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Monday, 12 December 2011

Sparking Imagination

Sparking Imagination
December 12, 2011

Lay hold of the words your father gives you.
-Maori Proverb
Exchange's popular Out of the Box Training Kit, "Sparking Imagination," is built on two articles, one of which, "Recycled Materials," includes this observation by Lella Gandini from Reggio Children:

"For a child the world is full of things to touch, to reach, to hold, to explore, and thus discover.  If we observe as very young children engage in their explorations, we will see that they let us know precisely what is attracting their interest.  Early in their development, infants react in a very personal way to light and sound, to people, and to objects.  They learn to concentrate on what they see and then gradually make movements that eventually bring them into contact with the objects in the sphere of their interest and within their reach.  We can notice how a child reacts both to a familiar object and to a new one and over time how personal these reactions are.  Observing infants in a good infant/toddler center, where everything has been thoughtfully chosen and arranged with the very children who are there in mind, we see evidence as soon as they begin to move within that space, of children’s inexhaustible passion to explore and experiment with what attracts them."

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A giant in the ECE field passes away

Dr. Fraser Mustard, 1927 - 2011
November 24, 2011

No sooner have you spoken than what you have said becomes the property of another.
-Hindustani Proverb
Dr. Fraser Mustard's impassioned campaign calling attention to the crucial first years of life, and how brain development during that time sets the stage for health and well being, inspired economists, educators, and politicians, both in his home nation of Canada and around the world.  Mustard died at home on November 16 after battling cancer. 

In the late 1990s, he co-chaired a seminal report, with former New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor, Margaret McCain, for the Government of Ontario on early childhood learning.  The report was issued as "The Early Years Study — Reversing the Real Brain Drain".  In the introduction to this report, Mustard and McCain observed:

"We examined the evidence from the neurosciences, developmental psychology, social sciences, anthropology, epidemiology, and other disciplines about the relationship among early brain and child development and learning, behaviour, and health throughout all stages of life. We consider, in view of this evidence, that the period of early child development is equal to or, in some cases, greater in importance for the quality of the next generation than the periods children and youth spend in education or post secondary education."

A number of friends of the World Forum Foundation shared their memories of Dr. Mustard...

Sheldon Shaeffer from Thailand:  "I was largely ignorant of the importance of early childhood until Fraser (whom I thought then was already an ancient sage!) came to IDRC in Ottawa in the early 1980s, where I was working, and gave such a passionate and convincing presentation that I was hooked for life.  He made such a difference to so many."

Alan Pence from Canada: "I saw that Fraser was doing a presentation at the University of Victoria and w ent to the lecture hall to hear him.  His presence and the manner of his presentation were ‘biblical’— the Old Testament prophet coming down off the mountain to share his wisdom.  I was captivated, met with him, was later invited to join the CIAR group he was developing, and thoroughly enjoyed the contact and discussions over the years.  He will be greatly missed by many.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cognitive and Social Capabilities Linked

Cognitive and Social Capabilities Linked
November 14, 2011

It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it.
-Lillian Hellman
"Cognitive, emotional, and social capabilities are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course."  This is one of six core concepts of development outlined in the Center on the Developing Child's excellent publication, The Science of Early Childhood Development: Closing the Gap Between What We Know and What We Do.  In describing this concept, the publication continues...

"The brain is a highly integrated organ and its multiple functions operate in a richly coordinated fashion.  Emotional well being and social competence provide a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities, and together they are the bricks and mortar that comprise the foundation of human development.  Thus, oral language acquisition depends not only on adequate hearing, the ability to differentiate sounds, and the capacity to li nk meaning to specific words, but also on the ability to concentrate, pay attention, and engage in meaningful social interaction.  Furthermore, the emotional health, social skills, and cognitive-linguistic capacities that emerge in the early years are all important prerequisites for success in school and later in the workplace and community.  Brain architecture and the immune system also interact as they mature, which influences the domains of development and health."

Reposted from Exchange Everyday

Monday, 22 August 2011

When Babies Struggle

Reposted from Exchange Everyday........
August 22, 2011
If you insist on measuring yourself, place the tape around your heart rather than your head.
-Carol Trabelle
"Struggles between babies are natural and positive learning opportunities that develop their social and problem-solving skills.  If you monitor struggles in safe ways with babies, you provide a natural outlet for the development of their curiosity, effort, and social skills."  This advice comes from Beverly Kovach and Denise Da Ros-Voseles in one of the Exchange books on sale starting today, Being with Babies: Understanding and Responding to the Infants in Your Care.  Here a just a few of the many suggestions Kovach and Da Ros-Voseles offer when babies struggle...

