High-quality child care produces a stimulating, secure and loving atmosphere for the little one.

Focusing on children's wellbeing and ecological exposures in child care centers is Essential for several reasons: Since they display exploratory behaviors that put them in direct contact with contaminated surfaces, they're more likely to be vulnerable to some contaminants found. They're also less developed immunologically, physiologically, and neurologically and are more prone to the negative effects of toxins and chemicals. Children spend a whole lot of time in child care settings. Many babies and young children spend as many as 50 hours each week, in child care.

Nationally, 13 million children, or 65 percent of U.S. kids, spend some part of the afternoon in child care and at California alone, roughly 1.1 million children five decades or younger attend child care. In this exact same condition, many adults might also be subjected as roughly 146,000 employees work 40 hours or more a week child care centers. Child care environments include substances which may be harmful for kids. Recent studies suggest that lots of child care environments might contain pesticides, allergens, volatile organic compounds from cleaning agents and sanitizers, and other contaminants which may be toxic to children's wellbeing.

Nevertheless, little is understood about what environmental and chemical exposures they might be getting in these configurations. To fill this gap, we quantified. Outcomes of the study were reported on the California Air Resources Board. Our findings help inform policies to lower accidents to children, encourage training and workshops to educate child care providers about methods to lower children's environmental exposures (ex. Using integrated pest management to decrease pesticide usage ), and search for future research.

Washing Your Baby’s Clothes
Washing Your Baby’s Clothes
Washing Your Baby’s Clothes – How to do it Rightly
Washing Dishes
Washing Dishes
Cleaning up after oneself is an important life skill
Make a Bed
Make a Bed
It might be a dying art, but learning how to make a bed is a valuable skill.
Sweep a Floor
Sweep a Floor
Give a kid a broom, and you are likely to see dirt flipping everywhere except in a pile.
Mop a Floor
Mop a Floor
Be sure to give them instructions on how to mop different floor types you may have in your home.

Age-Appropriate Preschool Planning

Episode 178 – Planning age-appropriate activities is key to having a successful preschool program. In this episode, Cheryl Hatch, founder of the blog Preschool Plan It, shares her tips for...

The post Age-Appropriate Preschool Planning appeared first on HiMama Blog - Resources for Daycare Centers.


Episode 178 – Planning age-appropriate activities is key to having a successful preschool program. In this episode, Cheryl Hatch, founder of the blog Preschool Plan It, shares her tips for...

The post Age-Appropriate Preschool Planning appeared first on HiMama Blog - Resources for Daycare Centers.

Episode 178 – Planning age-appropriate activities is key to having a successful preschool program. In this episode, Cheryl Hatch, founder of the blog Preschool Plan It, shares her tips for working with preschoolers. She emphasizes the importance of contextual learning, scaffolding and supporting preschoolers through this learning stage!  

Resources:

  • Preschool Plan It
  • Preschool Directors Facebook Group

Episode Transcript

Cheryl HATCH:

“What else do you need? What are the biggest things that you’re struggling with right now?” That’s one of my top questions that I ask and I get a lot of feedback from that. And that’s what helps me create articles and information to help them in certain areas of teaching. We need to communicate all the time and just let each other know what our needs are because we can all help each other out.

Ron SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cheryl, welcome to the Preschool Podcast!

HATCH:

Thanks, Ron!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

So, we’re delighted today to have on the show Cheryl Hatch. Cheryl is the creator and owner of Preschool Plan It, an awesome preschool-focused website, which also happens to be the winner of HiMama’ preschool blog competition that we ran.

And so we’re delighted to have Cheryl on the show today because the website has built such a natural following and is getting a really engaged audience with some really great content. And Cheryl has a lot of experience and knowledge given her background in this area, which… Cheryl, tell us more about how you got to starting Preschool Plan It and why you’ve launched this website.

HATCH:

Okay, sure! So, I actually started building [the website] in 2009. And at that point I had been teaching and directing in preschool for about 15 years. And I found that my team, as well as the teams of other directors that I used to network with, were really frustrated with the amount of time they’d had to spend looking for activities.

So, I very much like to teach in themes and topics that the children are interested in, as well as many teachers do. And it just took them hours between going to all the different places online that they can go to, whether it be other websites or social media. And it was taking hours – like, an hour to two a week. And most teachers don’t have paid planning time. Some do and that’s very much a gift. And if they have paid planning time it’s usually during naptime in a dark room where you can’t really spend a lot of time looking for things and planning really quality, hands-on activities.

And I just thought, “Why? Why are these topics not all in one page somewhere on a website?” And so I took my 15 years worth of activities that I had already been doing with preschoolers in the classroom and with my team and decided to create a website. Actually, I was going to put it in a book but I was concerned about cost because most teachers pay for things out of their own pockets.

