Kristina Gilman Interview:
This is File 71, cycle2. Today’s date is Sept. 27, 2017. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Kristina Gilman who is one of the Head Teachers at the Housatonic Child Care Center. She is going to talk about what she does during the day and all of the little ones that she takes care of. First we will start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
KG:Kristina Ann Gilman
JM:When were you born?
KG:May 15, 1976
JM:Where were you born?
JM:Your parents’ names?
KG:David and Rita Gilman
KG:I have lots of them: Tanya, Kristina, Steven, Jason, Kenneth, and Justin.
JM:That is where you got your early childhood education?
KG:Pretty much. I was taking care of little brothers.
JM:Your educational background is not early childhood but art.
KG;It is art.
JM:Is it graphic art or…
KG:It is not graphic art although I am interested in it and would love to learn more about it. I work with many different mediums: acrylic, pastels, chalk, and pencil – everything.
JM:Are you a naturalist or abstract?
KG:I do abstract art. I don’t always stick to one thing. I use pieces from recycled material, art with nature. I am eclectic in my work.
JM:That is wonderful because it stretches the imagination.
KG;I agree. Since kindergarten I knew I wanted to be an artist, this in only me. I love it.
JM:Good and keep at it.2.
KG:I am trying.
JM:It is hard when you work.
KG:It is hard because it takes the focus off and then you get tired at night. You don’t have the time for that. I actually stopped working of Fridays. That is the only day that I have to myself and can focus on my work.
JM:You need it.
KG:it was a hard decision and financially it cuts back a bit.
JM:But you make sacrifices for your art.
JM:You need that because it sparks your interest and that is what keeps you going.
KG:It keeps me alive.
JM:Absolutely! You live in Otis, Mass and you are working in Salisbury, Conn. So that is an hour drive. Is it worth it?
KG:For now it is. Will things change in the future for you?
KG:I hope so. My goal at some point is to be able to work from home and work with my art. I want to be able to write my children’s book and illustrate it and settle down at some point in my life. I want to focus mainly on that. But it is not the right time.
JM:How long have you been at the child care center?
KG: Almost 12 years. October will be 12 years.
JM:Who was the Director when you came?
JM:You do toddlers 2 year olds?
KG:Yes, I work with the 2 year olds and I also help with the one year olds as well. I primarily work with the 2 s. There is one room for the toddlers which is divided by age. The 1s will come over to the 2s to visit so we work with them.
JM:The maturity level would be slightly different.
JM:For motor skills, what kind of activities do you use for large motor skills?3.
KG:We have bikes for them. We have balls. We have little scooters that they sit on and move around. We have little square scooters and we have them scoot across the floor and around some cones. We take them into the field to run, to walk. We have climbers for them so they get a lot of gross motor activities. We have a basketball area.
JM:Do you work with fine motor skills as well?
KG:Oh no every day we it is fine motor skill activity. With the older 2s are able to start using safety scissors. They can just snip, snip, snip. We use little plastic tweezers for them to pick up pompoms or plastic clothespins. We encourage them all to open and close lids on cups. They love zippers. I am a little scared to wear a sweater as they try to zip it up to the top. “Don’t get my skin!” I have had that happen! Practice on something else! Every day they get activities for fine motor skills. Sometimes it is just holding a crayon or chalk or a colored pencil there is so much going on every day.
JM:They are not aware of it, but you are.
KG:They are not aware of it.
JM:Social skills, I know you do a lot with social skills.
KG:We do. I encourage them to use their words every day to express their feelings, their emotions. We say it out loud; when they are feeling a certain way, we say it out loud so they understand what it is that they are feeling. We have little conversations at the tables during story time. We read books. We encourage them to play with each other. It is great that they have time to play alone as well; we also suggest they invite your friend over to play. It is nice for you to say hello. It is nice to say good bye. We also encourage please, and thank you. Ask your friend if he would like to play with you, to roll a ball with you. This is how we get that socialization skill enforced. Some kids will get attached to one person, but it is good to have them do something with another person. They get that social interaction as well. Not just one but it is important that they are comfortable with the other grown-ups in the room.
