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3 Simple Ways to Get Your Child Involved in the Arts

Arts and achievement go hand in hand.

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by Melanie Gibbs

Funding for the arts is getting slimmer and slimmer. In March, President Donald Trump proposed a budget that would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a federal program that provides vital arts funding to nonprofits, schools and local and state governments. While it will continue to be funded until Dec. 8, the future of the NEA is uncertain.

There’s a reason why the NEA exists. Art isn’t just for artists, it’s for everybody. And the earlier kids engage in the arts, the better off they are.

A Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching study found that young artists are likely to read for pleasure nearly twice as often as their peers and perform community service more than four times as often. There are also links between increased participation in the arts and being recognized for academic achievement.

There is a real and measurable link between participation in the arts and success in academics. So why do many families miss the connection?

Let’s face it, “busy” doesn’t begin to describe today’s families. Between work, school and extracurriculars, there’s little time left over for a meal together, let alone those subjects thought of as inessentials. And sometimes, parents are unable to cover the cost or transportation involved with arts education outside of school.

Florida schools have been hit with deep spending cuts since the 2008 recession, and overworked teachers don’t get much time or resources to fill the gaps. Private schools frequently include visual and performing arts in their curriculum, but their higher tuition often proves prohibitive for many families.

There are many obstacles to making the arts a part of your child’s life, and yet research has proven that a student involved in the arts excels in school, period. So what’s a frazzled parent to do? Here are some ideas you can implement right now:

  1. Play classical music in The Mom Taxi. Your kids might fight it at first, but they’ll get used to this new normal. There is a proven link between music and math skills so don’t give up—you might even enjoy it yourself!
  2. Sign your child up for dance. Even one class per week can make a visible improvement in your son or daughter’s confidence and poise, and the benefits of physical activity for kids age 4-9 are widely acknowledged. Remember recess? Dance class is like recess in Fantasyland.
  3. Leave art supplies out and easily accessible in your home. Art time doesn’t need to be structured—just let your kids create the way they want, when they want. Dorothea Brande said “A child’s mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled.”

You don’t need a degree to help your own kids get to the graduation stage—just use these simple tips to make the arts part of their daily schedule. Then stand back and watch them shine!


This post was sponsored by Boca Dance Studio.

Melanie Gibbs is the owner of Boca Dance Studio in Boca Raton and ProAm Dance Studio in Pompano Beach. Her son practices the piano three times a week with only a little whining.

For more info visit BocaDanceStudio.com or call 561/391-8557.

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After Irma, I’m Ready for a “Not So Scary” Halloween This Year

Mamas, I’ve been scared enough during the month of September to last me a lifetime. Between Hurricane Irma—and well HURRICANE IRMA—I’ve decided there shall be nothing scary about Halloween for my family next month.

I’ve reached my quota.

That’s why we’ll be celebrating a fun and festive G-rated Halloween with Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World.

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Not-So-Scary is a special after-hours ticketed event guaranteed to make boo-tiful memories for your family. With trick-or-treating throughout Magic Kingdom Park, bewitching fireworks under a pumpkin moon, costumed characters on parade and a wickedly joyous Villain Spelltacular, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party puts your neighborhood block party to shame (sorry!). The party takes place on select evenings through Nov. 1, so you can still go to your favorite local events.

My 4-year-old daughter—and her mummy and daddy—can’t wait to experience Not-So-Scary for the first time. She’ll love the activities, candy, characters, and basically everything Disney. And I’ll love the safety and security of not having to monitor every single piece of candy she puts in her trick-or-treat bag. Halloween dress-up (Disney or otherwise) is encouraged for kids 13 and under, and there are strict rules for the types of costumes kids can wear. So no terrifying clowns or Scream masks, which makes us very happy.

Disney takes safety very seriously, and that peace of mind is a win in my Boca mom book!

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As for eerie entertainment during Not-So-Scary evenings, here’s what you can expect:

  • Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular – Chills, thrills and villains join in a wickedly fun celebration hosted by the Sanderson Sisters, the trio of witch sisters from Disney’s live action film Hocus Pocus. It’s a Halloween party not to be missed in front of Cinderella’s Castle!

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  • Happy HalloWishes – This fireworks spectacle lights up the Not-So-Scary night. Guests are encouraged to sing along with some of the most infamous Disney villains, including Cruella de Vil, Jafar and Oogie Boogie.

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  • Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade – Led by the Headless Horseman, it’s masquerade mania as Disney characters dress up for the occasion and ghostly floats bring the frights and sounds of the season to Main Street, U.S.A. and other Magic Kingdom viewing locations.