  • Move nearby and watch the babies interact.
  • Move slowly and talk slowly.
  • Be patient and don't overreact to the situation.
  • W hen one baby appears uncomfortable with what is happening, quietly go to the baby and coach him or her out of the situation.  One way to do this is to offer possible suggestions.
  • Be at the babies' eye level, and close to the ground where the infants are, and identify what you see.
  • Avoid leaving the scene of the conflict before one of the babies.  Being the second one to leave decreases further conflict from happening.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Cult of Self-Esteem

The Cult of Self-Esteem
August 15, 2011

If you believe everything you read, better not read.
-Japanese proverb
"What starts off as healthy self-esteem can quickly morph into an inflated view of self — a self-absorption and sense of entitlement that looks a lot like narcissism," observes Jean Twenge, co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic, in Atlantic Monthly (July 2011).  She explains....

"Narcissists are happy when they're younger, because they're the center of the universe.  Their parents act like their servants, shuttling them to any activity they choose and catering to their every desire.  Parents are constantly telling their children how special and talented they are.  This gives them an inflated view of their specialness compared to other human beings.  Instead of feeling good about themselves, they feel better than everyone else.

"In early adulthood t his becomes a big problem.  People who feel like they are unusually special end up alienating those around them.  They don't know how to work on teams, as well as to deal with limits.  They get into the workplace and expect to be stimulated all the time, because their worlds were so structured with activities.  They don't like being told by a boss that their work might need improvement, and they feel insecure if they don't get a constant stream of praise.  They grew up in a culture where everyone gets a trophy just for participating....  They grew up in a bubble, so they get out into the real world and then start to feel lost and helpless.  Kids who always have problems solved for them believe that they don't know how to solve problems.  And they're right — they don't."

From Exchange Everyday 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Art Auction

The Art Auction is drawing closer and as always I am profoundly in awe of the work the children and their teachers have created together.  Our staff are so skilled in guiding children in the creative process.  This year they have pushed their creative boundaries and the results are amazing. 

There are also some AMAZING items that have been donated to the Silent Auction...... tickets, gift certificates, Canucks merchandise, BC Lions gear...... gift baskets...... I know I am going to be bidding!!

Local artists Jodie Blaney and Karen Lorena Parker have also, once again, donated to our cause and I am so looking forward to seeing their pieces.  My husband and I bought 2 of Jodie's paintings on auction last year.... and we LOVE them!

As always ticket sales are slow and its hard not be disappointed about that as this is the only big fundraiser we do and the staff and Committee put in so much effort.....  Hopefully we'll see a surge in the last few days.
Scroll down a couple posts for updated photos of the art. Here is a small selection.......

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Organized Too Early?

June 7, 2011
Our most important task as parents is raising children who will be decent, responsible, and caring people devoted to making this world a more compassionate place.
-Neil Kurshan
"Youth sports organizations are reaching deeper into the preschool years, urging parents to sign kids up for soccer or rugby as early as age 3."  This alarming claim was made by Sue Shellenbarger in her Wall Street Journal column (June 3, 2011) that was brought to our attention by Eric Karolak.  Shellenbarger shared guidelines from experts on involving kids in organized sports...

  • Avoid competition, which can be stressful for kids before the age of 7 or 8.  Keep the focus on fun.
  • Don’t make a child specialize in one sport at an early age.  Sports researchers say young players have more fun and develop better as athletes if they are encouraged to play many sports.  Well-rounded kids are also far less likely to lose interest and burn out when they reach their teens.
  • Take at least one or two seasons off each year, so kids can rest their bodies.
  • Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured by other parents who enroll their kids in lots of organized programs. 
  • From Exchange Everyday

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs

Ellen Galinsky has captured relevant early childhood research and spelled out for parents and teachers the practical applications for raising well-rounded children who will reach their full potential in Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs. She groups this research into seven "essential life skills":
  • Focus and self control
  • Perspective taking
  • Communicating
  • Making connections
  • Critical thinking
  • Taking on challenges
  • Self-directed, engaged learning

Monday, 16 May 2011

Art Auction

The Society of Richmond Children's Centres Annual "Starry Night" Art Auction is to be held on July 9th at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel.  Tickets are now on sale for $10 each. Come out for a lovely evening of art, wonderful silent auction items to bid on , live music and lovely appetizers......

Here are some of the pieces the children are working on......

Zoom Zoom Zoom - Shadow box

Shadow Box

Shadow Box

Monday, 25 April 2011

Early Writing

In her Child Care Exchange magazine article, "Encouraging preschoolers’ early writing efforts," Leslie Falconer observes, "If there’s one object common to preschools and child care centers the world over, it’s pieces of paper covered with looping scribbles made by small hands learning to hold a pencil or crayon.  The next time you’re cleaning up at the end of a busy day, though, consider taking a closer look at those scribbles.  They’re actually samples of early writing, and an invitation for you to channel those small hands into recording their new ideas and creative thoughts....

