Friday, March 2, 2018

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss' Birthday!

His books are well known and well loved at all of the CMLC schools. To celebrate his birthday, each year we do a Pajama day and sometimes serve a vegetarian "Green Eggs" afternoon snack with dyed green yogurt and a vanilla wafer "yolk"! Today, kiddos and teachers brought in their favorite Dr. Seuss books and shared them during show and share. Our creative teaching team did different art projects such as coloring our own Hats from Cat in the Hat, making hand-print flowers from The Lorax, hand-print Thing 1 and Thing 2, and more!

Dr. Seuss Books have helped our teachers bring up important teaching points in classrooms, and shows a fun and different way to teach them. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish helps early learners understand their colors and numbers in a fun and rhyming way, Green Eggs and Ham brings up different foods in different cultures,  The Lorax lends itself to talking about Global Warming, and Marvin K. Mooney:Will You Please Go Now! talks about how he wants to be alone and it is ok to have those emotions!

Thank you families and teachers for bringing in your treasure trove of Dr. Seuss books! It was a great way to celebrate Dr. Seuss' Birthday and to read in our PJs all day!

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Love and Logic Philosophy at Creative Minds Learning Centers

Love and Logic is a philosophy of raising and teaching children. The goal is to allow adults to have more skilled interactions with children that allow the empower adults to create respectful and positive relationships with children. The Love piece encourages children to grow and learn from their mistakes. The Logic piece teaches children the natural consequences of their actions, and to deal with that in a healthy and positive way. CMLC schools and teachers are certified in this behavioral approach, and offer seasonal courses for teachers and parents, bridging the home-school connection.  

The Foundation: These are the core ideals of the Love & Logic Philosophy
  • Shared Control - Control is shared with the adult and the child. The adult gains control by giving away the control they don’t need (and often the control they didn’t have to begin with) 
  • Shared Thinking/Decision Making - The adult provides opportunities for the child to do the greatest amount of thinking and decision making. 
  • Equal Shares of Consequences with Empathy - The Adult meets the child with empathy and consequences, not punishments. An absence of anger causes a child to think and learn from his/her mistakes. 
  • Maintain the Child’s Self-Concept - Increased self-concept and sense of self/core beliefs leads to improved behavior and higher achievement.
“Wait… What is the difference between consequences and punishment?”
Consequences expressed with empathy will place a child in the thinking/decision-making mode and the problem will become the issue, not the adult. Punishment usually elicits an emotional response, and a desire on the part of the child to rebel rather than engage in more responsible choices. In turn, the adult becomes the issue, not the problem which can lead to unnecessary power struggles.

The Guiding Rules: There are two basic rules in Love & Logic:
  1. Adults set firm limits in loving ways without anger, lecture, threats, or repeated warnings. Love and Logic suggests that adults set limits using enforceable statements, and regard mistakes as learning opportunities, and resist the temptation to nag.
  2. When children misbehave and problems arise, adults hand these problems back in loving ways. Provide empathy before describing consequences, use few words and more loving actions, delay consequences when necessary, and give kids the gift of owning and solving their problems. 
In Action: Adults should follow these 5 steps to guiding children to own and solve their problems
  1. Empathy - “How sad.” “I bet that’s tough.”
  2. Send the Power Message - “What do you think you’re going to do?”
  3. Offer Choices - “Would you like to hear what other kids have tried?
  4. Have the child state the consequence - “And how will that work?
  5. Give permission for the child to either solve the problem or not solve the problem - “Good luck. I hope it works out”
Tips and Tricks of the Trade: Follow these tips to get the hang of using Love & Logic every day with your child or the children that you work with! 

Enforceable Statement
  • Always say what you are going to do, not what you think the child should do.
  • Only speak from your perspective because you are the only one you can control.
  • Make sure you can actually enforce the statement you are making.
Delay the Consequences 
  • Delaying the consequence gives you time to think of an appropriate one and allows you the chance to get ideas from other people and get the support you will need to carry out the consequence. 
  • When a problem arises and you need to delay the consequence, simply say: “Oh no. This is sad. I’m going to have to do something about this. But not now, later. Try not to worry about it.” 
  • Let the child think they’ve gotten away with it, and then make a plan with help from others and carry out the plan if the child refuses to solve the problem on their own.
Give Choices 
  • Give as many choices as you can while the price tag is small so you maintain control when the stakes are higher. 
  • Only give choices you can be incredibly happy about. Kids need to believe (whether it’s true or not) that your life will go on and you’ll be happy no matter which choice they make. Never give a choice after they have argued with your original decision. This shows the child that they can manipulate you.
When giving choices, begin with phrases like: 
  • “What would be best for you…” 
  • “Would you rather…”
  • “Feel free to…”
  • “You can either...” 

