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  • 05 Jun 2019 12:00 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    The summer everyone wants time off, I know I do, but you still have a child care center to run.  Which means there have to be teachers in the classrooms.  This time of year is the perfect time to evaluate your paid time off (PTO) policies.

    There are lots of ways to provide benefits that meet both your school's needs and help your staff feel appreciated.  PTO is one of the most appreciated  benefits in childcare.  

    Let’s talk about 3 ground rules that should apply to whatever PTO policy you choose:

    • Make it attractive

    Your PTO policy has to be compelling for both prospective and long-term employees. While it’s key that your vacation and PTO policy is alluring to top teachers considering employment at your school, it’s also important that you structure it to reward long-term teachers. When reviewing all the options for your PTO policy, consider ways to have incentives build over time.

    If your business closes over big holidays like the Fourth of July and Christmas, make sure you include mention of that when marketing your vacation plan. Saying, “Starting employees receive 3 weeks of vacation time including Fourth of July and Christmas PTO” sounds better than leaving out the extra time every employee gets off over holidays and saying, “Starting employees receive 2 weeks of vacation.”

    • Make it sustainable

    At some companies, even though your policies allow for a certain amount of PTO, there’s a cultural undertone that actually taking that time off is frowned upon. You can have all the wonderful vacation policies in the world, but if there’s an unspoken rule that employees shouldn’t take advantage of them, your staff won't renew themselves, thus increasing you teacher burnout. Conversely, if your school gains a great reputation for generous vacation and PTO policies, your popularity in the employer landscape can skyrocket.

    • Make it happen

    Glassdoor survey shows the average American employee only takes half of their vacation time, now this statistic is probably not reflective of early childhood education. Research shows that when employees take time off, they’re more productive because they’ve had time to recharge. We definitely need that.  Teachers who are stressed don't manage classes well.  It’s in your best interest to actually encourage employees to take time off, not just because of stress management but also for disease resistance & reducing the spread of illnesses. When they are sick, they need to stay home, as well as taking at least one vacation a year.

    Research shows that people are more productive when they take breaks: to be completely separated from work.  This means that they aren’t babysitting for parents.  They aren’t texting or calling you. They aren’t responding to calls or texts from parents.

    So, what are some ways other centers handle PTO?

    1. Forced Time off :

     Some centers close for holidays, holiday weeks, and/or summer. This allows you to give folks time off without having to schedule substitutes. Everyone gets the same days off and you can be sure everyone is actually unplugging from the center.  It is your choice as to whether you pay your staff for these days off or not.

    At my first center, Little People, this is the method I started out with. I closed the center for 2 weeks a year.  We closed for the week of July 4th & the week between Christmas & New Years. All my permanent staff members were paid for those two weeks. We also had 5 federal or state holidays that we were closed.  One of those was our in service day.  So if you do the math that means all of my teachers were paid to not come to work 14 days a year.

    2. Floating Holidays :

    Decide the number of days you think your folks should have off per year, based on your budget & the needs of your staff.  Each staff person gets that many days off in an account to be used for personal or sick days.  They can use them as they see fit. 

    This is a great option if you have a diverse staff with a variety or religious observances.  Your observant Catholics may want Good Friday & Maundy Thursday off while your Muslim teachers may prefer Eid off twice a year & your Jewish staff may want off for Yom Kippor & Rosh Hashanah.  For those who don’t celebrate specific religious Holy Days, there may be a desire to take off for their birthday or their child’s first day of school. 

    The floating holidays allows for much more flexibility for your staff.  It also means the administrator has more work.  The trade off is that your employee’s needs are better met & that improve work performance & lowers turn-over.

    3. Pay for Seniority/Position :

    A version of the floating holiday system is one where new employees get x number of days off and after a certain amount of time they get more.  Another version is that all Floaters get x number of days off & all Master Teachers get Y.  For instance, perhaps after an employee has passed the probationary period, she gets 5 days of PTO to be used as desired.  After 2 years they get 2 more days, then at 5 they go up to 2 weeks, at 7years 2.5 weeks and so on.

    It offers the benefits & disadvantages of the floating pay with the added elements of controlling costs & rewarding loyalty.  This or the next version are what I see most often in centers.

    4. Hybrid :

    The hybrid system combines some forced time off with floating holidays.  For instance you are closed for July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas & Thanksgiving. Everyone must take those days off.  Additionally they have PTO.

    This is the gold standard.  This gives your staff control over their paid days off and allows you the certainty that they are actually taking time off.  It is also more expensive & takes more work to manage, which is why not all centers choose to go this route.

    5. Two pots :

    In the two pots method your employees have 2 pots of paid time off: medical leave & vacation.  These can be paid at different rates, have different amounts of time in them and can be incentivized.  For instance, centers may choose to pay unused sick days at the end of the year as a form of bonus.  Or perhaps they can roll those days to the next year.  I strongly suggest that the 2 pots be treated differently in some manner.  The point is to encourage staff members to take care of their health & to actually take time off for mental breaks, AKA vacation.

