout Chicago and... Read more »
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Museum of Science and Industry offers Illinois residents free admission weekdays in January

Museum of Science and Industry offers Illinois residents free admission weekdays in January
I wanted to share some info that you might find helpful (assuming that we are able to dig out from the snow drifts and sub zero temps later this week of course). Starting January 6, 2014, general admission to the Museum of Science and Industry is free for all Illinois residents on weekdays. Run in... Read more »