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  • Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet. Deadpan humor and other antics from this Dapper Dans-style “band” scare up the fun in Frontierland.

We are really looking forward to a Not-So-Scary Halloween this year, but also a tame (hurricane-free) rest of 2017! I hope you and your families are safe and well after the storm and that Boca Raton gets back to normal as soon as possible. #floridastrong

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The force was with the Rogers family last Halloween as we dressed up as Luke, Leia and Rey from the Star Wars franchise. Photo provided by Michelle Olson-Rogers.


All photos courtesy of Walt Disney World. 

Admission for select nights to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party starts at $74 per person ages 10+, $69 ages 3-9. Hours: 7 p.m. – midnight.

Visit www.modernbocamom.com for even more fun Halloween ideas! And be sure to subscribe to Modern Boca Mom’s weekly e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/mbmsubscribe.

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.
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7 Parenting Dos and Don’ts for Happy, Healthy Children

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Jennifer Bishop, a licensed mental health counselor in Boca Raton who discussed “The Price of Affluence” in our September/October 2017 issue, shares these Dos and Don’ts when it comes to parenting healthy and happy children:

DO: Make time with your child every day. Put the phone down and give your child some face-to-face attention.

DON’T: Protect kids from failure. Allow your children to make their own mistakes so they can learn from them. This will help them prepare for situations and learn to accept life’s realities, conflicts and consequences.

DO: Offer selective praise. For example. If your child received a 95 percent on a spelling test, you say, “I’m glad you worked so hard. Keep up the good work,” rather than “You are so smart!” It is better to praise for an action than for a result.

DON’T: Criticize and compare. Ignore things you don’t want to continue, and praise kids when they do things you want them to do.

DO: Show gratitude. Help your children show appreciation for nonmaterial things.

DON’T: Hide the negative. While it is great to share positive stories, negative ones are equally as important, because these illustrate perseverance and triumph.

DO: Prioritize your own friendships. Happy children have friends, so help your child develop his or her friendships. You can set a good example through interactions with your own friends.


Jennifer Bishop can be reached at mysouljunkie.com.

Astronauts like snacks too! Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

Walk in an Astronaut’s Moon Boots at Science Center’s New Space Exhibit

Astronauts like snacks too! Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

Astronauts like snacks too! Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

You know you are a child of the 80’s when your idea of a “dream summer” involved a trip to space camp.

I remember receiving that coveted color brochure in the mail and thinking it would be the coolest experience ever! My parents were probably thinking it would be one of the most expensive.

Now, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (SFSCA) in West Palm Beach is offering me (and my kids … I guess …) the chance to finally make my space camp dreams come true through its new exhibit: Astronaut. And for WAY less money than space camp. Woot woot!

Coming this fall and running through April 2018, Astronaut boasts 26 hands-on, interactive exhibits that show guests how it feels to live in outer space. Technically speaking, the exhibits will “relay the physical and psychological effects of living in microgravity and the technology required to complete space missions.” This immersive experience surrounds guests with replicas of the life-sized living quarters it takes to survive outside of the Earth’s (and Boca’s) atmosphere.

See for yourself how astronauts sleep in space. Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

See for yourself how astronauts sleep in space. Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

Lew Crampton, president and CEO of SFSCA says “our mission is to open every mind to science, and right now the skies are the limit when it comes to future possibilities for space travel. This exhibit takes us through the entire arc of what space travel holds forth for humans. From astronaut recruitment, testing and training—all the way to life on board the International Space Station.”

Anyone (like me!) who has ever wondered what it is like to sleep, eat, shower and use a toilet in space will finally get their burning questions answered!

Some of the Astronaut exhibit highlights include:

  • The “Training Zone,” which features some of the mundane challenges—like assembling nuts and bolts while wearing a space suit—involved in becoming a real astronaut.
  • A “Rocket Launch” area that stimulates blast-off, allowing guests to climb into a rocket and count down ’til liftoff. This area also shows visitors what it is like to sleep in space and grow foods in zero gravity conditions.
  • The “Space Lab,” which streams a live feed showing astronauts onboard the International Space Station going through their daily routines.

Get ready Boca moms, because come October 14th, Astronaut at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is sure to be an experience that is out of this world!

Kids play with toys that simulate changing gravities. Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.

Kids play with toys that simulate changing gravities. Photo provided by the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.


The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is at 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach. Admission to the SFSCA during Astronaut is $16.95 for adults, $12.95 for children ages 3 to 12 and $14.95 for seniors aged 60 and older. Science Center members and children under 3 are free. 

Visit www.modernbocamom.com for even more fun educational outings! And be sure to subscribe to Modern Boca Mom’s weekly e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/mbmsubscribe.

