Reopening ECIs – Protocols for Children and Families

Picture source: http://www.news-star.com/news/

Today’s blog is a continuation of a series of blogs to share the protocols for the reopening of ECIs. The protocols are outlined in the Reopening Early Childhood Institutions For Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document which can be accessed from the ECC’s website. 

Protocols for Children and Families

  • If parents/family members in the child’s household are sick or have been in close contact with someone who has been exposed to COVID, the ECI should be notified and the children should remain at home.
  • All children should have a medical certificate of good health before entry to school, as is required by ECC Standards. This should be documented in the Child Health and Development Passport or by a letter from a doctor.
    • All children with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, sinusitis, allergies and other flu like illnesses, should have these documented in their Child Health and Development Passport or by a letter from a doctor and confirm that these symptoms are not Covid-19 related.
    • All children with other chronic illnesses such as kidney disease, heart conditions, other chronic conditions and those who have had cancer treatment completed should have this documented in their Child Health and Development Passport or by a letter from a doctor, and there should be an indication that they are able to attend school.
  • Temperature checks should be conducted upon entry to the ECI. ECIs should use a touchless thermometer if one is available. Temperatures that are above 100.4F are considered a fever.
    • If touchless a thermometer is not available, parents should check their children’s temperature at home and report it to the school on arrival.
    • Children’s temperature should be recorded in a daily log by the ECI.
  • ECIs should conduct Health Screening of children for symptoms (coughing, fever, shortness of breath, etc.) by enquiry of parents, and observation of each child for signs of infection such as flushed cheeks, fatigue, or extreme fussiness. The screening should enquire of illness of adults at home.
    • Child symptoms should be recorded and kept in a daily log.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children 2 years and under. There should be mandatory wearing of masks for parents/guardians on school property.
  • Hands must be washed and sanitized frequently, including but not limited to:
    • Upon arrival for the day
    • After toileting/diaper change
    • After contact with bodily fluids
    • After returning inside after outdoor play
    • After handling pets, pet cages or other pet objects that have come in contact with the pet before moving on to another activity
    • Before and after eating
    • When visibly soiled (must use soap and water)
    • Before departure from the school or home
  • All bags and lunch kits are to be stored in designated lockers/shelves
  • Children should be taught fun and engaging daily hygiene lessons, including:       
    • How to properly wash hands
    • How to cough or sneeze into the elbow or a tissue and then throwing it into a closed bin
    • How to sanitizing immediately after coughing or sneezing
    • Avoiding touching mouth, eyes and nose
    • Avoiding touching other children and their belongings

We continue to encourage the public get regular updates from the MOHW at https://www.moh.gov.jm/ and from the ECC at https://ecc.gov.jm/ for relevant information on ECD, including the full Reopening Early Childhood Institutions for Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document.


Reopening ECIs – Physical Layout and Infrastructure

To continue our blog series outlining the protocols for reopening ECIs, in this blog article, we will be highlighting the protocols that are outlined in the Reopening Early Childhood Institutions For Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document that concern the physical layout and infrastructure of early childhood institutions. All the protocols outlined below are mandatory and the full document can be found on the ECC website.

Protocols for Physical Layout and Infrastructure for Early Childhood Institutions:

  • ECIs must utilise the MoHW Self-assessment Checklist. 
  • Guidelines signs for child entry must be in accessible written and poster form on the outside of the premises
  • Guidelines signs for mandatory masks for parents on school property, physical distancing and sanitation protocols are to be accessible on the outside of premises
  • Spots on the ground outside doors of the facility should set the boundary of six (6) feet intervals where parents/guardians may wait safely to pick up their children
  • There should be fully equipped hand-sanitization stations that are within height reach for children to access or to be dispensed by ECI workers
  • Sanitizer must be made with at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 75% isopropyl alcohol or be a product recommended by the MoHW and must be available at all times
  • Hand washing posters suitable for young children should be made available and as required by ECC Standards
  • Large signs/posters suitable for young children must be placed in visible areas promoting other sanitizing protocols
  • Each child must be assigned to his/her own crib as required by ECC Standards. ECIs must ensure that clean bed linen is available and changed daily/weekly
  • Seating in the classroom should be spaced to follow ECC Standards of 20 sq. foot per child and the physical distancing standards of 6 feet
  • There must be an isolation room/corner for children who show symptoms to stay until they are collected by a parent/guardian as required by ECC Standards
  • ECIs should open doors and windows to create circulation of indoors areas
  • Temperature in the classroom must not exceed 30C/ 86F as is required by the Public Health Act
  • ECIs should rearrange seating to allow students to face the same direction
  • ECIs should discontinue use of water fountains

We continue to encourage the public to visit the MoHW website and the ECC website for more information.

