Having Fun with Your Kids During the Holidays by Heather Lang-Heaven

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a challenging moment for parents, providers, and the children in their care. It is very easy to become consumed with endless activities, extra tasks at home, and mismanaged schedules.

However, it is a season filled with teachable moments and important values. Reflect on what you want your children, or the children in your care, to learn. Talk with them about the good things adults feel during this time of year. As a parent or provider, are you excited about spending time together as a family? Do you feel joyful about delicious cooking, or giving a simple gift to tell a person they are special?

As a way to model care and generosity for children, try the following:
• Be aware of over-planning and resist the urge to completely book the calendar. Children need unstructured playtime to process and relax.
• Stick with regular routines as much as possible. Children thrive when they know what to expect and this is especially important when they sense adults rushing around them with additional plans.
• Keep regular bedtimes too! Just as adults are tired from the busy season, certainly the children are. Infants need 14-17 hours of sleep per day, toddlers need 10-14 hours, preschoolers need 11-13 hours, and school-age children need 9-11 hours.
• Be flexible and creative if their behavior becomes a little challenging. Children are probably feeling the stress and excitement of the holidays too. Allow extra outdoor time to get out those wiggles. Playing alongside with them will help burn off adult anxiety too!
• Talk with children and remind them they are loved and special. They are a big reason why holiday traditions are fun. It’s important to honor and celebrate them!
• If your family is in a position to do so, brainstorm with children how they can help give back to the community and donate to families in need. These are some local Bay Area resources to help get you started:
o https://www.accfb.org/helping-alameda-county-neighbors-holiday-season/
o https://www.foodpantries.org/ci/ca-alameda
o https://www.handsonbayarea.org/opportunity/a0a0e00000E03icAAB

From all of us at BANANAS, we wish you a joyous holiday season filled with love, laughter, good food, and the time to make long-lasting memories.


Labor Day Family Fun

Labor Day marks the end of summer, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of fun! While many children are already back in school, this three-day weekend gives us one last chance to celebrate before school really kicks into gear. We have some fun family ideas that you can do with your child that will make this long weekend a memorable one.

Thank a worker– Labor Day celebrates the economic and social legacy of hard-working people, so why not take this opportunity to thank a few people who make your life a little easier? Bust out the glitter glue and make thank you cards for the mailman, a firefighter, or a librarian. Try out some cute and easy thank you card ideas. Foster a child’s creativity and fine motor skills with an activity that you will enjoy together.

Scoop it up– Spend quality time with your child by learning how to make your favorite ice cream at home. Check out these mouthwatering recipes! Did you know that you can help little learners practice some basic math concepts when you cook together? Help your child hone basic math skills, such as counting, sorting, and measuring. While pouring milk or cream into a measuring cup, point out fractions and say, “Let’s fill half of the cup with cream and half of the cup with milk.” Ask your child to cut the ice cream into halves and count bites with them.

Play pretend– Let children, and their friends, dress up as a nurse, a bus driver, or as someone they want to be when they grow up. Similarly, put on a backyard show and get children in the Labor Day spirit. It is no secret that pretend play is an essential part of a child’s development. Encouraging children to role play supports their social-emotional development and enhances creativity. Let their imaginations run wild with this fun activity.

Talk and read– Talk to them about all the different jobs that people do. Help them understand how everyone in the community has an important job. Check out the list of community helper books for your preschooler. Ask your child questions like, “What do you think a construction worker does” or “What is the job of a lifeguard?” By reading to children and talking about what you’ve read, you’re introducing new words that increase vocabulary and promote literacy. Furthermore, you are helping children get academically ready for school by talking and reading to them every day.

Play, learn, and grow together– As a parent, and a caregiver, you are the biggest supporter of your child’s learning. Make time for play to promote their physical, social-emotional, language, and thinking skills. Explore lots of fun arts and crafts ideas on our Pinterest board, such as handprint strawberry craft, condensed milk painting, bathtub crayons, and more that support the philosophy that children learn best through play.

These family fun activities allow you to talk, read, and play with children. And, it is never too early to start providing experiences that will help your child enter school ready to succeed. We hope you have an amazing weekend. Don’t forget to make a little time to kick back and relax. You deserve it!




Become a Member of The California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry!

What is CA ECE Workforce Registry?

The California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry is an efficient, web-based system designed to verify and securely store and track the employment, training, and education accomplishments of early childhood care and education (ECE) teachers and providers. Participation in the California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry provides you and your staff the opportunity to be part of this statewide data system for all early care and education professionals.

Click here to learn more about the California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry.

What are the benefits to being a member of the Registry?

