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Child Care

/Child Care
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What’s the Hurry?

Educator Rae Pica debunked the notion that—academically and athletically—earlier is better for children.
Regarding academics Pica writes, “Kindergarten, according to a study from the University of Virginia, has become ‘the new first grade.’ And, based on my observations, preschool has clearly become the new kindergarten. All of this is happening despite the abundance of research demonstrating that children enrolled in play-oriented preschools don’t have a disadvantage over those who are enrolled in preschools focusing on early academics. Studies, in fact, have shown that there were neither short-term nor long-term advantages of early academics versus play and that there were no distinguishable differences by first grade. Additionally, fourth graders who had attended play-oriented preschools in which children often initiated their own activities had better academic performance than those who had attended academics-driven preschools.”

Watch for these plants when on outings with the family!

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are the big three when it comes to poisonous plants when you’re out on family outings! All three plants cause rashes with a chemical known as urushiol. After touching the plant, oils from the leaves can be transferred everywhere. This makes it easy to spread the rash to other parts of your body, or even other people, before you’ve even realized you’ve touched a poisonous plant.

Poison ivy is usually found as a vine or shrub growing close to the ground, and it can grow in urban and rural areas throughout much of North America, excluding deserts, Hawaii and Alaska. The plant has leaves arranged in groups of three hence the saying, “leaves of three, leave them be” and can have light-colored berries or small flowers.

Poison oak is very similar to poison ivy, although while poison ivy will typically have leaves with jagged edges, poison oak tends to have leaves with smooth, curved edges, much like actual oak leaves.

Poison sumac is the hardest to recognize of these three, because it tends to just look like a shrub or small tree. Each branch will have about 13 leaves, arranged in pairs. Poison sumac is found mainly in the Southeast United States, along riverbanks and other very wet areas. It has the potential to cause a more severe rash than either poison ivy or poison oak.

Anyone who comes into contact with these plants can develop a rash, and if the rash is severe enough, it can also cause fever, swelling and blisters. Some people might develop an anaphylactic reaction.  Those individuals should immediately seek medical care. Once a person has rinsed the poisonous resin from their skin, they can no longer spread the rash.

When […]

Summer is around the bend…time to think about ways to save you and your child’s skin.

Look for broad-spectrum products rated at SPF15 or higher. Slightly greater ratings may be needed for children who tend to have longer exposure times.
Apply sunscreen at least 30 mins. before sun exposure…or you may wish to consider products with titanium dioxide. Use generous amounts and re-apply often. (Always apply sunscreen to your child before sending your child to his/her educational or camp setting Check with the caregiver or counselor as to when they reapply the sunscreen.)
Avoid intense sun between 10:00AM and 4:00PM. Stay in the shade when possible.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Long sleeves with a tight knit should be worn by those who are in high altitudes and/or fair skinned.
Use lip balm rated SPF 15 or higher.
Routinely examine your skin (don’t forget hairline areas) and remember sunburn blisters are second degree burns…see a doctor.

Have Kids Changed?

“Kids have changed.”
Over the last years we have heard this statement repeatedly from educators, parents, and the media. But have children really changed? In reality, it is society, parents, and schools that have changed. These changes have transformed the way our children play, interact, and learn. This has created issues beyond poor behavior.

“The United States faces an epidemic of unparalleled proportions,” write Gina Fontana and Ralph Barrett in this provocative call-to-action. “We have raised a generation of socially, cognitively, and physically underdeveloped children, leaving parents and teachers struggling to find solutions.”

What is one thing early childhood educators can do to ensure that children are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in today’s society? Bring back the creative arts! Music, art, and dancing “allow children to be creative, take risks, and express themselves in innovative ways.” The whole body of a child must be involved in learning, not just their brain, for the child to develop into a productive, well-rounded citizen. Read more here.

Prevent Bullying

Bullying happens among people throughout their life span. As adult caregivers/educators, we cannot hear everything or be present to intervene in all that is said or done among groups or pairs of children in our care. I believe that the impulse to enjoy being mean to others in all its forms is innate to human nature. If we cannot prevent bullying from happening, then what can be done? I feel we must help children to understand what constitutes bullying so they can recognize it at once. We must help children make the effort to stand up for themselves, speak out (this can be practiced with puppets), tell the teacher, or walk away.

