A Parent’s Review of Eye Level Learning Center

School is out and it is time for kids to have fun!  And Kidz Central Station recommends summer classes and camps to keep our kids engaged and recharged.   On many parents’ minds is how to keep “summer slide” at bay.  With our parents’ concerns in mind, we visited Eye Level Learning Center’s location in the East Village.

Eye Level review at Kidz Central Station

What is Eye Level?

Eye Level Learning Centers offer after-school and summer tutoring.  Eye Level follows state standards and provides Math and English instruction to supplement and enhance what our kids learn at school.  Specifically, Basic math covers Numbers, Arithmetic, Measurement, and Equations. Critical math includes Patterns and Relationships, Geometry, Measurement, Problem Solving, and Reasoning.  English focus areas include phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. Learn more at their national website.

One Parent’s Review

Both of my sons attend the Eye Level Learning Center in the East Village. They started in April/May 2018 and have continued this summer after taking June off.  My older son (3rd grader) is competitive and excels at academics and is a bit lazy.  My younger son (1st grader) has a learning delay and ADHD and is an extremely hard worker.  Both enjoy completing tasks and being rewarded for their accomplishments.  Eye Level has been wonderful for both of them!

Assessment

In our first appointment, the kids were given an assessment of both subject areas by the director of this center, Ryan Drucker.  This is a free assessment whether you continue with their services or not. Since I don’t always know what’s happening during the school day, I was happy to gain an understanding of where each one stood in comparison to their grade level and their overall strengths and weaknesses.  

Weekly Classes

We signed on for 6 months (4 tutor hours/month and ~$56/hour).  We attend weekly on Saturday morning so the boys can go together, which is a motivating factor for both of them.  My older son has an hour of English because he placed over a grade level ahead in Math.  The younger one has ½ hour of English and ½ hour of math. The older one sits with an instructor and 1 or 2 other students as the instructor rotates working individually with each student.  Due to his attention difficulty, the younger one has one-on-one instruction throughout the hour.  I has raised my concerns with Ryan and was very happy about the specialized attention.

What I really like is that each lesson is contained in a short booklet that is easily completed during the hour.  Then, homework is a booklet that follows this week’s lessons and is easily completed during the week. The younger son goes through a booklet per subject and then completes two booklets for homework.  The kids feel a real sense of accomplishment from finishing entire booklets.  You see the progress being made.

The space is small but packed with education materials and books and games.  The tutor hours are booked appropriately and we haven’t seen more than 5 kids including my two during our lessons.  Our teachers are very gentle and nice but do expect the kids to listen and work hard. The boys have worked well with them.  They give instructive feedback  at the end of every lesson.  

Most important for the kids, they are rewarded with star cards after each lesson that they can save to earn prizes or cash out immediately for small prizes.  It is amazing how cheap candies and toys can be such a motivation for kids. My boys love their star cards and “shopping” for prizes.

Results

Both of my sons have greatly benefited from Eye Level.  The older one needed the structure and feedback to stay focused.  He has worked on Reading Comprehension, Verbs (action, helping, linking, future tense, irregular) and compound sentences.  He is digging deeper into topics that are glanced over and in some cases not even broached in school. The younger one has developed his reading comprehension skills and grammar, as well as, learning to sit still for an hour. Examples of his lessons include repeating patterns and subtraction drills for Math.  Short vowels, sight words, and story elements for English. We are absolutely pleased with Eye Level!

How to Prepare Your Child for Sleepaway Camp

campfireFor some children, heading off to an overnight summer camp is natural and easy, and their parents aren’t too concerned. For others, especially those who are younger, more prone to anxiety, or who have special needs, the approaching first day of camp can be daunting.

Whether your child is spending a week or the whole summer away from home, here are a few tips to help you prepare your child (and yourself!) for a smooth transition to camp.

Manage your own anxiety.
Maybe you’re questioning your decision to send your daughter away to camp at her young age. Maybe you’re nervous that both you and your son will spend the first few nights of camp crying. Fears are natural, but don’t let your kids know how worried you are!

