Theo the Bear began as a way to welcome new children into the program. I introduced him as a friendly companion they could cuddle and rely on throughout the day. If they wished to take Theo home, they were welcome to do so, but they had to bring him back the next day for more fun. Theo helped children feel more comfortable and secure in the classroom, making the transition smoother.
After a while, we stopped using Theo because there were no new children enrolling. However, he remained a beloved member of the classroom and became the sharing bear. As a sharing bear, he is available for everyone to take home. I explain to the children how much Theo loves going on adventures and visiting their homes. To enhance his travels, I added some accessories to Theo’s small bag, such as clothes, a brush, and a book. During their birthday week, each child takes Theo home for a week-long trip. Families are then asked to help children record their adventures in the Theo book by adding pictures or drawings. At the end of the week, they share their adventures with the class.
Using family photos from the children in your care is a great way to connect with families and also include culturally relevant images in your environment. These can be a source of comfort and reassurance for children throughout their day.
Diane Ott, owner of Happy Kids, added photos of children in her care to a table that is used for meals and also other activities throughout the day by placing them under a clear plastic table cover.
Sandy Cole, owner of Sandy’s Kids, has a display of family pictures on a wall near the dramatic play area. The leaves on the trees in the display have the names of all of the children Sandy has cared for over the years.
Where might you include photos of children’s families in your family child care home?