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Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish



After 30+ years professionally working with children I have a lot of knowledge and ideas to share.  These blog posts are a way to go in depth into a subject and spotlight my thoughts. Even though I consider myself and expert in my field there are always chances that new information or a particular insight changes my thoughts so these blog posts are to be considered in that context in regards to publication date when reading.

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My Last 16 Months

Posted by tarastoyland on 11 February, 2022 at 0:35

It's so hard to believe that after 22 years I am looking at the end of my home daycare career soon.  Next school year will be my last one. I am excited about moving in 2 years and fixing up all sorts of house things and painting, and about the next chapter in my life but I am so sad that each time I use theme materials is my last time doing so.  I know in spring 2023 I will be crying often as I say goodbye to my daycare children, my loft, my stuff that I've lovingly collected for all these years.  I want to have a huge party with all my former daycare kids coming for a final goodbye picture.  Some I don't have contact with anymore and some probably wouldn't care to as it's been so long since they were my daycare kids. I'm not even sure I can list all the kids I have cared for but I remember the ones that were here for any amount of time. It's nice that lots of them are Facebook friends with me so I can see the children grow up. Because it is my last year and 2 of my daycare parents are going to be having babies I won't be enrolling new kids, which is nice in a way, I'll finish out the year with the ones I have now.   I am so honored that I got to spend countless hours with so many wonderfully smart, funny, creative young people.

Covid illness policy- a pile of complications

Posted by tarastoyland on 9 August, 2020 at 0:40

Letter to Parents from July 12, 2020 --- The illness policy has to be super strict this year. I don't have a choice. The rules I have to follow are to keep all kids and my family safe, and I'm sure they will be a hassle but it's a no win situation. I will be giving each family a Kinsa smart thermometer. It's an ear one. You download an app to your phone and the thermometer uses blue tooth to record the temperature in the app. You can do each person in the house and it will keep track of temps and time taken. Each day before you come in my house you have to send me that daily temp check for everyone in your family. The app lets you do this easily. My current understanding of the rules is that any temperature over 100.4 for anyone in the family will require you to stay home. Additionally any Covid symptom in your child also means you have to stay home as well. Which is basically all symptoms kids have. The rules state that you must be home for 72 hours after the symptoms are gone without medication. If you or your child has been directly exposed to a positive Covid person then you must stay home for 14 days. I don't know if a negative covid test result will allow me to take you back sooner. I am not happy about these rules but have no choice in them, there have been too many times a person has thought it was just allergies or just a cold and it turned out to be a major cluster of illness. And if I get Covid none of you will have daycare for who knows how long. As I said when this started I am in a high risk group for multiple factors. Because this will be potentially lots of lost days of care I want each of you to consider this in your school year plans. If the 14 day exclusion is required I will allow you to pay only 50% for those days. Normally you pay regardless of attendance for sick days of any kind, but again, the minimum you will be home for any illness is 3 days, it's unclear if you get a doctor note saying it was an ear infection if that means you can come back. I don't know what to do. I really just don't. I feel bad taking your money for not caring for your kid, but I also need the money to pay the mortgage and other normal expenses. I am willing to take suggestions on how to handle this and to work it out individually as long as we do so prior to the school year start date. At this time the policy will be that you pay regardless of attendance if you are missing less than 2 wks of care. This is just a pile of complications.


The rules state that any person over the age of 2 has to wear a mask "as tolerated". I have already stated that wearing a mask inside the house for anyone doesn't make sense. For the kids they will take them off when they eat or drink something, so minimum 3 times a day, and they will have them off for nap which is 2 hours in a closed room with no outside ventilation. That two hours would be more than enough for one kid to spread it to the rest. And as far as me, I spend 24 hours a day in this house, if I wear a mask for 8 of those hours there are still 16 hours worth of my germs floating in the air. So, I will have masks to wear, we will practice with them, but they will not be routinely worn.


Another rule is that parents can't enter the daycare, so we will be doing hand offs from the porch as much as possible. There are other new rules but I haven't even looked at all of them yet.


I have asked my license rep for clarifications on if anyone can go to preschool and then return to my house afterwards. My understanding is that is not allowed so I may not be transporting at all this fall, which would make things a tiny bit easier.


I would like to know your intentions for the upcoming school year. I understand things can change but if I can get a general idea of who is going to be here then I can make a budget at least. I wish the government would just allow us all to stay home until a vaccine is distributed because I am worried for our populace. But I need to know what your thoughts are in all of this. I am sure you can see my trepidation in this letter. I will not be enrolling new clients, and if you choose to not come back until a later date your spot here is still yours.

COVID stuff

Posted by tarastoyland on 7 August, 2020 at 0:40

Tara's Toyland Home Daycare COVID19 re-opening plan

*The daycare will re-open on August 20th. Maximum 8 children will be on site at any time.

*signs about handwashing, covid symptom list, and proper ways to prevent the spread of the virus will be displayed on the entry door, the bathroom and in the daycare by the calendar area

*All families, including provider's, will take daily temperatures of all members in the house prior to the start of each care day. Each family will get a Kinsa Smart Thermometer and record the temperatures in the app then share them with the provider before stepping on the front porch. They will also record if any covid symptoms are observed. If symptoms are observed or a family member temperature is more than 1.8 degrees over the person's normal they will follow “excluded from care” procedures. (Example, normal temperature is 98.6, 100.4 would be exclusion temperature. Normal temperature of 97.2, 99 would be exclusion temperature, normal 99, exclusion temperature is 100.8.)

*PPE will be supplied by the provider. Each child aged 2 and up will have a color coded mask that will stay at daycare. These masks will be worn as tolerable with the goal of the child being used to wearing them as a normal part of life. Masks will never be worn for sleeping. The provider and her family will also wear a mask when they are within 6 feet of any client. Face masks will be stored on a hook for each person, extras masks and gloves will be kept by the first aid kit and gloves will be replenished if there are less than 10 left. Reusable masks will be washed daily.

*Bleach water will be used to sanitize surfaces in the daycare. All frequently touched surfaces will be sanitized hourly.

*The daycare environment will be set up for maximum safety. Items that are high risk of harboring the virus will be removed. Napping spaces will be arranged for maximum space between children's faces with a barrier being used when there can not be at least 6 feet between cots. Air purifiers will be used in common rooms. Sheets will be washed daily. When possible windows will be open for air circulation and outside play will be utilized.

*Drop Off/Pick Up – Parents will text the provider the daily Kinsa report when they arrive at the daycare. Upon getting that text the parent will bring the child(ren) to the door, all people over the age of 2 will wear a mask at this time. Minimal contact will be done at this time, keeping as much physical distance of adults as possible. Upon entry to the daycare children will be helped with washing their hands before entering the daycare space. Belongings from home will be kept to a minimal and kept by the front door instead of the hooks in the daycare area.

At pick up time the parent will text provider that they are there and the child will have hands washed then be brought to the door and handed off to the parent with maximum physical distancing allowable. Daily updates will be shared from at least 6 feet apart, in open air whenever possible.

