Goal #1

January 26, 2019 Critical Thinking

Goal #1: To establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment
Safe
A child’s growth and development is continually shaped and influenced by their environment. One of the easiest ways to develop and preserve a safe and healthy environment for children is to abide by state licensing standards. These licensing standards are there to ensure that child care environments are safe and healthy for young children. Not only is the physical environment included in licensing, but teacher qualifications and the quality of educational programs are also included and equally important. I believe that teachers and caregivers with a solid background in childhood development, effective communication skills, and the ability to create developmentally appropriate learning experiences are much more beneficial to a young child’s education than someone without one or all of these qualities. Teachers also need to be educated on the different developmental stages of children to be able to eliminate any potential safety hazards. In my preschool classroom, I check for sharp objects or corners, broken toys, and toxic cleaning materials that may be left at a child’s reach. A safe environment provides children with the ability to explore and learn through play.

Healthy
A child care facility should take building security very seriously. Our building have a keypad installed for parents and employers to enter an exit the building. This is effective in controlling unauthorized entrance of strangers or unwelcome visitors. Surveillance cameras are also installed to monitor who is either entering or exiting the building. The program administrators work closely with local law enforcement, fire, and safety officials to assess a center’s risk and to develop security plans that will protect everyone in the building. The programs security plans are included in the parent handbook, for parents and guardians to know and become familiar with the center’s policies in emergency situations. Fire and storm/ disaster drills are conducted on a monthly basis, so that the teachers, as well as children, become familiar with the routine and exits, in case of a real emergency. Telephones are located conveniently outside of each classroom, in the event of an emergency.

Learning Environment
Bathroom toilets and sinks are accessible to children by providing child-sized hardware or stepping stools. A separate restroom area sis provided for the adult staff members. Hands must be washed, with antibacterial liquid soap, before and after eating, after using the bathroom, and after playing outdoors. Hand washing improves sanitation and limits the spread of germs. I have my children sing the “Happy Birthday” song to make sure they effective wash the germs off their hands.  The entire facility, including each classroom, is cleaned on a daily basis. I wipe down and sanitize each toy that was used during the day, sweep the floors, and make sure the bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper and are sanitary.

In the classroom, child-sized furniture needs to be chosen for the sake of the child’s comfort and safety. I sanitize table tops and infant changing surfaces after each use. Each child is provided their own individual storage space for their belongings, primarily to control the spread of infectious illnesses. Cabinets that contain medicines, cleaners, and/or potentially toxic substances are locked up and unable to be obtained by a child. When new toys or art materials are delivered, I make sure that they all indicate that they’re nontoxic.

The outdoor play areas of a child development center are just as important as the indoor play areas. Children need active outdoor physical activity for a healthy body and mind. On the other hand, physical activity puts the children at a higher risk of injury, so safety is a major factor in the design of an outdoor play area. At least one staff member that is trained in First Aid and CPR is on duty at all times. Our center offers three separate play areas: toddler, preschool, and after-school. It is important that licensing standards, such as the placement of equipment, safety and stability of outdoor play equipment, and use of protective materials, are carefully followed to ensure the safety of the children. I regularly inspect the outdoor play area that I am stationed in for harmful things, such as equipment with broken pieces and jagged or sharp edges.

Competency Statements: Goal #2
Goal 2: To advance physical and intellectual competence
Physical
I believe young children learn best through physical movement and interaction with their environment, therefore, they must be provided with endless hands-on and movement opportunities and experiences. To advance a child’s physical and intellectual competence, they must be involved in developmentally appropriate gross motor and fine motor development activities. Through gross and fine motor developmental skill building, young children are primarily using their senses, of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste, to start making sense of the world around them and giving meaning to the information being obtained. Because children first learn about their world through their senses, I make it a point to include sensory activities in the curriculum.
Cognitive
The children use their eyes to learn to recognize familiar faces and places, form preferences of what they like and don’t like (aesthetically), and learn to anticipate events from visual cues. Visual aids are a very important part of a early childhood classroom. I display pictures, artwork, and/or decorations in conjunction with the activities planned for that week.Their sense of hearing, which was developed even before birth, helps them to become skilled in understanding language and using that understanding to communicate with others. It also helps a child to identify and discriminate between various sounds or song, common and uncommon. Each week, I prepare a new, fun song for the children to learn that is tied into the lesson being taught. Eating is mostly identified with the sense of taste. Through tasting a food or object, a child can discriminate against or prefer certain tastes. Taste is also a key factor in exploration, especially during the first year of life when they seem to put just about everything they can get their hands on in their mouths. This is another reason why it is so important to maintain a safe learning environment, free of objects that could potentially be a choking hazard and toxic materials, for children of all ages. I have provided many nutritional snacking experiences for the children to possibly try foods they’ve never been exposed to before and to expand their palate. The sense of smell is in many ways tied into taste. Children usually judge the taste of food by how it smells, and not like it without even trying it. Learning to identify common and uncommon odors, as well as deciphering preferences, is the most important aspects of the sense of smell. Whereas all of the previously mentioned senses involved smaller areas of the body such as the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth, the sense of touch involves the largest organ, the skin. The sense of touch can send either positive or negative, and dispense messages of safety or danger, signals to the brain. Sensitivity to palpable stimulus is continually gained throughout infancy, and by early childhood, children gain incredible amounts of knowledge through this sense. A variety of tangible experiences should be regularly provided for infants and young children. I have found that sensory bag and nutritional snacking activities that correlate with the different seasons are most effective in children’s intellectual capabilities. In conclusion, I believe children boost physical and intellectual competence through hands-on and sensory activities provided by the trained education
Competency Statements: Goal #3
Goal #3: To support social and emotional development and to provide positive guidance.

