We are getting ready to babyproof our home, and since you are no doubt an expert in that area I'm wondering if you could share with me links or product names for the items you find most reliable? Specifically...
Good plan to child proof way before you need to. Usually people do the opposite! Most of the time I just go to Amazon and look up each item and order based on reviews or get things donated or cheap on Craigslist.
But here are the items I use and like:
1) baby gates - I love our IKEA pressure mounted ones with the extra security of using closet rod mounts screwed into the door frames (got them at Home Depot). We also have this regalo one that fits into the closet rod cups. Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate, White, Fits spaces between 29" and 39" Widehttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B001OC5UMQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_JemUxbMZ0KJ6X
2) cabinet locks
The really simple ones should work if you don't have your child home 24/7 like these: Dreambaby Safety Catches, 12 Count https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003NSAY7U/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_QJmUxbTR88BYV
But my favorite kinds that you can turn on an off are the magnet type. These kinds don't even need to be screwed in. They may not last if a child pulls them for a sustained amount of time, but likely they are strong enough since its unlikely to have an unsupervised child mess with a baby lock got a long time.
Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks - No Tools Or Screws Needed, 4 Locks + 1 Keyhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PV6H3Z8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_FKmUxbCYN7A3Y
I also like these for things like oven doors or fridges:
BabyKeeps Adjustable Child Safety Locks - Latches to Baby Proof Cabinets, Drawers, Fridge, Oven, Dishwasher, Toilet Seat - No Tools or Drilling - BONUS: Reusable With Extra 3M Adhesive Included - Childproof Your Home in Style - Adorable Box Ideal For Baby Shower Gift - Ivory White - 6 Packhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UE7RLJM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_JMmUxbJGP7BEH
3) toilet locks
I've tried several, all of them fall off near immediately, so my advice is that children should never be unsupervised in the bathroom since there is risk of water for slipping and drowning.
4) bathrooms - should have knob covers inside and out. I like to disable the lock inside by using a knob cover like this: Safety 1st OutSmartTM Knob Covers https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BTUNK5Q/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_oQmUxbRZGSNKG
Make sure to move hazardous liquids into high up and locked cabinets. Even medic if cabinets can get dangerous so it's best lock those too.
5) kitchens are another area I think should be gated off or have knob covers. It's not safe for children to ever be unattended in kitchens. There are too many hazards. If you want him to hang out in the kitchen with you, I'd lock all the cabinets except for one. In that one you can put things like tupperwares that you should expect to be everywhere all over the kitchen every time he is in there. I'd limit the quantity so that it doesn't become a behavior that frustrates you.
6) electrical cords and outlets:
I have come to like the kinds that is a self closing outlet cover: Self-Closing Electrical Outlet Covers for Baby Proofing | Automatic Sliding Electrical Safety Covers | Made with BPA Free Plastic (4 Pack, White)https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CHM3X4I/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_TUmUxb2F79ZN4
But sometimes they reduce the effectiveness. We have several kinds of outlet covers at school. Some children I think given enough time would be able to pull
Some of them out. The ones they can't are smooth, but then again sometimes we can pull them out either : Dreambaby Outlet Plugs, 24 Count https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001DD68YA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_4VmUxbWNZ2CNQ
As for outlet cords, I try to have all the cords behind furniture to reduce risk of tripping and chewing on cords, or pulling them out. If that doesn't work, I honestly love zip ties for everything! But if you don't mind thousands of holes in your wall you can consider this: Cable Matters (200-Pack) Nail-In Cable Clipshttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y362HSA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_SXmUxbEG51FZB
7) drop your crib way early. Kids can tip out of cribs easily! And while you're sleeping and they are practicing new found skills is the perfect time for accidents to happen. Same as if you let kids sleep in your bed. One day, a parent may put them in the middle of a king mattress even if they don't usually seem to move much and they can end up on the floor. Ouch! These two things have happened to Mighty Bambinis parents! So my advice is never leave a baby on a mattress while they are sleeping or away and leave.
My general philosophy when it comes to baby proofing:
1) do it before you think you need to. Way before. Babies and kids always surprise us. It is safe until it's not, but it may be too late.
2) you want your space to be a "yes space"
So that you can cut down on the times you say, "be careful," "that's not safe" and "no."
Some children will test us constantly. Some things you may need to remove completely like tables that become climbing structures for testing toddlers. Others you just come up with effective boundaries and enforce them 100% of the time in a unruffled, matter of fact way.
3) make a 100% safe space. This is a RIE idea. Magda Gerber, RIE founder, said there should always be a place somewhere in a house, where all caregivers got locked out of the house the children would be safe, apart from injuring each other (as in group care). To do this many people use gate enclosures like this: North States Superyard 3-in-1 Metal Gate https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000U5FOT2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_04mUxbMAZRR7X
4) choking hazards - crawling babies see literally everything and before you can get to them they put it in their mouth. Regularly scan the environment for small things on the floor like coins, bottle caps, and if you have an older child beads, small toys. You can test if it is a choking hazard using this tool: Safety 1st Small Object Choking Tester https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0062TNEOC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_P6mUxbVBQY4PG
5) keep the floors clean: try to limit shoes in the house, or clean floor often. Babies spend all day on the floor and shoes track in germs.
Having a safe place to play makes life as a parent / nanny / childcare provider sooo so much easier! You can never be 100% attentive all of the time.
Mighty Bambinis Parent Handbook
License # 384002594
Staples Ave & Phelan Ave
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94112
Phone: (415) 841-3271
Dear New Mighty Bambinis Community Member,
Welcome to the Mighty Bambinis community. We are so excited that you have chosen our program for your family’s childcare needs. And important part of providing quality care every day for your child, is to create a stable, enriching environment by following fiscal and operational policies. Please keep a copy of this handbook for your reference about Mighty Bambinis’ policies and procedures. If you have any questions at all please feel free to drop by, call or email us with your questions.
Mighty Bambinis is not just a childcare program, we are a community. Every new child and family contributes to the diversity and vitality of our program. We hope that you will participate in community events, parent nights, and feel free to visit your child at any time. We look forward to working with you, caring and playing with your child(ren), and sharing and growing as a community of friends.
Owner/Director & Lead Teacher
Table of Contents
1) Program Description
b) Sample Schedule
c) Age Grouping & Group Size
2) Hours of Operation & Releasing from Care
a) Hours of Operation
b) School Closures
c) Substitute Care Arrangements
d) Drop Off / Pick up Windows
e) Drop Off & Pick Up Routines
g) Releasing a Child from Care
a) Enrollment documentation
b) Notice of Changes
c) Probationary Period
e) Provider Termination
4) Financial Agreements & Policies
c) Early Drop Off / Late Pick Up Fees
d) Financial Agreement
e) General Supplies (who provides what)
5) Health and Safety
a) Meals & Snacks
b) Sample Menu
e) Toilet Learning
f) Behavior Management
g) Field Trips
i) Child Abuse
j) Evacuation Plan
k) Dog on Premise
6) Other Policies
a) Damage Policy
c) Revisions to Handbook & Contract
1) Program Description
We believe children are competent, curious, resourceful learners. Our approach is inspired by the philosophies of Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Magda Gerber's RIE approach. We respect children by allowing them to develop at their own pace rather than expecting them to meet developmental milestones on our timetable. We show this through caring individualized support, positive encouragement, affection, frequent eye contact, and communicating at the child’s level. Children are encouraged to respect others and to care for one another.
