10 Years – A Reflection
By Susie Beghin
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, this is a great opportunity to reflect on the past 10 years and recognize those who have made it all possible.
When I first started the business in 2004, which was originally called Alpha’s Discovery Club, it was an indoor playground that provided educational entertainment and extra-curricular programs for children up to 10 years old. The business evolved over time, and it became clear to me that my dream was to open an education-focused child care facility for young children.
I realized that dream in 2012 – 10 years ago – with the first location in Mississauga called Alpha’s Preschool Academy and Child Care Centre. Over the years, the name changed slightly to what is now known as Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare.
When we first opened our doors in September 2012, we had 8 children enrolled. Over the years, we have grown to our full capacity of 69 kids and expanded to open other locations in Oakville and Mississauga.
It wasn’t easy to leave my previous “corporate” job and start a new business. But I felt almost compelled to do it and haven’t looked back! It was the best decision of my life. I would say that my inspiration for starting Alpha’s was my son Gabriel, born in 2002. It was by being his mom that I learned that my true passion in life was to work with kids. In 2007, my son John-Michael was born, and he inspired me to pursue the dream of owning my own daycare – which came to reality a few years later in 2012.
We have had some very special educators that have been with us throughout these 10 years that have made a huge impact on our organization. Amanda, Roda, Meg are educators who were with me from the very beginning and are still educating children at Alpha’s. I am so thankful to all our educators – past and present! They have helped us create a unique curriculum called The Four Pillars of Learning. Through their hard work, they have contributed to make Alpha’s a place that I am truly proud of!
When I look back over these years, I can’t help but smile. I think about how lucky I am to be doing something that I love every day. I am truly honoured to be involved in the formation of these precious “Alpha’s kids” in our care. We are so grateful to the parents for their trust and support over the years. These little ones have made me smile and laugh – it is truly a joy to watch them learn!
Finally, I want to give special recognition to my husband, Adriano, who has supported me throughout these 10 years, both financially and emotionally. He has made it possible for me to follow my dream! Without him, Alpha’s would never exist!
Join me on August 27th as we celebrate this special 10th anniversary with a huge carnival theme party!
Here’s the details:
Saturday August 27, 2022
11:00 – 2:00 pm
Sleep Tips for Young Children: How to get a good night’s rest
Some say “never wake a sleeping baby” but what if the baby won’t sleep at all? What if they sleep too much? Knowing how much sleep your child needs can be confusing because it seems everyone has an opinion on the topic and there is so much information to sift through about sleep tips.
Keep in mind that what works for some may not work for all. While some of you may be simply exhausted because your child doesn’t sleep enough, other parents may be experiencing worry about children who sleep too much. Some children will naturally fall below the recommended or typical sleep amounts for their age group and can function well on less sleep. Some children may need extra sleep, but it’s something to monitor because that means less awake time to learn and play. You’ll want to check with your pediatrician if your child’s sleep needs are excessively high or low.
If these topics are keeping you up at night and your child too, you are not alone. Sleep is a big topic among parents and it’s important to remember to stick to the facts. Always use reputable sources of information online, books or consult with your doctor rather then using the advice in a mommy’s group, from a friend or family member. Although the latter may be a trusted source, it’s best to check on that advice with a professional to make sure it is sound.
How Much Sleep Do Children Need?
This chart is a general guide to the amount of sleep children need over a 24-hour period, including nighttime sleep and daytime naps.
|Infants (4 to 12 months old)||12-16 hours|
|Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)||11-14 hours|
|Children (3 to 5 years old)||10-13 hours|
|Children (6-12 years)||9-12 hours|
|Teenagers (13-18 years old)||8-10 hours|
Here’s some handy sleep tips that may help your child (and you) get the sleep you need:
Establish a regular sleep pattern
Establishing a regular sleep pattern is important. It will help your child understand when it is time to sleep. Also, your child will have better sleep. Bedtime shouldn’t vary by more than an hour across all days of the week (even weekends) – whether your child has an early start the next morning or not. The same goes for waking time.
