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Tuesday, October 22, 2002 08:27 PM Last Updated

Child Care Magazine

Archive Issue 3

The Economics of Child Care Sherri Karan 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Financial Cost of Child Care
Different Milestones, Same Pain Deb DiSandro 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Humor in Child Care WC
Dancing with Debussy's Golliwogg Christine L. Pollock 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Music & Art  in Child Care WC
Soap-With-a-Toy Lisa Maliga 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Projects, Crafts, and Games
To Pre-School or Not - That is the Question Jenifer McCrea 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Child Care Issues WC
Should Your Nanny Live-In or Live-Out? Elizabeth Pennington 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Nannies & Child Care WC
Helpful Hints for Parents of Pre-School Children Noreen Wyper 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Child Care Advice
Is a Home-Based Business in Your Future? Victoria L. Pietz 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Start-Ups in Child Care
Q & A Weekly Column (Issue #3) Heather Haapoja 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Question & Answer WC
Prime Time Parenting - Let The House Rule Deb & Dave Graham 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Prime Time Parenting WC
Kitchenlab Kindermath (Issue #3) Noreen Wyper 6/15/2001 Issue 3, vol. 6.3 Kitchenlab Kindermath WC


Baby Gifts & Learning Tools
Baby Gifts & Learning Tools

Kitchenlab Kindermath, Tutorial #3

By:   Noreen Wyper


A can, a ball, a cone, a block,

An orange, an apple, a smooth, round rock.

Roll them, slide them, stack them up,

Can upon can, cup upon cup.

Shapes: Three- dimensional: Tutorial #3: To identify and sort 3D objects such as cans, blocks, balls, and cones.

A 3D shape is an object you can pick up and feel its wholeness. Once again, work with one shape at a time. Never underestimate the child’s ability to acquire higher vocabulary. They think it’s fun!

Give the child a ball and search the kitchen for similar round objects. Incidentally tell the child that these round balls are called "spheres." ( grade one terminology ) Suggestions of spheres in the kitchen are certain types of apples, oranges, cantaloupe, melon, turnip, cabbage, heads of lettuce and meatballs.

For the block, cut out a square piece of sponge and let the child know this is a "cube." Cubes can be found in some boxes and ice cubes. Next, give the child another block shape in the form of the cereal box. This is called a " rectangular prism." How many other rectangular prisms can you find?

Using a soup can (cylinder), match it up to other soup, vegetable, spaghetti sauce, coffee and juice cans. Arrange them in groups according to size. Stack them in towers according to color. This is a great opportunity to reinforce the math language of small, medium, large; big, bigger, biggest; tallest and shortest. How about other cylinders such as straws, spice jars, paper towel rolls, canisters and rice cakes?

Working with the "cone" shape has its limitations. Suggestions are the original cone that can still be found at the ice cream store, plastic funnels with the tip cut off and making paper cones.



  1. Walk around the house and match the ball, can, box and cone to other household objects such as building blocks, Kleenex boxes, marbles, beads, pompoms, candles, shower rod, etc.

  2. Choose several smaller shapes and place them in a gift bag. This will become the child’s "feely bag." The child closes his eyes and reaches into the bag to feel one shape at a time. How does the shape feel? ( round, flat, pointy, etc.) What shape do you think it is?

  3. Take it out and positively identify it. As the "feely game" progresses, group similar shapes together. This is called "classification." Using toothpicks and miniature marshmallows build a cube or a rectangular prism. Extend the shape into an object. ( house, wagon, castle ).

  4. Place three plates side by side. Choose one item from your 3D shapes. How does this shape move? If it rolls, place it on the first plate. If it slides, place it on the third plate. If it rolls and slides, place it on the middle ( second) plate. This shows the child that some objects can do one thing (have one characteristic) but others can do two things ( have two characteristics).

  5. Place an example of a can, box, ball and cone on the table. Give the child a plastic place mat or a piece of wax paper and a ball of plasticene or some playdough. Encourage the child to make models of the shapes placed before him. These shapes can be attached together to create an object.

Next Week: Number Sense: Oral count to 12.




Let The House Rule

By:   Deb & Dave Graham

Even in this age of permissiveness, there are some rules that parents will never change their minds about. Toddlers who want to play in the street, preschoolers who insist on staying out after midnight, or ten-year-olds who demand to live on sweets until they are fifteen, have little or no chance at winning when they bring these kind of requests up before a fairly normal parent. Yet, it is not uncommon to see out-and-out battles over these things in public places. No doubt, because the ONLY thing children have going for them in these situations, is a parent's reluctance to make a public spectacle of themselves.

So, why does it happen over and over? Because two of the strongest influences on human nature are at work here. Impulse and temptation. Conflicts with these two things run from the beginning of life to the end of it, and maturity is often judged by how well a person has gained control over them. Some people never do. And some very gifted people, who - by all indications - should be wildly successful at something, actually miss the mark of their destinies because of their inabilities to cope with these things. History proves that successful people spring from all walks of life. It makes no difference if one is rich or poor, male or female, or even from one culture or another. But the thing that all successful people DO have in common, is that they have learned to control impulse and temptation. Some families have been able to hand the "keys" to their success down to their children, but even this is no guarantee that the heir will be able to drive the thing home because - in the end - success is an individual thing and we are all required to make the journey ourselves, no matter how much advice we get. The secret to dealing successfully with these situations, then, is not to correct your children for the impulses and temptations they have, but to allow them to experience the consequences for the CHOICES that they make when faced with them. This produces "response-ability." And the more opportunities a child has to respond to something, the quicker they will learn the best way to handle it.