Our curriculum provides firm limits and predictable routines, but within that framework children are entrusted with freedom to explore, make choices, play, and build autonomy. Our thoughtful and intentionally designed environment fosters children’s interests, relationships, and opportunities work cooperatively. Materials and projects are selected based on children’s interests and provoke a spirit of experimentation and inquiry.
We are dedicated to providing care in a safe and healthy environment and teaching all members of our community with compassion and respect. We know that children are part of families first and foremost, as such we a committed to providing family- and child-centered care.
Our schedule provides a predictable routine for children around their natural rhythms around their needs for eating, sleeping, and diapering/toileting. In between we have time for free choice play and exploration of the space. We will have one to two planned activities facilitated and supervised by teachers per day.
For young infants, sleep schedules will reflect each child’s rhythm and be modeled after what routines you use at home whenever possible. Bottle-feeding will be on demand and based on parental consultation.
8:00am – 9:30am Arrival, greeting children and parents, wellness checks. Free Play and morning projects.
9:30am - 9:45am Circle Time / Morning Meeting
9:45am - 10:00am Morning Snack (organic, home-made, healthy)
10:00am - 11:45am Self-directed play in learning areas outside, neighborhood walks (CCSF, Library, Playgrounds, etc)
11:45am - 12:15pm Lunch & Lunch Preparation - Wash hands, potty, set table, family-style lunch, clean up after meal.
12:15pm - 12:45pm Nap transition - Potty/diaper changes, wash hands, brush teeth, read book before nap
12:45pm - 3:30pm Naptime for older infants and toddlers; individualized wake up; Infants / toddlers not sleeping – free choice play, one-on-one time
3:30pm – 3:45pm Afternoon snack
3:45pm - 5:00pm Free Play / Projects- self-directed play, movement group activities, guided learning for individuals (such as sensory experiences, art, science, “writing”), often outside.
5:00pm - 5:30pm Pick Up / Free choice play
Age Grouping and Group Size
We are licensed by the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing. Our facility number is 384002594. We typically have 12 children with 3 or 4 experienced teachers.
2) Hours of Operation & Releasing from Care
Mighty Bambinis' operating hours begin 8:00am and end 5:30pm Monday through Friday. During enrollment, parents inform Mighty Bambinis’ staff of their expected routine drop off and pick up times. This help us know who to prepare breakfast and late afternoon snack for, as well as when / who will go with us on walks for example. We fully support spending as much time as time as a family as possible. So it is fine to deviate from your expected drop off and picks up times, however, it would be helpful to contact staff in advance regarding these non-routine days.
School Closures (Holidays)
Mighty Bambinis will be closed on the following days (in line with SFUSD):
· New Year’s Eve and New Years Day
· Martin Luther King Day
· Lunar New Year
· President’s Day
· Spring Break (last week of March W-F)
· Memorial Day (observed on Monday)
· Independence Day (4th of July) Week Break (M-F)
· Labor Day
· Columbus / Indigenous Peoples Day
· Veteran’s Day
· Thanksgiving Break (W – F)
· Winter Break (Monday before Christmas to New Years Day)
*There are no refunds or credits for the above Federal holidays & reserved day offs. You are financially responsible for any day that your child is not in attendance when the childcare is open.
Substitute Care Arrangements and Unexpected School Closure
It is extremely unlikely that there would be an unexpected school closure. However, in the event of a natural disaster, citywide emergency, extreme weather day, etc. - the parent, not the provider is responsible for arranging substitute care and will not receive a refund for additional time closed. We will follow emergency school closure days as dictated by SFUSD.
We may need to take personal days due to personal or family needs, including (but not limited to) personal or family sick leave, funeral leave, or professional development. When we close our business for these emergency purposes, you will not pay for that date. We will prorate the difference to you. You are responsible for finding a substitute child care provider for the duration of our closure.
Drop Off / Pick Up Windows
Mighty Bambinis’ operating hours are M – F 8:00am to 5:30pm year-round, excluding National Holidays and our 3 weeks of closures (see Hours of Operation). In general, children should arrive between 8:00am – 9:00am and be picked up between 4:30pm – 5:30pm. Children should ideally have sunscreen on and breakfast at home before coming to childcare. Please let staff know if they are hungry or need their first application of sunscreen at drop off.
Drop Off and Pick Up Routines
A quick, loving, and consistent goodbye ritual is encouraged from the first week of the children’s enrollment. Sneaking away and not saying goodbye are disorienting and scary for children.
One best practice for helping a child adjust to childcare is to come with your child for 1-2 hours on the first day as a way for your child to become familiar with the teachers and surroundings. After the transitional day, it is best to begin a quick, loving and consistent goodbye ritual (about 1-5 minutes). The director and teachers can help to create a goodbye ritual for your family.
Sign In & Out
Parents or authorized friend/family member must sign in and sign out when picking up and dropping off a child.
At arrival, Mighty Bambinis staff will do a wellness check with parents to ensure the child is healthy enough to participate in the day’s activities. This may include a diaper change, overall check of the child’s emotional and physical state, and conversation about the child’s health, night and morning. Children must arrive wearing sunscreen (after 6 months), clean, fully dressed with nails cut short.
We ask parents and children to leave their shoes outside before entering in the designated areas for shoes.
Please call/text by 8:30am if the child is not coming in to childcare that day.
Releasing a child from care
Unless we are instructed in writing to do otherwise, the childcare will only release the child to the following persons: (1) either parent, (2) a predestinated emergency contact person, or (3) any other guardian authorized in writing by the parent. We reserve the right to keep a child at the childcare if we are not completely certain about any person who has come to pick up the child. The parent(s) will be contacted immediately if this happens. For the safety of the child, we will also not release a child to a parent/guardian who appears intoxicated.
The parent(s) are responsible to notify the childcare if there is any family situation change at home, especially when there is custody battle. We must have a copy of a court order in order to deny a parent the right to pick up a child.
Prior to attending Mighty Bambinis, parents are required to provide the following information: copy of parent/guardian ID, enrollment form (including emergency contact, pick up authorization, child’s health history), photo release form, and immunization record. Proof of immunization is required by law before admittance to childcare. In addition to ensure each child receives the care they need, we will require a personal interview with the parent and child where we will fill out the Child Needs and Services Plan.
A child will not be considered enrolled, and the spot will not be reserved, until a signed copy of the Contract & Rate Agreement and a non-refundable deposit of the first month’s fee is received (applied to last month).
You’ll be given a supply list for daily supplies. Please be sure to maintain your supplies on a daily basis.
Notice of Changes
The parents must provide notice immediately of any changes regarding the contact information, or medical health insurance coverage, or other significant health issues. Please submit updated immunization records to Mighty Bambinis after doctor's visits.
Because we are dedicated to provide only quality care, and because we care deeply for all children, there may be times, unfortunately, when the care we provide is not suitable for certain children. The first 14 calendar days will be considered a probationary period for all parties including the child, parents, and provider. Should the arrangement prove to be unsatisfactory for either the parents or the provider, the contract may be terminated.
