My early childhood centre is being relicensed shortly so this means a thorough reading of the Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008

http://www.lead.ece.govt.nz/~/media/Educate/Files/Reference%20Downloads/Lead/Files/Criteria/2008LicensingCriteriaforEarlyChildhoodCareCentresBooklet%20Aug09.pdf

Our centre has just reviewed all our policies, procedures and processes to support our licensing and made some minor procedural changes to reflect current practices. There are subtle differences in the definitions of policy, procedures and processes. A policy is a statement to determine decisions, a procedure is an established way of doing things and a process documents steps towards a goal.

The last review of our philosophy statement was in 2012 and it outlines our fundamental beliefs, values and ideals, what is special about our service and is the basis for decisions about the management of our service. The people and the things that make our centre special grow the culture of our centre. Our culture means the understandings, patterns of behaviour, practices, and values shared by our people. Relicensing means, we need to be able to surface and articulate the culture of our centre.

ECE services must meet the licensing criteria as well as other regulatory requirements contained in the regulations in order to gain and maintain a license to operate. The criteria should be read in conjunction with the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008. The purpose of the criteria is to assess compliance with the minimum standards set out in the New Zealand ECE Regulations 2008 (43, 45, 46, & 47).

Regulation 43 is about curriculum. The basis of our curriculum is Te Whāriki, the national early childhood curriculum, and includes all of the experiences, interactions, activities and events – direct and indirect, planned and spontaneous – that happen at the service. All our teaching practices including planning, assessment, and evaluation form part of the service curriculum.

Planning – got to come up with the perfect definition for this one

Assessment means the process of noticing children’s learning, recognizing its significance, and responding in ways that foster further learning. It includes documenting some, but not necessarily all, of what and how children are learning in order to inform teaching, and make learning visible

Evaluation – got to come up with the perfect definition for this one

The criteria to assess Curriculum are professional practice, culture and identity, children as learners and working with others. Professional practice looks at consistency with curriculum, how well planning, assessment and evaluation informs the curriculum, quality of interactions and relationships. It also considers knowledge of relevant theories and practice in early childhood education. Culture and identity reflects how children develop knowledge and an understanding of both parties to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, confident in their own culture and respectful of others culture. The Children as learners section looks closely at the inclusiveness and responsiveness of the curriculum. It considers how children are involved, respect for child preferences, the richness of language used, opportunities, and experiences offered – indoors and outdoors, individually and for groups. How the curriculum supports children’s developing social competence and understanding of appropriate behaviour. Working with others concerns parents and whānau. It looks at how we respect and acknowledge their aspirations, how we communicate, how they are involved in decision-making, and how we access support and guidance from outside agencies.
The documentation required to show how we meet requirements is already in our centre. They include portfolios, wall displays, policies and procedures. They must include:
• a process for positive social guidance (social competence policy);
• a process for family/ whānau to communicate formally (complaints procedure) or informally (kanohi-ki-te-kanohi, portfolio discussions, parent evenings, meetings with the centre leader);
• how family/ whānau are involved in decision making about their child (questionnaires, dialogue, portfolio contributions);
• feedback on various issues, and discussion with staff and
• a record of information and guidance sought from agencies or services.

Regulation 45 is about premises and facilities. The premises and facilities must consider the age and number of children attending, be of sufficient space including food preparation, eating, sleeping, storage, toileting, and washing. It must also have suitable heating, lighting, noise control, ventilation, and equipment to support appropriate curriculum delivery, safe and healthy practices, and comply with Schedule 4 (which relates to activity spaces) and the premises and facilities standard: general.

The criterion to assess premises and facilities considers how the layout and design supports indoor and outdoor experiences, includes quiet spaces, areas for physically active play, space for age appropriate individual and group learning. It considers effective adult supervision and if access to the licensed areas is not unnecessarily limited. The premises conform to any relevant bylaws of the local authority and the Building Act 2004.