*Excluded from Care Procedures – If any person in the household displays any symptoms on the most recent CDC list of COVID19 synptoms they will not be allowed to enter the daycare. Will County Health Department will be contacted to clarify procedures as needed. Current recommendations from them are to “encourage them to see their medical provider for ANY symptoms whatsoever. If their medical provider does not think a COVID test is warranted, then as long as they have been fever-free for 72 hours and have that note from their doctor, it is up to the childcare provider whether to allow them back or not with mild symptoms and to use our best judgment.”


If a positive COVID test is confirmed by anyone connected to the daycare in any way that has been in contact of less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes in the previous 2 wks the Health Department will be contacted and procedures outlined by them will be followed exactly. All relevant individuals, including the daycare licensing representative, will be contacted immediately as advised by the Health Department either in person or phone call and via text or email. Currently procedures include “"If the child or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she is not to return to the child care facility until ALL three of the following are met:

Individual is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 72 hours.

Individual’s symptoms, including cough, have improved.

It has been at least 10 days since the onset of the individual’s illness." ((((so if they have covid then it's basically no symptoms PLUS ten days since the first symptom appeared))

************** "If the child or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19 and it is subsequently determined by a medical provider that the individual likely does not have a COVID-19 infection, the child or staff member can return to day care if the following is met:

No fever for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications (fever is temperature greater than 100.4F/37C)

Negative test for COVID-19 or;

A note from a medical provider documenting no clinical suspicion of COVID-19 infection" (((SO, 3 days of no fever plus a negative test or a note from doctor saying no suspicion of covid, so if they have symptoms it's 3 days of no symptoms, plus either a doctor note or negative covid test)))

***************** "The CDC recommends that any child or staff with close contact (within 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes) to a person suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19 be excluded from the day care for 14 days and monitored for symptoms. If symptoms develop, they are encouraged to be evaluated and tested for COVID-19."


Uncertainty - a virus confuses everything

Posted by tarastoyland on 5 August, 2020 at 0:20

I had such plans for this upcoming school year.  I knew all my kids were returning, two of them were in their last year before kindergarten and I was looking forward to all the fun that brings.  I would only have 2 really young ones that needed two naps a day, the rest were old enough to do lessons every day. I was planning out my themes in my mind, I knew I wanted to do super heroes and winter/ice, I was thinknig transportation maybe too.  Spring of 2020 I started the colors unit that I love so much.  We had done the color red, blue was our next week.  But we never got to blue. I haven't seen my kids since March 16 for most of them, one stayed the rest of that week but on March 20 the governor of IL shut down all daycares.

I've been doing a toy loaning program with the daycare kids.  Online teaching is not appropriate for my age group, and worksheets go against my core beliefs.  My beliefs are play is how you learn.  By the third week of sheltering at home I was BORED.  I thought of how bored the kids must be too so I came up with the idea of a bin of toys delivered to their houses.  They could play with them as they wanted, then return them when they are bored. One of my parents wanted to order Scholastic books because the library was closed.  That gave me the idea to enclose books too.  The first bin was right before Easter so I gave each kid an Easter Basket in the toy bin. Soon I switched to themed bins.  I have found this to be a great way to stay connected with my daycare families.  When shelter in place was eased I visited with some of them, outside, safely. I have also FaceTime'd with some, written messages back and forth and talked to them from 6 feet away as I delivered toys.  I do miss those hugs though.

Now school is starting. I was a ball of worry and stress for most of July.  The cases were going up, yet schools were saying they were going to do in person for at least some of the time.  I did not see that going well and did not like the risk it brought to my daycare since I have mostly teachers. Luckily all the area districts are switching to online models.

Which brings me to my main thoughts on this - the whole world is going through this.  EVERY kid in every country will be behind after this year.  And that's ok. It will not kill them, but the virus could kill them or someone they know. I'd take a year or two behind over having to deal with a death any day. Kids I thought were coming back this school year won't be now.  I am not going to enroll new families because I don't know how they are with following virus safety measures.  All my current families are being great about it. But with such a small group there won't be as much group learning.  So I will be concentrating on one on one skill development this year.  At least until spring.  I hope next summer I can do an intense skill development camp and get all the kids who are missing out on preschool this year up to par before next school year.  I miss my hugs and cuddles and really want to see all my littles soon!

How to Plan a Curriculum

Posted by tarastoyland on 17 December, 2019 at 18:50

I love planning curriculum.  I think in college I should have gone into that as a field of study but I had no idea it was even an option. I did an independent study on why thematic teaching is the best method and developed my own theme as a college Senior. Coming up with creative ways to make all the spokes of learning connect together makes me so excited.  Often I think of a theme I want to do and start collecting items to go with it so that when I have enough I can dive into a new set of ideas.  In home daycare I will have the same kids from birth till kindergarten and I don't like to repeat themes for those kids so that means that I usually do about 10 themes a year for 3 or 4 different years before I repeat.  Sometimes I combine themes like Pirates and Under the Sea went together and Outer Space can go with Star Wars and sometimes it's a small part of a bigger theme that I concentrate on like Pets instead of just Animals. And with some groups the ages just don't work out to do a lot with a theme, right now I have 3 very young kids in the group who don't take a morning nap anymore so actual teaching is haphazard and it's more one on one with the older three as they need it.

Because I love doing curriculum plans I often will do them for other people that ask. My curriculum uses stuff almost all of us already have in our daycares and take very little prep really.  I hear of people spending hours getting things ready or printing stuff out and it just perplexes me as I never considered those things as a need for preschoolers. I might print out a dot to dot or an emergent reader but that is about it. Art is what I prep the most for really and that is only to make sure I have figured out the way to keep mess to a minimum and clean up the easiest (so having soapy washclothes ready if we are doing feet painting type of thing.) I end up retyping the same thing over and over and figured I could just make a blog post instead.

Step 1 - Decide on a theme, there are literally thousands of options. Any object can become a theme, there was a podcast on a preschool that did a whole theme on balls that lasted many months and was quite amazing with the kids analyzing the materials that the balls were made of and doing comparisons. They also did one on boxes that was very involved.

Step 2 - List the subjects you want to teach.  There are a lot of different ways people approach teaching in their own minds.  If you have infants you may want to do Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell.  There's the traditional Math, Science, Social Awareness, Large Motor, Small Motor, Reading Readiness, Writing, Music, Art.  So here are some other options:**Illinois Early Learning Standards ** Benchmarks – Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Physical Development and Health, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, Social/Emotional Development **Early Childhood Centers** sensory table, art, songs/music, math, science, large motor, fine motor, hands on center, dramatic play center, block center, self help, getting along with others and self (social/emotional), books/language/literacy **Early Learning Accomplishments Profile (ELAP test)** Fine motor, Gross motor, Cognition, Language, Self-help, Social-emotional **Areas of learning ** Personal, social and emotional development; Communication, language and literacy; Mathematical development; Physical development; Creative development; Knowledge and understanding of the world ** Dispositions to Learning ** Self-regulation of attention and behavior; Effective social skills to develop a positive relationship with others; Positive attitude toward learning; Self-motivation for learning; Listening skills; Ability to set goals and develop and follow through on plans; Understanding, accepting, and following rules and routines; Finding more than one solution to a question.

Step 3 - Make a chart where you write the subjects down one side and days of week across top or a spider graph where you put the theme title/goal in the middle and spokes out to boxes for each subject.  Now it's time to fill in the boxes.

