Tag Archives: Montessori

Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in a Daycare Setting

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The Interview Process

The process of recruiting and training the next generation of early childhood providers can be both the most exhausting and the most rewarding part of our profession. Often we hear, “I love children” from those considering entering the field. But do you know why you love being with children?

While loving the company of children provides a good start, a child in your care will demand much more from you. Working with groups of children in an institution requires the caregiver be well-versed in state laws and regulations ensuring each child’s health and safety. It may require hours on your feet, squatting, or on your hands and knees. At times, you’ll scrub dishes, wipe up floors, catch all the latest viruses, be covered in poo, deal with upset parents- or worse, upset co-teachers. The best early childhood teachers maintain a strong inner presence and calmness through all of this, modeling peace and security towards those in her presence.

They are aware of every child even as they are fully present with an individual in need. Teachers must have the ability to collaborate with other teachers who have a varied belief system regarding children. And they must respectfully communicate and partner with an even larger group of parents, grandparents and family friends all wanting what is best for a child. Through the course of their time spent working with young children, the early childhood professional will be challenged physically, emotionally and cognitively to balance her many duties in supporting the well-being of what is, at first, a stranger’s baby. And she must do this within a social culture seemingly having little care for her profession with long hours, little benefits, and minimal pay.

Amy

When you find someone that has the character and capacity to do all of that, well- that’s exciting.

And also a little dreadful. Will they make it? Next to the fast food industry, child centers have one the highest rates of employee turnover.

In introducing new providers to respectful caregiving in a daycare setting, our first step is being honest with the requirements of the profession. We spend considerable time together at the onset ensuring that new teachers have the information they need to make an informed and honest decision. This is a matter of utmost importance for especially in these early years, young children need to rely on the adults in their lives. The caregiver must be there today and tomorrow. And teachers must be provided the support and tools to ensure each child within the institution feels accepted, valued, safe and free to learn.

Recently, our center went through a tough spell along this process with an unprecedented amount of new teachers leaving after only being with us a short bit. It has caused us to do some soul searching and revisit our introductory time together with teachers new to our center community.

Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in Daycare Settings must involve first, the interview process. At the center, we include the following in the process:

  1. First contact: the interview process begins by placing a carefully worded job description for potential candidates. Resumes are reviewed with an emphasis placed on where applicants are spending their free time and studies. A central administrator contacts possible candidates and discusses in detail the center history, philosophy, position details, vision and how applicants can obtain more information online about our offering.
  2. Second contact: applicants meet with a school director and at least one other administrator (separately) and have an opportunity to share their beliefs on child development, long-range plans, and what they have learned about our program offering online. Not a good sign if they haven’t checked us out- in fact, if they haven’t done their own research, we will write down several links for them read or demonstrations to watch. This part of the process needs to occur prior to the third contact. After meeting, the two administrators get together to share notes.
  3. Third contact: if a candidate seems to be a good fit and has done some online research, we will move to the “third contact” during the same interview time as above. If a teacher has been asked to do additional digging and returns contact with us to pursue learning more, we will arrange a third interview. This process involves a tour and observation of the facilities- regardless of age, each candidate will have an opportunity to observe at each developmental plane infancy through 5K as the center is all connected. After sharing observations, candidates are asked if they would like to continue the process depending on their natural observational skills. At this time references are checked, necessary DSS paperwork gets completed, and paid training opportunities at the center become available on a part-time basis.
  4. Paid Observational Training: candidates begin their training at our center’s hub, the kitchen. The kitchen connects all of our environments for the way we share meals with infants and young children is an integral part of our curriculum. Side-by-side administrator, co-teachers, and school owners wash dishes, prepare meals, and attend to the laundry. Here we have an opportunity to connect with the many adults comprising the center faculty. Each has an opportunity to share personally and professionally and candidates are able to contribute to the workload without yet directly working with the children. In the classroom, new teachers warm-in slowly tasked with observation, note taking, and environment preparation.

This interview process takes at least one to two weeks. At the close of the observational training, we meet again with new teachers to discuss the experience. The last question being, “Are you interested in making this work part of your profession?” with an emphasis on it being a one to two year minimal commitment.

Mutuality
Photo: David Vigliotti

With a “yes”, we move onto the next phase of Introducing New Providers to Respectful Caregiving in a Daycare Setting- the observation.

