Staying Home

September 12, 2003

The most difficult part of many parents' day can be leaving their toddler in daycare each morning. After 10 years of dropping off her daughter elsewhere, one Lincoln County mother has changed her career to spend more time with her own fourth-grader. Penny Sluder, a former factory worker, was tired of missing her daughter's life and decided to become a licensed child-care provider, helping other parents feel at peace when leaving a child each day.

"I worked in a factory for 10 years and everything that went on with her I wasn't able to attend because of my long hours," said Sluder.

Now, as a child-care provider working out of her own home, Sluder and her daughter finally get to spend each morning and evening together, feeding toddlers and reading ABC books.

"She loves it, she even sets her alarm clock to come down here before she has to go to school," said Sluder.


Sluder now offers other working parents peace of mind through Lincoln County's newest child-care facility, P.J.'s Toddlers, by providing their children an innovative, health-oriented program interspersed with educational childhood basics.

The walls are covered with chalk and bulletin boards, letter charts, colored shapes and shelves of toys. Each day focuses on learning, be it the color of the day, a letter or number. Even nap time is far from routine.

"At nap time, we do back rubs while we listen to soft music," said Sluder.

Breakfast, lunch and a snack are provided and include foods like bananas, oatmeal, milk or macaroni and cheese. Each menu is planned a week in advance and posted by the door for curious parents.

P. J.'s Toddlers opens its doors at 6 each morning. Parents may pick up their children at 3: 45 p.m. for a cost of $60 a week or pay $10 extra for a 5:30 p.m. pick-up.

Sluder received a state child-care license this year after attending six hours of training and getting her CPR and first-aid certification. She estimated about $2,500 has been spent in home improvements for her day-care facility, including a chain-link fence for the back yard.

During a typical day, breakfast is served around 8 a.m., teeth are brushed afterward, and a 45-minute outdoor playtime follows.

"And then they read. Barney and Mickey, those are about the only (books) they usually pick up," said Sluder. Children have their choice of reading material from a large basket of books, kept well stocked with shape and color books.

After a busy morning of learning and play time, lunch starts at 11:15 a.m. and is followed by a two-hour nap time.

"Most of the time, it doesn't last two hours," said Sluder. If children can't sleep, they can play quietly or read a book.

As sleepy eyes are opened wide at 2 p.m., grumbling tummies say it's time for snacks.

"Nothing I give them has the first ingredient (listed) as sugar," said Sluder. Often, snack time includes Juicy Juice, milk and graham crackers.

Craft time brings out the finger-paints, with small hands of green and blue artfully arranged to create giant sunflowers and cards for Grandparents Day. Children read, watch educational television and play the rest of the day.

Lala Maples, whose son attends the day care, said he not only loved P.J.'s and its Play Doh, but it was a good atmosphere for him. It is a place where she feels safe leaving her child.

"I just trust her, and think she is good with children." said Maples. "I like it, and he gets a chance to learn and be around other kids ... I'm just glad it worked out this way with her."

P. J.'s toddlers is located at 4311 U.S. 27 South at the bottom of Halls Gap in Stanford. Parents interested may call Penny Sluder at (606) 365-7977.|None***

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