Why are Lesson Plans important in a Preschool?

Just because our students are young children and all they want to do is play, does not mean our teachers needn’t prepare for the weeks activities. The writing of the lesson plan gives the teacher time to think about the class, the stage of development of the students and allows for challenging but achievable goals to be set for the week. Lake Mary Childcare’s curriculum allows for the teacher to be creative and match the children’s stage of development with fun activities that achieve the goals of the Florida Standards of education.

 Lake Mary Childcare VPK class ( photo by kind permission of parents)

Lake Mary Childcare VPK class (photo by kind permission of parents)

The Florida Department of Eduction has published Standards for all age groups which our teachers at Lake Mary Childcare can use to design the lesson plans and feel confident that the lessons are bringing the children along at a pace which is neither to slow or too fast. Why not explore these standards yourself, http://flbt5.floridaearlylearning.com and compare your current childcare’s lesson plans with the progress that the standards suggest. They really are very helpful to the teachers and parents.

So lesson plans are very important. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Prepares the teacher for the coming weeks activities

  • Allows the teacher to set challenging but achievable goals

  • Allows for observation and reflection when designing next weeks lesson plans.

  • Allows the Director to monitor class progress

  • Allows for a substitute teacher take over in a teacher emergency

  • A lesson plan posted on the notice board allows parents to see what activities the children are experiencing.

 Lake Mary Childcare 3yr class  (photo by kind permission of parents)

Lake Mary Childcare 3yr class (photo by kind permission of parents)

Next time you walk into your child’s classroom, ask to see the lesson plan. Hopefully you will be very pleased with it.

How to Choose a Good Daycare

Choosing a good quality Daycare or Childcare Center for your child is vitally important not only for the safely, education and development of your child but also for your own peace of mind. It's no fun being at work worrying about your child's wellbeing especially as you may suspect your child maybe having a hard time at the center or daycare home. You will probably be spending a good portion of your earnings on the care of your child which in some families can become a big worry. It's important that you feel your money is well spent, otherwise resentment towards your child and choice of care will fester over time.

How to choose?

Home daycare

Firstly I would not recommend daycares run from home for the following reasons:

  • Different age group children will be mixed in same group. That makes it difficult to impossible to appropriately develop the child as the carer would have to have up to 5 different activity programs running concurrently.
  • Home daycares are usually run by one (or maybe an additional family member) which means if you have 6 children in one room, all of differing ages, the chance that your child will be ignored or become bored is very high.
  • What happens if the carer goes off on vacation? or worse goes off sick at no notice. This means you will be scrabbling for someone else to look after your child, which is highly detrimental for continuity and totally confusing and upsetting for the child. Chances are you will either be late for work or calling in. I've known moms or dads get fired for calling in too many times.
  • With no other carer "watching  the primary carer could take short cuts, ignore the children by taking a break, not following a curriculum based lesson plans or mess about on their phone texting or be on social media, which puts your child at a safety risk  

   Childcare Centers

This choice I would recommend

Ask your friend and colleagues if they would recommend a center. This is probably the best way to narrow your search.  Also, look up local centers on Google or other search engines. Look for reviews. What are other people saying? Does the schools website contain real examples of "Thank you Bouquets", does it explain the curriculum, does it explain the ethos and philosophy of the center or home. Do you agree with the philosophy. If the web site gives you a good feeling and philosophy gives you a good feeling call up and ask about costs. If the price is right book an appointment for a tour.

The reason I recommend booking an appointment is that by arranging time for someone to be available at the mutually agreed time means you will be given 100% attention and be able to ask as many questions as you want without being rushed.

When touring a center I've listed below 7 areas that you should focus on. 

