Welcome To The Early Childhood Blog
You've found the early childhood blog. On this page you'll hear directly from Deby - our Early Childhood Director - about resources, tips, and her feelings that might be helpful to you. Visit often for the latest information and reach out with any comments or questions. Thank you for being a part of our early childhood network!
If it’s too good to be true…hold out, regardless of what is usually said. It just might be true! At least it was for La Crèche parent, Zakkiyah Sanders.
On Tuesday, October 30, 2023, Zakkiyah collected a car that she was the winner of; a vehicle not by random raffle, but rather by the generosity of long time northside community member, Barbara West. A woman with a giving spirit, driven to make a difference.
Barbara would not take much credit for coming up with the idea to gift her vehicle since she was purchasing another. She spoke of how it “is a shame” that dealerships will not give you blue book value as you trade in your car for another. She then thought that it would be more helpful to purposefully give the older car - in great condition - away to someone who would value it and use it: a young mom.
This has been such a rewarding experience for all involved, that Barbara is hoping others throughout our community will think to do the same, as they move from one vehicle to the next. Barbara said, “It was important to find the right young mom, who could benefit from this vehicle. The car needs to help her and her child, get to where they need to go. She has stated that this will help them. Her mother too.” Barbara spoke assuredly, ”This was the right thing to do!”
As they were at the DMV on Tuesday, transferring the title on the car, a woman overheard their story. The woman then gifted Zakkiyah
$75.00 for the first oil change.
Goodness and kindness, yet prevail. Joy and light at the end of the tunnel. Zakkiyah left through the doors of the La Crèche center with a bounce in her step, uttering that everything was feeling better. With a hug, she told Barbara that she was so thankful and loved her. She claimed Barbara as a friend for life. Barbara warmly returned the embrace of Zakkiyah and her toddler aged daughter. She knows that they have made a lifetime connection.
While the holiday season is often a time of joy and celebration, it can also bring about stress for both adults and children. Young children, in particular, may find the disruptions to routine, new environments, and heightened emotions overwhelming. As parents and caregivers, it's essential to support our little ones in navigating the holiday season with ease. In this blog, we'll explore practical strategies to help children cope with the holiday stress.
Create Predictable Routines:
Young children thrive on routine, and the holiday season can introduce a multitude of changes. To provide a sense of security, try to maintain as much consistency as possible. Stick to regular meal times, nap schedules, and bedtime routines. Predictability helps children feel grounded, especially during the whirlwind of holiday activities.
The holidays often come with a flurry of bright lights, loud music, and crowded spaces. Recognize your child's sensory thresholds and be mindful of their exposure to overstimulating environments. Consider using noise-canceling headphones or providing a quiet space where your child can retreat when needed.
Communicate Simply and Honestly:
Explain holiday plans and activities to your child in a simple and honest manner. Use age-appropriate language and answer any questions they may have. Knowing what to expect can alleviate anxiety and help your child feel more in control of the situation.
Encourage Expressing Emotions:
Holidays can evoke a range of emotions for children, including excitement, confusion, and even frustration. Encourage your child to express their feelings through words, drawings, or play. Validating their emotions fosters a sense of understanding and helps them develop healthy emotional coping mechanisms.
Create Cozy Family Traditions:
Establishing comforting family traditions can provide a sense of continuity during the holiday season. Whether it's reading a favorite holiday story, cooking together, or having a special movie night, these traditions create warm memories and a sense of stability for young children.
Balance Excitement and Rest:
The holiday season can be tiring for everyone, especially young children who may have difficulty pacing themselves. Balance exciting activities with periods of rest and relaxation. Ensure your child gets enough sleep, and be mindful of signs of fatigue or overstimulation.
Set Realistic Expectations:
Sometimes, the desire for the "perfect" holiday experience can lead to stress. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your child. It's okay if not every moment goes according to plan. Embrace the imperfections and focus on the joy of spending time together.
Empower your child by providing choices within the holiday activities. Whether it's selecting decorations, choosing holiday outfits, or deciding on a festive activity, offering options gives your child a sense of control and involvement.
Practice Mindfulness Together:
Introduce simple mindfulness exercises to help your child stay present and calm during hectic moments. Whether it's taking a few deep breaths together or engaging in a brief mindfulness activity, these practices can be effective in reducing stress for both children and adults.
