Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish


Risk Taking

Posted by tarastoyland on September 7, 2019 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

 Do you remember climbing a tree when you were younger? I used to climb to the top of the maple tree in our front yard, trying to go higher than the house, then I would sit up there and read my book for hours.  I loved being that high up, feeling the breeze and being alone.  I didn't even think of it as risky honestly, it was how I grew up and even though my brother had broken both his arms falling from a tree when I was a toddler, I still considered it a normal non-risky activity. Later when I was a grown up my husband and I loved going for hikes in the forest and always felt trees were just a part of our lives.  When we moved to this house one of the first things we did was plant trees.  When the trees and kids got big enough it was only natural to let them climb the trees.  It wasn't until the internet chat groups became a thing and someone was horrified that I let the kids climb the tree that I even thought of it as a risky activity.  Yes of course you had to learn how to do it and pay attention to safety rules but risky?  It made me think if I was putting the children at risk.  I always prided myself on having a safe environment. 

So, I evaluated the safety of tree climbing. I made sure the kids didn't do it until they themselves could pull their own body up into the tree, that showed they had the arm strength to climb a tree.  I made sure they understood to only step on branches that were alive and thicker than their wrist to eliminate the risk of a branch not holding their weight. I made sure they understood to keep 3 things touching the tree at a time (arm, leg, etc.). I made sure they understood how to get down on their own without help.  I didn't let them climb without spotting until I felt they were doing it properly.  I just naturally did those things.  It turns out I was do a risk value evaluation.  I could make it a tiny bit safer if I put rubber mulch under each climbing tree so if they did fall they would be cushioned but have decided that the possibility of risk is very small and not warranted to have the mulch. Climbing a tree gives the children so much enjoyment, confidence and confirmation of their own strength that I am not going to stop.  I went to a conference on nature play this summer and it turns out I'm doing the right thing!  The presenter had done a doctorate study on tree climbing and found the accident rate lower than a whole bunch of other things that people don't bat an eye at.

Like I said, I pride myself in having a safe environment.  But we do "risky" things. I teach the kids how to use sharp knives, we do science experiments with fire, we go on field trips and a whole bunch of other things that I have learned some people consider risky. I naturally teach them in a manner that is conveying to the children how to use those things safely.  Doing a science experiment with birthday candles on metal trays with a glass of water right there is less risky than blowing out a birthday candle on a cake.  I am controling the eliments of risk and making sure the kids understand why we are taking those precautions.  And studies prove that taking controlled risks gives the children a higher degree of self regulation, responsibility and body awareness.  It's nice to have science backing up my well, science experiment. 

HOW do you go about getting them to sleep or stay asleep?

Posted by tarastoyland on September 3, 2019 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Overtired Children - When a child is overtired they don't act sleepy, instead they get hyper. For a baby they will get VERY crabby and cry. Each child has a "window" of time when they will easily fall asleep. If you miss the signs and miss that window of time you are going to have a very difficult time getting the child to calm down. Often if a parent has a hard time getting a child to sleep the key is to make bedtime EARLIER so they don't miss that prime sleep window.

So, you know kids need sleep, and lots of it, but HOW do you go about getting them to sleep?

INFANTS - I believe in the Baby Whisperer's EASY method for a schedule, and the Happiest Baby on the Block 5 s's method. Those two combined will make cio not be a needed thing (at that age)

EASY - when the baby wakes up it Eats. After you feed it, then it has Activity - bouncy seat, tummy time, sitting up and playing with toys, swing, exersaucer, etc. When the baby gets fussy check the B's - boredom, butt or burp. If it's none of those then off to Sleep. Don't wait for the baby to do more than get the tiniest bit fussy, then see what is causing the fusses - if it's just that they needed their diaper change do that, but if it's not the activity is boring, the butt is dirty or they have to burp, then put them down. This may happen after as short as 45 minutes, don't freak, it really means they are tired.

Now, to get them to sleep use the 5 s's. Swaddle the baby, hold the baby on their side and sway as they suck on something (paci, your knuckle or their finger/thumb) and make a shush noise. This will calm your baby. When the baby is calm, but not asleep yet, keeping them swaddled lay them in the bed. I like to pat them instead of sway after a minute or two cause you can still pat after they are put down but you can't sway, so pat the baby and continue patting gradually decreasing it as you put them in the bed. Also continue the shushing as you put them down, again gradually getting quieter.

If you do these two you will find a well rested, easily managed baby in no time. If a baby wakes before 1 1/2 hours then wait ten minutes before going in, most babies settle in that time period and go right back to sleep on their own.

Older Children - unfortunately if you didn't do the above before about 9 months old you may be in for a harder job. First you have to have the right environment - a DARK room, music on continuous play, sometimes a fan is needed in addition to the music, no distractions, naps not being optional, and a consistent schedule. To create a dark room I put the scratchy part of velcro on the window frame then I take black felt and have it cut so it is 12 inches wider and taller then the window opening. Double the felt up so even on the sunniest day the room is dark. (The reason for this is because our body needs darkness in order to reach deep sleep.) Other things to do -- dim electronics (I cut pieces of window cling car shades and put it over the display), remove TVs from bedrooms (A report from July 2011 states that preschoolers who watch TV in their room took a longer time falling asleep and woke up more drowsy in the morning. Additionally, children who spent only 30 minutes of screen time viewing before bed were 28% more likely to have sleep difficulties compared to 19% who had no screen time), and most of all, set an early bedtime. Most children have a built in alarm clock so I believe a 7 pm bedtime is needed to make sure they get enough sleep. This makes sure you don't miss the window of sleep and that the child will get the 12 hours a night they need.

Some children are particularly difficult and cry it out may be needed. Other children may fight staying in their bed. For these children you can do a few things. You can do the Super Nanny method where you keep putting kids back to bed immediately when they get out without any interaction or emotion and slowly moving farther and farther away from the bed. Another method you can use is removing all the stuff from the room except the bed. This means no toys, no books and no lights. You may have to even turn the knob around after a bit. (Don't freak out about this knob turning around thing - but think about this - if you are asleep do you want your child to be able to have free reign of the house? If there is a fire don't you want your child to be IN their room where you can get them instead of trying to escape? If they can reach the knob and lock it, wouldn't it be better for them not to lock themselves in the room so you can't reach them?). If you have been rocking or laying down next to the child you can do a slow transition - so hold her but don't rock tonight, then after a few nights of that, hold her in her bed, then move farther away each night until you are no longer the thing needed to put her to sleep.

If all that still fails, try eliminating milk from their diet. There was a study done in 2001 that showed that the majority of preschool sleep problems were a hidden milk allergy. For my experience with this, read my story below.


I have had some failure in the sleep department as a mom. I thought that it was SO easy. After all when I had worked in daycare centers I just patted backs, kids slept and nap time lasted 2 hours every single day. When I babysat I put the kids in their beds after reading them a story, and told them to sleep and they did. Maybe once or twice I had to lie next to a kid for a few minutes, or pat a back, but overall - super easy.

Then I had Tara. She was sick from 2 weeks old until 10 months old. Almost the whole time. Hard to get a kid to sleep through the night when they are coughing from RSV. Then she was failure to gain weight. She literally lost weight if she went 8 hours without drinking/eating. So we had doctor's orders to feed her if she woke up. By the time she was two I was ready to force the issue, her weight had steadied and I was ready. But the habit was there. She went to sleep great but would wake 2 to 20 times a night. Most nights much closer to 20. Right before she turned 3 we sold out townhouse but our house in Plainfield wasn't built yet so we lived like nomads for three months. Hard to ask her to sleep through the night when we were never in the same house for more then a few weeks. Then Elise was born..