The documentation required to show how we meet requirements is already in our centre. They include Building Warrant of Fitness, Code Compliance Certificate issued under Section 95 of the Building Act 2004 and a procedure outlining how we meet hygiene and infection control when washing sick and soiled children.

There is a long list of criteria for premises and facilities around health and safety of children in our care. They include design and layout, the need for a telephone on site, food preparation, hand washing, toileting, and sleeping.

Regulation 46 concerns health and safety. Health and safety involves hygiene, emergencies, sleep, hazards and outings, food and drink, child health and well-being and child protection.

There is a lot more documentation required showing how we meet these criteria and it is already in our centre. The first is a procedure for the hygienic laundering of linen and then:
• a procedure for changing nappies that ensures hygiene and children are treated with dignity and respect,
• a current Fire Evacuation Scheme approved by the New Zealand Fire Service,
• a written procedure and list of supplies sufficient for the age and number of children attending the service. The procedure outlines how staff will access appropriate help and support in a variety of emergencies
• evacuation procedure for the premises;
• a record of the emergency drills carried out with children; a procedure for monitoring children’s sleep.
• The procedure ensures that children:
o do not have access to food or liquids while in bed;
o are checked for warmth, breathing, and general well-being at least every 5-10 minutes, or more frequently according to individual needs,
o a record of the time each child left in the care of the service sleeps, and checks made by adults during that time
• A hazard identification and management system that is consistent with the requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, but goes beyond the consideration of significant hazards to employees to include all hazards to children.
• A record of outings or excursions, records include: the names of adults and children involved; the time and date of the outing; the location and method of travel; assessment and management of risk; adult: child ratios; evidence of parental permission and approval of adult: child ratios for regular outings or excursions; and evidence of parental permission and approval of adult: child ratios for special outings or excursions
• Evidence of parental permission for any travel by motor vehicle, in most cases, this requirement is met by the excursion records required for criterion HS17.
• A record of all food served during the service’s hours of operation (other than that provided by parents for their own children). Records show the type of food provided, and are available for inspection for 3 months after serving
• a record of all injuries that occur at the service that include:
o the child’s name;
o the date, time, and description of the incident;
o actions taken and by whom;
o evidence of parental knowledge of the incident
• Copies of teachers current first aid (or medical practicing) certificates
• A record of serious illnesses that occur at the service, records include:
o the child’s name;
o the date, time, and description of the incident;
o actions taken and by whom; and
o evidence of parental knowledge of the incident
• a record of the written authority from parents for the administration of medicine in accordance with the requirement for the category of medicine outlined in Appendix 3.
• A record of training and/or information provided to adults who administer medicine to children (other than their own) while at the service.
• A process for the prevention of child abuse
• A procedure for responding to suspected child abuse.

Governance, management and administration are the focus of Regulation 47. It involves parent involvement and information, professional practices and planning and documentation.

There is documentation required to show how we meet these criteria and it is already in our centre. This documentation includes a complaints procedure displayed, information available letting parents know how to access child information, the service’s operational documents, and the most recent Education Review Office report. Other documentation includes written information letting parents know: how they can be involved; the fees charged; the amount and details of the expenditure of any Ministry of Education funding; and about any planned reviews and consultation. In addition, evidence of opportunities provided to contribute to the development and review of the service’s operational documents. A philosophy statement, and a process for reviewing and evaluating the service’s operation (for example, learning and teaching practices, philosophy, policies, and procedures) by the people involved in the service. The process is consistent with criterion GMA4, and includes a schedule showing timelines for planned review of different areas of operation. Also required are recorded outcomes from the review process and processes for human resource management; including:
• selection and appointment procedures;
• job/role descriptions;
• induction procedures into the service;
• a system of regular appraisal;
• provision for professional development;
• a definition of serious misconduct; and
• discipline/dismissal procedures

Processes for human resource management; including:
• selection and appointment procedures;
• job/role descriptions;
• induction procedures into the service;
• a system of regular appraisal;
• provision for professional development;
• a definition of serious misconduct; and
• discipline/dismissal procedures

