Goal #1: To establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment.
State licensing standards serve as a great guide in establishing a safe healthy learning environment. These licensing standards are there to ensure that child care environments are safe and healthy for young children. I check for tied shoes, sharp objects, corners, broken toys, hot beverages and toxic cleaning materials that may be left at a child’s reach. An environment that is safe provides children with the opportunity to explore and learn freely through play. Surveillance cameras are also installed to monitor who is either entering or exiting the building. There is also an emergency contingency plan in action.
By providing nutritious snacks that promote health, a center can help children gain an understanding and appreciation of lifelong health which is the first step to the prevention of childhood obesity. Daily menus would consist of: proteins, dairy, fruits, veggies, and healthy grains. Surfaces, table tops, and toilets are sanitized/disinfected after each use. Toys that were used during the week are cleaned, floors are swept daily, and bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper and are sanitary. Daily health check-ins are crucial to the well-being of the child and institution. Your health is your wealth is the motto I remember growing up. If good health practices are learned and applied, instructors will be great reporters and identifiers of ailments, wellness, and both child abuse and neglect.
8:00 – 9:40 CHOICE/CAFE
9:45 – 10:00 POTTY
10:15 – 10:30 MORNING CIRCLE
10:45 – 11:45 OUTSIDE/MOVEMENT
12:00 – 12:35 LUNCH/POTTY
12:40 – 2:00 NAP
2:05 – 2:20 CHOICE/POTTY
2:25 – 3:00 GOODBYE CIRCLE
The day would begin with a morning choice consisting of art, a sensory choice like play dough/sand, blocks/trains and dramatic play. Prior to transitions a “5 minute” reminder is sang and we must wash our hands because soon after cafe/breakfast will follow. Morning circle begins where we sing our “Welcome” and “Map of the Day” songs that introduce both our day and selves. Weather permitting we apply sunscreen and put on our safety yellow highlighter safety pinnies otherwise we’ll stay indoors for Movement/Dance. Upon our arrival we will wash our hands and commence eating our lunch of the day. Before we can transition to nap, we must pack up our lunch, wash our hands/mouths, and use the potty. After nap more centers open and children disperse into 2 or 3 quiet choices or movement. It is time for goodbye circle where we may read, talk, sing, and/or dance about our day.
Goal #2: To advance physical and intellectual competence.
Throughout the classroom there are centers for Dramatic Play, Math/Science, Art, and Reading. I enjoy promoting the development of children through movement and dance. Often blending educational concepts with emphasis on gross, fine and sensory motor skills. Learning is fun when you can see the word “Circle” and circle your arms, or find the shape “Circle” and hop on the circles. Also placing special emphasis on building self confidence and self esteem in young children.
Children engage in movement with coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts and movements. A young child’s physical growth first begins as muscles gain strength with use and children gradually develop coordination and the development of muscular control is the first step in this process. Participating in actions such as creeping, crawling, jumping, etc. are crucial to the physical development of a child. Can’t forget to mention trampolines, scarves, twirlers, and musical instruments. Research continues to link positive result between children that participate in the arts with academic success. Classes are taught using lesson plans which incorporate original and traditional age-appropriate music and songs. These tactics help develop gross motor skills, movement creativity, fitness, and body awareness. FitDance is a program that I have created that promotes the development of children through fitness and dance. Dance represents creative self expression through movement of the body. Children learn age appropriate dance, choreography, gymnastics, and participate in creative activities that challenge the body while enhancing physical, cognitive & social development. The classes are designed incorporating age appropriate lessons plans, which include the use of music to engage and inspire creative movement. According to “NAEYC”; “Creative dance is the perfect vehicle for enhancing the mind-body connection in young children and important part of Early Education”.
Assisting children develop their motor skills and increasing children’s understanding of basic math concepts are both important goals in early care and education settings. Educational concepts such as: counting numbers, numbers/letters of the day, rhyming etc. are intertwined with various forms of movement, dance, and gymnastics. Throughout the classroom there are centers for Dramatic Play, Math/Science, Art, and Reading. The Math/Science learning center features several manipulatives, counters, sorting and matching games, puzzles, gak/playdough, and a sand/water table, just to name a few. We even have a classroom pet fish, whom the children named and investigate with magnifying glasses everyday.
