Let’s Talk…Changing Demographics

October 16th, 2014

Diversity“Iowa of 2010 looked considerably different than Iowa of 2000. Despite modest overall growth, a variety of significant population shifts occurred within the state, especially among the state’s youngest residents and communities of color” (Iowa Kids Count Special Report, 2011).

If you have not noticed a change in the demographics of your community or the children you care for, chances are you will.  The report shares  that “all parts of Iowa are becoming more diverse and children are leading the way.  Iowa has fewer white residents than it did in 2000 and significantly fewer white children. Iowa’s communities of color – in particular African-American and Latino – grew fast during the decade, and their child population grew fastest of all.”

Be sure to look at the data for your specific city on the KIDS COUNT data center website.

How welcoming is your program to children and families that might be from a different background than you? Do you have posters, books, materials and props that represent children and families from a variety of backgrounds in typical everyday activities?  Check out this Head Start resource titled Same, Different and Diverse: Understanding Children Who Are Dual Language Learners.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this resource that shares actual video clips Embracing Diversity: Songs and Rhymes in 15 Languages.

As we approach the holiday time of year, I want to give you some food for thought as you think about your program’s approach with children and families -

“Child care professionals must make conscious decisions on how to celebrate holidays, just as they make conscious decisions on what snacks to serve or what physical activities to offer,” notes the National Network for Child Care (NNCC).

If you are an early childhood program administrator and want to think more on this topic, consider joining our DHS- & NAC-approved online class in May -  Diversity in Early Care and Education: How Directors Can Support Staff in Honoring Differences

Share with us your strategies for being welcoming in a time of changing demographics –   http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/demographics/

Further reading on this topic:

Bisson, J.  (1997).  Celebrate:  An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays in Early Childhood Programs.  St. Paul MN.  Redleaf Press.

Derman-Sparks, L. & Edwards, J. O. (2010). Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves.  Washington, D.C. NAEYC.

Derman-Sparks, L. & Ramsey, P. G. (2011). What If All the Kids Are White: Ant-Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families.  New York, N. Y. Teachers College Press.

Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2008). Diversity in Early Care and Education: Honoring Differences.  Washington, D.C. NAEYC.

Shareef, I. & Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2008). Practice in Building Bridges: A Companion Resource to Diversity in Early Care and Education.  Washington, D.C. NAEYC.


Environment, Family Relationships

Let’s Talk…Flu, Enterovirus & Ebola

October 8th, 2014

handwashFrom the American Academy of Pediatrics

Strategies for Child Care, Schools related to Ebola, Enterovirus D68 & Flu:

There are numerous news reports about the epidemic of Enterovirus D68 affecting many children, and now Ebola virus.

To ensure the health of all children in child care and school settings, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends caregivers and teachers continue the current procedures already in place to manage infectious diseases (e.g. immunizations, infection control, and proper exclusion practices).

Children with Enterovirus D68, for example, may have symptoms that look similar to children with the common cold, the flu, or other respiratory viruses. Remember, it is not the job of caregivers and schools to diagnose children.
There are steps that Child Care Providers, Facilities, and Schools can take to prevent the spread of infection and illness, including having policies that encourage:

By following these recommendations, you will be doing your part to maintain a healthy environment for all the children in your care, regardless of illness.
Additional resources for Child Care Providers & Schools:

Health & Safety

Let’s Talk… Pets in the Classroom

October 6th, 2014

Welcome again guest blogger Jamie Smith, ISU Environmental Rating Scale Assessor.

PetsMy friend’s daughter came home from the first day of school overjoyed because her seat is right next to the classroom guinea pig’s cage. Now, as adults, we may not think that that particular arrangement would always be pleasant, but in the eyes of a child, it can be the best seat in the house!

If you are an animal lover, you know the great joy and friendship pets provide. Even if you’re not an animal fan, you know or can imagine the curiosity sparked in children at the sight of animals. Many programs may shy away from pets because along with all the joy and fun they provide, they come with a long list of liabilities.   It is important to be very aware of and follow all recommended rules and precautions when animals and children are together.  Caring for Our Children has two very informative sections about pets and children:

Prohibited Pets: http://cfoc.nrckids.org/StandardView/

Animals that Might Have Contact with Children and Adults: http://cfoc.nrckids.org/StandardView/3.4.2

While there are many responsibilities that go along with having pets in your program, there are also benefits. Animals can lift our mood and spirits.  They can teach children responsibility and kindness to other creatures.    Pets serve as an excellent learning tool and can turn the program in to a community.

What are some of your experiences with pets in your program-good or bad?  Please share at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/pets-in-the-classroom/.


Early Learning, Environment, Health & Safety ,

Let’s Talk… Banned Book Week

September 22nd, 2014

Banned Book 1September 21 – 27 marks Banned Book Week 2014. It is one of my favorite “special weeks” because it draws attention to the importance of books and the place they hold in our lives as well as celebrates our freedom to read.  I’ve read many “banned books” and most are ones that challenge the way I have previously thought of something in a way that changes me forever.

In early childhood, it is our responsibility to meet the needs of all the children in our care, which means we need to be selective of books we have in our collection. Some challenged children’s books that a family might deem appropriate in their home might not be appropriate in group care.  For example, books with images of characters hurting one another.  Other frequently challenged books are ones that present families in many different ways, and these might be very appropriate for early childhood.  As a matter of fact, the September 2014 issue of NAEYC’s Young Children explores the issues surrounding engaging many different types of families.

