Fun With Fruit & Vegetables : Kids Lunch Ideas

 Kids Lunch Ideas
Fun With Fruit & Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables can sometimes be a tricky topic with children. It’s vital to keep it fun and interesting in order to engage them. Also, repetition is key. If you keep giving them vegetables in their lunch box (eg. instead of chips, pretzels etc), they will eventually nibble and try it. They may not initially accept the flavors, but hang in there, scientifically it takes taste buds at least 10 tries of eating something to ‘acquire’ a taste for it. This is not going to guarantee a raw vegetable LOVER, but I assure you they will learn to tolerate it in small quantities, which is an astounding success when compared to eating chips, pretzels, crackers etc.
Also, presentation and shape make a big difference.
Tiny mason jars mixed with something they like (eg. natural Greek yogurt or hummus) works very well. A large dollop of hummus or yogurt can nicely tuck away vegetables and thus becomes fun & interesting. The smaller the veggie pieces, the more likely they will eat them, not least of which because it gets all mixed up and there is no choice but to spoon it all up in one go, MOM HACK, KID approved!
Lightly steaming green vegetables and drizzling with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper makes a huge difference with taste and texture, as it is sweeter, more familiar and softer.
Have fun, experimenting with cutting vegetables and fruits in different shapes using cookie cutters and use fun cocktail sticks!
Here is a list of some easy, fun go-to fruit and vegetable snack ideas that your kids can make with mild adult supervision. The more that your child in engaged with making healthy foods, the more awareness and interest they will have! Also, children learn best by example, if they see that your plate is always filled with at least 50% vegetables (which a healthy plate should be), they will be more inclined to do the same.
Cucumber sandwiches
Cut 2cm thick slices and shape with fun cookie cutter, fill with cream cheese, sliced cheese, sliced turkey etc
Sliced apple or pear sandwiches
Cut 2cm thick slices and shape with fun cookie cutter, fill with nut butter, raisins, seeds, or with sliced cheese and turkey
Tomato and cheese sticks
Cut tiny wedges of cheese, steam tiny flowerets of broccoli and have a bunch of colorful cherry tomatoes, pierce carefully with toothpick (with adult supervision)
Ants on a log
Celery cut into 3-4 inch pieces, fill with:

 

hummus and pine nuts
hummus and vegetables
cream cheese or natural Greek yogurt and vegetables
nut butter and raisins

 

NB. Variation – add slice of apple into wedge of celery to create a little insect create!
 
Fruit cocktail sticks
Slice fruit into 2cm thick small pieces and pierce carefully with toothpick (with adult supervision)
Vegetable Mason Jars
1/4 cup hummus or natural Greek yogurt and raw or lightly steamed vegetables as described above
Mason Jar Smoothies
Smoothies are an excellent way to transform all sorts of VEGETABLES into a drinkable treat. Have your kid help you place ingredients in a food processor and press the mix button, there is something so satisfying about watching a smoothie in the making. Some of my top pics for smoothie ingredients include: spinach, avocado, banana, berries, hemp seeds (for protein), medjool dates, unsweetened almond milk, coconut water, dash of vanilla powder.
copy-erinrose

 

Best PreSchools, elementary school and day Cares in Jersey City

Best PreSchools, Elementary School and Day Cares in Jersey City

Choosing a day care or school for your child can be a nerve-wracking and overwhelming experience.  At JCFamilies, we want you to find the right fit for your family and child. 
For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the best preschools, elementary schools and day cares in Jersey City.

Waterfront Montessori

WATERFRONT MONTESSORI 

http://www.waterfrontmontessori.com/

150 Warren St #108

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 333-5600

Waterfront Montessori is a beautiful modern facility located in the exclusive Paulus Hook neighborhood in Jersey City on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River with a view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Waterfront Montessori is a parent-founded, parent-run independent school for children from two years old through eighth grade.


The Brunswick School 

http://thebrunswickschool.com

189 Brunswick Street,Jersey City, Nj 07302,

ph.201-420-1550
Best PreSchools and day Cares in Jersey City

 

 

 

 

The Brunswick School is getting closer and closer to announcing its opening date! While we complete our finishing touches and finalize some more Open Information Sessions and Open House dates, we invite all inquiring families to schedule a private appointment with our director to hear details about our entire program! Work long hours?

We have availability weekday evenings and weekends to better accommodate your busy schedule! Email [email protected] or call (201) 420-1550 today to schedule your one on one session to find out why The Brunswick School is the school for you!

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The French American Academy 

209 Third Street, NJ 07302

www.faacademy.org

The French American Academy offers an early-start, gradual immersion, dual language education to students from Nursery through 5th grade. The Middle School (6th to 8th grade) will open in 2016.

The FAA has three campuses in New Jersey : New Milford, Morris Plains and Jersey City.

Please register for a tour at [email protected]         

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 World of ABC, The Waldo School

 159 2nd Street & 110 1st Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302


Preschools jersey city

 

World of ABC, The Waldo School sets the standard for leading private education! By adopting and developing a highly innovative international curriculum, our students are encouraged to explore and flourish while discovering and developing new talents. Our students are inspired to grow as individuals, with no child forced to ascribe to one specific mold, through equal emphasis on all disciplines and opportunities to explore concepts at his or her own pace. To schedule a tour of our schools and learn more about our programs, call 201-963-5555 today!

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EARLY BEGINNINGS DAY SCHOOL

338 Grove Street

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 918-5623

http://earlybeginningsdayschool.com/

 

Daycares jersey city

 

 

 

 

 

Early Beginnings Day School’s trained, caring staff will make sure your child receives well-rounded care while they’re at our facility. With a full schedule of activities that stimulate the mind and body, your child will receive constant attention. Their curriculum is always age appropriate and ensures that your child has a fun, educationally enriching time with them. Offering plenty of play time, they  have things to do for children of all ages.

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SMART START ACADEMY

462 Central Ave

Jersey City, NJ 07307

(201) 461-6161

http://smart-startacademy.com/

private school jersey city

 

 

 

Smart Start Academy is dedicated to bringing the best environment for learning and creativity to each student. Our full day programs have a curriculum that works to meet every learning style in a way to that nurtures every aspect of a child- the physical, emotional, intellectual and social. Since each child is unique and has their own needs and style of learning.

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BRIGHT HORIZONS

http://child-care-preschool.brighthorizons.com/NJ/JerseyCity/plaza3jc/

152 Plaza 3, Jersey City , NJ 07311
(201) 433-6370

Bright Horizons® makes child care easy: early learning and care you can feel great about; with a schedule and convenient location that fits your life.

Bright Horizons at Plaza 3 Jersey City opened in the Fall of 2013 on the waterfront of the Harborside Financial Center! Our center provides several options for commuters.  We are steps away from the Hudson/Bergen Lightrail Harborside Financial Center stop.  We are also a block away from the Exchange Place Path station stop.

Our center provides several options for commuters.  We are steps away from the Hudson/Bergen Lightrail Harborside Financial Center stop.  We are also a block away from the Exchange Place Path station stop.

Our center also offers parents many advantages, such as an open-door policy which welcomes visits and classroom participation, daily experience sheets for your child, interactive family resources, family events, parenting webinars, and an in center parent group.

