I just wanted to give a little update on what's going on... I didn't post this weekend because I am SWAMPED. Not only am I a full-time student and currently working full time, but I am also helping my center-director write a huge federal grant! While originally we had until early June, we obviously enjoy self-inflicted pain, and intentionally moved our personal deadline to the second week of April!
SO, what this means for the website... I am EXHAUSTED by the end of the day, and can barely keep my eyes open at the start of each day. I will not be posting this week either, but am planning something huge for the first and second week of April (Week of the Child)!
I will still be on Instagram, and I will still be responsive to questions, comments, and any other interactions...
Big things coming!
I wish you well,
Teacher Emmy <3
P.S. Sneak peek at the next activity idea!
Hey everyone! In honor of pi day, I made a math and science activity out of bubbles!
This is an activity plan I created that incorporates math, science, language, and social-emotional development all into one fun activity that can be done with ANY age. I did this activity with two eleven year old boys and they stayed involved and having fun with BUBBLES for 40 minutes! Imagine a toddler and how long they would be at this activity. Take a look, and try it yourself! Have a wonderful day.
First of, there is a video to this. This post has a lot of information, and the information is important! So, please read on, and follow with the video. I appreciate you!
Why Activities? Children learn through play and through observation. As one of the primary adults in their life, you are one of their primary learning tools! Having an activity paired with a skill that you want to teach your child will increase the time that they gain to learn that skill, as well as increase their bond and attachment to you during play.
But I’m not a teacher? Parent, caregiver, teacher, friend… All the same. If you give care to a child, you are one of their teachers. They watch everything that you do, and hear every word you say. These young children are taking in the environment, the emotions, and the actions of every moment so that one day they can replicate the actions they see from you. Your child looks forward to time with you, and will look to you for information and answers to the questions that they can’t verbalize yet.
What Is the Adult Roll During Activity?
But infants are too young for curriculum? Contrary to popular belief, infancy is the best time to run curriculum. Their brains are absorbing everything around them and turning experience into evidence. Infancy is the best time to model skills, teach multiple languages, and set the standards of routine for the rest of their life.
But my child doesn’t want to pay attention? Yes that happens. This probably means that the curriculum wasn’t designed with them and their interests in mind. If your child is a “wild child” and loves to run around, hating to sit still…Make a movement-based activity. If your child loves to get messy, do an outdoor activity with mud, paint, water… If your child loves a specific toy that they refuse to let go of, make an activity based on that toy. Every playful interaction is a learning experience, and can provide more and more experiences when you are intentional and meaningful about what you plan.
This still seems complicated! I know… It is a learning process, especially for someone who hasn’t had experience in writing curriculum or learning child development. So, I adapted a curriculum form from my old childcare center, and made it easy. Parents and Caregivers, you don’t need to write this out, but I know that I am a planner. I love to write out plans just to help me and the situations go as smoothly as possible. I recommend writing it out the first few times, especially until this just becomes a natural process for you.
For this form, I will use a daunting task for many people…PAINTING. Painting always seems so difficult because of the clean up and the unknowns. Making plans can help prevent that, and make the clean up easier. I am also going to pair the activity with an interest AND a skill to work on that seems like it has no relationship to paint. So, I give you… my example:
I know- this is a lot... Which is why there is a video coming soon!
Give this a share, please. <3
I wish you well,
Have you ever felt so angry that you actually ‘see red’? For me, that looks like tunnel vision, where everything but my object of anger is blurred, and I see darkness around the edges, and everything does actually have a red hue. I also may not be able to think clearly, and my words are jumbled and confusing.
Have you ever felt so anxious that you cannot seem to do normally easy tasks? For me, that looks like shaking with blurry vision, where I can feel every single heart beat as if a hammer is pounding in my chest? My words come out jumbled and my tongue feels fuzzy.
Have you ever felt such sadness, that your heart feels heavy? For me, I feel my chest tighten, my muscles are so relaxed that I have difficulty grabbing a tissue or walking to grab something I need, all the while, my eyes burn with tears.
Have you ever been so excited that your cheeks ache from use? For me, I start jumping and dancing around, talking what seems to be a mile-a-minute, laughing uncontrollable, and falling into giggle fits.
If we, as adults share in these same feelings and emotions, imagine what it is like for a child who has not yet figured out which situations to prevent that cause these emotions? Imagine, being new on this planet, still learning the names of these emotions. Imagine not knowing how to control these emotions (which we adults struggle with too!). Imagine being two years old, and feeling these emotions, but not having enough language to tell exactly what you are feeling, but still feeling that emotion with all your body. Imagine then, that someone tries to identify why you are crying, but then tells you “Oh, it’s not that bad. You’re okay.”
