First Impressions

The Impact of the First Impression

Posted by: Rhonda April 25, 2017

“As soon as I walked into this center I thought, ‘This is amazing. I love it. Please can I pay the deposit right now?’ I just had a feeling about it.”

This experience of a parent looking for child care, may sound similar to what families tell you as they search for the right place for their child. They often talk about it “feeling right.” Two facilities may have the same toys and a similar layout, yet parents say they had a feeling that one was a better fit for their family and their child. Research confirms that regardless of how a center is found, it is often this “feeling” parents experience as they tour a facility that is fundamental in choosing to enroll their child.

You may only have one opportunity to show your facility to a potential family. The first meeting is a vital time to establish that feeling of “rightness.” How can you get the most out of this initial contact? Read more from this article by Kay Albrecht and Margaret Banks.



Why We Must Return to Kindergarten

Posted by: Rhonda April 18, 2017

What has happened to kindergarten? How did we go from the “garden of children” to the “new first grade”?

Two centuries ago, in a moment of inspiration, Friedrich Froebel combined the German words for children and garden to illustrate his revolutionary approach to early childhood education—kindergarten. He envisioned a fertile environment where young children blossom and grow into creative, free-thinking individuals. Through meticulous observations he arrived at the conviction that a child’s natural play and exploration is the primary mode for learning.

Sadly, this children’s garden has now become the bottom rung on the pressure-packed, test-driven, educational ladder. Focusing on inappropriate academic achievements truncates children’s opportunities for natural growth and development. For the future of childhood it is critical that we look back and see how far kindergarten has come from its radical origin. How can play be restored to this important year of a child’s life? Read this article.

Rain Gauge

Making a Rain Gauge

Posted by: Rhonda April 11, 2017

Kids learn best through direct experiences. At this time of year, one factor that greatly affects any experience is the weather! Constantly changing, spring weather generates opportunities for conversations, questions, and investigations that are immediately relevant to a child’s life.

Originally, I planned to do a post on windy day activities. However, unlike other gusty springs, this year we seemed to have day after day of cold, rainy weather! So, instead of flying kites and making wind socks, our PreK class stomped in puddles and created rain gauges. Learning about weather requires that you drop prepackaged plans and respond to whatever comes!  

By using a clear plastic bottle you can make a simple rain gauge. If you calibrate it carefully, it can actually take quite accurate readings. Find the instructions here.

For more inspiration on how to make use of wet weather, check out 10 Rainy Day Activities.

Outlast in Rain

Outdoor Play—Rain or Shine!

Posted by: Rhonda March 28, 2017

Don’t let a bit of spring rain dampen the prospects of outdoor play. The Forest Kindergartens of Europe claim that “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.” Dress your kids (and yourself) in appropriate gear and head outside—rain or shine.

Outlast products are designed to be used outdoors, whatever the weather. If it’s raining you can make use of the abundant water source by creating a mud kitchen like these two young British students.

Watch this short video showing the play possibilities that outdoor blocks can provide.  View now.


Hands-On Learning

Posted by: Rhonda March 21, 2017

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – attributed to W.B. Yeats

The current emphasis on reading skills and test scores causes many preschool programs to fixate on “filling the pail”, or striving to reach specific, predetermined benchmarks. But is this really how children learn best? Will this really prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century?

Nurturing exploration, problem solving, risk-taking, and curiosity in the early years of childhood can kindle a life-long passion for learning. Although it may be messier and more difficult to quantify than a standards-based curriculum, a hands-on approach to education is the best foundation for a child’s future. 

“Hands-on experiences teach children concepts, but more importantly, they empower children to be problem solvers and critical thinkers, equipped with the tools to cope with the inevitable challenges and idiosyncrasies of life,” writes Lauren Maples in this inspiring article. Continue reading.