    In this scenario if someone needs a sick day, they take it, but there is some sort of requirement to prove that they or their family member was ill.  Sometimes 1 day of sick leave requires no note, but 2 or more requires a doctor’s note or similar documentation.  The vacation days are scheduled in advance.  These are planned for.


    Do what works for your program and don’t be afraid to revise your strategy to work with the current economy.  Your time-off policies should be one of your biggest selling points to new employees.

    Most traditional centers can make this claim: No nights or weekend work requirements. This is a HUGE deal to potential employees.  This is a major reason why people would rather work in a center than in retail or food service.

    If you found this blog useful, please make sure you are subscribed to our feed & share it with others to whom it would be useful!!!!

    As always, if you have questions, clarifications or topics you would like discussed, let us know in the comments below. 

  • 22 Feb 2019 3:07 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    Childcare programs across the state of Texas have a new challenge to manage: a new criminal background check procedure.

    In my opinion this is going to a huge mess for a while.  Eventually the state will figure it out, but right now- it is a shit show.  pardon my French.  We had a hard enough time getting applicants to show up for interviews and then fingerprint checks, but now we have to rely on THEM to sign up on their own, pay for it and actually get it done.

    I don't see it happening.  I really don't.  The level of hand holding the Director's are going to have to do is going to go from a 7 on a scale of 1-10 to a 12.  

    How many people applying to work an entry level job are going to have funds to pay for the background check?  How many of them check their email daily?  If it were social media, then yes, but email - NO.

    In case you don't know what I'm going on about, please take a moment to watch this video training about the new system.

    In addition to the fact that the center is no longer in charge of scheduling fingerprint checks and won't be notified about prior criminal history, in addition there is not REALLY a procedure for screening folks who have not been residents of the State of Texas for the past 5 years.  There is a sort-of procedure for folks who have lived in other states, but NONE (as of yet) for those who lived in other countries.  What about American territories like Samoa and Puerto Rico?  No idea.

    Please take a moment to survey your existing staff and find out

    • how many have lived outside of Texas in the past 5 years, 
    • how many that was true of when they started working in childcare & 
    • how many would have continued to apply if they had to pay for a background check before being offered a job.

    I want to know.  If you send me this information, I will send you a free copy of our pre-service training book. 

  • 21 Jan 2019 4:27 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    You have worked with and been around children your whole life. You love working with kids. Maybe you have worked in a center for a few years. Now you want to lead a licensed childcare center of your very own! You want to be a DIRECTOR!

    So, you look up “childcare Texas” in google and find links to the DFPS (Department of Family & Protective Services) website and look at the screens and screens of “information for providers.” I can see your face now…


    Let me help you out. If you want to be a Director and you don’t have a Bachelors in Child Development and 2 college course in business, your easiest path is to become a Director is to take a Director Credentialing class like those we teach at Texas Director. I can see you are unsure.

    I can relate. I wouldn’t trust me either. You don’t know where I came from and obviously I want you to buy for Texas Director, so I would say it is the easiest. Fair. So, let’s go through the options from Minimum Standards (746.1015).


    First of all, every Director must be at least 21 years of age and have a high school diploma or its equivalent. I presume you have that handled. Then you have to meet one of the 8 options for a combination of education & experience.

    • Option 1 A bachelor’s degree with 12 college credit hours in child development and six college credit hours in management & at least 1year experience in a licensed child-care center. (the option I mentioned above)

    So if you already have a bachelors degree, just pull out you transcript & see how many course you had in child development (you are looking for 4) and management/business (looking for 2). If you don’t have those specific courses, then you have 2 choices. Which one will work best for you? You can take the time & $$$ to take the missing courses, delaying your position as Director or you can choose another qualification. For $825 and on average 1 month you can work one-on-one with an instructor in the Director Success Personalized Texas Director course and get your license or you can take up to 6 classes ($8657 at UT & at least a year). It is your choice.

    • Option 2 An associates of applied science degree in child development (or a closely related field), with 6 college credit hours in child development & 6 college credit hours in business and at least 2 years experience in a licensed child-care center.

    Ok, so this option might be a better fit for you. Pull out your AS transcript. DO you have the matching coursework? If so, great! You are ready to submit your paperwork to the state! If not, how many courses do you need to take? One, two? You can totally do that. How long will that take you? At a minimum 8 weeks. If now is the right time of the year. Maybe a semester. Cool. Go for it. You have all the time in the world. You didn’t really want to take that position that is open right now, did you? Another one will come up soon. You’ll just go ahead and pay for the classes, & books now, hoping to find a position when you are done. No sweat.

    Just for fun I looked up the textbook costs for two of the child development courses at my community college that I have taken: Who Am I in the Lives of Children? An Introduction to Early Childhood Education (11th Edition)- $89.48,  INFANTS TODDLERS & CAREGIVERS: CURRICULUM RELATIONSHIP -$95.99. I loved taking these classes. I learned a lot. I suggest you take classes that are interesting to you when you have the time & interest, not speeding through them in hopes of qualifying for a job. Especially when I could spend less time & money to become qualified.

