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Education Featured gifted and talented Private Schools

Private Schools in Howard County Maryland

private schools in Howard County Maryland - Glenelg Country SchoolsLiving in Howard County Maryland means that the bar is set relatively high for public schools–not to mention private schools in Howard County.

By many standards, Maryland has some of the best public schools in the USA. And within Maryland Counties, the two top contenders are Montgomery County Public Schools and Howard County Public Schools.  So this is to say that Howard County’s schools are among the best in the country.

Still, to many parents there are a multitude of issues about both Howard County and Montgomery County Public Schools that drive them to look for alternatives.

For some there’s just general dissatisfaction with public school education.  This usually includes the feeling that the Common Core Curriculum, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top programs have taken the creativity and real learning out of schools, and substituted it with test preparation.

For others, they worry about the quality of teaching or they believe there is a lack of individualized attention for every kid due to large class sizes, and in the various other forms that might take.  Finally, there are people who realize that although the aggregate of Howard County education is relatively high quality in comparison to other jurisdictions in the state and country, individual public schools and classes fail to meet important standards or simply ignore the individuality of each student.

So what are the private school options if you’re in Howard County?

Here are the elementary, middle, and high school private school options I know of.  This list of private schools is not meant to contain every private school in the county, but I am happy to add a school if your favorite is missing–just message me below. By the way, if your child is younger than age 5, see my list of private preschools in Howard County.

Types of schools you’ll find below:

Unaffiliated Independent Private Schools in Howard County

Maryland International SchoolMaryland International School - Private School in Howard County Md
This is a STEM-focused, Montessori school in Elkridge, Md for grades 1-12. This is the only school in the region to offer 3 International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and the only school in the USA to do so as part of a STEM curriculum. This is great news because IB programs are known for their rigor and tend to be well designed.

At the elementary school levels, they are offering a Montessori-style education. At the middle school and high school level, it’s more of a traditional-style teaching program.

This school is definitely worth checking out, and tuition is reasonable. Younger grades can attend the affiliated Children’s Magnet Montessori School which is housed in the same building.

The school is expanding and plans to break ground on a multi-million dollar athletic center with a pool and basketball court soon.

Bus transportation is be provided for an extra fee and runs in Anne Arundel and Howard County.

Glenelg Country School review Glenelg Country School
Independent college prep school founded in 1954 offering preschool, lower school, middle school and High School.   They have small class sizes and very nice campus on 87 acres of wooded land in Ellicott City.  Glenelg is the largest independent school in Howard County, and definitely one of the larger private schools in Maryland.

Here is a link to the Glenelg tuition and financial aid information page.

Both of my girls attended this school for a few years. A very diverse group of kids come from all over the area including Silver Spring and Washington DC to attend this school. Bus transportation has stops in 6 Counties including places like Laurel, Catonsville, Ellicott City, and Olney and as far away as Mount Airy, New Market, Brookeville, Gaithersburg, and Odenton (Map of bus stops for 2017-2018 school year).

If you are considering a private school in Howard County, definitely see this one.  Also, have a look at their high quality summer camps.

Columbia Academy in Columbia, Md
Columbia Academy Elementary and Middle School Campus in Columbia, MD Near Route 29 at Route 32.

Columbia Academy
My own child went to this school for a year and we were very happy with it overall. Class sizes are very small and there were some very dedicated teachers who were willing to differentiate for my daughter because she was ahead of the class in many aspects.  As the name suggests, the main campus is in Columbia although they have several other preschool centers around Howard County.

Tuition is reasonable in the $10,000 dollar range and includes before care from 6:30am (after care until 6:30pm is around $2,000 extra).  They offer preschool through 8th grade.

There is bus service available and the school goes up to 8th grade.

BTW, I have visited the pre-K center in Fulton–Very nice facilities.

Fusion Academy – I honestly don’t know much about this school beyond a few comments from other parents and what their website says, but the model is definitely interesting. The classes are ALL ONE-ON-ONE: One teacher to one student. That could be really great for certain students. Definitely check out their website.

McDonough School in Owings Mills, Md
McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD

McDonogh School (in Baltimore County)
Very awesome school founded in 1873.

Bus transportation is available–they have buses that come to Howard County to pick kids up.  Great academics, huge pool, stables…wow!  I know some families with children here who are very happy.

Boarding is available for high school level students.  Here is a link to their tuition page.

[Looking for ideas for holiday or birthday presents for your gifted or talented child? See my list of present ideas.]

Montessori Schools

There are several Montessori schools of varying quality in our area, I found it hard to tell the good ones from the not so good ones. The schools listed here have students in at least the lower grades of elementary school. Montessori generally doesn’t go past sixth grade.

Love of Learning school in Columbia I have been told by several parents that this school is very good.  Comments welcome.

Bryant Woods – Another Montessori school that I have heard very good things about.  In Columbia. No before or after care (school hours from 8:45-3:45).

Columbia Montessori – Looks like it has some very good programs.

Mater Amoris – This school is in Olney, but not far from Howard County.  Looks like its programs are very good–I have heard positive things and seems like it may be worth the trip for some parents.  Goes up to sixth grade.

Children’s Manor and Childrens Magnet Montessori School – Locations in Elkridge, Columbia, and Ellicott City.  Goes up to 6th Grade. Children’s Magnet feeds into Maryland International School, which is housed in the same building. See above.

Christian / Catholic Schools

Our Lady of Perpetual Help – K-8 Catholic school – 2016 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Well regarded, and recently launched an innovative 1:1 Chromebook program for students in Grades 3-8.  Tuition information is here.

Sandy Spring Friends School – The Friends know how to teach.  If you’re comfortable in a Quaker atmosphere, this place is definitely great, and it certainly attracts a nice bunch of people.  Even though it isn’t in Howard County, it isn’t that far out of the way either.  I have heard very good things about this school.  BTW, they do offer boarding for high school level students.  Here is the Sandy Spring Friends school tuition information page.   Some bus transportation is available and they also offer boarding for older students. (There is another Friends School in College Park)

St. Louis School – Catholic K-8 education- Blue Ribbon school.   I have heard good things about it. Here is their tuition information, the rates are significantly cheaper than the independent schools listed above.

Trinity School – K-8 Catholic School in Ellicott City, Howard County.  This school is a bit unusual in that it is an independent Catholic school. That gives them some flexibility with the curriculum. If you are interested in Catholic education, this place is worth a look and has come highly recommended by some parents. No bus service provided. Here is their tuition and fee schedule.

