Please Vote "Yes" on 1A This November

A special message from Bobbie Watson, Executive Director, The Early Childhood Council of Boulder County:

yes1a.jpg

The County Commissioners have put a ballot measure on this fall called Worthy Cause IV, an extension of a 0.05% countywide sales and use tax which was first passed by Boulder County voters in 2000. These funds are used to provide non-profit safety net providers with funds for ‘bricks and mortar’-that is to either buy new buildings and/or expand/renovate existing buildings. I know that many of you are aware of programs who have benefited from these funds including: 

  • The OUR Center
  • The Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center
  • The Homeless Shelter
  • The Wild Plum Center in Longmont
  • Clinic Campesina
  • The Boulder Safehouse
  • EFAA, and many others.  

There con tinues to be increasing demands on all of our safety net providers. You may recall the Neighbors Helping Neighbors campaign in 2014 which passed with broad approval. Those funds go to support safety net program costs like salaries, program materials, etc. But our non-profit partners also need have up-to-date facilities in which to provide their programs.

That is why I am urging you to support Worthy Cause IV. The Early Childhood Council of Boulder County Board has endorsed this ballot measure. This extension would go until Dec 31, 2033, and revenues would be used in the following manner:

I urge you to continue to support your neighbors in Boulder County. Please vote YES on ballot measure 1A.
 

 
bobbie watson.png
 

Switching Hats: Teacher to Parent

By Amanda Brunning, TLC Preschool Teacher & Parent

 TLC Infant Lead Teacher Debbie Van Thuyne with a friend

TLC Infant Lead Teacher Debbie Van Thuyne with a friend

I have been working with and teaching children with special needs and their families for the past eight years. I have been through many emotional roller coasters with parents and have been a part of many conversations where parents just needed to vent and I was happy to listen. I tried to be as much help as I could, but before becoming a parent myself, my view was limited and I couldn't say that I knew what it was like to parent a child with a disability full time.

Teachers in early childhood have kids from four to eight hours a day before they go home and we're off duty. We work with the children in a controlled setting and on a consistent schedule. We have extensive training and on-hand tools that we can draw from and utilize when a child is having a hard time. Life outside the classroom - with families, in public places - is very different and far more unpredictable than classroom life. As a teacher, I have preparation and immediate assistance for handling trying situations and behavior on top of my primary job of helping teach children educational skills and positive social behaviors,  but when a person becomes a parent, there's very little preparation for the next 18+ years of caring for and raising children of any ability. Children don't come with handbooks, and parents have to learn as they go.
 
My husband and I had been going through the adoption process for several years, and nine months ago we were matched and placed with a 7-month-old little boy with Down syndrome. I would love to say - with all of my experience and degree in early childhood and special education - that I was prepared. In truth, I did not feel prepared at all. I knew that this beautiful little boy would need pediatric therapies and that TLC would be the perfect away-from-home-home for him when I went back to work, and that the therapists would work with him both at our house and in the TLC infant nursery, and that was a huge relief when I felt overwhelmed. I was so thankful for all the help from my co-workers in getting his therapies and early interventions in place and for helping the process of transitioning our son into our home go as smoothly as possible.

After he arrived, every day was a new experience and a new visit to a new doctor. In the first few months of having our little boy we saw so many different doctors and with each doctor we felt overwhelmed at what this new doctor could say or what that visit could bring. His therapist became my go-to when I was unsure what advice to take, what direction to go, or when I was trying to figure out if something going on with him was normal for his diagnosis, or when I needed guidance on what I needed to do to help him grow and develop. His infant teacher at TLC is my other go-to when I have a parenting/infant question, and I no doubt ask her a million questions a day. Debbie (the TLC infant teacher) has also listened to me vent about everything from difficulties getting him to sleep to doctors appointments that we came away with no answers or nerves about surgery. These people have become part of our support system and we are so thankful for them. In stepping into the role of parent of a child with special needs, I'm finally getting to walk in the shoes of the parents of kiddos I've worked with throughout the years, and I feel even more connected to them and struggles that come with parenting young children.
 