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ALL SAINTS DAY SCHOOLkindergarten school JC

http://www.allsaintsdayschool.org/page

707 Washington St.

Hoboken, NJ 07030

(201) 792-0736

Best PreSchools JCViaquenti Preschool 

285 Newark Ave,

Jersey City, NJ 07302

http://www.viaquenti.com

Viaquenti Preschool is delighted to be serving children 4 months – 1st grade at two convenient locations in downtown Jersey City!

Our programs strive to enrich students by developing active learners with an international focus.

Offering bilingual studies and Spanish Immersion afterschool programs.

Now enrolling for 2015-2016 academic year AND our exciting Summer Camp Program!

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The Kaplan Cooperative Preschool 

www.kaplancooperativepreschool.org

115 Park Avenue – Hoboken, New Jersey 07030

201- 653-8666

[email protected]

Kaplan Cooperative Preschool

The Kaplan Cooperative Preschool is part of the United Synagogue of Hoboken.  We are a Jewish preschool open to families of all faiths, and committed to providing play-based, high-quality early childhood education to all children.                                                                               

PRIMARY PREP

http://www.primaryprep.com/

41 Tuers Ave

Jersey City, NJ 07306

(201) 333-8844

Primary Prep Elementary is a private, non-denominational school offering an exciting learning environment to children in Kindergarten through Grade Eight. The school is located in the center of Jersey City, New Jersey with easy access to major roads and public transportation.

Primary Prep Elementary School is a diverse learning community that prepares each student for academic, social, and personal success by providing a safe, supportive, and challenging environment. It is our goal to nurture and assist the children in achieving their highest potential as they grow to become confident, competent, and caring individuals.

The Scandinavian School of Jersey City

210 9th Street

Jersey City, 07306

(917) 536-7911

www.scandischool.com

Kindergarten: http://scandischool.com/?page_id=1259

email: [email protected]

The Scandinavian School of Jersey City

The curriculum is based on an image of the child as creative, capable and inquisitive. Children are placed at the center of curriculum negotiations, the belief being that they learn best when their interests are acknowledged as worthy of investigation. Adopting a child-centred approach results in an authentically responsive curriculum model that ensures a dynamic and vibrant teaching and learning environment. We believe that in both small and large groups children learn through sharing, discussing, questioning, reflecting and engaging with their peers.

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STEVENS COOPERATIVE SCHOOL

http://www.stevenscoop.org/

301 Garden St,

Hoboken, NJ 07030

(201) 792-3688

Stevens is an inclusive and innovative school where every single student is an active and valued participant, every teacher and staff member cares and everyone works to improve the learning experience.

Depth of learning is a focal point of a Stevens education. Our students are well-prepared because their school serves as a laboratory for creative thinking, analysis, and communication. Along with intellectual rigor, we place an emphasis on work habits, organizational skills, global thinking and emotional intelligence.

The learning environment at Stevens Cooperative School is challenging, exciting, and student-centered. All students feel valued because they are seen as active participants in their learning and because their opinions and thoughts matter. Teachers are guides and facilitators who know how to engage students by posing questions, making suggestions and supporting students when they want to delve further into a topic or new discovery. Innovative teaching practices allow for out-of-the box thinking. Students understand the purpose of being both creators and critical consumers of information that they see, read, and learn about in and out of school.

THE GARDEN PRESCHOOL COOPERATIVE

http://gardenpreschool.org/

242 10th St # 5

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 309-0440

Garden Preschool Cooperative Logo

The Garden Preschool Cooperative (GPC) is a parent-run nonprofit preschool that seeks to provide high-quality progressive early childhood education in a nurturing atmosphere. Founded in 1995, the school was envisioned as an alternative to parents who sought an enhanced level of involvement in the education of their young children and who believed a cooperative community would provide an ideal setting for early childhood education.

The program at GPC is based on the well-researched and well-proven educational philosophy of developmentally-appropriate practice. GPC faculty employ the developmental-interactive approach to teaching students as pioneered by the Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York.

 

HAMILTON PARK MONTESSORI PARK

www.hamiltonparkmontessori.com

1 McWilliams Pl #206

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 533-1910

logo

Hamilton Park Montessori School educates children from infancy through eighth grade, following the vision of Maria Montessori, who was thrice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of children and her work toward world peace. Built on Montessori’s values and her scientific observation of the nature of learning, HPMS’ curriculum lays a sound foundation in mathematics, language, geography, science and social science, creative arts, physical movement, sensory learning and practical living. As Montessorians, we believe this strong foundation is the key to academic success, personal growth and global awareness.

HUDSON MONTESSORI SCHOOL

http://hudsonmontessori.net/

10 Regent Street,

Jersey City, New Jersey 07302

(201) 516-0700

At Hudson Montessori School we work with, and show our students how to “make”, and provide them with possibilities and materials. We also have an assembly each week that offers them a forum for presenting their ideas and showing their peers and teachers what they have created. This is an essential step for the students to reflect on their work and receive valuable feedback for them to consider in their next project.

Every year, the entire school engages in a yearlong project that is theme based on a universal topic. Each theme we pick allows us to look at the world from a new perspective and from different angles. Every area of the curriculum is integrated in hands-on applications, such as combining math, science and language skills to figure out and document a solution to a problem.

Our definition of STEAM is not doing projects, or addressing each area of study in isolation, but through exploration of a topic where we integrate skills from every core area of the curriculum and use the scientific method. Using their skills in this way, students are able to reach a successful conclusion by combining their knowledge and experiences to learn and solve problems.

BELOVED COMMUNITY CHARTER SCHOOL

http://belovedccs.org/

508 Grand St

Jersey City, NJ 07304

(201) 744-9775

Extraordinarily high satisfaction levels were expressed by BelovED’s students, by their parents/guardians, and by the school’s teachers in year-end, online surveys that granted respondents complete anonymity.  High satisfaction is further reflected in BelovED’s exceedingly high student and faculty retention rate.

At BelovED Community Charter School, we are committed to your child, and we accept responsibility – “no excuses” – for helping your child develop the kind of values, skills, knowledge, confidence and character that will propel him or her to success in school, college, and career, and produce a happy, contributory life.

A key feature of the school is its caring school climate – a climate that makes students feel cared about and results in their caring about others, also. Children learn more when they love school – and children most often love school when they feel welcomed and cared for at school.

We combine our commitment to your child and our caring school climate with an education program that features a proven curriculum and instructional methodology. 

 

 

  Smart Start Academy

552 9TH ST
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 461-6363

http://smart-startacademy.com

Child Development Center in Jersey City | Smart-Start Academy

SSA accept infants 6 weeks old and up till age 5 years

They offer 2 day program ( t/th)
3 days program (m/w/f)
5 days program (m-f)
Half day program until 12:30 pm 5 days a week

After school program is called  “social enrichment program” (3:30pm -7 pm)

SSA follow the creative curriculum now Reggio Emila Approach

 

—————————————-Apple Montessori Schools Hoboken

www.applemontessorischools.com

Two locations: 1055 Maxwell Lane & 221 River Street

201-963-4949

For over 40 years, Apple Montessori Schools have set exceptional standards for early childhood and elementary education. Nurturing the unique potential of each child is the core of all we do.

