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A day in the life of a family day care educator

I think people often wonder what I do all day now that I’m at home for most of the week running my family day care. So I thought I’d share a bit of insight on my typical daily working routine…6.45-7.15am Wake up, wash and get dressed for the day.7.00-7.30am My own kids start waking up. Get them dressed and fed.7.30-8.30am Day care kids start arriving. Free play (outdoor/indoor)8.30-9.00am Mat time and story time. First round of nappy changes.9.00-9.30am Morning tea.9.30-10.00am Put babies down for morning nap. Older kids have some TV time.10.00-10.30am Structured activity or learning experience for older kids.10.30-11.30am Babies wake up from morning nap. Free play (outdoor/indoor).11.30-12.15pm Second round of nappy changes. Lunch time.12.15-12.30pm Pack up toys together.12.30-1.00pm Story time. Get ready for afternoon nap/rest time.1.00-1.30pm Wash dishes and clean up table, kitchen and play area. Prepare afternoon tea for kids.1.30-2.00pm Eat my lunch.2.00-3.00pm Work on documentat…
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What’s been happening

When winter arrives, it really makes an entrance.No matter how many winters I’ve been through, I always feel a tad bit unprepared for the miserable wet days and long stretches of rainy deluges. In the meantime, I can just cosy up with hot drinks and fluffy slippers and day dream about summer.And with winter always comes the realisation that we’re now at the halfway point of the year. And it’s been quite a year already. With all that’s been going on, I think this space is due for a proper ‘what’s been happening’ update.On the Enrichment Class Debate
I’ve always seen myself on the camp of minimal or nil enrichment classes. I have a bit of a soft spot for the ‘free range’ school of parenting. But maybe it’s the Asian side in me surfacing or whatever. So in addition to the piano lessons Nathan’s been getting from me, he’s also officially started Taekwondo classes. And I think it’s been really good. We’re not a very sporty type family, so the classes have been a great way for him to channel…

Recent Obsessions

What’s been on the list of obsessions with your kids lately?At the moment, Nathan has been really into all the books in the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.Prior to this, for ages Nathan was absolutely obsessed with everything related to Lego Ninjago… the toys, the movie, the animated series and of course the books. Conversations with him would often revolve around him talking about all the characters and plot twists in the Lego Ninjago universe. He would draw pictures about it, write stories and essays about it, and even play Lego Ninjago games at school with his friends.I was glad that he had something that kept him so fully occupied. But I thought it was about time to ease up on the obsession a bit. Then one afternoon his bestie’s mum mentioned the Captain Underpants books. So I persuaded Nathan to give them a go (name dropping his bestie’s name for extra credit). And he was hooked.So our dinner and bedtime conversations now include discussions about “Captain Underpants and…

One of my favourite things in my Family Day Care set up

One common question that pops up in Family Day Care forums and discussions is “What is your number one best buy or favourite piece of equipment or toy?”. I’m always curious to see what other educators have up their sleeve and I’ve uncovered a number of gems through such discussions.I don’t consider my own set up highly sophisticated compared to others, but I aim to be intentional in the way I set up my environments and include lots of open ended materials that can be used in many ways or can be repurposed into different set ups and play invitations.Today I’d like to share one particular set of equipment which I consider to be one of the most versatile in my set ups and has been worth every cent invested and more.Jumbo size building blocksI bought them five years ago at Big W in a set of 78-80 pieces for under a hundred dollars or thereabouts. They were such a big hit I went back to get another set but they were all sold out.They’ve become an integral part of my set up and function bey…

Mothers’ Day 2018

The month of May usually synonymous with Mothers’ Day.At this season of motherhood, my Mothers’ Day is still a shower of cute crafty gifts and cards and funny ‘Interview Questions’. Although this year for the first time I received bona fide presents from both kids which they used their own precious ‘ang pow’ money to buy from the Mothers’ Day gift stall set up at their school.Grace got me a set of heart shaped cookie cutters. Which I suspect was because she wanted me to tempt me with to bake cookies. Which we did. Nathan bought me two gifts—a drink bottle and a pretty little purse. It was sweet listening to them describe their unique thought processes for selecting their respective gifts.For the mums of my family day care kids this year, the children made heart-stenciled tea towels with fabric markers as their Mothers’ Day gifts. The children made these heart stencil tea towels to go with the cake-in-a-cup mugs for our mother's day gifts #familydaycare #mothersdaygiftA post shared …