Take care of yourself and your needs first. Speak to friends and family about your anxiety, but make sure that you convey an excited, optimistic attitude when talking to your child. Remind yourself why you wanted to send her to camp in the first place. Making new friends, learning new skills, playing in the fresh air, and gaining a sense of independence are all wonderful experiences that will benefit her. You can also look forward to getting a brief respite from parenting duties while she’s away!

Whatever you do, never tell your tell child that you will miss him too much or that you wish he could stay home. If he asks if you’ll miss him, let him know that you love him, but that you want him to be at camp and that you can’t wait to read his letters and hear all about camp when he gets home.

Preview the camp schedule.
For anxious children or those who have difficulty adjusting to new routines, checking out the camp’s daily schedule together can be beneficial. These are often available on the camp’s website. If you can’t locate it, email the camp and ask for the schedule for your child’s age group.

With your child, review when wake up, bedtime, mealtimes, and activity periods will be. If he has been waking up and going to sleep on a drastically different schedule, slowly adjusting to the camp’s schedule can help make it more likely that he’ll fall asleep easily when he arrives. Taking a look at photos on the camp website to preview the new surroundings can also be useful.

Make sure to read the list of activities that are offered at camp. Generate excitement for both of you by talking about which new things your child wants to try at camp!

Let the camp know about your child’s special needs.
If your child has special needs, chances are that you have already discussed them with the camp director. If not, make a phone call or send an email to the camp administration to let them know. They will be glad that you shared information that will make the start of camp easier for both your child and for her counselors.

Full-time camp staff are childcare professionals who have seen and heard it all, so don’t worry about upsetting them with this information. Many children who require unique diets, have psychiatric diagnoses such as ADHD, or who have behavior problems in school have wildly successful summer camp experiences.

Although you might feel anxious and want to call multiple times, restrict yourself to one or two communications with the camp before the first day, unless the camp indicates that more are necessary, as camp directors are extremely busy just before and during the summer season.

Practice spending nights away from home.
If your child has rarely spent the night outside the comfort of her own bedroom, practice for the camp experience by having her sleep at friend’s and family member’s houses a few times before camp begins. Don’t call her to say goodnight; allow her to become accustomed to doing her bedtime routine under the watchful eye of another adult. When she returns home, praise her for her success at staying by herself.

Your child might ask if he can come home if he changes his mind about a sleepover or about camp. Reiterate that you’re confident that he will have a great time without you. Prepare him for the experience by saying, “A lot of kids feel homesick on their first few nights away. It’s okay if you feel that way or if you don’t feel that way. If it happens to you, don’t worry that it means you won’t have a good summer anyway.” Never promise your child that you will pick him up if he feels homesick.

Let go.
Once your child arrives at camp, the staff will take care of her needs. If there’s a problem that you need to know about, they’ll call you. Enjoy your freedom and give yourself time to relax while the children are away. Remember, whatever happens, your child will be home in a few weeks!

hassFrom the Real Experts at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone:

Arielle Walzer, MA, PsyM, is a psychology extern at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University.

Summertime technology: one dad’s advice. 

netsafe-family-nightBy Chris O’Brien President, NetSafe Family

School’s out for the summer!  Riding bikes, skinned knees, climbing trees, what could be better?  Wait a minute, something is missing…. Yes how can we forget those other summertime activities; video games, YouTube, chat groups, surfing the web, streaming movies……, all part of the potential “screen time” overloading we parents will face this summer.

Here’s the question: is all this tech and screen time an okay way for kids to make it through the summertime doldrums?  If you are looking for basic guidelines, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends setting time limits:

• Children 18 months or younger: no screen time.
• Children 2-5 years: no more than 1 hour a day of supervised screen time.
• Children 6 years and up: use your best judgment but not more than 2 hours a day.

Why the limits?  Studies on excessive entertainment-based screen time show that conditions like childhood depression, obesity, trouble sleeping, and introverted behavior are often linked to too much screen time.  Experts like, Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State have shown that too much screen time is harming the overall mental health of our children.  Note: the average teenage boy spends nearly 8 hours looking at a screen daily (not including homework).