If it is true that what a person learns in childhood stays with them all their life, and that at no other time will a person learn as quickly or absorb so much; then the most important of life's lessons should be dealt with in childhood. Children should be given every opportunity to taste and handle impulse and temptation, to make their own decisions, and to realize the consequences of their own choices. Does this mean you should suffer through an agonizing month of letting that ten-year-old eat nothing but junk and hope that his own natural functions will eventually make him crave vegetables and salads once in awhile? Not at all. Life's consequences are final. And there are many things which would produce devastating effects in our children's future if we were to loose their ignorance and vulnerability out in it too soon. But like the astronaut who has flown countless simulated space missions before he actually "blasts off," parents can begin training their children for the race long before they ever enter it.

To do this, takes some role-playing. Let's look first at the role of the parent. As a parent, you are not Fate. It is not your duty to decide what your children will do, and then force or coerce them into doing it. Nor is it your place to pit yourself against them as a sparring partner, in order for them to learn better how to "deal with things" in life. You are the wise counselor - the advocate - who is ever on their side through this great trial, and always available for advice when they need it. You are not the judge, for then you would have to be impartial, and it goes against human nature to be impartial with one's own children. Besides that, the greatest influence over a child is a parent, and vice-versa… and there is an automatic conflict whenever these two things are placed opposite of each other. So, the trick is to avoid getting into that position. Now, let's switch our attention to the child. The most important thing to remember about the child's role in this scenario is that - to them - this is not a game. It is real. To quote a famous source, children "…believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things."

They are at the same time vulnerable and resilient. To have the greatest impact during the "teachable moments" you will be encountering during these simulations, you must remember to - at all times - treat them with the utmost respect as a person. In the same way that most children are born with healthy hearts, lungs, and other vital organs that are fully functional at birth, they also - contrary to popular opinion - come equipped with fully developed sensitivities toward emotions. To insult or criticize them personally for their decisions will undermine not only your efforts to train them, but your relationship with them, as well.

In life there are certain things an individual has no control over. Such as death and taxes, and the many things our society has set down as requirements for peaceful living. Whether or not a person believes in these things has no bearing on them. They are NON-NEGOTIABLE. We abide by the rules, or we pay the fines. Everything seems to cost, and fairness is not an issue here. That's life. And if it is our goal to model our disciplines to best train up our children for life, then the best family training situation is to have "house rules." The rules of the house are non-negotiable in the same way that life is, and the consequences for breaking them should be made very clear. In this way, the responsibility stays with the child to make the right decisions, and to grapple with the consequences himself, if he chooses wrong. Because parents have given the authority of these rules over to the house, they are not in a position to pardon an offense or change the rules with each new situation. In this way, they can remain sympathetic to their children during these times without giving anger or resentment the ability to block relationships. And it is much more difficult for a child to project their displeasure toward a parent who had nothing to do with his decision in the first place. Nine times out of ten, they will seek the parent's solace, or assistance for a way out. And if they do…

Give them one. But make it an acceptable solution - or better yet - two or three options the child can choose from. It is not the purpose of house rules to create the prison mentality of crime and punishment. It is to teach children to SUCCESSFULLY deal with their problems. In order to do that, you have to "set them up" to succeed. For instance, if Johnny has ventured into a friend's house whose parents are not home, and it is a "house rule" that there must always be adult supervision in order to play inside, Mom does not have to take it as a personal challenge to her authority in order to deal with it. She can even express sympathy that he must now choose one of the consequences (that he knows BEFOREHAND, so there is no "power-struggle" for a lesser sentence) that the house rule requires. These might include a restriction of playing with that friend for a specified time, several house chores as penance, early bedtime, or whatever else you and your children have agreed upon as an appropriate consequence when the house rule was made. Once the "fine" has been paid, let it be PAID IN FULL. If you agreed that this was an appropriate consequence before it actually happened, it is unfair and unethical for you to show anger or disappointment after the child has "paid his dues." Nagging about it after the fact will cause a lack of respect for you, not the rule, as well as a lack of self-confidence in the child when it comes to making decisions. Remember, the most important thing for the child is your relationship. If there is a rift in that, all learning stops until it is resolved.

House rules can relieve a lot of the everyday tensions and disagreements that confront families and rob them of quality time together. By delegating the burden of your non-negotiable rules to the house, you can have more time and energy for meaningful communications over issues that really matter. The proper use of house rules strengthens relationships and establishes and affirms family values. Children are more secure if they know what is expected of them, and more independent if they are allowed to make choices.

Following are some guidelines for setting up House Rules that will help you in establishing your own. 

*Make sure your HOUSE RULES ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE. Bedtimes do not come under this category because they change with the interruptions of daily schedules and with the ages of individual children. On the other hand, behavior at bedtime can be incorporated into a house rule (if this is a problem area for you) because you can decide beforehand what the desired behavior is, and what the consequences will be if it is not followed.

