Friday, October 16, 2009


Flu Rules:

-No touching your face or picking your nose without first washing your hands. Adults touch their face an average of 18 times an hour (Today Show doctor) and children do it excessively more than that. This is the number one way that anyone will contract a contagion. Children will still do it, but you can help make it a more conscious act for them. If they KNOW or notice when they do it, they at least will have the choice to stop and wash their hands first or use something other than their hands, such as pulling their sleeve over their hand and rubbing with the top of that (most likely not contaminated by others) instead.

-Keep yourself to yourself. An adult’s cell phone is the most bacteria laced item in their world. Seconded by the pump on or bottle body of hand sanitizer and shopping cart handles. Keep these items surface sanitized. Don’t share pens and pencils. Use your own and keep them sanitized from surface contamination. If you lay one on the counter at the bank or the conference table at work, you can bet it is then contaminated with something. School age kids should beware of desk surfaces if they change classes or use communal work surfaces and keyboards. They should not share scissors or writing utensils. Little kids should be kept from wrestling with other kids and putting things in their mouth. Kiss your kids on the head, not the mouth or face, and try not to breathe on them. Ten day incubation period can hit you quick and you could spread something without even knowing.

-Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Using your hands actually spreads it more, especially with children.

-Create a bubble as much as you can. Our contamination world includes our family members (and their world) and home, our co-workers (and their world) and offices, the stores we visit and the public (and their world). Even if your child stays home, all of this can be brought to them. If your child goes to school, they are exposed to every other child’s world in an exponential manner. The health department here only recognizes 2 forms of surface disinfectant. Bleach solution and Clorox Wipes. Ask your child’s teacher to disinfect surfaces between classes. If your child attends something like ballet, where the children are all sharing a barr surface, ask the instructor to disinfect it and have all children wash their hands thoroughly before beginning classes. At home, keep door handles, faucets and work surfaces sterilized. If your child develops symptoms, wash toys in a bleach solution or washer. Keep anyone who shows the slightest symptoms segregated from everyone else. Use hand sanitizer before entering your car EVERY TIME to create a barrier between home and public places, before entering your child’s school or daycare, touching your child, and wash everyone’s hands thoroughly every time you get home. If your child goes to an older school that doesn’t have hands-free technology, teach them to use their elbow or a towel to flush toilets, turn off faucets, etc.

-Create a bubble 2…KEEP YOUR KIDS HOME!!! Yes they have to go to school (unfortunately – 150 kids are currently out of our local elementary school with flu symptoms). That’s it. If you have to go anywhere public, try to keep your kids at home with someone else while you go to the grocery store, Blockbuster, Target, etc. ESPECIALLY places like Walgreens, WalMart or anywhere with a pharmacy. SICK PEOPLE PURPOSEFULLY GO THERE. Beware ball pits, public play areas, Chucky Cheese, etc. I saw a WalMart picture that had a baby carrier in a cart with a note on it that said, "DO NOT TOUCH BABY." This is actually a good idea. They also shouldn't breathe on it. Remember that people are coughing into their elbows! How do people hold babies? In the crook of their elbows! NO!!! Before anyone holds a baby, they need to have a blanket or other barrier between them and the baby's head. Remember also that hand sanitizer can harm young children and infants, this needs to be washed off before letting any baby gnaw on your finger (not that this is a good idea anyway). Always keep hand sanitizer out of children's reach.

-Daycare Centers. Bedding should be kept separated. Kids should have a particular place at a table that no one else sits at. Hand washing should be constant and for 20 seconds (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Birthday Song, ABC Song) with warm water and soap over all surfaces and between fingers. Disinfection should be excessive. Children should be discouraged from touching each other and touching their faces. ASK about policies and procedures that may affect your child. Toddlers should be segregated from babies and older children due to their excessive sharing and mouthing of toys. They are the ones most likely to get sick and pass it on. If you are not comfortable with your center’s efforts, ask if you can bring sanitized toys and bedding from home. Children should be required to wash their hands immediately upon arrival. Parents should not be allowed in the children areas without sanitizer or washing hands.


Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
  • about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), are at increased risk for serious complications from seasonal flu illness.