Family owned Apple Montessori Schools has fostered the unique potential of tens of thousands of children since 1972. By embracing the most fundamental teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, we instill a love of learning, a strong work ethic, creativity, respect, and compassion for others through our research-proven programs. Our method is designed to build upon your child’s innate skills, knowledge and talents. By offering multi-aged classrooms rich with Montessori materials, your child will be actively engaged in his or her own learning process – at his or her own pace.

Children aged birth to six years old learn more – and more rapidly – than at any other time in their lives. Finding the right program is one of the most important decision you’ll ever make as a parent.

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Tessa International School

 

Tessa International School

Tessa International School is a new school, opening in Hoboken in 2016, which welcomes children from preschool to kindergarten.

Your children will receive a world-class education based on the most successful international models, enabling them to thrive in the increasingly global 21st century.

Our curriculum includes French or Spanish immersion tracks, delivered by experienced and caring educators who consider the whole child.

 

Meet the Head of School and learn more about Tessa’s curriculum and admissions process, by signing up for an upcoming Open House session or by contacting us:

Tessa International School is conveniently located in the heart of Hoboken, in the Monroe Center: 720 Monroe Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030.

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THE GOLDEN DOOR CHARTER SCHOOL

http://www.goldendoorschool.org/

3044 John F Kennedy Blvd W

Jersey City, NJ 07306

(201) 795-4400

Golden Door Charter School

At the Golden Door Charter School, we strive to create an institution that offers the parents of Jersey City a viable choice for their child’s education. We are dedicated to creating a safe and high quality-learning environment for all of our students.

The Golden Door Charter School is proving that every child can succeed when given the right opportunities. Inside bright and colorful classrooms, dynamic teachers engage elementary students in fast-paced and highly interactive reading, language/writing, spelling, mathematics, social studies, science and character education lessons that have been aligned closely to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards.

OLC SCHOOL

http://www.olcschool.org/

248 Luis Marin Boulevard

Jersey City, NJ 07302

(201) 434-2405

The mission of Our Lady of Czestochowa (The OLC School) is to create a learning environment that encourages each child to grow as a spiritual, moral and intellectual individual, who will be able to embrace a global multicultural society of the 21st century.
As a Catholic school in a diverse community, we strive to develop virtues and values that foster the expression of a child’s potential.  We encourage life-long learning and creative problem solving by providing a challenging and stimulating academic curriculum, while also allowing consideration for individual interests, abilities and needs.

Related Blogs: Charter Schools, Public Schools

 

Camp Riverbend “Alien Invasion” Open House

 

Choosing a summer camp?

Come sample Camp Riverbend’s awesome summer activities this winter at our “Alien Invasion” Open House Saturday February 25, 10 am – 12 noon.  We will have lots of fun Riverbend activities for kids and parents, run by our amazing counselors, including out of this world games, crafts and cooking.  Take a tour of the camp site with our directors.  Free!  RSVP required to [email protected] or 908-580-CAMP.

Camp Riverbend is 30 minutes from downtown Jersey City; daily summer bus service included

Charter Schools In Jersey City

Charter Schools In Jersey City

Sometimes a charter school is the best choice for your child and your family.  But with so many charter schools now in JC, how do you know which one to choose?  Although nothing can replace your own research and school visit, we’ve done a lot of the research for you.  JCFamilies has completed an extensive review of the most highly recommend charter schools and compiled our findings below.  We hope you find this helpful and informative.

Your 2018 Guide to Jersey City’s Most Recommended Charter Schools and Why You Should Enroll:

Charter Schools are an interesting concept- after all, they’re basically privately funded experimental educational programs.

 Many parents are saying public schools are failing, and charter schools attempt to provide a solution for that. Of course, what will work for your child all depends on your needs, and you know your child’s needs best- only you can make the decision.
Parents have a tough job- they need to tour the facility, interview the director and get a feel for the teachers. That’s a lot of stressful work, but it’s a necessary and life changing decision for your child. That’s why we  have complied ultimate Guide to Jersey City’s Most Recommended Charter Schools. While charter schools get a bad rep due to some attempts failing in the past, because each charter school is different you shouldn’t let those rumors scare you off. Do your research and inform yourself as much as possible in order to make the best decision for your child.
Here we provide you with a list of Jersey City’s Charter schools to get you started.
The Ethical Community Charter School


 The Ethical Community Charter School might be for you! This is a school that encourages as much student participation as possible; they encourage the students to ask questions and form their own opinions. This school takes advantage of the arts and uses it as a movement to integrate both fun and learning into one. They do a great job at mixing community into the learning aspect of the school. Some things you ought to 
know right away? Admissions! The admission process for the 2014-2015 school year is currently open. The closing date for admissions is on January 7th, 2014. There will be a lottery held on Thursday January 16th at 7pm in the school cafeteria. The lottery is the way in which this school chooses the students for the following year, that way everyone has an equal opportunity. If you wish to apply to this school you can find the application form on their website (http://www.teccs-jc.org/).

Also, if before you apply you would prefer to pay the school a visit then no problem! The school hosts tours every Friday at 9:30 am by appointment. All you have to do is send an email to [email protected] or give them a phone call at (201)984-4151 and book your appointment.


The Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City is a school open for children in Kindergarten to the eighth grade. The curriculum for each grade group is made up by focusing and mixing three different elements. In the curriculum the staff incorporates responsive learning, multidisciplinary core curriculum and project-based learning. This style of teaching can accomplish many goals academically within the same time. For example, while students are being taught about information in one subject that are simultaneously using and strengthening their writing skills. This is one of the main goals at the Ethical Community Center School.


As I mentioned before, the Ethical Community Charter School fully believes in teaching children not only to act responsibly and how to treat each other but what it means to have responsibility. They take it upon themselves to instill in each child the meanings and reasoning behind respect. Teachers will take classroom opportunities to create a teaching lesson; every moment counts right? And if you feel that you would like a little more of this ethics style program the Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City also has a C.A.R.E (Contributing to the community, Achieving excellence, Respecting yourself and others, and Exhibiting self-control) program in place to take this ideal a step further.

At The Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City they also feel strongly on child health. Because of this, the school has rid of all of their vending machines. They use the lunch program as an opportunity to teach and educate the students about healthy eating habits.

If you’re looking for a school that takes every opportunity available to them and the students to be turned into a learning experience then the Ethical Community Charter School just may be for you. It is a caring environment that places high values on respect. So feel free to visit their website or visit the school itself on any Friday. Just be sure to do it soon as the application deadlines for the next school year is coming up.

As always, Happy School Hunting!

Four years ago Vanessa Morales set out on a mission to become a school guidance counselor. Ever since, her eyes have been open to how the education system has been struggling, leading her to the path where she is now; researching on ways to better the education system that exists for young ones. She notes and blogs what she has found that has been working and continues to attend college to further educate herself on what can and needs to be done.

