If you’ve been following our blog for awhile, you should know that I am by no means new to the world of early childhood education. In fact, I have made it my life’s calling to better the environment where learning takes place – children and teachers included.
I’ve always resonated with the saying “you can’t fill from an empty cup.” I think as parents, teachers, and educators we spend so much of our focus on shaping young minds that we forget to take care of ourselves. And, with the priority of most institutions being benchmarks and school readiness, support for teachers becomes near nonexistent.
In my early years of working with children, I watched my coworkers experience burnout regularly. They lacked inspiration. They started to forget why they chose this field in the first place. Their choices were affecting the children. Following teacher led curriculum was discouraging to both parties. I watched as loud boisterous laughter and play became quiet time and structured learning just so that the teachers could catch a break. I experienced an incident at a childcare facility I previously worked at that inspired me to make a change. You can read more about my breaking point in traditional child care here.
I knew that I could make a difference in the lives of both children and teachers. I just had to find a way to bring back their “why.” I made it my job to not only educate children, but to support teachers. Each one of our teachers at Kids at Play has something unique and different to offer to our school, and I made it my mission to support each teacher individually to ensure that their authentic teaching style could shine. Having continued support from management helps empower our teachers to be their most authentic selves. Keeping them inspired flows on to the kids, and ensures their happiness as well. I believe that we learn best when we are truly inspired. And at Kids at Play, that’s exactly what we do.
In 2024, I am excited to announce that we will be opening our second location of Kids at Play in the Jacksonville, FL region. What started as a small idea to give freedom and authenticity a chance in early childhood education has grown into something I could’ve never imagined. We’ve created an environment that overflows with creativity. Through our programs such as Praise the Outdoors, teachers and students are able to collaborate ideas. Spending the entirety of our class time outdoors shifts the atmosphere. Teachers are able to observe and document different learning styles amongst children and our children are able to learn through play. Being outside together brings clarity. We’re able to respect one another for who we are. We can be intentional about how we teach and learn.
Facilitating teacher retreats has also been a priority to ensure support for our team. We make sure that our facility is closed for a week prior to the new school year so that our teachers have the time to reflect and rejuvenate. We have lower classroom ratios so that teachers don’t feel overwhelmed and encourage collaboration between classes, offering the unique strengths of different teachers.
As Kids at Play continues to grow, our priority will always be to facilitate an environment to support our children and families and our teachers and staff – to honor authenticity and individuality, and to create a positive work environment that overflows to the children. This support is what we need to see change in the field of early childhood education, and I am happy to be an early advocate. At our new location we are excited to bring more outdoors, more play, and more learning that natural way.