Our hearts and thoughts go out to the early learning and child care community, families and everyone in our global community who has been impacted by COVID-19.
When the unexpected arises, we are sometimes forced to shift priorities and look at what we are working on, and perhaps pivot completely. While your plans may have changed for the immediate future, this could be an opportunity to grow yourself and your team. We are here for you and will continue to be here for you to provide you and your team with as much support as possible in the current circumstances.
During this fluid and uncertain time, as we adjust to the new normal of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantine we are sending our best wishes for everyone to stay healthy, calm, and strong. It’s a time for us to stand together….we have your back.
Our Creative Team has been working overtime to find innovative ways to support you. We are expanding our services to fill the gap left when support service contracts for Early Learning and Child Care were not renewed. Whatever you need we are here for you!
We would like to give a big shout out welcome to Shannon Heinrich formerly from the Family Resource Facilitation Program in Calgary as she joins our team on a more regular basis.
CREATIVE BUSINESS SOLUTION
Creative Childcare Consulting is preparing to provide a wide range of business supports for childcare programs across Alberta. As small business owners you will be called upon to lead the recovery from the Coronavirus impact. Success will depend on staying connected with each other, our communities, and the resources we need.
As much as we would like to think differently Early Learning and Child Care Programs are businesses with business-related responsibilities.
CCC specialists have the expertise and extensive experience in all areas of running successful early learning and child care program; as small business owners and/or executive directors in not-for-profit programs. We understand that each client is unique and the level of business supports required to support an established program or to navigate the licensing process varies. The process begins with an initial consultation to determine the level of business support services required.
Creative can help you transition into a business owner with the knowledge, tools and experience to expand and grow a successful business.
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." — John Quincy Adams
“COVID 19 has changed the way our world looks and functions.” Once our professional worlds begin functioning again, we will need strong leaders to help us adjust to our new normal.
What kind of leader are you?
What are your strengths, and where could you use support?
Making the transition from where you are right now to how you envision leading your team of educators in the future will require new skills and enhanced leadership capacities.
The future is unknown, but you can strengthen your skills and position yourself for future success.
Creative’s leadership team is here to help you however we can.
We will be launching “Creative Leadership Solutions” a series of Leadership Training Sessions right across the Province. Watch for announcements for training opportunities in your Region.
Establish principles concerning the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued.
Create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.
Set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives.
Unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action; put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go or how to get there.
Create opportunities for success.
Inspire a Shared Vision
Passionately believe that you can make a difference.
Envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become.
Breathe life into team visions and get everyone to see exciting possibilities for the future.
Challenge the Process
Search for opportunities to change the status quo.
Look for innovative ways to improve the organization.
Experiment and take risks.
Know that risk-taking involves mistakes and failures. Be OK with that.
Accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities
Enable Others to Act
Foster collaboration and build spirited teams.
Actively involve others.
Understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts.
Strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity.
Strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.
Encourage the Heart
Accept that accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work.
Keep hope and determination alive.
Recognize the contributions that individuals make.
Make people feel like heroes.
Leadership checklist - Complete the following checklist to identify your leadership practices.
I practice standards of excellence and set an example for others to follow.
I advocate safety and wellness through my actions and words.
I intentionally lead my team in achieving principled results.
I inspire passion, optimism and purpose.
My personal communication cultivates positive, fulfilling relationships.
I foster a team community in which we are committed to each other and to the pursuit of a common goal.
I exercise responsible freedom, empowering each team member to achieve our potential.
I proactively engage in the personal growth of individuals on my team.
I facilitate meaningful group interactions.
I set, coach to and measure goals that define excellence.
I recognize and celebrate the greatness in others.
I commit to daily continuous improvement.
What skills do you need to strengthen to position yourself for future success?
When you care for children, getting your information and training from credible sources is imperative.
To help leaders and educators meet their training needs, we have added many new workshops to our menu. Check out our website for a complete workshop listing. www.creativechildcareconsulting.ca
We now have the ability to deliver workshops using Zoom if this is an option that appeals to you give us a call to set something up.
“DO SOMETHING TODAY THAT YOUR FUTURE WILL THANK YOU FOR”
Book a Creative Workshop
Infant/Toddler Preschool OSC Leadership FCC
Self-Care for the Early Learning Educators
Burnout is common among early learning educators. We can’t possibly give children % every day when we ourselves are not at our best.
