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Winter Illness Info

January 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s that time of year when many children come down with viral infections, or what is better known as the common cold. We do our best at Gretchen’s House to minimize the spread of infection with lots of hand washing, but you may still find that your child comes home with a virus. I found this terrific article on Healthy Children.org that gives clear advice on treating these kinds of infections. You can find it by following this link: “Healthy Children.org” The article shares information about caring for children with stuffy noses, chest congestion and coughs.   The article also gives many suggestions for how to help our little ones feel more comfortable while they recover. Feel free to follow up with your classroom teacher or me if you have further questions.

Stay warm and healthy out there!

 

March is Reading Month

March 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Dear Traver Parents,

March is National Reading Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of reading.  Reading is one of the single most important things you can do with your child. The simple activity can positively influence your child’s literacy and language development! Please review the article below and share it with other parents to help promote reading month. Happy Reading!  Lea

How to Raise a Reader

by Mary VanClay Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board

It’s never too early to steer your child toward books. But for toddlers, the goal is not to make sure they can read the classics before they’re out of preschool. “The phrase to remember is ‘developmentally appropriate,’” says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Parents often come to me wanting to push academics too much, too fast, too soon. In fact, children learn best through play. Make reading a joyous event for them.”

There are many developmentally appropriate — and fun — ways to help your little one learn to love books and stories. And, surprisingly, not all of them involve sitting down with an actual book.

Use books to bond “It’s not about reading the words,” says Leiderman. “At this age it’s about learning to love the interaction with Mom, Dad, or a caretaker.” When your child sits in your lap as you read aloud, she doesn’t just enjoy books, she also enjoys the security of your undivided attention.

Set up a ritual A regular reading time establishes a calming routine young children love — that’s why the bedtime story is a time-honored tradition. But don’t forget that many other daily events also provide good reading opportunities. Once in a while try establishing a new ritual with a breakfast story, a bathtub story, a just-home-from-daycare story. Some toddlers (and older children) who are heavy sleepers are much better able to face the day when their parents “read them awake” rather than hustle them out of bed.

Choose appropriate books Toddlers love board books, bathtub books, and pop-up books — any type they can hold easily and manipulate themselves. They love stories accompanied by bright, clear, realistic pictures. And of course they love rhymes. That’s not to say your 2-year-old won’t appreciate the stories her big brother chooses — who knows, Rocks and Minerals may end up being her favorite book. Just make sure she has access to simpler books as well.

Repeat, repeat, repeat Stifle your yawns if you’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar every night for the past month and your child still asks to hear it again. Repetition is a hallmark of the toddler years. “The reason children love to read the same stories over and over and over again is that they’re so thirsty to learn,” says Leiderman. You’ll soon find that your toddler has memorized her favorite passages and is eager to supply key phrases herself — both signs of increasing reading readiness.

Ham it up Lose your inhibitions when you read to your child. Growl like the Papa Bear in Goldilocks, squeak like Piglet in Winnie-the-Pooh. Kids love drama as much as adults do — in fact, your youngster may love to pretend to be the scary wolf in The Three Little Pigs. Encourage her, even if it slows the story’s progress. She’ll get more out of the story if she’s participating actively.

Follow her interests Choose books about her favorite activities — visiting the zoo, swimming, playing ball. Back up your kids’ favorite videos and TV shows with books about the characters. You may be mystified by the appeal of Teletubbies, but if your child loves the cheery little creatures, she’ll love the books about their exploits as well. Follow her lead, but do experiment with a wide variety of books before you decide you know exactly what your child will like. Your little girl who loves dress-up and dolls may, to your surprise, also be the one who asks to hearGodzilla Likes to Roar or Monster Bugs over and over.

Go to the library Even babies like library story-hours, and they’re wonderful adventures for toddlers. Your child may well discover a new favorite when it’s presented by a beguiling librarian with a soothing voice and perhaps some pictures or puppets to illustrate the action. And, of course, libraries let parents — and kids — try out countless stories without spending a bundle.

Push play Many wonderful books exist on cassette or CD. Your toddler may not be interested in them because what she really likes about books is the interaction with you, says pediatrician Laura Jana, a national trainer for Reach Out and Read. But if your toddler does happen to like them, great. She may want to sit with the picture book while she listens to the recording, or you may want to put it on while the two of you do other things. You could also record yourself — or another relative or friend — reading stories. Just remember, says Jana, that recorded stories can’t take the place of sitting down together.

