Written by JENNIFER DUFFIELD, CO-OWNER/TEACHER, VAULTING FROGS PRESCHOOL
One of the greatest investments a parent, relative or caregiver can make in the lives of children is to take the time to read to them. So often we get caught up in the frenzy of daily tasks, work, calls, emails, chores, and even in the personal indulgence of the many forms of social media.
With these distractions we need to remember to create the time for simple pleasures and to slow down the pace in order to focus completely on our children. Reading to children shows them they are significant and deserve our uninterrupted attention.
When I asked my son what he wanted to do this summer, he chose yurt camping. It has been six years since our first attempt at “camping” two-kids-plus-one-mommy-style. We yurt camped at Tolt MacDonald in Carnation in 2008 when the kids were ages 7 and 3. This time we stayed close to home again, but headed north about 45 minutes. Destination: Kayak Point. New: Bring friends!
We drive to Kayak Point often. It has a fabulous playground and a beautiful beach to look for rocks, shells and wildlife. Visitors can camp, day camp, hike, golf nearby, boat, fish and go crabbing.
Are you looking for a fun activity to do with your child? A bean tepee is a magical place you can create easily for your children — and they can help make it! You can water the plants together during the next weeks and watch the tepee grow green and sprout tasty snacks. It will become a special hideaway for your child and a great way to get them excited about playing outside.
Are you looking for something fun for your teenager to do this summer? In addition to hanging with their friends, encourage them to learn some new life skills and register them for a cooking class at 21 Acres. Get them ready to help lend a hand in the kitchen on those busy weekday evenings once school starts again in fall. The “Cultivating Cooks” series of classes are offered on five Tuesday evenings in the 21 Acres Kitchen throughout the months of June, July and August from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and are geared for teens ages 12 through 19.
It’s an awe-inspiring experience to watch our children grow and transform before our eyes from fragile little newborns into strong, confident and talented young adults. Throughout their development, it’s important to take the time to celebrate all of life’s “firsts,” from their first steps all the way to their first day of college. All the while, it’s just as important to be planning ahead to set them up with the best chance of achieving these milestones.
One of the most important considerations for families to pay attention to as they prepare their children for the journey towards adulthood is that of the educational opportunities that will be available to them.
While there is not much debate about the importance of having access to a quality education, a significant blind spot for many parents is saving for future higher education expenses when their kids are still young. This is a story that Jackie Ferrado, the community relations manager for Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET) is all too familiar with. “As I travel throughout the state meeting with families, I often hear parents saying ‘I kept meaning to start their college savings, but just never got around to it,’ or ‘Our child is starting to look at colleges and all we can think is how are we going to afford this?’” Parents clearly know the value of saving for this major expense, but it can be difficult to connect intent with action, especially when college can seem so far away for a young child.
Delaying college savings efforts is an easy trap to fall into, but fortunately there are options for families, such as Washington’s GET Program, that take the pain out of getting started. As a 529 prepaid tuition plan, savings in a GET account grow tax-free and remain tax-free when withdrawn for qualified higher education expenses. Further, the program is unique in that the value of a GET account is guaranteed by the state of Washington to keep pace with rising tuition costs in our state. Since GET accounts are not subject to the ups and downs of the stock market, you have peace of mind knowing your money will be there when you need it. It’s also comforting to know that no matter whether your child decides to go to school, GET accounts can be used at nearly any public or private college, university or technical school in the country. Plus, if something unexpected comes up such as your child receiving a scholarship or deciding not to attend college, you can transfer the savings to another family member or even request a refund.
It’s easy to get started with the program and to continue building your college savings over time with flexible payment options, from pay-as-you-go lump sum deposits to custom monthly payment plans. And remember – when it comes to saving for college, you’re not alone. It’s becoming increasingly popular for grandparents and other family and friends to add to a child’s college savings. The gift of education is perfect for any occasion.
By starting college savings when your kids are young, you’re making a commitment to their future dreams and ambitions, and making the journey a bit easier by giving yourself plenty of time to add to your account. To learn more about GET and enroll online, visit www.get.wa.gov. GET’s annual enrollment period ends May 31, so now is the ideal time to take that first step and begin saving for your children’s future education.