So, my daughter recommended a website. And I laughed because I thought I would break the “interwebs” because I knew nothing about building websites. But I did find a program that helped me to do that and created a website so I could have all of my themes and activities out there for free.

And those activities and the themes and topics are actually set up so that if you’re looking for… [if] your kids are really into dinosaurs, when you click on the dinosaur-themed page every activity you could need is on there: arts, blocks, circle time, science, everything on one page.

So, my motto [while] building it was, I wanted a place where the teachers could come search for it, find it, plan it and then go do what they are amazing at, which is interacting with their kids. So, it really was out of my own frustration of wanting to save time for my team and for other preschool teachers.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

That’s awesome! I love how you took a problem that you were having and you just decided to fix it yourself and then help a lot of other teachers in the process.

So, let’s say I’m a teacher and I want to use your website, Preschool Plan It. Just tell me sort of sort of what process I would go through and how that would work, just sort of going through your website and making that a reality in my classroom.

HATCH:

Right. So, like many websites, there’s the little navigation bar on the top. And the most popular one when you go to the website, it says “Themes”. And from there there’s a little drop-down and it says, “All themes alphabetical”. You go to that page and you’ll find 140 preschool-themed topics. You click on any one of those and it opens up that page.

So, let’s say it’s [a] dinosaur theme. You click on the words that say “Dinosaur theme”, it opens up a page and you’ll find enough activities on each page to pretty much plan a full week of preschool planning. And it will have activities for all the different interest centers and areas that you might have in a preschool classroom.

And I have it alphabetical. So, art activities, suggestions for changes to your block center, circle time, hands-on circle time activities, science activities, suggested library reading books, [etc.]. So, you can just read through that, choose the activities that you want and then write them in. It’s a webpage, so it’s not downloadable, but you can just write it right into your planner and you’ll have anywhere between 20 and 30 activities on that page.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome! And I want to touch on two things that you’ve learned. And so, first of all, again, it’s awesome that you’ve kind of solved your problem and created this thing out of that challenge that you were having. I’d like to learn about what you learned through that process of creating something. And then, secondly, maybe you can tell us about what you’ve learned about preschool activities and we can get into that a little bit more. But let’s start on the first one.

HATCH:

What I’ve learned about from building a website is that, for me, it was hard. I mean, technology is not necessarily my friend. It sometimes can be my kryptonite. It’s a hard thing. But teachers and directors, we can learn hard things. And I think when we’re motivated, more passionate and we know that we’re onto doing something that’s going to make a difference for so many people there’s just a stick-to-it-ness that you need to have and that there’s so many resources out there to help you create what you want to create.

And the other thing that I learned was, by building the website, I also had a mailing list for a newsletter list at that time that was small. And I got some great ideas from teachers. So, just asking teachers what they need. As a director, asking my team what they need, they’ll tell you what they need to succeed and do their job.

And for the website it was the same thing. When I would send an e-mail and say, “What else do you need? What are the biggest things that you’re struggling with right now?” That’s one of my top questions that I ask. And I get a lot of feedback from that. And that’s what helps me create articles and information to help them in certain areas of teaching. So, I think that it’s just learning that we need to communicate all the time and just let each other know what our needs are because we can all help each other out.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome! That’s great advice for our listeners. And what about the content itself? So, you’ve spent a lot of time and seen a lot of preschool activities. What have you learned about activities in the classroom that teachers are interested in, passionate about? What’s inspiring them? Any themes or learnings there?

HATCH:

Yeah, I think that a lot has changed. I mean, I’ve been in the field for over 25 years and a lot has changed where there were very traditional themes that were done. And sometimes that still happens in a lot of programs. Like, in September and October we’re doing, “All about me,” “Back to school,” those types of themes.

But what I’ve learned, too, is, there’s a lot of… there’s just so much merit and so much benefit to really paying attention to your preschoolers and finding out what they’re interested in. What are they really into? Because when you teach in context the learning is just magnified.

So, we had my dinosaur theme – I know that’s a traditional theme in a lot of preschools. Actually, my team and I created that theme years ago because we had one little boy who, when he was nervous, his coping skill was to put his little hands up like a little T-Rex, pause, and he would kind of growl at people. So, the way that we communicated with him the first few weeks of school was talking about dinosaurs.

So, we created a whole topic and just let it grow from there based on his need. And it drew him in and helped him connect with other children who also loved dinosaurs. So, it was all in context of what he was interested in.