As a participant in the Registry, participants will be able to:

  • Build a professional profile that can be securely accessed and updated anytime.
  • Electronically store education, training, and employment and professional growth accomplishments.
  • Search and sign up for training workshops and professional development opportunities which are automatically stored on your Registry profile.
  • Create a resume and share professional qualifications.
  • Search for jobs using the Registry Job Board.
  • Be recognized as an Early Care and Education professional.

How to Create a Profile on the CA ECE Workforce Registry?

Creating a profile is easy. Click here for a step by step guide on creating your profile. Visit www.caregistry.org to create your account today!

Take Action for Children!

Right now there are three pieces of legislation that have the power to positively impact the lives of children, families, and child care professionals. BANANAS is part of the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, a system of nonprofit agencies that serves every region in the state with important child care and parenting resources. As part of this network, we encourage you to take action today by sending three letters of support to government officials who can make sure that California’s Education Code is up to date (SB 1154), that low-income families have access to a year of child care (AB 2150), and that parents are informed about background checks and safety measures when hiring a caregiver (AB 2036).

Below you will find details of each bill and information on how to take action today.

SB 1154 – The Patricia Siegel Child Care Resource and Referral Memorial Act of 2016 This update will preserve quality consumer education and provider support in California and at the same time will identify components of the recently reauthorized federal CCDBG Act where the state already complies.

To learn more, click this Fact Sheet and then send your letter of support using this Sample Letter.

AB 2150 – The Child Care Continuity Act: 12 Month Eligibility That Supports Families AB 2150 is an extraordinary opportunity to remove unjust and unjustified, red-tape reporting rules that cause eligible families to churn in and out of child care programs; put their jobs at risk; disrupt children’s school readiness and development; force them to turn down job promotions, make it impossible for child care providers to balance ledgers or plan for quality investments while accepting subsidized children; and burden employers and education providers who are required to sign off on endless paperwork.

If you would like to send a letter of support, view this Sample Letter.

AB 2036 – Online Care Job Postings: Consumer Education This bill would require online companies that advertise child care services provided by license-exempt child care providers (ex. babysitters and nannies) to post a statement about the California Trustline registry and, if the service provides access to a background check, a written description of the background check provided to it by the background check service provider.

Here is a Sample Letter as well as a Fact Sheet if you would like to learn more.

Thank you for your support!

BANANA Bites: Tips for Teen Babysitters

Welcome to another edition of BANANA Bites where we answer your parenting and early learning questions every week! Here at BANANAS, we are excited when teenagers express interest in learning more about caring for little ones. Today we’re sharing some key tips for teens who are looking to achieve “babysitting greatness.”

Dear BANANA Bites,

I am a child care provider and also a parent. My 14-year-old son is considering becoming a babysitter for some friends of ours who have a toddler. Can you give him some ideas on how to prepare for this all-important job?

-Caregiver and Supportive Parent

Dear CaSP,

We love this question! It’s great that your son wants to get into babysitting and we have a whole “bunch” of information to pass along. Here are our Top Ten Teen Babysitting Tips:

1. Write down all important phone numbers, including cell phones for parents, guardians, and nearby family members. Also be sure that you have all emergency numbers (poison control, 911, etc.) as well as numbers for trusted neighbors who will be home while the parents are away. It is also important that you have the address and phone number (if they have a landline) of the house where you will be babysitting; make sure your family has this information as well.

2. Follow the parents’ directions about discipline. You may have certain ideas about how children should be handled but you should follow (to the best of your ability) the rules laid down by the parents. Never discipline children by hitting, spanking, threatening, and humiliating. Set clear limits, and stick to them.

3. Refrain from agreeing to do extra chores in addition to child care such as laundry, vacuuming, etc., unless you think you will have time and you really want to. Remember that these chores come second to taking care of the children. However, you still want to be sure to clean up after yourself and the children in your care.

4. Be prepared to tell parents how eating, playing, and bedtime went. Parents want information on how their children behaved in their absence; they’ll appreciate your input.

5. Keep personal calls, texts, and general cell phone use to a minimum; children can get into trouble when you are occupied on the phone.

6. Be on time! If you are unable to show up because of sickness or another circumstance, notify the parents as soon as possible. If you know another responsible sitter who will be willing to take your place, the parents may welcome this information.

7. Be clear about your rates and your transportation. Set the rate with the parent before you begin caring for a child. If you charge more or less after a certain time or for more than one child, be sure parents know ahead of time. Also make sure that you have figured out how you will get to and from the house where you’ll be babysitting.

8. Do not invite any visitors over unless you’ve been given permission to do so. If you have permission, never delegate your responsibility to that person. And, as always, don’t let any strangers into the house! 

9. Don’t take children out of the house unless you have discussed it with the parents beforehand. If you do have permission, be sure to return at the time you said you would and be sure the parents can contact you via your cell phone or the number where you’ll be while you’re away from the house.

