Love Language: The 5 Love Languages of Children

February 12, 2015 by

imagesOriginally posted here.

Storybooks and television tell our children that love is a mushy, wonderful thing that’s all butterflies and romance and rainbows. But as adults, we know that loving others—whether a spouse, a family member, a friend or simply your neighbor—is more often an exercise in self-sacrifice and putting others first. Butterflies are optional.

Dr. Gary Chapman says knowing your child’s love language can make all of the difference in your relationship.  Here, he shares descriptions of the five love languages. Look over the 5 Steps for Discovering Your Child’s Love Language.

1. Physical Touch. Hugs and kisses are the most common way of speaking this love language, but there are other ways, too. A dad tosses his year-old son in the air. He spins his seven-year-old daughter round and round, and she laughs wildly. A mom reads a story with her three-year-old on her lap.

For children who understand this love language, physical touch will communicate love more deeply than will the words, “I love you,” or giving a present, fixing a bicycle, or spending time with them. Of course, they receive love in all the languages, but for them the one with the clearest and loudest voice is physical touch. Without hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and other physical expressions of love, their love tanks will remain less than full.

2. Words of Affirmation. In communicating love, words are powerful. Words of affection and endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance all say, “I care about you.” Such words are like a gentle, warm rain falling on the soul; they nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Even though such words are quickly said, they are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.

3. Quality Time. Quality time is focused attention. It means giving a child your undivided attention. Quality time is a parent’s gift presence to a child. It conveys this message: “You are important. I like being with you.” It makes the child feel that he is the most important person in the world to the parent. He feels truly loved because he has his parent all to himself. When you spend quality time with children, you need to go to their physical/emotional level of development. The most important factor in quality time is not the event itself but that you are doing something together, being together.

If quality time is your child’s primary love language, you can be sure of this: Without a sufficient supply of quality time and focused attention, your child will experience a gnawing uneasiness that his parents do not really love him.

4. Gifts. The giving and receiving of gifts can be a powerful expression of love, at the time they are given and often extending into later years. The most meaningful gifts become symbols of love, and those that truly convey love are part of a love language.

Most children respond positively to gifts, but for some, receiving gifts is their primary love language. You might be inclined to think that this is so for all children, judging from the way they beg for things. It is true that all children—and adults—want to have more and more. But those whose language of love is receiving gifts will respond differently when they get their gift. Remember, for them this is love’s loudest voice. They see the gift as an extension of you and your love.

5. Acts of Service. Some people speak acts of service as their primary love language. If service is your child’s primary love language, your acts of service will communicate most deeply that you love Johnny or Julie. When that child asks you to fix a bicycle or mend a doll’s dress, he or she does not merely want to get a task done; your child is crying for emotional love.

If your child’s primary love language is acts of service, this does not mean that you must jump at every request. It does mean that you should be extremely sensitive to those requests and recognize that your response will either help fill the child’s love tank or else puncture the tank. Each request calls for a thoughtful, loving response.

Taken with permission from The Five Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman.

3 Areas For Nannies to Make a Big Impact

January 29, 2015 by

nanny impact

Originally posted here.

There’s a certain balancing act we nannies must manage in the course of doing our jobs. We want to help mold and shape our young charges, but then at the same time, we know we should leave the big character development stuff to their parents and stick to the basics. Where’s a loving, caring nanny to draw the line? We can’t fully answer this question for you—you and your family will have to hammer out the fine details of that one yourselves—but there are a few “safe” areas in the middle where everyone can meet and agree. Let’s take a look:

Cooking

Preparing meals and snacks for our kids is a big part of our job, and an important one, too. Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 30 years, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and more than one-third of American children are currently overweight or obese. It’s vital we teach and model healthy eating habits to the kids we take care of. To do that:

  • Take them grocery shopping with you. Talk about the benefits of low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, whole grains, fruit and veggies. Download the OurGroceries app to your smartphone for some high-tech shopping help.
  • Have them help in the kitchen. Helping to prepare their own food will give them a sense of accomplishment, and they may be more apt to try something new if they had a hand in making it. Food Networkfeatures numerous recipes kids can help make.
  • Show them that healthy eating can be fun and yummy. Let them dip their veggies in low-fat ranch, hummus, salsa or yogurt-based dressing; whirl up a delicious fruit smoothie in a juicer or blender. The NutriBullet system comes with a variety of nutritional recipes and is easy to clean, too.

