What started as a mom’s group 12 years ago has grown into 5 licensed child care centres, a summer camp and outdoor education centre. All of which are great places for kids and where I’ve made friends with the most wonderful people I could hope to meet.
For me, this is a very emotionally invested line of work. My husband will attest that I have a vigilance that starts at 7am each day and goes until 6pm when the last children go home.
In the beginning the entire AAK family worked under one roof. Staff could talk and collaborate on a daily basis. As we added new facilities we had the important job of maintaining a consistent service across the company. For me this was especially challenging because I wasn’t able to be two places at once. It became less about being physically there and more about hiring special people who share the same values as our organization.
We have an extensive 70 -page Best Practices manual that we give to new staff on the day they start with us, whether they are an infant educator, school age, or camp counselor. New candidates spend several hours reading the manual before they get to begin their work with the children. It describes how we as educators should give praise, plan for positive outcomes, be cheerful, and be clear in our expectations. It tells of our zero tolerance policy of prohibited practices and gives acceptable ways of disciplining in a positive way. It tells how and why to wash hands, prevent spread of illness, when to call a parent if their child is ill or injured. The manual describes how to evacuate 100 kids in less than a minute, while at the same time comforting them and making them feel safe. It tells that activities and materials should be age appropriate, and includes the importance of meeting developmental objectives.
The other day I did a training session with a new staff and had the pleasure of presenting this epic ‘Policy and Procedure’ novel. I always say; it’s very long, and it’s a bit dry…definitely not one of Heather’s picks, but I’ll tell you a secret that’ll make it a bit easier for you to remember. The first page of the manual is the most important.
Right in the first paragraph of this manual is our mission statement. It says at All About Kids keeps your child comfortable, confident and challenged.
Comfortable…that their basic needs are met, they are well fed, clean & dry, they have time to rest and time to play, they have time with friends and time for themselves, and if they’re not feeling well we do our best to get them home to where they’ll feel more comfortable. Most importantly, ensuring that they are happy.
Confident… this one is about creating positive esteem, by giving praise, relating clear messages, providing positive reinforcement, and by recognizing and accepting each child’s individuality and developmental level. Establishing trust, a sense of security, enhancing feelings of mutual respect, caring, and encouraging positive social interaction are all importance in nurturing a child’s confidence. Allowing children to select, plan, and organize their learning activities builds independence and confidence.
Challenged… understanding the importance of planning activities around success. Implementing lessons on a sliding scale because not all children learn equally or at the same pace. Recognizing children’s strengths, interests and abilities and planning a daily program that takes all of this into account.
Finally, when making a decision…any decision, I always refer to the title. All About Kids. We are all about kids. If you make a decision that is all about the kids then you will never be wrong.