Daycare to Preschool is it Time? Is it Necessary?

Posted by: on Aug 12, 2013 in Blog | 55 Comments
Daycare to Preschool is it Time? Is it Necessary?

childSo, you’re wondering if it’s time to move from day care to preschool.  Is there a difference? Here are a few factors to consider:

What does your week look like?

Daycare programs run Monday through Friday. Daycare programs are also available year round. Preschool programs are typically two or three days a week, and run similarly to the local public school calendar. How does that work with your schedule?

How much time do you have?

Daycare programs are full day. There is a licensing cap of 10 hours in Michigan.

The preschool day lasts around three hours depending on the program. Some are moving to all day, much the same as Kindergarten programs that are adjusting their half day to full day schedule.

Keep in mind that a typical school day, even a full day program is around 6 hours. Check to see if your preschool has before and/or after school programs/care available.

Questions about Curriculum?

Are you thinking that your child needs to get ready for the academics and structure of kindergarten?

Curriculum means what is taught to the children. No matter where you place your child, he/she is being taught something, intentionally or unintentionally.

Do not assume that a daycare is without a quality curriculum.

Do not assume that being in a preschool guarantees your child will receive a quality curriculum.

In the state of Michigan the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) requires daycare facilities to implement an approved curriculum in order to receive its highest rating. While the QRIS is only beginning to roll out, centers are becoming more intentional about what goes on during the day for the children they care for. Your day care may be providing the academic and structural practices you are looking for without the added cost.

Program Focus

Is your child a budding environmentalist? An artist? Is your child too busy running around, jumping on the furniture and yelling “Diaper head, diaper head” for you to tell what they are interested in?

Look around. There may be a program that exactly fits the bill for your child.

Some programs (both day care and preschool) are becoming much more focused in how they deliver their curriculum, while others remain more general. Think environmentalist degree versus liberal arts degree.  You may want to encourage your child’s particular interest. You may prefer your child be exposed to a wide variety of experiences, rather than a specialty program. Depending on where you live you may have several options to choose from.

If there is a state approved curriculum in place, your child will learn the same skills in both types of programs. The difference will be in the how, not the what. A broad based center may work on one to one correspondence by counting marbles, stars and balls. An environmentalist center might have the children counting rocks and birds and pinecones.

The choice is yours.

How has your search been going? What type of program would you like to find for your 2, 3 or 4 year old?


Posted by: on Aug 9, 2013 in Blog | 14 Comments

transitionsTransitions happen every day. Some go by without any conscious notice.

On the other hand there are transitions that are so big that if we can put them off, we do, and if we can’t we make ourselves miserable by reminding ourselves how terrible they are.

We’re coming up to the annual transition from summer vacation back to school. Yes, I know that it seems we just celebrated the 4th of July, but I’m giving you a heads up so you can adjust to the idea slowly (refer to tip #1).

People handle transitions in a variety of ways. If it turns out that your child handles them differently than you do, take a deep breath and prepare yourself for some interesting times.

Here are three tried and true transition techniques to help get your little one from here to there;

  • Time cues- Let your child know that in 10 minutes it will be time to clean up, get their jacket or turn off the television. Whatever you need them to do to get ready for the next thing.  Then remind them a couple of times more, 5 more minutes, 3 more minutes, etc. If this sounds annoying, simply set a timer and let them know that when the timer rings they need to (fill in the blank). This takes the pressure off you and puts it on the timer.


  • Give choices- When you need them to get a move on, sometimes a choice will keep them from resistance. “Do you want to hop to the car like a rabbit or stomp to the car like a dinosaur?” Make sure that either choice is acceptable to you. This will even work if you start to get resistance with the timer I just mentioned. “Do you want me to set the timer for 5 minutes or 7 minutes?”


  • Ritual- Children love routine. If getting ready for bed looks and feels the same every night, it sets their body up for rest. This works especially well if the first step is one they really like. Maybe they love their toothbrush (it may have a picture of a favorite character or maybe it lights up), or maybe they are in charge of picking out the two stories you will read to them (make it a choice of two out of 5 or 6 so they won’t spend half an hour pouring over their bookshelf). Once the routine gets underway they will be able to tell you what they are going to do next.

What are your family favorite tips for helping your child with transitions?