Step 4 - Look for things to teach, or come up with them on your own, that cover that theme and those things. Do not search for workbook type pages. Do not search for cookie cutter art projects. Search for open ended art things and toy/game related activities. Put those in the boxes for each subject. Some themes will be heavy on one subject more than another. That's ok, just do the next theme as one that is heavier on a different subject and by the end of the year it will even out. Pinterest is a treasure trove of neat ideas as long as you are thinking of hands on and not worksheets or heavy prep things. In these blogs I have lots of different themes as examples. If you aren't sure what preschoolers need to learn search for that.  There are lots of free trainings on that type of thing and it is literally a deep enough subject that you can spend decades learning it, but it is preschool, not rocket science, just break down any skill to the smallest bits.  Writing their name?  Well first they need to know what a line or circle is, then be able to draw those, then to recognize those as letters, than have the fine motor skills to combine them into something recognizable.  Adding and Subtracting?  Well first they need to learn what numbers are, what order they come in, what "2" looks like when you have different objects (not the written number but the quantity), how to count out objects saying one number per object, to understand that you take away and go down in numbers, or put in more you count up. It is lots of different steps for each thing but it's intuitive if you think about it.  

Step 5 - teach! I like to start each lesson with a book (or two or five) that is on a certain subject within the theme.  So if I want to work on numbers I would read books that have numbers in them.  Want to do a lesson on dogs, read books with dogs in them.  Just so the lesson relates to the books in some way.  Then do an activity from your chart.  You can do a few of them - you just read dog books, talk about the /d/ sound or how to sound out d-o-g, find the word dog in the book and keep track of how many times you see it, count out all the stuffed dogs you have, sort them by type, or color, or size, do a running game where you put a dachsund over here and another across the room in a pile and they have to run down and find the match - all that combined would take less than 20 minutes.  Then I like to finish off with an art project.  Read my blog on art for what to do with that.  With our dog example I may use plastic dogs to walk in paint and make tracks on paper.  I may use dog toys to paint with or paw print cookie cutters.  I may have them glue fur down onto a dog shape.  And there you are, a quick lesson that covers all you need, with supplies you probably already own, in a way that will make sense to the kids and they can tell their parent when they give them the dog art project that they counted dogs that day and that dog starts with the d sound and are brown or black or white.  It will all tie together in their mind and not just be random.


Jack Be Nimble

Posted by tarastoyland on 7 September, 2019 at 18:20

During our Nursery Rhyme unit we did the rhyme Jack be Nimble.  First we jumped over candle sticks changing the rhyme to match the name of the jumper.  Then we changed it from candle stick (which rhymes with quick) to different objects and came up with rhymes for those new things.  For instnace "Miss Nora be nimble, Miss Nora be fair, Miss Nora jump over the daycare chair"  This was SUPER tricky so we had to figure out our rhymes first.  Rhyming is a prereading skill and essential for success in finding word patterns.  Next we had a lesson on fire.  We talked about fire safety by doing science experiments with actual fire.  What does a fire need to burn?  How hot is a fire?  What puts out a fire? What burns in a fire? We explored all of these questions and then ended the lesson with roasting marshmallows over an open fire (the fire on the stove).  The children all concluded that fire shouldn't be played with as it can burn wood and paper and houses are made of wood and paper. 

Risk Taking

Posted by tarastoyland on 7 September, 2019 at 16:55

 Do you remember climbing a tree when you were younger? I used to climb to the top of the maple tree in our front yard, trying to go higher than the house, then I would sit up there and read my book for hours.  I loved being that high up, feeling the breeze and being alone.  I didn't even think of it as risky honestly, it was how I grew up and even though my brother had broken both his arms falling from a tree when I was a toddler, I still considered it a normal non-risky activity. Later when I was a grown up my husband and I loved going for hikes in the forest and always felt trees were just a part of our lives.  When we moved to this house one of the first things we did was plant trees.  When the trees and kids got big enough it was only natural to let them climb the trees.  It wasn't until the internet chat groups became a thing and someone was horrified that I let the kids climb the tree that I even thought of it as a risky activity.  Yes of course you had to learn how to do it and pay attention to safety rules but risky?  It made me think if I was putting the children at risk.  I always prided myself on having a safe environment. 

So, I evaluated the safety of tree climbing. I made sure the kids didn't do it until they themselves could pull their own body up into the tree, that showed they had the arm strength to climb a tree.  I made sure they understood to only step on branches that were alive and thicker than their wrist to eliminate the risk of a branch not holding their weight. I made sure they understood to keep 3 things touching the tree at a time (arm, leg, etc.). I made sure they understood how to get down on their own without help.  I didn't let them climb without spotting until I felt they were doing it properly.  I just naturally did those things.  It turns out I was do a risk value evaluation.  I could make it a tiny bit safer if I put rubber mulch under each climbing tree so if they did fall they would be cushioned but have decided that the possibility of risk is very small and not warranted to have the mulch. Climbing a tree gives the children so much enjoyment, confidence and confirmation of their own strength that I am not going to stop.  I went to a conference on nature play this summer and it turns out I'm doing the right thing!  The presenter had done a doctorate study on tree climbing and found the accident rate lower than a whole bunch of other things that people don't bat an eye at.

Like I said, I pride myself in having a safe environment.  But we do "risky" things. I teach the kids how to use sharp knives, we do science experiments with fire, we go on field trips and a whole bunch of other things that I have learned some people consider risky. I naturally teach them in a manner that is conveying to the children how to use those things safely.  Doing a science experiment with birthday candles on metal trays with a glass of water right there is less risky than blowing out a birthday candle on a cake.  I am controling the eliments of risk and making sure the kids understand why we are taking those precautions.  And studies prove that taking controlled risks gives the children a higher degree of self regulation, responsibility and body awareness.  It's nice to have science backing up my well, science experiment. 

HOW do you go about getting them to sleep or stay asleep?

Posted by tarastoyland on 3 September, 2019 at 13:10

Overtired Children - When a child is overtired they don't act sleepy, instead they get hyper. For a baby they will get VERY crabby and cry. Each child has a "window" of time when they will easily fall asleep. If you miss the signs and miss that window of time you are going to have a very difficult time getting the child to calm down. Often if a parent has a hard time getting a child to sleep the key is to make bedtime EARLIER so they don't miss that prime sleep window.

So, you know kids need sleep, and lots of it, but HOW do you go about getting them to sleep?

INFANTS - I believe in the Baby Whisperer's EASY method for a schedule, and the Happiest Baby on the Block 5 s's method. Those two combined will make cio not be a needed thing (at that age)

EASY - when the baby wakes up it Eats. After you feed it, then it has Activity - bouncy seat, tummy time, sitting up and playing with toys, swing, exersaucer, etc. When the baby gets fussy check the B's - boredom, butt or burp. If it's none of those then off to Sleep. Don't wait for the baby to do more than get the tiniest bit fussy, then see what is causing the fusses - if it's just that they needed their diaper change do that, but if it's not the activity is boring, the butt is dirty or they have to burp, then put them down. This may happen after as short as 45 minutes, don't freak, it really means they are tired.