    • Option 3 60 College credit hours with 9 college credit hours in child development, with 9 college credit hours in business and at least 2 years experience in a licensed child-care center.

    Same applies here as the AS. It is basically the same quantity of college course, just without a rubber stamp of an AS. If you have the qualification, take the transcripts, make copies & submit the 2911 (https://hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/2000-2999/form-2911-child-care-licensing-governing-bodydirector-designation). You are good to go.

    • Option 4 A child-care administrator’s certificate from a community college with at least 15 college credit hours in child development & 3 college credit hours in business and at least 2 years experience in a licensed child-care center.

    The biggest problem I have with this one is finding a college that offers it. Now, I know my google-foo is not great, but the only program I could find when googling this term is out of Wisconsin.

    • Option 5 A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or Certified Child-Care Professional credential with 6 college credit hours in business management and at least 2 years experience in a licensed child-care center.

    This is quite frankly the option I understand the least. You get your CDA or CCP. That is a great thing for working in a classroom. It demonstrates that you understand a fair amount about how children grow & develop & how to run a classroom. Having teachers with these, increase your CCS reimbursement rates and generally improves your center.

    Here is a question: How will you renew the credential when it expires (every 2 or 3 years)? You have to be working in the classroom. So, OK, you get your license this way, but you have to make a plan to change your method ASAP, so that you are still qualified. Something to consider. And you still need 6 college hours in business.

    • Option 6 A day-care administrator’s credential issued by a professional organization or educational institution and approved by Licensing and at least 2 years experience in a licensed child-care center.

    This is the easiest & quickest option. May we suggest Texas Director?

    • Option 7 9 College credit hours with 9 college credit hours in child development, with 9 college credit hours in business and at least 3 years experience in a licensed child-care center.

    This is the option we suggest for those who are looking for a non-renewing credential, but who don’t have an interest in obtaining a degree and don’t have one already.

    If you still have question, email us at Kate@texasdirector.org If we answered them all, enroll now.


  • 11 Jan 2019 12:43 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)
    Author: Carrie Casey

    A colleague asked me ,”Why should someone wanting to be a childcare Director in Texas choose Texas Director to help them?”  It is a good question.  One I had 20 or so answers to, but it all comes down to one thing: We will be there for you.

    Kate and I started providing training and other services to Directors and teachers in 1998.  That means it is possible that one of our new directors was enrolled at a center that we helped that first year.  It blows my mind.  We listened to our peers and found ways to help them get the information and services they needed.  We created trainings based on what other Directors said they needed.

    Director Credentialing

    One thing centers needed was a way to get new Directors qualified to lead a program.  There were a couple of training groups that offered classes for new Directors over the course of a week, in a hotel in one of the 5 large cities in Texas, once or twice a year.  So if you lived in Lubbock, you had to take a week off from your center, drive to Dallas and stay in a hotel for that week.  That was not what we wanted as Directors, so we created a 2 weekend class, which worked better for the folks we talked to.

    After doing those for a few years, Kate started exploring online learning and took Texas Director to the internet.  We were the first ones to offer online Director Credentialing.  We have 100% online classes, and in person classes.  Directors told us they needed different options, so we provided them.

    Folks are telling us they need their new Directors to be qualified within the month. With our online and personalized courses, we have that handled.  They are designed to be able to be completed within a week if you push hard or a month at a steady pace.  Our Weekender course which combines online videos and in-person classwork is also designed to be finished in a month, but is only offered 6 times a year, currently.

    Over the years other credentialing courses have come and gone.  What do you do when the company who gave you your certificate goes out of business?  For many folks, the answer has been to transfer your credential to Texas Director.  We allow folks to test in and join our membership if their company disappeared or they aren’t happy with the service and training they received elsewhere.  We will be here for you.


    Some folks prefer the college route.  Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) issues Directors licenses to those who have related college experience or degrees.  Is this the best option for you?  Do you want material specific to running a child care center?  There are not many college courses in that vein.  You can find 20 classes that will help you run a classroom, which are great if you don’t have those skills but not many on center wide operations.  If you come from the classroom, you will want information about marketing, staffing, communication,  financial management, and business law.

    Do you want to be a Director in less than a year?  If you need 3 business classes and 3 child development classes, you are probably looking at at least a year of college before you are qualified, presuming you are also continuing to work.  I will be 100% honest with you, DFPS often gives waivers for folks using this method to be come licensed, but I have a question for you:

    Do you really want to be running a center without knowing the basics of child development, classroom management, being a boss, taxes, legal issues and marketing?  Will that set you up for success?  Will your professors be available after class for you to problem solve when things go sideways.

    I like college.  I have been a lot.  I take all kinds of classes that looked interesting or could teach me something I needed/wanted to know more about.  I have 2 degrees as does Kate.  (Hers are more impressive than mine.)  We hope you take college classes.  I am just not sold on it being the best way to get your Director’s license.