Make Summer Your Opportunity for Fun Learning

Picture Source: Good2knownetwork.org

Summer is here but that does not mean learning stops! The beauty about learning is that it is lifelong, constant and it happens even when we are least aware of it. Children are naturally curious about the world around them and every interaction with your child is a learning opportunity. Why not take the opportunity this summer to continue your child’s learning in some fun and interesting ways.

Play-based Learning

You may think you’re just playing with your child but in fact, what you are doing is teaching them valuable skills and knowledge. Play-based learning can be seen as learning through play. It is a familiar concept in early childhood settings where young children’s learning and development are fostered through play.[1] Play is important to children’s development, besides being fun, play helps to develop children’s reasoning, language, physical, social and emotional skills.[2] A simple game with building blocks teaches children mathematical concepts, the nature of the physical world and how to manipulate their environment, which are early foundations for science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) knowledge.[3]

Summer provides a great opportunity for families to relax and enjoy each other’s company and that involves play. Play is not only good for children, it is also great for adults. The benefits of play for adults include relieving stress, making you happy and strengthening your relationships[4]. Research shows that people who engage in play have stronger relationships and are less likely to be involved in criminal activities[5].

Tips for Play and Learning this Summer

Now that we know some of the benefits of play for children and adults, here are a few tips for play this summer:

  1. Hide and Seek – this traditional game is always a hit with children. It involves physical activities and lots of imagination. Who is better at finding the hiding spots in the house and around the yard – you or your children?!
  2. Peekaboo – babies love this one! Engage your baby by covering your face with a blanket or both of your hands for a few seconds. When you reveal your face, you say “Peekaboo!” The Peekaboo game helps babies as they develop object permanence, which is the knowledge that things still exist even when they are not in sight[6].
  3. Ludi – the main board game in many Jamaican homes, is a great game for both children and adults to enjoy. Ludi is a very strategic game that helps with problem-solving which is necessary to beat your opponents and early Mathematics skills for deciding your moves when you throw the dice.
  4. Dominoes – another board game staple for Jamaican family gatherings, Dominoes is a fun game that both children and parents can play. Similar to Ludi, Dominoes involve the critical thinking, strategic moves and Mathematics skills needed to beat your opponents.
  5. Water Play – this play activity is full of fun and helps children stay cool in summer. Besides that, water play presents opportunities for science and Maths learning. During water play, children can learn about the nature of things, what will sink or float. Mathematical concepts such as quantity can be learnt too – full, half-full or empty, less/more and same/different.[7]

Of course, there are lots more fun play activities that you and your children can get involved in that will continue learning this summer. Tell us about some of your play and learn activities in the Comments section!


[1] https://www.tsc.nsw.edu.au/tscnews/what-are-the-benefits-of-play-based-learning#:~:text=The%20Early%20Years%20Learning%20Framework,own%20and%20explore%20different%20materials.

[2] https://www.legofoundation.com/en/why-play/why-learning-through-play-is-important/

[3] https://www.teachearlyyears.com/learning-and-development/view/the-benefits-of-block-play

[4] https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/adults-need-recess-too-here-s-why-you-should-make-ncna887396

[5] https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-importance-of-play-for-adults/

[6] https://dictionary.apa.org/object-permanence

[7]http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=374#:~:text=Water%20play%20fosters%20learning%20in,Problem%2DSolving%20Skills.

Beating the Heat this Summer

Picture Source: clipart-library.com

Summer is officially here and that means longer and hotter days! While Jamaica is blessed with year-round beautiful weather with lots of sunshine and blue skies, our summers are typically very hot. If you live in urban areas away from the coast like Kingston, parts of Portmore and Spanish Town, then you know the temperatures we are dealing with during the summer months. Keeping yourself and your children cool this summer will be a challenge, but don’t fear! Here are a few tips to help!

