(713) 526-3989
Call Our Houston Office For a Complimentary Consultation (713) 526-3989
I trust Morningside Nannies & their research into their nannies more than any of the other seven agencies we talked with. The checks are reliable and the quality of nannies was superb. The process of finding a nanny was handled quite professionally.Dr. Kim Burgess, Pediatrician
Originally, I tried to find a nanny on my own and it took me much, much longer and only half of them spoke English. I had to do my own background checks. Morningside Nannies made it much easier, faster and more efficient.Holly Weinstock, Stay at home mom
The first person you recommended met my needs perfectly.Carolyn Goodrich, Stay at home mom
I described the person I wanted and that’s what you found for me. Thank you.Penny Featherston, NorAm Energy
Quality of applicants was way above what we had hoped for. Thoroughly enjoyed working with your agency – we will highly recommend you to friends.Kim McMillan
As a new mom I was nervous about hiring a nanny, but now I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve sung your praises to everyone I know.Tarala Rybacki
The quality of candidates was very good. It was a difficult decision but Amy has proven to be a wonderful choice. We could not have found a better person. I would recommend your services to anyone looking for a nanny.Sonia Breathwit, Business Owner
I am delighted with the outcome, and enjoyed the process.Dr. Rick Smalley, Professor Rice University, Nobel Peace Prize Honoree
Morningside Nannies was far more professional and focused than the other agencies. They listened to my request and responded promptly. I feel very fortunate to have such superb childcare and appreciate the luxury of returning to work with-out worry. Many thanks go to Morningside Nannies for that.Jeremy and Lauren Blachman
In a time crunch you provided me with two excellent applicants within hours!Dr. Anita Tonking

The Official Blog of Morningside Nannies

Bringing Back Board Games

Bill_Andrea_Sign

Recently I had the opportunity to connect with Bill Ritchie, CEO of ThinkFun, to learn more about what makes a good board game, why we should be playing more board games and how playing board games can support learning. Here’s a little of what he had to say.

Why should parent and kids get excited about playing board games?


First of all board games are fun and fantastic. That’s reason number one. But you need to make a distinction between board games that are good and ones that are not so good. So let’s start with good board games. What are they capable of doing? They provide an opportunity for people to come together – nannies, parents and kids – in social ways where the games provide a construct for people to engage around a set of rules. You can test out feelings and emotions and go through a controlled and managed experience in the context of your family and play group, providing a great socializing opportunity. Good board games are socializing influence. Playing good board games is also a way of bringing people together in appropriate way that is rewarding and fun. They are physical and tactile. They require talking and looking into each other’s eyes and laughing and empathizing with each other. Playing games provide an emotional experience, as well. These social and emotional experiences are essential. Playing good board games really provide a masterful way and structured way to become more social and to learn to process your environment.

How can parents generate excitement when it comes to playing board games?


Number one, I think parents and nannies need to choose board games that they themselves won’t become bored with when playing with the kids. Of course you don’t want the kids to become bored either. You want to choose a board game that once you get into it, it continues to provide for a fun experience. The primary thing to remember is that good board games allow parents and nannies to have an engaging social experience with the kids. The real reason to get excited is that you get to engage and interact with the kids. Playing good board games together gives you a chance to have a wonderful, enriching and memorable time with the kids. That’s something to get excited about.

What do board games offer that electronics don’t?


Tablets and electronic games have many benefits, but they tend not to be socializing influences and tend not to allow for interpersonal interactions. They provide a different kind of experience where the tablet itself becomes the center of attention and draws the child through the experience that is programmed in it. Tablet games can provide for a fascinating experience and definitely draw children into them, but by and large they are not social.

What inspired you to create ThinkFun?


Andrea Barthello, my wife and ThinkFun’s co-founder and chief operating officer, and I started ThinkFun in 1985. Our first name was Binary Arts. We had that name until 2004. We’ve been around for a long time. My dad was a Bell Labs engineer. He followed really clever and smart people who were writing for Scientific America and other journals. So when I was growing up I was aware of this community of really super smart people- engineers and those figuring out how to make the modern world work. Some of them had really cool and creative ideas for puzzles and brain teasers. When I was young I used to think that everyone in the world was exposed to this type of stuff. Then I realized many people didn’t see the logic games and toys I was exposed to.

I also realized that these type of people aren’t really involved with toy companies as they view toys as fads. I met my wife and we really weren’t happy with where we are at in life, so we decided to make a left turn and create a company where we can take really smart people and translate what they are trying to say into things that kids can understand and play with. The idea was that if we put as much effort and work into designing a play experience that is rich and rewarding, both emotionally rewarding and with real brain building benefits, we’d have something special.

We believe working the brain can be fun so we strive to make games that really challenge you and make the rewards worth playing. This is really rewarding. There aren’t many companies that care about this. If you want to be super creative you go into apps, not board games. The toy industry is really traditional. We want to put out high quality toys and games so families have a better experience. Some board game are great, some are not so great. We feel it’s our responsibility to create really good games that really catch on in the marketplace. We are blessed to be in this position and to work with inventors and to invent our own games. We put lots of effort and energy into the details to provide the best game experience we can.

What was your favorite childhood game? What’s your favorite ThinkFun game?


I loved to play Risk. I loved the crazy names of all of the locations. I love to travel. By age 21, I traveled to every state except Hawaii. Some of my desire to travel came from playing Risk. I was made aware of all these cool places around the world and wanted to see them.

