Working Parents Luncheon Inspires All to be More Mindful

On Thursday, October 13th, Ebenezer Child Care Centers was proud to host its 4th Working Parents’ Luncheon. The event offered busy working parents a chance to working-parents-luncheon-janet-bestslow down and learn how to incorporate Mindfulness into their daily lives from speaker Janet Reinhoffer. This useful technique can help individuals find balance in their work lives as well as their personal lives and help strengthen relationships in both.

Janet provided tips on how a person can pay attention to silence or their breathing to become more centered in the here and now as well as reduce their stress levels. She also said a nice way to calm oneself is to close your eyes and count five blessings on your fingers.working-parents-luncheon-nicole-best

Nicole Koglin from Fox 6’s morning show was once again the event’s honorary emcee.

The event also included a silent auction and a variety of raffle baskets. All proceeds from the event are going to support Ebenezer’s “Program Support Fund, which provides support for educational materials and equipment, field trips, family programs, and special events.

Thanks to all who attended this special event!

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Posted in Chamber Links

Why do gross motor skills matter?

By Dana Brumm,  Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer’s Wauwatosa Child Care Center

In the words of Dr. Maria Montessori, “Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements.” This is one of the reasons we, in early childhood, promote gross motor skills everyday!

motor-skills-hillGross motor skills are the abilities required to control the large muscles of the body for walking, jumping, skipping, and more.  Movement plays a bigger part in young lives and education than initially thought. Research shows that mind and body are not separate and that the body has a significant role in cognitive development. To be of maximum benefit, movement   experiences should be introduced early in life. Motor skills enhanced at all stages build a positive attitude about  habitual physical activity and sets the foundation for a  lifetime of good health.

Below are recommendations that would be effective in enhancing early brain and gross motor skill development.

  1. Provide children with lots of sensory-motor experiences, especially of the visual-motor variety. This would include activities that integrate visual information with gross-motor movements. Such activities include striking,   kicking, and catching.motor-skills-jumping
  1. Include a variety of basic gross-motor activities that involve postural control, coordination of movements, and locomotion, This includes crawling, creeping, body rolling, and jumping. In addition to stimulating wiring patterns in the brain to do those skills, the aerobic workout these activities provides the brain is its chief energy source, glucose. In essence, these activities increase blood flow, which feeds the brain and enhances connectivity.
  1. Combine movement activities and music. The combination of music with movement presents an excellent learning tool for young children. It plays to their sensory explorations.

motor-skills-tummy-timeThe most important thing we can do is to give young  children opportunities to move. Working on gross motor skills helps children gain strength and confidence in their   body. It also helps them get exercise and physical activity, which is important for a healthy lifestyle. Developing these skills helps children’s ability to build their cognition skills do more complex thinking and other skills in future activities.


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Ebenezer Welcomes Ms. Kris to Downtown Center

We are excited to announce that Kris McPhail has joined our Ebenezer Child Care team as a  curriculum specialist for our Downtown Milwaukee Center, located at 340 W. St. Paul Avenue.

ebenezer-kris-mcphail-003-cropped-and-smallerIn this position, Ms. Kris will work with the teachers as a resource and mentor regarding children’s assessments, individualized and developmentally appropriate lessons and activity planning. She will also conduct teacher continuing education and training as well as assist teachers with parent-teacher conferences and the children’s individual portfolios.

Ms. Kris has over 30 years of experience in the child care industry serving in various roles including teaching Infant-Toddler, Preschool and 4K classrooms, Child Care Coordinator and Child Care Program Manager. She worked for 17 years at a program where 50 percent of the children had a variety of special needs, and 13 years at a program that had a strong inter-generational component. Ms. Kris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from UW-Milwaukee as well as a Wisconsin Administrator’s Credential and Wisconsin Program Development Credential both from UW-Milwaukee. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the local affiliates, WECA (Wisconsin) and MAEYC (Milwaukee). Ms. Kris is also a member of the Wisconsin Child Care Administrators Association (WCCAA). For over 10 years, Ms. Kris has been a volunteer at Irish Fest’s children’s area, and she resides on Milwaukee’s eastside where she enjoys spending time with her three grown children and five grandchildren.

Please stop by and introduce yourself to Ms. Kris if you see her.

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Cooking in Early Childhood

By Dana, an Ebenezer Curriculum Specialist at our Wauwatosa Child Care Center

cooking 2Cooking is not only a fun, engaging activity for children and used as an important teaching and development tool for all ages. You may remember a time when you helped a relative prepare a meal which evoked feelings of warmth, closeness, and the joy of working together.   Perhaps you have even done cooking with your own child.  Cooking with your child can be a wonderful bonding opportunity while learning many things through experiences with food.

Children learn by touching, tasting, seeing, feeling, and listening. Cooking activities are ideal for children because all their senses are stimulated.  When a child’s senses are engaged as they are during cooking experiences, learning becomes meaningful and memorable.  Through experiences with food, young children can successfully learn the concept of eating a variety of foods.

