Thursday, June 27, 2013

Who I Am or Who Am I?

I have filled many roles in my life. Some roles have been more influential than others, some longer than others, and some brought happiness while others rendered tears. There were times I wanted to give up, but early in life I adopted my own personal motto, “Never give up; never give in.” If a motto is what it takes to see you through, then by all means find you a motto that summons up the power to conquer… conquer the task, the job, the role, and even life when it has you in a choke hold.

My roles are probably very similar to yours. I have worn many hats throughout my life with most of them overlapping at some point. Often it is very hard to determine which hat should be worn at which moment.
I’m sure you have heard the old adage, “Giving it 110%”. Seriously? Do you ever feel there is no way you can wear all those hats and give every role 110%? It’s just not humanly possible, so stop beating yourself up. You have to find ways to split your time, reduce the number of hats worn at once, and prioritize your life. Just because you wake up in the morning and think “Hey, I’m going to be a painter today!” does not mean that you are a failure in all your other roles. It doesn't mean that you are a bad mother because you decide to hang your mother’s cap on the chair for a couple hours while you take a little time to experience another hat or fulfill another role.  

We are not defined by our roles in life. We are defined by the choices we make, the freedom we take, and what we give freely of ourselves. We have to realize that we have no choice but to fail in life if we try wearing 50 hats at once. We are always chasing that almighty 110% just to realize it is forever just out of our reach. Take time out to focus on one role and feel free to delve deeply into that 110%. I assure you, succeeding in one role at a time is far better than failing in all of them. So… slow down, take a breath, and pick out that one hat you really want to wear right now, right this moment, and give it your 110%.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Friday, June 21, 2013

Childhood Obesity

Parents today want the same things for their kids that every other generation has wanted. We want our kids to be successful, happy and healthy. Sadly, that is not the case in many homes today. As children and families become more sedentary, parents have to work longer hours and screens like TV, computers, phones, etc. are constantly distracting kids and keeping them from being active. Their health is declining at an alarming rate. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Today, approximately one in three American kids or teens is considered overweight or obese. This rate is nearly triple the rate of childhood obesity in 1963. As parents get busier and kids become more sedentary, this epidemic continues to grow. Today’s children are being diagnosed with diseases that have historically been “adult problems”, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. In addition to the physical issues, these children are also experiencing more psychological issues such as low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression.

What can you do to give your kids the best chance at a healthy life?
  • Start by restricting screen time. Restrict the time they can sit and use these devices. Encourage them to go outside and play. After a healthy dinner, take the entire family for a walk around the neighborhood. If you don’t want to walk, pull out the bikes.
  • After work, take the kids outside and set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Use a rope or a garden hose to outline the course. You can then race the kids, or you can perform the course as a relay team.
  • Play ball! You can pull out a basketball, baseball, soccer ball, football, softball, kickball or any other ball that you have in the house. Get outside and divide the neighborhood into teams. You can mix kids and adults on teams, or you can have a kids versus adults game. A little competition is a good way to get kids interested.
  • Plant a garden. Not only will you get fresh vegetables for the table, but also your kids will get exercise working in the garden. Research shows that kids are more likely to eat vegetables that they grow. Take the kids to the local garden shop and let them pick out a few plants that they want. You may also plant a theme garden. For example: a pizza garden and include plants like tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, etc.
Get outside with your kids and show them the way to be healthy. Children will do what their parents do; just telling them to do something is not enough. You must be willing to play with them and interact. These are the days that your kids will remember. They will not remember sitting down to watch TV each night; they will remember the games you played outside or the hikes you took together. Take the time to teach your children about health and wellness. It will be a lesson that stays with them for a lifetime!

By: Angie @ Kids Matter

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Habla Espanol

The number of Americans who speak Spanish as their first language has doubled since 1990. Everywhere we look, Spanish is becoming a part of our everyday lives. To many, unfortunately, this signifies the end of American society as we know it. The reality of the situation need not be so scary or apocalyptic, and can, instead, be an opportunity to think outside the box and open our hearts and minds in a new and exciting way.
I suppose this fear of the unknown isn't entirely our fault. We live in such a large country where a person can travel a thousand miles in each direction and still be surrounded by people who look and speak like him or her (although my southern accent has turned a few heads).  It would also explain why most of us are monolingual. Simply put, we have never had to speak anything else. Thankfully, the world is changing. And because of technology that is allowing us to be more connected than ever, we are slowly becoming global citizens who are more aware of the world around us.