Bethel Christian Academy– pre-K3-8th grade in Savage / Jessup.  I don’t know anyone who goes to this school but I do know one of the teachers and she speaks highly of it.  Class sizes vary.  Here is their tuition information.

St. John’s Parish Day School – k-5 Episcopal school in Ellicott City. Here is their tuition information.

St. Augustine Catholic School  Tuition and fees are low at this pre-k to grade 8 Catholic school in Elkridge.

Special Needs Schools

High Road Academy – In North Laurel, this is a school for kids with specific types of learning disabilities.  In order to attend, students must be referred by the public school system Grades 3-12.

Phillips School – In North Laurel, (Howard Co.) this school is for various special needs kids.  Grades 3-12.

Legacy School – In nearby Sykesville, in Carroll County, this school is especially for children with Dyslexia. Maintains a 3 to 1 student ratio.

Finding Out More About These Private Schools

All of these schools offer days when you can visit and see how classes are run.  You may also want to see if they have any public activities or summer camps that you can take part in to see how you like the school.

What’s your opinion?  Is there a school that I missed here? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Looking for a place to have a birthday party? See my list of over 35 birthday venues in Howard County, MD and more birthday ideas in Anne Arundel County. Also, see my list of educational gift ideas for advanced children.



Categories
Education gifted and talented Recommendations Reviews Technology

Getting the Most from your Rocketbook Notebook – A User Review with Tips

The Rocketbook Everlast and Rocketbook Fusion are a fantastic gift for the “wired” high school, college students, artists, and business people.

These notebooks put a new twist on taking notes in the more traditional way with pen and paper, while at the same time not being as onerous as using a tablet computer to take handwritten notes.

There are a few things that raise the value of this system:

  1. The spiral-bound notebook is made of paper-like plastic, rather than regular paper. This is great because it means that if you use the readily available Pilot Frixion Pens or Markers, anything written on the pages can be easily wiped away clean with a damp paper towel. So basically it means you can reuse the notebook over and over again. I love the feel of the special Pilot pens on this surface. It is smooth and fluid. I also appreciate the fact that the notebooks have some pages that use dots instead of lines. I prefer this because makes it easier to use the paper for a wide-variety of notes including drawings and landscape notes (as opposed to portrait) which definitely has come in handy.
  2. There are two sizes available: 8.5″x11″ and 6″x8.8″.Although there is a cool-factor to having the smaller size, I’d recommend going with the letter-size book. It’s slightly more expensive, but the added utility makes it worth it.
  3. Before you wipe away your notes with a wet cloth, you can use the Rocketbook app to photograph your work and automatically file it up to one of several services including Google Drive, DropBox, and Evernote, or just email the notes to yourself or a designated email address (perhaps use Gmail’s “+ addressing” as part of a filing system).
  4. The app includes handwriting recognition that incorporates artificial intelligence to improve the results. I have been using this feature and I must say it is pretty good–not perfect, but my writing certainly isn’t either. What it gives you (for now) is the ability to make your notes searchable once you scan them and email/file them in the cloud. That’s a huge step forward, and it’s definitely a welcomed feature.The notebook’s pages have a 7 symbols at the bottom of the page that when checked tell the system where to send your notes…You define the symbols in the app…that way, if you check one or more of the symbols, the app will automatically know where to email or upload your notes. Otherwise you have to do it manually once you’ve photographed the pages…kind of a waste of time since it can be automated.

These two parts taken together mean freedom for people like me who need to take lots of notes and actually keep track of the resulting work for future reference.

Here are a few points that may help you understand the way you can make use of the Rocketbook system:

  • The Rocketbook system let’s you work in a nonlinear way–since the notes will be sent to the cloud, you don’t necessarily have to use contiguous pages to track the same topic–you just have to send the right pages to the right place in the cloud and then possibly further organize them from there.
  • You may want to consider adding a pen holder to your Rocketbook.
  • If you don’t plan to fill the notebook before you photograph it, or if you need to erase some notes but aren’t ready to erase others, you’ll need some sort of system to identify which notes have already been photographed.
    I keep it simple–I just use the upper right hand corner of the page to put the date and circle it after I capture the page so I will know it’s safe to erase.
  • There are a wide variety of Pilot Frixion pens and markers available from retailers including Amazon.com. They come in different colors, sizes, and tips.
  • I learned from the “A Life of Productivity” blog, that it’s better to use the Pilot Frixion 0.5 tipped pens–they dry faster and obviously don’t make your writing as thick. This solves a problem that I have also noticed: it takes a few seconds for the ink to dry on the page–I’ve definitely smudged a few notes with the default 0.7 pen that ships with the Rocketbook.
    I have a few of the .5 tipped pens, and it is clearly an improvement. I also appreciate the fact that I can take up less space with a fine tip.
  • Rename your files when they reach the cloud. For instance with Google Drive, you would want to rename them and possibly move them into a more precise folder.You will want give the files some kind of descriptive name to help you to know the contents of the notes and the order that they’re meant to be read.  If you always write about a particular subject, you may be able to leverage the symbols system to always file particular types of notes to a particular place/folder…so that can save some time.
  • The Rocketbook people also have another notebook that is possibly more well-known than this one called “The Rocketbook Wave.”It is cool in that you erase the notebook by microwaving it, however it may only be able to be used a few times.Aside from that, the idea behind the notebook is basically the same as the Rocketbook Everlast.
  • One final tip: The day is going to come when you’re going to make a little mistake in your notebook and you’re going to want to erase. It would be simple to just use the eraser that is on the other side of your pen. Don’t Do That. If you do, you’re going to mess up the coating on the notebook. I know it’s a pain to use a damp cloth to get to just one small area of the notebook, but still don’t erase the regular way. If this comes up for you alot, you might find something like this aqua eraser which could work in some cases.
  • Stickers like post-it notes seem to mess up the notebooks. It’s unfortunate because one thing that’s missing is a good way to bookmark or divide up the Rocketbook…but try to avoid putting these to use in your notebook.
Categories
Education gifted and talented preschool Private Schools

List of Outstanding Preschools In Howard County Maryland

Pre-School in Howard County MD - Glenelg Country School

There are many options for preschools in Howard County, Maryland.

