Summer camp at Santa Fe Centers is planned to create an experience to remember. This year the theme is the Olympics to be held in Brazil. Our very large play areas provide the perfect opportunity to conduct our own Olympic games. How we celebrate this world wide event is to learn about and experience the cultures of the countries participating. With the help of our families, we actually hear stories and enjoy food, dress, music and language from other lands. So far this year between the two centers we have visited Japan, China, Philippines, Colombia, Italy, Africa, France, Greece, Russia, Argentina, Australia and of course the USA. We still have much to look forward to as the summer is just half over.
Santa Fe has always incorporated cooking into our activities as a way to encourage children to expand their taste buds. We provide the opportunity to see where your food comes from by the gardening experience. The garden is now in full bloom – flowers in the front yards of school and home and vegetables in the garden. The garden is started by the children with the help of Mr. Dudley, who is part owner of Santa Fe. Many of the plants are started from seed by the children on the window sills in their classrooms. Mr. Dudley comes frequently to check on their progress and to make the decision when to plant. Everyone is very excited to watch the progress and to actually see what they are growing. You will find tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, mint, basil, and an Asian squash called Upo which Mr. Dudley uses in his Philippine cooking. Each of the classrooms have “beds” where they can plant their own, harvest their own and then taste their own. Fridays have become the day we all taste a fruit or vegetable — a very important part of encouraging good nutrition.
Come visit our garden. Santa Fe serves infants through kindergarten at our two locations on Springfield Avenue in New Providence. Those of you who wish your children to enjoy the outdoors in a stimulating and environmentally aware school, please come and visit. If you would love to teach in a creative atmosphere just give us a call at 908-464-3848 or 908-665-1235. We are very proud of what we do and what we have accomplished through the years. Look for us on www.santafecenters.com or on Facebook.
Santa Fe Centers, serving childcare needs from infants to kindergarten, celebrated their 20th Anniversary on Saturday, October 17th with their 1st Annual Fall Festival held on their beautifully cared for acre of land. Over 200 neighbors, friends and center families attended. Event organizer Emily Weisgerber and the center’s staff provided sand art, face painting, obstacle course, lawn bowling, ring toss and pumpkin decorating activities. The children and their families enjoyed riding an 18’ miniature fire truck around the grounds. Group movement activities using the center’s CATCH (catch.org) program activities are planned and implemented by the teachers. At the festival, families were encouraged to participate as they enjoyed the day. Refreshments were apples and popcorn in addition to a truck making ices and hot chocolate to order. Continue reading
Quality Improvement Program from Grow NJ Kids Hits New Providence
Santa Fe Centers is participating in “Grow NJ Kids”, a state-wide program known as QRIS (Quality Rating Improvement System). The adopted standards were developed in partnership with the Departments of Education, Human Services, Children and Families and Health in Union County, NJ. The centers began working independently on the standards after their initial announcement in 2013 and were chosen to join the network of Early Childhood Educational professionals in March 2015.
A quality improvement specialist from Community Coordinated Childcare of Union County evaluates our childcare programs and establishes goals with the teaching staff in the following categories:
- Safe, healthy learning environments
- Curriculum and learning environments
- Family and community engagement
- Work/professional development
- Administration and Management
Santa Fe Centers continues to support our staff as they broaden their education in the field of early childhood by completing a CDA, an AA or a BA. This shared knowledge base helps to facilitate the development of our children in all areas of growth — physical, social, emotional and cognitive. At first contact with families, guidelines are helpful in evaluating potential schools for their child. Some of the questions parents need to ask are:
- Is the program sensitive to and respectful of cultural and linguistic diversity? Does it expect, allow, and appreciate individual differences?
- Is the program based on current brain research to help each child reach individual social, emotional, physical and cognitive potential?
- Does the program respect and support each child’s feelings?
- Does the program promote feelings of psychological safety, security, and belonging?
- Does the program promote interactive hands-on learning, encouraging the child’s personal construction of conceptual knowledge?
- Do staff members build and maintain a professional, ethical and mutually respectful relationship with families?
- Do teachers use positive discipline strategies leading to self-regulation and development of higher level thinking skills?
- Does the staff model and promote a sense of joy in being with their children leading to each child’s feelings of acceptance, success, competence, and confidence in their abilities?
- Do staff members provide a variety of activities and materials that increase in complexity, difficulty and level of challenge as the children develop greater understanding and higher skill levels throughout the year?