    The last way DFPS licenses new Directors is with a Child Development Associate (CDA) and 2 college courses in business management.  The CDA is a wonderful, nationally recognized certificate showing proficiency as a classroom teacher.  To earn it you must have learned a fair amount either through workshops or college courses.  You have to have completed a 360 evaluation of your ongoing performance in the classroom and had an outside evaluator observe you working in your classroom.  I’ve always strongly encourage my staff to work towards earning their CDA.  If you are wanting to move from the classroom to the Director’s office, this may be a good option for you, but it has one big drawback.  You have to renew your CDA periodically, which means you must be working in a classroom.  As soon as your CDA lapses you are no longer a licensed Director.  Is it in your center’s best interest to have the Director working as a classroom teacher while running the center?

    We’ll Be There for You

    We love working with and for Directors, both in getting them started and in growing with their business.  No matter what happens, we are here to offer you support.  We create training materials, handbooks, and customized plans based on what a Director needs.

    When hurricanes hit the coast our directors called us and we worked with them to get their centers taken care of.  When a center lost its lease unexpectedly we helped them find another location.  When a Director was threatened with a law suit, we were there.  When a Director wanted to open a second and then a third location we were there to help her.  When a center was having unacceptable staff-turnover, we were there.  When you need us, we will be there.

  • 05 Jan 2019 11:13 AM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    Date: January 5, 2019Author: Carrie Casey

    I brush my teeth every day. I don’t think about it, I just do it. That is because it is a habit. I also don’t think about running my hands through my hair when I’m writing- habit or

    So how do I get that ease with things that build my business? I guess I have to make it a habit. I would like communicating with you to become a habit.

    How many times have you heard that it takes just a few weeks to develop a new habit? The truth is a bit more complicated than that, but there are scientific ways to help me (& you) lock in the changes we want to make.


    The myth about behavior becoming automatic in 21 days started when journalists misinterpreted a popular self-help book on Psycho Cybernetics back in the 1960’s. After all, you can probably eat more vegetables starting today, but complex tasks like playing the violin are going to take more than a month to gel.


    On the other hand, now is an ideal time to begin forming constructive habits that will enhance our happiness and wellbeing. Take a look at these strategies I have found for learning new behaviors.


    Basic Strategies for Habit Formation

     Try these tips for easing into your new routines as quickly as possible:

    1. Plan ahead. Eliminate excuses by plotting out your course in advance. I am planning out the next month’s posts at the ned of the previous month. If you want to wake up an hour earlier, go to bed on time, and dream about the invigorating yoga class and delicious breakfast that await you in the morning.
    2. Be consistent. Regularity reinforces itself. I am doing a Facebook live every day in January. The time isn’t consistent yet, but the activity is! Pretty soon it will be easier to go to the gym after work rather than changing your mind, even if it’s raining or your colleagues are heading out for beer and pizza.
    3. Spot triggers. What can you use as a trigger to do the thing? What is your trigger for brushing your teeth? For me it is taking my medicine which I have to do. What will be my trigger for the new habit. I can’t get into PJ’s until I have done my Facebook liveWhat will be yours?
    4. Review your reasons. Go over the reasons why you want to adopt your new behavior. Remind yourself about how drinking water instead of soda will help you slim down, strengthen your bones, and save money.
    5. Personalize your goals. I want to be more connected to my students. I want to know what struggles you are having and be here to support you! While you’re contemplating your reasons, visualize your future self.Focus on what you have to gain instead of just pleasing others.

    Advanced Strategies for Habit Formation

    What if you’re tackling something as ambitious as managing diabetes or transforming your dead-end dating history?

    These ideas will give you an extra boost:

    1. Practice compassion. You’re bound to slip up occasionally. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
    2. Team up. Enlist a friend so you can exchange support and encouragement. Eat lunch with a colleague who is trying to lose weight too.
    3. Write it down. Raise your awareness by keeping a journal about your campaign to stop swearing or start flossing.Note what happens on the days you stick to your program compared to the days when you drift back into old patterns.
    4. Remove temptations.Eliminate the triggers that distract you from your objectives. Clear the junk food out of your kitchen or the cigarettes out of your car.
    5. Design obstacles. Make it difficult to give in to your old tendencies. Leave your credit cards at home to prevent impulsive shopping sprees.
    6. Go on vacation. Leave home for a while. Vacations are an ideal time to forge new habits because you can make a fresh start in different surroundings.Sit down to meditate each morning instead of becoming caught up in searching for lost socks or checking your email.

    Make daily exercise and parallel parking so easy you won’t even have to think about them. Positive habits make advantageous choices automatic so you’ll stick with them. You’ll also have more energy to devote to other challenges.


    I could use your support as I work on building the habit of reaching out to you more. Watch the Facebook lives (facebook.com/texasdirectorcomment on the blog posts, send me an email (Texasdirectorcourse@gmail.com). However you like to communicate, please reach out to me!

  • 01 Nov 2018 2:16 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    Some classes just turn everything on it's head.  I just had one of those.  Everyone of the Director Candidates was a self-starter.  

