Thursday, April 29, 2021

Meal time Favorites!

 Table time Thursday - what’s on your plate tonight?

I made Parmesan crusted chicken and roasted veggies for the fam jam tonight! 

I love it cause it’s so easy - just mix Parmesan cheese with homemade or store bought mayo and a bit of Epicure Herbs and Spices. Make a paste with it and spread over the meat. Bake 400F for 30 minutes along with your roasted side veggies choice! We had diced tri colour sweet peppers, sliced radishes and wee bit onion. 

Bon Appetite

Margaret 

Live, Laugh, Love

Be Totallyawake4/life

#foodporn #whatsfordinner #lowcarb #grainfree #glutenfree #keto #paleo #mealideas #recipes #autoimmunedisease #cleaneating 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

No one will 'fall behind' if we just revisit how we measure the finish line!

Health, academics, and balance – The Varsity

In a world wide pandemic I wish that every government wasn’t so focused on children and schools “falling behind” and instead focused on children, teachers and parents MAKING IT THROUGH so at the end of this they can return to normal with a healthy body, mind and soul and able to “continue on and slowly catch up” to where they ‘should’ be by graduation. 
 
Right now I worry so much about the role this past year is taking in mental health and how we’ve made that so much worse putting so much focus on what children are “loosing” because they cannot be in school, and how burdensome it is for parents to have to support remote learning and so forth! This is not conducive to having a strong mental health in order to actually learn and retain anything for academic success moving forward! The rise in anxiety is so high right now!


 Teen Mental Health Collaborative Joins to Serve Communities - Jewish  Healthcare Foundation News - JHF
I get academics and benchmarks are important but in the grand scheme of what life is like right now the added stress and anxiety trying to make everyone do stuff that’s not developmentally appropriate especially in the under 12 age group with the “online classroom” is just insane - asking parents and teachers and everyone to try to multi task so much and trying to figure out how to make children not meant to sit still in front of a screen for 180 minutes or up to 6 hours depending on their age and not just zone out or loose control of their emotions in the frustrating effort! 

Play Based learning
 
At 51 years of age I consider myself a life long learner - I love learning but barely remember what I learned in elementary school and what I needed to actually know academic wise I know I RELEARNED when it finally became relevant to me in my life because I had the building blocks for life long learning because of the teachers who took the time to make learning meaningful and not mundane! 
If the choice is between mental health and academic benchmarks mental health should ALWAYS come first and not sacrificed on the alter of “falling behind” - if it’s too hard take a break, get outside, cook or bake, curl up and read a book your child actually LIKES not one their forced to read cause curriculum says so - reading should be FUN not FORCED! Spend time doing hands on stuff like art , music or fun science experiments. Walk barefoot through the grass! Watch clouds go by and play the what do you see in them game!  

 Quick Thought: Play to Learn (Not Just Cute) | Learning quotes, Play quotes,  Preschool quotes
What I DO remember most about elementary school - the school trips to African lion Safari or the farm or the science centre, playing with friends at recess on playground and the made up games we created with things like a nylon and tennis ball or a skipping rope, the science fair, book fairs, the school plays and fall carnival fundraiser - basically the stuff where any learning was also HANDS ON and involved all my senses and where I made positive memories and so the learning was reenforced by the social emotional connections I made so that formed long term memories from them to recall and later build on! 
 
IMO right now we would all be better off if we removed the academic pressure and just focused on social emotional health and learning through hands on play activities. Turn OFF the screens! Provide children PLAY PROMPTS using materials found in any home regardless of socio economic privilege! Children won’t “fall behind” if we just take a year off and revisit the way we measure success in these formative years - they can easily catch up if they return to normal routine with their mental health and well being still in tact!
 
Margaret
Live, Laugh, Love
Be Totallyawake4-life 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Spring fun 🤩

 Having a discussion today with fellow educators on how to expand children’s interest and exploration of emerging sings of spring colour and their shadows - creating cool “sun-catchers” that they can actually PLAY with so that they can move the colour and source of light and shadows of different effects is awesome! 



Photo credit Sabina Sawula 


#earlycbildhoodeducation #earlyyears #earlylearning #learningthroughplay #playbasedlearning #spring #colours #sciencenaturediscovery #stemeducation 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Be Careful What you wish for ll

More discussions in an ECE group today around new role of the CECE in advocating for ECE and universal childcare and why do we have to pay to two different organizations to get both regulatory oversight and advocacy.