Switching hats to the parent roll has opened my eyes to so much of what families with children with special needs can be going through. I hope that my new roll as this beautiful little boy's mommy can help me grow as a teacher and better support the children and families better that come into my classroom.

Through all the struggles, the late nights, spit ups, and parade of questions, I wouldn't change a thing, and I'm so grateful to my TLC support group.
 

Tips for Feeding a Picky Eater

IMG_0751.JPG

Children can be tougher critics than Michelin inspectors at meal time, making it difficult to figure out how to get necessary nutrients off their plates and into their tummies. Chronic pickiness becomes even more concerning when worrying whether your child is a typical picky eater or has a selective eating disorder. Some signs to look for to help determine if your child is more than just a picky eater include:

  • A restricted range of foods willingly eaten (usually less than 20).
  • Crying when presented with new foods as opposed to simply pushing the food around or away.
  • Refusing groups of foods with similar characteristics (no soft textures, no vegetables, etc.)
  • Never eating with the family and/or always having a separate meal.

If you suspect your child’s picky eating goes beyond what’s healthy for a varied, balanced diet, and your child isn’t showing signs of growing out of their pickiness, a pediatric therapist can help. Therapists, like those at TLC, can help children learn to tolerate new textures and tastes in food, help decrease a child’s anxiety at mealtime, address physical hindrances to eating safely, and more.

Wherever your child lands on the spectrum of pickiness, here are a few tips to help your child better enjoy mealtime, embark on new food adventures, and ingest more nutrition from a wider variety of foods:

  • Keep meals and snacks on a schedule. Kids will be more likely to try new foods if they’re hungry and know the mealtime routine. Set daily times for three meals and two snacks, so your child will learn to anticipate when food is coming, and how long they’ll have to wait if they choose not to eat what’s on their plate.
     
  • Let children feed themselves. Children like the independence of being able to feed themselves, and can better self-monitor their portion sizes and when they’re full. If there are multiple offerings on the plate, the child can also have the power to choose what items on the plate they wish to eat.
     
  • Wait. This one may be the hardest on the list. If you push the child to eat, they’ll resist. If you make a show trying to encourage the child to eat, they’ll not eat to keep the show going. If you applaud and reward when they do eat, they’ll learn that delaying eating merits praise. So the best thing to do? Set the food down, and wait for the child to show interest (or not) on their own.
     
  • Don’t allow old standbys to be an equal option to new foods. When plating, add a mix of new and favorite foods (while keeping a balance of protein, veggies, fruits, and high-fiber starches in each meal), while keeping the serving size of an old favorite small enough that won’t be enough to fill up on and ignore the new food. The more new foods you introduce to your child early on, the less picky they’re likely to be when they’re older, so keep those new foods in rotation.
     
  • Put dinosaurs on the table. Or a book. Or a small toy. My daughter likes to alternate between eating her food and dancing rubber dinosaurs across the table. This helps keep her happy when she wants to take a break from eating. She’s also been known to use the dinosaur’s tail to stab the food like a fork.
     
  • Let kids be involved. Whether it’s standing at the counter with you and “cutting” up a banana while you cook or letting them choose from two options what they’d like to eat, having a child involved in the meal selection and preparation process increases their investment in mealtime, and thus their engagement.
     
  • Tell a story before or along with the meal about the meal. Children are wired for stories, and incorporating the meal prep process, the eating process, and how the food nourishes the body into a story can help get kids excited to eat their food.
     
  • Make meal time play time. Let a child touch, poke, smash, and explore new foods. Helping a child get used to new foods is the first step towards taking a bite. Encourage play by letting children roll peas across a table, build with carrot sticks, mold rice into shapes, make faces on their plate, and more. Help your child associate meals with joy.
     
