Saturday, January 21, 2012

Learning Centers

I just got back from a Saturday training on how to create learning centers for preschoolers. Funny, I always complain about having to go to trainings, but they are awesome for getting me refocused and excited about my job all over again. This one was really tailored to classrooms of all 3 and 4 year olds, so obviously there's some adjusting I'll be doing. Still though, lots of cool ideas to take away from it, as well as some interesting research. For example:

  • Occupational therapists say that it's better for kids to color with crayons rather than markers because the pressure and friction that's required helps motor skills much more. Markers are too easy and don't demand the shoulder strength. (plus it's a lot easier to color on things you shouldn't...)
  • When kids choose to spin around in circles, it's incredibly helpful for their brains. Here we thought it was only fun, and like to laugh when they get dizzy and fall down, but it's caused by a need in the two hemispheres of the brain. Crossing the mid-line and spinning is an educational and productive activity.
  • Hands-on experience is the number one way kids learn things until age SIX. Forget worksheets and rote memorization- give them concrete objects to connect to and they're going to learn it a lot more completely.
  • The lack of child-directed play in today's society has largely contributed to delays in all domains of child development compared to previous generations. Let them explore, talk, work it out with each other, and decide how and what to play, preferably without electronics involved.

Pretty cool, huh?

Poor Kanga is going to have to deal with me wanting to move every item in the playroom four times over the next few weeks while I work through these new ideas to create fun spaces for all the different ages we serve right now. I drive her crazy with that, I know, but new stuff is FUN!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friday Focus: Lady (bug)

It's funny that I ended up calling her Lady- her family calls her bug or ladybug anyway, and I tend to call her Lady when I talk to her, as in "Hey Lady, how YOU doin'?" :) I like when the blog name I pick for a kid turns out to fit them well.

One of her favorite things to do here is eat. I didn't realize how many pictures I have of her eating until I really looked, but there are a whole bunch. Kinda makes it look like that's the only thing she does, actually. Just eat and eat, until she gets too tired...

She loves circle time right now. She and Mater come running to dance when our beginning song comes on. I've been trying to get video of them, but they're both such hams that they get right up against the camera or just stop dancing to give me cheesy smiles. Gotta catch them when they're not looking. There's a part in a few of the songs where we jump and she's working really hard on it. Jumping with both feet is one of the 24 month milestones and she's just 16ish, so she's got a ways to go yet. Couldn't tell her that though- she's convinced it'll be happening any day now. Gotta prove me wrong.

She straddles the baby day and the big kid day right now- most of the time she'd still prefer a morning nap but ends up getting one on the big kid schedule. She wants to be involved with whatever the big kids are doing for sure though..

She wasn't quite sure what to do with the hammer but she wanted to be right there while they worked!! Busy girl. Learning more every day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Noteworthy Days

Here is our working list for closings and holidays for the coming year. I know I emailed it to some of you- my printer is still on the fritz (frizz? what's the actual spelling? it's one of those phrases I only say and don't write...) so I don't have hard copies available at the moment. Yay technology!

In addition to our paid holidays for the year, we also reserve the right to take 4 paid personal days. Any additional vacation days we take will be of no charge to you. If you are on vacation, please remember that you must continue to pay to hold your child’s space.

Monday, March 19: paid personal day

Friday, April 6: paid holiday for Good Friday, IF we do not have a bad weather day before then. We will treat this day in accordance with the local school district and be open or closed along with them.

Monday, May 28: paid holiday for Memorial Day

Wednesday, July 4: paid holiday for 4th of July

Friday/Monday August 10/13: paid personal days

Monday, September 3: paid holiday for Labor Day

Wednesday, November 21: paid personal day

Thursday/Friday November 22/23: paid holiday for Thanksgiving

Monday, December 24: paid holiday for Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 25: paid holiday for Christmas Day

Monday, December 31: paid holiday for New Year’s Eve

(Tuesday, January 1, 2013: paid holiday for New Year’s Day)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Focus: Roo

Much has happened in the life of Roo since July when I did her last post. She started preschool in September and is doing very well there. She gets to ride the bus every day and does all kinds of fun things. When the bus drops her off at home, her kunyai meets her there. Some days kunyai brings her here for the afternoon, and sometimes they hang out at home, just depending on how many kids are here and what's going on.

