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Tuesday, October 22, 2002 08:28 PM Last Updated

Child Care Magazine

Archives By Issue


Author Date Issue Section
How Children Develop Harmful Posture and Movement Patterns Robert Rickover 6/22/2001 Issue 4,vol. 6.4 Child Care Advice
Question & Answer Column, Issue 4 Heather Haapoja 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Question & Answer WC
The Financial Plan Victoria L. Pietz 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Start-Ups in Child Care
Collages Kaye Miller 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Crafts, Games, & Projects
Prime Time Parenting - Choice Cuts Deb & Dave Graham 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Prime Time Parenting WC
Music & Art in Child Care - Monet's Impressions Christine L. Pollock 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Music & Art in Child Care WC
Nannies & Child Care - Is a Contract Really All That Necessary? Elizabeth Pennington 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Nannies & Child Care WC
Choosing From The Pre-School Options Jenifer McCrea 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Issues in Child Care WC
Tutorial #4 - Kitchenlab Kindermath Noreen Wyper 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Kitchenlab Kindermath WC
Popsicle Stick Picture Frames Kaye Miller 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Projects, Games, & Crafts
Everybody Grows Up At Camp Deb Di Sandro 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Humor in Child Care WC
Have a Field Trip Come To You Kaye Miller 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Teaching & Education
Bag Puppets Kaye Miller 6/22/2001 Issue 4, vol. 6.4 Projects, Crafts, & Games


How Children Develop Harmful Posture and Movement Patterns

By:  Robert Rickover

My Alexander Technique(1) students often ask me why people develop the restrictive physical patterns that cause back pain or a sore neck or restricted arm and leg movements. The great majority of small children,  after all, carry themselves with grace and ease - yet the same cannot be said for most adults. When - and how - does the problem typically begin?

Of course, there are many reasons these restrictions can creep in - the trauma of injuries, physical or emotional abuse, to name a couple of examples. But for the most part, harmful patterns of posture and movement can be traced to two factors: children’s unconscious imitation of adults around them and the unintended effects of their early classroom experiences.

When I was training in England to become an Alexander Technique teacher, I can vividly remember sitting at an outdoor pub one Sunday afternoon with another Alexander teacher-trainee and noticing a large group of adults and children at a nearby table. Several of the children were playing games near the table and we decided to guess which children belonged to which parents. Very quickly we associated two little boys who were holding their shoulder’s rigidly back with a man who had precisely the same pattern. A teen-aged girl with stooped shoulders and a very tight neck was assigned to a slouching couple.

When the children returned to the table, we were correct in both cases. In fact, you can often spot this sort of thing within a family. Children learn a great deal by observing the people around them and it seems that they are particularly adept at copying patterns that are out of the ordinary, such as an odd walking gait or shoulders dramatically hunched up toward their head.

Other, and equally important, causes of harmful habits of posture and movement can be found in most school classrooms. When children are old enough to go to school, a serious challenge to their health presents itself: sitting still for what seems like forever - tricky enough in itself - combined with some of the worst furniture design they’re ever likely to encounter.

For reasons of economy, and presumably to minimize the work of the custodial staff, most schools today have chosen desks and chairs that are of a standard size and shape, despite the fact that the children using them come in a great many different sizes. Chairs, for instance, are often chosen for their “stackability”.

In my daughter’s middle school, the lunchroom tables have seats bolted onto the sides so there is no way to adjust for different heights, leg lengths etc. This makes it quick and easy to clear the room for cleaning; but it encourages some pretty harmful postural patterns as short and tall children try to adjust.

Take a look at a group of 5-6 year olds as they play and you’ll notice that for the most part they move with ease and agility. Then watch some 7-8 year olds and you’ll see the beginnings of hunched shoulders, tight necks, and restricted breathing that you can see more fully developed in many adults. I sometimes ask my Alexander Technique students to assemble a collection of photographs of themselves at various ages. It is striking just how often obvious physical deterioration seems to set in just when they first start going to school.

In America in recent months, we’ve been reading a lot about new federal government legislation to make sure all workers have access to ergonomically designed furniture. This legislation grows out of the near epidemic occurrence of repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and the realization that good furniture design can lessen the chances that workers will fall victim to these modern scourges.

Yet, the people most at risk - small children in classrooms - are being forced to use furniture that would never be tolerated in a work situation. Elizabeth Langford, a well-respected British Alexander Technique teacher comments on this in her book Mind and Muscle - An Owner's Manual: "No amount of 'physical education' will undo the damage done to schoolchildren condemned to spend hours of every day sitting on such chairs. Good chairs can never guarantee good sitting, but it is scandalous that children, forced to use chairs on which it is impossible to sit properly, are thus molded for a future of poor co-ordination, back pain, and other health problems." (page 202)

What can parents do about this? I’m certainly no expert in the in's and out's of school purchasing decisions, but I believe the main problem is simply lack of awareness of the issues. I would encourage parents to visit their child's classrooms, particularly in the early grades, and observe for themselves the effects of the poor furniture. Then, they would be in a much better position to pressure school administrators to invest in furniture better suited for children.

1. The Alexander Technique is a century-old method of learning how to release harmful tension from your body, thereby improving your posture and coordination.


A couple of very helpful resources for parents who are concerned with these kinds of issues have been published by Alexander Technique teachers, who have spent time teaching the Technique in public school classrooms - Ann Mathews in a suburb of New York City and Michelle Arsenault in an inner-city New York City school. Ann’s book is titled "Implications for Education in the Work of F. M. Alexander: An Exploratory Project in a Public School Classroom" and Michelle’s is "Moving to Learn - A Classroom Guide to Understanding and Using Good Body Mechanics". Both books are available from their authors, and ordering information for these and a great many other books, videos, DVDs and audio books can be found at The Alexander Technique Bookstore (USA) in Association with AMAZON.COM or The Alexander Technique Bookshop (UK) in Association with AMAZON.CO.UK.

Education2000 at is an excellent resource for parents and teachers who want to see the Alexander Technique taught in the classroom.

The Posture Guide at provides links to several articles about the Alexander Technique and its role if helping improve your posture.


Question & Answer Column, Issue 4

By:   Heather Haapoja


Ahh, summer! Carefree days and busy weekends, family vacations and get-togethers, barbecues and lemonade, swimming and fun in the sun. From a child's point of view, summer is one joyful experience after another. But more time outside can give rise to special concerns, as our children's environments expand to take in more of the great outdoors.

Q: I have heard that you should not use sunscreen on a child younger than six months old. What precautions should I take for an infant out in the sun?

A: Sunscreen products do warn users to ask a doctor before using on infants. There is some fear that the chemicals in sunscreen products are more readily absorbed into the infant's system, thus the warnings. If you want to use a sunscreen, do so on your doctor's advice. From my own experience, do NOT rely on shade to protect a child from sunburn.

My youngest son experienced a severe sunburn at the tender age of three months after a long day outside, under the shade of a canvas canopy tent. It was a terrible learning experience for us, involving a trip to the burn center, medicated ointment and a gauze mask on my helpless infant for several painful days. Needless to say, if I had it to do over again, I believe I would have avoided the event all together. There are numerous web sites dealing with the issue of sun safety. I have listed three below which also include links to other sites on the subject.

Beach, Sun and Beach Safety Tips

Kids Health for Parents, Sun Safety (including eye protection)

Sun Safety for Your Children


Q: I run a home daycare and we are considering putting in a backyard pool. What safety precautions will I have to follow to make my pool safe?

A: This is definitely a huge safety concern that you will want to be prepared to assure your daycare clients about. You can check on pool regulations in daycare settings by clicking on your state at The following web sites cover the basic safety rules that you will want to consider for the safety of your own family and neighboring children, as well as your daycare kids.

Swimming Pool Safety and Toddlers,

Children's Safety Zone - Pool Safety, - Water Safety (including pools, bathtubs, baby pools, etc.) -


Q: I keep hearing more and more about Lyme disease and I worry about it. I would like to get any information about how to detect it and how to avoid the kids getting it. Is it more common in different parts of the country?

A: Lyme disease is carried mainly (but not exclusively) by deer ticks and it is not equally common throughout the country. To find out if Lyme disease is prevalent in your area, contact your local health department.

The following sites have a lot of useful information on detection and prevention of Lyme disease.

American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc. -

Lyme Disease - Healthy Lives,

Lyme Disease,


Q: I would like to take my two kids and my four daycare kids out for walks on nice days, but I don't know how I can do it by myself. I would be so afraid of losing track of one of them. How do other daycare providers handle this problem?

A: Having another adult helper does make this an easier undertaking. Do you have a nearby friend or relative, or perhaps a teenager in your area that would help you out on your daily walk? It might be worth paying a couple bucks each time to have this added peace of mind, but if not, there are other options.

I would suggest finding a double or triple stroller (or a large wagon, depending on their ages) for your youngest children and then using some form of the buddy system for the older children. One idea to try is holding a long piece of rope that the children hold onto with one hand as they walk. This will at least keep them close by as you walk. Be sure to talk with them before you start out about the importance of staying together. Start out with just a short walk to give everyone a trial run and see how it goes, this will give you a good idea whether it will work out for future walks.

The following are online daycare provider resources with message boards and chat rooms where you might find more tips on this type of subject; Daycare Discussion - Child Care and Parenting Resources -

Mommysbiz Daycare and Childcare Resources and Directory -


Readers, feel free to offer your own tried and true tips on any of our child care questions in an email. We would love to share your ideas with the child care community! Send your questions and/or tips to

Until next time, have lots of safe, summer fun!

Heather Haapoja



The Financial Plan

By:   Victoria L. Pietz


Clearly the most critical section of starting your business and writing your business plan is the financial plan.  Most business owners are very good at the service they are providing.  They are not necessarily good at making a business run successfully.  It’s wonderful when you can do the job you love to do and even better when you can make money doing it. 

Think of the financial plan and the record keeping part of it like a football coach.  The coach takes great pride in producing a winning team.  This will largely depend on someone keeping score of the wins and losses.  You must determine who will keep track of the income and expenses in just about the same manner.

Most home-based businesses will use the “cash” method of accounting.  This is a system of record keeping that is much like using a checkbook.  All of the deposits and expenses are recorded.  All of the transaction must be backed up by forms of original entry, such as:   (invoices, receipts, cancelled checks, etc). If you feel that your accounting knowledge is inadequate, you should invest the help of a professional. 

Now that you know where to get some of your information from, lets look at what makes up a financial plan.

First you need to determine and make a short statement about the following:

  • Market Health – How is your competition.  Will you get business right away?  What is the percentage of children versus adults in your community?

  • Date of Startup-Just state the date you actually intend to start your day care operation.

  • Gross Profit Margin-This is the income before taxes are taken out.

  • Furniture, Toys, etc.-anything that you need to run the business that is tangible.  This could include furniture, toys, computer, phone, high chair, stroller, changing table,  etc. The list is endless.  This does not include things that you will use and dispose of (one time uses) such as diapers, formula, food, milk, etc. (Things of this nature would be expensed when used, not depreciated).

  • Payroll-Who will be paid and how much will it cost the business including taxes and insurance.

The financial plan needs to be broken down into twelve months.  For each month, estimate the maximum children you will be licensed to have.  Then multiply that number by the monthly charge for each child.  This will be your estimated monthly income.  Don’t forget to include any late pick up charges or miscellaneous trip charges or government help, etc.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad was it?  You already have at your fingertips the monthly and yearly sales income available. 

Now, lets figure out what it costs you per child.  Look back at your business plan and determine what you will provide and what the parents will provide each child.  Anything you will provide for each child, write down your cost. The government does have statistics on how much it costs to feed a child per day, this may help you determine food costs.  Just as with the income, multiply the total expense per child by the estimated number of children available to be watched.  This is your monthly expense.  If you add all twelve months together, you will have your yearly expenses.

I know you are now wondering about the big expenditures, which are called assets.  Yes that’s right.  They are considered assets (value) to the business until they are depreciated.  The depreciation usually runs 3, 5 or 7 years.  For the financial plan, you need to take those costs into consideration also.  (This is where you may want to consult a professional to determine the depreciation). You will need to know how much you paid for each item. Save those receipts. Usually, when creating the financial plan, you will want to list the assets to be depreciated separately and list the useful life of each. Divide the cost of each asset over the number of months over which it will be depreciated.

Where will the money come from to start your business?  You must list the sources and the amount owed to each, including the payments-both monthly and yearly. 

Once you have completed the steps for completing the financial plan, you will be well on your way to financial success.  This makes you take a look at your business plan without feelings.  You know you can do a great job taking care of children and handling all of the responsibility that comes your way.  Let’s face it, we all can’t be a charity organization.  No matter how much we love children and want to make a difference in the world.  Achieving financial success will assure you will be there to help the next child grow up.

By:   Deb & Dave Graham

The old saying “life is choices” never meant so much as in today’s society where we have so many things to choose from. Often, we spend the largest portion of our time looking at the options instead of actually picking one.  And many are the nights when we finally come to the conclusion that there is nothing on TV after we have spent more time than we like to admit “surfing,” and haven’t watched a single program all the way through.  For children, it is doubly hard.  They have so many things vying for their attention; they are rarely placed in a position of having to sustain prolonged interest in anything past the time span of a movie.  And as for time to simply sit and contemplate who they are and where they fit in the world…
It could all get pretty confusing.  Especially when you are faced with having to “train up” your children in those murky areas you – for the most part – don’t even have a handle on, yourself.  It gets a bit difficult trying to keep to a schedule, keep up with the work and the homework, settle a dozen minor disputes, and still have enough of whatever it takes to make any “deposits” into your child’s future.  Like steer them in some sort of direction, find out where their talents lie… or at least find out what they’re doing and thinking when they think you’re not watching them.  There is nothing worse than commending yourself that nine-year-old Mary, has not argued about going to bed for a week, only to find that she has been listening to “Black Sabbath” on a Walkman under the pillow every night. Just what do you do with a child whose choices are so consistently opposite of yours you think she’s doing it on purpose and you are seriously considering not letting her have any more until she grows up?  Or, at least gets as big as you.

You maybe could do that when she’s nine, but the thing could really come back on you by the time she makes it to thirteen.  After four years of this kind of relationship, she might end up thinking you don’t like her, at all --and what’s worse – you might not.  And what about that six-year-old you promised could pick out her own dress next time, and the only one she latches onto is a terrible puke green with a life-size picture of an alien on the front? Certainly there are times when a parent must change her mind or take something back, if for no other reason than to maintain her own sanity.  Right?

Which brings us back to the choice thing, again.  And the candle is burning on both ends, here, because while the child is busy grappling passionately –ever notice how these things are always going down passionately – the parent is having to make a few choices of her own. Like how important is this thing, anyway?  Is it worth a squash to the psyche?  Or a reprimand for making a scene?  And the big one… what’s it going to cost in the long run to
just let it go?  The key here is not to take away the choices, but to trade them for SEVERAL acceptable ones.  And don’t haggle over what’s acceptable.   You choose what’s acceptable.  What you are offering to your children is the opportunity to choose something before you are forced (by their lack of cooperation) to choose for them. As we have said before, nine times out of ten, a child will always go for this option because any choice is better than no choice at all.  That’s human nature.

Acceptable choices are good for everybody.  It gives you the wider circle of control without taking the power of choice away from your children.  And once again, you have successfully fended off those flaming darts that always seem to be aimed at undermining your relationship.  It really is a “no lose” situation because even if you are forced once or twice to walk away without any choice being made in order to break a stalemate (most children will inevitably push the limit at some time or another), you can even go so far as
to be sympathetic with their inability to make one this time.  This is ultimately still their choice because you took nothing away, and the “response-ability” still rests with them to choose.

It is also good practice for a child to learn that sixty percent of life’s choices are not life and death issues, and there are many times when the choice they make is not what they would have picked first – or even second.  But to make one in any case always promotes judgment and a healthy sense of independence as opposed to a rebellious one.  

Following are a few tips to help make “acceptable choices” work even better
for you:

NEVER CRITICIZE A CHOICE even if it wasn’t the one you were hoping for.  A choice is very close to an opinion and can easily become a personal offense if put down.

DON’T CHANGE YOUR MIND.  If you say it, do it.  The repercussions of going back on your word far outweigh a poor choice, and could turn into a personal lack of respect for you.

TRY NOT TO GET EMOTIONAL.  Children mirror emotions faster than they feel them.  If you stay calm and rational, they will be less apt to fly off into a tangent, themselves.

NEVER ARGUE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOUR CHOICES ARE ACCEPTABLE. If you allow your children to bargain on this issue, you will soon slip back into letting
them call the shots instead of you.

BE POSITIVE.  Say something nice about a successful transaction.  Show a little appreciation for your children’s cooperation… they’ll knock themselves out to make choices that please you, just to hear it. 

BE FAIR.  Acceptable choices must be acceptable all the way around.  Taking away the Walkman or getting an extra chore are not fair choices to trade for listening to “Black Sabbath.”  Fifteen minutes to listen to something you approve of, or the promise of a new tape if they give up the old one will work better.  Turning choices into punishments will only backfire and cause you to lose the power that making choices can give.

Everyone needs to feel empowered.  To make choices gives us a sense of that power, and to make good ones is the stuff good people are made of.  So if you – like the rest of us – are feeling like a great portion of the choices being offered today aren’t worth the time to consider them, do your kids a favor and cut some of them out.

It’s one more way to turn your family time into PRIME TIME.


Monet’s Impressions

By:   Christine L. Pollock 

Imagine it. You are taking a hike with a picnic on your back. The weather is perfect. The sun is warm and  occasional clouds drift over providing a welcome blanket of cool relief. Hiking is getting a bit tiring and it is time for a break.  There, right around the corner is a pond that radiates tranquility. After the food is spread out, you gaze around and watch the light playing with the colors of the leaves and flowers in the pond. Feel the refreshing breeze. There. You have caught it in your mind. Monet caught it on canvas. 

In 1840, Claude Monet was born in Paris, France. When he was 5, Claude’s family moved to La Havre. For many years, Monet did caricatures, but when he was a young man, a landscape painter named Boudin came into Claude’s life. In the 1800’s, painters would often go outside and quickly sketch the scenes they wanted on their canvases. They would then go back to their studios and finish the paintings. Monet had a different style. He learned from Boudin that he enjoyed working out in the open air and decided he wanted to study more about painting. His works were done with quick strokes and the entire paintings were done in the outdoors.  In 1859, Claude went to study art back in Paris.  

Just like Debussy (see last week’s article), Monet lived in the Age of Impressionism. In fact, the term “Impressionism” was coined when a journalist named Louis Leroy tried to attack one of Monet’s pieces of art entitled “Impression: Sunrise”.  His work was very unlike the so called great paintings of his day.  Most artists painted reality as they saw it, showing little or no signs of movement.  Claude Monet was different. 

Monet loved light. He would study an object (or building or scene) in many different situations (different times of day, different weather, etc). In his paintings we see movement and change: life in action. Painting on a canvas with white coating helped bring out the colors of Monet’s paintings. He often painted with straight, unmixed colors. 

Painting outdoors was so important that while Monet was painting Women in the Garden (which was 2.5 meters – about 8 1/5 feet tall ), he dug a trench to hold his canvas. He would raise and lower the canvas with pulleys to reach the part he wanted to paint. Monet was so fascinated and careful with the light in his paintings, he would refuse to paint even the leaves in the backgrounds of his pictures if the light was not right. 

Since he enjoyed painting the outdoors so much, Claude had a boat made to become his studio. It had windows around the cabin so he could look out and even had a canopy so he could paint on the deck. He never did go very far offshore, though. A painting of the boat can be seen at

As the years passed, Monet settled down in Giverny (in Northwestern France) where he made a pond on his property and planted some water lilies.  Always watching the reflection of light on the plant life and the colors, Monet did a series of paintings of his water lilies which became very famous.   

This week I especially want to focus on The Waterlily Pond. Children seem to enjoy this painting.  In fact, I showed a few of Monet’s paintings to a four year old and a seven year old.  Both chose The Waterlily Pond as their favorite. Whey I asked them why, the seven year old said, “Because it has no people in it”. The four year old said, “because of the bridge”. I questioned them further. What would you like about it if the bridge weren’t there? (colors) What time of day do you think it is? What do you think you would see if you crossed the bridge? 

The four year old though maybe the bridge would lead him to New York City where he might meet Godzilla. The seven year old thought some people might be fishing on the other side of the bridge.  

When I asked what time of day they thought it was, the seven year old said it was morning. When I asked why he thought this, I was impressed to hear him say, “because of the light”. I had not yet taught him about Monet and his studies of light. 

It was also interesting to see the bridge stand out for them. Without the bridge, this painting meshes together almost like an abstract painting. The bridge gives it a bit of solid form. Ask the children in your child care how they think Monet made the bridge stand out. Claude literally made the bridge jump off the canvas by putting a lot of paint on the brush as he painted it. When it dried, he would repeat this method, tracing over the previous lines. He did this several times until the bridge seemed more solid than the rest of the painting. 

There are many ways children can learn about Monet. Show them one of his paintings and ask them what it is. When they answer, ask them how they knew what it was when most of the colors were painted on is dots and swirls. Then you can have the children experiment on their own.

  1. Give the children a sheet of paper which is half covered with dry white paint. Have them paint over both halves of the paper with the same colors and compare and contrast what effect the white background has on their painting. The children can use layers of paint to make part of their picture stand out.

  2. Have the children paint a picture with a “q-tip”…forming their painting with dots.
  3. Take some flowers and place them in a cup. Show the children the flowers in sunlight and have them talk about the colors they see. They can even draw what they see. Do not move the flowers, but continue to check them throughout the day. Talk about the changes of color and the changes in lighting. You can even turn their pictures into a little book depicting the changes of the day.
  4. Ask the children what they would enjoy painting (people, objects, buildings, nature, etc) and if they would build a special studio (like Monet’s boat). Have them build a model of their studio with paper, Popsicle sticks or toothpicks.
  5. Have the children make an arrangement of something they would like to draw (flowers or toys) and have them study it for a few minutes before they start coloring. Remind them of how Monet made his pond and planted his lilies then studied their colors and the light on them before painting them over and over.

In 1926, Claude Monet died. His eyesight had been failing for many years, but he continued painting until his last days. Claude’s gift for portraying light has made him very popular. Although he is long gone, Monet’s “impressions” live on and have impacted children and adults alike from his day, into our modern day world. 

Due to the patriotic holidays coming up in America, next week I plan to write about John Philip Sousa. Another composer from the 1800's.  This American composer wrote Stars and Stripes Forever. If you have any questions, comments or requests, please e-mail me at

Bibliography of Monet : and



Is a Contract Really All That Necessary?

Nannies & Child Care

By: Elizabeth Pennington


Now that you’ve decided on your nanny and whether or not she will live in or live out, the next question to ask is how necessary is a contract between you (the family) and the nanny?  If you’ve gone through a nanny agency, chances are a contract will already be filled out and signed and agreed upon by both parties.  How in depth  and how formal you make that contract is up to you and the agency. If you have found a nanny through word-of-mouth or through the local newspaper, the question of having a contract or not will be your own personal decision to make. 

When I began my nanny jobs, I didn’t push for a contract with my employers.  I was trusting and naive and very inexperienced in the ways of the world.  I have found throughout my years as a nanny that a contract isn’t always necessary, but it is good to have one, if for any reason, as a backup. There certainly were times that I wished wholeheartedly that I had pushed for the contract.  Upon hiring your nanny, you may verbally state what your expectations are, what her daily responsibilities will be, but after a while, it can be very easy for either party to slip on their end of the agreement.  If you have the contract as backup, then the both of you can refer to it to settle any disputes, major or minor, that may arise.

A few months have gone by, things have settled down, all is routine and the parents come home later and later in the evenings or the nanny decides to do the vacuuming tomorrow and tomorrow turns into another tomorrow, etc... Slacking off on the original agreement is very easy to do.  But if that contract is in place and it states that the employers are to be home no later than 6pm and that the vacuuming is to be completed by Wednesday, then there is no room for argument and no gray areas to contend with. Having this contract denies either party the option of not sticking to the rules.

Being the trusting person that I am, it was difficult for me to insist on a contract, especially when I felt close to the family and experienced the intimacy that comes with being in another family’s home, taking care of their children, and simply being a friend.  It is against my nature to be cynical (actually, I now call it practicality) and harbor in the back of my mind the idea that these people with whom I am so close would take advantage of me in any way whether they realized they had done so or not. But, trust has nothing to do with it. Getting down to the nitty gritty, it’s purely business. Business is business whether you’re in a personal working relationship or not.  In all the families I have worked for, only one managed to stick to all areas of their end of the agreement.  Not to say that the other families purposely took advantage, but it has occurred and a contract would have benefited me tremendously. 

If you are a stickler for details or simply want the security of a contract as backup in case the working relationship with your nanny begins to deteriorate, feel free to have that contract.  You don’t need to go through a lawyer for this.  Just type up the sort of contract that states what you want from your nanny, what your nanny can expect from you, or anything else you feel is pertinent and sit down with your nanny as a family and go over the contract together.  See if there is anything she would like to discuss and include.  Once everyone is in agreement with the contents, have both parties sign the binding contract. 

If you feel a contract isn’t necessary and your nanny doesn’t ask for one, then don’t worry about it.  Be prepared, though, of the possibility of rules and expectations being broken.  I’m not saying that it will happen, but it certainly can.  My best advice is to develop and foster open and honest communication between you and your nanny.  If you have that, then you should be good to go.  Treat her well and she will treat you and your family well.

Next week I’ll tackle the issue of having hidden cameras in the house to check what’s going on in the house while you are away. Is this an invasion of the nanny’s privacy or your right to protect your child in any way you can?  This issue is quite the debate nowadays since more and more families are hiring nannies, and it is an important issue.  


Choosing from the Pre-School Options

Child Care Issues

By:   Jenifer McCrea 

You have finally made the decision to send your baby to pre-school.  The reason you have made this decision is personal to each Mom (or Dad).  Maybe you have found a part-time job, perhaps you have an only child who needs more time to interact with peers.  It may be that you just need some precious hours on your own.  All these and many others are valid reasons to start your 2-4 year old in pre-school.  The hard part is deciding which of the many pre-school options fit your needs. 

Let me say first that no matter what your budget is, the LAST consideration for choosing a pre-school should be cost.  Within every financial bracket there are many options for pre-school, and finding a school that fits your needs and your child enjoys is paramount to a successful pre-school experience.  So what should you consider when looking at pre-school? 

First of all, start your research early.  I would recommend at least six months, preferably a year before you want your child in a program is the ideal time to start.  Everyone is looking for the “best” pre-school program and many excellent programs have waiting lists of at least that long.  However, what is “best” may not be best for you.   

Second, consider what kind of personality your child has.  Are they outgoing or shy?  Intrepid or more introverted?  Does your child prefer music and dance to basketball and baseball?  All these things and many others are important to your choice.   

Third, there are your considerations.  Am I required to volunteer on a regular basis in the school?  How far is the school from my home?  What options are offered for after-school care?  What is the discipline strategy of the school? 

It can seem overwhelming.  The jargon of pre-school does not simplify anything.  Pre-School can be called nursery school, pre-K, Montessori, traditional.  The names and their meanings are fuzzy at best so your research will need to include finding out what various titles the local pre-schools go by and why they different.  So what are the steps you need to take?  Where do you begin? I have always found that a list can make an overwhelming task seem manageable.  The following questions were questions I asked when I interviewed various admissions directors at pre-schools in my area.  I used the book The Educated Child by William J. Bennettt, Chester E. Finn, Jr., and John T.E. Cribb, Jr. as a basis for my questions.

  1. How many students are enrolled? What is the teacher to student ratio? What is the teacher certification?
  2. What kind of parent service is required?
  3. Is there an option with the tuition to do a work exchange? (Some private schools will discount tuition if the parent commits a certain number of volunteer hours per payment period).
  4. Can you describe a daily routine in the classroom?
  5. How do parents and Teachers stay in touch (is communication of at home issues encouraged)?
  6. Are there activities or performances outside of regular school?
  7. What is the sick child policy? (under what circumstances are children sent home, or should stay home).
  8. Can you give me references?

These eight questions are merely a guide.  You may want to discuss your child and any specific needs he or she has, as well as what your goals are for sending your child to pre-school. 

Let’s be honest, as I said in last week’s column, “To Pre-School or not to Pre-School that is the Question”, the pre-school chosen will not dictate how well your child does academically, although it can have an effect. The pre-school you choose will also not define your child as a person, he or she will get that from your influence.  But a bad pre-school experience can set the stage for a difficult transition to Kindergarten and full day school in First Grade.  By putting in a little bit of time and energy, you and your child can relax and enjoy their first foray into the world.   


Kitchenlab Kindermath, Tutorial #4

By:   Noreen Wyper


On each hand I have five fingers,

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

On each hand I have five fingers,

Watch them come alive.


