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Adventure/Outdoors Biking Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Play/Outdoor Super Activities for Super Kids

Biking: 6 Practical Tips for Families

Whether you love a leisurely ride or a real off-road adventure, find a type of biking that appeals to your family. Here are 6 practical tips to get kids started with family-friendly biking.

Source: Flickr

By the ActivityHero Team with Guest Amanda Wilks

Kids are often tempted to spend hours of their unstructured play time glued to electronic devices. Instead, why not encourage them to go out for a ride? With many benefits for the body and mind, biking is a healthy outdoor activity that can be done at almost any age. Looking to try it out? Here’s expert advice on sizing, types, gear, classes, and specialized activities like mountain biking.

1. Get Fitted

The most important step is to measure your child’s Inseam. A bicycle inseam (or leg length) is not the same as a clothing inseam.

To measure, grab a book and a tape measurer. The child should stand with her back against a wall, spreading her feet about 6 inches apart, either barefoot or in socks. Place a book between her legs, close to the crotch to mimic the bike seat.

Measure from the top of the book (that is, the spine) down to the floor. Choosing a slightly larger bike is fine in order to leave a little room to grow into. Avoid choosing a size which is too far off the mark for your child, which would impede his ability to learn correct riding habits and even expose him to greater danger.

2. Choose the Right Bike

Depending on your interests, there are three main styles of bike: road, mountain, and “hybrid” (a blend between the two), depending on your interests.

If you’re interested in mountain biking, according to MountainBikeReviewed, you can easily find and buy sturdy bikes for less than $300, like the Mongoose Statis Comp, the Villano Blackjack 2.0 or the Schwinn High Timber. Other great mountain bike brands which are geared towards kids are Spawn, Cleary, Early Rider, Pello and Stampede. Many mountain bikes are, contrary to opinion, quite cost-effective.

For road bikes, your local bike shop should have recommendations. Online retailers like Amazon will often have many customer reviews posted. There are also online outfits like BikeExchange if you prefer doing research online.

No matter what style you go with, when the child stands over the bike, there should be a 1-2 “ space between the crotch and the top bar of the bike. Also, “a beginner should be able to plant both feet flat on the ground when getting off the bike, which ensures safety and helps with confidence,” recommends Nick Pavlakis of Pedalheads, a learn-to-ride bike camp based in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Chicago.

Ideally, the right bike choice should be made based on the wheel size, not the frame size. Use the chart below:

Wheel Size 12″ —> Age 2 -3 —> Height 2’10 – 3’4

Wheel Size 14″ —> Age 3 -4 —> Height 3’1 – 3’7

Wheel Size 16″ —> Age 4-5 —> Height 3’7 – 4’0 

Wheel Size 20’ —> Age 5-8 —> Height 4’0 – 4’5

Wheel Size 24′ —>  Age 8-11 —> Height  4’5 – 4’9 

Wheel Size 26′ —> Age 11+ —> Height 4’9

These are rough approximations and, since every child is unique, you should use these numbers only as a guide.

3. Get Essential Gear

A good helmet which protects the brain is the single most important safety feature you must have. Make sure it fits, covers the entirety of the forehead and is properly ventilated. According to Pavlakis of Pedalheads, “research shows that up to 90% of fatal bicycle crashes result from head trauma,” so using a properly fitted and certified helmet will protect the head and brain from damage, which might save your child’s life. Note that helmets are mandatory for children under the age of 16 in most areas. “Check that there is no more than a two-finger gap between your eyebrows and the front part of the helmet,” advises Pavlakis.

Layer up with season-appropriate clothing. In summer, light clothing with good arm and leg coverage will protect from sun, and in cooler temperatures, don’t forget gloves, warm socks, and a wind-proof shell.

For urban and suburban biking, invest in a solid bicycle lock.

If you want to take the whole family along but have younger children who aren’t yet able to pedal on their own steam, the most common options are: Trailers (a wheeled carriage which attaches in back of a bicycle), Pedal-less Bikes (also called Balance Bikes, where kids push off the ground to move forward), and Trail-a-Bikes (a seat plus single-wheel that attaches to a bicycle, allowing pedaling without steering capabilities).

4. Find Classes or Camps

Classes and camps will generally cover the four basic rules of bike riding:

  • Riding in a straight line without deviating from it;
  • Looking back without losing balance or swerving;
  • Stopping the bike using the brakes, taking into account the surroundings;
  • Good speed control and adapting it in accordance with the terrain.

After mastering these basics, group classes are a great way for kids to learn important skills like giving hand signals, negotiating hilly terrain, understanding road signs and dangers, following traffic flow, and practicing proper spacing between riders.

 Find biking camps and classes near me > >

As a side note, older kids will benefit from learning some everyday maintenance routines, like checking the bike tire’s air pressure, putting the chain back together, and testing the brakes, often covered in more advanced classes or camps.

More inclined to teach on your own? Here’s a helpful guide.  Remember to read up on safety do’s and don’ts. If you get to the stage where a child is nearly ready to remove the training wheels, Pavlakis advises parents to take their time: “Don’t rush the process. Taking the training wheels off too early can become a negative experience for the child and may lead to resistance in learning.”

5. Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a sport that is growing rapidly in popularity by offering excitement, challenge, and unique outdoor settings. To get kids started with mountain biking, you should remember that at the outset, your child might not have the physical endurance or the attention span needed to finish a certain route. Try increasing trip difficulty and length gradually to make the learning process smoother.

First, make sure your child is very capable and comfortable traversing flat, easy terrain. Then transition to doubletrack dirt trails with varying degrees of difficulty and topography. Plan ahead to reduce the chance of accidents. Initially choose short, fun routes that you know well and that you feel your kid can complete with relative ease. Have fun increasing the level of difficulty over time!

6. Find Focus, Stay Safe

Pavlakis recommends that beginning bikers “maintain focus and awareness at all times,” of the conditions on their road or trail to reinforce safe habits. Biking is a perfect way to leave behind the distractedness of everyday life and be more fully engaged in the present. Have fun!

On a roll? Check updated schedules and reviews of popular biking camps and classes in your area on ActivityHero.

About the author

Amanda Wilks is a writer, veteran MTB rider and sports advocate. Her passion for mountain biking dates back to her childhood, when she would join her dad every weekend for a quick ride uphill. She is now addicted to the sport and she never misses a trail. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter.

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Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Parenting Resources Vacations

5 Tips When Kids Won’t Listen

Does it feel impossible to get your child’s attention? Does your child tune you out when you have something important to say? When you are frustrated because your child is not listening, try these 5 tips to make communicating with kids more productive and get kids to really listen.

