Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Kids Matter

Introducing Shade C.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

For this week’s meet and greet, I bring to you a wonderful guy who has an absolutely great personality. Please meet Shade. (I just love that name!) He is a newbie to the CCC, having been with us for less than a year. He is an Eligibility Specialist serving the counties of Carter, Elliot, Lewis, Menifee, Morgan, and Rowan.

On March 22, 2014, Shade had the greatest achievement of his life, so far. What was that momentous occasion? He married the love of his life, Kala, and what a beautiful bride she is. You can just feel their happiness in the picture above. They have a short haired gray cat, with a few specs of pink on her nose, named Dulce. When I asked about his favorite vacation, I could feel the joy of the memory in his words. “My favorite vacation would be my honeymoon! My wife and I went to New Orleans; great culture, fun activities, and amazing food. I recommend it to everyone, at least once”. Shade is the cook of the home and I love the fact that he likes to do theme nights with the meals. They also have a weekly date night outing. Now, that is sweet.

Shade’s hobbies include, “… reading books (I don’t discriminate, I love all books equally… well except for romance novels. Irony.) I also write every morning”. As a boy, living in Louisa, KY, he grew up in a home with two sisters and his mother. His grandparents were also a huge part of his life, filling in while his mom went to college to become a teacher. Louisa, in Lawrence County, “… is a small town in Eastern KY, so far east, that we’re practically in West Virginia. As a kid there wasn’t a whole lot to do,” he said. So, what’s a kid do when there isn’t much to do? Shade and his cousin, Curtis, spent many an hour climbing and jumping from tree to tree. He said, “… looking back, not the smartest decision I’ve made. This could also explain why I had so many broken bones”.

I asked if he had someone from his childhood that he would like to send a message to and if so, who would it be and why? I got a great kick out of his response, and I think a lot of us wish the same. He said, “Myself, and the message would be… ‘Invest in Google!’ Joking. In truth, my Art Teacher, Mrs. Thornsburry. The message would be ‘thank you!’ She was a teacher of strong conviction and didn’t let me get by with only half doing my work.”
Shade graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater. So, how does a man with those credentials come to work for a child care assistance program? That’s an interesting story and it attests to the character and personality of this young man. He said, “In all honesty, I fell into it. I was volunteering for a program back in college called Theater Diversion. This is a program to help troubled teens get a second chance, without having to go to court. Instead, using theatre, we taught them creative ways to express themselves instead of the destructive ones that got them sent to us. To say the kids were resistant would be an understatement. At first, I thought about walking away. However, I learned long ago, anything worth something involves time and persistence. The same can be said for my time volunteering for that program. It was rough at first, but in the end, the kids performed a show for their parents and teachers, who had mostly just written them off as trouble makers. It was nice to see the change in their expressions toward the children.” It was that caring for children attitude that compelled him to join the child care assistance program. He knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that parents need to know their child is well taken care of in their absence.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Classroom Rules for Your Staff!



Classroom Rules for Your Staff!

Julia @ Kids Matter

          In my years as an early educator, I was constantly going over classroom rules with eager to please preschoolers. They learned that list by heart in circle time. Practicing those good policies seemed to mysteriously disappear when it came to certain situations within the day to day life of a four year old.

          So, why don’t we have basic rules for our staff as well? The State Regulations are black and white and have very little room for variance. Does your staff know all the state regulations? It is imperative that your staff does, and it is up to you to make sure they have that knowledge.  Have monthly quizzes with regulation questions for your staff, to keep them up to date!  You should be doing a daily classroom walk through and schedule hour long observations monthly in each classroom. You should also have a quarterly staff meeting to go over rules and events. Having a professional development day listed in your parent handbook, as a closed center day, is also a great idea. Host several trainers that day to come and teach your staff new ideas and techniques to use with all age groups in your center.           

          True leaders encourage their staff members to want to do their very best. Here is a list of rules that I feel are vital to having successful and happy staff:

Rule #1

Smoke free campus.

Idea: ½ Hour or hour lunch breaks to leave campus.

Rule #2

No cell phones.

Idea: Walkie-talkies in rooms to communicate in emergency situations.

Rule #3

Have a tasteful and appropriate dress code.

Idea: Employee uniforms like T-shirt or polo and nice jeans or khaki pants.

Rule #4

No outside food or drink.

Idea: Provide a peaceful and fully equipped break room.

Rule #5

No personal visitors in the classrooms.

Idea: Allow for personal visitors to drop items off or say hello only in your office. Have a substitute teacher step in that classroom to free up the teacher.

Rule #6

Use a strict call in sick policy.