Self-care for early learning educators offers practical strategies, tips and tools to help educators deal with the stress in their own lives. Managing life’s challenges in healthy ways allows participants to take better care of themselves and their overall health. Facilitators together with participants will explore topics through small group discussion, self-reflection and activities that will help educator’s recharge, relax and become the best they can
Helping Children Manage Stress
Research shows that stress among children is estimated to have increased 45% over the past 30 years. By helping children learn positive coping strategies to deal with stress, we can help build their resiliency and prevent stress from escalating to distress, anxiety and meltdowns.
Everyone handles stress differently the key is to find what works best for each child. Making good decisions and problem-solving are important skills for children to learn. Perhaps, more importantly, learning how to recover from a bad decision; figuring out the next steps, how to fix it, make amends, learn the lesson and move on.
Facilitated group discussion and hands-on activities will guide participants to better understand the impact stress has on a child’s coping skills and how this affects behaviour and learning. Participants will learn concrete strategies to help reduce and effectively manage some of the stress in children’s lives and how to adapt these strategies in the early learning environment.
HOW CAN WE HELP CHILDREN HANDLE STRESS
By: Traudi Kelm
We all experience stress at one point or another, and it’s a normal part of life but what happens when we encounter it every day? Dealing with long-term stress, such as the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, can cause harm to our health as our body never receives the signal to calm down.
Children are also dealing with the stress that has impacted their daily lives. Once things begin to settle, our programs and classroom re-open and children re-enter educators should be watching for any changes in behavior such as excessive crying, unhealthy sleeping habits, avoidance of activities they once enjoyed, an increase in challenging behaviours and unexplained body aches. Children may say that they have headaches, or that their tummy hurts, or that they don’t feel well. They may seem sad or panicky. They might get angry more easily. Stressed children may start fights.
Research shows that stress among children is estimated to have increased 45% over the past 30 years. By helping children learn positive coping strategies to deal with stress, you can help build their resiliency and prevent stress from escalating to distress, anxiety and meltdowns.
Everyone handles stress differently the key is to find what works best for each child.
Making good decisions and problem solving are important skills to learn. Perhaps more importantly learning how to recover from a bad decision; figuring out the next steps, how to fix it, make amends, learn the lesson and move on.
Given all the discussion about coronavirus, most children have heard about it and have questions. So … what can you do? Think about what children absolutely need to know to understand what the virus is and what to do about it. Try to strike a balance between answering questions well enough without fueling the flame of anxiety.
Children’s stress comes from many different things.
Change is difficult for children
Moving to a new home or childcare program
Starting childcare for the first time can be hard
Having too much to do is stressful
Children need some quiet time
Feeling different from other children
Being teased or bullied
Fighting or arguing among family members
Not getting along well with brothers, sisters or other children
Having trouble with adult expectations
Being yelled at by family, friends or educators
Family break-ups causes stress that lasts for a long time
When children feel lonely and unloved
Spending time with children developing a positive relationship is the most important thing you can do. Listen to them when they talk to you. Try to understand how they feel. Do things together, share ideas, have fun it will help them to feel that they belong.
Here are some suggestions that can help you reduce stress for the children in your program:
Have a consistent positive arrival routine
Greet each child by name as they arrive
Provide opportunities for peer interaction
Laugh and enjoy being with the child
Set aside individual time with each child to share good times and problems
Hugs and signs of affection
Provide time daily for outdoor gross motor activities
Provide extended periods of time for free time to play
Offered a variety of familiar, healthy, well-balanced food choices in social, unrushed time period
Provide choices about what food to eat and in which order
Support and acceptance for strong emotions Provide access to personal objects that are soothing
Teach acceptable strategies for expressing emotion
Establish a regular rest time routine with time to relax
Provide alternative quiet activities if doesn’t sleep
Consistently implement positive guidance strategies rather than negative consequences for challenging behaviour
Provide choices about participating in routine and group or adult-led activities
Support child to make alternative choices when alone-time is needed
Support child to carry out tasks and routines and meet expectations
Feeling in control reduces stress
Feeling out of control escalates stress.
BUILDING YOUR TOOL KIT
Activities that you might like to try with the children.
The Stress Stoplight
Use this as a “check-in” with the children. Have it readily available at the centre and children can point to it to let the adults know how they are feeling.
The same idea as a traffic light, when one reaches to red (stop!), that means they are stressed. Yellow (Change!) use the tools. Green (Go!) I can cope.
Standing or sitting, stretch arms out wide, wide, wide. Slowly bring arms forward, cross in front. Each hand holds onto the opposite shoulder. Squeeze, rock and cuddle the child in your arms.