Cooking to Promote Development and Learning

Social-Emotional Development – Hands-on cooking activities help children develop pride and confidence in their skills and abilities. It can encourage independence, while also teaching children to follow directions and use thinking skills to problem solve.

cooking 3Physical Development – Chopping, squeezing, spreading, and mixing are all cooking skills that help develop a child’s small muscle control and eye-hand 4

Cognitive Development – Cooking inspires children’s curiosity, thinking, and problem solving, offering new opportunities to make predictions and observations. Additionally, cooking offers real opportunities for students to understand and apply their knowledge of measuring, one-to-one correspondence, numbers, and counting.

Language Development – Because cooking has its own vocabulary, cooking is a great opportunity for language development.

Art – From making a face out of vegetables on a pizza to decorating cookies, cooking activities provide endless opportunities for creativity and imagination!



Cultural awareness – Introducing young children to ethnic dishes may encourage them to learn more about the culture and people that inspired the dish.

Cooking activities are both educational and highly motivating to children.  As early care educators, we foster each child’s independence and encourage the exploration of the culinary arts, igniting a sense of accomplishment to push boundaries while we work together to create yummy results. Let’s eat!

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Rep. Rodriguez Visits Ebenezer’s Oak Creek Center

The staff at Ebenezer Child Care Center’s Oak Creek facility was thrilled to recently host  Rep. Rodriguez for a two-hour visit.

During her time with us,  Rep. Rodriguez met our entire staff and toured each of our classrooms.  She then sat down with us  and had a heart to heart talk about quality early care and education and how important it is for the state to truly support it.

She said she understands that more money needs to come to child centers throughout Wisconsin to not only increase quality early care offerings but also to simply maintain it. We discussed the implications of the EBT Card as it is currently planned by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. And, we thanked her for her support in our movement to have the YoungStar bonuses separated from the Wisconsin Shares payments on the EBT card.

Rep Rodriguez in 3K
Rep Rodriguez Twins in 3K - 5 Rep. Rodriguez in Infant Room

Posted in Chamber Links

Never Leave Your Child Unattended in a Car

By Bev Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers

In 2015, there were 24 child heatstroke deaths nationwide. Each of these children died because they were left in a hot vehicle and suffered heatstroke. What makes this statistic so sad is that these deaths were entirely preventable.

I applaud the Baby in hot car croppedNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration for working to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving children in hot cars. Heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. As the weather gets warmer, the dangers to children increase, and all of us have to remain vigilant.

Please remember that you should never leave a child in a vehicle unattended. Always look in the backseat of your car every time you leave it, and always lock your car and put your keys out of reach from children.

Life is hectic, routines change, and many of us become forgetful. But one thing we can’t afford to be is distracted with our children. Come up with some ways to remind yourself that your child is in the car, such as placing a briefcase, purse, or cell phone in the back seat next to your child’s car seat. That way, you’ll always check the back before you leave your car. Child care centers in Wisconsin are mandated to call if children do not show up on their schedule days and times, but there are other steps you can take. Make it a habit to call your spouse after you’ve dropped off your child to make sure you didn’t forget. Set a reminder on your cell phone, or download a baby app that includes reminders.

If as a bystander you see a child in a locked car, call 911 immediately and do whatever you can to get the child out of the car. Stay with the child until help arrives.

For more information, I encourage you to visit, because children and hot cars are a deadly combination.

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Building Language & Literacy with Infants

By Dana Brumm, Curriculum Specialist for Ebenezer Child Care Centers

The interactions that young children have with literacy materials such as books, paper, and crayons and with the adults in their lives are the building blocks for language, reading and writing development. A lot of fun activities can help infants be prepared for reading, writing, and other literacy experiences as they grow and develop. Here are some ways our teachers are promoting pre-literacy opportunities for your child.

Pre-emergent writing
Before young children are able to hold a writing utensil, they use their fingers to draw or “write.” Our babies are running their fingers through  gooey substances or squishing pudding between their   fingers building manual dexterity. These new skills sure make play time even more fun! The teachers watch the babies grow more independent and increasingly confident as they   master small motor skills to develop the building blocks for beginning writing.

infant finger painting 2         infant finger painting




Infant Scribbling

Crayons, markers or other writing instruments that are easy for infants to grasp and hold work best. Making marks and scribbling come naturally to most children.

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Book Handling Behaviors
These behaviors are related to a child’s physical manipulation or handling of books, such as page turning and chewing.

infant book handling

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3K and 4K Programs Give Children a Jump Start

Have you decided where you will be sending your child for 3K and 4K? Deciding which program is best for your child is an important decision that will shape their future educational success, and now is the time to be enrolling for the 2016-2017 school year.