    The majority of students who come through Texas Director are employees. They have been hired to take on the position of Director.  Not these ladies.  They were all in the process of becoming both owner and Director for their centers.  Because both Kate & I were owner/Directors we think this is great!  If we had our way every owner or Board President would go through a Director's course.  As the boss of the boss you need to know what they should be doing!

    These ladies were motivated to get their centers up and running.  Whether they were oping a brand new center or breathing new life into a center that had been around for more than 25 years, they saw the vision.

    They knew the job will be hard.  One of them had had a center a decade ago, so she REALLY knew. They also know Directors have the chance to make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of people every year.

    The Planner

    One of the ladies in the class had enrolled because she is planning to open a center more than a year in the future.  She has worked in the field for years, in a variety of types of programs and she is soaking it all in, learning and planning.  She asked some amazingly deep questions, because she has been stewing. Now that she is moving forward.  Her feet are in the starting blocks.

    She was looking at what type of floor plan for a building would be the best.  What type of program should she have?  Montessori, play based, pre-school, it was all available. Given her history, she could make it happen. I suggested she go through the marketing section of the class and decide what type of parent she wants to work with, and set up the school based on who she wants to get paid by. Taking the class first, is setting her up for success.

    The Returning

    Another new Director I have already alluded to; she was a Director before & left the field for a number of years, only to return.  She has climbed many mountains in the time between, traveled the world and become an EMT.  There are no flies on her.  

    Now she want to return to working with children.  She sees the type of programs available to her children as they are raising the grandchildren & isn't exactly happy.  There is something that is missing in her community.  Her community is growing.  It needs more quality childcare.

    This powerhouse has approached her church with a proposal to have a stand alone program within the church facilities.  So far the answer is yes, although there are still a few I's to dot & T's to cross. She saw a need, knew she had skills to meet it and made a plan to increase the odds of success.  

    The last piece of the puzzle was to find out what had changed in the industry in the past few years.  How had DFPS regulations changed?  How about technology, staff, parents?  That was what she needed from us.

    The Ring Master

    The last of October's students I want to talk about was in the middle of balancing lots of activity.  She has found her center.  She is actually working there right now, but not as the Director.  

    She has the terms of the sale settled, has worked out her licensing schedule with DFPS and met with her service providers about the upcoming change. She is looking for areas where she can improve the center.  She is forging relationships with parents & staff.  She is preparing to sign on loans and do manual labor to get the changes in the property done as inexpensively as she can.

    What she needed was help developing a marketing plan that played on the strengths of both the new management team & the existing program.  We worked together, in the class, to come up with one that leveraged newspaper, core communities, social media & public speaking to make sure her larger community knows about the change & is excited about it.  An added bonus is that the plan would cost less than $500.

    When people ask what the in-person class offers, this type of class is what I think about.  Different students with different needs, all sharing their knowledge and supporting each other.  They built the beginnings of their support network in that class.  They got what they needed for their situation and we were able to go into greater depth on the subjects they needed.

  • 09 Oct 2018 2:59 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    When you're at the end of your life, do you think you'll look back and think, "I'm sure glad I worked so much!" Probably not. In fact, it's a known fact that the elderly in their last days talk about the regrets they have, and one of those big regrets is usually not taking the time to enjoy life, have fun, and be present with the ones they loved.

    We each have about 27,000 days on this earth, give or take. If you consider that a third of those days are reserved for sleeping, and another large percentage makes up your early childhood years which no one can remember, what you’re left with isn’t much!

    How many days do you have left?  Here is my math:

    That is not enough time to be wasting it on foolishness.  Time to stop worrying about pleasing the world in general.  Do your own math.  Think about how much time you spend with people who are just angry about life.  Is it 20 minutes a day?  in those 6,563 days, that adds up to 91 days. Do you want to send 3 months with those folks?  I don't!

    As the great philosophers have said, realizing how short life is, reminds us to live fully and live presently in the moment! Knowing your time isn’t endless is what makes us value that time so very much. And when you value something, you’re reluctant to waste it.

    There are lots of ways to minimize wasted time from the time that each of us has. Off the top of your head, what things can you think of that waste of your time? Watching TV?  Staying in a dead-end relationship that doesn't fulfill you? Here are some other common ways that you reduce the enjoyment of the time you have:

         Allowing yourself to become surrounded by negative people who suck the happiness right out of you. It pays to make the decision to show these people the door. Fire staff or clients who drain your energy. When all of that negative energy isn’t taking up space around you, you have the space to let in so much positive energy!

         Complaining about things you have no control over. There are things you can control, and many, many situations that you can’t control. Take control of what you can to make your center better, but stop complaining and worrying about those things you simply can’t control. It's that whole accept what you cannot change mantra from AA.  You don't have to be an alcoholic to benefit from it.

         Being afraid to ask for help when you need it will make your life WAY harder than it needs to be. There is no shame in asking for help, and when you do, you allow someone else the amazing feeling of giving that help.

         Don’t let anyone other than you dictate how you live your life. These people who offer friendly (or not so friendly) “advice” are usually feeling pretty bad about their own situation.