By Wendy Chou

Susan Stone Belton is a noted author and speaker on family and parenting issues. Her book, Real Parents, Real Kids, Real Talk, has excellent advice for saving our sanity, one day at a time. Here are some of the tips we learned from the book.

1. Talk less

Fewer words will have more impact and staying power. Remember the saying about drinking from a firehose? Kids are better able to process directions when you prepare your main point in advance and stay laser-focused. For many parents, this doesn’t come naturally. But that’s OK, because –guaranteed — you can get in a lot of practice! Keep trying. And do keep the tone neutral or positive, rather than negative.

2. Listen more

Role model the way you want your kids to listen to you. Don’t interrupt or be dismissive. “If we want our kids to listen to us, we need to listen more. We need to give our kids our full attention. We need to feel that what they are saying is important. We need to be patient and listen to their entire story,” says Stone Belton. She recommends a strategy called “Listen and acknowledge; then respond.” With a billion things running through a parent’s head at any given moment, it’s easy to tune out the things our kids are telling us. Monkey see, monkey do.

Kids who feel heard are more likely to reciprocate. So slow down and really absorb what they are saying before responding. A thoughtful response shows a child that what they said matters to you. The child may not be able to move past their own thoughts until they feel heard and understood. It also prepares them to listen to you.

3. Use non-verbal cues

When children are absorbed in their task and don’t respond to your voice, try another approach. Getting close and putting a hand on their shoulder makes a big difference in getting someone’s attention.

With younger children, get down on one knee to be at their eye level, which can create a better connection.

4. Seek out opportunities for communication

Family schedules can get packed, so making connections with each other sometimes needs a little forethought. The classic example is nightly conversations around the dinner table. But even if you’re on the go, parents can still connect with kids in the car — say, on the way to soccer practice or choir rehearsal. Other kids may enjoy talking about the day’s events just before bedtime.

Know your own kids and when they feel most comfortable opening up. Some kids open up more if you’re not even there — for instance, through text messages or written notes — because these forms of communication are more neutral and less emotional. Make a mental note of what works for your family. These everyday moments, especially added up over time, are valuable!

5. Schedule in low-tech “no phones” time

Sometimes all we need is a digital break to be able to reconnect with each other. For some pointers, check ActivityHero’s blog post on how to turn off distracting smartphones.

Susan Stone Belton is a parenting/family coach and author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her website is: http://susanstonebelton.com/

Families: ActivityHero is your convenient online destination for kids’ after-school activities and summer camps. Browse schedules, read reviews, and book your whole summer with our easy registration form.

Wendy Chou is a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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for Providers

Nine Finalists Selected in the ActivityHero Grant Contest

Nine Finalists Now Qualify for the $10,000 Grand Prize to be Announced in August.

Congratulations to the nine finalists who have each won a $500 ActivityHero Grant, which includes services from ActivityHero, GoDaddy, 4imprint and PsPrint. They now advance to the judging round and the Grand Prize Winner of $10,000 in cash and services will be chosen by a panel of judges. Stay tuned for the announcement on August 15, 2018.

The July Finalists

The three July finalists received many votes and reviews from their supporters. Here’s more about each of the finalists and how they would like to use the ActivityHero Grant.

Youth Technology Learning Center – YTLC came into existence in the service of promoting and propelling the undernourished technology focus needed in this world by providing a nurturing and fertile soil to firmly plant the seeds of STEM in future generations. They prime and empower their students to meet the diverse and emerging needs of a technology driven world.

“Our ultimate vision is to provide a STEM center for children in need who may not otherwise be able to afford such classes. A grant would greatly help us in our efforts to bring this dream to fruition.”

 

Cook n Grow – Through interactive learning, children are taught cooking and baking techniques, etiquette and table manners, cognitive measuring skills and more. Adults can enjoy Cook N Grow to learn how to make an exquisite dish themselves, or for a fun date night!

We love our Community and give back constantly through our philanthropies. We give College Students an opportunity to have a flexible part time job while having a job they truly enjoy. Working with kids is so rewarding! We strongly believe that by teaching kids where food comes from and expose them to healthy habits, they’ll make better decisions about what to put into their bodies.”
project ember logo

Project EmberWe ask kids to dream big and work hard. Our projects are ambitious; creative thinking and curiosity alone won’t see us to the finish line. We need elbow grease and resilience to get it done. We need grit.Grit separates brilliant ideas from brilliant creations. Thinking is easy, starting is hard, and finishing can seem nearly impossible. Grit get us to the other side of the hurdles that stand between us and successfully bringing our ideas to life.

“We’re committed to making our program accessible to each and every child who wants to attend. Though we are still building toward solvency, we have said yes to almost 100% of the campers who have requested scholarships since our program began, giving away over $30k in financial assistance in 2018 alone…The ActivityHero grant would cover 1/6 of our scholarship requests, greatly alleviating the pressure on our organization to stay afloat while providing access to an inspiring group of young people.

The June Finalists

The three June finalists collectively received 800 votes since April 1, 2018. Here’s more about each of the finalists and how they would like to use the ActivityHero Grant.

Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park -Wild Blue Ropes’ camp offers specific daily activities that are balanced between structured and unstructured play. Campers learn how to work with others, build meaningful relationships, accept guidance, and develop decision-making skills. All of these life skills nurture independence and confidence. The unique, co-ed program is designed for ages 8 – 14 years.

“An ActivityHero Grant would help us grow Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park’s offering – specifically our new NinjaFit Course… Once completed, the NinjaFit Course at Wild Blue Ropes will offer classes, open course, and personal training for individuals of all ages and abilities. Our focus is to provide yet another safe, healthy, outdoor challenge for visitors to enjoy.”

Golden Bear Gymnastics At Golden Bear our coaches take great pride and care when instructing your children. Although a majority of our classes are as a group, our coaches pay close attention and work with each child individually to help build and emphasize their skill sets. 

“Given the extensive facilities and skilled coaching required to run a gym, the cost of competitions, uniforms and travel, participating in gymnastics is often accessible only to children of families with financial means. We believe that all children can benefit from the lessons learned through gymnastics: discipline, hard work, teamwork, strength and agility, empowerment…We would be thrilled to use an ActivityHero Grant to provide scholarships to lower income youth who may not otherwise be able to participate in this transformative sport.”

Empower and Help – At Empower and Help we create future leaders with integrity that make this world a better place for themselves and others.Our camps and year round classes teach students to reach their highest potential by deepening their experience of life, focusing on positive mindset, possibilities and understanding how to integrate and maintain values such as love, respect, integrity, etc

“The ActivityHero grant will immensely assist us in:
1) Offering our workshops and classes to families who cannot afford at a subsidized rate or for free.
2) Training our team on advanced techniques through various courses to support our goal of empowering and helping others
3) Building the “Help” portion of our website which will be dedicated for social good projects and creating a searchable database on Mental health aid and resources.”