Often times, adults overlook that emotions and emotional-regulation is learned and not automatic. What I mean by this, is that we forget to call the emotion by name, and acknowledge that the child’s emotions are real and valid (whether you understand or not.) Adults also tend to punish children for “emotional outbursts” by taking objects away or spanking or providing time outs… Though, when you think about it, what do those teach about emotion or emotional control?
Let’s take this a step forward: what could happen if we don’t teach emotional-regulation?
While these seem extreme, I was able to imagine adults in my life that were told to suppress emotion, and have transformed through these steps. Can you picture someone like this that struggles with identifying emotions, or has extremely large emotional ‘outbursts’ that could be scary or worrisome? Do you possibly identify with some of these things?
Just like any other skill, self-calming, emotional understanding, and emotional regulation is taught or learned. When you are looking for a childcare center or a place to work, I encourage you to ask what systems the school is using to teach these skills.
Here are some ways that a school could be teaching these skills:
ii.A stretching station for children to relax, stretch, or jog in place.
Feel free to ask questions or add to the list! I’d love to hear how you manage social-emotional behaviors at your school, within your home, or for yourself. Give this a like and a share with your interpretation! Give me a tag if you feel up to it, with your favorite ways to teach and regulate emotions.
I hope you have a beautiful day, and I wish you well.
The Fears of Choosing a Child Care Facility Part Two
Welcome back for part two! If part one was helpful for you, please give a share on Facebook or Instagram in order to help more families like yours.
I hope that the last part made it so that you know how important is for families to interview prospective preschools and child care providers. I was watching a TV show last night with my husband, and in the show, it was depicted in the way that preschools will interview the families and choose them based on their abilities and services that they can provide for the school. THIS IS NOT HOW IT SHOULD BE. The schools need you to pay for the services, but your needs are more important. Families need the school to nurture development in all areas, provide empathy, share resources, and take care of your child physically and emotionally. The media has erased that from our collective minds, and makes it seem like you should be providing services (money, diversity, fundraising, donations equal to monetary value) for the schools, when in reality, that is not the case. You have the ability to interview them, and I am hoping that the tools provided in part one will help you know what to question.
Alongside from providing your own sense of safety and security in the school, interviewing schools in this manner pushes the overall system of childcare to improve. When families take the power in this scenario, demanding quality care, then in the name of “supply and demand,” overall quality will rise. I beg of you- expect quality of us teachers, and overall the system will have no choice but to improve.
I wanted to make a part two and will be making a part three, because I wanted to individually address two more topics. I wanted to address “Discipline Policies” and “Social-Emotional Curriculum.”
Families, this should be included in your interview questions of the childcare center that you are choosing. Teachers, this should be included in your interview questions so that you know what to expect when you start the job, and be able to determine if it is a policy that you can agree with and are comfortable using.
What should the policy look like?
Just like curriculum should be designed to meet the developmental needs of a child, a discipline policy should be developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) as well.
In a nut-shell, it is important to make sure that the school’s discipline policy matches what the fields of psychology and child development are finding in the most recent and respected studies. Next week, I will continue with Social-Emotional Skills that support the ability to discipline a child and teach them how to be safe.
If you’ve read this, give a share so that it can support others. Whether you agree or disagree, share your thoughts alongside! Let me know what you think.
Wishing you well,
The Fears of Choosing a Child Care Facility
This is kind of a heavy topic, but I wanted to address it early on because this is such a concern for so many families. This post is a little longer than I intended, or intend to normally write… but it is probably one of the more important things that I could address for families; I ask that you continue to read to the end so that both you and I can be in unison.
While many families choose to have their child enrolled in a child care center to increase social skills and to assist in education, many families have no choice but to bring their child to a child care center in order to earn their living. In either case, both types of families simply want the best care for their child and to know that their child will be taken care of and educated in safety and love. While there is excitement that your child will get the chance to make friends and learn, there is also a huge fear of neglect and maltreatment. As a teacher, it breaks my heart to acknowledge that this is a possibility. We see it on the news or read it online… I can’t imagine the fear and heartbreak that a parent or caregiver has when imagining this happen to their child, or actually having lived through an experience like this. It does not help for me to say “not all teachers” because (while true), it doesn’t mean a thing when the possibility is still there.
