While some educators may not see creative thinking as a pure skill, Miriam Clifford touts in her article “30 Ideas to Promote Creativity in Learning” that creativity is “less a trait and more a proficiency that can be taught.” If you are thinking that you’re not creative and this is not a skill you’ll easily pick up, don’t be fooled. We all have the potential to be creative.

So, let’s be part of this paradigm shift in not only how we teach but also in how we ourselves think. If you’re feeling anxious about stepping out of your comfort zone, Janelle Cox of the TeachHub.com says that knowing the simple habits of other creative teachers can help you get there, including:

  • Taking Risks
  • Being Open-Minded
  • Using Resources Around You to Help Create New, Innovative Ideas
  • Talking to Other Teachers to Get Feedback on New Ideas
  • Embracing New Teaching & Learning Styles

So, while you’re working on your own creative skills and stretching yourself professionally, there are a few quick tips and tricks you can do in your classroom to inspire creativity...

Regardless of our role or position, a common theme among most early childhood educators is the idea that we love being around kids. We love seeing that light bulb go off when our students learn something new or click that puzzle piece into place. We love watching them discover.

But it isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs. Teaching and caring for children is a grind. Parents complain and struggle with their own kids, which on average is 1.9 kids per household, according to Statista. Imagine 12-15 or even 20 at a time. Try wrangling all of them into jackets to go outside or opening 20 juice boxes at one time. There are plenty of glamorous, proud moments as a child care provider. There are equally plenty of moments where you stop and think: why did I think this was a great career choice for me again?!

If you find yourself feeling like there may be more bad days than good, you are not alone. The ebb and flow of loving (or leaving) your job is normal, regardless of your career choice. When you find yourself eyeing the other side of the fence, don’t jump it just yet. The grass typically isn’t greener. Take a step back and get some perspective so as to improve your job satisfaction and perhaps even your work/life balance.

Free White Paper
Best Practices for Managing Difficult Parents

Whether you are a veteran teacher, center director or staff member, at some point in your career as a childcare worker, you will encounter difficult-to-please parents.  Learn how to handle tough conversations about a child’s behavior, build healthy relationships, and avoid unpleasant interactions with even the most difficult-to-please parents.

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Whether you are a veteran teacher, principal or other administrator at a preschool, day care center, or after school care program, at some point in time, you will encounter difficult-to-please parents. It has the potential to be one of the most stressful parts of working in childcare. Parents often believe that because they are paying for a service their standards are the only standards that matter, and they expect you to meet those standards.

Sometimes those expectations are reasonable, but many times they are not. Issues that pertain to a child’s behavior, health, or performance can be a minefield of potential perceived offenses and adventures in denial. After a number of these run-ins and difficult conversations, it’s natural for childcare workers to face future conversations with dread (or in some cases just avoid them entirely.)

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve pulled together years of experience and advice from teachers and administrators like you that will help you put your best foot forward and work with even your most difficult-to-please parents consistently and professionally.

Do you consider the parents of your preschool, day care center, or after school program to be enemies or allies? Have you ever even thought about it? Maybe you have some of each. The ultimate goal is to make them all allies.

Going to war with a challenging parent is a battle you will never win. Yet, how do you win over the tough ones? Ask for their feedback. That’s it.

Provide all parents (especially the challenging ones) an opportunity for feedback. At the end of the day, we all want to be heard. If you regularly take time to listen and then make and execute an action plan, you can have a winning ally in each of your parents.

Partnering with parents and seeing them as an ally is vital to any center’s success. Allies work with you, not against you. They have your back during times of need or struggle. Thus, this partnership requires regular back and forth communication. The easiest way to encourage that is through surveys, newsletters, and informal conferences when time permits. Understanding areas that your center’s parents value and ensuring that you meet their standards today will save you a lot of unnecessary battles down the road.

Implementing a successful feedback program for your parents doesn't have to be challenging or time consuming. Click to see the 3 steps you'll need to take to get a parent feedback program off the ground for your child care center.

So your child care center culture is struggling to retain employees, and staff member turnover is at an all-time high. Don’t worry! The good news is that recognizing and admitting there is a problem is the first step.

In a hiring climate like the one we're in now where there's an enormous shortage of talented childcare workers, you should never EVER ignore your team when they tell you there's a toxic culture at your center. Letting a toxic culture persist, or being dismissive of childcare worker complaints about colleagues or the work environment will lead to employee attrition, under-performance, and inefficiency.

While you may think complaints you're getting from your employees are the result of enforcing workplace rules and holding your staff accountable. Maybe you look at your team and think that gossip, cliques, poor benefits, and other less obvious issues are the culprit. While these will all play some role, the biggest source of child care center cultural influence sits at the top of the organization -- with you. Truth.

In Meghan E. Butler’s article “How to fix your toxic culture,” Shahnaz Broucek, a professor of coaching and mentoring for MBA students at the University of Michigan, notes that “leadership sets the tone of the workplace culture and acceptable behavior patterns.” Leaders set the tone. Whether the leader of your childcare business is the administrator, team leader, or a mentor, those in leadership roles carry the burden of ensuring a positive, healthy culture for everyone else. 

Now that we know who’s leading the charge around culture, what can you do to fix it?!