The Importance of Building Teacher-Child Relationships

The Importance of Building Teacher-Child Relationships

Imagine this scenario: A parent drops off their sleeping child at Illuminating Child Care. The teacher and parent transition the child successfully without waking her up.  A few minutes later, the child starts to wake up, noticing that the environment is different and that her mom is not there. Now, we all know what happens next. She starts to cry, looking around and trying to figure out where she is. The teacher, noticing the child’s discomfort, starts to interact with her at eye-level.

Lead teachers at Illuminating Child Care are building positive relationships with infants and toddlers ages 0-3, just as these kiddos are beginning their first educational experiences. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning says that “teacher behaviors such as listening to children, making eye contact with them, and engaging in many one-to-one, face-to-face interactions with young children promote secure teacher-child relationships.” And these types of teacher behaviors are critical to establishing a teacher-child relationship.

But why are teacher-child relationships important?

Relationships between a teacher and a child are important because they are built in agreement.  Children agree to show up as themselves and teachers agree to create the environment and experiences to meet their needs.  The child naturally needs to feel comfortable, responded to and loved in their environment. The role of the teacher is to influence the relationship and learn how to positively interact with the child in their care while also responding to the needs of the child. These teacher-child relationships create foundational experiences that influence trust, encourage developmental milestones, social and emotional regulation, healthy interaction and the ability to form secure relationships throughout life. 

In the scenario described above, the teacher picked up on the child’s needs and immediately started to interact with her by using her name, using warm language and strategies that calm the child.  As the teacher interacts with the child, she begins to respond to the teacher and settles into the environment.  

In every teacher-child interaction, there is an opportunity to build relationship.  The teacher supported the relationship by assuring the child she is in a safe place and the child responded to the teacher by demonstrating the ability to self-regulate. Teacher-child relationships are important because they are built on trust, familiarity, consistency, and following the lead of the child. Research from the Early Childhood Training and technical Assistance System tells us that “what you do to foster these relationships in your environment, interactions, and routines can have a long-term positive impact on infants’ and toddlers’ development.”

Teachers play a special role in the lives of children in their care. They create repeated opportunities to build trust in the relationship. And that’s exactly what our Lead Teachers at Illuminating Child Care are doing every day.

Patsy Bruce is the Child Care Manager for Illuminating Child Care at Illuminate Colorado. 

The Positive Impact of Child Care For Parents Is as Sweet as Honey

The Positive Impact of Child Care For Parents Is as Sweet as Honey

Illuminating Child Care isn’t just delivering a service that is the foundation to all thriving economies by providing child care. It’s a program tearing down barriers, meeting parents where they are at and allowing families to grow stronger together. We sat down to talk with two parents among the first to rely on Illuminating Child Care to find out what impact having free access to child care teachers helping their infants and toddlers learn and grow onsite means to them while they are trying to get the support they need to strengthen their families.  

“As a single mother, and as a single mother in recovery, the greatest barrier to me being able to complete those tasks that I need to complete and stay on track would be child care,” said Karie, one of several parents who’ve depended on Illuminating Child Care over the last month. “Honey is allowing me, as a mother, to stay on top of those other parts of my life so well.”

Honey is the name of Illuminate’s first mobile child care classroom, which began serving the Denver metro area this Fall by visiting places where people are addressing issues like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, so parents and providers don’t have to worry about arranging for child care. The second, yet to be named, mobile child care classroom is scheduled to begin serving communities in the San Luis Valley early next year. 

One of the things Karie said she loves about Illuminating Child Care is that, even though she and Ava, her infant daughter, are apart for a short time, she doesn’t miss out on what’s happening with her daughter. “They provide the little report cards that allow me to stay updated with what’s happening with Ava during those couple of hours or so, so I know exactly what’s gone on with my child while she’s in the (mobile child care classroom). It allows me to not miss a beat as a mother.”

Illuminating Child Care couldn’t have come at a better time for Leana, a parent who not only uses Illuminating Child Care, but also helped advise Illuminate on the development of the program and services. “It’s a great program for the season of life that I’m in right now,” Leana said. “I believe that it’s just part of the new leaf that I’m turning over in my life. I think it’s a great program that’s available for mothers or fathers…. I believe these things are put in place for a reason.”

Having a safe place to take Nora, Leana’s daughter, has also allowed her to take time to work on important things in her life. “I can take care of some personal business and I can do the things that I need to take care of onsite there and I know that she is in good hands,” Leana said. “Even though it was a little scary at first, you know, being a mom and leaving your child. . . . I just felt that it was a really calming experience.”

According to Karie, it’s been such a gift to have someone to watch over her daughter, Ava. The communication and love from the Illuminate staff are so important and so meaningful to both her and her daughter. “I just love them so much,” Karie said of Madison, Eric and Patsy, the Illuminate staff on Honey. “I feel like they love Ava and I love that. I just have no worries or stress. I don’t doubt the level of care they provide for Ava.

Before any parent can begin to address any complex issue impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, they are far too often faced, first, with struggling to find child care. This fall, Illuminate Colorado launched Illuminating Child Care, our newest program, bringing an innovative systemic-approach to increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations. The program may just be getting started, but lives are already being impacted, including Karie, Ava, Leana and Nora. 

 

Innovation Through Partnership: Creating “Honey”

Innovation Through Partnership: Creating “Honey”

We know that access to child care is critical for all parents and caregivers in order for children, families and communities to thrive. So it was fairly easy to recognize the need for a mobile child care classroom to serve Colorado families when they need it the most. Figuring out how to make it a reality was a little more complicated.

Through a lot of hard work and with the help of some incredible partners, that reality is finally here. We’re so excited to introduce Honey.

As a foundational part of Illuminating Child Care, Honey is the first of its kind anywhere in the country. 