Cleaning

Everyone in the house can agree that kids should help with the household chores—well, except the kids, of course. But there’s good reason to require chores from the kids you watch: According to a Wellesley College study entitled “Children’s Autonomy and Responsibility: An Analysis of Child-Rearing Advice,” chores help them develop into caring, grounded young adults, and a lack of household chores makes them less responsible in other areas of their lives. To get them involved:

  • Make a chore chart. Pinterest has a great page on this topic, with a variety of printable chore charts, lists of age-appropriate chores and tips for making chores fun.
  • Don’t insist on perfection, and don’t be shy with praise. You don’t want to make the whole affair into an anxiety-ridden struggle. Of course they have to do their best, but also remember that no one’s perfect.
  • Be consistent. We know that sometimes it’s simply easier to do it yourself, but if they aren’t expected to follow through, they won’t.

Reading

Ready for some shocking facts about kids and literacy?

  • Two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare, and more than 70 percent of U.S. inmates can’t read above a fourth-grade level (One World Literacy Foundation).
  • Kids who don’t read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school (American Association of School Librarians).
  • Fourth graders who have 25 or more books at home do better on reading tests than children who don’t have that many (National Center for Education Statistics).

Don’t wait to start reading to the children in your care. No matter what age they are, set aside time each day for reading, whether together or solo.Scholastic.com features six great reading apps for kids—give those a try.

Things to Do in January with Your Family

January 19, 2015 by

mom-daughter-musicOriginally posted here.

January may seem like a dreary month since it can get so cold outside. But you can find plenty of fun things do in January with your family in this first month of the new year with activities and celebrations that make all of you forget about the weather outside.

Enjoy Winter Activities Together
Kids are playing indoors more these days. Keep them busy without video games. Try a complete list of winter activities for kids that will entertain your children until the spring thaw.

Play Indoors
Staying in the house doesn’t mean the kids have to park it in front of the TV. There are plenty of indoor activities for kids that involve active games, pretend play and creativity exercises.

Sign Up for Music Classes
New sessions of kids’ music classes start this month and many programs are geared toward the school-age child, all the way down to classes for mommies and babies. Not interested in classes? Try music activities with kids that allow you to strike up the band on your own terms.

National Hobby Month
Find a new hobby to enjoy with your children during National Hobby Month. Explore many fun hobbies, such as jewelry making, rubber stamping, origami, painting and more.

National Soup Month
Warm up your winter days with hot soup. National Soup Month is the perfect time to get your kids in the kitchen to make soup together. Whip up a batch of chicken soup,vegetable beef soup, bean soup and more.

National Staying Healthy Month
Cold and flu season is kicking into high gear. Keep kids safe and healthy with these winter health tips. Get your children involved with health, safety and nutrition worksheets.

National Thank You Month
Practice the gift of “thank you” during National Thank You Month. Encourage your kids to write thank you notes and show them how to make those thank you cards special.

Oatmeal Month
When else do you get to celebrate all things oatmeal? Make oatmeal cookies together. Send them off to school with a bowl of warm oatmeal in their bellies.

Outdoor Winter Safety: Staying Safe During Winter Activities

January 12, 2015 by

116577-300x200-KidswintersafetyOriginally posted here.

As the weather turns chilly, new dangers for kids are appearing; but these winter safety tips for children can help keep them safe, warm and healthy through the coldest months of the year.

