To Infinity and beyond… Child Care Fun

Ava

Ava

I couldn’t imagine a happier profession than mine.

As a child day care provider, I get to play with kids everyday. Ideas are my passion and kids have the BEST ideas!

Yesterday, two of my 4-year-old friends and I had a lovely discussion.
My first question was, “How might I get to the moon?”

Jasen: “You would need super shoes to jump up there.”

Me: “Where might I get those super shoes?”

Jasen: “At Super Walmart, of course.”

We discussed the moon further and decided that we would need a gravity suit and air tanks and a Super Parachute (available, also, at Super Walmart).

Me: “There’s too much to jump with. How might we get our supplies up there?”

Jasen: “We’ll need a truck!”

Me: “There’s no road to the moon. How about a rocket ship?”

Jasen:”Where do we buy a rocket ship?”

Me: “Scientists have them at NASA.”

With that problem solved, I moved on.

Me:”How do farmers plant seeds in their fields?”

Ava and Jasen: “They dig a hole with a shovel and drop in the seeds.”

Me: “That would take too long for a farmer to plant 500 seeds. How do farmers plant so many seeds in good time?”

Ava: “They ask 500 friends to come over and dig a hole.”

Me: :”That’s a great way to save time! Good idea. But, the farmer would need 500 shovels, wouldn’t he? I don’t think he can get that many at Super Walmart. It would cost a lot and the inventory(I explained what inventory meant.) isn’t that large!”

So, I introduced and  talked about tractors and planters and plows.

Me:” Now, how will the farmer water her seeds?” … Notice the gender change 😉

Jasen:” She can get a hose.”

“Me: “I don’t think that there are hoses long enough for big fields.”

Ava: “I know! It will rain sometimes.”

Me:” Super Ava! That is what the farmers hope for. On a rainy day, remember that the farmers are happy.”

Jasen: “What if there are puddles?”

Me: “You are right, Jasen! Sometimes, there is too much rain and the farmers hope for the sun to come out to dry up those fields. Last Spring, my uncle and cousin, couldn’t drive their tractors on the muddy ground. They were very worried. Boy, farmers really need to count on the weather, don’t they?”

Our conversation progressed through the steps that produce takes to reach their dinner table. During the discussion, we realized the need for refrigerator trucks too.
We had one great afternoon!

What fun it is to be an early childhood educator! I get to witness that wide-eyed wonder every single day along with many opportunities for chuckles. 😉

Today? Well, we’ll see what comes up. It’s going to be fun!

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Copycat!!!!

Sometimes as a child care provider, I feel more like a referee than an educator. The most frequent complaint from kids is,”They are copying me!”. Seems that every single child, at one time or another, has that complaint.

In my opinion, the old kid game of repeating every spoken word another kid says in order to irritate them is the only example of copying that requires a complaint. Ever wonder what makes the young (sometimes old ) human being feel it has to be original? I do.

We all remember hearing from our parents and telling our kids, “copying is a form of flattery.”. The indignancy of being copied is still prevalent in the immature mind, in spite of that wisdom. Certainly being original is great. Without valuing originality, where would innovation and invention be?

We don’t want to have kids become sheep, but this morning’s example of the copycat complaint speaks to something that I find baffling.

Child A and Child B interrupt my bathroom visit (as usual) both claiming an urgency to use the facilities. Child A is extremely agitated by the fact that Child B is copying her request to use the bathroom. Child B is new to toileting and once she decides to go, there is a finite amount of time for success. Child B’s request to use the bathroom may well have started as a copycat behavior but it is obvious that the need has become real. I place Child B on the toilet while Child A screams the indignity of being copied and not getting first use.

Some kids have a greater sensitivity to the “copycat offense”. Amusingly, those same kids are the ones who do the greater amount of “copycatting” and serves as one fine example of the art of projection. “I do it, so you must also be doing it.” Liars think everyone is lying, thieves are quicker to think a lost item has been stolen…and so on. This isn’t always true and should not be accepted as a unanimous fact but sometimes it really shows where a person’s head is.

