Thank you for stopping by our blog page. Sit back, enjoy a cup of coffee or whatever you fancy and peruse our content. If you're a parent or a child care provider I hope you find knowledge in our content and inspiration to try something new.
As for me, my days may be busy but they are full. Full of smiles, hugs, laughs and typing….oh so much typing. Being an administrator of a licensed child care agency while also running a home child care business and did I mention going back to school…again... is not for the weak. It's a balancing act for sure but for me it's wonderful. I like to think I have ADHD mastered. This inability to sit still in one place, thinking of only one thought at a time is not for me. While I keep all the boring stuff organized I have an amazing team of women who make me successful. Let me tell you a little about them.
This ship would not stay afloat if it weren't for our RECE Home Visitor, Kim Rodger. Kim is a constant source of encouragement. She is ready and willing to go wherever I ask her, driving all over Hastings County to visit providers. Smiles are something she shares without hesitation and she brings a sense of calm with her wherever she goes (even when she seems frazzled lol). While her position is a ministry requirement the knowledge she shares is not. Many providers have commented how much they appreciate their monthly visits with Kim and how she treats them with respect while encouraging them to be their best. She also has the most adorable daughter whom I love to spend time with. Definitely a keeper and an asset to Little Lambs.
Little Lambs would be nothing at all if we didn't have dedicated home child care providers willing to partner with us. Some have been providing child care for more than 18 years and some have recently opened their homes. Whatever their level of experience they pour their hearts and souls into their "jobs". As an agency one of the ways I support these women is by organizing professional development opportunities. In June we partnered with Loyalist College for a full day of training. The topic for the day was "emergent curriculum and how to implement it's concepts in the home child care environment". However this day was so much more than "training". The women shared stories, tears and encouragement for each other (and me…not expected but very honoured). What I started by licensing as an agency has been made exponentially better by what these women bring. There is a true sense of community between the ladies. They often meet up with their daycare children for park visits. They share ideas and whatever's on a private facebook page. They have each other and that makes a whole world of difference. While as rewarding, fun, and all sorts of other adjectives that this job assimilates with it is also isolating. These ladies don't have co-workers to take over if they need a break or someone always there to chat with while working. The ability for them to create relationships with each other is lovely. This was an unexpected joy that came from licensing.
I cannot forget about our families. Big ones, small ones, silly ones and conservative ones. Families come in all shapes and sizes to which there is no mould or "norm". We love them and I'd like to think they love us. Day in and day out they place their most precious family members in our care. Their children become one of our own and add their own special wonder to our programs. Little Lambs started as my Private home child care business with only 5 child care spaces available each day. Now as an agency with many providers under our umbrella of care we offer 80+ child care spaces every day. Some even on weekends!
I have so many hopes for Little Lambs as we continue to grow and adapt to meet the needs of Hastings County. September marks the start of a new school year. For me it has always been the symbol of a fresh start, new goals, new opportunities and FALL (my favourite season). While the world around us changes from Lucious green to gorgeous hues of sunsets I can't help but contemplate these goals. They are simple really:
If you've made it this far (which I hope most have) I thank you. I am truly honoured to of been allowed into your lives. Whether as an agency owner, child care provider or friend I am always here.
Super exciting news came to us last week. The ministry of education supplied funding to Hastings County so that licensed home child care agencies can update equipment/toys to fit our emergent play based curriculum. This funding comes in the amount of $500 per licensed home. How incredible and vital to controlling parent daily fees!
Qualifying items are toys/equipment that are considered "open ended". This is a common term in the early years sector. We want to encourage Childrens creativity, support their independence and provide the opportunity to choose. Open ended toys allow us to do all of the above.
What sort of toys are open ended? Simply any toy/object that does not have a predetermined use or a "supposed to be use this way" objective. Examples include: blocks or all shapes and sizes, art supplies, play silks or large pieces of fabric, sand and water tables, natural items found in the Childrens environment and so much more.
On Tuesday August 7th I will be supplying our home child care providers with a Christmas list of sorts. It will be a list of qualifying toys and their costs. They will then get to make their wish list and these new items will be purchased. The children will be thrilled with the new toys. While they think they are having fun, we know they will be learning and growing thanks to this generous funding.
Have a wonderful, play filled day,
I picked up a new book recently because the title it's self grabbed me. It says everything we "Big People" worry about most. Are we damaging our children with our parenting?
Every parent worries if they are doing this whole "parenting thing" right. Am I being too strict? Am I not being too soft? Am I going to ruin my kid?…. No one is perfect but we all have the ability to grow and learn. We can learn from our experiences and be mindful of how we react to situations. That being said the Author Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, R.Psych warns that most-championed discipline methods not only don't work they are actually harmful to our children. She breaks discipline down from a science perspective and starts with an understanding of child development. How children's brains are actually forming and what we as "Big People" can do to support them.
Our need for discipline stems from our adult perspective that children will eventually need to function in the grown up world. We try to form our children into little minions who fit a perfect societal mould. "Unfortunately developmental science doesn't support this theory… Developmentally children are very different from big people. The frontal and prefrontal cortex in their brains are comparatively immature, and as a result, children have a lesser capacity for self-control". (Dr. V.Lapointe pg. 18-19). Children will eventually grow into adults and join this so called "grown up" world. We should not be using our ego's to sway our parenting choices. It is our own misconceptions of what a child should be that upsets us when they misbehave.
