Tag Archives: education

When I was in college…

So when I was a college student, I worked three and four jobs to pay my tuition and buy my own books. I had student loans aplenty and even a small scholarship. I chose a private catholic women’s college close to home, though I’m not catholic. But I felt like it was a great place to figure out who I was and still have a safety net.

And I did find my niche in the world, at least started the journey. It was a place to deepen friendships and learn my strengths. But after my second year, I started getting letters in the mail from my college asking to donate to their endowment. I was shocked and ticked off-I was already working my butt off trying to pay for school and they wanted me to give them more?! I didn’t get it, why would anyone give money back to their school when we’ve just spent a fortune to go there?

Five years after I graduated, my college closed it’s doors forever. I attended the last commencement which was a bittersweet occasion for all.

So while their timing stunk, I finally understood why I was receiving letters asking for money…my college was $14 million in the hole and they were grasping at straws.

The message here: if we want something great to continue, we all have to do our part to support it. That doesn’t necessarily mean financially, though that is often what is needed most. Sharing the mission and stories and memories of an organization, school, or club can accomplish so much as well.

And while yes, I’m in the midst of a fundraiser, that I will shamelessly plug right here, this post has been on my mind for awhile. And yes, I would love your support, but this post speaks to anything in your life that you care about whether it is your local church or your child’s soccer team, your local fire department or your favorite non-profit. We all have to work together to make sure they continue at the high level we have come to expect.IMG_8773-0.JPG

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

To all my loyal followers:

I’ve just launched my first fundraiser to improve my back yard. Please share this link and consider purchasing a shirt from the site below. Thank you in advance!

And for those of you providing childcare, who may be uncomfortable wearing a t-shirt with another providers name on it, I don’t see our businesses as competing. I feel like we are collaborators and your support is just another way of assisting a colleague. If you feel differently, I respect your decision. Thank you for your interest.

Click here to support our fund
IMG_8589.PNGIMG_8590.PNG

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“I’m not happy with this childcare anymore” What to do next?

IMG_8568.PNG

So you’ve got this amazing child and you finally found a great childcare, your child is settling into the routine, and you feel like it is a safe and nurturing environment. You breathe easy after saying goodbye at the window and head off to work with no worries.

Then your child’s primary caregiver gives her notice. Then the co-teacher in your child’s classroom gives his notice. New providers are brought in, but you feel insecure about your child being in the classroom. You notice things that make you uncomfortable, like lots of gossip, personal phone calls, unprofessional behavior…

What do you do now?

1. Go to the source. Be direct and kind, matter of fact but compassionate. Be honest with your concerns, “I understand you are still getting to know my child, my concern is…”

2. Check in with the director or supervisor. Drop a call or an email if you don’t have time for a visit just saying that you had some concerns and spoke with the teachers. Be positive and open.

3. Be patient, but watchful. Change takes time and persistence. But that’s no excuse for providing poor care to your child.

4. Be direct. Be clear. Speak to teachers and directors, expressing your concerns in a calm and respectful manner. Though our children provoke passionate feelings, people will stop listening if you are too passionate.

5. Look for new care, keeping in mind that it takes time…keep communication lines open while you’re waiting for a new spot so your child is still able to be in a (hopefully) respectful environment.

If at any time you feel like your child is in danger, report it! This may sound harsh, but children can be harmed in childcare settings that are not following regulations, breach ethics, and/or lack the ability to provide adequate care. Your child is your most pressing concern, and if you feel there is a safety risk, you should report the provider. Each state has a department that deals with provider regulation and they are equipped to evaluate the possible safety concerns that arise.

As a provider, this can be a scary possibility, especially if something is misinterpreted or there is a conflict that could illicit a false report. But as a mom, I feel that your child and their spirit are the most valuable and irreplaceable commodities on the earth. If you’re not sure, talk to other resources out there, like your pediatrician, or local child care resource specialist.

But always, go to the source first. Many issues can be cleared up in a face to face conversation. You may hear how you can be supportive to them as they adjust.

 

check out the national child care information center

visit me on facebook

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Process Art versus Product Art

IMG_0122.JPG

While attending our annual statewide conference, I participated in a workshop about the value of process focused art experiences for young children. The instructor invited us into a conference room with a wide variety of art materials scattered on the table top: ribbon, glue, string, wood pieces, scissors, varied papers, and stickers.