What’s my favorite ThinkFun game? That’s a hard question. Today I am going to say Math Dice. It was actually invented by my older son, Sam, when he was in 6th grade. He is 27 now, so it has been around for a long time. It’s just five dice and you just play. It’s so simple and it’s so neat. My younger son, Mike, who was in 3rd grade at the time; I taught him how exponents work because I used them as a game rule. If he would want to beat me, he had to play by the rules.

For years I would carry a set of dice around with me. I’d show anyone who was interested how to play. Everyone knows the dread that comes with learning new math skills, but this is a game that makes you say “Hey! This is kind of fun.” It’s still such a surprise to me that something so simple really caught on. It’s like taking spinach and learning you can make it taste good. Math Dice is so closely associated with my kids and family, and I personally invested a whole lot into developing ideas for it so I am going to say it is my favorite.

Do you consider gender when making and marketing games?


Do we distinguish ourselves and our games through genders? By and large we don’t. With our Robot Turtles game for example, we started encouraging people to come up with adventure quests story and we asked ourselves do we want to write boy or girl themed stories. But what we’ve said and what we stick to is that our games are gender neutral but allow kids to imprint their own story on top of them to play however they want.

We also get asked fairly frequently by groups of families of children with special needs if we create games for specialized groups, like for children who are on the autism spectrum . We make our games as accessible and as true to themselves as possible. The kids will come and play and take what they can. With our games, each child will have his or her own experience and no one feels like they are being held back or not experiencing the game. You also get a different experience each time you play. We believe these things are what makes our games good.

When thinking about what games you’re going to take on, what things do you look for?


We make it really clear right up front that there are certain types of games we don’t want to look at. We consider ourselves curators, so when we see a range of games we choose games that fit our brand mission and that align with our vision.

I have this notion that games, if chosen right and done right, can help build thinking skills. To us that means you have to be able to look at one of our games and have to be able to develop a systematic way of thinking about it to be successful. There needs to be set patterns that start simple and build and lead you to a feeling of achievement. Some games are about number sense, some logical deduction, some spatial imagination and some word recognition, but they need to be challenging and fast paced.

We also look for things that are fresh and new. We encourage our team to look outside the box. For example, Robot Turtles was found on KickStarter. And Laser Maze. Who doesn’t want to bounce a laser off mirrors. You’re deeply studying and learning new things but you’re using a laser and having fun while doing it.

Another thing we look for is if a game teaches a new skill. Next year it is looking like we will put out a game to teach kids to create their own music. So that’s a new skill that can be taught through game play.

Can playing games reinforce back to school learning? How? What’s your best tips for parents on how they can use games to do this?


First of all, I think in some sense kids are being pushed too hard to grow up too fast. Everything doesn’t have to fit into a box and point towards sending a kid to Harvard. That said, I think people care about learning and I think kids care about learning too.

When you are taking about young kids, 4 to 6 year olds, the readiness a child has to have is not just an intellectual readiness, but an emotional readiness. Learning is interesting and fun when kids are emotionally ready to learn. So we need to find that zone between emotional and cognitive readiness to show kids how learning can be fun.

I also like to think about executive function. A good board game reinforces executive function. Robot Turtles, for example, is teaching coding skills to young kids, but in some ways learning coding skills for a preschooler is the same as building executive function. To play you have to focus yourself to understand goal and then break in into a series of steps to achieve it. You have to stay on task and look at the big picture and the details and then recalibrate when necessary. You have to focus on understanding the goal and being on task and moving between the big picture and small steps. These are huge skills that help with school success.

Where can Houston based nannies and parents find ThinkFun games?

Learning Express-Houston (Town & Country)

Town & Country Village
12850 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77024

Imagination Toys-Tx

6531 Woodway Dr.
Houston, TX 77057

Toys To Love

1715 Post Oak Blvd,
Houston, TX 77056

Adventure Play & Toy Company

2401 Rice Boulevard
Houston, TX 77005

Thank you to ThinkFun for providing review copies of some of their newer games for this piece.  

Posted in Activities | Comments Off

10 Tips for Working with Morningside Nannies

10-Tips-for-Working-with-Morningside-Nannies
At Morningside Nannies, we strive to earn your trust and ensure that you are satisfied with our services during each and every interaction. With backgrounds as nannies, nanny employers, agency owners, nanny organization administrators and caseworkers for child protective services, our staff is passionate about quality in-home childcare and helping nannies and families find their right employment match. We’re often asked by nannies and families how they can best work with our agency, so we’ve put together our best advice for utilizing our services.

1. Be transparent.


The best nanny in the world isn’t the right nanny for every family. It’s our job to understand what each family’s and each nanny’s unique needs are so that we can match the right nannies to the right jobs with the right families. Being honest about your needs helps us to best meet them.

2. Give us feedback.


We depend on your feedback to make adjustments to your search. We want to hear what you really thought about a family or nanny so that we can adjust our search criteria to better close in on your match. We don’t disclose specific feedback to any candidate or family unless we are specifically asked to do so.

3. Respond to us as soon as you can.


Nannies are interviewing with several families and families are interviewing several nannies. Because our caregivers are the cream of the crop, they tend to get hired quickly. Because our families are motivated to hire, they want to interview qualified candidates right away. Substantial delays in response times can result in missed opportunities for both nannies and families.

4. Read the information we provide you.


We know searching for a nanny or work family can be overwhelming, that’s why we condense the information you need into one single document. For nannies it’s our Welcome Nanny Guide and for families it’s our Welcome Family Guide. These guides contain essential information that will help your search and employment relationship run smoothly.

5. Know where you can be flexible and where you cannot.


Nannies and families are only human. There is no perfect nanny or family; there is only the right nanny for the right family. With each candidate and each job opportunity comes strengths and weaknesses or pros and cons. Know what’s most important, what you’d consider an “added bonus,” and what things matter least to you when considering your search.

