5 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in the Polaris Columbus Area

Enjoying a nice breakfast, lunch, or dinner when going out to eat with your family should be an opportunity for everyone to relax. But going out to restaurants with young kids can often turn into a stressful balancing act. Dealing with everything from screaming and crying to picky eaters who can’t find anything on the menu, dining out with kids can end up being more demanding than relaxing. That’s why finding kid-friendly restaurants is so important for parents and families. Finding restaurants that welcome kids can help lessen worries about the experience you may face while dining out.

Here are a few kid-friendly restaurants in the Polaris Columbus area:

  1. Sweet Carrot: Located on the east side of I-71 on Polaris Parkway, this recently opened fresh casual restaurant serves “made-from-scratch comfort foods.” It features a great kids menu with plenty of kid favorites such as grilled cheese and mac ‘n’ cheese.
  2. Carfagna’s Kitchen: Located just a few minutes from Polaris Fashion Place, on the east side of I-71, Carfagna’s Restaurant is a family-owned and operated establishment since 1937. Carfagna’s serves homemade Italian dishes at a great value and includes a children’s menu with a variety of kid’s favorites.
  3. Sunny Street Café: Offering creative prehistoric-themed menu options for the kiddos, such as “Dinosaur Pancakes,” “Pterodactyl Eggs,” and “Jurassic Grilled Cheese,” Sunny Street Café is the ideal place for families to go for breakfast or lunch in the Polaris Columbus area.
  4. Scramblers: With nine locations in the Columbus Area, Scramblers is another great brunch spot offering fun kids dishes such as “Smiley Face Pancakes.” Scramblers also hosts evening events, such as bridal and baby showers, family gatherings, and holiday parties, for groups of 25-200.
  5. 101 Beer Kitchen: With much more than adult beverages and three locations in the Columbus area, 101 Beer Kitchen offers food, drinks, and brunch menus for kids and adults. The kid’s menus include a main dish, two sides, a drink, and a special sweet treat all for $6.00.

At Prep Academy Schools, we encourage families to seize opportunities to spend time with one another in different settings. We believe that going out to restaurants is a great way for families to open channels of communication with their children. Dining out at kid-friendly restaurants in the Polaris Columbus Area is also a great opportunity to teach children valuable life skills such as creating good first impressions, being polite and using good manners.

6 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Polaris and Columbus, Ohio

Weekdays can get crazy for families with busy schedules. From school and work to sports and dance practice, not to mention homework, sometimes it seems like the week will never end.  But when the weekend finally rolls around, you may find yourself with a little free time to get out for some much-needed family fun. The Columbus metropolitan area is a great place for families looking for something fun to do on the weekend.

Families living in the Polaris and Columbus areas of Ohio don’t have to look very far for some weekend activities.

Below is a list of kid-friendly places in Polaris and Columbus, Ohio:

Fun in the Jungle, 345 McGill Street, Sunbury, Ohio: This indoor family entertainment venue offers a large jungle-themed play area, arcade featuring over 1,000 games, mini bowling, virtual reality, birthday parties with private rooms available, and food.

Glow Putt Mini Golf, 161 Granville St, Gahanna, Ohio: Featuring a safari themed 18-hole miniature golf course, this glow-in-the-dark venue is perfect for both children and adults. The prehistoric dinosaur theme makes it a cool place for birthdays or weekend outings with friends and family.

The Jungle Gym, 755 US 23 N Delaware, Ohio: Offering gymnastics classes, parkour, open gyms, rock climbing, and parties, The Jungle Gym is the perfect spot for kids with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. The Jungle Gym also features options for kayaking, slacklining, indo boarding and more.

Recreations Outlet, 484 W Olentangy St, Powell, Ohio: With basketball hoops, trampolines, playsets, and spas, Recreations Outlet is considered “Ohio’s Playground Headquarters” with a little bit of something for everyone. Although this is a showroom for their products, Recreations Outlet lets everyone test their products before investing in them, offering pay-to-play options, play passes, and birthday parties.

Magic Mountain Fun Center, 8350 Lyra Dr, Columbus, Ohio: This action-packed venue features attractions including Go-Karts, Miniature Golf, Laser Tag, Bumper Boats, KidsGym Climbing Playground and Video Arcade. Offering both indoor and outdoor attractions, Magic Mountain Fun Center is the ideal place for family fun any time of the year, rain or shine.