OK, so you may be asking, “What does all this have to do with me, my family, or my childcare?” Well, as you may have noticed already, our classrooms are changing. Our students are now required to work side by side with others who may come from a different culture, religion, or even speak a different language. This can be a wonderful, enriching experience that not only opens your child’s eyes to a different world, but can also help them become more compassionate and accepting adults. 

How your child deals with these experiences, however, is ultimately up to you. Encourage your child to become friends with a student from another country. Play music from a different culture in your home! Cook a dish from a different country once a week! The possibilities are endless! Lastly, although few of us have ever lived in another country where everything is new, different and weird, encourage your child to become a more empathetic and compassionate individual. Teach them to be patient with a student who may have trouble completing the assignment in English (Can you imagine having to write an essay in Chinese?).  And always, ALWAYS, encourage them to stand up for what is right and good even in the face of bullies or at the risk of being unpopular. It is when, and only when, we stop seeing those who are different as the “other” that we can finally begin treating each other with the love and respect that we all deserve as part of the same human family.

Finally, we all want our children to succeed in their careers and personally. And in a world that will ask your children to do things differently than we did, teaching them patience and acceptance is the first step to ensuring that our kids live in a more inclusive, peaceful, and loving world.

Que tenga un buen dia lleno de paz y de amor. (Have a good day full of peace and of love.)

Lynnsey@ Kids Matter

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Path Back to Nature

Following a butterfly across a field of wildflowers, lying in the grass picking out cloud animals, watching squirrels play a game of tag, or a father holding hands with his son as they walk gingerly through the woods in search of wild game are simple things that trigger fond memories from childhood. For many, sadly, this is not the case today. Somewhere, in the age of technology, our children have lost touch with nature. The closest some come to nature is the enchanted black forest in a computer game. It’s time to reintroduce our children to nature, as a family, and build memories while stimulating growth, intelligence, and physical fitness. Research has shown that regular time spent in nature facilitates better social and physical development; improves fitness, motor-skills, and well-being; supports creativity and imaginative play; inspires collaboration while reducing stress, violence and bullying; creates feelings of empathy; and supports whole-child development and learning.

The distance from nature that we have incurred as a “techno” family has triggered alarming trends in the increase of obesity, attention disorders, and even depression in our children. The 2012 Kids Count Data Statistics show that only eight states in the U.S. have a higher rate of children with one or more emotional, behavioral or developmental conditions than Kentucky. Research indicates that nature has a calming effect, and taking into account the fast paced lives that we lead, we are all well aware of the need to relax. Introducing our children back to nature is a step in the right direction toward stabilizing their emotional and physical well-being.

This is an opportunity for you to merge the worlds of nature and technology which, in turn, will take you into a whole new relaxing, yet stimulating, world. There are many sites related to nature on the internet. Here are some tips to help you learn where to start. A must stop in your search is a site by Richard Louv, author of the bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005). Louv has defined a term, “nature-deficit disorder”. This term explains exactly what occurs when limiting or removing nature from the upbringing of our children. Last Child in the Woods is part of a growing movement termed, “Leave No Child Inside”.

If you are ready to take that leap, to create everlasting memories while focusing on the mental and physical growth of your child, you are just a click away.

1. Richard Louv's website- Children and nature movement and how you can get involved.

2. Children and Nature Network - A Stronger, Closer Family.

3. National Environmental Education Foundation - Children and Nature Initiative Prescriptions for Outdoor Activity

4. National Wildlife Federation - Connecting Kids and Nature: Working towards 10 Million Kids Outdoors.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spring Training

          Spring! What a glorious time of year! Trees are budding, flowers shooting to the sun, the smell of fresh cut grass and rain tickling its way through an open window. With spring on my mind, I am transported back to my days as a director in Lexington, and all the headaches that can come with it!

          I am thinking of all the things daycare directors go through this time of year! Getting your summer calendars ready, collecting sunscreen application forms, having employees calling in a little more than normal, and so on! Believe me, I've been there!

          I think though, the best foot to put forward as you crack yourselves out of the winter cocoon is to start with the basics… staff! Staffing is vital to a center’s success. Your center cannot run without an educated, compassionate staff. I have a few pointers to help in creating and nurturing the perfect staff!

          Motivating staff starts with a no nonsense attitude when it comes to state policy! Make sure your staff is completely aware of all state regulations by providing them a copy of the licensing regulations upon hiring.  

It can be difficult being an early educator at times. You, as their leader, need to rise to the occasion and comfort them! A really good way is to hold annual reviews in the spring. Ask each employee to review the center and what they would like to see change over the coming months. A group outing is always fun, or perhaps a spring pot luck with a recipe contest.

