COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

September 17, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Learning Happens from “Can I Help?”

Learning Happens from “Can I Help?”

I spent Saturday in the company of a diverse group of professionals and parents that are interested in where early childhood education is heading nationally, but especially in Maine. It was interesting to talk with a Montessori Preschool teacher, public school Pre-K teacher, center director and staff, parent ambassadors, College professor, and Head start teachers, about programs. A good amount of discussion was around structured curriculum with planned activities done on schedule, but wanting to be flexible to go where children lead. Research supports the importance of play in a child’s learning and the value of child directed activities. As teachers we also have options about how we approach our roles to support, encourage, challenge, and expand a child’s learning.

I shared how I’ve got unit/curriculum plans developed that work with the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards, but I see the ultimate learning for young children as coming from involving them in normal daily life activities. Dramatic play is fine, but real life is best. Our dramatic play reinforces the learning experienced in the real activity. I think back to what I experienced as a child. I played outside, exploring my environment and my place in it, all the time. When inside I had free access to art/craft supplies, puzzles and books. Today, I take the experiences of my childhood and add in my teacher skills to reinforce the learning opportunities that occur just as part of our normal day. I do get to pull in some of those planned unit activities that are on file in the reinforcing and expanding.

I believe that children learn best through their play, guiding us in what they need, but they also benefit from having any learning opportunity expanded. It’s having that balance of leaving it up to them to guide and finding the opportunities to expand learning that is always the fun challenge for me.

Here’s the example I shared in the discussion:

I have always hung laundry out to dry in good weather. Not an activity many of today’s children are exposed to, as most families use the dryer today. Whenever we head out back to play and the children see a clothes basket at the clothesline they want to help me. I don’t think about that it will take longer, I immediately think about which child is asking to help and what learning can I support.

  • Do we count clothespins needed to hang clothes – 2 shirts means 4 clothespins, 2 for each item = 2+2 = 4, then it’s counting out the clothespins to me. For some it also means sorting clothespins to find matches, as I have 2 different kinds of clothespins and they want them to be the same. It doesn’t matter to me.
  • One helper always wants to practice clipping pins, so I make sure to hang pants up first. Pants they can reach the bottom of to clip to. There isn’t much better fine motor with some science thrown in than working clip clothespins.

 

  • We sort out socks, sort colors, etc.  I now also hang different types of clothes on different lines for even more sorting.
  • We talk about where you wear what. This leads to expanded story play with what we call the “Ooops” book (Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton which is a daily read within our space and can be retold easily). It’s fun to talk about wearing pants on our head,before I hang them. That always gets an “Ooops” and correction on where to wear them. You never know what will be worn where. Young children are creative and love “silly”.
  • Language expansion with color names, labeling body parts, and when a preschooler tells you the clothes are all “twisted” – expand that – what is meant, how are they, other descriptive words for “twisted”……
  • Science of why hang the clothes?, what dries them?, with it be fast today? – sun and wind
  • Counting the items – in total, by group, by color, on each line
  • Compare number of items hung on each line, why more or less
  • Weight of wet clothing

The children come and go with helping as they want and need. All this learning isn’t forced. It’s chosen by the child. It also includes teamwork, self-esteem, sense of responsibility, sense of accomplishment, self control and aware of abilities that are important developmentally for young learners.

My goal every day is to have this type of learning happening all day long.  A Head Start teacher stated she would so liketo be offering the same type of learning opportunities, but is required to have written plans that are done ahead. We actually did a bit of brainstorming to see if there might be ways to write out skills/standards met by everyday daily life activities that could be linked to on her plans, so she could move her program in this direction.

I appreciate that the families here understand how their young learners are being supported through including the children in what are normal life activities and expanding learning within those activities.

 

June 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Insect Safety Tips

Insect Safety Tips

Passing along this fact and tip sheet from PHILADELPHIA INSURANCE & ASSURE CHILD CARE’s monthly information sheet for child care programs they insure. With all the outside time the children get here and at home thought the resources here were good to pass along.

INSECT SAFETY

Every year, anaphylaxis (or severe allergic reaction) to insect bites or stings cause over 40 deaths, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Some insects carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases, such as West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, Dengue Fever, and the plague.  And, while the vast majority of insect bites and stings will not cause anaphylaxis or serious disease, they can commonly result in tissue swelling, itching, dermatitis, pain/burning, infections, lesions, or dermatitis.  Your best defense is to know the facts and take appropriate action.

Insect Safety Tips:

1)     Be age appropriate – The Food and Drug Administration recommends to not use DEET on children under 2 months and not to use picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus for children under 3 years. The Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics has similar recommendations. 

Fact: The most common insect repellant ingredients are DEET, Picaridin (KBR 3023) and oil of lemon eucalyptus

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085277.htm

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx

2)     Ask about allergies – Your application and interview process with a child’s parent/guardian should include questions about allergies, and especially any allergies that can cause anaphylaxis.  If a child is at risk, know their triggers and be prepared with a dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), if agreed to and supplied by the parent or guardian.http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20014324

3)     Know the symptoms – A child with a severe allergic reaction to a bite or sting may have the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, large skin areas of itching or hives, excessive sweating, swelling of their tongue or throat, loss of consciousness.  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/anaphylaxis

4)     Treat anaphylaxis immediately: If you believe a child is having an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 and take whatever steps you have pre-planned with their parent/guardian. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/treatment/con-20014324

5)     Avoid insect habitats – Ticks commonly live in overgrown grassy and bushy areas. Avoid these areas (including your pets) and cut back vegetation around your home.

