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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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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 toddler adjust to a new daycare/preschool

by Maxine
Posted August 8 2011 02:48pm
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Adjusting to a new setting takes time. Your toddler needs to know that you are on her team as she moves towards being comfortable in a new daycare or preschool.

 

Here are several ways to help your child adjust to a new daycare or preschool:

Let your child know that you realize change isn't easy and that you know it takes time to adjust to new places, people and things.

Be supportive and encouraging, not impatient or frustrated. Explore the new area, or new daycare or preschool with your child in advance of going there on the first day.

Along with your child, get involved with new groups and activities at daycare or preschool. This will help you feel more connected to your child's new situation, too.

Help your child find the playgroups and activities she has always liked doing, and try to get her involved, outside of daycare or preschool.

Where possible, allow your child to stay connected with friends from his old daycare or preschool.

Ask your child what you can do to help - children often have great ideas about how you can help them feel better.

It would be a mistake to let your child stay home from a new daycare or preschool just because he is afraid and doesn't want to go. But don't force your child to get involved in outside activities too soon - he'll let you know when he is ready. And try not to say things like, "We moved three months ago - aren't you over it yet?" That will just make your child feel worse.

If you find that your child is sad, withdrawn, angry, acting out, doing unusually poorly in the new daycare or preschool, or showing physical symptoms of anxiety and things don't seem to be getting better even long after the move, consult your child's daycare provider or school teacher to see if they are noticing the same behaviour, and then consult your child's physician.

Have you had to move your toddler to a new preschool or daycare? How did she handle the transition? Share your thoughts below!

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Avoiding nagging your toddler

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 12:24pm
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Pick up your toys! Eat your dinner! Hang up your coat! Sound familiar?

When you tell your toddler over and over again to do something, he can become pretty good at tuning you out. Here are several ways to avoid nagging all the time:

Talk to your child when everyone is calm, about what is expected, what the rules are and develop a schedule for the tasks.

When your child doesn't do what you want, instead of nagging, go to your child, get his attention, ask what he is feeling about the task and why he is hesitant to do it. Then, after you've dealt with your child's reasons, in a calm way make it clear what your child is to do.

If your child often refuses to do, or never gets around to doing what you expect, speak to other parents to find out if what you're expecting is reasonable. And ask what they do that works, instead of nagging, that gets things done.

Don't nag to the point where you're yelling and making threats about what will happen if your child doesn't do what he's asked, especially threats you know you won't carry out. ("If you don't pick up your coat, you'll have to wear it for a week straight!") This is usually ineffective. Once you've lost your temper, all that most children think about is how upset you are. Be calm and consistent. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Follow-through is very important.

Do you find it hard to refrain from nagging your toddler? Do you have your own strategies for reducing your nagging? Share it with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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