Finding the right fit can be difficult. It is not always easy to know which school to trust with your young children. You want to find a school with smart teachers who will be able to recognize your child’s talents and skills and bring them up from there.

Preschool should be fun, but hopefully your child will be involved in both learning fun and play fun, or both.

To help you with finding the best preschools, I have created a list of some of the top pre-K / preschool programs in Howard County.

Note that some of these schools have pre-K for various ages younger than 4, in fact some of them may be able to take kids that are younger than 1. If I don’t mention which age the school starts, please contact the school.

Also, the schools below have not paid me to list them. I have handpicked them. If you know of one that I should be aware of and possibly mention here, please submit a comment.

Bryant Woods Montessori School – One of the best Montessori schools in Howard County.  Education starts at age 3 and goes to age 6 in this school located in Columbia.

Children’s Manor Montessori School – This school has several locations throughout Maryland, including three in Howard County including Columbia, Ellicott City, and the differently named Children’s Magnet School in Elkridge.  Montessori is a great option to consider. The Children’s Magnet Montessori School feeds into Howard County’s newest private schoolThe Maryland International School in Elkridge, which is based on the International Baccalaureate program and has an emphasis on STEM education.

Columbia Academy – Columbia Academy has several preschool childcare center facilities around Howard County.  Their newest building is very nice and is located in Maple Lawn.  This school also has a campus that services kindergarten to 8th grade.  They are able to accept infants for daycare.

Glenelg Country School – Located in a rural area of Ellicott City, Glenelg Country School provides a comprehensive experience for kids.  This is a college prep school that goes all the way from pre-K3 to 12th grade.  They also offer a full-day pre-K4 program called Pre-K4 Plus.

If you like the idea of a private independent education for your child, Glenelg is definitely worth considering in Howard County.  They have modern facilities and and a beautiful 90-acre campus.  There are lots of enrichment activities for the preschoolers at this school.

Glenwood Country Day School – Campus in Woodbine in Western Howard County.  If this is a convenient school for you, program for ages 2-5.

Longfellow Nursery School – This is a non-profit, co-op. Looks like they have a good program.

Public School Employees Child Development Program – This preschool is meant mainly for the children of Howard County Public School teachers and staff.  Although Howard County Public Schools employees’ kids are given preference anyone can apply to send their kids here.    The caveat is that Howard County School’s academic schedule is followed — so that means, for example, no classes over the summer.

On the other hand, if you want to send your kids to preschool but not over the summer, this might be perfect for you as you’ll find that many schools may not hold your place if you withdraw your child over the summer months.  There are six locations in Howard County, all but one of them is inside of a high school, the other is at the Cedar Lane School in Fulton.

More Private Schools in Howard County

Want a broader list of private schools in Howard County?  Here is a list of great private schools.

Also,  here is some information if you have an exceptional student with a late birthday and are wondering about getting early admission to Kindergarten in Howard County.

Also, check out my list of educational gift ideas for brainy kids and ideas for birthday party locations in Howard County, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

Categories
kids activities Parenting

Five Ideas to Keep a Digital Record of Your Child’s Growth and Best Memories

I love the idea of keeping track of my kid’s best memories, growth, and accomplishments with a digital record. Below are some ideas I use in hopes of creating future-proof records for family and friends to enjoy.

  1. Conduct a yearly video interview with your child. We do ours every New Year’s eve. Sometimes it can be difficult to think of questions to ask. I always ask about how school was going, their favorite teachers and classes, but I like to include more philosophical questions as well. This year, I asked my friends on Facebook for help. I got some great ideas:

“Do you feel the movie Wonder Woman empowers girls & young women to be smart & strong?”
(Jeff)

“Do you think Mariah Carey nails her New Years singing after last years debacle ??”
(Tom)

“2017 was the year of the fidget cube, fidget spinner, slime, and squishies.
Which was your favorite, and why? What do you predict will be the next kid craze?”
(Jennifer S)

Heather:
* What advice would you give your parents?

* What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now?

* Why do you like being your age?

* What is your happiest memory?

* Who do you like to hang out with the most?

* What is your favorite thing to wear?

“What traits do you value in your friends? What do you like about yourself?”
(Mary Anne)

“If you could meet one person who would it be?” (Leigh De)

“What is your favorite meal, including beverage and dessert? “(Melissa)

“Are there any accomplishments that you will be striving for this year? “(Svetlana)

“What are your favorite words? Least favorite words this year?”

2) Like the other ideas, this isn’t original, but it’s a great way to keep track of your kid’s accomplishments–set up an email address on Gmail when they are born (may improve the chances of them getting something remotely close to their name. And whenever you have a thought about them, or they’ve reached a milestone, accomplishment, etc, you can email accolades and artifacts to that address. When they reach the right age, give them the username/password to the account. If you’re going to do this with Gmail, you need to use the Family Link feature. Otherwise, you’ll have an issue when you put in their birthday–you need to be 13 to have a full Gmail account!

3) Tag them in their Facebook photos. Eventually they’ll have an account and they can go through and see.

Photo Wall of Childhood Pictures4) Take a yearly photo for a photo wall. The secret to this idea is to purchase a whole bunch of matching picture frames that you’ll store until they’re needed. Each year, take a photo of your child for the wall. This could be done by taking “the same” photo every year as they age, or by just selecting one or two of the best photos from every year to put on the wall.

5) Use Google Photos to Back Up Photos of Events and Great Times. Google photos is an excellent way to backup all of the photos you take, especially those taken with your mobile phone. Aside from being free, several other things make it great:

  1. Any photo you take with your phone can automatically be backed up to the cloud.
  2. Google has done an amazing job of making the photos searchable–you can search for things that are IN the images (that you haven’t tagged with text)…want to find photos of people on the beach? Just search for beach. Want to find photos of people on the beach wearing sunglasses? You can search for that too.
  3. Google’s photo assistant will automatically gift you with animations and videos. It will even find similar photos of when your kids were younger and create a new photo that shows the old picture and new picture side-by-side. It also makes videos about my kids…since it knows their faces, it finds pictures of them and puts them together in a video with music and transitions (it also recognizes family pets–I get an occasional “meow movie”).

6) Use Google Photos to Back Up Art and Writing – Google Photos is also a great way to backup your child’s artwork, writing and other school projects.