Idea #6: Allow your full time staff a few extra PTO days throughout the year. Teaching little ones is stressful and exhausting. By allowing a few extra days on top of their vacation and sick time, it will help with calling in issues.

Rule #7

Classroom cleanliness should be a priority.

Idea: Post a cleaning checklist in each classroom. Make sure, every morning, that a walk through is done upon opening the center. If a director does not open the center, entrust a lead teacher to do this job.

Rule #8

Limit foul language.

Idea: Provide a list, in your employee handbook, of vocabulary or slang that people don’t always realize is inappropriate for use around children.

Rule #9

Teach social media etiquette.
Idea: You should not ask for access to your employees’ Facebook or Twitter pages. But, have them sign a pledge, upon hire, saying they will not use it as a means to discuss, bully, harm, or intimidate fellow co-workers, children, or families within the daycare center.

What other rules do you use in your daycare that might help others?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff


Introducing Angela S.

Robin @ Kids Matter

Angela is originally from Huntington, West Virginia.  Her sister, who lives in Lexington, invited Angela to come to Kentucky for a life change.  She came, liked it, and stayed.  And, we are glad she did! Angela’s background, before coming to the CCC, was working in human resources.  She loved to interview, train, and teach employees.  A lot of her background in West Virginia was in the education field.  She said, “I love talking to people and interacting.  I am a nurturer.  I get that from my mom.  She taught me to love to make people feel better and to diffuse problems. “Angela came to the CCC five years ago, and has worked in several departments, including the call center where she now works.  She said she really looks forward to the program opening to new clients again, because the program does so much good for families!

The most influential person to Angela, as she was growing up, was her mother.  She said, “Mom was the most generous, loving, caring person I know.  She was a stay at home mom, who didn’t work until all her children were in high school.  She was always accessible.  When I lost my dad and brother, Mom was very strong through it all.  She’s my heart.”

As a teen, Angela was kind of a loner.  She was very family oriented and loved to spend her free time reading, which is still one of her favorite hobbies.  (Along with her two puppies: Sugar, a Chihuahua/Terrier mix, and Princess, a 6 week old Lab.)  Angela said, “I’m in a circle, and they are the world circled around me.  We learned to be each other’s best friends.  I think if more people would do this; the world would be a better place.  It’s important to know that no matter what, your family will always be in your corner.”  To her, family means faithfulness, love, generosity, and wholeness.

Angela has been married to Wesley for eight years.  She said that he’s her rock and her safe place when the world gets too hard.  They have seven children, and seven grandchildren.  It looks like seven is their lucky number!  The person Angela said she admires the most, is her daughter, Chant’e.  Chant’e was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident a few years ago.  Doctors had expected her to be paralyzed from the neck down, but Chant’e is a fighter and worked very hard in her recovery.  She now has her own apartment and continues to work hard and thrive.  What an inspiration! When I asked Angela about the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, her reply was, “… my daughter opening her eyes when they rolled her into ICU after the accident.  A tear fell down her cheek when I told her she would be ok.  The Lord was with her.” 

Her greatest influence on her children, “… they say that I am God fearing, very strong, kind, generous to a fault, and very loving.  I hope that I’ve shown them that they can be too!”  Raising her children to be the successful, respectful parents and contributors to society that they are, is her greatest accomplishment.  Angela said, “… they are awesome people, and I’m not saying that just because they are mine.  I’ve done a good job with the help of the Lord.”
Her parting advice to us all, “… always be kind, generous, and loving.  It does pay!”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tummy +Time = Learning



Tummy +Time = Learning

Kimberly Gipson (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter

“Oh great, I’ve overslept again!”  This has been my “good morning statement,” lately as I rush to get up and get ready; in order to make it to work before the time clock hits the 7-minute mark, branding me as “late again!” I whisk my little one from her crib, greet her with a quick peck to wish her good morning; and, while still in her multipurpose pajamas, place her ever so gently into her car seat and hand her a bottle; knowing she can’t quite hold it yet.

I toss us in the car and pray for every red light to turn green! I reach my first destination and race through the doors of the daycare without noticing the other screaming children.  I sign my child in and hurry down the hall as though the teacher will put a dreaded “T” for tardy by her name!  As I enter the room, a sea of young infants are strapped in car seats, bouncy chairs and swings.  Some of them are crying, while others look dazed and bewildered.  I look into my sweet baby girl’s eyes and see that same look and think, “Oh good, it must be normal for babies to look like this early in the morning.”  Leaving her in her car seat with her bottle, I scribble some instructions on the report sheet and tack it to the board.  Off I go to my final destination; work!