*DON'T MAKE TOO MANY. Too many rules can bog anybody down so try to stick to the ones that are most important to you. Pick and choose the problem areas you want to deal with, and don't set yourself up to be the perfect family overnight. Remember "practice makes perfect" and the only way to get there is to endure the mistakes and mishaps along the way.

*PROVIDE CHOICES WHEN SETTING DOWN CONSEQUENCES. This lets the debate rest with which choice the child will make for his infraction, as opposed to protesting against having any consequence at all. A simple "Shall you choose, or should I?" almost always results in cooperation, simply because a disagreeable choice is better than no choice, at all.

*STICK TO YOUR RULES. If you don't get into the habit of enforcing the house rules and slip back into bickering over every incident, again… they won't be much help to you.

*LET YOUR CHILDREN PARTICIPATE in setting down the rules and consequences. That way they will carry more weight and leave less room for argument later because they helped to establish them. Arguments are easily quelled with "We made that a house rule, remember? We don't change those."

*DON'T CHANGE THE RULES. If you agreed to the consequences when the rules were set down, you should never add anything to them because you were "really upset about it" when it actually happened. Consistency is the strongest form of discipline there is, not anger.

House rules are another way to help turn your family time into PRIME TIME. So, the next time your children get into a royal battle while you're making dinner and it takes fifteen minutes to settle who started it… don't.

Make it a house rule that fighting brings a consequence to BOTH participants.

Then let the house rule.




Question & Answer Weekly Column

By:   Heather Haapoja

Send your questions or comments to Remember that the questions can be anything related to childcare, from both parents and childcare providers. Feel free to add your own suggestions and tips on the subjects that we've discussed so far. We want to hear from you!

Q: My four-year-old has just started daycare for the first time. She is really having a hard time adjusting to being away from me. Are there any tips to help with this big change?

A: This must be a really tough time for both of you. You may be coping with guilt about putting her in daycare and feeling anxiety over her unhappiness with the situation. Above all, be understanding, but don't let her see your own discomfort over the situation, as that will only add to her doubts. Talk with your daycare provider about the problem. This is a common difficulty when starting at a new daycare and they may have some time-tested tips to help you cope. For more information: An article that includes several great tips for dealing with separation anxiety, "Off to a Good Start - Beginning Daycare or School"

A wonderful list of books to read to your child about starting daycare,


Q: I would like to find some information about nighttime childcare. I am considering a job that would require working different shifts. It would be a good job for me but I don't know if I would be able to find childcare for those odd hours. Any information you have would be helpful. 

A: Night care or "non-standard hours care" is a service that can be difficult to find. The childcare industry is currently scrambling to meet the needs of families with "non-traditional" work schedules. Depending on your area, you may be able to find a daycare center or home that provides night care. I would suggest that you locate your nearest Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (see Q&A Column #1 or the "Our Links" section). They will be able to locate the nearest provider of nighttime care. If you are unable to find night care, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a family member or close friend to provide care, in their home or yours. Or, look into the option of hiring a nanny. There are choices, but be prepared to do a bit of research to find a workable solution for your family. For more information: "Care Around the Clock", a report on the rising need for non-standard hours childcare.

"Child care centers begin to meet late-working parents' needs", an in-depth article on the progress towards more night care options and those that are currently available. Read about choosing and hiring a nanny, right here at Child Care Magazine in our Nannies and Child Care section, then visit to do a nanny agency search for your area. 


Q: Help! I take care of a three-year-old that is a real challenge. He grabs things from the other kids, he spits his food on the floor if he doesn't like it, and he sasses me when I try to lay down the rules for him. He is just always up to something. I use time-out for discipline but he doesn't seem to really care and gets right back into trouble the minute he is done sitting. I am at my wit's end with this child. Is there any other discipline option I could use? Is there anywhere online I can look into discipline laws?

A: Wow! It sounds like you really have your hands full! My first suggestion would be to talk with his parents about the problems you are having. Get their suggestions as to how they would like you to handle discipline. Other than time-outs you could try withholding privileges. For example, if he spits food on the floor, he will not be allowed a dessert. Make the consequences clear to him beforehand, so that he is duly warned, and make the consequence fairly instant, so that the connection is made. Try to keep a step ahead of him and distract him from potential trouble before it happens. See the articles listed below for a more in-depth look at discipline.

For more information:

To check out childcare regulations, including discipline, click on your state at

A helpful article at Parents  "Time-Outs That Really Work" at,8891,12156,00.html.

Find several informative discipline-related articles (Parenting Skills/Discipline). 

That's all for this week! Again, our address is Send in your questions and comments!

See you next time!

Heather Haapoja



Is a Home-Based Business in Your Future?

By:   Victoria L. Pietz 

There are many things you must take into account when deciding to make the change to a home-based business.  Do you have the self-discipline to keep the TV off while you are working?  Can you limit personal telephone calls?  Many times day care providers chose this profession because they have their own children.  They want to see all of the firsts for themselves.  However, before making this big decision, you should involve other family members.  Ask other family members to comment of the pros and cons.  Some pros and cons to think about:

Pros Cons
 Lower start up costs Isolation
Lower fixed costs Space Limitations
Lifestyle flexibility Zoning
No commuting Security Concerns

It is important to keep your business records separate from family papers.  You wouldn’t want to throw out important business records because they were mixed up in something else, etc.  You should have ready access to business records during work hours and they must be protected. 

