“We’ve been so lucky to have you Mr Drew! The staff, the kids and the parents are all enjoying having your expertise at Kids First Child Care in Webster!”
– Asst. Director, Amy Roland
Kids First in Webster hired me as a Consultant, On-the-Job Trainer, and to fill in as a substitute. Whenever I am not filling in to meet ratio requirements in a classroom I am working hard with the staff and administrators at the center.
I started out working first with the Toddler staff. First I conducted classroom observations. I observed adult/child interactions, circle time, “centers”, art projects in each room and recorded my observations with notes for ideas for improvement. I provided resource articles and other information about Developmentally Appropriate Practice, what children are learning through their various kinds of play, including blocks and loose parts play, and shared some of my favorite finger plays that aim to teach children a variety of skills.
I briefly addressed attachment and positive interaction with children. I spoke about how the most important thing is for the children to feel safe, secure and loved. I spoke about how I am glad I don’t hear yelling or a lot of “No!” in their classrooms. I addressed the need for more Sensory play, as that is Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) for toddlers in the sensory/motor phase. I shopped for and gathered materials so that each room can have a dry sensory bin and tools to use with the corn grain/ birdseed. I also made playdoh, and shopped for playdoh tools. Each toddler class now has a dry sensory bin with tools, and playdoh with tools.
I addressed circle time issues. I spoke with staff about DAP as it pertains to circle time. I spoke about the toddler’s developmental need for more singing, music, rhythm, rhyme, dancing, and finger plays. I spoke about appropriate books (short books, rhyming books). I spoke about not doing flash cards but finding a way to “teach” number, letter, and color recognition in a more Developmentally Appropriate and playful way. I also “modeled” circle time as well.
I addressed the need for more variety of toys in smaller volume. I spoke with the staff about having balls available at all time to redirect children to throw balls instead of toys/blocks. I spoke to them about needing smaller bins of toys, so cleaning up is not overwhelming. I transplanted and sorted toys into “shoe box” sized bins in each classroom. I also gave advice about the design and layout of the classroom, with the wonderful effect of the rooms being re-arranged beautifully in each room. I also equipped the classrooms with other toys and materials that I thought they would need.
I addressed the need for “process oriented art”. I spoke about the need for children to do their own art, and if the teacher is taking a lot of time to prepare the project it is not “art”. The children should be able to explore art materials with little to no adult involvement. Pathways accreditation wants some kind of art materials available to them at all times. I brought the teachers cardboard, before it went out with the recycling, and said they could have a small box of big chalk and/or big crayons for the children to color on the cardboard, as a means to save paper, while children practice their scribbles. I also made a variety of paint brushes for each classroom.
The Toddler staff were very receptive and they have successfully implemented these changes!
“You have such great ideas and talent…and (you are) a good eye opener to things people don’t notice in a daycare setting, as in the learning for kids!”
-Toddler Teacher, Tara
Next I began working with the 3yr old classroom teachers. First I conducted classroom observations. I observed adult/child interactions, circle time, “centers”, art projects in each room and recorded my observations with notes for ideas for improvement. I provided the staff with a form from NAEYC about Developmentally Appropriate-vs-Inappropriate practices with this age group. With that I just “planted a seed”.
The next day the Teacher came to me and told me she wanted my help to improve her practice. She chose one area “outside of her comfort zone” to focus on. I counselled her to take baby steps. She decided that she would allow the children to choose freely where they played and for how long. I explained that children need long periods of uninterrupted play that is self initiated and self directed. I explained that this process will allow the children more opportunities to practice language and social skills as they negotiate with friends in order to play where they wanted too.
She decided to go for it, and allowed the children more freedom to choose. She stopped regulating their choices, and stopped using a timer to have the children change centers. She allowed them to play where they wanted, with whom they wanted, and for as long as they wanted. I was present while she implemented these changes in order to support and guide her when issues came up.
I noticed the classroom had a barrel of monkeys and I thought those monkeys should have something to hang on. I found two great things in storage, an old art drying rack and a file organizer, so I brought them into the classroom and the kids loved hanging the monkeys on them.
I filled in for two weeks in a 4yr old classroom. I had a great time filling in for a teacher who was on vacation. I wanted to bring a different experience for the children, so I looked for materials and toys to bring with me. I found some things bound for the recycle bin and used them to make a ping pong ball game and some tube ramps for balls, marbles, and cars.
I also made them some catapults, and they loved using them!
This class also received the paintbrushes and loved the open ended, process oriented art.
Then I had the pleasure of working with a UPK teacher to make a Dramatic Play/Writing center for her classroom. She and I found materials in various storage areas around the center, and made some signs on the computer to make a wonderful “Post Office”.