Books by Dave Whitaker

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Sunday, December 31, 2000

Older Kids

Kids’ Country Seniors: Meeting the Needs of Older Kids
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection; issue 3: Winter 2000
Brenda Jeannette Smith, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District

Kids' Country Seniors is part of the Kids' Country Before and After School Program in the Lee’s Summit school district. At Greenwood Elementary the program is offered to children in grades 4-6. The program creates a safe environment while providing an enjoyable atmosphere that includes team-building skills, study sessions, service projects and enrichment activities.

In a class meeting at the beginning of each month, students help plan monthly activities, including special inserts to the monthly newspaper they write, edit, and publish.

They also do a monthly service project which they plan and carry out. Service projects this school year include collecting money for Leukemia Research, providing Thanksgiving Dinner for three families, adopting a family with seven children for Christmas, and planning a Valentine Party for the younger Kids’ Country children.

Each child is assigned a specific job in the school, which they do every afternoon. Some children help classroom teachers; others empty recycling containers into a large bin.

Some children are a part of the "Wee Deliver" mail service, a program which partners with the United Postal Service. Three Kids' Country Seniors were sworn in as official postal workers at Greenwood Elementary School, and their daily job is to process and deliver mail from children and teachers to other children and teachers in the building. These daily duties are an important part of the Kids' Country Seniors program.

Enrichment activities include hands-on learning experiences in the areas of math, science, career possibilities, and social issues. Recently they have hosted and interviewed several guests who spoke about specific careers.

Kids' Country Seniors has been a good addition to the Greenwood Elementary School.

Brenda Jeannette Smith is a Site Coordinator at Greenwood Elementary School in the Lee's Summit R-7 School District.

Saturday, September 30, 2000

Celebrating All Children’s Intelligences

(Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, Issue 2 – Autumn 2000)
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

I am about a month away from completing a Masters in Education degree. The program focuses on integrating the arts into learning so as to meet the interests of all children, something that the SAC world has done for years. I have been consistently reminded throughout the program that we don’t all learn the same way.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, introduced the concept of multiple intelligences (MI). He stated that traditional education focuses on linguistic intelligence and logical/mathematical intelligence, leaving other kinds of learners behind. Some people learn best through art (spatial intelligence), others through music (musical). Some people respond to nature (naturalist); others are highly kinesthetic (body/kinesthetic). There are people who excel at self-awareness (intrapersonal) and others that shine in interpersonal skills (interpersonal).

The point of his theory was that all learners must be recognized for their abilities and given opportunities to shine in that area. While elementary school classrooms across the country have been revolutionized by the concept, the idea is not new. The child care world has been doing it for years.

Walk into a SAC program with interest areas set up for the children and you see a variety of simultaneous activities. A child might be drawing in the art area while others play checkers in the game area. Someone else might be building an elaborate tower in the block area. A quiet area might be occupied by a child engaged in a book. Children might be prancing about in dress-up clothes in a dramatic play area. Others might be listening to songs on headphones in a music area.

By providing a variety of materials to children in a variety of interest areas, SAC programs give all children opportunities to demonstrate their unique abilities. Heck, while these children are “playing” they might accidentally even learn something.

Want to learn more about multiple intelligences? Check out Toolbox Training’s Meet All Children’s Intelligences workshop or the book Multiple Intelligences & After-School Environments: Keeping All Children in Mind.

Friday, June 30, 2000

Program Philosophy

From House to Home
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 1: summer 2000
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

My wife Becky and I have volunteered a couple of times for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat’s mission is to build houses for low-income families that might not otherwise be able to afford them. Becky and I recently saw a speaker who talked about House of Belief, an offshoot program of Habitat that helps homeowners reflect their personalities and interests through interior decorating. Much as Habitat expects homeowners to actively participate in the building of their homes, House of Belief wants owners to design their homes.

The speaker commented that her role was not to be the creative force that drives the design of the home, but to help homeowners discover their own creativity so that they can design the home themselves. To paraphrase one Habitat homeowner, a house doesn’t become a home until its owner has a hand in creating it. Similarly, our children’s SAC programs will not become theirs unless we let them have a hand in creating them.

We must remind ourselves that in our work with children, it is not our job to design the program for the children, but to help children discover their own creativity so that they can make the program meet their needs. We must allow our programs to become their programs.

National AfterSchool Association

Perspective from an NAA Endorser
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, Issue 1 – Summer 2000
Information provided by Debbie Ervay, Liberty Latchkey in Liberty, MO.

Note: This article was written when the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) was still NSACA (National School Age Care Alliance). The information has been updated to reflect the change to the new NAA organization.

Debbie Ervay is a trained NAA endorser who offered her perspective on what the endorser training entails.

The training is very intense and covers a lot of information. NAA doesn't have any real hot spots; the evaluation wants to make sure that each program has all areas covered. The observation focuses on five areas:

1. Human Relationships. This includes a focus on staff to youth, youth to youth, staff to families, and staff to staff.

2. Indoor Environment. This area deals with how the indoor space meets the needs of the children.

3. Outdoor Environment. This area deals with how the outdoor space meets the needs of the children.

4. Activities. Focus is on daily schedule, variety of activities offered, how activities reflect the mission of the program, and assurance that there are sufficient materials for all children.

5. Safety, Health and Nutrition. This area looks at how the safety and security of children are protected, whether nutritious snacks are served, and if proper health guidelines are followed.

Debbie says, “going through the training makes me more aware of what is expected by the national guidelines for a program to be accredited. When visiting a program, I am aware of the programs strengths and weaknesses and through the observation tool can help a program become better.”

For more information on NAA accreditation, contact:

National AfterSchool Association
1137 Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02124
Phone: 617-298-5012
Fax: 617-298-5022
Web site:

Sunday, April 30, 2000

Give Kids Control Without Losing Control

(Orginally from The KC SAC Connection, April 2000: Volume 1, Issue 1)
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

One of the biggest issues facing child care programs is how to balance control between the adults and the children. If adults don’t maintain enough control, the result is chaos. However, if the adults don’t allow the children any control, the children will be angry and frustrated.

To successfully balance these two elements, child care providers must gain an understanding of control and how to both maintain it and give it. When it comes to understanding control, we often have negative connotations of the word. The word is considered synonymous with confining, limiting, manipulating, and restricting. Control should really be viewed as a word that speaks about boundaries. Control is about having freedom to move within a certain framework.

To maintain control in a child care program, workers must use three I’s - interest, involvement, and interaction. Essentially, all child care providers should keep this pledge to keep their three I’s focused: I will keep moving so that I can always see what’s going on. I will be two places at once - one with my body and another with my eyes. I will ask open-ended questions to gain insight into children’s activities. Through these methods, adults can create boundaries for children that give them freedom to explore and learn on their own, but in a safe, stimulating, and appealing environment.

Adults also have to be willing to give children control. There are essentially three methods for doing so - talk about it, do it, and talk some more. These three approaches capture the idea that children should be involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating the program if it is to be successful. We must remember that the child care program should belong to the children, not the adults.

Those are just a few tips for giving kids control without losing control. For more ideas, consider the Give Kids Control Without Losing Control workshop, also available as a do-it-yourself training package.