From all of us at Children Today, thank you IKEA Carson for investing so much time and effort, and so many resources into this IKEA Life Improvement Challenge week. We thought we were getting a redecorated lobby. We got that, and so much more!
What a beautiful, cheerful and welcoming space! It's just how we want to greet our families and guests.
It's Christmas in July, folks. Our new best friends at IKEA Carson just asked the teaching staff what other things they needed in their classrooms and then came back with - basically - all of those things.
I could go on.
Stay tuned for even more wonderful things from IKEA as our Life Improvement Challenge week continues.
Back in April, we won the IKEA Life Improvement Challenge to make over a space in our beautiful Eco House facility (thanks to all of you who voted for us)!
This week, our new friends from IKEA Carson have come out in force to build furniture, decorate our lobby, and provide us with storage solutions for our offices and classrooms.
We are so excited to have IKEA Carson working with us this week and can't wait to see the finished product! We'll keep you posted!
By Tondra Gardner
What better way to kick off our first summer in our new child care facility than with...
The World Forum Nature Action Collaborative for Children introduced International Mud Day back in 2011 in order to bring awareness to the growing need to connect young children with nature. Children Today joined the celebration by providing a variety of mud experiences to engage the infants, toddlers, and preschool children at their various stages of development.
It was an amazing day of discovery, math, and science as our children were provided the opportunity to experience that…Dirt + Water = Mud (and a whole lot of fun)!
Over the recent past months, Children Today has been very fortunate. We have received numerous gifts and donations from new and long-time supporters. Two of our newest supporters include Ralph Salcedo, a 7th grader from Leeland Middle School and Rachel Perry, a Girl Scout from Troop 2113. These two young people exemplify giving at its best. Robert recently gave $500 to Children Today, the result of a school project. We were very pleased to be the recipient of such a generous gift, and more importantly, from a person who is learning the importance of giving at such a young age. We were equally excited to receive several boxes of Girl Scout Cookies from Rachel and her friend/neighbor Emily Furuta. Rachel gave a total of 50 boxes of cookies and Emily gave 10. Rachel is also learning the importance of giving back and sharing. It was very important for her to share the cookies with the children and families served by our organization. Rachel's father, Robin Perry is Children Today board member.
Children Today is pleased to announce that Tonya Burns has been named executive director. With a decades-long career in the fields of social work, mental health, and child care, and with vast knowledge of operations, program management, and resource development, Tonya is ideally suited to lead the agency into a new phase of growth and excellence.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tonya to Children Today,” Bonnie Lowenthal, the agency’s board president said. “We know she’ll make important contributions, not just to Children Today, but to the wider Long Beach service community.”
Tonya comes to us with a wealth of education and relevant experience. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago and over 30 years’ experience in the social services field. Here are just a few of her impressive career highlights:
“I am thrilled to work at Children Today. It is my hope to build upon the excellent work provided by the staff and board members of Children Today and to work with the greater Long Beach community to provide additional services to children and their families.”
Tonya has a deep commitment to working on behalf of vulnerable and under-served populations and is passionate about addressing trauma. As a Long Beach resident, she is also invested in making our community a better place. We are lucky to have her join us in our work.
By Elia Rocha, Rachel Moore, & Alexis Vazquez
Earlier in the year, we ran a post titled Books We Love, which highlighted some of our preschool classroom's favorite reads. Here again, two of our teachers share some more favorites.
By: Mary Quattlebaum
Alexis Vazquez writes:
"This book is about a little girl and her mother on their way to visit her Nana. They board the subway and the girl is amazed by the sights and sounds of the people and animals that she sees while riding the train. She encounters the whoosh of the tracks beneath her, the buzz of the people, the sights of the animals and the rush of the passengers as she looks out the window."
"The children love listening to this book and talking about the things that they see while taking the bus with their parents. The book opens up a discussion about the things they see and places they go with their families while on the bus, in a car, or on train."
The Chocolate-Covered Cooke Tantrum
By Deborah Blumenthal
Rachel Moore writes:
"This book is about a girl named Sophie who sees a chocolate-covered cookie and decides that she wants one. When her mother lets her know that she does not have a cookie for Sophie, Sophie becomes very upset and has a tantrum. The book explores Sophie’s feelings and her physical reaction to being told 'No'. Sophie’s mother tries to give Sophie some other options, but eventually Sophie just needs to experience all of her big feelings until she calms herself down. She then asks for her blanket, takes her mother’s hand and walks home. After Sophie takes a nap and eats supper, her mother -surprises her with a chocolate-covered cookie!"
"This book opens the door for discussions about children’s feelings. These discussions help foster attachment with us by giving the children a safe place to talk about their feelings."
I Can Do It Too!
By Karen Baicker
"This book is about a little girl learning to become independent and showing her family that she can do it too. This is a short picture book with simple sentences describing a family doing simple activities, such as pouring juice into a cup and putting on shoes. The little girl’s reply is always the same, 'I can do it too!'”.