Cloud Push (to stretch out tight muscles)
We are going to practice stretching up and pushing the clouds away. Stand tall. Place your hands on your hips. Bring one arm way up over your head and stretch it straight up. Try and reach a cloud and push it away. Push, push, push! Now let your arm fall slowly to your side. Bring the other arm up and push the cloud. Push, push, push! Now let your arm fall slowly to your side. Lift both arms up. Clasp hands together; turn the palms up and push and bounce the cloud. Slowly, slowly, let your arms float gently back to your sides.
Stand at attention or sit up straight with hands along sides. Raise shoulders up to your ears. Hold. Let the shoulders drop. While your shoulders go up, say, “Who.” When you drop your shoulders, say, “Knows.” Repeat five times.
Deep Breathing (to slow down the body and quiet the mind).
Get into a comfortable position, either lying flat on your back on sitting comfortably with both feet flat on the floor and if you like, close your eyes. We are going to practice breathing slowly and deeply. Imagine you have a balloon in your tummy. Place one hand below your belly button. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose to a count of four. Feel the balloon fill up with air. When the balloon is full, breathe out slowly, using a count of four, to flatten the balloon. Your hand may rise and fall as the balloon fills and empties.
1. Slowly blow up the balloon …. 1 ….2 …. 3 …. 4 ….
2. Now, slowly blow out and flatten the balloon …. 1 …. 2 …. 3 …. 4 ….
3. Repeat five times and then breathe normally.
Remember to breathe out as slowly as you breathe in. Breathing in deeply without relaxed slow exhalation can lead to dizziness or hyperventilation.
Go Tight - Go Loose
Stand at attention, hands along sides, fingers pointing down. Make a fist with each hand, squeeze each hand tight. Squeeze… Squeeze… Squeeze… Relax. Now, while you squeeze your fists again, tighten your arms to squeeze your body, Squeeze…Squeeze… Squeeze… Relax. Now, this time also squeezes your legs together while making a fist and squeezing your arms together, Squeeze… Squeeze… Squeeze. Relax. Repeat. Shake out your hands, arms and legs. Enjoy the sense of relaxation.
For more information access the Kids Have Stress Too! TM is a program of the Psychology Foundation of Canada website at: www.kidshavestresstoo.org
HOW ARE YOU DOING?
By: Traudi Kelm
It has been a particularly difficult time the world is changing and we are all caught up in that change.
Have you been taking care of yourself?
I would like to say “yes,” but when it comes down to it, I have trouble listing the ways I do. I enjoy a couple of nice walks every day, that being said in reality I am somewhat forced into it - we have a puppy. She has been good at getting us to take a few breaks during the day and slowing down. Otherwise, I am mostly caught up in work. I do know that taking care of myself mentally, physically and emotionally is extremely important and it doesn’t have to be difficult. It does, however, take practice and patience. I think I may be getting better at it.
Here are 10 practical things to remember when practising self-care.
When in an emotionally stressful position…like right now with Coronavirus forcing us to self-isolate and social distance. Remember the three “P’s”: It isn’t permanent, it isn’t pervasive, and it isn’t personal.
Establish and enforce personal and professional boundaries: Saying “No” to emotions and responsibilities that don’t belong to you is an important act of self-love. Saying “yes” too much (when we really want to say “no”) can lead to resentment, burnout and increased stress. It’s been very difficult saying ”No” to my children but it is the right thing to do
Focus on the four core components of resilience: Adequate sleep, good nutrition, regular physical activity and active relaxation.
Nurture positive relationships: Make positive connections with those around you that nurture your sense of self and well-being. Limit your availability to those around you that you find emotionally depleting….you know who that is.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems: Everything in life is impermanent. The crisis will pass with time. We can make it through this. Change is a part of living. Be brave, be strong, be safe, be calm.
Step out of “Auto-Pilot”: Move toward your goals with decisive actions. Are you really seeking the things you want and desire in life or are you just doing “what is expected”
Stay curious: Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Having a sense of curiosity and wonder promotes increasing enjoyment, improves relationships and builds empathy for ourselves and others.
Avoid “should”: Using the word “should” often leads to judgment and critical thoughts of ourselves or others. To nurture a positive view of yourself, be mindful of these critical thoughts. Try replacing “I should…” with “I can…”, or “I want to…”. See if you can feel the difference!
Avoid “All or Nothing” thinking: Keep things in perspective. Remember, nothing in this world is permanent and change is a constant part of life. Rarely are things ALL good or ALL bad.