  • Let your child determine when they’re finished. Even if you don’t think your child has had enough to eat, respect their communication of “finished,” whether its verbal, a head shake, sign language, or another signal.
     
  • Feed each other. Allow your child to give you a bite of food (or three), then see if they’ll let you give them one.
     
  • Sneak the vegetables in from time to time. My toddler never turns down a banana zucchini muffin.
     
  • Start early, be patient, and model healthy eating habits. It takes repeated exposure to some new foods for a child to begin to tolerate, and even like, that food. Present new foods often as soon as your child is eating solids, be patient if they refuse to try the food and don’t force them to eat it, and model eating it for them (with gusto).

It may try your patience, but for the typical picky eater, repeated exposure and working to make meal time enjoyable will pay off as a child grows and their palate expands. If your child continues to insist on an extremely limited diet, demonstrates continued extreme resistance toward new foods, isn’t getting the proper nutrition or is failing to gain adequate weight, it may be time to get some help. Talk to your pediatrician and schedule a consultation with a pediatric therapist.

Here’s wishing many licked-clean plates in your child’s future!
 

The Benefits of Tummy Time for Infants

importance of tummy time

By Amanda Boldenow, TLC Development Manager & Parent

A few minutes in tummy time for infants is the equivalent of a few hours sweating it out at the gym for an adult. While on their tummies, babies work hard to lift their head, look left and right, and lift their feet, all movements that help prepare them for holding their head up, rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. With ample tummy time, an infant approaching twelve months should have a rounded head, S curves in the neck and low back, and flexible legs that help move the tot in and out of sitting positions. When a child spends too much time on his or her back (usually in cribs, bouncy seats, swings, or car seats) they risk developing positional plagiocephaly (flattening on the back of the skull), a C curve in the spine that may prevent transitioning to hands and knees to crawl, and tight hips and legs that prevent straightening the knees. Internally, too much time on a baby's back puts excessive pressure on the spine and vision centers of the brain, both of which can be detrimental to development.

TLC's Therapeutic Services Manager, Occupational Therapist Shari Karmen, says:

Tummy time is important for eye-hand coordination, and is a prerequisite for crawling. In the therapy world we are seeing kids with misshapen heads and part of that is because they are put on their back so much. Tummy time is important for shaping the head. The other thing we’re seeing is that babies who don’t spend time on their tummies have difficulty rolling. It takes a lot more work to correct the development delays that happen without tummy time, than to put your child in tummy time for a few minutes a day. There’s a natural progression for infant development, and skipping tummy time and crawling can lead to fine-motor problems and disabilities down the line. For these reasons and more, tummy time is critical for infant development.

Unfortunately, many infants are not fans of tummy time, (the same way I'm not a fan of crunches or push-ups, although adult social stigmas prevents me from crying and screaming while doing them... usually). When a kiddo doesn't like being on their tummy, they won't hesitate to let you know. Regardless, parents and guardians should persevere in tummy time for healthy development.

The good news is that there are a variety of ways to practice tummy time besides laying baby on the floor. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting tummy time as soon as baby is home from the hospital. Sessions can be as short as 30 seconds to one minute in the beginning. By the time baby is two months old, try to have increased tummy time sessions to a minimum of three five-minute sessions per day. Fifteen minutes of tummy time per day is a good rule of thumb as babies age past two months, but try to encourage longer playtime and enjoyment while baby is on their tummy through play and engagement, working up to 40 to 60 minutes of tummy time daily.

How to Have Tummy Time With Your Infant

Place a clean blanket, baby gym, or mat on the floor and place baby on his tummy. Some baby gyms come with small, crescent shaped pillows to place under baby's chest and elbows to help prop them up, but the same effect can be achieved with a small, rolled towel used a bolster, although this isn't always necessary.

To make tummy time fun, place toys that engage your baby on the floor. Shake rattles, crinkle sensory toys, or roll rainsticks across the floor to encourage baby to reach, grasp, and roll toward the objects. "You can also place a regular closet mirror on its side on the floor for babies to see their reflection while on their tummy," Shari says. 