A consistent bedtime routine
It is good to have the same routine before bed each night. This will help prepare for sleep. Quiet activities are good, such as reading a book or having a bath or shower. In the half hour before bed, there are some things you want to avoid such as active games, playing outside, TV, internet or mobile phone games. These activities will stimulate the child and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Make sure the bedroom is comfortable
The bedroom should be quiet, comfortable, and dark. Some children like a night light. This is fine. Make sure your child sees the bedroom as a good place to be.
Bed is for sleeping, not entertainment
Devices and games will distract your child and are not good for their sleep. Keep them out of the bedroom. “Needing” to watch a screen to fall asleep is a bad habit. This can easily develop, but you don’t want it to happen.
Some foods can disturb sleep
A high intake of sugary or fatty foods has been linked with more restless sleep. Avoid sugary or high fat snacks before bedtime, as well as large meals. A small healthy savoury snack, one hour before bedtime, would be fine.
Take care with daytime naps
It is normal for young children to nap during the day. As your child gets older, they will need less sleep. This means they will need to nap less. The number and length of naps depends on your child. If your child is not going to sleep at a reasonable time at night, it may be time to shorten or stop daytime napping.
Exercise and time outside
Daily exercise is an important part of healthy living. It also promotes good sleep. Time spent in bright daylight does the same. Outdoor exercise achieves both these things. It’s best for young children to go outside for at least 2 hours throughout the day to get the physical activity they need. However, it is best to steer clear of vigorous activity in the hour before sleep.
Work with your doctor
If your child is sick or isn’t comfortable, their sleep will suffer. Some children suffer from specific sleep problems such as frequent nightmares, snoring or sleep apnoea. It is important that these problems are dealt with. If you think ill health is involved, discuss this with your family doctor.
Specific sleep-related issues in children
The Sleep Health Foundation has a range of helpful fact sheets for children with sleep issues. These include tips on sleep issues for children with ADHD (see ADHD and Sleep in Children) or autism (see Autism in Children and Sleep), as well as more general topics such as bedwetting (see Bedwetting), childhood snoring (see Childhood Snoring and Sleep Apnea) and behavioural problems with settling to sleep (see Behavioural Sleep Problems in School Aged Children).
Sleep is important, not only for your child’s well-being, but yours too! For more information about how we promote children’s well being, check out our programs!
Top 4 Fall Family Fun Activities
What are your favourite Fall activities to enjoy with your family?
September has arrived and that means as the leaves slowly change colour, we have a short window to still enjoy some warm (or warm-ish) fall weekends to spend outdoors before Jack frost makes an appearance. As sad as we are to say good-bye to summer there is still so much to enjoy in the fall. Autumn seems to come and go so fast so let’s get a jump on the fun with some outdoor activities with the kids. Here are 4 festive fall ideas to enjoy in September and October during Harvest time …. I can already smell the apple pie…
1. Visit a pumpkin patch
As the harvest season comes to an end, there is nothing more fun than picking your own pumpkin – even if you decide not to carve it. They look lovely on your front step. There are so many beautiful varieties and colors. I especially like the white “ghost pumpkin”.
Here’s a list of pumpkin patches in the GTA.
One of our favorite farms for pumpkin picking is Springridge Farm. It is a beautiful farm with lots of opportunities for children to play in the fresh fall air. With the charming backdrop of this colourful farm, you will be sure to capture your kids in action or the most perfect fall family pictures.
2. Enjoy a Fall Fair
There’s nothing like spending the day at a fall fair and enjoying the food, rides and games. Here is a list of fall fairs across Ontario with a list ranging from very old ones in small towns like the Norwood Fall Fair, to the huge Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
There are many fairs that will be taking place soon. Oh, how we have missed fairs!
3. Apple Picking
There are many farms to visit at this time of year to get the festive fall feeling we all love. These farms are not limited to just pumpkin picking! Some farms, like these local favorites, Chudleighs and Downey’s, have fun activities for children, apple picking and lovely shops where you can purchase apples and baked goods. Check out this link for more apple picking spots where you can pick your own apples.
