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Monday, August 22, 2016

Letter from Ms. Jenn: Signing in the Classroom

Over the years, we have incorporated more and more sign language into our classroom, especially in the infant/toddler classroom. Utilizing sign language with young ones has so many great benefits and rewards. Here are a few:

1. Less fuss, more fun: As a parent, it is a constant battle trying to figure out what is behind the tears or anger coming from your child. If your 1 year old has the sign for hungry, it'll be easier for you when they're grumpy at 3:00 and you don't know why. Less time is spent on trying to figure out what is going on when they have the sign for the words they can't phonetically pronounce yet.

2. Smarter baby: Research has shown that teaching your baby starting young (6 months) will make it easier for them to continue learning during preschool years. For example, if your child knows the signs for the letters, they'll catch on quicker than expected which quickly leads to them learning letter sounds, and eventually reading.

3. Greater communication: When a child knows how to sign, they have greater communication which in turn leads to less violence. Toddlers don't really have the vocabulary to get their point across, which is why they choose to hit or bite or push. If they have the sign for angry, they'll be able to use that sign to their friend or teacher before that hit or bite even happens. This opens up a world of communication where words are used before violence.

Learning sign language at home can be a super easy and fun task. No one is expecting you to teach your child the entire English vocabulary in sign language to your child before they get into Kindergarten. If you are interested in using sign language at home, all you need are a few everyday words to get your family started! The signs we use the most are "more", "please", "eat", "wash", and "help". These words are used everyday and are easy to remember. All you need is a good ol' Google search to get you started on your sign language journey.

Even though we use sign language the most in the infant/toddler room, we use sign language daily in the preschool room as well. During group time, we learn the sign for our color of the month and practice the signs for the colors of the previous months along with using the daily signs that I stated above as needed.

If you ever have any questions about how to begin signing at home or how we use it here in even more detail, feel free to ask! That's what I'm here for.

- Ms. Jenn

Monday, August 8, 2016

POTM: Health and Illness Policy

The following comes right from our Parent Handbook. If you have any questions regarding our policies, just ask away!

The physical environment at Jellybean is maintained to a clean and sanitary condition. Policies (such as sanitizing procedures for toys and eating surfaces and hand washing procedures) are in place to make certain that children and staff will be safe and the sharing of contagious illness will be kept to a minimum. We keep records of regular health check-ups and immunizations. We teach the children good hand washing habits to prevent the spread of germs. Classrooms are cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis. Staff members make every effort to keep children safe, healthy, and happy. Unfortunately, sometimes the children do get sick. When a contagious illness has been diagnosed by a physician, we will notify parents by email. We will let you know the illness, signs/symptoms, treatments and steps to take to avoid spreading the illness (confidentiality will be maintained). Please let us know if your child has a contagious illness (even if they are staying home) so that staff and other families can look out for signs of the illness. 

We will notify you if your child has any of the following indicators of illness: 
• significant changes in a child’s activity level or behavior that prevents the child from comfortably participating in routine activities while in care 
• symptoms of illness, such as excessive coughing, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, etc. 
• significant change in how the body temperature feels to the touch or the child’s appearance 
• comments or complaints from the child indicating illness

For the safety and well being of your child and the other children in care, it may not be appropriate for your child to remain in care. Your child’s teacher or the administrator and the parent will decide together if your child should remain in care. 

Our illness policy is that if your child is well enough to be in care, then he/she is well enough to go outside and participate in all activities. However, if your child has an existing health condition that requires them to stay inside or excludes them from participating in certain activities, a doctor’s note should be kept on file. 

If your child exhibits any of the symptoms listed below at home, keep your child at home until he/she is well and contamination of others is not a concern. We understand how hard it is to take time off of work but if your child is sick please arrange back up care for them. Likewise, if your child exhibits any of the symptoms below, the parent will be notified to pick up their child within 30 minutes. If you are not able to be reached, we will contact one of the emergency contacts on your child’s information record to pick them up. Your child will be removed from the classroom and wait in the reception area with the administrator until a parent arrives. 

Children will be excluded from care until they have been symptom free for 24 hours without medication. In implementing our illness policies, the focus of concern is on the needs of the ill child and the ability of our staff to meet those needs without compromising the care of other children.