Focus on the Good. Practising gratitude reduces stress, improves relationships, decreases depressive symptoms and builds resilience.
Make a list of all of the things you are grateful for and hang it in a place where you can see it often.
Good or bad, we are all being impacted by COVID 19. While many people are stressing out, not sleeping, or worried about the future; other are seeing this as a time to improve their lives. Here are a few things you can do right now to make life a little better.
Limit the amount of news you are consuming. Stay in touch; but perhaps you listen to the news first thing in the morning or at supper time. It is easy to constantly watch the developments online or on television, but it is also a lot of negative information to absorb daily.
Stay in touch with family and friends. Just because we need to self-isolate, doesn’t mean that we cannot connect with the people we love. Use Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, or whatever platform works the best for you. We need to laugh and connect with others. Meet your friends for tea time Tuesday and Thursday at 2 pm. It will be good for your heart and soul.
Distract yourself. If COVID 19 and its implications keep creeping into your thoughts, try distracting your mind. Have an impromptu dance party, watch a silly YouTube video or bake a batch of Aggression Cookies (see the recipe below.) If you tell yourself to stop thinking about the virus, you are will likely keep thinking out the virus. If you distract yourself, you can make an easier break from your worrying thoughts.
Choose what you’d like to focus on. If you have wanted to improve a skill, now is the time. If you have several unfinished projects; take the time to complete them. Thanks to digital books, audiobooks and online sources, you can read, listen and learn about things you have always wanted to!
Create goals for yourself. Have you been promising yourself that you would start a good exercise habit? Do you want to learn how to make bread? Do you want to improve your observation skills? Now is the time to create new habits that will sustain and support you during and after this health crisis is over. Remember to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Relevant and Timely. For example, I am going to begin practising mediation (specific) each morning (measurable) with my sister (accountable) to help calm my mind (relevant) beginning tomorrow (timely.)
Celebrate your successes and accomplishments! Once you finish that project, or a complete course, or have established a good habit, let the world know. Keep up to date on Creative Child Care Consulting’s website; we love our followers and want to hear about your successes. We will open up a post for you to share your good news.
These Homemade Oatmeal Cookies Will Help You Relieve Stress
The stress relief for this recipe comes from the act of making the cookies. Mixing the butter into the dough works like one of those stress-relief balls, but with a plus: You get to eat it at the end.
Oatmeal Aggression Cookies
1 1/2 cup butter
3 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Measure and add all of the ingredients into a bowl.
Use your hands to mix, mash, and squeeze the dough until the butter is fully incorporated.
Roll the dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
HOW TO HAVE GREAT BOOKS IN YOUR CLASSROOM FOR FREE (or on the cheap)
By: Sharon Ness
Did you know that your local library is an amazing source of books? Some larger cities offer free library cards to all their residents. Other communities charge a reasonable fee for a library card. I live in Chestermere, and my library card with the Marigold System cost $25.00 per year.
Your local library offers other brilliant opportunities! Many libraries have book sales. Below is a picture of 200, mostly hard covered, children’s books in excellent condition. I paid exactly $200.00 for them all.
Edmonton Public Library has a Books2Buy Program. Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Lacombe, Parkland and Wood Buffalo Libraries have regular book sales. Contact your local branch for dates and times.
Did you know that your local library will also pull books on your behalf? For example, if you want to have books for your room about spiders, construction vehicles and unicorns, you can call your library, tell them the age of children you work with and ask if they call pull some books for you to pick up later. This doesn’t cost you a dime! You come into your library, ask for the books, check them out and go on your way.
Librarians are always happy to help. While you’re there, check the free programs and other opportunities that are offered and check out a book or two that you would love to read.
What a win-win situation for everyone! You get to provide your children with books they are interested in, and you are rotating the books in your room on a regular basis. Please be considerate of others and make sure that your children understand how to handle books properly and that you are carefully supervising the children while they are in your book corner. Children at a very young age can be taught how special books are and learn to use them so that they are not damaged.
ARE YOU STAYING IN TOUCH WITH YOUR CHILDREN?
By: Sharon Ness
On the news, there have been stories of how teachers all over are connecting with their students despite the social distancing we need to observe.
There is an online video of teachers holding a parade through the neighbourhood where their students live. Perhaps this is not feasible from a child care standpoint, but if you are a provider in a small community, you might be able to drive by and honk your horn!
