Monday, October 29, 2012

Follow Up from Last Week

Last week, I discussed some of the behavioral issues are dealing with right now. I described the group mural activity where I intentionally set up problems, such as overcrowding and not enough supplies. That, however, gave us plenty of opportunities to practice being patient and modeling language to get what they needed.

What this all really boils down to is teaching respect. And that is my focus right now. We started with teaching respect amongst our peers, and now we are going to move on to be respectful to adults...all adults.

On Friday, we continued to work on being respectful to our friends. We had no special activities that day so I could just focus on their play. Each and every time I caught someone not speaking nicely to another, or taking something away, or pushing someone out of their way, etc....I would stop them and model the language that I expected them to use. This was actually quite successful, and, and after 2 days of doing this, I was starting to see some improvement by the end of the week.

Of course, after the weekend, I fully expected to be starting over today. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were being a lot nicer to each other and actually playing a lot better together. We still occasionally have moments where they aren't quite sure how to say something yet, but that's ok, this is how we learn. The best part is that the tone they are using with each other has greatly improved.

This week we will continue on this path, but we are also going to be working on being more respectful towards adults. This includes not just me, but every other adult who enters my house, and towards their parents.

I haven't been very impressed lately with how some of the kids have been acting when their parents show up. A lot of it is that there are two authority figures present, so they push it. We are going to work on this. It is stated in my policies that I expect the kids to follow the rules even when their parents are present, and will step in when necessary to enforce this. I'm going to be doing more of this. I know sometimes as the provider and as the parents we are worried about stepping on each other's toes, or aren't quite sure how to handle the behavior. Let's not worry about that. Let's just focus on getting the behavior that we would like to see. If I step in, I will be looking at it as I am modeling for you how I handle this type of behavior. Please look at it the same way.

Most of these kids are heading off to school in just a few months...let's make sure they are prepared in all ways!

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's So Much More Than Just a Group Mural

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen this photo where I questioned if a group mural project would help us with some issues we are having with getting along. But first, we need some history.
We seem to be stuck in a rut. And not a good one. It started out innocently enough. See, I like to give choices when I can, because so much in a child's life is not optional. So, all of our free play and group activities are always optional, although most kids usually tend to participate. We always have one child or another who may not choose to do art, or play with blocks, or whatever for awhile, but they usually come back.

So one day, as I always do, I asked who wanted to join me for circle time. I really don't know that I've ever had a child not want to before. But on this particular day, one child didn't want to, and I said ok. I really think it started out as a challenge to see if I would really allow it to be a choice. Because as every kid knows, us adults tend to ask them if they want to do something, and when they say no we make them do it anyways. For example, how many times have you said to your child "do you want to put your shoes on so we can go", and they have said no. And you make them put on their shoes and go anyway. I thought so!

So, of course, the other kids are amazed that one child is in the playroom playing while the rest are having circle time...an activity that we all seem to enjoy. And guess how many preschoolers joined me the next day? Yep, none. I only had toddlers. Which was fine, this was a novel idea and eventually they would come back, right? Well, guess how many joined me the next day. Yep, none. Because of course those toddlers now followed the big kids to the playroom. And nobody has been back yet.

So. Now what do I do? The novelty has not worn off. So let's just not have circle time for awhile and make it new again and they will be back, right? Nope, that didn't work either. And those lovely group activities that we have at our green table. Yep, not doing those anymore either because one child wasn't so now no one is. Or I am dealing with so many behavioral issues that I don't have a chance to even get an activity going.  And all that fighting and complaining and being mean and not following rules and pokiness and blah blah blah blah blah that we (I'm including you parents here) have been complaining about? Yeah, that is still going on, of course.

And I am so over it.

So what's my solution? I really don't know yet. I'm grasping at straws and hoping something works. I realize kids all go through these phases. A lot of it is just a developmental stage that is aggravating. This is just the first time I have had five in this phase at once. And this seems to be the longest freaking phase in history. I'm used to this lasting a few weeks. I have realized lately that this has been going on for months. I swear they are subconsciously keeping each other in it!

I've questioned whether it was them or me. I've made some changes, but nothing really helped. I'm now convinced that it's more about them testing the boundaries and seeing who will let them get away with what. What they can get away with when they think they are not being watched...that has been a biggie lately. 

So back to the original photo....looks innocent enough, right? Looks like many other activity setups at the green table where I would let the kids come over 1-2 at a time. Although I already know they aren't going to if it's optional. So what do I do?

First off, we have circle time. With everyone. No option given. They are told we are having circle time now, and when I got some saying "I don't want to, I want to play"...they were told to go sit down for circle time. We made it short and sweet. A familiar song. A story. A finger play. Everyone go find a spot at the green table. Nope, it's not playtime, everyone find a spot at the green table.

A little crowded, isn't it? I did everything I possibly could to make this into a complete disaster. I crowded them all around one small table with one big piece of paper. We were making a mural of all the things that we might see on Halloween. So I made sure that there were not nearly enough of the colors that were going to be the most popular. I even moved a couple kids around to be sure that I had the most volatile arrangement.  I wanted bickering and pushing. And no I have not lost my mind! Oh, I made them stay at the table for 30 minutes, even when some were ready to leave after 2 minutes.

I went completely against my instincts and every training I have ever went through on how to set up a successful activity.

On purpose.

So what happened during this 30 minute nightmare activity, you ask? Just what you are expecting, arguing, pushing, whining...just what I set it up to be. You are still wondering if I've lost my mind, aren't you?

