Tell me where has the summer gone? This has been such a busy one and so much fun. The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games were just as exciting in New Providence as in Rio.
We have been busy getting ready for our new students. Much has been done in the rooms to ensure that all children have their own space, places to hang their coats, etc. — much is done behind the scenes to prepare the activities for the children to enjoy – purchasing basics, reading up on the latest STEAM info, getting all of our outdoor equipment ready.
This year we open with most classes very, very busy and full. In order to ensure that we cover all our classes, Ms. Karen, Ms. Jen and Ms. Ro will be working at both sites depending on the need. Ms. Maria and Ms. Maggie will go back to their school time calendar so you will see both of them as well.
Ms. Shpresa will be joining us primarily at the Pre-K site to assist with the older children. She holds an associate’s degree and experience in Early Childhood. We are happy to have her on board. We ask that all of you welcome her and her enthusiastic desire to work in our centers. Meagan and Cindy eagerly await her assistance and this will give me the opportunity to have Cindy help with some of our Grow NJ Kids projects.
In the PreK/Kinder classroom we will also have a Kean student, Ms. Kayla, working with our teachers as part of her junior field experience. We have been able to assist with the students on and off for several years and it has been a great experience for many.
At the beginning of the year we plan for the start of our parent/staff committee. The first meeting will be on Wednesday, October 5th. All meetings are held at the Infant Toddler location. For those of you not familiar with our committee, we invite parents to meet about 3 – 4 times during the academic calendar to discuss various topics related to the care and education of their children. In addition to this we plan educational topics around these meetings. I welcome any suggestions for topics of interest. I have already scheduled CPR/First Aid for parents on May 3rd.
I would like to reach out to all of you for your continued support as we start the new school year. Each room would typically have a parent representative who would bring any issues to the chairperson and then it is brought to the meeting. Please come forward to help out. We need a chairperson and parent reps for each room. Please email me with your name and willingness. We could always run it with co-chairs if this would work better and get more people involved. I am not going to assume that anyone from the past year is going to keep your position so please get back to me regarding your interest.
As you already know, you will see Ms. Stephanie and Ms. Rachelle in our rooms working with our teachers as we embrace the Grow NJ Kids initiative. We are currently interviewing for assistant teachers at the centers, so if you know anyone who might be interested and have experience in early childhood care you can send them our way. Thank you.
I’m wishing all my parents and staff a wonderful beginning to another exciting year.
As we approach our 21st year we wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the trust that you put in us day after day in the care of your children. Caring for young children is one of the most important professions an individual can do. Therefore, we feel that continued staff development is essential and we require participation in the opportunities offered at Santa Fe as well as encouraging staff to nurture their interest and knowledge of early childhood at outside conferences. Our participation in Grow NJ Kids has given many opportunities to all of us. Please be assured of our continued commitment to provide children with activities that promote their growth in social, emotional, physical and intellectual areas.
It was a great experience for all of us to spend Staff Development Day participating in “hands on” activities. Our staff (Yenny, Toni, Marilyn, Meagan, Annie, Emily and Cindy) all provided exceptional information as well as on point experiences which created opportunities for learning and discussion. An Infant Toddler Specialist from Community Childcare of Union County provided an insightful session on Teamwork and Professionalism which was very well done and very beneficial to all. We started the day discussing the uniqueness of what we (Santa Fe) provide. Yes, of course, our outside environment is incredible with special attention given to our children through implementing the CATCH program on campus, as well as Stretch-N-Grow who come throughout the school year. Our intentional and reflective teaching methodologies focus on each child to ensure that individual needs are met. As we so many times have stated before, our intent is to ensure that each child feels competent and confident. Our support for the social and emotional growth of our children is of extreme importance to their future success. Our work to help a child regulate both feelings and behavior continues in each class.
We pride ourselves in maintaining our independent status in the community with no affiliation with any other daycares. Thank you for your continued support, and as always I want to assure you that I appreciate hearing back from you and that we are always open to ideas and suggestions. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you at any time.
Dates to remember:
May 11, 2016, Wednesday, 6:00pm-7:00pm: CPR & First Aid Overview at the Infant Toddler Center. Register by emailing your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org; babysitting provided upon request by email.
May 30, 2016, Monday: Memorial Day Parade – Santa Fe Centers will be marching in the Parade. Directly following the parade, the Cabildos will host a picnic in their backyard for our Santa Fe families; more information will be mailed out soon. The centers are closed on this day.
