A Chance to Shine… Again, and Again, and Again!
Back in March I wrote about professional development and setting an example for other child care providers. You can read them here and here. Between then and now, we have had the opportunity to lead the way in our community several more times. Here is what we’ve been up to:
Researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center visited our center to photograph our outdoor area to use as an example of what an appropriate outdoor environment for young children should look like. They will be using our program in their presentations on how to increase children’s activity level. Preliminary results of their study, Pause & Play, reveal that Louisiana preschoolers are sedentary for 80% of their day! 80%!
I was enlisted to consult on a playground makeover for two centers in the Denham Springs/Watson area. The center owner/director wants to create a more appropriate outdoor environment for her littles so she can increase the time they spend outdoors! She’s familiar with our program and has visited a few times to gather inspiration.
Ms. Tressa attended a workshop on music and its impact on development and learning. She quickly became the go to for the instructor to share practical suggestions about how to include music in all areas of curriculum and to share field tested outcomes on the benefits. (She also caused quite a stir when the subject of bare feet leading to increased sensory input came up!)
Ms. Angela visited and returned from Philadelphia where she accepted a National Child Care Teacher Award. We learned about this award a couple of years ago and Angela is our second staff member to be honored with this award in as many years. She was one of 50 (out of over 600 applicants across the United States including its territories and military bases around the world) to receive the award this year. The Terri Lynne Lokoff Foundation in partnership with Children’s Tylenol recognizes excellence in quality early childhood education and selects exceptional examples to be honored each year.
The Co-op hosted and several of us attended a health & safety training. A good part of the workshop revolved around food, nutrition & exercise and how that impacts children’s health. Sure, the material was not new to any of us. We provide healthy well–balanced snacks and lunches AND long, uninterrupted periods of active play but what I was most excited to see and what was worth extending our work day by 3 hours was the pride in my staff when other attendees asked for suggestions on healthy alternatives to what they serve the children in their care, alternatives to honey buns, pop tarts, rice krispie treats, fish sticks, chicken nuggets… My staff proudly listed all the things that we serve, even retrieved the menu off the kitchen door to pass around. They were, once again, leaders in the child care field. They shared not only suggestions for healthy snacks and lunches, they bragged, yes bragged, about how active our littles are and THEN pulled out photos of our littles engaged in mud, full body paint, water and all kinds of active, child-led play!
I am gearing up to present at an early childhood conference in North Carolina in September entitled The Great Outdoors: Meeting the Diverse Needs of All Learners Through Authentic Outdoor Experiences. A colleague and I were selected to share why outdoor experiences are vital and how these experiences can meet the needs of all types of learners and meet developmental benchmarks across all curriculum areas.
I saved the best news for last: We are opening a second location! We have secured a space in St. Francisville (a small town just to the north of BR) and will be opening a second center once we have secured all the proper permits and licenses. Littleville Playschool will mirror the child-led, play-based, authentic learning environment offered here at the Co-op. You can follow the progress here.
I am once again humbled by the amazingness of our staff and the community of families we have built. We sometimes forget that what we consider the norm is actually very progressive in early childhood education and very difficult to find in this community. We will continue to set the example in our community and we will continue to shine…again and again and again.