4. Get lost in the moment in a Corn maze
Before escape rooms for centuries many have found fun in the challenge of escaping a corn maze. Fall in Ontario brings a variety of farm activities including some amazing corn mazes which can encompass 20 acres! Some are cut in a seasonal or sports theme, but all are a super fun way to spend an afternoon. If you are feeling brave, check out this link where you can find a corn maze to find your way out of!
Enjoy the season! We would love to see you share your fall family pics with us.
Back to school during a Pandemic: What to expect in 2021
After a warm summer, September has finally rolled around and it’s that time of year when our little ones head back to school or perhaps start attending a new daycare or preschool. We are now 18 months into a pandemic and it’s not over yet! We seem to headed toward a fourth wave here in Ontario which will increase our anxiety levels as we strive to find ways to get back to some kind of normal routine while staying safe.
So, what can you expect for this new school year? Many of the COVID protocols and policies for schools and daycares will continue into the 2021-22 school year. Here’s what to expect:
- Screening – Be prepared for daily screening of your child. Whether your child attends daycare, preschool or any type of school, there will be a requirement for the school to screen the child daily to ensure the child is free from COVID related illness symptoms, has not travelled in the last 14 days and that everyone in their household is also healthy and not exposed to anyone with COVID or COVID symptoms.
- Illness – As cold viruses circulate in the Fall/Winter, be prepared to stay home with your child when they are ill for a few days. Also be prepared to get your child COVID tested if you want them to return to school or daycare quickly. Without testing, your child would need to isolate for 10 days.
- Masks – Masking of children over two years old is still recommended by public health. For children in daycare under 5 years old, masks are not mandatory but still recommended at the parent’s discretion. If your child is between 2-5 years old and attending daycare, you will need to decide if your child will wear a mask or not. Starting in Grade 1, masks are mandatory so ensure your child has a comfortable mask that they can wear for long periods of time.
- Face-to-face communication – Much of the communication between teachers and parents will take place via zoom. In daycares and schools, the use of apps makes it easier to communicate with teachers even though you can’t see them face-to-face on a daily basis.
- Hand Hygiene – Ensure your child knows how to properly wash hands and use hand sanitizer.
In addition to these COVID protocols, there’s the regular back to school preparation as well. Here’s some tips to help you prepare:
BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS
- Set safety rules for travelling to and from school: if your child walks or rides the bus to school, talk to them specifically about safety rules. For children in daycare, you may want to discuss parking lot safety and suggest that they need to hold your hand while walking from the parking lot to the daycare entrance.
- Label all clothing and supplies (but not where visible): It’s important to label everything that you bring to school or daycare to avoid it ending up in the lost and found. Remember to label on the inside so that it is not visible to strangers.
- Ask your child open ended questions about their day as part of your pickup routine: find creative ways to talk about it rather than the typical question “How was your day?” which normally doesn’t give you much info. Make sure your child understands that it’s okay for them to talk to you and their teacher about their needs or concerns.
- Role play: talk to your child about the new teacher/school/daycare and make it positive. If you are anxious about anything, they will pick up on that and it will cause them anxiety too! You can also role play different situations that may come up at school or daycare such as dealing with conflicts.
I am sure that for most of us, the first few weeks following back to school can be a little crazy. Remember to breathe, take time for yourself and enjoy the moment! Before you know it, your kids will be all grown up!
Especially in the younger years, our children will look to us for reassurance about daycare and school more than we think they will. While a cautious parent is a good parent, a wise parent will take great care to monitor the messages that they are sending to their child. If you start early by teaching your child how to stay safe and lay some ground rules, then you are off to a great start with preparing your child for life in the real world.
For more information about COVID protocols in the upcoming school year in Ontario, Visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-health-and-safety-measures-schools
For more information about Alpha’s Kindergarten program, click here.
- Rhythm and Rhyme and Early Literacy
Most parents would agree that learning to read is essential for young children. But how do we teach our children to love reading? At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we think reading and writing are so important that we made Language and Literacy our first pillar of learning in our Four Pillars of Learning curriculum.
