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Conference Takeaways: Washington Family Child Care Association Conference

October 30, 2019

One of the things that I believe is important for child care leaders is that we never stop learning. A large part of my job includes keeping up to date with what's happening in the child care world. Recently I got to hear from one of the leaders in the industry at the Washington State Family Childcare Association Conference, and today I want to share with you what I took away. 

Jeff Johnson, who spent over 25 years working in child care, shared his beliefs on how we can help engage children and improve the quality of our centers. If you've never heard Jeff talk, I'll tell you he is very animated and a gifted speaker and storyteller. Jeff has done a great job of taking his experience and using it to help others grow. I've got so much to learn from him!

Today I'm going to share with you 4 big takeaways from the conference. I believe that these four points will help you transform your center and the quality of care that you offer. 

Here we go!


1. Balance what bothers you vs. what inspires you

At the conference, this was talked about in much detail. As child care professionals, we all have things that bug us. Maybe late parents, sick kids, people who don't pay, or lazy teachers. If we aren't careful, these things can get under our skin and infect our work environment!


On the contrary, we need to remain present to what inspires us and feed into that more. Maybe you go to work to pay the bills or to give back to the kids or because you believe in the impact that you are having. It's so important to remember these things daily and feed that more than the rather.


2. Relationships are Essential

It's common in child care classrooms that the kids we have spent more quality time with us rather than their own parents or close family. The relationship bond that you get to create with each child in your care is unique and so valuable. We never know the full impact that our relationships can have, and that can make it hard. Also, remember that not all kids will connect with everyone. When you can let the child lead in which teacher managed most of their care. Bonding is so important, and when it can be child-led, it's powerful!


3. The Importance of Play

Over time, we as adults have limited our children's access to imaginary play by introducing close-ended toys. Open play is led by the child and not determined by the adult. Often the best way to start this out is to remove all objects from and room and only give the kids what they ask for. You'd be surprised as to how little they need or even want. Things like tables and chairs will be the last thing on their minds. When we allow kids to use their imagination in play, they grow and learn in ways we can't even understand. So much of the learning is the process. 


4. Storytelling is Key

In history, storytelling was the only way information was passed on from generation to generation, over time, we have lost the art. Storytelling is so powerful for young kids because it allows them to dream and deal with sometimes scary things in a safe way. A great way to get your child's imagination working us to start by storytelling. Use things they are interested in and even insert their names into the story of you can. Storytelling is an excellent tool for the imagination and will enhance their open-ended play opportunities.

Final notes

I hope that you found these four takeaways helpful. If you ever have the chance to hear Jeff speak or listen to his podcast, I'd highly recommend it. The key is to never stop learning and growing. We have so much to learn from each other. Stay in community with people whom you admire and are doing the work too. If you're looking for a community in the childcare industry, please reach out!

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Julia Erman
Customer Advocate
Julia Erman was previously a Director of School Programs. She is now working with Sandbox as a Customer Advocate to help centers grow and reach their goals with the help of Sandbox.
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