Don’t Chase Teachers

Don't Chase TeachersVery often parents become way too attached to a teacher in a preschool. That is the individual who is taking care of your child while you are gone, so it is quite understandable.

Parents do not like seeing turnover in a childcare center. They want a consistent environment for their child with as little change as possible. Everyone who owns and runs a childcare center is very aware of this fact. It is one of the worst things for a center when a parent or guardian loses a teacher that they and their child are extremely fond of and trust. Although parents do not like seeing turnover, you as a parent need to evaluate what caused the departure of that teacher.

I recommend that every parent make sure they build a strong relationship with the owner of the center they are using. In many centers the owner is there all the time. If an owner is not reachable, local or a full-time operator, I would suggest not using that center. Owners may have multiple facilities, but if they are full-time operators and actively involved, it should not be hard to see them on a regular basis. Usually such owners designate certain days to be at particular centers.

A childcare center is an important extension of your family. They must understand and exude the values you want instilled in your child. Your child spends many of his or her most impressionable moments in this environment. If the owner of the center you are using, or interested in using, is not the type of individual you would want to hire to baby sit your precious child, or if the owner does not share the core values and fundamental beliefs you have when it comes to the raising of your child, FIND A CENTER THAT DOES. I cannot stress that enough.

The owner of your chosen center and his/her personal assistant are the ones with whom you should be bonding and sharing your concerns, hopes and dreams for your child. Like all companies, the organization will reflect the attitude, traditions, beliefs and values of its owner.

So how does this all play into “don’t chase teachers”? A good center which runs a strict program with its employees does so for the safety and betterment of your child. You may have a teacher you and your child love, but if the owner and the director find that the teacher has done something that could compromise the safety of a child, the next time you walk into the center your favorite teacher may be gone.

It’s a tough line a center owner and director must walk. While they are very aware parents dislike losing a teacher to which they are attracted, if they are on top of things, running a tight ship and monitoring the rooms at all times, a teacher must be expendable for the betterment of the child. A center’s #1 goal should be the protection and safety of your child. You need to trust your owner and center completely!

Some centers should remove a teacher and don’t because they fear the repercussions of angering parents and potentially losing customers. They figure they are better off managing the problem that during the day you will never get to see, than removing the teacher and upsetting a full class room of parents. If this should occur, they are not doing what is right for the children and doing what is right for the children should be driving every decision made within a center. Teachers will always come and go… directors with out-of-town owners will always come and go.

However, local onsite owners and their personal directors and assistant directors, even in the case of multiple facility ownership, will almost always have their heart and soul on the line. They most likely did not get into this field for the money. So when seeing or hearing or asking about turnover, take into account it could reflect a good center and does not necessarily have negative connotations. While you do not want to see a great deal of turnover in a center, it could be a good thing if it is because they are running a tight ship, monitoring the staff and watching the children more intensely than the center down the road with less turnover.

Don’t follow the teachers; they move around. They just might not like following the strict rules that are in place in your center to protect your child. Find an owner you can trust and with whom you can build a relationship, and you will be able to tell if it’s a happy center.

Watch the kids, if they are happy you can’t go wrong!

BITING-OUCH!

Children That BiteChildren biting is a very complex behavior and extremely difficult to figure out. If you are enrolling your child into a preschool for the first time you are probably concerned about what happens if your child gets bitten.

Will the center tell me which child did it? Do I need to pull my child out? Should I expect the center to remove the child that bit mine? What if it goes through the skin? What if my child starts biting?

What do I do?

Throughout my career I have told many moms there is one thing I can almost guarantee — at some point your child will get bitten or bite another child. It’s just something that happens in young children when socializing with other small children. It occurs mostly in the toddler age group although it can happen in younger and older age groups as well.

There are many reasons a child may bite another child. Some children experience more difficulty with this behavior than others and some children never bite.

I would strongly suggest you do not play biting games with your child. I have seen many parents affectionately bite their child’s thighs, arms, hands, just lovingly playing with their child. This behavior will motivate your child to a negative behavior you do not want your child to perform. Your child will interpret it as biting is okay and even a sign of affection. Always try and motivate your child toward the behavior you want them to perform.

Some children bite while they are teething. Teeth are growing in and their gums really are hurting. They are very uncomfortable and do not know how to handle the pain or express their discomfort.

Very often a child who bites grows out of it when they start communicating better. A bite today can eventually become “that’s my toy” tomorrow. If a child is actively biting children every day and the behavior appears unable to be corrected, he or she might need a break from the childcare setting for a season. That does not mean forever! Usually all children will grow out of this behavior with time and maturity. When the season passes, enroll your child in a center again.

Most good preschools use one or more national curriculums and are the best environment for your toddler to excel. The development of social and learning skills through the use of a national curriculum will be instrumental in preparing your child for success in kindergarten. Being at home has its benefits, but the advantages of being in the right childcare setting are numerous. Some of these benefits are interacting with children of the same age group, doing art projects, learning how to color, to write and use scissors, potty training, exploring new foods, playing in different developmental centers, as well as experiencing a structured age appropriate curriculum.

