Monday, April 22, 2024
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Finland Nature Childcare Program Developments

The Finland Community Na­ture Childcare is excited to share several new developments in their programming!

2023 saw a lot of change in childcare. Many people may have noticed the new fence for the yard, which was erected with lo­cal lumber and a creative twist. “I was happy to be a contributor to the childcare,” says Ric Lindberg of Lundberg Lumber, who provid­ed all of the lumber and contrib­uted some as well. A grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson foundation provided for the play set and other yard items, while a revitalization grant from the State of Minneso­ta funded the fence. “My favorite part about working at the child­care is the excitement from the kids and the parents,” said Thom Hirschboeck, who installed the play set and fence. “It’s not just something to do, but part of a community project, which makes it kind of a special job.”

Later, in September 2023, to in­crease their service and affordabil­ity, the childcare moved to a four day week, reduced their rates, and began providing diaper supplies and food. They source organic and local food as much as possi­ble. Elli King, the center’s direc­tor, says she’s been busy cooking potatoes from her garden along with eggs for breakfast every Fri­day with the kiddos. “We really make so much food from scratch, and the kids help us cook. It is so valuable for the kids. It’s a great relationship to cook and eat food together family style.” The center is hoping to work with local pro­ducers to source even more local ingredients during the upcoming growing season.

The Finland Childcare partic­ipates in the Parent Aware pro­gram, which is a Minnesota quali­ty rating and improvement system that offers tools and resources for helping childcare programs im­prove their practices of preparing children for school and life. When a child care program participates in the Parent Aware Star Rating process they volunteer for extra training and professional devel­opment to go above and beyond basic health and safety licensing requirements.

Participating programs can earn a One, Two, Three, or Four-Star Rating, with each rating level building upon the previous one. To obtain their next star rating, Finland Childcare has begun to implement a formal curricu­lum and assessments for kinder­garten readiness. Their chosen curriculum, the Red Leaf Family Child Care Curriculum, is aligned with state standards for the early childhood domains of learning, and follows the philosophy of “emergent, child-inspired learn­ing,” which has been growing quickly in popularity in recent years. The idea behind this is that children (and adults!) learn best when they are interested in what they are learning. “If the child is asking the question, the answer is almost guaranteed to stick!” says King. After observing and assess­ing the children, providers base planned activities off of these assessments. Then, if a planned activity branches off or leads to a new idea, the emergent curric­ulum allows for the flexibility of shifting the lesson while still con­tinuing the learning. The result is that the children develop through all the different domains of learn­ing, while staying engaged and inspired.

The Red Leaf Curriculum coins itself as “teaching through quality care,” which really resonates for King. “We connect with our chil­dren, we care for our children, and we teach our children. The emer­gent curriculum is great because it recognizes that you can achieve all of your domains of learning throughout your day. We build fine motor skills and social skills while making eggs for breakfast, and gross motor skills by walking in the woods on uneven terrain. We build cognitive skills of ob­servation, memory and projection by talking about and drawing the weather and we expand vocab­ulary by comparing the different shades of green we find outside. When you have care providers who are being intentional about their ‘teachable moments’, then all of the domains of learning are found within your daily routine.” The curriculum also supports en­gaging in basic preschool activ­ities, such as drawing, writing, reading, and art projects, which the group does daily as well.

This summer, there will be some­thing new for school-aged children: a nature based day camp program. The childcare will still be open for a full four day week, with the additional programming running from 10 – 3 each day. “The kids had fun last year,” says King, “But I wanted to be able to give them something more. The older kids will really benefit from some structured activities that are en­gaging, fun and connect them with nature.” Activities will include exploration, observation, creative arts projects, research topics, and educational games. Last summer there were 7 – 9 school aged chil­dren on any given day and they ex­pect similar attendance this year.

The center would like to thank and acknowledge the folks who have been coming in to volunteer their time. “We’ve had someone come and build a tree house loft, someone paint a beautiful tree on our wall… Mr. Fix It comes on Fridays and helps fix our broken toys… It’s so great, a handful of people stop by and visit. The com­munity is engaging and it’s just been so lovely. A shout out and a thank you to everyone that’s helped and a welcome to anyone who wants to,” says King, who is looking forward to a planned donor and volunteer appreciation dinner in April. If you would like to support your local childcare, the Finland Community Nature Childcare is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and donations are tax deductible. You are welcome to donate with either a financial contribution or by coming in to volunteer!

The childcare is planning a Fundraiser Bazaar on St. Urho’s Day and would like to invite folks to donate items in good condition to be put out on tables for folks to purchase by donation to support the center. If you have items you would like to donate to the fundraiser, please contact the center at finlandchildcare@gmail.com  or by texting Betsey at 218- 226-8688, or stop on by on St Urho’s Day, Saturday March 16th, from 10 – 2, to say hello and see what’s up for grabs. They will also be roasting bread over an open fire for kids and adults alike; if you have never done this you should really try it!

The Finland Childcare current­ly has openings for toddlers and preschoolers! There are limited openings available for the sum­mer months as well. Please con­tact them at the above email or at 218-220-8997 if you or someone you know needs childcare.

Katee Rose
Katee Rose
Katee Rose grew up on the Great Lakes in upstate New York. She left home on a bicycle and embarked on a cross country trip to California following her graduation from college. This trip was the beginning of many more that eventually landed her in countries across Europe, Canada, Mexico and Central America. Learning the cultures, cuisines, history and traditions from the communities she’s spent time in around the world. Katee is passionate about community and social justice movements. As well as engaging with many forms of art and music. For the past 5 years she has called the North Shore home and has been enjoying homesteading a small slice of land in the Northwoods. She is involved in many community efforts around local food, building capacity for a more sustainable future and supporting the elders in the area.
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