See how the years of bad sleep happen? It snowballs, and becomes habit. By the time she was 3 1/2 I was at my wit's end. I could not survive much longer with two kids not sleeping through the night. So, I started researching sleep. The solution for Elise was solving her colic with a chiropractor visit and two nights of sleeping in the farthest corner of the house from her so I didn't hear her crying. For Tara it ended up that she had a hidden milk allergy. There had been a study done in 2001 that showed that the majority of preschool sleep problems are really hidden milk allergies. I took milk out of her diet two weeks before she turned 4. By the end of the first week she started sleeping through the night. Six solid nights of 13 hour sleeps had me wondering if it were just a fluke. So I overloaded her with milk products that sixth day - cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream was her diet. She was up six times that night. Took all the milk things away again and we had a great night time sleeper. We found that two glasses of milk or milk after noon caused night time waking and we finally had solid nights of sleep for everyone in the house.

So, the moral of this story is that sleep training is hard. Some things I learned over the years by being a parent or daycare provider and some I learned with my research when I had problems with my own children.

A Sick Policy that makes sense

Posted by tarastoyland on July 7, 2016 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I let sick kids come to daycare. Fever? Just tell me when you dosed them up with and what you gave them. Rash? No problem. Pink Eye? Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease? Bring them. I do not care. The only thing I exclude for is vomiting and diarrhea. For those I am super strict because a child with those needs extra attention, I don't want to have to clean it up and they spread very quickly so sending a child home can keep others from getting it.  (I also spray bleach water on every surface in the house after a case of vomiting/diarrhea)  

I know this sick policy isn't for every parent. One time I was interviewing and it was going great until I got to explaining this and the parent stopped the interview, said that was a deal breaker and left. Like in half a minute, she was gone. I get it. Especially as a new parent, you feel like you want a "sterile" enviornment.

I am sure she was reassured by the next place she interviewed that they were strict on their sickness policy.  And they may have tried to be, but most daycare sick policies don't make much sense in reality, or aren't followed by the parents.  My classic example happened at a daycare center I worked at when I was right out of college.  I was in the 4 year old room and after lunch a boy asked me if it was noon.  I said it was almost and he pulled out a little purple child's chewable tylenol and said, "Mommy said to chew this at noon."  I took the pill from him and got the thermometer - he had a temp over 103 degrees!  The parents had done the "dope and drop" as we call it in the business.  They have an important meeting and can't stay home so they give Johnny a dose of motrin right before drop off, that gives them about 5 1/2 hours before it wears off, so that gets them to lunch time, if the teacher doesn't notice before the child goes down for nap then the parent gets another 2 hours of work in before they are called.  This gets them to at least 2:30 pm, almost a whole work day!  Meanwhile that child has been infecting everyone, been miserable and probably been reprimanded for various things that they did since they weren't feeling very good.  The parent is called, they keep the kid home one more day and then 2 days later half the class is sick with the same thing.

Another sick policy is excluding for rashes.  Before about 2000 the chicken pox vaccine was not in use so that was the most common rash.  And you had to keep the child home for up to 2 weeks while the sores healed and scabbed over.  The thing is that child was contagious for TEN DAYS BEFORE a single spot showed up.  I learned this when my first daycare girl had about 8 spots in her diaper region.  She was almost 2 years old as was my daughter.  Both of them had their first Chicken Pox shot 5 months earlier, but these sure looked like chicken pox.  I told her parents to give her a warm bath and if more popped up then we would know it was chicken pox.  Nothing more showed up, so we forgot about it for the most part.  Until exactly 10 days later when my daughter woke up from her afternoon nap with the same types of spots.  She had spent the morning playing in the pool with the other daycare kids, so they were all very exposed at that point.  More spots popped out as the hours passed.  She eventually ended up with about 75 spots in all.  Since everyone was exposed  by both the daycare girl and now my child there was no reason to keep them away.  No one else got them.   And if they had I would have let them come.

This is when it hit me that my home daycare sick policy would be different than most.

You would think that I would have lots of sick kids all the time but in reality my daycare seems to have less sickness than others.  And amazingly usually things don't spread.  There was ONE time in the last 16 years that pink eye spread.  And that time no one would have excluded the child who was the first case.  He looked like he had a bad allergy day, his eyes were puffy and irritated looking but not the whites of them, more of the outside facial part like his eyelids and the bags under his eyes.  That night, it was a Friday, his mom was feeding him and his brother dinner and she went to refill his milk cup.  When she came back both boys had red, goopy, extreme pink, eyes.  It was that fast.  By Saturday afternoon all 6 daycare boys had it!  Even if I had been strict it wouldn't have mattered.

That is what I have found to be true with most things.  Either it doesn't spread or it spreads in a way that it is obvious exclusion would not have mattered.

So, my parents bring sick kids.  And the best part is I know about it.  I can watch for an extra crabby attitude and know it's illness related so I react in kind.  I can keep the sick child away from babies.  We know to hand sanitize more often.  I know what to watch for in the rest of the group and I can tailor my day to accomidate the health needs of the group.  Parents don't need to miss work for a fever.  They don't lie to me, there is no need to hide a fever after all.  No reason to "dope and drop".  No trying to play doctor and say the fever is from "teething" or that the rash is "just mosquito bites" (in January, yep, I heard that when I worked in centers).  And if other kids get it?  Well, that's ok too, because they can come with it too.  

For Diarhea they have to stay home until they are 24 hours diarrhea free AND have had one solid bowel movement. For vomiting they need to be 24 hours vomit free AND hold down TWO (2) meals before they can return. I also do reserve the right to exclude for any thing I am deem they need to stay home for. In the past this has been a child doubled over in pain because of constipation, a child who's breathing was just really off and ragged, and a few other similar things.

Art - process or product or both?

Posted by tarastoyland on August 1, 2015 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I love art.  I actually was an art teacher at a school for two years.  I have a minor in art and an art education endorsement.   I love to do art, I love to look at (most) art, I love how there are great stories behind famous art, I love to do artsy things.  

I also firmly believe that art can be used to teach almost every concept there is in early childhood education.  It can tie the curriculum together, it can make all the parts of a lesson become solidly formed in the child's mind.

In the early childhood field there is a debate on what is the way to teach art.  Or if it even should be "taught".  There are three camps usually in this discussion:

1. Art is when things look exactly like the teacher wants them to look.  The goal is to have the children learn how to follow directions and to make parents happy that their child is creating things and that the teacher is 'teaching".  The teacher cuts out all the needed pieces and shoes the children how to put those pieces down to create the desired end result.   Every art project looks the same when it is completed, just like the teachers. I personally call these "cookie cutter art" because they all look the same like cookies come off an assembly line all the same.  Personally there is very little children get out of this type of art.  There is a small place for this in the middle elementary grade levels where you are testing reading comprehension or listening skills but other then that they are nothing but time wasters.  I do not call these art.  They are crafts.  Crafts are where every project looks the same, art is unique and different.  The first creation is art, the copies are crafts.  This has no place in early childhood education in my opinion.  Occassionally I will be given a kit to make foam something or others and will help the children do it.  I tell the parents this is not art, this is my doing something and giving it to the children.  Because the children can not do it themselves usually.  I once had a boy who went to the public preschool for special education classes come home with this type of "art" - all nice glued perfectly when the child couldn't even hold a crayon - obviously there was NO learning going on, and he had nothing to do with the project at all.  It was purely a parent pleaser, and personally if I were the parent I would be the opposite of pleased.

2. Process art - This description is not mine - 

As you can see this is very free form.  Children are given supplies, they create.  I do let children use tape, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, etc. to do whatever they please during free play time.  Process art is all about letting the children discover what the materials can do and not interfering in any way, it is  art where the making of it is more important then the end product - the exploration, the freedom is what is essential.

3. Process art with a Product end -  There is a happy medium, it's not a hard thing to integrate -the children create unique things where they also learn skills and apply other subject area knowledge into their projects and have projects where the parents can recognize what is being taught.  This is the type of art I believe is best to do with preschoolers.  It allows for children to be creative, to do individual unique projects yet have something to take home that is worthy of being put on the fridge.  Pick a theme, any one, now pick something that has to do with that theme (fairy tales - sticks/straw/bricks, bean stalks/beans, crowns/jewels/swords) now pick an art material - paint, crayons, markers, glue/tape/staples, playdough - combine the two things in some manner, or just have them use any art material and then cut the end result into a theme based shape. Process art CAN be representative and still accomplish the goals of art. I was trained as an art teacher, there are reasons to do things that TEACH ART CONCEPTS and still are process art, you can have the end result match your theme, you can TEACH and do process art.   To teach them HOW to do a thing is just as important, no, MORE important then letting them just do whatever... in order to know how to go further with an art concept you need to be shown HOW to use that material. I teach when I do process art and it is STILL process art.  I also apply the lesson of the day to the art project.  When we learn about planets we may learn how to do balls out of playdough to be planets, and snakes out of playdough to be the rings on those planets.  When learning about flower parts we may use an actual flower as our paint brush.  Applying the theme into an art project allows all the subject areas to tie together.