Why Winter can be Dangerous

Winter weather can be dangerous in several ways. The dropping temperatures and wind chills create climatic hazards, while the general indoor lethargy of winter can create health hazards due to overeating and less activity. Winter sports, holiday gifts and winter nutrition also present unique hazards that parents should be aware of in order to safeguard their children’s health and well-being. With careful planning and supervision, however, children can enjoy the fun and freedom of playing indoors or outdoors on chilly winter days without substantial risk.
Not every type of winter hazard is applicable to every child, but understanding the basic risks and how to minimize them can help parents protect their children from the ravages of winter.

Playing Outside

The cold temperatures and biting winds are the most obvious hazards when children play in the snow. Children who are not prepared for winter climates can suffer frostbite, hypothermia and severe chills that can lead to illness, poor judgment and even permanent injury. To avoid the dangers of cold weather:

  • Dress in multiple layers to play outside, including extra layers for legs, feet and hands.
  • Always wear hats and gloves when playing outdoors in cold weather; the biggest proportions of body heat are lost through the head and hands.
  • Limit the amount of time spent playing outdoors to safe intervals, and bring children inside periodically to warm up.
  • Remove all wet clothing immediately and change to dry clothes if going back outdoors.
  • Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin to guard against burns from bright sunlight and snow glare.
  • Do not permit children to play outdoors in poor weather such as snowstorms, extreme cold or high winds.
  • Wear brightly colored outer clothing that is easily seen from a distance.
  • Do not dress children in winter wear with drawstrings – they can cut off circulation and make frostbite a greater threat, and loose drawstrings may present a strangulation hazard.
  • Teach children to avoid playing near snowplow areas.
  • Do not permit children to dig snow tunnels or forts that may collapse and bury them.
  • Avoid snowball fights that can lead to injuries from dangerous projectiles.
  • Keep roofs, gutters and awnings free from snow and icicle buildup that could collapse and injure a child. Similarly, do not permit children to pull icicles from the roof.
  • Teach children never to touch or lick exposed metal (fences, flagpoles, etc.) in winter.
  • Do not allow children to eat snow. It may contain pollutants, dirt, fecal matter or other contaminants, and the cold snow can chill a young child’s body to dangerous levels.
  • Regularly de-ice or sand sidewalks, driveways, patios and other areas where children may play.

Winter Sports

Winter sports can be a great way for children to stay active and enjoy colder temperatures, but each sport presents it own unique hazards. These winter safety tips for children can help them enjoy sports safely and comfortably.

  • Always use proper safety equipment and gear, including sports gogglesand helmets, while playing winter sports.
  • Engage in safe sports behavior such as following the rules of the game and eliminating horseplay that can lead to accidents and injuries.
  • Enroll children in lessons from a qualified professional for advanced winter sports such as figure skating, skiing and snowboarding to ensure they learn safe techniques.
  • Only play winter sports in safe, approved locations rather than using seemingly frozen ponds, unknown hillsides or other potentially dangerous locations.

Staying Healthy

The long days of winter often keep children indoors, which can lead to hours of inactivity. Furthermore, children are more likely to contract illnesses during the winter months because they are in more confined spaces. To stay healthy during the winter, consider these safety tips:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
  • Teach children proper hand-washing techniques to kill germs and bacteria or use hand sanitizer if necessary.
  • Keep children home from school and other public places if they are sick.
  • Ask a pediatrician about the necessity for flu vaccines for young children.

Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are a time of fun and excitement, but they can also be dangerous. Inappropriate toys, indulgent foods and unsafe decorations can create hazards that may cause injuries to children of all ages. These safety tips can help avoid the greatest risks:

  • Do not use “candy” style ornaments or holiday decorations that may fool young children.
  • Limit the amount of holiday sweets and treats children are allowed to eat.
  • Choose unbreakable ornaments for safe tree decorations, and be sure no ornaments are small enough to be swallowed.
  • Only give age-appropriate toys and gifts to children.
  • Check toy recall notices for any holiday gift items.

