Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Fun Holiday Ideas

It's that time of year when adults are busy making preparations, and children are excited about the upcoming holidays.  Here are a few cute, fun, and educational ideas we found that would be great to do in the next couple of days with the children in your care.

One of our accreditation facilitation programs was making these ornaments as gifts for families this month.  Instructions are also available at All Free Crafts.  This dough is non-toxic, and it smells wonderful!

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Supplies
cinnamon
apple sauce
craft glue
cookie cutters (or cut by hand using plastic knives if you like)
ribbon or yarn
plastic drinking straw
Additional materials for decorations such as glue, paint, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, etc...

Instructions
Mix equal amounts of apple sauce and cinnamon and add 1 teaspoon of craft glue for every cup of applesauce.  Nutmeg or ground cloves can also be added if desired.  Let the children take turns measuring and stirring the ingredients.  Note that the dough may be too sticky, and you may need to add more cinnamon until the dough is easy to work with by hand.

Give each child a lump of dough to work with.  Roll or press dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut shapes with cookie cutters or shape freehand. Use the straw to poke a hole at the top of each ornament. (Adult may have to help with this.)  Place ornaments on a cooling rack or tray to dry completely. Depending on how large your ornaments are, drying could take a couple of days.  You can also put the ornaments on a cookie sheet and place in a 200 degree oven until dry.
Once your ornaments are dry, tie a ribbon or yarn through the hole and, if you like, you can paint these ornaments or add other decorations.


These fun and educational snowmen are from Teach Preschool.  Check out the site for lots of great photos and details about how they did the project.

Five Senses Snowmen

Materials
construction paper
sandpaper
wiggle eyes
small candy canes
jingle bells
cinnamon
scissors
glue

Instructions
During group time, discuss the five senses, sharing materials as examples of things that use each sense.  We can see the paper and wiggle eyes.  We can taste the candy canes (though these aren't for eating!  Consider having some the children may eat on hand.)  We can smell the cinnamon, hear the bells, and feel the sandpaper.  Share some photos of snowmen as well, and place the materials in the art center, encouraging children to create a snowman using the materials.  Let them be creative!  The idea is to use the materials as they wish and to stimulate the five senses.  The goal is not to have a classroom full of identical snowmen.


For a tasty, healthy snack the children can help prepare, this cute idea from Little Wonders Days is fabulous.

Christmas Tree Fruit Salad

Ingredients
green grapes
other small fruits such as red grapes, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, mandarin oranges, star fruit, or cut up kiwi.

Directions
This program used a tree-shaped tray, filled it with grapes, then used the other fruits to "decorate" the tree, placing a slice of star fruit at the top.  Look at this great photo!  Other ideas, in case you don't have such a tray, include using icing or cream cheese to stick fruits in a tree shape on a cookie sheet or plate, or simply allowing kids to enjoy the festive holiday colors as they create and eat their fruit salad.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reducing Stress in Child Care Providers

It is that time of year when teachers, children and families all experience an increase in stress levels. Whether it is from holidays, traveling or extra guests, or just because the weather is frigid and the outside time is shortened, this stress can cause some increased behavior issues in your classroom. The following are some simple strategies to reduce children’s stress, and as a happy consequence, reduce your stress levels and the families’ also!


1. Make changes or add materials to your program gradually. Children are sometimes stressed by novelty and change. Add items a few at a time or make slight changes over a period of several days or even weeks. Be sure to talk about the changes or additions ahead of time. You could add envelopes and “junk” mail to your writing area on one day; wait a few days to add stickers, and few more days to add the mailbox.

2. Set up several or related new activities at the same time, especially if the new area is likely to draw a lot of interest. For example, you can cut down on the competition and stress for the new workbench that only has space for two children, by adding Styrofoam and golf tees to the art area, and by putting tape measures and books about building in the block area.

3. Give children enough time to thoroughly explore materials and work at their own pace. Challenging behavior can be caused by the stress of expectations to finish or leave a project based on someone else’s timetable.

4. Arrange for children to move to a new activity in small clusters. For example, tell them “if you have shoes that tie . . . “ Avoid having everyone change activities at the same time. This promotes running and competition for favorite areas. Also, avoid sending children to a new activity one at a time. This only increases “wait” time and the possibility of challenging behavior.

The bottom line: what is peaceful for the children, is also peaceful for you!

Written by: Barb Vigil, Early Childhood Specialist
Adapted from Child Care Plus+ Newsletter , Spring 2006

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Healthy Holiday Snack Ideas

You can provide holiday themed snacks without overloading preschool children on sugar.  These ideas even allow the children the learning experience of helping to cook the recipes!

Crescent Roll Ornaments

Ingredients:
1 can crescent roll dough
1 small container spreadable cream cheese
1 small container sour cream
Small pieces of chopped vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and red (or green or yellow) pepper

Instructions:
Unroll the crescent roll dough and use cookie cutters to cut ornament shapes. Or use the pre-cut triangles as "trees."  Bake the dough at the temperature on the package until light brown.  In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and sour cream.  Once ornaments/trees cool, allow the children to spread the "icing" on their shapes, then top with the vegetables.

Idea borrowed from Perpetual Preschool.

Holiday Snack Mix

Ingredients:
A variety of healthy, bite size snack items.  Try whole wheat cereal, whole wheat pretzels or snack crackers, air popped popcorn, nuts, or dried fruit.
A small amount of holiday themed snacks, such as red and green candies, chocolate dipped pretzels, or caramel popcorn.

Instructions:
Let the kids make their own snack mixes as desired, but limit the amount of sugary snacks allowed.  Try providing larger bowls of healthier items and larger scoops in those bowls.  Or tell children they get 5 scoops of these items and one scoop of these items, separating healthy options from the candy.

Idea borrowed from Little Wonders' Days.

Healthy Gingerbread Men

Ingredients:
Slices of whole wheat bread
Peanut butter (or spreadable cream cheese)
Raisins or other dried fruit

Directions:
Give each child a slice of bread, and have children use cookie cutters to make gingerbread man shapes.  Allow children to spread the topping with a plastic knife, then have children decorate their "gingerbread men" using the dried fruit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are You Ready? Preparing to Fight the Flu

Early childhood settings present unique challenges for infection control due to the highly vulnerable population, close interpersonal contact, shared toys, and limited ability of young children to understand or practice good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.