If your child gets bitten, do not expect the center to tell you which child did the biting. I do not believe it is good practice for parents to be able to single out the child that has inflicted a bite on their own child. It can only lead to your looking upon that child in a negative manner.

It could lead to parent confrontations or even a parent directing the child not to play with a certain child. Imagine how you would feel if your child bit someone in the class and the other parent knew it was your child. One day you might hear a parent telling little Johnny, “Do not play with Suzie because she’s mean and she will bite you. Stay away from her!” Always remember, labeling is disabling. No child is bad. A child may express bad behavior but all kids are good children and should NEVER hear otherwise.

If you selected the right center, the staff will work with all the parties concerned in a loving, compassionate way, bringing everyone together for the betterment of the children involved.

Sometimes certain children need to be separated if it seems one child is continually biting another child in particular. This is not a common occurrence, but it does take place.

Sometimes biting can be a sign of boredom. If a child is in a classroom that he or she does not find challenging, it can lead to the child acting out.

In some cases children who are having a hard time with biting might benefit from being moved into an older classroom. Around older children they may feel less in control and it could alter their behavior patterns.

If your child gets bitten and it goes through the skin, you should expect a call, but don’t panic. A good center should call you and give you a heads up before you arrive to pick up your child and are taken off guard when seeing that your child has a serious bite mark.

You should be given an accident report and if it makes you feel more comfortable, take your child to your pediatrician to be checked out. In all cases of a bite breaking the skin, I would recommend treating the bite with an antibiotic.

Every situation is different. Work with your center. Trust the advice of the owner and the directors. If you don’t trust their advice you shouldn’t trust them with your child.

Have an open heart. Biting is stressful for the family whose child was bitten, but is equally stressful for the family dealing with their child’s biting problem.

If your child does get bitten, just remember…
the child that is doing the biting someday just might be yours.

 

Babies, Childcare & You

Child CareCongratulations on your new bundle of joy! Now it’s time for childcare. This can be one of the most stressful times of your life. The precious child you have been carrying for the last nine months, or have just adopted or been awarded custody of, is about to be handed off to a bunch of strangers. But do not be alarmed! This can be a very positive, supportive experience at the same time.

If you know you are going to need childcare for your newborn, it is never too early for you to begin looking for the center that is the right fit for you and your baby. You do not want to have to choose the right “home” or “extended family” for your precious child when the clock is ticking down to the moment you will need childcare. A number of things should be considered when making this important decision.

First, I must mention I am a strong proponent of using a childcare center over a private sitter at your home or at the sitter’s home. The only exception I would make is if you know the individual so well that you would trust them with your life. That greatly limits your choices. I suggest it be limited to your own parents or someone that was instrumental in raising you. That is how close this person must be to you.

Caring for an infant can be very stressful. There have been many documented cases where the least expected individuals have cracked and acted totally out of character under the stress of caring for a baby. The constant crying, feeding needs, changing, rocking, keeping you awake and depriving you of much needed rest can result in a very bad outcome if the wrong individual is caring for your infant. You must find very special loving people with just the right amount of patience, love, a caring heart and the experience to care for your newborn. Be very careful making your decision.

In a quality childcare center a great deal of activity goes on. Parents are dropping off and picking up their babies. Owners, directors, and assistant directors constantly are going in and out of every room in the center. Usually security cameras are in every room. Teachers are constantly monitored. Every moment of interaction is viewable and the teachers are very aware of this. Many sets of eyes are viewing how your child is being treated in a childcare setting. And as I mention in my upcoming article, “Finding the Right Center,” an owner always should be involved in the caring for your newborn…or find another center.

The right center should welcome your visits in the rooms so you see the teacher interacting with the children. I would suggest you ask them if you can just hang out in the baby room for a period of time. While there you can get to know the teachers that will be caring for your baby. You will be communicating with them frequently. Find out how long they have been doing this and how they feel about the center where they are working. See if they are happy!

You should ask important questions about ratios, feeding schedules, protocol while feeding, daily sheets, disinfecting, changing of diapers, designated cribs and how often sheets are washed.

  • If you intend to breastfeed your baby, make sure the center will accommodate your needs. If a center says they are not equipped to handle your request, find a center that can; they are out there.
  • Laws enforced by licensing agencies are different in various states. If you have any concerns or questions, you can contact your local licensing agency or post your question on my blog and I will get you the information you need.

Your state licensing agency also will have available for your review, inspection reports from visits conducted at the center you are considering. Most state licensing agencies perform at least four unannounced visits per year. How the center rates during these unannounced visits is very important.

Do not judge your center by reviews on Google or Yahoo. These reviews are anonymous and in most cases fabricated. Negative posts often come from disgruntled employees, competitors, or even former families that may have been disenrolled for not paying their tuition.