Check with your insurance agent.  Make Sure You Are Covered. Some things to consider are:

  • Fire, theft and casualty damage to inventories and equipment.

  • Business interruption coverage.

  • Liability for children and parents and anyone else visiting the business.

  • Group health and life insurance.

  • Business use of vehicle insurance.

Make sure your home is the correct place for your daycare. You can prepare a home site evaluation and here are some facts to consider:  

  • Can the children be dropped off with ease?

  • Is there adequate parking is more than one parent shows up at the same time?

  • Is there nearby competition?

  • Will you provide transportation?  If so, what will you charge?

  • Will you have other employees?  If so, how many?

  • If there are employees, don’t forget payroll taxes & unemployment taxes.

  • You may have to pay in quarterly self-employment taxes.

  • Will your sewer handle the additional people in your home?

  • Don’t forget the cost of water, power and gas.

  • If there is an emergency, how are the services of the police and fire? You might want to post these in your home and provide a copy for your parents too.

  • Is there room for future expansion?

  • Do you still have personal space?

  • Your privacy will be a thing of the past. Are you ready to set some limitations?

  • Do you have a pet? How friendly is it with children or visitors? Are you prepared to keep the pet away from the kids during the Child Care hours?

  • Do you have a fire extinguisher, carbon-monoxide detector, smoke and fire detector? Some are required by the local health department or social services.

  • Safety issues such as kitchen cabinets, door locks, safety gates, stairs, etc. should be a concern too.

Other questions you should have answered before you open for Child Care are:

  • What meals will you provide? Breakfast, lunch, dinner?

  • What supplies will you provide or have the Parent bring? Diapers, Diaper wipes, bottles, formula, baby food, etc.?

  • What will you provide for meals specifically and how much will you put towards the cost of food per week? You might want to have a regular menu.

  • Do you have a back-up person in case of emergency or if you are sick?

  • Do you have a place for each child to store his/her personal belongings separate from the others?

  • Do you have a plan for what a child must bring and if he/she brings a toy?

  • Have you had the parent fill out an allergy form and a shot record form? Will your child(ren) be protected from a child that has not been immunized properly?

  • Will your child(ren) be able to share their toys with other kids on a regular basis?

  • Do you have drop-off and pick-up hours specified?

  • Do you have a plan for holiday's?

  • Do you have a policy for late children (drop-off or pick-up) or for sick children?

  • Do you have a policy on payment? Late charges and bounced check fees? Or will accept only cash?

These questions are a good start in determining whether a Home Based Business in Child Care is for you and your family. There are many questions and answers that should be answered before you even think of opening a Home Day Care. The difference between a great Child Care home and an average Child Care place is the time to properly address each of the questions above. Many a Child Care home has opened and little things like not paying on time or showing up late have stressed the owner into closing their doors. Having policies that will handle these situations and more, will help you succeed with your Child Care home. 



Helpful Hints for Parents of Pre-School Children

By: Noreen Wyper

Many parents ask what their children are expected to know before they enter Junior/Senior Kindergarten. Although you do not need to teach them formally at this pre-school age, there are some areas in which you can help greatly. Here are some ideas to guide you.

Leave your child in someone else’s care for varying lengths of time so your child will get used to being around other people and their routines. This could be a babysitter in your own home, at a friend’s/relative’s house, at Sunday school, at a day care centre for a couple of days a week or at the library for story time.

Give your child as many new experiences as you can when the occasions arise. These could be taking in a museum, attending a fair, playing at a different park, going to a farm/zoo, or exploring a new store or restaurant. Allow them opportunities to meet other people under your supervision. Signing up for a weekly lesson in swim, gymnastics and skating with the parent is another great opportunity to belong to a group of the same age and make some new friends.

Visit the library. Get your child a library card. The power to borrow books of one’s own choosing will build self-esteem. The child will soon realize that books are full of information, imagination and recreation. Introduce your child to the librarian and ask her to assist your child in choosing appropriate books for that age level. Read, read and read again to your child.

Give your child toys that require the use of the hands such as puzzles, building blocks, dress-up dolls, crayons, craft items, paints and play dough. These activities will help develop the small muscles. Let your child experience junior scissors under your supervision. Save the cardboard boxes for playful imagination. Do teach your child how to clean up afterwards and make this a consistent part of the experience.

Allow your child the large muscle activities provided by swings, slides and climbing apparatus at the park. Encourage your child to ride a three-wheeler or a two-wheeler with training wheels. Let your child pull the wagon, the toboggan, balance walk across a log. Just get out there and hop, run, skip and jump!

Have some simple routines that the child is expected to carry through on. There are routines at school, in clubs and at other people’s houses. Any undisciplined child will find it very difficult to adjust to the school atmosphere. Four years with no routines is paving a road to future social disasters.

Give your child simple tasks to do around the house such as helping you set the table and tidying up the toys. This should be done within a certain time limit. You could set the timer on the stove for a time you deem reasonable for that particular task. Help your child listen to a single instruction which has to be carried out without repetition. Once this is accomplished give two instructions to be carried out in the sequence you gave them.

