Bits of Brilliance

Colds, ear infections, stomach flu, Oh my!

This morning, I sat down with WCCO (link below) to talk about hand washing.  As every parent knows--kids are going to get sick and its always the worst when your kids are sick.  I remember the first time my daughter threw up and she looked like "what just happened?  Make it stop!"  I had such empathy for her.  I, myself, hate throwing up, I can't imagine what it feels like to be her! Young children are vulnerable in so many ways--from the inability to raise their heads on their own to lacking a strong immune system.  Just as important as teaching them to walk, talk, ABCs and 123s, we also need to teach them how to defend themselves against those terrible "bugs!" Its bound to happen and unfortunately some children are more susceptible than other at different times in their lives.  The childcare setting is a common place for children getting those bugs and sometimes over and over again until their immune system builds up.  At Little Newtons we have some children that are rarely sick and others that are very often sick!  The best line of defense against these bugs is HAND WASHING!  Sounds so simple right? Not only are there immune systems immature, but they are at an age where they put EVERYTHING in their mouths.  After they put it in their mouth, they share it with their friend.  Germs spread. The CDC references hand washing as our "do it yourself vaccination."  We can control our health to a high degree and teach the little ones to do the same.  Hand washing is not just for before you eat and after the bathroom/diaper changes.  It is when you get home from work, come in from playing outside, after eating, using electronics, after blowing your nose (hold a lot of bacteria!).  What great opportunities to teach your little ones to wash.  They follow your lead in everything you do--use it to keep them safe! A few interesting facts about hand washing: -Recent research shows that antibacterial soap is not any better than regular hand soap--I still can't get on the train.  I has to be a habit that I still buy antibacterial soap at my house.  Even after reading the research.  Maybe I feel like I will get sick less. -Only about 5 percent of people wash their hands long enough--interesting the temperature of the water isn't as relevant as it used to be because the temperature to kill the bacteria on your hands would ultimately scald it. Still, I wash my hands with as hot of water as I can handle...

Children and Stress

Life is hard.  Parenting is hard.  Remember back when you only had to worry about yourself?  Now the worries can be endless; work, money, health issues, time management, late bedtimes, and marriage.  I recently have heard “I am so stressed,” or “this is a stressful time of the year.” But my question is, when it is not?  We just started the new school year (that is a “stressful time of year”) then it went into Halloween, which again is stressful with parties, staying up late, trick or treating, candy, costumes, etc and now we will head into Thanksgiving which is a new kind of stressful (families, traveling, or for those who don’t have families is a dreadful time), right into Christmas to then start the year over with “stressful times” as the norm.   Scientists have been studying stress, the effects of stress, and how to decrease stress.  Scientists have called stress a “silent killer.”  Isn’t that what heart disease has be been called?  I can see that there are similarities.  Stress affects every aspect of the body and prolonged amount of stress without relief does result in real changes/illnesses/disorders. Adults can handle more stress than children.  Our brains are already formed, we also have many more coping skills to handle that stress.  What are the effects of our stress on our children?   Research shows that there are lasting effects on their development and interestingly a Father’s stress impact daughters as Mother’s stress seems to impact sons more.  Newborns are impacted by their mother’s stress in utero; with researchers finding that stressful pregnancies can result in fussier newborns.  Stress is contagious. Just as you have the co-worker that always seems to be heightened or “stressed out,” always behind in their work or going through things at home.  People feel other people’s stress and become more heightened.  The same is true for children.  Bringing home stress to your children over time will result in them being more heightened.   What can we do?   Listen to them.  Listen to their needs, their feelings and their fears.  Actually hear them.  Discounting what they are telling you as “not a big deal,” or “I am too busy to deal with this,” doesn’t acknowledge the feelings/thoughts/fears they are truly experiencing.  Hear them and acknowledge them.  Ask them how you can help them.  Do they just need to “vent” and get it out and then feel better?  Or do they need you to help support them more in school, or with bedtime.   Exercise.  Just as adults need to exercise to “blow off steam,” or “refresh/reset,” so do children. Get outside and let them be free.  Let them get lost in a game of tag or if your child is older and wants to go for a run--let them tune out the everyday stress they have and spend that time being lost in their workout.  Take care of yourself and them.  Yes, its not another “duty” to add to your list, but take care of yourself.  Flying in and out of the house off to one meeting or activity after the next will heighten your child.  Rushing them from one place to another--what is the saying “stop and smell the roses?”  Let them be kids.  They have their whole life to be “stressed.” Let their innocence and thoughts thats it isn’t a wild world out there be there for as long as possible. ...

“Are we there yet?!”