By prioritizing routine, communication, and emotional expression, you can help your child navigate the holiday season with resilience and joy. Create a nurturing environment, establish comforting traditions, and remember that the most important aspect of the holidays is the love and connection shared with your little ones. Wishing you and your family a peaceful and joy-filled holiday season!
Self-regulation is a crucial set of skills that enables a person to manage their emotions, behavior, and attention effectively. For young children, the development of self-regulation skills lays the foundation for success in various aspects of their life, including academic achievement, social relationships, and emotional well-being. In this blog post, we'll explore what self-regulation is, why it's important, and practical strategies to promote its development in young children.
Self-regulation encompasses a range of abilities including:
Why is self-regulation important for young children?
Strategies for Promoting Self-Regulation
Promoting the development of self-regulation skills in young children is a vital investment in their future well-being and success. By creating a supportive environment, teaching emotional awareness, and offering opportunities for practice, caregivers and educators play a crucial role in nurturing these essential life skills. Remember, patience and consistency are key, and every small step toward self-regulation is a significant achievement for a child.
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Parenting is a journey filled with unique challenges and triumphs, and the wisdom gained along the way is invaluable. One way parents can leverage their experiences is by sharing them with decision makers in various arenas, from education, health care and beyond. In this blog, we will explore why it is crucial for parents to engage with decision makers and how their voices can shape policies and systems for the better.
Real World Insights:
Parents are on the front lines of their children’s lives. They navigate the intricacies of education, child care, health care and other daily essential services daily. Their first hand experiences provide critical insights that policymakers may not fully understand without their input. Sharing these insights helps decision makers develop more effective and responsive solutions.
Advocating for Change:
When parents share their experiences, they become advocates for change. Whether it’s advocating for improvement in the education system, safer communities, or better healthcare systems, their stories can highlight the areas that require attention and reform. Decision makers are more likely to act when they hear real stories from those directly affected.
Humanizing Complex Issues:
Complex policies and decisions can sometimes seem detached from real people’s lives. Parents sharing their experiences humanize these issues, making them relatable and tangible to decision makers. When faced with real stories, decision makers are more likely to feel a sense of urgency and empathy pushing them to take action.
When parents share their experiences they hold decision makers accountable for the impact of their choices. Transparency and open dialogue create a sense of responsibility among those in power. Decision makers are more likely to prioritize the needs and concerns of parents when they know they are being watched and held accountable.
Building Stronger Communities:
The sharing of parental experiences fosters a sense of community and solidarity. When parents come together to advocate for change, they create a united front that can drive meaningful improvements. Decision makers are more inclined to engage with organized, informed, and passionate groups of parents.
Decision making processes should be inclusive and representative of the communities they affect. When parents share their experiences, they ensure that diverse voices are heard. This inclusivity leads to more equitable policies and decisions that benefit all members of society.
Engaging with decision makers empowers parents to take an active role in shaping their children’s futures. It teaches them that their voices matter and can drive positive change. Empowered parents are more likely to participate in civic activities and advocate for the needs of their families.
Parents’ experiences are a valuable resource that decision makers should tap into. When parents share their stories and insights, they play an essential role in shaping policies and systems that directly impact families and communities. Decision makers, in turn, should actively seek out and listen to the voices of parents, recognizing the invaluable role they play in creating a better world for future generations. The collaboration between parents and decision makers can lead to more informed, responsive and inclusive policies that benefit everyone.
If you are interested in sharing your experience, click HERE. We would love to hear from you and support you in your journey of becoming an advocate for your child’s future. Tell us what is important to you as a parent. What is your hope for your child’s future? We look forward to hearing from you.
The transition back to school after a long summer break is often a mix of excitement and apprehension. This year, however, there’s an added layer of complexity with the ongoing concerns about germs and infections. For parents with infants who aren’t yet school bound, managing work responsibilities while dealing with potential illnesses can be overwhelming, especially if you're running low on paid time off (PTO). In this blog, we'll dive into some practical strategies to help parents cope with back-to-school germs while navigating the challenges of being out of PTO and caring for an infant.
Navigating back-to-school germs while managing an infant and being out of PTO is undoubtedly a challenging task. By planning ahead, seeking support, communicating with your employer, and focusing on preventive measures, you can navigate this period with resilience and ensure the well-being of both your family and your professional responsibilities.
School readiness refers to a child's preparedness to succeed in a formal educational setting, such as preschool or kindergarten. It encompasses a range of cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and language skills that children should develop before starting formal schooling. The concept of school readiness is crucial as it sets the foundation for a child's future academic and social success.
