Happy Healthy Childhoods - Child Care of Southwest Florida Inc. Blog

Happy Healthy Childhoods

Child Care of Southwest Florida Inc. Blog

Kindergarten is too late!

Posted by Beth Lobdell On October 13th

“Kindergarten is too late for WHAT?”…you might ask.

We believe that kindergarten is too late for early childhood development and here is a short video explaining why:

In case you skipped the video, here are a few talking points that you missed. For those children who don’t have access to high quality early education:

  • 25% are more likely to drop out of school
  • 40% are more likely to become teen moms
  • 70% are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes

This prompted us to begin a new campaign to educate parents and law makers to the importance of high-quality early education programs. This is in an effort to give each child a better opportunity at life and hopefully prevent them from becoming a drain on society later in life.

10 Reasons Why Kindergarten is too Late for Early Childhood Development eBook 210x300 Kindergarten is too late!Over the next few months we will be sharing with you 10 reasons why we believe kindergarten is too late to begin educating our children. Otherwise, please feel free to download our free eBook →
and share it with as many people as you like to help spread the word.

For more information about our cause, visit our KiTL campaign page on our website and find out how to become a really cool parent in 8 (some not so easy) steps.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to leave a comment in the section below. icon smile Kindergarten is too late!


You may know that we use a project approach curriculum at our child care centers, where the lesson themes come directly from the children’s interest and experiences. I am a HUGE fan of this curriculum because I have seen first hand how it works and how much children learn from it.

Having said that, some advocates of this curriculum would frown on this project because dinosaurs are not a “real life” experience for them. It is very important for me to showcase this project and everything they learned from it in order to show how relevant this topic actually is to them.

Anything that sparks a child’s interest can be made into a project whether they can personally experience it or not.

Our Bumble Bee class (our voluntary prekindergarten class) just wrapped up a huge month and a half long project on dinosaurs. We have tons of pictures and documentation on the different activities we did, including a dinosaur party that we had where we invited our friends and family to our school so we could showcase all of our hard work.

So let’s dive into the projects. First, we dug for fossils.

Our Fossil Dig

I ordered a excavation kit from oriental trading. I then buried the clay block in the sand on our playscape. The activity went as follows:

  • A paleontologist friend of mine gave me a map of the playscape.
  • It showed us a spot where we might be able to find dinosaur bones. So we followed the map and located the spot where we should dig.
  • We began our dig and found the clay block.
  • The children then took turns using a chisel or brush to delicately find the fossils. they even dressed for the part.
  • After all the bones were uncovered we put them together. It was a triceratops!!

After a child brought a stick over to me and said “I found a fossil” we decided to collect a bunch of “fossils” and recreate a T-Rex skeleton on clear contact paper.

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Finding helpful child care resources is essential if you are a teacher, parent, and/or caretaker of a child.

Whether you’re a new parent who is seeking advice on how to best educate your child or you’re a seasoned teacher who has decades of experience, it’s important to remain a student of life and always look for ways to improve your skills.

It’s especially important in the child care industry because the seeds you plant in a young child’s life could have a major impact on the person they become.

So in an effort to help you better educate the children under your supervision, CCSWFL organizes Circles of Care℠, a child care conference each year, typically in the months of March or April.

Here you’ll have access to child care workshops, training, presentations, and a multitude of exhibitors showing off their newest products. Below is a gallery of photos from our 18th annual conference in 2013.

If you’re interested in attending this year’s conference, it takes place April 12th, 2014 at Edison State College in Fort Myers and it’s full of helpful resources! Simply visit CCSWFL.org/events/circles-of-care-conference/ for all the information you need.


The conference begins at 7:30am for registration and soon after each of the exhibitors’ booths open at 7:45am in the Barbara B Mann Hall’s main lobby. You’ll get a chance to mingle with companies like:

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When we sit back and think of all of the people who have made a positive impact in the lives of our preschool students over the years, we have A LOT to be grateful for!

DSC04797 Boston Redsox Pitchers Play Tee Ball With Our Preschool Students

And now we can add 13 new people to that list!

Somewhere around 3pm yesterday 10 volunteers, 2 pitchers, and a mascot from the Boston Red Sox all showed up at one of our preschools in Fort Myers, FL to spend time with our students. How AWESOME is that?!

And no…they didn’t fly down from Boston just to be with us. Their spring training camp is here in Fort Myers, Florida and their games are played at Fenway South, also known as JetBlue Park, from late February through the month of March.