How it works - In order to show how I take a lesson and make it into an art lesson I will show you projects done by the daycare children and I will describe how the process was done, what skills were taught and what lesson was reinforced. 

we were learning about outer space, we talked about how stars aren't really this shape but rather spheres like our sun.  That they were hot balls of gas, and since they were so far away we saw them as just points of light.  We sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, counted out stars and talked about how planets are spheres as well.  Then the children got to use small litle nails to push into the hole of the buttons and decorate the star or planet however they decided.  This worked on fine motor skills and while they were working we talked about the sizes of buttons they were using, the colors and when they were all done we counted how many buttons they had used.  Each child had a unique creation as you can see. 

This is crayon melting art. Each child picked out which crayons they wanted and which order to put them in.  After they had put them down in the order they wanted I hot glued them to the canvas.  then we used a hair dryer to melt the crayons.  While they were melting we talked about how the wax got hot and became a liquid.  When it got cold it became a solid again.  This was the xmas present for the parents.

The children painted paper plates that I had cut to be turkey shapes however they wanted to.  After they were done we added google eyes, wattles and beaks.  This day we had read turkey books, looked at pictures of real wild turkeys and learned some other facts about turkeys.

another turkey project we did that day - they painted a paper towel tube, I later cut it to look like a turkey.

we had been studying trees, to make these the children painted their arm and hand then put them onto the paper to be the trunk and branches.  Then they used different colored glues to glue down buttons.

We did these during our Halloween party, this was the first project we did with the nails and buttons and it is one they kept asking to do again which is why we did the stars and planets one.

We were talking about Halloween and how we go door to door saying trick or treat.  The kids were playing pretend trick or treating.  So I came up with this project - we talked about the shapes you see on houses - then I cut out those shapes and they created houses.  The love doing stickers too so I let them go wild with stickers too.   This was a group of 4 yr olds so I also was talking to them about realism - people have to walk on the ground, pumpkins don't just float in the air, bats and birds do go in the air.

We learned about plants, parts of a plant, read plant books, talked about seeds and leaves.  Then the children collected plants in the yard and we came inside and used them to paint with.  The next picture is using a huge leaf they found, I had them paint the leaf then we pressed a piece of paper onto the painted leaf.

I'll add more blog posts later featuring the art work the children create.  I try to do at least one project per day.

Toilet Learning

Posted by tarastoyland on May 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

My Philosophy - Potty training


     I fully believe in early training.  Since I do home daycare I have trained LOTS of kids, more then the Duggars,  so I have developed some opinions on the matter.  I try to start as soon as the child is able to sit  solidly.   At first I just have them sit often at set times, like when they wake, before or after we go outside,  after lunch, after nap.  The parent can sit them upon waking in the morning, before dinner an before bed.  Since I often run into people saying you have to wait till the child is ready I have researched this. I have found that lots of people ignore signs of readiness that happen between 14 and 18 months old thinking no child could possibly be ready that young. So the window is missed and the child gets in the habit of using their diaper and being " lazy".  Signs of readiness are not asking to go with words, a non verbal child can train successfully, but rather indication of a need and desire to sit on the potty.  This may include pulling at diaper area, leading you to the bathroom, taking off diaper, or visibly showing you they are uncomfortable after voiding.  

     In potty training you must remember that sleep dryness is different then awake dryness. There is a chemical that makes your body not pee or poop while you are sleeping. Some children do not get this chemical in their body until they are as old as 8 years old. So do not push sleeping dryness or expect it. Use a pull up/diaper until they are dry for a while.

      I did some research and found that "stool toileting refusal" has been linked to late training (Taubman 1997). "Of the 19 participating children who trained by 24 months, none refused to poop in the toilet. Only 4 of the 90 kids who finished training between 24 and 30 months were “refusers.” The vast majority of refusers (101) came from the remaining 373 kids who finished training after 30 months." Some children have more solid bowel movements then others that may require avoiding binding foods (breads, cheeses, bananas, rice, apples in any form) in order to prevent a problem arising. To read more about studies on this subject see future blog posts!

Potty Training Articles (NOT mine)

Posted by tarastoyland on May 20, 2015 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Early Potty Training Key to Success by, John K. Rosemond

What's it going to take for American parents to realize that just as it's far easier to house train a 4-month-old puppy than a one-year-old dog, it's far easier to toilet train a 20-month-old child than a 3-year-old? Fifty-four years ago, according to a study conducted at the time by Harvard University, nearly 90 percent of America's children had been successfully trained before they reached their second birthday. Today, courtesy of several decades of toilet-babble issuing primarily from pediatrician/author T. Berry Brazelton, parents wrongly think training a child under age two is psychologically harmful, if not impossible. So, they wait. And they wait. And they wait. They're waiting, they tell me, for their children to show some of Brazelton's "readiness signs," which he snatched out of the thinnest of air to make it appear that his "child-centered" (a euphemism for upside-down) recommendations were based on solid science. As a consequence of this waiting for the Godot of potties, children become ever more accustomed to and oblivious of letting go in their diapers.   When their parents finally make the attempt to entice them to use the potty, all manner of resistance develops, including a problem that was rare fifty-plus years ago but is ubiquitous today: refusing to use the toilet for bowel movements.Several weeks ago, a mother asked me for advice concerning her 4-year-old who was "absolutely refusing to poop in the potty." The child's resistance had been ongoing for some time and was associated with late training. Mom was obviously ready to pack it in and run away from home, so I went into my top-secret phone booth, changed into my Parentman costume, and gave Mom a set of instructions that have proved helpful to lots of other parents in the same fix:

Stop talking to your son about using the potty. Don't even ask "Do you want to try and poop in the potty today?" or other equally counterproductive questions. Get rid of the diapers, pull-ups, and all associated things and resolve to never use them again. Every day, right after your son eats a high fiber breakfast, gate him in the bathroom, naked from the waist down, and tell him his doctor said he has to stay there until he poops in the potty. Don't stay in the bathroom with him. Don't offer incentives, or even encouragements. After putting him in the bathroom, make yourself scarce. Simply tell your son to call you when he poops or if he needs help. Respond "coolly" to success, as if it's no big deal. Say no more than "That's good, you can come out now." Do not give a reward or even lots of praise. Gate him in the bathroom every day until he's having regular bowel movements in the potty. A week later, Mom wrote, "We have success." When she introduced the plan, the little guy cried and generally acted like he was being traumatized, but Mom stayed the course. "You will poop in the potty," she told him, and he did; and he has been ever since.  lesson: The mistake of late training is correctable, and my experience is that, as in this case, the correction usually takes less than a couple of weeks. But the wear and tear in the meantime!  Copyright 2009, John K. Rosemond


*About the Author: Rosemond has written nine best-selling parenting books and is one of America's busiest and most popular speakers, known for his sound advice, humor and easy, relaxed, engaging style. In the past few years, John has appeared on numerous national television programs including 20/20, Good Morning America, The View, Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, Public Eye, The Today Show, CNN, and CBS Later Today. 

