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Adjusting to a Child’s Allergy Diagnosis

Helping a family dealing with a new diagnosis can be challenging.  This is a conversation between a Director and a parent about a child with a food allergy.  I have had many conversations like this over the years with parents.

I have also been on the other side, as a parent with a child who has gotten a life changing diagnosis.  It can be hard.  Strike that.  It will be hard.  This parent has learned that a significant part of her/his life and that of the child in question will be different.  It will affect the child, siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers…the list is long.

As a Director we have to offer support and understanding.  Don’t let the parent horrible-ize or minimize the issue.  Help them to find resources.  Be the calm in the storm.  You got this!

Q: I’m struggling to help my family adjust after we found out one of our children has a serious allergy. Katie is only four years old, and she was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy.

How can I help my family accept the changes and help Katie?

Katie is our youngest, and her older siblings are struggling to understand what is happening, or why we have to make changes in the kitchen.

To keep Katie safe, we have to make big changes in our entire household.

One of the issues I’m seeing is that many members of our family, including my parents and sisters, don’t understand how serious the allergies are for Katie. They keep saying how it’s not as serious as a nut allergy. However, it’s serious for Katie, and she has horrible reactions to wheat.

What can I do to help them understand and keep Katie safe around them? I’m worried they’ll keep feeding her wheat. 

A: Food allergies should always be taken seriously because they can be unpredictable. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), patients can experience a variety of symptoms, including anaphylactic reactions. Allergies can be deadly for some patients.

It’s difficult for families to handle such a diagnosis in a young child. She may have to spend the rest of her life dealing with this condition, so it’s hard to accept it.

However, you’re taking the first step to help Katie by recognizing that she needs her entire family’s support. Allergies in a young child can lead to hospitalization and multiple doctor visits. It’s important for your entire family to recognize the severity of the situation.

You may want to talk to Katie’s doctor and ask for pamphlets or other printed information that you can share. Your extended family members may also want to attend some of Katie’s doctor appointments and ask questions.

Have a family meeting and discuss Katie’s condition. You’ll be able to address any questions or concerns they may have about her allergies.

Q: I like the idea of holding a family meeting to discuss Katie’s wheat allergy; however, I don’t think it will help with another issue. Katie’s doctor told me she’s very sensitive to the smallest amount of wheat. So we have to completely remove all the wheat in our kitchen because even a crumb can make her sick. That means we have to completely eliminate a lot of the food that our family loves.

My other children think I’m taking it too far and just want me to restrict a few shelves to be wheat-free. I want everyone to be happy, but I can’t take the risk of crumbs ending up in Katie’s food.

We’ve already had several visits to the ER because Katie’s food got contaminated with wheat.

How can I help my other children accept the changes we need to make for Katie?

A: Children can have a hard time accepting that a sibling has an allergy. In addition to the attention the sibling suddenly receives because of the diagnosis, the household tends to go through multiple changes.

Your children may not understand how serious Katie’s allergy is to her health.

You may want to purchase books about allergies or get other material that helps explain the dangers of allergies to children. Explain how Katie can end up in the hospital if she eats a crumb of wheat.

Your other children are part of Katie’s support network. Due to her young age, she may need them to be her voice in difficult situations that may involve wheat.

If your doctor has asked you to make big changes in the kitchen to keep Katie safe, then it’s important to follow these instructions.

Although your family may need time to adjust to the changes, they’ll learn to accept them. Katie’s health can’t be put in jeopardy every time you cook, so you have to follow the doctor’s advice.

Q: I intend to follow the doctor’s recommendations for Katie, but I’m still worried about how she’ll handle the allergy because she’s so young.

Katie is four and has a hard time understanding why she suddenly can’t eat some of the food she likes. She thinks she’s being punished or in trouble. She doesn’t believe me no matter what I say to calm her down.

What can I do to help Katie understand she has an allergy and isn’t being punished?

A: It’s important to explain the allergy to Katie on her level. She needs information that is easy for her to understand. She won’t be able to process medical jargon or understand what some of the reactions mean.

Your doctor may also have resources aimed at young children, such as books, posters, and other fun items that help children understand more about allergies. You can also search online for resources and ask other parents to help you find them.

