Sending ill children to school or daycare has never been welcome. However, now more than ever, we need to be mindful, respectful, and diligent concerning illness protocols.
Currently, the threshold for public health requesting testing is very low. Suppose someone presents with something as simple as a fever; the individual may be required to either visit a testing centre or self-isolate for 14 days. Parents/guardians and caregivers are required to call the COVID-19 information line at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803 to report symptoms and receive "next steps." If requested to receive COVID screening, parents/guardians are to call the COVID Assessment Centre at 613-961-5544 to book an appointment.
Our child care providers will continue to complete daily active screening for themselves and everyone residing at their home. Suppose someone in their home presents with symptoms. In that case, they may be required to close their program temporarily. Until either: symptoms resolve for a period no less than 24 hours, a negative COVID result is received, or 14 days self-isolation has presented no new or worsening symptoms, and Public health has granted reopening.
Billing policies are being amended to best support families and our child care providers. This is a difficult time and we're hopeful everyone remains kind and respectful.
Our childcare providers will continue to complete daily active screening for all children entering their home child care premises. Any signs of ill health or a "yes" answer to any daily active screening question will result in care not being offered that day. Parents/guardians will be requested to call the COVID information line listed above.
There are a few instances where a "yes" answer will allow a child to access care. For example:
Again, we are defering entirely to public health at this time.
Public Health Ontario
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
Back to School Planning: Guidance for Parents, Guardians and Caregivers
A quick note on thermometers...
We have been completing electronic daily active screening in all of our programs with our child care families. Parents are requested to take temperatures at home, sending their provider a photo of the temperature and the answers to the screening questions.
Taking temperatures ensures no one comes to care with a fever. However, if temperatures are not taken accurately, they are not supporting this effort. Daycares will continue to monitor temperature as part of our daily active screening. We cannot speak to protocols being followed by Elementary and High schools.
Not all thermometers are created equal. Anyone with questions related to types of thermometers and how to accurately take a temperature are reminded that local pharmacists are a great resource. Additionally this link provides some great information about the different types of thermometers and this link provides a great "how to" of each type.
There are soo many unknowns right now. With children returning to school, potential rates of exposure and risk factors only increase. Add in the impending cold and flu season, and the stress level skyrockets.
We're all going through this together. Our childcare providers are concerned about how this could potentially affect their income, and our clients are worried about not having child care if we're forced to temporarily close OR having to call into work because their child is ill/presenting symptoms.
This is hard. It's hard for everyone. Let's continue to be respectful, mindful, and supportive. Eventually, restrictions will be lessened; we just have to get through the next couple of days/weeks/months.
Thank you for reading :)
parents/guardians and providers are reminded that our phone is always on. Don't hesitate to call us.
Dear families and providers,
The most recent announcement does not come as a surprise, as we know, our provincial leaders are following the best medical advice available at this time. As a community, we need to continue social distancing.
Currently, seven of our home child care programs are open and operating for the sole purpose of emergency care. The provincial government is funding this care, and as such, there are specific policies and protocols in place. Families are required to apply for emergency care through Hastings County. Placements are offered based on employment priority and availability.
At this time, all of our Emergency Child Care spaces have billed filled. Hastings County is compiling a waitlist in case another provider chooses to open their program or a space becomes otherwise available. To access the emergency child care application/survey, click here. If you have questions concerning your application or your place on the waitlist, it is recommended you call the Child Care Services intake line @ 613-771-9630 or 1-866-414-0300.
Working directly with our local health authorities, we have created and implemented policies to mitigate risks associated with providing child care during this time. Policies including:
It has been roughly two months since our worlds turned upside down. There is incredible uncertainty surrounding when the economy will reopen. As an agency, we are thankful for the opportunity, although it's a little frightening, to offer emergency care to frontline workers.
To our families, child care providers and community members, "stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the extra family time if you're able."
The Little Lambs Team
As many of you know, Little Lambs started as my private home daycare business in 2012.
Opening my home to my community was a natural progression towards my life goals.
#1. I wanted to raise my children and spend as much time with them during their early years.
#2. I genuinely like people and enjoy meeting new families in my community.
#3. Children are my favorite people on this planet. I find them hilarious, sincere, intelligent, capable, wonderous, full of light and imagination, entertaining, enjoyable, hopeful, honest, caring, and so much more!