If the parent is planning to withdraw the children from the childcare, parents must provide a written termination notice 60 days prior to last day of care, to ensure adequate time to fill the opening. The notice shall be signed and dated by Evelyn Nichols. Failure to provide 60 days notice will result in a loss of your deposit.
We reserve the right to terminate care for the following reasons (but not limited to):
· Lack of compliance with handbook regulations
· Lack of parental cooperation, disrespect
· Continual or serious behavioral issues with the child
· Our inability to meet the child’s needs
· Serious illness of the child or the provider.
The provider may terminate this contract at will, in this case, the monthly tuition will be prorated. We will give two-weeks written notice of terminating childcare.
4) Financial Agreements & Policies
A non-refundable deposit of the first month’s fee is required to hold and guarantee a position for a child and to cease further competition for that position. The fee should be due upon your child’s acceptance at Mighty Bambinis, and will be applied to the last month’s tuition.
Fees for 2015-2016 School Year
Full-time Infant Program (0-24 months)= $2,800 / month
Full-time Preschool Program (24+ months) = $2,300/ month
Part-time Fees (only available for 24+ months) - currently unavailable
Part-time schedules are for full days that are consistent from week to week (i.e. Tom comes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays every week; Caroline comes Thursday and Fridays weekly).
2 days / week = $1000/ month
3 days / week = $1,500 / month
Monthly tuition includes organic meals and snacks.
* Tuition is consistent from month to month, regardless of the number of days/hours in the month that the child attends. Tuition is subject to change on a yearly basis. Individual contract prices are valid for calendar year Jan to Dec.
A one-time $30 application fee, $75 registration fee, and a materials fee ($300 for part-time, $500 for full-time) is due at enrollment.
Tuition should be paid by a check or Brightwheel (preferred).
Deposit to hold the spot is one month's tuition applied to your last month. Tuition is due on the 1st of the month, prior to receiving care, each month. On or before your child's first day, you are responsible for the first month’s tuition, the annual materials fee, and registration fee. A $25.00 late fee is charged per day late for the payment. In the event that payment is late by a period of 3 days, the child will not be admitted to Mighty Bambinis, until the payment has been made.
$40 service charge is applied to all return checks.
No refund on tuition is given for the scheduled childcare’s holidays/reserved day-offs, child’s illness, any absence, or vacation periods.
General supplies (who supplies what):
Early Drop Off / Late Pick Up Fees:
Parents are charged $1 per minute for the first hour of late pick up or early drop off (prior to the 7:55am), paid immediately upon arrival.
Your backup authorized pick up list will be notified if we are unable to get ahold of either parent by 6:15pm. Parents are required to make contact within the first hour of being late. Failure to make contact with Mighty Bambini staff within one hour of pick-up time may be reason to file a report with Child Protective Services. Consistent early drop off and/or late pick-up may result in the dismissal of the child from the program.
To avoid late pick-ups and associated fees, it is a good idea to have numerous people in advance on the designated approved pick up list as backup.
5) Health & Safety
Meals and Snacks
We are committed to providing homemade meals and healthy snacks for the children (generally following WIC guidelines). We will use organic ingredients whenever possible, and try foods from a variety of cultures. Water will accompany all meals and snacks. Food will be introduced around 6 months, or when you pediatrician recommends. For older infants (after 9 months), children will be encouraged to feed themselves in the fashion of baby-led weaning. This encourages fine motor coordination, independence, and better self-regulation of food consumption. Children eat family style to support a sense of community.
Parents can check the menu board to see what nutritious meals and snacks we will serve each day. You may bring snacks to share, but please do not bring any sweets, candies, or gum for your child.
Breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack will be provided. Young infants will be fed on demand.
Sample Menu for 1+ years old
(Infants 6 – 9 months will have pureed fruits, vegetables, and grains)
**Please discuss any food allergies at time of intake, or whenever they are discovered.
We realize that it can be a burden on you to keep your child home when she or he is sick, but often when children start in group childcare, they get sick. To try to minimize the children’s exposure, please help us by taking the following precautions with us:
For the sake of all of the children please keep your child home if she or he is sick enough to be contagious or sick enough not to be able to participate normally in our activities. If a child has any of the following illnesses or conditions, parents must keep a child at home:
Any other symptoms, which are in the opinion of the caregiver, indicating the possible presence of a contagious disease such as chicken pox, measles, impetigo, etc. – the parent may be required to obtain a doctor’s note before the child returns to childcare.
In order to return from childcare after being sick, a child must:
(1) Be free from fever for a full 24 hours
(2) If on antibiotics, have taken them for a full 24 hours
(3) Runny nose must be clear, not green or yellow
If your child has or has been exposed to certain communicable diseases, we may need to notify the other families and possibly the Health Department. If your child has any of them, he or she should stay home, and please call to inform us as soon as possible. These diseases include (but not limited to):
Diarrheal diseases (such as Shigella and Salmonella)
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Rubella (German Measles)
If the child becomes sick while at childcare, the parent will be notified, and will arrange for pick-up of the child within 1 hours of notification. Should any serious illness or injury befall the child, the provider reserves the right to immediately call 911, or other emergency aid. Should any cost be attached to emergency aid, the parent shall be responsible unless the injury or illness is the fault of the provider.
Mighty Bambinis staff are not responsible for administering any medication to your child, except life saving emergency medications such as epi-pen or inhalers for children diagnosed with asthma or allergies.
All prescriptions (and creams including suncreen and toothpaste) must be in the original containers with the patient’s name, dosage and prescribed time to be given. The doctor must complete a medical form before medication can be administered. Parents must have a signed Medication Release form on file per medication.
We take a very relaxed attitude towards potty training. Please realize this is toilet training is a developmental milestone and accomplishment of the child. While at school, children will be given the opportunity to potty when they are interested. Children should not be compared on how the others are doing. Children will be trained easily when they are ready. The parents should begin the toileting process at home. We will follow up with toilet training suggestions and develop a plan together for your child. Underwear should be worn by children not wearing diapers.
Our environment is set up as a “yes space” meaning that is it is safe and teachers encourage children to explore freely and choose their own activities. In addition, with out small group size we are able to provide support for each child reducing their volatile moods, fussiness and conflict between children.
We understand that “twos” and preschool children are learning to exhibit a sense of self and competency and embrace their “me do it” and “no” attitudes as a healthy part of the development of autonomy. We set firm, consistent limits for toddlers in a respectful way. These limits provide them with the security they need to know they will be kept safe. Their social and emotional development are one of the most important parts of our time with your children. Our bank of "discipline" / teaching strategies include;
Going outside to nearby locations (for example: Sunnyside Playground, CCSF Child Observation classes, Balboa Park, Aptos Playground, Ingleside Branch Library, or grocery stores) for enrichment will be a regularly weekly part of our program. However, field trips that require are car or the use of public transportation will require a separate form for you to provide parent authorization for your child to attend and to authorize someone other than the child’s parent to transport the child. It would be ideal if parents can join us on field trips, as additional chaperoning will be necessary.
We have a written fire evacuation plan and practice a fire drill with the children at least once every six months. We also keep a written earthquake plan and practice once every month.