The above questions will be helpful when evaluating a facility. For a more extensive list, please go to www.santafecenters.com . The key is that parents need to feel comfortable with the childcare they select for their child. For more information on “Grow NJ Kids” go to: childandfamily-nj.org
Jane Coleman Cabildo, RN, MS
by Jane Coleman Cabildo, Director – Santa Fe Centers
Current research and a search of the literature have given Santa Fe Childcare a new way to look at the activity level of our infants and toddlers. We were pleased to welcome Eleanor Campbell, PT, to our Infant Toddler Center, on April 16th where she spoke to parents and staff about the importance of movement in the lives of our youngest children. The title of her presentation was “Babies Need to Move” and she had everyone fascinated with the information shared. She reviewed typical sensory/motor development, which is similar for all children – progress on a continuum which contributes to the many vital connections that are formed between lower and higher centers in the brain.
Infants must be allowed to move in order to gain muscle strength against gravity, to get up on hands and knees, to crawl and to eventually walk. The efficient and healthy development of the neurological and motor system is dependent on freedom of movement of infants as well as the continued encouragement of active play for the older children. In this age of car seats, infant seats, exersaucers, infant swings, and jolly jumpers, we need to critically look at whether we are providing enough opportunity to allow our children to be on the floor, to be in an environment where they can freely move and help to develop all their senses. We can prevent some of the developmental, learning and emotional challenges our children face, as well as plagiocephaly (abnormal head shape) in infants or torticollis (asymmetrical neck position) by allowing our infants to spend most of their awake time on the floor or in an environment that allows free movement. Less time in infant seats/carriers, swings or other restrictive devices which inhibit free movement is the key.
We are all well aware of our five senses and through growth and exposure these are well stimulated — but how many are aware of the proprioceptive sense and the vestibular sense? The proprioceptive sense helps us to know where our body is in space, how much force is needed for postural control against gravity and for movement. The vestibular system helps us to know where our head is positioned in space and to comprehend movement. These systems work together to develop motor control, balance and equilibrium. A baby’s first playground is the floor and here is where learning about the body and the environment is gained. Full development of movement, body awareness, and balance is a gradual process that is not complete until at least 7 years of age and beyond. Allowing our older children more free outside time and less regimented classes will help to not only develop the motor and neurologic system but will help with social and emotional growth and stress release.
Here at Santa Fe, we work hard to provide such an environment, which helps to develop all the senses so important for proper neurological and motor growth.
By: Toni Dolshun, Butterflies Teacher, Santa Fe Centers
Preschool children at Santa Fe Centers in New Providence marvel at their “Rain in a Bag” experiment. The photo depicts their interest as they are watching “clouds” form and “rain” fall in the miniature ecosystem which they created. It was simply put together with soil and a little water in a zip lock bag; strategically placed in a warm, sunny spot. Our young learners explored the water cycle while using words such as evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. As they observed the states of matter change from liquid to gas and back to liquid again, their wonderment lead to various questions, answers, correlations, and predictions. (All leading to promoting increased cognitive and language skills)
This was just one of the many exploratory activities the Center’s children enjoy throughout the year. “Making Rain” happened to evolve from our Summer Fairy Tales Curriculum. After reading an African tale from Kenya entitled “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain”, we explored geographically dry climate areas on a map and looked at pictures of deserts and other arid lands. We talked about what happened to the people and animals in the story when they experienced a lack of rain. Additionally, we used our senses to see, feel and smell dry patches of grass. We then compared the dry grass to lush, amply watered grass and decided to try to “create” rain. Today the zip lock bag still remains on display on our porch because the children still enjoy tapping the bag as they pass it by. With each tap the cloud is disturbed and drops of rain trickle down.
As summer progresses, our teachers will be reading more fables and fairy tales as well as singing and reciting nursery rhymes with our children. The carefully chosen stories (many of which originate from culturally diverse areas) will be followed by discussions regarding the moral of the story. Those discussions and the simple repetition of nursery rhymes increase language and critical thinking skills. Additionally, the story-related, hands-on activities which the children participate in are designed to impart a sense of curiosity and an authentic interest in science and in nature. We are fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of beauty in nature. Why not utilize it as part of the classroom environment? Our out-door experiences have been truly enriching.
Our Center recognizes that children’s development is holistic. This means that development in each domain (physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language) is closely related to and dependent on all the other domains. In turn, all of that is influenced by the quality and variety of opportunities that are made available to children. Play provides those opportunities for children to integrate their development across the various domains. What better way for our young learners to grow than through explorations and observation while at play? Whether we are parents, grandparents, or teachers of young children, let’s remember to make the time to provide the opportunities needed. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods, watering the plants, playing a game of catch, building a Lego house, or making it rain in a bag. Having doubts about the value and benefits of “just” child’s play? Come visit us.
Will those four year olds in the photo remember the big vocabulary words which we tossed out at them? Perhaps they won’t. Will they remember that they made it rain in a bag? My guess is probably yes. Let’s get out there and PLAY. The rewards are far-reaching.