Heating Tips

The natural reaction to falling temperatures is to raise the heat, either through external, supplemental heaters or by turning on a fireplace or other open flames. These safety tips can keep away the winter chill without risk:

  • Keep candles, kerosene lamps, and other open flames out of reach of children at all times.
  • Do not put a space heater in a child’s room.
  • Teach children fire safety procedures, including how to spot potential hazards.
  • Do not allow children to play in fires such as roasting marshmallows in a fireplace.
  • Practice family fire drills to reinforce safe behavior.
  • Do not use electric blankets for young children.

In Conclusion

By following the proper winter safety tips for children, parents can ensure that their sons and daughters will be warm, happy, and safe during the coldest months of the year, and seeing them enjoy winter safely will warm any parent’s heart.

Nanny Background Screening is more than a Nanny Background Check

January 1, 2015 by

Originally posted here, by the International Nanny Association.

Nanny Background ScreeningThe nanny industry – nannies, nanny referral professionals, nanny background screeners and educators – share an overwhelming concern for the wellbeing of the children being cared for by a nanny in their home. We are all child care professionals. Sadly, there is yet another story making the news rounds about a nanny hired from an online venue mistreating the children in her care. The nanny was ‘caught’ on a nanny cam.

The International Nanny Association (INA) and the Alliance of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA) want to inform parents that a computerized background check is quite simply insufficient ‘screening’ to evaluate a nanny applicant. The digital, criminal “background check” creates a false sense of security for families.

True nanny background screening also must include careful, probing interviews, and thorough reference checks. INA  and APNA agency members are experts at nanny screening.

So what do families need to do to carefully screen a nanny applicant?

Verify Applicant Identity: It is only logical to first confirm that the individual applicant is who she says she is. Government issued photo identification should be reviewed at the beginning of any nanny interview. This can be a drivers’ license, passport, or a state-issued identification card.

Gather a Comprehensive Work History: INA member Daryl Camarillo, Stanford Park Nannies, recommends that families “Verify and interview all previous employers (even non-childcare related) and do a thorough accounting for all gaps in work history.”

Interview Carefully: A common mistake families make is using the interview to determine if the nanny is agreeable to hours, pay and scope of duties. This is totally insufficient to find out if this candidate will be a quality nanny. A good rule of thumb is if the interviewer is talking more than the person being interviewed, you are not asking the right questions. Behavioral interviewing is the gold standard.

INA member Marc Lenes, Wee Care Nanny Agency, states that “It is imperative to meet and get to know the potential nanny in person. Together you should go over a comprehensive employment application and zero in on gaps in work history, discuss previous jobs in detail and gauge responses to gently probing questions that will help with the vetting process.”

Australia’s Placement Solutions’ Louise Dunham shares “Three techniques we use are 1) listen carefully for the pregnant pauses when questioning a referee ..the nervous schooled referees sometimes confess here; 2) asking an open ended question such as “Describe  to me your typical day looking after a baby and a toddler” will soon show you whether they have actually spent a day doing that and whether they are proactive carers and 3) lastly a trick question ” under what circumstances would you smack a child?” The ONLY answer we want is ‘Never ‘.”

Sandra Costantino, Neighborhood Nannies, has more than 30 years experience matching nannies and families. She reports “So often we are told by our families about “gut reaction.”  There is absolutely no substitute for that than in meeting a potential candidate in person and looking into their eyes and understanding their body language and their answer to questions asked and their comments in general.  A wealth of knowledge is transferred without even knowing it. You cannot get that ‘online‘.”

Verify References: HomeWork Solutions’ Kathleen Webb advises families to “Personally speak to all references. Verify how they know the applicant. Ask questions and wait for answers. Avoid giving verbal clues of agreement or disagreement.”

Fake references are a real problem for families hiring a nanny. Experienced nanny agency staff are highly skilled at detecting references that are simply “off.” When checking a work reference, you may want to ask questions such as “When did she work for you?” or “Tell me about your children – how old were they?” You will be surprised how often the person coached to give the reference trips up on the fine details.

