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    Objectives
    • Describe what matters most when supervising children and youth.
    • Identify management practices to ensure staff members appropriately supervise children and youth.
    • Apply content of this lesson to ensure that staff members supervise children and youth appropriately.

    Learn

    Learn

    Your Role in the Supervision of Children and Youth

    The single most important way to mitigate risk of harm is for you to make sure staff are vigilant when it comes to the supervision of children and youth. When children and youth aren’t adequately supervised, the risks increase. For example, if a teacher has his or her back to children while talking with another teacher, he or she may not notice that a child has climbed up on a shelf to reach a toy. If furnishings are placed in such a way that visual supervision is obstructed, a teacher may not notice that there is a child on a child. If it's meal time and a teacher forgets the cups for milk and goes to the cabinet to get them, he or she may not see that a child is choking. As the manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that staff adhere to supervision protocols and policies at all times.

    All of these children are at greater risk of getting hurt because the child’s behavior wasn’t redirected (child reaching for a toy), the environment isn’t conducive for visual supervision (furnishings), or the teacher wasn’t in close proximity to intervene in an emergency situation (choking). Children and youth are naturally active, curious, and inconsistent when it comes to remembering and applying safety rules. Therefore it’s up to the adults to be vigilant when it comes to their safety.

    When it comes to supervising children and youth, surveillance is the only approach. Your staff need to think of their role in the supervision of children and youth as being like security cameras: always monitoring and scanning in order to protect. Supervising children and youth is not a sometimes job, it's an all-the-time job.

    As the manager, you are accountable for making sure that effective supervision strategies are utilized by all staff. These strategies include: making direct visual contact with children and youth, conducting frequent head counts throughout the day, arranging the classroom environment to support visual supervision, and adjusting supervision based on the age of the child and the space occupied. For example, school-agers require different levels of supervision than preschoolers to balance safety with their need for independence, and gross motor rooms require different levels of supervision than classrooms. To ensure that staff are supervising appropriately, you need to manage from your feet and not your seat. Is your program’s policy clear about enforcing no personal cell phone use when staff are counted in ratio? When you bring in a new employee, be sure they have a chance to understand and ask questions about your program’s policy for personal cell phone use. Make sure they understand where personal cell phones should be stored during working hours and why your center can be out of ratio when staff engage with their personal cell phones at work. Review the following article from NAEYC by Feeney and Freeman about Smartphones and Social Media: https://www.naeyc.org/system/files/YC0315_Focus_on_Ethics.pdf

    The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that the children and youth in your program are supervised adequately at all times.

    1. Train for Best Practices of Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on best practices for supervising children and youth

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Leave children and youth unattended
      • Position themselves where children and youth aren't within sight and sound at all times
      • Transition from one activity or location to the next without conducting name to face head counts
      • Split up a group of children and youth without each staff member having a list of whom they are responsible for
      • Place furniture including cots and cribs in such a way that it obstructs the ability to see all the children and youth all the time
      • Become distracted (such as extended conversations with colleagues or families, talking or texting on cell phones) which interferes with supervision
      • Allow children to leave with someone who is not authorized to pick them up
      • Fail to communicate a supervision issue because they didn't know how to do so
    2. Analyze for Adequate Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Analyze video recordings and staff schedules for adequate supervision

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Put children and youth at risk as a result of inappropriate practices or inadequate staffing
    3. Monitor Strategies with Frequent Program Walk-throughs

      I Should Always...

      Monitor staff supervision strategies by frequent program walk-throughs and making adjustments if necessary

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Are under the influence of any substance that impairs their ability to supervise children and youth 
      • Fail to adhere to supervision protocols
    4. Communicate Consequences

      I Should Always...

      Communicate consequences for safety noncompliance immediately, and follow through with those consequences for everyone, every time

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Continue to put children and youth at risk because supervision concerns are not immediately addressed
    5. Train for Protocols

      I Should Always...

      Orient new staff in accordance to myPUBLIC program's protocols for the supervision of children and youth

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Fail to adequately supervise because they didn't receive a thorough orientation

    Shared Spaces

    Areas that are used by multiple classrooms of varying ages are particularly troublesome for supervision. These areas may include indoor gross motor rooms, bathrooms, eating areas, outdoor environments, and hallways. The physical layout of many shared spaces can make supervision more difficult, particularly if more than one classroom can utilize the space at the same time.

    The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that shared spaces are supervised appropriately.