If you’re like most parents, it can be difficult to part with the various schoolwork projects your child brings home. On the other hand, after you have accumulated boxes and boxes of art, it becomes a bit of a space issue, and perhaps in some cases a fire hazard.

Snap a photo or two using your phone’s camera or using Google’s special app just for taking photos of documents. If it happens that the item in question was created digitally, just make a folder in your Google Drive to house it.  Eventually, you’ll want to just share that Google Drive directory or photo album with your child’s Gmail account (when they finally have their own.)

Categories
Reviews Technology

Review of the Ecovacs Deebot N79 Robotic Vacuum

tldr; The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is a worthy robotic vacuum that may not be as smart as some of its competitors but it definitely has a great feature set and does an excellent job of its primary job–it is a really good vacuum.

My daughter asked for a robotic vacuum cleaner for her 9th birthday. (Looking for better gift ideas for a gifted and talented student? [Opens in a new window]) A strange request, but my wife and I were talking about getting one anyway, and the birthday wish was the push we needed to finally look into it and make a decision as to which robot vacuum to purchase. There are several competitors, and among the competitors there are different price points and features. It was difficult to decide.

We mainly considered the Roomba  and  Ecobots offerings. They seemed to get the most favorable reviews. We were especially interested in the Roomba model that Costco sells (Not a member of Costco? See my review!), but since we weren’t really sure how much use we’d get out of it, we didn’t want to shell out nearly $400 for it. So we decided to look for something cheaper.

As we looked at the various models, we considered whether they would be able to interoperate with our Google Home, whether they had the ability to mop the floor as well as vacuum, and how well other reviewers received the devices. We eventually settled on the Ecobots N79 and purchased it from Amazon. We loved the fact that former Roomba owners endorsed it, and were sold when we read the review from the woman who left  her sliding glass door open and found it outside dutifully cleaning her patio until it got stuck in some lava rocks.

The Deebot N79 was easy to setup and get it going. It comes with a charging station and a tool used to clear hair, etc, from its rotating brush and to clean off the filter intake. The first time we ran it, we were extremely impressed, if not a bit mortified by the amount of cat hair and crud it picked up before heading back to it’s charging station about an hour later.  We don’t keep the tidiest house, but we do vacuum and we didn’t think there would be so much invisible debris. It didn’t stop there though. It’s holding tank was stuffed full the next few times we ran it–I am sure it sucked up an entire cat’s worth of cat hair…and much more. To be fair to us, the robot is able to slip under our sofas and is rather persistent about trying to get into various corners we may often miss.

Certainly, one of the things we like about this model is that it has a low profile so it can get under the sofas.  It also can slip between our dining room chairs which means it does a decent job of cleaning up after dinner. It has side-brushes that stick out and sweep crumbs into its rotating brush path (also a distinguishing feature as many of the competing units don’t use a spinning brush). We also like the fact that it can be programmed to start automatically at a certain time of day either via the included remote control or from a free Android/iOS app which can trigger a vacuuming from anywhere you have an internet connection.

The Deebot N79 seems to be very durable and determined to do it’s job. I really like the fact that it is really easy to change and clean it’s brushes. Even the main roller brush has a compartment that easily snaps open, so it makes it easy to clean off hair that gets wrapped around it etc (and they also include a tool that helps you cut off hair without taking out the brush too. Also, it is no problem to change its air filter–again you just snap open a chamber on the dirt collection box and you can just put in a new one.

The Ecovacs app includes a timer that tells you when to officially change certain parts (like the side brushes or the air filter). The box we got came with 2 extra side brushes and an extra air filter. And when you need additional parts for the vacuum they are readily available on Amazon, and aren’t that expensive.

As you can tell I am genuinely happy with our purchase, however everything isn’t perfect about the vacuum. Unlike some of its competitors this device is rather dumb. It runs in random patterns and redirects itself if it approaches something it can “see” in its path such as something tall like a wall, sofa leg, a person or the top of a staircase. It doesn’t always see things ahead of time but if it runs into something it is a relatively harmless bump that turns it around and sends it in another direction.

While some of it’s more expensive competitors can map your house and know which areas it has done recently, this one is clueless. Still, in an average session, it seems to find its way all over the place. So even though it doesn’t have all the smarts, its cleaning algorithm seems to get it around to enough places so that it is still effective. It handily gets between our hard wood floors, our area rugs, and the shag carpet in our bedrooms–this is something that apparently can’t be said of certain competing robotic vacuums.

This review would be remiss if I didn’t include a sort of warning for new owners. You kind of have to “clean up” for this robot if you want to get the most out of it and/or don’t want to risk certain belongings getting chewed up by it. We’ve had two occasions so far where this became an issue. One time it made it’s way into our bedroom and found a dress that was touching the floor in the closet. It did manage to suck it into it’s brush and apparently tried to get away with it. It didn’t end very well for the dress. The vacuum’s consumable side brush got a bit torn up in that tif as well.

Another time our indoor welcome mat got sucked in and dragged around until the robot stopped and shut itself down. This probably wouldn’t have happened, but our mat had become a bit disheveled. The point is that you have to get certain things out of the robot’s way or it is going to try to “neutralize” it. So before you decide to buy one of these, look around your house and think about what may need to be picked up before vacuuming. If you have chairs whose legs are too close together, that could also be something you’d have to move out of its way if you’d like it to clean in that area.

[Looking for gift ideas for the smart kids in your life? See my hand-picked list of educational toys that make excellent birthday or holiday gifts.]

This should be obvious, but the robot can’t go down stairs by itself. So if you have a multi-level dwelling, you will need to physically move the robot yourself and turn it loose. It won’t be able to find its way back to the charger if you do this, so it will eventually just die someplace and let out a sad beep to make you aware of its failure. Certainly it is worth the effort to move it to another level for a while and let it do its thing while getting a break from the usual scenery.

There is another odd foible about this vacuum that I would like to mention. You can use the app to schedule vacuum sessions ahead of time at different times of day/days of the week, etc. It isn’t that much work, but in an instant, your schedule can potentially disappear. If for some reason you decide to use the robotic vacuum’s On/Off switch to toggle the power–something that there is rarely a valid reason to need to do–your schedule will be toast. That makes absolutely no sense and I hope they will fix the problem at some point.

It seems to me that if the app in your phone knows what the schedule was, it could easily re-download it to the vacuum’s memory at next opportunity. But for now, if you toggle the power on the vacuum, and return to the app, your schedule will also be removed from there…and you’ll have to recreate it. Rather a pain.