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Sensory play is a valuable part of quality early childhood programs. Children provided with sensory materials enhance their senses of touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing. The use of sensory materials allows children the opportunity for hands-on and self-directed play to encourage the development of:

  • Fine/Gross motor skills – Children are able to improve their fine/gross motor skills through the manipulation of sensory materials – pouring, molding, lifting, carrying, sifting, sorting, etc.
  • Creativity – Sensory play allows the child to experiment with a large variety of materials in new and creative ways. Uninterrupted play (by adults) allows creativity to flourish. The children are able to use the materials as they see fit and are able to enjoy the process rather than considering the product.
  • Self-esteem – The children build self-confidence and positive self-esteem as they master what they set out to do. They have the opportunity to choose on their own what they plan to do and how they will accomplish it. When children achieve personal goals, there is a great sense of fulfillment.
  • Social development – As children interact with each other, they learn to share and cooperate while building their vocabulary. They also learn effective ways to resolve conflicts among each other.
  • Cognitive development – Children develop their cognitive skills through sensory play by observing, experimenting, and formulating solutions to problems that arise while manipulating the sensory materials. They learn to count, group, sequence, construct, measure, etc.

Interested adults develop these skills more fully with mindful interactions

Separation anxiety: Resources and Discussions

by Deborah  J. Stewart

For many young children, starting back up into the routine of attending  preschool can cause a little bit of separation anxiety.

Wy and Messy Painting

It is important, as a parent or as a teacher, to understand the stressors  that lead up to and compound the problem of separation anxiety. As many of you know, my nephew Wy  often comes to my house to hang out with me but what you may not know is that  there was a time when Wy would get upset and throw himself to the ground  whenever he realized that it was time for his mommy to leave.

Separation Anxiety: Resource and Discussion

Separation anxiety is  something that all parents and caregivers should understand how to address in a  healthy and productive manner.

No Cry Separation Anxiety

Elizabeth does a wonderful job covering the issue  of separation anxiety in a simple to read and easy to follow manner.  Elizabeth’s book covers tips for babies, toddlers, preschool, and school age  children. Here is a sneak peak at some of Elizabeth’s tips…

  • Allow children to warm up to new situations
  • Tell stories that teach
  • Have a dress rehearsal
  • Give your child a calming trinket
  • Have a specific routine for parenting
  • Don’t plant worry seeds

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the amazing insight and ideas  Elizabeth shares through her book. Each topic above comes with a complete  description of what to do and why.

Oh, and in the back of Elizabeth’s book is an envelope with a special  surprise – I won’t spoil it for you:)

I know that many of you have developed your own strategies for separation  anxiety. Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

nullThis article is being shared with you by Deborah  Stewart of Teach Preschool – Promoting  excellence in early childhood education at home and in the preschool  classroom!

Read more: http://www.teachpreschool.org/2010/08/separation-anxiety-give-away/#ixzz2QKnVasB9

EDtalks

via EDtalks.

On the surface teachers at our early childhood centre have good relationships with the parents and extended families of the children who attend. However, surprisingly, we had some mediocre feedback in our parent survey this year. Some reflection and reading about improving our relationships was needed. This article by McGrath seems to be quite helpful with ideas about how to help us improve our relations.

Ambivalent Partners: Power, trust and partnership in relationships between mums and teachers by W McGrath (2007).

The rhetoric is of parents and teachers as partners, is this a reality? Parents and teachers come to the table with different expectations, knowledge and needs, but with a desire to work together. When there is good communication between both parties, accomplishments get acknowledged, little problems don’t tend to become big ones and big problems can be better managed.

When teachers provide information about the child, they bolster parental trust, and parents connect to the child’s experience in the centre. Teachers tend to invest less in trusting parents; power dynamics in interactions with parents fluctuate because the partnership is framed by ambivalence and uncertainty.