         Chasing money, or happiness of the moment, rather than long-term happiness and the true meaning of life. Money is simply a conduit to those experiences that fulfill you and fill you with joy. Use it for it's intended purpose, but don't chase it just to have more of it.  Look for opportunities to impact people's lives for the better.

    Working in early childhood we get to live impactful lives.  We get to create wonderful welcoming environments that allow children to wonder, play, race, grow, and create.  Honor that by keeping the negative folks at arm's length, focusing on what you can change, getting support, listening to your own inner truth, and building your best life.

    What is one thing you hate doing?  How much time do you spend on that a day or week?  Let me know in the comments,

    1. What is that thing
    2. How many days will it take if everything stays the same?
  • 27 May 2018 7:56 PM | Carrie Casey (Administrator)

    Helping a family dealing with a new diagnosis can be challenging.  This is a conversation between a Director and a parent about a child with a food allergy.  I have had many conversations like this over the years with parents.

    I have also been on the other side, as a parent with a child who has gotten a life changing diagnosis.  It can be hard.  Strike that.  It will be hard.  This parent has learned that a significant part of her/his life and that of the child in question will be different.  It will affect the child, siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers…the list is long.

    As a Director we have to offer support and understanding.  Don’t let the parent horrible-ize or minimize the issue.  Help them to find resources.  Be the calm in the storm.  You got this!

    Q: I’m struggling to help my family adjust after we found out one of our children has a serious allergy. Katie is only four years old, and she was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy.

    How can I help my family accept the changes and help Katie?

    Katie is our youngest, and her older siblings are struggling to understand what is happening, or why we have to make changes in the kitchen.

    To keep Katie safe, we have to make big changes in our entire household.

    One of the issues I’m seeing is that many members of our family, including my parents and sisters, don’t understand how serious the allergies are for Katie. They keep saying how it’s not as serious as a nut allergy. However, it’s serious for Katie, and she has horrible reactions to wheat.

    What can I do to help them understand and keep Katie safe around them? I’m worried they’ll keep feeding her wheat. 

    A: Food allergies should always be taken seriously because they can be unpredictable. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), patients can experience a variety of symptoms, including anaphylactic reactions. Allergies can be deadly for some patients.

    It’s difficult for families to handle such a diagnosis in a young child. She may have to spend the rest of her life dealing with this condition, so it’s hard to accept it.

    However, you’re taking the first step to help Katie by recognizing that she needs her entire family’s support. Allergies in a young child can lead to hospitalization and multiple doctor visits. It’s important for your entire family to recognize the severity of the situation.

    You may want to talk to Katie’s doctor and ask for pamphlets or other printed information that you can share. Your extended family members may also want to attend some of Katie’s doctor appointments and ask questions.

    Have a family meeting and discuss Katie’s condition. You’ll be able to address any questions or concerns they may have about her allergies.

    Q: I like the idea of holding a family meeting to discuss Katie’s wheat allergy; however, I don’t think it will help with another issue. Katie’s doctor told me she’s very sensitive to the smallest amount of wheat. So we have to completely remove all the wheat in our kitchen because even a crumb can make her sick. That means we have to completely eliminate a lot of the food that our family loves.

    My other children think I’m taking it too far and just want me to restrict a few shelves to be wheat-free. I want everyone to be happy, but I can’t take the risk of crumbs ending up in Katie’s food.

    We’ve already had several visits to the ER because Katie’s food got contaminated with wheat.

    How can I help my other children accept the changes we need to make for Katie?

    A: Children can have a hard time accepting that a sibling has an allergy. In addition to the attention the sibling suddenly receives because of the diagnosis, the household tends to go through multiple changes.

    Your children may not understand how serious Katie’s allergy is to her health.

    You may want to purchase books about allergies or get other material that helps explain the dangers of allergies to children. Explain how Katie can end up in the hospital if she eats a crumb of wheat.

    Your other children are part of Katie’s support network. Due to her young age, she may need them to be her voice in difficult situations that may involve wheat.

    If your doctor has asked you to make big changes in the kitchen to keep Katie safe, then it’s important to follow these instructions.

    Although your family may need time to adjust to the changes, they’ll learn to accept them. Katie’s health can’t be put in jeopardy every time you cook, so you have to follow the doctor’s advice.

    Q: I intend to follow the doctor’s recommendations for Katie, but I’m still worried about how she’ll handle the allergy because she’s so young.

    Katie is four and has a hard time understanding why she suddenly can’t eat some of the food she likes. She thinks she’s being punished or in trouble. She doesn’t believe me no matter what I say to calm her down.

    What can I do to help Katie understand she has an allergy and isn’t being punished?

    A: It’s important to explain the allergy to Katie on her level. She needs information that is easy for her to understand. She won’t be able to process medical jargon or understand what some of the reactions mean.

    Your doctor may also have resources aimed at young children, such as books, posters, and other fun items that help children understand more about allergies. You can also search online for resources and ask other parents to help you find them.