Parents, early childhood providers, and public health officials should be aware that, even under the best of circumstances, transmission of infectious diseases such as flu cannot be completely prevented in early childhood or other settings. No policy can keep everyone who is potentially infectious out of these settings.

Children younger than 5 years of age are at increased risk of complications from influenza (flu); the risk is greater among children younger than 2 years old. Importantly, infants younger than 6 months of age represent a particularly vulnerable group because they are too young to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine. As a result, individuals responsible for caring for these children constitute a high-priority group for early vaccination.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided some of the following recommendations:

Get vaccinated for the seasonal flu; contact your local health department for more information.

Stay home when you're sick. If a child or staff member develops symptoms while at the program, s/he should promptly be separated from others and sent home.

Conduct daily health checks.

Have children and staff wash their hands with soap and water when they arrive and frequently throughout the day.

Clean and disinfect all the time! And then clean and disinfect some more.

For more good, useful information you can visit the following websites:

http://www.naccrra.org/policy/background_issues/swine-flu-related-information.php

http://www.flu.gov/

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Helping Children Line Up

We are often asked for tips on how to help children learn how to behave during daily routines.  One of these routines that can be challenging for preschool age children is standing and walking in a line.  If you work in a child care center where you have to take children outside, to lunch, or to other parts of the building, this can be a daily struggle if you haven't taught children how to walk in a line.

One important thing to remember is that we cannot assume children already have this skill.  It's something they must be taught!  Even if they are used to being in child care, they may not have learned how you want them to stand or walk in a line.  This is a skill that should be taught in detail early in the year, and it's something you may need to re-teach any time you get new children.

Using songs and rhymes is a great way to teach and reinforce daily routines in a preschool setting.  If you make a large poster with the words to the song you choose, it can also be a great way to build literacy skills.

This song is song to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell" and was taken from Bright Hub.
My hands are at my side.
I'm standing straight and tall.
Eyes ahead, mouth is closed;
I'm ready for the hall.
This song came from Preschool Education, and it's sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know it":
If you're ready and you know it, face the door.
If you're ready and you know it, face the door.
If you're ready and you know it, then it's time for you to show it.
If you're ready and you know it, face the door.
This line up poem is easy to memorize and recite.  It was taken from Mrs. Jones.
My hands are resting by my sides,
I'm standing straight and tall.
My eyes are front; my lips are zipped,
I'm ready for the hall.
Whatever strategy you use, make sure you help the children practice, practice, and practice some more! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Computers in the Early Childhood Program

Our agency recently offered a Creative Curriculum training to programs enrolled in our Accreditation Facilitation Project.  We were able to provide copies of The Creative Curriculum for Preschool to each participant, and they have all found the books to be an invaluable resource.  Volume 2:  Interest Areas has a great chapter on using computers in preschool programs.

Did you know that children can learn many valuable skills through using the computer?
Social-Emotional--Children can learn self-direction and problem solving.
Physical--Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are enhanced by using a mouse and keyboard.
Language and Literacy--New vocabulary words are learned, and children can practice the alphabet using the keyboard.
Cognitive--Cause and effect, pattterns, and abstract thinking are all enhanced through using a computer.
If you'd like some guidance in choosing appropriate software for your preschoolers, try these websites:
Children's Technology Review
Tech Learning:  The Resource for Education Technology Leaders
SuperKids Educational Software Review

As during any free play activity, teachers should be actively involved in guiding children's play on computers.  Your role during computer time is to observe and respond to individual children.  For example:
Teach the child how to use the mouse to move the cursor, how to insert a CD into the computer, and how to navigate individual programs.

Encourage children's efforts by making comments such as, "Look, you used the mouse to move all the letters into the correct places!  You must feel so proud of yourself!"

Praise children for working well together, taking turns, or calmly switching activities when their time is up.

Ask questions of children, preferably with open-ended answers.  Try, "What else could you draw?"  Or, "What do you think will happen if you click on that picture?"
Computers can be valuable resources in quality early childhood programs when teachers consciously choose appropriate software and engage with individual children as they work.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We are Here for You!

Maya is in the corner of the room kicking at a shelf and singing loudly. The rest of the children are at circle time, but are restless and laughing at Maya. It is becoming more and more difficult to ignore her behavior.

The new toddler in your program has bitten three children in the last two days. He is lightning quick and you can’t seem to intervene in time to stop the behavior.

James, a four year old in your classroom can’t seem to settle down and complete an activity. Instead, he seems to delight in knocking over the block tower, grabbing paint brushes, or throwing sand on the playground.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Are you struggling with burn-out and looking for some support or new resources for dealing with everyday behavior issues?

We are here for you!

We can offer a sympathetic ear to listen, provide educational materials, give you tips for that parent conference or provide information about community resources. We can also come to your program to observe as an objective pair of eyes and then work with you to brainstorm a variety of classroom strategies. And best of all -- our help with challenging behaviors is free!

Contact us today at 800-243-9685, and ask to speak with an Inclusion Specialist.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Child Care Aware® of Missouri Fall 2011 Newsletter

The quarterly newsletter for Child Care Aware® of Missouri was recently sent out to providers throughout the state.  In case you missed it, you can view the full newsletter online.

Some of the helpful articles inside include a cover story on the importance of insurance to cover your business, even if you are a family child care provider. 
Did you know?
  • You may need a separate rider on your homeowners insurance policy to cover the equipment you use for child care.
  • Your policy may only cover the current value of your supplies.  Be sure your coverage will pay you the replacement cost of anything lost or damaged.
We've added a new feature to our referral service.  You can now provide us with up to five photos highlighting your child care program, and these will be shared with families who are searching for child care.  Have a fabulous playground?  A gorgeous mural in your entry way?  A dramatic play area that's really special?  Share the photos and let parents see what sets your program apart.

To update your program information with us, and to share your photos, go to our online update page.  Drawings will be held quarterly, and one lucky person who has updated their information will earn a prize valued at $25 or more!