6. Understand our role.


When working with families seeking permanent nannies, it’s our role to present qualified candidates for hiring consideration. For nannies, it’s our role to represent qualified candidates by presenting them to families whose hiring criteria they meet and who we think they’ll be a good employment match for. We gather and provide as much information as we can so that we can make educated and informed decisions on which nannies we present to which families.

7. Understand your role.


Of course it’s our goal that by the time a nanny and family are in the interview phase the hiring decision really comes down to if the nanny and family “click,” but it’s important to remember that families and nannies always make the final decision on who they hire and who they work for. We never pressure a family to make a job offer or a nanny to accept a position. We believe it’s essential that both the family and nanny believe they’ve found their match.

8. Keep us informed.


During your search you can expect to hear from us often. We like to keep you informed of the status of your search and would love if you could keep us informed too. If your needs have changed and you are no longer searching, we’d love to know. If you’ve moved, you’ll be out of town or you won’t be accessible for a period of time during your search we’d love to know that too. Keeping our records current helps us better to help you in your search and in future searches.

9. Let us do the work.


Sometimes it may seem easier to deal directly with a nanny or family during your search rather than go through your placement specialist, but when we’re left out of the loop it can be difficult for us to manage your search. Keeping us in the loop helps to ensure that we can meet your needs most effectively and that our agency’s best practices are followed.

10. Understand our approach.


At our agency, we take an empowerment approach to helping nannies and families find the right match and maintain healthy working relationships. We believe in educating nannies and families about best practices, employer and employee responsibilities and local and national hiring trends. Whether it’s alerting you to potential obstacles in your search or providing you with a complimentary consultation to a tax and payroll specialist, we do so with your best interests in mind.

Posted in Advice for Nannies, All About Nannies | Comments Off

The Top 10 Nanny Screening Mistakes Parents Make

The-Top-10-Nanny-Screening-Mistakes-Parents-Make

Hiring a nanny can be one of the best decisions your family makes, if you hire the right nanny for your family that is. If you’re thinking about going the nanny route, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these top 10 nanny screening mistakes parents make.

1. Hiring based on someone else’s experience.


The best nanny in the world isn’t the right nanny for every family. Just because your friend or colleague had an amazing experience with a nanny doesn’t necessarily mean you will too. Each family, job and nanny is unique and the right nanny for one family may not be the right nanny for another.

2. Failing to gather enough information.


Don’t hire a nanny sight unseen. It’s not enough to accept the information a nanny provides you on face value. From verifying a candidates identity to reviewing her work history, you need to gather enough information so you can make an educated and informed hiring decision.

3. Asking the wrong questions.


Forget the yes or no and how would you handle x, y, z questions. If you want the nanny candidate to share real and detailed information with you, you need to give her the opportunity to do. Instead of yes and no questions, ask open ended questions that give her room to share. And who cares how she thinks she’ll handle a situation, like a temper tantrum in public. You want to know how she has handled the situation in the past, so rephrase “how would you handle” to “how have you handled” to get the information you are seeking.

4. Not doing a complete background screening.


Nationwide background checks are referred to as preliminary checks for a reason. To do a thorough screening, you need to check county court records where the candidate has lived for at least the last 7 years. A social security trace will lead you to addresses associated with that social security number and from there you can identify what court records should be checked. Remember, your background checks must be FCRA compliant, which in addition to many things, means you need the candidate’s permission to do the checks.

5. Getting a false sense of security from the results of a background check.


The results of the background check only provide information regarding records found (or not found) in the locations searched in the name that you provided. They do not provide a guarantee that your candidate has not or will not have committed a crime. Of course it’s important to take the results of a background check into consideration, but the background check should be viewed as one of the many tools in your screening arsenal, not the end all be all of nanny screening.

6. Trusting their gut too much.


It’s great that you have a really good feeling about a candidate. That’s what you’re going for. However, when hiring a nanny, more than your gut has to point you towards the right candidate. Use your intuition as a launching point to let the screening process verify that you intuition is spot on. Just remember to give what you learn as much credence as what you feel if something turns up.

7. Not trusting their gut enough.


While nanny screening is essential, don’t let any amount of research or data (or even a nanny agency) persuade you into hiring a candidate that you have a bad feeling about. When it comes to hiring a nanny, ultimate hiring decision is yours alone. If something doesn’t feel right about a candidate, just move on.

8. Not gathering the right information from references.


Screening references can be tricky. I mean think about it. When applying for a position yourself, don’t you only provide references who you are fairly certain are going to say good things about you? In addition to confirming the information the nanny provided with regards to the job facts, like when she started, how old the children were, what her duties were, etc., gauge her reliability by asking how often she called in sick or was late for work and her responsibility level by asking if the children experienced any injuries while in her care, if she relayed accurate messages from school to home or if her tasks were always completed. If a reference seems reluctant to open up, the best think you can say is “I am thinking of hiring this person to care for my children unsupervised, in my home. That’s a big job. Should I have any concerns about hiring this nanny for this role?”

9. Not considering a nanny’s childcare philosophy.


Children thrive when their caregivers are on the same page of the same parenting book. They don’t have to necessarily agree on every detail when it comes to raising the kids, but they do have to remember whose boss when it comes to calling the shots. When considering a nanny, you do want to be in alignment when it comes to discipline, how you approach sleeping and eating and how you approach your days. If you’re a tiger mom and hire a nanny who favors the attachment parenting approach, for example, there’s going to be trouble.