This flu season, scientists believe that a new and very different flu virus (called novel 2009 H1N1) may cause a lot more people to get sick than during a regular flu season. It also may cause more hospital stays and deaths than regular seasonal flu. More information about the new H1N1 flu is available here.

How Flu Spreads

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Seasonal Flu?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting seasonal flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get a seasonal flu vaccination each year include:

  1. Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  2. Pregnant women
  3. People 50 years of age and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
    1. Health care workers
    2. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    3. Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reading Readines

Quotes in this article are taken from with the article having permission provided by Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst, Ph.D., Director, Institute of Education Sciences, US Dept. of Ed. Please view the article directly for detailed information. This is an overview of the article and the process explained within it.

As an early childcare provider I consider my greatest gifts to the children in my care to be:
-Self Control
-Self Confidence
-Love and Desire for Learning
-Logic and Reasoning Skills

With these in place, they are prepared for life. They can learn ANYTHING. They can be successful in any social situation. However of these, reading is the one skill, that if they have that basically down when they enter kindergarten, puts them far ahead in life.

In a training I attended one of the main things they pointed out was, "Over a third of children in the US enter school unprepared to learn. They lack the vocabulary, sentence structure, and other basic skills that are required to do well in school. Children who start behind GENERALLY STAY BEHIND - they drop out, they turn off. Their LIVES ARE AT RISK." (all caps my emphasis)

As parents and educators, it is being brought out that the No Child Left Behind policy in the elementary school system is TOO LATE. Preparation for success in today's world starts around 9 months of age. This doesn't mean that we start pushing children from an early age to learn things beyond their capabilities. It means - we begin to ENGAGE CHILDREN IN THEIR WORLD and expand their paradigms.

Every time a child takes a physical leap, they take a cognitive leap. They start crawling, they are no longer focused upon their little play area, but upon everything they can get to that is about a foot high. They start pulling up, that focus expands by another two foot high. They start climbing, and it broadens further. Each time, they experience fear. Because their concept of the world just got bigger and unknown. It isn't what they knew, what they were comfortable with.

Reading does that for preschoolers. It expands their world and their knowledge and is a rush for their imagination and cognitive skills.

"No one can learn to play the piano just by listening to someone else play. Likewise, no one can learn to read just by listening to someone else read. Children learn most from books when they are actively involved."

Parents who actively read to their children do many, if not all, of the activities below. However, even as an educator, I have not done it INTENTIONALLY, METHODICALLY, with specific outcomes identified and assessed. The methodology is called Dialogic (Interactive) Reading. It has been extensively researched and proven to be the best way to read WITH young children for the most benefit to their reading readiness and comprehension ability. A 2nd grader may be reading at a 6th grade level by word, but be totally unable to comprehend and analyze what they have read. Reading words is not understanding. True reading requires both and they should be taught together from the beginning. A quick overview is that the adult:
  • Prompts the child to say something about the book,
  • Evaluates the child's response
  • Expands the child's response by rephrasing and adding information to it, and
  • Repeats the prompt to make sure the child has learned from the expansion.
The process involves 3 readings of an age-appropriate book with a day or two between readings. The 3 readings progress in child interaction and complexity in very specific ways in a very specific sequence to get the most out of the book.

This process is presented in detail in the article 16287?theme=print. I strongly urge every parent and teacher of a child up to 3rd grade to check out this article and to take it's practices to heart.

Additionally, a one-page reading Tips for Parents for your child's specific age can be found at

Reading Rockets is a wonderful website and they have an on-line newsletter and a ton of information for parents and educators to help teach children to read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lying (repeated in Discipline)

Lying is not cognitively active until the age of 8. At age 6 you can begin to start your child questioning their statements, such as "Is that real or make-believe?" Until the age of 6, lying is simply wishful thinking/story telling. The child does not have control over it. They do it because they truly want it to be the way they say, to keep out of trouble, or to make you happy. They will also alter their thought processes so that they ACTUALLY BELIEVE that is what happened. Once again, you can not punish a child for something they have no control over. Lying is NOT LYING until age 6-8. Let it go. However, there does need to be an appropriate response to inappropriate behavior. "There are crayon marks on the wall, so the crayons have to be in time-out for a week." (denied writing on wall) "Your friend is crying because you were not a nice friend, so you have to go into time-out." (denied pushing/hitting/taking toy) Story telling, "I have a pet lion," should simply be encouraged. "Really, what color is he? Does he eat a lot of meat?" Imaginary friends, etc. should be thoughtful encouraged as your child explores their emerging imagination and learns the intricacies of using it in all it's many colors. One of these is the black and white thing that adults view as lying.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunscreen Allergies

Uncommon but not rare, allergic reactions to sunscreen ingredients can happen, and I have a child that is allergic to some ingredient in sunscreen. His face breaks out in a rash. We are trying some with alternate ingredients to see which one doesn't have whatever he is allergic to. Some children have been reported as having severe allergic reactions with large hives and blistered rashes.

"Over the past 20 years, the dangers of sun exposure have been recognized, from sun-damaged skin to skin cancer. As a result, the use of sunscreens has become a routine part of our daily lives. This has led to various allergic reactions to the chemicals found in sunscreens. Most of these allergic reactions represent contact dermatitis."

Birthmark Warning/Neurofibromatosis

I just happened to have the Today show on late one day, not paying attention, until it finally registered what they were talking about. The parents were discussing the little girl's disease, neurofibromatosis. It is a common disease, 1 in 3000 children, that it seems nearly no one has heard about. It has severity from so mild a person doesn't know they have it (and are a carrier) to severe. They said the first sign was the presence of brownish "birthmarks" by the age of 2 called "cafe au laits." That up to 3 was normal, more than 3 they needed to keep an eye on, and more than 5 were a nearly positive indication that the child had the disease. The show had been discussing how the little girl's marks looked like ladybug spots. I still wasn't paying much attention. Then they said that they could be pretty much any size or shape.

My mother and I just happened to have been discussing one of my 2yo childcare kids' large jagged-edged birthmarks and how he had gotten more over the last year, so it was fresh in my mind. I ran over to him and pulled the top of his diaper down. The 3 "birthmarks" on his tummy, now had two additional showing up below them, and another one was on his knee. He had 6 cafe au lait marks. His parents got on it immediately and have a referral from an optomologist, since the disease causes nodes to form on the eyes around 3, and a dermatologist to set base lines. They are also thinking about genetic testing, but aren't sure of the need, since he shows the signs and there is no cure or preventative measures to take.

If your child, or one that you know, has brownish birthmarks, you may want to check out the internet information on this disease and discuss the possibility with your pediatrician. It is also important to have a child,s eyes checked at 3, as this will also show progression if the disease is there.


When I first began doing childcare, I used Ready-Set-GO! I realized at some point that this was a finite sequence with no expansion opportunity or relationship to our learning objectives. I changed it to 1-2-3!

1-2-3 is the fundamental building block of math, and reinforces the A-B-C of reading. It teaches the rule of sequence/order. Even the 1YOs "get" 1-2-3!

I expand this by changing the number, having the children take turns choosing the number (up to 20 because they like million and trillion), and giving them the option of count down rather than count up, always stating that we go on zero. Now a 5 minute game of back and forth racing a few times a week reinforces several concepts at several cognitive levels in a fun way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Toilet Teaching

Signs of readiness in your child:
Stays dry for a few hours at a time.
Understands words like potty, wet and dry.
Participates in dressing and undressing.
Follows simple directions.
Appears to know he is about to go.

Preparing your child:
Teach child the words for bathroom functions and body parts.
Allow child to observe others using the toilet and explain the steps involved.
Have child assist in dressing and undressing
Read child books, watch videos about toilet learning.
Get a potty chair/toilet topper and explain that it is his/her chair.

Changing from diapers to pants:
Transition all toileting activities to the bathroom. Stop using a changing table. Keep all toileting items within child’s reach and have him/her responsible for getting them and using them to their ability.

Have child wear loose-fitting training pants and clothing. This is not the time for a lot of buttons, zippers and overalls. S/he needs pull-and-go clothing.

Provide reminders to go to the potty, and don’t ask if s/he needs to go potty the answer will usually be no, even if s/he does. Use a timer and take child in regularly every 2 hours. Encourage dry pants.

