Nearly every weekday morning for the last two years, I’ve had a little friend ride with me to and from work. We’ve had many conversations via the rearview mirror – my youngest child, now 5, buckled into a car seat in the back, and myself in the front as I drove to work and dropped him off at daycare just across the street.
We’ve talked about his school, his friends, his fears, his toys, how much we loved each other — googleplex plus googleplex times infinity plus 180 or so – and, most recently the latest superpowers that he acquired from a friend, including his laser eyes, ability to spawn tornadoes and hands that could freeze anything they touched. Some days, all he wanted to do was clench his green blanket and suck his thumb, a relaxing end to a long day, but now, at age 5, he’s growing up and moving out of that stage.
So today, I’m sad, as I have been for the last several weeks: I dropped off and picked up my youngest son at the OPUBCO Child Development Center for the last time. Today was his last day, and after next week, the doors to the wonderful facility will close for good. The teachers and staff and aides are outstanding, and I hate to say good-bye to them and the happy place that’s done so much good for children through the years.
As families have found other places for their children to attend, it’s become more and more like a ghost town lately, but the teachers still there continue to be dedicated and committed to the well being of the remaining children.
I’ve loved the childcare center (thanks, OPUBCO, for running it all these years), but I’ve cherished even more this one-on-one time with my son, daily alone moments that are hard to grab with any of my children, since there are three of them and only one of me. As the youngest, he’s had even less of me than the others because I’m spread thinner, now single and working full time, which I didn’t do when the older two, now 8 and nearly 10, were his age.
So for now, that daily one-on-one time is over. I’m so thankful I had it and hope to figure out a way to carve out more of it with each of my children amid the daily busyness. Any ideas?
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)
It’s so easy to read 8 books in a day to a 3-year-old so we decided to do that this week to reach our second goal in the Metro Library System’s Summer Reading Program. What an easy way to not only make sure your child is getting read to every day, but it’s a great way to earn great prizes.
Just for completing Goal 2, we received a ticket to Frontier City/White Water Bay, 2 tickets to an Oklahoma City RedHawks game and a ticket to Oklahoma Children’s Theatre.
Sign up today, get reading and get rewards!
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
*Summer can be a time of fun, sun and relaxation but it’s also a season with it’s own dangers. In an effort to bring summer safety awareness to the forefront, I will be writing a weekly series of summer safety topics, starting with last week’s post about the importance of protecting children’s eyes from the sun.
The weather is warming up and that means more children will be playing outside, and at one point or another, that means near or in a pool, pond or lake.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list drowning as the second-leading cause of unintentional death among children age 1 to 14. Children age 1-3 are at the greatest risk. 90% of drownings occur in residential swimming pools and retention ponds near the home. Most were last seen in the home and had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes. The majority were in the care of one or both parents at the time and were not the result of parental negligence.
Startling statistics, but one thing really stands out to me: The majority were not the result of parental negligence. So that means it can happen to you, to me, to our friends and family. Most of us aren’t negligent parents. We want to protect our children and we always have the best intentions. But looking at these statistics, drownings happen under the care of the most responsible parents, in the smallest amount of time, which is why this is such an important topic.
Steps to prevent drownings include:
1. Barriers. Pool fencing can help prevent children from gaining access to the pool area. Back yard ponds can also be fenced in or a mesh cover can be used to cover them. Install a four-sided fence that completely separates the pool or pond from the house and play area of the yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall. Use self-latching gates that open outward, with latches out of children’s reach.
2. Life jackets. Whether swimming in a pool or at the lake, life jackets are a must. According to the CDC, in 2006 9 out of 10 who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. DO NOT use air-filled pool toys as a means for floatation or in place of life jackets. These are toys, not life-saving devices.
3. Watch. Designate an adult to watch a child in the bathtub, swimming in or playing near any pool or body of water. Remember, a drowning can happen in less time than it takes to answer the phone. The designated adult should not be involved in any other activity than watching the child(ren). That means no mowing the lawn, reading or talking on the phone while having the child(ren) in your care.