• Fevers: Elevated body temperature may or may not be an indication of illness. The following policy will be used to determine whether a child with a fever can remain in care. A child’s temperature will be taken if staff members observe one or more of the previously listed indicators of illness. If the child’s temperature is higher than normal, the parent will be notified that their child has a fever. Staff members will give careful consideration to factors that might affect body temperature to avoid readings due to influences other than illness. Consideration will be given to each child’s own typical, individual habits: 
· a need for more sleep than usual: drowsiness, longer or frequent rest periods, or difficulty in waking 
· significant change in behavior, such as persistent or uncontrollable crying,
· excessive clinging to caregivers, or refusal to play at their normal activity level 
· difficulty breathing: uncontrolled coughing, wheezing, runny nose, etc. 
· significant change in appetite: refusing to eat or drink, or drinking more than usual. 
· flushed or pallid skin 
· complaints or comments that indicate illness 

• For infants under six months of age: If the temperature reading is 100.5° or greater, the child’s family will be notified, and exclusion from the center will be 20 required. No other indications are necessary for exclusion for this age group. This policy is based on the concern that a mild fever may be the only sign of a serious illness in young infants.

• For children over six months of age: If the temperature reading is 101° or greater, the child’s family will be notified, and exclusion from the center will be required. 

• Vomiting: Caregivers will be careful that “spit up” or other mild digestive disturbances are not mistaken for vomit. After the first incidence of vomiting, the child will be observed closely for other signs or symptoms of illness. The child will be excluded from care if two or more episodes of vomiting occur within a 24- hour period or after one episode if a contagious stomach virus is going around or if the teacher observes other signs of illness. 

• Diarrhea: A diarrhea illness is characterized by an increased number of stools compared with a child’s normal pattern or an increase in stool water and/or lack of formed substance in stool consistency. After the first incidence of diarrhea, the child will be monitored for other signs or symptoms of illness. If the child is observed to have two diarrhea stools within an eight-hour period, the parent will be contacted to remove the child from care. We realize that children, especially infants, may have incidents of diarrhea that are not necessarily a sign of illness, and this will be taken into consideration when evaluating exclusion from care. However, diarrhea that leaks out from diapers and clothing presents a health hazard regardless of the cause. Children may be excluded because of this alone. 

• Ear Infections: If your child is diagnosed with an ear infection and has no signs of discomfort or fever (for 24 hours) they may return to care. 

• Pink Eye: If your child has pink eye, they will be required to be on medicated drops for 24 hours before they return to care. 

• Head Lice: A very common social nuisance is head lice. While they do not represent a serious health threat to children, they are very unpleasant, cause itching, and are sometimes hard to eliminate. They are highly communicable and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Prevention of infestation is the best way to deal with head lice. Children will be discouraged from sharing combs or brushes, hats, and other headgear. Policies will be followed carefully to prevent the spread of lice. 
· If head lice are discovered at home, parents are asked to inform the child’s teacher so that other parents can be alerted. 
· If lice or nits (eggs) are discovered in a child’s hair while in care, the parent(s) will be contacted immediately and required to pick up that child.
· Children may return to care after they have received the treatment recommended by their health care professional. Recommendations on cleaning the child’s clothing, personal belongings, and surroundings will be provided upon request. 

• Other Illnesses: Exclusion will be required for the following illnesses when symptoms are identified at the Center. This list is representative, but not allinclusive: Meningitis, Mumps, Chicken Pox, Pertussis, Giardiases, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib), Hepatitis A virus, Rotavirus, Hepatitis B virus, Rubella, Scabies, Shigellosis, Shingles, Strep Throat, Measles, Ringworm, Tuberculosis, Mouth sores with drooling. 

In some cases, a doctor’s note may be required to return to care. 

Some illnesses by themselves do not require exclusion. The following are some examples (but not limited to this list): Fifth Disease, Roseola, Influenza, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and a rash. If a child has these or other illnesses, they may be required to leave care if: 
• A fever or change of behavior accompanies the illness 
• The symptoms prevent them from participating comfortably in activities 
• The need for care is greater than the staff can provide without compromising the health and safety of the other children 
• The illness poses a risk of spread of harmful disease to others 

Infants younger than six months may be excluded from care if teachers observe that they are not eating or drinking normally. 

The source for the preceding policy guidelines is Caring for Children, a resource manual for health safety standards for child care providers published in 1992 by the National Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association. 

Jellybean staff and volunteers will follow the same exclusion guidelines as the children.