    1. Train for Best Practices of Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on best practices for supervising children and youth in shared spaces

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Let children and youth go into shared spaces unsupervised
      • Leave shared spaces without conducting name to face head counts
      • Stand in places where visual supervision is impeded
    2. Monitor for Adequate Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Monitor shared spaces to see if usage times needs to be scheduled to make certain there is adequate supervision

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Find themselves in situations where there aren't enough staff to supervise adequately

    Playgrounds

    Knowing that there are increased risks when children and youth play outdoors, staff must be vigilant in their supervision of children and youth. This means they are constantly moving around so they can intervene quickly if the need arises and redirect unsafe choices before injuries occur. This is even more critical when there are multiple groups using the same play space at the same time.

    The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that playgrounds are supervised appropriately.

    1. Train for Best Practices of Supervision on Playgrounds

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on best practices for supervising children and youth on playgrounds

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Let children and youth go onto playgrounds unsupervised
      • Leave playgrounds without conducting name-to-face head counts
      • Stand in places where visual supervision is impeded
      • Are outside with children and youth without the ability to summon assistance
    2. Monitor Playgrounds for Adequate Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Monitor playgrounds to see if staff are supervising from zones

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Stand in locations where they can't see children and youth at all times
    3. Analyze Safety Checklists

      I Should Always...

      Analyze playground safety checklists and address safety concerns immediately

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Allow children and youth to play in an unsafe environment

    Field Trips

    This will be covered in more depth in Lesson Seven, but it's worth mentioning here that children and youth are particularly vulnerable when they are in new environments.

    The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that field trips are supervised appropriately.

    1. Train on Best Practices of Field Trip Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on best practices for supervising children and youth on field trips

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Arrive or leave any location without taking name-to-face head counts to account for everyone on the roster
      • Go on a field trip without a means of communication in case there is an emergency
    2. Analyze Requests

      I Should Always...

      Analyze field trip requests

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Take children and youth to locations where they can't be adequately supervised
    3. Schedule Adequate Staff

      I Should Always...

      Schedule additional staff to accompany groups on field trips

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Put children and youth in unsafe situations because of inadequate staffing

    Caring for Infants

    Infants completely rely on the adults around them to keep them safe. They can't communicate in words if something is wrong. Their bodies are still developing, so a fall can be life threatening. And they don't understand that dangers lurk all around them. It should go without saying that the younger the child, the greater the risk.

    You need to ensure that teachers who care for infants are constantly engaged in surveillance to mitigate risks—surveillance of the physical environment, classroom furnishings, materials, and the behaviors of infants themselves.

    Your teachers must always be on guard when it comes to the sleep position of infants. It is your responsibility to ensure that teachers are in compliance with American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines. How babies are put to sleep is not about preferences, it's about life and death. Babies die every day as a result of unsafe sleep practices.

    Infants are the most vulnerable children in your care. They are dependent on the adults around them to be vigilant in keeping them safe. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants 1-month to 12-months old and is the third-leading cause overall of infant mortality in the United States.

    About one in five SIDS deaths occur while an infant is being cared for by someone other than a parent. Many of these deaths occur when infants who are used to sleeping on their backs at home are then placed to sleep on their tummies by another caregiver. Infants who are used to sleeping on their backs and placed to sleep on their tummies are 18 times more likely to die from SIDS, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    According to the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education, a majority of SIDS-related deaths at child-care facilities occur in the first day or first week that an infant starts attending a child care program. (Caring for Our Children, 3rd edition, http://nrckids.org.)

    You need to do the following to ensure staff are adhering safe sleep practices:

    • Train staff during their orientation on yourPUBLIC program's safe sleep policy.
    • Include yourPUBLIC program's safe sleep policies with families at enrollment as well as in the family handbook.
    • Observe that infants are placed on their backs to sleep every time.
    • Provide Consumer Product Safety Commission-approved crib mattresses.
    • Ensure that soft objects and materials (toys, stuffed animals, quilts, blankets, comforters, sheepskins, and pillows) are not in cribs or near sleep areas.
    • Ensure that staff provide daily, supervised tummy time while infants are awake.

    The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that infants are supervised appropriately.

    1. Train on Best Practices of Supervising Personal Care Routines

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on best practices for supervising infants during personal care routines

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Turn their backs or leave an infant unattended on a changing table
      • Prop a bottle during feeding
    2. Train on Best Practices of Tummy Time Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on appropriate supervision during tummy time

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Leave an infant unattended during tummy time
    3. Train on Best Practices of Safe Sleep Practices

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that staff are trained on safe sleep practices

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Place anything on the side of the crib that prohibits seeing the infant
      • Place babies or leave babies on their stomachs to sleep
    4. Monitor Practices during Frequent Walk-throughs

      I Should Always...