The literacy center is a favorite amongst the children. It includes an extensive library with books centered around the curriculum and community, read-along audio tapes/CD’s and a couple comfy couches. Vocabulary words that are needed for the day’s enrichment are often exaggerated and emphasized. Emotions are also an important part of development, encouraging children daily to “use their words” about feelings to both adults and one another. Not a day goes by where a friend leaves my classroom with a frown. In my classroom, we have created a feelings chart. The chart contains pictures of all my students and several emotions. At the beginning and middle of the year it is utilized to encourage children to learn how to vocalize how they are feeling. Several books about feelings are also introduced and have been added to the curriculum. Open-ended questions are imposed on the children throughout the day. Problem solving and language development are key ingredients in the classroom. A child may be asked “How would you slide from corner one, to corner two?” or “What other direction can your body turn?”. The children are also visited and engage weekly with spanish teachers, “Dos Padres”. The dramatic play center is filled with imaginative possibilities, containing costumes ranging from princesses and construction workers to ladybugs and ducks!
The possibilities for thinking creatively are endless and children love the challenge of learning to move their bodies in a variety of ways, both structured and unstructured. Sequencing a combination of movements helps to develop memory and placing your body in various shapes promotes balance and coordination, especially when asked to move from shape to shape as the music changes in tempo and mood. Having many senses excited greatly enhances learning because we all learn differently so it is important to teach to all of the senses in a variety of different ways. This eclectic approach to learning allows the children to learn and grow at their own pace. Children mimic almost everything in their early years, that is why I am a positive role model at all times.
Goal #3 To support social and emotional development and provide positive guidance
During early childhood, children start to develop a “self-concept,” the attributes, abilities, attitudes and values that they believe define them. Earlier self-concepts are based on what’s easily defined and observed. Children are given lots of encouragement and support to be whomever they believe. Whatever the identity, it is healthily supported, i.e. anyone can wear a tutu and anyone can like superheroes. In our surrounding learning environment we avoid pronouns and labels for both children and caregivers alike, referring to them as “friends” and “grownups”. I believe this approach provides a positive neutral space allowing the child room to identify oneself. Checking in with parents is also an important factor in both social and emotional development of children. Patterns at home should reflect or be similar to one’s learning environment. Books like “It’s Okay to be Different” by Todd Park are also included in the library. Our art station features both crayons and construction paper for projects such as: self portrait activities. I believe that my teaching practices are quite similar to the techniques that surrounded myself as a youth. I feel as if I encourage, give praise, and exaggerate small accomplishments a lot more, i.e. using the potty and putting on shoes. This can make children feel very independent and highly involved in their own learning experiences. I encourage parents to do the same at home.
As young children are just beginning to develop self-control, challenging behavior is common and expected. Preschoolers are expelled three times as often as K-12 students. However boys are expelled from preschool programs 4.5 times more often than girls. African American boys are twice as likely to be expelled as white and Latino children. As an educator, I find these statistics shockingly frightening. Aggressive behavior, tantrums, and noncompliance that often lead to expulsion and classroom disruption can often be redirected. Redirecting challenging behavior can be as simple as asking a child to assist you throughout the day and refocusing they’re attention elsewhere.
Statement 4: To establish positive and productive relationships with families.
Family involvement matters for young children’s cognitive and social development.
Both participation in preschool based activities and regular communication between families and teachers are related to young children’s outcomes. Some practices can include attending parent–teacher meetings, participating in visits, and helping with school activities. When welcoming the families into the classroom daily I am sure to be warm and inviting. I reassure every parent that we will have a great day. Family participation is associated with language, self-concept, social, motor, adaptive skills. Maintaining relationships with fathers is quite important. Nurturing, warm, and responsive parent–child relationships and parental participation in child centered activities relate to positive learning outcomes in early childhood. Institutions can encourage families to participate with communication via emails, notifications, and letters. At home, families are encouraged to talk, read, and ask questions about their day. Applications like Edsby and Himama have been invented to assist caregivers in daily communications with parents although There are parents who prefer face-to-face communication, morning drop off and pick ups are sometimes a great opportunity to chat. Family meetings and check-ins are a great way build relationships and get an insight on what’s going on at home.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children ,”NAEYC” is a great resource for both teachers and parents. NAEYC is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. They advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children. Some other great resources for child development are www.cdc.gov and www.childdevelopmentresources.org. INCLUDEnyc and NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services bring love, equity, and access to young people with all disabilities in New York City by providing them and their families with the resources and support they need. They provide young people with disabilities from birth to 26 and their families the knowledge, confidence, and skills they need to make informed decisions, effectively access and navigate systems and services, and the ability to advocate for themselves and other young people.
