Relationships among families and caregivers are one of the most important aspects of a child care experience. A parent will always be the first and favored caregiver to a child; however, creating lasting bonds and strong relationships with a child’s first teacher will show how highly-valued relationships are. This may be one of the first times a young child will learn to trust an adult outside of their home, who they’ll spend a bulk of their waking hours with. It is so important to feel good about the relationship being formed between the caregiver and all members of the family.
Despite the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under 2 watch no television, screens increasingly intrude into the lives of young people. Research shows that “new technologies haven’t displaced television and video in children’s lives—they have added to screen time,” escalating an already pressing issue. This screen time is at the very start of life, the formative time for the growth of intelligence that colors the whole of a person’s experience. We know that it’s the experiences in the early years that largely shape the emotional tone of being and outcomes in health, resourcefulness, creativity and productivity for a lifetime. Early social impressions are what connect the growing brain, for better or worse, and unfortunately, screen time only increases as children get older.
A person’s ability to think spatially—to use the spatial properties in the world to solve problems—has been linked to interest in, educational success in and careers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and there is growing evidence that teaching spatial thinking skills can lead to improvements in mathematics and science learning. By encouraging your children’s skills in spatial thinking, you can help ensure they can grow up to be whatever they want to be. And since infants start learning how the world works spatially (e.g., toys fall when dropped) immediately after birth, that encouragement should start from day one.
Let’s Grow Kids is thrilled to announce its partnership with ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in offering Vermont’s youngest children fun, high-quality learning experiences through ECHO’s new permanent early education exhibit, “Champ Lane,” opening Saturday, February 13! We at LGK are excited about this partnership with ECHO because we believe that every child deserves a strong start, we appreciate that ECHO has put so much thought into making learning fun, and we think the treehouse is pretty awesome!
New or expectant parents in Vermont struggling to find affordable, high-quality child care often wonder, what does quality child care look like? My experience as a child care provider has taught me some things that families can look for when they tour child care programs. The appearance and cleanliness are certainly key traits to notice. The physical environment can help support children in many developmentally creative ways and, in fact, I think we only enhance learning and development when we consider how a space affects the work being done. But it’s not always a look—I listen more than I look when I enter an early learning and child care program.
Together, we got a lot done this year.
As 2015 comes to a close, we want to thank you for all of your great work on behalf of Vermont’s young children. While there is much more to do to ensure that every Vermont child has access to high-quality, affordable child care, we have a lot to celebrate.
In its third meeting on December 17, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care moved toward a definition of “quality” in child care and agreed to a work plan for 2016.
In recent years and in the last month especially, the news has been full of reports of acts of terrorism and violence around the world and in our own country. Headlines like these can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, humans generally have the ability to control and adjust their fear response based on their thinking—which helps us maintain a balanced outlook on life. For our youngest children, who have not yet learned such coping skills, it is important that supportive adults are present in their lives to help them process the scary stories they may overhear and deal with subsequent strong feelings or thoughts.
More than 25,000 kids in Vermont live in homes where there isn’t enough food to properly feed them. This is because many parents are working at low-paying jobs and have a very hard time affording nutritious foods. Sometimes parents are working two jobs just to make ends meet and don’t have the time to shop and cook homemade meals very often. In these cases, families might feel forced to opt for low-priced, unhealthy convenience foods, instead. If all of these children had the opportunity to eat nutritious meals and snacks during the day—at home or in a child care program—they would be in a better position to grow up healthy, do well in school, get higher paying jobs and—as adults—to provide fresh, nutritious food for their own children, breaking that cycle of poverty.