In her introduction, she offered us each an index card and a color reproduction of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. She asked us to draw it on our index cards. While we were drawing, she reminded us to make it look as much like it as possible, and to finish up in five minutes. There was a lot of chatter and giggles, even a little bit of whining. Then she asked us to write down how the assignment made us feel, upon request and as we worked.

The overall theme was stressed, pressured, inadequate, and a sense of an unrealistic expectation. We discussed this for quite some time, and then transitioned to another activity.

Eventually it was time for another task, and this time the assignment was less focused: “It’s time to use the materials on the table. Feel free to open closed packages, use materials in any way you’d like, take your time.” Some participants reached for materials that they had been eyeing since we first arrived, while others explored first. The room was very quiet, and slowly, some conversations arose, though they were low key and focused.

When the instructor saw that we were all finishing up, she asked us how we were doing and if we needed more time. After a few more minutes, she opened the floor up for discussion. How did this assignment feel, upon request and while working?

The responses from participants included: relaxed, peaceful, excited, happy, fun, trusted, respected, and lucky. So what does this all mean?

There is a wonderful handout from our instructor Laurel Bongiorno of Champlain College that highlights the main differences between product and process focused art:

IMG_0124.JPG

There is a place and time for both types of art, but we must be clear about our objective. For example, is the goal to teach the children how to follow directions, use new vocabulary, or practice using scissors? Is the objective self-expression? Or maybe is it for the purpose of sensory input? We must be thoughtful as to our objectives, and keep in mind how those objectives make children feel. Feeling rushed, pressured, and frustrated is never my goal.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Let Your Kids Cry

IMG_7261.PNG

I’ve worked with young children for many years now, and the words of a mentor are still in my head: “it’s okay for a child to cry, there’s no reason to try to make them stop”.

In this particular situation, she was referring to a three year old child who just moved here from far away. New town, new home, new surroundings were all just too much for this little guy. I was speaking to my co-worker, asking her what else we could do to get him to stop crying.

My mentor, our boss, reminded me that the crying wasn’t just something he’s doing because he’s mad or sad, but that it is a way of expressing and releasing emotion. She recommended ways to support him as he struggled to find his way and navigate all of his emotions.

You see, when a child is crying, you have to ask yourself, “what is this child trying to tell me?”. There are times when that cry is to get attention, you know that fake cry that some kids can turn on, right? My kid can anyway… But really, young children cry to express anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, relief, and the occasional “I have no clue” cry. Letting go of the feelings is cathartic and provides relief to children, it’s how they work their way through to the other side of the conflict in their hearts.

Holding in tears, keeping emotions inward or stifling them can be harmful to self esteem, but also to our bodies. The nervous and cardiovascular systems are impacted greatly by stress, as many adults know very well. We want to instill the value of expressing your emotions early so young children develop healthy coping strategies now. (Seriously, crying can lower your blood pressure according to Dr. William H. Frye II PhD)

The other benefit to letting a child cry when they feel the need is the ability to inspire community. When children see that another child is crying, it creates an opportunity to empathize with their peer. Children will reach out to one another, offer hugs, stories, conversation even. It’s a tool that can enrich the classrooms emotional environment.

Please keep in mind that I’m not saying to ignore a crying child. I’m simply saying that trying to make a child stop crying or not allowing them to cry at all is unhealthy. This is something to keep in mind especially as children move out of infancy. Our expectations change as they have more skills and language, but the child will still feel sad. Crying is a natural way of expressing feelings at any age, and regardless of your gender. Remember, boys can cry too.

So the next time you have a sad child in front of you, give them a snuggle and let them cry it out.

check me out on facebook

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What I did on my summer vacation:

I visited family, swam in their pool and listened to my son laugh. I went for a lot of walks and ate really good food. I took my son to one of those indoor arcades that I really don’t enjoy, but he loves! I sent my husband and son off to the fair together. I went to the ocean with them next. We ate ice cream almost every night, went walking on the beach and looked at the sand and waves. We spent hours and hours in the water and on the beach. My husband and I got to have uninterrupted conversations. And we just spent time as a family.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, it’s more important than ever to take time as a family. Leave your house, chores, and worries behind. Just hanging out together helped us reconnect and remember all the good parts of our life together.