The best advice I can give, is to assess the center that you will possibly be bringing your child to, and to give my advice on how to assess and what to look for. I have worked in the highest quality center that is imaginable, and I have also worked in centers that do not reflect my philosophy of “high-quality”; I feel confident that I can give tips on how to identify the differences. I also will acknowledge and address that many people do not have a choice in where their child goes because of funding, later on in this page. I will also mention to teachers looking for jobs at centers, this list can also support you in your interview process. Not only is the job interviewing you, but it is an exchange- you interview them also.
Also, I want to acknowledge that this is not cut and dry. Just because this is my experience, does not mean it is fact. I know that there are many teachers with hearts of gold and the teaching skills that outshine the sun that do not work in centers like I am describing. To those wonderful teachers, I ask: Can you imagine working at a center that reflects these practices, and how much more you would be able to achieve?
Let me be clear, this type of high-quality center with ALL of these components is not as common because of the budgetary restraints. These centers do exist, and it is up to you to look at this list and see what matters most to you, and interview your possible childcare facilities. What really matters is that your child will be well taken care of by someone with experience, love, gentleness, and respect for you, your child, and your home-culture. As a parent, you should never have your voice ignored because you are the biggest advocate for your child’s safety and development.
As I’m writing this, I was thinking about the organizational guru, Marie Kondo. When cleansing your home, you evaluate each item… Does it bring you joy? If not, you throw the item away. When you walk into a childcare center for the first time, look around the room with child-like lenses… Does this room bring joy? Do the teachers show joy on their faces when they don’t see you looking? Do the children in the room show overall joy? If not, that’s when I’d walk away.
Feel free to ask for any clarifications via Facebook or Instagram. I’d be happy to address your concern or question, whether it be making corrections or additions to this post.
This is a daunting task that many people have to make a choice… and when it comes your turn,
I wish you well.
***Part Two Next Week ***
We Are Teachers
Let’s start this blog off strong and to the point. On my Instagram page, I asked the question: “What negative stereotypes do you hear about early childhood development that drive you crazy?” I had a ton of responses, but there was one overwhelming consensus: that early childhood development professionals are more often than not, referred to as “babysitters” who “just play all day.” After personally hearing this almost weekly for six years, I think it’s time that we teachers set something straight:
Teachers for ages 0-5 are teachers. We are not babysitters. Period.
For many years, professionally educated preschool teachers, early childhood caregivers, and infant-toddler teachers have been underestimated in what they bring to society. While ECED teachers may have in the past, been uneducated people with big hearts open to caring for other peoples children in times of need, that is not as much the case today. In most cases, ECED teachers are professionals and qualified teachers and educators that are seeking degrees and permitting within the field with the same amount of love in their hearts. There are widely accessible resources for teachers that allow for us to seek constant professional development as the field grows and information becomes available.
Forty years ago, preschool teachers may have been babysitters. Twenty years ago, some caregivers may have been babysitters and some may have been learning how to be educators. Today, early childhood caregivers are teachers. We are not babysitters.
Years ago, early childhood educators were not required to receive education in the field, and that is where the stereotype comes from. While I personally believe that the states requirements for ECE teachers are still not enough, there are plenty of supplemental materials that provide teachers with all the blueprints to provide quality education to children- Resources such as NAEYC, QRIS, California Competencies, etc... (which I will talk about in later blogs). Each of these ask that teachers have higher education and provide accurate resources for families. Teachers in early education now hold the knowledge of child development growth patterns, curriculum development, activity development, classroom arrangement, leadership skills, social-emotional development understanding, physiological and psychological understanding, and more!
We teachers work with children through play, conversation, open-ended questions, and developing curriculum based on our knowledge of development. We teach about math, science, language, written language, and art. We recognize that none of these can be developed without social-emotional health, and that is something that the field is focusing on now, to provide comprehensive development for the children in our class. We work all day teaching, leading lessons, curing aches, teaching children about emotions and interactions, problem solving, and more… Then we spend our personal time working, on top of the eight hours we are paid for.
On our lunch breaks, we sit on our phones or computers searching for new teaching ideas, researching new theories, and learning so that we can go back into our classroom and present these new ideas. Then we walk back into the classroom with a genuine and giant smile on our face because we are so happy to see the children after our break, and then exhaust ourselves through moving, running, jumping, dancing, spinning, and singing. Then we go home and study for the next day’s lesson plans. The job is physically and mentally exhausting, but we gladly go back every day with smiles because we love our jobs and we love the children.