Tutorial #4: Number Sense; Oral count to 12. To use counting in play and every day routines.

Teach your child to count the numerals from 1-3. After the child has mastered this sequence, continue on with 4-6. Then add 7-9 and finally 10-12. Always touch the object and count out loud.

Here are ideas as to what you can count in your Kitchenlab.

  • Count the spoons, knives and forks into sets of the numerals you are working on. Eventually, you can count all the spoons, knives and forks in the drawer. Which set has more, less or are they the same? At mealtime, talk about the number of people that will be eating dinner. Then, help the child match the corresponding number of placemats, plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, serviettes to each place. Always count the sets out loud and then place them around the table.

  • Count out pieces of cereal starting at one. Add one on and count them again. Add another one on and count them again until you reach the numeral you are working on.

  • Count the various fruits you have on hand. How many apples are there? How many oranges? Which set has more, less or are they the same?

  • When cooking, count out three carrots to clean, four potatoes to boil, etc..

  • Place three eggs in the egg carton. Then "count on". Add a fourth, then a fifth until you have reached twelve and the child sees that twelve makes a dozen.

  • Use a muffin pan to make sets of smaller items such as macaroni or raisins. The pan gives the child a definite space to work in, free from spillage.

  • When baking, encourage your child to count the number of stirs in a pattern; 1,2,3,1,2,3..Count out the raisins or cherries in groups of the numeral you are working with.

  • Count the cupboard doors, the doorknobs, the legs on one chair, two chairs and the legs on the table. Are the number of legs on one chair the same as the number of legs on the table? You could introduce the terms equal/ not equal at this time.

  • Count out toothpicks into sets from 2 to 12. Glue each set into a design on separate pieces of paper. Order the papers from 2-12. Staple them into a booklet. Print the numeral on each page for your child to begin to see the visual form of the numeral.

  • Count pennies out loud as they are dropped into a jar. Try nickels and dimes too.

  • Count out sets of macaroni to string to make a bracelet and a necklace. Four for the bracelet and six for the necklace.

  • Count a set of three green-labeled cans, four red-labeled cans, five boxes and six fruit juice boxes.

  • Count out sets of marshmallows. Using toothpicks, arrange them in different ways. Enjoy!!

  • Using food coloring in a small plastic dish, make thumbprint bugs on paper. Arrange them in sets of 2, 3, 4. Add antennae and legs with a thin magic marker or colored pencil. Circle each set. Print the numeral above each set for your child to once again become familiar with it.

  • Tap out a number on the table slowly for the child to count. This is an excellent listening skill builder.

The Kitchenlab is just brimming with opportunities to count, count and keep on counting!

Next week: Number sense: Recognizing and writing numerals from 1-12.



Everybody Grows Up At Camp

By:   Deb Di Sandro

"What do you mean I wasn’t there when you learned to ride your bike!?" I balked at my He-has-one-more Spaghettio-than-me middle child. "I was the one, who taught you," I reminded her.

"Not really," my pre-teen clarified. "The day I rode by myself, you were in the house watching a soap opera."

In an effort to defend myself, I asked, "What about the 6000 days before that split second when I held onto the back of your bike seat, huffing and puffing my way around the block?"

"Yeah – But!" she said discounting those memories with a pop of her tutti-fruiti bubble gum, "the day I actually learned, your soap opera was more important. You didn’t even come outside to watch me."

"You’re WRONG, Lauren!" I barked, dismissing her version with a flick of my kitchen towel.

Besides, I thought to myself. Even if she was right, it probably occurred on the same day as the soap event of the year. The day Luke and Laura married, for the tenth time. Who could blame a mother for not wanting to miss that history making moment?

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to pout about it. I was too busy preparing the ungrateful child for a week away at Camp-Cost-A-Lot, guaranteed to provide your kid with memories they would selectively forget for a lifetime.

I wrapped all of her prettiest outfits, the ones that set off her blue eyes, individually in tissue paper before carefully laying them in her suitcase.

"Gee, mom, I’m going to camp, not the Holiday Inn," Lauren said, while smashing her favorite pillow on top of the pile."

Yes, camp week couldn’t come too soon for both of us.

The moment finally arrived. We left Lauren in the hands of two counselors who sat perched atop the cabin bureau like Buddha’s, only without the bellies, imparting vast experiences of camping wisdom to their awe-struck followers sitting on the floor below.

I stared into the fresh, young faces of the girls who would take care of my baby for a week.

"It looks like it was just yesterday that they learned to feed themselves," I whispered to my husband.

"Just think," he reminded me, "for an entire six days, we won’t have to hear about who has more marshmallows in their breakfast cereal bowl."

I bent down to kiss my daughter. "Don’t forget to wear sunscreen."