The May Finalists

The three May finalists collectively received 500 votes and 100 reviews since April 1, 2018. Here’s more about each of the finalists and how they would like to use the ActivityHero Grant.

Rock Band Land

Rock Band Land – Offering camps and classes for kids ages 5 to 12 in San Francisco, California, Rock Band Land focuses on creative expression and collaboration through rock music, storytelling, writing, video arts, fine arts, and movement. Here’s how they would use the ActivityHero Grant if they win the Grand Prize:

“In September 2018, we are expanding into a space that is almost four times the size of the current Rock Band Land Headquarters. We are incredibly excited for this move as it means that we can expand upon our programming and projects for our rockers and artists…An ActivityHero grant would allow us to use funds towards the purchase of instruments, computers, and materials to best outfit our classes.”

Tri-City Storm Soccer ClubTri-City Storm Soccer ClubTri-City Storm Soccer Club provides members of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to play soccer and develop as individuals. They offer year-round programs for players as young as 4 up to 54 (or older). Between the Recreation, Academy, Select and Adult Programs, you are sure to find the perfect environment to play soccer and have fun! Here’s how they would use the ActivityHero Grant if they win the Grand Prize:

“Tri-City Storm Soccer Club is in the process of negotiating to purchase an indoor facility. This would allow us to grow our programs by providing us with a dedicated space to play soccer, even during our cold winter months. We also would like to expand our ability to provide soccer to the youngest members of our community through our Playground Legends program where we send coaches to daycares to hold camps at their facilities.”

Kerry Wynne, program administrator for the Club, said that in addition to the possibility of winning a grant, the grant contest is giving them an unexpected benefit of seeing how the community supports the club with votes and reviews. She says, “The reviews have come from participants in all of our programs, from recreational to competitive teams. It’s been so gratifying and motivating to see how much people care about our program.”

Kid Stock, Inc.

Kid StockAt Kid Stock, they believe that everyone should have the chance to shine. Their mission is to help children from all backgrounds realize their potential through musical theater and self-expression during summer camps and after-school programs. Here’s how they would use the ActivityHero Grant if they win the Grand Prize:

“An ActivityHero Grant will help our business threefold. It will cover the increased operating expenses for our summer programs; it will support our move to our new headquarters without putting strain on our programs budget; and it will allow us to continue expanding our program options to meet the needs of returning and new participants alike. All in all, support from ActivityHero and votes from our Kid Stock families allow us to offer more of our programming for more children—that means more camp locations around the Bay Area, more dates for popular sites, and more kids learning the joys of self-expression and having their best summer yet!”

Gift Card Winners

The final three $25 ActivityHero gift card winners have been randomly selected as well, and are now eligible to have their gift card value increased to $100 if the activity provider they reviewed or voted for wins the Grand or Silver prizes in August.

Congratulations to:

  • Heidi Vasconi (Voted for Golden Bear Gymnastics)
  • Lauren Jones (Voted for Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park)
  • Brett Galvin (Voted for Empower and Help)
  • Sharon Aris (Voted for Rock Band Land)
  • Tina Stowman (Voted for Tri-City Storm Club)
  • Katie Miller (Voted for Kid Stock)
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Contests for Providers

ActivityHero Grant Contest Top 10 Leaderboard

An update on the current Leaderboard in the ActivityHero Grant Contest.

With thousands of votes and hundreds of new reviews posted over the past few weeks, ActivityHero families are helping increase the odds that their favorite camp, class and activity providers will win a share of over $15,000 in cash and prizes in the ActivityHero Grant Contest. Congratulations to the six finalists who have been randomly selected from among the eligible contestants. In addition, the last drawing will take place on August 1 to bring the total number of finalists to nine.

Businesses need at least 3 reviews to be eligible for the monthly random drawings. For ideas, check out our recent blog post, Five Ways to Get More Reviews for Your Business with the ActivityHero Grant Contest.

These providers have made it to the Top 10 Leaderboard with the most entries based on their votes and reviews:

Rank Activity Provider Votes Reviews Total Entries
1 Freedom in Motion Gym 348 111 681
2 CD’s Kids Art Studio 333 17 384
3 Kidizens 149 50 299
4 Discover Science Center 155 34 257
5 Spartan Allstars 133 22 199
6 Andrew Simpkins Innovation Foundation 138 20 198
7 Coach Ken Soccer Academy 83 37 194
8 Youth Technology Learning Center (TYLC) 99 20 159
9 San Francisco Math Circle 116 12 152
10 Launch Generation 124 7 145


(*Results for eligible providers as of
July 19, 2018. Votes provide 1 entry and reviews provide 3 entries in the monthly drawings.)

Stay tuned for more updates on the Leaderboard throughout the summer. More entries increase the chance of winning, but don’t guarantee it. Any business who meets the criteria outlined in the Official Rules and has at least 3 reviews may be selected as a finalist. Activity providers can see their vote and review count by visiting their ActivityHero dashboard.

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Parenting Resources Science Science/Technology Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms Vacations

5 Kid-Friendly Podcasts for Road Trips

happy child on a road trip

Planning a summer road trip? These 5 podcasts can help keep curious kids entertained.

By Wendy Chou

Your bags are packed, the kids are strapped in, and you’ve hit the open road. As parents, we know all too well that having the right entertainment for a long car trip can make the difference between happy kids and hysterical ones. Whereas we used to have to spin the radio dial or organize our CD collections, smartphones can now fit hours of audio right in the palm of your hand. Podcasts just may be the best thing to happen to road trips since the cup holder. Best of all, more podcasts have come out that especially appeal to kids by offering engaging–and even educational–content. With topics ranging from self-empowerment to science, even adults might learn a thing or two while listening!

Start by Creating a Playlist

If you’re new to podcasts, you’ll need to use a podcast app to help you search for podcasts. Some popular podcast apps (also called Podcatchers) are Apple Podcasts and Instacast (both compatible with iOS), PocketCast (for Google Play, Android phones), and Stitcher (supports both platforms)

Now download your podcast to a smartphone or iPad. Both audio and video podcasts exist depending on your style.  

Download away! If you like a particular program, browse the archives and grab as many episodes as you want. They’re generally free. The only thing limiting you will be the amount of memory on your device.