Don’t make books a reward Don’t tell your child she can listen to a story if she finishes her dinner. When reading is associated with systems of reward and punishment, it isn’t a positive experience. Instead, pick times to read that feel natural, such as when you want your toddler to quiet down before her nap.

Dealing with the wigglers Some wiggly youngsters just won’t sit still through all of Blueberries for Sal. What to do? “Sit down and leaf through something short for just 30 seconds, and then say, ‘Wow, we read this whole book!’ Then let them go,” says Leiderman. The next day you can try a little longer session. “Some children will always be more interested in motor activities than in reading,” she says. “Respect that, and don’t make reading a negative experience.” If your toddler is the physically active type, she may respond best to the non-book-related activities described below.

Make storytelling a part of life “Promoting reading readiness is more than reading a traditional book,” says Leiderman. While you’re at the dinner table or in the car, tell stories — standards like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” anecdotes from your own childhood, or stories that feature your child as a central character. Make books of your child’s drawings or favorite photos, and tell stories about them — or ask her to be the narrator.

Point out words everywhere Wherever you go, you can show your child that words are an important part of everyday life. Even the youngest toddlers quickly learn, for example, that traffic signs say STOP. Alphabet refrigerator magnets are staples in many homes. Other families label objects around the house, such as the shelves that house BLOCKS, DOLLS, and other toys. If your child is in daycare or preschool, slip a daily note into her lunchbox. Even if she can’t yet read CAT, seeing the word printed on a piece of paper, along with a drawing or sticker of a cute kitten, will be a high point in her day and help excite her interest in reading. If this seems too ambitious, try drawing a heart or smiley face with a simple “I love you,” which will help get your toddler excited about the meaning behind words.

Talk Children from families who converse at the dinner table have larger vocabularies, according to researchers at Harvard University. Talk with your toddler, and don’t be afraid to use complex words and phrases. Encourage her questions and explanations. Toddlers are curious and wonder endlessly about the world, so don’t be shy about trying to explore her interests with her.

Demonstrate your own love of books Your child wants to imitate you. If she sees books all around the house and knows that you like to settle down with one whenever you have a moment to yourself, she’ll learn that books are essential to daily life. Modeling your own love of reading is more powerful than making your child sit through a rigid story time.

Books for you Numerous books have been written for parents who want to nourish a love of reading. Try Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook, E.D. Hirsch’s Books to Build On, Elizabeth Wilson’s Books Children Love, and Bernice Cullinan’s Read to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read.

Fall Housekeeping Reminders

September 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This post was written by Laura Griswold, Director of GH-Dhu-Varren. Her reminders are applicable to all the centers so we thought we’d share!

 

Fall brings a lot of exciting changes to our centers. We have returning families and new families joining our classrooms. Here are a few things we need you to know or be reminded of regarding health and safety at Gretchen’s House.

Food

Recently we noticed that many children are finishing their breakfast from home as they arrive at the center. It is important that all food from home be eaten before your child comes in the door. This matters not only because of the many children attending with food allergies, but also it shows respect to the other children who may find what your child is eating desirable.

Snacks at pick up time can also be a problem. Please be sure to offer your child their afternoon snack after you are out of the building. Finally, please do not store the snacks intended for pick up in your child’s back pack or cubby. We have found some ‘sneaky cubby munchers’ that just couldn’t wait!

Parking Lot

It is dangerous:

– To leave your car running unattended in the parking lot

– To leave children in the car unattended (car running or not)

– To allow your child to ride in the car without a properly installed cars seat or booster in the back seat of the vehicle

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has stated that if they are patrolling parking lots and see any of the above scenarios, they will ticket the driver.

Local authorities have also reported incidents of thieves targeting child care centers. They break into cars to steal purses, lap tops, etc. when parents are dropping off their children. There have been instances where children were in the car when the robbery happened. In some cases, where older children were involved, the police asked the child to describe the thief! That is scary. We want everyone to be safe.

Contracted Times

Upon enrollment, families choose their contracted times to have their child(ren) at the center. This 9 ½ hour time frame aids us in determining the teachers’ schedules. We need to maintain safe ratios that allows us to provide the quality care you should expect from Gretchen’s House. If there is an occasional situation that requires you to deviate from that schedule, please let the teacher know so we can make adjustments as necessary for that day.

