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:

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!