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,, 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!


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

Written by Janet Robison, Early Childhood Specialist