In spite of that and the above detractors, I definitely do recommend this vacuum. At the price, you probably won’t have an easy time finding something that is as reliable and capable. Don’t take my word for it, you’ll definitely want to have a read over the other reviews on Amazon.

 

 

Categories
Food Nutrition Recommendations Save Money

Top 5 Places To Buy Fruit, Vegetables & Other Produce in Maryland


If your family is like ours, we eat lots of fruit and vegetables.  We especially like to buy fresh organic fruits and produce when possible, but we also like to keep the costs under control.

Below are my top recommendations for where to buy produce, plus some bonus tips on how to get great veggies for lower prices in Maryland.  Read further for some great kitchen gadgets to help you make the most of your produce:

1) You can subscribe to a weekly fruit and vegetable box delivery. We’ve been using Hungry Harvest to get weekly organic deliveries. The company drops the box on our porch every Friday. We can pick the items we want to have in our box week by week.

This particular company says they give you cheaper prices because they deliver “ugly” fruits and vegetables. We haven’t really found this to be the case for the most part for our organic box. We suspect it may be more likely that we’d get less attractive fruits if we subscribed to their non-organic offering. Sometimes we do see things in the box that are a bit undersized, but mostly it’s just the normal stuff you’d get in the supermarket. (And some things you wouldn’t find there at all.)

Often we get unusual fruits and vegetables that you don’t normally find in regular grocery stores. Things like sunflower greens and fresh bay leaves. Again, we get these by choice — you can select the items you want for each delivery.

Hungry Harvest has a warehouse near me in Jessup and they employ local drivers to drop off the fruit and vegetable boxes in each neighborhood. I spoke to our driver today and she said it’s really exploding in popularity.

She said she had 60 deliveries just today in Columbia alone. I know a few people who use this service and also like it. If you’re interested, please use this link to sign up-We will both get a $10 credit on our next order

Each produce box you get comes with a gel ice pack. So if you decide to order from Hungry Harvest, be sure and save your ice packs and return them…just leave them on your porch on the drop off day and the driver will get them. They prefer them to be thawed out and dry.

vidalia onions at Costco Wholesale Warehouse2) Shop at Costco warehouse stores.  We love shopping at Costco (Read my review and list of organic foods available there).

One of the great things is that they stock lots of organic fruits and vegetables, both fresh and frozen.  Availability varies from store to store, but at the Costco in Columbia, MD they reliably have organic bananas, gala apples, “power greens” (Kale, spinach), and frozen organic corn as well as pineapple and various berries.

Another great thing about Costco is that it is more Earth-friendly to purchase in bulk.  I highly recommend Costco for everyone, you don’t have to purchase very much food there to make up for the membership price.   Find a Costco location near you.

Spring Onions 7 bunches for $1 at Super Best Asian Market
Green Onions
at a
Maryland
Asian
Market

3) Shop at Asian or International markets.  There are many of these in Maryland.  One of the better ones is Lotte, but also in Laurel there is the Super Best. We are always surprised at the cheaper prices at Super Best–but note that we tend to find that the items we buy there need to be consumed quickly as the cheapest items tend to be near the end of their shelf lives.

There are plenty of other Asian markets around…for example H-mart and Lotte in Ellicott City/Catonsville. And my current favorite Great Wall in Catonsville. You won’t find very much in the way of organics, but you will find a huge, unusual variety of fruits and vegetables and they’re suspiciously cheap.  For example 3 bunches of green onions for $1. If you live in Columbia, you may want to visit La Mart.  To find your nearest Asian market, just Google Asian Market in your city/state.

3) Get your fruits and vegetables wholesale by the case. Wholesale fruit markets aren’t for the faint of heart.  You need to have time and a sense of adventure to make this happen, but it definitely does pay off.  In Jessup, Maryland there are two places where consumers can go  to get wholesale produce at the central distribution point.

That’s right you can go the place supermarkets and restaurants get their fruits/vegetables and save.  Below is a video that explains what to do if you decide to go to the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market – Conowingo Drive, Jessup Maryland.  Note that when you go, you should probably expect to pay with cash and you’ll have to stop at a guard gate to explain what you’re doing there.

If you’re mainly interested in organic produce, you’ll want to visit Class Produce.  Class Produce isn’t far from the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market, but it is a bit easier to access. Class does take credit cards and my experience with the staff there is that they are very helpful and welcoming to families who want to purchase wholesale.

It is very important to note that you really need to place your order ahead of time.  Visit their website to get more information and to request a current price list.  They are located at  8477 Dorsey Run Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401 in an industrial area.   (410) 799-5000.

PRO TIP
: For the freshest perishable fruits and vegetables (ie-berries) arrange for pickup on Mondays or Tuesdays.  It seems that Class produce and other wholesale sellers get their deliveries late Sunday nights, so it’s strategic to pick up your fruits and veggies early in the week to get the freshest foods possible.

4) Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group or “farm share”.  Local produce is delivered to your home or central location at predetermined intervals.  This is a great way to get super-fresh food and help keep local farming viable.

A great example of a well run CSA program is Gorman Farm, which is kind of on the border of Columbia and Laurel. You have to be on the ball to get into a CSA program–there is a window of time when you can sign up each year and generally there aren’t many openings because of course the farms don’t produce an unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables each year. There are lots of these but here is a list that the Washington Post provided a few years ago.

5) Shop for fruits and vegetables at farmers markets.  There are a few farmer’s markets around Howard County that have fairly decent variety and prices.  Locations sometimes change but for instance the Howard County General Hospital and the Miller Library are two reliable places to find markets.  Here is a resource with an up-to-date list with hours and days (typically farmers markets take place once per week in the specified location).

PRO TIP: 
One great thing about Farmer’s markets is the ability to actually talk to the people who grew the crops.  This means that often you’ll be able to get a pretty good idea of how pesticide-happy the farmer was when growing them–often you will find a farmer who is actually using organic farming methods but who hasn’t yet been certified in organics and that can lead to significant savings.

Bonus Tip: Not-So-Cheap Fruit and Vegetable Options: Grow your own.  Ok, this isn’t directly buying fruits or vegetables, and it can in fact be expensive rather than cheap, but it is fun, educational and great exercise to have a garden.