Communication Strategies

  1. Communicate regularly: The most familiar forms of communication between parents and early childhood teachers are: personal contact, telephone calls, home visits, parent evenings, open evenings, and afternoon teas. However, the establishment of effective centre-home communication has grown more complex as society has changed. The great diversity among families means that it is not possible to rely on a single method of communication that will reach all homes with a given message. It is essential that a variety of strategies, adapted to the needs of particular families and their schedules, incorporated into an overall plan.

Some strategies to consider include:

    • Introductory pages for teachers on display
    • Parent newsletters
    • Annual open house
    • Parent conference
    • Parent-teacher support group/Facebook page
    • Portfolio’s of child’s learning to go home for parent review and comment
    • Phone calls
    • E-mail or contact through centre website
    • Curriculum nights
    • Home visits (where applicable)
    • Annual school calendars/ photos
    • Inserts in local newspapers
    • Annual grandparents or “special persons” days
    • Annual field days
    • Notices and handouts available in the centre and in local markets, clinics, churches, mosques, temples, or other gathering sites
    • Website for the centre showcasing excellence in practice
    • Workshops for parents
    • Communications that are focused on fathers as well as mothers

Good two-way communication between families and early childhood centres is necessary for children’s success. Not surprisingly, research shows that the more parents and teachers share relevant information with each other about a child, the better equipped both will be to help that child achieve.

Effective communication strategies involve:

  • Initiation: Teachers should initiate contact as soon as they know which children will be in their classroom for the school year. Contact can occur by means of an introductory phone call or a letter to the home introducing yourself to the parents and establishing expectations.
  • Timeliness: Adults should make contact soon after problem identification, so a timely solutions are found. Waiting too long can create new problems, possibly through the frustration of those involved.
  • Consistency and frequency: Parents want frequent, ongoing feedback about how their children are performing
  • Follow-through: Parents and teachers each want to see that the other will actually do what they say they will do.
  • Clarity and usefulness of communication: Parents and teachers should have the information they need to help children, in a form and language that makes sense to them.

Surprise a Parent

Parents are not accustomed to hearing unsolicited positive comments from teachers about their children, especially in a phone call from the centre. Research shows that increased school-home communication occurs through personalized positive contact between teachers and parents such as a phone call.

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Relationships among the five aspects of culture

I subscribe to www.tcrecord.org, and I am not sure how it works but I do know I have gained some great insights into practice from this website. They have just emailed me the highlights of 2012 and when I read one article, it resonated well with me. Although it was about maths and from a school perspective, the discussion around having a collective culture securely focused on improving practice is the concept that stood out.

When I think of the level of quality my new manager wants and why it is so hard to achieve in my context, I wonder if it is based in our reoccurring problems.

Our reoccurring problem is that each teacher does their ‘bit’ – and often do it very well – but we do our ‘bits’ separately. This last year our fortnightly planning meetings have been overtaken by ‘housekeeping’ for various ‘events’ that have happened. 2013 has to be the year we keep the focus on children, learning and teaching. Then and only then will we create a space for collective practice.

I think the reoccurring problem that is not articulated in my centre is that a vision of quality is not visible  or clear to all.

So what to do to improve our culture? We can’t simply ask teachers to change their habits and beliefs. Young (2008) perhaps captured this most clearly when he argued that “curriculum is not just a product of the practices of teachers and pupils or even government policies but a social institution that needs to be understood independently of the individual actions of teachers and policy makers” (p. 11).

So our early childhood centre is a social institution that requires recognition of the complexities influencing centre and room culture. Some aspects of our culture that influence teaching decisions are individual and organizational factors, curricular and instructional decisions, policies, resources, assessment systems professional development and collaborative pathways available to teachers. Professional discretion also plays a role. Coordinating these aspects can only happen once we recognize and grow our practice from understandings of the complex interrelationships that make up our social institution.

http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16718

Teacher Reflection

We are sharing teachers within in the centre. Teachers migrate for a period to work with another age group.