 

But none of this would be possible without our partners on this project. One of those partners is Proctor Productions, a full-scale design and fabrication firm with a team of passionate designers, fabricators, and storytellers who are dedicated to building any experience, large or small.

 

Honey would not exist today without the creativity, dedication and hard work of Proctor. We recently sat down with the firm to reflect on the experience of working together to create Honey.

Illuminate Colorado: Why did you decide to take on this project?

Proctor Productions: Building and modifying vehicles for clients is very familiar territory for us, but this was something truly special. We initially met with Jade and Joan about their needs and quickly realized the meaning behind what they were trying to do, and instantly knew this was something we could get behind and believe in as well. We have children and families too, so upon hearing their idea of creating this program to take child care to the people who may need it the most to help and heal, we were in. We’re passionate about all the projects we do, but we’re especially proud of the work we’ve done with Illuminate Colorado.

Illuminate: What was your favorite part about working on Honey?

Proctor: That’s a tough question to answer because we really do love every aspect of the work we do; problem solving, custom solutions, artwork, fabrication, all of it. Each member of our teams are specialists on at least one thing, so there are details and elements throughout Honey that of course are favorites, but we honestly have to say that the relationship we have built with Illuminate may be our favorite part of it all and the best example of the project effort. The high level of collaboration we began with continues to be a fundamental of the work to this day.

Illuminate: What part of the renovation are you most proud of?

Proctor: As we said, we have teams of specialists that all bring value to our projects, but one part of the renovation effort we are most proud of is definitely all the custom woodworking, cabinetry, and interior vehicle elements our fabrication team completed inside Honey. The aesthetic is so complete with such accuracy and specificity that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the original vehicle portions and anything new we added to complete the interior functions needed. The finishes and build quality are just so spot-on, Honey’s interior looks like it has always only ever been the wonderful mobile child care classroom it is now. Again, we love it all, but are very proud of that team and the end results.

Illuminate: What was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome?

Proctor: We don’t see obstacles, only opportunities for solutions, whatever they may ultimately be. Fortunately, Illuminate sourced a relatively newer RV motor coach in excellent condition as a great point from which to start the project. But there are always unknowns when working with an existing vehicle or mobile platform and those unknowns can definitely be the most challenging to address once you get into the bones of what you’ll really be working with. Honey was already a well-built vehicle with existing hydraulic, pneumatic, gas, electrical, and plumbing systems to design around and integrate with, so considering all those factors was the biggest challenge in accomplishing everything we wanted to in the project. Everything is achievable, it just takes the appropriate amount of time and effort to do it the right way.

Illuminate: Is there anything you learned when it came to how trauma-informed care can impact design?

Proctor: Yes, definitely. We always begin our process with design thinking and asking the right questions to ultimately address the real needs that may be present, but designing for both adult teachers and little kiddos in the classrooms heavily influenced our thinking and final intent. Among many of the things we learned throughout this process, with guidance from Illuminate, we educated ourselves on, and implemented the guiding principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment in the classroom wherever we could. Where this influence is most visible is in the forms, shapes, sizes, and placement of elements inside the vehicle. Everything needed to be appropriate and useful to the adults operating the program as drivers, activation staff, and most importantly as teachers. Moreover, it needed to be appropriate for, and compliant with the developmental needs of the infants and toddlers that will be receiving care in the classrooms. Everything from access to toys, books, safe sleeping areas, to colors, artwork, and lighting were considered when designing and creating the interior environment of Honey.

Illuminate: Anything else you’d like to add?

Proctor: Absolutely. It was very important to the entire team from the beginning that this program be accessible to as many families who need help as possible, and one of the ways we could facilitate that access was through the look and feel of the program branding, and especially how the vehicle appears from the exterior and inside as well. We wanted to achieve a balance of Illuminate Colorado’s branding and recognition, but also add some personality and character to this fleet of mobile child care classrooms. We created a look with all the artwork that contains familiar Colorado elements but also some fun and whimsical elements for the kids. And to do that we’ve got a group of bears bringing that personality to life on this vehicle, which it’s named HONEY. HONEY is truly unique in leading the way of how families will experience mobile child care, and our bears are symbolically versatile and can be whatever anyone imagines: a teacher and children, a parent interacting with kids, or parents just hanging out with kiddos. We want to extend educational opportunities to children and make all families feel welcomed, so HONEY represents these family voices in our state of Colorado through it’s bears and mountains. 

We are so grateful for Proctor’s partnership on this project. To learn more about Proctor Productions, visit their website at proctorproductions.com.

Illuminate Colorado to receive $630,000 Contract For Innovative Child Care Pilot at Addiction Treatment Services Programs

Illuminate Colorado to receive $630,000 Contract For Innovative Child Care Pilot at Addiction Treatment Services Programs

Open Minds reports today, Illuminate Colorado Awarded $430,000 Contract For Addiction Treatment Pilot Program, ultimately the final total contract amount will be just under $630,000.

“We are very excited to continue to advance innovative child care services in Colorado to help reduce barriers and stigma to accessing care for families impacted by substance use disorders. With public and private partnership, Illuminate is hopeful that we will significantly prevent child maltreatment in Colorado, “ said Jade Woodard executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Child Care.jpg

In addition to the $630,000 provided by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Illuminate has received a $750,000 multi-year grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to pilot this new and innovative type of child care in Colorado with a focus on serving families with children ages 0-5. The three-year mobile child care pilot will begin in 2020 in two regions, serving multiple substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities in order to meet the immediate needs of caregivers accessing SUD treatment. Illuminate has plans to expand the pilot by outfitting motor-homes into infant/toddler classrooms to visit treatment centers around the state to provide child care to parents seeking support for substance use disorders.

Read the entire article from Open Minds

Pin It on Pinterest