4K 3The goal of our 3K and 4K Programs is to ensure that all children who are enrolled in it leave the program well prepared for kindergarten. We understand that this an amazing time of discovery and learning, and our goal is to make it enjoyable for your child.

As you may have noticed, many area public schools are currently promoting their 4K programs, and in some Milwaukee area neighborhoods, new 3K programs.

As the parent of a 3- or 4-year-old, you may be considering one of these programs. However, before you do this, ask yourself if it’s truly in the best interests of your child to move him/her to an unfamiliar program where the student-to-teacher ratio could be as high as 25 children to 1 teacher.

Ebenezer offers outstanding 4K programs at our Downtown Milwaukee, Southside Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Wauwatosa Centers.  All of our 4-year-old classrooms operate on a ratio of 13 children to 1 teacher.  Our 3-year-old classrooms have a ratio of 10 children to 1 teacher.

We offer an age-appropriate curriculum that focuses on:

Literacy: Asking and answering questions, expressing themselves, using sentences and verbally telling you their first and last name.4K 2

Reading and Writing: Using a pencil, demonstrating an understanding of print concepts, recognizing some letters, writing some letters, and writing their own name.

Math Skills: Sorting and classifying objects, comparing objects using appropriate words, recognizing patterns and repeating them, demonstrating awareness of time and sequence, recognizing shapes, colors and some numbers.

Self Help Skills: Toileting independently, dressing themselves, caring for personal items and serving themselves at mealtime.

4K 1Physical: Running, walking backwards, catching a ball, walking up and down stairs with alternating feet, and pedaling a bicycle. Children will also be learning to control hand muscles by building complex structures with small materials and using scissors.

Social/Emotional: Adjusting to new situations, recognizing own feelings, managing them appropriately and playing.

Plus, we combine our curriculum with our Virtues Program and the tender loving care that families have come to expect from Ebenezer Child Care Center since 1968.  Other benefits of enrolling your child in one of Ebenezer’s programs include: There is no need for busing your child to and from different programs. This translates into fewer transitions in your child’s day and greater continuity of care. Our programs are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. so we can meet the needs of your busy family. Your child will feel safe, secure, and confident in our facilities that have been designed for his/her age group. If your child still naps or needs help with toilet training, we will ensure that his/her individual needs are met. Our early childhood curriculum is structured, yet fun and loving, focusing on the needs of the whole child . Our teachers believe that children learn best through interacting with their environment. We create a stimulating classroom environment that encourages problem solving, exploration, creativity, muscle control, cooperation, communication, and positive self-esteem. Children have the opportunity to learn about authors, artists, and music through hands-on activities from Ebenezer’s Music, Art, and Literature Programs.

Registrations for Ebenezer’s 2016-2017 3K and 4K Programs are now being accepted. For more information or to register, call 414.643.5070.


Posted in Chamber Links

Proposed Legislation Could Have Negative Impact on Child Care Industry

By Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers

As a child care administrator, I am very concerned about the future of quality early care and education in Wisconsin, due to a new program being implemented by the state.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is creating an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program for child care. Ignoring pleas from child care providers, DCF has decided to put the YoungStar quality bonuses (used to reward four- and five-star centers like Ebenezer Child Care Centers) on the EBT cards and cap revenue available to the centers. This means less money for the very centers that are most committed to quality.

High-quality child care centers are already struggling to survive due to inadequate support from the state. The DCF’s actions on the EBT could drive some centers out of business and will force many others to abandon YoungStar and/or no longer accept Wisconsin Shares families. This would hurt the very people the department is supposed to help: children and families.

The YoungStar bonuses must be taken off the EBT cards and the revenue cap removed. Please join me in asking your local legislators to stand up for children and families and tell DCF to listen to the child care industry on this issue. A complete list of elected leaders can be found at



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Why Family Style Meals?

By Leslie,  A curriculum specialist at our Southside Milwaukee Center

At Ebenezer, we take pride in creating a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere during our meals. Teachers sit and eat with children, talk about the day and encourage children to try new foods. Each teacher  enjoys these calm moments to get to know the children and hear what they have to say.

When we are at home, mealtime can be a crazy time of day and often we feel that we just do not have the time to sit with the children talking over the day. There is so much to do, but how often do you have an opportunity to unplug and really listen to your child? When we are driving, we are focused on the road and often times talking to other adults (whether in the car or on the phone). When we get home there is cleaning, baths, homework, yard work, etc. to be done. All of which take time. So, when do we talk to and listen to our children?

Mealtimes are a natural learning opportunity for you and your child. This is the time to teach them about new foods, to use a fork, spoon and cup, and to clean up their own place after the meal (which means one less thing for you to do). If we do not take the time to listen, talk and teach, how will children learn? Take advantage of meal time and create a pleasant experience for your family to come together, talk and learn.

Here are some other good articles about the importance of family meals:

Posted in Chamber Links