Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Now Hiring: Long Term Sub Position

DEEC Family Child Care Certified Assistant needed in Chelmsford. Part time hours to beginning in January, moving up to 30-40/hrs per week to cover maternity leave March-May. Hours will be between 730am-5pm Monday-Friday. Great position for someone interested in starting home based child care, a student, or nanny between jobs. I can help you through the licensing processes if needed. Current CPR/FA required.

Serious inquires send letter of interest and/or resume to garrisonfamilycare@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Documentation for Early Childhood Teachers

  1. 1.
    material that provides official information or evidence or that serves as a record.
    "you will have to complete the relevant documentation"
  2. 2.
    the process of classifying and annotating texts, photographs, etc.
    "she arranged the collection and documentation of photographs"


It sounds boring. It sounds time consuming. Documentation sounds daunting, especially if you have a large group of children to work with.

This year, my personal goal for teaching is to improve my documenting skills. I don't just want to do better recordings of my observations, I want to enjoy doing it. 

When I started this program, I created this observation record to monitor behavior and to help write progress reports. I like the form, but it is clinical. It is a great tool to record behavior and social/emotional observations for students that may need additional support. I also found that it did not provide a lot of information to help write the narrative style progress reports that I provide for families. 

In order to better utilize my observations, I had to think of a simple way to record a burst of activity for each child happening each day. I did not want to carry a clip board everywhere and I wanted to make sure that I was still engaging with the children for the majority of their play time. 

If you are recording data, like in the observation record listed above, then it tends to be filed away for summary at a later time. I wanted to make the children's interest and learning more visible for themselves and their families. Keeping tally marks of who does what and how many times they do it is not interesting and does not give a fair representation of the whole child. So, I decided that the observations should be done in a way that it could become part of their portfolio that goes home at the end of the year. 

Knowing that I wanted to be able to continue engaging with the children and get a picture of the whole child, I developed these two pages to add to their portfolio:


The narrative observations by subject are done monthly. By recording an observation according to subject matter, it makes learning visible for the parents. I am able to record in a way that does not interfere with the child's play and it documents their abilities. Since I am only doing on subject matter each month, making a narrative record for each child takes very little time.

The calendar is filled in daily. During our morning activities (the longer block of play where children can really become immersed in what they are doing), I watch to see what activity the child is most engrossed with. I record their most prominent play scheme of the morning or a special event that they participated in. I also ask families to share special events that happen at home on non-school days, so that they can also be added to the calendar.

Setting up a "music dance show."
This is month two of recording observations in this style. I really like it. It is much more informative than previous styles for planning activities that are based on the children's interests and abilities. Plus, using a calendar format allows the children to be involved while using a calendar in a meaningful way.

For those interested, children over two also have a writing sample and self portrait in their portfolio for each month. Additionally, I share photo documentation with families weekly of the activities. I think this combination of documentation styles and sharing really helps to capture the whole child and their individuality. So far, I'm enjoying watching the interests develop and getting to know each child a little better than I did before.

*I did not record where in the internet I found the images included in the documents. They are not my original design. If you are the creator or know where it came from, please leave a comment so that I can give the proper credit.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Activity: Swim Lessons in your Backyard Pool

  Swim lessons can be costly, but are vital for children's safety. Taking lessons from a certified instructor is your best bet if you really want your child to learn the skills needed for swimming. However, there are lots of activities you can do to help prepare them for lessons. I touched upon being comfortable in the water last year. This year I am sharing my outline for backyard swim lessons.

  It is important to note that this is NOT a swim instructor course and it in no way certifies the reader as a swim instructor. If you are interested in becoming a swim instructor, please get in touch with your local Red Cross, YMCA, or community college.

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  This set of lesson plans is good for an adult who knows how to swim, is comfortable watching children in the water, and is not fearful of water themselves (or of children being in or near water). The skills used in this lesson are simple introductions to the skills taught in proper swim lesson classes.

  These lessons are set up sequentially over a 6 week period for children ages 2-4. Each week the lesson should be repeated 2-3 times. A lesson is 20-30 minutes long, depending on how many children you are working with and how interested they are with the games. I do these lessons in our kiddie pool, which is around 12" deep.

