'Success by 6' instruction gives teachers the right tools

April 22, 2005

Success By 6 is teaching local in-home child-care providers how to take advantage of learning opportunities for children.

A workshop last Saturday was the sixth of nine free sessions held monthly. The topic was how the outdoors offers learning opportunities for children. More than 20 local home child-care providers attended the two-hour workshop at Kearfott Memorial Baptist Church.

Brenda Manns provides child-care at Little Treasure Tottlers in Martinsville and has attended all the workshops so far.

"We've learned a lot of safety, different games and activities," Manns said. "We've learned how to keep the children's attention during teaching them and how to make learning fun. We are very blessed to have this opportunity provided by Success by 6."

Success by 6 is run by United Way of Henry County and Martinsville.

Saturday's workshop was led by consultant Judy Fleming, a special education programs consultant. She earned her doctorate in early childhood special education from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Fleming began the workshop by asking participants where they played outside when they were children. Responses ranged from sandboxes to mud puddles.

"It's important for children to be outside every day," Fleming said. "It doesn't have to be for a long time if it's cold or hot outside, but it should be at least 15 minutes a day."

Fleming went over games to play outside, such as dodgeball and catch, and advised providers to create weekly themes such as learning about rocks or flowers. She then asked everyone to form groups and discuss barriers to playing outside.

When the groups finished, several child-care providers said some parents get upset if their child gets dirty while playing outdoors. Fleming suggested asking parents to provide a change of clothes for the children.

What about mosquitos and stinging insects? Fleming suggested putting insect repellent on the children and closely supervising them so they do not try to pick up bees and other such insects.

Participants then paired off and headed outside behind the church to find items that children could have fun with and learn from.

Betty Barker of Collinsville and Phyllis Pounds of Martinsville chose sticks and dirt, saying children could learn how to grow plants or make mud pies.

Participants also suggested using simple things such as boxes to create houses or trains.

Ann Goad of Martinsville, who has been in child care for 26 years, said she enjoyed the workshop.

"I've learned a lot of creative things for children to do, and it's been nice meeting other providers and getting ideas from them, too," Goad said.

Saturday's workshop was the second one for Pounds, who said she plans to attend the remaining three.

"The last one was about health care and what foods are healthy as snacks for children," Pounds said. "These two workshops have helped me learn different activities my kids can do and what's appropriate for the different age groups. I've learned how to have the children play with each other better and how to shop to buy appropriate and inexpensive toys for children."

Sheryl N. Agee, director of Success By 6, said the monthly workshops are open to child-care providers who care for children in their homes. They cover practical, concrete ways to guide children's learning and development in a home environment, she added.

"These caregivers give up a Saturday morning each month in order to learn how they can be better teachers for the children in their care," Agee said. "They are really trying to make a difference in our community."

The workshops, many free materials and refreshments all are covered by United Way Success by 6 through grant funding received from the Henry-Martinsville Social Services department and The Harvest Foundation, according to Agee.

"I hope through these workshops they will learn more creative ways to work with their children," Fleming said. "Most of these people don't have a formal education, so I'm teaching them inexpensive and fun ways to prepare these children for kindergarten."


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