Summer Safety

Don’t let summer heat spoil your outside fun

Baby, it’s hot outside! And, it’s only getting warmer as we head into July. Whether if your children are home with you all day, or in some type of summer child care, outdoor play is healthy for them. Outdoor time, even when it is hot, cold and rainy, provides kids with a chance to develop and enhance large motor skills, release extra energy in an open environment, and experience change for sensory stimulation.

Child care programs and summer camps should ensure that children of all ages, including babies, have time for playtime outside each day, weather permitting. In Georgia, young children who are in a child care program for more than five hours per day should get a minimum of an hour and a half outside! Infants should receive at least one hour. Programs that are less than five hours are still required to provide the children with outdoor stimulation but for no set amount of time.

Tips to make the most of the outdoors during summer:

  • Schedule outdoor time earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon.
  • Divide outdoor time into two, or even, three sessions.
  • Keep a variety of extra clothes for children in case of water play or if the clothes they wore that day are not appropriate for a hot day.
  • Make excursions to play areas or parks with lots of shade.
  • Create safe water play activities with water tables, sprinklers and wet pads.
  • Have cooling stations setup outside: a fan with water spray, plenty of drinkable water accessible to children, and shade.

Safety Tips:

  • Parents should apply SPF before dropping children off at camp or child care.
  • Keep babies out of direct sunlight for long periods.
  • Never, ever leave a child unattended in a vehicle even for a few minutes. #LookAgain
  • Watch for signs of heat-related illness: Cramps, very high body temperature, rapid pulse, dizziness, extreme headache, nausea/vomiting, athlete not sweating, confusion, paleness, fewer wet diapers for babies, and extreme sweating.
  • Use an effective insect repellant while playing outside.
  • Check to make sure that playground equipment isn’t too hot to the touch.
  • Dress children in loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing.

More information:

Eat fresh! Feel good!

Eat fresh! Feel good!

Eating fresh does not have to be expensive or hard. There are so many fruits and vegetables in season and available at local farmer’s markets, grocery stores or you can even plant now to keep eating fresh produce through late summer and early fall.

What are the benefits of eating fresh?

  • Fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals to help keep you healthy and energized.
  • These foods are loaded with fiber, which fills you up and helps your digestion.
  • Veggies and fruits reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.
  • Fresh produce is often called nature’s fast food because they are easy to prepare and eat!
  • You can save money! Eat more veggies with a goal to fill half of your plate. Also, produce is usually less expensive and leftover veggies can be frozen.

What’s in season now?

  • Lima beans, pole beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, okra, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, butter lettuce, zucchini, beets, apricots, cantaloupe, blackberries, garlic and lots more! 

Plan to grow:

  • Decide if you want to start with a small container or in the ground.
  • Pick a sunny spot for certain vegetables, or a shady spot for leafy greens.
  • Check your soil: Is there good drainage? Does your soil need some TLC with the addition of compost or manure?
  • Find out what you can plant in June and July, and source seeds or small plants.
  • Draw with your child what you want the garden to look like.

Don’t wait for the fall crops to come in. Appoint your child as sous chef to help in the kitchen now:

  • Give your child a shopping list when visiting the store or farmer’s market.
  • Put your kids in charge of washing all fruits and vegetables.
  • Teach your child how to handle knives properly and oversee dicing and cutting.
  • Research kid-friendly recipes together and plan mealtimes.
  • Let the kids sprinkle herbs or other seasonings onto vegetables.

More information:

Understanding Quality

We know “quality” child care is important, but what does it look like?

First of all, the effects of high and poor quality child care can have a life-long impact on children. It’s essential that the care children receive during the first few years of life, when their brains are developing the most, is nurturing and centered around the skills and tools they need to develop most.

Not all child care is alike. Look for these characteristics of programs that tend to be of higher quality:

  • Low adult-to-child ratios
  • Developmentally appropriate activities
  • Well-educated, consistent, responsive and attentive care givers
  • Individualized instruction
  • A child-centered philosophy and curriculum that prepares children for life-long learning
  • Active learning and social-emotional development are equally important
  • The program is licensed and accredited through state quality recognition programs, such as Georgia’s Quality Rated program.
  • A creative and stimulating learning and play environment
  • Parent involvement is encouraged

While visiting, observe the children. Children in high quality programs are more likely to:

  • Be happier overall
  • Have better language and communication skills
  • Be more engaged in the activities happening
  • Be less aggressive and more willing to share

More information:

Thank your Provider

Thank your child care provider!

