Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Reading for a Better Vocabulary

Vocabulary development is huge for young children.    Low vocabulary is one leading indicator of children who are at-risk for reading difficulties.  And the problem starts very early.  Researchers have found that children from low-income families may start Kindergarten with 10,000 fewer words in their vocabularies than their classmates.    

One great, simple way of increasing the vocabulary of children, even very young children, is to read with or to them.  Most teachers recommend reading at least 20 minutes each day.  A few years ago I ran across a chart that really brought the importance of that reading time home to me.  I’ve shared it our parents every summer since then and wanted to share it with you today. 

It’s hard for me to look at this graphic and not be astounded each time.  The difference between reading about 5 minutes a day and 20 minutes a day is 1.5 million more words per year.  The value of that increase and practice with vocabulary cannot be overstated.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Planning to Succeed

Failing to plan is like planning to fail.  Cliché, yes, but that doesn't mean it's not true.  None of us sets out with a plan to fail, but if we don’t take the time to plan, that is often exactly what happens. 

I get it—it’s hard to find time to plan when you can hardly find time for a trip to the restroom.  But, just like most things, you can invest some time now in planning or you can spend even more time later fixing things. 

Planning is especially important if you are planning some sort of change for your program.  Are you going to revamp your program or start a new program?  Are you going to be looking for funding?  Are you looking at a reorganization?  If your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, or even “maybe”, it’s time to start planning.

Your Business Plan can help you to:
  • Clearly define the purpose of your program
  • Make program decisions
  • Carefully assess needs and allocate resources
  • Obtain funding
  • Establish a baseline from which progress can be measured
Your Business Plan can help you describe your business to others (such as potential funders) and is a roadmap that can help you manage your program.  It will show potential funders what resources are needed, how the program will develop, and how any loans will be repaid.

If you don’t already have a Business Plan, you can find our template and “how-to” guide at:  http://www.daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Policies

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Not Even for a Minute

Already this year, the Bay Area has lost a 9-month-old boy to heatstroke after he was accidentally left in the car while his dad spent a long day at work.  Tragically, we hear these reports every year.  It seems that there are two primary factors in incidents like these.  The first, as in this case, is simply human error; someone is responsible for transporting a child somewhere, but forgets and leaves the child in the car.  The second is, surprisingly, intentionally leaving the child in a car…apparently underestimating the risk of heat-related injury, kidnapping, etc.  

In a recent survey by Public Opinion Strategies of Washington, D.C., “6% of the parents surveyed (more than 840,000 parents with nearly 1.5 million children) are comfortable letting their young children stay in a parked, locked vehicle for longer than 15 minutes”.   If parents think, even for a minute, that this is okay, they need to be better informed.  Child care programs can help with this by providing educational materials, having a parent workshop, and monitoring their own parking lots.

In the case of children being forgotten in vehicles, there are a few simple suggestions:

  • Put in the backseat of your vehicle something that you will need when you exit—your cell phone, your laptop, etc.
  • Put a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when the child is not in it.  When the child is in the car seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat to remind you that the child is in the back.
  • Make a habit of opening your back door and looking in every time you exit your vehicle.  “Look before you lock.”

One thing that child care providers can do to help parents avoid a tragic mistake is to insist that a parent contact us if their child will not be in care that day.  In response, if the child does not arrive at the expected time, we call the parent(s) to inquire about the child.  Try to make contact with a parent rather than just leaving a voice mail.  

We also need to make sure that our own program policies include steps to ensure that we don’t accidentally leave a child unattended in a vehicle.  If you don’t already have a Transportation Policy, you can check ours out here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Provider Appreciation Day--Friday, May 9th

This Friday, May 9th, is Provider Appreciation Day.  If your program is like ours (and many others), you have the greatest appreciation for your staff, but just not a lot of money to use to show it.  One quick and inexpensive, but thoughtful way of expressing your thanks is to assemble a "Thank You" kit.  Just choose 5 or 6 of these items to include (along with a note with the text so that they know what you are thinking):
  • A Couple of Marbles: To replace the ones you have lost.
  • A Hershey's Hug & Kiss: To remind you that someone cares.
  • A Jingle Bell: To ring for help when you need it. We're here to help one another.
  • A Puzzle Piece: To remind you that, without you, we wouldn't be complete.
  • A Tea Bag: To remind you to take time to relax daily.
  • A Starburst: To let you know that you are a shining star.
  • A Shape: To thank you for helping to "shape" the future.
  • A Packet of Seeds: To remind you that you plant the seeds of knowledge.
  • A Clothespin: To remind you to "Hang in There"; you're doing a great job.
  • An Eraser: To remind you that the good start you provide for children can never be erased.
  • A Penny: To remind you that you are priceless.
You can put these items in a gift bag, a simple ziploc bag, or even in a mug with an addition to the note to include:  A Cup: My hope that your "cup always runneth over".

Thank you for all that you do for children.