If your child has to walk to school, walk the route several times before the first day. Stay and play on the playground. Teach safe use of the equipment. Take a walk through the school halls. Stop at the office and meet the principal and the secretary. Find out where the washrooms are just in case the kindergarten room doesn’t have one of its own. Visit the school library. Meet the school librarian if you have one. Be sure to attend your special pre-school visit with the teacher. This is your child’s special time to meet the teacher and explore the classroom environment.

At home, stress good habits such as washing hands, flushing the toilet and getting ready for bed on time. Discourage baby talk. It may sound cute to you but it does hinder the child’s development of clear speech.

Be encouraging and patient at all times. Display a positive attitude. You can do a lot to help the school help your child when that special day arrives.





By:   Elizabeth Pennington  

Should your nanny live-in or live-out?  A simple question but not necessarily a simple answer.  For families considering both options, this could very well be as difficult a decision to make as it was in deciding whether or not to hire a nanny in the first place, or possibly even more so.  Bringing an unknown quantity, albeit a qualified, dependable, and honest unknown quantity, into your home to care for your child will take a fair amount of adjustment and patience for everyone involved.  How much of an adjustment and what amount of patience required will depend on your decision of whether or not to bring your nanny into your home to live or have her punch a time clock coming in and going out. Yet again, whenever making a decision, there are pros and cons to most options and as this particular outcome has the potential to be quite life-altering, careful consideration is much needed.

As a nanny, I have both lived-in and lived out.  Both have their good points and, yes,  their not-so-good points. This stands true for both the nanny and the employers.  If thinking about bringing your nanny into your home, consider this:   Do you have enough room in your home so that the privacy of all parties involved is not jeopardized?  This is probably  where the most trouble and tension is born and begins to bubble and brew. All family members at one time or another feel the need to get away, to have their own space and time on their own, just to stay sane.  This is not only a luxury but a full-fledged necessity as well.

I was lucky to have had a very spacious bedroom and large bathroom at opposite ends of the house from everyone else.  I had the room, the space, and the time to “get away”.  If not for that, I more than likely would not have made it through the entire three years, and certainly would have walked (limped?) away with more battle wounds and scars than I would care to think about.  Living with another family, taking care of their children all day (and sometimes all night), and abiding by their rules, can take quite a toll on the nanny if she is not afforded the privacy she needs and more than deserves.  The family is not  exempt from the stress and strain either. So, make sure there is sufficient room and quality time for the person who is committed to you and to your children.

The second biggest consideration of having a live-in is that your nanny will have a life outside of work and her life will be brought into your home.  The phone will be ringing for her, friends will be stopping by, she’ll be coming and going on her off hours, and all the while you will be continuing on with life with your family.  It’s as if two different worlds are inches from colliding.  The trick is to make sure the worlds keep revolving without fear of that catastrophic collision.  Mutual respect is the oil that will keep your work and personal relationship with your nanny running smoothly.

An advantage of having a live-in is that typically nanny’s salary is lower than a live-out as you are providing room and board for her.  As a live-in, I was making five times less than what I have made as a live-out.  I didn’t have utilities or rent to pay as a live-in and all my meals were provided.  For the employer, the cost of providing utilities and food for your nanny is minimal compared to what the live-out salary could possibly be.

Another selling point of having a live-in is that, as the employer, you won’t have to worry about your nanny arriving late due to car trouble or traffic tie-ups.  As long as her alarm clock goes off without a hitch, she should be right there ready to take over for you as you are heading out the door for work. 

Employing a live-out nanny, on the other hand, allows you the privacy of your home and your family as soon as she leaves at the end of the day.  Worries of catastrophically colliding worlds are pretty much null and void as you won’t have to contend with the difficulty of merging your lives into a smooth existence.  The personal relationship with your live-out nanny won’t be quite as deep, more than likely, as if she lived-in, and there is nothing wrong with preferring it that way.  Whatever makes you and your nanny comfortable with the working relationship is what you need to go with.

As a live-out, your nanny will have rent to meet and bills to pay, so the pay scale will significantly increase if your nanny lives out of your home, but the privacy you gain may be well worth it in your eyes. 

Consider the sort of relationship you are looking to have with your nanny and to what extent you want her in your and your children’s lives.  Do you want her to be the older sister, a member of the family?  Are you comfortable with another person coming not only into your lives but your home as well?  Would you rather have more of a strictly working relationship with your nanny, preferring to keep your lives fairly separate?  Whatever you decide you want, think not only with your heads but your hearts as well.  With her comes the possibility of life-long friendship and affection for the entire family, certainly not to take lightly.

Next week I will discuss the want and need for a contract with your nanny, whether the employment be through private means or through an agency.



To Pre-School or Not – That is the Question

By:   Jenifer McCrea 

You know, this raising kids thing is no joke.  It is the most physically demanding job I have ever had.  I see ads now for Fed Ex and UPS for people who can lift 40 pounds and stand for long periods of time.  That’s nothing.  I can lift a 22-pound toddler and a 14-pound infant, carry a 10 pound diaper bag, lock the front door, get the car door open, get both kids into their respective car seats, and their five point harnesses buckled.  All in under ten minutes.  And that’s no mean feat considering the toddler is big enough to jump out of his car seat and climb over the back of the seat into the cargo area of my SUV.  That’s just for a trip to the grocery store. 

