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Helping Hands Childcare is a licensed family child care that is run in my home. My home is a 1,200 square foot townhouse condo in Todd Ranch on the east end of Ventura. My priority is safety and my home demonstrates that. All of the home's windows and sliding doors have been replaced (June 2011) with dual-pane, shatter-proof windows with added UV protection.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are installed on each level of my home. Outlets in children's areas have been fitted with outlet swivel covers and all cleaners are kept high and out of reach. The entry door has a key-less keypad entry system which is kept locked. Only members of the household and regular daycare parents are given an access code for entry. All entrances into my home are fitted with sensors that alert me with a chime each time one is opened. There is also a designated parking spot for the daycare families to make pick-ups and drop-offs easier, safer and more convenient.
Here in our kitchen is where our meals are prepared. Our meals meet the USDA food program guidelines and are provided to the children at no additional cost regardless of whether they qualify for the food program or not. Whole milk is served to children 1-2 years and 1% milk is served to children 2 years and older during meals.
Filtered drinking water is available to the children at all times throughout the day. On special occasions the children may be served 100% fruit juice (1 part juice, 1 part water) in addition to their milk and water. The Kitchen area is gated off with a safety gate to limit access and food is prepared on our back burners when children are present.
Our Dining Room
The children eat in this space at a child-size table and chairs. When weather permits we may move to the outside and eat alfresco. Children are encouraged to practice table manners, use their utensils and to eat on their own with minimal help. The children help clean up their dishes by placing them on the counter when they are finished eating.
This area is also used for art, crafts and other activities like play-dough, paint, crayons, colored pencils, cutting, games and more. Occasionally the kids help with special "cooking" activities where they are allowed to help prepare the snacks, meals or participate in making dough, slime etc.
Our Living Room
The living room area is used as our main play and napping space. The children have access to a variety of materials such as blocks, manipulatives, puzzles, animal figures, toy people, books and more to use. Toys and books are rotated periodically so that the children stay interested and do not get bored of them.
We sing songs and dance in this space or may, from time to time, watch a movie as a special treat. The children get a chance to vote and choose activities daily which gives them the opportunity to gain confidence and feel empowered.
I team up with parent's to help with teaching their children about toileting. I begin when kids show an interest in using the facilities on their own and with the understanding that it will work only if we work together.
Hygiene is a very important factor here in our daycare and so hand washing and keeping ourselves clean is a common practice. Teeth brushing is also highly encouraged here. I supply a toothbrush for each child which is replaced every 6 months and I supervise teeth brushing. The children are all encouraged to use their self-help skills therefore the bathroom is equipped with a child-sized toilet seat and step to allow children to attempt to use the toilet with minimal help. There is also a step-ladder in front of the sink so that they can reach their toothbrushes, paper towels and faucet on their own. Individual paper towels are used instead of a communal cloth towel to minimize the spread of germs.
Our Outdoor Space
I don't have an outdoor space typical to other 1,200 square foot homes, but don't let that fool you! I get very creative with our use of space. We have a canopy which covers the majority of my outdoor space with added UV protection to protect the children from the sun's harmful rays, heat, wind, cold and light rain and the entire space is fenced.
We have ride-on toys, a water-table, a basketball hoop, child-size tables and chairs. We enjoy eating alfresco, painting, drawing, running, pretending and lots more under the shade!
This is our Imagination Station. This area is anything that the children want it to be. There is a play kitchen, play furniture, play food (healthy choices and multicultural), cooking items, dishes and utensils, play cash register, costumes, dolls (of various races) and accessories, and other props. This area has been a home, restaurant, post office, grocery store, Dr's Office and more!
The kids have free access to the writing area where they can find drawing paper, crayons, chalk, magnetic numbers and letters, stickers and dry-erase boards. These materials are frequently used for play in the Imagination Station to create menu's, shopping lists, medical charts, phone books and anything else that the children can think of.
We also have a sandbox where the children can dig, sift, pour, measure, shovel, build and tear down with sand play.
They enjoy working together with their buddies while they practice communication skills, group participation, problem solving social, and physical development.