Hello Sunday, it sure is nice to see you. Sunday's are meant for family, friends and refilling your "mental/emotional cup." This Sunday, I want to kick off our new blog series, "Words of Inspiration and Knowledge," a series of posts written by and for Home Child Care providers.
As a home child care agency, we hold a combined 150 years of child care knowledge. Some of our partnering educators have been in early childhood education for over 20 years, while others are brand new. Combining experience with fresh, eager eyes creates a reciprocal community of educators who not only support but inspire each other. In honour of our collective knowledge, the idea for this blog series was born.
Meet Sara Kovach (Natural Beginnings Home Daycare)
I'm thrilled to announce Sara Kovach as our first guest author. Sara has been a child care provider with Little Lambs since our inception as an agency in 2017. Pre-2017, Sara operated her home child care program privately in the heart of Stirling. As a friend and fellow child care provider, I had the honour of getting to know Sara personally and professionally. She is truly a one-of-a-kind person, who's empathy, compassion and thirst for continued learning make her an incredible asset to our Little Lambs family.
In this first "Words of Inspiration and Knowledge" post, Sara shares her lessons learned from her nine years as a home child care provider.
Thank you, Sara!
What I've learned in the daycare world over the past nine years.
I am a teacher! My/our work is valuable. The little minds in our care need attention and guidance. It is our responsibility to be the best teachers we can be. Being the best teachers we can be, starts with a deep appreciation and respect for each child's individual needs (developmentally and emotionally). We need to meet each child where they are at, never imposing expectations far above or beneath their abilities. Our role as early years teachers is to build their self-confidence, social/emotional learning, and other developmental domains. NOT tear them down with unrealistic expectations.
*Make a contract*. It is important to remember that as Home Child Care Providers, we remain legally classified as "Independent Contractors." This means that while we follow Ministry and Agency regulations/requirements, we remain our own boss! As a private child care provider under the umbrella of Little Lambs, I set my billing and client policies (see note below for providers who license as "full agency"). Creating boundaries in line with my contract is crucial. I do this in the following ways.
*For child care providers who don't want to concern themselves with the administrative side of their child care business, Little Lambs offers a full agency licensing model. Providers who license as "full agency" do not need to worry about client contracts/payment as this is handled on their behalf by Little Lambs*
I build meaningful relationships with my daycare families (clients). I am kind, open-minded and honest with them. I do this in the following ways:
HONOUR THE CHILD'S FEELINGS. This statement is uppercased for "upper-emphasis." They are little humans with real feelings. It can be hard as an adult to regulate our emotions, so imagine what it's like to be an infant, toddler or preschooler. It is essential to honour and validate their feelings, to show support, comfort and guidance.
Self-Care is not just a "fad statement" or idea created by Millennials Self-Care is really important. You cannot support another person's social/emotional needs if your own social/emotional needs are unmet. My go-to's include: working out, sleep, driving with my music cranked, iced coffee, and shopping with friends. Taking time for "me" makes me a better person overall.
Extra tip: I take time for me every morning to make myself feel good. My morning routine is 1) a quiet coffee, 2) pick out a cute outfit, 3) do my hair and makeup, 4) make a conscious plan to have a wonderful day! #lookgoodfeelgood
My family comes first. This means making time to connect daily with hugs and quick "I love you's." I also make time for deeper connections through sports/activities we can do together (basketball games, family hikes), hot tub dates (best purchase EVER), movie nights and cottage days!
Playing is learning! I set up my environment based on what the children are interested in and go with it. While "playing with the children as a co-learning is important. I also take time to "step back" and observe. By documenting what they are doing and observing their learning processes, my ability to scaffold their play is supported. Building on their interests and individual skill sets, I keep my environment fresh and stimulating. Enjoy the simplicity of the day. Don't overcomplicate play.
Tip: Summer, is a great time to bring our sensory area outside. Example: My littles are currently into cars. I am going to add some ramps and blocks to our car play to increase their play opportunities. To incorporate cars into our sensory area, I'm thinking of adding a "car wash."
Don't forget about messy play. From process art to mud-kitchens to sensory explorations, messy play creates endless opportunities for children to have fun. (Fun=learning). Remember: Everything can be washed, and if it can't be washed, it shouldn't be in a daycare space.