Peapod Play Café, 4874 Thompson Rd, Columbus, Ohio: This chic café, featuring life-size playsets and obstacle courses, is perfect for families with little ones. Offering a clean and comfortable environment serving coffee for adults, this is a great spot for play dates and to meet other parents in the community.

Striking the right balance

At Prep Academy Schools, we understand that learning and play go hand in hand with children. Play activities and opportunities for family bonding enhance school learning and help kids build confidence. We strive to achieve a healthy balance of work and play for our students. Children who attend Prep Academy Schools are challenged academically with our exclusive Accelerated Curriculum designed by Early Childhood Development Specialists with the Accelerated Student in mind. We balance this challenging curriculum with fun activities and a creative learning environment.

We encourage our families to continue this creativity after school and on the weekends by exploring the fun options that the Polaris and Columbus communities have to offer. At Prep Academy Schools, we believe that a healthy balance of work and play leads to healthier children and adults!

Have Fun While Painting with Your Preschooler

If you’re tired of the dried up paintbrushes with the crusty, frayed bristles – ditch them! It’s time to get creative and have some real fun while painting with your preschooler this time. Here are several ideas that will help you get started on bringing the fun back to painting with your preschooler:

Flower Painting

  1. Flowers are nature’s alternative to paintbrushes! Go outside with your child and pick some wildflowers or have her pick a few from an old bouquet that you no longer want on display.
  2. Once you have your flowers cut and ready, show her how to press them into the paint and then onto the paper plate or cardstock.
  3. Explain to your child how the flower’s petals act similarly to a brush’s bristles.

Leaf Painting

  1. Go outside with your child and have him pick out leaves of different shapes and sizes. Make sure that they are still fresh and green and not dried out. Crunchy leaves will be too stiff to lay in the paint and will just end up falling apart and messing up your paint.
  2. Pour different color paints onto a large cookie sheet and then smear them around. Your child can use his fingers or a spatula to reduce the messiness.
  3. Lay the leaves flat onto the paint and have your child press them down so that the entire leaf, including all of the crevices, gets covered in the paint.
  4. Peel the leaf off the paint carefully and give it to your child to press down onto a clean sheet of paper. Make sure he presses it down firmly so that as much paint as possible is transferred from the leaf onto the paper.

Straw Painting

  1. Have your child dip the end of a paper straw into a paint color of her choice.
  2. Show your child how to blow into the straw from the clean end and watch as the streaks and spatters begin to form on the paper below.
  3. Repeat the process with different colors and have her get creative with different designs as well.

Bubble Wrap Painting

  1. Use double-sided tape to attach bubble wrap to a rolling pin so that it’s covered all the way around.
  2. Have your child dip a sponge in paint and use the paint covered sponge to coat the bubble wrap rolling pin in the paint.
  3. Let your child roll their rolling pin across a large sheet of paper to create a textured masterpiece.
  4. You can repeat the process with other textured materials such as the mesh bag that oranges come in or even rubber bands.

At Prep Academy Schools, we believe in creativity and letting children express themselves by letting their imaginations come to life! Although we have our students participate in many fun activities right here in our classrooms, it’s important to let their creativity flow at home as well. We encourage parents to continue growing the gallery of artwork on the refrigerator and most importantly to have fun with their preschooler through activities like these!

Teaching Your Preschoolers the Value of Money

One of the most important life skills that anyone can acquire (even as a child) is the ability to manage money. At a very early age, attitudes and habits towards money begin to form. This is why it’s such a good idea to make sure that your preschoolers develop positive financial habits as early as possible. Teaching your preschoolers the value of money can be easier than you think. Here are some helpful tips that you can use to teach your child about the purpose and value of money.

Counting Coins

Once your preschoolers know how to count, you can start to explain to them the value of each coin and its relationship to other coins. For example, you can teach them that five pennies are worth the same amount as one nickel, and two nickels are worth the same amount as one dime. This will help them understand that all coins are valuable, but some coins are worth more than others.