Social and emotional development in children involves identifying and understanding their own feelings, accurately reading and comprehending the feelings of others, managing strong emotions, regulating their own behavior, developing empathy for others, and establishing and sustaining relationships. Early relationships with parents and caregivers lay the foundation on which social competency and peer relationships are built. I support positive emotional development by interact with children compassionately, showing consideration for their feelings and needs, expressing interest in their daily activities and past happenings, respecting their viewpoints, showing pride in their accomplishments, and providing encouragement and support with kind words during stressful times. Classroom environments should enable teachers the time to focus on each individual child. Small group sizes in classrooms help children and adults to function in a more focused, attentive way, and promote meaningful interactions with one another. I make it a point to talk or be available to converse with each child throughout the day; whether it be about what happen last night or what they’re thinking right at that moment. I like for the children and parents to find me approachable and comfortable to talk to. I form a strong bond with the children and parents by welcoming, openly communicating and sharing their child’s exciting day with them, so that they may feel comforted and protected while in they, or their child, is in my care. This means that the staff turnover in an early childhood programs should be kept to a minimum. I believe continuity of care is one of the most important aspects in a child care center. It promotes feelings of security and predictability in young children. Having continuity of care in a child care center is a feature that high-quality programs possess. Personally, I am still on the search for a center or school that meets my standards. It saddens/sickens me to work with individuals who are not there for the well-being of the children. They are there, more or less, for a paycheck and a social group. But, for the time being, I don’t let that bother me. I lead by example, speaking and being friendly with other staff members and not getting involved in unnecessary drama.

High quality early education school is organized in ways that allow children to form close, sustained relationships with teachers and encourage positive interactions with peers. Small group sizes and high adult-child ratios, competitive staff compensation and benefits, professional development, and other aspects of the program are geared toward fostering strong relationships and reducing teacher turnover. These components have been associated with positive social and emotional outcomes for children, including greater compliance, sociability, attention, self-regulation, and peer relations as well as lower rates of negative affect and behavior problems. Teachers with college degrees (two or four-year) and specialization in early childhood are better prepared to develop meaningful relationships with their students and create safe, nurturing climates that support children’s emotional well being than those who are uneducated and inexperienced. Children cared for by teachers who are highly involved and invested during their preschool years are less likely to display behavior problems and demonstrate increased social skills throughout elementary school.

I have personally been working with the children in my preschool class about feeling and the feelings of others. When a child says unkind words to another child, I quickly intervene and remind the child that if they have nothing nice to say, they best not say it at all; and I have the child apologize for what they said. On the other hand, hateful actions, such as hitting or scratching, are handled differently. The child is immediately removed from that setting and momentarily secluded from the other children. I ask the child if he/she knows why they are sitting there. If they can not answer, I give them the reason and have them repeated back to me. I ask the child if that is something they’d like to have done to them. They answer no. Finally, I ask the child what they can do to prevent themselves from getting in trouble next time. If they are unable to answer, I give them an alternative and have them repeat it back to me. I then let the child return to their classmates, but not in the same place were they had previously gotten themselves into trouble. By forcing the child to communicate their wrong-doings and bringing to their attention that theiA child’s ability to learn and to function as a contributing member of society rests heavily on the development of social competency and emotional health that begins at birth and is greatly influenced during the preschool years. Preschool programs that pursue the highest standards of quality will contribute substantially to this development.

