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Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Designation

Mother-Friendly-Workplace

We are excited to officially announce that our efforts to provide support to breastfeeding employees have earned Brainy Kids Place designation by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite.

What that means is that we have made a commitment to provide support to our employees who breastfeed their infants. This support comes in the form of a written worksite lactation support policy that provides time and a private location, other than a bathroom, for a mother to pump breastmilk, access to a sink and clean water for washing hands and rinsing any equipment, and a hygienic, safe place to store the breastmilk. Of course, many of our employee have their infant on site and are able to nurse their baby directly! 

For us, the decision was easy. Many of us at Brainy Kids Place are working parents, so we know how hard that first year with an infant can be. The erratic sleep schedules, late-night feedings, and constant worries about the baby’s health can take their toll. We also know breastfeeding an infant through the baby’s first year is one of the best things you can do for the long-term health of the child as well as that of the mother. Breastmilk promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses.

Many mothers have to choose between working and breastfeeding their child. We didn’t want our employees to have to make that choice. We wanted to make it easy for them to do both, so we took the steps needed to become a Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite. We may not be able to offer the yoga classes or in-house laundry services that some companies do, but we can make a commitment to our employees and to the issues that are important to them and their families.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, employers who provide breastfeeding-support programs benefit from lower employee absenteeism due to a sick child, lower employee turnover rates, lower-cost health insurance with fewer claims, higher employee morale and productivity, and an enhanced community image.

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Tackling The Tough Conversations

Tackling The Tough Conversations

Talking with kids can be tough. So often we are wrapped up in trying to get the answer, we forget to enjoy the journey of the conversation (especially with our children). Recently, we have started a new dinnertime habit of asking thought provoking questions, and going around the table and sharing answers. This has become a favorite of everyone in the house, including those that occasionally join us as dinner guests. 

The whole goal or purpose of this exercise is to get to know our children better and on a deeper level. Asking them “How was your day?” was consistently getting met with the same “Good” end of conversation. Once we started asking questions focused on dreams, gratitude, empathy, nature, imagination, family, ethics, and relationships, the conversations came to life. I never would have thought asking “Is it ever ok to lie?” Would drum up the conversation it did, but I am so thankful that it did. It allowed us as a family to talk about some tough dilemmas and scenarios that we might not have ever talked about (except of course if one of them was caught in a lie, but that conversation would not have the same impact). 

These questions have also allowed us to get to know what kinds of qualities our children pride themselves on, what their insecurities are, and how they view themselves. Even in elementary school, I am hearing how important peer groups and friendships are, and I want to keep the conversations going as they continue to reach their teenage years when the conversations will be harder to come by and just as important. 

I have learned that they have to go first, or they are way too tempted to copy my answer to try to answer it correctly. I have also learned that just listening and when I think they are done, staying quiet for a few moments longer after they are “done" can be where the real meat of the conversation happens. This is a habit that I look forward to continuing for years to come. 

I want your family to join in on the fun! Each week on our social media, I will post a simple conversation starter that you can use to start your own family conversations.

Happy talking!

Ballad of a Busy Mom

Ballad of a Busy Mom

My two kiddos are in elementary school now so I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I did when they were little. This has caused me to reflect on the time I do get to spend with them, which is regrettably consumed with school activities. I am one of those moms that really like to have unstructured down time without the anxiety of trying to be on a schedule. Because of this, I decided that one of my goals for 2019 would be to make time to take each of my kids on a date every month. I got a jumpstart on it in December because I was so excited about it and I have come to really look forward to this new tradition. 

My kids have already started to look forward to date night and planning what we are going to do together. My son has chosen an arcade and the zoo, and my daughter has chosen the nail salon and a tea party. During our dates, I keep my phone on Do Not Disturb and give my full attention to my kids. It has made me realize that we have become so busy in our daily lives that the little things (and even big ones) have gotten looked over. I have decided to use date night to re-ground me and my family to what really matters- each other. 

I encourage you to consider carving out some time in your already overflowing schedule to take your kids on a date. Make it fun and truly special. Something so simple can really become something beautiful and the connections you continue to nurture with your children will last a lifetime. 

Just in case you need some inspiration:

  1. Go on a nature walk and try fishing
  2. Go to a drive in movie and go out for ice cream after
  3. Play at the park and pack a picnic lunch
  4. Bake something special at home and have a tea party
  5. Go to the beach and build a sand castle
  6. Go to the skating rink, putt putt golf, or an arcade
  7. Get a new Lego or craft kit you can do together
  8. Get dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant

The possibilities are endless!

Cheers to 5 Years

Cheers to 5 Years

Why?

 

That is the most common question I get when I meet new people and I tell them I am a preschool owner. The short answer is because I am crazy, like most kindergarten teachers are. However, the long answer is that I am truly passionate about what I do.