 FREE DOWNLOAD - These cards can be cut out & laminated to keep near your swimming area. Follow the link to see which activities to do each week.

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Activity Descriptions

Speckled Frog Song
Raffi's Speckled Frog Song is the commonly known version of this counting song. This brings all the children to the poolside. It also lets you work one on one with each child so that you can judge how comfortable they are with the water on that particular day. In a small pool: it would be an observation of how quickly they get into the water, if they get their face wet, and if they jump and splash. In a larger pool: it would be an observation of how relaxed or rigid their body is, if they are using their arms for splashing or clinging, and if they are letting their face get wet.
To get started, have all the children sit on the edge of the pool. Count the number of "frogs" you have at the pool. As you count down in the song bring them one at a time to swim with you, then return them to the side.

    Five little speckled frogs
    Sat on a speckled log
    Eating some most delicious grubs - yum, yum
    One jumped into the pool
    Where it was nice and cool
    Now there are four green speckled frogs - glub, glub.
    (and so on, until there are "no more" frogs)

Float on Back
This is one of the most important skills to be taught. If a child were to fall into water, floating on their back could save their life.
People work similarly to see-saws in the water. If the head is up, the hips are down. If you level it out with your head and hips at water level, then you float. This is difficult for young children, because it is scary. Here are some tips you can try, but don't try them all at once as that would be overwhelming. During each lesson, try one and if it works then keep going with that method.
  • If you have enough room, show the children what back float looks like.
  • Make sure they are not looking into the sun, use your body as shield if needed.
  • Make sure the water is calm, little to no waves.
  • Do a magic spell to turn the children into starfish.
  • Have the child try to make their belly touch a toy floating on top of the water, like a rubber duck.
  • Have the child try to make their belly button touch the top.
  • Stand/sit behind the child and make funny faces to encourage them to put their head back.
  • If you are in the water with them, have them lay their head on your shoulder so it is supported as it is lowered into the water.
  • Tell them to get their ears wet.
  • Use a very small amount of water, 1-2" deep, and have them lay in that before going to a bigger pool.
  • Ask their parents to have them practice in the bathtub.

Red Light, Green Light Kicks
Effective swimming kicks are done with straight legs and pointed toes, called a flutter kick. This is a different use of muscles than those used for walking. It takes time to build those muscles, so practicing before swimming is great exercise.
This game is pretty simple. Green light means go, kicking with straight legs and pointed toes. Red light means stop, legs are still with straight legs and pointed toes. If the children do not want their faces wet, then you can have them lay on their stomachs in the water, holding onto the side of the pool.

Free Style Arms
This is another movement that is not natural. People tend to keep their arms in the water, doing a "doggy paddle" motion. This actually works against you, as it takes more energy to move your arms forward and backward in the water.

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Your preschooler probably won't be swimming like Michael Phelps after these lessons, but you can encourage them to pull their arm up out of the water before reaching forward. Tell them to make their hands into spoon shapes, fingers together and cupped. Pretend the pool is filled with their favorite treat, but they have to scoop it with their spoon hands. You can encourage them to pull their elbows up by telling them that their treat is getting on their elbows, "Oh no! Sticky elbows!"

Listen to the Fishes, Talk to the Fishes
  Just like with the back float, your body works like a see saw in the water when on your stomach. Good swimmers are able to put their face in the water, which relaxes their shoulders muscles and lets their body balance on top of the water. 
  To do this activity, show the children how to "talk to the fish" by blowing bubbles and "listen to the fish" by turning their head to put their ear in the water. You can modify this activity by putting sinking pool toys at the bottom for the children to reach for while blowing bubbles.

Ball Kicking Game
This is another activity to strengthen leg muscles. In a small pool, have the children sit around the edge and put a ball in the center of the pool. They will kick their feet in order to move the ball, the goal being to keep the ball in the pool but pass from friend to friend.
In a large pool, you can have children use bubbles (waist band floats) and pool noodles for supports. Only do this in a large pool if you have confident swimmers and you are comfortable watching that many children at a time on pool noodles.