1. Safety

  • Look for damage toys, ripped, dirty or stained carpeting.
  • Look for Cleanliness: no dust everywhere
  • Look for clean bathrooms
  • Look for non overflowing garbage bins, no food scraps lying around
  • Look in the kitchen to ensure its clean, (if food is prepared)
  • Look for a well maintained outside play area
  • Look for hazards such as sharp objects, broken furniture, choking hazards such as very small toys in an infant room 
LMCC Playground child.jpg

2. Nurturing

  • How friendly are the teachers and staff
  • Are the teachers smiling when you enter the room or scowling
  • Are voice levels of teachers low
  • Are the rooms calming, especially in the infant room
LMCC teacher with class.jpg

3. Nutrition

  • Is the menu healthy and will you receive a menu regularly
  • Is water available for your child to drink 
  • Inspect the kitchen
  • Ask what happens if your child doesn't eat lunch. ( After lunch you should be informed  and your child should be offered something else not on menu but still nutritious (No child should go hungry)  

4. Curriculum

  • Ask to see the class lesson plan. Is it appropriate for your child's age?
  • Ask to see all the differing play corner areas for appropriateness, There MUST be a block area, Library/Literacy area  and a Dramatic Play area as a minimum
  •  Ask if any regular assessments are done and if you will receive a report
  • Are books readily available in all rooms
  • Ask what curriculum is used (look it up later to make sure your happy with it)
 Lake Mary Childcare Curriculum addressing Literacy

Lake Mary Childcare Curriculum addressing Literacy

5. Communication

  • Ask what communications channels are used?

Lake Mary Childcare use several forms of communication

  1. Bulletin boards
  2. Daily reports for younger children (older children are encouraged to talk to mom and dad about their day)
  3. Weekly and monthly news letters
  4. Lesson plans posted
  5. Menues posted
  6. Teacher/Parent Conferences
  7. Lake Mary Childcare Director gives 24/7 access for Parents to call with any concerns
  8. Emails usually answered within a couple of hours
 Lake Mary Childcare news letter for the VPK class

Lake Mary Childcare news letter for the VPK class

 One of Lake Mary Childcare Class Notice Boards

One of Lake Mary Childcare Class Notice Boards


6. The travel distance

Do you pick a center close to work, close to home, near any siblings schools or somewhere in between. Shortening your travel time will greatly enhance you experience of your childs Childcare Center. 

7. Cost

Childcare Centers usually price for attendance rather like a college. If you don't attend you still have to pay for the space as teachers and rent still has to be paid.  

  • Ask if you get any free weeks for vacation
  • Ask about attendance policy
  • What are payment options
  • will they accept YOUR preferred payment options and method

In closing:  Cheap means cheap and low quality; but bare in mind that expensive doesn't guarantee top quality. I personally know of some very expensive Centers who's quality is very questionable.  I believe that somewhere middle of the road on price can still give excellent quality.

Good luck on your search. 

All photographs have participants and parents approval and have been taken in Lake Mary Childcare center




How To Keep Your Child Safe

How safe is your Home?

7 tips to follow

There are State rules for Florida that mandate precautions that will help in keeping children safe and in an healthy environment to learn and grow. BUT... is there any reason that these legislative rules cannot just as easy apply to the home you live in? I think not.

I would like to share just some of the sensible rules that you can easily follow to add that extra protection for your child.  I'm citing from the Childcare Facilities Handbook October 2017, which has introduced some very important changes that strengthen the safety aspects for the care of your child.  Here are some tips to help you.

  1. CRIBS: Make sure they are away from strangulation risks such as window blinds and drapery and have no more than 2 3/8 inch gap between bar spacings. Please get rid of your crib if it has drop down sides as it's not Federally safe compliant . Sheets should be tight and there should be no excess bedding, bumper pads, hanging mobiles, quilts, comforters, pillows or stuffed animals, in case of a smothering incident. Check out https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/cribs
  2. FOOD: For those children under 4yrs do not serve these choking hazards