Click here to visit Rosemond's Web site, www.rosemond.com



Toilet Training Success Stories by, John K. Rosemond

      I've said many, many times that letting a child older than 30 months soil and wet herself several times a day is an insult to the child's intelligence. Actually, I absolutely know, and historical evidence confirms, that it is easier to train a child at 20 months than it is to wait much past the child's second birthday.  (Ask yourself: Is it easier to house-train a 6-month-old puppy or a one-year-old dog?) As the age at which toilet-training begins has increased (by nearly a year in the last 50 years), so have toilet-training problems. In the mid-1950s, researchers at Harvard determined that nearly 90 percent of 24-month-olds in the USA had been successfully trained. That so many of today's 3-year-olds are still in diapers and "pull-ups" can only mean that today's kids aren't half as smart as kids were in my generation (and our parents never claimed we were gifted!). I am cheered, however, to learn that there are still intelligent children in the world, as evidenced by the following story: The mother of a 27-month-old reads a magazine article about "readiness signs" and noting that her son displays none of them, decides to toilet train him. Yes, you read that right. She correctly ascertained that the writer of said article was simply engaging in "parenting correctness." Mom promptly announced to her son that they had no more diapers; therefore, he would have to use a potty from then on. They went out together and bought a potty and big-boy nderwear. She writes, "I didn't hover, nor did I ask or remind him to use the potty. I was training him, not me. I was prepared for plenty of accidents, and figured each one would be a lesson in cause and effect. When he wet, I said something like 'Gosh! That looks uncomfortable. Let's get you changed.' I didn't force him to clean up by himself, or scold him. I just responded matter-of-factly. He got stickers to put on the potty and some mild praise each time he was successful, but not a party." Three days later, the child was accident-free. His mother thought she'd been lucky, but has since had the same experience with two subsequent children, none of whom have, she admits, "gifted and talented bladders." Her third child, a girl, insisted upon using the potty at 18 months. Mom was a bit skeptical, but had another accident-free child within three days. Several weeks later, the parents decided to have her use the big toilet. Since she couldn't get up on her own, Mom or Dad had to help. Eighteen months later, the child was still demanding assistance, and the parents were still helping. Enough is enough, they decided.Mom demonstrated how to attach the potty seat to the big toilet and mount it using a stepstool. Mom then told the child that there would be no more help, even if she became hysterical. Mom also informed her daughter that if she wet herself she would clean the mess up on her own. The little girl recently told her teacher, who had offered to help her go potty, "My mommy says I have to do it all by myself, and I ab-so-lute-ly can!" There is no mystery to this success story. First, the mother began training before her kids got so used to messing themselves that it was no big deal. Second, she conveyed clear expectations and equally clear instructions. Third, she responded to mistakes with a calm, matter-of-fact attitude. Most importantly, however, she approached toilet-training with no apprehension, as if it was the most natural thing in the world -- which, in fact, it is. 

Copyright 2008, John K. Rosemond*

http://faircompanies.com/blogs/view/whocides-when-to-potty-train-you-baby-or-big-diapers/ was the


following:  "One of the moms lured into the training philosophy of "don't force it... when he's ready it


will happen practically overnight" had emailed the group that she's now dealing with a "strong-minded


3-year-old who really seems to enjoy resisting the process". She sent along a link to an article as well as


her advice: "Start now, don't wait, even if he doesn't prefect the process until he's three or more. Set


the groundwork as early as possible."


I clicked on the link as quickly as I could and found the Mommy Files blogger Amy Graff explaining how


she had potty trained her 2-year-old son in 3 days. Using advice from potty training guru and ex-nurse


Julie Fellom, she explained, "Children are typically ready between 15 to 27 months. This is a great age


because toddlers are compliant but ready for some independence. If you wait longer, you'll be dealing


with a temperamental, strong-minded 2-year-old who will likely resist the process."


It was a book recommendation from one of the moms that finally clued me in to the disposable-diaper


industry's role in convincing American parents to wait and wait and wait (in their disposables) until their


kid was good and ready. Linda Sonna, author of "Early Start Potty Training" explains that the "child-


oriented approach" to training began in 1961 when Procter & Gamble started test-marketing the first


disposable diaper. "The company began looking for a pediatrician to promote them", she explains in her


book, "it signed up T. Berry Brazelton, who began extolling the merits of the company's product and


recommending that parents not begin potty training before children are physically, mentally, and


emotionally ready."


Even child-raising guru Dr. Benjamin Spock fell into line with the Pampers-pitching Brazelton. "Spock


used to say younger was better, 14 months was considered late for training," Sonna discovered while


researching for her book. "In 1961 everything changed and Spock began quoting Brazelton. That was the


year Brazelton signed up with Procter & Gamble. He came out saying it was cruel to train babies too




With the power of P&G advertising budgets behind him, Hazelton's advice began to change the nation's


ideas about when a child was ready for the toilet. For one Pamper's ad, he extolled what has now


become a common concept among mothers: "Don't rush your toddler into toilet training or let anyone


else tell you it's time! It's got to be his choice!"


Posted by tarastoyland on April 7, 2015 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I am on a home daycare bulletin board and someone asked why child care workers insist on saying that the kids are "friends" even if they aren't.  Some said that we were forcing them to be friends with kids they didn't want to be friends with.  Or that we had no right to say who was or who was not their friend.   I thought this was a very interesting perspective and had never even considered NOT calling them friends.  My feeling on this is that these are their first friendships.  Our job is to teach them to be a friend to everyone and to have them get along with everyone.  At this age friendship is very much in the moment anyway and as long as someone is nice then they are a friend.

 I'd rather assume that all the kids were friends and feel that every one of us would be better off if we had that assumption.  So, here at Tara's Toyland, we are friends!

Picky Eater Plan

Posted by tarastoyland on March 28, 2015 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

There is a great book by William G Wilkoff, MD called Coping with a Picky Eater that every parent or provider of kids should read and have a copy of. http://www.amazon.com/Coping-Picky-Eater-Perplexed-Parent/dp/B000C4SUO2/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207157772&sr=8-1



This book has what I call the Picky Eater Plan. I have used this plan with kids that literally threw up at the sight of food and within 2 weeks they were eating normal amounts of everything and trying every food.



First you need to get everyone who deals with the child on board. If you are a provider it's ok to make this the rule at your house and not have the parents follow through but you wont' see as good results as what I described up above.



The plan is to limit the quantities of food you give the kid. When I first start with a child I give them literally ONE bite worth of each food I am serving. The book suggests that every time you feed the kids (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner) you give all 4 food groups. So, for lunch today I would have given the child one tiny piece of strawberry, one spoonful of applesauce, 3 macaroni noodles with cheese on them, and 2 oz of milk. Only after they ate ALL of what was on their plate would you give them anything else. They can have the same amounts for seconds. If they only want more mac and cheese, they only get 3 noodles then they would have to have more of all the other foods in order to get more than that. If they don't eat, fine. If they don't finish, fine. Don't make a big deal out of it, just make them stay at the table until everyone else is done eating. They don't get more food until they are sat at the next meal and they only get what you serve. When I first do this with a child I don't serve sweets at all. So no animal crackers for snack but rather a carrot for snack. Or one of each of those. I don't make it easy for them to gorge on bad foods in other words. Now if they had a meal where they ate great then I might make the snack be a yummy one cause I know they filled up on good foods.



Even at snacks you have to limit quantities of the good stuff or else they will hold out for snack and just eat those snacky foods. I never give a picky eater the reward of a yummy snack unless they had that great lunch prior to it.



It really is that easy.



ps - proper eating schedule for under 5 yrs old - times are just for demonstration purposes to give amount of time between things 7 eat breakfast 8:30 snack 11 lunch, followed by nap 3 snack 5:30 dinner, no further food for the day unless under 2 yrs old, then a bedtime snack is ok

5 S's and EASY - under 12 mos old sleep help

Posted by tarastoyland on March 27, 2015 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Here's my reccomendation for sound sleep in under a year old:

using the Baby Whisperer's EASY method for a schedule, and the Happiest Baby on the Block 5 s's method. Those two combined will make cio not be a needed thing (at that age)


EASY - when the baby wakes up it Eats. After you feed it, then it has Activity - bouncy seat, tummy time, sitting up and playing with toys, swing, exersaucer, etc. When the baby gets fussy check the B's - boredom, butt or burp. If it's none of those then off to Sleep. Don't wait for the baby to do more than get the tiniest bit fussy, then see what is causing the fusses - if it's just that they needed their diaper change do that, but if it's not the activity is boring, the butt is dirty or they have to burp, then put them down. This may happen after as short as 45 minutes, don't freak, it really means they are tired.