Now, to get them to sleep use the 5 s's. Swaddle the baby, hold the baby on their side and sway as they suck on something (paci, your knuckle or their finger/thumb) and make a shush noise. This will calm your baby. When the baby is calm, but not asleep yet, keeping them swaddled lay them in the bed. I like to pat them instead of sway after a minute or two cause you can still pat after they are put down but you can't sway, so pat the baby and continue patting gradually decreasing it as you put them in the bed. Also continue the shushing as you put them down, again gradually getting quieter.

If you do these two you will find a well rested, easily managed baby in no time. If a baby wakes before 1 1/2 hours then wait ten minutes before going in, most babies settle in that time period and go right back to sleep on their own.

Older Children - unfortunately if you didn't do the above before about 9 months old you may be in for a harder job. First you have to have the right environment - a DARK room, music on continuous play, sometimes a fan is needed in addition to the music, no distractions, naps not being optional, and a consistent schedule. To create a dark room I put the scratchy part of velcro on the window frame then I take black felt and have it cut so it is 12 inches wider and taller then the window opening. Double the felt up so even on the sunniest day the room is dark. (The reason for this is because our body needs darkness in order to reach deep sleep.) Other things to do -- dim electronics (I cut pieces of window cling car shades and put it over the display), remove TVs from bedrooms (A report from July 2011 states that preschoolers who watch TV in their room took a longer time falling asleep and woke up more drowsy in the morning. Additionally, children who spent only 30 minutes of screen time viewing before bed were 28% more likely to have sleep difficulties compared to 19% who had no screen time), and most of all, set an early bedtime. Most children have a built in alarm clock so I believe a 7 pm bedtime is needed to make sure they get enough sleep. This makes sure you don't miss the window of sleep and that the child will get the 12 hours a night they need.

Some children are particularly difficult and cry it out may be needed. Other children may fight staying in their bed. For these children you can do a few things. You can do the Super Nanny method where you keep putting kids back to bed immediately when they get out without any interaction or emotion and slowly moving farther and farther away from the bed. Another method you can use is removing all the stuff from the room except the bed. This means no toys, no books and no lights. You may have to even turn the knob around after a bit. (Don't freak out about this knob turning around thing - but think about this - if you are asleep do you want your child to be able to have free reign of the house? If there is a fire don't you want your child to be IN their room where you can get them instead of trying to escape? If they can reach the knob and lock it, wouldn't it be better for them not to lock themselves in the room so you can't reach them?). If you have been rocking or laying down next to the child you can do a slow transition - so hold her but don't rock tonight, then after a few nights of that, hold her in her bed, then move farther away each night until you are no longer the thing needed to put her to sleep.

If all that still fails, try eliminating milk from their diet. There was a study done in 2001 that showed that the majority of preschool sleep problems were a hidden milk allergy. For my experience with this, read my story below.


I have had some failure in the sleep department as a mom. I thought that it was SO easy. After all when I had worked in daycare centers I just patted backs, kids slept and nap time lasted 2 hours every single day. When I babysat I put the kids in their beds after reading them a story, and told them to sleep and they did. Maybe once or twice I had to lie next to a kid for a few minutes, or pat a back, but overall - super easy.

Then I had Tara. She was sick from 2 weeks old until 10 months old. Almost the whole time. Hard to get a kid to sleep through the night when they are coughing from RSV. Then she was failure to gain weight. She literally lost weight if she went 8 hours without drinking/eating. So we had doctor's orders to feed her if she woke up. By the time she was two I was ready to force the issue, her weight had steadied and I was ready. But the habit was there. She went to sleep great but would wake 2 to 20 times a night. Most nights much closer to 20. Right before she turned 3 we sold out townhouse but our house in Plainfield wasn't built yet so we lived like nomads for three months. Hard to ask her to sleep through the night when we were never in the same house for more then a few weeks. Then Elise was born..

See how the years of bad sleep happen? It snowballs, and becomes habit. By the time she was 3 1/2 I was at my wit's end. I could not survive much longer with two kids not sleeping through the night. So, I started researching sleep. The solution for Elise was solving her colic with a chiropractor visit and two nights of sleeping in the farthest corner of the house from her so I didn't hear her crying. For Tara it ended up that she had a hidden milk allergy. There had been a study done in 2001 that showed that the majority of preschool sleep problems are really hidden milk allergies. I took milk out of her diet two weeks before she turned 4. By the end of the first week she started sleeping through the night. Six solid nights of 13 hour sleeps had me wondering if it were just a fluke. So I overloaded her with milk products that sixth day - cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream was her diet. She was up six times that night. Took all the milk things away again and we had a great night time sleeper. We found that two glasses of milk or milk after noon caused night time waking and we finally had solid nights of sleep for everyone in the house.

So, the moral of this story is that sleep training is hard. Some things I learned over the years by being a parent or daycare provider and some I learned with my research when I had problems with my own children.

Recommended Sleep Times

Posted by tarastoyland on 31 August, 2019 at 13:00

Recommended sleep times:

So what is the right amount of sleep? Fifteen years ago the sleep charts were what I believe to be correct. But somewhere in the last 2 decades the charts have been modified. Here is the sleep chart *I* believe in (the one that was around many years ago).

* Newborn to 4 months old - 19 to 22 hours in a 24 hour period

* 4 months old to 12 months old - 12 hours at night, (may have a feeding after the first few hours when Mommy is ready to go to bed for the night), two to three naps of 2 to 3 hours each

* 12 months old to 2 years old - 12 hours at night, two naps of 2 hours each (eliminating the morning nap gradually but if behaviors gets bad you may have to add it back).

* 2 years old to 5 years old - 12 hours at night, 2 to 3 hour nap

* 6 years old to 10 years old - 11 to 13 hours a night

* 10 years to adult - 8 to 10 hours a night

Using Memory Game to scaffold learning

Posted by tarastoyland on 22 August, 2019 at 15:15

This past spring I had a set of 4 girls that were going off to kindergarten in the next school year.  They did their kindergarten screening test and one parent said that their daughter knew the letter sounds but not the names.  So when she was shown an S she made the s sound instead of saying it was an S.  Obviously she knew the letter by sight and the sound it made but she needed to know the name too.

It just so happened that this girl really loved playing Memory.  But she wanted nothing to do with learning her letter names.  So, I made a memory game that was matching upper case to lower case letters.  Worked like a charm! By the end of that week she knew all her letter names, and so did the newly turned 3 year old and the not yet 3 year old.  Since all the kids caught on so quick I added to the game, I put pictures in the mix so they could match apple to apple, or apple to A or apple to a or A to a.  This twist kept the kids interested.  I searched GoodWill for enough versions of the game so that every child had a copy of ABC Memory to have at home.

Now two of the girls really were way past just letter sounds, they were ready to be blending.  So I made those two girls a set of phonetic word cards and pictures.  There was pen and hen, pig and peg and leg - all were very similar and tricky but they also were experts in no time.  It was really great to see the fun the kdis had with this.  BUT I must admit by the 50th game of Memory in a week, I was kinda over the whole thing!  