Bucket Head
This is another activity meant to increase comfort and confidence in the water. In this activity, the first person asks, "Do you want to be a bucket head?" If the second person agrees, then the first will dump a bucket of water over the other's head. This is best done by the adult first, so that modeling of yes and no responses can be seen. This can be a very exciting and silly activity. Be prepared to help children respect the boundaries of others.

Simon Says
Simon Says is pretty well known. Usually with this age I do not make children "go out" for not following the direction. The purpose for Simon Says during a swim lesson is to recall the name of skills practiced then demonstrate knowledge of that skill. It is a fairly decent assessment tool. Skills that were done in this particular set of lessons are: back float, flutter kick, free style arms, blowing bubbles (talk to fishes, listen to fishes), getting you hair wet, getting your face wet. You can vary the directions by adding stipulations like go fast, go slow, or restrict the number of times they do a motion.

5 Little Fishies
This is a fun counting song to end with. Usually the children want to do it several times so that they can all have a turn to be the shark. You use the number of children present, minus the shark if a child is going to be the shark.

5 little fishes swimming in the sea.
Teasing the big shark, "You can't catch me!"
Along came the big shark as quiet as can be,
And snapped that fish right out the sea!
(the shark then claps their hands at one the fish,
who then gets out of the pool)
(continue until there are no more fish in the sea)

Keep in mind, this is in no way an extensive list of beginning swim skills nor the only way they can be taught. It is a good place to start if you want to help your children become comfortable with swimming in a fun and relaxed setting. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Writing a Parent Handbook for Family Child Care

  A family child care is a small business. As a business, there should be policies and procedures in place that both the provider and client know and understand.

Book Pages, Book, Paper, Pages, Browse, Education, Read  Typically in child care, there is a "parent handbook" that is part of the registration process. This outlines all of the if, ands, or buts that can occur over the course of the year.

  In Massachusetts, DEEC Regulations state that a child's file be updated annually. I recommend that you also review your handbook and update the policies and procedures once a year. The reason for this is that there are changes in the State's regulations each year that you may need to adjust for. There are likely also changes that have occurred for you or your family over the last year, which could influence certain aspects of your business.

What you decide to put into your handbook depends on how you choose to run your program and what legal protections you want. Below, I have posted an outline you can use to set up your handbook. It is not an exhaustive list, but I did include the various components used in GFC's handbook. I have removed items specific to my program and left some more generalized statements that can be copied.

If you want to view my complete handbook for 2016-17, you can view that here. Please note, the outline below is just that: an outline. You will need to edit it and add your own program information to make it complete. This is a format that was approved by my licencor at my last home inspection, November 2015.

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Parent Handbook Outline

Business Name

version: Month/Year

My Name
Business Address

A Word from Department of Early Education and Care

EEC is the agency that oversees the early education and care and after school services for families in Massachusetts.  As the agency that licenses child care, EEC has quality standards for all licensed programs to ensure high educational value, as well as health and safety. Having a license means that I have demonstrated that I meet the standards outlines in the EEC regulations.

To obtain your own copy of EEC Family Child Care Regulations, you may download them from the EEC website at:

For information about my regulatory compliance history, you may contact our local EEC regional office, whose contact information is as follows:

10 Austin St.
Worcester, MA

Mission Statement


Program Hours & Closures
Regular program hours
Regularly Scheduled Closings:

Inclement Weather:
Closings where payment is not required:

Program Fees
Multiple Child Discount:
Additional Fees:
Late tuition payment costs $20 per day.
Late pick-up fee
Returned Check
Scheduled early drop off and late pick up

To withdrawal from the program, written notice is required 2 weeks in advance. No refunds for tuition will be given. There is no deposit, therefore, no deposit will be refunded. If no notice is given before the last day of attendance, 2 full weeks tuition will be added to the balance. Parent/Guardian is responsible for all legal fees, any lost income, or other costs I incur while attaining that balance.