Although you don’t want to scare her, Katie needs to know that eating wheat can make her sick. You may want to remind her about the recent ER visits you mentioned. It may be tempting to hide some of the serious issues from a young child, but her safety depends on understanding the importance. You’ll simply have to adjust the terminology to her level.

If Katie misses some of her favorite foods, experiment with creating new dishes she may like. You can find multiple cookbooks and online recipes that are designed for people with allergies. In time, she’ll find substitutes for her former favorite foods.

Instead of complaining about her health, you may want to direct all conversations to stay positive. In addition, Katie can benefit from feeling special at this time.

You may want to purchase a special ID bracelet that notes her allergy when she’s with others and get her allergy stickers. Let Katie participate by picking out her favorite colors and styles.

Q: I’m surrounded by family, but I feel alone with this issue.

No one else in our family has a wheat allergy, so Katie is the first. My husband doesn’t understand how she developed it and blames my difficult pregnancy for creating it. Our doctor states that my husband is wrong, and it’s not my fault.

Unfortunately, I still feel guilty. Between the shame and accusations, I feel like I’m dealing with Katie’s health issues on my own. 

I’m tired of dealing with everything on my own, and I need support. What can I do?

A: Try joining a local support group with other parents who have children with allergies.

Support groups can help you work on eliminating the guilt and shame you feel about Katie’s health. They can also help you learn more about keeping her safe. The group members can also offer advice and tips that can help your household transition to eliminating wheat.

If you can’t find a local support group, then consider joining an online version. You can find a variety of support groups on social media such as Facebook.

It sounds like you also want your family’s support.

It’s important to understand that a serious allergy diagnosis is difficult for some family members to handle and acknowledge. They may need more time to accept it and come to terms with Katie’s new diagnosis.

You may also benefit from family or individual therapy if you’re struggling with shame and guilt.

You don’t have to deal with these difficult emotions on your own, and therapists can help you cope.

Q: I understand I can join support groups, but they’ll be filled with strangers.

I want my husband to be part of my support net. However, he doesn’t seem interested in helping me educate the entire family about Katie’s allergies.

Instead, my husband tells the children and everyone else to go to me if they have questions.

I don’t mind answering their questions, but it would be nice to have his support and help. I can’t do everything on my own. I’m already struggling. My husband simply sits and doesn’t talk while I spend all of my energy trying to explain things to them.

What can I do to change this and make my husband understand I need his help with Katie’s health? The stress is starting to overwhelm me, and I’m worried that it will start to affect my own health.

A: This is a significant change that affects your whole household and Katie’s entire life. Your husband may still be trying to process the diagnosis and figure out how to help.

Your husband can still be an important part of your support network and make it easier to handle the upcoming battles you may face. However, you may just need to give him some time and space to adjust to Katie’s diagnosis.

Have a calm conversation with your husband and explain that you need his support right now. He may not understand that you don’t want to be the only one to answer questions. He needs to know that you want him to help educate the children and other family members about Katie’s health.

You can split the duties, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. For example, you can answer questions from your parents. Your husband can answer questions from your other children.

In addition, you can split other family obligations, so your stress levels are reduced. Try rotating with your husband in taking Katie to her doctor’s appointments or talking to her teachers.

With time and patience, your whole family will adjust to these changes and learn to support Katie in her new path.

Complete the form below for copy of the conversation as a resource to give out to parents &/or staff.

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Summer TIME!!!

It’s NOT too late for summer. I am excited to share with you tips for getting your summer program at your center off to a great start – even if you are just starting today.   I know, it is February; it is time to get ready!

One of my memorable experiences as a director started in the month of April back in 2001.  I know, ages ago, but bear with me here.  We had a very large building and enrollment needed everything I had.  So I started our school age program and went to work on creating our summer program that was going to start in less than two months.We are going to make some basic assumptions before we get started.  We are going to assume that you do have a school age program currently and have the capacity to hold more children than you currently have.

The easiest place to get started now that you have decided that you are interested in having a summer program is to create “theme weeks”.  These do not have to be complicated – but, they do make it easier for you to come up with marketing, curriculum, field trips, guest speakers and other activities.

Since you have a school age program you have at least one person on staff who has experience working with kids.  And tomorrow you will sit down with the kids who come to your program and ask them WHAT DO YOU LIKE?  This will be HUGE – you actually asked them for their input.  If you use this you will win them over.

So for the “sake” of examples – we are going to look at my program from 2001…..

