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Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish

Philosophies of...


Children learn by playing! But not all play is created equal, some "learn through play" centers have all play with no direct instruction. I encourage meaningful play that scaffolds on prior knowledge and encourages higher order thinking skills. Through direct instruction using hands on techniques I prepare every child for future learning while they have fun! My daycare is set up to inspire this learning through play. Toys are changed to create different experiences throughout the year. Infants are given many opportunities to experience all their senses daily. Most importantly I teach your child how to be part of a community and be a friend.

 As part of the preschool I integrate my curriculum to include multiple learning styles and modify the curriculum as needed for the children in my group. Upon request or if the group needs dictate I will perform a standardized developmental test to determine the skills needed for further advancement. Keeping up with current research in the field helps me use scientific studies to determine best practices.

Art Education

Art is a very important part of the curriculum. I try to incorporate art into every lesson. I feel that it becomes a concrete representation of what the child has learned. In the early childhood arena the skills learned through art are amazing - fine motor skills, spatial awareness, prepositional words (like putting the button ON the snowman's tummy) and art can be used as a springboard to skills in every way (again, snowman making can be a lesson on body parts, on snow, on size relations...). For more on process vs product art see my blog post on that. This link has a list of top 10 skills children learn from the arts 


     All children do things that are not what a grown up wants them to do. The main way to control behavior is by setting up the environment for success. Having a well planned out room, removing the ability to get into stuff they should not be touching and teaching what they should be doing are the keys to not having the need to discipline a child.  

     There are times however that children are, well, children. If they are new to my center then I help them learn what behavior is needed. I assume they do not know how to act in a group or what rules to follow. I explain what is correct and model or do hand over hand to show them depending on the age. If they are long term friends then I expect them to know the rules and do a quick "heads down" time out. See the blog post on how this works for more information. In the past few years I have done about 3 times outs per year, almost all for safety reasons.  

    I believe behavior is a self fulfilling prophecy. Since I decided that I don't have "bad" kids here anymore, I have not had any. Every child that is here is smart, nice and only displays developmentally appropriate behaviors. Since they are all things expected from that age/developmental level of that child I support the child in learning how to learn the skills they are working on.

Food and Feeding

Whole grains, low fat meats, and lots of variety are the cornerstones to our meals and the healthiest versions of foods are chosen at all times. Children can start on solids any time AFTER the 4th month has started. If a child is started before that time the lining of the intestine is not developed enough to handle the foods. Solids should be introduced no later than the middle of the 6th month though. Delaying beyond this time has been shown in studies to have a very high link to a child having texture, gagging, swallowing and other eating problems as well as a higher risk of diseases like diabetes later in life.

Most people start with infant cereal grains which are available in whole grain options now. Studies have shown that either grains or vegetables should be first, then fruits and meats. The introduction of fruits too soon can cause a "sweet preference" in babies. Milk products and honey must both be avoided completely until the child has reached at least 12 months old. There is an enzyme that digests these two products that does not develop until 11 months 3 weeks old (in 99% of children according to intestinal biopsies).

When necessary, I also apply the Picky Eater Plan. I have used this plan with kids that literally threw up at the sight of food and within 2 weeks they were eating normal amounts of everything and trying every food. I’m happy to share the details of this plan and you can click the link above to purchase your own copy of the book it comes from.

Potty Training

I fully believe in early training. Since I do home daycare I have trained LOTS of kids, so I have developed some particular strategies. I try to start as soon as the child is able to sit solidly. Click here to read an article that helps explain my position. My rate drops when a child is dry for 2 weeks in underwear to encourage parents to work with me on the process.

Sleep Habits in Children

Children need LOTS of sleep. But why do I say this? Studies have shown that children who get enough sleep in the first five years of life are smarter and better at processing language up to ten years later. Sleep begets sleep. The better a child sleeps the better the child is behaved. Studies also show that the majority of child behavior problems are tied directly to the amount of sleep a child gets. Sleep is when the child is able to process the information that they have been presented with in the waking period and when important neural connections are formed. Children that get the right amount of sleep are at less risk of obesity and of developing ADD/ADHD. I keep a Pinterest Board just for sleep articles. Also check out the Blog page under sleep for more on sleep.

Naps - some people say that their preschool child doesn't need a nap. Even if the child sleeps 13 hours at night my answer is they do still need a nap up until they are in kindergarten. A nap is about recharging the body, restoring the peace in the mind and relaxing. I have found this analogy the best to illustrate my point - Cars should have oil changes about every 5000 miles. 

Sometimes life gets busy and we forget to do the oil change, perhaps for a while. Your car doesn't show any damage. You might even get to 8000 miles and no oil change and still the car is running just fine. But sooner or later that car is going to die. The engine is going to seize up and revolt and you will have an unhappy car. The car will not work any more. Naps are the oil changes in a child's life. They are needed even if you can't see the effects of skipping them right away.


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call: (815) 609-8859

email: [email protected]

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Located conveniently in the Caton Ridge subdivision, Plainfield, IL, west of Rt. 59 off of Theodore

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