Creative Childcare Blog
As early learning educators, it seems as if we are on a quest for the magic tool or technique to eliminate challenging behaviours in the classroom. I sadly must report that this tool does not exist. When managing challenging behaviours, your first line of defense is to change your attitude when a behaviour presents itself.
It’s time to become a detective and figure out the root of the behaviours. If you A) stop taking the behaviour personally and B) believe that the behaviour is an attempt to communicate something to you, you will be on your way to figure out why the behaviour is occurring.
Every child in your care is a unique individual. This is the reason that a one-size-fits-all approach to behaviour management is not practical. Even though each child is unique, they all require that the same fundamental needs are met.
When you have a misbehaving child, you should take a deep breath and ground yourself. Approaching the situation calmly and compassionately will initially help to diffuse the situation. Ask yourself or the child when they are calm, what it is that they need. The chances are good that the child will have a difficult time telling you what they want. Little people with big emotions are hard-pressed to explain their feelings because they don’t understand those feelings, to begin with.
Very young children are challenged when they are expected to self regulate. Children will act out when they don’t get what they want. They are impatient and demand immediate attention and gratification. Self-regulation is something that each of us must learn in order to grow into a responsible adult. Children with behavioural challenges in the early years will often become adolescents who skip school, consume alcohol or drugs and have run-ins with the law (Lipsey & Derzon, 1998.)
This is where your detective work becomes essential. Why is the behaviour happening? Look at the first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Is the child hungry? Is the child in pain?
At the second level, ask if the child is missing a parent who is away for work? Did the goldfish die? Are they in a new home, a new bed? Has the situation in the classroom changed? Is there a new teacher or has a good friend changed rooms, or left the program entirely?
On the third level, you might question if the child plays easily with others. Does this child know how to enter into play with other children? Does he/she know the words to use? Do they get the time they need with a loving and supportive adult? Are they included with all the other children, or are they singled out for their challenging behaviour? Have you ever said something like, “James, everyone here is waiting for you to sit quietly? We can’t start our story until you sit nicely.”
On the fourth level, is the child able to make choices throughout the day? Most children have few opportunities to make personal choices regularly. When we move the children from one activity to another (I like to refer to this as “herding” children), they are not allowed to decide for themselves which activities they want to immerse themselves into on that particular day. Are the children in your classroom acknowledged when they do something good, or when they are misbehaving? It’s challenging to switch your thoughts, but helpful when you start catching children being good. When everyone is recognized thoughtfully and honestly when they are good, other children will see how easy it is to get the teacher’s attention!
At the top level, children need the chance to create and to expand their knowledge. Providing open-ended learning opportunities does this and so much more. Crafts do not allow for creative opportunities. There will be children who will do the craft well, and others who will avoid the activity because they know that they can’t do as nice a job as their peers. Crafts are the opportunity for children to follow directions; there is nothing creative going on. If a child is misbehaving, ask yourself if they need the chance to explore or to do a deep dive into a subject that is interesting to them?
This detective process will take time, and you will make mistakes. That’s okay. Finding out what a child needs is the first of many steps you can take to manage challenging behaviours in your classroom. Next week, we will discuss motivation and how that impacts behaviour. You will also learn about a cool tool that can help you figure out what makes your children tick.
Until next week.
Children’s Curiosity and Brain Development
In the May/June issue of The Exchange, Wendy L. Ostroff penned an article, “The Cognitive Science and Neuroscience of Young Children’s Curiosity.”
Anyone who works with children will tell you that they are ceaselessly curious. This curiosity, this need to explore and understand, is hardwired into children’s brains so they can learn about their world. In a child’s first three years of life, their brains are literal sponges. They absorb anything and everything around them. Children’s brains are ripe for learning, and it is up to us to provide environments that support their brain development.