Now, to get them to sleep use the 5 s's. Swaddle the baby, hold the baby on their side and sway as they suck on something (paci, your knuckle or their finger/thumb) and make a shush noise. This will calm your baby. When the baby is calm, but not asleep yet, keeping them swaddled lay them in the bed. I like to pat them instead of sway after a minute or two cause you can still pat after they are put down but you can't sway, so pat the baby and continue patting gradually decreasing it as you put them in the bed. Also continue the shushing as you put them down, again gradually getting quieter.


If you do these two you will find a well rested, easily managed baby in no time.

Kids sleep deprived

Posted by tarastoyland on March 25, 2015 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

February 14, 2012


Study: Kids have been sleep-deprived for more than 100 years


Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times


LOS ANGELES -- Worried that your children aren't getting enough sleep? You're not alone. As one prominent educational psychologist put it, "Physicians and writers on school hygiene agree that children are likely to receive less sleep than is needful to them."



That assessment was offered way back in 1913, and it came from Lewis Terman, who went on to develop the Stanford-Binet IQ test. Terman's concern for sleep-deprived kids tapped into a longstanding source of parental angst.



It turns out that experts have been fretting about tired children since at least 1897. According to an article published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics, 32 sets of sleep guidelines for kids -- containing 360 distinct recommendations for children of specific ages -- were published between 1897 and 2009. During that time, the amount of recommended sleep fell by an average of 0.71 minutes per year. That added up to about 70 fewer minutes of suggested nightly sleep over the course of the 20th century.



And how well did parents of yore live up to those recommendations? Not very well, according to the Pediatrics article. Of the 360 sleep recommendations made over the years, Australian researchers found data that corresponded to 173 of them. In 83 percent of the cases, children were falling short of the ideal -- and doing so by an average of 37 minutes. Overall, the actual amount of nightly sleep for children fell by an average of 0.73 minutes per year.



Among all the expert recommendations put forth, the researchers could find only one case for which the expert guidelines were rooted in medical evidence of a need for a particular amount of sleep. That was a 1926 study that measured the actual sleep of 500 kids between the ages of 6 and 15 who were deemed "healthy." Other than that, it seems that experts simply looked at the amount of sleep children around them were getting and figured that they really needed a little bit more, the authors wrote.



And what's to blame for all this pediatric sleep deprivation? Why, new technology and the increasingly rigorous demands of modern life, of course. "The hurry and excitement of modern life is quite correctly held to be responsible for much of the insomnia of which we hear," according to an editorial published in the British Medical Journal way back in 1894.



As the Australian researchers explain, "In the early 1900s, artificial lighting, radio, reading and the cinema were considered to be the causes of delayed bedtimes. By the late 1990s, video games, television viewing, the Internet and mobile telephones were largely held responsible for such delays."



(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times

Sometimes it's NOT a disorder disorder

Posted by tarastoyland on March 24, 2015 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

October 13, 2012 at 10:12am


DISCLAIMER - I am not going to respond to comments on this. You the reader can decide if I am off base and have never dealt with what you are dealing with, or spot on. I will not argue my point any further then what is stated below. You can leave comments if you want, you can unfriend me if you must. But I do hope you read with an open mind and consider that perhaps I may be right.





I follow a few parenting boards and a recent one had a question about a preschooler not liking new clothes or having to go from summer short sleeves to winter long ones or vice versa. The mom is investigating therapists cause of the tantrums such things ensue.



Other questions mention a child lining up the toys as a sign the child is autistic. Or that they don't interact with strangers, or that they don't talk yet. Sometimes it's a severe tantrum tendency that drives a diagnosis of some disorder. Don't eat certain foods? Must be a sensory disorder.



It's so hard to read these and not shout "they are just being a kid, stop freaking out and let it go. Tell them to stop it, give them enough sleep and make sure they aren't having eye/ear/sickness issues, then fix those. If nothing is physically wrong then buck down and tell the kid to get over it."


Cause if you shout that out "you don't understand" or "you don't see what we see, he/she was acting really good that day" or "I know my child, and I know this is not normal." If you even mention those thoughts out loud you are no longer a friend. Or if they are a client they will go somewhere else instead of face the facts. In today's world you can not have a child who's behavior is just bad behavior, it is a disorder now.



Sorry, in almost every case I have seen that there is not a disorder. There is something going on but it is not autism or sensory processing disorder or OCD or ADHD even. In almost all of these "cases" I have noticed there are other reasons. The lining up objects is a common thing in almost all kids. I have so many pictures of it by just plain ole' kids. The focusing on one subject to the point of obsession. Yep, again, a plain ole' kid thing. Allowing that obsession to become the ruling factor of their lives is determined by the parent's reaction to that obsession. If your kid likes dinosaurs, or sea life, or outer space, or insects, or whatever, and you overload them with everything related to that anytime you see it, then yes, their obsession will become out of proportion to normal kids' obsessions. That does not make them have OCD or Autism or any other disorder.



Some kids who were diagnoses as autistic really have hearing or speech issues. If you can't hear and you are a toddler you are going to appear to not interact to not pay attention to the world, to be "autistic". And miracles of miracles, after their ears are cleaned out they get so much better. Must be the therapy they also started. How dare I say this? Well, my older daughter was truly advanced speech wise. She said, "will you please play outside with me, Gareth" clear as day to her cousin at 13 months old. By 18 months she had a 400 word vocabulary. I found my list and it's amazing what she said. What makes it even more amazing is that by 24 months old she had lost all but 5 words. Must have been autistic - she was advanced, then lost skills! Nope. She was deaf from ear wax compaction in both ears. 100% deaf. She had her ears cleaned out and slowly regained words. It wasn't until she was 3 1/2 that she was truly up to age level cause she had lost so much in those 6 months. It killed me to see postings of kids singing songs or saying advanced things, cause she had done that at 17 months but at almost 3 she couldn't anymore. She ended up with a speech issue from it that was hard to fix, she couldn't say r controlled vowels to save her life and her l's were messed up as well. By fourth grade she was finally speaking clearly again. I have seen similar stories, even from those with "autistic" kids. They start speech therapy, and have that ear wax removed, all in the same week. Yet their frame of mind already shouts "it's autism" so they credit the therapy, not the cleaned out ears, for the child saying the first words ever. Try stuffing your ears with cotton for a weekend and see how different you start acting. Did you just become autistic?



Other kids with a disorder are really sleep deprived. If they were grown ups in the military they would be put on medical leave they are so overtired. If you are overtired, at any age, then you get crabby (extreme tantrums and meltdowns may occur), you can't think as well (you may space out randomly, or perhaps not be able to figure out simple puzzles, sometimes you can forget the simplest of facts), you do not interact as well with your environment or other people. Sleep deprivation in children makes them unable to concentrate and hyper. Sound like ADHD to you? Does to me. If your grade schooler is getting less then 11 hours of sleep a night, they are not getting enough sleep. An overtired child does not fall asleep, instead they get hyper. If your kid has hit the slap happy stage, you have missed the window of sleep and are at the overtired stage. Consistently being overtired, nights and nights of being hours short of sleep, and the child becomes permanently in the hyper, unfocused state of being. Too bad the people that study behavior don't actually take care of kids, cause I would really like to see a study about average number of hours of sleep as compared to disorders.