10. Underestimating the power of a personal connection.


The nanny and employer relationship is just that, a relationship. And since the workplace is in the employer’s home, it should be no surprise that the relationship is an intimate one. While you certainly need not be BFFs with your nanny, simply tolerating her is not enough. You, your children and your nanny are going to be spending a lot of time together. If you don’t want that time to be miserable, you’ll want to hire someone you genuinely like. Especially since it’s pretty likely your children are going to pick up some of her traits.

When it comes to screening nanny candidates, reputable nanny placement agencies are here to help. Morningside Nannies can significantly reduce the time you spend screening candidates by doing the leg work for you and presenting to you only those candidates who are qualified for your job and are a good match for your family.

Posted in Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off

Back to School Organization Tips

backtoschoolorganizationtips


Now that you’ve transitioned into the back to school routine, you’ve probably been faced with dealing with the enormous amount of stuff that comes home from school each day. From important papers that need to be returned to school, to your child’s latest art class masterpiece, sorting, organizing and displaying all that comes homes may prove to be a bit of challenge.

But fear not! The next time you empty out your child’s backpack, put these 5 tips to the test to make dealing with school stuff more manageable.

1. Give your child a home/school folder.

Pick up a two pocket folder or recycle one from your own office supplies. Plastic ones will work better than paper as they are more durable. Write your child’s name on the front. Label one inside pocket “home” and the other pocket “school.” Have your child put anything that comes home from school on the home side. Put anything that needs to go back on the school side. Keep this folder in your child’s backpack so it travels back and forth from home to school with him.

2. Put up some twine.

Take a piece of twine and hang it across a wall in the living room. Add clothes pins to the twine. As your child brings artwork home, proudly display it by hanging it up on the twine. As new pieces come in and you take older ones off, be choosey about the ones you opt to hold on to. Snap a photo with your digital camera of the rest, and at the end of the year compile and print out a photo book of your child’s artwork.

3. Hang some hooks.

No one wants to have a before school scavenger hunt. The entry way can be the perfect place to hang a few hooks to store jackets and backpacks. Be sure to have your child load up her backpack each evening once she is finished her homework with what is needed for the next day. Add a basket by the door to store shoes. Keeping everything together in a set place can make getting out the door in the morning a cinch.

4. Keep important things handy.

Your child’s school calendar. Emergency school contacts. Your child’s specials schedule that reminds you which day is gym. Laminate these and add them to a three ring binder that is easy to access. Take photos of these documents with your phone so they’re always handy.

5. Select your storage space.

Have a set place to keep your child’s lunch box, instrument and library books. Dedicate a storage spot to anything that comes home and goes back to school with your child so you’re not left searching for something as you’re heading out the door.

Taking a systematic approach to managing what comes home and goes back to school can help to keep clutter and disorganization at bay. Putting together a plan for organizing school stuff can help you to track what’s going on at school and ensure both you and the kids can find what you need when you need it most.

Posted in Advice for Nannies, Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off

BACK TO SCHOOL STATISTICS for 2014

backtoschool2014-infographic

Posted in Advice for Nannies, Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off

Ways to Stay Fit When Working in Houston

ways-to-stay-fit-when-working-in-houstonThere’s no shortage of ways to stay fit if you’re working in Houston. From running to CrossFit, and everything in between, there’s something for everyone who’s looking to break a sweat.

If you’re a runner, check out these trails:

  • Terry Hershey Park: Located just off of I10 and the Beltway, Terry Hershey Park boasts miles and miles of paved trails for runners to enjoy. The trails are tucked away in a serene setting filled with trees, wildlife and water – you won’t even realize you’re right next to two major freeways!
  • Memorial Park: At Memorial Park you’ll find an easy-to-follow a 2.88-mile dirt pathway that is always filled with runners. Because the path is a big loop, Memorial Park is an easy favorite for runners who want to run without worry of getting lost.
  • Hermann Park Trail: Runners will enjoy a variety of scenery and a dirt running trail that is easy on the joints. From the park’s website: “Joggers love following the 2-mile Marvin Taylor Exercise Trail around the golf course under the shade of the Park’s historic live oaks.”

If you do CrossFit, head to one of these boxes:

  • CrossFit EaDo: This box boasts that it’s the biggest CrossFit box in Texas, and has received rave reviews for not just the box itself, but also the coaches.
  • CrossFit H-Town: Named one of the top 15 CrossFit boxes in America, CrossFit H-Town is a celebrated box in downtown Houston that serious CrossFitters will love.
  • CrossFit Roughnecks: Located in the heart of Downtown Houston, CrossFitters who work in the city will love the ease of access to this box.

If you’re a yogi, find your inner peace at one of these studios:

  • YogaOne: YogaOne has five different locations around the Houston area and offers Hot Yoga, Forrest Yoga and Vinyasa Flow classes. These studios are a favorite among Houstonians.
  • Republic Yoga Studios: Classes at Republic Yoga Studios are capped at 14 students so that each student gets the personalized attention they need and deserve. Students will find this unique setting a breath of fresh air from bigger studios where it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
  • Jennyoga: Jennyoga describes their studio as, “an open and supportive community committed to the study and celebration of yoga.” The studio specializes in Hatha yoga forms, offering classes for everyone from beginners to the more advanced student.

If you’re looking for cycling classes, head to one of these spin studios:

  • My Indoor Cycle: Small classes, upbeat instructors and top of the line spin bikes make My Indoor Cycle one of the best spin studios in Houston. Spin enthusiasts also enjoy no contracts and low drop-in rates.
  • Define Body and Mind: Define Revolution promises to combine “principles of isometrics with cardio-blasting, high intensity fun”. But don’t just stop at the spin classes; Define offers several other types of group classes as well, allowing you to explore all areas of fitness.
  • Revolution: Everyone is welcome at Revolution Studio, no matter what your fitness level or spin experience. From the website: “In each class, your instructor will lead the way, suggesting target resistance levels and movements but YOU decide what is right for you with individual resistance knobs located on each bike.”

