Nebraska childcare providers are making headlines. Today, we bring you a success story from Buffalo County’s Rooted in Relationships initiative and a provider named Rachel Pierce, the owner of Creative Kids Child Care.
Rooted’s evidence-based strategies support caregivers and children up to the age of eight to create healthy social-emotional relationships. These strategies increase the quality of these important bonds during a particularly important time in a child’s life, while decreasing challenging behaviors.
Before we begin Rachel’s story, we’d like to emphasize the importance of supporting childcare programs and providers. The fact is our economy depends on childcare for families to hold jobs, and for children to thrive during these crucial years.
As of late, an estimated 75% of our state’s children under age six are enrolled in some form of early care or education program. Rooted in Relationships supports providers like Rachel so that these crucial professionals reach their full potential.
Not only do childcare providers and programs permit families to work and continue to drive our state’s economic success, but early care builds a foundation for our next generation of young professionals. During our children’s pivotal years, providers pave the way for our children’s essential social and cognitive abilities, which are imperative for their future success!
Rooted’s coaches, who are trained early childhood professionals, find ways to assess and work with caregivers to ensure that they feel supported.
When Rachel first attended Rooted trainings, she knew she was skilled and enjoyed working with children. She also knew, like any devoted professional, that she wanted to grow her talents even more. With that realization came another one.
“When I looked into doing [Rooted trainings], I was in a complete rut. My childcare was completely consuming my home and my life. It was a constant battle daily to convince the kiddos to put toys away, how to share, and be kind to others. My environment was a hodgepodge of chaos. I had nothing labeled; I just expected the kids to know that the cars went in the green tote. Sounds silly to write that now!” she said.
Rachel said that as a result, she found herself experiencing feelings of irritation. She knew the changes she wanted to make; she just needed to find a support system. She also struggled with self-care, too.
“The days lasted forever. I would get frustrated so easily and really had nowhere to look for advice, no one to help ‘fill my cup.’ I longed for that person to be on my team and to give me guidance. I had that mindset that a kiddo was just going through a ‘phase,’ or that’s just how the child would be because the expectations at home were different than my own. I felt like their behaviors were out of my control to change,” she said.
Luckily, thanks to her determination and a little help from Rooted, things DID change. Rachel attended the trainings, which provide an in-depth series of modules, including the implementation of the Pyramid model.
“I am grateful beyond belief to be a part of Rooted,” said Rachel. “This program is just what I personally needed for my business. The coaching is stress-relieving; the trainings have been very resourceful and informative.”
Rachel said she came to yet another realization from the trainings. She rapidly saw that the environment that she created inside and outside of herself, was correlated to her children’s behavior.
“[Childcare] environment and mindset are tied!” She said.
Prior to attending Rooted trainings, Rachel was always dedicated and eager to learn, but like any professional, she encountered some challenges, including occasionally feeling alone throughout her days with the children.
“I am an in-home provider and being a one-man-show isn’t always easy,” she said. “Prior to Rooted in Relationships, I struggled with burn-out rather quickly. I didn’t fully understand how to curb behaviors, or when I was frustrated, I had to call on the same person for advice. I used time-outs, and thought challenging behaviors were ‘just a phase; they’ll grow out of it.’”
As Rachel continued to participate in Rooted trainings, she noticed not only positive changes within herself but her children as well. In addition to feeling supported by the coaches and engaged with the trainings, she appreciates the culture and relationships she has built with her fellow participants.
“I have met many new friends during the collaboration meetings,” she said.
Rachel said that the comradery and support from her coach have continued to help her navigate and alleviate challenging behaviors. When asked to elaborate on a specific success story, Rachel said one child in her care sprang to mind.
“Before beginning [Rooted], I had a little girl join us. This girl’s mom chose to make the move to my childcare after her child had, on multiple occasions, been sent home for biting at her previous center,” said Rachel.
Rachel said that she immediately understood that the child’s behavior may have been her only way to express herself.
“The child could not verbalize her emotions and used biting as a way to show she was mad,” she said.
Initially, Rachel took gentle action to try to stop the biting, but she still encountered some difficulties.
“[With] my current knowledge at the time, I was able to break the biting habit, but it quickly turned into hitting,” she said.
From there, Rachel worked with her coach, Roxanne Vipond, and applied the knowledge she gained from trainings to good effect.
“I was able to teach this now two-and-half-year-old how she can use her words to say, ‘I don’t like that, that makes me mad!’ instead of biting or hitting her friends,” said Rachel.
Although Rachel has always skillfully managed any problems which arose and says she is lucky to have a wonderful group of children, she maintains gratitude for the way Rooted has lessened her frustration and fatigue.
“All in all, I have to brag that I have had a pretty awesome group of kiddos over these past seven years,” she said. “I have never really had a behavior that I couldn’t work with, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get frustrated in the process! After starting RIR I have noticed that the kiddos’ behaviors have changed for the best, all because I was making changes too!” she said.
Rachel said Rooted also provided her with some valuable materials and go-tos, which have strengthened her already-quality home childcare business. Best of all, Rachel continues to see the children thriving, emulating her positive behaviors, and even leading by example!
“I have learned that visuals are a must (schedules, feelings charts, and expectations). Now that the kiddos know what I expect of them, they have started showing concern when their friends are making bad choices. They will even take their friend by the hand over to our rules posted on the wall, and explain to them which rule they aren’t following, and how to make better choices! They also know how to label their emotions and have more respect for myself and their friends,” she said.
Rachel also said that the incentives and grants that are a part of Rooted have helped her as well.
“The incentives and grants have been a huge resource in getting my childcare what we need to better our environment,” she said.
Happily, Rachel isn’t the only one who is enjoying the benefits of Rooted; her kids are, too!
“The kiddos were elated to dig through our new books, mirrors, and other surprises,” she said.
Rachel expressed her gratitude, stating, “Thank you so much for having these resources available to me! It’s truly appreciated!”