A piggybank is another great way to help your preschoolers understand the value of coins. Teach them how to save coins in their piggybank and have them pick a time to empty it out and count the coins inside. Your children will enjoy sorting the different coins into separate piles and adding up the value of each pile.

Money as a Currency

Preschoolers can learn that money is a way of exchanging things. You can demonstrate this by giving your child a small amount of money (a dollar or two) and then asking them to select a piece of candy or fruit from the store. Explain to them that the money you gave them can be exchanged for the item they selected. This will help them understand how valuable money is in day to day life.

Young children can also learn that money is a currency through playing “store” and using play money. You can encourage this game by setting up a small “store” in your house and allowing “customers” (you can use stuffed animals or dolls for this) to purchase items using the play money. Having them set prices on different items can teach them that certain things are more valuable and therefore cost more money. This will help them understand that different amounts of money are used in acquiring different things.

Couponing

Teaching your preschoolers that couponing is a practical way to save a little extra money on an item is another good way to help your children understand the value of money. You can use coupons as learning tools for your children by allowing them to look through a coupon book with you and having them pick out which coupons they think would be the most useful for your family. Cut out these coupons and put them in an envelope.

The next time you take a trip to the store, put your preschoolers in charge of carrying the coupon envelope. Ask them to help you locate the items on the coupons. This is a valuable learning experience for your children on the importance of finding discounts and choosing the best deals.

Saving Money

One of the most important financial habits for children to learn is how and why to save money. A great way to teach this is by making a savings account for your preschoolers. Young children will get excited about this because it makes them feel like adults by having their own bank account. It is also a great way to teach them financial responsibility. If your children receive an allowance, encourage them to deposit a percentage of it into their savings account so they can watch the money grow over the years.

 

At Prep Academy Schools, one of our main focuses is on mathematics. Beginning in our Pre-K program, students learn basic number concepts by manipulating and counting real objects. We also work to instill life-long values of honesty, integrity, and responsibility, which are all great qualities to have when learning the value of and managing money.

6 Fun Ways to do Chores With Your Family

Teaching your children to do chores at a young age not only helps to lighten your load, but also helps teach them how to be responsible and self-reliant. When kids help their family around the house, they gain skills in management, prioritizing tasks, and basic organization that will last a lifetime.

Chores don’t have to be a bore though!  There are so many creative ways to have fun while doing chores. Here are some great ideas to get your family excited about the great game of cleaning.

  1. Provide incentives.

Tell your child that she can enjoy rewards from dusting all of the shelves (at child’s reach) in your house. A creative way to do this is by hiding treats, stickers, or pennies in, on, or under knickknacks or books.

  1. Make a list.

This is a great way to have your kids compete to see who can do the most chores. Hang a list of chores in the kitchen and give a different set of stickers to each child. Every time a child completes a chore, have him mark the list with one of his stickers. At the end of the week, you can see who did the most chores by the amount of stickers they have on the list. Give them a small reward, such as a few candies or a small toy, for being the Helper of the Week.

  1. Play “Go Fish.”

Use a basket of clean laundry to play go fish. Separate the socks among the players, leaving a pile to draw from. Each player, in turn, will hold up a sock and ask another player if she has the matching sock. If the answer is no, then the asking player has to take a sock from the draw pile. When all the socks are matched, the player with the most pairs wins!

  1. Get creative.

Use any leftover, unmatched socks as dust mitts for your child. Place your child’s hand inside the clean sock and teach them how to use it as a superhero puppet that gets stronger powers by eating more dust.

  1. Have a scavenger hunt.

Make a list of everyday items that never get put back – such as shoes, magazines, cups, and toys. Set a timer for five minutes and have your kids go around the house collecting these items and putting them back where they belong. Whoever picks up the most items and returns them to their rightful spots is the winner.

  1. Make a cleaning caddy.

You can turn any old bucket into a personalized cleaning caddy for your child. Grab a permanent marker and write each child’s name on the bucket, then ask them to decorate it with stickers or other drawings. You can put cleaning supplies such as sponges, dust rags, and paper towels inside. This is a great way to make each child feel special during chore time.