So my take is that when the CECE was being formed I swear I remember there being talk about amalgamating it with the already existing AECEO infrastructure ... however apparently the government rules for regulatory Colleges doesn’t allow for it under some sort of conflict of interest if memory serves. Regulatory colleges and unions/professional associations are required to be kept separate because those who have to critically review the profession conduct and discipline of its members misconduct should not also be the same ones who are advocating for their rights and better pay/working conditions. 

The Ontario Teachers College  doesn’t actively advocate for teachers either that’s their two unions doing that. Just as ours doesn’t do it it’s the AECEO our professional association or for those ECE who are actually unionized their unions job. 

In regulated professionals were members all work for separate employers they tend to have “professional associations” they join to form a collective voice because a collective union can only be formed by workers under single employer and small business that have less than a dozen employees total well often a union wouldn’t have much collective power like auto industry. In that industry all Ford workers regardless of different plants are employees of Ford Corporation and locally each individual plant OR like teachers in Ontario where they are all employees of the MOE and than locally individual school boards. They bargain collectively at BOTH those levels. 

We may be licensed under the MOE but we are NOT employed by them we are employed by individual companies- we can not all be unionized under the same union as a result. You can attempt to unionize your individual centre and pay a union the dues to try to advocate for you - but they likely won’t be able to have any better luck at changing the status quo at a government level needed to create ACTUAL change under our model of childcare than the AECEO or OCBCC has.

Teachers are also required to engage in mandatory PD - the difference is that because they are all employed by the same employer aka the government and provided employer offered PD that’s tracked and so forth they don’t have to do their own “proof” cause the teachers college trust schools boards to be offering PD and so forth.

CECE doesn’t have that same relationship with our employers unfortunately as centres are all individual operated/owned - so some childcare employers are awesome at supporting PD and others suck donkey balls and offer nothing  - so therefore to ensure that all CECE members are engaging in PD we get the standardized CPL and its 3 components  .... and it should be noted it was the LIBERAL GOVERNMENT that required that of the CECE under the Early Childhood Education Act 2007 the Liberals created as part of their FDK initiative ECE working in school boards needed to be regulated and  it is that Act that oversaw the creation of a College of ECE, brought the CECE into existence in first place and mana dated what the CPL for ECE had to contain. 

Making change in the funding model for licensed childcare at a government level is going to have to take a HUGE paradigm shift in how VOTERS see the role of childcare and value in it being offered by a third party. 

Right now Baby boomers still make up the majority of voters and they not only view childcare as a family responsibility they are long past NEEDING childcare so aren’t gonna vote to spend trillions on it when the services they  do need such as LTC and health care are so poorly funded they don’t want money taken away from those to be diverted to childcare.

There is also the challenge that the stats for those who choose “formal licensed childcare” VS those who choose “informal unregulated childcare” is consistently seeing licensed childcare in a MINORITY role that sits between 20-30% of us across ALL provinces except Quebec which sees 47% of 0-4 in their universal programs and 10% of the 4-12 age group. So only 20-30% of Provincial and Federal voters USE licensed childcare so why are the 70-80% of the others gonna vote for Universal Childcare system that they feel won’t benefit their needs - and this is why every politician whose attempted to run on a universal childcare platform lost cause enough voters aren’t wanting to invest their vote in that area - and highly doubt that unionizing centres under our current funding model is gonna change individual voters minds to get a party in power that could actually pull it off 🤷‍♀️ 

So the question is how do ECE change the minds of the 70-80% to a value childcare model they do not use in order to get them to vote to invest trillions of tax dollars into it?

To which ECE pointed out all the studies that show the benefits when children have access to a attentive/responsive primary caregiver in their early years.

While I  agree that studies show that young children who have access to an attentive/responsive  primary caregiver in low ratio settings during those early years show long term benefits - my concern is would that happen in a universal childcare program with the values our culture has? A culture that, based on historical attempts of our past governments, keeps raising ratios to create new spaces and balance budgets without having it invest more money in childcare that instead we would end up like Spain and have 1 adult trying to care for 9 infants under a year old and the ratios just going UP from there and IMO there’s no way that model produces the same shiny positive results for the children raised in them 😞 

Even in Quebec model here in Canada, with ratios of 1:5 for infants/toddlers under 17 months  higher than our current 1:3 and and their toddler ratio is 1:8 for 18 months and up and as a result the research based on the last 25 years from that model is not producing the positive results for social emotional development and mental health quite contrary to  the Nordic countries have where the focus was on forming a healthy parental/familial attachment between 0-3 and waiting until 3 to introduce universal 3rd party childcare. 

