Tag Archives: safety

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward (I Hope)

I was saddened to learn last week of an incident where a child was restrained by a teacher in a local child care center. The proper authorities are involved and an investigation is underway. 4C has been informed of and involved in various responses to this incident. It is central to 4C’s mission to support child care programs and families always, especially in times of need.

Incidents like these are tragic, not only for the individuals involved, but for the field of child care in general. As I’ve reflected on this over the past few days, and grieved for the individuals involved, I am focusing my energy on prevention of incidents like this in the future.

Kentucky and Ohio have made progress in improving child care, but there is still a ways to go. We must guarantee that essential safety, health and protective practices are present every day and build to high quality from there. Every child is wired to learn right from the start and these settings either promote or inhibit children from learning. Not to mention it should be a basic right for us all to be safe. Until child care is perfect, here are a few things you can do:

  • Be aware. Have a heightened awareness for changes in behavior of children or teachers.
  • Trust your gut. If you are suspicious about something in a child care center, please contact 4C so that we can assist you with your concerns or a report. Sometimes children can’t speak for themselves, so they need their caring adults to do so for them.
  • Support comprehensive background checks of child care staff. In a previous blog, I shared that background checks are less in depth than you might think. You can make a difference right now with one easy click to tell your legislator why this issue matters.
  • Be a champion for quality. Some child care and early learning programs are working hard and making the investment in quality. Whether you are a teacher, a parent or a community member, get interested in what the highest quality programs in our community are up to. For more information about quality in child care, visit our Web site.

None of these are absolute assurances that children will be safe, but they go a long way to keep children out of harm’s way.

Putting on the Brakes

You’re driving on the interstate, keeping up with traffic, when you see a police officer with a radar gun aimed right at your car. Does your right foot automatically go to the brake? Do you nervously look in the rearview mirror to see if the police car pulled out onto the interstate? Now imagine that the interstate is a classroom, and the teacher is the police officer. Doesn’t it feel some days that you’re “keeping the peace” rather than facilitating learning?

Sometimes a police officer can cause more trouble than they prevent.  When you see the officer with the radar gun on the interstate, you might slam on your brakes, no matter your speed. The same goes for other drivers. You get nervous when you see the police car! Teachers can sometimes have the same effect on children.

“I will give this block to you but don’t throw it.” “I’ll get out the markers, but don’t draw on yourself.” “We can go outside, but I do not want to see you climb up the slide!” Sometimes we give children so many rules to follow that it’s difficult for them to know what to do to be successful. Walking feet, gentle touches, don’t throw. Can we keep children safe and still allow them to be creative with their choices, decisions and activities?

I often challenge teachers to sit back and observe. Watch what the children are doing before jumping in. When a toddler in your classroom wants to touch an infant, wait. Maybe they will stroke their cheek, or hold their hand. If the toddler starts to pull the infant’s lips, then intercede and encourage the toddler to use gentle touches. When you talk to children, tell them what they can do, not always what they shouldn’t do. When you’re going outside, mention the weather, talk about the fresh air, show excitement for being able to run. As the children are playing with the blocks, talk to them about what they are constructing, not about throwing blocks. Challenging behaviors are going to surface, but wait and see what the children are doing before assuming the worst! Set up opportunities for children to be successful, and you can learn together when it’s the best time to put on the brakes.