Always ask for references. Do not be reluctant about asking the center to arrange a face-to face visit with two or three parents who have infants enrolled at the center. Ask how many families with babies have other children in the center. This is a strong vote of confidence for the facility. A family who has been using the center and elects to stay there and enroll their newborn is a very positive sign. They obviously trust the center.

Most centers will tell you they take infants at six weeks of age. While this is not usually a state regulation, it is widely believed that your baby’s immune system is not strong enough until six weeks of age.
These are just some of the important tools you will need as you begin the process of finding a childcare center to care for your newborn baby.

Watch for my upcoming article on “Childcare and Feeding your Infant.”

Separation Anxiety – Transition Into Childcare

Separation AnxietyHANG TOUGH! It Gets Better.  Childcare IS a Rewarding Experience.

When first enrolling your child into a center, there is no way to predict whether or not the transition from staying home will be an easy one.  Some children can’t wait to start and others will make it heart wrenching on the parents.

Usually it is harder on you “the parents” than the child. Try not to think of your child as having the same frustrations, anxieties or apprehensions you do. While we as parents struggle to protect our children from anxious moments or disappointments of life, those are feelings and emotions they will need to deal with as they grow up.  A young child does not have the ability to be introspective and because of this they tend to assimilate and not evaluate and are much more resilient than you may think.

Separation Anxiety

Over the years I have experienced many children who immediately jump right in and have an easy time with transitioning. On the other hand, I have had to help many families work through their separation anxiety issues with children who have a very difficult time beginning childcare. Obviously the parents of those children who experience an easy transition have much less separation anxiety issues than the parents of the children who do not.

With children who have a difficult time transitioning, you might experience your child crying or even throwing a temper tantrum. The resistance to going to the center may start at home, in the car or possibly not until you get to the school.  One child we had hid her mother’s car keys. Most parents enrolling a child into a preschool need their services in order to attend to personal appointments or work schedules.  Please keep in mind that even in the toughest transitions, things will work out.  You need to be able to focus on the circumstances that brought you to a childcare center in the first place.  If you have confidence in the owners, director and referrals, then you should be patient and let it work.  It will work out.  I have seen the most difficult cases end up with a happy smiling child running into the school to get to class.

Don’t Leave Me!

One specific child who had a very hard time comes to mind. Her name is Elizabeth. Elizabeth would kick, scream “Don’t leave me,” cry endlessly, and mom would sit up front crying and have to calm down before she could drive to work.  That was four years ago.  Elizabeth eventually became one of those children I described earlier who would run into the school and beat her mother to her classroom.  Elizabeth is now going into 3rd grade and is still with us. She comes for after school care, school breaks and summer camp and is a very happy well adjusted child.  Because her mother hung in there and gave it a chance to work out, Elizabeth’s experience at our school has been a rewarding one for both mother and daughter.

Talk With Other Parents

If your child is having a hard time and you are feeling guilty and stressed, ask the center to introduce you to some other parents like Elizabeth’s mom who have gone through what you are experiencing. If it’s the right school, you will be amazed how well your child eventually will do. My mom often told me, “This too will pass” and it did.

At my center during the day, we quite often take pictures of our newly enrolled children so the parents can see that the same crying child they dropped off is smiling, interacting and having fun. Ask your center to do that for you. It makes a big difference in putting your mind at ease.

Positive Learning Experiences:

There are so many positive experiences your child will encounter in a well run childcare center. Think of the many skills children must develop and how learning those sooner than later will only help make them become stronger more advanced individuals. Just a few things your child will experience includes learning how to make friends, building relationships, sharing with others, relating to and getting along with individuals they might not like playing with as well as participating in group activities.

A good school will have the tools to help children develop their cognitive, motor and social skills. They will have the opportunity to experience different learning centers and be exposed to a national curriculum. They also will be introduced to many new foods. Licensed childcare centers must serve all five food groups to every child at each meal.

Another important learning experience for children attending a preschool is learning how to respect and take directives from a different authority figure other than the parent and usually for the first time in their young lives. This is a skill they will need when they reach kindergarten and even when they get their first job.

A childcare center can help you get your child potty trained and take that weight off your shoulders as well.

Here are some pointers in helping your child transition easily:

1. When you bring him or her to class make it short and sweet. Give your child a hug and kiss goodbye and turn around and leave, whether things are okay or not. The longer you draw it out the worse it will get and the longer it will take for your child to get accustomed and comfortable in the new surroundings.

2. Children know the basics. Cry and they will usually get their way, so keep that in mind. Most children who cry a great deal are not crying because they are traumatized. It is just because they are conditioned that such behavior will get the results they desire – You!

If your child is one of the real difficult ones, be patient and take a deep breath. Remember your child is not experiencing the same feelings and emotions you are. What you see as a challenging situation will more than likely turn into an awesome positive experience.