      Monitor that staff are utilizing best practice during frequent walk-throughs of the classrooms

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Engage in the unsafe supervision practices listed above

    Supervision of Internet and Technology Use

    While the internet, tablets, and applications or “apps” provide children and staff with new and exciting learning opportunities, they also come with safety and supervision challenges. It is essential that you lead your program in creating, updating, and implementing guidelines for the supervision and use of technology by children. Your program may have protections such as software that limits access to explicit materials on the internet, but know that this should not provide a false sense of safety. While such programs are useful, and a good starting point, work with your coach or trainer to ensure that staff know how to engage and supervise during children’s internet and technology use.

    The chart below summarizes your key responsibilities when it comes to the supervision of children's internet and technology use.

    1. Train for Best Practices around Technology Supervision

      I Should Always...

      Work with the program coach to ensure that technology use by children in the program is appropriately supervised and children are safe

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Are unaware of the websites, apps, and online games children use during the program
      • Let children become exposed to online content that is sexually explicit, promotes hate or violence, or encourages users to buy something or provide personal information
      • Allow children to initiate cyberbullying or become at risk of being cyberbullied during program activities
    2. Ensure Technology Activities are Balanced

      I Should Always...

      Monitor how staff balance online learning and technology use with other types of activities

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Allow children to spend more than the recommended amounts of time per day in front of screens and devices
      • Limit children’s physical activity and social engagement opportunities
    3. Technology Use Guidelines Included in New Staff Orientation

      I Should Always...

      Make certain that new staff are oriented to the program’s guidelines for children’s internet and technology use during initial training and that all staff receive ongoing support to align technology use with learning objectives

      ...to ensure staff never...
      • Allow passive technology use by children (i.e. watching YouTube videos that do not connect to program activities or a specific purpose)
      • Supervise from afar and have limited interaction with children during internet and technology use

    The Importance of Planning

    Effective managers possess a balance of leadership and administrative skills: leadership skills to identify what to do and administrative skills to get things done. Managers with good administrative skills create plans, develop systems and processes, manage execution and work efficiently.

    Plans help you manage. They help you be proactive as well as prepared. Plans begin with a goal. They identify systems and processes to achieve the goal. This aspect of the planning process helps you critically analyze inefficient procedures and systems. This process is richer when you enlist the ideas of your staff as it often leads to breakthrough improvements as well as their buy in when it comes to implementation.

    One of the most important plans for ensuring children and youth are appropriately supervised is your staff schedule. As with all plans, this plan is not static but rather ever changing based on the needs of the program. Staff members aren't scheduled because they want to work a certain shift, they are scheduled because that is when they are needed for the supervision of children.

    As you know, you can't be everything to everyone, nor can you please everyone all of the time. You need to manage the execution of tasks by delegating and coordinating the work of your staff. The goal is to empower your staff members to manage their responsibilities and to continuously look for ways to meet those responsibilities as efficiently as possible. A well-thought-out plan will get you there.

    Watch this video about why supervision matters.

    Supervision Matters

    Supervision matters, a personal experience.

    Explore

    Explore

    Observing staff supervising children and youth on a regular basis provides you with valuable information.  This information can be used to identify current safety issues. Download and print the attached chart to record observations for the locations and situations identified.

    Observations should be similar to running records.  Write down everything you observe for a minimum of 20 minutes for each item.

    Apply

    Apply

    Use the attached action plan based on your observations from the activity above to identify continuous improvement opportunities when it comes to the supervision of children and youth.

    Glossary

    TermDescription
    Shared spacesAreas that are used by multiple classrooms of varying ages. These areas may include bathrooms, eating areas, playgrounds, and hallways
    SurveillanceThe systematic observation of a person or group
    VigilantTo be on the alert; watchful, attentive

    Demonstrate

    Demonstrate
    Assessment

    Q1

    True or False? Family preference determines the sleep position of infants.

    Q2

    Which of the following are best practices for supervising children and youth?

    Q3

    Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that children are supervised safely?

    References & Resources

    American Academy of Pediatrics www.aap.org

    Cryer, D., Harms, T., Riley, C. (2004). All About The ITERS-R.

    Feeney, S., and Freeman, N.K. (2015). Smartphones and social media: ethical implications for educators. Young Children. NAEYC Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/system/files/YC0315_Focus_on_Ethics.pdf

    Harms, T., Clifford, R. M., Cryer, D. (2005) Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised Edition.

    NAEYC and Fred Rogers Center (2012). Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Joint Position Statement. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/topics/PS_technology_WEB.pdf 

    Sciarra, J., Dorsey, A., Lynch, E.(2009). 7th edition, Developing and Administering A Child Care Center.