St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

By Jessica Macy
St. Gerard Day Care Director 

St. Gerard Campus: A "Hands On" Day Care... Does it Make a Difference?


September 1, 2018 | View PDF

A baby born to a young woman attending St. Gerard High School is a very special baby indeed. If you visit our one-room school, it is somewhat strange to see, not only desks, students, books, a blackboard, teachers and other classroom accruements, but to see rocking chairs, bassinets, cradles and baby swings neatly lined up in the back of the classroom. For the first 2 months of a St. Gerard baby's life, he or she is kept close to her mother in the classroom for bonding purposes. It is not unusual to see a young mother cradling her newborn while taking a test or to have our nursery aides rocking a little one to sleep so her mom can study. When the baby turns 2 months old, he or she is "promoted" to the Day Care Center....a wonderful on-campus teaching day care facility.

St. Gerard Campus Day Care Center and the certified day care staff is dedicated to serving, educating and loving the little babies of our high school students, the courageous young women that chose life for their little ones. The certified day care staff spends many hours in learning their trade and being up on the most innovative approaches to child-rearing.

Each child entering the day care has a complete evaluation utilizing the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. Each child is evaluated in six different areas for his or her age. They are graded in communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving, social and emotional interaction and speech. The scores from this questionnaire are used to develop lesson plans, individualized for each child, to positively affect all six skills. The data is shared with each mother.

In addition, the daycare workers, under the direction of the director, formulate lesson plans using The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers and Twos. The Creative Curriculum plan is designed to be an interactive teaching tool to encompassing different domains with goal oriented markers designed for each child and his or hers individual needs. The lessons can include music, dancing, peek-a-boo, patty cake, mirror time, reading according to age groups, circle time for toddlers and tummy time for infants. Feeding schedules and nap times are also part of our day care. Daily notes are kept on each child, notating the achievements and milestones reached. This too is shared with the mother.

If we find any developmental problems or issues, such as, a child seems unable to focus his eyes on the teacher; it will be noted in the child's log and communicated to the mother. We advise whether the mother should seek a doctor or advise the mothers of other resources, like the Early Steps program in Jacksonville. We have many resources available depending on what has been observed. Sometimes it is a matter of teaching the mother to do certain exercises at home to reinforce what the child has learned in school that day.

We encourage our girls to get involved and play an active role in their child's early education because a child's first teacher is his or her mother, then the teacher. While our girls are learning Life Management, Child Psychology, Nutrition and Wellness in school, they are learning and honing their skills in parenting through the day care facility. The day care also facilitates communication between the mothers and the teachers.

This helps our teachers to take better care of our little ones. Feeding schedules, proper sleeping position, nutrition, recognition of physical necessities, parenting skills, Ssigns of childhood illnesses, and follow up with doctors' visits are some of the skills taught to our new mothers by our day care teaching staff.

When graduation rolls around each June, we sadly watch our little ones graduate with their moms, wear a tiny little mortar and tassel, and step out into the world. We look forward to the days when former students stop by to tell us about their successes, what they are doing with their lives and to show off their children. For our young ladies, providing a high school diploma, securing higher education and becoming financially independent, almost ensures that her child will see his or her graduation too and for that we are so proud.

As a non-profit organization, St. Gerard day care is always in need of supplies. If you would like to make a donation, we can always use diapers (all sizes), wipes, infant and toddler baby food, Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, rocking chairs and gliders, sippy cups and warm cuddly blankets. Thank you to the entire St. Augustine/Jacksonville area for all your help over the past 37 years. You have touched so many lives with your donations of needed supplies and funding to continue the mission to assist pregnant/new teen moms to receive their high school diploma, all while be assured that their child is getting the best day care while they are in class.


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