A Few Caveats

Podcasts are free to listeners because they have regular sponsors who run advertisements. These ads can be off-putting to some. Another drawback to playing lots of podcasts is the danger of running down a phone battery, though with audio podcasts, this generally isn’t a big concern. If you’re worried, pack a spare source of power or plug into your car’s power source.

If you’re used to high-quality stereo sound, consider connecting your phone to an auxiliary input headphone jack, or (if available) even using a car’s Bluetooth capability to play your phone directly through your car’s speakers.

Make sure that you set up a playlist before you turn on the engine. To prevent dangerous distracted driving, only manipulate phones and other devices when you can do so safely!  

5 Recommended Podcasts for Kids

Slip on some headphones and test-drive these kid-approved audio podcasts.

Brains On! 

In every science-filled episode, host Molly Bloom is joined by a different kid co-host who helps interview scientists and field questions from kids across the country. It’s anything but textbook fare; there’s a good dose of silliness and fun. Recent topics have included the science of cooking, how paint sticks to things, and what causes allergies. My six-year-old loves to try to identify the “Mystery Sound” (stumpers submitted by kids across the country). Probably good for ages 6 – 13.

Dream Big 

Hosted by Eva Karpman, current 2nd-grader, who brings refreshing energy and positivity to the show. Eva is also accompanied by her mom, Olga, while interviewing special guests–astronauts, entrepreneurs, artists, authors, and more–and learning about their passions and their life journeys. The message of the show: follow your dreams and do what inspires you. Suitable for all ages.

Pants on Fire

If you like a game show format, try this. Kids try to figure out which adult is truly an expert and which adult is only pretending. Hosted by Debra Goldstein and a sidekick “robot”, there’s quite a bit of musical and sound accompaniment throughout to keep kids interested. The topics are very wide-ranging with something to appeal to everyone. As a concept, it’s smart, creative, and smoothly executed. Probably best for ages 6 – 11.

The Story Pirates

Welcome to storytelling with a zany vibe. The “pirates” are actually actors, comedians, improvisers, and musicians who share a lot of enthusiasm and humor. The stories they tell are written by actual kids who also get a moment in the show to talk about themselves. This is great catchy fun for any age (my kid was hooked after one episode), though if you’re looking for something more educational, there are others more suited to that.

Book Club for Kids 

This new addition to the podcast scene amassed a listenership of 300,000 kids in 2017. The format: a rotating panel of middle-schoolers chats with host Kitty Felde about fiction and non-fiction books. Their conversations encourage introspection, touch on current events, spark the imagination, and more. Each episode also features a celebrity guest reader. This podcast will appeal to older elementary school kids and middle graders who love to read; the website also has a list of books recommended by peers.

 

 

Need more ideas for your curious kid?  Here’s more great podcasts to try: Wow in the World, Pickle, ExtraBLURT, But Why, Ear Snacks, Smash Boom Best, Tumble. And also head over to our blog post on tips for screen-free travel with kids. Happy travels!

Looking for summer activities and camps? Activityhero.com is your all-in-one destination for updated schedules, parent reviews, and registration options.

About Wendy Chou

Wendy Chou is an environment writer and parent based in the Bay Area.

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Contests for Providers Uncategorized

Business Grants and Funding Sources for Activity Providers

If you’re a small business, take note of these 6 options–including grants, contests, and crowdfunding–to help you reach your funding goals.

By the ActivityHero Team

If the prospect of finding money to grow your small business leaves you feeling overwhelmed, intimidated, or confused, you’re not alone. According to a recent article in Small Biz Trends, 60 percent of small business owners never apply for funding to support innovation. Nearly half of the respondents didn’t apply because they believed they would be rejected or viewed the process as too complicated. One third said they weren’t aware grants were available.

Why Should I Apply?

Here’s the good news: developing a solid plan to fund improvements for your small business is smart advice, according to the report. For those businesses that did apply for funding, innovation drove financial success and improved productivity for businesses of all sizes, whether that innovation involved offering new services, improved marketing, or hiring.

To help streamline your search for alternative funding and small business grants, we’ve identified six sources of growth funding that have proven helpful for other kids’ camps and activity providers.

Small Business Grants

  1. NASE Micro-Business Grants are worth up to $4,000 each and applications are open to National Association for the Self-Employed members. Past recipients used their growth grants for computers, equipment, to hire part-time help, marketing materials, website creation and more. Past grant winners have come from a range of industries, including kid-oriented services like nutrition coaching and childcare. As a recent example, Let’s Have Fun Daycare was awarded a NASE Growth Grant in September 2017.  
  2. Amber Grants are exclusively for female business owners. Each month, one finalist receives a $1000 award. Those 12 finalists become eligible for a $10,000 Amber Grant awarded annually. In December 2017, Tiffany Rachann, owner of Imagiread, which offers family literacy classes and programs, was chosen as a finalist in the program.

Grant Contests

  1. Challenge.gov offers a searchable, centralized database of challenge and prize competitions run by more than 102 agencies across the federal government. These wide-ranging opportunities include business grants such as the SBA InnovateHer Challenge. That competition focuses on efforts that “have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families.” Last year, one of the 10 InnovateHer finalists was Jessica Dehn of Dino Drop-In, which offers childcare for busy families who have frequently changing work schedules.
  2. ActivityHero.com has a new business grant contest exclusively for kids’ camp & activity providers that will award $15,000 in cash and prizes. The first 3 of 9 finalists will be chosen in June, and the finalists are guaranteed to win $500 in services from ActivityHero, GoDaddy, 4Imprint, and PsPrint. A Grand Prize $10,000 winner and Silver Prize $3,000 winner will be announced on August 15. The sooner you apply the more chances you have to win. Apply at http://activityhero.com/go/grant

Crowdfunding

  1. Kickstarter’s mission is to bring creative projects to life. Over 60% of campaigns seeking $10,000 or less achieved their funding goal. Music, theater and dance projects are the most successful Kickstarter categories with funding success rates ranging from 50-62%. Dragon’s Haven, a summer camp that uses storytelling and role-playing to teach 21st-century skills to teens, successfully raised $5,000 with a two-month campaign they started in February of this year.
  2. GoFundMe.com is the largest social fundraising platform, and successful campaigns on the site focus on compelling stories and personal appeals. As an example, after Dover Academy’s 7th and 8th graders raised over $6,500 themselves for a special field trip to Yosemite National Park, their teacher Kacie Yarborough created a GoFundMe to help them raise the remaining $7,000.

ActivityHero is the leading online marketplace for kids’ classes, camps, and workshops. Be part of our network of providers and find out more about the range of services we provide.