A Sick Policy that makes sense

Posted by tarastoyland on 7 July, 2016 at 20:00

I let sick kids come to daycare. Fever? Just tell me when you dosed them up with and what you gave them. Rash? No problem. Pink Eye? Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease? Bring them. I do not care. The only thing I exclude for is vomiting and diarrhea. For those I am super strict because a child with those needs extra attention, I don't want to have to clean it up and they spread very quickly so sending a child home can keep others from getting it.  (I also spray bleach water on every surface in the house after a case of vomiting/diarrhea)  

I know this sick policy isn't for every parent. One time I was interviewing and it was going great until I got to explaining this and the parent stopped the interview, said that was a deal breaker and left. Like in half a minute, she was gone. I get it. Especially as a new parent, you feel like you want a "sterile" enviornment.

I am sure she was reassured by the next place she interviewed that they were strict on their sickness policy.  And they may have tried to be, but most daycare sick policies don't make much sense in reality, or aren't followed by the parents.  My classic example happened at a daycare center I worked at when I was right out of college.  I was in the 4 year old room and after lunch a boy asked me if it was noon.  I said it was almost and he pulled out a little purple child's chewable tylenol and said, "Mommy said to chew this at noon."  I took the pill from him and got the thermometer - he had a temp over 103 degrees!  The parents had done the "dope and drop" as we call it in the business.  They have an important meeting and can't stay home so they give Johnny a dose of motrin right before drop off, that gives them about 5 1/2 hours before it wears off, so that gets them to lunch time, if the teacher doesn't notice before the child goes down for nap then the parent gets another 2 hours of work in before they are called.  This gets them to at least 2:30 pm, almost a whole work day!  Meanwhile that child has been infecting everyone, been miserable and probably been reprimanded for various things that they did since they weren't feeling very good.  The parent is called, they keep the kid home one more day and then 2 days later half the class is sick with the same thing.

Another sick policy is excluding for rashes.  Before about 2000 the chicken pox vaccine was not in use so that was the most common rash.  And you had to keep the child home for up to 2 weeks while the sores healed and scabbed over.  The thing is that child was contagious for TEN DAYS BEFORE a single spot showed up.  I learned this when my first daycare girl had about 8 spots in her diaper region.  She was almost 2 years old as was my daughter.  Both of them had their first Chicken Pox shot 5 months earlier, but these sure looked like chicken pox.  I told her parents to give her a warm bath and if more popped up then we would know it was chicken pox.  Nothing more showed up, so we forgot about it for the most part.  Until exactly 10 days later when my daughter woke up from her afternoon nap with the same types of spots.  She had spent the morning playing in the pool with the other daycare kids, so they were all very exposed at that point.  More spots popped out as the hours passed.  She eventually ended up with about 75 spots in all.  Since everyone was exposed  by both the daycare girl and now my child there was no reason to keep them away.  No one else got them.   And if they had I would have let them come.

This is when it hit me that my home daycare sick policy would be different than most.

You would think that I would have lots of sick kids all the time but in reality my daycare seems to have less sickness than others.  And amazingly usually things don't spread.  There was ONE time in the last 16 years that pink eye spread.  And that time no one would have excluded the child who was the first case.  He looked like he had a bad allergy day, his eyes were puffy and irritated looking but not the whites of them, more of the outside facial part like his eyelids and the bags under his eyes.  That night, it was a Friday, his mom was feeding him and his brother dinner and she went to refill his milk cup.  When she came back both boys had red, goopy, extreme pink, eyes.  It was that fast.  By Saturday afternoon all 6 daycare boys had it!  Even if I had been strict it wouldn't have mattered.

That is what I have found to be true with most things.  Either it doesn't spread or it spreads in a way that it is obvious exclusion would not have mattered.

So, my parents bring sick kids.  And the best part is I know about it.  I can watch for an extra crabby attitude and know it's illness related so I react in kind.  I can keep the sick child away from babies.  We know to hand sanitize more often.  I know what to watch for in the rest of the group and I can tailor my day to accomidate the health needs of the group.  Parents don't need to miss work for a fever.  They don't lie to me, there is no need to hide a fever after all.  No reason to "dope and drop".  No trying to play doctor and say the fever is from "teething" or that the rash is "just mosquito bites" (in January, yep, I heard that when I worked in centers).  And if other kids get it?  Well, that's ok too, because they can come with it too.  

For Diarhea they have to stay home until they are 24 hours diarrhea free AND have had one solid bowel movement. For vomiting they need to be 24 hours vomit free AND hold down TWO (2) meals before they can return. I also do reserve the right to exclude for any thing I am deem they need to stay home for. In the past this has been a child doubled over in pain because of constipation, a child who's breathing was just really off and ragged, and a few other similar things.

Art - process or product or both?

Posted by tarastoyland on 1 August, 2015 at 23:40

I love art.  I actually was an art teacher at a school for two years.  I have a minor in art and an art education endorsement.   I love to do art, I love to look at (most) art, I love how there are great stories behind famous art, I love to do artsy things.  

I also firmly believe that art can be used to teach almost every concept there is in early childhood education.  It can tie the curriculum together, it can make all the parts of a lesson become solidly formed in the child's mind.

In the early childhood field there is a debate on what is the way to teach art.  Or if it even should be "taught".  There are three camps usually in this discussion:

1. Art is when things look exactly like the teacher wants them to look.  The goal is to have the children learn how to follow directions and to make parents happy that their child is creating things and that the teacher is 'teaching".  The teacher cuts out all the needed pieces and shoes the children how to put those pieces down to create the desired end result.   Every art project looks the same when it is completed, just like the teachers. I personally call these "cookie cutter art" because they all look the same like cookies come off an assembly line all the same.  Personally there is very little children get out of this type of art.  There is a small place for this in the middle elementary grade levels where you are testing reading comprehension or listening skills but other then that they are nothing but time wasters.  I do not call these art.  They are crafts.  Crafts are where every project looks the same, art is unique and different.  The first creation is art, the copies are crafts.  This has no place in early childhood education in my opinion.  Occassionally I will be given a kit to make foam something or others and will help the children do it.  I tell the parents this is not art, this is my doing something and giving it to the children.  Because the children can not do it themselves usually.  I once had a boy who went to the public preschool for special education classes come home with this type of "art" - all nice glued perfectly when the child couldn't even hold a crayon - obviously there was NO learning going on, and he had nothing to do with the project at all.  It was purely a parent pleaser, and personally if I were the parent I would be the opposite of pleased.

2. Process art - This description is not mine - 

As you can see this is very free form.  Children are given supplies, they create.  I do let children use tape, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, etc. to do whatever they please during free play time.  Process art is all about letting the children discover what the materials can do and not interfering in any way, it is  art where the making of it is more important then the end product - the exploration, the freedom is what is essential.