    • Whole round hot dogs ( slice them up length ways)
    • Popcorn
    • Chips
    • Pretzel nuggets
    • Whole grapes
    • Nuts
    • Cheese cubes 
  3. VEHICLES: DO NOT LEAVE CHILDREN IN A VEHICLE UNSUPERVISED AT ANY TIME even if you think you are only popping into the store for a quick purchase. In Florida temperatures can soar to a lethal level in minutes. Talking about the Florida sun, test the seat belt buckles for heat as we have had incidents where the buckle was so hot that when you secure the child in, it leaves a very painful burn and a very unhappy child and a very guilty feeling for you. One extra titbit, as your child will grow very quickly please re-adjust the straps on the child seat to prevent friction burns on the inner thighs.
  4. TOXIC substances and dangerous items: It's very easy in the rush of preparing the dinner or cleaning up the house, to leave potentially deadly items around. Please be vigilant in putting items such as bleach, cleaning spray, knives, sharp tools away, well out of reach of your child. Don't store toxic substances such cleaning fluids or alcohol under the sink where a child can easily reach into. lock them away or at least have them well out of reach. All cupboards should have safety locks on them.
  5. PLAY equipment: regularly inspect the equipment and surrounding areas for hazards such as rotting structures or sharp objects such as protruding nails. test the temperatures of any metal or hard plastic for heat when its sunny. try and place your plastic slide chute out of direct sunlight.
  6. STRANGULATION:    Tie up or hookup any loose blind pulls out of the reach of your child.
  7. ELECTRICAL: Cover all sockets not in use with covers you can buy from Walmart or home depot. A few cents may just save a life. 

These rules are there because some child, somewhere, has either died or been seriously injured because of a failure of someone to properly care for the health and safety of their child. Don't let that person be you.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions on improving the safety of your home for your child. KEEP SAFE



Does Santa really exist

Does Santa really exist? Well he does for me and I'm as old as dirt. For children Christmas is a magical time,  for parents it can be a highly stressful time.  Finding the cash to buy all those presents to leave under the tree or fill a stocking. The time taken to fight through the hustle and bustle of shopping centers or the simple click of a button on Amazon or other online retailers can swiftly empty your bank account rapidly takes it toll and the punishment will manifest itself in January when the bills come through.

But what about Santa. The children see a magical happy and jolly large man, dressed in red with a huge white beard bearing gifts for everyone from the back his sledge. With just the slightest knowledge of physics, the idea of a large volume and mass soaring over rooftops powered by reindeer is unbelievable. So why do I believe in Santa?

To me Santa is the spirit of Christmas and represents the story of St. Nicholas, who as a man of faith, goodness and generosity who secretly gave gifts to the children need in his town. The fact that he did this secretly epitomizes the spirit of Christmas and is reinforced by the legend of Santa Claus. The story of St Nicholas enriches our understanding of Santa Claus by showing that a real historical person existed who on December 6th, gave secretly to those in need. No he didn't give iPads or Xboxes he gave small gifts , maybe even an apple or a wooden doll. I know that's not an easy thing do get away with today as children have unfortunately learned to compare and compete but maybe even just telling the story of St. Nicholas may educate our children on giving the gift of generosity without expectations of anything in return. And that the bigger price tag is not necessarily the best.

So Santa exists in all of us if we can give secretly or quietly, without expectation, and just to enjoy the the giving of a simple gift. 

 Tell the children about the sugar cane that they are sucking on is actually a candy representation of St Nicholas's Staff.  In a childcare setting we celebrate with story telling, art and modeling activities but knowing the historical background of Santa Clause, Father Christmas or St Nicholas, makes making a model of a sugar cane all the more poignant and fun.

Tell the children about the sugar cane that they are sucking on is actually a candy representation of St Nicholas's Staff.  In a childcare setting we celebrate with story telling, art and modeling activities but knowing the historical background of Santa Clause, Father Christmas or St Nicholas, makes making a model of a sugar cane all the more poignant and fun.