The newsletter insert from our Eastern Region agency, the LUME Institute, includes a great article about helping children learn to read.  Some of their suggestions for promoting future reading success are:
  • Setting a good example by reading in front of children of all ages.
  • Reading environmental print (signs, menus, labels, etc...) aloud to children.
  • Playing rhyming word games with young children. 
The insert from Southern Missouri, The Council of Churches of the Ozarks, includes information about a new Social-Emotional Project for providers in Jasper County, Missouri.  The free program will offer a variety of ways you, whether as a parent or a child care provider, can help young children who are showing signs of stress, including challenging behaviors.

The Family Conservancy, our Western Missouri agency, has information in their insert about how their staff, who are certified as National Playground Safety Inspectors can help you renovate, expand, or simply update your outdoor play environment.  They can offer trainings, on site inspections, or consultations to help your playground be all that it can be.

For all the details on these articles and many others, be sure to read our full Fall 2011 newsletter!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Solve the Economic Crisis by Increasing Funding for Early Childhood

A recent article in the New York Times Opinion Pages details how increasing funding for early childhood programs would help solve the dramatic economic inequality between America's richest and poorest citizens.  Written by Nicholas D. Kristof, "Occupy the Classroom" explains that the wealthiest 1% of our nation has more money than the remaining 99% combined!

And how do we solve this problem?  Kristof says, "The single step that would do the most to reduce inequality has nothing to do with finance at all. It’s an expansion of early childhood education."

He goes on to explain that a quality education is the single most important factor in helping someone climb out of poverty.  Successful, quality early childhood experiences set the stage for success in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education, making early childhood a critical time.

The article sites a study on the Perry Preschool program.  This high quality preschool served disadvantaged children in Michigan in the 1960s.
Compared with a control group, children who went through the Perry program were 22 percent more likely to finish high school and were arrested less than half as often for felonies. They were half as likely to receive public assistance and three times as likely to own their own homes.
A later study comparing children who attended Head Start programs to their siblings who did not attend found that Head Start alumni were less likely to have repeated grades in elementary school, were less likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities, and displayed improved health later in life.
If you'd like to read more, you can find the full article here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Parent-Caregiver Communication: Making it Work

Child care providers and parents want to make sure that they understand each other. There are steps providers can take to encourage good communication and to minimize problems. It’s also a good idea to encourage parents to find out about the program’s policies and procedures.

Promote Good Communication
The following are steps providers can take to maintain positive communication:
  • Have parents/families prepare an “All About My Child” sheet to learn about the child and the family. This includes who is in the child’s family; how birthdays and holidays are celebrated; skills the family can share; what’s happening at home that might affect a child’s behavior (e.g., a new sibling, visits from relatives, illnesses, changes in the family)
  • Make sure that families know the procedures for signing their child in and out each day.
  • Encourage parents to keep contact information up to date, including all those who are allowed to pick up the child.
  • Encourage parents to read information from the program.
  • Set up regular parent-provider conferences and encourage all parents/families to attend.
  • Have parents volunteer to help out when they can.
  • Encourage parents to occasionally visit during the day.
Handle Problems Positively
Some common issues you might face are children’s behavior, health and safety, concerns about a child’s development, following procedures, and fees. The following strategies will help you keep the situation positive:
  • Remember that both the provider and parents have the same goal - you want the best for the child/children.
  • Ask for a time to talk when the provider and the parent won’t be rushed.
  • Ask for clarification of the problem.
  • Restate the problem until you both agree on the description of the problem.
  • Think about the possible solutions and decide on a plan to solve the problem.
  • Ask about what steps to follow if the plan doesn’t work.
  • Check the success of the plan regularly.
  • If you are wrong, apologize.
The Program’s Policy and Procedures
There are many things that may cause conflict between parents and providers if they are not understood. Make sure the following information is in your parent handbook or contract:
  1. Hours - What are your hours, days closed, inclement weather policy?
  2. Fees - What is the tuition? Additional fees? Charges for a child’s absence or vacation time? Time notice for leaving the program?
  3. Arrival and Departure - What are the procedures for dropping off and picking up the child? Who is authorized to pick up the child?
  4. Health - How are parents notified if their child is sick or injured? How will parents be notified of a communicable disease? Will your program give medication?
  5. Emergencies - Are there regular tornado or fire drills? How will the parents be notified in case of an emergency?
  6. The child’s day - Who is the primary caregiver for your child? How will my child spend their day? How will discipline be handled?
  7. Special Events - How are birthdays and holidays handled? What is the transportation policy for field trips?
  8. Transitions - How is a child moved from one room to another? How does the child move to a new school?
  9. Communication - Are there regular conferences scheduled? How is information shared with parents?
  10. Confidentiality policies - How do you protect a family’s right to confidentiality?
Additional Issues to Consider
Cultural and language differences can sometimes get in the way of communication. Think about having another person join the conversations. If parents are divorced or separated, work with both of the parents.

Need any help writing Parent/Family Handbooks? Call our office at (573)445-5437 or (800)243-9685.

Portions of this article taken from The Daily Parent (Issue No. 67) a publication by NACCRRA.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Advocacy: Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Do you ever wish you could tell your Representative or Senator just how you feel about a change in funding or a new law? Do you ever wish that you could talk with one of the legislators about an idea you have?


Well you can! Don’t be afraid to contact your legislator to tell them what is on your mind. Tell them about that funding change that is going to hurt your child care facility, or about pending law that will benefit children.

Parents could write their legislators to tell them about their child care provider and how much additional funding would help them to succeed. Tell them about programs that you would like to see your child care provider be able to offer, if only the funding was there.

If you have been looking for infant care or know of families who are looking for infant care, you know about the shortage for this necessary care. Tell your legislators about the issue. How about parents who work second or third shifts? It is almost impossible to find licensed child care that will care for a child overnight. Child care providers need incentives and funding in order to be able to offer these types of services to families.

Tell your legislators that, next to their families, child care providers are the most important people in a child’s life. Let them know that you are a voter, and you would really like your concerns addressed. If we do not have quality child care available for our children, what is going to happen to our families? How will parents work and provide for their children if they cannot find someone to care for them?

To find names and contact information for your local representatives and senators, go to http://www.house.mo.gov/ or http://www.senate.mo.gov/llookup/leg_lookup.aspx or call Joanne Nelson,  Director at 660-385-1378 or 800-201-7745.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making Meaning: How Infants and Young Children Make Meaning of Themselves in the World

Child Care Aware® of Missouri is proud to be a Collaborative Partner, supporting the Psychoanalytic Institute’s presentation of this lecture by Edward Z. Tronick, PhD at the Ethical Society Auditorium in St. Louis, MO on October 27, 2011.