Activity Trays and Interest Tables

One of the key things I like to include in my weekly or daily environment set ups are ‘activity trays’… also sometimes referred to as ‘interest tables’, ‘discovery trays’ or ‘sensory bins’.It’s essentially a hodge podge of various bits and pieces, thoughtfully curated and arranged in a way to generate interest in children to explore and discover. Our Easter themed activity tray this week is filled with eggs and little baby chicks, watched over by a noisy mother henA post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on Mar 27, 2018 at 5:45am PDT I like them because they often add a pop of colour or an interesting corner to the general play area. Plus if they hit the right spots, they can captivate and engage a child for ages on end. Gearing up for Easter with an egg-filled theme this week... 1. EGG SHOP PLAY 2. HUMPTY DUMPTY STORY TRAY 3. FIVE LITTLE CHICKADEES FELT STORY BOARD 4. MELTED CRAYON EGG DECORATING ACTIVITY 5. EASTER EGG COLLAGE ACTIVITYA post shared by Serenely (@livingserenely) on …

Still reading, still learning

Since my last reading update, I’ve been working steadily through my wish list of books to read with the kids. We’ve finished several other Roald Dahl classics, the first two books in C.S. Lewis’ ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series, and the first book in Laura Ingalls’ ‘Little House’ series.The latest book we’ve just finished and absolutely loved was E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’. Nathan got especially got caught up in all the emotional ‘feels’ in the story. But kids are surprisingly very accepting on the subject of mortality. Though I doubt they’ll ever look at spiders in the same way ever again.On my own reading list, I just finished Noah Gordon’s ‘The Physician’ which is a historical fiction set in 11th century England and Persia. The story centres around an orphan boy grows up to become a surgeon and makes a dangerous journey to Persia to study medicine. Perspectives on the three major religions of that era (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) are explored in the melting pot of the ancient…

Backyard Makeover

One of the big projects I planned last year was to give our backyard a major overhaul.Here’s an overview of how it looks like now after the overhaul!When we first laid out the garden, we had envisaged a sort of zen-inspired landscape…Over the years, our family grew and evolved. Things got added into the backyard to keep up with the changes. Various plants and a few fruit trees. Outdoor toys and play equipment. A sandpit. Even more so since I started my family day care. We tried to make the most of the existing landscape and work with it to accommodate the various add-ons.But it was hard to stay on top of the mowing and the weeds. The original landscape just got lost in the midst of all the changes.So I rolled up my sleeves and got down to business. I did up a plan and list of materials. I applied for a small grant from the local council and got a modest sum of money to supplement the cost of materials.I found a great guy to do the heavy lifting with digging up the whole backyard so we…

Recipe: Baked Nian Gao

Nian gao or sticky rice cake is a classic Chinese New Year treat. The cake was featured in one of our favourite reads last month ‘The Nian Monster’ by Andrea Wang, where the notorious monster was defeated by the super sticky cake made from glutinous rice flour.The kids were curious to know what this cake tasted like. I’m not really a big fan of the traditional steamed version of nian gao. Then I remembered a baked version that one of my aunts used to make every year for my family’s Chinese New Year reunion dinner.So I tracked down the recipe and found the recipe surprisingly uncomplicated. It was so simply that I decided to whip up a monster load of the cakes to give away to friends.If you’ve never tasted this version of nian gao before, I highly recommend it. This cake tastes best freshly made, so you will unlikely find it being sold in the shops. Here’s the recipe if you are interested to give it a try…Ingredients400g glutinous rice flour 1 tspn baking powder 2 ½ cups milk/coconut mil…

Celebrating Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year is generally not officially celebrated here in Australia (no public holiday or big fanfare at the shops). But it is becoming a bigger deal over the past few year, particularly with the increasing emphasis on multiculturalism and embracing diversity.I went all out this year with all sorts of Lunar New Year themed activities:A Chinese New Year sensory/discovery tray;
A Chinese banquet (complete with little felt dumplings);
Cherry blossom branches with pink crepe paper blossoms; and
A scissor cutting practice tray with old ang-pow packets.The big favourites were the felt dumplings (which were used in various pretend/imaginary play set ups); and this discovery/sensory tray – the base material used were red adzuki beans (not recommended for babies or very young toddlers) which the children enjoyed scooping and pouring to their hearts content. ~~~~~ For our own family festivities, I cooked a big family dinner on the first day of the Lunar Year. Then over the weekend, we track…

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Catch up with me on Instagram @livingserenely