3. Process art with a Product end -  There is a happy medium, it's not a hard thing to integrate -the children create unique things where they also learn skills and apply other subject area knowledge into their projects and have projects where the parents can recognize what is being taught.  This is the type of art I believe is best to do with preschoolers.  It allows for children to be creative, to do individual unique projects yet have something to take home that is worthy of being put on the fridge.  Pick a theme, any one, now pick something that has to do with that theme (fairy tales - sticks/straw/bricks, bean stalks/beans, crowns/jewels/swords) now pick an art material - paint, crayons, markers, glue/tape/staples, playdough - combine the two things in some manner, or just have them use any art material and then cut the end result into a theme based shape. Process art CAN be representative and still accomplish the goals of art. I was trained as an art teacher, there are reasons to do things that TEACH ART CONCEPTS and still are process art, you can have the end result match your theme, you can TEACH and do process art.   To teach them HOW to do a thing is just as important, no, MORE important then letting them just do whatever... in order to know how to go further with an art concept you need to be shown HOW to use that material. I teach when I do process art and it is STILL process art.  I also apply the lesson of the day to the art project.  When we learn about planets we may learn how to do balls out of playdough to be planets, and snakes out of playdough to be the rings on those planets.  When learning about flower parts we may use an actual flower as our paint brush.  Applying the theme into an art project allows all the subject areas to tie together.

How it works - In order to show how I take a lesson and make it into an art lesson I will show you projects done by the daycare children and I will describe how the process was done, what skills were taught and what lesson was reinforced. 

we were learning about outer space, we talked about how stars aren't really this shape but rather spheres like our sun.  That they were hot balls of gas, and since they were so far away we saw them as just points of light.  We sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, counted out stars and talked about how planets are spheres as well.  Then the children got to use small litle nails to push into the hole of the buttons and decorate the star or planet however they decided.  This worked on fine motor skills and while they were working we talked about the sizes of buttons they were using, the colors and when they were all done we counted how many buttons they had used.  Each child had a unique creation as you can see. 

This is crayon melting art. Each child picked out which crayons they wanted and which order to put them in.  After they had put them down in the order they wanted I hot glued them to the canvas.  then we used a hair dryer to melt the crayons.  While they were melting we talked about how the wax got hot and became a liquid.  When it got cold it became a solid again.  This was the xmas present for the parents.

The children painted paper plates that I had cut to be turkey shapes however they wanted to.  After they were done we added google eyes, wattles and beaks.  This day we had read turkey books, looked at pictures of real wild turkeys and learned some other facts about turkeys.

another turkey project we did that day - they painted a paper towel tube, I later cut it to look like a turkey.

we had been studying trees, to make these the children painted their arm and hand then put them onto the paper to be the trunk and branches.  Then they used different colored glues to glue down buttons.

We did these during our Halloween party, this was the first project we did with the nails and buttons and it is one they kept asking to do again which is why we did the stars and planets one.

We were talking about Halloween and how we go door to door saying trick or treat.  The kids were playing pretend trick or treating.  So I came up with this project - we talked about the shapes you see on houses - then I cut out those shapes and they created houses.  The love doing stickers too so I let them go wild with stickers too.   This was a group of 4 yr olds so I also was talking to them about realism - people have to walk on the ground, pumpkins don't just float in the air, bats and birds do go in the air.

We learned about plants, parts of a plant, read plant books, talked about seeds and leaves.  Then the children collected plants in the yard and we came inside and used them to paint with.  The next picture is using a huge leaf they found, I had them paint the leaf then we pressed a piece of paper onto the painted leaf.

I'll add more blog posts later featuring the art work the children create.  I try to do at least one project per day.

Circus Theme

Posted by tarastoyland on 9 June, 2015 at 15:45



*We started today by watching a Kid's Songs video about the circus. While we watched we listed what we saw, heard and what we would have smelled, touched and tasted.


We also learned that unicycle means one wheeled because uni means one. We made our own unicyclists.


Then we popped popcorn and talked about why it popped (it has a tiny drop of water in it and the heat made the water expand then burst). We sand a fun popcorn song that had us jumping and exploding. Lastly, we did an experiment to see if you could add a cup of popcorn to a full cup of milk or water and if bread worked the same way. This was to teach us about how there is space between the molecules of water, that popcorn dissolves in liquid and that when you combine two substances the resulting volume is not the same as both original volumes combined. First we predicted what would happen and despite all the online things saying that the milk wouldn't overflow, it did. Then we tried it in water and we fit the whole cup plus a handful before it started overflowing. Last we did it with milk and bread and that one overflowed much sooner then the popcorn and milk one did. The pictures of this are all below.

*today we were lions jumping through rings of fire, strongmen picking up heavy weights and tightrope walkers high up above the crowd!



*besides reading the cool circus book with pop up pages,  we talked about things you find in a circus, we made unicycle riders (and talked about uni means one, cycle is wheel, and then we played a popcorn popping game using pom poms to be the popcorn and the popcorn bucket to be the catching apparatus

*a parachute looks like a circus tent, so we played parachute play activities, we also made acrobats that tumbled down a ramp (reinforcing our ramp skills)

Here are the popcorn science pictures, I didn't take pictures of the popping of the popcorn


Posted by tarastoyland on 7 June, 2015 at 15:15

We just finished up our Rainforest theme.  I had been wanting to do this theme for a super long time but never had a time when it seemed right.  I had a really good time with it. I liked how I was able to combine  reptiles, bugs, plants, animals, and so much more all in one unit.  Those are usually my spring themes separately so it ws neat to combine them.  

Here are my daily updates I posted for the parents during the unit:


Today we learned that the rain forest has four layers. We concentrated on the bottom most layer - the underlayer. This is the ground layer, it's dark, there are lots of leaves and it's wet and there are lots of snakes and bugs. We did snake painting then added a caterpillar, butterflies and other bugs. We read a LOT of books about bugs and snakes: That Bug, Hello Bugs, Bugs!, Spiders are Special, The Spider and the Beehive, Spiders Spin ,Insects Number Find, Ten Busy Buzzy Bugs, and Big Bug Little Bug.  Plus Snakes Long, Longer, Longest and talked about those terms using plastic, stuffed and wood snakes we have out for play time.  We sorted and identified plastic bugs. Whew! Busy day as usual. We will do a different layer of the rainforest each day and create a complete forest by the end of the unit.


*we read a lot more rain forest books and discussed the layers of the rain forest some more, the kids were very excited to make the creatures you find in a rain forest and we added them to our diorama we are making



The kids went to the jungle/rain forest today. They saw snakes, bugs, monkeys, tigers and lots of alligators. They built a campfire also . Oh, this was all in the front yard by the way,



we were playing outside and it started to rain - the kids were thrilled when I pulled out the rain ponchos and let them keep playing - especially because they were a zebra poncho, a tiger poncho and a giraffe poncho! Went perfect with our jungle theme



*today we read Chameleon's Colors then watched videos of real chameleons... one video we found out was a fake one though (the sunglasses one)


We made chameleon's, talked again about the layers of the rainforest, finished our diorama (the kids cut out 4 leaves together and were amazed that cutting ONE time made 4 things, miracles of folding paper, lol),

Toilet Learning

Posted by tarastoyland on 22 May, 2015 at 14:00

My Philosophy - Potty training


     I fully believe in early training.  Since I do home daycare I have trained LOTS of kids, more then the Duggars,  so I have developed some opinions on the matter.  I try to start as soon as the child is able to sit  solidly.   At first I just have them sit often at set times, like when they wake, before or after we go outside,  after lunch, after nap.  The parent can sit them upon waking in the morning, before dinner an before bed.  Since I often run into people saying you have to wait till the child is ready I have researched this. I have found that lots of people ignore signs of readiness that happen between 14 and 18 months old thinking no child could possibly be ready that young. So the window is missed and the child gets in the habit of using their diaper and being " lazy".  Signs of readiness are not asking to go with words, a non verbal child can train successfully, but rather indication of a need and desire to sit on the potty.  This may include pulling at diaper area, leading you to the bathroom, taking off diaper, or visibly showing you they are uncomfortable after voiding.  