Dr. Tronick is a world-class researcher and teacher, recognized internationally for his work on the social emotional development of infants and young children.  This lecture will focus on the ways infants "make meaning" of the world using non-verbal processes, including emotions and actions, through social play, culture and relationships.

Here is a video of Dr. Tronick's Still-face paradigm in action:


View or print the full flyer and registration form.
View or print a short biography of Dr. Tronick. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Training Information

We are pleased to announce that Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri will be able to offer an increasing variety of quality professional development opportunities to help you earn your required clock hours and improve your child care programs.

A Place for All Children: Learning about Inclusion is a new curriculum designed to help providers meet the needs of each child, including those who have special needs. If you liked Child Care Plus, this new curriculum will help you continue to build those skills.

The Social Emotional Child Care Orientation Training has been updated, and it now includes four modules with a total of 12 clock hours available.

The Basic Knowledge Curriculum--Early Childhood will help establish a foundation for anyone new to child care, and it provides a great refresher to experts in the field. This training has replaced the CCOT and PACE trainings we used to offer.

The Basic Knowledge Curriculum--Youth Development is replacing our School Age Care Orientation Training (SACOT).  We’re excited to be able to offer more clock hours specifically designed for staff who work with older children.

During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, we will be offering a few of these trainings online. Many of you have been asking for opportunities to earn clock hours online, so stay tuned for more information!

Due to some changes in how our trainings are funded, we have a new fee schedule. All trainings will now cost $6 per hour per participant. For example, a three hour workshop will now cost each person $18. This standard fee should simplify the registration process.

We’re scheduling all these trainings now, and registration information will be sent to those on our mailing list when details are available. All clock hour workshops, including online trainings, will also be posted on the Missouri Workshop Calendar, which can be found at http://www.moworkshopcalendar.org/.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Simple Changes to Improve Children's Behavior

Dealing with challenging behaviors is difficult! However, more often than not, we can make changes that will positively affect children’s behavior.


Consider the following excerpt:

“If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to multiply, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to drive, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to behave, we….. …..teach? …..punish?


Why can’t we finish the last sentence as automatically as we do with the others?”

Below are some tips that can assist you in making challenging behavior manageable:

• Develop a list of classroom rules. Because everyone is expected to follow the rules, everyone should be involved in setting the rules, including children. Limit the number of rules to three or less. State the rules positively telling children what to do as opposed to what not to do.

• Limit your use of the word “no.” The word “no” quickly loses its effectiveness over time and should be reserved for emergency situations when safety is at stake. Instead focus on redirection and setting up a safe, child friendly environment where the word “no” will rarely need to be used.

• Provide children with a consistent schedule and routine. When children know what to expect, their anxiety is decreased. Plan for transitions by giving children verbal countdowns and providing picture schedules for visual learners. When changes to your routine are necessary, inform children ahead of time.

• Model, model, model! Read books and scripted stories promoting social/emotional development. Involve children in coming up with solutions to problems. Role-play problem solving with another staff member or even a puppet to engage children.

There are lots of great resources for social/emotional development from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) curriculum for you to utilize at: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/index.html

Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri also has Early Childhood Specialists available for technical assistance and on-site consultation. You can contact Trinette Brewer by e-mail at trinette@mo.childcareaware.org, Barb Vigil at barb@mo.childcareaware.org, or Lori Meisner at lorim@mo.childcareaware.org, or call us at (573) 445-5437 or (800) 243-9685.

Did You Know?

The U.S. Department of Labor has established law that applies to the time a child care staff member spends attending workshops/classes and whether/how they are paid for that time.


Workshop attendance that any state requires for staff, so that a facility can maintain child care licensing, must be counted as work time and compensated. In Missouri, the Section for Child Care Regulation requires that everyone counted in the child-to-staff ratio earns 12 hours of approved workshops or classes each year. The time that a staff member spends earning those required 12 clock hours is considered work time and she or he must be paid.

If the time of the workshop/class is included in a standard full-time work week as defined by the employer’s personnel policies, staff should be compensated at their usual salaries. If the time of the workshop/class is overtime beyond the standard work week, staff should be paid at the overtime rate consistent with the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines and established in the personnel policies.

Are there any exceptions?

There is only one exception to this requirement. If ALL four of the following items are true, then the training is not counted as work time:

The workshop/class occurs outside the normal scheduled hours of work AND

The individual’s attendance is completely voluntary AND

The workshop/class is not job-related AND

No other work is performed during the workshop/class period
For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USWAGE or visit the Wage and Hour Division Website: http://www.wagehour.dol.gov.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taking a Bite out of Biting

Biting is a frustrating and painful behavior for parents and caregivers to manage. Between the ages of one and two (and sometimes longer), children use their mouths to explore and learn about the environment. They also have very limited verbal skills during this stage. As a result, biting may occur for several reasons: exploration, expressing emotions, and/or attention seeking. Some children may not bite at all, and others may be frequent and persistent biters.

Here are some suggestions for ways to minimize biting:

Look at your program's environment, schedule, routines, and expectations of children and staff. Try to minimize: congestion, confusion and disorder, children waiting, frustration, boredom, commotion, competition for toys and materials, and competition for adult attention.

Avoid large groups, and break the children up into smaller groups. Try to spread out activities to avoid children “bunching” up.

Look for ways to increase the promotion of the children’s sense of security and stability:

- Maintain a predictable schedule and ensure that children understand and anticipate the progression of the day.

- Ensure prime times with the child’s primary caregiver.

- Ensure warm, cozy, semi-secluded “safe places to be.”

- Avoid staffing changes. Develop and maintain individual and group rituals.

Look for ways to engage children more effectively in the environment:

- Analyze the developmental appropriateness of children’s choices.

- Provide duplicates of popular toys and multiple options for activities.

- Consider whether to increase the motor and sensory choices available.

Look for ways to calm children after periods of excitement, such as relaxed transitions, calming music, and calming physical contact with caregivers.

