During my observations in the different classrooms at “The childcare Center”, I learned about the proper environment, the fundamentals of the teachers lesson plans, their health and safety regulations, their approach to guidance and discipline, and overall quality childcare. The center has eight different levels of age groups; each of them has their own curriculum based on their age and developmental needs. This curriculum changes and has a new theme each month that helps the lead teachers to be able to start their lesson plans each week. From infants all the way to pre-K the lesson plans include fine motor, gross motor, art and sensory, math and manipulatives, music and movement, language including both signing and Spanish. Upon entering the center there are two sets of double doors, the first set are unlocked, the second set are locked and the parent has to either have an assigned key fab or be let in by one of the staffed member, if it is not one of the regular parents or guardians picking up the child, they must present a picture ID and be on the Childs Emergency Contact Form in the child’s file.
Each child and staff member has their own four digit pin to clock in and out of the building to help let the staff know how many children are in the building and where they are located. Also, each room is equipped with a security camera that is easily viewed by parents if they just want to stop in to see how their child’s day is going without disrupting their day. This showed that the center had well thought out safety plans and the environment was secure. Each room was also equipped with a fire alarm, a carbon monoxide detector, as well as the safety routine in case of a fire or natural disaster emergency. The staff is always cheerful, warm, and friendly during each visit. While walking down the main hallways the first things I noticed was all of the children’s pictures and art work covering the brightly colored walls. This showed that the teachers are proud of the pictures the students create.
I noticed the rooms were very neat and clean and each of the rooms had a posted weekly cleaning checklist. This list included washing the walls, cleaning the bathroom, three steps (soapy water, rinse, bleach water) each of the toys, and cleaning the sinks and shelves with disinfectant. When entering a classroom the teachers always acknowledge both the parent and child and try to assist in every way possible for a smooth and easy drop off or pick up. With each room following a posted schedule it makes it easier for teachers, children, and parents to follow a daily routine to know in what order the day goes. For example, the first few days of Johnny’s first week he has a rough drop off. The teachers are learning his likes and dislikes, the teacher picks up Johnny holds him up and says “wave bye to mommy and daddy, blow them kisses, they will be back very soon right after nap”. When knowing the order of the day and when parents pick up their child it helps to let the child know ok mom and dad will be here right after nap or right after outside time.
All of the classrooms are required to go outside even if it is only for five minutes. When going out the playground door the playground is split into two areas one for ages infant to age 2 ½ and the other side ages 2 ½ to Pre-K; each area has age appropriate equipment that is suitable for their stage of growth and development. Every parent and Child care center a like may use a different form of discipline. At “The Childcare Center” their policy is redirection and positive reinforcement. The teachers will not use the word “NO” or put a child in time out. For example, when a child was throwing a toy instead of playing with them, the preschool teacher explained that we can throw a ball when we are outside but; toys should remain on the ground or in our hands. Another example would be if a toddler was trying to climb on a table, the teacher removes the child from the table and explains that we keep our feet on the floor.
The teachers at the center would focus on the child’s positive actions opposed to the negative. I saw that the staff praised and encouraged the children often without using any form of time out or negative words. As a lead teacher they take on many responsibilities from writing lesson plans, following curriculum, preparing art projects ahead of time, lead and teach children, overseeing their assistants and ensuring they are following the licensing rules and procedures, and keeping a clean and safe environment at all times. To keep each classroom in ratio sometimes there will be one or two assistants that will take on the duty of primary caregiver of one or more children depending on the ratio in the room. Many of the assistants have little experience in the child care and are currently in college. The best way to know if the person is a good fit it to do a working interview. During a working interview the applicant will be placed in one or more rooms to see how they respond to the children as well as how the children respond to them.
Most of the assistants don’t have more than a high school diploma; but they are required to be CPR certified, and maintain training hours throughout the year. Infant A starts with babies as young as six weeks up until about six months when the infants become mobile. The lead teacher in this room just recently took a new position up front and Ms. Ayla who just received her CDA has taken over her position. There is a one primary care giver or teacher to every four children ratio that must always be followed. In this room all children have their own cubbies that contain extra clothes, sheets, and other belongings brought in by the parents, diaper bins that contain their own diapers, wipes, boogie wipes, and diaper cream with medication forms signed by their parents, fridge and snack bins that include any food or bottles that the child may need throughout the day. All of the child’s belongings must have their first and last name and food and bottles must also include the date and contents.
For instance, bottles must have how many ounces it has and whether it is formula or breast milk, and food must have the exact food that is in the container. If the child is full time they will have their own crib, if they are part time they will share a crib with another part time child. The cribs are always 3-stepped (Washed, rinsed, and sanitized) after each use and in between children. In this room the parents provide a feeding schedule that will be followed by the child’s primary care giver throughout the day, the child is also changed every two hours or before if soiled, the child is free to nap as needed throughout the day in their crib on their back without any other objects in or around the crib this is to ensure the both the child’s health and safety. Infant B is the next room starts when the infants become more mobile, in this room they begin to crawl, talk, and even take their first steps up until the age of one year. This room is the same as infant A except they have more toys and objects that focus on helping them learn to stand, crawl, and walk.