At the end of the day though, chores are much more than just fun and games. At Prep Academy, we believe that chores are a great way to help children reach their full potential. We encourage each family to play an active role in helping motivate their child to take on responsibilities around the house. By playing the great game of chores with your whole family, you are also helping develop one of our core values – teamwork. When children and parents work together on something, both will benefit from collaboration. Parents can always use the extra help, and children learn invaluable skills that will benefit them for a lifetime!

 

Sleepy Time: How to Help Your Child Cope with Nightmares

We’ve all experienced the occasional nightmare at some point in our lives, leaving us with that all too familiar feeling of being shaky, startled, and even sweating. While many adults can calm down rather quickly and go back to sleep, young children are often too frightened to fall back asleep. Sometimes it’s so extreme that they might not want to go to bed the next night, fearing that the nightmare will return.

If your child is having nightmares, there are many ways you can help them cope. Here are just a few:

Offer Reassurance

When your child comes to you in the middle of the night after a nightmare, the first thing you should do is comfort them. Hold your child and assure them that everything is alright. Explain to them that it was just a bad dream, and it’s over now.

Facing the Fear

Listen to your child as they tell you about their nightmare. Oftentimes, stressful or frightening events during the day are reflected in the details of the nightmare during the night.

For example, if your child was scared by a scene in a movie watched earlier in the day, they might have a nightmare related to this scene. Once your child realizes that their nightmare was because of a frightening scene, remind them that the scary scene in the movie they saw had a happy ending. Then help them to re-write a different, happier ending. For example, if their nightmare involves someone chasing them, help them rewrite it to envision the person chasing them is their best friend. Now they are just playing a game of tag!

If the nightmare involves a monster hiding under their bed or in their closet, turn on the lights. Show your child that there are no monsters anywhere in their room. Let your child search with you until they feel safe and confident that there is nothing hiding in their room.

Help Your Child Feel Safe the Following Night

The idea of going to bed the night after having a nightmare can be terrifying for a child. Here are a few simple tips you can follow to help your child feel more comfortable the following night:

  • Eliminate anything frightening in your child’s room: If there is something that is scaring your child, try to move the object or take it out of the room completely. For example, if a trophy or doll on the dresser is causing a large shadow to appear on the wall, remove it from the room.
  • Keep a light or nightlight on: A small nightlight can make a huge difference! If your child is scared of the dark, consider purchasing a small nightlight for their room. Many stores carry cute, child-friendly nightlights that are shaped like flowers or animals.
  • Give your child a security object: Stuffed animals or a special blanket can be great comfort tools for your child. Having a stuffed animal that your child can keep in bed with him will help him to feel more relaxed throughout the night.

At Prep Academy Schools, we know the importance of creating a safe and secure environment for children in the classroom as well. We are dedicated to the emotional growth and well-being of each one of our young students. If we notice that one of our students is having nightmares during naptime, we will notify parents quickly and work together to help them cope properly. Working together both at home and in the classroom, we can help children conquer their fears and sleep more restfully.

More in the Sleepy Time Series: Getting a Full Night’s Sleep and The Importance of Napping

Sleepy Time: Why Napping is Key for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We don’t often think about how sleep affects us, but we should. Sleep is just as important for our health as nutrition and exercise. It is even more important for toddlers and preschoolers, whose bodies and minds are developing so fast. Many people know that sleep is an essential part of this growth process, however, one key component of sleep is often overlooked – napping. Here are some reasons why napping is so important for toddlers and preschoolers:

Helps Children Learn and Remember

Just like sleeping at night, napping plays a huge role in cognitive development for toddlers and preschoolers. A recent research study has found that toddlers who took long naps right after receiving new information demonstrated higher levels of learning and memory 24 hours after being taught. Another study showed that preschoolers who took an hour long nap remembered 10 percent more of what they had learned than their peers who were kept awake.

Assists in Physical Growth

Toddlers and preschoolers are constantly going through growth spurts! Because much of this growth occurs while they’re sleeping, it’s important that they get the extra sleep that naptimes allow. Depriving them of naptime could impact their physical growth just as much as their mental growth.

Reduces Cranky Behavior

Toddlers and preschoolers who skip naps are more likely to experience fatigue-induced crankiness. Studies have found that children who didn’t get any daytime rest showed more signs of anxiety and heightened negative emotions, while their positive emotions were dulled.

