Posted on

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.

Untitled design

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!  

Untitled design (1).png

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.

 

51ZUE2Nr97L._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_

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)
Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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!

sign-up-now-blue 

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.

Posted on

Naptime = Storytime

Naptime can be a rough time

Transitioning from playtime or even lunch into naptime can give teachers fits.  There is so much confusion, and the kids are grumpy because they are tired.  I have an easy way to make it better: READ

And not just short picture books that you read at other times of the day…chapter books.  Let’s take the lunch to naptime plan.  Once the children are sitting down to eat, talk about what happened in the story last time.  It has been almost 24 hours, at a minimum.  They forget.  Some of the children fall asleep before you stopped reading.  They missed things.  This way everyone is on the same page, so to speak.  Ask them what they think will happen next.  I had one 2 year old who often suggested, “dinsaaarz will be ‘der.”  This also gives the kids something to talk about at meal time (YAY!  learning social skills!).

As the children clean up from lunch and go to the bathroom (hand washing, teeth brushing, toilet/diapering) stand outside the bathroom with the book.  If there are pictures, share them if asked.  This is often a big hit with Pooh books, although there were also good pictures in Little Bear and The Littles.

When most of the kids are on their mats/cots, ask if they are ready for the story.  A chorus of “yes” generally erupts at this point.  Settle down in your accustomed place and begin reading.  If kids ask to see pictures, reply that right now they are building the pictures in their heads.  “Close your eyes and build the picture in your head.”  They can look at the book after rest time is over, if that works for you.  Depending on the age of the class you will read between 10 & 30 minutes.  Find a good stopping point and place your book mark.

During that time, the calm voice telling a story will have relaxed the children & with the eye closing to build pictures, many of them will have drifted off.  There is less of the talking to the kid in the next spot, getting up for water or the bathroom and an overall calmer transition.

Mother and daughter reading togetherHave you ever wondered about the benefits of all of that reading aloud before naptime? Not only does this bring you a calmer transition, it also helps with self-regulation, language development, literacy & imagination.

Although reading to a child before bedtime is great, a team at the University of Sussex in England last year found that reading before afternoon naps is actually the most opportune time to enhance a child’s learning. Their research found that reading before an afternoon nap not only helped children to retain words better but also helped them to retain a greater number of words.

So, rather than just putting on music or giving them quiet toys to play with, take time to read to the children. Whenever possible, do so before afternoon naps. By starting this practice early and building it into a fun and anticipated tradition, the children will gain benefits that last a lifetime.

At what age should you start?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s never too early to start reading aloud to children. As soon as a child is born, you can and should begin the practice, so that the child can become absorbed with books.

An advantage in school

Reading aloud with children not only creates a bond between the two of you – which is a side benefit – but it gives each child an important advantage. By age 3, children who have heard fewer words – whether though reading, talking or singing – may be at a disadvantage compared to children who have heard a greater number of words, and which may lead to a disadvantage in school. That was the finding of a study, “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children,” conducted by Betty Hart and Todd Risley.

 

Great!  But what do you read to them?  Sometimes this is a road block.  How do you know what books are appropriate & will interest them?  A good place to start is to think back to books you loved when you were first learning to read.  I was a lover of all things Pooh, books by Syd Hoff, Captain Cat & Danny the Dinosaur in particular, and Another is to look at books or series that have been made into TV shows or movies.  I will write another post with a list of books I suggest and a bit about each of them.  Look for it soon.

To get the post with the chapter book reviews & suggestions subscribe to this blog.

Share your happy tales with us

Does your class have a favorite selection of children’s books that you enjoy reading aloud together before naptime? Share your happy tales with us on our Facebook page.

Posted on

Top 10 Ways to Empower Children

As a teacher working with young children, you have millions of opportunities to empower children & foster good self-esteem.  Every day in the early childhood classroom self images are being built by the child’s successes & failures and by what they see and hear.