Be sensitive to child’s fear, if any, of flushing.

Place poop into the toilet every time out of the Pull-Up (or diaper) and have child flush it to build an understanding of that is where it belongs.

Practice the entire process with a doll or stuffed animal if the child shows interest.

Keep wipes, Pull-Ups/underwear, and clothing changes where the child can reach them independently. The child should be able to change a wet Pull-Up by him/herself and encouraged and allowed to do so.

Expect accidents and be relaxed about them, helping the child to clean up and change clothing to the best of their ability with your follow-up. Make the child responsible for their own toileting. Toilet training is the first thing that s/he has complete control over and will or will not use that control. Don’t shame or punish.

Begin when family environment is calm, without new or upsetting events, such as new baby, new job, a move or holidays.

It is hard for a child to stop an activity to go potty. Follow a not so desirable activity (potty) by a desirable activity (story, outside).

Make it a given that before going to bed, going out to play, leaving the house in the car, eating, etc., everyone goes potty and washes their hands, including the potty training child. Then it becomes routine, something that will need to happen anyway once the child is potty trained. Build in time for this routine.

Make it a routine that the child is sat on the potty immediately after waking up. S/he usually will need to go at that time and will learn to hold it until you get him/her there. This is non-negotiable. Leave the child there with a toy or book until s/he goes. If the child gets up, return him/her to the potty. This is the one time of the day that you can guarantee they have to go, and provides the perfect, consistent scenario to establish that this is what we do now, absolutely every morning, no matter what. Consistency is key!

Children know that Pull-Ups are the same as diapers. I have seen potty trained children suddenly go in their pants when placed back into a Pull-Up. Why make the effort to go to the potty when they can comfortably go where ever they are and keep doing what they want to do?
The reasons for moving from diapers to Pull-Ups are to utilize the feel-and-learn aspect many of them have now so that they can feel some wetness when they go, and to learn the behaviors of pulling the pants up and down to go. The wetness aspect can also be achieved by placing a strip of paper towel into the diaper at every change.

Once you transition to Pull-Ups and again to underwear, do not go back to diapers! Using Pull-Ups at night after transitioning to underwear is fine.

When the child is transitioned to Pull-Ups, act as if they are underwear when changing the child. Have them stand up and bend over to be wiped down and wipe with toilet paper for poop, placing it in the toilet. Do not have them lay down to be changed.

Once the child shows a good understanding of potty training, the most effective thing you can do is to transition to 5-ply training pants with plastic pants over them. You will need many sets at first. This is a messy process but highly effective. It is a huge wake up call to a child when they feel that soaking wetness all over themselves.

A good activity for quick results is to have a potty boot camp. By taking two consecutive days and devoting them to potty training your child. This is the time to give him/her all the juice, kool-aid or other coveted beverage s/he can drink and loading them up with it. Camp out in the bathroom (hopefully tile) with books and toys, or somewhere else in the house or outside in a tent with a plastic drop cloth underneath and a potty chair or toilet topper at the ready.
In the beginning, offer incentives and hold potty parties for their accomplishments. As success is gained, transition to celebrating new skills, such as staying dry, asking to go, or pooping in the toilet.

Before making the decision to potty train, ensure that all care providers are equally committed to the process. If you decided that, “Oh, it’s vacation time and we don’t really want to mess with it this week,” then your child will regress. This is a huge control issue for your child and you must be committed to making it work for your child or it can lead to feelings of shame, inadequacy, frustration, fear, and confusion, rather than empowerment and pride.

Remember that this is a skill. It takes time for the concepts and steps to come together, and it takes practice to build the muscle memory necessary for success.

Girls are born with the physical ability to be potty trained. Boys are not. Boys develop the muscles necessary to control their bladder usually by the age of three. However, it is not uncommon for these muscles to not develop within this time frame, or to not develop fully at all. That is why there are thirteen-year-old boys who still wet the bed. Please keep this in mind if you have a boy to toilet train. If there are continuous problems, it may be that they are physically unable to be potty trained at this time. Especially at night when the muscles relax.
Nighttime dryness and pooping in the toilet may follow much later than daytime dryness.

Good books:
Everyone Poops
I’m a Big Kid Now

Good Websites: