Tag Archives: NC child care

Would You Choose This Infant Room?

The front entrance is locked and has a doorbell so that staff at the reception desk are alerted to visitors.  The co-director didn’t seem to be expecting the new parents and me, even though I had called and scheduled the visit.

The lobby and corridor have large, low windows that allow children to see outside.  The reception desk and lobby are spacious but mostly bare, with an industrial feel that was not warmed by welcoming signs, comfortable furniture, displays of children’s work, or much information posted for parents.

In the very large infant room were three very young infants with one teacher who had been working in the room for several years.  There was a daily schedule and a lesson plan with infants’ names, indicating that the teacher plans activities for each individual baby, and the center provides daily reports and an annual assessment of the child’s development to parents.  But when I asked about curriculum and how children’s activities are planned, the director responded that children learn through play and neither she nor the teacher explained the curriculum, the teaching, or the children’s learning.

There was a soft mat on the floor and some, but not many, cloth books and manipulative toys on low shelves for the infants, and cribs with clear sides and ends on the other side of the room.

One infant was asleep and swinging in a baby swing, rather than in a crib as recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics because infants in swings can get into positions that result in suffocation.  There was also an infant in a baby swing in the adjacent room.

There is an outdoor covered play patio/porch with a ceiling fan immediately outside the classroom door.  The patio is a hard surface that accommodates a soft mat for infant time outdoors.  But when I asked about outdoor time, rather than explaining the NC requirement for daily outdoor time unless it’s actively precipitating or there’s a public weather announcement or advisory, the director explained the time depends on the weather.

In the corridor outside the classrooms is a video monitor where parents, staff, and managers can observe the rooms.  The director said there is another monitor in the office, but when I asked about taping the classrooms, the director said that they could if they needed to.

The director explained that the operating hours are 7:00-6:00 and that a child can be in care for 10 hours, and the fee is $199 per week.

The center was awarded the top 5-star North Carolina child care license, earning all 7 of 7 possible program points and 5 of 7 staff education points, plus the 1 possible quality point.  This coincides with the ample space in the classrooms, the adult-to-child ratios of 1:4 infants, and the age-appropriate interactions and curriculum materials.

The center earned a perfect score on their most recent sanitation inspection, which is reflected in the spacious, new- and clean-looking facility, where eating areas are separate from classrooms.

The center is not accredited by an outside professional agency such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the largest professional early childhood association.

Would you choose this infant room?

20 Years of Smart Start in North Carolina

About to wrap up the 3-day National Smart Start conference with a luncheon to celebrate 20 years of improving child care quality and school readiness in North Carolina.

North Carolina leaders started Smart Start because some kindergartners weren’t ready to succeed in school.

What do you think is most important for children who are entering kindergarten?  What should they know and be able to do?  How do we make sure they have this knowledge and abilities?

Children’s Work

At the 5-star center in the NC Piedmont Triad, the bulletin boards installed around the center displayed commercial and adult products, not what children are doing. I recommended the teachers display and document children’s work, with short captions that explain why children are doing what they’re doing – what they’re learning.

Likewise, classrooms had an abundance of adult-initiated work, use of templates that children added something to. Instead, teachers can provide open-ended materials for children’s work: their art, scribbling, writing, crafts, creativity – materials that encourage exploration, problem-solving, and thinking, rather than following an adult template or pattern.

What do you see in child care centers?

“The Hell of American Day Care”

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.

What is Family Style Dining?

When I visited a child care and preschool center in Virginia, toddlers, preschoolers, and pre-kindergartners cleaned and sanitized the tables before setting them for lunch.  They put their own food on their own plates and poured their own milk.  Teachers helped the children who needed it, especially the toddlers, who usually need a little physical support with holding, serving from, and passing bowls and pitchers.

Teachers sat at the tables and ate and talked with children, guiding them in sharing a pleasant meal and conversation, just like families do at home.  Teachers use “family style dining” every day to help children learn self-sufficiency, social and conversational skills, as well as good nutrition.

After they were finished eating, each child cleaned up his own place.  Teachers guided and helped as needed but didn’t do the work for children who were still awake and engaged enough to do it themselves.  Why?  Is that what you’ve seen preschools doing?  Is that what you do at home?