I've been around Daycare all of my life. The most important thing I think that get lost during the creation of regulations for states is: Not all children are the same. This is important to acknowledge because many of the ways that a high quality childcare is identified is not by the teachers but by all the things you have in common with another. For example a cozy corner. A cozy corner is an area in the space for children to sit and chill out alone. This is a great idea. It also presents a problem because according to the same regulations you are not allowed to separate a child from the rest of the group.
So addressing the cozy corner issue. They want soft things like pillows or chairs in the area. Now if you have been working with children as long as I have or even longer, you know that not all individual children are in the same and groups of children are not all the same. What worked for one group may not work for the next group. Knowing this is half the battle when trying to make sure that you are providing the children with a positive educational experience. For some groups of children the soft area is actually calling to them to throw the chairs or pillows at their friends. This can lead to all sorts of problems within the program. This is not something I am ok with and as the person with the children you would think I would be allowed to make the best decisions needed for the children I care for. But that is not the case for providers. Many of the regulations do not allow for the provider to feel like they can make decisions. As more of the regulations move to treat family childcare homes like schools, the people creating the regulations have forgotten that we do not have the space or funds to do elaborate set ups or have as many things out and available. They also not treat the providers that are doing the job like professionals. We are still seen the way the field got it start: Moms just babysitting to help the neighborhood or for extra cash. The field has evolved and we have many experienced and educated professionals in the career field.
The not allowing children to sit alone is not a good practice. Children are not the same. I need to stress this. A child sitting alone is NOT A PUNISHMENT! A child sitting alone gives them time to re group and learn how to control their emotional levels. Preschool children are suppose to be learning how to mange their emotions. Sometimes they need to sit alone in order to do this. Making a child feel like they have to stay around people at all times can be very overwhelming and I am convinced this may be a reason so many children have a hard time in large centers. A cozy corner is not the way to solve this issue because the cozy corner is not technically an alone area. I also think that these regulations do not address that there are children with social anxiety or any type of anxiety in fact or autism. These children need to have time to process away from the group. And sometimes away from the teacher. It is not a bad thing for a child to sit and learn to breathe and come back to the group. Ultimately, I feel that some of these regulations are taking away the ability for the provider to make the best decisions for the children in their care and preventing the parents from having a say in the way their children are cared and educated. Which is not what you want.
This also applies to the type of curriculum that is used. I researched for years before settling on Mother Goose Time. The thing I liked about Mother goose time is that we are able to make the curriculum our own. While the curriculum gives us enough things to do, we are able to look at the ages and stages of the children in our program and pick out what they can and can't do. For example, some of the science I am not able to do because of the Military FCC regulations. They are by no means dangerous, but many times there is an overreaction to something that has happened and it prevents others from providing a well rounded learning experience.
If you work with babies mostly or toddlers there are two enrichment curriculum that allow you to introduce all the preschool materials, but in a way that the younger children can experience. This may seem crazy to you but trust me it is never a bad thing to introduce young children to abstract concepts. As long as you go into the learning experience with open eyes and the ability to have fun the children will pick up way more than you thought and learn to apply it as they get older.
The most important part of working with children is remembering that blanket generalizations helps no child enjoy the learning experience. The best part of a small group is that the providers are better able to pick out curriculum for their class that can work for all children and on an individual basis. My next blog will be about how to break down pieces to address the different children that you may have in your home or business!
Til next learning time!