These classes only scratch the surface of the options available for fitness enthusiasts in Houston. Whatever your preferred method for getting fit, Houston is sure to have it!

Posted in Activities, Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off

Creating a Nanny Log Book

creating-a-nanny-log-bookHaving a nanny to care for your child when you can’t is a great asset and one way to make your relationship even better is through a Nanny Log Book. A Nanny Log Books allows you and your nanny to communicate easily and effectively every day. It allows you to see what your child is eating and doing during the day and keep on top of any problems as they arise. Here are some tips to create a Nanny Log Book:

1. Emergency Contacts

One of the first sections of a Nanny Log Book should be a list of emergency contacts. If something should happen when your nanny is home alone with your child and can’t reach you, they should be able to call many other numbers to get help. Phone numbers for friends, relatives or even neighbors should be easy to find in case of emergency.

2. Local Help

Along with personal contacts, your Nanny Log Books should also contain local help. The fire department, police department and other local numbers should be listed. A neighbor that can help is great, but professional help is sometimes needed. The number and address for the local hospital and your child’s pediatrician should also be included.

3. Eating Habits

– Now we can move on to things the nanny needs to include in the Log Book. One suggestion is to include eating habits. With infants, she should log times fed and burped. With older kids, she should note what they ate, how much, and at what times. Not only will this help you to make sure your kids have a balanced and healthy diet, but you can also note any allergic reactions they might have and keep their eating on schedule on the days you have them to yourself.

4. Sleeping Habits

Nap time, bed time and getting up in the morning should always be noted for your child. This can help set up a routine to make sleeping easier and ensure your child stays well rested.

5. Diaper Changes

Another important thing to include in the Nanny Log Book is diaper changes or potty times. Potty training is an important part of a child’s life and having a consistent schedule between you and the nanny is vital. Notations of color or consistency can also help to make sure that the child is digesting food properly.

6. Issues or Problems

As the day goes on, problems from the morning may slip a nanny’s mind. Or you might come in tired and too exhausted to have a long conversation. Having a Log Book where the nanny can note problems or issues with your child throughout the day can be a simple way to see patterns of behavior and work with your nanny to correct them.

7. Milestones and Activities

Another great thing to log is milestones. The baby rolling over, the young child reciting his ABC’s, an older child doing the dishes, and so on can be shared with you through a Nanny Log Book. Even photos or recordings of the event can be shared if your Nanny Log Book is on a computer.

8. Medications

If your child is ill or takes medications regularly, it is important to keep track of doses and times. Having a Log Book can help keep your child well and on schedule and help to ensure that your child isn’t over or under medicated.

Creating a Nanny Log Book can give insight into your child’s day. From meal time to nap time, sharing information is vital to making sure your child gets the care he deserves and that you stay in the loop.

Posted in Advice for Nannies, All About Nannies, Houston | Comments Off

8 NAEYC Accredited Preschools in Houston

8-NAEYC-Accredited-Preschools-in-HoustonSafe and educational childcare is a priority for all parents. But how do you determine which preschools offer the services you want for your child? Accreditation is a great way to make sure that your preschool offers the opportunities you want for your child. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) “has set 10 standards for early childhood programs that can help families make the right choice when they are looking for a child care center, preschool, or kindergarten. The standards and criteria are also the foundation of the NAEYC Accreditation system for early childhood programs. To earn accreditation, programs must meet all 10 standards. Based on research on the development and education of young children, the standards were created with input from experts and educators from around the country. The standards define what NAEYC—the world’s largest organization of early childhood professionals—believes all early childhood programs should provide.” Here are some Houston area preschools that are accredited by NAEYC:

1. Poe Cooperative Nursery School

“In April, 1991 Poe-Co became the first parent cooperative preschool to achieve N.A.E.Y.C. accreditation.” As a co-op, Poe believes in involving parents in the education of their children. Parents volunteer to help out in the classroom and the whole family is involved in the education of the children. Not only does Poe help preschool students succeed, but they are affiliated with Poe Elementary School, allowing the children to have a seamless transition from preschool to grade school.

2. Sherwood Forest Montessori School

Another great preschool choice with a focus on education is Sherwood Forest Montessori School. A Montessori school might not be the right fit for all children, but it does offer a unique learning experience. The school enrolls children from 18 months through the sixth grade. “Founded in 1977, Sherwood Forest Montessori School is an independent learning environment specifically designed for young children and their individual needs.”

3. First Wings Learning Center

“Established in 1994, First Wings Learning Center originally opened to serve children of the Houston Air Traffic Control Center (ZHU) and then at a later date services were extended to the general public.” A different take on preschool, this airplane themed atmosphere could be the perfect choice for those who live close to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Believing in active and fun activities as a way of learning, the school promotes singing, storytelling and game play.

4. The Rise School

A special school for special students, The Rise School is “dedicated to educating young children born with Down syndrome and developmental disabilities alongside their traditional-learning peers.” But even if your child does not have a disability, The Rise School may still be a good choice. “Every year Rise enrolls traditional learners that make up 30% of the student body. For a traditional learner, Rise exceeds a typical preschool environment with small student to teacher ratios, one on one learning plans, master’s level teachers and an inclusive environment not found anywhere else in Houston.”