Newness in a child’s environment immediately spawns curiosity. I’ve always said that children have a special radar that allows them to see the tiniest change in their environment. Ms. Ostroff refers to it as “novelty seeking.” As educators, we can make regular changes to our classroom environments that will support children’s curiosity and learning. Easy and affordable changes to your room can include:
- Rearranging your room
- Rotating materials and toys
- Turning a centre upside down
- Hide small surprises (shiny rocks, exciting textures, etc.) around the room
- Add loose parts that the staff and parents contribute
- Ask the children how they would like to arrange the room
- Intentionally set up problems for the children to solve
Not surprisingly, curiosity is correlated to learning and intelligence. So, the more curious a child is, the more they learn, and the more their knowledge grows. Curiosity can take the form of exploring with all the senses or asking questions.
There was a study done with preschool children where they were recorded at home during the day. Children asked an average of 76 questions PER HOUR about things they were curious about. More research has determined that the number of questions a child asks dramatically drops off when they entered the school system.
76 questions per hour? Wow.
How do you respond to the endless questions a child has? Do you become frustrated or annoyed? Your response will set the tone for learning. If you are warm, patient, and supportive, you will be nurturing their brain development. When a child asks a question, you do not necessarily need to answer it for her.
- Give them time to wonder by saying; I don’t know; I need to think about that
- Ask them what they think the answer is
- Invite them to research with you (i.e., I have a book about pandas, maybe we can find the answer here.)
- Plan an experiment around the question (i.e., let’s see if those rocks will float.)
Finally, you want to encourage curiosity because it releases Dopamine.
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that sends signals to tell your body. It is responsible for motivation and focus. Kids who have low Dopamine are often unmotivated, poorly focused, and struggle with a whole host of other issues. When Dopamine is released, children understand what they are doing more deeply and remember better. Dopamine directly impacts the Hippocampus of the brain; Dopamine helps it function better.
You can offer more Dopamine producing experiences by:
- Observing and documenting what children are asking about and incorporating it into the program
- Offer emergent experiences that grow and change with the children’s curiosity
- Build on the children’s current interests by offering new and unexplored opportunities
- Learn what the process of scientific inquiry is, and use it to research with the children https://classroom.synonym.com/8-steps-inquiry-science-12458.html
- Teach the children that it’s alright to make mistakes. Do this by role modelling.
Visit us on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CreativeChildcareConsulting/ and let us know how you are supporting curiosity in your program.
It’s that time of year when everyone starts getting excited for the wonderful days of the summer sun and of course outdoor physical fun. Summer camp is a time when both leaders and kids create lifelong memories, learn new skills, get exposed to new ideas, and have the opportunity to experience lots of time on interesting projects, games in the park, field trips, exploring outdoor nature activities and long hours of just hanging out and playing! Kids are excited about summer and will be looking forward to some fun, friendship and taking a vacation from the everyday pressure’s today's’ children face. Camp Leaders work hard to make it all happen.
Hours of planning and research goes into a summer camp program. As a camp planner for over 25 years, one of my biggest challenges was to ensure the activities I offered worked within the children’s and leaders interests and abilities. Summer camps offered many weeks that were filled with rafting, camping and river exploration. These were balanced with weeks of field trips, long lazy park days filled with games, hunts, art in the park and of course on site play days filled with interesting materials that encouraged creative play.
When planning camp activities, it is important to:
- Offer a wide variety of choices and activities that meet the broad range of children’s interests.
- Refer to child development. It’s important to remember that your 5-7 year old’s have different needs than your 8-12 year old’s. Offer some play activities that meet those interests.
- Match activities to your program philosophy and policies
- Review regulatory requirements to ensure you are meeting them.
- Develop a risk management and supervision plan.
- Break your larger group into smaller groups for easier group management, organization, and supervision.
- Include group names, banners and group cheers in your weekly planning. These small details create friendship bonds and support relationships between leaders and their groups of children.
- Check field trip locations before your trip so you know where the bathrooms are, the best place to set up your group, and to ensure the environment is safe and to create a team supervision, risk management plan.