Each stretch, roll, lift, and scoot helps baby develop muscles needed for movement and head stability. To make tummy time safe, always supervise an infant on their tummy, make sure their breathing passages are unobstructed by pillows or blankets, and make sure they are not on a high surface they could roll off of.

Different Tummy Time Positions to Try

  1. Tummy to floor: the traditional tummy time placement, where baby is on his or her tummy on a flat, safe surface.
  2. Tummy cuddle: place baby on your chest or tummy while laying down on a bed or couch. Be sure to hold baby by firmly.
  3. Reverse football hold: you may be familiar with the football hold from breast or bottle feeding. In the reverse, have baby's tummy down against your arm and nestle them close to your body. 
  4. Tummy lap time: Place baby face down across your knees while sitting, with a hand holding baby steady. 

Does your baby like or dislike tummy time? What do you do to help make tummy time fun and beneficial for your baby?
 

The Listening Program

By Lindsey Blechle, TLC Occupational Therapist 

Sound is all around us. We are constantly processing auditory input from our environment. As I type this I can hear cars driving down my street, a train in the distance, the wind coming in my window, my computer humming, birds chirping, and an occasional alert on my phone. It’s a lot to take in as I try to focus on this one task. 

The act of hearing is passive; it is simply the ability to sense sound. The act of listening is active; it is the ability to take in and filter out sound. Auditory processing is dynamic; it is how the brain organizes what it hears. Children with sensory processing challenges often struggle with all three forms of auditory input. The act of hearing may be overwhelming when the sensory system perceives sounds as being too loud. The act of listening to directions in a classroom may be challenging when classmates are talking, pens are clicking or the hallway is noisy. For children that are struggling with the act of hearing and listening, processing auditory information correctly at a higher level adds a whole new challenge. I became a certified provider of The Listening Program because of the positive effect I saw the program make in pediatric patients with auditory sensitivities. 

The Listening Program by Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT) is a therapeutic music program focused on improving sound brain fitness. The music is performed by ABT’s own award-winning Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble. The music then undergoes neuroacoustic modifications to provide the sound contrast needed to train and improve sound perception.  These modifications improve discrimination, reduce sensitivities and direct attention. 

The Listening Program modification techniques work with the brain’s plasticity to improve overall function and shows benefits in the following areas:

Perception                        Attention                              Memory
Motor coordination         Language                            Listening
Auditory processing       Spatial awareness             Flexibility
Problem solving               Decision making               Self-regulation
Sensory processing        Sequencing                         Inhibition
Social engagement        Creativity                             Brain health 

 

The Listening Program includes many therapeutic programs to target specific areas of intervention:

  • Level One – balanced training adaptable for all listeners that focuses on all frequency zones (full spectrum, sensory integration, speech and language and high spectrum). This is the best program for children with sound sensitivities and the most recommended for TLC Learning Center’s pediatric population. 
  • Sleep – sound neuroscience for a restful night’s sleep 
  • Sound Health – Music of Learning, Music for Concentration, Music to Relax, etc. 
  • This music can be played over speakers and throughout all environments
  • Music for Babies – Sleepy Baby, Peaceful Baby, Playful Baby and Cheerful Baby
  • Spectrum – foundational training with a focus in the sensory integration frequency zone, for the extreme sensory sensitive listener. 
  • Achieve – intermediate to experienced training with a focus in the speech and language frequency zone. 

The Listening Program is now available at TLC Learning Center as another therapeutic tool for our pediatric clients. 

Music is a therapy. It is a communication far more powerful than words, far more immediate, far more efficient.
— Yehudi Menuhin

For more information visit The Listening Program, or contact TLC for information on occupational therapy and The Listening Program. 