I am just NOT an advocate that a universal childcare for infants and toddlers is gonna result in positive outcomes for the children  - I would love to see a Nordic approach where the value of a parent/family  being the best option in the first 3 years and support a longer properly funded parental leave and expand more EarlyON programming to support all parents to be that BEST option while also offering early learning programming for the littles while parents are there providing the care would be much more manageable fiscally over the model of the Quebec one that our country would mostly copy. Quebec universal childcare is still NOT universal after quarter of a century and still sees educators low paid and in tiers of low pay with home based  providers despite being unionized being paid much lower and facing higher ratios than their centre counterparts.

I just feel ECE need to look long and hard at countries that provide universal care for infants and toddlers and what those programs ratios look like and look historically at how our government and the voting tax payer has reacted to childcare sector and ask if possible being paid a bit more will be worth it if that comes at the huge likelihood of the risk that you will also be asked to care for 2-3x the amount of children you currently do in order to fund it and is that outcome going to make our job better, more rewarding and easier? 

We need to look long and deep at institutional childcare and the whys behind the challenges we face in licensed childcare and to be mindful/careful what the true cost and risks might be in advocating for universal childcare 😞 

Look at how flawed our public education system is do we really trust our government to do better adding the 0-4 age group to that model? 

So sure teachers get paid better than we do, get prep time and benefits and a pension but they also face so many challenges with increasing class sizes, decreasing support for children of differing needs, as a result they are being asked to do so much more than just teach but to be therapists, nurses, family counsellors and so forth while also balancing all the teaching requirements that the job is so stressful many end up on sick leave due to mental stress AND if we look even closer at teachers work conditions and pay MANY new teachers to the field are not paid much more than ECE are working in FDK, they can work for a DECADE or longer before they are able to move out of “SUPPLY/LTO contract” teaching into having any actual job security of a full time permanent position and it can than take a decade or so more to move up to the top tier in teaching salaries that are always quoted for teachers. 

Call me skeptical but I just don’t have faith in our leaders or with our cultures value system  that a ‘universal childcare’ would be any sort of positive utopian thing when they cannot properly manage the social services we already provide - health care and public education are a mess and we cannot properly fund the current model of childcare without constantly seeing ratios being pushed up and threats that our operating grants will shrink or WEG might not be renewed 😞

 I find it very hard to trust any promises they might make to get elected will look anything like the reality of what it would become! FDK a prime example - promised Ontarian’s a “stemless day of education and care with a ratio of 1:10” and we got anything but that - it’s not seamless, it’s not low ratio and it still came with a budget to taxpayers that ended up being triple what they said it needed and it drove the cost of before and after school as well as childcare in general up - so now taxpayers are paying more TWICE - once via taxes for the 9-3 portion of the program and than again with before and after school care now costing as much as a full day of preschool use to preFDK 😞 

I prefer to advocate for CHOICE in childcare - fund parents directly let them choose it they want to use that money to remain home with their littles or outsource to another model so they can work! 

I think there’s no easy solution but some I would advice for more wholeheartedly are:

Since we already have a UCCB which they seemed to be voter supported because it provided “choice” for everyone - so if they built on that as a start and than passed Employment laws to extend how long a persons position could be saved - the UCCB approach would also allow for parents better flexibly to to “share” parental leave so each could work part time and use the UCCB (if properly increased) to augment the other household financial coverage needed. 

We also already have FDK publicly funded so we could look at growing that to serve children 3-6.

Therefore if families were financially supported to have a parent/family member home for the first 3 years or they could choose to use that to fund a 3rd party option and work if they wanted and than amended publicly funded FDK to cover 3-6. Formal school starts at six. 

