What are the Kids Getting to Eat at the First Memories Day Care?

Kids in day care are spending a good portion of their day under the supervision of someone else. In most cases, this means that up to 3/4 of their daily food requirements are being met by the day care center. We are aware of how concerning this is to parents and go to great lengths to ensure that all of the children are being provided with a variety of healthy foods with high nutritional value. Starting at breakfast and right until the last snack time, our young children are treated to a number of different foods.

Breakfast – The first meal of our day is served within a half hour of opening time. We understand that parents are busy getting ready and getting out the door, and often don’t have the time to make a healthy breakfast. As this is the most important meal of the day, we always serve a fresh fruit like bananas, melon or strawberries, hot oatmeal or cold cereal and wheat pancakes. We also have eggs once a week with hash browned potatoes. All breakfast meals are served with fresh squeezed juice or organic milk.

Lunch – We have a lot of opportunity with lunch to provide kids with a healthy meal that they love. We try and keep it to finger foods, and have gotten very good at using a no-oil “deep fryer” for things like chicken nuggets, fish sticks and even fried chicken drumsticks. This kind of deep fryer crisps the food on the outside, without the use of fatty cooking oil. We ended up doing our research and found a great one on CrispyandGolden.com. Raw vegetables like chopped salad or carrots is the accompaniment along with a slice of bread and organic yogurt for dessert. In place of yogurt we will sometimes serve a fresh fruit or for a real treat, organically made brownies.

dinner

Snacks – Kids eat best when allowed to graze during the day, which is why we have two snack periods; one in the morning at one in the afternoon. We serve sugar free juices, raisins, dry cereals and crackers with peanut butter. One of our counselors is also very good at making home made trail mix, which the kids always look forward to.

Appealing to a kids palate in a healthy way is not as difficult as you might think. With an open mind, most are willing to try anything so long as it looks appealing. That, we have learned, is the key. If you make foods that look good enough to eat, the kids are going to eat it.

The Best Books to Fill a Day Care Library

Reading daily is an important part of life at daycare. Not only should you have a stockpile of picture books for the kids to look through, there should be a number of story books used by the instructors for story time. There are hundreds of books that you can choose from, but this is a list of some of our all time favorites:

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” – This classic about a big cuddly bear and his observations of the world has been a favorite for years. Brown Bear will entertain kids on their own with its brilliant illustrations, or as a tale told by one of your instructors.

The Pigeon Series – Relatively new in children’s literature, the pigeon is an insightful little guy who talks about why birds should not drive, what to do with a hot dog, why going to bed early is important, wanting a pet, and a lot more. His life lessons for kids are invaluable, and the cute character someone that they can easily identify with.

“Catnus Evergreen: The Archery Cat” – This big eyed black cat is never far from his bow and quiver of arrows. Catnus is hungry and wants to use his recurve bow to catch a mouse dinner. The rest of the story is a mathematical adventure, where kids learn basic concepts as Catnus shoots arrows from the recurve bow (probably a Samick) one by one.

“Where the Wild Things Are” – This award winning children’s book is a must have for a daycare library. Not only are the illustrations awe inspiring for young children, This is an epic tale of travel that will mesmerize your youngsters during story time.

The Eric Carle Series – Children’s writer and illustrator Eric Carle has a series of animal themed books that young children love. He brings to life in a story a spider who is very busy, the click beetle who is clumsy, a caterpillar that’s hungry and a lonely firefly. All address real issues for young kids in a brilliant matter that is timeless.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” – speaking of timeless, the tale of the mischievous Goldilocks and her intrusion on the lives of the three bears is one that has been shared for generations.

red

“Little Red Riding Hood” – In the same token is the young girl who talks to strangers and gets in trouble with a wolf. The messages in these books serve to show young kids just how dangerous the world is when they don’t listen to adult’s instructions.

What makes for great reading for young minds are characters they can relate to, and situations they can learn from. Share these favorites with your daycare children, and teach them early to learn to love to read.

The First Memories Day Care Camping “Field Trip”

It can be a challenge to provide a safe and stimulating environment for young children on a daily basis. Kids do prosper and grow when they have a routine to follow, but like adults, they can also get caught in a rut. To combat this, our staff has a number of different “field trips” planned each year, where we transform daycare into a journey to the outside world.

Our most recent, and so far most fun, adventure was camping. The main play area was transformed into a forest, and we set up two large family tents for the boys and girls to “sleep” in. Large sleeping bags were not needed, but by laying a large blanket on the bottom of the tent and using the same small blankets as nap time, we were able to simulate the sleeping bag experience.

Our “field trip” started first thing in the morning with the whole group getting involved in setting up the campsite. Since we were staying inside, we did need to be creative, and used large rocks on the corners of the family tent to keep it in place, in lieu of staking it into the ground. We then went on a journey around the “forest” to find firewood to cook on.