The lead in this room Ms. Rita and she is only two classes away from having her associates in Early Childhood. This room still has a parent based schedule for their child as well as the infants must still sleep in a crib with a snug sheet and placed on their backs. A great example of quality care is that the changing station faces outward at the rest of the room allowing the teacher to pay attention to the other infants in the room. While Ms. Rita was changing Eva she was talking to her to keep her from rolling around, as well as talking to one of the other infants that began to fuss. Ms. Rita started to sing a little melody that instantly made the children stop crying. In this scenario it shows the environment is properly set of for safety for the teacher to be able to see the other children while changing Eva. Ms. Rita also sings a song out of the lesson plan for the day to re direct the child’s attention. The next room is the Toddler room, the teacher Ms. Kristi has nine months of experience working in a day care facility and started off as an assistant in this room.
She also has her associates in Early Childhood Education and is currently going to college to work with children with special needs. This age group is 12 to 18 months, they have just started walking, and they are also being weaned off their bottle and pacifier at this point, and have a better grasp on self-feeding. This room has a center based schedule but parents still can choose to have them sleep and eat at a certain time. Usually first thing in the morning the children are dropped off and are eating breakfast. As more friends arrive and start eating their breakfast the others have free play. Around nine in the morning they have their morning snack that is provided by the center or the parent can bring in their own. At this time many children may be due for diaper changing. As this room also has the diaper change at every two hours or sooner if soiled. Then they have circle time where they go over the days of the week, the weather, colors, and numbers, Spanish, songs, and finger plays. After circle time, toddlers will go outside, have art, eat lunch, then nap and rest for a few hours.
Twaddlers have the same schedule except these children are starting to be introduced to using the potty if the parents choose. This age group is two till two and half years with Ms. Kyla as the teacher. In these rooms they have their own personal cubbies and diaper bin to keep extra clothes and nap necessities. Both of these rooms are also a one teacher to four children ratio. Ms. Lori is the lead teacher in the Prepper room; where most of the potty training happens. Ms. Lori diligently takes her students to try and use the potty every half hour to hour to try and avoid accidents. This age group is two and a half until three or until they are fully potty trained. Ms. Lori has been a lead teacher for over five years and also had many years of experience at other facilities. The ratio in this room is one teacher to eight children. Some may say this could be a challenging age to teach especially when trying to redirect without using the word “no”. Starting in the Prepper room their curriculum becomes more extensive, and more fun.
The children start working in a leap book starting at one page a week. They also are allowed to use the big side of the playground that has a bit more toys for the children to play with. Ms. Alisha is the lead teacher in the Preschool 1 classroom. She has her associates degree in early childhood education and has worked for the center for a little over six years. For the children to move to the preschool classroom they have to be completely potty trained. In this room they start the day off with having breakfast upon being dropped off, followed by free play. The preschool rooms follow a scheduled day as well. This helps to let each child know what is expected at each time of the day. Once most of the children arrive Ms. Alisha will start circle time. She has each child pick a book for her to read at the end of circle time. Circle time consists of the good morning song, What’s the weather like outside song, days of the week, months of the year, what year it is, discussing the assigned curriculum for that day, the alphabet, and philanthropy. After circle time, they go to make believe boulevard where they do 15 minutes of morning exercises, then 15 minutes of free play. This allows them to express their creativity and pretend play.
When they return they lineup to wash their hands for snack, either center provided or sometimes they will have their remaining breakfast. After snack, the children get to go outside and play for a half hour. This allows them to run around and play on the play structure, the teachers even play games with the kids. When they come back in the children will do an art project then separate in to different centers. Some of the centers to choose from are the sensory table which has different types of rocks and sand in it, math and manipulatives, building blocks and the library.
During their centers Ms. Alisha will call students over one at a time to do one page in their leap book a day; this allows them to have one on one attention. They are allowed to have free play up until center provided lunch arrives, and then they all take a nap or rest for a few hours. Preschool 1 has a one teacher to ten children ratio. The last classroom is Preschool 2 or also known as Pre-K which Ms. Danna teaches. Ms. Danna has twelve years of experience in the childcare field, and has taken a few college classes and seminars. This age group is children from the age of four to early fives. Preschool 2 has the same type of schedule as preschool one except Ms. Dana is really preparing the children for Kindergarten.