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BelovED Community Charter School 

A dedicated charter school located in Jersey City; a school that thrives from their “caring school climate” as they call it. At BelovEd Community Charter School they believe in helping the students to feel cared about in their environment which helps them to care about others in return. They believe in establishing this friendly environment because it brings the students a step closer to enjoying and loving school. We all know it’s always easier to learn when we are having a good time, why not apply this to the kid’s everyday curriculum!

Beloved is a place that would be committed to your child and his or her success. They understand that once a child becomes a student it is the responsibility of the faculty at BelovED Community Charter School to lead them onto the right path; preparing them for their success in school, college and future careers. So let’s talk about some of the things that BelovEd has to offer you folks in Jersey City!

To start off with, BelovEd Community Charter School offers a longer than average school day in order to provide children with the care that they need. The day begins with breakfast (for eligible students) at 7:45 am. Following breakfast, the school day runs from 8:00am – 4:15pm.

At BelovEd, they also offer the students an opportunity to stay at school longer through their aftercare program. This program is optional for any child that is interested until the time of 5:30pm. Parents and students can choose if they want their child to attend the aftercare program and what activities they get involved with. You can choose perhaps a sport or if you or your child feels they need a little extra help they can choose to use that time for assistance through tutoring.

BelovEd Community Charter School in Jersey City is a free of cost (yay!) public school that is open to all students equally, no favoritism, no advantages. They are currently open for accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school 
year. If you are interested in applying to BelovEd you could apply in multiple ways. One way you can apply to the school is by simply applying online. The second option is to print an application and submit it to the school. If you want to move fast then an online application is your way to go. However, if you feel more comfortable with submitting the application in person by all means! Plus, it’ll give you an opportunity to see the school for yourself. The application form needed can be found on their website (http://belovedccs.org/enroll/).

Want to visit the school and feel it out for yourself? Contact the school! (Contact information also provided on their website). You can either give them a call at 201-744-9775, or you can email them. In order to send the faculty at BelovEd an email you must visit their webpage and scroll all the way to the bottom in order to see their contact details. There you will see a link that says email us; click the link and all that is left to do is write your message. See if you can schedule your very own walk through, it never hurts to ask!

Happy School Hunting Everyone!

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The Learning Community Charter School

 

The Learning Community Charter School is an independent public school located in Jersey City. The school is just a block away from Lincoln Park for those of you who would love a nearby park to take your little ones to. The Learning Community Charter School serves to educate children between the grades Pre-K through the 8th Grade. The Pre-K classes aim to have at most 15 students in each class and classes from Kindergarten to the 8th grade aim to have about 20 students in each class. Want to pay the school a visit for yourself? Feel free to stop by on Monday December 16th for a tour at 6 and 6:30. There is no need to RSVP. There will also be a later tour date available on  Friday, January 3rd at 9:30 and 10am.

The Admission process for the learning community charter school in Jersey City is done in a lottery style fashion. Applicants must apply to the school within the deadline. The lottery determines, at random, who is accepted to the school and who is placed on the waiting list. Those on the waiting list will be contacted once an opening occurs. If no response is made then the school will move on to the next person on the list. The list of applicants is refreshed every year, re-using the lottery method. Applications for the 2014-2015 school year are now being accepted at the Learning Community Charter School now up till Friday January 3rd at 3pm.

At the Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City both breakfast and lunch are made available at the school to the students. The calendar for what meals will be made available on a daily basis is up on the schools website (www.lccsnj.org) for the parents to download if interested. There is a calendar both for the breakfast menu and for the lunch menu to lessen any confusion. As in many schools, lunch is provided at a slight cost. The student breakfast cost $1.60. The student lunch comes at a little more of a cost, $3.00. Now, if you think you would qualify to receive free or reduced lunch there is an application link available on the website. The cost of the reduced breakfast is $0.30 and the cost for the reduced lunch is $0.40, so please do take advantage of the reduced/free meal option if it is available for you.

While looking at the curriculum and classes offered at the Learning Community Charter School I was sort of taken a back when I saw the extensive list. Many of the things offered are for sure not mandatory to be provided, which is great to see. It gives me the feeling that this school truly does care to give its students an experience that they will forever appreciate. Yes, the school of course offers English Language arts, math, science, physical education and social studies. But the courses that put an extra smile on my face were visual arts, wingspan arts (which is a non-profit program that all students from 5th grade to 8th grade engage in for an hour once a week exposing them to performing, visual, media and literary arts), hip hop elements, play at poetry, digital photography and graphic design (designs the yearbook), Afro- Caribbean drumming and step it up (where students learn to step; make rhythmic patterns using their hands and feet). There are so many options here for each child that wherever they choose to go they should learn, grow and most importantly experience something new to help them feel more comfortable or “at home” in their school.


You may be overwhelmed with all of the course options I just threw at you but be prepared for one more thing; the THINK TANK after school program at the learning community charter school. The think tank after school program is offered daily from 3:15-6 pm and from 12:20-6 pm on most half days. It is set in place for both activities and homework help. There are three sessions of this program each year and they do require a fee. If you or your child is interested in attending the after school program please contact the school for more information on how the payment works. They are willing to work with families who may not be able to afford the entire payment. No child left behind right? Also, students are allowed to do a one day drop in at the after school program but also at a charge; usually $18 but again, contact the school if this does not work for you and see what they can do. It never hurts to take the chance especially with a school that is willing to help.

The Learning Community Charter School sounding good for you so far? Don’t forget the applications are due by January 3rd! Also, remember you can drop into any of the upcoming tours on Monday December 16th and Friday January 3rd. Hope it is the school for you! Happy School Searching!

Four years ago Vanessa Morales set out on a mission to become a school guidance counselor. Ever since, her eyes have been open to how the education system has been struggling, leading her to the path where she is now; researching on ways to better the education system that exists for young ones. She notes and blogs what she has found that has been working and continues to attend college to further educate herself on what can and needs to be done. 

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Golden Door Charter School

 

A school that focuses on the achievements of each child “no exceptions, no excuses”. Well then, it is time to talk about The Golden Door Charter School! The Golden Door Charter School is a school located on 3044 Kennedy Blvd. in Jersey City. So let’s talk about a bit of what Golden Door Charter School has to offer.

At Golden Door Charter School, they strive to provide parents and students with a safe and high quality learning environment for each and every student that attends. To get an idea of the curriculum in place at Golden Door, it is important to know that the lessons at Golden door follow the guidelines of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. This is to ensure that each child in every classroom is guaranteed a well-rounded education. To go a step further, Golden Door Charter School offers their students the chance to take a course in foreign language, music and art. They also offer health and physical education to instill in the minds of our young ones the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Want to know what grabbed me when checking out the Golden Door Charter School? Simple! The fact that accessing the specific curriculum available at the Golden Door Charter School is just a click away. On their website, the Golden Door Charter School has available the curriculum overviews. It is easy to find exact curriculum your child would be placed into. The links to each curriculum is divided by subject and by class grades; so simple! So if you would like to check out the class environment your child would be placed into please do visit their website at www.goldendoorschool.org . Simply click on the previous link and then on that page go to academics and then curriculum overviews. There you will see a list of each curriculum.