We had 6 school agers who were really the children of the teachers and a sibling of other kids in the program.  I noticed in the registration material that we had at least 20 additional siblings that we could tap.  I held a kids night out and got their feedback too.  This was key to our success- Market Research!

The one popular option was going to the movies – well I didn’t really want to do the FREE movie option so we decided that instead of every week — we would go once a month to a new release.  I looked up the new movies that were coming out that summer, and boy, was it a doozy!  SO many kids movies!

That became the focus for at least 3 of the weeks/1 quarter of the summer.  We read the books that went with the movie, we acted out what we thought it would be about, cooked food, did projects and involved ALL ages.

Let's go to the Movies!

Our summer program had kids 5-12 and we did have space to split them – but – the question was “were we going to have enough kids to cover the cost of staff.”  We needed to make sure our program was going to appeal to parents as well as the kids!!!

So what are some of the summer camps we had?  Fairytale camp – SHREK; Spy camp – Spy Kids; Comic camp – Any of the marvel comic movies – Around the World in 80 Days– Martial arts.

You don’t need to go to the new movies you could do the camps around the movies coming out this summer and then have them go with their families to the movie.  Or you can build around great movies, that most of the kids haven’t seen (like those ones from 2001).  Then the week after could be a camp on acting, VLOGGING, writing reviews, making their own mini movies, etc.

Your location, your staff and what you have is KEY to creating a great camp.  Find out the talents of your staff – do they play a sport, sing, dance, cheer, artistic, garden, hike, nature, scouts?  Not only your school age staff but other staff too – do they scrap?  Do they love you tube?  Do they love to act or sing?   Why not get them excited about doing something different in the afternoons – they can be in charge of science, art, acting, music, etc. – once a week.

        We were an inner city program with nothing that looked like “nature” and most of the kids had never been camping or hiking –so this was something we wanted to do – we worked with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to get the Outdoor kids program and had a girl scout staff person who was excited to take them on urban hikes to discover the nature outside.  We also put up a several bird feeders on the windows and in trees – the kids charted the visitors during the summer.  We had bird books and binoculars at the windows – we also spent a day learning how to use them.  We also had a guest speaker from the Audubon Society.

        During another camp we had a guest speaker who brought owls, we dissected owl pellets and watched a Harry Potter movie.

One program I work with has had an Harry Potter camp every summer and if a movie comes out it is that week – otherwise it is the week of July 31st (Harry’s Birthday).

Quick NOTE – summer camps do not have to be expensive to be fun.  Just be creative or find a way to partner.

The programs at other centers are going to be different enough and probably far enough away that you are not going to be competing with them.  Partner with them!  Network and share resources – if you decide to do a spy camp  or a CSI camp – trust me you will not need to use all the “ink” and other materials you will get that week.

Don’t forget to partner with your local businesses for tours and encourage the kids to read during the summer with different summer reading programs and regular trips to the library.

For a free planner enter your information below!

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The Impatient Fisherman Fable

Have you had that child who tries something one time and then gives up saying, “I can’t do it!”  Or the child who keeps doing something in a way that won’t work for 20 minutes even though the teacher has tried to show them how to, say, slice a banana?

I sure have.  

My way of handling this is not to lecture.  Lord knows, that doesn’t work anyway.  But to read a story about a character who faced a similar issue.  It can be hard to find them so I ended up writing a few fables and illustrating them with images.

I wrote a fable about an impatient fisherman to address both the kid who gives up WAY too early and the one who won’t ask for help.  I would like to share it with you.  Download the PDF version to share with your classes.

Mr. Wilson decided to go fishing and he promised his wife he would bring her back some fish. So he walked down to the river under the bright afternoon sun and sat down on a rock with his fishing pole.

But there wasn’t a fish to be seen.chris-abney-140735

Every so often a little bitty fish would zip by where he was sitting, and he would chase it with his net until he would trip on a rock and fall face down into the water.

“Lousy fish!” Mr. Wilson grunted.

The day wore on, the sun started to set, and Mr. Wilson still had not caught a single fish. He became frustrated and he was stomping angrily in the water when his next-door neighbors, Mr. Brown and his son Billy, came up to the river’s edge to watch the sunset and catch a few fish.

Mr. Wilson didn’t even speak to them as he stormed off because he was frustrated by his wasted afternoon.  Defeated, Mr. Wilson went home without his promised fish.

