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Why did I choose to do family child care?

Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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 to help them jump off. The older ones get up there and jump off all by themselves. The smiles on their faces when then jump off and land show how proud they are of themselves. Then they race back up to the top of the table again and again.   These are important skills for kids as well as adults to have; to be able to look at a risk, assess it and decide if it something they can feel comfortable attempting.  When kids don’t have the opportunity to take risks at an early age, they can’t learn how to...

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The Best Toy Store, Ever!

Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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 child to spend time?...

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Multi-Age Program

Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on January 11, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

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!

Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Children Naturally News | 0 comments

 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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