- Your enthusiasm and energy go a long way to ensuring activity success. Engage and play with the children
Some children may attend your summer camps for weeks at a time. Introducing a variety of weekly themes, daily themes and special occasion days will keep the Leaders and children interested in camp, as well as provides a planning framework for leaders. For example, you could have weeks around themes such as:
- Pirates: children come dressed in pirate gear or use the camps dress-up clothes: use large cardboard boxes and recycled materials to create a giant pirate ship, make pirate puppets, play treasure hunt games, create their own treasure maps, make individual pirate ships,
- Jungle: children make or colour in animal masks to wear; use camouflage netting and other props to create a jungle den; play crossing crocodile-infested river game; competition to make a giraffe out of newspaper and sticky tape; use clay to make animal face fridge magnets etc.
- Backyard beach: children come dressed in 'beach' clothes (bright t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, sunglasses, floppy hats ), decorate flip-flops, make frisbees, play volleyball with large softball, water play with sprinkler balloons sponges etc., make, decorate and float paper boats in large container of water, ice cream factory with lots of toppings; experiment with making different smoothies etc.
Here are some other theme day suggestions:
Summer Fun Weekly Theme Ideas
Summer Fun Daily Theme Ideas
Art in the Park
Mission to Mars
Talent Show Week
Travel the World in 7 days
Games Galore and More
Treasure Hunter Times
Wind and Sea
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Around the World in 7 Days
Wizards and Fairies
Crazy Hair Day
Crazy Socks Day
Fear Factor Day
Cartoon Character Day
Emergency Services Day
Celebrity Look-Alike Day
Try a Trade Day
Obstacle Course Challenge Day
Pop Culture Day
Down Under Day
Water Day Wednesdays
Invent your own Holiday
Endangered Species Day
Drive-In Movie Day
Worlds Record Day
Game Show Day
Junk Yard Days
Ooppey Goopey Day
Super Hero Day
Wet and Wild Day
July Celebration Days
August Celebration Days
1. International Joke Day
1. Creative ice cream flavours day
2. Build a Scarecrow Day
20. Moon Day
27. Walking on Stilts Day
28. Fingerprints used as evidence Day
5. Disc Golf Day
11. Play in the sand day
13. International Left-Handers Day
18. Bad Poetry Day
19. Bow Day
27. Tug of war day
30. Toasted Marshmallow Day
Bringing in specialist activities from external providers is a great way to increase the variety of activities that you offer and will help to give focus to the week. Bringing in some of these external activities can become expensive, but you can balance them by:
- Offering free activities .
- Have your camp leaders’ do a personal skills inventory. What topics or activities are they subject experts on and how can you use that expertise within your camp’s theme weeks.
- Look to your circle of friends, parents and community partners: does anyone have a special skill or interest that they would be prepared to come and demonstrate for an hour or two?
Specialist activities that you might like to consider include:
- Football / tennis / basketball coaches
- Dance Instructors
- Drumming workshop
- Drama workshop
- Wildlife experts (bird of prey sanctuary, reptiles, bee-keepers association, local wildlife trust)
Need Flags or a strip of cloth to be used as a tail.
Players have a tail inserted into his/her belt or pocket that is hanging at the back-side.
All players chase one another trying to collect tails, while protecting his/her own.
Players with the most tails collected in a specified time are the winners. (Game is good in the gym or outside)
PRISONER OF WAR
Children are divided into teams.
They each select one child from each team to be the prisoner of the other team and the two prisoners are placed in jail. This can be a designated area or a chalk box if playing outside.
The teams each line-up and the object of the game are to free the prisoner from the other team.
The teams must get to the prison by going to the other team’s side to free the prisoner.
If tagged, that child then becomes a prisoner too and must go to jail.
If a child makes it to jail, however, he or she is safe as long as he is inside the prison.
The rescuer can only rescue one person at a time and can choose the right time to “break for it.”
CAPTURE THE FLAG
Need: Two flags (you can make flags with two sticks and bandanas) Divide the kids into two teams and decide on the teams’ territories. Be sure to specifically state the boundary lines of each team’s territory because once a player crosses that boundary line they are subject to being caught. Also, decide where each team’s jail will be located.
- For the first few minutes of the game, each team decides where to place its flag. It must be visible and it cannot be moved by its team. A 10-20 foot circle around the flag is a safety zone that cannot be entered by its team unless the opposing team enters the circle first.