Any child who receives a minor cut or bruise will be tended to by first aid certified personnel. An injury report (Boo Boo Report) will be filled out by the teacher in attendance, and one copy of the report will go to the parent and one copy will be placed in the injured child’s file. You will receive a call immediately if medical care may be necessary. Generally, you will receive a call if a Boo Boo Report is filed out for such things as scrapes, bumps that produce abrasions or bruises, and more.
All caregivers are required by law to report any suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.
With parent’s help, Mighty Bambinis has a designated 3-day evacuation for each child. We hope that we never have to evacuate our facility. However, in the event of a temporary relocation here are the two sites we might be. We will do our best to contact you if we are able, so it is essential to have correct contact information for you and your emergency contacts.
The best contact to reach us at is 858-228-6536 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our temporary evacuation sites are:
Little Lemon Tree Nursery School
1 Gennessee Street, San Francisco, CA 94112
CCSF Chasing Lions Cafe (CCSF parking lot)
50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco CA 94112
Dog on Premise
Mighty Bambinis childcare has a dog (Nina) on premise. She is well mannered and good with children. She will spend some of every day interacting with the children under the supervision of Mighty Bambinis staff. Enrolling at Mighty Bambinis means that you are comfortable with your child interacting with our dog.
6) Other Policies
If damage is deemed over and above, normal wear and tear at a childcare, parents must provide reimbursement for any damage over $10.00 caused directly by a child, within a 2-week period.
The provider will provide appropriate childcare provider insurance. The parties agree to resolve all disputes by submitting them to a neutral mediator, and thereafter to arbitration by a neutral arbitration should mediation fail to resolve the dispute. Parties shall share equally in the cost of mediation/arbitration.
Revisions to Handbook & Contract
There will be occasional revisions to this handbook and the accompanying contract at which time you will be asked to sign a new contract. We reserve the right to make changes in policies, as we deem necessary. The parents will be notified, in writing, of any changes that may occur.
Parent Communication / Grievances
Our goal is to keep lines of communication open with families. We value your participation and input, so do not hesitate to bring up ideas for your child or our program, suggestions for improvement, or just share things about yourself or life. We hope to resolve conflicts in a way that shows that we respect you/your family, your child, and your culture and values.
As a Reggio inspired program, we believe that documentation is essential for learning. Documentation is important for keeping track of memories, keeping you up-to-date about your child’s learning and discoveries, as well as a great tool for assessment. We will be making a diary for your child capturing their story while at Mighty Bambinis. We’ll keep photos, your child’s work, notes and observations and more. Our goal is to add content to it weekly, if not daily. You and your child can see it whenever you’d like, it will be keep on a shelf above the cubbies.
Why should I send my child to Mighty Bambinis?
At Mighty Bambinis, you will find a small family-like environment, with caregivers who will respect and cherish your child as much as you do. Evelyn and her team are experienced educators committed to providing enriching, loving, and reliable care. Our program is Reggio and RIE-inspired. Our “third teacher” (the space itself) encourages children to express themselves in various media and our curriculum is guided by the children’s interests and curiosity. We strive to provide children with opportunities to explore and construct their own understandings of the world around them. Through their daily experiences, they will gain as sense of self, competence and confidence in all of their abilities.
All Mighty Bambinis children, including Evelyn’s daughter Noelle, are infants and young toddlers that are close in age so they will all grow up together as friends. We encourage the children to have respectful encounters with their peers as an important part of their social and emotional development.
A few things that differentiate us from other childcare programs are:
- Unhurried, intention-filled, personalized family-centered care (RIE, Magda Gerber inspired)
- Indoor and large outdoor spaces to learn and explore (Reggio-designed)
- After 6-7 months of age, infants will be exposed to Baby Sign Language which helps babies communicate - reducing frustration, improving confidence, and developing language acquisition skills
-Homemade organic, food will be prepared daily for infants/toddlers old enough for solids
-Daily email logs with photos, daily face-to-face discussions with parents, parent conferences, community activities, and a diary for each child
Learn more about our Program's Reggio and RIE approach.
What are Mighty Bambinis hours?
We are open year-round Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 5:30pm. We will be closed some breaks (Christmas/New Years, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving) and on most SFUSD Holidays. We can be flexible with early drop-offs and late pick up, although fees will apply.
What ages and number of kids do you have?
We have 12 children on site each day with a 1:4 ratio (and sometimes even a 1:3 ratio). For the 2016 school year, we have 9 preschoolers (24+ months- 4 years old) and 3 infants.
What training do your staff have?
Our full-time teaching staff has a combined 50 years of classroom experience. Evelyn is an experienced elementary educator and early childhood teacher/caregiver. She has a Masters in Education, CA CTC Site Supervisor Permit, CA teaching credentials, and numerous Early Childhood Education credits. Her team of teachers love children and posses the observational and creative vision to create opportunities big and small for everyday discovery and explorations. All teachers are Infant / Pediatric CPR trained and have a clear background checks.
Learn more about Our Teachers.
What is your curriculum?
We are RIE and Reggio-inspired meaning we create meaningful project-based emergent curriculum based on children's interests. We provide developmentally appropriate care, activities and environments that stem from our careful observations of children's emerging skills and interests. We believe young children are competent, curious, resourceful learners. Within a predictable, individual rhythm of daily life (eating, sleeping, diapering, playing), children are free to explore.
For instance, the children recently became interested in letters and communication. It started when one child's mother sent a letter from home to help ease separation anxiety. They other children wanted to write letters to their "sad" friend, and soon their parents. We enlisted the help of family members in a package and mail project, and for weeks children began receiving boxes and letters. They read books about mail and letters. They met our mailman Anthony who gave them a tour of his mail van, showed them how he unlocked the mailbox, and they even wrote thank you letters to all their family. They learned how concepts of print, forms of communication, fine motor skills including tracing their names, "writing" and sealing envelopes. They learned about occupations, weights and sizes of letters/packages, and so much more.
Learn more about our Philosophy.
Do you help with potty training?
Yes! We are your partners in your child's toilet learning. Toilet learning means that your child is involved in their own learning about their body's processes. It begins with signs of readiness such as bowel movement control, when a child knows the feeling of a pee/poo, etc. We believe that routine care (diapering, toileting, feeding) are important prime times for learning and relationship building.
What is your admission process?
Choosing a place and a person to care for your child is a big decision. We start by having you fill out our getting to know you form, set up a phone call, then invite you in for a tour/play date. Coming in for a play date is the best way to learn about our program and our teachers. At the tour, you'll see our indoor and outdoor spaces, learn about our program and hopefully we'll learn about you and your child, your needs, and wants. If you decide to enroll, we'll send you the enrollment paperwork and you can submit your deposit to reserve your spot. As your child's start date nears, we'll develop a transition plan to help ease the transition for everyone.
Come over for a tour and meet with Evelyn and her staff.
What are the fees?
Visit our Enrollment page for detailed information.
Read more in Our Handbook.
At Mighty Bambinis, we believe children are competent, curious, resourceful learners. Our approach is inspired by the philosophies of Reggio Emilia (read more below) and Magda Gerber's RIE approach. We respect children by allowing them to develop at their own pace rather than expecting them to meet developmental milestones on our timetable. We show this through caring individualized support, positive encouragement, affection, frequent eye contact, and communicating at the child’s level. Children are encouraged to respect others and to care for one another.
