I visited a NC 5-star licensed center in the Piedmont Triad area, thinking I’d have few recommendations. But when I entered an infant room, babies were lined up facing the teacher: two were in swings, three in infant seats, and one in a seated playpen. There was a mat on the floor, but teachers had placed seats, rather than babies, on of it. Being restricted to seats, swings, playpens, and cribs when awake doesn’t help babies learn to move their bodies, use their muscles, or develop their minds and personalities. Put them on the floor – on their backs unless you’re sitting with them.
Baby cribs with one side that drops down are no longer sold. The drop-down side separates too easily from the crib, and babies get trapped between the side and the mattress. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports multiple child deaths from unsafe cribs and the more dangerous cribs were recalled.
All of the older cribs are now prohibited from public use, including child care centers and hospitals. Cribs manufactured and sold after June 2011 must meet new federal standards for safety.
New crib hardware has to be stronger and the slats closer together. A crib’s mattress support, slats, and hardware are now required to be more durable and manufacturers have to test cribs to ensure they meet the more stringent requirements.
The CPSC asks that you tear old cribs apart before throwing them away. Don’t give them away or sell them. How terrible that another baby might die from sleeping in an unsafe crib.
Please google and read The Hell of American Day Care in New Republic magazine, published on Monday. It tells the story of how four children died in a fire in a child care home in Texas, and gives some reasons why child care is often unsafe. It focuses on a mother who spent two hours interviewing the child care home operator, who seemed open and honest, warm with the children, and promised to teach Christian values.
And now, after attending a NC conference Saturday, I finally understand how the education points, which help determine the number of stars on a child care license, are calculated.
I’m sorry to say, however, that there’s no easy way to explain it! It requires multiple worksheets to work through the formula. I may try in a future post!
Did you know that part-day preschools, operating four or fewer hours per day, are not licensed in North Carolina? They may be great for preschoolers, but there’s no government agency visiting, monitoring, or providing any kind of oversight. Are part-day programs licensed in your state?
Just one more story from the Virginia-licensed and nationally accredited child care center I visited. A teacher placed an infant on the floor on his stomach and said it was “tummy time”. She worked around the room, changing diapers and attending to other babies, as did the other teacher in the room. After eight minutes, she noticed that the little guy on his tummy was tiring and showing an inability to continue to hold his head up, so she sat next to him and picked him up. The problem?
Teachers placed some infants in cribs without putting on their sleeping sacks, which make it more difficult for infants to roll over onto their stomachs. The problem?
Did you know that church-sponsored child care programs are not licensed in North Carolina? They are inspected each year but are exempt from some key licensing requirements. For example, corporal punishment is not prohibited in church-sponsored programs if it’s included in a discipline plan that’s approved by the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education.
Not only is the center I visited state-licensed, it’s also nationally accredited. Most of the teacher interactions with children were positive, nurturing, and responsive to the child’s needs. But there were a few exceptions. A toddler put a stick in his mouth on the playground, and a teacher took it from him and threw it on the ground, saying, “That’s nasty.” No discussion.
The scheduled time for naps was over. One little guy was still sound asleep on his cot and did not want to get up. However, nap time was over and the teacher physically picked him up from the cot and took him to the table for snacks, where he sat crying loudly.
A teacher was holding a toddler who had become upset about his mother leaving him. He slapped her, and she put him on the floor, saying, “I’m done.”
What would you have done?
The center I visited in Virginia is state-licensed and is part of a national chain known for better teacher salaries and benefits and high program quality. And children were happy and busy during most of my visit.
But some of the preschoolers didn’t have enough interesting things to choose from during the morning free choice/free play time. The classroom was equipped and teachers were involved with the children’s play, but the teachers had not planned a teacher-led activity for this time.
The lesson plan posted in the room included only one teacher-planned activity for the whole day. Teachers in this room were not using the free choice/free pay time for intentional teaching and learning.
Without enough interesting activities to choose from some children were bored and aggressive with classroom materials and with each other, and teachers were busy with re-directing and guiding.
Do you see this happening in child care and preschools? Why?
After preschoolers and pre-kindergartners finished their lunch and cleaned their places, they moved to the library area. There, one teacher read quietly to the group while another teacher helped each child one by one prepare his or her sleeping cot. At the end of the quiet story, each child lay down to rest in dimly lit rooms with quiet music playing in the background. Children knew the routine and were ready for at least a short rest after a busy morning full of activity.