The good news is we have options that don’t include “accidentally” dropping your child’s smartphone into the ocean.  Tech solutions can be very helpful in limiting screen time and protecting your children from other kinds of online dangers; here are some examples of what we typically recommend to our clients:

• Make sure your home Wi-Fi and internet network is secure and protected.
• Set up content blocking (blacklisting) software on the network, this will block inappropriate content such as graphic violence, illegal behavior, and adult content from your child’s device.
• Configure home internet access time controls, (apple computers have a daily limit program that you can set up, we have an app that controls time limits by user).
• When you go to bed, shut off the internet.
• Set up the parental controls on all of your child’s devices.

On the non-tech side, and this is the hard part, make and stick to family “Techtime” RULES.  Personally, I have had some success using a “Summer Techtime” agreement with my children, which includes statements like:

• This device belongs to my parents, I get to use it as a privilege.
• I will listen to my parents and put down my device when asked.
• There will be no screen time 1 hour before bed, and all devices will be out of my room for bedtime.
• I will tell my parents when I encounter cyberbullying, violence, or other media content that makes me feel uncomfortable while at home or at a friend’s house.
• I (Parent) will put my phone down when I am home and by no means will I bring it to the dinner table…..again… 😊

You get the point, it is all about communication and giving your child responsibility not only for the device but for how it is being used.  One hero parent I know actually covers all these bases at once by using tech to start family communication with a “favorite video of the week” hour.  You can almost hear all the ooh’s, aah’s, OMG’s, and laughs.

Good luck, and as we head into summer, my wish is for several skinned knees, lots of games of Monopoly, and no early onset carpal tunnel cases!

Netsafe-Family-Logo-3.3Chris O’Brien is president of NetSafe Family, a internet safety company featuring technology rated “Best in Class” by the Wall Street Journal. Kidz Buzz Blog readers receive a special offer when you contact NetSafe Family and mention Kidz Central Station.

Summer Socializing: How to Help Your Child Make Friends Over Summer Break

summer-friendsAs with times tables, proper spelling, and other academic skills, social skills can decline over summer vacation if children sit at home for months and ignore them. Yet, just as summer school and intensive tutoring in July and August can help kids catch up to their peers academically by September, so too can summertime be used for strengthening kids’ social skills and increasing their circle of friends before the new school year begins.

For children who struggle to make friends during the school year, the summer can be a valuable time to break free from their school-based social circles and form positive relationships with a variety of other peers. Follow these steps to learn how to maximize your child’s chance of success:

Choose the right activity.
Children are most likely to succeed in making friends when they are engaged in an activity that they love. While you might desperately want your video game-loving kid to get some exercise this summer, soccer camp is probably a poor choice if your child can’t stand organized sports. Crying or complaining about the activity is unlikely to attract new friends!

Play to your child’s strengths. What does your son or daughter talk about the most? If your daughter talks non-stop about animals, a nature program is where she’s most likely to find friends who share her passion. There are camps and classes out there for everything – coding, cooking, science, and movie-making camps are all alternatives to traditional sports and swimming summer programs.

Make sure the activity meets often.
Although it might seem like other kids make friends during chance meetings on the playground, these are unlikely to turn into lasting relationships without thoughtful follow-up. Even if your son enjoys splashing around in the pool with a boy he’s just met, it would be hard for him to turn that one-time interaction into a genuine friendship without repeated contact. Friendships tend to form over time when there are repeated opportunities to play together. If your child isn’t attending a daily camp program, try to ensure that the activities she’s enrolled in meet at least once per week to increase the odds that she’ll form a connection.

Identify potential friends.
Kids who struggle to form peer relationships often find it hard to identify potential friends. Even when they do report friendships, parents sometimes can’t help but wonder if the feeling is mutual. When possible, watch your child at the end of a program to see with whom she gets along well. If you can’t watch or if you find it difficult to tell, ask the group leader. Teachers and camp counselors are usually excited about helping facilitate new friendships and are likely to have good insight.

Make the first move.
Once you’ve figured out who might be receptive to an invitation from your child, approach the parents at pick up time or ask the group leader for contact information and call them. Suggest a specific activity and date.

Remember that parents and children often have busy summer vacation schedules, so it might be hard to set a time. Remember, there are many possible reasons that your playdate idea might be rejected! If unsuccessful at first, try again with a different family.