By the way, there are no photos of the process. I was too busy. Because they were crowded, inevitably someone was yelling at someone else because they were in their way, or just pushing them out. Then I would step in, model how to politely say, "excuse me, you are in my way", and they would say it to their friend (I use that word loosely these days!), repeatedly in some cases until we could do it nicely, and then model what the friend should say, etc, etc. We did this for each situation that arose, and trust me, there were many...one right after the other. And eventually we settled into the activity and everyone was being polite and getting along. A great conversation got started, where I was given several suggestions for costumes ideas.

And playtime afterwards actually went a little smoother than it has been.

So I know one activity hasn't fixed everything. And I'm kind of grasping at straws here, but I think I'm going to stay on this path and see what happens. I do not recommend trying this, but we are in an extreme situation here and something has to give. This group is seriously challenging me right now. But we are going to get out of this rut.



Monday, October 22, 2012

So Why the Name Change?

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen a very subtle name change announcement on Friday. I have been asked why, so here's the explanation:

A little history first. When I first started the daycare over 13 years ago, it was because the daycare my children were attending was closing. I wasn't easily finding a new one, and joked that maybe I should start my own. Apparently, I wasn't joking. The day I opened I was full, as a few of the kids from our old daycare came over to mine.

Our plan ("our" meaning the hubby and me) was to only remain in business until our then youngest started school. That would have been 3 years. So, at the time, it didn't seem really necessary to give a lot of thought to what the daycare's name would be. We pretty much just slapped on the first thing that popped into our heads...Bev's Daycare. Very original.

About 6 years in, I realized we were going to be in this for awhile, and began to regret not putting more thought into the name. But I didn't want to just slap another one on just for the sake of it. I was looking for something that was meaningful to me. To reflect me and my beliefs and what we really do around here.  And of all the things that we came up with just never felt quite right. Although my personal favorite was the one Jory came up with a couple years ago...Bev's Aultimate Daycare. You know...because our last name is Ault!

Fast forward to last week. I wasn't even thinking about names. I was actually thinking about the frustration that I have been feeling, and I know some of you parents have been feeling because we have talked about it, with our older kids. And while I was thinking about this I reminded myself that we are raising kids who someday we hope will be productive, responsible adults. Which led me to think about what my hero, Lisa Murphy, aka The Ooey Gooey Lady, says that we are doing. This is taken directly from her book "Play":

Play is the cement that keeps our foundation together. When our foundation is strong, the house of higher learning -the house of academics - can be built. And the house will be strong because the foundation supporting it is strong as well. And the foundation supporting it consists of play.
 
Ms. Murphy also says that if we build the house for learning without building that strong foundation, the house will eventually collapse. I also believe that within that foundation we are building all the other aspects for success...respect, responsibility, self-help, etc.

So some of you have been around me long enough to understand the weird way my brain works. Some of you have also had the misfortune of experiencing one of those out-of-the-blue lightbulb moments that entirely disrupts everything else going on. That what happened here.

I was thinking about what was still needed in the foundation for these kids. I was thinking about what blocks were maybe not entirely concrete or maybe just not there yet. The building blocks. What are Bev's building blocks?  Wait...what did I just say?

Yep...that's exactly how the thought process went.

When I texted Tracy (my husband) about the name idea, I was explaining to him the reasoning. One text said "and it goes along with the ooey gooey philosophy of building the foundation of lifelong learning. Oh @?&!, there's a new motto!"

Which has actually now become "Building the Foundation for a Lifetime of Success".

Yep, that's how my brain works.

I have registered the domain name, so now we have a much easier to remember website and email addresses. The old link will still get you to the website, and the old email will still be active for awhile yet.  Oh yes, one other question I have been asked...parents, you do not need to make any changes to your online pay account. I made the changes on my end, and have already received notices of payments to the new email account. So all is good there!

So that's how I came to find a name that feels right. That explains me. That is Me. I know that alot of people might not get the seriousness of the name Bev's Building Blocks Daycare, and I may have to explain the name alot...I'm ok with that. I have to explain why we do what we do alot anyway. And for me...it will be a daily reminder.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lunchtime!

If you follow us on facebook, you probably noticed a couple photos of our lunches this week. Often, when providers get together, menus become the topic of conversation. Everyone seems to always be looking for new ideas and recipes, or wondering how to get lunch on the table when you are busy with the kids. Parents sometimes have no idea what something is when they see it on the menu. So I thought posting some photos for awhile might help!

It's no secret that I really don't like to cook. I like menu planning even less. That is why I now have 12 weeks (week 13 is in the works!) of rotating menus for breakfast, lunch and snack. For the next few weeks we will focus on lunches, and if there is interest, we will move onto breakfast and snack.You can see our weekly menu here. We are on Week 1.

I also don't like to have to leave the kids to go make lunch. This used to not be such an issue when my mom was coming to cook for us. But now that she no longer lives in town, I am on my own. That is one of the most popular questions I get asked now...how am I managing that on my own? Most of the time, lunch is being made prepared during breakfast. I use the crockpots, pressure cooker, or oven whenever possible. Hhhmmm...maybe this would be something else you would like me to make note of in my photo posts? Let me know!

For example, all of the ingredients for yesterday's Chicken Pizza Hotdish were dumped in the pressure cooker during breakfast. The frozen corn was put in my little crockpot (no water added). Today's taco meat was cooked while I was making the waffles for breakfast, and put in the crockpot.

If you are interested in a recipe or have any other questions about any of our lunch menus at any time, you can comment here, on facebook, or email me. Have a suggestion? I'm always open to those as well!

Happy Planning/Cooking/Eating!