Some of our favourite books for toddlers and preschoolers are written by Dr. Seuss. There’s just something about all of those wacky characters, silly rhyming words and colourful familiar stories. It’s always so much fun to invite children into a whimsical place that they will likely want to visit often.
The stories are so simple but are so broadly appreciated by both adults and children. I began to think back to my very first time I read an entire book by myself. In the summer between Grade 1-2, my grandfather gave me a copy of “The Cat in the Hat”. I remember how much I enjoyed the story. I started to flip the pages and wanted to read it again and again, memorized it and began to read it out loud with confidence. Soon after I began playing rhyming games which led to more word exploration with synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms.
The Dr. Seuss books show us that language and literacy can be fun and silly. Many Dr. Seuss books are written with lot of rhythm and rhyming words. Rhythm and Rhyme can help us in many ways. The rhythmic flow can hold the interest of the reader and the audience.
What we especially like about Dr. Seuss books is that his stories are far more than just lovely little springy poems but more of an introduction to language and literacy development. The books offer a bouncy, heavily rhythmic sound which gives the reader and the listener a crash course in early linguistics.
Rhythm is a vital tool for infants to understand when phrases end and begin. It is their first step in learning language and helps them develop a motor pattern. In a similar fashion before you learn to play an instrument you must first develop an understanding of rhythm. In the same way, rhythm helps to teach both language and literacy.
If you would like to learn more about how we teach language and literacy skills and what you can do at home to develop these skills, click on our Youtube video.
Stuffed with Love – Plush Toy Activity and Food Drive
According to the 2020 Hunger report, food bank use was on the rise pre-COVID -19. With the onset of the pandemic, food banks experienced a surge in demand for food and necessities in communities across the country. As government supports and funding wind down, food bank use is now rapidly increasing. At Alpha Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we understand that families of all tax brackets are struggling to catch up, stay ahead and even keep up. During this special time of year, we want to help, so we have joined “The Compass” in their efforts to gather food items that will be donated to those who really need a helping hand. The Compass is a Food bank and outreach centre located in Port Credit, ½ way between our Oakville and Mississauga centres. Their mission is to provide a place for people to come for help. They offer immediate assistance providing food and living necessities. In addition, they provide practical support, resources, and assistance to individuals with low incomes and or that are facing difficult times and challenges. We have coordinated an event called “Stuffed with Love” where our students will have an opportunity to build and stuff a plush toy called “build a perfect pet” on Dec 17th. We are able to offer these plush toys to our families for no cost thanks to the generous donation of Amber Dinda from Glen Abbey Decor. In addition, during the week of Dec 14-18th we have asked the families to help us stuff & fill something else…. A food donation box. We are accepting non-perishable food items and toiletries, basic needs for living, diapers, feminine products, and pet supplies. Each of our students will bring home a full-sized high-quality plush toy and customized T-shirt as part of the experience. Once they have completed building their “perfect pet” they will take it home with a personalized birth certificate. We are hoping to have a full box of donations from both our Oakville and Mississauga location to be delivered on Dec 21st to The Compass. We know that with all the closures and lockdowns, that these fun events are extra special and mean a lot to our families. It means a lot to us to fill our Alpha’s kids days with meaning and fun activities, but we also want to fill their hearts with opportunities to help others at the same time.
Halloween Activities 2020
Halloween is just a few days away and 2020 promises to be a different kind of Halloween! Halloween has always been one of my favourite
holidays to celebrate with children. There is so much fun involved for children: the ability to transform yourself for a day in your favourite
character costume, the spooky decorations and of course – the CANDY!
As 2020 has presented some challenges with celebrating holidays according to old traditions, this is an opportunity to find new ways to celebrate
this fun holiday.
Here’s a list of Halloween activities you can do with young children in 2020!
Candy Scavenger Hunt: Kids love going on a scavenger hunt! The process of finding hidden gems (especially candy) is so rewarding and exciting!
You can create your own scavenger hunt or click on this link to print one.