Teaching Handwriting in the Digital Age: Is it Worth it?

by Christy Griffith, TLC Occupational Therapist

In the age of technology with kids texting, clicking, and typing on a computer from a young age, do we really need to continue focusing on teaching good handwriting?  Many schools have decreased their focus on teaching this skill, and many no longer teach cursive letters at all. However, current research shows that handwriting is still a crucial skill and offers great advantages to those children who do practice and master both printing and cursive writing.

Here are some of the top reasons to make sure your child learns to write properly by hand:

It improves their brains. Research has shown that children  who have formal handwriting training learn their letters faster,  have improved language fluency, and  their acquired knowledge becomes more stable. Handwriting training also helps coordinate the right and left sides of the brain, stimulates intelligence, and builds pathways in the brain that improve mental effectiveness. Handwriting engages different brain circuits than keyboarding does. Children who received structured handwriting instruction and practice regularly had brain scans that looked more similar to an adult’s than their peers who did not participate in handwriting instruction.

  • Cursive handwriting is faster. Studies show that cursive handwriting is faster than printing or keyboarding, so allows children to write better. Research has shown that elementary students tend to write more complete sentences, give longer answers, and complete their work more quickly when they use cursive writing. High school and college students can take notes during class lectures faster as well.
     
  • It improves the memory and understanding of content. Just the physical act of writing something down, whether it is a list, a sticky note to ourselves, or notes in class, improves our ability to remember what we wrote down.  And when our handwriting is efficient and effortless, we can focus more on the content of what we are writing rather than the physical act of forming the letters. This comes with lots of practice, which is not always provided in school to the necessary levels.
     
  • Some things still require handwriting, like taking notes in some classes, exams such as SAT still have essay portions that are completed by hand, some college professors and teachers still require handwritten assignments, tasks such as writing checks, medical prescriptions, quick lists or reminder notes, etc. are usually still completed by hand. Legibility is very important for these types of tasks.  Students score higher grades and test scores when teachers can easily read their handwriting.  

At TLC, our preschool classrooms offer age appropriate pre-writing activities in fun, multisensory ways to introduce letters, drawing and writing to children. Our teachers utilize the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum as well.  On-site occupational therapists help children learn to write both print and cursive, and improve handwriting delays in children ages 5-12. 

How to Help the Pickiest Eaters

By Shari Karmen, Occupational Therapist and TLC Therapeutic Services Manager

Oh the picky eater! Some kids are super picky, some are “normally” picky, and some are selective or problem feeders.

Normal picky eating typically begins between 18 months and three years and is usually over by six years old. These kids will have food jags where they want to eat PBJ for lunch every day. They are looking for control and typically thrive well despite their picky eating habits.  Some kids are more picky and will want PBJ for lunch every day, and then will switch it to grilled cheese, but with an occasional PBJ thrown in.  Selective or problem feeders will want a PBJ, but it must have a certain type of bread, peanut butter, and jelly. Then they will decide they no longer want it. The difference is they will not add a new food to the repertoire, but instead will limit what foods they will eat even further.

Picky eating can be stressful for a parent who worries about their child's nutritional intake and teaching them to eat and try a varied diet. There is help for the parents of picky eaters, though. Below are a few ideas you can try at home.

Ten Ideas for Feeding Your Picky Eater:

1.    Involve your child in meal planning and preparation. This includes making a shopping list together, going to the store together, wearing an apron to help prepare food, and then letting your child help in preparing the food. The child's task can be as simple as tearing lettuce for a salad, as long as they are involved with the process.

2.    Use fun props and place settings for mealtimes such as colorful cups, fun placemats, and curly straws. Give you child choices and control in what utensils they use (the color of their plate, etc.)

3.    Keep a mealtime routine. Have meals at the same time every day. Create routines within the meal such as washing hands, setting the table, and then clearing food away after the meal.

4.    Eat with your child. Mealtimes are social so talk at the table, but not about what your child is not eating! For tips on engaging your child in conversation, see some of our previous posts on speech and language activities for kids.