Creates a Better Nighttime Sleeper

This might seem counterintuitive since napping during the day for adults can mean a hard time getting to sleep at night. However, the opposite is true for children. A lack of daytime rest for toddlers and preschoolers could cause them to be overtired and irritable, making them more difficult to put down at night.

At Prep Academy Schools, we recognize the importance of napping and integrate naptime into each of our programs. Infants run on their own schedule and can nap for as long as they want.  From the age of one until beginning preschool, toddlers are given a two-hour napping period.  Preschoolers receive an hour and a half long nap, while 4 and 5-year-olds receive a one-hour napping period. Together with parents, we can reinforce healthy sleep habits that develop happier, healthier kids!

More in the Sleepy Time Series: Getting a Full Night’s Sleep and Dealing with Nightmares

Sleepy Time: Why Your Child Should Be Getting a Full Night of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for everyone, especially children. Numerous studies have discovered the benefits of getting a full night of sleep every evening, as well as the consequences of being sleep-deprived. In our fast-paced world, making sure your child gets enough sleep is more important than ever. Here’s why:

Health Benefits of Sleep

  • Prevents Illnesses: While we sleep, our bodies flush out disease-causing toxins and repair cells. If we are not getting enough sleep, our body is not able to fully complete this process, putting our immune system at risk. For this reason, people are more likely to get sick when they haven’t been sleeping well. Since a child’s immune system is still developing, getting a full night of sleep is crucial to staying healthy.
  • Fosters Physical Growth: Sleep is also essential to childhood growth. Growth hormone is typically secreted the most during a deep slumber. This is one of the reasons why children need to get more sleep than adults. Studies have shown that children who sleep less than the average child tested for lower levels of growth hormone.

Learning Benefits

Adequate amounts of sleep for children enhances cognitive performance and improves the following:

  • Brain function
  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • Academic performance
  • Overall mood

Children who receive adequate amounts of sleep also experience:

  • Less irritability and crankiness
  • Fewer temper tantrums

Getting enough sleep has been shown to improve a child’s memory. Consolidation, or the process in which a memory becomes stable in the brain, occurs during sleep. It is during sleep that the neural connections that form our memories are strengthened, and special brainwaves are activated to assist with the memory formation.

Tips to Improve Sleep

  1. Set a Routine – One of the best ways to make sure that your child is getting a full night of sleep is by creating a consistent bedtime routine. It’s important to make sure that your child is going to bed at around the same time every night. Your child’s body will learn to anticipate this bedtime and sleep will come more naturally as a result.
  2. Unplug – Studies have also shown that by turning off electronics two hours before bed, children have a much easier time falling asleep. This is because the light generated by computer and TV screens reduces melatonin (sleep hormone) production.
  3. Create a Relaxing Environment – If your child is still having difficulties falling asleep, there are several different techniques you can try.
  • Read them a bedtime story
  • Have them take a warm bath
  • Play white noise or calming music on a sound machine or phone application

At Prep Academy Schools, we recognize the importance of making sure that your child is healthy and getting enough sleep. For each student to excel both inside and outside of the classroom, we understand that getting a full night of sleep is essential.  We understand that healthy habits at home and school are essential in raising healthy kids and developing strong learning and concentration skills. Working together with families, we can ensure each child reaches his or her full potential.

More in the Sleepy Time Series: The Importance of Napping and Dealing with Nightmares

How to Improve the ‘Stranger Danger’ Discussion

Usually when kids hear the word “stranger,” they automatically think of someone creepy or scary. However, this is usually not the case. Strangers can look like normal people and it’s important that we get this message across to our kids. You can better protect your children from dangerous situations simply by teaching them about who strangers really are, and how to react to people who act suspiciously.

Here are some questions to consider before you start the ‘stranger danger’ conversation:

Who is a stranger?                                 

To put it simply, tell your child that a stranger is anyone that your family doesn’t know well. Make sure your child knows that even people who seem nice or look pretty are still strangers. Remind them that even if they don’t look mean or ugly, strangers can still be dangerous.

What is a dangerous situation?