Determining if a child is ready for school involves assessing their physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development. While every child is unique and develops at their own pace, there are some general indicators to help you gauge their readiness for school. These include:
It's essential to remember that readiness for school is a gradual process, and children may have strengths and weaknesses in different areas of development. Getting children ready for school involves a holistic approach that encompasses their physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development. There are many things you can do to facilitate a child’s development. Here are some key strategies to help prepare children for a successful transition to school:
Remember that each child is unique, and readiness for school varies. Be patient and provide a nurturing environment for children's growth. Be supportive during this transition period, as some children may take time to adjust to the new environment. Encouragement, positive reinforcement, and a nurturing environment will help prepare preschoolers for a successful start to their educational journey. If you have concerns or questions about a child's development or school readiness, don't hesitate to consult with teachers, pediatricians, or educational professionals for guidance and support.
Playing outdoors is crucial of the healthy development of young children. This goes beyond the basic health benefits of promoting an active lifestyle and reducing the risk of sedentary behaviors, but goes on to include things like physical and cognitive development. Outdoor play provides children with ample opportunities for physical activity, such as running, jumping, climbing, and throwing. These activities help to improve children’s motor skills, coordination, balance and overall fitness.
Outdoor play will stimulate a child’s cognitive development by exposing them to new environments sensory experiences, and natural elements. They can explore their surroundings, observe changes in nature, and engage in imaginative play, which enhances their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Outdoor play will also encourage social interaction and cooperation among children. It offers opportunities for them to play together, take turns, share resources, and negotiate rules. They learn essential social skills like communications, empathy, and conflict resolution.
Spending time in nature has a positive impact on a child’s emotional well-being. Outdoor play allows children to release energy, reduce stress, and experience a sense of freedom. Being outdoors also exposes them to natural sunlight, which helps regulate mood and boosts Vitamin D levels.
Outdoor environments provide children with more space and the freedom to engage in imaginative and unstructured play. They can build forts, create imaginary worlds, role-play, and explore their own interests and curiosities. Such play fosters creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. There is a connection with nature and the natural world that happens when children play outdoors. They can experience firsthand the beauty of plants, animals, and the changing seasons. This connection promotes a sense of wonder, curiosity, and environmental awareness, fostering a lifelong appreciation of nature.
All of this in addition to the health benefits of outdoor play are a win for children! Fresh air and exposure to sunlight has been proven to contribute to the overall health and well-being of children, supporting their immune system and sleep patterns.
If you follow our social media pages you have already learned about some ideas of activities to do outdoors with young children. However, there are plenty more to take advantage of to keep young children entertained and engaged. Here are a few more to add to your list:
Remember, above all else, prioritize safety while engaging in outdoor activities. Apply sunscreen, provide plenty of water, and supervise children appropriately depending on their age and the nature of the activity.
Encouraging outdoor play in young children is essential for their holistic development, as it benefits their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional well-being. Take advantage of all the natural resources at your disposal to make this a summer to remember for yourself and your children.
Aggressive behaviors in toddlers is relatively common and can be a normal part of their development. Toddlers are still learning to regulate their emotions and communicate effectively, they are becoming aware that they are separate individuals from their caregivers. They love being independent and asserting themselves, but sometimes they resort to aggressive behaviors when they are frustrated, angry or overwhelmed. However, it is important for parents and caregivers to address and guide toddlers towards more appropriate behavior. There are many reasons for toddlers to become aggressive. Here are some reasons as well as some strategies to help manage them:
As caregivers, one of our jobs is to help young children learn emotional regulation. We can help by teaching them how to communicate their feelings in acceptable, nonaggressive ways. It is often a difficult and arduous task but over time with the right support and guidance children can and will learn to manage their big feelings and reactions. The bottom line is that when you see aggressive behavior in a young child it is an important sign that they are out of control and need help calming down before they can learn anything. Staying calm yourself is one of the best things you can do for your child at this point. Reacting with anger or frustration may escalate the situation further. Take a deep breath, maintain a calm tone of voice, and approach the situation with patience.
If your child’s aggression persists or becomes severe, it may be beneficial to seek support from your pediatrician, child psychologist, or a parenting counselor. Often occupational therapy is successful as well. These professionals can provide additional guidance, evaluate any underlying issues , and suggest tailored strategies to address the aggressive behaviors.
