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Choosing child care and kindergarten

by Maxine
Posted December 20 2010 10:48am
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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, preschool 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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Is it harmful to yell at your preschooler?

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 05:44pm
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Some people might think that because they only yell at their child, and don't do anything physical, that it's really not that bad. But frequent, angry yelling can be as harmful as hitting your child because of the emotional hurt it causes.

If you do lose your temper and yell at your child, tell your child as soon as possible that you are sorry, and it wasn't right for you to behave the way you did. Also, explain that you will try very hard not to yell in the future. Most importantly, show your child that you will always love them.  This is also great modeling for your child, who will learn that yelling is not an acceptable way of dealing with problems.

Yelling is usually a sign that you have lost control and so it will be difficult to parent effectively.  When you are not in control, step back, take a few breaths or remove yourself until you are calm.  You might ask your partner to step in for you as well.

If you are yelling at your child regularly, consult your physician about possible medical reasons for your anger.

 

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Helping your toddler learn to play with others

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 02:16pm
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As your young child learns to play with others, she may need your help to learn what behaviour is acceptable. If you see that your child is upset when playing, encourage her to put all her emotions, particularly her frustrations, into words. Try to identify with your child's feelings, but let her know that there are still certain ways that one should behave in such a situation: "You want to play with that puzzle, but Jason has it now. Even though you really, badly want it, you will have to wait."

If there's been a problem with another child, help your child see the other child's point of view, and talk about possible solutions to the problem. "You grabbed Jason's puzzle and now he is very sad. Please give Jason the puzzle back and wait until he is finished." You will need to be a good role model, as your child will be watching you to learn social skills. You will need to avoid reactions like rudeness or impatience. Little children watch adults all the time, and copy our worst as well as our best behaviour.

Making friends works best if you let your child choose when he wants to play and whom he wants to play with. Children don't necessarily become friends with each other just because their parents are friends or relatives. Learning to get along with others takes time, so don't push your child to play with others. 

If your child is having difficulty becoming part of the group or getting along with others, watch him, and see if there are ways you can help him join in. Sit on the sidelines with him and discuss what is happening in the room, where he would like to play and how he could join in to be accepted. Or give your child a toy that will fit in with the group's play, in order to help him join the group.

 

How did you help your child learn to play with others? At what age did they start having an easier time? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

 

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Helping your preschooler overcome his fears

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 05:26pm
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When you comfort your frightened child, you are helping him feel safe. This sense of security gives him the courage he needs to eventually face and conquer his fears. It's normal for all youngsters to be afraid of something at one point or another, whether it's thunder, large dogs, bees, the dark or imaginary things such as ugly monsters under the bed. And some children's temperaments make them naturally more fearful than others. Fears seem to be especially common between three and six years of age, when a child's ability to think about and remember scary things increases.

Here are some things to consider when you are comforting your fearful child.

  1. Even if you don't really understand what your child is afraid of, or you don't think it's something that should frighten her, remember that the fear is very real to her, so deal with it seriously. Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing her to overcome it. For example, it won't help matters if you say, "Don't be ridiculous! It's just a clown."
  2. It's important to talk to your child about his fears. Words have a way of taking some of the power out of negative emotions and making them more manageable for young children.
  3. No child should be forced into dealing with something she is afraid of before she is ready. When you feel she can handle it, gently encourage your child to confront a fear by gradually exposing her to what she finds frightening. 
  4. If you show excessive concern when your child is upset, you may unintentionally reinforce your child's fears, giving him the impression that there really is something to be afraid of. Sometimes just providing age-appropriate information in a calm and reassuring tone can be helpful. For example, you might say, "That's a very loud noise, isn't it? It's an ambulance. It must be on its way to help someone."
  5. Prepare your child for things you expect will frighten her. For example, if you're visiting a friend who has a dog, tell your child about the dog before you arrive, reassuring her that the dog is friendly and gentle and really likes children. Give her the opportunity to talk about any concerns she has in advance, and together you can develop a plan to help her cope when she eventually encounters the source of her fear. Maybe you'll both pat the dog together, or she'll offer him a biscuit to show that she's his friend.
  6. Keep reminding your child of the things that he is no longer afraid of. This will help him feel empowered, and he'll realize that it's possible to overcome other fears, too. Learning to deal with fear is an important part of growing up and can greatly increase your child's confidence. Therefore, you play a big role in gently and gradually helping your child confront and overcome his fears. But remember, let him work up to it. And if he gets upset, comfort him, hold him calmly and reassure him that he'll be OK.

 

Is your preschooler ever fearful? What strategies do you use to help your child overcome his fears? Leave a comment and share your story with other parents.

 

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