For an older child or teenager, help her brainstorm the activity and encourage her to ask peers herself, as those out of elementary school rarely have adults coordinate their get-togethers. If she’s nervous, role play with her until she feels more comfortable. Remember to rehearse staying calm and shrugging it off if the peer says no.

Keep playdates short and planned.
To help reduce the likelihood that kids will become bored with each other or get into an argument, first playdates should be short and sweet. Aim for two hours or less.

Inviting the child to your home with a vague plan to play can be a great choice once the friendship is established, but it’s not the best move for a first playdate. It might be hard for the kids to choose an activity, and the playdate could quickly become boring or contentious. Instead, choose a specific activity that you know both kids enjoy. Activities such as watching a specific movie or completing a craft project can take place in your home, while visiting a children’s museum or a zoo are good options for outings.

Have realistic expectations.
Summer programs can be a great way for your child to improve his social skills and make friends, but remember that summer vacation lasts only a few months. Celebrate small victories, such as a single successful get-together with a friend or even the exchange of social media usernames. If your child’s summer buddy doesn’t turn into a year-round pal, that’s okay. Even a short friendship is worthwhile if it helps your kid feel less lonely and learn new skills for the next friendship. There’s always next summer!

Does your child have social communication difficulties? The Child Study Center’s Social Learning Program offers a wide array of social skills group therapy services for children as young as 3 through young adults up to age 35. Groups are appropriate for individuals with social communication difficulties related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, depression, or other challenges. Both children and parents participate in separate weekly groups that run concurrently for 12-16 weeks. Clinical faculty and staff use evidence-based interventions based on research that shows positive long-term outcomes. For more information about our social skills group sessions in Manhattan, please contact our Social Learning Program intake team at 646-754-5284 or email csc.sociallearning@nyumc.org.

hassFrom the Real Experts at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone:

Arielle Walzer, MA, PsyM, is a psychology extern in Autism Spectrum Disorder service at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. Rebecca Shalev, PhD, BCBA, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone.

Top Kids Musical Theater & Dance Summer Programs

Kidz Central Station is excited to partner with the famed Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Their mission  is to transform passionate dance students into artists able to collaborate and evolve in a fast-changing society.  This involves making dance fun for our youngest performers. The Joffrey curriculum was created to encourage age appropriate creativity, musicality, and physicality.  We want to help our parents get to know the exciting summer programs available for our music, dance, and theater loving children.  

The Joffrey Ballet School presents summer dance camps hosting dancers ages 3 to 18 in several sessions from June through August 2018. Auditions not necessary unless applying for scholarship; you will be placed during the first day of orientation.


Joffrey Ballet School Dance summer

MUSICAL BROADWAY THEATER (June 11- July 13)

This summer intensive partners with a major Broadway show each week and is geared toward your triple-threat performer. CURRENT Broadway performers teach the students acting, singing, dancing and choreography.  Students will then attend the featured show at the end of the week. This experience is unbeatable for your theater loving kids!

Week 1: School of Rock and Hello Dolly

Week 2: Wicked and School of Rock

Week 3: Wicked, Hello Dolly, Carousel

Week 4: Wicked, Hello Dolly, Anastasia

Week 5: Wicked, Anastasia, School of Rock


Joffrey Ballet School summer dance

SUMMER DANCE CAMPS (June 18 – July 20)

Summer Dance Camps introduce children to creativity and movement using fun themes in dance, arts, crafts, music and food.  Activities are held at the Joffrey Ballet School’s studios in the West Village and conducted by experienced staff. This Camp offers a sampler of Classical Ballet, Folk Dance, Hip Hop, and Jazz combined with elementary exploration into Body Conditioning.


Joffrey Ballet School summer dance

HIP HOP (July 9 – 27)

This class partners with STG The Ultimate Dance Competition and top hip hop artists such as Candace Brown, a Monsters of Hip Hop Alum. There will be 75 class types in Breaking, Freestyle, House, Jazz/Funk, Street, Locking, etc.  Dancers perform a summer showcase at the end of the program.


