Settlement News Across the Province/2008-2/3

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SNAP Vol. 4 / #2 - Spring 2008 - Doing the Legwork to Setting Up Successful Infant Room

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Doing the Legwork to Setting Up Successful Infant Room

Developing a physical space that meets the needs of children, parents, childminders and other staff is quite a challenge. That was my first thought when my manager asked me to take responsibility for setting up a room for our new infant program.

I understood that infant care is a higher risk undertaking because of the vulnerability of infants. My challenge was that I had never worked with infants before. In fact I had never visited an infant childminding room.

I knew I had a lot to learn, so I set out to visit several infant rooms at different LINC locations. I wanted to get an idea about programming options, but also about the physical aspect of infant care, right down to how they set up the rooms.

My first visit was to the Muslim Community Services LINC program. The supervisor, staff and manager all welcomed me and answered all my questions. The childminding supervisor spoke to me at length about the infant room setting, and gave me some areas to focus on, such as safety, routines and physical settings. I learned a lot at MCS.

Next I visited the full-time infant program at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate. The infant room has space for 10 infants cared for by three staff. Again, the manager and staff gave me the opportunity to observe and ask lots of questions about the setting and routines.

Here’s what I learned from these visits:

  • Safey first! The room has to be a safe place where infants can play and be cared for.
  • Infants have immediate needs that demand immediate attention, so having food preparation areas, change tables, sinks and sleeping areas easily accessible is vital.
  • Mobile toddlers need a safe and interesting environment to move around in. Providing a cushioned play surface gives them the space they need to explore.
  • Infants need the security of knowing that their emotional and physical needs will be met in predictable ways. Every infant has his/her own routine, and caregivers must be sensitive to those individual differences.

ORLAC (Ontario Region LINC Advisory Committee) provides Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) with expert advice on the LINC (Language Instruction for the Newcomers to Canada) program. This includes advice on program enhancement, policy, operations and delivery assistance.

ORLAC members represent different aspects of LINC, including childminding. The LINC Childminding representative provides input to ORLAC on topics relevant to those working in childminding.

Your ORLAC representative looks forward to assisting you and hopes to hear from you soon. Let us know your concerns and opinions regarding best practices, availability of resources and support groups. You may also address any needs for professional development. Your comments are valuable and always welcome! Please contact: Pfalleranneliese@hotmail.com

The room I ultimately set up has capacity for six infants, from six to 19 months. My work to set up the room was guided by all I learned during those site visits. I planned for a safe play area, separate from other activities. This area provides mobile infants with the opportunity to explore and develop their gross motor skills. There is also a table for children to develop fine motor skills by scribbling, finger painting, and doing puzzles.

The room contains child-sized furniture, a large food preparation counter with lots of storage, a microwave, fridge, bottle warmer, and food preparation sink separate from the diaper changing sink. We set aside a quiet area for breastfeeding mothers, and allotted space to display children’s work, parents’ bulletins and teachers’ information. The room provides lots of room for toys that are both educational and fun, including a sensory bin, floor cushions and a reading area. Best of all, the room is cozy and inviting.

I loved the experience of setting the room up, and I’m glad that the staff, parents and children like it, too. It is a good place to be.

SNAP

Published by TESL Ontario, SNAP aims to inform readers about new initiatives and resources in the field of settlement services. SNAP will also have notices of upcoming conferences, workshops or other professional development opportunities.