Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The impact we have

Have you ever thought about the impact your childhood has had on you as a teacher? Have you ever thought about how your past impacts the future of the children you care for? Dr. Tamar Jacobsen has written an interesting book, Don't Get So Upset. When we realize that research has shown us that "emotional memory stored in the brain during the first 4 or 5 years of life is un-erasable," you realize the enormity of responsibility we have when we care for children. Yet, our reactions to children's behavior is very often a reaction to the parenting we received. WOW! This book helps you to work through and think about your own life and its impact in your classroom. This reflective practice pays dividends for children. The author included a favorite quote that has impacted me over the years as well. I'd like to share it with you:
"I've come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. IT is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated and a child humanized or dehumanized. " Haim Ginott (1972)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tips for Early Educators and Practitioners:

For the Birds

A child in my class asked why the birds weren't singing much anymore, which led to great explorations on migration and song birds. We are housed in an old, large church and can hear birds outside our windows and even sometimes even see them in the sanctuary! Fall and winter create inviting times to explore birds, their homes, and their behaviors, such as migration.

I like to create interesting display/play areas with bird-related materials to explore such as artificial nests, eggs, feathers, and bird families (craft stores are good sources), as well as nesting materials (dried grasses, leaves, ribbon, twigs, shredded paper) and books about birds. I will often make up little bird stories to share with the children at story times. I like to bring in real nests, eggs, and feathers, but display these in clear plastic cases to avoid any germs. I will also play bird recordings (and nature sounds) and make sure I put out lots of craft feathers in the art area.

We try to photograph the birds we see near our program and display these and use them in charting, etc. We work on simple charting, graphing, and categorizing by color, sound, size, same, different, etc. We like to enlarge the photos to get really close-up views of the birds. I've mounted these onto foam board and hung them from the ceiling in our room. The children have also glued feathers and such on the enlarged copies.

We find out what we know, don't know, and want to know. We like to see what direction these materials lead the children and explore their questions, ideas, and interests. ~PA Preschool Teacher

Do you have a great tip or good thing? Send us your best tips! Email Christine at or contact the Better Kid Care Program at 814-865-7894 or 800-452-9108 (within PA).

This was taken from the latest issue of the BKC newsletter. You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Take Care of those Baby Eyes

Do you care for infants? If so, there is important information to share with parents. Many parents never think about taking their baby to an optometrist but in fact they should schedule an appointment between 6 and 12 months of age. There are many vision problems that can be corrected early in life and quite simply. You can go to the INFANTSEE website to get information to share with the parents of children in your care. There are participating eye doctors who will provide free eye exams for infants. The list of those in our area who participate can be found at the INFANTSEE website.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Childcare is fun!

This year's Columbus Day event was a huge success! Thanks to the committee who worked to make it possible. We had 500 attendees and 13 breakout sessions. Would you like to work with us to plan the 2009 Columbus Day event? If so, email me or leave a comment and I will be in touch! All ideas are welcome.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Forever in your Heart

Although you’re not their parent,
You care for them each day.
You cuddle, sing and read to them
And watch them as they play.
You see each new accomplishment
You help them grow and learn
You understand their language
And you listen with concern.
They come to you for comfort
And you kiss away their tears.
They proudly show their work to you
You give the loudest cheers!
No, you are not their parent
But your role is just as strong.
You nurture them and keep them safe
Though maybe not for long.
You know someday the time will come
When you will have to part.
But you know each child you’ve cared for
Is forever in your heart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Your Child's Developing Brain

The field of neuroscience has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. We have learned so much about how children’s brains develop and about what types of experiences help children grow to be the best they can be. While the knowledge base has grown, it is important to keep in mind that we are really not sure what else there is to learn about the brain as this is still a growing science evoking in us a sense of wonder and curiosity. We do know that the experiences of young children will have long lasting effects. These can be either positive or negative. Knowing this, parents and educators need to strive to assure that all children receive quality care from parents and others as they grow and develop.

Quality care for children begins before birth. We have long heard about the importance of pregnant mothers’ diets and rest and the need to avoid alcohol, drugs and stress. These recommendations are even more important as we understand brain development. Most of the brain’s growth occurs between the fourth and seventh month of pregnancy. By birth the baby’s brain has reached 60 percent of its development.

