6 Ways to Ease the Preschool Transition for Kids — and Parents

The start of a new school year gets everyone's nerves jumping—including when it's time to make the transition to preschool.

Every child is, of course, different. Some love to dive into new adventures without so much as a look back. Others are more cautious, preferring to watch and get the lay of the land. But children and parents are bound to be apprehensive about a child's first day (or week, or month) in a new environment, surrounded by new people and new routines.

We asked veteran preschool teachers in the NYC metropolitan area for their no-fail tips to help make this transition a positive experience for all and came away with six top suggestions.

If you're still searching for the right preschool, check out our directory of NYC schools, as well as those in the surrounding suburbs, such as New JerseyWestchester, and Long Island.

Best Apple Picking Orchards near Washington, DC for Kids

As the leaves turn so too do the thoughts of DC families towards apple picking. This favorite fall tradition is a must for kids and grown-ups alike and often go far beyond just plucking ripe apples from the tree. Many of these orchards host autumnal activities of all kinds, from corn mazes to music festivals and everything in between. 

There are several pick-your-own apple orchards and farms within easy driving distance of the nation's capital. But remember: Farm conditions and apple availability change through the season, so be sure and call or check the website before your visit to any of the spots listed below.

Best Apple Picking Orchards Near Philadelphia for Kids

We know it must be fall when we feel that chill in the air, the leaves start to change color, harvest festivals abound and apple picking season begins. Pennsylvania is one of the country's top apple producing states, so we are fortunate to have a number of orchards in the area where we can enjoy this favorite Fall tradition. Many of the orchards host activities to extend the fun beyond apple picking - everything from tractor rides and corn mazes to moon bounces and music festivals.

There are several pick-your-own apple orchards and farms listed below, all within an hour's drive of Philadelphia. Because farm conditions and apple selection can vary throughout the season, it is recommended to call or check the website before visiting.

Best Free Annual Parades in New York City for Kids

As the saying goes, everyone loves a parade. And in NYC, we have plenty of processions to choose from. During the warmer months, there are parades practically every week celebrating a wide variety of cultures and causes, and all of them are FREE.

While it's always cool to watch the colorful costumes, floats, and performers pass by, there are certain annual parades that are particularly great for families. These processions are either exceptionally vibrant like Chinatown's Lunar New Year Parade or the Three Kings Day Parade, or invite costumed kids to get in on the action like the small Halloween Parades that are much less intense than the big one in Greenwich Village.

Included in our list are parades we've attended—some many times—or others that come highly recommended. So, get our your calendar and save these dates to see if you can catch them all!

Explore the Past and the Great Outdoors at Allaire State Park

Growing up in Monmouth County, I visited Allaire State Park frequently with my family as a child. Those day trips were filled with playground time, train rides, and old-fashioned candy purchased at the village’s general store. Now I take my own kids there, just like my parents took me.

Allaire is easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway, close to the Jersey Shore, and bursting with outdoor fun like family-friendly hikingbike riding, picnicking, and camping. But what sets this New Jersey state park apart from other bucolic green spaces are its historic village and working steam train.

With 3,000 acres of nature, a rich history, and lots of fun activities and seasonal events, Allaire continues to be a popular destination for NJ families. Read on for the highlights.

Weekend Fun: Hot Air Balloons, Cardboard Boats, and a Kids' Triathlon

Fall is approaching, and amid the frenzied school supply mall runs, families can check out numerous fairs celebrating the annual harvest season. Just this weekend there are agricultural fairs in Brooklyn, Terryville, and Chester, If ox pulls, carnival midways, and fried fair food aren't your thing, check out the Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival, or escape an authentic native wigwam. For those who prefer indoor activities, head to Hartford to wish the Bushnell Carousel a happy 105th birthday.

For the latest and best family-friendly goings on around the state, keep checking our frequently updated events calendar and follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. Have a great weekend!

Essex County's New Accessible Playground Lets All Kids Play Together

All children can benefit from outdoor play in a park or playground, and lucky for us, there's a new accessible playground in Bloomfield, NJ, designed with the needs of kids with physical and developmental disabilities in mind. 

Watsessing Park's all-access playground opened at the end of July after a seven-month, $4 million renovation. This new addition to the 69-acre Essex County park, located at the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Conger Street, boasts inclusive features such as wheelchair-friendly surfacing and ramps, a seated merry-go-round, special swings, and much, much more—all in delicious, candy-colored hues.

Already fans of Watsessing Park's splash playground, my 6-year-old and I spent a perfect summer afternoon at this updated play space where all kids can play together and have fun. Read on for the scoop.

Ennis Playground Gives Gowanus a Freshly Updated Playspace

We're suckers for a destination-worthy playground, but we also have big love for NYC's smaller neighborhood playgrounds. In a city like ours, a playground doesn't necessarily need an elaborate theme or deluxe play features to be a huge boon to the neighborhood. The newly renovated Ennis Playground in the heart of fast-changing Gowanus is one such gem. Ennis Playground reopened last month after an 11-month, $2.9 million renovation—here's a look at what's new.

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