GFC reserves the right to terminate a contract at any time for any reason. Notice will be given in writing.

Owner & Lead Teacher:
Use of Assistants:
Staff health records, driver's licenses, certifications, DEEC qualifications, DOE licence, CPR/First Aid certification, and documentation of orientation and professional development are kept on site. These are available for view upon request.

Open Door & Breastfeeding Policy

Sick Policy
I can care for mildly ill children in my program, however there will be times when you will need to keep your children at home. If your child is sent home due to illness, regardless of any diagnosis or lack thereof they will not be able to attend the following school day during the same week. If your child is too ill to attend to normal activity on a stay-at-home-day, please keep them home from school on the following school day.
If your child is unable to play, eat, sleep, and/or toilet as they would on any other day, then they should be kept at home.  If your child has a fever (100.5+), diarrhea, vomiting, contagious illness (such as conjunctivitis or strep throat), or lice, you should keep them out of care until those symptoms have resolved or been under treatment for 24 hours.

If your child will be absent,

Plan for Meeting Potential Emergencies
EEC regulations require that I have a plan for meeting potential emergencies that may occur either during child care hours or at any time if they may affect the operation of the program. In the event of an evacuation emergency, I will contact the local authorities to determine whether or not to evacuate the program or to remain sheltered in place.

The escape routes from each floor of the licensed child care space are as follows:
Route 1:
Route 2:
Community Evacuation:
Emergency Contact:
Emergency Caregiver:
Steps to Ensure Child Attendance and Safety
Missing Child Policy
Hold In Place

Children’s Records
EEC regulations require me to maintain an individual written record for every child I have in care. These records include the information that parents complete at enrollment, as well as progress reports, incident reports, and other documentation regarding your child’s care. All child information must be updated upon enrollment and annually. All child enrollment packets will be updated in August of each year, with the exception of children who are newly enrolled during the month of August. Enrollment packets are given out on site. Child immunization and health records must be updated upon enrollment and annually. All child immunizations and health records must be current, within 12 months.

As a parent, you have access to the record that I maintain for your child and you have the right to add information or request that information in your child’s records be changed or deleted. You also have a right to receive a copy of your child’s record. One copy is allotted each year free of charge, if requested. Additional copies are $15 each.

EEC regulations required that I make children’s records available to EEC at any time that EEC may request these records, such as during a licensing/monitoring visit, a complaint investigation, or a financial review of my program. Failure to provide these records to EEC could result in EEC citing me for regulatory non-compliance or taking legal action against my license. When EEC staff members review children’s records in order to ensure that I am in compliance with EEC regulation, at times that may copy and keep the information found in these records in order to review my compliance with all EEC regulations and policies applicable to my program. This information will be kept in my EEC Licensing file or in EEC’s financial monitoring file if the information involves issues related to subsidized care. EEC is required by law to keep confidential any personally identifiable information found in children’s records collected and maintained by EEC staff members. EEC has a Privacy Policy which discusses how EEC keeps such information confidential. That policy can be found by going to the EEC website: http://www.eec.state.ma.use/docs1/20101124_eec_privacy_policy.pdf.

Please let me know about any questions you have regarding your child’s record.

Maintaining a Safe Environment
EEC has a number of licensing standards related to safety in a Family Child Care Home. Most of these standard outline common safety precautions such as making dangerous materials inaccessible to children, covering outlets, having a first aid kit, practicing evacuation drills, gating stairs, windows, or heating elements, posting emergency numbers, and maintaining a clean, hazard-free indoor space. Also, the outdoor space must be safe and hazard free and there should be no access to a busy street, water, construction materials, rusty or broken play materials, debris, glass, or peeling paint.

Lead Poisoning Prevention
All Family Child Care Educators are required by EEC to provide parents with information regarding the risk of lead poisoning. The following are some facts that all parents should know about lead and lead poisoning:

- Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Lead is poison when it gets into the body.

- Lead can stay in the body for a long time. Young children absorb lead more easily than adults. The harm done by lead may never go away. Lead in the body can: hurt the brain, kidneys, and nervous system; slow down growth and development; make it hard to learn; damage hearing and speech; cause behavior problems.