We would love to hear how you recruit and retain early childhood professionals. What would you add to the above? What would you change?

Resources:

Recruitment Ad Sample

Daycare Turnover Research

 

 

 

Graduation Time

One of the most difficult tasks of the preschool teacher comes at the end of our journey together with the children- graduation day.

As a tribute to the specialness of the Class of 2015, please enjoy our parting farewell video:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/128678355″>Graduation 2015</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mmpschool”>MMP School</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It is difficult to image our day without the contributions of these little ones- not so little anymore.  As they take flight, we will treasure our times together and their many contributions to our center community.  We have touched each other at the heart.

Reading Readiness with Preschoolers

Unlike most early milestones, your child will be conscious of his ability as he works towards reading fluency.  Whereas before he may not have been concerned about his friends rolling over before him or that he took a few tumbles before his first steps, he now may seem self conscious of his reading performance when compared to his peers.  It’s like toilet training all over again as your child weans himself from needing you to connect him to the written language to becoming a fully independent, confident reader.

Toilet training?  Yep- stay with me here…

A few years ago I asked our Montessori and Orton-Gillingham certified Primary Director to identify some skills sets which helped her facilitate the reading program for our preschool and Kindergarten aged children.  Her list includes:   understanding of relationships (what goes together), motivation, focused attention span, visual ability and tracking, persistence, patience, delayed gratification, and normally developed spoken language skills.

These same skill sets were photo documented in a post relating to Diapering and Early Literacy.  (Link to Diapering and Early Literacy post)

At the center, we’ve observed a correlation between how your chid approached toilet learning and how she approaches taking on the tasks towards reading mastery.  In both, the greatest contributor to your child’s success and self esteem is the relationship she has with the primary adult guiding her in the process.

And in both, the adult can only serve as a guide.  We can’t make your child read any faster than he is physically, socially and emotionally prepared to do.  But we can do is support him in his understanding of his own capabilities, provide him the security to feel good about his progress, and continue to lay the foundation for his later independent capabilities.

Watch as this teacher helps guide her emerging reader develop the foundational skill set for later reading fluency.  How is the child feeling about his capabilities?  How are the children proximal to the lesson feeling?  Do opportunities exist for other learners to acquire knowledge from the lesson? How about opportunities to learn from peers?

The Art of Language Arts from MMP School on Vimeo.

When scaffolding a child at any stage in their development relationships matter most. This child and his Guide have been together three years along with his peer group. They are all invested in his success. As renowned early childhood advocate Magda Gerber would say, “In his own time, in his own way” and with a little help from a friend or two, he is well on his way to mastery.

Cooking with Kids @the Center (with video)

Each day at the center, we involve the children, from young toddlers through Kindergarten, in the process of creating the daily bread which will nourish the community throughout the day for snack.

Challenged by Dr. Angeline Lillard in 2007 to make our Practical Life Area more practical, we seized the opportunity to utilize the young child’s budding independence, order, coordination, self-confidence and love of learning in a way that would fuel all developmental planes.

Regardless of age, race, gender or ability- you will find children gravitating towards the Slow Food Inspired Cooking Curriculum which links not only the program’s gardening, but also the areas of Math and Cultural Studies. Each child has the opportunity to cook every day, throughout the day, as long as an apron is available. If one is not, the child is welcome to watch the process nearby.

Cooking together can become much more than getting a bite to eat- watch as Ms. Jaime begins the morning bread baking routine:

In making bread together, we see evidence of all Eight Principles of Optimal Education described in Dr. Lillard’s research.

According her findings, learning occurs best when:

1. movement is linked with cognition,
2. children are interested in the topic,
3. extrinsic rewards are left out of the mix,
4. choice and control are offered to the child,
5. it is situated in meaningful contexts,
6. children are grouped in blended ages amongst their peers,
7. the environment is orderly with consistent routines and rituals, &
8. the adult guides in a firm and warm manner.

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.”
Plato

Picking Up the Baby

A video demonstration with the Primary Caregiver transitioning her infant from sleep to being on his own. Note the pace of the transition, how the baby’s spine is supported, and how she gently lays him on his back releasing his head last. All along, the infant is connected, supported, present and included in the process as he moves from one activity to the next.

“Physical Security Equates to Emotional Security.” -Anna Tardos