#4. I want to spend my days doing something that truly matters.
Fast forward to 2020, and my life goals are strikingly similar but with a "Pivot." Instead of running and operating my home daycare business, I am running and operating a home daycare agency. Instead of serving five families in my close community, my agency has served over 200 families all over Hastings County. Through strong partnerships with many amazing women, my days are spent doing something that truly matters.
Then BAM, like a terrible documentary COVID-19, crosses the ocean and impacts our communities. One week we're thinking, "that sucks for those people," and the next week, we're saying, "sorry we're closed." On March 17th, at the direction of our local health unit, we chose to close for what we thought would be a couple of weeks to do our part to "flatten the curve."
There's a problem that happens when daycare centres and home child care agencies close... Our frontline and essential service workers are left without child care. At a time when everyone is scared, confused, and concerned, our medical professionals and essential service workers do not quit. They go to work because they have to, and I am thankful that they do. So, when Hastings County sent out an email to their service providers (daycare centres and agencies) enquiring if we are willing and able to provide "Emergency Care," we didn't hesitate. Little Lambs raised our hand to support those who need our help.
So far, 25 children have been placed for Emergency Care. All of these families are persons who are working directly on the front lines: nurses, paramedics, PSW's, nursing home staff, and community helpers.
Reopening for Emergency Care has been different. New policies are in place to mitigate risk and keep everyone as safe as possible. Unfortunately, many of our home child care providers have remained closed. Everyone has a different level of risk within their homes. We stand behind each provider's right to choose what is best for their families. For those who decided to reopen, we are forever grateful. Together we are facing the current uncertainty and trying our best to do our part.
COVID-19 will not last forever. Hopefully, one day soon, we can welcome back our entire Little Lambs team. We can reopen our doors to our child care clients and wish our "emergency clients" all the best as they return to their regular child care centres and programs. Until then, my life goals will remain the same.
#1. my family
#2. build community
#3. appreciate the wonders of childhood
#4. make a difference
I hope that you are staying safe and healthy. Most importantly, I hope you are seeing the positives in such a dark time. Your children will not remember the facts of this pandemic but they will remember how it felt. Help them to feel secure and loved.
We are committed to supporting families in our community through this pandemic. Please know that you are not alone. Little Lambs has an active Facebook and Instagram account and we have been busy adding links, resources and ideas to keep our providers and families busy.
It is our hope that we will reopen our doors effective April 6th. However with increased safety protocols there will be quite a few changes. Currently we are working on a new page of our website that will discuss " all things COVID-19". There is also a very good chance that some of our providers may choose to remain closed. Each home has different risk levels and reopening is the providers choice.
A few key points to be addressed on our new COVID-19 page:
-ratios (these are likely to change within our agency to continue supporting social distancing)
-who will qualify to return to daycare
-drop off and pick up routines/protocols
-sanitary polocies to be followed at each home child care premises
-meal time protocols
-types of play (eg. no group sensory play...)
-types of resources (toys/minipulatives/books etc) available
-links to social services
-anything else we feel important to our children's and providers safety
Watch our social media feeds for updates!
Wishing you and yours health and safety,
The Little Lambs Team xoxo
We all want: fewer temper tantrums, kinder interactions and, more meaningful relationships
September was a full month geared towards how parents and educators can support children on their emotional and social development journey. To wrap things up here is a fantastic video from "Hapa Family: Montessori at Home." This video discusses practical ways to incorporate positive discipline in your home or child care program. She uses accessible language to explain the theory behind why children respond better to positive discipline and WHY it actually works.
~watch beginning to end~
"positive discipline is not about permissiveness, it is not about letting your child do whatever they want. It's about setting kind, firm limits and sticking to them in a gentle way that teaches your child"
Thank you for stopping by our blog. If this is your first time visiting I hope you enjoy our personal views for the early years. Our topics and ideas are based on years of home childcare experience mixed with a balance of theory and new ideas from around the world.
Today we're discussing how we as educators and parents can support children on their social development journey. We all know children who are born extroverts. They exude confidence and appear comfortable in any situation. In direct opposition, the introverted children in our lives do not appear confident in social situations. Often they pull away from peers and play independently.
Home childcare programs. early-years classrooms, playdates at the park, and even individual home environments will have a mix of multiple personalities. Each child is an individual, and their individuality is to be respected. We are not "fixing" their deficits; instead, we are encouraging respectful and appropriate inclusiveness.
I love a good child development theory. To start our discussion on supporting social development, it's only fair we go straight to Eric Erikson. Let's have a look at Erikson's first three stages.
The common theme between the three stages is Relationships. Before children can build positive and reciprocal peer relationships, they need to build strong relationships with the core adults whom they interact with daily. These include but are not limited to parents, guardians, core educators, and caregivers. The importance of early relationships is a big reason why I love Home Child Care as much as I do. Home Daycare by it's very formation is one educator who cares for the child from infancy to school age. Whereas in a daycare centre the child is transitioned to a new room, new educator, possibly a whole new group of peers as they enter each new age group. There are a few daycares who follow the Reggio Emilia approach and keep the same educator with the same group of children as they grow from infancy to school age. Again the core value that early relationships are crucial to life long success is paramount.
So how does this knowledge guide us to support children's social development?
Another practical step we can take to support social development is to intentionally plan activities and "invitations to play" that promote social interaction.
Learning in the early years is fundamentally a social experience. As children learn about themselves and others, they strengthen their emotional intelligence, their ability to construct plans, and attend to what's important. They do all this based on the values and practices their core adults provide through daily activities. Thoughtfully planned "curriculum" supports children to develop these skills through potential social interactions with their peers and adults.
These "5 Great Curriculum Starters" listed are just that, STARTERS. When planning daily activities, reflective practices are paramount. The use of different centres and manipulative's within a childcare environment are what create opportunities for meaningful play. Not listed in the infographic are imaginative play centers. These include dress-up, kitchens, tool benches, cleaning supplies, animal care kits, and more.
ELECT (Early Learning For Every Child Today) is a valuable resource used by early childhood educators and childcare providers. This document outlines developmental domains and lists indicators of skills for each age group. As a next step, I encourage you to review social and emotional development for each age group. Linking "indicators of skills" to your specific curriculum can support how you view the children in your care. Hopefully, by observing and reflecting on "what's developmentally normal," you are better able to scaffold the children's learning.
Clinton J., (n.d). The power of positive adult child relationships: connection is the key. Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/clinton.pdf
Joseph, G. & Strain, P. S. (2004). Building positive relationships with young children.Young Exceptional Children, 7(4), 21-29.
Ontario Ministry of Education (2007). Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario’s Early Childhood Settings. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/ oelf/continuum/continuum.pdf
Ostrosky, M. M. & Jung, E. Y. (2010). What Works Briefs: Building Positive Teacher-Child Relationships. Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Retrieved from http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/briefs/wwb12.pdf
Join me for a walk down memory lane. At the edge of the garden, I stand patiently as my Grandma Joyce ties a fruit basket with an old piece of rope around my waist. Once my handy basket is secure, I grab two plastic berry quarts and put them in the basket. In front of me are rows, upon rows raspberries. Now, these are not just any raspberries. These are blue raspberries. The biggest and sweetest raspberries you ever could eat! I'm not alone in my berry picking. With me is my brother Chris, my cousin Jessica, my other cousin Daniel, my aunt Valerie, my mom, and my Grandma. Sometimes neighbours came too but not today. My Grandpa is over checking out the other plants in the garden (likely squishing potato bugs…that's a memory for another time lol). Picking berries was a family event/contest. The girls: my cousin and I against the boys: Chris and Daniel. Clearly, the girls were the better pickers (haha sorry not sorry). We picked more quarts while not leaving precious berries behind on the bushes.
Looking back on this memory, one of my favorite parts concerns not with the berries we picked but with the way my Grandma Joyce just "was." She praised us for our work (which she trusted us to do), encouraged us to laugh, brought us together, and loved us with everything she could. This memory cost $0, yet it is one of my strongest childhood memories.
One of my "learning" environments growing up was my Grandma's garden. The knowledge provided just by letting me tag along, giving me chores, and actively communicating her know-how had a massive impact on my life. As early childhood educators, we owe it to the children in our care to take them back to nature. Nature is more than just walking through a forest, or exploring a meadow. It's more than gardening or picking flowers. Nature teaches us about life and death, cause and effect, senses, respect, and most importantly, it supports positive emotional and physical well-being.
How can we incorporate nature into our learning environments?
A great first step is to incorporate gardening into your sensory play. Allowing children to:
What about indoor plants (houseplants)
We live in Canada… so our outdoor gardening season isn't very long. What can we do for the rest of the year? Having plants around our play spaces and throughout our homes allows children to feel connected to nature even when it's snowy outside. The benefits of houseplants transcend beyond just the child. They are crucial to our own feelings of well-being.
Houseplants have incredible benefits beyond just being nice to look at. These include:
I encourage having poisonous plants in your home and play space. Just be smart about it. The Peace Lily for example is the #1 best air purifying plant. It has striking green leaves and a super neat flower during it's bloom season. Nevertheless the Peace Lilly is considered poisonous (if consumed). This is a plant to put out of reach. The same way we put covers over electrical outlets vs. not having any electrical outlets. Having plants that are dangerous if eaten opens the door for multiple communication and teaching moments.
If however you can only have "safe" plants in your environment here's a short list I hope you find useful:
Positive Health Wellness,.(Sept.27/2018). 7 Science-backed benefits of having plants at home. sourced from: https://www.ecowatch.com/health-benefits-of-having-plants-at-home-2608386260.html
D.Murray,. (March 16/2018). 20 Plants that are safe for children, cats and dogs. sourced from: https://www.hgtv.ca/green-living/photos/plants-child-pet-safe-1913786/#
I have been trying lately to align what my core foundational theories are. When looking at current research concerning early childhood development, the top three approaches are #1. Reggio #2. Montessori #3. Emergent Curriculum. All of these approaches to building learning environments and teaching practices are quite similar. They all appreciate the need to build strong relationships in the early years. They all prefer more natural play materials, and finally, they all see the child as capable and competent.
Home childcare providers within Little Lambs are encouraged if not required to follow the above practices. HOWEVER intrinsically there is just something else happening in the home childcare environment. Something that the listed approaches don't cover. I haven't been able to put my finger on what that "thing" was until recently. While looking through my Spotify app, I found a new early years podcast (well…new to me). Kimberly @KSEYconsultancy founded the podcast titled "Hygge in the Early Years."
I'm hooked! Honestly, Kimberly is a breath of fresh air. AND her accent/tone makes her sound like one of the sweetest people on the planet. Kimberly's podcast is as much about early childhood learning and environments as it is about educators and their self-care and well-being. The foundation she has built for her early year's programs and her mentorship is based on a single word, "Hygge."
"Hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special." (S. Bennett, The Curiosity Approach).
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my blankets. I sit curled up on the couch, mug in hand with my Hubby every single night. Guess what??? That's Hygge! Think twinkly lights, candles, the roar of a fire. Think warm drinks, blankets, and nurturing food. Think about being out in nature, enjoying all the seasons to the fullest: in as many ways possible. Think spending money on memories vs. things. Think relationships, socializing, laughter, and self-care.
Hygge sounds like my life! It looks like what I believe home childcare can and should be. Going beyond the concept of environment and relationships, Hygge gives a term to how children feel while at the home childcare premises. It's truly a sense of well-being. The depth of relationships is vast in the Home Child Care Environment. Children from infancy to school age are cared for by a single childcare provider. During this time, they build strong relationships with the other daycare children as well as the providers own children. Often children will wave good-bye in the morning and greet the provider's partner again at the end of the day. These tertiary relationships are not something that happens in the daycare centre environment.
Over and over again, I have preached "non-institutionalized" environments in the early years. Homes are by their very essence "non-institutional." Even the most beautiful classrooms are still that…classrooms. Children will be in traditional education from Kindergarten through to High School and post-secondary education. Through our partnership with home childcare providers, we create incredible learning environments that support the development of responsive relationships that allow children to explore, grow, and learn. We do all of this while providing a cozy home environment.
So when searching for
I found Hygge!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed typing away under the comfort of my blanket ;)
S.Bennett (N.d)-Hygge in The Early Years,. sourced from: https://www.thecuriosityapproach.com/blog/hygge-in-the-early-years
K.Smith (n.d)- Hygge in the Early Years., sourced from: https://www.facebook.com/pg/KSEYconsultancy/about/?ref=page_internal
Early Years at Home
When we refer to home we refer to a feeling of welcome, family, comfort and belonging. Licensed home child care offers the feeling of "home" with the benefits of early years pedagogy.