Anchor each child’s day around a primary caregiver.
- Why? Young children need an anchor on whom they rely for reassurance, guidance, and basic care. When there is one adult specifically attuned to them the children experience trust and reduced frustration, thus more time and energy for growth and development.
- Under Threes: We assign caregivers to the same children as much as possible, but with parents having the ability to schedule varying times of attendance it becomes impossible at all times. For the times it doesn’t work for a child to have their primary caregiver (due to varied child attendance or staff absence) we arrange for someone else in the care-giving team to serve in that role. Since the team consistently works together with the same group of children all are familiar with the various needs and likes of each child and therefore the child can experience normalcy.
- Over Threes: As children grow we move towards maintaining a consistent care giving team with less emphasis on primary care-givers. As always, we make sure that staff communicates constantly in order that the individual needs of children are met.
Create small groups of children with caregiver teams.
- Why? Smaller group size makes it easier for adults to be in tune with the needs and wants of the children they are responsible for. It also makes the environment feel less threatening for children thus fewer conflicts and happier children.
- Under Threes: When it comes to class size balancing what is best for children and what the center needs financially is very important. We strive to maintain a steady 12 children in the Green, Light Green, and Light Blue rooms and a steady 16 children in the Blue room, but with ever changing attendance that number is often less and sometimes more. We work hard to accept enrollment in a way that makes numbers of children for each room as consistent as possible.
- Over Threes: As with Under Threes we continually strive to keep enrollment at a level where there is enough, yet not too many children. Group size is larger for Over Threes children with numbers varying from hour to hour, day to day, and week to week. Our goal is that we never exceed 23 with Yellow and Red rooms and 25 with Purple and School-Squad, and if our numbers get close to that we often split up and make use of our spill-over areas.
Keep children and caregivers together from year to year.
- Why? It can be traumatic for children to suddenly have to get used to new care providers, especially at ages of heightened separation anxiety. When children have the security of a consistent provider they can better channel their energy into growth and development. We also find that it makes for more consistent daily routines and problem-solving rituals.
- Under and Over Threes: The diagram in this brochure demonstrates how children have the same care-giving team for a 3-year period and how they move through the 8 different rooms in our facility.
Arrange caregivers’ schedules around children’s needs.
- Why? Young children need their lives to be consistent more so than do adults. Scientific research shows that secure surroundings during the first years of a child’s life helps to properly wire their brain for learning.
- Under and Over Threes: Each week we determine staff schedules based on the projected attendance of children. This means that we hire staff that can tolerate a flexible work schedule and we don’t mix care-giving teams between rooms unless absolutely necessary. We feel this is right for both children and their parents. They deserve to see consistent caregivers each time they come into the room. It is key to providing quality childcare.
Tell children and parents about caregiver absences.
- Why? Dealing with change is easier when the information is clear and acknowledging the needs of others is part of a strong parent-staff-child relationship.
- Under Threes: Primary caregivers visit with parents upon arrival so they are aware of who is taking over for the child’s care-giving and they document happenings for each child on their daily chart.
Over Threes Care-giving teams visit with parents daily to inform them of any staff changes. The children are made aware of staff comings and goings at Message Board Time.
Have primary caregivers record observations of their children.
- Why? Every parent and take-over staff person deserves to know of the recent events of their children. It equips them to better meet children’s wants and needs.
- Under Threes: We record each child’s eating, sleeping, and diapering patterns and write comments about the children’s emotional and social events of the day.
- Over Threes: In the Yellow Room we write a short narrative on each child’s day so that parents can be made aware of their individual events. We also offer optional annual Parent-Provider Conferences for all children.
When does a group of children and staff transition into a new room?
Children and staff move from room to room in approximate 8-month intervals. Parents are informed of the declared date at least 2 weeks in advance and all rooms move at the same time. On Friday they will be in one room and the next Monday they and all their personal belongings will be in the next room. It’s really quite exciting!