- The object of the game is to grab the other team’s flag and carry it safely back to your team’s territory.
- Part of the team stays to guard their flag and part of the team goes on the capture mission in enemy territory.
- If a player sees an opposing team member enters his territory, he can catch him by tagging him long enough to say “Caught!” three times.
- When a player is caught, he must go to the jail area.
- The player stays in jail until one of his teammates sneaks in and tags him.
- Only one prisoner at a time can be freed.
COMMON ‘TABLE GAMES’ ARE MORE FUN OUTSIDE!
Tic-tac-toe can be scratched in the dirt and is more enticing than on paper–Hangman, too. (or use chalk for pavement)
Sketch a checker board on the sidewalk and fabricate markers out of stones and acorns.
Or just spread a blanket on the grass for Monopoly or Candyland played in a whole new venue…
Players aim at targets & award hits (singles, doubles, triples, and home runs) for striking each one.
You need a rubber or tennis ball & targets.
- Players need to decide upon a throwing line & targets—-Rocks, boxes, toys, trees, piles of leaves, old sweatshirts, hula-hoops can be targets.
When decided–for safety reasons– mark off the playing field
- Make the scoring system equal to the task.
Each target is worth a certain kind of hit. Easy targets are singles, harder ones are doubles and so on.
- Players take turns throwing at the targets.
If the target is hit, the player’s team gets the corresponding award (points).
If the target is missed, the player’s team is given one out. When the thrower has 3 outs, the next thrower comes to “bat”.
- Play as many innings as you like, keeping score.
The player with the most hits (points) gets to pick the next targets.
This can also be scored as a team effort.
BODY PART FREEZE TAG
Body part freeze tag is just like regular freeze tag except once tagged, you are not completely frozen.
- Select one or two children to be “it.”
These children run around tagging other children.
- If a child is tagged on the arm, only the arm is frozen.
If tagged on the leg, only the leg is frozen, so the child must hop on one leg.
If both legs are tagged, the child can pull himself along the ground with arms (assuming they weren’t already tagged).
- The object is to completely freeze as many as possible.
- If you want, you can have other unfreeze body parts as well.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
(Can be played outside or inside gym area)
This game is for 5 or more players and should be played outside or in an open area.
- To play, select four objects to be based and give each base a name:
“Don’t like it,” “Love it,” “It’s OK,” “Never tried it.”
- Make signs for each base to make it easy to remember which is which!
- Pick someone to be “IT.” “IT” stands in the middle and the players stand on any base they want. “IT” calls out the name of a food.
- Players then have to run to the base that describes how they feel about that food. “IT” tries to tag a player before he or she reaches the base. The player who is tagged then becomes the new “It “
Websites That are Helpful for Summer Camp Activities
STEM Activities (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
Make it with boxes
Messy Play websites
Pop Up Play and Loose Parts
Chants and songs
leader chants, campers repeat...
Everywhere we go! (Everywhere we go)
People always ask us (People always ask us)
Who we are (who we are)
Where we come from (where we come from)
So we tell them (So we tell them)
We're from ...name your camp... (we're from...)
And if they cannot hear us (And if they cannot hear us)
We shout a little louder (we shout a little louder)
It is best to start out kind quiet so that you can increase the volume a few times... this is a good chant for when you are walking somewhere.
Beat them once beet them twice
Beat them high
Beat them low
(team name) on the go!
Bazooka Bubblegum Song
She gave me a dollar
She told me to buy a collar
But I didn't buy no collar
Instead I bought some bubblegum
BAZOOKA, ZOOKA bubble gum (x2)
She gave me a quarter
She told me to tip the porter
But I didn't tip no porter
Instead I bought some bubblegum
BAZOOKA, ZOOKA bubble gum (x2)
She gave me a dime
She told me to buy a lime
But I didn't buy no lime
Instead I bought some bubblegum
BAZOOKA, ZOOKA bubble gum (x2)
She gave me a nickel
She tole me to buy a pickle
But I didn't buy no pickle
Instead i bought some bubblegum
BAZOOKA, ZOOKA bubble gum (x2)
She gave me a penny
She told me to buy some bubblegum
But I didn't buy no bubblegum
Because I'm sick of bubblegum
BAZOOKA, ZOOKA bubble gum (x2)
Song and chant websites:
Transition and Back Pocket Activities
Activities for on the bus
Have a fun and safe summer
As operators, we understand all too well that operating at maximum capacity is necessary to keep our operations running “in the zone.”
