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“An indispensable manual for parents venturing into the unknown territory of day care.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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“Leaving one’s child in the care of another can be nerve-wracking, but the authors’ upbeat, long-term perspective will assist parents in valuing their providers and doing best by their offspring. For all libraries.”
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The Dear Daycare Parent Blog

Raising Independent Children

Raising Independent Children

I can’t tell you how many times parents would come into our classroom and comment on the controlled chaos in the room.  They would say to Jackie and me, “I don’t know how you do it.  You have 16 children in here, they aren’t arguing, and they are all busy.  What is your secret?”

We’d say, “There is no secret, we are constantly trying to create a classroom to encourage the children to use their independence and self-reliance skills which would help them now and prepare them for Kindergarten.”

Recently, I found an article that offers seven tips to help you raise independent children, these are the same ideas we incorporate in the classroom.  (Read the story here) 

I will point out how we use these guidelines with the children.  Hopefully you’ll want to try them at home.

  1. Keep to schedules and routines.

By having a set schedule or routine, the children know what to expect and can start to monitor their own time.  They will begin to make their choices of what they want to do.

Even though they’ve yet to begin to tell time, they seem to have an internal clock and know if they will have enough time to finish their project or activity.  Sometimes they will even ask in advance if they can save what they were working on to finish it later.

Having a routine is comforting for children because they know what to expect.  If you ask your child, most of them can tell you their school’s schedule.  For instance, they may say something like this, “First we have free play, then we have circle time, snack, outside time, circle time, art project, lunch. . .etc.

  1. As they get older, let them do particular activities alone.

We encourage the children to work alone on a task or on an activity of their choice.  Doing this, encourages children to make choices on their own, which builds their attention span and helps them to be more self-reliant.  Lastly, working alone, encourages your child to problem solve along the way.

  1. Encourage chores in the house.

Even in the classroom, the children are taught to do activities that benefit the whole classroom.  If they were using the dress-up clothes, they are encouraged to hang them back up, so the next child can use them.

While working in a group activity, such as block building, the children are expected to participate in the task of cleaning up.  By sharing in these everyday jobs, this teaches the children to be responsible for the things they were using.

  1. Employ the “if you want it, get it” rule.

When children are being creative in the classroom, they often have in their mind’s eye how they want the outcome to be.  Therefore, they will have an idea of what they need or how they can make it better.

While they are playing and creating, we let the children get and use anything they need to accomplish their task.  Sometimes, they will even ask if they can go borrow an item from another classroom.

This kind of thinking expands their resourcefulness, inspires problem-solving and lets the children know they can do things for themselves.

  1. Praise them for their accomplishments.

Praise goes a long way in a young child’s life.  When they are praised for all the little accomplishments they make, they build an “I can do it” attitude.  Then, they will want to do more and more things on their own.

  1. Let them experiment and learn.

In the classroom, we always encourage and cheer the children to accomplish a task on their own, rather than rescuing them and doing it for them; since that teaches them nothing.

At the beginning of the school year, the children discover all the dress-up clothes they have at their disposal for pretend play.  Often, they would ask us to dress them, instead of doing it for them, we guide them as they do it for themselves.

Tasks such as getting dressed for outside play, putting on their own shoes, opening their own lunch items like yogurt, applesauce and potato chips are all skill builders.  If a child is having difficulty opening a bag of potato chips, their frustration can be lessened simply by asking, “do you think scissors would help?”

Having the children do things for themselves may take time and patience, but the time spent is worth it in the end.

  1. Remind them they have choices.

The article said it best, “Rather than relying on you, give your kids chances to make their own decisions, even if it starts out as something small, like choosing what to put in their lunchbox.”

In our class, the children were encouraged to make several choices throughout their day, such as: what activities they want to do, who they wanted to play with, what did they want to build, did they want to participate in an art project or even who they wanted to sit next to in circle or at snack.  Making choices on their own gives them power.

The guidelines mentioned in the article are the same that are incorporate within our class.  These guidelines are used daily to encourage children to grow and become more self-reliant, before heading off to Kindergarten.

We hope you incorporate these tips in your home to build stronger and more independent children.

 

 

Why You Should Buy This Book!

A few weeks ago I had a very nice conversation with a mom about my book Dear Daycare Parent. While her child is older now, she said she really could have used a book like this when she first brought her little boy to preschool. She explained how on the first day at drop off her son just clung to her legs and being new to the situation she didn’t know what would be the right thing to do. Holding back tears she didn’t know if she should just make the break or stay. It was a very hard and emotional moment filled with confusion. This is one of the issues we address and explain in our book! And if you are not fortunate to have knowledgeable and attentive teachers, these suggestions can certainly help you turn a situation around.

