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Choosing child care and kindergarten

by Maxine
Posted December 16 2010 05:53pm
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When looking for a child care or school setting that is just right for your child, allow enough time to compare many, to have all your questions answered and to meet the educators who will teach and care for your child. The time your child spends in these learning and care environments should be Comfort, Play & Teach time. Be sure that the centre or school you choose makes both you and your child happy!

Note: 

  • Browse or contact the Ministry of Education of your province for a list of licensed child care options in your area
  • Browse or contact your city for child care program ratings

Comfort

  • Look at the learning environment. Does it have comfortable and organized spaces for children to play, explore and interact? Are there soft furnishings and natural materials? Do the windows let in enough light? A learning environment should be interesting and inviting, and should make your child feel at home. Observe the interactions among the adults and children and among the children themselves. Are they respectful and kind? Do they care for each other? Do you feel a cooperative or a competitive atmosphere?
  • Make sure that the standards that ensure your child’s health and safety are being met. Is the centre or school clean? Are the learning materials in good repair and safe? Are the children receiving proper meals or snacks that are nutritious? If you have concerns about issues that affect your child’s well-being, find out how to have them addressed. Parents have a vital role in ensuring that children receive quality education and care.

Check with your provincial or municipal website to see if they have ratings of childcare centers. Ratings of childcare facilities are available in some provinces. 

Play

  • Notice the kinds of activities available to the children in the classroom. Do the choices include math, language, science and nature, building toys, blocks, art, music and a drama area? Is there time for children to explore freely, pursue their own interests and to learn through play? Posted lesson plans should match what is being implemented, but there must also be flexibility to follow the children’s lead!
  • Inspect the playground and outdoor learning materials. Are materials like the climber and riding toys in good repair? Are there grass and trees that provide shade? Do children get sufficient time to practice their physical skills including running, climbing, riding and playing collaborative games? Children need a healthy balance between active outdoor play and more quiet indoor activities.

Teach

  • Ask about the centre’s or school’s educational philosophy. Is it play-oriented or more academic in nature? Is there a balance between learning experiences that are initiated by the children and directed by teachers? Do teachers provide individualized attention and does the philosophy complement your child’s learning style? It is important to know that your child will be exposed to a variety of learning opportunities, while exploring individual interests at her own pace.
  • Remember, a good classroom environment, curriculum and educator all have important roles in providing care and learning to the whole child. If your child is excited by what is available in the classroom, is safe, and most importantly, feels cherished and valued by the teachers, you should feel confident that your child will flourish there and that you have made the right choice!

Home Daycare

For parents who are looking for an alternative to enrolling their child at a daycare centre, home care may provide a good option. This kind of care is provided in a caregiver’s home and is available for infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-aged children.

Caregivers who work for home care agencies are screened, approved and monitored by home visitors. Below are some of the advantages of selecting home daycare:

  • The agency provides assistance, support and monitoring, and aids care providers in planning developmentally appropriate activities, preparing nutritious meals, maintaining a safe environment and selecting safe and suitable toys and equipment for children.
  • Children will enjoy a warm and homey environment, which they may find comforting and reassuring.
  • Children receive consistent care and attention from the child care provider.
  • There are fewer children than in day care. This ensures that children have opportunities for playing and interacting with others but still receive lots of individualized attention.
  • Home care may be a less expensive option than day care.
  • Parents may be able to find a home care situation that is conveniently located near to their own home or to their workplace. 

What made you choose your child care provider or kindergarten? What things were you looking for to help make your choice? Leave a comment below and share your story with parents just like you!

 

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Pre-school and balancing a new routine

by Maxine
Posted August 8 2011 03:25pm
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Starting child care or pre-kindergarten is an important change for both you and your child. It may stir up many different feelings, and will likely affect your daily routine.

Here are some suggestions that might help you cope more easily with this new transition and turn it into Comfort, Play & Teach time!

Comfort

Your child may need reassurance about her new teacher and learning environment. Prepare her for the new experience by talking about it ahead of time, and if possible, visit the new classroom and meet the teacher. Pre-school will seem more familiar that way, and going there each day may be easier.