We already have EarlyON programs build on those to support families who choose to remain home the first 3 years - adapt current childcare programs to house EarlyON programs instead perhaps with “relief childcare” for short periods while parents attend workshops/support groups/mental break but still on site if needed to help them manage at home better and do a way better job to promote attendance at them to get relief, resources and other things needed to ensure all children have an amazing first 3 years of life with short from trained RECE working in them. Amazed how many new parents have no clue those resources even exist 😞 

Another option is to look closer at the UBI concept where it’s just one income replacement programs that covers ALL the ways that someone might need to be out of the workforce temporarily or permanently we already have - stream lining to a UBI would greatly cut way down on the overall expense to taxpayers of funding multiple different organizations with redundant management and fancy buildings and so forth  and funnel that savings into increasing the support of those programs to actually BE an income replacement instead if a bandaid - so combine EI for job loss, maternity leave/parental leaves, short term sick leaves, Permanent Disability leave, Ontario Works, CPP and all those payment support systems into ONE organization that funds any persons who need to access it for the same “UBI” amount and support programs in place that they return to work as soon as possible based on each scenario they went on it. 

There are countries around the world that are getting it right - we need to look you those 💕 Our current childcare system is not a financially  sustainable option as it is and trying to put even more money into a broken system that’s got way too much infrastructure overhead that takes away from resources on the front line is just not the answer!  

My two cents today! 

Margaret 

Live, Laugh, Love

Be Totallyawake4-life

 https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/long-term-study-of-universal-preschool-in-quebec-yields-sobering-outcomes/2018/12

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Be careful what you wish for...

 Lots of big feelings going on in early childhood educator groups right now! Lots of talk about unions and walk outs and advocating for the poor treatment ECE face in the field! 

With the current model of childcare I just want to share that ECE need to be careful what they wish for!

The College of ECE is also a prime example of the advise “be careful what you wish for”! 

ECE had fought for decades to get one cause the field thought that is what we were missing on the path to being valued and respected like Teachers - Teachers have one so should we they argued. It will raise the bar and prevent unprofessional ECE from just moving centre to centre spreading their negativity and poor behaviour! We will finally be seen as professional. Yet the reality is that majority of public has no clue we even have a College more than a decade in and when it comes to regulating the industry if you look at the disciplinary records you have to basically REPEATEDLY abuse children to have your ability to practice completely removed - too many brought up for having slapped, dragged and sat on children to manage their behaviours and they get a tap on wrist of a suspension, a fine and behaviour and guidance training and back to the front line they go  because there are so FEW of us left they want to keep trying to raise the bar with people who shouldn’t really be working in the field at all but when other RECE keep seeing these people returned to the front line they just stop reporting because they don’t see the point cause it’s stressful to report a colleague and the drama that’s created in ones program 😞 Plus in my view many centres management still do their best to sweep problem staff under the rug because they don’t want to publicly be on record for having  hired people that turned out to do crap like that under their nose so they still quietly let those types go and move on to be someone else’s problem. So now we are all paying $160 for a College we feel failed in providing what we thought it would. 

Be careful what you wish for  is the same feeling I get in my gut when I see so many ECE advocating to get a Union in their centre or thinking they can just unionize the entire industry despite that not being how unions work - they can only unionize those under one employer so each individual centre would be a tiny little union of their 5-15 RECE depending on licensing capacity  - so they need to truly be careful what you wish for cause union dues are gonna be way more than the College fees they hate paying and the reality is that a union cannot get blood from a stone! 

Look at how poorly EA and ECE working in a unionized school board setting are treated - they are unionized and still paid barely a living wage, still not getting adequate prep time and most are constantly keep on contract vs getting full time permanent cause it saves boards money - been over 10 years of negotiations for RECE there and not much progress despite the huge dues they have to pay 😉

Fact is we are not poorly paid because we are like the auto industry where some CEO is off making millions off us and share holders need their piece of the pie too and while we do similar work the reality is we are not like teachers working in the public school system  where they have the collective pockets of tax payers to cover the rising cost of teachers wages and other perks they’ve fought decades for   .... the stone cold fact is that childcare is funded primarily on the backs of the families we serve and THAT is why we are low paid because families with young children are already stretched so thin with rising costs of living including that of childcare that a household income of $80,000 is now the cut off for being able to access fee subsidy towards childcare! More than double it was in the past decades cause I remember when it was $30,000 that was the cut off to access it. 