If you’re new to gardening, you might want to have a look at the home gardening programs and information provided by the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension–it is a great resource.  If you live in outside of Maryland, check with your state’s department of agriculture for similar programs.

This year we got 3 Aerogardens hydroponic systems, so we’re growing year round now. At the moment, we are raising Italian herbs (parsley, thyme, mint, two kinds of basil…and had the cat not eaten it, we would also have chives), roma tomatoes, and chamomile. Miracle Grow is the manufacturer and they definitely do make it easy.

Unfortunately, even though the plants don’t need any herbicides or pesticides (since they’re grown indoors), the required nutrients that you add to the water isn’t organic. We aren’t that concerned about this, but I am trying to determine whether there is an organic substitute we can use. Having said that, we REALLY love the Aerogardens. My favorites are the tomatoes and basil. The basil grows like crazy!

There are different price points for getting an Aerogarden. The Aerogarden Elite takes 6 seed pods, and gets great reviews. There is also a 9-pod system that may be worth consideration, especially if space is not an issue.

Pick your own strawberries - box of strawberries

Bonus #3 Also in the expensive rather than cheap column, but worth it is a trip to Larriland Farm in Northern Howard County to pick a variety of fruits and vegetables.  They have apples, peaches, broccoli, kale, spinach, melons, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and more. Check their website to see what is ready for picking.

BTW, Larriland Farm uses “integrated pest management” which they say means that they use much less pesticides than a typical farm.  I have spoken to them about this several times and they say that they mostly only use pesticides when they have severe problems.  It may not be organic farming, but at least this sounds like a huge improvement over the norm.  You can read about how Larriland uses this system here.  There are many pick your own farms throughout the USA–here is a curated list.

BTW, here are some of the gadgets I recommend that are great to have in the kitchen when cooking with produce:

  • InstantPot – This is a digital pressure cooker/slow cooker/rice maker/yogurt maker and more. We use ours every day. Here is my full review of the Instant Pot.
  • Vitamix or Blendtec blenders – You’ll love making smoothies and vegetable soups in these professional blenders.
  • Spiralizer – This is a three-blade spiral slicer for vegetables. So many fun things you can do with this including zucchini noodles.
  • Julienne peeler – This is a great way to peel veggies.
  • Corn Stripper – Well, the name makes me laugh, but it’s a great way to get the corn off the cob.
  • Produce bags – These bags will help keep your produce fresh much longer.
  • Juicepresso – A great way to juice. Definitely an improvement over our Jack La Lane.
Categories
Columbia Maryland Education kids activities

School’s Out and Spring Break Camps in Howard County Maryland 2019 – 2020 School Year

Looking for ideas for what to do with your kids when schools are closed for special days off in Howard County during the 2019 – 2020 school year?

Here are a few of the organizations that I know of that can provide care and learning during days off such as spring break, fall break, teacher in-service days, and other days off during the school year.

  1. Idea Lab Kids – Kids take STEM classes including 3D printing, coding, cooking, chemistry, and more. Located in Columbia near Red Branch Road on Route 108.
  2. Howard County Conservancy – Great camps my kids really enjoy these. Beautiful locations in Elkridge and Woodstock.  For example, this year, on the break for September 30, 2019, they have a reasonably priced called “Gardens Galore” that seems like loads of fun!.
  3. Club Science Kids – I love these camps and so do my kids. Great organization. Your child is going to have a great time and they will learn some STEM! Camps are located in various places including the Maryland International School in Elkridge. Check their calendar. Looks like they have some great options for October 9, 2019 when school is closed…but they also have opportunities during winter and spring break.
  4. Camp IO – Yoga, art & science. Great combination. Great camps.
  5. Active Kids Camp – They have a variety of sports camps. You may need to look around their site for this year’s camps.
  6. Howard County Recreation and Parks – Always a good choice. They have many choices, from sports to science.
  7. Columbia Association – CA is offering a few camps over school breaks. These vary. Please check their page for a list of upcoming “school’s out” camps. Options at several locations.[Upcoming Birthday Party? See my huge list of places to hold a birthday party in Howard County, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County]
  8. Columbia Horse Center – Spring Break is a great time to learn to ride horses.
  9. Terrapin Adventures – Check with Terrapin Adventures to see if they are holding Spring Break camp this year.[Looking for birthday party ideas for your kids? See my curated list of ideas!]
  10. Lifetime Fitness – Lifetime Fitness in Columbia offers some worthwhile camps for days off and for summer break.
  11. Hwarang Martial Arts – Karate day camps on days off.
  12. Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County (SAC) – Full and half day sessions with before/after care. Day off sports clinics $70/day and Spring break camp is $250 for full day (price may change)
  13. Kid Museum – Outside of Howard County in Bethesda, Md, but possibly worth the trip, especially if you happen to work in Montgomery County. Kid Museum has some great offerings for camps.
  14. Brickz for Kids – Lego camp held at the Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City. These look like great fun at reasonable prices!
  15. Howard County Youth Program Basketball Camp – Boys and girls camps held at Centennial High School in Ellicott City.
  16. Drama Learning Center – Drama camps – Located on  Red Branch Rd near Route 108.
  17. Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts – Located on Dobbin Road, this venue has after school programs and camps for middle and elementary schoolers.
  18. Howard County Schools – Howard County Schools may offer sports camps on days school is closed. Check their website for schedules and locations.
  19. Silver Knights Chess and Programming Camps – They offer camps during Spring Break only in Howard County (last year at the Roger Carter Center in Ellicott City). Check the link above to see if they have added any local day off camp programs as they have them in some locations.

Looking for Summer Camps? See my list of great summer camps in Howard County Md. Alot of these camps would also be great ideas for birthday party ideas. See my complete list of Howard County party ideas for kids.

I also maintain a list of party ideas for Baltimore County and birthdays for Anne Arundel County. I also have a list of restaurants that are great for kids in Howard County.

Help me build this list of schools out day camps. If you know of other places that offer camp during school vacations, days schools are closed, or breaks, let me know!

