Why did I choose to do family child care?

I have been in child care for almost 30 years! Over these almost 30 years I have accumulated experience in daycare centres, family resource centres and nursery school programs. I have worked front line, as a supervisor and as a director. About 4 years ago I made the decision to move from public centre care to family child care. Why would I make this leap? Family child care offers little pay for long hours and little respect from the general child care community but it also offers me the opportunity to do what I love to do and what I know is right!  I love working with the children directly. I love being able to be my own boss and create a program I am in control of and proud of. I know children learn, develop and grow best through play and having the freedom to make decisions. I knew the best place for this to happen was in family child care. We have freedom from schedules and unneeded routines. We can add to our play or move on whenever the children are ready. We follow their lead! They are the ones who plan the curriculum. We as the adults are there to support what they need, ask thought provoking questions and encourage their path of self discovery. Like all child care programs, each family child care program is a bit different. Each program reflects the training and beliefs of the provider running it. My personal philosophy strongly supports play based learning and getting messy, the freedom to make decisions about as much as possible, and getting children back to outdoors and creating a love of nature. I believe children need the opportunity to think for themselves and develop skills to be creative  ‘out of the box’ thinkers, and time to figure things out and problem solve on their own. These are skills that they need as they grow and move into adulthood. I love the small multi age groups that family child care offers. Where else in a child care setting can siblings choose to play together or not? Older children are often seen helping and assisting the younger ones. The younger ones look up to the older ones and they try to model their play after the older children. We have developed a community here. We are allowed to play with who we want. We create the games that are inclusive but we can be also choose to play alone. We don’t have to share. We do have to be respectful of everyone and everything. These are a few of the reasons I chose family child care.  ...

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Building a Community

As 2016 comes to a close I decided it was time to reflect on this past year; the good stuff, the challenges, and the celebrations… The good stuff: All the kids have grown in so many ways! They have developed new skills, asked lots of questions, and developed self confidence in so many ways. The challenges: Everyone is learning how to grow socially and emotionally. They are figuring out how they each fit into the world and how to deal with other kids and adults as well as their own emotions. The celebrations: We love to celebrate the big and little events; when someone learns a new skill like printing letters or is confident enough to jump off a stump. One of my own personal goals I had when I opened up my own family child care program was to create a sense of community within the daycare. What does that look look like? What does that feel like? I have done a  lot of thinking about this. For me, the base of a community is a group of people/families who are connected to each other not only through the use of a service but through a common goal. I see our common goal as providing a safe, warm atmosphere for children to grow and learn and a place for parents to find support when needed or just a friendly face at the end of a long work day. Have I succeeded in creating a community? I feel like we have a very good base here. Parents, are encouraged to ask questions. I try to find the answers for them or set them in the right direction. I have also seen relationships develop between the families here. I think this is a sign that there is a strong sense of community here. I am strong believer that there is always more to do, more to learn, more ways to improve and grow. I think I have created a good base for our little community to continue becoming stronger. Now I need to make sure it keeps growing and I need to keep looking for ways to support and encourage that growth and progress. Heres to all the adventures we shall share together in...

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Risky Play

A hot topic these days in the childcare world is risky play. For many years we have been working hard to bubble wrap kids and eliminate all possible risks and hazards that might be in their way. There is a new thought out there that says if we don’t let kids take little risks now, then they will not know how to deal with any kind of risks when they get older. When faced with this topic I often think back to my own childhood and the time I spent in the school playground by myself. We had the traditional playground that I am sure most of you remember from your own childhoods. There were the swings, slides, teeter totter, and monkey bars; the kind that were about 4 feet or so high and 4 feet long. I remember swinging as high as I could, pumping my legs and trying to get high enough to see over the bar. I also remember standing on the seat and pumping myself up that way. The feeling in my stomach I would get the higher I went was exciting. I loved the feeling of the wind in my hair and oh, the feeling of flying when I jumped off that swing! I had a mission when it came to those monkey bars. I would climb the 3 steps and hold onto the first bar. I would look across them to the end which back then felt like a mile but I am sure was only 7 or 8 bars until the end. I would hold the first bar and hang there working up to reaching for the next bar, and the next one only to drop after 3 bars. I kept at it for weeks. I would begin hand over hand,going as far as I was capable of and each time I got up there I would challenge myself more and more. Eventually I made it. It took me weeks of trying and trying but I made it! The feeling of accomplishment I had when I got to the end was amazing. Wow! I did it… all by myself, I did it. I was so proud of my accomplishment. I never went further or faster than I felt comfortable and safe with. I can say the same about the swings. I never went higher than I felt comfortable with. The kids love to climb up on chair to get higher or they climb on the picnic table outside and jump off. It is very interesting to watch them as they identify their own comfort levels and regulate themselves. The little ones stand up there with pride and them ask for a hand...

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The Best Toy Store, Ever!

After being in the child care field for as long as I have and after having 2 children and many nieces and nephews I have been to more than my share of toy stores!! I always get so frustrated when I head out with the goal of finding something new or really cool for the kids at daycare and all I can find is pink or blue and plastic! A large majority of toys break after a couple ‘plays’ or they really have no play value to begin with. When we think back to what our kids really enjoy playing with, what comes to mind? I can remember a lot of boxes being played with rather than the toys. I also know how much the kids prefer to play with the ‘real thing’. They want to play with real pots and pans. They want to get into your closet and play with your fancy dresses and shoes. They want to get their hands on the tools and toys YOU play with! They want to try on being just like you! So… where can you find a toy store that caters to this kind of play? A second hand store! Here in Portage we have MCC. It is a treasure trove of all kinds of cool things!  Sometimes you have to do a little digging but it is worth the time…and let’s face it, the prices can’t be beat! I have found all kinds of pots and pans, kitchen utensils for our play kitchen as well as in the sand box. I have also found phones, sunglasses, necklaces, hats, scarves, ties, dresses and skirts for all kinds of pretend play. The vests I discovered are really cool and make you look like a farmer, according to the boys.                 I have also been able to find some gems in the book area.  A great find one day were dinosaurs in the toy area which cost me around $3.00. In the toy store I would have paid closer to $25.00! Now that I have given away my secret I encourage you to check out a second hand store looking the merchandise through the eye of your...

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Celebrating I Love to Read Month

We have celebrated reading this month by having a several visitors come in and read to us. Some of our visitors brought favorite books from home and others choose from a few from a selection we had picked out that we knew the kids loved. We started the month off with Teresa, a friend of Randi’s. Mayor Ferris Travis Roberts from 93.1   Avrie’s Mom, Tannis   In the next week we had 3 more visitors. Julie Baker from Trinity United Church Ben’s Mom, Rachele RCMP Constable Crystal Perry The last week was just as busy. Corey Jowett, a captain with Portage Fire Department Thomas and Evelyn, 2 paramedics from our local EMS        Lori from Portage Regional Library, who is also Jacob’s Mom All our kids love to read. We always have books out and around for anyone to pick up at any time. Many of the kids enjoy snuggling up on the couch with a blanket and a good book!  The babies are just as excited to find a favorite and sit down with one of us and read. I am sure we could have 12 copies of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom here! A few ways books enhance kids development: -Kids learn that the marks on the pages are letters and the letters make words. -Kids learn small muscle control and how to hold a book -Kids learn direction; front to back / up to down -Kids learn respect for books -books encourage language development and conversations -books open kids up to enjoy stories -kids imaginations begin to create their own stories -books are a great opportunity to develop special bonds and traditions with your kids   So pick up that well loved favourite, snuggle up and enjoy a good read together!...

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