This week many of you realize that Friday is Promotion Day at the Pre K center. This is a very special day for the children, you as families and us as teachers. The children from the Pre K room will be promoted to their next level either Pre-K 4 or Kindergarten. Some children will stay with us in September and some will go on to other schools. In September, we do have a full time Kindergarten and we are so happy that we are able to provide a certified teacher with experience – Meagan Mentor. We wish all of our promotion candidates a wonderful experience in the coming year. Your presence here at Santa Fe has only added to our enjoyment as professional teachers — may you continually be excited about learning.
On Friday, we will also be providing the children in the Pre K classroom with a barbecue lunch which they have planned. It will be held on Dudley and Jane’s deck overflowing into our back yard. This has become tradition and we do this to help them celebrate their special day. Tough time for those of us who go through this every year — we will miss your children and the many anecdotes through the year that have made us laugh and smile and make us proud to be a part of their lives.
I also wanted to mention the 5 K race that was organized by the Sharing Network held on June 8th. Marilyn, Cindy and I put up a booth to represent Santa Fe as members of the New Providence Business Association. We were so impressed by the numbers of people there and the stories of those who had donated and those who received a donation either from a relative or from a deceased donor. The gift of life and hope was the theme of the day. The courage of these people is a lesson in itself. We were honored to be a part of the day and several of our families either ran or walked in honor of these families. We saw the Giunta, De Groot, Pardo, Weiss, Rancier, Greenwald, Pagdanganan families as they participated in an incredible day. In discussing this the Monday after this race, a few of our families suggested that we put together a team to represent Santa Fe. Those of you who wish to get involved in this, start training now!!
Remember tomorrow is Children’s Day so in celebration of your children they have received a box of raisins with the saying —“Thanks for a great year. You’re our “raisin” for being at Santa Fe.”
Remember summer has started and sunscreen is a part of our routine. We have an article in the office from Consumer Reports (July 2014) entitled “The truth about sunscreen”. In this article it states that spray sunscreen should not be used for children for the following reasons:
• Lung irritation
• Titanium dioxide is a possible carcinogen
• Not cost effective as you need to spray yourself twice
• Air quality???
• FDA is in the process of verifying the above
Please rethink the use spray sunscreen as in order to ensure adequate coverage you need to spray then rub in onto the skin anyway.
Air quality is a concern especially for those families worried about RAD or reactive airway disease or asthma. So even though you are tempted to jump out of the car with the engine running as you would like to keep that air conditioner going strong, please think twice as one of our children with lung sensitivity may be walking by your car. And of course in April, we talked to all the children about our responsibility to the earth and the air we breathe. So let us set a good example.
Remember, fund raiser is finished tomorrow. Thank you so much for all your support. Molly and I are so happy with the results and we are appreciative of the time and effort all of you put in to make this a very successful opportunity to buy more for the children.
Last but not least, Alisha has been accepted into the nursing program at Bloomfield College. I am so excited and yet sad that we will lose her expertise here at Santa Fe but I am sure that she will be able to help us out occasionally. Please congratulate her on her persistence and hard work.
Well, I certainly cannot let this newsletter go by without letting you know that Memorial Day was so much fun. When Mr. Dudley and I were ending the day, we learned that the numbers at our house came close to 150. Needless to say, the picnic and the parade were so much fun and we thank all who walked, watched and came to our house to celebrate such a traditional American holiday.
At the end of this week, we will have enjoyed our farm animals and we take every class over to the PK Center as long as the weather holds out. The children love the animals and it makes for an exciting outing.
Next week, on Friday, those children from the Pre K room will be promoted.
Since the last newsletter, there is quite a garden growing at the PK center so please if you have not visited, please do. As the vegetables grow, Mr. Dudley will be handing samples out when he can. Here at the IT center, there are sunflower seeds that our growing compliments of Jess and our littlest children. Let’s see how tall they get — great place by the entrance so that you can watch with your children.
Not sure how our fund raiser will turn out but I do know that there have been many orders. The money from our last fundraiser was used to buy an axillary thermometer for the infant toddler center. For the PK center we bought a large piece for the children’s lunch bags and other equipment. Anyone who wants to see the story in pictures of how we got the piece up the staircase, just ask. It is on my phone.
During the summer you will see a few of our high school/college students who are joining us or returning to help with the summer programs. Ms. Lindsey, Ms. Kathryn, Ms. Jennifer are college students who will be helping primarily at the IT center. Ms. Rebecca, Ms. Annie, Ms. Kaitlyn, and Ms. Jes are high school students and will predominantly be working at the PK center. Ms. Amber and Ms. Dana worked with us last summer and will be back again to help with the older children. At the PK center you will also see Mr. Nick who has been with us the last couple of years as a CIT – counsellor in training. This year he is actually coming to work with us and he is great helping with the summer sport activities. You will also see three other young CITs who will be joining us — Christian, Christian and Madeline. All have been with us in our childcare program so we welcome them as they come to work with us.