For many of us, our days are just like this; jam-packed with tasks and errands before the work day even begins.  We are a “fix-it quick generation!  Our intentions are good; however, the outcomes leave us lacking physically, emotionally, cognitively, creatively, and spiritually.  We fix-it when conflicts arise between our children, because we don’t have time for our children to argue over such things as toys.  We fix-it when our children are bored and don’t know what to play because we don’t have time to share 10 ways to play outdoors with the abundance of natural objects we can find.  Even with our infants we fix-it to keep them from becoming upset because we don’t have time for the crying.  Now, don’t take this wrong; as parents and caregivers it is our natural instinct to want to fix-it, and we should… to an extent.   Next to valuing the safety and security of our children, whom we love so dearly, what is the reason we want to fix-it?  Time!   Goodness, we rush to and from one event or another throughout our day.  We must do this and pick up that. We must go here and then go there, and sometimes we run just about everywhere!  Sound like a Dr. Seuss story? 

Yet, on any given day, we miss the opportunity to teach our children so many things like empathy, how to have healthy relationships, or even master simple self-help skills such as reaching, grasping, crawling, and walking.  I know what you are thinking right now…Have you seen my schedule?” “I make it a point to have a little snuggle time with my baby before I prepare for the next day, so… how can I do this? Isn’t that what they are supposed to do at the day care?”

The answer is yes and no!  Infants learn in any environment; however, it is when babies are on their tummies that they learn so much more from the world around them!  Research shares that when young infants have the opportunity for tummy time; it significantly fosters the development of small and large motor skills, supports head and neck muscles, and strengthens trunk control. In turn, these skills are essential in reaching developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting alone, pulling-up, and walking.

As parents and caregivers, we need to incorporate tummy time into our infant’s schedule; this includes at home and in the day care.  Parents, we can spend just a few minutes tummy-to-tummy with our babies as we read a story, or use a simple lap soothe before bed time. Professionals need to offer infants opportunity for tummy times throughout the day, as well.  Placing an infant on their tummy and providing them a simple toy to see and reach for, offers so much excitement!   We need to be mindful that when we include such strategies as tummy minute or tummy-to-tummy time, we are helping strengthen muscles and nurture skills needed later in life. Does school readiness ring a bell?

Individuals learn by applying knowledge gained from life’s experiences; children are individuals, too! In order to grow, we must offer opportunities throughout the child’s day for them to apply their new knowledge to new experiences.  Think of it this way; when we keep children in swings, bouncy chairs, car-seats, and high chairs, are we not strengthening their skill of becoming couch potatoes?  Just a thought...

For more information on simple tummy time techniques, visit www.Pathways.org.

 

Kimberly Gipson is North Anchor for the University of Kentucky, in the Quality Enhancement Initiative.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff


Rodney (husband), Kennedy (granddaughter), Nick (son), Kaylyn (daughter) at
UK Pharmacy School White Coat Graduation
Meet the Child Care Council Staff
Introducing Melissa W.
Belinda @ Kids Matter
I think most people will agree that there are days when we just need a good laugh, right? I have to say, the day I interviewed Melissa was one of those days for me and man, did she make me laugh. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much I did. She truly is an amazing person, with a delightful sense of humor and wonderful caring nature. Please allow me to introduce Melissa, a 16 year veteran of the CCC serving the counties of Boyle and Mercer as an ES. Melissa loves her job because, “I love helping people… it simply makes me feel good to know I am able to make someone else’s life better.”
Melissa, born in Chicago, moved to Caney, KY in 1976. Melissa is one of five children. She and her siblings blazed trails throughout the mountains around her home, “… playing every game from hide-n-seek to cops-n-robbers”. Melissa attributes becoming a hiking aficionado to those precious times with her siblings spent hiking the four beautiful mountain tops surrounding their home.
Hiking is a huge part of Melissa’s life and, acting as a contagion, has spread rampant through her household with the exception of her husband who she says, “… is like hiking with an old bear”. She and her “old bear” plan to go on a hiking adventure with another couple at Yosemite National Park in California. (By the time this posts, she will have already made the trip so, be sure and ask for pictures. It has to be gorgeous there!)
Melissa’s family consists of her husband, Rodney, to whom she has been married 22 wonderful years. Her son, Nicholas, who just finished his first year at the UK School of Pharmacy, and his daughter, Kennedy, who is four and is the, “new little sunshine” in their family. Melissa’s daughter, Kaylyn, just finished her second year of undergrad at SEU in Florida. Melissa said she always called her daughter “my sunshine” so, it’s no wonder she loves it in Florida. Kassidy, Nick’s fiancĂ©, is also a beloved member of the family. They also have a 12 year old dog named Andy, who is the protector of the family.
While each of the members of the household goes about their busy schedules every day, they also have an alternate life as superheroes. What, you say? You read correctly. I often ask interviewee’s if they were a superhero, who it would be, what powers would they have, and why. Melissa took this question to a whole new level and I was absolutely delighted with her response. “If you didn’t know, I am already a superhero. I am Lunar Woman. My husband is Solar Man. My daughter is Techno girl. My son is Aqua Man. Now, let me explain. Each character emerged from my mouth one night while I was quite agitated at my husband for leaving the lights on all over the house! He loves all the Marvel Comics and movies about superheroes and it, like hiking, rubbed off on all of the rest of the family. I asked him why he constantly leaves the light on in every room of the house, but then I answered my own question. I said, ‘I know, you are Solar Man and you derive all of your power from the sun (or artificial lighting). I then must be Lunar Woman, as I have to keep Solar Man from gaining too much power as that would make him impossible to live with’. At this point I was on a roll, so I brought our children into it. ‘My son, Nick, is Aqua Man, as he must get his power from the extremely long showers he takes. My daughter is Techno Girl, who gets her power from technology (she had over 13,000 texts on her phone, a constant source of irritation)’. We are a family of superheroes who gain our power first through Jesus Christ, who strengthens us, and then through the love, laughter and tears we have shared as a family. Our greatest contribution is the example we set for others, something I have always told my children.”
Melissa’s very favorite food is watermelon, which she says she eats every single day and her husband is the one that cuts it up for her. Now, that’s love and I’m thinking Lunar Woman is a much better superhero name than Watermelon Girl. Her favorite get you up and going song is by Jesus Culture and is called, “Happy Day”. She graduated from Berea College with a degree in Child Development. She contributes her success in life to her father whom she says, “… showed me what true love and sacrifice look like by watching him walk out his faith in Christ every day of his simple, yet complicated life. I have never met a more content man who has so little possessions. I hope to be like him one day. I am so thankful to have him in my life and every time I go visit, I am humbled by the fingerprints on all of our pictures from him putting his hands on the frames each night and praying for us all.”
“Family, is the people God places around you to challenge you daily to be better; to know you like no one else does and to love you in spite of yourself. You take family with you wherever you go. Family is not a bunch of independent people doing their own thing but rather an interwoven group of individuals with personal strengths and struggles that help and are helped by each other making an even stronger more beautiful tapestry in the end.”  Her advice to families everywhere, “… build the foundation strong while you are young and root your children deep in Christ so that when the storms come, you will be able to weather them together. The soccer games and dance classes will not hold you together, but all the prayers will.”

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Make a Felt or Flannel Board

How to Make a Felt or Flannel Board
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Before we get to how to make a felt or flannel board, we need to determine what one is. Felt boards are used as visual aids in teaching. Often, these boards are hand crafted to coincide with the planned lesson. For instance, if the lesson plan includes the song, “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed” then the felt board would show an image of a bed and five monkeys. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” holds true. There are three types of learners: tactile learners, who learn by touch and feel, auditory learners, who learn by sound, and visual learners, who learn by sight. Adding a visual aid to your lesson can aid all three types of learners. The auditory learner will be interested in what you are saying. The visual learner will be drawn in by actually seeing the images in the lesson. To entice the tactile learner, use different fabrics, shapes, and sizes to pull them into the lesson by allowing them to touch the board.
Now that we know the purpose of a felt board, how do we make one?
http://storytimekatie.com/2011/10/07/flannel-friday-flannelboard-kit/
Supplies: Felt, flannel, or other fabric, tacky glue, tape, scissors, googley eyes, paint, paperclips, popsicle sticks, paint cup, ribbon, paint pens, embroidery floss or yarn & needles, Velcro (if you want them moveable), cotton batting, and a piece of cardboard, old picture frame, or old chalkboard for your base. The amount of materials is dependent upon how detailed you want to make your board.

Instructions:  Stretch the material over your base and glue. Determine, from your lesson, the objects to go on the board.  Search the internet for patterns of those objects. Coloring sheets make great patterns. Use the patterns to cut out the objects from your selected material. Remember to use different colors and textures on your objects. Glue or Velcro the objects to your board. Be cognizant of the age group you are teaching. Tiny hands quickly find their way to the mouth.
Felt boards are super simple to make and provide loads of fun and entertainment for your audience. They can be as simple or as creative as you would like. Below are a few examples to get you started. Have fun with your lesson plan!