Our core belief as an organization about early childhood education is that children learn best while engaging in play. This concept is commonly referred to as “play-based learning,” and describes learning and development that occurs while at play. We know play when we see it, it occurs spontaneously, is child-directed, and provides opportunities for children to socially interactive, and is fun!
We now know that quality early childhood learning experiences are essential for the development of individuals. The research has finally shown what we all have long known that early care facilities can play a key role in developing children. The Harvard Center on the Developing Child reports that positive early learning experiences lead to longer life expectancy, better overall health, enhanced abilities to manage stress, and better social-emotional capabilities. Additionally, Harvard pointed to learning through play as key factor in promoting social-emotional development.
The gold standard of play, is “free play.” “Free Play” refers to unstructured, voluntary play in which children take the lead in planning and participating in. The child participating is responsible for using their own imagination, acting on their personal interests, and determine rules on their own. When completed with other children, all participants are given the opportunity to practice their social skills, learn to negotiate rules and roles, and enhance their executive cognitive functions (goal setting, planning, emotional regulation, etc).
Our curriculum seeks to insert play into all activities. Any activity that does not include space for children to creatively express themselves, utilize a playful attitude, and provide for the opportunity for improvisation. We believe that children thrive in an environment that allows for them to be themselves, and play naturally creates that environment.
Ahhh Spring… a time of new beginning; trees are sprouting, the sun is shining, and the snow has melted. Embrace the changing outdoor environment with these Spring activities listed below!
When the weather gets warmer, make sure you enjoy the fantastic environment that Wisconsin has to offer! Get outside, have fun, and be safe!
Recent studies continue to convey that the most important years in an individual’s brain development occur from birth to age 5, a period commonly referred to as “early childhood.” Every experience is new, and children arrive in this world as blank canvases.
A combination of genes, nurturing, and experiences- these are what will shape childhood development. As a childcare center, we serve children in the “early childhood” stage of development, but recognize that we only have some modicum of control over how the child is nurtured while in our care, and the types of experiences they have on a daily basis. We take our responsibility seriously and want to help others understand our early childhood education philosophy.
Montessori, nature-based learning, Walldorf education, and cooperative learning; these are just a few of the many popular philosophies shaping early childhood education programs in the United states. While approaches to early childhood education may differ, all credible philosophies share a common belief that children learn best through play. According to world-renowned human rights organization UNICEF, “Play sets the foundation for the development of critical social and emotional knowledge and skills.” We agree with this assertion, and therefore see our philosophy as “play-based,” meaning all learning revolves around play.
Our early childhood education philosophy is based on five core beliefs. Future blog posts will explore each of these beliefs in depth, and also how they contribute to the daily culture at Discovery Days and Kids Connection Child Care Centers.
Is your child staying up past their bedtime? Are they restless? Full of energy? Well some things may be keeping them up that we don’t even realize!
Fruit! Pineapples and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, are acidic, which can irritate sensitive bladders. While that slight irritation poses no health risks, it may be forcing your little one to go to the bathroom during the night, possibly multiple times. Your little one's favorite fruits and juices are best consumed earlier in the day.
Keep pets out of the bedroom! Dogs and cats are great for cuddling, but not for sleep. Donielle Wilson, a naturopathic doctor who sees many insomnia patients and is working on a book about natural solutions for sleep, says that pets wake up their owners too often. Even little critters like hamsters can get noisy enough to interrupt a kid’s sleep, so Wilson recommends that cages don’t stay in the room, either.
Dust frequently! If your child coughs or sneezes while asleep, or after wrapping themselves in their comfy blanket, they may be allergic to dust mites, the tiny microscopic creatures found in just about every home on Earth. Invisible to the naked eye, dust mites live in pillows, comforters and couches. While the mites are harmless to humans directly, they secrete a protein that can irritate our respiratory system. To minimize allergies, wash bedding frequently, avoid feather or down blankets and keep rooms dry and dust-free.
Establish a routine! Kids are creatures of habit -- both psychologically and physiologically. They do better with well-established schedules around homework time, dinner time and getting-ready-for-bed time. Create a bedtime routine that eliminates energizing activities and promotes calm and relaxation, such as reading or putting toys away.
