Our Blog about Sustainability in Childcare

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!

Benefits of Bringing the Classroom Outside

Preschool children playing hopscotch outdoorsTaking the classroom outside has a variety of benefits for young children. Not only does it allow them to enjoy the warm and fresh Florida air, but it can provide a change of pace for young minds and additional opportunities to explore and learn.

Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms

By taking the classroom outside, learning becomes more engaging than when you are sitting in a classroom for long periods of time. Teach math by having them estimate how long it would take to run, skip, or hop across the area or have them paint as messy as they want.

Going outdoors can also help nurture their creativity and imagination. Having them build out of organic materials can help further their questioning and understanding of the environment and world around them. It also opens up an entirely new realm of play and experimentation.

One of the most significant benefits of taking class outside is the health benefit. The outdoors provides more opportunities for exercise, such as running and walking, and even teachers can take advantage of additional outdoor time.

At Bartram Academy, we are always looking for new and innovating ways to keep children active and engaged in their learning. As one of the best preschools in St. Johns County, our staff works tirelessly to create an inclusive and inspiring environment for children.

How Teachers Can Practice Reggio-Inspired Methods

The Reggio Emilia model is a great way to encourage students to be their own person and discover their own interests. Teachers are integral in a child’s learning outside of their home, and when practicing Reggio Emilia, there are important guidelines to follow.

As a teacher at Reggio-inspired preschools in St. Johns County, you should be able to do the following:

  • Understand and respect that children are capable contributors to their own learning process.
  • Respect that they belong not just to the school’s community, but the global community.
  • Understand their right to be in a welcoming space that encourages learning without forcing them.
  • Work towards the common goals of the children, their parents, and teachers.
  • Allow a child to explore their own interests in their own way and cater to their preferred method.
  • Engaged children with a rich and responsive environment where they can explore, negotiate, and discuss with their peers and instructors.

At Bartram Academy, our experienced staff is dedicated to allowing children to find their own way in their education. We provide the tools they need to explore their interests and learn in a variety of different ways.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in our preschool programs, contact us today at (904) 419 7563.

The Importance of Children’s Fitness

As one of the best preschools in St. Johns County, Bartram Academy is always striving towards providing the best possible education to our young students. When it comes to physical education, we encourage children to practice yoga and other age-appropriate programs.

Why is Children’s Fitness Important?

When we think of fitness, we often think of the many diet and exercise programs out there, many of them too intense for adults let alone children. However, physical activity is crucial for a child’s development. Not only does it help them build healthy muscles, joints, and bones, but it helps them learn to play and cooperate with others through team sports.

When a child gets an appropriate amount of exercise each day, it helps expend all of the additional energy that would otherwise lay dormant in their system. This can result in behavioral issues and unexpected outbursts.

At Bartram Academy, we offer monthly fitness classes put on by My Gym Children’s Fitness Center. My Gym provides obstacle courses, tumbling, and more all focused on improving a child’s balance, strength, coordination, flexibility, and agility.

If you are interested in learning more about our part in keeping our students active throughout the day, contact our staff at (904) 419 7563 with any questions.