These kids are all eager to learn and explore new skills. These two groups are separated not only to their chronological age but also by where they are developmentally. The curriculum has many great programs within it such as flexi flamingo, Fun with Phonics, Super Soccer, Philanthropy, and LEAP workbooks. Flexi Flamingo helps with children’s balance, coordination, stretching, and overall physical Fitness. Fun with phonics is an early head start reading readiness program. Leap workbooks each month are used daily to help them to learn reading and writing readiness, as well as recognition of numbers, shapes, and colors. The Children’s Center is giving their preschoolers every opportunity to have a valuable experience, develop who they are as individuals, while learning to share with and care about others. The discipline policy, curriculum, and appropriate environment for each age group would have to be the best attributes about “The Children’s Center”. I have found that when telling a child “NO” at a young age will have them start telling their parents and teachers alike “No” as well.
Redirecting a child’s attention by giving them other options to choose from and taking them out of the situation helps to avoid a tantrum most of the time. Also not giving the child a time out is great for not excluding the child from a learning opportunity. Instead the teachers explain to the child that they should make better choices to be able to participate in the fun activity with their friends. One example I found was Peter took a toy and hit one of their friends. Ms. Kyla pulled Peter aside and explained that “we use nice hands with our friends, hitting hurts our friends; look at Megan that made her sad look she is crying”. This helps to show the child that their actions hurt one of their friends and that they would not like it if their friend did that to them. The curriculum as the facility is probably my favorite, it allows the child to have every opportunity to learn and grow at their own developmental level.
Finally, each room has the appropriate toys and tables and chairs appropriate for their age group. For instance, in the Toddler and Twaddlers room they have toilets that are smaller and at the right height for them to sit on with comfort. These rooms also have tables and chairs that are lower to the ground and the perfect size for their height. The high turnover rate, primary caregivers, and the lunch menu would be my least favorite attributes of the center. With a high turnover rate the children become confused who their teacher is. I found in one of the room that some of the children began to act out without the same consistent teacher being there every day. It takes time for the children to gain respect for an adult; when the teacher in the room changes frequently the children will constantly test the new teacher to see what they can get away with and how far they can push their limits. In the younger classrooms primary caregivers are strictly followed and this is by licensing standards. A primary caregiver a child is the only one that is allowed to feed, diaper, and play with that child every day.
This means if a child is crying in their crib upon waking up, and the teacher is diapering another child; the primary caregiver must talk to the child and tell them they will be right there. Where if an assistant is in the room and their children are all sleeping or occupies, they are not allowed to take the child out of their crib for the other primary caregiver. Finally is the lunch menu for the center, I understand fresh food can be expensive; but canned and processed food are full of high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. I would highly recommend The Children’s Center to any parent looking for childcare and preschool programs. Though there would be a few improvements that I would make. My first improvement I would make would be to thoroughly interview each applicant to find out what is their five year plan. This would help with their turnover rate, with the children’s behaviors and also give employees a consistent room that they work in. When the children and employees alike know where they will work on a daily basis it allows both of them much in a better mood making the atmosphere more upbeat.
For instance, when putting someone who is normally in preschool in an infant or toddler room they may not know the flow of the room, and may mix up the child’s feeding schedule. Consistency, structure, and schedule makes every child’s and adults day go by easier. This would lead to my second improvement, being when the directors are making the schedule for the week ensure that they are consistently putting the same people in the same rooms. I understand some of the employees schedules change and they are unavailable to work. Instead they could put an employee that is more familiar with the way that room is run. My third improvement would be organization in the classrooms. I have found that it can difficult to know where different items are. Some of the closers at night will just put the toys on any shelf versus where it belongs. Most of the rooms have their shelves labeled for where each toy belongs.
Most of the girls are in such a rush to leave at the end of the day once their last child leaves they leave a mess for the opening lead in the morning. Improvement number four, would be to have more frequent employee meetings to help work on communication skills. Starting with the girls up front to the leads, assistants, and closers there seems to be a lack of communication on what is going on. There is a communication log at the bottom of the daily count sheet that helps promote communicating with the other girls in the room. Maybe, during a staff meeting concentrate on communication scenarios. Finally improvement number five, make children accountable for their actions. I feel that if a child continuously chooses to misuse a toy they should not have been able to use it for a certain amount of time. Though we will not use the word “no” and explain how to make better choices the child should have consequences for their actions. Through my observation I appreciated learning from all of the staff and children a new theory each day.
The atmosphere was welcoming and very child oriented and friendly. Most students were excited to be dropped off and didn’t want to leave upon being picked up. I noticed that children of all ages were able to express themselves using words, music, art, and dramatic play. I felt that the children felt empowered since the teachers would listen to what they have to say and would be excited and proud to hang art and assignments on the walls. Finally parents, staff, and children felt safe with the security that was strictly enforced, even making sure parents would not let in another person. This ensured that the adult must have a key fob or be let in by a staff member and accompanied throughout the building.