One boy who I had in daycare was very inconsistent. Some days he was spot on, could do a puzzle, answer what a cow said and really knew almost everything a boy his age should know. But then other days not so much. In fact other days he was literally two years behind on skills. After investigating I found out that it was directly tied to amount of sleep. When he spent a weekend missing naps and going to bed late he paid for it by lack of skills later. At age 4 he should have been getting 13 to 14 hours of sleep in a day. He was getting more like 9 some days. Can you function on 5 hours less sleep after a few days? I see this over and over, the child starts sleeping more and their skills improve. Of course the "autistic" also have "insomnia". Perhaps the Insomnic have Austism is more like it. All kids at one point fight sleep, perhaps those that are getting less then what used to be recommended 14 years ago would benefit from getting the right amount and be "spot on" every day. Weeks, months, years of sleep deprivation have been proven in scientific studies to lower IQ, lower physical ability and lower memory skills. If your ten month old should have been getting 16 - 18 hours of sleep in a day, and they are only getting 14, or even less, they will not be able to do as well as the child who gets the right amount of sleep. I know, I know, they don't nap, they can't sleep at night, you've tried everything. I'm sure that I'll have comments saying that. And I don't believe it. Cause every kid that has come to my daycare and been forced to nap every day, (yes, forced, cause they are in a very dark room with music playing at the same time every day no matter what), happily takes naps until the day they start school in the afternoons. Those that don't take naps at home, do here. The only kids that don't nap here get enough night time sleep that they are ok. That means a minimum of 13 hours at night. One of my parents doesn't do a morning nap for their 16 month old, but it turns out the child sleeps almost 14 hours every night, no matter what, so they do not need a morning nap. But almost always lack of sleep is a problem that causes other problems. Solve the sleep and a host of other issues just disappear. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, a host of other issues are fixed.



If you are allowed to do whatever you want when ever you want, then when rules are required you won't know to follow them. If at home meals are where ever the toddler wants then they won't understand ias a five year old that the social norms in a restaurant are different and they will not act properly. If as a toddler you were allowed to hit your parent then you will not learn that hitting isn't allowed no matter how much you are told when you hit another child, cause after all you can hit your mommy. If your toddler is only told in a meek voice to not run into the street, then they will keep running into the street. All kids test rules and boundaries, some parents fail that test and that kid will not see any boundaries after a certain age. What started out as a kid being a kid, has now become a "disorder".



Other "autistic" kids, or those needing occupational, developmental, or whateveral therapies, really just need to be forced to do things and not be allowed to be the boss. Or be exposed to the information. If no one has told you a cow says moo, then you do not know that fact. Or perhaps if they told you and you were too overtired to process the information, or your ears were clogged with fluid and you really didn't hear that information. If your parent has always dressed you then at age 4 you will not have the skill that the majority of kids do have, and you will be "behind". Go to school like that and wow, you may have a disorder. If your parents never required you to eat what they eat, and went with your whims, then you may have eating issues. Every kid will focus on certain foods if you let them. It's up to the grown up to determine if that becomes a sensory disorder by allowing it, or just a phase by not allowing it. This means when your kid will only eat hot dogs, you stop serving hot dogs. Amazingly that kid will eat other things pretty quickly. I have "cured" so many sensory disorders at my daycare lunch table, I'm "gifted" like that.



I could go on, but by now the ones who have kids with disorders are beyond pissed at me and have responded with all those things I mentioned above. Some of them are daycare providers and have seen many kids. To convince them to consider other reasons for the disorder is an uphill battle that I can not win. So most of the time I just smile and say I'm sorry they are dealing with it. I ignore the postings about how that type of child sees the world. I bite my tongue.



To that question about the clothing I gave the following answer, "My now 10 yr old was really bad as a preschooler about clothing, and my 13 yr old at that age was not so bad but still had a few issues here and there. Almost all the daycare kids are to some degree have the change of season clothes issues.



I am irritated that the modern way of handling this is to assume a disorder of some sort. How bout a kid just not liking how something feels? Or being a kid and exerting some independence? Or being so sleep deprived from years of not getting the right amount of sleep that they can not possibly function. Honestly, just tell the kid, tough, or let them deal with the consequences and let it go. If the child goes to a school enlist the teacher for help - I have had to email my younger daughter's teacher and say, "can you tell the class that coats, hats and mittens are now required every day?". And guess what - she gets over it and each year it's a bit less. Now that she is older I know to make her try on every clothing before we buy it, I know she doesn't like collars around her neck or lace anywhere it touches the skin. But this does not make her having sensory disorder. It just means she is normal. Do YOU like every clothing you have ever tried on??



Let it go. Stop concentrating on it. It's really not that big of a deal."



And that is what I would love to say to some others but can't cause they know me personally.



So, if you are my friend with a truly "special" kid, of course I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about someone else. Because your kid is of course really having that disorder.

************  when I originally published this one comment was that I do not have an MD, this was my response to that

when I was a lead teacher at a daycare in my mid 20s I was insulted when the director said to me that I would never be a good daycare provider until I had kids. Then I had kids and realized she was right. Being a mom is ten thousand times harder and more intense then working a 9 hour day with the kids. There are so many aspects of the job that I didn't see before in the light that I do now.


I feel that doctors have the same issue. Seeing a child for 15 minutes does not make them an expert. Until they have lived a week in the shoes of a parent of each age of child they can not be a truly good guide to parents. I think it would be a great idea for all pediatricians to spend a week with a family who has a newborn, then a week with a 2 yr old's family, then a preschoolers. They would get such a more thorough idea of what reality is.


I have more experience with more children from more families then lots of people, and lots more then most doctors. I have seen overtired kids vs rested kids. I have seen kids "cured"."

The value of Mean Based Standardized testing in Early Child Education

Posted by tarastoyland on March 23, 2015 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

originally written in December 2012

Recently on a forum a mother asked how to improve her child's fine motor skills. All sorts of good (and a few not so good) suggestions were given. The mother was saying the child could do everything that we suggested. This didn't seem right. From what she reported as the teacher's comments I thought perhaps the mom had blinders on. I offered to evaluate the child to see where he really was skill wise and give the mom some sense of what to do. *note to self, stop being so spontaneously generous*



Last night I had the child over to my house. He and I spent about an hour going over what he knew. I started with the test for fine motor since that is what the teacher said he needed to work on. I like using the LAP-3 test. It's great at telling you exactly what age, to the month, a child should be able to do something. For instance by 24 months they should be able to put one inch blocks into a jar with a 1 1/2 inch opening. Standardized. FACT, not opinion.



In talking with the mother I found out that this child missed kindergarten cut off date by a few weeks. The brick and mortar chain preschool he went to said that he was "way behind" and should not go to kindergarten next year but rather have another year of preschool. (which would mean in the first month of his kindergarten year he would turn seven!) Then I found out the worse part of the story. Last year, the boy who had just turned FOUR was in the two year old room. This is TWO years below his age level. Due to his birthdate he should have been in the older three year old room. I explained to the mom how horrible this was, If you took a two year old and put them in the infant room would you expect them to be taught age appropriate things? Would you expect that two year old to start drinking out of a normal cup when he was the only one in the room not on a bottle? That is what that school did to this kid. Because I do home daycare and have multiple ages every day I separate my daycare room so that there is a big kid area where the older kids can do age appropriate things without worry. There's nothing worse then building a nice big block tower only to have a two year old that doesn't understand come over and knock it down. But in a room of only two year olds you would not have the protection of a safe building zone. So how could you learn to build towers from blocks like a four year old should?



It gets worse. They had a conference and told the mom that the child was basically dumb. Oh, they didn't use those words but they may as well have. She was told he needed INTENSIVE help. I expected this child to not even be able to hold the pencil the right way from what I had already read honestly. Before she arrived at my house I was worried that I was going to have to break it to the mom that her child was not the sharpest tack in the box.



I started on fine motor. After a bit I had to tell the mom to go to the other room, she didn't understand there was a reason I was explaining what to do the way I was. He soared through the skills. Soon we were at 36 months and he was not blinking an eye at what I asked him to do. In no time we were at 48 months. Yes he is a young five which would put him at just over 60 months, but he has another year before kindergarten so schooling wise he is at about 51 months as the target. I told his mom he was not behind long before I stopped the testing at 65 months. This kid was not behind at all in fine motor.



Maybe the teacher didn't identify the skill set properly. So I told the mom I would go over some other things in the test to make sure he wasn't behind in any other area. In every test he was at least 50 months old skill set, and in all but three things he was above 60 month skill set.