"The book is a simple story of a young girl trying to learn to do things for herself and the children can relate to her because they too are learning to become independent in their daily activities."
By Carol K. Lindeen
"This non-fiction book is filled with real pictures of ambulances, EMTs, and patients. It clearly explains, in simple language, what the ambulance does and how EMTs help people. This book explains to the children that ambulances and EMTs, which could seem scary, are actually meant to help hurt and sick people."
The Way I Feel
By Janan Cain
"This picture book talks about experiencing different emotions, such as silly, happy, disappointed, jealous and many others. The illustrations show the different emotions through colors and words. The book helps our children put names to their feelings and opens up a discussion on how they feel in different situations, not just during conflict and disappointment, but in happy and exciting situations as well."
By Cheryl Ichikawa
In this art activity the infants at Play House West are creating artwork by making their car “vroom” through different colored paints.
In their paintings, they are creating a feeling of texture by rolling cars through the globs of paint, making tire marks (parallel lines) across the canvas.
They are observing the cause and effect of paint mixing as they pull the cars back and forth through the different colored globs. And naturally, they could not resist feeling the texture of the paint by squeezing the it in their hands.
For all infants, younger and older, art is a way for them to experience their world through their senses…. sight, smell, taste and touch (in some cases, even sound). Art also allows them to explore different and inventive ways of using common objects.
By Cheryl Ichikawa
It has been said that “everything happens for a reason.” That life has a plan for each one of us, based upon our sensibilities, understandings, and life experience. For me, coming to Children Today was not an intention, but began as an intriguing opportunity.
In Dora’s blog post, It’s a Tough Job But Someone’s Got to Do It: Hiring the Right Staff, she talks about what she looks for when recruiting and interviewing potential candidates. How she and her management staff look beyond the educational and experiential aspect of the candidate and try to get a glimpse of the person.
For me, my pre-interview began in the classroom. As my instructor, Dora gained a semester-long glimpse into my sensibilities, philosophy and understanding about children. Through in-class discussions and side-bar inquiries, Dora learned about who I was, not only as an interested student, but as a concerned mother of two.
In her blog post, she also talked about candidates needing to have courage and an ability to grow with each new challenge. What Children Today offers candidates is not only a place to gain valuable experience, but even more importantly, a place to grow personally, as well as professionally. The courage that a candidate must have comes from within. It is the willingness to be reflective when things seem to go wrong or failure seems to be part of your daily experience. It’s about being cognizant about how your actions and words can affect others. It’s about being open to new ways of thinking and always siding with empathy and compassion over judgment. But most importantly, it’s about being persistent and having the understanding that through mistakes and failure we grow and gain valuable insight into the needs of the children and ourselves in the process.
However, the true test is in a candidate’s ability to connect with the children and their families. Our work is relationship-based, which means that progress happens after a level of trust is established. While some children (and families) welcome you with open arms, others will make you work hard to earn their trust, which can be very challenging.
While this work may not be for everyone, Children Today has given me a place to grow as a teacher, mother and member of society. The experience I have gained has greatly impacted my understanding about society and the human condition. Here I have learned how trauma affects lives. However, along with building relationships, creating a safe environment, and providing opportunities for learning and exploration, what keeps me coming back are the smiles and hugs that greet me each morning. For me, that is the greatest reward of all.
By Dora Jacildo
I love this organization and am grateful to every staff member who contributes to our ability to provide the best possible services to the children and families in our care. Like many agencies, we are a family.
A very successful executive once told me that he would never hire someone he wouldn’t be willing to invite to his home for dinner. I feel the same way. Every person, regardless of their title, makes a meaningful impact on the culture of our organization. It is what has made Children Today an attractive place to work for many.
Our philosophy is intended to touch every person that walks through our doors. When we recruit and interview potential candidates, our criteria goes beyond education and experience and really looks at character, emotional intelligence, and competencies.
We are most concerned with assessing:
· Ability to build relationships
· Ability to give of themselves to others
· Ability to see the opportunity for growth with every challenge
· Grace, kindness, empathy
· Maturity, wisdom, self-awareness
Children Today, like many other organizations, provides on the job training opportunities, workshops, staff development meetings, and retreats. However, we recognize that there are core values that we all hold as individuals that make our work with children and families possible. The implementation of our program forces all of us to be reflective in order to ensure that we are meeting the needs of those we support. Our trauma-informed service delivery model puts the focus on “doing no harm” to families that have suffered many injuries. Our anti-bias curriculum challenges more traditional ways of engaging children in a conversation about the world they live in. Our daily interactions with children who are chronically stressed strengthen our commitment to them and to each other. Our awareness of the innocence that’s been lost unites us in our grief.
We recognize that not everyone can do this work. We also know that no amount of education or work experience can prepare you for what we expect from our employees. The quest to understand how to live a life of service is something very personal. All we can do is try our best to identify candidates whose life mission is a complement to what we’re about.
Various members of the Children Today staff contribute to these blog posts.