At the PK center, we will be saying goodbye to Ms. Alex who has been great working in the afternoons at the PK center. She will be working at a camp this summer and we wish to thank her and wish her the best.
Ms. Dotti has decided to retire this year and will be sorely missed. Through thick and thin, Dottie had supported Santa Fe and my family as we embarked on this new business. Her loyalty has helped to support this growing and expanding business. She has worked in every room, every age group and probably just about every staff member who has walked through these doors. It is clearly evident that she loves these children and she prides herself on doing an incredible job. We hope that she will come and visit and feed a baby or two when she can find the time as she has a large group of grandchildren that she cares for as well.
With Dottie leaving, Alisha will take her days and work full time through the summer for us. I have asked Maria to take the lead teacher position in the Cuddler’s room. I have been very impressed with Maria’s ease in working with others – staff as well as parents. She has a quite calm way about her and when all those babies are crying, she just meets their needs in a very comforting and calm fashion. She has shown a good understanding of developmental growth, good organizational skills and a willingness to continually work towards excellence in care. Her background and education are the foundation needed to work in an infant room:
• Degree in Psychology and on her way to doing her CDA as well
• Experience in developmental pediatrics working as a case manager
• Management experience having run a department of experts meeting the needs of developmentally challenged children and their families.
• Her recent contributions to the revamping of the Cuddler’s room to facilitate the motor development of all children
I would hope that everyone staff and parents offer her your congratulations but also recognize that she is a working partner in the care of your child. We are here to insure that your child is off to a good start which includes physical development but also includes social and emotional health.
You will see Ms. Selina in this room as one of the regular staff. Jess will be helping us with our transitions the next few months as so many of our children are so close in age. You will see Jess in either the Cuddler room or the Walkie- Talkie room depending on the needs of the children.
Please do not hesitate to stop in to tell me how your child/children are doing. I enjoy every story.
My child’s skin is naturally dry and becomes more dry in the winter. What can I do to avoid their becoming red and cracked, inviting the germs in – which is not my intention?
All Cracked Up
Dear All Cracked Up,
At this time of year, we all get dry. Heating systems take more out of us than we realize during the winter months so the place to start is hydration – through drink and food throughout the day and night. Providing water at each child’s request at school is essential along with moist food items from home such as fruits, veggies and soups. Water is evaporating from our bodies continually.
A child’s hands are the most used parts of their bodies in early childhood and keeping them comfortable will encourage the children to engage and learn. Lotion overnight is a great idea if your child is past putting their fingers in their mouth, although many children age 4 and beyond still do. We want to make sure that things touching their hands during play, inside and out, will be an interesting rather than a painful experience for their cracked hands. Providing the protection of a warm coat, hat, snowsuit, and scarf along with 2 pairs of waterproof, insulated MITTENS to warm and protect their hands during outdoor play is essential.
As early childhood practitioners, we wash our hands more frequently than most adults – anywhere from 20 – 50 times a day depending on how many noses we blow, diapers we change or tables we wash – as this is the best way to prevent the spread of germs in our classrooms. We care about our hands, too.
Below are items we support, some with the supplies you provide:
(* with the appropriate prescription/nonprescription form).
Preventative Activities Provided
- water bottle availability
- mild soap
- rinsing hands thoroughly
- drying hands thoroughly
- applying hand lotion* after washing
- waterproof mittens to hold in heat/moisture
- lip balm*/lotion* on lips/cheeks
- scarves for neck and cheeks
Potential Contributing Factors
- limited liquid
- antibacterial soaps
- hand sanitizers
- picking at dry/cracked skin/hangnails
- alcohol based lotion that stings
- thin, knitted gloves that get wet/cold
- mouth breathing
- lack of scarf
Most lotions work well when applied 2-3 times a day, making the routine similar to that of sunscreen application for school: your family applies in the morning, we apply as needed during the day with your family reapplying for the overnight hours. Some families swear by oatmeal baths or a particular brand of lotion that passes their child’s “no sting” test. Whatever works for your child and family is well worth the effort when they are able to play and rest comfortably.
Its gift giving time and as usual, I’m torn. Every year we decide not to buy a lot of poorly made toys and stick to learning toys. As I go over the list, I try to ask myself, will this toy be more fun to play with than the box it comes in? I’m tired of donating toys that are barely used. How do I know what to buy?