VPK and the reasons why your child should participate

I'm sure you think you could teach your child yourself  but there is more to VPK than just sharing knowledge. Many parents are working and the evening is not the best time to allocate at least 15 hours a week to home VPK schooling. At the end of each day your child will be tired and so will you. How can you manage distractions and keep focused on your task of teaching without the usual door knocks, dog barking, cooking dinner or anything else that crops up in a normal family household.   

Ask yourself why has the State invested so much money in VPK if evidence to support its positive effect on children's education was not there. Allow me to share some very good reasons why you should consider enrolling your child into a VPK program, such as the one offered at Lake Mary Childcare. If you are not already on this web site you can check it out here. www.lakemarychildcare.com

  1. It's Free (9am to 12.00pm). Lake Mary Childcare offer longer days: 6.30am to 6.30pm to fit in with parents work schedule.
  2. 540 hrs of VPK teaching time.
  3. Teachers are vetted, experienced and qualified.
  4. Ongoing written assessments on childs' progress through a State approved curriculum.
  5. Children have concrete experiences and are encouraged to explore through play.
  6.  Significant advantages for children entering Kindergarten and beyond.

The following photographs are by kind permission of the parents of Lake Mary Childcare

Scientific Evidence

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School also indicated learners must see what they are learning as useful, and realize how the information can be applied. If the child does not recognize the new knowledge as useful he or she cannot go beyond memorization to application (Dewey, 1938/1998).

The time children spend in play can assist in creating connections for later literacy and academic advancements (Barnett, 2003; Liew, McTigue, Barrois, & Hughes, 2008; Kirp, 2009; Stipek, 2006). Buysse and Sparkman (2003) agreed with this finding, as they believed that learning must occur in natural settings in daily activities and should be linked to socialization with peers.


There is importance in early relationships and environments, and that interactions between science, policy, and practice are critical in the early childhood field (Shonkoff, 2003). 

Neurons to Neighborhoods" was a front-page topic in Time Magazine. An outcome of these studies was the highly published results that children needed quality experiences and early brain stimulation to make connections for later learning. These studies suggested children can learn when they have early experiences in play activities promoting planning, problem-solving, social opportunities, and creative role-playing (Bransford et al., 2002; Shonkoff, 2003). Brain research was not the only factor that contributed to the rising interest to investing in young children. There were many studies that supported positive outcomes to high quality preschool experiences and high student achievement.


Preschool studies linked to high student achievement. The vision of Voluntary Prekindergarten was created out of years of research indicating positive effects of prekindergarten programs and benefits to children, families, and society. 


Why Do Preschools have VPK Graduation ?

It's a waste of time, money and energy and more for the parents than the children. I quote Valerie Strauss from the Washington Post. But is it ?  I'd like to dismantle the 3  reasons Strauss gives to forget VPK Graduation.

1. It's Time well spent.

The children are being taught very valuable lessons.  Lessons in life that they will experience in due course but will have practiced it in a safe and fun environment. Apart from normal curricular activities, what life lessons are they learning?

  • The importance  of Planning and Preparation
  • Public speaking
  • Working to together as a team
  • Practicing makes perfect
  • The importance of dressing up for an occasion to show respect

2. It's investment money well spent.

Strauss goes on about it being wasted money. This is a weak defence put in on behalf of parents. For goodness sake, for the cost of a cheap meal you have invested in a memory that will never be forgotten. Oh, I hear you nay sayers say they will graduate High School and maybe even College so why do all this when the children will probably never remember. Well I say to you that when they are grown adults and the snap shots get taken out with themselves in all the graduation garb and tassels, they WILL remember. They will remember, (if only vaguely) that great teacher in VPK who helped them when they scraped their knees in the playground, who read them fantastic Dr. Seuss stories like "Green eggs and ham". Who taught them to write their own name and made them so proud as to show their handwritten name to Mom and Dad. And what about Grandma and Grandad who drove 100 miles to the 30 minute event? I bet they had a tear in their eyes when they saw their grandchild reciting songs. So for thirty bucks or so, I reckon that's a good deal.