When talking to a nanny’s references, experienced reference checkers often try to obtain a third party or ‘wild card’ reference. This would be someone else known by both the reference and the candidate whom you may use as an additional reference. Third party references are invaluable, as they have most likely not been cherry-picked by the candidate and have not been briefed on the reference check ahead of time.

Schedule a Second, Working Interview: Bring the candidate back at a time when you and the children are both present. Allow the applicant to observe your typical family rhythms, patterns, and interactions. After some orientation, step back and allow some time for the applicant to interact with the children independently (you observe). Of course you will pay the applicant for her time.

The International Nanny Association (INA) is dedicated to helping families find quality in-home childcare. The APNA is a regulated membership organization that establishes standards in the nanny and household staffing industry. Both organizations recognize that families are increasingly turning to online nanny recruiting venues when hiring. The INA and APNA feel strongly that the information above can assist a family to better screen their nanny job applicants. We further recommend that families who are not confident in their interview and screening skills, or simply do not have the time or talent to perform this thorough vetting, strongly consider engaging the services of a professional nanny referral agency. “Liking a nanny isn’t enough, we’d would argue your children deserve more,” advises Jami Denis, ABC Nannies.” Hiring a professional nanny agency to walk you through the screening, interviewing, hiring and employment process allows parents peace of mind when they need it most.”  INA member agencies can be found in the online directory at Nanny.org.

Teaching Children to Donate

December 23, 2014 by

packing baby food for hurricane sandy victims

Whichever holiday you are celebrating at this time of year, it typically involves gift giving/receiving. If your child’s wish list is as long as my kids’ lists were when they were young, your play room will be overflowing with toys after the holidays. My husband and I took advantage of this time of year and created a rule; for every new toy that was received, an old toy had to be given away. This is a good rule for birthdays too!

Limiting your child’s wish list is a challenge for parents. Children want the current hot toy of the season, the latest movie paraphernalia, or the newest game system. They try their hardest to convince you that all of their friends have “it”, and they must have “it” too; in fact, they can’t live without it!

We were lucky enough to know one child who greatly appreciated our hand-me-downs. He was the youngest of six children whose carpenter father was struggling to start his own business. You may not personally know someone in this situation, however, there are several organizations that appreciate and welcome used toys.

Your child will learn an invaluable life lesson, along with learning they don’t need to keep all of their “stuff” in order to be happy. I am also extremely thrilled that neither one of my children became a hoarder!

Here’s a list of some local organizations that accept used toy donations.

Family Services of Westchester
This nonprofit program’s Big Brothers Big Sisters trucks will travel to your home for a scheduled pickup of your old toys (and clothing, house wares, furniture and small appliances).  From Peekskill to Pelham, Bronxville to Bedford, call 1-877-399-2570 to arrange for free home pickup of donated household items. To schedule a pick-up online go to www.bbbsdonate.org.

Salvation Army There is a Salvation Army in White Plains (16 Sterling Avenue; 914-949-2908) and one in New Rochelle (562 North Avenue). Head to either one to drop off your old toys Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. until close. Call for business hours.

Goodwill Industries
Goodwill has a location at 380 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford; 914-347-1510. But there are other drop-off spots that will accept toys. Call for information.

Your Local Church
You’d be surprised how many churches would be thrilled to take a toy donation. Stop by your local church and ask if you can donate for the next thrift sale fundraiser, or ask your pastor on Sunday. Churches always know someone in need, and you may end up getting to drop off the toys to needy families yourself.

Donate Toys to Veterans – PickUpPlease.org

With Pick Up Please, helping America’s Veterans with your donations has never been easier. You can donate clothes, furniture, toys and other household items through a convenient donation pick up at your home. Pick Up Please can pick up your donation within 24 hrs. in most locations.

33 Fun Christmas Activities for Kids (and Big Kids)

December 16, 2014 by
547ee6553700e_-_santa-family-xlsynd

Make this your family’s most festive season ever with these great new Christmas activities for kids.

Originally posted here.

1. On the fridge, post a holiday-gift wish list for every family member.2. Each year let the kids pick out one ornament to buy.3. E-mail Santa at santaclaus.com.

