Each year in August, Abeona House closes for a week of professional development. What do we do all week? Read on to find out.
This year we kicked off the week with three hours of medicine administration training. “Nurse Nikki” (aka Nikki Greenaway, certified family nurse practitioner and child care health consultant) taught us about the 8 Rs (right dose, right child, right documentation, etc.) She also answered some of our burning questions about everything from the best way to sanitize a changing table to whether or not to exclude children diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth. By the way, Nurse Nikki offers prenatal, postpartum, and breastfeeding consultations and classes, and I cannot recommend her enough.
On Tuesday yours truly gave a crash course in the Reggio Emilia approach. We talked about what characterizes Reggio and walked through several project examples from The Hundred Languages of Children and my own experience.
Throughout the week, the staff spent lots of time working in their classrooms. In addition to preparing cubby tags, welcome letters, and wish list trees, the staff spent time rearranging and deep cleaning. In the Reggio approach, the environment is often referred to as “the third teacher” because we know that children learn from their hands-on experiences with things in the environment. We strive to have classrooms that are soothing, invite new ways of using materials, and promote smooth transitions between activities. We also really appreciate having the time to clean all the dust bunnies out from under the cubbies!
On Wednesday we were joined by Sharon M. Gancarz-Davies, LCSW, BACS-a Senior Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant at Children’s Bureau of New Orleans. Ms. Gancarz-Davies facilitated a conversation about children and touch. We talked about things like how to respect children’s personal space and privacy while still getting all the diapers changed, how to teach children to respect each other’s bodies, and how our beliefs around things like respect, inclusion, choice, and self-empowerment affect how we approach these topics.
On Friday we rounded out our training with a visit from Ms. Jackie Rodriguez, a trainer from Agenda for Children, a non-profit advocacy and service organization that focuses on the well-being of children. Ms. Jackie gave us an overview of the developmental phases of early childhood and talked about the importance of recording our classroom observations and using them to guide our student assessments and lesson plans.
The week flew by, and before we knew it, we were welcoming our new students into our classrooms. Our next professional development will be at the end of the month (after school) when Emmy O’Dwyer, the founding director of Abeona House, will talk about classroom management the Abeona way. We’re grateful for these opportunities to expand our knowledge on the important and complex task of caring for young children.