5.    Use the timer on your phone so that your child knows how long the meal will last. Have an alert go off 2-5 minutes before the 20-30 minutes dedicated to mealtime is up. This helps everyone know that there is an ending to the meal.

6.    Watch mealtime language. Don’t bombard your child with questions or constantly say “take a bite”. Talk about the color of the food, how you can hear him crunching, and the texture of the food. Read some of our tips on using responsive language with kids.

7.    Focus on the meal rather than the TV, smart phones, and other electronic devices. You can have music playing, but keep the TV and toys away from mealtime.

8.    Reward your child for positive behavior outside of the mealtime with non-food items. Feeding can be very emotional, and linking food with a system of rewards can have a negative outcome for some kids.

9.    Only put a small amount of food on your child’s plate. Sometimes seeing three servings of three different foods can be overwhelming. 

10.    Encourage your child to try new foods. If he can tolerate the food on his plate without eating it, that’s success. Slowly up the ante by having your child touch, lick, and/or kiss the food. Eventually he will take a bite. Remember it takes 20 tries before a child likes a food.

If you feel like there are other factors impeding your child’s ability to eat, seek help from an Occupational Therapist or Registered Dietitian. An Occupational Therapist addresses motor skills, sensory components of eating, how to use your muscles in your mouth from feeding, and much more to help children move away from the habits of selective or problem feeding. 

 

Responsive Language

By Amy Kuessel, TLC Teaching Assistant

Responsive language is a way of speaking with children that uses reason and logic, encourages independence, uses nurturing control, and encourages elaboration. Responsive language helps children develop oral language skills, self-expression, and social-emotional skills related to peer and adult interactions. The opposite of responsive language is restrictive language. Restrictive language asserts power, discourages independence, is controlling, and has a lecturing tone. 

It seems natural to ask children questions to elicit responses, but research shows that asking pointed questions can raise the anxiety of a child and thus limit the complexity of a child's language and response. Questions can be restrictive when a child worries about giving an adult the "right" answer, or about selecting his or her words to stay in the parameters of the question. Responsive language creates opportunities for children to speak freely, using an expanded vocabulary and independent thought. Some suggestions for using responsive language when conversing with a child include:

1) Repeat: Repeating what the child said opens up the conversation and lets them know they are heard, and that the adult is receptive to the child elaborating on his or her statement.

2) Expand: Repeat what the child said and expand on it in your response. This helps guide the child's thoughts down new paths, keeping the conversation open and moving.

3) Self-talk: Use self-talk to teach children how to connect actions with language. In self-talk, a parent or guardian narrates what they are thinking and feeling. For example, "I like strawberries on my cereal," "I am slicing carrots for your lunch."

4) Parallel talk: In parallel talk, the parent or caregiver repeats what the child may be doing, feeling, and thinking to help the child connect language with their actions and feelings. Parallel talk almost always starts with "you," for example, "You are playing with your blocks," or "You are chewing your spaghetti."

5) Modeling: Modeling is another way to maintain a conversation with a child, but this time without using the child's words. This type of responsive language helps a child learn new ways to say things, while guiding them to elaborate on a topic or thought.

Strategies that support children's learning and give and take in conversation help children develop language skills, independent thought, and social-emotional skills. Responsive language is a great and easy strategy to give kids a head start in the development of these positive skills!

Positive Feedback: Making Deposits in Everyone's "Bank"

by Kathy Keith, TLC Occupational Therapist

Pyramid Plus is a positive behavior development program and a philosophy we embrace at TLC.  Pyramid Plus promotes social-emotional literacy and development in children through teachings and tools that help caregivers recognize and identify a child's feelings, and help children recognize and assess their own feelings. Pyramid Plus also helps caregivers identify challenges during interactions with a child, and then identify solutions for these challenges that the child helps facilitate and implement. Oftentimes at TLC, I watch kids ages 3, 4, and 5 identifying challenges and implementing solutions in a way some adults I come into contact with can not. One former preschooler, Alistair, told his preschool teacher, "I have a solution kit in my mind!" These are the kinds of tools Pyramid Plus gives children to be compassionate problem solvers.

