It is approaching the winter season here in Iowa. For many of you it will mean dry chapped hands due to the frequent handwashing required for those in the child care field. Whenever we talk handwashing at Environmental Rating Scale classes, we frequently hear complaints about the effects of frequent handwashing on skin. I read an article last week in the Des Moines Register that shared tips from the University of Iowa on how to help with some dry skin issues related to winter weather -
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – particularly after washing
A few weeks ago in Let’s Talk…Child Care Malisa blogged about science, technology, engineering and math (otherwise known as STEM) in early childhood and how important it is to engage children in the process of inquiry. New research reviewed in Science Daily provides continued support for the importance of both art and music activities throughout childhood for STEM. A study at Michigan State University has linked increased exposure to open-ended art and music activities with a higher number of patents, businesses formed, and articles written. This is great news for early care and education environments, because exposing children to art and music are practices found in high quality environments. All four Environmental Rating Scales (Infant/Toddler, School Age, Family, and Early Childhood) include open-ended and individualized art and music experiences. Who would have thought that letting young children experiment with things like paint, clay and music could have such a powerful impacts in adulthood?!?!?
Still looking for holiday ideas for the youngsters on your list? Or maybe your early care and education environment could use some new materials. Here are some ideas…
Rain sticks and rattles
Paint, paper and a variety of brush sizes
Tambourines, drums, and ribbons for dancing
Tape to connect all of the holiday boxes together for 3D art
Anything safe and appropriate for the age of the child that allows the child to use his or her imagination to create is a great gift idea. All the finger paintings and joyful “noise” could lead to the next great discovery!
P.S. Looking for nature and science gift ideas or classroom materials? Check out the recent post by our friends at EcoFamily for some great ideas! Nature and science are also important components of high quality environments and are great ways to encourage discovery.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has a partnership with Nature Explore to spread information and support related to the benefits of connecting children with nature. Did you know that there is a network of certified Nature Explore classrooms? Eighteen of these outdoor classrooms can be found in Iowa. See if your state has any certified programs and where they are located as well as learn about the certification process.
Check out this video to learn more about Nature Explore!
Early educators who want to learn to think more intentionally about their outdoor learning space can attend Nature Explore workshops. In Iowa, these are posted on the DHS Training Registry. Several Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Life Specialists are certified trainers. If you don’t have one near you, contact us to get one scheduled!
Like many families, I suppose, as Thanksgiving draws closer my family’s thoughts turn to things we are thankful for in our lives. Making the list so far this November has been friends, lunch, new coaches, comfy shoes and smiles. When I think back on my many years in family child care, I can easily think of many things that were hard, challenging and unpleasant. But now that those years are more than a decade behind me I can also think of many things that are special and dear to my heart and that have left a life-long impact on both myself and my family. Here are just a few of the things I am thankful for from my years in family child care:
CACFP – “the food program”. I didn’t know a lot about nutrition when I started child care, but what I learned from that program now impacts how I feed my family on a daily basis.
Slobber on my shirt that I didn’t realize was there until I turned to talk to someone at an evening meeting or training.
The excitement during a training about a new idea I couldn’t wait to implement.
The parent who lingers a little longer than what I might have time for, just because he or she needed a listening ear.
Did you know that stressful events as a child can increase your odds of all sorts of negative physical and mental health outcomes as an adult?? As early childhood professionals this may seem like a no-brainer, but research is showing over and over again that this is indeed the case, and this research is drawing a lot of attention. In the mid-1990′s Kaiser Permanente, a health maintenance organization, did a study of over 17,000 of their patients linking experiences in childhood to adult health and wellness conditions. The results were astonishing!! The more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) a person has, the greater that person’s likelihood for everything from depression and alchohol use to heart and liver disease. The findings of the study have been so powerful that individual states have started to collect data on ACEs, including Iowa.
Last month 600+ people gathered in Des Moines to hear the first report of ACEs finding in Iowa. Over half of the population in Iowa has at least one ACE, and over 30% have at least two or more. In Iowa, 3+ ACEs increases your odds of heart disease by 250% and a heart attack by 287%. Four or more ACEs increases your odds of diabetes by 201% and vision problems by 354%… WOW!! You can read the full report of these and other Iowa findings at ACEs 360 Iowa, or for information from other states at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what can we do as early care and education professionals? Acknowledging that both the children in our care and the adults in their lives experience stress is an essential first step. Next, finding ways to help reduce that stress and not add to it is important. How do you help reduce the stress in families’ lives? Share your ideas at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/aces/.