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“Gee!” Billy said. “He’s pretty angry, isn’t he?”

“Hungry, I suppose,” Mr. Brown said. “He should’ve waited a bit longer. The fish come up to feed when the air is cool like this.”

As he spoke, they heard the sound of fish breaking the surface of the water, and the father and son easily scooped half a dozen fish out of the river.

Click this link to download The Impatient Fisherman Fable

Let me know how you liked the story & if there are other issues you would love to have a fable for.

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Why Do We Set Resolutions Anyway?

Every year thousands of people create “New Years Resolutions.” My family tradition was to write them down, put them in a sealed envelope behind a picture over the mantle.  We’d look at the previous year’s resolutions and have a laugh over what we did and didn’t do. Why do we do it?

History of New Year’s Resolutions

Though New Year’s isn’t the only time to make a resolution and to seek change, it’s probably the most popular. So we’ll start here and explore the history of this concept and how it came to be. Civilizations as far back as the Babylonians 4000 years ago have rung in the New Year by paying specific attention to the idea of fresh starts. The annual calendar of the Babylonians began in March, and they would traditionally celebrate with a festival lasting 11 days. During this time, they would offer the gods promises such as resolving to clear up their debts in order to gain the deities’ favor. Ancient Egyptians’ year was marked to coincide with the annual flooding of the Nile. The Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, was the first to recognize the beginning of the year as January 1st in honor of, Janus, the god of new beginnings. The heralding in of the New Year as the first of January didn’t remain in fashion until 1582, however, when Pope Gregory XIII developed the Gregorian calendar.

Reasons We Make Resolutions

There are a number of reasons why we make resolutions. As people, especially as leaders, it’s natural to want to progress in our personal development and to improve upon our lives. Making a resolution provides clarity to our lives. It’s like giving us a road map to follow with regard to achieving our goals. Making a resolution also solidifies our sense of purpose. It allows us to make our reasons for existing more tangible and concrete. Making promises to ourselves keeps us accountable, as well. Without this action, we stray from our intended purpose. This can lead to feelings such as loss of self-esteem, worthlessness, emotional turmoil and confusion. Finally, it simply makes us feel good, with a sense of accomplishment, to achieve the goals we set through resolutions. We’re able to measure our progress, and that’s quite satisfying.

Strategies for Making Resolutions

While we’re delve into ways to make your resolutions stick and other tips for making them, I’d like to at least touch on some general strategies for developing realistic intentions. First, choose just a few things from your wish list to accomplish so that you don’t become overwhelmed and quit before you even really get started. Next, be specific with your intentions. Making a vague statement like, “I will lose weight,” isn’t very effective. Stating the number of pounds you hope to lose in a particular time frame is a far better approach. One final tip is to remain accountable for the promises you make to yourself. You can share your goals with friends or even record your progress in a journal. These steps will help to ensure you are moving forward.

Now you have an idea of why we set resolutions. It’s important to understand the reason behind doing something if you want to improve your chances of success. Let’s move on to explore the importance of setting goals.

Join me on a 30 day resolution & goal setting challenge.

Goals

A goal is your target. It’s a desired outcome that you hope to attain. Goals have a definite and precise end point. You’ll know when you’ve achieved your goal. You can place a timeframe on them. There are both short-term and long-term goals you set for yourself. Goals can also fall into various categories among the different aspects of your life. For example, you can set career, relationship or personal goals.

Resolutions

When it comes to resolutions, the term can be used in a number of ways across varying contexts. For our purposes, we’ll be looking at personal resolutions that have to do with the trajectory we’d like to take with our lives. A resolution is a promise to yourself, and it’s something that’s usually more open-ended than a specific goal. Making a resolution usually entails altering some aspect of your life, such as eating healthier, focusing on loved ones more or managing your finances better.

How They’re Related

These two terms actually go hand-in-hand. That’s why they’re so often referenced together. Your resolutions are made up of goals. The resolution is the overarching theme or the implied direction you wish to take with your life. The goals are the activities that fall within the theme or the specific steps to take you to that place. If you resolve to lose weight or eat healthier, which is probably the most common New Year’s Resolution, you need to set goals for how you will accomplish such a wish. Without goals, resolutions often go unmet. You’ve likely experienced setting a resolution, only to have it fall flat and be left behind within a month or two. That’s natural and lies within the realm of normal human behavior. We attend to what’s immediately in front of us. Setting goals and checking in with them on a regular basis keeps them at the forefront of your mind, making those resolutions more likely to become a reality.