Training is, in my opinion, the most effective way to build a qualified and creative early education team. It is mandatory that all those who work in Kentucky day cares have 15 training hours per year. If your budget can allow it, host a professional development day. Close your center for a day and provide two training classes. Have one focus on Infant/Toddler and one on Preschool/School Age. After the trainers are gone, break staff into smaller groups. Ask them to plan a whole day’s curriculum and meals around your training topics. Finally, have them present their work to the rest of the staff. This inspires your staff to think outside the box, and gets them motivated to attend more training!

We at The CCC provide some of the best training in the state of Kentucky! We would be more than happy to help you and your team! Check out our Professional Development section of our website.

Julia @ Kids Matter

Monday, June 17, 2013

Meet the "Blog Squad"

In an effort to provide a diverse blog, the Child Care Council of Kentucky surveyed our staff to see who would be interested in writing for the Kids Matter Blog.

We had several people interested in writing and they submitted "samples" of their writing. Once there was time to read through the entries, we were thrilled to find that we not only have staff that are amazing at their jobs, but we also employ some great writers with a diverse selection of passions.

The "Blog Squad" was born and we had several talks and meetings to discuss the best way to proceed. We are confident that you will enjoy the diversity of our new Blog Squad and we are thrilled to get back onto schedule for posting. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know. You can comment on the blog posts or you can always email us at

Without any further delay, I would like to introduce you to the new Blog Squad!

Hello! My name is Julia and I am an Eligibility Specialist with the Child Care Council of Kentucky. My background has been on the other side of the desk as a Preschool/Head Start Teacher, Observation Specialist with Head Start, and an Assistant Director in a STARS rated Child Care Center. I am passionate about curriculum and educating educators! I am all about bringing creative learning to all ages starting as early as the Infant Room. I look forward to bringing you- the director the latest in curriculum, themes, prop boxing, staff management, training, and inspirational leadership for staff, children, and families throughout Kentucky!

Julia @ Kids Matter


Because of you Lynnsey, the next time we meet an American we will know that you aren’t all bad."
-Former Ecuadorian Student

Hello! My name is Lynnsey and I work in the Call Center with the Child Care Council of Kentucky. After two years in the Peace Corps, I returned to the United States determined, more than ever, to make a difference in the lives of those whose voice is not always heard; those who are rejected by a society who judges you by the brand of shoes on your feet and the size of the television in your living room. What can you expect from my blog? Well, I want to teach. I want to be heard. I want to change lives. I want to share with my people the beauty of a world that isn't always as scary as we think.

Lynnsey @ Kids Matter


Hello! My name is Betty Ann and I am the Special Projects Coordinator with the Child Care Council of Kentucky. I have been in the “people business” for my whole career.  All kinds of people of all ages, men, women, families and children have crossed my path. Surely there is a reason. Do they know what it is? Do I know what it is?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes, well, just maybe.
What people do and how they do it, what people say and how they say it, their ideas, my ideas, their talents, my talents……….then throw in some emotion, laughter, passion and love of life and there you have an idea of what to expect when you read my blog posts.  

BA @ Kids Matter


Hello! My name is Belinda and I am an Eligibility Specialist with the Child Care Council of Kentucky. Writing is not a menial task, a chore, a roadblock … writing is a passion, a search for the perfect flow of motivating and artistic wording that will draw in the reader. As a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of twelve I find myself writing many genres and always in search of creative expression through not only writing but photography as well. My purpose in blogging is to excite the parent into activities that will bring family unity, unwavering family bonds, and memories that will automatically light the darkest of nights with a smile. Those memories, that in looking back, always start with, “When I was a kid I remember…” There is no fonder a memory than being a child and remembering the good times shared with parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Belinda @ Kids Matter


Hi, I’m Robin.  I've worked at the Child Care Council of KY for 12 years.  I have never blogged before, so am excited about trying something new.  I don’t have a specific area of interest for writing yet, so my blog subjects may vary.  However, I do have a general interest in conservation of natural resources, traveling, experiencing different cultures, and encouraging multi-cultural interactions.  

Robin @ Kids Matter


Hi! I am Angie and I am the Office Manger at the CCC. I have worked for the Child Care Council of Kentucky for almost 5 years. I worked exclusively on writing the blog until job duties changed and it became too much for one person. My main interests lie in helping parents to help their children. Whether it is an education issue, a wellness issue or many other things, that is where my interest lies. I am fond of saying, "You do not need a million dollars or a Master's Degree to help a child." I look forward to getting back into writing and posting blogs!

Angie @ Kids Matter


We look forward to interacting with you soon!