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Long Time to Get Ready

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  • Long Time to Get Ready

    I have 12 children (2 years to 4 year olds) and an assistant. It takes us sooooooo long to get ready to go outside during the cold season as its jackets, hats, boots etc. And because it takes so long the children get offtask, misbehaves, and it is constant redirecting. Same when we return indoors. It's exhausting!

    I have just one toilet which adds to the delay but still I think there must be a better way!

    How do you handle this transition- from indoors to outdoors and outdoors to indoors? How can I make this a faster process?

  • #2
    I have done different things depending on the size of the group.

    But works best is to have the kids get ready in groups based on skills. When they are too young to dress themselves, I set them in their highchair and dress them there. (Of course I go out the slider in the kitchen)

    The toddlers get their snow pants laid out and preschoolers follow a chart to know what to get next. I teach the kids to put their hood of their coat on first then their arms.

    Once a child is ready, they sit down in front of the slider with a busy box toy. The infants stay in the high chair and get a toy. I put the infants/young toddlers hat and mittens on after I have my stuff on.

    When we come in, I put the infants/ young toddlers in their chair so they don't wander around and get in every one's way. The toddlers and preschoolers take everything off themselves and put it away. If a toddler needs help, I have a preschooler help them. When they get done, they go sit down in front of the slider and play with a toy.

    I take my stuff off and encourage the infant/ young toddlers to do the same. What they can't get I help them with.

    If a preschooler has to go potty they can.


    • #3
      I have a similar group (12 kids ages 1-5) but work alone.
      We practice practice practice! But we dress as a group.

      My routine is:

      I set out everybody’s snow gear in a circle in the kitchen area

      Each kid puts on their snow pants first.
      Bigs can help little’s and I go around and assist those that need it
      Next comes boots
      Then hats and mittens
      Jackets last so mittens stay tucked under sleeves

      Then I call each kid toward the door so I can do the final tuck, zip, snap and adjustment and out the door we go! It takes us about 15 max to get dressed

      When we come back inside, I instruct each child to take off their hat/mittens, then jacket, then boots, then snow pants putting them on their hooks and in baskets etc as we go.

      We do this twice a day. They pick upon it pretty quick.


      • QueenBee
        QueenBee commented
        Editing a comment's just you with a mixed-age group of 12 children? How do you manage that? My state requires I have an assistant when # 8 arrives so I have not gone past 7 on my own...

      • Blackcat31
        Blackcat31 commented
        Editing a comment
        We are allowed 12 max alone but need an assistant for 14 but the assistant needs to only be 13 yrs old.

        2 adult caregivers are needed if we have I believe 4 under 2 yrs old or 2 infants but I never keep more than 2 under age 2 so mostly I have mostly preschoolers (age 2-4) and then the #11 and #12 spots are required to be 5 yrs old even if not in kindy so I have 2 that are 5 but didn’t go to kindy this year.

        I almost always have 2 redshirt kids or 2 that miss the school cut off date.

    • #4

      Heres what my state ratios look like:

      Click image for larger version

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      • QueenBee
        QueenBee commented
        Editing a comment
        1 adult caregiver is required for every 2 children under the age of 2yo here, which is why I don't take children beneath 2. Assistants have to be at least 18yo.
        I wonder why child/staff ratio varies (sometimes significantly)  as well as age of assistant, from state to state?

    • #5
      I am of no help in this area as I am in the south. Just not south enough to make it simple.

      We get cold, soaking wet and muddy, so getting outside is not difficult, getting back in is. Everyone has to get a bath and into clean, dry clothing after our soggy winter mess, down here. Pajamas for naptime and laundry while they sleep is my only hope. The kids also go through several pairs of wet gloves, each, every day. Bonus: winter clothing sold here is pretty useless, I have to order online.


      • QueenBee
        QueenBee commented
        Editing a comment
        Guess I shouldn't complain huh. Your lucky Littles...sounds like what childhood is supposed to be!
        Perhaps I need to view this routine as self help skills learning and not get inpatient as I do with it.

      • Cat Herder
        Cat Herder commented
        Editing a comment
        No, you definitely have it worse. Mine are not at risk of frostbite or other injury. The stress you are feeling is much, much greater than a little mud and wet floors. I am not even sure I'd know how to dress them right without doing a bit more research. Our state does not even want them out when it's below freezing, so we face no external pressure. Most up north get a kick out of our weather chart:

    • #6
      Mentally reframing the process can help make it less miserable.

      Why are the children with you? To learn life skills. What life skills are involved in getting ready to go outside?

      Recognizing their physical needs and environment: noticing and responding to the need to urinate, looking at the world outside and identifying the season and the weather, anticipating that their bodies will be uncomfortable if they are not dressed appropriately for the weather, identifying the clothing and accessories that will make them comfortable in that weather.

      Understanding ownership and remembering where their own clothing belongs versus the other kids' clothing. Working to get that clothing on. Problem-solving when it doesn't go on correctly. Noticing when other kids are struggling with their clothing. Assisting another child with a skill that they have already mastered.

      Someone is in charge of doing a headcount (in addition to the headcount I am doing, of course). Someone is in charge of grabbing the sign that says "We're around back" so it can go on the door when we head out. Someone is in charge of making sure nobody makes a break for it (in addition to the adult supervision, of course). One kid carries the bin with the sign-out sheet and spare diapers. Another fetches sunhats.

      Yes, it takes forever. But the reason it takes forever is that each one of them must go through this learning process, which requires repetition and escalation of complexity and difficulty. The babies can just sit there while we dress them. The big kids dress themselves, dress the other kids, take on a share of the responsibility. Everybody else is in the midst of learning. This might be the moment of the day when they are learning the most.

      And if parental irresponsibility is slowing you down (clothing that doesn't fit, items missing on a cold or rainy day), kick it back to them: no drop-off without weather-appropriate, well-fitting clothing.
      Last edited by Pestle; 11-28-2022, 12:12 PM.


      • QueenBee
        QueenBee commented
        Editing a comment
        This is it Pestle! The conclusion I came to after reading CH's response. And yours has really explained it well, to the point where I'm feeling a tad embarrassed for forgetting about all of that in the moment. I will blame my temporary back pain which made me wonder if there was a more efficient and less painful (for me) way to complete this routine.

      • Pestle
        Pestle commented
        Editing a comment
        I mean, the only reason I can so quickly break down the way I hack my impatience and frustration is . . . I keep having to return to the right way of looking at this over and over and over again, because my impulse is to look at it the wrong way.