Working together to make child care work
By Chloe Learey, Executive Director
December is a busy month for constituents to catch up with our legislators before they are consumed by the beginning of the session next month. Our Windham County delegation had the inspired idea of holding virtual office hours for groups to sign up and share what is on happening in the region and what we are thinking about as we head into 2021.
The Child Care Counts coalition, Let’s Grow Kids, and the Southeastern Vermont Building Bright Futures Council joined forces for a conversation with our delegation about child care during COVID – what went well, what are the challenges, and what lessons can we take forward to improve access, affordability, and quality. The challenges of the pandemic have magnified long-standing issues in child care: there are not enough slots, it is very expensive, and quality is variable as families turn to unregulated care to meet their needs.
Early Learning Center News
Facial coverings for children survey for preschool families
For the preschool families (those in the Birch and Oak classrooms) that have not had a chance to share their feedback on children and mask wearing, please fill out this survey by the end of the day on Friday. Until now, we have elected not to have children wear masks at the center and are currently revisiting this policy. To learn more about what factors have influenced our decision to this point, please read this memo.
Farm to School
Who hasn’t struggled with getting a child to eat their vegetables? It’s a common scenario that Farm to School addresses by regularly and repeatedly exposing children to fresh and local vegetables. It turns out that even visual exposure can be enough to help reluctant eaters try new foods over time. In other words, the more familiar a child is with a food (by touching, smelling, licking, tasting), the more likely they are to try it. The more often they try something the more likely they are to learn to like it.
In December we continued our exploration of paint, using black paints on white paper with sponge brushes and our fingers (penguin paint!). Our favorite books this month have been “Animal Time!” by Tom Arma and “Caps For Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina. A couple of our babies have been expressing their interest in hats, so we have put out different ones for them to wear and explore. We have a sombrero, sun hats, and a floppy multicolored hat. As the days have gotten colder, we’ve been using the small room off the big room as our gross motor space. The babies have loved climbing on the puffy blocks. crawling through the small tunnel, and pushing around baby dolls in the shopping cart. In January we will be doing more sensory play, filling clear buckets with water, snow, and ice. We will also be doing “Snow Painting”; filling squeeze bottles with different colored water and squirting them onto snow.
December was a quick month packed full of new activities for the children. Throughout the month, we focused a lot on process art projects as a group. The goal of process art is to allow children to explore the creative process without any interference, direction, or expectations to create a finished piece. The experience is the goal as children master new tools, discover new sensations, explore cause and effect, and take pride and joy in their creations.
We’ve also continued our snack preparation with more sweet potatoes. It has been interesting to watch their play develop in the dramatic play kitchen area. They seem more interested in food play, which is perhaps related to these experiences. We try to get outside when the weather is not too cold but have been sure to introduce lots of new challenging experiences in the great room indoors. The children have loved a new obstacle course and practicing batting with balloons.
For the month of December we enjoyed the Santas workshop dramatic play area. We also did many winter activities to do with snow. We enjoyed making cinnamon ornaments and smelling the yummy ingredient. We have been introducing choice time to the toddlers as they have areas to choose where they want to play in! For the month of January, we are focusing on a construction theme and still keeping the winter theme in play. We will be doing more art and sensory as well!
The month of December was not only very busy, but it was a very exciting month in the Birch Room. With the arrival of Santa in a matter of weeks, we had much to discuss. We started the month off with a re-vamping of the centers such as a “Jingle Bell” sensory table filled with red and green confetti, bells, and tongs/cups that the children had to use to find the bells and pick them up with. We also changed our Science Area into a Winter/Arctic wonderland complete with sensory bottles, arctic animals, and “ice” blocks!
Our weekly themes included topics such as “gift giving” and what it means to give and receive gifts and how it makes us feel. This topic we focused on making cinnamon gingerbread ornaments with our pictures on them as gifts for our parents as well as bracelet making for our peers that we were able to gift to them on the last day of school before break. We also had one week where we focused on Gingerbread. We read many different versions of “The Gingerbread Man” story including the “Gingerbread Boy” and the “Gingerbread Baby!” We also made Gingerbread mosaics with different colored tissue paper.
The month of January we will be focusing on All Things Winter including topics such as snow, ice, and snowmen! We will also be starting some new learning endeavors such as rhyming, patterns, and learning more about our letters. We look forward to an exciting second half of the school year and are excited to see all the new growth our Birch room friends make! Here’s to 2021!
December in the Oak Room was filled with gingerbread and sledding!! We made gingerbread people as well as actual gingerbread cookies!! After our snow day, we took the kids sledding, which they loved. We also made gifts for our friends in the classroom by spelling their names with words that described them. In January, we plan to have more fun in the snow. We already started making paper snowflakes in the classroom and are excited for the adventures the new year will bring!!
- Jan 2 – Happy Birthday Chloe, Executive Director!
- Jan 11 – Oz is 3!
- Jan 12 – Happy Birthday Evon, Family Supportive Housing Coordinator!
- Jan 19 – Jade is 5!
- Jan 20 – Triton is 5!
- Jan 30 – Ian is 3!
Dates to Remember
- Update: The ELC will be open all day on Friday January 8th
- Update: The Center will be closed on Monday, January 18 for in-service
- The Center will close at 12:00 on Friday, February 12 for in-service
- The Center will be closed Monday, February 15 for President’s Day
Resources & Events for families
Windham County Winter Resources Activity Guide
RiseVT and the VT Department of Health has published a collection of family friendly activities that you can enjoy this winter, including Story Walks, Mindfulness Activities, Trails & Parks info and more. Click here to view the guide.
4 week Parent Circle series for ELC families
CIS Consultation & Behavior Support Specialist (and former Infant Room Lead Teacher) Nancy McMahon will lead this four part online discussion series which is open to all ELC families. The Tuesday evening gatherings will be held online at 7:00pm on Jan. 19, Jan 26, Feb 2 and Feb 9. Topcis will include: “Parenting through Covid, How are we doing?” “Why Is She Doing That? Lets Look at Behaviors. What is it how can we change it?” “The Good Enough Parent,” and “Intentional Parenting.” Come to one or all four. Information about registration coming soon!