Our Blog about Sustainability in Childcare

Teaching Your Child to be Original

best preschools in jacksonville flYou value your child for their own uniqueness – their individuality as a person. In many ways, you would expect this to be the same from the teachers and staff in one of the best preschools in Jacksonville, FL. In our society, original thinkers are valued as the movers and shakers, the inventors and the innovators, the change agents and the leaders. It has long been believed the society here in the United States is less structured than some other countries, and this encourages people to think outside of the box.

So, how can you encourage creativity in your child? One way is to send them to a preschool that fosters creativity. There are teachers who believe in providing children with a curriculum and environment that opens their mind, instead of closing it down due to unnecessary restrictions.
An important way to do this is to teach values, rather than just rules. With values, a child learns why certain actions are appropriate or not. This provides much more information than just saying, “No. That’s against the rules.” Values challenge a student to make rational decisions for themselves — decisions that are based on facts –rather than just adopting and accepting a rule. With this focus, a child is free to think for themselves and act accordingly.

How Creating Self-Identity Panels Benefits Your Child

kids drawingMany in the field of education, particularly early childhood education, are looking at teaching and the classroom in a whole new way. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia model, they do things differently in the classroom and even in setting up the classroom.

As part of this educational approach, teachers serve as guides and learn along with the children. In fact, the third teacher is thought of as the classroom that is created to be a space that empowers children to explore their environment. All of this fosters learning, with the curriculum growing out of the child’s interests.

Regarded as one of the best approaches to learning for young children, the Reggio Emilia model places an emphasis on the arts, and it is common for pre-school students to complete an assignment called a Self-Identity Panel. This panel is a self-portrait the child makes of themselves, using the self as the model, as well as serving as the artist.

Such a panel promotes original thinking as each child approaches the project differently. In addition, children are encouraged to talk with other students about their ideas. Such a fresh and open approach shows value for each individual and their mode of self-expression. It also encourages students to look at and inside of themselves.

Silk rainbow scarf

Playing with Fabrics

Expensive toys and digital media are not the only way to keep kids entertained. Giving them the space and basic building blocks to be creative helps them stay engaged and learn to see possibility in simple places. That is why you should consider adding loose fabrics to your list of resources for child care in St. Augustine, FL. From cheap scraps at your local craft store to carpet samples and dollies, small bits of fabric can go a long way toward sparking imagination and engagement. Here are a few ways to use them in your space:

Hanging Decorations — Simple, beautiful, and easy to use, larger pieces of fabric add a textural element to playrooms and classrooms.

Costumes — Elaborate getups are not necessary for dramatic play and dress up. Give children a few pieces of fabric and let their imaginations do the work. They will be more involved in the mental process of creating their stories.

Embroidery Hoops — A great way to practice finger dexterity and get creative in the classroom, these simple circles combine well with loose strings, cords, or even natural additions like pinecones and twigs.

Geoboards — With a few nails and a wood plank, you can let kids explore shapes on homemade geoboards. Best used with stretchy bands and elastic like fabrics.

Make playing with fabrics part of your strategy for child care in St. Augustine, FL. These simple scraps can inspire creativity and practical skills.

Toddlers drawing on paper on the floor with various toys around them

How to Introduce Loose Parts to Your Toddler

Toddlers are natural tinkerers. They want to explore their world with their fingers, picking up and playing with everything they can get their hands on. Introducing loose parts into playtime is a great way to engage your toddlers’ senses and encourage learning. Furthermore, it fits perfectly with the Reggio Emilia approach we follow for child care in St. Augustine, FL, which emphasizes the role that a learner’s environment plays in their education. As your toddler plays with loose parts, they are determining for themselves how those parts fit in with the larger environment and the many ways they can interact with them.

However, how can you ensure your toddler gets the most out of playing with loose parts — and does it safely? We recommend a few simple tips.

First, do not let your toddler play unsupervised with any object that may pose a choking hazard. Remember that loose parts do not necessarily have to be small. For example, large plastic cups are perfect for a toddler to play with.

Next, avoid overwhelming your child by introducing too many different loose parts at once. It is best to add just a few new elements at a time and rotate them in and out as necessary.

Finally, give your toddler objects that range widely in appearance and texture. You want to entice their curiosity and their senses, so gather a diverse array of loose objects for them to play with.

Learn more about the student-centered philosophy of our child care in St. Augustine, FL. We believe in an engaging, self-guided curriculum for all ages.

Three Eco-Friendly Activities for Your Child this Summer

Two preschool age children watching an elephant at the zooEven the best preschools in St Johns County cannot keep your child engaged all year round. During the crucial summer months, kids need responsible activities that continue to encourage both education and environmental consciousness. Here are three ideas to keep the fun flowing and build a strong foundation for future success–both in academics and ecologically friendly behavior:

Nature Walks–Florida’s unique environment offers a wealth of trails to choose from. Whether you head to the local park or a nature preserve, finding an easy walk to make with your child helps you both appreciate the beauty found in a flourishing ecosystem. Also, you get in some fun, healthy exercise.

Zoo/Conservation Center Tours–Trade out the tablet computer for a trip to your nearest ethical animal habitat. This activity option allows you to support conservation and wildlife protection efforts and give your child a chance to see some of the world’s most impressive animals in real life.

Cultivation–Help your child flourish by growing together. Whether it is a home garden or a new tree in the yard, you can teach the importance of purposeful cultivation early while building an understanding of fundamental life sciences, like plant biology and ecology, giving your young one a head start when school starts.

Bartram Academy is committed to your child’s enrichment during school and on the off-season. Reach out to our team today by calling (904) 419-7563 with any questions or concerns.