Patience is a virtue, a skill and sometimes a thing children might not have sometimes. Whether you are on a road trip or both children come home and want to tell you about their day at the same time, or they just want something RIGHT NOW! I spoke with Jason DeRusha and Kylie Bearse this morning on the results of the Marshmallow Test. You may be familiar with this test as researchers have been doing it for 50 years. It gives a child the option to have one marshmallow now or two marshmallows if they wait 15 mins, testing their ability to delay gratification. Interestingly they say not only are children increasing their time by six seconds each year, but they also have correlated the results to increased SAT scores, decreased divorce rates and better responses to stress. Watch the video below to find out more. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/kids-lack-patience-try-the-marshmallow-test/vp-AAtmjSN...

Sharing the Spark

We started a program this fall for our staff to share positive feedback about their coworkers as a team building activity.  Our Code of Excellence and Core Values are such a vital part of our program, especially with our Plymouth location being so large to continue to build the positive relationships is key! Each location submitted positive feedback about their coworkers and yesterday we complied the results.  The teachers get to pick a weekend vacation paid for by the company. We do this every quarter and it was awesome for the teachers to not only get the positive feedback from management but also from their peers. It's very similar to filling each other's buckets! Positiveness is contagious!...

Values, Excellence & Hard Work

Little Newtons has been an ever changing business.  We have modified the curriculum numerous times to ensure that our children are continuing to be challenged.  We have added languages, components of reading and handwriting.  It has been a lot of thought, research and hard work to make sure that we are constantly providing what we have set out to do. Code of Excellence and Core Values: About two years ago, we established the Code of Excellence and Core Values and have always had it as a training piece but never (because we were opening rooms or changing the lay out of our classrooms) did we find a way to really drive home those principles. About a month ago we were able to set up the Start the Spark Program which allows for all employees of LN to nominate their co-workers on fulfilling the Mission, Philosophy, Code of Excellence and Core Values.  Each month, nominations are submitted and each quarter someone receives something awesome from the management: a trip for two to one of the 48 states. Why?  Because it is ever challenging to not be focused on "your performance" and as a team and especially in this industry, we must all work together.  This is a fantastic way to notice other's hard work and dedication to the program. Today was the first day the nominations were due and it was AMAZING to see what other teachers saw, wrote about and passed on about their co-workers.  We are so excited to see this program lift off and look forward to many other events/engagement/ideas for our staff to continue to grow Code of Excellence: What is the Code of Excellence: It is what drives our mission. It is how we act and how we expect our staff to act. We are here to take care of children and should hold ourselves to the highest standard of ethics. *Setting the tone and image of the center: You as part of the team set the image of the center. Coming in to work each day, you are setting the image for the team. It is important to set a positive tone and image. Negativeness can bring down the classroom, children and overall morale. *Consider your impact on one person to another: If you have a bad morning and bring it to work with you, it is very likely that the negativeness of your morning is going to carry over into your classroom. Over time, the staff and children will start to have negative effects. On a positive note—if you come in to work each day with a positive attitude and have a bright look on your day, the impact in your classroom is going to be a positive one. *Demonstrates regular attendance and punctuality: People get sick and have to miss work. That is expected. When work is frequently missed; the center, the staff and the children are adversely affected. Well ran classrooms are a result of consistency. Consistency of staff and consistency of children. At all times; we are over staff for state ratio needs; however when there are numerous call outs (aside from those who are scheduled off) we have to ask people to stay late/come in early, etc. The people who consistently come to work, stay late, come in early, etc also get frustrated because their co-workers give them an extra burden. The teamwork breaks down further. *Works efficiently but correctly: Rushing almost always results in mistakes: Take the time to do the job well and completely. Rushing to check something off the list, will just circle back around to having to do it again, correctly. *Works confidently: Children, parents, other staff members see that you are confident and trust you. They trust that you will do what is best. It is important to ask questions when you don’t know/understand something so you can learn/grow. *Performs as a leader: No matter what your position in this company is, you are a vital component. We need you to help deliver our mission and leadership skills are so important in the classroom, playground, interacting with parents, etc. *Maintains the highest standard of Professional Behavior: Confidentiality, positive attitudes, bringing your issues directly to your supervisor instead of gossiping, all fall under this category. You are in charge of your behavior and choosing to be professional will result in a positive relationship with your co-workers, parents, children and your supervisors. Be truthful and kind…always. *Inspires Passion: The “why” we are here is because we care about children and their welfare. We want what is best for them and we want them to feel respected and loved. That drives our passion. We must remind others around us the “why” we are here and inspire them to fulfill the mission every day!...