Goal #5: To ensure a well-run, purposeful program that is responsive to participant needs.
Observations provide an insight into a child’s everyday practices. They are essential in a childcare setting and serve as vital information for both the parents and caregivers alike. In our school, documentation and observation sheets are readily available in every classroom. Once an observation begins it is up to a caregiver to continue to access on a consistent basis. As caregivers, it is important for us to know our children deeply and comprehend and gain knowledge about their characteristics and play. These tools can enhance our effectiveness as care providers overall. This progress can be used to determine interests, developmental levels, everyday practices, personalities, and where they need room for growth. These papers can also determine whether a child needs services for: healthcare for children with medical, emotional, or developmental challenges. Once enough data is collected, a check-in with the family is schedule and compassionately relay everything that was noticed. A follow-up meeting is usually set up and is an ongoing process that may involve a director’s support.
Goal #6 To maintain a commitment to professionalism
I entered the field of education in 2012 as a PT fitness instructor working in various urban communities throughout New York City. During that time I learned to create a diverse, ethical and positive learning environment and successfully aided scholars in all areas of learning. I believe my greatest strengths are my abilities to execute effective teaching strategies and making learning a fun experience for children. Throughout the years I have experienced many opportunities that have sharpened my skills in facilitating a positive learning environment for children. I have acquired skills ranging from facilitating small groups and early childhood education skills and supervising work, to name a few. With each teaching institution I have been a part of, I have received knowledge that has carried me through others. I have become strong willed, dependable, and honest; a person that anyone can rely on. Although my strengths and skills continue to build, I am willing to learn more. Needless to say my “job” became my career, and I truly love my career. Now attending conferences and workshops to further my knowledge and obtain techniques for my little ones. There is not a day that goes by where my speech or tonality changes negatively. Upon entering the doors everyday my smile is forever indented. There isn’t a teacher, staff member, nor student that goes unnoticed and they all are greeted with a friendly salutation. My everyday has become almost ritualistic and rhythmic and it brings children, teachers and the community together. Celebrating nature, culture, and community in a safe space that creates dance, dress up, and freedom for everyone to play.
Reaching all learners is a subliminal goal of mine so I refer to the Love and Logic teachings every so often. The Love and Logic philosophy is dedicated to making parenting and teaching fun and rewarding, instead of stressful and chaotic. It provides practical tools and techniques that help adults achieve respectful, healthy relationships with their children. Children learn the best lessons when they’re given a task and allowed to make their own choices and fail when the cost of failure is still small. Children’s failures must be coupled with love and empathy from their parents and teachers. It uses humor, hope, and empathy to build up the adult/child relationship, emphasizes respect and dignity for both children and adults, provides real limits in a loving way, and teaches consequences and healthy decision-making. Children are motivated to learn when they are able to make choices. It is my responsibility that the environment is accessible to them and that it is stimulating and enriching.
I am a firm believer that children learn best through play. I strive to maintain an environment for children so they can excel in all their developmental areas. I assume responsibility for reaching all learners and aim to apply different strategies. Aside from the philosophy, I use the 7 Styles of Learning to reach every kind of learner: Visual (spatial), Aural (auditory-musical), Verbal (linguistic), Physical (kinesthetic), Logical (mathematical), Social (interpersonal), and Solitary (intrapersonal). Learning styles have more influence than we may realize. Preferred styles guide the way you learn, they also change the way you internally represent experiences, the way you recall information, and even the words that are chosen. During lesson planning I keep every child in mind, ensuring all of them are actively engaged and interested during class time. I feel I have grown to be an exceptional educator in this area. I live through the children as well, sometimes hearing stories about conversations held at home about what happened in class. I strive to form relationships with all children in my care as well as their families. All relationships between families and caregivers are vital and help support the child’s development in the center and at home. I believe that I am a very creative person in every way, shape, and form and this versatility is an asset for any setting. I can implement ideas for school-wide activities and events, fun activities for children, and can provide an artistic touch at the drop of a dime! My motivator is the children and their excitement fuels me. I love each and every one of them and they love me too. There’s just something about education that keeps me coming back for more.