She still loves pirates, and wanted to be one for Halloween. Kanga got Tigger a crocodile costume so they could be like Captain Hook and the crocodile. It was really pretty awesome. Tigger had trouble walking- the hood covered a lot of his face, and one of the babies was afraid of him. I forget who but it was funny. He ran around trying to sit on his sister's legs quite a bit. I couldn't get them both in one frame because Roo is getting so long, but here they are:

I love the pirate dress. Girl pirates are super cool.

She also has a love affair with the cooking area and cupcakes in particular. I think I might have had something to do with that. I'm sort of known as the cake girl- being gluten free, whenever there's an event if I want to be able to eat dessert I have to bake it myself. So all the birthdays here, parties lots of other places, and anytime our families get together outside of daycare, I bring cake. She's always asking me if I can bake her some cupcakes and she watches me cook lunch every day too. I got her a little kitchen for her birthday and some wooden cupcakes for Christmas and Kanga says she bakes constantly. She'll put on a pot of water to boil, because that is what I do when I have no idea what's for lunch- I just figure it may involve noodles. So she thinks that all cooking starts with a pot of water. Then she'll bake cupcakes. And eat them.

"Hallobirthweenday" cupcakes for Tarzan's birthday and Halloween together. I'm not quite sure what this look on her face is. But it's funny.

Cupcake for some other occasion- I think possibly Lady's birthday.

She's not really much interested in eating these days if it isn't cake. This is the look she usually gives me as she pushes away from the table with a full bowl of food:

And this was the soup that everyone else loved SO MUCH. She wouldn't touch it, which is why in this post her brother had two different bowl colors- he ate hers when his was gone.

Roo cracks me up with the silly things she says, often by accident. When we go for walks, there are two rabbits that live in an outdoor cage down the street. We've talked to my neighbor pretty frequently and always stop to pet the rabbits as well. Their names are Ginger and Thumper and they're really cute. Now that they're used to us swarming around their cage, they let us pet them. Roo at first couldn't remember their names properly so she referred to them as Thumper and Dumper. I really can't think of a more apt name for a bunny. It makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it. We all call them Thumper and Dumper now. We were coming home from church this Sunday and passed by their house and I said that and my husband busted out laughing and just said, "I love Roo."

I think that about covers it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year!

I know I haven't written in a long time! I need to talk about lots of stuff. I might end up going back and trying to catch up, or I might see something shiny and go off down the street and never look back. I get easily distracted by the shiny...

So Aurora and Silvermist are both at their new preschools now. Here they are with their melted crayon art that we did for parent Christmas presents. Bye girls, we love you! :)

Their absence, along with the fact that Tod, Copper, and Alice are hugely mobile and want to be big kids, has really changed the face of our day. The "big kids" are basically just O'Malley and Tarzan, plus Roo on the afternoons that she's here. O'Malley has started to be a bit apprehensive about starting kindergarten in the fall- he knows that I homeschooled Duchess and has asked me to do that for him too. I figure if I do a semester of that here then he'll feel better. So I've pulled out the Sonlight K curriculum, and bought a couple preschool workbooks for Tarzan and Roo, and we're doing some structured reading and writing time during what used to be nap time. There's a fun ticket and reward system that I adapted from this post, with the jars of treats. They're excited and I am too. I love starting new stuff. Let's hope I stick with it and that the shiny doesn't defeat me. :)

Then we have the middle sized kids- Tigger and Hercules, plus Lady and Mater who sometimes fall into that group and sometimes still stay with the babies. These are the ones who mostly motor around independently. If there's art, they might want to do it. If there's reading, they might sit and listen. Or they might ignore all my efforts to get them involved and just do their own thing. I like that about this age- I really feel like play is the most important thing and I don't start to do more rigid scheduled stuff until they're bigger.

Tod, Copper, Alice, and Perdita are moving up quickly too. Pretty soon we're not going to have anyone who is willing to hang out in the living room. They're working on eating table food, pulling up and trying to walk, (or crawl in Perdita's case- she's a bit younger) and just loving the fact that they can hang with the older kids.

We'd love to fill the spots we've got, so check with your friends and see if anyone you know needs daycare!