So with all of the physical, not to mention emotional and spiritual labor you put into your children, how do you decide when it is time to let go?  It’s a tough decision to make.  To Pre-School or not, that is the question.  How young is too young?  If you wait, will you be irreparably damaging your child’s social and academic future?  After all, studies have shown that children who attend pre-school do better in the early grades than those who don’t.  It takes a village – doesn’t it?

Not necessarily.  With all due respect to the esteemed Senator from ‘New York’ State, a village is not needed in every case.  The studies that have been done on children in pre-school doing better academically have studied only children in Head Start programs.  For those of you who might not know, Head Start is a government funded program to help send to pre-school children who are traditionally considered to be ‘economically disadvantaged’.  Normally run in the less affluent areas of larger cities, Head Start tries, mostly successfully, to give an academic leg up to the children who have more meager financial outlooks.  Unfortunately, this often quoted statistic of children who attend pre-school doing better academically than their non pre-school peers is misleading at best.  At worst, it is a terrific guilt trip for all of us Mom’s who stay home. For while we may not be financially strapped, we also may not have the extra $100 - $300 or more extra dollars a month to send our child to preschool.  Moreover, most of us do not qualify for Head Start.

Don’t feel too guilty.  First, the pre-school study was done with Head Start attendees.  It compared them to children of a similar socio-economic background, but who did not attend a pre-school.    Unfortunately, the parents of these children are often academically challenged themselves, and don’t have the resources to help their children to achieve.  The good news is the studies only follow the children through the early grades.  I have not seen studies on Head Start attendees versus their non pre-schooled counterparts attending college.  In addition, I have not seen studies comparing pre-school to non-preschool attendees at other socio economic levels.  The inference is, if you are able to teach your children the basics; ABC’s, 123’s, colors and shapes, your child will probably not be far behind pre-schooled children academically.

Socially may be another matter. Children can learn many social graces in pre-school that are more difficult to teach at home.  Sharing, while never an easy concept for the pre-school age, can be learned more easily in a situation where the toys are not ‘mine’ and the playing ground is less familiar.  Only children especially can benefit substantially from having an early introduction into a peer group.  That is not to say that a child need necessarily be in school five days a week.  If social culturization is more your goal, a two or three day morning program should be just fine.  Mommy gets a well deserved nine hours a week to spend as she needs, and baby gets to play.  

No matter what the situation, it is just difficult to let your baby, who up until this point, you have known every instance of their life, go off into the world.  No matter how safe, or caring the environment – it isn’t your home.  That is hard no matter who you are.  Whom you choose to leave your child with, when and for how long, is a decision that needs to be based on your instinct.  You know your child best, and you know when its time to expand his or her world to include authority other than your own.  Let your child and your knowledge of your child be your guide. 

Next week:  How to choose a pre-school.


The Economics of Child Care

By:   Sheri Karan

Parents of children in daycare complain that the cost of daycare is too high.  They don’t understand why they have to pay so much money just to have someone watch their child for a few hours, and think that daycare providers as a group are rich from it. 

It’s a lie.  We aren’t rich at all.  Yes, we may be providing for our families with the income, and maybe we can afford some other things that don’t necessarily qualify as needs, but that’s it.  It really isn’t a get rich quick kind of business.  You have to love children to be able to succeed.   Without that love and care, most providers tire quickly of the long hours, little pay and stress that only another childcare provider can understand.  That’s how the demand for able childcare providers is born.  Too many try it out, realize how much work is involved, and quit, leaving parents little or no time to find alternate care.

But parents expect much for their tuition each week.  Parents expect their child to be sung to, read to, played with, do crafts, create masterpieces and make friends.  That is a lot to expect from the person that you find is cheapest for care in your area.  Those experiences can only be found at a provider that truly cares about your child, and that may not be the cheapest on the list.  Considering only the cost of childcare is similar to purchasing a car only because of price.  Maybe it is the price you want, but does it have the options and features you need?  Is it a good fit for you and your family?  Daycare is the same way.  It is an individual fit and can be stressful on your family and the provider if it’s not a good fit.  Trained, caring providers usually cost more, that is true, but what do you get for your tuition weekly?  If you child is safe, loved and encouraged, the extra cost may be justified.

But before a parent says that the provider is taking advantage of the situation, please consider it from their point of view.  A childcare provider offers her home to a wide assortment of people each day, and her family does the same.  Craft supplies are not cheap, and neither are the many games, activities and toys that are offered each day.  Any provider will tell you that the grocery bills alone can be staggering.  Each parent bears the responsibility of finding out not just which daycare fits the price, but what daycare fits the child.  The consideration for what each provider makes after supplies, food, utilities, and self-employment taxes may show a parent that providers aren’t in the business to get rich, but to care for children.

Also keep in mind the long hours that most providers endure.  Typically working 12 hours each day or more is exhausting, but rewarding when a child reaches up for a hug good-bye at the end of the day.  That’s the biggest way that providers are rich – in love.  Children know when they are cared for, and will return that love unconditionally.  Ask a provider their favorite part of the job, and they will say it’s the children. 

