What my daycare taught me...
I have always been a writer, just not a published one. But I also owned and operated a home daycare for 10 years. Any parent will agree that the amount of energy spent caring for children leaves little strength at the end of the day. So, how does a person care for 12 children and infants all under the age of five? If it sounds daunting, it is.
I went into my childcare career with plans of seeing happy youngsters arrive each morning, kiss their moms and dads goodbye and behave so perfectly that at the end of the day I would be proud of my amazing skills. Well it's partly true, I do have patience and the know how to care for children. However, when kids arrived crying, fighting, or vomiting, I watched the faces of the parents with trepidation, seeing the silent, slow rise of their eyebrows and wide eyes, implying 'Better you than me' while blurting out, "Oh my, so sorry, gotta go!" then rushing out the door leaving a child in tears and I, feeling very unsettled.
It was then I understood that nothing about daycare was going to be easy, but I was ready for the challenge. I would learn how to use the power of words and books to help me keep the children engaged, happy and always wanting to learn more.
Daycare is not for the squeamish or weak. I raised three kids, cared for nieces and nephews and even took child development classes, but nothing prepared me for being a "Daycare Mom." Not all of our days began in chaos, we did have several moments of calm, but...mostly on rainy days, and we have very few of those here in San Diego.
My daughter Lauren was the toddler provider. She taught preschool classes, art, song and reading. She was very good at what she did, and most of the time, children were happy to participate in classwork. However, when an outburst occurred, we would generally allow the child some quiet time with a book. The pictures always seemed to distract the child from the immediate situation. Books truly can save the day!
As a writer, I learned that even meltdowns can result in an adorable story. I observed the antics of the children in my daycare to help me see the thought process of children. Watching and listening to them during both sweet and sour situations helped create content for books worthy of writing.
All children are blank books, so how can we encourage little ones to someday become writers? The simple answer is to read to them. It costs very little, establishes a habit of reading and empowers kids to be creative. Reading to or with a child helps build their vocabulary and, in my opinion, introduce creative arts. We can't predict which children will become the next J.K. Rowling, Leonardo da Vinci, or a singer/song writer, but we can know which ones had a head start by reading to them.