    Although you don’t want to scare her, Katie needs to know that eating wheat can make her sick. You may want to remind her about the recent ER visits you mentioned. It may be tempting to hide some of the serious issues from a young child, but her safety depends on understanding the importance. You’ll simply have to adjust the terminology to her level.

    If Katie misses some of her favorite foods, experiment with creating new dishes she may like. You can find multiple cookbooks and online recipes that are designed for people with allergies. In time, she’ll find substitutes for her former favorite foods.

    Instead of complaining about her health, you may want to direct all conversations to stay positive. In addition, Katie can benefit from feeling special at this time.

    You may want to purchase a special ID bracelet that notes her allergy when she’s with others and get her allergy stickers. Let Katie participate by picking out her favorite colors and styles.

    Q: I’m surrounded by family, but I feel alone with this issue.

    No one else in our family has a wheat allergy, so Katie is the first. My husband doesn’t understand how she developed it and blames my difficult pregnancy for creating it. Our doctor states that my husband is wrong, and it’s not my fault.

    Unfortunately, I still feel guilty. Between the shame and accusations, I feel like I’m dealing with Katie’s health issues on my own. 

    I’m tired of dealing with everything on my own, and I need support. What can I do?

    A: Try joining a local support group with other parents who have children with allergies.

    Support groups can help you work on eliminating the guilt and shame you feel about Katie’s health. They can also help you learn more about keeping her safe. The group members can also offer advice and tips that can help your household transition to eliminating wheat.

    If you can’t find a local support group, then consider joining an online version. You can find a variety of support groups on social media such as Facebook.

    It sounds like you also want your family’s support.

    It’s important to understand that a serious allergy diagnosis is difficult for some family members to handle and acknowledge. They may need more time to accept it and come to terms with Katie’s new diagnosis.

    You may also benefit from family or individual therapy if you’re struggling with shame and guilt.

    You don’t have to deal with these difficult emotions on your own, and therapists can help you cope.

    Q: I understand I can join support groups, but they’ll be filled with strangers.

    I want my husband to be part of my support net. However, he doesn’t seem interested in helping me educate the entire family about Katie’s allergies.

    Instead, my husband tells the children and everyone else to go to me if they have questions.

    I don’t mind answering their questions, but it would be nice to have his support and help. I can’t do everything on my own. I’m already struggling. My husband simply sits and doesn’t talk while I spend all of my energy trying to explain things to them.

    What can I do to change this and make my husband understand I need his help with Katie’s health? The stress is starting to overwhelm me, and I’m worried that it will start to affect my own health.

    A: This is a significant change that affects your whole household and Katie’s entire life. Your husband may still be trying to process the diagnosis and figure out how to help.

    Your husband can still be an important part of your support network and make it easier to handle the upcoming battles you may face. However, you may just need to give him some time and space to adjust to Katie’s diagnosis.

    Have a calm conversation with your husband and explain that you need his support right now. He may not understand that you don’t want to be the only one to answer questions. He needs to know that you want him to help educate the children and other family members about Katie’s health.

    You can split the duties, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. For example, you can answer questions from your parents. Your husband can answer questions from your other children.

    In addition, you can split other family obligations, so your stress levels are reduced. Try rotating with your husband in taking Katie to her doctor’s appointments or talking to her teachers.

    With time and patience, your whole family will adjust to these changes and learn to support Katie in her new path.

    Complete the form below for copy of the conversation as a resource to give out to parents &/or staff.





  • 18 Sep 2017 8:44 AM | Kate Young (Administrator)

    Naptime can be a rough time

    Transitioning from playtime or even lunch into naptime can give teachers fits.  There is so much confusion, and the kids are grumpy because they are tired.  I have an easy way to make it better: READ

    And not just short picture books that you read at other times of the day...chapter books.  Let's take the lunch to naptime plan.  Once the children are sitting down to eat, talk about what happened in the story last time.  It has been almost 24 hours, at a minimum.  They forget.  Some of the children fall asleep before you stopped reading.  They missed things.  This way everyone is on the same page, so to speak.  Ask them what they think will happen next.  I had one 2 year old who often suggested, "dinsaaarz will be 'der."  This also gives the kids something to talk about at meal time (YAY!  learning social skills!).

    As the children clean up from lunch and go to the bathroom (hand washing, teeth brushing, toilet/diapering) stand outside the bathroom with the book.  If there are pictures, share them if asked.  This is often a big hit with Pooh books, although there were also good pictures in Little Bear and The Littles.

    When most of the kids are on their mats/cots, ask if they are ready for the story.  A chorus of "yes" generally erupts at this point.  Settle down in your accustomed place and begin reading.  If kids ask to see pictures, reply that right now they are building the pictures in their heads.  "Close your eyes and build the picture in your head."  They can look at the book after rest time is over, if that works for you.  Depending on the age of the class you will read between 10 & 30 minutes.  Find a good stopping point and place your book mark.

    During that time, the calm voice telling a story will have relaxed the children & with the eye closing to build pictures, many of them will have drifted off.  There is less of the talking to the kid in the next spot, getting up for water or the bathroom and an overall calmer transition.