     In potty training you must remember that sleep dryness is different then awake dryness. There is a chemical that makes your body not pee or poop while you are sleeping. Some children do not get this chemical in their body until they are as old as 8 years old. So do not push sleeping dryness or expect it. Use a pull up/diaper until they are dry for a while.

      I did some research and found that "stool toileting refusal" has been linked to late training (Taubman 1997). "Of the 19 participating children who trained by 24 months, none refused to poop in the toilet. Only 4 of the 90 kids who finished training between 24 and 30 months were “refusers.” The vast majority of refusers (101) came from the remaining 373 kids who finished training after 30 months." Some children have more solid bowel movements then others that may require avoiding binding foods (breads, cheeses, bananas, rice, apples in any form) in order to prevent a problem arising. To read more about studies on this subject see future blog posts!

Potty Training Articles (NOT mine)

Posted by tarastoyland on 20 May, 2015 at 14:05

Early Potty Training Key to Success by, John K. Rosemond

What's it going to take for American parents to realize that just as it's far easier to house train a 4-month-old puppy than a one-year-old dog, it's far easier to toilet train a 20-month-old child than a 3-year-old? Fifty-four years ago, according to a study conducted at the time by Harvard University, nearly 90 percent of America's children had been successfully trained before they reached their second birthday. Today, courtesy of several decades of toilet-babble issuing primarily from pediatrician/author T. Berry Brazelton, parents wrongly think training a child under age two is psychologically harmful, if not impossible. So, they wait. And they wait. And they wait. They're waiting, they tell me, for their children to show some of Brazelton's "readiness signs," which he snatched out of the thinnest of air to make it appear that his "child-centered" (a euphemism for upside-down) recommendations were based on solid science. As a consequence of this waiting for the Godot of potties, children become ever more accustomed to and oblivious of letting go in their diapers.   When their parents finally make the attempt to entice them to use the potty, all manner of resistance develops, including a problem that was rare fifty-plus years ago but is ubiquitous today: refusing to use the toilet for bowel movements.Several weeks ago, a mother asked me for advice concerning her 4-year-old who was "absolutely refusing to poop in the potty." The child's resistance had been ongoing for some time and was associated with late training. Mom was obviously ready to pack it in and run away from home, so I went into my top-secret phone booth, changed into my Parentman costume, and gave Mom a set of instructions that have proved helpful to lots of other parents in the same fix:

Stop talking to your son about using the potty. Don't even ask "Do you want to try and poop in the potty today?" or other equally counterproductive questions. Get rid of the diapers, pull-ups, and all associated things and resolve to never use them again. Every day, right after your son eats a high fiber breakfast, gate him in the bathroom, naked from the waist down, and tell him his doctor said he has to stay there until he poops in the potty. Don't stay in the bathroom with him. Don't offer incentives, or even encouragements. After putting him in the bathroom, make yourself scarce. Simply tell your son to call you when he poops or if he needs help. Respond "coolly" to success, as if it's no big deal. Say no more than "That's good, you can come out now." Do not give a reward or even lots of praise. Gate him in the bathroom every day until he's having regular bowel movements in the potty. A week later, Mom wrote, "We have success." When she introduced the plan, the little guy cried and generally acted like he was being traumatized, but Mom stayed the course. "You will poop in the potty," she told him, and he did; and he has been ever since.  lesson: The mistake of late training is correctable, and my experience is that, as in this case, the correction usually takes less than a couple of weeks. But the wear and tear in the meantime!  Copyright 2009, John K. Rosemond


*About the Author: Rosemond has written nine best-selling parenting books and is one of America's busiest and most popular speakers, known for his sound advice, humor and easy, relaxed, engaging style. In the past few years, John has appeared on numerous national television programs including 20/20, Good Morning America, The View, Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, Public Eye, The Today Show, CNN, and CBS Later Today. 

Click here to visit Rosemond's Web site,



Toilet Training Success Stories by, John K. Rosemond

      I've said many, many times that letting a child older than 30 months soil and wet herself several times a day is an insult to the child's intelligence. Actually, I absolutely know, and historical evidence confirms, that it is easier to train a child at 20 months than it is to wait much past the child's second birthday.  (Ask yourself: Is it easier to house-train a 6-month-old puppy or a one-year-old dog?) As the age at which toilet-training begins has increased (by nearly a year in the last 50 years), so have toilet-training problems. In the mid-1950s, researchers at Harvard determined that nearly 90 percent of 24-month-olds in the USA had been successfully trained. That so many of today's 3-year-olds are still in diapers and "pull-ups" can only mean that today's kids aren't half as smart as kids were in my generation (and our parents never claimed we were gifted!). I am cheered, however, to learn that there are still intelligent children in the world, as evidenced by the following story: The mother of a 27-month-old reads a magazine article about "readiness signs" and noting that her son displays none of them, decides to toilet train him. Yes, you read that right. She correctly ascertained that the writer of said article was simply engaging in "parenting correctness." Mom promptly announced to her son that they had no more diapers; therefore, he would have to use a potty from then on. They went out together and bought a potty and big-boy nderwear. She writes, "I didn't hover, nor did I ask or remind him to use the potty. I was training him, not me. I was prepared for plenty of accidents, and figured each one would be a lesson in cause and effect. When he wet, I said something like 'Gosh! That looks uncomfortable. Let's get you changed.' I didn't force him to clean up by himself, or scold him. I just responded matter-of-factly. He got stickers to put on the potty and some mild praise each time he was successful, but not a party." Three days later, the child was accident-free. His mother thought she'd been lucky, but has since had the same experience with two subsequent children, none of whom have, she admits, "gifted and talented bladders." Her third child, a girl, insisted upon using the potty at 18 months. Mom was a bit skeptical, but had another accident-free child within three days. Several weeks later, the parents decided to have her use the big toilet. Since she couldn't get up on her own, Mom or Dad had to help. Eighteen months later, the child was still demanding assistance, and the parents were still helping. Enough is enough, they decided.Mom demonstrated how to attach the potty seat to the big toilet and mount it using a stepstool. Mom then told the child that there would be no more help, even if she became hysterical. Mom also informed her daughter that if she wet herself she would clean the mess up on her own. The little girl recently told her teacher, who had offered to help her go potty, "My mommy says I have to do it all by myself, and I ab-so-lute-ly can!" There is no mystery to this success story. First, the mother began training before her kids got so used to messing themselves that it was no big deal. Second, she conveyed clear expectations and equally clear instructions. Third, she responded to mistakes with a calm, matter-of-fact attitude. Most importantly, however, she approached toilet-training with no apprehension, as if it was the most natural thing in the world -- which, in fact, it is. 