JM:Different people react differently: you need to have the skills to know what somebody else is expressing. There may be a different reaction than what you are used to. What do you teach them for safety measures?
KG:We do talk to them a lot about doors. A door is one thing because they always want to open the door. It is nice that you want to do it, but when you are in school, teachers open the door for you. They can pinch their fingers in the door as people are coming in and out. We talk a bit about that. Sitting at the table properly is a safety lesion. If they do push their chairs back and they fall over, they learn not to do that again. It is important. We do fire drills every month. That is very important. They get scared from the sound. We talk to them before the noise begins; we show them pictures and point out where the exits are. We explain what happens. It does make a loud sound, you are going to be scared and cover your ears, but this is what we are going to do. Explaining about the safety, modeling the actions, and allow plenty of time for them to follow the directions. There are plenty of times when they are
running around the room and fall, ouch, ouch.” Am I supposed to run inside?” “No.” “Where do you run?” “Outside.” Inside we walk. Modeling also is helpful.
JM:How about hygiene?
KG:They have to wash their hands when they come in after being dropped off. They must wash their hands before they can play. “Take all the germs from home and in the car and leave them in the sink. Then you can play.” They wash their hands before they eat, when they come in from the playground, after diaper changes they need to wash their hands. If they are learning, and some of them can do it, to wipe their own noses with a tissue. They try and some need help. After that, “Now you need to wash your hands.”
JM:Do they ever come with handkerchiefs anymore?
KG:No it is just tissues. That is more sanitary but I guess so. It depends. They need to wash their hands afterwards.
JM:Would you give me a general idea of your daily routine?
KG:First when they come in, they put their stuff away, wash their hands. They then get to free play from 7:30 to 9:00. The toys will be set up and arranged in a way to encourage use. There may be an activity set up or an art project set up or a sensory thing set up that they can do. They have water play in the morning. We have the rice table open. We have goop which they love to play with. Goop is just cornstarch and water; it is the best stuff. Playdoo can be ou8t. This week we are doing the 5 senses so we have a huge bin of all different sensory things for them to feel; sticky things, smooth, and soft. There are all sorts of fun things for them to play with. There are water bottles with leaves or sequins in them for the kids to shake up. Then we have midmorning snack. Sometimes we will do circle time. It is not always done as it may not be age appropriate. To sit for 15 or 20 minutes is a lot for toddlers. If the kids want to come and listen they can or do something else. In circle time we read books. We do a lot of songs and finger play. They really like that. We get them up and moving sometimes too: they jump up and down of “If you are Happy and you know it.” There is lots of stuff for the kids to do. We also try to show them shapes and/or colors before they go to wash their hands. We will hold something up and ask, “What shape or color is this?” If they get it wrong, it’s fine. “Oh it is blue.” “Thank you. You may go wash your hands.” They start learning and catch on quickly. We even do letters, the beginning letter of their names. They catch on that. After morning snack is diaper change, toileting, potty training. If it is beautiful outside, any day that is nice, we are going to live outside as long as possible. In the winter time we do take them outside if it is not too cold. We have a tumble room that is all padded with mats on the floor and we have thick cushions that we set out. They climb on those to burn up energy and just play in there if it is too cold outside or if it is raining. We do bring snow inside so they can play with it. After that at 11:30 it is lunch time they eat, they have conversations at the table.
JM:Do they bring their own lunch?
KG:They do. All their snacks and lunch is brought from home. The preschoolers are a little different. They have their own snack program, but not the toddlers. After lunch it is toileting and hand washing. At 12:30 it is nap time. The best time of the day! They sleep pretty well. A lot of them will fall asleep by 12:45 and others fall asleep by 1:00 PM. That really is not bad. They sleep until 3:00. Today we had to wake up a couple of them. 3:00 is the deadline. After that we have afternoon snack to 3:15. The rest of the day is free play either outside or if they are really into what they are playing with this gives they time to play. If the child did not get to do an art project or an activity that we had planned earlier, they have the opportunity to do that now. They have to clean up and put the toys away. They like to help cover the sand box with the big tarp. That is their day.