Emergency Cards and Health Insurance info

Many of you have already filled out the new Emergency Cards required by the state of Michigan. Thank you. One of the things that they omitted on the new card that is still required for us to have is the Health Insurance Number. We are asking parents to bring a copy of their card to the front desk so we can make a quick copy. If you haven’t filled out the new Emergency Card or provided us the insurance card, please do so by the end of the month.

Thank you for partnering with us in our mission to keep children healthy and safe.

From The Director: March is Reading Month!

March 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Children are always learning about reading and writing, whether it’s at home, school, the grocery store or in the car. Here are some tips to help you support your child as he or she learns the essential skills of reading and writing.

  • Label items around the house.
  • Sing songs, chant and play common rhythms and rhymes.
  • Listen carefully to your child and answer questions thoughtfully. Ask questions too!
  • Have conversations about things that are meaningful to your child.
  • In the car play the letter game. Look for letters of the alphabet on street signs and buildings.
  • Read aloud everyday.
  • Surround your child with different types of reading materials and make sure they are easily accessible. Ex. Books, magazines and newspaper.
  • Play I spy games such as, “I spy a piece of fruit that begins with the letter A.”
  • Help your child write letters to friends and family members then take the letters to the post office.
  • Supply your child with different writing materials, such as pencils, crayons, markers, blank paper, lined paper, notebooks or try typing on the computer.
  •  Take regular trips to the library. Check out books and listen during story time.
  • Take your child to the grocery store. You can spy letters, have conversations about what food your child enjoys and find familiar symbols.

Children start learning literacy skills during infancy.  Help nurture your children’s future as a reader and writer by extending opportunities to develop pre-reading and writing skills every day.

-Lea

From the Director: Happy New Year!

February 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Wow, it’s hard to believe that another year has started!  We really hit the ground running this fall and have kept going!  To recap fall, some of our activities included a new club house on the Preschool playground, an all center potluck, curriculum night, two visits from teacher Rachel’s brother, field trips to the apple orchard/pumpkin patch and our family holiday party!

We are excited to keep the New Year rolling! We started 2013 with our annual “All Staff”  winter training on January 21, 2013. Our training topic was Sensory Integration. The focus was proprioceptive and vestibular senses. If you are interested in viewing information on either of these topics, short videos are available at http://sensoryandmore.com/2012/01/13/brain-highways/ or feel free to ask the teachers about the training. The classrooms have been abuzz with teachers planning new activities to help meet the sensory needs of all children.

We will kick off February with a visit from the Lions Club! They will offer free vision screening at our center on Tuesday, February 5th. If your child does not typically attend on a Tuesday, please feel free to drop by with your child for the screening. Screening will take place around 9:30am.  Be sure to fill out the permission form that was placed in your parent mailbox. You can drop off permission forms in your child’s classroom or bring it with you if you are planning to come with your child for the screening.

We will also have a visit from Pediatric Dentist, Kay Wilson, on February 14the  @ 10:30am. She will demonstrate to the children how to properly brush their teeth and how to make some healthy eating choices.

After February, we will celebrate March as reading month. Look for opportunities to read in your child’s classroom and some helpful hints on raising a healthy reader!

I look forward to what the rest of the year will bring us and continuing our family partnerships.

-Lea

From The Director: Maurice Sendak, Children’s Author Who Upended Tradition, Dies at 83

May 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Sad news today: Maurice Sendak, the author of perennial favorite WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and many other award-winning children’s books, has died. The New York Times has a nice tribute here.

–Lea

 

From The Director-March is National Reading Month

February 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Traver Parents,

March is National Reading Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of reading.  Reading is one of the single most important things you can do with your child. The simple activity can positively influence your child’s literacy and language development! Please review the article below and share it with other parents to help promote reading month. Happy Reading!  Lea

How to Raise a Reader

by Mary VanClay
Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board

It’s never too early to steer your child toward books. But for toddlers, the goal is not to make sure they can read the classics before they’re out of preschool. “The phrase to remember is ‘developmentally appropriate,'” says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Parents often come to me wanting to push academics too much, too fast, too soon. In fact, children learn best through play. Make reading a joyous event for them.”

There are many developmentally appropriate — and fun — ways to help your little one learn to love books and stories. And, surprisingly, not all of them involve sitting down with an actual book.

Use books to bond
“It’s not about reading the words,” says Leiderman. “At this age it’s about learning to love the interaction with Mom, Dad, or a caretaker.” When your child sits in your lap as you read aloud, she doesn’t just enjoy books, she also enjoys the security of your undivided attention.