As an Infant-Toddler teacher (0-24 months), I see that this is the most-viewed group of teachers that are seen as babysitters instead of teachers. People think that all we do is play with babies, and then change their diapers, and put them to nap. Yes we do these things, but while we do these things, we are teaching. We are setting up curriculum for each individual child instead of one single curriculum for an entire class. We sing intentional songs to teach language, rhythm, and syllabic understanding. We use American Sign Language while we speak, and repeat ourselves a thousand times in order to help a child learn the word, sign, and understanding. We teach rational numbers, and we teach about the world. We help the babies with fine and gross motor development by setting up courses in the classroom to teach balance, safety, and spatial reasoning. On top of this, we infant-toddler teachers speak an entire language that many others cannot speak. We speak non-verbal ‘Infantese.” This means that we read facial expressions, micro-cues, and differentiate between different types of cries, gurgles, and sounds in order to interpret their language and teach them the words and skills for these non-verbal cues and sounds. Infant-teachers teach all day at every single moment while the most curious minds at their most critical point of development are watching and learning from us. We are teachers.
If I haven’t made it clear, early childcare teachers are teachers and deserve to be treated as so. How can you help? Reach out to your local government and get involved, because right now, preschool teachers are overlooked and that has become sorely clear during this pandemic. When you advocate for early childhood teachers, you advocate for the future of children and community at the same time.
Thank you Ashley, Kolton, Jordyn, Natalie, and Sher for helping me edit. <3
Who am I? Primarily, I am an infant-toddler teacher but I do have experience with all ages.
What is my purpose? I want to share my experiences as a teacher with other teachers, and I want to share my knowledge and education with parents (first time parents, third time parents, sixth time parents alike).
Why a blog? I realized when I entered my BA program for Early Childhood Development, that most teachers were either educated OR experienced, and were seeking advice from their counterpart. While I will never be the most educated or the most experienced, I do know that I have both settings and have a lot to offer other teachers. As for parents, when I worked with Infant-Toddler, I realized that most parents were hungry for information, but often were afraid to ask questions until I brought up a topic. Maybe because of the constant judgement against parents by online presences and trolls alike, or because of their culture, or because of who they lived with, or because of experiences they had...Parents more often than not, seemed afraid to ask for support, or simply didn't know where to ask for support.
What will be in this blog? This blog will cover topics ranging from development to curriculum to discipline, for ages 0-5. This blog will mostly cover infant-toddler because that is my passion and experience, and I also realized that there is not much on the internet from a teachers perspective on infant-toddler caregiving. I am a passionate advocate for the professionalization and recognition of infant-toddler teachers as teachers. In this blog, I hope to show how that is true, and where the current recognitions lay.
What will be the atmosphere of this blog? My goal for this blog is to create a non-judgmental space for parents, teachers, pediatricians, psychologists, and other professionals working with children to read, discuss, and feel informed, whether you agree or not. I do not want to give the idea that I know everything because that would be 100% false. I am ever-learning, ever-growing, and want people to be able to come to this zone without judgement or fear of correction. This blog's goal is to inform and keep myself informed.
In this blog:
I have been toying with the idea of starting this blog, because Infant-Toddler caregiving is my passion and my career focus. I've stalled on the idea because of a lot of different reasons...Among those reasons are:
I've come to realize these things during this global pandemic, in which I lost my job because of the COVID shut downs, and am now working with a wonderful group of hilarious ten and eleven year olds.
I have been thinking about why I feel so sad, when I am so blessed. I have been thinking about the children that were in my class and how grown they are now, almost a year later. I have been thinking about their sweet smiles, and missing those beautiful laughs, and even the sweet sound of crying. I miss my job with infants and toddlers.
So why would I start this blog?
Because during this pandemic, I have also evaluated my worth. Despite my self-doubts, of my worth and my skill-set, parents and teachers have reached out to me for advice. I constantly find myself sharing tips, tricks, and knowledge with teachers and parents alike. My Instagram feed is full of teaching sites, caregiving pages, child health, emotional guidance, and all things child development.
Even when my career has taken a weird turn for this temporary time, I still have channeled all of my energy, brain-power, and focus into learning about infants, toddlers, and their growth, behaviors, and health patterns.
This is my skill-set. I do NOT know everything, but I do know a lot, and I do have a natural affinity.
So here I am.
-I wish you well, today,