Competency Statements: Goal #4
Goal #4: To establish positive and productive relationships with families
I believe that is essential to establish trust and respect, as well as keeping open communications with the parents/guardians of the children in your care at all times.  I do this by welcoming and talking with the parents each and every single day at drop off and pick up.  In the morning, it is the perfect opportunity to ask the parents how their morning is going and how their child slept over the night; as well as trying to accurately read the parent or child to see if there is anything new I should be informed about. In the afternoon or  evening , I am able to share with the parents how their child’s day has gone. If the child had a particularly rough day, I share the undesirable behavior with the parent; along with at least one positive note. Also, I show the parents that I genuinely care about their child and their success by asking if there is some sort of disciplinary action plan they have at home that they would be willing to share with me to attempt eliminating the negative behavior while in their learning environment.

I also believe that accurate daily activity sheets for infants and toddlers should be completed and sent home with the parents at the end of each day. This way the parents can feel more trusting and connected to their child’s caregiver/s. These sheets show the parents several things:
the specific times of diaper changing and bowel movements
how much their child ate and what they ate
how much they slept and when they napped
how much they drank and what they drank (bottles)
comments about their child’s daily activities
any concerns, questions, or special notes
Another way I keep an open line of communication with the overly-busy parent in my classroom is to post and/or send home a weekly newsletter. Newsletters enable myself to inform the parents of the activities planned for the week to come.  What art projects they will be doing, which songs we will be singing and to encourage the parents involvement. It may also contain special articles and information pertaining to young children’s health, growth and development.

I encourage the parents to call or stop by at any time and see how things are going; or to join us for lunch if they are available.  It is important for the parents to feel welcome and as involved as they are possible.  I make it a point to work in partnership with parents to help reinforce positive and desirable behaviors and morals in young children. If consistency is kept between school and home expectations, the child will know their boundaries and what is expected of them regularly.

Trust, respect, consistency and communication are the four keys to establishing positive and productive relationships with families.

Competency Statements: Goal #5
Goal #5: To ensure a well-run, purposeful program responsive to participant needs
I believe that in order to ensure a well-run, purposeful program responsive to participant needs, developmentally-appropriate materials are of the utmost importance. I do not use or condone ditto sheets, coloring books, or other pre-made supplies in my early childhood classroom. All of my activities are planned for the specific age group I work with and care for. The toys provided in my classroom, such as wooden building blocks, 10 to 25-piece puzzles, and puppets (to name a few), are appropriate for my preschool level children’s developmental needs. The equipment provided in each classroom, including tables, chairs, sinks, and shelving, are all child-sized. This way the children can become more self-sufficient and confident in preforming regular daily tasks.

Organization and consistency are two beneficial factors in a well-run and purposeful program. In my classroom, files are kept orderly (alphabetically) and up-to-date. I also have adequate storage space in my classrooms to eliminate clutter and disorder. The program provides each classroom in the center with similar daily schedules and disciplinary actions. This will inevitably make graduate transitions from one classroom to another easier and the children will also know what is expected of them, behavior wise, in each class they advance to.

Communication between staff members and parents are also imperative to the success of a child care program. All members of the staff must vow to act as professional adults while at work, especially with young children. Unnecessary drama and catty behavior have absolutely no use in a child development center. The administrative and teaching staff must work together to ensure their practices are developmentally appropriate, and to share new and/or creative ideas with one another. It is also the responsibility of a teacher to establish an open, trusting relationship with the parents of the children in their care. This way parents can freely communicate their thoughts, concerns, and/or suggestions about their child or the program. I have commonly been labeled as approachable and kind. I value my ability to listen to others and give valid advice based on the schooling and training I have been blessed with. Parent satisfaction is something that I, and every child care or development center, should strive for.

Competency Statements: Goal #6
Goal #6: To maintain a commitment to professionalism
I will maintain a commitment to professionalism by pledging to be a live long learner and to take advantage of the many opportunities to further improve my competence in early childhood education and development, and better understand the needs of families and the children in my care. I will use what I have learned through the education I have received to make educated decisions while working with young children and their families.

I pledge to practice what I preach and perform to the best of my ability every day to ensure that all children in my care will be receiving the appropriate educational foundation that all children need and deserve, and high quality care. I can only hope that my passion and love for caring and educating young children encourages others to find out what they’re truly passionate about, gain an education, and pursue what they love to do. I don’t think there is an occupation more fulfilling or gratifying than this. My deepest desire is to make a difference in the lives of the families and children I care for and pray that they go on to live happy, healthy, successful lives; partly due to the early educational foundation I had a hand in building .