4. Learn CPR. You are the first responder should a child start drowning. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, you can have already saved your child’s life. The American Red Cross has classes in the metro area year-round.
5. Learn to swim. Take heed, however, that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend this as a primary means of drowning prevention for children younger than 4. Classes can be taken at the local YMCA, or check your city’s community centers for class offerings.
6. Swim with a buddy. Make sure older children never swim alone. Using city pools or parks with lifeguards is also a way to enjoy pool activities with an extra layer of safety.
Let’s keep our children from becoming a tragic statistic this summer. It’s worth the extra effort to keep them safe so they can enjoy many summers to come.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
Here’s just a few things that are on my mind now: London, yogurt, the Jonas Brothers movie, nightmares caused by school required reading of some books, potty training, finding daycare (see Erica’s post), time change, the one chocolate donut on my desk, Twitter (I still don’t understand it), that I need to wash my van, whether to buy a lottery ticket, what load of laundry to wash and throw on the couch next, high blood pressure, cholesterol (the donut package says it has no trans fats, but it has 25mg of cholesterol), my family photos need to be scrapbooked, what are we going to do Spring Break, what are we eating tonight (no donuts), temper tantrums, my sticky kitchen floor … how nice it is outside.
Let’s all take 20 to 30 minutes and go for a walk and clear our heads.
– Linda Lynn
Recently I have had to search for a new day care center because the one I’ve had my toddler in is set to close the beginning of July. Since I didn’t really have to search when I placed him there, I was trying to figure out the best way to approach finding a new center.
Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association, Inc. and Oklahoma Department of Human Services published pamphlets full of helpful tips on choosing the best possible care for your child. Here are a few of their guidelines:
1. Start early. As soon as you think you may need child care, start the process. Finding a suitable center takes time and some have lengthy waiting lists, especially for infants and young toddlers.
2. Make a call (and go online). The Oklahoma referral service is free and can provide facts and lists of options in your area. The number is 1-888-962-2772 or you can go online: www.oklahomachildcare.org.
Also, you can go to okdhs.org/childcarefind to search for different day cares based on your personal preferences (how may stars the center is accredited with, ages accepted, type of facility, etc.)
You can also call DHS to request reports on the day cares of your choice. They will detail complaints and violations. For Oklahoma County, the number is 767-2650.
3. Visit & ask questions. Look at important factors in deciding on a facility such as:
-Adult to child ratio. The fewer children to caregiver, the better.
-Group size. Smaller groups are safer and more calm.
-Caregiver qualifications. Find out about their training and education. Degrees/special training for taking care of children are key. Look at the turnover – have the caregivers been there a long time? If they are all fairly new, that may be a red flag. Also be sure someone is CPR certified.
-Star ratings. For any center, be sure they are licensed. DHS gives stars to programs for meeting certain criteria. The more stars, the more the center has done above basic licensing requirements.
-Policies. They should give you a detailed description of all their policies, such as meals, behavior, fees, vacations, field trips, medicine, etc.
Drop in unexpectedly to look around the center. Look at the food menus, methods of discipline, activities, playground areas and anywhere else your child will be. See how caregivers interact with the children. See if it’s the environment you would feel most comfortable leaving your child in.
4. Stay involved. Be a part of planning activities for the children (if there are opportunities for this) and attend any parent meetings. Always address concerns with the caregiver and director. That’s what they are there for.
5. Go with your gut instinct. The safety and well-being of your child comes first. I had visited 3-star day cares, day cares closest to my home and centers with good reputations. In the end, I had to go with my instinct. The center I chose is one in which I don’t think I would ever have doubts leaving my son.
If you’d like further information, or a detailed checklist on what to expect from a day care center and specific questions you should ask, call DHS and request a copy of the handbook “The Parents’ Guide to Selecting Quality Child Care.”