 

Over the past five years I have had the unique opportunity to see the ripple effect my ownership of a preschool has had and it is the most humbling feeling I have ever experienced. I have a passion for creating a space that energizes children to develop a love of learning through hands on experiences and play. I have a passion for giving families the most peace of mind I possibly can by always looking at ways to increase the safety and security of the children in our care while they are working to provide for their families. I have a passion for providing jobs to teachers that want to make a difference in the world and creating a fun place to work. I am passionate about developing relationships with those that we serve; wether it be children, parents, grandparents, staff, or community members. I am passionate about continually building a company that has a clear vision and can make a positive impact greater than I could ever imagine. 

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New Year, New You. Join our Brainy Team!

New-Year-New-You

The New Year is here and with that comes a fresh start. 

So many people use the new year to make some much needed changes and have a fresh start.  What changes do you want for yourself this year? Do you want to loose weight, spend less time on your phone, or learn something new? Then you would be among many others that are striving for a healthier and more balanced life. 

But what if your resolution is to find a meaningful career or to find a place to work that is fun? If you are looking to start a career where you can make a difference in the world everyday, a career at Brainy Kids Place may be for you. We aren’t here to talk to you about our pay or benefits, we stand behind our great compensation package. We believe in taking care of those that care for children!

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What is so magical about mixed age classrooms?

Mixed-age

As an educator and lifelong learner, I am always searching for ways to structure our school to allow children the best environment for learning and building a solid foundation that will serve them for a lifetime.

One of the recent topics that has piqued my interest and research was how children have not been developing socially as they have previously. Some would like to attribute the increased violence and distance from one another on technology, but there are other factors at play. One major contributor is a lack of empathy and not feeling connected to a “community” or peer group. When researching how to combat this in the preschool and early childhood setting, blended or mixed aged classrooms have been shown to increase empathy and a sense of community within the classrooms.

Blended age classrooms are not “new” or “trendy”, in fact that is how the one room school house was structured up until the industrial revolution. Mixed age classrooms are a pillar in the Montessori method of teaching and supported by many child development specialists, such as Lev Vygotsky. 

What are the short and long term benefits?

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A Birthday to Remember

A Birthday to Remember Experiences Before Parties

My kids were invited to a friends birthday celebration that left me inspired and made me reconsider the way I view birthday parties. You might have read “inspired” and thought it was a Pinterest worthy extravaganza, but it was quite the opposite. The Birthday Girl LOVES horses and unicorns to the point of possible obsession. Her mom could have thrown a unicorn party for the ages full of all kinds of decorations and other frivolous costly things, but she didn’t. She arranged for the party to be horseback riding for one friend of her choosing. She chose my two kids to share in her special experience (since they are always together and 13 months apart). Talk about SPECIAL! When the day finally came, the kids and adults had an awesome time making memories. My kids brought a hand made card for a gift and there was a cake that her grandmother made. All I could think was why had I never thought about this?

Why had I never taken the time to re-think birthday parties and allow my children to have an experience instead of a party? Moreover, why had I never considered that it should be and even more intimate experience with just a few close friends and family members? I was awestruck at the simplicity of it and loved the feeling. It was a breath of fresh air, literally. We spent time getting to learn about riding horses and how to take care of them. The icing on the cake was actually riding the horses. It was the first kids birthday party I truly enjoyed. 

I truly appreciated the opportunity to allow our children to make memories and have new experiences they can cherish, and they have. They still talk about getting to go horseback riding and how special they felt that she chose them to share in her celebration. They were even inspired to begin planning an experiential birthday celebration as well.  Even though their ideas change, they still like the thought of doing something instead of the traditional party. I could not feel more blessed to have been introduced to a new thought process when it comes to birthdays and hope that you will take a moment to consider giving your child an experience for their birthday, instead of just another toy. 

Rainy Day Renegades

RainyDay

“Rain, rain go away

Come again another day.

Rain, rain go away

Little Johnny wants to play.”

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Behind the Brain

Behind the Brain

In today’s world, its hard to feel connected to people and much more with businesses. Long gone are the Mayberry days of getting a haircut at the local one chair barber shop where you get the town gossip while relaxing and reading the paper. Today, we are overwhelmed in our increasingly hectic lives and wrapped into the whirlwind of our phones filled with numerous apps, games, email, texting, and endless possibilities to find yourself consumed before you even realize what has happened. So now when you go to get your haircut, you have music and television going as well as an endless stream of people around you, most of which you will never come in contact with again. Maybe you know your barber, maybe you don’t. You might be at a small business or you might be at a large chain. But either way, you probably don’t really know anything about the company, its values, or what it stands for.

This is the interesting part; just now you thought of a company that you know what they stand for. That’s awesome. Keep that thought.