5. Beehive Coop

Another cooperative preschool program, Beehive stresses parental involvement. “The program is designed to foster positive feelings towards school so that children will leave the program eager to continue learning in both formal and informal settings. Because parents attend Beehive with their children, parents demonstrate to their children the value they place on education and encourage a lifelong habit of learning.” For some parents, Beehive may be a great way to introduce your child to a traditional learning environment while still remaining highly involved in their education.

6. The Walden School

Located in Sugar Land, just south of Houston, the Walden School offers education for children 6 weeks of age through 12 years. Parental involvement is also stressed at this school, as is a focus on self-esteem. “Open communication with staff and directors is encouraged, and a variety of activities are planned especially to involve parents in special events in their child’s school activities.”

7. Creative Minds Child Development Center

Also located in Sugar Land, Creative Minds has the goal of creating lifelong learners. “We help children become independent, self-confident, inquisitive learners by providing an environment that allows children to learn by doing. Our curriculum encourages children to be active and creative explorers. We teach kids how to learn, not just in preschool, but all through their lives.” Active outdoor time and learning fun factor heavily into the curriculum.

8. Pines Montessori School

Located in Kingwood near the Creekwood Nature Reserve, north of Houston, Pines has been an educational anchor since 1977. They “are the largest Montessori school in the area and serve the widest range of ages, from 6 weeks through 15 years (8th grade).” In order to help children learn real life skills, they “offer a challenging, lively curriculum that emphasizes the fundamentals of learning and encourages young scholars to communicate, reason, and think. We regard proficiency in reading and mathematics to be essential, not as ends in themselves, but because these basics are the keys to life-long success.”

There are more accredited preschools in and near Houston, including many religiously affiliated ones. Find the right preschool for your child and check accreditation to make sure they meet your expectations.

Posted in Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off

50 Things to do This Summer in Houston

50-Things-to-do-This-Summer-in-HoustonLooking for some fun things to do this summer in Houston? Look no further. Beat summer boredom by taking advantage of some of these family events, date ideas for couples, kids-only activities and more.

As a Family

Sometimes you just need some good family fun. Check out these 10 ideas for summer fun!

  • Catch Pippi Longstocking: The Family Musical. Head out to the Main Street Theater at Chelsea Market to giggle at the adventures of this precocious red head. The show plays through August 4, 2014. Check theater for new shows.
  • Rent a pedal boat. For just $10 for 30 minutes the family can rent a pedal boat and pedal around the pond at Hermann Park. Bring along some bread or crackers to feed the ducks, then go to the fountain to cool off.
  • Attend Shakespeare in the Park. The Shakespeare Festival is held at the Miller Outdoor Theater. Check with the University of Houston for current offerings.
  • Watch a Movie Under the Moon. Watch a movie outside and bring a picnic supper or snacks at First Colony Church of Christ. Movies are played once a month.
  • Go to a Swift Night Out Events. Head to the Nature Discover Center to join in the fun of counting chimney swifts, which are birds that nest in chimneys. These events are perfect for the whole family and run from August to September.
  • Watch the bats emerge at sunset. This family event takes place on the first and third Friday all year. Come about a half hour before sunset to hear a presentation about the bats and why they act the way they do at the Waugh Bridge. The city has some guidelines you can check out at Houston TX.
  • Rent and drive model boats. The Model Boat Basin located at Discovery Green rents boats for $5 for half an hour or you can bring your own model boat for free.
  • Bring the whole family to watch some baseball. Houston is home to the Astros professional baseball team. Check the schedule to get your tickets for the next game.  Ticket prices vary.
  • Have a blast riding bumper boats, go karts and more. Zuma Fun Centers includes arcades, batting cages, mini golf, kids’ rides, go karts and bumper boats for family fun time. Go as a family or bring some friends for a birthday party. You can enjoy an all-day pass for $23.99.
  • Visit the wild animals. The Houston Zoo houses over 6000 animals that you can visit daily. Explore Natural Encounters, which lets you get up close and personal with the wildlife.

Just for Kids

Looking for something just for the kids? These 10 ideas will help keep the kids from being bored this summer.

  • Check out the Pre-School “Beat the Heat series”. Bring the kids to the Rosenburg Railroad Museum every Wednesday throughout the summer. The kids enjoy a story, a craft and a snack for a nominal charge. Stay and tour the museum at a reduced rate.
  • Learn the basics of kayaking. For $5 per child you can hire a guide to show your kids how to paddle around the pond at Discovery Green. The kids get to practice paddling and enjoy watching the wildlife on the pond. No reservation is required.
  • Discover your “super power”. Take a trip to the Children’s Museum where the theme this summer is The Summer of Epic Adventure: Where Superheroes Discover their Powers. Bring the kids in their favorite super hero costume so that they can discover their own super power. Tickets are $9 for adults and kids.
  • Burn off some energy at the gym. My Gym that is. From 6 weeks to 13 years, your kids can stay fit and have fun. Try your first class for free to see if your kids love it. During the summer you can get two classes for the price of one.
  • Enjoy some good clean fun. Leave the electronic games at home and let the kids enjoy the petting zoo, zip line, rock wall, horse shoe pit, sand box and more at 7 Acre Wood.  Kids can even take a pony ride. Prices start at $6 for admission and then you pay for extra activities, like paintball, once inside.
  • Get the acting bug.  Upstage Arts is a theater where kids can get cast in a play or simply enjoy watching a performance. This experience is open to kids of all ages, but certain shows may be limited. Tuition varies depending on show.
  • Go bowling. Beat the heat and head inside to Main Event for bowling, laser tag, billiards, rock climbing, gravity, bocce ball and more. Spend the day for only $15.95 per person.
  • Visit the aquarium. Take the kids to the Downtown Aquarium for some deep sea fun. Kids can touch live sting rays and ride the shark voyage train through a 200,000 gallon tank full of sharks. Enjoy the view from the Ferris wheel and ride the sea life figures on the carousel. Tickets are $18.99 for an all-day pass.
  • Blast off to outer space. Let the kids imagine themselves as astronauts at NASA. Get the wiggles out in the giant climbing structure and try holding a live snake. The theater shows two movies, Space Shuttle Launching and Destination Station: The International Space Station. Plan on spending the entire day as there is a lot to do.
  • Stroll down the boardwalk. Head to Kemah for a day at the amusement park. The kids will love the rides and attractions, while mom and dad will love the nostalgia of it all. Tickets are $22.99 for kids and adults 48 inches and up and kids less than 48 inches are $17.99.