Go ahead and form a union at your centre but go into with your eyes open that until there is a HUGE change in the way that childcare is funded you could be spending hundreds in dues annually for no real gain OR you can find that your program administration decides that it’s just not a feasible option to remain open and find yourself closed .... look at how many unionized childcare positions have been lost over the past 30 years! When I was an ECE student EVERY college and university campus that offered early childhood studies had their own on site lab schools with unionized well paid educators as part of their staff - how many are left in Ontario? So many regions also had their own childcare programs they ran with unionized staff - how many are left in Ontario? When local regional governments decide that they cannot continue to run a region funded childcare program that had unionized staff so pays fair equitable wages and benefits  because it’s constantly in the red and having to take money from other places cause they can’t raise fees to clients any higher than they have without parents just saying “might as well stay home and provide care myself” than how are small individual childcares or even the chains that unionize going to be able to magically do better 😞 

Do they still require ECE students to design and build and formulate a realistic operating budget for opening a childcare in College - cause when you do that you quickly see there is no PROFIT in childcare programs - your revenue is capped by licensed capacity and the wages you can pay by the overhead required to provide the program including paying whomever “oversees” it be it a non profit director or an owner and wage that makes taking on that kind of responsibility and risk viable for them! Non profits do have an advantage to typically pay better because being a charitable organization they can often get reduction in rent, phone and other utilities as the service providers can claim that reduction as a charitable donation. But reality is that despite the demand for childcare very few people are willing to donate the time, energy and resources to open new childcare spaces because the fact is it’s TOO HARD and most people don’t want to “volunteer” the time it would take to fundraising and sit on committees for the non profit sector and for the private sector you can invest the same money in opening a Tim Hortons chain and it provides an actual return in investment and profit - which is why there is a Tim Hortons on every corner and not a childcare centre 😞 

Early years matter but is there just possibly a better system we could be advocating for?

Margaret 

Live, Laugh, Love

Be Totallyawake4-life

Gluten Free Pumpernickel Bread

 I make this for Paul cause he doesn’t need to be grain free just gluten free! 

Moms Gluten Free “Pumpernickel” Bread

1 cup each Brown Rice and Tapioca Flour

1 cup Chickpea Flour

½ cup each Buckwheat Flour and Carob Powder

¼ cup Flax Meal

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 teaspoon Xanthum Gum

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 Tablespoons Instant Milk Powder

1 ½ cups warm water

1/3 cup dark molasses

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Eggs, beaten


Bread-Maker:  If using this method, thoroughly mix all the wet ingredients and place in pan.  Whisk together all the dry ingredients except the yeast, and put into centre of liquid.  Make a dent in the top and add the yeast.  Bake on the instant setting for a large loaf.  Maybe it’s my bread-maker, but I find this method leaves the loaf slightly under-done.

Manual Method:  (My preference).  Heat oven to 150 degrees F.  Thoroughly whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the yeast, in a large bowl.  Thoroughly mix all the wet ingredients, then add to the dry ingredients in installments until evenly mixed.  Do not over mix. Turn into a lightly greased 9” round spring-form pan or large loaf pan.  Turn oven off and put pan in oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours to rise.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees then put pan back in to bake, about 1 hour or so.  Let cool completely before attempting to slice.


Bon Appetite 

Margaret

Live, Laugh, Love

Be Totallyawake4-life 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Oscar's Happy Day!

 Margaret here guest designing for the Scrapbook Nerds Online store - make sure to come and join us in their Facebook group for daily inspiration, weekly challenges and giveaways from the amazing owner Joy!

 

Today I am playing with the adorable Oscar from Bella Blvd! Seriously how stinking adorable is this little sticker bundle?

 Bella Blvd - Cooper - Bella-Pops - Oscar

 I used up all the pieces with this one and adding a little bling to Oscar because its 2021 and Oscar can identify however she'd like! I think she looks lovely with her bow and some added Rhinestone's coloured with my Stampin' Blends to match the bow!

 

This set paired perfectly with the Lawn Fawn - Lawn Cuts Happy Heart Day!

 Lawn Fawn Happy Heart Day Line Border Lawn Cuts Dies

 I used the 'negative' image from the die on a slip of scrap Bermuda Bay cardstock!

 

And look at how perfectly the heart from Oscar's sticker bundle fit perfectly inside the negative image left! Added some additional tinted rhinestones and whola the perfect card to congratulate a friend who just added a little puppy to her family!

 Happy Stampin'

Margaret
Live, Laugh, Love
Be Totallyawake4-life


*post contains affiliate links