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. They are relevant and intertwined. Those who choose to join me in a 30 day challenge will be focusing on both as we proceed along our challenge.

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Developmentally appropriate holidays.

We, as Directors, create holiday celebrations to create home-school connections and anchor our year.  Many teachers save holiday activities on Pintrest, hoard materials to make special projects and plann what they are doing for the end of year party.  So many plans.  The number of reindeer heads, snowmen, and trees that will be created this month is a bit mind boggling.

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But what do the children actually get out of it?  What does a snow man mean to a 3 year old in Galveston?  Does she understand what snow is?  Why is it a man? Why do I make it out of cotton balls (or glue, or whatever)?  What can she understand of the story of Frosty?  Why are they painting paper plates brown & adding pipe cleaners?

These are all product focused art, but that is not what I am getting at here.  What are you trying to teach?  What is the concept you are focusing on?  Is there one?  Somethings we do just because it is fun, like finger painting with the after-school class.  Single activities that are just fun are fine, but at some centers the winter holidays take most of December.

Christmas

In our multicultural society, Christmas, although important to many people, is not everyone’s holiday. For children and families from other groups—be they Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, pagan, atheist, or anything else—Christmas can be a confusing time. For most families the constant pressure to buy things for this holiday ads unneeded financial and family stress.  How can you address Christmas in your program in a way that is supportive and fair to all?

Learn about other’s December holidays

Begin by surveying your families and staff members which December holiday(s), if any, they celebrate, and what they might like to share about their personal tradition. If the people in your program are culturally diverse, this means you will be learning about a number of different December holidays. In a more culturally similar class, it could mean learning about a variety of ways families all celebrate the same holiday.  If you don’t have a variety of holidays, you can add one, that you find interesting (see list at the bottom).

Make a plan for how you will teach about the various traditions in your classroom. For example, have a school party with families & teachers sharing a special holiday food, song, or ritual. If family members cannot come into the classroom, ask them for a story or song that the teachers can share with the children on their behalf.  This often helps parents who are shy about public speaking or their language skills to feel comfortable sharing.  Help the children explore the similarities and differences among family holiday celebrations—whether it is the same holiday or different holidays. The aim is for children to understand that “Families are different. Each family’s way of celebrating works for them.”

If you use this approach, be very sensitive to children who celebrate differently from the majority of the children. Otherwise, it is easy for their holiday to sound like just a variation on the dominant culture’s event. It is the teacher’s responsibility (not the child’s) to clarify the distinctions. For example, if most of the children told stories about their Christmas holiday customs and the one Jewish child talked about Chanukah; you might overhear “happy Jewish Christmas.”


 

Hanukkah begins on the 12th this year.  Dreidel will be played, menorahs will be created and latkes will be eaten.  What are we teaching with these activities?  If your program is a Jewish day school, you might be sharing cultural knowledge.  There will be telling of the stories of the oil that aided in the defeat of a tyrant king.  If that doesn’t describe your program…I ask a gain what are you teaching?  Think about it!  

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When we are setting aside time in our days/weeks/months to focus on something I really want us to know WHY.  If you aren’t going to be teaching this story, because it doesn’t reflect the culture of your families, then why are you doing these activities?

  • Are you doing it to expose them to a different culture?
  • Are you using seasonal images to spice up your fine motor activities?
  • Are you telling the story to highlight that by working together people can accomplish more than they ever thought?
  • Are you exploring the theme that we all go through dark times, and when we do we can rely on others to help us through them?
  • Will you be exploring assimilation and cultural uniqueness?  (If so, email me, I have some great activities for this.)
  • Is exploring different ways to make and eat potatoes to explore what the children like a focus?  This is a great math activity.

If we focus on the trappings of Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other holiday/holy day, we miss an opportunity.  Hanukkah is a powerful story of people who were under pressure to give up what made the unique.  Christmas is the story of a man & a pregnant woman who no one would take in.  These are stories that should mean a lot to the children in our care.  They are stories of not being accepted and being scared.  Every child can relate to that.