Patience, patience, patience.
To me, patience means:
I take all the opportunities I can to learn and grow as a daycare provider (teacher). From reaching out to my support network, leaning on my agency, listening to podcasts, reading, reading and more reading, signing up for webinars/conferences. Some professional development is free, while others I choose to pay for. Learning is never a waste of money.
I have found my daycare tribe. A "daycare tribe" is a group of individuals I align with on my daycare journey. They are the people I connect with (through text, phone calls, or in-person). I have a few different daycare friends; I have a different but special relationship with each of them.
My final lesson learned is Home Daycare is for everyone who has a genuine interest and deep appreciation for children. To be a child care provider, you need to have a reserve of empathy and compassion. While this is my "job" and "livelihood," I do not view it as a way to stay home and make money. Being a home child care provider is a huge commitment—a commitment of my home, my time, my energy and my love. It's definitely not a career for the faint of heart or impatient.
Connect with Sara and follow her daycare journey on Facebook.
Pictures shared by Sara with permission from her child care families. All images showcase Sara's program.
written by: Amanda Henderson
There are so many different things we are always trying to teach our children, from academics to manners. One of the best things they can learn to carry with them their entire life is how to be healthy. When your child is younger, it’s easier to ensure they are making healthy choices since most of those choices are made directly by you. As your child gets older and enters the teenage years, you have less direct control and have to be savvier in your parenting approach.
Little Lambs Home Daycare Agency knows the parenting journey is challenging. Let’s discuss a few areas of your teen's health where you can impact and impart wisdom.
Show 'Em How It's Done
One challenge as a parent is managing shifting priorities to stay on top of the needs of young loved ones. If there just isn't enough time in a day, then fitness goals, education pursuits, career choices, even getting enough sleep may get put on the back burner. But some of our most powerful lessons in life come from the example set by our parents, so if you really want to help your kids get off on the right foot in life, that typically means showing them the value of education. This can start with yourself, such as through books, podcasts, finishing your diploma or earning an advanced degree.
You Are What You Eat
Healthy eating can be one of the greatest challenges of a teenager’s life. With busy schedules and the freedom to drive, there are countless fast food drive-thru restaurants calling their name. Despite the often-hectic schedule, this is an important time for you to continue to provide healthy home cooked meals.
Educate your child on the importance of nutrition and caring for your body, and Martha Stewart points out you can even teach them how to cook for themselves. Instead of just asserting your authority to demand they eat their dinner, teach them what foods are important and why. Also, be sure to exercise portion control by serving meals and snacks on smaller plates, and by drinking plenty of filtered water. These measures will help you and your family avoid overeating. Armed with knowledge and cooking skills, your teen can develop healthy eating habits to carry into adulthood.
Fit as a Fiddle
Meal Prep on Fleek explains exercise helps prevent diseases, relieves stress, increases strength, and improves mood. If your child is on the high school soccer team or plays club baseball, they likely already get plenty of exercise. If your child prefers to sit in front of the television playing video games all day, then they need to learn how to incorporate more exercise into their daily life. In addition to teaching them the importance of moving your body, you can show them there are many different ways to exercise and help them find an activity they love—or even one you can do together, like tennis or golf.
Hit the Road
In addition to keeping your teen healthy through diet and exercise, you also need to instill safe driving habits. The joy of their newfound freedom may cause them to overlook the weight of responsibility and throw caution to the wind. Unfortunately, teenagers are at a higher risk of crash and injury behind the wheel.
You can teach your child safe driving by setting the example of what a safe driver looks like and by continuing to emphasize the importance of focusing on the road and removing distractions. It is also a good idea to explain auto insurance laws and what insurance covers, helping them understand different coverages and the consequences of an accident. And, for your peace of mind, you can even get an app that helps you stay on top of what’s going on when your kid hits the road.
Parenting is hard and comes with many challenges. Equipping your teen with the knowledge and skill set to prioritize their health and take good care of themselves is one of the greatest successes they can achieve. Teach your teenage child healthy habits, and they will carry them into adulthood for the rest of their life.
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Photo Credit: Pexels
Early Years at Home
When we refer to home we refer to a feeling of welcome, family, comfort and belonging. Licensed home child care offers the feeling of "home" with the benefits of early years pedagogy.