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The Dear Daycare Parent Blog

Play games! It’s time well spent!

Last year, just before summer, my niece sent me a note telling me that some of her fondest memories of childhood were the times that I came by just to play games with her and her siblings.  She said, “She was sure that time spent together was the reason she still loved so many games today”.  I know that playing board games with her siblings was truly a bonding experience.  Each one of them is now grown, but they still love games and will even organize game nights with friends and family.

She went on to say, that she is working on instilling game night with her own three young boys.  As a teacher herself, she said, “Playing games is not just the teaching of rules and going through the motions, but a lot of the appeal is the time spent together, working for a common goal”.  Playing games with children has so many benefits.  But, she is right, first and foremost, it allows them to spend unhurried time together, laughing and socializing, while enjoying the interactions of playing the game.

Other benefits offered by playing a game:

  • Learning to wait for a turn, as well as, actively taking a turn.
  • Understanding the set goal.
  • To learn color discrimination.
  • To work on reading skills, through letter or word recognition.
  • To work on math skills, through counting or spatial awareness.
  • Decision making and critical thinking.

After getting her letter, I quickly sent her three games that I played with the children at school.  But recently, I was introduced to a company called, Peaceable Kingdom, that makes games for younger children.  This company designs their games to be played cooperatively (to reach a common goal), rather than competitively (against each other).  The game that I watched the children play over the holidays was called, HOOT OWL, HOOT!  The children worked together to get all their owls back into the nest before the sun came up.  Since it’s a cooperative game, either everyone wins or they all lose.

After watching the children play the game, I was curious to see how many games this company had for young children.  They had many!  Some of the titles include: Willy’s Wiggly Web, Count Your Chickens, Feed the Wozzle, Monkey Around, The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Stack Up!, and Sunny and Stormy Day!

I was drawn to the last game listed.  One of the reviews describe “Sunny and Stormy Day! as this: “Peaceable Kingdoms latest cooperative game uses a weather metaphor to open conversations about emotions and how to understand them.  The delightful game presents a picture book, game and a sharing activity to encourage children and parents to talk about what made them happy, sad, or even mad on any given day.  These age appropriate tools serve as playful prompts to help build the social emotional skills needed to be kind, empathetic, resilient and confident.  And in a world dominated by screen time, these skills are more important than ever”.

As teachers, one of the things we are constantly doing throughout the day is to help the children understand their emerging feelings, identify them and how to deal with them.  They may have been sad because another child colored on their drawing, or angry when someone took their toy.  Or, they may have been excited to be able to do something on their own, without any adult help.

At times, Jackie and I would hear parents say to us, “(child’s name) never tells me about his or her day”.  This game would allow the child an opportunity to open the lines of communication with their parents about their feelings and events that impacted their young lives.

All the Peaceable Kingdom games are cooperative, and the play time is short (10 – 20 minutes), which is ideal for this age group.  Also, a few of their games offer a “level up”, which allows the game to grow with your child.

So, I encourage you to start your own tradition of having game night with your child; your child will reap the benefits, because it’s special time spent with you!

Merry Happy Everything!

Last week was the beginning of Hanukkah, and it reminded me how much Jackie and I loved the winter holidays. We used them as a way to teach the kids about diversity and introduce them to the fact that each family is unique and may celebrate differently according to their own traditions.

 

These traditions may include special foods they serve, decorations or trees that they put up and even who they celebrated with. We liked to discuss these holidays and traditions to give the kids a fun way to embrace cultural differences.

 

Right after Thanksgiving, we began to ask the parents in our classroom what holidays they observed as well as how they were celebrated. Knowing this information allowed us the opportunity to talk about these differences with the children. At times, we were fortunate enough to have a parent come into the class to share a story, prepare a special food or engage in an activity that represented their holiday.

 

We had one child from Holland whose parents told us they celebrated St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. “Sinterklaas” wore red robes and a tall pointed hat. He traveled by ship with a huge sack of toys for the children. The family told us that the ornaments on their tree looked like little wooden shoes. On this day, the children would put a pair of shoes or boots into a window with the hope that St. Nicholas would fill them with chocolate or small presents.

 

There was also a little boy in our class from Croatia. Their Christmas started on November 25th with St. Catherine Day; then throughout December they celebrated other saints. On November 25th they made a wreath of straw or evergreens with four candles on it. The wreath symbolized endlessness and the candles represented history and life. Like the little girl in our class, they too celebrated St. Nicholas Day. They put up Christmas trees and decorated them with ornaments in the shape of fruit. Finally, on December 25th, they added a fifth candle to the wreath for Christmas Day.

 

One wonderful dad came in to share how Hanukkah is celebrated and even made latkes with the children as well as playing the Dreidel game.