Indoor Trick-or-treating: You don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to trick-or-treat. You can setup trick-or-treating by going from
room to room in your home and having your child knock on the doors and you can have different people in the house answering the doors and
handing out candy. You can involve grandparents and other extended family members too! This activity is great for toddlers with their short
attention spans. They probably only want to knock on a few doors before they are done
Mummy Wrap: This is one of my favourite Halloween games. All you need is toilet paper and a willing person! You would wrap the toilet paper
around the person and try to cover them all up like a mummy. You now have a use for all the extra toilet paper you may have around the house!
How many Candies in the Jar? This activity will keep your child guessing all night long. Fill a jar with candy and ask your child to guess how many
are in the jar. They can take several guesses and you can record them. You can even extend the game to everyone in the house. Then you can take everything out of the jar and count it. This is not only fun, but it’s also a great math activity for young children.
Bob for Apples: This is a classic Halloween game! You can adapt it for 2020 by making individual bowls to bob for the apples. Each person gets
their own bowl of water with an apple floating in it. The object is to take the apple out without using your hands. Get creative! You can use your mouth, tongs, chopsticks etc.
Decorating yummy treats: This is a great opportunity to explore your creativity by decorating cupcakes or cookies. You can use spooky
decorations, or even candy to decorate with. Kids will develop fine motor skills by spreading the icing and adding the decoration.
Candy Toss: Grab a basket and some candy and create a tossing game. Position the basket a few steps away and ask the child to toss the candy into the basket.
Have fun creating new memories and traditions in 2020! Enjoy! Happy Halloween!
The Benefits of Listening to Classical Music for Young Children
Did you know that classical music is beneficial for young children? Here are 5 reasons why you should encourage listening to classical music with your little one!
Creates a Calming Effect
First and foremost, classical music has a calming effect. Many doctors recommend that woman listen to classical music during pregnancy for that very reason. When a baby is first born, playing classical style music, especially during naps, will help soothe and calm your little one! This is not just calming for infants, all young children and event adults tend to experience a sense of calm when listening to the sounds of classical music.
Improve Listening Skills
Listening to music from classical music composers such as Beethoven and Mozart at a young age, has been proven to increase concentration skills in many young children. Studies have also found that children who listen to those specific musicians are more self-disciplined.
Improve Brain Function
One of the most known benefits of listening to classical music is the increase of brain function. Classical music helps develop the genes that secrete dopamine and improves synaptic function.
Become a Fan of Classical Music
Most everything we do in life is based on the habits we have formed throughout our life, especially in the early years. Listening to classical music can become a habit for those who have always listened to it. So, start them young!
Classical music, in general, is very inspiring. Since the music improves brain functions, it also inspires new thoughts which helps one to become more creative!
In our classrooms, we play classical music melodies during our nap times to create a calm atmosphere. We also use music to inspire creative expression through art. We play classical music while children are painting or creating art.
For more information about the benefits of classical music, click here.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, we understand the importance of educating children in all areas to help them to grow and develop. Science is one of the key programs that we focus on in our Four Pillars of Learning curriculum. It is the first letter in our STEAM program. Science can be a hard area for some of us to wrap our heads around, especially as adults. We think of volcanos and osmosis when we think of science, but if you look at the activities your child does in their day, science is everywhere.
By introducing science to children at a young age, we begin to foster their interest in the subject and their success in that subject at school. It helps them to problem solve and better understand their world around them. Science allows children to make predictions, complete observations and determine an outcome. Science easily links with many other parts of our program such as math and art. For example, we discuss the types of animals in the arctic and the temperature (math), and have them create puppets from paper bags (art).
Science is also a great way to calm children. If negative behaviours are happening at home or at school try using art and science as a way to alleviate some of those issues. Children generally love exploring with science, they love the mess, and the use of imagination. Simply mixing colours is a great way to show children science. Ask them what they would get if they mixed red and blue, blue and yellow or red and yellow. Have them try mixing their own colours to see how many different colours can be made.
Children want to be involved. Science can be simple at home as well. You can grow a garden or flowers. Allow them to help put in the soil, to water the plants. Make a graph of how tall it is getting. Show them how you can cook with what you grow. Cooking can involve both math and science by measuring and mixing ingredients to make something new. All these things are simple and will help your child to be excited about learning.