Our curriculum provides firm limits and predictable routines, but within that framework children are entrusted with freedom to explore, make choices, play, and build autonomy. Our thoughtful and intentionally designed environment fosters children’s interests, relationships, and opportunities work cooperatively. Materials and projects are selected based on children’s interests and provoke a spirit of experimentation and inquiry.
Reggio Emilia Approach UnpackedBelow is a more in-depth description of the central components of the Reggio Emilia approach:
The image of the child. All children have preparedness, potential, curiosity; they have interest in relationship, in constructing their own learning, and in negotiating with everything the environment brings to them. Children should be considered as active citizens with rights, as contributing members, with their families, of their local community.
The role of parents. Parents are an essential component of the program; a competent and active part of their children’s learning experience. They are not considered consumers but co-responsible partners. Their right to participation is expected and supported; it takes many forms from reading at home, drop-ins during the day, field trip chaperoning, attendance at parent nights, supplying materials, suggesting ideas for “school” and more.
The role of space: The infant-toddler childcare conveys the message that this is a place where adults have thought about the quality and the instructive power of space. Space is often called the “third teacher.” The layout of physical space fosters exploration, communication, and relationships.
Teachers and children as partners in learning. A strong image of the child has to correspond to a strong image of the teacher. Teachers are not considered protective baby-sitters, teaching basic skills to children but rather they are seen as learners along with the children. They are thoughtful observers and empowered to embark on projects, activities and space changes that further children’s interests and curiosities.
There is not a pre-set curriculum but a process of inviting and sustaining learning. Once teachers have prepared an environment rich in materials and possibilities, they observe and listen to the children in order to know how to proceed with their work. Teachers use the understanding they gain thereby to act as a resource for children scaffolding learning rather than showing children how to do and how to think. They ask questions and thus discover the children’s ideas, hypotheses, and theories. The children and teachers re-visit and expand their understandings together.
The power of documentation. Transcriptions of children’s remarks and discussions, photographs of their activity, and representations of their thinking and learning are traces that are carefully studied. These documents have several functions. The most important among them is to help guide projects and the everyday experiences of children. Once these documents are organized and displayed they help to make parents aware of their children’s experience and maintain their involvement. They make it possible for teachers to understand the children better and to evaluate the teachers’ own work, thus promoting their professional growth; they make children aware that their effort is valued; and furthermore, they create an archive that traces the history of the school.
The many languages of children. Children are communicative beings who should be encouraged to express themselves in many different media. A space, special workshop or studio, at a Reggio childcare is known as an “atelier.” The atelier contains a great variety of tools and resource materials, along with records of past projects and experiences. Children do not make art per se, but they use the media as an integral part of the whole cognitive/symbolic expression involved in the process of learning.
Projects. Projects provide the narrative and structure to the children’s and teachers’ learning experiences. They are based on the strong conviction that learning by doing is of great importance and that to discuss in groups and to revisit ideas and experiences is essential to gain better understanding and to learn. Projects may start either from a chance event, an idea or a problem posed by one or more children, or an experience initiated directly by teachers. They can last from a few days to several months.
Content adapted from “Frequently Asked Questions Related to Reggio Emilia Philosophies and Experiences”, Retrieved December 9, 2009, fromhttp://www.reggioalliance.org/faq.php and Introduction to the Fundamental Values of the Education of Young Children in Reggio Emilia by Lella Gandini, adapted from “Introduction to the Schools of Reggio Emilia,” Insights and Inspirations: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America, L. Gandini, S. Etheredge & L. Hill, Ed., 2008
A bit about Magda Gerber's RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers)
From Dear Parent by Magda Gerber THE BASIS OF THE RIE APPROACH:
Respect is the basis of the RIE philosophy. We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not as an object.
Our Goal: An Authentic Child
An authentic child is one who feels secure, autonomous, and competent. When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life.
Trust in an Infant's Competence
We have basic trust in the infant to be an initiator, to be an explorer eager to learn what he is ready for. Because of this trust, we provide the infant with only enough help necessary to allow the child to enjoy mastery of her own actions.
Our method, guided by respect for the infant’s competence, is observation. We observe carefully to understand the infant’s communications and his needs. The more we observe, the more we understand and appreciate the enormous amount and speed of learning that happens during the first two or three years of life. We become more humble, we teach less, and we provide an environment for learning instead.
Caregiving Times: Involving the Child
During care activities (diapering, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc.), we encourage even the tiniest infant to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient of the activities. Educarers create opportunities for interaction, cooperation, intimacy and mutual enjoyment by being wholeheartedly with the infant during the time they spend together anyway. “Refueled” by such unhurried, pleasurable caring experiences, infants are ready to explore their environment with only minimal intervention by adults.
A Safe, Challenging, Predictable Environment
Our role is to create an environment in which the child can best do all the things that the child would do naturally. The more predictable an environment is, the easier it is for babies to learn. As infants become more mobile, they need safe, appropriate space in which to move. Their natural, inborn desire to move should not be handicapped by the environment.
Time for Uninterrupted Play and Freedom to Explore
We give the infant plenty of time for uninterrupted play. Instead of trying to teach babies new skills, we appreciate and admire what babies are actually doing.
We establish clearly defined limits and communicate our expectations to develop discipline.
Read more at: http://www.rie.org/educaring/ries-basic-principles/
Introducing solids to your baby is an exciting time! It's also a little daunting, even for second time parents, because it's means you have to do more than whip out a boob or mix up some formula to feed your baby. So don't stress and have some fun. It's the start of hopefully a great relationship with food and start to healthy eating habits for life. Feeding is one of the most important relationship building caregiving times that we have with our babies. It is one of the activities, like diapering, that Magda Gerber (RIE founder) called "wants something time." It's built in time that if we fully tune in during and give undivided, unhurried attention and love we are able to build a strong relationship of trust and attachment during what could be just seen as routine caregiving. It is not a time we rush through just to get to the next "fun" activity. It is a meaningful time all on it's own.
Here are some things that the Nichols' family does, based in large part of Noelle's doctor Dr. Buccholz at UCSF when she was an infant. (Note: What foods and how fast we introduce them to our Mighty Bambinis at school, is decided in conjunction with parents and each child's doctor's advice. But I wanted to share some resources I've found informative.)
1) Eating is a fun, important time to bond and recharge our love buckets. That means whether we're holding a baby or having a few eat with us in their own seats, we are fully present, making eye contact, and discussing what is going on now - foods they are trying, what we are doing, etc. This article on Janet Lansbury's blog has great insights.
2) Make it easy. What I do is make purees buy either steaming veggies or fruit on the stove, and then blending them OR using the Beeba Babycook to do both. Then I freeze them in ice cube trays and freeze them in labeled bags. That way, food is always ready and can be thawed quickly in individual portions for each meal. Usually I will defrost 1-2 cubes of 2-3 foods per meal.