Take away the religiosity, if you program is secular, as mine were.  Are these stories less meaningful than Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? or  Cat in the Hat?   I think they are stories worth telling.  Share the Christmas tree crafts and menorah activities, but do them  in a developmentally appropriate way.  For more information on Developmentally Appropriate holiday activities, check out the NAEYC book, Anti-bias Education for Young Children & Ourselves.

 

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List of December 2017 Holidays (not all holidays included)

  • December 1 Mawlid/ Prophet’s Birthday (various)
  • December 3 First Sunday of Advent (various)
  • December 4 Day of Navarre (Spain)
  • December 5 St. Nicholas’ Eve (Netherlands)
  • December 6 St. Nicholas Day (various)
  • December 7 Peal Harbor Remembrance Day (US)
  • December 8 Bodhi Day (Hindu)
  • December 13 Hanukkah starts (Jewish)
  • December 16 Day of Reconciliation (South Africa)
  • December 21 Winter Solstice (various)
  • December 23 Emperor’s Birthday (Japan)
  • December 25 Christmas (various)
  • December 26 Kwanzaa (US)
  • December 30 Rizai Day (Philippines)
  • December 31 New Year’s Eve (various)
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Pilot Program Goes Live

A Teacher led class, available where you are.

You want a class with a real time instructor, to train your new assistant director or director, but they are hard to find and/or take FOREVER to finish (several semesters).  How do you know if the folks teaching it even know what they are talking about?  It is so frustrating!

Texas Director has heard this complaint and is solving it.  We are opening our live, teacher led, classes to folks across Texas in a dynamic and accessible  way.

Anyone with a decent internet connection and a computer with a built in camera, (or in a pinch a person with a computer and a smart phone) can participate in real time in the class, asking questions, clarifying issues and exploring the material.  We will be using an online meeting platform that allows everyone to see each other.

January will be our pilot  program, so we are offering a ridiculous rate…$200.  We help you, and you help us by giving us feedback on how to improve.

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Apps are fun and cool, which is why they’re so popular. And while many apps are useful and time time-savers, many others do a lot to lower your productivity.

 

If you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day already, it doesn’t make sense to spend time on things that have minimal value.

Turn the silly things off. Focus on your work and when you take a short, timed break, you can play for a few minutes.

Here are a few such online apps that probably hurt more than they help:

  1. Twitter. You don’t need to know what your favorite celebrity is up to. Do you really need to know what the President has to say, right now?  It will be on the news if it is significant.  Surely, it’s more important to focus on your own life! Is it critical that you be informed (while you’re working) that your friend from high school just left the movies to go shopping for a new pair of shoes? Come on, now. Really?

  2. Any kind of messaging app. Messenger apps just make it easy for people to interrupt what you’re doing. You jump at the chance to take a little break and, before you know it, 30+ minutes have passed. Don’t log into these things unless you’re done working for the day. Even at night, it would be better to just get on the phone and talk like a real person.
  3. Email notifications. Email can be a great tool but it can also be a huge waste of time. Check your email in the morning and at night. The last thing 99% of the population needs is an email notification every 5 minutes, because then you just know that you have to check it. It will drive you nuts until you finally cave and see what’s going on.
  • Many highly efficient and successful people make it a point to check their email no more than twice a day. Most only check it once a day. Some only check it a couple of times a week. They have better things to do, and you could, too, with such a system.
  1. Blogs. Good blogs are highly interesting and informative. Give yourself a time limit or limit yourself to a set number of blogs. Life is all about prioritizing, so set some priorities.
  2. Facebook.  It can be a great way to keep in touch, but it’s much like Twitter: 99% of the stuff you’re exposed to is fluff. Viewing pictures of someone’s trip to Africa is interesting. Reading that your friend is sitting on the deck drinking margaritas is of questionable value. You have a life to live, do you really have time for this stuff?
    • Again, set some limits and strive to stay within them. Also consider limiting the number of ‘friends’ that you have. No one has 500 real friends.
  3. Social bookmarking sites. Websites like Digg, Delicious, Reddit, and other bookmarking sites are great tools for finding blogs, articles, and sites related to your interests. Just be careful how much time you’re spending on them. It’s easy to be fed 1,000 interesting sites every day. It’s also easy to burn a lot of time on them. Be careful.

Online apps can be wonderful, if they’re used wisely. Don’t spend a lot of time on what are essentially frivolous things. Life is short! Focus on what you want to get done each day and avoid letting such apps steal away your time that you could be using to make your dreams come true.

