Why choose Licensed Child Care …and what does it all mean!

I have had some interesting conversations with people over the last few months about licensed vs. unlicensed child care. I have worked in licensed child care programs my entire career which spans 25 years. I really want to share with you what being licensed truly means. All licensed programs go through a licensing process to become licensed. This includes creating policies and procedures based on the regulations set by the government. These can be found in the Best Practices Licensing Manual. (I can show you this book at any time and it can also be found on line) The policies and procedures may seem extreme at times but they are in place to protect you and your child as well as me, Every licensed program has a coordinator to help support with things like regulations, policies and any other issues that may arise. They want the programs to succeed and provide they best support they can.  They visit each program several times throughout the year. These visits are drop-in visits which mean they arrive unannounced. We also go through a re-licensing process once a year. The coordinator comes in, observes and goes through the policies and other regulations to make sure they are all being followed.   Included in the yearly licensing/re-licensing process: The coordinator looks for a variety of things -everyone who works in child care programs or lives in the provider’s home has completed criminal checks and child abuse registry checks -required policies are posted (license, behaviour management, menus, fire escape routes, emergency phone numbers) -space has enough age appropriate toys for kids -space is safe (inside and outside) -insurance is up to date -any/all animals have their vaccinations up to date   The Fire Department does an inspection -fire extinguishers inspected and in working order -furnace inspection -space is safe and has not fire hazards   The Health Inspector does an inspection -proper cooking procedures are being followed -proper sanitizing procedures   Unlicensed care, in a nutshell, is legal but they can only care for up to four children including their own at a time. There are no regulations for them to follow, no inspections and no support for them. Not all licensed programs are created equal. There are good and bad in all sectors. What you need to decide as a parent is what are you comfortable with.  You need to feel confident and comfortable when you are leaving your child in someone else’s care. Make sure to take a look around the space and program and ask lots of questions. Does this program have all the values you have? Do they do things you feel comfortable with? Is this a place where you would want your...

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Multi-Age Program

Benefits of having children in a Multi Age program First of all let’s define what I am referring to when I say multi-age program. This is a program where all ages of kids are together for a good part of the day. We play together, sleep in the same areas together, eat together, and in general spend a lot of our time in the same space.   When I look at a family, we are not all divided in our own age groups separated by walls . We are one group with varying ages, with different interests and different developmental levels. We learn from each other and help each other. We also have conflicts we need learn how to work out. This is all part of being a family.   A multi-age child care program is just like that! We are all together like a family. Since we are all together siblings can find comfort in having each other close, especially if this is their first experience in a child care program. Some programs segregate kids into infants and preschooler groups and other centres separate by actual ages with little contact throughout the day. With different interests and different ages everyone gets involved in different activities and types of play. Sometimes the older ones and younger ones play together and sometimes the older ones want their own space and some ‘alone time’ to do ‘older kid’ things. We are able accommodate both of these types of play. Kids work on developing a sense of empathy. The older kids help the younger ones with a challenging task like a puzzle, reaching a toy or giving a hug. Even the older toddlers are able to see a peer in need of help and don’t’ hesitate to give that helping hand by finding a lost toy or giving a comforting hug.            As much as the younger kids learn from the older kids by wanting to be just like an older buddy; older kids learn from the younger kids too. They learn cooperation, and working together as well as a chance to practice some problem solving techniques.     What kids learn from a multi-age program: -working together           -cooperation -empathy                        -problem solving techniques -social skills                    -emotional skills All of these are skills they will all need as they get older and head off to school and in time become adults.    ...

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Random Acts of Kindness

The kids love to do things for each other. They also love to do things for other people.  Each month we talk with the kids and come up with people in our community to do Random Acts of Kindness for. In the past we have chosen the Portage Fire Department, EMS (Paramedics), the folks at Kitson’s Esso, and the staff at Portage Alliance Church.  If we can walk to deliver our RAK’s, we do that but if it is too far away  we ask them to drop in to see us. In December we did a random act of kindness for the garbage and recycling collectors. We made them thank you cards and gave them Tim Horton gift cards. When they came for garbage and recycling pick up, we ran outside to give them their gifts. With everything in the news this last while, our January RAK is for the RCMP. The kids baked Lemon Muffins and we had 2 constables come to the centre to pick them up.  The kids were able to give them to them with the picture they...

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Getting Outside

Playing outside is an important part of our program (although it is tough to do when we are stuck in the deep freeze of 40 below temperatures!)  If we want kids to learn to love nature and take care of it we need to get them out there and to be comfortable in it. The benefits of playing outside are many! Kids learn to appreciate nature and develop a respect for it. -Kids learn about bugs and that they are really not so scary! We dig for worms, hold lady bugs, look for ants and other crawly things. (I want kids to understand they do not need to step on every insect they see.) We talk about how insects help us; that bees pollinate trees and plants in the garden, worms help the soil drain, and spiders eat mosquitoes!! -Kids who spend time outside in nature are more relaxed. There have been studies done that show kids diagnosed with ADHD showed fewer symptoms after playing outside in nature. -Kids develop their large muscles through running, jumping, hopping, balancing, etc. …and do they ever get rid of a lot of energy running through all that snow! -Kids develop their small muscles through digging in sand and snow, planting seeds, picking leaves and flowers, and making delicacies like snow muffins. -Kids develop thinking skills (cognitive skills) through observing and discussing topics such as the changing seasons, tending to the seeds we have planted, watching the water in the sand box, and moving the loose parts such as wood to create something from their imaginations. They learn where some of our food comes from and watch it grow from seed to vegetable. From there we get to cook with it and get to eat what we grow. -Kids develop language talking about everything they see and hear. We have some great discussions and the kids can hear the train horns, geese honking overhead, the helicopters flying by, and the squirrels chattering at us. -Kids develop social skills through cooperation and working together on different ideas they come up with. We often take the inside out. We read books on a blanket under the trees or have snack outside like a picnic. We also love to paint while being inspired by the colours or textures we are surrounded by. There is nothing as good as hearing the giggles and laughter of kids playing...

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We are Puzzle Crazy!

 We have gone puzzle crazy around here! Before Christmas I bought several new 12 piece puzzles with pictures of heavy duty machines on them. They were a hit!! Several of our ambitious 2 year olds stepped up to the challenge and concurred them in no time. I loved to see how proud they were of themselves when they completed them. When we returned after the Christmas break they were back at them. When we first start working on puzzles we talked a lot about matching colours and lines, looking for similar shapes, and finding the straight edges. The kids are working on being able to see the picture come to together. I love how in a multi age program the younger kids watch the older ones and want to do what the older ones are doing. They strive to be “just like them’. Now one of the 1 year olds has decided she wants to try those puzzles too! She is working very hard at them and beams when we get one done.  As I watched the kids complete these puzzles with increasing confidence I knew they were ready for a new challenge. I went in search of more puzzles last night and found a few. Today I gave them to the kids and watched them work at them and...

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