Encourage your child to participate in daily tasks like choosing the clothing he will wear to pre-school the next day. Routines can provide him with a sense of predictability and security by enabling him to anticipate what will happen, and will give him some needed control over the new situation.

Play

Both you and your child will have busy days now and will need opportunities just to relax and enjoy each other's company! Remember to set aside special time to go to the library, play at the park, bake blueberry muffins, dance to music or to simply cuddle up together and talk about the best part of your day.

Provide your child with items she will need for playing pre-school with her dolls. She will enjoy showing them how to colour, looking at books, singing the alphabet song, and printing with chubby pencils! Role playing pre-school experiences will help her gain confidence as she practices all the new skills she is learning.

Teach

Before bed time, relax and read books together like Franklin Goes to School (by Paulette Bourgeois) or Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (by Joseph Slate). The words and pictures describe typical experiences at school, and will give your child a chance to ask questions and perhaps work out his fears.

Share some of your favourite memories of school with your child. Show him school pictures and tell stories about your classroom, teachers and friends. He can compare similarities and differences between your school experience and his. Most importantly, he will learn that you were once a child and that you understand what he is experiencing now.

 

How do you balance new routines with your toddler? Was it hard to get a new routine in place when he started child care or pre-school? Share you experience with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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How is play good for your toddler?

by phoenix
Posted January 4 2012 01:40pm
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When children play, they are practicing skills in every area of development: thinking, solving problems, talking, moving, sensing, cooperating and making moral judgments. This natural form of learning is very similar to the real world, because instead of learning one thing at a time, children have to learn - and use - several ideas and objects all at once. Playing is also fun - it makes children happy, and leads to easier and more effective learning.

In the early years, children explore or play by doing the same thing over and over again. For example, toddlers make block towers, just to knock them down. This repeated practice helps learning and builds confidence. Children learn what objects are like, and what they can do with them. They are beginning to make sense of their world.

As children grow, they add make-believe to their play. When children pretend, they are showing what they know. For example, when they put a block to their ear and say "Hello," children are showing that an object can be a make-believe telephone, and that a telephone is used for talking to people. When children build a castle or an airport, they have to think about their goal, and figure out how to make the castle or airport. That involves being creative and solving problems.

In pretend play, children are making sense of the world, trying out things they've learned and seen, and thinking about their feelings. They sort out fantasy and reality. You can tell a lot about what your child is feeling and thinking just by watching her play.

Around the time your child begins school, games with rules become part of play. Games encourage children to use strategy, logic and moral judgments to follow the rules. Board games like Snakes and Ladders, card games and team sports are all games with rules that help children learn to take turns, negotiate, problem-solve and get along with others.

Video Alert!
Watch our Toddler Playtime video to learn how to incorporate Comfort, Play & Teach into the playtime you spend with your toddler.

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Helping your toddler deal with her feelings

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 11:51am
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It's a good idea to help your toddler learn to manage his emotions, but remember you don't want to stop young children from having feelings all together. It's much better to help your child learn better ways of dealing with his feelings instead. Here are several things that you can try:

Try to set a good example for your child. When you find yourself getting upset or frustrated, try saying things out loud like, "I'm sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it." This is a great way to teach your child how to calm himself down and remain in control.

Help your child put what she is feeling into words - teach her what to call different types of feelings.

Talk about the way people in storybooks and pictures are feeling, and talk about what might cause those feelings.

Explain that you understand she's upset or angry, but at the same time let your child know that some behaviours, like hurting others or constantly whining, are not acceptable.

Take your child's feelings seriously and acknowledge how he is feeling. Never say "It's not such a big deal" or "Why are you so upset about that?" Instead, help your child understand that many people have similar feelings on occasion, and some people have them more often. Then discuss the acceptable ways to express them.

Be a positive influence when your child does get upset - by helping to calm him and change the situation into something more positive.

Avoid labeling your child by his feelings, such as "He's always been an angry boy" or "She can't help it, she's shy." Too often, a child will start to believe what is being said, and live up to the label.

If your child's control of her emotions doesn't seem to be improving, consult your child's physician for referrals to appropriate family services in your area.

 

How do you help your toddler cope with her feelings? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

 

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