And the other thing that I’ve learned is, just being in the field for this long – and I’m sure many of your listeners feel the same way – is that your topic-based activities that are based on the interests of the children are how we draw children into learning. So, that’s my whole idea behind themes: my goal of teaching a theme in a classroom is not to make them an expert. Like, a dinosaur theme, my goal isn’t for them to turn into paleontologists, right? My goal is to draw them into learning so they can learn the very basics they need to be successful next year and the year after and when they hit kindergarten and first grade.

So, it’s to draw them in through a topic that really interest them where we can provide everything they need, such as fine motor skill development activities, hands-on activities, helping them develop their eye-hand coordination. So, they’re learning while they’re playing.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, we’ve learned that at home with our toddler in that he is obsessed with animals. So, basically, if we can make any activity related to animals, he will learn. And so we got him this puzzle that’s animals. And so I think he’s done it about 20 times in the last three days, which is amazing because it’s also got the alphabet, it’s got colors. He’s learning, he’s putting the puzzle together with sort of the fine motor skills. So, like, he’s learning so much.

HATCH:

Oh, so much. And he’s learning that eye-hand coordination and his facial recognition. There’s just so much foundational learning happening and he doesn’t even realize that because he just loves the animals. And that’s just the point. And that one that you said that you’re using has the alphabet on it. So, that is in context of what he’s doing, as opposed to sitting him down and saying, “This is the letter A; this is the letter P.” It’s in context of something he loves.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And the other thing I did with him this morning when we did it – because we do it every day, which is kind of fun – was I was describing to him features of the animals and kind of giving him tips. And then he would guess what it was. And he was over-the-moon excited when he could figure out what it was.

HATCH:

Right, so, there you have some science learning going on there, right? And it’s just through a puzzle. And you’re hitting anywhere from 6 to 10 different learning objectives just doing a puzzle.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And it’s so exciting when that happens.

HATCH:

It’s so awesome, it is.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And so one of the things that, as a parent and as a teacher, I think we’re often working towards is those ABC’s and those maths and counting skills, getting children ready for school. How do you how do you find teachers [and] early-childhood educators can find the right balance of learning some of those things that are important to know but in terms of how they go about doing it and what’s the right timing and that kind of thing?

HATCH:

Well, I think it also goes to… there’s a lot of pressure on teachers and directors to pull academia into preschool so much sooner. And so, I mean, I have a mantra that I say on my website a lot for people who have followed me, [they] have seen this often where, yes, we’re preparing for kindergarten but they’re not kindergartners yet. We need to let them be preschoolers.

So sometimes what happens in this pressure to get them ready for school is that we end up inadvertently – well-meaning, but inadvertently – taking kindergarten mastery skills, so skills that they need to master at the end of kindergarten, and we start having the expectation of them being successful in those skills in preschool. So, we’re kind of skipping a few stages of development by doing that.

And that might look like something where sometimes, maybe – and I know this can be controversial, sometimes it works in programs, sometimes it doesn’t – but doing worksheets in [age] three-year-old classrooms or worksheets at all. If your children don’t have the fine motor skills [and] the muscles in their hands aren’t developed they’re not going to be successful in worksheets at three and four year olds. And that’s not preparing them for kindergarten.

What would be really great, so they can hit the ground running, is to give them the skills to help develop their fine motor skills: a lot of play-dough, lacing, beads, puzzles, a lot of exposure to that to build that up first. The other thing they need in that example, say, for writing is that they need good eye-hand coordination.

So, there are a lot of hands-on activities that will help prepare them in those areas. So, I think we need to just be cognizant that we don’t want to skip over the stages that they need to get them to the academic area that we want them to get to.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, because if you don’t do those foundational things they’ll be missing some of the key pieces to be successful when they reach kindergarten.

HATCH:

Right, and it’s just looking at the goals. So, our goal is to prepare them for kindergarten. But preparation doesn’t mean taking kindergarten activities and having them do them now at [age] four or doing them now at three. I mean, if they’re ready for them, by all means. By all means we should move forward and have things available for them. But I think that when our expectations, our goals in preschool are the same goals of what they need to meet at the end of kindergarten I think we’re kind of missing the mark there.

But I think there’s just a lot of pressure to be able to show what children have learned. “Are they writing?” I’ve seen and talked to some teachers where the expectation of them as teachers is to have children actually be a little proficient in reading sight words in pre-[kindergarten]. And I think if that’s our goal we need to back that up. First, it’s letter recognition, letter formation, giving them the hands-on activities so that they can do that.

So, it’s all in context. We can’t read until we understand what a letter is. And in preschool, everything’s a symbol, right? I mean, a triangle, we know it’s a triangle and it’s a shape. But to them it’s a symbol that has three lines on it. So, in context, they need to be able to have more experience using shapes throughout the day as opposed to just drilling them on, “What is this shape?”

SPREEUWENBERG: 

So, there’s, like, a sequence or a ladder of learning that really, I guess, strengthens the development as you get through each of those stages or learnings or activities or what have you.