Too much screen time! Children love swiping on Ipads, phones, computers, etc. However, they emit a Blue Light that decreases the production of sleep melatonin. That messes up the body’s internal clock and may keep our little ones awake longer.
Quality family time! Research suggests that sleep can improve simply by spending quality time as a family.
Ahh the season of giving! Its much more fun to give, than it is to receive. Sometimes its hard to teach our little ones that. Giving or sharing a toy can provide happiness for someone else, and that’s an amazing gift to give someone. But you cannot give what you don’t have. We are going to discuss things that can be given to others, that don’t cost a penny!
Some people may say, “Time is Money.” We try to live by a different motto, “Time isn’t guaranteed, so spend it with those you love.” Give your children or family members your time this holiday season. Watch a Christmas movie, play a game, build a gingerbread house, decorate the tree, etc. Just spend time together, because now more than ever it is easy to recognize that time together can be taken from us at any moment.
Give your patience in those stressful moments when it seems like everything isn’t going your way. Take a breath and deal with the annoyances, delays, rejections and setbacks without losing your cool. Patience isn’t always waiting or being passive. Patience is something we all can struggle with at times, but if you consciously work on it, its easy to understand that it is critical to moving towards your dreams and goals.
People give when they are grateful for what they have. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas we really emphasize being thankful when in reality we all have a lot to be thankful for year-round. Around these holidays, we come together with humor and love, but gratitude reigns supreme. Showing your gratitude for family members, strangers, teachers, everyday heroes, etc. can change someone’s life. Gratitude can be internal with a positive thought, or external like thanking a spouse. At times we can get caught up in the fast pace society we live in and can take things for granted. Take a moment this holiday season, and show your gratitude for the people in your lives.
Ahhh bedtime! Finally a time to recharge the batteries after a long day. Throw on your pajamas, turn the fan on, maybe a crack a window, and fall into that deep REM sleep to prepare for tomorrow. Getting enough sleep is very important to our mental and physical health. Even when we are sleeping, our brains are working while we rest. Establishing a routine for each night can let your biological clock know that it is time to sleep. This leads to less sleepless nights or restlessness. Here are some reasons why establishing a bedtime routine for yourself and child is important!
Throughout the day some children may have a harder time concentrating than others. Children who do not get enough sleep may have a more difficult time focusing or managing their moods. Making sure your child is well rested not only helps them to concentrate and to learn new things, but it also supports the brain to take in information and retain it.
Children who do not sleep as much as they should, may see a negative effect on their growth hormones. Growth hormones are primarily produced during sleep, a child that is lacking rest may develop a growth hormone deficiency. Lack of sleep can also affect a child’s weight. According to the Sleep Foundation, children who suffer from sleep deprivation may be affecting their leptin hormone which tells a child that they have eaten enough. If this hormone has been impacted, a child will continue eating even though they have had enough which can lead to obesity.
To ensure that your child gets the amount of sleep needed, it is important to start a sleep schedule at a young age and to be as consistent as possible with it. A bedtime routine will not only keep your child on a consistent schedule, but it will also help to calm your child down from the day and help them to fall asleep faster. A bedtime routine can be as simple as taking a bath, brushing your teeth, singing a quiet song together or reading a book.
Many times, our lives become so busy that we forget or don’t make the time to reflect on what is going on, the good and the bad. With the stay at home order, we now have had the time made for us. There is only so much organizing, cleaning, and home renovation projects you can do until you are left with your own personal thoughts. Maybe with the extra time, you picked up a new hobby, or you learned something about a family member or spouse that you did not know before, or you discovered a new interest that you did not know you had. I am going to list 3 things that I have learned since the stay home order was placed.
As many of you know, we have been posting weekly about our #LivingTheValues Campaign. This campaign aims to explain our company values: Commitment, Continuous Improvement, Character, and Optimism, as well as demonstrate where we see those values in our employees every day. Anyone and any company can say, “The values that mean the most to us our _____, ______, and ______.” However, the actions of the individual or of the company could be different and the values fall by the waist-side. There is a common saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” That is why we feel it is important to share specific instances, big and small, where our staff, children, and community members share our values.