So when you next need to find childcare, remember to look for more than just a price tag.  It’s not a bargain if you’re sacrificing your child’s well being.  Ask questions about the provider, their training, and what they have to offer.   Talk to references, and visit the daycare while there are children there so you can see the interaction between the provider and the children.  Then choose the care that best fits your family’s needs overall, not just in the wallet.

Different Milestones, Same Pain

By:   Deb DiSandro

The grand entry into kindergarten and the final exit from 8th grade are two pivotal moments in a child’s life. Unfortunately each milestone is not without its fair share of pain. For no child can enter kindergarten without a series of sharp jabs to the arm, more formally known as immunizations, and few young men can exit 8th grade without wearing "appropriate attire," more painfully known to 8th graders as "dress" clothes.

Most parents never have the opportunity to experience these two events simultaneously, unless they’re lucky enough to have a pre-schooler and a teen-ager, like me. And if they neglect to plan properly, they too can mistakenly schedule these two traumas for the exact same day.

I learned that pre-schooler, Jenna, would need not one, not two, but THREE shots and for his graduation ceremony, teen Marcus would need a dress shirt, slacks and, yes, a tie.

I kept my naïve little babes in the dark until a half-hour before departure and thus learned a valuable lesson sure to come in handy for you parents still awaiting these fateful days. I told them 29 minutes too early.

Naturally, there was a lot of screaming and crying during the car ride.

So I said in a soothing voice, "Calm down, you big baby, and get a hold of yourself like your little sister!"

Although one was more vocal than the other, both decided it would be best to stay in their present situations rather than move onto the next grade. I explained that I too felt the same way when I was nine months pregnant and experienced that first awful contraction, but did I have a choice then? NO!!!

They failed to see the connection.

Of course, once the moment was thrust upon them, there’s no doubt who suffered more.

"Mommy it hurts so bad!" my child cried.

I tried to comfort as best I could, "I’m so sorry, but they don’t make dress slacks that hang around the buttocks area, Marcus! They’re supposed to fit snug around the waist."

The cries from the doctor’s office were almost as loud.

But then a reassuring voice broke through the sobs.

"Stop crying, I’m the one getting the shots, not you, Mom!" Jenna reminded me.

Sometimes it seemed as if the moments were almost identical.

The nurse hid the needles behind her back.

I hid the tie behind mine.

"Now don’t look," we both said. "It’ll only hurt for a second."

I shoved the tie under his shirt collar.

The nurse jabbed the needle in my daughter’s arm.

"OW!" They both shouted.

"That wasn’t so bad," we assured them.

My babies sobbed.

I held Jenna in my arms.

I held Marcus in a head lock, so that I could clip the tie to his shirt.

"I can’t wear this, I’ll look like a dork!"

"Relax," I said. "I’ll see if the nurse will exchange the Barney Band-aid for a Barbie."

"Relax," I said. "I’ll ask if you can carry the fitting room door to cover you during the ceremony!"

On the ride home, I explained to my stunned children that there are some things in this life we just have to get through.

"Do we ever have to do this again?" They asked between sobs.

"Not for a long, long, time." I assured them.

That evening, I warned my husband that someone was bound to wake up in the middle of the night remembering the horror of the day, and if that happened, he should simply pat me on the head and tell me it was all just a bad dream.

Dancing with Debussy's Golliwogg

By:   Christine L. Pollock

Music in childcare? Of course! It is a rare childcare facility that does not use music in its program in some way, shape or form. But why do we do it? Is it beneficial to the children? Definitely! How about we, the caretakers?  That is a definite, also. What is it about music that stimulates our brains and makes us want to express ourselves?

Many have heard of the “Mozart Effect” where, according to studies, listening to Mozart increases spatial IQ. In fact, many of us have spent pregnancies listening to Mozart because magazines have told us it would give our little ones a head start in life. This is all very good, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are composers and musical pieces out there for every kind of mood and every kind of expression. You might think that children are only interested in children’s songs such as “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “This Old Man”, but they really respond to so much more.

One day a few months ago, I was playing songs on the piano for music time in my daycare and the kids were singing and dancing. All of them were having a great time except my 1 ½ year old day care girl. She just sat there not really responding to anything. I looked at her and sang and tried to get her into the music mood, but she just wasn’t going along with it. For some reason I stopped “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and started playing Brahms Rhapsody Opus 79 No. 2 ( and her face lit up! She stood up and started dancing with the others. 

This really opened my eyes to what music is all about in the child care environment. It is about finding the sound our children can relate to and helping them express their mood through dance and art. 

Another eye-opener was my son’s preschool. They studied several composers and artists, focusing each time on one piece in depth. Was this above their interest level? No way! Did they learn from it? Definitely!  We had a wonderful time as a family searching through art books and downloading songs from Johann Strauss. 

Now, how can we use music in child care? Usually we have music on throughout the day. I know I have a children’s reggae disk for when the little ones (or I ) get cranky. We have calm music for nap/rest time and we have music with a lot of rhythm to get the “wigglys” out in dance. And yet, it could be so much more. 

Several times I have chosen a piece of music and/or art to concentrate on it all week…perhaps longer. The children are exposed to other times in history though the composer/artists bio and to other cultures through the works. They also learn how to express themselves more without words. 

