In most early learning programs, children move from classroom to classroom as their skills develop. Usually, teachers are trained to teach one age group and therefore lead a new group of children every year. Research shows that for young children, consistency in care is critical to development. With this in mind, PMCCP has implemented a ‘looping’ system. In the looping system, teachers move through the program with the children. The children are cared for in age groups based on when they go to kindergarten. This way, children and teachers move together through the program in classroom cohorts.
Theoretically, in our looping system a child could have the same caregiver for several years. Research validates this model based on the following assumptions:
• Learning is best fostered in the context of consistent trusting and nurturing relationships.
• Staff turnover negatively impacts a child's development.
• In order to provide a culturally sensitive program, caregivers must have strong, trusting relationships with families, which can only be fostered through consistent contact and interaction.
We believe this system gives teachers, children, and families a much greater opportunity to form the kinds of bonds that best nurture children and help to build relationships based on openness and trust. The looping model also provides our teachers with a strong understanding of children’s development. Because they work with their students for several years, they have extensive knowledge of a continuum of skills and can focus on each child’s next steps, supporting their individual growth.
Good nutrition is critical for optimal development and growth. Pike Market Child Care and Preschool is dedicated to providing a meal program that not only meets every child’s current nutritional needs, but that also establishes healthy eating habits that will serve as a foundation for a healthy life.
PMCCP’s meal program follows USDA guidelines and is designed to meet 70% of a child’s nutritional needs by providing breakfast, lunch, and two afternoon snacks each day. Our menu focuses on serving exclusively whole grain bread, pasta, and rice, and on including fresh fruits and vegetables, which come primarily from the market.
Meat dishes are served for lunch on two different days each week, with balanced, alternative protein sources being served on the other three days.
Meals are served family-style, which benefits the child in several ways. First, it provides the child with an opportunity to work on fine motor skills. Secondly, this style of eating gives the child a sense of ownership over his or her food choices. Thirdly, this style is a spring board for learning appropriate portion sizes. Lastly, family-style meals give children the chance to build positive, caring, interactive relationships with their peers. Our meals are seasoned for the preschooler's palate and meal times are a happy, exciting part of the children's day.
Meal Program Objectives:
Provide healthy, nourishing meals that instill a love of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats or balanced alternative protein.
Encourage children to be adventurous eaters by creating a menu that includes familiar favorites while incorporating diverse new foods.
Educate families, volunteers, and staff on what foods are part of a nutritious diet, what serving sizes are appropriate for young children, and how to best shape healthy food habits for life.
Our meal program is also part of an ongoing effort to “go green.” All of our kitchen food waste and mealtime table scraps are composted and we are currently using compostable flatware, bowls, and spoons when “disposables” are needed. We recycle all plastic, glass, cans, paper, and cardboard.