Right now, in Alberta, many child care centres are struggling to maintain the enrollment that they already have. Dreams of the program being full have been put on hold while more and more people are finding themselves out of work.
Here are some low cost and no-cost ideas to increase traffic to your centre:
During tours, make sure to communicate your differences when compared to other programs in the area. Make sure that they focus on high quality! (i.e.: we serve only organic fruits and vegetables, we offer a music program, we have a huge indoor large muscle space.) Let potential parents know just how different and wonderful you are.
Offer a satisfaction guarantee. Give your guarantee a catchy name like, “The Daisy Care Satisfied Families Guarantee.” You can promise that if a parent is not satisfied with the care they are receiving in the first 30 days, they can withdraw their child and will receive a refund of their tuition.
Print a map of your community and begin marking where your families live. You will be able to determine where many of your families reside. Once complete, research the area to find out when there are local events, festivals, or even new construction sites. You can then determine if opportunities are available for you and your program to contribute to those communities. Perhaps you can set up a children’s craft table at a local craft market or event. Maybe take part in a community parade.
Offer to write articles for your local/community paper.
Make sure your program has a Facebook page. Ask all your parents to “like” the page and make sure that you have your Facebook URL on all of your marketing information. Make sure to dedicate time to post updates, polls and useful information.
Have a referral rewards program. When you think about it, one enrollment can mean $13,000.00 or more a year! Choose an amount (between $100 and $500) cash back to families who refer to a successful enrollment. Make sure you take a picture of you handing that hundred-dollar bill to the family and post it on your Facebook page and your parent newsletter. Work will quickly get around, and families will become your best enrollment partners.
If you are looking for even more ideas, Kris Murray has a book entitled The 77 Best Strategies To Grow Your Early Childhood Program. You can order your copy at https://www.childcare-marketing.com/get-your-free-77-preschool-strategies-book and only pay for the cost of shipping.
Until next time,
Beyond the Chaos- Seeing the Beauty Behind the Mess
Many ECE’s take pride in cleanliness and orderliness in their classrooms. However, it is critical that we allow time for messy art each day! Here are the top 5 reasons to include messy art in your daily programming:
- Messy art builds nerve connections within the developing brain’s neural pathways, which paves the way for a child to complex learning tasks
- Messy art supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem-solving skills, and social interaction
- Messy art helps in developing and enhancing memory functioning
- Messy art is great for calming all children, especially those who are dealing with an undue amount of stress in their lives
- Messy art helps children learn vitally important sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry, wet, squishy etc.)
Messy, creative art is so much more than finger-painting. Messy art is an insightful, delightful stimulation of our senses and our creative being! It’s exploring colour, causal relationships, shapes and textures. It’s enjoying sensory stimulation which we all understand as being critical for a child’s well-rounded development.
Messy art allows for critical thinking and independent choice. Those skills allow children to become confident in their self-expression which in turn builds their self-esteem.
Contact us if you want to explore this with your staff team. We LOVE delivering this workshop and you will love being able to experience the joy and wonderment of messy art!
Until next time,
Offer the Ultimate Infant and Toddler Learning Opportunities
This post is all about treasure baskets and heuristic play. The term heuristic play was coined by Elinor Goldschmied (1910-2009) in the 1990s. Adults offer seated babies (who cannot move independently) a range of natural, household and recycled objects contained in a sturdy basket for exploration. This approach to infant and toddler learning is practiced around the world but is not as popular in Canada.
The choice to become an Early Childhood Educator may have had a great deal to do with your personality type. Let's face it, most of us derive personal satisfaction from caring for others and giving of ourselves to make the lives of others better. Most of us finish our work day and then have people at home that need us. Even if we live alone there are still bills to pay, housework to do, and family commitments.