Categories
kids activities Parenting Phone Bills Technology

Parental Control Apps to Monitor and Control Your Child’s Screen Time

As a parent, I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did. Screens have invaded the minds of my two girls, and I needed to get control over it. Since my kids switch between a few devices and types, I needed to use a combination of things to reign this in. Here is what I was up against:

  1. Mobile Phones – My kids both have mobile phone devices from Republic Wireless. That means they can use either mobile data plans or WiFi to access the internet. I needed to be able to control the apps they use, the time of day they can use them, the websites they visit, and be able to update the time they can use these devices as needed, such as when the schedule changes temporarily or to reward good behavior.
  2. Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets – The cost of the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets is so low (especially on Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday or if you get a refurbished unit) that we got one for each of them. They also got Amazon Freetime Unlimited for Kids so they do lots of reading on the devices. But they also spend time doing other things including using some educational apps that I recommend anytime, and some not-so-educational things, like watching Rhett and Link videos on YouTube.
  3. Chromebooks-I LOVE chromebooks in case you were wondering. They are quick, virus-free, and reliably do what they are designed to do–run a chrome web browser and Google Docs. Unfortunately, the parental control options are quite limited, so this required some thought.

The parental control that works for us

Given the mix of devices above, there isn’t one complete solution. Especially because of the mobile data on the kids’ phones, I needed to come up with something extra for that, but here is what works in our household:

Google WiFi – I have to say I am very pleased with Google’s WiFi product. It was easy to setup and depending on the size of your home, you can add additional “nodes” around the house to get full coverage–it sets up a mesh network around your home very easily.  You can purchase either one node at a time or buy them in sets of three. Three will do quite well for most medium and larger homes. Once you’ve setup your Google WiFi, you control it through an app on your phone. Among other things, that app allows you to easily pick out devices on your network and schedule the time they are able to access Wifi. For most of the things my girls do on their Chomebooks, Phones, no WiFi means things aren’t going to work. They definitely won’t be watching videos on YouTube for example if they have no WiFi. This takes care of alot of the issue, but not all of it.

Parental Time Limit App for iPhone and Screen Time – I really like this kid-supervision app. It is installed on the mobile phones and works on Android and iOS devices. It allows us to set a limit for the total amount of time the kids can spend on their phone using apps. You can restrict app installs, and set limits for specific apps. You can also use this app to schedule the time the phones can be used.

There is an easy “pause” button that allows you to turn off access on the kids’ phones–great for dinnertime. When you click it, you can set the amount of time the phone will be in pause mode. You can also add time if you like. In fact, one great feature is that you can setup tasks that. The app costs about $4/month with discounts for multi-month purchases.

There is a limited free version of the app that will let you get the hang of the app, and is potentially all you need.

Kid’s FreeTime App – This is specific to the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. It is more difficult to use than the ScreenTime app mentioned above, however the basic version is free and included with the Kindle Fire Tablets. It limits time in apps, and also prevents kids from installing their own apps or books. The Kid’s FreeTime Unlimited add-on allows kids to choose their own books and movies based on Amazon’s pre-selected titles that it feels are okay for children.

Categories
Columbia Maryland Food kids activities Nutrition

Great Restaurants in Howard County for Kids

My family is always working on finding the restaurants in Howard County that offer the best experience and best quality food for our family lunch and dinner outings.

[Looking for summer camps and school’s out camp ideas?]

It’s easy to go to the usual suspect restaurants such as Friday’s and Red Robin, but there are other great restaurants that you and your kids may enjoy. Below find a few of the favorites my family enjoys.

  • Cava Grill (Columbia) – This is currently my favorite fast-casual restaurant. They offer Greek food Chipotle-style. You and your family get a healthy meal and they have great beverages such as cucumber mint or rosemary blackberry.

    If the line is long, don’t worry, it moves fairly quickly and even if you have to wait 10 minutes or so, it’s worth the wait. Kid’s meals are available. It may be a small stretch for some kids to enjoy the food here, but it’s fresh, delicious, and high quality. 

    Check out the menu and location. There are several other options in that shopping center just in case (Noodles and Company, Chipotle, Modern Market, and Jimmy Johns).

  • Chipotle (Columbia) – I always enjoy a meal at Chipotle. If your kids like Mexican food, especially burritos or quesadillas, they’ll like it here. Conveniently located right next door to Cava Grill off of Dobbin Road in Columbia.
  • Clyde’s (Columbia) – A little upscale, but a nice place to take kids. Time it right and you can do some paddle boating around the lake or go for a walk on the trail before or after your meal. If you’re there on the right nights, you may see a concert in the amphitheater. As a bonus, you can walk over to Whole Foods.

[Looking for great birthday party ideas? See my list of over 35 great places to hold a kid’s party in or near Howard County]

  • Cheesecake Factory (Columbia) – Aside from the obvious desserts, there are some healthy options here. Kids enjoy the atmosphere and love checking out the cheesecake case and whip cream dispenser behind the counter.
  • Noodles and Company (Columbia) – If you’re feeling like pasta, this is a great choice. Also in the same shopping center as Cava Grill and Chipotle.
  • Jason’s Deli (Columbia)- I like the menu at this restaurant in Columbia. There is plenty of good quality food and even a salad bar. I always enjoy going here and my kids do too. The fact that they offer free soft-serve ice cream cones is a fantastic bonus.
  • Uma Uma (Ellicott City) – We enjoy Ramen Noodle Night at home, and certainly do like to go out to a restaurant that adds an authentic experience. Really the only thing on the menu here is variations of Ramen Noodle soup, and there isn’t really a kid’s menu, AND you won’t find much in the way of your typical dessert items either, but still a great experience.

    Having said that, I’d have to warn you that this could be a bit risky with some kids. The food here is different, and your child at least needs to like soup with noodles to like this place!

  • Eggspectation  (Ellicott City) – Lots of great food here including healthy smoothies and foods. Definitely more than just breakfast though. Open for dinner. Check for a Groupon.
  • Great Sage (Clarksville) – Get your vegan on. Nice atmosphere for kids and families. Great menu. Nice staff.
  • Seasons 52 (Columbia) – Upscale. Great food quality in a cosy atmosphere. Good for older kids. Might be “too much” for younger kids. The dessert’s here are terrific. I recommend the pecan pie glass.
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy (Columbia) – Upscale Italian. Nice atmosphere, decent kids menu (provided your kids like pasta). Sometimes they even have classes for kids on Saturday mornings.
  • Silver Diner (Columbia or Greenbelt) – Silver Diner has been around the Maryland-DC-VA area for decades. And lucky for us, they finally have a Columbia, MD location near the Costco and Lowe’s. Silver Dinner offers a great farm-fresh menu and has some more unusual options for kid’s meals. In my opinion, they have one of the best kid’s menus of all… and it is a fun, traditional diner atmosphere.
  • Bonus 1: Toby’s Dinner Theatre – This can be a great experience for kids, depending what’s playing. They change the offering regularly, so if the show isn’t specifically a kid’s show, your best bet would be to “Google” it to see what other parents are saying. The food at Toby’s is “okay” buffet food. It’s underwhelming to say the least, and I’ve never felt the urge to go back for 2nds. That said, this can be fun and enriching.
  • Bonus 2: The Meadows Custard – This is a well kept secret in Hickory Ridge. Amazing custard and Italian Ice. Better than competitors. Highly recommended.

