Moving Beyond Good Intentions
and into Quality Care
EARLY CHILDHOOD is definitely a service that continues to go through its own developmental stages. As the demand for childcare continues to increase, the quality of childcare struggles to keep up. I have worked in childcare for over 10 years in some form or another, and I have seen a huge shift in quantity over quality.
Yes, we need childcare, but more than anything, we need good quality childcare centers. I believe that childcare centers are really making a huge effort to offer good programs, and in many states, licensing is like white on rice, ensuring that childcare centers are safe and doing their due diligence to offer a decent service. More demand is being put on early childhood professionals to get certified, credentialed, educated, and trained, in order to work with children, and I think that is great! In fact, I believe it is very necessary in our diversified modern society.
It is not enough to be a good babysitter, and say you love to work with kids, but you have to prove it in the quality of your service. Don’t get me wrong, your love for children is a Great Start! As a matter of fact, it is the Best Start, because if this isn’t the strong motivator for you working with children, then you may not be the person for the job.
My goal for this is, to work towards Wholistic Childcare, where teachers are childcare professionals who work collaboratively with others and give children the freedom to be their natural selves.
I will be sharing what I have learned throughout this blog site, and what I believe to be steps toward achieving quality centers with quality teachers. Now, when I say quality centers you will not see a list of regulative policies, we have plenty of laws surrounding how to run a center safely, but my goal is to, again, bring in the Wholistic elements to the quality of childcare, and restore childhood to a more natural state of being in the institution of daycare.
Bring Your “A” Game!
Operating a childcare center is no easy task by far, nor is working directly with the children. It requires a lot of work, it is a huge responsibility, it doesn’t always pay well, it is taxing, and let’s face it; it is a high risk job. But more than all of the things we can see as burdensome, working with children is one of the most rewarding jobs to someone who is truly working in their calling.
We have to bring our “A” game to the childcare profession and that means we have to be willing to invest in being knowledgeable and hardworking, and not just a warm body who can handle the stress of the position.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
LOVE is the most important element, and without it your education isn’t enough either. So what is my point? My point is we have to establish a working balance in order to create quality centers with qualified professionals in the lead, and caring people on the team. My point is that childcare centers are in desperate need of people who are willing to connect with their teammates, the families they serve, and the children they are responsible for.
So What About Balance?
After a recent work experience in a center known for its high quality, I felt a deep sadness for the lack of connection and love that filled the center. While teachers had training, education, experience, and could implement a curriculum, recite policies, and perform all of the surface duties, on the flip side I worked with people who seemed burnt out, lacked enthusiasm in their job, struggled to exude joy, seemed engulfed in dutifulness and procedures, and had no interest in collaboration or connection with others. The result was actually a lack of quality in the center.
To my point, there were qualified early childhood professionals with all the accolades and rules remembered, but with no genuine display of love, respect, and connectedness with one another. And no interest in providing an overall true quality service. While we are putting on the professional faces, we are not able to get along with our teammates. Therefore, professional development without the loving caring aspect is a center that is broken and not whole.
But don’t despair, we can bridge this gap between educated professionals, loving care, and quality centers.
Contrary to Popular Belief…
Just because someone can tolerate children and get an education, doesn’t actually mean that they have what it takes to turn a childcare center into a quality program. The word that is coming up a lot in business alone is EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Why? Because this is what is needed. Childcare professionals have to be in tune and not just march to the beat of their own tune, avoiding the work of connection and collaboration. In order to turn well intended childcare centers into quality ones, we must go beyond showing up for the job, and start showing up for the kids we serve. Let’s be present!
The Research Is In!
The research has been done, and it shows that children need less of an academically structured program, and MORE of a PLAY TO LEARN environment. This proves that children need to be free to be children and not forced to uphold the academic standards of school age students.
Does that mean they cannot learn new things, learn academic material, and grow in knowledge…ABSOLUTELY Not. It does mean, however, that they are not students in a traditional classroom, but their classroom is largely revolved around real life experiences, hands on learning, active engagement, play, play, and learning through their interactive playing. We can use the traditional classroom for what it is worth when teaching children in early childhood, but we must be careful not to let the traditional classroom define the early childcare environment.
Simultaneously, children need teachers who care and teachers who know how to get along with others, if they want to teach children these same life skills and principles. Children need to see us practice what we preach to them. Children need to see adults modeling the same behavior and disciplines we expect from them.
We Can Turn Our Negatives into Positives, Our Dark into Light!
With all this being said, I believe that we have prime real estate when it comes to the teachers who are finding themselves working alongside children. I believe many of us want to do our best, but we also want to see it modeled so we know what that looks like. If we tap into what motivates us to work with children, keep ourselves from being consumed by policies and procedures and turn our attention to what it is that makes a childs light up, we our on our way. Even more, we must make it a point to work together. We need each other. We have so much to gain from one another if we will open up to it. We must become the models and change we want to see. Turn the negative into a positive by becoming the positive. Reach out and take the initiative to bridge the gaps.
Let’s Get Mindful, Goal Oriented, & Bridge The Gap!
Set some realistic goals. You can work towards accomplishing something productive, progressive, and mutually beneficial on a daily or weekly basis. Start by working to get more connected, becoming more collaborative, taking special interest in a child, becoming more observant to tap into what is needed, and start accessing your instincts. You will discover that in just a short period of time you are affecting positive change in your environment and you are bridging the gaps. Get aware of how your behavior and your attitude affects others, and make a conscious decision to treat others the way you want to be treated. We all have something special to offer, so let the light shine!
The good news is that this type of behavior is contagious. Just as being negative is contagious, being positive is also contagious, so be mindful of what you want to attract to your center, your students, yourself, and your professional reputation. Be sure to be the one who brings the joy, peace, and love to your center and start showing others what makes this thing work!
This is a start to Wholistic Childcare!