    Mother and daughter reading togetherHave you ever wondered about the benefits of all of that reading aloud before naptime? Not only does this bring you a calmer transition, it also helps with self-regulation, language development, literacy & imagination.

    Although reading to a child before bedtime is great, a team at the University of Sussex in England last year found that reading before afternoon naps is actually the most opportune time to enhance a child’s learning. Their research found that reading before an afternoon nap not only helped children to retain words better but also helped them to retain a greater number of words.

    So, rather than just putting on music or giving them quiet toys to play with, take time to read to the children. Whenever possible, do so before afternoon naps. By starting this practice early and building it into a fun and anticipated tradition, the children will gain benefits that last a lifetime.

    At what age should you start?

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s never too early to start reading aloud to children. As soon as a child is born, you can and should begin the practice, so that the child can become absorbed with books.

    An advantage in school

    Reading aloud with children not only creates a bond between the two of you – which is a side benefit – but it gives each child an important advantage. By age 3, children who have heard fewer words – whether though reading, talking or singing – may be at a disadvantage compared to children who have heard a greater number of words, and which may lead to a disadvantage in school. That was the finding of a study, “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children,” conducted by Betty Hart and Todd Risley.


    Great!  But what do you read to them?  Sometimes this is a road block.  How do you know what books are appropriate & will interest them?  A good place to start is to think back to books you loved when you were first learning to read.  I was a lover of all things Pooh, books by Syd Hoff, Captain Cat & Danny the Dinosaur in particular, and Another is to look at books or series that have been made into TV shows or movies.  I will write another post with a list of books I suggest and a bit about each of them.  Look for it soon.

    To get the post with the chapter book reviews & suggestions subscribe to this blog.

    Share your happy tales with us

    Does your class have a favorite selection of children’s books that you enjoy reading aloud together before naptime? Share your happy tales with us on our Facebook page.

  • 03 Sep 2017 7:41 PM | Kate Young (Administrator)

    Top 10 Ways to Empower Children

    Date: August 28, 2017Author: Carrie Casey0 Comments

    As a teacher working with young children, you have millions of opportunities to empower children & foster good self-esteem.  Every day in the early childhood classroom self images are being built by the child’s successes & failures and by what they see and hear.

    Many of the challenges that plague children are the result of low self-esteem. Teenage pregnancy, drug usage, poor grades, fighting, depression, and even suicide can be the result of low self-esteem. A child with high self-esteem will enjoy life more and have a more successful childhood. Children with high self-esteem are likely to grow into adults with high self-esteem.

    Grow a child’s self-esteem and confidence:

    1.      Draw attention to the child’s strengths. Let the children bask in the glory of being good at something. Whether the child’s strength is school, throwing a fastball, or playing Go Fish, let them know that you notice how great they are at it.

    2.      Teach children how to deal with failure. Explain that it happens to everyone and is part of life. Help each child to examine what went wrong in her approach and how to improve. Encourage children to be persistent until success is achieved.

    3.      Give children choices. Just be sure to control the options. Suppose a young child is getting dressed for school. Instead of choosing the clothes for the child, allow him to have a few options. Choose a few different outfits and then allow the child to choose between them. You’ll have a well-dressed kid that feels empowered because he chose his own clothes.

    4.      Allow each child to fit in at school. The idea of Spiderman pajamas at school might seem bizarre to some, but if that’s what all the cool kids are doing, let it go. It can be difficult for adults to remember the importance of peer acceptance. Allow the children to find their own way to fit in.

    5.      Allow children to struggle a little. It can be hard to resist the urge to provide help at every opportunity. However, it can be great for a child to learn how to deal with struggle. Ensure that the struggle ends successfully! Give each child the opportunity to be successful without adult intervention.

    6.      Be reasonable in your praise. Your 3-year old student knows her drawing of a butterfly isn’t the best butterfly the world has ever seen. Instead, offer a comment like, “I love how you used so many colors in the wings.” Be sincere with your praise.

    7.      Allow each child to overhear you complimenting them. For example, the next time you’re talking to another teacher in front of your class, mention something positive about one of the children. He’ll be sure to hear and feel on top of the world.

    8.      Avoid comparing one child to another. All people are individuals. Comments like, “Why can’t you be as neat as your friend?” cause more harm than good.

    9.      Spend time alone with each student. It’s one way of showing that every child is important to you. Children know you could be doing a lot of other things, but you chose to spend time with her instead.

    10. Be encouraging. We all require support from time to time. When a child is struggling, provide encouragement and support. Let them know that they’re not alone. Consider what you would’ve liked to hear as a child and allow that to be your guide.

    A child with a healthy level of self-esteem will be happier and perform better in school. As an early childhood professional, you have a strong influence over your children’s self-confidence. Making your children feel good about themselves is one of your greatest responsibilities. Pay attention to the little things each day, because that’s what your kids are doing!


    There are countless opportunities to make your child feel better or worse about himself. Be proactive.

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