Clothing

Let your children wear light and loose-fitting clothes. Cotton and linen are two great fabrics for summer as they are considered breathable because they allow air to circulate[1] and heat to leave the body[2]. As little children are very active, natural fabrics like cotton and linen can soak up sweat and help children to stay cool.[3]

Hydration

Keep your children hydrated by providing them with lots of water to drink. If your children drink juices, please ensure you follow the nutritional guidelines for sugar intake.

Beaches and Rivers

Don’t we all love a day at the beach? Now that beaches and rivers have reopened, taking your little ones for a day at the beach or river is always a great way to beat the heat. A day at the beach or river is a longstanding Jamaican family tradition and taking a dip in the cool waters during a hot day is one of the best ways to spend a summer’s day. Jamaica is blessed with lots of beautiful rivers and beaches which are only a few minutes’ walk or a short drive away no matter where in the country you are. If you have the opportunity to take a beach trip this summer, please ensure that you do not leave your children unattended in or near water and that you follow all the COVID protocols and guidelines set out by the Government[4].

Time for Nature

While it might seem counter-productive to spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer months, it can be a good way to beat the heat.  If like many Jamaican families you have a backyard with trees and shaded area, spending time in the shade on a warm summer’s day is a great way to cool down and enjoy nature. Young children are curious about the world around them, taking them outdoors to enjoy the summer breeze can also be an opportunity to teach them about nature. While you are taking in the cool breeze in your backyard, why not take the time to teach your children about the insects that live in your garden, the various plants spotted around the place and the different types of fruit trees that grow in your backyard.

Skin Protection

With summer here and all the fun that comes with it, parents should consider sun protection tips that will protect their little ones from some of the damaging effects of the sun. Here are a few:

  • Try to avoid being outdoors while the sun is at its hottest during the day, this is generally considered to be between 10 am and 4 pm
  • While outdoors, consider making your children wear long-sleeve clothing and brimmed hats to protect their skin from the sun
  • If you use or plan to use sun protectants, check with your child’s paediatrician for guidance on the best options and always read the labels and follow the directions for application of such products

Summer is here, so enjoy it and stay cool!


[1] https://www.stitchfix.com/women/blog/fashion-tips/guide-breathable-summer-fabrics/

[2] https://www.mulberryscleaners.com/blog/stay-cool-4-best-fabrics-summer/#:~:text=Cotton%20is%20one%20the%20best,for%20you%20to%20stay%20cool.

[3] https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/what-to-wear/a22069616/best-worst-fabrics-summer-sweat/

[4] https://jis.gov.jm/beaches-and-rivers-open-june-7/

Connect Positivity…Think!

Picture Source: thehindu.com

I recently had the pleasure of looking up to the sky and seeing not one, not two, not three but eight kites flying! I was immediately a child again, marvelling at all the beautiful kites flying in the clear blue sky. I have such fond memories from childhood of kite season, around April and May, when the neighbourhood children were busy designing and creating their kites. I remember the excitement I felt watching my brother and his friends fly their kites, comparing whose kite was bigger and prettier and whose kite could fly the highest. So, you can imagine my delight that day when I saw eight kites flying high in the sky. Of course, this delight was at the beauty of the kites but also, seeing the kites was in and of itself a great thing.


Not to sound like an oldie but goodie, but kite sightings have been rare in recent years. Think about it, when was the last time you saw kites flying? And how many did you see?


Those kites in the sky signalled to me that in this pandemic, our children were still playing. And that, they were also engaged in executive planning in the creation and design of these kites. I also would like to think that some of them got help from the adults in the family with sourcing materials, help to design and strategies on how to successfully mount their kites. They also probably needed permission to go to the ball field or go on the housetop to fly their kites. One thing for certain though, is that the flying kites represent something bigger: our children are connecting to positivity. If these kites are flying in Kingston, there are probably more kites flying all over the country.

Picture Source: jamaica-gleaner.com


Kite flying is a past time that is fun, interactive, involves learning and achieving a number of skills. This is also true for many games and play activities that children and parents are engaged in this crisis. During the recent curfews, I regularly heard the familiar sound of dice on a Ludi board and Dominoes being slammed on tables in my neighbourhood. Like the children flying kites, families were connecting to positivity during the restrictions with games at home, drawing on old but familiar ways of enjoying family time and the lockdown.


While we do not need an outbreak of COVID-19 to remind us that we need to invest in more positive interactions with our families and children, being together at home has given us extra time to increase those positive interactions. The outbreak has removed some of the trappings of modern life, like, time spent commuting to and being at work, doing school runs and using the weekends to catch up on chores, to allow us to connect and increase our positive interactions.