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Vacations

6 Family-Friendly Summer Movies for 2018

The smell of fresh popcorn in an air-conditioned theater–who doesn’t love a summer trip to the movies? Check out these 6 great movies to bring your family to this summer!

Solo: A Star Wars Story (opens late May)

This latest offering in the mighty Star Wars franchise is a prequel in which young Han first meets future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian (a character introduced in Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back). Though the plot is being kept under wraps until the film opens, look for a strong supporting cast accompanying young Solo on his fast-paced galactic adventures. Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, and Woody Harrelson and directed by Ron Howard.

Good for: Tweens age 11+

 

Incredibles 2 (opens June)

It’s been 14 years since Pixar released The Incredibles, but the sequel appears well worth the wait, with wide-ranging appeal for kids as well as their parents (who will appreciate the in-jokes of superheroes getting stressed out by family life). Director Brad Bird and the original cast (including Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, and Samuel L. Jackson) return.

Good for: Everybody

 

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Opens July)

and

Teen Titans GO To the Movies (Opens July)

Young fans of these two series will get a kick out of these new animated films– one about a comic family of monsters and the other about a chummy band of superheroes, respectively. The language and positive messages are appropriate for small viewers, and nothing here is too scary or violent.

Good for: Littles (age 6 – 10)

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp (Opens July)

If you saw the 2015 original, you’ll know that actors Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly play Ant-Man and the Wasp, a charismatic duo who can become super-small yet remain super-strong. Also starring Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne. The film has more of a sense of humor than some of the other Marvel films, plus the thrilling action sequences we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Directed by Peyton Reed. 

Good for: Tweens age 11+, teens, adults

 

Eighth Grade (Opens July)

A good choice for indie film lovers. This coming-of-age story (part comedy, part drama), written and directed by Bo Burnham, had a great reception at the Sundance Film Festival. Critic Scott Menzel wrote: “This tour-de-force performance is one of the most authentic and honest portrayals of a teenager in cinema history.” In fact, the young woman playing the lead had never appeared on screen prior to this film. 

Good for: Teens, adults

 

Want more ideas for fun kid activities this summer? Check ActivityHero.com for schedules, reviews, and easy booking.

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for Providers Uncategorized

Top Tips to Manage Negative Reviews from Yelp Expert Darnell Holloway

The possibility of a negative review makes many owners of summer camps and kids’ classes feel nervous about online reviews. Yelp expert Darnell Holloway gives advice on how to use reviews to grow your business.

By ActivityHero Team



Online reviews and parent testimonials are an important part of the decision process to enroll a child at a summer camp or kids’ class. ActivityHero’s CEO Peggy Chang recently interviewed Darnell Holloway, Director of Business Outreach at Yelp, for advice on how to use reviews effectively and to manage your public presence.

Holloway is often referred to as the “Yelp Coach” and has helped countless businesses navigate the world of online reviews since 2009. In the podcast, Holloway gives advice on situations such as:

  • How to respond to negative online reviews
  • Ways to encourage your customers to write reviews (without asking them)
  • How to manage customer expectations such as cancellation policies

Listen Now

Use Reviews Effectively

Holloway shares an effective approach to customer service that keeps customers coming back:

  1. Have a 5-star state of mind, but you don’t have to have a perfect 5-star rating. A Northwestern University study found that people will be skeptical if all reviews are 5-stars.
  2. Responding to negative reviews needs to be a priority. Yelp studies have shown that if you respond within 24 hours and have a diplomatic and customer service oriented response, you have a 33% better chance of getting a better rating.
  3. Respond to positive reviews too – it shows that you are listening and deepens your relationship with happy customers.

Listen Now

Manage Your Public Presence

Most camps and kids’ activities have a Yelp profile page, even if they did not create it themselves. As Holloway explains in the podcast, businesses can claim their Yelp page for free and should make sure their business is categorized correctly as a summer camp or a certain activity type. He also gives tips for how to manage a Yelp profile if a business doesn’t have a permanent location.

Whether you have reviews on Yelp, ActivityHero, Google, Facebook or other online channels, these tips can help you manage your public presence and make online reviews a marketing asset. According to a recent BrightLocal survey, consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business. Reviews on ActivityHero will also give businesses a better chance at winning one of ActivityHero’s Business Grants worth $10,000.

For more suggestions, check out the blog post Five Ways to Get More Reviews for Your Business with the ActivityHero Grant Contest.

Categories
Camps Cooking Parenting Resources

Spring Cooking with Kids

focus shot of kids in cooking class

Looking to put some “spring” into your home cooking routine? We asked the head chef at a kids’ cooking school to share handy tips and a delicious recipe.

By Wendy Chou

Cooking for kids can feel like a thankless task. When kids reject new foods and haven’t got a clue how much effort went into prepping a meal, it’s easy to get frustrated. Now consider cooking with kids. Having your kid help in the kitchen can break down some of their prejudices and teach them to appreciate where real food comes from. ActivityHero talked with Chef Cindy Roberts of the popular Bay Area-based “La Toque De Cindy” cooking school to hear how an expert helps kids learn to cook. 

Cooking is Fun… and Practical

Each of Roberts’ weekly summer camps showcases a different type of cooking: chocolate, world cuisine, and handmade pizzas and pastas are just some of the tempting offerings this year. She likes to emphasize the joy and creativity inherent in cooking. Cindy Roberts started cooking at the age of 3 and believes cooking can inspire as well as educate. “I focus on the “fun” aspect of cooking,” Roberts points out, “but it’s my sneaky way to teach them the health, cost and taste benefits of home cooking.” 

Getting Kids to Try New Things

Roberts knows one way parents can broaden the palette of picky eaters: give them a say. “Have them taste test something… and suggest improvements,” advises Roberts. In her cooking classes, asking the kids to experiment directly with ingredients “gets even the most finicky eaters trying out what we made and giving it a second chance.” In other words, the more they know about how a dish is put together, the more they can keep an open mind, even about foods they weren’t keen on at the outset.

> > Find cooking camps and classes near me   

Amazed by Their Own Potential

When asked what the kids in her classes find most surprising about cooking, Roberts says that young chefs are completely “surprised at how easy it is to make some of the products they buy packaged at the grocery store,” including basics like chicken stock and mayonnaise. The homemade versions wind up being fresher and better-tasting. Empowerment and self-confidence: these two ingredients are welcome on any family menu.

Try It at Home

Here’s a savory spring-inspired recipe for you to try at home with your kids. The kid chefs at La Toque loved it (and ate their vegetables)!  

