Friday, December 18, 2009

Review: A Survival Guide for Child Care Providers

While picking up some travel books at the library, it occurred to me that they probably also had some books on parenting that might be helpful for our upcoming foster adventure. So, I made my way over to those stacks of books. As I was flipping through titles, Karen Levine's A Survival Guide for Child Care Providers caught my eye. It was slim, and bright yellow - I was sold enough to rent it from the library.

I have to say, I am really impressed with this little volume. The book is made up of bite-size chunks of advice for folks who run child care centers. While some of the advice was specific to running a daycare (something I'm not planning on doing anytime soon), most of it seems to apply to caring for children in general. There were actually a number of things I liked about the book:

  • It's a super fast read
  • It talks about my favorite psychological state - Flow, which automatically gives the author points in my book
  • It's mostly practical advice, but there's also a smattering of child development theory too. This theory helps explain why some practices make as much sense as they do
  • An impressive range of topics is covered, especially given the size of the book
  • The language and strategies discussed in the book seem to dovetail well with the training we received
  • It's interesting to get a day-care provider's view of children, and if nothing else, gives you a sense as to how a well run child care should function

From a foster parenting perspective the book is nice for two reasons. First, it covers a whole range of ages from infant through toddler. So regardless of the age of our first placement, I'll feel like I'm just a little bit more prepared. Secondly, because the book is written from a child-care provider's perspective, it assumes that there are other interested parties in the picture (such as parents!) who you'll need to work with. This is also the case with foster parenting, where there are birth parents, social workers, and others who play key roles in the child's life.

Is this the only book on parenting you'll ever need? Definitely not. And of course, I have no idea if the advice will actually be useful or effective. But, given its size, how well it's written, and the range of advice it covers - I think it's a winner. I give it a 9.5/10.0.

What books on parenting do you recommend?


  1. Anonymous2:38 PM

    It's a bit of a broad question. Like if I asked you, "What kind of book on programming do you recommend?" It all depends on what I'm trying to accomplish, right?

    There are parenting books on discipline, behavior, sleep, feeding, age-appropriate activities, etc. etc. etc.... And within those categories there are different "philosophies." You could go crazy. You might be better off judging a book by its cover, like you did with this one! ;-)

  2. jerseygirl77 -

    A fair point. And of course, one of the tricky parts of studying up on foster care is you just don't know what topics you'll be dealing with (a fussy infant, or a after school ideas for 8 year olds).

    The programming question isn't really hard to answer. If you know nothing about programming, start with HTDP, and if you know something about programming read SICP.

    Of course, once you've read those books, your point about answering the question "what do you want to accomplish" is absolutely the case.

  3. While I agree with Lori's comment, there are some places to start to help you decide what kind of guardian/parent you want to could choose a book on educational theories as your basis. From there, you will learn what specifically piques your interest and what you need/want to learn more about. I personally believe strongly in Jean Piaget's theories (not taken to an extreme) and as you already know, Maria Montessori's (also not to an extreme), in reference to very young children. Montessori's philosophy is very closely based on Piaget's theories. I would recommend books that paraphrase either/both of their works (books by them are SO difficult to understand and interpret in today's language). A good author of Montessori-philosphy books is Paula Polk Lillard. You can use either/both principles/theories without committing to a specific kind of education (or way of life). It will just give you a good basis for working with young children (birth through age 6-8). After that age, I'm clueless too! :-) I can't wait to hear more about your adventures.

  4. Erin -

    Thanks for the tips!

    Jean Piaget actually has a programming connection (with his work on the Logo Programming Language) - so he's got to be a good guy ;-).

    I'll have to see what the library has on both Piaget and Montessori.