4. Capture fun holiday moments: Place disposable cameras all over the house.

5. Have the kids stage a reenactment of the Christmas or Hanukkah story.

6. Give small 1st-of-December gifts to family members.

7. Go to a tree farm and cut down your own evergreen.

8. Host a holiday hair-wrap party for your daughter’s friends.

9. Enjoy wine and cheese while you and your guy fill the stockings.

10. Remind Santa to write a thank-you note for the milk and cookies.

11. Have the kids leave a bowl of baby carrots on the lawn for the reindeer.

12. Buy everyone striped long johns (hannaandersson.com).

13. Create a Kwanzaa family-history book. For details, see holidays.kaboose.com.

14. Grab hot cocoa and go caroling.

15. Attend a religious service entirely different from your own.

16. Leave “Ho, ho, ho, it’s off to the mall we go” on your answering machine.

17. Ask grandparents to recall their holiday memories on a tape recorder.

18. Love advent calendars? Find cool ones at playmobil.com.

19. Tour the neighborhood in search of dramatic decorations.

20. Ask each family member to write a verse for a special holiday poem.

21. Let the kids hand out the gifts on Christmas morning.

22. Open presents slowly, so everyone has time to “ooh” and “ahh.”

23. Call your chamber of commerce to track down any holiday festivals.

24. Turn out all the lights, then get dazzled by your sparkling tree.

Nurturing a Love of Literacy

December 7, 2014 by

literacyOriginally posted here.

How can you encourage your child to love reading, writing, and language so much that he begs for a bedtime story or a trip to the library? In any home, there are countless ways to encourage a child’s love of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Here are eight simple ideas for including literacy in your everyday routine.

Talk and listen.

Hold meaningful, thought-provoking conversations with your child. Talk about things that he did or things she finds interesting. While you listen and respond to what your child says,

  • introduce new words, like colander or automobile.
  • expand on what she says, offering more description and using more mature language (Your child: “It runned out.” You: “Your marker ran out of ink!”).
  • challenge him to imagine, remember, and think about things he sees and hears around him.
  • ask him to tell you about the best thing that happened that day.

Read aloud together.

Research has found that one of the most important things parents can do to help their child build reading and writing skills is to read aloud.  To make the most of this time together,

  • read aloud at least once every day
  • read favorites again and again
  • talk about the story before, during, and after reading
  • ask her teacher what kinds of books and authors she likes best at school
  • ask a librarian to suggest some diverse and age-appropriate children’s books, poetry collections, and songs
  • share a variety of literature (stories, poems, and informational books) over time
  • suggest activities that go with the books you read (“In this book, Yoko brought sushi to school for lunch. What special food would you like to make for lunch?”)

Explore the sounds of language.

Children love to play with sounds and words. Invite your child to have fun with sounds and words. Make up games. Using stories, poems, and songs, or your own imagination, play with the following:

  • rhymes—What words end with the same sound? “See you later, alligator.” “Hey, what other words sound like splat?” [mat, flat, cat]
  • alliteration—What words begin with the same sound?  “The red car raced to the restaurant.”
  • matching specific sounds—What words begin or end with the same sound? “Listen to the word duck. Duck starts with the /d/ sound. What other words start with the same sound as duck?”
  • sound/letter connections―What else begins or ends with the same letter? “Look, Jennifer and Jamal’s names both start with J.

Offer alphabet activities.

Over time, playing with items like the following can help your child recognize the letters of the alphabet:

  • ABC books
  • magnetic letters
  • alphabet blocks and puzzles
  • alphabet charts
  • ABC stamps

Support budding readers and writers as they test their new skills.

Your child needs time and space to explore books and print on his own or with friends. You can

  • create a cozy book nook in your home where you keep lots of good books
  • reread favorite books, especially ones that invite your child to chime in (predictable books)
  • create a space where you and your child can leave notes for each other—an erasable white board, for example
  • make reading and writing part of play—for example, provide materials for making menus for a pretend restaurant or suggest reading aloud to stuffed animals and dolls
  • staple sheets of paper together so your child can, with your help, write and illustrate a story

Offer books throughout your home and even outdoors.