Many programs are holding daily circle time or story time via Facebook Live. If you have the ability, you can reach out to your children via your program’s Facebook page.
Record a video. Many of you may remember Romper Room, where Miss Betty would look into her magic mirror and mention all the names of the children that were watching. I would wait patiently for Miss Betty to say my name. Imagine how delighted your children would be to receive a short video from you where you could say hello, and mention their names in the process?
Send a card. How wonderful would it be for your children to receive something in the mail from you? A homemade card, drawing or picture of you and your cat would mean the world to the children in your room. While you’re at it, make sure you include your favourite playdough recipe for their parents so that the children can enjoy a fine motor and sensory experience.
Do you have any other creative ideas to connect with your children during the COVID 19 outbreak?
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
International Play Association Canada: Statement on COVID 19
Submitted by: Marjorie Cole
Play is a fundamental necessity for children. We know from research and practice that play nurtures a child’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual development. During times of crisis, children benefit from play as a means to explore their emotions as well as to make sense of and cope with environmental anxiety. Through this process they develop resilience and build self-confidence which will help them navigate life’s challenges.
This spring Canadians are escalating the fight against a significant global challenge: the Covid-19 pandemic. When we listen to our public health authorities and governments, we make our neighbourhoods safer and become part of the solution. This reduces risk to ourselves, our children, loved ones and the broader community.
Our focus on defeating the virus means some typical play enablers are no longer available. For example, numerous provinces explicitly recommend against play dates and sleepovers. Some municipalities across the country are closing playgrounds and indoor playspaces temporarily. Parks are being closed by the federal government as well as some provinces and municipalities. We encourage you to consult official online statements from your provincial and local health authorities for up to date recommendations in your area.
When we add social distancing, limited numbers at public gatherings and self-isolation to the mix of recommendations, it’s clear that it’s no longer business as usual for play. With extended school closures and many parents teleworking or on a work hiatus we are experiencing huge shifts in our daily lives. Play needs to be a part of that shift.
At IPA, each of us is doing her/his best to play and support play on a daily basis as well as to be alert and open to playful opportunities. We invite you to do the same and share your best play ideas and adventures within your networks.
We have a bias to outdoor play at IPA Canada but we know that the outdoor focus may not be possible for some with the measures in place to combat Covid-19. Play is great wherever it takes place! For some good ideas and play options, please read this post by UK play advocates and friends, Tim Gill and Penny Wilson – Play in the time of coronavirus (over 1,300 shares on Facebook).
Thank you to all Canadians involved in the fight against Covid-19! Together our collective actions are making the difference in our communities.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS ARE GREENING IT UP!
By: Diane McKean
Greening it Up! It means different things to different groups and regions. I have been working with a group of grades 3-6 students who helped develop the term Greening it Up! This group associates this title with environmental issues that are important to them. The three big issues they have identified are:
Nature and the impacts of gardening.
This group of children are mobilizing actions teams as they use teamwork to create projects that are supporting their passion. These children have also mobilized parents and community members for information and support on their projects.
Here are some lessons we have learnt and a few websites that are good resources if you are interested in finding out more.
Nature and Gardening
Educators are now using nature as teacher, the outdoors as the classroom, and bringing the outdoors in to enhance the learning environment. They are using nature as a tool that provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem-solving, and STEM education. Interacting with natural environments allows children to learn by doing and experiment with new ideas.
How do we ignite that passion? Indoor/outdoor gardens are a wonderful way to use nature in your programs, reconnect children with the natural world and the true source of their food, and teach them valuable gardening and agricultural concepts. Gardening activities support school learning by building skills that integrate with several subjects, such as math, science, art, health and physical education, and social studies, as well as several educational goals, including personal and social responsibility.
April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In honour of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals to shape the future of 21st-century environmentalism. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Here are some sites that not only share the history of Earth Day but offer ideas for projects. Energize your group by posting facts about Earth Day and perhaps plan a centre event or events leading up to the day
Climate change is an important topic that children want to understand. Older school-aged children want to be involved with issues that are important to them and activities that enable them to be locally and globally part of the solution. Topics like Earth Day and Climate change provide opportunities for some rich project-based learning opportunities. It’s important to empower children to protect the planet so they feel like they’re making a difference.
Here are some great websites that provide a number of ideas for project-based learning ideas on climate change.
As educators, we have a responsibility to support children in developing a deep love for nature as there is a collective benefit to children, educators and the community when children are engaged and take ownership of outdoor environments. Children are the stewards of the future. We need them to be passionate about our environment and our climate.