Joffrey Ballet School summer danceNYC Jazz & Contemporary Dance Intensive (July 16 – August 10)

The NYC Jazz/Contemporary program is the flagship Jazz and Contemporary dance intensive worldwide. Angelica Stiskin leads the program offering the classical techniques of ballet and modern, along with the neoclassical derivatives of contemporary, improv, hip hop, theater dance, and more.  The program culminates in a performance in a major NYC theater venue.


Joffrey Ballet School summer dance

The Joffrey Experience (August 13 – 24)

The emphasis of this intensive is to define Contemporary Dance in the 21st Century through study, creation, and performance, all done within two intensive weeks of classes and rehearsals. Ballet and Modern Contemporary styles are explored by choreographers who are successful New York-based artists and dance teachers. After the process of creating an original work, the dancers perform in a final show at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center in Brooklyn.

Head of the Class Dad, Danny Kron

Meet Head of the Class Dad, Danny Kron—Founder of FunFit Kids—and an amazing parent!dannyfun

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Fun Fit Kids?
I was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Canada but have been in NY for the last 8 years. I have a lovely wife who is my partner in all life things, including FunFit Kids. Together we have son who just turned 3 months. I originally thought up FunFit Kids and began by running weekend classes on the Upper West Side. Parents were looking for an alternative way to teach language (Hebrew) to children. At the same time, I also realized I had a passion for teaching kids the fundamentals of movement and having them explore different sports. In September, we’ll be opening a 2700 square foot gym on the Upper West Side. We have multi-sport, 2Lingo (language through sports), alternative preschool, special needs and much more.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
It’s a work in progress! Some say it’s crazy to start this venture after the recent birth of my son. But luckily my wife is my partner in the business and somehow we’re managing to get through it together.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
My wife was in labor. It was late at night (like 3am) and we grabbed a yellow cab. I had our hospital bag and birthing ball, all as planned. It was so late, and I was so tired, that I opened the door for her to get in the taxi, then proceeded to put in the hospital bag and birthing ball, all well also trying to squeeze into the back seat. I just kept pushing the birthing ball into my super pregnant wife and couldn’t, in my sleepy state, realize there was a whole empty trunk of the jeep taxi we hailed. Laughing (and also maybe crying) my wife said SLOW DOWN, put the stuff in the trunk! I did, hopped in the car and was on our way. It was a great reminder in life to slow down and take things step by step.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Starting a business with a newborn means lack of sleep and the feeling that there are not enough hours in the day. Thankfully, sleep is improving, but there will never be enough hours in the day. The greatest reward is coming home after a hard day at work and seeing my son smile. Also, seeing families enjoy our classes makes me glad that the work I’m doing is wanted and worthy.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
I really wish I knew about the feeding schedule and the fact that it sometimes takes two of us. I never knew how much effort and time it takes to making sure the baby is happy and fed.

If you could give other dads one piece of advice what would it be?
Keep your partner happy and the baby will follow. Children feel the vibe of the household. I also learned, through FunFit Kids, it is important not to put your sports dreams on your children. Let children explore and discover what sports speak to them, and that it is okay if they are not the next Lebron James.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (I had the Hebrew version growing up called Ha’Etz ha’Nadiv)
What has been your favorite kids’ class (other than your own!)?  FunFit Kids 😉
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?  We love to picnic in Central Park or walk along Riverside Park
What is your favorite rainy day escape?  We have lots of family on Long Island, and like to escape by visiting them. or by watching movie marathons.

Learn more about FunFit Kids, their great classes and amazing birthday parties in their beautiful new facility.

Win NYC Baseball Tix for Dad + Top Father’s Day Activities

Win Baseball Tickets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate Father’s Day, we’re giving away sets of tickets to two July baseball games in NYC. Two winners announced June 28th. Enter to Win!


 

Father's Day NYC

Mozart for Munchkins Presents a Day for Dads: Brass, Babies, & Books!