Here is a good chart of what foods to introduce when:
3) Mix up textures with purees and baby led weaning foods after 6 months old. From my experience babies that are exclusively fed using baby led weaning try less variety of foods because they "choose" what to try at such a young age. Babies need to try a new food 10-15 times before they acquire a taste for a food so I find it helpful to use purees to introduce new foods. A baby does not need to eat a lot of something to develop a new taste for something. Also babies who exclusively baby led wean, are more resistant later to having someone feed them later on. So at each meal, I find it helpful to have some finger foods like peas, small bite size steamed fruits or veggies, or cheerios AND 1-3 purees.
4) Introduce utensils. You'd be surprised how early children like to explore how to use utensils. We even give Teddy a spoon at some meals now at 6 months old.
5) Don't forget the water. Is your baby pooping out turds? Check with your doctor, but maybe you need to give them some water, formula / breastmilk, or water down the purees.
6) Maybe try common allergen foods early. Please check with your doctor because individual children based on personal or family history should be more cautious, but my doctor actually shocked me when at my 6 month appointment he suggested that I go home that day and give Noelle peanuts. He said new research is indicating that withholding allergen food while breastfeeding and during early solid introduction, maybe be causing more food allergies in children. Here's an article with some info, but again PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
Here are some more resources for you!
Do you have any resources (websites, blogs) that you would recommend that focus on a death in the family for preschoolers/toddlers. I'm at a loss for how to communicate it to her, if we do at all given she is so young , how to explain why everyone is so sad, etc. if you have any ideas of sites to direct us to, I'd appreciate it.
I'm not sure whether to even bring her to the hospital or not. What to tell her after? How to answer all of her questions so trying to get ahead of it? Any suggestions you have are really appreciated.
I am so sorry to hear that you are likely going to lose your father. Losing a parent is one the of biggest losses that we all unfortunately have to experience. I lost my dad somewhat unexpectedly from a heart attack when I was in grad school and it was certainly a huge moment for me. I didn’t have a perfect relationship with him and I was devastated that we had drifted apart and we would never be able to have the opportunity to repair the relationship, that he’d never see me get married, and he’d never meet his future grandkids. Sometimes I still get sad about not being able to hear is long winded lectures and have a heated debate about politics with him. And we had a strained relationship. I know the depth of your sadness and grief will be palpable now and when he eventually passes.
I think that there is no way for your child to be kept in the dark. I think she will feel all of your pain, experience confusion of all the different experiences, and I think she is old enough and has enough sense at her age to be told in simple words what is happening. I think the best approach is to be honest about what is happening both about your own feelings as well as what is happening. You could say something like, “Grandpa is very sick and weak, and he isn’t going to live much longer. He won’t get better because he is old and his heart is damaged. We are all very sad and we are going to miss him very very much. Grandpa is my dad and I love him like you love your daddy. I will cry a lot because it’s very hard for me to not have my daddy anymore.”
Children are very perceptive and being honest will help your children feel less confused about what is happening. You can probably spare her the blow by blow updates because those are such a roller coaster and she won’t understand all the information and doctor lingo. It would be good to listen to her questions and responses and answer them directly and simply.
She may feel “inappropriately” or say things that don’t make sense or even seem wrong (like sometimes people are angry when someone dies and don’t know what to , but I think that it’s best to answer comments like that by saying something like “I see you are feeling a lot of things. We all are. I am here for you if you need me.”
Perhaps if you are really emotional and falling apart, that may be overwhelming for her, or get stressed and snappy. So perhaps if that’s happening your spouse can explain how you (or someone else) are feeling or you can later in a calm moment let her know that you were snappy because you are very sad and feeling hurt. You didn’t mean to get upset and you’re sorry. We’re all only human and the more important part is to just awknowledge our mistakes or weak moments and apologize to clear the air and make sure she knows she is loved and nothing is her fault.
From Janet Lansbury's blog:
Here are six guidelines from John W. James’ book When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses. I can’t recommend this book highly enough…
Listen with your heart, not your head. Allow all emotions to be expressed, without judgment, criticism, or analysis.
Recognize that grief is emotional, not intellectual. Avoid the trap of asking your child what is wrong, for he or she will automatically say, “Nothing.”
Adults – go first. Telling the truth about your own grief will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings.
Remember that each of your children is unique and has a unique relationship to the loss event.
Be patient. Don’t force your child to talk.
Never say “Don’t feel sad” or “Don’t feel scared.” Sadness and fear, the two most common feelings attached to loss of any kind, are essential to being human.
About going to the hospital to see him, maybe you can give her a choice. Since so many things are new to her, I actually don’t think she will know to be scared. Adults are more scared of hospitals and death because they know more about it. She may want to see him and say good bye and he may want to see her. But if she doesn’t want to go, maybe that’s better too. Unlike an adult she won’t spend her life regretting that she made the choice not to go. I think if Paul’s dad or mom were ill, I would take Noelle because I think it takes some of the mystery out. But I like the idea of a choice. However, I’d probably bring someone with who could leave with her when she needed so that she didn’t become stressful. Hospitals are the best environments for kids to hang out in for a long time.
My heart is with you and your family! I know that this will be a difficult time. However, in death there is an opportunity to come together as a family, to celebrate the wonderful life and memories you had together and to reflect on the many gifts we have been given by being part of each other’s lives. Let me know if I can do anything to help. I don’t have any death books here, but I would be more than happy to amazon prime some to you if you send me your address there.
Some book recommendations - I can go through them and pick some I think are best, but most of these should be appropriate for ages 3 and up.
I’ll Always Love You, a tear-jerker (as if you needed one) about a boy dealing with the death of the family dog.
What Happens When A Loved One Dies? Our First Talk About Death
When Children Grieve and The Grief Recovery Handbook (for adults), both by John James and Russell P. Friedman, provide excellent roadmaps for understanding grief and processing it in the healthiest, most productive manner possible. Their recommendations reflect all I’ve learned about healthy social emotional development through infant specialist Magda Gerber. The gist of their message: We not only all have unique responses to loss — we respond to each loss uniquely. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, share them with your child, and give her the freedom and the time to process her unique feelings, too. Unfinished grief creates problems that can have a profound effect on our life.
Starting a family childcare in our home has been a wonderful journey and absolute gift to our family at this time in our life. As a new parent and career educator, we were faced with a tough decision that many families face when they have their first child. Who and how do we want to raise our child? Can we find it? Can we get in? And can we afford it? Ideally we wanted to be able to afford to live off of one income and have me stay home to raise our child and future children. But with the high cost of living in SF, that just didn’t really seem truly feasible. Also, being someone who always loved working, I was worried it might leave me wanting “more” somehow.
Our family got creative. We wanted to have it all – the ability for me to stay home with our kids WITH a source of income, a community of likeminded families, and a fulfilling career for me. With the help of the wonderful resources at CCSF and a very supportive husband, we embarked down the road less traveled and started our own family childcare.
Here are some things that I’ve discovered along the way.
Anyone (who doesn’t have a criminal record) can open a small family childcare in any home or apartment. Small family childcares serving less than 6 children at a time, don’t require you to re-zone your home, get your neighbors or even landlord’s permission, and are a protected class of business. Other than two one-day long classes (Infant/Pediatric CPR / First Aid and Preventative Health Care Practices), there is no required educational path needed to start your own family childcare. Of course that means that it’s a little bit of the Wild West out there in terms of providers/program quality, the good news is that anyone with a passion for children can start one. So if you’re an artist or engineer or landscaper (or anything else) and you want to develop a wonderful program for children, you can do it! Your childcare is personal, develop a program that shares your skills and talents with children and embodies your personal values and philosophy.