Remember, consistency, patience, and a supportive approach are essential when dealing with aggression in young children. It’s important to provide a safe and nurturing environment for your child, helping them learn and develop appropriate behaviors over time.
We know that family members play a crucial role in the early care and education of young children. Typically, we think of these family members as adults such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends etc. We often overlook the role that older siblings or teen relatives may have in the early care and education field.
This type of child care has been happening for decades and yet it is not recognized as a viable option for parents of young children. There may be good reasons for this, however, in light of the current lack of affordable child care options for parent of young children it is time to recognize and support the important role of our young people in the field of care and education.
Here are some benefits that often get overlooked:
It is important to note that while young people can provide valuable assistance with child care, we want to safeguard them from missing out on their own education and activities. Young people still need to have the time and energy to attend class and do homework. It is healthy for them to have peer relationships and continue to grow and learn into adulthood.
We also want to provide adequate training and supervision to ensure the safety and well-being of young children. Teens who provide child care should be mature, responsible, and have appropriate knowledge and skills to care for children, such as basic knowledge of child development, CPR and first aid certification. It is crucial that adults help young people come up with a plan in case an emergency arises. Many high schools offer child development courses as an elective and often organizations offer simple babysitting courses to get young people started.
It is time to recognize the important contribution that our young people have on the early childhood field and supporting families. If you know of a young person who cares for our littlest children be sure to thank them and let them know their work is important and necessary.
For more information on this and other topics check out our website .
Fred Rogers once said “play is the work of childhood.” As parents and caregivers we see that every day. But there is pressure out there in society to get our children ready for kindergarten, give them the school readiness skills they need to be successful. I recently had the mother of a three year old ask me what she could do to make her child sit longer and do more worksheets. She wanted to make sure he was doing “school work” and not just playing all day.
I explained that when children play, they are actually working. For them play is their job, it is necessary and important to their learning and development. It’s a way for them to try on different roles, to figure out who they are and what their place in the world is. It allows them time to rehearse for things that they may be frightened of like a doctor appointment, a haircut or changes in their homelife. It helps to build the resilience that they need to thrive in their worlds.
Young children love to play and explore the world around them. Oftentimes their play seems frivolous and unstructured but it is actually a very necessary part of a child’s development and helps them learn valuable skills. It teaches children how to make sense of the world around them, how to interact socially and how to tackle physical and mental challenges.
But, for the people that want concrete ideas of what exactly children are learning I have a few examples for you. This is not by any means a complete list but just something to share with those nervous caregivers who think they aren’t providing enough opportunities for young children to learn.
A few days ago I took my eighteen month old granddaughter to the pool for the first time. She was a little nervous at first. The water felt chilly on her skin and she wasn’t sure she liked it. But as she got used to it she began to explore. She tried walking in the water and realized it was getting deeper on her body. She tried lifting her feet up higher and realized she would fall over. As I hung on to her hands and body, she moved her arms and legs and felt how her body floated in the water. Within about thirty minutes she was happily kicking her feet and splashing her older brother. As I watched her face during this I could see her curiosity about this new environment blossom. She is naturally curious but also cautious and wanted to make sure I was close by. She was responding to this new experience with curiosity and caution.
Parents often worry about their child’s development. They get anxious if they think their child is not developing as they should. They compare their child to other children. But what many parents don’t realize is that their child is a born learner. Babies are born with a natural curiosity. They naturally try to figure out just how this world works. This curiosity is an eager desire to learn. They want to explore and discover all the interesting things about their world. There is no need for parents or caregivers to push their children to learn. In fact, the only thing caregivers need to do is provide new experiences for them in a safe manner. Babies are born with an intrinsic desire to learn and absorb as much as they can about the world around them. They have a drive to understand how the world works. This internal desire, or their curiosity is what motivates them to seek out new experiences and research has shown that this leads to greater success in the long term for a child’s learning.
There are many things you can do to nurture your babies natural curiosity. Things as simple as taking a walk outside and wondering aloud about what you see. It may be the cars in the street, the trees on the boulevard or the clouds in the sky, all of these can model your interest in the world. Encourage them to follow their interests. Many young children are interested in small things like bugs. Let them stop and watch the ants on the ground. Talk to them about what they are seeing. Answer their questions as simply and clearly as possible.
Show them how to research things they don’t know about by looking at books on bugs for example. Take them to the library. Most libraries have great children’s sections and do regular story times. These visits help expose children to stories and experiences beyond their own small circle. Children who are exposed to books also become better readers.