Using Eco-Healthy Plastics

Young children drinking milk at daycareAt our eco-friendly daycare, we are committed to using only the best natural products available on the market. One primary concern is the use of plastics. Though often plastic can be unavoidable, we do our best to use eco-healthy products in our facility.

When purchasing or using plastic materials, certain plastics can hurt your health. With many children’s toys being made of plastic, it is more important than ever that we recognize healthy and unhealthy materials. We recommend staying away from plastics that contain the following recycling codes:

  • 3 (PVC)
  • 6 (PS)
  • 7 (Other)

It is also recommended to use BPA-free plastics, especially when purchasing sippy cups and bottles. BPA-free products are much safer to use than products that do contain the chemical. We also recommend not using plastic containers to heat food in the microwave. Everything is about convenience these days, but reheating your food in plastic allows those chemicals to seep into what you are eating.

At Bartram Academy, we are committed to creating a safe and eco-friendly environment for children to grow up and learn in. We teach them how to preserve the earth today and in the future by incorporating eco-friendly practices into our lessons and daily routines. To learn more about how we practice sustainability in childcare, contact us today at (904) 419-7563.

How to Be Germ-Free Through Eco-Friendly Cleaning

Home cleaning productsMany families have adjusted their lifestyles to promote a greener and more eco-friendly household. At our eco-friendly daycare, we uphold the same values. A greener, more sustainable world is our goal, and we strive to teach our students how to create that world for themselves. One small change you can do is to eliminate harmful cleaning chemicals from your routine.

How to Be Germ-Free Through Eco-Friendly Cleaning

  • Use chlorine bleach alternatives. Chlorine bleach can be incredibly harmful, so it is essential to switch to natural alternatives that are just as effective. Peroxide-based bleach, quaternary ammonia, and borax are all safe options for your children and the environment.
  • Do not buy aerosol spray cans. Instead of purchasing aerosol sprays that emit chemicals into the atmosphere, opt to create your own air fresheners through the use of essential oils and baking soda.
  • Create your own cleaning products. It is amazing what a little vinegar and water can do! Create your own cleaning solutions from ingredients you trust instead of spending money on vibrantly colored chemicals.
  • Mix ingredients such as vinegar, borax, and antibacterial essential oils. Only a few ingredients can create natural window cleaner, mold and mildew remover, carpet cleaner, and all-purpose cleaners. Find a combination you like the most and never spend money on harmful chemicals again!

What Makes a Reggio Emilia Preschool?

Young child playing with blocks in a preschool classroomWhen searching for a preschool for your child, it is essential to find the best school for your educational and personal beliefs. When it comes to Reggio Emilia-inspired schools, Bartram Academy is the leading pre-K and childcare center in the St. Johns area. Our founders and staff all adhere to the Reggio Emilia method of education and strive to prepare your child for elementary and beyond in the best way possible.

Reggio Emilia schools are defined by their project-based curriculum that focuses primarily on the interests of individual students. Children enrolled in the preschool or childcare programs are encouraged to play and explore in any way that they see fit. Self-expression is an essential component of the curriculum and children will express themselves through a variety of artistic methods, including drawing, music, dancing, and painting.

At Bartram Academy, we are dedicated to helping your child grow in confidence and learn how to live a sustainable life. Though the many projects we offer, they will learn how to cooperate, problem-solve, and resolve conflicts with other students. We invest tenfold in the education of our students and teachers to provide the best experience possible at our school.

When you are searching for the best preschools in Jacksonville, FL, Bartram Academy has the staff and curriculum necessary to prepare your child for school and life. Contact us today at (904) 419-7563 to learn about our enrollment options.

What is the Difference between the Reggio and Montessori Methods?

Child drawingThough similar, Montessori and Reggio schools follow different educational methods, which can cater to different interests and ideals. When you are looking to enroll your child in one of the best preschools in Jacksonville, FL, you want to ensure you are choosing a school that fits their needs. Below are the differences between the Montessori and Reggio Emilia methods.

One of the main differences between the two is the sense of community. In a Reggio school, children, parents, and their teachers are considered partners in learning. Communications between all parties and documentation of a child’s education is a significant part of the Reggio method’s philosophy. In Montessori schools, there is a pre-determined curriculum for students, and there are certain expectations on how they should respond.

Another difference is the level of involvement teachers have with their students. In Reggio schools, teachers are viewed as partners in learning and engage in different styles and methods children choose to learn from. Teachers at Montessori schools observe the children as they learn without interfering. This helps a child learn more independently and grow as they learn and develop.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in a Reggio-inspired preschool, Bartram Academy offers an exceptional program for students in the Jacksonville area. Contact our school today at (904) 419-7563 to discuss enrollment.

3 Fun Activities for the Winter Holidays

A young family reading in natureThough we rarely see below freezing temperatures or snow in Florida, celebrating the winter holidays can still be just as exciting as up north for you and your children. Below are three sustainable activities you can do with your children this holiday season.

  1. Have a Pajama Day

Winter break is meant to help young minds relax and rejuvenate after a term of learning at the best VPK in Jacksonville, FL. By having a day where the whole family gets to stay in their PJs, you can help promote relaxation and spending time together. Do crafts, make blanket forts, or get everyone involved in cooking breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

  1. Spend a Day at a Local Farm

Visiting a farm is a great way to keep kids active while they are having fun. Whether you want to go fruit picking or teach them about the different animals that live on the farm, your child will be able to be fully engaged in learning about new things. If possible, take a tour of the farm to teach them the connection between food and where it comes from.

  1. Have an Outdoor Adventure

Kids love to be outdoors, and we are fortunate to have consistently lovely weather in our state. Plan an outdoor adventure for your children, such as a scavenger hunt or fort building competition to help them be engaged and active. Do not forget to bring plenty of water and snacks!