Adventure Seekers

If you are looking for adventure, there are a lot of things to choose from in Houston. You can zip line, bull ride, horseback ride, deep sea fish, parasail and more.

  • Face your fear of heights. Head to Moody Gardens to try your skills on the tallest ropes course on the Gulf coast, then take a turn on the zip lines. Prices for the ropes course are $18 and the zip line is $18 or you can purchase both for $27.
  • Saddle up. Spend some time with the guide on a trail ride or venture off to an endurance competition with Cypress Trails. Lessons are available in endurance riding and Adventure Trail Rides start at $50 for an hour and go up to $135 for all day. Meals can be included for a fee.
  • Go bull riding. Come to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to watch or enter the bull riding event. You can also enter the barrel racing and bareback riding events. The cowboys and girls that enter these events can win some pretty big money.
  • Cast your line. Ever wanted to catch a fish big enough that you didn’t have to exaggerate its size? Try your hand at deep sea fishing off the gulf coast. Charter a boat with Get Hooked Fishing and learn how to catch the big ones.
  • Try scuba diving. Houston Scuba Academy provides scuba diving lessons and certification. They also host diving trips that you can go on once you are certified.
  • Go water skiing. Take advanced water skiing lessons with M2 Sports. Lessons start at $45 for 25 minutes.
  • Fly up and away. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the gulf when you go parasailing! Prices start at $90 when you go to Galveston Parasail.
  • Feel like a bird and go soaring. Take a test flight on a sail plane with another pilot at the Greater Houston Soaring Association. 30 minute flights are $75.
  • Get a workout and go rock climbing. Stone Moves Indoor Rock Climbing has extensive indoor climbing routes that change monthly. Practice the basics and learn advanced rock climbing moves at this indoor location.
  • Work on landing an Ollie. Head to Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark to practice your daredevil skateboarding moves. Not only can you work on an Ollie, but you can practice your kick flip and spins, too. There’s no charge to skate at the park, but you need your own equipment.

Couples Only

Reserve a nanny for the night and enjoy an evening out on the town. These 10 ideas are perfect for a date night.

  • Float above Houston to celebrate a special event. Hot air balloon rides are romantic and allow you and your loved one to enjoy a spectacular view of Houston. Prices vary, but two people cost around $400 at Soaring Adventures of America.
  • Go to a wine tasting. Pleasant Hill Winery is open for tasting and shopping on the weekend. Come on a Saturday at 11am or Sunday at 12pm. Check out the various wines they have on their site.
  • Learn to cook. Take a cooking class together at Well Done Cooking Classes. The roasted chicken class starts at $89 per person.
  • Relax with a couples massage. Petit Retreat offers several options for a romantic afternoon or evening. A side by side one hour massage is $180 and you can enjoy further relaxation in the Jacuzzi for an additional $70.
  • Enjoy some music. Live music and dinner is available at The House of Blues. Shows vary, so check to see what’s playing before making a reservation.
  • Take a romantic horse drawn carriage ride. A to Z Events offers horse drawn carriage tours of downtown Houston. Pick up is at the Aquarium and you can reserve a set time by calling and paying ahead.
  • Head to the drive-in. Enjoy a flash back date night by eating dinner at a local diner and then heading to The Showboat Drive-in. Tickets for adults are $6 each. First run movies start at dusk.
  • Try a dinner cruise for a romantic evening. Boardwalk Fantasea Dinner Cruises provide a three hour tour of Clear Lake while you enjoy dinner. If you head out on Friday night you can even see the fireworks over Kemah. Prices start at $99.99 per person.
  • Go for dinner and a movie at the same time. Studio Movie Grill has a full bar and kitchen where you can enjoy cocktails and dinner while enjoying first run movies in comfortable chairs.
  • Take in a view of the city. Head to the observation deck at the top of JP Morgan Chase Tower to get fabulous pictures of the incredible view. There’s no charge to head up to the 60th floor, but it’s only open during business hours.

Summer Cool Down

There’s no shortage of places to go to cool off on a hot summer day in Houston. From city pools to splash pads to water parks and swimming holes, there’s something for everyone.