My training in this program has provided me with many “A-ha” moments, and has benefited me both within my therapy practice and at home with my own kids. One thing that has impacted me significantly seems so simple now: the idea of “deposits” and “withdrawals.”  According to Pyramid Plus (and common sense, if I think about it), children need 5 "deposits," or positive comments/interactions with adults, for every "withdrawal." So every time we tell kiddos “don’t,” “stop,” ask questions that require a specific answer (example: “what color is that?”), use a loud voice, make demands, or tell them “no," we are taking withdrawals from their “bank.”  

When a withdrawal is made, we need to deposit 5 positive things (compliments, words of appreciation, non-verbal and verbal praise, active listening) in order to balance the child's "bank."  It is important that these deposits are very specific. “Good job” is positive, but too general.  A general phrase like "good job" could be replaced with:

•    “I like the way you…”
•    “You must be proud of yourself for…”
•    “Tell me what you like best about your creation”
•    “WOW! What a fabulous job you have done of…”
•    “Excellent idea for…”
•    “Give me an EXTRA HUGE high five for…”

Staff here at TLC are working on putting into practice what we preach.  We have a “Positive Piggy” board hanging in the hallway where we can write and display the words of thanks and appreciation that we have for our co-workers and friends.  It has been a fun opportunity to honor the staff for all the work they do everyday.  When you think about it, we could ALL probably use a few more positive deposits, and it's so easy to fill someone's "bank," whether they are a child or a grown-up.

Resources for Parents Looking for Early Education & Childcare

By Cindy Wickham, TLC Educational Services Manager, and Shari Karmen, TLC Therapeutic Services Manager

Choosing a high quality child care program is one of the most important decisions parents will make:

  • 90% of a child’s brain develops between birth and five years of age.
     
  • Education begins at birth.  An infant is born with approximately 100 billion brain cells.  If an infant is immersed in an environment that is stimulating, nurturing, and responsive to the baby’s needs, the child’s brain will more closely resemble his pediatrician’s than a newborn’s by the age of three!

Quality care means more than a safe place to sleep:

  • A focus on relationships, including nurturing touch, is essential for a child’s physical development, intellectual development, positive self feelings, developing trust, and developing independence.
     
  • Bonding (attachment to a caregiver) is essential by the age of two years.  Trust cannot develop without bonding, and children who don’t bond by the age of two years, show permanent impairment in their capacity to make human attachments later in life.
     
  • When touring a child care center, ask yourself: How does it “feel”?  Warm and friendly?  Do the children look happy? Do the adults seem open to your visitation? Do the adults look happy? Does the environment appear to be clean and sanitary? Ask to see the child care license as well as the accreditation certificate.

 A child’s future success and the choices for care made now are deeply intertwined:

  • High quality preschool programs can boost language and literacy skills.
     
  • School achievement in the 6th grade directly correlates to a child’s development between 12 and 42 months of age, and an enriched environment ensures 25% more brain connections!
     
  • Research shows us that learning to read is a lengthy process that begins before children enter formal schooling.

Indicators of high quality childcare centers:

  • Licensed by the Department of Human Services.
     
  • Accredited by Qualistar or NAEYC with a high rating (4 stars for Qualistar).
     
  • Highly qualified teachers and staff (degrees in early childhood education).
     
  • Low adult-to-child ratio (more nurturing adults to meet the needs of each child).
     
  • Teachers and staff who engage in conversation with children, helping to develop language and vocabulary.
     
  • A variety of experiences available to children (opportunities to explore, safe outdoor space, fine and gross motor development experiences, etc).
     
  • A center that gives you, the parent, a sense of warmth, security, and a nurturing environment.

If you have questions about indicators of a quality early childhood education center, TLC staff is happy to answer questions. Comment here, email Cindy Wickham at CWickham@LearningWithTLC.org, or call us at (303)776-7417