- Most of the lead poisoning in Massachusetts comes from lead paint dust in older homes. Many homes built before 1978 have lead paint on the inside and outside of the building.
- When old paint peels and cracks, it creates lead paint chips and lead dust. Lead dust also comes from opening and closing old windows.

- Lead dust lands on the floor. Lead gets into children’s bodies when they put their hands and toys in their mouths. Children can also breathe in lead dust. Children between the ages of 9 months and 6 years are most at risk.

- Important: Home repairs and renovations also create lead dust.

- Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick. A lead test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning. Ask your doctor to test your child for lead.
- Some children may have: upset stomach, trouble eating or sleeping, headache, trouble paying attention.

As mentioned earlier, if your child is over nine months of age, you will need to provide documentation to me that your child has been screened for lead poisoning. Most children will be screened annually until either age three or four, depending on where the child lives.

I am require to disclose to you if I am aware of any known sources of lead in my home. Information regarding known sources of lead in my home are unknown. The home was built in 1973. The lower level area that is used for Garrison Family Care was finished as a livable space in the 1980’s.

For more information on lead poisoning you can visit http://www.mass.gov/dph/clppp or call the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program at 800-532-9571.

Supervision is critical to keeping children safe. I will appropriately supervise children in order to ensure their health and safety at all times. I will use good judgment and consider several factors in determining the appropriate level of supervision for children including age, developmental needs, behavioral characteristics, the nature of activities and the space we are using. If you have any questions about how I supervise the children in my program, please ask.

Safe Sleep
Supervision of children is equally important during times that a child is sleeping at the program, particularly when that child is an infant. EEC has very specific regulations around safe sleep practices. All infants are places on their backs to sleep, unless a child’s physician orders otherwise, such an order must be given in writing.

I check on children at least every 15 minutes during naptime. If your child is less than six months old, I will directly supervise them during naptime for the first six weeks they are in care. For more information regarding Safe Sleep go to review the Family Child Care Policies section of www.eec.state.ma.us.

Children have a regularly scheduled rest time after lunch. All children must be on their mats for the first portion of rest time; children are not required to sleep. Rest time takes place in the play room. Children have individual nap mats and they can bring sheet, blankets, and stuffed toys from home to use during the time.

Children who no longer nap will be able to use quiet toys, puzzles, and books after those who need naps fall asleep. At no time will a child be forced to sleep or be denied sleep.

Breakfast and Snacks
Infants should bring food, formula, and/or breast-milk that has been provided at home with no ill effects. No new food will be given to infants while they are in my care.


Self Help Skills
During meals, children will be encouraged to serve and feed themselves as often as possible. Children will have opportunity to help prepare food, use butter knives, and drink from open cups.

My home is not set up as an allergy free environment. If your child has a food allergy, please get in touch to discuss your options. I am CPR and first aid certified through the American Heart Association, which includes training for epinephrine pens.

Curriculum and Progress Reports
Curriculum at Garrison Family Care is designed for children ages 24 months - 5 years of age.

Infant/Toddler Curriculum

School Readiness

Daily Routine

Special Needs

Progress Reports

Child Guidance

Child Guidance Plan falls in line with regulations set by DEEC. 

Medication Administration
EEC has regulations requiring Educators to have a policy regarding the administration of medication to children in care. As a licensed Family Child Care Educator, I am required to take medication administration training.  The following guidelines are common to all programs that are licensed by EEC:

Prescription Medication:  
- Prescription medication must be brought to the program in the original container and include the child’s name, the name of the medication, the dosage, the number of times per day and the number of days the medication is to be administered. This prescription label will be accepted as the written authorization of the physician.
- The program will not administer any medication contrary to the directions on the label unless so authorized by written order of the child’s physician.
- The parent must fill out the Authorization for Medication Form before the medication can be administered.