Healthy social and emotional attachment is imperative especially during the first 2 years of life. Children need to have their needs met. When they cry they are telling us that they need something and as the adults in their lives, it is our job to assure they are well fed, clean, safe and cuddled. The experiences of bonding to an adult are vital for young children. They need to know that someone will always be there to care for them and meet their every need. Some people would like to consider this spoiling a baby, when in fact; it is laying a foundation vital for developing trust. Holding and cuddling a baby is also extremely important. Unfortunately in today’s busy world too many parents have turned to infant seats, swings and bouncy seats to contain children rather than their arms. There is nothing wrong with all of this baby gear but we need to be sure they are not abused. Children need time to be held.

The early years are also when children learn how to express their emotions. It is important that the adults around them provide a good example. If we want children to express anger, love, sadness and hurt appropriately, we need to model appropriate reactions when we face those very same feelings. Children who are neglected, exposed to stress, abuse or violence can actually have brains reorganize and make chemical adaptations that will reduce the child’s ability to regulate emotions later in life. I found it interesting when working with young children in childcare that I was able to see exactly where a child learned to behave as he or she did. Children’s behaviors are more often than not, a reflection of their parents.

Young children need sensory stimulation. Studies have shown that early sensory stimulation has long-lasting effects on learning. As children grow they learn best by actively moving and doing. It is through play that children experiment with and learn about the world around them. This makes sense when we understand that information is taken in by our five senses. The more senses we can employ in learning, the more learning occurs. Television and computer games do not provide the stimulation that children need. Providing children opportunities to play and move are vital. Choosing care based on play opportunities is far more important than academics. Young children should not be sitting and doing dittoes and learning the alphabet by rote. As adults we remember learning this way and expect it for our children. We know so much more today and children need to play, it is indeed their work.

Children need to have many experiences repeated over and over again. It is through repetition that neurons of the brain develop pathways and learning occurs. When young children ask the same question over and over again or when you find yourself telling them the same thing over and over again, it is not because they are trying to irritate you. They are involved in learning. This is how children learn. It is also important to understand that children’s learning has a scaffolding effect. That is, one skill builds on the next. Providing children with lots of safe, nurturing learning experiences when they are young will provide a foundation on which their continued learning can build.

Upcoming Professional Development

All of these sessions are held at the Berks County Agricultural Center and are posted on Go there to register and find out about how to pay for these sessions.

Communicating with Coworkers and Families (K5 C1 53) $5
September 18, 2008 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tina Townsend, instructor
This training is appropriate for participants working with children of all ages. Basic communication skills will be addressed along with how to implement those skills into the classroom when working with families or co-workers.
Classroom Management ( Two part session)
September 22, 2008 6:00 pm-8:00 pm (K2 C1 11) $5
September 29, 2008 6:00 pm -8:00 pm (K2 C2 11) $5
Tina Townsend, instructor
During this session participants will focus on correct ratios in a classroom, supervision issues, creating an appropriate environment, communication within the classroom, bringing humor into the learning environment, and transition techniques.
Watch Me Grow! (this 2 part session will be taught in Spanish)
November 6, 2008 6:30 PM- 8:30 PM (K1 C1 01)
November 12, 2008 6:30 PM- 8:30 PM (K1 C2 01)
Cynthia Amaro, Instructor
THIS SESSION WILL BE TAUGHT IN SPANISHUnderstanding children's growth and development will help us to plan appropriate activities and have appropriate expectations of the children we care for. This session will review the development of the child with the understanding that all children are unique, and have variations in their growth and development.
Effective Lesson Planning (Two part session)
November 13, 2008 6:00-8:00(K2 C1 13) $5
November 18, 2008 6:00-8:00(K2 C2 13) $5
Tina Townsend, instructor
This training will offer participants opportunities to reflect upon their own lesson plans, evaluate sample lesson plans to determine developmental appropriateness of preschool activities, using children's interests and developmental levels to drive effective lesson planning.
Creating Learning Centers in the Classroom (K2 C1 12)
December 1, 2008 (K2 C1 12) $5
December 8, 2008 (K2 C2 12) $5
Tina Townsend, instructor
This session will focus on the creation of effective learning centers in the classroom. Emphasis will be placed on room arrangement and methods of organization and evaluation of the centers and use in the curriculum.
Observing as a Tool to Guide Classroom Structure and Daily Planning
December 3, 2008 (K4 C2 A4) $5
Sue Giachero, instructor
Participants will learn how to take observations and use them to make changes to the classroom environment, their own teaching as well as to plan activities and routines for the day.
What Does "Time" Mean to Children? SATELLITE K2C1 topic code 14 (CDA Competency 2)
December 4, 2008 7:00 PM- 9:00 PM
What do children of different ages know and understand about time? Why do children and adults struggle when it's time to clean up? Learn ways to build on children's understanding of "yesterday," "today," and "tomorrow."