Next thing you should know about Golden Door Charter School is their uniform policy. At Golden Door they are very strict with uniforms. Each child is to come to school in their uniform daily. This means your child shall attend school in their proper uniform (varies from class grades) from head to toe. If your child is out of uniform, the school will contact you so that you can bring in the proper uniform for your child.

Food time! At Golden Door they provide breakfast and lunch for each child. Some may be eligible for free or reduced fare meals depending on the income eligibility guidelines provided on the Federal income chart. If you do not think you will qualify I would like to tell you the pricing for each meal. For a student that has to pay the full fare, breakfast will cost $1.35 and lunch will cost $2.50 daily. For a reduced fare student, breakfast will cost $.30 and lunch will cost $.40 daily. Students are not required to bring their lunch money with them. The school has a FSS PositiveID system in place; which is a system where your child’s finger will be recognized to uncover their account that you the parent sets up in the way of your choosing. This way, your child will be the only one who has access to their own meals, which in my opinion is great to hear.

The Golden Door Charter School has plenty more to offer, like their aftercare program and their anti-bullying policy. From what I can see, there’s something here to love for everyone. If this is the school for you requesting an application form is just a click away! Simply visit their website (posted above) and click on the “For Parents” tab up top. Once on that page, there will be a link on the side that says Request to Attend. Once you’ve filled out that form submit it and you’re one step closer to the school that’s right for you. Easy as one, two, three! So I urge you all to take a look at their website or even set up a visit where you can get a walk-through the school and experience the Golden Door experience for yourself. See if this school is right for you and your little one. And as always, Happy School Hunting!

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Soaring Heights Charter School

STUDENT: I understand as a student of Soaring Heights Charter School, I agree to the following:

1.)   I will come to school ready to learn.
2.) I will have each day’s homework completed and ready to hand in.
3.) I will work to reach the highest expectations.
4.) I will respect my teachers.
Parents will acknowledge this contract by signing and returning it to school.

I wanted to begin this post with this agreement because I believe it shows the schools character. It shows what the Soaring Heights Charter School deems as important and so will be in turn be implementing in their students all throughout kindergarten to eighth grade. It’s a pretty smart way to start the school year if you ask me. It shows the child, and the parents, what lies ahead of them as well as teaches the child that they themselves are beginning to be more and more responsible for their own actions.

Keeping with the theme, the Soaring Heights Charter School in Jersey City has some strict policies on school arrival and departure time. The school allows for children to arrive at the school at 7:55 a.m. at the earliest and to stay afterschool up until 2:45 pm the latest, unless they will be participating in an after school program. The time is so strictly set because if a child is to arrive before the arrival time (which is earlier than the regular school day for those who would like to enjoy breakfast) they would be there unsupervised. The same goes for a child that stays in the school past the departure time.

In regards to school breakfast, as I stated above, the Soaring Heights Charter school offers students breakfast starting at 7:55am. Now, both school breakfast and lunch is offered and available to students, however it is not free. Parents are required to pay for school meals on a weekly basis. Parents are to send either a check or cash along with a completed menu to the school by Friday for your child to receive lunch. I am not sure on the schools policy on reduced or free lunch but as I always say, it doesn’t hurt to ask. So if you are interested or feel your child should be eligible for free lunch ask the school administration. They should lead you in the right direction.

At the Soaring Heights Charter School a school uniform is required. Students are required to wear khaki, black or navy pants, skirts or jumpers. They are to wear plain solid white shirts or sweaters. The shirts could also be of the solid colors light blue or navy. The following clothing items are not allowed:

  • Leggings, jeggings, skinny fit pants, jeans or tight fitting pants
  • Hats
  • Open toed shoes
  • Baggy clothing items

There is also a gym uniform requirement at the Soaring heights. Students are required to wear either sweatpants or shots with sweatshirts that are all black without any stripes or writing with the exception of the school logo. The shirt is required to have the school logo. The sneakers must have white soles and say “no skid marks” on the sole; I am not too sure on the reasoning for this, so be sure to ask if you have any questions.

Interested in applying to the Soaring Heights Charter School? Well the school is currently accepting applications. Simply visit their website at www.soaringheightscharterschool.com/application.php and click on the link to download the pdf version of the application. Print it, fill it out and mail the application form to the following address; Soaring Heights Charter School 1 Romar Avenue Jersey City, New Jersey 07305. The annual lottery will be held soon, on January 13th at 6:00pm so be sure to get those application forms in!

If you would like a follow-up on if the school received your application form, give the school a call. Remember to give the mail man enough time for delivery. And as always, happy school hunting!

Four years ago Vanessa Morales set out on a mission to become a school guidance counselor. Ever since, her eyes have been open to how the education system has been struggling, leading her to the path where she is now; researching on ways to better the education system that exists for young ones. She notes and blogs what she has found that has been working and continues to attend college to further educate herself on what can and needs to be done.

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Jersey City Community Charter School

Looking for a school whose goal it is to ensure the cognitive development of students? A school with the drive and the staff that is dedicated to the development of themselves in order to properly educate each child in attending? Well then, it is time to talk about Jersey City Community Charter School!


At Jersey City Community Charter School they make it their business to provide an innovative learning experience for the students. They believe on promoting “self-directed, life learning skills and facilitate the students ability to make responsible decisions” as stated on their website. They are well equipped to deliver such a promise by Academic and non-academic goals that the school has in place. These goals are easily accessible in just a click away (http://jcccsonline.org/goals-objectives/). Take a good look at what these goals are and how they are each divided. If you’re one for clear and concise schedules and objectives then this page in particular should spark your interest, so give it a try!

At Jersey City Community Charter School they believe firmly in eliminating any sort of outside distraction in the school environment. Because of this, they have a very strict policy concerning toys and electronics. The Jersey City Community Charter School is very adamant about keeping any toys and electronic games out of the school environment and so they have a confiscating rule towards it. If any child brings any of these items to the school they will be confiscated and will not be returned. If this is something that concerns you, you may want to talk to administration. If not, then perhaps like many parents this will just make you happy to hear that the Jersey City Community Charter School is concentrating on keeping your child focused on the important task at hand.
What about food you ask? You guessed it, lunch and breakfast are provided by the school for the children. The lunch application forms get distributed on the first day of school to be sent home with the child and to be filled out as soon as possible. Children who are not going to be eating the school lunch are still required to submit a lunch application form just so that they are on file. Once you submit the lunch application form you will be notified as to how much, if at all, the lunch will be costing you. So be sure to keep an eye out for that form and again fill it out as soon as possible.

Lastly, if the idea of no electronic entertainment might have scared you a little bit, I’m here to tell you that what has been taken away, is up for with the different classes and activities offered by Jersey City Community Charter School. The school offers up many interesting classes such as classes with scientists, teachers, animators, artists and programmers who are passionate about what they do. In classes such as Sponge Lab where the students are introduced to technology and interactive media, or classes like OpenClass, where teachers use a learning environment to help bring social learning and interactive experiences as a learning mechanism. Best of all these classes are open to everyone and free of charge. The school also hosts events throughout the year to get everyone together such as movie nights. How great is that!