Non-Prescription Medication
- The program needs written parental authorization to administer oral non-prescription medication. The parent must fill out the Authorization for Medication form, which allows the Educator to administer the non-prescription medication. The statement must be renewed on a weekly basis.
- In the case of unanticipated non-prescription medication that is used to treat mild symptoms, the program must still have written parental authorization, however it must be renewed annually.
- The Educator wil make every attempt to contact the parent prior to the child receiving the non-prescription medication unless the child needs the medication urgently or when contacting the parent would delay appropriate care unreasonably.

Topical Ointments and Sprays
- Topical ointments and sprays, such as petroleum jelly, sunscreen, diaper rash ointment and insect repellant, will be administered to the child with written parental permission. The signed statement from the parent will be valid for one year and include a list of topical non-prescription medication.
- When the topical ointments and sprays are applied to wounds, rashes, or broken skin, the Educator will follow the written procedure for non-prescription medication which includes the written order of the physician, which is valid for a year, and the Authorization for Medication form signed by the parent.

All Medications
- The first dose must be administered by the parent at home in case of an allergic reaction.
- All medications must be given to the Educator directly by the parent.
- All medications will be stored out of reach of children. All medications that are considered controlled substances must be locked and kept out of reach of children.
- The Educator will be responsible for the administration of medication. In her absence, the emergency contact care person.
- The program will maintain and written record of administration of any medication (excluding topical ointments and sprays applied to unbroken skin) which will include the child’s name, the time and date of each administration, the dose, the name of the person administering the medication. This completed record will become part of the child’s file.
- All unused medication will be returned to the parent if possible, or disposed of in accordance with the Department of Public Health guidelines.

Oral Health

Parent Notifications
I am required by EEC regulations to notify you of certain information about my family child care home. These notification include, but are not limited to:
- an injury to your child
- allegations of abuse or neglect regarding your child
- if another educator will be caring for your child
- the administering of first aid to your child
- whenever a communicable disease has been identified in the program
- children being taken off the child care premises
- the existence of firearms in my home
- if there are any changes in my household composition
- prior to any pets being introduced into the program
- whenever special problems or significant developments arise

GFC will not be responsible for any accident or injury involving your child that may occur in the course of normal play. Parents or legal guardians agree that any medical insurance and/or medical bills for their child will be the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian.

Mandated Reporter
As a licensed Educator in Massachusetts, I must operate my program in a way that protects children from abuse and neglect. As such, I am a mandated reported (under M. G. L. c.119 s51A) and must make a report to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) whenever I have reasonable cause to believe a child in the program is suffering from a serious physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse inflicted upon the child or from neglect, no matter where abuse and neglect may have occurred or by whom it was inflicted.

Communication and Staying Involved
Daily Information
Family Participation

Outdoor Play
What I Need From You
On or before the first day your child attends child care, I need a copy of the completed Enrollment Packet, Enrollment Contract (to be competed on site), and the first & last weeks of tuition. Without these completed documents, which must be updated annually, I cannot care for your child. The reason for this is so that I have all the important information and phone numbers I will need in order to provide the best possible care for your child.

Medical Information
Medical information about your child must be given to me within one (1) month from the day your child begins care.
There are three (3) pieces of medical information I will need:
1. A statement from a physician or health care professional that says your child received a physical exam within the part year;
2. Evidence that your child has been immunized as recommended by the Department of Public Health;
3. If your child is nine (9) months of age, 1, 2, or 3 years old, a statement from a physician or health care professional which says that your child has been screened for lead poisoning.

Please Note: Your child’s immunization record must be updated and given to me in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s immunization schedule. Also, your child’s lead screening report must be updated as required by Department of Public Health Regulations. This report must also be given to me. If your child is school age, I can accept a written statement that the required information is on file with the child’s school.

What to Send With Your Child

What to Keep at Home - Please do NOT send these items
- toys, especially toys that are typically used for violence or that are special (like new birthday gift)
- candy, gum, medicine, cough drops
- chap stick, purfume, lip stick, nail polish, etc
- money, real or pretend
- electronic devices, phones, iPads, Kindles, cameras, computers/laptops

Signing the Enrollment Contract ensures that you, the parents and/or guardians, have read, understand, and agree to this Parent Handbook.