I recently actively started paying attention to companies and what their core values are and what they stand for and believe in and it has really been a shift in the way I buy and interact with businesses. Being a small business owner myself, I truly believe in the power of a small business. Small businesses can focus on people and make sure that their products and services align with their beliefs. Small businesses are not profit machines run by a CEO or Board of Directors that are concerned with their stock prices.

Why does this matter to me?

I buy Made in the USA and small business first. I am willing to pay more to support businesses I believe in. I recently had a fellow childcare owner say she believes “We vote with our dollars.” This was powerful to me and truly made me evaluate the companies I was voting for with my dollars. I started doing research on some of the businesses I frequented from the grocery store to where I purchased my clothing. I even started looking at the brands that I was loyal to. What I found was many times businesses fall short in the communication department. They will tell you how much you can save, but what about what causes they support, how they serve and support their employees, and their future plans? These things matter. You would find out these things before you begin a new friendship or relationship, so why not when you are choosing to spend your hard earned money?

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There’s Not an App for That

Recently I had a friend have her first baby and I remember seeing on her Facebook post asking questions about baby tracking apps. In my head, all I could think was “Is that a thing?”

Sure enough, that is a thing and some other techie-moms chimed in on all the best apps for tracking every BM, feeding, milestone, and other stuff. I never felt so out of touch and old. I had a two and three year old and felt outdated. We didn’t have this. We used paper and baby cries to keep track. I was sleep deprived, hormonal, and not organized. (PS. We recently got an app at Brainy Kids Place called Brightwheel that does all this, takes pictures, and can be shared with parents daily. They LOVE it)

Fast forward to now. My Mother in Law watched the kids while I went to workout the other day and showed them Angry Birds on her Nook. The kids were hooked. Before that, it had never occurred to me to give my kids an app. I’m old school. When they have to come with me places, they have backpacks with coloring books and crayons or a bucket with Magna-Tiles or blocks. I am a firm believer in learning hands on with the world around you.

There is not an app that will allow a child to experiment with the height of blocks to learn how tall a tower can be before it falls. There is not an app that will teach and engrain proper pencil grip so that they are ready to write and draw amazing stories. There is not an app that will teach them proper book orientation, page turning, and appreciation for how far they have come in the book and how much they have left to go.

There is not an app that will inspire creative learning and force them to solve their own problems in life. I encourage you to put down the smart phone, tablets, and whatever else technology you have going, and take it old school with hands on entertainment, learning, and play for your kids. You will be amazed at what they can come up with

Not Happy? We’ll Refund $$

Many people are surprised that we offer a 100% Happy Family Money Back Guarantee. I know that it is unheard of in childcare, but I believe in trust and relationships (two of our core values) so much that I guarantee that if you are not happy, we will gladly refund your money.

Unsure of which child care provider will be the best match for you and your child? At Brainy Kids Place, we understand that choosing the right curriculum-based child care for you and your child can be difficult.

That’s why we’re proud to offer our unheard of Money-Back Guarantee

It’s simple. If after your first three days, you don’t feel that Brainy Kids Place is the perfect place for you and your child, we’ll happily refund your tuition.

We pride ourselves on our family-like environment. It’s our top priority to make sure that the families and staff here at Brainy Kids Place all feel like part of our family. And that’s why we offer such an unprecedented guarantee.

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Food Allergy Action Plans

Food allergies are all around us. An estimated 8% (approximately 2 million) of children in the US are affected by one or more food allergies.  Some of the most common food allures are The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. However, these ingredients are not always obvious on packaged products.

The goal for children with food allergies is complete avoidance with the offending agent, but in spite of everyone’s best efforts, accidental exposure sometimes occurs. Allergic reactions can result from ingesting or inhaling the allergen and from skin contact with the allergen. The onset of reaction can occur rapidly or it may be delayed.

Proper planning and implementation can minimize and often eliminate the risk of an allergic child’s exposure to a food allergen. The child’s parents, the Director, Classroom Teachers, Chef, and even classmates can all contribute to minimizing the chances of an exposure and a potentially serious reaction.

Do your child’s caregivers know the appropriate response to a severe food (or other allergen) reaction? At Brainy Kids Place, we use a multi-step system for identification, notification, training, avoidance, and treatment if a child is exposed to an allergen.

Before we go over what we do to help prevent and treat exposure to allergens, let’s discuss the families’ responsibility.

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LICE the “L” Word in Daycares

Yep, we are going to talk about the word no caregiver, parent, director, or any person walking by wants to hear about, lice. Head lice is often met with stress, anxiety, and unnecessary shame. Head lice is common across all socio-economic classes and does not mean a child, home, or school is “dirty.”