Now if anything here has sparked your interests I strongly encourage you to give the school a call and see if you can plan a tour date for yourself and even your little one. I’m sure it’ll be an easy bit of information to get a hold of, being how impressed the Jersey City Community Charter School has left me by the skills they possess in clear and concise organization. And as always, Happy School hunting Everyone!

Four years ago Vanessa Morales set out on a mission to become a school guidance counselor. Ever since, her eyes have been open to how the education system has been struggling, leading her to the path where she is now; researching on ways to better the education system that exists for young ones. She notes and blogs what she has found that has been working and continues to attend college to further educate herself on what can and needs to be done.

Related Blogs: Public Schools in Jersey City, Pre-Schools in Jersey City

Camp Riverbend Open House, Sunday Jan 22

Choosing a camp for this summer?

Come sample Camp Riverbend’s awesome summer activities this winter at our “Secret Agent Training” session.  We will have lots of fun Riverbend activities for kids and parents, run by our amazing counselors, including  spy games, undercover crafts and secret-ingredient cooking.  Take a tour of the camp site with our directors.  Free!  RSVP required to [email protected] or 908-580-CAMP.

Camp Riverbend is 30 minutes from downtown JC and Hoboken; daily summer bus service included.camp-riverbend-jan-17-open-house

How to Host a Playdate: 10 Tips

First time hosting a play date? Never fear – it’s easier than you think. Here are a few tips to help your play day go off without a hitch.

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1. Provide snacks. Choose healthy snacks like apple slices or everyone’s favorite goldfish. If you’re not sure about the dietary concerns of your guests, feel free to ask the other parents before they arrive. Send a simple text, “Does Sasha have food allergies?”

2. Put your pets away. Since we’re on the topic of allergies, some parents and even adults have allergies to animals that you may not be aware of. In addition, while your child loves your dog, the other child might have limited experiences with animals, and your dog’s excitement could terrify your guest.

3. Offer your guest a drink as soon as possible. Coffee, tea, water, or soda are good options to start with. You might even offer to have a glass of wine together. Let’s put it this way: if you’re willing t o have a glass of wine in the middle of the day, maybe she is too. It doesn’t hurt to throw it out there. (Hint: If you invite me over, I like red.)

IMG_22284. Prepare your child for the play date. If there are any special toys that your child then not want to share, have your child to put those toys away before the play day begins. Having that conversation ahead of time will help with some of the stress of sharing those coveted toys.

5.  Do not turn on the TV. The kids are there to play. Let them do that.

6. Turn on the music. To that point, sometimes too much silence is off-putting. Put some light music on in the background. Let your home be inviting.

7. Tidy up before your play date. Not during. Again, let the kids play. (Note: If you’re the guest, help clean up before you go. Even if the host says, “Oh you don’t have to do that.” You do. She’s just being nice.)

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8. Be clear about the parking or stoller situation. As we live in a very dense area, sometimes it is difficult to figure out what to do with your car or your stroller. Let your guest know where you typically park, or where you leave your stroller. If you have a parking spot in your garage, maybe you can move your car into the street before she gets there so she can park in your spot.

9. Do not hover over the kids. Spend some time getting to know your guest. Compare bedtime routines and dinner menus. Laugh a little. Friends are everything.

10. Connect. The best part of a play date is spending time with other adults. Learn more about the ways other people run their households. Try to be open and honest with other moms about what works for you and what doesn’t. Be willing to hear advice and offer yours.

Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com.

Bucket and Bay: Jen Kavlakov & Boris Kavlakov

Bucket and Bay in Jersey City

JCFamilies: Tell me about your business.

Jen: Bucket & Bay has been open a year and a half now. In the very beginning, it started out as my project.

Boris: But it’s hard to do something like this and not have the other person involved to some degree. You just share an idea and then that idea goes somewhere.

Jen: So ultimately Boris became a full-time, hands-on participant.

Boris: But I was always involved.

Jen: He’s always been our website and branding guy.

JCFamilies: What are some of the challenges?

Boris:  Running a business is a lot about prioritization and the list of things you have to do as a single proprietor is crazy, and you never get to do everything. Even the list of flavors that we want to create, we have had some ideas, like Old Fashioned Oatmeal, that have been on the docket since…

Jen: …since before we opened… and i has been “coming soon” for a while!

Bucket and Bay in Jersey CityBoris: And other things too – like we have a program where we provide our neighbors with 100% grass fed milk, fresh from the farm. We have wanted to expand that for a long time, but it wasn’t a priority. It was summer and summer is ice cream season.

Jen: My focus has always been in the kitchen and operational things that customers don’t always see but take a lot time, like organizing the team schedule.

Boris: We don’t have time to discuss everything.

JCFamilies: And you have kids too, right?

Jen: Yes, and that really adds a lot to the time pressures. We have two girls. They’re five and six, kindergarten and first grade. Mornings are whirlwinds of trying to get out of the house on time.

Boris: Morning are crazy, but very often both of us are there.

Jen: Which is extremely helpful.

Boris: We do a lot extracurricular activities, which is a luxury, because it takes time. There are not a lot of jobs that allow you to leave work and take your kids to ice-skating.

Jen: Or to a performance at the school. The last one started at 5:00. There are a lot of families where both parents cannot attend a performance at that hour.

Boris: While there are advantages to being a part of the corporate world, it’s organized and predictable, being a business owner gives us flexibility.

JCFamilies: I love the way it looks in here. It’s warm and inviting.

Boris: Thank you! We wanted our place to be warm and inviting like a Bucket and Bay in Jersey Citycoffee shop, not like a typical ice cream store.

Jen: Most ice cream shops are typical scoop shops – they feel cold – not a place where you want to hang out. And we feel that ice cream is very social in nature, we want people to relax and enjoy it.

Boris: So it feels like a coffee shop, but our core focus is still gelato!  And we do our gelato with passion and completely from scratch. Jen’s interest in ice cream started as a kid.

Jen: I grew up visiting my grandparents. My grandfather had an old wooden ice cream bucket that I’d find sitting in the middle of the garage churning away ice cream  – always vanilla

JCFamilies: What makes your ice cream special?

Boris: We start with the milk. We use the most amazing milk in the world – it’s grass fed milk – 100% grass fed. When cows eat exclusively grass, they produce less milk but it’s richer. That’s why it’s a bit more expensive too. But you can totally feel the difference in the way our gelato tastes.

Jen: And our gelato is not typically Italian, it is more modern American, made from scratch, with inspiration from all around the world. Our flavors are creative but also very elegant, they open up gradually as you eat them, often revealing multiple layers.

JCFamilies: Do you get time as a couple? Do you go on dates?

Jen: We do. But not very often.

Boris: Jen just gave me a present for my birthday. It was a handmade book of “tickets” that I can redeem for things like going out to a movie, a date night…

Jen: We do most things as a family, with the kids – which gives us time to be together and talk. But even when we’re out on dates, we still talk about the gelato and the cafe. We haven’t been able to draw that imaginary line that differentiates “this is for work” and “this is for us.”

JCFamilies: How do you decompress?

Jen: We were supposed to go sailing together. As we used to…

Boris: I teach sailing at the Manhattan Sailing Club, but we did find time to go out together on a boat in 2016.

JCFamilies: Do you watch Netflix?