Father's Day NYC

Father’s Day Pizza Party Workshop @ Taste Buds Kitchen

 

Father's Day NYC

Okabaloo’s A Daddy Puppet Show

 

Father's Day NYC

Father’s Day “Daddy and Me Paint n Sip Brunch” @ Fruiggie

6 Fun Soccer Classes & World Cup Facts

Soccer Classes Kidz Central StationWorld Cup 2018 kicks off June 14th with Russia v. Saudi Arabia and ends with the finals on July 15th.  Are your soccer loving kids looking for a way to join in the fun? We found 6 of the best places for kids to hone their soccer skills at an early age to get World Cup ready. 

But first, let’s kick off World Cup 2018 with 6 Fun Facts to impress your friends.

  1. The 2018 World Cup is in Russia.  Qatar will host in 2022.
  2. Uruguay hosted the first ever World Cup in 1930…and won!
  3. Brazil has won the tournament the most – 5 times.
  4. Germany has the most 2nd place finishes with 4.
  5. The most goals ever scored by one player in a World Cup match is 5 by Oleg Salenko of Russia.
  6. In 1954, Austria defeated Switzerland 7-5 in the highest scoring game in World Cup history.

 

Soccer Classes Kidz Central StationSoccer Classes in Manhattan

Soc Roc

5-star rated class  created by former pro soccer player James Christie.  Summer soccer classes are now underway until August 15th.  Sign up by age group: Ages 18 months to 4 yrs, Ages 2-3 , Ages 3-4, Ages 4-6, Ages 5-8.

Kids at Work

(1) Kick and Play Soccer for ages 12 months to 2 years is a soccer readiness program presented by Super Soccer Stars. (2) Super Soccer Stars for ages 2 to 3 years focuses on skill-building and scrimmages.

NORY

Soccer & STEM Summer Camp for ages 3 to 7 years works with the pros of Super Soccer Stars to to teach kids the fundamentals, e.g. dribbling, passing, and shooting.


 

Soccer Classes Kidz Central Station

Soccer Classes in Queens

Long Island City Youth Soccer Academy

Soccer for Tots program for ages 2 to 4 years introduces the fundamentals. Summer Camps for ages 6 to 16 years is open to kids of all abilities.

Superkickers

Summer soccer classes for kids ages 2 to 8 years old begin July 5th. Locations: Jackson Heights, Astoria, Long Island City, Middle Village and Sunnyside.


 

Soccer Classes Kidz Central Station

Soccer Classes in Brooklyn

Aviator Sports

Everything from private lessons to various soccer classes for ages 18 months to 12 years!

529’s and the Power of Compound Interest

financial

Costs of a College Education
It has been said that the only thing more expensive than going to college is not going to college.  Some may view this with skepticism, when the annual cost of an out-of-state public university tops $40,000, and elite private institutions run significantly higher.  Yet the majority of those without a college degree lag behind in terms of wages and opportunities, and this disparity is expected to widen.  According to the Financial Times, the U.S. will probably create 15 million jobs in the decade leading up to 2020, and 65% of these positions will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school.

Assistance Available
The need for an advanced education to be successful in the workforce contrasts alarmingly with a steady fall in college enrollment since 2013, as reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  This decline is due in part to the skyrocketing costs of college.  Financial assistance, however, is plentiful, and too many families fail to pursue or are not cognizant of the $257 billion in grants, scholarships and loans available.  Barry Fox, a Long Island –based Financial Aid consultant, wrote that in 2015 the Federal Government estimated that $18 billion was not distributed because either financial aid forms were filed incorrectly or no one asked for it.

What is a 529 Account?
In additional to being unaware of readily accessible aid, many do not fully perceive the tremendous advantages of a college savings vehicle called the 529 Plan.  A study sponsored by Fidelity Investments determined that only 32% of people could correctly identify a 529 Plan as an option for saving for college expenses.  A 529 Plan provides tax deferred growth and tax free withdrawals for qualified expenses such as tuition, room and board and supplies.  Moreover, 33 states, including New York, give residents a tax break if they invest in that state’s sponsored 529 Plan.  529 Plans are also assessed at a favorable rate when calculating financial aid.  Finally, 529 Plans are portable in the sense that while established with a designated beneficiary, the account owner can replace him with another beneficiary when circumstances dictate.    These features combine to make the 529 the best way to save for college.