When I visit with early childhood professionals, they almost always tell me they have a “wide selection” of books, but most often they mean LOTS of books, not necessarily a WIDE selection. To have a wide selection it’s important to have books from the following types of categories for all the ages of children in your care:

  • Race/Culture
  • Ages
  • Abilities
  • Animals
  • Familiar Experiences & Objects
  • Fiction
  • Factual
  • Nature/Science

Books are our windows to many different types of people, places, objects and experiences, and this holds true for children as well. This week, take a critical look at your book collections.  Are there frightening images that might be best removed?  Are there any of the categories above missing?  Let us know what you discover at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/banned-book-week/.


Early Learning, Environment ,

Let’s Talk… DAP What…???

September 17th, 2014

difficult 2Many years ago, when I first started hearing about developmentally appropriate practices (A.K.A. DAP), it sounded like a scary and complicated classroom strategy that only after several college courses would I be able to fully understand. Over the years, however, I have come to understand that developmentally appropriate practice simply means meeting children where they are at in this moment in time.  Recently I ran across a NAEYC resource that does a great job of illustrating this idea.  10 Effective DAP Teaching Strategies suggests the following simple approaches to meeting children in this moment and time in support of their overall development:

  1. Acknowledge
  2. Encourage
  3. Give Specific Feedback
  4. Model
  5. Demonstrate
  6. Create or add challenge
  7. Ask Questions
  8. Give Assistance
  9. Provide Information
  10. Give Direction

An infographic of these ten strategies is available to help keep DAP reminders close at hand. In addition to these strategies, you can explore more about DAP via a previous Let’s Talk post as well.

DAP is the best way to ensure the needs of each unique and individual child are met. How do you make development appropriate practice less scary and more meaningful in your work with children?  Let us know at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/dap-what/.


Early Learning, Professionalism ,

Let’s Talk…Sanitize or Disinfect?

September 11th, 2014

As a child care provider and administrator I had a tendency to “go nuclear” when it came to sanitizing and disinfecting. My philosophy was “If a little is good, then a lot must be even better.”  The smell of bleach made me feel that things must be clean. What I know now is that I was putting additional toxins in the environment unnecessarily (not to mention ruining the backs of a few precious outfits that came in contact with heavy bleach solutions on the diaper changing table). Clean, sanitize and disinfect have different purposes and we need to make choices based upon the situation.

What I have found from my recent work with early childhood professionals is that many are confused by when to sanitize, when to disinfect and exactly what the difference is. Here is an excellent Cleaning and Sanitation chart from NAEYC that includes definitions and when to use what solution. Appendix J of Caring for Our Children also shares excellent information on mixing your bleach solutions or using an alternative to bleach.

Be sure to check out this video from ISU Extension and Outreach on the proper table sanitation procedure -

  • Are you mixing the correct solution concentration for the task at hand?
  • Are you following all the steps to properly sanitize your table?
  • Are you keeping children at a safe distance when using bleach and other chemical?

To share your thoughts on this discussion, go to http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/sanitizedisinfect/


Health & Safety

Let’s Talk…Diaper Changes

September 5th, 2014

Group care is different than caring for your own children or grandchildren. So, it makes sense that a diaper change in child care would be different than one we might do on our own kids. In a situation where we are professional caregivers working to reduce contamination and sanitation issues, then it stands to reason we need certain procedures to follow on a consistent basis. The highest standard comes from Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs. Check out Iowa State University Extension & Outreach walking you through the steps -

You will want to print and post the steps from Healthy Child Care Iowa near your changing table.

  • Do you prepare supplies in advance?
  • Do you complete the hand wipe step?
  • Do you properly disinfect the area?

To share with us your thoughts, visit http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/diaperchange/


Health & Safety

Let’s Talk…Handwashing 101

August 20th, 2014

We are all SUPER excited to share with you one of our latest videos so that you can have a visual for all of the steps in a best practice hand wash.  Washing your hands properly is the single most important line of defense in preventing the transmission of disease-causing organisms. Start your school year off right by washing your hands thoroughly and supporting your children in following all the steps!

If you have not done so already, be sure to download the Healthy Child Care Iowa’s flyer for posting near your hand washing sinks.

  • Do you wet your hands before getting soap?
  • Are you and your children scrubbing for 20 seconds outside the stream of water?
  • What about turning off the faucet with a paper towel and not touching the garbage to avoid recontamination?

To share with us your thoughts, visit http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/handwashing101/



Health & Safety

Let’s Talk…Summer/Fall Transitions

August 15th, 2014

Hesitant childAugust brings with it lots of talk about the back-to-school transition: clothes, supplies, bus and carpool arrangements, and child care arrangements.  There is a lot of information and many resources available online for parents on helping a child transition to a new child care environment or preschool, but not a lot of information available for the early care professional on how to help children with the transition from your side of the equation.  School agers going back to school, regulars returning after a summer at home, and/or welcoming new children, along with many new routines, is worth some thoughtful planning to ensure everyone, including you, the professional, has a smooth transition to fall.

So… what are your ideas for transitioning from summer break to fall schedules?  Let us know at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/summerfalltransitions/.


Early Learning, Guidance

Let’s Talk…Courageous Educators

August 6th, 2014

lionThe school year is beginning and even for year-round child care programs the new school year marks a time of welcoming. It offers an opportunity for family child caregivers to reflect on the mission and philosophy of their program — giving thought to where they are strong and where they have room for improvement. For center-based staff, hopefully there is a chance to come together as a team for reflection, discussion and goal-setting. So, what do you want to see different about your program or classroom?

Remember to make your goals tangible and write the steps of how you are going to get there. Review those steps and goals on a regular basis.

Stagnant is never a good thing. Propose something that makes a meaningful difference, and you’ll often hear “But we’ve always…”, “But the parents will never…”, “But we can’t be the only program in the area to…”  What, then, do truly courageous early educators do?  They dig deeper, they take responsibility, and they take that leap!

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” John Wayne

We would love to hear your courageous goals for the upcoming school year! http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/courageous-educators/