  • Splash Town. Come enjoy the water slides, wave pool and brand new Flow Rider surfing ride at Splash Town. Tickets are $34.99 for adults and $30.99 for kids under 48 inches. Soft sided coolers filled with water bottles are allowed inside the park. There are picnic tables outside the park to enjoy a picnic lunch or you can buy food inside.
  • Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Spend the day staying cool and having a great time at Schlitterbahn, which is home to the Whitewater River, Torrent River, Soaring Eagle Zip Line and more. Tickets are $55.98 for adults and $45.98 for kids and include a refillable souvenir bottle.
  • Head to a splash pad. There are over 27 different splash pads in Houston. Each splash pad has its own theme, so be sure to try more than one.
  • Try out a place that has water rides and zip lines. Splashway is a water park complete with a lazy river, wave pool, slides and more. They also recently added zip lines to the property. Tickets for the water park are $24.99 and the zip lines are $45. There are also campgrounds with cabins close by.
  • Get lost in the space bowl or drenched under the bucket. Try these attractions and more when you go to Baytown. In addition to the standard water slides, Baytown also has exciting attractions like the space bowl, a surf machine and the relaxing lazy river. Prices start at $15 for kids under 48 inches and $20 for everyone else.
  • Swim at an area pool. You can find a listing of all of the pools in Houston on the city website. These pools offer swimming lessons for the young and water exercise classes for the young at heart.
  • Try out for the swim team. Check out the YMCA for the details on trying out and joining the swim team. You can also attend swimming lessons through the YMCA.
  • Dive right in. Head over to W. W. Emmons Natatorium for diving practice. In addition to diving, competitive swimmers can enjoy the 25 yard lap pool.
  • Swim in the ocean and ride the waves. Mustang Island has beaches where you can build sand castles and body surf on the waves. You may even be able to find some pretty shells to collect.
  • Find a local swimming hole. If you are looking for a fresh water option, try a local swimming hole. Check out the list of 10 on TPW Magazine.
Posted in Activities, Houston | Comments Off

How to Create a Craft Closet

How-to-Create-a-Craft-ClosetMost nannies love to do crafts with kids, but having craft stuff scattered around the house makes it hard to get started. From crayons in the toy box to wrapping paper in the attic, finding everything you need to do crafts can be frustrating if you don’t have a centralized crafting area. That is where a craft closet comes in handy. You do not need to make a whole room into a crafting space to have an organized and useful place to store your craft goods. Consider asking your employer if a broom closet or other small storage space can be converted into a craft closet for the kids..

Once you’ve got the approval to create a space, here are some tips for creating and maintaining a craft closet:

1. Organization

First things first. Organization is the key to making your craft closet work. Tossing in a bunch of craft goods just won’t work. It is not any better than having them scattered throughout the house. Instead, invest in bins, shelves and other organizational storage units to make the most of your small space. Make sure you have a place for everything so that you can find it easily when you need it.

2. Visibility

Another aspect of crafting is inspiration. You can use things you have left over from other projects to create something new. But if you can’t see what you have, how will you ever use it? Make things visible in your craft closet by using clear storage solutions. Bins with clear doors, wire racks and open hangers all allow you to see what you have on hand so you can use and be inspired by it.

3. Access

Kid and adult friendly access is paramount to a successful craft closet. For kid crafts like coloring and finger-paints you may want to keep these items low enough for them to reach. Potentially dangerous items like scissors and needles should be kept on higher shelves that only adults can access. That way you feel safe sending your child to retrieve something from the craft closet for their own craft adventures. Having easy to open bins and easy to access shelves also helps to keep craft goods on hand when you need them. From paper to bags to ribbon, your craft closet should be easy to access.

4. Easy Clean Up

When your craft closet is organized it’s easier to clean up. Another aspect of this is labeling. Having labeled areas for each type of craft good makes it easier for them to be properly put away. Items like butcher paper and newspaper should also be stored with your craft goods to make cleaning up after messy crafts like glitter easier. Laying out a few layers of paper can make cleaning up a snap and help make crafting less stressful and more fun.

5. Workspace

Last but not least is a workspace. Although you might not have an entire room devoted to crafting your craft closet can be a space to work in too. A fold down table can easily be placed up out of the way and gotten out for craft projects in a snap. Even tables meant to fold laundry are great additions to a craft closet and make it even more usable and craft friendly.

Making a craft closet doesn’t have to be a big deal. You probably have almost everything you need already. If you don’t, consider asking your employer for a small budget to stock up on supplies. Setting aside a special craft area can help you make the most of your crafting time together and cut back on time spent searching for crafting supplies.

Posted in Activities, Advice for Nannies, Advice for Parents, Houston | Comments Off
← Older posts Newer posts →

Morningside Nannies 3701 Kirby Drive, Suite 1228
Houston, TX 77098
Directions »

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:30am - 5:00pm

(713) 526-3989
Fax: (713) 526-1463
info@morningsidenannies.com
Testimonials
I described the person I wanted and that’s what you found for me. Thank you.Penny Featherston, NorAm Energy
I trust Morningside Nannies & their research into their nannies more than any of the other seven agencies we talked with. The checks are reliable and the quality of nannies was superb. The process of finding a nanny was handled quite professionally.Dr. Kim Burgess, Pediatrician
The first person you recommended met my needs perfectly.Carolyn Goodrich, Stay at home mom
Objective and professional with an obvious personal touch, small but important comments about each person.Dr. Shari Rochen
As a new mom I was nervous about hiring a nanny, but now I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve sung your praises to everyone I know.Tarala Rybacki
I am delighted with the outcome, and enjoyed the process.Dr. Rick Smalley, Professor Rice University, Nobel Peace Prize Honoree
During our search for our current nanny I used several well-known services in Houston. I found that Morningside Nannies had the highest- quality applicants in town.Dr. Katherine Tiwari
I have used two other agencies, both were difficult to work with and did not live up to their promises and Morningside Nannies did.Dr. Susan Streusand
Morningside Nannies blew the others away!Myron Morris, O.R. Business Manager and Dr. Audrey Winer, Pediatrician
Morningside Nannies only sent me nannies that fit my needs. I felt that I wasn’t sent the resume of everyone on file.Jodie MacCrory, IBM