Analyze grouping of children to avoid combinations that might lead to conflict or biting. Avoid grouping “biters” and “victims” together. Also avoid grouping children who will compete for toys.

If you would like more information about biting or any other behavior issue, please contact one of the Inclusion Specialists at Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri at 800-243-9685.

Information obtained from: ExchangeEveryDay a free service of Exchange Magazine, January 6, 2006

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Learn The Signs. Act Early

As an early childhood educator or child care provider, you spend your day working with, playing with, and watching children, and you are already familiar with many developmental milestones – such as pointing at objects, smiling, and playing with others – that mark a child’s development.

All children are unique, but sooner or later, you will see a child who is not developing as they should. You are a valuable resource to parents! They look to you for information on their child, and they trust you. The “Learn the Signs. Act Early” campaign has created a series of resources to help you educate parents on the full range of child development.

To order the FREE Early Childhood Educator Resource Kit, and for more information and tools for tracking child development and early developmental milestones, visit www.cdc.gov/actearly.

Submitted by: Mary Clark, Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Please remember that you can always call our Inclusion Specialists, who can come out to your program/home to do a visit. They can complete a general observational visit or they can observe a specific child with parental permission. They are also available by phone or email for consultation and can direct you to or provide additional resources for yourself or your families.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do You Have a MOPD ID Yet?

A MOPD ID is your Missouri Professional Development Identification, formerly known as PARS (Professional Achievement and Recognition System) In the future, this number will be necessary to register for clock hour trainings.  Get your MOPD ID here!

This data system streamlines data collection for Missouri's quality initiatives (e.g., Quality Rating System (QRS), Accreditation Facilitation) and child care licensing.

The goal is for all training records to be available electronically from one source. This will prevent the need for staff to submit training and education information each time they or their program participates in a quality initiative. It will also prevent fraud associated with paper clock hour certificates, and it will save licensing representatives time needed to look through certificates on site every time they visit.

Being a PARS participant has a number of additional benefits including:

Receipt of a Missouri’s Education Matrix - chart indicating your level of training and/or education.

The ability to track and update your education and training through OPEN’s secure, on-line system

For more information visit: http://www.openinitiative.org/, click on the “Projects” button on the left, the PARS Enrollment form is located on the left hand side along with the instructions.  To just obtain a MOPD ID, use this link

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Free Lending Library Available

Child Care Aware ® of Central Missouri has a wonderful and FREE resource library available to you and your families. The library includes books on topics such as curriculum, child development, special needs, as well as brochures, videos and DVDs.

Materials can be checked out for 30 days. Some interesting titles available include:

The GIANT Encyclopedia of Preschool Activities for 3-Year Olds











Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Indoor Hopscotch Tiles

Image from
Better Homes and Gardens Magazine
If hot weather has you scrambling for gross motor activities you can do with children inside, try this one!

Gather ten carpet tiles or squares of vinyl flooring.  If your squares aren't the same color already, or if the color is dark, spray paint them all white first.  Then use a stencil to paint numbers 0-9 on the squares in different bright colors.

Allow at least 24 hours for drying before playing with the tiles.  You can arrange the tiles in a classic hopscotch pattern, as shown, and use them either indoors or out.  A beanbag or a rock can be used as a marker.  Read the full hopscotch rules here to refresh your memory!

Playing hopscotch, children will learn math skills like how to identify numbers and patterns.  They'll learn gross motor skills like how to hop on one foot and how to balance while they pick up a beanbag.  They'll also learn social-emotional skills like taking turns and following rules.

The numbered carpet tiles could be used for many other activities inside or outside as well.  Use them for group times, and give each child a designated space to sit or stand.  Make letter squares or shape squares, as well, for more variety, and allow children to make up their own games using the carpet tiles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tweet, Like, and Follow: Where to Find Us On the Web

Now Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri has more methods than ever for keeping you informed of the latest news for families and child care professionals. Whether you’re looking for professional development clock hour opportunities in your area, help with challenging behaviors, fun and educational activity ideas, or ways you can influence legislators in Missouri, find us on the web, and we’ll keep you up to date.

First, you’ll want to make sure you’re receiving our e-mails. To save the costs of paper mailings, we’re keeping in touch via e-mail as much as possible. These e-mails include newsletters and information about trainings.

If you’re not already receiving our e-mail updates, join our e-mail list. Tell us your county, and whether you’re a part of a child care center, group child care home, family child care, or a member of the community, and you’ll receive e-mail updates that are relevant to you.

Then make sure janet@mo.childcareaware.org is in your list of “safe senders” to keep important information out of your junk mail folder. We will never sell or share your e-mail address, and you can unsubscribe from the e-mail list at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of each e-mail.

If you’re a tweeter, be sure to follow our Twitter feed. Our username is @CCACentralMO. We’re tweeting timely information such as product recalls, legislative calls to action, and other current events that affect children and child care professionals. We encourage you to “retweet” any updates you want to share with friends.

Stay informed on Facebook by “liking” our page. You’ll find us by searching “Child Care Aware of Central Missouri.” Click the “like” button at the top of our profile, and you’ll receive all of our status updates. Ask your friends and co-workers to like us as well, and you’ll all stay informed about upcoming trainings, activity ideas, and more.

For more in depth articles and information, follow this blog!  Please continue the conversation by commenting on the articles to share your own ideas and opinions. Scroll down the right sidebar of the page to follow us using Google Friend Connect or to follow by e-mail, and you’ll never miss an article.

Technology offers many ways for you to stay informed, and these social networking sites allow you to quickly respond to our posts and let us know your thoughts. We look forward to communicating with you and continuing to meet your professional needs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Importance of Registering for Trainings

Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri has been able to offer a wide variety of Professional Development Clock hour opportunities this fiscal year, many at no cost to participants.  Whether or not a training costs money for you to attend, it is still important for you to register several days before the training.  Space is limited for most sessions, and walk-ins may not be accepted. 
Registering also allows us to bring the correct number of books, handouts, and snacks.  If people do not register, we may not have enough materials for everyone.  If people register, then do not attend, we’ve wasted money on handouts, snacks, and drinks that won’t be used.
Please help us keep costs down, and help us make every training experience a valuable one for all participants by registering ahead of time for trainings, and by cancelling your registration if you will not be able to attend.
Check out the Missouri Workshop Calendar for a comprehensive schedule of clock hour professional development workshops available in Missouri.  You can use the "search" feature to find trainings on specific topics or within a certain number of miles of you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Biting in Child Care: Why It Happens and How to Stop It

Biting is a common occurrence when groups of toddlers spend time together, and it's one of the concerns both teachers and parents contact us about often.  Most of the time, children are biting because they haven't yet learned more appropriate ways to get their needs met.  By spending a little time carefully observing the child and noting when, where, and how the biting usually happens, you can often figure out how you can stop this upsetting behavior.

