As Americans Return to Work, Early Childhood Education is Key

The past year has presented us all with many challenges. One of the most significant of those challenges has been the way that the pandemic has changed our children’s school and education routines. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As COVID-19 slows and businesses begin to reopen, parents are increasingly making the right choice by placing their children in Early Childhood Education programs. These programs are crucial in helping return normalcy to their children’s lives, and in empowering members of our nation’s workforce to return to offices, businesses, factories, restaurants and retail spaces.

Preschools, Child Care Centers, and School Age Programs provide opportunities for children to experience socialization and interaction in an educational atmosphere; something that has been greatly lacking for so many children over this past year. Children gain mastery of the skills of sharing, cooperation, paying attention in a group setting, and contributing to a community of learning. Children also gain confidence and pride in their earliest academic achievements. Art projects, early reading and writing, and motor-skill enhancement are all areas of concentration in Early Childhood Education Centers.

Another important benefit of including children in Early Childhood Education environments is that it provides children with a chance to experience interaction with diverse groups of children and teachers. Children and teachers of different races and nationalities learn to appreciate the differences and similarities between themselves and others. This gives children an early start at becoming familiar with the types of multicultural experiences that are increasingly represented in our elementary schools and communities.

Emerging as a central priority for many families, is Early Childhood Education’s capacity to nurture and enrich the spiritual lives of children. During the pandemic, the staff of New Creations Child Care and Learning Centers have worked tirelessly to create a clean, safe, developmentally appropriate, Christ-centered environment for their students. New Creations is setting its students up to be lifelong learners by preparing them for God’s future purpose.

Simply put, whether an Early Childhood Education Center, Church Preschool Program, or School Age Program, children are better equipped for kindergarten and beyond if they are given a chance to experience regularly scheduled, organized interactions with peer groups.

As COVID-19 slows and we all begin to return to more traditional workplace settings, we see that enrollment numbers are growing quickly. Parents are turning to Early Childhood Education Programs like New Creations as their preferred option for introducing children to their first educational experiences.

The Greatest of These is Love

You know you love your child. But how can you make sure your child knows it? So many parents wonder about their child’s love language. Since young children can’t yet verbalize their love language, determining the love language of a young child requires some educated guesswork. Explore the subject of love with your child for a week or so until you can discover what he or she perceives as love.

Discover your child’s love language:
1. Affirming words: words of affection and endearment, praise and encouragement.
2. Acts of service: services for your child that they see as valuable.
3. Quality time: focused, undivided attention, being together.
4. Gifts: giving and receiving of undeserved gifts.
5. Physical touch: hugs, cuddles, kisses and pats on the back.

It is important to note that for small children spending quality time with them is one of the best ways you can show them you love them. Quality time is a parent’s gift of 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.

You can take action and show your love by participating in their favorite activities, have uninterrupted one-on-one time, or even just be near as they play. Create special moments together and make eye contact as you engage in that quality time.

1 Cor. 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

During these two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, show your love for your kids individually by cutting out hearts large enough to write something you love about them. Tape a new heart each day to their bedroom door or bathroom mirror, or set it at their seat at the breakfast table. A simple gesture like this will be sure to set the tone of love to their day.

Try making a fun Valentine’s Day dessert that the whole family will enjoy. Chocolate fondue is easy and will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth! There’s an endless variety of treats to choose from to dip in chocolate. Celebrate your love while you indulge in the sweetness.

Any way you choose to show your love, remember to do it with the commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved you (John 15:12).

Enhance Your Life in 2020

The New Year brings anticipation, wonder, desire to better ourselves… But if you’re not in to setting unrealistic resolutions that usually fail within weeks, we have a couple easy ways to improve current habits that can be joyfully incorporated into our lives without feeling like a resolution.

Health: Exercise With Your Kids
We love practicing Yoga with the kids here at New Creations. There are many benefits to children participating in a physical activity that strengthens their bodies and eases their minds.

By practicing yoga poses, children can learn how to exercise, develop confidence, and concentrate better. Yoga promotes physical strength because kids learn to use all of their muscles in new ways. The act of practicing poses encourages children to clear their mind and focus on the effort. And because children encounter emotional, social, and physical challenges or conflicts, a dedicated and intentional yoga practice that includes breathing techniques, behavioral guidelines, and physical postures can be incredibly valuable for them. Try practicing some poses with your kids!

Nutrition: Healthy Chicken Nuggets
Quick and easy meals are what every parent longs for; however, it isn’t always the healthiest option. Swap out processed foods for homemade. If your kids love chicken nuggets, you’ll have to try this delicious, easy recipe.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

What you’ll need:
1 lb chicken breast
½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ cup all purpose flour
½-1 tsp McCormick’s Garlic and Herb seasoning
Pinch of salt
1 egg (or ¼ cup light olive oil)

Turn your stove top to a medium/medium-high heat. Add a few Tbl of olive oil. Let the pan get hot. In the meantime, create an assembly line of your chicken breasts (cut to your size preference), a bowl of flour, a bowl for the beaten egg (or oil), then the Panko with seasoning and salt.

