Fredericksburg Parent

March 2018

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28 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • March 2018 28 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • March 2018 WRITTEN BY LEIGH ANNE VAN DOREN What Makes a Level 4 Infant Care Room? Look Down! On a gloomy February Monday, my day was brightened by a visit to a Virginia Quality Level 4 infant care classroom. Outside was rain, galoshes and umbrellas, but inside a cheery large room covered with soft mats and interactive toys held almost twenty active infants and five teachers…mostly engaged and on the floor. Local childcare cen- ter Kindercare at 29 Greenspring Drive in North Stafford, recently earned the Level 4 rating from the state's Virginia Quality program. Engaging with the babies and playing on the floor is just a small part of what it took to reach one of the highest levels available from Virginia Quality. "As a regional rater I was so thrilled to see this center reach their Level 4 goal," says Trudie Knapp, Virginia Quality Regional Rater. "It's a significant achievement. Their teacher team truly operates as a family and it is wonderful to see their sustained efforts to create a high-quality environment be recognized." DON'T FENCE THEM IN How does playing on the floor improve childcare quality exactly? "One of the things that strikes you as you come in, as a Virginia Quality Technical Assistance Specialist or Rater, is that the typical infant "containers," like bouncy seats, exersaucers, or high chairs aren't in use. All of these babies have free range of movement. Even the very youngest are placed on boppy pillows that allow them to reach and interact with the toys around them." says Courtney Harris, Virginia Quality Infant/Toddler Coordinator. Kindercare center director Kristina Bell agrees with Harris that the lack of "containers" provides significant advantages to the babies. "Kindercare has had a company-wide policy of providing the least restrictive environment possible for eight years," says Bell. "It felt really strange when we started the policy to not have exersaucers or high chairs, but our teachers quickly noticed how much faster the infants developed muscles and motor skills, espe- cially pulling themselves up," says Bell. HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? To take advantage of the large amounts of time spent on the floor, many of the pictures and deco- rations are pasted to the floor, rather than the wall. "All of these things on the floor, are really important for the infants development. A lot of times people think it's important to have things on the wall, but it's better to have them on the floor, it's great for tummy time. Setting the infants up for meaningful learning and play meets the environmental requirements set out by Virginia Quality," says Knapp. (See page 29 for standards) Pictures and toys on the fl oor enrich tummy time.

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