12/17/2013 10:09:00 AM Williams in-home daycares
recognized for high quality care
April King comforts Josh Oliver after he wakes from a nap. King received a four star rating from First Things First’s Quality First Program. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Kelly Yazzie (right) enjoys a sunny day with a child at her daycare. Yazzie’s daycare, Kelly’s Kiddie Farm, received a four star rating from First Things First’s Quality First Program. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Two daycare centers in Williams recently earned the second highest quality rating from First Things First's Quality First program.
April's Child Care and Kelly's Kiddy Farm both received four out of five star quality ratings.
According to the organization's website, "First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten."
Quality First is a voluntary program for licensed and regulated child care centers, homes and preschool programs. The program includes staff coaching, money for educational materials, financial support for teachers to learn about early child development, and assistance from experts in child health, mental health, and children with special needs.
After extensive observations, Quality First officials give participating child care centers star ratings based on the center's health and safety practices, staff qualifications, teacher-child interactions, learning environments, lessons, group sizes and child assessment and parent communication.
More information about the program is available at www.qualityfirstaz.com.
April's Child Care
April King has been running April's Child Care for about five years. Prior to that she and her husband ran a group home for abused teenagers in California.
When King first moved to Williams, her next-door neighbor ran a daycare.
"She asked me to watch her kids while she went on vacation and I fell in love with it," King said.
Currently, King has eight children between the ages of zero and six, along with one assistant at her home daycare. She tries to prepare the kids at her daycare for kindergarten.
"A lot of times you think of a home daycare as babysitting," King said. "And I don't sit down and watch TV and have the kids run around. I try to use preschool curriculum. I do open ended activities to help them build their brains."
King tries to incorporate math and reading skills through her play-based daycare center.
"The goal is to help them to learn and show them what they're learning through what they're doing and then give them the passion to learn," she said.
Beverly Howard, whose three-year-old grandson, Josh Oliver, attends April's Child Care, said he is learning the alphabet, numbers, manners and how to speak in complete sentences at the center.
Howard said King is wonderful, and teaches her grandson "everything he needs to know when mom's not around."
Besides the Quality First program, King is also involved in First Things First's Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (TEACH) scholarship. Through that program, King is three classes away from earning her associate's degree in early childhood education at Rio Salado College. After that King hopes to transfer to Northern Arizona University to earn her bachelor's degree, which the scholarship program currently does not cover.
King said it was nice to be recognized for her hard work with the four star rating. Her goal now is to earn a five star quality rating. Besides working on her degree, King is getting accredited with the National Association for Family Child Care and working on her lesson planning to attain that goal.
"I try to do the best job I can for the kids," she said.
Kelly's Kiddie Farm
Kelly Yazzie has been in the daycare business for 25 years. She's been running Kelly's Kiddie Farm in Williams for about 14 years.
"When I started having my own children I started having a daycare," Yazzie said. "I love it. I think it's the best job in the world."
Recently, Yazzie shifted her focus to her three foster children, but she also has one child in her daycare right now.
She said it was a blessing to be recognized with the four-star rating for her work.
Besides Yazzie's monthly coaching support through Quality First, the program has also helped her center by providing grant money to buy materials.
"Being a 25-year-old daycare my toys were getting pretty rugged and needed some refreshing," she said. "So that's been a huge benefit to the program."
Yazzie, who has a degree in early child development, works on letters, numbers, shapes, colors and sight words with her foster and daycare children.
Her curriculum includes social/emotional, language/literacy, mathematics, science, social studies physical development and fine arts objectives.
"It's a lot more than just playing with kids," Yazzie said. "(The state) developed a set of standards for infants and toddlers as they prepare for school, so they're wanting these children to be very challenged and experienced in literature, mathematics, science, kind of your core academic areas but on a toddler level."
However, Yazzie said she does not formally teach the children.
"We talk while we're building blocks about balance and we talk about colors when we're sorting things," she said. "So it's a real hands-on process with toddlers."
Besides the educational aspect, the children also see family roles at the daycare and participate in household tasks in age-appropriate ways. Yazzie said it is beneficial for the kids to see her homeschooling her children and doing laundry, and to help with clearing and wiping the table after mealtimes if they are able to.
"I feel like children at this young age, their best possible place to grow and nurture is at home with mom and dad," she said. "But I try to provide the second best."