We know from research the importance of positive and responsive interaction to children’s development. We see it in our own lives that positive interactions in childhood have had a meaningful impact on us. Positive interactions like playtime, reading together, talking, cuddles, warmth and understanding are ingredients for optimum child development. Parents engaging in positive activities like playing games at home, talking and reading together will help our children during this time of crisis and also increase their resilience for whatever else the future might hold.


As we continue to celebrate our children during Child’s Month, let us think about all the different ways we can connect positivity in our daily lives!

What do our children have to say about Christmas?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Christmas is a time for giving and receiving, spending quality time with family and friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying good home-cooked Christmas meals, Christmas cake and sorrel! We know how much our children love Christmas and we wanted to know some of the things they enjoyed doing during the holiday season. So, we asked some of the children of our ECC staff members a few questions and here are their responses. Enjoy!

What do you enjoy doing with your family at Christmas?

 “I like to spend time with them, have lots of fun and go places with them.”  – Z.

 “I enjoy baking with my family and playing Christmas games.” – T.

 “I enjoy going to the beach and visiting my grandma’s house.” – K.

I likespending time with them watching movies, playing games and opening presents.” – J.

 “I like going to grandma’s house, baking cake, cooking with grandma, eating ice-cream and going to the beach.” – K.

What gift would you really like to get this Christmas?

 “An iPod” – T.

 “Dolls” – T.

 “A new phone” – Z.

 “A puppy” – K.

 “Football boots with spikes at the bottom” – J.

What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

 “Opening my gifts and spending time with my family.” – T.

 “Getting together with my family and having a party.” –  Z.

 “The presents!” – T.

 “Spending time with my family.” – K.

 “My favourite thing about Christmas is my family.” – J.

 “I get to watch a lot of Christmas movies, listen to Christmas carols and get presents.” – K.

What is your favourite Christmas Carol?

 “Jingle Bells” – Z. & T.

 “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” – K.

 “Feliz Navidad”- J.

 “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy” – K.

Why do we celebrate Christmas?

 “We celebrate Christmas so that I can get lots of presents!” – T.

 “To show our Christmas spirit.” – Z.

 “We celebrate because Jesus was born on Christmas day.” – T. & K.

 “It is because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and we get together with family and friends.” – K.

 “We celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus’s birthday.” – J.

What is the name of your favourite Christmas movie?

 “Santa Claus” – T.

 “The Grinch” – Z. & T.

 “The Knight before Christmas” – K. & K.

 “Shrek the Halls” – J.

What is your favourite thing to eat at Christmas?

 “KFC popcorn chicken and cake and cookies!” – T.

 “Christmas pudding” – Z.

 “I love to eat curry goat.” – K.

“I love Christmas cookies.” – J.

“Chicken and ham are my favourite.” – K.

Who was born on Christmas Day?

 “Santa Claus” – T.

 “My uncle”- Z.

“Jesus!” – K., J. & T.

What do your children have to say about Christmas? Tell us below in the comments section!

Be the influence: Show Love, Show Empathy, Show Respect

As we continue to celebrate Parent’s Month, we will take a closer look at the theme “Be the Influence-Show love, show empathy, show respect”- These are some of the ways that parents can make a positive impact on their children’s lives and help them to become emotionally stable adults.

Show Love

Image result for pictures showing love to children

Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on your child? Just remembering that moment with your little bundle of joy is delightful, such an amazing feeling isn’t it? This basically sums up the way most parents feel about their children. Although we love our children endlessly, life has a way of getting so busy that we forget to show our children how much we love them. Showing love to your children is essential to their development because it builds their self-esteem, improve their academic performance, improve your communication with them and reduces behavioural problems.  Given the benefits of showing love to children, here are some tips on how to show love to your children everyday:

  • Hug and kiss children daily and remember to say “I love you”
  • Praise your children for something that they’ve worked hard for
  • Set a special time for family to get together and have fun
  • Schedule regular play-time with children.