Having No Fun at TOYSRUS
Dear No Fun,
Who better to know what to buy your child than you? You know what types of things they like, what they already have and how they spend their time. From a safety standpoint, use manufacturer’s age guidelines and limit small parts. Keep some “baby” toys for a while that use skills they have already mastered. As they grow and are challenged to learn new skills, it is comforting for them to return to familiar toys and feel a sense of accomplishment. Recognizing how much they have grown through their toys is self-esteem building. Play is your child’s work. Through play they learn and grow emotionally, socially, physically and intellectually. Toys offer unique opportunities to learn new skills, practice at current skill levels or exercise their imagination or muscles. Artistic materials (paper, paints, crayons, chalk, markers, scissors, glue, and stapler) expose their creative potential by developing their sense of color and balance, small motor skills, and self-expression and self-confidence. Puzzles help to develop spatial awareness, shape and object recognition, small motor abilities, eye-hand coordination, perseverance and problem solving. Card and board games help to develop patience, the ability to set and/or follow rules, and higher level thinking to develop strategies. Vehicles are good for dramatic play, measuring and estimating, and small or large motor development depending on the size. Dolls, stuffed animals and puppets are good for dramatic play along with language development, role playing, and imagination and can often serve as an emotional outlet to resolve issues. Building toys/blocks/marble runs are great for mathematic concept development, problem solving and dramatic play. Athletic equipment is always a favorite as young children love motion. Balls, hoops, and riding/peddle toys help to develop a child’s balance, gross motor skills and self-confidence. Children learn best when they have a large block of time to use their entire bodies, several senses and open ended materials. This type of play develops their overall body, too, as a child in motion is apt to build more muscle, develop a better appetite and sleep better at night than one who is sedentary. You’ll notice no mention electronic learning games which are best used with parental guidance on a limited basis with this age group. All toys can be used by your child alone, of course, but of the best gift you will ever give your child is the time you spend alongside them using your senses with the gifts they unwrap. Time to share a new book from their grandparents. Time to watch the puppet show they just created on the spot. Time to build with them using their new blocks. Time to teach them how to button, zip, snap, or tie using the new outfit for themselves or their favorite doll. Time to listen as they play the Mommy or Daddy with a new doll or truck. Time to hear your child singing G rated lyrics to their new kiddie CD as you drive around town. Playing with boxes will always be a fun bonus, too. They make great building blocks, space ships, and whatever else your child can imagine.
My child confuses me. I never know if I will have a problem in the morning or evening during drop off or pick up. When I come early as a surprise, my child seems unwilling to go with me or expects my spouse. Some families never seem to have this problem. Any ideas?
– Tired of Struggling
Although every family has had a difficult morning or evening, there are those for whom it looks simple. What seems easy is a well-crafted and established routine. What’s their secret? Ask them; they will gladly share their story. The common thread in successful transitions is a consistent routine with firm behavior expectations for arrival and departure – and the child is happily meeting them.
So how can you do that, too? If you awaken late, discover an illness, someone is traveling, etc. you could be headed for a challenging morning arrival without a routine to see you through. Your time together in the car is their transition time from home routine to school routine just as you will begin your mental transition to work after dropping them off. Talk about what might happen at school, the weather, and any final instructions, such as a change in the end of the day routine.
Example: “I packed cheese for lunch and look, I see your teacher’s car. Nanna’s going to pick you up today so I will meet you later at home.”
In general, the drop-off routine should be brief, satisfying to your child and center on direct interaction between you. Information for the teacher can be handwritten, emailed or phoned so that important information is not lost or forgotten. Your focus must center on your child’s activities to ready themselves for their day. ITC children have a limited ability to help with belongings while Pre-K children are mostly capable of removing their outerwear, hanging it up and stowing their lunch box. The sense of competence this gives your child (and the verbal reward they receive from you for accomplishing it) sets a positive tone for their day. After a quick hug, kiss, wave from the window or whatever your child likes or needs to feel good about the coming separation, they are ready begin their day.
Here are a few devices that have worked for families we’ve known. Make the trip to and from school positively interactive:
* Sing a song together in the car on the way to school (henceforth to be known in family folklore as “the school song” regardless of its original title)
* Tell each other things that you will do during the day to talk about later.
* Tell jokes or stories, play word games, rhyming games, notice signs, weather, etc.
Once at school:
* Suggest they eat breakfast, join a friend in the room or ask what they’ll do first.
* Decide on a set number of hugs, kisses, waves, secret handshakes, etc. before leaving.
* Leave at the end of the routine. Remain in control and know they’ll be fine.
The end of the day is equally important. Please keep in mind:
* You are both tired from a busy day that may have had its frustrations.
* Errands, classes, cooking, laundry, tomorrow’s meeting, etc. may be on your mind.
* Nothing else matters to them at this all important reunion time.
* Make a conscious effort to focus on them, their work, their words, and their feelings. It is important to find out from them how they spent their time at school.
You will have a cooperative child if they know they have the full attention of the one they love most at the end of each day.