DoortoMore3CampingParty-400x267Story time was transformed into a pretend walk through a forest, and we used large picture books to show the children the different types of plant life that could be found. Since a few of the boys showed an interest in wildlife, we also pulled out a book about animals to talk about raccoons, squirrels, birds and even bears. S’mores where on the menu for snack that day, and naptime of course took place inside of the family tents. This was followed by arts and crafts, where the kids were encouraged to draw pictures depicting their favorite part of the “field trip”. We ended our day with camp songs around our fake campfire before the moms and dads began rolling up at pick-up time.

Simulated field trips like this may seem like a lot of work, but they are much easier to pull off then you think with a little imagination. For example, to build a campfire we used blocks to make the stone circle, and a collection of Lincoln Legs as the firewood. One of our instructors even came up with the smart idea of a flashlight in the center to resemble a real fire.

Not only do the kids have a great deal of fun with this type of project, they learn a lot. We stuck with the schedule slightly, just enhanced it with a theme. Have books that enhance your trip experience as well as appropriate food and music. Our kids had a grand time during the experience, and came in looking for the tents and campfire the next day. But this type of virtual excursion activity is something a daycare center should do occasionally, in order to build anticipation.

4 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Look for Signs of Music in Daycare

Music is an important component of children’s learning, even while in the womb. As they grow, music becomes ingrained in their memory allowing them to recall important lessons. See for yourself by beginning to recite the alphabet in your mind. Chances are, by the letter D, your thought process reverted to the alphabet song. Music is a powerful tool for the young mind, and something you should be looking for as an important element in your choice of daycare.

Music works on mental capacity and even intellect. There is a direct connection between music and mathematical thinking. A daycare can start children learning on mathematical concepts using counting songs as part of the daily routine. The classic “Five People in my Family” song from early Sesame Street is a good example of a song that helps young children relate numbers to objects.

preschool-children-singingA daycare that uses music and allows children to dance is assisting in their mastery of their physical self. They begin to develop coordination, which is essential for muscular development. A good daycare will play music and encourage the children to run, crawl, skip and balance to the beat.

In the same token, children are taught another way in which they can express emotion and relieve their tensions. Adults benefit all of the time with free dance movements, and so will children. This is also a good way to allow them show how they are feeling if they don’t have the words yet to convey that.

Last but not least is the creative outlet that music creates for children. They can use it to create an imaginary world such as a toddler does when using a pot and spoon as a drum set. Older children will begin putting their own words to the music they have become accustomed to.

A daycare provider should be comfortable with singing to children and encouraging them to sing along. Some have invested time into learning how to sing online in order to enhance the pre-school music program. Online singing lessons will give them a good feel for how to help get kids to open up and sing with them.

While a daycare is not  a school per-say, it can be transformed into a learning environment. The social interaction is a precursor to what the children are going to experience once they do enter a regular school environment. If they have also already been taught things like numbers and the ABC’s in their daycare, then they will be a step ahead in their education.

Don’t be afraid to ask the daycare provider about their feelings and approach to music as a part of their daily activities. You want what is best for your kids, and providing them with music is one of many ways to do that.

Checking Your Daycare for Signs of How They Keep the Peace

Parents should know that a daycare environment that is quiet is not normal unless it is naptime. Kids are not quiet by nature, and if you put a bunch together, there is going to be noise. When looking at a daycare it is important to understand the difference between playful banter and controlled chaos, as play is good for your child to engage in, while controlled chaos will eventually turn to being out of control.

Look for signs that the instructors and caregivers in the daycare you are considering also make that distinction and are set up to help keep things calm amongst the kids:

Quiet areas – Children should also be encouraged to participate in quiet time activities while in daycare. Reading areas should be set up away from the main play area and have soft seating with plenty of books aimed at both boys and girls. Sometimes a kid that is getting over excited just needs a quiet place to decompress and unwind the mind.

DaycarePlaygrounds-miracle-recreation-playgroundOutside play – This is critical as it allows for that small amount of chaos to be sated outside, instead of in the classroom. Check to see if there is a playground and that all of the equipment is safe and child friendly. Ask the instructors how many children are allowed outside at a time, and the number of care givers that will be watching over them. Also look for ways in which a child may accidentally leave the sanctuary or an adult could enter from the outside world. If there is not locks on the fences then this is not a safe environment for your child.

Relaxation techniques – Quiz the staff on the types of relaxation techniques they employ with the children. There should be more than just time outs and nap times in a good daycare. A daycare invested in the comfort and safety of a child will use things like aromatherapy to keep a calm environment. With an essential oil diffuser placed out of reach, the calming scent of lavender or thyme will help to keep kids from becoming anxious or over stimulated.

