The days go fast, your nights go even faster, and ‘free time’ is a past phrase. You have the huge responsibility of the wellbeing, social-emotional development, and education of young children in a mixed aged setting, at least five days a week. Those in the family child care business tend to have plenty of education and/or tremendous experience in raising their own children or other’s for many, many years and all of that knowledge comes back naturally each day within your program. The majority of family child care providers are the owner + cook + bathroom attendant + driver + lawn service + maintenance worker + teacher + counselor + mother figure. The job description is long, and most times it falls on just one person, leaving adult discussion, problem solving and the time to get together with other providers, much to be desired.
The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, through the Race to the Top Grant-Early Learning Challenge, funded a website solely for Family Child Care Providers with the slogan “On your own. But not alone”. This website is called Town Square and is available for you to access at your convenience, with no fee. Creators of Town Square looked at how people currently access information on the internet and mirrored that in this site. It has similarities to Pinterest and Facebook; where you can pin articles, videos and resources to a cork board for future viewing. Town Square gives providers opportunities to watch, discover, discuss, and grow through a multitude of avenues. Webinars are approved through Gateways Registry and modules give you credit towards your FCC Credential. Shorter videos and blogs allow you to get a quick how-to, recipe or idea on something you can implement into your program that day. Forums allow providers to start a topic of conversation and allow for solutions, ideas, or a swap of tangible materials. It meets the needs of personal interaction, appreciation, and connection that can sometimes be lost as home day care provider.
I invite you to create an account and poke around all of the resources available to you right at your fingertips. Since this site is still fairly new, please help by spreading the word to all of your provider friends.