He was behind in writing his name. CHRONICLE AGE wise. School age wise he was exactly on target for this time in the school year. His only skill that he was behind at all was writing letters. I am sure that is because he was in the wrong class setting last year. The other skill he needed to work on was putting on his shirt and socks. This obviously is not a skill that kindergarten teachers care about. He can zip his coat even. The mom left here with concrete suggestions to improve those skills - 1.) give the kid 20 minutes before bedtime, hand him his clothes and tell him to put them on, he'll figure it out, 2) buy the Kumon handwriting books for upper and lower case, no other brand approaches the METHODOLOGY of handwriting like they do, and do a few pages a night, 3) buy Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD and have him watch it 3 times a night for 2 weeks straight to learn all letter sounds and lastly 4) practice writing his name one time each night with the laminated sheet I sent home. (see method below)



That is all this boy needs. The teacher he had now, and it turns out the director also, did not use an accurate test to decide where this boy was. Maybe the kid didn't have his glasses yet, or was sick on the day of the testing, perhaps the day of testing that they did he was being difficult, or shy. Maybe the school isn't to blame for the test, I will admit that. But they should have seen once he was there for any length of time that he was in the wrong class and moved him back to the proper age group. If the test failed the child the teachers should have stepped up. The teachers failed him too. I was mad that this school was hurting children in such a way. I was sad that this bright, awesome little boy was almost subjected to another year of people thinking he was dumb.



Last night the test showed his skill levels. Not Miss Nora, not my opinion, not what I had seen from knowing other kids in the 4K age level. A test that any teacher in any state can use and we could compare kids objectively was given and that test showed that this boy would have done just fine in kindergarten THIS year if he had gone.



My final recommendation to the mom was to find him a new school cause the one he has now sucks.

Bucket list for a child under 24 months old

Posted by tarastoyland on March 22, 2015 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

originally written April 2012

Below is my bucket list for a child under 24 months old. This was written out to the parents of Avery who had a terminal genetic disease and didn't  live to her second birthday. http://www.facebook.com/AverysBucketList They were asking for a bucket list of things for her to do while she is still alive. Lots of the things on the list were not aimed to an infant and toddler. Yes we may like to go white water rafting some day, but not when you are under 2 yrs old. So, I created a list for her that is more realistic and that SHE will enjoy.



*pet a cat, dog, horse, goat, hamster, bird, rabbit and as many other animals as you can

*splash in a puddle, a pond, a stream and a lake

*play in the rain, feel a nice warm rain on your face

*listen to the wind as you lay under a tree and watch the leaves

*paint with your hands and feet

*watch a sun rise in the morning, the sun set at night and the moon rise (a full moon)

*see the stars from somewhere there are no lights so you really SEE them

*collect worms

*watch a butterfly flutter, see if one can land on your hand

*pet a stingray, and a dolphin

*catch snowflakes on your tongue, make snow angels

*play in a ball pit

*color with a crayon, a marker, a pen, and a pencil

*eat chocolate, drink hot chocolate and eat as many foods as you can in that time period. ((If I knew I only had a few years to live I would try to not eat the same food twice. May not be possible for her though))

*listen to as many kinds of music as you can, classical, rock, raggea, jazz, African, etc.

*hear each instrument as an individual sound, then all together as a symphony

I work with children under 2 yrs old a lot, and as many of the 5 senses as you can stimulate the better experience they will have. So my list is geared towards what I wish every child under 2 gets to do.


Why I am glad I sent my kids to kindergaretn at 5

Posted by tarastoyland on March 22, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

this was originally written July 2014

When I first started daycare in this house Elise was 4 months old. She couldn't sit up yet, let alone crawl, walk or talk. One of my first daycare girls was Kelsey who was 15 months old. She was talking, walking and doing toddler things. Five and a half years later Kelsey and Elise started kindergarten on the same day. Elise had just turned 5, that day, Kelsey was a month away from turning 6. Both started by the legal cut off start date for the district, but was Kelsey at the same level as Elise? Obviously not, she was 11 months older. So, should kids wait till they are closer to 6 yrs old or start when they are able to by age, most being 5 years old? This note is to examine that issue.



As they say, hindsight is 20/20.


I was reading some articles on why parents were going to "red shirt" their child by not sending the child who is 5 yrs old before the district guidelines to kindergarten. Since I have summer birthday kids who are now about to enter 7th and 10th grade I feel I can speak on this in the hindsight view. Tara was 5 years and 2.5 months old when she started kindergarten, Elise started kindergarten on her 5th birthday. Additionally I do home daycare so both of them had only ME as their first teacher. We did make sure to have them experience other adults in charge through library story time, swim lessons and other sports, but I was the primary teacher in their lives.


I must say that they both had the most amazingly fabulous kindergarten teacher, Miss Nowak. I think that was essential in their schooling going smoothly that first year. Neither of them had any anxiety over school, only excitement. Tara started with a speech problem not being able to say her /th/ or /y/ or r controlled vowels. Elise had lots of fevers and missed about 30 days of school each year up until 4th grade when she had kidney reflux surgery. They were average as first day of kindergarten kids, but very confident in themselves and in being away from home for school. Our kindergarten is a half day here so they still had lunch at home that year.



So, today I am reading articles about redshirting. I often read such things because although my kids are old I work with parents of preschoolers. Here are some reasons the parents gave to not send their child to kindergarten as a 5 yr old, and my hindsight view.


1. Wanting their child to be the oldest. My children are tiny, skinny, and short. Sorry kids, you know it's true. But they never suffered for being the last to grow tall, the last to develop. Yes it was hard when Tara was in 6th grade and only wearing a size 12.5 shoe and finding shoes that weren't Dora, sparkly or little kid looking was next to impossible. And it was irritating that both girls were told in 6th grade gym class they MUST have bras on even though they were not anywhere near needing them. But there were other girls that didn't need them yet either. The girls that had issues were those that started having to wear a bra in 4th grade, or those that started their period in grade school. Those kids were friends with my girls and hated being the mature ones. Next year Tara would have taken Driver's Ed, but instead she is going to a school that won't offer it and will be so academically challenging that she isn't going to even try to take it until after she is 16 anyway, driving is not something she wants to do yet just like half the kids her age.


2. Wanting to wait to start their formal education. As the person who taught my kids for preschool I knew my kids were ready academically for kindergarten. They knew all their letter names and sounds, they could count out objects, add and subtract, count by 2s, 5s and 10s, do patterns, and many other things. One of my daycare boys missed the cut off and spent an extra year of preschool with me, he was reading by Thanksgiving just like the kids that went to kindergarten. He's now about to enter 5th grade and doing math and reading at the 6th or 7th grade level and luckily is at a school that will let him do that, otherwise he would have been bored or had to skip a grade (which is harder to do then holding back a grade). Tara went to school with a set of twins that were literally hours younger then her. They struggled in school and repeated 3rd grade. It was their choice and they are about to enter high school confident and academically ready. It was no big deal for them to stay back that year, no one teased them, they made new friends easily and fit in fine. Being held back a year was easier then skipping ahead, we had to fight to get Tara into advanced classes and she was never "allowed" to be in the gifted program but is going to an elite high school this fall and is 2 yrs ahead in math. So, starting sooner or later can go either way but from what I've seen it's easier to repeat a year of school instead of skip ahead. I didn't want to hold my kids back. Oh, that boy who missed the cut off - the day he turned 5 he thought he would be allowed to start kindergarten even though it was a month into the school year, the poor boy was so upset that he wasn't allowed to start school with his friends who were only months older. I think this was harder on him then starting kindergarten early could ever have been.


3. I want my oldest child to stay close to her younger siblings. Really? Maybe it's cause my child went to afternoon kindergarten but it has not hurt their relationship at all. Elise napped when Tara went to school. There were some very cute photos of Elise waiting at the corner of the yard for her sister to get home from school, but it just made the bond between them stronger.


4. I want her to be a leader in school. My daughters have both been leaders, and some of the older kids in the class have not been. It has nothing to do with age, everything to do with personality.


5. Along the same lines as 2, I want my child to be able to enjoy childhood longer. My kids were lucky in that I do daycare I guess, but they played with toys until they were 11, their friends would come to our house to play cause we still had lots of toys. And as recently as last week they were playing on the swings out back.


