We were a smaller group than usual for our June conference call. Not surprising since summer is upon us! Still we had a good discussion around the following topics:
The basic question had to do with how does one “leave behind” work when one is at home. One reminder was that as early childhood caregivers/teachers it is very unlikely that we will leave behind the children in our care. They are forever tucked into our hearts, and thinking about them when we are away from them is normal. However, we can choose to think of them in a warm, holistic way and not get caught up in angst and worry.
It was also suggested to consider the transitions from and to work. Focu on the beauty around you on the drive to work and also begin to imagine the children and families in your care with warmth and tenderness. At the end of the day, focus on your home and the family you are returning to so that when you walk in the door you can be fully present for them.
One suggestion was to look at the schedule. Perhaps ending early on Fridays so that the end of the week has a sort of sweet surprise to look forward to. If this is not possible, you might be able to find something else that gives a special breath to the week. Look at the rhythms once again with your day and your week and see what you could SIMPLIFY!
A final suggestion was to remember that there are a lot of things you can do while the children are around you – to include things like making their birthday gifts or other crafting or repairing of things. Sewing, tending, all of those things can be done during the time you are with the children. But you have to make time in the daily/weekly rhythm where they are valued. For example, if you are making a child’s birthday gift, be sure you start enough days ahead of time so that you are not pressured to get it finished. This is the case with any project – give plenty of time. And limit the number of projects you do. Children are already overwhelmed in our society.
It was noted that there seems to be an increase of children with allergies and the question was whether others of us were noticing that. Rahima pointed out that when she wrote You Are Your Child”s First Teacher 25 years ago, she was writing about this topic then. If anything it has increased, but the “allergy of the day” seems to change.
We noted that children are experiencing so much sensory input these days, that may have something to do with why they appear to be allergic. It is almost as if their digestion is representing to us how overloaded they are. If we would slow down their lives, perhaps some of the allergies would be alleviated.
Parental anxiety was mentioned – many parents worry a lot obout food. One can ask, in some cases, whether the child would be allergic if the adults would be less anxious. However, one needs to be careful not to make assumptions about that.
The best thing is to have strong rhythms to the food that is offered throughout the week and to create meals and snacks that you know will meet the needs of the majority of the children in your group. For a child with extreme allergies that would overly limit what you could prepare for the rest of the children, you may need to ask the parents to provide the food for that child. In a case like that, try as best you can to not make the child feel singled out. For example, let’s imagine you are serving all the children from a big bowl in front of you. You could also have a smaller bowl with that child’s special food in it and still serve him/her from a bowl rather than just have it sitting in front of him while the other children are being served. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
Staff retention is one of the biggest challenges in traditional child care. It can be one of the challenges when first starting up as well. Several suggestions were offered:
- Have each new hire read Home Away From Home so they can understand the ideals and principles upon which you are caring for children
- Have an orientation with each new hire to talk about the ideals and give them time for questions.
- Have one or two half-hour meetings a week when a caregiver is new for her/him to ask questions.
- When meeting with the carrying group, have meaningful verses that you say together to draw the interest and intention of the spiritual beings wanting to connect with the center.
- Create as clear a spiritual intention as possible of the people who are trying to find their way to you, and then place an ad with that spiritual vision in your heart.
- Have an open house for local child care providers to visit the center and provide them with a video of some evening in-service thath provides them with a certificate of attendance for CEUs.
I know some other rich suggestions were offered in each of these topics, but that is what my brain could assimilate tonight. Thank you. As always if you have more to offer, please press Reply All and add it to the conversation.
Next month Rahima will host the call, so please send your questions to her in advance.
Sending love and gratitude to all,