Although anyone with little training in child development, can open their own childcare, I really really recommend that people take some time to invest in themselves and learn more about what is best for the age of children they hope to work with and how to design a program and environment of high quality. There are inexpensive ($50 at CCSF), convenient phenomenal classes locally offered by CCSF and the local R&Rs (resource and referral agencies Wu Yee and Children’s Council) specifically designed for family childcare providers. Some of the titles offered at CCSF in the CDEV 41 series (one night a week courses) are Issues in Child Dev-Starting a Childcare Center or Large Family Childcare Home In SF, Environments in Family Childcare, Music and Movement in FCC, and more. The professors are high quality veterans in the field (special shout out to Kathy Zetes in particular), and assignments are all practical and will get you set up. In these classes, I designed and got feedback on my business plan, my classroom layout inside and out, my handbook, and website. If you can’t schedule in these night classes, I recommend buying the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale and Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale on Amazon, and reading Magda Gerber’s Your Self-Confident Baby
if you’ll be caring for infants and toddlers. I also wrote a short piece for parents about how to identify quality group care, which could be helpful for providers also.
I was sort of surprised to discover that your own children do count in your family childcare until they are 10 years old. A large family childcare is unlikely to get granted in SF since you have to pass a fire marshall clearance, which is HARD due to SF architecture! So let’s focus on the small family childcare numbers. You can have 4 infants (0-24 months) only OR 6 children under 6 or in kindergarten of which no more than 3 can be infants (0-24months), or 8 children if two are enrolled in Kindergarten (no more than 2 infants 0-24 months). This can be severally limiting from a financial perspective depending on how many of your own children you have under 10 years old, but hey, you get to stay home with them and make an income. In our case, it seemed worth it given that I could make my dream childcare for my children and all the children in our program and I get “free childcare.”
Make sure you can make the commitment and that everyone who lives in your home is supportive. It’s ideal for children to have the same carer for 2-3 years if possible. Be sure to ask everyone in your home if they are ok with you having children there 40-50 hours a week (or whatever times you decide) and have you to redesign some parts of your home for the childcare. One challenge I find, is our schedule for vacations is now very limited. We can only take vacations when our childcare is closed, so that’s something to consider too. Becoming a childcare provider is a big responsibility and it should not be entered into lightly.
There are roughly 5 infant openings at licensed childcare centers or FCCs in San Francisco per every 100 infants (0-24 months) needing care. Families with infants are easiest to recruit, but make sure no matter what children you decide to work with and serve, you love being around them! Running a family childcare, while rewarding, is a lot of work with long hours. So be sure that you like to be around babies or toddlers, or a mixed-age group for about 40-50 hours a week. As a family childcare provider, you must be present at your home for 80% of operating hours, and ideally you are the primary caregiver even if you have assistant teachers.
Recruiting via word of mouth or becoming a parent of parent communities online seems to work best. Being a mom myself has been my best recruiting technique. Before I started our FCC, I was already a member of yahoo parent groups near me, and apps like parenthoods, bernalhoods, and some facebook groups. Like any social media marketing strategy, it’s best to give as much as you get, meaning become a true member of your social media or real life communities, don’t just use the platforms for advertising.
Develop a philosophy and make a handbook. It takes some soul searching and time, but the more upfront and clear you are with yourself, your families, and your assistant teachers – the easier your life will be in the long run. It’s always better to have a conversation about the kind of care children receive and why you do things that way, or how sick is too sick to come to school before you enroll a family rather than after. Parents and childcare providers should work together in partnership and it’s important to see eye to eye from the start. To develop mine, I looked at published handbooks of school’s I admired and also checked out samples on http://www.childcarelounge.com/child-care-lounge.php
Make the administrative side of things as simple as possible! Nurturelist.com is a great listing site so you don't need to develop your own website to advertise. DayBear hopes to help FCC for free to manage the administrative side of things. For now I use Gusto for my payroll, Google Forms for my wait list, Google Wallet to get payments, and Google Voice for my phone service. I’m looking into better accounting tools, so in 2016 I’ll probably try out Xero (for accounting) or something like it because you can write off a significant part of your household expenses (including some parts of your rent or mortgage) since you really do run it out of your home. Most of us educators, don’t love paperwork, and you won’t have much time to devote to it. So keep it simple. That’s one reason my tuition is the same from month to month, it’s too hard to calculate days or hours per child each month.
Network with other providers if possible. I met some in my CCSF classes and introduce myself to people if I see them at the playground or see them post to a yahoo group about an opening at their childcare. It’s so nice to share and learn from each other. In some neighborhoods the Family Child Care Association of San Francisco is pretty active too, so it might be worth joining them too.
Good luck and if you live in SF keep in touch!
Community Care Licensing Division
CCSF Child Development
SF SEED - for financial support for CDEV courses
Facebook SF Childcare Providers Community
I couldn't agree more with this quote: “Babies thrive out-of-doors. They sleep better, eat better, look better, play better, and learn better. Fresh air both soothes and stimulates. I always tell parents how much more easily they could raise healthy, “happy” children if they would make outdoor living a regular habit for their babies.” – Magda Gerber, Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect
I just read an article by one of my favorite child development thought leaders, Janet Lansbury, and I thought I should share about our outdoor classroom. You can totally make an awesome outdoor play space in a small (San Francisco-sized) yard.
Since our program is inspired by Reggio and RIE, we integrated the ideas of Reggio's loose parts and a safe "yes" space from RIE.
My goal is to have a "yes space" where the kids can really do what they want in the yard with few limits other than hurting each other. I wanted it be changeable, safe yet challenging, and allow for experimentation and dramatic play. We recreated some of the elements that they love from inside such as a mud kitchen, our magnetic wall, and also use outside friendly inside toys and materials.
Set it up so you can say "yes"
Our yard has two parts. One side is a cement patio and the other side is a grassy open space yard. We divided the two spaces with a low 3 foot fence which essentially turns them into "kiddie corrals" that Janet wrote about. Since we have mixed ages, we can keep the bigger toddlers away from the little babies when we need to.
We covered the cement patio with rubber tiles so soften falls from our early walkers which gives the kids a sense of security to explore their bodies more on the ride on toys and the slide.
On the grassy side, we put some small hills in, because it adds a little challenge. The hills alone are hours of endless fun and confidence building for an early crawler or walker. We love our "me do it" toddlers. They can move everything (ladders, tubs, crates, etc.) around to change the landscape and put on their own shoes and smocks.
A few of our inexpensive (or free) favorites of the children are: 1) the teeter totter which invites social play, as well as can serve as a great balance board, 2) yoga balls, 3) the milk crates which make create obstacle course steps or can be easily turned into train cars with the spark of a toddler's imagination, 4) our easy DIY ladders and balance beam, and 5) plastic kiddie pools.
The plastic kiddie pools are really my favorite. They are fun to climb in and out of, make large water/sand/sensory "table" and can be a wonderful protective "space bubble" for a very young infant to spend time outside.