10. Set a good example for the children by the use of appropriate language and behavior. You are an important role model for the children you care for and children learn many things, good and bad, by example.


For more in-depth discussion of topics such as diapering, playing, feeding, naps and bedtime, whether you should answer the parents’ landline (if they have one), rules about using the TV or computer, safety and first aid (super important!), saying good-bye, tantrums, and more, see our handout: Guide for Teen Babysitters.

And, this summer we’ll be holding a special Teen CPR & First Aid Training on June 18 from 10am-4pm. Click on the link for details. If you have a question for the Bunch, send an email to elyce@bananasbunch.org.

BANANA Bites: Fire Safety

Whether you are a parent or a child care provider, when you are taking care of little ones, it is absolutely, 100 percent important to know and teach fire safety. So today we’re very happy to be sharing top tips for staying safe and practicing emergency procedures with kids. Please pass on the info!

Dear BANANA Bites,

I want to talk to my kids about fire safety and I’m wondering if you can give me some clear, simple tips. I want to make sure my youngest child (she’s three) understands what to do. Thanks!

-Safety First Dad

Dear SFD,

What an important question! We appreciate you bringing it up so we can address it for all the families we serve. There are a number of important steps you can take to protect young children from a fire, and there are a few very key lessons you can ensure they know.

1. Teach everyone in your household the California fire and medical emergency number: 911. This way they will always have a go-to resource for calling in additional help services.

2. Create an emergency plan and hold routine drills to practice at least two ways that family members can escape in the event of a fire.

3. Designate an outside location to meet so everyone will know exactly where to find one another. And, repeat the importance that ONCE OUT, everyone should STAY OUT.

4. In the possible instance that a member of the family does come into contact with fire, and clothing becomes ignited, the absolute most important thing to know is to STOP, DROP, and ROLL.

5. Make a point to review ideas for detailed fire safety in BANANAS’ Stop, Drop, and Roll Handout, which includes additional information on installing smoke alarms, keeping doors closed at night, steps for creating a practice family fire drill, tips for talking to 911 operators in the event of an emergency, and more.

For more info on fire safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website.

– BANANA Bites

If you have a question about parenting, early education, becoming a licensed provider, or running a child care, send an email to elyce@bananasinc.org! Remember, don’t go BANANAS, just call the Bunch!

BANANA Bites: Help! My Child Has Lice!

We’re back with a new edition of our parenting and early learning column, where we answer YOUR questions! Today’s topic: the dreaded discovery of head lice. Answers below!

Dear BANANA Bites,

I recently discovered that my child’s day care has had an outbreak of lice and it looks like our son, who is 5, now has nits in his hair. I want to make sure we do everything possible to get rid of these pests. What is the best course of action?

– Really Bugged Dad

Dear RBD,

Great question! It can be truly upsetting to discover the signs of lice in our loved ones, but rest assured there are ways to wipe the bugs out.

Step One: There are two types of lice treatments currently on the market: nonprescription (RID, Triple X, Nix and A 200 Pyrinate) and prescription. Discuss their advantages and disadvantages with your pharmacist or physician. Most treatments will require a repeat application seven to ten days after the first application. Read and follow the directions carefully, especially when treating infants, pregnant or nursing women, or people with extensive scratches on their heads or necks. Use of mayonnaise, vaseline or kerosene is not recommended.

Step Two: After using the shampoo, cream, or lotion, the dead nits must be removed from the hair – a truly tedious job that will extend over several days. One effective method is using a metal nit comb available at pharmacies.

Step Three: After treating the people, you should treat the environment. Launder clothing, head gear and bed linens in hot water and dry in a dryer. Non-washable items can be placed in airtight plastic bags and stored for two weeks, which should kill any eggs. Consider how the infestation might be spread – a toy corner with dress-up hats and veils or a favorite storytime rug that everyone likes to lie on. See that these items are either vacuumed well or thrown in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. A treated child may return to school or child care within 24 hours if the nits have been removed. You will need to routinely reinspect the child’s head to make sure s/he has not been reinfested. A good schedule for inspecting your child’s head is to do it on Fridays after school or child care so you can treat the child on the weekend or do it on Monday morning before school or child care so you can keep your child home that day if lice are present.

– BANANA Bites

For more information on this pesky problem, check out our BANANAS handout: Head Lice and visit www.HeadLice.org. If YOU have a question about parenting, running a child care, or early education, please send it to elyce@bananasinc.org.

BANANA Bites: How Can I Protect My Kids from Measles?

Welcome back to this week’s edition of BANANA Bites, where we answer YOUR questions about parenting and early childhood education. Today we’re addressing the very important subject of measles and how to prevent it from spreading to children. This is a must-read for parents and child care providers!