The view of innate emotions that I get from watching kids, is fascinating. I think we can learn so much from kids. Their innocence is refreshing and even their, less than stunning moments, give us so much to consider.

One prime example of a great idea that backfired: I convinced my daughter (when she was about 7) that trying to be first in my day care line-ups was boring. (I was only attempting to ease the “I’m first!” bickering.) So, she started asking to be last. Well, before long, everyone wanted to be last…Lining up is impossible without someone going first!!! I’m sure there is a wonderful lesson in that debacle. HA!!! 🙂

Bunk and Positive Reinforcement: I need a vacation!

It’s two days before my summer vacation. I’ve been doing child day care since 1975 and my 56-year-old self is tattered and tired. The release of kids from school has added a new dynamic to my daily schedule. Big and little kids are battling for their place in the group. I’d like to say that I have everything under control and all’s well. It’s not.

My first instinct is to devise a chart for my current charges to accumulate “stars” upon. You know, those same charts that parents use for positive reinforcement. They would earn stars for “good” behavior. Accumulating a predetermined amount would allow the little cherubs to turn them in for prizes. BUNK! This whole philosophy seems wrong.

What is the overall complaint about our modern society? No one seems to fear nor anticipate consequences for their bad behavior. Kids are not exempt from this. All this happy, Barney the Dinosaur, atmosphere makes me ill. I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me until I considered a chart system that I believe may have better results.

The positive reinforcement Star Chart system is flawed when you consider that the whole premise is based upon the kids being considered already “naughty”. The kids have to work their way UP.  That seems as though our expectations are low for them from the “get go”. I’d rather assume they are good and “nip” the bad behavior when it happens.

My system, which I will implement right after vacation, will expect the kids to know their manners and will reduce their “stars” upon each and every infraction. They will START with 10 stars. Screeching and bickering (for example) will result in an automatic loss of a star. The consequence will therefore happen in that moment. Stars can be earned for kind and mannerly behavior of an exceptional nature too. At the end of the week, those who have a 7 star, or better, average will receive a prize. The kids, who have been schooled with the first star chart, adopt an, “I’ll just make it up later.” attitude or “It’s only Monday. Why worry?”

When you consider the way a mother wolf teaches her pups, my chart is more natural. The wolf mother reprimands her young immediately. This lesson lasts longer. We can learn so very much from animal parents.

My method will be using punishment that is immediate. Yes, punishment. Our society has attached such a bad “taste” to the word or if you’d rather, consequences. I think my method may have good results.

Ever ask yourself how folks without jobs afford tattoos, cell phones and jewelry? I suspect it is because the “check” is in the mail and therefore their “star chart” remains perpetually full.

On one more note, I wonder sometimes when I stopped being an authority figure and became a waitress. Seems the kids play happily until they find me idle then demands for snack time etc. start. I know I’ve created this environment. Heck, their parents love happy, indulged, little people at day’s end. My livelihood is based upon the happy parent. I’m too old to tread lightly and submissively any more. If the kids go home and complain about my rules…so be it.

Vacation time is beckoning, don’t you think? 🙂

What’s the BIG DEAL?

The Big Deal (TV channel)

The Big Deal (TV channel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kids are, by nature, defiant. Check.

Kids will, one day, find out you are not able to supervise them every minute. Check.

Kids, especially preschoolers, function primarily on reverse psychology. Check.

These are universal truths that I am proclaiming, (and believe), in order to continue this train of thought.

It is a wonderful event when a parent embraces their role. I say,”Lucky kids.”

So what’s the BIG deal? Parents who make a BIG deal over little things.

  • Mom at bank counter raising her eyebrows and voice over the offering of a sugary treat to her child.
  • Dad becoming visibly shocked when baby daughter disrobes in front of boys.
  • A parent’s agony over the third word added to their child’s vocabulary. ( The word is “NO!” soon to be replaced by “why?”.)

