Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Free range daycare provider

I've always considered myself a bit of a free range daycare provider.   My approach to daycare is to provide a loving, home-like, relaxed and open environment for children to explore and be their own people.  I provide a safe environment with boundaries and allow them to develop their own games and adventures.  While I do play music often, I primarily offer books, toys and craft supplies for them to interpret in their own way.  If I see a specific game developing between the 2 and 3 year old, I will offer more toys, rearrange furniture or compliment their play with more imagination suggestions.  We never have circle time and rarely have set projects (aside from the occasional too good to resist hand and finger print projects)  I rarely start the day off with an agenda and I don't consider my daycare to be a preschool.  Learning here occurs as part of natural development and not as a result of introducing concepts and themes and projects.

I start off the day every morning by asking the children how they are today as they come in the door.  I compliment them on something (hair, clothing, smile, manners) and then I ask "what are we going to do today?" and "what toys would you like me to get out?".  I do have a few things set out on Monday, but the toys available shift all week long.   They jump from coloring, to puzzles, to books, to cooking, to cars, to ball games and baby dolls.  They imagine they're in races, in houses, out shopping, cooking in restaurants.  They sing and dance.  They scribble and trace.  They play hide and seek.  All the while I ask questions and they ask questions.  We have discussions.  Have you ever had a discussion with a 3 year old, or better yet a 1 or 2 year old?  They are just like you, only smaller.  They have a world of knowledge and experience to offer and are dying for you to share your world of knowledge and experience with them.  They crave a listening face and love to be understood.

I've never once asked myself "will these children be ready for school".  I've never once worried that they might struggle or be left behind.  These children are learning to think and interact.   Through interaction and observation they are learning words, colors, numbers and shapes.  They sing and dance and are physically active.  They are very bright, every one of them.  I only hope that when they go to school their independent learning qualities will be encouraged and embraced.  I hope that school is ready for them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The year of "clarity"

Linking up with these great blogs today!
One Word 365 and Bohemian Bowmans and By Word of Mouth
The past two years I have chosen a "word for the year".  The first year, I did it out of frustration and irritation.  It was the year of "no".  I was over committed with daycare and volunteering to help at school.  Every time someone asked for help with something I felt obligated to say yes.  I was overextended and unhappy.  I had little time to enjoy my family and my family, with all of their commitments, had little time to enjoy anything either.  This was the year that I quit being a scout leader, stopped helping coach basketball (or ANY other sports) gave up helping out in the classroom and decided to homeschool my kids. It was the year that I actively enforced boundaries that I had laid out for daycare parents.  It was the year I stopped being taken advantage of.  The first few "No's" I uttered to people in response to their requests actually made me feel physically sick.   By the end of 2010 though, I had gotten the hang of it.  I consider "The Year of No" to have been a huge success. 

I decided that 2011 would be the year of joy.   After a very stressful year of "no" it was time to embrace all the positive things that had come from this change.  It was time to live with joy.  It sounded simple enough, but there is so much static that gets in the way and makes true joy difficult to find.  I think that the year of "joy" is still a work in progress.  I don't want to carry that term over into 2012 though.  I want a new word to help me enter into this new year. 

I've decided that 2012 will be the year of "clarity".  Some synonyms for the word clarity are; comprehensibility, focus and translucence.  It's time to find a little clarity.  So for 2012, the "year of clarity", I will simplify our home, my work, our schooling.  I will work to bring focus to our household and eliminate all of the disruptions that come on a daily basis.  I will find simple ways to bring clarity into our home.

So, cheers to a year of clarity!  This week I plan to outline the ways I would like to see more clarity.  The word definitely sums up what I feel I need.  Now I need to define what that means to me.

By Word of Mouth Blogging
By Word of Mouth

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Daycare Christmas Crafts

Linking up with Rub Some Dirt on It today!


This week we made 3 different types of hand print/footprint paintings, a reindeer, a Christmas tree and a candy cane.  To make the reindeer I traced their feet on brown construction paper and for the 1 and 2 year old, I cut it out.  I let the 3 year old cut his out himself.  Next we glued the footprint onto a blue sheet of construction paper.

Naturally, I didn't think to start taking pictures until we were already at this point, but it's pretty straight forward really.  Next I painted their hands with white paint, one at a time, and stamped them onto the paper to make antlers.

Six sets of hand prints later, we had these:

Then we gave them faces.  I have used red pom poms and googly eyes to finish them off in the past, but this year I couldn't seem to locate my red pom poms and googly eyes when it was time.  Instead, I used a variety pack of sequins we had.  We chose shiny red circles for noses.  One year old chose blue hearts for eyes, two year old chose pink flowers for eyes and 3 year old chose a red Christmas tree and a green Christmas tree for the eyes on his reindeer.

Have to say, the crazy mismatch Christmas tree eyes are my favorite!  (The face was much cuter once the glue dried!)

After this, we worked on fingerprint candy canes and a foot print Christmas tree.  Amazing dropped the camera.... so we didn't get pictures of that process, but it was very simple.  Here's a picture of our finished candy cane and Christmas tree:

Luckily, you can see the footprint Christmas tree project here at Rub Some Dirt on It .  The only challenge we had with the foot print Christmas tree was that we had a "bald spot" in the middle of our tree's because of high arches.  I simply took a paint brush and dabbed at the paint until it seemed pretty uniformly filled in.  Next we dipped our fingers in different paint colors and stamped on ornaments.  The kids LOVED these projects. 

My quick tip for easy, relatively mess free hand print paint projects:  I keep my box of wipes handy and a paper plate for discarding used wipes.  This way I can clean as we go and I don't need to leave the table unsupervised to wash one hand at a time.  That would be an awful lot of hand washing trips!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday {December 9}

It snowed on this day 31 years ago.  I woke up to find Grandma and Grandpa at my house, a blanket of white snow on the ground  and Mom and Dad gone to the hospital for the birth of my third sibling.  I was hoping for a girl.  I was 10 years old and knew I would get to (hahaha, get to! ahhhhh the sweet ignorance of youth!)  have the baby in the same room as my sister and I if it was a girl.  I'd daydreamed about helping with changing diapers and giving the baby bottles.  I was ready.

The baby was ready too, however, the baby was not a girl.  Dood was born that day.  Folding cloth diapers, helping with bottles and supervising Dood became a regular part of my routine (I said a regular part of my routine, not a happy part of my routine, just to clarify mom, I'm not trying to glamorize things here!).  He was adorable, even if he had chosen to be a boy.  He was a huge part of my life.  I was totally okay with having Dood around (although Mom might tell a different

Fast forward now 31 years and Dood is a Dad and has his own life far away.  I understand his need and desire for the life he has chosen.  I am proud of the man he has grown up to be, but I miss Dood!

So here are my seven quick takes, on Dood, for this Friday, December 9:

  1. Born on a snowy December day in 1980
  2. Not a girl
  3. Towhead that has turned into a towhead with a red beard... go figure
  4. Spell Check does not like the term "Dood"
  5. Hates cold weather, despite being born in it
  6. Loves warm weather and running around in his underwear (hahaha...jk)
  7. An honor to have as a brother and a friend
  8. Deeply missed and loved.
Happy Birthday Dood!