Here’s a list of some great simple science experiments that we do with the children in our programs that you can try at home.
1. Lava lamp. Take a water bottle and fill it with the following ingredients.
c. Food colouring
2. Colour changing flowers. Put the flowers in a glass with water and food colouring and watch the flowers change colours.
a. White carnations
d. Food colouring
3. Magic milk (one of my favourites). Mix all the ingredients on a tray. Watch what happens.
a. A large flat tray
c. Liquid food colouring
d. Dish soap
e. Cotton swabs
4. Painting on ice cubes.
a. A piece of ice
c. Tray to collect the water as it melts
All of these simple activities can be found online on Pinterest and in Youtube videos. They are simple and easy to do and you may find your child asking to do them over and over again. With any science experiment it is important to ask questions.
1. What do you think will happen? – Make a prediction.
2. What actually happened? – Observe the results.
3. Why/How did it happen? – Make a hypothesis to explain what happened. You may need to do some research with your child to explain why or how it happened.
It is always fascinating to make observations about what your child was able to understand. Then 6 months later do the same activity. You will be amazed at how much more your child is aware of and the questions they ask. Now get out there and have fun.
Visit our curriculum page for more information about how we incorporate science into our four pillars of learning through the STEAM curriculum. We have truly developed an exceptional program that focuses on the child as a whole. We believe that language, literacy, STEAM and mindfulness can provide children a path for continuous growth.
How To Transition from Home to Daycare
How To Transition from Home to Daycare by Nichole Folino, RECE
Having been in the childcare industry for almost 20 years, I can tell you honestly that enrolling your child into a quality childcare facility, is truly one of the best things that you can do for them. Is it scary for you and them? Yes, of course, but the experience they will have there is invaluable. Childcare teaches them sharing, patience, teamwork, empathy and so much more. It was always easy to stand in a kindergarten classroom and tell which children had been in childcare and which had not.
There are important steps that you can take when deciding to put your child into a childcare program. First and foremost, make sure you feel comfortable there. After taking a tour of the facility make sure you understand and agree with their values, ask questions and feel confident in your decision. Those few things will help to ease some of the anxiety that you will feel.
When it comes to helping your child adjust and be prepared for the first time in childcare, there are many things that you can do.
1. Transition together
Most childcare centres have a transition period to some degree. Take advantage of it. Spend time with your child in their classroom and with the teachers. This will help you and your child to feel comfortable while they explore the new environment. If you feel that your child may need additional transition time, don’t be afraid to speak to the supervisor.
2. Be Honest
Be honest with them about what to expect during their time there. Give them examples like, when you get to school you will see Ms. Jones, then you will play inside with the toys, then you will go outside on the playground, have lunch, a nap and finally you will have another snack before I pick you up. Setting realistic timelines for your child will help them understand their day and when to expect you.
3. Drive by the Centre
When driving by the childcare centre, point it out to your child. Remind them that they will be going there and provide them with days. You can say, in two days you will get to go and see Ms. Jones. It is important to speak fondly of the teacher and the childcare.
4. Say Goodbye
Lastly, but almost the most important is that you say a quick and confident goodbye to your child. Saying goodbye with confidence shows your child that they are safe. Most children will stop crying shortly after their parents leave. If you are concerned, you can also call the centre and find out how they are doing. Sending a comfort toy from home, whether it be a blanket or stuffed animal can help.
As a mother, I firmly believe that one of the best things I did for my children, was to put them in childcare. I believe it helped them to be prepared for the school system in ways I couldn’t have imagined. They were confident and not scared to leave me the first day of Kindergarten. It was me that cried when they went inside. It provided them a social experience that I could not have given them. They made friends easier and knew how to take turns. They were creative and could express themselves in healthy ways. Finding childcare is easy, finding a childcare that aligns with your vision is rewarding.
Conclusion: How To Transition From Home to Daycare
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we offer three free transition days prior to starting full-time to help you and the child adjust to our program and routine. If you would like more information about our centre, click here to book a tour.