Copyright 2008, John K. Rosemond* was the


following:  "One of the moms lured into the training philosophy of "don't force it... when he's ready it


will happen practically overnight" had emailed the group that she's now dealing with a "strong-minded


3-year-old who really seems to enjoy resisting the process". She sent along a link to an article as well as


her advice: "Start now, don't wait, even if he doesn't prefect the process until he's three or more. Set


the groundwork as early as possible."


I clicked on the link as quickly as I could and found the Mommy Files blogger Amy Graff explaining how


she had potty trained her 2-year-old son in 3 days. Using advice from potty training guru and ex-nurse


Julie Fellom, she explained, "Children are typically ready between 15 to 27 months. This is a great age


because toddlers are compliant but ready for some independence. If you wait longer, you'll be dealing


with a temperamental, strong-minded 2-year-old who will likely resist the process."


It was a book recommendation from one of the moms that finally clued me in to the disposable-diaper


industry's role in convincing American parents to wait and wait and wait (in their disposables) until their


kid was good and ready. Linda Sonna, author of "Early Start Potty Training" explains that the "child-


oriented approach" to training began in 1961 when Procter & Gamble started test-marketing the first


disposable diaper. "The company began looking for a pediatrician to promote them", she explains in her


book, "it signed up T. Berry Brazelton, who began extolling the merits of the company's product and


recommending that parents not begin potty training before children are physically, mentally, and


emotionally ready."


Even child-raising guru Dr. Benjamin Spock fell into line with the Pampers-pitching Brazelton. "Spock


used to say younger was better, 14 months was considered late for training," Sonna discovered while


researching for her book. "In 1961 everything changed and Spock began quoting Brazelton. That was the


year Brazelton signed up with Procter & Gamble. He came out saying it was cruel to train babies too




With the power of P&G advertising budgets behind him, Hazelton's advice began to change the nation's


ideas about when a child was ready for the toilet. For one Pamper's ad, he extolled what has now


become a common concept among mothers: "Don't rush your toddler into toilet training or let anyone


else tell you it's time! It's got to be his choice!"

Outside time

Posted by tarastoyland on 20 May, 2015 at 9:55

I love when the weather warms up enough that we can play outside for hours at a time.  I have a facebook page that is only for parents of enrolled kids and relatives/friends they want to let read the things I write.  This is a great tool for me to share tidbits of our day, tell the parents what we did that day in preschool and share pictures of our day.   I was looking back at some of those old postings and thought I would share a few that had to do with outside.  If the post contained names I just left the first initial.



May 18 at 11:23am ·



.what a wonderfully relaxing spring day today is!! We spent it outside in back. C and A were finding rolly pollies in the sand box and collecting them. They counted them and were doing adding and subtracting all on their own while they were discussing them. Now C and the boys are eating turkey and muenster cheese sandwiches and comparing different colored tomatoes to see if they taste different. Then off to nap. 


May 20, 2014 at 11:51am ·

we went for a super long walk today
First we had to learn the safe way to stay with Miss Nora, we can run to the next driveway but not into the actual driveway area in case there is a car backing out or pulling in.
Along the way we saw a snake, it seemed to float along the sidewalk. We also saw ducks and a family of geese. We listened and heard the birds. We saw cattails, and at lunch our corndogs looked just like them. We pet two dogs, found a fishing lure and talked abo...ut that, tried to find any turtles or frogs/toads but they must have been hiding in the mud and we picked dandelions.
When we were at the pond we looked at the water, one pond had nothing on top of the water the other pond had lots of green algae. We took some pond water and algae back to the house to look at under the microscope but it was hard to see anything in the water. It was fun seeing our clothes, skin, hair and green beans under the microscope though. We used an eyeclops which projects the magnified image onto the Tv screen.
We read a book about water too.

the kids played in the sand that is now deep enough, they helped me hang the swings... ok, really C cried and cried for me to get the baby swing hung, then everyone else whined till I got the others hung... they helped me build the picnic table (really!). I was afraid I was going to have to throw out one of the little climbers cause the plastic was cracked. Then I realized only ONE panel was cracked and it still worked with that panel taken out, so we reassembled it and tried it out. M loved feeling the wind and trying to eat grass before I got it out of his fingers. It was a wonderfully relaxing and fun outside day. Nap is ending pretty soon, then we will be back out there again.

cutest thing !! - M was playing football with me when S arrived. So M threw it to S, who caught it and threw it back. Then S ran about 20 feet away and held out his arms to catch it.  M threw it, S got it and M ran 20 feet away and put out his arms. They did this for about 30 minutes!

LOTS of outside time today!! If it wasn't for so much mud we would have stayed longer, but the little guys kept getting muddy then complaining to ME about it!!










May 10, 2011 ·





water play kinda got carried away - make sure you have extra clothes here - today I had to use my stash of extras, but it was worth it to have so much fun in the hose!!


We played outside till it started raining, then we played inside. We talked about what you wear in the rain. We used markers on raincoat pictures then observed what the rain did to our marks. S loved this so much he did 4 of them! We talked about big/small and numbers/sizes using clothes and used real socks for matching

Today's Discovery!

Posted by tarastoyland on 22 April, 2015 at 9:50

The kids opened up the water table to find a surprise! The seeds they had played with in the dirt/mud had sprouted. And they were HUGE. The third picture is the seed in a bag on the window which you can see is no where near that big. We discussed what may have made the seeds in the table grow so much more then the ones on the window. We decided that the window is colder and that maybe the lid being on had something to do with making a good environment and that the dirt probably had a lot to do with it. I can't believe how much these seeds grew in such a short time!!


This Day in History

Posted by tarastoyland on 21 April, 2015 at 9:45

I have a facebook persona (Tara's Toyland) which is only for daycare stuff.  I only allow people connected to the children currently enrolled to "friend" Tara's Toyland so it's all people that somehow know the kids.  It's really neat to be able to give little antedotes of our day or tell everyone at once what we did for our lesson that day.  I post pictures often too.  Parents use it to connect with other parents for playdates or just to keep in touch after they leave my daycare.

Today in my newsfeed.there was a picture from a year ago and it said to click to see more from this day in the past.  I got a smile from what came up - 

April 21, 2014 I posted a photo album  - "dying eggs, babies playing, Pilcher Park".

April 21, 2011 "Please send get better wishes to **** - he had to go to the doctor's today because his breathing was so bad - he has an ear infection and bronchialitis. He went home before our egg hunt but did get to do the egg coloring and hunted on his own. His wheezing was so bad, I was very worried!!"


April 21, 2010 "we read Honey Bees book, learned how bees dance and wiggle to talk and then tried it ourselves, we sang Here is the Beehive and we tasted honey"

Sometimes we forget the details.  I really want to do a Social Book for the daycare.  Social Book is a company that uses your facebook posts and the comments on them and even pictures and compiles them into a photo book.  The only problem is I priced out just ONE YEAR and it was WAY too expensive.  And a whole year didn't fit in one book either.  Yep, I sure do use facebook as a communication with parents tool!

Pirates theme

Posted by tarastoyland on 13 April, 2015 at 16:40

We had started a Pirates theme when I came across this HUGE box. I dragged it home and went to work creating a pirate ship.  The kids loved steering the ship, sailing on the high seas and exploring for treasure.

Decorating treasure chests and showing off our pirate hooks