Ask yourself these questions:

When does this child bite?  If it's close to meal time, he might be biting because he's hungry.  If it's before nap, she might be biting more when she's tired.  If it's during free play, the child might be having trouble asking for what he or she wants.

What is the child's mood like when he or she bites?  Focusing on the child's mood can also help determine the cause.  He or she might be expressing anger or frustration.  The child might also simply be taking in sensory information from his environment and learning about cause and effect.

Does this child bite when there is less supervision?  This is often the case.  While biting can happen even with the closest adult supervision, if caregivers stay near children, they can often intervene before biting takes place.

Does this child bite one person in particular?  If so, focus on the interactions the child is having with this person when trying to figure out the cause of the biting.

How much language is the child using?  Young children often bite because they don't yet have the language skills to express themselves in more acceptable ways.  If you determine lack of language skills to be a cause of biting in your classroom, it's important to help the child learn to "use his words" to tell others what he wants and needs.

Once you've determined the reason the child bites, you can begin to work on a plan for reducing the number of incidents.

Some strategies to reduce biting in the classroom:
  • Offer a variety of activity choices that are developmentally appropriate for the children in the room.
  • Teach children to use words to express emotions.
  • Make sure the child who bites is always close to an adult.
  • Change the classroom schedule as necessary, possibly moving up meal times or rest times, or breaking up unstructured periods.
  • Have multiples of favorite toys available.
  • Make sure the room is arranged so children have plenty of space to move and play.
  • Spend quality one-on-one time with the child when he or she is behaving well.
For more information on biting and other challenging behaviors, check out So This Is Normal Too?: Teachers and Parents Working Out Developmental Issues in Young Children by Deborah Hewett.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri Hosts Creative Curriculum Training

Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri hosted a two-day Creative Curriculum training June 21 and 22, 2011 for participants in the Accreditation Facilitation Project.  Programs currently working toward Accreditation with the agency’s help were invited to send two staff members to this workshop at no cost to the program.  Early childhood educators came to Columbia from as far away as Lebanon and Lewistown to receive a total of 12 clock hours of professional development covering the basics of The Creative Curriculum, including Objectives for Development & Learning, Interest Areas, Literacy, and Mathematics. 
Hands on activities showed attendees how to guide children’s learning experiences to meet multiple objectives, while keeping children engaged.  Participants also received The Creative Curriculum for Preschool Volume Five books to use in implementing The Creative Curriculum in their programs.
If you're interested in improving the quality of your child care program by participating in our Accreditation Facilitation Project, call Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri today at 800-243-9685.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Using Dolls to Teach Problem Solving

Teaching children problem solving skills can be a great way to reduce challenging behaviors in your home or classroom.  Adults often swoop in and tell children how to solve problems (How often do you say, "Tell him you're sorry."  "Now nobody gets to play with the truck."  or "Go sit in time out."?) because it's quicker and easier in the moment.  But in the long run, taking the time to teach children how to solve their own problems will make your life easier, and teach kids a valuable life skill.

One way to introduce problem solving is to role play situations that often happen when groups of children are together.  During circle time, or another time children are calm and quiet, you can simply ask something like, "What would you do if someone had a toy you wanted to play with?"  Then discuss the ideas children share, and provide some suggestions of your own if necessary.

Using dolls to set up and act out situations can also be helpful.  Persona dolls are designed to be culturally diverse, and they come with pre-written "life stories" that can be helpful when role playing with children.  However, you could easily use dolls, puppets, or stuffed animals you already own and create your own stories.

Then be aware and involved when children are playing, and when a similar situation arises, you can take the time to discuss how children might solve the problem.  For instance, if you've shared a role playing scenario in which children discuss what to do when someone takes a toy, next time you see a toy taken, go to the children and say something like this:

"Oh my, I see that Johnny took the truck from you.  You seem very upset.  What are some ways you could solve this problem?  What did our doll do when that happened to him?  Right, you could take the toy back from Johnny.  Or you could ask nicely if he would give you the toy back.  Or you could tell an adult.  What would happen if you did....  Which solution would you like to try?"

This approach takes some time, but it's valuable for children, and over time, it will enable kids to solve their own problems, which will make your life easier!

For more ideas on how to use Persona Dolls, or other dolls in your classroom, check out Kids Like Us: Using Persona Dolls in the Classroom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let's Move! Child Care

On June 8th, the First Lady, Michelle Obama, announced Let’s Move! Child Care, a new initiative that will support child care providers in their efforts to help children develop healthy habits early in life. ‪Through the new Let’s Move! Child Care website, www.healthykidshealthyfuture.org, child care providers can access free online tools and resources pertaining to nutrition, physical activity and screen time.

The guidelines and resources available through Let's Move!  Child Care can help your child care program meet or exceed physical activity standards set forth by Missouri's Section for Child Care Regulation Division of Regulation and Licensure, as well as the standards of major child care accreditation systems.

Here's a small sample of the information available on the website: 

Let's Move!  Child Care Goals:

1. Physical Activity: Provide 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.

2. Screen Time: No screen time for children under 2 years. For children age 2 and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and work with parents and caregivers to ensure children have no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics).

3. Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family-style whenever possible, and don't serve fried foods.

4. Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and don't serve sugar-sweetened drinks. For children age 2 and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4- to 6-ounce serving of 100% juice per day.

5. Infant Feeding: For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day. Support all new parents in their decisions about infant feeding.