Show Empathy

Image result for parents showing empathy to children

Children are “little people” that have their own thoughts and feelings, which sometimes are overlooked by adults. As parents, it is our duty to reassure our children that they are not alone and we are here to listen to them.We do this by “putting ourselves in their shoes”. We make their feelings, our feelings and their fears, our fears. When we are able to do that, it shows our children that we completely understand them and they are not alone.This also helps to build a trusting and secure parent-child relationship and teaches our children to have empathy for others. Some of the ways we can show empathy to children include:

  • Allow your children to express their feelings without fear of being punished or ridiculed
  • Understanding your child feelings and let them know those feelings are real, do not dismiss them
  • Repeat what they have said to you the way they said it, this shows you are listening.

Show Respect

respect children

Source: www.http://ageofmontessori.org/

“Respect works both ways”?, I am sure you have heard this saying before. The lesson from this has stayed with me throughout my life. Many adults do not recognize that they have a responsibility to be respectful to children. As parents it is necessary that we show respect to our children so that they will learn to be respectful to themselves and others. But you may ask, how can I be respectful to my children? Some ways parents can show respect to their children are:

  • Allow your children to speak for themselves
  • Allow your children to speak without interruptions
  • Appreciate your children’s individuality
  • Listen to your children’s views.

After reading this article you might have thought of other ways that you can be the influence in your children’s life.                                                                                                                                            Please share your thoughts in the comment section, and follow us for notification on our upcoming Christmas posts. 

References

LaRowe, M. (n.d). 4 Tangible Ways to show your child you love him. Retrieved from https://www.momtastic.com/parenting/106826-4-tangible-ways-to-show-your-child-you-love-him/

Morin, A. (2014). The importance of showing love empathy to kids who learn and think differently. Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/understanding-childs-challenges/talking-with-your-child/the-importance-of-showing-empathy-to-kids-with-learning-and

Taylor, J. (2010). Parenting: Respect Starts at home. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-power-prime/201001/parenting-respect-starts-home

Choosing the Right ECI for Your Child

September is the time of year that many parents are excited to see their young ones off to school. As you wave them off on their first day, did you ever wonder if that ECI is providing the best physical environment for your child’s development?  Do you know what the typical physical environment of an ECI should look like?

Don’t worry! We are here to help!

Standard 4 of the Early Childhood Commission’s 12 Operating Standards for ECIs, outlines that an early childhood institution (ECI) must have physical environments that meet building, health and safety requirements. It should also allow adequate space for children and facilitate their developmental needs.

Why the physical environment important?

The simple fact is that the early years are an important period of children’s development. The environment in which the children spend most of their time has a very strong impact on their development. Take for example, gross motor skills which include running, skipping, jumping and walking, can all be delayed or promoted by the child’s physical environment. At this stage of a child’s development, choosing the right ECI is a very important task for parents. The ECI’s environment must be one that is safe, responsive, stimulating and nurturing, in essence, one that will facilitate the optimal development.

Many children spend most of their day in an early childhood group setting, as such, ECIs are considered children’s “home away from home”. As parents, we should be asking ourselves, is this ECI homely enough for my child? The ideal ECI must include facilities, equipment and materials that foster our children’s development.

Parents, here are some things you need to know about the physical environment of your child’s ECI:

  • All building structures must adhere to the building standards outlined by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development
  • The physical environment of an ECI must be free from all health and safety hazards
  • Each classroom must be properly ventilated and have adequate lighting
  • Both indoor and outdoor areas must be equipped with adequate space to facilitate learning and play

We want the best for our children, so why not get it right from the start?  A good early childhood environment should foster physical, emotional and cognitive development. So let’s choose right by ensuring that your child’s ECI follows the building, health and safety standards of the ECC.

To find out more about our 12 Operating Standards for ECIs, click here.

Welcome to Our Blog

Hello Reader!

Thank you for visiting our blog. We are the official blog for the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).

Who we are

The ECC is an agency of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information of Jamaica. We are the agency that is responsible for regulating and coordinating early childhood services. Early childhood is the period that spans 0-8 years old.

Our Blog

This blog will serve as a medium for communicating with you, our readers, events, research, topics and general information on early childhood development. We see this blog as an opportunity to increase the public’s knowledge of early childhood development (ECD) and the work of the ECC.

We aim, through our efforts here, that ECD will become part of the Jamaican parlance and not only for those who work in the sector but for parents, stakeholders, and members of the general public.

We hope that you will enjoy the content we will curate for you on our blog and that you will not only keep coming back but will also be sharing with your friends and family.

Happy Reading and stay tuned!

Team ECC