Making a BIG deal over small, innocent events make them BIG deals. Big deals play badly with defiant, devious persons who specialize in rebellion. The knowledge that these things bother their parents gives little kids magnificent power. The BIG DEAL making improves the odds that kids will remember and use them again.

Case #567

I have a day care parent who wisely supervises her 5-year-old child’s TV viewing. The parent does not want her daughter concerned with the dating and teenage antics on Teen Nick programs. Again, great parenting philosophy that I agree with!

This parent has scoffed and sputtered about the subject in front of the 5-year-old on a regular basis. That 5-year-old is the only kid who changes my TV channel specifically to Teen Nick. Even the older kids, in my charge, ignore that the programming even exists. I rest my case…

In summary, being a diligent parent of young children, does not require the “making a Big Deal” attitude. In fact, you may be undermining your own goals.

BTW- Parents will have plenty of BIG DEAL opportunities when their kids become teenagers.

Kid Terms Explained by an Expert

  • flosstration– when the floss you’re using gets stuck between your teeth.
  • accountabilly– when Billy gets into trouble.
  • pointment at the doctor’s”-there will be shots involved.
  • “mom’s running late”- she’d get here faster if her car would start.
  • “I dind dent do it.”-oh yeah, they dind.
  • “I’m free years old.”- any takers? Mom’s okay with it.
  • “on porpoise” – must live near an aquarium.
  • “Pretty peas?”-never intended as a request for more vegetables.
  • after later-way more than later!
  • “Happened the udder day“- if you live on a farm, that’s everyday.
  • MINE!-everything, except coal ,belongs to me.
  • “I’m firsty.“-Offer them a drink and ask them,”Who wants to be secondy, any way?”
  • “I’ll do it in-a-minute“- Do it yourself. (When Mom says it, it means find some thing else to do.)

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Lawsuits VS Education

I have always loved science. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was a Geology set. I felt like a pro with my official rock hammer and samples that I could touch.

My interest peaked before my options did. There were no geology units, in elementary school, that delved deeply enough for me. How I wish that we had a Discovery Channel then.

Kids are offered many samples of information with TV and the internet. It is exciting to think their blooming interests will have “vines” to grow on. Alert teachers and caregivers have avenues, to offer their prodigies, that were not available in my day. Kids are not getting smarter, their choices are better.

I am a big proponent of the Montessori method in education. Reading, writing and ‘rithmatic can be taught in combination with any interest. It is the interest that must guide the learning not the other way around.

That said, the key in our schools, revolves around small class sizes. In a perfect world, I’d like to see no more than 12 kids in one class.(Ideally, 8) The primary teacher must have an assistant too. Then,and only then, the kids would be able to explore and learn to their own “tune”.  The teacher would have a better handle on classroom discipline and a familiar feeling for what makes each student “tick”.

Alas, theory is much easier than application. Home schooling is a very good alternative but unaffordable to most.

The Boy and Girl Scouts, as well as, 4H organizations are very helpful to our future scientists. If not for liability issues, I’m sure communities would offer playground camps in the summer. Individual citizens would be more inclined to offer instruction too. There are Beekeeping clubs, gardening groups, bird-watchers etc. who could share their knowledge and excitement for specializing.

This rant is just that, a rant of frustration. The US is not capitalizing on our young peoples’ interests at the peril of our future. Liability and lawsuits are ruining us. I don’t know how to fix it. I’d like to see big penalties for bogus lawsuits. BIG PENALTIES. I’d like our kids to play together without hearing,”I’ll sue you!” on the Kindergarten playground.

Those who really have grounds for lawsuits are equally injured in the environment of  “easy money”.

I started this post with happiness and hope. Where it lead me was beyond my first consideration. I think I’ve stumbled upon our real crisis…anyone got ideas how to resolve it?

(Rounding up unethical lawyers and putting them together on a remote  island just may be a good start. Ha!)