Looking for great educational gifts for kids? See my list of over 70 handpicked gift ideas for birthdays, Christmas, and Hanukkah.

Categories
Reviews Technology

Google Home for Kids

We recently added a Google Home to our household. We’ve all been having alot of fun with it and I think it’s very useful for families with children. The device is relatively family friendly, and my kids love having it–so do I.

Ways we use Google Home with Kids in our house

  • Timers: I think the timer feature is one of the “killer app” aspects of the Google Home. You simply say something like “Ok Google, set a timer for 30 minutes for Piano,” and it will start running a timer. The cool thing is that you can have as many timers going at the same time as needed. So cooking timers and music practice timers for two kids can all be going together. The time left can be checked by asking “Ok Google, how much time is left on the piano timer.”  The convenience of using this feature, combined with the legitimacy of a computer dutifully timing something means less fudging of practice time. The rule in our house is that if it isn’t timed, the practice didn’t happen.
  • Games and jokes: There are lots of fun games to be played on the Google Home. For example, Mad Libs. The Google Home will walk you through the Mad Libs interview process and then read back your mad lib. We’ve been having a great time playing Mad Libs as a family. There are plenty of other games it can play as well.My favorite is trivia. “Where was Andy Warhol born?” Not exactly a kid’s question, but fun, nonetheless.There are other kinds of games too–including the “Crystal Ball,” the online version of the 8 ball. You ask a question and get blythe answers like “all signs point to yes.”…and the jokes. So many jokes. Just ask Google Home to tell you a joke, and you get one of hundreds of jokes, not so funny sometimes, but others, pretty good. An example just handed down from Google is “Why can’t you trust an Atom?” “Because they make up literally everything.”It will also be happy to sing you a ditty if you ask “Do you know the muffin man?”There are plenty of other games provided by third parties. One of my girls’ favorites is called “Akinator.”

    When you give the command to “talk to Akinator,” Google Home connects you with a service that guesses which literary character you’re thinking of by asking you a series of questions until it is able to narrow it down. There are also plenty of academic games such as mental math and spelling quizzes.

  • Stories. Google Home can tell fiction and non-fiction stories, and recite poems. Some of them are pretty good–occasionally my kids will even listen to them 🙂
  • Controlling Lights – We have two sets of controllable devices for our lights: a few Philips Hue light bulbs and a Wemo dimmer switch from Belkin that controls our basement lights.In both cases, they are a bit expensive, but the cool and convenience factor is worth it. At the basic level, you can control the lights from an app on your mobile phone. You can turn them on and off, slowly bring up the lights over time…if you have a Google Home, you can just ask Google’s assistant to turn them on for you. Commands like “Turn on the light in Mary’s room” or “set the light in the living room to 50%” are fun to use.

    For even more fun, you can connect IFTTT to your Home device to add additional commands. For example, Philips Hue bulbs come in white or colors. The colored bulbs can be any one of thousands of colors that you set via the app or Google Home. You can use IFTTT to flash the colors of your favorite professional sports team when they score a touchdown, run, or goal.

    You can also write your own commands and the responses. So when my daughter whines I say “Ok Google, my daughter is whining!” Google responds with my daughter’s name and says “stop whining. You are 8 years old. I am only a few months old, and I don’t whine…” and then it blinks the lights for added effect.  If you have the colored Philips Hue bulbs you can ask Google to do things such as  “Ok Google, set the living room lights to Christmas colors…”

  • By the way, you can do some really  useful things with IFTTT and Google Home, for instance it can log things into a Google Spreadsheet for you such as keeping track of work hours. By the way again, IFTTT can also control smart outlets such as Wemo. Follow the link to see that it’s just a gadget that plugs into your existing wall outlets, but it can be controlled via your mobile phone, Google Home, and in fact, IFTTT.
  • Controlling a TV. That’s right, it’s great for controlling Netflix and chromecast compatible televisions for that matter. If you have a TV near the Google Home, it’s most useful. You can ask Google Home to put a certain video or photograph on the TV screen for you.
  • Getting facts. Google’s search engine has lots of facts and information. Things come up at dinner. Google knows the answers. “How far away is the moon from Earth?” “What’s the fastest land animal?” “What sound does a horse make?” (It answers that one with a sound!) Its also great for homework help. It can answer questions, but also help kids practice math problems, spelling words, and more.
  • Music. It is fantastic for music. I am amazed at how quickly it can pull up any song or type of music I can think of…and that my kids can think of. We’ve subscribed to YouTube Red (Google Home came with a six month free subscription) and so we’re getting tons of advertisement-free music. You may be wondering if there is any way to restrict the content on the Google Home so that the kids don’t hear anything “adult” on YouTube. In fact, there is a setting in Google Home called “YouTube Restricted Mode” which allows you to “Hide songs and videos that may contain inappropriate content.”
  • Relaxation. Google Home has a library of relaxing sounds such as forest sounds and beaches. We turn this on during dinner or homework sometimes.
  • Recipes. Google Home has access to a huge library of recipes that it will walk you through step-by-step. This is fun for the kids, and sometimes can be quite helpful in general.
  • Alarm Clock. This is the most flexible, easy-to-use alarm clock your kids will will ever have. “Ok Google. Set an alarm for 8:30am with School of Fish on YouTube.”
  • Calendars and reminders. Maybe this isn’t so helpful for kids, especially younger kids who aren’t as concerned with future events, however this feature certainly does help parents. Google Home allows you to set up calendar events and reminders for a future date. Busy parents will appreciate not having to stop what they’re doing to update the family calendar.

Looking for ways to control your kid’s screen time? See my post about parental controls for kid’s devices it includes a small review of the Google WiFi device.