In this column I plan to highlight a different composer/artist and work each week to give ideas of how the children can express themselves through the art and music. For the little ones, I will give some suggestions of activities relating to the music. I will also include a bio of the artist/composer for the older children and the adults for the sake of interests and research. If you have any questions or suggestions or even a favorite piece or composer you would like to see highlighted, please feel free to e-mail me at

I am going to start this column with one of my favorite composers, Achille Claude Debussy.  He was a truly amazing man. A composer of classical music, Debussy was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye  in 1862.  He was such a gifted piano player that he entered the Paris Conservatoire of Music when he was only 10 years old. However, playing the music was not his passion, writing (composing) was. In 1884, Debussy won the Grand Prix de Rome for L'enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son), a contata (a vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment), and went on to study music in Rome for two years.

Many of Debussy’s works were based on plays and poems. He made the stories come to life through his music. In the opera he wrote, Debussy was able to express through music the dreamlike quality of Pelléas et Mélisande by Maurice Maeterlinck. He even composed it so the melody copies the rhythm of speech.

Debussy wrote his music so that it was light and expressive with gentle tones.  It was like painting with notes. In fact, although he disliked the term, Debussy was called an “Impressionist”. His works were inspired by the paintings of Monet (who we will learn more about next week).

One of the pieces I often play for the children in my daycare is Golliwog's Cakewalk. The piece is part of a collection entitled “Children’s Corner Suite”. Debussy reportedly dedicated this piece to his five year old daughter. They are modeled after games she played with her governess. 

Okay, we know a bit about the composer and the song, what do we do with it? Play it for the children while they are playing. Ask them questions. What do you hear in the music? How does it make you feel? Then tell them the title of the piece. Ask the if they know what a Golliwogg is. Do you know what it is? It is a rag doll that was the focus of children’s books in the late 1800’s (History of the Golliwogg ).  Some activities to do with the children throughout the week are as follows:

  • Have the children dance to the piece.  
  • Have the children draw the piece (color or paint while listening carefully to the music).  
  • Have the children plan and act out a story to the piece .  
  • Make a book with the children about how they would act if they were Debussy’s daughter. Would they like the music?  What is their favorite part? How would they feel about their father composing something like this?  
  • Have the children make faces during the piece to show what their feelings are during each part of the piece.

These are ideas I have in mind for the 2-5 age range. Older children often put their own spin on it and express a lot more. Sometimes it is interesting to have the school age children create a play to music separate from the little ones and then have the groups perform for each other.   

I have already seen this focus on music at work in my home day care. It is fascinating and benefits us all.  Next week, I will write about Monet and the light that he brings to all our worlds. Debussy changed the music in his time and prepared the next century for a new era of music. What effect on the world (and on our day cares) do you think Monet will have?

Have a great week, Christine L. Pollock.



By:   Lisa Maliga

Here’s a way to make an exciting present for the kids. What is Soap-With-a-Toy? It’s a bar of soap with a plastic toy embedded in the center. The toy can be seen from all sides and appears to be floating.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The toy must be made from plastic or else placed inside a small plastic bubble such as those found in candy machines that hold little prizes. Any object containing metal will rust as glycerin soap retains a small amount of water.


Use your imagination! Toy soldiers are an obvious choice as are any type of small plastic animal. Any free toy given away at fast food restaurants will probably be ideal. Make sure that the toy will fit into the mold before you make your soap! Barrettes [alone or in a pair] also do very well. Plastic rings and bracelets will be colorful and fun additions too.


  • 8 ounces of translucent glycerin melt and pour soap
  • 1 cup plastic mold
  • a small plastic toy
  • 10 drops Essential and/or fragrance oils [optional]


  1. Weigh out 8 ounces of soap.
  2. Cut the soap into cubes.
  3. Add the soap to the double boiler OR microwave. Stir occasionally.
  4. When the soap has melted, it’s time to add the essential or fragrance oil. It’s advisable to work with CLEAR oils such as lavender or tea tree. Make sure it’s a clear essential or fragrance oil before you make the soap. However, adding a scent to this soap isn’t necessary.
  5. Have the mold ready but don’t put in the toy. Pour in the soap HALF-WAY. Pop any bubbles you see. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  6. If using a double boiler, keep the burner on low. The rest of the soap must remain in liquidized form.
  7. After the soap in the mold has hardened a little, add the toy, centering it. IMPORTANT NOTE: THE TOY MUST GO IN UPSIDE DOWN! That way it will be easier to see as it’s on the top side—the side where there are no soap bubbles or any irregularities. Make sure that the toy is not touching the bottom [which will be the top].
  8. Keep stirring the remaining soap in the double boiler. If using a microwave, return it to the microwave periodically to make sure it remains in liquid form.
  9. Wait approximately 10 minutes, [longer for a larger batch] and then add the remaining soap. Put in the freezer for about 45 minutes.
  10. When you take out the Soap With a Toy, check to make sure it’s done. When you push from the bottom of the mold you should see the soap loosen. Remove from the mold onto a piece of wax paper. Allow to return to room temperature before wrapping.
  11. Label, making sure you indicate it’s NOT EDIBLE!

You’ve just made your own Soap With a Toy! It’ll be ready to use – or to give to someone as a gift.

Lisa Maliga is the author of The Joy of Melt & Pour Soap Making which is available at



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