While the team isn’t busy doing what they do best, playing baseball, they frequently reach out to the community that supports them and fortunately our students were able to spend some quality time with them.

First, Wally the Green Monster (the Redsox mascot), made the rounds of each classroom and depending on the child, either gave them a huge smile from ear to ear OR terrified them. LOL icon smile Boston Redsox Pitchers Play Tee Ball With Our Preschool Students He certainly didn’t mean to scare some of them. Sometimes preschoolers just get a little scared of large, unfamiliar objects.

Wally gave out lots of hugs and even played bouncy-ball with one of our students. He was a HUGE crowd pleaser!

While Wally was busy taking photos and playing with the children inside, the volunteers were outside re-planting the butterfly garden. An old proverb says “Many hands make light work” and that’s exactly what happened because within 30 – 45 minutes:

  • Most of the dead leaves were raked up and bagged
  • Tree branches were pruned
  • Dead plants were replaced with new plants
  • Flowers were added to the garden to attract butterflies
  • New mulch was placed in the garden

Here are some before and after photos:

Once the butterfly garden was complete, then the fun started to happen!

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CAM00439 Lee County Sheriffs K 9 Unit Visits Messina Childrens Center

Just two days ago I shared with you how the Creative Curriculum inspires our students at Messina to learn about pets.

Our VPK class, the Bumblebees, have been learning about all sorts of different animals, both wild and domestic, and which animals can be domesticated.

Some domestic animals, like dogs, can even be used in the workplace.

They learned that dogs can be used by blind people to help them navigate. Dogs can also be used in law enforcement and today (just 2 hours ago)…

Deputy Dan from the K-9 Unit of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office brought his police dog Ruger to our school! Check out all of our pictures!

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How Creative Curriculum Inspires Children to Learn

Posted by Kimmie On February 12th

Wouldn’t it be great if your children actually enjoyed learning rather than it being a chore?

Child Tantrum Upset How Creative Curriculum Inspires Children to Learn

In the age of electronic entertainment (gaming systems, television, mobile apps, etc.) it’s so easy for parents to place children in front of an electronic babysitter.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think electronic babysitters are all bad, especially when children are being difficult at home. In that case, they can be a life-saver! icon smile How Creative Curriculum Inspires Children to Learn

But if you’ve ever found yourself placing your son or daughter in front of the TV because it’s easier than babysitting them yourself, that’s usually when the problem arises.

mesmerized child 213x300 How Creative Curriculum Inspires Children to LearnTell me, how easy is it to pry your child’s hands off his Xbox controller? How easy is it to turn off the iPad when your child is watching a program that they enjoy?

How easy is it to get your child to want to learn new skills when all they can think about is getting back on their PlayStation?

Well, although I don’t have all the answers, I can tell you what’s working well for us at our day care in Fort Myers.

To entice our students to learn, we don’t abide by the typical classroom instruction model where a teacher addresses the class as a whole.

Since preschool aged children have short attention spans, we as teachers, have to be much more creative in order to reach them with subject material that interests them and holds their attention.

That’s why I love Creative Curriculum

In a nutshell, Creative Curriculum is a child-centered approach which allows us to guide our students through in-depth studies and meaningful work based on your child’s interests and needs.

At the heart of children’s learning is active play. Children learn by first-hand observation, hands-on experiences, intentional teaching and personal reflection.

To help you gain some ideas on how you can engage your child at play and teach them something new in the process, we thought we’d share an activity that our students LOVED.

About a week ago our Bumblebee class transformed their classroom house corner into a pet shop to coincide with their current project of “PETS”.

Other than the obvious role playing and social interaction skills involved with these added materials and arrangements, the VPK class is exploring many other learning domains.

The kids LOVE animals, as most kids do but…

  • What is the difference between wild animals and domestic animals and what do those words mean?
  • How should we take care of a pet?
  • How can we be responsible with a pet?
  • What kinds of animals would make good pets and why?

These are some of the questions we are using in our project.

Along with investigating questions, we are practicing many other skills through this project.

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20131127 085355 Thankful Tree: A Great Tool for Character Development in Preschoolers

As part of our character development skill building, the Bumble Bee class from at one of our three preschools in Fort Myers made a thankful tree that had leaves of all the things we are thankful for.

  • We read and talked about what being thankful meant
  • We did skits with puppets and role playing with each other
  • We even invited all of our parents to come and have a friendly feast with us because we agreed that we are thankful to have people who love us and we love spending time with them.