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More Than a Sale

Thank You

Veteran’s Day is a weighty day at Kate’s house.  Several years ago a Veterans Day celebration was actually the send off part for her husband, Steve, as he went on a tour of duty in Iraq.

She was preparing to be an effectively single mother of 4 children.  Two were her step children.  They all worked to create a plan to stay connected and to handle the loss, though temporary.  Luckily, Steve came home as he has every time he has been deployed, but we didn’t know that yet.

It was a bitter sweet day.  Several of the veterans honored that day had never had people set aside time to thank them for their service. It has highlighted the need to actually say”Thank You” to veterans.

More than a Sale

For many of us Veterans Day is another excuse for car dealership to have a sale.  Just a day that the banks and post office are closed.

It is more.  It is time to show our appreciation for the men and women who have chosen to defend this country as their career, for a time.  We also should thank the spouses and children of veterans.  They sacrifice as well.

There is a Sale, though

If you are a veteran or immediate family member of one, please email Kate at Kate@TexasDirector.org for a special price on any of our courses, Director, business, or annual training.  This sale applies to the weeks before & after Veterans Day.

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Make Your Michael Jordan Moment

I want you to have a moment where you feel like Michael Jordan as a Director.  Your center is your court.  You should dominate it!

I am a basketball fan.  I have several heroes from that field, but Michael Jordan is someone everyone knows, or at least they think they do.  Millions of Nike’s Jordan sneakers have been sold over the years.  He still earns over $100 million a year, because he is such a part of the American culture.  He is the what we think of when we think EXCELLENCE.

But how did he get there and how can you emulate him?  He said, “I had to learn the fundamentals of basketball. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but you still have to know the fundamentals.”  Did you take time to learn the fundamentals?  What are the fundamentals of Directing a child care center?

  • Professionalism
  • Marketing
  • Curriculum Development
  • Staff Recruitment & Training
  • Communication

These are the core of the Texas Director’s Director Credentialing courses and most of our ongoing trainings. There are other things you need to know, but these are the core.  If you have these down cold, then the minor crises can be handled.  

If you don’t feel confidence in your fundamentals, reach out to us.  We can help you with training or individual coaching.

A child falls on the playground, breaking an arm.  As a professional who has trained her staff well, you know that first aid will be rendered, the child will be comforted, that then the parens will be communicated with well, and then the paperwork will be completed.

OR

The city cuts off the water to your street while they are upgrading lines or the road, whatever.  It doesn’t matter why they did it, but it happened and now you have a situation.  Go out & use your communication skills to find out how long all this is going to last & help them to understand why this is a huge issue for your children.  If it is going to be more than 5 minutes, lean on marketing, curriculum development & professionalism to determine what you can do that will provide a quality day for your students.  You may have to call the parents to get the children because you can’t provide care, or you might be able to create an impromptu field trip to the neighborhood park, using their plumbing, facilities & picnic tables.  If so, just call, text, email parents to let them know how the plans have changed.

Once we have the fundamentals down we move into proficiency.  

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat. “-Michael Jordan  We have to keep working on things.  Practice.  Drill.  Do it again.  And again.  And Again.  Walk through the program every day.  Talk to parents every morning & afternoon.  Do tours.   When you are done, evaluate how it went.  Do you need to shift something?  Are you making your free throws?  BTW tours are the child care version of the free throw.

Jordan is faithful: “Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life too. ” Are you being consistent?  He was. Keep going.  Get better, focus on the fundamentals.  

Some folks have a hard time seeing themselves as Michael Jordan.  OK, fine.  You don’t want to be the icon of excellence.  It can be scary to reach that high.  How about trying to be his coach?  A lot of what you do is coaching the staff, parents & children.  The coach he credits with getting him to excellence was University of North Carolina Coach, Dean Smith.  “Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life.”  Can you be Coach Smith?  “I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent.”  Be the base for your people to reach excellence.

If you need a coach of your own, so that you can get your center court moment, I am here for you.  Coaching & training is what I do.  Get your Michael Jordan Moment!

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Focus on the fundamentals.  Get a coach if you need one.  Practice.  Evaluate.  Do it again.  Then when it is game time, you will shoot the game winning shot.  Stand your ground & take your shot.