I also returned to my work feeling renewed and energized. Having that time out of my typical surroundings and spending time in nature gives me a lift. I hope everyone can take time to have a vacation now and then, even if it’s just a couple days to walk away from your worries and start fresh. It’s so worth it.

check me out on facebook

IMG_7047-1.JPG

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Being honest with kids..,why is it so important?

When it comes to kids, it’s tempting to sugarcoat answers to their questions. Children are curious beings, and we want to nurture that curiosity. But guess what? If we give them cute answers or un-truths, we are doing them a disservice. If we give them answers that are simple so they can understand, but are based on fact, they will seek further answers as they grow. Being honest will actually nurture the critical thinking skills that are so important.

Some questions I’ve been asked over the years include:

Where do babies come from?
Why is that man sleeping on the bench?
How come that lady is acting silly?
How come that kid needs a wheelchair?

And the inspiration for this post, my son of course. A car full of teenagers was pulled over in front of our house tonight. There were 2 sheriffs, 1 town officer, and 1 state K-9 unit. Now he’s. 9, so I had to go into more detail than I would with a three or four year old, but basically I went with the truth. They broke the law and there are consequences. This led to a conversation about laws, police, drugs, and safety. What an amazing opportunity for him to learn about these things. Someone asked me why I would tell him about drugs, but I would rather he hear about the topic from his parents. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before he tunes us out!

20140522-215123-78683324.jpg

check out my facebook page

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Math: How to include more math in play

20140516-230022.jpg

I recently attended a workshop that focuses on integrating math into literacy and play. It was sponsored by Vermont’s Early Learning Initiative, and training was based on the new common core state standards and Mother Goose Cares About Math and Science, a VT Center for the Book program. see more about mother goose here.

1) math doesn’t always mean numbers and 1,2,3’s.

It can be shapes, patterns, and sounds, or even the events in a story. When a child hugs a big tree, stretching their arms around it, they’re doing math. Ask them how many more friends can hug the tree. Using a non-standard unit of measurement is still math. We can also nurture pattern observation by providing small items for sorting such as pompoms or wooden beads. Noticing various attributes is math. Offer an egg carton for sorting, ask the child to tell you about the shapes, colors, or other properties they notice.

2) kids love to be mathematicians and scientists.

Children respond to being trusted, valued, and heard. What better way to support this value than to gather predictions from the children and conduct experiments, and then chart the results. “How many shoes do we need to line up to get to the door?” Grab a large piece of paper and make a T chart. “How many of us have brown eyes? Blue?…” Create a pie chart illustrating the eye colors of the whole group. Charting is also a great opportunity to use words like more, less, near, far.

3) books and pictures don’t have to be about shapes or counting to provide opportunities for math learning.

A book about jungle animals can be just as valuable as a book on 1,2,3’s. Look for patterns or rhythms in the words (Dr. Seuss books are great for this). Clap your hands to the beat of the rhymes. Help the children identify the recurring characters on each page. They’ll learn to recognize shapes if they have practice, even if they’re not geometric shapes.

4) incorporate materials and routines that offer opportunity for math.

The children in my care set the table everyday. They count how many friends are here and identify the dishes we need. They practice 1 to 1 correspondence when placing one plate at each seat. We also count heads on our way out the door and on the way in. Offering materials such as dominoes, dice, small items for sorting, and measuring tools are helpful as well. As children learn what three dots look like, counting will become easier. Seeing standard tools of measurement will also prepare the children for their eventual use.

Most of these suggestions are geared toward preschool age children, but keep in mind that they are easily adapted to support many ages. And remember, just because they’re little, doesn’t mean that toddlers aren’t capable of learning math concepts. I have seen children as young as 18 months recognizing simple visual patterns, like seeing a dog on every page of a book.

check out my childcare program on Facebook

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

When Accidents Happen…

20140401-221243.jpg

https://www.facebook.com/pages

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How do I do this?

My dear friend is dying, and I care for a family member of hers. How do I smile and be a consistent presence for this child when all I want to do is cry ? In my head I know that the best thing I can do for my friend is support her family, both as a friend and teacher. But all I want to do is drop everything and go see her. I won’t, but how do I keep the tears at bay?

I don’t have an answer for this one…any of you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized