Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Average Day at Giant Steps

What can you expect when you bring your child to Giant Steps? Kids thrive on consistent routines and like to know what's coming up next, so I try to arrange our day in a predictable order. Having said that, I also believe strongly in child-led activities and am flexible on a day-to-day basis. The kids are going to spend many years in structured school where they change topics when the bell rings. I try to avoid that here whenever possible. If they are loving something and having a wonderful time, we'll do it all morning. If I had planned something to go all morning and they're not interested, we'll change to something else. This routine is loosely based on the ages and interests of the individuals in my care at the present time, and therefore is subject to change if I get new kids with different likes and dislikes.

  • Doors open at 7:30. Kids generally arrive between 7:30 and 8:30 or a bit after. They have free play time while we wait for all the friends to get here and I am cooking breakfast.
  • Breakfast is usually between 8:30 and 9. I try to cook hot meals several times a week and fill in with cereal or yogurt. A fruit is also served, along with milk. Infants ready for fruit or rice cereal are also fed during this time period.
  • After breakfast: infants are taken care of based on their individual schedules. Most take morning naps, and we try to include them in circle time before they go to sleep if possible. While they sleep, it is activity time for the older kids. We have story time, singing/circle time, calendar work, and a graph about what color shirt everyone is wearing. If the weather is nice we try to spend some time outside, either in the yard or taking a walk. We do painting throughout the day, one at a time at the porch easel, and do art and games relating to our current Read It Once Again title.
  • Around 11:30 we tidy up the playroom and turn on a short movie so the kids can watch it while we fix lunch. Lunch will be a protein, a carb, two fruits/veggies, and milk. A majority of the time it's a hot lunch and I try to avoid processed food whenever possible.
  • For about the next hour and a half it's a cycle of lunch and naps- the babies get up and want to eat, the big kids want to eat and then need to nap.
  • The late afternoon is more flexible as the kids wake up one by one. Unless asked by a parent to wake them up at a certain time, I don't wake sleeping kids. My feeling is that if they're sleeping, they need it. We choose art activities and small toys and games that can be done with different numbers of kids while everyone finishes nap. Then we have snack and prepare for the end of the day.
We try to include the kids in household activities such as cooking, cleaning, and planning whenever we can. We talk all day long and try to foster the interests of each individual.  I don't want anyone to be lost in the shuffle and make sure I spend time hugging and holding each one, talking to them and finding out more about them. I also work very hard on polite manners- table etiquette, dealing with friends, and speaking nicely.

FAQ About Giant Steps

What are the operating hours?
We are open from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

What are your fees?
There is a $150 non-refundable registration fee per family to hold your spot if you are asking to hold an opening for longer than two weeks. If you are enrolling in an immediate opening, there is a $50 fee when you enroll. I charge $175/week for infants (listed as 0-17 months) and $155/week for 18 months and older. Twice a year, during the months of February and August, there is a $25 supply fee collected to enable me to purchase new large equipment and curriculum.

What do I need to provide as a parent?
If you have a nursing infant or a bottle-fed infant who requires specialized formula, you will need to supply food. I also ask that you keep a change of clothes in your child's box in case of accidents.  You will also provide diapers or pullups as needed.

In addition, please keep us updated with information! Current shot records, allergies, and any family information that might be relevant to your child's wellbeing at school are important to us.

What do you provide as a caregiver?
I provide formula, baby food, and table food except in the two cases stated above. The entire daycare is gluten free (because Anna and I both are and it's just easier and safer for us) and I currently cook with modifications to avoid dairy for Anna as well.  We don't currently have anyone other than Duchess with a severe allergy, but I am well equipped to deal with pretty much any allergy that pops up from this point out!   

I also provide wipes, curriculum, consistency, discipline using Love and Logic, and tender loving care to support all my families.

Do you provide part-time or drop-in care?
We do, when we have space.  We prefer full-time spots, but if we have an unfilled opening, we are willing to accept both part-time and drop-ins.  If you are a regular part-timer, we'll give you as much notice as we can if it looks like a full-time child will be starting.  Those do take priority over any part time spots.