Set up a ritual
A regular reading time establishes a calming routine young children love — that’s why the bedtime story is a time-honored tradition. But don’t forget that many other daily events also provide good reading opportunities. Once in a while try establishing a new ritual with a breakfast story, a bathtub story, a just-home-from-daycare story. Some toddlers (and older children) who are heavy sleepers are much better able to face the day when their parents “read them awake” rather than hustle them out of bed.

Choose appropriate books
Toddlers love board books, bathtub books, and pop-up books — any type they can hold easily and manipulate themselves. They love stories accompanied by bright, clear, realistic pictures. And of course they love rhymes. That’s not to say your 2-year-old won’t appreciate the stories her big brother chooses — who knows, Rocks and Minerals may end up being her favorite book. Just make sure she has access to simpler books as well.

Repeat, repeat, repeat
Stifle your yawns if you’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar every night for the past month and your child still asks to hear it again. Repetition is a hallmark of the toddler years. “The reason children love to read the same stories over and over and over again is that they’re so thirsty to learn,” says Leiderman. You’ll soon find that your toddler has memorized her favorite passages and is eager to supply key phrases herself — both signs of increasing reading readiness.

Ham it up
Lose your inhibitions when you read to your child. Growl like the Papa Bear in Goldilocks, squeak like Piglet in Winnie-the-Pooh. Kids love drama as much as adults do — in fact, your youngster may love to pretend to be the scary wolf in The Three Little Pigs. Encourage her, even if it slows the story’s progress. She’ll get more out of the story if she’s participating actively.

Follow her interests
Choose books about her favorite activities — visiting the zoo, swimming, playing ball. Back up your kids’ favorite videos and TV shows with books about the characters. You may be mystified by the appeal of Teletubbies, but if your child loves the cheery little creatures, she’ll love the books about their exploits as well. Follow her lead, but do experiment with a wide variety of books before you decide you know exactly what your child will like. Your little girl who loves dress-up and dolls may, to your surprise, also be the one who asks to hearGodzilla Likes to Roar or Monster Bugs over and over.

Go to the library
Even babies like library story-hours, and they’re wonderful adventures for toddlers. Your child may well discover a new favorite when it’s presented by a beguiling librarian with a soothing voice and perhaps some pictures or puppets to illustrate the action. And, of course, libraries let parents — and kids — try out countless stories without spending a bundle.

Push play
Many wonderful books exist on cassette or CD. Your toddler may not be interested in them because what she really likes about books is the interaction with you, says pediatrician Laura Jana, a national trainer for Reach Out and Read. But if your toddler does happen to like them, great. She may want to sit with the picture book while she listens to the recording, or you may want to put it on while the two of you do other things. You could also record yourself — or another relative or friend — reading stories. Just remember, says Jana, that recorded stories can’t take the place of sitting down together.

Don’t make books a reward
Don’t tell your child she can listen to a story if she finishes her dinner. When reading is associated with systems of reward and punishment, it isn’t a positive experience. Instead, pick times to read that feel natural, such as when you want your toddler to quiet down before her nap.

Dealing with the wigglers
Some wiggly youngsters just won’t sit still through all of Blueberries for Sal. What to do? “Sit down and leaf through something short for just 30 seconds, and then say, ‘Wow, we read this whole book!’ Then let them go,” says Leiderman. The next day you can try a little longer session. “Some children will always be more interested in motor activities than in reading,” she says. “Respect that, and don’t make reading a negative experience.” If your toddler is the physically active type, she may respond best to the non-book-related activities described below.

Make storytelling a part of life
“Promoting reading readiness is more than reading a traditional book,” says Leiderman. While you’re at the dinner table or in the car, tell stories — standards like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” anecdotes from your own childhood, or stories that feature your child as a central character. Make books of your child’s drawings or favorite photos, and tell stories about them — or ask her to be the narrator.

Point out words everywhere
Wherever you go, you can show your child that words are an important part of everyday life. Even the youngest toddlers quickly learn, for example, that traffic signs say STOP. Alphabet refrigerator magnets are staples in many homes. Other families label objects around the house, such as the shelves that house BLOCKS, DOLLS, and other toys. If your child is in daycare or preschool, slip a daily note into her lunchbox. Even if she can’t yet read CAT, seeing the word printed on a piece of paper, along with a drawing or sticker of a cute kitten, will be a high point in her day and help excite her interest in reading. If this seems too ambitious, try drawing a heart or smiley face with a simple “I love you,” which will help get your toddler excited about the meaning behind words.

