Next week, NAEYC, is having their annual Week of the Young Child. This reminds me of the 2009 event, when childcares across Maine, displayed children’s art work at the State House. My son and I delivered cookies to the Senators and Representatives. Attached to each cookie was a painted child’s hand print with a tag line, which was something like, “high five for quality child care” or “raise a hand for kids.” I wish I could remember what it was!
Over the years I have been an outspoken advocate for quality childcare. I have testified in Augusta several times.
In 2009, providers fought for their right to have homeowners insurance with LD 896 An Act to Ensure Adequate Access to Insurance for Family Child Care Providers. I was please to testify and now today providers have are not turned away simply because they have a home based childcare.
“Testified this morning opposing LD 559. The workshop will be next Monday & the committee has lots of questions for DHHS. Hopefully this bill will be opposed! Joshua & I tried to visit the State House Museum, but it wasn’t open today. Oh well, Joshua still got to experience a bill hearing.”
Currently there is a bill on the floor, LD 166 An Act To Increase Reimbursement for Child Care Services. This is needed! Please contact your legislator today! We need higher subsidy rates to ensure quality child care for all of Maine’s children!
It’s important to encourage a child’s sense of magic and wonder. I’m not talking about Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny, I mean real magic…
The children in this picture noticed a rainbow. They were mesmerized, trying to understand how it came to be on the wall. Had it been there all this time? How had they not noticed it before? When they placed their hands on it, how did the color go onto their hands? Why was it only on this part of the wall and not everywhere else? And many more questions came from a simple rainbow on a wall.
Activities such as this, spark curiosity, which promotes higher cognitive thinking. From their interest, sparked over a month-long curriculum unit on rainbows.
I have a prism in the classroom, to promote intrigue and curiosity. I filled our glass vases with colored water in… rainbow order of course. The children had a rejuvenated interest with the wooden rainbow. (Which is one of the BEST purchases I have ever made, over 8 YEARS AGO! Link at the bottom of the page.)
As we delved deeper into the science of a rainbow, their curiosity expanded to shadows. It brought me (and the children) such joy as they experimented with light and shadow; the cause and effect of moving their bodies closer or farther away from the light source, the social interactions as they created “shadow plays.”
Their learning was authentic, they owned it. I was there to support them, scaffold upon their interests. If I had tried to push and “teach” the concept of a rainbow before this moment, I do not feel it would have been as successful.
I urge you to look around your classroom and think about how you can incorporate more, “magic and wonder.”
Having children serve themselves makes many providers uneasy. “So much food is wasted.” “What if one child takes everything?” “There is more mess.” I often hear these comments when talking with fellow providers.
Their concerns were my concerns when I first thought about family style dining. Self-serving at meal time is a skill which needs to be taught. We start with one item to self-serve and pitcher of milk at the shorter toddler table. At the larger table for the older children, we place all the meal components. Over time the children are able to regulate how much they serve and less food is wasted. In the long run, family style dining makes meal time easier for providers and more fun for everyone!
What do children learn from family style dining? The answer is SO MUCH! Children practice their math skills as they count the number of apple slices or scoops of peas they place on their plate. Social skills are practiced as they ask each other to pass the milk, interact in conversation, and practice table manners. They practice gross and fine motor skills as they lift the pitcher of milk and grip their utensils.
Another skill learned is INDEPENDENCE! After the children are finished, they clear up. It helps promote their self-esteem, confidence, and problem solving skills. It’s hard work navigating around the chairs as they carry plates and cups.
Having children be self sufficient at this task is a huge help to the staff at meal time.
I encourage everyone to work towards family style dining!
Here are a few resources to learn more about family style dining.
Thanks for joining us here at Shunk Child Care! We’ve been getting many requests and inquiries from our colleagues and peers about how we run our program, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to create this blog. We are very proud of the work we do, and how we have changed and adapted our program to be the best it can be. We look forward to interacting with you all as we continue to learn and have fun!
It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass