Finding Quality Early Childhood Education

 

Before becoming a mom I spent a few years teaching 4 year-olds. I will always cherish those years that taught me as many valuable lessons as the children learned. I loved watching each day as a child learned something new or mastered a skill for the first time.

When it comes to learning, the early childhood years are the prime time to set the foundation for a love of learning. Along with learning academic skills like the alphabet, colors, and numbers, it’s also the perfect time to start learning essential life skills such as cooperation, social skills and independent thinking. Preschool can help children learn all these things, and more!

When deciding on preschool or child care for the preschool aged child, there are two things that I think are important to consider. You’ll want to find a program that allows for plenty of free play time (since kids learn a lot through play) and also offers a quality early childhood curriculum. Researching different offerings, I really fell in love with the Bright Horizons® curriculum.

What I like about Bright Horizons is that their developmentally appropriate Emergent Curriculum can be adapted to serve each child’s strengths and needs, so curriculum is tailored to the child and not the other way around. Their World at Their Fingertips® curriculum creates developmentally appropriate learning opportunities that empower children to be confident, successful, lifelong learners, helping them achieve school readiness in all areas of academic and social learning, making it a great option for preschool.

Parents can feel confident their child will be prepared for elementary school because Bright Horizons makes sure their curriculum syncs with local elementary schools and aligns with national academic standards to ensure the curriculum is preparing children to succeed when they graduate from the program and go in to elementary school.

It’s clear that whether you are looking for the ideal curriculum and environment to prepare your child for future schooling years or are a working parent needing a quality child care center, Bright Horizons is a great option for early childhood education.

And just because I’m reminiscing now….I’ll leave you with a picture of when my boys were little ❤️

Have you put your children in early education classes or child care? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

I-Spy ABC Bottle For Alphabet Fun

This post has been sponsored by Amazon Studios.

I love when things in our daily life inspire our crafting time. This week, the Amazon Original Kids’ Series show, Stinky & Dirty, inspired us to make a fun craft using an empty water bottle. In this series, dynamic duo Stinky, the garbage truck, and Dirty, the backhoe loader, enjoy everyday adventures that prove how resourcefulness and teamwork can solve just about any problem. I love that they give kids ideas for reusing things instead of throwing them away.

There are so many things you can make with an empty water bottle but my boys and I used it to make spelling practice more fun by turning it into a game. We created an I-SPY ABC bottle!

This craft is super easy to do and fun for kids to help make.

1) Make sure your water bottle is dry inside and take off the outside wrapper.

2) Fill the bottle a quarter full with rice.

3) Add in half of the beads.

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 until your water bottle is 3/4 of the way full.

5) At this point you can super glue the lid on if you feel your children may open it, otherwise just put the lid on tightly. Then, have children shake the water bottle to mix the rice and beads.

There are a number of ways to use this I-SPY bottle: For younger children you can have them find certain letters by saying the letter you want them to find, say the sound the letter you want them to find makes or have them name letters and sounds as they find them. Older kids can be asked to find the letters that spell words. Children can also find a letter in the ABC I-Spy bottle and then find something in the room that starts with the letter.

Do your children love using their imaginations? If so, you’ll definitely want to watch Stinky & Dirty with them! It’s now streaming with Prime on Amazon Video. Watch an episode with your child and encourage them to use problem solving skills to turn trash into treasure to solve a problem! I’d love to see what they are inspired to create! Tag me on social media (@aliciamarie112 on Twitter and Making Time For Mommy on Facebook) and share with the hashtag #StinkyAndDirty :)

Dear Social Worker At My Son’s Preschool

Dear Social Worker at my son’s school,

Jacob is my first-born child. I loved and cherished him as a little one in my womb while mourning the loss of his twin. I walked around for months with cankles and spent half my pregnancy with my head in a toilet. I gave birth and attempted breastfeeding. I joined mommy and me groups so I could make friends with other moms and he’d have playmates. I listened to everything I could about how to be a “good mom” and tried to do it all. I read book after book at my child’s request, cleaned up mess after mess, and changed diaper after diaper.

A few years into his young life, after I swallowed my pride, I took him to the Doctor and shared some concerns I had. When my son’s Doctor dismissed me, I pushed because I knew, I knew, something was not right. I had him tested and, with delays found in multiple areas, he was put in Early Intervention. After learning he had some difficulty processing his senses I researched everything I could on Sensory Processing Disorder. I sat through endless hours of therapies to help him catch up to his peers and then he was tested for preschool and he qualified for services in the public school district. Fast forward to the end of his second year of Preschool and today’s IEP meeting where I sat, outnumbered, in a room  listening to how worried the school staff was about my son.