6. I want her to be more emotionally mature. My girls were very emotionally mature, again, personality more then age.


7. (The parent) is just not ready. Who is schooling for? The parent or the child? As a parent there are many times that we must make a sacrifice in order for our children to get what they need. In the case of my kids this meant me letting go of them when they had just turned 5. As an early education expert I have looked at actual research, peer reviewed studies, and those say that starting them when they are legally able to (usually at 5 yrs old, it varies by state with when cut offs are) is the best option.



Now MY main reason for sending kids to school at the age they qualify is, as this article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html?_r=0

so clearly states - the one main way to increase academic success is by being IN school. I had a daycare boy who had a spring birthday who was very behind in skills. No matter how I tried this child would not understand and retain information. I encouraged his parents to send him to kindergarten on time, knowing full well that his new daycare would say the exact opposite. My main reason for saying he should go was that in a formal school setting he would get the help he needed from people trained in that area of education. Being in elementary school was the best thing that could happen to him, it would give him daily academic help in ways he needed. Another year of daycare, even good daycare, would not do what he needed. I have not researched this subject since 2004 when Tara was turning 5, so I revisited the studies to see if my earlier findings were still true, that the studies prove it's best to send them with their cut off age. It seems that the studies still support my view.




this article seems to indicate that poor families should hold their kids back, but for non poor families it doesn't matter http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9082/index1.html




this study says that it's other factors instead of age that need to be considered, and that knosing the age of the child makes the teacher biased in expectations




another article, I found this one interesting because it follows kids that were born in 74. Page 161 in the report (it is not that long, just think it was in a journal that had it there in the magazine) shows the results. Basically saying that redshirted kids have MORE issues. However if kids were redshirted for them to "get more mature" it seems that this would mean that they did not need that year to get mature, they just were more prone to behavior issues. This article followed kids through college graduation and first years in the job market and surprised me when it said that younger students did better on test scores in high school. Page 171 states that there is no difference in economic status or gender of child either.




this article shows results of long term studies, and sorry, redshirting hurts kids in the long run



this article is much more current, 2008, and says any edge disappears by 8th grade http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/08/0818kindergarten.html




this article talks about a 1998 study, but it says there are mixed results





and here is a list of cut off dates by state that I thought was interesting http://users.stargate.net/~cokids/kindergarten_cut-off_dates.htm

and this one had a few different dates on it http://www.superpages.com/supertips/age-to-start-kindergarten-by-state.html



referenced links http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2013/08/10-reasons-why-im-not-sending-my-5-year-old-to-kindergarten-why-im-redshirting-my-daughter.html


Home Daycare Benefits

Posted by tarastoyland on March 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I've been working with children professionally since 1987.  I started babysitting way before that.  Over the years I have worked as a nanny, in multiple corporate centers, as a babysitter, as a substitute teacher, a regular teacher, and aide in a classroom.  After I had my daughter, Tara, I went back to working in a daycare center.  While I was working there a co-worker was talking about doing daycare in her home.  I never had even considered that as an option.  A few months later I opened up my home daycare and have never regretted that decision.

I have found so many benefits for myself and the families I serve in the home daycare environment.  I'll list some of the family and child benefits first, then I'll list some of my personal benefits.

Families and Children Benefits

*The children have the same care giver from the time they arrive until the time they go home.  This means that one person knows everything that has gone on with that child during the day.  They know the mood they arrived in, the foods they ate, the things they learned, the friends they interacted with and how those interactions happened, how naps went and the mood they woke up in.

*The children have other children here who are older or younger.  This allows for the child to hear different language opportunities then if the children were all the same age.  It allows the older children to learn to help the little ones.  The older children get to practice compassion, they teach the younger children how to do things and they learn to monitor their own behaviors since the little ones learn from the older ones.  The younger children learn from the older children directly and indirectly.  One time I had a group of 5 kids that were potty training and one girl who had just turned a year old.  Because all the other kids were sitting on the potty she wanted to sit too.  By 14 months old she was going pee and poop on the potty on her own.  She could barely walk but she went to the bathroom door and knocked on it to let me know she had to go.  She couldn't talk yet but she would pull on her diaper to let me know she had to go potty.  The older children often teach the younger ones how to build with blocks or to count.

*The child is with me for years, sometimes from 6 weeks old until they go off to kindergarten.  This means I know what the child knows and needs to learn at all times.  I know the family situations, I know the stresses the child or parents are under.  I can tailor the day according to the needs of each child.  I know how they ate last week and last year.  I know if the child sleeps on their side or their tummy, if they like to cuddle with a lovie, if they wake up easy or hard.  Because they are with me for so many hours, so many years, I love the kids more deeply then I ever did as a center employee.

*The family saves money by using a home daycare over a center.  This does have a draw back in that if I am throwing up there is no daycare that day, but the overall savings usually negates that.

MY Benefits

*Commute of 16 stairs

*If I get barfed or peed on I just go upstairs and change my clothes.

*I get to pick the toys to be played with, the themes to do, the lessons I want to do, the set up of the room, the families that I enroll.

*When my kids were younger I got to spend all day with them and I was able to teach them all the skills they needed for school and know that they had mastered those skills.  I wasn't able to be lazy on parenting because I had the daycare kids that needed lessons and structure so I was forced to be a better parent.  My kids got to sleep in and had way more awesome toys then they would have had if I didn't do daycare.

*My dress code is whatever I choose.  I hated working at the few centers where dress clothes were required, it did not make any sense to me.

*I get to buy cool toys and not feel guilty.

There are lots more but those are the ones I came up with today.  

Being Proactive

Posted by tarastoyland on March 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

"J has been saying your name lately at home now too (he says it so cute). He even just went to the door and said "Miss Nora". I said "no J, she's at her house, not here". He then said (what sounded like) "go see Miss Nora"

I know it's been a long time coming, but he sure does love his Miss Nora! "

This is a facebook message I got this past weekend from a daycare parent who's child has been with me a few days a week for the past year.   After he was here for a while I realized his language and some other skills were behind.  I suggested last spring that she call Early Intervention to have him evaluated.  He was about15 months behind on language last fall, so really NO language at all at almost 2 yrs old.  His progress is amazing, and I must admit his mom's comment had me on cloud nine and crying with joy.

Although all children learn different skills at different rates there are some skills that should be met no later then a certain age.  It is extremely hard as a parent to accept that your child may have a problem but identifying a  delay early can mean a child gets the help they need and a small  problem disappears instead of becoming  a big  problem. 

Occasionally I will recommend a child get evaluated by Early Intervention or the child's home school district.  The only outcome of such an evaluation is a positive one - either you will be told your child is right on track or your child will get extra help to get them on track.  Getting help for your child is never a negative thing, but rather a chance for your child to excel in different ways then they currently are.  This child is a perfect example of how positive intervention can be. 

Not all parents take it that well.  Somewhere out there in the web-verse there is a negative review of my childcare.  It hurts to have someone say your program, your house, yourself are terrible.  What she said was not true but she was lashing out because I had told her that her son should be evaluated.  I only want what is best for each child and he was behind in multiple ways.  When he enrolled I had another child, S, who was getting speech and developmental therapy.  The therapists came to my house and when this other boy started both of them suggested he get evaluated.  They instantly confirmed what I saw.  But the parent was hurt by the recommendation and never returned.  It's been years since that parent was here and I wonder about that little boy and hope he did get help. 

S's developmental therapist only had to work with him for a few months.  About the time he got services he went to full time here.   She said that I did more then she ever could and that she had learned many techniques from me.  Pretty cool to have a specialist say they learned from plain ole' me!  

Working with kids that have skills below the average can be a challenge.  With a multi age home daycare group it's easy to just teach them at their level.   Some behaviors or disabilities are out of my expertise though, so there have been times that I have had to say that I am not the right spot for a child.  My concern is always that the child is able to have their needs met while I am still meeting the needs of the group.

Upon request or if the group needs dictate I will perform a standardized developmental test to determine the skills needed for further advancement.  After administering this test many times I have come to know when children are lacking or ahead in most areas.