When did we become a community?

When did we become a community?

As I reflect over my six and a half years as a family child care provider I wondered when we evolved into a community? A daycare family? This feeling of community really hit home this past week for me. In March, because of Covid-19, all my regular children stayed home with their families.  Now, after about two and a half months away, the children have started trickling back. One of the kids brought me an envelope her first week back. I happily opened it and found a picture she had created for me as well as a small toy the resembled a moose she got from a Kinder Surprise egg. Her mom said as soon as she saw it she wanted to give it to me. (You see, I do have a love of Moose and over the past few years I always seem to get tagged in a lot of Moose videos, photos and receive many Moose gifts.) I was so touched that she thought of me, even though we had not been together at daycare for quite some time, and wanted to share her toy with me. This is not the only Moose that I have received over the years from the kids I care for. Each time it happens I am struck that they remember me and my love of Moose even when they are away. But it’s more than Moose. A few months ago a child brought me a potato. His dad said he was adamant that I had this. I was just as touched about him thinking of me and wanting me to have the potato as I was about all the Moose. It is more than ‘gifts’, it is about the thinking of others who we care for and are important in our lives. I have had parents tell me their child adds me to the nightly lists of who they love. This certainly goes both ways. When I am on holidays or away from daycare and I see something that makes me think of one of my kids, I know I have to buy it. It could be a book about a topic a child is really interested in right now or it could be a toy/activity/loose part that I know one of them would enjoy. I also see the relationships the children and parents are building with each other. The kids are quick to offer assistance to on another with anything from getting a toy down, putting on a jacket, pouring water, etc. When a child arrives, they are often greeted with stories, and ideas of play and sometimes hugs wether they want them or not before they even get in...

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Looking for the Bright Side of Covid-19

Looking for the Bright Side of Covid-19

There is a lot to complain about when it comes to our current situation; being stuck ( Oh I mean self-isolated) at home, our entire world being disrupted, missing events we were looking forward to, school being closed, lost income, I could go on… but just for a moment what if we looked for a few good things.   Meeting New People I have spent some time thinking about this. What good has come from my current situation? For me the first thing is the new people I have met. Yes!!! I have met many dedicated ECE’s through this pandemic. They have all been through different zoom groups and facebook live events and they have been from across Canada and all over the USA . Many of them are like-minded and I am drawn to groups that have a similar philosophy but I have also met people in these groups who have stretched and challenged my thinking. My family keeps teasing me about all the Zoom calls I have but unlike them I work from home so my world is pretty small and generally only includes my family and the child/ren I care for. I love the kids in my care but I need that adult connection and conversations! While my family are off at work seeing other people, I am working from home so my way of ‘getting out’ is to join groups on Zoom. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom… Slowing Down (and learning to enjoy it… well I’m trying to enjoy it) I don’t sit still very well. I tend to be a putterer, always needing to move. Through all of this I have not closed my program but I have been running at much lower numbers. Actually I had one child for several days. This was a struggle for me for awhile as I pushed myself from puttering and moving most of the day to slowing down and taking a breath. This brought me to a whole new way of looking at my day. I was able to really experience following the flow of the child (since there was only one to follow). We played at his pace, ate at his pace, and engaged in the day at his pace. I realized I was wound up so tight pre-Covid that I was becoming hyper focused on aspects of the schedule. This is kind of funny as my schedule is pretty loose and free flowing but lunch is at 11:30 and darn it, we were going to eat at 11:30! I forgot how to slow down and just sit, just sit…and find the joy. I still find my mind going five different direction but that is an improvement over...

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What was my favourite decade in childcare?

What was my favourite decade in childcare?

I always smile (and brace myself a little) when I get a message that starts out, “Please don’t take offence….” I received this from a past college student and now a respected peer. She wanted to know what my favourite decade in the child care field has been. This implies I have seen a few, and as much as I’d like to think I’m not that old I suppose I am and have seen a few decades go by. I wasn’t really sure what she was looking for so I shared the changes with her that I have seen over the past 30 plus years. This included my personal perspective and growth from being a greenhorn and with really no concrete ideas of my own though my journey to developing and sharing my own strong philosophy. I covered politics and how they have progressed – or not progressed. (Who else remembers the day we had an organized ‘strike’ in the early 90’s? I had a sweatshirt that read Caught in Charlottes Web in reference to Charlotte Oleson, PC MLA at the time – my big political contribution in those days.) We then went on to discuss mentors and who were mine and how I found my purpose when I was lost. I covered a variety of topics but not in a deep way. Did this answer her question? Not really.. she then wanted to know which decade I felt the child care field had seen the most improvement. She was really trying to search for some hard answers. I feel each decade had its own challenges and strides forward or backward. I felt for me it is hard to compare them equally as my understanding of both the political side and the professional (actual hands on) side of child care has changed for me as I’ve gotten to know others, read more, networked more, and grow in my knowledge and confidence. We then dissected the ideas and dug a bit deeper…   Advocacy We talked about how much more advocacy is happening right now. Who knew it was going to be a pandemic that got things really rolling! Our field is standing up like never before and the conversations are revolving around how essential we are to making it possible for essential healthcare workers to go to work and to providing care getting the economy back open. There are also more conversations about quality and what that actually is. I do feel there are a lot more people having a lot more conversations about child care and the importance of the early years and the understanding of brain development now than ever before. Parents We also reflected on  parents and...