Many of the challenges that plague children are the result of low self-esteem. Teenage pregnancy, drug usage, poor grades, fighting, depression, and even suicide can be the result of low self-esteem. A child with high self-esteem will enjoy life more and have a more successful childhood. Children with high self-esteem are likely to grow into adults with high self-esteem.

Grow a child’s self-esteem and confidence:

  1. Draw attention to the child’s strengths. Let the children bask in the glory of being good at something. Whether the child’s strength is school, throwing a fastball, or playing Go Fish, let them know that you notice how great they are at it.
  2. Teach children how to deal with failure. Explain that it happens to everyone and is part of life. Help each child to examine what went wrong in her approach and how to improve. Encourage children to be persistent until success is achieved.
  3. Give children choices. Just be sure to control the options. Suppose a young child is getting dressed for school. Instead of choosing the clothes for the child, allow him to have a few options. Choose a few different outfits and then allow the child to choose between them. You’ll have a well-dressed kid that feels empowered because he chose his own clothes.
  4. Allow each child to fit in at school. The idea of Spiderman pajamas at school might seem bizarre to some, but if that’s what all the cool kids are doing, let it go. It can be difficult for adults to remember the importance of peer acceptance. Allow the children to find their own way to fit in.
  5. Allow children to struggle a little. It can be hard to resist the urge to provide help at every opportunity. However, it can be great for a child to learn how to deal with struggle. Ensure that the struggle ends successfully! Give each child the opportunity to be successful without adult intervention.
  6. Be reasonable in your praise. Your 3-year old student knows her drawing of a butterfly isn’t the best butterfly the world has ever seen. Instead, offer a comment like, “I love how you used so many colors in the wings.” Be sincere with your praise.
  7. Allow each child to overhear you complimenting them. For example, the next time you’re talking to another teacher in front of your class, mention something positive about one of the children. He’ll be sure to hear and feel on top of the world.
  8. Avoid comparing one child to another. All people are individuals. Comments like, “Why can’t you be as neat as your friend?” cause more harm than good.
  9. Spend time alone with each student. It’s one way of showing that every child is important to you. Children know you could be doing a lot of other things, but you chose to spend time with her instead.
  10. Be encouraging. We all require support from time to time. When a child is struggling, provide encouragement and support. Let them know that they’re not alone. Consider what you would’ve liked to hear as a child and allow that to be your guide.

A child with a healthy level of self-esteem will be happier and perform better in school. As an early childhood professional, you have a strong influence over your children’s self-confidence. Making your children feel good about themselves is one of your greatest responsibilities. Pay attention to the little things each day, because that’s what your kids are doing!

 

There are countless opportunities to make your child feel better or worse about himself. Be proactive.

Posted on

Are These Your Monkeys?

The most request article published by the Harvard Business Review is on Monkey Management.  All Directors become familiar with managing monkeys, even if they don’t know that they are doing it.

Below is an excerpt covering Monkey Management from our  book:

Management Time:  Who’s Got the Monkey?

By William Oncken, Jr., (former CEO, The William Oncken Company of Texas, Inc. and Donald L. Wass (former President, The William Oncken Company of Texas, inc.) (Adapted from an article in the Harvard Business Review as an analogy that underscores the value of assigning, delegating and controlling.)

In any organization the Director’s bosses, peers, clients and staff – in return for their active support – impose some requirements; just as the director imposes some requirements upon them where they draw on his support. These demands constitute so much of the director’s time that successful leadership hinges on an ability to control this “monkey-on-the-back” input effectively.

Why is it that directors are typically running out of time while their staff is typically running out of work?  In this article, we shall explore the meaning of management time as it relates to the interaction between directors, their bosses, their own peers, and their staff. Specifically, we shall deal with three different kinds of management time:

Boss-imposed timeto accomplish those activities which the boss requires and which the director cannot disregard without direct and swift penalty.