“In a reward-oriented classroom, including one that is characterized by praise, kids are led to ask, ‘What do they want me to do, and what will I get for doing it?‘ fundamentally different from ‘What kind of person do I want to be?’ or ‘What kind of classroom do we want to have?‘”
So many of us have been trained that to motivate children we need to be rewarding them – either with tangible items like stickers or with verbal praise. I hope you will take a brief moment to read the article Punished by Rewards: A Conversation with Alfie Kohn. It will cause you to pause and consider how we manipulate children even with our well-intended praise. One of the things that I found most interesting is that research shows when we reward children for tasks that they are intrinsically motivated to accomplish, they lose interest in that activity and we place the emphasis on pleasing us as the adult. Ouch.
Who among us hasn’t used the words, “I like the way Tommy is sitting with his hands in lap waiting for my story”? Kohn gives four reasons why he is opposed to this type of manipulation. Take a peek at the article to learn what those are. A few other quotes I hope you will give thought to -
What these kids need is unconditional support and encouragement and love. Praise is not just different from that; it’s the opposite of that. Praise is, “Jump through my hoops, and only then will I tell you what a great job you did and how proud I am of you.”
Kohn advocates providing an engaging curriculum and a caring atmosphere “so kids can act on their natural desire to find out.”
You show me a school that really has those three Cs in place (content, community, choice)—where students are working with one another in a caring environment to engage with interesting tasks that they have some say in choosing—and I’ll show you a place where you don’t need to use punishments or rewards.
Hope you give the research-based information he shares some thought! I will not deny that for the short term, rewards work to get the results we are seeking, but are we doing more damage than good in the long run? Do we need to be giving more attention to the natural interests of our children and less attention on how to please us? Share with us your thoughts at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/childcare/rewards
Ghosts and goblins and other scary things are just around the corner – including higher energy bills. YIKES!!! That’s enough to scare anyone! Did you know that October is National Energy Awareness month? It’s a time for everyone to look at the energy they consume and consider ways to reduce that energy, not only for the good of the environment but also for the good of our financial bottom line. Here are some suggestions for free energy saving habits that you might consider trying whether you care for children in your home or in a child care center or preschool environment:
Unplug seldom used appliances, unplug chargers when not in use, and use a power strip to turn electricity to computers and home entertainment systems.
Use the “sleep mode” and “hibernate” functions on your computer.
Take controlof the temperature by using programmable thermostats effectively and letting sun light in for nature warm.
Use appliances efficiently by washing full loads of dishes and laundry and not pre-heating the oven unless a recipe specifically calls for it.
Manage the use of lights by turning them off when not necessary.
You can explore managing energy use with children by checking out this month’s Science of Parenting blog and for more money saving tips on a this and a variety of topics check out the blog Money Tip$. The EcoFamily blog is also a great source for ideas and inspiration about the outdoor environment.
Yes, another alphabet soup word we need to add to our vocabulary list! STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is a big “buzz” word in the education world. STEM is important to our world because this is where future jobs will be, so we need to make sure children are prepared for these fields. Think STEM doesn’t pertain to early childhood? Think again!
Young children are natural scientists that explore, build, create and question. And the best early childhood professionals are highly skilled at leading young children in scientific inquiry by asking questions like the following:
Can you do it another way?
How do you know?
How could we find out?
What do you think?
What would happen if …?
Why do you think that will work?
Massachusetts has been a leader in recognizing the powerful link between ECE and STEM. You can read more about their efforts in The Boston Globe article Sparking a Child’s Interest in Science and Technology. “Young children are inquisitive learners who ask an average of 76 questions per hour. They are natural scientists and engineers who learn Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts through play. Research confirms that the brain is particularly receptive to learning math and logic between the ages of 1 and 4.” “High-quality early education provides essential supports for future success in life and in school and is the basis for children’s aptitude in STEM in later years.”
In the music world, Aretha Franklin made the letters R.E.S.P.E.C.T. famous with her 1967 smash hit. In the early care and education world, especially when it comes to infants and toddlers, we have our own “Queen of Respect” – Magda Gerber. Magda was an infant specialist and educator who developed an infant care philosophy based on treating infants with respect and allowing infants to develop at their own unique pace. In 1973 she and a cofounder created RIE® – Resource for Infant Educarers, and over the years Magda and colleagues associated with RIE® have advocated for the respectful care of infants, which includes the following RIE® practices:
Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner
An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing
Time for uninterrupted play
Freedom to explore and interact with other infants
Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient
Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his or her needs
Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline
P.S. Magda’s respectful caregiving approach is a key component of the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC). To find a PITC training in your area look on the Iowa DHS Training Registry, or outside of Iowa, check out PITC.org.