Since becoming a part of the Arkansas Better Chance System at times I have felt sad. I look back at old pictures of our play groups and think wow.. those were the days. The kids no longer play in our ” living space” anymore. There arent cozy couches to crawl up on when we are tired – they have been replaced with ” alone spaces.” My kitchen is up the stairs and the parents no longer come into the kitchen in the morning when I am cooking. There is all kinds of signing in and out and washing hands numerous times and counting materials to make sure they are still there. Many traditional family childcare providers would probably say that settings like mine ” are not really family child care anymore.” I will admit at times , I have thought the same.
Today… I had one of those moments in life that I stopped and took a deep breath and said ” This is good. This IS family childcare ! ”
Last night I hosted a bread cooking class . Raenelle , Kat’s grandma was the teacher. I did it for so many reasons. I think the art of cooking and passing down cooking skills and recipes from generations is getting lost in the shuffle of a busy life. I feel part of my job as a teacher is to help these parents build relationships with each other so that has their child enters school they have a larger support network to help them be successful. Parent’s money is tight and getting tighter and cooking at home is always less expensive and healthier . I think having the families in my home brings our relationship to a whole new level – so they know me as more than a teacher. Many would think that isnt important but is SO important. If you had some thing that was of great value to you such as a wedding ring or a family heirloom would you ask someone to hang on to it all day and trust that they would take good care of it ? Would you be nervous and skeptical ? YES! Parents walk in every day and trust me with their child – their most treasured possession in the world. To a teacher they might just be a child but ” to someone that child is their whole world.” Parents deserve to know me in a more personal way since we are building such a huge bond of trust. I also think sometimes mommies are tired. All they ever get to do is take care of people. Last night was all about fun and just having a good time with other moms. And last but not least – I LOVE bread… like seriously.. love. Love. Bread….
This morning as the parents and grandparents came in there was much talk about last night and even more laughs. People were swapping stories about the times they saw their mom or grandmother cook and favorite recipes. As the kids came in they went about their daily routine but could hear the moms laughing and talking together. I am a schedule person but as I looked around the room I realized what was going on was so much more important than my daily schedule. There was a family building… a school family.
Mid morning we all went into the kitchen and cooked puppy chow.. the pretend dog food made from chex cereal. The kids LOVE coming into the kitchen to cook. If some of my best memories are of my mom and grandmother cooking then surely.. we can help build some memories of cooking with these little ones. We all piled around the island and we scooped and poured and shook until our puppy chow was ready to eat… just like a family
Later in the morning since we have been talking about pets all week and dogs in specific we decided to give sport a bath. I took the shower doors off the shower and 15 kids one adult and one dog piled in the main bathroom and we gave the dog a bath. I did the work but they watched. Afterwards we combed Sport out and blow dried his hair. Sport loved it . The kids loved it. You dont see this happen much if ever in a center based program.. it felt like we were home.
Today at lunch Lilly spilled her milk. Our rule at the table is if you spill it , not a big deal, just clean it up. We try to teach kids to be responsible for their own messes. Immediately Katelyn and Lyndee jumped up and help get towels and begin to dry off the mess. Lilly was a little upset because of her accident so as she sat next to me and I hugged her to assure her it was ok, the girls cleaned it all up. Lyndee even arrived at Lilly’s spot with a cup of water and patted her and told her it would be ok. As I got Lilly back to her seat Katelyn turned around and begin to talk to her about it and remind her that it was just spilled milk and that it was ok.
Yes, I think we are still a good example of family childcare. We might not be as small as some. Our money might come to us in a different way. We might have three playrooms instead of the children’s things being throughout our living area. but we are still family.