How do you handle closings? 
I sit down at the beginning of every year and plan the schedule. I will provide you with a list of all my known closings for the entire coming calendar year by the Christmas vacation of the year prior. If the school district is closed due to inclement weather, I will be closed also. In case of emergency illness for me or my kids, I have several substitute caregivers on hand who can be here to cover for me, so generally I don't have to make you scramble for alternate care at the last minute.

What curriculum do you use and what kind of qualifications do you have?
For the past three years I have used Mother Goose Time, which the kids and I all liked. We're trying Read It Once Again now, which we are also liking quite well.

I am certified in the state of Texas to teach grades 1-8, with specializations in reading and history. I taught sixth grade for four years (during which time Anna was one of my students!) before deciding to stay home with my kids and open a daycare.  I began doing in-home daycare in June 2002.  I also homeschooled Duchess for her kindergarten year, after which she decided the social aspect wasn't to her liking.  :)

 I came here from the state website- explain the reasons behind your violations!

*September 13, 2012-Updated to add: Violations only stay on the state website for two years.  The ones listed here have circled off and are not shown anymore.  We do occasionally get other citations, but they have always been for reasons similar to the ones listed here.  Also, the ones listed happened while I had someone different working here with me- she was called Kanga on the blog.  :)  I'm working with Anna now.*

I have had four violations during state inspections over the last six years, and I do understand that can be troublesome to prospective families! If you are looking for childcare, you need to be absolutely certain that your precious baby will be safe and loved in the place you choose. Rest assured that is not a problem here! All four of my violations have occurred due to paperwork being misplaced. (That's why Kanga has been such a godsend! I get caught up in reading and painting, and she's the one saying where are the new shot records? PUT THEM IN THE BINDER NOW BEFORE YOU LOSE THEM AGAIN!)

Here's the rundown:

1. High profile:
745.615(a)(2) - Required background checks-employees and applicants you intend to hire:

Our last inspection was on a day that Kanga was out, and Mrs. Potts (Chip and Belle's mom) was our substitute. Her background check was in process but hadn't gone through yet, so I was written up for not having the proper paperwork in place before she started. Since then, it's gone through, it's on file in our binder, and everything with her has been checked and cleared.

2. Medium-high profile:
747.1309(a) - Primary Caregiver Annual Training 20 Hours Required

We are required to have 20 hours of ongoing training every year to keep current with educational trends. For 2009, I could NOT find the entire folder of certificates showing that I had done my training, so it looked like I hadn't done any at all. I found it weeks after, buried in a cabinet in my office, and it is also now in my book.

3. Medium profile:
747.603(a)(3) - Children's Records - Health Statement

This was a case where the child had gotten updated shots and records at a checkup earlier that week. The mom ended up bringing me the paperwork when she picked him that afternoon after I'd been inspected and was missing it.

4. Medium-low profile: 747.901(4) - Personnel Records - Required Affidavit
When I hired Kanga to work with me full-time, I thought we had completed all the required paperwork for her. I completely missed the line where it said one of the papers had to be notarized. So we had the paper filled out and on file, but it was missing the proper notary seal.

As you can see, none of these violations have anything to do with safety of the kids, hygiene issues, being out of ratio, or anything other than my seeming inability to put the proper papers in the purple binder where they belong. We love the kids in our care and we take great pains to make sure they have a great time and feel loved and safe while learning and having fun. Sometimes in doing that, I tend to forget small details. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rapid Mood Swings

These three pictures were taken in the space of about fifteen seconds. It's nice that he doesn't stay mad very long.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big Girl Bianca

I haven't talked much about Bianca lately. She is getting so big! She went away for her summer vacation and came back crawling, pulling up, eating all kinds of big girl food... I love watching her.

We went walking the other day and she had a good time leaning over the side of the stroller. Apparently it was tasty.

Mr. Daycare Man, my hubby, has been around more lately and likes to play with the babies too. Bianca decided she would lick his eyebrow. I think she was trying to give him a kiss, but it looked pretty funny. Very sweet though.

Her daddy came to pick her up one day this week and got here while I was changing her diaper. She started twisting around trying to get to him, and I was doing all the cheerful commentary stuff, "Oh look Bianca, Daddy's here, say Hi Daddy!" And she totally did! It came out sounding like "ha da da" but it was definitely words. Way to make your dad's day, B! :)