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.
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Boca Raton Library Offers Free, Online Foreign Language Tool For Kids

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Teaching your Boca kid a foreign language has never been easier

As parents, we all want our children to be successful in life—to have that extra “edge” that gives them a big boost in the job market of the future. Did you know that many of the careers our kids will have don’t even exist yet? I know blogging certainly wasn’t on the preferred job list of 1982, or even 2000 when I graduated from high school.

That’s why I’m teaching my 4-year-old daughter a foreign language in preparation for the future. You better believe she is taking Spanish in preschool! And now, foreign language education is accessible to all children in Boca Raton thanks to the Boca Raton Public Library.

The Boca Raton Library is offering online foreign-language learning to children of library patrons through KidSpeak for Libraries. They are partnering with RB Digital to bring this fantastic, free, educational addition to our city.

 

 

Combining animations with over 40 interactive activities, puzzles and songs, KidSpeak for Libraries makes learning a second language fun and easy. The courses offer three levels of difficulty, printable activities and learning exercises. And KidSpeak helps children build a solid foreign language foundation by using an immersive approach. Languages are hosted by fun cartoon “friends” and their playful pets, using only the foreign language being taught. Forget the dull, read-and-repeat approach your middle school teacher used!

Children will learn skills like alphabet and word recognition, understanding simple sentences, addition and subtraction, how to tell time, number recognition (matching numbers to written words) and correct pronunciation. Designed by leading educators for children 6 and older, KidSpeak for Libraries contains more than 700 words and expressions per language. Current available languages include English and Spanish, with Chinese expected to follow soon.

For more information, visit the Digital Library tab of the library’s website, bocalibrary.org.


 Check out www.modernbocamom.com for even more educational things to do with kids! And be sure to subscribe to Modern Boca Mom’s weekly e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/mbmsubscribe.

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.
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A Family Day in Portland, Maine

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Lobster, cool temperatures, fresh seafood, top notch museums and award-winning cuisine—wait, did I mention lobster? All of these things are available and more in Portland, Maine. The Greater Portland area (which encompasses the smaller city of Portland) houses almost one-fourth of the state’s population with about 230,000 residents, according to visitportland.com. It has also become a unique tourist destination for foodies, art aficionados and even sports fans, since the city is home to several minor league teams. Read more

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.
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Modern Boca Mom: Kids’ Must-Have Travel Products Volume 2

Father with kids looking at map while travel by car

Oops, we did it again. We traveled to Maine, road tripped for a week, drove tons of miles. Oh, Boca moms…

Summer travel with the family is an American tradition! Your kids have probably been out of school for a month now and the itch to leave South Florida’s heat behind for a few days (or weeks) is really starting to kick in. Each year, my husband, daughter and I drive up to Maine for vacation and make key stops along the way to break up the long journey.

Having taken this trip for a few years, I’ve picked up some travel hacks that I want to share with you, my fellow Boca travelers! If you purchase any of the items I mention through the links on this post, I will be compensated. But my opinions are always my own, and my recommendations always come from my personal experience with the products. And I recommend only the best for Boca moms!

If you dread moving your car seat from vehicle to vehicle…

Pack a BubbleBum! This is a must-have for road trips (for kids 40 pounds or more). It’s an inflatable car booster seat for kids aged 4-11 years, up to 100 pounds. Weighing in at less than one pound, BubbleBum inflates and deflates in minutes, making it super simple to throw in a backpack or travel tote. BubbleBum includes belt positioning clips in place of arm rests, so it’s possible to fit three boosters across the back seat of a car, minivan, or SUV. You can bring it on planes too!

If your child needs a designated activity station to stave off boredom…

Bring a lap desk. Your kids can watch movies on their laptop or iPad, eat, color, draw or play on this versatile item. And bonus? When you arrive at your destination, you can use it to check emails or field work emergencies. It’s not an ideal way to spend time on your vacation, but it happens. Right Boca moms? I love this one from Sofia + Sam because of the vast color selection and memory foam.

If you know snacks will solve a myriad of problems…

Stock a soft cooler. Bring ice packs you can re-freeze and make sure you have plenty of drinks and individually wrapped bags of chips, fruit, cookies—whatever you know will satisfy your little ones’ hunger on the road. Don’t forget to throw in a bottle of wine or two for when you arrive at your destination! And after the cooler is empty, simply flatten and place in the bottom of your suitcase.


Visit www.modernbocamom.com for even more travel tips, tricks and recommendations! And be sure to subscribe to Modern Boca Mom’s weekly e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/mbmsubscribe.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any items through the links provided, I will be compensated.

Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of ModernBocaMom.com, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.