Love & Logic One-Liners: Use one-liners when an explanation is either not necessary or it will only cause an argument. Don’t be afraid to be a broken record.
Pick one or two that work for you and try them out. 
- “Nice try”
- “Probably so”
- “I love you too much to argue”
- “Could be”
- “It probably seems that way to you” 

Miscellaneous Tips 

The question we want our students and children to ask themselves is “How is the next decision I make going to affect me?” Surround your behavioral management around this concept. Children don’t learn to make decisions when their decisions are made for them by teachers, parents, or caregivers.  Then, when they are faced with a situation and need to make a decision, they do not make it on what is right. Instead, the child makes a decision based on who is going to find out, how that person will react, and how they can hide it from that person. A child needs to feel they have an investment in something in order to take it seriously, so create the space for them to become invested and encourage them to do so. Don’t make this choice for them, they will choose the most important things to them if given the chance, and that chance comes from the adults allowing the child to access these things. Talk about things your student/child likes to do and explain exactly what you need to see from him/her in order to gain access to those things (this happens when a misbehavior has occurred). This will help the child realize what decisions they want to be making. It will help them remember the rules, and it will also help them make positive choices because they know what is important to them, and they know the consequences if they misbehave or face challenging behavior. Children are smart enough to remember if it’s important to them, so don’t nag or remind. Just tell them and encourage them to be invested and make the best choices. 

Often, we must pick our battles wisely. Not many things are worth fighting over. If you are faced with something and find yourself getting into an argument with the child, take a step back and delay the consequence to center yourself. You will not win an argument with a child. Instead, focus on holding the child accountable for knowing the rules. Talk about things your student/child likes to do and explain exactly what you need to see from him/her in order to gain access to those things (this happens when a misbehavior has occurred). Use empathy when doing this, and focus on making the behavior the problem, not the child. It is best to have these conversations in calm waters when everything is going fine. You can ask them to come up with solutions of what should happen when misbehavior occurs. Have a back-up plan in case they don’t follow through with their end of the bargain when a problem arises. 

Finally, when using the 5 steps, do your part and walk away. Don’t hang around for what could turn into an argument. Go back to what you were doing to show that your life goes on and that you are not worried. Smile through these interactions! It is a tough job that is very challenging and trying, but with Love & Logic you will avoid power struggles, providing the responsibility to the child, and they will rise to the occasion.

All CMLC parents and staff are invited to participate in our annual Love and Logic Training Course, coming Spring 2018! Keep an eye out in your emails for our invitation to the class, we hope to see you there!

For more information regarding the Love and Logic philosophy, visit

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wow... 20 Years!

My oh my, how time flies! 

Over 20 years ago, Jaqueline and Ken Mckinster were searching for a preschool for their children. They discovered that quality educational programs and child care was difficult to find and were at a loss when presented with the available options. This struggle was the catalyst that drove them to put all of their time, faith, money, heart and soul into developing Creative Minds Learning Centers, which came to be in February, 1997. 

Through education and after countless hours of hard work, the Mckinsters opened the first Creative Minds school in 2000, with CMLC’s very first student, their son, KJ Mckinster. The schools are dedicated to the memory of KJ, who passed away on April 11th, 2008. He was a straight A student and a high achiever with a passion for life and being kind to others. Creative Minds continues to thrive as KJ’s spirit lives on through the hallways of the schools 
with a strong school community of children, teachers and families.

KJ Mckinster, CMLC's First Student
20 years later, there are 7 Creative Minds Learning Center locations! Creative Minds is home to over 400 families and 100 plus employees with sights set on opening more schools in the near future. The school is committed to providing exceptional education and child care for children, to best serve the needs of families in the community. We strive for a warm and creative environment, where children can safely explore and learn about the world around them. 

 The school will be having a month-long tribute of events, community fundraisers and tuition specials to celebrate the milestone while looking back on the many memories shared over the years. These are highlighted by participating in a Diaper Drive, benefiting the PDX Diaper Bank as well as having weekly celebrations in honor of the school’s Anniversary! 