Boris: We don’t binge watch the series. We watch movies.

Jen: Yeah. We recently watched that one movie – remember?

Boris: Yeah. (He doesn’t.)

Jen: I used to want to watch every single movie that was up for an award.

Boris: Yes… We used to host an Oscar’s party!

Bucket and Bay in Jersey CityJen: But now I enjoy coming to work every day.  People tell you, and it’s true – when you have your own business, it’s 24/7. We’re lucky because our business is a place where I would want to come and hang out

Boris: It does get a bit intense. Marrying someone and being in a business with someone is totally different.

Jen: Communication is key. Only we don’t have the same communication style. While we always have the same end goal in mind, the details and the strategy – which direction we’re coming from – is always very different. It helps to take a step back, and look at the whole picture. It’s something we don’t do nearly enough.

Boris: Last year we were on the beach for vacation, and we had a mini business meeting, thinking about all the different moving parts. We wrote them on a piece of cardboard that we found. We still have it. (Looks for it.)

Jen: Boris doesn’t like lists. I love lists.

Boris: (Finds it!) Tea was part of the plan. And look! It materialized!

JCFamilies: How do the kids fit in?

Boris: The kids have priority. That’s where our movie time went. From homework to extracurricular activities, all these things take time. Growing up with your parents having an ice cream shop – the kids are fully aware of it.

Jen: Sometimes they don’t like the ice cream shop.

Boris: Last year was challenging. We spent even more time at the cafe. Partly because we couldn’t afford to have as much help and we were not as organized – so we’d take turns. The kids knew when it was either mommy night or daddy night.

Jen: The kids requested more family nights. So we have that now.

Bucket and Bay in Jersey City

JCFamilies: Do you have advice for other couples in business together?

Jen: I’d definitely say: Communicate! You’ve got to have thick skin. You’ve got to let things go. Get over the small stuff.

Boris: And establish priorities. The fact that we have agreed that our kids are the top priority, helps us move smoothly through the day. Whatever happens, the kids have to get the attention they deserve.

Christine Goodman: Art House Owner and Jersey City Mom

Christine Goodman Art House Owner Jersey City

I’ve known Christine Goodman since before either of us had kids. It’s been amazing to grow into motherhood with her. Her words are always inspiring.

JCFamilies: Tell us who you are, professionally.

Christine Goodman: I am the founder and executive director of the visual and performing arts center Art House Productions. Now in its 16th year, we present plays, art exhibitions, and a quarterly citywide arts festival – JC Fridays.

Christine Goodman Art House Owner Jersey CityJCF: How did JC Fridays start?

CG: JC Fridays came about after the closing of 111 First Street, an artist enclave in Jersey City. When that building closed, a lot of our arts community felt really beaten down. Art House had a meeting with arts organizers, arts friendly businesses, and other community leaders, to see how we could move the arts forward in Jersey City.

The idea of JC Fridays came out of that meeting. Even to this day, it continues the spirit of the community coming together to support one another around the arts. There was a real need for that. I think that’s why it’s such a successful program.

JCF: How important are the arts to a community?

CG: The arts are an extremely valuable component of any healthy city, particularly in times where people feel like they don’t have a voice. The arts gives people a platform, a meeting place, a community. A vibrant arts scene makes people feel invested in the city and in the communities in which they live.

JCF: What’s a typical workday like for you?

CG: It starts at 6 am – but through no decision of my own.

JCF: Because of the kids?

CG: Yes. Should we talk about a work day, or about my family?

JCF: Both.

CG: So I have my predawn experience with my one year old. That’s how we roll into the rest of the morning. I have two kids. The day starts with them waking up pretty early. My husband and I get them to school, and then I’m at Art House. It’s a 24/7 job. As a founder, an organization like this is a third child. This is my teenager.

JCF: Why did you call it a teenager – what makes it a teenager?

CG: First because it’s 16 years old. But also because it has really has matured. It can stand on its own. It has its own identity. It’s wonderful to see that through all the growing pains, we have created an institution that means a lot to many people.

Christine Goodman Art House Owner Jersey City

JCF: How do you balance your business and your family?

CG: That’s the million-dollar question. It’s evolving. It’s a balancing act. As professional mothers, we continually walk the line of making sure that we’re there for our kids, that they have what they need, and also that we’re taking care of what the businesses needs, which can mean that you are on call at the strangest hours.

There’s no easy answer or a magic pill for running a business and being a mother of two. We have these standards of excellence as professionals and mothers that we can handle everything. The short answer is that it’s really tough. I think the short answer is in continually making sure that your children know that you’re there for them and empowering other people around your business as well.

JCF: How do you do that?

CG: For me, it means making sure that my kids feel comfortable at my business. I don’t run a 9-5. They’re comfortable at Art House. They’re comfortable in the theatre. They have space here that’s their own. They’re welcomed when they walk in the door. At the times when there needs to be a lot of juggling, they can be in the space of my business and feel like they belong.

The other thing is being realistic about my timelines, about what is humanly possible for me to accomplish. I think that the Christine before kids would work all night if she needed to. Christine after kids needs to make sure that the timelines and support systems are in place. Which has been a wonderful change for me.

JCF: Do you ever work at night?

CG: Taking a meeting at 7 pm is tough. It means that there are other people who have to sacrifice in order for that to happen. Even for me to be at the shows that I produce – I’m continually figuring out how to navigate. The natural result is that I’ve had to not hold on so tightly to the idea that I need to do it all myself at Art House. And it’s been great. There’s a beautiful leadership team here that’s really wonderful and rocking it out. It takes a village on both ends.

Christine Goodman Art House Owner Jersey CityJCF: What was it like going from one to two babies?

CG: Having my first child and the incorporation of motherhood into business ownership was overwhelming at first, and then manageable. We found our rhythm and knew that it wouldn’t last forever, but it was working.

But when the second baby came along, the juggling wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t possible. At that point, I needed to make sure that we had a theatre manager and a technical director who could be on site in the evenings and make sure that the shows went smoothly in my absence.

JCF: If you had to do it all again, what would change?

CG: Nothing. Through owning my own business, I was able to bring my kids to work with me for the first 10 months of their lives. I could pursue my love of the arts and keep the business going. It was a wonderful opportunity and for that I am extremely grateful. In an ideal world, I don’t even know how I would change it, because my kids are growing up in the theatre and I think that’s a unique experience for them too.

JCF: What is the best advice that you ever got?

CG: It wasn’t any specific thing. Having the influence of other mothers around me that were making it work, and knowing that it didn’t always have to be perfect, was amazing. Being able to see that we all mess up, and we’re all feeling our way through this – and that it’s possible to raise children who are kind, aware, intelligent human beings while still not always getting it right felt like such a relief. It shifted the focus from being supermom to being a human being and the best mom I could be. That gave me more confidence. It’s nice to know that we all drop the ball, and we all feel like we’re constantly playing catch up, and we forget the diapers, and we try to figure out a last minute dinner, and we forget the paperwork for the school, but at the end of the day, our kids are good people. And that says to me that I’m on the right track.

Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com.

