We have finally come to the end of the series, the ABC's of Home Daycare. I hope you have enjoyed the read and have picked up a new idea or two. Here we go with letters U - Z.
U is for Understanding kid's needs. When you work with children it helps to have a good understanding of what their needs are. Familiarize yourself with developmental charts so you have an idea of what skills children are mastering. You can then present them with activities, toys and materials to help them acquire these skills without overwhelming them with something too hard or boring them with something too easy. This will go a long way in preventing unwanted behaviours.
When children do misbehave, we are told to ask ourselves if they might be tired, hungry or sick. I like to go a step beyond those three. I believe that children will also engage in behaviours to meet the need to master new skills. I believe this is why you might see a toddler step up, step down, step up, step down until they master stepping with ease. I believe we are programmed to do this.
- You can often use this knowledge to help overcome unwanted behaviours. When you have a child behaving in a way that is problematic, view the behaviour as an expression of some kind of need that the child is fulfilling. So, for example, when I had a child who insisted on peeling away the stickers on the toys and also a decorative wall paper border on my wall, I gave that child a tray that I had covered in bits of tape. That child was very content and focused on removing every bit of tape from the tray! Perhaps this child needed to develop his fine motor skills. That's a good thing! Just not when it destroys things, so the tape on a tray allowed him to practice his peeling, and my walls and toy stickers stayed intact!
Another child I had began to spit. I'm not going to argue or even outlaw spitting. Perhaps this child just had excessive saliva or was just learning how to co-ordinate or strengthen the muscles in their mouth. I don't know. I do know that spitting, in itself, is perfectly okay. Just do it in the toilet! Please and thank you! Whether the child quit because they didn't like the trips to the bathroom or they had sufficiently developed their muscles, I don't know. I do know that the spitting stopped after just a few trips to the bathroom.
- Kids are born with an energy pool that seems endless. This can be more of a problem in the winter when we spend more time indoors. Too much time cooped up inside is a recipe for disaster, especially for high energy kids. My jumping horse is a tool that allows my children to meet their need to release their physical energy before they use that energy to run in the house or play too aggressively. It is available to the children to use during the day. It is used by every child who has the ability to climb onto it every day.
Sometimes, children just need to be comforted. To be held and to feel secure, to feel loved and cared for. For that, I have myself and my rocking chair. The children know that they are welcome to sit on my lap anytime they need some attention. There are also times that I see a child begin to get wound up or over-stimulated. A time to sit and cuddle and just to relax a bit, will usually keep the peace. And this usually takes less than a minute! Less than a minute of my time to ward off the potential tantrum, squabble and tears is a great trade off. I'll take the cuddle!
V is for Vacation Time. Make sure you take some. I like to sit down in September and book my time for the following year. This gives parents lots of time to book their holidays or make arrangements. And it makes sure I take the time off, too. When I first started in this business, I took only the stat holidays off. Don't do that! Take your time off! If you want to last in this business, you need to take care of YOU. And your family needs some alone time with you, too.
W is for Wish List. You probably won't start out with every toy or supply that you would like to have. It has been my experience that it is relatively easy to gather the things you need over time. (And often, harder to let them go when you have accumulated too many!) Put the word out on things you would like to have and explain how having the item would benefit the children. Friends, family, neighbours and even your clients may surprise you with their generousity.
You can also check out sites like Craigslist for gently used items. Keep your eye open for discarded furniture that may be able to be repurposed into the pieces you need. I have found a beautiful wooden table that I had my husband cut down to size and then I refinished it with a fun kid look. At a paint supply store, my husband found me two wonderful stair-shaped cubby shelves for about $15 each. Another retail store was throwing out a tall carousel display that I salvaged to use for my books. To help get you thinking creatively, here's a pinterest board of daycare decorating ideas.
X is for eXtraordinary Blog Resources. I honestly don't know how I did without the internet. Well, I do, I had stacks of books and magazines to go through. But now, inspiration is just a click away. The most fabulous ideas can be found on these blogs:
Kid Blogger Network Activities
Y is for Yard. This is our favourite place to play. It gets a little neglected over the winter, but it is THE place to be come spring, summer and fall! Here's a look at the yard.
One of the great things about outdoor play is that there is no need to worry about the MESS! You can be as messy as you like and clean up is easy.
Check out this Messy Play Date by the Iowa Farmer's Wife. I have never seen so many different messy play ideas available all at once!
We like to play messy too, and here's a few of the ways we do it:
Schloppity Schlop and Muckity Muck
Z is for Zen. You won't have that every day. Some days will be stressful. But if you plan ahead, you can cope with these days. I like using music to turn a bad day around. Sometimes I will get the kids all dancing and in the course of a song, the tone of the day can change.
You might want to create a basket of resources to help cope with "one-of-those-days" like the Mommy Melt Down Basket found on Connecting Family and Seoul. I think I might have to make one myself. It will have to have some really, really good chocolate in it.
We've come to the end of the ABC's of Home Daycare. For even more great ideas on other topics, please check out these wonderful bloggers:
- Art History for Kids from B-Inspired Mama
- Cardboard Box Creations from Here Come The Girls
- Children's Music With Art from Rainbows within Reach
- Crafts and Art from Red Ted Art
- Crafting on a budget from Housing a Forest
- Creativity from Little Artists
- Paper Plates from Domestic Goddessque
- Toddler Crafts from Rainy Day Mum
- Upcycled and Recycled Crafts from Craft to Art
- Valentine Crafts and Recipes from Local Fun For Kids