Dear BANANA Bites, 

I run a family child care here in Oakland and I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to keep the kids in my program safe from the spread of measles. What are the best ways to do this and where can I find more information about this topic? Thanks in advance. 

– Provider Who Wants Measles Prevention


We absolutely agree about the importance of measles prevention and are so happy to address this topic. According to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF), childhood diseases like measles can cause children pain and discomfort. These diseases can lead to doctor visits, hospitalization, and even death. The ACF recognizes immunizations as the best way to protect young children from 14 serious diseases, including measles. A recent announcement in conjunction with the California Department of Education, Early Education Support Division, notes, “Measles can be dangerous—especially for babies and young children. Measles spreads very easily, so it is important to protect against infection. To prevent measles, eligible children should be vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The measles vaccine has been used for years, and it is safe and effective. The ACF’s Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care consider it critical that children in programs are vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) immunization recommendations.”

Recommendations from the CDC can be accessed here. This document includes guidance for child care programs to follow state and local immunization requirements and also discusses what to do if a case of measles occurs in your program.

One of the most important contributions child care programs can make is to reach out to parents. The CDC has also provided sample materials and articles to share with parents in newsletters, web pages, or other publications.

·       Immunization Protects Us All 

·       Five Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child 

·       Easy-to-read vaccination schedules in English and Spanish

Please share this information with friends and family members to help ensure all children are kept safe and healthy!


If you have a question for the Bunch, please email elyce@bananasinc.org.

BANANA Bites: How Do I Get My Kids to Clean Their Rooms?

Welcome to our inaugural edition of BANANA Bites! Each week we’ll feature a client question and an answer from a member of the BANANAS Bunch. This week we’ve got a question from a parent dealing with her child’s messy room. Whether you’re a child care provider or a parent yourself, you have no doubt dealt with this issue. Luckily, we’ve got some great strategies to help young ones keep things tidy.

Dear BANANA Bites,

My four-year-old daughter loves to create elaborate adventures for her stuffed animals, which often (or more like always) results in an enormous mess from one end of her bedroom to the other. Clothes, blankets, toys, books—you name it, it’s strewn all over the floor. I love that she plays with such enthusiasm and I want to encourage her creativity, but getting her to clean up afterward is nearly impossible. Even offering prizes (gold fish or peanut butter crackers) doesn’t do the trick. Do you have any tips for a mom who just wants the clean-up routine to be a breeze and not a battle?

– Mom with a Mess

Dear MWaM,

You are not alone! This is a common struggle for anyone who cares for young children. Here are five ideas that you can try.

  1. Always give a five-minute “warning” that a clean-up time is coming. Setting a timer works well with some children.
  2. Break down cleaning a room by tasks: “First pick up the toys on your bed, then the ones on the floor, then put the books back on the shelf…”
  3. Set the time for clean-up just before some favorite activity (i.e., a TV show or trip to the playground).
  4. Set a deadline. Allow your child’s room to be messy, but make clear that is needs to be cleaned by a certain time. Some older kids enjoy the freedom they get from being able to “choose” when to do the clean-up.
  5. Don’t expect a child’s clean-up job to be perfect and don’t forget to give lots of praise for a job reasonably well done.

– BANANA Bites

For more information on this subject, check out our BANANAS handout: The Uphill Struggle – Getting Young Children to Clean Up Their Rooms.

Parents and Child Care Providers, if you have other tips that work well for you, please leave a comment! If you have a child care question, we’d love to hear from you. You could be the next featured question on BANANA Bites. Please email elyce@bananasinc.org. And remember, don’t go bananas, just ask the Bunch!


Celebrating Black History Month

In January we honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which offered us all a chance to reflect on his legacy of peace. Perhaps you read a special story with your kids or spoke to them about the importance of love. This February as we observe Black History Month, we have another opportunity to teach young children not only the significance of being peaceful, but also the value of celebrating diversity in all its forms. Whether it’s the way we look, the way we talk, the way we move, or the way we act, the characteristics that make us different are the same ones that make us unique. One simple activity to help inspire kids to think about diversity is to ask them what they love about themselves and what they love about others. When we encourage little ones to celebrate individuality, it reinforces the message that being different is ok, that it’s a beautiful part of being human.

If you need a hand coming up with great inspiration for incorporating Black History Month into circle time, free play, or at-home fun, check out the resources in our Celebrating Black History Pinterest board. There are books, crafts, and activities to get the conversation started and help kids think about the importance of peace, diversity, and acceptance. BANANAS also has two very exciting family events this month: African Folktales and Flavors of Jamaica. Come and join us for these free celebrations!