Core values are the things that you believe are most important in the way you live and work. Core values should determine your priorities and the priorities of your company. Core values are what support the vision of your company and help shape its culture. They are the essence of the company’s identity – their principles, beliefs and philosophies. Many companies focus mostly on the technical competencies but often forget the underlying competencies that make their companies run smoothly.
Having clear core values makes decision-making a lot more simple. Making value-based choices may not always be easy. However, making a choice that you know is right is a lot less difficult in the long run. And if you empower your employees to make decisions, there is no better way than to have them make those decisions then basing those decisions on the core values of your company.
Lastly, always reinforce your core values. Remind yourself of them, and their importance. This will strengthen your relationships, as well as help as a reminder to make decisions in a fair and ethical manner.
So, what values mean most to you? Do you live by those values? Do your actions correspond with what you believe? How important are they to you?
Being charitable is another word for having gratitude and compassion for others, specifically those in need. To be charitable to others, I believe you first must be gracious for your own life. Gracious people are happier, more sociable, less depressed and neurotic, and have higher levels of satisfaction within their own lives. If you express gratitude to the people around you, you are recognizing that they are a positive impact on your life. Many times, the people around us do not even realize how important they are in our lives. I have always wondered why we don’t stop more often and be grateful and recognize that the people that need you, you may also need them.
Having compassion is the concern and willingness to help someone who is suffering. Identifying with another person – identifying with their pain, is hard-wired in us as human beings. Everyone’s resources are different when it comes to giving back and paying it forward. Maybe you can donate clothes, money, furniture, toys, and maybe most importantly your time. However, a common phrase is, “Be aware of the naked man, who offers you his shirt.” You cannot give, what you do not have. You do not need all the answers to help someone. Just be yourself and take time to be with them. Your presence can be more powerful than you think.
At Discovery Days & Kids Connection Childcare, we are always thinking of ways to pay it forward to our communities. Over the course of 20+ years we have organized countless toy drives, school supplies drives, 5k fundraising walks for Alzheimer’s or Brain Cancer or Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Food drives, Fundraising car washes, sponsoring local youth sports teams, and countless other events. We relate with the idea that there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.
So, go ahead! Lift the world up around you and pay it forward! It could be big or small like holding a door open for a stranger. Just whatever you do, make a positive difference in the lives around you!
Oh, the holidays. What a magical time of the year. Christmas is right around the corner, joy and glee are in the air, and family from all around are coming together! You find yourself responding to the same “what are you doing for the holidays?” question over and over, as well as seeing thousands of picturesque photos of people’s family’s, trees, homes, lights, etc. This can be a bit overwhelming with all the activities we may still have to complete!
So…ENOUGH already…this holiday season (because it’ll be here any second), let’s be a little kinder to ourselves—as in, give ourselves a break!
1. Avoid Competition—At All Costs
Remember that scene in How the Grinch Stole Christmas when Betty Lou Who was competing with Martha May Whovier for the best lights in Whoville? This is the equivalent to comparing your Christmas cards, trees, lights, homes, etc. to everyone else’s you see on social media. Step away from that comparison and focus on the people you love and the private memories you make—not the ones everyone sees you make. Those are fleeting; the real ones last a lifetime.
2. Saying No is fine!
The holidays are an inherently busy time of year with parties, school wrapping up, concerts and plays, shopping and wrapping, decadent meal planning…the whole nine yards. You can only be in so many places at once, and complete so many tasks. If you have the energy and the desire, go for it. But if you find you’re saying yes to too many things in a week (or a day), slow down. There’s no shame in only being able to do so much, and you’ll enjoy what you DO complete so much more. Simplify in your focus. What you focus on grows,
3. Remember What Who the Holidays Are About
With that overwhelming feeling, you may feel pulled in a thousand different directions: the kitchen, mall, work, the secret room in your house where you do the gift wrapping. We need to remember that we MAKE time the to have those precious memories with your family and dearest friends. These are the memories that your kids will remember when they have families of their own. Setting that standard that family is the most important thing is crucial. So, bring the kids to the mall with you (when you can); bake cookies with them, not just for them; snuggle up and read a Christmas book or watch a holiday movie together and leave your phone on the charger. Take time to be PRESENT this holiday season. It’s truly the greatest gift you can give, not just to those around you, but equally as importantly, to yourself.
Blake Kraussel, Director of Administration and Employee Development