HATCH:

Exactly, it’s a scaffolding. I mean, it’s one-builds-on-another. And there’s always… with growth and development there’s always a six-to-eight month window where you may have some four-and-a-half-year-olds that are… their skills have developed more quickly. I mean, there’s a stage that all children go through, with the exception of children that may have a developmental disability.

Other than that the children go through the same stages but it’s at their own timing. So, you may have one four-year-old who… maybe their fine motor skills are six to eight months behind someone of their age peer. So, we need to just know where each of our students are so that we can provide them with the activities to get them to that next stage.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome. And to kind of make this a little bit more [of a] reality, and I know you mentioned a few activities there, but if I’m a teacher and let’s say I’m working in a pre-K class and I am getting my children prepared for kindergarten, what are some activities that, on the surface, might not be as obvious for preparing them for kindergarten but may be?

HATCH:

Right. Well, I think in pre-K, one of the big focuses is them writing their name. And letter recognition becomes a big focus for many teachers and parents. And I think what we can do is, teaching them letters in context of where it’s going to be really important to them, which the most important thing to every child is their own name – they love their own name.

So, any opportunity that you have for them to print their own name, even if they don’t know how yet, encouraging them… like, if they’re sitting down to an art project [you have] set up, asking them, “Write your name on your paper so that we know whose picture is who’s,” and just having them practice it. And if they don’t know, printing their name for them in front of them and reciting each letter, that’s something that is going to be very meaningful to them and they’re going to watch you do that. And the more modeling of that you do, eventually they will start doing it on their own.

The other thing is, and especially with letters: pre-K kids love to write lists. Even if it’s not legible yet, it’s okay. There’s a whole stage of writing where it starts out as scribbles and little lines. Have clipboards out in every center. We have them in the block center; we have them in the writing center, clipboards with paper, note cards, notebooks, every opportunity they have. Having their own homemade journals in your science activity centers so they can draw pictures and record observations.

Any opportunity for them to use writing tools and paper. And the more exposure they have to that, and especially clipboards – if you give your children clipboards they will use them all day long in pre-K. And that is an awesome opportunity for them to just practice their writing, as opposed to sitting down with a worksheet where they don’t have maybe the eye-hand coordination to be able to trace letters and that type of thing. You’re giving them the opportunity to develop those fine motor skills where they make that big, huge A for “Allen”. And eventually they’ll write it smaller and smaller but you’re giving the opportunity for them to practice it at the level they’re at.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And this is something I’ve learned a lot about personally over the last year or so is just in terms of finding the right balance of showing a child how to do something and saying, “Okay, you go do it,” versus, “I’m going to do it all and you just watch me and see how it’s done,” versus I think the optimal level, which is kind of doing it with them and supporting them and guiding them and letting them really take the lead. It seems like, to me, that’s naturally where the best learning happens.

HATCH:

Oh, absolutely. And even in that example we were talking about with writing their name, many times you’ll ask a child [to do it and] they’ll say, “I don’t know how,” and to encourage them and say, “Well, you just write it the best that you can.” And they may want you to write that first letter so they can see it. And then the next time you say, “Okay, Ron, can you write your R for Ron?” Just encouraging them to do that in every opportunity that they have. And I think it also encourages them to take risks and to not feel there’s it’s right or wrong, that they’re trying and they’re taking one more step to master that skill.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, that’s a good point. Cheryl, if I’m interested in checking out your website, where can I go to find it?

HATCH:

Well, the website www.Preschool-Plan-It.com. That was back in the day, ten years ago, when having dashes to separate the names was the thing.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Part of your learning experience with websites, right?

HATCH:

That’s right, that was another learning experience, putting dashes in your website name. And then also for preschool directors [and] for our childcare directors, I actually have a Facebook group that’s very organically active. It’s an amazing group of directors where they all get together and if they have any questions, if they’re dealing with any challenges within their team or in their classroom or need some ideas, they’ll go in and ask. And all these other directors will just jump in and say, “Here’s what we’ve tried. This might work for you.” They’re a really great group of directors in there. So, if any childcare directors are looking for some support in that respect, there is a Facebook group: www.facebook.com/PreschoolDirectors, no dashes in that.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool, very cool. And you’re also on Pinterest and Instagram, is that right?

HATCH:

Yes!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Nice. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, the website is www.Preschool-Plan-It.com. Cheryl, thank you so much for joining us on the Podcast. And thank you so much for sharing all this great material to early-childhood educators and directors in creating that community!

HATCH:

Thank you so much, Ron!

The post Age-Appropriate Preschool Planning appeared first on HiMama Blog - Resources for Daycare Centers.


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