The reasons behind this are:

  • to ensure children are comfortable with more than one teacher in case of absences
  • building links between the under-two and over-two environments so children’s transitions are managed more smoothly
  • for risk management – fresh eyes can see things that may harm children others have become accustomed to
  • to support a larger self-review project aimed at transitions within and out of the centre in 2013
  • having a broader range of contributions (voices) in children’s portfolios
  • growing professional teachers who have an area of expertise, as well as being experienced in teaching all ages – recognising the Registered Teacher Criteria that all learners are planned for
  • teachers have to articulate their practice clearly as they move, so enduring ideas and practices are discussed and reviewed
  • foregrounding a culture of a Park Avenue team rather than disparate age groups
  • professional challenge contributes to job satisfaction and higher levels of morale
  • as teachers move from one area to another they share ideas, shape and re-shape environments and positively transform learning
  • we want excellence in teaching practice reliably and consistently throughout the centre, learning from other teachers lifts practice
  • teachers use different lenses during their ‘mental migrations’ to support practice
  • teachers collaborate to grow practice by sharing and transferring ideas, strategies and practices – this leads to increased capacity to try new things and innovation in teaching
  • for financial reasons; to reduce our reliance on relievers, if one area is over staffed, all staff are able to work with all children

Personal reflection on having a student for a year

I have found having a student to work with the teaching team for a long period interesting. From a personal viewpoint, it has helped me to articulate my practice, as I have had to explain and justify my teaching actions clearly. I found it harder as time went by, M has shown herself to be a competent reliever so she is often working and it became difficult for us both to fit in even 5 minutes of time together to discuss and support practice and theory.

Professional dialogue to support the place of theory and collaboration in practice often took place in the staff room or by email. To keep using educative mentoring strategies rather than practice ‘tips’ required some careful thought from myself. I think in the future, I require more mindful planning and protecting time with students to ensure my support for graduating teachers does not slip aside. I was lucky as M is capable and did not require intensive support – however it could have been a different story if she had been less competent.

Having a student for longer periods made me really think about my practice. Role modelling sometimes-abstract concepts with young children is difficult; to do this with someone watching and learning is also difficult. I wondered if there are cultural barriers that stopped M from understanding what I meant. Learning can be quite subtle and I often use idioms without thinking! Concepts and values such as good decision-making techniques, admitting mistakes and learning from them, being respectful to others, kindness are important to me. I hope I shared these abstract values with M in a way that she can learn from them.

Ideas for improvement include changes to the portfolio. The portfolio presented to her of the years work has worked well – M liked hers enough to show her family in her home country which is gratifying. However, I need to be more specific about the support given in the entries. Next time I think it would be helpful to include a farewell letter that includes specific accomplishments and strengths.

Teacher Reflection: How we saw 2012

Our monthly evaluation of events leaves a record for us to think about at the end of the year, things to reflect on to improve our learning and teaching for 2013. The monthly reflection also creates a space to think on all the things that we missed in our evaluations and reflections because they were just part of our lives at that time in the toddler room.

During 2012, all the teachers had opportunities to attend professional development tailored to our group and individual learning needs. One teacher attended professional development on children’s schema learning. Because of information sharing from this professional development, we have focused our lens of learning more on children’s schematic knowledge. Professional development around the RIE philosophy from an outside expert who has visited Hungary and trained with Emmi Pikler at Loczy. This learning has deeply supported our understanding of the importance of engaging in respectful care practices with children. Another teacher bought a focus back to planning for each child after her professional development with the University of Auckland’s amazing Paula Orsmby. I used the knowledge she gained from a workshop on developmental disorders with Dr Francis Steinberg to support a child’s referral to GSE. Teacher N attended a workshop on art development with children to support art practice with toddlers and older children. Two of us (me included) attended the rather fabulous Childspace Nature in Nurture Conference in November 2012 and are still digesting the learning from all the workshops attended there. The All Staff PD day in November was with the amazing Stu Guyton and his ‘Wild Circus’ (from Infantastic), he reminded us to find the joy in our days, especially with our very youngest children.