Early writing — scribbles, drawing, a child’s first attempts at letters or his name — develops more than just fine motor skills.  It is a way for children to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others.  L earning about writing — as with reading — begins in infancy.  Before children can sound out letters, or even hold a crayon, they can observe an adult making marks on a notepad or a letter to Grandma.  Children watch their teachers write key words on a large piece of paper as they brainstorm ideas around a theme.  When the adult rereads the idea list, children make the connection that words can be expressed in symbols to be reread later.  For preschool-aged children, dictating words and ideas to an adult teacher — an activity called story dictation — who can then read them back to the children in their own words, can be a very empowering experience.  Inviting children to make creative choices in their storytelling enhances that accomplishment.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

8 Things Everyone Should Know About Early Development

With thanks to Richmond Children First:

1.      Child development lays the foundation for community and economic development. Healthy children create healthy communities and economies.

2.      The architecture of the brain is built through a step-by-step process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood. Building a strong foundation in the early years increases the chances of positive development, and vice versa.

3.      One skill leads to another. Brain development occurs from the bottom up, with increasingly complex skills and capacities built on top of simpler skills and capacities.

4.      Thinking, emotional, physical and social skills are intertwined. So is learning and behaviour, and mental and physical health. You cannot address one area without affecting the others.

5.      Children’s relationships with family, caregivers and the community shape the wiring of the developing brain. This happens through a serve and return process, like in a tennis or volleyball game. Young children naturally reach out for interaction. When adults respond consistently and appropriately, the brain is wired in a way that supports healthy development. When adults do not respond or respond negatively, the brain is wired in a way that leads to dysfunction and difficulties.

6.      Toxic stress in early childhood, caused by extreme poverty and abuse, for example, can damage the developing brain and cause lifelong difficulties in behaviour, learning and mental and physical health.

7.      The brain becomes less malleable and behaviour more difficult to change over time. Providing children with the right supports for healthy early development is an effective preventative measure.

8.      Early childhood supports can be measured for their effectiveness, and sound policy and program choices can then be made.

Jack P. Shonkoff and Susan Nall Bales. Science Does Not Speak for Itself: Translating Child Development Research for the Public and its Policymakers. Child Development. January/February 2011, Volume 82, Number 1, pages 17-32.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Game Day

As many of you will know not only are are parents and children really interested in hockey but we happen to employ the Canucks Greatest Fan too.     Our infant staff Sandy P is literally the biggest Canucks Fan I know. 

When I come in before 7:30am and Sandy is opening she has sports radio playing.  On her lunch break she catches up on all the stats, news etc.... There is nothing she does not know about her team!!

This passion is part of what makes Sandy a great Early Childhood Educator.  She has a point of connection with so many of the Dad's and many a hockey debate is had at pick up and drop off.  

Dad's can sometimes find themselves feeling a little out of place at a child care centre where all the staff are women....... and sometimes they are new to the parenting role and feeling a bit out of their comfort zone, and some are doing a double drop off (that's 2 children in 2 rooms in under 20 minutes - we take our hats off to you!)....... so being able to have a bit of hockey chat certainly eases the transition.

Today Sandy is a bundle of nerves as the playoffs start but she is boldly wearing her Canucks gear and has put up the poster from today's paper on the front door of the Infant room.  She also took a bit of ribbing from parents who enjoyed pushing her buttons today but fortunately she is one of the most good natured people I know.

Thanks Sandy P for being the SRCC's very own Hockey Queen!!

Go Canucks Go!!!

Friday, 8 April 2011

First Week

It has been a great first week of the new website.  Several parents have come by to say how much they love it and are looking forward to the plans we have to communicate more with them.  Even a few people who waitlisted this week commented on the site!! Yay!

The consent forms for web photos are coming in fast and so far are all positive so we will soon have photos up. 

It has been a busy week here at the SRCC as we make the most of the couple of sunny days.  The children and the teachers love being outdoors and seeing all that nature has to offer as we transition from winter to spring.

Have a wonderful weekend with your family.

Monday, 4 April 2011

We're live

We are delighted that our new website courtesy of Garth Poon at the Simpler Site is LIVE!  Thank you Garth for your professionalism and skill! 

We wanted this updated site to accurately reflect who we are and what we do.  We also wanted to make more of the work we do accessible to our families.  We still have a few things to work out (if you have your website photo consent form, please get it back to us ASAP) but we look forward to sharing our work with you in a meaningful and useful way!

As always - we love your feedback so let us know what you think so far and what more you would like to see.

Chat soon.


Thursday, 3 March 2011


Welcome to the Society of Richmond Children's Centre's NEW BLOG!  We hope this will open a new avenue for communication with our families.
Watch this space for many exciting things to come!