 

After learning about how their peers celebrated the holidays, the children eagerly began to talk about some of their traditions putting up Christmas tree, candles in the windows, making cookies as a snack for Santa or even leaving out carrots for his reindeer, lighting a menorah, and playing the dreidel game. The children were eager to share what was happening in their family.

 

In the book, Family First: Your Step By Step Plan For Creating a Phenomenal Family by Dr. Phil McGraw, he discusses the importance of creating family traditions with your children. These traditions bring your family together.

 

As you can see, we strongly believe in that sharing our holidays and traditions is what truly brings us all together and honors who we are. What a wonderful thing!

 

Wishing you all a peaceful holiday season!

Allergies Can Be Fatal. Is Your Day Care Prepared?

Sadly on November 3, 2017, a child with severe dairy allergies was given a grill cheese sandwich by a staff member in a New York preschool.  The three-year old went into anaphylactic shock and later died at the hospital.  For reasons unknown, no ambulance was ever called, however they did call the child’s mother and she brought her son to the hospital.   Read story here:

I can’t even imagine how this happened.  With the growing number of food and environmental allergies in children today, keeping them safe is the school’s number one priority.  The first step to doing that is to make identifying these children easier for everyone!  When there is a child with an allergy, we ask the parent’s to bring in an “enlarged” picture of their child with their allergies clearly written under their picture.  Then, we display these pictures in the classroom, usually where snack is prepared or on the cabinet where their Epipen is locked up.  By doing this, anyone that comes into the classroom (substitutes, floaters, volunteers or even a parent that wants to make the children a special treat) will be made aware.

Along with posting the child’s picture, each school will have a protocol of what to do in case of an emergency.  It’s baffling to me why this school didn’t follow any emergency plan once they realized the child was having an allergic reaction.  Depending how severe the allergy is, the school is always given a doctor’s order telling them what to do for the child.  Sometimes they are instructed to give the child an antihistamine such as Benadryl, or to immediately use the child’s Epi-pen.  Most schools train the staff so that they will know what to look for when a child is having an allergic reaction.  When they realized the child was in anaphylactic shock, they should have been in crisis mode.  The school had the sense to call the mother, but they failed this young boy by not calling 911!

By calling an ambulance first, the needed help would have been on it’s way.  When children are joining a new preschool, the parents are asked to fill out paperwork.  One of the questions on that form is, “In case of an emergency, which hospital do you want your child to be brought to?”  By having this information on file, when there is an emergency , 911  is always called first.  Once that is done, the parent is called to inform them of what has happened.  Depending on how far away the parent is, they can then decide if they want to come to the school or meet the ambulance at the hospital.

We had a child in our program that had a severe allergy to eggs, he couldn’t even touch an egg shell.  We took every precaution to inform the parents and staff verbally, as well as posting his picture with the information.  We often did cooking projects with the kids, but we were wondering if we should eliminate this activity while this child was in our class.  We decided to talk to the parents. The mother asked if there was any way her son could be included.  We said, “Of course, he could do any measuring, scooping or sifting of the ingredients, until the egg was added”.  They encouraged us to try a cooking project.  Her son loved helping to cook, and we took precautions to guide every child to wash their hands well after they were done helping with the project, so no trace of egg was left on their hands.  We always let the mother know a few days in advance when we would be doing any cooking with the children, so she would have time to pick up a dairy-free version for her son to enjoy.

Food allergies can be very scary.  When you are checking out a school , ask them what their protocol is in case of an emergency.  Along with this, ask if their staff is trained on how to spot allergic reactions and how to administer Epipen! While on the subject, find out if the staff is certified in first aid.

Being vigilant in this matter can mean the difference between life and death.

 

 

Should a Meal Really Suck?

O.K. guys, so I’ve been in this field a long time and have seen many changes through the years. Some are for the better and some not so much.

Well, one of the things I am not crazy about are the applesauce-type foods and yogurts that kids suck out of tubes or pouches. Yuck! First of all, isn’t it more civilized to have children use utensils to eat their food? They are sitting at a table while they eat snacks and lunch when they are in childcare. It’s not like they are on the run! It’s especially tricky for little ones who are under three. Some press too hard and the stuff goes flying all over them and the floor or they press too light and a teacher has to assist them in dispensing it correctly. All I think of when I watch them eat those things is it’s like the way the astronauts have to eat meals in space. We are on earth people! Let’s just eat the old fashioned way shall we!

The funny thing is, a teacher brought to my attention an article a mom wrote about these pouch foods. Because her child was saying it tasted funny, she discovered mold at the bottom! It brought to light that you cannot see what is at the bottom of these containers. Good point! Here is the link to the article if you want to check it out.

I hope this gives you all some food for thought. Should a meal suck? :>)

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