Talk
Children from families who converse at the dinner table have larger vocabularies, according to researchers at Harvard University. Talk with your toddler, and don’t be afraid to use complex words and phrases. Encourage her questions and explanations. Toddlers are curious and wonder endlessly about the world, so don’t be shy about trying to explore her interests with her.

Demonstrate your own love of books
Your child wants to imitate you. If she sees books all around the house and knows that you like to settle down with one whenever you have a moment to yourself, she’ll learn that books are essential to daily life. Modeling your own love of reading is more powerful than making your child sit through a rigid story time.

Books for you
Numerous books have been written for parents who want to nourish a love of reading. Try Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook, E.D. Hirsch’s Books to Build On, Elizabeth Wilson’s Books Children Love, and Bernice Cullinan’s Read to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read.

To share or not to share

December 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With the holidays in full swing, many children will come face to face with the challenges of sharing.  It’s important to remember that learning to share is a developmental process and takes lots of practice and support from adults. For an overview on sharing and some helpful hints for facilitating the process, you can view the Gretchen’s House Purple Page on Sharing here:    SharingPP

Happy Holidays!

-Lea

 

From The Director: What is a Letter Link?

September 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Your child has probably pointed out to you or talked to you about her/his classroom symbol and a teacher has probably talked about or shown you how the symbol matches the first letter sound of your child’s name.  These symbols are called “letter links.”  Each child’s letter link connects them to their name, giving them a link to help develop their early literacy skills. The letter links name-learning system, developed by HighScope six years ago, gives preschool teachers a tool to build on the meaningful connections children have to their own names.

What Is a Letter Link?
A letter link consists of two parts: a child’s printed name paired with a picture of an object that starts with the same letter and sound: for example, the name Cathy and a picture of a camel or the name Dewan and a picture of a dump truck. Teachers in HighScope early childhood classrooms use children’s personal letter links throughout the classroom to identify each child, placing them everywhere a child’s name would ordinarily go. They also find their own creative ways to incorporate letter links in in classroom activities.

Here are a few ways that teachers use letter links in our classrooms:

Children’s personal items. Letter links labels identify each child’s personal storage basket or cubby, coat hook, and other items, and may be added by children or teachers to artwork and building projects.

Classroom signs and lists. Letter links may be used on the daily message board, for example, to identify a teacher or child that are absent that day or for a special activity, or they can be used to identify snack and classroom jobs.

Sign-in sheet. Having children sign in as they arrive each day is a good way to build reading and writing into the routine. The sign-in sheet lists each child’s printed name and letter-linked picture next to a blank space for the child’s own writing.

Turn-taking props. Letter links may be drawn out of a basket to identify who will go next at planning or recall time. They can be taped to the class song book to indicate who will pick the first song at group time.

Family book. Teachers create a book with a page for each child in the classroom. Families send in photos of the family for the child’s page, which is labeled with his or her name and letter-linked picture (see images below).

Letter links help provide a way to introduce children to letters and sounds in a meaningful way that can be used at school and at home. Why not give everyone in your household a letter link? You can make name cards for the dinner table, use them to assign chores or use them to label personal spaces. However you decide to use them at home, it will help extend your child’s early awareness of letters and sounds in a significant way and also help connect school and home!

-Lea

From The Director-Starting Childcare or School For the First Time

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

For many young children, attending childcare or making the transition to public school for the first time can feel simultaneously exciting and scary. It can also be stressful for parents, children and teachers. There are new relationships to build, new routines to follow, and lots of new materials to explore.  

For some children the scariness can outweigh the excitement, so it’s important to prepare for the emotional impact a child may undergo. Following a good-bye routine is one the best practices you can do for your child.  Invent a special parting ritual, such as a high-five, reading a book before you go, having your child gently push you out the door or saying something like, “I’ll be back to get you soon, long before we see the moon”. The vital part is that you perform the ritual consistently each time you drop him/her off. Another practice that will help with a smoother drop off is allowing extra time for your child to get ready and get out the door in the morning. The more calm things are at home, the easier the separation will be.

Many parents consider sneaking out when they drop off their child. As tempting as it may seem, it will only cause more distress for your child. Instead, make a point of saying good-bye, however, don’t drag it out or let on that you might be upset, too. Just do it matter-of-factly and confidently and your child will learn to follow your lead. 

Lastly, remember to acknowledge your child’s feelings, whether he/she is feeling excited *or* scared!

–Lea

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