The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on June 2, 1998 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, June 2, 1998
Page 7
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THE SALINA JOURNAL PARENTING TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 1998 A7 T CHILD CARE Quality child care found in homes, centers ::-*.-^ * ' Minnesota couple iprovide quality child :eare in their home By The Mlnneapolls-St. Paul Star Tribune Gary Hoover looks like Santa Glaus as a young man. A former construction worker, night watchman and pastor — who eventually ; realized that whatever his calling, ;it could not include wearing a suit — Hoover met and married Mary : Gail Hadley in 1983. A half-dozen or so career turns and two adopted children later, the .Hoovers are operating a child-care business in their home. They work in an industry recently under criticism, with studies concluding that a pattern of low standards and revolving-door staffs is jeopardizing a generation of children. . Child-care providers have been qjiiick to agree with some of the ;, complaints. No one knows better than they, they said, how hard it is to, hire and keep high quality /workers at salaries that cluster ; around minimum wage. '.. But they also have wanted to say that in these days of rushed parents and diverse demands, lots of good providers are out there nurturing other people's children, through 10-hour days and in a society that discounts the importance of their work. But the problems are not ubiquitous, and the Hoovers, many parents and professionals suggested, are examples of the good guys in this business. In the trade, the Hoovers' operation is called family child care. It's a type increasingly popular among policy makers, largely because they see it as capable of accommodating the myriad work schedules that the new welfare-to- T SUMMER Scripps Howard News Service Gary Hoover holds 6-month-old Ell Prescott. Gary Hoover and his wife, Mary, run a family day care center In their Minneapolis, Minn., home. work programs will generate. Nationwide, family child care accounts for 17 percent of the preschool children in working families and child care centers for about 30 percent. Good care exists both in centers and in providers' homes, the experts stress. It looks basically the same either place, they said. It looks a lot like the Hoovers. Children start trickling into the Hoovers' Minneapolis, Minn., home any time after 7:30 a.m. The staggered schedules of the parents mean that no more than 12 — including the Hoovers' own children, Amber, 7, and Tyler, 17 months — are there at the same time. Greetings and casual conversations with parents supply updates on the kids. Mary Gail often takes breakfast duty in the kitchen, at a wide, round table that's no more than shin high. It's a clear spring day, so Gary and Mary Gail take the crew out back for a spell before the older kids go off to school a block and a half away. The back yard is a playground the Hoovers have built, step by recycled step. Three shipping crates from the Walker Art Center now have windows, doors or whole sides sawed out. About a fourth of the yard is covered by a deck Gary built. Within it, four removable panels cover an 8-foot-square sandbox. By about 9 a.m., baby Eli Prescott is tiring. So, Gary gives him his fill of a bottle and sets him down to nap. Meanwhile, still out back, Mary Gail chats with one child on a swing, and demonstrates shadow tricks to two others. Soon, some of the crew will go off to school. For those left behind, there will be snacks, lunch, and a nap time begun with a stack of storybooks. Then the school kids Will return, and phase three of the day will begin. A quality child care program should feel like coming home By The Mlnneapolls-St. Paul Star Tribune It should feel like coming home. That's the simple measure of good child care. After checking out all the health and safety issues, the adult-child ratios, and the supplies of requisite playthings, parents should pick a child-care provider based on this comfortable sentiment: In the ways that really count, these folks will treat my child as I do. Experts say this can happen in child-care centers or with providers who take children into their homes. That's because the basis of good care is a provider who takes the time to know and to adapt to each child just as any good parent does. They discern meaning in all manner of baby sounds. Hunger. Boredom. Fevers. They respect the Richter-scale energy of a toddler. And they're game for the quiet pleasures of a picture book, when a child craves some slowdown time. Parents shopping for care can turn to the national Child Care Aware advocacy group for a free checklist covering the basics. For information call Child Care Aware: 1-800-424-2246. Beyond that, here are commonly cited elements that help build that feeling of home. • The relationship. The childcare provider knows each child's interests, stage of development and nature, as well as all about the family. • The fit. Even the finest of care will not suit every family. Some are looking for grandmoth- erly ease; others want a rigorously , paced schedule. "I like that they have activities planned, but that they're unstructured enough to go with the kids' needs when that feels right, too," said Beth Anderson, who brings her son, Joey Flora, to the Hoovers. "I want the kids to grow up learning cooperation," Gary Hoover said. "In the sense of, 'This is how to live in a family' and, 'This is how we treat one another.' " • The learning. Child psychologists talk about the crucial "pre- learning" stage for very young children. For example, reading isn't just about making it through a book: for a small child it's also about exploring the "bookness" of the thing — the smoothness of a cover, the sensation of flipping pages, the surprise on every turned page. As baby Eli Prescott grew tired one morning last week, Gary Hoover lifted him to the blooming branch of a tree, where Eli quietly pulled his fingers through new, green leaves. Then, hunger registered. "You're chewing on my Planning can help prevent kids' boredom VICKI PRICE ChildAbuse Prevention Services $ "When will this