Photo by Flickr user Lollyknit

Leek and Olive Tart

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
  • Adapted by Cindy Roberts from Field of Greens cookbook

Ingredients

TART DOUGH 

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons cold water

FILLING

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium sized leeks, white part only, cut in half then thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 small whole olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 or 4 eggs (use fewer if using jumbo eggs)
  • 1 ½ cup half and half
  • ½ teaspoon minced lemon zest (optional)
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, about 2/3 cup

Instructions

  1. MAKE THE SHELL: Mix flour, salt, butter and shortening until mixture has the appearance of small peas.
  2. Add water a little at a time until dough holds together.  Press into greased quiche pan (or pie pan).
  3. MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Saute the leeks for a few minutes until starting to wilt with ½ teaspoon salt and a few pinches of pepper.  Add the garlic, cover and sweat for about 7 minutes. Remove the lid and sauté 2 minutes more.
  4. Mix leeks in a bowl with olives, thyme and parsley.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Beat the eggs with the half and half.  Add ½ teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper and optional lemon zest.
  7. Spread the cheese over the bottom of the tart dough, followed by the leek mixture.  Pour the cream mixture over. Bake for 40 minutes until set.

Chef Cindy’s Tip:

The amount of participation is easy to modify depending on age. “Kids as young as 4 could assemble. At age 8, kids could make the crust themselves. By age 10 they could make it all on their own!”  

Ready to explore more cooking? Find cooking camps and classes near you by visiting ActivityHero.com.  

 

Categories
for Providers

Five Ways to Get More Reviews for Your Business with the ActivityHero Grant Contest

Online reviews can amplify the benefits of “word of mouth” referrals that are the lifeblood for small businesses. Here are five tips to getting more reviews for your camp or class.

By the ActivityHero Team

We all know that reviews are important – as a recent BrightLocal survey showed, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s why, in addition to the chance to earn a business grant worth $10,000, we designed the ActivityHero Business Grant Contest to help you engage with your customers to get votes and reviews. ActivityHero reviews are automatically seen on Google, plus you can use them on your own website.

The more votes and reviews you receive from families, the better your odds of winning the grant. Votes earn you one entry, while reviews generate three entries. Your ActivityHero listing already includes a “Vote Now” button. Plus, every voter is automatically asked to write a review for your business.

To increase your chances of winning, and generate reviews that will benefit your business long after the contest has ended, here are five simple tips to help get out the vote.

1. Add a “Vote Now” button on your website.

The voting period is from now until July 31, 2018. Here’s how to find a customized code snippet for the “Vote Now” button: visit your ActivityHero dashboard and click on the “Votes” circle to get your code. Then, just copy and paste to embed the code in your own website.

2. Add a contest link to your e-mail signature.

A short message like “Help us win a $10,000 grant. Vote for us!” can be appended to the bottom of your newsletters or auto-responder emails.

3. Use social media.

 

Share your ActivityHero listing page via Facebook, Instagram profile, Twitter and other social channels along with a brief explanation of what you would do with the grant money.

4. Direct appeal.

Make a personal appeal directly to your best customers. E-mail them or speak to them directly to ask for their help in voting and spreading the word to get more votes. BrightLocal’s survey showed that 68% percent of customers will leave a review if asked!

5. Posters.

Put a poster in your lobby or sign-in area asking your customers to vote for your business. Here’s a sample 8.5 x 11 sign you can download and print.  Or add this larger banner to your profile on social media.

About ActivityHero

ActivityHero.com is the leading online marketplace for camps, activities, after school classes, workshops, and kids’ nights out. We reach more than 2.5 million families nationwide with our easy-to-use website and weekly newsletters. Providers can customize their listing and grow their registrations by visiting https://www.activityhero.com.

Categories
for Providers

Win a Small Business Grant for Kids’ Camp and Activity Providers

ActivityHero’s Business Grant Contest will benefit kids’ camp and class providers with over $15,000 in grants. Apply by May 31, 2018.

If you’re an activity provider who struggles with the challenges of being a small business in a competitive marketplace, we hear you. “We see how hard owners of children’s camps and classes work to provide an enriching experience to their students,” says Peggy Chang, Co-founder and CEO of ActivityHero. A recent survey we conducted revealed that a majority of the respondents were  “doing okay,” were “struggling,” or “barely getting by.” Inspired by these stories, ActivityHero launched a Business Grant Contest where providers can strengthen their customer relationship base and apply to win over $15,000 in grants. Here’s what you need to know to win a grant.

The Prizes

The 2018 Business Grant contest will award over $15,000 in grants and prizes from ActivityHero and its Partners.

  • Grand Prize: Business Grant worth $10,000
  • Silver Prize: Business Grant worth $3,000

In addition, seven Finalists will each receive $500 in services from GoDaddy Website Builder, 4imprint Branded Promotional Products, PsPrint Online Printing Services and ActivityHero Online Marketing.

These services help small business look their best and attract more customers.

GoDaddy is a web-hosting platform and domain registrar that serves over 17 million customers while offering award-winning customer service. Their website builder makes it incredibly easy for anyone to build a modern, sophisticated website with top-of-the-line functionality.

4imprint boosts marketing power by providing companies with high-quality products such as water bottles, t-shirts, and booth signage that can be customized to promote their business. They offer expert consulting services like professional art assistance and help with logo design.

PsPrint offers quality printing, graphic design services and affordable prices. Popular items include postcards, posters, flyers and stickers.

ActivityHero is the leading online marketplace for kids’ camps and classes. Families find and book new activities near them and businesses can use ActivityHero’s online registration service on their website for a seamless experience.

Apply Online by May 31

There are two simple steps to apply for the Business Grant.

    1. Make sure your business has a valid ActivityHero listing. You can easily create a listing if you don’t already have one.
  1. Visit https://www.activityhero.com/go/grant and answer some basic questions about your vision, inspiration, and the kinds of connections you as an activity provider have made with your community. Be clear and concise!

Apply by May 31, 2018 to increase your chances to win since you will be eligible for all three finalist drawings (one at the end of each month from May through July).

The more votes and reviews you receive from families, the better are your odds of winning. Families cast their vote on each business’ ActivityHero listing.

Get Valuable Customer Reviews

In addition to the chance to earn grants, the ActivityHero contest will help you garner customer reviews, providing you with insight on customer preferences. Take advantage of added customer engagement to help advance your strategic goals, like increasing overall customer satisfaction, reducing customer churn, or accumulating new clients through personal referrals.

Marissa Lucero, founder at Maker Studio SF, believes that hearing directly from families is great for business. “I’m excited to participate in the contest because nothing makes us happier than receiving feedback from parents and students on what we’re doing well and how we can improve,” she said, adding, “Winning a grant would let us expand our offerings to young makers”.