It also helps to nurture a child’s curiosity when you give them open ended toys and activities. There are so many commercial toys that are designed to only be used a certain way, however, things like blocks, sand, or boxes can be used creatively using a child’s imagination. I often just put things out on the floor to see what will happen and am usually surprised by the results.
Give it a go! Let your child’s curiosity guide you both and see what transpires!
As a teacher I once had a parent come to me and proudly say that they wanted me to teach their child to scribble. They never wanted their daughter to have to color in the lines on a picture. I listened patiently and then explained that there are so many benefits children get when they practice coloring. It is so much more than just creating a colorful preschool work of art!
Coloring can improve a child’s ability to manipulate many other tools such as scissors, pencils, eating utensils, combs, brushes, a toothbrush and many other tools we use in our daily lives. By allowing children to develop their coloring skills, it gives them a natural way to build on those skills in a way that is both fun and creative. It also helps build those critical hand muscles that are needed in everyday life.
Bilateral coordination is one of these fine motor skills that is needed for so many tasks. When children learn to use both hands together in a somewhat coordinated manner they can then transfer these skills to other functional tasks. When coloring a child needs to hold the paper as they color. Using the assisting, non-dominant hand as a stabilizer allows a child to build strength and dexterity in their dominant hand. This skills carries over to writing tasks and makes coloring a great activity.
However, they are not only building strength in their hands but they are building core strength as well. When the core is not engaged, the child’s non-dominant hand cannot support the paper. Coordinating both hands together with an engaged midsection requires a strong core. A weak core leads to weak fine motor skills distally. The engaged and strong muscles of the abdomen and upper body allow for strength and engagement of the upper arm and in turn lead to dexterity and motor control of the hands.
Coloring can also increase a child’s fine motor endurance. Many children may complain of hand fatigue while coloring. But what they are actually doing when they color is building the small muscles of their hands. This will give them greater hand strength for other activities too. When a child holds a crayon they are working on the strength of the intrinsic muscles of the hand. Using broken crayons requires even more work and is a greater task for children who need to work on their tripod grasp. You can extend this even more by having them color on different surfaces such as cardboard, construction paper or even sand paper.
Visual perception is an important aspect of this as well. Coloring brings an awareness of the body’s position as it moves through space, line awareness, using margins on a page, and writing within a given space or coloring between the lines. It takes a lot for children to coordinate their physical movements with the information received from their visual system. Developing these important hand eye coordination skills through coloring is a well-researched strategy for children. Controlled movements are essential for handwriting, buttoning clothes and a variety of other fine motor tasks.
Here are some ideas to help children who may struggle with their coloring and fine motor skills.
The last few years have brought on an onslaught of mental health issues in the children we care for. We have been bombarded with behavior issues, meltdowns, and even worse children who reenact the violence and trauma they see around them. We wonder how to help them. We wonder how to help ourselves as we try to bounce back from our own trauma experiences the past few years have brought on. We cannot give the children what we don’t possess ourselves.
It is easy for us to get lost in troubling thoughts and overwhelmed by the physical sensations that accompany stress. Think of resilience as a piece of spaghetti. Before it is cooked it’s hard, if you bend it , it snaps and breaks. But if you cook it, it bends, it’s flexible and can move in a different way. We want to be able to bend like spaghetti so that even when we are experiencing a tough time we can think – “This won’t break me.”
There are many things we can do, I think of a mindfulness practice, yoga and breathing techniques, being outdoors in nature etc. These are all important and can help but here are some more things we can all do to build our own resilience and continue to help the children and families we support.
Above all – be patient with yourself. No one is given a handbook on how to deal with life. No one told us it was going to be this hard. Continue to check in with yourself on a daily basis, take care of your mental, emotional and physical health so that you can be the caregiver you want to be.
As a digital society we have learned how to do a hard reset with our computers or our phones by simply turning them off and then back on again. But what happens when your child is acting up and pushing that last nerve? How do a reset? How do we help our children do a reset? Often children, especially young children need help and support with the big feelings that come with stress. Here are some tips to help children, and parents calm down and reset.
It is important to trust the process. These tips may not change things immediately and prevent or stop every meltdown however, if used consistently, over time the child will begin to learn and use them on their own. As caregivers you see the resilience begin to build.
Below you will find older blog posts that have been saved as a PDF.