I LOVE PVC Pipes?

I LOVE PVC Pipes?

For anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE all loose parts! Do I have a favourite? I really don’t want to pick just one… I have so many! Let’s start at defining what loose parts are? For those who may not know what loose parts are let’s start there. Simon Nicholson, the founder of the idea of Loose Parts in 1971 says: “As long as materials can be moved, redesigned, put together, and taken apart in a variety of ways, they are classified as loose parts.” A very basic explanation is loose parts are anything that can be used alone or with something else in a multitude of ways. Our imagination is the only limitation! Think of the toy you give a child as gift… how often are the kids more interested in the box than the expensive gift inside? The box is a LOOSE PART! I could make a very long list of loose parts I love; PVC pipes, tape, sand, water, logs, tree cookies, thread spools, beads, buttons, makeup sponges, pinecones, sticks, leaves, stones, curlers, string, ribbon, …I could go on and on… (and usually do, just ask my family!) I Love PVC Pipes! Is it weird that I proclaim my love of PVC pipes?  I just love this stuff. It comes in black, white, and the best is CLEAR!! What is more fascinating than watching seeds, sand, or water (maybe even coloured water) flowing through the tubes. It can be used inside our outside. It is durable, can be cut into various lengths, and can be found in a variety of diameters as well as lengths. I first discovered the magical world of PVC pipes when I attended a child care conference in North Dakota in 2018 and had the privilege of attending and meeting Tom Bedard. His observations and reflections of children’s play are inspiring.  Sand and Water Table  Tom creates some absolutely amazing constructions using many materials but often uses PVC pipes. I have told him that when I smell duct tape I think fondly of him.   My first attempt at using PVC was pretty basic. A couple pieces, some duct tape and golf balls in the water table.     After that I got a little more adventurous. I used smaller PVC with holes drilled in and all duct taped together. I loved listening to the children get so excited about exploring it and all the different ways to move water through it.   Then there is outside! The creativity and imagination along with PVC and a bit of duct tape can move water along in so many ways). This is more than just what you see… it goes back to the...

Read More

“She’s Capable!”

“She’s Capable!”

One of my greatest joys is to be able to sit back and observe, truly take in and watch what the kids are doing. I love to hear the laughter, the making up of games, the impromptu negotiations that happen when everyone is engaged. One particular day as I was observing a child of about 14 months old was playing. She was climbing in and out of a wagon and I heard one of the three year old kids say, “She’s capable!” My heart soared when I heard that. I think of the many times I have said that to not only adults but to the children as well. We are all so eager and quick to jump to the ‘rescue’ of children. We often don’t give children the time and space to figure things out on their own. I have worked really hard at taking a breath and a step back when children are struggling. They often come up with their own creative solutions. When children are stuck  in “I can’t do it” mode or have never been giving this opportunity before, I try to help with a question or two to get that thinking going. I find great joy in hearing “I did it!” when children discover that they can.   My program is built on my strong belief that children are capable. Adults seem to be so quick to jump in and open the play doh container, pull the wagon, push the swing, draw the picture, solve the disagreements… for children. Is it because we believe children need us to do all this for them? Is it our need to feel needed? Marie Montessori said, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘the children are now working as if I did not exist’. ”   What does this mean to me? It means I have to set up the environment, support the children socially and emotionally and give them the tools and confidence they need to manage situations on their own. Am I still here if they need me? You bet!! …but an adult will not be around all the time after they leave here and enter school. I want them to leave with the belief that they are capable. Recently a child was riding a bike, then briefly left it to get something and came back to continue her play. When she returned another child was on her bike. I watched from a distance as she was clearly telling him she was not done with it yet. He argued and tried to get her to ride something else. Neither was budging. I walked over, knelt down beside them...

Read More

When did we become a community?

When did we become a community?

