Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Working Towards a New Joy

I've had a lot of changes and switch ups in the past couple of months. We've moved to a new house, I've said good-bye to members of our daycare family, I've welcomed new members of ur daycare family, School let out, Summer routines began (sort of), I've gone from an older, more independent daycare group, to a much younger one, I've incorporated new ideas collaborated with Stephanie this winter from ERC's Quality Connections program, I've re-focused my thoughts and efforts about the daycare and much more...

Before I go into my next step, I'll take a long step back.... to the decision to start a home-based daycare. When T was born, I was working outside the home. We sent her to daycare. I wasn't unhappy with any of my choices. We started at one place when she was an infant, but then moved, so we went to another place. The 2nd place, too, was fine, but we ended up with another move to one closer to my job and in Topeka for the convenience of doctor appointments, etc. While I wasn't unhappy with my choices, none of them made me jump up and down with excitement for the care my baby was getting - I dropped her off, didn't see her all day and when I picked her up, I had no idea what her day was like or what she did during her day... When she was a little under 2, the company I worked for relocated and I began working from home, keeping Tyler with me. When S was born, when T had just turned 3, I kept them both home with me while I worked. Three months after S was born, the company I was working for was struggling and I, along with many others, was laid off. I was really enjoying being home with my kids and knowing what their day was like - I couldn't imagine sending them off to someone else's care again. I looked into the options of becoming a licensed child care provider and jumped right in.

Once I got started, I knew I could go down 1 of 2 different roads - I could be a babysitter, keeping kids, letting them play or watch tv while I took care of my kids, did housework, watched tv, etc., or I could offer a service to my community I hadn't really experienced while T was in home child care - I could provide communication to the parents about the children's day, provide them with educational opportunities and prepare them for kindergarten, challenge myself to continually educate my self in the child care feed, while providing a fun, safe, loving environment for the families I was working with. This is an on-going process. Sometimes I do a lot better than others. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants - which is why I participated in the Quality Connections program this winter.
I've always loved the kids, loved my choice, loved part of my job, but there are times when I also just feel tired and get frustrated. Honestly, lately, due to so many changes and just being worn out, I've been at that point. I am excited for this tool to help me find the joy again. I know this is what I want to do, I can't imagine making a change, but I need the joy again and I am confident this class series will help me to focus on that joy!

The first part of the program began with an evaluation of my program using a rating scale. Upon looking over the results of the evaluation, we focused on some areas to improve and try new things in. Then, over the next several months, Miss Stephanie would come visit the kids and I to work with me on these new ideas. I received a $300 grant to purchase new supplies for my program and was re-evaluated at the end. I was pleased to see that my evaluation was improved across the board and I am excited about the ideas we came up with together and the things I learned.

Once we moved, I have been able to put many of those ideas into play - child sized furniture, accessability of toys and variety of toys, displaying of the kids' pictures and art work and more - there are many other ideas I've still got I'm working toward incorporating as well. With the move, a new group and summer all hitting at about the same time, I've struggled with being a bit overwhelmed at times and being motivated to do my absolute best for the kids - it can be awfully easy to just let them play with no purpose or to choose to watch tv - I always catch myself before I let that temptation take over too much, but I knew I needed another push.

Then I received information about Quality Connections II - the next step! My favorite gal, Michelle contacted me to talk to me about it and the word that kept getting my attention was motivation. I needed another kick in the seat!

Last night was the orientation for QCII - I am doing the program with my buddy, my partner in crime, my personal motivator, Laura and I am excited to spend the time with her, while learning and being motivated by Michelle and Karla from ERC! You can't help but be motivated by Michelle - she is like a bundle of positive energy with a true passion for kids and child care - I try to hit as many of the classes she teaches as I possibly can (and it doesn't hurt that she's family and I truly love her!). Karla, I'd heard fabulous things about, but hadn't met her personally yet - but... loved her personality and can tell she really has a heart for this, too!

Michelle and Karla - our Teachers!

Me, Karla, Laura & Michelle - Read to begin our journey... Karla and Michelle - are you ready for us?!

With Laura, we'll, at the very least, be having fun!

Look - there it is - a little of that joy, already!
I'm set with my book to read on planning Child Centered Curriculum which, from what the gals said, is going to get me excited to teach the kids in a new way. I've got my homework to do, I've got thoughts in my mind from things we talked about last night like - slowing down, and refreshing myself plus much more.

I didn't know if this would be another one of those things I ended up feeling was an obligation, but after last night's discussions with Michelle and Karla, the other gals in the group and Laura - I am excited to get underway! I am easily motivated and I am excited to see what making some positive changes in the daycare will do for the kids and for me! Stay tuned...


Laura Fluke said...

awe... we so cute... and our daycare's ROCK!!! But we can always use the new ideas and motivation!!! Awesome post....

Anonymous said...

Dawn,.. you're so awesome! I love reading your blog! Can I start coming to your daycare?


Anonymous said...


You do an amazing job! As a parent of one of your daycare kiddos it has always been nice to know that although you might get in a rut as we all don't let it last long until you are trying something new or moving in a different direction. That has always been one of the things I have loved about your daycare!!!!
Although, I know that K is ready to move on and somedays you probably want to give her the boot as the only older one left it saddens my heart that we are only a couple of weeks away from leaving your daycare family. Thank you for the past 5 years and everthing you have done for my girls!!! Barb