Fact: Tick bites account for up to 30,000 cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S. each year

         Remove standing water around your home where mosquitos can breed. 

Fact: In general, mosquitos will bite anytime. Mosquito bites have caused over 30,000 people in the U.S. to become ill with the West Nile virus since 1999. Those carrying the West Nile Virus bite mainly from dusk through to dawn.

         Watch for bees and wasp/hornets nests and keep children safely away.

http://www.safe-wise.com/downloads/lymefac.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mosquito-bites/basics/prevention/con-20032350

6)     Avoid fragrant soaps – Highly aromatic soaps and perfumes can attract unwanted insects.  http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/6-tips-for-avoiding-insect-bites-stings/

mosquito_bites_relieve_naturally_n7)     Use first aid – For insect bites and stings that don’t involve anaphylaxis, take appropriate first aid, based on the type of bite or sting. 

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/wound-care-10/bugbites?page=1

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-117/

June 27, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on What will children need to succeed in the future?

What will children need to succeed in the future?

What do we feel students would need to succeed in the world of the future?

This interesting question was raised at training I attended for Adult Educators. Those present acknowledged that the only constant in education at this time and for the future is change.

On the way home I got thinking about this question in regards to the children, your children, that I work with. What did I see as their needs to succeed in the future? Also what do you as parents feel they will need to succeed? Then the next question is how do we work to meet these needs.

I believe all children will need the basics of education, but even more they will need the ability to communicate, an imagination, a willingness to explore, and a sense of self.

  • I do not think of communication as only verbal. There are many ways that we communicate  (written, sign, artistic, listening) and we need to be open to encouraging all areas, but especially the mode that best fits the ability of the child.
  • DSC07099I believe that without an imagination a child will struggle to learn. An imagination allows a child to think out of the box, problem solve, and be independent.
  • A willingness to explore to me means they are not afraid of making mistakes or failing at new things. They will ask questions, not necessarily excepting what just is or has been. There will be a flexibility to how they work and handle events that occur.
  • A sense of self is just that. They will understand their individual skills or strengths. They will accept their weaknesses and in doing so will find ways to work around them. They will develop that self confidence that will allow them to challenge themselves.

I am very interested in what you see them needing in the future that awaits them. This world  is changing so quickly, we cannot even imagine what the jobs of their future will be.

October 7, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on My Continuing Education

My Continuing Education

October is when I make sure I have all the paperwork together needed for my relicensing. That means CPR training, health record on pets, water tests, paperwork on children in care, and my training hours. For licensing at this time, I only need 12 hours of training, but being a Step 3 on the Quality Rating System for ME I need more. I also need CEUs for renewal of my teaching certificate. To acquire the variety of hours I need I take online webinars, monthly networking with local child care providers, college classes, and daylong conferences.

After 27 years in early child care following 10 in the public classroom, it’s also interesting what is triggered through conferences and training.

This past weekend I was involved in the Fall conference put on by MaineAEYC (NAEYC state affiliate) that was about the new Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS) for 3-5 yr olds and how to meet them through Play. Not only did I get to work on this conference, but in attending I got to spend 6 hrs. with over 100 other professionals that through their work with young children understand the importance of quality child care. So much of my practice was reinforced through discussions, but a key point of reflection was that we can let too much into our spaces and that does not serve the engagement and learning of children. I had just that week started removing toys from the space that children where just leaving around. I was seeing first hand that there was too much within our space. So, I removed half. Stepped back and then removed half again. I then reorganized the storage containers to just 5 floor baskets and moved the large play pieces around. In removing items I made sure to keep in mind where interests as well as developmental needs are for the children in care. Play in the last 2 days has been more engaged, focused and actually I’ve even seen more movement with the additional open floor space.DSC07014

I has also taken training around curriculum and assessment this summer which have lead to refinement of philosophy and policy on PLAY which can be found within the parent handbook.

There are changes coming soon with licensing and we just received a listing of new training areas they are going to be looking for us to have ~

  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases
  • SIDS and safe sleep practices
  • Administration of medication
  • Prevention/response to food allergies
  • Building and physical premises safety
  • Shaken baby syndrome and head trauma
  • Emergency preparedness and response planning
  • Storage of hazardous materials and bio contaminants
  • Transportation of children
  • First aid and CPR

We do not know if this will be yearly, take once or repeat periodically. I have taken trainings in most of these areas, but it’s good to redo as there is always new material to learn and refresh yourself on. To that end I just completed a 3 hr. training by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Prevention and control of infectious diseases. Information was not really new to me, but I will be refining my health and illness policy to support parent understanding around exclusion. I also want to share resources around illnesses to support families. I’ll included quick reference sheets in the sidebar for easy and continual access on the common cold, signs and symptoms and fever.

These will also be posted on my Facebook and Google+ pages to be viewed and shared.

 

 

March 6, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Language Basics?

Language Basics?

DSC04026

Having mixed ages in the program means I always have many developmental levels here at any given time. Language/speech is always an area where discussions on development and possible concerns are occurring with parents. I have my training in language development, but am always on the look out for relevant and understandable information to pass along to families.
This blog article from Twodaloo , a speech-language pathologist, clearly defines language, speech and communication.

I love how she starts from the belief point that before one can begin working to support a child’s language development, there needs to be a basic understanding of what language actually is. Makes sense doesn’t it, but how many of us understand the difference between language and speech?

That is what this series on Language Basics is going to support or develop our knowledge about.

I have enjoyed reading all the posting in this series. (Click here for a direct link to all postings.) On the same page you can also link to articles on developing language through sensory play, music and art.

I look forward to discussing any questions or points raised through these readings with you.

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