The week without Lauren was quieter. But it didn’t take more than a day before the quiet became deafening. Although I had filled her suitcase with a note to read every day, short little notes like - "Remember to flash that awesome smile," and "Have a great day," and the one from her brother that read, "Don’t fart while sitting on the horse or he might pass out"- I decided to sit down and write her a letter. But what I wrote, surprised even me:

"I was sitting here reading the morning paper, Lauren. Remember when you told me I was watching a soap opera the day you learned to ride your bike? At first I was mad and didn’t want to believe that it was true. But if that’s how you remember it, then it is true. And I want to tell you how sorry I am for not rushing out to watch you. I am very proud of you and all your accomplishments and I will be watching more closely from now on!"

I wrote other letters after that. Her brother wrote letters. Grandma wrote letters. Even Champ the dog sent a paw print. The only one who didn’t send any letters was Lauren!

But it didn’t matter. Camp had already given me what I needed most. In the quiet spaces, I learned to let go of the "mother is always right" mindset and gave my daughter back her truth.

Saturday, after a loving reunion, which was just like a scene in "From here to Eternity" - or maybe it was "Joanie loves Chachi, I unzipped her suitcase to begin sorting the laundry. There at the bottom of her dirty clothes was a crumpled letter signed and ready to be mailed to the "Di Sandro family". I opened it.

The shaky penmanship brought tears to my eyes. Not the short paragraphs filled with her daily camp activities, but the P.S. Not the first P.S. that she wrote to her brother saying, "Marcus you are a disgusting pig," but the second P.S. she wrote to me which said, "Mom, it’s okay. Maybe I was wrong about the bike thing. Love, Lauren.



Have a Field Trip Come to You

By:   Kaye Miller

Field trips are a great way to teach children away from the classroom. A field trip can also provide a new experience and a break from the routine of child care. Although routines are necessary, a little change now and then is good for the children and helps prolong the sanity of the care giver.

Unfortunately, the means are not always available to take children on field trips especially in home daycare settings. That is okay because it is possible to bring the fun of field trips home to you and your children.

Here are some ideas for ways to provide a little spice in the world of daycare:

  • Have a policeman or firefighter come to teach the children about safety. Most departments have community programs to provide this service.
  • If you know someone in the military they can come in uniform and tell the children what it is like to be a soldier.
  • Have a dental hygienist come and show the children how to properly care for their teeth. Send business cards for the dental office home with the children. The office gets free advertising in exchange for coming to your home.
  • If you know someone who loves to garden, have them come and help the children plant flowers. You can either plant a flower garden on your property for the kids to care for or plant in pots for them to take home.
  • Have an aerobics instructor come and lead the children in "kidrobics".
  • Adopt a grandparent and have them come and do story time with the kids. This is a great experience for both the children and the elderly person.
  • If you know someone that has a strange pet, have them bring it and teach the children about the animal. Make sure that the animal has had all necessary shots and that the children are safe at all times.
  • Have someone from another country come and tell about where they are from. You can use this information the rest of the week to do activities pertaining to that country.
  • Have someone bring a musical instrument to show the children and lead them in songs.
  • Take nature walks around the neighborhood or even in your back yard. Make a display of your finds.
  • Have a camping trip in the backyard.
  • Play in the sprinkler.
  • Have friends or parents come and read stories or do crafts or music with the children.

These ideas can be fun for the kids and educational. You can plan a weeks worth of activities around each event. Choose books, crafts, games and even meals or snacks to go along with the event you are planning. Most children enjoy meeting new people and these experiences can help stimulate their imagination and creativity. Don’t worry if you can’t provide outings for you daycare, just bring the outings to you.




By:   Kaye Miller

Collages are fun for children and help them to develop fine motor skills when using scissors and gluing. I usually plan a theme for the collage and them give the children old magazines, catalogs, and store ads to cut pictures from. The older children can help the younger ones with the scissors and glue. The favorite theme I have found that the children enjoy most is "Things that I like". They cut out pictures of toys, clothes, software or anything else they can see that is something they like. Have them glue their pictures on a piece of construction paper of poster board.

Sometimes we decorate them with glitter, beads, macaroni or whatever we have in our craft box. Be careful of small items that may be choking hazards with small children. These collages are fun for the children and help parents or grandparents know what to buy their child at gift giving time.



Popsicle Stick Picture Frames

By:   Kaye Miller

Buy colored popsicle sticks in the craft area of your local department store or craft store. I usually buy a bag full with the four primary colors. Use one stick of each color and glue them together in a rectangular shape where the sticks cross. Decide what picture you are going use before gluing sticks to make sure you frame will be the right size. I always take pictures of the kids during events and have them printed in the 3 x 5 size which seems to work well for these frames. Use a piece of colored yarn to loop around the top of the frame to hang it. Tape the picture to the back of the frame and it is ready to hang. Parents and children both love these!


Bag Puppets

By:   Kaye Miller

Use paper lunch bags for the puppets. Leave bags closed to draw or glue on the puppet features. Use what would be the bottom of the bag if it were open for the face. Make the mouth where the bottom of bag folds over the rest of the bag. Glue or draw a face, hair and mouth on the bags and then let the children put on a puppet show.



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