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel
Roll the chicken in the flour
Dip in egg wash (or oil)
Heavily coat the chicken in the panko mixture

Gently lay the chicken in the hot pan (laying away from you to avoid any splatter) to fry. Let cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, checking for a golden brown crust. Serve with your favorite healthy sides! Guaranteed to be a new favorite.

Fun: Family Activities to Get You Through the Winter
Winter can feel very long, so get out there and enjoy the cold. Explore Ice Castles in Minnesota! Ice Castles is an awe-inspiring, must-see winter phenomenon. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more. They’ll be open in New Brighton from January 17 – February 17. There’s a fee for adults but kids 0-3 are free!

Enjoy a family-fun day snow tubing at Wild Mountain! They do recommend that guests be 42” tall, but it’s entirely up to the parents whether their child can enjoy the activity safely. They have smaller tubes for smaller children. There’s a fee and 2 or 3 hour limit.

Head down to Edina for a beautiful skate in the park! Centennial Lakes Park features a 10-acre lake that is groomed daily during the winter for ice skating. Spread out over three main ponds connected by narrow, meandering canals, the rink gives skaters a unique skating experience.

However you choose to enhance yourself and your family this year, be intentional of the choices you make and enjoy the ride. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

Here’s to a happy, safe and blessed New Year!

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2020

With a new year, comes a brand new opportunity for growth within ourselves and change in our lives. Is there anything you’re set to do more/less of, change a circumstance, quit a bad habit, or start a new one as your resolution? Try getting your kids involved and have them dream up their own resolutions for this next year. This is a great way to teach goals and self-discipline as they work toward them.

This year I really want to:
I really need to:
I want to be better at:
I want to learn how to:
I want to try:

Another way to grow in the year 2020 is to create a prayer board. Every day of the week you will pray specifically for someone or something. Imagine your kids becoming prayer warriors and what that can do for their faith, self-worth, love for others and overall joy.

If you’re planning to celebrate with your kids, here are a few fun ideas for the party:

  • Create a photo booth with props
  • Make noise-maker crafts. Paint popsicle sticks and glue craft bells to them; or tape two cups together with a few beads to bounce around inside.
  • Cut open a kitchen garbage bag and string/tape it to the walls and ceiling. Fill it with balloons and confetti. Pull it down at “midnight” and celebrate with noise-makers and music.
  • Play games. Glow-in-the-dark necklace or bracelet bottle-toss, NYE Bingo, and checkers are a few of our favorites.
  • Make festive Hors d’oeuvres together.
  • Cheers champagne flutes filled with plain or bubbly juice.
  • Invite your friends over and celebrate!

Midnight is late to stay awake most days of the week. If you or your kids can’t stay up to watch the ball drop, have a “Noon” Year’s Eve party! Netflix has 10 short New Year’s Eve countdown shows for children that can be played by parents at any hour. If you don’t have Netflix, you can try it for free for 30 days. Otherwise, YouTube has many options to choose from as well. This one plays a countdown with celebration fireworks.

Have fun reminiscing about your year in review! Talk about the best times of your family vacation, a favorite place you went to, the funniest moment of the year, the best food you ate, and all of the other fun memories you shared together.

Have a happy and blessed New Year!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Christmas is a special time to celebrate the magical season by spreading Christmas cheer and performing acts of kindness to people in our community; and whether you encourage that Santa is real or make-believe, Jesus remains the reason for this holy season.

Some traditions to help keep the focus on Jesus can be doing an Advent calendar, setting up a Nativity Scene, reading Christmas books, singing Jesus-centered Christmas songs, and giving, not receiving. Starting these traditions now when our children are young, encourages the emphasis on the true meaning of Christmas and will last as traditions for generations to come.

Another fun way to really make it all about Jesus is to create a real birthday celebration! Make cupcakes, blow out a candle and celebrate Him! Take the time to teach the story of Jesus’ birth by reading the scriptures together.

If there’s two things you do this season, make sure to do things that celebrate Jesus, and make sure to do things that celebrate His love.

A summary of His birth:

Almost 2,000 years ago a young woman from the town of Nazareth named Mary was visited by an angel named Gabriel. Gabriel told the Jewish woman that she would have a son named Jesus and that he would be the Son of God. At this time, Mary was engaged to her soon-to-be husband Joseph. When told, Joseph he was hurt and confused because he did not believe Mary. The angel Gabriel visited Joseph and told him that Mary would be pregnant from the Lord and that she would have a son named Jesus who would save the people from their sins. 

Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem because of an order from the Roman emperor that a census, or record, of all people, be taken in their hometown. After traveling pregnant on a donkey for several days, Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and were told that there were no places to stay. The inns were full. Seeing that Mary was due at any moment, an owner of an inn told Joseph that they could stay in his stable. 

Mary and Joseph settled down on the hay in a stable with animals sleeping. Mary went into labor and Jesus was born in the stable. The only place for the sleeping baby to rest was most likely in the animals trough, known as the manger. 

During this time, an angel appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks in the fields near Bethlehem. The angel told them the good news of the birth of the Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. The shepherds immediately went to find baby Jesus, which the angels told them they would find sleeping in the manger. 

After some time, three wise men, also known as magi, saw the brilliant star in that sky that rested over where Jesus was born. The three wise men traveled from a far eastern country to find the new king. During the wise mens’ trip, Herod the king of Judah met with the wise men and told them to come back and let him know where the baby king was so that he could go worship him as well. The wise men continued to Bethlehem and found Jesus right where the star pointed. They knelt and worshiped the Savior and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They then traveled back home a different way knowing that King Herod was not intending to worship Jesus but that he planned to kill the baby.

What an amazing gift. God sent his Son for us. We are so in awe of His love and grace.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

Being Intentional With Your Kids

Intentional. Done on purpose; deliberate.

When we are wanting to deepen the connection with our children, we need to be intentional about the quality of effort and time spent on that. There are many ways to connect with our kids spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Pray for them. We can and should pray beyond our current needs. Pray for your child to grow in his/her faith; to be obedient; for their friends; their teachers; their future spouse; your future grandchildren; for God to use whatever means necessary for their salvation; to protect them from your failures as a parent. There’s no limit to His promises. Think about ways you can ensure you take time to pray for your children daily. The beautiful thing about prayer is that God hears us.

One-on-one time. In the midst of life’s busyness, it’s easy to blindly shuffle priorities. Plan a date with your kids for tonight, tomorrow – several times a week! Do a puzzle; read a few books; go for a walk; play balloon volleyball; build a fort and have a picnic in that fort; create an obstacle course with couch cushions; bake cookies… There’s lots of fun things to do without even leaving the house. Undivided positive attention is good for the whole family!

Unplug and connect. One of the main reasons to put the phone down a little more often is that children feel unimportant when they have to compete with the attention of their parent’s smartphones. Spending less time on smartphones and more time playing with your child early on reaps great rewards in the years ahead, not limited to brain development, communication skills and social skills.

Being intentional means to live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to you. It means you make thoughtful choices in your life; it means you actively interact and engage with your life, your relationships, your children.

“The greatest contribution to the kingdom of God might not be something you do, but someone you raise.” – Andy Stanley

Cooking With Kids

If you cook a lot or even just a little, stir things up and get your kids involved with dinner tonight! Sure there might be a couple extra messes, but it’ll create lifelong memories for everyone! There are lots of benefits to children helping in the kitchen. Here’s just a few…

  • Boosts Self-Esteem – when you praise their hard work, you’re developing independence and self-sufficiency in your child. Teaching them to do things for themselves that results in instant gratification is a reward in itself.
  • Teaches Math Skills – Cooking with kids is a great way to teach them numbers. Have them help count out the number of items or ingredients you’re cooking with. You’ll be amazed at all the mathematical sense they pick up simply by assisting us in the kitchen.
  • Curbs Picky Eaters – Kids are more likely to try something that they made, encouraging an adventurous palate. This also helps create a life-long healthy relationship with food.
  • Educates on Healthy Choices – Parenting is all about teachable moments, so teaching our children about healthy eating and living is a large priority. Learning healthy food comes from the kitchen and not from a drive-through.
  • Deepens Family Bonds – When you cook together, you eat together. This automatically encourages connecting as a family. Getting in the habit of making this a priority will substantially grow your bond through the years. Create a weekly tradition. Every Friday make pizza together, or every Sunday make brunch together. Turn off the devices and turn on some music – have fun with your kids in the kitchen!

Sitting down for a meal together can be the highlight of the day. And even better when you’ve had little hands that helped make that meal possible. Enjoy each other’s company. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to engage your family!

Things you will need for a family pizza party:

  • Pizza dough – Our two favorite options are:
    • Pillsbury pizza dough (it’s an easy (wet) one to work with. One tube will feed approximately 3 adults. Cut the dough into individual sections for each person to make their own ‘pie.)
    • Target’s Market Pantry sells mini/individual (dry) round crusts
  • Pizza sauce
  • Cheese and other favorite toppings

Then bake according to the package directions. Enjoy!