The entire Creative Minds Team is so thankful to all of the students and families that we have served throughout the years. The children and surrounding community really help make Creative Minds an amazing space to achieve our three main goals. We aim to help students develop social and emotional skills, to help them prepare for their elementary education. Additionally, we focus on intellectual development and the acquisition of meaningful and useful academic skills. We believe that children are naturally capable and willing to learn and typically begin reading at the Pre-Kindergarten stage. 

These goals could not be achieved without the dedication and creativity of our Teaching Team. We pride ourselves on having an open and supportive environment not only for the families that we serve, but also for our Teachers. We love our teachers at Creative Minds and are extremely thankful for them every day! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When you have to go to work...

For working parents, the work/life balance seems harder and harder to achieve these days. Between all of the daily tasks that need to be done, work, and having fun with your family, it can be tough to find quality time with your children. An increasing number of parents are working throughout their child’s early years of development and don't want to miss those early milestones such as, first steps, first words, rolling over, sitting up, giggles, art projects and more.
This is one reason why working in childcare is so wonderful - you get to spend all day with your child who is also enrolled at that same school. The parents that work with Creative Minds share this special relationship with their child every day. And this relationship spans generations; for example the mother of our bookkeeper also works for our schools. 

Working in the childcare center or Preschool that your child attends provides you an opportunity to see those milestones first hand while also bringing home a paycheck. Not to mention the generous childcare discount that teachers and staff receive. Many of our team members have their kids with them every day at that same school, from our directors to our maintenance team members. 

One of the most exciting things is that this ability to work where your children are, is that it empowers women to return to the workforce after having children. Mothers and fathers who would otherwise be stay at home parents, are able to spend quality time with their children and see first hand what their day encompasses, while also working and fulfilling a desire to remain in the workforce, if they so choose. 

Take Kayla, for example. She has been working with Creative Minds for over 7 years and has three children enrolled at our schools. She started out as a Teacher and has been promoted over the years into her role as our Area Director.

She writes about working with Creative Minds and having her children enrolled:

“I can’t express how grateful I am to work for a company that fully supported me through all three of my pregnancies and maternity leave periods. Due to the amazing childcare discount that CMLC offers, I to get to bring my children with me to work and know that they are in a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment. I feel so blessed to be able to pop into my kiddos’ classrooms throughout the day and have them share something exciting that they did for art or curriculum or to say hello and give them a hug. I’m constantly telling people that I have the best of both worlds. I get to work full time and be a full time mom. It doesn’t get better than that!”

-Kayla's son Clay reading to his class!
Many of our teachers, directors, and team members take advantage of our Child Care Discount Benefit Program at CMLC.

One of our CMLC teachers shares,  "It is wonderful to know exactly what kind of environment you child is spending time in, because you are there too" and that he is "very thankful for the opportunity to serve others' children as well as [his] own." 

Not many employers offer on-site childcare and Creative Minds is happy to be one of the few!

Check out our current open positions on our Employment Page. or call (503) 252-0004 ext. 0 to learn more about enrolling your child in our program. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Creative Minds Curriculum!

And just like that, it is nearly October. We started our first day of curriculum this past month, and want to share with you what exactly that entails. It can be difficult to see how curriculum can impact or shape an infant classroom, and can look an awful lot like play time and arts and crafts in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. We are hoping to demystify our curriculum, and provide you with some of the details of what your child will learn this school year. 

We have three different core curriculums at our schools, dependent on the age of the student: 1) Starfall Curriculum, 2) The Creative Curriculum, and 3) Every Day Counts Curriculum. We also have Creative Outlets 4 Kids, which is an a la carte-style supplemental active curriculum, to help kids learn about movement, yoga, and dance. 

Starfall curriculum is the Kindergarten Curriculum, and it 
“provides the materials and guidance teachers need to skillfully and joyfully incorporate research-based reading and language arts skills and strategies, integrate social studies and science, and meaningfully employ technology in their classrooms.” 

It integrates math, science, health, creative arts, social studies, physical movement, early literacy, and social-emotional development into imaginative play and guided instruction. It does this through teacher demonstration and one-on-one partnership between the student and teacher. The lessons are designed to ensure that curiosity will spark within the student, and give the student the skills to express themselves both verbally and in writing. 

The Creative Curriculum is what Creative Minds Learning Centers use in the Infant through Preschool Classrooms. It focuses on exploration and discovery by the student, so the student will gain confidence while building their creativity and critical thinking skills. It is all designed to help the student prepare for preschool or kindergarten, providing the essential building blocks that students need in their educational foundation. 