Advantages: Ability to Change Beneficiaries
One of the concerns of building a savings account for a specific person to go to college is the risk that said person will not go.   While a 529 Plan will only benefit from favorable tax treatment if used for the beneficiary’s education, that beneficiary no has control of the account.  The account owner is the only party authorized to make withdrawals, and the account owner has the right to change to a new beneficiary with no tax ramifications or penalties if the current receives a scholarship or decides not to attend college.    The new beneficiary must be chosen from the immediate family, which includes siblings, nieces, nephews, even the parent himself.   Since 529 accounts have no age restrictions or time limits, a parent can name himself as a beneficiary until another suitable beneficiary becomes available.  Thus a parent expecting a child can establish a 529 with himself as beneficiary and then change when the child is born.   Although income taxes will not be due if a 529 is transferred to another qualified beneficiary, there may be estate tax consequences if the new beneficiary belongs to a younger generation.  The original is considered to me a making a gift to the new beneficiary, and if the gift exceeds $15,000, it has to be factored into the donor’s exemption of $5.6 million on federal estate tax.

Advantages: Lower Assessment for Financial Aid Purposes
Determining eligibility for financial aid begins when a family completes a FAFSA for the student applying for assistance.  The federal government and colleges examine a family’s income and assets detailed in the FAFSA to discern how much that family can afford to contribute towards the cost before receiving aid.  Some family assets are excluded altogether in the calculation, such as the family’s primary residence and life insurance.  Other assets are assessed at either a rate of 5.64% or 20%.  A higher assessment on an asset results in less aid.   Let’s say a child has $10,000 in a bank account.  That $10,000 asset will reduce financial aid by $2000.  That same $10,000 held in a bank account registered to the parent lowers aid by $564.  As far as the Federal government is concerned, the primary function of a child’s assets or income is to pay for college, while the parent’s assets/income satisfy a variety of family needs.    529 Plans owned by students or their parents are assessed at the lower rate of 5.64%.    529 Plans owned by non-custodial parties (such as grandparents) are excluded when tabulating family assets.  However, withdrawals from such an account will count as income of the student and be assessed at a much higher rate of 50%.  A 529 account owned by a grandparent is, therefore, best used for the beneficiary’s last year of college after the final FAFSA has been submitted.

Advantages: The Power of Compound Interest
Time is the most important variable an investor controls, and the power of compound interest is what allows a person of average means to save a healthy sum for college.  The following example will demonstrate this phenomenon.  Michael sets up a 529 Plan when his son is born and puts away $2000 on his birthday for the next 5 years, for a total of $10,000.  He then stops saving, but leaves the money in an account where it continues to accrue interest at 7% per year.  On the son’s 18th birthday, the account is worth $29,656.   Jennifer held off contributing to a 529 until her son’s 10th birthday, but likewise deposited $2000 per year into an account earning 7% per year and stopped after 5 years.  On her son’s 18th birthday, the 529 was worth $15,071.      Why the substantial difference in value when the principal ($10,000) was the same for both parties?  Most of the power of compound interest comes at the very end, so the additional 10 years Michael invested, the extra decade of interest on interest, gives him a huge boost.   The key to building wealth is to make regular deposits into an investment whose objective is growth while tolerating inevitable fluctuations and maintaining a long term outlook.

Summary
529 Plans are in no way the perfect funding vehicle.  They are included as an asset for financial aid purposes.  For withdrawals to be tax free, the money must be used for specific purposes.  Investment options are limited to what the state sponsor makes available, and principal could be lost if the investments perform poorly. Simply saving, however, is not enough.  To keep pace with escalating college expenses, money must be invested so it will grow, unencumbered by taxation.  Driven by the power of tax deferred compound interest, 529 Plans remain the best way to save for college.

 

 

 

5 Questions with Carried Away Chefs + Recipe

Like many New Yorkers, the Kidz Central Station team defaults to ordering delivery almost every night.  Then, we motivate to cook more often so we can eat healthier. This vow lasts a week. Repeat. Does this cycle sound familiar??

