This year’s All Our Kin conference theme is “Caterpillar to Butterfly,” a very relevant metaphor for the world of child care, which is constantly evolving.
There are four stages to a butterfly’s life: the egg stage, the larvae (caterpillar) stage, the chrysalis stage and then the adult butterfly. It’s an amazing transformation: nature at its most flamboyant. I can’t help but compare this cycle to my own transformation, with the help of All Our Kin, from someone who wanted to run a daycare in order to stay home with her newborn daughter to a full-fledged business owner with the tools to provide the children in her care with a good foundation for their own education.
The Egg Stage: The egg was hatched right before my daughter was born. I found out that maternity leave in the US is nowhere near as long as the full year offered to new mothers in the UK, where I’m from. So, I decided to find a way to stay home with my daughter while making a living. Home daycare was the logical choice, as I had a lot of experience with childcare. During my research on how to become a daycare owner I came across All Our Kin. I was a little apprehensive about starting a business by myself, and I was amazed by the resources offered by All Our Kin. Suddenly, the thought owning a daycare was not quite so intimidating. I realized this was something I wouldn’t have to tackle alone.
The Larvae (caterpillar) Stage: Caterpillars eat and eat during this stage. Ever read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle? It’s a favorite among the children I care for. But, though I love food, I have to use the eating and growing as more of a metaphor here. I ingested as much information from All Our Kin as I could. Their Tool Kit Licensing Program is awesome. They gave me boxes filled with everything I needed to start the process of opening a family child care: brochures, application forms, the Department of Public Health’s rules and regulations, a fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, socket covers, water thermometers. All Our Kin even provided CPR, first aid, and medical administration training. The final box had toys, books and supplies. I completed the Tool Kit Program with a workshop that was exciting and powerful, filling me with inspiration.
This was just the start of all the education I would be getting, free of charge, from All Our Kin. I couldn’t get enough. I felt that I needed to gorge on everything available, to fill my mind with as much as possible. I was an absolute glutton and loved every morsel.
Then, I went into a kind of hibernation.
The Chrysalis Stage: Okay, so it was an unintended hibernation. It took me a full year to get children enrolled in my daycare, but I wasn’t idle during that time. In a nannying job, I used all the information I had devoured. I ruminated on everything I was learning.
When I opened my daycare with two toddlers enrolled and, of course, my own little girl, everything started fitting into place. As part of All Our Kin’s New Teacher Mentor Program, an educational consultant visited weekly, offering priceless advice and modeling activities for the children. I even received a raised garden through All Our Kin’s Gardening Project, along with visits from a consultant who helped plant the veggies, taught me about the garden, and excited the children enough to get them to try everything they grew – even radishes and Brussel sprouts! I went on to receive valuable business training and even more curriculum support from All Our Kin.
The Butterfly Stage: It goes without saying that all this education, mentoring and encouragement allowed me to spread my wings and soar. It’s allowed me to engage the children in many ways that I may not have thought of before. We create activities and crafts to go along with the books we read. We base our learning around themes like fish and ocean life, bugs and insects, even themes as simple as colors. All Our Kin has provided me with a priceless resource of information that I can use at any time to educate the children in my care.
For me, the butterfly stage is not the end of the transformation. With All Our Kin’s continuing support through monthly meetings, workshops, classes and their yearly conference coming up, I feel that I can keep growing, keep transforming, keep soaring.