The Every Day Counts Curriculum enriches daily math instruction in the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms. It is a supplemental curriculum that incorporates calendars, practice counts, and partner games into daily activities to build mathematical fluency, reasoning, and a conceptual understanding of computing numbers. 

In addition, we provide a Reggio-inspired art program. This program is based off of the Reggio Emilia approach, which values each child as “strong, capable, and resilient; rich in wonder and knowledge.” It is not a method, but a value system within the school. Our art program is thus student-driven, as children are capable of constructing their own learning. 

The three curriculums give our schools the core goals that our teachers are meeting each year. The teachers enhance the curriculum with their own energy and personality, creating daily lessons that cultivate a positive learning environment.  The curriculums do incorporate a lot of art and play, but that is because part of our mission is to help children explore their interests in a creative and artistic setting. Our goal is to help guide children in a structured setting while also providing them with vital learning opportunities. 

For more information on our the curriculum and program that CMLC follows, visit our Program Page


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When A Kiddo Runs Away From You

Nothing can get your heart going like losing sight of your child even for a moment or having them dart toward the street. Here are a few ideas for helping keep these moments to a minimum!

My go-to expert, Janet Lansbury, recommends- as she does for any challenging scenario- calming ourselves and starting from a place of emotional stability.

When kids test limits, they don't benefit from caregivers breaking down or giving in, but instead need leaders who can calmly and confidently handle them. This helps children find the limits of acceptable behavior, and these limits help them feel safe and secure.

Lansbury says:
"...running away (like all testing) is typical, normal behavior rather than a sign that we’re inept parents or have an unruly child that hates us. But since a toddler on the run in any situation is potentially unsafe, this is the type of testing we should do all we can to prevent from happening."

Things To Try

  • Give her lots of space to run free in safe spaces.
  • Set her up for success by asking, "When we get to the mall, do you want to ride in the stroller/hold my hand or walk?" When she excitedly says "walk!" it's the perfect time to remind her of what you'll expect of her.
  • You can try learning songs/reading books about being safe, but it's most important to practice appropriate behavior out and about when it counts.
  • Engage and entertain her as much as possible during errands.
  • Set clear, non-negotiable limits: "Remember that you need to hold my hand." Then enforce as necessary while doing your best to acknowledge and connect: "I know you want to run right now, but it's not safe to run away so you need to stay right near me or I'm going to hold your hand. Later, when we're at the park you'll be able to run a lot!" 
  • Don't keep offering warnings or count to three. If he refuses to comply, gently and immediately physically enforce your limit: "I can't let you run away. I'm going to pick you up now to make sure you're safe." (If they struggle: "When your body and voice are calm, I'll know you're ready to try walking with me again." 

Share Your Experience

What's working for you? What's got you ruffled? 

Leave a comment, or stop by your office or classroom to talk about your triumphs or your travails when it comes to your kiddos making a break for it. I love talking about positive discipline with families of our Honeysuckle Junior Toddlers at CMLC Sellwood! 

Much Love,
Teacher Suzanne

P.S. Janet Lansbury's Facebook Page is awesome! She shares incredibly helpful conversations among parents on a daily basis.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Tough Stuff

Hello Creative Minds Family!

I’m Suzanne, one of the Junior Toddler Teachers here at CMLC!

I recently felt the call to start writing on our blog to help share information and create a supportive space for our families and my fellow teachers.

When I consider what hardworking parents and teachers really want and need, I think it’s simply more happy time with their kiddos! That might entail spending fewer hours figuring out how deal with the day-to-day issues that can really eat away at precious time, and that left unchecked can leave us exasperated and exhausted.

So I decided to focus on bringing you the CliffsNotes from the best blogs, books and social discourse out there right now for dealing with the most challenging issues we face as caregivers.

You can frequent the sources (which I’ll always link to), and/or you can check here for the gist of it! I know when I’m looking for help with a specific issue, I feel like, Somebody, just tell me what to try!

So please jump in, share what you want to hear about, and what’s working for you!

Upcoming topics include ideas for keeping calm and compassionate when dealing with:

  • Aggression & Anger
  • Testing Limits
  • Sibling & New Baby Issues
  • Magic Words and Phrases for Parents & Teachers
  • Diaper Change Shenanigans
  • Eating Issues
  • And More! :)

Leave a comment with another topic that’s big for you right now, or share the one you’re most looking forward to discussing!

Much Love,
Teacher Suzanne