summer ever end? The kids are driving me crazy!" This parental lament can be heard in early June as often as in late August. A chaotic summer can happen in a week or even a few days. Planning for the sum- -mer can help reduce the crazi- . ness. Always make sure, however, that the children are actively involved in making those plans. The main channel for planning is regular family meetings. Even though summer routines are very different, discussions and decisions should occur together so that everyone can plan. For example, beds still need to be made in the summer, but perhaps they can be made by 10 a.m. instead of the 7:30 a.m school year deadline. As a parent, you are not responsible for providing entertainment for your child's every waking moment during the summer. However, you are responsible for becoming aware of activities available, enrolling and providing transportation to those places. Plan early for the summer camps, lessons or programs so everyone's schedules can be meshed. Plan also for "doing nothing" — children need "down time" in the summer. They need time to explore, create and rest. Talk about television and its limits. Consider making a day every week that is "no television day." Discuss options so that children will have ideas about what to do instead. Make time for some special activities as a family and plan some separately with each child. Chil- dren of all ages enjoy "alone time" with a parent, and the summer may be an easier time for this to occur, while another sibling is having a lesson or off at a camp. Involve children in chore or contribution plans. Each child could, for example, plan the menu for one night a week, and if old enough, could help do the grocery shopping, the cooking, or the clean-up. Children need to feel needed, and they are learning some important life skills along the way. Even with all the activities, the words, "I'm bored" still will be uttered by children in the summer. Again, plan for this by having your child create a "Boredom List" of activities they could engage in if bored. Help them make the list, if necessary. Do this when everyone is in a good mood — not upset or bored. Very young children can draw pictures instead of using words for their lists. Post the list on the family bulletin board or refrigerator where it is ready for the child to find. So, when the fateful words are said, your parental response would be a gentle reminder to check the list they created. If a vacation is in the works — whether a day excursion, a short family campout, or an extended trip — plan for it at a family meeting. The time you spend working together at this meeting can bring big dividends throughout your trip. Discuss the possibility of having a jar set aside for any family member to contribute toward the vacation fund. Invitations of contribution can bring surprising results. Children will feel their contribution is important, even if they only can add 25 cents a week to the family vacation fund. Also, children will develop more respect for the money spent on the trip if they have had a part in providing it. Before packing, discuss the weather at your vacation destination. Encourage children to watch weather reports so they can help decide on appropriate clothing needed. Have children pack for themselves as much as possible. They can group clothes needed for each day and place them in a suitcase. For very young children, make a chart and let them check off items as you place them in the suitcase. On the trip itself, make a plan for seating in the car or plane. Set up a rotation schedule or have a constant arrangement. Have the children pack small bags of their choosing with coloring books, crayons and other activities. Take lots of breaks! Parents can plan "surprise bags." Or each child can draw a name before the vacation and make a bag for that sibling, including things that their recipient would like, such as playing cards or candy. Open one item from the bag every few hours or 200 miles or whatever the family decides. What is important is that you've planned together — learned to work together even before the trip. You have listened, reflected, negotiated and compromised. And the continued use of these skills just may make the time on the vacation much more pleasant. All this planning and discussing together takes time and energy. However, many life skills will be learned along the way. And your family plans will help ensure a less chaotic summer that otherwise may seem long and endless even by June. GREAT STEAK SALE' FEATURING... Sirloins at the price & size for any appetite! 8 oz. Sirloin - $ 4.99 12 oz. Sirloin - $ 5.99 16 oz. Sirloin - $ 6.99 All dinners Include choice of potato fit bread. plus A Trip to our Dessert Bar FREE with every meal! 2351 S Ninth Sallna (Central Mall) Nobody knows why lie came here. Scientists think it was for the burritos. shoulder," Hoover grinned at the child. "Let's get you a bottle and head for a nap." • Professionalism. It sounds paradoxical, but in the midst of all this parentalness must be a high level of professionalism. Good providers have written handbooks to give to parents spelling out their policies on everything from discipline to sick-child care to TV viewing. They keep comprehensive records on each child, and they keep in close contact with each parent. They also keep educating themselves. The Hoovers take twice the required continuing-education courses required for state licensing. They haven't achieved yet the voluntary accreditation recommended for providers, Gary Hoover said. "But it's on our list of things to do." • For more help: Web sites for information: National Association for the Education of Young Children: National Association for Family Child Care: National Child Care Information Center: Godzilla™ is at Taco Bell*. He's on four cool collector cups. Plus, if you find him on a game piece, you'll win one of millions of amazing prizes. Including a trip to New York. You could even win a million dollars. That must be what all the screaming is about. Iron and Ohio 1700 Crawford LA-Z-BOY Great Selections, Great Styles, & Great Values throughout the store! 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