We also have lots of the same things (a ride on toy for each for example) because we have younger toddlers who don't share and like to do parallel play. It really reduces conflict if you develop the space and have appropriate expectations of how they will play.
Bring the inside, outdoors
Who said baby dolls, dinos, kitchen dramatic play, lunch, and pretty much any other inside type of activity can't be done outside.
Baby Dolls and Dinos - The kids love washing their baby dolls, doing car washes, and having elaborate dramatic play worlds with the dinos. They are easy to wash up and bring back inside when we're done, so why not!
Playing house outside - We bring real pots, pans, and cooking utensils out when the kids are into making "soup" and cooking. We set out out kid sized picnic tables, and bring out plates and utensils if they want to cook and serve meals. And we have a mud kitchen that has lots of utensils, pots, pans and containers to "cook" with. The kids gather twigs, gravel, lemons, pinecones, flowers and whatever else they want to cook with.
Magnet STEM wall - Using a oil pan, we made a really easy magnet wall and used PVC pike and gutters to have loose parts for the kids to do experiments with. They can run water, ping pong balls, rocks or whatever else they want down it. All the parts live in a crate near the wall so they can choose how they want to set it up. We don't show them what to do, but it's amazing how fast they figure out what they can do with all the components.
Change it up without spending $ - Art, Sensory Play & Loose Parts
Loose Parts Theory quotes
‘In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.’ ~ Simon Nicholson, Architect
‘Children learn most readily and easily in a laboratory-type environment where they can experiment, enjoy and find out things for themselves.’ - Malaguzzi
To create this loose parts, creativity laboratory we have to look no further than the ground, in the trees/bushes and our own recycling bins.
Loose parts may be manufactured or natural materials (Frost 1997) or recycled objects (Drew and Rankin 2004).
Manufactured items could include the following: ■ boxes ■ buckets ■ blocks ■ trucks ■ cloth ■ baskets ■ tools ■ dramatic play props ■ balls
Natural items could include such items as: ■ bark ■ sand ■ seeds ■ mud ■ stones ■ vines ■ leaves ■ tree stumps ■ twigs ■ straw bales
Recycled items could include: ■ cardboard boxes ■ building materials ■ packing pellets ■ old pots and pans ■ tires ■ milk crates ■ ribbon, rope, string ■ polystyrene ■ plastic bottles and ■ felt containers
Since children learn so much through their senses and by doing, we set up sensory and art materials on a daily basis that often hold their interest for long stretches of time and lead to many fascinating discoveries.
Infant Daily Supply List (stored in cubbie)
☐Pacifiers (if applicable)
☐Wipes (4 full-sized pack per family a month)
☐Extra Clothes – 3 onesies long, 3 shirts, 3 pants, 3 pairs of socks, 2 jackets. Pack clothes that you would be ok with getting dirty. Little ones learn by doing, which often means getting messy.
☐ Unopened formula for emergency use (if applicable)
☐Tote or Diaper bag (large enough to store empty bottles and clothes that may be sent home)
☐Medications for emergencies (Note: We don’t administer medications, except those required in emergency situations such as EPI pen, nebulizer or inhalers)
☐Photos from home of important family members and baby
☐ Toothbrush & toothpaste
☐Blanket and security lovie
Toddler Daily Supply List (stored in cubbie)
☐Pacifiers (if applicable)
☐Diapers and/or undies
☐Wipes (3 full-sized pack per family a month)
☐Extra Clothes – 4 shirts, 4 pants, 2 pairs of socks, 1 jackets/sweatshirt, 1 rain jacket, 2 pairs of pajamas (if needed), 1 pair of rain boots (or extra school shoes. (Pack clothes that you would be ok with getting dirty, lost (although rare). Little ones learn by doing, which often means getting messy.)
☐Sunscreen and sun hat
☐re-useable grocery bag
☐ Medications for emergencies including signed doctors note with instruction for administration (Note: We don’t administer medications, except those required in emergency situations such as EPI pen, nebulizer or inhalers)
☐2 photos from home of important family members and baby. Also text/email Evelyn an electronic photo of all members in the family together for school family gallery)
☐Blanket and security lovie
☐Toothbrush and tooth paste
☐Text recent headshot and full-body shot of child for activities
(Note: largely adapted from PITC’s Six Program Policies with some two-cents from Mighty Bambinis founder Evelyn Nichols www.mightybambinis.weebly.com)
In a primary care system, each child is assigned to one or two special infant/toddler care teacher who is principally responsible for that child’s care. Family childcare requires that the licensee (owner) must be present 80% of the time, to attempt to ensure a primary care exists. This fosters attachment and predictability for young children. They know who to look to for help and feel secure to try new things.
Every major research study on infant and toddler care has shown that small group size and good ratios are key components of quality care. PITC recommends primary care ratios of 1:3 or 1:4, in groups of 6-12 children, depending on the age. The guiding principle is this: the younger the child, the smaller the group. Small groups facilitate the provision of personalized care that infants and toddlers need, supporting peaceful exchanges, freedom and safety to move and explore, and the development of intimate relationships. Family childcares are licensed as a small (4-8 children, depending on ages served) and large 12-14 children, depending on ages served) to try to ensure small group size. If you choose a center, be sure to ask how many children are in each room at once AND what the child to teacher ratio is.
Continuity of care is the third key to providing the deep connections that infants and toddlers need for quality childcare. Programs that incorporate the concept of continuity of care keep primary infant/toddler care teachers and children together throughout the three years of infancy period, or for the time during that period of the child’s enrollment in care. So when choosing childcare it is important to consider if the childcare / nanny is an appropriate fit for your child when they are a young infant, mobile infant, AND a toddler. Not all settings and caregivers can grow with your child equally.
Following children’s unique rhythms and styles promotes well-being and a healthy sense of self. It’s important not to make a child feel bad about him or herself because of biological rhythms or needs that are different from those of other children. Responding promptly to children’s individual needs supports their growing ability to self-regulate, i.e., to function independently in personal and social contexts. The program adapts to the child, rather than vice versa, and the child gets the message that he or she is important, that her/his needs will be met, and that his choices, preferences, and impulses are respected.
Young children thrive with predictability and firm boundaries, but lots of freedom within those limits. Even newborns/young infants should be spoken to and invited to participate / help themselves. They should be both protected, yet seen as competent and challenged and given opportunities to make their own discoveries/do things on their own. Responsive care doesn’t mean that caregivers should always rush to pick up a child or solve all their problems / frustrations. Evelyn highly recommends the RIE principles of respectful care (Magda Gerber, Janet Lansbury, and authors Faber & Mazlish). Check out www.rie.org (infants) and http://www.janetlansbury.com/ (toddlers).
Children develop a sense of who they are and what is important within the context of culture. Because of the important role of culture in development, infant/toddler care teachers who serve families from diverse backgrounds need to:
Relationship and Family-based Care
A strong relationship between caregivers and parents is extremely important for children, especially in their earliest years. Parents and caregivers can share insights and observations, struggles and exciting developments. It’s important to choose a caregiver that you can trust to be honest, communicate with about the good and bad, and work together with to problem solve. Caregivers and parents should see each other as partners!
Some questions to ask when choosing care:
Some advice about getting into childcare in San Francisco:
Evelyn Fidler Nichols