Question: I’m a new director at a private child care center, and I really want my staff to get on board with raising the quality we are providing children and families. Some of the staff has been there forever, and basically just acts like babysitters. We have some new staff too, but they are young, don’t have much experience, and tend to follow the lead of the old timers. In the midst of everything else I have to do each day, how can I get my staff to take their jobs more seriously and professionally, and teach them what they need to know? Answer: Sadly, yours is not an uncommon problem in Buncombe county, where many – if not most
Question: I’m a Head Start teacher, and my class this year has more children than ever who don’t speak much or any English. It’s hard for them to learn the rules or even make friends, and I worry that they will still be behind once they start kindergarten. What can I do to help them learn English faster? It’s also hard to engage with their parents, because even with the ones who do speak some English there are often still communication or cultural barriers. Answer: It’s no surprise that you’re seeing this trend in your class; a recent national survey indicates that nearly a third of children in Head Start programs across the country are dual language learners, or DLLs.
Question: Can you explain the difference between daycares, child development centers, and preschools? People use all these different terms when they ask what I’m planning for my baby, and I don’t understand what they are actually referring to. Answer: Folks are often confused about these terms, which are sometimes used interchangeably, although they do have slightly different meanings. Many early childhood professionals dislike the term “daycare,” because of its connotation of babysitting that belies the amount of hard work, preparation, and expertise that qualified teachers bring to the field. However, many families often still use this term without quite knowing what it means. “Daycare” usually refers to a center-based or home-based setting where there is little or no expectation of
Question: I’m a toddler teacher and my director has been talking about how I need to do lesson plans for my kids. My center doesn’t have a particular curriculum we have to use, and honestly I think babies and toddlers are too young for lesson plans. By the time we get through all the diapering, feeding, changing clothes, going outside, and napping, we hardly have time for anything but just loving on them. Aren’t toddlers too young for a lot of formal lessons? Answer: We are in whole-hearted agreement that toddlers are, indeed, too young for “formal lessons,” or any type of instruction that involves sitting and listening to teachers for long periods. Toddlers and young children are hands-on learners,
Question: My two-year-old son is getting ready to start child care, and my friends have told me he needs to stop using his pacifier because it won’t be allowed in the classroom. Is this true? He’s used to having it whenever he’s upset or goes to sleep, and it seems like his first few weeks in childcare will be stressful and he’ll need it more, not less. Answer: Policies about children having pacifiers and “lovies” in classrooms vary from center to center, and are unfortunately not always child-centered. Many directors and teachers have concerns about the challenges that these items present in the face of sanitation rules they need to follow – for example, if a child with a pacifier
Question: My child’s teacher gave me a form the other day asking permission to get her evaluated for speech delays. I know my daughter is shy and doesn’t talk much in unfamiliar situations, but I don’t think she has any delays! Do I have to have her evaluated? What happens if she won’t talk to the tester either? She’s 3 years old and has only been at this center for a few months. Answer: It’s always upsetting when someone expresses concern about your child’s development, whether or not it’s one you share. Sometimes attentive teachers can tend to err on the side of caution out of a desire to make sure
Question: I’m the parent of a 4-year-old, and I keep getting questions from my friends and family about what I’m doing to get her “ready for kindergarten.” I’ve been lucky to be able to stay home with her, so she hasn’t had to be in day care. Just this year she’s been going to a half-day mixed-age program at our church, and she loves it, but I know it’s much different from what she’ll find next year. I’m worried that she might not know everything they will expect her to know when she starts school. How can I tell if my daughter is “ready,” and if she’s not, what can I do now to get her
Question: My director is always bugging me to take my kids outside, even when it’s cold or wet. I don’t mind that much myself, but as soon as they get out there they get wet and muddy, and half the time they don’t have clothes to change into, and their parents get upset. We have a pretty big multi-purpose room I can take them to for gross motor, so it’s not like they never get to run around. Is there actually a rule about this? Answer: Licensing laws do require an hour outside every day for a full-day program, weather permitting. And going outside every day has huge benefits for children and teachers in terms of mood, physical health, and
Intentionality Question: I am a director at a large center, and some of my teachers are showing signs of burn out. They seem uninterested in their jobs, and are not receptive when I try to talk with them about doing something different. How can I help them become more engaged and feel supported? Answer: Being a teacher is stressful, no doubt about it. Many teachers do struggle with feeling burnt out due to many factors. As a director, it can also be hard to meet all your teachers’ needs in ways that feel effective. One thing that can help, though, is thinking intentionally. The authors of a book called Coaching with Powerful Interactions talk about this idea, as
Question: Ever since I had my first child, I’ve been taking care of my kids and some friends’ kids while they are at work. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a big basement and fenced yard, and I love having babies around. I’ve actually had a number of other friends ask if I can take their kids too. I’ve thought about opening a real center in my home, but that seems like a huge undertaking. Is there something in the middle I can do? Answer: The arrangement you’re describing is what we call family/friend/neighbor care – informal child care arrangements where an unlicensed caregiver takes in the children of people they know.