We asked the parents to write what they are thankful  for too, so that they could put some thankful leaves on our tree!

Miss Kimmie and Mrs. Sabrina are thankful for our parent involvement and our awesome group of kids who are growing to have great character.

Here is what our students and parents had to say about being thankful:

Screen Shot 2013 11 27 at 4.13.57 PM Thankful Tree: A Great Tool for Character Development in Preschoolers

The Benefits of Gardening with Children

Posted by Kimmie On November 19th

Looking for a fun activity to bond with your children?

Then gather up your munchkins, put on some work gloves, and get ready to get dirty, because I’m going to teach you about the benefits of gardening with children.

Through the Love of Gardening

To help you understand how gardening will benefit your relationship with your children, first I want to tell you about a recent project we did at Messina Children’s Center.

Our center has 12 Garden beds that are offered to our students’ parents and our staff-members, for adoption.  Then, we invited our students’ parents to bring in fruit and vegetable seeds and plants to grow with their children.

The children and their parents will water, weed, and care for their plants. Then, just in time for Thanksgiving, they will harvest the crops to take home!

Not only does this project produce fruits and vegetables, it also helps our children practice basic learning skills.

Being one of six centers at Childcare Of Southwest Florida, Messina uses TSG (Teaching Strategies Gold) and the Creative Curriculum.  This is an assessment tool and curriculum that enables teachers to increase the effectiveness of their assessments while having more time to spend with children to get them to the next level of learning.

Using exploration and discovery as a way of learning, The Creative Curriculum for Preschool enables children to develop confidence, creativity, and lifelong critical thinking skills.

In fact, here are the TSG objectives that this project (gardening with children) practices:

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Children Giving Back to the Community

Posted by Kimmie On November 2nd

Looking for examples of children giving back to the community?

Our mission at Child Care of Southwest Florida is to strengthen and enhance the lives of children and their families. Most times we are looking for members of the community to volunteer their time at our six preschools.

But then there are times when we encourage our children to give back to the community that serves them.

Now you may be thinking: what could a small child possibly give? The answer is happiness! Little children have an incredible way of bringing smiles and joy into the hearts of ailing souls.

Nursing Homes: The Perfect Place for a Child to Give Back

During the fall festivities in late October, our voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) classes from Joseph Messina Children’s Center went to Shady Rest Care Pavilion, a nearby nursing home in Fort Myers, to sing songs to some friendly neighbors.

Our students were surprised with candy bags and invited to go trick or treating through the facility.  As the children walked a costume parade throughout the building, they asked questions and made comments on the things and people that they saw.

Our students learned that:

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Local Heroes Come to Support Our Preschool Students

Posted by Beth Lobdell On October 10th
Sheriff Mike Scott 300x283 Local Heroes Come to Support Our Preschool Students

Sheriff Mike Scott reads “Otis” to preschoolers in Lehigh Acres. Photo courtesy of Mel Toadvine at the Lehigh Acres Citizen

Wow what a busy couple of weeks we’ve had here at Child Care of Southwest Florida and there is so much news to share with you. By no means should this be considered an official press release however! LOL icon smile Local Heroes Come to Support Our Preschool Students I’ll leave that up to the pros.

←I’ll tell you a little about this photo of the sheriff. But first let me start by giving a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who attended the Celebrity Waiter Dinner & Auction this past Saturday night. What a large turn-out we had and we’re so grateful to our employees and organizers who made the event possible.

If you’re wondering why we hold this fundraiser, it’s because we realize that there are a lot of parents in Southwest Florida who don’t have the means to pay for their children to go to preschool.

This fundraiser helps to raise money for scholarships for these children from needy families. Local personalities get dressed up as their favorite celebrities and do all sorts of crazy antics in order to get tips from the guests they serve. Here are some of the celebrities who attended:

That’s just a sample of all the photos we took! We’ll feature a bunch more on our Facebook page. A HUGE THANKS also to all of the local businesses who donated their products and services to our silent auction.

As for the photo of the sheriff above, last Thursday, October 3rd was Read for the Record, a day of the year (organized by JumpStart) when millions of individuals came together to celebrate literacy and support efforts to promote early childhood education. On Oct. 3, 2013, millions of adults and children across the country read “Otis” by Loren Long.

In Southwest Florida, Sheriff Mike Scott stopped by a few of our schools including our preschool in Lehigh Acres to read “Otis” to our students.


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