That’s why we are super excited to introduce Carried Away Chefs to our busy, tired families carried away chefswho are also concerned with eating family meals in a relaxed, happy environment.  Dedicated personal chefs travel to you to cook a healthy, delicious home-cooked meal using ingredients you want – a comprehensive home dining solution.  They will even shop for the groceries.  Don’t worry if you have a tiny NYC kitchen because these talented chefs can work with anything!  Check out @carriedawaychefs for their mouth watering photos.


Kate Homes Carried Away ChefsFounder Kate Homes is a Le Corden Bleu trained chef who spent many years in top fine-dining kitchens and at the Food Network.  During this time she also worked as a personal chef and truly enjoyed the connection formed by cooking in family homes. We, especially, connected with how her service and her mission transformed once becoming a mom herself.

How has being a mom informed your mission with Carried Away Chefs?
I had my first daughter, Lucy, 2 years after starting the business and began to truly understand how we were not only helping with our clients’ meals, but also with family time and life balance. When I went back to work, I started mimicking our weekly service for myself at the beginning of the week; cooking a handful of meals.  I’d then come home in the evening and instead of rushing into the kitchen to prepare dinner, I’d sit down on the floor with my daughter and spend the quality time we hadn’t had while I was at work.  Enjoying a glass of wine with my husband, playing with the kids, knowing dinner is ready to re-heat when you get hungry is such a pleasant way to wind down from the work day.

carried away chefs

What are your two best tips for handling a picky eater?
1. Minimize drama – kids pick up on when they’ve pushed a button that gets attention, negative or positive.  If there’s always a lot of fuss over eating certain foods, it might become not about the food at all but about the habit of resisting. Try acting casual and saying, “oh, you don’t like that?  I totally forgot sorry!”

2. Eat the same food and eat together. We can’t do this all the time, but sharing a few meals, snacks, or treats together throughout the week can reinforce the idea that it’s not solely about the nutrients. We are supposed to enjoy food as well.   

How do we get our kids to eat healthier, i.e. sneak in more vegetables?
There are definitely some fun recipes we’ve made that actually ‘sneak’ vegetables into the recipe so kids don’t know they are there.  I think it’s great because we all could always use more vegetables in our diets, though it does slightly ‘kick the can down the road’ in terms of developing healthy eating habits.  I’m a huge fan of just making the vegetables taste amazing. Seasoning very well with salt (in moderation it’s not bad); it brings out the flavor of vegetables and makes them SO much better.  Or try soy sauce or liquid aminos; my kids will eat anything if there is soy sauce on it. Texture plays a part, too; a lot of kids aren’t into cooked vegetables but are totally fine with raw. Throw in a tasty dipping sauce and you’re good to go!

carried away chefsWhat foods or textures or tastes can help expand our children’s palate?
I have found that introducing exciting flavors and cuisines early can help expand their palates and give you more options.  Asian dishes that include soy sauce or toasted sesame oil are well seasoned so they will be a hit; and Mexican and Indian as long as they aren’t spicy.  I prefer ground or shredded meat dishes as they are easier for little ones to chew, and more seasoning covers the bites. I also try to make rice, quinoa or couscous dishes where everything is chopped small so they get all the ingredients and flavors in each bite.

Give our busy parents your favorite kid-friendly dish using just 5 ingredients and minimum pots and pans from their small NYC kitchen.


Turkey mushroom lettuce cups – one skillet!

  • 2T Toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup grated shiitake mushrooms
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 head bibb lettuce (this is a 6th ‘ingredient’ but you don’t actually have to do anything to it!)

    1. Saute the turkey and mushrooms in sesame oil with a pinch of salt. when the cooking juices start to diminish, stir in tomato paste and soy sauce, cook until thickened
    2. Break up the lettuce head into ‘cups’- see if you can entice your child to eat the lettuce like a taco with the meat inside, or if not, just the meat.

Carried Away Chefs services:

  • A personal chef will come to your home once weekly to prepare 3 main dishes + 3 sides + 1 baked good ($350+ groceries) or twice weekly to prepare 2 main dishes + 2 sides + 1 baked good per visit ($550+ groceries)
  • In-home interactive cooking demonstration for your family, including a recipe packet
  • Cooking classes: for kids ($45/child, minimum 6) or individual sessions ($275+)
  • Private Events