Personal space – kids in daycare miss being at home which often leads to uncontrolled tantrums or disruptive crying. Check that they are given private cubbies or other means of having personal items that can be set apart from the rest of the daycare. A special blanket or stuffed animal can be very helpful in keeping kids at ease.

With large groups of young children in one place, it is virtually impossible to have a quiet environment at all times. There are however ways in which daycare providers can encourage peace and create an environment where children are free to express themselves, without it being detrimental to the rest.

Tips For Teaching Your Child To Read

"Child reading at Brookline Booksmith" by Tim Pierce - originally posted to Flickr as lost. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Child reading at Brookline Booksmith” by Tim Pierce – originally posted to Flickr as lost. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Your child learning to read is one of the most important things for them to do as they are growing up. Reading is a lifelong skill, and it is important to make sure that they understand the fundamentals at an early age. As a parent, you need to teach your child to learn to read the proper way, so that they are better prepared not only for school, but for life. Below are some tips that you can use to help your child learn how to read.

1. Read To Them – This is probably the biggest thing you can do. By reading to your child, and having them follow along with the books, your child can begin to identify which sounds go with which letters. They can begin to understand what certain words sounds like, and how sentences are constructed. It also doesn’t put the stress on them yet, as all they have to do is listen to you and follow along. An added bonus is that this gives you time to bond with your child in an activity that is easy and helping for them.

2. Ask Questions – While you are reading with your child, be sure to ask them questions about what they heard. This will help them to comprehend the story, not just match sounds to letters. Your goal isn’t to just show your child what letters match the sounds, but to help your child understand the purpose of reading.

3. Be A Good Example – If you want your child to have an interest in reading, you need to be a reader yourself. Let your child see you reading books around the home, and set a good example for them. If you are not an avid reader, make an effort to at least pick up a book from time to time while your child is around to help show them that reading is a good thing to do. Otherwise, your child may lose interest in reading and not want to continue learning how to do it.

4. Point Out Letters – As your child is learning to read, make sure you point out where letters can be found in other places besides their books. For example, have their name hanging up on the wall and show them the letters that are in it. Or point to street signs and show them how to say the words. This way, they are always surrounded by words and their brains will begin trying to process what they are. There are signs and words everywhere, so just about any moment can become a teaching moment.

5. Encourage Them – When your child is learning to read, the process will be a slow one. It is going to take them a long time to simply get through a sentence. During this time, you need to be patient with them, and let them figure out the words on their own. Only jump in and help them with a word when they are really stuck. Show them how to sound it out, and recognize the letters that are in the words.

What To Look For In A Daycare

"The Daycare circa 2009" by Bakztfuture - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Daycare circa 2009” by BakztfutureOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Where your child goes to daycare is one of the more important decisions you are going to have to make for your young child. Since you are not going to be able to watch your child at all times, you want to make sure they are going to a place that will take proper care of them, and at which your child will have a good time. There are several things to consider when you are looking for a daycare, and we have compiled a short list of them for you. Keep the below list in mind whenever you are looking at prospective daycares in order to ensure you are happy with your decision.

1. Good Reputation – First, you should make sure the daycare has a good reputation. Ask around and talk to other parents who have brought their kids there. See what they think about the place, and if they would recommend it. You’ll get a much better idea of what the place is actually like by talking to people who have used it, rather than the people who work there.

2. Established Ground Rules – When talking to a daycare, you want a place that is flexible with some of their rules – like when you can drop off your child, and when you can pick them up – but they should have some underlying ground rules that are pretty solid. If the daycare doesn’t seem to have too many rules or regulations, it can show that they are not serious about their establishment. You want a place that takes pride in what they do, and good ground rules are a way to measure this.

3. Good Curriculum – While your child is in their care, you want them to learn as much as possible. Talk to the staff at the daycare and see what their curriculum looks like. Ask about their methods for teaching your child to read, count, etc. When you are with your child, you are helping them to learn and grow. You don’t want this process to be put on pause every time you drop your child off at a daycare. Any place you visit should have a solid plan in place that you can review.

4. Qualified Staff – Another important thing to look at is the qualifications of the staff. You want to know that the people taking care of your child have received all of the proper training, and that your child is in capable hands. You don’t want a daycare that is staffed by a bunch of teenagers who are just looking for a part time job. Ask the managers of the daycare what type of qualifications they require out of their staff to be sure they are trustworthy.

5. Healthy Food – Lastly, make sure that the food they are going to be feeding your child is up to your standards. You want to make sure that your child has a healthy diet whenever they are at the daycare. Food is an important part to any baby’s development, so the daycare you choose will have to provide a good diet for your child.