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What does quality care look like in times of a Pandemic?

What does quality care look like in times of a Pandemic?

I have heard it said that those of us providing child care during Covid-19 need to remember that this is emergency care and that it isn’t going to look like the ‘regular care’ we would normally provide (pre-pandemic).  There was a feeling that because we were in emergency mode that this would effect the quality and that we as ECE’s were to be just managing day to day… that somehow in this time of Covid-19, that it was ok to function at a lesser level of quality…but what does that quality look like in these new times? My thoughts and opinions comes from a place of relative safety. I have not been effected by this very much at all. I am located in a province with very low numbers of cases,  my program continues to run and children can attend if their families choose but as I talk to others and read and listen to various blogs and videos, I can certainly see care is looking very different in different parts of the world. In some child care programs children 2 and up as well as staff are being instructed to wear MASKS! They have no choice! I have had to seriously reflect on how I feel about this. My initial gut reaction is that it is awful and I could never do this but after I met and listened to Cori Berg tell her story, I had to pause and really think about this. She is located in Texas and her program cares for children who’s families are front lines of the fight of this virus in her county. Their children need somewhere to go and they too are entitled to what we talk about being quality care. Cori has kept her program open and is trying her hardest to continue to provide these families the best care she can within the rules and regulations that have been set out by the people that oversee her program. I can see her heart and her weariness of all the work she has to do everyday when she speaks. (check out Cori’s page and videos of her journey on facebook at ECE form the Heart with Cori Berg) When I look at the new children of ESW I have, I see children who have been moved from programs they know, caregivers they have grown to trust and from children they have build friendships with to my program which is completely new to them. They now need to get to know and trust me, learn about my environment, navigate the different expectations I have here, and meet and build relationships with new kids. This is not easy for us as adults,...

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Am I Slowly Going Crazy During Covid? (aka Stop the insanity and Let Them Play!)

Am I Slowly Going Crazy During Covid? (aka Stop the insanity and Let Them Play!)

It is amazing how much life can change in a matter of days. We went from life as we know it; going to school, work, child care, shopping and anything else we choose to attend to then being grounded like we are teenagers all over again. We are being told to stay home for our own safety and that of others. Now heading to the grocery store feel like we are putting our lives and family at risk. This new reality is scary. (and if in completely honest, Im tired of it!) For the first few weeks we were living consistently functioning at bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (I am sure I first learned about him in high school then studied him again in College.) We were all just worried about getting from one day to the next without loosing our minds! To add to this stress we were being asked to work from home, keep our children home and in some cases become their teachers all the while having no physical support from anyone who didn’t already live with us. Then we are to add a whole lot of Zoom calls! There are some of us who never knew about Zoom before but we are now experts! If that wasn’t bad enough we needed to add the daily updates from the provincial and federal government and the Chief Medical officer and and and constant bombarding of the news from all over the world. (I occasionally contemplated rolling up in a ball in the corner and hiding until it was all over!)   How do Children deal with it all?  Children deal with fears and things they don’t understand through play. They act it out, they talk, they use pretend play. This is how they try to make sense of what is happening around them. Don’t stop them. Don’t stop this type of play if you see it. It may make us feel uncomfortable but they need to do this. This is their way of dealing and coping and trying to figure to all out. Let them play! We may think we have been shielding our children from what is happening in the world. Really we are not. They are hearing us talk and the stress and anxiety in our voice, they hear it on the radio, and see it on tv. It is all around and as much as we want to keep it from them, they know something serious is going on. Let them play!!     What the ‘bleep, bleep’ is going on?  I am part of a variety of early childhood education (ECE) groups on facebook and in the virtual world and what I am...

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I Love the Circle of Security!! (now let me tell you why)

I Love the Circle of Security!! (now let me tell you why)

If you have read any of my ramblings, you know I love to learn. Last year I received an email from Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care inviting people to apply to take this new training that was being offered. It was explained as being important for us as early childhood educators because it focused on relationships with children and then being better able to help them with their emotional challenges rather than managing their behaviour. I jumped at the chance and applied! In September I was off to the training. This was the first time I was ever exposed to Circle of Security. I discovered it has been around for about 15 years. It is based on years and years of solid research on attachment theory. It was mind blowing and mind overload all at the same time and I was hooked! I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to see what this program can do not only for the children we care for but for ourselves. It was 4 days of intensive facilitator training with one of the creators of the program.  Then there was a 5th bonus day to help us see how to present this great information to other early childhood educators. The Circle of Security is based on…. a circle! We are the hands on this circle, providing a secure base to support children’s explorations and to be the safe haven when they need us. This program challenges us to look at where we are comfortable on this circle and where we struggle to support the children we care for?  Another benefit I got from this training is I am now able to provide the training for others. I have been able to facilitate groups and spread the word. I am always excited to talk with anyone who is interested in this program.  The book written by the creators of Circle of...

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