This wasn’t the first meeting that I’ve endured but somehow this seemed to be the most important that I’d ever have since this was the meeting where we’d start discussing placement for Kindergarten. This is a heavy decision for any parent, including myself, because it’s the one that would probably determine the rest of his school career. I knew once he was in a track at school, be it special education or children labeled with “behavior problems” or regular education, he would most likely be in that category for years to come and I’d have to fight to change it if I ever felt like the placement needed to change. I’ve heard horror stories of parents trying to change services or add things in and I knew my journey would be a long one. I wanted to make the right choices now and it was a lot of stress knowing that I was making such a big decision in the coming months.

All the school personnel on Jacob’s team shared about their experiences with Jacob, both what he was doing well and what their concerns were. Then it was your turn. Seeing that a mother was hurting, worried, and anxious it would have been best to assure me that we would figure this out as a team and that, in the end, everything would be okay. Instead you decided to use many of your words to bring me down and attack my child.

You told me how your team couldn’t be expected to change my child’s behavior that he’d spent the past four and a half years learning {assuming, I guess, that I had not spent the past four years trying to raise him correctly}. You told me how the school personnel was ultimately the one who’d decide placement for my child and basically told me that in the end it wasn’t up to me and I could make suggestions but they wouldn’t really make much of a difference. Then, and this really, really hurt, you implied that I would do anything other than what was in my child’s best interest when all I was doing was trying to understand the different options that were available.

What hurt most of all though, and what made me meltdown once I was safely in the hallway away from you, was that you spent the majority of your time criticizing my child. You used the results of a survey his current teacher and his old teacher had taken and pointed out everything that was “wrong” with my son. Not once did you point out one of the great things about him. Not once.

But that’s probably because you don’t know him. You’ve spent, what? 15 minutes with him?

He isn’t perfect by any means and when you brought up attention problems and ADHD I believe you probably aren’t too far off. All those other things you listed? Yep, those are issues I’m aware of and we are working on.

You seemed to have missed a few things though. His smile. His belief in right vs. wrong. His willingness to help. His laugh. His ability to remember the smallest detail. His inquisitive nature. His joy for life. His love for others. His excitement. His concern for friends who aren’t on the bus or at school.

Any of these qualities you could have pointed out among the other things but you didn’t. Instead, you chose to look at a chart full of dots that represented all his “problems” and completely missed the child behind the chart.

I’m begging you, next time you are in an IEP meeting, think about the parent sitting on the other side of the table and at least one positive thing you can say about their child. Of course, to do that you may actually have to get to know the child you are talking about. They are more than just a list of behaviors, dots on a chart or a diagnosis. They are special regardless of what problems brought their parents into that meeting with you.

Signed,

Jacob’s mom

Reusing Items For Learning Fun

I talked last month about Unilever and their commitment to donating meals to those in need. I found out that this was just a part of their sustainable living plan. They are also working on improving health and well-being, enhancing livelihoods, and reducing environmental impact. They are working towards a goal of 100% renewable energy. I think that the work this company is doing is amazing and it makes me want to work harder at reducing my own environmental impact. Wondering which of your favorite brands are made by Unilever? Take a look below!

I went shopping and bought some Bertolli meals and some Lipton Iced Tea. I love the Bertolli meals because they are easy to make and taste delicious. Here was last night’s dinner:

Jacob is not a huge potato fan but he loved the potatoes in this meal because of the sauce they were in. After dinner I wanted to find a use for the Lipton Iced Tea bottles. We recycle some items into a recycling bin but lately I’ve been trying to create more with “trash” and save what I can to reuse. My favorite way to do this is by incorporating them into learning for my preschoolers.

When I taught preschool I had some “sensory bottles” in my classroom. They were fun to shake and look at for the children and I wanted to make them with my own kids.

I used the Lipton Tea bottles that were empty and instead of throwing them away I reused them for this fun activity. First, I rinsed them clean and let them dry. Once that was done I called the boys to the kitchen table and we got to work. I had decided we would make two different types of bottles. The first we made was a “find and seek” bottle.

I filled a bottle halfway with rice and put some letter beads out on the table. I then called out letters and the boys would have to find that letter and put it in the bottle. They thought this was a lot of fun and they liked helping mommy.

After all the beads were in we added more rice. We filled up the bottle but left a little empty space at the top so that the rice and letters inside could move around. A little tacky glue in the cap to ensure we wouldn’t have a huge mess on our hands if one of them got it open and we were done with our first bottle. The boys liked shaking it up to find all of the letters in their names.

Next, we made some water filled sensory bottles. You can fill these with anything you’d like but we chose sequins and glitter and then added a few drops of food coloring in the water.

I let the boys put their own sequins in their bottles {warning: little hands putting little pieces into little bottles makes a huge mess}. They worked at this diligently for a while since they could only get a few pieces in at a time. I then helped them sprinkle glitter into their bottles and we filled them with water. I let them pick out the color they wanted to make their water and squeezed the food coloring in. I added a bit too much to Jacob’s and his turned a very dark shade of green. Lucas wanted red so I just added a few drops in his. I also added a little dish soap to put some bubbles in it.

The last one we made I decided to do half oil and half water. I put in some vegetable oil, a little glitter, and some drops of food coloring. The boys watched as the food coloring didn’t spread, like it had in the water, but instead created tiny beads of color. I think a full bottle of vegetable oil would have been a lot of fun. I added water and the colors bled together though it was still fun to watch the water and oil separate.

The boys enjoyed putting these sensory bottles together and then playing with them. I’m looking forward to creating more crafts with them using recycled materials. Someone suggested making a planter out of a Country Crock tub and I think the boys and I might do that as the weather gets warmer.

How do you reuse items for learning fun?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Unilever  #cbias #SocialFabric )

First Days Of School {Wordless Wednesday}

Luke’s 1st Day of Preschool

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Jake’s 1st Day of Preschool

Preschool 2011 {Wordless Wednesday}

The boys start school this week! I thought I’d share a picture of the first day of school last year when just Jacob was headed off to school. Next week I will share a picture of both boys because Jacob and Lucas are both headed to preschool in the next couple of days!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Lucas!

Lucas on the way out the door to his first day of preschool

Jacob’s School Picture- Spring 2012 {Wordless Wednesday}

Picture by Lifetouch

Wordless Wednesday: Beginning Writing Skills

Jacob's first attempts at writing his name

I have linked this post to: Wordless Wednesday Home

5 Minutes for Mom ~ Go Graham Go! ~ Jolly Mom

Mom of 3 Girls ~MomStart ~ Two of a Kind…

Momma Findings ~ Mom Knows It All

A Daily Dose of Toni

The Divine Miss Mommy

Grammy Mouse Tails

Fall Sensory Table

Our Fall Sensory Table: beans, leaves, and gourdes

The boys were also given spoons and nesting cups.

After this picture was taken I added other items:

Acorn Bells

Pretend apples and small pinecones

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More ideas of what you can put in your Fall sensory bins can be found on the following blogs:

1+1+1=1

Counting Coconuts

I Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flashcards

Our Cup Of Tea

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Linked up to: The Sunday Showcase and Link & Learn

First Day Of Preschool

Jacob had his first day of preschool on Friday so I wanted to share about it :)

We started a “night before school” tradition where the kids get to pick the restaurant they want to go to. Jacob chose pizza so we headed to a local pizza place. After dinner we came home and the boys had baths and we read some books about going to school for the first time.

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The next morning I woke up earlier than everyone else and started getting ready for the day. Daddy had taken the morning off work too so he could watch his oldest son go to his first day of school. He helped get the kids ready. Outfits had been picked out the night before which helped save time in the morning. Sinisa made the boys a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs and nutella on toast which they enjoyed. The backpack was filled with school supplies and ready to go. Before we left the house I took a picture of Jacob standing by the front door, something I remember doing every single year growing up on the first day of school.

We drove to Jacob’s school and got there pretty early. We aren’t allowed to bring the kids in to the school which I was kind of bummed about. Teacher assistants come get them and bring them inside to sit outside of their classrooms until school starts at 8am. When the teacher came and opened his door, Jacob seemed leery about going with someone he didn’t know and he didn’t want to wear his backpack but after a minute or so he let the teacher lead him away from the car.

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When we came back two and a half hours later we waited in a long line as we watched children come out of the building and get into their parent’s cars. We spotted Jacob before he saw us and I tried to get another picture of him but couldn’t because other cars were in the way. When we finally got closer he saw our car and his face lit up.

As soon as he got in the car I was wanting to know about his day. He said he played with playdough and read books. He seems very excited to return so we shall see how drop off goes today!

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Has your child started school yet? How did the first day go?

Wordless Wednesday: First Day of Preschool

My nephew, Camden, on his first day of preschool

Camden heading to preschool with his brand new backpack

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I have linked this post to: Wordless Wednesday Home

5 Minutes for Mom ~ Go Graham Go! ~ Jolly Mom

Mom of 3 Girls ~MomStart ~ Two of a Kind…