JM:It is a good day. (See File #59 Blair Ackerman)
KG:Yes, it is a busy day.
JM:It is a very busy day. One of the things Blair said was that it was very intense.
KG:It can be very loud, especially when you’ve got one kid not feeling well, or mom just dropped off another one. One is crying and another chimes in and another hits his head. It gets to be very loud.
JM:What do you have for playground equipment?
KG:We have a sand box, a little basketball net, and 2 different climbers. One climber is just a little ladder and the slide. The other climber is bigger; it has the stairs that go up, a little pathway, it has a little window, a ship’s steering wheel with a telescope and a slide. They can crawl underneath both of the climbers. With the smaller climber there are holes which look like Swiss cheese which is fun because they can crawl through the holes to get in and out of the climber. This is great for their gross motor skills, too.
JM; I think you told me you can only have 8 toddlers at a time on the playground. You have divided the playground so that you can have the 16 toddlers out all at once.
KG:We did. We are only allowed to have 8. We recently put up fencing so now we can have 16 toddlers on the playground.
JM:What is the surface of the playground?
KG:There is grass in spots; there is a lot of sand now, they have been dumping sand out of the sand box. We have moved the sand box so whatever was left over there is still there. There are wood chips only in the area of the 2 climbers. We had to have that from DPH. We have an infant maze which is not very big. It has a little tunnel into which they can crawl. There are little beads inside that they can hit and will spin. They kids like to climb up on top of the tunnel and sit there and pretend they are on a train. We also have a dramatic playhouse out there as well. The kids like to practice balancing and walk along the top of the sandbox on the sides there. We do have a balance beam that can be broken up into
pieces on a rope that is attached to it. We take that out and they do pretty well with it. It is not very high. It is just something for them to practice their balance which is great for their eye hand coordination.
JM:You have a Music Man who comes in twice a month?
KG:We do. Tom Hannaford has been coming since before I started so it has been a long time. He is great. He was just here Tuesday. It is nice to hear him sing. He does not normally teach but this past Tuesday the way he was singing it felt more like a performance. It was really cool to hear his voice because the kids mimic him. It was pleasant to hear that. The kids get going with their tones; they follow with the blubber tone. He’ll do stop and start, and little things like jumping up and down and then stop. Then they will stop. He gets them moving. He has a basket of instruments that he brings in. They just dive in. He just dumps them out. He is pretty good.
Miss Molly from the library comes and reads to the toddlers and Pre-schoolers. She comes in the winter too. The kids came here to the library. They walked here a couple of times. We never taught the toddlers to walk here to hear a story. Most of the time she comes to us. She will bring little things and get them up and moving too, finger play songs. She has lots of finger play songs.
JM;How about field trips?
KG:We just had a field trip to pick apples. It is always busy. Any field trip with toddlers is going to be busy. It went well. We got there. We take the bus which has little safety seats for the kids. We don’t put their car seats on. They ride that. We went for a hay ride. They got to pick apples. They could eat their apples. Next we will go pumpkin picking in October. In the summertime we go to the Grove to go swimming. It is great for them. We have been going to the Grove for years. They always enjoy it but it is a lot of work for an hour or an hour and a half. It is very intense. There it is one to 2 while we are at the beach. In school or on a field trip it is 1 to 4.
JM:What haven’t I asked that I should? What have I missed?
KG:WE have fund raisers every year. We have done book fund raisers. We have done photos for a fund raiser. Right now we are doing pies. We have done that in the past. WE did candles one year. The Big Rig is always a lot of fun. That is one of our biggest fund raiser. It is one that the kids can come to. The past one that we did I felt was better that the ones we have had in the past because we had actually had a DJ this year. He was great; he played the best selection of music that I have heard DJs play. It was good. We’ll fire him for my wedding. It was fun. Sometimes you can dread them. This one was good.
JM:Thank you so much Kristina. It has been very educational for me..
KG:You are welcome.