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.
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.
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