Be sure to provide a wide variety of styles and topics

  • information books, such as Byron Barton’s Airport
  • books, songs, and poems with strong rhymes, such as Raffi’s Down by the Bay
  • stories with detailed plots, such as Mercer Mayer’s There’s an Alligator under My Bed
  • books in your home language and in English
  • books that reflect your culture and family
  • classic books and new books
  • books with beautiful, inspiring illustrations

Support early writing with lots of materials.

Children need easy access to materials so they can build their early writing skills through scribble writing, groupings of random letters, and their own unique spelling of words. Offer your child:

  • a basket stocked with pens, pencils, markers, paper, envelopes, and book-making materials
  • writing materials to use in play (for example,  pencils and notepads to write prescriptions, take orders, or make grocery lists)

Explain how books and print work.

While introducing and reading books, magazines, or other written items, help your child learn how print works.

  • Point to words as you read them.
  • Note the differences between pictures and print.
  • Show how books in English are read from left to right, top to bottom.
  • Talk about the different parts of books, like the cover and the title page.
  • Encourage your child to join in with repeated lines when reading favorite stories.

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/article/importance-teaching-handwriting#sthash.FvcrtsFS.Vn2z8qqB.dpuf

Happy Thanksgiving from Family Helpers

November 27, 2014 by

images

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

~Author Unknown

What to Know About the Affordable Care Act Before Open Enrollment Begins

November 20, 2014 by

Originally posted by Breedlove & Associates here.

Lately we’ve been inundated with questions about health insurance – specifically relating to the Affordable Care Act because the 2015 open enrollment is coming up on November 15th. So to help clear up any confusion families may have, here is a simple Q&A that may help.

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare,” is a federal law aimed at reducing the overall cost of health care and decreasing the number of uninsured individuals living in the United States.

Is my employee required to have health insurance?

Yes, your employee – like all Americans – is subject to penalties if she does not have health insurance coverage. However, you are not responsible for making sure your employee has health insurance.

Am I required to offer health insurance to my employee(s)?

No, employers are not required to offer health insurance if they employ fewer than 50 workers. However, you are required to provide your current employee and, at the time of hire, any future employee with a notice about the Health Insurance Marketplace.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Health Insurance Marketplace is the government-run health insurance exchange – a “one-stop shop” where individuals can compare and purchase health insurance policies. Open enrollment for the Marketplace opens on November 15th for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. Your employee will be able to purchase health insurance through the Marketplace until open enrollment ends on February 15, 2015.

How much will health insurance cost?

The cost of health insurance will vary depending on the state and the options your employee chooses (deductible, co-pay, etc.). After completing an application, your employee will be able to compare prices and coverage options for different health insurance policies. Depending on her income and family size, she may be eligible for a subsidy if she purchases her insurance policy through the Marketplace. However, she must have documented wages in order to get a discounted policy – meaning she must be paid legally. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful Subsidy Calculator to estimate how much she’ll save.

If I contribute to my employee’s health insurance policy, will I be eligible for any tax breaks?

If you contribute to your employee’s health insurance premium, the amount of your contribution is considered “non-taxable compensation” – so neither you nor your employee would have any taxes on that portion of the compensation. In addition to the non-taxable advantage, if you set up a health insurance policy for your employee through SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) on the Marketplace and pay at least 50% of your employee’s premiums, you may be able to take advantage of the Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance. To take this credit, you’ll attach Form 8941 to your personal income tax return. The credit is up to 50% of the contribution you pay. For more information regarding the requirements for contributing to health insurance, please contact our office as SHOP is a relatively new program and the details may change.

We understand that many families are tackling this issue for the first time and may still have questions after reading this. Please don’t hesitate to send them our way. Our tax experts are happy to help Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm CST.


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