You see, that is WHY this book was written! We could see the discomfort and stress so many parents were feeling in truly not knowing what would be the best course of action. Take note that YES this is a VERY big deal in you and your child’s life! The intention of this book is to make a better experience for you, your child, and the teachers. It helps to clear up some important topics. And I know there are some of you parents out there who leave thinking, “Oh the teachers must think I’m a bad mom or dad for doing what I did.” I know it because you have told me so. And to be honest after doing this for so many years and seeing so much, yes there are times when we say under our breath, “Really? What were they thinking?” LOL! Dear Daycare Parent helps to alleviate some of the misunderstandings and we share stories to further explain what we mean and why a tip is significant.

Jo and I wrote this book because we care and truly want to help out those parents new to the daycare environment. We offer you our many years of valuable experience. We know what works and what doesn’t. So if you or someone you know is thinking of putting their child in daycare, this is a must have. (It makes a great gift!)  We hope you will learn some things and enjoy our stories. It’s written in an easy to read and down to earth style. As if we were just standing there talking to you.

 

Dress for Success

Clorox bleach did an advertisement about a bleachable moment.  Every time I see this ad, I smile.  It reminds me of a tip that Jackie and I included in our book, Dear Daycare Parent: The Must Have Guide To Daycare For Working Parents.  The commercial is about a little boy who has to go to the bathroom; but he has a belt on that he can’t get off.  He’s getting desperate and finally hollers out, “Mom, we have a situation!”  (See the video here) https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7aVO/clorox-bleach-bleachable-moments-belt-buckle#

In our book, we have a tip titled, “Dress for Success”.  When children are in the process of toilet training, you need to be mindful of what you are dressing them in.  It is no secret that young children will wait until the last minute to go to the bathroom, or they will “do the dance” when they quickly realize that they have to go.  So, T-shirts that snap in the crotch, overalls, suspenders, belts, tights, or thermal under wear do not help children in becoming independent.  Young children want to be more self-sufficient, so when it comes to dressing your child, remember “easy on and easy off” is best!

 

There is one more important tip we would like to mention here about toilet training. It’s a pretty big milestone in a little one’s life and can take a lot of time and ah yes patience. It is best to start this process at home! A long weekend would be ideal. Sending your toddler in to school one day proclaiming, “Hey, he’s wearing underwear for the first time today…yahooo!”  This is not a good idea! They need a quieter time at home with one on one attention.  Think about how stressful it would be to try to learn this for the first time in an environment that is full of activity and lots of other children the same age. It’s a no win for both child and staff. Once your child has been introduced to this new expectation at home, THEN speak with the teachers about continuing it at school.

 

 

 

Secondary Drowning

Recently, I read an article about secondary drowning, I never knew there was such a thing.  Secondary Drowning is when someone inhales water, but the response can take up to 72 hours to affect the body.  There are up to 1000 children that die each year from this.  Please take the time to read this article and the symptoms that accompany secondary drowning.  (Read it here)

This reminds me of an incident that happened when I was a child.  When I was growing up, we had an above ground pool.  It was about 4 ½ feet deep, so my parents always kept the ladder up and locked unless they were out there with us.  I remember one year, the pool had just been filled, so the water was cold!  However, it was a very hot day, so my mom had promised us that we could go into the pool.  When she finally unlocked the ladder to the pool, my brothers quickly climbed the ladder and jumped right in, because they knew how to swim.  My sisters and I could not, so my mother put life jackets on each one of us.  We floated around in the pool with our mom, as my brothers swam and did cannon balls from the deck.  The water was so cold, I was shivering, but I didn’t want to get out of the water.  Soon it wasn’t a choice, our mother insisted, and brought us each to the ladder to climb out.  She took our life jackets off and reached for a towel to warm us up, only to learn that my brother’s cannon balls soaked the stack of towels.  My mom had us sit in the chairs on the deck and told my brothers that she was going to get some dry towels.

Soon, she was at the back door with a new stack of towels.  I decided to walk over to the ladder, so I could get a towel to get warm.  But, as soon as I took my first step, my foot slipped on the wet deck and I fell into the pool.  I remember seeing the look on my mother’s face as she watched me topple into the water.  She must have raced down those back steps and quickly up the pool ladder, because in an instance I could feel her arms around me, lifting me up and out of the water.  I was coughing and spitting up water and I could feel my mother slapping my back to help me expel the water; but I was okay.  Reading that article, helped me to realize how truly lucky I had been as a child.

Knowing that a lot of parents will be bringing their child to the beach or a pool, I felt this article had important information, so I wanted to pass it on to you.

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