As I reflect over my six and a half years as a family child care provider I wondered when we evolved into a community? A daycare family? This feeling of community really hit home this past week for me. In March, because of Covid-19, all my regular children stayed home with their families.  Now, after about two and a half months away, the children have started trickling back. One of the kids brought me an envelope her first week back. I happily opened it and found a picture she had created for me as well as a small toy the resembled a moose she got from a Kinder Surprise egg. Her mom said as soon as she saw it she wanted to give it to me. (You see, I do have a love of Moose and over the past few years I always seem to get tagged in a lot of Moose videos, photos and receive many Moose gifts.) I was so touched that she thought of me, even though we had not been together at daycare for quite some time, and wanted to share her toy with me. This is not the only Moose that I have received over the years from the kids I care for. Each time it happens I am struck that they remember me and my love of Moose even when they are away. But it’s more than Moose. A few months ago a child brought me a potato. His dad said he was adamant that I had this. I was just as touched about him thinking of me and wanting me to have the potato as I was about all the Moose. It is more than ‘gifts’, it is about the thinking of others who we care for and are important in our lives. I have had parents tell me their child adds me to the nightly lists of who they love. This certainly goes both ways. When I am on holidays or away from daycare and I see something that makes me think of one of my kids, I know I have to buy it. It could be a book about a topic a child is really interested in right now or it could be a toy/activity/loose part that I know one of them would enjoy. I also see the relationships the children and parents are building with each other. The kids are quick to offer assistance to on another with anything from getting a toy down, putting on a jacket, pouring water, etc. When a child arrives, they are often greeted with stories, and ideas of play and sometimes hugs wether they want them or not before they even get in...

Read More

Looking for the Bright Side of Covid-19

Looking for the Bright Side of Covid-19

There is a lot to complain about when it comes to our current situation; being stuck ( Oh I mean self-isolated) at home, our entire world being disrupted, missing events we were looking forward to, school being closed, lost income, I could go on… but just for a moment what if we looked for a few good things.   Meeting New People I have spent some time thinking about this. What good has come from my current situation? For me the first thing is the new people I have met. Yes!!! I have met many dedicated ECE’s through this pandemic. They have all been through different zoom groups and facebook live events and they have been from across Canada and all over the USA . Many of them are like-minded and I am drawn to groups that have a similar philosophy but I have also met people in these groups who have stretched and challenged my thinking. My family keeps teasing me about all the Zoom calls I have but unlike them I work from home so my world is pretty small and generally only includes my family and the child/ren I care for. I love the kids in my care but I need that adult connection and conversations! While my family are off at work seeing other people, I am working from home so my way of ‘getting out’ is to join groups on Zoom. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom… Slowing Down (and learning to enjoy it… well I’m trying to enjoy it) I don’t sit still very well. I tend to be a putterer, always needing to move. Through all of this I have not closed my program but I have been running at much lower numbers. Actually I had one child for several days. This was a struggle for me for awhile as I pushed myself from puttering and moving most of the day to slowing down and taking a breath. This brought me to a whole new way of looking at my day. I was able to really experience following the flow of the child (since there was only one to follow). We played at his pace, ate at his pace, and engaged in the day at his pace. I realized I was wound up so tight pre-Covid that I was becoming hyper focused on aspects of the schedule. This is kind of funny as my schedule is pretty loose and free flowing but lunch is at 11:30 and darn it, we were going to eat at 11:30! I forgot how to slow down and just sit, just sit…and find the joy. I still find my mind going five different direction but that is an improvement over...

Read More

What was my favourite decade in childcare?

What was my favourite decade in childcare?

I always smile (and brace myself a little) when I get a message that starts out, “Please don’t take offence….” I received this from a past college student and now a respected peer. She wanted to know what my favourite decade in the child care field has been. This implies I have seen a few, and as much as I’d like to think I’m not that old I suppose I am and have seen a few decades go by. I wasn’t really sure what she was looking for so I shared the changes with her that I have seen over the past 30 plus years. This included my personal perspective and growth from being a greenhorn and with really no concrete ideas of my own though my journey to developing and sharing my own strong philosophy. I covered politics and how they have progressed – or not progressed. (Who else remembers the day we had an organized ‘strike’ in the early 90’s? I had a sweatshirt that read Caught in Charlottes Web in reference to Charlotte Oleson, PC MLA at the time – my big political contribution in those days.) We then went on to discuss mentors and who were mine and how I found my purpose when I was lost. I covered a variety of topics but not in a deep way. Did this answer her question? Not really.. she then wanted to know which decade I felt the child care field had seen the most improvement. She was really trying to search for some hard answers. I feel each decade had its own challenges and strides forward or backward. I felt for me it is hard to compare them equally as my understanding of both the political side and the professional (actual hands on) side of child care has changed for me as I’ve gotten to know others, read more, networked more, and grow in my knowledge and confidence. We then dissected the ideas and dug a bit deeper…   Advocacy We talked about how much more advocacy is happening right now. Who knew it was going to be a pandemic that got things really rolling! Our field is standing up like never before and the conversations are revolving around how essential we are to making it possible for essential healthcare workers to go to work and to providing care getting the economy back open. There are also more conversations about quality and what that actually is. I do feel there are a lot more people having a lot more conversations about child care and the importance of the early years and the understanding of brain development now than ever before. Parents We also reflected on  parents and...

Read More