Pro tip: Are you looking to boost customer engagement and the number of reviews? Check out our recent post on how to garner more customer reviews via ActivityHero’s Business Grant Contest.

About ActivityHero

ActivityHero.com is the leading online marketplace for camps, activities, after school classes, workshops, and kids’ nights out. We reach more than 2.5 million families nationwide with our easy-to-use website and weekly newsletters. Providers can customize their listing and grow their registrations by visiting https://www.activityhero.com

Categories
Best of ActivityHero Camps Friends of ActivityHero

ActivityHero’s Business Grant: Rewarding Camps Who Make a Difference

In our summer contest, your votes and reviews can help your favorite camp or class win money to improve their programs, plus enter you in a drawing for an ActivityHero Gift Card!

By Wendy Chou

 

Have you seen this logo on your favorite camp page in ActivityHero and wondered what it’s all about? We’ve just launched a new contest that benefits you and your favorite camps.

Help Support the Camps You Love

For a limited time, your favorite camp or after-school class can apply to win an ActivityHero Business Grant to enhance or grow the services they provide for families. The grand prize is $10,000 in cash and services from ActivityHero and co-sponsors, GoDaddy Website Builder and 4imprint Branded Promotional Products. This contest is a great way to reward a business that makes a positive impact for your family or community!

Vote and Write Reviews to Help You AND Your Favorite Camp Win

Businesses who have earned parents’ trust and recommendations have the best shot of taking home the prize. Here’s how it works. You can vote directly from your camp’s ActivityHero listing (look for the logo), or you can search the gallery of contestants and click the “vote now” button under your favorite camp or class. Each vote counts as an entry. You can also write a review of the business, which counts as three entries. Here’s a bonus: Every vote and review you submit enters you in a drawing for ActivityHero gift card worth up to $100! Votes and reviews will be tallied from now until July 31. Votes received before May 31 will give the business the best odds, since there are 3 monthly drawings in total (May 31, June 30, and July 31) to determine finalists. In August, the judging phase of the contest will determine the ultimate winner based on whether camps stand out in innovative ways or make a significant impact on their communities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I vote for more than one camp or class?

A: Yes, you are allowed at most 1 vote per activity provider, but can vote for as many providers as you want.

Q: Can my kids participate in the Business Grant contest?

A: Unfortunately, you must be 18 or older to participate. You must also have a valid e-mail address.

Q: Where do I submit a review?

A: Go to the camp’s individual ActivityHero listing and scroll to the bottom where you’ll click on a  “write a review” button.

Q: Can I write more than 1 review?

A: You may submit at most 1 review for a specific business. You may review as many businesses as you wish.

Q: I don’t see my favorite camp or class in the gallery. How can I support them?

A: We’d love to know about your recommendation! Just visit the “suggest a camp or class” link and fill out a short form. You can also contact the business and tell them about the Business Grant contest. Encourage them to apply by visiting https://www.activityhero.com/go/grant.

About ActivityHero

ActivityHero.com is the leading online marketplace for camps, activities, after school classes, workshops, and kids’ nights out. More than 2.5 million families use us to find and book kids’ activities from a wide variety of local providers. Visit https://www.activityhero.com to start your summer camp search today!

 

Categories
Adventure/Outdoors Community Service Environmental Hiking Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Nature Programs Play/Outdoor

Outdoor Activities for Earth Day

Getting outside is healthy for the body and the mind. This Earth Day, why not get the whole family outdoors for some memorable adventures?

By Wendy Chou

Research has shown that getting outside keeps kids moving, lowering the risk of childhood obesity. Another health benefit from being out and about: added Vitamin D, which strengthens bones and is thought to help the immune system fight off infection. Some health experts say that spending time outdoors also relieves some symptoms of hyperactivity, including short attention span.

Every year since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22. It was originally created to bring attention to environmental goals like cleaner air and water. Today Earth Day reminds us to step out into nature. Try these kid-approved outdoor activities highlighting science, crafts, sports, and helping the community. Find these activities and many more in The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, an excellent user-friendly guide for kindling the adventurous spirit in all of us.

Little Scientists

Go outside at an unusual time: nighttime! Go stargazing or take a walk to admire the moon. Visit kidsastronomy.com for tips.

Start a compost pile from kitchen scraps and yard trimmings. If your family has a garden, generating your own rich compost (so-called “black gold”) is not only fun, but also useful. It’s also a great tool for teaching kids about nature’s version of recycling. Tips for beginners.  

Watch a sunset. Watching colors change can inspire a lifelong appreciation for the environment. Find details on specific sunrise and sunset times at timeanddate.com

Arts and Crafts Lovers

Paint a birdhouse. Using a more natural palette such as gray, dull green, brown, or tan will help keep birds safe from eagle-eyed predators. And steer clear of metallic, iridescent, lead-based, or neon-colored paints which contain additives that are unsafe for wildlife.

Play “Nature bingo”. This game is a variation on a scavenger hunt. Create a bingo card for each player on sturdy paper or cardboard. You’ll need 16 assorted images arranged in a 4 x 4 grid: either paste on stickers, or draw/clip out pictures from magazines. Some examples are ladybug, leaf, flower, bird. After you design the bingo cards, have a blast exploring nature and looking for your items.

Make a nature mosaic. For this textured craft, first gather small items of roughly the same shape and size, like small pebbles, dried flower petals, or seeds. Take a paper plate and draw your desired shape with pen or pencil (for instance, outline your handprint). Working with one small section at a time, add a thin layer of glue and press the objects down to secure them. (If you apply glue over too large an area at once, it will dry before you’ve finished pasting.) Let dry and it’s done!

Love being in nature? Find outdoor kids’ camps with ActivityHero!

Ready, Set, Move!

Roll down a grassy hill. Who doesn’t love doing this on a sunny day?

Go for a bike ride. There’s nothing quite like coasting along on the open road. Safety first: study the biker’s checklist before you head out!

Make homemade trail mix and take it on a hike.

Try geocaching, a modern take on treasure hunting. This activity relies on GPS technology to hide or find caches. To get started, check out geocaching.com.  

Community-Minded

Join a volunteer event. Find an organization near you (check your city or county listings) that is sponsoring an Earth Day event, such as a river cleanup or tree planting.

Visit a farmers’ market. You’ll find fresher fruits and vegetables here with less wasteful plastic packaging. People selling their wares often enjoy telling you where and how they grew their food –and sometimes let you try a sample for free.

Beautify your neighborhood. Clean up trash, prune or weed a garden, or do some other type of community service to show your appreciation for Mother Earth.