Help your child recognize the warning signs of suspicious behavior or “stranger danger.” For instance, a grown-up asking a child for help or asking them to keep a secret are both tell-tale signs of stranger danger. More obvious signs include an adult that they don’t know asking them to disobey their parents or do something without their parents’ permission.

How should your child react to a dangerous situation?

Experts recommend showing your children how to say “No,” yell “Help” as loud as they can, and run away as fast as they can if a stranger does something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Teach them to go to a trusted adult right away and tell them what happened.

Who are safe strangers?

Safe strangers are trusted adults who are often easily recognizable, like a police officer or a firefighter. Other safe strangers include teachers, principals, and librarians. Emphasize that they should go to these people for help if they ever find themselves in a “stranger danger” situation.

Things you can do to help:

Know where your child is at all times, and make it a rule that they ask for your permission before they go anywhere. Identify safe places in your community where your children can go if they run into trouble. Teach your child to be assertive and reassure them that it’s okay to say no to an adult and run away in dangerous situations.

You also want to ensure that your child is safe while at school.  At Prep Academy Schools, the safety of our students is a top priority. We have partnered with Secure Education Consultants (SEC), a team of highly trained former US Secret Service agents, to examine our facilities and design and train our staff on an emergency and critical incident response plan.  In addition, our campus features secure monitored entry with biometric technology and PIN for each parent and member of staff to ensure your child’s safety. We also perform instant checks on each visitor, via driver’s license and provide a name badge good only for the duration of their visit at Prep Academy Schools.

By educating our children about dangerous situations and strangers, parents and schools can work together to ensure their safety from stranger danger.

7 Tips to Raising Happier Children

We all want to give our children the best: love, happiness, and success. However, according to child development experts, happiness isn’t something that you can “give” young children. In most cases, happy children have learned to be happy. Here are some great tips that you can use to teach your child to be happy:

Be Happy Yourself                                             

Children are like sponges and they absorb everything from us; so naturally, our moods matter. Happy parents are likely to have happy children. To nurture your own happiness, make time for yourself. Since, your child’s emotional well-being is dependent on yours, it’s important to make sure that you are well-rested and relaxed.

Learn to Read Their Emotions

Identifying the signals that young children use to communicate their feelings can also be useful when trying to minimize unhappiness. For instance, negative signals such as distress, anger, and fear add up to an unhappy child. These feelings can result in children being more withdrawn, quiet, not playing, and not eating very much. Having insight into your child’s temperament can lead you to know when you should really start focusing on unlocking key aspects of their happiness.

Help Them Build Relationships

Forming relationships with others – family members, friends, caregivers, and even pets – is the surest way to promote a child’s emotional wellbeing. Deep-rooted connections, which produce feelings of being loved, understood, wanted, and acknowledged are the biggest protector against emotional distress. Encourage your children to perform small acts of kindness to strengthen empathy.

Praise the Right Things

Research consistently shows that parents should praise effort, not natural ability. Praising the effort rather than the result fosters a growth mindset, or the belief that they can accomplish something through persistence and practice, as opposed to something they are born with. This causes the child to worry less about failing and also raises their self-esteem when they achieve something through hard work and are praised for it.

Teach Optimism

Optimism is linked hand in hand with happiness, and children who are taught to be optimistic at an early age, are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety as they get older. To encourage optimism, tell your child to focus on the bright side and then point out all the good things in their life.

Form Habits of Gratitude

Research has shown that feelings of gratitude are linked to emotional well-being. To instill gratitude in your children, make it a point for each member of the family to name aloud something they are grateful for during dinner each day. This type of routine habit fosters all kinds of positive emotions and can create long-lasting happiness.

Have fun!

Playtime is necessary for a child’s growth and development and is especially effective if you’re having fun with them. If you enjoy yourself, your children will enjoy themselves. Additionally, allowing your children to have unstructured play is important so that they can discover what they love to do. Cultivating your child’s interests can lead to a lifetime of inner happiness.

 

At Prep Academy, we strive to create a culture of happiness for our students, parents, and faculty! We believe that happy children are more likely to reach their full potential, and work hard to create a nurturing, positive learning environment! Our fully certified and professional teachers and staff present a well-rounded program that brings out the happiness in each student.  With positive role models at school and home, children have a head start to a happier future!