As I read our latest white paper on family child care and the CLASS system, I found myself humming Sister Sledge’s hit song, "We are Family." Even though family child care (FCC) settings may differ from other child-care arrangements (and from one another), we truly are a family when it comes to the business of providing care and supporting children and families through early childhood. And the bond that ties our family together? Interactions!
When talking about FCCs, it’s often difficult to describe just what this setting looks like. At Teachstone, we define FCCs as home-based child care that is run as a business; this can include professionals who have several classrooms and employ additional caregivers, or parents who want to earn money while staying at home with their own children. Each provider’s home looks a little bit different, and although FCCs provide care to a good portion of our youngest children (about 29% of infants and 25% of toddlers receiving child-care subsidies are cared for in an FCC home), they vary in terms of number of staff, licensing and oversight, and quality. The variations are most clearly seen in:
As you might imagine, many FCC providers struggle because they operate as individuals with little opportunity to meet with peers, share ideas, learn, or receive professional-development support.
Given the number of children and families that look to FCC providers, it’s critical that we focus on supporting the quality of care provided in these home-based settings. At Teachstone, we’ve spent time observing FCC settings with our unique CLASS lens, examining what teacher-child interactions look like and brainstorming with providers about how best to offer support to improve these interactions.
Our white paper is just a starting point for these conversations. Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about the four challenges Ginny highlights in the paper related to using the CLASS system in FCC settings. But I’ll be looking to all of you to share your questions, thoughts, and experiences on how to use the CLASS system to improve interactions in FCC settings. Please share through the comments below.
And, if you’re looking to brush up on your FCC and CLASS knowledge, be sure to check out the recording of our webinar, Bringing the CLASS Measure Home: Observing Family Child Care Settings.
To quote Sister Sledge:
Here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
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There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!
Last week we hosted Back to School with Meaningful Interactions, our first week-long free Teacher Series for nearly 4,000 early childhood educators. Each day attendees could choose from three 45-minute sessions that focused on what matters the most—meaningful classroom interactions.