Today's post is from @sophnsully, a family childcare provider in Maine, USA.
So here it is. My first attempt at a blog post! I was thrilled to offer to contribute when Amy put out the request and have thought of a million different topics and ideas to share. Ideas that ranged from gun play in preschool to technology in the early childhood setting. Not wanting to take on the NRA or Raffi with my very first blog post, I decided to draw comparisons between my newest passion of running with my oldest passion of caring for young children.
I am a runner. I am so proud to write those words. I haven’t always been a runner, in fact, just a little over two months ago I had run VERY little since high school. Now, with the coolest Asics sneakers, a hat that has a hole for my ponytail and gloves that I can operate my iPhone with...I (pause for effect) am a runner. I have put more than 200 miles on my purple and silver sneakers mostly at night and mostly in below freezing temperatures. I run mostly on the road, my quiet country road, and it is on this road that I have found myself. Dramatic I know...but true. I run five miles at a time and have averaged 25 miles per week all while listening to a playlist that has songs ranging from Eminem to Drake and could never be shared during child care hours. While I have fallen madly in love with running and what it has done for me mentally and physically, it hasn’t necessarily been pretty. I have needed motivation and support. The support that I have received from social media has been the most surprising. Following running pages on Facebook and using the motivational quotes has been shockingly helpful. I have always been moved by quotes when they were about social issues and political points of view but secretly gagged when they were about fitness. Now, prior to a workout, I log on to my running pages to choose a quote as the mantra for that particular run.
At this point I’ve gone on much longer about running than I had intended and I probably even lost a few readers or several of you are gagging as I once did when I listened to how much people loved running and how alive it made them feel...blah blah blah! So come back to me now...I promise I am going to connect this to early childhood!
While away this past weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I took advantage of the 40 degrees and set off for a run with the specific goal of deciding on a topic for my NaBloPoMo post. I was barely out of breath before it came to me! Working with the littles is EXACTLY like running. EXACTLY!
“Running never takes more than it gives back, believe in the run.” Nike
The words running and run in the above quote can so easily be switched out for “young children.” Go ahead try it... “Young children never take more than they give back, believe in the young children.” Now, I know what each of you just did, you each said “not every kid...this one time...” But wait, if you dig so deep and allow yourself to be so honest, you have to admit that you learned more, grew more, or changed more because of “that” kid. It may take some time to see the results of a run, feel the strength in your legs or have the clarity in your thoughts but like Nike says...believe in the run. Or believe in the kid...whichev!
“If you wait for the perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done.” Ecclesiastes
This one is so meaningful to me as I care for a mixed age group and I am forever wondering if they are ready for or able to process and grow from a certain topic, book, or skill. Like each of you in your classrooms, you never have each child in exactly the same space emotionally or educationally so you have to go for it and differentiate like a crazy person. Of course my eight month old isn’t going to be ready for the things that my four year olds are but he can still grow from being a part of the learning that takes place. One of the greatest things about caring for a mixed age group is that the children often do the differentiating for me. They extract as much as they can from a learning opportunity and then in their play, expose the younger children to the new concepts at levels only children can reach. I love this. If you wait for the weather, time or mood to be just right you’ll never run. If you wait for every child to be on the same “page” you’ll never teach what you need/want to teach!
“I'm not telling you it is going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.” Art Williams
The connection that this has to education and caring for young children is obvious. I find it most relates to teaching routines and standard operating procedures. The first steps are brutal, the follow through can be excruciating but the end result is pure beauty. It’s never easy...ever! Sometimes it’s not even fun...sometimes! But, I’m sure I speak for most of you who are taking the time to read a guest blog on a site dedicated to enriching the lives of the very young when I say it is always worth it...ALWAYS!
“It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard...is what makes it great.” A League of Their Own
This quote is similar to the last but it points out how we are different. Those of us that choose to spend our days with the very young know that we are a different breed. We have patience, we see potential, we create possibilities! We do all this with a part of the population that can’t even zip their own pants. We choose to come back day after day, pour our souls into creating learning opportunities, give emotional support (but not always give out bandaids...right @mmekathleen?) and do it with enough energy to power a small city. We know that while an outsider might see chaos, frustration, tears and even a little bit of puke (that was for you @mattbgomez) we all know that putting the time and effort into these children will pay off big time. Now and later.
“You’ve felt it haven’t you? Those feelings that seem to get so big in your chest like something is so beautiful it aches?” Heather Anastasiu
This totally happens to me! Both running and with the child care! I get so excited by these moments and they often happen when I least expect it and sometimes not as frequently as I would like. When they happen, I force myself to say out loud “I’m paying attention...I get it!” If I’m running I say those words to myself, if I’m around children, I say them to the closest kid. For some reason, acknowledging that beauty with words makes it more real and helps me to remember how special the moment was! These moments may not seem as beautiful to anyone else but we all know these moments.
Finally, a picture. One that always makes me laugh and one that is probably pretty true! Also, how much do I want to know and teach this little girl???
Audrey says: Audrey O’Clair lives in Newburgh, Maine with her husband Marc, ten year old daughter Sophie and three year old son Sullivan. She is currently an accredited family child care provider for six children ages 8 months to four years. Prior to opening the child care, Audrey was a 7th grade special education teacher. Working with a local school district as a family literacy consultant keeps Audrey involved with the public schools and allows her additional opportunities to feed her passions of literacy and technology. Audrey co-authored an article for NAFCCs Teaching Young Children publication on using tablets with young children which can be viewed at http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/touch_and_grow.