While modern moms and dads are spending more time with their children than parents of any other time since the 60s, a large majority of children under five years old are still spending 35 hours or more in a child care setting each week. Chances are, your child is with a child care provider – in-home, a center-based program or a nanny – for a large part of her day.

What would you do without your child care provider? How would you work? Who would wipe your child’s tears and give out hugs and kisses when you can’t be there? Consider how lucky you are to have found someone who shares the same objectives for your child as you do: to keep her safe, let her know she is loved, and help provide the skills she’ll need to be successful and happy later in life!

May is recognized as Child Care Provider Month. Take this month to let the special people who are taking care of your child know how much they mean to your family.

What can you do?

  • Take a few extra minutes to tell your child care provider “thank you.”
  • Celebrate Child Care Provider Appreciation Day – Friday, May 11.
  • Write a note expressing your appreciation and help your child write one from her too.
  • Initiate a week of love and appreciation where all the parents in your child care program bring in treats, notes, and flowers to be given to the staff.
  • Give your child care provider a gift, small bonus or a paid day off.
  • Bring the staff breakfast, coffee, donuts or fresh fruit one morning.
  • Donate something to your provider’s play area.
  • Ask your child what she wants to do to show her thanks to her child care provider, and then help make it happen!

More information:

Tracking Milestones 101

Tracking developmental milestones 101!

As we explained in a Georgia Parent Power blog post earlier this year, paying attention to your child’s developmental milestones can go a long way in helping you support your child’s individual development of important skills as well as give you an early warning if your child seems to be having problems. Remember, each child is unique and so is their development and mastering of skills.

When tracking milestones, children most often achieve certain skill levels within a specific age range. Your child may reach some skills ahead of the suggested age and others a few weeks after. Developmental milestone age ranges should be used as a guideline, not as an absolute timeframe. However, these research-based parameters are valuable in identifying possible delays and concerns early which allows for intervention sooner.

What milestones should you track?

The good news is that it has never been easier to understand and track your child’s development. There are many different organizations that provide explanations, checklists and even free, easy-to-use apps for use on your smartphone or other device.

  • Milestone tracking most often begins at two months of age, and last through your child’s fifth year. Find a source that list the milestones, along with examples, you should be aware of for each age.
  • Utilize checklists that assess gross and fine motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and social skills.
  • Be aware that “developmental” milestones differ from “growth” milestones. Developmental is concerned with the learning of more complex abilities while growth refers to a child’s size.

What should you do if your child is not meeting the milestones for his age?

If you are concerned about your child’s progress and think there could be a problem, call your pediatrician to share your worries. Be sure to talk with other important people in your child’s life such as grandparents and child care providers to help you monitor his progress and support his development.

More information:

Summer Camp Safety

Summer Camp Planning

Summer camp should be fun! But it’s also important that summer camps be a safe place for children to play and learn. Be a wise consumer in selecting the right camp experience for your child.

This year Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is partnering with Quality Care for Children (QCC) to help parents find summer camps and child care programs for the summer. Parents can verify their camps by visiting to see if it is either licensed or exempt from licensing.

If parents prefer, they can speak with a summer camp referral specialist by calling 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS (877-255-4254) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. with early hours beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Monday/Wednesday and extended hours until 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday/Thursday.

QCC encourages parents to consider the following questions when selecting a summer camp or child care program:

  • Is the program licensed, Quality Rated, or accredited? If not, has the program been granted an exemption by DECAL?
  • Has the owner/operator screened all staff, with what methods, and how thoroughly?
  • What are the hours of operation, fees, and payment procedures?
  • Are parents/guardians welcome to visit at all times?
  • Is there a daily lesson plan?
  • What are the program’s health, safety, and nutrition policies and procedures?
  • Does the staff/child ratio and group size fit into the Georgia maximum staff-to-child ratio?
  • Is the staff well-trained? Do they have experience with early childhood/school-age care or children with special needs? What about CPR and First Aid training, or appropriate licensing for transporting children?