Individualized Programs in Preschool

Good programs in preschool should be individualized so that each child’s experiences match his or her developmental abilities. Developmentally appropriate programs emphasize the following:
1. Active exploration of the environment.
2. Self-directed, hands-on learning activities.
3. A balance between individual and group activities/active movement and quiet activities.
4. Positive and supportive interaction with teachers and peers.
5. Encouragement to be social, confident, and independent thinkers.

Help Your Child Play

Decades of research have demonstrated that play is more than just fun and games.  Through play, children learn to interact with others, develop language skills, recognize and solve problems, and discover their potential.  What can you do to help your child play?

Reduce screen time. They may be bored at first…but you can make suggestions to inspire their creativity.
Don’t overschedule them in adult-organized activities. This leaves little time for play.
Get them outdoors to clean, rake, wash the car…it really does inspire play.
Choose a toy that is 90% child, like wood, boxes, balls, dolls, and dirt/ sand. Let them create their own scenes to play in.
Lobby for safe parks. Organize with other parents to monitor play areas.
If your child receives care and education outside of your home, ask how much time your child gets outdoor play every day. Look at the outdoor facilities…is it shaded by trees in addition to canopies?  Does it have access to water, mud, sand, grass, loose materials for building, knocking over, and pretend play?  Is their plenty of space to run, climb, find secret hiding places and dream up dramas?

The benefits of play are so impressive that every day of childhood

should be a day for play.

Preschool vs. Daycare

I just received another call asking me if Iliff is a preschool or a day care. Why do we as a society try to separate early education and care? After all the best programs are all carefully designed to encourage children’s cognitive, social/emotional, and physical development.

Maybe part of the reason for the separation is that parents see staff sitting on the floor to teach or holding children when they are having a hard time separating from their parents. While staff keep children safe and clean…perhaps parents neglect to recognize these moments as teaching and learning moments…..that teachers are practicing observing, listening, being present, following the child’s lead, and scaffolding on their development. With this practice of caring I believe we become artful teachers.

Caring and early education cannot be separated. Whether we care for children well, or not so well, children are learning.

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” Friedrich Froebel

Over 175 years ago, Froebel asserted that children learn best through play and hands –on exploration in a nurturing and carefully planned environment. He believed that a child naturally loves discovery in nature, music, and movement and that rhymes and stories should be the basis of letter and number skills. He stressed that children, like plants in nature, grow at their own pace and must be nurtured by family and society.   Many early learning programs and kindergartens today have lost sight of what Froebel intended. What is found now are teachers working out of a government determined script driven by testing and funding. When looking for quality early learning centers and kindergartens, look for those who are reinvesting in loving and nurturing environments where children can again learn through play and hands-on exploration and discovery.

An ounce of prevention goes a long way when caring for children at home or in child care.

Effective discipline begins when a child is born…not after problems pop up. In order to prevent problems, parents and teachers need to examine their own behavior first; then look at the environment, review how they schedule activities, and finally establish simple rules.

Children watch our behaviors and react to them the same way we do. If we yell, they yell. If we strike out, they hit and push. If we use our words to tell others we are angry and share our love and kindness by being courteous, we are establishing a foundation for good behavior the day the child is born. As they grow preparing a safe environment where dangerous objects are not present removes the temptation for them to make the wrong choice. Providing age-appropriate toys on open shelves where children can reach them also empowers children to make good choices.

Scheduling events around children avoids problems when children become bored or feel rushed. Preparing children in advance when changing from one activity to another gives them time to complete and store a project, clean up, and feel ready to move on to another activity. Keeping children occupied with quick, playful activities like interactive songs, and letter and number games intentionally teaches language, literacy, math and science. A final tip…being fair and consistent with simple rules prevents outbursts, frustration, and strong feelings of resentment.

Preventing problems before they occur…the first step toward raising children who share and cooperate, are able to handle anger, are more self-disciplined and feel successful and in control of themselves.