Rough Play at Home, but at Daycare?

Posted by: on Aug 5, 2013 in Blog | 106 Comments
Rough Play at Home, but at Daycare?

Full Contact Child

Does your child tell stories of tag, football and Super Heroes vs Monsters with a smile on his/her face and a bruise on his/her cheek?

Does your child count the number of scratches and scabs with the same enthusiasm others would count their new temporary tattoos?

You may be raising a full contact child.

Big Lovin’

When I started working in the young toddler room, I had the pleasure of working with a girl I’ll call Ella. Actually I called her “Big Lovin’”. She would throw herself at people of all ages to express her affection, or in an effort to engage someone in play. Ella was very aware of her love for others, not so aware of her “impact” on others. We had to monitor her closely around the smaller children.  Ella’s family moved so I don’t see her anymore but I do remember her fondly and often wonder how my “Big Lovin’” is doing.

When Fun Hurts

Some children seem to be hard wired for playing with their whole bodies. Touch tag just doesn’t feel as satisfying as tackle tag. The intention is not malicious, just very physical.

Now I’m not saying that we should give our kids rocks and tree branches and shout, “survival of the fittest”, but for some children I believe there is room for allowing a bit of rough and tumble play while keeping band aids and ice packs handy.

Full Contact Daycare?

That leads me to the notion of rough play at your child’s daycare facility. Is there a written policy? Is there an unspoken expectation that you or your center has when it comes to rough play?

Typically your daycare is going to discourage rough play. That can be tricky for full contact children. It may feel as if their play is constantly being interrupted by reminders like:  “Keep your hands to yourself”, “Gently, gently” and “Get up off my friend, you’re hurting them.”

 Considerations for full contact children

  1. Give them the opportunity to be themselves for at least part of the day. Daycare may not be that place. Let there be some space where they can let down their hair! Keep the ice packs handy.
  2. Let them know what the expectations and limits are when they go places. This needs to be reviewed often.  There is a time and place for everything.
  3. Support the rules where they play/spend their day. Working together makes it easier on your child.

Do you have a full contact child? How do you help him/her adjust to minimal contact settings?


Water, Art and Mosquitos

Posted by: on Aug 2, 2013 in Blog | 67 Comments
Water, Art and Mosquitos


Children love to play with water. All forms, any amount.

This is handy information because water can be dangerous in large amounts.

Here are a few inexpensive ideas for outdoor water art experiences:

  • Paint-sicles– Fill an ice cube tray, or small paper cups with water. Use food coloring or water color paints to create as many different colors as you would like. Freeze the colored water. You may want to add craft stick handles by covering the cups with plastic wrap and pushing the sticks through the wrap and into the water.

When the “paints” are frozen, take them outside to paint paper, sidewalks, or whatever else strikes your fancy. The colors will be pale enough that staining shouldn’t be a big problem.

This is a great activity to put together the night before. That way the kids go off to bed and won’t be asking, “Is it ready yet?”

  • Invisible paint– No muss, no fuss, lots of fun. Simply fill a container with water and provide a variety of brushes. Use old marinade or pastry brushes, tooth brushes, house painting brushes and sponges. An old roller brush would be great. Check out garage sales for some really interesting brush ideas.

Remember that these are now outdoor art brushes and will never be fit for any other use. The children will explore and experiment with the brushes. This means they will become filled with dirt, leaf parts, grass and more.

Keep all of these painting tools in a bucket or storage container and you have a great activity at your fingertips all summer long.

  • “Spray” paint– You can add a bit of color or not, the choice is yours. You have to know that this project out of the three is going to get on more people than paper. Simply fill up the spray bottles and turn them loose. Show the children how to twist the small nozzle to change how the water comes out. The focused spray is great for making lines. The misting spray covers a wider area all at once.

Here’s where the mosquitoes come in to the picture. If you add a few drops of essential oils to the spray bottle, you have also created a mosquito deterrent. The some of the recommended oils for repelling mosquitoes are: peppermint, geranium and lavender. I recommend adding just enough to give the water a light scent. I believe they will go through quite a bit of this simply because it smells good and it’s fun to spray people with spray bottles.

What water art ideas do you have to share? We are always looking for more ways to have outdoor art and stay cool at the same time.