3. No extra energy needed  

The preparation for VPK Graduation takes no more energy than other curricular activities. OK, the Center Director has to order the gowns, put out a couple of notices and maybe book a venue. but that's it really. If you count turning up and socializing for 30 minutes at the ceremony, then yes, thats additional energy. But maybe Ms. Strauss ought to lighten up a little, invite grandma and grandad, book a table at a local kid friendly burger or pasta joint,  put on her best frock and jump in the car with her child. isn't that what you do when you go out as a family on maybe a Friday night/weekend anyway. But this will be a special evening, I promise. 

3 reasons why Lake Mary Childcare put on a VPK graduation ceremony

1. There come a time in life when we mark the passing of time. A birth, a wedding, an important anniversary.  When a child has reached that stage in life when they are about to move from a small Childcare to the huge Public School system, then its a very big deal. It's probably the biggest change in their lifestyle that's about to happen. So to mark it with a ceremony is a very appropriate thing to do.

2. It's a great excuse to bring family members together for a great photo shoot and a piece of cake .

3. Its also a way of saying "THANK YOU", to the VPK teachers who have committed themselves for a whole year to preparing VPK children for public school, both academically and socially. I honestly believe these teachers are teachers in the truest sense of the word. It's the love of giving and expecting nothing in return, except a smile from the children and an end of year celebration.

Yes it's a Celebration   

6 things children learn playing with Blocks

A child playing with blocks is presented with many opportunities for learning. What some may say "They are just Blocks", others in the know realize that simple blocks of wood, of different shapes and sizes create a massive opportunity of learning for your child.

Wooden blocks especially are naturally appealing to young children because the feel good to touch, are symmetrical, and invite open-ended exploration. When children construct, create, and represent their experiences with blocks, they grow in all areas of of development.

Here are 6 things that you child will learn while playing with blocks:

  1. Literacy
  2. Mathematics
  3. Science
  4. Social studies
  5. The arts
  6. Technology

Literacy: Just get down with your child and discuss the fantastic building they are making. Ask "What are you building". Invite you child to talk about their work. This alone will expand their vocabulary and language

Mathematics: Ask your child "How many blocks are there?" or on tidying up say : just put 3 blocks away at a time. Ask " how many of these smaller blocks are needed to make one long one like this one?". Encourage your child to explore patterns and relationships. point to their construction for example "look at how balanced your fence is. It goes short, tall then short again and just keeps on going". Emphasis concepts about geometry and spatial sense by asking them to organize the block by size , teach your child the names of the shapes (Triangle, rectangle square or cylinder. Take about their blok positions relative to the others such " over, under, next to, below, inside, on top of, through". get a ruler and help your child to measure their construction or building.     

Science: Add plastic animals as props  or artificial flowers ton promote "Life Scences". Provide a balancing scale, mirror and pipes so they can explorevthe physical science. get some rocks or acorns or pine cones to add to there construction. This promotes an understanding of earth science

Social studies: Talk about roads, can they reproduce their neighborhood, provide props for the different ranges of jobs people in the neighborhood do.

Arts: Suggest your child could draw their construction and take it into their school. For drama, why not add hats  or other props that may be fun to use.

Technology: Maybe add ramps and wheels to the block area and take about what makes their construction stable. Provide some technology tools such as a camera for them to take a picture of their construction.

Imagination has absolutely no boundaries.

By the way, You can buy some excellent wooden blocks; just google it

Have some fun with your child.   

 Two proud Lake Mary Childcare children playing with blocks, constructing a "tennis court". (It really doesn't matter what you think it is)   Photographs by kind courtesy of their parents

Two proud Lake Mary Childcare children playing with blocks, constructing a "tennis court". (It really doesn't matter what you think it is)

Photographs by kind courtesy of their parents