Be Adventurous Beyond Earth Day

Save the date for Kids to Parks Day, an annual event to encourage youth to get out and play in nature. Learn more: https://www.parktrust.org/kids-to-parks-day/. Getting outside isn’t just something to do on Earth Day!

Find summer camps featuring the outdoors. Camp is a great way to spend time outside. Emily Moeschler has over ten years of experience in adventure education and the outdoor industries. She is currently a leader at Avid4Adventure Camp in Boulder, CO. Her top tip: “Give your kids permission to get dirty!”

Be inspired. Have your own brainstorming session to come up with even more outdoor activities. There’s really no “right” way to explore, just get outside and have fun!

Love being in nature? Find outdoor kids’ camps with ActivityHero!

About Wendy Chou

Wendy Chou is an environment writer and parent based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Categories
Academic Writing Creative Writing

Tips and Resources for Young Writers at Any Age

ActivityHero shares the insights of writing professionals who work with kindergarteners through high schoolers. With these tips, parents can help support kids’ writing goals.

By Wendy Chou

Writing is a key life skill that engages and empowers kids–and is highly correlated with overall academic success. ActivityHero talked with professionals from two writing programs to learn their favorite tips. We also list online resources that will appeal to today’s tech-savvy kids, ‘tweens, and teens.

Tips for Elementary School Writers (Age 6-8) 

1. Have some fun

Darrell Dela Cruz, of Cupertino’s Communication Academy, recommends playing word-centered games to boost knowledge of words and definitions. Some examples are Mad Libs, Boggle, Scrabble, and Bananagrams.

2. Be a role model

Remind kids that writing matters in daily life. Adventures In Writing (AIW) Camp co-founder Jen Hartvickson tells parents: “Write lists, write thank you notes, write letters. When they see you writing, they will do what you do!” 

3. Check out these resources for elementary school writers

  • Storybird is an online forum that allows kids to create and share their own books or to read from the free online library.
  • Three Good Things – A Happiness Journal is a free app promoting a simple and positive message.
  • Krakeln is a friendly vocabulary-building app suitable for even young users.
  • Orange Street News  is a newspaper created by Hilde Lysiak (with her dad’s assistance) when she was just 7 years old and is the inspiration for her own book series.

Tips for Tweens (age 9-12)

1. Practice, practice, practice.

All the experts we consulted agreed that practice leads to writing improvement. Journaling and writing to pen pals can encourage regular writing habits. Jen Hartvickson also finds that tweens are more motivated when given free rein to choose their own topic.

2. Read widely, then discuss.  

AIW Camp Co-founder Hans Hartvickson sees value in parents and kids reading books together, then talking about “what worked” for them and why.

3. Try a song.

Hans Hartvickson suggests songs help teach writing traits and are fun too. AIW Camp has published many songs on YouTube.

> > Find writing camps & classes near you

4. Check out these resources for tweens

  • Stone Soup Magazine is a high-quality literary publication (in print and online) by and for kids.  
  • Youngzine presents current events for a school-aged audience and accepts kids’ submissions of articles and book reviews.
  • KidPub.com has featured kids’ works since 1995 (requires small fee to publish).
  • Brainstorm great reads with blogs like Brightly which lists dozens of titles sorted by age and genre.

Tips for Teens (age 13+)

1. Experiment with styles.

Take chances and try out new styles and content. Teens are starting to develop their unique voice.

2. The more practice, the better!

Consider entering contests at libraries and at school. Don’t stop there: find open mic events and poetry slams. Teens may enjoy blogging about a particular hobby and developing an audience. Many sites host blogs for free. 

3. Find online networking sites devoted to teens

Online writing communities allow teens to network and seek advice from other writers. Here are 4 recommendations:

  • Underlined is a teen-centered website that provides opportunities for collaboration and feedback.
  • Wattpad is the largest and most visible online reading and writing platform, giving it the nickname of “YouTube of writing”.
    Teen Ink hosts writing submissions by teens, including essays, articles, fiction and poetry. Teens can also contribute their art and photography.
  • Power Poetry is the largest online community for teens interested in poetry.

Final words of advice: Lighten Up!

According to Dela Cruz, parents shouldn’t make writing feel like a chore or something with a clearly defined “right or wrong answer”. The Hartvicksons believe kids need reassurance that mistakes and editing are to be expected along the way. Most of all, our experts all agreed that parents should provide fair and constructive feedback to kids. A “Goldilocks” balance means avoiding unrealistic over-praising, while also refraining from giving only negative comments, which can be demoralizing for kids. 

> > Find writing camps & classes near you

Categories
Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Parenting Resources

Parenting Tips for Raising Self-Reliant Kids






Many parents understand the importance of always being there for their kids. But what about the flip side–learning to let go gracefully so kids can develop their own identity?

Julie Lythcott-Haims, a mother of two, former dean at Stanford University, and author of How to Raise an Adult, explains that parents can set their kids up for success by knowing when to step aside.

By Wendy Chou

Make “pitching in” an early habit

Kids age 4-7 often enjoy doing things for themselves and feeling helpful. Give them simple opportunities to contribute around the house by putting away toys, making a snack, and choosing clothes they’ll wear in the morning. (A side benefit: these things fall off your to-do list!) Practicing completing tasks now will prepare them well for more challenging expectations later in life.

Allow time for critical thinking

When a child talks about a problem she’s having, a normal parenting reaction is to quickly offer a solution. This might be efficient in the short run, but in the long-term the child won’t ever have the chance to problem-solve for herself. Also, allow kids moments to discuss current events or even a book or movie you just shared together to help them find their own voice.

Discover the pursuits that matter to your kids

Teach kids that hard work, grit, and dedication really pay off when it comes to excelling at sports, music, and other activities. But make sure you’re enabling their dreams, not yours. According to Lythcott-Haims, it’s best to offer lots of choices in activities, then step back and let kids lead with their own passions. Ask your kids what they love to do, and be supportive of those interests and hobbies.

Find Kids’ Activities Near You

Seek growth, not perfection

Making a mistake is a fundamental life experience that can lead to growth. Lythcott-Haims lists several milestones that we shouldn’t shield a child from, including “being blamed for something he didn’t do”, “coming in last at something”, and “regretting saying something she can’t take back”. These kinds of mistakes can be very painful, but also represent opportunities to become more resilient.

As parents we all wish for our children’s ultimate success. Over-managing children, however, is probably counter-productive to this goal. The best definition of successful parenting, according to Lythcott-Haims, is when our children develop into individuals who can look out for themselves, without us needing to hold their hands.

Reference: Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult

Find Kids’ Activities Near You

ActivityHero is an online resource that helps parents find great camps and after-school activities for kids.