System-imposed time– to accommodate those requests to the director for active support from his peers. This assistance must also be provided lest there be penalties, though not always direct or swift.

Self-imposed time– to do those things which the director originates or agrees to do. A certain portion of this kind of time; however, will be taken by staff and is called, “staff-imposed time.” 

The remaining portion will be your own and is called “discretionary time.” Self-imposed time is not subject to penalty since neither the boss nor the system can discipline the director for not doing what they did not know the director had intended to do in the first place.

The management of time necessitates that directors get control over the timing and content of what they do. Since what their bosses and the system impose on them are subject to penalty, directors cannot tamper with those requirements. Thus their self-imposed time becomes their major area of concern.

Directors should try to increase the discretionary component of their self-imposed time by minimizing or doing away with the ‘staff’ component.  They will then use the added period of time to get better control over their boss-imposed and system-imposed activities. Most directors spend much more staff-imposed time than they even faintly realize.  Hence we shall use the analogy of a monkey-on-the-back to examine how staff-imposed time comes into being and what the superior can do about it.

Where is the Monkey?

Let us imagine that a director is walking down the hall and the he notices one of his teachers, Jones, coming up the hallway. When they are abreast of one another, Jones greets the director with, “Good morning.  By the way, we’ve got a problem.  You see…”

As Jones continues, the director recognizes in this problem the same two characteristics common to all the problems his staff gratuitously brings to his attention.  Namely, the manger knows (a) enough to get involved, but (b) not enough to make the on-the-spot decision expected of him. Eventually, the director says, “So glad you brought this up. I’m in a rush right now.  Meanwhile, let me think about it and I’ll let you know.” Then he and Jones part company.

Let us analyze what has just happened. Before the two of them met, on whose back was it?  The teacher. Now whose back is it on? The director. Staff-imposed time begins the moment a monkey successfully executes a leap from the back of a staff member, to the back of his superior and does not end until the monkey is returned to its proper owner for care and feeding.

In accepting the monkey, the director has voluntarily assumed a position subordinate to his staff. That is, he has allowed Jones to make him the subordinate by doing two things a subordinate is generally expected to do for a boss: the director has accepted a responsibility from his staff, and the director has promised a progress report.

The staff – to make sure the director does not miss this point – will later stick their head in the director’s office and cheerily query, “How’s it coming?” This is called, “supervision.”

Or let us imagine again, in concluding a working conference with another staff, Johnson, the director’s parting words are, “Fine. Send me a memo on that.”

Continue reading Are These Your Monkeys?

Posted on

Calendar Inspiration

I have gone down a rabbit hole today.  I wondered what special thing August was the month for, like July was national Picnic month.  It seemed like a simple thing, but it was like falling into a well.

August is the national month for more than 20 things.  It is bananas.  Crayons, goat cheese, and peaches.  Then I noticed that the site nationaldaycalendar.com had days as well.

It had just been national ice cream sandwich day, so I thought it might be interesting to see.  Today is National Prosecco Day, National Filet Mingnon Day, Left-Handers Day and National Spirit of ’45 Day.  Interesting, but not what sucked away half the day.  It was seeing all the other days and thinking about how many of them could be used to inspire classroom lesson plans & activities.

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 is National Relaxation Day.  It seems odd that relaxation only gets one day.  On the other hand I thought it would be a great opportunity to have staff training on really relaxing, on how relaxation is key to their health.  Doing soothing message with the infants also occurred to me.  But what about toddlers?  Is there any way to get them to relax?  How about creative visualization?  That could work.  They love being bears and trains, perhaps could have them be something calmer, more relaxing.  Meditation in the preschool class?  Easy.  What about something more challenging?  A message circle?  Yoga.  Aromatherapy. Calm water play.

One of the things children struggle to learn is self-regulation.  We don’t remember to put this item in out weekly plan often enough.  If this silly calendar could bring this into a classroom, what else could it do?

Click below to get the plans for increasing relaxation at your center.

Download-Now-red