The website also includes a checklist that can be used to assess how much activity children in your child care program get daily.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Using Questions to Promote Process Based Art

The most common question we ask children about their artwork is, “What is it?”  We ask this with the best of intentions, but this simple question can have a negative influence on children’s creativity.
This question focuses on the product of the child’s creative efforts.  But a more important goal in art activities with young children is for them to develop knowledge about the process.
What happens when I mix this color with that one?  What happens when I move my arm this way?  How can I make this item stick to this item?  How can I express what I’m feeling?  Do I like how this looks right now, or do I want to keep working on it?  These are all questions swirling in children’s minds when they have the freedom to create what they want during art activity.  These are more interesting and productive questions than, “What is it?”
Here are some questions you can use to promote discussion about children’s artwork:
What can you tell me about your picture?
How did you make it look like that?
What else could you use?
Why did you… use this brush?  glue that there? draw this item bigger than that one?  choose that color?
What did you like best about making this?
How did you get the idea for this?
What title would you like to give this work?
What were you thinking about while you painted this?
How did you feel while you made this?
Practice using questions like this until it comes as naturally as, “What is it?” used to for you.  Try printing the questions and keeping them in your pocket, or posting them near the art center for teachers to see.
Written by Janet Robison, Early Childhood Specialist with Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Helping Children Recover after a Tornado

With the recent tornadoes hitting Joplin and Sedalia, Child Care Aware of Central Missouri staff are receiving many questions about how families and child care providers can help children cope.  Using information from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, we have created this printable flyer with helpful strategies. 

Tips include:

Monitor adult conversations.  Be aware that children are listening to what you say about the tornado, and this may frighten children unnecessarily.

Limit media exposure.  Young children may not understand that the images on television aren't happening right now, or aren't happening in their neighborhood.

Review your family's disaster preparedness plan.  Knowing what to do in an emergency can help children feel safer.

Maintain regular daily life.  As much as possible, keep your routines the same.  Familiar routines help children feel secure.

Encourage children to help.  Children can cope better when they are able to help others.

For more ways you can help ease children's anxiety, download the full handout.  And if you need child care in Missouri because of the tornado, Child Care Aware of Missouri can help.  Call us at 866-892-3228.

Planning Safe Field Trips

If your child care program is open all summer, field trips are a great way to spice up the routine.  Here are some tips to make sure your trips are safe and successful.

Careful planning is always important for a fun and safe field trip.  If at all possible, visit the location before planning to take the children there.  Find out about costs and any special rules.  Be sure the trip is appropriate for the age and interests of the children in your group.  Then make sure the children and the parents are aware of what they can expect the day of the trip.  Discuss expected behavior on the trip with the children for several days before the actual trip.  A few days before the trip, call the site again to confirm the arrangements.

If you have regularly scheduled trips (like a weekly trip to the swimming pool) consider having field trip permission slips as part of the registration packet for your program.  It might read in part, “My child _____ has permission to participate in trips to ________as a part of _____ program June 1 through August 25, 2011.”

For any other trips, it will still be necessary to send home a permission slip and information regarding each individual trip, including where and when the trip will be and things the child should bring.  Make sure permission slips include any special rules or circumstances that are critical for your program.  I worked with a program that included a clause about what would happen if a child was detained for shoplifting while on a trip, because that had happened to them once!

Also, make sure you have emergency contact information for each child, and take those forms, along with the permission slips, on each trip.  If you are taking more than one vehicle, a staff member in each vehicle should have a list of children riding in that vehicle, as well as emergency contact information for those children.  Be sure someone in each vehicle has a cell phone.  An accurate list of who is going on the trip, which vehicle they will take, and emergency contact information for each child should also be kept at the child care program. 

Take along a first aid kit, and be sure at least one staff member on the trip is trained in CPR and First Aid.  Be sure you have any medication that children will need to take during the trip.  Include emergency items for any special needs the children have, such as allergies or asthma.  Plan ahead for how and when children will be able to use restrooms and wash their hands, especially before any meals or snacks.  It’s also a good idea to take along a large jug of ice water and cups.

Supervision is a key concern when taking children on trips.  Staff/child ratios must be maintained at all times, but most programs take even more adults on field trips.  Ask for parents and guardians who would like to go along.  Be sure that any chaperones are fully informed of the rules and expectations for the trip.  Giving each adult a group of children to be responsible for can help make sure everyone is well supervised.  Even very young children are capable of keeping track of a “buddy” on a field trip.  Assign partners, and ask children to make sure their buddy is safe at multiple times throughout the trip.

Another idea is to provide special t-shirts for field trip days.  This will make it easy to identify children from your program while on the trip.  Name tags are not advised, as this would allow strangers to call the child by name.  You might consider using tags which simply have the center name and phone number.  Count heads frequently throughout the day, and use a roll call when you reach each new destination and before you leave each place.  Even with the best supervision plan, someone may get lost.  Be sure each child knows a meeting place on site to go to if they get lost, and can tell someone the name of your facility.

Behavior challenges can happen when young children have to sit and wait, and this happens often on field trips.  Plan ahead for activities to do while children are waiting.  Have some index cards in your bag with ideas for songs, finger plays, word games, or other transition activities you can do anywhere.

Field trips are a wonderful learning experience for the children, and a great way to keep them engaged during the long, hot summer months.  Just make sure to follow safety precautions while you’re out exploring!

Sources:

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Child Care.  (2005). Child Care Orientation Training Participant Manual.

Smith, C J. (2011). Safety First. In Healthy Child Care. Retrieved April, 25, 2011, from http://www.healthychild.net/SafetyFirst.php?article_id=530.

Written by Janet Robison, Early Childhood Specialist

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tips for Recognizing Trauma, Helping Children Build Resilience

The statistics are both surprising and disturbing--as many as two of every three children age 16 and younger have been exposed to at least one traumatic event, with consequences that can affect their development, learning, and behavior.

Traumatic experiences can range from a one-time incident, such as the sudden death of a loved one or a natural disaster, to ongoing exposure to experiences like bullying or family violence. Studies have found that the effect on a child’s mental and social development can vary, from a diminished ability to focus and solve problems to long-term difficulties with academic performance, low self-esteem, and relationships with others.

Identifying that a child has experienced trauma is not always easy because emotional and behavioral responses to trauma vary depending on a child’s personality, the type and severity of the incident, the availability of adult support, and other factors. A child may suddenly lose control of his or her emotions, or show no outward changes at all. Because of their age, younger children may have even more difficulty talking about a traumatic event and what they are experiencing.