We have used secondment of staff from the Infant and Toddler area to benefit transitioning children, and ensure children always feel they have familiar people to care for and nurture them. Different teachers bring their strengths, M’s focus on calm welcoming and T’s supportive discussions around the different lenses teachers use to assess children’s learning benefited the teaching and learning practices in our toddler room. S finds the different environment enriching and an opportunity to be creative and innovative with her strengths in art and presentation. The feedback from children and parents at having a familiar face with their transitioning child is very positive. Feedback on our portfolios as children moved on is that the variety of voices in them contributes well to growing a broad-spectrum picture of the child. Overall, the seconded staff found it was an enjoyable experience; although some feedback is that they did not feel long rotations are necessary to transition children and gain a full appreciation of how our room functions.

During 2012, we had M a student from New Zealand Tertiary College working with us occasionally; I am her Associate Teacher. M is in demand as a reliever so relieving work covers her weekly hours, rather than volunteering work with us. M had her in-house practicum with us in July.

The teacher-initiated activities are wide and varied, each month they include:
a parent evening with the Brainwave Trust, the Children’s Day Picnic, whānau afternoon tea, Easter, Healthy Heart Award presentation, Mother’s and Father’s Day card making, Physical Activity for Healthy Heart, juicing vegetables, Chinese New Year celebrations, NZ Book Month, St Patricks Day, Guide Dog Day biscuit baking, Anzac Day, NZ Music Month, Guy Fawkes, Matariki Celebration, Tui Garden Challenge, staff Birthday parties, Halloween dress up day, Pyjama day, Diwali celebrations, Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Eid shared afternoon tea, Christmas and cleaning!

The golden threads of child interest that have continued throughout the year have been based around the family corner, transporting, trajectory, sensory play (including transforming and paint), and music and dance. A specific interest in dinosaurs generated by child J has continued all year. The interests that have surfaced and dropped away relate to popular culture (Angelina Ballerina, Ben10 and Spider Man), and the focus specifically on smoke alarms and helicopters
We have visitors from Group Special Education and Occupational Therapists from Starship to support our practice with child S and child V. Referrals completed for GSE are for three children for speech therapy.
Reflections each month have resulted in the strategic purchase of safety mats, new books and large wooden toy trucks. The echo in our room is soaked up with a new bright and large mat. The Tui Garden Challenge – with tremendous support from our retired cook Gaynor – has provided a beautiful garden and wildspace for our children to explore.

Our self-review of toileting and puzzle areas have led to changes in practice and environment.

The final issue demanding the most attention toward the end of 2012 is the quality of our portfolio documentation, ways we can improve it and how we can enable documentation to be more current.
For the last week of 2012, and the first week of 2013 we share our room with the infant and toddler centre while they have renovations to their centre. Sharing this space with the infant centre is both gratifying and frightening.

Possible starting points for discussion in 2013:
• Planning for transitioning children to the preschool area, and from the Infant centre, planning for transitions as a meaningful part of the curriculum, they promote children’s learning, set a positive tone, and help everyone move seamlessly through the day.
• We are also more conscious of the ‘quiet’ and ‘good’ child that may get missed in the hurley-burley of a busy childcare day, a closer focus on the quieter ones

Looking forward to 2013

I always have a notebook handy in my back pocket, it helps me to document the moments in time I pause on and give value to.

The Story's Story

“Despite being a denizen of the digital world, or maybe because he knew too well its isolating potential, Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-face meetings.” That’s from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. It’s a strange way to begin a post about notebooks, but Jobs’ views on the power of a potentially anachronistic practice applies to other seemingly anachronistic practices. I’m a believer in notebooks, though I’m hardly a luddite and use a computer too much.

The notebook has an immediate tactile advantage over phones: they aren’t connected to the Internet. It’s intimate in a way computers aren’t. A notebook has never interrupted me with a screen that says, “Wuz up?” Notebooks are easy to use without thinking. I know where I have everything I’ve written on-the-go over the last eight years: in the same stack. It’s easy to draw on paper. I don’t have to manage files…

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