When our children misbehave we need to slow it down. Be mindful of our own feelings. Reacting with your first impulse in anger will generally lead to a parent-child power struggle. Taking a minute to connect your feelings to your environment and then connecting your child's feelings to their behaviour will help you to approach the situation with a much more level head. For example: you've gone out to dinner as a family. You've placed your food orders and your two children are busy colouring their kids menus. All of a sudden your daughter breaks her red crayon. She wants her little brother to give her his because "he isn't even using it". Of course he won't because "it's his". Sibling fighting commences. Restaurant patrons are staring at you. Your husband is looking like he's going to morph into "Hulk Dad" and take the kids right out of the restaurant!! what do you do? Well…every child is different so underlying personalities play a crucial role in understanding what to do. However I can give a few simple steps based on Dr. Venessa Lapointe's new book.
#1: respond with connection: allow your children to understand that you have their best intentions in mind.
#2: stay low: be calm and compassionate
#3: give an immediate simple direction of what needs to happen
#4: hold your ground but be kind
#5: give no explanations: you do not need to explain yourself to your child
#6: pick your battles (you don't always have to be right or control the situation)
#7: exit gracefully if you have picked the wrong battle. If you realize after taking your stand that "this really wasn't worth it" find a way to exit without making your child feel they "won".
#8: keep relationship the bottom line. Never do or say anything to damage the relationship you have built with your child.
#9: Once the incident is over debrief. Children just like big people have a fight or flight response. When this response is triggered the brain stops processing cognitive thoughts and is a reaction only state. Once all involved are in a calm state then go over the incident.
Discipline is a part of parenting. It is crucial for our children to have boundaries and have respect for their parents. However it is just as important that parents realize that their children are just being kids. That our societal views of the "poster" child are unfair. By respecting our children and providing discipline from a place of love and respect we are helping them along their developmental journey.
"Discipline without Damage" is a must read for parents. It simplifies the scientific studies of child development while explaining what discipline actually is. Today's current methods are focussed on making bad behaviours go away quickly. What Dr. Lapointe points out is that contemporary science understands that once Childrens physical needs have been met, "the most important influence on child development is that children feel they can count on their parent to take care of them emotionally. As part of this, the universal fear of all children is that their parent will abandon them-physically or emotionally. What does this tell us about how we should be disciplining our children?" (Dr. V.Lapointe, "Discipline without Damage".,pg.206)
A common item I am seeing on parent surveys is that they do not believe their children are being stimulated to grow in all areas of development (some surveys are marking 2 & 3 out of a possible 4). I think this is more a misconception of "how children learn" than "if they are learning".
Here is an example of an activity I did this week which engaged children in all areas: social, emotional, physical and language.
activity: a walk around our neighbourhood. The children were encouraged to look for things that interested them. They then took turns becoming a photographer and took pictures of these interests.
PHYSICAL: walking, running, skipping, stopping, jumping (kids don't actually "walk" while on a walk)
SOCIAL: taking turns, being the "leader", participating in an activity together
LANGUAGE: we explored the neighbourhood. While exploring and looking at our interests we talked about them.
EMOTIONAL: some had a harder time taking turns and sharing. We needed to connect their feelings to the situation and come up with a solution. Self control, coping skills, focus and patience.
we will further develop these skills as we continue our neighbourhood study next week. The images taken by our "photographers" will be printed and I will add descriptions/"quotes" from the children's words. from there who knows where the children will take this learning journey.
1. one entry per household
2. Must be a current or prior client of Little Lambs
3. All questions must be answered
Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog page. As the weather turns warmer we at Little Lambs have been spending a lot more time outside. In Madoc, Stirling, Trenton, Frankford and Belleville our providers have been visiting parks, going on nature walks, visiting community centres, creating memories in their own backyards and so much more.
Mental wellbeing is not just a topic for adults. Children can suffer from "winter blues" also. Our outside time is limited during our cold/dark Canadian winters. This wanes on everyone. The days are now longer and being outside more just makes everyone feel better. After a long winter bundling children in snow suits it's nice to send them out the door with some sunscreen and a hat. Moods are higher, naps are easier and tummies are hungrier.
I thought now would be a perfect time to write a post to inspire creative outdoor play. Images sourced from Pinterest.
Inspiring Outdoor Play Spaces
Loose Parts Inspiration and Art Activities
Water Play Inspiration
Thank you for stopping by. If you have ideas to share we'd love to read them. Leave us a comment with your favourite outdoor activities.
One of Little Lambs founding principles is to "always keep learning". The child care sector and early learning environment are constantly evolving. Staying current with techniques, curriculum approaches and development knowledge is critical. Our licensed providers will be taking advantage of this closed training day to better themselves and improve their home child care programs.
If you are a parent seeking child care in Hastings County we'd love to hear from you. We have spaces available in Stirling, Madoc and Belleville (Frankford and Trenton programs are currently full).
If you are an independent provider who would be interested in joining us for upcoming professional development opportunities we'd love to hear from you. We encourage community practice and bettering the care in Hastings County. So…even if you never want to license with us we'd still like to help you grow your knowledge.
visit our "contact" page and send us a message.
Kristina Schwartz, Owner/Director Little Lambs Home Daycare
I am the creator of this amazing business and I am filled with hope and aspirations for a childcare program that far exceeds expectations.