Still, there are behaviors that could be signs that a child is having difficulty dealing with a traumatic event, such as:
  • Separation anxiety or clinginess toward teachers or caregivers
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased interest in and/or withdrawal from friends or family and normal activities
  • Over- or under-reaction to physical contact, sudden movements, and sounds
  • Angry outbursts and/or aggression
  • More frequent complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue
  • Repeatedly recreating the event through comments, drawings, or activity
  • Emotional “numbing,” or expressing no feelings at all about the event
What can teachers, caregivers, and other adults do to help a child who has experienced trauma? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers these suggestions:
  • Maintain usual routines
  • Make sure that the child is not being isolated
  • Provide a safe place where the child can talk about the incident
  • Be sensitive to potential environmental cues that may cause a reaction (e.g., an approaching storm or the anniversary of an event)
  • Warn the child in advance of a change in routine or other event that could be unsettling
  • Monitor what information the child shares with other children to prevent excessive curiosity from peers
  • Nurture the child’s positive self-view
With support, many children can recover quickly from the fear and anxiety caused by a traumatic experience. But others may need more help over a longer period of time, both to recover and to build resilience that can help them when they face challenges in the future.

To learn more about early childhood trauma and its effects on young children, contact Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri.  Information is also available online from SAMHSA’s website.

These resources provide more detailed information on the types of traumatic events that can affect children; how exposure to traumatic events may change a child’s academic, emotional, and mental development; strategies for helping a child deal with trauma; and additional resources regarding treatment and prevention.

With the support of caring adults, children can recover from traumatic events, reestablish a sense of well-being, and obtain treatment and other services if needed. The more you know about trauma and children, the more you can do to help them.

Posted with permission from SAMHSA.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Give Your Child Something That Will Last a Lifetime… Quality Child Care!

Quality child care can make a big difference in the future of your child, your community, and even the world.  By choosing quality care now, you give your child a head start on a strong mind, body, and spirit.  So take your time in choosing child care because it will be one of the most important decisions your family will make.  Compare your choices and ask plenty of questions. The more you know about your choices the easier it is going to be to make that decision.

There are five basic steps in choosing a quality child care program:

1. Look  Visit several child care facilities so you are able to compare each one.  On each visit, think about your first impression.  But do not stop there.  Ask yourself some questions:  Does the place look safe for your child?  Does the staff talk with each child at the child’s eye level?  Are there plenty of toys and learning materials within a child’s reach?  Always visit a potential program more than once and at after different times of day.  Continue your visits after you start using the child care.

2. Listen  Close your eyes and see what you hear when you walk into a potential program.  Do you hear children’s voices?  Do they sound happy?  How do the teacher’s voices sound?  A place that’s too quiet may mean not enough activity.  A place that’s too noisy may mean there is a lack of control.

3. Count  Count the number of children in the group.  Then count the number of staff members caring for them.  The fewer number of children for each adult, the more attention your child will get.  If it is a licensed facility, there are regulations around the ratio of children to teachers.

4. Ask  It’s very important that the adults who care for your children have the knowledge and experience to give them the attention they need.  Ask about the background, experience, and education of all staff, including the director.  Quality care providers will be happy to have you ask these questions.

5. Be informed  Find out more information about quality improvement projects in your area.  Ask if the potential provider is enrolled in these activities.  Ask the provider is accredited.  These programs undergo in-depth self-assessments, independent observation and approval by professional experts.

Utilizing these five steps is a great way to start to find a program that meets your family’s needs.  Child Care Aware® of Missouri can aid you in this search for child care if you call 1-866-892-3228.  They know a lot about local choices and can provide you with more resources to aid you in this search.  They can also save you time in searching for child care.  Finding convenient, affordable, high quality child care can take a lot of time, but it’s certainly time well spent.

Written by:  Joanne Nelson, Central Region Coordinator, Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri with information from the National Association of Child Care Resource Referral Association

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Divorce Less Traumatic for Kids

Parents can make divorce less traumatic for their kids by following a few tried and true tips.  Some parents have been able to reduce the negative effects of divorce on their children…and ended up raising kids who grew into really nice, responsible adults. Sadly, we’ve also seen the other side of the coin…parents who unnecessarily make things much tougher for their children and themselves. 
Listed below are some tips that up the odds those children of divorce will grow up well–adjusted, instead of angry, resentful, and irresponsible. 
Tip #1: Assure your kids that the divorce is not their fault.
Children, especially younger ones, have a strong tendency to blame themselves for the divorce. What a horrible burden of guilt to bear! From you and your former spouse, they need to hear the following message over and over:  Some kids blame themselves for their parents getting a divorce. It was not your fault. We love you.
Tip #2: Avoid bad mouthing your former spouse…even in subtle ways.
As we all know, small ears hear more than big ones!
Kids need to know that it’s okay to love both of you. Don’t place your child in a loyalty conflict by subtly suggesting that they should not love the other parent or have fun when they visit them. One father made this mistake in a very subtle yet damaging way.  Each time he picked up the kids at his ex–wife’s, he would greet them with a worried look and ask nervously, "Are you guys okay?   Did your visit go okay?"
It wasn’t long before the kids started to believe that they weren’t supposed to have an "okay" time at Mom’s house. Oftentimes, these more subtle jabs are the most powerfully damaging.
Tip #3: Don’t waste time and energy trying to "convert" your former spouse to your parenting style.
Some divorced parents waste precious time and energy fighting a never–ending control battle with their former spouse over how to parent the kids.
Children adjust to different parenting styles, as long as their parents aren’t manipulated into giving in or getting angry. When your kids say things like, "But Dad lets us," experiment with saying the following while not backing down:  You’re pretty lucky to have two parents who are different. Thanks for letting me know.
Tip #4: Don’t hesitate to seek qualified professional help.
Our children will never be healthier than we are. The trauma of divorce can result in major financial stress, lost friendships, depression, low self-esteem, anger, etc. A skilled therapist can help you and your kids move on to happier times, instead of getting bogged down in the pain.
While divorce is certainly very difficult for kids, utilizing these easy–to–learn techniques will help ease the stress during this adjustment period. Start building a happy future by getting started today.
Submitted by:  Joanne Nelson, Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri Regional Coordinator; (with information from http://www.loveandlogic.com/)