Brainy Kids Place has a “No Nit” Policy. If nits or lice are detected, parents will be contacted and will need to begin treatment that night. Various treatment options are available. Brainy Kids Place will send home a letter with information for parents. Parents are responsible for treatment. Children are allowed to return to school after treatment has begun and they are nit and lice free. This can be as early as the following day. Please keep in mid that health officials recommend a two week regimen to make sure that nits or lice do not re-appear. The next morning, the child will need to be brought to the office to be checked to ensure that all nits and lice have been removed. Children will only be allowed to return to Brainy Kids Place after they are checked by office staff to be nit and lice free. Children will be checked occasionally over the next two weeks to make sure that another nit or louse does not appear.

Brainy Kids Place has the following preventative measures in place:

  • Carpets, rugs, and upholstered items are vacuumed daily. Vacuuming is the most effective way to reduce the spread of head lice.
  • Nap bedding is stored in individual plastic containers and not shared amongst children. Nap bedding is sent home weekly to be washed. Nap mats are disinfected.
  • Jackets and other personal items are stored in individual children’s cubbies or stored on coat hooks to prevent the spread of head lice.
  • Brainy Kids Place will provide parents with information on early detection, prevention, and treatment methods. Head lice are most common amongst children ages 3-12 due to common behavior and play habits. Keep in mind that the same play habits that transmit lice are also common in homes, neighborhood playgrounds, churches and other places children commonly interact.

Experts suggest the most effective point of control for head lice is the household. Parents are responsible for screening for head lice during routing hygiene and bathing practices. Health officials recommend that parents check weekly with a fine tooth comb.

So remember, if you get a phone call that your child has nits or lice, just remain calm, and comb on!

Choosing a Preschool and Buying a Car…

Ring… Ring… “Thank you for calling Brainy Kids Place, this is Chelsea. How may I help you?”

“Yea, I need a daycare for my two year old, how much is it?”

This is where I need to stop the conversation and ask when you walk up to a car salesman, do you ask, “Hey I want a Tahoe, how much?” No. The reason? Simply you want a car that meets your needs and your families’ needs. Price is discussed once you have talked with the salesman, test drove the car, and you have allowed him (or her) to help you find the RIGHT FIT for you, your family, and your needs.

So why price shop childcare? Choosing a preschool for your child is not like going to HEB and Wal-Mart and comparing the cost of diapers. I can honestly say it is the equivalency to purchasing a car. Yes, price matters, but more importably what matters is what you feel comfortable driving. I equate this to where do you feel comfortable dropping your child off at day in and day out.

I’ll be honest, you can pay whatever amount you want for childcare. Within a fifteen mile radius you could pay anywhere from $100- $255 a week for infant care. What’s the difference? Do you think you get the same care, benefits, and classroom ratios for $100 as you do $255? Nope. You sure don’t. You get what you pay for.

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#MomFails!!

I had the most glorious experience the other day. I got to go to the movies… by MYSELF! Yep, the hubs had the kids and I went to see Bad Moms. I got to the theater, discovered there was a bar inside the theater (when did this happen?) and the seats were like recliners! #winning!

Well about five minutes into the movie, I was in love. It felt like someone finally got me. Yes, I have a degree in early childhood education, I taught kindergarten, and own a preschool. I should be like the Martha Stewart of moms with Pinterest oozing from my pores. Truth is, I’m just an ordinary mom of two rather adorable outspoken children that keep my life interesting and just downright busy!!

So to keep things light and fresh, I decided to share just a sample of my #MomFails that I have experienced!!

  1. While at the bank submitting loan renewal forms (for the business), I’m in the middle of talking about how great the daycare is going, and my 2 year old son begins to pee on the bankers window! Yep! Talk about mortified. Then I begin to wonder how on earth he doesn’t have a Pull-Up on. Thank goodness he has six kids of his own and the cleaning company was coming that night.
  2. We pulled up to Brainy Kids Place (running late) and I try to hurry and get the kids out of the car only to discover my daughter, Ava, managed to get in the car without any shoes. Yes, I was the mom that showed up to daycare without any shoes for my kid. So as any working, busy mom, I prayed the Dollar General was open and had a pair of shoes she could wear. I lucked out!
  3. Last but not least, my favorite (and possibly most embarrassing). I went to Victoria’s Secret to pick up my free pair of panties (no shame in my game). I had to take the kids with me and I knew in my gut this was a bad decision. We go in, grab the panties, and get in line. At that point, my son decides that waiting in the line was boring, so he begins to “Spiderman” people by shooting imaginary webs at them. As I begin to try to explain that this isn’t polite, Ava begins to put the panties on over her outfit. As I’m mortifyingly embarrassed, there is a man dressed in a business suit looking at me with a horrified look and a mom with a stroller next to me looking at me with the “glad it’s not me” look.

I’m sure the fun is just beginning, but I have to say, those are so far my top #MomFails! What

are yours?