How To Say, What to Say: Talking to Kids about Race

Back in September, when bombs exploded in trash cans around New York and New Jersey, I called (who else?) my sister. At the time, her city (Charlotte, NC) was reeling from the death of Keith Scott, a black man fatally shot by the Charlotte Police Department. In both of our cities, racial and ethnic differences and presumptions seemed to be on everyone’s minds.

Like moms across the country, my sister and I contemplated what (if anything) to say to our little ones about race, diversity, and the United States of America. We desperately wanted, like generations of mothers who came before us, to raise children who could be kinder and carry less prejudice than the generation before. But how?

I didn’t want to scare or create anxiety in my children by bringing up issues that they couldn’t possibly understand. But at the same time, I didn’t want them to overhear confusing discussions by perfect strangers on the Light Rail. So maybe I should just answer whatever questions they might bring up instead of saying anything preemptively? Would that work? And then I could try to answer them in a way that makes sense to them. You know, like be honest but not traumatizing.

None of this was in the manual.

So I sat down with child and family therapist, Divya Dodhia for some guidance. Long conversation short, there are no easy answers. (You’re welcome.) Most of her advice was preemptive, but not in an event-specific way. Her advice centers around the ways we talk to our kids in general – how we interact with them. Here’s some of the greatest hits:

  • These are the conversations we need to be having. It’s our job to be able to stand up to injustice, in whatever form that takes – whether it’s racism or mental health or whatever the case is.
  • Talk at their level. Use examples from their own lives. When a person is discriminated against, that means the person is being left out. They’re so young, they won’t understand racism, or xenophobia. But they do understand feeling left out. Or bullying. Start there.
  • Begin with very small with very basic concepts of humanity. Start with simple things such as empathy and making good choices. Get them to think about how the other person feels.
  • Use these conversations to encourage and explain empathy. Empathy is so important. Let’s say for example your child hears someone saying this or that about the police. It’s confusing for that child. A conversation with your child is the key to truly understand what they are thinking. Situations that create conflict are not easily resolved all the time. Tell them that not everyone will have the same experiences and that a lot of what people say is based on their own personal experiences.
  • Talk about feelings and the choices that go with them. What can you do with the experiences that you have? Let them bring up the examples. You might ask, “Can you think of a time when you felt ____? Then what happened?”
  • Help your child understand that just because one person thinks one way, not all the people think this same way.
  • Teach simple skills such as sharing and using kind words and even using your manners such as hi, hello, and goodbye. It’s a foundation of you being a human being. You can take it to the next level and talk about what it means to be nice.
  • Instill that good choices lead to good consequences. Even at a young age, they have a right make your own choices, but they also have to deal with the consequences, and those consequences might impact other people. You can do this outside of these larger conversations, and you should. Use examples like ‘If you don’t wake up and brush your teeth, how do you think the rest of the day is going to go for you?”
  • Replace “Don’t do that” or “Don’t say that,” with “How do you think this person is going to feel if you do that?”
  • Remember that behavior is a method of communication. Children have a difficult time articulating feelings, especially when they have negative feelings like guilt, fear, or embarrassment. Learning how to deal with those are the foundations. Anger is normal, but how you display it matters.
  • Give them the language. For example, you might say, “People from different parts of the world will have different foods, different cultures, and look different – that’s called diversity.”
  • Be a positive role model yourself. Model behavior that shows kindness, respect, and acceptance of others.Talk to you children about how they can have a positive impact on their schools and community.
  • Give them the voice to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Ask them questions.
  • Limit their exposure of negative social media.
  • Strengthen their core beliefs of mutual respect, and kindness.
  • Provide experiences where they are exposed to diversity, and help them feel safe, optimistic and motivated that they can make a difference, and they are part of this world.

Divya Dodhia is a child and family therapist.
Mel Kozakiewicz is an editor, writer, and educator.

 

Marc Wesson: Champion of Van Vorst Park

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey City

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Wesson several times over the course of my tenure as a journalist in Jersey City. We met in the Van Vorst Park, of course. That’s where Marc can be found on any given day.

JCFamilies: How’s it goin, Marc?

Marc Wesson: Hi there! Still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. (laughs)

JCF: How many hours do you think you’ve spent working on this park?

MW: About a thousand each year, easy.

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey CityJCF: It looks beautiful as always.

MW: Thanks. It’s a lot of work, and there are only two of us doing it.

JCF: It’s a full time job.

MW: I don’t consider it a job. But I do feel obligated to it. Having put so much of myself into it, and being a part of it from the beginning, makes it hard for me to walk away.

JCF: What would happen if you did that?

MW: If I walked away? If Jeff (Note: Jeff is Jeff Schwind. Wesson refers to him as “an integral part of the park’s success” on more than one occasion in the interview.) and I just stopped working in here, it would be a jungle in 3 weeks. It would be full of trash, everything would be over grown – it would be a free-for-all.

JCF: Do you get any time off? Or what month do you start?

MW: It’s constant. At the end of February we’re starting to prune, get everything ready for early spring.

JCF: This summer was hot as anything. Did that hurt the park?

MW: This summer was brutal just trying to keep the side lawns alive. We do have a sprinkler system for the gardens. That helped.

JCF: Was it tough financially? Who pays for this park?

MW: That’s a tough one – it’s tricky. I’ve put a lot of money in here over the years. We’re also a nonprofit, the FVVP. That helps us raise funds. The farmers market generates income; we have neighbors who contribute. The spray-ground was part of a state and county grant.

JCF: Was that a lot of work?

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey CityMW: I’d say yes, it took five years of paperwork, and three months to build. I got permission from the city, and then I designed it with help from the city’s architecture dept. The challenge is to let a private citizen do work in a public park. The city had to issue a license agreement, with the approval of the city council, and then I handed it over as a gift to the city when construction was completed. The dog run was another major effort.

JCF: Tell me about that.

MW: Well, after the park was renovated in 1999, dogs off-leash tore the new lawns apart. So the solution was to build a dog run, which I designed, helped raise funds for, and tried to make clear how important it is that dogs stay on leashes. Because once a dog urinates on a lawn, it’s gone for the season.

JCF: You know so much – how did you learn?

MW: Although I’ve had an interest since childhood, I had never done any professional gardening, so I took a master gardeners course just to get some formal training. It took 9 months. It was helpful to make sure we’re doing things right. We have to be careful about liability issues, to make sure it’s all safe. We obviously don’t want to poison a kid or a dog…

JCF: Overall, what’s it been like devoting yourself to this beautiful piece of land?

MW: Incredibly rewarding. People really do care about what we are trying to do in the park. And they surprise me! It’s the little things, like a couple of times, people I didn’t even know anonymously picked up my bill in a restaurant to thank me. It was really nice.

And I love to garden, to create something from something that wasn’t there. I get to see all the kids in here playing. They follow Jeff and I around, they want to help. We have weddings here now, and birthday parties. I’d put this park up against Gramercy Park in the city any day because of the variety of plants we have, and this is a public space.

JCF: Any advice to people around the city who want to create a space like this?

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey City

MW: We feel that the only way a park can be successful is if the community is involved in it. If the community is involved, they will help care for it.

Mel Kozakiewicz is a writer, editor, and educator. She has been living in Jersey City since 2003.